Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving in The Finger Lakes

First and foremost, an apology for not having posted recently. The good news is I have collected many anecdotes from Virginia wineries regarding how they celebrated Virginia Wine Month and am compiling those stories and will write a much-belated summary of how wineries fared during October soon.

Second, I have read, and will write a post reviewing The Wine Trials in the near future as well. It is a fascinating book with some very good suggestions for some stellar wines for under $15. Pick up a copy, or wait for the Beltway Bacchus Book Review that will be coming soon...

Finally, with Thanksgiving having just passed, and most of us now in serious leftover mode, I hope everyone had a pleasant holiday and were able to pair their traditional Thanksgiving meal with good wine. We spent the holiday with Caitlin’s family in the Finger Lakes. There was lots of family, more food, and plenty of wine that Caitlin picked up after perusing the list of recommended wines from the Wine Trials.

The standout wine, in my opinion, was Gnarly Head’s Old Vine Zin 2007. The 2007 zin is medium-bodied with a spiciness that worked well to accentuate the tastes of the traditional Thanksgiving foods. I especially enjoyed this wine with the mashed sweet potatoes, where the wine’s kick was nicely balanced by the sweetness and butteriness of the dish, and with the stuffing and gravy - because who doesn’t like stuffing and gravy?

Although zinfandel is not necessarily the first varietal people think of when they think of wines for Thanksgiving - I would wager that most people assume that the white meat of the turkey would good well with a white wine - introducing reds that are a bit bolder make for an even more interesting meal. The zinfandel certainly worked well, if not better, then the Mirassou Pinot Noir that was also served and is another of the recommendations from the Wine Trials. I found that the silkiness and fruitiness of the Mirassou did not go as well with the heavy food, though it is still a fine-drinking red in its own right.

Friday, October 23, 2009

More Updates from Virginia Wineries for Virginia Wine Month

I continue to hear from Virginia wineries about what they are doing to celebrate Virginia Wine Month. Below are updates from some more wineries:

White Hall Vineyards held its Art in the Vineyard event October 17 – 18. Aside from hosting local artists and artisans, White Hall is offering a discount on cases of its chardonnay throughout the month. Megan Hyler, White Hall’s Sales Manager, informed me that business in October has been great so far, and she attributes some of the traffic to Virginia Wine Month raising awareness of local wineries.

Rappahannock Cellars continues to host large groups, as it did for TechAdventureDC in August. Recently, students from the Richmond Culinary Institute got a behind the scenes tour and wine tasting and then headed to the Inn at Little Washington for lunch…Yeah, well, my college’s cafeteria had a waffle bar, so those RCI kids can suck it.

Aside from making me jealous, Rappahannock is featuring live music every weekend throughout October. This weekend will features Marie Miller on Saturday from 2 – 5pm and Robbie Limon on Sunday from 1.30 – 4pm. Rappahannock Cellars is also promoting their Wine Club with specials throughout the month and have also opened a remote tasting room in Sperryville which opened earlier in the month. People I spoke told me that business has been very good throughout the month.

Loudoun Valley Vineyards is hosting hot air balloon rides this weekend, weather permitting.

Of all the wineries that I have spoken to so far, the only one that did not seem to have any special events planned, and are simply continuing on with business as usual was Jefferson Vineyards.

Jefferson Vineyards aside, most wineries that I have spoken to are excited about Virginia Wine Month, promotions and events that they have been able to tie into the occasion, and traffic that their wineries have received. Some restaurants are apparently offering discounts on Virginia wine throughout the month, but I have only heard that from second hand accounts.

The area where the promotional month is lacking is in supermarkets. It would be great to see in-store displays promoting Virginia wine throughout the month. It will need to wait until next year, as there are only two more weekends left in October. Two weeks is more than enough time to head to some Virginia wineries and enjoy Virginia Wine Month with some of the people who make it all possible.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Halfway Through Virginia Wine Month

Virginia Wine Month kicked off in grand style at the beginning of the month when the Virginia Tourism Corporation sponsored Vintage Tweets in Arlington. Six of the state's wineries showed off their goods at the event, and opened Caitlin and my eyes to some thick, meaty reds, along with the Viogniers that we have come to know and love from the state. Some of the wineries, like Chateau Morrisette, White Hall Vineyards and Veritas Vineyards came from further afield than the Northern Virginia area I am familiar with. It was great meeting the people from the wineries I have not been able to get to in person, and of course, sample their wines while enjoying the great food spread that was available to those of us in attendance.

