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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.


Howard County, Maryland Okays First Farm Winery

Vineyards at Sugar Loaf Mountain, Maryland

Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard, Maryland

In a Baltimore Sun article, “Howard’s first farm winery gains approval” by Amanda Yeager, I was surprised and happy to learn Howard County has approved its first Class 2 farm winery.  Howard has been the last county in Maryland to become winery friendly.

For longer than I like to think about it, Howard County, Maryland has been adverse to anyone who wanted to start a commercial winery. About three years ago, I attended a county meeting that was contemplating allowing wineries in the county to open. Several people in attendance spoke negatively using the stereotypical comments that have been proven time and again incorrect. Others spoke in favor of allowing wineries but the anti-wine and anti-development critics seemed to win by fear mongering. The only type of winemaking in the county that has been allowed has been a winemaking teaching facility not allowed to sell wines.

Galloping Goose

Galloping Goose Vineyards, Maryland

There are many benefits to locating wineries and vineyards in any region. Wineries and vineyards offer employment opportunities, support agritourism and add to the economy of the region. In addition, visitors to wineries will frequently need gas, food and lodging. Many winery facilities are architectural delights while others are small, simplistic buildings. Usually the landscaping around the wineries is well done. When the winery has vineyards, the vineyards are a sea of green during the growing season. During the winter vineyards offer numerous photo opportunities.

Congratulations to Howard County for recognizing the value of wineries and vineyards and approving its first Class 2 Farm winery. It will be interesting to watch the development of wineries and vineyards in the county.


Roundup of Catalonia-style Food and Cavas

50 Great Cavas Media Tour

50 Great Cavas Media Tour

We recently returned from Catalonia, a region of Spain where we discovered fine foods, cavas and still wines. Along the way we posted 11 Wine Trail Traveler blogs featuring the wines and foods easy to discover in this Mediterranean region. We could not have asked for better food, better cavas or better weather.

Did you miss the Catalonia and cava blogs we wrote? Below is a complete list with links.

When you have an opportunity enjoy cavas and even better try to visit the Catalonia region to enjoy a first hand experience.


An appetizer at Mas Codina

An appetizer at Mas Codina

Cava: A Must Have?
The Search for Cava Begins
Our Search for Cava Continues
Discovering a Local Bar in Barcelona
Priorat Rocks
A Qvevri or Something Else?


Returning Home from Cava to Champagne

101514aAfter discovering cava for two weeks it was time to leave Barcelona and return home. Our flight home was less direct than our flight from Baltimore to Barcelona via JFK. To go home we had to fly from Barcelona to Paris then onto Detroit, then onto Baltimore. This was not a very direct flight. The first leg of the journey was delayed in Barcelona which meant racing through Charles DeGaul Airport in Paris to make our connecting flight on time. We made it with only minutes to spare. Our first two legs was with Air France, so I naturally asked for champagne once we were at cruising altitude.

In economy, Air France was serving Champagne Pannier Selection Brut. The yellow color champagne offered some yeast notes similar to freshly baked bread. There were also apple notes and a small persistent stream of bubbles. The sparkling wine was crisp with 12% alcohol. The wine was a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier

Once home, I decided to do some research on the price of this champagne. I was surprised to see the average price was $38. I thought that was rather high for a wine with a score of 84/100. The price also reaffirmed my desire for cava. The cavas we tasted in the Penedés Alt region of Catalonia were every bit as pleasing at only a third of the cost. We tasted several of the cavas on the 2014 list of 50 Great Cavas. Of those a number were less than 10€ (less than $13) while others were less than 15€ (less than $20).


Cava Tasting to Help Obra Social San Juan de Dios

IMG_3827Tomorrow we will be heading home after a delightful visit to wineries in the Catalonia region of Spain. The weather has been delightful with bright sunshine every day. Perhaps it is because we brought two umbrellas with us just in case of rain!

Unfortunately we are returning home just a few days before a charity wine event that benefits Obra Social San Juan de Dios.

On October 17 at the Hotel Hilton Diagonal Mar, the hotel will host a charity cava tasting. The organizers expect about 150 people to attend making this one of the largest charity wine tasting events in Barcelona. The wines for the event will be the Vinari Awards 2014 winners. The event will include a multi-sensory tasting session with music and cava. Two tasting sessions will be held in English. We spent two days at this hotel and had a great experience. Our room, on the top floor, had spectacular views of Barcelona and the sea.

Obra Social San Juan de Dios

According to their website, the organization works “to improve the quality of life of vulnerable people, seeking the complicity of people, organizations, companies and institutions.” Specifically they work with the homeless, those with mental health issues, intellectual disabilities, hospitalized children and much more. Be sure to check out the Obra Social San Juan de Dios website.

The above charity event is part of this week’s October 25 Grand Luxe and 4-star hotels wine tastings with Catalonia DO wines. The Barcelona Hotels Association and the Catalan Institute of Vine and Wine have worked together to create this event promoting the Cavas produced in the Catalan region of Spain.

If by any chance you are visiting Barcelona this week, do try to attend one of these special wine tastings and discover some wonderful cavas.

Cheers! Kathy

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