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Two SLO Wines

My California Wine Appellation Specialist course continued this week with the content focusing on the appellations within San Luis Obispo County. For this class I opened a bottle of the 2009 Illuminatus that Kathy and I made with grapes we sourced from Paso Robles. Our first wine for this week was a Grenache from the Edna Valley AVA.

072514aQupé sources fruit from the Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard in the Edna Valley AVA of San Luis Obispo County. Qupé winemaker, Bob Lindquist along with Louisa Sawyer Lindquist planted the vineyard in 2005. In 2009 the vineyard and winery were certified biodynamic by Demeter. I tasted the 2011 Edna Valley Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard Grenache. The wine was a blend of mostly Grenache at 87% with 13% Syrah, from the same vineyard, added. The 13.5% alcohol wine costs $35 from the winery website.

This translucent red Grenache offered floral, cherries and spices on the aroma and taste. There was no sediment in the glass. The medium-bodied wine was dry. The wine had low tannins and medium acidity. I would give the wine a personal rating of 3.5 out of 5. The wine is a bit pricy for a Grenache,

072514bMy second wine was my 2009 Illuminatus a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles AVA. The 13.5% alcohol wine was crafted at Vint Hill Craft Winery in Vint Hill, Virginia. We sourced the grapes from Arciero Vineyard. The grapes were harvested and placed in refrigerated trucks, then shipped across the country. The wine is not for sale. You can view the wine’s sep page at.

The opaque dark ruby Cabernet Sauvignon had aromas and flavors of blackberries, cassis, blueberries, black raspberries and a little cedar. This full-bodied wine was dry with medium-high acid and medium-high tannins. I would give the wine a rating of 4.5 out of 5.0. That rating may be a bit biased; however, my brother likes this wine and compares it to Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon. My earlier review of a Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon had a rating of 4.5 out of 5.0.


National Hot Dog Month: Etiquette-Should you Have Wine with Your Hot Dog?

Yesterday I realized that this month is National Hot Dog Month. Who would have known, however; it does make a lot of sense, as July is a great month to barbecue. To verify that this is really the National Hot Dog Month, I visited the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (NHDSC) website.

For hot dog and sausage lovers, the NHDSC website offers an overwhelming amount of information. Visit the website to discover hot dog and sausage basics, culture, restaurants and resources.

Have you heard of hot dog etiquette? According to the hot dog website, there is an etiquette for hot dog and sausage eating. As I read through the list I was disappointed to read, “Don’t… Bring wine to a hot dog barbecue. Beer, soda, lemonade and iced tea are preferable.” This etiquette rule might go well with another piece of advice, “Use paper plates to serve hot dogs. Every day dishes are acceptable; china is a no-no.” Maybe it’s a case of no crystal stemware, no china, and no wine!

I have to admit something is not appealing about eating a hot dog while sipping a tasty wine but would you try it?


Steven Spurrier Blind Wine Tasting in SBC

Steven Spurrier led our tasting of 48 Santa Barbara County wines.

Steven Spurrier led our tasting of 48 Santa Barbara County wines.

We learned about renowned wine expert Steven Spurrier when we researched the 1976 Judgement of Paris wine competition. The competition involved wines from some of the most prestigious wine houses in Burgundy and Bordeaux matched against wines from California. Steven Spurrier was the British wine merchant and wine shop owner in Paris who organized the tasting. The Hollywood film Bottle Shock recounts the event and Spurrier’s role.

Last month, Kathy and I had the opportunity to taste 48 Santa Barbara County wines with five other people on the tasting panel including Steven Spurrier. An article I wrote yesterday recounts the event with the winning wines for each of the nine flights.


New York City Wine & Food Festival in October

The annual New York City Wine & Food Festival (NYCWFF) will be here before we know it. This year the event is scheduled for October 16 -19, 2014. The net proceeds from this event goes to two charities, Food Bank for New York City and No Kid Hungry. Special events take place every day from Thursday thru Sunday.

Festival event categories include:

  • Intimate dinners
  • Walk-around tastings
  • Seminars
  • Hands-on Classes
  • Brunches
  • Late night parties
  • Grand tasting and demos
  • Family events

Check out the New York City Wine & Food Festival’s website. Individual tickets are available for each event. Anyone who plans to attend the festival may want to purchase tickets soon as some of the events are already sold out. Tickets are available online.

If you are concerned about hunger in society, you may want to consider attending one of the many events offered at the festival in NYC.


Nevada Law and Winery Development

Pahrump Valley Winery in Pahrump, Nevada

Pahrump Valley Winery in Pahrump, Nevada

On our first visit to Nevada, we wanted to add winery visits to our itinerary. For us it is hard to plan vacations without also adding winery visits. It’s almost but not quite an obsession to discover, visit and write about wineries. It’s also a lot of work with the planning, concentrating on the winery facts while visiting, and writing in the evenings or early morning.

So for our first visit to Las Vegas, we tried to locate local wineries and the closest winery was about an hour from Las Vegas in the town of Pahrump. After spending some time in Las Vegas, we found it very relaxing to drive through the dry landscape away from the lights and sounds of a big city. We discovered Pahrump Valley Winery that also has a wonderful upscale restaurant, Symphony’s, adjacent to it. We enjoyed the visit and a wonderful lunch.

On a return trip to Las Vegas, again there were no wineries to visit. Deciding to make a return visit to Pahrump Valley, we discovered a second winery had opened in Pahrump, Sanders Family Winery.

Why are there no wineries in or close to Las Vegas? One needs to look at Nevada’s law regarding wineries.

The Nevada law begins:

NRS597.240 Operation of winery authorized in smaller counties.

1. A winery located in a county whose population is 100,000 or less, if it is federally bonded, may:

(a) Import wine or juice from a bonded winery in another state, to be fermented into wine or, if already fermented, to be mixed with other wine or aged in a suitable cellar, or both.

Sell at retail or serve by the glass, on its premises and at one other location, wine produced, blended or aged by the winery. The amount of wine sold at a location other than on the premises of the winery may not exceed 50 percent of the total volume of the wine sold by the winery.

(c) Serve by the glass, on its premises, any alcoholic beverage.

It is the first sentence that stops people from starting a winery closer to Las Vegas. Located in Clark County, Las Vegas has approximately 375,000 residents and the county has about 2 million people. Washoe County has an estimated population of about 350,000 residents. Based on the above law, people in these two counties cannot establish a commercial winery on their property.

The Nevada Wine Coalition was formed to try to remedy this situation. According to the coalition website,  “Our mission is to build support for legislation to remove the population limitation (NRS 597.240) that restricts wine production in Washoe and Clark Counties so that we can open wineries that will create a thriving industry statewide to create jobs and grow our economy.”

On July 27 the Nevada Wine Coalition is holding a fundraiser in Reno, Nevada. The event will include food, wine, live music and an auction. Tickets are available online at http://nevadawinecoalition.com/youre-invited/ for $25. Tickets at the door will be $30.

Discovering the grapevines that will grow well in Clark County will take time, research and experimental plantings. However, vineyards and wineries provide a boost to the economy with more employment opportunities and more income (taxes) for the government. In addition vineyards tend to add to the preservation of the land.

If you were planning a visit to Las Vegas, would you include a visit to a winery?

Cheers! Kathy

Charity Run and Walk at Columbia Winery

Columbia Winery, Woodinville, WA

Columbia Winery, Woodinville, WA

On August 16, Columbia Winery in Woodinville just outside of Seattle is hosting a Charity Run & Walk  to support the Seattle Children’s Hospital. The organization notes on their website, “Of the 100,000 patients treated at Children’s each year, 65% need financial assistance.”

Participants can participate in the 10K run, 5K run/walk or the Kids Dash. The 10K run will have two water stations and the 5K run will have one water station. Medical care will also be available.

To register for the event go to http://www.runforchildrens.org/

Registration fees

  • Thru July 31: $30
  • August 1-14: $35
  • Race Day (August 16): $40

Participants in the Kids Dash do not need to register.


The Run for Childrens event needs volunteers for the event. Volunteers are needed for registration, parking, water and food station, guides and more. Visit the volunteer page to find out what they need and how to volunteer.

A few years ago we visited Columbia Winery in Woodinville. Check out our Wine Trail Traveler article with photos.

Cheers, Kathy

Wines from Monterey, California

My California Wine Appellation Specialist course continued this week with the content focusing on the appellations within Monterey and San Benito counties. One of the advantages of studying appellations is tasting wines from those particular areas. Prior to this class, I have not tasted a wine from either San Benito or Monterey counties.

071814aThe 2012 Muirwood Arroyo Seco AVA Chardonnay was fermented and aged sur lie in French and American oak barrels. The 13.8% alcohol wine had a price $12.99 at Total Wine in Laurel, Maryland. Muirwood is a private label wine brand owned and operated by Arroyo Seco Vineyards in San Martin, in Central Coast, California. These are limited production reserve wines grown and produced in Monterey. 

The medium yellow wine had no sediment in the glass or bottle. The aroma and taste reminded me of melon, citrus, hints of freshly baked bread and a caramel finish. Although the Arroyo Seco AVA is a cool terroir, this wine has a profile of a Chardonnay that benefited from longer hang time. The medium to full bodied wine was dry with medium acidity. There were no tannins. I would give this wine a 3.5/5 rating. It is screaming for risotto but will be paired with barbecued pizza with only fresh tomatoes, basil and grated Parmesan cheese toppings.

071814bThe 2012 Line Shack Petite Sirah, San Antonio Valley AVA was a 14.8% alcohol wine and cost $15.99 at Total Wine in Laurel, Maryland. The dark ruby wine had no sediment in the glass or bottle. It offered plums, black cherries, black raspberries and a hint of leather on the aroma and taste. The full-bodied wine was dry, but there was a perceived sweetness due to the fruit and alcohol. Acid was medium and the tannins were medium-high. I would give this wine a personal rating of 4 out of 5. It was the third Petite Sirah I have had from California for this course and the one I liked the best. It complimented last evenings dinner of barbecued hamburgers.

The San Francisco Wine School offers the California Wine Appellation Specialist course online and in San Francisco. The school just added The French Wine Scholar course that meets on Tuesdays in San Francisco from July 29th – October 14th, 2014.


Kulpmont Wine Festival Supports October Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Spyglass Ridge Winery is one of 15 wineries participating in October's Klupmont Wine Festival

Spyglass Ridge Winery is one of 15 wineries participating in October’s Klupmont Wine Festival

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Knights of Columbus in Kulpmont, Pennsylvania are organizing the 3rd Annual Wine Festival to support two cancer organizations. This charity event donates funds to the PA Breast Cancer Coalition and the Marie Lamey Endowment at Geisinger Medical Center.

The 3rd Annual Kulpmont Wine Festival organizers are looking for sponsors for this October 11, 2014 event.  The festival takes place at Holy Angels Picnic Grounds. The first sponsor for this year’s festival is Catino Vino in Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania.


Sponsorship Opportunities

Businesses can sponsor the festival at several levels beginning with the Bronze level at $50 to $100. The next level at $250 offers company logos to be displayed on festival staff t-shirts and on the festival website plus four tickets to the festival. Each succeeding level offers more up to the $1,000 level.

For more information and questions about the sponsorship opportunities contact the following people by email.

John Motyka at motyka97@gmail.com
Art Catino at artcat@ptd.net
Nik Bozza at goirish@verizon.net

 Festival Tickets

Only 200 VIP tickets are available.  Benefits for VIP ticketholders include early entrance to the festival, a festival t-shirt and a wine tasting glass. For these special tickets contact John Motyka or Art Catino at the above email addresses.

Regular tickets are available at several area businesses,  Knights of Columbus Council 4281, Holy Angels Rectory and online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/746876.

Fifteen Pennsylvania wineries are expected to attend the event. While supporting this event, plan to learn about the Pennsylvania wineries in the Harrisburg region.

·      Armstrong Valley Vineyard & Winery

·      The Vineyard at Hershey

·      Red Shale Ridge Vineyards

·      Buddy Boy Winery and Vineyards

·      Benigna’s Creek

·      Starr Hill Winery

·      Bastress Mountain Winery

·      Brookmere Winery & Vineyard Inn

·      Juniata Valley Winery

·      Blue Mountain Vineyards & Cellars

·      Bee Kind Winery

·      Spyglass Ridge Winery

·      Peace Valley Winery

·      Seven Mountains Wine Cellars

·      Happy Valley Vineyard & Winery

855 Scott Street
Kulpmont, PA 17834

More information is available on the Kulpmont Wine Festival website.





Websites for Champagne and the International Wine Tourism Conference

Lighthouse of Verzenay surrounded by vines in Champagne

Lighthouse of Verzenay surrounded by grapevines in Champagne

The Bureau du Champagne USA website provides an immense amount of information about Champagne. The data includes suggestions on the appropriate stemware, how to open a Champagne bottle, the region’s vineyards and the Champagnes. It will take a good amount of time to peruse everything available on the website. The Champagne Bureau website could be used as a template for many wine regions around the world.

If you are planning to attend the International Wine Tourism Conference in Champagne, France, the Champagne Bureau website will provide you with detailed information about Champagne.

It’s interesting to note that there is a connection between Christianity in Champagne and Christianity in the country of Georgia, both locations for the International Wine Tourism Conference. In the 4th century in Georgia, Saint Nino converted King Mirian to Christianity. In 496, Saint Rémi converted King Clovis of the Franks to Christianity. According to the Champagne Bureau website, Champagne wine was used to anoint King Clovis.

Anyone extending their visit in Champagne before or after IWINETC will want to check out the five trails in the region.

The Bureau lists five wine trails in Champagne, France.

  • Reims & Region
  • Epernay & Region
  • Marne Valley
  • Côte des Bar
  • Coteaux Vitryats

Note: The International Wine Tourism Conference takes place in Reims, France April 9 to April 10, 2015. Early Bird registration is available now at http://www.iwinetc.com/2015france/conference-registration/

The premium sponsor for the 2015 International Wine Tourism Conference is La Champagne La Marne. In addition to much information about visiting Champagne, the website offers online booking for accommodations, rental cars, restaurants, airlines and events.

Travelers who are delighted with flowers and gardens should visit the website for La Champagne La Marne which offers another dimension for wine travelers. According to the website, “The Marne in Champagne has won the trophée national de département fleuri (the national “County in Bloom” trophy) since 1997. It is the most flowery part of France with 166 towns and villages awarded between one and four ‘flowers’ (the Michelin star of the horticultural world).” What could be more delightful than enjoying a glass of Champagne in a region recognized for its horticulture?

If you are planning to visit Champagne or attend the International Wine Tourism Conference in 2015, check out the above websites for helpful information.

Cheers! Kathy

Two Petite Sirahs

071314aThere were less restrictions on the wines we had to taste this week for the California Wine Appellation Specialist course at the San Francisco Wine School, so I choose a wine from Livermore AVA and Lodi AVA. Both contained Petite Sirah. Surprisingly, I purchased two of the wines from a local wine store in Elkridge, Maryland. I was expecting to travel to Total Wine in Laurel, however, the Perfect Pour in Elkridge had a better less expensive selection of wines from the Central Coast. This week’s California Wine Appellation Specialist class included the northern Central Coast and the Delta that included Lodi and its sub-appellations.

The first wine was a Concannon 2010 Conservancy Crimson & Cloves, Livermore Valley. The wine was a blend of 50% Petite Sirah, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah and 10% Zinfandel. At 13.5% alcohol the wine offered a nice 3P (porch, patio, pool) wine even on a hotter, humid summer day. The price was 11.99 at The Perfect Pour, Elkridge, Maryland and the winery’s website is at concannonvineyard.com.

The Conservancy Crimson & Cloves was a barely translucent dark ruby color with medium depth. There was no sediment in the glass or bottle. Aromas and flavors reminded me of blueberries, plums, spices and leather. This full-bodied wine was dry; however, there was a perceived sweetness due to the fruit. I thought the acid was medium and the wine had silky medium tannins. I would give this wine a personal rating of 3.5. However if I weighted the price of the wine higher, I would give the wine a rating of 4.0.The wine is easy drinking and can pair with red meats as well as a rocking chair on a porch.

The second wine for this week’s class was a Four Vines 2010 Petite Sirah Lodi. With 13.9% alcohol and a price of $11.99 at the Perfect Pour this is an affordable wine from the Lodi region of California. The Four Vines website is at http://fourvines.com.

The wine had a dark ruby color with no sediment in the glass or bottle. The aromas and flavors included cherries, blueberries and plums with a hint of cedar. This full-bodied wine was dry with medium acid and medium-high tannins. My personal rating: 3.0. The wine has a great price point and works well with summer hamburgers and sausages on the grill.


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