July 2008 Archives

Wine Country Itinerary: Dry Creek Valley

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By Courtney Cochran

Tucked into the northwest corner of bucolic Sonoma County - and just a few minutes' drive from downtown Healdsburg - Dry Creek Valley tempts visitors with an eclectic mix of wineries and a surprisingly varied mix of wines to try.  To wit, lovers of big, jammy Zins will be in heaven in this slice of wine country known as ground zero for California Zinfandel, while tasters looking for something lighter will delight in the region's rightly reputable Sauvignon Blancs, which lend welcome levity to the palate after a steady onslaught of the full-throttle Zins, Merlots and that Cabs that also call the valley home.  
By Robert Farmer

As summer ends it final month, and the dog days bark in with a lazy yowl, wine country begins to take on a particular texture. The heat, in the long afternoons of blazing sun, works on the vines, producing the big push toward complete ripeness in the fruit. It also works on visitors, pushing them toward cool bodies of water and stretches of time filled with do-nothing schedules and refreshing sips of chilled chardonnay.

Though the famous valleys are still packed with wine-appreciating visitors, still other regions are enjoying a less populated pace. For my money, one of the best escapes is above the valley floor, and into the foothills of the Sierra.

Dog Friendly Wineries in Napa Valley

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dog.jpgDon't leave your best pal at home this summer. They want to have fun too! Besides, who can resist that hopeful, then sad look they give you everytime you walk out the door...without them. There are a host of wineries in Napa Valley that are more than happy to welcome your dog with open arms.

Napa Vintners provides a list of dog friendly wineries:
www.napavintners.com/wineries/dog_friendly.asp

Or if you just are dog lover/wine lover, then the following websites may interest you:

Dog Lover Wine Club
www.dogloverswineclub.com/

Dog Winery Labels
www.critterwines.com/Dog.asp

Your Dog Immortalized on a Wine Label!
www.friendlydogwinery.com/labels.htm

Dog Gone Wine!
www.doggonewine.com

But of there are dog friendly wineries everywhere. Let us know which winery (include wine region) is your favorite place to take your dog!

Wine-based cocktails

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By Robert Farmer

There are those among us for whom the thought of a wine-based cocktail is tantamount to heresy. Yes, I am firmly in that camp. Not since I sipped a peach-flavored Bartles & James wine cooler through a straw (only once, I swear!) have I even considered the relative merits of the wine cocktail. Sangria shot to the mouth from the spout of a bota bag notwithstanding, my current stance is that if somebody's making wine-based cocktails, it's probably because the establishment in which they are making them has not yet received its liquor license.

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Temecula, California -- Outlaws hiding in the valley and surrounding mountains in Southern California's Temecula Valley always knew there "was gold in those hills" but it took up until July 10, 2008 for South Coast Winery to strike gold and in a big way.

That is, the prestigious, bear-shaped Golden Bear Winery trophy from the 150+ year old California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition went to South Coast Winery as the winery for fielding the greatest number of award-winning wines in the 2008 annual fair competition. This 10-pound prized trophy is the symbol of California and adds the little known wine region to the Hall of Wine Producing Fame.

Dog Days of Summer

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By Robert Farmer
News of the economic crash-and-burn is everywhere you look these days. And as we enter the dog days of summer, it appears there is little water on the horizon for the thirsty canine that is the national economy. So in these times of belt-tightening and bean-counting, we turn to the simple pleasures in life to remind us that, as the saying goes, life must go on.

Wine is indeed one such pleasure.
  But what if wine could also be the answer to the problem, rather than simply a salve?

Wine Country Itinerary: Geyserville

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By Robert P. Farmer

With the many so-called "destinations" in California's Wine Country, it's easy for visitors to miss the forest for the trees. Traveling from one big-name spot to another, the itinerant wine taster regularly passes blissfully by unearthed gems that could make them richer for the experience.

One such gem is Geyserville, a small, unassumingly quiet town settled on the banks of the Russian River and shoehorned between the Dry Creek and Alexander valleys. That it happens to exist in one of the great American appellations (Alexander Valley) is a bonus not just for the winemakers who populate the area, but also for the wine aficionado who prefers a more relaxed pace with his world-class tasting experience.

Geyserville is still a small town, the kind of place that would make Andy Griffith feel right at home. But it is emerging as well, and with the recent acquisition and transformation of a local winery by Francis Ford Coppola (Rosso & Bianco, and the Francis Coppola Winery, formerly Chateau Souverain), the klieg lights on the town will only brighten. Yet a homespun appeal still prevails. And the wineries that flank Hwy 128 in the heart of the appellation continue to welcome guests with a familiar embrace and a selection of wines that rivals the best from anywhere.

Wine Country Itinerary: Mendocino

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By Robert P. Farmer
Of California's many options for wine-touring, few match Mendocino for its bucolic aesthetic and for the drama of its natural beauty. Meandering through the verdant hills, twisting along the highways and byways, visitors are presented with a protracted display of wooded hillsides and expansive grassy, sheep-dotted meadows. And stretching toward the coast, the terrain gets steeper, more mountainous, until finally giving way to the never-ending stretch of blue that is the Pacific Ocean.

Mendocino County is unique among California's wine regions for many reasons, not the least of which is its wines. The climate is rainier in these parts, and the moisture combines with rich volcanic Anderson Valley soil to produce outstanding Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays along side unexpected but equally capable Riesling and Gewürtztraminer. There are several great wineries to be discovered along Hwy. 101 in Mendocino County, and more flanking the state routes that serve as tributaries to the Highway.

Kunde: Wag-Worthy Winery

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sidephoto_susthike.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

For the second time this year, Kunde Estate Winery & Vineyards is going to the dogs. Well, going dog friendly, that is. Following on the heels of Kunde's sold-out canine-themed event in May, the family-run winery will offer a second dog-friendly hike on Saturday, October 18th. The three-mile trek through Kunde's sustainably farmed estate vineyards will cost participants $45 (the fee covers both person and dog) and conclude with wine, a gourmet wine country picnic and water tasting for the pets.
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Press Release: Kenwood, CA, --Following a sold out event in May, Kunde Estate has scheduled a second dog-friendly hike on Saturday, October 18th, 2008. The hike offers a chance for animal lovers to enjoy wine country with their dogs while raising funds for Canine Companions and the Humane Society & SPCA of Sonoma County (HSSC). Both non-profit organizations provide vital services to people and animals in the region.

October's Dog-Friendly Hike consists of a three mile trek through the Kunde family's 1,850 acre estate, led by fourth generation winegrower Jeff Kunde. The hike is $45 per person and dog and concludes with a wine country gourmet picnic and wine tasting, with treats and a "water tasting" for dogs.

By Courtney Cochran

Dubbed "the most underrated wine appellation in the world" by a certain influential wine publication, the immense Santa Cruz Mountains AVA is home to more than 50 wineries and just a stone's throw from the bustling communities of Silicon Valley.  In stark contrast to its busy neighboring hamlets, however, the region marches to its own distinctly mellow beat, and wineries are reached by winding backcountry roads lined with towering redwoods.  Read on for an itinerary embarking from Los Gatos, a postcard-perfect town at the base of the mountains' easterly slopes and just 20 minutes west of San Jose.

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