Local Lifestyle, News

Berkeley Springs to host 33rd annual International Water Tasting, with public seminars & awards

The Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting will include waters from fourteen countries, and states from California to Florida on Saturday, February 25.

Held at The Country Inn in Berkeley Springs, it is the largest and longest running water tasting in the world.

Tasting of municipal waters, followed by purified drinking waters begins on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Non-carbonated bottled and sparkling waters are tasted at 6:30 p.m. Winners in all categories are announced at 8:30 p.m. Handcrafted glass water drops, created by West Virginia’s Appalachian Glass, are presented as awards.

More than 735 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 Japan. Entries from 59 countries, D.C. and all but three states have been 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.”

Public can judge bottles

A distinguished panel of media judges determine the official winners, but there is a role for the public. All day Saturday, they taste water along with the judges. Most importantly, the public votes for the People’s Choice Award for best packaging.

“How the product looks and grabs attention has become ever more important as the bottled water industry continues to grow,” said Klein Rone. “There are well over 600 brands of bottled water.”

For the third year, the public can vote online for the People’s Choice package design.  Voting begins February 11 and goes until February 25 at 8 p.m.  Anyone anywhere can vote by going to www.berkeleysprings.com.

Judges taste entries

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.

Judges include representatives from the Insider’s Guide to Spas, WV Public Broadcasting, DC News Now and ABC7-TV, Washington DC, 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.

Free seminars on water

“Water: Beneath the Surface and Around the Globe,” the event’s seminar, addresses industry issues on Friday February 24 from 1 – 5 p.m. at The Country Inn in Berkeley Springs.

The seminar will be live streamed on the BerkeleySpringsWV Facebook page.

Topics include healthy hydration, along with the introduction of the Healthy Hydration Center; water education in West Virginia and nature-based solutions to environmental problems.

Project WET – Water Education Today, will have three displays, two of which are self-guided, set up Friday, during the seminar from 1–5 p.m. and Saturday from 2–5 p.m. The displays can be visited by the public for free.

They are the Enviroscape, Incredible Journey (water cycle), and Drop in the Bucket. Officials with Water Education Today will also visit Paw Paw and Pleasant View Elementary Schools on Thursday, February 23 to discuss local watersheds and water resources.

Lifetime achievement award

Robert A. Smith, owner and CEO of Grand Springs Water, will receive the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. He has been a very active member of the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) for many years and was inducted into the IBWA Hall of Fame in October 2022. He 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.

“The real excitement for the audience comes at the conclusion,” Kline explained. “Once the awards are presented, we stage the now world-famous ‘water rush’ where folks scramble to take home some of the hundreds of bottles of water that have been used for display.”

For more information, call 304-258-9147 or check www.berkeleysprings.com.