Sunday, August 29, 2010
Since we don't make it out to Adams County too often we left before the second set to explore two other wineries in the region. The first was Reid's Orchard & Winery - new to the wine business but an operating orchard for the past 35 years. Some of the grape varieties were similar to those at Adams County Winery - but there was more viniferia - Pinot Noir Syrah, Zinfandel, and Sangiovese. And better yet, Mr. Reid blends these - not many single varietal reds available. That's what we like to see. And they are not bad al all - try the Trioka or the Reid's Red. And like Adams County Winery - they have a satellite tasting facility in downtown Gettysburg.
We intended to head to Appalachian Brewing Company in downtown Gettysburg - but saw a sign for Hauser Estate Winery. Why not. This is another new winery which we were vaguely familiar since the Skyla Burrell Blues Band plays at the venue on some Friday nights. And these must be fun nights - the view is fantastic - overlooking the historic Round Barn and the rolling hills into Gettysburg. Since we had one more stop, we limited our tasting to the ciders and lower end wines; the premiums will wait another day. The ciders were excellent - particularly those blended with multiple apple varieties. The wines - a little disappointing. Most were single varietals that lacked flavor and depth. Maybe we should have gone directly to the premium list. But we will be back one night when Skyla's on the patio.
We finally made it into Gettysburg and rolled in right next to General Lee's Headquarters. That's the location for the Appalachian Brewing Company. We had intended to head north into Harrisburg to their main brewery - but decided a shorter trip was more prudent. And the beers are the same - brewed in Harrisburg and shipped south. We chose a sampler - eight beers - which gave us a good representation of the brewery's portfolio. Interestingly we enjoyed all but the seasonals - threw them back. But the main line is good - just what you would expect from each style - except for the Pale Ale. That beer has subtle hops - which allows the malt flavor to dominate - no west coast pale ale here. But their IPA is the hop bomb and really cleans the palette. If trying multiple beers - be warned - drink this last or else the lighter beers will taste bland. When in fact, the lighter beers are perhaps the strength of their styles. The lager has more flavor then any lager we've had previously and the hefe - is quite nice. We look forward to heading all the way into Harrisburg - that's where the music is - and a hotel.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Courtesy of the Norton Travelers:
Disclaimer: The writer is a member, but not associated with the Harvest Hosts organizers.
Do you travel by RV (recreational vehicle) and enjoy visiting vineyards? This is the case for us. There have been long trips made bearable with vineyard tour breaks along the way. And there have been trips made specifically to visit vineyards in only one geographical area or state. Over the years we have stayed overnight at vineyards with the permission of the owners. This has been usually because of vineyard events, literally getting lost, or waiting for next day winery opening hours. Now there is a new RV vineyard travel venue provided by Harvest Hosts.
Already in Harvest Hosts? first year of operation, there are over 160 vineyards (with new additions each month) belonging to a winery organization that allows you to stay overnight with them at no cost. Sure, there are wineries sporting full service fee camping with water and electricity in Arkansas, Idaho, Virginia, etc., but with a Harvest Hosts annual membership you get a downloadable listing of select vineyards that will let you stay without hookups FREE. Since most RVs are self-contained units, the possibilities of wine tour travel is unlimited from Florida-to-Maine-to-Washington State-to-California and almost every state in between.
FREE does not come without some very easy to live with restrictions and a simple Harvest Hosts membership Code of Conduct which includes: courtesy; calling ahead for confirmation space; arriving during business hours; checking if the host allows pets; staying no longer than 24 hours; take all trash with you; etc. Realize that these selected vineyard sites are not campgrounds, but are hosts that invite you to stay onsite and visit their winery. Required calling ahead secures if an overnight site is available. Most vineyards are limited to 1-to-4 vehicle and not available during special events as reunions, weddings, business receptions, or when they may be seasonally closed.
Benefits have included sitting quietly at a closed vineyard by yourself viewing sunsets with wine in hand, meeting some truly interesting vintners after winery hours, sharing with others lovely wines and travel ideas, or eating evening gourmet meals at the vineyard?s restaurant and retiring comfortably to your nearby RV. If you can live without RV hookups, a few common sense rules, and enjoy visiting vineyards, let me encourage you to look into Harvest Hosts (http://www.harvesthosts.com/).
