Sunday, March 15, 2009

Perfecto: Blog guy heads to Waltz's for afternoon

Shots from the outside of the tasting room, inside the tasting room, and the Waltz family (minus their three younger daughters), from left: Kim, Jan and business manager Zach.

Have just a couple of minutes tonight to post, but wanted to mention that the trip to Waltz Vineyards' tasting room should be put on your to-do list sooner rather than later.

Workman are putting the finishing touches on the back area of the tasting room, and some work remains on the exterior. But inside is as colorful and Tuscan as promised on the Web site, with gorgeous paintings by, among others, nationally known and Mount Gretna-based Fred Swarr.

Kimberly and Jan Waltz have been in the business of making wine since the late 1990s, so they open their business ahead of their brethren who have opened their doors this year or last. Waltz's grapes are known statewide for their quality; in fact, something like six of the wines recognized by the Pennsylvania Wine Society used grapes from the Waltz's vineyards.

With 16 acres planted, they are planning to put in another 4 acres this spring. Everything from the rose to the Sauvignon Blanc to the Merlot and the other in between were delicious. Currently they are open noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays through the end of March, and expect to see those hours tweaked somewhat later this spring.

Visitors are served two complimentary wines; the fee for tasting the complete line is $8. In this case, well worth it, although your might need your GPS or to find your way to the place. It took around 20 minutes from Middletown on Saturday to get there; the ride from there to Lancaster didn't take much longer than that.

Again, between the view and the tasting room and the wines, put this one on your list of places to stop by this summer. Don't expect to be drawn by any special events. They'll hold some private parties there, accommodating maybe 16 to 20 people. Otherwise, as Jan said yesterday, they're in the business of making wine. And they do it quite well.

Some gumbo, wine discounts along the trail

This note comes via Karen Cline, the PR extraordinaire for the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail. She sent it over on Saturday morning for heading out for Barrels on the Brandywine..

Below is some content about how things are going for Barrels this year. I’m working at some of the wineries to get a feel for what goes on at Barrels (since this is my first year for this event).

We’re now three weeks into the Sixth Annual Barrels on the Brandywine. The turnout the last few weekends has been great! Historically though, wine lovers will come out in force the last half of the month and if Passport sales are any indication, that will occur again this year.

Melissa and Tim Jobe’s Gumbo Kitchen at Twin Brook Winery is still a popular feature. When I visited their winery, I saw a large number of people grab a glass of their favorite wine and hunker down to a bowl of steaming gumbo. The gumbo is authentic, meaning that Tim has several pounds of sausage shipped up from the south so he can make “proper” gumbo. Their gumbo recipe will be published in an article soon---where and when to follow.

Last weekend, I was at Black Walnut Winery in Sadsburyville. Their winery is not yet open, so they are operating out of a tent. The tent provided more of a “festival feel” and didn’t take away from the fun of wine tasting at all. They offered your choice of five wines to taste and then three barrel tastings. That sort of selection is pretty common from our wineries—taste from the bottle and then from the barrels.

I had a tour of the barn Black Walnut is renovating. I was impressed by the enormity of the task they have undertaken. Renovations have been occurring three years now—when the owners weren’t at their full-time jobs, they have been at the winery, doing the work themselves. I can’t wait to see the finished product in a couple of months. Black Walnut is hoping to open officially for Memorial Day.

Some wineries on the Trail are offering case discounts, so visitors should be sure to ask about those to make the most of their “wine dollar.”

Today, I’ll be at Stargazers Vineyard. They’re the one winery on the Trail that is powered by the sun—100% solar! They even have a wine that is labeled “100% Sun, No Oak”. Cheeses are on the menu there each weekend. I can’t wait to try some local cheese today with my wine.