Saturday, April 22, 2017

Common Roots' new tanks triple size of its current ones

New tanks at Common Roots (photo provided)
How big are beer tanks these days? Well, in the case of Common Roots Brewing Co. in South Glens Falls, just compare the size of their new 60-barrel stainless steel tanks with the size of the truck delivering them in the photo above.

The tanks arrived Thursday from Fronhofer Design LLC of nearby Cossayuna, Washington County. They are three times the size of Common Roots' current cellar tanks. They were paid for by part of a $100,000 grant to the family-owned brewery as part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council awards.

The brewery was founded by the father-son team of Bert and Christian Weber in 2013 and makes Belgian-inspired brews. It is located at 58 Saratoga Avenue. Phone: (518) 409-8248.
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Savoy Tap Room debuts its spring-summer menu

The Savoy Taproom's spring-summer menu has debuted, and chef Riyonna Caswell has some interesting offerings lined up at the Albany restaurant, many of which should pair well with Savoy's signature cocktail list.

A few examples:

Jalapeño popper deviled eggs (crispy fried hard boiled eggs, jalapeño egg yolk filling, grana padana cheese, greens); Chef Riyonna's mac-and-cheese (with chorizo and caramelized apple); cheese boards, hummus boards, and charcuterie boards; shrimp and scallop truffle risotto; house made fettucine with black garlic cream sauce; cherry brandy pomegranate strip steak, and the Savoy burgers that begin with a blend of short rib and brisket.

The Savoy is located at 301 Lark Street, long them home of Justin's, in downtown Albany. Phone: (518) 599-5140.
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Thursday, April 20, 2017

City Beer Hall cooking dinner at Common Roots Brewing

Beer-and-food pairing dinners usually are held at restaurants. Here's one going in the other direction.

Common Roots Brewing in South Glens Falls will be hosting such an event, called "An Evening of Wild beers," cooked by visiting staff from Albany's City Beer Hall.

The five-course dinner, set for 6 p.m. next Tuesday, will feature food paired with Common Roots’ special sour and barrel-aged beers, some exclusive to the event. Reservations, priced at $60 including tax and tip, must be purchased in advance online.

Common Roots is located at 58 Saratoga Avenue. Phone: (518) 409-8248.
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Brooklyn Crush's spring edition is in the works

The Brooklyn Crush Wine & Artisanal Food Festival is becoming a major player in the state's pantheon of such events. The "spring edition" of the biannual event is set for Saturday, May 13, at Industry City in the borough's Sunset Park.

The tasting will feature more than 175 wines, ciders and other adult drinks, as well as light fare and hors d’oeuvres, plus numerous artisan food tables offering samples of charcuterie, baked goods, olive oils, vegan selections, cheeses, non-alcoholic beverages, salsas and spreads, chocolates, and other specialty foods. Providers will offer full-sized items for patrons to purchase.

Old, new and emerging wine regions will be showcased, including varietals from the U.S. -- with several New York State wineries to be featured, Brazil, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and South America. Vendor and winery lineups will be regularly updated on the festival website.

Tickets now are on sale, priced from $59 to $120, depending upon ticket level and time of purchase. Additional details of the event and ticket purchasing are available online.
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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hobby winemakers conference set for Cornell University

Reservations now are being accepted for the annual WineMaker Magazine Conference, set for  June 1-4 at Cornell University in Ithaca.

The four-day event targeting hobby winemakers will include dozens of seminars and other events. Organizers are cautioning anyone contemplating attending that the last time the conference was held in the Finger Lakes it sold out several months early.

Among scheduled speakers are Kathy Arnink, who teaches enology courses in Cornell's enology and viticulture program in the Food Science Department; Peter Brehm, owner of Brehm Vineyards in California where he has been helping amateur winemakers for more than 45 years, and Meaghan Frank, fourth generation of the Frank family to manage Dr. Konstantin Frank's Winery in the Finger Lakes.

A downloadable conference brochure and registration information are available online.
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Schoharie meadery plans move to Delmar site

From the Times Union
Royal Meadery of  Schoharie County is moving its operation to Delmar's Four Corners, next to The Real McCoy Beer Co.

Royal Meadery, which makes fermented honey beverages, was launched in 2015 in by Gregory Wilhelm, a SUNY Cobleskill graduate who originally put his operation in Richmondville under the state's Start-Up New York program.

Wilhelm is now planning to move Royal Meadery into the former Boxley's car detailing site behind the Delmar Post Office on Delaware Avenue.
Go here for the full story.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Albany's 'Champagne On the Park' tickets now on sale

Tickets now are on sale for the annual "Champagne On the Park" fundraiser for Albany's Lark Street Business Improvement District (BID).

The Thursday, May 11, event in Washington Park's tulip beds will feature the Graham Tichy Band and honor leaders of the Lark Street community for their positive impact on the neighborhood. There will be, among other attractions, hors d'oeuvres and desserts from neighborhood restaurants and food purveyors, Champagne and wine from Capital Wine & Spirits, cider from Nine Pin Ciderworks, craft beer from Chatham Brewing, photos by Rose & Dale, and cigars from Habana Premium Cigar Shoppe.

Tickets, available online, range from $65 to $80 and various offers expire at different times.
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Monday, April 17, 2017

Angelo's 677 Prime going high-end Mexican for a night

A part of the 677 Prime dining room (photo provided)
Angelo’s 677 Prime in Albany is going Mexican for a night. No, not that low-brow or Tex-Mex stuff, but rather a thoughtfully created menu paired with a selection of tequilas and mescals.

The meal will begin at 6 p.m. Friday, May 5. Reservations, which are required, are $100 per person not incuding tax and tip and priced at $100 per person, plus tax and tip, so you're somewhere in the $125-$130 range.

The beverage and food menus, all involving Don Julio brand spirits, are available here.

Angelo's is located at 677 Broadway. Reservations: (518) 427-7463.
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Cornell planning craft beer roundtable seminar

Cornell University will host a two-day CHR Craft Beer Roundtable seminar for people involved, or who want to be involved, in the craft beer industry.

