Thursday, 30. April 2009
It surprises me that corporate hotel chains with restaurants do not do more to promote the “eat and drink local” movement. While at the restaurant in the Hilton at the Austin airport, I asked about local Texas wines. They didn’t have any Texas wines available, even though there are many wineries in the Texas Hill Country. This is rather a common experience at hotels. The reason often given is that their guests are from around the country and world and are looking for a wine with which they are familiar. Although at first this reasoning may make sense, it lacks community support and is not insightful. When I went to Italy, I didn’t want to drink and eat French or American wine and food. I wanted to “taste the place.” Chianti pairs well with wild boar, which seems fitting since the wild boar feast on Sangiovese grapes before reaching your dinner plate.
Some hotels promote the “eat and drink local” movement. The Hilton Garden Inn, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario has a wine list with 75 percent local wines. If visitors want to eat and drink local they can do so at that hotel. When I travel to Texas I want to experience the local cuisine and drink the local wines. Hotels need to get out of a rut with their thinking and promote drink and eat local. What better way to introduce their guests to the local wines than serving them? If hotel managers are worried that a bottle of local wine might not sell once opened, there is equipment available by using argon to preserve the wine for several weeks. Local wines could also be served at manager’s receptions.
Kudos to those hotels that support the “eat and drink local” movement!
Wednesday, 29. April 2009
The wine industry in Texas is rapidly growing. In Texas, visitors will discover enthusiastic winery owners. Since Texas is a large state, the terroir is diverse. Currently, there are eight American Viticultural Areas in Texas. With 15,000 square miles, the Texas Hill Country Viticultural Area is the second-largest viticultural area in the United States.
In 2005, the Texas state legislature passed a bill allowing wineries to ship wine anywhere in the state. (Are other states listening?) That was four years ago, has anything dire happened to Texas? In 2005, there were 85 operating Texas wineries and by 2007 that number increased to over 120 wineries. What a boost to the economy! It was estimated that at the time these wineries were producing an annual revenue of $1 billion. The Texas Department of Agriculture created a small booklet, “Texas in a Bottle.” It is a compilation of information about Texas wineries, history and wine in general. For extensive Texas winery and vineyard information visit the Go Texan Wine website by the Texas Department of Agriculture.
Cheers to Texas wines!
Tuesday, 28. April 2009
Just a few days ago the evening temperatures dropped to the mid thirties and the day struggled to reach the fifties. The wood stove had a fire burning all day. The rain continued for the third day and I wondered if Spring would put in a showing this year. My grape vines were reluctant to spring forth, they’d rather stay in a tight bud. Then all of a sudden the weather changed, which isn’t uncommon. But this change was dramatic. From the ten to fifteen degrees below average temperatures for months, we soared to the nineties for days. Trees in the region responded with a showcase of leaves while flowering trees exploded with colors. My Dornfelder, who just days ago was more interested in sleeping, now began to reach for sunlight.
My interest in wine during this stint in the ninety degree temperatures also changed. All of a sudden I seem to crave a citrusy white wine. What happened to Spring? We are having July and August temperatures in late April. Of course it feels better now, because we haven’t thawed out from the winter, than it will during the summer. I’m happy to see the grape vines leafing forth, jealous of the vines in Temecula that were springing forth in late February. Now I looking forward to the long summer days watching my grapes grow and thinking of the possibilities of winemaking in the fall.
Monday, 27. April 2009
This weekend, we had a small party with friends and family. Usually we cook and bake almost everything, but this time around we decided to take the easy way out and went to a local box store where we purchased cheese and turkey rolls, vegetables and a yummy chocolate cake with a creamy center.
We decided to open our homemade sweet dessert wine. Everyone who tasted it enjoyed the wine and there was not a drop left! It’s always nice to hear others compliment the wine you have made.
I imagine that winemakers enjoy hearing their wines complimented. However, should you compliment a wine at a commercial wine if it’s not that good? I don’t believe so. If the wine has an obvious fault, don’t feel you need to drink it or that you need to say anything at all. However, if cork taint or some other fault is noticeable, I believe that one does a disservice to the winery by not mentioning the fault. The staff at the tasting counter should be made aware that the wine has a fault so that the same bottle of wine does not continue to be served to more visitors. At some wineries, including Heron Hill Winery in New York, the staff is required to taste the wine before pouring a tasting. This helps to prevent a wine with a fault from being served to the public.
Since the purpose of tastings are to encourage visitors to discover a wine they like and perhaps purchase a bottle of it, care must be taken by a winery to enhance their image.
In a competitive market it only makes sense to put you best “wine” forward.
Thursday, 23. April 2009
Even though Vint Hill Craft Winery is not currently open to the public, we had the opportunity to visit Vint Hill and meet with Chris Pearmund from Pearmund Cellars. After visiting the site, we are even more excited about Vint Hill Craft Winery. This winery is filling a need for wine enthusiasts who want to learn more about wine and winemaking.
Chris gave us a tour of the building that is under renovation to becoming the first winery in the D.C. area to offer people the opportunity to participate in making their own barrel of wine.
Chris believes that with extra steps taken during winemaking, the quality of wine that participants will be producing will be high. For example, when the grapes arrive at the winery they will go to a sorting table to remove the MOG (Matter Other than Grapes). The next step will be the grapes going through the destemmer. Chris is adding another step to the process by having a second sorting table available. After the grapes leave the destemmer, they will go on to the second sorting table. It is here that the jacks – small green pieces that attach grapes to the bunch – will be removed. According to Chris if the jacks are not removed, they will leave harsh flavors in the finished wine.
While workers were busy with hammers and saws, Chris gave us a brief history of the building and enthusiastically pointed out the different areas where the equipment will be located on the first floor. The tasting room will be located on the second floor and visitors will be able to see the work taking place below. The tasting room will also serve as a classroom for participants who will learn what they are to do before actually working on each step of creating their wine.
Vint Hill Craft Winery is scheduled to open July 2009. If you are interested in producing a barrel of your own wine, you can find more detailed information on the Vint Hill Craft Winery website. Participants can sign up now.
Wednesday, 22. April 2009
Yesterday I received an email from Southbrook Vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake announcing their release of Canada’s first certified biodynamic wine.
In celebration of Earth Day, the 2008 Cabernet Rosé is being released today. Only 550 cases were produced. Today 28 restaurants in Ontario will be celebrating the release of this wine. Enjoy a glass of this 2008 Cabernet Rosé at any one of these restaurants listed on the Southbrook website.
At the Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar, this biodynamic wine will be pair with Marinated Lake Trout Tartine with Wild Leek Sweet and Sour Mignonette. At Play Food & Wine, the wine will be paired with Hand-rolled Gnocchi with White Asparagus, Oyster Mushrooms and Sorrel Vinaigrette. Enjoy a visit to anyone of the more than two dozen restaurants that will be featuring Canada’s first biodynamic wine.
Southbrook was the first winery in Canada to receive biodynamic certification by Demeter Canada. With the popularity of biodynamics, I look forward to hearing of more biodynamic wines coming into the market and having the opportunity to taste them.
Tuesday, 21. April 2009
Thirteen wineries in northeast Ohio are celebrating Spring on May 1-2 and May 8-9. Participants will receive a wine glass by Schott Zwiesel and a spring garden pail at a selected winery. By traveling to the participating wineries, visitors will collect a gladiola bulb. Included at each winery is an appetizer and one or two wine samples. The cost is $35 per person or $45 per couple.
Wineries involved include: Biscotti Winery, Buccia Vineyards, Debonne Vineyards, Grand River Cellars, Maple Ridge Vineyards, Ferrante Winery and Ristorante, Old Mill Winery, Virant Family Winery, Old Firehouse Winery, Lakehouse Inn and Winery, Laleure Vineyards and Emerine Estates.
