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Halloween, Wine and Ghost Stories

Halloween is celebrated in the US, not so much in the Piedmont region of Italy. On the other hand, several castles in the Piedmont region offer some scary tales to tell.

In Virginia, Pearmund Cellars is offering some Halloween fun.

Stop by for a SPELL on Halloween Weekend. (Friday & Saturday)
Pick your poison, red or white.
Don’t forget to dress up to give a fright!

Halloween candy and wine pairing is an additional $2.

Cast your vote for the best employee costume. Attend in your scariest attire for a chance to win Chris’ Witches Brew – a bottle of delicious Pearmund Cellars wine.

While visiting Pearmund Cellars be sure to ask about The Beast Feast, an adventurous pairing of beast and wine that takes place November 15.

 Piedmont, Italy

In an article by Diana Zahuranec,  In Piemonte (Piedmont), Every Castle has Its Ghost she writes that in Italy Halloween is not widely celebrated. She goes on to write, “And yet, around the same time the grape harvest and truffle festivals are in high form, trailing tendrils of mist wrap around grapevines and shroud castles hundreds of years old, setting the perfect spooky mood.”

The article looks at several castles accompanied by photos and ghost stories. These stories might be perfect for reading on a dark, gloomy Halloween night. By the way, she suggests having a glass of hot mulled wine on hand “to calm your shaking nerves.”

The Piedmont region of Italy where these castles are located is home to numerous DOCG and DOC wines.

The main red grape varieties  growing in the Piemonte region include: Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto. Other reds include Brachette, Freisa, Bonarda, Grignolino, Pelaverga, Vespolina, and Malvasia di Casorzo. White grape varieties include: Moscato Bianco, Cortese, Arneis, Erbaluce and Favorita

The region also offers grape varieties more familiar to most of the US population. These include: Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Trebbiano, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Sangiovese, Syrah and Tannat.

I recently checked the website for our local Total Wine shop and found more than 100 wines from the Piedmont region available with a wide range of prices.

Cheers! Kathy

Urban Wineries


The Infinite Monkey Theorem

The Infinite Monkey Theorem

Yesterday, a Colorado news station (9news.com) featured an article “Denver has one of 10 Best Urban Wineries in US.”

The concept of urban wineries has been around for a while but the number of urban wineries is increasing. According to the AAWE paper, “The Global Urban Winery Crush, Model, Forecast and Prospect” by Wilson T. VornDick there are more than 200  wineries.

Last year we discovered that some of the wineries in the Willamette Valley are opening urban wineries in Portland because they want to bring the wine to the people. Anyone who has driven from Portland to wineries in the Willamette Valley realize that the roads are not ideal. Urban sprawl seems to have slowed the traffic down with stoplights and it can take awhile to travel.

Visiting wineries among the vineyards provides visitors and wine lovers with a remembered experience. Connecting wine with the experience may well get wine lovers to continue to search for those wines at home.

However, urban wineries without the vineyards can create a different but great experience for wine enthusiasts. Location is important as it makes it much easier for consumers to purchase wine anytime.

On the list of 10 best urban wineries, we have visited Eight Bells Winery in Seattle and The Infinite Monkey Theorem in Denver.

The list also includes New York Wine & Culinary Center. We have visited the center but do not consider it an urban winery. However, it does offer wonderful tastings, a restaurant and also focuses on the agricultural products of New York State.

Many areas of the country have urban wineries. We have visited many urban wineries around the country. Usually we enjoyed the ambiance of the  winery that might include local foods, local art and lovely wines.

Below are links to some of the urban wineries we visited.

Davenport Cellars

Davenport Cellars is in a business complex with many other types of businesses as well as thirty other wineries. Davenport Cellars’ design of their interior is unique. Upon entering this sparkling clean tasting room one is immediately aware of the spacious high walls. Light is filtered into the room through the front window blinds.

Enso Winery

Enso Winery is located in a residential/urban neighborhood of Portland. The winery is within walking distance of many vintage homes. On our visit to Enso we noted tables and chairs where people could lounge and enjoy a glass of wine with available food options.

Hip Chicks Do Wine

Hip Chicks Do Wine is a winery located in a warehouse area of Portland.

Pentamere Winery

Pentamere Winery is a “boutique urban winery” located in the small and friendly town of Tecumseh, Michigan. Pentamere is a combination of Latin and French meaning Five Lakes.

Watch for urban wineries opening in your region.

