Saturday, April 11, 2009

Blending together a bit of this, that

Amid all the e-blasts and e-mails I have received the past 48 hours, let me clear the notebook a bit.

From Adam Borden, who's heading up Marylanders for Better Beer and Wine Laws and directed an effort to hand out flyers at Monday's Opening Day at Camden Yards in Baltimore: "We had a decent but not great turnout, about 10, and handed out probably 10,000 fliers," he wrote. "Boy, did I have to get my elevator pitch down! I got it to: 'We're a Maryland non-profit trying to change our laws.' Many people said they did not care about changing any Maryland law without even hearing what law it was, though on the opposite side, a few actually were already members and had signed up for email alerts. I am not sure we will do it again, but we sure got in front of a lot of Marylanders."


From Dr. Vino, who posted on his blog Thursday a link to a story that ran in Tuesday's New York Times on restaurants beginning to serve wines from refillable tanks: essentially, wine on tap. Here's the Times story and below the Dr. Vino blog entry.

The NYT ran a story yesterday about wine served in restaurants from refillable tanks. It’s a win-win idea since it lowers the cost per glass of wine reduces wine’s carbon footprint with less packaging mass, similar to the bag-in-box idea I detailed in the Times last summer.
Let’s just hope the restaurants that do use the system pass on the lower costs to diners. Such is the case of those detailed in the story. Last spring, I also saw an affordable tank wine (”Mas vino,” pictured above) offered by the glass at Small Shed Flatbreads in Mill Valley. I didn’t try it because I was too busy
trying a prosecco.


Paradocx Vineyard in Landenberg, a member of the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail, will hold its 2nd Annual "Bud Break Bash" from noon to 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 9. There will be live music from 3 to 6 p.m. and a bonfire from 6 to 7 p.m. It's a celebration of the beginning of the grape growing season, signified by the grape vines breaking their first buds. “Bud Break Bash” will have something for all ages, including live music from The Acoustic Groove Project, wine tastings, cheese samples, hayrides, winery tours, and tours of the vineyard, where those conducting the tour will point out new bud growth. A ceremonial burning of the old grape vine trimmings will be held after dinner. Standard wine tasting fees apply ($5 for tasting of 7 wines). Everything else is complimentary.


Clover Hill Vineyards & Winery in Breinigsville listed its receipes from the recently completed March Madness and gave notice to one of this region's unique events: A Day in the Vineyard. Held in conjunction with Pinnacle Ridge and Vynecrest, "the Hill" will serve as the location for grand tastings several times on Saturday, June 6, and Sunday, June 7. Activities after the grand tastings then will move to the other two wineries. The cost is $25. To sign up or for more info, call Clover Hill at 610.395.2468.


Maryland Governor's Cup winner Black Winery Vineyards has moved to summer hours (Wed-Fri, noon-5 p.m.; Sat, noon-6 p.m.; Sun, noon-5 p.m.) and will begin a weekly "happy hour" called Friday Night Flights starting next week, the 17th, from 5 to 7 p.m.


Black Ankle and Serpent Ridge Winery (Westminster) are among various Maryland wineries looking for volunteers to pour during the upcoming summer festival season. Best place to start is the site for the Association of Maryland Wineries for a list of wineries near you. If they need help, you'll likely find that request on the winery's home page. E-mail Tracy at if you'd like to assist Black Ankle and if you want to assist Serpent Ridge. Those folks are asking for the following: Name/Contact Info/Date and shift you would like to volunteer, First (11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.) or second (2:30-6 p.m.). Time slots will be filled on a first-come basis and we will need to know if you would like to volunteer by May 1.

