I received a message from Frank “Drink What You Like” Morgan about Saturday’s (March 28th) Open That Bottle of Virginia Wine Night. I thought this would be a good opportunity to lurk a bit on social media and learn (from home) more about Virginia Wine. (Take a look back via #VaWineNight.) Since we’re not going out and attending tastings, sitting at wine bars, and just congregating with friends over a few bottles, this was a great way to get educated and informed about local wines without leaving the domicile.
I’ll give another quick shout-out to Frank for his ongoing Virginia Wine Chats via Facebook. A few recent guests on this 30-minute video program (with links to their websites):
But wait. Lenn Thompson and Gina Shay of The Cork Report took this notion (with Frank’s blessing) and expanded it to Open That Bottle of Local Wine Night (#OpenLocalWine). So I checked in on wines from all over the country and saw what people were drinking. I know I missed many wine-producing states and even more bottles. So take some time perusing the two hashtags for innumerably more discoveries.
My goal with this post is spread some knowledge about, and give attention to, local wineries. As Lenn put it:
This is a tough time for local wineries, no matter where local is for you. Tasting rooms as we know them are closed down. Curbside pickup and online sales are helping keep wineries afloat, but no one really knows how long they’ll need to operate like this – or how long most will be able to, financially.
Staring with Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, who are amazing and inspiring. They write “Love By The Glass” for Grape Collective. I’ve been a fan of Macari Vineyards since I tried their Pinot Meunier (which I have a thing for). Not had the chance to try the 2019 rosé, but had a very memorable couple of glasses of the 2018 out of a 15-liter (!) bottle. (That’s 20 bottles-worth.)
One of my favorite wine country trips ever was to the Finger Lakes. The Riesling from dry to off-dry to sweet is all excellent, but there are plenty of other reds, whites, pinks, and sparklings to explore. Fond of Meg’s statement here: “I think the whole ‘I hate sweet wines’ thing is bs, no offense.” I’ll paraphrase/quote Terry Theise here, who says, “Sweetness is not a crime.”
Nebbiolo from VA? When it’s made by Luca Paschina, who is from Piedmont (Nebbiolo’s home….hello Barolo, Barbaresco) and winemaker at Barboursville Vineyards, yes please. Great-sounding paring here, BTW. (A little recap from my wonderful visit to Barboursville a few years ago is here.)
Ah, Early Mountain. I have really enjoyed their rosé in the past but I’m woefully behind on what they are up to. This Soif (“Thirst”) would be right up my alley. A blend of 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Franc, it’s a quaffable 12.3% ABV. And made via carbonic maceration (like some Beaujolais), which scientifically translates to fruity fresh fun.
Ten years ago (!) I had my first wines from Pennsylvania. And, sadly, none since. Now that I’m living on the East Coast I really have no excuse. Tantalized by this bottle from Penns Woods Winery, still going strong after 15 years.
PA GV?!? Whoa. Very cool, Nimble Hill Winery & Brewery. This ‘gram also smashes one of the most worthless food and wine pairing “rules.” See my classic (and very brief) post “Asparagus and Wine Blah Blah Blah” (2009 vintage). Gruner (or any zesty white wine) and asparagus are excellent. Fine use of #perfectpairing.
I have not had a Petite Pearl. Shelburne Vineyard‘s website explains why they do what they do, grape-wise:
Temperatures in Vermont can frequently dip below zero. And while our summers are short, they are often hot and humid. Grape varieties grown in our climate must be disease resistant and hardy enough to withstand such extremes of cold and humidity.
And here’s the deal with Petite Pearl:
A very new Minnesota hybrid red wine grape with excellent cold hardiness and disease resistance. Produces complex wines with soft tannins and low acidity.
Another cold-hardy grape: Marquettte, this one from Lincoln Peak Vineyard. It was also developed in Minnesota. Read about the work being done at the University of Minnesota:
The University of Minnesota is recognized as one of the top wine grape research programs in the country, with the goal of developing high-quality, cold-hardy, and disease-resistant wine grape cultivars. The wine grape breeding program began in the mid-’70s, and in 2000 an enology lab and research winery opened at the Horticultural Research Center.
Today more than 12,000 experimental vines are cultivated on 12 acres. Thousands of seedlings are produced each year using a diverse genetic base that includes classic Vitis vinifera cultivars, quality French hybrids, and hardy, disease-resistant selections based on V. riparia, Minnesota’s native grape.
From the Lake Erie appellation comes this estate-grown Gewürztraminer from Vermillion Valley Vineyards.
Wow, this is a really cool discovery. The first vintage from Michigan Wine Co! Also, yes to white wine and red meat. (Congratulations on getting label approval from the TTB, BTW.)
Blaufrankisch from Left Foot Charley. Big fan of this grape, also known as Lemberger. There’s a Pét-Nat version from a cool Washington winery I dig.
This is a great wine. Kudos to Ryme Cellar‘s Vermentino. Owners/winemakers Ryan and Megan Glaab both love Vermentino, but have a “fundamental disagreement of the most endearing qualities this grape has to offer.” Was détente possible? Yes:
The only compromise was to have separate projects, “His” and “Hers”. “Hers” with a green label harvested for freshness and energy. It is whole cluster pressed and bottled early. “His”, orange label, is fermented on the skins, and requires more time in barrel.
When I went to Lodi back in 2016, what really surprised me were the white wines. So much more than Zinfandel there. So go from Z to A with this Albariño from Bokisch Vineyards.
Yes to Savage Grace. A big fan of the lighter touch of Michael Savage’s wines. I’ve enjoyed his Loire-ish Cabernet Franc, but have yet to try his white Cab Franc. Making a white wine from red grapes has got to be a delicate matter, getting that clear juice without color/tannin impact from red grape skins. (Also try Savage Grace’s also Loire-ish Malbec, aka Côt.)
Let’s head to the cellar for a library wine, this 2005 from Fidelitas. Impressed by the perseverance through a difficult cork extraction here.
A very underrated grape from the Willamette Valley. So much more than outstanding Pinot Noir in this region, and the historic Willamette Valley Vineyards is a good place to start.
Elk Cove Vineyards makes very fine Pinot. But like WVV, don’t sleep on their Riesling. It ages beautifully.
Another Vermentino sighting, this one from Lost Draw Cellars. Nice food pairing.
A rosé in black and white. I dig the wine glass. William Chris Vineyard makes their pink from a blend of 60% Mourvèdre, 20% Malvasia Bianca (very interesting), and 20% Sangiovese.
If you read all the way here, thank you. Feel free to add what you opened in the comments.