My wife and I took a road trip to Des Moines for the Iowa Wine Growers Association annual conference and spent the next couple of days hanging out with wine makers, wine growers, and industry sales folks.
On Friday night the IWGA held an enjoyable meet and greet wine tasting in the open gathering area of the event center. Several Iowa wineries were on hand dispensing their products to colleagues and industry insiders. We tasted some very good wines and met many owners/winemakers who could conceivably become next Gallo or Mondavi. (Don't be too quick to dismiss the Midwestern wine industry as one only needs to be reminded of California wines 40 years ago!).
I thought it might be fun to share some photos from our Friday night wine tasting:
Fireside Winery owners, Bill and Rona Wyant (Left), pose for a picture before the tasting begins. In three years their production has increased from around 2,500 gallons to nearly 15,000!
Dr. Murli Dharmadhikari (Left), Iowa State University enology professor and Director of the Midwest Grape and Wine Institute stands next to Fireside Winery winemaker, Zach Bott (right), while I snap a picture. Zach's Hearthstone, a blend of Chambourcin and Chancellor, won the coveted Dick Peterson Award at the Mid-American Wine Competition.
Dr. Paul Tabor, owner and winemaker (right), of Tabor Home Vineyards and Winery pours samples and discusses his wines with Ron and Pam Lemming, wine growers from south-central Iowa.
Paul Tabor and Ron Mark of Summerset Winery (not pictured) played pivotal roles in the establishment of the Iowa wine industry by starting two of the first wineries in Iowa. Paul Tabor also played a crucial role in helping create the first AVA in Iowa (the Upper Mississippi River Valley AVA).
Dorothy O'Brien of Wide River Winery, located in Clinton, IA (UMRV AVA) shared some delicious wines with us and posed for this picture. We sampled several of their wines and were pleasantly surprised to taste a "sherry" that left me wanting more! (Read my earlier tasting notes on Sherry).
John Larson (right), owner and winemaker, of Snus Hill Winery (Madrid, IA) suggests one of his well-crafted red wines to conference tasters. His latest Frontenac, not yet released, was a big hit offering soft tannins and delicious fruit and perfect acidity (not easy to do with a Frontenac). Nice!
Enology instructor, Paul Gospodarczyk (DMACC) with student and gardening writer Susan Appleget Hurst. Paul teaches enology and wine appreciation (for culinary students and others who desire advanced training working toward Sommelier certification). Additionally, he is the founding organizer of the the Mid-American Wine Competition.
And lastly, I thought I'd throw in a picture of me and Jill for fun. We had a terrific time meeting so many nice wine-folks, tasting wines, and learning more about the wine business. We're already looking forward to next years conference!