Taking my #wine kung fu to the next level: #WSET II & Napa Valley Wine Academy

October 10, 2015

406064_562298363799327_175257724_nI have been immersing myself in the study of #wine in a semi-systematic manner for much of the last 8 years.  Indeed, #Vinopanion‘s 8 year anniversary with @WineLog is approaching in the middle of this month. Yet I have slowly realized that something is lacking in my devotion to the knowledge of the vinous delights: focus, structure and external credibility. You’d think that a trained scientist would have recognized this long ago and I did notice these thoughts in the back of my mind a few years back.  But they were always battered back by “where’s the time?” and “I’m still receiving plenty of media travel & event invites,” along with “my wine consulting services continue to expand.” Then I reached last year and I started to recognize some clear patterns in my wine work. While I had plenty of media opportunities and my fellow wine colleagues were continuing to get work, I could see that the pace of my own trade offers beginning to slow down. It was then that I noticed that most of my colleagues began to sport letters after their names on their business cards: they were taking certified educational courses to formalize their wine training. I needed to set up my wine game. It was then that I contacted the good people at Napa Valley Wine Academy (FB, Tw): “help!”

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Hall Wines Cabernet Cookoff tastes great, gives help

August 22, 2015

11855799_868280449915926_2336774847356483997_nWe’re a little late on our coverage of this fine event, but we did want to send out hearty Vinopanion props to Hall Wines (WL, FB, Tw, IG, YT) and their highly enjoyable 6th Annual Cabernet Cookoff charity #foodie and #wine event this past April. Fifteen Napa Valley and San Francisco based chef teams competed to see which one could most favorably pair their small bite with the 2012 Hall Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvigon and the 2012 Hall Napa County Coeur Cabernet Sauvignon red wines.  To whet the almost 700 attendees’ palates, the festivities were kicked off with a glass of the delicious 2012 Hall Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc.  On this particularly hot April day, the SB was quite a treat, with its juicy citrus acidity, rounded out with some tropical fruit and floral notes, and finishing with some zingy minerality.  Following the SB intro, the Lady and I headed into the array of tents to taste through the many culinary delights on prep.

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Hofsas House Carmel-by-the-Sea: A central, tasty stay

July 18, 2015

422450_10150590205892639_1292516201_nEarlier this year, the Lady and I had a chance to stay at a continually refurbished gem in one of our fav places on earth: Carmel-by-the-Sea (FB, Tw, IG, YT).  We hadn’t had a chance to stay at the Hofsas House Hotel (FB, Tw, Blog) in a number of years, so we were excited to be granted a media weekend stay at the centrally located property, courtesy of the hotel and Chatterbox Wine Marketing. Family owned and operated for over 60 years, the Hofsas is a longtime landmark for the entire Monterey Peninsula, with its Bavarian charm and singular ocean views atop the hill in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

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#OleWinos Final Day: Tilenus/Estefanía & the little #wine valley that could

June 8, 2015

IMG_5408The final day of our brilliant #OleWinos trip was spent in a little appellation in the northern part of Spain, tucked in between still snowy mountains (if only we had that snow and rain in California!): DO Bierzo (WL, FB, Tw). Our group was finishing up our stay across Spain, hosted by high end #wine group MGWines Group (WL, FB, Tw), in the small, but lovely & ancient, Roman-era town of Ponferrada.  It was here that we would visit the previously known property of Bodegas Estafanía (WL, FB), now known better by its main label, Tilenus. Named for the Celtic god, later appropriated by the Romans for their own Mars god of war, their label features a Roman coin that was once found in their very old vine vineyards. It is those very vineyards that sparked an image of ancientness themselves in my mind, with their Dantesque hand-vines reaching towards the sky, during our soggy visit to their longtime home.

More details after the leap!

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#OleWinos: MGWines Group’s Lavia rocks the A+ #wine

May 23, 2015

We continued our #OleWinos adventure with host MGWines Group (WL, FB, Tw), at their stellar Bodegas Lavia (WL, FB, Tw) #wine estate in the Bullas DO (WL, FB). You might remember that I visited DO Bullas a couple years back during our #Murcia8 journey. It was wonderful to be back and to visit a new part of this small Spanish appellation, the smallest in the Murcia region of Spain.  It is here that MGWines found the latest jewel in their basket of unique, fine wineries across the multitude of Spanish wine regions.  Our host for this trip was again, winemaker Sebastien Boudon.  He splits his time between Sierra Salinas and Lavia, which are about 100 km apart from each other.  The rain and clouds followed us to Lavia as well, but that didn’t stop us from taking in the striking mountainous surroundings of the Lavia estate.

