Monday, November 30, 2009

Serpent Ridge offering food/wine pairing Dec. 11

Couple of quick notes out of Serpent Ridge Vineyard, a Maryland winery located in Westminster that opened this summer.
It's opened Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and offers a mix of primarily dry whites and dry reds. Four already have been honored in several Maryland and out-of-state competitions. The most decorated is their Vintner's Cabernet, which is 65 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 35 percent Cabernet Franc. That earned golds in the Indy International and Winemaker Choice competitions, and a silver in the 2009 Maryland Governor's Cup competition. All told owner Karen and Grag Lambrecht produce six wines, including a rose.
They will be closing from Dec. 23 to Jan. 22, 2010, one of the few wineries I've seen in the region that will shut its doors after the Christmas rush.
Before then, on Friday, Dec. 11, the winery will hold a holiday hors d'oeuvres and wine pairings. The event will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. and cost $35 per person. Chef Greg Hutsell from L'ecole Culinaire School of Cooking will prepare several dishes and be on hand to answer questions about preparing what he makes at home. There will be six hors d'oeuvres paired with three Serpent Ridge wines. Reservations are required. Call 410.848.6511.
One final note our of their most recent e-letter: "As many of you know, we are a true artisan style winery and everything is done by hand - including our bottling. There will be multiple opportunities to be part of this exciting process over the next few months and if you would like to volunteer, please email our winemaker, Greg at with your contact info."

Talking a little Mischief and 20 percent sale at Pennsylvania winery called Black Walnut

Should you get in the vicinity of Chester County, east of the Gap around the point where Route 30 turns into an elevated four-lane highway, steer down Lincoln Highway and stop in to Black Walnut Winery. A member of the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail, Black Walnut now has its facility open for business. Nose around the 200-year-old renovated bank barn, and give the wines a try. It's a winery owned by two couples -- Val and Lance Castle and Karen and Jack Kuhn -- that's similar to a few others around the region in that it imports all of its grapes.

Was reminded of the winery, which officially opened in August, when we opened a bottle of their wine last night called Mischief. It's a medium-bodied to full-bodied white that blends their 2006 Pinot Gris and 2007 Chardonnay. Dry, with some hints of oak and the distinct smell of citrus. We just sampled enough to sip and enjoy, but it would have gone well earlier with the mix of vegetables, salad and shrimp we had out on a platter.

Black Walnut is open four days a week, from noon to 6 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Also worth mentioning: As of Black Friday the winery launched its 20 percent off sale on all of its inventory that will last through the end of the year.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A sale worth sampling: Manatawny marks down 2006 Meritage by 30 percent

Like the looks of a Meritage sale that's currently under way at Manatawny Creek Winery in Douglassville, Pa. Owner/winemaker Joanne Levengood makes a line of wines that represent the region and state very well. Always like to mention that it's the only place I've visited where we were offered the entire line to taste (not sure if that has changed) at no charge (I'm very sure THAT hasn't changed), both winery staples that are about as common as a Pennsylvania screwtop. In other words, good luck finding more than a handful of others that provide so much when you walk into the tasting room, in addition to the snacks they place on their bar.

Levengood reported in her December e-letter early Friday that she has around five cases left of the Meritage, something you can drink now or store for a few years down in your cellar. This 2006 vintage is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot and normally sells for $21.95, on the lower end of the price scale when you compare it to other Meritages in the region. She's pushing it out the door by taking 30 percent off, knocking the price down to 16 dollars and change. Once those cases are sold, she'll roll out the 2007 vintage at the regular price.

Their Pinot Noir also is on sale, marked down 10 percent off the $14.95 price. As Levengood noted in her e-letter, this wine is aged in French oak and should be bound for your lips rather than your cellar. "This is not a wine for aging," she wrote. "It is wonderful with Christmas turkey -- we had some with our Thanksgiving turkey this year and it was a fabulous match."

