Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Wining through the holidays...Christmas...

Christmas is always a bit problematic for me. For one thing, I'm Jewish, so the whole religious aspect is kind of lost on me. On the other hand, JD is not Jewish, so every year I ask him if he wants to decorate the house for the holidays, and every year, I get the 'look', so it's never necessary to do anything but display the holiday cards.

However, December 25th is my sister's birthday, and she LOVES everything about Christmas. Every year she decorates the whole house - multiple beautifully decorated trees, every David Winter cottage ever made, plus other cute cottage and village collections, plus, plus, plus. It's an ocean of cuteness.

Oh, and the Christmas/Birthday party. It used to be huge; my sis would invite every person she knew - family, friends, business associates. Most of Los Angeles, I think. As the years have gone by, the party has gotten smaller; now it's mainly family. And the family has gotten smaller, too.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wining through the holidays – Hanukkah…

Hanukkah, oh Hanukkah, come light the menorah.
Let's have a party, we'll all dance the horah.
Gather 'round the table, we'll give you a treat.
Dreidels to play with and latkes to eat.

And while we are playing, the candles are burning low.
One for each night, they shed a sweet light, to remind us of days long ago.
One for each night, they shed a sweet light, to remind us of days long ago.
-      Traditional lyrics

When I was growing up, celebrating Hanukkah, the Festival of the Lights, was fairly traditional. The family gathered for dinner – beef brisket accompanied by white potatoes and carrots, green beans, sesame seed rolls, lukshen (noodle) kugel, and, of course, latkes – potato pancakes – grated, oniony, fried pieces of heavenly goodness with a dollop of sour cream. It was a feast to celebrate the miracle of the oil; the small amount of lamp oil that lasted for eight nights after the Maccabees defeated the Seleucid Greeks. It wasn’t fancy or gourmet; it was comfort food.

Before dinner, the adults would sip cocktails and nosh on chopped chicken or beef liver and crackers. At the dinner table, we mostly drank water or soda, because my folks weren’t big drinkers, and they weren’t wine drinkers. If wine was needed for a barucha (blessing), there was Manischewitz Concord Grape. Insert shudder here.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Wining through the holidays…

It’s that time of year again. The “holidays”. You throw a party, or you go to a party. For a huge meal. It could be a traditional roast turkey, accompanied by stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Or it could be roast goose or duck, or a Honeybaked ham. Or (shudder) a turducken.

Regardless of what you, your friends and family choose to share, it’s going to be a big meal with a lot of different elements, so you’ll want to choose wines that will enhance and not conflict with the flavors found in your meal. You can play it safe and offer Chardonnay or Pinot Noir with your turkey, but how about trying something different to spice up your feast?

The Goddess of Wine tends to favor wines with good acidity to counter the fatty content of many of the tasty accompaniments to a hopefully moist and well-seasoned turkey. Oh, and I tend to lean more towards red wines, so here are some suggestions, all of which are locally available.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Key to Wine Country Returns to Santa Barbara

Exclusive wine and food weekend in Santa Barbara County December 5 - 7

BUELLTON, CA The Santa Barbara Vintners is pleased to announce the dates and schedule of experiences for its winter Key to Wine Country experience weekend December 5 - 7, 2014.  Three days of unlocking exclusive events and offerings at nearly forty wineries and vineyards throughout Santa Barbara’s scenic wine country makes for the perfect wine and food lover’s weekend.  Keys to unlock Santa Barbara’s wine country are valid for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and can be purchased online for $100 per person at www.sbkeytowinecountry.com.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Wining with Pere Ventura...

The Goddess of Wine was invited to lunch at Il Grano Ristorante Italiano for a special tasting of Pere Ventura Cava. Fourth-generation winemaker and proprietor Pere Ventura Vendrell charmed us as he told us his family history and led this intimate group of wine writers and retailers through the wine tasting.

Pere's family wine heritage dates back to the late 19th century when his great-grandfather, Manuel Montserrat Font, helped produce the first bottles of Spanish Cava made in the traditional French method. In the early 1900's, his grandfather, Pere Ventura Peracaula, was a distinguished enologist, acquiring knowledge and experience in Dijon and working in the most prestigious Champagne houses, including Moet, in order to bring modern production techniques to Penedes and establishing benchmark quality for Cava.

Pere's father, Jaume Ventura Montserrat, continued the family tradition, and encouraged his son to become part of the family business instead of following his vocation to the priesthood. Pere brings his deep spirituality and a strong sense of identity to his wines. Each bottle is sealed with a rendering of his handprint, symbolizing his personal guarantee. Salut!

Wining Miscellany...

The Goddess & JD
The Goddess of Wine hasn't been doing much writing lately. There's been so much going on, it's been overwhelming. So, here's a quick recap:

First, I left the earth job. Yep, retired several years earlier than originally planned. It's all Goddess of Wine now! A bit daunting, but wine gigs are coming in, so I know I can make it happen.

Second, because I now have time during the day, I've gone to wine events that I would have previously covered by proxy via JD. He's been at some of them, too, but he's been busy consulting at various places, so it's lucky I've been available.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wining with Wines of Naoussa at Faith and Flower...

Back in June, the Goddess of Wine and JD were invited to attend an intimate tasting of the Wines of Naoussa at the lovely Faith and Flower restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. From the invitation: Wines of Naoussa presents 13 wineries pouring their Xinomavro wines. Xinomavro is the main and noblest indigenous red grape varietal of northern Greece. Its name reveals its basic features: high in acidity (Xino - sour), and deep almost black in color (mavro - black) with powerful tannins. This combination of high acidity and phenolic richness results in wines with the possibility of aging for many years. Wines made from Xinomavro have a complex and unique aromatic character, composed of fruity and vegetal aromas of tomato and olive.

Domaine Porto Carras will present their portfolio of ancient and indigenous varietals including Malagouzia, Assyrtiko, and Limnio as well as their varietal blends including Melesanthi, Magnus Baccata, and Chateau Porto Carras.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Santa Barbara Vintners 24rd annual Celebration of Harvest Festival!

The Santa Barbara Vintners is pleased to announce the dates and schedule of events for the 24th Annual Celebration of Harvest Weekend October 10-13, 2014 in Santa Barbara Wine Country. The popular fall weekend celebrates the grape harvest when the nearly one hundred and fifty members of the association come together to share harvest tales and pour wine at the Festival Grand Tasting, participate in collaborative events like the new Friday night kick-off La Paulée dinner, and host individual tasting room open houses and vineyard walks. Tickets for the Festival and related events are on sale now at www.celebrationofharvest.com.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Wining by Proxy...Lunch with Aurelio Montes, Jr. of Montes & Kaiken Wines...

Occasionally, the Goddess of Wine can't make it to a wine event. Luckily, First Acolyte to the Goddess, JD, takes up the slack. Here's his latest report from the field:

Wine-tasting lunch with Aurelio Montes, Jr. of Montes and Kaiken Wines at Primitivo Wine Bistro, presented by Swords PR.

Primitivo is a quaint little restaurant in the laid-back beach town of Venice, CA. It is an assemblage, some of which may have been homes at one time. In spite of my long trudge across town, I was the first to arrive and could check out the place quietly while waiting.

The event began on their patio in back with a welcome wine of refreshing Sparkling Brut of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay made in traditional method accompanied by an assortment of delicious passed appetizers, including: croquetas with romesco sauce and a cheese, grape and more combination on crostini.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Wineaux of the Goddess - August Meeting - Rioja...

It was getting down to the wire and the Goddess of Wine had still not decided on a wine region to taste, so she thought, "Well, we haven't visited Spain in a while..." and chose Rioja. The group of tasters included First Acolyte JD (new Twitter handle @gowacolyteone), hostess-with-the-mostest Xochitl Maiman, Michelle McCue, Debra Bizek, and lovely-person-we-hadn't-seen-in-way-too-long, Amelia Yokel.

Rioja is a wine region, with Denominación de Origen Calificada (D.O.Ca. Qualified Designation of Origin) named after La Rioja, in Spain. Located south of the Cantabrian Mountains along the river Ebro, La Rioja has a continental climate enhanced by the mountains that help to isolate the region and create a moderating effect by protecting the vineyards from the intense winds that are typical of northern Spain. The region is also home to the Oja river (Rio Oja), for which the region was probably named. Most of the region is situated on a plateau, at about 1,500 feet above sea level. The area is subdivided into three regions - Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta and Rioja Baja. Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Alta, located closer to the mountains, are at slightly higher elevations and have a cooler climate. Rioja Baja to the southeast is drier and warmer.

Wining and whining with the #WBC14...

JD & The GoW at #WBC14 Opening
The Goddess of Wine and First Acolyte, JD, attended the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference in fabulous downtown Buellton. The weather was perfect, the Marriott Santa Ynez and Zephyr Adventures did a good job accommodating the large group of winos...ahem...bloggers, and people were enthusiastic, outgoing, and cheerful. Mostly. This was my first WBC and will probably be my last. The $95 fee for "Citizen Bloggers" is quite reasonable for what was generously provided, but I'm still wondering if the time spent was worth it - which is why it's taken me so long to write anything about it.

There has been a spate of postings from many bloggers about the conference. The "unsanctioned" events were better than the scheduled events. Or not. There wasn't enough diversity in the presenters. Some bloggers had the best time ever; some not so much. Some were unhappy about "not enough swag". So many opinions, so little discussion. I'm still torn about my experience.

JD and I were happy to meet folks whom we previously knew only online. We also love the region and spend a lot of time there, which may have been both good and bad in terms of what was being offered. A couple of the breakout groups we attended were excellent, especially those dealing with Ballard Canyon and local Syrahs. There were many other events which I found out about after they had occurred. How were some people in the know and others not?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Wineaux of the Goddess - July Meeting - Slovenia!

The Goddess of Wine and her insanely enthusiastic troupe of Wineaux aimed their sights at a small, but highly productive region: Slovenia! 

Slovenia is a country with a long history of winemaking, even longer than France, as the ancient Slovenians were much influenced by the ancient Celts in the centuries before the Common Era. A small country, bordering Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Croatia to the south and southeast, and Hungary to the northeast, it has both indigenous grapes as well as the grapes of the surrounding regions.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Getting ready to jump...with wine...

I've been stacking up drafts of posts lately. 

Haven't finished the write-ups of the Santa Barbara County Vintners' Key to the Wine Country, or the delicious Wines of Naoussa at Faith and Flower

Haven't put the finishing touches on the Wineaux of the Goddess July taste of Slovenian wines, and most of all, haven't put together my thoughts about the engrossing and exhausting 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference.

Usually I can crank out a weekly post, while balancing my day job and extracurricular activities, but I'm stuck right now.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Wineaux of the Goddess - June Meeting - Hungary!

The Goddess of Wine and her intrepid band of Wineaux continued on their quest of finding new wines with which to test their palates! The region for June: Hungary!

Hungarian wine has a history dating back to at least Roman times. Outside of Hungary, the best-known wines are the white dessert wine Tokaji and the red wine Bull's Blood of Eger (Egri Bikavér), but there are many more. This tasting barely scratched the surface. Tasters included First Acolyte JD, hostess Michelle McCue (who procured the wines and provided a delightful dinner!), Debra Bizek, Marya Glur, Xochitl Maiman, Barbara Barrielle, and the ubiquitous Shawn Shai Halahmy. All the wines were purchased from the Blue Danube Wine Company.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wining in Burbank with KCET and Vintage TV: Napa Valley 2012...

http://www.kcet.org/The Goddess of Wine and JD were invited to an intimate tasting at KCET headquarters in Burbank to meet three Napa winemakers who participated in Vintage: Napa Valley 2012, a six-part series airing nationally on public TV in the US. This series takes viewers behind-the-scenes at three Napa Valley wineries during the 2012 harvest season.

