President’s Column October 2017

by Averill Shepps—

Those of you who frequent the Lemoyne Fine Wine and Spirits Store get Kirt’s weekly email telling you what wines will be tasted on Friday and Saturday (I call it “the pub” because it has that same feel. You meet your friends there). This week he has sent a link to information and statistics relating to the US Wine Industry in 2016 that I found very interesting. Most important is that revenues for US wine sales estimated at $39.8 billion, show a 5% increase. Total US Wine Sales Revenue including imports is estimated at $60 billion. The number of US wineries in 2017 = 9019, up 4% from 2016. The 5 largest states by number of wineries: California – 4202; Washington = 747; Oregon = 713; New York = 385; Texas = 287.

Consumer information reveals that 120 million or approximately 36%, drink wine. 57% are female and 43% are male. (You go, girls!). 38% drink wine weekly (No comment there..). The largest wine consuming generations are Millennials and Baby Boomers. The 5 most popular wine varietals are: 1) Chardonnay; 2) Cabernet Sauvignon; 3) Red Varietals; 4) Pinot Grigio; 5) Pinot Noir. Some hot varietals and trends for 2017: Sparkling Wines are continuing to show double digit growth. Consumers are expected to crave more bubbles in 2017. (I intend to do my part). Rose is still all the rage. (We will have a tasting featuring them next Spring). Sauvignon Blanc, especially from New Zealand, shows strong increases. Finally, it is expected that consumers will continue to trade up to more expensive wines. That is where PWS is important to you. We feature fine wines at our tastings so that consumers can learn what they like, and buy, knowing they will enjoy their wine purchase.

Our Wine Tour of Tuscany by Scott Casper

Some of our favorite wines come from Tuscany so we wanted to take a wine tour of the region. The appellations we visited were: Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Chianti Classico. The appellation we looked forward to visiting is one of the most prestigious in the world, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. Of the wineries we visited in the Brunello zone, our favorites were Altesino and Val di Suga.

We wanted to visit Altesino because we drank more of their Brunello than any other and really liked it. Altesino has a good working relationship with the PLCB that over the years has benefited the winery and Pennsylvania wine consumers. The winery staff was pleased to hear that we were from PA. We had their 2012 Brunello that was very good AND it is currently available in the state system. But the “show stopper” at the tasting was their Montesoli, their single vineyard, estate flagship wine. That was excellent! It should be. It costs over $100 a bottle!

Val di Suga produces three single vineyard, estate Brunellos. Each vineyard has a very different type of soil; therefore, the three Brunellos taste and smell completely different. That made for a very special tasting. I particularly looked forward to this winery visit because I have a 1999 Spuntali Vineyard Brunello. The Spuntali soil is very interesting because it’s ocean floor with lots of seashells. It’s not something you would expect in southcentral Tuscany but the ocean receded from this area millions of years ago.

The gracious and knowledgeable woman who conducted the cellar tour and tasting was astounded that I had a Spuntali from 1999. She asked, “where did you ever find it?” I told her I found it in a “magical place” called the West Shore Plaza Wine and Spirits Store in Lemoyne, Pennsylvania back in 2007. I said, “They even had a special name for it. They called it a Chairman’s Selection.”

The first appellation we went to in Tuscany was Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG. The famous winery Poliziano was our first stop. The winery secured a reputation for consistently producing fine wines for many years. After the cellar tour, we went to their modern tasting room where the winery manager conducted the tasting. We had five of their wines. All of their wines were spectacular! Our next stop in the appellation was at Gattevecchi. Instead of having their wines in a tasting room, we had them with lunch on their small outside deck high up in the mountains. We had four of their wines with as many courses and they were all perfect pairings. The view, the wines and the food were “trifecta” winners!

The last appellation we visited in Tuscany was Chianti Classico DOCG. The Classico region is different from Chianti DOCG. Chianti Classico produces the best wines overall compared to Chianti, Chianti Rufina or Colli Senesi. You can easily identify the Classico wines with the symbol of their DOCG, a black rooster, on the upper label of every bottle produced there. We went to five wineries in the Chianti Classico zone. Our favorite was Vecchie Terre di Montefili. This is a small production winery that makes fine artisan wines. It was formerly a monastery high up in the mountains. The monks planted the vineyards and started to make the first wines here. They later sold the estate and it became a commercial winery.

Vecchie Terre di Montefili is a beautiful place. The views were breathtaking due to its elevation. It has two ponds among its vineyards with tall, full shade trees at the winery building. Both the winery and house had abundant plantings of beautiful flowers in full bloom. We had five wines including a thirteen-year old Super Tuscan. They were all stellar. Tuscany is remarkably scenic and the wines of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino (see last month’s newsletter) and Chianti Classico are among the best in Italy and the world!

President’s Column September 2017

by Averill Shepps—

The PWS Board met in July for its annual planning meeting. We have found that taking time away from monthly meetings to reflect on our purpose and direction and then framing a schedule of events for the year is very constructive. Staying on after the meeting to share wine and food helped to bond the group as well. We want to continue to offer you events at different levels of wine experience; from entry level for those starting out on their wine journey, to events that will appeal to the more experienced.

We also affirmed our goal of having some events that are more social in nature so that members can get to know each other in an informal setting. We want to offer you a variety of speakers and presenters, striving to make the tastings educational and entertaining.

Some of the subjects we hope to cover in 2018: South African wines (they continue to improve and be more available); New Zealand wines (increasingly popular); Alsace wines (a seldom covered area yet one with extraordinary wines); Wines from Italy (always popular).

Exploring the subject of grape variety, we want to offer you tastings on Cabernet Franc (no longer just a blending grape); Chardonnay (one of the most widely grown grapes in the world); Rose (more and more popular) and High-End Burgundy (no further explanation needed). We would also like to offer you a Vertical tasting (though this presents unique problems because of the PA wine laws); a social event at Waltz Winery; a presentation of Blair wines (Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir!); and never forget that in January we will have the 16th year of PA Wine Excellence. Happy 2018 everyone!!

President’s Column August 2017

by Averill Shepps___

A subject I could barely touch on when presenting the Beaujolais tasting last month was the amazing life and contribution of Georges DuBoeuf. He was born in 1933 into a peasant family who did subsistence farming to survive in a village near Pouilly Fuisse in the Maconnais region. His father died when he was very young and he was raised by his uncle and older brother. When 16 years old, he got on his bicycle with a few bottles of wine and took them to a nearby restaurant to sell them. The restaurants were pleased with the wines and continued to buy. He gradually built up a clientele but was careful to handle the best wines from the best producers he could find, knowing that the restaurants would then depend on him for quality He bought an old van, and even fitted it with a bottling machine so that he could bottle wine for the farmer/winemakers who could not afford to buy their own equipment. Gradually his business grew and grew as he provided a way for all the small producers to market their wines. At the same time the whole area was benefitting from the influx of cash. Subsistence farming evolved into a healthy economy. Is it any surprise that Georges is now known as the “King of Beaujolais” or “Ambassador for Beaujolais. There are a couple of books that I can recommend, “Man on a Bicycle”, the best known and which I have not read but will, and “I’ll Drink to That”, by Rudolph Chelminsky, which I have read and from which I learned a great deal, especially of how DuBoeuf, with a very humble but hard-working start to life, was able to accomplish so much not only for himself, but for the whole area from which he came.

President’s Column July 2017

by Averill Shepps


Once a year the PWS Board gets together for a planning meeting where we discuss the goals of the Society and look at possible events to be held in the coming year. Our meeting this year, hosted by Cathy Boyd, will be held July 8th.  If you have any ideas for tastings that you would like us to consider, please contact me or any Board member before that date.

Another Board announcement, we accepted the resignations of Marc Perrone and Natalie Scavo, and have appointed Brett Kern to complete Natalie’s Director term.

One of the joys of working on the PWS Board is being able to plan and host events. Some are planned by the speaker, often a representative for a winery or an importer, or someone from another part of the wine business. Other events we do ourselves, researching the subject, selecting the wines, making arrangements with the Hilton, preparing a budget, writing Newsletter articles, and presenting finally the wines at the event. What I enjoy most is the research, and I’m not only talking about trying the wines with wine-loving friends to decide which should be presented, but also reading about the grapes, the wineries, the area, and of course the terroir.

I study in depth about a wine that I already enjoy and plan how best to present it to you, so that you can share my passion. I try to order the tasting so that you leave having gained valuable knowledge. I am doing all of that planning and thinking about the Beaujolais tasting coming up in June. One of the greatest benefits is that I learn more about the subject, in this case the Gamay grape, about the wines and how they have improved in quality, and even about the area they come from. I read that it is one of the most delightful to visit because it is so picturesque – rounded hills, quiet roads, small towns and villages, and not overrun with tourists. It is on my bucket list.


Healthy BYOB

by Lynne Beeson


Mellow Minded Café – Living, Loving, Local  at 5943 Linglestown Road, Harrisburg, PA 17112  717-412-7120

Hours: M-Tu 11-4; W-Th  11-8; F-Sa 9 -9; Su 9-3


This is our frequent go-to when we want to avoid the Friday interstate traffic snarls, and still want a good meal!   This place is family friendly, reasonably priced, and the best we’ve found among local ‘vegetarian-or-not’ places.   It’s casual, with counter walk-up service, but food is brought piping hot to your table when ready…so you can order, then sit back, pop a cork, and settle in a bit and chat before your food arrives.

Great care is taken with allergens, food restrictions, and preferences – including gluten free, dairy free, and vegan notations on the menus – the people behind the counter know what’s in each recipe, or will check with the chef if they don’t.  There’s something for everyone from small plates (prosciutto wrapped asparagus with balsamic) to large plates (fajitas your way) and from salads (add fish, shellfish or steak) to smoothies (from a fruit cornucopia – whatever you wish), But on to the fabulous FRESH food we enjoyed last visit, and the local wines we paired!

This visit, our dining trio started with the tomato bisque, which is gluten free, thick yet creamy, and oh so good. We paired soup with Allegro Brut Rosé.   Moving on to entrees, we sampled the crab cake dinner – one humongous lump crab cake on creamy parmesan risotto with grilled asparagus; the specially marinated, then BBQ tofu sandwich on brioche with very fresh, organic mixed greens on the side; and “the burger” (no roll this time to really savor the burger) made with locally raised, grass fed beef, topped with garlic aioli, lettuce and tomato also with a side of lightly dressed organic greens. With these we paired Allegro 2014 Skin Chardonnay, and the awesome, drinking-at-its-best right now, Allegro 2002 Reserve Merlot – every weekend should start this way!   You must check out this place.   Mellow Minded also serves breakfast – we keep planning to do that – it just hasn’t yet happened – but it will as we keep coming back and have yet to be disappointed.

President’s Column June 2017

by Averill Shepps

Your Board has been working for several months now on reaching out to potential new members. As administrative costs for the Society have increased, we need to have a healthy membership to support them. I have written before of our publicity efforts for Pa Wine Excellence, which included the article in The Burg and and coverage by WGAL-TV. We have also partnered with Pinnacle Health on a couple of their events to increase awareness of our favorite organization. One of our members, Jackie Cherrybon, has arranged for us to have a booth at two events at Fort Hunter, The Dauphin County   Music and Jazz Fest on June 10 and 11, and the Dauphin County Blues and Jazz Fest September 8, 9 and 10. To advertise who we are at such events, Dave Williams has had a colorful banner made complete with our joyous grapes logo. We can also use the banner at our monthly events.

We have increased our exposure on the web by appointing Jacy Hammacher to oversee our social media. We have been on Facebook, but have added Twitter and Instagram. As you already know, you can now sign up for tastings on our website. About a third of our members already do so, and that number will only increase going forward. Pennywise dinosaurs (I am one of them) still can send checks via snail mail. There is a slight cost to the Society when the website sign-up via PayPal is used.

Another bit of business which some of you may not know, when you park at the Hilton for PWS events the fee is $2.50. If you take your parking ticket to the former gift shop at the end of the hall coming from the garage (or, if it is not open, to the front desk) and tell them you are attending the PWS event, and pay the $2.50, they will give you a ticket for use to trigger the gate allowing you to leave the garage after the event.


Sonoma – Our First Wine Vacation in California by Scott Casper

This past October, my wife and I made our first wine country visit to California. We spent a week in Sonoma County visiting several wineries in the Dry Creek, Alexander and Russian River Valleys. Zinfandel is king in Dry Creek, but surprisingly, we were most impressed by the Sauvignon Blanc there. Cabernet Sauvignon is king in Alexander Valley and after tastings at Silver Oak and some other wineries it can safely be said it will rule supreme for a VERY long time in that appellation.

But the appellation that really impressed us was the Russian River Valley. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay were long considered to be royalty there…and they certainly did not disappoint, but the single vineyard Zinfandels at Hartford Family Winery in Forestville “hit the ball out of the park!” Cool climate terroir with great Pinots and Chardonnays is understandable but RRV Zinfandels from Hartford were spectacular. By the way, their multiple vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel clinched Number 10 of Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2016. Back in September, I bought a bottle at the West Shore Plaza for $37.99. At that time, it was the best Zin I ever had…and the most expensive. That was until I went to their winery and had a flight of their single vineyard Zins…and bought their Highwire Vineyard Zin for a lot more.

Overall, we visited more outstanding wineries in the Russian River Valley than anywhere else in Sonoma County. In addition to Hartford, the outstanding list had to include Dutton Estate and Dutton-Goldfield (brothers in a friendly rivalry…most of the time), Emeritus, VML, MacRostie, Rochioli, Thomas George Estate, Matrix and Bacigalupi, who helped to make history when they sold fruit to Chateau Montelena for its 1973 Chardonnay (40% Bacigalupi Vineyard) that won the judgement of Paris in 1976. Their invoice for the sale is framed and hangs in their tasting room.

This year…NAPA!!

The Inn at Herr Ridge by David Williams III

900 Chambersburg Rd, Gettysburg, PA. 17325 717 334-4332

Wine dinners are nothing new, however, superb food and wine dinners at reasonable prices in historic venues near Harrisburg are worthy of mention. I have to admit I was not familiar with the Inn at Herr Ridge but have driven past it innumerable times as it sits on Rt. 30 about 4 miles East of Gettysburg. My bet is you have too. I strongly suggest becoming familiar with this establishment.

Sommelier Brad Doerr and Chef Michael Andrews are pairing up to do themed wine dinners every Friday over the winter season. The themes change monthly. November 11, we attended a 4 course “Casa del Vino” Wine Dinner featuring wines and foods from Spain. Before I share the menu, I must tell you this location owned by Steve Wolf since 1977 has a 6000+ bottle wine cellar with domestic and international vintages dating back to 1970’s. It has also multiple Wine Spectator recognition awards. Brad has been given stewardship over the cellar and selects wine for the wine dinners not seen on the restaurant wine list. Trust me, after the tour of the cellar they have many surprises worthy of superlatives. Chef Andrews is certainly up to the challenge. Our menu is outlined below:

Manchego-Chorizo Pisto a la Macha served with Casa del Mar, Cava Brut NV
Valencia Seafood Paella paired with 2007 Martin Sancho, Verdejo, Rueda
Stella Cherry Braised Pork Belly with Smoked Bacon Gigante Beans, dancing on one’s tongue with a 2000 Segura Viduas Reserva from Penedès (Tempranillo)
Astorgia Chocolate Crema Catalana Raspberry Espuma wonderfully paired with a 2004 Dominio de Tares from Bierzo (Mencia)

I am a tough restaurant critic but was more than delighted with all 4 courses; in fact, I was impressed. The wines were expertly matched and highly complementary. One comment I have to make, a 9 year old Verdejo was the surprise of the evening, although the significant red with dessert made me momentarily pause before consuming both completely, ending with a wonderfully sated smile. Verdejo is typically youthful, light in color and tart with nice balance. However, this was truly golden showing a richness of age and deep elegant notes with a lingering finish. All of this for $70 per person plus tax and tip. Attending the wine dinner, should you wish to spend the evening and enjoy the B&B, you receive a 33% discount off your room. Look for me as I plan to return for the food as well as the wine. Check the web site under events for upcoming wine dinners. December will be Argentina. Yummmmmm !