How To Drink Local Wine

My favorite way to discover local wine is through travel. As I drive to conferences or visiting relative, I like to stop by the local winery and taste what they are producing.  I love talking to the wine makers and learning about their story.  Their passion for wine is always infectious.  Currently, I have a problem. Getting away has increasingly become difficult due to family responsibilities (i.e., reining in teens)

My solution? Well the first option is to comb my local wine shops (which may in fact be local grocery stores). Grocery stores? Well, being a foodie type, it makes for easier menu planning.  I have found myself doing this on the road as well.  In part, because I eat better on the road when I am picking fruit and veg instead of eating fast food, but also because in many states, grocery stores have wine (Yes, I know you don’t New York State – get over yourselves on that matter).

I have picked up great wines in Virginia, Indiana Illinois and Nebraska at grocers or their closely associated liquor stores.

Some standouts? Bloom, a small chain that I found while visiting my 104 year old grandmother and other relatives in Virginia Beach. They have a nice wine section that has got one of the nicest selections of local wines that I have ever seen.

My nationwide? Whole Foods is a great choice. With its dedication to fresh and local ingredients, it makes sense that they would feature local wine. Given their national reach? Local wines extend to regional options extending my non-travelling reach. Lately, I have found Firelands Gewurztraminer from Isle St. George, near Sandusky, OH and from Illinois, Prairie State Winery, Lynfred and Glunz Family all in my local WF.

Surprisingly, in Chicago, I have found that smaller, ethnic groceries are full of local options as well. Maybe this is because they are being supplied by alternative distributors. I am not going to argue the point so long as I can find new and original options. In my neighborhood, I am recommending Foremost liquors which vary from neighborhood to neighborhood as to their options.

I have also found increasing local options at my neighborhood Jewel where the wines of Indiana’s Oliver Winery  and Michigan’s Tabor Hill have found themselves on the shelves.

These are very pleasant surprise for a local wine lover.

My new way to get local wine? If I can’t get to the wine? I am having it brought to me.

While not all smaller wineries can and do ship, we should take advantage of those that do. How to chose?  I am using results for wine competitions.  An imperfect system to be sure, but one that is making it easier for a lover of local wine to extend their selections.

What are your favorite regional American wines?  Let us know and maybe I will be checking them out soon!


Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor
October 10, 2011

Eric Asimov




If you are a wine lover, you are definitely familiar with Eric Asimov. We wine bloggers were lucky enough to get a chance to hear him and learned how he began his career.

Sorry that this video bounces around a bit as people kept moving to get closer to him.

Gretchen Neuman, Editor, September 8, 2011

Regional American Wines Celebrated on Today

One of the advantages of “Back to School” time is that, I, your dear editor, regains access to my television (if not my sanity). This means that I get to watch my favorite part of the Today Show, the 4th Hour with Kathy Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb. One of the reasons that it is my favorite is because there is usually liquor involved and often wine. Yesterday Today had Alpana Singh on to pour Regional American wines. Go Alpena and thanks for your support for local American wines from up and coming areas!

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Congrats to the wineries and wines featured:

Blue Sky Vineyards 2010 Vignoles (we’ve been there!)
Red Newt Cellars 2010 Riesling
Keswick Vineyards 2009 Estate Reserve Viognier (coming soon!)
Saint Croix Vineyards 2009 La Crescent Dessert Wine
Prairie State Winery 2009 Cabernet Franc (we’ve been there but I can’t find my own link!)
Bedell Cellars 2007 Musée (we’ve been there!)
Hinterland Vineyard 2009 Marquette Reserve
Barboursville Vineyards 2008 Petit Verdot Reserve (we’ve had their wine!)


Gretchen Neuman, VinoVerve Editor, September 1, 2011

Vlogging Better Know An AVA – Niagara Escarpment.

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

When I decide that I am updating part of the website, I prefer to go all out. And this holds true for our Better Know An AVA pages. As I roll one out with its new improvements I will post here on the main page with a vlog. Bear with me as I am learning how to put this together, though I think I managed to pull this off.

Winter in Hudson Valley Wine Country

Marguerite Barrett
Contributing Writer

The Hudson Valley Wine Country organization is offering a Winter in Wine Country Passport.  Similar to their summer passport program, the Winter in Wine Country Passport is available for $30 and is good for a complimentary wine tasting at each of the 10 participating Hudson Valley wineries:

Benmarl Winery ~ Marlboro, NY
Brookview Station Winery ~ Casteton, NY
Brotherhood Winery ~ Washingtonville, NY   (Vino Verve Visited!)
Hudson-Chatham Winery ~ Ghent, NY
Millbrook Vineyards & Winery ~ Millbrook, NY
Palaia Vineyards & Winery ~ Highland Mills, NY (Vino Verve Visited!)
Robibero Family Vineyards ~ New Paltz, NY
Stoutridge Vineyard ~ Marlboro, NY
Tousey Winery ~ Germantown, NY
Whitecliff Vineyard & Winery ~ Gardiner, NY

You must purchase your passport tickets by January 31st (only 9 days left!) and the tickets are good from February 1st through March 31st.   As tastings run on average between $5 and $10 depending on the winery, the passport is a fantastic deal!

