Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This weekend's activities run gamut from grape stomp to wine trail celebration

This is a busy weekend coming up for winery-based activities in the Pennsylvania-Maryland region. One is what's now become the annual grape stomp down at Sugarloaf Mountain Winery in Dickinson, Md., on the way to Washington D.C. Activities will run Saturday and sunday from noon to 5, with everything from music to tours to tastings and, of course, the stomp, with prizes awarded to the fastest (and most accomplished) on their feet. Love the photo I've attached on here of the toddler in the barrel; borrowed it off their Web site. Online advance tickets are $12; they will be $15 at the gate.

Across the Mason-Dixon Line in Pennsylvania will be the celebration of the harvest on the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail, an event called Chambourcin Weekend. All nine wineries will feature special tastings and food pairings, entertainment, seminars and more. You can hit the trail site for specifics. Expect things to commence Saturday at 10 a.m. and running until 5 p.m., with maybe a little more room to move around on Sunday once the NFL kicks off. Wineries that day are scheduled to be open from noon until 5 o'clock.

Down the road a bit will be the sixth anniversary bash at Crossing Vineyards & Winery. There's a new building dedication on Saturday, in addition to tastings and a birthday drawing that can win you two free tickets to a wine and food dinner on Nov. 14.

These are just a taste of what's going on. You can do a wider search by stopping by the Web sites of the Association of Maryland Wineries or the Pennsylvania Winery Association and clicking on the individual winery sites.

Dry spell offers ray of hope for vintage

You've seen some of the correspondence from Pennsylvania wine grape educator Mark Chien to his many clients regarding issues in the vineyard. His assessment a month ago was that the persistent rain, particularly in the southeast part of the state, could really make this harvest and vintage tough to salvage. His update sounded more optimistic, as the spigot has been tightened, at least over the past couple of weeks.

He writes: "I'm always delighted to have to eat my words even though it happens more requently that I would care to admit. The rain has not abated entirely but certainly lessened around the region recently and that means that grapes are hanging on and, well, sort of ripening. A lot of growers are calling me asking me when they should harvest their grapes. The simple answer is that I can't decide from my office. But there are some pretty standard guidelines for determining grape maturity, even in a crazy vintage like this one. I'm really encouraged by positive reports about fruit quality from Long Island, the Finger Lakes and Virginia.

"Once again, if you minded your viticultural Ps and Qs during the growing season, now is when you reap the rewards. It wasn't easy. Frost could be in our future and that may force some harvest decisions, but as long as the fruit is clean and not being picked clean by birds, deer, raccoons, etc. it will probably benefit from some 'hang time' even if the temperatures are in the 50s. I have heard of beautiful Chambourcin on the vines but they have a way to go. It's still a low sugar year but that doesn't mean it has to be low flavor. The numbers are a bit wacky and wine makers will have their palates and imaginations tested but hopefully the wines will find a good balance by springtime. Just about any maturity index but sugar should be used as a guide this year. pH will hold more sway as an indicator of physiological ripeness. Acids will almost always be on the high side.

"Flavors are the most important wine quality indicators. For reds, skin and seed tannins are critical and in this cool and extended season may be quite well resolved. Other indices such as seed and stem color (brown is better) and the onset of shelling of berries are all signs of ripeness. The best thing to do is to spend time in the vineyard with someone who really understands the nature of ripe fruit and knows how to balance these traits with other conditions that influence a picking decision. Tasting berries is such a refined skill. I always tasted juice samples after an overnight settle for color, texture, acid, sweetness, balance and flavors.

"It really makes a big difference where your vineyard is located this year. Some area got a lot less rain than others this summer. Yields are completely unpredictable. A grower told me about a block of Seyval that normally yields 8 tons and this year they only got one. My sense is that most of the grapes will come off in the next week or two, except on Long Island, of course, where they like to harvest in the morning and then enjoy their Thanksgiving feast.

Locavore program scheduled at Chaddsford on Thursday has to be put on back burner

I had intended to tout the "Lessons from a Locavore" that co-owner/winemaker Eric Miller had planned at Chaddsford Winery on Thursday night, Oct. 15, but learned today that the event has been postponed. Just not enough folks signing up, Lee Miller wrote by e-mail earlier today. She noted that there was a lot of interest in the concept, but it appears the sour economy might have made this event a casualty.

"This is a bad season for classes," she wrote. "Most of ours, and others I hear about, have not been fully subscribed."

