Saturday, October 11, 2008

Regional Wine Week, Day 6: Crossing Vineyards

Raising a glass to celebrate five years in business are Crossing Vineyards and Winery owners, from left: Christine Carroll; Tom Carroll Jr., the winery’s vintner; and Tom Carroll Sr.

They’ll be cutting sheet cake in a couple of hours at Crossing Vineyards & Winery, about an hour’s drive out of downtown Philly. It will be a cake with a modest numbers of candles – five – at a winery that already has developed a rich legacy among Bucks County wineries.

It’s one of eight wineries on the
trail, one with all of them closer in proximity than any other area in the state outside of Erie. A few date back into the 1960s, Buckingham Valley comes to mind, and slowly others have staked their claim. One of those is Crossing, and it’s as much distinguished itself by what it offers educationally as the wine it puts on the shelves.

Christine Carroll noted that reaching this milepost is a big hurdle if you believe in the idea that the first five years of any business is the "acid test." She and husband Tom Sr. were off on the road again yesterday, the start of another busy weekend that will include the festivities at the winery and, oh yeah, all the work that accompanies harvest time. What has set Crossing Vineyards apart, she said, “is from the very, very beginning, before we planted Vine 1 in the ground, we had a one word mission statement and that was quality. . . . our goal was always to create as fine an East Coast winery as we could. We were well-capitalized, we purchased the finest equipment available. Every decision we have made, from Day 1, has been on quality, and those were difficult at time because some were expensive decisions.”

One of those priorities has been to embrace a “green” initiative; to that end they recently installed the first phase of a state-of-the-art solar energy system that ultimately will use solar power to supply 100 percent of the vineyard’s energy needs.

At the root of the business, of course, is the wide variety of wine; 20 at this count, an equal mix of red, white and specialty. Christine noted that their line “leans toward dry vinifera. We do have some sweets. You now, many people who are not experienced wine drinkers come to drink wine and their palate [is more geared toward sweet wines than dry vinifera]. We don’t want to lose those people. Our feeling is that we are going to come out to meet you. Maybe we can teach you about wine or maybe your palate will always enjoy sweet wines. Or maybe it won’t. Really, we just try to empower people. It’s why we charge for tastings, because we educate them as they taste. We want to meet them where they are and we want to open them up to a whole wonderful world of [wine and everything that accompanies it.]”

If you get a chance to stop, try these two wines:

2006 Cabernet Franc

Winemarker’s notes: This dry, full-bodied Cabernet Franc has a deep, garnet color and jammy, cherry-berry taste. Barrel aging adds to the complexity of the finish and brings out luscious, lingering accents of blackberry, bell pepper and toasty oak.
Christine Carroll: “We do what we call bench trials. Bring in six different blends, then all try them and make notes. And when we did the bench trial on this one, we all picked the same thing. We knew we had something special. We submitted it to the Critics Challenge in San Diego. Judging was the end of May. We won a gold medal for that wine. [See Challenge notes here]. To us, a gold medal in a California competition is significant.” Not generally released yet, she said they plan to release it very shortly.

2006 Late Harvest Vidal Blanc

Winemaker’s notes: This elegant dessert wine is rich and sweet with hints of honey, candied orange zests and apricots and a long, luxurious finish.
Christine Carroll: “This is maybe the finest wine we’ve ever made. . . . We let the whole block hang through November and into December. It was a warm December; it was warmer in December 2006 than it was Easter 2006. Once we saw the extended forecast we decided to pull the plug [and let the grapes hang]. Turned out unbelievably wonderful.
We won an award in the Finger Lakes for it, won awards [for it] all over the place. It’s a wonderful wine, the best one we currently have for sale.”

No comments: