Thursday, October 2, 2014
Friday, September 12, 2014
In California, the challenges are even more pronounced. The state is experiencing one of the worst droughts in recent memory. Despite the dwindling water supply, California's winemakers are similarly upbeat about what their most recent vintage will look like.
Below is an update from Sonoma County Winemakers and Sonoma County Vintners.
Sonoma County’s 2014 harvest season started earlier than normal with the first grapes being picked on July 29 for sparkling wines. Since then, winegrowers and winemakers throughout Sonoma County have been holding a steady pace on grape picking for still wine varieties, such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, and Pinot Noir. With the moderate, cool climate weather and typical Sonoma Coast fog patterns throughout most of August, fruit maturity on the vines has slowed down and allowed the grapes to ripen at an optimal pace. This slower pace has also allowed this harvest season to resemble the timing of previous vintages with many of the AVA’s reporting that 2014 is now only approximately 7-10 days early.
Thursday, July 31, 2014
|VSJ's Chorum Blend is a big, bold mutt of a wine, which is a compliment.|
Friday, May 30, 2014
|Once thought of as Virginia's signature grape, Cabernet Franc seems to be reverting back to its historical role as a blending grape|
Below are some of the responses I received. Thank you to everybody who added their comments and insight to this question.
"Cab Franc is certainly an important red in Virginia, and the most dominate red by acreage and tonnage in Virginia...I would argue Petit Verdot has more of a future in Virginia than Cab Franc for several reasons. At least to equal as the other primary flagship red varietal.
"I don't think its loosing its luster but rather settling into its place. I think it produces a certain style wine in Virginia, which is great. Sort of becoming our Pinot Noir in body, style, and finesse whereas a varietal like Tannat has the weight, structure, tannins, and age ability to produce a heavy Napa Cab like wine...rather than anointing a king, its a sign of an emerging wine region to appreciate different wines at different times."
Paradise Springs Winery
|Once the cool kid's table, these Cab Francs have growing competition from within the Virginia wine community|
"I do not think Cabernet Franc has lost its luster. It’s just sharing the stage. What you’re seeing are vintners and marketers doing their part to create better name recognition for other varieties. This in turn drives consumer demand for those varieties. This is similar to how Cabernet Franc, one of the region’s work-horse varieties, became such a household name.
"We are clearly moving to red blends as being the prime red wines produced in Virginia. I think the trend away from varietals to blended wines is nationwide. So in that sense, Virginia is part of the trend. 2011 is the vintage when the wisdom of blending really hit home for many Virginia winemakers. While I think Virginia makes better Merlot than Cab Franc on average. Cab Franc as a single varietal was more unique nationwide, and therefore more noticeable. There is a lot more Merlot to compete against for recognition than Cab Franc. Some are touting Tannat or Petit Verdot as potential varietals for Virginia to achieve fame with, but those are harder to sell in the marketplace too."
|Lonely Cabernet Franc grapes will wait outside of wine judge's windows in the rain with a boombox over their head if it comes to that. And if they had arms.|
Friday, May 16, 2014
If such wine-based drinks such as Boone's Farm and Mad Dog 20/20 are included, no doubt the U S of A would have taken the top spot a long time ago.
"The United States became the world's biggest market for wine last year, beating France into second place for the first time as consumption slides in the country long seen as its natural home and Americans develop a greater taste for it.
U.S. consumers bought 29.1 million hectoliters of wine in 2013, a rise of 0.5 percent on 2012, while French consumption fell nearly 7 percent to 28.1 million hectolitres, the International Vine and Wine organization OIV said on Tuesday.
Though the study does state that, "U.S. drinkers are, however, still way behind in terms of consumption per head," wine consumption is clearly on the rise. Several trends account for the rise of wine consumption in the US and the fall of wine consumption in France and throughout wine-producing countries in Europe.
France is still - far and away - the leading producer of wine in terms of tonnage and hectoliters produced, and still consumes much more on a per capita basis.
Given that France and wine are still so intimately, deeply and intrinsically linked, there is little worry that these results will have too much of an impact on overall wine markets. For the US, these findings only reinforce that our enjoyment of wine continues to grow - and that is likely due to the rise in wine regions around the country, a boom in winemaking in other New World regions, and a chipping away of the notion that wine is the preferred drink of foppish, effete snobs and old ladies.
As wine continues to be enjoyed and produced in greater quantity and quality throughout the US, hopefully, more and more people will develop a taste and appreciation for wines of all different styles and prices.
The only real barrier is the patchwork collection of Prohibition-era regulations throughout the different states that severely restrict access and choice of wine for their residents... Pennsylvania, I am again looking at you and your notion that a panel of state functionaries should be the be all and end all when it comes to what wines may be bought and sold in your state. This ridiculously insulting practice must end.
Back off the soapbox now, and another huzzah for wine consumption in the Untied States, and France, I still love you, too.
Friday, May 9, 2014
We have had to deal with heavy rains this year, as well. We recently installed drain tile into the new planting section to help drain the water away from the vines and towards the Potomac River. This was a very labor intensive project involving a rented machine and plenty of hand digging around wires, pipes and connections by our field team. (Thank goodness we have a great team, with experienced hands teaching the newer guys.) Next, the vines will hopefully be planted in 10 days.
One advantage of growing hops is that the timing of the hops harvest is earlier than grapes, so my crew is available to work both crops. Also, hops are easier and more cost effective to grow than grapes, because we can set up smaller acreage plots. We do not need to worry about deer or frost, either; and hops do not require nearly the amount of spraying that grapevines require. Many local land owners that would like to have grapes are disappointed to hear of the challenges of growing quality wine grapes on sub par land plots. Hops are not nearly as picky, and with the lower maintenance, it makes sense to do smaller plots for some growers.
Monday, March 17, 2014
|Remember, "Whiskey" is Irish while "Whisky" is Scottish, and neither are made from grapes.|
Obviously, today celebrates the Irish, and Ireland is not known for producing wine, nor consuming a great deal of it. They are known for whiskey and dark beer - preferably served at room temperature. That said, wine is slowly making its ways into the pubs and restaurants of Ireland. That said, Ireland only recently seen as a major cheese producer, so perhaps they could learn a few other tricks from the French...
For the purist, of course, today will be drenched in Guinness, and there's nothing wrong with that. If you can find Murphy's Irish Stout, there's an entire region of Ireland that prefers this lesser-known Irish beer its massively larger cousin. Admittedly, I do, too.
|What goes well with Irish whiskey? Banjo music, obviously|
|See! Wine! Most likely a Chilean Merlot, as it was quite prevalent.|
Editor's note, this picture was actually in Scotland, but the same thing applies
Perhaps it is EU trade rules, cost-to-value ratio or just some industrious Irish businessman began importing the stuff at the right time. Whatever the reason, along with the choice of Irish beers, American beers and whiskey, almost everywhere we went also had wines to offer.
If you are so inclined, follow the new Irish trend of enjoying South American wine on this most Irish of holidays. I have raved about Chilean Merlot in past posts, and I have not softened on them at all. In fact, they are still some of the most complex, best value wines available. If you are more daring, take this opportunity to try a Chilean Carmenere with your corned beef tonight. Other options would be Malbec or Cabernets from Argentina or Tannat from Uruguay.
|Happy Saint Patrick's Day!|
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
This late into January, most New Year's Resolutions have long found their way to the curve along with the Christmas tree, the broken ornaments from the season and the cheesy gifts you can't return and feel too guilty to regift or even give away.
Gone are the good intentions of losing weight, becoming a better person, being more assertive at the office, getting more involved in the community or the seemingly endless list of improvements people make late in December or early in January. By the time late January rolls around, everybody is - more or less - back to being themselves and their resolutions are boxed up and forgotten for another year.
For those who are looking to still do good while not necessarily exerting too much energy, there is hope. Specifically, there is ONEHOPE Wines. ONEHOPE Wines gives half of their profits to social causes depending on which wine. Looking to help fight breast cancer? ONEHOPE's California Chardonnay will help you do that. Was your New Year's Resolution to go on a mission trip to provide clean drinking water for children in the developing world? That probably won't actually happen (again) this year, but you can crack open ONEHOPE's Central Coast Pinot Noir and help get clean water to those in need.
Other causes associated with ONEHOPE wines is autism research, ending Alzheimer's disease, supporting our troops, ending childhood hunger and pet adoptions.
|One Hope's California Pinot Noir. Half of All Profits go Towards Pet Adoptions|
ONEHOPE recently sent me a bottle of their California Pinot Noir - where half of the profits go towards pet adoptions.