Selecting Chocolates for the Wine and Chocolate Trail Weekend
The Unionville Vineyards team went to great lengths to find the perfect wine and chocolate pairings for the upcoming trail weekends. We even went so far as to try our hands at making chocolates, but don’t worry - we’ll serve truffles made by the professionals...and we’ll stick with growing grapes and making wine.
We learned quickly that, as in winemaking, there are no shortcuts in chocolate-making. Try taking a shortcut and you end up covered in chocolate. I suppose there are worse things in life.
We also learned that, like winemaking, chocolate-making is both science and art. There is the science behind tempering, a process in which specific crystal structures form and which produces shiny, snappable chocolates.
Yet, there is also art. As we treat our grapes differently based on variety and vineyard, so do chocolatiers treat their chocolates differently depending on cocoa content and origin.
Unionville Vineyards will be offering chocolates from Carol’s Creative Chocolatez for the Chocolate and Wine Trail weekends because Carol just gets it. She knows where her chocolate comes from. She also knows how to turn raw product into something absolutely exquisite, while still showcasing its origin.
We had a tough time deciding on our chocolate and wine pairings. And we ate a little bit too much chocolate (you thought there was no such thing). We tried solid pieces and filled truffles, we paired with our red wines and our white wines (gasp!). We worked very hard to find the perfect pairings for the trail.
We hope you’ll visit us and celebrate two loves: wine and chocolate. With each extended tasting, enjoy selected chocolate pairings. Tastings are $10 per person and include a selection of 8 wines. Unionville is located near several other New Jersey wineries participating in the trail weekends. For full information, please visit: http://www.newjerseywines.com/events/category/trail-weekends/
Who will you bring on the 2015 Wine and Chocolate Trail?
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My name is Rachael White, and I am the new vineyard manager at Unionville Vineyards. I am thrilled to be part of the team and produce exceptional grapes for exquisite wine. I’m eager to begin this role and I wanted to introduce myself to share a little of my background.
I became interested in grape production right out of high school while working at my local research and extension center with the viticulture team. Little did I know when I started that viticulture would become my passion and career going forward. I got to work with industry famous people like Dr. Tony Wolf and Dr. Cain Hickey and interact with growers that were more than happy to share their joys and dismays about farming grapes. I fell in love with the seasonality and the fact I could always be outside! With a newfound purpose, I attended my first semester at Virginia Tech in the fall of 2013 and immediately focused my degree on wine grape production. I took every wine and vineyard related course offered at the time and enjoyed other horticulture courses along the way. I studied
abroad in Cortona, Italy where I learned old world wine tradition and began refining my palate.
I finished my Bachelor of Science degree in December of 2016 and looked to gain more knowledge from elsewhere in the world. I decided to work a vintage in the southern hemisphere and set my eyes on New Zealand. In March of 2017, I started work at a contract winery in the Marlborough region that produced Sauvignon Blanc, but also small batches of Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris. I worked on the “Red Team," and processed mostly Pinot Noir
in small orders for clients.
What a difference a year can make. August 2018 through July 2019 was the second rainiest 12 month stretch in the recorded history of New Jersey weather. These records stretch back into the late 19th century, which gives context just to how wet that is. It's not easy growing wine grapes when it rains every other day from August through the end of harvest. As we slogged through a wet May and June, we were making preparations to endure another difficult season. A torrential thunderstorm on July 11th dropped over three inches of rain on most of our vineyards. Todd Wuerker, winemaker at Hawk Haven Vineyard said to me on the phone "it has to stop, it always evens out" and I scoffed at that idea. The weather today doesn't know what happened the day, week, or month before.
Todd was right! An atmospheric switch flipped in mid-July, and high pressure dominated the mid-Atlantic for the rest of the season. There were isolated thunderstorms to dodge through the rest of summer, and Unionville fared particularly well in this stretch. Over the 10 weeks of harvest, less than three inches of rain fell across our vineyards. We went from a historically wet stretch to historically dry, and it came just in the nick of time.
Today, we are picking the first grapes for what is Unionville's 27th harvest. Two years after the first grapes were picked and fermented, they were sold in the newly-opened tasting room- 25 years ago. Although I've been thinking about this moment for about a year, we've started our anniversary celebration and I'm still struggling to put it all in context.
In the past few years I've learned so much that could be shared with you now. I've spent hours at the township building, reading through letters written back and forth between parties involved in the winery's founding in the early 1990's. I've walked the vineyards, pausing with each "King of the Vineyard" as Conor calls them- the craggy, gnarly vines nearly as old as me. I've stared at the black and white photos in the hallway of the 1858 Farmhouse of the family and workers who tended to this property many decades ago.
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