We are fortunate that Rizk Zouad provided a Sake tasting in class today. There is so much to be learned. Take a look at this video her recommends.
Whisper Vineyards is located in the heart of Smithtown at 485 Edgewood Avenue Saint James, New York 11780. The Whisper Vineyards are owned and operated by Steve, Laura and Barbara Perrota. I had the honor to meet with one of the owners of these vineyards, Mr. Steve Perrota. I introduced myself as a Hospitality student at NYC College of Technology to him and he was very nice.
Mr. Perrota tells me that the grape varieties grown in his vineyards are: Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Blanc and Pinot Gris. Mr. Perrota said that the last summer 2013 faced a loss of 95% of their Chardonnay and Merlot grape crop. To combat the desecration of their vineyards by birds this year they recently installed about 51,000 feet of protective mesh. This is a new technology which allows the leaves and vines to be exposed while encasing the grapes underneath. With this new procedure, the netting will eliminate the need for the customary use of the agricultural canon to deter the birds from eating the grapes.
I remember the first weeks of our wine class reading about “Clone”, well Mr. Perrota mentioned this too. He said that most of us think of a grape variety as one type of grape that is consistent from vine to vine. But in reality, each type of grape variety has many different “clones” that were derived from the same type of grape vine. He used an example of Merlot saying, existed dozens of merlot clones and each with its own unique personality and characteristics. One merlot vine may produce smaller grapes than another, which might produce a more tannic wine that a vine with larger grapes but they still both merlot grapes. Mr. Perrota said that many New York and Long Island growers plant a mixture of clones, which can help give wine more complex flavors and another example of how the winemaking process starts in the vineyard.
On January of this year, Whisper Vineyards became part of the Long Island Wine Council. Another interesting point was that while I read the label on the back of the bottles, I notice little words “Contains Sulfites”. Patricia Olstad, one of the tasting room personnel explained me that the “Sulfites” is a term for “sulfur dioxide” which is a preservative and widely used in winemaking. The consumption of sulfites is generally harmless she said, unless if you suffer from severe asthma. She explain me that any wine containing more than 10 parts per million of sulfur dioxide must affix to the label “contains sulfites”. Really interesting!
This family create a boutique vineyard store which opened in the late fall ’13. This nice store has a display of all the wines produced on the Whisper Vineyards. They have set up tables where you can enjoy wine with family or friends in a really nice environment. Also, the day that I visited they had live music with guitarist and singer Fred Maloney “The Human iPod”. All the tasting room personal was really nice and attentive.
Patricia show me the wines displayed on the store staring with the 2010 Reserve Red Cape which has 38% of Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Cabernet Franc, 25% of Merlot and 6% of Malbec. This wine smells peppery and blackberries.
The 2008 Red Cape Blend is a medium bodied with a fine tannins wine; it has aromas of blackberries, violet and plums. It’s a blended of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc.
The 2010 Reserve merlot is a medium bodied with smooth tannins; it has aromas of cherries, black fruits, leather and smoky notes.
The 2008 Merlot is a medium bodied wine with soft tannins; it has aromas of cherries, vanilla and smoky notes.
The 2013 Sauvignon Blanc has a beautiful balance and structure with a crisp finish and aromas of grapefruit, lemons, kiwi, and herbs.
The 2011 Starting Rose has a soft and great balance between acidity and red berry notes; it has aromas of roses and strawberry preserve.
The 2013 Riesling has a great balance between acidity and sweetness with aromas of golden apple, citrus and tropical fruits.
The 2012 Pinot Gris has aromas of citrus and white flowers and its flavor of grapefruit and tart flavor.
The 2008 Chardonnay with an elegant finish and citrus and floral aromas make you pallet feel red apples and nuts.
The 2007 Reserve Chardonnay with a rich finish, this wine unoaked and medium bodied has aromas of honeysuckle and orange blossom.
I am really enjoyed this vineyard experience and I am sure that I will remember this unique class the rest of my life. This project makes this class really interesting and different from the other classes I have taken before. I hope anyone who read my project will enjoy as much as I did and if you have the opportunity to visit a winery, do it! Here the links on where you can check it out. http://www.newyorkwines.org and http://www.liwines.com Thank you to Professor Karen Goodlad for this amazing project!!
