Sunday, August 14, 2011


August 14th is a pretty special day around here for me.  Eighteen years ago my wife Kris decided that there was something about me that made her think she could spend the rest of her life with me and that I might somehow be the right person.  Even though there have been numerous times when I have shown her otherwise, she has stuck by me this whole time.  We have two wonderful boys, and I love her more each day.

Ten years ago today was the first time I spent the day away from her.  This day in 2001 was the day I moved to York county to start our collective lives at Allegro.  I moved here without her, without our one-year-old son, and started this big adventure.  They joined me a few weeks later, driving back-and-forth weekly from State College initially.  That fall was the start of the biggest learning curve of my life, both personally and professionally.

The following year brought us our second son and the hardest harvest I ever had.  (There's a zombie-like picture of me from that time that even worries me.....)  The next year, my friend and mentor John passed away and we were truly out on our own.  Those were frighteningly exciting times as we both thought we knew what we were about, although hindsight proves otherwise.  Somehow we made it through, not the worse for wear.  Looking back, it seems we have been here forever, almost a lifetime.  Although it also feels like we've just started.

We're now officially at the opening of our second decade.  For businesses, that usually means your survival rate is pretty good.  Kris and I are already into our third decade with each other, so that experiment seems to be going well, too.  All in all, it's a great place to be. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Really.....? (About the Best Wines in the East.....)


Again, I knew it would happen.  I get so caught up in things, I forget about the old blog.  Even the reminders of reading other blogs isn't enough to shake the cobwebs from my brain and get my ass into gear.

Of course, it always helps having something to say, and those of you who know me realize there's never a lack for that.  I always wanted to be one of those guys who would look pensively when posed a question and slowly respond with a thoughtful and insightful answer.  But it's just not me.  Do you think those thoughtful guys wish they had the guts to turn off the filter between brain and mouth like I do?  Perhaps....

So, a week or so ago, I had the opportunity to taste a few dozen of some of the best reds the Right coast has to offer.  The tasting ran the gamut of Pinot Noir to Syrah to Bordeaux blends (my wheelhouse.)  The first thing that hit me was that ten years ago this would not have been possible.  The quality level was sky-high, and it blew me away. 

Now, you all know that we're out here in Brogue, and it tends to be a bit insular and isolated out here.  It's easy to start to think that we're the center of the universe as no one comes out to tell us otherwise.  But these other winemakers brought their A-game, and some crazy-good wines.

Now, I've always been a believer that hard work will get you what you want.  As I have gotten older, I've realized that it helps to have some capital, some talent, and some luck.  Lucky for us, two out three ain't bad.  Some of the wines being made (in PA, MD, and VA) are the synthesis of all four of these strengths, and they are dynamite.  When I first started making wine in PA, people asked me why I chose PA.  The obvious reason is that my wife wouldn't move to Idaho with me....ok, not quite true, but I think you get it.

Secretly, though, I realized I liked being a sizeable fish in a small--yet growing--pond.  What this past tasting made me realize is that the amount of big fish out there is growing, and it's frightening (in a good way.)  The wines are benefiting from better viticulture, better plant material, and more experience making wines in this area.  But perhaps most of all, they are benefiting from being made in this small pond.

Most of the people around the table were familiar faces, and I have the extraordinary honor of calling some of them my friends.  It's this community that allows for the sharing of successes and failures that has brought our wine quality to the level where it is today.  Think of it as a Jungian subconscious that we all share in...or perhaps it's more modern equivalent, Wikipedia, the information source we all share and modify.

How many winemakers does it take to make wine?  One.....but how many does it take to make a great wine?  A whole boatload.