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11th Annual Wine in the Garden!

Yesterday, at the end of our wine presentation, one of the participants mentioned a wine event later this week – Wine in the Garden. This Thursday, May 25, the Howard County Conservancy is offering it’s Annual Wine in the Garden event. Wine in the Garden is a benefit to support  the Conservancy environmental and preservation programs.

This special yearly event includes an opportunity to walk the garden while enjoying wine, beer and food from local businesses. The event includes: live bluegrass music, a silent auction and a raffle. The items for the raffle include: getaways, dining and artwork.

Wine in the Garden takes place May 25 from 5 to 8pm. Ticket prices are $55.

About Howard County Conservancy

According to the Howard County Conservancy website, “The Howard County Conservancy is a local nonprofit whose mission is to educate children and adults about the natural world, preserve the land and its legacy for future generations and model responsible stewardship of our environment.”

For children the Conservancy offers field trips for Kindergarteners thru 5th graders. Summer camps are available at two of the Conservancy locations: Mt. Pleasant and Belmont.

Howard County Conservancy is also offering a variety of events throughout the summer. If you enjoy nature or just want to learn more about environment, you’ll want to consider participating in some of the following events.

  • Hike to the Patapsco – June 10
  • Father’s Day Fun – June 17
  • Fiddlers and Fireflies – June 29
  • Building Woodland Fairy Houses – July 8
  • The Conservancy’s Rich Natural Diversity through a Naturalist’s Eyes – July 13
  • Hike Belmont and Nearby Patapsco Trails – July 15
  • Family Bio-Blitz- Search for Plants and Animals – August 12
  • Perseid Meteor Shower – August 12 and August 13

Take a look at the Howard County Conservancy website to learn about its numerous programs. If you have the opportunity, plan to attend Wine in the Garden that will benefit the Conservancy.


Indiana: An Emerging Wine State

Satek Winery in Fremont, Indiana

Hillside White, a popular wine at Hartland Winery in Ashley, IN.

Fruit Hills Winery & Orchards in Bristol, Indiana is another friendly winery to visit.

Over the past week we have visited several wineries, three in northern Indiana. We were delighted to see the enthusiasm by all of the wineries and met three Indiana winery owners and winemakers.  The winery industry is growing in Indiana. We learned that the majority of Indiana wineries are located in the southern region of Indiana. We anticipate possibly visiting these wineries. In the meantime we will remember our delightful visits to wineries in northern Indiana where they are producing some delightful wines with cold hardy grapes developed by the University of Minnesota and cool hardy varieties developed by Cornell University.

We came across several different grape varieties that can withstand some cold temperatures, for example, Traminette. Many of these varieties are hybrid. Winemakers use the Traminette grape variety to craft wines that may be dry or sweet. Therefore, Traminette can be enjoyed as an aperitif or paired with pork or seafood.

Indiana has six wine trails including:

  • Cardinal Flight Wine Trail
  • Indiana Uplands Wine Trail
  • Indy Wine Trail
  • Indiana Wine Trail
  • Hoosier Wine Trail
  • The Wineries of Indiana’s North East Tour

The three Indiana wineries we visited this week were Fruit Hills Winery and Orchard, Satek Winery and Hartland Winery. A unique aspect of traveling to Hartland Winery in Ashley, Indiana is seeing a bright yellow tower with a smiley face on it. The tag line for the town is “Home of the Smiley Face.”

The Indiana wine industry is increasing. If you plan on vacationing in Indiana this summer, be sure to include visits to a few Indiana wineries to discover what wines they have to offer.

Watch for our specific winery article reviews coming soon.


Wine in the Woods, May 20 and May 21

Bordeleau Vineyards & Winery

This weekend, May 20 and 21, is the 25th Anniversary of Wine in the Woods. This well-known wine festival takes place in Columbia, Maryland and celebrates Maryland wine, artisan works of art and music.

Red Heifer Winery

Twenty-six wineries will be attending and pour wine tastings. In addition, ticket holders will have the opportunity to purchase an array of food items from 25 food vendors. An assortment of 30 artisans and crafters will have their works of art available for sale. Look for creative jewelry, furniture, photography, mixed media, soy wax candles and much more.

Layton’s Chance

Music will be provided by Radio King Orchestra, Bad Influence Band, Secret Society, Unified Jazz Ensemble, Junkfood and more.

Tickets are available for wine tasers, designated drives, and youth (ages 3 to 20). For more information visit the ticket online information.

Adults with a passion for wine will be happy to see both old and new Maryland wineries participating at Wine in the Woods this weekend. Ticket holders will have the opportunity to taste wines from various terroirs within Maryland.

