Chaddsford Hard Cider Sports Contemporary ACI Screw Cap

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Chaddsford Hard Cider Sports
Contemporary ACI Screw Cap 
on Fast-Growth Traditional Colonial Beverage

Newly launched craft cider keeps its freshness with ACI’s “fizz” screw cap liner

Chadds Ford, PA--
Today’s packaging technology merges smoothly with Jim Osborn’s historical approach to crafting hard cider. Osborn, the winemaker at Chaddsford Winery, the largest and best known in Pennsylvania, evokes a centuries-old tradition with his contemporary rendition of the beverage favored by North American colonists and now embraced in a dynamic revival. The new “fizz” screw cap liner from ACI Cork USA marries well with Chaddsford Hard Cider, thanks to its unique ability to retain fresh crisp flavors while offering ease of consumer opening and reclosability.

Chaddsford’s own history is one of award-winning wine production. A stone’s throw from the famous Revolutionary war site, the Battle of Brandywine, the Winery has steadily established a tradition of locally-sourced, quality wines since its founding in 1982. Osborn was inspired to apply his talent and creativity to hard cider early last summer. He started with 1,000 gallons of fresh-pressed apple cider, which he then cold-fermented and left unfiltered, capturing the pure, simple nature of the fruit. The result is a European-style cider much like that consumed by his forefathers—and a big hit among visitors to both the Winery tasting room and the Chaddsford retail shop in Peddler’s Village, in nearby Bucks County.

Osborn was also drawn to hard cider for pragmatic reasons. Using just Pennsylvania-grown apples, the cidery that provides a key ingredient in Chaddsford’s Spiced Apple wine presses the proprietary blend on demand, with overnight delivery for maximum freshness. The availability of a year-round supply aligns perfectly with Osborn’s plan to produce hard cider on demand as well. “The beauty of it is that I am not locked into a specific season, and I can utilize all the equipment we already have in house,” he comments.

He did have to find an appropriate closure for the 750-ml amber-colored glass bottles selected to represent the product’s brand. While the hard cider is not carbonated, a small residue of CO2 remains in the bottle, requiring a higher level of gas retention than the 60 x 30 ACI screw caps regularly used on Chaddsford wines. The solution is the ACI “fizz” screw cap with an aluminum exterior and a polymer insert with a Saranex liner, the same closure purchased by ACI customers who make sparkling cider and wine. The liner provides a total oxygen barrier to preserve the organoleptic qualities and flavor of the product at the time of bottling. Osborn points out, “I can still use the same capping equipment we use for our wine, but this screw cap offers a tighter seal that gives me a little extra insurance and allows me to sleep well at night.”

Since its debut last fall, Chaddsford has sold 500 cases of Hard Cider from its two retail outlets; plans call for an output of 2,000 cases in 2015. There is interest in launching the product into the Winery’s Mid-Atlantic distribution network, “but we haven’t cemented that decision yet,” Osborn says. As he eyes the multiple attractions of his new product—its lively taste, 6% alcohol by volume, and naturally gluten-free composition–he sees a bright and fizzy future ahead.

The Chaddsford Winery and tasting room are located at 632 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, PA 19317, (610) 388-6221. For more information on products from Chaddsford Winery and Hard Cider, go to

# # March 2015 # #

ACI Cork USA, celebrating its 11th anniversary in the United States, is located at 2870 Cordelia Road, Suite 150, Fairfield CA 94534. Telephone: (707) 426-3566.