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
For the first two days of this week, First Lady Maureen McDonnell will conduct a series of wine tours in Northern Virginia as a part of The First Lady’s Initiatives Team Effort. The group will visit Chrysalis Vineyards, Breaux Vineyards, Tarara Vineyards, Pearmund Cellars, Rappahannock Cellars, Philip Carter Winery. No doubt she will be able to sample some excellent Viognier, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot - grape varieties that do very well in the region.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
He first explained why Cabernet Franc is well suited for the Virginia climate. First, the grape seems to thrive in the clay soils. Second, the grape ripens early and is thus relatively unaffected by late season rain. Yes, Virginia can receive abundant late summer or early fall rain thanks to hurricanes or tropical storms moving north. Since the grape ripens early, this excess rain will not result in the plant generating more juice, thus diluting the overall concentration. And finally, Cabernet Franc grows in loose clusters, which enables air to move between the individual grapes - reducing chances of mold or rot that normally would result from the regions high summer humidity.
Now for the wines. We started with a dry rose, which actually contains a hint of sweetness from not allowing all the grape's sugar to ferment. However this sweetness is nicely balanced with an acidic finish - a nice summer wine. We then sampled a vertical tasting from grapes harvested from Benevino Vineyards. This estate lies higher in elevation and with more limestone soils, thus producing a different flavor composition from Sunset Hill's estate grown Cabernet Franc. The 2008 was made in a lighter style whereas the 2009 was given extended maturation which means after fermenting the juice sat with the skins and seeds for a few additional weeks. The result of yearly differences and this winemaking technique is a fuller wine. Even though this wine will remain in the barrel for another year, I liked it a lot more than the 2008.
We tasted the last two wines out of order - accidents happen - starting with the 2007 Reserve Cabernet Franc. It is well known the 2007 was an incredible growing season in Virginia, and this wine reflects the year. The winery also reduced yields, resulting in even more concentrated fruit. The result is an outstanding wine - full bodied, tannins suitable for aging - but not overpowering. Today may have been the last time tasting this one - supplies are very limited. We then retreated to the 2008 Cabernet Franc which wasn't bad; but after the '07, any comparison would be unfair. But it was a nice exercise in the difference that a single year can make. While not as full bodied, it has more pepper and spices than the preceding year and less tannins. Overall, not a bad wine.
After the class I did get a chance to share a bottle of the 2007 Reserve Cabernet Franc with Jim and a couple new friends. With Patty Reese playing in the background it was the best possible example why its worthy to drive an hour into the country: good wine, music, and friends.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
We arrived this past Saturday to a packed bar - but the brewpub is spacious enough to allow us to grab a seat. There were several families in attendance which was good to note for future outings. Plus the kitchen cooks every meal from scratch - event the cucumbers are pickled in house. However, instead of a food, we stuck to the beers and tried five brews: Altbier, Kolsch, Lindy's Weisse, 80 Shilling, and Wee Heavy. The first and last were our overall favorites - but don't ignore the middle. In order to mimic the flavors from those made in the German Dusseldorf region, Madden uses Munich and Chocolate wheat malts along with Spalt hops to create a perfectly balanced beer. Flavorful and smooth with a slight hop tail. The Kolsch will be our beer of choice when coming off the bike path. It is hoppier than most Cologne versions but the extra hops adds just enough refreshing characteristics to make this more than just a "light" beer. We were glad to see a hefeweisen offered and their Lindy's Weisse is a true Bavarian style Hefe. It is unfiltered, yeasty, and full of wheat flavor that includes an interesting mix of citrus and banana. Next up was the 80 Shilling served from the cask and this was actually a little disappointing. Just no real flavor - and we usually enjoy beers from the cask because the lower carbonation and higher serving temperatures usually enhance the flavor. This beer was soon forgotten when we sipped the Wee Heavy, a Scottish Ale and served in a sifter (8.6% abv). This is a sweet beer - some toffee flavors and is lightly hopped - just a full styled beer. Nicely done.
There is no doubt that the Mad Fox Brewing Company will become a regular stop in our beer adventures. Plus living so close and being less than a mile from the Old Dominion bike path makes it all too easy to become a regular. See you there.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
- Tues., August 17th Baltimore, MD V-
NO Wine Barin Fells Point
905 South Ann Street in Baltimore
First wine poured at 6:30pm. $29 per person includes the show and pours of all five Forgotten Grape varietals. For reservations call V-
NO at (410) 342- 8466
- Wed., August 18th Arlington, VA Twisted Vines Bottleshop & Bistro
2803 Columbia Pike in Arlington
First wine poured at 6:30pm. $35 per person includes the show and pours of all five Forgotten Grape varietals. Food will also be available for purchase at Twisted Vines. For reservations call Twisted Vines at (571) 482-
- SPECIAL FIVE-
COURSE FORGOTTEN GRAPES- PAIRED GOURMET DINNER
Fri., August 20th Wilmington, NC Temptations Everyday Gourmet
3501 Oleander Drive, Suite 13 in the Hanover Center
Dinner begins at 6:30pm. $75 per person includes the show, pours of all five Forgotten Grape varietals, and five specially prepared culinary creations from two of Wilmington’s Top Chefs, Michael Comer and Virginia Thompson, paired with each Forgotten Grape wine
For reservations call Temptations at (910) 763-
- Sat., August 21st Wilmington, NC The Seasoned Gourmet
1930 Eastwood Road, Suite 105 in the Lumina Commons
Dinner begins at 6:30pm. $45 per person includes the show, pours of all five Forgotten Grape varietals, and five unique “tapas-
style” bites created by The Seasoned Gourmet owner and culinary mastermind Susan Boyles to complement each Forgotten Grape wine. For reservations call The Seasoned Gourmet at (910) 256- 9488
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
* Lots of Summer Time Fun For The Whole Family
* THOUSANDS of CRABS and other great foods on-hand.
* There will be over 50 beers, wines and a few spirits. All of your favorite craft beers and perfectly paired wines will be served to highlight the seafood on-hand.
* Enjoy The Heavy Seas Beer Experience
* Enjoy The “Soon To Be World Famous” Chilled Tequila Tasting Bar. Margaritas and Wine-A-Ritas available for additional purchase.
* Taste The Great Food. There is Great Crabs and MORE CRABS and MORE CRABS and even MORE CRABS.
* Other great food options will be on-site as well for an additional purchase - summer favorites like hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages, pit beef, barbecue and other options.
* Live Music on The Main Stage! Enjoy the Sounds of local and regional favorite bands as they rock the waterfront.
* Special Kids Area and Family Fun Zone. Come and enjoy the moon bounces, activity centers and other great options so that the little ones can come out and enjoy too.
* Thousands of Tables and Chairs and Huge Tents for crackin’ to your heart’s content undercover with the beautiful summer breezes from the water. We’ve even ordered enough crab paper to stretch all the way across The Potomac and back.
* All the show features are undercover- so Rain or Shine- you should be fine.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
The bottle in question was the recently released Zwack Maximilian, a brandy made in Kecskemet from late harvest Furmint grapes grown in the Tokaj region. Great grape, great growing region - a nice start. Then the brandy is aged in oak barrels, bottled by hand, and the result is a fine, fine brandy. And it has an interesting story - made from a long lost family recipe first concocted in 1912.
From 1790 to the second world war, the Zwack distillery operated continually in Budapest under several forms of government - mostly unopposed. However, the WWWII was different and the distillery was destroyed along with the rest of the city from American bombers and Soviet troops. The rest is from the company's history page:
- "After the war, during which the family lived in a cellar with two unexploded bombs, which they nicknamed Rózsa and Zsuzsa, over their heads, Mitzi's two brothers, János and Béla, completely rebuilt the factory using the most modern technology available at the time.When, in 1948, the firm was finally ready to resume production at pre-war levels, the newly instated Communist government confiscated everything the family possessed with no compensation and "the world as I knew it", to quote Péter Zwack the present heir to the Zwack Company, "came to an end". János fled to the West sitting on his shooting stick under an upturned barrel with the Unicum recipe in his breast pocket, having bribed the Russian drivers to take him across the border. Béla chose to remain in Hungary, and was deported, together with thousands of other "class enemies", to eke out a miserable existence on the Great Hungarian Plain. Péter Zwack took a train to the Yugoslav border and then walked his way to Trieste where, with an overwhelming surge of joy and relief, he saw the British fleet at anchor in the bay.
- Péter Zwack returned to Europe in 1970. By then Unicum was already being successfully marketed and distributed in Italy, while Péter Zwack's role became that of opening up new markets and reviving old ones. As the winds of change swept over the whole Eastern bloc, Péter started to receive overtures from Hungary inviting him to return and take over the running of this old family factory.
- In 1987, while Hungary was still a Communist country, he took a gamble and returned home together with his family.
- Initially he entered into a Joint Venture with the Hungarian State and then in 1991, together with his partner, Emil Underberg, also a family company, he repurchased the entire State-owned conglomerate incorporating thirteen factories and thirteen hundred workers."
Today the distillery operates out of Kecskemet, a plant I must visit on our next trip overseas. And as for Unicum, maybe I was sampling the communist version and not the family version. The Zwack Maximilian - may last another week.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Episode 1: Cadillac Sky @ Tarara Winery