Wineries Help Children in Need


Camp Good Days’ 22nd Finger Lakes International Wine & Spirits Competition

by Lauren O’Dell

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. Created to raise money for the children of Camp Good Days & Special Times, it also calls 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 from around the globe enter their best products to be evaluated by our world-class panel of judges. Over the course of three days, the judges assess an average of 2,500 entries in a wide variety of categories to determine the bronze, silver, gold, and unanimous double gold medal winners. The best wines and spirits are judged again in a “Best in Class” evaluation. In 2016, FLIWC hit an all-time high with over 3,800 entries from 26 countries and all 50 states. While numbers have decreased due to the pandemic, 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 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, provided only with non-specific information such as varietal, vintage residual sugar and percent alcohol.

Each entry in a flight, presented to the judges in professional crystal stemware, is judged on its own merit – presence, balance and varietal character – not by how it compares to other entries in the flight, as well as 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.

The culmination of the event is the Camp Good Days Wine & Spirits Auction Dinner, which will take place on November 5, 2022. Medal winners are featured at the event, which attracts hundreds of wine and spirit enthusiasts and collectors. The auction raises awareness and funds for the children and families of Camp Good Days and celebrates their courage, hope, and strength.

Camp Good Days was founded in 1979, when Elizabeth “Teddi” Mervis, age 9, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Her father, Gary Mervis, 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, 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. Many of the programs and services started there have been used as models for other cancer treatment centers and organizations around the world.

Today, Camp Good Days continues to provide programs and services – completely free of charge – to children and families who have been affected by cancer and sickle cell anemia. It’s a place where courage knows no boundaries.

FLIWC helps to benefit the children of Camp Good Days by giving them memories that they will cherish for the rest of their lives. For more information, and to enter the competition, visit

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