Sunday, October 21, 2012

Howard Goldberg Raves About Long Island Petite Verdots in the New York Times

Petit Verdot Takes a Star Turn

Petit verdot is best known for its supporting role as a blending grape in Bordeaux reds. On Long Island, a few vintners have transformed it into single varietal wines.

If the four I recently tasted served as an accurate indicator of the wine’s local possibilities, petit verdot could become the region’s third most interesting red, behind cabernet franc and merlot.

Petit verdot is a late ripener and, because of its thick skin, resists rot, which the North and South Forks’ maritime climate can propagate during moist growing seasons. The stand-alone wines it yields, usually containing dollops of other reds, can be rich in color, spicy, tannic and long-lived.
My favorite, the medium-bodied, almost sweet 2010 ($35) from Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton, was charming, bouncy and refreshing — over all, lip-smacking. The winemaker, James Christopher Tracy, has fully realized the pleasures his fruit could deliver.
Next, I was almost overwhelmed by the dark, hefty, flavor-saturated, nuanced 2007 petit verdot reserve from Jamesport Vineyards in Jamesport, which is as extravagant as its $100 price.
“The 2007 vintage was beautiful,” Ronald Goerler Jr., an owner, said in a phone interview. Describing the price as “an ego thing” designed to slow down demand, Mr. Goerler said, “We wanted the wine not to fly off the shelf.”
The plump, muscular, vividly tasty 2007 Vintner’s Pride petit verdot ($39.99) from Pellegrini Vineyards in Cutchogue was mouth-filling and satisfying. It offered a whisper of plumlike flavor and a whiff of chocolate.
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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Barnegate-Manahawkin Patch Raves About Local WIne Festival (NJ)

Barnegat-Manahawkin Patch
Autumn Wine Festival This Weekend at Manahawkin Lake
Ten New Jersey wineries will be featured.

Dozens of New Jersey wines from wineries such as Amalthea Cellars, Auburn Road Vineyard, Coda Rossa Winery, Cream Ridge Winery, DiMatteo Vineyard, Plagido's Winery, Renault Winery, Sharrott Winery, Tomasello Winery and Wagonhouse Winery will be featured this weekend at Manahawkin Lake in Stafford, off of Route 9.

This new, two-day Autumn Wine Festival takes place Saturday, October 20 and Sunday, October 21 from noon to 5 p.m., in the heart of the famous Stafford Township Fall Harvest Festival, happening Saturday. The festival features a hay maze, live music, scarecrow making, hayrides, and a movie and bonfire at dusk on Saturday and live music all day on Sunday. Participants are asked to bring a nonperishable food item to benefit local food pantries.

Children and adults of all ages are also invited to participate Saturday in the Halloween parade. Interested participants should meet at the firehouse located at 133 Stafford Avenue in costume. At noon, Little Miss Stafford and Little Town Crier, along with one of Stafford's firetrucks will kick off the parade. It will then proceed down Stafford Avenue and into Manahawkin Lake Park, during the Fall Harvest Festival, for judging.

During the regular Stafford Council meeting on Monday, Councilwoman Joanne Sitek, said the Township has been preparing for these events for months, and she is very excited about them both. "It is going to be fun for everyone, and it is supposed to be great weather, so please come out."
Tickets to sample the Autumn Wine Festival are available at or at festival both days for purchase.

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Richard Leahy Reports on Judgement of Virginia

Richard Leahy is the author of BEYOND JEFFERSON'S VINES, the highly acclaimed book about the new things going on in Virginia Wine.

Following close on the heels of the landmark Virginia Wine Summit blind tasting on 10/2 where Virginia wines bested worldwide competition by a score of 5-3, the “Judgement of Virginia” blind tasting of seven pairs of Virginia wines and French wines at the RR Smith Art Museum in downtown Staunton on 10/14 also resulted in an upset victory for Virginia wines, which edged out French wines 4-3.
Two characteristics were noteworthy in the upset; the Virginia red wines beat all the French red wines, and also, the pinot noir and sparkling wine.

The event was coordinated by the Thomas Jefferson wine committee led by Scott D. Ballin, JD of Washington, D.C. who also maintains a residence in Staunton, with the aim of raising money for the RR Smith Center for History and Art in Staunton. Ballin said that he was really please and somewhat surprised at how well the reds did in the competition, especially the pinot noir. It suggests to him that Jefferson’s cherished Burgundy can be grown and produced in the Old Dominion and he hoped to see more of it. He is already talking about a repeat performance of the event next year.

Judges included Virginia wine industry pioneer Gabrielle Rausse, his son Tim Rausse (also a winemaker), Ben Gilaberti, former wine columnist for the Washington Post and consultant to Calvert Woodley Wine in Northwest Washington; Daniel Mahdavian, Master of Ceremonies, beverage marketing maven, former hotelier and restaurant manager and early advocate of Virginia wines; Kyle Boatwright, formerly of the Staunton Grocery and currently with Country Vintner; Megan Headley, Charlottesville restaurateur and wine writer; and this writer.

Unusual for a wine judging, the event was performed in front of a live and paying audience. After fascinating reminiscences of the early hard days in the industry by Gabrielle Rausse and comments by other judges, Rausse was presented with an 18th century cartographer’s map of Italy by Scott Ballin for his contribution to the Virginia wine industry.

Also unusual for a wine judging, the reds were tasted first and ranked (on the 20-point scale), followed by the whites. The categories were: pinot noir, Right Bank Bordeaux-style red blends, Left Bank Bordeaux-style blends, viognier, chardonnay, pinot gris, and sparkling wine.

The competition results were:
2011 Ankida Ridge pinot noir (VA, Amherst Co.) over 2009 Louis Latour Volnay En Chevret Premier Cru
2008 Barboursville Octagon (60% merlot) VA, over 2009 Ch. Croix Figeac St. Emilion,
2008 Barren Ridge Meritage (VA, Shenandoah Valley) vs. 2006 Ch. Gloria St. Julien
2011 Keswick Signature Series Viognier (VA-Monticello) vs. 2008 E. Guigal Condrieu
2010 Jefferson Chardonnay Reserve vs. Domaine Delarche Pernand-Vergelesses
2011 Pollak Pinot Gris vs. 2009 Domaine Paul Blanck Pinot Gris
2008 Thibault-Jannison Cuvee D’Etat (VA) v. Jacques Lassaigne Les Vignes De Montgueux Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs

Following the tasting, wine country fiction writer Ellen Crosby was on hand to sign copies of her Virginia wine mysteries, and this author signed copies of Beyond Jefferson’s Vines.

This author was impressed by the thoughtfulness of the Wine Committee’s choices, and particularly impressed that not only did Virginia beat all the French reds, but also there was no contest in the pinot noir match nor the sparkling match.

It seems Virginia wines can not only compete on a world stage but beat the French, just like California wines did some 26 years ago. Maybe it’s time Virginia wines got some respect…even from the Californians?

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Sacremento Bee Highlights Norfolk Wine Festival

Experience Town Point Virginia Wine Festival and Stay at Norfolk Waterside Marriott

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012 - 8:19 am
/PRNewswire/ -- Hampton Roads' most anticipated fall wine festival returns Oct. 20 and 21, and Norfolk Waterside Marriott is offering an exciting Norfolk, VA, vacation deal so guests can make the most of their weekend. The 25th Annual AT&T Town Point Virginia Wine Festival is happening along the downtown Norfolk waterfront, just steps from this deluxe hotel.
With rates beginning at $199 per night, guests reserving the Festival Package will receive:
  • Deluxe Norfolk lodging the nights of Oct. 19 and Oct. 20
  • Two one-day tickets to the event
  • Breakfast for two adults
  • Free valet parking and Internet access
  • Complimentary wine bottle opener and wine tote

According to the festival website, Wine Enthusiast Magazine named Virginia one of the 10 best wine travel destinations in the world. This festival, which runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, will showcase more than 30 Virginia wineries and more than 200 of Virginia's finest wines. Norfolk Waterside Marriott is only a four-minute walk to the center of the festival and provides spacious accommodations combined with sophisticated amenities and superior service.
To make a reservation online, use the promotional code WN9 in the corporate/promotional code box, or call 1-800-228-9290 and ask for the code. A limited number of rooms are available and advanced reservations are required.

About Norfolk Waterside Marriott Surround yourself in luxury accommodations seamlessly intertwined with traditional charm at Norfolk Waterside Marriott, a downtown Norfolk hotel set in the heart of the historic district. Located on the picturesque Elizabeth River waterfront, this hotel combines stunning views with exquisite design. From its convenient connection to Waterside Convention Center to the nearby Children's Museum of Virginia, Norfolk Naval Station or the Virginia Zoo, this Norfolk waterside hotel is ideal for business and leisure guests. Stay active at our fitness center or relax after sightseeing at Shula's 347, serving renowned steakhouse cuisine. Plan intimate outdoor gatherings on our sixth-floor Riverview Terrace or execute grand galas in more than 60,000 square feet of space. For unrivaled lodging on the vibrant Virginia waterfront, look no further than Norfolk Waterside Marriott.

For more information or to make a reservation, call 1-757-627-4200 or visit
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Chambourcin time on the Lehigh Valley Trail - Go, Now!

Paul Vigna is one of my favorite east coast wine writers. Here's a new piece about Chambourcin on the Lehigh Valley Trail.

Lehigh Valley trail uses weekend to extol its favorite grape

PAUL VIGNA, The Patriot-News By PAUL VIGNA, The Patriot-News
on October 19, 2012 at 10:17 PM, updated October 19, 2012 at 11:20 PM

It’s safe to say that you wouldn’t find Chambourcin Weekend in many places outside Pennsylvania. But it’s a big deal here, especially among the wineries of the Lehigh Valley trail, which will hold its annual homage to the hybrid grape on Saturday and Sunday. Chambourcin has made itself at home in the mid-Atlantic’s climate, earning its stripes in particular in the area around Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton, and even got a push at one point to become the state grape of Pennsylvania. A chambourcin from Vynecrest won the annual "best in the state" competition held by the Pennsylvania Wine Society in January.

"Chambourcin is the jewel of the Lehigh Valley, all eight of our wineries grow it and make a myriad of varieties from dry to sweet,” Jan Landis, of Breinigsville’s Vynecrest Winery, wrote in an email. “Our terroir (climate and soil) is a perfect match for this grape and we are one of the major producers of Chambourcin wine in the United States. Originally from the Loire Valley of France, our Lehigh Valley winemakers have produced a wonderful variety of red wines, blush, nouveau, and sparkling from this hybrid.”

Vynecrest is one of eight Lehigh Valley Wine Trail wineries that will participate in Chambourcin Weekend, which will include a variety of a variety of foods and entertainment in addition to the wine itself. Here’s a list of what’s scheduled at each winery, off the wine trail site.

I asked Kari Skrip, who juggles marketing among the many balls she keeps in the air for Clover Hill Vineyards & Winery, how much chambourcin her winery makes and what kind of visibility the grape has. 
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The Crown Maple Wine, Cider & Maple Fest

The Crown Maple Wine, Cider & Maple Fest
November 10 12-4 PM | Madava Farms, Dover Plains NY

The Crown Maple Wine, Cider & Maple Fest

The Crown Maple Wine, Cider & Maple Fest
Hudson Valley Wine Magazine presents The Crown Maple Wine, Cider & Maple Fest. An informal afternoon of perfectly paired culinary treats. Sample popular offerings from six local wine, cider and spirit producers along with six specially created tasting courses from Madava Farms chef Jacob Griffin. Tickets includes six 2 oz. pours, one from each partner; six paired tasting courses, tastes of other featured wine, cider and spirits and a special take home gift. Tickets Adults: $65 ($75 day of), Kids & Students under 21: $25 $35(day of)
Food/Beverage Pairings 12-4 PM
Beverage Tastings 12-5 PM
Price: $65.00
47 McCourt Road, Dover Plains, NY 12522
More Information:
(845) 877-0640

North Gate Vineyard is a Wonderful Place to Visit! (VA)

So, the last stop on the TasteCamp 2012 in Virginia was North Gate Vineyard, in Purceville, VA. By the end, me and many of my fellow campers were tired and hungry. With the promise of a bbq and a byob wine tasting after words, I wondered if I had any energy left to appreciate the last offerings of the weekend.

