Saturday, December 13, 2008

Morton gathering draws from several states

Looking down the driveway to Black Ankle Winery in Maryland.

I mentioned in post earlier today about the Karamoor wines. It’s a name that crops up, so to speak, during conversations with a number of regional winemakers, primarily because of the connection to consultant Lucie Morton.

Some of her disciples gathered a couple of weeks ago in Southeastern Pennsylvania for an annual two-day conference. They discussed any number of issues the first day, tasted samples of wine they all brought, then had a chance for additional fellowship that evening. In fact, I happened to pull
Boordy Vineyards partner Rob Deford out of a game of pool with a mid-evening phone call. The next day they hit some more topics, then headed off to look at a vineyard owned by Brad Galer, by Longwood Gardens in Chester County. Galer recently bought what was formerly Folly Hill Vineyards. Morton is assisting with the renaissance going on there. That winery doesn’t figure to reopen until 2010 at the earliest.

Deford was asked what it is about Morton’s beliefs that attract those in the business to her.

“It just is the big Q word,” he said, “it’s all about quality and forward-looking. Our time horizon is about 10 years, and we talk about every step from preparing the soil all the way up to finishing the wines, and what happens sort of off agenda is as important as on agenda, which is we’re talking about every minute step in making the best possible wines. I cant say what anyone of us do is any different than the outside world; I just believe that the commitment and the focus on the vineyard is what’s so critical here.”

Around 20 people were invited, from wineries such as
Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyards in Maryland and TheBoxwoodWinery in Middleburg, Va., about 50 miles south of Washington, D.C. Attendees also tasted the Karamoor juices that I tried yesterday at Allegro. And Morton also has worked with Black Ankle Vineyards in Mt. Airy, Md., winner of the 2008 Governor’s Cup for a Bordeaux blend called Crumbling Rock. Based on their success and from what I’ve tasted of the Karamoor just-off-the-vine juices, this evolution of mid-Atlantic wines is about to take a significant step forward.

Deford said those attending share a lot of stories about success and hardships. “There are some very difficult things happening in vineyards,” he said. “Sometimes you need to know what’s going on with people and that you’re not the only one suffering.”

They also veered into a number of issues, such as “spray schedules and environmentally friendly viticulture and stuff like that, but it’s a tremendous learning experience. The greatest proof for us [however] is the wines. And the wines we are tasting here are absolutely eye-popping. There’s a whole other generation of mid-Atlantic viticulture that’s coming along that’s going to be just really, really exciting.”

No comments: