Happy New Year!
2018 was quite a year for Karamoor Estate! We are buzzing with change, honors, growth and exciting plans for the future!
Let me begin with our fall harvest. It was a difficult year with the terrible weather. I think the sun was on a hiatus!
Grapes are not created equally. The different varietals have different qualities, shape of leaves, shape and size of berries and even how tight the berries are in the clusters. The tighter the clusters, the more difficult it is to prevent them from rot and mold because the air doesn’t move freely through to help them dry. Developing a good balance of canopy management is also critical. Too much sun and air can be as damaging as not enough. All of the rain made this very difficult. Joe Rienzi, our viticulturist was quite diligent keeping up with the leaf pulling, so the grape clusters receive better exposure to the sun and to airflow. This and other techniques are key in preventing rot, mold and diseases. It also helps promote optimum ripening and sugar levels in the grapes. So as we moved through harvest, our winemaker, Kevin Robinson and Joe would go through the vineyards, each day checking the progress and quality of the grapes. They would watch the weather forecasts intently. If the grapes were close but not quite ready for harvest, they would evaluate if the grapes would withstand the torrential downpours and wind. I think Kevin referred to it as, “picking before the next deluge”. It’s better to take them down a little early than lose them to the rot, mold or falling to the ground. As the berries mature, their skins become much thinner and delicate so it is better to “use it than lose it”. Hurricane Florence destroyed many of Virginia's vineyards in September. There will be very few red wines from Virginia in 2018. The rain at the end of the season, in combination with a cold snap late in late March, killing many of the new buds ready to pop open, made our season not only difficult but yielded about 40% less than our usual harvest. Because it was necessary to get the grapes off of the vines much sooner than usual, harvest 2018 was complete two weeks early.
Another distraction from the usual harvest practices was being on constant watch for the nasty and invasive bad bug, the spotted lanternfly, aka; SLF (Lycorma delicatula) . The SLF are destroying vineyards, orchards and taking over all around our area, especially Berks County. If you see them…kill them and notify the Department of Agriculture. Though they were “spotted” near our vineyards but with swift and proper protocol, we hopefully eliminated future issues.
Lot’s of great material in 2018 for my book, “Making Wine Isn’t For Whiners”!!
Moving onward and upward, some fantastic news on our vines…we’ve had quite a few exciting visitors, been in the news and added some very prestigious accolades to our trophy case!
It started off with a full day visit from Don Winkler, Editor & Mike Potashnik, Publisher of The International Wine Review along with six other, highly regarded Pennsylvania Vineyards and Wineries including; Galen Glen Vineyard & Winery, Galer Estate Vineyard and Winery, Grandview Vineyard, Maple Springs Vineyard, Pennswoods Winery and Pinnacle Ridge Winery. Don and Mike tasted through approximately 30 wines and are writing an article about wines in the northeast and Pennsylvania. Coming soon!!
We then had another fantastic visit with Anne and Brian Yost of Wine Tourist Magazine and the The Virginia Grape. We toured the property, tasted through some wines and then they continued on to a few of the Pennsyvania and NJ vineyards. They wrote a great article and took some nice photos. I will include all links at the end of this blog.
The next honor and surprise was Karamoor Estate’s 2013 Merlot Reserve, being named Forbes Wine of the Week!! Followed by medals from the San Francisco International Wine Competition!
SILVER MEDAL, Karamoor Estate 2015 Merlot
SILVER MEDAL, Karamoor Estate 2016 Petit Verdot
SILVER MEDAL, Karamoor Estate 2017 Sauvignon Blanc
BRONZE MEDAL, Karamoor Estate 2015 Cabernet Franc
On the heels of these awards came the announcement of James Suckling’s American Wine Revolution reviews with Karamoor receiving 88, 89 and 90 points!
This past weekend we received the announcement from the largest competion of American wines in the world: The San Francisco Chronicle Competition, Karamoor Estate received 5 medals! One gold and four silver!!! Up against the biggest and the best with over 7000 entries...we are quite proud!! Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Karabots for their vision, making the commitment and the hard work to produce world class wines AND to Kevin Robinson, Joe Rienzi and the rest of the team for their hard work and excellent viticultural and winemaking skills!
2015 Karamoor Estate Cabernet Franc silver
2016 Karamoor Estate Chardonnay gold
2015 Karamoor Estate Meritage silver
2015 Karamoor Estate Merlot silver
2017 Karamoor Estate Sauvignon Blanc silver
All of these honors took each of us back to a quote made last year by Philadelphia’s famous food and wine critique - Craig LaBan, "Still surprised that good wine is made in Philly's suburbs? I'm not, especially from Karamoor, the passion project of Nick and Athena Karabots, who have done everything right to get the most out of their Montgomery County terroir, with impressively drinkable wines from the first vintage."
A couple of additions to our programs at Karamoor, if you are a Wine Club member. In addition to the list of perks as a member we have added “pick up parties” which will take place and be an option when it’s time for your club releases. We introduced the idea last October and received favorable responses! We will let you know when the next release and pick up party will be taking place!!
Even more exciting is the view of the tasting room located on Butler Pike!! The cement has been poured and the timbers will be up in the next few weeks!!!! Woot! Woot!! I think we’ll be seeing you in the Tasting Room this summer!!!
A couple of dates have been posted for the upcoming week Tasting &Tours! There are always some good wine specials during our tours. If you’re not a Wine Club member, you may want to check it out! The perks and the fun that go with the membership keep getting better!!
Like a new season for our vines, our goal is to learn, grow, establish and be stronger every year with everything we do! We are thrilled you enjoy being a part of our growth and success!
Cheers! To a Happy and Healthy New Year from all of us at Karamoor Estate!!
See you in the vineyard!
#JAMESSUCKLING #BRIANFREEDMAN #BRIANYOST #FORBES #WINETOURISTMAGAZINE #PHILADELPHIAMAGAZINE #MIDATLANTICEVENTS #PHILLYINSIDER #CRAIGLABAN #KARAMOORESTATE #JERICHONATIONALGOLFCLUB #WINEENTHUSIAST
Six weeks into the new plan and taking root, I’m beginning to see the first hints of new business starting to bud. Every day is a little busier, some things a little easier, overall an exciting experience! When I’m in the vineyard and winery in the past week, it feels like the calm before the storm. There’s not a lot of talk about what’s about to happen with the harvest and crush, but you can feel it. You see it looking down over the vineyards, with more workers tending to the vines. Now is the time when the vineyard is under close watch for bugs, birds, disease and fungus. The nets are unrolled and pulled over the fruit. The beauty of the grape bunches with the onset of “veraison” (ripening and accumulation of sugars), the trimming of the vines, the fullness of the vineyard. So much activity! I sense when it hits…we are going to be juiced!! (Sometimes I just can’t help myself).
In the past weeks I’ve conducted a number of tours and tastings. Our Wine Club and interaction within social media are growing and there seems to be a bigger buzz of interest from outside of Karamoor. I invited our second group from the food, beverage and hospitality industry, including representatives from: 12th St. Cantina, Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine, ARAMARK, YPO, 2300 Arena, Valley Forge Tourist and Convention Board, WP Palmer Distilling, Bluestone Country Club, Cantina Feliz, Normandy Farm Hotel Corporate Planning and Wine and Spirit Industry Executive, Chris Papariello. We had a great night, with a very positive response from many who never imagined wines of this quality could come from a boutique sized vineyard, especially here in Pennsylvania. We are coming to be a world class wine producer. I compare Karamoor’s wines in the wine world, as the California wine was to the French in the movie, “Bottle Shock”. Someone well known in the wine environment is going to try Karamoor wines and have an “aha moment”. When that happens, Mr. Karabots will need to tell a new story about owning a vineyard.
I asked Kevin, our winemaker, Joe, our viticulturist for their short take on what is happening here at Karamoor. Once again, with no discussion of my request between them, they had very consistent thoughts. Kevin’s thought was verbatim with mine, I had already written it into the blog.
Kevin; “the calm before the storm”
Joe; “We’re only going to get better from here, not only from the vineyard & winery perspective, but as a brand overall”.
This is a really great sign. It’s clear we are all on the same page, all feeling very similar growth and energy. We definitely have some learning curves, some dialing in to be done and we continue to maintain the growth and improve upon what we learn. It's all good.
Like the grapes, we’ll be hanging in the vineyard… and loving it!
