April 2009 Archives

More Thoughts on Earth Month

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By Robert Farmer

Yes, it's a big job. But somebody's gotta do it. Well, more precisely, we all gotta do it--or at least we all should be doing our part to preserve Mother Earth.  This month's ongoing theme of environmental stewardship brings to mind all the many and various ways we impact our surrounding environment.

Because one my favorite things to is to drink wine, I increasingly find myself considering what that means in terms of my so-called "footprint"--carbon or otherwise. With every empty bottle I send to the recycling bin, I think about what it took to get that bottle into my home, and what it will take to get it from my bin to its next incarnation.

Thoughts on Earth Month

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By Robert Farmer

As is in fashion more commonly these days, the month of April is referred to as Earth Month. Holding as it does the 30-year-old celebration and awareness-event known as Earth Day, the entire month has now expanded to absorb the concept. But as most stewards of the environment--self proclaimed and otherwise--will tell you, we need far more than a month to keep us reminded of the significance. Indeed a Day is as insufficient the way a bottle of wine falls short of supplying a holiday party.

And speaking of wine, it's also popular in the industry for wineries to promote their "green" credientials--especially at this time of year. However, the walk has proved much harder to walk than the talk is to talk. So it happens that at this time of year, the wine industry looks inward on itself to figure out just exactly how it as a whole can be better environmental custodians.

Wine Country Personality: Rodney Strong

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RStrongHIGHRES.jpgFifty years ago, Rodney Strong started a winery that would ultimately become his namesake Rodney Strong Vineyards, in the northern Sonoma County town of Healdsburg.  It didn't start out that way, first blending wines and selling them with his wife, Charlotte from their home next to the Tiburon yacht club.  Their first wine was actually labeled Tiburon Vintners.

They did move here, though, and Rod became a significant influence in Sonoma County's budding wine industry in the 1960s and 1970s.  It's a fact, as dancer in his younger years, attending the School of American Ballet in New York and traveling to France to dance at the Lido, that neither he or anyone else would have predicted.  When he arrived in the county, the name changed to Windsor Vineyards, then to Sonoma Vineyards and eventually to Rodney Strong Vineyards in 1982.  Along the way, Rod was one of the first to plant pinot noir in Russian River Valley, the first to produce and release a Chalk Hill chardonnay and the first make a single vineyard cabernet in Sonoma County from Alexander's Crown in Alexander Valley

Temecula Just Says No to Drunks

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By Courtney Cochran

In a novel move for a wine region, So Cal's Temecula Valley lately initiated a program seeking to curb the disruptive antics of overly inebriated visitors to valley wineries. Citing incidents such as impromptu bachelor parties - replete with the likes of booze-emboldened revelers and raunchy blow up dolls - that often spill into tasting rooms (making ordinary sipping more than a little uncomfortable for better behaved visitors), the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association put the program into place last November.

How Local Was My Pinot

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pinotgris.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

As the locavore movement gains speed and strength, it seems only natural its philosophy would make its way to the wine world. Enter Kevin Kelley, founder of Natural Process Alliance , an organization dedicated to producing wines with minimal waste and additives - and then distributing them solely within a 100-mile radius of his Santa Rosa winery. Sound kooky? I think it's anything but.

Wine Country Itinerary: Monterey Part 2

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Wine-ing Down One Side and Coasting Up the Other

Here's a quick overview of a few of the tasting rooms located off the 101 corridor and west toward the Peninsula off of Highway 1 and around Carmel Valley Village. It is too big of an area to squeeze into one day. Wine tasting is best done by selecting four to six places to visit; allowing time to become acquainted with the wine, and making sure you learn a thing or two (and of course bring home a few bottles your new discoveries). Plan your itinerary based upon a varietal, similar terroir, winemaking styles, or even just appeal.

By Courtney Cochran

Come April 22nd, enviro-friendly oenophiles will have ample opportunity to celebrate Earth Day among the vines. Read on for our top picks for where to go green in wine country on this feel-good holiday.

Green Valley
What better place to fête this fabulous day than in Green Valley!? To wit, Iron Horse Vineyards and several of its Sonoma County neighbors will host "Celebrate Earth Day In Green Valley" a few days early on Sunday, April 19th. Highlights of what to see and do at various stops include a sparkling wine and salt tasting at Iron Horse; biodynamic vineyard tours and sustainable fashions created from recycled wine packaging at DeLoach Vineyards; and docent led tours of the Laguna de Santa Rosa, Sonoma's richest wildlife preserve, starting from Dutton-Goldfield and Balletto Vineyards' joint tasting Green Valley room. Get the scoop here .
Seasons Tasting Bar and Boutique.jpgHEALDSBURG, CA, April 14, 2009 -Don and Rhonda Carano of Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery and Lazy Creek Vineyards, announce the opening of their new tasting room on the Healdsburg Plaza, Seasons of the Vineyard Tasting Bar & Boutique. Seasons of the Vineyard, which originally opened in 2000 as a popular wine country home décor boutique, closed for renovations in January, 2009. Re-opening on April 20, 2009, Seasons of the Vineyard reflects the wine country lifestyle, offering, for the first time ever, hand-picked wine tasting flights and food pairings of Ferrari-Carano, PreVail and Lazy Creek Vineyards wines, as well as unique home décor and gifts.

Located on the quaint and stylish, tree-lined Healdsburg Plaza in northern Sonoma County, Seasons of the Vineyard has been completely renovated to accommodate a relaxed, sit-down wine tasting experience. Highlights of the remodeled interior include a 20-foot tasting bar with a Vettrazo Amber sustainable countertop made from used bottles and old windows, a one-of-a-kind rod iron chandelier with hanging, lit Italian glass wine jugs that suspends over the tasting bar, newly-exposed floor-to-ceiling brick walls, and a beautiful, original tin ceiling of the restored building, circa 1833.
richard barrel room cropped.jpgWinemaster Richard Arrowood
Born in San Francisco and raised in Santa Rosa, California, Richard started his winemaking career in 1965 at Korbel Champagne Cellars, after earning a degree in organic chemistry at California State University, Sacramento and completing graduate work in enology at California State University, Fresno.  From Korbel he moved on, first to United Vintners, the Sonoma Vineyards, and in 1974 was chosen by the founders of Chateau St. Jean Winery to become the first employee as Winemaster, and eventually, executive vice president.  Chateau St. Jean wines quickly received critical acclaim and Richard gained a worldwide reputation for producing superb wines, 

In April, 1990, after sixteen years with Chateau St. Jean, Richard once again moved on--to devote himself full-time to Arrowood Vineyards & Winery.  It is here that Richard has been able to achieve his goal of producing wines of singular, exceptional quality, without compromise.

His original plan was to produce reserve quality Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon only; however, Richard's drive and passion for making wine left him unable to resist working with unusual varietals and what he considered to be exceptional fruit.  The Arrowood portfolio has expanded to include limited quantities of Merlot, Viognier, Pinot Blanc, Late Harvest wines, Malbec, Syrah, Gewürztraminer, La Rose, and a few special reserve wines.

Aroma and Tasting Guide: Reds

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by Courtney Cochran

Grape Variety

Common Aromas

Common Flavors

Pinot Noir

Light ruby with brown or pink rim

Red fruits: cherry, strawberry

Also: vanilla, caramel, smoke, earth, leather, game, spice, tobacco

Red fruits: cherry, strawberry

Also: vanilla, caramel, smoke, earth, game, spice, pomegranate

Merlot

Medium ruby with pink tones

Red fruits: plum, cherry, strawberry

Also: chocolate, vanilla, cream, coffee, herbs, tea leaves

Red fruits: plum, cherry, strawberry

Also: chocolate, vanilla, cream, coffee, herbs

Cabernet Sauvignon

Deep ruby

 

 

Red/dark fruits: raspberry, cranberry, cherry, blackcurrants

Also: spearmint, pencil shavings, cedar, oak, coffee, tobacco, dust

Red/dark fruits: raspberry, cranberry, cherry, blackcurrants

Also: spearmint, coffee, licorice, bell pepper, tobacco

Syrah/Shiraz

Deep cherry with pink rim

 

Red fruits: stewed plum

Also: pepper, licorice, spice, earth, jam, deli meats, tar, smoke

Red fruits: stewed plum  

Also: pepper, licorice, spice, jam, deli meats

Nebbiolo (Barolo & Barbaresco)

Medium brick with brown rim

Red fruits: strawberry, jam

Also: tobacco, smoke, tea leaves, coffee, tar, eucalyptus, anise, floral

Red fruits: strawberry, jam

Also: tobacco, smoke, coffee, anise, mint

 

Zinfandel

Ruby to brick

(color varies)

 

Red/dark fruits: jammy blackberry and raspberry, cherry, plum

Also: tar, pepper, spice, herbs, licorice, cinnamon

Red/dark fruits: jammy blackberry and raspberry, cherry, plum

Also: pepper, spice, herbs, licorice, cinnamon

Aroma and Tasting Guide: Whites

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by Courtney Cochran

Grape Variety

Common Aromas

Common Flavors

Sauvignon Blanc

Pale yellow with green tinge

Citrus fruits: grapefruit, lemon, lime  

Greenness: freshly cut grass, honeysuckle, rainforest *FRESH*

Minerality: slate, wet pavement

Citrus fruits: grapefruit, lemon, lime

Greenness: tomato, herbs

Also:   mineral, smoke (if oaked), sometimes melon and passion fruit

Riesling

Very pale yellow, nearly translucent

 

Citrus fruits: candied lemon

Stone fruits: apricot, peach

Tropical fruits: banana, pineapple

Also: mineral, slate, petrol, melon

Citrus fruits: candied lemon

Stone fruits: apricot, peach

Tropical fruits: banana, pineapple

Also: mineral, melon, honey

Chardonnay

Medium straw

 

Pome fruits: apple (green or red)

Tropical fruits: banana, pineapple

Also: vanilla, butter, cream, baking spices, lemon or lime, toast, oak

Pome fruits: apple (green or red)

Tropical fruits: banana, pineapple

Also: vanilla, butter, cream, baking spices, citrus fruit, toast

Gewurztraminer

Golden peach

 

Pome fruits: quince, pear

Stone fruits: apricot, peach

Also: rose water, lychee, spice, rose, flowers, melon, lemon rind

Pome fruits: quince, pear

Stone fruits: apricot, peach

Also: lychee, spice, honey, baking spices, melon

Viognier

Deep gold

Stone fruits: white peach, apricot

Also: flower blossoms, baking spices, caramel, cream, toast

Stone fruits: white peach, apricot

Also: baking spices, caramel, cream, toast

High Note: Singer Sting to Make Wine

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sting.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

On the heels of rockers like The Rolling Stones, Madonna, KISS and Pink Floyd, British singer Sting will soon begin marketing a red wine made from grapes grown on his sprawling Tuscan estate, a 16th century villa known as Il Palagio. And with a projected initial run of some 2,500 cases, Sting's wine is shaping up to be a small-production but surely sought-after product.

Sideways Gets A Second Chance - In Japan

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sideways_450x300.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Japan, it seems, has an insatiable appetite for vinous entertainment.  Indeed, wine sales in the tiny island country are on the up, a fact fueling the production of novel wine narratives such as comic-book sensation "Kami no Shizuku" (AKA "The Drops of God," about a heroic journey to find the best wines in the world) - as well as not-so-novel narratives like the soon-to-be-released Japanese remake of the Academy Award-winning, American film Sideways, also slated to be called...Sideways.

Winemaker Ralf Holdenried

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Ralf Holdenried holding grapes.jpgWhen winemaker Ralf Holdenried was invited to craft William Hill Estate's wines in the summer 2007, it was an offer he couldn't refuse.

Ralf says, "The William Hill Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon are classically styled Napa Valley wines."

Ralf acknowledges that William Hill Estate has a history of making world class wine from grapes grown in the prestigious Napa Valley.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for me to carry on an exceptional winemaking tradition."

Ralf was born into a German wine family and throughout this childhood and adolescence worked in his father's vineyard. Ralf studied winemaking and viticulture at the University of Geisenheim, prior to leaving Germany to attend the University of California at Davis. In 1997, Ralf worked his first California harvest at Franciscan Winery in Napa Valley, and shortly thereafter joined the Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery's Sonoma County winemaking team. After returning to UC Davis to earn an MBA, Ralf joined the Louis M. Martini Winery winemaking team in Napa Valley as the winemaking director of Louis M. Martini's small lot wines.

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