RSS Feed

Tag Archives: VA wine

Sixty Five Years Young

Yesterday. My better half’s very significant birthday. Normally, I cook. We open a special bottle of wine and have a leisurely dinner at home.

This year, we celebrated in a bigger way. With a dinner at Bistro Blanc.

fandf and bday 013

Paired with wines from our cellar, and a few from our friend, Raj Kathuria, who has always made Bistro Blanc a favorite place for us to dine. We had friends from radio, and friends from wine dinners join us. “Marrying” his two favorite hobbies.

Chef Diego met with me last week to put together a menu. Using many local items. Very small plates. Paced so we could talk and laugh and enjoy the company. I only took the phone out to record the very last course. The small treats finishing the meal.

FullSizeRender_1

Peanut butter and vanilla macarons, and bourbon toffee bonbons. The dessert courses were accompanied by one of our very old bottles of vintage port.

fandf and bday 015

From the year we were married. Bought decades ago at Wells Liquor in Baltimore, from the liquidation of the wine cellar of the Brentwood Inn. On very special occasions like anniversaries and birthdays, we have opened four of the six bottles we splurged on in the early 1980s. Back when we started putting wines under the steps in our town house basement. Most of what is here now is local. Good stuff from Linden, Black Ankle, RdV, Glen Manor, Barboursville and more.

This was the first time I ever put together a private dinner party. Bistro Blanc did an incredible job. We used the private dining area that holds up to sixteen people. We have been in that room a number of times for their wine dinners.

Thanks to all our friends for the pleasure of their company and for the thoughtful gifts and cards given to my husband. It was a memorable birthday in so many ways. Now, he just has to finish signing up for Medicare. Does that make us officially “old”?

The Thanksgiving Wine Decisions

From the local perspective.

I always try to serve local wines with our Thanksgiving meal. Since I go to the trouble of getting a local fresh turkey, and I have local organic CSA vegetables around here, I like to make the whole meal local. Sort of like those original Pilgrim meals. Food from near where you live.

I will be picking up my turkey at Maple Lawn this year. Why? I don’t know. Maybe I feel like being part of that tradition, or really, just maybe I want to get a few other items to put into the freezer for later this winter.

As for the wine selection, I am slightly changing my candidates this year.

tgiving wine 008

I am leaning towards serving the Ankida Ridge Pinot Noir. We have yet to make it down south of Charlottesville to visit this winery, but we have bought their wines at Early Mountain, north of Charlottesville. I will probably take the Linden to my brother’s house, as it is light and refreshing.

I considered that dry Petit Manseng.

For red wine drinkers, the Big Cork reds aren’t that heavy yet, as they still have younger vines. Their Cabernet Franc is light enough to match with turkey.

Big Cork is a Maryland winery. Another good local Maryland winery to pick from, is Old Westminster.

old westminster

They are one of the closest wineries to our home. They make some lovely wines, like their white blends. You can buy them at the Wine Bin in Ellicott City.

No matter what you choose, pick one or two local wines to serve. Make it a real Maryland Thanksgiving.

Scapes Season

Posted on

It has arrived. Garlic scape season.

beef stir fry 010

That first bunch of scapes in the CSA box from Lancaster Farm Fresh. Time to head over to the recipe page and start browsing.

It was a great transition box this week.

csa june9 010

Strawberries and rhubarb in the fruit share. Spring onions. Baby fennel. Greens. Beets. Cilantro and mint.

The meat share.

csa june9 004

Beef stir fry. Pork links. Boneless pork chops.

Tonight I was just in the mood for a stir fry. Using quite a bit of the box, and one of those precious scapes.

beef stir fry 015

Scapes, scallions and chard stems. In the wok with some light olive oil and toasted sesame oil. Fresh ginger.

beef stir fry 023

Add beef, soy sauce, straw mushrooms and curly kale.

beef stir fry 027

Served over brown rice. With a very lovely Linden Rose.

Get yourself to the local farmers markets and see if Love Dove Farms has their usual supply of scapes. So many ways to make them. Not just in pesto.

A short season, but a flavorful one.

Words of Wisdom

Posted on

Sometimes it’s the simplest advice that means the most. Like how gardening can be the trial run for someone who wants to open a winery.

IMG_1860

We were sitting on the deck at our favorite winery, Linden, looking at the incredibly scenic view while enjoying a glass, some cheese and a baguette. When we first arrived, we watched the owner/winemaker Jim Law head off on his zero turn to cut some of the paths through the vineyards. He has always maintained that he is a farmer first and foremost. Growing grapes.

Of course, from those grapes comes great wine. He is a master. One we have known for 25 years now. He always stops by to talk if we are visiting. We like to talk about his old wines. Like the 2005 Cabernet Franc we opened for dinner last week.

He and I like to talk about growing stuff. Me, my garden. Him, his grapes.

He made a comment Saturday about what he tells those who think it would be great to start a vineyard. He asks if they garden. For those of us who do, we understand. Gardening is hard. We have pests. The weather drives us nuts. The weeds. The bugs. The heat and humidity. Lack of rain. Too much rain.

If you have gardened, you get it.

