Wine Club Appreciation Weekend along Route 116 is a favorite rite of spring. As members of one participating winery, the other wineries extend club member privileges as well. Every year we use this event as an excuse to visit Hook and Ladder Winery. A great way to get the season of wine tasting off to a successful start!
Hook and Ladder Winery takes their firefighter theme very seriously. The driveway is guarded by a fire truck. The tasting room ceiling is covered with shirts from fire houses across the country. Many of the wines bear fireman-related names. All of this theming could get to be a bit over the top, except that the wine really is THAT GOOD! That puts all of the firefighter pride into perspective, delivering an experience as balanced as the wine.
We entered the tasting room to find a typical Hook and Ladder vibe: happy clusters of wine tasters spread across several tasting bars. Everyone was having a great time, enjoying their wine and their wine guide. There was a steady stream of wine cases heading out to car trunks as people fell in love with what they were tasting. Yes, a typical day at Hook and Ladder. We felt right at home!
We found a gap at the tasting bar and got ready for our tasting. Tasting room manager Devin remembered us from last time, and introduced us to our wine guide for the day, Hannah. She got us stated with their 2016 Gewürztraminer, an off-dry kiss of lemon and lime. We next tasted a 2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir. Sarah told us that this wine spent 24 hours on skins, followed by 4 weeks in stainless steel. Bottled barely a month earlier, we enjoyed the rose petal notes and felt that it would be ready pair with some BBQ chicken in a few more months.
A favorite of ours was their 2014 Third Alarm Pinot Noir, with complex layers of plum, coffee, and tobacco. A perennial favorite was the 2014 Tillerman, a blend of 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Cabernet Franc, 11% Merlot, and 24% Sangiovese. A great demonstration of a winemaker’s talent with blending. We also fell in love with their 2012 Four Rows Estate Cabernet Franc. The Cabernet Franc is joined with a splash of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. We designated this wine “best taste” of the winery.
Too soon, our tasting flight was complete. We thanked Hannah and relinquished our space at the bar to another group of incoming tasters. Our spring tasting was done. Now counting the weeks until our summer tasting!
About the Author: John grills a mean steak and is always in the market for another wine fridge. Believes that if a winery has more than 10 employees, it's probably too big. Buys wine faster than he drinks it, but who cares?