22nd Annual FLIWC—Another Successful Competition!

The 22nd Annual Finger Lakes International Wine & Spirits Competition was wildly successful, all thanks to our wonderful volunteers, judges, and staff! We also want to give a special thank you to the wineries, distilleries and cideries that submitted entries to the competition as well. We certainly would not be able to become one of the largest wine & spirits competitions in the world to benefit a charitable organization without your help & support.

The wine portion of the competition was held at the Camp Good Days Recreational Facility in Branchport, NY, right on the shores of beautiful Keuka Lake. We were able to loosen some of the COVID-19 restrictions since all our judges were vaccinated, and all volunteers were asked to wear masks. Over the course of the 3 days, judges were evaluating hundreds of flights of wine. They were able to deliberate with each other regarding awards, and it was wonderful to see the constant chatter from around the room.

This year’s panel of judges was richly diverse with sommeliers, wine makers, wine writers, and wine educators. They awarded bronze, silver, and gold medals, and where it was unanimous, double gold. This year, a platinum medal was introduced and awarded to the wine that holds extraordinary distinction during the “Best in Class” evaluation. This was the same for the spirits judging.

Our spirits judging was held in our Camp Good Days Headquarters in Mendon, NY. The panel consisted of distillery owners, experienced judges, etc. It was great to see comradery from everyone through wine & spirits for the benefit of Camp Good Days. We were able to get through all the entries, and we can now begin preparations for the Wine & Spirits Auction Dinner Gala on November 5, 2022.

This occasion is the biggest fundraiser for Camp Good Days. It ensures that no child with cancer or sickle cell anemia will be charged for any program that is offered. Wineries and distilleries donate their gold medal entries to be auctioned off in our silent auction during the event. We are so excited that 2022 will be our first year back in person after our auction was online for the last few years due to the pandemic.

And now, for the results.

The wines that wone the “Best in Class” categories are:

Best Vinifera Red BlendRagtag Wine Co.Meritage2017slocoastwine.comCaliforniaUnited States
Best TempranilloSpicewood VineyardsBlack Label Tempranillo2019spicewoodvineyards.comTexasUnited States
Best SparklingE. & J. Gallo WineryBarefoot Bubbly PeachNVgallo.comCaliforniaUnited States
Best RoséSuhru WinesRose2021suhruwines.comNew YorkUnited States
Best Fruit & Non-GrapeDoor Peninsula WinerySweet CherryNVstore.dcwine.comWisconsinUnited States
Best ChardonnayChateau FontaineChardonnay2020chateaufontaine.comMichiganUnited States
Best Hybrid WhiteBluejacket Crossing WineryVignoles2021bluejacketwinery.comKansasUnited States
Best Ice WineChalet Debonne VineyardsVidal Blanc Ice Wine2021debonne.comOhioCanada
Best Cabernet SauvignonPollak VineyardsCabernet Savignon2019pollakvineyards.comVirginiaUnited States
Best Riesling (Dry)Red Newt CellarsThe Knoll Lahoma Vineyards Riesling2016rednewt.comNew YorkUnited States
Best Cabernet FrancYori Wine Cellars, LLCCabernet Franc2018yoriwinecellars.comPennsylvaniaUnited States

The spirits that won “Best in Class” categories are:

Best BrandyWölffer Estate VineyardWölffer Estate Brandy3 years  wolffer.comNew YorkUnited States
Best WhiskeyGervasi VineyardWine Barrel Bourbon6 vintagesgervasivineyard.comWisconsinUnited States
Best LiqueurVon Seiehl Winery Ltd.Cherry BounceNVvonstiehl.comWisconsinUnited States

We are already excited about next year’s competition and thank you to all who helped make this year’s event so successful! For a full list of results, visit our website: www.fliwc-cgd.com.

It’s Almost Competition Season!

Camp Good Days’ Finger Lakes International Wine & Spirits Competition has been a staple event in the Finger Lakes wine industry for the past 22 years. It was created as a way to raise money for the children of Camp Good Days & Special Times, while also calling attention to the many wonderful Finger Lakes wineries in upstate New York. Over the years, the FLIWC has grown exponentially both in size and reputation. Wineries and distilleries on a global scale enter their best products to be evaluated by our world-class panel of judges. Each year, the judges convene to award bronze, silver, gold, or unanimous double gold medals. The best wines and spirits are also judged again in a “Best in Class” evaluation. Over the course of three days, an average of 2,500 entries are assessed blindly in a wide variety of categories to determine the medal winners.

In 2016, FLIWC hit an all-time high with over 3,800 entries, 26 countries and all 50 states participating. Since then, numbers have decreased due to the pandemic, however, the unwavering support of our judges, sponsors, and participants has kept the event going strong year after year.

Our judges are hand-picked and invited to apply to be on the FLIWC panel. The competition typically involves 50 judges that are organized into groups of 3 or 4 that represent a mix of professions and geographic regions. However, since we are actively making changes due to the pandemic, we are now only hosting 20 judges. Entries are judged completely ‘blind’ in flights by class with only non-specific information such as varietal, vintage residual sugar and % alcohol.

The manner in which judges evaluate each entry is in a multi-step process. Each entry is judged on its own merit—its presence, balance, and varietal character—not by how it compares to other entries in the flight. Each entry in the FLIWC is judged for what it is at the time of judging, not for what it might become in the future. Each glass is labeled with a code number and the judges are given a scoring sheet with the number and variety of the entry. Lastly, all entries are presented to the judges in professional crystal stemware.

The culmination of this event is the Camp Good Days Wine & Spirits Auction Dinner, which will take place on November 5, 2022. Medal-winning wines and spirits from the competition are featured at the event which attracts hundreds of wine and spirit enthusiasts and collectors. The auction is not only a way to raise awareness and funds for the children and families of Camp Good Days but a way to celebrate their courage, hope, and strength.

As the 22nd year of the FLIWC is quickly approaching, it is a perfect opportunity to reflect on why this competition began in the first place. Camp Good Days was founded in 1979, when Elizabeth “Teddi” Mervis was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor at the age of nine. Her father, Gary Mervis, traveled across the country to major medical centers, seeking the best possible treatment for his daughter. He returned home without the answers he had been looking for and realized that what was causing Teddi the most pain was the loneliness of being the only child in her school and neighborhood dealing with cancer. With the help and support of many friends and community members in Greater Rochester, NY, Gary founded Camp Good Days and Special Times, Inc., a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, to provide Teddi and other children with cancer the opportunity to come together in a residential camping experience. Over the years, Camp Good Days has become one of the largest organizations of its kind with many of the programs and services started there being used as models for other cancer treatment centers and organizations around the world. Today, Camp Good Days continues to provide programs and services to children and families who have been affected by cancer and sickle cell anemia completely free of charge. While nothing at Camp Good Days will find a cure for cancer or sickle cell anemia, everything is done in an effort to create some good days and special times for those who need it most—it is a place where courage knows no boundaries.

Please consider entering into our competition in the future, it will surely benefit the children of Camp Good Days and give them memories that they will cherish for the rest of their lives. For more information, please visit www.fliwc-cgd.com.

FLIWC Judge Reviews Spirits

For the past 20 years, the Finger Lakes International Wine & Spirits Competition has drawn a diverse panel of the highest quality judges from all over the world. They include Oenologists, Certified Wine & Spirit Judges, Sommeliers (CMS), Educators (SWE), Winemakers, Distillers, Mixologists, and Academicians.    

Among our panel of high quality judges is Tony Menechella. Tony is a Certified Specialist of Spirits, Society of Wine Educators since 2017 and has over 20+ years of experience with spirits that span the globe. Most recently Tony has presented two Spirits Sessions at the American Wine Society’s National Conference in Florida. We were fortunate to have Tony review some of the medal-winning spirits from the 2020 Finger Lakes International Wine & Spirits Competition.

Royal Hawaii Spirits – Sakura Shochu

Royal Hawaii Spirits Sakura Shochu received a double gold medal at the 2020 FLIWC!

“Shochu is typically a Japanese distilled beverage primarily produced from, but not limited to, rice, barley, or sweet potatoes.

Hoku Sakura Shochu, an American Cherry Shochu by Royal Hawaii Spirits, is distilled from grain, and infused with Cherry flavor.

A cherry blossom is a flower of many trees of genus Prunus. The most well-known species is the Japanese cherry, Prunus serrulata, which is commonly called sakura.

Dark cherry initially on the nose, especially at the rim, with a little spice as it opens. A lovely balance of the base spirit and cherry, without any sweetness on the palate, and delivers a long finish. An outstanding American Shochu!”

La Vallee de la Framboise – Le Brochu

La Vallee de la Framboise Le Brochu received a gold medal at the 2020 FLIWC.

“La Vallee de la Framboise’s Le Brochu Raspberry and Black Currant Liqueur is produced in Quebec, CA from a blend of 80% Raspberry and 20% Black Currant.  The nose is just a lovely bouquet of fresh raspberry and black currant. 

The proportions of fruit used are just right, and very well balanced, with the blackcurrant complimenting the raspberry. 

The palate is reminiscent of the nose, but with more sweetness than I was hoping for.  The finish is medium – long, and very pleasing.”

Drop Shop Distillery – Orangecello

Drop Shop’s Orangecello received a double gold medal at the 2020 FLIWC!

“Lovely fresh orange on the nose, and as it opens, the rim becomes that orange peel!  Just lovely orange flavors! 

The mouth-feel and taste are alive with the orange, but also with what I believe to be a Vodka base? 

Very well-balanced, with no artificial tasting flavors or sweetness, and in a lengthy finish! Outstanding!”

Each spirit in our competition is blind tested in the NEAT glass, our official Spirit Glass Sponsor for the FLIWC. “NEAT is the official spirits judging glass of over 29 major spirits competitions, spirits seminars and festivals worldwide. Designed to meet the rigors of sensory science, NEAT enhances aromas and eliminates olfactory fatigue, leveling the award opportunity for all entrants.”  

The Canadian entry deadline is April 30, 2021 and the United States and International entry deadline is May 14, 2021. Enter for a chance to be recognized among the best wines and spirits while supporting the children and families of Camp Good Days & Special Times, Inc. whose lives have been impacted by cancer or sickle cell anemia. Enter Online Here: http://bit.ly/2FB8gSe

Getting Ready for the 2021 FLIWC

Entries are starting to come in for the 2021 Finger Lakes International Wine & Spirits Competition (FLIWC)! Despite a challenging year last year, the competition was still able to be held safely and professionally, and we are excited to be able to implement the same practices this year.

Some wineries that have already entered reached out to let us know their thoughts about entering the FLIWC.

“Les Bourgeois Vineyard has long been a supporter of the FLIWC. Not only does the competition benefit a great cause like Camp Good Days & Special Times, but the FLIWC has always been friendly to wines from under- appreciated wine regions, like ours in Missouri. First and foremost, the FLIWC judges award great winemaking. Whether dry or sweet, hybrid, native or European grape varietals, all wines are carefully evaluated. We love showing off our medals from the FLIWC in our Tasting Room!” – Ann Miller, Les Bourgeois Vineyards

*Taken from Facebook*

The FLIWC was originally started to help raise money for Camp Good Days & Special Times, and to bring light to the Finger Lakes Region wineries, which local wine enthusiasts felt were being overlooked. The FLIWC has since grown to have thousands of entries per year, with wineries and distilleries entering from all over the United States, and the world.

“Yooper Winery is a small winery located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Here in the UP we are called “Yoopers” because we reside in the U.P. pf Michigan.

Yooper Winery is Yooper owned and operated. Here in the UP, there are a lot of trees and not a lot of people; thus, our winery depends on Michigan’s tourism to support our business.

We specialize in fruit wine (blackberry, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, cherry, plum and recently pear and a high alcohol wine we make with a berry blend we call Yooper Stooper). 0ur Marquette grape wine won in the dry and sweet red wine category last year.

