Saturday, December 27, 2008

Channel 36 (Albany) Reports NY State Wine Industry Could Face Cuts

State Wine Industry Could Face Cuts (SEE VIDEO BELOW)
Ted Fioraliso

December 26, 2008

WATKINS GLEN -- Continuing coverage now of Governor David Paterson's proposed budget, and its effects on the Southern Tier -- the state's lucrative wine industry could see funding cuts and higher taxes.
The governor wants to nearly triple the excise tax on wine, from 19-cents to 51-cents per gallon.
Seneca Lake Winery Association executive director Paul Thomas says the proposal is frustrating, but it's not as devastating as the governor's proposal to eliminate most of the spending for promoting the sale of wine, grapes, and apples. The New York Wine and Grape Foundation is responsible for the industry's promotions -- they've developed marketing campaigns like "Uncork New York.”
“Having them be completely drained of their public funding will definitely adversely impact the growth curve we've enjoyed the past several years,” said Thomas. “[But] it does not impact our ability to survive and thrive quite frankly. We're going to keep doing what we do."
Thomas says business on the Seneca Lake trail this year was about the same as in 2007.


Wine Spectator Reports: New York Grocery Stores to Carry Wine?

New York Eyes Wine in Grocery Stores
Governor's budget includes a proposal to allow wine sales in supermarkets; liquor store owners object

Mitch Frank
Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Yorkers may finally be able to buy Chardonnay and brie at the same time in their local supermarket if a provision in Gov. David Paterson's budget passes the state legislature. As part of a laundry list of proposals for closing a $15.4 billion deficit, Paterson has proposed legalizing wine sales in grocery and convenience stores.

READ THE WHOLE STORY AT:,1197,4763,00.html

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Taste of Nantucket Artisanship in Pawtucket

So, I had a meeting today in Pawtucket with the fine folks from Hasbro. We discussed many new book ideas and come up with some really good concepts.

To get there and back, I had to drive from our farm in upstate New York. It was the easiest route. Unfortunately, we are in the middl of an ice storm. It's beautiful...but I am haunted that ice storms are sometimes tragic, like in the novel and movie The Ice Storm (Kevin Klein, Sigourney Weaver, Toby McGuire, Nina Ricci, and many others.

So, since I arrived early, I decided to stop at this giant liquor warehouse, and see if they had any local wines. I trolled and found a few.

When my meeting was over, I called my wife on the cell, and she told me to be careful, because of the ice. For sure, the ride home was slow and agonizing. It was cold and raw.

I found a wine I opened...Nantucket Vineyard Merlot 2004. I was curious.

According to their website, "Located in the pastoral heart of Nantucket on the way to Cisco Beach , Nantucket Vineyard was established in 1981 by Dean and Melissa Long. Next year marks the 25 th anniversary of our vineyard and we hope you'll join us in person to celebrate this special occasion."

The cool part about these folks is that they also distill spiritis and make beer. They're the classic "triple threat."

"Part of the mission along the way has been to educate consumers about the production process involved – now islanders and visitors alike have had their consciousness expanded in regard to our fine hand-made libations."

As to wine, they write, "Combining old world techniques with state of the art technology Dean Long's selections include unique and delicious wines that you won't find anywhere else. No longer restricted by the islands geography and climate, Dean now finds the best grapes in the given year, and the wines are better than ever."

So I am even more curious now. I am sitting with a big bowl of pipping hot penne with arabiata sauce and meatballs. The steam is rising from the bowl as the plow trucks rumble by outside. The wine has a pleasant aroma. A nice scent of oakiness. In reading the label, one finds out that these merlot grapes were grown in Washington state, but the wine was made here. And a lovely pluminess to it's deep, red color. A nice drinking red.

Of course, they're located on Nantucket. But if this wine is any indicator, there's a lot to look forward to on our next visit to that island. We'll want to tatse the Nantucket Vineyards line of wines, as well as their line of fine ales (sold in champagne bottle like French farm house ciders or fine Belgian ales to be cellared), and their distilled spirits from the Triple Eight Distillery including vodka and rum.

This was a nice wine and we are most intrigued. And kudos to these folks for the Trple Treat combination.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Greensboro News-Record Raves About Westbend Nouveau

Uncorked: Westbend's Nouveau beats the French red
Wednesday, December 3 (updated 3:00 am)
By Ed Williams
Special to the News & Record Related Links

The whole Nouveau est arrive' thing from France is so wearisome I let it pass for Thanksgiving. Watered down and downright funky -- think Bazooka Bubblegum and electric Kool-Aid with a pinch of Silly Putty -- this red has the shelf life of a sand gnat.

Need proof? What's $11 today is $5 in late January. And then it really goes south for the winter.

But I do love the Gamay grape.

Westbend Vineyards in Lewisville has just released its 2008 Nouveau, complete with a kind of '70s retro label that may (or may not) be spoofing the ubiquitous Georges DuBoeuf flower label.

I wish Westbend had ditched the retro look and the whole "Nouveau" tie-in because this red -- fruity and slightly medium-bodied -- could stand on its own, simply stated as Gamay on the label.

Westbend Vineyards pioneered French varietals in North Carolina -- and one of the earliest vines planted there was Gamay. Few Tarheel wineries have followed suit with this grape.

All of which adds to Westbend's pioneer reputation. Winemaker Mark Terry did a nice job bumping up color and complexity by adding in 15 percent Merlot. Still, even at that blending level, this showcases Gamay in all its glory.

