Uptown Funk

bridges_moscato_front__200     From Pittsburgh’s East End the Bridges Wine Company will be bringing their wines to the Pittsburgh Public Market, 2401 Penn Ave. in the Strip District for the next two weekends.  Get a taste of what Bridges Wine has to offer on Saturday March 14th & 21st from 9-5 and Sunday March 15th & 22nd from 10-4.  The newly released 2014 Washington Moscato will be available for $15 along with the Bridges 2012 Pinot Noir and 2012 Zinfandel.  James and Rebecca McCeney will also be offering special discounts on multiple bottle purchases.

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West Pa. Winery & Brewery Website

antenna     West Pa. Winery & Brewery is the companion website to this blog.  I started this site as a comprehensive source of contact information for many of the wineries and breweries in Western Pennsylvania.  The homepage allows you to choose directories for wineries and breweries that list addresses, phone numbers, and links to these businesses.  Links to this months and next months scheduled events can be easily accessed by clicking on the desired months tab.  You can view photos either on the gallery page or on the scrolling slide show on the homepage.  The “More” tab contains pages for contacting me with your event info, a Finger Lakes Region winery directory plus a page linking you to some of my blog posts.  I started this website with the sole purpose of providing a place where you could find all the info about the wineries and breweries in West Pa.  I don’t have a hit counter on this site and had no idea if it was being used until  I was doing maintenance on it and I noticed it had 5000 Facebook “Likes”.  There isn’t a Facebook page for this site and I am asking everyone to help me promote it by giving it a “Like”, tweet, retweet, post, repost, well you get the idea.  I hope this site can be helpful in educating the public on what is available for them in the area of winery and brewery entertainment.  Thank You    twitter@wpawinepirate     West Pa. Winery & Brewery

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On the Edge of Glory

Fero Logo     I talked with Chuck Zaleski of Fero Vineyards & Winery in Lewisburg, Pa recently and got the inside story on “What’s New” at his winery.  When I asked about the 2014 harvest his voice filled with pride and excitement saying it was a record year in both quality and quantity.  The harvest was so good that he even sold some grapes this year.  It is a good thing that his vineyards are producing extraordinarily well because Chuck was planning on sales growth of 20% last year but it came in at 30%.  This year he will hold growth to 20% because his focus is always on the quality of the wine being maintained and improved.  Fero is the only producing Saperavi vineyard in Pennsylvania and Chuck’s plan is to double his acreage of Saperavi grapes as soon as he can acquire the vines.

Fero will be adding three new sweet wines to the menu this year.  The apple, cherry and peach wines will be made from the same Grüner Veltliner grapes grown in their vineyard that produced a Double Gold medal winner at the 2015 Pa. Farm Show.  Chuck makes great sweet wines but his real passion is for his excellent dry wines.  The judges at the 2015 Pa. Farm Show awarded Fero Vineyards & Winery 8 medals, they are: Double Gold: Grüner Veltliner , Gold: Pinot Gris, 3 Silver: Reisling, Pinot Noir and Saperavi and 3 Bronze.

This year’s fund- raising schedule is nearly full with only a very few dates still available.  New this year will be the Wine-N-Mile on May 29th.  This event is similar to a Beer-N-Mile where runners race a figure 8 course through the vineyard stopping at six stations to drink 2 ounces of wine at each.  After the race guests are invited to stay for live music and the summer “Happy Hour” kickoff.

If you would like more information about Fero Vineyards & Winery wine or events visit www.ferovineyards.com or call 570-568-0846

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Ripepi Winery & Vineyard

Ripepi logo

Winery Manager: Chuck Abvulovic (L)  Owner&Winemaker: Rich Ripepi(R)

Winery Manager: Chuck Abvulovic (L) Owner&Winemaker: Rich Ripepi(R)

     When you think of leaders in the resurgence of winemaking in Western Pennsylvania one name that should immediately come to mind is Richard Ripepi and his Ripepi Winery & Vineyard in Monongahela.  Rich showed great foresight when he founded his vineyard in 1987.  Those initial rows of grapes have now grown into a 10 acre vineyard containing nearly 5000 vines made up of 21 different varieties of wine grapes. 

     The day I visited Rich I found him to be the same welcoming and gracious host that I have come to know over the years, the kind that always makes you feel like one of the family.  While sitting in his tasting room I took the opportunity to ask him how the 2014 season had played out.  He told me it started out in early March with him leaving on extra buds because that was the consensus last year due to the extreme winter we had just experienced and the excepted damage it had caused to the vines.  In reality his vines sustained little if any damage with the exception being his Cabernet Sauvignon that required some vines to be replaced because of winter damage.  The spring brought rain and extra growth that prepared the vines for a huge volume of fruit to be set.  After June 10th normally the grapes should on the vines signaling it is time for the nets to go up and the spraying program to end.  It rained hard all summer and because of that the spraying had to continue to protect the crop.  By late August the vines were so laden with fruit Rich had to make a decision whether to drop a portion of the fruit or roll the dice on perfect fall weather.  Rich went with rolling the dice and he won.  September had abundant sunshine and little rain making conditions favorable for all of his grape varieties to ripen within a 3 week picking window instead of the usual 6 week harvest season.  Rich was both surprised and delighted with the resulting harvest that was the most bountiful and high quality of any in the history of Ripepi Vineyard.  Vines that usually average 7 to 8 pounds of fruit each produced 10 to 12 pounds per plant in 2014. 

     Work at a winery may slow in the winter but it never stops.  During my visit they were moving 800 gallons of wine outside to cold stabilize while Winery Manager Chuck Abvulovic was in the lab working to find the alcohol content of various wines.  Decisions were being made on which Ripepi wines would be sent to the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition (F.L.I.W.C.) and which would be entered into the Pennsylvania Wine Association (P.W.A.) competition. 

     Rich honed his wine making skills by attending conferences and workshops sponsored by various universities and wine industry organizations.  During the early days of his winery he was helped immensely by two people that he met at these gatherings.  Rich made a special point to acknowledge the invaluable help given to him by his friends and viticulture experts, the late Robert Pool of Cornell University and the late Dr. Garth Cahoon of Ohio State University. 

     No trip to Ripepi Winery & Vineyard would be complete without tasting wine.  I tasted his award-winning DeChaunac, an excellent Merlot-like Chancellor and the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon.  The Cab was especially enjoyable because it contained grapes that my wife and I helped pick during the 2013 harvest that was featured in my post ” Harvest at Ripepi Winery “.  For more information go to www.ripepiwine.com or follow him on twitter at @RipepiWinery     Phone: 724-288-3738 

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Fero Estate Lemberger 2013

Fero Estate Lemberger 2013

Fero Estate Lemberger 2013

     I have written several posts lately extolling the virtues off the Saperavi grape as the “Next Big Thing” for Eastern winemaking.  I have never written one single post about the forgotten role that the late-ripening Lemberger grape has been cast to play in the evolution of the wine industry above latitude 40° north.  Fero Vineyards & Winery in Lewisburg, Pa produces a superb example of what can be done with Lemberger grapes that have been painstakingly cared for and expertly transformed into their Estate Lemberger 2013.  The beautiful garnet color is the first thing you notice about this Lemberger followed by the notes of oak.  Chuck Zaleski is a master at using oak to coax out the hidden flavors from his wine while adding a sophisticated complexity at the same time.  Chucks light-handed use of oak with this wine brings out the red fruit and spice (think black pepper) taste while adding depth.  A medium body carries the soft tannins into a long and lingering spicy finish.  This wine has good acidity which makes it pair well with red meat, barbeque and even red sauce.  Note: Winemaker Chuck Zaleski suggested I should let it breath.  I not only let it breath I used an aerator on a couple of glasses. His suggestion was right on the mark, the added aeration opened it up and added a little something extra.  www.ferovineyards.com 

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Food & Wine Classic in Aspen

    

Photo Courtesy: Wine and Food 2014 Aspen Classic

Photo Courtesy: Wine and Food 2014 Classic Aspen

The Food & Wine Classic in Aspen will be celebrated June 19-21, 2015 in Aspen, Colorado.  Tickets are on sale now at www.foodandwine.com/classic or by phone at 877-900-wine.  You can find answers to many of your questions by accessing the F.A.Q. tab on the above website.  Some of the useful information that can be found there includes what a guest should wear when visiting the mountains at high altitude or whether pets or smoking will be allowed at any Food & Wine Classic Aspen events? The answer to both of those questions would be NO.  These events provide a unique opportunity to meet and learn from some of the best chefs in the world.

