Carl and Nelson Stewart met on August 14, 2001, at a winegrower meeting at Seven Valleys Vineyard in Glen Rock, PA. (Carl remembers the specific date because it was our wedding anniversary (!).) They struck up an acquaintanceship which became a friendship, and--eventually--the partnership which would come to shape 14 of our 20 vintages (so far) at Allegro. Nelson's retirement on March 19th from his position as Allegro's vineyard manager marks the end of an era for us all.
Nelson's passion for grapegrowing has led him to collaborations with many regional wineries over the years, beginning with Elk Run in Maryland in 1988. He established his own vineyard near Stewartstown, PA, during the 1990s, and worked with other establishments including Karamoor Estate Winery in Fort Washington, PA.
Nelson's dedication to quality vinifera grapes made him a good fit with Carl; both hold high standards and appreciate European wine styles and winegrowing traditions. For several vintages Carl bought fruit grown from Nelson's vineyards, and in March of 2014 Nelson came to Allegro to become our first full-time vineyard manager.
Nelson's passion for music also made him a good fit for this place. He's an accomplished violinist who has played in symphony orchestras both in Baltimore and in Europe. No one who was at John Crouch's memorial in March of 2003 can forget Nelson's violin performance on that day. Allegro founders John and Tim Crouch were musicians themselves, as are many members of my own family--part of the reason why "Allegro" holds much meaning for all of us. How many other vineyard managers would fill his tractor cab with the sounds of a beloved Mahler symphony or opus by Heinrich Schütz? Nelson and my dad Doug Miller (retired PSU choral professor) shared many conversations about music, while standing out among the vines.
Nelson's cheffing skills are also legendary. He's the one that taught our younger son how to properly prepare a pork loin on the grill, and for several years he provided the meals to sustain our exhausted "away crews" at wine festivals around the state.
But of course, it's Nelson's winegrowing skills which we'll remember most--and, of course, the way he rocks a beret. Carl notes that Nelson is "one of the best grapegrowers the East Coast has had, and one of the few who pushed for quality grapes, even early on."
On Friday, March 19th, we gathered for a socially-distanced send-off for Nelson, upon his retirement from Allegro after these 7 vintages. We thank him for all the opportunities he made possible for us and for his dedication to our vines and wines. Cheers to you, Nelson! Cheers to you.