More and more winemakers are using their e-letters or blogs or Facebook to chime in with answers to basic wine and wine pairing questions. This is Levengood's take on how to match up with holiday foods: "Which wine should you serve with your holiday dinner? Anyone who has ever been in our tasting room knows the answer to that question – serve what you like! The subjectivity of wine applies to wine pairing as well. Having said that, however, there are a few simple things to keep in mind. Don’t overpower the food with the wine and vice versa. If you are serving a turkey breast with a light glazing, serve it with a lighter wine like Pinot Grigio. If you are serving turkey with a full-flavored, hearty gravy, you may want to try an oaked Chardonnay. The addition of a sweet cranberry sauce may call for a wine with some sweetness to it, like a Riesling. Everyone thinks about white wine pairing well with turkey or ham, but a lighter-bodied red like Pinot Noir can work really well too. I very much like the idea of setting the table with two wine glasses at each place so everyone can try two different wines with each course. Different wines really make the food taste different!"

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Allegro's Bridge hits all the high notes

One of the wines I featured in the Jan-Feb issue of In Central Pennsylvania magazine, published by the Harrisburg Patriot-News, is Allegro Vineyard's Bridge. It's a Bordeaux-style blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc that ages for 22 months in French oak barrels and then is bottled unrefined and unfiltered.

Opened another bottle Wednesday to go with a pre Thanksgiving Day meal (in other words, the day you sit around with family and sample a few wines) and it was very, very good. Wonderful fragrance and color with just the right amount of tannins, it's something you could pair with any number of foods or simply savor as you're sitting around talking.

Carl Helrich, the winemaker and owner of the winery in The Brogue, in southcentral Pennsylvania, had e-mailed me about the history of the name at the time I was writing the story. It served as a bridge, he wrote, between the Cadenzas of former owner John Crouch and the ones Helrich was producing. You could call Cadenza, also a Bordeaux-stlye blend, the previer member of the Allegro line.

"In 2006, I felt that the wine wasn't quite Cadenza quality, but much better than our regular bottling," he said. "I brought back the name in 2006, and we bottled a 2007 as well. We may have one from 2009. We'll see."

It's selling at $27 a bottle. Definitely worth the investment. Helrich had noted that he felt this present vintage for sale (2006) would peak in 2011 and could be cellared as late as 2016 to 2018.

To Carl and wife Kris and all the other supporters and readers of this blog, Happy Thanksgiving and the many, many blessings this holiday brings.

Terrapin Station considers virtual wine tasting

Let me post this and then try and hook up with the folks from Terrapin Station Winery in Elkton, Md., over the next few days to find out the story behind the story. Already one of the more innovative wineries in the mid-Atlantic area with its support of the Terrapin Institute and its line of boxed wines, owners Janet and Morris Zwick want to try a virtual wine tasting if they can find enough interested parties. Here's how it would work, based on what's in their e-letter.

We are considering holding a virtual, online tasting using the capabilities of Talk Shoe.

This is how it would work:

1. We would announce the date for the tasting and the wine(s) that would be tasted.

2. You would acquire the wines for the tasting so that you can taste along with the event.

3. We would set up a Talk Shoe show that you would log into.

4. During the show, we would taste and talk about a wine or wines while everyone online tried them along with us.

5. During the show you could ask or post questions or comments.

We would like to give it a try, but of course don't want to log in and listen to (virtual) crickets chirping. Therefore, please let us know what you think by answering the poll we have on our Facebook fan page or send us a note
here. If there is enough interest, we'll announce a date and give it a whirl.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Fiore serving dessert on Friday and multi-course Christmas meal on Dec. 5

Two notes from Fiore Winery in Pylesville, Md., less than a half-hour drive from I-83 and the Pennsylvania communities of Shrewsbury and Stewartstown.

The winery will be open Friday and is inviting visitors to pack a lunch and park themselves anytime between 1 and 4 p.m. Fiore Winery will provide trhe dessert and offer a 21 percent discount on all wine case purchases. While you are there, try and taste some of the Fiore wines that have received awards over the past several years, including the Proprietor's Reserve Chambourcin and the Chardonnay. And, in general, you'll find them priced moderately.

Like other regional wineries, Fiore is planning a Christmas meal from 6 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5. Live music will be provided by the local duo Chalk Dust. Menu by Panache Fine Catering. Each course is served and paired with Fiore wines. Reservations are requested for the event, which will cost $65 per person.

Here's what you can expect to eat and drink:

Hors d'oeuvres: Antipastotable of cheeses, vegetables, dips, and spreads, with artisan breads, crackers,pita, crostini

Apple-lucious, Sangiovese

Seated Dinner: Butternutsquash ravioli with sage, rye, and cream.

Pinot Grigio

Baked salmon with roasted pepper sauce and spinach orzo.


Spice beef round with roasted green beans and grape tomato.

Proprietors Reserve Chambourcin

Seasonal salad with fruit, nuts, and cheese, vinaigrette.

Vidal Blanc

Christmas pudding with hard sauce.

Maryland Merlot

Two bits of news from Mt. Felix: pumpkin wine for sale and open Thanksgiving

Saw where Mary and Peter Ianniello, the owners of Mt. Felix Vineyard & Winery in Havre de Grace, have released a pumpkin wine. Called Terra Maria, the tasting notes mention hints of cinnamon and spice with a long finish of sweet pumpkin. As far as the background of the name, Italian explorer Giovanni Caboto (known to the English as John Cabot) discovered for England the route to the Chesapeake and North America in 1497. A century later English settlers arrived in "Terra Mariae," or "Mary's Land," named in honor of their queen, Henrietta Marie. These settlers, the story goes, relied upon the pumpkin, a native food relished for its flavor and versatility.

I've never tried pumpkin wine, but doubt that I will have a shot at a taste of this release, which is selling for $12.99. An e-letter sent Wednesday referenced a limited supply and not much left. So I'll wait for the batch next fall, if they choose to make it again.

Weekend hours: open til 8 today, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

While new Maryland winery opens this weekend, two others to try a dual barrel tasting promotion

Maryland wine honcho Kevin Atticks (OK, he's officially the executive director of the Maryland Wine Association) noted by phone today that the state's newest winery will open this weekend. Harford Vineyard in Forest Hill will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, and the same times during the next three weekends in December.

Expect to be able to taste and purchase five wines (all white at this point), including blush, Sweet Harmony (a semisweet white blend), Pinot Grigio, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc. Assuming the process here will be similar to other wineries opening up, such as Logan's View in Loganville, Pa., with the whites available to tasting and purchase the first six to 10 months and then reds also for sale thereafter.

The Web site notes that grapes were first planted on the 20-acre farm in 2003, with the wine facility opening two years later and now the winery opening for business.

Meanwhile, there are usually several highlights on the monthly newsletter coming out of Woodhall Wine Cellars in Parkton, Md., and this year is no exception.

Already posted info on the library wine dinner on Thursday, Dec. 10, at the winery. In addition, the winery will be teaming in a unique event with nearby Galloping Goose Vineyards in Hampstead on Dec. 5-6. Called a Point-to-Point Barrel Tasting, visitors can start at either winery between noon and 5 p.m. and taste at least two yet-to-be-bottled wines. Then they'll get a full glass of wine and complimentary hors d'oeuvre, then bring their glass along with them to the other winery for a similar offering. The cost, including the souvenir glass, is $15 per person.

One other bit of knowledge that everyone wants to know two days before Thanksgiving is what kind of wine to serve with dinner. Woodhall's strongest suggestion out of its line: it light reds such as Sangiovese Rose and Pinot Noir.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A big splash: York trail's Nouveau event overflows tasting room at Naylor Wine Cellars

Dick Naylor said he looked at the 50 or so folks who visited his winery in Stewartstown on Friday and wasn't quite sure what the rest of the first Uncork York Wine Just Off The Vine promotion would bring. Turned out to be almost more than he could handle.

Naylor said they thought maybe 150 or 200 would stop by Saturday to taste his 2009 vintage wines. Instead, they wound up doubling that. "It was phenomenal," he said by phone Monday afternoon, confirming just by his tone that this likely will be an annual event for the trail. "We had over 350 people in here on Saturday. It was just nonstop. What happened, there were so many people we took care of them as far as the tasting [out of the barrel] was concerned, but when it got into the tasting room there were just so many people that they couldn't get up to the bar to buy wine, and a lot of them left."

Saturday alone he said they sold close to 14 cases, and almost 40 of those bottles were the Naylor Port, produced from the Chambourcin grape. Ten wineries on the trail participated int he event; the cost to stop by all and taste the Nouveau wine was $10 per person.

The Stewartstown winery had another 155 or so on Sunday, plus 54 to their winemaker's dinner. All of which left Naylor knowing that they have some work to do in the tasting room before the trail's next big event, Tour de Tanks, in March 2010.

