The International Water Tasting Competition–Berkeley Springs, WV

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The AFP has turned their compass due South, hitting the pavement through blinding blizzards and the windy mountain roads of West Virginia.  We filled up on a healthy dose of vegetable oil from Dartmouth College’s cafeteria that feeds the minds and bellies of America’s finest Ivy Leaugers.  The ‘Wild and Wonderful’ West Virginia coaxed us with a number of interesting events, namely the annual International Water Tasting Competition in Berkeley Springs.  The competition, now in its 19th year, is no gimmick.  This is a serious and accredited competition that attracts water submissions from all over the world!  We were greeted by gracious hosts and organizers of the event, namely Jill Klein Rone and Jeanne Mozier who were busy unpacking boxes from last-minute submissions from Romania and Japan.  Unfortunately, we were unable to attend the main event on Saturday due to another festival (which we will soon post), so our experience of the water tasting competition was short lived.  However, we photographed an afternoon of the preliminary water tasting which was quite entertaining.

Andrew and I were also thoroughly educated by the country’s leading water consultant, Mr. Arthur von Wiesenberger.  He flies out from Santa Barbara, California every year to serve as Water Master and educate the local ‘celebrity’ judges on the basics of water tasting.  Like wine tasting, there are certain things to note in water, but it can be more difficult to judge due to the lack of ingredients (ie. minerals).  You can learn more about Arthur von Wiesenberger and water tasting in our short video.

International Water Tasting Competition from Ross McDermott on Vimeo.

Amazingly, we left the competition without ever trying any water ourselves.  Instead, we had to continue down the snowy roads of West Virginia and meet our friend Willie Lehman who runs the Mountain State Brewery.  We soon forgot about the world of water as our host showered us in delicious, free beer.

Posted by Ross, posted on 02/25/2009 at 6:08pm. Bookmark this post.


  1. Posted 02/26/2009 at 9:45am

    Sean McDermott:

    Ross and Andrew,
    This is by far the best video that you have made yet. And the pictures, for me, really capture the seriousness of the event. I thought they were wonderful. And just to let you know, here are the winners:

  2. Posted 02/26/2009 at 10:56am


    I really enjoyed your coverage of this event! What an interesting competition… And the first photo is beautiful! I can’t wait to see what’s next!

  3. Posted 02/26/2009 at 11:13am

    Really nice coverage Ross and Andrew. Nice lighting of people etc. Great video, so informative. Photos are looking goooooooood!! Hey, you having fun???

  4. Posted 02/26/2009 at 11:48am


    If I had known there are professional water drinkers in the world I never would have bothered with this whole journalism business. You didn’t happen to snag one of the flask water bottles, did you?
    Great post.

  5. Posted 02/27/2009 at 12:17am

    Mark P:

    Wow. I mean, wow.

    Chase re Julie: “She’d be eaten alive in that world.”

  6. Posted 02/27/2009 at 7:11am

    Augustine McD:

    Hi Ross,

    I want to see you again. I’m just trying to eat. I don’t know anything more to him. Or we could send a letter to him. Of us. At somewhere. I want to drink some water and different tastes of water. Are we going to ever get a different taste of water to drink, Dad? Where? The grocery store? Mommy said one time you have to have big tanks to breathe underwater, but I know the things, but you can have goggles and flippers and there are these kinds of goggles that have a breathe-up and then you can breathe and put your face in the water, but she says you need to have big tanks on your back to breathe. Why is that? We have that in my French book.

    (Ana Jean says: Alyosha!)

    Augustine (and Ana Jean)

  7. Posted 02/27/2009 at 7:22am

    Ryan McD:

    You know, if you make a book out of this, every one of these festivals will sell your book every year it is in existence. To a captive, already positively inclined audience. I’m thinking especially of this one, given the current controversy over bottled water. Everybody thinks their festival shows the best side of their particular passion to the world. Why drink bottled water? For the same reason you don’t just drink your local wine or beer. It’s not a convenience, it’s a gourmet experience. In general, festivals seem to say–whether they’re about coondogs or an icy pond or wooly worms–”It’s not to be taken for granted: it’s special, and if you could see it like we do, like those of us who love it, you would love it, too. And there tends to be a claim to transformative power: if you interact with the subject in this way (e.g. by cutting a hole in it and jumping in), you will be changed, and you won’t see the world, or this particular part of the world, the same again.

    It’s that _seeing_ analogy that is so important to the rationale of your project. And it’s why these festivals would sell lots of copies of your book.

  8. Posted 02/27/2009 at 10:05am


    this post made me thirsty.

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