Thursday, December 31, 2020

Vermilion Valley Vineyards: Episode 45 THE GREAT AMERICAN WINERY STROOPWAFFLE (OH)

click on the image to see the video


Join host Carlo DeVito as he visits Joe and Kristi Juniper at Vermilion Valley Vineyards in the Lake Erie AVA, in Ohio! Yes, Ohio! Great forward thinking winery with terrific wines. And of course you'll love winery mascot Gordy! Enjoy!

click on the image to see the video

Vermillion Valley Vineyards is located in Ohio, in northern Lorraine County, in the town of Wakeman, OH. It’s the eastern side of the state, placing them in the Lake Erie AVA, approximately 10 miles south of the shores of the great lake.

There was a time at the end of the 19th century when Ohio ranked third in wine production in the U.S., exceeded only by California and New York. Back then, most of our state’s vineyards were located either along Lake Erie’s southern shore or near Cincinnati. 

Those wines were made from dozens of labrusca-type varieties, including Duchess, Ives, and Missouri Riesling. Prohibition brought Ohio’s wine industry to its knees, and it is only been revived in the last decade. Today, Ohio hosts close to 250 wineries, and its vineyards planted with both vinifera and newer hybrids.

Co-owners Joe and Kristie Juniper are a dynamic team. They run the vineyard, do the winemaking, and tend the bar. Joe is also on the Board of Directors of the Ohio Wine Board.  And of course there’s Gordy, the ubiquitous and wonderful winery mascot. 

The vineyard was planted in 2007 and the winery opened its doors in 2009. They grown Gewuztraminer, Traminette, Riesling, Chardonnay, Moscato, Pinot noir, Chambourcin, Dornfelder, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Co-owners Joe and Kristi Juniper

Winery Mascot, Gordy!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Peter Bell's Fox Run Traminette Simmons Vineyard 2018 is a Gem! (NY)

In mid-December I have the wonderful opportunity to host a round table for the New York Wine and Grape Foundation . There I tasted this exceptional Fox Run Vineyards Traminette Simmons Vineyard 2018. Fantastic wine.

Peter Bell is the winemaker at Fox Run Vineyards. First off, one has to admit right up front that any "quick" bio of Peter Bell is automatically completely deficient. Than man's accomplishments would take longer to recite than the entire length of this article. Peter brings a science-based, rationalist approach to winemaking.  Peter has made the wine here for more than 25 years. Peter works closely with Vineyard Manager, John Kaiser, who has worked the land at Fox Run since 1984. And of course he has the trusty and experienced Assistant Winemaker Lindsey VanKeuren, who has been with Fox Run since 2012.

Bell studied enology in Australia and made wine in New Zealand before landing in the Finger Lakes. He was the winemaker at Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars for five years before joining Fox Run in 1995. In addition to making wines at Fox Run he also helps at other area wineries, holds an adjunct faculty position at Cornell University, and speaks at numerous wine conferences throughout the year. 

He is one of the most influential winemakers in the state. Bell regularly hosts regular tasting groups for winemakers in the Finger Lakes region. 

Someone once asked me, “What’s the big deal about Peter Bell?

It’s this simple. He has been the most helpful winemaker in the Finger Lakes and has mentored dozens of wine makers in the region and around the state. He is finny, erudite, and a damn good winemaker. And he plays a mean banjo.

Accomplished Constellation Brands winemaker August Demiel once quipped like many others, he attended the School of Peter Bell.

Peter gives credit to owners Scott and Ruth Osborn. “When I was hired here, co-owner Scott Osborn was explicit about his vision that all Finger Lakes wineries should work together to create a regional brand,” Bell said.

Now, Traminette is a cross of the French American hybrid Joannes Seyve 23.416 and the German Vitis vinifera cultivar Gew├╝rztraminer made by Herb C. Barrett ca. 1965 at the University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign. The grape was released by Cornell. Traminette produces solid yields, ranging in studies from 12-22 lbs/vine average.The wine is produced in Ohio, Indiana, the Yadkin Valley AVA of North Carolina, the Finger Lakes and Hudson River Region of New York, and throughout the east coast. And more is being planted as we speak. 

