Rkatsiteli- The wine you can’t pronounce…

Rkatsiteli is considered one of the oldest domesticated grapes in the world. It has spread across the globe from its beginnings in Georgia, of the former Soviet Union. The grape itself has a reddish hue but many use to produce a white wine. The berries are small in size and can still have a fair amount of acidity at ripeness. This grape often ripens rather late in the season and has a good winter hardiness for a V. vinifera variety. While rather uncommon in the United States, Rkatsiteli was once the third most produced grape in the world. It is produced in Asia mostly with the grape not only being used for wine but also sparkling wines and distillation. The wine is often slightly floral, with hints of pear, apple, and quince.

Oh and it’s pronounced r-kat-si-teli in case you were wondering. Feel free to stop by and get some practice as you try the wine.

As always I hope you enjoyed this blog post.

-Brian Tomasello 4th Generation Outer Coastal Plain Winemaker Tomasello Winery


Robinson, Jancis, Julia Harding., and Jose Vouillamoz. Wine Grapes : a Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours. 1st U.S. ed. New York: Ecco, 2012.


Hot Summer Grapes

The hot summer is good, to an extent.

While you and I here in South Jersey have been sweating it out for the last few

weeks, the grapes have been thriving. Grapes flourish in the warm weather and can put a

lot of energy into ripening berries and producing new vegetative growth (something that

is not ideal if you want to make wine but there are ways to manage very leafy plants).

Plants will continue to thrive in this weather and harvest will be a little early if this

warmth sticks around for a few more weeks. And one of the biggest bonuses of the

warmth is bacterial disease like Downey Mildew and Black Rot are hindered by above

+90 O F temperatures. Any hotter though and the vines will start to feel the extreme heat


Around 100 O F to 105 O F plants begin to slow down as photosynthesis begins to

cost the plant water. If a plant continues to loose too much water it begins to wilt. To

prevent this, the plant will close its stomata (similar to pores in the skin). With the

stomata closed the plant can not take up CO 2 and photosynthesis grinds to a halt. When

the temperature drops low enough the stomata open and photosynthesis resumes.

Now for those of you thinking, “What happens to plants in hotter climates where

triple digits are common?” There are 3 types of photosynthesis, known as C3, C4, or

CAM. C3, which is the type grapes (V. vinifera) have, is the simplest from an

evolutionary standpoint and suited for cooler climates. C4 and CAM differ but both are

better suited for warmer climates. Sugarcane and cactus are examples of C4 and CAM


-Brian Tomasello 4th Generation Outer Coastal Plain Winemaker Tomasello Winery

The Outer Coastal Plain

If you have bought wine in South Jersey in the last decade you probably have noticed at least a few bottles with the abbreviation O.C.P. This is an abbreviation for the Outer Coastal Plain.

The OCP is one of roughly 225 AVA’s in the US and the largest of 3 AVA’s in NJ. AVA’s stand for American Viticulture Areas. These areas are set up by the federal government to help wine consumers understand that the wine from these areas all show similar characteristics. The idea helps to show regionalism in wine, the AVA’s are set by geographical boundaries, not legal boundaries. If AVA’s are used on a wine label, then the wine must contain at least 85% grapes grown in the boundary of the named AVA. The first AVA in the United States was set up in 1980. Since then new AVA’s are created every year. The new AVA’s must show that they are distinctive in growing conditions based on climate, soil, elevation and/or distinct physical features of the land.

The distinctive features of the OCP are the well-drained sandy loam soil and the maritime climate. The OCP covers 2.25 million acres of land and includes at least part of 9 counties in southern NJ. Roughly 30 wineries call the OCP home with more opening every year.


Wine of the Week: Petit Verdot

2013 Palmaris OCP Petit Verdot (Pronounced pe-TEE ver-DOE)

EZ-1003 retouched

Petit Verdot was originally a Bordeaux grape from the southwest area of France. It is a less common grape in its homeland since it ripens very late in the season, additionally it buds very early. Both of these things make growing Petit Verdot a challenge as frost in the spring or fall and cold weather throughout the summer may produce a limited crop or an under ripened crop. In a good year when the grapes fully ripen, Petit Verdot has a very dark purple hue.

Petit Verdot is often not used as a varietal wine, rather it usually is used for blending to round out Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. This year we wanted to highlight our Petit Verdot and produced the 2013 Palmaris (Latin for “prize worthy”) Petit Verdot. 2013 was a wonderful growing season here in the Outer Coastal Plain. We had dry and warm conditions though the end of the harvest which allowed for a full mature crop. Once picked the grapes were allowed to macerate and ferment for two weeks before it was blended together and stored away for 28 months in a mix of French Nevers Oak and American Oak. The blend is 79% Petit Verdot, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 9% Cabernet Franc.

Our Petit Verdot is a wonderful full bodied red wine with hints of cherry, warm hearty oak, along with many other secondary and tertiary aromas. It is best to open the wine and let it breath before you drink this wine. This allows the wine to open up and aromas to reach a fuller flavor potential. This is best done by decanting the wine. That being said, stop in at any of our tasting rooms and try some of the 2013 OCP Palmaris Petit Verdot. We are excited about the results.

I hope you enjoy this first of many wine blogs. I am going to try and discuss a few wines a month and teach some basic wine terminology/ wine processing.

-Brian Tomasello 4th Generation Outer Coastal Plain Winemaker Tomasello Winery