Sunday, September 14, 2008

At Chaddsford, it's Roman wine 401

Want to taste wine at a winery in Eastern and Central Pennsylvania and Maryland? Sure, no problem. Happy to uncork a bottle.

Want to attend a concert? Almost all have something to offer; most that do have just wrapped up their own version of a summer concert series.

Want to come in and learn something about wine? You can, on the right day with the right person helping you. But there are a couple of exceptions where the vineyard has been turned into Wine U;
Chaddsford Winery is one of those places and Crossing Vineyards & Winery in Washington Crossing, Pa., would be another.

And if you look at Wine for Dummies as an intro course for “freshmen,” then the Wine in Roman Times that educator Frank Patterson will be teaching at Chaddsford starting at 7 on Thursday night could be considered more geared toward upperclassmen. It’s the first time that Patterson will offer the course at the winery, where he contributes his time not only as an instructor but also on Wednesdays and Fridays as a guide to the wine and winery, but the fourth or fifth time he’s given the presentation originally researched and assembled for Penn’s Museum of Archeology and Anthropology a decade ago.

In a sense, the more than two-hour slide show and presentation is a history lesson: the origins of wine, its journey to Greece and Italy and specifically Rome, where it flourished until Vesuvius blew its top in 79 AD and put the proverbial cork back in the bottle for a long while.

“I give them a historical approach [about the] significance of Rome in developing the wine industry,” he said earlier tonight, “and it was very, very critical what they did, very significant what they did in terms of manufacturing, in terms of agriculture, in terms of grape selection. It was quite an interesting history.”

That timeline eventually leads to Mastroberardino, a winemaker whose family has been making wine since the 1700s. He’s the one who persuaded the Italian government to fund his research on Vesuvius and the wines that were being made around that time. And that led to his putting in vineyards around the famous peak in Italy’s Campania region with grapes used in Roman times. Except, said Patterson, these new wines “were done in a very contemporary style, nothing like they were done in Rome.”

In fact, you can purchase these wines from the
Mastroberardino vineyard, assuming you’re bound for Europe or have your own method of getting them shipped to you from overseas. Or, you can attend the program and, at the end of the night, taste of some of these wines. The cost, by the way, is $30 and only a few seats remain.

This is one of a number of classes that Patterson teaches in the region, from wines of the world to a chemistry of wine lecture that draws on his background as a chemist with DuPont. It’s his former company that he credits for this wine passion; it sent he and his family to live in Italy for three years and (not surprisingly) he came home with a second career and an appreciation of the how wine has rooted itself into the global culture.

“I decided once I retired to teach wine courses, and that’s what I do,” he said. “I try to limit it because I am retired [and] I want to have fun in life.” He paused just briefly, then continued, “But this is fun for me though.”

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