Santa Clara Valley wines had an excellent year at the 2020 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. The largest competition of its kind in North America—with over 6,700 entries this year—numerous South County winemakers took home numerous medals.

One of the 66 wines in the sweepstakes round was the playfully peppery 2017 Alara Cellars Cabernet Pfeffer from San Benito. It’s the first time Janu Goelz landed a Best of Class wine in The Chronicle’s competition, but it’s not her first winemaking accolade.

Goelz took Best of Show at the Central Coast Wine Competition for her 2017 Alara Cellars 2017 Grenache Blanc, San Benito County. The vintage won a Double Gold Medal, 98 points, Best in Class, overall Best White Wine and then Best of Show. It was quite the accomplishment, considering that it was the first time in the competition’s 16-year history that a grenache blanc bested all other entrants for top honors.

Goelz, a Morgan Hill native, sells her wine through the Stomping Ground—the seven-acre, Gilroy-based winemaking cooperative, where aspiring vintners can get their start producing wine on shared equipment. She and her husband, Jason Goelz, are the co-owners and co-founders of the project, along with Tim Slater of Sarah’s Vineyard, also located in Gilroy.

Speaking of Janu’s husband, Jason also scored a Best of Class win in this year’s Chronicle competition for his 2014 Syrah from Lion Oaks Ranch (and a Double Gold for his San Benito Cab Franc), while Satori Cellars snagged a Best of Class medal for their 2017 SCV Petite Sirah.

Bringing home Double Golds for wine made from Santa Clara Valley fruit were Church Creek’s 2014 Cabernet Franc; Kirigin Cellars’ 2017 Barbera and 2017 Pinot Noir; La Vie Dansante’s 2016 Grenache; Martin Ranch’s 2015 Thérèse Vineyards Dos Ninas Malbec; Satori’s 2017 Merlot; and Solis Winery’s 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon.