Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Weekend Escapade - Week 42

Thinking we'd view some Fall foliage, Saturday we headed toward Andrews  and Murphy, N.C.  This area is part of the Upper Hiwassee Highlands American Viticultural Area. This AVA of the Southern Appalachian Mountains straddles the North Carolina and North Georgia Mountains around the state line. It is one of the nations newest American Viticultural Area. We have visited several in this area on previous trips, though still a few in North Carolina to partake.

Our first stop was Callaboose Cellars. The winery is located in a 100 year old stone building which was once used as a jailhouse. It's the smallest Winery in the country according to their website. Offering only a few wines, tastings are offered at no charge. Their nearby Vineyard supports over four acres under vine. There is a small porch and a big yard with beautiful mountain views. We took a bottle of the Revinoors Red home with us. This one is extremely unique. Can't wait to get back this way and spend a little more time just hanging out and enjoying the views.


In quest of visiting a few more in the AVA, we then made our way downtown Andrews to visit Ferncrest Winery. Ferncrest has a small off site vineyard which lies on the crest of a hill and thereby harnesses the power of the sun, much like a fern will. This is a true urban winery, perfect for a quick drop in when exploring the town of Andrews and surrounding mountains. We brought a bottle of the Silver medal winning Autumn Rosé, a semi-sweet made from Cynthiana grape, home with us.

We then headed toward Murphy with the intention to visit Valley River Vineyards. Except we found this winery closed. After checking their website, I see they are closed for the season and will reopen in March. I did find this cute plant growing in a wine glass on top of a barrel.

Quick to regroup, we headed towards downtown to Cherokee Cellars. This one is another true urban winery. Glad we made it as the owners informed us they are closing up as of end of October.  We did find several wines we enjoyed and took four bottles home with us. They are pretty much selling everything, so the have a few wine barrels on sale for $150 each.

Sunday we headed up to Overmountain Vineyards in Tryon.  We wanted to try the 2016 vintage of Camelia. Camelia is a very light white blend of Chardonnay and Petit Manseng. It's really crisp with a depth of floral aroma.  We enjoyed a bottle on the patio. It was so nice to speak with so many others enjoying a beautiful Fall day. Sophia was really busy but even so took a few minutes to speak with us. The winery Great Danes, Maximus and Shamus, are always up for some attention.


I made my way down toward the winery, and snapped a few pictures. Fortunate for me, owner and winemaker Frank Lilly approached and we were able to speak for a few minutes. Frank studied wine making in the Sonoma Valley, and he and Sophia are trying to emulate a Sonoma-Like experience at Overmountain Vineyards. From the looks of the crowd, and the taste of the wine, I'd say they are doing a darn good job. 

Upon leaving, we decided to stop by and see our friend Andrey at Russian Chapel Hill Winery as we know the winery is open until 6pm.  We've visited and written about RCHW many times, yet it is always nice to visit. The winery just offers a relaxing spot to have a good glass of wine and reflect on the past weekend. We met this pair of sisters who were just enjoying an outing and we enjoyed talking with them about wine and travel and fun. Oh by the way, check out the gelato which is offered at the winery. 



Another Weekend escapade comes to close. Happy weekend wining!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Weekend Escapade - Week 41

Saturday we started with a quick stop at CityScape Winery in Pelzer, S.C.  We had an alternative motive for the visit, more to come later. We enjoyed a glass of Müller Two-Goats (Müller Thurgau), and chatted with Deb. Pinot the Pig was dressed in his superhero costume and grazing out by the vineyard. We think the world of Josh and Deb and appreciate all the hard work they put into making this small rural South Carolina Winery such a smashing success. 

We then headed towards Newberry as Enoree River Vineyards was hosting their annual Harvest Festival. Along with Enoree River Vineyards, three other South Carolina wineries set up tents and offered wine for tasting and purchase. The first tent showcased our good friends from Old Rock Quarry Winery. The line at their tent was long all day. They mentioned at one point that were really concerned about running out of wine.

Second and third tents showcased wine from host Enoree River Vineyards. We love Richard and Laura and for anyone in the Columbia, Lexington, Irmo, Newberry, or Clinton area it is just a quick drive. The winery offers good wine and a beautiful relaxing place to unwind. Their Sunday pack the porch events are always a fun time.

Proverbs 31 Winery set up in the fourth tent. We have never visited this small boutique Winery, only open by appointment. We enjoyed chatting with them and found they are using local South Carolina grown fruit to produce their craft wines. The Watermelon and the Thanksgiving were especially interesting.

Finally, on the end was Mercer House Estate Winery. First, there's the Bloody Mary wine. Yes, that's not a typo. Guess what, it's actually pretty dang good. They also offer a coffee wine, well that one wasn't too our liking. Nevertheless, every wine offered is fun and unique. The highlight of their offering was the Sagaree 2015 which is billed as the first and oldest wine of America. Located right outside of Lexington, South Carolina, Mercer House is well worth a visit.

Two bands were featured on stage. Opening was the Time Pirates and Alex Davis with his band Passing Worth finished out the day. The weather was good, actually getting a bit warm as the sun shined down bright on the festivities. Several vendors were on-site offering crafts and farm goods. The festival was a big success and seems everyone had a great time. The ladies below were celebrating a birthday and all had matching shirts. I love the people we meet at wineries. Once the festival wound down, we drove to Greenwood and enjoyed wings and beer with an old friend.



Sunday we knew Alex Davis was playing solo at Owls Eye Vineyards so we made the quick drive over to enjoy a bottle and listen.  It is always fun to listen to Alex and we certainly enjoy sitting on the patio at Owl's Eye and enjoying a bottle of their Celebration. Just oh by the way, Owls Eye is running a special during October, 50% off every case of wine.

Another weekend escapade comes to close. Expecting the North Carolina mountain fall foliage to be at peak viewing next weekend, we'll held up into the mountains and find some wineries along the way. Happy Weekend Wining!

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Monday, October 16, 2017

CD Baker 2015 Cab Sauv Aged in Bourbon Barrels

As Jenni will attest, I'm a self confessed Cab Sauv snob. It is generally my opinion, a Cabernet Sauvignon is either good, or it is not. There seems to me absolutely no in-between. Cab Sauv is known to pair well with steak, or beef in general as a full-bodied red, high in tannins and alcohol content. Therefore easy to conclude, if I'm writing a blog about one, it must be a good one.

Baker Buffalo Creek Vineyards, is located in the small rural farming community of Fallston, just outside of Shelby, North Carolina. A few months back we had visited and Charles was so excited about the Cab Sauv aging in bourbon barrels. Charles and Ann brought a few bottles to the North Carolina Wine Month Kickoff event and we were thrilled to sample a little tasting. I was immediately hooked, and couldn't wait to get back by the winery to pick up a bottle to take home.

Aged in bourbon barrels for 4 months, this wine is intensely complex. I would suggest allowing the bottle to breathe, it's full bodied, with color of deep cherry red. The bourbon is robustly noticeable to the nose, with complex aromas of deep caramel and soft notes of vanilla. First taste is rich, dry, & slightly bitter. The caramel tends to linger with bold notes of black cherry along with blackberry fading to a slightly leathery, intense smoky and spicy, peppery finish. Perhaps a bit overwhelming to enjoy without food, this is the quintessential wine to pair a grilled New York Strip, T_Bone, Filet Mignon, or Ribeye. 

I often hear from friends, "I'm just not a wine guy." I always believe that statement at its core is simply a "don't want to" response, but nevertheless, your excuse is shot. The CD Baker 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Aged in Bourbon Barrels fits the bill. This North Carolina Cab Sauv which retails at $24 a bottle is not only good, it's uniquely special. Produced in small batches, each bottle is consistent yet in limited quantity. This Cabernet Sauvignon deserves to be in your wine rack or cellar and should be expected to age extremely well.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Weekend Escapade - Week 40

This past weekend started on Friday when Dennis and I went to Abbeville to go to a play at the Abbeville Opera House and we stayed at the Belmont Inn. Both of these buildings are very quaint and hold a LOT of history. We love staying at the Belmont and can’t wait to return in April to see another play. 