Purchase tickets online through eventbrite, and for more information about the Hudson Valley Wine Country organization, including a list of all Hudson Valley wineries and an interactive map that helps you plan your trip(s), visit

Adair Winery ~ New Paltz, New York

Marguerite Barrett
Contributing Writer

Well I’m finally back on the win(e)ding roads…   Once again life has a way of interfering with fun, although to be fair it is life – or more strictly work – that pays for all of these wonderful jaunts.  So I suppose I can’t complain too much.

Truth be told, though, I haven’t actually hit the wine trail in almost two months; a fact I was bemoaning to Jean, one of my fellow SOTS, just yesterday.  But we hope to rectify that soon.  In the meantime, I still have notes, pictures and wine from the last two wineries I visited this past summer.

I finished up the month of August with a second visit over to the Hudson River Valley and the Shawangunk Wine Trail.   My first, and unfortunately only, stop of the day – Adair Vineyards in New Paltz, New York.

Producing wines since 1987, Adair Vineyards is located a few minutes off the thruway just outside the small downtown area of New Paltz.  The vineyards encompass 10 acres, growing Seyval, Vignoles, Marechal Foch and Millot grapes, and the winery produces approximately 20,000 bottles a year.

The winery is housed in an historic old barn, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Dating back to 1800, the building is beautifully preserved both inside and out.  I fully admit I’m a sucker for red barns; there’s something about them that just calls to me.  Particularly if they feel like they’ve been there forever – a sense of connection to the past.

Outside, the barn, which sits just off the road, fits perfectly with the surrounding fields and vineyards and welcomes visitors to stop and linger at one of the several picnic tables that dot the yard.  Inside, the Adair has capitalized on both the charm and history of the barn.  Inside the main door a small foyer with whitewashed walls opens up onto a stairway leading to the converted hay loft which now serves as the winery’s Tasting Room.   3/4 of the way up the stairs a small landing houses an antique victrola, above which hangs a lovely tapestry.

As you reach the top of the stairs, the space opens up into a large open room flanked by alcoves on the left featuring wine-themed gifts and accessories and the tasting bar running along the back and right walls.  The A-line roof is supported by large exposed oak beams, likely original to the space.   Antique farm implements are positioned around the room and the back walls are lined with pictures and advertisements from the early part of the 20th century.   Centering the room, both literally and figuratively, is a lovely wagon wheel chandelier.  The overall effect is both roomy and cozy, and despite the lack of chairs, guests are made to feel comfortable, welcome and encouraged to linger.

On the afternoon I stopped by in late August, Adair’s menu included five wines, three whites, a beaujolais style rose and a dessert wine, a blackberry kir.  Tastings are $5 and include all five wines.  Adair is open from May through December, Friday-Sunday 11:00 – 6:00, with additional hours added during the harvest months of September and October.  A member of the Shawangunk Wine Trail, Adair participates in the trail’s special events, including the current Wreath Fineries Event, but restrict trail events to groups of 10 or fewer only.

Coming next Tuesday, the Wines of Adair Vineyards

Adair Vineyards
52 Allhusen Road
New Paltz, NY 12561

Shawangunk Wine Trail ~ Hudson River Region AVA, New York

Vineyards at the base of the Shawangunk Mountains; Winery: Palaia Vineyards

Marguerite Barrett
Contributing Writer

By the time I arrived home from my Maine trip that Friday afternoon in mid-August, I had visited 10 wineries in 4 states in just 7 days.  With only two days left until I was due to return to work, I decided Saturday and Sunday would be best spent at home, relaxing, doing laundry and making the mental shift from vacation back to work-mode.

But I still had the Shawnagunk Wine Trail Summer Pass in my pocket and 7 wineries left on the trail.  So the following weekend found me back on I-84 heading west.

85 miles north of Manhattan and about 120 miles west of me here outside of Hartford, CT, the Hudson River Valley lays claim to being the oldest wine region in the United States.   French Hugenots planted the first vines in 1677, and wine production has continued in the region through the present day.  The region boasts the oldest continuously operating winery, Brotherhood Winery, and the oldest continually cultivated vineyard, Benmarl Vineyards in America.

In 1982, the Hudson River Region AVA was designated, running along the banks of the Hudson River under the shadow of the Shawngunk and Catskill Mountains, from White Plains in the south to just below Albany in the North.  Today the region is home to 20 wineries, most in the southern portion of the AVA, well within an easy drive of New York City, Albany, Connecticut and northern New Jersey.

In the heart of the AVA lies the Shawangunk Wine Trail. On the western banks of the Hudson River at the base of the Shawangunk Mountains, the trail is comprised of 11 wineries that stretch between New Paltz and Warwick, New York, along some spectacular scenic drives.  The area was lovely in the height of the summer and must be absolutely stunning in the Fall.

