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The soul of Indian Soil Carefully Crafted into our Boutique wines
Like many people involved in the indie/urban DIY and local food and wine movement, Barbara Gratta, owner and winemaker at Gratta Wines , has a full-time job. Hers is with the San Francisco schools as a physical therapist. But Gratta is only accidentally part of an urban trend. Her path to winemaking is part of an Italian family legacy who for generations have made wine for themselves and their friends to enjoy.

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Originally from New York, Gratta transplanted to San Francisco 20 years ago, met her partner Cathy, and moved to the sunny Bayview. The house they purchased came with a large garage which she transformed into a legit winemaking operation – Gratta Wines – with delicious and award-winning results.

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Following in the footsteps of successful urban winemakers, Gratta gets her grapes from the best places. For years she’s been buying Zinfandel, Cabernet and Petite Sirah grapes from the esteemed Teldeschi Vineyards in Dry Creek, Sonoma. She’s also been organizing friends to help transport and crush those grapes. Every step is accomplished by hand.

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Our state is now home to 115 wineries and ranks 10th nationally in the production of wine and grapes. Yet North Carolina wines don’t get the attention of many “serious” wine drinkers.

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Last week, a panel of judges met to taste and evaluate wines for the N.C. State Fair Wine Competition. The panel included viticulturalists, fermentation scientists and professional beverage buyers. And me.

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My goal was not only to be a good judge, but also to find some wines I could show to North Carolina naysayers and convince them to change their mind.

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The first Virginia Wine Summit, held in early October, began with a modern version of British wine writer Steven Spurrier’s famous Paris tasting. This time he pitted seven Virginia wines and a cider against rivals from Europe and California. What matters in such a tasting is not which wines “won,” but that the challenger’s wines were comparable in quality to the world competition. That was the case here, but Virginia will truly reach world-class status only when such exercises are no longer necessary.

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Here are some of Spurrier’s comments about how various grape varieties perform in Virginia, along with my recommendations based on tastings at the Wine Summit and elsewhere. Wines are available from the wineries. Stores with good selections of local wine include Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits in the District; in Virginia, try Leesburg Vintner, Arrowine in Arlington, Unwined in Alexandria and various Wegmans and Total Wine and More locations.

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Chardonnay “Virginia makes very nice chardonnay in the crisp, lemony style,” Spurrier said. But he added that it is hard for an emerging wine region to make a distinctive stamp with such a ubiquitous grape.

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I once knew a wine writer (alwayswith a buzz on) who exulted that he’d tasted his way through 120wines at an international exposition. Now, my job as a winewriter has its joys, but tasting my way through 120 wines, oreven 80 wines, about par for a judge at a wine competition, isnot one of them.

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Such a slog is not only hard work but palate fatigue setsin early, so that the 46th wine you taste is never going to havequite the luster of the third, and by number 75, you are inagony and in need of a shower.

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Still, the idea of holding your own wine tasting at home orin a restaurant can be one of the most convivial of pleasures,as long as you go about it the right way, starting with whom youinvite.

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Paper Edition | Page: 9 Bali wines are made by people who believe they can start a new wine trend, in a land where holly books rule.

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Bali wines are beginning to gain the respect they deserve, as evidenced by the wine poetry by St. Regis Bali Resort’s Sommelier, Harald Wiesmann.

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Hatten Wines is a local wine pioneer. Starting the trend with the launch of its Rosé in 1994, Hatten — with its Aga Red, Aga White and Alexandria as well as Tunjung and Jepun sparkling wine —are now known internationally. In Bali, it is present at every turn, from luxury resorts to small restaurants.

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