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.     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! published this article about Harvest at Standing Stone. article 

Saperavi juice runs from press @ Standing Stone Winery

Saperavi juice runs from press @ Standing Stone Winery got into the act with this mention of Standing Stone and its unique pairing of Standing Stone wines and local artesian cheeses. 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 , , , , | Leave a comment

Ripepi Diamond is Forever


Diamond Grapes Photo Courtesy: Cornell University

Diamond Grapes Photo Courtesy: Cornell University

  The white grape Diamond is a cross between the Concord and Iona (Vitis Vinifera –labrusca hybrid) grape developed in Western New York during the mid 1880’s. This grape had a major influence on winemaking in the Eastern U.S. during most of the 20th century. The high sugar content of this grape also makes it a desirable table grape as well as an excellent source of grape juice. Despite being one of the few white American grapes varieties used to produce dry wine the recent plantings of Diamond have declined with the trend toward European varietals. Although Diamond can be found in many AVA’s in the U.S. and around the world it is most prominent in New York and Pennsylvania.

Diamond 1  Rich Ripepi at Ripepi Winery in Monongahela, Pa has taken this traditional American grape and updated it to suit the taste of today’s wine drinkers. Ripepi Diamond is a dry wine but not so dry that the fruity taste of the Diamond grape is lost in translation. It’s body comes across as being lighter and crisper because of it’s lower residual sugar, making it a wine that is easy to drink. Stylish and balanced are the two words I would use to describe Ripepi Diamond. I have tasted plenty of Diamond, most are too sweet, one even had a large red-hot pepper in the bottle, but I can honestly say that Ripepi Dry Diamond was the best Diamond that I have tasted. I think that if the Diamond grape is going to experience a revival it will have to be made in a non-traditional style. Rich Ripepi has told me many times that when it comes to winemaking “It’s all about the style.”

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

“New World Saperavi” Report

     I have developed a fascination for the Saperavi grape. This may seem odd even if you have heard of Saperavi wine because it is nothing new to the wine world. The Saperavi that fascinates me isn’t from the Kakheti region of Georgia , Russia but “New World Saperavi” that is being produced here in the Northeastern U. S., namely the Finger Lakes Wine Region of New York and in Central Pennsylvania. Saperavi is a very deeply colored red wine made from the ancient Saperavi grape that originated in one of the oldest wine growing regions of the world. Saperavi grapes are a teinturier grape, meaning its skin and flesh both have pigment which leads to a very delicious dark wine. What follows is the current state of Saperavi in America as told to me by the producers themselves.

Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellar

When the Finger Lakes Wine Region is mentioned undoubtably the first name that comes Dr Frank Logoto mind is the iconic Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery in Hammondsport. The legendary Dr. Frank proved everyone wrong not only by growing vinifera grapes in the FLX but producing world-class award-winning wine from them. I would like to thank Frederick Frank for the time and attention he showed me while assisting me with this post. Dr. Konstantin Frank first planted Saperavi vines in his vineyard in 1958. Dr. Frank would use that fruit to produce his first vintage in 1962. Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery now has 1.5 acres planted in Saperavi vines and expects to produce 250 cases of Saperavi wine. That 1.5 acres of Saperavi vines is divided between their Keuka Lake vineyards in Hammondsport and their Seneca Lake vineyards (on the eastern side) in Hector. Dr. Frank’s Saperavi is only available at their winery tasting room in Hammondsport but they are planning to expand their plantings and hope to offer their Saperavi wine to their wholesalers in the future. Due to high demand and limited production they haven’t entered Dr. Frank Saperavi into wine competitions. 

Standing Stone Vineyards

For years Marti Macinski owner/winemaker of Standing Stone Vineyards has extolled the virtues of Saperavi while methodically expanding her Saperavi vineyard and constantly improving her wine. Having appeared in many local, regional and national publications Standing Stone wine sales have ridden a steadily ascending arc but no member of Marti’s Standing Stone Saperavisolid menu wine appears to have create a devoted following like her Saperavi has.

Standing Stone planted their first 80 vines in 1994 and they are the source of the fruit for their newly released 2013 Reserve Saperavi. Since 2006 a deliberate and steady expansion of the Saperavi program has led to a vineyard that is just over 5 acres. 2005 was a trial run that yielded 23.5 cases. 2010 was Standing Stone’s first commercial release with 200 cases produced that year. This year the 2015 vintage is anticipated to be about 500 cases but Marti adds the caveat ” if we manage to hold off the deer.” Those deer will have more fruit to choose from because Standing Stone continues to plant more Saperavi vines to increase supply and build inventory for market after the winery has enough grapes for their own wine production. That future production may include experimenting with longer aging, some sweeter versions of Saperavi or possibly a Rosé or Port. Standing Stone Saperavi is very round with delicious ripe flavors of tart cherry fruit when young that evolves into plum and pomegranate that are integrated into complex layers of aroma and flavors as it ages. Marti doesn’t enter her Saperavi into many competitions so when she does it comes as no surprise that Standing Stone Saperavi 2012 was awarded the Wine & Food Classic Gold Medal last year and the 2013 Saperavi  won “Best Other Red Vinifera” at this year’s Classic. A special thanks to Marti Macinski for all the time and effort that you have taken to help me with this post and all the other projects you have assisted me on. 

