Little Wine on the Prairie – Day 1

Little Wine on the Prairie Logo

First day on the road. Whew. This means that I have survived prom 1a, prom 1b and prom 2 and assorted after parties. Also graduation. And making sure Kevin and the girls managed to make their flights to Luxembourg. Oh, and I managed to pry myself away from my sweet puppy.

But finally. I will be on the road and it is all wine and Little House on the Prairie all the time. Well, not the prairie today. Today, it will be the Little House in the Big Woods in Wisconsin. Do you know how many years it took me to realize that Lake Pepin was really the Mississippi River? Or more specifically like a lake with a major river running through it.

Day1

The fun part of this voyage is that there is wine along the trail.  Lots of it.    Like nearly 100 wineries in Wisconsin alone.  WISCONSIN.  And there are nearly 20 within a couple of my route.  

So this leaves the Big Woods.  In and a round Pepin, Wisconsin.  There is a replica of Ma and Pa’s cabin at a roadside stop and then Pepin, itself.  I don’t think there is much left of the old town, but I will see soon enough.  Then I cross over into Minnesota where I will skip over to a couple of places never really mentioned in the books.  Laura’s Uncle Peter had a farm in Zumbro Township.  While staying with her Uncle, Laura’s only brother Charles Frederick died at 9 months.  He is buried in a nearby.
 

 

Road Trippin’ 2013

Little Wine on the Prairie Logo

As you may have noticed, I head out on a road trip nearly every year.  Last year was the exception but only because my girlies started school the day before WBC12 began.  Hm.  Miss the last first day of school for daughter #1 after making a consecutive 14 previous?  or skip the road trip for the year.  Yeah.  You know how I went on this one.

But this year, I am off again for adventures. I’ll be heading west to Penticton, BC for WBC13. This is the first Wine Bloggers’ Conference held in Canada and I am looking forward to it. The bummer? I need a passport this time. I know that this need seems self-evident for most of you, but as a gal who used to cross the border for dates in high school it seems a little crazy to me. Strangely enough, it isn’t getting into Canada that is the issue, but rather coming home and I am loathe to risk another lecture from a self-important douanière (long story).

Since I am largely taking the route that I took to Walla Walla for WBC10, I am looking forward to seeing some sights that I missed on my way out there – namely all the Little House on the Prairie historic sites. Knowing me as you do, you can’t be surprised that I want to do something so nerdy. I loved those books and know that I would have to make these stops sans ma famille. Why? Well, the girls would never put up with more than one stop. Heck, I couldn’t get them to even read the books. It breaks a mother’s heart, it does. But luckily I will indeed be on the road without them and am looking forward to stopping where I please. Oh. Did I mention that there is wine nearby at every stop. Yup. It’s true. Because of this, I have dubbed this trip: Little Wine on the Prairie.

Since Laura Ingalls Wilder never made it further west than the eastern portion of South Dakota, I’ve had to put on my thinking cap (bonnet) to come up with other plans. Here are a couple of ideas that I have thrown around:

  • Sturgis, SD – the location of the big biker rally every year. I believe it is in August. Good lord, I hope it is in August.
  • Yellowstone National Park – Yeah. I want to see the sites but I don’t want to camp or stay in the cabins and develop Hanta Virus (yeah, I said it). Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, Mud Volcano and the Mammoth Springs are tops on my list. Oh, and if I could figure out where the caldera edge for the mega volcano is, that would be swell too.
  • Lake Okanogan, BC – Naturally, I will be seeing the lake as I will be staying on it. But I think an extensive search of the lake to find the Ogopogo, the lake’s native monster. Is it a plesiosaur like the Loch Ness Monster and Champie from Lake Champlain are thought to be or a basilosaurus like other cryptozoologists think? Either way. Or not. With my luck my camera will jam as I am eaten by the thing.

But first? Before I leave, I must survive high school graduation. Not mine, of course, but rather Celia’s. Cross your fingers and hope for the best both before and after graduation.

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Wine From the Sunshine State

Yeah, we fancy with out paper towel napkins

Photo by Gretchen Neuman for VinoVerve.com

When in Florida, you expect to see a lot of citrus. And man do you ever. But surprisingly enough you don’t really see many grapes. Particularly near Orlando. All you see there are mouse ears and you know who they belong to….

Nevertheless, I, your intrepid locapour am always on the lookout for the local wine. And even in the heart of Disney managed to located Florida wine. Florida Wine? Yes.

The wine from Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards is made from grapes but not of the vinifera variety. These are muscadines, the native grapes of the south, vitis rotundifolia. They are bigger than vinifera grapes and found in smaller, loose clusters. Muscadines are bronze, purple and black and have been used to produce wine and jelly since Europeans have been in the American southeast, even in the heat and humidity of Florida.

This wine was brought home from Florida last year and put away in the wine fridge. Last night, Kevin brought it out as a accompaniment of barbecue ribs. Now, Kevin loves to grill. All year long. And he makes a mean sauce. By mean, I mean spicy. I was a bit apprehensive when I saw a bottle of tabasco being used to make the sauce.

But it turns out this wine perfect match. This wine, was a sweet muscadine, which in all fairness is the type you are more likely to find. The flavor was like a bright cherry pop. Except a wine, of course. Cool and sweet in contrast to hot and spicy.

So maybe you don’t like sweet wine. And maybe you don’t think wine should be made in Florida. But last night sweet, Florida muscadine wine was exactly what I needed.

If you are in Florida, visiting the folks or the grands and are Disney’d out, you can find wine in Central Florida just 45 minutes northwest of Orlando.

Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards
19239 U.S. 27 North
Clermont, Florida 34715
1-800-768-WINE

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

The Ohio River Valley AVA Meanders

Map of the Ohio River Valley AVA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just like the great river for which it is named, the Ohio River Valley AVA has changed its course. I alluded to this over the weekend when I mentioned the new Indiana Uplands AVA. But because I wanted to focus on Indiana Uplands and the also new Elkton AVAs, I didn’t get to the revisions the Ohio River Valley.

Today this has changed. As a reminder, this is the original version of the map:

Map of the revised Ohio River Valley AVA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the new? Well, I assumed that the variation between the two maps would represent the original map minus the territory that would have crossed over into the new Indiana Uplands AVA. So, I am including both maps here so you can judge for yourself. I feel fairly satisfied that I guessed correctly.

Map of the Indiana Uplands AVA

 

 

 

Now, what the variations are and what they mean? That will be discussed on another day.

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Busy Week for AVAs

Map of the Indiana Uplands AVA

If you are interested in new American Viticultural Areas, then this has been the week for you as the TTB created two new wine regions and amended a third.

But first the two new appellations:

Indiana Uplands is located in the Hoosier State along the Ohio River. Unlike the old Ohio River Valley AVA, this new region extends further north to Bloomington.

The next new appellation is in Oregon. The Elkton AVA is located within the currently existing Southern Oregon and Umpqua Valley regions. The area is located near the confluence of the Umpqua River and Elkton Creek.

Map of the Elkton AVA

As for the amended Ohio River Valley AVA, well, I haven’t gotten around to figure out what has changed, but am guessing that the Indiana Uplands portion of that map is out. But that is just a guess. You will have to check back sometime next week to find out for certain as well as to find out why these new appellations were designated.

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Willamette Valley AVA

It’s Willamette Dammit! And rightfully so, as this appellation is the big daddy of Oregon winemaking. (also, it is pronounced Ora-gun not Or-e-gone. These folks are making you delicious wine. Be respectful of their ways).  Stretching 150 miles north to south and 60 miles wide in some places, this is the home of Pinot.  The climate is perfect for it.  Located in the same latitudes as the vineyards of Alsace and Burgundy with warm dry summers and a cool rainy season all that this viticultural area needed for success was the perfect soil conditions.  And what do you know?  They got them.  Oregon’s Jory soils are located in the foothills of the region are are composed of igneous rocks that were swept through the region thousands of years ago at the time of the Missoula Floods.  The soil is thick, well drained and full of minerally deposits that grapes just love.

While there is a long history of agriculture in the region, viticulture didn’t really take off until the mid to late 1960s  when UC Davis alum Charles Coury, Dick Erath and David Lett found their way up north of California.  From there the industry has grown by leaps and bounds with around 200 wineries and an additionally six new sub-appellations in existence.  And while Pinot Noir is King, it isn’t the only game in town, additionally grown are:

  • Auxerrois
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Cascade
  • Chardonnay
  • Dolcetto
  • Gamay
  • Gewürztraminer
  • Malbec
  • Marechal Foch
  • Melon
  • Merlot
  • Muller Thurgau
  • Muscat Canelli
  • Muscat Ottonel
  • Nebbiolo
  • Pinot Blanc
  • Pinot Gris
  • Pinot Noir
  • Riesling
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Syrah
  • Tocai Fruiulano
  • Viognier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Umpqua Valley AVA

One man’s basin is another man’s valley.

The Umpqua is formed by three mountain ranges:  The Cascades, the Coastal Range and he Klamath, but often the area is often known as the 100 valleys of the Umpquas.  The Umpqua River runs through the valley but is no way responsible for the formation of this appellation.  The soils are a diverse mixture of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks with alluvial and clays dominating the valley floor and clays.  In fact, the contains at least 150 separate soil types.  The climate of the region is also varied with the northern areas being cool and  moist, the southern being warm and dry and the central area transitional.

Viticulture has been active since the 1880s when German settlers left California and headed north.  In the modern era winemaking was established in the early 1960s and has grown to at least 60 vineyards and 12 wineries.  The appellation also distinguishes itself by being the first place in the U.S. growing Grüner Veltliner.  Other varietals being produced include:

  • Albariño
  • Baco Noir
  • Barbera
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Chardonnay
  • Chenin Blanc
  • Dolcetto
  • Gewürztraminers
  • Grenache
  • Grüner Veltliner
  • Kadarka
  • Malbec
  • Marechal Foch
  • Merlot
  • Muller Thurgau
  • Muscat Canelli
  • Petite Sirah
  • Pinot gris
  • Pinot noir
  • Pinotage
  • Riesling
  • Roussane
  • Sangiovese
  • Semillon
  • Sauvigon Blanc
  • Syrah
  • Tannat
  • Tempranillo
  • Valdiguie
  • Vermentino
  • Viognier
  • Zinfandel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Snake River Valley AVA

Located in both Oregon and Idaho the Snake River Valley was previously best known by me as the location where Evel Kneivel jumped a canyon with a rocket* (or a strangely conceived steam powered motorcycle). My eight-year old self aside, the appellation was designated in 2007 after the Idaho Grape Growers and Wine Producers Commission submitted the petition which was granted due to unique qualities of the region.

And what are those qualities? Specifically, it is cooler, drier, at a higher elevation and with a shorter growing season than nearby appellations (Oregon’s Umpqua Valley, Oregon and Washington’s Walla Walla Valley and California’s Napa Valley (which seems to be a de rigueur comparison)). Unlike many appellations, the soils are varied but are underlain by the remains of ancient Lake Idaho which largely forms the border of the area.

Viticulture had begun in Idaho in the 1860s but it wasn’t until the 1970s that it took root in the Snake River Valley. From that time number of wineries and vineyards to grown to nearly thirty and is producing wines from a wide range of vinifera grapes including:

  • Cabernet Franc
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Carmenére
  • Chardonnay
  • Gewürztraminer
  • Lemberger
  • Malbec
  • Merlot
  • Mourvédre
  • Muscat
  • Petite Sirah
  • Petit Verdot
  • Pinot Gris
  • Pinot Noir
  • Primitivo
  • Riesling
  • Sangiovese
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Semillon
  • Syrah
  • Tempranillo
  • Viognier

I have been to Idaho, though not near the AVA but I did stop and buy a from the appellation.  The wine was a dry Riesling from Ste. Chapelle and I will be looking for more in the future as it was dry and crisp with a bright burst of fruit.  Sadly, on my trip to Oregon this year for WBC12, I was no where near the Snake River Valley.  Maybe next time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Turns out the area that Evel Knievel took off from and landed was in the AVA. Worlds colliding?!

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Rogue Valley AVA

The Rogue Valley viticultural area is located within Southern Oregon and is nestled among the foothills of the Siskiyou Mountain surrounding the Rogue river and its tributaries. Comprised of the river valleys of the Rogue River and its tributaries (the Illinois, Bear Creek and the Applegate) and at the convergence of three mountain ranges (the Klamath, the Coast Ranges and the Cascades) the soils are more variable than in some of the other Oregon appellations but are amongst the warmest and driest in the state.  This allows for the production of a wider variety of grapes including: Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Dolcetto, Gerwurztraminer, Grenache, Malbec, Merlot, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillion, Syrah, Tempranillo and Viognier.

Viticulture has a longer history in the Rogue Valley than in other parts of Oregon.  The earliest settlers into the are in the 1840s planted the first vineyards and by 1852 Peter Britt planted vines that became the state’s first winery in 1873.  The rebirth of the industry began in the late 1960s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Ribbon Ridge AVA

Stretching from Gaston to Newberg, Ribbon Ridge is one of the smaller appellations in the state (The smallest prior to the addition of Red Hill Douglas County, Oregon). Home to five wineries and twenty (20) vineyards, the area is like an island within the larger Chehalem and Willamette Valley AVAs and is protected by the surrounding mountains to allow for a consistently warmer and drier environment during the growing season. The soils in the area are from the Willakenzie series which are less red then the Jory soils but is deep, well drained with a low fertility that makes it perfect for wine grapes.

Viticulture began in the region in 1980 and became and AVA in 2005.

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor