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Steps of Preparing Our Qvevri for Winemaking

A small qvevri from the country of Georgia

A small qvevri from the country of Georgia

Despite our busy schedule in support of wineries and vineyards, we have continued working on the small qvevri we brought home from the country of Georgia after our spring visit to Tbilisi for the International Wine Tourism Conference.

We purchased a small qvevri in the hope that we would be able to bring it home safely on the long air flight.  We were fortunate as it did not crack even though it was placed in checked baggage.

Over the past few months we took several steps necessary to producing good wine and also preserve the qvevri.

Our first step was to heat the qvevri in our kitchen oven (which we had to adapt) for the qvevri to fit. At the same time we were warming bees wax in a saucepan. Eventually the bees wax became a translucent color. With a simple paintbrush, we painted the inside of the heated qvevri. The honey seals the pores of the clay walls and honey also has some anti-bacterial properties that help to preserve the wine.

Wrapping wire around qvevri

Wrapping wire around qvevri

The next step was to wrap a thick but bendable wire around the qvevri to help protect it while it is in the ground.

 

 

 

 

 

Applying a thin layer of mortar to the qvevri

Applying a thin layer of mortar to the qvevri

The same with the special mortar mix we used on the outside of the qvevri that will help prevent tree roots and other soil movements from cracking the qvevri. The wire grid made it possible to easily spread the mortar.

 

Qvevri is carefully placed in the ground

Qvevri is carefully placed in the ground

This past weekend we inserted the qvevri into the hole just below ground level and packed soil around it. Terry laid a circumference of bricks around the top layer that will eventually be cemented in place with more mortar mix.

Next step is locating a few gallons of wine grapes or juice with the skins.

Cheers!

Kathy

3 Cocktail Recipes from a Winery at the Old Sugar Mill

A couple of weeks ago while we were in California visiting several different wine regions, we stopped by the Old Sugar Mill close to Sacramento. One of the wineries we visited was Rendez-vous Winery. While visiting Rendez-vous in the renovated brick sugar mill building we picked up several recipe ideas with permission to post. Below are three cocktail recipes. The first recipe uses a bottle of Champagne or Prosseco.

Enjoy!
Kathy

Balsamic Cocktail Raspberry Peach Belini

Ingredients

1 bottle Champagne or Prosecco
½ lb Raspberries
1 T Sugar
Heavy dash (up to ¼ c) White Peach Balsamic

Directions

1.Muddle balsamic, sugar and raspberries.
2. Pour small amount in bottom of Champagne flute, top with Champagne.

Balsamic Cocktail Strawberry Balsamic Daiquiri

Ingredients

¼ c ice
½ c sliced strawberries
4 T Light Rum
½ t Strawberry Balsamic

Directions

1. Blend all ingredients with a blender and serve in a sugar rimmed glass and garnish with basil.

Balsamic Cocktail Berry Smash

Ingredients

1 ½ oz Tequila
½ c blackberries
¾ oz cherry balsamic reduction
2 oz lemonade
1 oz soda water

Directions

1. Muddle (crush) tequila and berries.
2. Add ice, reduction, lemonade and shake.
3. Strain over ice and top with soda water and mint.

Rendez-vous Winery at the Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg, California

Flight Home with Wine on Delta

092614aAfter 16 days on the west coast it was time to fly home, write articles and rest a few days while researching Cava producers for our next long trip. I always like to try the wine on mid-day and evening flights. Fortunately, Delta likes to change things and I seldom get the same wine unless i’m on two flights on the same day. We had lunch on the first leg of our flights home from Portland. Both Kathy and I selected a salmon salad with a white wine. The wine was an Elmgrove Estates 2012 Chardonnay. The yellow colored wine had 13% alcohol. The wine reminded me of pears with a hint of citrus and caramel. The full-bodied Chardonnay had a refreshing finish.

The salmon salad had a small piece of salmon (over cooked), green beans, potato pieces, hard boil egg pieces, red onions, olives and greens. The crisp acidity of the wine paired well with the salad as well as the cheese that was a side for the lunch. The cheddar and brie also paired well with the Chardonnay.

On our last leg home, the flight was delayed because we did not have a flight crew. They were delayed in another city. We kept watching the status monitor and our 20 minute delay turned into 25 minutes then proceeded to about 45 minutes. Actually this is good timing. The last time I flew this route the delay for the Baltimore flight was five hours. I need some wine.

Since I had white wine for lunch I decided to go with red wine for dinner. Delta was serving a 2011 Rindleway Zinfandel. The translucent dark red wine was 13.8%alcohol. The wine offered blackberry, black cherry, spices and leather. For dinner I had a southwest chicken salad. The cilantro in the salad added spice and earthiness to the dish. The spice from the wine was more of a baking spice like cloves and cinnamon. If I were serving just the salad I would have gone with a white wine. There was a maple oatmeal cookie for dessert. The Zinfandel matched well with the cookie since the spices were similar.

Cheers,
Terry

Searching for a Bit of Sakartvelo in America: Kargi GoGo

 

092514bKargi GoGo is a food cart in the popular Washington St. food court in Portland Oregon. Owners Sean Fredericks and McKinze Cook spent two years in the country Georgia in the Peace Corps, immersed in the food culture.

We decided to have a Georgian meal for dinner and ordered khinkali, khachapuri and badrijani. My son also made fish, for our dinner, a Georgian staple that also accompanied most lunches and dinners we had while in Georgia. Kathy decided to make a cucumber and tomato salad. We picked up a few items at the local Whole Foods including a Rkatsiteli from a winery in Kakheti in Eastern Georgia.

During the noon time rush, there was a stream of customers ordering from the Kargi Gogo food cart.

During the noon time rush, there was a stream of customers ordering from the Kargi Gogo food cart.

Kargi Gogo food cart is opened daily from 11:00 am until 4:00 pm. At the time of our noon visit, there were a steady stream of customers. A tour guide stopped by the cart and ordered khinkali for the walking tour group he was leading. He pointed out the Portland food cart scene as well as traditional Georgian food. Our order arrived and we headed to our son’s house. The 10,000 kilometer distance between us and Sakartvelo was lessened as we ate dinner reminding us of our two trips to the country, the food and the wines.

Badrijani and Khachapuri

Badrijani and Khachapuri

Khinkali and tomato, cucumber salad with walnuts

Khinkali and tomato, cucumber salad with walnuts

If you are interested in viewing photos of these food that we took while in Georgia follow the links:
Khachapuri
Khinkali
Sides

Cheers,
Terry

Dinner at a Winery Taproom

092414aPortland, Oregon has one of the best food scenes in the country. Last evening we had dinner at Cooper Hall Winery & Taproom. Most of the building in the Central Eastside Industrial District is used for the winery including production area and space for barrels and tanks. At the time of our September visit, workers were finishing destemming red grapes. The destemmer/crusher is small and can be lifted and placed over a tank used for fermentation.

Adjacent to the winery production area, there is a sizable section used for a restaurant. In the restaurant section there is a bar and behind the bar there are dozens of taps for different wines.

Coopers Hall Winery taps

Coopers Hall Winery taps

Tanks with wine and hoses to taps.

Tanks with wine and hoses to taps.

 

Some of the wines are from Coopers Hall Winery. The winery sources fruit form Oregon, California and New Mexico. They have a selection of red and white wines. Also on tap are guest taps from mostly the United States but also a few from outside the US, sparkling wines and dessert wines. Behind the bar and taps, hoses from the taps lead to pressurized tanks that hold the wines.

Patrons can sample the wines in a two ounce pour, or buy the wine by the glass or carafe. I decided to try three wines by the two ounce pour, ideal if you want to taste the wines. A Cava caught my eye since we are headed to Spain to specifically taste Cavas. I tried the Torre Oria Cava Brut, an inexpensive Cava that is widely distributed. The yellow wine was served in a tasting glass resembling a smaller version of the O glass by Riedel. There were no bubbles present by the time the sparkling wine reached the table, although I perceived effervescence while in the mouth. Perhaps the restaurant lighting was too dark to perceive tiny bubbles, or the sparkling wine in the pressurized tank lost some of its fizz. The Cava was still good and offered apple, citrus and mineral notes.

I decided to try a Coopers Hall 2011 Pinot Noir Willamette Valley AVA. The translucent dark ruby colored wine ordered leather, raspberries and pepper with mild tannins. The wine had a medium-body and was crisp. It paired well with the Charcuterie Plate. For dessert I selected a Baltimore Rainwater  from Portugal. This Madeira was a dark gold to orange color and had jammy cooked fruit characteristics. The wine had the typical oxidation associated with a Madeira.

The advantage of the wines on tap is the ability to taste a particular wine without opening a bottle. The disadvantage is that customers have no labels to view. Perhaps the restaurant could create bottle shots and print them or place them on an iPad and online. Customers could then look at the labels for whatever they want to gather from the label such as alcohol level and grapes used in the wine if that was not obvious.

Cheers,
Terry

Dinner Theme

092314aWhen we visit our family in Portland, Oregon we often have at least one dinner that has a theme. This year’s theme was Octoberfest. German sausages were grilled and the beer flowed, for the beer drinkers. I was asked to select wines for the wine drinkers that would be in the group.

We started with a bubbly. I poured a Diehl Riesling Extra Trocken that delighted both the wine drinkers and beer drinkers. This was a nice cleansing wine to start. The fizz was floral and  apple. There were large amounts of bubbles initially on the pour, then very few after a moment. The wine was quite dry. Most of the people that tried it liked it and had a second glass of the sparkling wine.

For most of the appetizers, I selected a Gewürztraminer from Alsace. Although not a part of Germany today, the wine went well with different German cheeses. The 2011 Gewürztraminer had a dark yellow color with 14.5%. It was floral especially orange blossoms and also offered yellow stone fruit. The medium-bodied wine was dry with a mineral finish. The wine also matched well with a German curry sausage.

Our third wine was a 2011 Zweigelt. This dark ruby colored wine from Pratsch Dark had 13.0% alcohol. It had notes of spice and dark fruits especially blackberries and plums. The wine had mild tannins and a medium-body. It matched well with the the German sausages. The German sausages and sauerkraut were purchased from Edelweiss Sausage & Delicatessen in Portland. Different styles of pretzels were purchased from Fressen Artisan Bakery, a German bakery also in Portland.

Cheers,
Terry

Do Airports Make a Difference for Wine Travelers?

Sacramento International Airport has floor tile representing the Sacramento River.

Sacramento International Airport has floor tile representing the Sacramento River.

I don’t usually associate airports with wine travel, but perhaps I should. In recent visits to Napa Valley and Sonoma, Lake, and Mendocino Counties, we have flown into San Francisco. This time we changed things up a bit and flew into Sacramento. The experiences at each airport are vastly different.

San Francisco International Airport is crowded. Sacramento International Airport is not crowded. It took us a long time at SFO to retrieve our luggage, find the train to rental cars and then take the train to rental cars. At SMF our luggage was easily retrieved, just a short walk from the gate, then we walked outside and caught a bus to the rental car building about a five-minute drive. The process of exiting the aircraft to driving out of the rental car lot was less than a half hour at the Sacramental airport while over an hour at the San Francisco airport.

But to many people, this isn’t an issue. After all, there are many more flights from around the world that fly into San Francisco than Sacramento. How about the drive to wine country from the airport? From the San Francisco airport we generally take Rt 101 north eventually crossing the Golden Gate Bridge after getting lost in the city. There are ways around this, though by taking Interstates such as I 80 then heading north into the Napa Valley. The roads are crowded around San Francisco. In contrast, it is extremely simple to exit the rental car are in Sacramento and drive onto I-5. Around the airport the traffic was sparse in the mid-afternoon. If you do not like crowded airports and roads, then you should consider flying into Sacramento.

We had another reason to fly into Sacramento, though. On the day of our arrival we visited Matchbook winery in Zamora less than a half hour from the airport. There was little traffic on the way to and from the winery. On our second day, we visited wineries in Clarksburg.

We spent our first couple days within a half-hour drive of Sacramento International Airport, before driving for two hours to Lake County, then onto Napa Valley. For future visits to the area, I’ll be more likely to fly into Sacramento since I enjoyed the drive to the wine regions better than I do when flying into San Francisco.