Cheers, Kathy



Charity Fine Wine Auction in Hawke’s Bay

Sileni Estates in Hawke's Bay, NZ

Sileni Estates in Hawke’s Bay, NZ


Temata Estates, Hawke's Bay

Temata Estates, Hawke’s Bay

On November 8, the wineries of Hawke’s Bay are hosting a Fine Wine Auction for charity. The funds will be donated to Cranford Hospice, a palliative care facility.

The wine auction takes place at Hawke’s Bay Racing Club at 2:30pm. From 2:30 to 4:45 attendees will be tasting auction lot wines. The auction begins at 5pm in the Auction Hall.

This year 41 lots will be up for auction. Most of the wine lots will be the 2013 vintage. Lots other than wine will also be auctioned off. An oil painting on canvas, “Te Mata 2014”  by painter Freeman White will be auctioned. Also included in the auction is a seven nights’ stay at The Reef House Vanuatu. Clearview  Estate Winery is offering an 8-person degustation event.

To find out more about the Hawke’s Bay Charity Wine Auction visit the website.

In 2010 we visited New Zealand wineries. We have very fond memories of New Zealand from Auckland to Christ’s Church. One of our stops was in Hawke’s Bay which is well known for its wineries and wines. Hawke’s Bay is also where I walked at the edge of the bay and ended up getting soaking wet. It was wonderful and an experience I’ll never forget.

We visited several of the wineries participating in the Hawke’s Bay Charity Auction. If you would like to read more about these wineries, click the link.

Mission Estate Winery
Sileni Estates
Te Mata Estate
Vidal Estates
Gimblett Gravels

Traveling from the East of the US to New Zealand takes many numerous hours. In 2010 we flew from the East Coast to San Francisco and then on to Auckland. Would we do it again? Sure we would if we had the opportunity.



Champagne Day Experiment and Food Pairing

102414aToday is #ChampagneDay, a day dedicated to the producers and champagne from the Champagne wine region of France. We decided to celebrate the day with a Champagne Jean-Claude Mouzon Brut. Earlier I wrote a blog about different wine glasses for sparkling wines. What is better, a flute, white wine glass or a coupe. As I poured the champagne I grabbed some flutes and a white wine glass. I poured champagne in both a flute and white wine glass to observe the differences. Kathy brought two bowls of different potato chips and a tray of black olives and green olives to pair with the champagne.

Flute vs White Wine Glass

The flute appeared to have more bubbles than the white wine glass. There was constant steady streams of bubbles in the flute for over thirty minutes. The white wine glass also had a stream of bubbles but not as many as were observed in the flute. There were still many bubbles in the flute after 30 minutes while fewer in the white wine glass after 30 minutes. The aroma of the champagne in the flute was predominantly yeast like freshly baked bread. The white wine glass had more nuances of aroma including apple, citrus and freshly baked bread but it was more in the background. Initially there was multiple tastes from the white wine glass; however, after thirty minutes they were similar. In conclusion, if you are tasting the champagne, a white wine glass may be better. Tastings are very short on time. If you are drinking the champagne, you may enjoy the champagne in the flute more

Potato Chips and Olives

All the foods were high in salt. The champagne cut right through the salt and removed it from lingering in the mouth. The saltier green olives and Lays potato chips had the biggest difference after the champagne. Champagne is a great food companion that matches with may different food items.


A Wine Journey: An Ideal Holiday Gift

"A Wine Journey"

A Wine Journey

With the holidays approaching have you started your holiday shopping yet? If you are shopping for a wine lover or a winemaking enthusiast, give a gift of the wine book. A Wine Journey is available on the Wine Trail Traveler website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, and Infinity Publishing. If you purchase directly from Wine Trail Traveler, we can autograph the book to make it an extra special gift.

A Wine Journey reviews include:

It is fascinating to read about the Sullivans’ journey as they experience many aspects of wine. From the very beginning stages of wine education, to learning to make wine, to visiting a myriad of wineries… it is enjoyable and educational! Thanks for letting me come along! (Amazon review)

I loved this book because it made me realize that I can learn a lot about wine on my own, and it also gave me lots of suggestions and ideas about how to go about developing my own wine journey. I think by next year I will be making my own wine! (Amazon review)

I love your book Kathy & Terry! Its a tough job reviewing wineries all over the world (from Twitter follower)

Good to know! they will make great xmas gifts (from Twitter follower)

“A Wine Journey is a delight.  Terry and Kathy take you on their intimate journey with wine and the craft of wine making.  A beautifully written account of a dedicated and loving couple who desire for a true understanding of everything that goes into creating a perfect glass of wine.  More than just a book about wine, A Wine Journey is an inspirational memoir that is sure to create a movement of true wine enthusiasts looking for a deeper connection with a wine lifestyle.” –Sherrie Wilkolaski, author, IFWTWA Treasurer

