Three years ago, 3 Williamsburg area wine enthusiasts decided to organize the Williamsburg area chapter –Wine Cellar 100 of the Wine Century Club (W.C.C.) This Club’s mission is to encourage members to go well beyond the popular grape varietals such as Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, etc to Catarratto, Malvasia, Cseizegi Fuszeres, Rodinella and beyond. In fact Italy, which boasts 3000 years of winemaking and some 2000 grape varieties, provides a fertile country to expand one wine varietals “count”.
The Wine Century Club was founded in New York City by Steve De Long in early 2005 to encourage all wine drinkers to expand their wine drinking horizon by seeking out unusual grape varieties—“ The W.C.C. is for all adventurous wine lovers. If you have tasted at least 100 grape varieties, you are qualified to become a member by completing a checklist available at www.winecentury.com
In early 2006, the 3 Williamsburg area wine enthusiasts – Heather Dunn, Bill Bean and Paul Luchsinger formed the Wine Cellar 100 chapter at the WINE SELLER in Monticello Marketplace with each new member completing the W.C.C. checklist with 100 or more grape varieties. Since that beginning, the local chapter has gained more than 20 members in the Historic Triangle area while worldwide the W.C.C. has grown to over 500 members. The state of Virginia has 45 members and leads the U.S. in membership by state (yes—even more members than New York or California!). It should be noted that only 3% all applicants who seek an application form submit a completed form with a minimum of 100 grape varieties.
Hence, it was only natural that the Wine Cellar 100 club should choose an Italian restaurant in Williamsburg that could supply a special requested list of wines for the wine tasting dinner. The scene was the new Italian restaurant “Francesco’s” on Richmond Road where 18 members and spouses gathered to taste 9 different wines representing unusual grape varieties from 6 Italian wine regions. Wine Century Club member Dusty Kennedy of Williamsburg discussed the special white wine features of Vernaccia from Tuscany, a blend of Ansonia/ catarratto from Sicily, and Fiano from Sicily. Among the red wine grapes were Aglianico from Campania, Dolcetto from Piedmont, Nero d’Avola from Sicily, Primitivo from Puglia and finally a special blend of Cannonau and Cabernet Sauvignon from Sardinia. It was a great evening of “wine touring “ and most members added 2-3 new grape varieties to their list.
After the special tiramisu dessert was served by Chef Francesco, it was time for a group photo and a special presentation for wine tasting accomplishment. W.C.C. member Andy Engel of Grafton, Va. was presented with the “DOPPEL MEMBER” recognition for reaching the level of 200 grape varieties tasted (Doppel meaning double in German or 2 times the minimum requirement for becoming a member of the Wine Century Club)