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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.


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.


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.


An Apple and Wine Pairing Experience at a Country Market

Apple, peach honey appetizer at Das Peach Haus, Texas

Apple, peach honey appetizer at Das Peach Haus, Texas

Country stores and markets can offer a surprise when visiting them. Each one is unique and I enjoy looking over the variety of fruits, vegetables and other unusual and sometimes one of a kind items to be found. Some country farm markets have wine available and others produce their own wines. Don’t miss the recipe at the end of the blog for an apple and peach honey appetizer.

In Illinois, Eckert’s Belleville Country Store hosts wine pairings. On September 11 they are hosting their first apple and wine pairing. The event includes a wagon ride in the orchard that includes wine tasting. After the trip to the orchard, participants return to the market classroom for apple appetizers paired with wines. A focus will be on profiles of different apple varieties. Tickets are $30 and registration is available online at http://eckerts.stores.yahoo.net/wiapinorthse.html.

A few other country markets we have visited and discovered wine at are below with links to the complete articles.

Fly Creek Cider Mill, New York

The Fly Creek Cider Mill, located in Fly Creek, New York, is more than your average cider mill – it is a historical attraction with a diversity of flavors and activities. Visitors can purchase apples and sweet cider, sample hard cider and wine, stock up on gourmet food items, enjoy a meal at the snack bar and bakery, and feed the ducks in outdoor ponds. The facilities’ most popular products include apples, cider, cheese, and fudge.” Read more at http://winetrailtraveler.com/newyork/flycreekcidermill.php

Terhune Orchards, New Jersey

“Terhune Orchards is much more than a large orchard. Today Terhune Orchards has acres and acres of orchards, a large farm market and is moving into the wine world step by  step. In 2014 Terhune Orchards includes growing and maintaining vineyards and producing fruit and traditional wines.”
Read more at http://winetrailtraveler.com/newjersey/terhune.php.

Orchard Country Winery & Market, Wisconsin

“With a large farm market, wine tastings and a sip of cider, Orchard Country Winery & Market has much to offer visitors. A pleasant part of the tasting room ambiance is the attention by the staff. Visitors will experience a working family farm with pick your own fruits, homemade products and seasonal festivals. During our visit we met Carrie Viste, one of the owners and managers of the winery. In an email she wrote, “Our family business is a true working farm with opportunities to see the grounds, harvest the fruit and taste award-winning products made from those same fruits-the healthy door county cherry being the highlight.” Read more at http://winetrailtraveler.com/wisconsin/orchardcountry.php

Sliced Apples and Peach Honey Idea

A few weeks ago while in Fredericksburg, Texas we came across a delightful appetizers at the Das Peach Haus. It’s simple and easy to prepare.

Apple and Peach Honey Appetizer


Thinly sliced apples (Do not peel)
Peach Honey
Grated Parmesan cheese


Drizzle Peach Honey over the sliced apples.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Serve with a delicate white wine and enjoy!

Article about Das Peach Haus is online.


Central Oregon Vineyard Event Supports Cancer Research Center

Usually when we think of wineries in Oregon we consider Willamette Valley and the Columbia Gorge areas. However several wineries are also located in Central Oregon. Wine lovers will find Faith, Hope and Charity Vineyards and Events Center in Terrebonne, Oregon about a 2.5 hour drive from Portland. The Vineyards and Events Center is a bit unusual as they are in the process of creating a resort on 315 acres.

In addition to hosting a variety of private events they also feature public events. On Sunday, October 12 they will host their 2nd Annual Central Oregon Wine Stomp: Crush Cancer. A 5k and 10k race is planned. A celebration after the event will include wine, food and music.

Tickets are $35 a piece prior to October 3. After that date the tickets will be $40. Participants will receive a special t-shirt, wine glass and the first beverage of wine or beer. Tickets are available at select area Bend businesses and online.

Proceeds from this fun event will be donated to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

The climate of the area means Faith, Hope and Charity Vineyards are growing hybrid grapes that can thrive in the shorter season. Grape varieties in the 15 acre vineyard include: LaCrescent, Vignoles, Marechal Foch, La Crosse, Frontenac Gris, Traminette, St. Croix, Leon Millot and Marquette.

The Central Oregon Wine Trail started by Cindy Grossmann runs from Bend to Terrebonne and includes six stops. Wineries included are Cork Cellars, The Open Door, Volcano Vineyards, Naked Winery and Maragas Winery. A map is located on the Faith, Hope and Charity Vineyards website.


Should the Special Anniversary Have Celebrated with Italian or Swiss Wine?

At one time, I considered traveling to Switzerland to discover what the Swiss wine industry has to offer. I put it on the back burner for a while.

However, the idea came back to me as I read an article on Wine-Searcher, “Swiss Air Force Drops a Bomb Over Italian Wine.” It seems that the Swiss are very proud of their wines. Most winemakers are very proud of the wines they produce. Winemakers keep an eye on their wines just like parents do their children.

In brief, the Wine-Searcher article is about how the Swiss Air Force aerobatic team celebrated its 50th anniversary by giving their staff Italian wine. Obviously some if not all of the Swiss industry has been offended.  Click the link to the article and find out what wine was given to the Swiss staff and the reaction.

For me, I’ll have to ponder visiting Switzerland again. I think it would be a wonderful experience to taste and write about the grape varieties and the wineries of Switzerland. Then again I wouldn’t object to a return visit to Italy!


Quiche á la Coquard Recipe with Prairie Fumé Wine

Barrels at Wollersheim Winery in Wisconsin

Barrels at Wollersheim Winery in Wisconsin

Yes, wine is produced in Wisconsin. We visited Wisconsin a few years ago and in addition to cheese discovered some delightful wineries to visit and write about. One of the largest wineries is Wollersheim Winery in Prairie du Sac which also offered us a wonderful experience. Don’t miss a visit to Wollersheim Winery if you have the opportunity.

Below is a recipe for Quiche á la Coquard from Wollersheim.

If you make the quiche and want to send a photo of it to be added to the recipe, please do.


Quiche á la Coquard

INGREDIENTS: For the Crust

½ cup margarine, cut up
1 ¾ cups flour
1 egg
1 tablespoon cold water

INGREDIENTS: For the Filling

1 ¼ cups milk
¼ cup Prairie Fumé wine (semi-dry white wine)
3 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup chopped ham (optional)
1 cup chopped leeks, sautéed
1 cup grated Cheddar or Swiss cheese
Options to add: Prairie Fumé Cheese Spread, sautéed vegetables

PREPARATION: For the Crust

  1. Place ingredients in food processor or mixing bowl. Mix until a ball is formed.
  2. With hands, spread over the bottom and up the sides of a 10-inch quiche dish or suitably sized pie plate.

PREPARATION: For the Filling

  1. Beat milk, wine, eggs, salt and pepper.
  2. Sprinkle ham, sautéed leeks and cheese over the dough.
  3. Pour egg, milk and wine mixture over the dough.
  4. Bake at 375°F for about 45 minutes until top is lightly browned.
  5. Allow to cool at least ten minutes before serving. Can be served hot or cold.

MAKES: 6 to 8 servings

Recipe provided by Wollersheim Winery in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin


Like Wine? Make Your Own Wine at a Winery in 2014

If you want to be a “winemaker” at a winery this year, it’s probably a good idea to contact the winery of your choice as grapes are being harvested now. Wine lovers who want to learn more about how wine is made and want to have a sense of ownership in winemaking can do so at several wineries around the country. On the East Coast several wineries offer winemaking opportunities at their facilities.

In Maryland, Tin Lizzie Wineworks in Clarksville offers winemaking options that include.

  • Quarter Barrel
  • Half Barrel
  • Full Barrel

Participants can choose the grape variety and from three different winemaking packages.

  • Premium Winemaking Package
  • Super Premium Winemaking Package
  • Ultra Premium Winemaking Package
Vint Hill Craft Winery, Virginia

Vint Hill Craft Winery, Virginia

In Vint Hill, Virginia, Vint Hill Craft Winery offers several possibilities for winemaking.

  • 2014 Full Barrel (Vintner Program)
  • 2014 Half Barrel (Associate Vintner)
  • 2014 6 Cases (Vintner Petit)

Vint Hill also offers an unusual Barrel Owner Program. According to their website, “$1000.00 buys a barrel that we ‘borrow’ for 4 years. 1 case of wine is included each year that we are borrowing the barrel. Free tastings for the barrel owner and 1 guest are included for the 4 years. Custom designed plaque for the barrel.”

