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Our Annual Vintner’s Dinners: A Look Back at a 15-Year-Old Tradition

Although for most people, January is a lull between the busy holiday season and the bustle of a new year, for us winemakers, it’s an exciting time – it means the start of a new winegrowing season.

For the past 15 years, we’ve celebrated that by celebrating those who’ve helped us in the vineyard or who have supported our wines with our annual January Vintner’s Dinner.

What our Vintner’s Dinners entail

This colossal feast usually includes 40 guests, plus staff, all who get to enjoy hors d’ oeuvres and a white wine aperitif in our Wine Barn loft before moving to the farmhouse for a multi-course dinner completely prepared by our team.

Featuring dishes such as Tyrol Goulash, Chicken Paprikás, Spätzle with Bacon, Onion & Thyme Green Beans and Crescent Cookies, it’s a massive undertaking which always results in a jovial – and memorable – evening. And, it’s become an integral part of the Mount Salem experience.

This year, due to the pandemic, we of course had to cancel the event in order to keep our staff and guests safe. But don’t worry – next year, public health permitting, we hope to bring it back better than ever!

How our Vintner’s Dinners started

Back when we began hosting the Vintner’s Dinner, we were inspired by the epic feasts held in Burgundy, France at this time of year to honor St. Vincent, the patron saint of winegrowers. Those feasts, too, mark the end of a long holiday season and the beginning of a new winegrowing season.

For us, we wanted to use the dinners to build awareness of our new winery and our Burgundian approach to winegrowing. In an area that, at the time, lacked the wine culture it enjoys now, we wanted to show people that wine isn’t just a cocktail in a bottle picked up off the shelf – it’s the culmination of purposeful work that begins in the soil and ends with easing into bottles.

Read more: Our 17th Growing Season is Beginning at Mount Salem Vineyards

As the local wine culture grew, in some ways, the way we hoped it would, the purpose of the Vintner’s Dinner did, too. Soon enough, we weren’t just creating awareness – we were celebrating it with those who helped make it happen.

A mark of our own evolution

In the same way, the wines we served at the dinner evolved as well. At the beginning, since our wines still needed time to age, we poured some wines other than our own. But by our third Vintner’s Dinner, every wine sipped at the table was a Mount Salem wine. It was evidence of our growth, right there in a glass.

Read more: Private In-Person and Zoom Wine Tastings Now Available at Mount Salem Kitchen

Many have told us that returning to the Vintner’s Dinner year after year feels like returning to a family table, and we can’t help but agree. It’s a tradition we can’t wait to bring back when we can. In the meantime, our first-timers from last year are already busy volunteering so they can make it to the next!

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