New Karamoor Sitings!! A few new places to find our wines... Stove & Tap, Lansdale, PA ~ Brothers Kershner Brewing Company, Skippack, PA, (new opening) ~ Nonna Pizzeria and Tavern (new opening), Mt. Airy, PA, ~Terrain Cafe at Devon Yard (new opening) WEBSITE SPECIALS!! Click on this link - http://www.karamoorwines.com/Wines Check out our weekly specials and there are still a few spots available on our August tours!! Case specials on the Warm Weather Case, 2014 Cabernet Franc, 2016 Sauvignon Blanc and Mixed case of the Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc
#toursandtastings #wineclub #events #vineyard #wine #cabernetfranc #sauvignonblanc #wineblog #worldclasswines #2018PennsylvaniaBestWinery
Planted and taking root here at Karamoor Estate, my days pass very quickly. I’m learning a lot, in so many different areas. I enjoy the challenge and building a bigger box to think outside of. So when I step out of it…I’m really stepping out! Since my first post we’ve had four or five tours & tastings and a couple of events, on and off of the property. Engaging with new people during these events and through social media, my learning curve is fast and furious. As part of the tours & tastings, we take our guests into the vineyards for an up close look at the vines, grapes and talk about all of the things that can affect Karamoor’s end product…quality wines. We were just awarded Pennsylvania's Best Winery by the New York International Wine Competition! Our guests enjoy their first taste of Karamoor’s award winning 2015 Chardonnay while standing among the thousands of Chardonnay Vinifera. As they sip and admire, Joe Rienzi our Viticulturist speaks of the challenges and laborious efforts it takes to have a successful vineyard and grape harvest. Kevin Robinson, Karamoor’s winemaker also contributes, adding from the years of experience as the winemaker at Rutherford Hill in the Napa Valley and Brassfield Estate in Lake County, California. It’s interesting to hear the difference and the science behind the dirt, the weather and the daily, manual grooming processes, that set our grapes and wines apart from others around the world. I also enjoy listening to Kevin and Joe and how their backgrounds and studies complement one another, giving the guests, a great visual of what’s involved, how it works and why it’s important. During one of our tours this week, I had another one of my “aha” moments, comparing my life to the vineyard. Remember my “New Life Plan” compared to that of planning a new vineyard in my last blog? A guest questioned the use of the irrigation system throughout the vineyards. We were all surprised with the response. Other than when the root stocks are first planted, the system is not used. To grow good grapes, with good characteristics, sugars, tannins, acidity, color, concentration, etc…one of the important factors is the roots. They need to grow deep into the ground to be strong. Without irrigation, they grow deeper and deeper in search for a source of water and also pull important nutrients out of the ground. If they are watered frequently they become lazy and remain shallow. Shallow roots, equates to shallow characteristics and not much longevity. No lazy vines and NO WATER FOR ME!
I asked Kevin and Joe in separate conversations for a one line take on the week, a thought, something they find important in what is presently happening at Karamoor. I was amazed at the similarity in their responses! Verbatim…
Kevin ~ “Wine is the place, the land”
Joe ~ “if great wines truly start out in the vineyard, Karamoor’s 2018 vintage, should be one that further proves Pennsylvania is capable of growing and making world class wine”
In conversations with Mr. and Mrs. Karabots, owners of this beautiful estate, their goal is to produce world class wines. In 2003 they hired Lucie Morton, one of the top viticulturists in the country, to plan their new vineyard. It took three years to create, study and plan these vineyards, before one root stock was placed in the ground. Here I am, talking about the roots again!! It all goes back to the beginning.
One of my roles at Karamoor, is to build up wine sales to restaurants, breweries, caterers and foodservice companies. Secondly, planning events and working on creating an awesome wine tasting facility, located in the barn along Butler Pike (I love barns...another day for another blog), which we hope to see opening in the spring of 2019. Another role, is to build onto our presence in the corporate world. I’ll be organizing corporate events, team building, wine and food pairings, corporate labeling programs ~ we have a ton to offer! This week we enjoyed a photo and film shoot with our largest corporate and private label customer, Larry Korman, Co-CEO of AKA. Karamoor bottles its award winning 2015 Chardonnay and 2015 Meritage (rhymes with heritage), for “A.VIN”, AKA’s proprietary wine. We’ve also done some nice labeling programs with: “Conshy Girls”, a couple of hard working young ladies with a catering division and four successful restaurants: Stella Blu, Gypsy Saloon, Southern Cross Kitchen and Gypsy Blue. Vynamic, a well known Healthcare Industry Management Consulting business with offices in Philadelphia and Boston. The Union League, a Philadelphia landmark and one of the country’s most prominent clubs. I will also be working on our social media presence and our Wine Club. I will be posting, planning, announcing and reporting on all sorts of events connected with Karamoor. So if you want to be the first to know, hear about our new releases and about events you can be a part of at other venues...join our Wine Club! Follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/KaramoorEstate/, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn https://lnkd.in/dwNAprD and of course I'm on Linked in too...www.linkedin.com/in/cheri-morrison-dodge!
