Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Patone, the 8th member of Brandywine Valley trail, to pour at Harvest Festival's second weekend


Patone Cellars will be open for visitors during this second weekend of the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail's Harvest Festival. The official opening is probably a good six months off. Patone said by phone on Tuesday that various obstacles have pushed back the opening of the winery to next spring. But doing what they can to participate with their partners as one of the newest members of the eight-winery trail, they will be pouring a few samples out of what amounts to a garage where the winery and tasting room will be built at 646 S. Guernsey Road in West Grove, Pa.

That room was a bit too cramped for any business last weekend, but the grapes that occupied that space have been moved out and the boutique winery will be open during the afternoon of both days to serve visitors. "We're going to pour some of the '08 stuff we made last year," Patone said, noting that includes some Merlot out of the barrel and a blend of Chardonnay and Viognier. The latter is a white, he said, that has been "real nice, real clean, real crisp . . . it's been a real big hit so far."

Patone said they made around 1,000 gallons of wine last year and expect to make a little more than that this year. Maybe the winery isn't open, but he's plenty busy between making wine out of the grapes he's importing, focusing on the plans for the building project that's just about ready to grow, and, oh yeah, working his regular job.

I forgot about that part of his life he had to juggle, I told him.

He began to laugh. "Unfortunately, I don't," he said.

Frederick Cellars adds bistro to downtown facility


Frederick (Md.) Cellars has just opened a bistro with a casual dining menu that allows for a chance to try one of its wines with a salad, wrap, melt or gourmet pizza. They'll serve that wine as a tasting, by the glass or as a group in a flight. You can purchase lunch or dinner, and expect either live jazz or blues if you stop by on a Friday or Saturday night. Check out the menu at this link.

Even if you've never been to the area, the winery shouldn't be difficult for you to find, located on one of the main streets at 221 N. East St. It's among a handful of wineries in the region located in the downtown district. As for the wines, they're a mix of red and white, a few getting merit from state Governor's Cup competitions in 2008 and 2009. We wound up taking home a bottle of City Lights, a semi-dry, something that normally doesn't appeal to me as much as the dry reds and whites. But that one did. And the line goes drier and sweeter than that one. They've been lauded the most for their Merlot and Riesling, but give them all a try and see what you think.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ahead for Sugarloaf: stomp, wine and food dinner, and release of newest Bordeaux blend


First met partner Jim McKenna and the folks at
Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyards in Comus, Md., which sits on the border of Frederick and Montgomery counties, by phone sometime last year. This summer we traveled down to the scenic spot where Sugarloaf Mountain serves as the backdrop. Pretty tasting room, comfy patio, good eats, plus a line of wines that appeals to all tastes.

They are one of the few wineries (but the number is starting to grow) that holds an actual grape stomp, this one schedule for the weekend of Oct. 17-18. There will be tours and music and food and, yes, prizes for those who stomp the most juice. Online advance tickets are $12, and tickets at the door are $15 for ages 21 and over. Those under 21 are free. You'll need you ID. You can find out more at the winery's Web site.

Several Sugarloaf wines are served at the Kennedy Center Roof Terrace Restaurant in Washington, D.C., site of a food/wine pairing dinner starting at 7 on Wednesday, Oct. 7. Sugarloaf's wines to be poured will be its 2008 Pinot Grigio, 2007 Cabernet Franc and 2007 Comus. Mike McGarry, an owner of Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard, and Carl DiManno, SMV’s winemaker, will discuss winemaking and wines. No offense guys, but I'd go just to meet Lucie Morton, an internationally renowned viticulturist and consultant to Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard, who will also participate in the discussion. She is putting her stamp on a number of new wineries throughout the region. Tickets are $95 per person. Reservations are necessary. Call 202.416.8555 or visit www.opentable.com. For more information www.roofterracerestaurant.com.

Finally, the winery is about to add a third wine to the family of Bordeaux blends that draw names from classical mythology. There's Comus and Circe and soon to be EVOE! (yes, with the exclamation point). They say the wine is named after the joyous cry of the ancient Bacchanal at festivals honoring Bacchus, the god of wine. No doubt that might be what lingerers at the grape stomp will be yelling after a day of fun. They will start opening some bottles out of the lot of 150 cases of the wine, a 2007 vintage aged for 24 months, at a by invitation only prerelease party on Saturday night, Nov. 7, then be available to the public thereafter. Purchases will be no more than two to a customer, with the wine available for sale only at the winery. The price per bottle figures to land between $42 and $44.

McKenna noted by phone the other day that they if they had any debate at all about the wine, it was over whether to use the exclamation points at the end of EVOE. "I hate exclamation points as a general rule," he said, "but in this context I thought that the exclamation point would catch a few more eyes, and that's the name of the game for merchandising and marketing. What until you see the label. It's gorgeous."

Waltz Vineyards adds expands tasting/events area at their site in Manheim





The French Oak Barrel Room: Where the wine
and its friends go to relax.

Touting wines from Waltz Vineyards in Manheim in an article in the November/December issue of In Central Pennsylvania that's put out by the Harrisburg Patriot-News. They have a good mix of mostly dry wines, so that alone merits my attention and interest. And while you cringe before tasting the juiced of some new wineries, you won't with this place. Interesting the strides they've made in terms of business, not a member of any wine trails yet pulling in a lot of folks from the surrounding community, including Mt. Gretna.

And they've found a clientele willing to pay more for a bottle than you'd expect to pay in this part of Pennsylvania with prices ranging from $18 (Rose) and $23 (a red that's an equal blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) up to $36 (Merlot) and $42 (Cabernet Sauvignon). You might need mapquest or your GPS to find the place, but it's worth the trip just to see the Tuscan designed tasting room and what they are called their French Oak Barrel Room (as you see by the photos, called that for an obvious reason).

