Results of the 2019 National Wine Awards of Canada

The WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada (NWAC), the country’s largest competition of Canadian wines, is held annually in June. Each year, somewhere in Canadian wine country, co-founders Anthony Gismondi and David Lawrason assemble Canada’s leading wine writers, trade buyers and sommeliers to evaluate the current crop of 100 percent Canadian grown and made wines and ciders. This year we were in Ontario’s bucolic Prince Edward County from June 8 – 14.

In 2019, over 1,815 wines from 259 wineries were entered into the National Wine Awards of Canada.

The entries came from eight provinces. British Columbia had the highest representation with 145 wineries entered, Ontario came second with 90, followed by wineries from Quebec, Nova Scotia, Alberta, New Brunswick, Manitoba, and Prince Edward Island.

The wines were all served blind (producer, origin, and price were not revealed) but identified and organized into flights by grape variety or style. The top medalists were tasted in multiple rounds by many different judges. The judges only tasted a limited quantity of wines each day so their palates could stay fresh and focused, and the wines were served in high-quality Zwilling glasses at just the right temperature. All this was to ensure that each wine was treated with the respect it deserves.

Anyone can drink wine and pronounce it good, bad or indifferent. And they would not be right or wrong, but that is subjective stuff. Sifting through 90+ wines per day using objective filters that look at balance, complexity and depth is quite a different matter. And when judging within flights or categories where the overall character is much the same, distinguishing the nuances is even more exacting.

We want to thank the judges for bringing their talent, skill and passion to the process. We know there is nowhere they would rather be that week, but it is still a formidable task that requires endurance and concentration. It also requires a wealth of tasting experience accumulated over years of tasting wines from around the globe that informs virtually every decision they make. You don’t just walk into the job, although many ask if they can.

We have an apprentice program run by senior head judge DJ Kearney that brings two promising tasters into the fold for the preliminary round. This year we invited two talented sommeliers from Toronto – Paige McIntyre, Wine Director and Assistant GM of Ascari King and Heather McDougall, General Manager at Montecito. It’s a fantastic three-day experience for them to rotate through different panels to be mentored by a senior judge as well as getting the opportunity interact with all our judges throughout the days. The very best eventually will make their way onto the regular panels in the years to come.

You can read more about the National Wine Awards of Canada in Life au Lait’s recently published article, Today the Nationals, Tomorrow the World – A Look at the Intersection of Wine & Awards. Author Lonelle Selbo spent the better part of a day observing the goings on both behind the scenes and in the judging room.

Co-Head Judges Anthony Gismondi and David Lawrason

In addition to the individual medal winners, we have also awarded Winery of the YearBest Performing Small WineryTop 25 Wineries in Canada, Top 10 Ontario wineries, Top 10 BC wineries, and Top 10 Small Wineries.

Click on the medals below to review the list of medal winning wines.

You can also review the style and grape variety categories presented in alphabetical order. Each medal winning wine is linked to its individual page on WineAlign. Platinum, Gold and Silver wines will also have reviews from individual judges.

Winners by Medal:


Medal Winners by Category:

Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Sauvignon
Fruit Wine
Late Harvest & Fortified
Mead & Other Non-Fruit Based Wine
Orange Wines (extended skin contact)
Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio
Pinot Noir
Red Blends
Red Single Varieties including Malbec
Sauvignon Blanc
White Single Varieties including Gewurztraminer and Viognier
White Blends

Judges and organizers of the 2019 National Wine Awards of Canada. Wellington, Ontario – June 10 – 14


We would like to acknowledge the following sponsors: Zwilling for the glassware used throughout the judging, Eska Water for providing refreshing sparkling water to cleanse the judges’ palates, and Container World for shipping and logistics. Each and every awards bottle image appearing our site as well as photos of the backroom and judging was done by Jason Dziver. You can see more of his work at Jason Dziver Photography.