The 2019 Journey Plan is Taking Shape…

2018 has been a rockin’ year of wine exploration. I’ve really loved ranging outside my comfort zone and learning and discovering so many new spots along the way. Some I’ve loved and joined the club, and some I’ve decided never to visit again.

In 2019 the journey will continue and will do two things – expand the range, and fill in the holes. I’ve been sticking to some of the main roads on this journey, and have passed by some spots that I really need to check out and explore. I have a not-so-secret goal to get Husband to enjoy some of the best of these spots too — we will see how that goes.  If you know him, you know that will be the true challenge!

Some of those I intend to get to in the next few months:

8 Chains North

Casanel

Chester Gap

Glen Manor

Tarara

Shenandoah Vineyards (Especially when Michael Shaps’ influence digs in, let’s see what he is all about – of course, we’ll see his influence at Greenhill in about a year too!).

Ranging outside the nearby area, I intend to get to some MD wineries too, including:

Big Cork

Black Ankle

Old Westminster

Do you have recommendations for local, or less local wineries that I need to check out? Remember, my preferences are for clean, crisp, dry whites that lean more toward hints of pear and melon and bigger bolder red blends, more in a French style. Wineries that have an emphasis on education and events, where you can interact with the winemakers and owners to get a sense for their goal and direction beat out a basic tasting room experience anytime. Events that include education about the winemaking process or library tastings where you can see and taste the influence of climate and process on the wine over time are also a huge plus.

One of the highly tweeted people I follow on twitter recently tweeted this:

Screen Shot 2018-12-30 at 10.02.59 AM.png

I read and tweeted about the Wine Enthusiast article on how the tasting room is dead early on in the blog’s days, but never wrote much about it. I thought the article raised an interesting point about the direction tasting rooms are going. The old model where you walk up to the bar, taste the wines, pay and maybe buy a bottle to split there, has kind of reached its end point. It’s not a bad way to spend the day, but it’s not really the fun part of the winery experience. Those wineries are probably great for the young folks who are on the party bus going from winery to winery, getting a bottle to share on the bus for the ride between stops, but that’s not the experience I’m really after.  At those wineries, if the wine is really great, maybe you buy a bottle to share and you sit and sip, and hopefully it’s a gorgeous view out.  That makes for a nice day, and maybe you’ll come back to pick up some more good wine in the future, but it’s not how my love affair with a winery begins.  Rather, a model where you learn about the wine, the growing season, how the winemaker/vineyard manager/owner worked to choose the area they grow (or the influence of terroir, as they say), the winemaker process – that is what hooks me.

Events are really where it’s at.  What is so great about a release party is the educational aspect. The opportunity to sit and hear the winemaker discuss the process of making the wine, how the year’s weather impacted the grapes and the harvest and may have impacted the flavors, is really interesting.  When the winemaker digs into process – making a choice about fermentation, barrel, and even weather to use native or commercial yeast – things start to get very interesting.  The same with library tasting events – when you can see the shift in the wine year over year, based on the weather in that growing season, the process the winemaker used, and the aging process through which the wine is going. (I wrote about library tastings at Arterra and Linden recently).

Events that add to the experience can be from simple to involved – a food truck that pairs well (oysters at Two Twisted Posts with their chardonnay!), to barrel tastings, and even going to a bottling experience like one I did a few years ago at Chateau O’Brien with Wine Friend 1. Barrel tasting and bottling events again focus on the educational piece on how the wine is produced and help you understand the subtleties in the wine (I learned a fair bit about bottle shock at the bottling event – and comparing the before and after was fascinating!).

So this is what I’m seeking – to continue to learn about wine (before I finally break down and take some WSET courses) and enjoy really good wine with good people.

Meanwhile, I bought a bottle of Early Mountain’s “Eluvium” which was #93 on the list of the 100 best American wines. It got 95 points from James Suckling. Click the item information link (at the bottom of the link above) for a very cool write-up that describes the weather during that growing season and technical aspects of the grapes and vineyard – cool.  Who wants to come over and help me taste and analyze this? Are you in?

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