Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Next Md. winery could open in Hampstead

The next winery to open in Maryland? Even wineries association executive director Kevin Atticks wasn't completely sure. Too many obstacles in the process can delay scheduled openings for months. That's not a Maryland phenomenon; obviously proprietors planning wineries across the border in Pennsylvania have found there's always another surprise waiting around the corner as they do all the things necessary to open a winery's doors.

Atticks would only conjecture that it could be Galloping Goose, perhaps about a 15-minute to 20-minute drive from Woodhall Wine Cellars, one of our favorite wineries located in Parkton, Md. Located in Hampstead, it will be run by Diane Hale. "She's a wonderful lady who had a horse name goose and is opening Galloping Goose Vineyards, and she is one of the state's largest grape growers and plans to still have that be her primary business," Atticks said. "But she's going to make two wines a year from her best grapes. So she's going to cherry-pick her fruit, whatever she thinks is best that year and the rest she's going to continue to sell. And even her quote-unquote not best fruit is still wonderful fruit. Woodhall buys some, a couple of wineries buy it. But she's going to cherry-pick very small amounts; she's looking at maybe 30, 40 cases of each wine. No more than two wines per year. She's literally going to be picking clusters and figuring out which ones are the best."

Atticks said Hale's business is fully licensed as a winery and there's wine in the barrel. "The game has been trying to figure out when she's opening," he said. Indeed, a story in the Community Times ways back in November 2005 suggested the the winery would be open by the following year. But that just shows how much time can pass sometimes before the plans become a reality. Atticks said that now might be just a matter of weeks or several months. "There's still work to be done," he said, "but she's pretty close."

3RD Idea gives Hauser Web site a fresh look

Received an e-mail yesterday from Mak McKeehan of 3RD idea, an agency in Gettysburg, Pa., that has become the primary marketing voice for Hauser Estate Winery. The winery opened late last July on a site that offers a sweeping panorama of the surrounding countryside and parts of the Gettysburg battlefield; it opened a shop in downtown Gettysburg a few months later. Run by the Hauser family (Jonathon Patrono is the company president), it features the winemaking skills of Seattle-bred and Cornell-educated Michelle Oakes. Looking forward to trying her wines next week when I'm out that way for a conference.

McKeehan and his staff have given the Hauser Estate Web site a new look, which launched last Friday, featuring multiple layers that include info and prices on the wines, a new photo gallery (of which I swiped one of the view from the tasting room to add to this post), a tasting room blog, company history and the chance for people to sign up for the newly created “Cork Club.” That's a monthly e-mail newsletter from the winery about events, wine news, tips and sneak previews.

In addition, Hauser Estate has started a Facebook page and are looking for fans. The page can be found here:

McKeenhan noted in his note that starting in June and due to the huge success of the Candlelight Fridays, Hauser Estate will be hosting Live Music and Food twice a month. You'll be able to find a complete schedule on the Web site and, of course, amid the weekly listings that are part of this blog under the heading The Event Grapevine.

Hauser Estate is part of what is for now a singular event wine trail. Tour de Tanks will take place starting Feb. 28 and every weekend in March at the 12 wineries that make up Uncork York. In addition to being able to sample wines at each of the participating wineries and share in whatever goodies they also put out, all for the cost of a $15 passport, the York County Convention & Tourism Bureau has announced a series of Friday night winemaker dinners at five York restaurants. Space is limited and advance reservations are required for these events. An all-inclusive ticket includes a full-course meal and selected wines, as well as tax and gratuity.
Wine writer and blogger Roger Morris tackled the Uncork York trail at some point last fall and wrote about his visit in a piece that appears in the Winter 2009 edition of the Wine & Spirits Quarterly. In that story Morris quotes Ralph Papalia, a state store employee in York who for my money provides more insight on his product than anyone else I've encountered in the biz. Want the lowdown on those dazzling bargains hidden on the shelves? Just track down Ralph.