Now, I’m completely aware that this is probably the umpteenth time you will read about Brotherhood Winery on this blog, but I’ll try my best to keep my fellow wine enthusiasts from being, well, unenthused. (As if one can be unenthusiastic about wine, hah.)
My good friend, Sara and I met at the crack of dawn in hopes that we would arrive to Washingtonville, upstate New York at the latest by noon. After two trains to 42nd street, a bus going to Hoboken, an hour long ride courtesy of Metro North via “Salisbury Mills-Cornwall,” and a 3.8 mile cab ride, we quickly realized that we signed ourselves up for quite the trek. “This would have been an easier journey if we went to JFK and flew directly to France,” we joked while waiting for the train. (In all seriousness, we could have arrived to Paris in six hours. Our trip took seven and a half.) But what could possibly be better than getting to learn about wine-making on good old American soil?
We signed up for both the winery tour and tasting, which came with an option of varietal or traditional flight– the difference being dry and sweet wines. Wanting to maximize our experience to the fullest extent, we chose one of each. $10 a head for both tour and tasting is not bad at all. In fact, this also includes a complementary wine glass which everyone gets to take home and a tasting of up to seven flights. What a package!
Our tour began with Joanne, a lady with a very pleasant disposition and a soothing speaking voice, who just so happened to be the tour guide. Before taking us down to the museum cellar, she introduced the exterior of the winery.
Being America’s oldest winery (est. 1839) means they’ve been through the best of times and the worst of times. In 1999, an electrical fire destroyed portions of the winery including the tasting and sales room to the adjacent Grand Monarque, which has been used as a catering hall. Though Brotherhood’s fortunes suffered for quite a number of years, they’ve managed to rebuild everything using metal and other anti-flammatory materials, in order to avoid another fire.
Joanne mentioned a man named “John Jakes” -to which I later found out was actually Jean Jacques- a French Huguenot who purchased a massive piece of land in the Hudson Valley to grow his own grapes. In 1837, he bought out this space in Washingtonville, thus became the birth of Brotherhood Winery.
By 1839, the cellars were dug and it is currently the oldest operating cellar in the United States. Interestingly, Mr. Jacques also once owned a boot company in this very same space before producing his own wines. You will find boot-making contraptions as part of an exhibit in the cellar.
Brotherhood has been passed down by generations of different ownership. After making wine for 60 years, they sold the property to Jesse and Edward Emerson, who were both New York City wine merchants. It wasn’t until they took over, that this winery was named Brotherhood, all due to a project which they collaborated with an organization called “The Brotherhood of New Life.”
It was 1921 when the Farrells took over Brotherhood; it was also when Prohibition started to take place in the U.S. While most wineries/distilleries at this time were being shut down, the Farrells decided to sell “sacramental wine” for religious ceremonies in order to preserve their daily operations. It was also the Farrells who started the now popular concept of wine tourism, where they began conducting tours down in their cellar to bring attention to their own wines.
Today, Brotherhood is owned by Cesar Baeza, a wine educator, consultant, and a “master of blending.”
Since there are no vineyards in the Washingtonville location, all their grapes are directly brought out from the Finger Lakes AVA and crushed on site here in Brotherhood. This is their “demo vineyard” as a display to demonstrate grape vines during tours.
Down in the cellar are rows of 60 gallon casks, which are mainly made from white American oak. These are no longer in use because of it’s lack of practicality. Yeast would stick to the inner walls during the process of fermentation and it was an incredibly difficult task to clean for second use. Child workers were often forced to go in these casks and clean the walls with sulfur candles, allegedly.
A demonstration of Methode Champenoise / Traditionelle. The bottles are twisted by hand in Brotherhood where they produce various sparkling wines.
An old wine storage.
Down further we go!
At last! This is where they store their wines for aging. Joanne says these barrels are a mix of French and American Oak.
This reads, “Pinot Noir, April 2014, 36 Months.”
This is one out of the several chairs you will randomly find in the cellar. This is to prevent from anyone tripping over these cracks.
3:25 pm and we’ve finally made it to the wine tasting . . .
So, just a quick recap: New York ranks third among wine producing states. Our notable regions include Lake Erie AVA, the Finger Lakes AVA, the Hudson River Region AVA, and the eastern end of the Long Island AVA. While much of our production is dedicated to native American grapes such as Concord grapes, regions along the Hudson and the Finger Lakes are similar in style to German wine-making practices. Riesling is one of New York’s important grapes, along with other varietals such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Our tasting was introduced with a Blancs de Blancs, 100% Chardonnay, N.V. Sparkling Wine. Slightly dry, but soft and well rounded. Very crisp and has a pleasant mouthfeel.
This is a White House selected Riesling, chosen by the Clintons during their administration. Very floral and aromatic with a long clean finish.
“May Wine” is one of Brotherhood’s popular signature wines. A blend of fermented woodruff and strawberries. Traditionally served in Germany as a celebration of spring. It was very straightforward; almost like a liquefied strawberry jam. A little too sweet for my palette, but perhaps those with a sweet-tooth may enjoy this wine.
Aaaand how could I forget the Brotherhood Ruby Port!?! This was my favorite out of everything we tasted. Full bodied and velvety smooth with strong notes of ripe berries.
To conclude the tasting, Joanne personally thanked everyone in the group and guided us to the cashier who wrapped our little gift to take home. It was almost 4:30 pm and we had a long way back to our natural habitat, otherwise known as the concrete jungle. Sure, if we had a choice between closing our eyes and tapping our heels three times vs. riding the Metro North again back to Hoboken, we would choose the easy way back. But how can anyone complain with belly full of good wine and a day full of brand new experiences . . .
As a child I would love going on road trips to Long Island, upstate or even out of state, however, I hated when the adults wanted to randomly stop at a winery or vineyard. It was never any fun for my cousins and I because we did not know what the employees were ever talking about and we could not drink the fun juice, as our parents would call it. As I got older they continued doing this and I eventually came to realize it was not really fun juice but wine that they were purchasing and tasting. My parents no longer go to wineries as often as they used to but I had the opportunity to visit the Brotherhood Winery with seven other classmates.
The Brotherhood Winery is in Upstate New York located at 100 Brotherhood Plaza Dr., Washingtonville, NY 10992, which is about an hour and a half to two-hours drive depending on traffic. In 1810, Jean Jacques purchased land in the Hudson Valley and began planting grapes. By 1839, the first underground cellars were dug and they are the oldest and largest in America. These cellars are still used today at the Brotherhood Winery. Jesse and Edward Emerson changed the name of the winery to Brotherhood when they took control of the establishment. They sold wine for religious purposes throughout Prohibition. In 1921, Louis Farrell purchased Brotherhood and began conducting tours of the winery, which highlighted the expansion of the underground cellars. They hosted party’s ad events at the winery that brought thousands of people yearly. The winery is opened Friday-Sunday from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM January through March and 11:00AM to 5:00PM Sunday to Friday and 11:00AM to 6:00PM on Saturdays from April to December. The tour and tasting pass is $10, the tasting is $7 and the tour is $6.
The drive to the Brotherhood Winery was not to bad. There was very little traffic, clear blue skies and the open road. When we arrived there was a sign that said, “Welcome to Brotherhood, America’s Oldest Winery.” As we pulled into the parking lot I was not sure what to expect since I never paid attention to these tours as a kid. The buildings were made of stone and they seemed like they were from another time. We found signs that led us to where we needed to be to register for the first tour of the morning. The room was filled with wines for purchasing as well as other merchandise. There was also a long abnormal shaped high table. As we each paid for our ticket I decided I might as well do a tasting. The lady informed me there were two types of flights one being the Varietal flight, which featured more dry wines and the other being the traditional flight, which were a little sweeter. Since I have a sweet tooth I went with the sweeter flight.
The tour started promptly at 11:30AM by a woman named Joanne. She took us outside and started by telling us about the Grand Monarque Hall, which is now a banquet facility for private and corporate events. The Brotherhood Winery started with only this building and the first wines were produced there. As we continued to walk through the premises our next stop was outside of a room where the wines were tasted to make sure they are perfectly balanced. A few footsteps later, Joanne explained what we were looking at is a $250,000 machine that is responsible for bottling, sealing and labeling the wines. Due to the cost of this machine not every winery can afford to have one so the Brotherhood Winery uses their machine to bottle, seal and label wines for other wineries. After this, we walked past what looked like shrubs. Had I not known better I would of thought that it was a shrub, however, from studying wine I knew these were baby vines. The vines were planted from oldest to youngest with about six rows. There was Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, a French American hybrid and Sangiovese.
We then continued our tour to a set of steps that led us down into the cellar of the winery. As we trotted ineveryone could feel the sudden change in temperature and atmosphere. The cellars are about fourteen to sixteen feet deep with temperatures around 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit and 80% humidity. There were various objects such as the wire hooder, which hammers the cork into the neck of the champagne bottles or the Agrafe machine, which places the wire cage over the champagne cork and twists it to hold it in place. The cellar smelled like a wet basement and as we continued walking the oak scent became prominent. We arrived at a room filled with large oak casks, then passed by a room filled with “champagne” that is produced by the Brotherhood winery. We then moved to a room with small oak barrels. There is a three to five year turnover for the barrels they use and each one costs $1000. We then exited the cellars and returned to the building we started from.
The fun part came next, two from our group and three people from Minnesota did a tasting. We all chose to do a traditional flight. Traditional flights are for those who prefer sweeter wines. When I was told sweeter I did not anticipate how sweet and different these wines would be from what I tried in class. There were five wines that we tried: 1) Carpe Diem Spumante which is a sparkling wine that was light and pale in color with notes of floral and vanilla 2) Sweet Lolly White which was pale yellow, straw and tasted like candy 3) Sweet Lolly Red was translucent red with no rim variation and also very sweet tasting like candy 4) May Day was a light salmon pink color with light floral notes 5) Was made from with the concord grape and is good for sangria.
I disliked all of the wines we tasted expect for the Carpe Diem Spumante. I was highly disappointed because these tasted nothing like the wines I was accustomed to tasting in
class. I thought the sweeter wines would have been less dry but instead they tasted like candy or over sugared Kool-Aid, which I did not expect. After the tasting was over we were given more information on what grape varieties are tasted for each flight. I would do the varietal flight instead because that includes Blanc de Blanc, chardonnay, and Riesling, merlot and pinot noir.
Now that I had my first real wine tasting experience and tour I have a better understanding of what to look for, what to expect and what to ask for future purposes. This trip was an amazing experience that provided me with real life experience with wine tasting at a vineyard. I look forward to planning a trip to different wineries with my friends and family.
Gruit (alternately grut or gruyt) is an old-fashionedherb mixture used for bittering and flavoring beer, popular before the extensive use of hops. Gruit or grut ale may also refer to the beverage produced using gruit.
Gruit was a combination of herbs, commonly including sweet gale (Myrica gale), mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea), horehound (Marrubium vulgare), and heather (Calluna vulgaris). Gruit varied somewhat, each gruit producer including different herbs to produce unique flavors and effects. Other adjunct herbs included black henbane, juniper berries, ginger, caraway seed,aniseed, nutmeg, cinnamon, and even hops in variable proportions. Some gruit ingredients are now known to have preservative qualities.
In April, I was one of the leaders of my store chosen to attend a workshop in the Gap Inc. San Francisco corporate Headquarters. There I was also given a day off to explore the city. I purchased a ticket through allsanfranciscotours.com where I was able to participate in wine tasting in both Napa and Sonoma Valley. The forecast for the day was 70 degrees but the tour started early in the morning so the heat wasn’t felt until the afternoon.
The first winery we visited was the Madonna Estate Winery (madonnaestate.ewinerysolutions.com).
Madonna Estate is located in Napa in the Los Carneros Region. In class, we studied about the climates of this area. I am a testament to these facts because as we stepped out of the bus I noticed the cooler and foggier conditions of the area. While listening to the host, she mentioned that Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varietals strive in this environment. This has to be true because the Estate Pinot Noir that I had the option of tasting was one of the most fruitful wines and were described as “Strawberry, black cherry, exotic clove with a toasty oak finish.”
When we first arrived, we were able to meet and greet all the guests that were on the tour. I was able to network and made two new friends that were also visiting san Francisco for the first time. They were from Oklahoma. I enjoyed most of my trip with them as they were in my age group. Most of the people on the tour were couples and older guests. When we went inside, we were first brought into the cellar where they kept their barrels. Most of their barrels were made in France and shipped to them. She mentioned that they spent at least $2,500 on each barrel. They use wooden barrels for all their wines, which gave the chardonnay a creamy butterscotch note at the end. This Estate prides itself on organic farming. They hand-pick their grapes, they don’t use pesticides and use only natural rain water to feed their vines (meaning they let the grape stress more to obtain the natural sugars of the grape), making the juice fruitful and more concentrated than grapes that are watered down and get added flavoring other than what nature provides.
The Madonna Estate was by far one of my favorite wineries that I visited. They offered organically grown grapes and great wines. I was fascinated by the fact that they kept their traditions alive and that even a small estate has keep able to keep up with the times as it is four generations old!
The second Winery we were able to visit was Cline Cellars (www.clinecellars.com). While I was there, there was a wedding ceremony taking place, which is why I felt that this place was more commercially there. In this specific winery, we were not directed to the fields, instead, were directed towards the shop inside the cute little white house. I felt no connection there. As the wine director attempted to gain our attention, his voice was lost in the ocean of communication. We went in tasted several wines, took some photos, and were off to the next winery.
Sebastiani (www.sebastiani.com) was the perfect example Volume/Quantity vs. Quality. Large portions of their wines were around $20. They were very affordable. They also used an irrigation system to take care of their soil and vines. They use large machines to pick up and drop off grapes to begin the fermentation process. We were actually able to go inside one of their cellars to see the large tanks in which the grapes go in to produce the wine. Most of what we saw was stainless steel tanks. The hostess here mentioned that a majority of their clients prefer no oakiness in their white wines which is why they keep them in the stainless steel. She also mentioned that the white wines are produced first before the red wines because they continuously use the same machines and they did not want mix in the red grape skins. While we walked towards the back of the shop she showed us some of their eldest vines. She also mentioned how they are able to keep pests away or rather how to detect them early before they attack the vines. There are rose plants planted in front of the vines so that if they attack the roses, the planter can detect it and act fast before the pests attack the vines. She mentioned that the insects are first attracted to the roses which gives them a heads up if there is something on its way. Sebastiani’s winery for me was the most educational part of this whole journey as the host was very knowledgeable. I was able to trace back what she mentioned to what we learned in wine class. Although I only enjoyed their white wines, I felt that this was a top runner overall.
I didn’t know what to expect when I purchased my first wine tour ticket. This assignment ended up being one of the best parts of my trip to San Francisco, California. I was able to see the country, network, and add another trip to my long list of places I want to see. I hope to travel more and in my travels stop by some more wineries.
I also had a chance to accumulate some clips from my journey I will attach the clip here soon.
On Sunday, May 4, my daughter Casey and I visited the Brotherhood Winery located in Washingtonville, NY. The winery/vineyard visit is the final assignment for my Wine and Beverage Management class. It was an extremely exciting and pleasant experience, one that we both agreed to repeat. I chose this winery for two reasons: 1) because it was only a little over an hour’s drive away from the city and 2) according to the marketing information it is America’s Oldest Winery. Therefore, there had to be quite a bit of history which would make this the right place to visit for this project.
