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Wine Events to Talk About (February 27, 2015)


Last Friday night 2/20/2015 more than fifty-plus marquee wineries assembled and showcased well over 100 Petite Sirah wines in Alameda, California at the Rockwall winery. This well-attended event celebrated the deep-colored wine known for its bold round full-bodied structure and relatively high tannin levels that allow Petite Sirah to age so very well. DSC 1318 

A well-balanced Petite Sirah exhibits deep blackberry, blueberry, and plum-like fruit flavors as well as spice and licorice notes. This is a varietal that pairs extremely well with big hardy dishes such as beef, pork and other big game as well as braised and grilled meats. The evening was very well attended and all the laughter and happiness made the wine and food offerings that much more memorable. For information on upcoming events featuring Petite Sirah check back here, or visit:

Next weekend, take a Saturday or Sunday afternoon to enjoy the hospitality of Fenestra Winery’s Chocolate and Cabernet event. Fenestra winery is one of the very best places to enjoy a picnic with your friends and family. fenestra tasting room with peopleThis event features savory and sweet chocolate dishes paired with Fenestra’s high quality wines. Recipes for various dishes will be offered and you can stock up on their wines for your future memorable meals. Save $5.00 dollars off the cost of admission by getting your tickets in advance at:  

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Wine Events to Talk About

wine-harvestcampbell wine walkWine Events of past, present and future are noted here for your amusement, edification and to stir up your attendance. This past week the Winter Campbell Wine walk was enjoyed by a sell out crowd of happy and hip millennial-and-up wine enthusiasts. The mild weather seemed more like spring than winter and music , laughter and good spirits filled downtown Campbell. 

Campbell’s downtown has bloomed with novel boutique shops, upscale and modern restaurants ranging from small family-run businesses to national brand-name stores. Amongst these shops you will find some of the finest wines from Northern California that were enjoyed by those who attended. burrell school 1

Most notable of them were Burrell School, a fabulous Santa Cruz Mountain winery located on the summit of Highway 17.  Fenestra Winery from the Livermore Valley poured a magnificent Syrah. Light Heart Cellars, from Santa Clara County, offered a delicious white varietal called Colombard. Roudon-Smith Winery and Cooper-Garrod Winery offered award-winning wines that were hosted by their wine makers and vintners. 

Their passion and commitment is express through the artistry of their wines. Sarah’s Vineyard and Martin Ranch poured lovely well-crafted wines as well. Yes, it was a lovely wine walk enjoyed by all who attended and sipped great wines and savored amuse-bouche nibbles. If you missed this wonderful wine event, don’t fret, there will be another Campbell wine walk early this fall. 

Looking for something to do this weekend? Would you like to make last minute plans to attend a Valentine’s Day function? Consider visiting Napa and attending Meritage Resorts’ Masters and Makers weekend. Go for the whole weekend or simply attend one of the events offered throughout this Valentine and President’s day weekend. 

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A sense of place

Where are you from, Stranger?  Having a sense of place provides us with a tangible descriptor of our own selves and the people we meet. This sense of place quite often applies to many things we experience in our lives.Terroir It gives us a reference point and a sense of commonality which allows us to to readily identify with one another.  The language we speak or the peculiar or unique accents of our speech allows us to recognize that we come from a particular place.

Wine, too, shares a reference to place that is similar to own own. For wine, "place," or "terroir" is very important, and the term "terroir" refers to the distinctive characteristics of the fruit grown and transformed into wine from a particular place.  Can you tell if the wine you taste comes from the old or new world? Possibly France or Spain, or is it a wine grown and produced in California? Can you describe the clues that your wine expresses?

I recently had the pleasure of observing five master sommelier describe wines "blind."  blind wine tastingWhen I say "blind" what I mean is that the master sommelier would taste the wines and then describe and identify these wines without any prior knowledge about any of them. I especially enjoyed the deductive processes of these wine masters and I would like to share a valuable lesson I learned from one of them. During one of the blind tastings the master sommelier lifted his glass of red wine and said, " I can see that I do not have a white wine here."  Brilliant comedy, thought I, somewhat sarcastically.  But then I was soon amazed because each of the masters, employing their powers of deduction, were able to correctly name the varietal, vintage and origin of the wine.

