Local grapes by the Amana Colonies

Kristen took a trip to Iowa last month and discovered a large community of people called the Amana Colonies who are helping locally grown grapes make a major come back!

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Amana, not Amish: 

At first glance, the Amana community seems to highly resemble the famous Amish settlers. However, the people of the Amana colonies are of German descent and highly value innovation and advancement in technology. After breaking away from the Luthern church in 1714, the Amana group has thrived and how stands as 7 large colonies. To our joyous surprise, Amana is famous for their Oktoberfest celebration and supports 4 wineries and 1 incredibly German-style brewery.

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Show me the wine

While visiting, Kristen managed to visit 2 of the wineries and got to learn a great deal about delicious local blends.

Stop 1: Fireside Winery –

**Currently being sold in the Heritage Haus in Amana.

Though these wines are sold to Amana like a winery in Napa would sell them to you local liquor store, the winery grows grape varieties that we have never heard of before!

Wines to try:

Hearthstone: It was a beautiful, light, and semi-dry red wine made with the local Marquette grape. It’s aroma screams fresh cherry and the palate finishes with smokey oak flavors. It’s wine that is elegant enough for short ribs but yet approachable enough for pizza.

Blu: This white blend of Geisenheim and local Iowa Seyval grapes, is a lightly sweet wine with crisp apple notes and and orange fruit aromas. It’s the perfect pair for your spicy taco night or BYOB to your favorite Indian restaurant. Seyval is also a MA local grape and the Iowa expression is elegant in comparison.

Glow: This dessert sweet wine is made with Iowa grown Brianna grapes. Expect this wine to take you away to a tropical destination with its pineapple, peach, and roasted apricot flavors. It’s the perfect sweet wine for the white sangria lovers in your life or even better on ice as a summer porch sipper.

 

Brave enough to try?

Fireside wines can be purchased on their website and shipped to your house! Explore their large portfolio and let us know what you think!

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Stop 2: Ackerman Winery

Established in 1956, it’s one of the oldest wineries in Iowa and has won awards for it’s fruit wine such as rhubarb and dandelion wine. Their unique selection of wines alone was stunning before we even to got taste them!

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wines to try:

Catawba: This native American grape varietal is the parent grape of the famous Concord variety. It produces a gorgeous pink wine that we swear will be your new summer fav! It’s hints of fresh strawberry and red apple will go down so easy it can be dangerous.

Edelweiss: This juicy Iowa grown white grape reminded us of a Gewurztraminer. It’s soft and floral body is easy drinking with pear and lemon notes. Serve ice cold while waiting for toe nails to dry in the hot summer sun.

Try the fruit wines – we dare you! Choosing a top fruit wine is too hard. All of their fruits are grown across america and boast about their health benefits as listed below. The Rhubarb and Dandelion have won awards but the Blackberry and Pomegranate were some of our favs. We recommend joining the wine club so you can taste them all!

Ackerman wines can also be purchased on their website!

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Happy Drinking Wineos!!!

 

 

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Wine Ideas for a Nor’Easter

Need ideas for surviving our latest Blizzard?

Weather you are snowbound at home or making the trek outside, you deserve some winter warming wine cocktail ideas! 

While you are checking to see if your house vents are covered in snow, try simmering some mulled wine on the stove! This Italian recipe will have you defrosted in no time!

Mulled wine with spices, studio

Lost power? No Problem! Grab that old fondue pot and warm up some store bought Gluhwein from Total Wine and More or ask your local liquor store if they have any left over from the holiday season.

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Don’t like Red but still want something warm? Try this fun “White Glogg” recipe with whatever white wine you have lying around!

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Don’t forget to have fun experimenting with whatever you have in that old cabinet! She Knows offers up this wonderful recipe list to help you get started!

These mulled wine cocktails are what's giving us life this winter

Stay safe and Stay Sassy!

Feature Image from Laughtard.com

Ice Wine for Icy Weather

Like sweet wine? If yes, you have to try Ice Wine!

Ice Wine (Eiswein) is created through a process of leaving ripe grapes on the vine until the first frost before harvesting and pressing. These grapes are pressed for juice while still frozen.

