Many of the amateur winemaking clubs in Canada sponsor competitions in order to encourage the improvement of individual winemaking skills. There are also amateur winemaking competitions at the provincial and national levels.
To enter a wine in the national competition, a winemaker must first make one of the top four wines in a provincial competition in any particular class which is sanctioned by the Amateur Winemakers of Canada, the umbrella organization for the whole of Canada. In order for a person's wine to qualify for this event, it must be first selected at a Provincial Competition. Each province, Alberta, Saskatchewan. Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia, sends its selections to the host club which then arranges for the judging of the various classes as designated by the Amateur Winemakers of Canada.
This hierarchy of competitions is preceded by a number of competitions within the member clubs of the BC Amateur Winemakers Association. Most of these are invitational, open to members of other clubs who wish to test the strength of their winemaking against competitors of other associations. Almost all enjoy in-club contests; all of which are predicated with the idea that one can learn better practices by hearing what the competition judge has to say.
Any one club may have its own special class for judging purposes; for example the VAWA once had Okanogan Riesling as a "Club Grape", and thus had a separate class for it. Thus each member club of this hierarchy might have a differing group of wines in its competition.
The annual VAWA competition is usually scheduled for a Saturday in mid-April, with the Awards Presentation and Banquet later the same day. A bottle registration system is brought on-line about six weeks prior to the competition for entrants to register their entries in the various wine classes.
As the wines are judged, they are given a point score out of twenty, using a UC Davis 20-point scale, modified for amateur use:
A system of medal judging is used, whereby the entrant receives medals for different levels of scoring. All good wines are celebrated by having good scores honoured. The entry level for a medal is 14 points out of a possible 20. A Bronze Medal is for a wine that scores between 14 and 15.99; a Silver Medal is given for a wine between 16 and 17.99 and a Gold Medal is for a wine between 18 and 20. It must be noted that to indicate the top wine or beer there is a designation of Best of Class.
In addition, the winemaker, after all the ceremonies are over, receives a score sheet which has the judge’s remarks written thereon. These remarks are primarily for the purpose of giving the maker an aid in producing better wines. Many winemakers enter competitions for that purpose alone.
The most recent competition was held in 2019. The years 2020-2022 were skipped because of COVID-19 restrictions.
An optional informal blind judging of members' wines during a VAWA meeting. Monthly style of wine to be judged is announced in pre-meeting newsletter. Winners are announced immediately after the feature presentation winds up. The winner of the highest scoring wine takes home the coveted Corkscrew trophy for one month.
Entries should be brown bagged and delivered to VAWA's Steward before the meeting starts. Entrants are invited to ask the judge technical questions about their entry by writing their questions on a tag attached to the bottle. The judge will follow-up with comments.