What’s particularly nice about this spring celebration is that it continues for two weekends. Rather than trying to collect all the bulbs in one or two days, participants have four days to visit 13 wineries and taste wines. To make reservations call 800-227-6972 or go to the Wine N Bloom Weekends website.
Enjoy your visit to Ohio wineries!
Monday, 20. April 2009
Recently I learned about Bodhichitta Winery, a unique winery in Oregon that launched this month. It is the first winery in Oregon to be non- profit. The motto at the winery is “Passion for wine, compassion for others.” Not only do they sell wine online and in stores, they also sell lavender products.
Beginning with its name, Bodhichetta winery is an unusual winery that that combines many unusual characteristics. According to the Bodihichitta website, Bodhichitta is Sanskrit for “inner self or soul.”
In keeping with its motto, Bodhichitta Winery donates all of its profits to charity. These charities include Central Asian Institute, Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, Autism Society of America, The Humane Society, The Nature Conservancy and Oregon Trout. If you are not familiar with Central Asian Institute, perhaps you have read Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. It is the phenomenal story of Mortenson who has dedicated his life to establishing schools in central Asia where illiteracy is rampant. In January, before the winery opened, they donated $12,000 dollars to build one school. In the future they hope to be able to donate more funding for schools.
Bodhichitta Winery is located in the famed Willamette Valley. While they are not open to the public purchases can be made in person or online. Products are also available in stores and wine shops.
Congratulations to everyone involved at Bodhichitta Winery where “compassion for others” is of prime importance.
PS: On May 7, 2009, the University of Oregon will be hosting Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea. Tickets are free. Visit the university’s website for tickets.
Friday, 17. April 2009
I am always looking for recipes with wine as an ingredient. As part of the search, I contacted Chumeia Vineyards in Paso Robles, California and discovered more than recipes and wine. Their website has many recipes on it. Most of the recipes are for pairing with their wines. You may want to check out their website for some scrumptious recipes.
As I was browsing the Chumeia Vineyards website, I also came across an event for for wineries in their area. On April 25, Chumeia Vineyards will be joining 30 other wineries to support the Woods Humane Society. The event is the 1st Annual Wine 4 Paws. When visitors to Chumeia Vineyards purchase a bottle of selected Chumeia wine, one dollar will be donated to the Woods Humane Society. If you choose to sign up for a Whiskers & Paws Wine Club membership, the winery will donate $10. Be sure to check out the other participating wineries.
When I contacted Chumeia Vineyards about Wine 4 Paws, I discovered that Chumeia has an event every September for supporting their animal friends. This September will be the 3rd Annual Cause For The Paws. The event includes food, wine, mobile dog adoptions and more. This event also benefits the Woods Humane Society. The event is scheduled for the September 12.
Many wineries support worthy causes. If you know of any that others would enjoy discovering, please email me.
PS: In the event of changes, always check with a winery about their events before you make your plans.
Thursday, 16. April 2009
Spring wine events are in the air. With Virginia having a fast growing increase of vineyards and winery, there is cause for celebration. If you are looking for a fun activity this weekend, check out some of these Virginia events. The Monticello Area Wine Festival will be held April 18 and 19 from 11am to 5pm, rain or shine. The festival will feature ten of Shenandoah’s wineries. These include Burnley, Horton, Stone Mountain, Gabriel Rausse, Kluge, Hartwood, Rockbridge and Starr Hill Brewery. While tasting wines, enjoy visiting arts, crafts and food vendors. The Monticello Area Wine Festival will be in Ruckersville, Virginia. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the gate.
Habitat for Humanity Wine Festival at Fauquier Fairgrounds will help to benefit the Fauquier Habitat for Humanity. Date: April 18 Time: 12Noon
The 9th Annual Virginia Fly Fishing Festival will be April 18 and 19 from 9 til 5. In additional several wineries will be attending. Location: Waynesboro, Virginia
For more information about these and other Virginia wine events check out the Virginia Wine website. Look for similar events in your state and enjoy the opportunity to taste wines and meet new friends.