Fall hours are noon to 6 p.m. Thursda and Friday, including Thanksgiving Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Monday through Wednesday by appointment.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Debbie Morris: Woodhall's superb 'cruise director'


I've mentioned before the name of Debbie Morris, who is about as jack-of-all-trades as one can get at Woodhall Wine Cellars in Parkton, Md., and is one of the nicest people we've had the pleasure of meeting at any of the wineries we've stopped by. The subject of a note in the Woodhall newsletter for October-November, the piece notes that Morris has been part of the Woodhall team for more than eight years and schedules all the winery' special events: private parties, tastings and weddings. Indeed, the blurb adds, "There's practically no part of the Woodhall operation that Debbie hasn't participated in." And, I'll add, done it with a fabulous demeanor.

The newsletter notes that harvest time also is busy at a place such as Woodhall, which is importing all of its grapes these days. The newsletter notes that grapes for its 2009 Barbera will come from Jennie Schmidt's Golden Run Vineyard in Sudlersville, Md. That vineyards provided the grapes for Woodhall's 2008 Barbera, which took a gold medal at this year's Governor's Cup.

They'll also be proceddig Merlot grapes from Wick Dudley on the Eastern Shore and Chardonnay grapes from Galloping Goose Vineyards in Hampstead. Wrapping up the section under HARVEST, the newsletter notes: "Winemaking is indeed a magical trip and you, our loyal friends and patrons, are invited along for the ride."

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Va La site gets a new look, but old charm remains


Looks like Va La Vineyards in Avondale, Pa., recently made some improvements to its Web site. The winery is a must-visit if you're anywhere in the mid-Atlantic looking for good wine to sample, as is Chaddsford and Pinnacle Ridge and Allegro in Pennsylvania and Black Ankle in Maryland.

The wines at Va La are superior, using a number of grapes you won't see made into juice at other regional wineries. And it's a comfy atmosphere, either out in front of the main tasting bar downstairs or relaxing at a small table upstairs amid the brights colors and vivid shapes of whichever local artist's work is being featured. And I could listen to owner Anthony Vietri talk baseball for hours (while sipping the Silk or Mahongany or Castana or other unique names that grace his labels).

Why else do I like the place? The sense of humor, found in large doses either in person or on the Web site. To wit, on the page under TO CONTACT:

Your suffering shall be legendary...

Attempting to contact Va La has been likened to attempting to contact the dead.
We can not lie. We are farmers who actively avoid electronic devices. For the latest info on hours, etc, we usually make a telephone recording of our voices for people to listen to. Hopefully, the info on the recording is somewhat accurate. Occasionally, people have been known to leave a message on the offhand chance that one of us accidentally wanders by the answering machine.

610 268 2702

And

We can accommodate groups of six or more persons by reservation only. We regretfully cannot accommodate buses, stretch limousines, wedding parties, professional tour groups, or ocean liners during our regular weekend hours. For reservations, info, pricing, private events, life counseling, root canals, etc, please leave a message for Ms Kelly at 610 742 3981, or by computer device: events@valavineyards.com

Birds helping themselves in NY; state expects to top 300 producers by sometime next year


Saw a few notes in the latest weekly e-letter from the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, courtesy of executive director Jim Trezise, that warrented passing along.

2009 GRAPE HARVEST is slowly getting under way, with both similarities and some differences among the various regions. Every region is late in terms of ripening, but recent decent weather has helped, and flavors seem to be developing well, a key component in wine quality.

Each region has unique challenges, and one of those for Long Island is birds, which migrate annually and feast off the great grapes. Many growers have responded by covering their vineyards with huge nets—but now the birds have figured out how to eat the grapes through the nets!

Keep up with the harvest through Cornell Cooperative Extension’s great “Veraison to Harvest” newsletter at http://grapesandwine.cals.cornell.edu/extension.


NEW WINERIES just keep popping up all over the state, confirming that the wine industry is about the only growth industry in New York State. Today there are 273 fully licensed wine producers, 33 satellite stores (linked to wineries but in other locations), and 15 pending winery licenses, meaning we’ll probably top 300 actual producers next year if not sooner.

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While some of the pending licenses are in traditional wine regions, an increasing number are elsewhere, like The Saratoga Winery (www.thesaratogawinery.com) in that tony horse-racing and spa city north of Albany; and Elfs Farm (www.elfsfarm.com), a combination cider mill, farm stand, and now farm winery in the Lake Champlain region bordering Vermont, which has an increasing number of grape growers and wineries.

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We commissioned the New York State Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to conduct an updated New York Winery Survey using 2008 data (vs. 2003, the last survey), which should appear sometime in October. But even that will be outdated, given the way the industry keeps growing.

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(Vigna note: A story on the winebusiness.com site in February 2009 showed New York with 232 bonded wineries in operation, fourth highest in the country and the most outside the West Coast triumverate of California, Washington and Oregon. Virginia was sixth with 152, Pennsylvania was next with 127, and Maryland was tied with Arizona for 20th with 37).

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RIESLING keeps growing in acreage, according to NASS, which every five years conducts a vineyards survey (different from the winery survey). In 2001, there were 461 bearing acres, and another 30 planned; in 2006 there were 683 bearing with 103 planned; and based on my own anecdotal evidence, I would estimate there are now about 1,000 acres of Riesling, with 90% in the Finger Lakes region.

Serpent Ridge among 3 MD wineries pouring at tasting/workshop fund-raiser with VA wineries


I don't think when I posted about the Maryland/Virginia "pourdown" sponsored by Marylanders for Better Wine & Beers Laws that I mentioned the price to attend the seminar/tasting. Was reminded of that by an e-letter that came from one of Maryland's bet new wineries, Serpent Ridge Vineyards in Westminster.

