Monday, September 25, 2006

Congratulations to the Maryland Wineries Governors Cup Winners! To Frederick Cellars!

Here's the Govenor's Cup, Gold, and Silver Medals winners for 2006 in Maryland. Congrats to all!! Big winners included Frederick Cellars, Boordy, and others. This show was especially a big show for Frederick Cellars...with the Cup and 4 Gold Medals. Congrats to the folks at Frederick Cellars.

2006 Governor’s Cup Winner
Governor Ehrlich announced the winner at the Maryland Wine Festival.
Frederick Cellars • 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon

Best of Class
Best in Class/White: St. Michaels Winery • Chardonnay 2005
Best in Class/Off-Dry: Elk Run Vineyards • Cold Friday Gewürztraminer 2005
Best in Class/Fruit: Fiore Winery • Blueberry
Best in Class/Rosé: St. Michaels Winery • White Zinfandel 2005
Best in Class/Specialty: Boordy Vineyards • Port 2005

Gold Medal Winners
Boordy Vineyards • Eisling 2005
Boordy Vineyards • Port 2005
Boordy Vineyards • Riesling 2005
Elk Run Vineyards • Cold Friday Gewürztraminer 2005
Fiore Winery • Blueberry
Fiore Winery • Cabernet Sauvignon 2003
Frederick Cellars • Cabernet Sauvignon 2001
Frederick Cellars • Eye of the Oriole
Frederick Cellars • Johannisberg Riesling 2005
Frederick Cellars • Mer de Glace
Little Ashby Vineyards • Old Dog Port 2004
Loew Vineyards • Raspberry in Grape
Solomons Island Winery • White Merlot
St. Michaels Winery • Chardonnay 2005
St. Michaels Winery • Pinot Grigio 2005
St. Michaels Winery • White Zinfandel 2005
Woodhall Wine Cellars • Angler White 2005
Woodhall Wine Cellars • Gunpowder Falls Red 2005

Silver Medal Winners
Boordy Vineyards • Chilled Apple
Boordy Vineyards • Jazzberry
Boordy Vineyards • Seyval-Vidal-Chardonnay 2005
Boordy Vineyards • Syrah 2004
Boordy Vineyards • Vidal Blanc 2005
Cascia Vineyards • Zinfandel 2005
Cove Point Winery • Blaufrankish 2005
Cove Point Winery • CabSyrah 2005
Cove Point Winery • Isabella 2005
Cove Point Winery • Symphony 2005
Cygnus Wine Cellars • Catawba Cuvée Rosé 2004
Cygnus Wine Cellars • Cygnus Red 2004
Elk Run Vineyards • Cold Friday Merlot 2004
Elk Run Vineyards • Liberty Tavern Chardonnay 2005
Elk Run Vineyards • Malbec 2004
Elk Run Vineyards • Syrah 2004
Elk Run Vineyards • Vin de Jus Glacé 2005
Fiore Winery • Vidal Blanc 2005
Loew Vineyards • Chardonnay 2005
Linganore Winecellars • Merlot 2003
Linganore Winecellars • Sweet Chessie 2005
Little Ashby Vineyards • Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Little Ashby Vineyards • Spring Wine 2005
Solomons Island Winery • Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Solomons Island Winery • Black Raspberry Merlot
St. Michaels Winery • St. Michaels White
Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard • Chardonnay 2005
Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard • Comus 2005
Woodhall Wine Cellars • Copernica Reserve
Cabernet Franc 2005
Woodhall Wine Cellars • Seyval 2005
Woodhall Wine Cellars • Vignoles 2005

Connecticut Wineries Hosting Fall Events This Coming Weekend!

North Haven Post ran this article on September 21, 2006, about this weekend's upcomming events at several area wineries.....

By Frederick Nevin

This Saturday marks the official return of autumn, complete with the promise that we will soon see leaves turning color and cooler temperatures.
The return of fall also is a special time of year for winemakers in Connecticut as the change of season comes in the middle of the yearly grape harvest.
To celebrate the bounty, two Connecticut wine farms will hold festivals this weekend and next.

In Litchfield county, the Haight Vineyard - the state's oldest winery - invites the public to get out and celebrate at the Litchfield Hills Harvest Festival scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Next weekend, the Stonington Vineyards, 523 Taugwonk Road, Stonington, will welcome the public to its 8th annual harvest wine and food festival from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The Stonington festival will feature gourmet food, live music, wine tasting and a wine-cellar tour. There is no entry fee. You can learn more about the Stonington festival at www.stoningtonvineyards.com.
Meanwhile, the festival at the Haight Vineyard will be staging its 15th annual festival. The Vineyard has been producing wine grapes on 20-acres of land ever since commercial wineries were permitted by state law in 1978 with the passing of the Connecticut Winery Act.

The owner of the vineyard, Sherman Haight, was instrumental in passing the law, which he said, was written at the winery and presented to the state legislature. It took a few years to pass the bill, he recalled earlier in the week, because lawmakers did not believe wine farms could be successful here. Two good harvests convinced them otherwise, he recalled.

Currently, the Haight vineyard produces 45,000 bottles of wine each year.
"Eighty percent of it is white wine," Haight said. Growing grapes for red wine is coming along. But Haight said it is not yet where it should be. "We hope it will be a big success in a few years," he explained.

Climate is the biggest reason why vineyards have emerged so slowly in Connecticut. The cool, wet climate presents numerous growing problems.

As for the festival, Haight said, the event offers something for everyone and fun for all. The festival is in keeping with traditions in other more popular wine-growing countries where they are regularly held to "celebrates the grape harvest."
To give the festival that real wine flavor, the vineyard will offer a complimentary wine tasting, vineyard tours and an old-fashion grape stomping contest for kids at 1 and 4 p.m. each day. Other children activities include hayrides, pony rides, and tug-of-war contests at noon and 3 p.m. each day.

The event will also feature a number of artisans selling hand-crafted treasurers, gourmet food and other wares in an old-fashioned Yankee village setting.
Also, the wine garden pavilion will be open with a menu of hearty fare and Haight wines served by the glass. As an added bonus, state law allows the vineyards to sell bottles of wine to the public on Sundays, something retailers are not allowed to do in Connecticut.

To reach the Haight Vineyard, 29 Chestnut Hill Road, Litchfield, take Route 8 to exit 42. Follow Route 118 for approximately 3 miles and turn left onto Chestnut Hill Road.

The cost is $5 for adults and $4 for seniors. The event is free for children 12 and under.

American Heritage Entices Readers to Travel the Historic Wine Trails of Virginia!

Travel: The Historic Wine Trails of Virginia

From an article published September 1, 2006....

Nearly 400 years ago English settlers began cultivating grapevines in Virginia in hopes of shipping good wine back to King George. They had no choice. By law every male settler had to plant at least 10 vines for winemaking (and grape theft was a capital crime).

Alas, the wine sent to London wasn’t very good, and when tobacco reared its ugly but profitable head, commercial wine production became a memory. The wine aficionados George Washington and Thomas Jefferson didn’t have much success with their own vineyards in northern Virginia—so they might be surprised to learn that today Virginia is one of the top five wine producers in the nation. And despite their differences with the Crown, they might also be pleased to know that Queen Elizabeth and the Prince of Wales order wine from Virginia.

The largest concentration of wineries is in the northern part of the state, where they have become not only places to taste and purchase fine wines but epicurean community centers where people go to take cooking classes, have gourmet dinners, pick grapes, hear concerts, and get married. Many of the wineries offer children’s activities, so that families can tour the countryside together. (It is not unusual to see a children’s play area at a winery.)

“Wine is the local pride here,” says Chris Pearmund, who worked in many wineries before establishing Pearmund Cellars (www.pearmundcellars.com), in Broad Run. His vineyard is part of a 1740s farm that once cultivated tobacco, apples, and dairy herds. Many barrels in the winery bear metal nameplates identifying people who have paid $700 to own a barrel in return for several cases of the wine from it. “We don’t sell a product here,” Pearmund says, “we sell a memory.” Pearmund is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hillsborough Vineyards (www.hillsboroughwine.com), in Purcellville, is on a 36-acre estate that once belonged to the Fairfax family, friends and neighbors to George Washington, who danced at many parties there. Sally Fairfax, in fact, was Washington’s first love. The romantic view of the Blue Ridge foothills and endless rows of grapevines makes the winery’s terrace a popular wedding site. Bora Baki, who with his family owns the land, says that 300 to 400 people come by on weekends: “We tend the vines during the week, and on weekends we tend the customers.” Hillsborough’s tasting room is open Friday to Monday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.).

