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Valdubon Cosecha 2012 from Spain

Last week we received a surprise, a bottle of Spanish wine. We were excited as a couple of months ago we had participated in a tasting of Spanish wines in Washington, DC, which we had enjoyed.

We opened the bottle this week to share with our daughter who was home visiting us. The Valdubón Cosecha 2012, with 13 percent alcohol, was produced with 100 percent Tinta del País (Tempranillo.) The wine was a dark opaque purple with a pinkish rim. The aroma was intense with notes of cherry and cedar. The wine was dry with cherry notes and tannins. Suggested food pairings include Italian sausage, grilled hamburgers and grilled mushrooms.

The Valdubón Cosecha 2012 was imported to the US by Freixenet USA and is reasonably priced.

The Bodegas Valdubón specializing in Tempranillo was established in 1997 near Milagros, Spain. The Valdubón vineyards are primarily located in the Ribera del Duero in the villages of Milagros and Roa.

When contemplating a trip to Spain, plan a visit to Bodegas Valdubón. The winery offers two types of visits. Contact the winery for more information.


Valdubon Cosecha 2012

Valdubon Cosecha 2012

1. Standard Visit description:

  • Winery visit
  • Tutored tasting of four wines
  • Time: 1 ½ hours
  • Cost: 10 Euros per person

2. Educational Visit Description

  • Winery technical visit
  • Option to visit vineyards
  • Detailed tasting of range of red wines
  • Written technical specifications provided
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Cost: 30 Euros per person

Bodegas Valdubón also offers facilities for conferences, breakfast and business lunches.

For more information check out the Valdubón website.

Cheers, Kathy


Cement Suitcase Interview with Writer-Director, Rick Castañeda

041514aWe are always interested in watching movies that take place in wine country. Cement Suitcase takes place in Washington’s Yakima Valley. Several scenes were filmed at Airfield Estates Winery. We visited Prosser and Airfield Estates. We were intrigued to see a setting where we have been in the movie. This is an email interview with writer/director Rick Castañeda.

Wine Trail Traveler: When did you first become interested in wine? Describe the event, reason, tipping point, etc.
Rick Castañeda:
I grew up in Granger, WA, and my parents have some lifelong friends that live in Seattle who used to travel three hours to visit us and try out some of the local wineries. One of them, Eaton Hill, was a winery I had never noticed before, even though it was on my bus ride from school every single day. So it made me wonder, what was so special about wine that it could drag someone all the way from the other side of the state?

Wine Trail Traveler: How has your personal wine journey evolved since you first became interested in wine?
Rick Castañeda:
One of the reasons I wrote the movie was in order to learn more about wine. I knew next to nothing when I started, so writing a movie about a tasting room manager was very intimidating. But it was such a great excuse to learn.  I started drinking more wine, visiting wineries and going to tastings, and also asking questions, both to experts, and to my family and friends who were wine lovers. It was a wonderful time of my life.

I found that having a passion for wine is a lot like a passion for music. Before you start listening to country music, you think that it all sounds exactly the same. Then you start learning the difference between bluegrass, and honky tonk, and rockabilly, and it just gets deeper and deeper. The same thing is true for wine. In the Yakima Valley alone there are more than 50 wineries, so it’s something you can explore almost infinitely.

Wine Trail Traveler: Do you have favorite wines and wine regions to visit?
Rick Castañeda:
Of course I’m partial to the Yakima Valley, Columbia Valley, and Red Mountain in Washington state. What I really like is how unpretentious and friendly everyone is. But as I live in Los Angeles now, visiting the Santa Barbara region is really wonderful, and as a film buff it’s fun to visit the locations from the film Sideways.

Wine Trail Traveler: Why did you select Prosser, WA and Airfield Estates for the setting for the winery and tasting room?
Rick Castañeda: My brother and I stopped in at Airfield Estates on a trip back home for my brother’s bachelor party, and I remember I thought it had a great look and feel to it. The use of wood and glass in their tasting room is very cinematic. I also found out on that trip that one of the owners was a girl I knew in high school! So Airfield was always in the back of my head while I was writing the script. I knew I couldn’t be married to it, and I had a few backups, but when I asked Airfield they were very enthusiastic about it, and I couldn’t have been happier.

Wine Trail Traveler: Did you experience and tasting room staff that acted like Franklin on his good days?
Rick Castañeda:
Dwayne Bartholomew (the lead actor who plays Franklin) and I took a trip to Washington in order to scout a few locations, and get a feel for the area. Dwayne was also exploring his character a bit, and wanted to see how wine tastings went there. We found some real characters. Some told dirty jokes, some had created a tasting schedule for food/wine pairings, and others had a personal story to share with each different wine. The ones that we liked all had a way of connecting with us personally, almost immediately, and that’s something I wrote into the movie, and something Dwayne wrote into his character.

