Monday, August 21, 2006

Detroit Free Press Raves About Connecticut Wine

Everything but the grapes
Connecticut fruit winery part of a growing national trend
Detroit Free Press
August 20, 2006

SHERMAN, Conn. -- White Silo Farm and Winery isn't very big or elaborate.

There are no 300-gallon fermentation bins, no oak barrels for aging, no fancy corking or bottling machinery.

In fact, there are no grapes. Not one single grape.

Instead, there are raspberry and blackberry bushes, black currant shrubs, cherry trees and rhubarb plants.

That's because the small, family-owned business is a fruit winery, tucked away along the border of Connecticut and New York. And in the past five years, it has become part of a sharp growth of specialty and traditional wineries across the nation.

The number of wineries in Connecticut has more than doubled in the past six years, from 11 to 27, according to the National Association of American Wineries. There are some 4,280 wineries in the United States, up from 3,820 in 2005.

The White Silo Farm and Winery jumped on board around 2001. It is one of an estimated 50 to 100 specializing in fruit wine around the country.

The old red barn it's housed in overlooks nearly 90 acres of lush meadow. Visitors can watch cows and horses grazing in the pastures.

Inside the barn, an art gallery displays works from local artists. Small tables face the doors for a calming view of the orchards.

The winery produces sour cherry, rhubarb and raspberry wine. Black currant and blackberry wine are also available.

The house specialty in the summer is a blackberry sangria made with dry rhubarb wine, sweet blackberry wine and orange juice.

In the winter, visitors are encouraged to go for a black currant wine, a dark, full-bodied wine that Ralph Gorman, the winery's owner, says goes well with spaghetti and meatballs.

Nestled in Litchfield Hills, the specialty winery is part of the Connecticut Wine Trail, 16 wineries promoted together to lure tourists. Gorman says business has steadily grown since his business joined three years ago.

Though Connecticut isn't Napa Valley or Bordeaux, the specialty winery offers a unique, appealing getaway.

read the rest at:

Pennsylvania Wines Getting Good Press Too!

French-American Hybrid Grapes Make Tasty Wine
August 20, 2006
Centre Daily Times (Pennsylvania)
Jo and Tom Chesworth are AWS Certified Wine Judges and can be found in the

In the latter part of the 19th century, after the American Civil War, a group of grapevine diseases from North America arrived in Europe. They probably hitchhiked on North American vines taken there for cross-breeding experiments and for specimens in botanical gardens. In any case, they escaped and began growing wild in Europe. Among them were a variety of fungal and viral diseases, including powdery mildew and downy mildew which are controlled by chemical fungicides, notably Bordeaux Mix. But the worst of these plagues was the phylloxera epidemic of the 1870s in French vineyards.

Phylloxera is a plant louse that sucks a bit of the sap from the grapevine, primarily from the roots. North American grape species roots heal after the insect feeds, but European vinifera roots are soft and fleshy and do not heal. They subsequently become infected, and these infections kill the plant. The French wine industry was destroyed in the 1870s and a frantic search began to find a way to save the vineyards.

One of the methods tried was to cross the European VITIS vinifera with various North American species of grape including VITIS aestivalis, rupestris, riparia and berlandieri. The best of the resultant plants were winter hardy, disease resistant and made tasty wine. That was the problem. Although the wine was tasty -- meaning tasted good -- it didn't taste like vinifera wines and different is bad. Right? In 1934 the French government outlawed several hybrids: Isabella, Noah, Othello, Jacquez and Herbemont. We get the impression that if the market does not discourage a type of wine because of its taste, outlawing it is not in the consumer's interest and is inspired by some sinister political motive. In France, several others of these hardy hybrids are still grown, although the EU discourages the practice.

In the Northeastern U.S., the government also almost stamped out these vines and their wines -- prohibition did in this country what the phylloxera did in Europe. It killed most of the grapevines. Because VITIS vinifera is not cold-hardy nor disease-resistant, it has a hard row to hoe in eastern North America, but the French hybrids do very well. A resurgence in the wine industry in eastern North America at the very end of the 20th century is partly based on the white hybrid wines, Vidal and Seyval Blanc, and the red hybrids, Chambourcin and Baco Noir to name a few.