At Oasis Winery (www.oasiswine.com), in Hume, an expansive outdoor dining pavilion overlooks Skyline Drive in the Blue Ridge mountains and a beautiful lake complete with swans. The owner, Tareq Salahi, a third-generation winemaker whose Belgian grandfather began the vineyard, says, “Virginia has identical soil to Bordeaux. It’s the zinc and other nutrients that make it right.” Tourism is now such an integral part of the business that Sahali and his wife, Michaele, plan to add an inn and spa near the property. “We focus on affordable luxury for the epicurean traveler,” he says. Each August the new harvest is blessed with a celebration of hymns by a local choir and a candlelight dinner for participants. Oasis also produces the official wine for George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon. The tasting room is open daily.

Gray Ghost Winery and Vineyards (www.grayghostvineyards.com), in Amissville, is named for Confederate Gen. John Mosby, whose knack for infiltrating enemy lines without being detected prompted the Union Army to give him that nickname, although he never used it himself. The vineyard’s location at the southern end of the region once known as Mosby’s Confederacy, where many of his troops were from, gives its owners, Al and Cheryl Kellert, a chance to honor local history while also producing a product they hope will live in history. A likeness of Mosby adorns the bottles’ labels. At harvest volunteers vie for the chance to hand-pick grapes in exchange for a breakfast cookout and a Gray Ghost T-shirt. The tasting room is open Friday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Harvest time is busy everywhere, of course. The annual Virginia Wine Festival (www.virginiawinefestival.org) will take place in Leesburg on Saturday, September 30, and Sunday, October 1. Inns and hotels in the area also provide winery tours. In the historic town of Washington (the locals distinguish it as Little Washington), five-day guided bike tours are available from Tour d’Epicure (www.tourdepicure.com), operated by John and Diane MacPherson, owners of the Foster Harris House bed-and-breakfast (www.fosterharris.com). In addition to a guide (and a bike, if you don’t bring your own) the tours include food and drink for the road, and winery and park fees.

Little Washington, the first of the nation’s 28 cities, towns, and villages to be named Washington, was surveyed in 1749 by a 17-year-old George Washington. Today it is a popular wine-country tourist destination, with antiques shops, art galleries, and its own celebrity chef, Patrick O’Connell, who has made the Inn at Little Washington (www.theinnatlittlewashington.com) the first such facility in the nation to earn a five-star, five-diamond rating.

Some miles away in Hume is a unique bed-and-breakfast that has served dignitaries from Chief Justice John Marshall to Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan. The Inn at Fairfield Farm is in a Colonial manor house set in the midst of a sprawling Western-style cattle ranch. The house was built in 1814 by James Marshall, brother of Chief Justice Marshall. The Marshall brothers had owned the land since 1799, when they had purchased it for about $70,000 from the heirs of Lord Fairfax (obviously the real estate magnate of the time). The property changed hands over the years until in 1951 it was purchased by J. W. Marriott, founder of the Marriott hotel chain. He restored the stately manor house and developed the land into a cattle ranch because it so reminded him of the Western mountain country where he had grown up. An old log cabin was remade into a 1950s ranch house, ideal for families with children, who should get a kick out of the cowboy wallpaper. Trail rides and cattle drives are available, and private winery tours can be arranged (www.MarriottRanch.com).

Between the wine trails and Washington, D.C., are many historic and epicurean stops. For example, in Lansdowne, at the resort of the same name (www.lansdowneresort.com), you can take a wine class with the sommelier Mary Watson-Delander. In Alexandria you can dine at Gadsby’s Tavern (www.gadsbystavernrestaurant.com), where George Washington liked to have breakfast, or at Restaurant Eve (www.restauranteve.com), where chef Cathal Armstrong creates the most sophisticated contemporary cuisine.

Keep an eye out across this green countryside for the spirit of George Washington. He rode over these same trails all his life.

For more information, call 800-VA-VINES to get the Virginia Wineries Association’s free 91-page guide to the state’s wineries and wine-related events. Also check with the Virginia Wine and Travel Tour Office (www.virginiawinecountrytours.com), the Loudoun Wine Trail (www.LoudounFarms.org), and Blue Ridge Wine Ways (www.blueridgewineway.com).

—Marian Betancourt is a freelance writer who lives in New York City.

Virginia Wine Festival Opens September 30, 2006

I will be traveling this year, so it comes with a deep sense of sadness and regret I will not be attending this wonderful event. But it is becoming more and more a must for wine folks.

Go, and Dominique and I promise you will absolutely love it. It's easilly one of the best, and largest, wine fairs on the eastcoast. And tasty o boot!

