Monday, August 25, 2008

School bells' ringing at Crossing Vineyards

So we’ve written a lot about the grapes that are picked and the wine that’s made and the events that make a winery feel like home. But some also have turned their farm into a campus, offering classes on a variety of subjects related to wine.

Owner Chris Carroll of Crossing Vineyards & Winery in Washington Crossing, Pa., sent out the list for fall the other day. Temple U, where I teach as an adjunct, would be impressed.

And, like Temple, the winery has a satellite campus; it recently opened that in East Falls. Classes run the gamut, from the basic 101s that introduce students to all things wine to a few upper-level courses. All are taught by an experienced staff that deep roots in Philly’s wine and food community.

Carroll wrote in an e-mail that the makeup of the attendees is as diverse as the classes offered.

“The people who sign up for our classes represent a real mix of ages,” she wrote. “Some Sundays at Dummies, we'll have lots of ‘Millenials’ and ‘Boomers.’ We're a little light on the ‘Gen-Xers,’ who are probably too committed with family and don't have much free time. We see a pretty even mix of men and women. Couples often take classes together.”

Classes start soon after Labor Day at East Falls and at the winery, in what’s called The Wine Institute. One series returning is called Wine 101, which is broken down into six topics and held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. every Monday starting on Sept. 8. These include an introduction to wine and the types of wine, instruction on storing, serving and tasting red and white wines, and then pairing wine with food. In this case, classes can be taken individually for $30 or as a complete course for $150.

Others back in the Institute’s
curriculum are Wine Tasting for Dummies once a month on a Sunday afternoon, a one-hour workshop in November called the Wine List Survival Guide, and a wine and wellness class entitled Eat Drink and Be Healthy that’s also set for November. Wine Tasting: Old World vs. New World is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 2. Marika Vida-Arnold, sommelier at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia, is planning what the winery’s release is calling “a fun, fast-paced hour of information on classic European wines and their casual New World counterparts. She will emphasize their differences in taste and style and explain how to pair them with food.” And, the best news as far as I’m concerned, I can still get into work in time to handle all assignments for the Eagles at Seattle game, which begins at 4:15. Hey, that’s for anyone out there not paying attention.

As you might expect, Crossing Vineyards wines are used in every class and there’s an emphasis on acquainting students with what’s around here rather than on the Left Coast. “We deliberately don't offer courses on California,” Carroll wrote. “Most people are more familiar with California than any other wine region. They think wine is synonymous with California, even more so than France or Italy. We want to do new and different classes, wines they might not get elsewhere. We feature CVW wine in every class we give; so we are educating on East Coast wines all the time and illustrating through our quality product that award winning wines can be produced in Pennsylvania.”

All suggestions for new classes are considered, she added. And, in fact, two are making their debut on Crossing Vineyard’s “main campus.” One is a wine and chocolate pairing course – Pairing Wine and Chocolate: How Sweet It Is -- featuring Lindt of Switzerland. Crossing Vineyards’ sommelier Eric Cavatore and Stacey Glynn-Brady, Manager of Lindt of Switzerland at Palmer Square in Princeton, N.J., will explain how both chocolate and wine are made and will offer advice on how to enjoy them together. This one costs $30 to attend.

The other is a French Wine for Beginners course that will target the varietals and appellations of Burgundy.

“We have an Italian Wine for Beginners class on the fire,” Carroll wrote, responding to a question about what else is planned, “[and] a Wine and Cheese Pairing Class, as we have recently opened a Wine and Cheese Shop in the Mohegan Sun Casino at Pocono Downs.”

Joining regulars Cavatore, Wine for Dummies instructor Tom Carroll Sr. and Vida-Arnold are Collin Flatt, wine writer for, a Philadelphia-centric food magazine/blog. Flatt holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Temple, has trained at the Wine School of Philadelphia and then broadened that education with extensive wine travel and study in Italy.

He’ll teach three courses at The Marketplace at East Falls, 3747 Ridge Ave. They include:

Wine Tasting for Dummies, $25, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 26, 2 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 9, 2 p.m.
The ABCs of Wine Tasting, $20, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2 p.m.
Wine List Survival Guide, $20, Sunday, Nov. 16, 2 p.m.

No comments: