Thursday, April 28, 2011

And the Winner is...

Last month Jessica Milby of One Classic Wino fame and I hosted a March Madness-style wine tasting. It was a great event and a Virginia wine won the whole kit and kaboodle.

Want to know which wine emerged from the field of 16 victorious? Head over to Snooth to find out!

As a reminder, here's how I filled out my bracket:

The final bracket, and a write-up of the tasting, is available at Snooth which is a great wine website - and would be even if I didn't write for them occasionally.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Virginia’s Wine Industry Brain Trust

Next month, Doug Fabbioli will again teach a series of courses on the wine business - running the gamut from general winemaking concepts and vineyard management to tips on starting a winery in Virginia. I was able to attend a few of the sessions and each of them was enlightening, educational and a lot of fun. Doug’s passion for wine certainly came through in the classes and his breadth of knowledge makes him a great instructor to boot.

I would highly recommend anyone that is interested in learning more about the wine business in general or the Virginia-specific wine industry to attend the classes when they start back up again on May 18. It is clear that Doug, as well as others in the industry in the state, love what they do and where they are doing it. The classes also make it very apparent that anyone who wants to get into the wine industry because of a Peter Mayle-ish romantic notion that all it takes is wandering among vineyards and tasting wine to own a winery is sorely mistaken. There is a lot of hard work, stress, and factors – both natural and manmade – that can destroy an entire year’s worth of work.

That reality check is important to get, especially for anyone who seriously considering jumping into Virginia’s wine industry. The classes will give you a much-needed primer on how to go about doing starting a winery if the warnings of hard work and toil don’t dissuade you.

Of the three classes I attended, my favorite had to be the last class, which included a panel discussion with Doug, Stephen Mackey from Notaviva Vineyards and Jordan Harris from Tarara Winery. The three of them are a combined wealth of information about the wine industry and it was fascinating to hear them talk about their approach to winemaking, how that approach had to be modified to Virginia’s climate and where they see the state’s wine industry going.

The general consensus is that Virginia is on path more akin to Oregon than Australia: becoming well-known for making high-quality wines rather than inexpensive and mass-produced wines. It certainly seems like the state is on that path, and these classes demonstrate that there is both the interest and the need to bring more people into a demanding, but highly rewarding industry.