Friday, April 17, 2009

Sand Castle blasts out some news

Couple of e-notes from Sand Castle Winery in Erwinna, Pa., a member of the Bucks County Wine Trail.

* It was selected by NBC in New York to represent Bucks County and Pennsylvania "as a producer of the fine wines and entertainment" for a show that aired April 11 in the Philly area and will air elsewhere across the country in the weeks to come.

* Its schedule includes appearances at a women's show in Harrisburg on May 1-3. See if I can't get more on that before the date. That schedule also includes pouring at the
Longwood Gardens Wine and Jazz Fest on Saturday, May 2. The winery is asking for reservations by May 4 for its Mother's Day brunch at the winery on May 10, including an omelette station, home fries, orange juice, pastries and a glass of wine. Finally, it is planning to conduct a lecture on the principles of food and wine, along with a tasting, on Wednesday, May 13. The cost is $35/person and will run from 6 to 8 p.m. Anyone interested should make a reservation with Sheri Simond via email at

Serpent Ridge ready to cut the ribbon

News. News. News. Let's see. Haven't been able to catch up with Greg and Karen Lambrecht, who's Serpent Ridge Vineyards will open tomorow in Westminster, Md. It's the first one to open in that community and the newest to open in Carroll County. They are planning to be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days this weekend, and for the near future anyway. They're starting out with five wines, close to the average for any new winery that I've seen debut in this region. Those will range from a Vintner's Cabernet (blend of Cab Sauv and Cab Franc) to a what's become an accepted to an American Cabernet blend aged with American and French oak alternatives to a Rose to two whites, a Seyval Blanc and an AlbariƱo.

I don't often just lift from another Web site's story, but the Association of Maryland Wineries that Dr. Kevin Atticks directs posted a feature on the couple recently in its e-letter. Let me run that to give you an introduction to the couple and the winery, and then try to get down there this weekend and gather some more details.

Famed Australian Max Schubert once said “The greatest wines have implanted in them the ideas of the winemaker as to what they should be. His character is part of the wine.” True to form, Greg Lambrecht produces structured yet innovative wines. Greg is the winemaker at Serpent Ridge Winery, which he owns with his wife Karen.

Over the past 22 years, Greg’s Coast Guard career kept him travelling. He spent some time in the Russian River Valley of California, and that is where his love for wine and the art of wine making blossomed. “The unbelievable vistas coupled with the wonderfully new experiences on my palate had me hooked.” Greg devoted as much time as he could to experience those wineries and to tasting wines.

It wasn’t until the mid 1990s that Greg and Karen began their small-scale winemaking. This lead to a love affair with the vines, the grapes, and the wines they produced. In their new passion, they found the perfect location on a beautiful 5+ acres, and named it Serpent Ridge due to the abundance of the reptiles found on the hill.

Greg compares the climate and its challenges similar to grape growing areas like Bordeaux, Northern Italy and Eastern Europe.

“Because we are blessed with this climate we can successfully produce many vinifera and hybrid varieties,” says Greg Lambrecht. “I use the word blessed because I do not consider our climate a negative but rather one of the influences that work to define the wonderful character of our wines.”

He is a firm believer that Maryland’s grapes offer wonderful varietal characteristics and earthy undertones. These are quite different from the more popular “big” reds from the West Coast, but Lambrecht poses the question “the characteristics of Maryland wines are derived from the regional differences offered by our climate. This 'regionality' is embraced in other parts of the world–why not here?”

Serpent Ridge consists currently of two acres of grapes, and this leads to a hands-on approach to wine making. Each vintage is made in small lots, and aged in stainless steel or new age oak. The bottles are sealed with a Zork, a relatively new and quite innovative approach to bottle closures. In regards to the debate of art versus science when wine making, Greg says this “At Serpent Ridge we allow the art of winemaking to be nudged by science if it decides to wander too far from our vision.”

Serpent Ridge officially opens in April. Look out for Serpent Ridge AlbariƱo and two Cabernet blends, both influenced by Greg’s favorite varietals. Serpent Ridge will also be making a Pinot Grigio, Seyval-Blanc, and Ophion, a semi-sweet blush.