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Mar 22, 2009

Kayakers help bottle new Eastern Shore wine!

Freelance writers, guidebook authors, kayak guides…We can now add another skill to our resumes: wine bottlers!

Along with some other paddlers, we got to help Holly Grove Vineyards, a new Eastern Shore winery, bottle the final batch of 2008 Sunset Rose.

I envisioned pouring wine through funnels and applying labels by hand. Oh no! Owner Jonathan Bess has a shiny new bottling assembly line that fills the bottles, corks them, affixes the foil cap and the labels. All we had to do was load the bottles and box them at the end.

Oh, and quality control tastings. Lots of that!

Like many Virginia wineries, Holly Grove is a small, family-run operation, and each bottle truly gets individual attention. The family built their own house here. When the kids get out of school, they help with chores. A pair of pet goats, geese and couple of dogs roam the vineyards.

But the results are anything but home-grown. Bess’ Chardonnay and Merlot have been winning awards in international blind tastings. The new Rose we bottled is a drier style that is very refreshing for summer porch sitting. The label features sunset at the mouth of Nassawaddox Creek.

Each wine's label features a different waterfront or sunset scene from the cove in back. Another new wine, the 2008 High Tide Traminette, may just become a summer favorite for our wine porch: the label has kayaks on it!

Jonathan welcomes tours and tastings at Holly Grove daily. Pay him a visit, and then proceed on to nearby Chatham Vineyards, another family-run, award-winning winery here on the Eastern Shore Wine Trail!

Bill just did his first wine kayak tour of the season at Chatham for Southeast Expeditions! Check out our story and photos about the trip here.

Mar 8, 2009

Virginia's Eastern Box Turtle

Under the category of "Can't Get No Respect," the Eastern box turtle has struck out again. The Virginia House of Delegates recently defeated a bill that would designate the ubiquitous box turtle Virginia's official reptile.

From the Associated Press: “Delegate Frank Hargrove of Hanover asked why Virginia would make an official emblem of an animal that retreats into its shell when frightened and dies by the thousands crawling across roads.”

Poor turtles. They get no respect! Our hikes in Virginia and Maryland for our next book, “Day Hikes Near DC,” have led to a number of encounters with this pretty painted turtle. Here’s a photo of the last time we met, this one on the Seneca River Greenway Trail in Montgomery County, Maryland.

If you want to read the full legislative bill, and reacquaint yourself with other "Official Virginia" designations such as the Bat, Boat, Beverage, Fleet, Flower and Folk Dance, click here.

Mar 2, 2009

Spring! Where are you?

Well, we did have a spring story on a wild edibles walk all set to go, then Virginia got hit with a snow storm, so it didn't seem quite appropriate! (we'll send it next week, when it's supposed to get up towards 70).

Meantime, read about Williamsburg's Great Wolf Lodge indoor waterpark, where it's always a tropical 84 degrees.

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