Look for Roadtrip Posts!

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Now that I am on the road to the WBC, my posts will be a little different than usual. I might be submitting several small articles a day… They might be posted from my phone. And I will be keeping in touch on Twitter and Facebook….

So look for this logo:

Roadtrip logo

I will be reachable by phone for those of you who know it….
Facebook: Gretchen Neuman
Twitter: mamandesfilles
email: gretchen@vinoverve.com

and of course,

here on the blog


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Road Tripped

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Can you believe that at this point only one state stands between me and the Golden State? (In theory any as I don’t leave until Monday)

That state couldn’t possibly produce any wine, could it? It is Nevada after all and is almost all desert. And surprisingly enough the answer is yes… There could be wine produced there at approximately three wineries.  The winery in Pahrump will sadly be too far off my trail…. but the others?  They are possible.  I can’t wait to see what I discover.


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Road Tripping

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Can you believe that it is almost time for me to leave for the Wine Bloggers Convention?! It seems like I just registered for it yesterday…

Naturally, I am still contemplating stops along the road… Today I will be looking at Utah wineries.

I have to admit that I was surprised to find wineries in Utah as I remembered the fuss over liquor and the sale thereof for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.  However, Utah is now home to (approximately) seven wineries.  It appears that four of them will be on or near my route to California…  Hopefully, I will have time to stop and try some Utah wine!


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Ventimiglia Vineyards ~ The Reds (New Jersey)

Marguerite BarrettVentimiglia Vineyards ~ vineyards behind winery / Photo: Marguerite Barrett
Contributing Writer

Gene Ventimiglia, patriarch and principal winemaker of Ventimiglia Vineyards, is a third-generation winemaker, having learned the craft from his grandfather, who emigrated from Italy in the early part of the 20th century.   In the 1920s, the elder Ventimiglia, a member of a local Italian-American Club, produced wine for the club throughout the Prohibition era.  With the demise of Prohibition in 1933, Ventimiglia continued to produce wine, albeit legally now, and passed the traditional hand-crafted winemaking methods he learned in Italy down to his grandson, Gene, who after growing up in Patterson, New Jersey, opted to continue the family traditions here on the East Coast.

As for the Ventimiglia Reds, Gene has produced a very interesting collection of California and New Jersey table wines:

Rocky Ridge Red 2006 The Rocky Ridge Red is a bland of eight different grapes, all grown locally in New Jersey.  It is cold-fermented and aged in oak, and like all of the Ventimiglia Reds it is unfined and unfiltered.  The nose is bright and fruity, and in the mouth there are lovely notes of dark berries and stone fruits.  The wine has a slight tartness, which gives it a piquancy.

Chambourcin 2007 A Gold Medal Winner at the 2009 NJ Wine Competition, this is a very interesting wine.  Chambourcin with a slight blend of Syrah, Merlot and a little Sangiovese, this is a medium-bodied wine with a lovely deep ruby color.  The nose is bright and fruity, and the mouth-feel is lovely and full.  Aged for 16 months in French and Hungarian oak, there are notes of dark berries, particularly blackberry, in the mouth, with a light pepper finish.  95% of the grapes are grown locally in New Jersey, making this one of three of Ventimiglia’s New Jersey Reds.

Syrah 2007 The last of Ventimiglia’s New Jersey Reds, the Syrah is made from grapes grown in vineyards directly across the street from Jon Bon Jovi’s house.  Gene has added just a touch of Grenache to the Syrah and the result is a lovely medium-bodied wine with a delicate, fruity nose, a smooth, soft mouth-feel, and light cherry notes on the palate.  The Syrah will pair well with a wide range of food, and will also cellar nicely.

Carignane 2006 This was my first taste of a Carignane wine, as despite it being one of the most planted grapes in France, it is often used for blending rather than as the primary grape.  Medium-bodied with a soft mouth-feel and notes of stone fruits on the palate, it is designed to be a “companion” or table-wine, and is Gene Ventimiglia’s favorite everyday wine.  It shares many of the characteristics of a good European (French or Italian) table wine – interesting and lightly complex, without being overpowering, it will pair well with a wide variety of foods.

Merlot 2006 Made from California grapes, the Merlot has a bright nose with notes of plum and cherry, and a lovely soft fruitiness in the mouth that is balanced by a slightly acidic finish.   A nice wine, but not as interesting as the Syrah, Carignane, Chambourcin or Cabernet Franc.

Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Also made from California grapes, this is a full-bodied wine with a lovely deep garnet color.  The nose is sharp and tangy, and in the mouth the wine is soft with nice notes of plum and a smoky, spicy, slight tobacco finish.  The finish also lingers beautifully, and the wine grows more complex and interesting with each sip.

Cabernet Franc 2006 The afternoon ended with the 2006 Cabernet Franc, one of my favorites of the day.  Aged in French Oak, the wine ages an additional 3 years in the bottle.  Made in the Bordeaux-style,  this is a full-bodied, dry red.  The nose is earthy with a slight mustiness, and in the mouth the wine is rich, full, with notes of grass and berries and a strong earthiness that gives it depth and character.   Very interesting wine.