Serpent Ridge will join Black Ankle Vineyard and Bordeleau Vineyards as represeentatives of Maryland wineries. Michael Shaps Wines, Chrysalis Vineyards and Barboursville Vineyards,, all from Virginia, will share their wines at the function on Thursday, Oct. 8, at the Whittemore House, Dupont Circle, 1526 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. The wine and cheese tasting will last from 6 to 9 p.m. and will cost $59. You can register at http://www.giramondowine.com/events. A portion of the proceeds will go toward the fight to legalize wine shipping in Maryland.

The events also will include workshops on understanding the terroirs in both states and on the politics of wine in both states.

Also wanted to note that Serpent Ridge is planning to hold a second wine dinner/demonstration with L'Ecole Culinaire School of Cooking sometime in late October. The first time they teamed up, the event sold out quickly.

This dinner will be centered around preparing dishes for your holiday meals paired with Serpent Ridge wines. Reservations will be capped at 20 settings. The announcement on the date should be released soon. And if you don't want to hear it from me, just reach out to them and get on their e-mail list.

The winery has justifiably been touting its recent awards in the 2009 Governor's Cup competition, including a gold medal for a 2007 vintage of a red blend it produces called Basilisk.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Rest, relaxation become a thing of the past for winemakers once harvest season gets started


Sometimes I'll rag on winery owners for not calling me back right away.

Then there's the other side; not posting information for a week or two from winemakers and owners who DO call me back. That's the case with Jason Price at Twin Brook Winery in Gap, Pa., where large crowds are expected these next two weekends as part of the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail's Harvest Festival.

He called me a few weeks ago in response to an e-mail about the harvest, one he noted can begin as early as late August and continue into November. They grow 12 varieties of grapes at Twin Brook; the earliest to come off the vine are the Foche and Cayuga grapes and the latest are the Cabernet Sauvignon.

"Not the case for this wonderful vintage," Price said about the timeliness of the ripening, which has been delayed several weeks by all the rain. "That's not the case everywhere. Southeastern Pennsylvania there seems like there are all these microclimates that have their own thing going on, but we're experiencing some real delay in ripening."

It hasn't quite provided the same number of horror stories as the 2003 vintage, the worst this decade."I wasn't here then," he said, " but I know that was a real challenging year and I think this year is really giving '03 a run for its money."

Price said the days are long during the several months of harvest, up and picking with the sun and then into the cellar to crush and press the grapes and get them into the tanks. "It can be a 16-hour day," he said. "Last week, Tim [Jobe] and I ran 22 hours straight. We were doing Cayuga, some grapes we got in Gettysburg, and by the time we got all the grapes back and cleaned up the press and locked the door, it was 22 hours straight."

But, like accountants during tax season, there's no sense griping about it. "You realize [the hours are going to be long this time of the year]," Price said. "You can't complain about it because you know about [the long hours during harvest] when you went into it."

Logan's View opened throughout weekend for those looking to try out a new winery


A friend brought back a tasters list from Logan's View Winery, which opened recently on the premises of Brown's Orchards and Farm Market in Loganville, Pa., just off I-83 and right off the Susquehanna Trail.

If you're looking to try out some new, locally made wines, the hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Tastings are $3 to sample the five wines they're making available this week (some wine remains from last weekend's tasting and also is being served as a complimentary sixth sample until it runs out). That tasting fee also gets you an complimentary glass and three dollar-off coupons for bottles of Logan's View Wine.

Told my friend loved the apple wine ($12); also for sale among the fruit wines are orchard cherry ($12), blueberry ($14), wild cherry ($18), strawberry ($12) and apple ice ($24).

The remaining 12 wines for sale are all white, ranging in price from $14 (Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Cayuga and blush) to $16 (including Reisling, Chardonnary, Sauvignon Blanc and Traminette).

No Web site available that I can find that's specific to the winery, although you can find out more by calling 717.741.0300 or going to the Brown's Orchards Web site.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Maryland group pushing change in state's shipment law toasting several recent successes


I've been on the e-letter list for the group called Marylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws since January, when I had a chance to interview executive director Adam Borden about his fight to change the state law prohibiting wineries from shipping their product to homes around the country.

Despite a crazy few weeks either testifying or simply arguing his case to anyone within earshot, the bill to overturn that law was rejected. Just like always. But Borden vowed that 2010 would be different, and recent developments would give some prescience to that battle cry, although he's far from overconfident.

Chatting by phone Thursday afternoon with him, Borden said there has been a "huge amount of progress" with the push to pass this bill early next year through Maryland's House and Senate. One shove came from a Sept. 7 editorial in the Baltimore Sun that supported his group's agenda. The headline: Our view: If Maryland wants to grow wineries and accommodate consumers, the state's misguided ban on direct shipment of wine must finally be discarded.

Borden said he heard that the editorial reverberated quite loudly in Maryland's capital of Annapolis as well as elsewhere across the state. "That was really exciting," he said, "and for them to come out tis early with such a long endorsement was really great."

Indeed, not a single opponent would show up to argue their side with Borden on Dan Rodricks' Midday NPR show last week. And then came last weekend at the Maryland Wine Festival in Carroll County, when the group added about 5,000 signatures to a membership that already topped 10,000. The original group totaled around 1,700.

