For the fourth year in a row, we headed out for a full day in what we call the “Adult Playpen”. You pay for your glass and then you are treated to a full day of unlimited wine tasting. This year there were 13 wineries participating:
- Buck Creek Winery
- Carousel Winery
- Cedar Creek Winery
- Ertel Cellars Winery
- French Lick Winery
- Harmony Winery
- Holtkamp Winery
- Indian Creek Winery
- Lanthier Winery
- The Ridge Winery
- Trader’s Point Winery
- Windy Knoll Winery
- Winzerwald Winery
On the way, we strategized our plan for the day. Start with the “must see” wineries, followed by the smaller wineries that tended to run out of stock, then the larger wineries, and finally those with whom we had recently visited.
With glasses in hand, we made a beeline for Carousel Winery. This was the winery from whom we purchased the last 3 bottles on earth of there fabulous Aglianico aged in barrels for 14 years. We knew it would be years before there would be another batch, but we were very anxious to try their new creations. We regaled them with stories of how we had savored the precious Aglianico and saved it for only the most special occasions. According to Bushmaster, “It is what Capri uses to compare any other barrel aged wines.” He’s actually not to far off on that! For our first stop, this was a most excellent choice and the only winery where we made purchases. Their Catawba was the best we tasted. Their Blackberry was full of flavor but not overly sweet and not syrupy at all. I especially liked the lighter aspect to this. Their Blueberry was also the best we’ve tasted ever. Blueberry is a hard fruit wine to get right. This one was indeed true to the fruit and delicious. Our final selection was their Shadow Dog Port. Aged 14 years in bourbon barrels, it was definitely a star!
Holtkamp was next. This was their first year at the Swiss Wine Festival. Their 2013 Robert Reserve, which was a blend of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Saugivnon, Cabernet Franc, and Petite Verdot aged in oak barrels for 14 months appealed to me. It was fantastic! We both agreed that their 2013 Sweet Marie which was a blend of Concord, Strawberry, and Watermelon was an delicious surprise. Not overly sweet but full of flavor. I’m not a Concord fan, but once again, this proves that it is important to keep an open mind when tasting. When we learned that they had other selections they had not brought with them to the festival and that they were a dog friendly winery. we postponed purchases for a visit to their winery. I’ll bet you can guess where we’ll be headed for our next road trip with the Classy Canines.
On to Cedar Creek. We both agreed that their Pom Pourri, which was a pomegranate wine was our favorite here. Bushmaster also liked their Peach Paradise.
Next up was Buck Creek. Even though this was one of our recent visits, we enjoyed their wines and didn’t want to miss a revisit. Their Pleasant View Pink which is 100% strawberries is simply amazing. I don’t think I’ve tasted a better strawberry wine.
After discussing Chambourcin with our pourer at Buck Creek, he recommended we try the two selections Lanthier had to offer. However, when we got to their table, we were disappointed to learn that they didn’t bring any to the festival. Having been to their winery before, their list for the festival was only about half of what they offer. It looks like we have another road trip in the works! Our favorites here were their lighter Strawberry Blush and their Blackberry Social. The latter was an interesting interpretation which would make it suitable for pairing with food rather than desert.
Indian Creek was the only winery we visited that did not have a paper copy of their tasting list on which I could take notes. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here is a photo of it, since I don’t remember any specifics!
Harmony’s Copper Tiger which was their Watermelon White Merlot was a huge hit with us at this stop. And then we learned that they have eight ports at their winery! Our road trip list keeps growing!
It was while we were visiting Harmony that the monsoon hit. Suddenly the wine pavilion was inundated with a huge deluge of “designated drivers”. (The only way you can get into the pavilion without paying or drinking is to declare you are a designated driver.)
We were fortunate to be able to find seats at a table and enjoy a late afternoon lunch. While visiting with others at our table, we followed their lead and I held our seats while Bushmaster was the runner with tasting samples.
I was able to enjoy two complete winery tastings with this plan. My obvious favorite from French Lick was their 2008 Norton. We both agreed that bubbly French Tickle blush would make for an excellent toasting alternative to champagne for New Years Even. Bushmaster’s favorites were their Rhuby Razz, which was a rhubarb and raspberry blend, their Blackberry, and their Just Peachy. (I guess I need to come up with a new name for the peach wine we are currently processing.)
We gave up our spot at the table to finish off with the rest of the wineries. Winzerwald with their German style wine making has always been one of my favorites, however, they had pared down their tasting list for the festival to about half of what they had brought in years past. I was disappointed that there were no real dry selections. Of the choices we had, their Schweizer Spice and their Gluhwein were at the top of my list. Bushmaster preferred the Little Rhineland White which is their Niagara and their Cherry Red with its very intense flavor.
Apparently the sweet wines wore us out. Even though it was still light out and there were three more wineries to go, we opted to end our adventure. We had visited two of them within the past year and had experienced the other the past three years at the festival. It did seem rather uncharateristic of us to be headed home with daylight. However, when I later tallied our tastes, I discovered together we had sampled 125 different wines! Not bad. Not bad at all!