We entered our first batch of wine into the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition in 2009 (back then as Garden Bay Winery). We had been inundated with marketing material from wine competitions as a new winery and were not sure what to do. Should we enter? If so, which competition? The FLIWC is an event that supports Camp Good Days and Special Times, so we found this competition particularly appealing. We were making four different kinds of berry wines at that time and entered them all. We didn’t know what to expect. We received medals for all of them!

Over the years, we’ve expanded our wine menu, but still make the tried and true berry wines for which we’ve become known. And every year we submit our favorites to the FLIWC in hopes the judges agree with us, that our small batch wine if delicious! Over the years, we’ve lost count of the medals, but they hang with pride in our tasting room for our customers to see.

The FLIWC, for Yooper Winery, has become a tradition. We still get excited about our entries and so happy when a judge likes and appreciates our wine and awards us. The competition has gotten big, but it is still run very well. The people we have worked with over the years have been so very nice and helpful. And of course, we like to support the Camp!

Our customers travel here from all over the country, and it’s not uncommon to hear our customers mention they became aware of us through the FLIWC. We welcome wine tasters to our winery and tasting room in Menominee, Michigan, from Spring through the Fall each year.

There also locations-in Mackinaw City and Munising that taste and sell Yooper Wine.” – John Lucas, Yooper Winery

One of the best things we can hear at the FLIWC is that entering our competition has brought customers and recognition to the participating wineries and distilleries.

This is a big reason why we have our Best-In-Class Awards, to further recognize our medal winners. This year, we are excited to be adding two new wine Best-In-Class Awards: Vinifera Red Blend and Rose! This is in addition to our awards for: Riesling, Chardonnay, Sparkling, Ice Wine, Fruit, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. Last year, we wanted to make sure that we recognized the wonderful distilled entries we were receiving, so we added Spirit Best-In-Class Awards for: Brandy, Bourbon, Gin, Flavored Whiskey, Whiskey, Liqueur, Vodka, and Rum.

Enter your wines and spirits today for a chance to be recognized!

Despite COVID-19, 20th Annual FLIWC was a Success

The 20th Annual Finger Lakes International Wine & Spirits Competition has come to a close and we are overjoyed with the support that we received from the wineries, distilleries and cideries that entered the competition. There were some setbacks in the beginning due to COVID-19, but we are so happy that we were able to still have the competition. It was rescheduled from April to July, the venue was changed, and the number of judges and volunteers present at the competition was decreased.

The wine portion of the competition was held at the Camp Good Days Recreational Facility on Keuka Lake from July 14-16 and the spirits portion of the competition was held at the Camp Good Days Headquarters in Mendon, NY from July 20-21.

In order to make the competition run smoothly and safely, many changes had to be made. Listed below are some examples of the changes the FLIWC Committee made led by Head Judge, Bob Madill and Event Director, Jamie Varble:

  • It was required that all judges and volunteers lived within a region of low infection rate, and had to drive to the venue, not fly.
  • A daily health screening was required before entry to the facility.
  • Masks were always required when not seated, eating or drinking.
  • Activity workflows and one-way travel lanes were created that completely separated the handling of clean and used items.
  • Standard commercial kitchen practices were implemented.
  • The number of people present was reduced as much as possible by doing a lot of the flighting work prior to the competition.
  • There were paired tables for each panel.
  • The movement was controlled in the judging venue so that interactions between tables were minimized if not completely prevented.
  • Separate venues and staff/volunteer assignments were established for each major function.

This year, there were over 2,000 entries from 12 countries, 34 states and 4 Canadian provinces. There were entries from the United States, Canada, Argentina, Australia, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, and Spain. While the number of entries was less than previous years, it still showcases the wonderful support from all who entered.

There were 15 wine judges and 6 spirit judges present along with 30 staff and volunteers. Overall, the judges awarded 74 double gold medals, 27 gold medals, 540 silver medals, and 807 bronze medals. There were also awards given for “Best Of” categories for wines and spirits.

