WineCountry Staff: March 2010 Archives

BIODYNAMIC Dynamos

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collage_over_image_page41_10_1[1].JPGBy Courtney Cochran

A recent San Francisco tasting of some of our nation's top Biodynamic® wines proved revelatory as potential for these much-buzzed-about quaffers goes.  Made from grapes grown in vineyards that are treated with special natural soil additions and farmed according to the lunar calendar (seriously), these wines are beginning to turn heads with their graceful fruit profiles and authentic transmission of terroir.  Read on for some of my favorite producers from the event, along with tasting highlights and recommendations.  

And for more on the practice of Biodynamic® farming - along with historical facts and philosophical considerations, such as the importance of biodiversity on farms - check out this useful site from the Demeter Biodynamic® Trade Association, organizers of the tasting.

Healdsburg Prohibition

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Phone booth, shop.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

The "Great Experiment" of Prohibition provided our nation with lots of valuable data about what Americans will do when legally deprived of something they love. It also left us with a scurrilous penchant for hidden bars with secret passwords, and places Joe sent you.  Ninety years after the 18th Amendment inspired the speakeasy, an enterprising bootlegger's grandson has opened a modern twist on his grandfather's original--named, naturally, Prohibition.

Richard and Kae Rosenberg of Healdsburg's boutique Grape Leaf Inn opened their speakeasy wine bar at the corner of Healdsburg Avenue and North Street after eleven years of offering guests a similar experience in the Inn's secret wine cellar.  To the uninitiated, Prohibition is an upscale retail establishment with interesting glassware, home accents, and wine-related accessories.  Locally hand-spun throws made of wool from local sheep, rolling decanters, Art Nouveau Prohibition T-shirts, and wine tumblers of all shapes and sizes vie for your attention in the warehouse-chic space.  Those in the know head for the antique telephone booth once their shopping is done, however--and not to approve a credit card charge.  Step into the booth, close the door, and lift the receiver... then push on through the secret door into the swanky bar that awaits.

Barrel Tasting In Yakima Valley- Who Knew?

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barreltasting.JPGIt may come to your surprise, but Spring Barrel Tasting is a celebratory time of year in Washington wine country. It's the largest wine festival in Washington's wine country, a celebration of spring, new wines and a peak at the warm summer months ahead. The winemakers and staff are on hand to mingle with visitors, conduct tours and answer questions. Most open a barrel or two of future vintages for sampling. Many wineries have live music, appetizers and just a festive mood of celebration.

Tasting straight from the barrel is needless to say, a unique experience that any wine lover should enjoy and appreciate. A recommended event to do this would be the Yakima Valley Spring Barrel Tasting taking place April 23-25, 2010. This event also includes cooking demonstrations, winemaker dinners, vineyard tours and education on pairing food and wine. Click here for more information on this not-to-be-missed event!
As the event grows and more wineries come on line, a little pre-planning helps to best enjoy the festivities. Here are a few tips to help make the celebration fun for all.

Wine Tasting-Discover Washington's Yakima Valley

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Vineyard with Mt.jpgThe best way to sample a variety of wine is to order a flight. The best way to soak up a balanced blend of viticultural experiences is to escape to Yakima Valley. This sunny region in Washington's wine country has warm inviting tasting rooms, premium wineries, picturesque vineyards and charming inns.

The Yakima Valley Appellation is Washington State's oldest and largest wine-growing region. 12,000 acres of grapes produce more than one-third of all Washington State wine. Yakima Valley is home to 70 wineries with 30 varietals, from Syrah to Sauvignon Blanc to Merlot to Mourvedre.

Attn Pinotphiles: La Paulée If You Please! (I Do)

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lepaulee3.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

For Pinot fans who aren't sufficiently "off" the variety as a result of the slew of recent "Pinotgate" allegations, there is an upcoming tasting in the Bay Area sure to satisfy your every Pinot fantasy.  Enter La Paulée de San Francisco, a now-annual wine and food bacchanal inspired by the namesake grand feast held each year in Burgundy at the conclusion of the harvest.  With a bevy of the best names in French Pinot and Chardonnay - not to mention a stellar lineup of star chefs and sommeliers - on the docket, this year's event looks to be something you won't want to miss.

Wine Tasting in Santa Ynez

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Sunstone Vineyards

Image by nicadlr via Flickr

by Robert P. Farmer

Sunstone Winery & Vineyards

With its picturesque setting overlooking the Santa Ynez River and mountainous backdrop, Sunstone feels like a bit of Provence in Santa Barbara County. The winery's reputation for big, beautiful reds doesn't hurt the illusion, either. The award-winning lineup of fully organic wines includes wonderful reserve Pinot Noir and Syrah.

The grounds feature sprawling picnic grounds and vine-covered walls. It's a slice of French Countryside life, without all the fussiness. The tasting room is welcoming and the unpretentious staff is eager to discuss the day's pouring, or the weather, or most anything at all.

Tasting fee: $10
Tasting room open daily: 10am-4pm
125 Refugio Road, Santa Ynez, CA
(805) 688-9463
www.sunstonewinery.com

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