My name is Carlo DeVito, and I am the author of East Coast Wineries: A Complete Guide from Maine to Virginia published by Rutgers University Press. This blog is dedicated to primarily east coast wines and wineries including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. It will also feature products and information from other regions.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
The Daily Freeman: Great Wine in Pennsylvania, Maryland
A toast to the winemakers of Pennsylvania, Maryland
The Daily Freeman Published: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 By ELLEN PERLMAN Special To The Washington Post
When tasting wine, connoisseurs hold their glasses up to the
light to look at the wine's color and clarity. I don't always know what I'm
supposed to see, but at Naylor Wine Cellars in Pennsylvania, I held up my white
wine and it was crystal . . . No. I have to say that it was most definitely
cloudy. Very clearly cloudy.
During a tank-side chat about the steps in the winemaking
process, assistant winemaker Ben McIntyre quickly clarified that I wasn't
imagining things. It was all part of the Tour de Tanks event held at 26
Pennsylvania and Maryland wineries in March, during which guests are invited
into cellars and backrooms to learn about those various winemaking steps. It's
a follow-up to the Wine Just Off the Vine event held in November. Last fall,
visitors sampled these wines just days after they were put into barrels. We
sipped those same wines-in-progress, aged by five months.
Using York, Pa., as our home base, my tasting companion and
I made plans to spend two days visiting six wineries along the Mason-Dixon Wine
Trail that surrounds the city. The wineries don't open until noon, so we spent
the morning browsing through the shops in downtown York and downing a hearty
breakfast at the newly renovated Central Market.
Then we set off on the trail, where interesting wine facts
poured from winemakers' mouths: why some use barrels instead of steel tanks;
why the region makes so many fruity and sweet wines; and how snacks ranging
from brownies to beef jerky to ancho-chili chocolate are paired with
Chambourcins, Traminettes and other wines. As one winery worker put it, you
don't just buy a ticket to taste. You pay for an education.
At each winery, we presented our Tour de Tanks ticket -- a
frequent-drinking card of sorts listing each participating winery -- for
stamping. We picked up our free wine glass at the first stop and took it with
us everywhere, as directed. That meant making frequent use of "rinse
stations" that consisted of everything from painted ceramic pitchers to
big orange plastic buckets with spigots.
Used to simple tastings of a handful of bottled wines, I
found it much more intriguing to step into dark cellars and brightly lit tank
rooms to learn the backstories of the vineyards and vintners, and to taste both
finished and unfinished wines.
The wineries varied from a country home to a former barn to
the basement of someone's house just off the interstate, and friendly
winemakers answered questions about the grapes and the soil as well as about
their businesses and themselves.
And really now, how could someone whose great-grandfathers
were a cooper and a beer brewer not wind up in the business, as is the case
with Jim Miller, the owner and winemaker at Moon Dancer Vineyards and Winery in
Moon Dancer was our first stop after setting out from our
base in York, on roads that wound past stately houses and trailer homes, rising
at one point for a view of one of the widest stretches of the Susquehanna
At the top of a gravel road, we reached a French country
chateau framed by vineyards. After sampling from five bottles in a tasting
room, the last one a warmed spice wine, we headed downstairs. "It's the
first sobriety test of the day," said my friend Sid at the top of a steep