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October is Virginia Wine Month

Celebrate Virginia’s October Wine Month

The numerous Virginia wineries throughout the state offer a delightful time for wine lovers who want to travel a little. From Northern to Southern Virginia and East to West, Virginia has many wineries. Wine Trail Traveler has visited and written about many of these wineries that vary in size from boutique to castle-size. October is Virginia Wine Month and so now is a great time to visit and enjoy Virginia’s beautiful countryside. Virginia also has a few urban wineries that wine enthusiasts can visit.

Arterra Wines, a boutique winery

Virginia Wine Facts

  • Virginia has seven AVAs (American Viticultural Areas)

-George Washington Birthplace AVA
-Middleburg AVA
-The Monticello AVA
-The North Fork of Roanoke AVA
-The Rocky Knob AVA
-The Shenandoah Valley AVA
-Virginia’s Eastern Shore AVA

  • Virginia has 260 wineries and is growing.
  • Due to the different climates and soils in Virginia, wine growers are able to grow more than 20 different grape varieties.
  • Discover white grape varieties such as: Albariño, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Petit Manseng, Riesling, Rkatsiteli, Sauvignon Blanc, Seyval Blanc, Traminette, Vidal Blanc and Viognier.

Morais Vineyards & Winery, Virginia

Red wine lovers can look for Virginia wines produced with Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chambourcin, Malbec, Merlot, Bebbiolo, Norton, Petit Verdot, Pinotage, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Tannat.

  • Virginia wine trails include:

-211 Scenic Vino Wine Trail
-Artisanal Wineries of Rappahannock
Bedford Wine Trail
-Blue Ridge Whiskey Wine Loop (map)
Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail
-Eastern Shore Wine Trail
-Fauquier County Wine Trail
Foothills Scenic Wine Trail
Heart of Virginia Wine Trail
-Loudoun’s DC Wine Country
Monticello Wine Trail
Mountain Road Wine Experience
-Nelson 151 Trail
Shenandoah County Wine Trail
Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail
-SoVA Wine Trail
Wine Trail of Botetourt County

  • When using social media to write about Virginia wines, use the hashtag #OctVAWineMonth

If you are looking for more details about a Virginia winery experience, check out the winery reviews on Wine Trail Traveler.


Celebrating Sweetest Day with Wine

Firelands Winery tasting room in Ohio

Several wineries in Ohio are offering a delightful way to enjoy celebrating the Sweetest Day holiday.

Sweetest Day, always celebrated on the third Saturday of October takes place this year on October 21. This is a special day especially for those with the proverbial sweet tooth. Not a well-known day, but certainly an enticing day especially for those who like sweets. Sweetest Day was started in Cleveland, Ohio in the early 1920s. The story goes that Herbert Birch Kingston, a philanthropist, wanted to be kind especially to poor children and the elderly. He began distributing candy to many. Another story is that in 1922, 12 candy makers in Cleveland distributed 20,000 candy boxes. Much later florists and Hallmark joined in the fun to celebrate Sweetest Day.

According to the Ohio Wine Producers Association, Sweetest Day is celebrated in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and West Virginia. In addition areas in Pennsylvania and New York celebrate Sweetest Day. Oddly enough the custom is also observed in much farther away Washington State.

The Winery at Versailles

If you want to celebrate Sweetest Day this year with someone special, consider attending the Autumn Wine Affair at the Liberty Aviation Museum in Port Clinton, Ohio.

Wine lovers can choose to attend an afternoon session or an evening session.  The event will include live music. Light refreshments will be available for purchase. A limited number of VIP tickets are available. VIP tickets include an additional hour of tasting and access to the winemakers.

Eight of Ohios numerous wineries will participate in this special wine event. Wineries will include:

  • Chateau Tebeau, Helena
  • D & D Smith Winery, Norwalk
  • Firelands Winery, Sandusky
  • Gillig Winery, Findlay
  • Heineman’s Winery, Put-in-Bay
  • It’s Your Winery, Medina
  • Mon Ami Historic Winery, Port Clinton
  • The Winery at Versailles, Versailles

Fabbioli Cellars in Virginia

As I searched for activities involving Sweetest Day wine events, I learned that Sweetest Day events also take place in other states.

