Richard Leahy Now Contributing to Crushpad’s Wine Blog

Dec 15

Crushpad, an iconic custom crush winery in Sonoma County north of San Francisco, has hired a number of wine writers for their blog  at www.crushpadwine/, and their first stories have been posted.

The featured writers for the blog include an eclectic range of well-established wine writers, and they write on a wide range of topics.  Writers include: W. Blake Gray, author of “California Winetopia”; Liz Willette, a partner in Grand Cru, a fine wine importer and distributor; Ashton Keefe, Owner/Executive Chef of Ashton Keefe LLC. Culinary Lifestyle Services; Sondra Barrett, PhD, a wine and cooking maven; Ryan Callahan, General Manager of The Girl and the Fig in Sonoma; winemaker Patrick Saboe, and this author.

Willette writes on how to store wines, Barrett writes on Sonoma cuisine, Keefe tells us how to host a wine tasting party, Saboe writes on sugar levels in grapes, Callahan describes his custom crush experience at Crushpad, Gray explains the art of decanting, and I write on the relationship between wine and quality.

Also on the crushpad blog: an interview on Fox News with founder Mike Brill on how custom crush winemaking works, a podcast on “checking the fermentation bins” at the winery, links to food and wine, making your own wine, how the Crushpad model works for its clients, and food and wine travel.

The wealth of wine-related information on the blog is multi-faceted, educational, and de-mystifying.

I encourage you to visit the blog and share it with your friends learning about wine, and send us your feedback on the stories; see my new widget to the right.



Governor McDonnell Announces Revamped, Enhanced Governor’s Cup Wine Competition

Dec 14

Governor Bob McDonnell recently announced major changes to the Virginia Governor’s Cup competition that, once implemented, will make it one of the most stringent and thorough wine competitions in the United States. The revamped contest is a result of a partnership between the Virginia Wine Board (VWB), the Virginia Wineries Association (VWA), which owns and manages the competition, and the Virginia Vineyards Association (VVA).

Raising the profile of Virginia wines and winery tourism are key components of the Governor’s economic development and jobs creation initiatives. First Lady Maureen McDonnell has also incorporated the wine industry promotions into her First Lady Initiative Team Effort or FLITE.

Governor McDonnell explained  “In addition to the national and international notoriety that Virginia wines are receiving, sales of our wines reached an all-time high last year and more and more people are visiting our wineries. I believe a top notch competition to showcase our best wines is essential for maintaining this positive growth.”

As part of the enhancement, the judging of both red and white wines will be divided into preliminary and final rounds to be held in January 2012. The announcement of the Governor’s Cup award winner will be held the evening of Thursday, February 23rd in conjunction with the Virginia Wine Expo, which runs February 24-26, 2012 in Richmond.

Any wine made from 100% Virginia fruit will be eligible for the Governor’s Cup Competition. Ciders and fruit wines will have their own category and medals. Entries must include an affidavit with a certification of 100% Virginia fruit and vineyard particulars, including grower names and location, as well as information on alcohol, acidity or basicity (pH), and residual sugar.

One of the most important aspects of the revised competition will be the educational component of the judging. After the competition, regional forums for the winemakers will be held with the head judge. Notes with the judges’ blind comments will be shared with individual winemakers, so that they will get direct feedback on how their wines were received.

Jay Youmans, one of only of 31 Masters of Wine (MW) in the U.S., will be the head judge of the competition. Youmans, who is also a Certified Wine Educator (CWE) and the owner and educational director of the Capital Wine School in Washington, DC, will recruit the wine judges from the professional wine buying and wine media community.

“The new format for the Virginia Governor’s Cup will make it one of the preeminent wine competitions in the U.S today”, said Youmans. “It will become the benchmark with which all other wine shows will be measured, not simply because of the quality of the judges, or the rigorous selection process, but because of the critical feedback given to each participating winery. The competition will serve notice to the industry that Virginia is serious about producing high quality wines.”

“We are thrilled to have Jay Youmans MW lead the judging of this competition, elevating both the caliber of the judging process and the respect the competition receives,” said Mitzi Batterson, President, Virginia Wineries Association.

Created by the General Assembly in 1984 as part of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the VWB promotes the interests of vineyards and wineries in the Commonwealth through research, education and marketing. The Virginia Wineries Association has owned and organized the Governor’s Cup since 1982. VWA’s mission is to actively encourage and support the production, quality, promotion, and appreciation of Virginia wines. For a complete list of previous winners and further information about events, tours and tastings, please visit the Virginia Wine Marketing Office’s website at or call 804-344-8200.

Veramar Wines Earn Nine 85-89 Scores from From Wine Enthusiast in 2011

Dec 09

Veramar Vineyard now has over 9 wines that have scored 85 points or higher from Wine Enthusiast, making Veramar one of the most recognized wineries in the state of Virginia and East Coast according to winemaker Justin Bogaty. Entries rated in the 85-89 range, wines that earns a score in this range are described as “very good: a wine with special qualities.”  From the ratings published in 2011 by Wine Enthusiast, winemaker Justin Bogaty, of Veramar Vineyard and Bogati Bodgea, holds 9 out of the top 26 ratings or 34% of the top rated wines for Virginia.

“These types’ of ratings validates the winery’s consistent record of excellence across the portfolio and that validates that Virginia can and does make high quality wines.” said, Justin Bogaty. The winery and Justin shows no sign of slowing down any time soon and eagerly await wine scores from the 2010 vintage. Details of the nine 85+ wines rated by Wine Enthusiast are as follows:


  • Veramar 2007 Cabernet Franc - 87 Points
  • Veramar 2008 Estate Club Merlot –  87 Points
  • Veramar 2009 Estate Club Merlot -  86 Points
  • Veramar 2009 Estate Club Ameritage – 86 Points
  • Veramar 2008 Estate Club Cabernet Sauvignon - 86 Points
  • Veramar Bogati 2009 Collection I Bordeaux-style Red - 86 Points
  • Veramar NV Tres Blanc – 85 Points
  • Veramar NV Rooster Red - 85 Points

December rankings from Wine Enthusiast also included high marks for two other Virginia wines:

Annefield Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon – 87 Points

Lovingston 2008 Josie’s Knoll Estate Reserve, Monticello - 89 Points

Veramar Vineyard owner Jim Bogaty said, “My goal is to grow wine grapes and produce wines that support Virginia as a leading agricultural wine region. Veramar Wines are locally grown and produced and are known internationally. All The Veramar wines, like Virginia, are great but also have the potential to be even greater”.

Located less than an hour from Washington, DC, Veramar Vineyards’ one hundred acre estate is at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Northern Virginia winery in Berryville Virginia and tasting room is open daily from Noon until 5 pm. For more information visit or call 540-955-5510