Sunday, June 29, 2008


So, Dominique and I took the boys to their first away camp in northern New Hampshire. The boys poked each other constantly the entire length of the ride, goading and teasing each other. They were as excited about going to camp as they might be about Christmas or their birthdays. On the way back we decided to stop in and visit the Putney Mountain Winery.

The Putney winery was officially licensed in 1998. And co-owner Charles Dodge, a composer who has taught at Columbia and Dartmouth was there to walk us through a tasting.

Charles Dodge, is a very nice, unassuming man. But tht belies an accomplished past. According to Wikipedia, "Charles Dodge (b. Ames, Iowa, June 5, 1942) is an American composer best known for his electronic music, specifically his computer music. He is a former student of Darius Milhaud and Gunther Schuller...Dodge received his undergraduate education (BA) at the University of Iowa, and earned his MA and doctorate (DMA) at Columbia University. In the 1970's he taught at Columbia and subsequently founded the Center for Computer Music at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York where he was Professor of Music. He also taught at the City University Graduate Center. Currently, (2008) he holds the position of Visiting Professor at Dartmouth College. In addition to his work as a composer, Dodge is noted for co-authoring the highly praised book Computer Music: Synthesis, Composition, and Performance, ISBN 0-02-864682-7 [1] Best known in recent years as the owner, with his wife Katherine, of the Putney Mountain Winery in Putney, Vermont. The company has experienced growth every year since its founding in 1998."

Darmouth's faculty page has this about him: "Inaugurated the graduate study of computer music at Columbia University where he taught in the music department from 1970-1980. Subsequently, he founded the Center for Computer Music at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York and taught at the City University Graduate Center. He has received a Woodrow Wilson Graduate Fellowship and two Guggenheim Fellowships as well as numerous commissions and awards for his compositions. Dodge is best known for his many electro-acoustic works incorporating speech synthesis and for a series of works that combine computer music with live performance. With Thomas A. Jerse, he is co-author of the leading textbook in the field, Computer Music: Synthesis, Composition and Performance."

But his bio on Albion Records is even more impressive: "Charles Dodge New Albion Records...Charles Dodge received recognition early in his career for his orchestral and chamber music. He went on to become one of the first composers to realize the immense potential of the computer for broadening the scope of musical composition. He was experimenting with the digital synthesis of sound as early as the late 1960s, splitting his time between between Princeton University, Columbia University, and Bell Labs. He completed Speech Songs in 1972, making a mark on the new music world with his charming and humorous use of synthetic speech. The work, created in the early days of computer voice synthesis at Bell Telephone Laboratories, paved the way for everyone from Kraftwerk to Add N to (X), and is considered a computer music classic. Ingram Marshall writes of Dodge's music, "The wit is always subtle, and there is a cool clarity in his expressive use of computer timbres and intervals which often give a chilling edge. There is never a surfeit in the music, yet one could hardly call him a Minimalist, nor, for that matter, any other label such as New Romantic, Serialist or Cagein Aleatoricist! Happily he avoids pigeonholing, yet his music has a recognizable quality that identifies him readily enough.""

We just like him for his wines. Who knew?

We started tasting with the Cranberry wine, and then moved on to the Simply Rubarb.

Dominique is a big fan of rubarb itself. And this wine was no disappointment. A big nose full of rubarb, with nice flavor and nice acidity. This is not a very sweet wine. Very nice. For folks who like rubarb or rubarb wine, this is a nice one!

But don't just trust me, how about this quote from Howard Weiss-Tisman, of the Brattleboro Reformer, who recently wrote, "For the second time in three years a wine from Putney Mountain Winery has been named the best in the state at a regional competition...Putney Mountain Winery's 2006 Rhubarb Blush received a gold medal and was named the best wine in the state of Vermont at the 2008 Big E Northeast Gold Medal Wine Competition. The Big E is New England's largest agricultural fair and is held each year in West Springfield, Mass." That's an accomplishment!

Next was the Apple-Maple wine. We liked this very much. Tart and sweet with just a touch of maple at he end. This would make a great spiced wine too! This was one of our favorite wines.

Ruhbarb Blush was the next wine. This is a ruhbarb wine made with strawberries and maybe a touch of raspberry. This was the 2008 North Eastern gold medal winner, which is one of the highest awards that can be won by a New England winery. This is a lovely blush wine. Really a fun, delicious easy drinking wine. This wine is a winner in more ways than one!

Next was the Vermont Cassis. This was a dark, inky, sweet and tart. An excellent Cassis!! Really one of the better bottles of cassis I have had from the east coast! Really wonderful!

They also make a wonderful sparking apple wine. Not a cider. But an apple wine that is then turned into a sparkling wine. Very dry. Very nice. Made with local MacIntosh apples.

Dominique and I had a very nice visit. And Charles Dodge is one of the nicest poeple you'll ever meet. And he is an inertesting individual as well, straddling the worlds of music, academia, and wine. The wine business does attract creative indivualists! Congrats, Charles!