Friday, February 13, 2015

Hudson Valley Wines a Hit With American Wine Society Scranton (NY, PA)

The Scranton, Pennsylvania chapter of the American Wine Society, recently invited Hudson Valley Wine Country to come down and make a presentation of it's wines to their board and members. A tasting of ten wines from six producers was a big success.
According to their website, the American Wine Society was organized in 1967 as a non-profit, educational, consumer-oriented organization for those interested in learning more about all aspects of wine. On October 7, 1967, around 200 grape growers, home winemakers, and wine lovers gathered at Dr. Konstantin Frank’s vineyard on Keuka Lake near Hammondsport, NY for the AWS’ initial meeting.  In December of the same year, the thirteen charter members, led by Founder Dr. Konstantin Frank, met to determine the organization structure of AWS and elect officers.  Now in its 48th year, the American Wine Society is the largest consumer based wine education organization in North America.  Membership is open to anyone interested in wine and over 21 years of age.
In the early days, AWS members were located primarily in the eastern part of the country.  As the society grew , they established chapters throughout the eastern U.S., then into the south and Midwest, and finally into western states.  Today, the American Wine Society has over 5,000 members in 45 states and 120 chapters across the U.S. The emphasis of AWS also evolved through the years as they reached more and more wine lovers.  Most early members were winemakers and they continue to value this key segment of the society.  Even today, 30% of AWS members are amateur winemakers - a fact they are very proud of.  The society was focused primarily on American wines in the early years, but great wine can be made anywhere and today, AWS members want to learn about wines from all corners of the globe.

It was an historic night, as the chapter saw outgoing president George "The Zin Master" Prehatin hand over the reigns to incoming president Rich Berezinsky. There was much good cheer in the room. And Prehatin was toasted with Hudson Valley sparkling apple cider from Orchard Hill.
The Scranton AWS is among the most active on the east coast, and the group that showed up for the HVWC tasting was somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 to 60 avid wine fans.
Scranton is the sixth-largest city in the State of Pennsylvania behind Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Erie and Reading, according to Wikipedia. It is the county seat of Lackawanna County in the state's northeastern region and is also the central point for the federal court of the area. With a population of 76,089, it is the largest city in the Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area, with a greater population of about 570,000, also known as the Wyoming Valley.

Scranton is the geographic and cultural center of the Lackawanna River valley, and the largest of the former anthracite coal mining communities in a contiguous quilt-work that also includes Wilkes-Barre, Pittston, and Carbondale. Scranton was incorporated as a borough on February 14, 1856, and as a city on April 23, 1866. Scranton became known as "the Electric City" when electric lights were introduced at Dickson Locomotive Works in 1880. Six years later, the nation's first successful, continuously operating electrified streetcars began operating in the city.

David Falchek organized the tasting. David writes a weekly wine column for several newspapers in Pennsylvania, including the Scranton Times-Tribune. Like many wine drinkers who grew up in Northeastern Pennsylvania, David started out drinking Boone's Farms in abandoned coal breakers and sneaking sips of Riuniti at family picnics. He lived in the Finger Lakes wine region in the 1990s, discovered fine wine, and began regular coverage of the wine industry.

In addition to writing for Appellation America, David contributes regularly to trade publications such as Vineyard & Winery Management and Beverage Media and irregularly to several others. David has judged regional, national, and international wine competitions where he likes to think he lauds outstanding Seyval or Foch just as readily as Cabernet or Riesling. David is an active member of the American Wine Society. Often asked his favorite wine, his reply is the same: "The one in my glass."

The tasting was held at the Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple. The Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple (formerly the Masonic Temple and Scottish Rite Cathedral) is a theatre and cultural center in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The Cultural Center's mission statement is "to rejuvenate a national architectural structure as a regional center for arts, education and community activities appealing to all ages." The Cultural Center hosts national Broadway tours; professional and local musical and dramatic theatre offerings; local, regional and national orchestral and popular music, dance and opera; comedians, lecturers, art exhibits, a children's and performing arts academy and various classes as well as fundraiser galas and special events including proms, luncheons, private parties and is a popular wedding ceremony and reception venue. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The HVWC could not have been more proud and pleased to have such a lavish stage for its wines to be featured on.
The famous architect Raymond Hood designed the Masonic Temple and Scottish Rite Cathedral, which houses the Scranton Cultural Center, the current operating organization for the building. The Masonic Temple is designed in a combination of Gothic Revival architecture and Romanesque Revival—Richardsonian Romanesque with contemporary Art Deco influences. The building was completed in 1930. The temple was designed with a dual nature; it was built to house the Scottish Rite Cathedral and a Masonic lodge while housing spaces (primarily the theater and ballroom) that were intended for public use.
The Hudson Valley Wine Country organized the tasting on behalf of the valley. The Hudson Valley is the oldest winemaking region in the country. It boasts Brotherhood Winery, America's oldest continually operating winery, and Benmarl Winery, which is home of the Caywood Vineyard, the oldest continually operating vineyard in America. The Hudson Valley spawned the first farm wineries in the state of New York, with Benmarl holding license No. 1. It is the region that boasts the most cideries and distilleries, and is the number one producer of artisanal cassis in North America.  

The wines in order of tasting were:
Orchard Hill Hard Cider
Millbrook Vineyards Tocai 2013
Hudson-Chatham Block 1 Estate Seyval Blanc 2013
Tousey Winery Estate Rebellion Rose 2013
 Tousey Estate Pinot Noir 2013
Hudson-Chatham Baco Noir Reserve 2013
Hudson-Chatham Block 3 Estate Baco Noir 2013
Whitecliff Vineyards Estate Cabernet Franc 2013
Hudson-Chatham Empire 2012
Brookview Station Estate Frontenac 2013
All wines tasted were Hudson River Region wines, and were estate fruit. The Orchard Hill cider was a lovely surprise with a dry sparkling apple cider with the yeast still in the bottle. It showed spectacularly. One of the biggest hits of the night was the Millbrook Tocai Fruliano 2103. Bright, acidic, but with a nice round mouthfeel, and nice dry finish, the Tocai was an immediate favorite, and the talk of the tasting. The Hudson-Chatham Seyval Blanc 2013 was also a nice surprise. Aged in French and American oak, this dry, Burgundy-styled, fume-styled dry white was a very pleasant surprise, especially for those who thought they already knew the grape. The Touset Rebellion rose 2013 was a lovely, bright cherry bomb of wine, made from Blaufrankish. A wonderful wine and a crowd pleaser. The Tousey Pinot Nioir 2103 was another winner, with big, bright, ripe cherry, and soft tannins. A lovely example of the fruit - it exemplifies what Pinot can achieve in the Hudson Valley. The two Hudson-Chatham Baco Noir 2013's were a big hit as well. Few people in the room had experienced Baco Noir made as a fine wine. Shock and surprise were the themes, and all of it effusive in the positive. Both were lauded equally well. Whitecliff Cabernet Franc 2013 was another great eample of how red vinifera can be made in the Husdon Valley. The generally consensus was applause for this estate Cab Franc, which was much more mature, complex and sophisticated than the tasters were prepared for. The Hudson-Chatham Empire was another impressive strike for the valley. A classic, Bordeaux-styled, Meritage-styled wine, wowed those in attendance. And the Brookview Estate Frontenac 2013 was an absolute shock to the sstem. No one in the room could remember having such a well made, dark, dry red Minnesota variety red. A great way to end the tasting with this huge red wine from the north country. 


Carlo DeVito, owner of Hudson-Chatham Winery, founder of the Hudson Berkshire Beverage Trail, and president of the Hudson Valley Wine Country made the presentation. The wines were incredibly well received. Many in the room had tasted Hudson Valley wines before, but had not tasted the level in quality Hudson River Region fruit in such a fashion in the wines presented.
This tasting was a very important one. Why? Because in it, the Hudson Valley was able to show knowledgeable wine consumers, writers, and producers the kind of fine wines that the Hudson Valley can produce outside the state. And we were able to not only let them taste the wines, but to also share information about our four trails and our major events in the region. The participants were not only impressed, but couldn't wait to make the hour-and-fifteen minutes drive to the lower part of the Hudson Valley and begin their next wine adventure. And invaluable learning experience for both sides!

The talk among the guests was effusive. A great ground swell for the wonderful quality wines being made in the Hudson Valley.

These two gentleman aren't just AWS members, they are both vineyard owners in Pennsylvania and are both involved in the quality wine industry!The tall gent with the glasses, is Paul Milnes. The gentleman standing to his right is Stan Sowinki. Both supply several area commercial wineries.     

The Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel, built as the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Station, is a neo-classical building in Scranton, Pennsylvania. It was built as a train station and office building in 1908; closed in 1970; listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on December 6, 1977; and renovated and reopened as a hotel in 1983. Through it all, the building retains its original clocks, doors, fountains, stairs, ceilings, walls, and overall appearance. It is absolutely spectacular and should not be missed if you are going to Scranton!