You can read more about the group and their initiative at http://www.mbbwl.org, where you also have the opportunity to contribute to this grassroots effort. In the meantime, Borden noted that the group is planning a fund-raiser called "Drink Local: A MD & VA Wine Seminar & Tasting" on Thursday, Oct. 8, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Whittemore House (near Dupont Circle) in Washington D.C. It will feature three Maryland and three Virginia wineries, with each one serving a red and white wine. Virginia viticulturalist Tony Wolf and Association of Maryland Wineries executive director Kevin Atticks will offer a 45-minute seminar on the terroir in the two state. A seminar on the politics of wine in Maryland and Virginia will wrap up the evening.

"It's a great way to profile the industry and let people be able to taste some of the wines," Borden noted.

As for this final push before action on the legislation starts in January, Borden said the key is maintaining the momentum and "making sure the delegates and the senators know that this is going to be an issue that's going to come up for a vote this year [2010] and we want their vote. That's really it.

"They've always been . . . what's been such an easy way to co-sponsor is a bill when you know it's never going to get out of subcommittee. But as soon as it looks like it's going to get out of subcommittee, they say, 'Oh ----, I actually have to do something about it.' Soooo, they better be doing something about it."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Just call it biggest-ever Md. Wine Festival


That smile on the face of Kevin Atticks, the executive director of the Association of Maryland Wineries, might be fixed there for awhile. You can thank the success of last weekend's Maryland Wine Festival in Westminster for keeping Atticks beaming.

He said Wednesday that attendance Saturday was around 14,500 and Sunday around 7,500, the latter no doubt affected by the second weekend of NFL football. Still, Atticks was chirping in a phone message he left Wednesday morning.

"Weekend was phenomenal," he said. "It was a helluva time. We had about 450 people in our premier tent, who upgraded to taste some of the finer wines. And a new winery made its debut there. Thanksgiving Farm [in Harwood, located 20 miles due east of the nation's capital]. They have a Pomerol style Meritage, a beautiful wine. Couldn't have asked for better weather. It's probably the best weather I've seen at that festival ever."

The next one to follow in the state will be the weekend of Oct. 3-4 in Hollywood in St. Mary's County. Called Riverside Winefest at Sotterley, it will run from noon to 6 both days. You can find out more by clicking on this link or calling 301.373.2280 or 800.681.0850.

Lehigh Valley's Chambourcin Weekend planned for the weekend of Oct. 17-18

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Wanted to mention that the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail’s annual Chambourcin Weekend will be held at all nine wineries on Saturday, Oct. 17, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on the 18th from noon to 5 p.m.

Chambourcin, pronounced Shom-bor-san, produces a dark, intense wine similar to but not quite as heavy or robust as Cabernet, according to a release from the trail. The varietal is often compared to Merlot because of its softness and Shiraz for its spicy characteristics. Chambourcin also has a fair amount of acidity, which makes it a wonderful food wine because it accentuates the flavors of the food. In the Lehigh Valley, there are 36 acres of Chambourcin grown today yielding 93 tons of grapes and producing 14,725 gallons of wine in 18 different styles. The styles include Nouveau, Rose, Sweet Red, Semi Sweet, Dry Oak Aged and Sparkling. The Lehigh Valley's Chambourcin wines have won more than 50 medals in various competitions around the country.

Some events happening along the trail include:

  • AmorĂ© Vineyards & Winery will feature four styles of Chambourcin paired with ravioli in a red Chambourcin sauce, Chambourcin Bar-B-Q, and assorted breads with PASTAMORE dipping oils.
  • Big Creek Vineyard will be pairing a number of traditional Pennsylvania Dutch Foods from its neighbors at Grouse Hunt Farms with our 2008 Chambourcin. The sampling will include Brandied Peaches, Vanilla Peaches, Brandied Cherries and a few types of fruit butter.
  • Blue Mountain Vineyards will offer its 2005 Chambourcin paired with Braised Beef with Tomatoes & Herbs both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday it will offer a Chambourcin Seminar and Tasting at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. with the winemaker. Saturday it will offer complimentary acoustic entertainment provided by Rob and Marty. On Sunday it will offer our very popular Fall Foliage Wine Tasting featuring Leechboy for an admission of $5. Wine trail customers to the winery are welcome for wine tasting and our pairing at no charge.
  • Clover Hill Vineyards & Winery will once again pair up with Chef Nathan Grube to present cooking demonstrations featuring Chambourcin friendly foods on the patio, at 1, 2, 3 or 4 p.m. for a demonstration. The demonstration food will be available for sampling and plates of food will be available for purchase.
  • Franklin Hill Vineyards will be featuring its delicious homemade beef stew paired with Chambourcin. Klein's Farms Dairy & Creamery will be joining the folks at Franklin Hill to offer their gourmet handmade cheeses. Fresh apples and apple cider will be available at Kachline's Farms.
  • Galen Glen Vineyard & Winery will feature tastings of Chambourcin infused and winery prepared Chili with our Claret, a naughty new world blend of ‘Cin and Franc, or Cellar Red, our unwooded and fruity Chambourcin wine. In addition, you can sample its autumn favorite, mulled Chambourcin.
  • Pinnacle Ridge Winery will be releasing its 2007 CHAMBOURCIN RESERVE. Brad Knapp and Co. will be pairing the new vintage with a wonderful selection of smoked meats and cheeses from Dietrich's Meats and Country Store.
  • Vynecrest Vineyards & Winery will be serving samples of beef a la Chambourcin, a rich beef and mushroom stew served over noodles (recipes available) paired with its 2007 dry Chambourcin. There will be live music in the Vyneskeller Wine Bar both days 1 to 4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Report: With higher rain and fewer degree days, harvest promises to be a bumpy ride for vintners


I've been sharing excerpts from the monthly e-letters that Mark Chien, who is Pennsylvania's wine grape educator, sends to his clients and friends. Some of the terminology and subject matter can get more technical than many novices want to or can absorb, but for those like myself who share an interest in all that goes on to produce the wine, it's meaty stuff. Plus it often makes you realize just how many hurdles these folks jump over to turn out each year's vintage.

Mentioned in other recent posts how bad the season has been for most grapes; just too much rain throughout much of the state. And that's what Chien references in one of the items that came via e-mail on Monday.

I've been stuck in the mud as far as posts these past couple weeks. Have three or four interviews to get up, but between work and school and a nasty cold, I'm behind on things. Worst part is trying to stay away from alcohol and, thus, not drinking any wine. Well, maybe the worst part was having tickets to the Maryland Wine Festival in Westminster this past weekend and being too sick to go. Kevin, we'll try again next September.

Anyway, Chien writes:

The weather has improved but by no means is this vintage out of the woods. Dry periods like we are experiencing are great for putting the brakes on disease conditions, if only temporarily and moving the physiology of berry ripeness forward. The conditions of this vintage are pretty much etched in stone and even with good weather we won't make much brix progress. I think the idea now is to push fruit as far as possible to gain flavors, phenolic balance and drop acid, especially in red varieties.

All of your work with disease control, canopy management, crop adjustment, etc are either paying dividends now are maybe indicating what should have been done but if the work isn't done by veraison [Editor's note: the terms for when wine grapes change color], it is mostly too late to catch up. Gazing at fruit chemistry data from our colleagues to the north (statewide NY data in their Veraison to Harvest newsletter) it is pretty certain, as you have surmised by now, that we are staring at a low sugar year. The data from the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program is even more scary - current degree days are 24 days behind 2008 and a whopping 33 behind '07. It's hard to quite know what to do about making still wine in these conditions.

But low sugar doesn't have to mean low flavor and-or balance. I remember vintages like this in cool-rainy Oregon and one of the nicest Pinots we made came in at 19.5 brix. I think in a cool vintage like this one good wines are more about flavor and phenolics and not as much about sugar. In cool conditions getting the necessary heat to the berries to synthesize flavor and phenolic compounds is a struggle and every effort should be made to warm the fruit (see attachment).

Alcohol can be "fixed" with careful chapitalization to bring balance and texture to the wine. Chapitalization is a science and art and you should ask experienced wine makers how and when to ameliorate a wine. The biggest cellar problem I have heard about so far is high pH and high acid grapes. This is a real cellar conundrum. Wines that suffer from this imbalance can have awkward texture and suffer from "Eastern twang", that sensation you get when in your mouth when you play a Jews harp. You'll have to find a really experienced enologist to tame a wine with this problem. . . . The duty of the grower right now is to get the grapes in as clean as possible. At least if the grapes aren't fully mature the wine maker won't have to worry about diseased fruit and off flavors. That might not be easy, even if the sun continues to shine.

Downy and powdery mildew on leaves and even phomopsis on fruit are all a continuing concern, even more if the rain starts again. The rots are all out there, if not already fully expressed in tight clusters then in latent form just waiting for the right moment. There isn't much you can do at this point but to keep the fruit zone very open and hope for sun, dry conditions and a nice breeze. When the rot starts to spread, consult with the wine maker about the threshold for damaged grapes. Ideally he or she should be out in the vineyard tasting grapes with you. Whites are more forgiving of rot than reds so the wine maker might let white varieties hang a little longer. But if the grapes are mired in bitter, ripe or sour rots, you can't push them too much further before they turn to mush that has no hope wine.

Friday, September 18, 2009

John J. Jeffries dinner in Lancaster this month to include wines from Chaddsford Winery


One of the biggest supporters of regional wines will be teaming with one of the region's best wineries on Friday, Sept. 25.

John J. Jeffries Restaurant in Lancaster monthly holds a dinner that includes wines or beers from a regional producer. This month they will be teaming with Chaddford Winery for a meal that will start at 7 p.m. and cover three courses.

The menu includes Neck Pumpkin Bisque with Chaddsford pinot grigio, following by braised lamb shank teamed with a Chaddsford red blend of Sangiovese and Barbera called Due Rossi, and a pear tarte matched with riesling.

Tickets are $48, including tax and gratuity. Reservations at 717.431.3307 are recommended.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

State hands over Governor's Cup to Black Ankle





Black Ankle Vineyards in Mt. Airy, Md., officially received its
Governor's Cup trophy Tuesday in Annapolis. Pictured are Maryland Secretary of Agriculture "Buddy" Hance and Black Ankle Vineyards owner Sarah O'Herron with the Governor's Cup trophy and the winning wine, its 2007 Crumbling Rock.

One place to taste this wine and a majority of other throughout the state
will be this weekend at the Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster. The times for the 26th anniversary of the Maryland Wine Festival are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. The cost to get in? $25, unless you decide to visit the Premier Tent, which costs $45. Entry into the Premier Tent will entitle ticket holders to a private sampling of premier Maryland wines and gourmet foods provided by area restaurants.


Fall fete on Saturday at Manatawny Creek


There's a Fall Equinox festival this Saturday, Sept. 19, at Manatawny Creek Winery in Douglassville, Pa. It will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It's a chance to hear some music, chomp down on some food (including the famous Manatawny Mac and Cheese). Artisans will sell their crafts and tours of the winery will be given at noon and 3 p.m.

Owner Joanne Levengood said in an e-blast that they will have a second tasting/purchasing area set up on the crush pad to try and alleviate some of the crowding in the tasting room.

Blair Vineyards seeks help for Sept. 26 harvest


If you live anywhere near Mertztown, Pa., and have the urge to pick grapes, Blair Vineyards will hold its harvest on Saturday, Sept. 26. The owners extend the invitiation to anyone 21 and over and ask that any visitors leave their dogs at home. The group will meet at 8:30 a.m. and head into the vineyard. Those assisting can stay as long as they want and, if they decide to hang around long enough, can watched the grapes they picked get crushed and pressed.