According to Peter Traminette is a dream to grow, according to Peter. If left unattended, which most growers seem to almost agree that it is very hardy and aggressive in its growth during the season. 
Peter said that Traminette was easier in the cellar as well. Well made Traminette wines seem to resemble their parent Gwurztraminer. This wine received a lot of accolades. Wonderful scores from Wine Enthusiast, and some nice write-ups from Nittany Epicure (Michael Chelus) and the Wine Curmudgeon. 

From my mind this Traminette had all the ear marks of the Gewurztraminer with a huge, incredible, and tropical nose that exploded out of the glass. Green apple and tropical notes like pineapple and grapefruit rolled across the palate. There was some slight sweetness, but the ample acidity and grapefruit ending easily balanced that out. The result is a lip smacking wine of great power and elegance. This is a tremendously elegant wine. Absolutely fantastic. If you like Riesling or Gerwurztraminer, you need to try a bottle of this Traminette which is ultimately perfect for your table, and absolutely restaurant worthy!! You Must run out and buy a bottle, now!

Great job Peter!

A Classic! Brad Martz's Whitecliff Vineyards Vidal Blanc 2019

In mid-December, I had the opportunity to lead a discussion on behalf of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation. One of the wines form that group tasting was the Whitecliff Vineyards Vidal Blanc 2019. I like Whitecliff Vineyards, one of the leaders in the Hudson River Region. And I like their winemaker very much, Brad Martz.

Brad Martz joined Whitecliff in the 2010 harvest as a dedicated volunteer and brought so much focus, energy, and intelligence to the cellar work that he rapidly progressed to full-time winemaker. In addition to hands on work with owner/winemaker Michael Migliore, he also invested many hours in learning and research with the Cornell Extension. Brad applied the careful science necessary to make fine wine, but also still brings great creativity with grape varietals that results in innovation and Whitecliff's ever-evolving wine list.

A Pennsylvania native, Brad Martz, put down roots in the Hudson Valley thanks to his wife, whose family hailed from New Paltz. After graduating from the University of California, Davis—ironically, with a degree in psychology rather than from their renowned viticultural program—Martz worked for fifteen years in the technology industry, managing sales and strategic alliances. But it took casual visits to the local wineries with his wife on weekends to pique his interest in wine.

An avid athlete with a passion for the outdoors and a yearning for chemistry, Martz volunteered to work the 2010 harvest at Whitecliff Vineyards, and he got hooked. With guidance from Whitecliff’s seasoned owner and winemaker Michael Migliore, Martz became intrigued with the science behind growing grapes and making wine, and he used his 90-minute daily train commute to Manhattan to devour books and take online courses on the subject. Martz is currently working on his winemaking certification from his alma mater, UC Davis.

Martz’s focus, ability, and creativity inspired Whitecliff owners to ask Martz to join the winery as assistant winemaker. He was quickly transitioned to Whitecliff’s full-time winemaker during the 2012–13 season.

Many of you might not be knowledgeable about Vidal Blanc. Vidal is a cross between a Vitis vinifera variety Ugni blanc (also known as Trebbiano Toscano) and another hybrid variety, Rayon d'Or (Seibel 4986). The grape was developed in the 1930s by French wine grape breeder Jean Louis Vidal; his primary goal in developing the variety was for the production of Cognac in the Charente-Maritime region of western France. The grape exhibits tremendous  winter hardiness, and is cultivated in the Canadian wine regions of Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia, and widely throughout the United States in the Finger Lakes and Hudson Valley, in the Yadkin Valley AVA, Outer Coastal Plain AVA of Southern New Jersey, Michigan, Virginia, Missouri and other states.

The Whitecliff Vidal Blanc 2019 is a 100% estate, Hudson River Region AVA wine. The wine barrel fermented and aged in neutral Hungarian barrels. There is 0% residual sugar. This is a classic, old world styled wine. The fruits up front are fresh cut tart apple, with hints of tropical fruit. Big big flavor. That slowly breaks down to a beautiful middle, and a nice tart ending, allowing the fruit to linger and linger. It's almost Arboir-ish in it's structure and complexity. A terrific, sophisticated, opulent, and complex wine. Wonderful balance. Absolutely stunning. Perfect for any wine lost, personal or for a restaurant Super impressive. Elegant. Great job Brad Martz!

Sunday, December 20, 2020

For NJ Wine Lovers! New Jersey Wine by Sal Westach

This fall I went to many New Jersey wineries, tasting the bounty of the state. While on my travels, I came across this charming book NEW JERSEY WINE: A Remarkable History,

The story of New Jersey wine is older than the United States itself. As early as 1767, the colony's wines were garnering awards from London's Royal Society of the Arts. The vineyards continued to grow through some of the country's most turbulent times. In 1864, at the height of the Civil War, Renault Winery was founded, and it continues to operate today. While Prohibition nearly destroyed the industry, in 1933, the founding of Tomasello's Winery in Hammonton helped revive it. In 1980, only seven wineries were in operation, but by 2011, the state boasted over thirty-four--many of which are winning awards in some of the world's most respected wine competitions. So grab a glass and join winemaking expert Sal Westrich as he tracks the history of New Jersey wine, accompanied by photos by John Muth.

Sal Westrich is currently a Professor of History at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. He has written one other wine book, on the wines of Bordeaux, France, and is widely regarded as an expert on wine and winemaking. He is very active in the Garden State Wine Growers' Association.

The book was published in 2012, but the history contained therein is certainly well told. A terrific little book still very much worth the price.


Thursday, December 17, 2020

Impressive: Fulkerson Winery Vincent 2019 (NY)

Recently I lead a panel discussion and virtual tasting of hybrid and heirloom grapes for the New York Wine & Grape Foundation. One of the wines I tasted was the Fulkerson Winery Vincent 2019.

In 1805, the same year Lewis & Clark set out on their expedition to explore the west, Caleb Fulkerson journeyed north from New Jersey in search of fertile farmland. He was the first of seven generations of Fulkersons, and the land he claimed is today Fulkerson Winery & Farms, the oldest continually operating farm in the region. From classics like Riesling and Merlot to unique varietals such as Dornfelder and Albarino, the Fulkerson Wines family has something to please every palate. Fulkerson is a well-established, respected winery in the finger lakes, and is a large supplier of juice to the state industry and beyond. You grow a great number of vinifera as well as different hybrids as well.

The winemaker is Dan Gobush has been at Fulkerson since August 2016. Before that, he was the winemaker at Sanctuary Vineyards, from 2011 to 2015 in Jarvisburg, NC. While there, he was the hands-on winemaker for the 2011-2014 vintages. He was responsible for all winemaking from vine to sales. He returned for the 2015 harvest as part of their winemaking team. During his tenure production increased from 2500 to 6000+ cases.

According to Cornell University and Horticultural Research Institute Ontario (Canada), the grape was released in 1967, and was really first gained renown in Ohio. It was named for the patron Saint of Burgundy, St. Vincent, and is a cross of Chelois and other hybrids. Its supposedly very pinot like. 

That said, I've always known Vincent to be a blender which adds color, since it's practically opaque in its darkness. Dark purple. But Gobush, and owner/winermaker Steve Fulkerson, decided to release the Vincent as a stand alone red. I was a little suspicious about this. 

But hats off. Firstly, the color as expected was a deep, deep purple. And the up front flavors were dark cherry, black currant cassis, cranberry, and prune. But those big flavors faded nicely, to a soft, approachable wine with nice a acidity and only small tannins. The result is a soft wine that is imminently drinkable. It would pair beautifully with sharp, crumbly cheeses, or with any kind of white meats. It was a welcome shocker, and a delicious wine!!!

Get a bottle a try it out!!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

NYWGF New York's Heritage and Hybrid Wines with Carlo DeVito (NY)

click on image to watch panel tasting

Many wine enthusiasts across the world enjoy and recognize wines produced from Vitis vinifera, the European grapevine species responsible for beloved Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir. But winemakers in the Northern United States have recognize the potential of, literally, going back to our roots. The term “heritage” or “heirloom” grape apply to grapes that were bred and developed in the United States and are at least 100 years old as their own varietal of grape. Many heritage grapes that are becoming popularized in commercial production originate in the Hudson Valley of New York State. Hybrid wines, made from a cross of European Vitis vinifera vines and American Vitis labrusca or Vitis riparia grapes, have the reputation of being cold-hardy, resistant to pests, mold and rot. For wine lovers who are increasingly prioritizing minimal intervention in winemaking, and natural and biodynamic wines along with seeking out new taste adventures – these wines check every box. We invite you to join author and winemaker Carlo DeVito on this unique journey across New York to try wines you may not yet know. It could change everything you think you know about wine.

Featured Wines:

▸ Three Brothers Wineries & Estates 2019 Valvin Muscat Sur Lie
▸ Black Willow Winery Estate Diamond
▸ Fox Run Vineyards 2019 Traminette
▸ Fulkerson Winery 2019 Vincent
▸ Whitecliff Vineyard & Winery 2018 Vidal Blanc

This session was recorded live on December 16, 2020 by the New York Wine & Grape Foundation.

Kim Marconi, headwinemaker, and 
Paige Vinson, winemaker, Three Brothers Winery

Cynthia West-Chamberlain , owner, Black Willow Winery 

Peter Bell, winemaker, Fox Run Vineyards

Dan Gobush, winemaker, Fulkerson Winery 

Brad Matrz, winemaker, Whitecliff Vineyards


WOW! Dynamic Duo Releases Three Brothers Stoney Lonesome Valvin Muscat Sur Lie 2019 (NY)

Earlier this week I was fortunate enough to be able to host a tasting for the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, We featured five wines. One of them was so extremely different than anything else I had tasted, so much so, that I had to write about it first and immediately. 

First off, what I really wanted to talk about was the team who made the wine! The dynamic duo behind this wine is head winemaker Kim Marconi and winemaker Paige Vinson. These are two young, dynamic winemakers, who really pulled off something unique, and quietly have been building a reputation for the wide range of wines they're called upon to produce, and the unique and high quality wines that they've been producing rather quietly.

Kim Marconi, head winemaker, left,
Paige Vinson, winemaker, right 

Just two weeks before harvest began for the 2018 vintage, Kim White (now, Marconi) joined the production team at Three Brothers as Head Winemaker and Paige Vinson as Assistant Winemaker. The change came after Winemaker, Aaron Roisen announced his acceptance of a new position at Dr. Frank Winery.

Kim comes with an impressive resume including harvest experience in Washington State, Australia and France. Before joining the Three Brother’s team as Head Winemaker. Kim had previously also been the Assistant Winemaker at Sheldrake Point Winery.

“We’re thrilled to have Kim join our team. The professionalism and passion she shows for her craft are bar none” said Erica Paolicelli, Co-owner, “she’s enthusiastic and ready to make her mark in our region”.

Joining White in the cellar was Paige Vinson, who after years of home brewing, took the leap and joined the FLCC Wine, Enology and Viticulture program. After graduation, Vinson traveled to New Zealand, Australia and Oregon to work several harvests. She returned to NYS in 2015 to live and work in the Finger Lakes, the place she’s always called home.

“This duo is a dynamic, powerhouse and we couldn’t be more excited for their first vintage release” said Paolicelli. And I for one could not agree more. It is so refreshing to see such a dynamic duo in New York state.

Marconi and Vinson

The wine has a strange journey. Originally, this small production wine was released at part of Three Brothers Pilot Series, a series of experimental wines the winery issues. It was called Three Brothers Pilot Series Stir Crazy Valvin Muscat Sur Lie 2018. It was a small production release. But it gained almost immediate response from The Cork Report (review link below) for its surprising appeal.

Valvin Muscat is a relatively new grape. Valvin muscat was developed by grape breeder Bruce Reisch at the Cornell University New York State Agricultural Experiment Station and released on July 7, 2006. Valvin muscat is the result of a cross between Muscat Ottonel (vitis vinifera) and hybrid Muscat du Moulin (Couderc 299-35). It has distinct muscat (pronounced sweet floral) characteristics. 

That said, Valvin Muscat is usually used to make semi-sweet and sweet dessert styled wines. But the team of Marconi and Vinson turned the grape on its proverbial head. This wine remained on lees with weekly batonnage for 8 months. It was then racked and filtered. Batoonage is the French term for stirring settles lees back into the wine. Lees are the sediment of winemaking usually made up of dead yeast cells and bits of grape seeds and other solids. The winemakers aimed to enhance fruit and varietal characters while building mouthfeel in a grape that sometimes lacks texture. 

The 2019 edition of the wine received a change of name and label.  The Three Brothers Stoney Lonesome Valvin Muscat Sur Lie 2019 was an eye opener. The resulting wine is intense. The nose and palate of this 100% Valvin Muscat is a dry white wine with a nose that explodes with ripe fruit - lemon verbena, clementine oranges, jasmine, honeysuckle, white peach, pineapple, and key lime. It's got 1% residual sugar which balances out with the terrific acidity very very well. The result is an outstanding dry white wine with incredible complexity and immense drinkability. 

Absolutely impressive and fantastic! I can't wait to taste more from these two winemakers!


click on image for video

Join host Carlo DeVito as he travels through Zillah, Washington to the Rattlesnake Hills AVA to visit Tad and Sarah Fewel's Cultura Winery. A small boutique winery, make superior reds (that's all they make). And they make them in small quantities. And they're terrific. Enjoy!

click on image for video



Tuesday, December 08, 2020


click on image for video

Join host Carlo DeVito as he highlights 10 of his favorite Pinot Noirs from his  25,000 mile Stroopwaffle. Wines from California, Oregon, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, and Virginia are highlighted. Wineries include: Waltz Vineyards, Brooks Vineyards, Sokol Blosser, Durant, M. Cellars, Liten Buffel, Alba Vineyards and Ankida Ridge. If you like Pinot Noir, this is one you won't want to miss!

click on image for video

Thursday, December 03, 2020

Arrowhead Springs Vineyards: Stroopwaffle Episode 39


click image for video

Join host Carlo DeVito on his trip through the Niagara Escarpment in western Nork York state, to visit owners Robin and Duncan Ross, and sales director James Suscie, at Arrowhead Springs Vineyards. Fantastic wines. Up and coming wine region. Enjoy!!!

click image for video

Owners Duncan and Robin Ross

The Best Pet Nats, Piquette, and Sparkling: Stroopwaffle Episode 40

Click on Image for video

Join me as I cross the country and back for a tour of Pet Nats (Pettillant Naturel), Piquette, and sparkling wines. Here are 11 fun, accessible wines for those who love a light, thirst quenching sparkler. Wines from Greenvale Vineyards, Red Tail Ridge Winery, Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery, William Heritage Winery, Tomasello Winery, Bellview Winery, Glendale Ridge Vineyard, Wild Arc Farm, Beneduce Vineyards, Tousey Winery, Macari Wines, Leonard Oakes Estate Winery, and Old Westminster Winery. And La Garagista.

Includes winemakers Jack Tomasello Lisa Hinton Drew Baker Jonathan Oakes Nancy Irelan Billy Wilson Ben Peacock Kelly Koch Mike Beneduce Todd Wuerker and  special thanks to Lenn Thompson for use of two label shots!

Click on image for video