The 2020 National Wine Awards of Canada are Postponed

The judging of the 20th Anniversary Edition of the National Wine Awards of Canada has been postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The sessions were to be held the week of June 24 to 28 in Penticton, British Columbia. Still, with so many moving parts, from processing entries and shipping wines to confirming hotel rooms and flights, the Judging Committee has made the difficult decision not to go ahead at this time. The intention is to meet again at the end of April to consider new dates late in 2020 or to skip a year and come back strong in 2021.

“The judging is not a public event, but spending five days with a group of over twenty judges and just as many backroom volunteers would not be safe,” said co-chief judge Anthony Gismondi. “We were anticipating about 1900 entries causing us to use, wash and re-use some 2000 glasses per day. That’s a lot of handling, and there is no way to do it safely with the current physical distancing measures in place.”

The National Wine Awards of Canada is the most extensive judging of Canadian wine in the country, a five-day event that brings together 20-plus of Canada’s best tasters from provinces across the country, as well as international judges. Each year the venue alternates between B.C. and either Ontario or Nova Scotia in eastern Canada. If the 2020 Awards are cancelled outright, for the 2021 Awards the intention is that they will remain in B.C.

Each year eligibility spans three or four recent vintages, depending on the style/type of wine. Accordingly, we would adjust eligible years if the awards are delayed until 2021 so that any wine that would miss its window of eligibility in 2020 would get its chance to be judged next year.

“The Nationals has become an important event for Canadian wineries,” said co-chief judge David Lawrason. “Last year 259 wineries and cideries entered, and many won awards that not only provided validation of their efforts but became prominent in the marketing of their wines. So, in the meantime, I encourage wineries to submit samples for review at WineAlign, especially new releases. We can set up physically distanced tasting at our office in Toronto. We will not be “awarding” wines, but the reviews should still be useful to both consumers and wineries. Wineries will be receiving more detailed instructions on submitting samples in the days ahead.”

Meanwhile, WineAlign is asking all in its family of judges and volunteers to stay home, stay safe and follow the directions of local provincial and federal health organizations and governments.

The National Wine Awards of Canada