"I told my son-in-law, I said, where we have the wine supplies at the end, we're going to have to knock that wall out," he recalled. "I told him that three weeks ago. In March, when we had this thing, we lost a lot of business because people [couldn't find a path to the bar] and get waited on. I wish I had knocked the thing out last week so we would have had the room available Saturday."

Not only is Wine Just Off The Vine behind Naylor now, but so is the Wines of the World community education course that he taught in conjunction with Penn State Harrisburg. It ran on Thursday afternoons over a period of six weeks. The finale almost two weeks ago featured wines of the East Coast. Naylor said he served a mango wine from Key West, Fla., a cranberry wine from New Jersey, and wines from Connecticut, New York, Virginia and Maryland (Boordy and Fiore).

Paris walk yields off-street surprise

People head to Paris to, among other things, drink the wine and not necessarily see the vineyards. But seeing the vineyard, singular in this case, was one of the highlights for me earlier this month. It's an out-of-the-way plot that sits a few blocks from Sacre-Coeur on the meandering walk down to the marketplace in Montmartre.

We just sort of happened by it; as it turned out about a month after the annual festival called Fete des Vendanges that takes place in early October. A vineyard called Clos Montmartre, it's the lone working vineyard in Paris. Those vines cover 1500 square meters and produce 27 varietals, filling about 1500 half-liter bottles. Generally those are sold to raise money for charities.

For more, check out this extended story on the vineyard that I borrowed the info from. What I provided are the couple of photos I've attached, taken the end of the first week of November.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Waltz Vineyards' next release will be the first for a new semi-dry white blend called Fusion

A couple of things out of Waltz Vineyards in Manheim, a new Pennsylvania winery that I haven't been bashful about calling one of my favorites since it opened earlier this year.

One, they're able to ship UPS now, so anyone ordering wine can have it on their table in a day or two. Meanwhile, the winery is expanding its hours beginning Monday, opening its doors six days a week through the end of the year except for Thanksgiving day, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. They'll be open noon to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and noon to 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Co-owner Kim Waltz said Friday that they have been maintaining a schedule of being open three days a week, but "if there's any month we should probably be more available, it's December. So, we're going to give that a shot."

Waltz noted she and husband Jan have bottled a number of wines, but none have been released as yet. They offer a line of six dry wines -- two whites, three reds and a rose, ranging in price from $18 (Baron Steigel Rose) to $36 (their Cherry Hill Merlot, really what I'd consider their signature wine) to $42 (Crow Woods Cabernet). The first one they plan to release, as early as this weekend, will be the seventh wine in their line. It's a semi-dry white called Fusion that will sell for $18.

"It's three whites blended together and a little more sweetness than we normally do on our other wines," Kim said. The blend is 50 percent Semillon and 25 percent each of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. "It's really nice. It's got a little punch to it; it's about 13 percent [alcohol]. It's interesting, you know, there are still a lot of people that really like a lot of sweetness in their line. So we stayed with the semi-dry and didn't get too, too sweet, but for us it tastes sweet. . . . But I think it will be a nice one here, especially going into the holidays, because it's capturing the audience that really would rather have a little sweetness."

Expect the others to be released right around the start of the new year.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Among the wine-food dinners on regional calendar, Woodhall has its set for Dec. 10

I assume the many wine dinners held around the region are profitable, or they wouldn't be quite so plentiful. Just about every winery in the region that I cover in Pennsylvania and Maryland holds a wine and food pairing at some point during the year. Some hold more than a few.

One I spotted in my trawl through the various Web sites is set for Thursday, Dec. 10, at Woodhall Wine Cellars in Parkton, Md., minutes off I-83 at 17912 York Road in Baltimore County, just north of the Gunpowder River. It's a seven-course meal that will run from 5 to 9 p.m. and include wines from Woodhall's library. The cost is $65 per person, and does NOT include tax and gratuities. There's also a restaurant on the premises called Patricia Della, which is open Thursday through Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m. Reservations are required.