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Why use frozen grapes?

When the grapes sit on the vines long after traditional harvest season, the fruit is exposed to the sun all the way up until the first snow. This sunlight exposure allows the juice inside the grape to slowly sweeten over time.

Fun facts:

  1. Crushing these grapes while frozen could pose a threat to machinery, which contributes to higher costs.
  2. The juice produced tends to create wines with an average of 10% alc level.
  3. Ice wine has the same sweetness as a Moscato. 

Location is Everything

Ice wine is unique and one of the claim to fame aspects of colder counties. ex: New England that is famous for it’s Iced Cider or Apple wines. Traditionally, Ice Wine must be made with grapes that are naturally frozen on the vine. Most Ice Wine producing countries like the US, Austria, Canada, and Germany, all have laws that prevent wine labels from claiming they produce “Ice Wine” if the grapes are commercially frozen instead.

Wagner Riesling Ice Wine, 2014Inniskillin Riesling Icewine, 2014

 

Let’s Talk Money

As we explained, the process of producing proper Ice Wine is painstaking and crushing the grapes isn’t even the hardest part. These difficulties explain why Ice Wine is normally sold in half bottles and tends to be at a higher price point ($30 – $60). Anything cheaper is usually somehow doctored from the natural process.

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Real Talk: Is it worth the money? 

We recommend to try it at least once. Taste the wine straight up and chilled first. Then have fun figuring out different ways to use it. Mix it into a wine that isn’t sweet enough for you. Turn it into a winter cocktail to impress friends. Pour that liquid gold over ice cream or turn it into a boozy cupcake. I personally feel (Kristen) that it’s the most elegant way to enjoy dessert and if you have the money in your wine budget it’s worth the splurge. HOWEVER, keep it away from your friends who don’t really understand good wine. Your barefoot/yellowtail lovers will drink down your $40 in a heartbeat.

 

Redstone image credit @ redstonewines.caredstonewines.caredstonewines.ca

Wagner Riesling image @ totalwine.com

Inniskillin solo bottle image @totalwine.com

Inniskillin group bottle image@ James Joel

Iced Grapes Photo @ Dominic RlvardDominic RlvardDominic Rlvard

Feature Image: Ice Bar Abstract from KimManleyOrt

CA Fire Relief- How you can help!

 

Hey Wineos,

Our renowned wine capitals Napa and Sonoma have been hit with terrible wild fires that have displaced families and damaged many of the wineries we all love. For detailed information about which wineries were affected and which counties have been burned please read here.

In latest news, the majority of the fires have been contained for the time being. Many organizations in the area are looking for donations to help rebuild wine country and support the families.

Image result for love in the air is thicker than the smoke

So how can you help?

The Winemakers and Sommeliers For California Wildfire Relief group is hosting fundraising events, taking donations, and taking donated quality vintage wine bottles to use as auction items for funds.

The American Red Cross is taking applications for volunteers to help bring aid to the area as well as donations on their website. Donations can be directed to all general disaster relief which covers the CA fires, Hurricane Harvey, and Hurricane Maria. You can choose which disaster you want to donate to.

The Redwood Empire Food Bank is also taking monetary donations and food donations if you live locally. The money goes to help feeding the displaced families.

Gloria Ferrer winery in Sonoma is doing a special where $1 from every purchase goes towards the fire relief. Check out their website for fundraising events or shop online to make a difference. Every bottle counts!

Scribe Winery in Sonoma County has opened a pre-sale for their special edition Pinot Noir where the proceeds from the sales will go to local aid forces. The wine will ship on November 1st and this limited edition bottle costs $32 dollars. We here at half-past just purchased a bottle and will be reviewing it soon for you!

2017 Nouveau of Pinot Noir Presale // Ships Nov 1st

For even more ways to help like donating to the local firefighters in the area or clothing donations check out PBS.org

Please do your part to help support the vineyards and the people that work hard to provide you with USA made wine every day. #CAwinestrong

Stay Wine Strong and Cheers

Feature Image Credit – Santa Cruise Mountains Winegrowers Association

Love in the Air Image Credit – Two-Way Breaking News NPR

Pinor Noir Wine Bottle Image Credit – Scribe Winery 

 

 

Game of Wines?

I’m sure some of our readers out there happen to be fans of the show Game of Thrones, or a least know someone who watches it faithfully each week. So to celebrate the return of America’s most watched TV phenomenon, we’re pouring HBO licensed wine each Sunday after discovering the Westeros themed bottles at Total Wine.

 

 

The show has it’s own wine brand that can be found here for purchase online. As much as I love this show, I wasn’t about the spend $49.99 on their high-end Cabernet. I purchased the GOT Red Blend and the GOT Chardonnay, which I have seen at multiple retailers. If any of our readers happen to go the extra mile and purchase the Cabernet from Napa (aka Dorne) PLEASE let us know your review!

The dragons of khaleesi must have had a hand in the smoked and hickory nose and subtle notes in the wine. It’s a light red but borders on medium body that’s bright with red delicious apple flavor with a cranberry tannin bite. It even have tones of raspberry and plum as the wine breathes.

I highly recommend either an aerator or opening this wine on Saturday night and leaving it corked on the counter for the Sunday showtime. It may need a bit of air to fully develop but easy drinking!

The GOT Chardonnay was a bit more mellow than I was expecting. It wasn’t a toasted buttery bomb that many expect from wines out of CA. It was fresh with a medium body and very light oak. It screams of pear flavor with a green apple finish that keeps it from feeling too heavy. Both wines claim to be from Dorne, but I could swear it hails from a more northern kingdom considering the acidity allowed me to turn it into a bright risotto dish for that Sunday’s episode.  The cork brandished a Lannister lion as if to rebel against the bottle’s Dornish label.

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Each bottle is decorated with the famous family emblems as seen in the opening credits of every show. I highly recommend keeping the bottles as a nerd trophy. The artwork of the show is always great. These wines will please any guest and I recommend pairing with food!

“I drink and I know things.” – Tyrion Lannister

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cava’s Little Sister, Summer White!

Just when you think Spain can’t get anymore ingenious after inventing sangria, they share yet another one of their long standing traditions: vi d’agulla from Avinyó

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In Catalan, the name means ‘prickly wine.’ But despite it’s Spanish origins, this label reads ‘Petillant,’ which is a French wine designation meaning ‘slightly sparking.’

Avinyó’s Petillant white wine is produced in Catalonia Spain, with 80% Petit Grain Muscat and 20% Macabeu grapes. After being fermented in stainless steel tanks, the wine is given its light bubbles from the Charmat Method (tank method)  in a secondary tank.

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Why is it Catalonia’s summer drink of choice? Probably because it’s everything you need from a summer white. Crisp, lightly acidic, blooming with lychee and green apple flavors, floral, with tiny almost metallic bubbles that are a match made in heaven for summer seafood pairings – as if the tiny silver fishes on the label didn’t give it away.

If you happen to come across any petillant or vi d’agulla wines in your travels this summer PLEASE take the opportunity to taste them ice cold with all your summer food choices.

¡Salud!

Rare find! – Ancient Peaks Winery

Picture owning a large cattle ranch in central California…and one day some big wine conglomerate comes by and wants to buy patches of your land to grow grapes. Three years later, the grapes are finally ready to be turned into wine, but the conglomerate wants to leave – What luck! Buy the land back, and now you have perfectly managed wine fields that are yours for production. This is the lucky story of Ancient Peaks Winery at the Santa Margarita Ranch.

Don’t worry: they are still a cattle ranch too,but now produce a line up of over 8 different wines each growing in 5 different kinds of soils. Each bottle specifies which soil the grapes were grown in the back label. Did I mention that one of their soil types in an ancient sea bed? Picture massive fossilized oyster shells popping up among the grape vines!

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Why is this winery a rare find? The inside scoop is that only 6 different wine shops in the whole state of MA have been presented with the Ancient Peaks wines. We don’t have any information about other states, but so far the number of places to possibly purchase this wine is limited.

So stay on the lookout! If the search doesn’t prove fruitful, check out their online store to see if they ship to your state. Kristen was lucky enough to try their Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Zinfandel.