NY's next wine hot spot: Champlain region

Director Jim Trezise of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation reported in his weekly e-letter that the next area is his state to develop as a wine producer is the Champlain region — near Lake Champlain which separates New York and Vermont. He wrote that it already has three wineries, with more to come. He added that last week the foundation got notice that Eminence Road Farm Winery in Long Eddy is officially open and will be selling at area farmers’ markets and local wine shops. Owned by Jennifer Clark and Andrew Scott, the winery is located in a mountain valley in southern Delaware County (no wineries there before!) and is making unfined and unfiltered Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Dry Apple Wine and others (visit He said: "When I first came to this industry 27 years ago, there were wineries in about 7 counties — compared with 45 now (of 62), which is just wonderful politically. Frankly, the industry is growing so fast it’s hard to keep up with it. As far as I know there are now 262 fully licensed (federal and state) wine producers (not including satellite stores), with many licenses still pending at the State Liquor Authority. Last week, a representative from the federal Tax and Trade Bureau said New York now has 294 TTB-approved licenses, which means we’ll probably top 300 in the near future. Now I ask you: What other industry in New York State is growing that fast?

Also in his newsletter:

CORNELL UNIVERSITY has been a major partner in the renaissance, reputation and growth of the New York wine industry, exemplified most recently by the unveiling of a new Teaching Winery on April 1, the first day of the Wine Industry Workshop in Ithaca. The event began with the cutting of a grapevine by Susan Henry, Dean of the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, who has been the driving force behind several key initiatives that promise a bright future for both Cornell and the New York wine industry. Several years ago at a strategic planning retreat of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, Art Hunt of Hunt Country Vineyards strongly suggested that Cornell become more involved with the industry beyond the traditional research. While some were initially resistant, Dean Henry was receptive to the concept and started by creating a new four-year undergraduate program in viticulture and enology. Art’s son Jonathan was the first to enroll, and is now deeply involved in the family business. In the past, students had no good place to make wines, making the teaching winery a key addition to the education and training process. It’s the first such facility in the eastern United States, and one of the finest in the country. The $900,000 winery at Cornell Orchards includes all the equipment needed to make and analyze wines—fermentation tanks, barrels, a sophisticated lab—as well as grapes grown by Cornell on that site and another. In addition to creating the V&E curriculum and teaching winery, Cornell has recruited several superb young extension agents and faculty members—Chris Gerhling, Anna Katharine Mansfield, Ramon Mira de Orduna, Hans Walter-Peterson, Gavin Sacks, Justine Van den Heuvel, Miguel Gomez, Brad Rickard—who bring diverse talents and new energy to the research and extension programs. A decade ago, the relatively small size of New York’s wine industry may not have justified this type of investment and commitment, forcing New Yorkers to train elsewhere and creating a brain drain. That has now changed, with world-class research facilities and faculty luring tomorrow’s leaders into the heart of New York wine country.

SUSTAINABILITY is a pervasive topic these days, and Cornell Cooperative Extension is one of the nation’s leaders in defining and refining it for New York grape growers and others. In fact, its comprehensive program (VineBalance Sustainable Viticulture) is being transplanted in Michigan and Washington State by Welch’s, which is owned by National Grape Cooperative headquartered in Westfield, NY. VineBalance was created by statewide CCE director Tim Martinson and his colleagues Alice Wise (Long Island), Hans Walter-Peterson (Finger Lakes), and Tim Weigle (Lake Erie), and now involves over 100 wine and juice grape growers throughout the state. The program includes a comprehensive workbook, and practices reflecting the grape growing conditions in the northeastern United States, although much could also apply to juice grapes in other regions. Since Welch’s sources grapes from all three states, uniformity of sustainable viticultural practices is important, especially as an increasing number of major retailers like WalMart are demanding products reflecting sustainable practices. There are similar programs in other states like California (Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance), Washington (Vinewise, for wine grapes) and Oregon (LIVE), and over time a challenge will be creating an integrated system which is both broadly applicable yet also responsive to local conditions.

FIGHT THE RECESSION: BUY LOCAL WINE is the theme of a terrific new poster created by artist Joanna Purdy for Fox Run Vineyards that may be adapted to any part of the country. The poster is reminiscent of those during World War II appealing to self-help and community spirit, and may be seen at The first 500 printed copies of the poster have been funded by Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association. For more information on adapting the poster locally, contact Leslie Kroeger at Fox Run (, 800-636-9786).