Here's the menu:

1st course: rosette of salmon with verte sauce
2nd course: crab bisque
3rd course: seared duck breast over couscous with rose of merlot reduction
4th course: warm carpachio
5th course: double lamb chop with persillade crust
6th course: 3 cheese tray
7th course: pumpkin bread pudding with cinnamon ice cream

For more information, call 410.357.5078. Woodhall is one of the older wineries in the state with a knowledgeable staff, headed up by owners Al Copp and Chris Lang and tasting room manager Debbie Morris. Chris Kent is the winemaking consultant.

Every weekend Woodhall features two separate and different special tasting experiences:

1. Vintners Reserve Wine Tasting: Kent has selected seven of the winery's finest wines (all black labels) for an exclusive comparative tasting experience. Three of these wines will be tasted against barrel samples of the same wine. Participants will be able to learn the difference between various wine varieties and different vintages, as well as have an opportunity to sample the "Best of Woodhall." The tasting will be conducted by one of the staff well versed and involved in the winemaking process. Tasting fee: $15

2. Comparative Barrel Tasting Tour: Participants have an opportunity to compare five current vintage wines to the 2008 barreled wine of the same variety under the guidance of a staff member knowledgeable and involved in the winemaking process. Tasting fee: $15

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wine Off The Vine opens Friday and continues through Sunday at 10 midstate wineries

What the Uncork York trail is calling Wine Off The Vine, another name for Nouveau Weekend, will begin Friday and continue through Sunday at 10 wineries in midstate Pennsylvania.

Tickets are $10 to taste wine made from freshly harvested grapes at any of the participating wineries. There might be some minor variation, but the wineries are expected to be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can buy those at any of the wineries involved, although note according to the Web site that a $1 processing fee will be assessed per ticket for anyone who used a credit card to purchase them.

A number of winemaker dinners are being held in conjunction with the event. PR coordinator extraordinaire Alison Smolinski noted in a Wednesday e-mail that the Allegro Vineyard's dinner in the Commonwealth Room at the Yorktowne Hotel in York this weekend is sold out. That's a total of 70 seats that will be filled for the food and drink, the latter produced by winemaker and owner Carl Helrich.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fiore taking reservations for Christmas dinner

We're seeing more and more of these Christmas dinners at various mid-Atlantic wineries. Fiore Winery in Pylesville, Md., is one of those, charging $65 per person for a dinner from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5, that will include the wine, food and entertainment. Prepaid reservations are required at 410.879.4007.

So what's coming out of the kitchen?

Hors d'oeuvres: Antipasta of cheeses, vegetables, dips, and spreads, with artisan breads, crackers,pita, crostini
paired with Apple-lucious, Sangiovese

Seated Dinner:

Butternutsquash ravioli with sage, rye, and cream.
paired with Pinot Grigio

Baked salmon with roasted pepper sauce and spinach orzo.
paired with Chardonnay

Spice beef round with roasted green beans and grape tomato.
paired with Proprietors Reserve Chambourcin

Seasonal salad with fruit, nuts, and cheese, vinaigrette.
paired with Vidal Blanc

Christmas pudding with hard sauce.
paired with Maryland Merlot

State wine trails, stores ring in the Nouveau

Wine moves to the forefront this week across the state, and not just because it's nearly Thanksgiving and you figure to be buying a few bottles or cases for your dinner table.

It's also Nouveau week, the first release of the 2009 vintage. The state makes it a big to-do Thursday when the Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau goes on sale and is complemented by a number of free tastings through the weekend. A number will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday throughout the Philadelphia suburbs and west to Lancaster and Harrisburg. You have a pretty good selection of wines to pair up with your Thanksgiving food, and one of those on the list is the Beaujolais.

This Beaujolias release on the third Thursday in November has become a regular event on the wine calendar in France and the United States. What is becoming more the standard among Pennsylvania wineries is a similar release, accompanied by plenty of hoopla and food pairings.

One will take place along the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail, where Nouveau Weekend will be held Saturday and Sunday. In addition to being able to taste and purchase the wines, trail members are expected to offer Thanksgiving-themed food pairings, live entertainment, and more.

Nouveau Weekend will be held at all nine wineries on the
Lehigh Valley Wine Trail from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. A few wineries will be open as late as 6 both days. According to a release sent out on behalf of the trail, here's what some of the wineries are planning:

Big Creek Vineyard in Kresgeville is recommending a warm Spiced Apple as an aperitif and Nouveau Red with the big bird.