Other wineries, such as Chrysalis and Williamsburg Winery I have been to, or at least have tried their wine in the past. The latter, specifically, was marketing itself at the event at Virginia’s largest winery, and I have certainly had my fair share of it. Still for both the wineries that I have tried before, as well as the ones that were brand new to me, the event was a great reminder of how far the Virginia wine industry has come in even just the last couple of years, and how much more it will continue to grow as more and more people realize that quality American wines aren’t the exclusive right of the West Coast. Even though the Food and Wine Wine Guide and other such guides to wine do not yet include any Virginia (or New York, for that matter) wines, as a wine producing state, both the volume and quality of the wine Virginia is producing continues to impress.

Vintage Tweets launched Virginia Wine Month - October - and since we are now halfway through the month, I wanted to check in with the Virginia Tourism Corporation, the Virginia Wine Association, and most importantly, some of my favorite Virginia wineries to see how they are doing during this month that is devoted to them.

Tarara is giving its visitors a “sneak peek” at some of its most anticipated wines, which aren’t going to be released until the spring. Included in their sneak peek offerings are a 08 Viognier and 07 Meritage. Tarara also has live music every Sunday throughout the month.

Dry Mill Winery is allowing guest to join in with their harvest during the month, as well as hosting live entertainment, classic cars and even several “yoga and wine tasting” events. According to Nancy Vanhuss, one of the owners, even during October’s bad weather, “we have been stampeded” during the weekend.

I am still waiting to hear back from other wineries in the area, and when I do, I will post their special events and updates here as well. Until then, get out there and enjoy the fall weather and activities with a glass or two of Virginia wine.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

October is Virginia Wine Month!

It has been a while since I posted, which is a shame because there are so many wine-focused events going on in and around the DC area this month. Most notably, October is Virginia Wine Month. Check out the link and see the list of all the great events and festivals going on in Virgina throughout October.

Caitlin and I attended Vintage Tweets last week, which kicked off Virginia Wine Month in grand style at the Hotel Palomar in Rosslyn. A longer post, with pictures, will be up in the coming days, but here is the short version: Hat's off to the Virginia Tourism Corporation for hosting such an exciting event. It was great meeting many of the people who work at Virginia wineries I have not yet been able to visit, try their wines, and enjoy a great spread of everything from pumpkin ravioli to chocolate cake.

While I did not participate actively enough to win any of the prizes for getting trivia questions right, I liked seeing the sponsors utilize Twitter so effectively - there were questions where answers needed to be tweeted.

Fall is a beautiful time to get out to Virginia's wineries, try their wines, and then figure out which winery you want to explore next. Thanks again to the Virginia Tourism Corporation for organizing such a great event. I will provide a write-up that does it justice in the coming days.

Until then, pour yourself a glass of wine and plan a trip out to Virginia's wineries...Your team has a bye week for a reason.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Although it is several weeks gone now, I am finally getting around to writing about Rappahannock Cellars, who was the gracious host for the inaugural TechAdventureDC event. Followers of Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and other social media platforms have probably already seen and read all that they need to about the event from the social media and techie perspective. I will add my three sentence write-up of the event from that point of view, then move onto the wine: It was a great way to continue online conversations offline and actually meet people face-to-face. I enjoyed receiving all of the positive feedback about the blog, and was surprised by how many people actually read it! It was a great way to get out of the city for a day, spending time in a beautiful setting, eating great food, listening to music in a barn and drinking some very good Virginia wines.

The winery was started by California transplants who moved to Virginia over a dozen years ago to start a family winery in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. As a member winery of the Blue Ridge Wine Way, and a winery that produces over 8,000 cases of wine a year, Rappahannock Cellars is now one of the bigger wineries in Virginia. Despite the many challenges that growing wine in Virginia has compared to California, the owners, winemakers, vine-growers, along with everyone else involved in the production of their wines seems to welcome the challenge. The ultimate payoff, of course, is what ultimatly flows out of the bottle.

During the tour of the vineyard, we were told that chardonnay does not grow well in Virginia, though they devote some acreage to it. From what I tried, I would agree that it is not the best white that they make, but their 2008 Noblesse Viognier was quite good, with a nice, dry blend of citrus and mineral flavors throughout the body and a rich, golden color.

