Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Texas, Virginia, Missouri, Colorado …. Maryland: Drink Local Wine Conference 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Picture: Maryland Wineries Association (MWA)

Drink Local Wine will hold its fifth annual conference April 13, 2013 in Baltimore, focusing on Maryland wine. The state’s industry is one of the fastest growing in the country, and its 61 wineries are almost 50 percent more than in 2010.

The state’s four growing regions allow it to produce a variety of wines, including the classic European varietals but also some that are distinctly New World in style. The Maryland Wineries Association is the conference’s primary sponsor.

“We’re growing a world of wine styles and varieties throughout Maryland, and we’re excited to share them through Drink Local Wine,” says Kevin Atticks, the Maryland Wine Association’s executive director.

DLW 2013 will include a Grand Tasting of Maryland Wines and Twitter Taste-off, featuring two dozen of the state’s best wineries, on April 13, plus three seminars featuring some of the top names in Maryland wine.

For more information and to register go here or here.

A Bunch of History

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 wineries are in the Piedmont Plateau in central Maryland, but grapes also thrive in the Eastern Shore, Southern Plain, and Western Mountains.

Grapes have been grown in Maryland since 1648, but not even John Adlum – one of our earliest growers who became known as the “Father of American Viticulture” – would have predicted that over 90 varieties of grapes are being grown commercially in The Free State.

Picture: Maryland

Maryland’s 60+ wineries are producing incredible wines from locally-grown grapes, fruit and honey, and selling their bottles (and even bag-in-boxes, etc.) to over 1,200 wine shops and restaurants in Maryland, DC and beyond.

Maryland Blue Crabs

Of course, the focus of the 2013 Drink Local Wine Conference in Maryland will be on the exciting wines of Maryland. But I hope that I (and other conference participants) will also have a chance to taste Maryland’s delicious seafood, in particular Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab dishes. 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.

The Blue Crab

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. Male and female blue crabs can be distinguished by their "aprons", or their abdomens. Male crabs have a long, narrow apron, while mature female crabs have a wide, rounded one.

Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs

The Chesapeake Bay, located mainly in Maryland is famous for its blue crabs. 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.

The cooked crabs are cracked by hand, but most diners will use a small knife to pry the shell apart and cut the unwanted parts from the crab. The meat is pulled out and eaten directly.

Picture: Hard Shell Blue Crabs

Crab shells can be very sharp and because the interior of the crab comprises a series of compartments separated by a somewhat pliable but still sharp shell, getting the meat out is also a lot of work for the relatively small amount of edible crab meat.

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

Usually crabs must be eaten within four days of molting to be useful as soft-shell crabs. They begin to rebuild their shells after that, and when eaten, have a thin shell. These are often referred to as “papershells” or “tinbacks” and are more crunchy when eaten, making them less desirable.

This molting is highly seasonal and usually lasts from early May to July in the Chesapeake Bay. The soft shell season is longer in other regions.

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. The other fish soup I have come to like on the US East Coast is the New England Clam chowder. New England clam chowder is a milk- or cream-based chowder, traditionally made with potatoes, onion, bacon or salt pork, flour or hardtack, and clams.

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

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

There is a Wine Industry in all 50 US States

The US is the 4th largest wine producing country in the world, after France, Italy, and Spain. 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 popular vitis vinifera grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay very 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. (,9171,1837245,00.html)

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.

So far, 4 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, and
in Denver featuring Colorado wine in 2012.

This is 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

schiller-wine: Related Posting

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

In the Oldest AVA - American Viticultural Area - Augusta in Missouri

French American Hybrid Grapes - Vidal Blanc, Seyval Blanc and Others

Maryland Crabs and Wine

The 2010 DrinkLocalWine Conference in Virginia, US

Thomas Jefferson, 3. President of the United States, Visited Hochheim, Germany on April 10,1978

New Hampshire, US: Cheese ... Lobster and Oysters ... and Wine!

Wine Region: Upcoming Long Island, New York State

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

Schiller's World of Seafood

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