These wines are available mostly from small vintners in Canada, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio. Try a Mazza Vineyards Vidal Blanc at $8 a bottle. Or in case you feel that Vidal produces an inexpensive and therefore inferior wine, buy an Inniskillen Icewine Vidal at $54 for half a bottle. Seyval Blanc is grown widely in England where it is the second most planted grape after Muller-Thurgau (a German hybrid). Because it is winter-hardy, it does well there, and is made into outstanding wines. Or you can get Lone Oak Vineyard Estate Seyval Blanc (from Michigan) at $9. From Bully Hill winery in New York, you can get Lighthouse White, a blend of Vidal and Seyval at $10, or from Allegro in Pennsylvania you can get Susquehanna White, also a Vidal/Seyval blend, at $10 a bottle.

There are red French hybrid wines available, too. Try a Bully Hill (the old Taylor winery in New York still in business even though the name was sold) Bulldog Baco Noir or a Bully Hill Chambourcin, each at $10. Or try some Pennsylvania Chambourcins: Mazza makes one costing $10 a bottle and Clover Hill produces one that costs $15 a bottle. You can even get a White Chambourcin, white wine made from a red grape, from Lone Oak Vineyard Estate in Michigan for $10.

Many of the French-American hybrids are still grown in various countries around the world, including France and other countries in Europe. They have a distinct advantage over vinifera in that they are cold-hardy and much more resistant to diseases. If you try some of the wines mentioned here, you will find that they taste no more different from vinifera grape wines than various vinifera grape wines taste different from each other.

Jo and Tom Chesworth are AWS Certified Wine Judges and can be found in the

Great Story About Small Winery in Maryland

Wicomico winery wins favor
By Deborah Gates
Staff Writer
The Daily Times - Salisbury, Md.
August 6, 2006

ALLEN -- Tom Shelton walked his vineyards Friday as he customarily does this time of year, checking roots and drip-system sprinklers and red, but mostly green, grapes dangling from rows and rows of vines. He's been corking bottles of wine from grapes grown in his Wicomico County vineyards since 1999, and doling them out to family and friends the only way the law would allow: Free of charge.

But 2006 should be the best year yet for his Bordeleau Winery on Noble Farm Road.

Grapes pulled from Shelton's vines in September and October -- and suitable for a light and medium-bodied sauvignon blanc, a fruity chardonnay, an early maturing cabernet franc or a merlot -- are close to finding their way into bottles for retail sale.

Last week, the Wicomico County Board of Appeals approved Shelton's request for a special exception to market bottled wine from vineyard grapes at his farm's Bordeleau Winery. The measure marked a milestone in Wicomico agribusiness history, paving the way for the first county grape grower to sell self-bottled wine retail at his farm and host public wine-tasting events, said Clark P. Meadows, county zoning administrator.

"His winery is the first in the county that I know of and this is the first form of that use," Meadows said.

The measure, which Meadows anticipates Appeals Board Chairman J. Phillips Wright, Jr., to sign, would become final after a 30-window for citizen comment. "We had no opposition at the (public) hearing and we don't expect any," he said. "A couple of people who called from the community were supportive."

Permissions still must come from federal and state agencies, and Shelton also intends to apply for a license that would allow him to distribute his wine products to licensed retailers.

The proposal mirrors the vision of the Wicomico County Comprehensive Plan that, during a 2002 revision, was expanded to include an agribusiness special exception provision for property zoned for Agriculture 1 usage, Meadows said.

"This is consistent with the goals and direction of the comprehensive plan for diverse businesses, potential exporters of goods and the provider of income," he said. "It creates diversity in agricultural usage in the county."

According to 2003 data from the Peninsula Wine Institute, an agriculture cooperative for the region's grape growers and enthusiasts, a one-acre vineyard on average could produce three tons of grapes, or between $1,200 a ton or $3,600 an acre.

Family farms on the Lower Shore are on a rapid decline, with a loss rate of more than 30 percent between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s, according to the Department of Agriculture. And Kevin Atticks, executive director at the Maryland Wineries Association, said Shelton could anchor Maryland's wine industry as an alternative agribusiness in the region.

"It would help foster a wine tourism industry, and begin the process of converting more land into vineyards," Atticks said Friday, and counted 23 licensed wineries in the state. Shelton, one of about 40 grape growers in the region, would be among four statewide expected to be licensed this year, he added.

The Bordeleau facility would be family-operated, offering wine by the bottle from a retail shop in the 6,400 square-foot winery on a 4.5-acre spread southwest of Allen and close to the Somerset County line. The business also would house a tasting room, and Shelton envisions special tasting events against the rural backdrop of mostly farmland off the Wicomico Creek that includes two vineyards and open space.

The business would be a trendy alternative for out-of-town shoppers, said Sandy Fulton, director of the Wicomico tourism division that annually hosts the county Autumn Wine Festival.

"To have our own winery is like putting us on top of the mountain," Fulton said Friday. "We are not a destination for travelers, and with conventions, we could arrange to tour the winery. It is an absolute dream come true."

For now, Shelton tends his grapes -- 726 vines per acre and spread over 10-foot rows.

"It's a lot of work," he said. "I started planting in 1999, and I'm pretty excited. I wasn't sure that I'd like to do it; I was feeling my way through."

Wines bottled before all permits and licenses are granted would not qualify for retail sale, and since the aging process typically requires between six months and a year, and it could be summer again before consumers sip the season's harvest, Shelton said.

He is hopeful, though, that a Bordeleau sauvignon blanc that requires less aging will be ready, although a bit "green," for the October wine festival.

And so is Fulton.

"We have 14 wineries registered at the festival this year, and all are from out of town," she said. "(Shelton) would be No. 15 and the first one from our county. To have a local grower attending, I'm ecstatic."

About the 4th Annual Wicomico County Autumn Wine Festival

Where: Pemberton Historical Park, off Nanticoke Road outside Salisbury

When: Oct. 21 and 22

Information: To participate, visit

Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia Herald Mail Annonces Maryland Grape Growing Grants

Tuesday August 8, 2006
Grants available for wine, grape growing

ANNAPOLIS - The Governor's Advisory Commission on Maryland Wine and Grape Growing is seeking grant proposals through the Maryland Wine and Grape Promotion Fund.

In all, $147,000 is available this year to organizations to promote the production of wine-grapes and consumption of Maryland wine throughout the state.

The funds may only be used for marketing, research, advertising, retail/festival promotions, activities that promote the growing of wine grapes, and educational seminars.

To apply or to get more information, go to Maryland Department of Agriculture's Web site at

Vino Virginia! Orlando Sentinel Raves About Virginia Wines

Vino Virginia!
Visitors blend a taste for history and grapes on the trail of the state's wineries.
Roger Moore | Sentinel Staff Writer
Posted August 20, 2006

That original, celebrated "Virginia Is for Lovers" tourism campaign never mentioned grapes.

Ocean lovers, mountain lovers, history lovers, yes.

But make room for wine lovers. The Old Dominion -- first among the 13 original American colonies; mother of presidents and home to Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe -- is now among the top wine-producing states, with more than 100 wineries.

They range from the quaint and cute Tomahawk Mill Winery -- a decommissioned water-powered grist mill south of Chatham slowly being converted into a tasting room and shops -- to the tourist-centered Chateau Morrisette on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

They're opening throughout the state, but most are concentrated in the Blue Ridge Mountains -- where the television show The Waltons was set -- creating a gorgeous drive between tastings.

And lest you fear the Sideways derision of your favorite wine snob, remember that many Virginia vintages have earned praise from the snob's snobs at Wine Spectator. That includes a "solidly built" merlot from Jefferson Vineyards that received a rating of 87 (out of 100), or any number of highly rated cabernets from Barboursville Vineyards, one earning an 88.