We were treated to a short "sizzle" segment of the series along with the lovely wines created by these exceptional winemakers, followed by a Q and A session. Interestingly, all three women came to wine via science, providing all of them enhanced perspectives on the science - and magic - of winemaking.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Santa Barbara Vintners Launches Key to Wine Country

Exclusive wine & food weekends in Santa Barbara Wine Country June 20-22 & December 6-8

BUELLTON, CA – The Santa Barbara Vintners is pleased to announce the dates and schedule of events for its new Key to Wine Country Experience Weekends June 20-22 and December 6-8, 2014.  These three day wine and food weekends throughout Santa Barbara Wine Country are a wine lover’s opportunity to unlock exclusive experiences and events at over thirty wineries and vineyards. The weekends are similar to passport programs, but more limited, exclusive, and hands-on. Keys are $100 per person per weekend and are limited to 500 sold. Complete details can be found at sbcountywines.com.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Wine with the LA Mission College Foundation 12th Annual Springfest!

LA Mission College Foundation 12th Annual Springfest Cuisines Around the
World Class Wines, Food, Music, & Entertainment

Los Angeles, California (15 May 2014) - Los Angeles Mission College Foundationannounced its 12th Annual Springfest Cuisines Around the World, a Food & Wine Festival Fundraiser, to be held Saturday, May 31 2014, from 2pm-6pm at their Culinary Arts Building. Led by Chef Jesse Sanchez, Culinary Instructor and Certified Executive Chef, the award winning Culinary Arts Institute will prepare internationally inspired dishes, and a decadent Pastry Pavilion filled with sumptuous confections.

“What’s inspiring the students this year, is their own global melting pot and the foods they love or even grew up with,” says Chef Jesse Sanchez, Culinary Instructor and Certified Executive Chef. “Los Angeles is a cultural center of the universe, and this will be reflected in the kinds of dishes created for this year’s Springfest Cuisines of the World.”

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Wining by Proxy...Le Grand Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux...

Once again, the Goddess was forced to labor at her earth job, so First Acolyte, JD, nobly stepped in to report on the Le Grand Cercle Des Vins De Bordeaux on April 7, 2014. Quelle fortitude! His report:

LEFT & RIGHT BANK GRAND TASTING at CASA DEL MAR in Santa Monica. Thirty eight “winemakers from the… Left and Right Banks of Bordeaux, treated Sommeliers, Wine Buyers and Wine Journalists to an exclusive unveiling of their most prized possessions, ranging from the 2013 “en primeur” vintage (“wine futures”) to… 2010 and 2011 varietals.”

“The Grand Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux came into existence thanks to the aim of Alain Raynaud, its president and founder, to bring together in one entity the wines of the Right and Left Banks. The Cercle Rive Droite, established in July 2002, has represented for the past 10 years a selection of 137 wines whose keyword is excellence. As for the Cercle Rive Gauche, it was founded in April 2013. A parallel association to the Cercle Rive Droite, it groups together 51 wine estates carefully selected for the quality of their wine. The concept is to take advantage of the drive and efficiency of the Cercle Rive Droite, to promote the fine wines of the Médoc, Graves, Sauternes and Barsac. With almost 200 wines, the Grand Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux presents, during its trips abroad, a showcase of Bordeaux wines selected for their high quality. Its vocation is to prove that in Bordeaux there are superb, top-of-the-range and reasonably priced wines!”

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Wining by Proxy in Paso Robles with the CAB Collective...Day 2.1...Rare and Reserve...

As mentioned in my previous post, the Goddess of Wine had serious palate fatigue after a delightful lunch at Pomar Junction. As is often the case, JD steps in to take up the slack. Here's the First Acolyte's account of the Paso Robles CAB Collective's Rare and Reserve tasting!

After a delicious lunch and tour at Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery we returned to the Paso Robles Inn Ballroom. After a brief look around, the Goddess decided she needed to conserve her energy, so on I went. I did not sample all the wineries pouring that afternoon, but most did seem to be back again for this stage.

5th Annual Chardonnay Symposium!

The 5th Annual Chardonnay Symposium Continues to 
Carryout the Mission of the Events Founders

May 6, 2014 (Pismo Beach, CA): The 5th Annual Chardonnay Symposium (TCS) hosted by Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa in Pismo Beach, from May 16-18, 2014, today announced that this year’s TCS will continue to carryout the mission of the event’s founders despite the change in venue and ownership. As the country’s premier event for education and celebration of Chardonnay wines, the mission of TCS remains that of bringing together Chardonnay producers, winemakers, sommeliers, and wine journalists, as well as both food and wine enthusiasts from all over the world, for an in-depth exploration of the world's favorite grape. Now, into its 5th year, TCS participants can expect the same, esoteric and educational experience, in the exploration of the world’s most popular grape varietal.
“We strongly believe in keeping this event alive,” says Brian Talley, Owner and Winegrower of Talley Vineyards, and TCS Industry Consultant. “Since the event was founded by the Santa Maria Valley Vintners Association, we’ve focused on maintaining their momentum by welcoming back the loyal following of the past four years, as well as the newcomers who want to participate and learn more about Chardonnay.  Moreover, we are expanding the scope of wines that will be represented, all the way from Santa Barbara to Napa Valley and Sonoma County, in order to give a more comprehensive look at Chardonnay.”

Friday, May 2, 2014

Wining in Paso Robles with the CAB Collective...Day 2...

Day 2 of the Goddess of Wine's and JD's coverage of the Paso CAB Collective dawned bright and sunny as we headed to the Vintner panel discussion at the Paso Robles Inn.

The Paso CAB Collective was created in 2012 as a "grass-roots non-profit organization...formed with the belief that the Bordeaux varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec grown in the Paso Robles appellation—and the subsequent quality of the wines produced—is under-represented in the marketplace and across the wine industry."

The tables in the ballroom were set for a large number of media and sommelier guests, but it appeared that many folks may have had too much fun the night before and decided not to attend. It was their loss, as the discussion was lively and thought-provoking.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Wining in Paso Robles with the CAB Collective...Day 1...

As the Goddess of Wine and JD headed north to Paso Robles for the 2nd Annual CABs of DISTINCTION media/trade/sommelier events, it occurred to me that JD and I fell in love with Paso mainly because of the exceptional Bordeaux-style wines we found there over 20 years ago. There were fewer wineries then, and each one seemed to have richly distinctive wines. We belonged to several wine clubs, and were always thrilled to receive boxes full of wonderful wine.

So it's a little odd to hear so many wine pundits touting the wonders of Paso Cabernets as if the region didn't exist before last year when Wine Enthusiast named it Region of the Year. Cabernet is what put Paso on the map, with Rhones and Zinfandel coming close on its heels. Now, as up-and-coming winemakers learn more about Paso and its many microclimates and terroir, more well-made, premium wines are evolving.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Wining with the Santa Barbara County Vintners...

The Goddess and JD got to attend the SANTA BARBARA VINTNERS SPRING WEEKEND that took place from April 10 - 13, 2014. We were only there on Saturday, the 12th, but many happy wine lovers were able to attend wine maker lunches and dinners, winery and tasting room open houses, vineyard walks, a golf tournament, a Farm-to-Table picnic and concert event, and the annual Vintners Festival Grand Tasting where over 100 member wineries gathered to present and sell their wines.  

The new location, at Buellton's River View Park, was delightful, and the weather cooperated brilliantly, with a cool, cloudy morning clearing to perfect blue skies and temperatures in the 70's. This event is HUGE. Besides the overwhelming number of wineries and their excellent wines, local restaurants provided delectable offerings of special foods, snacks and confections. Throw in an art show, a sensory demonstration from Allan Hancock College and the Relevé drone flying over the event taking pictures - there was something for everyone!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Wining in Solvang with the Garagistes...