Valentine's Wines: Steve Bjerklie Writes from New Hampshire

wine-st-valentine-day (2)Your lover wants chocolate, you want wine. Can this relationship be saved in time for Valentine’s Day?
You won’t have to look far to find expert, well-meaning advice saying, yes, sure, no problem. Red wine — especially a dense zinfandel or petite sirah, even a good pinot noir — is a great match for chocolate, or so goes the conventional wisdom. I’m here to tell you, however, that’s baloney. I think red wine goes with chocolate like flip-flops go on a hockey rink: the combination usually proves embarrassing.
So instead of following the crowd, try pairing Valentine chocolate with a good port. New Hampshire state liquor stores usually have a variety of good ports on hand, and the full state wine list (from which you can order online) offers dozens of ports, including some high-end vintage bottles.
True port is a sweet dark wine fortified with aguardente (a grape spirit, though not brandy) that comes from Portugal, specifically the Duoro Valley. If “sweet” and “fortified” don’t seem to you like attractive descriptions for a wine, consider that production of port dates back at least to the 17th century, and across the centuries port makers have learned a very great deal about how to make delicious wine.
Several kinds of port cater to different tastes. Tawny port is aged in wooden barrels, often for decades, and tends to be on the sweet side. It’s usually served as a dessert wine. Ruby port is the most common port and is typically the cheapest; it is not aged in wood but in stainless steel tanks. Vintage port is the good stuff, made only in years that are declared “vintage” by the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto, the official body governing port production in Portugal, based on the quality of that year’s grapes. Vintage ports are typically aged for two years in wooden barrels, then further aged in the bottle for much longer, sometimes as long as 40 years, before they’re released for sale. Indeed, vintage port more than 100 years old can still taste wonderful.
What makes port a good match for chocolate is the hint of sweetness in the wine that’s supported, in the best ports, by subtle, tantalizing fresh fruit flavors. A dark chocolate, not too sweet, captures and complements the port’s sugar. Great port is as complex as a great Bordeaux or New World cabernet sauvignon, but in a completely different way. Just as you wouldn’t pair a cab with ice cream, you wouldn’t match a port with a steak. With port you want a food that complements and enhances the wine’s quiet sweetness and subtle fruitiness without bringing along a clashing acidity or oily fat. Strawberries dipped in chocolate come to mind. So does a really good chocolate truffle with raspberry filling.
A flavor combination I happen to love is orange with chocolate, and so another wine match for chocolate that’s a favorite of mine is dark chocolate accompanied by a glass of Essensia, a sweet dessert wine from Quady Winery in California that’s made with the orange muscat grape. You will find Essensia on the occasional restaurant wine list — it’s available at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, VT — and in a few well-stocked Vermont wine shops. It’s not on the New Hampshire state wine list, unfortunately.
- See more at:

COWBOYS, MAPLEWOOD AND SYRAH - Steve Bjerklie writes from New Hamphire


Back in the fall of 2013, a windstorm took down a stately old sugar maple on some acreage we own in Dorchester, NH. I didn’t have a chainsaw just then, so I let the fallen tree rest and dry out for more than a year before cutting it up for firewood. The past few weekends I’ve been at the task, sawing rounds off the trunk and the larger branches, and it’s a beast of a job. The tree, maybe 150 years old, is four feet in diameter at its thickest, and the wood, now nicely dried out, is hard as stone. (It burns great, though.)
While I work the old tree on a chilly gray afternoon, I like to think about the delicious stew my wife Cindy makes on cold days, a hearty concoction she calls “cowboy bean.” It’s amazing how thoughts of good, hot food can make sawing rounds of heavy trunk-wood in an icy, biting wind much easier, especially when those thoughts include a wine that is one of my favorites. For there’s nothing better with cowboy bean stew than a great big syrah.
Syrah is the basis for the elegant, complex red wines of the northern Rhône region in France. It can also be made into a fruitier, much simpler wine, as cheap shiraz (as syrah is called there) from Australia demonstrates. In the United States, syrah (not to be confused with petite sirah, which is a different grape altogether) tends to be denser than light Australian shiraz but is usually not as multi-dimensional as the best Rhônes.
There are exceptions, though. My favorite American syrahs come from Washington state, particularly the Walla Walla Valley. There, the hot, dry summers and cold, sometimes bitter, winters and the rocky, volcanic soils stress syrah vines just enough to concentrate an abundance of flavors into the grapes. Indeed, the region has attracted several French-born vignerons in addition to a new generation of young winemakers. The highest-end Walla Walla syrahs — those from Cayuse, Spring Valley, Sleight of Hand, Trust Cellars, Long Shadows and SYZYGY, among others — are all but impossible to find in the eastern U.S. outside of a tiny handful of exclusive restaurants, though it’s very much worth trying to get on mailing lists for these wines. However, excellent Washington syrah is widely available under the Columbia Crest label, and the New Hampshire State Liquor store wine list includes terrific Walla Walla syrah from K Vintners and Charles Smith.
This isn’t to say other regions don’t produce fine syrah. Randall Grahm, the original “Rhone Ranger,” began growing Rhone varietals, including syrah, in California north of Santa Cruz back in the 1980s. His winery, Bonny Doon, makes a very good syrah called “Pousseur” that’s on the NH State Liquor list. In addition to Santa Cruz and Bonny Doon syrahs, I’ve tasted good syrahs from the Sierra Foothills and the Paso Robles area in California and the northern Willamette Valley in Oregon.
Not to forget, of course, syrah’s ancestral home, the Rhône Valley in southeastern France, which produces some of the finest wines in the world. Syrah has been grown there for wine for 2,500 years, and across the millennia the French vignerons have learned a thing or two about how to make great wine from this wonderful grape. If you see the word “Cornas” in large type on the label of a French wine, snap it up. That sub-region of the northern Rhône produces, arguably, the best syrah anywhere. With Cornas in your glass, you are in for a truly special wine experience. This beautiful wine would certainly pair well with Cindy’s cowboy bean stew. Even a Frenchman might say “Mon Dieu!” to the match while a maplewood fire warmed the room.
(Steve Bjerklie is a writer who works from the Half Pint Farm in New Hampshire.  This column first appeared in online magazine, in January 2015)

Industry Veteran Raul Marques Joins ACI CORK USA

Sales Executive brings more than
30 years of experience to
Raul Marques is the latest addition to the sales team at ACI CORK USA. Mr. Marques, a native of Portugal’s cork-growing region, has logged more than three decades in the cork business, occupying a progression of sales and management positions and working with winery customers around the globe.

Headquartered in Fairfield, California, ACI CORK USA provides cork and non-cork closures to producers of wine, distilled spirits, vinegars and oils in the US, Canada, and Mexico.

“Raul’s comprehensive knowledge of the industry is a great asset to our company,” comments Armando Andrade, General Manager of ACI CORK USA. “In addition, he shares our commitment to maintaining a premier position in customer service to the wine industry as our market share continues to grow.”

Since beginning his career on the production floor of a cork manufacturer near his home town, Mr. Marques has had a first-hand view of advances in all facets of the business, from forest management to the adoption of sophisticated processing technologies to the location of finishing plants near winemakers to foster frequent and convenient communication.


“Corks nowadays are much more reliable, thanks in large part to the continuous process improvement and rigid quality control practices such as those in place at ACI CORK USA,” he notes. “Today’s wineries enjoy a wide variety of closure options to protect their products and support brand identification initiatives. As a supplier it’s a definite advantage to offer a gamut of cork types, capsules and screw caps, along with the flexibility to meet their unique delivery requirements.


“I’m very pleased to serve our customers throughout California in this new capacity,” Mr. Marques concludes.
ACI CORK USA, celebrating its 10th anniversary in the United States, is located at 2870 Cordelia Road, Suite 150, Fairfield CA 94534. Telephone: (707) 426-3566.
ACI CORK USA provides cork and non-cork closures to producers of wine, distilled spirits, vinegars and oils in the North American market. Corks are sourced from Portuguese companies that use world class technology to produce all-natural cork wine stoppers; other cork-based products sold by ACI CORK USA are the new innovative Nanocork™, several types of "technical" corks produced via agglomeration processes, closures for sparkling wines, and Bartop™ closures. Screwcaps and capsules, included in the ACI CORK USA product line, provide one-stop shopping for any wine closure need. After custom finishing each product to exacting customer specifications in the modern 30,000 sq ft Fairfield CA plant, ACI CORK USA provides closures to more than 600 winemakers in the USA, Canada and Mexico.

2014 Vintage Report from Nevada County, California: Sierra Starr Vineyards

Anne Starr pours Sierra Starr's
wines in their Grass Valley
downtown tasting room
Jackson Starr of Sierra Starr Vineyards, Vineyard Manager and Assistant Winemaker, sends along this very informative 2014 Vintage Report. Sierra Starr Vineyards is located in Grass Valley, CA, and is part of the growing number of quality vineyards in Nevada County, CA. You can learn more about them on their website (click here)


2014 was an exciting and extremely busy vintage here at Sierra Starr Vineyards. The vintage began nicely with warm and dry conditions in month of April. Although we certainly would have liked to see more rain during the rainy season, here in Grass Valley we did see 36+ inches of rain. The cool, wet weather retreated to a warm dry spring and we saw bud break 7 days earlier than normal (what ever normal is anymore) on April 14th with the Sauvignon Blanc being the first variety to push. Diligent canopy management began quickly after bud break to focus energy and promote growth. Soil nutrient tests were conducted on different vineyard blocks, pre bud break, to asses current soil nutrient attributes and deficiencies. From these findings a very specific fertigation and irrigation program was designed and implemented to maximizing vine performance while still adhering to our gentle farming practices. We escaped late spring without any frost incidents (knock, knock), and bloom began first in the Sauvingon Blanc on May 22, again keeping this season’s growing trends about 1 week ahead of average. The Zinfandel followed on May 25th and the Cabernet Franc the week of June 1st.


With verasion beginning the second week of July we knew harvest would certainly be commencing quicker than anticipated. And we were not disappointed.


Harvest began August 19th with the first of two Sauvignon Blanc picks. Our First Zinfandel pick of the vintage fell on September 9th, which is 2 days ahead of last year and about 3 weeks ahead of the old normal. On September 24th with rain looming, the Starr family, Phil, Jack, and Anne picked 3 ton of Petite Sirah (by themselves) in a 13 hour marathon, but hey, we got it in before the rain! The Cabernet Franc, our last variety to harvest, was picked on October 3rd to immediate accolades by both Phil and Jack due to the intense development of color and flavor.


The 2014 vintage yielded wines with intensity and freshness. These aspects are emphasized by the balance of sugars and firm acidity achieved in the winery. We feel this is truly a symptom of our very intense farming and our vineyard site, blessed with dry days, lots of warm sun, and cool nights.


It is also worth noting that our estate vineyards expanded during the 2014 vintage. With the addition of 900+ new vines (about half of our new hillside), we certainly feel the expression of our vineyard site is worth exploring and expanding. In doing so we took on two new varieties including Semillon and Riesling. Also expanding our holdings with varieties that have showed promise for us, Cabernet Franc, Petite Sirah and Alicante Bouchet. 

We at Sierra Starr are extremely excited and proud of the wines produced from the 2014 vintage and wait anxiously for their development in cask and tank before bottling down the road. 


The Starr Family

Sauvigon Blanc from Around the World

It’s not like we really need a special day to enjoy Sauvignon Blanc, but the wine industry designated one recently.   And so we gathered an interesting selection of Sauvignon Blanc from various wine regions of the world, and proceeded to taste them. 

I started with a Sancerre,  which has long been my favorite white wine with fish.  It pairs so magnificently with New England lobster that I can’t imagine going to Boston and having lobster there without a bottle of Sancerre at the table. 

The Sancerre I chose is the Domaine de la Perriere Sancerre 2013, produced by Saget La Perrier, a leading premium winery in the Loire Valley of France.  Managed now for 9 generations of Saget family owners,  currently the brothers Jean-Louis Saget and Christian Saget were brought up in the vineyards and learned to respect the soil and the vines from a young age.   Their love is reflected in this Sancerre.

This is a dry white wine with flowery fruit flavors that linger for a long time on the palate, and the characteristic minerality that defines most Sauvignon Blanc, along with a somewhat grassy aroma.  12.5 percent alcohol.  Suggested retail price is $24.99.