Fero Vineyards & Winery

Fero LogoFero Vineyards & Winery is the only winery in Pennsylvania that I am aware of that has Saperavi planted in it’s vineyard. Chuck Zaleski owner/winemaker of Fero planted his first 500 Saperavi vines on 1/2 acre of his Lewisburg, Pennsylvania vineyard in 2010. He conducted trials as his vines matured until he released his first vintage from the 2013 harvest which consisted of 50 cases. The first Saperavi I ever tasted was Chuck’s 2013 Saperavi  from that first 50 cases he produced. After tasting that wine I was sold on the potential of this Georgian red grape here in the East. The 2014 harvest produced 125 cases and the 2015 harvest , expected to be in October, is estimated to yield similar volume. With the addition of 1/2 acre of Saperavi plantings the projected production will be 4-5 tons per acre. The final production number for Saperavi produced should be approximately 300 cases.

Chuck’s philosophy is to let the grape determine the style, so the style of his Saperavi really does remain “Fluid”. He let the 2013 vintage hang and made a ripe jammy style the both of us loved. He picked earlier in 2014 for added acidity and weather concerns plus because of some reading he had done. He said the 2014 may take a little longer to soften but may have more longevity. Chuck doesn’t use much oak at all because he wants to showcase the grape’s unique rich flavor. He tries to mimic traditional methods as much as possible by fermenting in tall containers at constant temperature, very similar to a Qveri and age it with minimal disturbing on the lees. Fero Saperavi 2013 won a Gold Medal at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition this year. Enough said!

Chuck’s most intriquing observation about this varity is it’s ability to rival the full-bodied red wines of the warm climate regions. He doesn’t know where the ideal location to produce Saperavi in the U.S. is but is pretty sure it isn’t too far from Central Pa. Chuck’s only problem with Saperavi is that it is selling out too fast before he can satisfy demand. Looks like a great problem to have. Thanks to Chuck Zaleski for introducing me to Saperavi and all the help he has given me.

McGregor Vineyard

John McGregor and his McGregor Black Russian Red have always been an enigma in the FLX. In the Spring of 1980 he planted Saperavi, Sereksiya Charni, Rkatsiteli and Sereksiya Rosé in a limited area of his vineyard. From that first planting his Saperavi and Sereksiya Charni has expanded to 4 acres. In 1985 John made a small experimental batch from these grapes and bottled it in half bottles. McGregor Saperavi and Sereksiya are bottled together and produces over 300 cases per year. That number is certain to rise as more Saperavi vines are planted over the next 3-5 years.

If you are wondering what McGregor Black Russian Red Saperavi & Sereksiya blend taste like here is how John McGregor described it to me ” It’s a very rich, dark red wine that typically spends over two years in oak barrels. It has great structure and depth with flavors typically reminiscent of black currents, blackberries and elderberries entwined with a sweet oak character. It has plenty of tannic structure and generally high acidity, lending it well to long-term cellar aging.” 1985 Saperavi (label)

McGregor Saperavi is entered into few , if any, annual competitions but earlier vintages have been awarded Double Gold and Gold Medals. The 2010 vintage received an 87 point rating in the May 2014 issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine. After decades of hard work Black Russian Red has grown into what John calls “The Cult red wine of the Finger Lakes.” No matter what you call it the one thing you can call it is “Successful.” The label to the right appeared on the McGregor 1985 Saperavi bottle. Thanks John McGregor for the invaluable help you gave me with this article. 

Will Saperavi develop into the signature Red wine of the East? The quality is certainly there and the vines are able to express the terroir of the vineyards in which they are planted to produce a wine on par or better than their Russian counterparts. The demand for Saperavi is increasing to the point where demand is out pacing supply while supply is also increasing but at a slower rate because of many factors. I believe Saperavi will find its place as the top varietal Red wine of the East but it will take time simply because there are so many obstacles to overcome and that things move slowly for new wine grape development in any region of the world. If you can’t find Saperavi from one of the producers mentioned in this post I recommend that you try a Saperavi from any of the regions where it’s made. Help me tell the secret of Saperavi  wine to wine lovers everywhere. Please repost this article. 



Posted in Wine news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Georgian Wine & Food Festival NYC

Saperavi Grapes

Saperavi Grapes

     Anyone wanting to “Discover Georgia in New York” from Sept. 25 – Sept. 27 at the Chelsea Market at 75 Ninth Ave. between 15th and 16th St NYC should check out this link to their Facebook page. Georgia W & F Festival By Georgia I mean the country of Georgia not the “Peach State” here in the U.S. of A. You can find great Saperavi there but you can also find excellent “New World Saperavi”  here in the Northeast. I’m writing a post about the Saperavi producers in the East as told to me by the winemakers themselves. I think you will be surprised by what you are missing if you haven’t discovered this big Red wine yet. Stay tuned! 

Posted in Wine news | 3 Comments

2015 Seven Springs Wine Festival


     The 2015 Seven Springs Wine Festival will be held August 28th through the 30th at the Seven Springs Mountain Resort Champion, Pa. With paid admission you can enjoy complimentary tastings from 31 Pennsylvania wineries with your free souvenir wine glass along with wine-themed seminars, live musical entertainment and other interesting attractions. A 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. Friday night session has been added this year in addition to the regular 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. hours on Saturday and Sunday. More information and the option to buy tickets can be found at the Seven Springs Resort website. 

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

Narcisi Wine Dinner

Narcici     The wine dinner this month at Narcisi Winery will feature Italy’s often overlooked region of Marche. Centrally located on Italy’s Adriatic coast, Marche draws from rich farmland , rugged mountains and bountiful sea to mold the regions distinctive culture and unique cuisine. Dinner at the winery starts at 6:30 pm Thursday, August 27th 2015 with tickets priced @ $55 + tax. Please call for reservations because seating is limited.

Narcisi Winery  4578 Gibsonia Rd  Gibsonia, Pa 724-444-4744                                                                                                                      

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