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

More Lists for Locapours

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Lists 4 LocapoursFor my next installment of Lists for Locapours I am going to tell you about a Chicago restaurant that includes local wines on their list. Naturally, you would assume that this restaurant is of a lower quality.

You would be wrong.

Charlie Trotter’s even has a page on his website dedicated to American wines, stating:

“….By 2001, there were licensed wineries in all 50 states. All these producers have great pride in what they’re cultivating. Thus far, the results are good, with incredible potential in the years to come…..we invite you to enjoy our ongoing search for the quintessential wine produced in each of the 50 states, either from European and native North American grape varieties, or from other fruits. They may be red or white, dry or sweet. This chapter, like winemaking in North America , is a work in progress, and evolution. The search will continue as we cross borders and venture into Canada and Mexico .”

Some of the wines that are included on this list are:

1994 Lynfred Cabernet Sauvignon, from Roselle, Illinois… We have been there!
Hopkins Vineyard Cabernet Franc, Western Connecticut Highlands (VinoVerve has been there!)
Cedar Creek “Semidry” Vidal, Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin (VV has been there but I forgot to post it… ugh! But I will soon)
2003 Sakonnet Vidal Blanc, Southeastern New England (from Rhode Island, and yes… we’ve been there!)

So, remember, the next time someone tells you that there are no decent local wines, and they certainly don’t pair in a fine dining environment remind them that Charlie Trotter disagrees.

Viva the Locapour, Charlie!

Lynfred White Wines

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

I know what you are thinking, “The building is lovely, but how is the wine?”

And just so you know? I am getting there. Just in my own good time. I like savoring the sites and sounds as well as the tastes of a new adventure in wine.

As Kevin and I got ourselves settled for a tasting it was recommended that we start with the white wines.

The first wine that we tasted was the 2007 Gewurztraminer. I loved the smell in this glass. Flowers and tropical fruit, which continued into the drinking of it! I thought that the smell was like bananas with a touch of green apple and the taste was more like mango. The wine was overall dry but had a bit of sweetness that mellowed.

More sophisticated palates than mine might say lychee (nuts?) fruit. I think I have to eat more of them to pull that from my memory.

I love to drink wines like this with Asian or spicy food, or even better, spicy Asian food. (just writing that is making me miss the Tipsuda that used to exist in Hyde Park, a million oh, about 20 years ago.. of course back then I wouldn’t have had the sense to have a good Gewurztraminer with me, but rather a bottle of Canei…. Yes, you can). The tasting notes also suggest curries, pork, sauerkraut (choucroute garnie anyone? I make my own sauerkraut!) baked potatoes, Muenster cheese, turkey, salmon and fruit desserts. I concur.

Unfortunately, (or fortunately for me) you have to be a member of the wine club in order to purchase this wine. I am a member, so this is great! It is easy to join. Sign up here. It is easy peasy!

Next we had the 2006 Viognier, which to me tasted of honey and fruit which I thought orignially was peach. The tasting notes indicated apricot which I thought was pretty close.

I prefer to think that I blocked out the sense of it being apricot. See, I once suffered an apricot disaster when my cat, Clyde, sat himself in a cooling apricot tart (to show me who was boss). The subsequent weeks of pushing Valium down the cat’s throat has quite put me off of apricots… but clearly I vaguely remember their flavor.

The Viognier had a nice balanced taste of fruit and acid and a wonderful rich finish. The winery recommends serving it with seafood, such as prawns, salmon and swordfish as well as salads and antipasto.

The last white wine that we tasted was the 2007 Late Harvest Riesling. It had a beautiful golden color and the aroma of honey and pear. It was a heavier wine in terms of its viscosity, enhancing the mellifluous sense of the wine and felt velvety in my mouth.

Late harvest wines are often served with dessert and I can imagine this wine standing up to the acidity of lemony flavors and angel food cake. I can also imagine it being ideal with tangy goat cheeses.

Oh by the way? Lynfred has a wonderful bakery on premises and makes bread to use during tastings. BUY THIS BREAD. Particularly if you get a chance to try the Goat Cheese Mushroom Swiss. You won’t be sorry.

Up next: Red Wines

A Hidden Gem in My Own Backyard

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Well, practically in my backyard anyway. This is Kevin and I arriving at Lynfred Winery. Lynfred is in Roselle, Illinois also known as the town my folks live in. Well, mostly Kevin as you can see, because, well… someone has to man the camera. Mostly that person is me.

Our stop here at the Lynfred Winery was our first official stop on our tour of the Northern Illinois Wine Trail and the closest to our house.

The strange thing is that while I have had their wine before it was only the Christmas Red which was always available for sale at Marshall Field’s wine shop back when we had Marshall Fields in town. For all I know they might still carry it at Macy’s. I just don’t go into stores and malls at the holidays anymore if I can avoid it. The internetz is my friend.

Any way, Kevin and I headed out towards my folks house but turned off on Roselle Road instead. The building that houses the winery is one of the oldest in town and was built on land owned by a member of the founding fathers Roselle Hough. Lynn and Fred Koehler who started the winery in 1979 restored the building and built it into the largest and oldest continuously operating winery in the State of Illinois.

In addition to producing over 50 varietals and over 25,000 cases of wine, the folks at Lynfred run a bed and breakfast (formerly run by my Mom’s neighbor, Kelly) and host public and private wine tastings and other events.

I loved the attention to detail in every part of the winery. The gallery around the fermentation tanks. The cameras around the winery that show what is going on in every part of the winery. the stunning stained glass and the carvings in the the tasting room (on the floor and in the bar).

I also got to meet Chris Anderson-Heller who is the winery’s marketing director. I was bold enough to offer a business card hoping that I could meet her as I had heard so much about her from our mutual friend, Tom Wark. She was everything that he described to me and more. And surprisingly enough, has read our efforts here at VinoVerve. (I never really believed that the hits from Roselle were from my folks. They often have trouble with their email and my father blows through at least 2 hard drives per year, and no, I am not making that part up)

That being said, the measure of any winery is the wine. And so, in my next post I will discuss wines that we tasted as well as the fantastic breads that they bake at the winery and sell as well as use during the tastings.

Map in hand!

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

I am ready to start my adventure on the Northern Illinois Wine Trail!

I made my map and now I just need to decide where to start first. (Although in all fairness, I have visited some of these wineries already, i.e. Fox Valley, Sycamore and Prairie State).

Interestingly enough, while I have had the Lynfred wine, I have never visited the winery. Perhaps that should be my first stop?

I think so!