Beneduce Vineyards in Pittstown, New Jersey, offers a “complete package” that includes: approximately 275 bottles of wine

  • Winemaking equipment usage
  • American oak barrel rental
  • Winemaking additives
  • All bottles, corks and capsules
  • Stock labels
  • One year Winemaker’s Club membership

For an additional price, participants can choose to help with the harvest at Beneduce Vineyards, an in-depth vineyard tour and a picnic lunch.

Home winemakers will like what Fulkerson Winery has to offer. Fulkerson is a winery in Dundee, New York located along Seneca Lake. The winery offers another option for winemaking. In addition to being a winery, Fulkerson sells grape juices during September and October. Those who are purchasing red varieties have the option of obtaining the grape skins. The winery also sells crushed whole fruit destemmed directly into your container.

Visit the winery website and give them a call if you want an experience to remember. We have visited all four of these wineries and written articles with photos about each one. Check the articles out.

Beneduce Vineyards: http://winetrailtraveler.com/newjersey/beneduce.php
Fulkerson Winery article: http://winetrailtraveler.com/newyork/fulkerson.php
Tin Lizzie Wineworks: http://winetrailtraveler.com/maryland/tinlizzie.php
Vint Hill Craft Winery article: http://winetrailtraveler.com/virginia/vinthill.php

Cheers, Kathy

Visit the Vintner’s Collective in Napa Valley

The Vintner’s Collective in Napa Valley has survived since 1875. Last month’s earthquake did some heavy damage to this 19th century building; however, they will be able to rebuild. According to their Facebook page, until the building is repaired they will operate around the corner at their office/warehouse.

Check out this special: The ReBuilding 3 Pack

 ”We love our building… the 1875 treasure that is filled with memories of great times! The early reports from engineers who have visited indicate that we can rebuild! To celebrate, we’d love to give you one of our 3 packs with the image of our building for free as a keepsake. Just pay the shipping and we’ll send it your way!

If you would like to purchase 3 bottles of wine for your 3-pack, we will use the profits to rebuild, which includes giving a portion to Mike Black, who owns our building and has been a great friend to us over the years. Thanks for supporting us!”

More information about The ReBuilding 3 Pack  is available at https://www.vintnerscollective.com/e/v/9dac22bf76755ee3.

The old Pfeiffer building in Napa, California has stories to tell from its beginning in 1875 through 2014. The building was built with stone by Bavarian Philip Pfeiffer who wanted a brewery. In 1879 Gotthelp Barth purchased the brewery and expanded it.  Two years later in 1881 a fire  destroyed the expansion. The brewery was stopped and turned into the Stone Saloon. A brothel for the well-to-do occupied the second floor of the saloon.

Beginning in 1918 the building was occupied by different businesses and at one it served as a home.  Other business since 1918 have included: an Italian grocery, Fred Peper  Saloon, Betterchix Hatchery, Sam Key Laundry and Andrew’s Meat Co. In 2002 the Vintner’s Collective took over the premises.

At first glance it might seem that with all of the wineries in Napa Valley a wine shop would be overlooked. However, the Vintner’s Collective offers Napa Valley wines from wineries where appointments might be required or wineries that may not have their own tasting rooms.

The Vintner’s Collective is open 11am to 6pm every day. The wine shop has four tasting to choose from.

  • Enthusiast Pathfinder (no appointment necessary) $10
  • Connoisseur, Scout             (no appointment necessary) $30
  • Collector, Explorer            (appointment only) $65
  • Aficionado, Trailblazer (appointment only) $95

The list of wineries working with   the Vintner’s Collective include:

  • Ancien Wines
  • Azur
  • Big Boy Cabernets
  • Buoncristiani
  • Clark-Claudon Vineyards
  • D Cubed
  • Flanagan
  • Gemella Wines
  • JC Cellars
  • Krupp Brothers
  • Lamborn Family Vineyards
  • Las Bonitas
  • Longfellow
  • Melka Wines
  • Mi Sueño Winery
  • Parallel
  • Richard Perry
  • Roy Estate
  • Tela
  • Tournesol
  • Vinoce

The next time we visit Napa Valley we hope to stop by the Vintner’s Collective.



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