Hudson Valley Wines Score Big In Wine Enthusiast Magazine

Dec 27

(Ghent, NY) December 12, 2014- – In the most recent three issues (November 2014, December 2104, Top 100 Year End Issue), Wine Enthusiast magazine awarded impressive scores on more than 20 Hudson Valley wines. The wines scored high on the magazine’s 100-point scale, and proved that the Hudson Valley is continuing to emerge as a region with wines that can compete on the international wine stage.

The Hudson Valley is one of the oldest producing wine regions in the United States, and New York State is the third overall producer of wine in the U.S. But with the influx of new money, talent, and drive over the last five years, the region is growing at a fast pace, and producing a number of highly rated bright, flavorful whites, and soft, approachable reds.

Wine Enthusiast editors tasted more than 20 Hudson Valley wines that earned scores of 90-85 points consistently across seven producers. This is the first major tasting of the HRV region by any major news outlet, and helps to establish the region as a producer of fine quality wines.

“The results are thrilling,” said Hudson Valley Wine Country president Carlo DeVito. “The Hudson Valley continues to make great strides in producing great wines. We’re seeing investment, we’re seeing new talent come to the region, we’re seeing more owners bringing a much higher level game to the table, and new owners who want to make great quality wines. It’s so exciting to see the passion in the valley being acknowledged for its progress and its quality. We think this highlights what we’ve been doing here – the Hudson Valley is making wines that can compete anywhere.”

The Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, Cabernet Francs, Rieslings, and Gamay Noir and Baco Noir all scored very well, and highlight a region which produces wines that showcase great food wines that are forward fruit, and feature bright acids, medium-to-low tannins, and long finishes in a more European tradition. Hudson Valley wines can be found all across the state, and are featured in numerous stores and restaurants throughout the city.

To find out more, all the scores are available on the magazine’s website in their ratings area, and on other Hudson Valley websites such as:


The Hudson Valley is America’s oldest wine making and grape-growing region.  Less than an hour and a half from New York City, Hudson Valley wineries and wine trails offer hospitable winery tasting rooms, where consumers can often meet the owners in-person and taste award-winning wines made from classic European varieties, regional hybrids and even delicious fruit wines. The Hudson Valley features more than 40 wineries and three trails: The Dutchess Wine Trail, The Hudson-Berkshire Beverage Trail, and the Shawangunk Trail.

Second Edition of Beyond Jefferson’s Vines Published, Available on

Dec 10

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA [12-10-2014] Richard Leahy, author Beyond Jefferson’s Vines, the definitive book on Virginia wine, is pleased to announce that a second edition has been published and is now available for ordering online (ISBN-13: 978-1503394117).

Beyond Jefferson’s Vines is the complete story of wine in Virginia, from the Jamestown Settlement, to Thomas Jefferson and his vineyard at Monticello, to the thriving world-class wine industry of today. It focuses on the last decade and explains how vintners today have achieved the success Jefferson only dreamed of.

Leahy’s complete, indispensable book is a new, expanded second edition, and blends history with travelogue and basic viticulture, along with personal interviews with key industry members, to help you gain a full understanding of the subject.
The second edition has expanded by more than 60 pages or an extra 25%, explains Leahy. “There are many new wineries included in this edition, especially in Northern Virginia and Central Virginia, as well as current tasting notes including samples of the new 2014 vintage,” says Leahy. Now in paperback format, Beyond Jefferson’s Vines has both expanded in size and dropped in price by $5.00 (full retail $14.99).

“There are now 255 Virginia wineries, with 30 new one having opened just in the three years between the first and second editions of this book,” he says. “I’ve also added a new chapter on the craft beverage industry encompassing local cideries, breweries, distilleries and meaderies, and in “Additional Resources” I’ve added a glossary on leading winegrape varieties in Virginia along with a vintage guide dating back (highlights) to 1993.”

Leahy toured Virginia wineries for a week in November with the prestigious Circle of Wine Writers (he is a member), and favorable comments from other Circle tour members can be viewed here on his blog.

“In the first edition, people were saying Virginia wine was on the tipping point of critical and popular acclaim; now, the second edition makes a good case for why that has already happened,” declares Leahy.

To read reviews of the book, click here. To order online, click here.

London-Based Circle of Wine Writers Visits VA Wine Country for a Week

Nov 26

For a week in early November, the prestigious London-based Circle of Wine Writers (which included this writer) took an intensive trip across Virginia wine regions, and were impressed with what they saw. They tasted wines in Loudoun, Albemarle, Nelson and James City County as well as ciders, craft beer, mead, fruit wine and spirits in Nelson County.

Vivienne Franks MA, a Circle member who organized the 2014 trip, explains that having visited the wine regions of Virginia 15 months ago, she anticipated little change. “I was very impressed to find that even in that short time quality is improving fast. Certain grape varietals perform really well in the humid climate, particularly viognier, petit verdot and cabernet franc. The meritage blends are showing good depth and intensity too.

Toronto-based wine writer Charles Byers said “The fact that so many grape varieties are now being grown and experimented with [in Virginia] shows the commitment that these persons have to their trade,” commenting especially on the norton grape; “I had never heard of norton as a grape variety and was impressed that it was this grape that really spearheaded the  wine revolution, so to speak, in Virginia. It also impressed upon me of what can be done a native grape cultivar if careful selection is used.

Tanya Mann, a native Russian and naturalized Briton, declares “Virginia has created its own way and I would say Virginia could be a prototype for the Integrated Wine World with a huge variety of grapes for different wines. Winemakers from around the world bring a piece of their culture in the development of Virginia’s wine industry…Give Virginia five years and it will take pride of place on the global wine scene and undoubtedly win in international competitions.

The Circle had visited Virginia first in 2010, and Franks had decided to organize the annual “long haul” wine region visit for the Circle to Virginia, after reading in Beyond Jefferson’s Vines (by this author) that fine pinot noir was being grown and made here (at Ankida Ridge). This was affirmed in a visit to that winery, but in addition, we tasted viogniers, meritage blends, sauvignon blanc, vermentino, tannat, both cabernets, merlot, petit verdot, dry roses, port-style wines, a lot of ciders, and even craft beers (and very good ones at that).

Some of the most memorable and varied tasting experiences were in Nelson County, where in addition to fine wine we tasted a hopped chardonnay that drank like a New Zealand sauvignon blanc (Cardinal Point Vineyards), fine cider from Bold Rock Cidery, and expertly matched craft beer and fine food at Wild Wolf and Devil’s Backbone breweries. Some Circle members who never drink beer were converted (for that particular beer) by what they tasted there.

I’m pleased to say that the full details of the visit, complete with tasting notes, will be in the second edition of Beyond Jefferson’s Vines, with 60 more pages and 25% more material than in the first edition, complete through this writing and containing a vintage chart and major grape glossary, which will be available next month (December 2014); more details to follow soon.

Wine of the Week: Gray Ghost Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Nov 16

Because of acidic clay soils, and this grape’s need for a long growing season, it’s hard to find consistently good cabernet sauvignon in Virginia. However, in hot, dry growing seasons like 2007 and 2010, it’s worth looking around and trying Virginia’s versions of the more famous of the two cabernets.

This week it’s hats off to Al Kellert, co-owner and winemaker at Gray Ghost Vineyards in Amissville, for his fine job with the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. Most 2007 reds were a little low in the acid and flabby; not this one. The tannins ripened well and are firm; this wine could last easily until ten years of age. However, it is fruit-driven and fresh. If you visit the Gray Ghost tasting room, you may see a pair of wine cellar doors that look a lot like what you’ll see at Silver Oak, the stylistic model for cabernet at Gray Ghost.

The wine is dark, and the nose is wonderfully fresh and fragrant, bursting with black currants (cassis) with leafy herbal elements with a hint of white pepper in the background. On the palate, the wine is smooth, again dominated by pure black currants, but with firm, yet ripe tannins and a smoky finish. The alcohol is 11.9% and the oak isn’t noticeable.

If you like the sound of this wine, inquire with Gray Ghost to see if they have any 2010 or 2012 versions of varietal cabernet sauvignon, and then hold onto it for most of a decade; this one is just opening up.


Eastern Winery Expo Online Registration Open

Nov 14

Registration for the 2015 Eastern Winery Exposition (EWE), the largest trade show and conference for the wine industry on the East Coast, is now open.

Highlights of the event include:

  • Two full trade show days with 200+ Exhibitors
  • A variety of learning avenues and opportunities for both the newcomer and the veteran
  • 20 conference sessions featuring Eastern viticulture & enology, cold climate hybrids and business sessions
  • Plentiful opportunities for networking, socializing & continued learning
  • Two day-long workshops; one for new vineyards and wineries, and one for expanding vineyards and wineries
  • The Northern Grapes Symposium
  • 45+ Speakers including professionals, academics, researchers, commercial grape growers, respected consultants, and industry representatives
  • One live auction, one silent auction, all proceeds to benefit ASEV-ES scholarships
  • 18 state and industry associations offering conference registration discounts to their members
It pays to register early. Complete your registration before the end of December and you can lock in 2013 registration rates for 2015. Register within the first 48 hours to receive an additional 5% off the Two-Day Conference and Workshop+Conference passes.
Members of the 18 sponsoring industry associations receive additional discounts as a benefit of their association membership.
The complete Schedule of Events, including conference sessions, workshops, speakers, Northern Grapes Symposium, networking and social events is all available on the website at
The Eastern Winery Exposition, the premier wine industry conference and trade show for the Eastern U.S. and Canada, takes place March 17-19, 2015, at The Oncenter in Syracuse, New York. Wines & Vines is the show sponsor.
We look forward to seeing you there.

Richard Leahy Presents 7 “New and Exciting ” Wines at 2014 AWS Conference

Nov 05

The author of this blog, Richard Leahy, presented “New and Exciting Grapes and Wines for the East” on Saturday 11/1 to an audience of 80 attendees of the American Wine Society at their annual conference in Charlotte/Concord, NC.

My aim was to showcase excellent wines made from grapes new to the East as well as to new interpretations of existing grapes to the region.

Here is a list of these carefully selected wines and the producer wineries:

Winery State Wine Vintage
Rockbridge VA Blanc de Pinot Noir 2013
Stinson VA Tannat 2011
Cream Ridge Winery NJ Chambourcin Reserve 2010
Galen Glenn PA Grüner Vetliner 2013
Channing Daughters NY-LI Blaufränkisch/Lemberger 2012
Loving Cup VA Marqette/Corot Noir blend 2012
Granite Heights VA Petit Manseng 2013

The audience was enthusiastic about the tasting  with many positive comments on the wines. To view the detailed powerpoint presentation given at the talk, click on

Wine of the Week: Stone Mountain Malbec 2011, Monticello

Oct 28

I’m pleased to be able to recommend a rare varietal Virginia malbec as the Wine of the Week, especially since it was from the difficult 2011 vintage and drinks as if that year had no problems. Stone Mountain Vineyards high in the hills of Greene County just released this wine this last weekend at its fall festival.

Those of you who like malbec from Argentina but are bored with its frequently ho-hum, lackluster style will be impressed by this stylish and elegant wine which was four years in barrel. On the nose, perfumed briar berries with hints of lilac and a bit of sandlewood and spice, all good markers for varietal malbec. On the palate, the wine is smooth and fruit-driven, with fresh briar fruits and round clean finish. A light style red that reflects the vintage, and has more in common with blaufrankisch/lemberger than big reserve Argentinian malbecs, but a very nice representation for Virginia.