About     FAQ     Contact      Advertise With Us      Press   

Matchbook The Arsonist Chardonnay Provides a Spark

082114aThe Crew Wine Company crafts a Chardonnay that is a very food friendly Chardonnay. The 2012 Matchbook The Arsonist Chardonnay, Dunnigan Hills AVA in Yolo County is a light gold translucent color. The aromas and flavors reminded me of caramel, pears, apples, butter and a hint of slate. The reserve wine is made from the best barrels of wine with Dunnigan Hills AVA fruit. The 14.3% alcohol wine is full-bodied with medium-high acidity. The dry wine is perfect to pair with food especially risotto. For the adventurous, the wine would make a good ingredient in many recipes that call for white wine especially Chardonnay. The wine can also hold it own as an aperitif especially served chilled on a hot summer day. The wines retails for $21.99.

The one wraparound label shows a line drawing of a man (Prometheus) with fire in his hand. Next to the government information there are the words

Fire stealing Prometheus 
stole a Spark of the sun 
to be placed in Human hands, 
and changed our Destiny.

About Crew Wine Company

The producer of The Arsonist Chardonnay is the Crew Wine Company located in Zamora, California. Crew Wine Company offers four brands: Matchbook, Mossback, Chasing Venus and Sawbuck.

The Matchbox brand includes nine products from grape varieties that grow in Dunnigan Hills. According to the Crew Wines’ website, the winemaker blends some fruit from the coast to the Dunnigan Hills wines.

If you are wondering why they use the name Matchbox, it seems the mischievous brothers as youngsters took delight in setting fires.  We are looking forward to meeting the owners later this year to find out more!


PROOF: The Science of Booze, a Review

PROOF: The Science of Booze

PROOF: The Science of Booze

PROOF: The Science of Booze

Author: Adam Rogers
Price: $26 hardcover
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York
ISBN: 978-0-547-89796-7 (hardcover)
Copyright: 2014
Pages: 272
Reviewed by: Kathy Sullivan


PROOF: The Science of Booze

Adam Rogers, author of PROOF: The Science of Booze brings those interested in wine, spirits or beer into the minds of producers.

The chapters of the book delve into different aspects of making alcohol to drinking it to the research taking place or not, on how to cure hangovers.

In the first chapters Rogers writes about yeast, sugar, fermentation, distillation and aging. The last chapters cover smell and taste, body and brain and hangover.

It takes a thorough understanding of the subject matter to be able to write about such comprehensive subjects in a way that many will find intriguing. It also requires a gifted writer who can sustain interest in what could have been a stale textbook style. Instead Rogers adds anecdotes and humor to relay his information to the reader.

Anyone interested in making wine, beer or spirits, whether at home or professional, will find reading PROOF to be a valuable resource and provoke a great deal of thought. Things to consider will include: what yeast to use, what style of oak barrel or should it be another variety of wood and do hangover treatments work.

PROOF ends with several pages of notes (references,) bibliography and an index.

The author has packed a great deal of information into PROOF but in an interesting manner. I have to admit after reading PROOF once, I am ready to ready it again.

Whether you choose to read PROOF: The Science of Booze from page one to page 264 or a chapter at a time, you will find PROOF thought provoking.


Harvest Festival at Messina Hof Winery & Resort

Each year Messina Hof Winery & Resort in Bryan, Texas celebrates the annual grape harvest in a big way. This year the winery is celebrating its 37th Annual Harvest Festival during August. The last opportunity to participate at the Bryan, Texas location is this weekend. So if you missed the earlier festivities this month, there is still time to participate.

If you can’t make it to the Messina Hof Winery site in Bryan, plan to attend their second winery Messina Hof Hill Country close to Fredericksburg, Texas which is celebrating the winery’s 2nd Annual Harvest Festival on Saturday, August 30. Participants can enjoy wine, food, games harvest, a grape stomp competition and live music.

Each weekend features harvest activities including experiencing a grape harvest, followed by a grape stomp, the Big Kahuna Contest, participants will also receive a souvenir t-shirt, wine tasting classes, dining at Vineyard Cuisine™ on the property. On August 23, the Harvest Grand Finale Gala: Label tribute will take place.

Participants can choose from one of three harvest options on Saturday.

