Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sweet rules at Adams County Winery

I liked John Kramb’s sense of humor from the time the co-owner of Adams County Winery
spoke into the receiver. “We are the number one winery in the state, alphabetically,” he said, a “boast” I had seen on another post after a couple had visited his winery.

And, indeed, he’s right. First on the alphabetical list, and likely among the tops on the list of state wineries that sell the most sweet and off-dry wines. “It’s a conscientious decision we made,” said John, whose other half -- Kathy – handles most of the business end while he tends to the wine. “Ninety percent of Americans drink a sweet wine. All the other wineries in the United States are trying to make nice dry wines. I like a dry wine, but I’m also a businessman. So do I go after the 10 percent of the market or 90 percent of the market? It’s a pretty easy decision.

“So basically we have introductory wines and then the wines for people who like sweet wines, which is most Americans.” John said they have expanded their line; they used to have one fruit wine, for instance, now they have several. Asked to recommend two wines on this year’s shelf, John mentioned a blackberry wine that’s soon to be bottled and a peach wine. A spiced called Adams Apple is another fruit wine on the list; it's a reflection of the fact that they are located in the heart of apple country in Adams County.

They’ll reach 10 years in business on Oct. 1. And they’ve learned as they've gone along, like never hold Saturday concerts in the evening there. Instead, theirs are 1 to 5 every Saturday afternoon during the summer months. "Number one, after 6 I shut down,” he said dryly. “And number two, we tried it for two years and we learned that the eight-mile distance from here [Orrtanna] to Gettysburg is evidently psychologically longer than we thought.”

This year, to date, has brought a little too much rain (“We’ve had to monitor our diseases in the vineyard more closely”) and not quite as much growth (“Our numbers this year are up, but not a much as in previous years. We’ve had 10 years of steady growth, but this year the growth has been slower,” he said).

Among the activities they offer at the winery is home wine-making. Hearing that brought a smile to my face, only a day or two removed from Ashby Everhart at
Legends Vineyards in Maryland that a wine-making kit is what lured he and his wife into the business. Adams County will hold two classes the remainder of the year: at 1 p.m. on Aug. 10 and Oct. 18. The cost is $25 per person.

Event coordinator Gavin Green said the classes usually fill up; they cap attendance at around 25. Kramb provides instruction on the basics, ending the two-hour class by bottling wine that he made in a previous class. “It’s kind of a continuing cycle,” Green said. They recommend using the juice from the kit on the first try before branching out and actually purchasing and blending the ingredients.

Do they ever see the fruits of that labor? Green said they do. “A lot of them come back in to buy yeast, things like that,” he said. “A lot of times they’ll bring in the wine to let us see how it tastes. One guy brought in mead that he had made. It was pretty good.”

Chaddsford announces Labor Day festival

And one more bit of new on an upcoming event:

Jazz lovers and wine lovers alike will be delighted by the Labor Day Weekend Jazz Festival at Chaddsford Winery (632 Baltimore Pike, 610.388.6221). On Aug. 30, 31 and Sept. 1, from noon until 6 p.m., the winery will host live jazz acts and offer tastings of their award-winning wines throughout the grounds.

“Labor Day weekend is the end of the official ‘summer season,’ and we like to celebrate with great music and great wine,” says proprietor Lee Miller. “It’s a fun way to cap off summer in a beautiful country setting – no extensive travel, no high gas prices, just a relaxing day of wine, music, food and friends.”

Tickets are $20 per person for the day, and include wine tasting, a souvenir wine glass, and two concerts. Foods will be available for purchase from Pace One Restaurant, or guests can bring their own picnic. No other alcoholic beverages will be permitted on the grounds.

The Featured performers are as follows:

Saturday, Aug. 30 –
Brian Betz (12:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.)
Emerging star of jazz guitar, backed by a quartet
The Budesa Brothers (3:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.)
High-energy players with a knack for exciting showmanship

Sunday, Aug. 31 – The Sermon (12:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.)
A funky quintet, playing everything from old soul to disco
Annie Sciolla (3:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.)
Legendary local vocalist with a powerhouse band

Monday, Sept. 1 –
E. J. Yellen (12:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.)
Local saxophonist, playing contemporary jazz from a historical perspective
Bobby Newton (3:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.)
Veteran performer who was entertained alongside Stevie Wonder and the Delfonics

At Sugarloaf, there's a new patio to peruse

Though not intentionally in the promotions business, the e-letter from Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard in Montgomery County, Md., contained some information that's worth getting out there, minus a bit of the fluff.

New patio and perennial garden Open: Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard has expanded! Our new 1,200 foot flagstone patio is now open. Flanked by a perennial garden and sitting wall, it is the perfect place to sit in the shade and enjoy a glass of wine and the cool mountain breezes. Our new tasting room is in final stages of construction and and is targeted to open in October.

Our summer hours are extended: SMV has extended its summer hours through August, staying open until 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. We will be scheduling live music and other amenities on these evenings, so make sure and check the calendar on www.smvwinery.com/news.htm and watch for additional email announcements. Hours on other weekdays remain the same: Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, noon until 6 p.m.

New SMV Wines released: Six new wines have now been released and are available at the vineyard: Our first vintages from the 2007 harvest, the 2007 Pinot Grigio, and 2007 Circe, a new offering we’ve named Stomp! from our fall 2007 Grape Stomp event, and our 2006 vintages of Chardonnay and Merlot. These wines were bottled at the end of May, along with our 16-month barrel aged 2006 Maryland Chardonnay Reserve and 15-month barrel aged 2006 Maryland Comus Reserve. These two Reserves will not be available until October.

Volunteer for the Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard festival team: Come join us for festival season! We are smart, attractive and fun to work with. Our volunteers enjoy free admission to the festivals, a complimentary bottle of Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard wine and a great time. For the most part, volunteers pour wine samples. Training is provided. If you are interested in joining the SMV team for three or more hours at any of the upcoming festivals, contact Kathy O'Donoghue at ksodonoghue@aol.com or 301.365.5044 or call Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard at 301.605.0130.

SMV's off-site retail program expands: Sugarloaf Mountain wine is now available in over 80 locations in six Maryland counties and the District of Columbia. Recently we’ve come to Annapolis at Bay Ridge, Bellas, and Pinky's in Charles County; Grape Expectations in Gaithersburg, and Nick's of Calvert in Prince Frederick Co., and Nick's of Clinton in Waldorf. For a complete listing of all our locations, go to our website at www.smvwinery.com/purchase.htm.

Live Music at Sugarloaf: Saturday, Aug. 2, 2 to 5 p.m., Shane Gamble, a talented contemporary acoustical guitarist, will perform on the SMV Patio. For a preview of Shane's music, visit www.myspace.com/shanegamble. Free.