Tuesday, December 9, 2008

'Paint cans' stirring again at Paradocx

The paint can is back, just in time for the holidays.

Mark Harris, one of the four principles involved in
Paradocx Vineyard, in Landenberg, Pa., said one of the signature products of the operation is back on shelf after a three- to four-month absence. These are gallon paint cans that have a bag in them containing 3 liters of wine, the equivalent of four bottles. The white is called Whitewash, a mix of Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Vidal; the other is named Barn Red, a blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc.

Each sells for $40.99, equal to about 10 bucks a bottle. Harris said they’ve found a following since they were introduced. He called them “nice for parties and those sorts of things, because basically they have a spout on them so you can just pour yourself a glass, and the bag keep the wine, even thought it’s opened, safe for about six weeks or so. They’re popular for holiday parties and taking on vacation.”

It’s an idea others have inquired about, he said in response to a question. “But for right now we’re keeping it to ourselves,” he continued. “We did patent it and trademark it.”

For those who haven’t visited, the winery is owned and operated by the Hoffman (Carol and David) and Harris (Joann and Mark) families. All are practicing physicians, hence, Pair of Docs as the seed for the name. The winery produces about 5,000 gallons of wine annually; 15 varieties of grapes are grown on the property. Mark Harris said that while their 15 wines are a mix of red and white, they essentially make only dry wines, except for the dessert wine, a
Muscat Ottonel. “[Otherwise] our sweetest wine [we make] is in the paint cans, the max is a 2 percent sugar.”

Other than the comeback of the cans, the news out of the winery has slowed for the moment. The Candlelight Christmas event, which included hayrides, got an added boost from a snowfall that provided a holiday feel. Harris said the winery also is pouring at two local Christmas tree farms; otherwise just getting ready for more sales related to the holiday. Two releases of specialty Chardonnays this past weekend will give customers a couple more options: One is an American oaked and the other is unoaked, more along the lines of a naked Chard.

Perhaps the one other visible change isn’t so much at the winery at all, but on its Web site. Upgraded in the past month, one notices the improvement as soon as they hit the home page.

“Our Web site was woefully outdated,” Harris said. “We now have an events coordinator who has the time to work on those kind of things. Her name is Kellie Caldwell. She actually has spearheaded getting our Web site updated, and when you call to schedule an event, she’s the first one you talk to. So our response time in terms of those kinds of things have improved dramatically. It used to be that one of the four of us were handling all that kind of stuff. So now we actually have someone who is dedicated to take care of those things and can get back to people in a prompt fashion.”

Deford: Repeal party at Boory 'was a gas'

Photos are courtesy of Boordy and include (clockwise from above) Dottie and Mark Bistransin (Dottie is the winery's event coordinator), several members of the Boordy staff, and a collection of some of the guests.
Not all events are created equal nor are they assured to ascend to the planners’ loftiest goals.

But last Friday’s End of Prohibition party marking the 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition set a standard that Boordy Vineyards’ Rob Deford said earlier today will be hard to top.

“It was a gas, everyone came in costume,” he said by phone from the winery, the oldest in Maryland, located on the outskirts of Baltimore. “We’re calling the best party we ever had here. I had concerns there would be a bit of overimbibing considering the scene. But it was an extremely responsible group. It was really, I can’t find anything wrong with it. We pick our parties apart until there’ nothing left to see what we did right and what we did wrong.”

Score everything for the right side, from the music played by the
New Hots Jazz Orchestra to the hard work by the employees to the planned “raid,” that earned two people a trip to the Slade’s Inn B&B. About 150 people attended, Deford said. Even an “unplanned” wedding proposal went off without a hitch in front of everyone. She said yes.

Deford said that he didn’t realize until that evening that this year also marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of a book called “American Wines and How to Make Them,” written by Boordy founder Philip Wagner.

“So when I got up to make a toast I read the preface to that book, which is absolutely wonderful,” Deford said. “It was written during Prohibition actually and it was a guide on how to make wine, because there was a federal allowance for 200 gallons per family and Wagner’s goal was to teach families how to make better wine, which is how Boordy got started. Anyway, he said in his preface, ‘We can reasonably hope that if Prohibition continues in force for another couple decades that the United States might actually become a wine-drinking nation, because the consumption of wine rose steadily during Prohibition and so thus began the book that at the time was the only guide in English to making wine and was the founding of basically of this winery.”

The book was published in1933. “I have copy in my hand that Wagner gave me years ago and it’s absolutely charming, and was written as a sort of act of civil disobedience.”

While Deford’s copy might be rare, the text itself has been rewritten into a publication called “Grapes Into Wine” that passes along the same instructions to new generation, albeit one that knows Prohibition only from the pages of a history book. “It’s lost that Prohibition-era flair,” Deford said, “because, you know, as soon as repeal, that whole edge was lost. So that preface is sort of unique to that first volume.”