Monthly Archives: February 2013

North Fork couple launch Kickstarter campaign to plant ‘weird’ grapes

Southold-mainThe owners of a new vineyard on the North Fork of Long Island have launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund their first plantings — an acre of what owner Regan Meador calls “weird grapes.”

The grape variety being considered by Southold Farm & Cellar is Teroldego, a red Italian variety grown primarily in the northeastern region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Süditrol, Italy.

They’ve called their Kickstarter campaign, “Bring Weird Grapes to the North Fork.”

Just three days after launching their campaign Meador and, his wife Carey (nee O’Connor) have pledges for  a third of the $15,000 they are trying to raise. The crowd-funding campaign seeks contributions of as little as $1.

Meador estimated the cost of planting one acre of grapes at $15,000, excluding land costs, with another $5,000 a year per acre, to keep the vines growing.

The couple turned to Kickstarter, because they have a friend who had success “funding everything.”

Regan and Carey Meador

Regan and Carey Meadow

The Meadors, both 33, combined their savings with money from relatives last year for their $800,000 purchase of a 23.7-acre one-time vineyard from Leucadia National Corp. Since then, they’ve been busy restoring a house on the property they’ve dubbed Southold Farm & Cellar.  They’ve also prepared the vineyard for planting. Prior to the farm’s sale to Leucadia in 2006 the property was known as Charles John Family Vineyard.  Leucadia pulled out all the vines on the site on County Road 48 and Horton’s Lane.

Meador, who has no formal wine making training, has taken courses from the University of California-Davis and has been apprenticing as an assistant wine marker with Adam Suprenant at Osprey’s Dominion in Southold.  The couple moved to the North Fork from New York City in June 2011.  Before turning to wine, Meador was a planner at the New York City advertising agency, Euro RSCG, where he worked on campaigns for Heineken and Dos Equis beers.

He said the couple considered other places to start a vineyard, including Texas’ Hill Country, where he grew up. But moving to the North Fork, where Carey Meador grew up and where her parents still live “made the most sense,” he said.

Meador admits that planting a grape that few have experience with is “a shot in the dark,” but he said he hopes that this will distinguish Southold Farm & Cellar from the dozens of other wine producers in the region. “It’s an intriguing grape,” he said, noting that he’s tasted wines from the Finger Lakes made with Teroldego. For the future, he’s considering plantings of Syrah, Lagrein, Goldmuskateller, Albariño and Marsanne.

Meador’s interest in “weird” grapes isn’t so far fetched.  He said growers on Long Island’s East End, particularly Channings Daughters in Bridgehampton, have experimented successfully with a range of grape varieties beyond the region’s workhorses, merlot and chardonnay. He hopes to get young vines from a California nursery into the ground this spring.

In addition to Channing’s plantings of such less popular varieties as Lagrein, Pinot Grigio, Tocai Friulano, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Ottonel, Malvasia, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Bianco, Blaufrankish Dornfelder, Teroldego and Refosco. Palmer Vineyards in Riverhead has a patch of Albariño grapes, Paumanok VIneyards in Aquebogue has plantings of Chenin Blanc Pugliese Vineyards in Cutchogue grows Sangiovese.

The Meadors plan to take it slowly.  Their initial goal is to plant just seven of their 23 acres of grapes and, possibly, later add an orchard with heirloom apples trees to eventually make cider.

Meador said he hopes to brand his business by making wines that offer different tastes and textures from what is typically available on the North Fork. He said he also intends to take some cues from Brooklyn’s Red Hook Winery, which has produced an eclectic variety of wines using Long Island grapes.

Ultimately, Meador said, he wants to build his own winery, but the foreseeable future, he said, he’ll contract produce elsewhere. He said he might purchase Cabernet Cranc for a Chinon-style wine and, perhaps, Sauvignon Blanc, next harvest “to get the ball rolling.”

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Czech Budvar launches unfiltered, unpasteurized lager; US won’t see any

Czech Brewer Budweiser Budvar has announced plans to market an unfiltered, unpasteurized version of its classic pilsner beer in the UK. The beer, also on sale in the Czech Republic, is a draft-only product.

Czechvar_Logo_4480American fans of Budvar, marketed in the U.S. as Czechvar, however, won’t be seeing any of the new Budvar Yeast Lager on this side of the Atlantic.

Budvar’s Yeast Lager was designed to take drinkers a major step nearer to Budvar’s ultimate goal of making their beers taste in the bar as pristine as though they have just been drawn in the brewery cellars, Adam Broz, Budweiser Budvar’s brew-master, said in a press release.

Budvar’s yeast beer is brewed using the same 100-day cycle as the brewer’s original beer and using whole Saaz hops, malt from barley grown in the Hana valley in Moravia, a strain of yeast resident at the brewery since 1895 and a water of celebrated purity from an ice age lake located 30 meters under the brewery in Southern Bohemia.

UK skeptics have said that Budvar’s unpasteurized Yeast beer would never catch on, because of alleged almost insuperable difficulties involved in handling a living product.

Indeed, Budvar’s public relations manager Petr Samec explained in an email, “It is not possible to export yeast beer into USA, because the guarantee time is only 30 days (living yeast cells are included, secondary fermentation is going on).” He said shipping the beer by air would be too expensive.

The brewery last month, shipped its first line extension to the U.S. East and West Coast, it’s dark lager.

Budweiser Budvar is called Czechvar in the U.S. because of a century-long legal dispute with its American rival, Anheuser-Busch InBev which markets Budweiser beer.

The brewers agreed in 1939 that Anheuser-Busch would have sole rights to the name Budweiser in all American territories north of Panama. But the settlement did not last as the two companies expanded exports to new markets.

Last month, a European Union court ruled in an appeal that Anheuser-Busch InBev could use the trademark “Bud” for its beers and Britain’s top court ruled that both companies can use the Budweiser name in the UK.

AB InBev is far larger than the state-owned Budvar but the Czech won 88 of 124 disputes between 2000 and 2011. It holds exclusive rights in 68 countries, mostly in Europe, preventing AB-Inbev from selling its Budweiser brand in some key markets, including Germany. When the companies do not have exclusive rights to the Budweiser brand in a country, they use slightly altered names. AB-Inbev sells its Budweiser as Bud in many European countries. Budvar sells its lager as Czechvar in the U.S.

At mid-2012, Czechvar switched U.S. importers to United States Beverage of Stamford, Conn. It had been imported since 2007 by AB-InBev, prior to the merger of A-B and InBev. Budvar said AB-InBev failed to meet sales targets.

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American craft brewers are big winners at 2013 International Brewing Awards

Beer judging session at UK's National Brewery Centre

Beer judging session at UK’s National Brewery Centre

American craft brewers once again have shown the world that they can bring home the gold – and silver and bronze – in international beer competitions.

Three U.S. breweries walked away with a combined trove of 21 medals—more than a fifth of all the medals awarde, 11 of them gold, at the International Brewing Awards 2013. The competition held earlier this month at England’s National Brewery Centre in Burton-upon-Trent.

roundLogoMedals went to 96 beers and ciders – just under 10 percent of the more than 1,000 beers and ciders entered, said Ruth Evans, director of the competition organizers, Brewing Technology Services. Beers and ciders were submitted from more than 45 countries by a broad spectrum of producers from regional micro-brewers to multi-national companies.

Boston Beer Co.’s Samuel Adams led the pack with nine medals, including four gold; Deschutes Brewing Co., of Bend, Ore., won five including three gold; Sierra Nevada Brewing, of Chico, Calif., took three medals two of them gold; Bridgeport Brewing, of Portland, Ore., won two silver; Kona Brewing won a gold and Alaskan Brewing, a single bronze.

America brewers have won an increasing number of medals in each succeeding IBA competition. Boston Beer Co. Sierra Nevada and Deschutes also were winners in 2011, when American brewers took home nine medals, five of them gold.

bottledetaillargecream--en--e641e338-b600-482f-a138-347ab1928330Sam Adams Cream Stout won gold in the dark beer category and silver in the bottled ale category. Sam Adams also was recognized for gold with its Cinder Bock, White Lantern, Black Brew and Latitude 48. The brewer’s other silver winners were Third Voyage and Double Agent IPL. Utopias 2012 was a bronze winner.

OBS_ovalDeschutes’ won gold with its Obsidian Stout, Mirror Pond Pale Ale, and Inversion IPA; silver with its Black Butte Porter and bronze for its Northwest Pale Ale – Red Chair NWPA, Deschutes Brewery.

palealeSierra Nevada Pale Ale won a gold for the keg version and bronze for the bottled version. Sierra Nevada’s Narwhal Imperial Stout was a gold medalist.

Bridgeport won silver medals for its IPA and its Ebenezer Ale.

Kona’s Big Wave Golden Ale was a gold medal winner, while bronze went to Alaskan Smoked Porter.

The awards will be presented on April 24 at Guild Hall in London, when the overall championship winners of the competition will be announced. The complete list of winners is available at the competition’s web site.

Perhaps less known in the U.S. as other competitions, such as the World Beer Cup, the International Brewing Awards have been around for more than a century. They date to 1886 and long were known as the United Kingdom Bottled and Draught, European and Commonwealth Beer Competitions. Until 1987 European and Commonwealth brewers were allowed to enter only bottled beers. The biennial competition was suspended in for six years, beginning in 2005, and revived in 2011 with new rules to reflect the changing industry landscape.

The competition, judged by professional brewers, was organized by Awards, Brewing Technology Services Ltd (BTS), which is owned by Brewing, Food & Beverage Industry Suppliers’ Association.

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James Beard Foundation lists wine, beer and spirits pro award semifinalists

Who’s the top wine, spirits or beer professional in the country?

You’ll find them among The James Beard Foundation’s 2013 list of semifinalists for its annual award, the nation’s most prestigious recognition program honoring professionals in the food and beverage industries.