  • Option 1: The all-day package includes picking and stomping, t—shirt and lunch.
  • Option 2 Picking and stomping and t-shirt
  • Option 3: Picking & stomping and lunch

Tickets are available at http://messinahof.com/harvest2014/tickets/.

Messina Hof Winery & Resort’s first winery and tasting room was in Bryan, Texas. Their other location is close to Fredericksburg, Texas.

When you visit Messina Hof Winery & Resort, you will discover the friendliness of Texas.

Below are photos from the 2013 harvest at Messina Hof.


Harvest Festival 2013 Messina Hof Winery

Harvest Festival 2013

Harvest Festival 2013 in Bryan, Texas

2013 Harvest at Messina Hof in Bryan, TX

2013 Harvest at Messina Hof Winery








Disclosure: We have visited Messina Hof previously as the guests of Paul and Merrill B. We have also attended International Wine Tourism Conferences with Paul and Merrill. They are friendly and understand the wine industry and the importance of tourism and hospitality.


Two White Cabernet Sauvignons

Albastrele Blanc de Cabernet (light colored) and my Virginia White Cabernet Sauvignon

Albastrele Blanc de Cabernet (light colored) and my Virginia White Cabernet Sauvignon

We tasted two white Cabernet Sauvignons with friends from Moldova. They brought a 2012 Blanc de Cabernet from Albastrele Winery in Moldova. Our second white Cab was a 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon that we made with grapes from Virginia. Both wines had one similarity, the vintage. After that they were completely different.

The 2012 Albastrele Blanc de Cabernet was a light yellow color. The aroma and taste reminded me of a Sauvignon Blanc although the description of the wine is one made with red Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The aroma offered tropical fruits and citrus. The taste also had citrus and some tropical fruits and there was also a subtle influence of red berry fruit such as strawberries and red raspberries. The finish was crisp. This light-bodied wine was dry with medium-high acidity. The wine sells for $12.99 at The Wine Cabinet in Reston, Virginia. We drank the wine as an aperitif.

081814bAccording to the Albastrele website, a unique method was used to extract the juice from the skins. The juice was then fermented. The light color is the lightest colored white Cabernet Sauvignon that we have tried. In contrast, the white Cabernet Sauvignon that we made from Virginia fruit was orange-colored.  We too began fermentation after the juice was extracted from the skins. Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were destemmed. From the destemmer they were put into a large bin. Since some of the grapes broke open during the destemming, we were able to gather some juice. We then fermented the juice. When the fermentation began, the juice was a dirty light yellow color. After fermentation the wine was a light orange color.

The Virginia white Cabernet Sauvignon was less aromatic. It did have hints of red berry fruit including strawberries. The taste also emphasized strawberries more than the Albastrele white cab. The medium-bodied wine was dry with medium acidity. This wine was paired with grilled pizza that had tomato, basil and parmesan cheese topping.

It is always interesting to try two similar wines from different producers. In this case the two cabs were very different and it was easy to contrast them.

About Albastrele Wines

Albastrele Wines was one of the first privately owned wineries in the Republic of Moldova. The company has 1,000 hectares (2,471 acres) of vineyards. The vineyards are located in the central and southern areas of Moldova and are at the same latitude as the Burgundy region of France. The climate is continental offering mild winters and hot summers.

Albastrele produces a variety of wines including: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Blanc de Cabernet, Lancellotta, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet, Muscat and Traminer. Wine styles vary between dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, sweet. They also produce a sparkling wine, Cuvee Aleksandr.

Website: http://albastrelewines.com


Three Wisconsin Wineries Support Charity Sip & Taste Event


Parallel 44 Vineyard and Winery, Wisconsin supports Sip & Taste charity event

Parallel 44 Vineyard and Winery in Wisconsin supports Sip & Taste charity event

Community Projects for Seniors is hosting a Sip & Taste event in November. The organization located in Wisconsin started in 1986. The focus of the organization is to provide help for the low-income elderly particularly those who live in low-income housing.

Community Projects for Seniors began at Christmas in 1986 by providing 100 meals on Christmas Day. Today the group serves more than 20,000 meals a day. In addition to seeking donations from businesses and individuals, fundraisers help with the costs of the programs.

