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.

Posted in Wine news | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Posted in Wine news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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. 

Posted in Wine news | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Merry Christmas

merry xmas        If this looks fuzzy to you then you must be having a Merry Christmas!  To everyone else I wish you a Very Merry Christmas filled with loving family, friends and cherished memories. 

Posted in Wine news | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Standing Stone Barrel Bonanza

Photo Courtesy: Standing Stone Winery

Photo Courtesy: Standing Stone Winery

     This is the perfect event for any wine enthusiast that simply can’t get enough. What is Barrel Bonanza? Barrel Bonanza is an opportunity for you to tour the Barrel Cellar and taste finished and just finished fermented wines every hour on the hour. Learn what type of yeast you like and compare the difference in flavor that new oak verses older oak has on  Chardonnay and Saperavi. Taste the 2014 Reserve Saperavi straight out of the barrel and if you like it you can buy futures at a 20% discount. You can also choose a mini Vertical Tasting of Saperavi, Cabernet Sauvignon or Petit Verdot. If you need to take a break there will be live music and delicious food for you to enjoy.

Barrel Tastings are noon, 1, 2, 3 and 4 – you pick one. Saperavi Vertical is @ 12:30, Cabernet Sauvignon @ 2:30 and the Petit Verdot is @ 3:30. The cost of this event is $20 per person and includes one Vertical Tasting. Extra Vertical Tastings are $10 each.              

Date: Dec. 12, 2015     Time: 12:00 to 5:00   Place: Standing Stone Vineyards 9934 NY-414 Hector, NY.  Call or e-mail for reservations.  607-582-6051   ssvny@standingstonewines.com

Entrance to Standing Stone Vineyard & Winery

Entrance to Standing Stone Vineyard & Winery

Posted in Wine news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holiday Open House

Ripepi logo      Ripepi Winery & Vineyard will be hosting their annual Holiday Open House Saturday, November 21, 2015 from 11:00-6:00 at the winery 93 Van Voorhis Lane, Monongahela Pa.  The event will feature free appetizers & wine tastings, gift basket give – aways, seasonal wines and many unique gifts.  ripepiwine.com     724-292-8351 

 

Posted in Wine news | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Standing Stone Rocks The Harvest

     Next up in my series documenting the 2015 harvest is Standing Stone Vineyards in Hector, N.Y.. Owner/winemaker Marti Macinski echoed the sentiment of vintners throughout the East that the 2015 harvest was extremely good. The Georgian (Russia) event that Marti makes reference to in her e-mail was an event held in Washington D.C. and N.Y.C. earlier this fall. The comparative tastings she mentioned would involve her excellent Saperavi and others from U.S. and forgien producers. Saperavi lovers may want to attend the Barrel Bonanza, Saperavi Vertical Tasting at Standing Stone on Sunday November 15th, 2015. This will be a rare opportunity for Saperavi aficionados to taste for themselves how Saperavi evolves as it matures. The following is an excerpt from an e-mail in which Marti briefly describes the 2015 harvest at Standing Stone.

“This year’s harvest was good, but as always, very intense. Saperavi was a big star in terms of vineyard performance. The fruit was beautiful and wines are shaping up nicely. Mike Barlett, who works for us in the tasting room and some helping in winemaking, went to the Georgian tasting in D.C.. I could not spare the time to get away, but I think we made some contacts and may have some comparative tastings in the future.

Overall quality was excellent some varieties were a bit light on quantity (Gewurz and Merlot, totally excepted after 2 rough winters, but we fared better than most). Cab Sauv and Petit Verdot brought up the tail end in great shape, with lovely flavors, robust color and almost picture perfect numbers in term of winemaking.”

Thanks to Marti Macinsk for keeping us up to date on the happenings at her winery. The photo below show just how deep the color of Saperavi juice really is, unbelievable!