The event, scheduled for Sunday, April 30, and Monday, May 1, will include speakers and specialty panelists from Cornell's School of Hotel Management and its SC Johnson College of Business as well as other colleges, representatives of several leading craft brewing companies, the Brewers Association and the New York State Brewers Association.

Discussion topics include:
• Deepening the Customer Connection: Sharing Your "Authentic" Story
• Beer Ratings, What Does That Mean?
• What Shall We Call Our Beer?
• The Old College Try: How Can the Collegiate World and the Beer Industry Benefit From One Another?
The full agenda and list of participating speakers is available online, as is registration information.
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Saturday, April 15, 2017

13 entries lead the pack in 'World Whiskies Awards'

Judged 'world's best bourbon'
The 2017 winners in Whisky Magazine's "World Whiskies Awards" are out. As always, they are an adventure in trying to see if you've heard of even half the winners, given the limits of production, global distribution, and affordable price points.

You can find the long, long list of awards in many, many categories -- including the separate judging results for American-made spirits -- online. Meanwhile, here are the "world's best" awardees in the 13 major categories.
  • Best Bourbon – John J. Bowman Single Barrel Bourbon
  • Best Canadian Blended – Gooderham & Worts
  • Best Flavoured – J.P. Wiser’s Hopped Whisky
  • Best Corn – Ironroot Republic Hubris Corn Whiskey
  • Best Irish Single Pot Still – Redbreast 21 Years Old
  • Best Rye – A.D. Laws Secale Straight Rye Bottled in Bond
  • Best Wheat – Bainbridge Battle Point
  • Best Blended Limited Release – J.P. Wiser’s Dissertation
  • Best Blended Malt – Johnnie Walker Green Label
  • Best Blended – Hibiki 21 Years Old
  • Best Single Cask Single Malt – Venture Chichibu Whisky Matsuri
  • Best Single Malt – Craigellachie 31 Years Old 
  • Best Grain – Fuji-Gotemba Single Grain 25 Years Old Small Batch

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Dyngus Day bash set for Monday at Troy's The Hill at Muza

In the beer garden (photo provided)
For those unfamiliar with Dyngus Day, Troy restaurateur Adam Siemiginowski has a simple explanation.

"Dyngus Day is like Saint Patrick's Day, but with a lot of crazy Polish stuff," said Siemiginowski of The Hill at Muza. "It's a big party with friends and family the Monday after Easter, when Lent is finally over and you can just let loose."

They'll be letting loose at The Hill, a European-style beer garden behind the 15th Street restaurant Muza, located just off the RPI campus. Entrance to the beer garden is on the Congress Street side. Once inside,  visitors -- who are encouraged to wear red or red and white, the Polish colors, in honor of the day's tradition -- will find live polka music by the Eddie Forman Orchestra of Hadley, MA, from noon to 4 p.m., and DJ Podeswa from 4 to 8 p.m.

An a la carte menu will feature handmade pierogi, kielbasa rolls, stuffed cabbage, euro burgers and the like at multiple food stations indoors in the restaurant and outdoors in the garden. Beer will include Zywiec lager on draft and a selection of Eastern European and American beers in bottles and cans. Beer will be served at the bar, in the restaurant, by servers in the beer garden, and on the street as part of the official block party.

Siemiginowski -- pronounced shim-ig-in-ow-ski -- is a first-generation Polish-American who opened the beer garden in late 2015 behind Muza, owned by his parents Jan and Alicja and operated by them and their daughter Agata.
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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Brewers Association takes aim at classless beer names

From Food & Wine
No more Batshit ale.

Drinking a couple brews is known to lower people’s inhibitions, but when it comes to naming beers, the Brewers Association (BA) wants its members to keep their wits about them. This week, the trade group for small and independent brewers announced it no longer would allow beers with offensive or sexist names to be marketed using the association’s intellectual property.

Importantly, the Brewers Association runs two of the world’s most prestigious beer competitions, the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup.

The BA’s new policy effectively prevents offensively named beers from displaying any medals won at these competitions in their marketing materials. Additionally, though the BA says these beers can still be entered in its competitions, if one happened to win, the victory will not be publically acknowledged. “If a brewery with an offensive name or label were to win an award, we would not read that name from the stage,” said Bob Pease, BA president and CEO.
Go here for the full story.
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Bill would allow out-of-state wine shipments to New Yorkers

From The Business Wire

ALBANY -- With the introduction of Assembly Bill 5991, New York State is poised to open the door for the state's wine consumers to enter the 21st Century.

The bill, sponsored by Assembly Member Amy Paulin of Westchester County -- a graduate of UAlbany -- would give New York wine consumers the right to receive wine shipments from out-of-state wine stores, internet retailers, wine-of-the-month clubs and wine auction houses.

The National Association of Wine Retailers (NAWR) today announced its support for her bill. In addition, a number of the state's major wine retailers endorsed the legislation along with its commitment to free and fair trade.

NAWR also has established a new website that provides New Yorkers with access to a variety of tools for supporting the change to the laws governing how the state’s consumers access the wines they want.

“Consumers of fine wine in New York State are slowly learning that it is currently illegal for them to receive shipments from out-of-state wine stores. They cannot fathom why these shipments would be illegal, while out of state wineries, New York state wineries, and New York state retailers are legally able to ship them wine.” said Tom Wark, NAWR executive director. “A5991 would give New Yorkers access to nearly every wine available in the American marketplace and that is a privilege that they should have had years ago.”

The bill also would increase tax revenue by requiring that out-of-state retailers remit sales tax to New York. Protections against minors obtaining the wine are also in the bill and mimic the same requirements for adult signatures at the time of deliver that are required of wineries that ship wine into the state.
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Basil Hayden's brings its first rye whiskey to market

The next time you're reaching for a bottle of Basil Hayden's in your favorite liquor store, be careful you get what you're there for.

Not that you'd be terribly disappointed, just confused if you didn't know the iconic bourbon brand now is offering a rye whiskey.

The spicy finish of Basil Hayden’s Bourbon comes from its use of about twice as much rye as most traditional bourbons. Brand owner Beam-Suntory wanted to take that mash content a step further and now has unveiled Basil Hayden’s Rye Whiskey.

It begins as a straight four-year-old rye whiskey that is rebarreled for an additional seven years in newly-charred quarter cask oak barrels. A portion of it then is blended with traditional straight rye whiskey to create  the final product.

“The spicy character of rye has always been a signature part of what makes Basil Hayden’s special, so creating a rye whiskey was a natural fit,” said Rob Mason, Beam Suntory's VP for bourbon, in a prepared statement. “This limited edition release gives our fans a chance to experience everything they love about Basil Hayden’s Bourbon -- its spicy character, smoothness and approachable nature -- in an interesting rye whiskey expression.”

The 80-proof whiskey is bottled and packaged in the familiar brand packaging which includes a parchment bib and copper belt. It sells for a suggested retail price of about $45.
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Update: Saturday's 'Drink Schenectady' event has 19 entries

UPDATE (4/13/17): Mad Jack Brewing Co. and Hudson-Chatham Winery have been added to the original list below that I posted for the "Drink Schenectady" event schedule for this Saturday at the Schenectady Armory.

(Originally published 3/1/17)

The Capital Craft Beverage Trail will be leading to Schenectady next month, when "Drink Schenectady" shows off  a wide range of local craft beverage makers' products.

The event will run from 2 to 6 p.m. (VIP admission at 2) on Saturday, April 15, at the Schenectady Armory, 125 Washington Avenue. Live music, food vendors and games are included.

Tickets are available now online. General admission covers four hours of tasting plus a souvenir glass. VIP admission includes an extra hour of tasting. All proceeds for the event go to benefit the Capital Craft Beverage Trail Association.

Scheduled producers:
  • Albany Distilling Company
  • Nine Pin Cider 
  • C.H. Evans Brewing 
  • Albany Pump Station 
  • Druthers Brewing Company 
  • Helderberg Brewery 
  • Helderberg Mountain Brewing Company 
  • Indian Ladder Farmstead Cidery and Brewery 
  • The Beer Diviner 
  • Wolf Hollow Brewing Company 
  • Brown's Brewing Company 
  • S&S Farm Brewery 
  • Altamont Vineyard and Winery 
  • Common Roots Brewing Company 
  • Crossroads Brewing Company 
  • Chatham Brewing 
  • Upstate Distilling Company 

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tasting: Purus Organic Vodka

The word "organic" doesn't automatically impress me. Too often it is used to describe a food or drink that has no authentic requirements to use that description. And, it often means "more expensive" without a discernibly superior flavor or texture.

That said, Purus Organic Vodka is pretty good stuff. And, it's inexpensive.

Purus is produced in Italy's Piedmont region at the foot of the Italian Alps by the Sacchetto family distillery. It is made from water from the snow-capped mountains and certified-organic/non-GMO wheat from the family's farm, and is filtered through 1.7 million square meters of active charcoal after a five-distillation process, finishing at 40% abv (80 proof).

Purus began attracting attention a decade ago as a boutique entry in the chronically crowded world vodka market. It received a score of 97 from the Ultimate Spirits Challenge, the highest rating ever given to a vodka in the competition’s history, and has been slowly expanding since then. This year, it has embarked on an expansion to more American markets.

The bottle, wide at the bottom, with a long, curving neck, is reminiscent of old hand-made Italian wine bottles. And, a composite stopper gives the appearance of a wine cork. Both the bottle and the stopper are recyclable, part of the brand's environmentally sustainable mantra.

What's inside is a pleasant experience. Unlike most good premium potato vodkas which I find to be the smoothest, sweetest of them all, many medium- to low-priced grain vodkas too often have a roughness to the mouthfeel, and an unwelcome heat on the throat. Purus has neither, its initial light aroma a bit nutty and yeasty, its finish light and elegant. As the base for a martini, with a splash of  Noilly Pratt dry vermouth, it is a smooth, refreshing drink.

Purus is available at a suggested retail price of $19.99 for the 750ml bottle.
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Update 2: Cuomo moviehouse drinks plan bites the dust

Beer and wine are sold in this California theater where clip-on trays also holds food items.
UPDATE 2 (4/12/17): Governor Andrew Cuomo's push to allow all movie houses in the state to sell alcoholic drinks failed to get enough support in the Legislature to become reality. Neither the Republican-led Senate nor the Democrat-led Assembly included it in their budget proposals, and the final budget passed over the weekend did not include any provisions for the measure. Current state law prevents movie theaters from selling such beverages unless the venue also serves restaurant-style food and has tables to go with every seat.

UPDATE (1/20/17): In one of his budget speeches this week, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he would propose granting approval for movie theaters to serve wine and beer, as well as incentives to encourage them to be sure those are New York State products. The catch -- and isn't there always a catch with government? -- is that Cuomo's actual paperwork reveals that such service would NOT be restricted to wine and beer, and there is no provision for incentives for using state products.

(Originally published 1/18/17)

In New York State you can sip a beer or a glass of wine while watching a standup comic perform live, listen to a lounge singer-pianist or a jazz quintet, or even stroll through a gallery to see an art collection or hear a speaker. If alcohol-friendly Governor Andrew Cuomo has his way, you'll be able to enjoy the same beverages while taking in a movie.

There is a small handful of movie houses in the state allowed to sell such beverages now, a result of a succesful 2011 lawsuit filed by Nitehawk Cinemas seeking such a privilege, but they must have table seating and offer a full restaurant menu. Hardly the same as sitting in your neighborhood moviehouse and sloching back into a comfy overstuffed seat while you take in the latest version of the "Hunger Games" franchise, and hardly a sufficient-sized venue to handle crowds for first-run films.

During his budget address delivered publicly on Tuesday, Cuomo said that in addition to dozens of revenue and regulation recommendations, "We also had a proposal that would allow alcohol and beer to be sold in movie theaters. And, it would be joined with an incentive program, to incentivize the movie theaters to sell New York wine and beer."

If successful, the proposal would be just another step in a long series of moves by the governor to aid the state's wine/spirits/brewing industry by simplifying regulations, expanding tax credits, creating promotional programs, and speeding up licensing.