With only 90 cases produced, I'm guessing you'll need visit there to pick this one up. Information:

Read more at:

Press of Atlantic City Promotes Local Wineries

Enjoying wine doesn't need to be a daunting task, say local experts
By COURTNEY McCANN Staff Writer, 609-272-7219
Published: Sunday, November 16, 2008

It's easy for diners to be confident when ordering their favorite domestic beer, or a common cocktail that every bartender knows how to prepare.
Hand them a wine list, though, and all confidence goes out the window. The average diner tends to be less than well-educated when it comes to pairing wine with their meals, or knowing how to serve it.

According to Marco Bucchi, winery-operations manager at the Renault Winery in Galloway Township, there are an average of 10,000 new wines released each year, adding to what's already out there. More choices only mean more confusion.

"Many end up picking (one) because the label looks good, which is, of course, totally random and nothing to do with the nose or taste of the wine," Bucchi says. "Your restaurant sommelier can help, but they could lean towards the steeper-priced vintages."

To avoid turning ordering a glass of wine into a major ordeal, it's important to educate yourself about the wines that are available to you and the things you should or should not be doing to enjoy them.

Go local
The first thing Bucchi says you should know when learning about wine is that a vintage doesn't need to hail from California or France to be good.

Southern New Jersey vineyards are holding their own and offering some excellent options for wine drinkers, he says.

According to Bucchi, the climate in central and southern New Jersey is very conducive to growing several types of grapes.

Area farmers have taken it upon themselves to expand their knowledge of grape growing over the past several decades.

"South Jersey wines are keeping pace with the new wines from many areas of the world," Bucchi claims. "Australia has its Shiraz (grape), and southern New Jersey has its Cynthiana or Norton."

So when scanning the wine list, keep your eye out for wines from local vineyards like the Renault Winery, the Cape May Winery, [Turdo Vineyards], and Tomasello's Winery in Hammonton, just to name a few.

Ordering out

Few things are more embarrassing than stumbling over the wine list at a fancy restaurant.

Try following these tips you find yourself on the spot.

No red and white rules: The old adage is "red wine with red meat and white wine with poultry or fish." But feel free to give yourself some wiggle room when it comes to that. A salmon dish can be paired with a red wine just as easily as a steak.

"With a broadened variety of wines and blends, the wines have become more complex," says Bucchi. "They have expanded their capabilities of what they can be successfully paired with."

Weight: Keep the weight your entree and wine balanced so one doesn't overpower the other.

A thick steak with onions and mushrooms would go best with a heavy red wine, while white fish would be best paired with a light white wine.

Glass half full: Don't allow your server to fill your wine glass to the top, advises John Mahoney, a wine educator and a Buena Vista Township native.

Instruct the server to fill the glass halfway so you can swirl the wine and oxygenate it to make the drink more refreshing.

No hard alcohol: You've heard of no swimming for 30 minutes after eating. Well, don't try a new wine immediately after downing a martini. The hard alcohol numbs your palate, making wine tasting impossible. Bucchi recommends waiting 20 minutes between cocktails and wine.

Don't go cheap: In light of today's economy, it's tempting to go with the cheapest wine on the menu. But according to Mahoney, these wines have the highest markup. A $21 glass of wine may only be worth about $5.99.

"Pick a wine right in mid-range," Mahoney advises. "That way, you're getting your money's worth."

Wine at home

Serving wine at home can be almost as nerve-wracking as ordering wine at a restaurant, especially if you have guests. As the host, the success of the meal depends on you making good wine choices.

Start with bubbles: No matter what wine you are serving with dinner, give your guests a glass of champagne to help cleanse their palate.

"When people come in you don't know what they had for lunch, what they snacked on or if they're chewing gum," Mahoney says.

Don't worry about dropping $50 on a bottle of French champagne. A $10 bottle of Cava, a Spanish sparkling wine, is just as good.

Choices, choices: Offer a red and a white wine with dinner. Each guest's palate is different, and it may change over the course of the meal, depending on the main course.

Pour early: Pour the wine before your guests sit down to dinner. It gives the wine time to breathe, and plus you won't be leaning over people trying to pour while they start their meal.

Get smart: Even if you think you have a good grasp on wine, keep educating yourself. Mahoney recommends trying a different wine every time you go out to eat. Also, keep an eye out for wine tastings and classes. The Renault, for example, offers wine education classes that address the different type of wines available and how they are made.

Charlottesville News & Arts Celebrates Virginia Winemaker Brad McCarthy

Don't call it a comeback
The rise and fall and rise of Brad McCarthy
Charlottesville Arts & News
Issue #20.49 :: 12/02/2008 - 12/08/2008

Brad McCarthy’s current state is what you might call scattered. He’s a hard man to keep on topic sometimes, one of those hyperactive types who tend to talk with the rhythm of a pinball machine. On top of which right now he’s driving his white BMW at a fairly high rate of speed from one corner of Albemarle County to another, checking on his far-flung wines. McCarthy is making his new wine, called Bradford Reed, at three different wineries, begging and borrowing to get the operation off the ground. “Do you have any idea,” he asks me, “of the economics of my plan?”

McCarthy’s life plays kind of like a rap song.

Part I: Local boy uses skills to get out of the projects. MC McCarthy moved here at the age of 2 and was working in a restaurant at 21 when he fell in love with wine. An ad in The Daily Progress led to a job helping in the cellar at now dead Montdomaine, one of the

Crash into success: Brad McCarthy’s career got
a boost when in 1991 he was asked by his old friend Dave Matthews to be the winemaker/part owner of his new business, Blenheim Vineyards.

area’s top wineries in the ’80s. He worked a year at Acacia Vineyard in California before coming back to Virginia and scoring a gig as the first winemaker at White Hall Vineyards. Medals were won, a career was launched.

