If the snow storms in western New York haven't daunted your enthusiasm, you may want to look into visiting McGregor Vineyards in Dundee, NY, on Keuka Lake, the weekend of March 3-4.
That's when the annual release of McGregor's acclaimed Black Russian Red will be celebrated. The limited-quantity 2004 vintage -- very limited, given that there were only about 150 cases -- will be poured along with barrel samples of the 2005 vintage. Futures for the latter are being sold. Sean McElroy, McGregor's assistant manager, told me there will be about 300 cases of the 2005.
A special menu will be made available both days. Tickets are $10 each or $18 per couple for the event. Reservations are not required, but are suggested by calling (800) 272-0192 or going online.
The iconic Black Russian Red, the only such blend made in America, is an unusual joining of two European grape varietals: Sereksiya Charni, traditionally grown in Romania but grown exclusively in the U.S. by McGregor, and Saperavi, an ancient wine grape originating in the republic of Georgia.
The hand-harvested grapes are fermented and aged for nearly two years in American oak barrels, resulting in a complex dry red, with notes of numerous berries, black cherry and the oak, tannic and dry.
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