Sunday, 30. August 2009
Michigan is home to over 110 wineries with 64 wineries using Michigan grapes. If you are not able visit individual wineries, check out some of the festivals.
This weekend (Aug 29 & 30) is the 9th Annual Wine and Food Festival in the Detroit suburb of Rochester Hills. Kroger, a large grocery store chain, is sponsoring this event. A large tent with foods prepared by chefs from the International Culinary School at the Art Institutes of Michigan features Michigan locally grown foods. Small paper plates were available with a different sample on each. After walking through the food tent visitors will find that wineries and distributors set up small tents for showcasing wines. Black Star Farms from Leelanau Peninsula and Chateau Chantal from Old Mission Peninsula were offering samples. Fenn Valley also offered a great tasting. I really enjoy the Riesling from Fenn Valley.
More Michigan wine festivals are taking place this fall. Michigan Wines website has an easy to use calendar website of wine events. In September look for Paw Paw Wine & Harvest Festival, Wine & Food Celebration on Old Mission Peninsula, and Harvest Stompede. In November, consider visiting the annual Grand Rapids International Wine & Food Festival.
Enjoy visiting a festival with friends and family while meeting other wine enthusiasts.
Saturday, 29. August 2009
Save September 19 or 20, 2009 to visit the Maryland Wine Festival in Westminster, Maryland. This annual event is a popular with many Maryland wineries attending. In addition the festival offers food vendors, crafts vendors, wine education seminars and an amateur wine competition. For ticket information, visit the Maryland Wine Festival website. To read reviews of Maryland wineries, visit the Wine Trail Traveler website.
Friday, 28. August 2009
At a recent visit to a Pennsylvanian winery, I noticed a customer who cautiously entered the tasting room. He appeared uncertain. The wineologist asked if he would like to do a tasting, how it worked and the cost. He replied that he only wanted to buy a bottle of sweet wine. She offered him a free tasting of their popular red sweet wine. He took just a sip and asked if he could purchase a bottle of that. He then quickly exited.
I have some comments about the observances. Many people enjoy sweet wines. So many that unless a winery is located in an area where there is a large population of dry wine drinkers, a business plan must contain a portfolio of sweet wines. Many wineries throughout the country have indicated that their sweet wines out sell their dry wines. People shouldn’t apologize for drinking sweet. If you like sweet wines, buy sweet wines.
If you walk into a tasting room and see people swirling and smelling their wine, don’t freak out. Just ignore them, or if you are interested ask them what they are doing. I have had many people ask what I was doing. Of course I usually launch into teacher mode but they seem pleased with their newfound knowledge.
Don’t be afraid to taste a wine. It is proper to taste and spit. If there isn’t a bucket ask for one. If spitting is too embarrassing ask for a paper cup. One of the many advantages of visiting winery tasting rooms is to taste wines. If you like sweet, taste several sweet wines before you decide which one to buy. To some, a tasting room can be intimidating. It can also offer wonderful learning experiences and a chance to meet people.
Thursday, 27. August 2009
Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery on Old Mission Peninsula in Michigan won the Harding’s Cup at the Michigan Cab Franc Wine Challenge. Twenty-two 2007 vintage Cabernet Francs from 18 Michigan wineries and a winery in the Loire Valley of France entered wines. Coenraad Stassen is the winemaker at Brys Estate. He is one of the talented winemakers we’ve met who went to Stellenbosch University in South Africa. Coenraad is pleased with the win. It shows that Michigan can produce quality vinifera reds along with their award winning whites.
On a personal note, I really do not care for a varietal Cabernet Franc unless it’s a Canadian Icewine. I think the grape is an excellent blending grape. However it is a very versatile grape that grows well in so many different terroirs and it is very popular among winemakers. We have traveled to wineries throughout the country and visited many wineries. In most regions visited, some winemakers are making a varietal Cabernet Franc.
Cabernet Franc is possibly the red vinifera wine that is becoming the identity wine for several states. Michigan and Colorado produce a lot of Cabernet Franc. Several other states are also producing many cases of Cabernet Franc. In my opinion, move over Vidal and give me a case of Cabernet Franc Icewine.
Wednesday, 26. August 2009
Join with other wine enthusiasts and support Habitat for Humanity by attending a fundraiser at Chateau O’Brien in Markham, Virginia. This is the 3rd Annual Chili at the Chateau. Proceeds will support the construction of a home built this fall.
This two-day event on Saturday and Sunday, August 29th and 30th , includes all-you-can- eat chili with three types to choose from, condiments, logo glass and beads. Live music and a raffle are all part of the fun. Cost is $15 per person and no reservations are required. This event is for those 21 years of age and older. Check out the event on the winery’s website. Read a review of Chateau O’Brien at Northpoint.
Monday, 24. August 2009
Last night for dinner we enjoyed rice with saffron, a green salad with fresh cucumbers and pepper. The fish was Mahi-Mahi and was delicately seasoned.
Dinner was enhanced with a wine from Lost Creek Vineyard in Texas. White Swan Blanc Du Bois 2005 offered a citrus and floral aroma with a fruity taste. The fruit lingered on the finish. If you haven’t tried a Blanc du Bois wine yet, this is a wonderful grape variety. If you enjoy Riesling wine and other white wines, you may want to add Blanc du Bois to your wine list.
Earlier in the year we visited Lost Creek and this is one winery we will never forget. In 2007 the LBJ Lake flooded and much of the winery was carried away. When we visited in early 2009, the owner, also the winemaker, had not only restored the winery but added a popular elegant restaurant and sushi bar.
Enjoy a local wine and discover what all the talk is about in Texas wine country!
Monday, 24. August 2009
Every now and then I want a sparkling wine with a meal. Given that yesterday was our thirty-seventh anniversary, a sparkling wine seemed appropriate. Thornton Winery’s Brut Reserve 1999 California Champagne was a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir. The result was an aroma and taste of apple and pear. The wine was dry and palate cleansing with citrus nuances. Tiny bubbles remained in the flute for a long time. The bottle, autographed by Don Reha, the winemaker made our celebration special as we recounted our visit to Thornton Winery.
I was careful when opening the bottle. Although using a sword is quite an entertaining way to open a bottle, when it comes to a sparkling wine, I remember a lesson taught at Schramsburg. “The more you hear, the less flavor you’ll have,” resonated in my mind. Holding the bottle still, I slowly twisted the enclosure and only a small hiss was heard. The aroma and taste were quite noticeable as this method certainly preserves them. The sparkling wine paired nicely with our chicken wrapped in bacon with mashed potatoes. Actually, I enjoy a sparkling wine with any meal. I like a brut since it is so food friendly and is a good choice for lunch and dinner. I’ve had some California sparkling Muscats that could replace orange juice for breakfast and you don’t need to make a mimosa.
Sunday, 23. August 2009
Recently we had dinner with the extended family and the wine was flowing. There were definite opinions of several of the wines we drank. We tasted four reds before dinner and had several whites during dinner. We had local wines and world wines. Two wines caught my attention. One was a Viognier from Brennan Vineyards in Comanche, Texas. It offered a citrus and peach aroma and taste. The crisp finish was citrusy yielding to peaches. The wine paired well with the fish dinner.
Before dessert, we opened a Graystone Vineyards Port II. Of the ten wines tasted, this clearly was the biggest hit. Graystone is located in Clifton, Colorado and specializes in making ports. The Port II was simply delicious. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, it had a black color with a ruby red rim. There was an aroma and taste of dried fruit especially prunes. The taste was velvety and the finish was fruity and crisp. The 19 percent alcohol port had no heat on the finish. The bottle was empty before the dessert made it to the table. The Graystone Port II was a group favorite.
Friday, 21. August 2009
Enjoy a great time this weekend at the Ashtabula Wine and Walleye Festival in Ohio, along Lake Erie’s south shore. Participating wineries include Laurello Vineyards, Ferrante Winery & Ristorante, Grand River Cellars, Harpersfield Vineyard, The Lakehouse Inn & Winery and Emerine Estates. To read reviews about several of these Ohio wineries, visit the Wine Trail Traveler website.
Events begin Friday at 5pm and the festival closes on Sunday at 6pm. Fun activities include live music and a fishing tournament. Vendors will also be there.
According to the festival website: “The Wine Festival and Walleye Tournament Headquarters will be on the Ashtabula River. Enjoy sipping wine, live music and vendors, watch the fishermen bring in their catches on the Ashtabula River or shop in our unique retail stores on Bridge Street (5th Street).”
For more information about the festival and tickets, visit the festival’s website.
Wish I could be there!
Thursday, 20. August 2009
Some interesting legislation is being considered in Wisconsin. The issue is about whether parents should be allowed to have their children have an alcoholic drink with them in public. To summarize the current law: children under the age of 21 are allowed to drink alcohol in licensed facilities when accompanied by a parent or guardian. In the proposed legislation parents would be restricted in waiting until their children are 18 years of age. Isn’t this legislation opening up the proverbial “can of worms?”
While I personally would not take a 15 year old into a bar, I would not object to him/her having a small glass of wine with dinner at a nice restaurant. What better way to learn responsible drinking than to have it with food while with parents?
If bar owners don’t want people under 21 in their bar, why not post a sign to that effect?
As far as Wisconsin having an image of binge drinking and drunk driving, I believe that the proposed legislation is inadequate to help with that irresponsible drinking. Perhaps more time should be spent in legalizing roadside police checkpoints and making drunk driving a felony the first time. There should be serious consequences for binge drinking and drunk driving.
Responsible parenting includes teaching both the dangers and benefits of alcohol. Responsible government? Really, what’s that?