They're looking to hold the number of pickers to around 25.

Anyone with questions or who would like to RSVP can write Missy at mblair@blairvineyards.com or call 610.682.0075.

Blair's white wines include Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, and its reds include Pjnot Noir,m Cabernet Franc, Merlot, a blend called Rockland Red and a Cab Franc/Merlot mix called Wedding Cuvee. Actually, call it a marriage of the two grapes, since this wine was served at the weddings of two of the Blair children.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Raspberry wine back on shelves at Galen Glen

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Galen Glen Vineyard & Winery in Andreas, Pa., a member of the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail, is touting its raspberry wine that was released in the past couple of days and that it's planning a winemaker's dinner for Saturday, Nov. 7. A menu is in the works and reservations are being accepted at 570.386.3682.

The winery is open for business Fridays through Sundays and also on Memorial Day, Labor Day and Columbus Day. Stop there and you can sample a wide mix of wines, from white to rose to red to dessert and sparkling.

One intriguing aspect is who carries the wine outside the winery. Four local restaurants in the vicinity of Jim Thorpe and Tamaqua carry Galen Glen's wines, but so do three in the Lancaster area, including the
Belvedere Inn and John J Jeffries in Lancaster and the General Sutter Inn in Lititz. A fourth, called Gibralter, is also expected to carry wines from a winery that's a couple of hours away.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Black Ankle birthday (and wine) party on Oct. 3-4


You've read here and elsewhere about Black Ankle Vineyards in Mt. Airy, Md., and the remarkable start that winery has had, both in sales and recognition. It has owned the Maryland Governor's Cup, earning best of show in its first two years of entering wines into the competition. Its Bordeaux (red) blends have won consecutive years, the 2006 Crumbling Rock ($40) winning last year and 2007 Crumbling Rock earning honors just a couple of weeks ago.

And owners Sarah O'Herron and Ed Boyce are proudly touting that its Left-Stone Syrah, which hasn't been released as yet, took first in the Atlantic Seaboard Wine competition.

So if you want to see what all the fuss is about, you might want to circle Oct. 3-4 on your calendar and head to the winery to help celebrate its first anniversdary. The winery will be open noon to 6 p.m. that Saturday and noon to 5 o'clock the next day. And if you can't make down to the winery, here are some other places that Black Ankle wines will be poured over the next six weeks.

Saturday, Sept. 12, from 1 to 4 p.m.
Di Pasquale's Italian Market in Baltimore

Sunday, Sept. 13, all morning
Bethesda Central Farmer’s Market

Tuesday, Sept. 15, at 6 o'clock
Volt at Whitmore Farm
Award-winning chef Bryan Voltaggio will create an elegant 6-course dinner at the certified-organic Whitmore Farm, and Black Ankle's wines will be among those poured for the dinner. For more information, please visit Volt Restaurant or call Volt Restaurant: 301.696.8658.

Friday, Sept. 18 from 4 to 8 p.m.
Wells in Baltimore

Saturday & Sunday, Sept. 19-20, The Maryland Wine Festival in Westminster, Maryland's biggest wine festival

Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 7 p.m.
Chesapeake Wine Company
$25
Enjoy a flight of wine paired with a delicious selection of antipasti in the warm and friendly atmosphere at Chesapeake Wine Company. $5 from every tasting fee goes to benefit Partners in Health.

Thursday, Oct. 8, at 6:30
$49
Drink Local: MD & VA Wine Seminar and Tasting
Whittemore House in Washington, DC

Friday, Oct. 9, from 5 to 8 p.m.
Upcounty Fine Wine & Beer in Clarksburg, MD

Saturday, Oct. 10, from 1 to 5 p.m.
Longmeadow Wine & Liquors in Hagerstown

Friday, Oct. 16, from 4 to 7 p.m.
Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits in Annapolis

Tuesday, Oct. 20, from 4 to 7 p.m.
Mount Airy Liquors in Mt. Airy

Friday, Oct. 23, from 4 to 7 p.m.
Calvert Wine & Spirits in Hunt Valley

Saturday, Oct. 24, from 1 to 2:15 and 3 to 4:15
Great Gatherings in Annapolis
Join us for a fun and casual wine tasting in the home store that specializes in everything you need to have a great time or throw a great party at home! Please contact the store to RSVP in advance.

Thursday, Oct. 29, from 6 to 8 p.m.
Bin604 in Baltimore

Friday, Oct. 30, 4:30 to 7:30
Lyndwood Square Wine & Spirits in Elkridge, MD


Wine 101 starts Monday at Crossing Vineyards

Maybe someday I'll get to teach a Wine 101 course. But, for now, I'll be content to attend them and get out the word about them, including one that Crossing Vineyards and Winery in Washington Crossing, Pa., has cooked up.

The six-course series will debut on Monday, Sept. 14, and then continue the next five Mondays at the winery, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. You can go once or all six times; that's up to you. Visitors will receive an insider’s access to the vineyard and winery - and a taste of Crossing’s wines.

Presenting the Wine 101 courses will be the winery’s French-born sommelier Eric Cavatore, who taught wine and table service at The Restaurant School in Philadelphia . He holds a bachelor’s degree in Restaurant Management/Culinary Arts from Thonon-Les-Bains on the shores of Geneva Lake and worked at fine restaurants in France and the U.S. before joining The Restaurant School.

Cost per course is $30 or $150 for the series. Courses will be presented at the winery, 1853 Wrightstown Road , Washington Crossing, through Oct. 19.

