Nov 302013
 

Angle 33 Thermal WineThermal Concrete Wine Chiller: This chiller by Angle 33 looks great and works exceptionally well. We now use ours almost every evening. The wine thermal can act as a chiller but we find it works best to maintain temperature for a perfectly chilled or cellared wine. The thermal is chilled in the refrigerator so ice is never used. The attractively colored thermal concrete is sealed so it does not sweat or get wet on the sides and bottom. Therefore there is no sloppy ice chiller drip.

The Angle 33 Thermal is hand crafted in Montana (see how it is made here). Priced at $64.99, the Angle 33 Premium Concrete Thermal is as handsome as it is functional. Angle 33 also offers matching coasters.

Grapeseed Oils and Flour: Earlier this year we found these delicious grapeseed oils from Salute Salute SanteSanté! in Napa, CA. They make a high smoke point cooking oil as well as herb-flavored and grape variety-specific finishing oils. GMO free, they have replaced olive oils in our kitchen. The gluten-free grapeseed flour is a great addition (20%-30%) to whole grain bread flours and gluten-free flours, creating a nutty richness. Read my personal story about the natural cholesterol reducing effects of Salute Santé! Grapeseed Oil Continue reading »

Nov 162013
 

Dry Creek AVA

A Dry Creek AVA

Barring another wine country emergency (sarcasm), our visits this fall were our last California wine journeys for 2013. The sigh of relief from winemakers across both Napa and Sonoma was audible as the harvest came to an end.

A  textbook growing season created much excitement in all the wineries we visited as bin after bin of near perfect grapes arrived to be carefully converted into the elixir of the Gods. The excitement and anticipation for these wines once bottled, is the talk of most winemakers we met.

Fall in wine country is a surreally beautiful time with acre after acre of vineyards turning Technicolor shades of yellow, gold, red and maroon. Interestingly enough some of the older vines fighting various vineyard plant diseases create the most vibrantly colored fall leaves. Could this colorful display be the vine’s farewell gift to those of us who loved their annual gift of grapes? Continue reading »

Oct 282013
 

Jericho Canyon 2The drive north of Calistoga along the Old Lawley Toll Road toward Jericho Canyon Vineyard really feels like undiscovered Napa. Even with a GPS the tiny entrance is easy to miss. We arrived on a sunny Sunday morning and were greeted by Paul, the winery mechanic (really, that’s his title) as he walked from his tomato garden. He pointed down the dirt road around the modest home, once occupied by the whole Bleecher clan, but now the abode of son, Nick. We came to a red barn which serves as both a tasting room and the façade to their remarkable wine caves.

Here we were greeted by second generation vintner Nick Bleecher and Tara Hole. The experience to be had at Jericho Canyon other that their blockbuster wines, is the Polaris Tour and tasting ($75). With Nick and Tara we jumped into a Polaris 4-wheeler for a truly unique tour along the steep vineyard trails of Jericho Canyon Vineyard. With 40 acres planted on the 140 acre site before the restrictive 1991 Hillside Ordinance, the vineyards cling to the steep hillsides and offer spectacular views. The tour is an education in vineyard management and winegrowing with plenty of fun thrown in. Be sure to bring a camera for the hillside vineyards and vista shots of the Palisades and Mt. St. Helena. Check out the photo gallery. Continue reading »

Oct 202013
 

Sonoma WineriesI miss the bygone days of Napa Valley and Sonoma County. Those days before fanciful wineries, hospitality directors, rock star winemakers, iPhone wine apps and glossy winery maps with hundreds of tiny dots. Some of my favorite memories date back to our travels in the early 1980’s  when we would drive up back roads and cross roads never knowing what tiny winery would be around the next curve.

But what I miss most are the unexpected and hands-on experiences that today seem rare, indeed. I recall fondly meeting  Charlie Wagner, Founder of Caymus Vineyards, who tried to discourage us from a tasting by demanding we spend time touring his post-harvest, rain-soaked muddy vineyard. The stop turned into hours of education and a new respect for the farming aspect of winemaking. I miss moments like the time we randomly stopped into the new (now corporately owned) Folie à Deux Winery only to be asked by the founders (two slightly crazy psychiatrists) to help press the last of what became their 1983 vintage.

And then there was the ponytailed cannabis-aromaed gardener who found himself the winemaker of a now defunct Sonoma winery after the previous winemaker had quit mid-harvest. We barrel tasted through his wines; all barely drinkable. Then we got to one last Chardonnay barrel. The gardener-turned-winemaker said, “Dude…now this one I forgot about and didn’t do nothing, no yeast or anything and a couple of months later, shit, it was wine. I guess they forgot to teach him about native yeast fermentation in the “crash crush” course he had taken a few months earlier. And yes, Dude…it was his best wine.

So we are on a quest over the next year to find intimate winery experiences that hearken back to the essence of those earlier days when a trip to wine country was a journey rather than a destination. For those who wish to explore, learn and maybe on occasion even get a little dirty, these will be the stops for you. For those who want a wine country experience filled with “notch your bedpost” names like Opus One and Harlan in an effort to make your friends envious; stop reading now. Most of the boutique wineries we will explore together you will have never heard of (some I had not heard of before my visit) and your friends won’t get excited until they taste the wine you pour from your newly discovered winery gem.

The wineries we are set to explore most likely will not have a public tasting room and you will need to make an appointment, especially in Napa Valley. This is due mainly to the 1990 Winery Definition Ordinance that among other things, restricted wineries opening after its inception to be “by appointment only.” However, in some cases the winery’s production is so small and the wines so well regarded there is no need for a full time tasting room. Some of the wines from these boutique producers will be quite affordable while some will be expensive. The one thing they will all have in common is an intimate and unique experience with folks passionate about the wines they produce.

So join us on our intimate journey of undiscovered Napa and Sonoma… Here are the blog posts from best boutique winery experiences we’ve had so far…

Best Boutique Winery Experiences – Sonoma County

Experience Bucher Vineyard – Exceptional Wines and Vines from Extraordinary People

Jericho Canyon Vineyard – A Unique Vineyard Adventure

Smith-Madrone Vineyards and Winery – The Real Deal

Kelly Fleming – Living the Wine Country Dream

Meet Winemaker Cathy Corison of Corison Winery

Oct 032013
 

Denver International Wine Festival 2013

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2013 DENVER INTERNATIONAL WINE FESTIVAL- NOVEMBER 6 TO 10, 2013 Named One Of America’s Top Fall Wine Festivals By Fodor’s!

The 9th Annual Denver International Wine Festival is the premier wine and food festival in the Rocky Mountains, showcasing more than 400 international wines from 18 countries! This incredible event also features selected premium spirits, sake, craft beer, and a Belgium Beer Garden complete with gourmet food samplings expertly paired with famous Belgium beers, served in their custom glassware. Attendees enjoy a multitude of delectable food and wine tastings, fresh produce, gourmet food products, wine accessories, fine art, and exhibits by luxury travel destinations. Continue reading »

Oct 022013
 

Lower cholesterol When we visited Valentin and Nanette Humer of Salute Santé! Grapeseed Oil in their office and processing facility on the outskirts of Napa, CA, I never thought I’d leave offering myself up as a medical guinea pig. Our intent was merely to introduce ourselves to the culinary benefits of grapeseed oil. Little did I know that this delicious all natural waste-product of the wine harvest would dramatically lower my bad (LDL) cholesterol, lower my triglycerides and improve my good (HDL) cholesterol in just a few weeks. Read on for my amazing stats.

The husband and wife team of Valentin and Nanette started Salute Santé! in 1995 creating cold-pressed extra-virgin grapeseed oil and grapeseed flour. These products have won numerous awards and have become the favorites of many celebrity chefs, including Charlie Trotter and Michael Chiarello. Chiarello even offers Salute Santé! single variety grapeseed oils along with their Gluten & GMO-free grapeseed flour in his acclaimed Napa Style Catalog. Continue reading »

Sep 222013
 

Denver International Wine CompetitionThree Giordano Italian Wines receive medals at the prestigious 2013 Denver International Wine Competition. Two gold medals were bestowed upon Giordano’s 2012 Fiano (White Italian Varietals) and the 2011 Nebbiolo. Giordano’s 2011 Primitivo took the bronze medal in the category, Italian reds under $15. New to American wine competitions, Giordano made an excellent first showing. For preferred pricing on Giordano Wines, be sure to explore the Giordano Italian Wine Club. To read more about Giordano Wines and wine reviews, see Bacchus and Beery Wine reviews. Continue reading »

Aug 262013
 

Jordan WineryJordan Vineyard and Winery has long been a Sonoma County icon for elegance and excellence. Even so, the new Estate Tour and Tasting takes wine country hospitality to the next level. It may come as a surprise that Jordan has no tasting room. Instead they choose to give their guests the more personal approach of small group tours and tastings by appointment. Currently Jordan Winery offers a one-hour Library Tasting and a 90-minute Winery Tour and Library Tasting. But that is all about to change with the addition (September 5, 2013) of the exciting new three-hour Estate Tour and Tasting. Continue reading »

Aug 182013
 
Alba, Italy

Alba, Italy

Earlier this summer we received an invitation to visit the historic Giordano winery and to tour the famed Piedmont wine region of northwest Italy. For those who read Bacchus and Beery, you know what fans we are of Giordano wines, their high quality and value. Our Giordano journey started in the quaint town of Alba, whose roots date back to pre-Roman times. Continue reading »

Jul 282013
 

Damn, it’s hot outside. We really enjoy sipping wine on the Bacchus and Beery patio all summer long. Nothing puts a damper on a good glass of vino than summer heat. Of course, you can keep your wine in a messy chiller or ice bucket but then it gets too cold to taste all the subtle flavors and you’re left waiting for it to warm up to the perfect not too hot…not too cold Goldilocks temperature.

Recently we received two sample products that claim to help beat the summer heat…and we love them! Take a look at these unique wine temperature control solutions. Both will make outstanding gifts or additions to your home. Continue reading »