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Take A Trolley Ride to North Carolina Wineries

North Carolina has numerous wineries both boutique size and larger. Some are the “mom and pop” size where the owners are dabbling seriously in making their own wines and offering visitors a relaxing time. Other wineries are seriously into producing wine and making a big business out of it. In either of these cases, wine enthusiasts are likely to discover that the international grapes are grown in the west while many wineries in eastern North Carolina are growing and making wines with international grapes and muscadine grapes

In western North Carolina most of the wineries are small. However, a recent news item was about visiting a few wineries in July by trolley. Two organizations, The Trolley Company and the French Broad Vignernons, are working together to provide these opportunities.

Check the details and dates below. Tickets are available online.

Catawba Valley Wine Trail

  • Includes four wineries: Lake James Cellars, South Creek Winery, Silver Fork Winery, Belle Nicho Winery
  • Five tastings at each winery
  • Silver Fork Winery will include a cheese service

Dates: July 16, July 24, July 31

The Elevations Wine Trail

  • Includes three wineries: Burntshirt Vineyards, Parker-Binns Vineyards, Mountain Brook Vineyards
  • Experience major altitude changes
  • Five tastings at each winery
  • Parker-Binns Vineyard will provide a cheese service

Dates: July 15, July 23, July 29

The Gourmet Wine Trail

  • Includes: Three vineyard visits: St Paul Mountain Vineyards, Addison Farms Vineyard, Fontaine Vineyards
  • Five tastings at each winery
  • St Paul Mountain Vineyards will serve a hard cider
  • Addison Farms Vineyard will provide a cheese service

Dates: July 17, July 22, July 30

If you are planning to visit  North Carolina in July, try taking a trolley trip to wineries! Sounds like fun to me! Also check out the numerous articles about wineries in North Carolina here.


A Most Unusual Wine Festival in Virginia Supports Animal Charity

peaksofotter1The 11th Annual Horse and Hound Wine Festival takes place next Saturday, July 11.

We first heard of the Annual Horse and Hound Wine Festival when we visited Peaks of Otter Winery & Orchards in Virginia. The winery is located in the mountainous region close to areas that were once home to numerous stills. Today Peaks of Otter Winery & Orchards is known for producing fun wines. You will hear tales of a very “hot” pepper wine available at the winery. Find out more about the winery in the article on Wine Trail Traveler.

The 11th Annual Horse and Hound Festival takes place at Johnson’s Orchards & Peaks of Otter Winery, 2122 Sheep Creek Rd, Bedford,Virginia.

Music for the festival is provided by Sam Austin and Silverline.

In addition to food and craft vendors, the festival includes:

Patriotic Opening at 12 Noon
Lure Coursing (This is a humane re-creation  of the chase of the hare by a hound. According to the website information, The “bunny” consists of strips of white plastic attached to a continuous loop line that runs through a series of pulleys to simulate the zigzag path of a rabbit on the run.”
Muskrat Races: This event uses an artificial lure.
Parade of Horses: by Reba Farm Inn and Saddle Soar Equitainment

Kiddie Korral: Activities for children supervised by Brook Hill Farm Rehabilitation and Rescue.

Part of the proceeds will benefit horses and dogs 501-3c organizations. More information is available on the website http://www.bedfordwine.com. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

Peaks of Otter wines

Peaks of Otter wine

Try Ficiligno for the July 4th Weekend!

Ficiligno 2014 from Sicilia

Ficiligno 2014 from Sicilia

The Ficiligno 2014  is from the DOC Sicilia and produced by Baglio De Pianetto. The name was chosen for the local siliceous rocks in Pianetto in Santa Cristina Gela. This delicious wine was produced with the unusual grape variety Insolia and the international grape Viognier. The pale yellow wine with a light green hue has 13% alcohol. The wine offered an aroma filled with white peaches and floral scents. The taste was of yellow stone fruit predominantly white peaches. The finish was crisp and there were hints of chalk on the aftertaste. Consider this wine to be “summer in a glass.” For a novelty, add a frozen peach slice to keep it cold.

The Insolia grape variety is indigenous to Italy and can be found in both Sicilia and Tuscano. According to Jancis Robinson’s Wine Grapes, the Insolia variety has been dated back to the 1600s.

