Adventures in Wine........

msprettyky(Z6 KY)February 26, 2007

I wanted to tell everyone about a winery that I visited on vacation last week in Florida.

Ridgeback Winery, located in Mt.Dora, is a family owned business, ran by Ron and Ellie Thompson. When you walk through the door you are greated by a charming, cozy store that has been decorated in an African theme. The best part is the Tiki hut bar, where you can sample all the wines Ridgeback produces.

Ron greeted my friends and I as we walked in the door. He was very pleasant and filled us in on the history of the winery as we browsed through the store.

Ron and Ellie named their winery after the love of their lives, their dogs! Ron proudly told us about the Rhodesian Ridgebacks they owned and a bit about the dogs background. The awesome part, the dogs were in the store! They were beautiful and huge! Very well trained and friendly. After browsing for awhile and visiting with the

dogs, it was time to get down to business. Tasting! As I have said before, I am no expert at wine, just know what I like when I try it. I can honestly say, Ridgeback wines

impressed not only myself, but all of my friends. There were five of us total and we all took something home. We are all mostly sweet to semi-sweet drinkers, but I make it a point to try the 'best selling', dry white and red at every winery I visit. So I will let you know what I sampled and what I thought

Pinot Gris- best seller - dry white - I could really taste the melon overtones in this and actually enjoyed the crisp finish.

Rosso Grande - best seller - dry red - Really like the aroma of this wine. It was a bit dry for me, but my friend loved it.

We sampled quite a few semi-sweet to sweets, so I will just tell you about the ones I purchased and brought home.

Rosco's Ice Wine - white sweet- This is one of the nicest ice wines I have tried, and only the third that I actually purchased. I found it was very well balanced and not too heavy, like most of the ice wines I have experienced.

Blueberry Shiraz - best seller - sweet - Never have been a fan of blueberry wine because it always seems thick and tastes like syrup to me. This is very smooth,and delicious. I am a deffinate fan of this blueberry shiraz.

Green Apple Gewurztraminer - sweet- AWESOME - My very favorite at this winery! The best way for me to describe it to you is that it is like 'A taste of summer'.Beautifuly balanced, wonderful aroma. I can't say enough good things about this wine!

If you are planning a trip to Orlando this year to see Mickey, take a little time to vistit Mt.Dora and Ridgeback Winery. I think it is an experience well worth the

30 minute drive.

Here is a link that might be useful: winery

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It doesn't sound like the wines were made from local grapes. Floida has a grape disease called Pierce's disease. It infects 7/9 year old plants can causes them to dry up and die. Native muscadines are immune. So vaious cultivars are bred with the natives to produce wines that will survive. The trade off is they are srongly muscadine in taste and aroma. It is a differentiated product like New Yok State wines.. this is not to say they are bad.... but they tend to be sweet and fruity, which appeals to the retired population of Florida and their grandkids.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 7:33PM
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Somehow a wine tasting held in a POLYNESIAN TIKI HUT would make me suspect of the wine. It doesn't go together........

This Ridgeback Winery, you speak of, does not grow any of their own grapes. They merely import concentrate and bottle it with their own label. This sounds like something thrown together for the tourist trade. Hence the 'African Store' with the dogs running around through it, to along with the Polynesian Tiki Hut. Sounds like a hodge-podge.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 8:40PM
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msprettyky(Z6 KY)

Zorba, I was told most of the juice comes from California, and yes I would agree the wines I have tasted from the North greatly differ from the wines of the South. Still, I have tried some good wines in both areas. Bud, I love that word "hodge-podge"! Hope you dont mind but I plan to use it. :) Like I said before, I am far from an expert on wine, and yes, I agree the store was designed to attract tourist. Must have been why I enjoyed it so much! Thanks so much for taking time to look at my post and comment on it!


    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 11:57AM
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Brenda - glad you liked some of that stuff. Since you seem so interested, you may want to try some better wines. And you need not spend a fortune either.

Grapes, unlike most fruits, can actually ferment quite nicely on their own, so it was not surprising that people decided to use them for making wine. The yeasts that they carry on their skins and the sugar/water in their flesh were naturally made to make wine.

There are other fruits that can make wine, which broadly defined, can be called fermented fruit juice, but that includes things like tomatoes, apples, watermelons, cherries, etc. I really love all of those things as fruits. But I can't really call the stuff that gets made from them wine with a straight face.

However, you have tried a pinot gris and liked it. So why not try some more? It isn't generally a complicated grape and you can get some relatively inexpensively. You may want to look at an albarino from Spain too. To make good wine, you need the European grapes, which are a different species from the native US grapes. That's why after many trials and errors, poor Thomas Jefferson realized that he had to plant European varietals. It's too bad but hey, we gave them corn and tomatoes and they turned that into great Italian food, so I guess it's fair enough.

During the 1800s there was a great deal of work done crossing the US varietals with European varietals and one grape, called Norton, was actually considered acceptable. But unfortunately, the grapes found in North America very rarely make decent wine.

Happily, there are plenty of good grapes planted all around the world these days. Although most states are making wine these days, the middle and eastern parts of the US have yet to make really good wine. We tend to have too much moisture on the east. Grapes do best where it is warm and dry - think of the Mediterranean climate. Even tho they're making wine in Virginia, and charging steep prices for it, I have yet to have great wine from anywhere on the East coast except for a few white wines from New York and Michigan.

The people in Florida are shipping the juice down and making wine. Problem is that good winemakers take pains to keep their juice fresh and temp-controlled. Some of them take care not to crush the berries either, letting them start fermenting spontaneously. So my suggestion is to try a few better wines. There is a grape glut these days, so ignoring things like Yellowtail or Two Buck Chuck, you can still find things that are under $10 and good. Lots of wine from Argentina is well made and cheap for us due to their economic situation. Australia is making good stuff too. Ignoring Rosemount, you can find things like Wishing Tree, Evans and Tate, Lindemans, Jacob's Creek and many others who put out decent wine at low prices.

Washington State is maybe the best site in the US for wine and the prices are far less than Napa/Sonoma prices. You liked that pinot gris - try a gwertraminer from Washington and see if you can describe the beautiful aromatics. Fess Parker, who was Daniel Boone, is making really good wines in Santa Clara - try his viognier, another white with a gorgeous aroma, not too dry.

Best of luck.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 1:42PM
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lindac(Iowa Z 5/4)

Roesinny....a few months ago I would have agreed with alomst everything you said. But since, I have tasted a number of midwestern wines that are really very good. Not great wines but certainly good wines.
Thre has been a lot of time and money tossed at the study of wine grapes as an alternate crop in Iowa, Illinois and other midwestern states. And believe it or not, there are some very nice wines coming from midwestern grapes. It has taken time to grow to maturity some of the grapes that will take our climate and produce and it has taken some of the wine makers time to learn how to make wine from these grapes.
No, they are not the same varietals as are grown in California, but nonetheless produce very nice wines.
If you ever get a chance, try a couple of midwestern wines...and if you don't like what you tried, try another. When the midwest first started getting into viticulture, I tried some of the wines from local grapes....and threw the rest of the bottle out. But last month I attended a very prestegious wine auction and tasting....and was very plesantly surprised by some of the midwestern wines.
Linda C

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 11:23PM
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Linda - I'm from Michigan and went to grad school in Indiana and lived in Chicago and I'm a booster. I have had a couple of Michigan rieslings that were really good. Haven't had anything else that amounts to much. But if you can make some recommendations, and I can actually find the stuff on a trip home, I'd be really excited to try some.

I'm consulting w someone right now who is importing Hungarian wines. They have a long history of great wine production, but were really crippled under communism. However, they improve every year. The midwest has serious climate extremes so it is going to be difficult to find grapes that produce top-end stuff, but hey, ingenuity got us to the moon. Cheers.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 2:13PM
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msprettyky(Z6 KY)

Wow Rose! You really know your stuff! Thanks for all the advice. I have been trying to "broaden my horizons", so to speak. I must admit that I still tend to lean toward sweeter wines. I hear alot about wines from Australia, but have not tried many. Jacob's Creek has been suggested more than once. I was thinking of having a wine tasting but the truth is that most of my friends would not like or appreciate anything close to dry. I have one friend who likes to drink merlot once in a while. Right now I am keeping a bottle of Alice White - Lexia and Bosc moscato asti at ALL times! So you can see what kind of taste I have. I love all the advice I get on this forum and hope that no one minds but I plan on posting my new winery adventures in the future. I am purchasing a new digital camera and plan on posting pics every once in a while. Thanks again for taking time to read my post and for all the great advice!


    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 8:04PM
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Thanks for sharing your wine tour story with us. It sounds like everyone had a good time. And yes, please post more wine tour stories if you have them. All of us here can't visit every single winery in the nation on our own, so it's fun to hear about them and what the experience was like. Every winery has it's own personality.

It is important to remember, that the love of wine does not have to be all dry and stuffy. Hey, even the "experts" do not agree on all wines. Hence, the different ratings wines get from different expert sources. The fun is in the learning and experimenting. (At least for me it is.)

Believe it or not, Wisconsin here, has a number of wineries. Each year at our Wisconsin State Fair, there is a wine tasting building featuring only Wisconsin wines. Marechal Foch, and Seyval Blanc are two of the grapes grown here. (Yeah, I had never heard of them before either. LOL.)

At the tastings I attended there were some fabulous wines and some nasty (IMHO) ones.

There are some like the Wollersheim Winery that have improved greatly over the years. (I still would not recommend them though.)

This year I am going to remember to save my notes from the Wisconsin State Fair wine tasting and post them here in the Wine Forum.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 12:42PM
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msprettyky(Z6 KY)

Thanks again to everyone for taking time to stop by and read my post. I have decided that rather than post a new thread each time, I will just try to keep this one going for a while. So I went to take a look at digital cameras last weekend (Yes I am STILL looking for a camera! You'd think I was buying a house! LOL) and while I am exiting the parking lot of the camera store I happen to glance across the street and spot a sign that says winery. Now mind you, I dont shop often in this area but have lived close by most of my life. Never had I heard of or noticed this place before. It was located in a small shopping center and looked a little more like a liquor store than a winery. I passed it up, went shopping at another store and decided to drop back by. Walking through the door I thought, simple and comfortable. The wines were displayed nicely in wooden racks along the walls and on shelves and tables throughout the room. I was greeted by Rick, the owner, who was standing behind a large bar in the middle of the room. I asked how long they had been open and he informed me since around the beginning of the year. He asked me what brings me in today, I laugh, why tasting, silly. So I grab a seat at the bar and off we go! After explaing that I prefer sweets but would like to try the most popular dry also, we begin my tour. Rick explains that they get their grape juice from different parts of the world. Vitner's Cellar Custom Winery is a make your own wine store. A fast growing franchise here in the north. Make your own wine was a new idea to me, but I liked the thought. They make a variety of wines at the store and they also sell make your own wine by the batch. I treid several wines but was most impressed by their port. They call it "Perle Noir", a sweet red wine. It was the wine I liked the best there. I think in a couple of years they may produce some really great wines there. My friends and I would like to try to make a batch of wine sometime soon. I will let everyone know how that goes!
Thanks again for taking time to read.

Here is a link that might be useful: vitnerwinery

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 9:23PM
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msprettyky(Z6 KY)

Well I am a little behind in posting. I have a couple of new wineries to tell you about but will start with one for now. Stonebrook Winery, located in Camp Springs, Ky. To get to this winery, you must drive through some of the most beautiful farmland Kentucky has to offer. In parts it seems almost forgotten in time. When I arrived at the winery, at first I thought I was in the wrong place. A small bridge takes you to a gravel drive that winds up a hill and leads to an small old farmhouse. There, a small wooden sign with the word "winery", lets you know you are in the right place. My friend and I exchanged glances, and quietly walked up to the porch. Lined with tables and chairs, actually the perfect place to sit for a while and sip a bottle and look at the beautiful countryside. When you walk through the front door, you are amazed at the renovations done to this 115 year old home. Wooden floors and ceilings and a steel winding staircase, give the room a very inviting feeling. We were greeted by Bonnie Walter, who along with her husband Dennis, own Stonebrook. Bonnie was very pleasant and informative. She didnt mind answering my questions. And you know me, I had alot. The winery, having only been open a couple of years now, has the honor of holding a few medals from various wine competitions in 2006 and 2007. I was very impressed by the selection and taste of pretty much all the wines I tried there. Everyone knows I am not a dry fan but I did sample the Chambourcin. Not bad, but I am still not a fan. Best selling sweet, Vidal Blanc, THUMBS UP! I think even a dry drinker, could appreciate this wine. They sell several fruit wines, blackberry being best seller, and I can see why. Very light and freshing. Made me smile when I tried it. If you get time to visit the area, make sure to stop in and see the Walters! While you are there, be sure to see a few of the stone houses built in the area by German settlers in the late 1800's and early 1900's.

Here is a link that might be useful: stonebrook winery

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 7:36PM
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msprettyky(Z6 KY)

It has been a while since I posted. I have a few wineries to add but will start with one today. First of all let me say that since we last spoke, I have a whole new appreciation for wine. My DH and I visited Italy this past September and I tried some of the best wines I have yet to experience. I have been trying to expand my horizons when it comes to wine and thanks to all the great advice I pick up on this forum and trial and error, I have come along way. Think I will start with a winery close to our home in southern Indiana. Huber's Orchard and Winery is located in Starlight, Indiana. Family owned and run, there is something for the whole family at Huber's. Petting zoo for the kids, complete with giant trampoline and pic nic tables. Great place to relax after taking in the Farmers market, ice cream and cheese shop, and the winery of corse. They make a nice variety of wines and brandy. They even make their own grappa. Huber's has a wine for every taste, starting with their Seyval Blanc all the way down to ice wines like raspberry infusion. The only thing I dont care for at this winery is that they charge to taste. I have been to a couple of wineries in the past that charge for tasting but dont care for the pratice. If you are ever in the Louisville/Southern Indiana area, you should make a stop at Huber's and explore a bit. They also have the Huber farm and family restaurant. Worth the drive!

Here is a link that might be useful: Huber winery

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 8:37PM
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msprettyky(Z6 KY)

I am trying to catch this thread up. I hope to have time to sit down this weekend and post a couple more times. I visited a winery over the holiday weekend and thought I would tell you a little about it.

Smith Berry is located in rural New Castle, Ky. About a 10 mile drive off of I 71, through some of Ky's beautiful farm land. The winery host a variety of dinner and concert series as well as the Amyx art gallery. The tasting room, small but cozy is the perfect spot to sample all the wines Smith Berry has to offer. Sampling is free, which is always a plus to me. My favorite was the Bluegrass Blush, followed by the Vidal Blanc. I purchased a bottle of each. I also liked the Flat Rock Red. Everyone knows I am not a dry drinker, but all the sweets were good to me. I could very well see myself sitting in the courtyard, enjoying a bottle of wine and one of the summer concerts. We have been trying to visit this winery for over a year and look forward to visiting again. Here is a link to the website. If you happen to be going through New Castle make sure you stop by.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 2:54PM
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msprettyky(Z6 KY)

Vinoklet Winery

I happened onto this winery by chance one day. I was riding with my cousin to view a house she was considering in the area. On the way back, I noticed a sign the simply read "WINERY" and quickly turned down the road. Located in Colerain Township, Vinoklet sits in an area which one would consider "picture perfect". A fabulous dinner can be enjoy in the solarium or outside on the gazebo, which is surrounded by the beautiful vineyards. When you pull in the drive you are immediately taken in by your surroundings. Very charming and inviting, I was very glad to have made the detour. We walked inside through the main dinning room to the bar to do some tasting. The dinning room is very elegant and has the fine dinning appeal. I was saying to my cousin that the room reminded me of the many places that I visited in Italy. The bar tender then informed me that the owner was from Croatia. I knew there was an European influence from somewhere. The owner, by the way, did stop at the bar and ask us what brought us in today. I told him, "We saw a sign and just ended up here." He laughed and said sometimes a sign is a good thing. They charge to sample here and we all know how I feel about that. It was only $5 to sample 6 wines so I ordered sample trays for two and a cheese snack tray. We sat in the dinning area and sampled our wines and very much enjoyed the cheese tray. None of the wines we sampled were on the sweet side in my opinion, more mellow and balanced in flavor. I really liked In Vino Veritas and Tears of Joy. My favorite thing about this winery is the atmosphere. Polite staff and beautiful scenery make it worth the stop.

Here is a link that might be useful: Vinoklet winery

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 12:24PM
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wild_rose_of_texas(z8b TX)

What a fun thread!
I just found this forum today, and I have lots of wine questions I'll save for a thread later, but I wanted to say Hi and say that I hope to learn a lot from you and others on this forum that have more wine experience than I!

Now that I am learning to appreciate the flavors of wines, I hope to find lots of types and styles that will be within my budget!

(aka Wild Rose of Texas, usually on the Antique Roses forum)

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 8:32PM
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Hmm - I know you from over there. I check this one every couple of months just to see if anything happened. Not much usually does but Msprettyky has turned it into an ongoing chronicle which is pretty cool I think.

And I need to add an update - I've actually found a few wineries in the midwest that do outstanding work. In Ohio, Kincaid winery just north of the border in KY is making shockingly good wines. Tried their cab with a bunch of wine geeks and who knew! It's not just tolerable, it's really good. Nancy Kincaid and her husband deserve a visit. In Michigan, Wyncroft winery is making outstanding riesling and chardonnay that holds its own with anyones. And in NY, on Long Island, Paumanok winery is making one of the best chenin blancs I've had from the States. I'm not surprised at the success with the white wines in these areas, but the reds are surprises. They're really serious wines.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 5:35PM
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