Best of Class Gold!!!
New York State’s Own Coyote Moon Vineyards Brings Home
Best of Class Gold at “the Largest Competition of American Wines in the World”
By Christina LaParr and Valerie Hickman
When Kristina Randazzo Ives, of Coyote Moon Vineyards, answered the phone, she was shocked and speechless — the director of the San Francisco Wine Chronicle called her personally to share the good news. Kristina looked up at Amy Getman, the Tasting Room Manager, with wide eyes and exclaimed, "Marquette took Best of Class at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition! I have to call my dad (Phil Randazzo of Coyote Moon Vineyards)!” When Kristina called her father, she asked him if he wanted some exciting news, and he said, “Sure, I could use some good news, what's up?” Kristina, trying to hold back her excitement declared, "Marquette just won Best of Class at the Chronicle in San Francisco!” Her father, not sure of what he had just heard, asked Kristina to repeat herself. Again Kristina explained that Marquette had just won Best of Class, and Phil asked "Really, in San Francisco?” Kristina again shouted yes to which Phil replied, after a moment of silence, "That is the best news I’ve heard all day!" When she hung up the phone, she looked at Amy and asked, "Do you know what this means?” Amy smiling back said, “Yes I do!” Kristina excitedly exclaimed, “Marquette is on the map! ‘Breaking all the rules!’”
Jim Trezise, President of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation observed that "[t]his award is a major accomplishment for Coyote Moon Vineyards, the Thousand Islands region, and the future of cold climate varieties like Marquette. The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition is one of the country's best, so this is a real feather in [Coyote Moon’s] cap. Last year Coyote Moon won numerous Gold medals and "Best of Class" awards in other major competitions as well, showing their consistency of quality and the pleasing taste of their wines. Ten years ago, no one thought of the Thousand Islands as a wine region, but the industry's growth and results like these have put it on the map."
For the past nine years the San Francisco Chronicle’s Competition has been revered as “the largest competition of American wines in the world.” This year 65 judges critiqued 5,500 wines and awarded Coyote Moon Vineyards with medals for Marquette, Fireboat Red, Brianna, La Crescent, Twisted Sister, Frontenac, River Time, and River Run. Marquette not only won Gold, but was also awarded Best of Class Gold. These recent 2012 honors bring Coyote Moon Vineyards’ award total to 233 medals from national and international wine competitions since opening its doors in 2009.
Marquette, La Crescent, Brianna, Frontenac, Frontenac Gris, and Frontenac Blanc are cold hardy grape varietals developed by the University of Minnesota. These grapes are able to thrive in shorter growing seasons and withstand temperatures below -30 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes it ideal for the Randazzo Family to grow these grape varietals in the North Country where sub-freezing temperatures are common. Coyote Moon Vineyards has over 16 acres of grapevines, making it the largest vineyard in Jefferson County and are planning on planting two more acres of cold hardy grapes. To ensure they continually produce exceptional grapes, the Randazzo family has opened their vineyards to Cornell University to collaboratively evaluate the different styles of growing techniques. This additional insight of how to grow the cold hardy vines has only added to the Randazzos’ intuitive winemaking ability and passion that has been passed down through generations of winemakers.
Dr. Tim Martinson, Head of the New York State Viticulture Extension Program and faculty at Cornell University, has been very impressed with the growth of cold hardy grapes in the North Country. According to Dr. Martinson, it is well known that the Finger Lake grapes would either do poorly or die in the North Country. The cold hardy grapes are making it possible for the North Country Vineyards to exist, and have likewise spawned a great deal of economic growth in the area. Dr. Martinson also pointed out that sometimes it can be difficult for a new winery to make clean wine, noting that “it’s wonderful that after only two to three years of business Phil Randazzo is producing such nice clean wine correctly without flaws.” Dr. Martinson believes that “[w]hat Phil Randazzo and the other guys are doing is really at the start of doing things and the best is yet to come.” Dr. Martinson is excited and looking forward to working with the Northern New York Grape Growers Association, various universities, and other wine makers to further explore the possibilities of cold hardy grape varietals.