North Gate Vineyard is owned and operated by Mark and Vicki Fedor. They got caught up in the wine business rather inadvertently. It all began in 1997 when Mark and Vicki started caring for a few neglected grape vines on the North Gate property they had just purchased. The rest, as they say….is history. From 2003 through the 2006 vintage, Mark and Vicki had been the winemakers for Corcoran Vineyards (formerly Waterford Vineyards) in Waterford, Virginia. Their vintages had garnered more than 50 medals in national and international competitions.

The rugged and roomy tasting room is beautifully appointed, complete with wrought iron lighting fixtures, a large fireplace and ample sofas, and a sizable area filled with tables and chairs, almost like a restaurant. And of course the bar is big and long enough to hold a ravenous army. Mark and Vicki were prepared.

I liked the 2010 North Gate Viognier. The wine was made from grapes from North Gate and Weather Lea Farm grown by Pamela and Malcolm Baldwin. Aged in neutral French oak for six months, the wine was aromatic in the glass and soft in the mouth. Notes of tropical fruit and vanilla, with a touch of grapefruit. Nice.

Many folks also enjoyed the Apple Wine. This is just a fun wine, with a big apple nose. Just like biting into a crisp, sweet, juicy apple! They use a mix of sweet and tart apples. It’s meant to be a crowd pleaser, and it comes through. It’s a perfect wine for the picnic or the patio. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this wine are donated to Blue Ridge Greyhound Adoption.

My two absolute favorites were the Meritage and the Petite Verdot.

The 2009 Meritage was Cabernet Franc, (47%), Cabernet Sauvignon (26%), Petit Verdot (21%), and Merlot (6%). This is a full bodied red with lots of dark fruit up front and a nice complex finish. There’s raspberry, cherry, and vanilla, and spice. I brought home several bottles of this one. Very nice!

The 2009 Petit Verdot is North Gate’s first Estate grown wine. 100% of the Petit Verdot comes directly from their vineyard. This dark, deep purple wine did not disappoint. Cherry, violets, and vanilla all come through. As well as a hint of prune and currants in this big jammy wine. Also hints of spice. Begs for a big slab of roasted meat with char marks. Also brought home a bottle or two of this one. Very, very nice!

I had a glass of the Petitie Verdot. And relaxed for a bit. Tired after the long Taste Camp 2012, my fellow campers caught me in a satisfied but compromised position. Have to admit, sitting on the couch in front of the fire was just fine with me. North Gate is a fun place to taste and visit. Nice stuff!

Saturday, October 13, 2012




Tastings throughout valley! (Ghent, NY) October 13, 2012 – The Hudson Valley is the number one producer of artisanal cassis in North America. More than 20,000 bottles of cassis are produced each year! But the Hudson Valley is also home to one of the largest cider producing regions in North America as well. In an effort to help promote CIDER WEEK (October 12- 21, 2012), and in cooperation with the Hudson Valley cider makers, the cassis producers are announcing the HUDSON VALLEY CIDER KIR ROYALE!

A Hudson Valley Cider Kir Royale is a fabulous way to enjoy the fall scenery, and is an exceptional way to start off your holiday season!!! What better way to get your friends and family into the holiday spirit than to pour four parts Hudson Valley cider with one part Hudson Valley cassis!

To launch this new drink, three Hudson Valley wineries are pouring Hudson Valley Cider Kir Royales for tasting – Brookview Station Winery, Hudson-Chatham Winery, and Warwick Valley Winery. All three wineries pour their own ciders and make their own cassis. They will be pouring tastings this Saturday and Sunday October 13 and 14, 2012.

Of course, you can blend all the cassis and ciders from the numerous wineries available throughout the valley! Enjoy!

Hudson Valley Cider Producers:
Applewood Winery
Aaron Burr Cider
Breezy Hill Orchard & Cider Mill
Brookview Station
Enlightenment Ciders
Kettleborough Cider House
Montgomercy Place Orchards
Slyboro Cider House Warwick Valley Cider

Hudson Valley Cassis Producers:
Adair Vineyards
Brookview Station Winery
Clinton Vineyards
Glorie Farm Winery
Hudson-Chatham Winery
Tousey Winery
Tuthilltown Spirits
Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery

Cider Week celebrates hard cider by featuring it prominently in restaurants, bars, and retail shops. Nearly 100 top restaurants, bars and merchants in New York City and the Hudson Valley participated in 2011. Cider Week was launched by Glynwood, a non-profit agricultural organization in the Hudson Valley, as part of their larger Apple Project to enhance the viability of orchards by supporting the production of cider apples, hard cider, and apple spirits.
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The Hudson Valley wine scene is starting to emerge with several passionate and great stories…none of which is more exciting than the making and selling of quality artisanal cassis and black currant wine. Almost 20,000 bottles of artisanal cassis will be sold in the Hudson Valley this year! The Hudson Valley is the number one producer of artisanal cassis in North America and the Western Hemisphere. All of these are hand made wines, crafted by gifted artisans, and experiencing explosive growth. Word is getting out.
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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hudson Valley Cider Week Begins October 12 thru the 21st!!!

Cider Week celebrates hard cider by featuring it prominently in restaurants, bars, and retail shops. Nearly 100 top restaurants, bars and merchants in New York City and the Hudson Valley participated in 2011. Cider Week was launched by Glynwood, a non-profit agricultural organization in the Hudson Valley, as part of their larger Apple Project to enhance the viability of orchards by supporting the production of cider apples, hard cider, and apple spirits.

There will be one event everday between NYC and Albany throughout the week. Here are some Hudson Valey Ciders to try this week!
Applewood Winery
Aaron Burr Cider
Breezy Hill Orchard & Cider Mill
Brookview Station
Enlightenment Ciders
Kettleborough Cider House
Montgomercy Place Orchards
Slyboro Cider House Warwick Valley Cider

For more info go to:

Reuter Report Features Bedell Cellars, Hudson-Chatham Winery

New World rises to the challenge of Europe's poor wine harvest

A vineyard shrouded in fog during the wine harvest season in Rutherford, California September 12, 2008. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
NEW YORK | Wed Oct 10, 2012 5:21am EDT
NEW YORK (Reuters) - North American winemakers are having a near perfect harvest this year in stark contrast to their European counterparts, who have suffered from bad timing and worse weather.In Portugal some vineyards are reporting yields down 40 percent and in parts of Burgundy in France hail storms have destroyed nearly 80 percent of the harvest.

But in California's Napa Valley, after three years of below average temperatures and inopportune rain, winemakers are enjoying a banner year.

"Neither too early, nor too late; neither too hot, nor too cold, 2012 looks to be the 'Goldilocks' vintage, where everything is just right," said Christopher Howell, general manager of Cain Vineyard and Winery, referring to the story book character.

The good fortune is not limited to Californians. Winemakers in Oregon, Washington, New York state and Canada are also excited by this year's harvest.

Josie Tyabji, head of the British Columbia Wine Institute in Canada, said it has "come in right on time," and although it is a bit earlier than normal in Oregon's Willamette Valley, winemaker Luisa Ponzi says she has no complaints.

"We've been blessed with quite a bit of sun," said Ponzi, who trained in Burgundy and is the winemaker for her family's winery.

Although there were some concerns in Washington state that the harvest would be tainted by wildfires in September, tests have shown nothing wrong.

The white wines are halfway done and much of the Merlot is halfway picked, according to Kari Leitch, of Washington's Chateau Ste. Michelle Wines Estate, where the vintage is shaping up to be one of its best.

Conditions were similar at the opposite end of the country in New York's wine-growing regions. The Hudson-Chatham winery north of New York City reported that its harvest of Seyval Blanc was well under way. It also expected good yields for their other varietals including Vidal Blanc and DeChaunac.

Richard Olsen-Harbich, of the Bedell Cellars on Long Island's North Fork, said he was harvesting a week or two early.

"Guess that's the new normal," he said, adding that his wines are similar to those produced in France and Italy.

Despite the shortage of European wines, prices globally are expected to remain little changed, except for some top level Bordeaux and Burgundies.

"The market for wine is global," said David Jaeger, a member of the American Association of Wine Economists, "so there is pressure on the Old World producers, even in tough years, to keep their prices roughly in line with the global market, with the possible exception of Premier Crus in Bordeaux and some in Burgundy.

"Most vintners will claim that their wines are a unique expression of their terroir, but consumers can likely find pretty close New World substitutes to most wines produced in Europe," he added. (Terroir refers to the local conditions that give a wine its unique characteristics.)

Rob Sands, the chief executive of Constellation Brands, which produces Robert Mondavi, Kim Crawford, Inniskillin and Ravenswood wines among many others, said he is seeing little or no movement on lower-priced wines.

(Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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Tuesday, October 02, 2012


5 perfect days in the Hudson Valley

From ballet to wine tasting, hiking to cheese eating, do it down by the river this fall

  • Last Updated: 11:48 PM, October 1, 2012
  • Posted: 3:26 PM, October 1, 2012
  • New York Post
#2 WINE + CHEESE + THE TACONIC Could the Hudson Valley ever end up giving Northern California a run for its money in the wine and food production department? Not really. But what the valley might lack in weather and output, it definitely makes up for in atmosphere. We’re truly not far off from parts of the region morphing into the likes of California’s Sonoma County — cute in some places, refreshingly workaday in others, but always pleasant and scenic and full of people who are escaping big cities nearby both as residents and visitors. Not that there’s no good wine or cheese, because there is. For best results, stay east of the river — start at Millbrook Winery, where the grounds and onsite café are half the fun ( Next, head over to Sprout Creek Farm, out on the east side of Poughkeepsie. This not-for-profit organization with years of experience specializes in raw cheeses of all ages and types; their aged, nutty Ouray is becoming a staple at parties and getting some nice national attention, too ( Next, head up the parkway to Columbia County, where it’s all about the Hudson-Chatham Winery, which even the biggest snobs will admit shows real promise ( Nearby, pop by the mothership of the no-introduction-needed Old Chatham Sheepherding Company; visitors are welcome to come say thanks to the sheep for those awesome cheeses that are available in nearly every good grocery store in the city these days. A small stand on property is a good place to stock up ( Don’t fill up on cheese, though — before you head home, you need to stop in for a civilized dinner at The Red Devon, tucked away in the wonderful little village of Bangall. Chef Sara Lukasiewicz has gotten great notices for her Valley-influenced menu (
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NYSLSA Joins Fall In Love With Hudson Valley Wine; Launches FALL IN LOVE WITH NEW YORK STATE WINE: Sen. Young Endorses Campaigns

Senator Cathy Young announced yesterday a new campaign to promote New York state wine. It was in tandem with the New York State Liquor Store Association.

The New York State Liquor Store Association firstly endorsed the Fall In Love With Hudson Valley Wine, not only endorsing the campaign, but became a sponsor as well. The NSYLSA scheduled a series of tastings in the Hudson Valley, wherein the stores would host tastings of Hudson Valley wine throughout the holiday season! Events were scheduled already for Fox and Houd WInes and Spirits in New Paltz, Arlington Wines in Poughkeepsie, and Colvin Wine Merchants in Albany.