The “Best Of” winners for wine this year are:

Best Riesling: Riesling from Idol Ridge Winery in New York, USA
Best Ice Wine: Testa 2017 Vidal Icewine from Willow Springs Winery in Canada
Best Sparkling Wine: Sparkling Pointe Brut Seduction 2008 from Sparkling Pointe in New York, USA
Best Fruit Wine: Visnove Vino 2019 from Vinarstvo Miluron in Slovakia
Best Merlot: Chateau Valtice Merlot Premium Collection 2017 from Chateau Valtice in the Czech Republic
Best Cabernet Franc: Cabernet Franc 2018 from Snowy Peaks Winery in Colorado, USA
Best Cabernet Sauvignon: 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon from Plagido’s Winery in New Jersey, USA
Best Chardonnay: Orpailleur Chardonnay from Vignoble de l’Orpailleur in Canada

The “Best Of” winners for spirits are:

Best Brandy: Discord Apple Brandy from Black Ring Distillery in Washington, USA
Best Vodka: Recipe 21 Vodka from ROC House Brands in New York, USA
Best Whiskey: Cask & Crew Rye Whiskey from ROC House Brands in New York, USA
Best Bourbon: Single Barrel American Whiskey from Swede Hill Distilling in Washington, USA
Best Gin: GinWillis Gin from Glencoe Distillery in New Mexico, USA
Best Liqueur: Sacred Grounds from Glencoe Distillery in New Mexico, USA
Best Rum: Auténtico Nativo 15 Year Aged Rum from ROC House Brands in Panama
Best Flavored Whiskey: Rattlesnake Rosie’s Maple Bacon Whiskey from Iron Smoke Distillery in New York, USA

Typically, the medal-winning wines and spirits are later auctioned off at the Camp Good Days Wine Auction Dinner which, in the past, has been held in November with hundreds of attendees. This year, the event will be re-imagined as an online auction. All proceeds from the competition and following wine auction will benefit the children and families impacted by cancer and sickle cell anemia at Camp Good Days & Special Times.

Thank you again to everyone who helped make the 20th Anniversary year of the Finger Lakes International Wine & Spirits Competition possible and congratulations to all the medal winners!

To Judge Spirits, You Need to be Unbiased

This year, we thought about how we could improve the competition, and it did not take long to realize that we were not giving spirits enough attention. Seeing the growth of the spirits industry, we decided to add “spirits” to our name—The Finger Lakes International Wine & Spirits Competition (FLIWC). We will have a separate judging panel composed of professionals who are well-versed in various spirits. They will spend the second day of the competition judging all the spirits entries.

One of the judges on the panel is Tony Menechella, a Certified Specialist of Spirits (CSS) and an avid supporter of the FLIWC. He believes that blind judging in an unbiased way is extremely important.

Below is a segment of an article he wrote about the topic:

Any respectable Competition is judged blind, and when somebody has so much experience with one particular spirit that they can correctly identify every pour, and a couple batches, in a blind tasting, then the blind gets tossed out the window. There are several qualities and factors that go into the makeup of being a judge, whether for wine, spirits, or cocktails, as it pertains to the beverage industry. The two most important factors to me are objectivity and experience/knowledge. Judging has to be done without bias against a particular spirit, or spirit category, and whether or not you like or dislike a particular spirit or spirit category. It’s hard to be completely objective when you know what you’re drinking.

To quote veteran wine/spirits judge and Executive Sommelier in Spirits Larry Wilcox, “I think the most important factor is that a judge must evaluate the spirit based on how well it is made based upon the category the spirit was entered. Judging is not about whether a judge likes the spirit category or product being judged. In this way the spirit can be awarded a medal (or not) regardless of how many spirits are entered in that category. It is therefore important that the judge has the background to know the definition of the spirit category and general knowledge of how to make the spirit. That does not mean they need to be a distiller, producer, or blender. But probably more like a distributor, importer, liquor store owner, spirits teacher, or someone who has independent skin in the game.”

To embody the same amount of excellence in blind-judging spirits as we do with wine, we are using the NEAT Glass, which is a step-up from other tulip glassware used to judge spirits. The unique design helps with the judging process by showcasing the best of each spirit. NEAT donated 360 glasses and are our official “Spirit Glass Sponsor” for this year’s competition.

We spoke to Tony about his involvement in the industry and about the NEAT Glass.

First, how did you become involved in judging spirits? What about your introduction to the Lagavulin 16 YR Single Malt Scotch prompted you to start this journey?