Of all the cold hardy grapes grown at Coyote Moon Vineyards, Marquette has meant something special to the Randazzos. So special, in fact, that a single rosebush is planted at the end of each row to symbolize the strength and the beauty of the Marquette grape and the important role it plays in the vineyard. “We often joke that our father takes better care of his Marquette than of us,” laughed Kristina Randazzo Ives. Through passion, determination, and collaboration with other local grape growers, Coyote Moon Vineyards is helping these grapes create a legacy for the North Country.
When it came time to transform such a special Marquette grape into wine the Randazzos did so with excitement and trepidation. The Marquette grape symbolized limitless possibilities and the potential to introduce wine drinkers from all over the world to a new style of dry red wine made from grapes that grow very well in the North Country. What they created exceeded their wildest expectations – a wine with impossible depth, staggering flavors, and incredible aromas. Its distinctive bouquet can be attributed in part to the graceful methods the Randazzos used to craft this varietal. Their unique process involves lightly oaking the wine in three different types of barrels, some costing upwards of $999, to layer in complexity while accentuating the flavor of the grape. When Phil Randazzo was asked if he would reveal his secret to creating an American Best of Class Wine he responded, "I spared no expense with this wine. I used French and Hungarian Oak barrels, high quality glass bottles from the United States - not China - real cork closures, and the finest yeast and nutrients money can buy." The real secret may be in the songs he is often found singing to his vines late in the evenings.
Whether you have been a wine lover for 20 years or two days, you will be hard pressed not to relish in the smooth complexities of Coyote Moon Vineyards Marquette. Imagine the aroma of chocolate-covered caramel blended with vanilla and spice luring you to your wine glass. As the wine passes over your lips, savor the delicacies of warm black cherries, raspberries and hints of spice as the flavors caress your taste buds. You may want to stop there and revel in the moment, but indulge yourself with a second sip. You will be glad you did as silky smooth flavors of chocolate-drizzled popcorn, caramel and spice arise to envelop your senses. With such layers of complexity it is no surprise that in a recent competition of thousands of wines Coyote Moon Vineyards’ Marquette brought home the coveted Best of Class Gold Medal Award from the San Francisco Chronicle’s prestigious Wine Competition.
When asked what this latest Gold Medal means, Phil Randazzo remarked, “The fact that our wines have won so many New York State and local competitions has been such a rewarding experience and we truly feel blessed. We just love helping North Country growers and wineries gain recognition! When we decided to enter the big league competitions with our cold hardy varieties, we already knew that our wines were doing great regionally, but were excited to see how they would fare competing against wines from some of the oldest and largest wineries in the United States. To our surprise even at the national level, all of our wines were awarded medals, but not just any medals! Twisted Sister (Frontenac) took home Best of Glass Gold honors at both the Long Beach Gran Cru in California and the Los Angles International Competition. This past year, Brianna has been awarded Best of Class Gold in the LA International, a Double Gold in the prestigious New York Food, and Wine Classic and Gold medals in the Long Beach Gran Cru and the San Francisco International Wine Competition. Brianna also took home Gold against its own cold hardy grapes in the International Cold Climate Wine Competition. La Crescent continues to strike gold at competitions such as the New York State Fair, the Consumer Wine Awards in Lodi, California, the Long Beach Gran Cru, and the International Eastern Wine Competition. Now, with our Marquette winning the San Francisco Chronicle’s Best of Class Gold we are just blown away! Our wines are consistently winning Gold Medals at the national and international levels and that is beyond amazing. Coyote Moon now is one of the most medal-winning wineries in all of New York State. It is important to note that all of our North Country Wineries are doing an excellent job; our Thousand Island Seaway Wine Trail is now the second largest tourist attraction behind Boldt Castle. We are thankful for all the support we have received from our community and neighbors both near and far.”
Coyote Moon Vineyards on East Line Road in Clayton is host to several events throughout the year and offers free awarding-winning wine tastings daily. Stop by today to try their full line of award-winning wines. For more information visit: www.coyotemoonvineyards.com.