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Oak

     The flavor and aroma of oak in wine is only second to Red or White in dividing wine drinkers.  Many people simply will not give themselves a chance to appreciate how oak can be artfully used to enhance wine quality whether it’s Red or White.  I like the flavor of oak in any of its applications especially when it is used to shape a wine into a more complex version of itself. Wine makers have leaned on oak barrels for centuries to give their wine both structure and flavors.  The oxygen that seeps into the barrels helps mature the wine while causing the loss of a small amount of wine that is said to be the ” Angel

New Oak Wine Barrel

New Oak Wine Barrel

Share”.  Oak wood for wine barrels is grown throughout the world and has a distinctive flavor associated with each region from which it is harvested.  American Oak has a pronounced level of flavor that is imparted to the wine while French Oak is said to be more subtle (Let the arguments begin).  Coopers are able to give wine makers more control over their flavors by the amount of toasting they do to the inside of a barrel, mixing different kinds oak staves used to make a barrel and even making the oak wood in to chips or sticks that can be floated in vats of wine.  Today’s wine makers don’t have to paint the portrait of a wine using only broad brush strokes of oak, they can paint shadows of light and dark accents of flavors with the precision of an artist using small brush strokes to bring out all the nuances of a wine.  The organic compounds that are released into the wine give it structure and flavor while drawing out hidden flavors to add complexity to the wine.  When done correctly the addition of oak can produce a truly unique wine.  The difference that oak makes in the personality of a wine can be seen by tasting three different Chardonnay. The first being made entirely in stainless steel to preserve fruit flavors, the second aged in used barrels for texture only and the third aged in new oak to get a creamy texture plus an aromatic vanilla taste.  After tasting the differences in the three you will be able to the tell which methods you like the best.

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2015 Pa Farm Show Wine Results

Congratulations and Thank You to all the wineries that participated in this years competition.  The entire palate of Pennsylvania wines that paint the portrait of this state’s evolving wine heritage were on display.

Double Gold: Best of Show Grape:  Penns Woods Winery 2009 Cabernet Reserve .           Double Gold: Best of Show Sweet/Dessert:  Happy Valley Vineyard & Winery 2011 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine                                                                                                                                       Gold: Best of Show Fruit:  Starr Hill Vineyard & Winery 2013 Guilty Pleasure

Other local wineries that received medals in recognition for producing high quality wine were:

Fero Vineyards & Winery                                                                                                                        Double Gold:  2013 Grüner Veltliner                                                                                                Gold:  2013 Pinot Gris                                                                                                                             Silver: 2013 Pinot Noir  and    2012 Riesling                                                                                      Bronze:  2012 Semi-Dry Riesling,  NV Spiced Apple,  NV Chocolate

Glades Pike Winery                                                                                                                                  Gold:  2012 Petit Verdot                                                                                                                      Silver:  2013 Spiced Apple                                                                                                                     Bronze:  2014 Black & Blue,  2013 Noiret

Narcisi Winery                                                                                                                                    Silver:  2013 Riesling                                                                                                                         Bronze:  2013 Rosabella,  2013 Noiret

The Vineyard at Hershey                                                                                                                  Bronze:  2013 Blackberry Portrait,  2013 Sweet Riesling,  2013 Pink Catawba,  2012 Merlot,  2013 Oaked Chardonnay

Christian W. Klay Winery                                                                                                                  Silver:  2013 Lavander Mist

For the complete list of medal winners at the largest indoor farm show in the U.S. just click the link.  www.pennsylvaniawine.com/node/2372

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Fero Vineyards & Winery: Saperavi 2013

Fero Vineyards &Winery Saperavi 2013

Fero Vineyards &Winery Saperavi 2013

     I had the pleasure of drinking my first Pennsylvania grown and made Saperavi recently.  It strengthened my belief that the Saperavi grape has the potential to be developed into the signature red grape grown in the cool climate of the Eastern United States.  Fero Vineyards & Winery 2013 Saperavi starts by revealing its beautiful dark purple color, a trademark of this wine.  After admiring the deep color, aromas of red fruit with a hint of oak fills your nose.  Saperavi grapes are known for producing a full-bodied wine with good structure, Fero Saperavi 2013 fulfills those expectations on both counts with style and accuracy.  This East Coast Red has good acidity which complements a subtle note of oak that is carried well into a long finish.  I recommend buying three bottles of this vintage, drink one now and cellar the other two.  Open those bottles after aging them two years and five years, compare your tasting notes,  I am sure you will be impressed by how well this wine will develop over time. 

     Thanks to Chuck Zaleski the owner and winemaker of Fero Winery for pursuing a progressive strategy that is not only designed to grow his business but the quality of wine produced in Pennsylvania.  Fero Vineyards & Winery 965 Jpm Rd Lewisburg, Pa. www.ferovineyards.com   570-568-0846   Fero Saperavi 2013 will be judged at the Pa Farm Show this weekend  1/9/15

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Happy New Year!

cork

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