For $10 per person, we took the Tour and Tasting, which included 5 tastings either varietals or traditional and a souvenir glass. According to Susan, our tour guide, Brotherhood Winery started in 1839, the original name was Blooming Grove Wines which was changed as to the current name in later years, by John Jacques and his wife, as a family farm with many acres of land. By day he was a shoemaker and she was a homemaker who planted some vines because she was interested in winemaking. The grapes they planted were Concord, Kataba and Isabella. They became successful in creating and selling Sacramental wines for most if not all the churches in Bloomington, NY.
However, as time went on they were forced to sell off most of the land and were eventually forced to sell the winery. Over the years, there were different owners who continued in the winemaking business, and the current owner along with two partners is Cesar Baeza a Chilean national who has studied wine in college and has continued in the winemaking tradition. Brotherhood Winery does not have a Vineyard; in fact, their wine is sourced from the Finger Lakes and Long Island regions of New York State. The grapes from Long Island are Cabernet and Merlot and from the Finger Lakes they are Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. What they do have is about four or five short rows of vines in the front of the property that is used for experiments and study. The Winery has three bottling lines: Sam’s Club, Walmart and Okeechee Jug wines.
From the Wine Process Flow Diagram that was sent to me by Kelly Ong, a wine specialists at Brotherhood Winery, although the grapes are not grown on the premises, once they arrive by truck they are processed as if they were grown on the premises. She also goes on to state that the “Quality Control (QC) analysis which is done in their lab is to test for sugar, alcohol and acidity of all the wines they make, and the grapes are harvested when they are ripe.” Following is the Wine Process Flow Diagram from
The tour lasted about an hour and it took us to the cellars where all the wine production was done before the technological revolution, including the corking and labeling, when most of the processes were done manually. These cellars are at least 18 feet high and are considered the deepest underground cellars in America, according to Susan. Here they stored the large oak barrels made from Minnesota Oak and some smaller ones. They even had a room where their sparkling wine that they called “Champagne,” is stored. Their brand is called Grand Monarch. Since I study wine, I also know that unless Champagne is made in Champagne, France it has to be called Sparkling Wine.
Large Oak Barrels used in Manual Wine Production
Susan, our tour guide was also the individual who conducted the tastings and that was at the end of the tour. She has worked at the Winery for three and a half years. According to her, she is not a wine expert, but she has been taking classes at the Westchester Institute, and she was very knowledgeable. She answered the questions before they were asked. I thought that she was very impressive. There were two styles of wines for tasting, Varietal and Traditional. I chose the traditional which included Riesling, Chardonnay, etc., but the wine I really liked is called Carpe Diem and this is considered a Sparkling Champagne. It is pale yellow in color, with a citrus scent and a taste of Papaya. I have had it with Blue Cheese, Angel Hair Pasta with sautéed vegetables and spicy ribs and it was wonderful with everything.
This really was a worthwhile project and I have learned so much in this class that I was even able to open a bottle of wine (that had a T-stopper) the way we were taught to open it in class and there was no popping sound, just a quiet breeze. I was elated!
Tasting Room with wines for Sale and Tasting Station to the right
My next visit will be to a Vineyard where I will be trying to compare the similarities and differences between a winery and a vineyard – just to see for myself if there are any.
Although this is a required class it turned out to be more than I ever thought.
When faced with the decision as which winery to visit, Brotherhood was the easiest choice. Brotherhood, touted as the oldest American oldest Winery which was established in 1839. Brotherhood is located in the Hudson Valley AVA and is just a hour and a half ride outside of New York City.
On the day that I visited Brotherhood, I went with a friend. It was a beautiful spring day when we embarked on our journey which started at Port Authority in Manhattan where we took a bus to the Town of Monroe where we then took a cab to Washingtonville where the winery is located.
On arrival at the winery, it was peaceful and tranquil. We were wondering around the winery in search of the main office so that we could get some information on where we should go. We were aimlessly walking until we finally found someone who worked there and pointed us in the right direction.
As soon as we entered the main office, someone greeted us and asked if we needed help. We informed her that we were indeed in need of help and asked her where we could participate in a tour of the winery. She helped us with the purchasing of our tickets for the tour of the winery as well as for the tasting. A few minutes later, the tour was underway.