“It is a very big industry for us," Cuomo said. "We have developed it, it’s going gangbusters, anything we can do to encourage it. It’s especially successful in Upstate New York."

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Beak & Skiff emerging as an Upstate multi-spirits producer

Kombucha is ever-so-slowly staking a claim to a small slice of the adult beverage market in New York State. The latest company hoping to make the fermented tea product a substantial part of its business is the Beak & Skiff Apple Orchards and its spirits line called 1911 Establishment.

The Lafayette, Onondaga County, operation is in the midst of a push that potentially will make it a major player in the overall spirits industry. It is constructing a $3.5 million, 20,000-square-foot juice facility adjacent to its apple-pressing building on the south side of Route 20, just east of Route 80.

Across Route 20, a 2,000-square-foot rickhouse will be built next to the 1911 Distillery, which opened in 2009. Eventually, the  barrel-aging facility will hold as many as 600 barrels. As part of the local emphasis, the barrels are made by Adirondack Cooperage of Remsen, just north of Utica.

While the various spirits will need to spend some time being barrel aged before going to market, Beak & Skiff will gain revenue from products of the new juice facility. It expects fresh apple cider this fall, and natural drinks such as kombucha ready for market in 2018. In an interview with, Beak & Skiff general manager Ed Brennan said the kombucha likely will be produced at Beak & Skiff for another company, using that company's brand name.

"We don't want to rush things," Brennan said. "We want to differentiate ourselves, have something that stands out." Joe Bergan, 1911 distiller, concurs. "We're not going to hustle something out just to get it out," he said.

Beak & Skiff is anything but a newcomer to Upstate New York. It began, according to the company's official history, in 1911 "when George Skiff, an onion farmer on the North Side of Syracuse, and Andrew Beak, a dairy farmer, met at the farmers market and decided it would be fruitful to join forces and enter the emerging apple business. They found that the hillside area along Route 20 provided the perfect conditions for growing apples and began planting that very year."

The company is located at 2708 Lords Hill Road, Lafayette. Phone: (315) - 696-6085.

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Admiral Nelson's adding 10th flavored rum to its line

Admiral Nelson’s rum is adding its 10th flavor this month.

The Heaven Hill Brands' label will release Admiral Nelson’s Pineapple Rum, a flavored spirit bottled at 35% abv (70 proof). It will carry a suggested retail price of about $11 for the 750ml bottle.

Current flavors of Admiral Nelson’s rum include the flagship Admiral Nelson’s Spiced, Black Patch Black Spiced, 101 Proof Spiced, Cherry Spiced, Coconut, Vanilla, Dark, Silver and Gold varieties. They all are available in all standard sizes and bottled between 35-50.5% alcohol by volume (70 to 101 proof).

Other Heaven Hill spirits include such labels as Evan Williams Bourbon, Elijah Craig Bourbon, Deep Eddy Vodka, Burnett’s vodkas and gin, Hpnotiq Liqueur, Christian Brothers brandies,  PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur, Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur, Lunazul Tequila, and Rittenhouse Rye Whisky.
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Vodka vs. rye battle crops up

Q: What do you get from the maker of Crop Harvest Earth Organic Vodka if you are the maker of WhistlePig FarmStock Rye Whiskey with the designation Crop No. 001?

A: A cease-and-desist letter to stop using the word "crop."

New York' Chatham Imports apparently thinks sales of its Crop Harvest line of plain and flavored vodkas somehow will be negatively impacted by the Vermont distiller's rye whiskey being labeled with the number of its grain crop harvest.


Chatham Imports contends that its vodka is well known and widely distributed and has a firm grip on the word "crop." WhistlePig responds that its spirit is rye whiskey and has nothing to do with vodka.

Stay tuned to see how this pressing matter of commerce resolves itself.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Beer Diviner tops the field in IPA tasting event

The Beer Diviner, a Rensselaer County nanobrewery, won a taste-off among 10 India Pale Ales brewed in the Capital Region that was part of the 6th annual Hudson Valley Hops Festival.

The Saturday event, held at the Albany Institute of History & Art, was judged by a trio of  Albany professionals -- Dimitrios Menagias of The City Beer Hall, Tess Colins of McGeary's, and Kevin Tighe of the in-development Bistro Americain. They gave owner/brewmaster Jonathan Post's IPA 80 of a possible 90 points.

Finishing in second and third places, respectively, were Chatham Brewing (74) and Adirondack Brewery (71).

Other IPAs were entered by S&S, Brown's, Shmaltz, C.H. Evans/Albany Pump Station, Clemson Bros., Green Wolf, and Rip Van Winkle.

The Beer Diviner has a taproom and market at 461 Broadway in Troy (518-729-0200) and a brewery and taproom at 243 Bly Hollow Road in Petersburgh (518) 210-6196.
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Clinton Vineyards tasting room reopening with tax-free days

Clinton Vineyards' intimate, attractive tasting room is always a warm-weather treat, so it's good news that owner Phyllis Feder today announced it will open for the season on Saturday.

To mark the occasion, as well as the winery's 40th vintage anniversary which will introduce the latest version of its signature seyval blanc, Feder notes: "The celebration begins with our tasting room opening  on April 15. That's the day people usually pay their taxes. However, not for friends of Clinton Vineyards. We are offering tax free shopping this Saturday and Sunday between 1 and 5 p.m. So, no worries about the tax on your wine purchase. We'll pick up that part of the bill."

Clinton Vineyards is located at 450 Schultzville Road in Clinton Corners, Dutchess County. Phone: (845) 266-5372.
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Sunday, April 9, 2017

Update: Glass Tavern introducing Sunday brunch service

One corner of the restaurant's dining area. (photos provided)
UPDATE (4/9/17): The Glass Tavern in Glenville, which opened last fall, is adding Sunday brunch service, beginning with a traditional Easter brunch next Sunday (April 16). For the holiday, brunch hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and thereafter 11 am to 3 p.m.

UPDATE (9/27/16): The Glass Tavern has scheduled an official grand opening party for 3 to 10 p.m. Saturday, October 8. Live music, free hors d’oeuvres, tastings of Wolf Hollow Brewing beers, and a pig roast are on the schedule. 

 (Originally published 8/7/16) 

Socha Plaza exterior
When you look at the exterior of the Socha Plaza 115 building in Glenville, what you see is glass. Everywhere. So, it is not surprising its latest tenant is called The Glass Tavern. However, inside the new restaurant, scheduled for an official opening next Sunday but operating in soft mode as of today, it’s anything but glass.

The new venue opposite the airport is owned by Plaza developer Bill Socha and restaurateur Christopher Evans. It is reminiscent of classic dining clubs, all book shelves and dark wood and stone and soft lighting and a generally cushy atmosphere accented by a large stone fireplace. It seats about 200 on the patio, in the bar, the main dining room, and a library room. Much of the venue was constructed using reclaimed material from Socha’s grandparents’ farm on Waite Road in Clifton Park, and wood from two Lake Luzerne barns that were leveled for re-use.

Chef Yair de la Rosa
The menu is steak and seafood-centric, with beef sourced from Iowa Premium which specializes in USDA Prime Black Angus beef. Among the interesting-sounding offerings are a raw bar featuring ceviche; a carpet bagger steak dish (grilled filet mignon, fried oysters, tavern potatoes, housemade steak sauce) for $24; braised short rib mac-n-cheese and Nashville chicken (with hot butter sauce, cauliflower made, green beans), at $16 each; Irish curry fries (with cheddar cheese, curry sauce, bacon) at $7; oysters turtlefeller (with spinach, bacon and Parmesan) at $16; and, a “seafood harvest” (grilled gulf fish, crab-stuffed lobster tail, oysters turtlefeller, rice, vegetable, citrus beurre blanc) at $29.

The beverage menu offers eight draft and 15 bottled beers; a line of very reasonably-priced specialty cocktails including a Glass Martini (Chopin Black potato vodka, blue cheese-stufed olives) and The Looking Glass (Skyy peach infused vodka , Larceny Bourbon, cranberry juice, sweet and sour, squeeze of lime) at $10 each; a Naughty Dog (Bulldog English Gin, Campari liqueur, orange juice, Martini and Rossi sweet vermouth) at $9, and a Rumchata Taver-Tini (Rumchata liqueur, Malibu coconut rum, pineapple juice, shaken and served as a martini) at $8; and, a 30-plus label wine list grouped by price points (eight at $25 per bottle, eight at $35, six at $45, and six at $60, with most available by the glass).

The Glass Tavern is part the SoEva Hospitality Group, co-founded by Socha and Evans. Together, they purchased the Turtle Club Coastal Tavern & Claw Bar in Punta Gorda, FL, in 2015. The Glass Tavern menu was created by Yair de la Rosa who had worked for them at their Florida restaurant and moved here to be the startup chef.

The restaurant entrance is in the lobby of the Socha Plaza building at 115 Saratoga Road, Glenville. Phone: (518) 952-7443.

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DC loosens restrictions on sale of alcoholic beverages

As of this month, consumers in Washington, DC, have more options to purchasing alcohol.

Mayor Muriel Bowser signed a new law that "allows District businesses to expand areas of their operations consistent with other jurisdictions,” Fred Moosally, director of the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, said in a news release. “It also clarifies existing law for licensees and the public.”

Here are the highlights:
•  Craft beer brewers in the District who had been limited to selling beer by growler or jug now are permitted to sell in cans, kegs and bottles.

• Distillers in the District who had been limited to making cocktails in which only their spirit could be the primary ingredient now open to mix freely.

• Grocery stores can expand beyond beer and sell wine, cider and mead in growlers.

• Hotels now may sell beer and wine in their convenience stores, not just in the hotel bar and restaurant.

• Bed and breakfast operations with fewer than 30 guest rooms now may serve alcohol to registered guests as part of a room fee.

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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Raindancer renovation embraces demand for tap craft beers

Raindancer expands bar seating. (photo provided)
From the Amsterdam Recorder
AMSTERDAM -- With 37 different beers on draft, it doesn’t matter if someone prefers dark and roasted over fruity and sour flavors when stopping for a drink at he Raindancer. They can even check the BeerMenus app before headed in to see every style available on the menu that night.

Walter Porath, operations manager, said... “We were dabbling before and now we are full fledged in" the craft beer scene. “It’s definitely worked, we’ve had tremendous feedback from the customers. They love it just as much as we do.”

Porath said renovation ... nearly doubled the size of the bar [adding] 23 seats to the bar area. He said the customer size in the bar has increased. “It was seats that we would only fill when it was a banquet and when it was a banquet large enough to fill that room,” Porath said. “We had that opportunity to fill that seat every day or several times a week.”
Go here for the full story on changes at the 37-year-old restaurant.
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Jack Daniel's new cider getting UK debut before U.S. rollout

Flavored whiskies are not new in the Jack Daniel’s portfolio, but ciders? Yes, the iconic Tennessee distiller has added a new, higher-profile cider to its offerings.

This particular 5.5% ABV (11 proof) cider is made from a blended apple spirits base.

Even though the demand for hard cider is steadily increasing in the U.S., it has been a staple in the United Kingdom since the late  Middle Ages. So, JD owner Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands (BBFB) is introducing the new spirit there on May 1 before it becomes available in any other market and before its official global launch. It will the equivalent of about $6 U.S.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Martha Stewart the latest celebrity wine merchant

Martha ogling wine.
It is difficult to go through a month without a celebrity of some kind introducing a wine, whiskey or tequila. The latest is Martha Stewart.

The Emmy Award-winning television show host, entrepreneur, bestselling author of 88 books, and Sequential Brands Group Inc. this week announced the launch of Martha Stewart Wine Co., an online wine shop.

The offerings include "a collection of wines tasted and selected by Martha from the world’s great wine regions, plus a special collection of 'Martha’s Favorites' that she reaches for first when entertaining family and friends. An expert panel, which includes Chris Hoel, the former sommelier of The French Laundry, and Martha Stewart Wine Co.’s in-house winemaker, consulted with vintners from around the world to develop the

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Imbibeable Cartoonery

A gallery of artwork honoring those who draw conclusions. 

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New World, Rare Form teaming up for pairing dinner

Chef Ric Orlando prides himself on using as many local ingredients as possible in his meals at New World Bistro Bar in Albany. So, why not go local for the accompanying beverages?

He will host a multi-course dinner featuring beer from Rare Form Brewing of Troy at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 17. Reservations, which are required and may be made by calling New World, are $65 pr person.

New World Bistro Bar is located at 300 Delaware Avenue. Phone: (518) 694-0520.

The menu:

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Villa Bellangelo unveils a new 'bench' series of wines

"I'm obsessed with texture," winemaker Chris Missick said as he poured the latest wine in the series of wines by Villa Bellangelo called "Bench" at a tasting in the winery's new library tasting room. The title, short for "bench trial," refers to a limited run series that allows the Bellangelo winemaking team to seek out experimental, textural expressions of the wines it crafts each vintage. The newest wine in the lineup is a 2015 Riesling.

Bench emerged from a collection of barrel projects that started at the winery some years ago. The lineup of current releases includes the 2013 Fifty 50, a hal- white Pinot Noir and half-Chardonnay blend aged in neutral oak for two years, and three separate 2014 skin fermented white wines from Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Seyval Blanc grapes. 

The new release, to be made this month, will be a very different take on Riesling. The 2015 Bench Riesling was uninoculated for its primary fermentation, aged in neutral barrels, and permitted to go through malolactic fermentation. The results, says winemaker Chris Missick, "are a striking change for the person familiar with Finger Lakes Rieslings. Combining citrus with a softer acidity than is typical for the region, and perhaps closer in line with a cold climate Chardonnay than a typical cold climate Riesling, the 2015 Bench Riesling offers an exciting curiosity to the 2015 line-up of Rieslings produced from Bellangelo."

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Davidson Brothers successor supports 'Wild Whisker' contest

The initial event for the new Lake George Beer Hub picks up on one its predecessor, the Davidson Brothers Brewery, had championed.

On April 8, the company will host the 3rd annual "Wild Whiskers Beard Contest," a fundraiser for the Chapman Historical Society in Glens Falls. Given the current beard mania, plenty of entries are expected.

The public event will have a live radio broadcast via WEQX, barbers and tattoo artists on site, a food truck, and plenty of beards. The $5 door fee will be donated to the Chapman and cover the first beer. Contestants for the contest may register in advance or at the door for a $20 fee.  Full contest details are available online.

The Lake George Beer Hub is located at 1043 State Route 9 in Queensbury. Phone: (518) 223-0372.
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Ex-Marotta's set to reopen as Rare Craft Steak & Cocktail House

Last December, I wrote that Marotta's Bar-Risto in Schenectady had been sold and would reopen as a steakhouse "sometime this spring." Now we have the date.

Josh Mackenberg, former managere of Marotta's, and business partner Joseph Boudreau have announced the reopening of the 611 Union Street venue on Wednesday, April 26, as Rare Craft Steak & Cocktail House.

Today, they began offering a sneak peek at the new menu (the Marotta's menu will continue to be served until the changeover): lemon chicken (lightly breaded chicken cutlets, pan seared and simmered in a lemon/roasted garlic /white wine sauce with capers and artichokes, served  over Parmesan risotto with chef's vegetable; steak fresca pizza (pesto sauce, fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and grilled strip steak, finished with goat cheese, basil, and white balsamic drizzle).

Their Facebook message says, "We know that some of you have ... concerns? ... about the new

RS Taylor & Sons Brewery to open Saratoga tasting room

Site of new RS Taylor brewery tasting room.
RS Taylor & Sons Brewery of Washington County, is expanding into downtown Saratoga Springs.

An announcement made today said, "We have leased a 1,600-square-foot space in Congress Plaza. This will be the second RST tap room and will feature 12 taps of our small-batch farm-brewed beer, as well as a curated selection of quality farm-brewed beers from other parts of New York State."

Congress Plaza already is home to such businesses as Three Vines Bistro & Bar, Purdy’s Discount Wine & Liquor, I LOVE NY Pizza, Kinjo Japanese Steakhouse, and Empire Wok.

The brewer plans to implement its cask ale program at the new venue, scheduled for an early June opening, featuring hand-pulled draughts on a beer engine. In addition to pint sales on premise, growler fills will be available for off-premises consumption  as well as 32-ounce growlers filled fresh.

Says R.S. himself on Facebook, "Now the hard work begins. It's just a vanilla box right now, but we have a farmhouse chic vision in our heads."

A Michigan aquavit named 'best in show' by craft spirits judges

An aquavit made by Long Road Distillers of Grand Rapids, MI, took "Best of Show" honors in the recent judging of craft spirits by the American Craft Spirits Association.

Long Road, Grand Rapids' first distillery, has been raking in numerous top awards in spirits judging since its creation several years ago. It operates as a distillery, restaurant and cocktail bar

Here are the top results. Go here for the full list of medalists in all categories. (Attention New Yorkers: Scroll down to see how your state's entries fared.)


Long Road Distillers Aquavit (also won Best Specialty Spirit)

Best of Vodka & Grain Spirits
Du Nord Craft Spirits L’etoile

Best of Gin
Tattersall Distilling Barreled Gin 

Best of Brandy
Huber’s Starlight Distillery Apple Brandy

Best of Rum
Artisan Grain Distillery Gold Rum

Best of Whiskey
Sonoma County Distilling Co. Straight Tye Whiskey


Vodka & Grain Spirits
• Caledonia Spirits -- Barr Hill Vodka
• Du Nord Craft Spirits -- L’etoile Du Nord

Craft spirits group announces new president, directors

The American Craft Spirits Association announced the appointment on Wednesday of Mark Shilling, co-founder of Revolution Spirits Distilling Co. in Austin, TX, as president of the ACSA board of directors. He succeeds Paul Hletko, who served the past year.

Shilling and the newly-elected and re-elected directors are tasked with ACSA Executive Director Margie A.S. Lehrman to address the key issues facing the craft distilling industry. P.T. Wood of Wood’s High Mountain Distillery in Colorado will serve as vice president, and Tom Jensen of New Liberty Distillery in Pennsylvania as secretary-treasurer.