History of Baglio De Pianetto

In 1977 Count Paolo Marzotto was inspired to create Baglio Di Pianetto located just outside Santa Cristina Gela, a Sicilian village. According to their website, his dream was “to produce wines that combine the character of Sicily and the elegance  of  France.”   Since that time he and Countess Florence Marzotto have worked to showcase what the Sicilian terroir has to offer. Today the second and third Marzotto generations are involved with the winery.


The Pianetto vineyards consist of about 65 hectares (161 acres) of grapevines. Grape varieties include: Insolia, Catarratto, Viognier, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon. There are also three hectares of olive trees. During the summer, the vineyard is green harvested. Grape harvest takes place by hand.

The Baroni vineyards are in Noto and have 39 hectares (96 acres) of vineyards. Grape varieties include:  Moscato, Nero d’Avola, Frappato and Syrah. This property also has three hectares of olive groves.

The vineyards in both regions are farmed with organic farming practices.

Wine Tourism

Visitors to Sicilia will want to visit Baglio Di Pianetto for a guided tour and wine tasting. Local foods may also be featured with the wines. Be sure to contact the winery for an appointment.


Two Cocktails Named for the 4th of July

Are you looking for a cocktail to celebrate on July 4? Below are two recipes that arrived in my mail this week. The names are cool, especially for the 4th of July. How about enjoying a  Firecracker Red Manhattan or a Miss Independence?

While you enjoy yourself this weekend in celebration of patriotism, remember everyone will appreciate if you drink in moderation and don’t drink and drive.

Have a wonderful and glorious 4th of July weekend!



Firecracker Red

Firecracker Red




Recipe for Firecracker Red Manhattan




2 oz. DeLeón Reposado
½ oz. Cardinal Mendoza Spanish Brandy
¼ oz. Tempus Fugit Creme de Cacao
½ dropper Bittermans Hellfire Shrub


Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass over cracked and cubed ice until thoroughly cold. Strain into a chilled coupe and serve up.

Recipe for Miss Independence

Miss Independence

Miss Independence


2 oz. DeLeón Platinum infused with fresh sage  ¾  oz. clarified lime juice
¾  oz. fresh cane syrup


Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass over cracked and cubed ice until thoroughly cold. Strain into a chilled coupe and serve up garnished with a sage leaf.


Vigna di Pettineo Nero d’Avola

We received two wines from Sicilia to try for the upcoming Independence Day celebrations. Since I was grilling hamburgers today, I decided to open the Vigna di Pettineo Nero d’Avola. This 2012 red wine was made entirely with Nero d’Avola grapes grown in organic vineyards. The vineyards are located in Vittoria, in the south eastern part of Sicilia less than ten miles from the Mediterranean Sea. The vineyards are mostly comprised of red sand and the vineyard is over 20 years old.

imageVigna di Pettineo is a family run winery. The winemaker, Massimo Maggio wants to craft wines that express the terroir of the land, a land that has cultivated vineyards for centuries. The 20 hectares of vineyards are planted with Nero d’Avola and Frappato with vines trellised on the alberate system. Different organic principles are practiced in the vineyards including biodiversity, grass, charcoal, reuse of rainwater and electricity from renewable resources.

Planting of grass provides a defense against erosion and offers an area for microorganisms. Also planted for each hectare of vineyards, there are 80 meters of flowering bushes that attract a diverse number of insects and birds. The vineyards are surrounded by dry-stone walls that provide habitats for reptiles. In the vineyard tare are different legumes used for green manure and even charcoal is used to help maintain humidity in the soil. All these vineyard practices along with collecting and reusing rainwater and the use of solar panels helps Vigna di Pettineo to be a sustainable vineyard and winery.

The Nero d’Avola grape is the most widely planted red grape on the island of Sicilia. Its origins date to the end of the 17th century. In the past, the grape was blended with other grapes most often to add color to a wine. Now it is often made into a varietal wine. The grape can also be found on Malta and in Turkey. There are small plantings of the grape in Australia and California.

The 2012 Vigna di Pettineo Nero d’Avola was a dark, red, barely translucent color. The aroma offered dark fruits including plums and blackberries. The taste was plums, blackberries and some earthy notes. The finish was fruity with a long aftertaste. The wine had a very smooth mouthfeel and was light to medium bodied. It will pair well with grilled beef, poultry and evan a grilled salmon. The wine is 13.5% alcohol and light enough for you to offer a red wine for the sizzling 4th of July. The average retail price in the United States is $20.

Sangrias Are the Perfect Answer for a Hot July 4th Beverage!

Yesterday I came across an article about special cocktails made with wine. With Dcanter’s permission I am adding them to Wine Trail Traveler. The first one I am posting is for Peach Sangria. After this recipe I’ve added links to a few other Sangria recipes we have added to the website over the past few years. Check them all out and make a Sangria for your 4th of July celebration!

White Peach Sangria


(Makes eight servings)

4 white peaches, sliced (pit removed)
½ cup of sugar
2 bottles of chilled dry white wine
¼ cup dry vermouth
¼ cup triple sec
Mint for garnish


  1. Slice the white peaches into segments and remove the pit.  Place the sliced peaches into a bowl.
  2. Cover and massage the peaches with sugar.  Place the bowl in the refrigerator and let sugar and peaches sit for about two hours to allow the peach juice to release and sugar to soak into the peaches.
  3. When ready to serve, pour the two bottles of chilled dry white wine in a large pitcher.  Add the dry vermouth and triple sec.  Stir the liquid.  Add the white peaches soaked with sugar along with any juice that has been released while soaking.

To serve: Use a small glass tumbler or a white wineglass. Fill the glass with the sangria liquid.  Add in a couple of the peach segments and top off with sprigs of mint for garnish.  Savor and enjoy.

Recipe provided by Dcanter-A Wine Boutique, in Washington, DC.DCanter – A Wine Boutique


545 8th Street SE
Washington, DC  20003

Also check out the Sangria recipes below for your summertime enjoyment. If you browse through these recipes, you will discover there are many ways to create a delicious sangria. Over the summer, try making different ones and let me know which one is your favorite.

Pickering Winery Sangria
Sangria (Carlson Vineyards)
Viognier Sangria
Chumeia’s Merlot Sangria
Texas Legato Sangria
Savoy-Lee Sangriasavoylee6
Narmada’s Midnight Sangria

Hint: Wine tastes best in moderation!


Returning from Cava Country

063015aKathy and I spent the last week of May and the first couple weeks of June in Catalonia, visiting cava producers and judging this year’s 50 Great Cavas. We were able to also visit three producers in Requena, in the Valencia Provence. Our trip was work related. We did not go site seeing although we had a wonderful lunch in a small town along the Mediterranean Sea.

When we weren’t visiting wineries or tasting cavas, we were writing. This year we are co-authoring the print book 50 Great Cavas. The writing began two weeks prior to our flight to Spain. It continued once we arrived back in Maryland. The two of us spent seven weeks writing our assigned chapters including 28 winery articles for the chapter about the producers.

Visiting cava producers, we met some passionate winemakers and owners who are determined to produce quality cavas. As we discovered elsewhere in the world, winery owners and winemakers have unique stories that differentiate them from each other. Some of the producers recently started while others had families that were in the wine business for centuries. Some of the wineries we visited were boutique while others produced large quantities. We ended with a nice mixture of new and old along with large and small.

This was our second trip to Catalonia and cava producers. We visited the area last October on a media tour. Our recent trip was more intense, in part due to the writing and trying to meet a deadline. We hope to have the book published by autumn in time for holiday sales.

If you have the opportunity to visit Catalonia or Valencia, be sure to include visits to some of the wineries. From our experiences, the large majority of wineries want visitors to make reservations in advance. Most of the wineries we visited have websites with contact information and details about tourism.

The International Wine Tourism Conference will take place in Barcelona April 5th and 6th, 2016. This will be the second straight conference to take place in a sparkling wine region. The 2015 conference was in Reims, France in the Champagne wine region. There will be a fare amount of cava information in the press for the next year. If you have not tried a cava, search it out at your local wine store. Most cavas are a great value.

Visit Your Favorite Winery for July 4th Wine!

Vineyards at Chateau Chantal

Vineyards at Chateau Chantal

Are you looking for an ideal way to celebrate the 4th of July? Look no further than the wineries in your own backyard. Below are a few suggestions for celebrating July 4th. If you are planning to cook for the holiday, check out the Wine Trail Traveler recipe section. Food, friends, family and wine are a delightful way to celebrate this patriotic holiday.



