The accolades keep piling up for Loudoun’s Casanel Vineyards, which returned with top honors from the prestigious San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the largest competition of American wines in the world.

Sifting through 6,800 wines from 1,132 wineries, Casanel was awarded “Best in Class” for its 2016 Carménère, beating out a host of contenders from West Coast states.


Thanks to vintners like the DeSouzas at Casanel, Carménère is a varietal on a comeback after being wiped out of the Bordeaux region of France by phylloxera (plant lice) in the 19th century. Carménère is a natural cross between Gros Cabernet and Cabernet Franc, which grows well in Virginia soil.

While other vineyards grow Carménère for blending, Casanel sees it as a stand-alone varietal.

The awards they have received for the varietal speak for themselves, including:

Gold at the 2018 American Wine Society Commercial Wine Competition
Gold at the 2018 Harvest Challenge Wine Competition
Platinum at the 2018 Savor Virginia Wine Classic
Best of Class at the 2016 Harvest Challenge Wine Competition
Gold at the 2016 San Francisco Wine Competition
Gold at the 2016 Virginia State Fair
Gold at the 2016 Harvest Challenge Wine Competition
Awards like these help to reinforce the message that Loudoun County is an East Coast and national leader in the production of quality wines.

“We could not be prouder of the team here at Casanel Vineyards and Winery,” said Casanel Winemaker and Vineyard Manager Katie DeSouza Henley in a press release. “We are humbled and moved by this award and have renewed motivation to continue our mission which is to create high-quality, Virginia-grown and produced wines that reflect our people, passion, and sense of place here in Loudoun County.”

Casanel was one of 30 Virginia wineries to enter the San Francisco Chronicle competition, including six from Loudoun. Virginia wineries submitted 122 wines for judging, with 26 coming from Loudoun wineries.

Loudoun’s Doukenie Winery took home double gold for its 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, while Maggie Malick Wine Caves scored three gold ratings. Greenhill Winery, Lost Creek Winery and Two Twisted Posts Winery also placed with their entries.