President’s Column March 2018

–by Averill Shepps–

The Pennsylvania Wine Excellence Awards Event was outstanding. 92 people had signed up. Five were no-shows, so that our attendance was 87. That is a record for that particular event, as well as for PWS events since the early years of the Society. And the winner was… Waltz Vineyards Estate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Crow Woods 2014. That is the second year in a row for Waltz!

The Certificate for the top scoring white wine went to Presque Isle Wine Cellars for their Lake Erie Traminette 2016. We had 7 representatives from the wineries who made the top scoring wines to speak to us about how the wines were made, and of their passion for what they are doing, and in one case, love was the secret for the excellent wines. At least four of the winemakers spoke to me after the event to say that they thought the wines poured were all deserving of recognition. That was an accolade for our judging.

I want to thank all of those who worked on PA Excellence XVI. It takes a village of wine lovers to produce. I was again delighted with the expertise and spirit exhibited in how everyone worked together. My thanks to co-host Dave for his many responsibilities; to Lynne and Nicole for handling a double work load with registration; to Brett for helping Dave with wine delivery; to Scott for bringing his super cork remover; to Jacy for posting the event on Facebook as the afternoon proceeded; to Stevie for working outside and inside the room; to pourers (we needed lots) Brenda, Cathy, Cindy, Chris, along with Dave, Brett, Scott; and I even did some. I am not listing the judges but obviously the event could not happen without them. Maybe we can say love is responsible for making PA Excellence what it is!

President’s Column February 2018

by Averill Shepps–

I have come across a new book on wine that is full of information on sipping, smelling, tasting wine, our favorite drink if not our favorite subject. It is “Cork Dork” written by Bianca Bosker. No, I had never heard of her either, but she is a professional journalist who has taken a journey deep into the world of wine and especially that of sommeliers, so deep in that particular world she became one! The book is about her discoveries. She writes of going through the various taste and knowledge tests that are needed to become a somm, of working in restaurants, and only the best, to study what the sommelier must learn about how to treat customers (who are rated according to how much they spend), practicing the art of presenting the wine properly, as well as how to present oneself in dress and manner. She speaks to scientists who have studied the brain, particularly the senses of taste and smell. She undergoes an fMRI examination so that a neuroscientist can note her brain’s reactions. She gets advice on how to improve her sense of smell by training her brain, and undergoes her own regimen at home to do so. She visits a sensory scientist who analyzes what regular humans enjoy about wine. The information is used by such labels as Sutter Home, Woodbridge and Yellow Tail. Randall Graham is quoted as having called Yellow Tail ”raspberry motor oil”. It is fascinating reading as she endeavors to answer the question, “What’s the big deal about wine anyway?” Another reviewer calls it “A marvelous journey through the MAD, MANIC, SEDUCTIVE subculture of wine and wine lovers.” Use your Christmas money, your stock market profits, or even cut your utility bills to buy this book. You’ll enjoy her journey, and you will learn a lot!!

Going Rogue!

by Scott Casper–

As you read in my article in last month’s newsletter, our Napa Valley-Sonoma Valley October wine vacation that I spent months putting together, didn’t happen. Driven by 50 MPH winds across very dry terrain, huge wildfires were sweeping down the mountains destroying tens of thousands of acres and thousands of homes and other structures in Napa and Sonoma Counties. For the first time in California’s history, a wild fire swept into a sizable city. Most of Santa Rosa’s northside was completely devastated. Upon arriving at the Phoenix airport, we saw that our flight and all flights to Santa Rosa were cancelled so we had to stay in Phoenix overnight. The Santa Rosa airport was closed with heavy smoke across the runway and no electricity or water. It was going to be closed for a week or more. One nearby Hilton hotel burned to the ground. The Hilton where we were supposed to stay was evacuated. Santa Rosa and the Napa-Sonoma wine country were gone from our travel plans.


The next morning, my wife and I knew we had to come up with another location. My wife said, “why don’t we fly to Medford, Oregon and see the wine country there.” We decided to run and catch the afternoon flight (only one a day) to Medford in southern Oregon. Medford is the largest city and the center of the Rogue Valley; make that Rogue Valley AVA. Also, right next door is the Applegate Valley AVA. American Airlines changed our Santa Rosa tickets for Medford and we got there that afternoon.


The Rogue and Applegate Valleys are warm weather appellations, so unlike the cool climate north Willamette Valley where you will be sipping huge amounts of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, we had lots of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Riesling, Roussanne, Viognier, Sangiovese and Tempranillo, as well as some Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. With no tasting room reservations required in this area, we were able to visit twenty-seven different wineries there with two visits to two wineries making the final visits’ tally twenty-nine. They were all great! Our favorites were Eden Vale and Dancin in the Medford area (Rogue Valley AVA) and Troon in Grants Pass (Applegate Valley AVA).


The Rogue Valley and Applegate Valley AVAs saved our wine vacation!!


President’s Column January 2018

by Averill Shepps


The election for board members and Officers of PWS was held at our December meeting. The composition of the Board and all the Officers will remain the same, insuring stability for the organization.

We will continue to bring you interesting, educational and enjoyable events. Some of the subjects we will be looking at for the future include a tasting of the always popular Italian wines followed by one with that ubiquitous grape Chardonnay in its many expressions, and also a Rosé tasting as Summer approaches when most people look forward to Rosés although some of us enjoy them all year round. During the Summer we will have a visit to a nearby winery or two, and as Fall approaches, Cabernet Franc, another grape that has many expressions according to where it is grown and how it is vinified. We will contact one of the most respected importers, Vineyard Brands Inc., to lead us in a tasting of      Alsace wines or another subject that we could agree upon. We would like to have a High-End Burgundy tasting in   November, and plan to contact Peter Weygandt to lead that one. Rounding out the year we have penciled in New   Zealand wines for December. You can see that my language gets a little more vague as the year progresses. This is because we hope to have the described events but have not made definite plans as yet.

Rest assured we will, as we continue to bring you interesting and knowledgeable speakers on a whole variety of vinous subjects, while we strive to help you learn more about our favorite ensure you enjoy the process! As always, if you have any suggestions, we are open to hearing them.  Please contact any Board member.


Our Sonoma-Napa Valley Wine Vacation…October 2017

by Scott Casper


My wife and I were really looking forward to our Sonoma-Napa wine vacation; nine days of tasting some of the finest wines our country has to offer. We had our tickets to fly out of HIA on Tuesday, October 10 and get to Santa Rosa, California late that night. I could imagine walking past the huge figure of Snoopy going into the Charles M. Schulz Airport. He was the creator of the world-famous cartoon “Peanuts” and was the most famous resident in Santa Rosa’s history.


The morning before our flight I went online to see the day’s news. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. An extremely large wild fire came down the mountain and struck the north side of Santa Rosa. I said to my wife, “the airport and the Hilton where we were going to stay are on the north end of Santa Rosa.” Then, I saw the headlines for the next news story, “Hilton in Santa Rosa burns to the ground.”  Whoa!! I read the story and it was the Wine Country Hilton. I was going to make a reservation there but changed my mind. We were staying at the Airport Hilton Garden Inn instead. But our hotel was only one mile from the one that was completely destroyed. The raging wild fire was out of control and ravaged much of northern Santa Rosa. The fire was fed by very dry terrain and strong winds gusting up to 50 MPH. Tens of thousands of residents evacuated and were literally running for their lives; some were not successful.


We left HIA, got to Charlotte for Phoenix and then on to Santa Rosa and lots of great winery tastings. Well, that was our plan but it didn’t happen.  We got out to Phoenix with no problem. But our flight to Santa Rosa was cancelled. The Charles M. Schultz Airport was closed. It had no electricity, no water and heavy smoke covered its runway. It’s reopening was nowhere in sight. Our hotel in Santa Rosa was evacuated. We were spending an unplanned night in Phoenix. The next morning, we had to decide what to do.


BYOB Himalayan fusion

by Bill Beeson

Himalayan fusion in Patton Place off Linglestown Road – 2308 Patton Road, Harrisburg, PA 17110

Web: Phone: 717-412-4907

Hours: Tu-Th 11A-2:30P/ 4P-9P; Fr 11A-2:30P / 4P-10P; Sa: 11:30A-3P/4P-10P Su:11:30A-3P/ 4PM-9P. Lunch buffet daily during regular hours.

A new international cuisine venue with friendly and attentive service, reasonable pricing, and great food just emerged on the East Shore! Offering Indian and Nepalese dishes, Himalayan fusion opened two weeks ago. Seeing the signs for this specialty restaurant “coming soon”, we drove by almost daily until finally, on a Tuesday, we heard from a neighbor – “It’s open, and food’s great!” The first Friday evening, we were there! We found it delightful. Vegetables were exceptionally fresh and crisp; nothing exhibited the soggy texture of food prepared and held in the kitchen. My entrée took a bit longer than others’ but these short minutes were worth the wait, as we quickly realized upon presentation, that the dumplings were being prepared to order on site, real time.

