2nd Annual Blue Ridge Oyster Festival

Press Release!

The Blue Ridge Oyster Festival is very proud that the food, wine and beer all come from Virginia and one of the many ways we celebrate this is to debut two wines from 2 vineyards, from 2 counties. This year, Blenheim Vineyards will debut their House Red at the Oyster Festival and Cardinal Point Vineyards will debut their Chardonnay. This year the festival will be held on April 21st with a rain date of the 22nd.

From Cardinal Point –Nelson County

2011 Chardonnay: Featured Release – clean,round, nice vanilla and cream, but not heavy. Our chardonnay escaped  any ill effects of the 2011 harvest rains. Aged in 100% American oak, mostly fromPennsylvania.

2011 Rockfish Red: 100% Cab Franc, aged for four months in French oak. The steady rains during the 2011 harvest account for its lighter than usual color, but the great ripening weather before the rains account for the great flavor. This wine has great berry fruit aromas and flavors, which have a nice dry and crisp finish. A perfect warm-weather red wine!

From Blenheim Vineyards –Albemarle County

2011 Red Table Wine – Featured release

The latest version of red table wine is fruit forward and packed full of juicy berry flavors.

Butterscotch and caramel notes that come from some barrel aging support the ripe plum and red cherry. 50% aged in French and American oak for 5 months. 352 cases produced. 46% Cabernet Franc, 36% Merlot,18% Cabernet Sauvignon

2011 White Table Wine

A crisp and refreshing warm weather white, perfect for pairing with oysters and picnic fare. 100% stainless steel fermented and aged, 33% Viognier, 66% Chardonnay. 331 cases produced.

2011 Rosé

A delightfully fruity but dry rosé made fromMourvedre, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Extended skin contact helped create a vibrant and flavorful wine that pairs well with a variety of seafood dishes as well as grilled chicken and vegetable dishes. 280 cases produced.

Featured beer will includes:

Devil’s Backbone Brewery

Starr Hill Brewery

ViennaLager StarrPils (German Style Pilsner)

EightPoint IPA NorthernLights (IPA

Reilly’sRed Ale

BelgianCongo Pale Ale

WintergreenWeiss

Blue Ridge Oyster Festival Pairing with Blenheim Vineyards

 Last weekend my husband Bob and I met at Dave MatthewsBlenheim Vineyards with Nick Attaway, VP of Artist Development for Vagrant Records, formerly employed by RED LIGHT MANAGEMENT/ATO RECORDS, ARISTA.  Nick and his partner, Justin Billcheck are coordinating the 2nd Annual Blue Ridge Oyster Festival, along with Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company and Cerberus Productions , benefitting the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The event will be held in Nelson County, VA on the 21st of April, 2012. Looking forward to this since I missed it last year.

Our mission was to select a wine to be released in conjunction with the festival that pairs well with oysters.  Accompanying Nick was his wife, Dominique Attaway, a professional photographer and oenophile.  Nick arranged for us to do a barrel tasting with Blenheims’ winemaker, Kirsty Harmon.

I had visited Blenheim several times without prior notice, but never had the opportunity to meet Kirsty personally. Gracious and serious about her wines, it was apparent that she was determined to bottle wines with a clean crisp quality and not intended to win competitions just because they appealed to the judges. The three that we sampled were a 2011 Table White: 2/3 Viognier and 1/3 Chardonnay, a Rose: a blend of Cabernet, Mourvedre and Merlot all in stainless steel  and a Chardonnay with 25% aged in French, Hungarian and American oak barrels.

The Table White was crisp, vibrant and would pair well with oysters and seafood. The Chardonnay was creamier- nice with a minerality and not overly oaky, and the Rose ideal, chilled for sipping on a warm Spring day. I think it was pretty obvious which wine would be chosen and after some deliberation, it was the Table White.

If you want to see some excellent photography, check out Dominique’s website and some of the shots she captured. We had a similar vision but her pictures were certainly better than mine.

I think Kirsty’s personality came across as sweet, serious and humble, committed to quality and I look forward to her future wines.

I  noticed something that had eluded me on past visits to Blenheim, the diamond reflection from the ceiling of the tasting room floor to the barrel room.

I thought it was kind of cool! Thanks for the invitation to Blenheim!

Growlers

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Growlers are making beer drinking more like wine by storing fresh beer in a quantity intended for sharing.n the late 1800s and early 1900s, fresh beer was transported from  local pubs to the  home by using a galvanized pail. Rumor has it that as the beer sloshed around the pail, it created a rumbling sound as the carbon dioxide seeped through the lid, thus the term “growler”.
Prior to World War II, inner children hauled covered buckets of draft beer from local bars or breweries to workers on lunch break or home to their parents at dinnertime, a practice called “rushing the growler.”  Personally, I find the bottles really interesting and use my Starr Hill growler as a (gasp!) vase!

After a recent comment on the blog, I realized I’m leaving out a whole new generation of micro-breweries and the “Brew Ridge Trail” in Nelson County, VA is an excellent example of this trend.   Blue Mountain Brewery, Devils Backbone Brewing Company, Wild Wolf Brewing Company and Charlottesville’s/Crozet’s own Starr Hill Brewery are a few to not miss in Virginia.
There is a huge following of fans touring breweries on the weekends much like the wineries.  Events are now centered around these spots and eventually we’ll resemble Europe with their pubs and bierhallen. Dogs and children are welcome in Europe and families gather after soccer or rugby matches to relax in the countryside.  The Griffin Inn Free House in Fletching, East Sussex, UK is a model to strive for in our similarly scenic pastoral terrain, plus we have the Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop.
Look for more posts as we “uncork”  beer as well as wine!

Outstanding Fish & Chips
The Griffin Inn Pub in Fletching East Sussex UK

Darden Students Sabering the Wine and Spirits Market

Last Friday I had the opportunity to join the Darden M.B.A. students at a conference organized and offered by the Wine and Cuisine Club. Planting the Seeds of Business presenters were relevant, educational and entertaining.  From the seasoned keynote speaker, Andy Mansinne, President of Aveniu Brands to Jennifer Drapisch of Pernod Ricard, a recent 2010 graduate of Darden, marketing and distribution via the three-tiered system was addressed from all three perspectives.  The three-tier system was set up after the repeal of Prohibition.  The  premise of the system requires  producers to sell only to distributors who then sell to retailers, and then only retailers may sell to consumers.   The wine business seemed to be the most complicated, dealing with regulations changing from state to state.

Incorporating social media (socialnomics) into the sales plan appears to be crucial and now used by 93% of marketers.  You Tube and Facebook lead the way so look for some  fun ads during the Super Bowl.  Jameson 1780 has an excellent program for marketing via Facebook and The Missing Barrel of Jameson.  Fun to play and tag your friends on Facebook. I actually took a break and got hooked by the game, but once I figured out the person who”stole” the barrel, I couldn’t figure out how to enter the answer into the game??  

Barefoot wine has recently gotten the attention of the “millennials” and is taking advantage of the Facebook social phenomenon.  Originally a brand of a couple of nudists, they were bought out by Gallo and retained only a portion of the original name.

We also learned how to “saber” not “savour” a sparkling wine or a Champagne bottle but unfortunately didn’t get a clear photo of it. A great party trick so, in lieu of a photo I have included a You Tube video “How to Saber” so you can impress your friends or your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day.

Notable quotations of the day:

“The way to make a million in the wine business is to start with 5 million.”

“You have to be different…meaningfully different.”
“Wine is very communal.”

“A bottle of wine is intended to be shared-you don’t necessarily share a beer,” (a keg,yes, but not a bottle.)

Good Night Darden and a special thank you to Sara Hester and compadres for an informative, entertaining conference and cocktail party and for inviting me!

Participants included:

Commonwealth Restaurant and Skybar  Richard Averitt, Founder

Devils Backbone Brewing Company

Hayes Humphreys, Chief Operating Officer

E&J Gallo Winery Lee Susen, Marketing Director

General Mills Polly Madsen, Associate Marketing Manager

Pernod Ricard Jennifer Drapisch, Assistant Brand Manager

VinConnect Kevin Sidders, President

Virginia Eagle Distributing Scott Heinz, Chief Operating Officer