WBC’11 – Drinking Local

Marguerite Barrett
Contributing Writer

First, let me say – great job so far to the conference organizers.  The first day of WBC’11 went off without a hitch, the sessions were all good, discussion was lively and interesting, and, despite the heat, dinner and the Virginia wine tasting at Monticello was tremendous.

Not surprisingly the breakout session that really drew me was the Drink Local panel featuring Lenn Thompson of the New York Cork Report and, we learned yesterday, a new board member of DrinkLocalWine.com; Rémy Charest from Quebec, who blogs at The Wine Case, and Frank Martin, wine writer for The Washington Post and founder of DrinkLocalWine.com.

The panel quickly turned into a group discussion with the full room with two topics generating the most discussion, the price of local wines, which to many consumers often feel quite expensive being in the $15-$30 range, and the locapour/locavore issue, in particular why more chefs and restaurants who say they are committed to use of local ingredients don’t also include local wines in their restaurants.

The thoughts and ideas were varied.  The panelists pointed out that too often chefs don’t go out to the wineries to source local wines, and the winemakers don’t visit the restaurants to try to place their wines.    It was also noted that many local wineries don’t produce enough volume to distribute widely in restaurants and that often in smaller markets you’ll find local restaurants serving local wines because the restaurant and the winery are both part of the same community.

Lenn Thompson pointed out that people who enjoy local wines need to be more vocal about asking for local wines when they are in restaurants.   I agree.

However, are there enough of us who truly embrace the Locapour philosophy to make a difference?   How many bloggers attending this year’s conference have featured local wines in their blog this year?   Probably more than I anticipate, but far less than should.

Should we be spending more time and energy building the Locapour movement among our neighbors – and let the restaurants follow?  Having a local wine on the menu is great, but not if I’m one of only a few people who might select it each year.

When I moved to Connecticut about 4 1/2 years ago and started down this journey of exploring my new home one winery at a time, I was absolutely amazed at how many of my colleagues at work, who had lived their entire lives in Connecticut, had no idea that Connecticut had any wineries, no less a very vibrant and thriving local wine community.  Or, if they were aware of Connecticut wine, they either thought it was all crap, or all fruit wine, or it was just Ballet of Angels, the one wine that has a fairly wide distribution across Connecticut.  They had no clue that there were over 30 wineries in all areas of the state, that several of them were no more than 30-45 minutes away, and all of them were well within a 2-hour drive from their homes.

Some of my more open-minded, adventurous friends soon joined me on the wine trail and began to experience for themselves the range of wines available throughout the state.   They began to expand their palates, learning they liked a wider range of wines and grapes than they had believed, and while not all the wines were great, they found some new favorite wines right in their own backyards.

Best of all, they enjoyed the experience and the wines so much that they began planning their own trips with husbands, friends, and relatives, and now when we get together, people are including as part of their regular conversations new wineries they’ve visited, trading notes on the new wines they’ve discovered, and generally encouraging others to hit the trail.

This was the piece of the puzzle that I felt we missed at the Drinking Local Wine panel yesterday.   With all the talk of encouraging local wines into restaurants, of confronting the often long-standing mis-impressions of local wines as being bad, of encouraging state tourism boards to better promote their local wine culture, and of better marketing local wine regions to those outside the region, I didn’t hear much discussion on how we foster a local Locapour community.

I would argue that people like Gretchen or me – or indeed, many of the people attending yesterday’s panel – are the vanguard not the target audience for Locapour efforts.  Just speaking for myself, I’m already very committed to the Locapour philosophy and at any given time you’ll find 50-75% of the wines in my house are from local vineyards that I have personally visited.   I am curious about other regions and am regularly searching both the internet and the library for information about different wine regions, local wineries, reviews of local wines, blogs, etc.   And whenever and wherever I travel, I try to find time to include a visit to at least one local winery on the agenda.   And yes, I go into wine shops and restaurants and ask if they offer local wines.

But I also have almost daily conversations with neighbors and colleagues who believe the only good wines come from the West Coast, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and South America.    Pointing out that even 10-12 years ago people were not embracing wines from South Africa they way they do today, or unless you were a serious wine drinker had never heard of Malbec or Tempranillo and now even the most basic restaurant wine list carries them, usually gets me a “but that’s different” response.

Really?  How is that different?  Why, if the wine comes from an emerging wine region overseas is that “different?”  Why if you’d never heard of Malbec or Tempranillo grapes before everyone seemed to be talking about them is that any different than trying a St. Croix or Marechal Foch from your local winery?

Is the real answer, my cynical side asks, because “everyone was talking about” the Malbecs and Tempranillos and few, if any, are talking about local wines?  Is it because we are snobs – even if we won’t admit it – pooh-poohing anything local because it’s familiar, and the familiar often doesn’t have the same caché as a far-off quasi-exotic location?

And is it because we are lemmings, again however much we won’t admit it, and if the wine press, the wine bloggers, and the wine “buzz” isn’t talking about wines from the “Other 46” it must be because they aren’t worth talking about?

And if that is the answer, then should we focus more time and energy on building a wine region’s buzz from within?  How do we get our neighbors, colleagues, families out on the wine trails?  How do we engage more of the bloggers?  How do we publicize the local wine community to the local community?  And then how do we get the mainstream wine community to notice?

I don’t have all the answers, but I am certainly interested in the discussion.



Make Locapour Part of Your Pick Five

Marguerite Barrett
Contributing Writer

In honor of the 41st Earth Day, the EPA has launched a new campaign, “Pick Five,” a “Do One Thing” on steroids if you will.   The campaign acknowledges that “environmental action can mean doing different things in different places,” but posits that if everyone commits to five things that they can do in their own locales, together we can make a huge impact on the environment.

We here at Vino Verve certainly agree, and we encourage everyone to consider making a Locapour commitment one of your “Pick Five.”

Local wineries and breweries exist in every state, and the trend is growing with new vineyards, wineries and breweries being established every day.  Many states’ tourism websites include lists of local wineries, and many now have established wine trails and local wine organizations that provide trail maps and links to the wineries’ websites.  And don’t assume there’s nothing close to you – when Gretchen and I first started down this “win(e)ding road,” we both naively assumed there would be at best a handful of wineries in our areas – and yet, we’ve found a treasure trove of great wine and charming wineries across New England and along the shores of Lake Michigan.

Locapour is a commitment, though.  For the casual, “I just pop into my local liquor or grocery store when I need something,” buyer, it can be difficult to become a Locapour.  Most local wineries don’t produce the volume necessary for distribution across major markets, and many liquor stores, particularly smaller ones, may not even have a local wine section.  But it never hurts to ask, and the more people ask for something the more likely the proprietor will be to try and provide it in the future.

Locapour also means stretching beyond your comfort zone.  You are not going to find big, bold California-style wines produced in most of the rest of the country.   Here in New England, for example, you’ll be hard pressed to find a local vineyard or winery that produces Cabernet Sauvignon – it’s just not a grape that knows how to appreciate long, cold winters.  But you’ll find quite a few local wineries producing Cabernet Franc – a charming cousin that produces rich, fruity reds that are eminently drinkable and not as heavy as the Sauvignon.  And for all of you out there who avoid reds altogether because you find them too heavy, too dry, too whatever, your local wines may change your mind, as many are fruitier and lighter than the “big” wines you find coming from the major wine regions.

As John Lennon once sang, “Turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream…”  Let go of preconceived ideas of what wine should taste like.  Forget that you “don’t like fruit wines” or that “red wine gives me a headache.”  Don’t assume local = amateur. And most importantly let go of the idea that to be great, or even good, a wine must be made from one of the commercially common grapes: cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, zinfandel, chardonnay, pinot.

So, in honor of Earth Day, join us in making the Locapour commitment.  And to help you get started, below are weblinks to state wine associations or information on local wineries in your state.   Salut!

Alabama Alaska Arizona
Arkansas California Colorado
Connecticut Delaware Florida
Georgia Hawaii Idaho
Illinois Indiana Iowa
Kansas Kentucky Louisiana
Maine Maryland Massachusetts
Michigan Minnesota Mississippi
Missouri Montana Nebraska
Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey
New Mexico New York North Carolina
North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma
Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island
South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee
Texas Utah Vermont
Virginia Washington West Virginia
Wisconsin Wyoming

Missouri Defiance

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

“Defiance!” I said, while pointing the car down the highway.

“What did I do?” Sophie asked.

“No, no,” I quickly explained, “That is the town we are going to”.

Not that this really helped my 13 year old traveling companion. But then, she really hadn’t done any research.. Defiance is the name of several towns and villages throughout the U.S. It is also the beginning of the Missouri Weinstraße, Route 94 between Defiance and Marthasville.  It was also the final living place (though not resting place) of Daniel Boone.

It is also home to  three wineries.  Chandler Hill Vineyards, Yellow Farmhouse Winery and Sugar Creek Winery & Vineyards.

I stopped at Sugar Creek after finding the Yellow Farmhouse closed (and across the street from a really active biker bar).  The tasting room was off the road and across the Katy Trail and up about 150 feet (yes, it was a steep hill).  I liked that there were different outdoor settings for people.  There were at least two decks, a  patio and scattered tables surrounding a gazebo.  Additionally, there was an area that was set aside for music and (presumably) dancing.

The tasting room was relatively small but opened up into rooms in the back that were available for additional seating or for event rental.  Sophie looked around while a started my tasting.  The winery produces 15 different wines ranging from dry to sweet.  I settled on tasting the dry varietals beginning with the Vidal Blanc.  This is an estate grown wine that was fermented in stainless steel with the addition of oak chips while the wine is aged.  The  wine is light and crisp with just enough oak.

The next wine I tasted was the Chardonel which is a hybrid of Chardonnay and Seyval grapes.  This wine is also an estate selection.  It was fermented in aged in French oak barrels.  This wine was fuller bodies than the Vidal Blanc with nice citrus notes and butteriness.  Overall though, I thought both of the white wines lacked a certain oomph.  The reds, on the other hand, stood out.

The first red wine that I tried was the Chambourcin.  I have to admit that I have been enjoying Chambourcin more and more and this wine was no exception.  The wine was ripe with cherry flavor and dry.  It was aged in oak which provided a richness.

Next was the Cynthiana, more commonly called Norton.  This varietal is a native American grape.  The wine it produced tasted of black fruit and had a pleasant tannic finish.  It was finished in American Oak.  I will be looking for more Norton wines in the future.

The last wine that I tasted that day was the Michael’s Signature Red.  It was produced in honor of the winery owner’s Italian grandfather who taught him about wine making. This wine was softer with a smokiness.  It, like all of the wines that I tasted that day, were estate grown and bottled.

I was surprised to find that the Sugar Creek label did not list the Augusta appellation.  They just designated that they were from Defiance.  The winery is listed as an Augusta winery on the Missouri Wine Country website.  Never fear!  I managed to find AVA designated wine nearby!

Hudson River Region AVA

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Ahh, the Hudson River. Four hundred years of American history flow up and down its length.  I am guessing that Henry Hudson had no idea what he was getting us all into when he sailed up river looking for the Northwest Passage (he didn’t find it there…(duh) but even though he explored the river for the Dutch, even the English named the river for him)).

Wine-making is thought to begin with the French Huegenots who settled in what is now New Paltz. The year was 1677. This was six years before the first European attempt to establish vineayrds in California. The region is also home to oldest vineyard (located at the Benmarl Vineyards) and the oldest winery, Brotherhood Winery (which even produced during Prohibition by making sacramental and medicinal wines) in the United States.

The region is home to over thirty wineries which can be found at Uncork NY!

Hudson River Valley

Williamsburg Wine

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Tobin Logo via JohnMorrell.com

Tobin Logo via JohnMorrell.com

I have always wanted to go to Colonial Williamsburg. It calls a nerd like me. During the Bicentennial, we Miller’s got into the Tobin Packing Company car (Dad was a salesman for the company) that looked like a skunk (it was black and white with a Tobin’s decal on the doors) and drove down south… We didn’t stop at Williamsburg because there was an argument about whether we should stop at Kings Dominion. Plus we had already stopped at Mount Vernon.

When I am visiting Nanny and the cousins in Virginia Beach, I don’t get a chance to stop either. They keep me busy catching up. What I really need is to bring the girls with me so that I can use them as an excuse to go. Not that they are interested in Interpretive History. They might have had their fill of that in Salem.

What I was able to do while in Virginia was to make a stop at the grocery store. And there I found a decent selection of local wine (NOT an option at my local Jewel). So I picked up a couple of bottles.

WilliamsburgYesterday, we opened this one. Williamsburg Winery was created in 1985 by the Duffeler family and produced its first wine in 1988. The first wine produced was the Governor’s White. It is a medium-bodied semi-dry wine with grapefruit and Golden Delicious apple flavors (or maybe apple pear, I am undecided). The wine doesn’t list what varietals were blended to create it. But the winery grows Cayuga, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Traminette and Vidal Blanc in their vineyard. Judging from the flavors I would guess that Vidal Blanc was one of the primary grapes used for this wine.

