The million-dollar question right now in Wine Country is why the judges of the Sonoma County Harvest Fair wine competition haven’t named a runner up to replace the sweepstakes red after the Adler Fels’ pinot was disqualified.

Adler Fels Winery was forced to relinquish it sweepstakes honor because it failed to meet a minimum 75-case requirement for entry. The disqualification is a first in the fair’s 35-year history. The winery had won top honors for its 2007 Russian River Pinot Noir priced at $25.

Here’s the million-dollar answer: There was no runner up for the white or the red picked at the time of the judging and now the judges dispersed once the competition was over.

Publicist Anne Marie Przyblyski:

“We realize there’s disappointment that a replacement sweepstakes was not named. We are disappointed too …. (The judges) choose one wine from the red classes to be our sweepstakes red wine. There is no runner up or second place. The structure of the sweepstakes judging is not to rank the wines. It is to select a winner.”

Ken Wilson, owner of Wilson Winery among other Healdsburg wineries, said he’s disappointed by chain of events that left a vacancy in the sweepstakes red.

“The whole of Sonoma County loses,” Wilson said. “All the wineries and winemakers are passionate about what we do. You just took away the (Academy Award’s) Best Picture. How would that go over in the movie industry? ‘Oh, we’re not going to do Best Picture this year.’”

Eric Luse, owner / winemaker of Glen Ellen’s Eric Ross Winery, said “It’s a black eye on the industry … Not to pass it along to the runner up is a crying shame. I mean who’s getting punished?”

Luse said he didn’t enter any 2008s because he didn’t have enough inventory. “Not to come up with a runner up is punishing someone who played by the rules.”

What do you think?