WineCountry Staff: December 2010 Archives

Wine Country Personality: Steve MacRostie

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steve.jpgSteve MacRostie of MacRostie Vineyards

Since beginning his winemaking career almost 35 years ago, Steve MacRostie has developed a reputation as one of California's most respected veteran winemakers. At the same time he has helped to pioneer the use of fruit from both Carneros and the Sonoma Coast. As the founder and original winemaker for MacRostie Winery and Vineyards, Steve has earned wide acclaim for crafting balanced wines, with an emphasis on Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs.

A native Californian, Steve was born in Pasadena and raised in Sacramento. In the process of preparing for medical school, he earned a degree in biology from Washington's Whitman College in 1968. Following his time at Whitman, Steve served in the U.S. Army, which trained him as a cryptographer and deployed him to Vicenza in the Veneto region of Italy. While in Europe, Steve took advantage of the opportunity to travel to France, Germany and Spain. European wines were an epiphany for him - far surpassing the few American wines he had tasted - and he quickly fell in love with wine, and the idea of winemaking.

Top Wine Stories of 2010

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By Courtney Cochran

Silly prices for Lafite in China.  A wine ed gone maverick (and getting majorly trashed in the media). A schizophrenic harvest.  Stellar new apps on the market.  Cow horns getting cool...What didn't happen in 2010?  Looking back, it was a year of flux, with major trends and market shares shifting around the globe, consumer attitudes skewing from snobbery to self-orientation, and raucous weather keeping things interesting right here in our own backyard.  Herein, highlights. 

Hectic Harvest
Without a doubt, the happening that generated the most press here in the US was the year's wild grape harvest.  From coast to coast, unnaturally cool weather pushed harvest weeks behind schedule.  Along the way, clusters were blasted by errant heat spikes (resulting in serious sunburn) and late season rains pummeled fruit left on the vine into the fall.  We can't help but point to climate change for the continued wild ride that's become harvest; this year was the wildest in memory.

Tasting Value

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winetoast.jpgA master sommelier offers tips for picking out delicious Napa Valley wines at bargain prices.

by Kathryn Jessup

Napa Valley's reputation for monster Cabs, at equally monstrous prices, can be disheartening for wine lovers. Where's the zest of the winemaker and the joy of the drinker amid the market pressures of Screaming Eagle and Scarecrow? An alternative can be found at Meadowood, where master sommelier Gilles de Chambure offers Napa Valley's Hidden Values, a one-hour lecture and wine tasting. De Chambure agreed to share his cheat sheet, usually only available to guests..


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Give Back This Holiday Season

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girlGivingBackHolidays.jpgThe holiday spirit of goodwill begins with you. This year, give a gift that's truly needed. We promise, your generosity will be as rewarding to give as it is to receive. See our wine country neighbors dedicated in helping you help others.


WINES NO LONGER AVAILABLE - MyWinesDirect.com - Victories Wine Collection
Peggy Fleming is not just an ice-skater. Read about her battle with breast cancer, the brith of Fleming-Jenkins Winery and how purchasing her Victorious Wine collection will benefit breast cancer research.

St Francis Winery & Vineyards & Vineyard Vines - Whale of a Chardonnay
Each bottle from the limited-run comes in a specially designed vineyard vines wine tote for $45 with $15 going directly to one of the winery's favorite causes, Waterkeeper Alliance.  This 100% Sonoma County Chardonnay is a classic Sonoma expression of the varietal, displaying overt tropical fruit and apple flavors, rich toasty oak notes and a crisp, supple finish. CLICK HERE to purchase.

Gallo Family Vineyards - Every Cork Counts
Gallo started a campaign at the beginning of November that benefits the organization Meals on Wheels which helps feed Americans in need. Mail a cork from any of the company's wines and Gallo Family Vineyards will donate $5 to help fight hunger. Last cork count was at 2,057. Let's see if we can't all boost that number higher. CLICK HERE for more details

Celadon Restaurant - Holiday Corkage
In support of Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford, if you bring in a new, unwrapped toy of at least $15 value, Celedon will waive the corkage fee on one bottle of wine. Start loading up the cars with toys, this ends Dec 23rd. (Celadon is located in downtown Napa along the riverfront - CLICK HERE to make reservations)

Christmas Dinner with Kenwood Vineyards

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thanksgivingwine.jpgA Wine Guide

Christmas will soon be here and - as always - Christmas dinner will be a highlight of the day. Whether your tradition is a casual buffet or a sit-down feast, selecting and serving wines to complement Christmas dinner need not be daunting. A bit of guidance and your own good taste will lead you to wines sure to make the meal memorable.

