Today marks the 40th anniversary of Allegro opening its winery doors for the first time! In honor of the auspicious occasion, Carl and I have selected our Top 40 Reasons to Wine. (The good news is, that both good and bad days give us reasons to wine…) Chosen from Allegro’s four decades, here are some highlights, in no particular order:
Top 40 Reasons to Wine
1) Young Allegro co-founder John Crouch receiving a wine kit for Christmas, the gift which started it all.
2) Allegro wrangling with Napa’s big boys (Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild) in 1983 over the “Opus One” name, the settlement of which bought Allegro exactly one corking machine and one gravel bridge for the driveway.
3) The night at the Chef Series dinner in the early 2000s when, right as guests were arriving to taste wine, heavy rain split the winery awning which was supposed to shelter four tables of revelers.
4) John and Tim Crouch installing a tiny cube heater in the unheated tasting room—not for their comfort or the comfort of their customers, mind you, but so that they could warm the glasses of red wine in their hands.
5) The collaboration with Mike and Rose Fiore in Maryland, to form the original Mason-Dixon Wine Trail.
6) The near-mythical 1980’s-era strawberry wine (a tiny batch yielding 270 bottles) which gummed up the press and was made exactly one time, but was requested by customers over and over and over through the years.
7) Gifted winemaker Tom Burns (now at Boordy), gaining his winery legs at early Allegro.
8) Those horrible eyesore cast-off military trailers in which John, Tim, and Marguerite Crouch lived until the day their new house up the hill was finished and they just walked out—those trailers were memorably the first things customers would see when they warily approached the winery.
9) Carl hearing Tim Crouch speak (not too long before his passing, in 2000) at a vineyard conference, hearing him say he wished Allegro had been planted totally in Cabernet Sauvignon.
10) Carl and Kris walking through the winery with John for the first time in May of 2001, and then out into the vineyard, Carl wearing tiny son Carl in a backpack carrier.
11) Pandemic spring (2020), when Allegro produced hand sanitizer (from purchased spirits) for friends, family, and staff.
12) John’s beloved Westie Dudley passing away within hours of his owner, in March of 2003.
13) The summer of 2020, when a pair of great horned owls made nightly prowls across the vineyards.
14) Carl’s two decades of collaborations with winegrower Nelson Stewart, who retired from Allegro this past March.
15) John Crouch coming to Allegro @ the ripe age of 31; Carl doing the same.
16) The year the Helrich guys discovered Power Sledding, pulled on sleds behind the Allegro pick-up truck as it plowed through piles of snow. Ah, wintertime in The Brogue…
17) The spring of 2011, when mama cat abandoned a tiny kitten at our doorstep, she who would become fierce Artemis, huntress of the estate, the reason we have “Beware of Cat” and “No, Seriously” signs at the winery in Brogue.
18) John’s brilliant move of leaving Tim to talk with annoying tasting room customers, with the line: “I’ve got a pump running in the back.”
19) Carl and Kris’s son Dylan being born on his actual due-date (which never happens), which just so happened to be about an hour before a Chef Series dinner at the winery. Cheers to Carl’s brother Dave for hosting in their stead, and to Carl for not taking the bait when Kris, holding the brand-new vintage kid, told him, “You could still go…”
20) Son Carl completing his high school science fair project by measuring the relative sweetness (ripening) of grapes at the tops and bottoms of clusters.
21) Carl and Kris inheriting John and Tim’s wonderful friendships with Allegro’s volunteers—including Gotwalts, Deyarmins, Alexanders, Kohlers, Pam!—, chefs—Richard, Kevin, Ed, Wade!—, friends, and customers.
22) September, 2020, when a photo of Carl and Kris in the vineyard appeared for a moment on a Times Square billboard as part of Farm Aid’s virtual celebration of farm families.
23) Kris handing infant Dylan to Carl in March of 2003, because well-known Wine Spectator author James (“call me Jim”) Laube was calling from California and wanted to talk with her about the legacy of John Crouch and Allegro.
24) The day (Black Friday, 2006) Allegro hired Brenda! The day Allegro hired Ray! and Steve! and Emery! and Dwayne! and Darcy! And and and… (We’ve really had, and have, an incredible group of employees.)
25) The friendship and good advice of Mark Chien (former PSU viticulture extension agent) through many vintages.
26) Finalizing the purchase of the property of Naylor Wine Cellars with Janie Potter in February of 2020, mere days before the pandemic shook all parts of the industry and our world.
27) Friends Lesley Long Ward and Bill Ward, who got married during a rainstorm in September of 2003 and who have returned every year since for their anniversary picnic!
28) That time in the fall of 2002 when birds ate nearly every grape of Allegro Chardonnay in the vineyards…over the course of just. one. day.
29) The establishment of the Allegro Wine Club in 2014 and the Cadenza Wine Club in 2019. We’re so appreciative of our 750+ members!
30) The time at the Split Rock wine festival when Allegro helped push the Chaddsford truck out of six inches of mud.
31) John frequently tasting wine during bottling, under the guise of “checking for SO2 levels.”
32) The years (2005-2008) when our then-holiday stand in York’s Galleria Mall almost sustained stampedes when we temporarily ran out of sweet red wine Harmony. (It may happen again this year with Apple Caramel…)
33) Turning Allegro’s Brogue winery deck into an impromptu dance floor, spurred by The Bayou Bandits during Prudhomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen seafood boil feasts.
34) Kris’s dad Doug Miller endlessly mowing and mowing and mowing the Brogue property over the years. (Now it's Dylan's turn...)
35) Our walls of wine competition awards and merits, proudly displayed in the Brogue winery…um, bathroom.
36) The planting of what vineyard consultant Lucie Morton called our “Heritage Vineyard,” vinifera red grapes destined for our Cadenza estate-grown wines, in Brogue in 2015.
37) That time John told noted wine critic Robert Parker (humorously, though not received thus), when asked what pressure he'd applied to the red vinifera grapes on the crush pad, that "I pressed the living shit out of them, Bob."
38) Carl’s winemaking collaborations with fellow PA winery owners Brad Knapp (Pinnacle Ridge) and Joanne Levengood (Manatawny Creek) through the years, with many enlightening barrel tastings and three “Trio” co-blends.
39) Cadenza years: The best winegrowing vintages, made into Allegro’s flagship wines. Roll call: 1984, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2013, 2017! And, in 2016, Cadenza grew into its own label of Allegro’s best Brogue vineyards estate-grown wines.
40) Yeah, we love it, too—our box truck, and its cheeky viral message, penned by Emery. All together now: “IN CASE OF ACCIDENT: Bring Cheese and Crackers. Lots and Lots of Cheese and Crackers.”
Carl and I have felt so fortunate to have been Allegro’s stewards for just over half of its 40 years, and deeply appreciate all who have been a part of our shared history. Cheers to many vintages more!