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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 www.innatherrridge.com

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 !

Greystone Public House by Bill Beeson

The Greystone Public House has made a spectacular entrance, quickly ascending to the top of the Harrisburg dining scene. Chef Jason Viscount, formerly of Bricco, has a creative approach to “contemporary, rustic American” dishes. What I appreciate most is the consistent attention to detail that is (unfortunately) not often encountered locally. An example – salads are never overdressed, and the balance of spices and flavors is in perfect harmony. We’ve tried four of the five standard salads and wouldn’t change a thing about any of them.

I enjoyed black cod and clams in a clam broth so delightful, I took the leftover home for use in my cooking the next day. Portions, by the way are always generous—think of the next day’s lunch. Other dishes we and our friends and business associates have enjoyed, include the seared yellowfin tuna with baby turnips, lentils, kabocha squash and spiced pumpkin seed gremolata; blue catfish with fingerling potatoes, braised kale and endive; swordfish atop oyster mushroom risotto; a smoked elk sausage sandwich with chipotle apple butter, warm pepper onion and cabbage slaw; braised beef shortribs with smashed red bliss potatoes, brown butter brussels sprouts and red wine sauce; and yellowfin crostini with chili aioli and avocado – all of these and more completely wowed us!

The wine service is equally impressive, and unmatched in this area. Over 200 bottles are offered, many also available by the glass. And Greystone takes an innovative approach by offering “The Stack” of three 8 oz. carafes (stacked via unique bottle design). This enables individuals to pair a different wine with each course as the three wines chosen can be different. Wine and food prices are reasonable – which is refreshing!

The building’s original structure was built in the 18th century, and the newest renovations were reconstructed in a modern rustic style. We recommend dining upstairs if you like intimate conversation. The bar is large, open, with table seating on both sides and wonderful for socializing on a more casual conversation level. It can be however, quite noisy! Parking is plentiful and free!

Every wine selection we tried has been excellent, further demonstrating exceptional care and planning with the menu in mind. This is yet another feature that makes Greystone stand out in the local dining area. Reserve a table soon! You will find Greystone at 2120 Colonial Road, Harrisburg, PA 17112. Phone: 717.829.9952 Hours : M-Th: 11am – 11pm; Fri – Sat: 11am – 12am; Sunday: 10am – 10pm [Sunday Brunch 10am – 3pm].