In celebration of our 100th “Like” on Facebook, today’s topic is provided by our 100th “Liker,” Mark Vietri of Newark, DE. Mark writes:
Tell me ‘PW’ what are your top 10 wineries in the North east and what makes them your favorite or most unique?
Wonderful question! Your Private Wineaux is a huge proponent of “drinking locally” and the northeast — save, perhaps, upstate New York — has not always gotten its due in the international wine press. This is beginning to change. The most recent edition of Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson’s World Atlas of Wine (7th ed.) devotes a headlined sub-chapter to Virginia, and The Wine Bible (11th ed.) by Karen MacNeil includes sections on Pennsylvania and New Jersey in the chapter “Other Important Wine Regions” in the United States.
But back to Mark’s question. With literally hundreds of active wineries in the northeast, which we’re defining as Virginia to New England, picking a few “top” locations can be a challenge. The alphabetical list — split between this and the following articles (five each) — presents a variety of wineries making wines in a great diversity of styles. You’re sure to find one or two that suit you. The primary American Viticultural Area (AVA) is indicated after each winery, as well as the wine to get if you’re only bringing home one bottle.
Barboursville Vineyards (Monticello, VA) – Founded in 1976 by Gianni Zonin and part of the portfolio of Casa Vinocola Zonin, Italy’s largest wine company, Barboursville bottles 22 different wines including their acclaimed flagship Bordeaux blend, Octagon. They were pioneers in Virginia — everyone told them to plant tobacco on the estate instead of grapes — and they still turn out quality product.
One Wine to Get: Barboursville’s Viognier Reserve is an excellent example of why this grape has become the flagship variety of the Virginia wine industry.
Blue Mountain Vineyards (Lehigh Valley, PA) – A classic mid-Atlantic winery, Blue Mountain offer a variety of vinifera and French hybrid wines as well as tastings and seasonal social events. They’re a founding winery in the Lehigh Valley AVA, and produce a range of wines in popular and more “serious” styles. Including…
One Wine to Get: Petite Syrah [sic]. Blue Mountain’s is one of very few produced in the northeast, and despite hailing from a cooler cliamate than most of its California bretheren, it remains true to the Petite Sirah varietal character.
Channing Daughters (Long Island, NY) – Sourcing grapes from their own “beautiful plot of land” in Bridgehampton and from select sites and growers on the North Fork, Channing Daughters prides itself on artisanal experimentation. Growing over two dozen varieties including Private Wineaux favorite Ribolla Gialla, they produce high quality wines that reflect their East End region.
One Wine to Get: Described as “an exotic field blend,” Channing Daughters’ food-friendly white blend Mosaico is an exellent manifestation of the winery’s belief that blending “creates more complex, complete and ultimately delicious wines.”
Coda Rossa (Outer Coastal Plains, NJ) – The crayon box that is Coda Rossa’s portfolio should appeal to a wide variety of wine drinkers. In addition to easy-drinking local dry wines and whimsical fruit wine blends, Coda Rossa offers a selection of wines vinified from California grapes.
One Wine to Get: Coeur d’Est. The Outer Coastal Plain Vineyard Association has brought together wineries of the OCP AVA to produce a “native” blend. Following rules similar to those of Old World appellations, Coeur d’Est is intended to represent the best that the region has to offer. Seek out Coda Rossa’s and those of other local producers.
Horton Vineyards (Orange County, VA) – Horton founder, Dennis Horton, is one of the pioneers of the Viognier variety in Virginia having travelled to southern France to study warm(er) climate grape varieties. Like several others in the northeast, Horton makes a wide variety of wines from grapes and other fruit.
One Wine to Get: The Black Tower Collection Norton. An advocate of North America’s best native wine grape, Horton produces one of the finest examples of what Norton can do. Getting to rhyme when you ask for it doesn’t hurt.
We visit the rest in part two!