“Terry and Kathy’s inspiring book unwinds the story of how their interest in wine tasting turns into a passion for learning about wine in all its aspects, including making it.  Readers will be treated to practical information about winemaking while following along on this fun and educational personal journey of discovery.  This book provides a great starting point for anyone interested in starting their own wine journey!” –Theresa Beaver, Viticulture and Enology Certificate Coordinator, Washington State University

“Terry and Kathy have brought us back to a style of writing about wine that is reminiscent of the original wine journals.” –Regina McCarthy, author 


Champagne Day, October 24, 2014

Frédérique pouring their champagne at Champagne Jean-Claude MOUZON in Verzenay

Frédérique pouring their champagne at Champagne Jean-Claude MOUZON in Verzenay

Friday, October 24th is Champagne Day. This is the fifth annual day that wine enthusiasts world-wide will open a bottle of champagne and enjoy with their food. The day is dedicated solely to champagne from the Champagne region in France. Cava, prosecco and sparkling wines do not count. Consumers need to buy the real champagne which is only produced in Champagne, France. Beware of bottle labels that use the word champagne and the wine is produced elsewhere in the world.

The Bureau du Champagne, USA is an organization in Washington DC that promotes the growers and wines of Champagne, France. One of the bureau’s goals is to inform the public about this wine region and the importance of terroir in this region. Another goal of the bureau is to protect the word “champagne” in the United States. US wineries are not permitted to have the word “champagne” on bottles of sparkling wine, although some were grandfathered in and still use the word although it is misleading consumers.

Next April, Champagne will host the annual International Wine Tourism Conference. The media team selected to attend the conference and familiarization tour will spotlight the region and champagnes in blogs and articles in both print and online media outlets.

It happens that I have a bottle of champagne that I purchased at Champagne Jean-Claude MOUZON in Verzenay last year. I enjoyed this small producer and the tour we had of his production house that is in his home. Winemaker, Cédric Lahemade is enthusiastic and passionate about the champagne he makes. I remember that he told us that one of the ways to have a champagne house in Champagne is to marry an owner’s daughter. Frédérique and Cédric are now the owners of Champagne Jean-Claude MOUZON and produce excellent champagnes.

Check out Twitter tomorrow and follow the hashtag #ChampagneDay.


Wine Just Off the Vine Event – Two Weekends in November

Each year the Mason-Dixon Wine Trail features two special wine events. The 2014 Wine Just Off the Vine event takes place November 8-9 and November 15-16. The second event, Tour de Tanks, is in March.

Tickets can be purchased online until October 27. However, the tickets will be mailed to you. The ticket includes a wine glass, wine tastings, light food, presentations by winemakers and 10% off purchases of wine at participating wineries. Tickets can also be purchased at the wineries.

The Mason-Dixon Wine Trail is a unique wine trail as it has wineries from two states participating in it. Almost two dozen wineries are members of the Wine Trail, many of which we have visited and written articles about.

Current Maryland and Pennsylvania winery members of the wine trail include:

Adams County Winery
Allegro Winery
Boordy Vineyards
DeJon Vineyard
Fiore Winery
Four Springs Winery
Harford Vineyard & Winery
Hauser Estate Winery
High Rock Winery
Logan’s View Winery
Moon Dancer Vineyards & Winery
Mount Hope Winery
Naylor Wine Cellars
Nissley Vineyards & Winery
Old Republic Distillery
Reid’s Orchard & Winery
Royal Rabbit Vineyards
Tamanend Winery
The Vineyard and Brewery at Hershey
The Vineyard at Grandview
Thistle Finch Distilling
West Hanover Winery
Wyndridge Farm

Halloween for Wine and Candy Lovers

pumpkinIMG_6628Have you considered pairing candy with wine? Usually this topic comes up when talking about chocolate pairings. Numerous wineries offer chocolate and wine pairings. What about all the different types of Halloween candy, whether you are thinking about Skittles, licorice or candy corn? Is it possible to pair wines with seasonal Halloween candies?

Yesterday, Kevin sent me a link to a unique and colorful chart. The Candy & Wine Matchmaker chart shows a variety of Halloween candy and wine pairings. The poster can be viewed at http://www.thekitchn.com/choose-the-perfect-wine-to-go-with-your-halloween-candy-food-news-211620.

An example from the chart is one of Halloween’s most known candies – candy corn. For candy corn wine matching the chart suggests:
1. A sweet wine like Gewürztraminer, Müller-Thugrau, Malvasia, Moscato, Riesling
2. Rich white wines like Chardonnay, Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier
3. Sparkling wines including Champagne, Prosecco, Cava or a Sparkling Rosé

What would you pair with your favorite Halloween candy?

Plan a Halloween Party for your adult friends

Halloween isn’t just for children! Why not host a fun Halloween party at your home. Be sure to decorate with orange and black crepe paper, wine glasses filled with Halloween candy. Hobby Lobby and Michaels are wonderful places to purchase seasonal items to include in your décor.

For fun add a Candy and Wine Pairing Tasting

If I were planning a candy and wine tasting for Halloween I would focus on a few of the many popular candies, being to sure to add candy corn.

Before beginning the candy and wine tasting, offer some other types of food probably tapas or pizza. Have coffee, tea, and/or water available.

Challenge each of your guests to write a haiku for each of the tastings. A typical haiku has three lines with 5 syllables on the first line, 7 syllables on the second line and 5 syllables on the third line.

Take time to enjoy a class of wine.


Does the Glass Matter?

In The Drinks Business’ post Wine Glass Best for Champagne, Says Pernod the notion of a flute and coupe is put to the challenge. Perhaps the best glass for sparkling wine is a white wine glass. This made me recall the glasses we used while in the Penedés Cava region of Catalonia and Barcelona a week ago.

We only had cava in a coupe once. We were wondering the streets of Barcelona and discovered Can Paixano, a crowded restaurant with standing room only. The restaurant serves cavas, sandwiches and tapas. We sampled two cavas, a brut nature and a demi-sec, both served in coupes to the very top. While in the Penedés wine region tasting some of the 50 Great Cavas, we did not have any cavas served in coupes. The cavas were either served in flutes or white wine glasses. This was about even with perhaps a slight edge to the flutes.

Coupes and flutes are used to serve cavas.

Coupes and flutes are used to serve cavas.

In the Penedés region of Catalonia, Spain, cavas are served in white wine glasses and flutes.

In the Penedés region of Catalonia, Spain, cavas are served in white wine glasses and flutes.


The article and our experience made me think that I should conduct some research to discover if the glasses do make a difference. At the moment, I have a nice stock of cavas, and have a couple coupes, several flutes and several white wine glasses. Some question that I am interesting in collecting data include:

Which glass keeps the bubbles longer?
Which glass keeps the cava the coldest for the longest period?
Which glass does a better job identifying the aromas?
Is the taste different between the glasses?

One thing about wine research is there is always an excitement in conducting it. I’ll let you know my findings.


Keeping Up with Our Home Winemaking

Adding must to the press

Adding must to the press

Since arriving back from our visit to the Catalonia region of Spain, where we visited with winemakers and cava producers, we have been busy with our own winemaking. Late last week we visited a company in Jessup, Maryland that sells wine grapes in 36-pound lugs and grape juice to home winemakers.

We were looking for a white grape variety that we could use in our recently buried qvevri. We finally settled for a Muscat grape, not exactly what we wanted but since it is getting late in the season it will do for our qvevri 2014 vintage. At the warehouse, it was suggested that we wait for the cold, refrigerated grapes to warm up a little – about 24 hours. We also needed to purchase the “correct” yeast as well as the clay to seal the top of the qvevri.

The day after purchasing the Muscat, we began hand destemming the grapes. The destemming for two lugs of grapes took two of us three hours to destem – much longer than what I originally thought it would take! As we destemmed we sorted the grapes into three groups: those that would go into the qvevri, those that we would press and those that we would use as raisins.

We crushed the grapes and added them to the sanitized qvevri, added yeast and then covered with a circular piece of Plexiglas with an airlock inserted. The Plexiglas is fastened to the qvevri with a moist clay coil. The cover needs to be removed two to three times a day for punch down until fermentation is completed. The must began to ferment the first day and a cap formed the second day.

This past weekend we went to Tin Lizzie Wineworks where we spent an hour pressing our Bordeaux blend into a French oak barrel which is now ready to have the wine racked off the gross lees.  While we were pressing the grapes we tasted a bit of the wine and it is definitely promising to be a great wine when it is finished and aged about two years.

After pressing our grapes we returned home with some leftover grape skins and seeds. Adding dissolved sugar water to the skins, we are attempting to make a “second run” wine. Two years ago we made a “second run” wine and we were very pleased. We hope this years “second run” wine will be as good. We discovered it’s a great way to make an affordable, everyday wine.

If you enjoy wine and want to learn more about it, I recommend making a carboy of wine at home. Check out our Wine Trail Traveler winemaking website.


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Copyright: Terry and Kathy Sullivan 2006-2013