Thursday, November 18, 2010

Brook Hollow Winery

The fruits lined the walkway of the barn. Crafts were on both sides; one woman sat at a cash register.

"Don't -" Click-Flash "-use a camera in here!" She said, remarkably patiently. I spawned a guilty grimace. "He doesn't like it. The flash. Ever since he was born, lightning storms, flashes from the TV, sets him off." She pointed to a sleeping dog on the other side of the room. "I don't think he saw it, so you're alright."

I apologized and promised to keep the indoor photos to a minimum. Jonaid and I continued back to the tasting room of Brook Hollow Winery.

"We'd like to do a tasting," I said to the man standing over the table of Christmas stockings. Since the main bar was occupied by a group, he cleared the stockings and set us up there. A woman who was arranging them noted she could never start too early preparing for Christmas. 

Soon I learned the man's name was Paul and he was the winemaker. He did not own the farm but leased the land for the grapes. The winery has been in business for only a few years. "We don't do festivals, so the only place you'll find us is right here," he explained. 
"What got you started on this?" I asked.
He laughed. "I drink a lot."
"At some point I guess it just becomes economical to open your own shop," I countered. 

We began the tasting. For $3 you try all the wines and keep the glass. All grapes are grown on site unless otherwise noted.

White Wines - all aged in stainless steel
Cayuga White - Very dry, but too acidic for me.
Arctic Spirit - A blend of Cayuga and Chardonnay. The chardonnay definitely reduced the acidity to make it more smooth, so I enjoyed this more but it still wasn't to my taste.The sales of both this and the red Howling Timbers supports the Lakota Wolf Preserve. When I asked why, Paul explained it is a good cause for remarkable animals.
Sweet Gewurztraminer - The grapes from this are from California. The sweet flavor was noticeable, but Paul explained it may falsely taste excessively sweet because the prior two pours were so dry. 

At this point another Paul, hereby noted Paul^2, took over the show. Even though he became our pourer the room was still filled with Paul, Paul's daughter, and another woman. The conversation was back and forth about football, cameras, yard sales, and much more. More chat about the Steelers, some Blahblah about the Jets... Paul^2 got a SLR digital camera body for $10 at a yard sale... Me seething in jealousy over that... The usual.

Red Wines
Howling Timbers - Supports the Lakota Wolf Preserve. This blend of Chancellor and Chambourcin has a unique flavor that is both peppery and buttery.
Brook Hollow Red - A cab & merlot blend that is very tannic and smooth. Similar to the last winery these were aged in stainless steel with oak chips added.
Merlot - Lately I've been revising the reputation merlot has with me. The flavor was unexpectedly smoky and heavy. 
Proprietors Red RSV - What an incredible bottle of wine. The uniquely hybrid Baco Noir-Buffalo grape (which Paul explained had been tried to be commonly named multiple times but copyright laws keep this hyphenated) ages in French oak. The dominant flavors were dill, olives, and surprisingly, tobacco. Jonaid bought a bottle of this for Thanksgiving. It's been sitting on my countertop and boy have I been tempted... But I've behaved...
Chancellor - While this is very unique it wasn't to my taste. Also aged in French oak.
Chambourcin Reserve - Another French Oak. The first sip was on its own and the second was with a few morsels of chocolate. Paul^2 explained this goes nicely in a rich chocolate cake, something I've never thought of but I bet is tasty.

Fruit Wines
Cranberry - Cranberries purchased from South Jersey; this is quite tart and tastes just like cranberry juice. "Be careful - it's 13.5% ABV," Paul^2 said. I nearly spit my drink everywhere. 13.5%?!? I was incredulous. You can't taste a drop of alcohol in that ripe treat.

Paul explained there is a "wine of the week" discount chosen by Facebook users. "We make a status requesting someone name the wine of the week. The first response gets it, and we discount that wine." Pretty cool.

Despite the internet being useful for wine-of-the-week communication, I must comment the website is kind of creepy. I think it's the white base around the vines that resemble old school video game impaling spikes. Ok, that's it for the rant. 

"Did you eat your ice cream last night?" Paul's daughter, who was wearing a VA Tech shirt, asked him. "You were pretty passed out on that chair."
"Yeah... Around 1am when I stumbled awake."
"I'd thought you'd forgotten."
Paul scoffed. "Forgotten? One never forgets ice cream."
And on that note, I'll pour a bit of chambourcin over my vanilla, and pour a bit in a glass for me too. 

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