From Leesburg Today, The Journal of Loudon County (9/21/06):

The 31st annual Virginia Wine Festival, which opens Sept. 30 at Morven Park International Equestrian Center in Leesburg, has been selected as one of the Top 20 events in October by the Southeast Tourism Society.

The Virginia Wine Festival is the oldest on the East Coast, having made its debut in 1975 to showcase the first wines successfully produced in Virginia. Since its inception, the Virginia Wine Festival has become a grand Commonwealth tradition, showcasing hundreds of wines produced by the boutique farm wineries in the state. The festival is hosted by the Vinifera Wine Growers Association, which boasts that visitors can "See Virginia in a Day," through a grand tasting from 57 of the area's award-winning wines, gourmet pairing cuisine, educational seminars and cooking demonstrations every hour, a treasure trove of fine arts and crafts vendors displaying and selling their wares, and nonstop concerts and entertainment all day both days on a main stage and children's stage. Headline performers include several of the most popular groups in the music arena, such as the Grandsons, Carroon Johnny, Crooked Road, Sapphire, The Uppity Blues Women and Lisa Moscatiello. Additional information and advance tickets are now available online at www.virginiawinefestival.org or by contacting the event office at 703-823-1868.

Sierra Sun (CA) Applauds New York Wines - Dr. Frank, Swedish Hill Among Recommendations

Find old vines in New York state
By Janice Jones
Food & Wine
Sierra Sun, posted September 15, 2006

There are around 11,000 acres of wine grapes planted in New York state today. European immigrants started planting vines they brought with them from their homelands as soon as they arrived in America. Most of these vines died, but as they migrated inland and began crossing native vines with the imported vines, new ones began to take hold and the wine industry began.

By the Civil War, the wine industry in New York was established with the Finger Lakes becoming the center for New York‘s wine industry. Wines were mostly produced from these crosses of European wine grapes of the Vitis vinifera family, which most wines are made from in all wine regions of the world, and native American grapes.

By the time Prohibition hit, the wine industry was thriving and the wines produced in the Finger Lakes and Hudson Valley regions were in high demand. The ban on alcohol damaged New York’s wine industry, which did not begin to really rebuild until the mid-1970’s. At that time, with only a few wineries in existence and the reputation of producing cheap jug wines, the industry seemed doomed.

But in 1976, the Farm Winery Act was passed which reduced fees and allowed wineries to sell directly to restaurants and the public. That started a renewed interest in wine making began — from 19 wineries in 1976 to 50 by 1983 to more than 160 small-scale wineries today.

New York wines, for the most part made from European grape crossed with American native grape varieties, created a wine that had peculiar grapey flavors and aromas quite different from Californian or European wines. Therefore winemakers started planting more vinifera grapes in the 1980’s and started producing some very nice wines solely made from these grapes.

Winemakers there still grow and use many of the native and hybrid grapes they have always used, making distinctly New York flavored wines. Four major wine regions exist there, all possess cool climates and are adjacent to large bodies of water. They are the Finger Lakes region, which is the largest; the Hudson River Valley; Lake Erie; and the newest region, Long Island.

The Finger Lakes region has more than 70 wineries located within it’s boundaries. The first vinifera wines in the state were produced here in 1961. The area produces all types of wines, including some exceptional ice wines, Reislings from this area shine.

Hudson River Valley is the oldest wine region, with vineyards that date back to 1677, and is home to the oldest continuously operated winery in the U.S., The Brotherhood Winery. The Lake Erie region is a small area with only a few wineries and only 1,000 acres used in wine grape growing. The Long Island region, designated a wine growing region in the late 1970s, is the newest region and one of the fastest growing areas with more than 27 wineries located there today.
Cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc thrive in this area. In addition to these major areas there are two smaller AVA’s — Cayuga Lake, located within the Finger Lake area, and the Hamptons, in the Long Island area. Because all wine regions in New York are located in cool-climate, with some warm micro-climate vineyards here and there, the yields are generally low.

There are some great wines from New York that you may want to try if you can find any of them. Look for Dr. Konstanin Frank, ‘04 Johannisberg reisling, ‘05 Millbrook Cab Franc or the wonderful tropical fruit and vanilla flavored ‘05 Knapp seyval blanc. For dessert wines, look for the ‘04 Swedish Hill Late Harvest Vigneles or the ‘04 Standing Stone ice wine.

Janice Jones Truckee resident and wine consultant. Reach her at sierrafinewines@yahoo.com.