Additional courses are: Sept. 21, “Types of Wine”; Sept. 28, “Wines of the World”; Oct. 5, “White Wine”; Oct. 12, “Red Wine”; and Oct. 19, “Food & Wine Pairing.”

For additional information and registration, call 215.493.6500, ext. 19 or visit the Web site.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Md. to 'cut ribbon' on Piedmont Trail next week


The Association of Maryland Wineries sent out an invitation earlier this week announcing a press conference at Fiore winery in Pylesville on Wednesday, Sept. 16, from 2 to 3 p.m. Officials will announce the creation of the Piedmont Wine Trail, which will include the following wineries: Basignani, Boordy, Dejon, Fiore, Harford, Legends, Mount Felix Estate and Woodhall.

Several of these wineries already are on other wine trails, such as Basignani and Woodhall, which are member of the Mason Dixon Wine Trail with members across the state line in Pennsylvania. But there's no such thing as too many affiliations, said Kevin Atticks, executive director of the winery association.

Atticks wrote in an e-mail: "Yes, they've realized that trails=visitors, so if they can be a part of multiple trails [each with a different audience], then all the better."

No event specific to the trail is planned as of yet, but Atticks noted all will be attending Legacy Chase on Saturday, Sept. 26.

Twin Brook to release Chard Reserve in a few weeks


Been trying to no avail to actually talk to winemaker Jason Price at Twin Brook Winery in Gap, Pa. But he has an excuse, with harvest season just beginning, increasing the hours in the field and in the cellar. We'll eventually catch up.

He did give me enough to post with a short e-mail earlier this week. Twin Brook, a member of the
Brandywine Valley Wine Trail, produces eight dry wines, three off-dry wines, and nine sweet wines, including a 2006 Vidal Reserve. The tasting notes describe the Reserve as a sweet, fruity white with hints of guava and pineapple. It sells for $15/bottle.

As for Jason, he writes: "Hey Paul, doing well. Getting geared up for harvest, so we are wicked busy. Chard Reserve is still a couple weeks away. This wine will be perfectly balanced with just the right reduction in acidity, a soft mouthfeel without tasting like a stick of butter and everyone that has tasted it agrees the oak aging was more than agreeable with this Chard. Just like the Naked, this barrel aged Chard is something we are going to be proud to pour. We are everyday (as long as it isn't raining) in the vineyard . . ."


Needless to say, the periods of rain, some heavy, forecast for tonight and tomorrow is the LAST thing that waterlogged regional wineries need at this point.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

New York foundation trumpets upcoming Restaurant Week in Buffalo, Rochester

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Filing this item under the heading of things I'd like to see happen in various Pennsylvania and Maryland communities. This note comes from Jim Trezise, the head of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation:

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LOCAL RESTAURANT WEEK is slated for September 21-28 in Buffalo and Rochester, with over 200 restaurants featuring three-course menus for $20.09 along with an array of New York wines and beers.

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Spearheaded by Peter Longo, President of the Buffalo chapter of the New York State Restaurant Association, the program brings together farmers, chefs, suppliers and customers, highlighting the great local products available to consumers in these areas.


In March, 150 restaurants participated in Buffalo, with 75 Rochester restaurants in April. The fall promotion, which we support, will include more restaurants and will occur simultaneously in the two markets. For more information, go to www.localrestaurantweek

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Kreutz Creek, Manatawny Creek both looking for volunteers to assist with the harvest


It's getting to that time of the year to pick grapes. If yo haven't done it, you have your choice of a handful of wineries looking for help across Pennsylvania and Maryland. I wouldn't call it backbreaking work; depending on how warm a morning it is you likely will break a sweat. And you might have to brush away a bee or two, but even those aren't as disruptive as they once were. But generally what awaits -- usually a lunch or dinner that includes the uncorking of more than several bottles of wine -- makes you forget about any hardships in the vineyard.

Two wineries looking for help include
Kreutz Creek Winery in West Grove and Manatawny Creek Winery in Douglassville. Carole Kirkpatrick in her e-mail said that Kreutz Creek will harvest sometimes on weekends and sometimes during the week, depending upon the ripeness of the grapes. If you want to help, let them know when you're available by calling Carole at 610.869.4412.
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In fact, they enlist help several times during the year, including coming up on Labor Day when they'll do some bottling. If you missed that deadline, they'll give you another shot next Memorial Day.
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Joanne Levengood of Manatawny Creek said in her e-mail that they'll pick grapes from the last week in August until the end of October and ask for volunteers on five or six days during that time period. Since they do not know when the grapes will be ready, they'll call people on their picking list only a few days before the picking day. If interested in being on the volunteer picking list, email (manatawny@aol.com) or phone (610.689.9804) in your:
1. Name,
2. Phone number,
3. Whether you can pick on weekdays or weekends only, and
4. Any lunch preferences (i.e. vegetarian).

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"We will make every attempt to contact everyone on the list at least once," Joanne said.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Logan's View opens at Brown's Farm Market

Logan's View Winery is officially open for business.

Operating out of Brown's Orchards & Farm Market in Loganville, in Pennsylvania's York County, the winery made a soft opening a couple of weeks ago. You'll find the wines available in a room adjacent to the market. Jeff Brown said by phone on Thursday that they have bottled more than 15 wines, including Chardonnary, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. As anyone who has shopped at Brown's -- where there's delicious fruit aplenty -- might expect, they also have seven fruit wines for sale, including cherry, blueberry, strawberry and an apple ice wine.

It might be another six months to a year before the red wines that are aging will become available for sale.

Those involved in this project initially talked about a tasting room facility a few miles from the site of the market. That idea has been shelved, with everything being sampled and sold out of an approximately 400-square-foot room at the store, located at 8892 Susquehanna Trail South.