Other wines produced by Williamsburg Winery include:

  • James River White
  • Plantation Blush
  • Susan Constant Red
  • Two Shilling Red
  • John Adlum Chardonnay
  • Andrewes Merlot
  • Arundell Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Acte 12 Chardonnay
  • Burgesses’ Measure Merlot
  • Henings Statute Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Seyval Blanc
  • Viognier
  • Merlot Reserve
  • Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
  • Gabriel Archer Reserve
  • Virginina Trianon (a Cabernet Franc)
  • Vintage Reserve Chardonnay
  • Late Harvest Vidal
  • Blackberry Merlot
  • Raspberry Merlot
  • Spiced Wine

The wines range in price from $7.50 to $65.00 with the majority of selections in the $9.00 to $16.00 range. WIlliamsburg Winery can be ship to California, Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Washington, DC, Texas, Virginia, Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Wisconsin, Illinois and Ohio.

Williamsburg Winery is NOT in the confines of Colonial Williamsburg but rather a couple of miles outside of the town. Along with the winery, the property is home to a hotel, Wedmore Place and the Gabriel Archer Tavern. It is located at:

5800 Wessex Hundred
Williamsburg, Virginia 23185

WBC ’09 Countdown

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

As I have mentioned before, I am getting ready to head out for the Wine Bloggers Convention at the end of the month. And better yet? I am making a road trip of it.

At this point, I should have driven through the States of Illinois (aka home) where there are seventy (70) wineries. And I will have driven through Iowa that is home to seventy five (75). And thank you to Sheila Linskens who has suggested that I visit the Jasper Winery and Snus Hill Vineyard & Winery. Anyone else who has suggestions should email me… or Tweet (I will list the contacts below).

As my journey continues, I will be heading into Nebraska.  I know, I know… You are saying, “But Gretchen!  There couldn’t be wineries in Nebraska!”  Well, once again you are WRONG!  Because there are twenty-eight (28) wineries in the Cornhusker State.

Winemaking was introduced into the state in the late 1800s and by 1900 nearly 5,000 acres were being cultivated.  The first winery to open in Nebraska after Prohibition was the Cuthills Vineyards which will be out of my for this trip unfortunately.  But again… Any recommendations received would be greatly appreciated!


Email info to Gretchen at:


or Tweet me at


Bon Voyage!

Did You Know?

Thank you Wikipedia!

Being the dork that I am, I look at Wikipedia every day in order to learn interesting and strange items. I know you are SHOCKED! Well, I don’t write for another blog called GastroNerds for nothing!

Here is the tidbit that I picked up yesterday:

… that wine can be made from substances other than grapes, including marijuana?

Oh, all right. I did know one part of that… Yes, wine CAN be made from other substances. Usually fruit or local grains, (although the process for rice wine, or Sake is really more akin to producing beer and in fact Sake makers are called brewers). But I have had my share of apple and cherry wine from Michigan, Illinois and New York. And I knew that there is a winery in Alaska using the local fruits to produce wine.

But marijuana?

The 14 year old boy in me.. that hung out with the guys playing Dungeons and Dragons says, “Excellent!” (naturally, we did not partake of anything so illicit during these D&D matches.. I only had a level 8 Paladin and I had to keep my wits about me).

According to Wikipedia:

The term wine can sometimes include alcoholic beverages that are not grape-based. This can include wines produced from fruits like apples and elderberries, starches like rice, as well as flowers and weeds like dandelion and marijuana.

Now I have had dandelion wine. It is produced from the flowers of the dandelion. It is floral, grassy, a bit astringent and sweet all at the same time. Very wild tasting. I can only imagine how marijuana wine would be made or what it would taste like… But I am sure it would be a very mellow evening.

Where is a girl supposed to shop!

I am not making this up!

Where do you shop if you want non-Californian, non-Washington-Statian, non-Oregonian wine. Yes, I want wine from the other 47 states.

As I have mentioned previously, every state in the nation has a bonded winery. Where do we get these wines. I have checked at my favorite wineshops and find them wanting. Typically, I can find six or so bottles from two or three vineyards at each (not counting traditionally American Kosher wines that seem to be ubiquitous… and are generally from New York wineries, although not labelled as such).

My favorite wine shops (which I love and will never stop shopping at), Binny’s Beverage Depot, Sam’s Wine and Liquors, and the Wine Discount Center sell wines from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New Mexico, New York and Ohio. It should be be noted that they don’t all sell these wines, or all the time, but that they are occassionally available.

Even at online stores, there was not much more availability… I checked with Wine.com, WineLibrary.com… they carried wines from New York and New Jersey.

So sad…

What am I supposed to do if I want wine from Missouri, or Arkansas or Viriginia?

Well, I have to hope that the wineries are able to ship to me. But of course, with our crazy interstate commerce rules, this is not a guarantee….


I need to start travelling more.

I even checked at online wineries. Winelibrary.com in their category of