Friday, July 3

Chateau Chantal, Traverse City, Michigan
Event: Wine and Food Pairing Tours! Make reservations.
Event: Wine Dinner! 

Website Information

Pearmund Cellars, Broad Run, VA
Event: 1st Friday in Old Town Warrenton!
Website Information 

Texas Legato, Texas
Event: Texas Wine Down
Website Information 

Saturday, July 4

Chateau Chantal, Traverse City, Michigan
Event: Wine and Food Pairing Tours! Make reservations.
Event: Wine Dinner! 
Website Information

Grand River Cellars, Madison, Ohio
Event: Vineyard Carriage Rides

Website Information

Pearmund Cellars, Broad Run, Virginia
Event: Corn-Hole Tournament & More
Event: Local BBQ entree plates
Website Information 

Sunday, July 5

Chateau Chantal, Traverse City, Michigan
Event: Wine and Food Pairing Tours! Make reservations.
Website Information

Pearmund Cellars, Broad Run, Virginia
Event: Local BBQ entree plates
Website Information

Suggestions: Enjoy a glass of wine paired with food. Wine tastes best in moderation!


Bronx Grape Variety: A Difficult Grape Variety and Wine to Find

Phsys Thor Dulce

Pago Tharsys Dulce, 100% Bronx grape variety

While visiting the Valencia province in Spain, we discovered a grape variety which seems to be quite rare. This was a bit surprising since the grape was actually developed on the East Coast of the United States at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station.

The Bronx grape is used for winemaking but it is not a traditional winemaking grape. In fact, the grape is a cross of NY 8536 (Goff x Iona) x Sultanina. In the US, Sultanina is also known as Thompson Seedless.

Normally Bronx grapes are used as table grapes and raisins. As we discovered, Bronx grapes have also been used to produce a sweet white wine.

It was on a visit and stay at  Pago de Tharsys as we talked with owner and winemaker Vicente Garcia, that we tasted the Dulce wine.  We wrote, “The Dulce was a sweet wine made with the Bronx grape. It was a bright yellow color. The wine offered tropical fruits and jammy fruits on the aroma. The taste was like honey and fruit jams. Although sweet, the wine was balanced and the acidity helped to cut the sweetness.” The winery suggests pairing Dulce with different cheeses including creamy cheeses and blue cheese, desserts and chocolate.

History of the Bronx grape variety

According to the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station website, the Bronx grape was first developed in 1925. It was not until 1937 that the grape was named Bronx Seedless.

The grape was developed as part of a program to develop seedless grapes in 1919. The program was designed as a cooperative venture between the New York Botanical Gardens and the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Cornell University.

Information about the Bronx grape variety is rather limited, but finding the Bronx wine and fresh grapes are even more difficult to find.

If you visit the historic city of Requena between Valencia and Madrid, Spain, stop at Pago Tharsys to taste the wine. They also have an assortment of other quality wines. You may even want to stay for an evening or two in their delightful rustic lodging.

Please contact me if you know where the Bronx grape or wine can be found.



IWINETC Offers Sponsor Opportunities

Sponsors are highlighted at IWINETC

Sponsors are highlighted at IWINETC

Plan to have your wine or tourism business represented at the International Wine Tourism Conference in 2016.

Have you attended the International Wine Tourism Conference? This event is also known by the acronym IWINETC.  The conference can take place in any country. IWINETC’s most recent  conference was in Reims, France an area where so many elegant and delicious champagnes are produced.

In 2016 the conference will be in the beautiful area of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. IWINETC is scheduled for April 5 and 6 and a workshop takes place April 7.

Over two days, the conference offers many seminars to attend. This conference is important for the wine industry, tourism companies and CVBs, exporters and importers. IWINETC provides an opportunity for any company to sponsor and showcase their specialty.

At every conference I have attended, sponsors can offer materials that highlight their business. They can have an advertisement place on the IWINETC website. Discover what a sponsorship can do for your tourism, travel and wine business.

Be sure to check out the IWINETC. Registration for IWINETC begins soon.

If your business is related to the wine and tourism industry, you should consider being a sponsor at the 2016 International Wine Tourism Conference in Barcelona.

Visit the IWINETC website to learn more. Contact the organizer Anthony Swift at info@winepleasures.com.


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