The Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting welcomes waters from sixteen countries and states as far apart as Hawaii on Saturday, February 26. Held at the Country Inn in the historic spa town of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, it’s the world’s largest and longest running water tasting, dubbed by BuzzFeed and The Week “the most prestigious water tasting in the world.” world”.
The tasting of municipal water, followed by purified drinking water, begins at 2:30 p.m. Non-carbonated bottled waters are tasted at 6:30 p.m., followed by sparkling waters. Winners in all categories are announced at 8:30 p.m. Handcrafted glass water drops, created by Appalachian Glass of West Virginia, are presented as awards.
Over 720 separate waters entered over the duration of the event from all over the United States and as far away as Greece, New Zealand, Tajikistan and Korea. The entries from Indonesia and St. Kitts and Nevis bring to 59 the number of countries represented since the start in 1991. “The impact of winning this event is extraordinary for a bottler,” said Jill Klein Rone, producer of the event. “Many have grown exponentially, others have made major deals, and nearly all of the winners have redesigned their labels to display their winning medal.”
As of 2021, the public now votes online for the People’s Choice packaging design. Voting begins February 12 and ends February 26 at 8 p.m. Anyone, anywhere can vote by going to www.berkeleysprings.com. “The way the product looks and attracts attention has been
are becoming increasingly important as the bottled water industry continues to grow,” said Klein Rone. “There are now over 600 brands of bottled water.”
Due to the ongoing Covid pandemic, masks will be required. There will be no public tastings, but attendees will be happy to know that the famous water rush will take place. Any additional water will be donated to the Eastern Panhandle Empowerment Center. Masking will ensure the safety and privacy of all involved and attendees. The judges and participants welcome this decision.
“We want to thank everyone in advance for their understanding and cooperation,” said Travel Berkeley Springs President Stephanie Rebant.
Watermaster Arthur von Wiesenberger, renowned expert and author from Santa Barbara, California, trains media judges and leads the challenge of evaluating a product where bland taste is the most desired quality. The unique event, dubbed the “Grandfather of Water Tastings,” by von Wiesenberger is produced by Travel Berkeley Springs. Hawaiian Springs Water is a presenting sponsor.
A distinguished panel of media judges determines the official winners. Judges include representatives from Insider’s Guide to Spas, Wonderland Entertainment and the WV Department of Tourism, as well as freelance journalists and writers whose work appears in the Washington Post, Smithsonian and Woman’s World magazines, among others, as well as podcasts and blogs. The award-winning event has been featured on a National Geographic Today television special as well as repeated documentaries, is a chapter in John Lingan’s book “Homeplace” and has been named to various high-profile event lists. He was voted runner-up for the Weirdest Festival at Blue Ridge.
“Water: Beneath the Surface and Around the Globe,” the event’s seminar, addresses industry issues on Friday, February 25 from 1 to 5 p.m. Topics include the intersection of bottled water and a company’s environmental, social and governance program; water education today to ensure sustainable water for tomorrow; why the cost of water exceeds inflation; the healing waters of Capon Springs; and the production of the documentary “H2O: The intelligence of water”. Saturday night’s seminar and events are streamed live on the BerkeleySpringsWV Facebook page.
Shayron Barnes-Selby, Director of Diversity and Inclusion of Primo Water Corporation, will receive the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2006, she received the IBWA Trustees Award for her advocacy efforts and commitment to the bottled water industry. In 2016, she was elected President of the IBWA, becoming the second woman to hold the position in the professional association’s 60-year history. She is a guest speaker at the seminar. Tesanjski kiseljak and the company Zema doo from Tesanj, Bosnia and Herzegovina are the main sponsors of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Special events and activities are all over Morgan County from Friday, February 25 through Sunday. For more information, call 304-258-9147 or visit www.berkeleysprings.com.