I actually got my initial Judging at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition in 2017.  Some Spirits were submitted, and Lorraine Hems asked me if I’d be interested in participating, as she was aware of my spirits background and experience.  From there, a fellow wine judge from NY referred me to a friend of hers who hosted various Competitions, and in 2018, he invited me to Judge in the North American Bourbon and Whiskey Competition in New Orleans.  Evidently, I performed well enough to get invited to Judge in the Denver International Spirits Competition in Denver in 2019.  This year, I’m back in the Finger Lakes, and will be Judging in the San Diego International Spirits Competition in August.  It’s truly an honor to me, and I love the new people I’ve met because of it, some of whom I call friends! 

Lagavulin 16 was a game changer for me because it was unlike any Scotch, or Whisk(e)y that I had had up to that point.  In a Whisk(e)y, it would be the equivalent of going from a Chardonnay to a Cabernet Sauvignon in wine.  It was so different, and it showed me how Scotch has as broad of a flavor profile as wine can, and left me wanting to learn and experience more, and with different types of whiskies.  That eventually led to delving into all Spirits.

Do you judge wine as well? What would you say are the largest differences between judging wine and judging spirits?

I don’t judge wine but feel that there are more key similarities than differences.  With both, you have to be educated and have the experience with different spirits and wines.  For instance, in Scotch, you have to be experienced with all of the different regions, finishing, etc. In wine, with a Cabernet Sauvignon, you should know, and be able to recognize the differences between a Napa, Bordeaux, Australian, etc.  

You also need to check your ego at the door, be objective, and be open minded.  If you are not strong on a particular type of spirit, or varietal of wine, then you have to defer to those who are.  I personally struggle with Vodka, but will do the best that I can, and defer to those at the table who may know more.

A key difference would be the higher alcohol content in spirits.  Although you’re spitting, those who are not used to that should probably not judge spirits.

Why is the NEAT Glass such a game changer when it comes to judging spirits?

The NEAT Glass was a game changer for spirits because of its engineered design.  By flaring out at the top, the ethanol dissipates immediately out the rim of the glass, leaving just the aromas of the spirit.  Because of that, you do not burn out your olfactory senses as quickly because of the alcohol when judging, and getting alcohol fatigued.

Neat, straight up, or on the rocks?

Personally, I drink everything neat, and let the spirit open gradually as it oxidizes over time.  Professionally, I tell everyone to drink it however YOU like it, and don’t let anyone tell you differently. 

To learn more about Tony, please visit his website, www.tonymenechella.com.

The Competition is Postponed due to COVID-19 Concerns

Twenty years ago, the Finger Lakes International Wine & Spirits Competition was launched to help our campers—children and families whose lives have been impacted by cancer. The wine, spirits and cider industries responded with conviction and today, the FLIWC is one of the leading competitions internationally.

Now, we face an additional challenge, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and complex consequences. In order to safeguard our staff, 100 + volunteers, judges, and all of the communities that we are collectively from, we have decided to postpone the 20th Annual Finger Lakes International Wine and Spirits Competition again until July 18th and 19th, 2020.

To those wineries and distilleries that have already shipped your wine or spirits to us, be assured that your product is being kept in an area that maintains a consistent year-round temperature, and the wine bottles will be kept on their side to maintain a saturated cork.

This decision will enable your wines and spirits to be given the calm, focused attention that they deserve. For any questions, please visit fliwc-cgd.com, or call us at 585-624-5555. On behalf of Camp Good Days and Special Times, Inc., thank you for your continued support of our competition.

New Changes to Celebrate 20 Years

The Camp Good Days Finger Lakes International Wine Competition is one of the largest charitable wine competitions in the United States. To make it even more special, the competition not only benefits a charity, it is facilitated by the charity; Camp Good Days & Special Times.

Camp Good Days & Special Times is a non-profit organization that provides programs and services to children and families impacted by cancer and sickle cell anemia free of charge.  Over the 40 years that Camp Good Days has been in existence, we have served over 50,000 campers from 22 states and 36 countries.