Blue Mountain Vineyards of New Tripoli suggests its 2008 Riesling - a refreshingly dry, intensely fruity and crisp wine with a very long lingering finish.

Cherry Valley Vineyards of Saylorsburg will serve its award-winning Cranberry Blush, a semi-sweet that is crisp and clean, similar to a white zinfandel with intense cranberry flavor. It starts sweet and finishes with a well-balanced citrus zest.

Clover Hill Vineyards & Winery of Breinigsville offers its new release 2007 Oak Vidal Blanc – upfront rich butter and cream flavor, the finish bursting with lemon and zesty acidity.

Galen Glen Vineyard & Winery, Andreas: Cellar White is a cuvee of the vineyard - Vidal, Riesling and Cayuga. Created in the style of German wines, it is an arrested fermentation (all sweetness is natural and from the grapes) with an elegant wild flower nose and brightly layered fruit ending.

Vynecrest Vineyards & Winery of Breinigsville will serve the Gamay Beaujolais Nouveau 2009 vintage wine, a perfect accompaniment to your holiday meals.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thirty-five wineries part of next New York event on Dec. 6 in Lower Manhattan

Have occasionally chatted with executive director Jim Trezise of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, so I don't mind snatching from his weekly e-letter when I see item pertinent to my audience. Here are a couple entries from the one that arrived this morning.

VINTAGE 2009 is one of the longest, slowest, and latest in recent memory, but is also surprisingly good under the circumstances (particularly the fall harvest season), according to the final edition of the “Veraison to Harvest” e-newsletter published by Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) and underwritten by the New York Wine & Grape Foundation.

Statewide Extension Enologist Chris Gerling wrote an excellent wrap-up with comments by winemakers in various regions like Christopher Tracy of Channing Daughters on Long Island: “What we have will be super, there’s just not that much of it” (reflecting a smaller than normal crop). The weekly e-newsletter is a timely and valuable resource for grape growers and winemakers alike, and now CCE is launching a sequel called “The Cellar Dweller” to provide up-to-date information for winemakers on cellar techniques to maximize wine quality.

The research and extension provided by Cornell University and the Geneva Experiment Station have been a vital part of the dramatic improvement in quality of New York wines, and we are delighted to support their efforts.


2,500 WINE GLASSES disappeared yesterday at the New York State Fairgrounds. That’s great news: Everyone who attended the first-ever Pride of New York Harvest Fest in Syracuse got a complementary “Uncork New York” wine glass, which means over 2,500 consumers attended in just one day. We had to put in an emergency order for 2,000 more to cover today’s anticipated crowd, having thought the original 2,500 would cover Friday through Sunday.

The Department of Agriculture & Markets, State Fair, and New York Wine & Grape Foundation partnered on this venture, which far exceeded our expectations. With about 50 wineries and 50 food producers scattered in the spacious Horticultural Building, it was hard to judge the size of the crowd, so the wine glasses gave us the most accurate count. To my knowledge, this was the largest single-day crowd of any event we’ve ever been involved in, and there’s still today!

The “locavore” and “locapour” trend seems alive and well in the greater Syracuse area, as people were not only sampling but buying, stocking up on New York wines and foods for the holidays. Between my seminars (Wine & Chocolate, Wine & Cheese), I sampled a wide array of wonderful local foods—cheeses, chicken meatballs, sausage, sauces, pastries, wine ice cream—which reaffirmed that New York Farm Country is a gold mine for fabulous fare.

Now we just need to have consumers ask for New York wines at liquor stores and restaurants, and New York foods at grocery stores. New Yorkers supporting New Yorkers: It just makes $en$e.


SIP, SAVOR & SHOP AT CITY WINERY is our next event on the afternoon of Sunday, Dec. 6 in lower Manhattan. More than 35 wineries from throughout the State will be joined by a dozen artisanal food producers and several restaurants to give participants a taste of New York while listening to a popular jazz trio from Long Island.

Tickets are only $45, and available at For more information on the participants, go the home page of

Saturday, November 14, 2009

No Nouveau, but the old standbys should make visitors plenty happy at Pinnacle Ridge

Lehigh Valley Wine Trail will be among several in the state that will hold Nouveau Weekend NEXT weekend, a day or two after the Beaujolais from France is released in the state stores. You probably recognize the term even if you pay little attention to wine. Nouveau is, obviously, new wine that only a month or two ago was hanging out in clusters on the vine. All nine wineries will be participating in the promotion, which will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the 21st and noon to 5 p.m. on the 22nd.
Pinnacle Ridge Winery will be one of those wineries, indeed open until 6 both days, only you won't be getting the Nouveau when you exit the Krumsville exit of I-78 and drive the half-mile or so to the tasting room. Had a chance to bust on winemaker and owner Brad Knapp on Thursday about Nouveau Weekend without the Nouveau, since he decided not to make it this year after producing it since 1995. The reason? Simple. Lots of effort for minimal reward.

"I had made a few from Chambourcin," Knapp said by phone, talking about the grapes he incorporated into his previous Nouveaus. "Which is troublesome because it's so late [to harvest]. It's hard to get the wine made in time. And then I was purchasing some Dornfelter, which is an early ripening German red variety, which works reasonably well. But I was not real happy frankly with the sales of that style."

Knapp said that he and wife Christy were touring wineries on Long Island when they entered Macari Winery, which "put out a wine called early Chardonnay, I think it was called. And it was an oaked wine, released very early. I think it was November. And they did very well with it and we decided to try it. They pitched it as an Austrian pub wine. . . . the taverns around Vienna will serve this newly fermenting wine in the fall. So we pitched it that way, that this was an Austrian-style Nouveau. And that actually did well. Slightly sweet and very fruity."

But, he added, no matter what he made, it was a lot of work to produce a small quantity of wine that just didn't have much appeal. "The bang for the buck was low, let's put it that way," Knapp said.

So what you'll get instead will be a few of Pinnacle Ridge's award-winning line of wines paired up with Turkey Day foods. They'll match up their 2008 Chambourcin and slightly sweet, fruity 2008 Chambourcin Rose with smoked turkey breast piled on lightly toasted baguettes. Those will be topped with a variety of Robert Rothschild spreads: Caramelized Onion Balsamic Spread, Champagne GarliC Honey Mustard or Raspberry Cranberry Horseradish Sauce.
Check out the Web site to see the wide array of food to be served at Customer Appreciation Weekend on Dec. 5-6 and the chocolate and red wine pairing event the following weekend. Knapp said there have been plenty of customers to appreciate this year.

"Our business is phenomenal," he said. "We're doing great. My take on it is that most of us, myself included, there's a strong element of entertainment. And we're inexpensive entertainment. And we're local entertainment. So folks are getting in their car and driving around the countryside and spending a few bucks on buying a few bottles of wine instead of hopping in a plane to go somewhere or doing something more expensive."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Soups, pasta highlight menu at two Maryland wineries this weekend

Wanted to loop in a couple of events going on at Maryland wineries the next couple of weekends before focusing on what's on tap in P-A. Soup in the Cellar starts tomorrow (Saturday) in the 1830s wine cellar at Boordy Vineyards in Hydes, and coming off several days of rain and chilly temps, the timing couldn't be better.

This event will run from 1 to 5 p.m. the next three Saturdays. In addition to the wine and soups pairings and organic bread, you'll get a tour of the winery, some music, and a chance to toast marshmallows over an open flame cauldron. Expect a choice of the following soups: Southwest Shrimp and Corn Chowder, Tomato Cheddar Bisque, Mulligatawny, and Double Smoked Bacon & Black Lentil Soup. The winery is located 15 minutes north of the Baltimore Beltway.

Over in Frederick County, the already multi-decorated Black Ankle Vineyards has plenty cooking heading into the holidays. The year-old winery that already has produced Maryland's "wine of the year" in 2008 and 2009 Governor's Cup judging will be serving as host of another in a series of wine and dinner pairings at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. Chef Paul Dongarra of Dionysus Kitchen will produce a three-course meal including pasta that will pair up with Black Ankle wines. Cost is $35 and $8 for a kid's plate. You can find out more by e-mailing Melissa Schulte at or calling 619.203.8230.

Next weekend the winery will have its chefs on location to answer questions about Thanksgiving foods and the wines that go best with them, plus Maryland-based artesian chocolate company Parfections will be in-house to build customized boxes of truffles for folks wanting to add some sweetness to their dinner table. A unique promotion called Family Photo at the Farm ($25 per session) will take place the day after Thanksgiving.

Owners Ed Boyce and Sarah O'Herron note on their Web site that supplies are dwindling on several of their wines, including their medium-bodied red blend called Passegiata (two cases left), their 2007 white blend called Bedlam (a winner of the 2008 Maryland Winemasters' Choice award, there are four cases left), and their white varietal called Gruner Veltliner (3 cases left of the '08 vintage).

Finally, back to the business of blogging

Forgive the lapse in posts. One week vacation seems to translate in almost two weeks out of pocket with all the work that accumulates.

Wanted to start anew by first thanking those who sent recommendations, etc., to me for our trip to Paris last week. Ate at a couple of the restaurants, saw a few of the suggested sites. I'd go back in a heartbeat. We didn't run into a single case of the rudeness that has long been associated with traveling through France. Whether it's the new climate created by Barack Obama or the fact it was the offseason or just, well, things have changed, I don't know. Maybe the global economic meltdown has softened the edge. But all our questions were politely met with the answers we needed to get where we need to go.

Had two restaurants I wanted to recommend, one with a name I'm still trying to track down. The other was La Varangue in Rue Cler, near the Eiffel Tower. Offered up as a place to go in Rick Steves' Paris book, it's a tiny eatery along a side street that seats around 25 on five or six tables. Philippe Mollay, who ran a French catering shop in the Philly suburbs for three years during the early part of this decade, brings over his chalkboard and reviews all the offerings for the evening in detail. Steves wrote that the cuisine is simple and cheap, and he was right on both counts. Add a thumbs up for the house wine and the chocolate cake, which Phillippe makes. And if you stop by, you might run into Phillippe's daughter, who pitches in as a waitress.

Have plenty of entries to post; some from interviews that go back a few weeks. See if I can't clear my notebook by the end of the weekend.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Galloping Goose can't keep enough Cabernet Franc on the shelves during first weekend

Told from across the Mason-Dixon Line that several wineries should be opening in Maryland over the next few months, according to the executive director of the Maryland Winery Association. Kevin Atticks wrote in an e-mail Monday that Galloping Goose Vineyards in Westminster sold out of its Cabernet Franc at its grand opening this past weekend.
He noted that late winter/spring opening include Knob Hall Winery in Hagerstown, DeJon Vineyards in Hydes (in Baltimore County, near Boordy Vineyards), in addition to two others on the mid/lower Eastern Shore.

Turkey's on table for class at Chaddsford

So what's going on at Chaddsford Winery? You could probably ask that question year-round and get some sort of answer. Pretty much the busiest of all the regional wineries is cooking up an event called Turkey Tastings for the next three Sundays, beginning Nov. 7

Its wine educators will pair dry white wines, dry red wines and some sweet wines with honey brined turkey, herb stuffing, roasted yam wedges, seasonal vegetables, cranberry relish and pie. In essense, it's your pre Thanksgiving laboratory all for the cost of $20. For reservations, call 610.388.6221.

At the bottom of Eric Miller's always-interesting vintage notes is a short piece about the origin of a new wine recently released called Essence. He writes of a trip that he and Lee took to Priorato, Spain, last June. "There, Alvaro Palacios was kind enough to allow us an extraordinary tour of his extraordinary vineyards and winery. There we experienced his [costly] magnificent blend of Terroir, what his mountainous, oddly planted mix of varieties could transform into a landscape of smells and flavors. There I tasted an immaculate picture where no one could say this image had too much sunset, too much heat of the day, too much Cabernet, too little Syrah. There I dreamed of my own landscape reaching beyond any single grape variety, deep into an unrestrained pure finesse of intrinsic geography and climate.

"And so, the day after we got home, I began blending a simple percentage mix of the best '07 grapes grown on the Miller Estate and vinified in my hands. We bottled it this spring and I truly feel it expresses the essence of what I can do as a winemaker with my dirt and my grapes and my lifetime of winemaking experience. It might not surprise you that we have named this terroir blend 'Essence.' It is a very small lot (71 cases), a blend of five reds grown on our estate and two additional reds from the region. I hope you’ll try it and lay down a bottle or two in your cellar."