Naked Behind the Scenes

Winemaker of the Year 2015 Nominees

The voting is closed for Winemaker of the Year 2015. It’s very very exciting to see all the front runners and I cannot wait to find out the winners.

We’re going to have a big party at the Kenwood winery where we’ll announce the winners in each category.

And remember the 4 winners will take home a combined $1 million in Angel funding to make any wine they want! So this is a huuuge deal for the winemakers (not just a little golden trophy to put on the mantle).

Winemaker of the Year 2015 short list

Prize: $400,000 in Angel funding
  • Stephen de Wet
  • Matt Parish
  • Carmen Stevens

Top Shelf Wine of the Year 2015 short list

Prize: $200,000 in Angel funding
  • Camille Benitah Cabernet Sauvginon Napa Valley 2013
  • DRG Daryl Rex Groom Highmark Ridge Russian River Pinot Noir 2014
  • Scott McLeod Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Valley 2013

Sweet Spot Wine of the Year 2015 short list

Prize: $200,000 in Angel funding
  • Jacqueline Bahue Cabernet Franc Sonoma County 2013
  • DRG Daryl Groom Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 2013
  • Scott McLeod Cabernet blend Pilot Hill Gang 2013

Best Bang for Buck Wine of the Year 2015 short list

Prize: $200,000 in Angel funding
  • David Akiyoshi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Clarksburg 2012
  • F. Stephen Millier Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
  • Carlos Rodriguez Trigales Seleccion Barrica

How the front runners are selected

Winemakers win these prizes based completely on customer ratings and their interaction with those customers. The winemakers rally thousands and thousands of Angels over the course of 2015 to determine the winner of these prestigious awards.

For the data nerds, this is how everything gets calculated:

For wine of the year awards, we start with the wines that were available in 2015 and sold at least 1000 bottles. They are broken into different categories based on their cost of production and Angel pricing.

Then we look at the simplest thumbs up, thumbs down rating the wine received (which we call the Buy It Again rating). We look only at ratings from customers who specifically ordered this wine. This ignores ratings from customers who received the wine as part of a premixed case. That’s because those ratings don’t always represent the wine’s quality.

When we include those ratings, it adds a lot of noise and extreme data. On the other hand, the BIA rating for people who specifically order a wine on purpose as opposed to as part of a premixed case is very consistent data.

For the winemaker of the year, we look at all the winemakers with at least 2 wines available in 2015, and give them a score based on the customer ratings for all their wines that year as well as how interactive they are with their Angels.

To my knowledge, this is the biggest winemaker of the year award decided entirely by normal wine drinkers. Although many of our winemakers have racked up a lot of winemaker of the year titles from other publications, they’re all excited to vie to be the people’s choice!

The shortlists above name the top contenders for each prize in some semblance of alphabetical order by the winemakers’ last names.

drawing of oscar statuette holding bottle of wine, not the actual prize for winemaker of the year
It’s like the Oscars for wine.

How does the prize money work?

When winemakers win, they get to make their dream wine.

So each category gets a big prize: $400k for the winemaker of the year and $200k for each of the Wine of the Year awards. The winemakers get to make any wine they want with that money (and they’re encouraged to stick to the average volume of 2,500 cases of wine) but it’s their prize so they can do it however they like.

When is the winemaker of the year award ceremony?

Ceremony is a big word, but we’re having a delicious lunch on Friday March 18th. Around 2 in the afternoon, we’ll hand out the trophies (which are awesome – we’ll post pics later).

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to learn about the winners as soon as they’re announced!

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