We are excited to announce that in the year of 2020 we will be celebrating the 20th year of the competition! We wanted to showcase this milestone by moving forward with a new title “The Camp Good Days Finger Lakes International Wine & Spirits Competition” and a new logo.

Here is a look back on our previous logos:

Our first logo featured the wine glass and grapes, symbols that we would keep over the next 19 years. The noses represented the importance we placed on having wine professionals as our judges: masters of wine, master sommeliers, wine journalists, wine educators and other internationally certified judges from around the world.


Our second logo which we introduced in 2014 was cleaner, included the title of the competition, and pushed forward the idea of the competition benefiting a charity.


Our most recent logo, which we introduced in 2017 really focused on showing that the competition was unique in that it was not only benefiting a charity but was facilitated by that same charity.


While all of these logos served us well in the past, we wanted to take a leap forward for our 20th anniversary and focus on a few things:

  • Highlighting the Purpose: The entire reason why the competition exists is to raise money for the programs that Camp Good Days provides free of charge to children and families impacted by cancer and sickle cell anemia. The wines that are awarded medals during the competition are then served at the Camp Good Days Wine Auction Dinner; the largest Rochester area fundraiser for Camp Good Days. Adding the purple cancer ribbon (purple to represent all types of cancer) around the wine glass highlights what the competition is all about and drives home the message that the families served by Camp Good Days are the driving force.
  • Broadening the Scope: While the competition has accepted spirits for a few years now, it was never highlighted in the name. We wanted to make sure that it was known that we not only accept and judge wines, we also accept and encourage spirit entries as well. For this reason, we changed the name of the competition to the “Camp Good Days Finger Lakes International Wine & Sprits Competition.”
  • Cleaning up the Look: This new logo is fresh, clean, and playful to keep in the Camp Good Days sprit while also showcasing the professionalism we pride ourselves on. The competition has grown over the years and we have made it paramount that those involved know the wine industry and will hold our competition to the highest standards. Each year, changes are constantly being made to adjust the entry guidelines, the wine and spirit categories, the judges and more, to keep making the competition better.


Thanks to Jeff Tara at Brandvue Design, our thoughts for a new logo were crafted and created into the new logo that will now be featured on all of our print materials, website, promotional items, etc. While the title and the logo of the competition has changed, the essence, the purpose, and the focus on professionalism have remained the same.

Please know that “FLIWC,” the acronym previously used to identify the competition, will remain the same to avoid any confusion.

We hope that you love the new logo as much as we do, and we look forward to the competition coming up on April 4th and 5th in 2020.

The True Meaning of the FLIWC

The 19th Annual Finger Lakes International Wine Competition (FLIWC) has come to a close. Thank you to all the wineries, distilleries and cideries who entered, and all of the judges and volunteers who helped to make the competition possible.

What makes the FLIWC stand out from other competitions is the non-profit that it supports. All proceeds from the competition benefit the children and families served by Camp Good Days & Special Times, a non-profit that helps those affected by cancer.

Every year, a family who has benefited from Camp Good Days’ programs comes to speak to the judges and volunteers who spend their weekend at the competition. This is always a very special part of the weekend since it reminds everyone present what the real importance of the competition is—to support these wonderful families.


This year, the Shaw family told their story. Jenesis Shaw is a young girl who had been diagnosed with a stage IV Wilms Tumor in August of 2017. This is the most common type of kidney cancer seen in young children. After her mother, Scotesha, noticed bumps on Jenesis’ abdomen, she and her husband, Mike, took Jenesis to the hospital, where they were told that Jenesis might have cancer. In the months that followed, Jenesis had to have chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.


While in the hospital, Jenesis noticed that there were other children in the hospital who were going through treatments, and she decided to help them by creating “Care Kits” filled with comfort items like blankets and toys. The idea has now become an ongoing initiative for the family through “Team Jenny Bean,” which raises money to purchase the items for the kits. “Giving is truly curative,” said Mike Shaw.

