Thursday, May 31, 2012

Conneaut Cellars Merlot (PA)

Conneaut Cellars Winery fashions itself after a turn-of-the-century winery and performs all of the winemaking operations at the 6,400 square foot winery. The winery offers a broad spectrum of tastes from the farm wines of our grandparents (native American) through the more sophisticated French-American hybrids to the noble vinifera of world fame. Some wines are labeled using proprietary names to promote the local area.

Conneaut Cellars Winery was founded by Dr. Alan Wolf in 1982. Dr. Wolf was exposed to winemaking when working for the US State Department in Germany in the 1950s, where he placed political refugees as winery workers. Some of these émigrés were biochemists. Later, he learned basic winemaking by enrolling in courses at the University of Würzburg and the German Wine Institute at Geisenheim. During the 1960's Dr. Wolf experimented with more than 130 grape varieties for Cornell University and The Pennsylvania State University, as well as teaching basic winemaking courses at several colleges. During the next decade, he saved and planned for starting his own winery. After retiring from education in 1981, Dr. Wolf and his wife, Phyllis, established Conneaut Cellars Winery with the mission to make a memorable and distinctive wine that reflects the northeastern climate of Lake Erie - the Lake Erie Wine Appellation.

In 1982, Dr. Wolf built the winery on the South end of the largest natural lake in the state-due to the rich history of the property. Delaware and Seneca Indians called the lake Conneaut, or “Snow Place,” because the surrounding forests were so dense and that the snow remained after it had melted elsewhere.

Dr. Wolf passed away in 1995 leaving the winery to Phyllis. In 1996, Joal Wolf, the son of Dr. Wolf and winemaster at Conneaut Cellars, bought the winery from his mother. As a young boy, Joal helped his father make wine during the 1960's. After graduating from college, he went to Europe for four years. While in Germany, Joal visited wineries and represented Conneaut Cellars during trade shows. Joal returned to the winery in 1988, attended graduate school, and earned his masters degree. After graduate school, Joal worked full-time at the winery as the winemaster and assisted his father in all facets of the business. As winemaster, Joal has won several international, national, and state medals for his wines. At the 1998 Wineries Unlimited show, Conneaut Cellars Winery won an International Commercial Vineyard and Winery Award as “The Most Improved Winery.”

Conneaut Cellars Winery can be found in the heart of the family resort area of Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania, which is approximately ten minutes from Interstate 79.

Conneaut Cellars Merlot is a vinifera medium bodied red wine. The nose is bright with plum, hints of currant, blackberry, with hints of vanilla. These same flavors come through on the palate, as well as with hints of cocoa. A nice medium bodied red.

Congrats to the folks at Conneaut!