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Water judged in four categories at W.Va. contest

February 27, 2005|BY TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.VA.

The key to a winning water is one that is refreshing, that is equally pure and "tastes alive and crisp," said Arthur von Wiesenberger, Water Master of the 15th annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting held Saturday at Coolfont Resort.

Using those guidelines, more than 115 entries from throughout the world were judged in the four water categories of municipal, purified, bottled noncarbonated and sparkling. Both the public and judges voted for the People's Choice award for the best packaging design.

The 2005 gold medal winners are:

- Municipal water - Gibsons, British Columbia

- Noncarbonated bottled water - Le Sage Natural Wells, Lesage, W.Va.

- Purified drinking water - Imibe, Broadview, Saskatchewan

- Carbonated bottled (sparkling) water - Roua Muntilor, Covasna, Romania

- People's Choice packaging design - Juliana, Jesenice, Slovenia

The winners will receive handcrafted fused-glass slump bowls created by Amingo Glass of Hedgesville, W.Va. The bowls will have the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting logo on it along with their name and the category sandblasted into the glass.

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The judges tasted the municipal water and purified drinking water Saturday afternoon and the bottled noncarbonated water and sparkling water Saturday night. The awards presentation and reception followed.

More than 300 people attended the event, including a camera crew covering the event from the Network for Games and a filmmaker from Vancouver, British Columbia, who is making a water documentary.

Mark Winik of New Haven, Conn., said he and his friends drove in a snowstorm to come to the event. Winik said he and his business partners "have a business model that we believe would increase the exposure and increase the dollar value of smaller bottled water companies to differentiate from larger commercial companies." Winik said he made some contacts at the event.

Weekend visitors Joan and Dick Rule said they enjoy finding interesting things to do in Berkeley Springs, and this weekend they were entertaining John and Val Turner, guests from England, so the water tasting event was the place to come.

Val Turner said it was interesting to visit another spa town like their town in England. John Turner liked the fact that there was water represented from all over the world.

Von Wiesenberger, who is a noted water authority from Santa Barbara, Calif., has been Water Master for all 15 tasting events. He said the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting is the "only ongoing water tasting in the world. Berkeley Springs reflected the importance of water."

Close to $9 billion was spent on bottled water in the United States last year, which was an increase of 7 percent, von Wiesenberger said. Soft drink sales dropped in 2004, he said.

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