Tuesday, 29. April 2008
Just the other night, I enjoyed a pomegranate wine with dinner. This is a bottle of wine I bought in 2007 while visiting Hinnant Family Vineyards. This 100% pomegranate wine is bottled in a clear bottle with a lovely label accented with gold and an artistic view of a pomegranate tree. Rather than having a red wine with a simple beef stew, I decided to experiment. The pomegranate wine, with 12% alcohol, had a very fruity aroma and was sweet but crisp. The beef stew had chunks of soft butternut squash and the wine brought out the sweetness of the butternut squash. Pomegranate wine is not commonly available at many wineries, but when you have a chance to taste it, give it a try.
Monday, 28. April 2008
Vintage Ridge is located in Rectortown, Virginia. The winery has an unusual building style. The large bright and cheerful room can easily be converted from a tasting room to a wine production room when necessary. While enjoying a tasting at one of the many tables, enjoy the sight of several tanks along one wall. On a second level several other tables are available for visitors. During the tasting, a plate of bite-size food is offered to encourage pairing wine with food. While visiting be sure to ask about the story of The Merry Maids.
Friday, 25. April 2008
Wine and food are meant to go together. The taste and acidity of each influences the other. So when you’re visiting a winery and tasting several wines, how do you know what that wine will really be like at home? Most wineries have some type of cracker available on the tasting bar. Visitors may find everything from oyster crackers to whole grain crackers. Crackers do help to neutralize the nuances of the wines but don’t help with pairings. However, if you have a good imagination, try to think of a food such as a sizzling steak off a hot grill and taste a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. That will help in the tasting.
The best idea we have seen at a few wineries, is where a small plate of different bite-size pieces of food are available. As you taste a wine, you can experiment with the foods to decide which wine goes best with which type of food. When you’re with a small group it’s fun to discuss the influence of the wines with the foods. Some of our best experiences with this concept have been at Vintage Ridge, VA, McGregor Vineyards, NY, Duck Pond Cellars, OR, and Quintessa, CA. Wineries who have the food option generally charge a small tasting fee, but I believe it is worth it.
Tuesday, 22. April 2008
Wine Trail Traveler spent several days in the Virginia countryside near Front Royal. Front Royal is known as being near an entrance to the Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive. While we did not get to the park, we did have beautiful views of the mountains and valleys from the six wineries we visited. The weather was perfect for our trip and this was one of our trips where the sun was frequently shining. Grape buds were swollen and bud break would occur soon. Five of the six wineries were open to the public. Barrel Oaky Winery will be open in a few short weeks and we saw workers working quickly, steadily and efficiently in order to be ready for the opening on May 23. Barrel Oak has installed a geothermal energy system and used argon e glass as steps towards a green environment. This winery has taken into account the difficulties winemakers face in wineries. As Brian Roeder said, “Form follows function.” Other wineries we visited included Linden, Three Fox, Miracle Valley, Chester Gap, and Vintage Ridge. Each winery has a different story and a different appeal. Check back later for insight about these wineries.
Sunday, 20. April 2008
On a recent visit to wineries along Route 66 in Virginia, we stopped for a late lunch at Applebee’s in Front Royal. This is a new-style Applebee’s, recently opened, and immediately one notices that it is open, bright and airy. Gone are the walls that divide areas. The restaurant was clean and modern looking. Glass cases displayed local artifacts, drawing attention to the neighborhood bar and grill branding of the Applebee’s chain. However, we were pleasantly surprised one display case that included bottles of local Virginia wines. Not only were Virginia wines on display, but also one can purchase Virginia wines by the glass or bottle. This is a different experience from other Applebee’s restaurants and many other chain restaurants that only offer a standard list of wines. It is great to see that Applebee’s in Front Royal is taking the “neighborhood” concept to heart by promoting local wines.
We mentioned our experience at a winery we visited and the first word uttered by the owners was, “We’re going to Applebee’s.” Perhaps other restaurants should model after the Front Royal Applebee’s and offer wines from their local wineries.
Wednesday, 16. April 2008
The news has recently reported that a Chardonnay from California will be served at the White House tonight in honor of Pope Benedict XVI’ 81st birthday. The chosen wine is from Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery. It is Sebastiani’s 2005 Dutton Ranch Chardonnay, aged in oak. Unfortunately, the Pope will not be able to attend the dinner but others will have the privilege of enjoying this wine. New World wines can definitely compete with Old World wines. This benefits the wine consumer as the quality of wines worldwide continue to increase in quality.
Happy Birthday Pope Benedict! I hope your trip to the United States is successful.
Wednesday, 16. April 2008
Grapes are influenced by the areas in which they grow, sometimes referred to as terroir. All of this takes on much more importance when you travel. When undertaking a journey, be sure to choose restaurants that serve local wines. Do you want to remember your journey to Virginia with California wines, your visit to Italy with French wines or you trip to Germany with English wines? Personally, I like to ask for a locally produced wine. Make your travels an adventure with food and wine that is unique to the area.
Friday, 11. April 2008
The April issue of Wine Trail Traveler’s newsletter is now online. You can check it out at http://www.winetrailtraveler.com/newsletter/newsletter.html. The newsletter contains information about Wine Trail Traveler’s visits to 15 wineries in Oregon and 4 in Washington. According to the local people, the weather was unusual with some days including a combination of rain, snow, sleet and sun. We enjoyed tasting the wide variety of wines which included varietals of reds, whites, rosés and sparkling. I am including a short notice of a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society as follows: On May 2, 2008, Salisbury University is participating in Relay for Life sponsored by the American Cancer Society Relay For Life. This event has three purposes: to celebrate those who have survived cancer, remember those who have lost the battle and support the American Cancer Society. If you would like to donate to this worthy cause please go to http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/RelayForLife/RelayForLifeSouthAtlanticDivision?px=5129729&pg=personal&fr_id=9376
Please check it out.
Tuesday, 8. April 2008
At last, back from an exciting trip to 19 wineries in Oregon and Washington, we have finished writing the articles about each winery we visited. As we discovered Oregon and Washington are beautiful despite the vineyards not leafed out yet. The buds are swelling so it won’t be long. The views of Willamette Valley AVA, Columbia Gorge AVA and Columbia Valley AVA are fantastic. Many days the top of Mount Hood was disguised with clouds but we were able to see the top on a couple of sunny days. The weather tended to be a bit extreme. It seemed it never could decide whether it should snow, sleet, rain or perhaps have a bit of sunshine. Wineries may be large producing over 100,000 cases of wine or small producing just a few thousand cases. However, big or small the wineries are concerned with producing the best wine possible. The winery staffs were very friendly and definitely excited about the wines being produced. If you are able to visit Oregon and Washington, be sure to take time to visit some wineries. You’ll be glad you did.