Like chardonnay, Virginia is not known for its cabernet sauvignon. Rappahannock makes a drinkable one, however. It is not, by any means the thick, full-bodied wine that California has become famous for producing, but it serves as a good table wine that is more that able to accompany red meats, cheese and even pasta dishes. A better red that they produce is their 2007 Cabernet Franc. Perhaps cabernet franc just grows better in Virginia, or maybe I just know what to expect with Virginia cabernet franc, but I enjoyed it more likely because the cab franc had the subtle taste of peanut butter and jelly in the finish.

I found their dessert wines way too sweet and thick, with jumbled, muddled tastes that didn’t really offer anything too distinctive. The best way I could describe their 2007 Red Dessert Wine is like diluting a jar of jam with water and letting it ferment. Not my favorite, but many people on the trip enjoyed it - further reinforcing the fact that every palate is different, everybody likes and looks for different things in wine, and all tasting recommendations should be viewed as guideposts more than anything else.

Overall, a big thank you goes out to the organizers of TechAdventureDC and to Rappahannock Cellars. I would strongly encourage you to take a trip out to the winery, spend a day tasting what they have to offer and exploring their grounds. You will leave happy, with some very good bottles of Virgina wine.

Friday, September 11, 2009

One Step Closer to a Winery in Fairfax

Last week I wrote a post regarding Paradise Springs Winery, which is aiming to become the first winery in Fairfax County. There was a significant amount of media attention paid to the story because of the controversy surrounding the planned opening of a winery. As is usually the case, local officials and neighbors were divided on whether or not the winery should be allowed to open.

The good news is that Paradise Springs has cleared one major hurdle and is closer to being able to open its doors to the public. On Thursday of last week, the same day I wrote about it, for what it’s worth, the Virginia Alcohol Board of Control (ABC) issued Paradise Springs a license over the objections of local officials and concerned neighbors. Fredrick Kunkle of the Washington Post wrote an article detailing the decision on Friday.

There is 30-day window to appeal the decision.

I had the opportunity to speak with Kirk Wiles, the son in the mother and son duo that started Paradise Springs, yesterday. Kirk sounded relived that the ABC ruled in his favor and that they are now closer to being able to open. Kirk also mentioned that other Virginia wineries, and local wine trade associations, have been very supportive of the Wiles throughout this entire process.

With all the issues at play, from state and local elected officials supporting or opposing the winery, to the precedent it is setting for other wineries to open in Fairfax, and the growing influence of Virginia’s wine industry, I hope that the decision does not face an appeal and the Wiles will be able to open their winery sooner rather than later. If Paradise Springs was able to open as scheduled in May, the Wiles could have been open for the summer months – peak season for wine tasting. Instead, they faced numerous challenges and needed to spend tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Hopefully, through the trials and travails that Paradise Springs has faced, others have learned how to navigate the Fairfax’s local government and won’t be dissuaded from opening wineries in the county. It could be a huge boon to the local economy, preserve acres of rural land, and further the reputation of Virginia as a wine-producing state.

If you live in Fairfax, please contact your local officials and let them know you support Paradise Springs. Then, once they open, visit the winery, taste their wines and let the Wiles know that you support their efforts to produce wine in Fairfax.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Winery in Fairfax County?

In recent days, the Washington Post, Fox5 and WAMU have all run stories about the controversy surrounding Paradise Springs Winery in Clifton, VA. Supporters of the winery claim that it could be a boon for area tourism, could help preserve one of the last rural parts of Fairfax County (I didn't know there were any rural parts of Fairfax left) and further develop Virginia’s wine industry.

Opponents, on the other hand, are worried that a winery will lead to increased traffic and an increase in drunk driving. And of course, local politicians are getting involved. Fairfax County Zoning officials claim that the winery is actually a manufacturing plant, not a farm, and therefore should not be given a permit.

With the issue getting media attention, with residents, elected officials and others all having their say, it is worth it to step back, see where the Virginia wine industry has come and assess the merits that another winery will have for the region. Personally, I am of the opinion that Paradise Springs should be allowed to open as a winery. There is no big surprise there. However, I am curious how a winery in Fairfax will affect Virginia's wine industry in terms of labeling. Will Loudoun COunty want to get an appellation classification for itself? Will Fairfax be able to produce quality wines? Will there be other brave souls to follow Paradise Springs' lead? Can the county even support more wineries?

All those questions can only be answered if Paradise Springs is allowed to open. It seems like it is a good idea and will preserve what little open land is left in the county. I would much rather let the proprietors do what they want with their land, contribute to their local economy and help the state’s burgeoning wine industry than have the land divided up and sold to developers who will likely build more McMansions, strip malls and congested roadways.

