Archive for April, 2011


2010 Hume Seyval Scores High

Posted on Apr 25 2011 | By

French-American Hybrid Grape Out Performs Itself

The Wine
Seyval Blanc is widely grown in the eastern United States and is credited with producing good wine long before the traditional European grapes put Virginia on the wine map.  Nonetheless, it also has a reputation of creating wines a bit on the thin side.  Not so with the recent release of Hume Vineyards 2010 Seyval.

The wine casts the expected pale straw hue in the glass but quickly telegraphs a serious offering with its aromatics. On the palate, the full-flavored white is redolent of honeysuckle, lemon and citrus notes with super bright acidity that is in complete harmony with the fruit.  With warm weather upon us, this wine will generate a lot of smiles as it takes its position as the first offering on Hume’s current tasting sheet.

The Food
My wife Jean prepared a Tuna and Orzo Casserole that was a perfect match for this clean, crisp, and well-made white.

This tasty casserole is topped with fresh shredded Parmesan cheese before it’s baked. Serve with a tossed salad and warm baked bread or rolls.


  • 1 cup orzo pasta
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, washed, sliced
  • 4 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, (low fat is fine)
  • 1 large can (12 ounces) white tuna in water, drained
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, cooked and drained
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Preparation:
    Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions.

    In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sliced green onions; saute, stirring, until onion is softened and mushrooms are browned. Stir in flour until blended into the butter. Gradually stir in the milk. Continue cooking, stirring, until the mixture is thickened. Add the tuna and cooked peas; stir in salt and pepper, to taste. Combine the sauce mixture and drained pasta until blended. Spoon into the prepared baking dish and top with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned and hot.
    Serves 4 to 6.

    Categories : WINE ARTICLES

    Launching the Long Ball for USO-Metro

    Posted on Apr 22 2011 | By

    Annual Golf Tourney Sponsored by National Defense Industrial Association

    Tee Time

    On Monday, April 18, some 250 golfers gathered at The Courses at Andrews Air Force Base to support the United Service Organizations, known to millions of service personnel and citizens alike as the USO.  Over $35,000 was raised for the Metro chapter of the legendary organization.

    The USO was established in 1941 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Its objective was to gather together a diverse group of charitable organizations and provide emotional support for the growing U.S. military.  The USO of Metropolitan Washington operates centers on local military installations and lounges at all the area airports.  It also provides services to recovering service members and their families at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Medical Center.

    The tournament was sponsored by the Washington DC Chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association.  NDIA is America’s leading defense industry association promoting national security. Its members foster the development of innovative and superior equipment for our warfighters and first responders.

    Wine Guy Distributes...Wine.

    Rappahannock Cellars was honored to provide each player a bottle of our 2009 Noblesse Rouge.  The wine was sold to NDIA at below wholesale and payment covered by one of the sponsors, Pratt & Whitney.  I was pleased to assist at the registration table where the wine was presented to the golfers.

    Dave Longley, chairman of the event, and Cheryl Luczko, Management Consultant with NDIA, organized the successful affair and were everywhere present throughout the daylong tournament.

    Cheryl Luczko and Dave Longley

    Attendees are looking forward to another great day of golf in April 2012 to again support the USO and our troops.






    Let's Eat!

    Categories : WINE ARTICLES

    VDOT Sponsored Effort Keeps Highways & Byways Green

    America the Beautiful.  Originally written as a poem in 1895—and later published as the iconic anthem in 1910—the song has come to embody the stunningly beautiful USA landscape.

    Now You See It...

    And yet the challenge in keeping the “Beautiful” in America is daunting.  With a population of 310 million citizens and over eight million miles of roads, litter is ubiquitous along the Nation’s thoroughfares.  Here in Virginia, plastic bags, beer bottles & cans and fast food detritus aggressively compete with Spring’s colorful Redbud and Dogwood for roadside presence.

    It’s difficult to grasp why littering occurs.  How does anyone in good conscience roll down their window and toss garbage onto an artist’s palette?  Ignorance?  Indifference?  Entitlement?

    Who knows.  It simply happens.

    Fortunately, all fifty states have created volunteer programs to assist in keeping its highway systems clean.  In Virginia, the Virginia Department of Transportation sponsors our statewide effort.  Last year, volunteers contributed 31,800 hours of their time collecting 26,300 bags of trash, while scouring over 1,900 miles of highway.  Not only are Old Dominion roads more scenic because of their efforts, but state coffers are given some relief in this era of budgetary cuts.

    ...Now You Don't.

    Rappahannock Cellars contributes in a small way to the enormous effort.  For the past five years, the winery has volunteered to maintain three miles of Route 522 in the immediate area of its tasting room.

    On a recent sunny April weekday, management and staff from the winery collected twenty-five bright orange bags of trash.  Marketing Manager Allan Delmare says, “Its a bit crazy to claim we had fun collecting trash.  But honestly, it’s not the nasty job you’d imagine it is. You’re outside on a nice day making a noticeable impact on something you drive by every morning. Our commitment to preserving Virginia’s farmland through sustainable agriculture doesn’t end at our vineyard fence. Besides, it’s rewarding to look down that long stretch of highway and see green roadsides.”

