New Way to Wine Down

Photo | Nora Fitzpatrick More than 40 came to the first meeting of the Kentlands Wine Club on Sept. 21. Pictured are (L to R) Haslyn Hunte, Annie Hunte, Ailene Renzi, Helene Griffith, Lynn Longley, Yamil Hernandez, Steve Longley, Gwen Emerson, Brendan Emerson and Rob Garretson.

Photo | Nora Fitzpatrick
More than 40 came to the first meeting of the Kentlands Wine Club on Sept. 21.
Pictured are (L to R) Haslyn Hunte, Annie Hunte, Ailene Renzi, Helene Griffith, Lynn Longley, Yamil Hernandez, Steve Longley, Gwen Emerson, Brendan Emerson and Rob Garretson.

Members of the Kentlands Wine Club gathered in the Kentlands Clubhouse on Friday, Sept. 21 to kick off their inaugural meeting. The word “meeting” is far too serious a term for the convivial atmosphere of the evening, where a group of more than 40 came together to socialize, try new wines and learn a little in the process. Fortunately, my editor had some instinct that I would be just the person for this hard-hitting assignment, one that I eagerly accepted.

Steve Longley, along with his wife, Lynn, founded the Kentlands Wine Club, which is open to all residents of Kentlands and Lakelands. Residents of Kentlands since 1993, the Longleys found that many of their neighbors also enjoyed wine and quite a few were taking trips centered in regions around the world known for their wineries. In addition to sharing their neighbors’ experiences in Italy and France, the Longleys have made many excursions with friends to taste the best of Maryland and Virginia vines. They knew that a wine club could be a popular attraction.

The Longleys wanted the club to be a community effort, one that would include folks from Kentlands and Lakelands who share a common interest. So, they reached out to the Kentlands Community Foundation and asked if this new club might suit the Foundation’s mission.

Given that the Foundation’s criteria for inclusion strives to “balance arts and cultural activities with opportunities for  community outreach and volunteerism,” the Kentlands Wine Club was admitted by unanimous vote.

For the kickoff event, guests were encouraged to bring a bottle of wine that they enjoyed with an accompanying note explaining why they love it. The evening began with a presentation from Liz Kidderman, the mid-Atlantic representative from Jackson Stanley wines. Kidderman shared copies of an “aroma wheel,” which illustrates over 100 characteristics of wine. With the aroma wheel, according to its creator, Dr. Ann Noble, “wine drinkers can learn to name the aromas and flavors they perceive.”

Kidderman also brought corkscrews for every guest, noting that if you have a good corkscrew, you’ll save money. No one likes having to toss a fantastic bottle of wine because the cork ended up moving in the wrong direction.

Longley brought a Stonestreet chardonnay, which he described as well-balanced and possessing a flavor of oak with some length to it. His favorite of the night, however, was a version of haut-brion as well as a petite Sirah Arroyo that he noted was “dense dark purple and sensational.”

Longtime Kentlands resident Eileen Schlictling shared that she had brought a bottle of Cristom pinot noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. What a great introduction for my husband and me, walking into a group of people we didn’t know. Willamette Valley pinot noirs are our favorite.

The event was the perfect way to wind down after a long week. The club’s Kentlands Clubhouse meeting space is central and convenient, within walking distance for many.

With so many fabulous family-friendly activities in the neighborhood, having an adults-only social event is needed and welcome.

As a sanctioned program of the Kentlands Community Foundation, the Wine Club will become involved in charitable endeavors as the group grows. Members will decide what charity to support. Longley was confident that any fundraising by the club would benefit a local charity.

The Kentlands Wine Club’s next meeting will be Friday, Oct. 19, 7 p.m. at the Kentlands Clubhouse. The October event will feature a sommelier who will teach techniques and tasting. A sommelier can also help recommend wines you might like basedon your current favorites. Longley said this will be a great opportunity for club members to broaden their palates and learn about new wines.

Eventually, the club hopes to host wine dinners as well. For more information about the club, visit kentlandsfoundation.org/home/about/programs/kentlands-wine-club

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