Hudson River Valley farmland; Warwick, NY looking east towards the Hudson River

Throughout the year, the Shawangunk Wine Trail hosts special events and promotions, including the Summer Pass which had prompted my first visit to the region.  Coming up is the Wreath Fineries promotion, which runs three weekends in late November/early December.  At your first winery stop you’ll receive a Shawangunk Wine Trail wine glass, a holiday wreath crafted from grapevines, and a holiday ornament to hang on the wreath.  At each subsequent winery you can pick up additional ornaments until your wreath is complete.  1-day and 2-day passes are available, and the event runs the weekend before Thanksgiving (November 20-21) and the first two weekends in December (December 4-5 and 11-12).  Tickets can be purchased online through the Shawnagunk Wine Trail website.

That second trip to the region was a relatively short one – I left late and managed only one winery stop, Adair Vineyard, which will be featured here on Vino Verve beginning Tuesday.  But there are 6 wineries still remaining on the Shawangunk Wine Trail and at least 9 more in the larger Hudson River Valley – enough material for several months at least.

The Wines of Warwick Valley Winery and Distillery ~ Black Dirt Red

Marguerite Barrett
Contributing Writer

Of Warwick Valley’s five reds, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Black Dirt Red, I chose the Black Dirt because the shelf notes indicated this was a 100% Baco Noir.  Never having heard of the grape, at least not to my knowledge, odds were that I’d never tasted it before either.  And what’s the point of adventuring if you don’t take a chance on new experiences?  And thus, the Black Dirt Red made the cut and joined the Chardonnay and the Riesling in my basket that afternoon.

Before trying the wine, I decided to learn a bit more about the grape.  A quick Google search turned up several articles, including a Wikipedia entry.  Baco Noir is a hybrid grape produced from a cross of the Folle Blanche and an unknown American varietal.  First cultivated in Europe, and once fairly common in France, Baco Noir grapes were introduced into North America in the early 1950s.  Today, the grape is grown primarily in cooler regions, and while you may find it grown in the mid-Atlantic states, you’ll most often find it across the Northeast, the Upper Midwest and Canada, particularly Ontario.

First the grape, then the wine…  The Black Dirt Red is a medium-purple color with flashes of ruby.  The nose is dusky and earthy and rather subdued.  Given the description, I expected the nose to be stronger and fruitier, and at first was concerned that I had perhaps gotten a bad bottle.  But no fear, the first sip dispelled any fears, and the grape lived up to its description.  I was quite taken aback by the almost overpowering presence of the fruit with that first sip, but by the second – or third – sip, it started to grow on me.

The predominant notes are tangy cherry and rich plum.  Together they give the wine both a brightness and a sweetness that is rather distinctive.  Based on my initial reaction, I expected the wine to be off-putting over time.  But I wasn’t quite ready to walk away and by the end of the first glass found the wine to be more intriguing than I had first given it credit for.  Over time the fruit layered in the mouth providing a depth I hadn’t expected.  I poured a second glass to pair with dinner, which was a simple grilled strip steak and a creamy risotto with fontina and parmesan cheeses.  The food didn’t cut or even subdue the strength of the fruit, but it did bring out a touch of warm spice on the finish, a welcome balance to the brightness of the fruit.

According to the articles I found online, New York is one of the larger producers of Baco Noir, and I wonder if this is a grape at the heart of many of the Finger Lakes Reds.   I haven’t yet been to the Finger Lakes although my good friend Greg Rogers and his family live nearby, and Greg has kindly gifted me with some of his favorite Finger Lakes wines over the years.  I’ve generally found the Reds to be somewhat sweeter than I tend to prefer and definitely very fruity.  I chalked that up to  Greg’s personal preferences or the general style of the region’s wines, but now I’m starting to suspect it may also be due to the grape.  The bright tangy cherry I’m finding in the Warwick Valley Black Dirt Red reminds me of the hallmarks of some of those wines Greg has brought me over the years.

Definitely calls for more research.  In the meantime, I’m looking forward to the remainder of the Black Dirt Red, and my next encounter with Baco Noir.

The Wines of Warwick Valley Winery and Distillery ~ Riesling

Marguerite Barrett
Contributing Writer

A few days after finishing Warwick Valley’s Chardonnay, I opened the Riesling.

The color is medium-yellow, and like the Chardonnay a darker, richer color than I often find in the Northeast.   The nose is subdued and earthy, really pleasant and a nice change from the floral and fruity noses I’ve been finding lately.

In the mouth, the wine is richly fruity, not what I expected given the subdued earthiness in the nose.  I definitely picked up notes of pear on the front and green apple, a very tart green apple on the back.  It’s a wonderful combination, starting off soft with the light sweetness of the pear, and then opening up in the mouth to the tart, more robust fruitiness of the apple.

A drier Riesling, this wine stands up nicely on it’s own with a nice bite of acid on the finish providing crispness.  It also pairs really nicely with food and stands up to stronger, spicier flavors.  I paired it with Tuna which worked really well with the tart crispness of the wine.  However, what really surprised me was how it held up against the sharper heat of wasabi.   But instead of clashing, the wasabi brought out more of the pear’s sweetness and helped soften the tartness of the green apple.  As a result the wine felt more full and balanced.

I definitely preferred this to the Chardonnay, and will be picking up a couple more bottles on my next visit.