A Sip & Taste event is planned for November 8, 2014 from 7pm to 9:30pm. The location will be the Marian Center for Nonprofits in St. Francis, Wisconsin. (St. Francis, Wisconsin is on the edge of Lake Michigan. The tag for the city is “Where Your Heart Remains.”)


Local businesses will be helping by donating time and products. So far the participating businesses include:

Find out more about the three participating wineries by reading the Wine Trail Traveler articles based on visits. The articles can be found at http://winetrailtraveler.com/wisconsin/wisconsin.php.

Tickets must be purchased in advance and will be available after Labor Day. Tickets may be purchased in three different ways.

  1. Call 414-444-6544 to buy tickets with your credit card over the phone.
  2. Send a check to Community Projects for Seniors at 3073 S. Chase Ave., Suite 210, Milwaukee, WI 53207. Write ‘Sip & Taste’ in the memo.
  3. Use the Amazon Donation button or the PayPal Buy on the website.

Would you like to help support the Community Project for Seniors by participating in the Sip & Taste event?


Calimyrna Fig with Lavender and Gorgonzola Mousse

St. Francis Winery & Vineyards in Sonoma, California

St. Francis Winery & Vineyards in Sonoma, California

The unusual appetizer recipe below calls for Calimyrna figs that grow in southern California. This recipe is particularly interesting as it uses two wine varieties – a Chardonnay and a Syrah. The wine pairing is a Cabernet Sauvignon.

I suggest reading the recipe all the way through before beginning.  Three separate preparations should be made before everything is put together and served.

Many thanks to St. Francis Winery & Vineyards for permission to add this recipe to the Wine Trail Traveler website.


Calimyrna Fig with Lavender and Gorgonzola Mousse

Serves: 4

Category: Appetizer

Prepare Figs


12 Calimyrna figs
2 cups St. Francis Chardonnay
1 teaspoon lavender
½ cup honey


  1. In a small saucepot, bring the Chardonnay, lavender, and honey to a simmer.
  2. Add the figs and simmer for about 1 hour or until the figs plump up and become soft.
  3. Remove from heat. Cool.



¼ cup Gorgonzola
¼ Chévre goat cheese
A few tablespoons milk


  1. In a blender, purée the Gorgonzola and goat cheese with the milk until smooth but not runny.

Syrah Syrup


1/2 cup St. Francis Syrah
1 cup sugar


1. In a small saucepot, bring the wine and sugar to a boil and reduce to about ½ cup. Cool.

Serving Instructions

Cut each fig in half. Spoon some of the mousse onto each half and drizzle the syrup over each fig.

Pairs With: Cabernet Sauvignon

Recipe provided by St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, Santa Rosa, California

California Wine Appellation Specialist Class

Previous to this summer, I took two online winemaking classes through Washington State University in 2009/2010. In 2007 I took the Intermediate Level of the WSET (Wine and Spirits Trust) class. So it has been awhile since I have taken any wine or winemaking classes. This summer I had the opportunity to take the online version of the California Wine Appellation Specialist (CWAS) class through the San Francisco Wine School.

Vineyard view at Michel-Schlumberger Wine Estate in the Dry Creek Valley AVA of Sonoma County

Vineyard view at Michel-Schlumberger Wine Estate in the Dry Creek Valley AVA of Sonoma County

Of the classes, the CWAS was my favorite. The online version was great and the discussions really added to the class. Back in my days as a lecturer at Towson University, I taught some online classes. I felt then, as now, that online discussions have advantages over face-to-face discussions. In the latter, there is always someone that attempts to hide and not participate. If you want to get credit, you cannot hide online; you have to post to the discussions. Of course there is the concern that some students will post a word or two, but in my experience they seem to write much more than they would ever say in a face-to-face class. Perhaps this is due to the ability to think before you hit the enter key. There may also be a bit of peer pressure involved. It is difficult to write a few words when everyone else is writing paragraphs and essays. A few words stand out. During the discussions, we learned from each other.

Because of the course, I have a much greater understanding of appellations in general and appellations in California in specific. As Kathy and I travel to write about wineries around the world, we can key into the concept of appellations. Also because of this course, we plan to visit many of the Californian appellations that we have not yet visited. For this year that will include Lodi, Clarksburg, Santa Barbara County and its sub-appellations. With almost half of the wineries in the United States located in California, there is much to be discovered.

