Wining & Dining

Grapevine & Vintner Profile, Wining & Dining

Women Take Top Honors in Maryland and Virginia

By Matthew Fitzsimmons For the first time ever, both Maryland and Virginia recognize women as the top winemakers in their most recent wine awards. In October 2021, Lauren Zimmerman of Port of Leonardtown Winery won her second Maryland Governor’s Cup for her 2019 Chambourcin Reserve. This March, Melanie Natoli of Cana Vineyard & Winery won the Virginia Governor’s Cup for her 2019 Unité Reserve red blend, the first time Virginia awarded this prize to a female. These honors highlight not just their own accomplishments, but those of women across the entire wine industry. When Melanie received the Cup from Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, she spoke to how last year’s award stage was entirely occupied by men. She then said of her fellow women winemakers, “We are fewer in number but we are mighty in passion and skill.” Both of Melanie’s statements are accurate. Today only roughly 12% of Virginia wineries and 20% of Maryland wineries have a female head winemaker. Even those numbers are an improvement from a decade ago. Yet these numbers are hardly surprising. Nationwide, women in the wine industry face additional barriers to advancement, often due to the lack of apprenticeships or funding for education. As wineries are often family-owned, opportunities for promotion to senior positions are slim. Both Lauren and Melanie observed that women need to work extra hard to prove themselves. That said, both Maryland and Virginia are still emerging wine regions, with room for growth and the flexibility to experiment with new styles of winemaking. This helps level the playing field as the local winemaking culture hasn’t yet had time to develop an entrenched ‘old boy’s network’, set in its ways. Melanie Natoli – Cana Vineyards & Winery of Middleburg When Melanie started, the number of women in the Virginia wine industry was even…

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Exploring VA Wines, Wining & Dining

Mentoring Leads to Success

By Doug Fabboli Each of us has been mentored in one way or another. Whether it is a parent, a teacher, a coach, a scout leader, a supervisor, a camp counselor, an older sibling, a religious leader, or any other person who has been a little further down the road of life and is willing to lend a hand to the next person coming along, everyone can point to someone who has influenced and taught them. I have been fortunate enough to learn my craft from some solid mentors who helped me along the way. Some were seasoned cellar workers that taught me the operations of wine, while others were well regarded consultants that knew the right words to say to me at the right time, giving me the boost or lesson that I needed in order to move forward. The more I find myself mentoring others, the more I look back to those who taught me. And after all these years in the business, I try to keep my humility and continue learning from others I admire, even if from afar. That, by the way, is the biggest lesson: keep humble and keep learning. Over the decades, I have taught many people the process of grape growing, winemaking, and building a business in this industry. Some took a few classes from me, some paid me as a consultant to teach them and their team, and others worked for me gaining the experience here at Fabbioli Cellars. Back in 2008, Melanie Natoli had been working part time in a tasting room, but wanted to learn the process of winemaking. She asked me which university she should choose if she wanted to pursue this career. As she already had a master’s degree in Physical Therapy and a full time job in…

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Let's Get Crafty, Wining & Dining

Spring Is Here, Let’s Have a Beer!

By Timothy Long Spring has sprung!! As I begin work on this article, I pause to look out the window. It’s not really a pause, I’m contemplating just what the hell I am going to write about this month. I notice that the trees are starting to bud. Tiny bursts of green that will soon fill the branches as they grow. I can hear birds outside in the courtyard. They’re squawking and squabbling over nesting spots. I’d prefer singing and chirping.  But still, it’s a sign of Spring, La Primavera. I start to dream of sunny days, baseball, relaxing at the pool, the beach, women in bikinis, women in bikinis playing volleyball. Tim stop it! You’re supposed to be writing an article! OK, it’s Spring. So, it’s time to change what beers we are drinking, right? Wrong!! Spring cleaning does not have to include dispensing with some of your favorite malted beverages. Yes, our dietary trends start to change as the days grow longer and warmer. But that is mostly due to the seasonality of food. Much of the cuisine we enjoy is seasonal. As seasons change, we wait to enjoy certain items that either become available or greatly improve in quality. Spring makes us anticipate tomatoes, avocados, blue crabs, ramps, etc. None of this has anything to do with beer. Beer is a year-round delight. Yes, your local craft brewery may stop producing some beer styles due to lack of demand. Plus, they enjoy putting out a Spring collection of beers, most of which will be of the lighter variety. This does not mean that you must give up your stout or IPA. The brewer’s thought process is this: As Spring comes and Summer looms, everyone wants a lighter beer. It’s the same way chefs approach food. They know…

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Coffee Anyone?

