Monday, April 22, 2013

At the Fifth Annual Drink Local Wine Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Ed Boyce and Sarah O’Herron, Black Ankle Vineyards, Maryland

The 5th annual Drink Local Wine Conference in Baltimore in Maryland (May 14, 2013) was a day about Maryland wine. Interesting panel discussions in the morning were followed by a luncheon with Maryland wines and a grand tasting featuring the wines of Maryland’s top winemakers in the afternoon.

Picture: At the Tremont Hotel

Thanks to Kevin Atticks, Executive Director of the Maryland Wineries Association along with Marketing Director Briana Berg and Events Director Jade Ostner, for an outstanding conference.

Wine in the USA

The USA has become the 4th largest wine producing country in the world, after France, Italy, and Spain (and the largest wine consuming country in the world). Wine is now produced in all 50 States, with California, Washington State and Oregon leading the way. However, some states outside the Northwest do not grow vitis vinifera grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay easily, and some wineries in the smaller wine-producing states buy juice or grapes from other states. For reviews of wines from all 50 states go to here for an excellent Time Magazine article.

Wine in Maryland

Blue crabs are iconic in Maryland (see below), but few wine/food aficionados know premium wines from Marylandof. In fact, Maryland has long had the reputation of being a mediocre wine producer. But Maryland winemakers are successfully changing that. Increasingly, winemakers in Maryland are moving away from fruit wines and non-European grape varieties that have long plagued the East Coast to produce wines that can compete with the best wines in the world.

Picture: Map of Maryland

As Drew Baker of Old Westminster Winery explained to Frank Morgan, a popular wine blogger, “Maryland has great potential and I believe that the quality bar is rising quickly. Soon, poorly made wines will be the exception in an otherwise great region.” Old Westminster Winery, led by the three siblings Drew, Lisa, and Ashli, who manage the vineyard, winemaking, and marketing, respectively, has not yet released any wines, but is already generating a buzz. Other promising newcomers include Black Ankle, Slack, Sugar Loaf Mountain and Port of Leonardtown. Add to that the Maryland classics Boordy, Basignani and Elk Run, to name a few.

Maryland’s modern wine history dates to the 1970s, but grapes have been planted in the area since the 17th century. Most of the state’s 60 plus wineries are in the Piedmont Plateau in central Maryland, but grapes also thrive in the Eastern Shore, Southern Plain, and Western Mountains: (1) A majority of the state’ vineyards are planted in Piedmont Plateau in central Maryland. (2) The Chesapeake Bay has always been among my favorite regions, but the Eastern Shore is also a fantastic growing region. The soil is sandy and well-drained, and the climate is moderated/protected by the water, perfect for warm days and cool nights. (3) In the Southern Plain in southern Maryland it can get rather hot. And stay hot during the night. Barbera, Sangiovese, and Chardonnay dominate. (4) Western Maryland is mountainous, and while there are only two wineries, there’s a number of vineyards.

Maryland Blue Crabs

Last year in May, wine guru and Maryland resident Robert J. Parker tweeted: “Maryland’s greatest culinary delicacy – blue channel soft-shelled crabs are starting to arrive … lightly floured and sautéed in butter.” Maryland – with the large Chesapeake Bay – is indeed blessed with Blue Crabs which came in different forms, when you eat them at a Crab Shack. Unfortunately, Maryland’s delicious seafood was on the backburner during the conference.

The blue crab is a crustacean found in the waters of the western Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Coast of Central America and the Gulf of Mexico. Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs undergo a seasonal migration; after mating, the female crab travels to the southern portion of the Chesapeake, fertilizing her eggs with sperm stored up from the last mating months or almost a year later. In November or December, the female crab releases her eggs. The crabs hatch in a larval form and float in the mouth of the bay for four to five weeks, then the juvenile crabs make their way back up into the bay.

Four Ways to Eat Chesapeake Blue Crabs

Hard Shell Blue Crabs

Blue crabs are most often eaten in the hard shell. Steaming them in large pots with water, vinegar and seasoning is the norm on the East coast. You need the whole experience: the smell of steamed crabs in the air, a pile of large steamed blue crabs covered with Old Bay Seasoning, ready to be cracked with wooden mallets, accompanied by corn on the cob, plus a roll of paper towels and a metal bucket for tossing the empty shells.

Picture: Hard Shell Blue Crabs

Soft Shell Crabs

The Chesapeake Bay is famous for its soft-shell blue crabs. As crabs grow larger, their shells cannot expand, so they molt the exteriors and have a soft covering for a matter of days when they are vulnerable and considered usable. Crabs caught just after molting are prepared as soft shell crabs: first cutting out the gills, face, and guts; the crab is then battered in flour, egg, and seasoning, then fried in oil until crispy. The entire crab is consumed, legs and all.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller eating Soft Shell Crabs

Crab Cake

Crab cakes is another delicacy. Crab Cakes are basically Hamburgers made out of crab meat. We ate it recently as a starter with tomatoes and avocado on the side.

Picture: Maryland Crab Cake

See more:
Wine and Crab Cakes: Amy Brandwein from Casa Nonna and Chris Clime from PassionFish win the 6th Annual Crab Cake Competition in Washington DC, USA 

Maryland Crab Soup

Usually I start my crab dinner with a Maryland Crab Soup. This is a kind of an Italian Minestrone with crab meat.

Pictures: Annette Schiller, Ombiasy PR and Wine Tours, eating Maryland Crab Soup

See more:
Maryland Crabs and Wine
Schiller's World of Seafood

Drink Local Wine 2013: The Panel Sessions

About 150 bloggers, journalists and wine lovers attended the conference.

Picture: At the Tremont Hotel

Session I 9:00 am – 9:45 am: Creating Maryland’s Wine Identity (Tremont Hotel)

Moderator: Carlo DeVito, author of East Coast Wineries: A Complete Guide from Maine to Virginia published by Rutgers University Press.

Panelists: Robert Deford, owner, Boordy Vineyards; Marguerite Thomas, author, Touring East Coast Wine Country;  Dr. Joe Fiola, Cooperative Extension, College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, University of Maryland.

This session took a look at Maryland’s wine industry. Dr. Fiola believes that the future of the Maryland wines lies with the Bordeaux varieties, Chambourcin, Chardonnay, Barbera, Sauvignon Blanc and Albarino.

Session II 10:00 am – 10:45 am: Drinking Local (Tremont Hotel)

Moderator: Dave McIntyre, Washington Post wine columnist, Drink Local Wine co-founder.

Panelists: Jerry Pellegrino, chef, Waterfront Kitchen; Jade Ostner, Director of Events, Maryland Wineries Association; Al Spoler, co-host, Cellar Notes/Radio Kitchen, WYPR Radio.

Do Marylanders appreciate their home-grown wine, and if not, how to get the message out.

Session III 11:00 – 11:45 am: Maryland’s New Guard (Tremont Hotel)

Moderator: Kevin Atticks, executive director, Maryland Wineries Association.

Panelists: Ed Boyce, founder, Black Ankle Vineyards; Tom Shelton, owner and winemaker, Bordeleau Vineyards & Winery; Dave Collins, co-owner, Big Cork Vineyards.

Lunch 12:00 – 1:15 pm

Session IV 1:30 – 2:15 pm: Tasting Maryland’s Future (Tremont Hotel)

Moderator: Joseph A. Fiola, Ph.D, Specialist in Viticulture and Small Fruit, University of Maryland Extension

Dr. Fiola’s viticulture and enology program concentrates testing the varieties imported from the fine winegrowing areas of the word that have climates similar to the diverse regional climates of Maryland.

He poured three pairs of wines: two whites, two reds, and two dessert wines that are made from grapes he has been conducting research trials with.

Grand Tasting of Maryland Wines and Twitter Taste-off

Grand Tasting of Maryland Wines and Twitter Taste-off: 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm (The Warehouse at Camden Yards)

Picture: At The Warehouse at Camden Yards

The Twitter Taste-Off was the grand finale of the DLW Conference. Held at The Warehouse at Camden Yards, it featured 20 Maryland wineries. 425 wine enthusiasts, vintners and bloggers came to taste Maryland wines and learn more about the local industry.

“Of course, Drink Local Wines is always a social media event and our tweets and updates quickly became the leading trend on Twitter — above even Tiger Woods and his two-stroke penalty at the Masters or Kobe Bryant’s ruptured Achilles tendon,” writes co-founder Dave McIntyre on his blog.  “We realized something was happening when advertisements began popping up on #dlw13 and #mdwine.”

Twitter Taste-off Winners

The winners were:

White: Black Ankle for its 2011 Albarino

Picture: Sarah O’Herron and Ed Boyce, Black Ankle

Red: Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyards for its 2010 EVOE, a Bordeaux-style blend

Picture: Annette Schiller, wine tours by ombiasy, and Michael McGarry, Sugar Loaf Vineyard, Co-Owner

Other: Millstone Cellars for its Ciderberry, a tasty cider made of Rome Beauty and Stayman Winesap apples and flavored with raspberries.

Drink Local Wine Conferences: 2009 to 20013

The Drink Local Wine goal is to spotlight wine made in the 47 states and Canada that aren't California, Washington, and Oregon. It's the brainchild of Washington Post wine columnist Dave McIntyre and wine blogger Jeff Siegel, the Wine Curmudgeon. The current president is  Michael Wangbickler (Through the Bunghole).

So far, 5 annual conferences have taken place:

in Dallas featuring Texas wine in 2009,
in Loudoun County featuring Virginia wine in 2010,
in St. Louis featuring Missouri wine in 2011, 
in Denver featuring Colorado wine in 2012, and
in Baltimore featuring Maryland wine in 2013.

This was my third DLW conference; I participated in the Virginia and Missouri conferences and have written about them on schiller-wine.

For Virginia, see:
The 2010 DrinkLocalWine Conference in Virginia, US

For Missouri, see:
Drink Local Wine Conference 2011 in St. Louis: The World of Missouri Wine
Wine Producer Missouri – Once a Major Force in the US Wine Market, Then Non-existant and Now on a Rebound with French American Hybrid Grapes

1 comment:

  1. I missed this..but I'm a Big Fan of Maryland wines - no surprise on Black Ankle doing well!