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Friday, November 30, 2007

December Wine Festivals

The 2007 festival season is winding down and the Wine-Compass.com event database contains over 400 upcoming events in the United States and Canada. For those looking for wine festivals in December, here is a short list of events in several states:

California
Holidays in the Vineyards - Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association: December 1st-2nd

Missouri
Fifth Annual Kristkindl Markt - Hermann Wine Trail: December 8th-9th

New York
"Wreath Fineries @ 10 Wineries" The Shawangunk Wine Trail: December 1st-2nd
Deck The Halls - Seneca Lake Wine Trail: December 1st-2nd
Holiday Happening - Niagara Wine Trail: December 1st-2nd

Ohio
Very Cool Wine Trail - Ohio Wine Producers Association: December 1st-2nd
Tannenbaum Trail - The Wineries on the Vines & Wines Trail in Northeast Ohio - December 6th-7th
Very Cool Wine Trail - Ohio Wine Producers Association: December 7th-8th
Tannenbaum Trail - The Wineries on the Vines & Wines Trail in Northeast Ohio - December 14th-15th

Virginia
Heart of Virginia Jingle Bell Wine Trail - Heart of Virginia Wine Trail: December 1st-2nd
Deck the Halls Weekends - Shenandoah Valley Wine Growers Association: December 1st-2nd


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Marietta Cellars Old Vine Red Lot #44

Somehow we stumbled upon one of our new favorite values wines: Marietta Cellars Old Vine Red Lot #44. Located in Sonoma, Marietta Cellars specializes in Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Each year the winery creates a proprietary blend consisting of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Carignane and lesser amounts of Cabernet and Syrah. The current version, Old Vine Red Lot #44 is awesome - blackberry aroma - slightly spicy - but with a smooth, almost buttery finish. And priced under $15 it's a bargain.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Wine Gifts

Over Thanksgiving we were asked by several family and friends if we had any good wine gift ideas. I decided to compile a list and post for anyone interested. My basic philosophy is to give something a little different; and you can find good wines for less than $15.

For instance, why not try an Argentinian Alamos 2006 Malbec, a Spanish Mano a Mano 2005 La Mancha, a South African Beyerskloof 2006 Pinotage, or an Oregon Bridgeview 2004 Black Beauty Syrah. For whites or rose try an Austrian Velt. one 2005 Gruner Veltliner, an Italian Falesco 2004 Vitiano Bianco, or a Washington Chateau Ste. Michelle 2006 Neillie's Garden Dry Rose.

I also like giving dessert wines, although you will have to splurge a bit more. Try the California Quady 2005 Elysium Black Muscat, Hungarian Royal Tokaji Wine Company 2000 Red Label, or the Canadian Inniskillin 2006 Riesling Icewine.

For those looking for accessories the Riedel 'O' Series stemless wine glasses are becoming more popular. We've been using a similar style European wine tumbler for years. And everyone needs a proficient corkscrew, we use both the Rabbit 6-Piece Wine Corkscrew and the Insta-pull Lever Corkscrew.

Finally CelebrationCellars.com provides many gift ideas including personalized wine labels and celebrity sketches. I hope this list helps.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Grapes of Galilee

While reading through the Catholic Digest I saw an advertisement for The Grapes of GalileeTM, wine made from grapes grown between Mount Tabor and the Sea of Galilee. The wine is produced and imported by Georgia based Haroz Vintners and is marketed to the Catholic community. The company "suggests pouring The Grapes of Galilee at wedding receptions or communions, or any festive occasion where Christians seek a physical connection to their spiritual homeland." Currently there are three type of wine:

* Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - Deep royal purple, showing herbal and black olive flavors backed up nicely by currants and wild berries. Soft tannins and good balance make the wine fun to drink.
* Merlot 2005 - Medium bodied, with soft tannins and generous berry and black cherry fruits; very pleasant.
* Chardonnay 2006 - Light gold, medium bodied, with citrus and tropical fruits on a lightly earthy background. Good balancing acidity keeps the wine lively and fruity.

The labels depict Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan River and his walking on the Sea of Galilee. Haroz Vintners has received mostly positive reviews for simply producing the wines; while some believe the idea is distasteful. The wines are available online and at several retail outlets in selected states. Check their website for locations. I look forward to giving the wines a try, particularly as Israeli wines improve in quality.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Kokomo Winery 2005 Zinfandel, Perotti Vineyards

We have been drinking several different Zinfandel wines lately and our favorite has been the 2005 Zinfandel, Perotti Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley from Kokomo Winery. This three year old Sonoma Valley winery specializes in single vineyard wines, particularly Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and of course, Zinfandel. The Perotti Vineyards Zinfandel was fermented in French & American oak after harvesting from the famed third generation vineyard. This wine is pure Zinfandel - a raspberry forward flavor and a spicy complex finish. And the wine is reasonably priced at $22.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Miracle Valley Vineyard

Today we traveled out to the beautiful rolling hills of Virginia horse country to visit another of the state's newest wineries: Miracle Valley Vineyard and Winery. The winery and vineyard are located on a former cattle pasture and the tasting room is situated in a hundred and twenty five year old restored farm house. Its always enjoyable driving through country roads in Fauquier County and driving to Miracle Valley is no exception - even though it is located only a few miles from Route 66. The Cunningham family have created a warm environment by providing both a front patio and back deck - which overlooks the catfish stocked pond. Plus, the grounds and farm house were still decorated for Halloween which provided an additional cosy atmosphere. To learn about the inspiration for Miracle Valley Vineyard, you can read this excellent article at the Fauquier Times-Democrat.

Miracle Valley produces wines from traditional vinifera grapes and their red wines are classic Bordeaux. The 2005 Cabernet Franc is medium bodied - very fruit forward and a smooth finish. This wine joins the crowded competition among quality Virginia Cabernet Franc. The 2006 Merlot is full bodied with a strong berry flavor and a long spicy finish. This was our favorite red, but the wine maker's favorite is the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is aged 11 months in American oak that produces a strong fruity bouquet and a very spicy finish.

Miracle Valley currently offers three Chardonnay wines. The 2006 Chardonnay is fermented and aged in stainless steel, which produces a fresh crisp wine with nice acidity and citrus flavors. There are two 2006 Reserve Chardonnay wines, one fermented and aged in Hungarian oak and the other fermented in stainless steel, then aged in American oak. The later is spicier and more complex - which made it our favorite of their chardonnay. The final white wine is their Sweet Michelle - but don't let the name fool you. This is more of a semi-dry wine at 2% residual sugar and made from one of our favorite grapes: Rkatsiteli. It has the familiar spicy flavor and a somewhat dry finish. For those looking for something different, this is it.

This next Sunday on November 11th, Miracle Valley is hosting a children's fishing tournament from 1:00-3:00. We will have to wait until the Spring for our next visit - perhaps when their Viognier will be ready for sale.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Merlot Murders: A Wine Country Mystery

Recently a family member inquired if I had read Ellen Crosby's Merlot Murders: A Wine Country Mystery. She had enjoyed reading about the various places in Virginia that Ms. Crosby had incorporated in her book. I had first learned of the Merlot Murders while visiting Swedenburg Estate Vineyard, where Ms. Crosby was a frequent visitor researching winemaking and the Virginia wine industry. A few months ago, Swedenburg hosted a book signing for her next book: Chardonnay Charade: A Wine Country Mystery. As you may recall, Juanita Swedenburg was the lead litigant in the Supreme Court's decision to force states to treat out of state wineries the same as in state wineries. Look for the December issue of the Virginia Wine Lover Magazine where Ms. Crosby will post a tribute to Mrs. Swedenburg as she "writes about her memories of Juanita Swedenburg and her contributions to the novel."

Thursday, November 1, 2007

November Wine Festivals

The Wine-Compass.com event database contains over 566 upcoming events in the United States and Canada. For those looking for wine festivals in November, here is a short list of events in several states:

Arkansas
Eureka Springs Food and Wine Weekend - Carefree: November 7th-11th

Arizona
Carefree Fine Art and Wine Festival - Carefree: November 2nd-4th

British Columbia
Wine and Food Celebration Whistler: November 8th-11th

California
17th Annual Harvest Celebration - San Luis Obispo Vintners Association: November 2nd-4th
The Art of Food & WineDesert Springs JW Marriott Resort & Spa, Palm Desert: November 8th-11th
11th Annual Great Wine Escape Weekend -Monterey: November 9th-11th
San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival - San Diego: November 14th-18th

Colorado
Denver International Wine Festival - Denver: November 1st-4th

Delaware
Dover Downs Wine and Jazz Festival - Dover: November 9th-11th

Florida
Epcot Int'l Food & Wine Festival - Lake Buena Vista: September 28th-November 11th
17th Annual Holiday Open House - Lakeridge Winery: November 9th-11th
Suncoast Winefestival - Lakewood Ranch: November 10th

Georgia
Our First Anniversary Celebration - Sharp Mountain Vineyards: November 30th

Iowa
Holiday Food & Wine Weekend- Upper Mississippi Valley Wine Trail: November 3rd-4th

Kentucky
Holiday Open House - Smith-Berry Winery: November -24th

Maryland
Waterfowl Festival - Easton: November 9th-11th

Massachusetts
New Wine Festival - Chester Hill Winery: November 3rd-4th
Wine and Apples Festival - Russell Orchards Winery: November 10th-11th

Michigan
Holiday Cheer - Southwest Michigan Wine Trail: November 10th-11th
The Big Grape Tour - Southeast Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail: November 10th-11th
Toast the Season - Leelanau Peninsula Vintners: November 10th-11th
Toast the Season - Leelanau Peninsula Vintners: November 17th-18th
Mac and Cheese Bakeoff - Old Mission Peninsula: November 24th

Missouri
Holiday Fare Wine Trail - Hermann Wine Trail: November 17th-18th

New Jersey
Holiday Wine Trail Weekend
- Garden State Wine Growers Association: November 23th-25th

New York
Holiday Wine Weekends
Chautauqua Lake Erie Wine Trail: November 3rd-4th
Holiday Wine Weekends
Chautauqua Lake Erie Wine Trail: November 10th-11th
Keuka Holidays I Keuka Lake Wine Trail: November 10th-11th
Keuka Holidays II Keuka Lake Wine Trail: November 17th-18th
Deck the Halls Seneca Lake Wine Trail: November 17th-18th

Ontario
Ottawa Wine & Food Show- Ottawa: November 2nd-7th
"Taste the Season" Niagara on the Lake Wineries: November 10th-11th
Gourmet Food & Wine Expo
- Toronto: November 15th-18th
"Taste the Season"
Niagara on the Lake Wineries: November 17th-18th
"Taste the Season" Niagara on the Lake Wineries: November 24th-25th

Oregon
Northwest Food and Wine Festival – Portland: November 10th-11th
2007 Wine Country Thanksgiving - Willamette Valley Wineries Association: November 23rd-25th

Pennsylvania
Holiday Wine Weekends Chautauqua Lake Erie Wine Trail: November 3rd-4th
Holiday Wine Weekends
Chautauqua Lake Erie Wine Trail: November 10th-11th
The Pennsylvania Food and Beverage Show - York: November 17th-18th
Nouveau Weekend - Go "NuVo" Lehigh Valley Wine Trail: November 17th-18th

South Carolina
Blessing of the Vines - Irvin-House Vineyards: November 10th
Island Fever Music Fest - La Belle Amie Vineyard: November 10th
Holiday Spirits Fest - La Belle Amie Vineyard: November 24th

Tennessee
Wine Down Main StreetFranklin: November 2nd

Texas
Art & Wine Trail -
Texas Hill Country Lake Region: November 17th-18th

Virginia
Harvest Passport Weekend - Heart of Virginia Wine Trail: November 3rd-4th
Deck the Halls Weekends & Wine Tasting - Shenandoah Valley Wine Growers Association: November 17th-18th
Grand Opening - Bluemont Vineyards: November 17th-18th
Deck the Halls Weekends & Wine Tasting - Shenandoah Valley Wine Growers Association: November 24th-25th

Washington
Thanksgiving in the Wine Country - Yakima Valley: November 23rd-25th
Autum Barrel Tasting - Columbia Cascade Winery Association: November 30th-December 2nd