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The soul of Indian Soil Carefully Crafted into our Boutique wines
The 2011 Illinois Grape Growers & Vintners Association conference is being held at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Springfield. On early Thursday evening February 25, 2011, participating Illinois vineyards conducted a wine tasting event for exhibitors and attendees of the conference. Brenda Logan, right, co-owner of Nauvoo, IL based Baxter's Vineyards & Winery, pours a glass of wine for Wanda Pitcher, left. Pitcher herself is the owner, along with four others, of the upstart Tuscan Hills Winery-scheduled to open this June in Effingham. Baxter's advertises itself as the oldest winery in Illinois- established in 1857.

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Illinois has gone from having 16 wineries in 1999 to close to 100 today, all without even touching Chicago, the No. 3 wine-consuming market in the country.

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A group of wineries and grape growers in south-central Illinois also is exploring the idea of applying to make the Kaskaskia River Basin Illinois’ third American Viticultural Area, or AVA. The designation helps promote an area’s wine industry.

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On Friday, February 11th, the Idaho Wine Commission hosted theComparative Tasting of Idaho Wines and Competing Regions Seminar atSawtooth Winery, instructed by Kathryn House, a wine educator andconsultant. This seminar allowed winemakers and others in theindustry the opportunity to taste Idaho Riesling, Syrah andCabernet Sauvignon with other regional and global examples in astructured “blind” format; the identity of the wines was disguisedby wrapping the bottles.

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The intention of the tasting was to evaluate Idaho wines’ varietalcharacteristics and competing wines in a non-judgmental,learning-focused environment. Open discussions were held betweeneach flight and before the wines were unwrapped and revealed.Growers and winemakers shared techniques to maximize quality inIdaho wines along with an assessment of wine positioning in bothlocal and international contexts. For more information and photosregarding the event go to “coyoteswineshop” Facebook page.

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This week’s featured wine is “Tuesday Night White” from Périple(Pronounced “Pair ee pla ... and roll the “r”) Winery in GardenCity.  This 2009 blend of mainly Viognier, Chardonnay and Rieslingwas sourced from Burgess Vineyards in Washington, Koening and KunaButte Vineyards in Idaho.

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--> Bennett Lane winemaker Grant Hermann has more than 20 years of hands-on experience in all phases of wine production (left), Dr. J. Bernard Seps is the winemaker and co-owner of Calistoga’s Storybook Mountain Vineyard (middle), Mexican native Ignacio Blancas has made 20 barrels of 2009 cabernet sauvignon and zinfandel blend from three Calistoga wineries (right).

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Seps’ 2009 zinfandel, called “Antaeus Reserve,” is made up ofzinfandel, cabernet sauvignon and petite verdot grapes, all estategrown and organically farmed. He produced five cases — 60 bottles —and the wine will be released in September 2012.

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In his wine notes, Seps writes, “In Greek mythology, Antaeus wasrenowned for drawing strength from the land — and so, too, doesthis special selection, bringing together the sumptuous qualitiesof zin with the complex and intense attributes of cabernet andpetit verdot.” He adds the wine celebrates Storybook’s 35thanniversary.

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TALE OF MISFORTUNE: Patricia Kluge, left, and husband Bill Moses had become major players in Virginia's wine industry. Plagued with financial woes, however, Kluge's properties, including Albemarle House, top, have been seized by the bank.

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One recent wintry day at the Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard tasting room in Charlottesville, customers were snapping up cases of red wine for bargain prices at what felt like a tag sale. Refrigerator cases that once held gourmet fare, such as pheasant-stuffed cabbage leaves, foie gras and chocolate tartlets, stood empty, and only a skeleton staff remained to pour tastings.

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February 23, 2011 04:00 AM Copyright San Francisco Chronicle. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Indian Late Harvest Chenin Blanc (dessert Wine)

For its third annual ÒEco-ChicÓ collaboration, a project which blends the art of natural winemaking with modern eco-conscious design, Newton Vineyard has partnered with renowned ceramic artist Michael Wisner for the earth day debut of ÒThe Element,Ó a limited edition wine bottle chiller and coaster set made from clay soil found in the wineryÕs Carneros vineyards.

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For its third annual Eco-Chic collaboration, a project blending the art of natural winemaking with eco-conscious design, Newton Vineyard execs and ceramic artist Michael Wisner have created the Element, a limited-edition wine bottle chiller and coaster set made out of clay soil from the winery's Carneros vineyards.

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