Growing things isn’t always easy. Making great wine, like Jim does, takes that extra effort of understanding your climate and living with it.

His vineyards look awesome right now.

linden and random shots 038

He gave me great advice once for my gardening. I grow heirloom tomatoes. He told me. If it rains too much, don’t weed. Let the weeds soak up all that extra moisture that would otherwise water down your tomatoes.

If there’s a drought, definitely weed like mad. The secret to a great heirloom tomato is very similar to the secret to great wine. Concentrated flavors, not watered down, make the taste.

Here’s to making the best we can. And to great friends. And great wine.

The 4F Club

Posted on

Friends. Farms. Families. Foraging. The theme for today’s post. Much of today centered around these words. Like foraging.

friends farms family forage 012

Those wild asparagus that live out by my driveway. I harvested five of them so far this week. Just enough to add to dinner. Which began from my Friends and Farms basket.

extreme weather and csa apr28 035

There was a very nice brisket in the basket. As well as some Baby Bella mushrooms. Both showed up in dinner. We did slow cook the brisket on Thursday, but the leftovers became dinner tonight.

As for families. Part of the dinner came from Jennys. Subject of yesterday’s post. New red potatoes. Snap peas.

Part of dinner came from my garden.

friends farms family forage 003

The first spring onions.

friends farms family forage 049

A little sauté. Then an addition of sour cream. The leftover brisket.

friends farms family forage 054

All served with a Friends and Family wine from RdV Vineyards.

friends farms family forage 055

You could call it Beef Stroganoff from another mother. Since it really didn’t follow any Stroganoff recipe.

friends farms family forage 071

It still tasted great, even without the pedigree.

Loving these days with all the markets, farms and my garden kicking into high gear.

A Touch of Whimsy …

Posted on

… surrounded by attention to detail, and the hills of the Maryland mountains. Big Cork Winery opened their tasting room yesterday the 31st of January.

On Main Street in Rohrersville, located in Washington County MD. About halfway between Frederick MD and Harper’s Ferry WV.

We headed there yesterday morning to see the new facility. I have poured wine for Big Cork at the Wine in the Woods, and we have been loving their Chardonnay for the past few years.

The winery is gorgeous. Big, bright with tons of outdoor space (for when it isn’t 20 degrees out there). The landscaping will be done in the spring. In the meantime, the indoor spaces are bright, inviting and carry that touch of whimsy in their art work, chandeliers and décor. Like the wall of “roses”.

big cork 020

This is in the area where you can sit and enjoy a nice food pairing for wines purchased by the glass or bottle.

big cork 014

We sat there after doing a tasting at the bar, and shared some flatbread and bruschetta while sipping the newest Chardonnay.

The bar was hopping.

big cork 011

We ran into many friends there. Bruce and Sylvia came up for the celebration. They worked with Dave Collins, the winemaker, when he made wine at Breaux Vineyards in VA.

big cork 004

We had a chance to chat with Dave, as he seemed to be everywhere, greeting those who are happy to see the new winery up and running.

big cork 007

Currently, Big Cork makes eleven wines. The whites, all grown on the property. The reds. Not ready yet, so the current releases were made from bought grapes.

big cork 008

This year’s Cabernet Franc was my favorite red. The Chardonnay, our favorite white. Although I was impressed with the Sauvignon Blanc, which has potential.

We will be stopping here often on day trips. They are also conveniently located south of Middletown, just a hop, skip and jump from South Mountain Creamery. Where we find that awesome ice cream.

big cork 036

That terrace will be a popular spot when the weather warms up.

The Dark Days

The time of year when the sun is in the opposite hemisphere, and our daylight hours get shorter and shorter. On December 21st, we here in Howard County only get 9 1/2 hours of daylight. Then, thankfully, the days get longer after that day.

A few years back, I did a food challenge. Called the Dark Days Challenge. The challenge, simply, was to make a meal once a week in the winter that used almost completely regional, seasonal items, and/or items you preserved from the summer.

I found out we had lots of sources here in Central Maryland. I didn’t have to eat food flown halfway across the country or halfway around the world. I learned about the Silver Spring, Takoma Park, and DuPont circle year round markets. I found farmers in the area where I could procure local meats.

I found a year round CSA. Bottom line. I changed how I ate. I changed how I cooked. I reduced my carbon footprint by using more and more local foods.

Last night, I made dinner. Afterwards, I realized how that dinner would have rocked the Dark Days Challenge. Almost all of it was local. And I didn’t even work hard to do it. I had just changed my food sources over the years.

lamb dinner 044

My lamb stew dinner. Using Mt. Airy Meats lamb. CSA potatoes, turnips, onions and carrots. Friends and Farms kale, garlic and rosemary. Trickling Springs butter. Secolari’s olive oil and balsamic. Wayne Nell’s bacon ends.

And the wine.

lamb dinner 014

A 1999 Linden Glen Manor from Virginia. Like inhaling cherries. Dark, delicious. Nowhere near its peak. A bargain back when we bought it. A treasure to be savored with the lamb.

