Mom & Daughter Wine Making Team
When I first visited The Grange of Prince Edward it was basically a one person show. Caroline Granger had her finger on the pulse of every aspect of the winery. She would lead visitors through the vineyards that she loves, regaling them with the loyalist history of her family farm, as well as the complex details of viticulture and winemaking. She looked over the winemaking, the viticulture, the tasting room and sales herself. She was the “chief, cook, and bottle washer”. These days however there is another force to reckon with at the Grange.
When I first went to The Grange, Caroline's daughter Maggie was home from school for the summer and was helping out but I saw her as a very shy person. That perception was totally removed from my mind when I recently brought an Opimian tour through the county and we stopped by The Grange.
As is usually the case when I go there Caroline has the group out front and she tells the history of her operation and explains how and why she got involved in the industry. This time however Maggie started jumping in with her observations and I was completely thrown back. We then proceeded into the wine making part of the operation and it was now Maggie leading the discussion. It was a Mother Daughter team leading the tour and it was not something I had seen there before! I saw a young lady that had stepped out of the background and was standing as an equal beside her Mother ... I had to find out more and went back the next day to talk to Maggie.
She told me that she had started working with her Mom when she was 13. She said that she was the first vineyard crew that her Mother had and that she helped on weekends and summer vacations. She fondly remembered that she liked hanging out with her mom and all of a sudden they were all just hanging out in the vineyard instead of the backyard. She laughs and says she got paid in hours at the beach back then and says it "wasn't a bad gig"!
Maggie remembers that one of the first jobs she had was watering the baby vines. In 2001 they had a 9 week drought that started right when they planted the vines and newly planted vines need rain water to survive. So they bought a tank that could be pulled behind the tractor and she explained how her and Caroline walked behind the tractor with hoses giving each vine a few liters of water.
Maggie eventually went away to school thinking that she would never be a ‘farmer’ again! But over the 4 years of school, she started to focus on cultural studies that in turn brought her attention back to wine. All of a sudden after being away she saw the industry in a different light and she was really excited to be a part of it. And she's been working with her mom more and more since then. Its just been the last few years that the relationship between Mother and Daughter has evolved to become full time in the winemaking and everything that comes with that. Maggie now admits that her interest lies in the vineyard. She believes that great wine is made from great grapes and she wants to cultivate the best possible fruit that they can and hat means continuing to learn and grow all the time. Sounds an awful lot like her Mother talking!
It is always a joy to visit the Grange when friends visit the county as I know they will be impressed with the ambiance of the winery (from the impressive tasting room overlooking the mill pond to the spectacular barrel cellar) as well as the large selection of great wine that Caroline, and now Maggie, is always on hand to pour. This Mother Daughter team is a force to be reckoned with!
Sippin' in the County
Dear Dr. Vinny, What’s your favorite wine? —Linda, Sacramento, Calif. Dear Linda I was just having lunch with a winemaker, and she told me that she gets this question all the time when she tells people what she does. I think many wine professionals can relate, even cartoon ones. This is a difficult question to answer, because I like all kinds of wines, and I don’t only drink one type of wine every day—that would be boring! It would be like asking me what my favorite song is. I have a favorite Miles Davis track, a favorite Beastie Boys song, and so on for classic rock, pop and country. What I listen to depends on my mood and what I’m doing. The same goes for what outfit I want to put on when I wake up (though as you probably know, I wear a cape and a bowtie and have a glass of red wine in my hand on most days). So while I have some wines that I gravitate toward, and there are lots of winemakers and châteaus and vineyards I admire, my favorite wine is very much a product of my mood—and at any given moment, it's usually the wine that's in my glass. —Dr. Vinny
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Can TCA or cork taint manifest as just a flavor in wine, without the telltale moldy aroma? (Wine Spectator)
