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Million-dollar Chardonnay challenge cancelled



Less than two months before many of the world’s pre-eminent wine judges were to pick the best Chardonnay in the world during a visit to Whistler, the event has been cancelled.

As many as 50 of the top international noses and palates were to be hosted by Tourism Whistler in the conference centre from Sept. 7 to 12 to rate all the entries in the Chardonnay of the Century Million Dollar Challenge. The winner stood to walk off with the top prize of $500,000, and runners-up would have shared another half-million dollars in prizes at a gala in January 2003.

The contest was a creation of Hennie J.J. van Vuuren, director of the University of British Columbia’s Wine Research Centre (WRC), created in 1999.

"Regrettably, the UBC folks cancelled the project last week," said Chris Coletta, who owns Coletta Consultants of North Vancouver and was communications and competition manager for the challenge.

"We are all very disappointed as so many people worked so hard to make it happen. At the end of the day the sponsorship dollars were thin and the entries did not compensate for the shortfall," Coletta said.

Calls by Pique Newsmagazine to Van Vuuren at UBC were not returned.

Coletta said she is still trying to get a few of the international judges to attend some of the many summertime events in the Okanagan, and perhaps also meet with the WRC group to review the competition framework and determine if the challenge can be revived in a new form at a later date.