The traditional samosas (no nuts) were delicious, as were the Chili Mo-Mo (beware if you don’t well-tolerate hot peppers). The garlic naan was light, airy, and well… perfect – not over garlicky. The bhagan bharta (slow cooked eggplant) and shrimp pakora (made with chick pea flour) were favorably reviewed by their consumer. The mango chicken ordered by another was also rated thumbs up. Our spicier dishes paired well with a 2008 Allegro Cadenza (Bordeaux style blend) and the lighter dishes nicely with a 2016 Fabre Rosé from Provence. Riesling would also be a good varietal to grab on your way to dinner here. Wine glasses available if you forget to pack your Riedel.

This establishment seems VERY allergy-aware and careful – menu items are coded (V) vegan; (N) contains nuts; and (GF) gluten free – very much appreciated by our team! There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan-friendly entrees. Any dish can be prepared to your preferred level of heat as well. We plan to catch Sunday brunch there at our next opportunity!

Presidents Column November 2017

by Averill Shepps—

People send me emails, news articles, etc., all about wine. They keep me fairly well-informed. If I wanted to stop reading about wine and just drink it, I would not able to. A recent email forwarded by Dave Williams referenced an article from the renowned British publication, Punch. Author Jon Bonne writes of areas in France outside of Beaujolais, where the Gamay grape is being grown. He claims that “The world is currently in love with Gamay – soulful and passionate love, not the   tawdry one-night stand that is Beaujolais Nouveau.” If that doesn’t intrigue you, he goes on, “…while I adore the recent intellectualism, Gamay remains a wine of pleasure: it can be both meditated upon and, unlike Burgundy, drunk – actually drunk – with abandon. Pinot wants to be loved, Gamay wants to f—. It is the quintessential object of alt-desire, a sex toy for grape nerds. And that lust means we’re going to need a lot more good Gamay in the world.” And now I suppose I have your attention!

Those of you who attended the June Beaujolais event have already enjoyed some of the pleasures that Gamay has to offer. We are talking (no specific plans yet, but research is continuing) of having another Beaujolais tasting so that if you didn’t attend in June, you will have another chance to taste what is happening with Gamay. Meanwhile I will be looking into some of the areas where Gamay is still being grown – Cote Roannaise in the upper reaches of the Loire Valley as well as other parts of the Loire, namely Montlouis and Vouvray. There is such a thing as Sparkling Gamay made there. Imagine, 2 pleasures at once – the effervescence of the bubbles combined with the above mentioned qualities of Gamay. It must be tried!!


BYOB Moonlight Cafe

by Jacy Hammacher—

Moonlight Café, 4140 Carlisle Road; Dover, PA 17315   (717) 292-5643

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover!  When we pulled up to this particular BYOB, to celebrate being married for 10 years, my husband and I noticed the ordinary façade and later discovered it was not an indication of the top-quality food we were about to experience. There wasn’t an empty parking spot and it was a full house of around twelve tables, full of wine-loving foodies. We were seated fairly quickly; and, as we pulled our wine selections out, our server brought two wine glasses and a corkscrew so as to not keep our thirst unquenched.

My husband (or date should I say?) and I chose to start our evening with the Moonlight Crab Dip appetizer. The crab itself was so rewarding that I could have stopped there, but it also left me wondering what else could be on the menu that would satisfy my palate. As I perused the choices, I noticed that they offer a nice selection of categories that would complement a variety of wines.

We brought a 2009 Lingenfelder Shoy, made from the Scheurebe grape, which was full bodied, yet refreshing with a slight peach nose. Therefore, I was in the mood for some more seafood to pair with it. I ordered the Shrimp Champagne, which is raspberry cream sauce, tomato, mushroom, and spinach over fettuccine noodles and shrimp. The mix of flavors between food and wine made my taste buds dance!

Chris, on the other hand, was looking to have something that would accompany this big, bold, California Cab that had rich backing spices, and a smidgen of espresso bean. He made the only logical decision he could and ordered the Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon over a mountain of mashed potatoes and broccoli with balsamic glaze.  Needless to say, we will be eating there again soon.


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!