The tour was led by an elderly employee named Franklyn, who said that he was the longest serving employee. As soon as he began speaking, one could tell that he was extremely passionate about his job. He was knowledgeable about the various buildings on the property. He knew about the history behind every faucet and was knowledgeable about the wine as well he was truly happy to share it with us.
At the beginning of the tour of the cellar, one of the first questions I asked was “Are the grapes used in your wines grown on the property?” to this he replied no, the only vines are there for cosmetic purposes only. The grapes used are sourced from vineyard all over New York. So I asked how do you remain competitive? He explained that Wineries from all over the United States transport their finished wine in large containers to Brotherhood to be bottled on their behalf. This arrangement suits both parties as the other wineries save on shipping costs which providing Brotherhood with added revenue. Last year, Brotherhood bottled approximately 4 million bottles. They are projecting to double that amount this year.
When we finally descended the cellar, it was as I expected, dank, dark, and cold and the air was ripe with mildew. The fixtures appear to be old, which added to the charm of the exhibits. Along the walls were pictures and plaques that dated from the beginning of the winery. On display was several equipment that were used in the bottling of the wines over the decades. The tour continued deeper into the cellar where Giant oak barrels are kept.
These barrels are well over seven feet tall and were built in the cellar. These barrels are unique in their design as they are not held together by glue, but by the stem of a plant. This plant prevents the liquid in the barrels from leaking out. These barrels are no longer used in the production of wine, but are left so that it can be a reminder of where the winery was coming from.
The next part of the tour is where they stored their sparkling wines. I immediately was aware of the various steps taking place in front of me. Directly in front of me was the riddling stand. Marcia and I clearly understood what was going on and confidently answered the questions he was throwing out. What stood out most to me was the thick coat of mildew on the bottles. He assured us that these bottles are well cleaned before they are labeled and sold.
The last section of the tour took us to where the wines are being aged. At this point in the tour, Franklyn informed us about the many accolades that their various wines has attained over the years. Most notable is their Riesling which is the only wine that they produce that is on the White House’s wine list.
After we left the cellar, we started on out wine tasting, we had a choice between Traditional wines or New World wines, Marcia and I both decided to try the Traditional wines. The tasting started off with a great sparkling wine called Carpe Diem. This wine was had a lot of residual sugar, which I really love, it was fruit forward with hints of peaches and apricot. The flavors lingered after I finished drinking it.
The rest of the wines we tasted were specialty wines , although they were good wines, in my estimation, they did not quite match up with the first wine Carpe Diem. The next wine we tasted was called Sweet Lolly. Just as the name implies, it was sweet. Its nose was strong with grapes, it was almost over powering. The next wine was the May Wine. This was had a rose appearance and had a nose of strawberries.
The last two wines were all red wines. The first was Rosario this was a nice red wine with a lot of residual sugar. And the last was Ruby Port it was a really a great wine and was a great way to end the tasting.
After the tasting ended I started looking around the store. I came across the Riesling in their famous Cobalt blue bottle. I was immediately taken back to my fist glass of wine that I enjoyed. At the time that I tried it, I did not know who produced it, but I knew it was a Riesling in a blue bottle. I was so excited that I found my first love. I felt accomplished and a feeling of coming full circle.
Torney valley vineyards is located in the Hudson Valley AVA in Hillburn. It is the first full functioning Vineyard in Rockland County. It is located in a estate built in 1875. Through out the years, the estate itself has served many functions until bought by the two brothers Jon and Stephen France, who now own the 15 acre property, about a decade ago. One of the brothers being a landscaper re modeled the land into the beauty that it is today. Beautiful green fields surround the estate with great stone paths and a gorgeous water fountain right out front. The Gothic style estate is intricate in design and its scenery allows it to be a breath taking image, specially on a sunny day, like the one I visited the site on.
When I entered the estate to sign in, I had the pleasure of speaking with both of the wives of the brothers. Kim was able to answer all basic question is regards to their vineyards and winery. However, when the rest of the staff learned about my reasoning and extensive questions, they were also able to chine in and answer which I found fascinating. Every employee there knew extensive information about the winery and how it functions.
When I decided to to visit this vineyard. I did not know that they planted their vines a mere year ago. I was looking to walk through extensive fields of vines, but was welcome with very young vines. However, I was not disappointed. I was able to ask questions revolving around the process of starting a vineyard and their difficulties and troubles they encountered. One of them being as to where to place and plant the grapes. They had tried to jump start their vine growing earlier before, however the deer and other animals had destroyed their plantings. They had to come up with other locations and tactful ideas as to where to pa
The vineyard currently grows four different grape varietals. They are Seyval Blanc(white), Noirte(red), Vidal Blanc(white), and Marquette(red). Honestly speaking, there were grapes that I had yet to encounter or heard about. A per Kim, these grapes were chosen because of their quality to do well in the fairly cool climate that surrounded the region. After my visit I was able to find out the Seyval blanc is actually a hybrid grape. They decided on this grape because of its special ability to ripen early. Vidal blanc is also a hybrid grape and blends of this grape can be fruity and can exhibit notes of pineapple. I was told that this grape has high acidity and sugar potential and its hard outer skin is great for creating ice wine. Noiret, is a very special grape hybrid because it’s aromas differentiate from other of its kind. It has notes of green and black pepper as well as mint aromas. Marquette, hybrid, is a grape that has a very good resistance to the many things that can damage grapes; some being black rot and downy mildew. It can exhibit aromas of cherry and black pepper and supposedly is at a very high demand with very short supply being grown. After hearing about the grapes they decided to grow, I realized that they are all grapes that can greatly benefit the winery due to their abilities to easily grow, cultivate, and manage in the winery.
Grapes are being grown all through out the 15 acres of land. I had asked why they decided to place certain grapes in the hill slants, which were very steep to walk through. They said that it was because of the better sunlight that there grapes were receiving and also because of the way the cold winds travel down the hill, certain grapes that are more tender to the cold are spared the weather.
As far as their vinicultural practices, it was interesting to find out that they actually were very old style in their methods. They do not have heavy machinery that does all the work for them, they do everything by hand. The grapes will be hand picked, they do hand smashing with some type of hand operated device. They did say that they did all their aging by stainless steel and not oak. They will be having a grape smashing event, not sure where; but people will be able to participate in the stomping of the grapes, old style! Their winery is located in the cellar of the estate and some other building somewhere in the land that I was not able to see. I tried to get someone to show me around down there but had no luck. Currently, since they do not have mature enough wines, the vineyard is outsourcing their grapes from the fingerling lakes and Long Island vineyards.
The estate is opened to the public on weekends where they do wine tastings, serve a simple lunch, and have a live singer town singer. The wine tasting was 5 wines for $6 dollars. They was a very knowledgeable individual, sister of one of the brother, providing stories of the state as well as knowledge on the different wines that were being tasted. The wine options were as follows.
Sweet Summer time(white-semi sweet)- This is one of their signature wines. It is a blend of cayuga, vidal blanc, and vignoles. I was able to get some very fruity notes from the wine with a bit of citrus
Kimmie’s Crush(red-semi dry)- their second very popular signature wine. This wine is a classic Bordeaux style. It is a blend of cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. It exhibited flavors of plum, blueberries, warm spice, and vanilla.
Riesling- It was very crisp and had very subtle notes of maybe apple and honey. She stated peach, however I was not able to pick that up.
Seyval Blanc- She said that it is sometimes called the”east coast chardonnay. It is a hybrid grape that grows wells in climates where there is a very short growing season. It is a very popular summertime wine its clean and crisp taste allows this wine to probably go great with light salads or shellfish.
Cabernet Franc- I was able to pick up some raspberry and violet notes. The sister stated that it is a much sweeter wine that its cousin cabernet souvignon, and it is a more mellow alternative which can go great with pasta with red sauces and beef.
What I found very interesting was that there were actually tenants living in the estate and in different houses through out the acres of land! It is such a beautiful view to wake up to in the morning. I had a great time at the vineyard and hopefully I get to visit them when they have matured vines! The staff is all very friendly and I enjoyed the live singer singing “hey there delilah!”