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Snapshots from the Wine Roads

New Zealand

 New Zealand is lovely. That’s probably not news. I expected it to be lovely. What surprised me was this. Many countries--including our own--have lovely places. What was enlightening was that beauty was the norm in New Zealand. It wasn’t just a few places. It was a lot of places. And the beauty was enhanced by friendly, relaxed people. Again, it was not a surprise that there’s very good wine in New Zealand. What was a bit of surprise was how much there was of it. Sauvignon blancs, of course. But NZ wine is about far more than just sauvignon blanc. Lots of good pinot--some from well known wineries like Felton Road and Carrick…others from pleasant surprises like Desert Heart. And there are good syrahs and Bordeaux blends. If you like wines and you like beautiful places…New Zealand must be on your bucket list.

Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes region of New York State has produced wine almost as long as any region in America. But until relatively recently, that wine was made from indigenous American grapes thatwere used to make cheap sparkling wine. It was not until the 1950s that Dr. Konstantin Frank, a Ukrainian with a PhD in viticulture, emigrated to the region that anyone succeeded with fine wine grapes. He was a specialist in cool climate growing…and the Finger Lakes tested that skill. He was followed by Herman J. Wiemer, from the heart of Mosel in Germany, who developed a following for riesling in the 1970s and 1980s. But it’s only recently that wines from the region have earned widespread respect. And their cool climate whites--especially riesling--deserve that respect. Wineries like Ravines are producing dry rieslings that are so good I’ve chosen them for our table at major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. And with the lakes, forests and farm land, it’s a pretty region to visit.


There are now some 230+ wineries in Virginia. More than two centuries ago Thomas Jefferson predicted that Virginia could produce wine that would be as good as that in Europe. Different, but as good. And some of these 230+ wineries are making good wine. Not all, of course.  The damp climate can make it challenging…but some, like Veritas pictured, manage the moisture well. Others leading the way for Virginia wine include Linden, Michael Shaps, RdV, and Glen Manor. The serious wine they produce can get lost amidst some wineries that market beautiful scenery with mediocre wine. But a number of Virginia wineries are definitely worth visiting and their wines are worth seeking.


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