    Green indeed.  Not only for the trash collectors but for the wayfarers traveling through beautiful Rappahannock County.

    For individuals or groups considering adopting a stretch of Virginia highway, visit VDOT’s web site.  Or call 1-800-FOR-Road (1-800-367-7623).  Once you’ve submitted an application and VDOT approves it, signs will be placed on the highway crediting your group with the adoption.  You will obtain safety vests and collection bags from your local VDOT office.

    So are immediately cleaner roads the only benefit to the program?  Not entirely.  Research has shown that maintained highways produce less litter in the long run.  And seeing volunteers at work along the roads often makes motorists think twice before carelessly discarding trash.

    So grab those orange bags.  “America the Beautiful” is your song to sing.

    The Orange Brigade




    Categories : HAGARTY TALES

    On Running a Bed & Breakfast

    Posted on Apr 14 2011 | By

    Owners of Foster Harris House Share Insights on Career Change

    Diane and John MacPherson are native New Englanders who built impressive resumes coupled with world travel.  Their last port of call was Laguna Beach, California, where Diane was a business consultant and trainer, and John a design engineer. But their successful careers bumped up against the realities of corporate restructuring and left both of them feeling a loss of creativity.  They decided to reinvent their lives.

    Diane MacPherson

    The MacPhersons mutual love of food, wine and the outdoors set the stage for a way of life they hadn’t imagined.  “We had gotten to the point where we were both unhappy in our jobs and wondered if there was a way to make a living doing all the activities we enjoyed.  When we struck upon the idea of running a bed and breakfast in a wine growing region and offering cycling tours, we realized we’d come up with the perfect formula,” says John.  In less than a year, the MacPhersons were welcoming guests at Foster Harris House in Washington, Virginia. “It was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made,” says John.

    Rappahannock County was a smart move for the vibrant and athletic couple.  The late presidential hopeful Eugene McCarty—a former resident of the county—once said the region was, “seventy-five miles and seventy-five years from Washington, DC.”  He might have also added it was a magnet for Washington’s overworked and overstressed denizens.

    Foster Harris House

    “Each year since we took over the inn, our business has grown.  We simply envisioned what we’d want in a getaway vacation and built the business on that model,” John states.  Based on guest feedback and repeat bookings, it looks like they’ve succeeded.

    And what exactly is that model?  First, the MacPhersons strongly believe that both partners need to be involved in the operation of an inn.  Often owners are holding down other jobs or one of the parties is not as committed to the venture.  A B&B can function under such circumstances, but the physical and emotional demands are significant.  “For our guests to fully enjoy their stay, we’ve found it’s vital for both of us to be invested.  If one of us is not operating at full speed on a given day, the other one can step up and take charge,” says Diane.

    Next, the setting must convey a feeling of comfort and convenience.  “People come to B&Bs to enjoy the ambience and intimacy of a place steeped in history.  A place with architecture and décor that are decidedly not hotel-like.  Yet guests still want the comforts and conveniences of modern hotel rooms.  That’s why we’ve made it our mission to make sure everything that physically touches the guests is high quality,’ Diane explains. “We pay close attention to our choice of towels and linens, the firmness of the mattresses and the ergonomics of a space designed for relaxation.  We’ve both traveled a lot for our careers, so we’ve designed the rooms around our own best experiences.”

    The “breakfast” in “bed and breakfast” also became a focal point.  John, an accomplished chef and author of his own cookbook, creates a tasty array of morning treats, including pecan pancakes with caramelized bananas; wild mushroom, spinach and Gruyere frittatas; gingerbread waffles and paradise bacon, to name just a few.  The gourmet breakfasts also inspire guests to buy the cookbook, which includes recipes for all occasions following the same theme:  Fresh ingredients that are prepared simply and presented thoughtfully.

    Compton Room

    According to the MacPhersons, running a successful inn requires not only a strong partnership, but a constant push for greater efficiency.  “Small business owners know that time management is vital, so we consider it a victory each time we come up with a new way––however small—to save time or money,” Diane explains. “After six years in the business, we still have moments where we say, ‘Duh – why didn’t we think of that years ago?”

    One recent example was a kitchen improvement.  As the food server each morning, Diane frequently delves into the freezer for ice cubes, but always had a tough time finding the ice scoop because it was clear plastic and blended in with all of the frozen goods.  “I spent about an hour online trying –without success — to find a brightly colored ice scoop,” Diane laughs. “Then John said, ‘Why don’t we just wrap the handle in orange electrical tape?’”  Now, Diane never has a problem finding the scoop.  “The time saved with this improvement is probably negligible, but the averted daily annoyance? Priceless,” jokes Diane.

    Inn owners also must maintain a delicate balance between preserving personal space and making guests feel welcomed. “Proprietors have a unique challenge in that the line between home life and work life is more blurred than perhaps any other industry,” Diane explains. “To avoid burn-out, it’s crucial to set boundaries.”

