A Very WineMaker Spring and Summer
It's been a while since I've checked in from behind the scenes at WineMaker, and so much has happened that it's hard to sum it all up in one measly blog. But I will try!
Ok, first, we put on another successful WineMaker International Amateur Wine Competition (in the lovely city of Burlington, Vermont). I want to say thank you to all of those who entered their wines this year. I've been with WineMaker since 2007, and it seems like the skill level of the winemakers and the quality of the wines are always getting better and better. Your interest in making world-class wines also helps me out, personally. If I can take you into the way-back machine for a moment, the year I started as an assistant editor at Battenkill Communications (publishers of WineMaker as well as Brew Your Own magazine), there was a time when the competition was small enough that each of the staff (from the owner/publisher on down) took two-hour shifts twice a day in the basement of the office sorting wine entries. Thanks to all you dedicated winemakers out there, the wine competition has gotten so big that I don't have to sort wine entries anymore!
Which brings me to another thanks — to my friend Jason Mattarese. Jay is one of the guys behind the scenes in Vermont who helps bring the wine competition to life every year. Jay started out with us as an extra pair of hands in the late stages of the competition, sorting bottles and pouring during the actual competition. But for the last five years he's been our go-to competition guy, showing up each year at the office to sort entries as early as mid February. Jay is super organized and brings a healthy appreciation for packing materials and isn't afraid to use the leftovers for improvisational science fiction costume-wear.
(Jay donning his bottle sorting, bubble-wrap "armor".)
The competition would also be impossible without the help of Ric Quental, who oversees all of the entry data (with the help of volunteers, including his wife, Leslie). And also the mighty Gene Spaziani, the competition's judging coordinator, who oversees our roster of experienced wine judges.
(Ric Quental and his wife Leslie in the competition data room)
But the competition – ahh that was such a long time ago already! Since then we went to Lesburg, Virginia and had an amazing time at the 2014 WineMaker Magazine Conference, too!
(Hanging with Tim Vandergrift at Saturday night's awards dinner after the medals were handed out.)
As WM Author (and frequent conference speaker) Bob Peak said in his recent "Bob's World of Wine" blog, "I was surprised as anyone when WineMaker publisher Brad Ring selected Virginia for the 2014 WineMaker Magazine Conference." Since WineMaker is headquartered in Vermont, I was selfishly pleased that I didn't have to spend my day in a plane/airport combination crossing the country this year (I'm a bad flyer). But as it turns out it was even more pleasing to discover the world of Virginia wines. As I've said before in my blog, I love Viognier, and Virginia has some really fantastic examples. The highlight of the week for me was a beautiful night for our annual Friday night wine swap and tasting party out on the patio of the Landsdowne hotel and resort.
(Friday night tasting party photo fun.)
Since we got home from our trips, it's been work work work. We've had some great stories in the magazine this summer, including Tim Vandergrift's piece in the August-September issue on kegging your wine. It seems like a great alternative to bottling (which is a lot of work if you make a lot of wine). Kegging is a great way to reduce oxidation and you don't have to worry about any wine getting "corked." Tim followed up on his story with a blog post about the dispensing side of kegging - which was actually in response to a reader letter.
I hope all you winemakers had a great summer. Harvest is in full swing in lots of places — are you picking any grapes? Did you make any country fruit wines? Post photos of what you did on your summer vacation or what's going on in the vineyard right now on the WineMaker Facebook page or tweet them to us.
Happy harvest, everyone — don't forget to take time out for some bubbles!