For example, in Northern Virginia, on Saturday Fabbioli Cellars is offering an additional chocolate pairing on the tasting plate.

Cambria Estate Vineyard & Winery in Santa Maria, California is offering their 90 point Rosé at a special price of six bottles for $120. Anyone interested in this offer should contact Jessica Bewley at jessica.Bewley@cambriawines.com.

Cambria Estate Winery

In West Virginia, a special train ride with wine and chocolate will take place. The Lorain and West Virginia Railway is offering a one and a half hour train ride that will include sampling chocolate and four wines from Matus Winery. This is popular as it is already sold out!


The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy: Book Review

The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy

The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy was recently published in September 2017. This book by author Andy Heidel, owner of The Way Station in Brooklyn, New York, is a combination of cocktail recipes, tidbits of cocktail information, anecdotes and humor.

The volume contains more than 100 cocktail recipes and Heidel relates all of the recipes to a variety of movies and TV shows. Movies mentioned in the cocktail guide include: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Back to the Future, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Dune, The Hunger Games, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, The Matrix, Planet of the Apes, The Walking Dead, Star Wars and many more. Television shows include the likes of Doctor Who, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. , Star Trek, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Fans of Game of Thrones will want to try either The Blood of My Enemies or the George R. R. Martini cocktails. Lord of the Rings enthusiasts will surely want to give My Precious, Gandalf the Greylock or Gimli cocktails a try. For those who remember the many Star Trek shows, Heidel offers many recipes.

In addition to the numerous easy-to-make cocktail recipes, Heidel offers a few pages of introduction to the world of cocktails. He adds information on making these cocktails at home with your own everyday items. Basically, the reader does not feel the need to shop for special bar equipment to make these cocktails. The author offers helpful tidbits such as “one part” is the same as 1 1/2 ounces.

Sample recipe from The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy

The book contains so many recipes with references to numerous films and TV shows. As a fan of the old TV Star Trek series, I decided to share this recipe from The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy. The recipe was named for the well-known Captain Kirk. Notice how easy the recipe is to make. Author Andy Heidel begins the cocktail with this comment, “None of us can be as cool as Captain Kirk, but sipping this drink will make you think you are.”

The Jameson T. Kirk Cocktail

1/2 part Jameson whiskey
1/2 part mezcal
1/4 part Cointreau
Ginger beer

Pour the whiskey, mezcal, and Cointreau into a small glass full of ice. Top with Ginger beer.

Throughout the volume, Heidel offers a variety of hints. For example, be sure to eat before drinking. Heidel explains that this slows down the absorption rate of the alcohol. Another suggestion is to drink a glass of water between each drink.

If you enjoy an occasional cocktail and a variety of science fiction shows, you are likely to enjoy The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy. It is available as a hardcover and Kindle through Amazon.


Barrel Oak Winery Helps Others and Napa Humane

Barrel Oak Winery donating to Napa Humane

Barrel Oak Winery in Northern Virginia believes in helping others and their companions. Already this year the owners of Barrel Oak Winery have been able to help those suffering from this year’s hurricanes. For example, the winery sent $2300 to the victims of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. They have also sent $1500 to Puerto Rico.

While the disastrous wildfires in California are severely affecting many people, their homes, wineries and vineyards, the news doesn’t say much about the loss of animal life or the needs of  animals affected. Napa Humane is striving to help those animals.

The owners of Barrel Oak Winery, Brian and Sharon Roeder, are animal enthusiasts. This weekend, October 14 and October 15, Barrel Oak Winery is collecting 10% of the tasting fees and donating them to Napa Humane. For updates on the wildfires and Napa Humane visit their Facebook page.

Barrel Oak Winery is located just off Interstate 66 and is easy to reach. To learn more about Barrel Oak Winery, check out our article and a blog.

Plan to visit Barrel Oak Winery in Delaplane, Virginia this weekend to help Napa Humane.