Maryland wineries participating include:

Basignani Winery
Boordy Vineyards
Boredeleau Vineyards & Winery
Cove Point Winery
Dragonfly Vineyard & Winery
Elk Run Vineyards
Far Eastern Shore Winery
Fiore Winery & Distillery
Fridays Creek Winery
Great Frogs Estate
Great Shoals Winery
Knob Hall  Winery
Layton’s Chance
Linganore Winery
Olney Winery
Orchid Cellar
Port of Leonardtown Winery
Red Heifer Winery
Royal Rabbit Vineyards
Running Hare Vineyard
Solomons Island
St. Michaels Winery
Thanksgiving Farm Vineyards & Winery
Turkey Point Vineyard
Urban Winery

For more details, visit the Wine in the Woods website.


How to Choose a Wine for Mother’s Day!

Celebrate Mother’s Day with wine and flowers!

With Mother’s Day just a few short days away, below are a few tips to help choosing a wine for this special day honoring Mom, Grandma, Great  Grandma, Stepmom and all those special women in your life. If you are not sure just what type of wine your Mom will enjoy, keep in mind whether she enjoys wine regularly or is new to the world of wine. The predominant belief among many wine drinkers, with more experience drinking wine, is that will likely enjoy a wine serious wine with layers of fruit and tannins. Otherwise choose a light style wine, perhaps a rosé.

Wine Suggestions for Mother’s Day

  1. Visit a winery to pick up a bottle of wine. Many wineries offer a tasting of wines and this enables visitors to explore the different wine styles, choosing the perfect wine for Mother’s Day.

2. Sparkling wines are a great choice. There is nothing like a sparkling wine to say that this is a special day!

3. If your mother enjoys sweet goodies, another wine option is a dessert wine. Some dessert wines will satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth. A good example is an icewine made in the traditional way.

4. Wines do not need to be expensive to be good; just because a bottle of wine is expensive doesn’t make it good. Numerous good wines can be discovered for around $15.

5. Choose your wine based on the food that will be served on Mother’s Day. With a salad, consider a white wine like Viognier, Riesling or Chardonnay.  For barbecued food serve, a red wine with good tannins. If a a fish entrée is to be served, try Albariño or Pinot Grigio.

Before hand delivering your bottle of wine, tie a ribbon with a rose to the bottle.

Another idea for Mother’s Day is purchase a small box of chocolates filled with wine. These candies can sometimes be found in winery tasting rooms.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms and moms-to-be!



Señorio de Rubios, A Rias Baixas Winery

A Rias Baixas Wine Tasting

We were invited to a wine tasting featuring the Rias Baixas region. The wine tasting included an Albarino wine from Señorio de Rubios. The tasting was held at Succotash Restaurant in Oxon Hill, Maryland during spring 2017. After the delightful wine tasting, we submitted several questions to  winemaker Jorge Hervella who crafts wines at Señorio de Rubios and Bodegas As Laxas winery. He kindly responded to our numerous questions.

About Señorio de Rubios

Señorio de Rubios was founded in 2003 by 57 partners who were interested in developing and marketing wines from the Rubios area. In 2017, the winery has grown to 105 participating partners. The first wines were released in 2006. Today the winery is producing still red and white wines, sparkling and distilled products.

Señorio de Rubios is located in the Rias Baixas region of Spain. The property is close to the Miño River.

General tours of one hour and special winery/winemaking tours of two hours are available. Tours are available in Spanish, English, Galician and Portuguese. Wine enthusiasts and travelers who wish to visit the winery should request a reservation.

Location: : Bouza do Rato s / n – Rubiós, 36.449 As Neves (Pontevedra)

GPS: N 42 ° 07’12 “W 08 ° 25’49”

Responding to one of our online interview questions Jorge Hervella wrote, “We have around 250 acres (including vineyards we own and those of the growers we work with). We grow the following grape varieties: Albariño, Treixadura, Loureiro, Godello, Torrontés (white); and Sousón, Espadeiro, Caiño tinto, Mencía, Pedral and Brancellao (red). The winery’s location is perfect for growing red varieties from Rías Baixas, so we are continue to cultivate these varieties.”

Interview with Winemaker Jorge Hervella, Winemaker at Señorio de Rubios and Bodegas As Laxas

What are your most enjoyable aspects of winemaking? 

“I enjoy the whole winemaking process, but harvesting is the most special season because it’s key in the result of the wine.”

How and when did your wine journey begin? 

“It’s a family tradition. My great grandfather founded the oldest winery in Ribeiro region (and possibly the oldest in Galicia). In 1988, my father encouraged me to study winemaking in the “Escuela de la vid y el vino” (School of the vine and wine) in Madrid.”