Mentioned in the last post on Logan's View about a potential relationship with the Uncork York trail. If that occurs, it won't likely become official until early next year before the annual spring event.

Pinnacle Ridge winemaker says three's 'a lot of interest' in The Trio


Mentioned several weeks ago about a wine called The Trio, which combined the talents and grapes from winemakers and friends Brad Knapp at Pinnacle Ridge, Joanne Levengood at Manatawny Creek and Carl Helrich at Allegro Vineyards, all Pennsylvania wineries.

They define it as an artisan blend of Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, one that is well balanced, with soft tannins and a medium dry finish. The individual grape varietals were aged in French, Hungarian and Pennsylvania oak before blending. What makes it interesting is the collaboration, something that's rare in this mid-Atlantic wine-making area.

Knapp was asked Thursday how the wine, available at all three wineries, was selling. He replied in an e-mail that "The Trio is doing very well. It is considerably more expensive than our other wines [$20 for Pinot and Veritas vs. $29 for Trio] but it doesn't seem to be a big issue. Not selling cases of it but there is a lot of interest and folks are buying 1-3 bottles at a clip pretty regularly. The wine is quite good and the story certainly doesn't hurt either."

Considering what other blends across the region can cost, which is upwards of $50, this one offers a mouthful of yummy flavors at a comparatively inexpensive price. Rather than letting my bottle of The Trio age, I opened it late Thursday night and had a chance to sip it. Definitely worth a try, especially knowing these are grapes from the 2007 vintage, one of the best-ever across the entire region.

Helrich provided some background on the idea on his blog, which he has managed to build into a wonderful collection of stories about what he does and why. Really good stuff in there. On The Trio, he wrote:

This wine came about because I had what I called a “dumb marketing idea.” We always taste each other’s wines each spring, and in 2008, we all realized that we were each sitting on too much great wine. I suggested this collaboration, and it worked out really well. After getting together a couple times to work on the blend, we settled on a distinctive trio of grapes: Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Each winery kicked in four barrels. I donated 2 Merlot and 2 Cab Franc barrels to the cause; Joanne added 2 Syrah and 2 Cab Franc; and Brad threw in 2 Syrah and 2 Merlot. We blended the wine up at Joanne’s winery and bottled it there as well. This wine had a good core of dark fruit with light yet firm tannins. It was aged 18 months in French, Pennsylvania, and Hungarian oak barrels—another “three.” It should age nicely through 2012-2014.



Thursday, September 3, 2009

Black Ankle's Crumbling Rock voted state's top wine in Governor's Cup competition




Inside the Black Ankle tasting room and a view from the patio.

Results are in from the Maryland Governor's Cup competition and the new kids on the block, Black Ankle Vineyards in Mt. Airy, had the most to celebrate.

Guided by the work of Sarah O'Herron and Ed Boyce, the Frederick County winery won a best in show with its 2007 Crumbling Rock, its Bordeaux-style red. That wine was best in class in the best red blend category, and its 2008 Bedlam was named best white blend. A 2007 vintage of that same white blend -- a mix of Viognier, Chardonnay, Gruner Veltliner and Albarino -- was a winner of the 2008 Maryland Winemasters' Choice Award. Not even open a year yet, the winery already is considered by some as the best winery in Maryland and among the best on the East Coast for the quality of its wines. The winery's success is even more of an achievement considering that it's still in its infancy.

Elk Run Vineyards, essentially a next-door neighbor of Black Ankle, took best in class in the best red division and a double gold with its 2007 Cold Friday Cabernet Sauvignon.

Below are some of the top wines and wineries, with a link to the complete list. By the way, one way to taste many of these wines is to attend the 26th annual Maryland Wine Festival on Sept. 19-20 at the Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster. You can find out more by clicking on this link.

Best in Show
Black Ankle Vineyards, 2007 Crumbling Rock

Best of Class Awards
BEST RED: Elk Run Vineyards • Cold Friday Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
BEST RED BLEND: Black Ankle Vineyards • Crumbling Rock 2007
BEST WHITE: Fiore Winery • Chardonnay 2007
BEST WHITE BLEND: Black Ankle Vineyards • Bedlam 2008
BEST OFF-DRY: Cygnus Wine Cellars • Manchester Hall 2007
BEST SWEET: Orchid Cellar • Monk (mead)
BEST DESSERT: Dove Valley Winery • Late Harvest Vignoles 2007

Double-Gold Medalists
Elk Run Vineyards • Cold Friday Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Gold Medalists
Black Ankle Vineyards • Crumbling Rock 2007
Black Ankle Vineyards • Leafstone Syrah 2007
Black Ankle Vineyards • Rolling Hills 2007
Black Ankle Vineyards • Bedlam 2008
Cascia Vineyard • Queen Anne Reserve 2005
Cove Point Winery • Blaufrankish
Cygnus Wine Cellars • Manchester Hall 2007
Dove Valley Winery • Late Harvest Vignoles 2007
Elk Run Vineyards • Liberty Tavern Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Elk Run Vineyards • Vin de Jus Glace 2006
Fiore Winery • Chardonnay 2007
Legends Vineyard • Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Legends Vineyard • Meritage 2007
Legends Vineyard • Pinot Gris 2008
Orchid Cellar • Monk
Revolution Winery • Declaration Meritage 2007
Revolution Winery • Pursuit of Happiness NV
Running Hare Vineyard • Chardonnay 2008
Running Hare Vineyard • Sangiovese 2008
Serpent Ridge Vineyard • Basilisk 2007
St. Michael’s Winery • Syrah 2007
Woodhall Wine Cellars • Golden Run Reserve Barbera 2008

Complete winners identified at this link.