Friday, April 4, 2014

Arboreal Adjacent Libations – Time in a Bottle

[7:42 am] I am thrashing about on the fringes of the penumbra of a spring cold now.  Taking a curious amalgamation of vitamins, minerals and herbs…both in tablet and tea form.  Perhaps the Lonicera japonica (aka Japanese honeysuckle), hawthorn berry and organic burdock root will crush the symptoms. 

[11:58 am]  Feeling much better.

We are six weeks away from Howard County’s own Wine in the Woods festival – a celebration of Maryland wine.  Wine producers, imbibers, artisans, food vendors, musicians and other makers-of-merry gather in Columbia’s Symphony Woods for this annual event that occurs on a May weekend. 

It is rumored, among the more hedonistic elements of Howard County society, that Governor Martin O’Malley, a potential long-shot 2016 presidential candidate, will appear in one of the tents and pour for the attendees…between performing Foghat covers with his band on the Purple Stage.  But such idle and irresponsible speculation has no place on this blog. 

Having attended this splendid fete for the past few years, I generally start looking forward to Wine in the Woods shortly before St. Patrick’s Day.  That said, the Anticipation, much like the spring, is a late arrival.  Perhaps the delayed winter thaw is playing tricks with my internal calendar.  I think of Wine in the Woods as a transition point between spring and summer…and summer feels quite far away.

I am hoping that more Maryland wineries come out with a Gruner Veltliner, an under-rated grape most commonly associated with Austria.  I always thought it would work in Maryland’s climate.  Right now, our wineries tend to focus on “Bordeaux grapes” (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot), Italian varieties (Sangiovese) and French-hybrids (Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc).  Chardonnay, bien sur, is grown in Maryland as well.  Producing wines that are mostly quaffable and sometimes quite complex, our winemakers have really stepped up their game in recent years.  Much like Washington State and New York have elevated Riesling among American wine consumers, I believe Gruner Veltliner (or “Gru-Ve” pronounced “groovy”) could help enhance the Maryland wine brand.

An early proponent of the Wine in the Woods concept was then-Howard County Council member Paul Farragut who, recognizing the success of a similar event in a near-by county, suggested “Why not here? Why not us?”

Such forward thinking has helped create a genuine Happening.  Now celebrating its 22nd year, with thousands of attendees and over 30 participating wineries, Wine in the Woods is an excellent example of policymakers working with the private sector to promote Maryland - for our products and as a tourist destination.

This post was intended to be about the County Executive race and a discussion of Professor Stephen Skowronek’s concept of “political time.”  I clearly went off the rails, so that will have to wait.  That said, here is a question for the candidates:

 “Given the success of local festivals such as Wine in the Woods, what other events would you like to see held in Howard County and why? And how? And when?”

Stay tuned, as more will follow.

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