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.