Next up, the Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc 2013 hails from from New Zealand’s Marlborough region, where the winds whip through the valleys each day and where towering mountains frame the vineyards.  Dashwood produces wines that are certified as sustainably grown, in vineyards in the Awatere and Wairau sub-regions of Marlborough.  This Sauvignon Blanc has an incredible aroma and a wonderful structure.  The fruit flavor is bright and fresh and zesty.  You’ll taste stone fruit like apple and pear, citrus, and some tropical flavors too.  13 percent alcohol.  Suggested retail price is $14.99

Casablanca, Chile, is the next wine region for our Sauvignon Blanc Day celebration.  The Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc 2013 is a result of the vision of Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) to expand their estate by growing in South America.  Los Vascos was the first French viticultural investment in modern Chile.

This is a very fine wine at a very moderate price.  The Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc is lively and refreshing with a perfect balance of fruit and acidity.  The spring and early summer of 2013 were cold in Casablanca, and the resulting late harvest yielded very aromatic grapes. The winemaker chose to express these remarkable aromas in this wine, and the bouquet is of lemon,  grapefruit and exotic fruit, with an aroma we don’t often get in other Sauvignon Blancs: boxwood.  Really scrumptious.  13 percent alcohol.  Suggest retail price of $13.99.  Grab some for the summer.  You won’t regret it.

This information appeared in the June 12 issue of The Tahoe Weekly, in myWine Time column

Garagiste Wineries - Featuring Dubost Ranch of Paso Robles

Kate Dubost in the Tasting Room
What is a garagiste winery?  The term often refers to folks who make wines in their garages, as they begin winemaking.  There is also a growing movement in California, primarily based in the Paso Robles area, of garagiste wineries.  The website says this:  GARAGISTES – (gar-uh-zhē-stuh) n, Fr. – A term originally used in the Bordeaux region of France to denigrate renegade small-lot wine makers, sometimes working in their garage, who refused to follow the “rules.” Now a full-fledged movement responsible for making some of the best wine in the world.”

I visited a Paso Robles garagiste winery, Dubost Ranch.  With production capacity now of 1200 cases a year, winemaker Zachary Raines along with owner Kate Dubost (also known as “Mom”) have produced an impressive array of wines since their first vintage in 2003.  All wines are hand bottled, hand corked and hand-foiled.  Talk about a labor of love!
The tasting room - cool place on a hot day!

One of the interesting aspects of Dubost Ranch winery is their commitment to being as sustainable as possible.  The building housing the barrels, equipment, and tasting room is built of bales of rice straw.  This provides a natural insulation, important in the Paso Robles area where the days are hot and the nights are cool.  This temperature variation, however challenging from the storage point of view, makes for great grape growing conditions!

The Dubost 2009 Crianza, Paso Robles, is a blend of 20% Grenache, 40% Tempranillo and 40% Syrah.  “Think of it this way,” said Kate.  “It’s Iberian Peninsula meets the Rhone…but with a bit more acidic tones.”  The aroma is of dried fruit and vanilla, with a subtle hint of oak.  Taste is clean and refreshing, with a nice fruitiness and that acidity for balance.  104 cases produced.  13 percent alcohol. $25 the bottle. 

Their newest release is the 2010 Estate Cuvee.  This Cuvee, of which only 70 cases were produced, is a blend of 34% Syrah, 33% Petite Verdot, and 33% Malbec.  The color of deep garnet gives you an inkling that the aroma will be heady, with cedar, anise, vanilla, cherry cola and a hint of mint.   This wine has a big body, with well developed tannins and a sweet lingering finish.  All fruit was sourced from Dubost’s own vineyards.  16.5 percent alcohol.  $45 the bottle. 

The 2009 Reserva, made with fruit from Starr Ranch Vineyard, Paso Robles, is a fairly tannic wine blended from Syrah and Tempranillo.  Carbonic maceration led to aromatics of coffee and lavender, and a taste of dark fruit and rich oak.  150 cases produced.  17.4 percent alcohol. $40 the bottle.

I also enjoyed their 2010 Carmenere, their Rose, and the 2009 Homestead Red.  Descriptions and prices are on the website, and they’ll gladly ship to you.  Or visit them at 9988 Chimney Rock Road, Paso Robles.  Call for hours 805-226-8463.

Freckles, the Dubost Winery cat

This appeared in June 2014 in my Wine Time column in The Tahoe Weekly