BLANCO — A San Juan County winery has once again brought home international accolades.
Wines of the San Juan won six awards for six of their locally produced wines at last month's Finger Lakes International Wine Competition in Rochester, N.Y. The winery has also won awards at the competition in two other years.
"We were pretty excited," said Josh Arnold, a winemaker at the Blanco winery, of the recent awards.
Wines of the San Juan competed against nearly 3,800 wines from 20 different countries at the annual competition. The 75 judges for the annual event hailed from 14 different countries.
But Arnold remains modest about his products winning at an international competition.
"I guess we did a pretty good job," he said during a tour of the winery on Wednesday.
Like world-renowned wines, he said, his family's wines start with the quality of the grapes. Some are grown at the winery's vineyard, but the majority of the grapes come from southern New Mexico, Arnold said.
"Wine is actually made in the vineyard. Once it gets here, you really just guide the process," he said.
When the grapes arrive in late summer, the winemakers begin the process of creating more than 10,000 gallons of wine in variations between reds and whites.
"It's trial and error," Arnold said, of creating a good-tasting wine.
He regularly attends seminars to learn more about his trade, which he's worked at since the family opened the winery in 2002.
"We must be doing something right," he said, adding that every time he has sent wines to be judged in competitions, they have won at least a bronze medal.
His father, David Arnold, owns the winery and he bought the property in 1999.
"There was just trash and barking dogs here," he said when he bought the property, which spans nearly 40 acres.
The 71-year-old said he wanted to farm and figured a winery would allow him to continue that love, which he's done for most of his life.
But even as his wines have earned more awards, David Arnold said it's still tough to market his mid-priced wines, which run about $15 a bottle, to local win drinkers.
He said Wines of the San Juan makes wine that is comparable to wines from all over the world.
"We're a real winery. We do make wines for an educated palate," he said.
He added education about different wines and specific flavors helps with sales.
Josh Arnold realizes other wines have generations of winemakers and hundreds of years behind their labels, but the Wines of the San Juan has a story, too, he said.
"To me, our story is we're very concerned about the quality of our wine," he said.
The following is a list of Wines of the San Juan wines that won awards at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition in New York.
· Muscat Alexander, 2013
· Shiraz/Syrah, Rebel Star, 2010
· Tempranillo, 2010
The following won silver medals:
· Chardonnay, 2013
· Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011
· Serendipity Merlot, 2011Erny Zah is The Daily Times business editor. He can be reached at 505-564-4638.and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @ernyzah on Twitter.