The ACSA is the only registered non-profit trade association representing the U.S. craft spirits industry.  It cites its mission as being "is to elevate and advocate for the community of craft spirits producers."  Voting members must be independent licensed distillers annually removing fewer than 750,000 proof gallons from bond (the amount on which a Federal Excise Tax is paid.)

The full 2017 board of directors:

Maggie Campbell, Privateer Rum (MA)
Thomas Jensen, New Liberty Distillery (PA)
James Montero, Dogfish Head Distilling (DE)

Mike Blaum, Blaum Brothers Distilling Company (IL)
Colin Keegan, Santa Fe Spirits (NM)
Courtney McKee, Headframe Spirits (MT)
Chris Montana, Du Nord Craft Spirits (MN)
Dan Garrison, Garrison Brothers Distillery (TX)

Mark Shilling, Revolution Spirits (TX) P.T. Wood, Wood’s High Mountain Distillery (TX)

Dan Farber, Osocalis Distillery (CA)
Jake Holshue, Rogue Spirits (OR)
John Jeffrey, Bently Heritage (NV)
Orlin Sorensen, Woodinville Whiskey Co. (WA)

Matt Hofmann, Westland Distillery (WA)
Steve Johnson, Vermont Spirits (VT)
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Imbibeable Cartoonery

A gallery of artwork honoring those who draw conclusions. 

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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Distiller gets patent for quick-aging whiskey process

From Food & Wine
After working on it for years, the process is now on the books.
The craft spirits industry, like plenty of other craft food and beverage sectors, has seen a boom in the past decade. But many of these boozy upstarts are encountering a unique problem: Customers like whiskey that’s been aged for years and, if they can get it, decades. That’s a hard demand to meet when you’ve only been in business for six months.
However, a California distillery not only thinks it’s found a way to circumvent Father Time, it’s recently been issued patents covering these procedures, and the man behind this method says he can recreate 20 years’ worth of aging in under a week.
Go here for the full story.
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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Plumb Oyster Bar plans 'Fork, Cork and Shaker' pairing dinner

Brandon Schatko
If you haven't yet visited the fledgling Plumb Oyster Bar in downtown Troy, don't be fooled by the name. It's a lot more than it implies, especially since Brandon Schatko came aboard as executive chef of the restaurant Heidi Knoblauch opened late last year.

Schatko, formerly of the Whiteface Lodge in Lake Placid, made his official Troy debut on February 4, succeeding startup chef Scott Baggott. He is a native of the Detroit area who became an executive chef at the tender age of 21 at the Top of the Pontch at the downtown Crowne Plaza Hotel there. He was named "Best Chef-2016" by Detroit Metro Times.

He is teaming up with bar manager John Stahl, also formerly of the Whiteface Lodge, to present a dinner they call "Fork, Cork, and Shaker" at 6 p.m. Sunday,  April 23. It's limited to 25 seats at $90 per person (includes gratuity).

The menu:

Britain's oldest pub given a reopening church blessing

You're looking at real history here. Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, which dates to the 11th Century, is the oldest pub in Britain. Originally, it was the pigeon coop for the adjacent St. Albans Cathedral and still is connected to the landmark church by tunnels from the pub cellar that were used by monks.

Both are in the city of St. Albans, located in Hertfordshire, about 20 miles north-northwest of London.

The ancient pub (you can read its history here) recently underwent some cellar refurbishing and installed a new bar made of oak, and when it reopened this week Richard Watson, the sub-dean of the cathedral that is the oldest site of continuous Christian worship in Britain, showed up to offer a two-minute-long blessing of the establishment and the 16 different ales it offers.

As part of the blessing, Watson quoted from the writings of Brigid of Kildare, a 10th Century Irish saint:
“I would like to give a lake of beer to God, I would love the heavenly host to be tippling there for all eternity.

“I’d sit with the men and women of God there, by the lake of beer, we would be drinking good health together and every drop would be a prayer.”

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State grant helps Ithaca Beer Co. set up canning line

Canned craft beer is growing in New York State. Among the most recent examples are news that Brown's Brewing Company of Troy is taking that route, and this week the Ithaca Beer Company announced it has taken delivery of canning equipment that will allow it to do likewise -- and you are helping pay for it.

The 20-year-old company recently received a $175,000 state economic development grant, funded by taxpayers, to build its canning line. This comes about two years after its original plant was expanded to accommodate a bottling and canning operation.

It is expected that Ithaca will begin canning its signature Flower Power IPA sometime this month, according to marketing director Gregg Stacy. He said it will be available in six and 12 packs of 12-ounce cans. By Memorial Day, he said, Ithaca Beer will be offering Apricot Wheat in 12-ounce four packs.
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Friday, March 31, 2017

New Long Island cider tasting room goes beyond the norm

A look at the main tasting and dining area. (photos provided)
Cideries may briefly have been a poor cousin to wineries and breweries that were more in the mainstream mind and adept at marketing through well-appointed tasting rooms, but that is changing.

Now that cider, which in colonial times and beyond was the go-to adult beverage here and in the UK, has made a tremendous comeback, more and more cideries -- sometimes offshoots of wine- and beer-making operations -- are paying attention to their public face via tasting rooms.

An example of go-big-or-go-home is the Riverhead Ciderhouse, an 8,000-square-foot tasting room that just opened in the Long Island community regarded as the gateway to the East End wine region.

Greg Gove, whose resume includes stints as a winemaker with Hargrave and Pindar vineyards, is the cider master for the operation that offers a wide variety of apple ciders and other apple products along with locally-made beers and wines. He is using New York-grown apples to produce three ciders -- Benjamin’s Best, Razmatazz and Reserve cider.

The tasting room, which offers 24 beverages on tap, has a pair of floor-to-ceiling fireplaces,

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Ultimate Spirits Challenge winners announced

Final results were released Wednesday for the 7th annual Ultimate Spirits Challenge (USC), held at the Ultimate Beverage Challenge Evaluation Center in Hawthorn, Westchester County.