Why did you decide to start making wine? 

“Because of my family’s history with winemaking, plus I’m from Ribadavia, the most viticultural city in Galicia.”

What do you wish you knew when you started making wine that you now know? 

“Everything that I know now. But that’s impossible because experience is key in the learning process.”

To what do you contribute your success as a winemaker? 

“Mainly, consistency and dedication. I love what I do and this is critical to achieve success.”

Albariño is a very food friendly wine. What types of foods do you like to pair with Albariño wine? 

“Albariño is a very versatile wine that you can pair with many different dishes. It’s usually paired with fish, seafood and rice. I think that due to its well-roundedness, Albariño can pair with different kinds of meat as well.”

At home we enjoy pairing Albariño wines with a variety of foods. If you need a white wine, Albariño is one of the wines to consider.


Treat Mom with Wine Recipes for Mother’s Day!

Messina Hof Winery, Texas

Mother’s Day is quickly approaching! Whether you have a gift for that special woman in your life or are just beginning your search, if you will be visiting your Mom this Mother’s Day weekend, why not create one of these special dishes for her?

For breakfast you may want to try Eggs Florentine. The recipe was provided by Merrill Bonarrigo from Messina Hof Winery & Resort in Bryan, Texas. The ingredients include a 1/4 cup of Messina Hof Pinot Grigio. (The recipe is also in the book by Merrill and Paul Bonarrigo, Vineyard Cuisine: Meals & Memories from Messina Hof.)

Barrington Cellars, New York

For lunch, create a special salad such as  Jazzed-Up Macaroni Salad, a simple recipe only requiring four ingredients – pasta, mayonnaise, wine and corn relish. This salad recipe was provided by Barrington Cellars close to Keuka Lake in New York’s Finger Lakes region.

Numerous recipes for entrees are available on the Wine Trail Traveler website. You can choose from a number of types of entree recipes that include the categories of beef, pork, poultry, game, lamb and fish/seafood. Each recipe includes wine as one of the ingredients.

Daniel Vineyards, West Virginia

What’s Mother’s Day without dessert? A really easy but delicious recipe is a wine cake recipe. These cake recipes usually call for fruit wine like blackberry wine and a gelatin mix. Personally, my favorite wine cakes I make use blackberry wine or raspberry wine and a corresponding gelatin flavor. These cakes are really easy to make because they call for a box cake mix. Check out the Blackberry Wine Cake recipe from Daniel Vineyards in West Virginia.

Articles about these three wineries and more recipes are available on the Wine Trail Traveler website.


Adegas Valmiñor, A Rias Baixas Winery

Adegas Valmiñor, a Rias Baixas Winery

Adegas Valmiñor is located in the southernmost region of  DO Rias Baixas. The winery was founded in 1997 by Carlos Gómez.

Wine enthusiasts will enjoy the wine bottle labels which emphasize the Celtic symbols of land, air, sun and rain. These four ancient symbols were unearthed from a mountain located near the winery.

The winery is located in the DO sub-region of O Rosal, along the Miño River which borders Portugal. The vineyards are influenced by low altitude, high precipitation and mild temperatures as well as the Atlantic Ocean and the River Miño. The soil is known for its minerality

Adegas Valmiñor Location

A Portela s / n, San Juan de Tabagón.
36760, O Rosal – Pontevedra
GPS coordinates: 41º 55 ‘59.1’ ‘N, 8º 47’ 41.5 ” O

Wine Tasting

At a spring 2017 Rias Baixas wine tasting in Oxon Hill, Maryland held in the southern-cuisine Succotash Restaurant, we tasted the  Valmiñor 2015 Albariño wine. This wine was produced with 6 to 8 hours of cold maceration.  The Albariño wine was a yellow color. It offered notes of citrus, mineral and melon. The  full-bodied wine had a fruity finish with the fruit yielding to mineral notes. The retail price is a reasonable $14 per bottle.


Wine enthusiasts will discover that the winery offers one-hour guided tours in Spanish and English. Reservations can be made online on the winery’s website.

Adegas Valmiñor Winemaker Cristina Mantilla kindly responded to several of our interview questions below.

Winemaker Cristina Mantilla

1. What are your most enjoyable aspects of winemaking?

Discovering how many things a glass of wine can say and being able to transmit that to consumers.

2. How and when did your wine journey begin?

In 1990, I started working within a small wine coop in Condado do Tea, with our own vineyards, little resources and big dreams.