Dear Dr. Vinny, I recently opened a 35-year-old red Bordeaux that has me confused. All was well until the second glass, when I noticed the flavor of old, wet newspaper, the telltale sign of TCA. But there was nothing on the nose to suggest cork taint. Can TCA manifest itself in flavor only? Or was this just the natural taste of this particular old wine? —John, Chicago Dear John, Let me back up and explain TCA and cork taint for those not already acquainted. There’s a chemical compound called 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA for short) that can make its way into wine. It’s not harmful, but it is super powerful and can impede our ability to smell and taste a wine's true aromas and flavors, leaving us with the impression of a wine that smells moldy or musty, like wet cardboard or newspaper. TCA is caused by the intersection of chlorine and plant phenols, which are organic compounds. Because corks are made from the bark of an oak tree, TCA can originate there, but there are other places it can come from, like oak barrels or wood pallets or cardboard boxes. Tainted wines are often referred to as "corked," due to the not entirely correct conception that the cork is the source of the taint. That musty smell is very distinctive, and it’s the first clue your wine might be tainted, but the only way to know for sure is with a lab test. There are lots of other reasons a wine might taste funky. I think that it's also harder to pick out TCA in older wines, because as wines age their fruit flavors fade and more notes of earth, spice and leather emerge, which can make it more difficult to pinpoint a tainted element. Thresholds of perception for TCA vary broadly, but once suspect a wine has it, I find it difficult to get any enjoyment out of it. —Dr. Vinny
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Are wine-bottle capsules going out of fashion? (Wine Spectator)
Dear Dr. Vinny, I bought a bottle of Bedrock that arrived without a capsule over the cork. Is this a new trend? —Bob, Chalfont, Pa. Dear Bob, It sure is! More winemakers are doing away with capsules, the plastic or foil sleeves on the top of wine bottles. Historically, capsules were intended to protect corks from nibbling rodents and other pests (they also contained lead). As long as you don't have rats in your cellar, they're purely decorative today (and lead-free). I checked in with Morgan Twain-Peterson, the proprietor of Bedrock, to get his take. “My general thinking is that [capsules are] more an aesthetic decision than one that has an impact on wine aging or quality," he says. "I would much rather use the money saved on foil and invest it into a higher-quality cork—something that does have an impact on wine quality and aging.” —Dr. Vinny
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Are you considered a "sommelier" if you serve wine at a restaurant? (Wine Spectator)
Dear Dr. Vinny, Are you considered a "sommelier" if you serve wine at a restaurant? Or do you have to take classes and be certified to claim the title? —Taylor, Hays, Kan. Dear Taylor, Sommelier is a job title for a restaurant professional that helps you navigate a restaurant’s wine choices and provides wine service, sometimes also called a wine steward. A somm doesn’t just open wine and pour it; they are intimately familiar with the restaurant's wine program and should be able to guide diners in making wine selections and provide additional information about the wines on the list. At most restaurants, this job title does not require a degree or certification, but there are many formal training programs, the most prestigious of which is the Master Sommelier certification. Job requirements will vary from restaurant to restaurant, of course, but you’d almost certainly need previous restaurant experience and knowledge of wine. Some learn through rigorous tasting practice or travel. The various professional exams or certifications will show commitment, but they aren't required to be a good sommelier. The best ones I’ve ever met have both a practical and theoretical understanding of wine, and are passionate about what they do. —Dr. Vinny
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Why aren't more white wines sold in magnum or other large-format bottles? (Wine Spectator)
Dear Dr. Vinny, Some white wines age quite gracefully. Why aren't more of them offered in magnum or other large-format bottles? —Dan, Lorain, Ohio Dear Dan, I actually see a lot of white wines for sale in large-format bottles at the grocery store, but of course those are typically mass-production value wines that aren’t meant for aging. You’ll also find plenty of larger bottles of fine wine—both white and red—at charity and commercial auctions, where collectors pay the higher price tags to enjoy the slower aging and added prestige of larger bottles. It's true, however, that there aren't nearly as many fine white wines sold in magnum as there are reds, and you’re right that there are some really terrific white wines with tremendous ageability. But most whites are intended for near-term consumption, while they're still full of fresh fruit flavors and refreshing acidity. It's rare, but there are some special white wines that are only bottled in magnum, like Domaine St.-Préfert Châteauneuf-du-Pape White Cuvée Spéciale Vieilles Clairettes. —Dr. Vinny
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