Attendees were being charged $40 for the two-hour program. Miller had invited four four local food growers -- fourth-generation mushroom grower Anthony Ianni, Green Meadow Farms' Glen Brendle, cheese producer Sue Miller from Birchrun Hill Farms, and beef-producer Buckrun Farms -- to discuss what they do and pair their foodstuffs with the wines of Chaddsford. It was also to include a plate for each attendee made up by
Pace One Restaurant & Country Inn.

Instead, this one gets put off for another time. Still, lots of other activities are scheduled at Chaddsford, featuring everything from reserve tastings to Spiced Apple Sundays during October to a "Taste of Pennsylvania" wine and food dinner at the
Tom Quick Inn in Milford, Pa., on Oct. 30. For more on the events planned at Chaddsford, click on the Web site.

Southcentral Pa. winery, vineyard both for sale

Been following the progress of a winery for sale in southcentral Pennsylvania, called Seven Valleys. Been up for over a year, with the asking price for the 79-acre lot and boutique winery at $2.3 million. You can find out more on the property at this link.

Meanwhile, Pa. grape educator Mark Chien sent out an e-mail on Monday that another southcentral Pennsylvania property, called the Stewart vineyard in Stewartstown, Pa., is on the market. The asking price for the 22-acre lot, including the vineyards and buildings, is $475,000. Chien noted that the property, located at 14110 Clark Road, "has an excellent
reputation and have been selling grapes to some of the best wineries in the state for many years." Serious inquiries should be directed to Susan Anderson at 410.925.1618.

See more information below.


22 acres of rolling farmland with an established 5-acre vinifera vineyard, historic 1884 farmhouse in excellent condition, large barn dating to the 1830’s, also in excellent condition, and outbuildings. A nearly 2-acre building lot overlooking the vineyard is included. The vineyard produces some of the premier wine grapes in the state of Pennsylvania.

The property includes 2 lots. “Lot 1” is vineyard, house, barn and outbuildings and is approximately 20 acres. “Lot 5” is the building lot with about 1.45 acres overlooking the vineyard plus .5 acres for driveway access.

Vineyard: Established in 1993 as Stewart Vineyard by Nelson and Susan Anderson Stewart, the vineyard includes a front lot of 3 acres planted as 1.75 acres of Cabernet Franc, and .75 acres each of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. This vineyard is currently under the operation of Allegro Winery. A rear vineyard of just under 2 acres was planted in 1997 and contains 1 acre of Cabernet Franc, .5 acre of Merlot and .25 acre of Chardonnay. This vineyard is farmed by property owner Susan Anderson. The vineyard is planted on 3309 rootstock at 10x5 spacing. Average annual yield is approximately 12 tons.

House: Built in 1884, this 4 level 1800 square foot home has been fully renovated and well maintained.

Lower level: walkout to backyard patio, family room, historic stone fireplace, laundry room, ½ bath. 1st level: kitchen , sitting room and dining room, all with original wood floors, and porch.

First level: Kitchen, sitting room dining room, porch

2nd level: full bath and master bedroom

Top level: In attic – two-room guest room or office. Large closet plus storage space.


· New roof 2009

· Updated septic 2008 and 2009

· Modern electric (circuit breaker box) and plumbing (pvc and copper pipes)

· Well pump installed 2006

· Efficient ETS Heating units in kitchen/sitting room and on lower level

· Nearly all rooms of house renovated – repainted, floors refinished, plaster repaired or replaced, electric updated – since 1997.

· Energy efficient 50 gallon hot water heater

Barn: Historic building dating from establishment of farm in approximately 1830. Beautiful log construction with stone foundation. Lower basement level was winemaking area. Has cement floor with drain, ceiling insulation, electric including 220v. Upper level is divided into 3 areas: office/wine storage area, open equipment central storage area with garage door, and a partitioned 3rd area which was begun as an apartment unit but not finished.

Attic level of barn has storage on 2 ends, accessed by steps or ladder.

Additional features of property: In addition to the house and barn, the 22 acres includes vineyard, large yard, woods and creek. Also 2 original out-buildings: the original house, dated to the 1830’s still stands on the property and is structurally stable but unoccupied and unfinished. (3 floors of 20x20 ft). Also standing and stable is the smokehouse.


Regional Wine Week off and running

Before I begin my cycle for the week, let me remind my followers that this is Regional Wine Week, with somewhere around 50 bloggers from around the country writing all week about wines and wineries in their region.

To access their blogs, just click on this link.

For those of you visiting mine for the first time, I use it to introduce folks to the wines, wineries and winemakers of the Pennsylvania-Maryland region, probably 70 or more all told now. And, like a lot of areas, continuing to grow annually in size and scope.