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Cabernet Sauvignon  

It’s a rare day where I enjoy all of the wines that I try in one sitting. This cabernet was a perfect balance of everything we love about the grape. It wasn’t overly fruity or tart, it was smooth with softer tannins with medium body weight. Showing flavors of dark berries and even very subtle hints of cocoa on the mid palate. Perfect for dinner or just stand alone drinking.

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Merlot 

Now, Merlot I am very skeptical off because normally it is not my favorite grape. But this bottle was wonderfully produced.  It was velvety, rich, with black cherry and plummy notes and it included that signature mocha smell that you can expect from the grape. This bottle advertises that it was grown in the ancient sea bed, which might have something to do with its subdued quality. It’s a must for red meats or even game meats if you want to take the flavor up a notch.

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Zinfandel 

This has to be one of my favorite zinfandels yet. It was juicy, refreshing, quenching, and yet the fruit flavor was controlled in a way that made it enjoyable sip after sip. With bright berry notes in the front and a slight tart and pepper zing at the finish, this wine is a fun ride for your palate and I hope you get the chance to nab this bottle.

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Just in case giant sea shells wasn’t enough of a draw, the next time you are in CA I would recommend stopping by their site. Not only are there cows, a cafe, tasting room, and tours but they now host a 2.5 hour long zip line experience across their property!

Happy Wine Hunting!

Vineyard Header Photo from ancientpeaks.com

Nobilo: Not Your Average Sauv Blanc

We recently went to the store to pick up a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. Knowing we couldn’t go wrong with wines from Marlborough, New Zealand, we picked a random bottle and expected a traditional experience. But this wine – Nobilo Regional Selection – was anything but ordinary!

 

The difference was noticeable with just one waft. Nobilo has a blossoming nose with full, floral notes. It was deliciously enticing and aromatic. We almost couldn’t stop smelling it to try a taste! (Do they sell this as candles yet? Take our money!)

The taste was just as unique, a delicate balance of citrus with a hint of acid in the finish. While the wine was smooth and light on the pallet, its flavors hold its own. We noticed flavors of pears and oranges, with just a vague hint of something sweeter, like vanilla. It was perfect for a casual glass (or two, or three!).

And to make things even better, we snagged a bottle for just $7.99!

You can find more about the wine here: http://www.nobilowines.com/us/our-wines/regional-collection-sauvignon-blanc

Featured image: http://oakmontpub.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Nobilo-Sauvignon-Blanc-M.jpg

 

 

 

Wine & Cider

We know you have already been bombarded with pumpkin, apples, spice, and everything nice. But what if there was a way to combine your love for the season and wine?

Welcome back to the Half Past Wine O’clock wine lab where we enjoy experimenting and inventing simple drinks for you to try!

This time we played with the obvious fall superstar: apple cider. Some love it cold and smooth and others prefer and it hot and spicy. Fear not: you can have both.

 

Cold:

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Cider Shivers

3/4 c cold apple cider

1/2 c cold white fruity wine

top off with orange flavored seltzer

This drink was not so precise when we came up with it. Take a mason cup and fill the bottom quarter of it with white wine, add in as much cider as you like, and then top it off with some bubbly seltzer to give it some flare. Simple yet not your average cider. Experiment and tell us what you liked!

 

 

Hot:

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Cider Cinders

3/4c hot mulled cider

1/2c room temp white wine

1 tbsp rum (half a shot)

cinnamon stick for flavor while you drink

Mull the cider by infusing mulling spiced into apple cider on the stove. 2 cups of cider with a tablespoon of mulling spices at a low simmer for 15 minutes should do the trick for you and a friend. Strain the spices out of the cider and then add the other alcohols to the pot to heat up. This should only take about a minute or so. Remember you do not want the alcohol to cook off so heat it just barely! Pour your spiked cider into a mug and then throw in a cinnamon stick to flavor while you drink. Try this recipe with cinnamon or spiced liquors like fireball!

 

Stay warm and drink up!

Cheers!

feature image credit (apple photo) – ‘Taxonomy’ by Rebecca Siegel