Wine Trail Traveler: In some scenes, the actors are holding their wine glasses by the stems. In other scenes, they are holding the bowls. In a scene with Franklin, he holds the stem, then from a different camera angle he is holding the bowl. Currently I am at an International Wine Tourism Conference. The vast majority of individuals hold the stems. Your film has more scenes holding by the stem than most films. Why do filmmakers consistently film what some in the wine industry would say is the incorrect way to hold wine glasses (the bowl)?
Rick Castañeda:
One thing I’ve found out about people, is they generally do what they want to do. People generally enjoy wine the way they want to enjoy it, so I never legislated to our extras how they should hold their wine glasses. If I did, it would have been inauthentic, because our extras weren’t paid actors – they were actual customers of Airfield. And Franklin, of course, is a bit of a rebel, so he would do whatever he wanted to anyway. But as for other movies? Probably for the same reason that the heroes in action movies usually don’t practice the gun safety that we should use in real life.

Cement Suitcase is available on Video on Demand from many outlets including iTunes and Amazon. Check the Cement Suitcase website for additional sales opportunities.



Cement Suitcase

041514aOne can be the ultimate salesman, but when things fall apart and one reaches the bottom, there is only one way to go and that’s UP. Moving up bears its own challenges.

The movie takes place in Washington’s Yakima Valley and portrays the main character, Franklin, played by Dwayne Bartholomew, at his best and at his worst. Franklin has been buffeted by numerous life events including the death of his mother, the unfaithfulness of his girlfriend Charlene, played by Kristina Guerrero, the bank sending past due payment notices for the house mortgage and more.

The best of Franklin’s life happens at the Airfield Estate Winery where he is a remarkable tasting room manager. He has many of the characteristics necessary to sell wine. He is personable and can relate to everyone who comes into the tasting room. People who come into the tasting room and meet him always leave smiling and buying wine.

However, in the tasting room he also encounters problems including trying to work with the owner’s daughter. Franklin’s work ethic when not engaging customers leaves little to be desired.

A drifter from Australia, Jackford played by Nathan Sapsford, arrives and works his way into Franklin’s life in both good and bad ways. He rents a room, which helps Franklin to pay a part of the mortgage for a while; but he also breaks a memento of Franklin’s mother. Jackford also encourages Frankford to leap out of his comfort zone and handle the consequences creatively. How would you diffuse a loaded shotgun aimed at you?

Should Franklin stay and deal with all of his problems, which are weighing him down like a Cement Suitcase or should he leave and search for himself unhindered by the past?

After visiting more than 1,000 wineries and tasting rooms, we carefully watched as Franklin worked his charms in the tasting room. It was obvious his friendliness and communication with customers was leaving a wonderful lasting impression on visitors. Franklin engaged Airfield Estate’s visitors and rather than reciting a monologue about the wines he included the wine enthusiasts with dialogue. This is a lesson all tasting room staff worldwide need to learn. In the movie, there was every indication visitors to Airfield Estates would remember this winery, thus creating wonderful wine ambassadors for the winery.

Winery owners and tasting room staff would benefit from watching Franklin, during his better moments, at work in the winery.

Cement Suitcase is available on Video on Demand from many outlets including iTunes and Amazon. Check the Cement Suitcase website for additional sales opportunities. Watch for tomorrow’s post, an interview with Cement Suitcase writer/director Rick Castañeda. To learn more about Airfield Estates read the WineTrailTraveler article.


Kathy and Terry

Grilled Pizza With Prawns, Cherry Tomatoes and Arugula (appetizer)

Cakebread Cellars, Napa Valley

Cakebread Cellars, Napa Valley

With warm weather here or quickly approaching, take time to enjoy pizza cooked on the grill. I love pizza cooked on our outdoor grill. It seems to be lighter tasting and with a freshness that one does not get with a traditional pizza. Whether you are home for Easter or Spring break or enjoying a glorious day or weekend at home, you will be sure to enjoy the flavor of a pizza cooked on the grill. The recipe below is from Cakebread Cellars located in Napa Valley.

Cheers! Kathy

Grilled Pizza With Prawns, Cherry Tomatoes and Arugula (appetizer)

Serves: 6
Chef: Brian Streeter (Cakebread Cellars)
Suggested Wine Pairing: Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley


Pizza Dough

2½ c all purpose unbleached flour
2 c durum flour
1 pkg. dry yeast
2 tsp salt
1 T olive oil
1¾ c water, about 75 F

Tomato sauce

2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1½ lbs ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 sprig fresh basil
Kosher salt


2 T extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch chili flakes
1 lb large prawns, peeled, deveined, and cut in half lengthwise
¼ c Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc
1 T flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 c cherry tomatoes, halved
10 oz mozzarella cheese, grated
¼ c fresh basil, chopped
1 c arugula, washed and dried


Pizza Dough

  1. Mix together all the ingredients, except the water, in bowl of a heavy duty electric mixer, with the dough hook attachment.
  2. Add the water and mix until dough pulls together and forms a ball.
  3. Remove from work bowl and finish kneading by hand on a lightly floured work surface, until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
  4. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside and allow to rise until double in volume, about 1 hour.
  5. Punch down and divide into 6 balls. Set on a floured sheet tray, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to make pizza.

Tomato Sauce And Toppings

  1. To make the tomato sauce: Combine the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 1 minute.
  2. Add the tomatoes, sprig of basil and a pinch of salt. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until thick.
  3. Pass though a food mill or leave as is for a rougher consistency.
  4. Peel the prawns, devein and slice in half lengthwise.
  5. Heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic and chili flakes together in a large nonstick sauté pan over high heat. Add the prawns and toss to evenly coat in the oil. Add the white wine and parsley and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the prawns become opaque, stirring frequently. Set aside.
  6. On a floured surface, flatten a ball of dough using the palm of your hand. With your fingers or rolling pin work the dough into a thin round disk.
  7. Brush surface with olive oil and place on the grill, oil side down. Cook for approximately 1-2 minutes to brown the underside.
  8. Brush the top side with olive oil and using a pair of tongs, turn the pizza over. Working quickly spread a little tomato sauce over the pizza. Top with a handful of cherry tomatoes, the prawns and the grated cheese.
  9. Place the lid on the grill and cook for 1 to 2 minutes to brown the underside and melt the cheese on top.
  10.  Remove from the grill and tear some basil over the top as well as a small handful of arugula.
  11. Cut the pizza into slices and serve, and then continue making pizzas with the remaining dough.

Recipe provided by Cakebread Cellars in California

9th Annual Destin Charity Wine Auction Weekend

According to the 9th Annual Charity Wine Auction website, it is considered by Wine Spectator Magazine to be one of the top charity auctions in the United States. The auction is always held the 4th weekend in April. This year the events are scheduled for April 25 to April 27.

The Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation notes, “Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation’s mission is to connect wine enthusiasts to raise money to benefit children in need in Northwest Florida.”

The charities that benefit from this wine auction include:

  • Children in Crisis
  • Children’s Volunteer Health Network
  • Emerald Coast Autism Center
  • Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center
  • Food for Thought
  • Habitat for Humanity of Walton County
  • Horizons of Okaloosa County
  • Opportunity Inc.
  • Pathways for Change
  • Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast
  • Shelter House of Northwest Florida
  • Youth Village

Weekend Events Include

Friday, April 25
Patron and Restaurant Dinners

Saturday, April 26
Reserve Tasting & Silent Auction
Live Auction
After Party and Concert (optional)

Sunday, April 27
South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival

For tickets and details about the wine auction and the various charities it supports visit the 9th Annual Destin Charity Wine Auction Weekend website.

Cheers! Kathy

Birthday Celebration Continues 10,461 km Away Continued

The sparkler lit birthday cake caught Kathy's attention

The sparkler lit birthday cake caught Kathy’s attention

We had dinner in Tbilisi at Tabla. This was our last dinner before catching an early flight to Istanbul and back to the United States. Several media members already left as well as tour operators; however, there were still enough members left that attended the International Wine Tourism Conference a few days earlier.

Georgians know how to surprise you in a big way. Kathy was unexpecting when the lights went out. Candles were lit, still unexpecting. Then several people at our table lit sparklers, still unexpecting. It wasn’t until a cake came with large sparklers breaking the darkness that Kathy knew this was a well wish for her birthday. And then there was the confetti that shot off target and covered an adjacent table. It didn’t take the little children long to play on a confetti-filled floor. They enjoyed gathering up as much as they could and throw it on the person next to them.


040314dCongratulations, hugs and kisses abounded. Our last night in Tbilisi featured white and red qvevri wines and of course Chacha. The red Saperavi went well with the birthday cake.

We wish our Georgians friends God’s blessing and a huge thank you for their attention to making this a special day for Kathy.


Birthday Celebration Continues 10,461 km Away

040214gSometimes it’s hard to celebrate a birthday away from friends and family. That may even be sadder if you are 10,461 km (6,500 miles) away from home. That is unless you are in Sakartvelo, the country Georgia. Here, visitors are treated as guests. This is our second visit and we are treated like family.

Unexpectedly on our bus ride of the International Wine Tourism Conference media group from Signaghi to Tbilisi, a chorus of Happy Birthday broke out. Then Kathy was greeted at the Tbilissi Marriott with a “happy birthday” from the receptionist. An unexpected knock on the door revealed a birthday cake from the hotel. This is Georgia!

We usually spend over 30 days a year in hotels. The Tbilisi Marriott deserves special praise. Their staff make this an incredible hotel. This includes all their staff: reception, cafeteria, bellboys; everyone will go the extra mile to make your stay something special. This was a wonderful venue for the International Wine Tourism Conference. Kathy is pleased with the unexpected attention she received on her birthday so far away from home.

Happy Birthday Kathy,

Opening Our Qvevri Wine

Terry and Gela remove sand covering qvevri lid.

Terry and Gela remove sand covering qvevri lid.

We returned to Twins Wine Cellar in Napareuli six months after starting a qvevri wine. The Rkatsiteli grapes fermented and remained on its chacha (grape skins and seeds) until April 1, 2014. During the six months the wine aged and natural filtration took place in the qvevri.

When we arrived the surface of the qvevri was covered. There was a layer of black sand over the covering. Gela Gamtkitsulashvilis, one of the twins that owns the winery, helped me clear away the black sand. It was a bit dry, so water was added to moisten it. That cut down dust particles that were airborne. A brush was used to brush the sand into a corner to make it easier to remove.

040214bTerry then grabbed the slate covering and lifted it. There was suction between the lid and the qvevri so it took a bit of force to lift the cover. On the reverse side of the qvevri a ring of clay could be seen. This clay formed a seal between the slate cover and the top of the qvevri.

After the qvevri was opened, clear wine was noticed at the surface. Several inched below the surface, you could see the chacha. With a wine glass, I stirred the surface and then put wine into the glass. The first taste of our qvevri wine, well I forgot. Caught up in the moment, I did not reach for pen and paper to take notes. I do recall that it had a light gold color, flora aroma and taste with some fruit character and mild tannins. It was a lighter body than other qvevri wines and the tannins were milder. Many people in the media group seemed to like this. We did not put any stems in the qvevri when we made this wine so we did not get the darker color, more body and harsher tannins that other white qvevri wines have. There is a wide spectrum of white qvevri wines and our was extremely palatable.

040214dKathy and I posed for photos with both owners Gela and Gia Gamtkitsulashvilis. I then proceeded to take glasses, give the surface of the wine a gentle stir and fill with a tasting for each of the media group and Twins Wine Cellar staff. Then we started bottling the wine. I went straight to the corker, a device I have had plenty of experience using. Labels were placed on the bottles and signed by the Gia and Gela and myself. The qvevri only produced 13 bottles of wine. Kathy and I took six and Tamta took three. Tamta helped us harvest the grapes and make the wine last September. The owners and a staff person took three bottles and one bottle mysteriously disappeared. I expect an over exuberant member of the media decided to help herself. Kathy and I plan to use our bottles when we have classes that teach about Georgia, the Birthplace of Wine and qvevri wines.

Gia, Kathy, Terry and Gela celebrate opening of qvevri.

Gia, Kathy, Terry and Gela celebrate opening of qvevri.

Terry collects a tasting of the qvevri wine for members of the International Wine Tourism Conference media and Twins Wine Cellar staff.

Terry collects a tasting of the qvevri wine for members of the International Wine Tourism Conference media and Twins Wine Cellar staff.

The experience of harvesting Rkatsiteli grapes, cleaning the qvevri, sanitizing the qvevri, putting the grapes in the qvevri and finally opening it was extremely valuable. We will share this experience over and over with our readers and during our classes.


What We Missed at Kindzmarauli Marani

There are a few of us in the International Wine Tourism Conference media group that enjoy Georgian Chacha. Most of the wineries have stills of various shapes and sizes. We were running late on our Kakheti tour yesterday and did not have a chance to see the distillery at Kindzmarauli Marani. This is the largest still that we have seen at a winery. Enjoy!


Still at Kindzmarauli Marani

Still at Kindzmarauli Marani

Alaverdi Monastery Has Heart

Cordons tied in a heart shape

Cordons tied in a heart shape

We visited Alaverdi Monastery and noticed the small vineyard on the way to the marani. The vines were pruned and tied in a heart shape. This pruning method was new to us and we speculated as to why it was shaped and tied. Two cordons were tied to the post about eight inches above the trunk. They were then looped around and tied again about 20 inches towards the bottom. This creates a heart shape.

Vineyard, September 2013

Vineyard, September 2013

I thought back to last September, when Kathy and I previously visited. I did not recall the vines in a heart-shaped pattern. The vines appeared to be in a column. Others in our group seemed to recall seeing vines tied in this heart-shape.

Winter and early spring are times to discover the architecture of the vine. Once covered in green, it is difficult to see the structure. A vineyard is wonderful to visit during all seasons as it changes. Perhaps I should try this heart-shaped tiring on a couple of my vines.


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