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Archive for February 2nd, 2010

Hey guys, my name is Caroline and I am a new but enthusiastic contributor to the Grand Crew. I thought I’d start by giving you a little excerpt on my wine background.

A quick disclaimer: I am young for the wine community, and therefore have a lot to learn. However, I believe I have a unique perspective on certain aspects of the industry due to my age and varying experiences. Plus, my passion for wine began as soon as I was legal. OK, it was probably a little before that.

It all began in college when I got a part-time job at The Cheese Shop, a well-known family business in Williamsburg, VA. For the first two years, I worked on the main floor where I began learning about gourmet ingredients and artisan cheeses. After a while, though, I found my attention often drawn downstairs to our store’s fine wine and craft beer section. I started venturing to the “cellar” at every chance I got, and after my twenty-first birthday, they decided to let me relocate to a wine sales position. For the next two years, I gained invaluable knowledge from my much older (and much less, shall we say, financially challenged) co-workers, and from the singular experience of working in today’s wine retail market.

Although I loved working with customers – helping people find that perfect bottle – I was itching to learn more. After I graduated, I decided I wanted to get my hands dirty, to learn how this delicate fruit could produce such an amazing array of flavors and textures. I couldn’t exactly afford to move to Burgundy, but I happened to find a job at a small, family winery in Eastern Pennsylvania that turned out to be exactly what I was looking for. Now I do everything from picking and pruning, to racking and bottling, to event planning and marketing. Due to my wide range of duties, I have been respectfully dubbed Cellar Queen (which has thankfully replaced Cellar Rat, my original position title).

I must say a bit about the general perception of the Pennsylvania wine industry (which I will talk about in more detail later):

A lot of it is bad. Really bad. For decades, Pennsylvania has been known for syrupy-sweet fruit bombs from hybrid grapes like Niagara and Cayuga. However, this image of Pennsylvania as far from a quality wine-growing region is slowly but surely beginning to change; as the older generations pass the shears, new winemakers (like us) are beginning to plant more vinifera and to embrace more sophisticated methods. In my posts, I hope to relay the story of what it’s like to start and grow a wine business literally from the ground up in a pioneer viticultural region. I also hope to throw in some of my personal thoughts and opinions as a wine drinker from the unique demographic of young, female, and in the biz.

Every day I am astounded at how many thousands of tiny decisions go into grape growing and wine making in the ever-elusive attempt to create a consistently great product. American oak or French oak? Punch downs or pump overs? Corks or screw caps? Organic? Biodynamic? Even down to What grapes should we grow? As our winery expands, we must reassess these decisions yearly, trying to improve and progress while defining ourselves stylistically and staying financially afloat.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more posts on their way! I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my experiences with you.

WINE OF THE WEEK:

Feudi di San Georgio “Falanghina” 2007 ($15.99)

Paired with: Sushi (it’s “Tuna Week” at Ooka)

Tasting notes: Soft mouthfeel, yet balanced citrus-like acidity. Fresh floral aroma layered with apple and pineapple on the palate. Nice complexity of flavor. Finish was very pleasant, but not incredibly long. Great with the tuna.

Rating: 89 (I don’t really like to 100 pt. system, but I am most familiar with it at this point. I might switch later.)

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