Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ravenswood prez to speak at Vintners' dinner

My thanks to Karen Cline -- who kicks out news you can use for the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail -- for the kind words (and a gentle kick in the butt) earlier this evening. Sometimes it's just nice to hear from folks who read this thing. Still in its early stages, getting the word out about its existence remains one of my more vexing problems. But, nothing that is insurmountable.

Anyway, Cline reports that Ravenswood Winery (Sonoma, Callif.) winemaker and president Joel Peterson has accepted an invitiation to speak at the trail's Vintners' Dinner Celebration at Longwood Gardens near Kennett Square, Pa. The evening event (6:30 to midnight) will be held Saturday, Nov. 8, in the East Conservatory and Ballroom. In addition to a wine reception and a dinner that will pair up with many of the wines from wineries on the trail, there will be dancing to the Brass Ensemble of the Kennet Symphony of Chester County and a silent auction that will raise money for The Little Rock Foundation.

Most of the proprietors of the seven wineries that make up the trail (the seventh, Black Walnut, is scheduled to open later this fall or after the holidays) will be attending. The cost is $135 per person. You can register online at the trail's Web site or call 866.390.4367.

Black Ankle wins Maryland's Best of Show

Black Ankle Winery is building up quite a resume. Now all it has to do is open its doors.

The winery in Mt. Airy, Md., that already has received a ton of press earned some more yesterday when it received the Governor’s Cup Award for “Best in Show.” This 19th annual competition was sponsored by the Maryland Wineries Association What drew top price for Black Ankle was its 2006 Crumbling Rock, a Bordeaux blend that includes Cab Franc, Cab Sauvignon and Merlot as the major players along with a touch of Petit Verdot. According to the
specs, the wines “spent 16 months in barrel, where they were topped and stirred weekly for 6 months, then topped bi-weekly until they were blended, fined, and lightly-filtered in preparation for bottling. The 2006 Crumbling Rock was bottled on April 2nd, 2008.”

It’s one of 10 wines that Ed Boyce and Sarah O’Herron are producing, and it’s a unique list; there are no sweet wines among the group. Six are white, including an Albarino that’s usually seen coming out of Spain rather than the Maryland Piedmont.

Association president Kevin Atticks wrote in an e-mail that there’s plenty of significance to a “rookie winery” taking the top price.

“The fact that a new winery — with wine from its very first vintage — has won the Governor's Cup is an incredible nod to the winegrowing prowess of our growing industry,” he wrote. “With Black Ankle Vineyards' win in the Governor's Cup, and also in the Winemasters Choice Awards, they have shown that locally-grown Maryland wine is of the highest quality and that sound viticulture and winemaking practices rule.”

Those who have watched the pair pour significant money and time into this new winery can’t be too surprised at the early success. They purchased a 146-acre farm in Frederick County in 2002 and began planting in 2003. What has delayed the opening of their tasting room, originally scheduled for July, has been this desire to erect a building that “uses as many materials from our farm as possible, including wood, straw, soil, rain and sun,” according to their site. Those who want to try their wines can head down to the 25th annual
Maryland Wine Festival this weekend at the Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster. In fact, most of Maryland’s 34 wineries are expected to be pouring samples. And, if you can’t make that to try Black Ankle’s wines, that tasting room will probably open the following weekend, although nothing official has been announced.

"Thanks for the congrats on the Crumbling Rock - we are really proud of it," Boyce wrote in an e-mail. "We think our reds will be the backbone of our reputation, so the fact that it is garnering some acclaim is a good thing."

In addition to Black Ankle's best of the best, six other “Best of Class” awards were given out, including two each to Elk Run Vineyards and Boordy Vineyards. “In all, the awards included 25 gold medals, 46 silver medals, and 47 bronze medals.