By the Gastronome We usually reserve this space in the May issue for a visit to a local Mexican establishment since one of us is crazy about Cinco de Mayo and the accompanying margaritas that the meals include. While we will most certainly be partaking in some fabulous chile verde and toasting more than a couple of margs on May 5th, we thought we would highlight the coffee (and tea) shops that abound in Old Town proper. Since Mother’s Day is also celebrated in May, our thought process was that your Mom might be more likely to want to be treated to some fresh brewed coffee and a pastry. We realize that there are probably well over 50 coffee shops in the local OTC distribution area alone there is no way we could highlight them all so…..let’s start off with our version of Old Town “proper”. We included those locally owned spots whose prime offering is coffee and are situated between the waterfront and the King Street Metro along King Street and the side streets as far as Prince Street to the south and Cameron Street to the north. Our count was 11 and I won’t be surprised if we missed some – they seem to be popping up all over the place. Our original plan was to sample some java and each of these joints but time and caffeine jitters didn’t allow for it. That being said, we thought we would delve into what has become “Coffee Culture” and why coffee based shops have become increasingly popular. According to the ever informative Wikipedia, “Coffee Culture is the set of traditions and social behaviors that surround the consumption of coffee, particularly as a social lubricant.[1] The term also refers to the cultural diffusion and adoption of coffee as a widely consumed stimulant. In the…

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Let's Eat, Wining & Dining

Remembering Mother

By Judy Eichner Growing up in Manhattan was an education in itself.  I never realized how much of an education until I met people from other States and Western Europe.  My mother’s family came from Eastern Europe and when she married my dad at the ripe old age of 18, she knew as much about cooking as a toddler does.  She was determined to learn how and by the time I was married she had become one of the best cooks I had ever known. In honor of her and all the mothers around the world, I am sharing two of her favorite recipes…they are mine, too. Linguini with Scallops              1 lb. bay scallops 1 bunch of flat leaf Italian parsley Juice of ½ lemon (about 2 tablespoons) 1 large clove of garlic Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg Pinch of ground ginger Salt Freshly ground white pepper 5 tablespoons of unsalted butter ¼ cup of heavy cream ¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese 1 lb. of linguini Wash scallops thoroughly under cold water and drain well.  Put them in a bowl and add the lemon juice. Start a large pot of water to boil, covered. Chop enough parsley to yield ½ tablespoon.  Chop the garlic and grate the nutmeg and ginger.  Add the parsley, garlic, nutmeg, ginger, salt and white pepper to the mixing bowl holding the scallops.  Toss well.  Taste the marinade and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.  Let the scallops sit in the marinade until ready to cook. When the water comes to a boil, drop in the linguine and stir once or twice with a fork.  Cook according to package directions, or until the pasta is cooked al dente. Drain the pasta. Set the skillet over a medium flame and wait 1 minute; then add…

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Exploring VA Wines, Wining & Dining

Cooperage Is Space and Spice

By Doug Fabbioli When I worked in the wine cellars of Sonoma, California a few decades ago, much of my time was spent with the barrels. I was purchasing over 2000 barrels each year, both new and used, for our wines at Buena Vista Winery. I got to know the coopers, the other winemakers, and the wines they aged in those barrels. I learned about the oaks used, the toasting and charring, and more. I don’t buy nearly as many barrels these days but that experience has not left me. With the expansion of the craft beverage industry, many folks have reached out to me about getting some used barrels for their projects which means there are a handful of uses other than wine that I have had a hand in lately. There are a number of good reasons to re-use wine barrels for other spirits. The barrel will impart the flavor of what was in it before, especially if I do not wash out the barrel. This is the preferred method for these folks, as the wine characteristics left in the barrel are what they are looking for. The wood of the barrel will add its own set of flavor notes, and these can be different based on where the barrel wood was grown, the aging of the wood before being made into a barrel, the toasting process used and the level of that toast, and how many times the barrel has been used. Another aspect of barrel-aging a product is the slow, low-level oxygen that is imparted into the wine through the pores of the wood. The barrel does not leak, but it does breathe. As the barrels sit, the air slowly goes in and a touch of wine evaporates out giving the barrel room a unique and…

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Grapevine & Vintner Profile, Wining & Dining

Virginia’s 2022 Governor’s Cup Winner – Cana Vineyards 2019 Unité Reserve

By Matthew Fitzsimmons On March 24th, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced Cana Vineyards & Winery as the winner of the 2022 Virginia Governor’s Cup for its 2019 Unité Reserve, a Petit Verdot-heavy red blend. Winemaker Melanie Natoli accepted the Cup at a packed gala, held at Richmond’s Main Street Station. This year’s Governor’s Cup was the first time the Gala was open to the public. Melanie made history as the first time a woman has ever received the Governor’s Cup. The competition also set a record with three women winemakers – Melanie, Maggie Malick of Maggie Malick Wine Caves, and Rachel Stinson Vrooman of Stinson Vineyards – behind four of the competition’s 12 top-scoring wines, which will form the Governor’s Case. The remaining Case wines, representing Charlottesville, Northern Virginia, and the Shenandoah Valley, were also revealed. Albemarle Ciderworks won Best in Show for its 2019 Virginia Hewes Crab cider. 127 gold medal winners were announced earlier in the month. The Governor’s Cup is Virginia’s premiere wine competition, featuring wines that are entirely grown and made in the state. Competition Director and Master of Wine Jay Youmans changed the format and strengthened judging standards in 2012, turning the Cup into a world-class competition. Cases of these top-scoring wines are sent to wine critics around the world, promoting the Virginia wine industry to a national and international audience. The 2022 Virginia’s Governor’s Case 1.     Cana Vineyards & Winery 2019 Unité Reserve 2.     50 West Vineyards 2019 Ashby Gap 3.     Barboursville Vineyards 2020 Vermentino Reserve 4.     Cana Vineyards & Winery 2019 LeMariage 5.     Maggie Malick Wine Caves 2020 Albariño 6.     Michael Shaps Wineworks 2019 Chardonnay 7.     Pollak Vineyards 2017 Meritage 8.     Rockbridge Vineyard 2018 V d’Or 9.     Shenandoah Vineyards 2019 Reserve 10.  Stinson Vineyards 2017 Meritage 11.  Trump Winery 2015 Brut Reserve 12.  Wisdom…