The play we saw was Everybody Loves Opal. If you ever get the chance, go see this play! It is funny, cute and in the end has a sweet message for all ages. The cast was amazing! Maryanne Campbell played the title character and did an amazing job! Bradford Winter was played by D. C. Moody. We had seen both of them in Arsenic and Old Lace over a year ago. I have to wonder if D C likes playing the bad boy. J Sydney Wells played Gloria Gurlock,, Dave DiGeronimo played Solomon Bozo, the Doctor was played by Bruce Johnston and Office Joe Jankie by Taylor McNair. The entire cast was amazing! We also got to chat with most of the cast at Tinkers Alley Bar which is the bar/restaurant at the Belmont. I so appreciate them letting me invade their group for a little bit!
The remainder of the winter season consists of the following plays and I hope I get to see some of the actors from Everybody Loves Opal in JB (the one Dennis have decided to attend in April).
Coney Island Christmas Dec 1,2,8,9,15 & 16
Vanya, Sonia, Masha & Spike Feb 2,3,9 &10 (We’ve seen this show at another venue & it’s great!)
The Wind in the Willows Mar 9, 10, 11, 16 & 17
J.B Apr 6, 7, 8, 13 & 14

We got up Saturday morning, had breakfast at the hotel and then rambled around downtown Abbeville for a bit. We found a fun little moonshine distillery called Red Barn Likker, and can’t wait to go back & get some of the apple spice mixer and his 70 proof moonshine.

We left there and headed for GA. Our first stop was CeNitaVineyard. Very quaint winery with a great story. The winery used to be a dairy farm. They have a lovely red barn in the back for events. There was a wedding Saturday. They were taking pictures while we were there. Beautiful scenery for a wedding. They had literally just finished harvesting the Chambourcin grapes that morning and we got to sample some of the fresh juice. That was a real treat. All the wines were very nice, but the Buckie Estate Wine and the Rouge Estate Wine were my favorites.

We left there and headed to Yonah Mountain Vineyards. The venue is lovely and again, there was a wedding going on in their event space. Other than wedding attendees, the winery was very busy on Saturday. They have 17 acres of vine that consist of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Petit Manseng, Cab Sav, Merlot, Cab Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.

From there we headed to The Cottage Vineyard. Nathan, the son of the owner did our tasting. This 7’ tall man made my 6’3” husband look short! The bear cub on their logo was an actual bear that was on the property at one time. Again, they had several really nice wines, but Dennis & I decided on a bottle of the Baby Doll Legs Rose. We also enjoyed the Southern Sass which is a peach wine and is named for one of the employees that has worked at the winery from the beginning. We sat outside and met some extremely nice people.

Sunday we stayed close to home and went to see Andre at Russian Chapel Hills and enjoyed a bottle of his very nice Mosaic. It was a tad rainy but the porch is covered and wide enough that we got to sit outside and play with the dogs (as usual!). 


NOTE: above blog was actually written by Jenni Turner, only posted by Dennis.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Mountain Brook Vineyards - Tryon, NC

Enjoying a bottle of Rosè while watching numerous hummingbirds floating around multiple feeders. That was a recent afternoon at Mountain Brook Vineyards in Tryon. The octagon shaped tasting room sits at the top of the foothill and offers excellent views of the Vineyards and surrounding mountains.

The original tasting room was back down the gravel entrance road and a good bit smaller. With steady growth, owners Dennis and Miriam Lanahan made the wise decision to relocate the tasting room into the larger former residence on the highest point of the beautiful mountain foothill property. Several hummingbird feeders hang upon the surrounding porch offering sweet nectar to these magnificent creatures. We must have seen ten plus hummingbirds one afternoon.  Horses are also stabled just beside the winery and always enjoy a little attention from the visiting wine lovers.The winery is open Most Thursday's, and every Friday and Saturday. On Thursday evenings the winery host either trivia night or girls night out, check out their website for details.  The winery will often host musical talent on Friday and Saturday. Seven plus acres under vine and only North Carolina grown grapes are used in the formulation of their wines. Wines offered include a Chardonnay,  Pinot Grigio, Petite Verdot, Merlot, Cab Sauv, Magus which is a Bordeaux style red blend, and a true European style semi-dry Rosè.

You'll almost always find Dennis and Miriam in the tasting room. They are both very welcoming and always willing to spend a little time chatting. Dennis offers a charming dry sense of humor. I recently asked him about how he got started. Long story short, once at an extended family gathering he was offered a taste of some homemade wine. His interest piqued, he would spend his free time working and learning at a couple different wineries in Pennsylvania and Virginia. Once he decided the time was right, he and Miriam retired to the North Carolina foothills purchasing the property that is now Mountain Brook. The name derived from the beautiful mountain brook which flows along the foot of the vineyard and can be seen as you ascend up the gravel entrance road. Mountain Brook Vineyard offers a very relaxing atmosphere, beautiful views of nature, and really good wine.

Happy Weekend Wining!
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Finding Common Ground Over A Glass

The differences between our members at our small Episcopal church has me thinking a lot lately. Our small church is extremely active in our ...