When I returned and found the latest issue of 435 Magazine in my mailbox, I was excited to see an article on Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery. Thought maybe I would share it with you.
Somerset Ridge, Uncorked
Step aside for a moment, cocktail revolution. There are artisan winemakers in town who have earned time in the spotlight. And though it may be surprising to some that in the Heartland—where prior to prohibition 87 percent of the country’s wine was produced—quality wines are catching the attention of seasoned and discerning palates.
Dennis and Cindy Reynolds, owners of Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery, aren’t strangers to the steady stream of accolades they receive for their award-winning wines. The petite vineyard—located on a postage-stamp size chunk of land 25 minutes outside Johnson County, near Louisburg—is one of a handful of Kansas wineries helping to put the Sunflower State on the lucrative wine map and turning heads along the way.
But the couple—he a former attorney, she a corporate executive and now both are stewards of the good earth—particularly covet their vineyard’s most recent accomplishment in the lofty wine world.
The prestigious Jefferson Cup Invitational, the only competition that honors the best of the best among wineries from all of America’s wine regions, gave a nod in late November to Somerset Ridge’s Oktoberfest 2009. The wine won the judges’ affection in the category of non-vinifera white wine—vines which flourish in the more extreme climates in the center portion of the United States. In addition to their top-tier showing, Somerset Ridge won medals for five other wines in the stringent competition: Traminette and Citron won American Examples of Greatness (equivalent to a gold), while Ruby Red, Chardonel and Ambrosia won Medals of American Merit (on par with a silver).
The 11th Annual Jefferson Cup Invitational, which had wines from 21 states and distributed top honors to wines from six states, is a different sort of wine competition. Founded and directed by local wine guru Doug Frost, MS, MW—one of only three individuals in the world to have achieved the titles of Master Sommelier and Master of Wine—the competition is based on the democratic philosophies of its namesake, Thomas Jefferson. The judging panel is comprised of industry luminaries.
“What we are doing is following Mr. Jefferson’s example and allowing every quality wine-producing region in America a place at our table,” says Frost. “While many may know him from his well-chronicled political role, most Americans have no idea just how influential Jefferson was in the way we eat and drink and live today. To call Mr. Jefferson ahead of his time where food and wine are concerned is the ultimate understatement. He was growing grapes that did not really come into vogue in this country until 20 years ago.”
And like Mr. Jefferson, the Reynolds became trailblazers when they took 45 bucolic acres in Kansas and turned the land into an upstart boutique winery. Licensed in 2001, Somerset Ridge has 8,000 vines on the far western edge of the Ozark shelf with softly rolling hills that gather mist in the early morning and are dappled with sunlight in the afternoon—dream topography for prolific grape growing.
“Our operation is not unlike the jewel-box vineyards found in California and regions of Europe that produce millions of bottles of wine each year,” says Cindy.
Indeed, Somerset Ridge is a lovely and hard-working vineyard, producing more than 5,000 cases of award-winning, handcrafted wines including European-style reds, an off-dry German-style white, a traditional port and a late-harvest white dessert wine, that continues to impress connoisseurs in Kansas, Missouri, California and across the U.S. “With the efficient use of our relatively small acreage we’re able to produce a lot of wine,” says Dennis.
Four of the top spots in the Jefferson Cup Invitational Wine Competition went to three eastern Kansas wineries, including Blue Jacket Crossing, Holy-Field and Somerset Ridge.
Cheers, Somerset Ridge. Winners take all.
I am a very proud Mom!
The vines at Somerset Ridge are in a deep sleep right now, and after checking the weather forcast, they may slip into a coma! I get the shivers when I hear the temperatures....and of course, I start thinking SOUP!
Coming in out of the cold and sitting down to a cup or bowl of steaming hot soup is such a treat, and as far as I am concerned, an absolute necessity!
Many ears ago, there use to be a restaurant called Baby Doe's. I looked like an old mining company in the mountains. It was perched up on a hill over looking the river bottom area. The only problem with the restaurant was it apparently was slipping down that hill! People were definitely disappointed to see the place close, but better that than tumbling down the hillside full of people dining!
One of Baby Doe's big winners on the menu was the Cheese Soup with Beer. I seem to have an abundance of milk in the fridge, so this is going to be my dinner!
Baby Doe's Cheese Soup with Beer
2 quarts milk
1 1/2 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 tablespoon salt 6 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water
12 fluid ounces dark beer
1 (16 ounce) jar processed cheese sauce
1. In a large pot over medium heat, combine the milk, bouillon, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and salt. Bring close to a boil.
2. In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the water and add to the soup, stirring well. Add the beer and the cheese sauce, reduce heat to low and mix well. Allow to heat through before serving.
Now, it is back to the studio.....the paint is calling me.