Noted writer F. Paul Pacult, the judging chairman, said, "One of the many advantages of having our own year-round facility is that instead of having to judge hundreds of spirits entries over a couple of days like other spirits competitions, we can take the time to break each category down into small flights. This means that USC judging panels focus on each flight with greater in-depth attention, resulting in more accurate assessments. We don't take shortcuts which is perhaps why USC experienced a 20% increase in entries this year."

Full results in all categories are available online. The Chairman's Trophy is the top award in each category. Here are those winners:

Alessio Vino Chinato

Yushan Cellaring 6 Years Old Kaoliang

• American: Bartlett Spirits of Maine Pear Eau-de-Vie
• Armagnac: Dartigalongue Grande Eau-de-Vie 25 Years Old Bas Armagnac
• Calvados: Roger Groult XO Pays d'Auge
• Cognac: Pierre Ferrand Reserve Double Cask
• French Brandy: Monteru Double Wood Triple Toast Finish
• Grappa: Poli Sarpa di Poli
• Pisco: Porton Acholado
• Spanish Brandy: Cardenal Mendoza Solera Gran Reserva Brandy de Jerez

Novo Fogo Tanager

• London Dry: Tanqueray
• World: Ferdinand's Saar Dry Gin

Grand Marnier Cuvée du Centenaire

Rey Campero Tepextate Joven

• Rum: Appleton Estate 21 Years Old
• Rhum Agricole: Clément VSOP
• Spiced Rum: Don Q Oak Barrel

• Blanco: Tequila Cabeza
• Reposado: Partida
• Añejo: Blue Nectar Founder's Blend
• Extra Añejo: El Tesoro Paradiso

Whisky - Canada
Lot 40 Canadian Rye WHISKEY

Whiskey - Ireland
• Blended: Jameson 18 Years Old
• Single Pot Still: Yellow Spot 12 Years Old
• Single Malt: The Irishman Small Batch

Whisky - Japan
Nikka Miyagikyo Single Malt

Whisky - Scotland
• Blended: Buchanan's Master
• Blended Malt: Usquaebach An Ard Ri Cask Strength 2016
• Single Malt-Highland: Glengoyne 15 Years Old
• Single Malt-Island: Highland Park Valkyrie
• Single Malt-Islay: Laphroaig 10 Years Old
• Single Malt-Speyside: BenRiach 20 Years Old

Whiskey - United States
• American: Wild Turkey Forgiven
• Kentucky Straight Bourbon: Col. E.H. Taylor Small Batch
• Rye: Hudson Manhattan Rye
• Single Malt: McCarthy's Oregon 3 Years Old

Whiskey - World
Paul John Peated Select Cask Indian Single Malt

Whiskey - World - Flavored
Catskill Provisions New York Honey

iichiko BLŪ

Alessio Vermouth Chinato

Flavored: Van Gogh Dutch Caramel
• Unflavored: Purity

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Update: 'Sneak preview' for former Bradley's Tavern in Troy

A well-lit venue
UPDATE (3/30/17): Entrepreneurs Vic Christopher and Heather LaVine will host what they term a "sneak preview" of The Bradley, their latest downtown Troy project, at 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The former Bradley's Tavern is located at 28 4th Street.

(Originally published 1/18/17)

No huge public announcement, but new owner Vic Christopher this evening posted this interior photo of the former Bradley's Tavern in downtown Troy, and referred to the venue as "The Bradley."

The spruced-up former dive bar that he and wife-business partner Heather LaVine purchased late last year has been open for only one day since then -- during the city's annual "Victorian Stroll" festival.

Christopher said after that several names were under consideration, including keeping Bradley's Tavern, perhaps resurrecting its original name -- Dempsey's Bar & Grill, or something entirely different.

No opening date has yet been announced for The Bradley, located at 28 Fourth Street.

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Researchers seek genetic clues to help grapes survive cold

Al Kovaleski visiting the Anthony Road Winery in Penn Yan. (Chris Kitchen/University Photography)
From the Cornell Chronicle
Months before northern vineyards burst into their lush summer peak, the delicate grape buds holding the nascent fruit in its tiny core must first withstand the freezing onslaught of winter.

Understanding how grape buds respond to subzero temperatures is of paramount concern to vineyard managers in New York and other northerly grape-producing states. Some of the more popular varieties used in the wine and juice industries can survive temperatures far below the freezing point of water. By a process known as supercooling, cellular mechanisms within the bud maintain water in liquid state down to around minus 4 to minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the species. Beyond a certain low-temperature threshold, ice forms inside the cells, cellular functions cease and the bud dies.

Horticulturists have long relied on traditional methods to study freezing in plants. Now a researcher in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is using powerful technologies on campus to explore in new ways the cellular mechanics that allow grape buds to survive brutal cold. The research has implications for vineyard economics, especially as climate change opens more northerly land for cultivation and current growing regions experience more extreme weather.
Go here for the full story.
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Wine legislation roundup: 50 states, 50 sets of rules

From Wine Spectator
With all the recent drama in Washington, DC it can be easy to forget that hundreds of lawmakers in state capitols are busy drafting and debating bills that could impact their constituents -- that's you.

The 2017 legislative season is currently under way in most states. And ,because the 21st Amendment to the Constitution delegates much of the power to regulate alcohol to the states, there are plenty of proposals that could change the way you buy and consume wine and other alcoholic beverages.

From the endless direct shipping wars to changes in blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) limits for driving to excise tax increases and exemptions to diapers and wine ice cream, here's a guide to the proposed laws now under debate.

Go here for the state-by-state update.
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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A popular pre-Prohibition KC spirit makes its return

After what could be termed a lengthy hiatus, a once-popular Kansas City whiskey that had been sold nationally is back.

A little thing called Prohibition halted production of Monogram Whiskey, but local distiller J. Rieger & Co., whose founder's ancestors made the spirit, has resurrected it and this week is releasing the first 1,000 bottles of Monogram Whiskey 2017 Oloroso Bota.

How many more bottles will be produced is unknown. The determining factor in making this particular whiskey expression is the use of old sherry botas (barrels) and how long what they have on hand will continue imparting the desired color and flavor to the corn-and-rye whiskey.

The Kansas City Star has a good take on the whole project. and you can access it here.
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