15th Annual Autumn Wine Festival

Layton’s Chance is participating in Annual Autumn Wine Festival

The 15th Annual Autumn Wine Festival takes place October 21 and 22 in Salisbury, Maryland. The festival will be open at the Pemberton Historical Park from 11am to 5pm each day. This special festival offers wine lovers unlimited wine samples, live music, vendors and a Sports Zone. A special is available for the first 150 wine lovers who will receive a limited edition stemless wine glass. This glass was produced to celebrate Wicomico County’s 150 Year Celebration.

This year the Autumn Wine Festival is partnering with Women Supporting Women. Visitors are encouraged to stop at the Women Supporting Women Pink Party Tent to particiapte in the fundraisers which include:

  • A creative Pin the Tail on the Donkey: $2 each try
  • Breast Friends (a photo cutout)
  • Paint A Pumpkin: $5 per pumpkin
  • Memory & In Honor Cards

Participating Maryland Wineries

Bodegas González Ruggiero
Bordeleau Vineyards & Winery
Broken Spoke Vineyard & Winery
Cove Point Winery
Far Eastern Shore Winery
Fridays Creek Winery
Great Shoals Winery
ilDolce Winery
Knob Hall Winery
Layton’s Chance Vineyard & Winery
Linganore Winecellars
Olney Winery
The Urban Winery

Live Music 

Chris English
The Haymans
Front Page News
Such Fools
Midnight Carnival
On The Edge

Sports Zone

Wall Hooky
Giant Jenga
Kan Jam
Ladder Toss
Bear Pong

In addition, the Autumn Wine Festival will feature numerous food vendors, craft and commercial vendors. You’ll want to take time to discover all that these vendors are offering while enjoying wine, live music and sports. Festival ticket information is available online.


Resilience Wine Reflects the Texan Spirit

Resilience Wine from Messina Hof Winery & Resort (photo by Messina Hof)

Messina Hof Winery & Resort in Bryan,Texas just released a special wine of which 100% of the profits will go to helping those devastated by Hurricane Harvey. The wine’s name Resilience reflects the attitude and work of Texans during times of trouble. The Resilience website page says: “The devastation of Hurricane Harvey was shocking and terrifying, but Texans are strong and resilient. We get up when we are knocked down and we stand together when we are threatened. All Texans are united in the effort to rebuild what was lost and help those that are in need.”

Messina Hof’s Resilience wine was produced with a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Malbec. Currently 600 cases are available, which is expected to raise near $50,000. Resilience is available at the Messina Hof winery locations, online and in some stores in Texas.

The money raised will be donated to organizations such as Feeding Texas.

The press release from Messina Hof offers a quote by the CEO. “By happenstance, the evening Harvey blew in, we were harvesting our Lenoir grapes at the Messina Hof Hill Country Vineyard. While a memorably turbulent harvest weekend, we couldn’t have imagined what some of our fellow Texans would endure,” said Messina Hof’s Chief Executive Officer Paul Mitchell Bonarrigo. He continued, “We feel incredibly blessed to be largely unaffected by the storm and recognize the long road ahead for many of our friends, family, business partners and customers. We intend do our part and hope that we can lend a hand through this product release.”

We visited the main location of Messina Hof Winery & Resort in Bryan and experienced a delightful time. The main location offers a full restaurant, a villa and more. We also enjoyed visiting their second location in Fredericksburg, Texas where several cabins are available for lodging. Wine Trail Traveler has two articles about these winery locations: Bryan, Texas and Fredericksburg, Texas.


The Glorious Bites Challenge Continues!

Gloria Ferrer Brut and Glorious Bites Challenge

Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards recently announced the 12 creative cooks who will vie for a semi-finalist position in the 2017 Glorious Bites Challenge. These selected chefs/cooks will compete in one of three locations. The semi-finalist selections are scheduled to take place in Boston, Minneapolis and Denver. One winner at each location will compete in the Glorious Bites Challenge Finals which takes place October 14 in Sonoma , California.

Tickets for the finale on October 14 are available online.

The challengers recipes for the semi-finals are:

Boston Semi-Final Recipes

  • Glorious Apple Pizza with Hot Honey Drizzle
  • Lobster Corn Chowdah Cakes (ebelskivers) with Sriracha Aioli
  • Smoky Spanish Paprika-Dusted Sea Scallops Seared in Duck Fat, with Silky Saffron-Ginger Aioli, on Salty, Sweet Potato Chips
  • Coconut Orange Crab Jalapeno Poppers with Spicy Orange Dipping Sauce

Minneapolis Semi-Final Recipes

  • Smoked Trout Waffles with Dilled Cucumber Slaw
  • Fajita Veggie Quinoa Cups with Cotija and Avocado Cream
  • Spicy Sausage and Cranberry Burrata Naan with Creamy Marmalade Feta and Tarragon
  • Sweet & Savory Harvest Pizzette

Denver Semi-Final Recipes

  • Smokey Fondue Bites with Shallot & Cherrywood Bacon Jam
  • Chevre Dumplings
  • Cold-smoked salmon with preserved lemon, mustard dill sauce and pumpernickel crumbs
  • Tandoori Shrimp Falafel with Lemony Mint Yogurt Sauce and Pickled Red Onions

Did you know that Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards has collected more than 2,000 recipes since beginning the Glorious Bites Challenge. The recipes with photos are available online.


Champagne Jean Josselin

Near Gyé-sur-Seine, France the Josselin family first planted vineyards in 1854. A century later, Jean Josselin created his own brand, Champagne Jean Josselin. The vineyard soil is a clay/limestone mixture. Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay express themselves in the 14 parcels. The varietal grapes from each parcel are vinified separately.

The tasting began with a Blanc de Blancs Millésimé 2013. This champagne was composed of 100% Chardonnay. The light yellow colored sparkling wine had steady streams of tiny bubbles rising to the surface. The wine was discouraged in July 2017 and a dosage of 8 g/L of sugar was added. The resulting champagne offered apple and pear on the aroma, whereas the aroma had traces of apple, pear and freshly baked bread. The crisp finish had fruit and yeast hints. This champagne would make a wonderful and elegant aperitif.

Alliance was the second champagne tasted. Composed of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay, this wine had a pale yellow color. It was disgorged in February 2017 after spending 2 ½ years aging. The dosage was 8 g/L. There were steady streams of tiny bubbles in the glass. The champagne offered apple, pear and freshly baked bread on the aroma and taste. The finish was crisp and citrusy. Use this champagne as an aperitif or paired with lobster.

The third champagne was festive. The Audace was a rosé composed entirely of Pinot Noir. A percentages of the grapes were destemmed and soaked on the skins for two to three days to derive the color of the wine. After aging for four years, the champagne was disgorged in August of 2017 and had a dosage of 8 g/L. The wine had a red color with orange hue. There were several streams of tiny bubbles rising to the surface. The aroma was reminiscent of red berry fruits. The taste offered raspberries with a hint of strawberries. The finish was crisp and fruity. This champagne would make a wonderful aperitif especially during the holiday season. Pair it with salmon for lunches and dinners.

The champagnes were tasted at the APVSA
(Association Pour La Promotion Des Vins & Spiriteux En Amérique Du Nord) wine tasting in early September. Of the three champagnes, the Audace was my favorite. Perhaps it was the possibility of holiday entertainment that captured the spirit. However, it was delicious and would pair nicely with different foods.


Edetària: A Winery in D.O. Alta Terra

Edetària wine from estate grown vineyards

At the APVSA (Association Pour La Promotion Des Vins & Spiriteux En Amérique Du Nord) wine tasting in early September, I tasted wines from Edetària, a 4th generation estate property in Spain.

The Edetària winery was established in 2006 is located in a region southwest of Barcelona. The winery is owned by Joan Lliberia.  Edetària is located about 20 kilometers from the Mediterranean in the D.O. Terra Alta. Today the winery is producing 35,000 cases. All Edetària wines are produced with their own estate grown grapes.

The winery places an emphasis on the age of its vineyards. The Edetària vineyards vary in age from 20 to 90 years old. There are 60 hectares of vineyards and all vineyards are hand pruned and harvested.

During wine production Edetària uses various sizes of tanks. This allows the winery to keep the grape varieties and the terroirs separate emphasizing the effect of the variety and terroir on the individual wines. Eventually the separate barrels of wine may be blended.