YATES COUNTY (where I live in the heart of the Finger Lakes) is bucking the statewide decline in farms and acreage (-2.3%, -6.3%) with big increases in farms (142 new ones, 20% more) and acreage (11,000 new, up 10%) from 2002 to 2007. It’s also one of the state’s major sources of organic products, with 49 farms on 5,500 acres generating sales over $2.7 million. The key is diversity. When I moved here 27 years ago, the region was an ugly mosaic of abandoned vineyards, ramshackle barns, and rundown farmhouses. The transformation has largely been brought about by an odd combination of the wine industry renaissance and a growing community of horse-and-buggy Mennonites who are excellent farmers and stewards of the earth. As in other areas, dairy is the largest sector (262 farms, 12,150 cows—1 for every 2 humans) and livestock farms have also increased (363 farms, 19,000 cattle), but the grape and wine industry (with 26 wineries) is a major economic engine for agriculture, tourism, and manufacturing. In fact, the 750 agri-tourism jobs represent a major “industry,” and wine is largely the catalyst.

Manatawny has Concord back on its shelves

Speaking of Manatawny Creek, owner and winemaker Joanne Levengood sent out an e-blast late Friday night that the Concord has passed muster and is ready for purchase. The winery will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today, but closed tomorrow for Easter.

Levengood noted that 20 cases of Winter Warmth remain and the winery will keep its 20 percent off sale running until this wine is gone.

Manatawny is a member of the Berks County Wine Trail, which at this point still doesn't charge for tastings. So a trip to any of those wineries will get you a sample of most if not all their wines for free, something that's rare in this region nowadays.

Jeffries' next pairing partner: Manatawny Creek

My apologies for skipping a day. I think most blogger will tell you, most serious ones anyway, that once you start these you'd like to post something daily. Occasionally maters at home, vacations, illness and, oh yeah, the job that brings home the bacon, gets in the way. So let me catch up today.

John J Jeffries Restaurant is one of those rare gems that throws its support behind local business and sustainability. It's located inside the Lancaster Arts Hotel only a few minutes off Route 30 and not far from the Park City Mall.

As chefs Sean Cavanaugh (a Pittsburgh native and Marriott chef whose last stop was the Vail, Colo., Mountain Resort and Spa) and Michael F. Carson (a York Suburban grad at the Charleston Restaurant in Baltimore before coming home) descrive on their Web site:

"We believe you will find our passion for supporting local businesses and preserving the land we live on, to be contagiously obvious in how we run our restaurant. All of our meats are raised locally, confinement-free on fresh green grass pastures. No hormones, antibiotics, steroids or forced-fertilization occurs. Our produce is local organic or chemical free. We use local grass fed cream, butter and eggs. We also provide sustainable seafood and support sustainable fisheries and their communities. By doing so, we are encouraging a shift in consumer demand away from overexploited fisheries and unhealthy fish farming practices. Our water for drinking and cooking is filtered through an in-house carbon and reverse osmosis system. Our coffee is organic fair trade and locally roasted in small batches. At John J. Jeffries we also believe in sustainability for all the good folks that work with us. Medical insurance is provided to all of our full-time staff, and a family meal is prepared for all staff daily."

They've found a way on to my radar thanks to the food pairing seies they have started with regional wineries and brewries. The next one is schedule for Sunday evening, April 26, when for the first time they will pair with
Manatawny Creek Winery in Douglassville. Winemaker Joanne Levengood will have her fine wines matched up with another first: the Jeffries chefs have never before made an all-vegetarian meal for one of these pairings. Haven't seen a price for this one, but generally the bottom line is a steal considering it encompasses a multi-course meal, the wines along with an appearance by the winemaker, and tax and gratuity. These pairings already have included Pinnacle Ridge and Chaddsford wineries, and as more open in the region surrounding the restaurant, the potential for the wine base expanding increases.

And I'll think of my buddy Joe Sixpack in Philly as I add this to the events list: a Sunday, May 3 fund-raiser for the Susquehanna Sustainable Business Network. It will include blues (DJ Mike Chandler), brews (from Stoudt's Brewing Company in Adamtown, Pa.) and BBQ, and take place at the restaurant's terace from noon to 4 p.m. The cost is $25 for SSBN members and $35 for nonmembers. For anything regarding the restaurant, call 717.431.3307.