Winery Notes: Drink locally

Grapes at Crossing VineyardsMark and I have become cheerleaders for Bucks County wine. And, yes, we DO know what good wine tastes like. In fact, we are a bit picky about what we drink. I know my New World wines quite well, and have been getting to know the Italians much better. But we’d like all of our readers to know more about local wine. So I’ve started a series called Winery Notes, to keep everyone updated – and knowledgeable – about what is going on in our backyard.

There seems to be a bit of snobbery afoot when it comes to local wines. Granted, some of them lean towards the sweet side. But there are also a number of local wineries that are  shooting for a bit more than a good fruit wine, and harvesting grapes we all know and love – Merlot, Cabernet Savignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Viognier (that’s one of my favorite whites, sort of like a Savignon Blanc, grown in California, New Zealand and other places).

Folks who will gladly drink a mediocre wine from California or South America (“It’s a Malbec…and it was only $8.99!”), won’t touch a local wine with a ten-foot pole. But the reality is that some local wineries are working hard to make good wine. With every vintage year, they are learning more about our terroir – that is, what grows well here in the rich Bucks County soil. And some are producing some damn good wine.

We wrote about Crossing Vineyards when we first stopped there for a tasting last Spring. A lot has been going on at Crossing this fall. They celebrated their 6th anniversary of making wine (11 years since planting their first vines). They also brought back several impressive medals from the Sommelier Challenge International Wine Competition in San Diego. On September 26-27, 11 sommeliers from the world’s top restaurants evaluated wines. Of the wines entered, 49 made it to the final round of voting for best of show in five broad categories. Crossing Vineyards’ Merlot 2006 earned a platinum medal in this competition. The Cabernet Franc 2006 scored a gold and the Viognier 2007 earned silver. I will tell you right now from personal experience, all three of these wines deserved it. Drive quickly (but safely) to Crossing Vineyards as soon as possible and buy some.

Olive oil at Sand Castle Winery's Taste StoreAnother exciting development on the Bucks County food scene is the recent opening of Sand Castle Winery’s store in Warrington. Taste is a gourmand’s idea of a delightful afternoon. Mark and I stopped by recently, and we will write more about it in a future post. But, oh my. Sixteen varieties of olive oil from around the world available for sampling. Twelve kinds of balsamic vinegar. Cheeses, chocolates, and other Pennsylvania-made products. And, of course, Sand Castle Winery’s wines, available for tasting and experiencing. The store is right next to PF Chang’s in the Valley Square Shopping Center (also near Wegmans). Stop by to pick up wine for Thanksgiving and gifts for the foodies on your holiday list.

Who says you can’t buy groceries and wine at the same time in Pennsylvania? Stop by None Such Farm Market in Buckingham and pick up some wine from Buckingham Valley Vineyards while you are shopping for dinner. They’ve added a special kiosk just for Buckingham Valley wines. Now this is progress!

Carlow Cookery is offering a class, “Great Wines for Holiday Fare” this Monday, November 23rd, from 7 – 9 pm. Bill Mickel will explain how to match seasonal food with wines that truly complement their flavors. The class includes some great food and wine, so don’t miss it. Carlow Cookery is in the Doylestown Shopping Center on 432 North Main St.

I’ll be doing another post later this week on some good local wine pairings for Thanksgiving, so please check back.

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