Vineyards near the Vigilance Winery tasting room in the Red Hills of Lake County AVA

Vineyards near the Vigilance Winery tasting room in the Red Hills of Lake County AVA

While studying appellations, one also studies geography and climate. I have a much better understanding of how some areas of California are cool enough for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, while just a few miles away it is hot enough for Bordeaux and Rhone varieties. Although it did help to be in Lompoc at the beginning of July and notice that pools were vacated in late afternoon and a cool mist was in the air covering vineyards in the morning.

This course as well as the WSET had an exam at the end. I studied for the exam by making flash cards and Kathy helped quiz me. For my next online class I will create all flash cards on my phone. Flash cards were necessary to help memorize many of the important facts. The exam consisted of 100 multiple choice questions. You had 60 minutes to complete the exam. I discovered that I answered all the questions in 40 minutes. I then went back and re-evaluated my responses for a few of the questions. I only made two errors on the exam questions and one was because I did not read it as carefully as I should have.

Eight of the content sessions divided the state into area and the appellations in those areas were explored. This online class could be a model for additional classes that are taught at the San Francisco Wine School. People took the online class from throughout the country. The school offers many more classes, but one needs to travel to San Francisco to take most of the classes. Teaching the class online opens the class up to people from throughout the country. The sessions were a week apart. For eight of the sessions you had to buy two wines and write about them. You actually find yourself enjoying homework.

The class lasted ten weeks including an introduction session and the exam session. Sessions were introduced on Mondays so you could not work ahead of the rest of the class. The pacing of a week provided ample time to synthesis the content and memorize the facts. Cramming the class into a weekend would work for some people, but would overwhelm many others. The weekly pacing fit well.

I hope the San Francisco Wine School would consider offering other classes online. I always felt there is a bit of a gap in wine education in the United States. Not everyone is interested in formal college viticulture and oenology courses. Likewise not everyone is interested in sommelier tracks or master of wine tracks. If you want to learn more about wine especially the appellations in California, consider taking the California Wine Appellation Specialist class through the San Francisco Wine School.


“Wicked Wine Run” Events


Spicewood Vineyards, the site of an October Wicked Wine Run

With a tag line of “RUN wicked. DRINK wine.  ROCK out,” Wicked Wine Run is a series of wine events that feature a 5K wine run, 1K tasting walk, food trucks and live music. Those who participate in the 5K race will celebrate the finish of the race with wine. Those who choose the 1K tasting walk can enjoy wine at the four wine stops along the way. Either way participants will get exercise and wine.

The Wicked Wine Run website suggests that participants may want to, “Wear your most wicked costumes, funky hats, mascarade [masquerade] masks and bring your blankets to lay out and listen to great music, enjoy a wine tasting, take a tour or kick back as the sunsets on our picturesque venues.”

Whether you run for fun or exercise, are new to wine or a serious wine lover, check out the nearest Wicked Wine Run near you. The cost to participate varies but participants can choose to participate in the run, the walk or both. Visit the Wicked Wine Run website to register.

Wicked Wine Runs already has event locations in California, Texas and New Mexico.

Upcoming Wicked Wine Run Events

Date: September 13, 2014
Location: Silverwood Country Retreat
Waller, Texas

Date: September 20, 2014
Location: Lost Oak Winery & Vineyard
Burleson, Texas

Date: September 27, 2014
Location: Del Corazon
Lubbock, Texas

Date: October 4, 2014
Location: Spicewood Vineyards
Spicewood, Texas

Date: October 18, 2014
Location: Jamieson Ranch
American Canyon, California

Date: October 25, 2014
Location: La Vina Winery/Vineyards
La Union, New Mexico

Date: November 1, 2014
Location: Scharbauer Sports Complex
Midland, Texas

Date: December 6, 2014
Location: Haak Vineyards and Winery
Sante Fe, Texas

The list makes one wonder when will the Wicked Run Events reach the East Coast. Which East Coast winery will be the first to participate in a Wicked Wine Run?


Focus on West Virginia Wineries


Historic Dunbar Cellars in West Virginia

Historic Dutch Hollow Wine Cellars in West Virginia

Virginia is a beautiful state with dynamic views of mountains and rough terrain, Travelers  and tourists will discover great views even along the state’s main highways.

The West Virginia wine industry began before the Civil War near Charleston. The first winery, Dutch Hollow Wine Cellars, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, the site is no longer an active winery but West Virginia does have wineries that are producing wines with West Virginia grown fruit.

The determination of wine growers and winemakers producing wines is evident. West Virginia does have wineries producing wines with West Virginia grown fruit.

Although there are not many West Virginia wineries most likely due to the climate conditions, the TTB has authorized three American Viticultural Areas for the state.

The Kanawha River Valley AVA is located only within West Virginia. The Shenandoah Valley AVA is also in Virginia while the Ohio River Valley AVA also includes Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.

Wine varieties include French hybrids, Native American, and fruit wines. Grape growers discovered that planting grapes on the mountain sides works. If planted in the valleys or on the tops of the mountains the vines will not thrive due to the cold temperatures.

French hybrid grapes growing in West Virginia include Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Aurore and Marechal Foch. American Native grapes include Niagara, Fredonia, Delaware and Concord. Visitors to West Virginia winery tasting rooms are likely to discover a variety of fruit wines including apple, peach, blueberry, blackberry and strawberry.

West Virginia is a large state and the wineries tend to be spread out from north to south.

Today the state’s wineries include:

(The highlighted West Virginia wineries provide links to the articles and photos we visited.)

Cascarelli’s Old Country Wine
Daniel Vineyards
Forks of Cheat Winery
Jones Cabin Run Vineyards
Kenco Farms
Kirkwood Winery
Lambert’s Vintage Wines
Martin’s Mist Winery
Mountaineer Winery
Potomac Highland Winery
Roane Vineyards
Robert F. Pliska and Co. Winery
Stone Road Vineyard
Toscano in Appalachia
Vu Ja De Vineyards
Watts Roost Vineyard(Due to the severe weather of 2013/2014 they will close the vineyards but keep the winery open until they have sold their wine. Their focus will be on their Cotswold Sheep Project for meat and artisan wool.)
West-Whitehill Winery
WineTree Vineyards
Wolf Creek Winery

Below is an easy and yummy recipe from Daniel Vineyards that uses BlackBerry Wine. If you are looking for a dessert recipe give it a try.

Blackberry Wine Cake

Blackberry Wine CakeIngredients

Ingredients for Cake
1 box white cake mix
4 eggs
1 c Daniel Vineyards Blackberry Wine
1 box (3 oz) blackberry or black cherry Jell-O
½ c oil
½ c chopped pecans

Ingredients for Glaze
1 c powdered sugar
½ c butter
½ c Daniel Vineyards Blackberry Wine


Directions for Cake
1. Grease and flour bundt pan.
2. Sprinkle nuts on the bottom of the pan.
3. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and Jell-O. Add eggs, oil, and wine. Mix well.
4. Pour into pan and bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes.

Directions for Glaze
1. Mix all ingredients for the glaze.
2. Bring to a boil, and pour half over warm cake.
3. Let it rest for 30 minutes, and pour remaining glaze over the finished cake.


Bellview Winery’s 10th Annual Seafood Festival Ticket Pre-Sale Ends Tomorrow (Wednesday)


Bellview Winery, NJ

Bellview Winery, NJ

Bellview Winery’s 10th Annual Seafood Festival takes place this weekend August 16 and 17. Pre-sale tickets are available for $10 per person until August 13.  After that the tickets are $15. Tickets are available for designated drivers for $10 and those under 20 are free. The entry fee includes wine and cheese tasting, live music (“To the Max Band”) and parking.

In addition, the Annual Seafood event includes:

  • Seafood Vendors
  • Raw bar
  • Craft vendors
  • Sangria

Outside food in coolers is permitted but do not bring your own alcohol. Bringing outside alcohol to any winery is forbidden. During the festival you will want to enjoy what Bellview Winery produces and perhaps purchase a bottle or more to take home.

We visited Bellview Winery a few years ago and had a delightful time. Please check out the article we wrote about the winery.

Belleview is located in Landisville, New Jersey.


info@winetrailtraveler.com            Sitemap                      Privacy Policy

Copyright: Terry and Kathy Sullivan 2006-2013