August 2010 Archives

Napa Valley in a Bottle

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conncreek.jpgConn Creek's Barrel Blending Experience will teach you what each growing region has to offer.

By Ethan Fletcher

Tired of enjoying a nice Napa Cab and then forgetting everything about it the next time you want to buy a bottle?

You might want to check out Conn Creek's Barrel Blending Experience, a two-hour seminar that provides a unique introduction to Napa Valley's famed Cabernet Sauvignons. Best of all, you'll walk out with something a little harder to forget: your own bottle of custom-blended wine.

Falling somewhere between wine tasting, a history lesson, and a high school science lab, the blending experience shows off Napa Valley's unusually diverse wine-growing regions by letting you play winemaker. Inside its recently completed AVA Room, the Yountville winery has collected Cabernets from the region's 13 distinct subregions. The Cabs are lined up in barrels underneath posters that detail their unique regions, climates, and soil types. Wines are ordered according to their characteristics, starting with the three lightest varietals, which offer the softest tannins, and ending with the three boldest Cabs.

READ the rest of the article HERE!

2010 Mendocino Harvest Report

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By Courtney Cochran

With smoke-tainted 2008 vintage wines in circulation now, Mendocino winegrowers no doubt are keen on a strong harvest this season. Still, this hardy group from one of Nor Cal's most northerly wine regions is all too familiar with the vagaries of inclement weather - not to mention so-called acts of god (hello, fires!) - which means they're used to holding their breaths come near-harvest-time.  

I caught up with standout Mendo vintner Paul Dolan of Paul Dolan Vineyards to get his take on what's in store for Mendo wines in 2010.


Hot 10 Under $20: Sonoma Summer Sips

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By Courtney Cochran

Funny things happen to people when the thermometer inches up (according to the FBI, crime rates rise 10% nationally during the summer months).  And this summer - which is tracking to be the nation's hottest on record - will be no cup of tea.  Which is why, amidst all the hoopla about the heat and the stress from the heat itself, there's nothing quite like a glass of chilled white or rosé to take the edge off of it all.

Whether the weather where you are is scorching (hello, much of inland California!), simply warm, or something in between, we've got ten summer-ready Sonoma wine reco's that are guaranteed to cool you down.


Napa Grapegrowers Cautiously Optimistic About 2010

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vineyard2.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

Despite the doom and gloom forecasts circulating about the 2010 vintage, the Napa Valley Grapegrowers think this year's cool summer doesn't necessarily mean disaster, or even a difficult vintage.  At an August 18th press conference held at Beckstoffer Vineyards' historic Georges III vineyard in Rutherford, the growers discussed their hopes and fears for the harvest this year.  The consensus: it's still too early to call.

Harvest dates vary depending on the grape varietal and location, but typically occur in mid-to-late October for red grapes like cabernet sauvignon.  With harvest still two and a half months away, no one knows how this vintage will turn out.  

When Wine Is Not Enough...

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By Deirdre Bourdet

I love wine. But sometimes only a beer will do.  Here are a few places to slake your beerish thirst around wine country and not feel like a heathen for ordering the pint.

Oxbow Wine Merchants.  Despite the name, the Wine Merchants are much beloved by locals for their draft beer selection, excellent back deck, and televised sports inside in the air conditioning.  Tuesday locals' nights and weekend happy hours from 2-5pm bring the already affordable brews to the very quaffable $3.50 range.  Don't miss the watermelon beer from 21st Amendment... not sweet, not fruity, just really refreshing--and it's got something in it that might be good for you.

Wine Sampling's Small (Read: Big) Idea

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home_hero_2.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

It seems obvious to eco-conscious winos that wine packaging should be shrinking, but until lately that idea has been little more than just a soupçon of wishful thinking.  But Nor Cal's TastingRoom.com is turning that hunch into reality, thanks to the company's innovative new line of 50mL bottles (compare to a standard wine bottle's 750mL) that allows consumers to taste tiny amounts of wines from a growing roster of winery partners.

Taste Mendocino Wines

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wineTasting.jpgLooking for some great tasting wines from the Mendocino wine region? Check out the latest winners of the recent 34th Annual Mendocino Wine Competition There were 194 entries in 20 categories representing all 12 growing regions in the county.

Five wines were awarded double gold medals:
  • Yorkville Cellars 2009 LH Semillon
  • Yorkville Cellars 2009 Sweet Malbec
  • Bonterra Vineyards 2009 Riesling
  • Navarro Vineyards 2009 Muscat Blanc
  • Harmonique 2006 Pinot Noir


Since Mendocino is known as "America's Greenest Wine Region", it's only fitting that wineries compete for the "green" award as well. Two wineries tied for first place for this coveted award:
  • Husch Vineyards ~ Sauvignon Blanc ~ 2009 La Ribera
  • Handley Cellars ~ Pinot Noir Rose ~ 2009 AV Estate
For a complete list of winners, visit www.truemendocinowine.com. You can taste these winning wines at the upcoming Mendocino County Fair in Boonville on Saturday, September 18, 2010. Or you can plan your next wine tasting trip to Mendocino Wine Country

Harvest Report 2010: Cold Times

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grapes.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Looking at the weather forecast for Napa and Sonoma, one might think we're approaching winter.  In fact, with crisp, overcast days the norm in Wine Country these past weeks, industry pundits are speculating as to whether 2010 will be the best or the worst harvest in years. Best because cool weather usually leads to slow, even ripening (which occurs in many "fringe" vineyards in Europe and Oregon), and worst because of the potential for early autumn rains that could ruin a crop left on the vine longer than usual to achieve ripeness. 

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