    “The kitchen had always been a conundrum in that regard,” says John.  “The doorway into the kitchen from the guest dining room is essentially the threshold to our personal space, but after breakfast service, we didn’t feel comfortable simply shutting the door, since we want to be available to guests if they have questions or want to check out.  Then John had the idea of installing a Dutch door. It provided the needed separation of the two areas but without making our guests feel, literally, shut out,” Diane explains.

    John MacPherson

    Another useful skill is the ability to perform as many home repairs and maintenance tasks as possible.  Frequently, as John’s apron comes off, his carpenter’s belt goes on. His home repair skills have proved invaluable.  Calling in a handyman to tend to the needs of a century old home can be expensive.  The do-it-yourself approach to maintenance means paying yourself, not others.

    And what about getaway time for the proprietors?  Since weekends are consistent revenue producers, both vacations and days off center on weekdays.  The couple enjoys only a one week vacation in the winter and two five day breaks in the summer.  “One real advantage over most businesses is that we can schedule our workload.  We can slip away for a day here and there which provides a nice break.  It’s a demanding schedule, but far from overwhelming,” says Diane.

    Perhaps the best fringe benefit of running the B&B is the enduring friendships that John and Diane have formed with many of their guests, some of whom are now like family.  “The annual visits of our regular guests mark the changing of the seasons and the heralding in of holidays,” says John, adding, “Our lives are richer, thanks to them.”

    And to confirm the mutual respect, one only has to read reviews on for John’s book.  One comment comes from T.W. Barritt of who states, “The first time I stayed at the Foster Harris House I had a feeling of déjà vu, as if I’d met innkeepers Diane and John MacPherson before. Each room is elegantly furnished yet supremely comfortable. John is the chef who sees artistry in simple ingredients like eggs and bacon. Each morning is better than the day before. New guests whisper to me, have you gotten this kind of breakfast everyday.”

    Need more be said?  Makes all of us want to consider a career change, eh?


    Categories : WINE ARTICLES

    Will Trump Put Virginia on the Wine Map?

    Posted on Apr 09 2011 | By

    “The Donald” Could Become Force in Showcasing Old Dominion Wine Worldwide
    In yet another reinvention of himself, Donald Trump purchased the Kluge Estate Winery & Vineyard in Charlottesville, Virginia on April 7, adding “winemaker” to his renowned deal maker reputation.  Known worldwide for his magical investment acumen, the New York Billionaire is now poised to make a significant contribution to Virginia’s wine reputation.

    Kluge Winery Barrel Cave

    The unlikely appearance of Trump in Virginia’s “tasting room” was a result of his long friendship with Patricia Kluge, the driving force behind the creation of one of the largest wineries in the state.  Unfortunately, a bad economy and an overzealous business plan resulted in her dream falling into foreclosure last year.  Until a last minute agreement by Trump to ride to the rescue, it looked like Kluge would relinquish the keys to her wine cellar and move on.  Trump seemingly reversed those plans with a simple lift of the bidder’s paddle.

    Trump’s winning bid of $6.2 million was an extraordinary bargain since the estate went on the market last year for $100 million and had an existing $28 million mortgage.  He said it was likely he would keep Kluge in charge of winery operations, one of the few areas in which he claims no expertise.

    If the general understanding of the arrangement comes to pass, bottles of Trump wine might well be appearing in casinos, resorts, country clubs and restaurants worldwide—all owned by the financier.  His existing distribution network could provide dramatic exposure to what is currently considered a regional wine producing region.

    The day following Trump’s coup, another auction was held at the winery itself to liquidate the assets as part of the overall estate settlement. The event was attended by both winery owners and farmers from around the state looking for bargain basement equipment.  The bidders were in for a surprise.

    Bill Moses

    Kluge’s husband Bill Moses, with his ever-present laptop, was accompanied at the auction by his stylishly dressed wife Patricia.  He repeatedly raised his bidder’s number 990 buying all of the top wine equipment and most of the bulk wine.  Within an hour it became apparent Trump was invisibly circulating the winery grounds pointing out what he wanted to keep and what he was willing to let go.  He kept most of the good stuff for himself.  Surprised?

    I attended the auction and had an opportunity to observe the unique interaction between the auctioneers and the former owners.  It seems that Moses was never more than few feet from the auctioneer’s microphone as one piece of expensive equipment after another shifted from bank ownership into Trump’s hands.

    Not often do major second chances in life occur as dramatic as this event.  It appears Kluge and Moses will continue to generate headlines in the Commonwealth’s wine industry in the years ahead.  If you didn’t get a chance to attend this unusual auction, take a few minutes to see how it unfolded in the video below.

    All the best to Trump, Kluge and Moses.  Wine lovers everywhere will be waiting to see how the new venture plays out.

    [vsw id=”Y1bfBnS6sik” source=”youtube” width=”425″ height=”344″ autoplay=”no”]


    Categories : WINE ARTICLES