Friday, 31. October 2008
Wine Report 2009, published earlier this month, has named Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars as the “Greatest Wine Producer in the Atlantic Northeast.” This should not be a surprise but a continuing honor as Wine Report, published annually, has awarded Dr. Frank’s the same prestigious award since 2005. Another honor bestowed upon the winery was the selection of Dr. Frank’s 2006 Rkatsiteli as #1 in Most Exciting or Unusual Finds. In addition, Dr. Frank’s 2006 Dry Riesling was selected as one of the Greatest-Quality Wines.
Wine Trail Traveler had the opportunity to visit Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars in 2007 where we were fortunate to be able to talk with Frederick Konstantin, Dr. Konstantin’s grandson. View the resulting article and photos about Dr. Frank’s on the Wine Trail Traveler website.
Dr. Frank’s is located in Hammondsport, New York amidst the beautiful New York Finger Lakes. The Finger Lakes offer visitors beautiful scenery, swimming, boating and hiking as well as numerous friendly wineries to visit. Plan to stay in the Finger Lakes area for several days to take advantage of all it has to offer.
Thursday, 30. October 2008
Recently published Wine Bar Food: Mediterranean Flavor to Crave with Wines to Match by Cathy and Tony Mantuano offers readers and cooks a look into foods featured in large Mediterranean cities modern wine bars. Wine Bar Food may leave your mouth watering and the desire to create these foods in your own kitchen. Filled with large colorful photos of numerous recipes, the recipes are based on the types of Mediterranean foods found at non-traditional wine bars along the Mediterranean. The book also suggests affordable wine pairings.
Wine Bar Food is divided into chapters based on major European cities including Venice, Milan, Florence, Rome, Barcelona, Nice and Lisbon. Recipes include Marinated Olives, Prosciutto with Grana, Shaved Artichokes and Hearts of Palm, Onion Bread Soup, Rice Balls Stuffed with Lamb Spinach and Cheese, White Asparagus Salad and Catalonian Pizza. Many of the recipes use ingredients that are quite easy to find here in the United States although resources are listed for hard to find ingredients.
Wine Bar Food is delightful in its presentation of Mediterranean foods and wines. Many food and wine lovers would enjoy having this book in their collection.
The Mantuanos own the prestigious Chicago restaurant, Spiaggia. They are opening Enoteca Spiaggia in Miami in Fall 2008. They write in the Introduction: “Creating flavorful menus and pairing them with great wine is our work and our passion.” Wine Bar Food represents their passion.
Wednesday, 29. October 2008
Recently, I have seen articles saying consumers who are concerned about the economy are beginning to use coupons more frequently. While we are all familiar with grocery store coupons, small businesses including some wineries offer coupons. Occasionally, these coupons are found online at the winery’s website. More frequently, wineries offer discounts depending upon the special of the month or the number of bottles being purchased. Some wineries will even offer a discount on mix and match bottles.
Here are some wineries that use coupons to promote consumers to visit. Chateau Chantal in Michigan offers a coupon for wine and a coupon for lodging. Barrel Oak Winery in Virginia offers a coupon for a complimentary tasting on the Wine Trail Traveler website. To find the coupon go to Barrel Oak Winery’s advertisement on Wine Trail Traveler. In California, Falkner Winery offers discount coupons.
Discounts by purchasing 6 bottles or a case are frequently offered by wineries. Grove Winery in North Carolina and Pickering Winery in Pennsylvania offer discounts on 6 bottles or a case. The Winery at La Grange and Pearmund Cellars in Virginia also offer these type of discounts.
Another special I came across is at Dove Valley in Maryland. “Buy One, Get One Half – Price.” Chateau O’Brien at Northpoint in Virginia will pay shipping charges for purchases of 6 bottles or more.
Individual winery websites frequently mention the specials available in the tasting room and some may have a special coupon. As every winery experience is different, coupons and special discounts vary. If you are interested in savings and special deals, visit winery websites to see what they offer.
As a consumer, would you prefer to visit a winery’s website to look for and print a coupon to use or would you prefer an automatic discount depending on the number of bottles you purchase?
Tuesday, 28. October 2008
Recently we had dinner at Olé Grill in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This boutique Mexican restaurant is a step above many other restaurants. The guacamole dip made at the tableside was an experience to watch and delightful to savor. Our server provided our table of four with two dishes of chips.
I had a salad for dinner. The ensalada de jicama was perfect for a light meal. It was crunchy with a combination of fresh oranges, grapefruit and pineapple with a decorative topping of pickled red onions. They served it tossed with orange-lime vinaigrette.
We chose a Spanish red wine to complement everyone’s dinner. Marqués de Caceres, Crianza 2004 Rioja had a 13.5 percent alcohol. The wine was a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Graciano grapes. With an aroma of dark berries and a smooth velvety taste, this wine paired nicely with our diverse dinner selections. Priced on the menu at $24 it can be found in retail stores for less than ten. I would prefer to order a wine produced from 100 percent Garnacha grapes. You can find very good Garnachas from Spain for around ten dollars.
Monday, 27. October 2008
I just came across an interesting webpage on Maryland Wine. Have you ever considered the advantages that producing a bottle of wine offer to the community? On Maryland’s wine site, a chart lists the “ingredients” involved in wine and follows with the “beneficiaries. Ingredients include the vineyard land, wine bottle labels, taxes, and quality of life. Beneficiaries include real estate brokers, lawyers, manufacturers, employees, state and local governments, and consumers.
Check out “What’s in a Bottle of Maryland Wine?” It provides much to think about in terms of how much the wine industry provides for the state. Considering that these beneficiaries include the state and county, I continue to be amazed at the lack of support the Maryland state legislature provides wineries and consumers. It is not permitted to ship wine in the state. For a liberal state, Maryland certainly holds tight to antiquated Prohibition laws.
Friday, 24. October 2008
Why would anyone want to locate a winery in a business park? We discovered the answer in our first visit to a winery located in an industrial park. The location provides easy access for consumers. In addition with the price of land going out of sight, the concept of an urban winery allows winemakers to focus on winemaking by having the fruit transported to them from the growers. Although most winemakers understand the importance of growing good grapes in the vineyards, some of these same winemakers are more interested in the chemical and creative aspects of actually producing the wine from grapes and sometimes other fruits. For these winemakers using a business park location makes a lot of sense.
Chatham Hill Winery in Cary/Morrisville, North Carolina is located in a business park. They recently moved to this larger space that allows them to offer seating at tables and special events.
Bonacquisti Wine Company, in Denver, Colorado is also located in a complex of other small businesses. Paul Bonacquisti uses his building to produce fine wines and support local artists, wine and education.
Augustina’s Winery, in Boulder, Colorado is located in a small business area. While it is small, this is a one-woman winemaking facility and the winemaker does not want to grow larger.
When you visit urban wineries, whether in renovated buildings, business parks or occupying a downtown site, you will discover a uniqueness that makes them worth visiting for the wine and the experience. Enjoy discovering wineries anywhere!
What urban wineries have you visited?
Thursday, 23. October 2008
As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, urban wineries create an easily available experience for urban dwellers. Urban wineries also may make use of restoring older buildings rather than razing and building anew.
Winemaking has a long history behind it and it seems appropriate that new wineries use available historical buildings. Preservation of the past has benefits for today’s society. We have visited several urban wineries that winemakers established in buildings 50 to 100 years old.
Examples of these preservationist wineries include Pentamere Winery in Michigan, St. Michael’s in Maryland, Frederick Cellars in Maryland and Old North State in North Carolina. Check out these articles for detailed information about these wineries.
Pentamere Winery in Tecumseh, Michigan was the location for the Anderson dry grocery built in 1871. Later the building became a clothing store followed by a diner. The Pentamere Winery partners purchased the building in 2000.
St. Michaels Winery located in the tourist town of St. Michaels, Maryland is making use of an abandoned flour mill. Tourists and residents enjoy stopping by St. Michaels for a tasting and winery events.
Converted from a brick 1904 ice warehouse, in addition to the tasting counter Frederick Cellars has a small stage for entertainment. Check out their entertainment schedule.
Old North State Winery in Mt. Airy, North Carolina combines a winery and restaurant in a restored 1890’s mercantile building. Prior to the mercantile, the building was a hardware store. The site was also believed to have been a saloon. By the way Mt. Airy, was home to Andy Griffith.
When you visit an urban winery, take note of what the building may have been in a previous time period. How much of the building still keeps its original character. You may be very pleasantly surprised. All of the above wineries benefit from foot traffic.