Finalists will be announced March 18 and the award will be presented on May 6 at Avery Fisher Hall at New York City’s Lincoln Center.

award-largeThe James Beard Foundation is a New York City-based foodies’ organization, named for the late cookbook author, educator and champion ofAmerican cuisine.  The Beard Foundation offers a variety of events and programs designed to educate, inspire, entertain, and foster a deeper understanding of American  culinary culture.

The list of semi-finalists, in alphabetical order:

The 2012 award winner in the category was Paul Greico, owner of Terroir Wine Bar in New York City.

The nominations were derived from  an online open call for entries that began in mid-October. This year, more than 44,000 entries were received, a list which the foundation’s restaurant and chef committee reviews to determine eligibility and regional representation. Based on the results and eligibility requirements for each award, the committee then produces a nominating ballot that lists the semifinalists in each of the 20 restaurant and chef awards categories, which include outstanding wine, spirits, or beer professional. The list of semifinalist nominees is then sent to an independent volunteer panel of more than 600 judges from across the country. This panel, which includes  leading regional restaurant critics, food and wine editors, culinary educators, and past James Beard Foundation winners, votes on specific award categories to determine  final five nominees in each category. The same judges then vote on these five nominees to select the winners. The governing awards committee, board of trustees, and staff of the James Beard Foundation do not vote, and the results are kept confidential until the presentation of winners on  May 6.

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Italian beer importers seek to resurrect UK’s Thomas Hardy’s Ale, again

1968 bottle of Hardy's

1968 bottle of Hardy’s

Thomas Hardy’s Ale, considered by some to be among the world’s greatest beers and not brewed since 2008 may return to production.

Established in 1968 by the now-shuttered Eldridge Pope Brewery in Dorchester, the brand and its recipe now are in the hands of Brew Invest Spa, an Italian holding company owned brothers Sandro and Michele Vecchiato, who have various beer import, export and distribution interests.

Thomas Hardy’s was created by Eldridge Pope to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the death of writer Thomas Hardy, author of “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” and other important novels. In his “The Trumpet Major,” Hardy wrote of a strong Dorchester beer, defining it as ““of the most beautiful colour that the eye of an artist in beer could desire; full in body, yet brisk as a volcano; piquant, yet without a twang; luminous as an autumn sunset; free from streakiness of taste; but, finally rather heady.”

Roger Prost, a dean among British beer writers, described it in a 2004 column as among the “30 English Ales You Must Have Before You Die.”

High in alcohol and full-bodied with lingering flavors, Thomas Hardy’s Ale proved that could improve with age and be kept for up to 25 years. Brewed only once a year and left to mature in oak casks, the ale was bottled in individually numbered bottles with gold foil tops and labeled according to vintage.

A 2007 bottle of Hardy's

2007 bottle of Hardy’s

Eldridge Pope continued production of the brew until 1999, when the company got out of the brewing business. Subsequently, American importer George Saxon, of Phoenix Imports, bought the brand and licensed production to the UK’s O’Hanlon Brewing, of Devon. O’Hanlon, citing time and costs, stopped production in 2008. Brew Invest acquired the brand earlier this year. Saxon, who also  created the Belgian beer brand Corsendonk, sold that brand in 2010 to St. Killian Importing.

Brew Invest recently launched a new Thomas Hardy’s web site, but apparently hasn’t found a brewery to make the beer. According to the web site: “The march towards production proceeds apace, and the brewers are currently looking into the optimum location for this special product.”

Matteo Zamboni of Brew Invest said in an email, “We are close to find [sic] the English brewery for producing Thomas Hardy’s again in the UK.” As for a U.S. distributor, he added, “We are looking for the world’s best importgers, but nothing is yet official.”



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Cider makers form national trade group

America’s hard cider makers are banding together.

A group of cider makers meeting last week in Chicago announced the formation of the United States Association of Cider Makers (USACM)

The group’s mission, according to a statement, is to gather and share information about cider and perry production, regulations concerning the production of hard cider and perry (pear cider), and pear and apple growing; as well as to help members improve their operations, raise the public’s awareness of the products produced by its members, and promote the interests of the cider and perry producers in the United States.

The association’s formation comes as U.S. sales of hard cider are exploding, growing at double-digit annual rates and cider makers are attempting to obtain federal standards for cider making

Brad Page, founder and owner of the Denver-based Colorado Cider Co., says about 100 cider making companies attended the industry conference at which the association was established, “I’d think there might be upwards of 150 and growing fast,” he added in a email.

In addition to Page, the association’s inaugural board of directors, which reflects the industry’s diversity of regional distribution, production volume, and growth, include:

Greg Hall, co-founder and former brewmaster at Chicago’s Goose Island Beer Co.  and now the owner of Chicago-based Virtue Cider, said in a statement: “I started out in the craft beer industry in the 1980s, and as a craft brewer for 25 years it is thrilling to be here at the dawn of the USACM. There are so many similarities between cider now and craft beer in the 80s, beginning with the passion of the people leading this effort.”

The meeting to form this new organization preceded the annual CiderCon  industry trade show in Chicago and Cider Summit,  a consumer tasting event.

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