Merlot and Monticello

Because the wineries are near many of the state's famous historic sites, an oenophile can easily squeeze in a few tastings between trips to shrines to the fathers of our country. Thomas Jefferson -- statesman, writer, inventor and wine lover -- is a magnet for the best of both worlds. Near the university he designed and the famous home he built are the 17 wineries of the Monticello Wine Trail.

Twisting, narrow mountain roads lead past hobby farms and getaways for the wealthy and D.C.-connected, small estates with names such as Skunk Ridge Farm and Fiddletop. At the end of many of these paved goat trails, vineyards climb the slopes of this peak or that as the rest of the Blue Ridge Mountains frame them in "Take that, Napa Valley" splendor.

"Good wine is a necessity of life," Jefferson once wrote. The third president, one-time ambassador to France, loved his wine, and took a shot or two at transplanting French vines to his estates. He never succeeded, but later generations learned to graft the vines onto the root systems of hardy native Virginia grapes.

Jefferson Vineyards is next to Monticello and just a wine-cork's toss from lesser-known Ash Lawn, home of the less celebrated but almost-as-accomplished Virginian James Monroe. Even closer is the historic Michie Tavern, a Revolutionary-era dining and drinking establishment open for tours and meals.

The Jefferson Vineyards winery, established in 1981, was originally named Simeon, for a nearby crossroads. The Jefferson name was taken up, a helpful tour guide informs us during our visit, when the owners realized that the guardians of the Jefferson-Monticello empire had never copyrighted the famous man's famous signature.

But because Jefferson once owned the land the 30 acres of vineyards are on, and tried to grow grapes there, this seems fair.

"Wine-making here in Virginia," the guide tells us, "is basically a hobby." None of the wineries we visited could be called a huge commercial enterprise, although Barboursville has impressive production numbers and ambition.

Of celebrations, scenery

Down the rack-and-pinion workout better known as Route 720 is the 63-acre First Colony Winery, which, like many of these wineries, has fermenting vats and aging barrels in a barnlike building next to its tasting room. It's a relatively new winery that already is managing solid reds. It has outdoor picnic and reception areas suitable for a favorite Virginia winery sideline -- hosting weddings.

The best place for a wedding might be the cavernous two-level tasting room-bar of the swank Veritas Vineyard & Winery, which has picnic areas and a wrap-around porch. This 25-acre operation west of Charlottesville is one of several wineries worth stopping by after taking in the marvels of Mr. Jefferson's university, the University of Virginia.

The views are wonderful, and songbirds fill the property's oaks and hickories as we sip a few winning reds. This would be the place to hit near lunchtime.

Save Jefferson, First Colony and others to the east for the afternoon, and start with a run of power-tastings at a group of wineries clustered in a small area -- seven within a few minutes' drive of one another. Wintergreen is adjacent to the Virginia resort of the same name. Afton Mountain Vineyards sits close to a mountaintop and is open early -- at 10 a.m. -- with Mountain Cove and DelFosse Vineyards just down the next country road.

Oakencroft, White Hall, Stone Mountain, Horton Cellars, Keswick Vineyards and Hill Top Berry Farm & Winery all are tucked into Jefferson's old grape-stomping grounds.

Army vet's vineyard

Although almost every winery offers a tour, the one we found most rewarding came at the least pretentious winery of all, Cardinal Point, in Afton.

It was started by Paul Gorman, an Army vet who served in Bad Kreuznach in Germany's Rhine wine country. It's no shock that this unassuming vineyard does a decent Riesling.

For most of its 20 years, Cardinal Point produced grapes for neighboring wineries. But now it bottles its own. A 15-minute video that you watch on a balcony overlooking stacks of oak barrels takes you through the winemaker's year, season by season -- from the care and pruning of vines to the day the tractor-trailer with rented bottling gear shows up.

Overall, there's a charming lack of pretension to these wineries. The servers are informed, even if many seemed to be scion of the owners, home from college for the summer.

An abandoned billboard for a long-gone Walton's Mountain side attraction points to Schuyler, where TV and film writer Earl Hamner grew up and drew his Waltons inspiration. The Waltons are gone and almost forgotten, and perhaps Virginia's wine mania will fade as well. Still, this is a great excuse to see one of the prettiest regions in America. And remember, John-Boy never would have turned up his nose at a Virginia merlot.,0,7100024.story?coll=orl-travel-headlines-print

2006 Wine and Food Classic winners: Herman J. Weimer wins best white wine and Governor's Cup: Dr. Konstantin Frank wins Best Winery of 2006!

The New York Wine and Food Classic was held between August 15-16. Lots of winners to report and congratulate!

The biggest winner of the show was Herman J. Wiemer. Their reisling won best white wine and the Governor's Cup, meaning it was named best wine in the show.

"Since 2000, Finger Lakes Rieslings have won the contest every year except 2005 (when the winner was a Vidal Blanc dessert wine). These successes have strengthened the view that the region has become one of the world's great Riesling terroirs," wrte Howard G. Goldberg for Decanter magazine.

The next highest honor went to Dr. Konstantin Frank's Vinifera Wine Cellars, from Keuka Lake. They were declared Winery of the Year! on the basis of total number of medals accumulated in the contest.

Finger Lakes winners included the following:

Sparkling wine: Chateau Frank's 2000 Blanc de Noirs

Semi-sweet Riesling: Chateau LaFayette Reneau's 2005

Gewürztraminer: Dr. Konstantin Frank's Vinifera Wine Cellars' 2005, which tied with Corey Creek Vineyards' 2005 from Long Island

Cabernet Sauvignon: Chateau LaFayette Reneau's 2002

Pinot Noir: Chateau LaFayette Reneau's 2002

Other winners include (from Long Island):

Cabernet Franc: Jamesport Vineyards' 2004, voted best overall red

Chardonnay: Corey Creek's 2005 reserve

Merlot: Peconic Bay Winery's 2001

Late-harvest Chardonnay: Wölffer Estate's 2005, best dessert wine.

From the Lake Erie region:

Semi-dry Riesling: Mazza Chautauqua Cellars' 2005

A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and ... MUSIC

New Jersey Daily Record report.....
August 18, 2006
Ellen S. Wilkowe
Four Sisters provides the wine and music; the bread is up to you

It doesn't get any more Jersey Fresh than this: HomeGrown Radio NJ and Four Sisters Winery will pour on the music and wines Aug. 19 at the HomeGrown Wine and Music Fest in White Township.

The fully loaded fest goes down at 11 a.m. at the Four Sisters Winery at Matarazzo Farms. Cost is $15 in advance, $20 at the door, and includes live performances and wine tasting. Suds heads will cheer for the truck bearing beer. Proceeds from brew sales will benefit Global Reach International, a not-for-profit charity that promotes sustainable development and funds orphanages in Southeast Asia.

The festival is a first for the nearly 2-year-old listener-supported Internet radio station that presents an entourage of live independent musicians, the core of HomeGrown's existence, along with a say-and-play-what-you-want philosophy implemented by its volunteer staff.

"We want local and independent artists to be heard without fear of program directors," said HomeGrown Radio spokersperson Kathy Cameron. "All our DJs self-produce their own programs."

A long-term goal for HomeGrown founder Todd Mills, the music festival seemed a natural fit this year, given the hiatus of the neighboring Knowlton Riverfest, an 11-year free-for-all music festival along the banks of the Delaware River. Co-sponsored by the Warren County Cultural and Heritage Commission and the New Jersey Council on Arts, Knowlton Riverfest also provided a platform for independent artists, many of whom will perform Saturday.

HomeGrown was launched into cyberspace on Mischief Night 2004 with 12 broadcast revolutionists who support independent musicians and unrestricted play lists.

Since its inception the Frelinghuysen Township-based studio is home to 45 programs and an expanding audience rooted in New Jersey and reaching overseas to England, France and Switzerland, Cameron said.

"We started with 12 DJs and now we have 55," said Cameron.

John Major of Hampton, host of the "Railroad Earth Happy Hour," is one of them. Born into the HomeGrown Radio family, Major's Thursday night show exclusively plugs the music of Railroad Earth, a five-year-old bluegrass jam band from Northwest New Jersey, with four CDs and a national following.

As the band's archivist, Major spotlights Railroad Earth's extensive recording catalog and spotlights side projects exclusive to Railroad Earth band members.

Railroad Earth's lead singer and acoustic guitarist Todd Sheaffer is expected to perform solo Saturday. Despite his namesake show, Sheaffer has been a HomeGrown fan since its inception. "It's a community-minded station," he said.

Fresh off a national tour in support of the January release of "Elko," Railroad Earth is gearing up for another recording session. Saturday's performance will be one of several scheduled through October before they hibernate in the studio.

Live studio broadcasts are a natural for independent artists like RailRoad Earth and HomeGrown Radio. Two-time Grammy-winning John Ginty, formerly of The Robert Randolph Family Band and Blind Boys of Alabama, has also graced the studio with live performances, as well.

A Morristown native who claims to have inherited his grandmother's "gospel gene," Ginty has toured with Santana, Bad Religion, Jewel, Matthew Sweet, Sheryl Crow and Citizen Cope, to name a few.

Last October, The John Ginty Band released a double-CD, "Fireside Live," on its own label, Shark Attack Record. The nine-track collaboration was recorded at The Fireside in Denville. It features original songs as well as covers like Santana's "Savor," the blues classic "Done Somebody Wrong" and "Gospel Jam," a jam of spiritual songs including "When The Saints Go Marching In" and "I'll Fly Away."

Capitalizing on some post-show down time, Ginty is happy to jam on the low-key festival circuit. "I like the family vibe," he said. "Festivals are a much more creative atmosphere than a smoky club."

Ginty is gearing up for a three-month tour with Citizen Cope that starts with a performance on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" on Sept. 8.

Other artists at the music fest include singer/songwriter Brett Mitchell, Brit popsters Locksley, world percussion by Marifanyi, jazz fusion from Peter Biedermann and the funky female folk duo Folk by Association.

Internationally acclaimed children's musician Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou (a.k.a. Daria) will provide a hands-on, jam-on opportunity for children.

Multilingual queen Daria plays just as many multi-cultured instruments as languages she speaks.

Hailing from Latin America, the cajon, for example, is a fun and functional square drum made from dresser drawers or shipping crates. And yes, you can try this at home.

"In third world nations, music is part of a community," she said. "The instruments are first demonstrated and then the children can play (them)."

Daria will implement this do-as-I-play scenario in the children's tent. Be sure to ask her about the didgeridoo, shekere, and have the little ones wrap their hands around the more familiar rainstick.

In addition to sampling the melting pot of music, there are 27 wines such as the Warren Hills Red and White, Cayuga and Niagra, and Beaver Creek Red, awaiting your discriminating palate.

Plus two out of four sisters, Sadie and Melissa, daughters of owner "Matty" Matarazzo, are expected to pop by their namesake vineyard. "(Robin) is celebrating her one-year wedding anniversary so she is forgiven," Matarazzo joked.

In keeping with the homegrown theme and expected festival-inspiring weather, Matarazzo said to expect a sangria or wine spritzer.

Ellen S. Wilkowe can be reached at (973) 428-6662 or

Jersey Fresh a Great Success

Held at Hopewell Valley Vineyards, the Jersey Fresh Festival was a resounding success.

Participating wineries included Alba Vineyard, Finesville; Amalthea Cellars, Atco; Amwell Valley Vineyard, Ringoes; Bellview Winery, Landisville; Cream Ridge Winery, Cream Ridge; DiMatteo Vineyards & Winery, Hammonton; Four Sisters Winery, Belvidere; Heritage Vineyards of Richwood, Richwood; Hopewell Valley Vineyards, Pennington; Silver Decoy Winery, Robbinsville; Sylvin Farms, Germania; Renault Winery, Egg Harbor Township; Tomasello Winery, Hammonton; Unionville Vineyards, Ringoes; and Valenzano Winery, Shamong.

Along with all the great abundance of other Jersey Fresh products, and local restuarants, this was a tremendous wine and food festival. A lot of fun!!!