I attend a large number wine events. That might even be an understatement, to which my fine readers can attest! Thus, I feel that it’s saying something to describe an upcoming wine event as one of my favorite series of wine events, ever. The San Francisco Vintners Market (Twitter, Facebook, WineLog) wine tastings are those exact events: totally fun, onsite wine purchasing available, and of course, fantastic wines to taste in unlimited amounts. And lucky readers, for round 5 (DING) of the #SFVM, I now have a fat discount so you cats can partake!
TasteLive! (WineLog, Twitter) is back at it again, with yet another great online Twitter tasting for us wine and chocolate grubbing fools. On the night of 01/26/12 at 6pm PST, we’re taking in another seasonally appropriate wine and food pairing by pre-tasting some of the wines and chocolates that will be at Rodney Strong’s 23rd Annual Wine & Chocolate Fantasy event, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
The 2011 Harvest is done. It has actually been done for the Northern California wine industry for a few weeks, but I needed those weeks to digest all that I have experienced (and re-acclimate to my previous life), before I was ready to write this final post for Man Falls in the Vines – #MFITV. Harvest is such a compressed, intense experience. It has proven to be hard for me to sum up in a somewhat, year-end post. Despite such difficulties, I was able to complete my harvest insider feature article for the January edition of Mutineer Magazine, as well as their brand new Mutineer Magazine Beverage Trade Edition, also debuting in January. All of this experience, hard work, and camaraderie demand applause and to be forever thanked for, however. And after the jump, you will see all of the new (and one old) vinopanions that I made during those six weeks in Stags Leap, Napa at Chimney Rock Winery (Twitter, Facebook, WineLog).
The holidays get busy. You barely have time to shop, decorate, make food, attend parties, try not to get drunk and, OH YEAH, still work! All of this stress adds up, manifesting itself in strange ways and differently within each person, as evidenced by the varying types of “holiday spirit” seen in the photo on the right.
You don’t have time for this! Your time is too precious to waste upon wondering which kind of wine to bring to coworker Aaron’s holiday party and wait, is it Aaron or Erin…CRAP, you’re so stressed you can’t even remember! It is with these conundrums in mind that I have constructed my Vinopanion holiday wine recommendations and pairings, listed below. Short, sweet (or dry!) and to the point. Let’s drink.
The heart of the Harvest season can be a surreal and crazy time. Yes, of course I guess, it’s crazy when you have a ton of things going on at once, including actual tons of ripe fruit to process and 15+ hour days dragging down your health. Indeed, I was sick twice during weeks 4 through 6 at the Rock for Man Falls in the Vines – #MFITV, with the entire Chimney Rock Winery (Twitter, Facebook, WineLog) crew coming down with something, at some point. Crush isn’t easy, that is known the industry over, but I was happy to see that I persevered along with everyone else (who are all harvest veterans) and learned quite a bit about what it was to work some of the most taxing parts of the harvest: digging out the fermentation tanks after barreling off our new free-run wine.
Weeks 2 and 3 of Man Falls in the Vines began super busy at the winery, but finished with the quietness of fermenting tanks. I have already talked of the craziness of Week 1 for #MFITV, when we brought in a good 150 tons of super premium Stags Leap District Bordeaux varieties. The last two weeks saw all of the rest of that fruit come in, all of it Cabernet Sauvignon, the heart blood of the Chimney Rock Winery (Twitter, Facebook, WineLog) wines. Our days were definitely long, particularly the last two, where we had two more days of bringing in at least 70 tons of fruit. The last of the lots of Cabernet were completed on 10/27/11 with a healthy roar of relief by the vineyard and cellar crews, and capped off by a raucous bin dive by Jeff in the last ton of fruit. I was in the north barrel room doing my morning ferm monitoring, so I’m still bitter that I missed his swan dive. My bitterness was sweetened however, when Jeff discovered that grapes can really go everywhere and anywhere, when hit at high speed!
I’m delirious to announce a new project that I’ve stumbled into, courtesy of my fantastic sabbatical, rather sabbradical, from my work at Genentech: I am working the 2011 wine harvest (#Harvest2001) at Chimney Rock Winery (Twitter, Facebook, WineLog) in the Stags Leap District (WineLog) of Napa Valley, CA. I will be the harvest intern and cellar worker of which I’ve always dreamed…and basically working my ass off helping to produce fine Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, rosé, (Fiano), and Meritage wines.
My participation in the controlled chaos of crush at the Rock comes courtesy of Terlato Wine Group (WineLog), my best friend Jeff van de Pol, Assistant Winemaker; and Elizabeth Vianna (Twitter), Winemaker and General Manager.
It is with no small excitement that I am able to announce a new trip to vino heaven, once again this year. Navarra, Spain is both an autonomous region (Navarre) as well as an ancient wine region, whose wine roots date back up to 1,200 years. It was once a great and proud kingdom and sits between what is now the Spanish wine appellation of Rioja and the French wine appellation of Bordeaux. Consequently, it has grows an awesome mix of grape varieties from both regions that have been approved by the Navarra Denominación de Origen (DO): Garnacha Tinta, Tempranillo, Graciano, Mazuelo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Garnacha Blanca, Malvasia, Moscatel, Viura, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. It also has a long history as an approved DO (the Spanish equivalent of a wine AVA or appellation that has strict, government-regulated quality control and approved grape growing and winemaking methods), celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2008. And it is to Navarra that I have the great fortune to fly, this coming Saturday!
At this point, my regular readers should know quite well about my participation in the cra cra known as the North American Wine Bloggers’ Conferences (Twitter, WineLog). We’re coming up on the 4th in this great series, after the huge success in 2008, 2009 and 2010. This year we’re invading Charlottesville, Virginia for our very first time plundering the wine life on the right coast (and East Coast wine bloggers rejoice). The state of Virginia has been exceptionally supportive and I’m looking forward to learning a ton about 5th largest wine producing state in the Union. Between the Keynote from Jancis Robinson (Twitter), the Virginia Wine (Twitter) Reception at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello for dinner on Friday, another Keynote from Eric Asimov (Twitter) and the annual Vineyard walks in the local wine country, #WBC11 looks to be just as stunning a time as years’ past.
I don’t know if my life has turned the speed of time to 11 or what this year, but it’s already time again for one of the best SF wine events of the year: 7th Annual Pinot Days 2011 (Twitter). Last year’s event was a must attend and this year Lisa and Steve Rigisich et al, have added a slew of additional events for the entire week of festivities and have expanded many wine regions to make this one even mo’ betta. How can such a fine vino event get any better, you ask? Try upping the number of producers over the 200 mark (over 400 Pinot Noir), organizing “the largest presence of Oregon producers ever gathered outside of Oregon” [I'm excited about this one], a fantastic online charity auction and a new Burgundy Corner to showcase the birthplace of this finicky but fine grape variety.