Part II: Local boy becomes a star. In 1999, his old friend Dave Matthews asked McCarthy to be the winemaker/part owner of his new business, Blenheim Vineyards. Success ensued—write-ups in major magazines, his name on the label.

Part III: Creative differences (and a settlement stipulating that he and they cannot talk about those differences). The star (winemaker) parts ways with his record label (winery) and brings it all back home with nothing but his BMW and his love of music. “I was 40 years old and feeling burnt out,” McCarthy says of his time at Blenheim.

Part IV: Here we go again.

McCarthy is driving around in his sedan/coupe/convertible checking on his wine. Here are what he calls the economics of his plan. First to Virginia Wineworks to pick up some cases of the 2006 Merlot and Meritage he made at Michael Shaps’ rent-a-winery, the sale of which will help pay for the 2008 Riesling and Chardonnay he has fermenting in borrowed tanks at First Colony Winery. Then it’s over to the new Montfair winery where his Cab Franc sits in barrels. It’s all done through favors and trade. “My landlord is a de facto investor,” he says, which I take to mean he’s been a little late with the rent.

Brad McCarthy is a winemaker without a winery and that fact seems to scare him and excite him simultaneously. “I put my heart into it,” he says one night, smoking American Spirits and pouring his own Merlot. “I’m not just going up to a cubicle every day. Every moment I spend, every vintage I spend, is very precious. I’m 42. I don’t have that many left in me.” Spoken like a true rap star, albeit one whose hair is mad scientist messy and whose demeanor is more manic indie rock star than smooth hip-hop artist.

McCarthy pulls the bimmer into Jefferson Vineyards, where he’s been helping out winemaker Andy Reagan for a little pocket money. Dragging hoses, fetching supplies, etc. There is a lot of good-natured ribbing of the guy with 21 years winemaking experience doing the jobs he used to pawn off to assistants. “You guys just come in and see me working and say, ‘Oh, how the mighty has fallen,’” McCarthy says, acknowledging in the same breath that he is both destitute and a star.

“Fetch me a paper towel,” Reagan replies.

read the whole article at:

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Locaopour is East Coast Wineries Word of the Year for 2009

Locapour is a word describing someone who drinks wine from a local radius, whatever that self-imposed restriction is, in order to support local farming and economy. The word is based on the word locavore.

A locavore is someone who eats food grown or produced locally or within a certain radius such as 50, 100, or 150 miles. The locavore movement encourages consumers to buy from farmers’ markets or even to produce their own food, with the argument that fresh, local products are more nutritious and taste better. Locally grown food is an environmentally friendly means of obtaining food, since supermarkets that import their food use more fossil fuels and non-renewable resources.

"Locavore" was coined by Jessica Prentice from the San Francisco Bay Area on the occasion of World Environment Day 2005 to describe and promote the practice of eating a diet consisting of food harvested from within an area most commonly bound by a 100 mile radius. "Localvore" is sometimes also used.

The New Oxford American Dictionary chose locavore, a person who seeks out locally produced food, as its word of the year 2007.[6] The local foods movement is gaining momentum as people discover that the best-tasting and most sustainable choices are foods that are fresh, seasonal, and grown close to home. Some locavores draw inspiration from the The 100-Mile Diet or from advocates of local eating like Barbara Kingsolver whose book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle chronicles her family's attempts to eat locally. Others just follow their taste buds to farmers' markets, community supported agriculture programs, and community gardens.

"[The] Locapour trend seems to be accelerating despite the country’s economic woes and dismal outlook, according to a recent report from The Nielsen Company which tracks alcohol beverage sales nationally," saysJim Tresize of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation. "There are several reasons for optimism: Despite the troubling economy, U.S. consumers are generally reluctant to cut back on beer, spirits, and especially wine, making it somewhat recession-resistant compared with other products. American wines have become more price-competitive because of recent changes in currency exchange rates, forcing importers to raise their prices. In tough economic times, Americans are psychologically more inclined to support local and U.S. products, and domestic wines are now growing more rapidly than imports. Wines from outside of California have also been gaining market share, reflecting the locapour trend. Unless the economy really tanks in the next few weeks, it is likely that consumers will consider wine an affordable indulgence for the holidays."

No matter the economic disaster ahead of us, and it seems we get bombarded with our own impending doom daily, locapour is my new word for the year 2009


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Trenton Times Celebrates New Jersey Wineries

Happy trails again
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The Trenton Times

Wine lovers who are California dreaming can get a taste of the West Coast by visiting the region's newest vineyard, which at first blush appears to be a slice of the Napa Valley dropped down into New Jersey.

Upscale and beautiful, solar- powered Laurita Winery is located just outside of New Egypt, not far from Silver Decoy Winery in Rob binsville and Cream Ridge Winery in Cream Ridge. Laurita opened in September and officially becomes part of the Garden State Wine Growers Association's wine trail during this week's Holiday Wine Trail Weekend.

While most of us spent this week thinking about or planning Thanksgiving dinner, the folks at most of the state's wineries have been gearing up for the annual holiday wine trail. Each Thanksgiving weekend they throw open their doors and offer special tastings, tours and discounts to entice customers to buy local wines for the holiday season.

Laurita will be participating in its first Wine Trail Weekend and its name has been added to the latest version of the New Jersey Wine Country Passes available at wineries throughout the state. Visitors can see the new winery as well as hike the trails there and taste wines that have garnered a following from pre-opening appearances at state wine festivals.

Other local wineries that are participating include Silver Decoy, Cream Ridge, Hopewell Valley Vineyard in Hopewell Township, Unionville Vineyards in Ringoes, Valenzano Vineyard in Shamong and Alba Vineyard in Finesville.