More details after the leap!

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A tasty stay at Lula Cellars: Mendocino & Anderson Valley #wine

April 14, 2015

It’s funny how life can connect the dots sometimes, leading to a lovely and serendipitous experience.  This was one of those times (or extended weekends, for that matter). Late last year I was contacted about a possible media stay at the rustic estate of a fine pinot producer in the Anderson Valley AVAMendocino County (WLFBTw) is one of the coolest wine regions in California (if not the coolest), and also happens to be where I married the Lady (Tw) almost 15 years ago. Courtesy of Chalkboard Communications and the hospitality of Jeff Hansen and Dan Reed, we were able to both stay at and visit this region for the first time in 15 years, and taste through the very impressive wines from Jeff and Lula Cellars (WLFB).  Yum! Philo is a *very* small town (Pop: 349), tucked along CA-128 about 30 miles from SE of the seaside village of Mendocino.  It also happens to be the heart of the ANderson Valley and Mendocino County wine regions, with over 20 wineries and wine tasting rooms in extremely close proximity to “downtown”.

The full recap, after the leap!

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A return to Spain: #OleWinos!

March 25, 2015

And so it is, #Vinopanion has the fortuitous chance to reconnect with a culture of people, food, and most certainly of wine; one that feels natural and which brings familiarity, even where it shouldn’t exist…Vinopanion is headed back to Spain! Courtesy of Kraynick Consulting and MGWines Group (WL, Tw, FB), I am headed back to the land of savory vino tinto, and the salty deliciousness of jamon Iberico. This week I will travel a fair length of Spain, tasting through DO wines of Bullas, Alicante, and a new one to my palate, Bierzo. During this revelatory Iberian week, we will also explore the caminos of Alicante, Bullas (including it’s tremendous museum of local wine history), Ponferrado, and of course, mother Madrid. Follow along, with #OleWinos!

More details after the leap!

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Guest Post: #Vinopanion Roy Jurgens visits Paso Robles

January 12, 2015

It is quite the rare occasion here at Vinopanion (WL, FB, Tw, IG) when we greenlight a guest post. But, recently a Vinopanion reader contacted us about possible recommendations for a lovely planned trip to Paso Robles Wine Country (WL, FB, Tw). We had been in Paso again earlier in the year, for my Wildflower Triathlon. One of our favourites that trip was Proulx Wines (WL, FB, IG) along Vineyard Drive, which Roy Jurgens and his Lady (and pooch!) were also able to visit. Proulx’ array of estate dry rosés really rocked our vinous world.  I asked Roy for a recap of their own favorite Rhone-styled wineries and he sent back a fantastic, thorough recap.  So now, let’s let Vinopanion Roy Jurgens take it away, with their tour of Paso food and wines!

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5 Questions with Stephen Cronk of Mirabeau Wine

December 18, 2014

It’s been quite some time since the last post in our “5 Questions With…” series, but after tasting a phenomenal #wine and then learning its even more interesting backstory, I decided a revival was needed! I think it’s no non-surprise for my regular readers that we are huge fans of rosé here at #Vinopanion. YC Media sent me a bottle earlier this year by a brand new producer from one of the finest regions in the world Provence, France.  I was thoroughly blown away by this first time effort; the 2013 release from Mirabeau Wine (WLFBTwYTIG) had all the characteristics that make up a complex, yet extremely tasty rosé: crisp acidity, juicy red fruits, fresh herbs, and even some fine floral notes.  I was hooked.  Then I found out that this wine was made by a former financier that completely upped and moved his family to Provence to make wine, job-quitting included.  I had to know more.

And so here we are, 5 Questions with Stephen Cronk of Mirabeau Wine, after the leap!

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Holman Ranch: Carmel Valley’s whole package

November 21, 2014

Earlier this year, during a beautiful stretch of Spring weather, The Lady (Tw) and I had the distinct pleasure of taking in a media stay at Holman Ranch Vineyards & Winery (WLFBTwYTP). Set amongst the emerald hills of Carmel Valley, the ranch has a history in the valley since 1928, when it was founded by Gordon Armsby as a very exclusive resort for much of Hollywood’s elite. Skip forward quite a ways when current owners Thomas and Jarman Lowder purchased the ranch in 2006 with an eye for not only restoring all of its original majesty, but also greatly expanding the now many amenities and products produced by Holman Ranch.

More deets after the leap!

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