Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Raging fires devastating wine country in California

A typical disaster in California wine country. (AP Photo)
From The New York Times

Fatal wildfires scorching eight Northern California counties this week have dealt a devastating blow to the important wine and tourism industries, destroying more than 1,500 buildings, including historic wineries.

Although the seasonal harvest is nearly complete, the conflagration threatens to disrupt tens of thousands of jobs and destroy valuable stores of grapes waiting in bins, barrels and bottles to be fermented or aged. The extent of the damage will be unclear for days because the fires are blocking many winery owners from reaching their facilities.

Tourism in the region — a multibillion-dollar economic machine that includes high-end hotels, wine-tasting tours and upscale cuisine — is suffering as the flames claimed many establishments and forced many others to shutter for the rest of the week.

“It has been a devastating fire,” the Sonoma County Winegrowers group said in a Facebook post. “Reports of fire damage to wineries, businesses and homes continues to grow.”
The blazes — which have left at least 11 people dead — continued to rage on Tuesday. Seventeen separate fires, across 94,000 acres, have forced more than 20,000 people to evacuate.
Go here for the full story.

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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Wine Enthusiast reveals 45 NY wines rated 90 or higher

Wine Enthusiast magazine has just released a "Buying Guide: New York State Wine" that rates  45 different wines from 25 New York wineries rated at 90 points or above.

The magazine's editors note that its November issue's  "batch of reviews show wines from New York offer a dizzying array of diversity.

"New York wine is often priced under $20 at entry level. These wines represent a breed of painstakingly made, small production pours that offer remarkable value."

Also, Wine Enthusiast's "Top 100 Best Buys" include Wagner Vineyards' 2016 Unoaked Chardonnay (#60), Dr. Frank Wine Cellars' 2015 Dry Riesling (#74), and Glenora Wine Cellars' 2015 Riesling (#99).

Click here for the complete buying guide.
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NY gewürztraminer judged best in Sommelier Challenge

New York State entries earned some top-level awards in the Sommelier Challenge International Wine & Spirits Competition recently held in San Diego.
Penguin Bay Winery won "Best Gewürztraminer" and took home a Platinum medal  (94 of 100 possible points) for its 2016 Gewürztraminer. 
Swedish Hill Winery took a Gold medal (92 Points) for its Riesling.
Goose Watch Winery Viognier also took a Gold medal (90 Points) for its Viognier. 
Penguin Bay is located in Hector, Schuyler County; Swedish Hill in Romulus, Seneca County, with a tasting room in Saratoga Springs; and its sibling Goose Watch is in Romulus.

Complete results from the competition are available online.

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Saturday, September 16, 2017

'Riesling Road Show' taking Finger Lakes statewide

With more than 200 brands produced in the region, Riesling has put the Finger Lakes on the serious oenophile's map. To return the favor, the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance is in the process of hosting a "Riesling Road Show" this month to shine the spotlight on its star varietal.

The month-long series of trade tastings celebrating the exceptional range of Rieslings produced by Finger Lakes Wine Alliance member wineries spans New York State, and will culminate with a restaurant takeover in New York City. Some are trade-only events. Others are open to the public. The series already has stopped in Buffalo and Rochester. Remaining events:
• Tuesday, September 19 -- Trade tasting , 7 to 10 p.m., at The Point, Albany

• Tueaday, September 26 -- Trade tasting 7 to 10 mp.m., p.m. –10 p.m. Xaviars X20 on the Hudson, Yonkers

• Wednesday, September 27 -- Trade luncheon , noon to 2 p.m., 12 p.m. –2 p.m. Pierre Loti Wine Bar, Chelsea (Manhattan -- 258 West 15th at 8th Avenue)

• September 24-30-- Trade luncheon, noon to 2 p.m., in conjunction with the Chelsea Drinks Project, the FLWA will collaborate with Pierre Loti Wine Bar to host eight wines from the Finger Lakes.

•  September 24-30 --Finger Lakes Rieslings will be featured at Pierre Loti Wine Bar's three locations in New York City. To begin the week, Wine Lovers of NYC will host a public wine tasting (reservations are required)
• Sunday, September 24 -- Pierre Loti, Union Square (53 Irving Place), a sit-down Riesling tasting 2 to 4 p.m.
The cool climate and shale-rich terroir of the Finger Lakes has proven over the years to be very conducive to cultivating the Riesling grape. Allowed to develop slowly, it produces a complex, aromatic and balanced wine. As many as 950 acres in the region are devoted to Riesling grapes, with most producers making two or three styles, for a total of 230,000 cases.

Fourteen of those producers are showcasing their wines during the Riesling Road Show: Atwater Estate Vineyards, Boundary Breaks Vineyard, Buttonwood Grove Winery, Chateau LaFayette Reneau, Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery, Finger Lakes Wine Co., Glenora Wine Cellars, Heron Hill Winery, Knapp Winery, Lakewood Vineyards, Rooster Hill Vineyards, Sheldrake Point Winery, Three Brothers Wineries & Estates, and Wagner Vineyards.

The Finger Lakes Wine Alliance was Founded in 2004 as a not-for-profit corporation whose mission is to increase the visibility and reputation of the Finger Lakes region, its wines and wineries. The alliance is comprised of359 members and 15 affiliated businesses and vendors, and it is guided by a board of directors comprised of principals representing all four wine trails and non-wine trail wineries of the Finger Lakes.
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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Fox Run hosting educational seminar on ports, sherries

Fox Run Vineyards is teaming up with the organization Women for WineSense to host an educational seminar on ports and sherries of the world.

Each guest will have the opportunity to taste four sherries and four ports selected by winemaker Peter Bell. Chef Brud Holland will pair the wines with small plates.

The event is scheduled for Monday, September 18. Check-in will start at 5:30 p.m., and the event will begin at 6:30. Tickets, available online, are $45, or $35 for Women for WineSense members. (Not familiar with Women  for WineSense? Click here for details.)

Fox Run Vineyards is located at 670 State Route 14 in Penn Yan, overlooking Seneca Lake. Phone: (800) 636-9786.

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Interview with first U.S. female Master of Wine

Nova Cadamatre (photo provided)
Nova Cadamatre, director of winemaking for Canandaigua Winery and owner of the boutique Trestle Thirty One winery, has become the first female American winemaker to pass the Masters of Wine exam administered by the Institute of Masters of Wine. There are just 369 Masters of Wine living in 29 countries. She was interviewed by Sam Filler, executive director of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation.
Question: So, how does it feel to be the first female winemaker in the United States to pass the Masters of Wine exam?

Answer: It feels amazing just to pass, but to be the first female winemaker to achieve it is still pretty unbelievable. I’d like to think that it means women are taking on a more prominent role in the industry overall. I have worked with so many talented women, so I’m always a little skeptical of the numbers that only show 10% of the winemakers in this industry are women.
Q: There are many certificates and programs for wine and wine and spirits education at this point. Can you tell us a little bit about the difference between the Masters of Wine program and the Master Sommelier program, for instance.

A: Definitely. The Master of Wine (MW) and the Master Sommelier (MS) programs are the top certifications for this industry. The MW is more production and industry focused while the MS is more service oriented. I think each serves a very important role but are quite different in their approach to wine. There are many other certifications, including the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) out of London, the lower level Sommelier certifications, Certified Specialist of Wine, and Certified Wine Educator certificates. I’ve gone through the WSET program and I highly recommend that for increasing general wine knowledge. I started with level 3 and then went on to my diploma as a stepping stone for my MW.

Q: What advice would you have for recent college grads who would like to enter this field? 
A: Try to get internships in as many different areas of the world as possible. It’s important to learn widely and from as many winemakers in as many styles as possible when you are young. By having this wide breadth of experience, you can draw on it later in life when you begin to specialize.

Q: A lot of people have seen the movie "SOMM" by now and know how rigorous that exam process is and how dedicated the professional must be to pass. Tell us a about the level of commitment needed to study for the MW exam. How did that affect you?

A: Over the eight years I studied to become an MW, it became part of my job and home life. There were weekend mornings that were totally dedicated to tasting with a group when I was out in California. I traveled extensively to learn as much as I could. I spent late nights up studying and lunch breaks mind-mapping theory questions. Every time I flew I took theory questions with me to mind-map and write full essays for. My family was incredibly supportive although I know by the time I passed both the Theory and the Practical (tasting exam) seven  years in, it was starting to wear on all of us. 
Go here for the rest of the interview.
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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Heat wave 'raisining' California grape crop

Heat-shriveled California vineyards.
From Food and Wine.com
... California vineyard owners aren't worried about hitting the beach; they're concerned about the grape harvest. ... Unseasonably hot weather played havoc throughout California wine country, with some winemakers complaining that their grapes have shriveled into raisins.

Temperatures on September 1 spiked to between 105 and 109 degrees in major wine regions, including Napa and Sonoma, the hottest weather those two areas have seen on the first day of September in at least 40 years, according to Farmer's Almanac data ... .

"I've been making wine for 34 years, and I don't think Napa's ever seen this excessive heat at this stage of ripeness," said Pam Starr, co-owner of Crocker & Starr Wines in St. Helena. In her part of the Napa Valley, temperatures were over 110 degrees three days in a row. ...

The result of such heat is a well-known phenomenon: The grapes can turn to raisins while still on the vine.
Go here for the full story.
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