The new wine country passes feature an all-time high of 30 participating vineyards, said Mark Carduner, one of the partners at Silver Decoy. He said anyone looking to have their passes stamped could hit all three of the wineries at the edge of the Pine Barrens on one day. The wine growers' association lists 33 members; another 10 wineries are making wines al though they are not yet open to the public.

Read more at:

Glouster Daily Times Promotes ast Coast Wineries for the Holidays

Published: November 26, 2008 05:05 am
Look 'outside the box' for a Thanksgiving vintage
Taste of Our Cape
Cathy Huyghe
Glouster Daily Times

Wine at Thanksgiving usually means just-released Beaujolais Nouveau, or an earthy Pinot Noir, or a fuller-bodied white like Chardonnay, or an aromatic, food-friendly white like Gewúrztraminer or Riesling.

But this year, we're seeing the price of Beaujolais Nouveau skyrocketing and the demand tanking — so much so that several local wine shops I consulted won't even be carrying this most popular vin de primeur.

This year too, with a budget holiday season on the horizon and culturally-influenced dishes criss-crossing the dinner table more than ever before — Moroccan-spiced plantain chips, anyone, or jalapeño cranberry sauce? — Thanksgiving in America has never looked less Norman Rockwell-ish.

What a relief!

The expectations, such as they are, for what usually happens at Thanksgiving are in such flux this year that there has never been a better time — never a better holiday - to think outside the box when it comes to what to pour with dinner.

Take price point. Thanksgiving is one of the biggest (often the biggest) holidays of the year for retailers, but we're all feeling the pinch in our wallets. The good news is that there's no need to spend some exorbitant amount of money for a bottle or two of wine, especially with so many fair-priced wines available that are also suitable pairings for any dish that comes your way.

Which brings us to the question of where the wine comes from.

The practice has traditionally been for Thanksgiving wines to be American since Thanksgiving is such a thoroughly American holiday. Nothing wrong there. But what if you took it even a step further and sought a local American wine — that is, one from Massachusetts or Rhode Island? The bonus is that you're likely to find values in local wines since they don't incur the transportation costs of, say, a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.

Nashoba Valley Winery in Bolton for example, produces several non-grape fruit wines that are, in fact, more historically similar to what would have been drunk at the very first Thanksgiving.

Award-winning sparkling wines from Westport Rivers winery make an excellent beginning or accompaniment to any course of the meal.

And Sakonnet Vineyard Vidal Blanc, from Little Compton, R.I., features many of the characteristics you're after with a Thanksgiving wine: higher acidity (whose structure allows it to stand up against the various and contrasting flavors of the food at the table), lower alcohol, crispness and acidity.

Read the rest at:

Wine Spectator Weighs in on Massachusetts's Direct Shipping Laws

Wine Shipping Restrictions in Massachusetts Ruled Unconstitutional
Both in- and out-of-state wineries may now ship directly to Massachusetts residents; volume caps struck down
Robert Taylor
Wine Spectator
Posted: Tuesday, November 25, 2008

After two years of legal wrangling, a federal judge struck down Massachusetts' direct shipping law this past week, ruling that the law's volume caps were discriminatory. The case could have a far-reaching impact on similar laws in other states.

After the Supreme Court's 2005 Granholm decision ruled that states cannot treat in- and out-of-state wineries differently when it comes to shipping rules, Massachusetts passed House Bill 4498. It was the first winery direct-shipping law to institute volume caps on wineries eligible to ship to residents, and it started a trend among state legislatures across the country. Direct-shipping laws with volume caps appear to treat in-state and out-of-state wineries equally, in compliance with Granholm, but typically prevent the vast majority of California, Oregon and Washington wineries from selling to residents by prohibiting shipping from wineries that produce more than a specified amount of wine each year. The legislature typically sets this volume cap slightly above the production level of the state's largest winery.

In her Nov. 19 Family Winemakers of California vs. Jenkins decision, United States District Court Judge Rya Zobel struck down the law, ruling that the volume caps were discriminatory. Zobel wrote in her decision, "The sequence of events leading up to the passage of [H.B. 4498] and the public comments of the bill's sponsor provide strong support for plaintiffs' assertion that [the bill] was designed to allow in-state wineries to continue direct shipping while forcing the majority of interstate wine to go through the three-tier system, thereby preserving the economic interests of both Massachusetts wholesalers and Massachusetts wineries."

read more at:,1197,4738,00.html

New York Times Features Hopkins Vineyards

I've been going to Hopkins Vineyards since they first opened. They are certainly one of the most popular wineries in Conncticut and they are a great success stoy.
Congrats to all of those at Hopkins and for all the wineries in Connecticut.

The Winemakers | Pasture to Vines
No Longer a Farm, but Still Hard at Work
Published: October 23, 2008
New York Times

Bill L. Hopkins of Hopkins Vineyards

ON a warm spring morning in 1979, the Hopkins family took delivery of thousands of young grapevines that would transform their 200-year-old farm here from making milk to making wine.

“I remembered it being a very difficult decision,” said Hilary H. Criollo, who was 13 at the time and helped her parents plant the first six acres of grapes. “I remember that the neighbors thought they were crazy.”

Her parents had considered the wine business for a few years because of two persistent challenges: a national energy crisis that made fuel for farm machinery expensive, and the worries of environmentalists that farm animal waste might pollute Lake Waramaug, a 680-acre tourist draw whose northern shore was below the farm.

When the state’s Farm Winery Act of 1978 passed, allowing winery owners to sell wine and conduct tastings rather than to make wine only for their own consumption, the Hopkinses saw a solution.

“We thought that we had the ideal slope and land for a vineyard,” said Bill L. Hopkins, 71, who with his wife, Judith W. Hopkins, 68, decided to use some acreage from pasture land. “No one else was doing it.”

Ms. Criollo, now 43 and president of Hopkins Vineyard, recalled sensing that her parents were preparing for a big change. Then came the day when they began to liquidate the 250 head of cattle and the dairy machinery to pay for vineyard equipment.

“The auction and seeing the selling of the machinery was kind of frightening,” Ms. Criollo said in an interview this month at the winery. “The other option was development. But we didn’t want to see a lot of condos here.”

Work on the vineyard began as soon as the plants were delivered, Ms. Criollo recalled. “Me and some of the neighborhood kids” did the planting, she said. It took a week to get all the plants into the soil of sandy loam and a touch of clay. The roots now go as deep as six feet.

Eventually, 11 types of grapes covered 30 acres of the 100-acre property. The winery, formerly a barn, produces 7,000 cases a year.

The property has been in the family since Elijah Hopkins founded the farm in 1787 after returning from fighting in the Revolutionary War, according to family records, which also trace the family line back to Stephen Hopkins, an Englishman who was a passenger on the Mayflower. In addition to dairy, the farm has produced tobacco, sheep, racehorses and grain.

The vineyard is just north of where Lake Waramaug makes an abrupt turn to the south toward Marks Hollow Point to drain into the East Aspetuck River.

Connecticut has at least 19 established vineyards, according to the Connecticut Farm Wine Development Council, which runs the Connecticut Wine Trail. Other winery associations in the New York region have established trails to help guide tourists among vineyards in the Hudson Valley, through New Jersey and on Long Island.

Hopkins Vineyard is in the federally designated Western Connecticut Highlands American Viticultural Area. The area includes all of Litchfield and parts of Fairfield, New Haven and Hartford Counties. The region has cool temperatures and features rolling hills and small mountains. The glacial schist and granite soils are appropriate for cabernet franc, chardonnay, merlot, pinot noir, seyval blanc and vidal blanc grapes, most of which are grown at Hopkins Vineyard.

Read the rest at:

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Nice Visit With New Land Pinot Noir 1998 and My Sister

So it's Thanksgiving, which finds me and the wife and kids in New Jersey, ready to entertain the family for turkey day. However, it is bittersweet. This might in fact be our last Thanksgiving at the house, and the double wammy is that my youngest sister, now thirty, has her own family obligations, and will not be joinging us for Thanksgiving (she's going over her in-laws - an arrangement her and my mother have come to).

I am especially crushed by this since she was born when I was a freshman at Notre Dame High School during Mr. WIlliam "Bill" Romano's World Geography Class, back in 1978. I changed many diapers when she was small.

She has sat right next to me for everything Thanksgiving for more than a decade. It will be strange not to have her by my side.

Last night she and her beau Bill came by to have pizza and hang out. I was especially happy to see her since she will be absent tomorrow. I wanted to open a bottle or two for her visit. Some pizza and spinach with garlic. A simple meal. Fresh baked apple pie for desert.

So I tramped on down to the cellar to see what I could find. I search and searched, and then Dominique pulled out a dust covered bottle, and asked, "What is this?" There was some disdain in he voice. Indeed, it was a bottle of 1998 Pinot noir from New Land Vineyards, now known as Nagy's New Land Vineyards.

I wasn't sure if the wine would stand up to time, so we picked another bottle for back up, and we returned upstairs.

I opened the bottle and beautiful aromas of vanilla and cherry wafted through the kitchen air. I poured the fist glass. The nose was even better. And then I looked at the wine. It was still a bright red at the center, but it had browned at the edges. Dominique was not sure. I rolled it around the glass and took sip.

Heaven. Another year and it would have made the turn to sherry. e it had stood up to 10 years againg, and the flavours were still bright, the acid perfect, and the fruit still forward, but the ending dry and smooth. and incedible experience.

What a nice surprise to offer my sister.

She came and we all sat down and chatted. Life. Children. Dogs. A long way from Bill Romano's World Geography Class, and I was both proud and sad. And I love her.

We all liked the wine and life was, if only for a moment, slowed down to just idle chit-chat and laughter. And a glass of classic, perfect, aged Pinot Noir. As it should be.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

THE WINE CLASSROOM Great New Blog on Wines Around the Mason-Dixon Line

The Wine Classroom

I found a great new blog that caters to the Mason Dixon Line...that's Pennsylvania and Maryland (Delaware and W. Virginia too most forget)for all those of you who forgot your early American history classes. It's call The Wine Classroom.

This is the ultimate resource for those looking for winery information, reviews, and news about Pennsylvania and Maryland wineries.

It's written by Paul Vigna, who writes of himself, "A reporter/editor who has picked grapes during harvest at Basignani Winery and looked forward to the barrel tasting and library sale at Woodhall Wine Cellars, both in Maryland, and bopped around the Uncork York and Brandywine Valley Wine Trails in Pennsylvania. Using this forum as almost a wine beat, educating others as I learn about wine, winemaking and the business of growing and then harvesting the grape." And all his articles are attributed to "The Wine Novice" I like this guy already!

Interesting, no?

While he dishes mostly on regional, he goes outside as well. But his main focus is local wines. That's great news who all who follow that region, as the wine news from there is vastly under reported. There are some wonderful wineries on both sides of the line in that region, from Chaddsford and Crossings to Va La and then down on into Maryland like Basignani, Woodhall and Elk Run, and others.