What’s the most intriguing renovated urban winery you have visited? Email me at kathy (at) winetrailtraveler.com.
Wednesday, 22. October 2008
Urban wineries are a unique opportunity for the public to taste wines and learn about wine production. Depending on their exact location, urban wineries also benefit from passing foot traffic.
The biggest benefit of urban wineries is that they allow more people to visit a winery without traveling far thereby saving gas and time. If you aren’t able to visit a winery with vineyards, I suggest you visit an urban winery near you. You will find an enthusiasm for winemaking just as at other traditional wineries. You are likely to discover a winery that has space for public and private events, entertainment, and/or food. Every urban winery offers a unique experience for visitors. If you are concerned about terroir and “taste the place” you may want to find out before you visit where the urban winery is sourcing its grapes.
Tomorrow, I will be blogging about three urban wineries that are making use of restored buildings. On Friday I will blog about wineries in industrial parks.
If you know of an urban winery, please email me at kathy (at) winetrailtraveler.com.
Tuesday, 21. October 2008
What’s the best way to buy wine? While there is no right answer for all people, here are some ideas to think about. Personally, I like to purchase wine directly from a winery I visit. There is something about remembering the experience and the occasion of visiting a winery. Will it cause you to remember the winery tasting room, vineyards, staff, camaraderie with other visitors or the landscape? Whatever you remember will add to the experience of tasting the wine as you pair it with dinner or sip it after dinner.
If you can’t buy wine at a local winery, consider joining a club membership. There are many different wine club memberships. Some wineries charge for a membership while others do not charge. Benefits vary from winery to winery but usually include several wine shipments to your home. Unfortunately due to archaic laws in some states, some consumers in the US are unable to avail themselves of this opportunity.
Consider becoming involved with a barrel program. Some wineries encourage people to purchase an oak barrel and they are rewarded with benefits. Benefits vary with each winery. For an example of a barrel program, visit The Winery at La Grange in Virginia for details.
Wine stores can be a good source of wine and if you’re looking for wine outside of the US, a good wine store is the place to go. We have two local wine stores that I consider to be good, because the owners are very knowledgeable about the wines in their stores. If you are looking for a wine to pair with a particular food, just mention it and they can quickly guide you to a selection of wines. Curious about a wine you heard about but not tasted, the owners are not afraid of telling you what they really think about the wine. Compare that to walking into a wine store where the staff members don’t know much about wine and just want to make a sale. Choose your wine store carefully.
You will most likely discover that one of the most expensive ways to purchase a bottle of wine is at a restaurant where prices may be three times what you expect to pay. Consider purchasing a wine and enjoying it with a home cooked meal and candlelight.
Sounds good to me.
Monday, 20. October 2008
Located on Rt. 13 in Salisbury Maryland, Chesapaeake Steakhouse offers a wonderful menu with a fine selection. Noting a small sign that with a list of a few wines, Kathy asked the waiter if they had any local wines. His response was that they have a Beringer. That winery is about 3000 miles away, not quite what I’d consider local from Maryland. European vineyards are just 3600 miles from Maryland. On the other hand, the closest Maryland winery is less than 15 miles away.
There seems to be some confusion about the difference between drink local and drink domestic. It appears that many restaurant employees do not know the difference. Some restaurateurs are not even aware of local wineries and the wines they produce. It appears to be easier to just accept a wine list that someone else has developed and then use only that list with customers. This procedure may have been acceptable a few years ago, but today’s wine drinkers are more intelligent about wine than previous generations.
The eat local and drink local movements are becoming more popular and should not be ignored. Drink local wines means using wines from wineries that are within close proximity as opposed to wineries that are 3000 or more miles away. Not only does this close proximity give wine drinkers a “taste the place” experience but it also affects the environment. What is the carbon footprint for transporting wine from the west coast to the east coast compared to the carbon footprint of transporting wine from an instate winery? One can make the argument that transporting a case of wine fifteen miles has a higher carbon footprint than transporting thousands of cases thousands of miles.
Restaurants often make the claim that the customers are unaware of local wines, so they only stock wines from well known regions. It would be refreshing if a waiter could say, “We carry some local wines, you might be interested in discovering what a Cabernet Franc from Maryland vineyards tastes like.” As the number of people who want to taste local foods and wines increase, restaurants should explore the local wines.