A smaller winery, tucked in the northwest corner of the State, Ventimiglia is worth a stop.  While I definitely had my favorites from among the selection, none of the wines disappointed.

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Pours For Justice

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Do you believe that local government shouldn’t micromanage how and from where you buy wine?

Are you a resident of the Land of Lincoln?

Have you joined the Illinois Wine Consumer Coalition?  Well, why not? (hint? Click here to join NOW!)

If you haven’t gotten to join us yet, then this is the best time to do so.  We are beginning to ramp back up to fight for our wine rights in Illinois (politicians were somewhat obsessed with some sort of political scandal earlier in the year… you might remember it… something about the Governor and impeachment).  Now that the worst of that issue has been worked out it is time to return to the citizens of Illinois the right to purchase wine from out of state retailers, wine clubs and auction houses that we had prior to the passage of HB 429.

And there is going to be a great event to begin the new campaign…

Pours for Justice will be held August 6, 2009 from 5-7:30 at the Chicago Cultural Center (an architectural jewel that should not be missed).  Wine will be provided by The Chicago Wine Company, music by The Lake Effect.  The Event is being sponsored by The Specialty Wine Retailers Association, The Chicago Wine Company, the Illinois Wine Consumer Coalition and Kirkland & Ellis, LLP.  Tickets are $100.

Tickets may be purchased at http://www.specialtywineretailers.org/donate.html or you can click on the logo below…

I look forward to seeing you there!

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Wine and Dine on Block Island With Amenti del Vino

Marguerite Barrett
Contributing Writer

For the 29th year, Amenti del Vino, a Southern New England regional wine society based in Mystic, Connecticut, is sponsoring wine dinner trips to Block Island.  The 2009 dates are Sunday July 19th, and Sunday August 23rd.

The day begins at the New London Transportation Center, where the group will board the 11:30 am jet ferry boat for the 75-minute trip to Block Island.  First stop of the day is Ballard’s Inn, where the group will dine on Ballard’s famous New England Clambake, which includes steamer clams, clam chowder,  your choice of lobster, steak or baked fish, corn-on-the-cob, sausage & onions, rosemary potatoes and chilled watermelon.

After dinner, participants will have time to explore the island or relax on Ballard’s private oceanside beach.  At the end of the day, Amenti del Vino is hosting a wine tasting event on the ferry as it cruises back to Connecticut below the setting sun over Long Island Sound.  The event is open to the public, and the cost is $110 per person, which includes round trip ferry tickets, the New England Clambake, one bottle of wine per person, and all taxes and gratuities.

Reservations can be made by calling 860-536-0249 M-F 9-5; advance reservations are required and must be made over the phone.

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The Garden State

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Now that Marguerite has begun to explore wineries further afield from her home, I felt that it was only appropriate they they have their own map as well. This map is of New Jersey (sorry, that seems obvious), The Garden State. While it may not seem so garden-y these days that doesn’t change the fact that wine has been made there since colonial times. It is also home to the oldest continuously operating winery in the United States, the Renault Winery that opened in 1864.

Additionally, three American Viticulture Areas cross into the state, the Central Delaware Valley AVA, the Outer Coastal Plain AVA and the Warren Hills AVA. Maps for them will come shortly…

In the mean time, I can’t wait to hear more about Marguerite’s adventures in ‘Jersey!


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I Am NOT a Magnolia, Steel or Otherwise

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

As a person who often speaks in movie quotes this popped into my head recently…

I promise that my personal tragedy will not interfere with my ability to do good hair.

And that made me realize that my “personal tragedy”* has gotten in the way of me being a good blogging friend. I know. Bad Gretchen!

So, I am going to correct my error by telling you about a new website launched by a friend…

VinoBite.com is written by Gretchen Roberts who is (among other things) the wine writer for a perennial favorite of mine, Slashfood.

Each weekday subscribers to VinoBite gets a short note sent to their computer, phone or Facebook account. Each week’s content is organized into themes (related to varietal):

Monday: Wine Find (featured wine)
Tuesday: Hot Dish (matching recipe)
Wednesday: Vinoculture (fun facts and trivia)
Thursday: Go Vino (a photo or travel tidbit)
Friday: Freebie Friday (a giveaway)

Best of all? It is FREE! And how often can you say that in our modern world?

So go sign up at VinoBite and say hi to Gretchen for me (from the OTHER wine writing Gretchen).


* grammar school graduation, summer vacation and some other craziness all hitting in the same week…

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Road Trip! Continued…

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

The next stop on my road trip to the Wine Bloggers Convention will be Wyoming which is home to two wineries…. at least that I can find.

If there are more? Please let me know.

Tweet me at mamandesfilles
email me at gretchen@vinoverve.com

Here is what I have so far:


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