NYSLSA also announced their statewide FALL IN LOVE WITH NEW YORK WINE campaign for the Fall. Jeff Saunders and Tom Edwards were both on hand to premiere the posters for their campaign. There were two. The first was a flourish of orange maple leaves and a bottle of wine emblazoned with the New York state seal, which read: Fall in Love with New York state wines. The other was a table set with a Thanksgiving turkey and all the fixin’s along with New York state wines. It read: This holiday season put yourself in a New York State of wine.
The “Fall in Love with New York Wines” campaign is a statewide effort this month and in November to promote New York wineries through retailers and advertisements, as well as deals and wine-tasting events, Gannett’s Haley Viccaro reports.
“New York wine is not just great to drink, its big business that provides jobs across New York State,” Sen. Catherine Young, R-Olean, Cattaraugus County, said in a statement after attending the launch at the Capitol today. “The state can and should help promote NY wines because it’s an investment that will pay us back many times over with more jobs and increased wine tourism.”
Also on hand were Karen Gardy of Brookview Station Winery, Yancey Migliore of Whitecliff Winery, and Tom Edwards of the New York Liquor Store Association and owner of Fox and Hound Wines in New Paltz, NY.
“Wines made in New York State are some of the best in the world,” said Jeff Saunders. “Unfortunately, many New Yorkers are unaware of that fact and look elsewhere when buying or ordering wine. It is our mission to help educate New Yorkers about the great variety of quality wines made right here at home.”
Two great campaigns. More tastings will be added to the Fall IN LOVE WITH HUDSON VALLEY WINE events page.

Stuben Courier: State Fair Ignores NY State Wines

State fair eateries ignore N.Y. state wines

By John Christensen
Posted Sep 27, 2012 @ 08:00 AM
According to local sources attending the fair, the Empire Room, despite the hundreds of wineries in the Empire State, served only one New York wine, from Glenora, yet offered several wines by Robert Mondavi – from California.

“It's really stupid,” said David Whiting of Red Newt Cellars. “The fair always could have been a better venue to feature New York wines. It's a shame they can't stand up for New York produce. That's the purpose."

Organizers’ response was to treat the issue like a hot potato.

Empire Room operator, “Charlies at the Fair,” could not be reached for comment, while New York State Fair press relations head Troy Waffner handed the issue to New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets spokesman Joe Morrissey. Morissey said "the Empire Room serves New York wines," but he did confirm the Empire Room's single New York offering.

But as far back as 2009, the fair highlighted two restaurant exhibits that would serve food made with produce made only in New York.

That year both The New York Grill and the New York Café served fresh onion rings and "State Fair Fries" made with locally fresh harvested produce, along with "Empire Burgers" made with Lucki 7 sausage and Yancey's Fancy cheese.

They also served wine and beer from 15 New York wineries and 15 New York breweries, Saranac Soda, Byrne Dairy milk, Red Jacket apple cider, and Welch's grape juice. Despite reports that the "Buy Local" initiative was a big hit, neither restaurant could be found on the New York State Fair website food map this year.

Morissey could not say whether the Empire Room featured any other New York products. He stressed that the State Fair features New York produce and products in one tent entitled "Pride of New York," but had no answer when asked why New York's State Fair was not all "Pride of New York."

The notion that a state fair should promote only that state's products doesn't seem to be a problem for the State of California.

"We try to use all California produce. After all, we are an agricultural fair," said Joan Evans, Marketing Director of the California Exposition and State Fair Evans “Our wine exhibit is the largest at the fair. Over 600 wineries submit about 3,000 bottles for judging, and it is our most prestigious competition."

That New York's State Fair can't take a similar position has been a source of frustration for area vintners for many years.

Scott Osborn of Fox Run Vineyards said the state Ag & Markets position was idiotic. “Do they feature milk or cheese from Wisconsin? If you go to Burgundy in France, all the restaurants serve wines from Burgundy."

Selling California wine instead of New York's at a state event may seem to be an oversight by Albany bureaucrats, but it has happened before.

Yates County Chamber of Commerce CEO Mike Linehan recalls a governor's conference on tourism a few years ago where the entire delegation from the Finger Lakes began to tap their glasses loudly with their silverware in protest when they discovered they were being served wine from California.
Morissey said he couldn't speculate on how decisions were made about which wines to offer in the Empire Room, but local wineries say it is just the latest black eye for the state.

Peter Martini of Anthony Road Wine Co. just shook his head, saying, "I don't know why the fair has such a difficult time keeping its nose clean."

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