Basket Pressed Saperavi @ Standing Stone Winery Hector, NY

Basket Pressed Saperavi @ Standing Stone Winery Hector, NY

Posted in Wine news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The REAL American Fero

     I just got the good news about this years harvest at Fero Vineyards from Chuck Zaleski, owner/winemaker, Fero Vineyards & Winery Lewisberg,Pa. Instead of me telling you what he said I decided you would get a more personal view into the harvest if you heard it from the man who knows Fero Vineyards better than anyone. The following is an excerpt from an e-mail Chuck sent me.

” We had a great harvest this year. Fruit quality was excellent and the yield remained at historical levels. I think we found the right site for our varieties.

     My Saperavi is leveling out at about 2 ton on 1/2 acre. This gives me about 125 cases of wine. We will be bottling last years vintage this December. I like the way it has matured. We picked earlier that year so the acidity is a little higher. This years harvest is hopefully hitting the peak ripeness for flavor, smoothness and durability. I have been doing some benchmark tastings of domestic and foreign Saperavi. There is a large variation in the level of oak exposure. I am leaning away from the oak. It also is historically not an oak aged variety. The grape has such a nice flavor on its own and this gets overwhelmed by the oak. It also is historically not an oak aged variety. 

I am happy to hear that the harvest at Fero Vineyards was excellent. I have always been told that great wine is made in the vineyard and after hearing that the harvest was record-setting in both quality and quantity at every vineyard I talked with I have the highest expectations for the 2015 vintage. Thanks to Chuck for taking the time and effort to keep me and my readers updated with events at his winery and in his vineyard.

Fero Wines with Medals won at 2015 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition.

Fero Wines with Medals won at 2015 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition.

      

Fero Wines display Medals won at 2015 Pa Farm Show.

Fero Wines display Medals won at 2015 Pa Farm Show.

Posted in Wine news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rumor Has It Wine News

     I would like to share some interesting news that I heard from wine makers around the region.

     I recently visited Tod Manspeaker at his Briar Valley Vineyards tasting room in Bedford, Pa. He told me he was removing all the Viognier from his vineyard because of Primary Bud Blight and replacing it with Malbec. He had to pick about 1 1/2 weeks early because of the forecast for a big storm hitting the East Coast but the storm missed his

Briar Valley tasting room in Bedford, Pa.

Briar Valley tasting room in Bedford, Pa.

vineyard and they had a great harvest even though it was earlier than planned.

After getting a tip from fellow blogger Armchairsommelier about a vineyard in Virginia growing Saperavi I contacted Rik Obiso at White Barrel Winery in Christiansburg, Va.. White Barrel was formerly known as Attimo Winery. Rik told me that they do grow about 250 Saperavi vines on a 1/3 acre section of their vineyard but haven’t produced from them yet. He is planning on 2017 being their first vintage but for now they are keeping the vines pruned to encourage them to grow strong roots. When I asked him about his Viognier he said that they are also removing all of it from their vineyard and that job will be completed this winter.

     The harvest at Standing Stone Vineyards Hector, NY went very well. The harvest around the FLX was good and maybe great, only time will tell but if I were to bet I would bet on great. Standing Stone was featured in several articles, here are just two! Syracuse.com published this article about Harvest at Standing Stone.  Syracuse.com article 

Saperavi juice runs from press @ Standing Stone Winery

Saperavi juice runs from press @ Standing Stone Winery

Foodnetwork.com got into the act with this mention of Standing Stone and its unique pairing of Standing Stone wines and local artesian cheeses. Foodnetwork.com article Don’t miss their Saperavi vertical tasting on November 15th, 2015, it will be something special. Check out the color of the Saperavi juice in this photo courtesy of Marti Macinski.

It’s easy to keep up with what’s going on at your favorite wineries by following them on twitter.

Posted in Wine news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Social Media Does a Winery Good

Source: Social Media Does a Winery Good   This article was posted by Kat Collins on her blog HumbleWineSnob. Kat is a manager at Blue Mountain Vineyards. This post is a good starting point for anyone considering a social media strategy plus it has ideas on continuing the development of an existing program.

Posted in Wine news | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment