Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Pretty in Pink: Celebrating National Rosé Day

By Jennifer Primrose
Twitter: TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: trianglearoundtown | Pinterest: TriangleAT | Email:

Saturday, June 9 is National Rosé Day. A time to celebrate all things pink to complement the perfect summer wine. National Rosé Day has been observed the second Saturday in June since 2015. This day is dedicated to raising awareness of this varietal that has not always received the attention it so rightly deserves. Face it, when you think of rosé wine what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Naturally, it’s Beringer White Zinfandel, right? This was my go-to wine in my 20s and then at some point along the way, I turned my nose up at all rosé wines. It was just a couple of years ago, while gallivanting through North Carolina wine country, that we started to realize that this pink drink actually tasted … well, good! What changed, we may never know. Either way, this wine has become a favorite of ours, especially in the summertime. From sitting on the front porch swing at sunset with a glistening glass in hand to pairing with a refreshing homemade sorbet. It even scored its own hashtag … #RoséAllDay!

Piccione Vineyard's 2015 Rosato paired with cantaloupe-orange sorbet

So, what is it about rosé wines and what grape produces this deliciousness? Is there a rosé grape? Actually, no. Rosé wines are usually made from red grapes that incorporate the color from the grape skins to give it that pinkish hue. The level of pink of course depends on the length of time the grape skin stays in contact with the juice. This type of wine, we’ve learned, also may very well be the oldest. With this versatile wine you may find dry or sweet rosé; sparkling or even semi-sparkling. It’s just a fun little wine absolutely perfect for a summertime picnic.

With National Rosé Day just around the corner, naturally we must celebrate! It’s the perfect time to gather the girls (or guys) and host a Pink or Rosé All Day party. Break out the wine and host tastings or even blind tastings to find that one special pink drink that is sure to become your favorite! Not sure what to serve? Go to your local bottle shop and ask for suggestions. Another idea is to experiment with rosé cocktails or even use as a sangria base and see how versatile this wine truly is. You can also pair your wines with some favorite h’orderves or use some of that wine to make some delicious rosé cupcakes. Be sure to ask your guests to get in the spirit by wearing pink.

Rosé cupcakes paired with Rosé wine is the perfect pairing

If hosting a party is not your thing, consider pairing your favorite rosé with dinner or plan a quiet evening at home on the front porch sipping to your favorite tunes. Don’t have a favorite, this is the perfect opportunity to visit your local shop and find something new and give it a go. Face it, the wine gods are giving us yet another excuse to pop the cork … we must not disappoint.

Related Story: The Summer of Swine & Rosés

As for us this year, we’ll be celebrating #NationalRoséDay at one of our favorite wineries, Williamsburg Winery in Williamsburg, Virginia. We’ll be enjoying the Uncorked and Unplugged concert series featuring the one and only Jason Mraz. If luck will have it, we will also be sipping on a bottle of Williamsburg Winery 2017 Wessex Hundred Dry Rosé while we sit back and enjoy the tunes.

So, there you have it. National Rosé Day. How do you plan to celebrate? We’d love to hear from you!

Be Social … when posting about your Pretty in Pink parties, be sure to use the hashtags …





Note: August 14 is also recognized as International Rosé Day. Some calendars only list August 14 while others only consider June 9 as the true Rosé Day, while still others choose to recognize the entire month of August as rose’ month. As for us, aside from our “drink what you like when you feel like it or #JustDrink," we enjoy celebrating this varietal all summer long!

8 South American Wines You Should Try

By Dathan Kazsuk, Triangle Around Town
Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Wine classes are a great way to learn more about the wine you’re drinking and about certain regions of the world that you probably never visited before. I’ve never been to South America, but I know they make some outstanding wines – especially Chile, which is a long, narrow country that stretches along South America’s western edge.

And as part of our goal to obtain the status of level 1 Sommeliers before the end of next year, we have been trying to learn a lot more about the different wine regions around the world. And of course, drink a lot more wine!

On June 5 we were able to kill two birds with one stone, when Wine and Beer 101 in Wake Forest had its South America 2.0 Class. Store owner Joe O’Keefe had so many great wines he wanted to share with his patrons that he needed two different dates to showcase all Chile has to offer. We missed the first class, but were able to score two seats for the second part of the series.

The class was $30 per person, which is a great deal when you get to sample 8 different wines from Chile and pair that up with some pasta and chicken marsala. The 90 minute event had O’Keefe sharing his adventures in Chile where he tried all the wines at each of the wineries, hanging out with the owners and winemakers. He said that during his 5 day stay in Chile he tried a total of 85 different wines from 13 different wineries. What a life!

Let’s run through each of the wines we sampled that night:

Apaltagua Costero Brut – This was our first wine. A bubbly there to cleanse our palates. Pale gold in color with tiny, fine bubbles. Notes of crusty bread and hazelnuts with some white fruit such as green apples. | Reg. $19.99; Class price – $15.99

Tercos Torrentés – This was a crisp, light white wine. Acidic with hints of lime and pineapple. Torrontés is almost exclusively grown in Argentina. Our table really liked this wine, and O’Keefe said this was one of his first wines he had when he arrived in South America. | Reg. $15.99; Class price – $12.99

Calcu Rosé – The winery’s name means “healing doctor” or “magician” in the native tongue of Mapuche. And this Rose was magic! This wine was a pale pink with very subtle hints of violet. The nose was tropical, almost mango like. A very good Rosé at a great price. | Reg. $14.99; Class price – $11.99

Apaltagua Colección Pinot Noir – Many people loved this Pinot Noir, while personally, it wasn’t my cup of juice. It was a little rough around the edges for what I’m usually used to tasting in a Oregon or Washington state Pinot. A little more acidic on my tongue. But still not a bad wine. | Reg. $24.99; Class price – $19.99

Calcu Cabernet Franc – This was a real good Cab Franc! We even snuck seconds on this one at the end of the night. Big, bold fruit aromas and a dab of spice and chocolate. This made me smack my head because I just recently bought a North Carolina Cabernet Franc just a little better than this one for double the price! This will be my new go to Franc when eating tomato-based pasta! | Reg. $15.99; Class price – $12.99

Apaltagua Envero Carmenere – By this time we’re thinking that O’Keefe really knows how to pick his wines. Even though I wasn’t a fan of the Pinot Noir, it still wasn’t bad. And this Careener was amazing. The red-violet color of this wine gave way to the taste of blackberries and tobacco. We got a little oak and vanilla as well. A nice finish with this wine. | Reg. $18.99; Club price – $14.99

Ricardo Santos Malbec – When James Suckling gives your wine 90 points, you must be doing something right. This Malbec was deep in purple and the nose gave off flavors of dark cherries and chocolate and also came across as pretty earthy. It had a lot of weight to it, but ended pretty silky.  | Reg. $21.99; Class price – $17.99

Maquis Lien – Our last wine of the night was a blend of Carmenere, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. These grapes grown on a terrace above the Tinguiririca River, and smells very earthy. We got some dark fruits, bell pepper and very high tannins in the back. Nice and balanced wine as it opened up in our glasses. | Reg. $37.99; Class price – $27.99

If you haven’t been to a Wine & Beer 101 wine class, you really need to. They know what they’re doing! Upcoming wine classes:

  • June 19: Napa Valley and Biale Vineyard Class
  • July 17: Piedmont Region of Italy
  • Aug. 9: Honig Wine Lab

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Chardonnay Blind Tasting: The Results

By Triangle Around Town
Tuesday, June 5

It seems like Chardonnay is a love it or hate it type of wine. Sure, it's always in a sprint with Cabernet Sauvignon as the most popular grape varietal in the world. Do you like it oaky? You know ... super buttery and so yellow it looks like some gross science experiment water. Or do you like your Chardonnay that crisp, clean and almost clear in appearance? Everyone has their opinion on what they like best. And so do we. As a whole, Triangle Around Town's Jennifer and Dathan don't really drink a lot of Chardonnay wine. We don't turn it away at tastings. As bloggers and fans of wine in general, we'll try anything once. And in doing so, we have actually found some amazing Chardonnay wine – but usually it's a dime a dozen for us.

But with Chardonnay Day just ending on May 24, 2018, we decided to ask our friend Chris Morton who does a Facebook series titled 7 at 7 every night here in Raleigh, as well as our nextdoor neighbor, Matt, to take part in a blind tasting with us. It was easy. We put together a tasting sheet – 5 categories – 5 points total in each. We had appearance, aroma, body, taste and finish. For a grand total of 100 points per wine. Jen, Chris and Matt did not know which wines were being poured. They didn't know the region, the vintage or the price range. Just 4 different white wines poured for them in 4 individual glasses. For Dathan's results, Chris mixed up the wines and poured in a different order.

Below is the complete list of wines we sampled – the results, the winery, the location and the average retail value.

1. 2016 Meiomi Chardonnay 
Location: Acampo, California
Price: $14.99
This California Chardonnay was made using grapes from three different regions in the state – Monterey County (37 percent), Sonoma County (33 percent) and Santa Barbara County (30 percent). This wine scored a total of 63.5 out of 100 points. We paid $14 for the bottle, and that's exactly what it tasted like ... a $15 Chardonnay. The color was light and the taste was crisp. But according to a few of us, this Chardonnay tasted like it would be mass produced for "housewives" to open in the middle of the day. The body was decent in this wine and we did get aromas of melon, lime and steel. A couple of us got a little bit of pineapple in the back once the wine opened up to right below room temperature. Would we drink again? For a inexpensive bottle of Chardonnay that fits the "bill" ... sure.

2. 2017 Estate de Wetshof Limestone Hill Chardonnay
Location: South Africa
Price: $13.99
Unoaked and grapes grown in limestone made this 100 percent Chardonnay almost taste like a Riesling – or as one taste said "Muscadine," due to its sweetness. This wine received a grand total of 56 out of 100. The nose was very light, almost no aroma at all came from this wine poured directly from the bottle. Another reviewer said this would be a "porch pounder" for a warm, Summer day. This wouldn't be a heavy Chardonnay you'd want to pair with a meal. Would probably go well with oysters or light protein such as veal.

3. 2017 Medaloni Cellars Signature Series Chardonnay
Location: Lewisville, North Carolina
Price: $25
We hate to say this, but this wine received the lowest score of the night, only getting a grand total of 52.5 out of 100. We all think we opened this wine a little too soon, but you do have to be careful what you say. One of our reviewers is a wine club member at Medaloni and tried this wine several weeks back – and said it compares with any Chardonnay grown in California. And out of a total of 25 points, only gave this wine an 11. We do have to admit, that trying this wine a couple days later it did get a lot better. We are all fans of this winery, and hope in time this will only get better. And we still have another one sitting in the wine cellar, so we will get that opportunity.

Note: This brings up a good point. Should labels be put on "new" wines that need age? Think in the likes of Stone Brewing Company's "Enjoy By ..." series. They tell you to enjoy that select IPA before a certain date. Should newer released wines say, Best opened after a certain date? Talk amongst yourselves.

4. 2016 Mácon-Villages Chardonnay
Location: France
Price: 14.99
Ladies and Gentlemen ... meet our highest scoring wine of the blind tasting. This wine scored a total of 72.5 out of 100 – it beat the next wine by a total of 9 points. This Chardonnay was the truest to form in both taste and appearance. It wasn't that buttery, cat pee yellow of real oaky Chards, but still had the right amount to "creaminess" to please the stainless steel and oak-barrel drinkers alike. With hints of lemon and pear and a crisp taste and floral nose, this wine was our true favorite.

So what does all this tell us? For one thing, the four of us are tough critics. Only one wine received 5 points and that was the Mácon in both appearance and finish. Plus, only one of us was a true Chardonnay fan – but that still doesn't mean we don't know what good Chardonnay tastes like. What we're comparing to are wines by such vineyards of South Africa's Hamilton Russell, Sonoma's Pellegrini and Geyserville's Trione Vineyards.

But remember, we all have different tastes. What we say we don't like, might be one of your favorites. We suggest you go try all these wines for yourself and tell us if you agree or disagree with our final results.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Where to go with only 2.5 days in Napa Valley?

By Jennifer Primrose & Dathan Kazsuk 
Twitter: TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: trianglearoundtown | Pinterest: TriangleAT | Email:

It's Wine Capital of the World. Napa Valley. Home to 460-plus wineries. Some of those top notch wines we have all heard of – Opus One, Stag's Leap, Silver Oak, Del Dotto and Screaming Eagle – to name a few. And it's so overwhelming. You can't do them all. You have to pick and choose. But which ones? Do you make appointments the whole time, or play it by ear and crash the party of those non-appointment wineries such as Peju, Sterling or Chateau Montelena? 

We were fortunate enough to have some contacts with a few of the wineries here in Napa, which made our experience a little more enjoyable. But contacts or not, you probably can't go wrong visiting any of these spectacular wineries. 