Jenesis has attended Camp Good Days for the Teddi’s Team program, which is a five-day overnight camping program for children ages 8-12 who have been diagnosed with cancer. At the program the children are able to spend time with other children who know what it is like to be them; other children who have been diagnosed with cancer. They are able to leave their worries behind and spend their days fishing, swimming, taking boat rides, doing crafts, having dances, singing around campfires, and playing dress up. Jenesis is excited to attend camp again this summer and said, “it was really fun and I can’t wait to go back!”


Jenesis and her family are just one example of the many families that Camp Good Days supports. “Camp Good Days allows children to just be kids and leave the stresses of the world in the world…even if only for a moment,” said Mike Shaw. Thank you again to everyone who participated in the FLIWC; you are making a difference to many families just like the Shaws.

This year, Camp Good Days is celebrating its 40th anniversary! Over the years, Camp Good Days has served over 48,300 campers from 22 states and 36 countries. To learn more, visit http://www.campgooddays.org.

Wine and More…

The final deadline to enter the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition (FLIWC) is fast approaching!

Something that you might not know is that the competition not only judges wine, as cider and distilled entries are also accepted.  While the wine entries make up the majority of the competition, the cider and distilled entries are rising every year!

One local, Rochester-based company, ROC House Brands, has been entering its products into the competition for three years.  Ricky Tatar, Product Manager of Spirits and Beverages for LiDestri Food and Drink, sheds some light on the different beverages that ROC House Brands creates.

Please explain ROC House Brands…

ROC House Brands is a sub-division of LiDestri Food and Drink. ROC House develops, makes, markets, and sells a variety of alcohol beverage brands including Cask & Crew Whiskey, Recipe 21 Spirits, Pink Lemon Liqueur, mü coffeehouse cocktails, and Tuttobello Limoncello.

Are there any new ROC House Brand products that you are particularly excited about?

Cask & Crew Whiskey is at the top of my list. This brand launched in 2017 and in two years we have already sold over 150,000 bottles. The brand was built around the notion that there are two kinds of people: those who love whiskey and those who love whiskey and don’t know it yet! We infuse our whiskey with natural flavors that blend particularly well with the whiskey. Those flavors are Walnut Toffee, Ginger Spice and Orange Roasted.  And for those who are already whiskey fans, our flagship item is our Cask & Crew Rye Whiskey, which is blended with 51% three-year-old Canadian Rye and 49% three-year-old Kentucky Corn. This is a blend that is great on the rocks or can be mixed in your favorite cocktail.


Another brand I am excited about is Recipe 21. Recipe 21 is a complete line of most every type of spirits. The brand consists of Vodka and Flavored Vodkas, Gin, Tequila, Blended Whiskey, Rum, Cinnamon Whiskey, Coconut Rum, Triple Sec, and Peach Schnapps. We are particularly proud of this brand because of the growth and popularity it has seen in the Upstate New York area. The recipe for this is simple—outstanding quality for a very low price. Chances are, if you go into a bar in the Upstate New York area and you order a “well drink” (Vodka Tonic, Rum and Coke, etc.), that bar will likely be using Recipe 21 to make your drink. We love entering Recipe 21 into contests like the FLIWC because it typically does very well, regardless of the fact that it sells for half the price of other brands in the same category.


 What, in your opinion, makes the FLIWC a competition worthy of entering your products in?

We are very confident in the quality of our products and aim to enter as many competitions as we can. With that said, many competitions are very expensive. I’ve found that the FLIWC not only has the notoriety of world-class judges selecting the winners of the contests and verifying our quality, but also the price is very reasonable; not to mention knowing that, regardless of if we win or lose, the proceeds from the competition are going toward a remarkable cause in Camp Good Days and Special Times. That’s not something I’ve found anywhere else in a spirits competition.

What about working with spirits excites you?

Working with spirits is a lot of fun. It’s a very competitive industry and has consumers that are constantly changing. It’s exciting to bring new and innovative products to market!

How do you think entering competitions such as the FLIWC helps your products/brand?

Consumers are extremely savvy these days. With the vast selection of products for consumers to buy, most decisions are made after the consumer does some research (even while standing there at the store shelf). By putting our accolades on our signage, website, selling materials, etc., we are able to show the liquor store, the restaurant, or the consumer that this product was tested and passed with flying colors.