The Goddess of Wine was happy to attend the second annual Garagiste Festival's Southern Exposure event in Solvang at the end of March. Was that only 2 weeks ago? An easy drive on a beautiful Saturday morning got me to that charming Danish town early enough to grab some breakfast at a local eatery that shall remain nameless because the food was truly bad. How you can mess up breakfast, I don't know, but...anyway, on to the Garagistes!

As defined by the Garagistes themselves: GARAGISTES – (gar-uh-zhē-stuh) n, Fr. – A term originally used in the Bordeaux region of France to denigrate renegade small-lot wine makers, sometimes working in their garage, who refused to follow the “rules.” Now a full-fledged movement responsible for making some of the best wine in the world. Who’s laughing now, Francois? Syn: Rule-breakers, pioneers, renegades, mavericks, driven by passion.

Wineaux of the Goddess - April Meeting - Austria!

The Goddess of Wine and JD hosted the monthly meeting of the Wineaux of the Goddess. Present were Shawn Halahmy, Barbara Barrielle, Michelle McCue, Rico Mandel, JD, and me! This month's subject: the wines of Austria.

In researching Austrian wines, I was fascinated to discover the astonishing history of wine in that region. There is archaeological evidence of wine being made in Austria for over 4000 years. The Romans encouraged viticulture, the Danube became one of the greatest wine trade routes, and things were pretty good for a long time. Then during the 19th century, crop diseases such as powdery mildew and downy mildew and, of course, the deadly phylloxera took their toll on Austrian vineyards. Although the wine producers were hard-pressed to reinvigorate the wine trade, the viticultural disruption allowed lower quality grapes to be replaced with better varieties, particularly Grüner Veltliner. After World War I, Austria was the third biggest wine producer in the world,much being exported in bulk for blending with wine from Germany and other countries.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Wining by Proxy...Tasting Terroir at République...

Once again JD fills in for the Goddess of Wine, this time at the Return to Terroir Portfolio tasting at République, the former Campanile.

About this event:
This was stated as “the only comprehensive portfolio tasting of the year to sample producers and regions spanning our entire portfolio.“

About the company:
Return to Terroir, owned by Raphael Knapp

Their Mission:
- To import sustainably produced wines that are the precise expression of their terroir.
- To help preserve the history of native grapes and traditional winemaking regions and methods.
- To educate the trade and consumers by sharing our wines and the stories of our winemakers.

“Raphael visits France and Italy every 3 months in search of wines that are the precise expression of their terroir. Some are organic and/or biodynamic but all are 100% estate produced by (smaller) family-owned wineries. They tend to share similar characteristics: minimal use of oak, a restrained style, and focus on minerality and acidity. We feel lucky to work with all of our producers and to be able to share their hard work, history and traditions with you.”

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wining in Santa Barbara...World of Pinot Noir...

The Goddess of Wine was very happy to be able to attend the annual World of Pinot Noir, held this year for the first time at the Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara. WOPN has been considered the crème de la crème of single varietal events for several years, and I have always wanted to go. Some background from the website:

"Our mission is to bring Pinot Noir producers from the most exceptional and unique regions in the world together with Pinot Noir enthusiasts for a weekend of celebration and education on the shores of California's beautiful Central Coast.

Our annual event takes place at the beginning of March and includes two days of in-depth Tasting seminars and excursions, Grand Tastings, a Burgundy seminar and tasting and gourmet, locally-influenced lunches and dinners. These extraordinary food and wine extravaganzas will be hosted by participating wineries and feature an outstanding panel of sommeliers from across the U.S.

The World of Pinot Noir was established in 2001 by a small but dedicated group of winemakers from California’s South Central Coast. We are a non-profit 501 (c) (6) trade organization."

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Wineaux of the Goddess - March Meeting - Campania!

The Goddess of Wine and her merry band of Wineaux met to taste the wines of Campania. Tasters included Barbara B., Debra B., Shawn H., Rico M., Marya G., Xochitl M., JD, and me.