Cheers,
Terry

Visit the Kelseyville Pear Festival and Stay to Visit Lake County Wineries

A view of Clear Lake

A view of Clear Lake

The Kelseyville Pear Festival takes place September 27, 2014. Kelseyville is in Lake County, California an area known for pears and wineries. The first Kelseyville Pear Festival took place in 1993. The first vineyards were planted in the 1800s.

This year the Pear Festival includes:

  • Third Annual Horse Faire
  • Parade
  • Dessert Contest
  • Restaurant Pearing
  • Quilt Show
  • Fine Arts Show
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Music
  • Food
  • Antique Tractors and Unique Engine Exhibit

If you can stay in the area longer, then be sure to check out some of the Lake County wineries. We have visited Lake County wineries three times with our last visit a few days ago. Articles from our earlier visits are online at http://winetrailtraveler.com/california/lakecountyregion.php.

Note: Since our visit to Ceàgo Vinegarden, the winery  has closed the tasting room while continuing the vineyards.

If planning to visit wineries, check ahead to find out if an appointment is necessary.

Cheers!
Kathy

The Old Sugar Mill Is now Home to Several Wineries

Visit the Old Sugar Mill wineries in Clarksburg AVA

Visit the Old Sugar Mill wineries in Clarksburg AVA

The Old Sugar Mill is now been transformed into a home for several California wineries and tasting rooms. If you live in Sacramento, don’t miss a visit to the renovated mill. Undoubtedly you will want to return.

The mill is located only a few minutes from Sacramento. After traveling through a couple of quaint towns, travelers will come to a unique bridge crossing the Sacramento River.

History of the Old Sugar Mill

The tall, brick building was originally built in Utah for beet sugar. It was dismantled and brought to the Clarksburg area where it reopened in the mid 1930s. The final ownership of the sugar mill was Delta Sugar who closed the mill in 1993.

Eventually plans were made to renovate this large brick structure for uses including winemaking, tasting rooms and events.

Current tenants in the Old Sugar Mill include:

Old Sugar Mill near Sacramento, CA

Old Sugar Mill near Sacramento, CA

  • Rendez-vous Winery (winery and tasting room)
  • Heringer Estates (winery and tasting room)
  • Elevation Ten (winery and tasting room)
  • Merlo Family Vineyards (tasting room)
  • Three Wine Company (winery and tasting room)
  • Clarksburg Wine Company
  • Carvalho Family Winery
  • Due Vigne di Famiglia
  • Todd Taylor
  • Draconis

In addition the Old Sugar Mill has a co-op wine facility that includes the usual winery press pad, tanks and oak barrels.

Events at the Old Sugar Mill

An atrium between two brick segments of the mill provides an area that is ideal for events. Watch the website for information about the numerous events sponsored by the Old Sugar Mill and the individual wineries. Some of the events include: Port Wine & Chocolate, Wine, Cheese & Bread Faire, Wine & Mushroom Experience Bacon Fest and more.

Old Sugar Mill
35265 Willow Ave
Clarksburg, CA 95612

Dunnigan Hills AVA in California

Vineyards in Dunnigan Hills AVA, California

Vineyards in Dunnigan Hills AVA, California

Dunnigan Hills AVA, located in Yolo County California is home to several vineyards including Matchbook, R H. Phillips Vineyard and Route 3. A variety of grapes can be discovered growing in this area including Chardonnay, Syrah/Shiraz, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Montepulciano, Petite Sirah and Tempranillo/Valdepenas.

The land of gently rolling hills appears dry but the hundreds of acres of vineyards thrive with irrigation. The climate is similar to the Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot, dry summers.

Yesterday we had the opportunity to visit Matchbook in Dunnigan Hills AVA. The winery and more than a thousand acres of vineyards is located an easy 20 mile drive from the Sacramento airport. Matchbook is having a soft opening of their tasting room at the winery in October.

For visitors flying in and out of Sacramento on their way to Napa Valley, the Matchbook Winery tasting room will be a great place to stop and taste wines. We discovered the wines to be easy on the wallet.

Watch for news about the opening of the Matchbook tasting room in Fall 2014.

Cheers,
Kathy


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