Monday, October 12, 2020

Small Wineries Lead The Charge In Craft Wine Movement

Layton’s Chance, Lewis Station, and Tranquil Heart are small, family-owned operations producing limited runs of surprisingly unique wines.

Craft Wines from Layton's Chance and Lewis Station

Craft Wine Gains Momentum

Two years ago when we first covered the Craft Wine Association, it was just started to bud. The group had less than a dozen wineries, but unlimited enthusiasm from CEO and founder Carole Lawson. The CWA has now blossomed with more than 55 wineries in locations from coast to coast in the US.

Never Miss A Beat – Follow Vino-Sphere On Facebook

“Craft wine is distinctly American wine,” said Lawson, who took part in a recent webinar hosted by the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association. “Wines we make here in the US are different from wines made in Argentina, South African or any other place considered Old World.”

Arthur Barham participates in Craft Wine webinarCertified Craft Wine is a small-production wine made in runs of less than 5,000 cases.For a wine to achieve the designation of Certified Craft Wine, the winemaker must lead production from the process of grape selection through fermentation. Certified Craft Wine must also be produced using grapes from an identifiable vineyard or identifiable vineyards. Wineries whose entire production is most commonly less than 5,000 cases and meet the other criteria qualify as Certified Craft Wineries.

Lewis Station Winery

Rob Lewis was bitten by the wine bug after tasting the perfect glass of Zinfandel. He became a certified sommelier took courses from UC-Davis on winemaking and tried to determine his place in the wine world. He opened Lewis Station in what used to be an old, empty gas station in downtown Lake Mills, Wisconsin. After finding the Wisconsin climate too challenging to grow his chosen vines, he decided to source grapes from vineyards in premium California locations.

Keep up with the latest. Follow us on Instagram!

Lewis Station has won many awards, but the best story is the one that got away. We tasted the Dry County “Rejected” Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is aged in used Jack Daniels whiskey barrels. This is considered the best wine from Lewis Station and so Rob was puzzled when he was informed that the wine didn’t earn a medal at a prestigious wine competition. In fact, it didn’t even get rated.

It turns out the “pre-judge” smelled all the Cabernet and determined that since it smelled different than the others, it must have spoiled. All four bottles went down the drain. It’s a terrible waste, but a great story. This wine has rich, sweet oak flavors mingling dark cherry and toast. The finish is pure velvet.

Layton’s Chance Vineyard & Winery

Jennifer and William Layton also hail from a state not typically associated with wine: Maryland. Jennifer is the general manager of Layton’s Chance Vineyard & Winery and her husband William, is the winemaker. The family grew corn and soybeans for generations until Jennifer and William took over. Layton’s Chance is the first Certified Craft Winery in Maryland.

In 2010 Jennifer and William took a chance and planted grape varieties suited to the climate of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The gambit paid off and the winery in Vienna, Maryland, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. They grown Chambourcin, Vidal Blanc, Traminette and Norton at their estate vineyard. We poured the 2018 Vintner’s Reserve, a delectable blend of three of our favorite grapes: Cabernet Franc, Chambourcin, and Norton.

This wine punched all the buttons for us, warming raspberry flavors from the Chambourcin, some peppery attitude from the Cab Franc and the stout backbone from the Norton. It retails for $26 and is a blend I’ve never scene before. Indeed, to find Chambourcin and Norton both grown at the same vineyard is quite rare.

Tranquil Heart Vineyard And Winery

Bill Shinkle, owner of Tranquil Heart Vineyard and Winery, has unwavering determination. How else can you explain how he has launched a successful winery in the most unlikely place, hot and dusty Hemet, California? Bill’s background is horticulture and he grew many of the plants we all bought at places like Home Depot and Lowes before starting his winery.

He spent months studying the climate and soil and which grapes are best suited for the environment. The winery has 15 acres, shaped in a heart, and the climate is Mediterranean. He chose an eclectic mix of mostly Italian varieties: Barbera, Teroldego, Aglianico, Muscat Canelli, Fiano, and Viognier.

Tranquil Heart (and who can’t use that these days?) is a private membership club and isn’t open to the public. The award-winning wines are available via wine club membership or online purchase.

The Craft Wine Association provides a variety of services and support for small wineries. Perhaps the best is, a site where you can purchase bottles from any member of the CWA. The transaction is handled as if the purchase were made directly from the winery.

Feeling crafty? Craft wineries may be small, but the Craft Wine movement and the quality are huge.

No comments: