#Vinopanion #wine Bits & Pieces

February 29, 2016

#Vinopanion has been a wild ride these past 8+ years (so hard to believe!).  Towards the end of last year, as life got exceedingly busy and I was unable to put my best efforts to my love of #wine writing and education, I pondered what step this blog would next take. I have always treated my wine life as a privilege and have felt grateful for every turn that it has taken.  Each little or big step was only partially planned/hoped for…most things like paid wine consulting, wine judging, being flown around the world for media trips, all have been joyous surprises, though they didn’t come without hard work (on the side).

I have missed my wine world these past ~4 months, but the introspection has been useful.  I’ve come up with new plans, reapplied old ones and have concocted new post formats, such as this new one: Bits & Pieces will cover multiple topics in short, 1-2 paragraph bites.  Prepare for more news in a more concise format. And so… ¡Vámonos mis Vinopanions!

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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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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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#OleWinos: Alicante Love at Bodegas Sierra Salinas

April 29, 2015

DSCN0963As mentioned in my intro post, I recently took another trip across the globe to my favorite foreign country of Spain.  This time I had the great fortune to be hosted by MGWines Group (WL, FB, Tw) in order to tour their luxury #wine properties located across their country. The trip was quite handily organized by Kraynick Consulting. Our first full day was set in the coastal city and wine Denominacion de Origen (DO) of Alicante (WL, FB, Tw, IG, YT).  Here were found the unique estate and affordable wine gems from Bodegas Sierra Salinas (WL, FB).

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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D.O. Cigales: #wine with savory quality

October 13, 2014

It would be an understatement to say that the Lady and I love the country of Spain.  We’ve been twice together and I’ve been one additional time, on top of those adventures.  Indeed, two years time we hope to take the pilgrimage of Camino del Santiago, during my sabbatical from work.  The people, the food, the landscapes, and of course the WINE…all of it continues to pull me back to this venerable country.  I was recently introduced to wines from a Spanish Denominación de Origen for which I had little familiarity: Cigales D.O. (WLTwFBYT). Once again, I was presented with wines that show off great complexity and straight-up tastiness, but with nary an expensive price to be seen.

More deets after the jump!

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#Napa: Back to home and #wine

December 22, 2013

I’m never one to make big leaps in my life.  Yes, about every ten years or so, the lady Beth Fontaine (Tw) and I seem to subconsciously start the process to evaluate our future in the context of our present. Yet, I can’t say that I have ever just done something on a leap of faith, staring at nothing but risk and hoped for reward, but that is the only way that I can explain our rather sudden move back home to Napa Valley.  And so we’re both happy to say that now after a month+ into our new lives back in wine country, that we’ve made a fantastic decision:

Thank you Napa, for welcoming us with open arms, wine bottles, and tasty menus. 🙂

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Tasty Beauty: Jordan Estate Tour & Tasting

December 1, 2013

Wine country, almost by definition; is a gorgeous, relaxing, and delicious set of regions to visit.  But how does one choose which region to visit and which wineries to whet one’s vinous whistle?  Sometimes you just want a gorgeous setting, with wine that is at least, enjoyable.  Other times you might just want the best wine that fits your palate, surroundings be damned.  And sometimes you want to go beyond just the wine and have it paired with tasty bites of foodie porn.  Fortunately, you now have at least one destination that takes all of these experiences and wraps them into one 3 hour, vino/foodie heavenly wine timeout from reality: the newly launched Jordan Vineyard & Winery (FB, Tw, YT, Fl, P, WL) “Estate Tour & Tasting.”

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