Monday, March 9, 2009

The Wizard of Wine

In our never-ending quest to discover the culinary treasures of Lancaster County, Carl and I visited the new tasting room at Tamanend Winery. This winery is named in honor of the Chief of the Delaware Tribe of Indians, who signed a treaty with William Penn for land that became Penn's Woods, or Pennsylvania.

Never judge a book by its cover: Although the setting of the winery is based across the street from a Mercedes dealer, the tasting room inside, with Kate Albert as our guide, soon made you forget those cars!

We learned about their Wild Wines first. Named after Pennsylvania wildflowers, these have labels that picture scenes photographed by the owners – some in their own backyard. These wines are sold in a bag-in-box, a method becoming more popular –because it limits the amount of wine that is exposed to oxygen, thereby extending the “life” of the wine.
The premium wine labels are beautiful too – and truly works of art. They are taken from original paintings by Suk Shuglie. All the wines are made from Pennsylvania grapes – with the exception of their Torosa Zinfandel and the Trop, a dessert wine made from the same California zinfandel grapes. Ironically, these were my two favorites - what can I say, I’m a California red girl at heart. All their wines tended to be more on the dry side (yeah!) with a nice clean finish. Yummy.

It was about that time that we met Dr. Richard Carey. He owns the winery with his wife, Linda Jones McKee, and also runs the Vitis Wine Center that services the mid-Atlantic region. Say you own a vineyard and something goes wrong along the way….perhaps your wine has too much alcohol, or you just can’t figure out what went awry. This Wine Wizard helps you figure out the problem – and correct it. He says, “Wine is half science and half art and the trouble is that we don’t know which is which!” We think his love of both science and art are apparent in his wines…Here’s a picture of him in his lab.
We got a peek at a machine that helps him – it looked to be right out of the Wizard of Oz – full of dials and controls…I thought I heard a faint voice in the background saying “don’t touch those dials” ….but maybe that was the wine talking.

There's a new research project that he’s trying – storing wine in big white plastic “tubs” instead of the traditional French or American oak barrels. The plastic allows the same amount of oxygen exchange as the oak, but lasts 20 years, instead of 3. (Wow, very green indeed.) It also provides a better barrier for temperature fluctuations. I never knew I liked science so much!

We hope to have Tamenand on one of our Lancaster County Tours later this year, so stay tuned for details.

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