Blush by Jamie Brenner is the perfect combination of books and wine. This is the story of three generations of women who come together to save a winery on the brink of collapse. Their book club, which consists of “trashy” novels from the 80s, inspires them to make real and fundamental change when it comes to the winery’s business practices and themselves.
Blush by Jamie Brenner is a celebration of the power of women coming together and demanding something better. Best of all, the characters are so developed and so specific, that we can’t help but connect to them and relate to their journeys.
This is a story that combines both the art of winemaking and the power of gathering around a good book. This is a story about women coming together to change and rebuild a business that has been male dominated for far too long. The women decide that their “place” is no longer on the sidelines, but where the decisions are made.
I paired Blush by Jamie Brenner with Anthony Road Rosé 2021.
Introduction to the Wine
One of the things I love about this book is that it focuses on an overlooked winemaking area—New York. They touched upon it in book but when you think of the best wine growing regions in America your mind may wander to places like California or Oregon.
In Blush by Jamie Brenner, Hollander Estates is located in Long Island American Viticultural Areas (A.V.A.). While I’ve never made it out to Long Island, I actually just visited the Finger Lakes, which is in upstate New York and located just 247 miles northwest of Long Island. So you guys are going to hear about the Finger Lakes!
About the Finger Lakes
It all started thousands of years ago when the Finger Lakes were carved by successive waves of glaciers, creating cuts as deep as 618 feet below sea level. The cuts became lakes and they are vital to the region’s viticulture.
This cool climate region benefits greatly from the temperature-moderating influence of the deep lakes which supports quality grape growing.
A pre-Prohibition wine region, the first vines were planted in Hammondsport, New York in 1829. By 1900, more than 50 wineries were established along the lakes. The Finger Lakes AVA was established in 1982 and boasts two sub-AVAs, the Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake AVAs, both established in 1988.
Today, the region is home to almost 150 wineries and 11,000 acres of vineyards and produces about almost 55,000 tons of grapes. In May, I had the pleasure of visiting the region for the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance Riesling Camp.
Introduction to the Wine
In the book, Leonard refuses to make rosé despite its popularity. Like a stubborn old man, he’d rather run his business into the ground than open to change. Even though I was at Riesling camp, I also tasted some rosé and brought some back with me.
About the Producer
Anthony Road Wine Company reminded me of the book because it was built from the group up by two people in love and turned into a daily affair. John and Ann Martini moved to Anthony Road in 1973. They loaded up two young children and left their home in Baltimore to set up their life on the west side of Seneca Lake.
Neither Ann nor John had an agricultural background, so it was an interesting choice. But together and with the help of family and friends they planted their first 5-acres, Foch, in the summer of 1973. The vineyard grew to 30-acres, and so did the Martini family with two more children.
It wasn’t always easy for them. They needed outside employment to support their endeavors. In the ‘80s, wineries that would purchase their fruit changed hands/demand for the grapes shifted, so the Martini’s were faced with varieties that weren’t in high demand and the uncertainty of grape sales at time of harvest.
They even had their own “blush” moment. John worked with the Wine Grape Foundation to create a vibrant pink “VineFresh” blended grape juice—which never really gained the traction it needed despite our tastings at the NY State Fair, in grocery store in New York City and across New York State. And then the kids started moving away.
In 2013, the family met over dinner to discuss the future of the vineyard and winery. It was decided to keep all in the family and continue on with the foundation that Ann and John laid. Now, all the children, spouses, and grandchildren help out. It’s not just a job for them—but a labor of love and our home.
About the Wine
This Rosé is made with 84% Cabernet Franc and 16% Lemberger, to achieve balance. They allowed the must (crushed fruit) to macerate for four hours before pressing, clarification, and fermentation. Juice was also drained from red fermentation tanks to supplement the rosé. Fermented at cool temperatures to retain aromatics and flavors. Notes: Aromas and flavors of cherry, floral, herb, watermelon and nectarine. You can get this wine for $18 on their website