Tastings embody Pittsburgh Wine Festival experience
Wine festivals give vintners a chance to make a statement.
“They are good opportunities for us,” says Tim Gaber, owner of Pittsburgh Winery in the Strip District. “We are able to let people know about our dry reds, which is not something Western Pennsylvania wines are known for.”
Cheryl Durzy, vice president of marketing for Clos LaChance Winery in California, is coming to Pittsburgh to advance word on their vegan wines.
“Wines are more than grapes and water, which is what many people think,” she says. “We saw the growing vegan movement and decided to let people know all wines aren't vegan.”
Gaber and Durzy will be among almost 170 vendors at the Pittsburgh Wine Festival on May 8 at Heinz Field, North Shore. Dale Markham, general manager of the Pittsburgh Wine and Whiskey Festival, expects attendance of about 2,800 wine enthusiasts, a figure the organization has felt comfortable with in the past three years.
He says the wine event differs from the whiskey festival held in the fall.
“The whiskey festival has a very party nature, but this is really a tasting,” Markham says. “It's the nature of the beast.”
It is a growing beast, according to Wines & Vines, a California-based trade association. Wines & Vines reports a 7 percent growth in the wine industry for 2013, climbing to yearly sales of $7.3 billion. That figure is for off-premises sales not consumed at the site.
Dealing with the reality of the wine industry is the essence of going to wine festivals, says Nicolette Chilton, director of marketing and sales for Narcisi Winery in Gibsonia. Knowing she will be surrounded by well-known brands, such as Washington state's Chateau Ste. Michelle or California's Mondavi, Narcisi staffers will try to show “Pennsylvania wines are well-crafted and can stand up to bigger wine-making regions,” she says.
The Narcisi winery will offer tastings of its riesling, its biggest seller, which is more popular than its well-knownStella, a dry red. But it also will offer Brezza Marina, a dry rose Chilton believes has a more individual taste.
Gaber is trying to show an element of speciality in a different way. He believes most wine fans think of area products as light and fruity; the Pittsburgh Winery focuses on a dryer, “more urban” drink.
He says it accomplishes that goal by using wines it buys from California and South America.
The results are its cabernet sauvignon and malbec, two types generally not considered Pennsylvania products.
“I think we really benefit from the expectations of the people at the festival,” Gaber says of the surprise factor.
Durzy says LaChance is dealing with surprise of a different kind. She says some people who are vegan drink wine without a second thought.
But all wines are not vegan, largely because of a filtration process called “fining,” in which winemakers try to remove “floaters” from the pressing by dropping agents that will clump them together and allow the wine to be filtered. Those agents include animal products, she says. Instead, Clos LaChance uses a clay product in fining its wines.
The company makes a wines under its own name as well as Hayes Valley and Vegan Vine, but all three are vegan, Durzy says.
At the wine festival, Vegan Vine tastings will be poured by John Salley, who played in the National Basketball Association from 1986-2000 and now is co-owner of the brand.
Wine festivals also give vintners a chance to get a look at their public.
Chilton sees a “huge uptick” in the interest in wines.
In itself, that growing fascination is a reason for these kind of events, says Elizabeth Chiarelli from Dark Star Imports in New York City.
“You try to show all the varieties, because that is what you are,” she says. “That is why you go to festivals.”
Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7852.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- National Weather Service predicts up to 7 inches of snow before Sunday night
- Steelers not limiting themselves in free agency
- Under Rutherford, it’s been a sizeable shakeup for Penguins
- Rossi: Pirates must pay for Mr. Right
- Coyotes proliferate despite year-round hunting
- Burnett’s farewell tour wishlist has just 1 item: Pirates World Series
- Winnik impresses Penguins in first workout
- Police investigating shooting at Strip District club
- Baby Penguins notebook: Goalie Murray on historic run of success
- Arrogant media elites mock Middle America
- Big names become available this week via free agency; will Steelers be tempted?