Via Edetària White 2016 was produced with two grape varieties with white Grenache as the primary variety and Viognier. This wine was aged for four months. The wine was a brilliant yellow color with little aroma. The taste had notes of pear and mineral. The finish was crisp. The winery suggests pairing this wine with risottos, and  fish such as swordfish, salmon and grilled tuna.

The Edetària DO Terra Alta Selecció Blanc 2015 was produced with old vine white Grenache grapes. The grapes were from the 60 to 90 year old vineyards. The wine was a dark yellow color. The taste was full-bodied and smooth with notes of mineral and melon. The finish was long and crisp and mellow. Edetària suggests pairing this wine with fish soup, black rice, fish and cheese.

Also tasted was the Edetària – DO Terra Alta – Selecció Red – 2015  that was produced with Garnache and Garnatxa Fina and a small amount of Carignan. The wine was an opaque purple/red color with 14.5% alcohol. The taste was dry and included notes of earthiness and blackberry. The finish had bold tannins and blackberry. Edetària suggests pairing this wine with game and red meats, cheese, mushrooms and chocolate.

When you have access to wines from Edetària, be sure to let your tastebuds experience these wines in the D.O. Alta Terra.


Presenting to Sommeliers on the Oceania Insignia

Toscana Restaurant onboard the Oceania Insignia was set up for a wine tasting.

Since we wrote the first edition of our book Georgia, Sakartvelo: the Birthplace of Wine in 2014, we have made several presentations to interested wine enthusiasts. Most of these talks were in the Washington D.C./Baltimore region. Last week, though, we had an opportunity to present on the high seas. We were enjoying a wonderful cruise onboard the Oceania Insignia. The Insignia was at sea for a day making its way back to New York City from Portland, Maine. I  contacted the Concierge and asked if the sommeliers onboard the ship would like a presentation about the birthplace of wine. The Concierge contacted the Head Sommelier who was delighted to schedule us to present a talk about Georgia, Sakartvelo, a region known for its continuous winemaking for 8,000 vintages. The Head Sommelier wanted the soms to hear details about the wines of the country Georgia. He also thought they would enjoy the talk and decided to surprise them by announcing the talk the morning of the presentation.

Our presentation took place in the Toscana restaurant, one of the two speciality restaurants on the Insignia. The front part of the restaurant was already set up for an afternoon wine tasting. We used a few tables from that presentation. As a part of this talk, I like the attendees to taste Georgian appellation wines, in this case, a Tsinandali and a Mukuzani. The Tsinandali was a blend of mostly Rkatsiteli and some Mtsvane from the Tsinandali region of Eastern Georgia. Whereas the Mukuzani was made entirely of Saperavi from the Mukuzani region of Eastern Georgia. These wines are a great introduction to some of the Georgian grape varieties.

Terry presenting to the Sommeliers onboard the Oceania Insignia

No presentation about the birthplace of wine would be complete without a tasting of qvevri wine. Qvevri winemaking is the only winemaking protocol on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. While in Georgia during the spring of 2014, we bought and returned home with a 24-liter qvevri. After preparing the qvevri, it was buried in our yard. We have been making wine in it ever since. Our 2016 Qvevri Vidal Blanc was tasted during the presentation. White wines made in qvevri take some getting use to, unless you enjoy tannins. Our 2016 qvevri Vidal was fermented on the skins. In addition it was aged on the skins for six months. The sommeliers did not seem to mind tasting the qvevri Vidal. They all appeared to enjoy the talk and several purchased our book. A few of the group hailed from Bulgaria, Ukraine  and Russia and were familiar with Georgian wines. One sommelier from Bulgaria greeted us after the talk and strongly encouraged us to visit Bulgaria to learn more about Bulgaria’s wine culture. Bulgaria is now on our bucket list to visit.

Some of the Sommeliers bought our book Georgia, Sakartvelo: the Birthplace of Wine.

We enjoy presenting about wine. The Birthplace of Wine is one of my favorite presentations, because most wine enthusiasts do not know about Georgian wines including their appellation wines and qvevri wines. Presenting onboard a ship was special and presenting to sommeliers just enhanced the experience.

If you are interested in hosting a wine presentation to friends and family, check out our teach and taste page.


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