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Winemakers Dinners

Winemakers Dinners Feature International Wine Superstars  –  Those who have the privilege to attend the 2009 Winemakers Dinners, an event sponsored by the BVI Tourist Board and organized by the BVI Charitable Fund, will not only be treated to great food and wine, but also the company and expertise of some of the best winemakers in the world.

While delighting attendees with perfectly matched food and wine, the organizers hope to promote the BVI as a premiere tourist destination that offers exclusive, one-of-a-kind events while also raising money for local BVI charities such as the BVI Red Cross, St Mary’s School, St George’s School and the Youth Empowerment Program (YEP). 


Part of the exclusivity of the event is based on the winemakers who will be in attendance. At no other event in the world do these award-winning, dedicated, passionate winemakers come together for the purpose of sharing their wines with such a small group of fortunate guests.


Pio Cesare estates, family owned in Alba, Italy since 1881, is currently helmed by winemaker Pio Boffa. Under his leadership, some of the finest wines of Italy are being crafted, most notably his 2004 Barolo, which Wine Spectator awarded Number Six in its Top 100 of 2008, calling it a “big, juicy, chewy wine.”


The Muga wines—riojas, rosadas, blancos and cavas—are considered among the best in Spain, a fact that is evidenced by regular accolades in every wine publication. The charming Manuel Muga, grandson of founder Isaac Muga Martinez, currently runs the vineyard with his brother Jorge. They take pride in producing both classic and contemporary wines.


Former international fashion model Sandra Tavares da Silva is the winemaker for three Portuguese wineries, including Wine & Soul, which she and her husband own in Douro, Portugal—a region hailed by Food & Wine magazine as “the next must-visit wine country.” The same article called Wine & Soul’s 2005 Pintas “full of explosive wild black raspberry flavors lifted by floral aromas and supported by fine-grained, powerful tannins.”


Jorge Serôdio Borges, Sandra’s husband and partner in Wine & Soul, is also the winemaker for Quinta Do Passadouro, a traditional vineyard in Douro where the grapes are still foot-trodden. Sommelier Olivier Poussier calls the Passadouro Reserva red 2003 a “fleshy, almost sap-like wine” that “enchants the palate with its elegant, savory frame.” Borges was voted 2009 Winemaker of the Year by Essencio do Vinho.


German wine patriarch Wilhelm Haag has been making Riesling since 1957 when he was twenty years old. Vineyards Fritz Haag and Schloss Lieser, both in the Mosel region. are currently run Wilhelm’s sons Oliver and Thomas, respectively. In 2008, Wein-Gourmet magazine made an exception to their rule of choosing a Wine of the Year and instead selected Fritz Haag’s entire collection as Collection of the Year.


In the 1990s, Bernard Kirsten took over Weingut Kirsten, also located in the Mosel region of Germany. Due to the steep hills and rocky slate soil, mechanization is impossible, so the wines are literally hand crafted. Gault Millau WeinGuide awarded the winery three grapes, among other “producers who have been making co nsistently high quality wines for many years.”


California winemaker Jon Priest, from Etude, maintains a philosophy to produce “wine that is grown, not made.” This philosophy results in award-winning and sought-after wines. Etude’s 2005 Deer Camp Estate Pinot Noir Carneros received a rating of 96 from Wine Enthusiast who said, “This is one for the cellar…it shows powerfully ripe blackberry, cherry, cassis and coffee flavors that have been well oaked.”



BVI Property Guide asked Ajit Mathew George, Co-Chair of the BVI Charitable Fund and Managing Director of Nail Bay Resort how he was able to assemble such an all-star assembly of winemakers. “I’m a lucky person,” Mr. George, a wine collector, replied. He elaborated that his luck stemmed from friends, connections and years of attending international wine shows.

“Giorgio Paradisi [of Giorgio in Mahoe Bay, Virgin Gorda] is a close friend of Pio, and that’s the only reason we are getting him. Wilhelm Haag, both of his sons were here last year, Thomas and Oliver. This year the father is coming. He’s the one who introduced me to Rieslings.” Mr. George added that he met Wilhelm Haag through his friend Martin Dindoš of OHMS, one of the founding sponsors of the Winemakers Dinners. “Martin represents the Mosel wines.”


When on a trip to the Mosel region three years ago, Mr. George met Bernard Kirsten through Mr. Kirsten’s sister Gabi Romberg of the BVI Tourist Board’s German office. “They (Weingut Kirsten)make a remarkable sparkling wine that will be served each night, and there will be a wine that will be specially bottled just for the Winemakers Dinners with a special label. They came last year, and the specially bottled wines for 2008 Winemakers Dinners were sold out immediately.”

“Jon Priest is here because of Saveur magazine. I asked them to help me get an interesting winemaker from California.” Mr. George had encountered Manuel Muga at this year’s ProWein in Dusselfof, Germany and invited him to come to Winemakers. “He just couldn’t say no.” At another wine event, he met the husband and wife team from Portugal: Sandra Tavares da Silva and Jorge Serôdio Borges. He expressed excitement that they would be bringing port as well as some of their award-winning wines to this year’s event and the fact that she is “an absolutely superb female winemaker in a very male-dominated winemaking world.”


“It’s really a wonderful mix of people—Old Guard, represented by Haag and Boffo, to Wine & Soul, a first generation wine.” Mr. George’s love of wine was apparent as he started to talk about the wine pairings that will take place with the meals. “Each course will be paired with one or two wines, with a minimum of six courses; each course prepared by a different chef. That’s how we’ll make this thing work to create a real culinary symphony. “

“A remarkable collection of wine and a remarkable collection of people,” he said. “This is a unique chance to come to one event as if you’re travelling around the world.”

The Winemakers Dinners take place on July 16 to 19 and December 3 to 6. The July dinners, which feature the winemakers listed above, will be held at elite locations in the BVI: Necker Island on July 16, Peter Island on July 17, Guana Island on July 18 and Mooney Bay in Virgin Gorda on July 19, with an opening VIP welcome reception on July 15 at the Sugar Mill Ruins at Nail Bay. For more information, visit www.winemakersdinners.com. 

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