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"No thing more excellent nor more valuable than wine was ever granted mankind by God."
Plato, famous Greek Philosopher

Wine in the Winter

Winery Insight Featured Article - January 2004 by Timothy O. Rice


Winter changes the way I think about wine and wineries.


Taste seems to change for me.  Where breezy Spring, sunny Summer and colorful Fall days seem to tilt me towards white wines for casual sipping, Winter makes me reach for lush, dark reds.  That might be the warmth or the light, but somehow a big red seems more appropriate when you are curling up by the fireplace or burrowing into an armchair to read a serious book.  Summer reading on the back deck seems to call for a Pinot Grigio.


The turning of the calendar also tends to mark the end of our winery visits for a while.  That is probably a good thing, because it allows us to use up some of the bottles accumulated along the way, and to open some rack room for the Spring.  But this year I felt pensive, and spent a little time thinking about what a wine nut might want to do while the days are short and the nights long.  The event calendar below shows some of the results of that, and this article shows the rest.


Many wineries, particularly small ones, are closed or on limited hours at this time of year.  I began looking around to see what you could go and do with all those suddenly available weekends.  The first event I stumbled across was the 15th Annual Boston Wine Festival (see calendar below for links to all events mentioned here), running from January 9 to April 9.  This features three or four events a week, so you really have to look at the schedule.  Cost varies considerably, but none of the events would qualify as budget-priced.  Still, I would love to go and there seems to be one blockbuster event after another featuring names like Bonny Doon, Stag's Leap, Penfold's and the intriguing Meritage Madness.  A four hour drive for us, but maybe on the right weekend we'd go.


Down near Knoxville, Tennessee I found the James Beard Celebration Weekend, a very expensive event featuring six celebrity chefs.  Sounds like fabulous food and wine, but unfortunately not in this year's budget.  Out in California, there is the Sonoma Walk-Around Wine and Food Experience at a seemingly reasonable price; air fare gets in the way.  This is run by COPIA: The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts.


Up across the border in Canada, they are having the Niagara Icewine Festival.  I love that area, but then I have never been there in mid-January, either.  Out in California, the Esprit du Vin 2004 event was set, but that is in the area struck by the earthquake, devastating a number of wineries; check before going.  Up in Hartford, the Connecticut PBS station is running "Wine on Ice", a dinner and auction at the Hartford Golf Club.


Those and a few more are listed in our calendar in this issue.  I tend to favor simpler events, though, so I kept on looking.  I found one  perfectly in keeping with my Winter mood: the Soup Weekends at North Mountain Vineyard in Virginia.  Inexpensive, featuring home-made soups to go with their wines.  I can feel that soup warming my bones now, and if I were a couple of hundred miles closer I think you'd see me dropping in for a visit.  One word of warning: they recommend reservations, so I might not be the only one who feels that way.


January also seems to kick off some top-notch wine classes around the country.  The International Sommelier Guild starts classes in many locations around the country.  Check their site if you have an interest.


That brings me back to pondering the Winter, glass of wine in hand.  I wonder if I have any firewood ready to hand ...

 Last modified: August 07, 2007