The Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting welcomes waters from sixteen countries, and states as far away as Hawaii on Saturday, February 26. Held at The Country Inn in the historic spa town of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, it is the largest and longest running water tasting in the world, dubbed by BuzzFeed and The Week “the world’s most prestigious water tasting.”
Tasting of municipal waters, followed by purified drinking waters begins at 2:30pm. Non-carbonated bottled waters are tasted at 6:30pm, followed by sparkling waters. Winners in all categories are announced at 8:30pm. Handcrafted glass water drops, created by West Virginia’s Appalachian Glass, are presented as awards.
More than 720 distinct waters have entered over the life of the event coming from all over the United States and from as far away as Greece, New Zealand, Tajikistan and Korea. Entries from Indonesia, and St. Kitts and Nevis brings to 59 the number of countries represented since the beginning in 1991. “The impact of winning this event is extraordinary for a bottler,” said Jill Klein Rone, event producer. “Many have experienced exponential growth, others closed major deals, and almost all winners redesign their labels to display their winning medal.”
Beginning in 2021, the public now votes online for the People’s Choice package design. Voting begins February 12 and goes until February 26 at 8 p.m. Anyone, anywhere can vote by going to www.berkeleysprings.com. “How the product looks and grabs attention has be
come ever more important as the bottled water industry continues to grow,” said Klein Rone. “There are now more than 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 famed water rush will take place. Any extra water will be donated to the Eastern Panhandle Empowerment Center. Masking will provide safety and privacy for all of those involved and attendees. 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, noted expert and author from Santa Barbara, CA, trains the media judges and directs the challenge of evaluating a product where tastelessness is the most sought after quality. The unique event, dubbed the “granddaddy 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 determine the official winners. Judges include representatives from the Insider’s Guide to Spas, Wonderland Entertainment and the WV Department of Tourism, as well as journalists and freelance 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 was 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 top event lists. It was voted runner up for Weirdest Festival in the Blue Ridge.
“Water: Beneath the Surface and Around the Globe,” the event’s seminar, addresses industry issues on Friday February 25 from 1 – 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 is outpacing inflation; the healing waters of Capon Springs; and the making of the documentary, “H2O: The Intelligence of Water.” Both the seminar and Saturday night’s events are live streamed on the BerkeleySpringsWV Facebook page.
Shayron Barnes-Selby, Primo Water Corporation’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, will receive the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2006, she was awarded the IBWA Directors’ Award for her advocacy efforts and commitment to the bottled water industry. In 2016, she was elected to serve as IBWA chairwoman, becoming the second woman to hold this position in the trade association’s 60 year history. She is a featured speaker at the seminar. Tesanjski kiseljak and company Zema d.o.o. from Tesanj, Bosnia and Herzegovina is the presenting sponsor of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Special events and activities are everywhere in Morgan County Friday, February 25 through Sunday. For more information, call 304-258-9147 or check www.berkeleysprings.com.