If you live in Fairfax and have an opinion, one way or another, on this issue, please contact your elected officials and let them know your opinion.


In other Beltway Bacchus news, TechAdventureDC was last Saturday and it was a great time! Thank you to everybody who participated and especially to Rappahannock Cellars and their friendly and knowledgeable staff for making the event such a success.

More detailed posts on both the event and Rappahannock Cellars will be going up in the weeks to come.

Friday, August 28, 2009

TechAdventureDC is Only a Day Away

What can be better than writing a blog about wine and the DC area's wine culture? If you answered "going to one of Virginia’s great wineries to mingle, taste what the winery has to offer and get to know other DC-area social media, bloggers and general tech-savvy wine lovers?" than you are absolutely right.

Tomorrow is the inaugural event that is hosted by TechAdventureDC. The organization aims to "put the social back into social media," and was organized by some of DC's preeminent social media experts. Rappahannock Cellars is hosting the event, which should provide a great venue for what is likely to be a fantastic day and a great event, with or without the expected rain. Rappahannock has a particularly good cabernet franc that I would encourage attendees to try.

Caitlin and I are both going, and, last time I checked, tickets were sold out. Not to worry, though. There will likely be many, many tweets and blog posts discussing the event from every angle and every detail in the days following TechAdventureDC.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Happy 20th, Tarara!

Tarara Winery in Leesburg is celebrating its 20th year in operation. To think of how far the Virginia wine industry has come since Tarara first opened its doors two decades ago is amazing. Of course, once upon a time - give or take the generations surrounding the Founding Fathers - Virginia was known for tobacco. Sure, some of its former residents - Thomas Jefferson, for example - dabbled in wine making, but having an established and respected winemaking industry is a fairly new development for the Commonwealth.

It must have been with some skepticism and perhaps a little anxiety that Whitie and Margaret Hubert opened their doors back in 1989 with the goal of producing wines that could be enjoyed by both the novice and the snotty aficionado alike. I doubt that the Huberts could have realized, back before the Internet, cell phones and laptops that they were going to be seen one day as a new breed of pioneers forging the reputation of Northern Virginia’s wine culture and industry. Whitie passed away last year, but Virginia’s wine landscape is spotted with “Glen Graduates,” as his disciples in Virginia winemaking are known.

Long story short, 20 years on Tarara casts a large shadow over DC’s wine country and is one of the true destination wineries in the region. It is not just its sheer size, but its prominence and reputation that help to distinguish Tarara. Their secret to success, as far as I can tell, is based on both the atmosphere and the wine that it produces. The winery has beautiful views of both mountains and water, a friendly and cozy, albeit often very busy, tasting room, and a good program of events that invites the community in to see what the winery has to offer. On top of that, Tarara makes some very, very good wines.

With all the high praise and bromides out of the way, Tarara does have some room for improvement when it comes to customer service. When I called up Tarara recently to get a bit more information on their “Toast to the Tunes” concert series, I called five times, and never once got hold of a live person on the other end, as there is no way to reach a live human on the weekend, even though there was an event that evening. Even after the frustrating phone ordeal, Caitlin and I headed out to Tarara, picnic in tow, to spend an evening at one of Virginia’s great wineries.

Back to the bromides and high praise for the place. Tarara is a beautiful, destination winery for good reason. The Toast to the Tunes series takes place on a bandstand that overlooks a pond, and while under-staffed, they set up a tasting bar in the center of the activity. There was plenty of space to set up on the lawn, if not at the tasting bar. Even though the event was well attended, it was not so crowded as to make it uncomfortable.

To be honest, though, I seriously doubt if anyone headed out to Tarara for the music alone. People were here for the wine first and foremost, and Tarara makes some great ones. Of their whites, my favorite is their 2007 Viognier. It was very crisp with a touch of acidity on the palette that gives the wine an almost, but not quite, sparkling quality. The nose has some fruit to it, but also has a bit of a chalky hue. In case you’re wondering, that is actually a good thing for this wine. Don’t ask how I got “chalky.” I did, and it’s not a bad thing. For $30 a bottle, their viognier is a bit pricey for a Virginia wine, but if you want to splurge on a great Virginia white, Tarara’s viognier is worth it.

In terms of reds, I tried a very nice Cabernet Franc and a less-impressive Pinot Noir. Stick with the cabernet franc. It was a bit darker than most cab francs, and had a nice, full body to it. The nose was lighter than the color was, though there was a nice hint of plumbs and a little whiff of chocolate to both the taste and the smell.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dry Mill’s Dry Run

Some of you have emailed me with queries similar to this: “you claim to be “Beltway” Bacchus, yet most of your posts are of Finger Lakes or California wines. What gives?” The answer is simply that Caitlin and I spend a lot of time at her parent’s house on Owasco Lake during the summer, which is conveniently located near the Finger Lakes wineries. We do travel out to Loudoun when we can, and the more we get out there, the more I will post about local, DC area wineries. Starting with this post!

We recently were able to get out to Dry Mill Vineyard and Winery in Leesburg, VA. It is one of Loudoun’s newest wineries, having just opened in March of this year, and I was pleasantly surprised by the wines that I tried. Nestled into what was once a horse barn, Leesburg sprawl gives way to the rolling Virginia countryside and Dry Mill is on the rustic side of that divide, yet is still a quick drive from Downtown DC and its environs. Also, Dry Mill has a winery dog, Chard, a friendly black lab, which gets it a few extra points in my opinion. But enough about ambiance and dogs. Onto the wine!

Of the wines that I tried at Dry Mill, there are two that stand out - one white and one red. The 2008 Steel Chardonnay and the 2007 Syrah both were better than I was expecting. As Dry Mill is a newer winery, I was somewhat skeptical of the wines that they had to offer, thinking that they may have purchased their grapes, or were still working to get some of the kinks out of their winemaking process. Surprisingly, neither of these were the case. This is likely due at least in part to the fact that the owners, Dean & Nancy Vanhuss, have been growing grapes in Loudoun County since the 1990s. The wines I tried, and would happily try again, were good, balanced wines that are a great addition to Loudoun’s current roster of wineries.

The 2008 Steel Chardonnay was semi-sweet with a crisp finish with a lot of fruity undertones. It was almost as if I was drinking a fruit salad - with apples, pears and several different kinds of citrus topped with a light vinaigrette, but in a good way.

The 2007 Syrah was a little on the thin side, but had much more of a body than many Virginia reds that I have tried. It also had the spicy kick that Syrahs are known for, but without it being overpowering. The thinness of the body could even be one of the advantages to this wine. If it were any fuller, it would most likely overwhelm and food that it was paired with. As it stands, the 2007 Syrah would go well with just about anything from the red meat camp that is cooked on a Bar-B-Q. Bucket Grill or otherwise.

While both of the wines stand up on there own merits, the benefits of the atmosphere cannot be overlooked. When Caitlin and I visited, there were only a few other customers. We did not need to elbow and claw our way up to the tasting bar and stake a claim. The owners themselves were working the tasting bar, and both Dean and Nancy, along with their dog, were very friendly and welcoming. It helps that the winery is in what was once a horse barn, but has been renovated without losing any of its rustic charm.

Dry Mill is close to DC, has good wine, a great atmosphere and serves light food. It is well worth the trip on a Saturday or Sunday.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Swedish Hill Winery: Come for the Riesling, Stay for the Jackass

There is a huge difference between taking what you do seriously, and taking yourself so seriously that you come off as pompous and arrogant. The former can be a blessing while the latter can be the kiss of death. Luckily, Swedish Hill Winery in Romulus, NY takes the process of making wine seriously, though it is still able to maintain a fun-loving sense of humor that comes out in the tasting room. Need evidence that they are fun? How many wineries do you know that have a donkey named Doobie as their mascot? As of this writing, I can think of only one, Swedish Hill. Still, with Doobie and the great and knowledgeable people who work in the tasting rooms - they have three separate ones - you can learn a lot about the wines that they make and not feel like you are in a lecture hall. 

Swedish Hill is part of the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail which is one of the two primary one trails in the Finger Lakes - the other one being around Seneca Lake. Cayuga Lake has some great wineries, though, like most wines from the region, you should be prepared to taste a lot of sweet and semi-sweet wines. They are the regions bread and butter and riesling is defiantly the king grape of the Finger Lakes. 

The first wine that we tried at Swedish Hill was the 2007 Dry Riesling, which was a light, citrusy riesling that had a nice body and decent finish. Being a riesling, even though this was their “dry” variety, there was still a tinge of sweet syrupiness to it, which, given the characteristics of the riesling grape should be expected.