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Let's Get Crafty, Wining & Dining

Charity, Compassion, and The Love of Beer

By Timothy Long “God made beer because he loves us and wants us to be happy.” The above quote is often attributed to Benjamin Franklin. However, there is no proof that he ever said it. But we love believing that he did. Beer has been associated with health and happiness since ancient times. Oddly, none of the early cultures that brewed beer recorded much about the process. There are not many writings from them about their beer. Probably because, like bread, it was so much a part of everyday life that they didn’t give it much thought. They knew it made them happy. They also considered it nutritious and healthy. The health association stems from the fact that they could drink beer without becoming sick. Something one couldn’t say about water back then. It took mankind thousands of years to discover that it was the brewing process that made beer safe to drink. When brewing beer, the boiling kills any pathogens. To us, it’s just science. To them, it was magic. To this day, people will still raise a pint to someone’s health. Beer also found its way into ancient religions. One example, according to an article in Wine Enthusiast entitled “Beer Is What Makes Us Human, How Beer Influenced Humanity Worldwide”: “To the Sumerians, beer was considered a gift from the gods meant to promote “human well-being and happiness,” according to a 2019 research paper, The Beverage of the Ages. Four Sumerian deities were closely associated with beer, like the goddess of beer Ninaski.” Since beer has always been associated with health, and found its way into religion, it makes sense that beer became associated with charity as well. Beer is a huge part of celebrating in our culture. Fun and happiness are associated with it. Most charity fundraising events…

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Landini Brothers Restaurant – Still Setting the Standard

By the Gastronomes With the arrival of spring and days getting warmer, our attention is more and more intrigued with al fresco dining. With all of the restrictions brought about by COVID, the pandemic had a cause and effect for our city that city officials could not pull off for many years…more al fresco dining options. In addition to establishing a pedestrian space in the 100 block of King Street, the city and merchant groups were able to get parking spaces as dedicated dining spaces throughout Alexandria and the rush was on. This month we decided to visit what we consider the anchor restaurant of Old Town. I have been a customer of Landini’s for about 40 years and I am not the only one. While many of the regulars are no longer with us, a good number are still around. My partner has been frequenting this place since she arrived in Old Town in 1992 and it remains one of our most favorite places for many reasons. Landini’s has been the “go-to” establishment for special occasions, business lunches and dinners, birthdays and just getting together with friends. The pandemic and all of its restraints put a strain on gatherings for over a year so it is good to be back on track again. On a personal note, this restaurant is also a very effective first date destination if you want to impress… We will get to the food shortly but first I have to mention the staff and the building itself. Over the past 40 years the bar at Landini’s has been akin to any boardroom in the city. Businessmen and women choose Landini’s as the place to meet and be seen. What makes the bar so special is the caliber of the bartenders year in and year out….

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Let's Eat, Wining & Dining

Time for Easter Dinner: Let’s Skip the Ham and Make Some Lamb…Shanks!

by Chef Charles Oppman With Easter just around the corner, it’s time to break out the lamb recipes. When we think spring lamb, most of think of that boneless roast or a bone-in leg, but let’s try something different. Of course, French cut lamb chops are wonderful, but expensive and lack flavor. Why not do lamb shanks? This is a great cut of lamb for several reasons―fairly inexpensive, bursting with flavor, soft texture and high collagen (when heated, collagen dissolves to provide flavor and gelatinous texture). A meat shank or shin is the portion of meat around the tibia of the animal, the leg bone beneath the knee. Since the leg muscles are well developed they tend to be tough must be braised or slow-baked in the oven. This recipe calls for the braising in the oven. As with any cut of lamb, the shanks are delicious with mint sauce. Please don’t resort to mint jelly. Fresh mint sauce is a snap to make. You just add mint leaves and a pinch of sugar to the natural juices. This is an easy recipe that you’ll love. One caveat, the bone in lamb shanks can be large (this is a good thing because this means more flavor) so compensate for this when judging how many shanks to cook. Ingredients 3-4 pounds of lamb shanks ¼ cup vegetable oil 1 teaspoon table salt 1 teaspoon black pepper 1 cup onion, diced 1 cup celery, diced 2 tablespoon fresh garlic, chopped 4 bay leaves 1 teaspoon thyme leaves 2 cups beef broth, canned is fine 1 tablespoon Worstershire sauce 6 sprigs fresh mint, finely chopped Method In a heavy skillet or Dutch oven heat the oil over a high flame. Salt and pepper the shanks and sear in hot oil on all sides…

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