3. Why did you decide to start making wine?

This isn’t a decision that you make from one day to the other but once you get in touch with the vineyards around and you know more and more, you start to feel this passion and wish of telling your story through the wines you make.

4. How many hectares of grapes are you growing? Which varieties are you growing?

As an oenological consultant, I work with a few acres of vineyard (around 173) but very diverse: albariño in all Rias Baixas subzones, but also loureiro, godello and caiño blanco in small plots in Condado do Tea, O Rosal and Ribera do Ulla. I also work with red varieties such as brancellao, red loureiro, red caiño and castañal, all of them in O Rosal subzone.

5. What do you wish you knew when you started making wine that you now know?

Know more about the history of Galician vineyards and about the wine world at an international level.

6. To what do you contribute your success as a winemaker?

To my honesty and objectivity

7. Albariño is a very food friendly wine. What types of foods do you like to pair with Albariño wine?

It’s a very versatile wine that can be paired with light and fresh dishes, seafood, raw fish, rice, pasta, fish stews or more elaborated dishes of the sea. It also pairs very well with white meats, fresh and cured cheese, and Galician appetizers such as mussels and other preserved shellfish.


Mar de Frades: A Rias Baixas Winery

Winemaker Paula Fandiño

Mar de Frades is a winery located in the up and coming Rias Baixas wine region of northwest Spain. Mar de Frades, established in 2007, is located in the Salnés valley and close to the Arousa estuary. The winery features the Albariño grape variety.

In addition to Albariño still wine, Mar de Frades is also producing a 100 percent Brut Nature made with 100 percent Albariño grapes. This is produced with the  classic Méthode.

Mar de Frades location:

Finca Valiñas, Lg Arosa 16, 36637
Meis, Pontevedra (Spain)

In response to a series of questions, Winemaker Paula Fandiño kindly responded.

  1. What are your most enjoyable aspects of winemaking?

“What I like the most is that every day is different. It is a special process, global and unique every year, in which you work to get the best of each grape and translate it into a wine.”

2. How and when did your wine journey begin?

“Throughout the year, the works are different, in spring and summer, I am waiting for our vines to give their best aromatic version, in autumn and winter, I work with the fermentations and maintaining  all the aromas to get the best expression of our wines .

Wine is part of my life, something that has always been present in my house, in my surroundings, something that attracts me from a young age without knowing the reason why … after that, that feeling is transformed into passion, that is my case. I am an agronomist Ingeneer, because I understood that the principle and the base is the vineyard, after that I got specialized in the production of wines in the winery.”

3. Why did you decide to start making wine?

‘If you like something, you must go for it, so I understood that the global training in winemaking and marketing was necessary, and without even realizing it, after working in a vineyard for some years, I started to work in the winery, first learning, smelling and testing and subsequently directing the production of wines of various types.”

4. How many hectares of grapes are you growing? Which varieties are you growing?

“We work only with the native and best adapted variety of the area, the Albariño grape. We cultivate 35 ha (86.5 acres) of own Albariño vineyards. We have plantations of 40, 20 and 10 years old age, in addition we also work in another 125 ha (309 acres), also of the albariño variety, with which we elaborate our Mar de Frades wine.”

5. What do you wish you knew when you started making wine that you now know?

“My knowledge has been growing as steeply as the application of such knowledge to making wine; therefore, I´m not missing anything I had to have known before. Being alert to your environment, to what happens to the vineyard, to the strong influence of the Atlantic climate on the vineyard are elements that give character to my knowledge.”

6. To what do you contribute your success as a winemaker?

“Fundamentally to the rigor in the work, to the small details that mark the difference between wines. The care and dedication that all the team puts in the time of obtaining and bottling our best wines. It is the commitment, together with the necessary facilities and knowledge, which causes our wines to be excellent.”

7. Albariño is a very food friendly wine. What types of foods do you like to pair with Albariño wine?

“Because of the freshness and salinity of the wines, the Asian food pairs perfectly, both the raw fish and the slightly spicy dishes, are perfect. Nor do I forget the seafood that comes from Galician coasts: scallops, clams, oysters, barnacles …. It is a sure hit to harmonize with Mar de Frades.”

We wish Winemaker Paula Fandiño and Mar de Frades winery a wonderful future!


Vitkin Winery: An Israeli Journey

The tag line for Vitkin is “an Israeli journey through vineyards and varieties.” We received a sample of a rosé Vitkin wine and were interested in this Israeli winery’s story. This family owned winery crafted its first vintage in 2002. Israeli Journey is a series of wines made from a blend of grape varieties. The fruit is sourced from different vineyards throughout Israel, and the name results from the physical journey to the vineyards. Blends in this series are unique, as was the blend in the rosé we tasted.

Doron Belogolovsky is the winemaker. In the 1980s he worked in Italy where he was immersed in the wine culture. A decade later, Doyon was join by his brother-in-law Assaf Paz who completed an oenology degree in Bordeaux, France. Sharona Paz-Belogolovsky also caught the wine bug, and as an architect planned and refurbished the winery. Sharona’s and Assf’s father, Avraham Paz, retired and then join the winery staff.

The 2016 Vitkin Winery Pink Israeli Journey Dry Rosé Wine was a blend of 90% Grenache Noir (Garnacha) and 10% Carignan (Mazuelo). The grapes for this particular blend were sourced from vineyards in the East Carmel Ridge. Some of the fruit was left on the skins for several hours to extract color and flavors, while the rest of the fruit was pressed with little skin contact. The wine had a salmon color with a red hue. The very fruity aroma emphasized red berry fruit especially strawberry on the taste. The finish was crisp and fruity with fruit yielding to mineral on the aftertaste. This is a perfect aperitif. We paired this wine with cheese and humus. We also had it as an aperitif. This is an excellent wine for Mother’s Day and throughout the summer months. Keep the wine cool with a frozen strawberry added to the glass of wine. The suggested retail price for the wine is $29.99.


Pinot, Pasta and Parties: A Book Review

Pinot, Pasta and Parties by Dee Dee & Paul Sorvino

A few weeks ago, I received a cookbook Pinot, Pasta, and Parties to review.

Pinot, Pasta, and Parties 

Authors: Dee Dee and Paul Sorvino
Photography: Vincent Remini
Publisher: Center Street Hachette Book Group
Price: $30.00/hardcover
Copyright: 2017
ISBN: 978-1-4555-9689-8 (hardcover)
Pages: 264

Readers of Pinot, Pasta, and Parties are likely to discover that there is a little bit of Italian in themselves. This book, more than a cookbook, is filled with dynamic colorful photos, mostly of food dishes but also of Dee Dee and Paul Sorvino’s lives. As well as the many recipes and numerous mouthwatering photos, tidbits of information about the authors are included throughout the book. Readers browsing through Pinot, Pasta, and Parties will undoubtedly discover Italian-style recipes to try and learn about the unique couple Dee Dee and Paul Sorvino.

Pinot, Pasta and Parties begins with a short 3-page description of the authors and how they met. Later, the chapters begin with a page or two of additional details about Dee Dee and Paul. The book jacket describes the Paul and Dee Dee. “Dee Dee Sorvino is an Emmy Award-winning television host and radio personality. She has appeared on Fox News Channel, Fox Business Channel, CBS Morning Show, and many others. Paul Sorvino has appeared in nearly 200 films as well as numerous television shows and Broadway productions. Best known for his portrayal of tough guys, Sorvino played Paul Cicero in Goodfellas, police chief Captain Edelson in Cruising, and Sergeant Phil Cerreta on Law and Order.”

This delight book offers 10 chapters of Italian-style recipes beginning with “Italian Through and Through: From Meatballs to Marinara.” Each chapter starts with Dee Dee’s Special Cocktail and is followed by several recipes. The cookbook offers a good selection of appetizers, pasta dishes, sides, salads and desserts.

At the beginning of the book, Paul offers his Marinara Sauce with ingredients of whole tomatoes, olive oil  garlic cloves, basil and oregano. He suggests that homemade marinara sauce is much better than already made sauce. Many of the recipes in the book call for his marinara sauce.

For those who enjoy desserts, browse through the book to find Zabaglione with Strawberries and Blueberries, Tiramisu, Stars & Stripes Fruit Pizza and Olive Oil Cake.

The appendix contains two pages that describe Italian wine. Red wines included in the appendix are: Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Lambrusco, Barbera, Montepulciano, Primitivo, Amarone and Valpolicella.

Some of the recipes included in Pinot, Pasta and Parties that use wine as an ingredient include: Shrimp Scampi, Veal Stew, Zuppa di Pesce, Chicken Scarpariello, Southern Chicken Cacciatore and Veal Piccata.

Pros: Large, colorful photos enhance this book of recipes. The easy-to-make recipe for marinara would be delightful in any kitchen that frequently uses tomato-based recipes. I especially enjoy a cookbook with recipes that have ingredients that I usually have in my kitchen. The majority of recipes in Pinot, Pasta and Parties meet that criteria.

Cons: While it would be impossible to add all Italian grape varieties, I wish they had included Sagrantino, a delicious red wine we discovered while visiting Italy. Perhaps when the Sorvinos issue a revised edition, they will devote a chapter just to Italian wines.


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