So as I navigate and network through the vines of Karamoor, I am trying to find depth, balance and continuity in all that I do. It’s obvious, even as a “newbie” to Karamoor, it’s not about egos and individual talents. It’s about “the roots”. The roots of the people, the company, the vines and making sure they are all established and strong.
So I’ll be busy digging in, and hopefully starting to see some shoots by my next post.
Until then, #diggingin and #lovingit!!
Cheri 🎄St. Nick's Secret Coupon Code for BIG Christmas in July Discount StNicksinKaramoorsWinery Copy and paste into Coupon code section when you go to shopping cart. Will only work if you're signed up with our Newsletter. Scroll down to very bottom of page to sign up! Cheers!! Coupon Description:
It’s Christmas in July and St. Nick's in Karamoor's Winery!! Nothing like a little red and white to celebrate!! Don't miss this limited time offer today through Thursday the 26th. 30% off on orders that are $200 or more! Paste this code into your coupon code box: StNicksinKaramoorsWinery Remember, shipping is always free on purchases of 3 bottles or more. If you are part of our wine club, you get your wine club membership discount in addition to the Christmas in July sale! Deck your wine cellar! Everything in the store is on sale (except gift cards and our Warm Weather Cases…already a huge discount). Limited quantities available of the following:
2014 Petit Verdot (12 bottles)
Warm Weather Case (5 cases)
HO! HO! HO! Cheri http://www.karamoorwines.com/Blog
Planning Your New Vineyard/Life
For the last couple of years, I’ve been in planning mode. What’s next? Where do I go? Big change? Baby steps? Sell everything? Get out of Dodge (hee-hee-hee ~ you’ll get it as you get to know me)?
Life is full of surprises and challenges. Sometimes, a few too many? All character builders.
I grew up in Blue Bell, formerly Pigeontown, Pennsylvania. I attended Germantown Academy. I love sports, participating in them more than watching. I was always very active and in addition to sports, was always busy doing something social or working somewhere in the area. I was not very good at sitting still. When I was 14 or 15, I started working for a woman who had a nice little catering business. I loved working for her!
Many moons later, I’m still in the food and hospitality industry. I graduated from The Culinary Institute of America and have done almost everything possible within the food service industry. Too much to list here. This is a blog not a novel. My strong suits are, sales and marketing. I had many years of practice with my own company, Culinary Crossing, which started in the Gwynedd Valley train station. Since I sold Culinary, I’ve read, googled, researched and read some more. I’ve talked to people, so many kind people… to try and figure out what was next. What was important to me? Do I want to start a new business? Do I want to be in the city? Work out of my home? I came across an article I saved. I don’t remember why I was reading it? Perhaps I was considering planting a vineyard behind my house? LOL!!! I wish I had written down every idea I had over the years. As I read this article I thought, hmmm…these sound like good questions about planning what’s next in my life. It reminded me a bit of the movie Being There with Peter Sellers as Chauncey Gardner and Shirley McLain as Eve. Good movie.
Anyway, the article was titled: “Planning Your New Vineyard” or life in my case.
I filled in my answers to their headings.
Your Goals ~ Happiness - Continue to learn and grow - be creative -healthy lifestyle - love my career
Your Growing Season ~ Every day. Create balance with work, play, exercise, nutrition and sleep
The Land ~ Where I grew up, close to amazing friends and my Dad.
Vineyard Orientation ~Work within a fifteen miles of home. Stay in the right longitude with the best attitudes.
Soil Quality ~ Quality company, quality people
Pests ~ Don’t want them 🐜
Disease ~Don’t put myself in susceptible situations
Time ~ Don’t get overly ambitious and take on more than I can comfortably manage.
Tools ~ A very wise man once told me, “take good care of your equipment and the equipment will take care of you”. (Thanks Dad!) Always have a back up plan, back up equipment, diversity and cross training within your bag of tricks.
Books ~ Keep reading, keep learning.
So there you have it, ten essential things to think about when planning your new vineyard or life. It seems to have worked out. Here I am, employed in sales and marketing, writing a blog for an amazing vineyard & winery,(which by the way, was awarded the best winery in Pennsylvania by the NY International Wine Competition), with quality award winning wines and people, a few miles from home, learning something new every day and as Maxwell Smart used to say, “and loving it!”
Did I mention the woman whose nice little catering business I worked for is less than 1/4 mile from Karamoor Estate? I think I’ve gone full circle!!
Let the planting begin!