Music City Food & Wine Festival 2016

Photo courtesy of Music City Food & Wine Festival

Photo courtesy of Music City Food & Wine Festival

     Pull out your Tony Lama’s and pack your best pair of jeans then head on over to Nashville, Tennessee the weekend of September 17th & 18th for the 2016 Music City Food & Wine Festival. Nashville is a fabulous city to visit on any weekend with its legendary music venues and world-class attractions. When you add the 2016 Music City Food & Wine Festival into the mix this weekend will be off the charts both musically and gastronomically.

This event is packed full of appearances by celebrity chefs and personalities with the likes of Jonathan Waxman, Michael Symon, Aaron Sanchez and Ludo Lefebvre, to name a VERY few. When planning to attend Music City F&W it is essential that you visit musiccityfoodwine.com for a complete schedule of dates and times for activities being offered to maximize your festival experience.

     Tickets are $150 for Saturday 9/17/2016, $150 for Sunday 9/18/2016, $275 for Harvest Night Festivities Saturday 9/17/2016 7pm-11pm and $500 for All-In-Weekend. For ticket info. visit their website or call 888-512-7469. Music City F&W is a 21+ event.

Other helpful websites: visitmusiccity.com      Instagram @musiccityfw 

everfest.com  also for tickets.

 

 

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Ridge Runner Distillery

     When I promised Sharon Klay that I would visit her son Christian’s newly opened Ridge Runner Distillery I had no idea that it would take me more than a year to keep that promise. Christian Klay built his distillery directly across the road from the Christian W. Klay Winery in Chalk Hill, Pa with the idea of not only providing the Laurel Highlands with a top-notch attraction but also to take advantage of a great synergy with the family winery.

     My wife and I made our drive to Fayette County under brilliant blue Western Pennsylvania skies. As we topped the Summit on Route 40 near Uniontown I was reminded of the comments of first-time visitors to the Laurel Highland about the deep verdant color of the landscape. I was also reminded of the lyrics from a classic bluegrass song which I sang out with my best “Grand Ole Opry” twang “On the sunny side of the mountain where the ripplin waters fall.” It seemed appropriate for the time and place:-)

Ridge Runner Distillery offers free tastings of all their products. I would suggest starting with their menu of moonshine which is composed of two flavored 50 proof spirits, Apple Pie Moonshine and Peach Pie Moonshine and the 100 proof straight corn mash  Ridge Runner Moonshine. These moonshine are easy to drink and polished making them a far cry from the backwoods “Shine” of folklore that was of unknown origin and made its rounds in old plastic milk jugs. {Or so I have heard :-)} While you are there you shouldn’t pass up the chance to taste their own 80 proof Vodka and Rum.

Thanks to Ridge Runner Distillery for the quality product and the friendly and knowledgeable staff that made our trip over the mountain well worth it!

RRD sign2

 

 

Our tasting guides Tia & Melissa.

Our tasting guides Tia & Melissa.

Bottles of Moonshine, Rum and Vodka for sale @ Ridge Runner Distillery

Bottles of Moonshine, Rum and Vodka for sale @ Ridge Runner Distillery

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DeChaunac Anyone?

DeChaunac Wine Grape: Photo Courtesy: doubleavineyards.com

DeChaunac Wine Grape: Photo Courtesy: doubleavineyards.com

     If you have ever tasted or even heard of DeChaunac you probably have been to the Northeastern U.S., Nova Scotia or Ontario, Canada. DeChaunac is a French-American hybrid red wine grape developed by legendary French hybridizer Albert Seibel (1844-1935). This grape is also known as Seibel 9549 and is believed to be a cross between Seibel 5163 and Siebel 793. It was named after Ontario, Canada wine industry pioneer Adhemar de Chaunac, but in a strange twist of fate, may not be bottled as a varietal under Canada’s VQA system.

     When you first see DeChaunac your eyes will deceive you. After seeing this wines very dark and inky color in your glass you will be surprised by the light to medium body of such a dark wine. In my opinion a well-made DeChaunac will have a solid structure to carry complex flavors of black and red cherries, blackberry and prune with a bit of a musty nose.

     This wine can be blended with other wine to impart an “aged” characteristic but the blend must be kept at or below 7% or it can through the wine off according to J. Stephen Casscels, author of “Wine Grapes of the Hudson Valley and Other Cool Climate Regions of the United States and Canada”http://flintminepress.com

    Now that we have explored the heritage of the DeChaunac wine grape and discussed the wines made from it you might be curious about how it tastes. DeChaunac is not produced as widely as it once was but with a little research you can still find some excellent product.  Here are two examples of how a wine made from the same variety of grapes in different styles can yield wines with similar but unique characteristics. The following are two fine Pennsylvania grown and made DeChaunac.

Ripepi DeChaunac: Dry oak-aged red wine made in a Chianti-style with medium body displaying flavors of black fruit complemented by velvety tannins and a lingering finish.    

Ripepi Winery 93 Van Voorhis Lane  Monongahela, Pa http://ripepiwine.com

Narcisi 2015 DeChaunac: Slightly sweet medium-bodied wine with flavors of oranges, plum and cherries. Balanced acidity and a tart finish

Narcisi Winery 4578 Gibsonia Road  Gibsonia, Pa http://narcisiwinery.com

 

 

 

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Pittsburgh Wine Festival

Heinz field

Heinz Field Pittsburgh Pa

     The 2016 Pittsburgh Wine Festival will be held Thursday May 5th, 2016 at Heinz Field East and West Club lounges. The 14th annual Pittsburgh Wine Festival will be pouring more than 500 wines and will be hosting several celebrity wine makers. Among the celebrities appearing will be Lida Bastianich and Charles Woodson. Lida will be signing copies of her latest cookbook “Lida’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine”. A tasting of specialties from her restaurant Lidia’s Pittsburgh will be offered as will a tasting of wines from her family’s winery in Italy, Azienda Agricola Bastianich. Former Oakland Raider Charles Woodson will be presenting a tasting of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc from his Napa Valley boutique winery, Twenty Four Wines.

Tickets are $250 for V.I.P. Tasting and $125 for Grand Tasting. Tip! Grand Tasting tickets are available for 1/2 price for a limited time. Tickets and event details can be found at http://pittsburghwinefestival.com

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Free: New Wine Spectator App

     Wine Spectator has released a new app for iPhones and iPads, but wait it gets better because it is FREE. The app is named Xvalues and claims that the user will “Never buy bad wine again.” “Period.” Xvalues is the latest release from WS and is built on the simple idea that most people are looking for a good wine at a good price when shopping for wine. This app helps the shopper find a good wine at a value price. You can search four topics to find the bottle that best suits your tastes. The four search perimeters are  1) Top Values $12 dollars & under rated 85+    2) Reds $20 & under rated 87+   3) Whites $20 & under rated 87+   4) Sparklers $40 & under rated 85+.

     This app has the potential to be very helpful because it uses Wine Spectator’s rating system to pair the consumer with well-priced readily available wines. Ultimately, the final decision will be based on the buyers preferences but this will assist them in the process of narrowing the field of choices.

     Go to http://apps.winespectator.com or search Xvalues in the Apple App store to get your free app.     

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Cool Climate Grapes

     When I was in Monongahela, Pa recently I visited my friends at the Ripepi Winery & Vineyard. I couldn’t have picked a better time to visit because Rich Ripepi and Pete Abvulovic had just unpacked their new Hanna Total Acid and Ph machine for the lab and were setting it up. Rich said the vineyard had come though the winter in great shape. Today turned grape book1out to be my lucky day because Rich had a book he thought I would enjoy reading. Grapes of the Hudson Valley and Other Cool Climate Regions of the United States and Canada by J. Stephen Casscles. It is a comprehensive work covering every aspect of propagating cool climate wine grapes in the northern U.S. and Canada.

He approaches the subject from an expert’s point of view drawing upon his lifetime of experience in the Hudson Valley of New York. This publication can be viewed as the most in-depth account of the history of  hybridization of cool climate grapevines ever published. Casscles has cataloged the genetic heritage of an amazing number of hybridized grapes by the person or organization that developed them. I think you will be surprised to learn where the genetic material of your favorite grapes came from and why they exhibit the characteristics they do. You may also be disappointed to find out that there is no such thing as a pure strain of grape. The truth is they all have genes from other strains in their genetic profile. To prove this fact Casscles uses the example of the “pure” Chardonnay grape. Chardonnay is a combination of a Pinot

Title Page Signed by J. Stephen Casseles

Title Page Signed by J. Stephen Casscles

Noir clone and the bulk white wine/table grape Gouais Blanc.

This book is a must read for anyone growing or wanting to grow wine grapes in a cool climate region of North America. It provides the reader with an immense amount of information and has references to almost any information resource you may need. If you are looking for a handbook/field guide/reference publication for cool climate grapes this is the book for you.

Published by:  Flint Mine Press     http://www.flintminepress.com                      

 

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Golden B&W Memories

Eugenia Frank

Eugenia Frank

Dr. Konstantin Frank Wine Cellars, Hammondsport NY, is releasing it’s new line of single vineyard wines named in honor of three of the most prominent Frank women and the contributions that they have made to the Frank winemaking legacy. These highly anticipated releases celebrate Eugenia (wife of Dr. Konstantin Frank), Hilda (daughter of Dr. Konstantin Frank) and Margrit (wife of Willy Frank).

     “Eugenia” was released in December 2015 and is a Single Vineyard Riesling made from the oldest block of Riesling grown on the winery’s Keuka Lake estate. It was from these steep slopes and shale-rich acidic soil that Dr. Konstantin Frank produced his first Finger Lakes Riesling many years ago. The winery tasting notes describe this Riesling as “Bone dry, with brilliant acidity, elegant minerality and notes of Key lime, stone fruits, pineapple and lime zest.” Cellar through 2024.

     On January 9th, 2016 Dr. Frank Wine Cellars released the second wine in the “Frank Women’s Series”. “Margrit” is a 2014 Riesling made from Dr. Frank’s Hector, NY vineyards. This vineyard is also on a steep slope and is known for being one of the warmest in the FLX. The property has a loamy soil profile that produces a ripe, fruit forward wine. The tasting notes say this Riesling has flavors that are “Tart, tangerine, Granny Smith apple and grassy with a balanced acidity.” Due to limited production these wines will only be available for purchase in their tasting room.

     I think these great photos transcend time and place to express a certain elegance and class that is hard to find in present day society. All photos courtesy of Dr. Frank Wine Cellars. A special thank you to Erin Flynn at Dr. Frank’s for her excellent articles about the Frank women that were the source for this article.

DrFrankwines.com          Twitter: @DrFrankwine

Margrit Frank

Margrit Frank

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Book Review: Tangled Vines

Photo Courtesy: St Martin's Press

Photo Courtesy: St Martin’s Press

     When I saw Tangled Vines: Greed, Murder, Obsession and an Arsonist in the Vineyards of California by Frances Dinkelspiel in my stocking on Christmas morning I could hardly wait to begin reading this novel. But when I started to read it I immediately realized that it was the true story of the Wines Central Warehouse fire that had all the elements of the title being methodically recounted in detail by author Frances Dinkelspiel, who herself has a family connection to the tragedy. She lifts the veil of the California industry to let her readers see just how entangled the lives of the people at the center of this empire really are.

     You will recognize many of the names in the book and you may be surprised by how they are portrayed. I would Google many of the events mentioned in the book to read the news accounts of them and get a feel for the accuracy of her reporting. She is very accurate! The California wine community pulled itself through this senseless tragedy by banding together and moving forward.

I would recommend Tangled Vines By France Dinkelspiel to anyone who enjoys reading about real-life drama set in a iconic environment. This had to be a true story because you can’t make this kind of stuff up.

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From The Beginning

     I have been told great wine is made in the vineyard. I believe this to be true because no matter how good a winemaker is there is only so much they can do in the winery to improve a wine made from average grapes. There are a myriad of factors effecting grape quality in a vineyard but it all starts with the vine. Virtually all wine grapes in the U.S., with the exception of those grown in Washington state, are grown on grafted vines. Grafted vines have Phylloxera resistant rootstock with scions of a varietal wine grape grafted to it. Phylloxera is a tiny aphid-like insect that feeds on the roots of the Vitis vinifera grape.

In the not-so-distant past the world’s wine vineyards were devastated by this pest but it isn’t the only threat to the vines. There is a long list of disease, fungus, mold and pests of all shapes and sizes that can damage a vineyard. Dagger and Rootknot are caused by Nematodes (microscopic worms) and are a common problem in the eastern U.S. but their threat can be lessened by choosing the correct rootstock for your situation. Because there are so many factors to consider when choosing a vine for your site it is important to evaluate the characteristic of each rootstock to match it to the needs of your vineyard. The 3309c rootstock is the most widely used rootstock in the eastern U.S. and it can be said that eastern viticulture is built on it.

     In Washington they grow grapes on own rooted vines that makes them susceptible to Phylloxera, although Phylloxera has never been reported there.  The advantage of own rooted vines is that if they are damaged they can regrow from the roots while if a grafted vine is damaged below the graft it has to be replaced or regrafted. A study comparing grapes grown on own rooted vs. grafted vines showed for all practical purposes there was no difference in the quality of fruit produced.

     The Grafted Grapevine Nursery in Clifton Springs, NY was started in 1957 by Herman and Ute Amberg while Herman was working for Dr. N. Shaulis at Cornell University’s Geneva Experimental Station. They specialize primary in one year old bench-grafts but a few varieties are available as own rooted. While looking for Saperavi vines I had the pleasure to correspond with Herman and Ute’s son and Operations Manager Eric. The following is an excerpt from an email Eric sent me in response to my questions about the availability of grafted Saperavi vines and his opinion on a planting density plan for Saperavi.

     “We will be propagating extra Saperavi this year to compensate for its sudden surge in interest. Regarding the planting density for Saperavi. The number of vines is a factor of row spacing and vine density within the row. Row spacing is based more on your equipment than the vine’s need. The standard spacing in most of the eastern half of the country is 9 feet. Density within the row is based more on the vines vigor and training system. We have found that a 7 foot spacing works well. Therefore 691 vines/acre would be appropriate.”

     We sometimes forget just how much thought, effort, cash investment and yes, good luck goes into a great bottle of wine.  Contact info:  graftedgrapevines.com 

Grapevine Pricing Charting: Courtesy of Grafted Grapevine Nursery

Grapevine Pricing Charting: Courtesy of Grafted Grapevine Nursery

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You and I

     I want to thank you for being my companion on this journey. I appreciate all the support you have shown me with your “Likes”, “Hits” and “Comments” that have served as a steady stream of encouragement for me. The purpose of this blog has never been to reach the masses and have millions of followers by providing a broad overview of the entire wine universe. Nor was it ever intended to delve into the hyper-focused classic fine wine scene. This blog was started to give you insight into the community of wine producers on the East Coast. None of this could have been possible without the cooperation of the wine makers who generously donated their time and knowledge to supply me with content that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else.

     I cherish the new friendships I have made and the old friendships that have strengthen because of this blog while always looking forward to friends I have yet to meet. There are times when I feel like an explorer sending reports from a distant frontier into the abyss not knowing where they are going or even if they will be viewed at all. I am grateful to know that you are out there, whether your close to my home or in some far-flung corner of the world, listening and responding. I will continue to do my best to give you a peek inside the wineries and report newsworthy events as they develop throughout the coming year.

     Wishing you and your family a Happy & Healthy New Year. 

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