My husband declared I now make a braised lamb stew that rivals those that Marc Dixon used to make at Iron Bridge. Falling off the bone lamb. Simply cooked in the oven at slow cooker setting, with the potatoes, turnips, carrots and onions in a chicken stock I made last month.

lamb dinner 001

Yes, I know I need to clean the oven. Ignore that. I did the stew in one pan. Seared it first, added the vegetables and stock and cooked it for four hours at the 250 degree setting in the oven.

lamb dinner 003

The kale. Started out with scallions from Laurel Amish Market. Olive oil. Bacon ends. Added the kale and garlic. Sautéed until wilted.

So easy to eat fresh food around here.

The Linden Library Tastings

Posted on

2014 edition.

library tasting and tree selection 033

This is the aftermath. This year we tasted cabernets and Hardscrabble blends.

What is a library tasting? Every year, Linden has two Sundays reserved to taste older wines. And, to hear the stories while asking questions of the owner/winemaker Jim Law. As a locavore/locapour I love Linden. For their dedication to serving local foods in their winery. For their passion that Virginia can be one amazing place to grow grapes and make wines similar to those found in Bordeaux.

library tasting and tree selection 032

These were the wines poured. A 1989 and a 1991 cabernet. A reserve 1997, which was mostly cabernet franc. 2001, 2006 and 2009 Hardscrabble blends. All from the vines on the property. Plus, a 2013 barrel sample. Oh, and before we entered the tasting room, out in the main area, we sampled the current release of the 2010 Hardscrabble.

My favorites. The 1997 Reserve and the 2009 Hardscrabble. Library tastings let you see how the wine matures. If you should open those bottles in your cellar.

The 1989 was going downhill fast. This wine was older than the year of our first visit to Linden. Our oldest wine was 1990. Long gone from the cellar. So is our 1991 vintage. We drank the last one in 2006. Happy to say that this wine still has life in it.

We learn quite a bit at these tastings. New things for me. Green rock versus granite and what that means for white and red grapes. More about extraction, with anecdotes about the sharing of the winery with RdV’s French consultant. Vine placement, east-west or north-south. Which is better? Pruning timing. When is best to prune?

Jim spends 90 minutes for these tastings. Sharing stories. Answering questions. Reflecting on growing grapes in Virginia.

The library tastings sell out in one day. Only four tastings. 9 people maximum each tasting. Three dozen lucky case club members get to taste magnificent wines and increase our knowledge.

If you ever get the chance to do a vertical tasting, a library tasting or a reserve tasting at a local winery, you should do it.

Sunday Drives

Posted on

It’s the height of leaf peeping season here in Central Maryland. That cool couple of nights really made a difference in the depth of the colors. Sunday drives will be rewarded with stunning views like these.

larriland and more like sunset 035

This was Larriland, but today I want to recommend heading farther afield. So to speak. Like to Sugarloaf Mountain, to visit the winery, maybe hike a few of the trails and check out the artisans in the Dickerson area.

Wineries have tremendous views in the fall, when the vines turn color to match the scenery.

DSCN0300

Some grape leaves on the vines turn red. Others yellow or orange.

If you want other close options that include time spent driving on back roads filled with color. Consider Black Ankle, just out Liberty Road. Or maybe Breaux just south of Harpers Ferry. Breaux now sits on a road with at least a half dozen other wineries. We haven’t tried any of them yet, except for Notaviva. We may have to plan a trip soon. Besides, Harpers Ferry alone is worth the drive.

If you want a new place to find pumpkins and apples, check out Baughers in Westminster.

westminster 035

Besides the farm, just west of the city off of Rte. 140, the restaurant near McDaniels College has some of the best ice cream, and lots more at the farm stand.

This is also the last weekend for the Fall Festival at Gaver Farm, outside of Mt. Airy.

Any of these local farms have their final weekend events, too. Like Larriland for their straw maze for the little ones, Sharps, Mullinix, for those maze enthusiasts and apple/pumpkin pickers.

Who needs to drive all the way to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, when there are all sorts of events in Howard, Carroll and Frederick Counties.

Before autumn leaves us, it’s a great weekend to enjoy the local colors. All of them.

autumn in the meadow milkweed 084

Rocks Beneath Our Feet

Posted on

Literally.

rdv 005

You know what they say about vines struggling, and producing great wines? This is the epitome of that quote. The land under RdV vineyards. Before they built the winery.

rdv 016

The caves are under the left wing of the building. The rooms with the vats and barrels, are to the right. The building itself, a work of art and architecture.

Rutger de Vink, a former Marine (pictured above on the left) wanted to show that Virginia can make world class wines. The kind that rivals Bordeaux. He now has close to 900 people who buy his wines on a subscription basis yearly. Because they are that good.

Release party for the 2011’s was yesterday. A beautiful day. We had great wine. And, goodies from some local food trucks.

rdv 018

Crab and lobster salads. Awesome BBQ. Burritos made from scratch. All served up with Friends and Families.

rdv 027

The quote does sum up how we feel about this small ambitious winery in the Shenandoah foothills. Thanks to Rutger and his team for giving us a little taste of Napa and Sonoma in our backyard.

Wines to save for anniversaries. And birthdays. Wines to put Virginia on the international map. This locavore/locapour loves them.