Wine judges prefer cork closures at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair

A review of gold medal winners shows a growing popularity of cork closures.

The Sonoma County Harvest Fair hosts one of California’s oldest and most prestigious wine competitions. This year’s competition included over 1,000 wines made from Sonoma County grapes. Gold medals were awarded to 344 wines. Of gold medals awarded, 321 went to wines finished with cork (93%). The remaining 23 wines were finished in screwcap closures. The percentage of cork finished wines has been remarkably consistent over the past five years, ranging between 92% and 94% of the total gold medals awarded. Our survey did not find any gold medal wines finished with synthetic closures.

Consumer research consistently demonstrates that wine drinkers perceive cork finished wines to have superior quality than wines offering alternative closures. In a 2011 study of consumer attitudes toward wine packaging, Rebecca Bleibaum of Tragon reported “an overwhelming 93% of consumers agree that natural cork conveys wines of high or very high quality. This was 3 times higher than synthetic closures and 9 times higher than screw cap.”

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