We were in Napa Valley for two-and-a-half days – and here is a recap of our adventures. Be sure to click on the links inside this recap to view the full length reviews on many of our stops at each of the wineries.

Check out our 5 helpful tips while visiting Napa Valley!

Here we go!

Day 1

JaM Cellars: 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Our first stop of day one took us to JaM Cellars to test out our Downtown Napa Wine Tasting Cards we picked up at the Napa welcome center. If you're a fan of Chardonnay, you've probably seen or tasted JaM's Butter Chardonnay before, or even its Cabernet Sauvignon titled Jam. We were familiar with the winery, since we've poured some of its wine at one of our wine club events. The atmosphere in here was very cool and hip – with music icons plastered all over the walls, and the urban-style tasting room looking more like a recording studio. 

With the tasting cards our drinks were essentially two for the price of one! You can't beat that. We enjoyed a flight of 5 wines. With the Butter and Jam, they poured the grocery store versions (both good wines, we might add) and then the special reserve that you can only buy at the shop, to compare the two. We had a great time there, and actually went back the following night since they're open later than all the other downtown Napa tasting rooms.

Plumpjack: 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Plumpjack was next during our two-and-a-half day romp through Napa Valley. Prior to our visit, Dathan was corresponding with Plumpjack’s Rick Ratliff via Facebook about the wines we liked and the best time to arrive.


Rick led us through the winery's current releases at the tasting bar. There we sampled 5 wines on the list. Rick also offered us a trio of additional wines from Plumpjack’s sister wineries Odetta and Cade (everything was delicious). After the tasting Rick gave us a quick tour of the winery and told us a little history about the area – which included pointing out Screaming Eagle Winery atop a hill in the distance. 

Before we left, we asked for a few nearby recommendations which didn’t need a reservation. In case you didn’t know, more than half of Napa Valley's 460-plus wineries require advance notice prior to arrival. Two of the more popular wineries in the Oakville-area include Caymus Family Vineyards and Miner Family Wines. Rick suggested out of the two he’d pick Caymus. So off we went.

 Caymus Family Vineyards: 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

The Caymus brand of wines are all great. From the white table wine, Conundrum, to those very dark and fruity Cabs – we like them all. And since we didn’t need a reservation to taste, we got in our car and traveled right down the road to end up at our second winery of the day.

We sampled that day’s wine flight, which consisted of two Emmolo wines, one Mer Soleil wine and two Caymus selections. Our favorites were the 2015 Cab and 2014 Special Selection Cab from Caymus. All this while sitting outside during a perfect day while our server kept the wine flowing. The only thing we had to be mindful of was the mamma bird perched above us keeping people at bay from her nest of two baby birds.

Gott's Roadside + Oxbow Public Market: 6:15 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Sure this is our first time to Napa, but we have a feeling that the Oxbow Public Market will be one of our favorite stops. Wine. Beer. Cheese. Coffee. Distillery. And one of the best burgers we've ever had! Eat your heart out In-N-Out and Five Guys – Gott's Roadside is the place to eat! The burgers there have everything from fried eggs, kimchi, blue cheese, onion rings and grilled Anaheim chiles (which Dathan had on his burger). Imagine eating a mouth-watering burger with a great glass of local wine or beer.

Day 2

Italics Wine Growers: 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

After a quick breakfast at our hotel in downtown Napa we made our way to Italics Winegrowers for our 10 a.m. appointment. We were greeted by David Gunkle, who just moved from Garner, North Carolina, to Napa three weeks prior to our visit. David started us off with a white table wine, as he told us the history behind the Taylor family who owns the winery, and about their winemaker, Steve Reynolds, of Reynolds Family Winery.


We did a tour of Italics' wine caves and were able to sample a Chardonnay from one of the barrels before heading to a table to conduct our tasting. There were five wines on our tasting menu, but David poured us a couple others not on the list including an incredible Cabernet Franc. 

We ended up talking a lot about N.C. including a couple of our favorite Raleigh-area breweries and us having a couple mutual friends back in town as well as our memberships to Jones Von Drehle Winery in Thurmond, North Carolina. It really is such a small world.

Reynolds Family Winery: 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Us and Reynolds Family Winery go way back. Well, at least the past 5 years. We first met owner/winemaker Steve Reynolds in Raleigh during the annual Triangle Wine Experience weekend that raises money for the Frankie Lemmon School. From the Sip and Signs, to wine dinners, to the big Gala, we always seem to run into him. It doesn't hurt that he has some great wines and is such a good person. 

So we decided to return the favor and say "hi" to him at his winery in Napa Valley. We both decided on the Red Lovers tasting which consisted of a 2012 Pinot Noir, 2015 Merlot, 2015 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014 Persistence and a 2013 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. While we drank we enjoyed the sun and waited for Steve. Unfortunately, he was out running errands for his Cinco de Mayo celebration at the winery later in the week. Maybe next time.

Mark Herold Winery: 1:20 p.m. - 2:20 p.m.

Mark Herold Winery was another downtown winery that was a part of our Downtown Napa Wine Tasting Cards. The winery is right next to the Oxbow Public Market. We took a couple seats near the front window and enjoyed the wines. Brie told us the story behind Mark and all the wines we sampled. We enjoyed the Flux Grenache Blanc and Grenache Rosé to begin our flight. But our favorite was the bold taste of the 2014 Acha Grenacha with its hints of Créme de Cassis and black cherries. We also learned that Brie was at one time the tasting room manager at Reynolds Family Winery – where we just came from.

After leaving Mark Herold we crossed the street to Trade Brewing were we split a flight of beer and had a soft pretzel with beer cheese.

Wines on First: 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Wines on First was a nice little find downtown that features wines by Mitch Cosentino's PureCru label as well as J. McClelland wines from Steele Canyon Cellars. And as part of the Napa Wine Card we got our tastings for half off. For $10 each (which included the half off card), we were able to sample through all 8 of the PureCru. That included the likes of a 2014 Chardonnay, 2014 Pinot Noir, 2013 Sangio Vetta and the 2012 releases of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. 

By this time, a lot of the wines were tasting the same – good. But we really enjoyed the 2012 CFM (Cabernet Franc/Merlot blend). After we finished our tasting our server didn't want us to leave until we tried a couple more of Mitch's wines, the 2010 MCoz and the 2012 Secret 7 both at $125 a bottle. 

Day 3

Chateau Montelena: 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

If you're a fan on the movie Bottle Shock, or know anything about the Judgment of Paris, then you probably know what Chateau Montelena means to Napa Valley. Without Steven Spurrier Napa might not be all that it is today. And because of these, we drove to the northern most part of the valley to walk the grounds here and taste some wine. 


Because this is such a tourist attraction, no reservations are required, so we walked right in and took part in the day's tasting. It's funny that the gift shop even sells copies of the movie Bottle Shock that stars the late Alan Rickman as Spurrier.

Vineyard 36 (via Vineyard 29): 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

We enjoy our hockey, but lately the Hurricanes haven't given us much to cheer for. But goalie Cam Ward has teamed up with ex-Hurricane Tim Gleason and a few others to create some good wine in the form of Vineyard 36. Taking their name from Ward's #30 and Gleason's #6 jerseys, the two don't have a vineyard/tasting room, but with the help of their winemaker Keith Emerson at Vineyard 29 they're making a handful of select wine.

We reached out to Vineyard 36 and were able to get a private tour and tasting thanks to the winery's hospitality/sommelier guru Scott Barber. After just leaving the old, castle-like structure at Chateau Montelena, it was quite a eye-popper to see the modern-day twist of Vineyard 29 after coming through the front entrance gates.


Barber showed us around the winery and the state-of-the-art equipment before leading us to the nice, cool caves where we tried some V36 releases that won't see the light of day until 2019. We were also fortunate enough to try and buy several bottles of the winery's new release, Resilience Rosé, which is already sold out!

We said our goodbyes to Scott and realized it was time to finally end our time in Napa. We had a 2.5 hour drive back to Atwater as well as a layover at the Jelly Belly Candy Company in Fairfield. Until next time, Napa. I'm sure the two of us will see you again!

And thanks to all the wonderful people that helped make this experience one to remember!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Winery Spotlight: Chateau Montelena

Chateau Montelena's history dates back to 1882.

By Jennifer Primrose
Thursday, May 31

If you know your wine history, you know that Chateau Montelena in Calistoga, California, essentially put Napa Valley on the map! With that being said, we decided to pay a visit to the famous chateau during our vacation in California this past May. Walking up to the chateau is pretty impressive and breathtaking, and just knowing the antiquity behind the family and its legend made it one of our favorite stops.

We decided instead of reviewing the wines at Chateau Montelena, we would spend a moment to tell a little bit about the history behind the chateau and the people that put this wine and Napa on the forefront in the wine industry.


Chateau Montelena has a long history dating back to 1882, when Alfred Tubbs, a San Francisco entrepreneur, became the original owner of the winery, then named A. L. Tubbs Winery. In 1886 he brought on a French-born winemaker and constructed the English Gothic-style castle and by 1896 the winery was the seventh largest in Napa Valley. Then came Prohibition and subsequently, the end of the winery.

Post-Prohibition, Tubbs grandson, Chapin Tubbs, decided to continue with the legacy of growing grapes and making wine and in 1940 changed the name to Chateau Montelena. After Tubbs' death in 1947, the winery did not function again for two decades.

Chateau Montelena is located in Calistoga, California.
In 1958, the Chateau was sold to York and Jeanie Frank who emigrated from Hong Kong prior to World War II. It was during this time that they constructed the Chinese gardens and Jade Lake. During a visit, guests are invited to walk the grounds and take in the serenity of the gardens.

Jade Lake at Chateau Montelena.

By the early 1970s the winery once again found itself under a new owner by the name of Jim Barrett. Today, the leadership continues under Jim's son, Bo Barrett.


The Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, or better known as the Judgment of Paris, has changed how Napa Valley wines were viewed against European and French wines.

The event took place on May 24, and put some of the best wines in France against, at the time, a little known region in California – Napa Valley. The judges included some of the best sommeliers in the business. In the white wine category, a total of four white Burgundy wines went toe-to-toe with six Chardonnays from California.

There was never any doubt amongst the judges that France would win hands down. In fact, only one journalist even bothered to show up for the event that day. And then came the surprise. The shock of all shocks! The winner of the blind white wine tasting was the 1973 Chardonnay from Chateau Montelena. But it didn't end there. California also won in the red category with a 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon from Stag's Leap Wine Cellars – once again beating the French.

We can all thank a fellow by the name of Steven Spurrier (no, not the Heisman Trophy football coach), an English wine shop owner living in Paris who decided to hold this competition in the hopes of showcasing what was going on in California at the time. This event changed the world of wine as we know it. Today, California is now home to more than 4,200 wineries – followed by Washington state, Oregon and New York.

We had a fantastic time visiting Chateau Montelena in Calistoga, where we sampled 6 wines that day. Our favorite was the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, which made an appearance in the tasting room that afternoon. Unfortunately, we do not have a bottle of the winning 1973 Chardonnay of which can only be found in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

And there is your history lesson for the day. How a wine competition changed the world of wine. Cheers!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks celebrate a milestone

Patricia and Sean McRitchie during the winery's 11th anniversary party in May.

By Jennifer Primrose 
Monday, May 29, 2018

On Saturday, May 26, McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks celebrated a special occasion. On that rainy day, the crew at the winery played host to a packed house to celebrate its 11-year anniversary.

And to celebrate the coming of its second decade of creating award-winning wines, the winery was opening up bottles of its rare Petillant Naturel wines – adding them to the tasting line-up for one day only.

Owners Sean and Patricia McRitchie addressed the crowd promptly at 3 p.m. to say thanks to all their fans and wine club members. “We are really appreciative to everybody that has come out today,” said Patricia. “We have the best staff … and that helps make the winery possible in the tasting room and winery,” she said.

Loyal fans of the winery made their way towards a table lined with two different versions of Petillant Naturel – Petit Manseng and Petit Verdot.

Sean was set to lead a toast, saying a few words about his mentor, but as it was an emotional letter on his phone, he handed it over to Patricia to read it aloud to everyone in the room. After she completed the letter, everyone in the room toasted to the winery’s success.

Sean then told the crowd if anyone is ever interested in seeing the winery, just peek in and they should find him hard at work. “I tend to hide out there a lot,” he said. I like the mechanics of wine making. But I love when people are curious and want to stop by and look around at things. I’ll bore you to death about the details of the machinery in the winery.” That seems like a stop inside the winery is due the next time we visit.

Now, if you’re not sure about Petillant-Naturel – they are typically sparkling wines that are bottled before primary fermentation is complete. They avoid secondary yeast or sugars, which are often referred to as “Methode Ancestrale.” This method tends to lead to a more rustic, cloudy Champagne-style wine.

These two “pet-nat” wines by McRitchie are very limited. With the Petit Manseng you can expect light floral and tropical notes. While with the Petit Verdot, look for the taste of berries with a bubbly finish.