He's also got some great Thanksgiving Day wine suggestions....better get 'em while they available. This is the time of year when wineries run out!

Go see it for yourself!

Great going, Paul. And keep in touch!

p.s. e's hard to get a photo of....

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Friday night we had some company coming. Dominique made a fabulous cheese plate complete with two camemberts - Old Chatham Sheepherding Company and Real Amazing Food Company, and a Sprout Creek Eden, a semi-hard cheese which is wonderful. There were assorted rustic breads - walnut, raisin loaf and traditional sourdough. We decided on Cascade Mountain Winery Coueur De Lion

Cascade Mountain was founded in the spring of 1972 by the Wetmore family who pioneered the production of premium table wines on the eastern side of the Hudson River. Bill, along with his wife Margaret and their three children Charles, Michael and Joan, planted the vineyard in 1972, built the winery in 1977, and opened the restaurant in 1985.

Today, Cascade Mountain is a thriving business which features a full line of award-winning table wines and a highly rated restaurant. Customers come from all over the world to enjoy a few pleasant hours on top of the Berkshire foothills accompanied by some of the best food and wine to be found in the Hudson River Valley.

George Cafiero is the manager now at the winery. He's one of the hardest working guys in the Hudson Valley. He's a ubiqitous presence at farm markets an festivals from the Hudson Valley to the Finger Lakes.

This wine is a light-bodied, beautifully colored red. It's made in the Beaujolais style with soft, rounded berry flavors accented by peppery Cabernet Sauvignon to produce a velvet smooth finish. Great quality for the price. It's $14 per bottle. Great for Thanksgiving.

Congrats to Casecade Mountain Winery.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Saint Lawrence Red from Thousand Islands Winery

I hate sweet reds. Let me say that again so there's no mistaking it...I hate sweet reds.

However, this year, at the Desmond, I found something special - a sweet red I could drink. I thought it was actually drinkable. I thought it was really quite great.

The wine was Thousand Islands Winery Saint Lawrence Red. Saint Lawrence Red is a blend of carefully selected French Hybrid grapes. Great for burgers or chili, great for turkey for those who don't like dry reds, this was an excellent wine. Dark fruit. Solid alcohol. Very, very nice.

The Thousand Islands Winery is located in Jefferson County, New York. It is the most northern winery in New York State. The winery is located on a farm that was built in 1836. The farm was later owned and operated by Captain Massey and his wife Ida in the 1930's. Captain Massey was a famous Riverboat Captain. He owned a huge Great Lake Vessel that he eventually sold to the Department of Defence for the war effort during World War II.

Steve and Erika Conaway purchased the Farm in December 2002. Upon Steve's retirement from the military, they decided to create a winery in Alexandria Bay, NY.

Congrats to winery owner Steve Conaway and all the folks at Thousand Islands Winery.

Red Barn Winery Hearty Red

Another Desmond find!

Red Barn Winery opened May of 2004. It is located four miles North of the city of Syracuse in Liverpool, NY. Open Thursday thru Sunday 12 noon to 6 P.M.

Paul Martin is the sole owner and winemaker with decades of experience. Old world (European) winemaking experience and new winemaking techniques are incorporated to produce great wines. N.Y. State grapes and fruits are used exclusively. The 3000 sq. ft. winery is built around a “Turn of the Century” design. Tasting room # 1 is cozy, consisting of a fireplace, rocking chairs, couches and plank floors. Tasting room # 2is of the Western saloon style, high ceilings ( 25’), hand hewn beams, plank floors and antiques.

The Hearty Red is a very nie, solid, table red. Dry, with notes of cherry and vanilla. Nice!

Lafayette Reneau Riesling - Simply Awesome

At the recent Albany event at the Desmond, I had a chance to meet Chris Reno of Chateau Lafayette Reneau. I chatted with him for a while, and tasted some of the exciting new varietals. Always a personal favorite, I wanted to try their riesling.

The riesling did not disappoint. It had a wonderful nose and an excellent balance between fruit and acid. Still one of my favorite rieslings.

They also had an exquisite dry rieslign as well. Absolutely fabulous!

Buy many bottles in time for the holidays.


Wine & Spirits Magazine recently announced its Top 100 wineries in the world, and that included the first New York state winery to ever make this prestigious list — a list that has an amazing 22-year history.

Fox Run Vineyards on Seneca Lake will be featured with the others on the list in the November issue of Wine & Spirits.

Congratulations to Scott Osborn at the entrie crew over at Fox Run on this monumental achievment!

Pride of New York Harvest Fest 2008 @ Desmond

The Pride of New York Harvest Festival at the Desomond Hotel in Albany, New York was a wonderufl success. Many celebs of the New York wine world were seen walking the floor, including Hunt Country's Art Hunt, Fox Run's Scott Osborn, Matt Spacarelli of Benmarl, Chris Reno of Lafayette Reaneau, and many other winery owners and winemakers, as well as scurrying sales staffs.

Its been a good year for many wineries, and this event was a great mixture of New York gourmet foods and New York wine.

Scott Osborn

Art Hunt

Matt Spacarelli

Chris Reno

Lots of good reviews to follow!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Art Hunt and Hunt Country Wines

I am sure you are tired of me cooing over Hunt Country Vineyards. Since the mid-1980s, when I first discovered them at Union Square Park, in New York City, I have been fascinated by them. But my admiration for them comes from my respect for their improved quality over the years, and their incredible growth, both of which are a great example of what one can accomplish in east coast wine.

At the Goold's Apple Fest I had the opportunity to chat with Art, but a few days later my lap top crashed, and my photos and videos were seemingly lost. Now recovered, I have the photos, but not the video. And I can file my report.

I tasted several of their red wines, and was very, very impressed.

Meritage 2006 - A blend of Cab Sav, Cab Frabc, and Merlot. Aged 14 months in French oak, flavors. Very nice!

Merlot 2006 - Beautiful hints of vanilla has strong cherry and pepper. Very, very nice!

Alchemy - A combination of Franc, Cab Sav, and Noiret. Big black cherry flavors. Some hint of spice. Not too much oak. Very nice. A great food wine.

Here's a picture of Art and Donna Pinell, also of Hunt Country.

These are wonderful reds. Art and Hunt Country are hoping to lay to rest the myth that the Finger Lakes should stick to Reisling....and these reds definitively prove fine red wines can be made in the Finger Lakes region too!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Morris Zwick's Terrapin Station Winery is First Small Winery Wine-in-a-Box in East

Morris Zwick began his winemaking career small, learning the trade as a home winemaker, building his craft slowly through a mix of reading and interaction with other winemakers. With a background in chemical engineering, he improved his craft over twelve years before deciding to open his own winery, Terrapin Station, which is named after Maryland’s state reptile.

Before deciding to open a commercial winery, however, he began as a grape grower, planting his seven acres of vines in 2003. Today he grows several varieties, such as Traminette, Cayuga, Cabernet Franc and Vidal. He enjoys experimenting with new types of grapes such as St. Vincent, of which he is currently the only Maryland grape grower.

The most noticeable thing that sets his winery apart from other state wineries is the containers in which he sells his wine. He decided to try something new to the state of Maryland and began selling the state’s first quality boxed wine.

“They started out as a preventative measure against corked wine, but as I experimented with the design I realized all the advantages of boxed wines,” says Zwick. “They are much lighter than traditional wine bottles, are easy to pour for a single serving and are much easier to recycle.” In addition to all of these benefits, Terrapin Station Winery donates $1 from each purchase to help the diamondback terrapin, an endangered animal native to the Chesapeake Bay.

His greatest challenge has been overcoming the stereotype that boxed wines are poor quality, but says companies like Black Box Wines and Banrock Station have begun to push the idea of quality boxed wine.

“I think what Morris is doing is innovative and fun and he is really helping to pioneer the way for new winemaking techniques in Maryland’s growing wine industry.” says Mark Emon from St. Michaels Winery.

Go to their website and see it all for yourself:

Maryland Wine Association Celebrates 25 Years

Maryland's wine and commercial grape industry members gathered on November 3, 2008 to celebrate the Maryland Wineries Association's 25th Anniversary, and to honor special guests.

Nearly 100 winery proprietors, commercial grape growers and guests enjoyed dinner, tasting each others' wines and talking about the progress the industry has made over the last 25 years.

Many of the founding members of the Wineries Association were on-hand to discuss the challenges they faced during the formative years of the industry. The industry's newcomers were treated to tastings from library wines from wineries present and past—including early bottlings of Catoctin Winery and Byrd Vineyards.

MWA Executive Director Kevin Atticks presented "Friend of the Industry" awards to four individuals and "The Gnarled Vine Award" to a couple who has had a major impact in the Maryland wine/grape industry.

MWA "Friend of the Industry" recipients
Steve McHenry, Maryland Agricultural & Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO): For developing vineyard installation and winery/vineyard equipment loans; for funding important industry projects.

Jack Steinmetz, Kent County Economic Development: For encouraging the growth of the industry in Kent Co.
For developing loan fund for county growers; for spearheading and organizing the development of a Vineyard Management Company study and workshops.

Hudson Cattell and Linda Jones McKee: For their service to the industry in the creation of Wine East Magazine and for their abundant enthusiasm for East Coast wine, and their faith in our ability to compete in the global wine market.

"The Gnarled Vine Award" Presented to Jack & Emily Johnston, Copernica Vineyard
This Gnarled Vine award honors a couple… a couple who has been at a driving force in developing our industry over the last 25 years. Although they are self-proclaimed “behind the scenes” people, these two very individual people have been vital to the growth of the Maryland Wine Industry.

Together they grow about six acres of the state’s most acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. As eternal leaders in the Maryland Grape Growers Association, he manages and she edits the MGGA’s Grapevine quarterly newsletter.

They have been cornerstones of the wine appreciation movement, founding the Carroll County Chapter of the American Wine Society in 1980. They have managed the wine education program at the Maryland Wine Festival since its very beginning in 1984. The recipients of the Gnarled Vine award are Emily and Jack Johnston of Copernica Vineyard.

Woodhall Wine Cellars proprietor Al Copp raised a toast to MWA and to the wine and grape industry offering support for the industry's accomplishments and looking forward to many more years of prosperous growth.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Shaw Vineyard and Tierce came up big with Mr. Molesworth in the October 31, 2008 issue of Wine Spectator, as did Lucas and Hunt Country. Congratulations to all...including Mr. Molesworth!

Shaw Vineyard Riesling Finger Lakes 2006 Score: 88 | $17
Tangy and fresh, with slate, green apple and fig notes that stay nervy through the nicely concentrated finish. Drink now. 250 cases made. —J.M.

Shaw Vineyard Riesling Finger Lakes Dry 2006 Score: 88 | $19
Good focus and drive, with a bracing edge to the lime, watermelon and green apple notes. Nice slatelike tang on the finish. Drink now. 200 cases made. —J.M.

Tierce Riesling Finger Lakes Dry 2006 88 $30
Shows some mature hints--fennel and anise--along with good underlying snap and additional apple and floral notes. Good length. Opens nicely in the glass. A joint effort from the winemakers at Anthony Road, Fox Run and Red Newt. Drink now through 2009. 200 cases made. –JM Country:
New York Region: Finger Lakes
Issue Date: Oct 31, 2008

Lucas Riesling Finger Lakes Semi-Dry 2007 85 $13
Medium-weight and off-dry in feel, but with good cut to the McIntosh and anise notes. Round, plump finish. Drink now. 730 cases made. –JM Country:
New York Region: Finger Lakes
Issue Date: Oct 31, 2008

Hunt Country Pinot Gris Finger Lakes 2007 84 $16
Fresh, with lemon zest and white peach notes on a bright, easy frame. Drink now. 862 cases made. –JM Country:
New York Region: Finger Lakes
Issue Date: Oct 31, 2008

Riesling Finger Lakes Dry 2007 84 $13
Crisp, with good lime and green apple notes. Lean, but fresh and focused. Drink now. 410 cases made. –JM
New York Region: Finger Lakes
Issue Date: Oct 31, 2008

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Wine Spectator's James Molesworth Goes to the Finger Lakes

FINGER LAKES WINES got some nice blog publicity this week from Wine Spectator’s James Molesworth, who last week made that region the focus of his annual fall trip, rather than the Rhone . Despite some nasty weather on the way (it was very cold in New York City too, by the way), he tasted wines at Ravines Wine Cellars on Keuka Lake, but focused primarily on Seneca Lake with visits to Anthony Road , Fox Run, Shaw, and Standing Stone, with others still to be covered.

Accompanying tasting notes for Rieslings were respectable (86 to 88), with Red Tail Ridge and Shaw getting the top scores.

To read more go to Mr.Molesworth's own blog

Thursday, October 30, 2008


In effect, it was all the usual suspects. But one has to hand it to Stevenson and his crew, at least they're pointing out the great wines that are being produced in the east, where other "so called" guides don't mention them at all.

Several places have different takes on it. Lenndevours took it from the New York perspective. And I have a lot of respect for his opinions. You should read his blog on the subject:

All-in-all, a good showing. Congrats to:

New York took the five top spots with Dr. Konstantin Frank, Wolffer, Bedell, Lenz, and Paumanok. I feel Raphael kinda got passed over here. But I'm not sure who'd I knock out.

Linden and Barboursville took the 6th and 7th spots. I really like both these wineries. I especially love Barboursville Nebbiolo, and several other of their deep red varietals. Maybe the best red wines on the east coast, outside of a couple of NY State wines. THERE IS NO QUESTION THAT VIRGINIA IS CHALLENGING NY FOR EAST COAST DOMINANCE IN SUPERIOR WINEMAKING. AND THEY ARE MAKING A GOOD RUN AT IT. AND THEY HAVE A LOT OF PEOPLE'S ATTENTION.

Chaddsford took the 8th spot. Eric (son of Benmarl's Mark Miller) and Lee Miller make great wines. Their Merican is a wonderful wine. And the stable of wines is consistent across the board. Whenever you go to the Brandywine area in PA, you have t stop there. However, French Creek (for sparkling wine and Va La are both pushing Chaddsford in the region, as is Blue Mountain.

L. Mawbey is a popular choice. They have received rave reviews from Stevenson's report before, as well as by other North American wine guides, including Kevin Zraly. I've taste their sparkling wine, and it's really wonderful.

Sakonnet is one of my all time favorite wineries. Their ice wines are excellent. Their Vidal Blanc is unquestionably the best in the US, and they have a wonderful sparkling wine. A very impressive winery. And one of the largest on the east coast. More New Yorkers should be trying them.

Friday, October 17, 2008

New York Times Covers Laurita Winery in New Egypt, NJ

Dairy Land Yields to Wine Country
Published: October 16, 2008
New York Times

A Landscape Reimagined
This is the first in a series of articles about wineries in the New York region and the people behind them.

RANDY F. SHEA had been trying unsuccessfully to sell 250 acres of dairy land with a friend for four years when it occurred to him one afternoon in October 1994 that vineyards thrive on land like this.

As he walked the property with its fertile, sandy soil, he said he looked at a rise sloping sharply toward a drainage basin and then began comparing characteristics of the property with knowledge he had recently acquired from a wine class about ideal growing conditions for grapes.

“I remember pointing, ‘That’s where the pond is,’ ” said Mr. Shea, 65, a property lawyer. “That’s where the vineyard is. That’s where the winery should be. I learned that through my feet. You don’t totally understand a piece of property through your head and eyes. You have to use your feet.”

The land had been under contract to one of Mr. Shea’s clients, who wanted to build a residential subdivision and golf course. That client could not afford to buy it, so Mr. Shea took over the contract and bought the land in 1990.

Mr. Shea’s friend, James R. Johnson Jr., 55, a site contractor, agreed that the land could be a vineyard.

In 1998, they measured off 20 acres and began planting European vinifera — chardonnay, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and merlot. Four years later, they marked off 20 acres and started planting pinot gris, lemberger, chambourcin, Norton and zweigelt. In 2003, their first two wines were merlot and chardonnay.

On Sept. 20, Mr. Shea and Mr. Johnson opened the Laurita Winery to the public and thrust themselves into the growing New York region wine industry. The name, Laurita, comes from Mr. Shea’s mother’s first name, Rita, and Mr. Johnson’s mother’s first name, Laura.

In New Jersey, the number of bonded wineries has increased to 45 since the 1981 repeal of a post-Prohibition state law that limited the number of wineries to one per million residents. If the law were still in effect, it would allow for eight wineries in New Jersey.

Read the rest at: