By Audrey Spencer
Killeen Daily Herald
LAMPASAS - Pillar Bluff Vineyards Inc. won four medals at this year's 2011 Wines of the South competition in Knoxville, Tenn., including a Double Gold Medal for its 2009 Texas Merlot.
The double gold, or "Concordance Gold Medal," is awarded to a wine that receives a gold-evaluation from each judge in the 25-judge panel.
The vineyard's 2010 Tempranillo and 2010 Orange Muscat received silver medals, and a 2007 Bordeaux Blend received a bronze medal.
Pillar Bluff Vineyards has entered the Wines of the South competition for the last three years and has won more than 20 medals. This year it entered five wines. The "non-typical" chardonnay, which is fermented in stainless steel, did not gain judge's favor.
"Some judges aren't ready to give up the oak and butter flavor," said Gill Bledsoe, proprietor of Pillar Bluff Vineyards.
The Wines of the South competition invites wineries from 14 southern states, including Virginia, Texas, Florida and Arkansas. Winemakers send samples of their product to Nashville, where they compete against a wine-quality standard.
"There's not a single gold, silver or bronze medal," said Bledsoe, "A very small percentage of total wines submitted will see double gold status."
After winning awards for wine, Bledsoe added a timber frame over the tasting bar at the Lampasas winery to start displaying the medals.
The year's drought took a toll on Bledsoe's vineyard, cutting the yield by 30 percent, but the quality of his product hasn't suffered.
"The quality of the wine is very good," he said. "I'd put the double gold Merlot against any wine in the country."
Bledsoe opened the vineyard in 1999 and began to sell wine in 2002. The tasting room is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and sees between 50 and 100 people a weekend, Bledsoe said.
"If you ask someone on the street in Lampasas, there's probably a 50-50 chance that they will have heard of us," he said.
The vineyard and tasting room is at 300 Burnet County Road 111. Directions and more information can be found at www.pillarbluff.com.
Contact Audrey Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7476.