Saturday, December 6, 2008

Woodhall readies for busy December

The winery that first got us excited in local wines is Woodhall Wine Cellars down in Parkton, Md. We started showing up at the 25-year-old winery for everything from their barrel tasting to their soups weekend to the library tasting and sale they have for only case club members. There aren't too many wineries that "blow the dust" off their wines in the cellar and sell them, but Woodhall does. It's enjoyable tasting wines from grapes that might have been growing in the early to mid 1990s or even the early 1980s, the latter of which they put out for tating last year. Brought home one of their 1985 Cabs and opened it six months later. It had held together splendidly. So have the 1991 and 1995 Cabs I've brought back from their sales. Appropriately, that's taking place this weekend, again for those who have bought cases there in the past. I believe the times will be 1 to 4 p.m. today and tomorrow.

But what prompts me to write this entry on Woodhall isn't so much the library tasting as the bit of commentary that the lovely Debbie Morris put at the top of the winery's December e-letter. Call Morris the queen of hospitality; she's generally there when we pop in on the weekends and no one can provide a more pleasant and hospitable greeting. You can't help but sit down and relax for a bit. She noted the following:

WELL, Maryland wine did it again. We posted an 18.2% increase in sales for 2007. That marks the seventh year in a row in which the increase has been in the double digits. And the number of wineries continues to grow. We are now up to 34, with more on the horizon. Is the industry breathing easy – not on your life. We lag behind neighboring states on the number of wineries and the per capita consumption of locally produced wine. We are continually faced with new bureaucratic barriers to conducting normal business operations. And consumers keep commenting “I didn’t know that there was a wine industry in Maryland.” I guess that you’ll have to redouble your efforts to get the word out – We are.

And so am I. It's the chance to get the word out on an industry that many don't realize exists that has served as the motivation for this daily labor of love. Always fun to introduce folks to something they've never tried; I can only hope that this blog continues to grow in popularity so it can shed even more light on two states, Pennsylvania and Maryland, that are only beginning to make strides toward producing wine that can hold its own against the best nationally and, in a few specific cases, internationally.

Two other notes from the e-letter. There's this one on the cookie challenge and wine sale that starts next weekend:

December is a fun time at Woodhall. We decorate, We frost cookies with kids. We serve hot mulled wine when you come to see us. We have an expanded selection of gifts, including made-to-order baskets, quality wine gift sets, stocking stuffers and other neat gifts.

DECEMBER 13/14, 12-4 pm Kids Cookie Challenge and Wine Sale

Quite a combination, but it works. Bring the kids to frost sugar cookies. Enjoy a cup of hot mulled wine (the kids get hot chocolate) and pick out your case of holiday wine at the “first 100 days” discount price of $100. We’ll be featuring gift items from Moose Ridge Alpacas, The Pampered Chef, and jewelry by Silpada and crafts by Victor DiPace. On Sunday , from 2 to 5 pm, Christmas music will be offered by the quintet, The Dreadful Grapes.

DECEMBER 20/21, 12-4 pm. More Cookies and Wine Sale

If the kids liked the cookies, bring them back. If you were busy on the 13th and 14th, here’s another chance for the kids to get their fingers messy with frosting, and you to get a case of wine for the holidays at the “first 100 days” sale price. No music though.

And, finally, this one on some wine and food pairing suggestions for holiday food.

Here are Woodhall’s holiday wine recommendations:

Roast or Smoked Turkey/Duck/Goose and Salmon
Jubilee Reserve Barbera Cabernet Franc
Pinot Noir Sangiovese
Chambourcin Vignoles

Roast Chicken/ Cornish Game Hen/Rabbit
Golden Run Reserve Vidal Blanc Rose’ of Sangiovese
Seyval Pinot Noir
Chardonnay Any of the Sweeter Wines
Gunpowder Falls White

Roast Beef/Veal/Lamb
Copernica Reserve Cabernet Sauv. Chambourcin
Parkton Prestige Cabernet Franc
Jubilee Reserve Barbera Cabernet Sauvignon
Jubilee Reserve Merlot Angler Red
Gunpowder Falls Red Party Garnet

Stuffed Ham Maryland Style
Chardonnay Sangiovese
Seyval Angler Red
Chambourcin Party Garnet

Ham with Pineapple, Cloves and Brown Sugar
Patricia’s White Pinot Noir
Rose’ of Sangiovese Any of the Sweeter Wines

As a generalization, match the character, not color, of the wine with the character, not color, of the food. If the food is slightly sweet, consider an off-dry wine. If the food is a bit acidic, (e.g. fish in a lemon sauce), choose a slightly acidic wine. Slightly bitter foods (red meats, green vegetables) call for wines with tannin. Salty foods go best with off-dry or sweeter wines.

Remember, however, that a food/wine match is greatly influenced by the seasoning used in the preparation of the food. For example, spicy preparations match well with off-dry, floral wines – the hotter the spice, the sweeter the wine. And heavy sauces and grilling can change the classification of fish and fowl from light foods to heavy foods.

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