Some background from Wine-Searcher.com:
Campania is the ‘shin' of Italy's boot, anchored by its capital, Naples. Its name comes from Campania felix, a Latin phrase roughly meaning 'happy land'. The region has strong historical links to wine and vine, dating back to the 12th century BC, and is one of Italy's very oldest wine regions. The influence of ancient empires, including the Greeks, Romans and Byzantines, means some of this area's varieties have historical legends attached. The area is also famous for producing Falerno (Falernum), one of the most ancient wines in Italy. Campania, like many Italian regions, is home to an impressive array of grape varieties, some of which are found almost nowhere else on earth. Its most important variety is arguably Aglianico, the grape behind the region's two most famous and respected red wines: Taurasi and Aglianico del Taburno. Aglianico was introduced to the area by the Greeks and later cultivated by the Romans. Also vital to Campania's vineyards are the white-wine varieties Fiano and Greco, which are championed by the region's most respected white wines, Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo.

Monday, March 31, 2014

It's the Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend!

Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend Lures Food Fans with Three Exclusive “Signature” Wine Pairing Dinner Events, during April Wine Festival

 -- Event Production Company, Relevé Unlimited, and Santa Barbara Vintners Announce Details of Signature Wine Pairing Dinners: April 10 at Hot New Wine Country Eatery, Industrial Eats; April 11 at Santa Barbara Ocean View Resort, The Fess Parker Doubletree; April 12 among the Vines at Private Winery Estate, Grassini Family Vineyards --

March 25, 2014 – Buellton, CA – The Santa Barbara Vintners (SBV; #SBVintnersFest) and Santa Barbara- and Solvang-based event production firm, Relevé Unlimited, have enhanced the gourmand element of this year’s “Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend”, with the addition of three separate, “Signature” wine pairing dinners to be held during the wine festival weekend of April 10-13, 2014.

The first culinary event is a Thursday, April 10 Sta. Rita Hills AVA wine pairing dinner at Buellton’s newest restaurant destination, Industrial Eats (6:30 PM to 9:30 PM). The event will open with a Clos Pepe Vineyards sparkling wine reception, followed by a multi-course menu to include the likes of a Dry Cured Ham Tasting, Sea Urchin Crostini, Raw and Cooked Oyster options, Pizza with Duck Prosciutto, Roasted Rabbit, and Confit Duck Leg, paired with wines – and some of the people behind each label – from Sta. Rita Hills wineries including Wes Hagen and Steve Pepe of Clos Pepe Vineyards, Auggie Rodriguez and Laura Roach of Sanford Winery, Ken Brown of Ken Brown Wines, and Jeff Connick of Dierberg Estate Vineyard. Tickets for the April 10 Industrial Eats dinner are $175.00 per person, and may be purchased at www.sbvintnersweekend.com.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

2014 Chardonnay Symposium...in Pismo Beach!

Wine Enthusiast Moderator & Panelists Announced By The
5th Annual Chardonnay Symposium

March 27, 2014 (Pismo Beach, CA): The 5th Annual Chardonnay Symposium (TCS) hosted by Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa in Pismo Beach, from May 16-18, 2014, today announced their newly appointed panel moderator as Matt Kettmann, contributing editor for Wine Enthusiast, and 2014 TCS Seminar Discussion Panel of notable industry experts to include Brian Talley of Talley Vineyards, Larry Brooks of Tolosa Winery, AJ Fairbanks of Hyde de Villaine, and Chris Hammel of Bien Nacido. 
Matt Kettmann, replaces Steve Heimoff, as a contributing editor for Wine Enthusiast Magazine, reviewing and reporting on wines from the Central and South Coasts of California.

"Throughout the industry, Kettman is considered to be quite skillful, confident, vocal and thoughtful,” says Katie Bottrell, Director of The Chardonnay Symposium.  “He is just as well suited for an esoteric audience of winemakers as he is for an audience of Chardonnay enthusiasts, so, we are very happy to have him as TCS moderator this year. Add that to the spectrum of experience and area of expertise on this panel, and it’ going to be a very interesting discussion this year."