As we head into the Holidays,Holiday toast which oftentimes calls us back to our own origins, what does our sense of place mean to us? Has our "terroir" shaped our character, and if so, how?  Certainly, our environment has some impact on our personality. How would you go about describing your home?  I suppose describing a wine's "character" (dark or light, heavy or thin, fragrant or flinty and so forth and so on) illustrates the importance of terroir that a winemaker takes into consideration when attempting to produce a fine wine. Thus terroir is the foundation that crafts the basic character of a wine such that allows us to eventually learn how to distinguish the differences between a Cabernet Sauvignon grown in California with those grown in Bordeaux, France. So lift your glass with a smile because everyone like every wine comes from somewhere.

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To ask or not to ask

Recently, a "mystery" shopper was set loose upon a Bay Area wine country with $1200.00 to spend on wine from the various winery tasting rooms. The shopper could only buy wine if they were asked by the tasting room staff to purchase.  After a weekend of many winery tasting rooms only $200.00 of $1200.00 was spent.Ask for the order

Do you expect to purchase wine at each of the winery tasting rooms that you visit? Do you expect to be asked to purchase wine or would that turn you off? The art of the "ask" seems to me to be essential for a successful tasting room. Regardless of all the wine tasting etiquette rules, which we list later in another article, the tasting room is the primary direct-to-wine consumer outlet.Buy the case

The tasting room supplies the wine lover and adventurer a place to experience the winery's wines, hospitality and story.  And who doesn't love a good story.  Wine lovers use review sites to share their experiences and to read about the experiences of others. Thus, the tasting room becomes the single most important sales and marketing direct-to-wine lover opportunity that a winery possesses.  I appreciate it when the hospitality staff invites me to purchase or to join their wine club. And yet in my experience I am surprised how many winery tasting room staff fail to not only ask me to purchase their wine but fail to even mention their wine club. win win

I understand the reluctance of some people to want to avoid being pushy, however I would encourage winery owners to attempt to measure their success in selling wine to their guests. Wine lovers come to the tasting room for the experience and to purchase wine because of the relationship they form with the winery.  When a guest visits a winery they are looking for wine to purchase. The question is will they purchase from your tasting room or the winery down the road? And in my opinion, if you and the tasting room staff have entertained your guests, simply ask for the wine order, and you will in most cases obtain a sale.  A sale in your tasting room is a win-win for you and the guest.

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Vitamin FND

An Italian proverb states; “Old wine and friends improve with age.” 

Old Friends and winesIs it wine tastes better with friends or friends are better with wine?

Friendships give us a healthy sense of community. After all, we are communal beings. We rely upon each other to both thrive and survive. I call this "surthrival".  Every day we interact in some manner with each other directly or indirectly.  Even in finding solitutde, it is near impossible not to experience the hand of another fellow humans efforts being present in our life's experiences. Wine reinforces this concept. Fine wine like good art and poetry is carefully crafted both by nature and mankind. Fine wine enhances our abilities to socialize, sympathize and celebrate our lives together. Wine provides a common experience throughout many of our most memorable shared experiences.Wines with Friends

Recently, a new friend shared with me an interesting adage that opened my mind to contemplate a new way for me to appreciate the wines I taste. My new friend, Nick Liang, a very talented Sommelier shared this insight in reference to the aging of a wine.  Many wines available are wines that are only three to four years old. Nick shared the wine adage in the form of a question, "what kind of conversation does one tend to have with a three or four year old?"

The wine Nick and I shared that afternoon was marvelous. It was a 2008 Steven Kent Lineage. An amazingly delicious and well balanced Bordeaux blend that begged for a sumptuous juicy roast duck or fillet Mignon.  Nick proceeded to outline how he would age this marvelous wine.  First, Nick plans on purchasing a couple cases of Steven Kent Lineage for himself. He plans to open a bottle every year for the first four or five years. Nick will then wait 8 years and open a bottle or two of  Steven Kent Lineage each year after that to determine how this wine matured. I hope on some of those occasions that Nick will invite me to dinner.  In this busy busy society and culture of ours how rare it is to find friends. Friends like wines are in themselves treasures. Our experiences with many friends highlight our life's journey and even though time steadily passes, our friendships grow more valuable and dear to us. Good wines are similar and for those of us with the patience to let our wines mature, we may be treated to possible treasures. Treasures that can be shared with our family and friends.

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