The next wine on their tasting list was their 2006 Reserve Chardonnay. Unlike many chardonnays I have had from the Finger Lakes, this one was not too oaky. It actually tasted like wine instead of scotch. It did have some light oak undertones, as well as the buttery finish that one expects with a chardonnay. This particular wine also had some hints of pear and apple in it. As this part of New York is also known for its apples, this was not surprising. Now if only the Finger Lakes cold make their apples taste like wine, that would be awesome.

The 2006 Reserve Chardonnay was followed with Swedish Hills’ Blue Waters Riesling. This was perhaps the most reflective of Finger Lakes wines that we tried at Swedish Hill. Not only does the label hint at the region’s lake culture with its halcyon image of kids jumping off of a wooden pier, but it is a riesling that has a sweet, but not too sweet, taste throughout with a fruity, lingering aftertaste of peaches. The Blue Waters Riesling is a good candidate to be an ambassador wine for the region, even though the Blue Waters line is Swedish Hills’ budget line. Riesling is king here, and this is a good riesling.

As for the reds that we tasted, the 2006 Cabernet Franc-Lemberger smelled like a cabernet sauvignon, and had a bit of a peppery aftertaste, but was a light and thin wine that could have been greatly improved if it had any more of a body and a deeper complexion. The Meritage was dry, without almost any nose and was too thin for my taste. Considering that Meritage seems to be pushed hard in every wine-producing region I have visited, even though it is a totally made-up term without any standards or regulation, except that a winery has to pay for the use of the name, a future post will likely be dedicated to Meritage as a whole. 

Finally, I talk about my fiancee, Caitlin, quite frequently in this blog. She is the very beautiful lady in red in one of the pictures on this post. Everyone say hi to her and be as lucky as I am to know her!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Summers at the Lake and in Chicago

Like superheroes, every good blogger needs to have an origins story - some explanation as to why they do what they do. In the case of superheroes, there needs to be some explanation as to why some individuals have all the powers of a spider, dress up like a bat to solve crime or fight for Truth, Justice and the
 American Way, even though they are from Krypton. For bloggers, we need to have a ready explanation as to why we choose to devote so much of our free time to maintain and update our little-read blogs, to obsess over a certain subject and find interesting ways to present our take on topics we deem interesting to whatever audience may or may not be reading it. With that in mind, here is a brief excerpt from the origins myth of BeltwayBacchus:

Last May I had a business trip to San Francisco. Caitlin flew out to join me and we spent a long weekend in Napa. While we both enjoyed wine before the trip, exploring some of the country’s, if not the world’s, greatest wineries gave us both a newfound appreciation for the nectar of the vines. We began to understand the difference between good wine and bad wine, how the right wine can make even the best food taste that much better, and both became hooked on learning, drinking and enjoying as many different types of wine as possible. One of the wineries we went to, Summers Estate Winery, was like something out of a storybook...Provided that the storybook was written for wine-loving twenty-somethings and didn’t have a moral or life message. Still, between the classical music that the proprietors played, the bocce courts, the beautiful scenery, and the word-class wines that we were able to drink, we started down the road less-traveled - by car, anyway. That experience led to the birth of Beltway Bacchus.

So Summers Estate, thank you for contributing to my evolving obsession with wine and wanting to share what I know with the world. Or at least the 75 or so who have chosen to read this blog up to this point. While we were at Summers, one of the wines that we tried was their 2006 Charbono. Charbono is

a rare varietal - less than 100 acres are dedicated to its growth and cultivation - yet it is certainly worth trying. The 2006 Summers has a full body, and has hints of plumbs, currants and pepper in both its smell and its taste. It is well proportioned and, at least in my experience, had the chameleon-like ability to accompany whatever we were eating along with it.

Caitlin and I have recently had the two bottles that we have been holding on to, one with her parents over the Fourth of

 July holiday and one with my parents last weekend when we were in Chicago. It is only natural to share good wine with close friends and family and both weekends gave us the perfect excuse to open up some bottles of wine that we have been kept for more than a year, which must be our new record.

At Caitlin’s parents’ house, we drank it on the deck, overlooking Owasco Lake and drank it with crackers, cherries and cheese curds to nibble on. At my parents’ house, we drank it before going out to dinner. My parents’ kitchen is under construction, so we were in the living room trying to listen to Pandora over the hum of their old refrigerator.

In both instances, the wait was worth it, and those we shared it worth enjoyed it. Both Caitlin’s mom and my dad commented that it was, “very, very good.” I couldn’t agree more.