Wineries throughout Contra Costa County will now have the chance to enter their wine in the Central Coast Wine Competition, thanks to the efforts of the Contra Costa County Fair and the Contra Costa County Winegrowers Association.

For years only part of the county was included in the prestigious annual competition, but at this June's annual judging, all Contra Costa County commercial wineries can enter.

"In previous years the fair didn't get involved in the competition because not everyone in the county could join," Robert Williamson, Contra Costa County Fair CEO, said.

Williamson believes that this chance to enter local wineries will be a great opportunity for the winemakers as the competition is well-regarded and does a host of activities throughout the fair circuit, drawing a lot of exposure that the small wineries would have a hard time getting otherwise.

"We are thrilled to add one more location for the award-winning wines to be displayed," Bob Foster, chief judge, said. "Contra Costa County winemakers are making some superb wines from the grapes grown in the region. Our panel of judges are anxious to evaluate wines from another segment of the Central Coast AVA."

The Central Coast Wine Competition is the largest evaluation event for wines produced exclusively on California's Central Coast. It is hosted by five Central Coast fairs: the California Mid-State Fair, Santa Barbara County Fair, Monterey County Fair, Ventura County Fair, San Benito County Fair and the Grand National in San Francisco. With the addition of Contra Costa County, the region of grape growing will expand slightly outside the Central Coast American Viticultural Area to include all parts of the county, which according to the association is why the whole county had not been included in the past.

Since the competition does not take place until June 12 and 13 this year, the Contra Costa County Fair plans to show the display of winners at the 2014 fair. The Contra Costa Winegrowers Association plans to bring in local wine tasting at the fair this year, which will take place before the competition May 30 to June 2.

Any of the commercial wine growers in the county can enter their wine in the competition; however, at least 75 percent of the grapes need to be grown in Contra Costa County. Contra Costa County growers yield about 8,500 tons of grapes per year.

The 2013 Central Coast Wine Competition features an internationally renowned panel of judges including wine writers, winemakers, sommeliers and wine buyers. New this year all Gold Medal wines will receive a point score, as well as, the medal award.

For a complete list of judges, further information regarding the competition and to submit online entries, please refer to the competition's blog at www.centralcoastwinecomp.com. Entries will be accepted through May 24.

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