Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year, and what's ahead in 2009

I felt like the best way to wrap up 2008 on this blog was to ask the winery association heads in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia to look ahead to 2009. You can find their responses below.

To all, a very happy and healthy new year. For those crunched by all that has happened these past few months, here's hoping that the new year offers a quick turnaround and an abundance of optimism.

Jennifer Eckinger, spokesperson, Pennsylvania Wine Association:
"PA has had a strong growth over the past few years and each year it seems that approximately 10 new wineries open their doors. In the latest listing of limited wineries that I received from the PLCB it showed 135 licensed wineries. Several of the wineries are looking to open in the coming year and others are dormant licenses. Averaging out the wineries that will be starting up in the coming year, I anticipate more than 115 wineries that will be open to the public."

Kevin Atticks, executive director, Maryland Wineries Association:
"My guesstimate is we will have at least six wineries licensing in 2009," he said this morning. You can find those listed on the
Maryland wines site. "Most of them are up there [on the site]. Two aren't there yet. And we're launching two new wine trails, which is pretty exciting for us." Neither has a name yet. One will encompass Eastern Shore wineries, and the other will bring together southern Maryland wineries. As for one big issue for '09? Same one as last year and the year before that. "We'll spend the first half of the year in the state capitol," he said, "attempting to clean up some ancient alcohol laws." It's an ongoing effort, he admitted, that has a ways to go.

Annette Boyd, director of the Virginia Wine Marketing Office:
"We currently have 144 wineries in Virginia. Up from 131, this time last year. This number is dynamic since we always have a few wineries that close in addition to the ones that open. To average this, I’d say we usually have about 15 new wineries open a year. But that number is brought down by the few wineries that close in the same year. I’d say one of the largest issues that Virginia wineries will face in 2009 will be continued zoning issues from local governments that want to separate agricultural practices from manufacturing and retail practices that are all important parts of any farm winery business. Most small farm wineries are dependent on tourism to build their customer base."

First 'chocolate sighting' at Crossing on Sunday

Wrote the other day about the Riedel workshop at CrossingVineyards in Washington Crossing, Pa. Proprietor Christine Carroll, also the director of marketing and public relations, wrote in an e-mail that they were pleased with Sunday's turnout. And the way it worked out, and this is my line not hers, those who left had a chance to head home, watch the Eagles win, and toast to the victory with the king of all wine-drinking vessels.

Carroll noted that they sell Riedel at their store, and to participants in the workshops they offer a 20 percent discount on the day of the class. She said the next clas is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 25. "So anyone who is interested in buying Riedel at a good discount can take the class," she wrote. "For $99, participants get a 4 glass tasting set, the class (including wine tasting) and the discount. When you take the 20% off, CVW is about competitive with Amazon for the purchase of Riedel glassware."

Today is the end of the current promotion that revolves around free shipping on case purchases. They've still yet to decide whether to continue that in the new year.

With the calendar being replaced after tonight, many wineries roll into the new year with at least one promotion centered around chocolate. Some wait until February and Valentine's Day. Crossing Vineyards is planning to hold a wine and chocolate pairing class at 2 p.m. this Sunday, Jan. 4. The course will be led by winery sommelier Eric Cavatore and chocolate and confectionary aficionado Stacey Glynn-Brady, store manager for Lindt & Sprüngli chocolates.

According to a press release, they will share tips on the finer points of producing chocolate and wine, what creates the variety of flavors in both, and how to enjoy the two together.

Lindt chocolate still is made from a “top-secret” recipe, devised in the 1800s by Swiss Master Chocolatier Rodolphe Lindt, who invented the first melting chocolate with the creation of the “conching” machine, according to Lindt history. The delicacies produced by parent company Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprüngli AG also are influenced by the Sprüngli family, confectioners whose recipes date back to 1845

Cost of the course is $35 and includes wine and chocolate sampling, learning materials and the Lindt Chocolate bar of the participant’s choice. Reservations can be made by calling 215.493.6500, ext. 19, or by going to the winery Web site.