Thursday, 31. July 2008
A recent article in Wines & Vines talks about what the Central Coast Vineyard Team is doing in terms of sustainability. In part, the CCVT mission statement states they “will identify and promote the most environmentally safe, viticulturally and economically sustainable farming methods, while maintaining or improving quality and flavor of wine grapes.” Certainly, these are very laudable goals.
In 1996, CCVT established a Point System for vineyards to help the growers monitor their own progress towards sustainability. By 2002, members began to discuss the idea of changing to a third party evaluation.
The result of these discussions and planning is the establishment of a pilot program this summer. By following standards, providing documentation and submitting to a third party auditor. CCVT is hopeful that by 2009, wines labeled with “Certified Sustainably Grown” fruit will be available for consumers.
Obviously, a lot of work has gone into this sustainable vineyard concept. How much will it add to the cost of a bottle of wine? Are consumers willing to pay more for a bottle of wine labeled “Certified Sustainably Grown?”
Wednesday, 30. July 2008
How many Rieslings have you had in the last six months? If you haven’t had any, is it because you think all Rieslings are sweet? The International Riesling Foundation wants consumers to know that Riesling wines can vary between sweet and dry. As I travel from winery to winery in different wine regions, I’ve noticed that there is a dramatic difference between Rieslings. Some are Riesling Icewines that are very sweet and others are dry. Tastes and aromas differ also. Consumers may notice floral, fruity or perhaps even petrol.
The International Riesling Foundation is proposing a Riesling scale. Under consideration is a scale with sweet, medium sweet, medium dry, off dry and dry. However, Riesling wine is so much more than a level of sweetness. If I wanted just sweetness, a spoonful of sugar is all it takes. With significant differences in the floral, fruity or petrol tastes and aromas, I would like a scale that would include these qualities. A very fruity Riesling may be dry but taste quite sweet. After all, sweetness is very subjective for the consumer.
What kind of scale would you like to see for Riesling wines?
Tuesday, 29. July 2008
The Gallup organization recently released the results of a poll indicating that beer now has a significant lead over wine. The poll was further divided between 30 to 49 year olds and those aged 50 and above.
The younger group favored beer 47 percent, wine 27 percent and liquor 21 percent. The second group favored beer at 45 percent, liquor at 33 percent and wine at 19 percent. These are interesting statistics which leads to further questions including does income affect the type of alcoholic beverage one drinks?
According to the article by Gallup, they discovered that higher economic status, higher income and age plays a significant role into how frequently alcohol is enjoyed. Does that mean the higher the income the more stress comes with money or that more money means the affordability of the drink?
I have visited several wineries that diversify their wineries. Three Brothers in the Finger Lakes region of New York has three wineries and a brewery at the same location. One tasting room is an upscale wine tasting room. Passion Feet is the tasting room geared towards women and the third is for those just out for a good time and just beginning to learn about wine. The brewery offers beer and a non-alcoholic root beer. Three Brothers definitely caters to wine and beer lovers. Jack Rabbit Hill and Peak Spirits in Colorado has diversified by producing wine and adding a distillery in a separate building just a few feet from the winery. Peak Spirits uses a copper still to produce spirits using only fresh fruit. The distilled spirits include Pear Aperitifs, Riesling Grappa, Organic Vodka and Coffee Flavored Grappa.
Diversification helps everyone. Unfortunately, states have different laws regarding what can be produced on winery property. Some states will not permit a distillery to be located with a winery. Will we ever see the end of Prohibitionist type regulations?
Monday, 28. July 2008
After establishing the Robert Mondavi winery in Napa Valley, Robert Mondavi returned to Lodi, California where he established Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi winery. Last year, the winery began supporting America’s Second Harvest, a large organization that fights hunger in America. In keeping with Robert Mondavi’s generosity, Woodbridge will again support America’s Second Harvest this year from October 1 to December 31, 2008. The winery plans to match donations of up to $50,000.
In addition, Woodbridge plans to have a charity auction on eBay between November 13 and November 23. Specialty packages are being designed that included “celebrity encounters, culinary experiences, vacation getaways, spa and golf retreats, unique gift items and dinners in top restaurants around the country.”
The mission statement of America’s Second Harvest “is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger.” According their website, More than 35 million Americans are food insecure, hungry or at risk of hunger.” America’s Second Harvest helps children, seniors, families, homeless, newly unemployed, disabled, mentally ill, working poor and victims of disaster.
As I went through the website, I kept thinking of the nightly news that frequently focuses on other poor areas of the world particularly third world countries. How is it that we can be so blind to the poor in our midst? Do we truly believe that there are no hungry in America? What is behind closed doors – people too ill, too young or too embarrassed to ask for a helping hand? Alternatively, is it just easier to say, “People should help themselves?” How many of us would say that to those who are hungry in third world countries?
Saturday, 26. July 2008
I always look forward to the first peaches of the summer. The cool and refreshing peach is nature’s answer to hot summer days. After spending hours cleaning an old house, it was time for a refreshing pick-me-up. I had a chilled bottle of Knapp George’s Peach wine. I added a peach slice to the wine and presented the wine to my fellow cleaners. It was an immediate hit. Everyone commented on the presentation and how good the wine and peach slice was. Although not my favorite, the Knapp peach wine was semi-sweet, cool and refreshing. We drank the entire bottle in minutes and seemed to have the energy, at least our spirits were higher, to continue cleaning.
Winemakers often make fruit wines during the summer. Unlike grape wines, most fruit wines do not need to age. My favorite peach wine is made by Piedmont Vineyards and Winery, Inc., The Plains, Virginia. Their peach wine is made from peaches and is bone dry with a great peach nose and taste with a long peach aftertaste. The dryness of this wine was a departure from other fruit wines that tend to be sweeter. If near The Plains, Virginia, stop by and give their peach wine a taste.
Friday, 25. July 2008
The wine sat silently in the carboy in a dark somewhat cool area. No fermentation bubbling was observed probably because there was little if any sugar left to ferment. On the 13th day I took a reading of the specific gravity at 0.990. This was down 0.002 from the previous reading. Time to go onto to step three of the instructions.
We dissolved a package of metabisulphite and a package sorbate in a 1/2 cup of cool water. This was added to the wine in the carboy. We then had to vigorously stir the contents for two minutes. I watched a video on You-Tube showing the stirring by hand. I decided to buy a stirring attachment for my drill. After sanitizing the attachment, the wine in the carboy was stirred using the drill to power the stirrer. It worked fantastically. Next added to the carboy was a package of chitosan. Once again I used my drill stirrer to stir the wine for two minutes.
The carboy once again rests in a somewhat cool dark place while the wine clarifies. The directions state that this can take 14 days or longer.
So far the entire process was quite simple. Most of the time the wine just sits there doing its fermentation or clarifying or aging. The bug to start another batch has already bitten.
Wednesday, 23. July 2008
Are you influenced by terroir when you purchase a bottle of wine? I really like the idea of tasting at wineries in different areas and noticing the difference between the wines despite the same grape used in producing the wine. The concept of terroir includes many items that can affect grapes as they grow. Some of these include soil composition, climate, longitude, placement of the vineyard, and amount of water available. Even in the area of the Finger Lakes especially known for producing great Riesling wines, there is a difference between the wines. Riesling tends to have floral, mineral or fruity nuances. Riesling is a very versatile grape and reflects different characteristics depending on the soil in which it is grown.
At Félsina winery, in Tuscany a single lane road separates a vineyard. According to our guide, despite the fact that the same grapes are growing on each side, there is a noticeable difference in the wines produced from each part of the vineyard. Closer to home, Coyote’s Run Estate Winery in Niagara, Canada has two types of clay soil – red and black, in the vineyard. Using the same varietal grapes, different wines are produced from each area. It is interesting to taste and note the difference.
If you believe in the concept of terroir as I do, remember wine is also influenced by the winemaker’s wine style, once the grapes arrive at the winery. Where have you noticed terroir making a difference in wines?
Tuesday, 22. July 2008
This is a reminder for anyone who will be traveling to northern Virginia this summer. Before you leave print a coupon for a free tasting at Barrel Oak Winery http://winetrailtraveler.com/listings/images/barreloak1.pdf. Barrel Oak Winery recently opened in May and has events, tours and an artist exhibit to enjoy. Their state of the art winery is worth a tour. Check the winery out and read a review of it at http://winetrailtraveler.com/virginia/barreloak.php.
We haven’t come across many wineries that offer coupons for a wine tasting. Many wineries will offer to deduct a tasting fee from a purchase you make. What is your preference when visiting a winery? Would you rather use a coupon or have the tasting deducted from your purchase?
Monday, 21. July 2008
Granted that visiting wineries in your own backyard mqy use a little more gas, but you can save gas by going to Wine Festivals where many wineries are pouring tastings. Besides having an array of wines to choose between, you also may likely have music, food vendors and arts/crafts vendors. I will continue to add wine festivals to this blog and Wine Trail Traveler, LLC website as I become aware of them. If you know of any that should be posted, let me know. I just came across this one today: Discover Virginia, Location: Virginia, Date: August 30 & 31, 2008, Tickets: $22 or $15 for designated drivers. Visit Discover Virginia for more information.
Friday, 18. July 2008
Mayle’s novel A Good Year is delightful. When Max leaves his life in London to visit his inherited French property and vineyards, he encounters a completely different lifestyle. As a young boy, he spent many summers in France with his uncle. His adventures begin when he arrives in Provence and meets the locals. Travel with Max from London to his property in Provence as he meets a variety of locals and learns his way around the area. This is a fun book and would be great for the beach. This is the first book I have read by Mayle and I am looking forward to reading his other novels. What have you read by Peter Mayle?