First, relax. Picking wines to accompany a meal - even Christmas dinner - is a straightforward process. Take comfort in knowing that terrific wines to go with your Christmas dinner are available in every price range and the most satisfying matches often can be found among popular, well priced labels like Kenwood Vineyards.




Block Party

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blockparty_HERO.jpgWhat's the latest craze in the wine world? Boxed wine! It's back and its better than ever. Throw out your old expectations of boxed wines and think inside the box. For your next party or to send as a wine gift the Block Party Chardonnay and Cabernet duo delivers on taste, value and convenience. Great as a wine gift for the hostess or to send across the country to family and friends too.

Read on for Block Party's great benefits:

Guide to Giving Wine

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White_Christmas_MWD.jpgWine, either presented as a single bottle, as an assortment of wines or in a wine gift basket is a great gift choice that anyone can use and really enjoy. Whether  bringing wine for the dinner party host, as a business gift, appreciation of friends and professionals, a wine gift is usable and thoughtful. Now how do you choose what to get? You can shop by gift type or shop by recipient to help you narrow it down.

SHOP BY GIFT TYPE

Wine Gift Assortments
Wine packs make excellent gifts. You can consider a pre-selected assortment of wines or choose wines by the bottle to create your own customized collection of wines. Consider the foods that your loved one enjoys and you can start to get a sense of the types of wines they might enjoy. A general rule of thumb, lighter wines pair better with lighter foods, heavier wines, heavier foods.

2010 Wine Harvest: Schizophrenic & Still Uncertain

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By Courtney Cochran

Depending on who you talk to, the 2010 harvest in wine country was anything from incredible to downright awful. Why such a disparity?  The year was, in the truest sense of the word, a rollercoaster of a vintage, one in which an unseasonably cool summer prefaced unruly late season rains, with a smattering of unexpected events further complicating matters in between (think sporadic triple-digit heat spikes).  The result was a harvest that fell two to four weeks behind schedule - leaving many a winemaker biting his nails in anticipation of when things might kick into gear - and culminated in a mad dash to harvest when things warmed up and rains loomed.  Amidst all this mayhem, some winegrowers came out on top, while others were just unlucky.    

Here's a closer look at the factors that drove this year's wacky harvest and the circumstances that led some to come out on top while others were left wishing that 2010 had never happened.

Holiday Entertaining

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mwdHolidayTable.jpgHoliday wine and food pairing can be tough. Figuring out which wines to pair with such a wide assortment of foods is a challenge for even the most experienced chef and the thought of entertaining on top of everything makes is stressful! Here are a few guidelines to follow to ensure your food and wine pairings are easy and fun:

Main Dish
For the white wine lover, a soft Chardonnay is a great accompaniment to poultry and an assortment of sides. Even a Riesling or Pinot Grigio could work. The minerality and apple-citrus notes common to Pinot Grigio match well with rich holiday foods. Also, while many assume white wine is the ideal poultry pairing, Pinot Noir's fruity character and lack of tannins are ideal for serving with turkey. It's vibrant and fruity character is sure to please red wine drinkers too.

If you end up serving an elegant roast meat at your holiday dinner, select a bolder red wine, like a Meritage, to match the stronger flavors of the meat.

Side DismwdRedWineGlasses.jpghes
Any of these earlier wine pairing suggestions will also work well with the myriad of rich side dishes that often accompany the main course. To complement the spices and flavors try a delightful Syrah-Malbec. This lighter red, with its own notes of spices and earthiness, will stand up well to any dish, from sweet potato mash to creamed pearl onions.

Crab & Wine Days Ahead In Mendocino

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crabnwine.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

I'd choose crab and wine over roses and song pretty much any day of the week.  Unfortunately, the highly acclaimed "Crab & Wine Days" festival in Mendocino County only happens once a year--at the cold, wintry peak of local Dungeness crab season.  But what better excuse do you need for a winter getaway than the promise of days and days of crustacean revelry and local wines, hosted by California's greenest wine country region?

Those heady Crab & Wine Days will take place January 21st through 30th, 2011, at a variety of locations around Mendocino County.  Events range from classic crab feed fundraisers for local community groups to crab-themed cooking demonstrations, wine dinners, and open house winery tastings celebrating wines that pair with the crabby festival hero.  And because this is Mendocino, everything comes at a very affordable price.

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