What's great in wine, beer, fine dining,
places to stay, & places to visit
in California State

Wednesday, 13 September 2017 11:41

Compline Opens in Downtown Napa

Compline owners smallCompline co-owners Ryan Stetins and Matt Stamp

TASTE News Service, September 13, 2017 -- Compline, a combination of wine bar, restaurant and retail wine shop, has opened in downtown in the city of Napa.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016 10:54

Napa Winery Releases Andy Warhol Bottlings

Cuv Warhol 39 RT11 Picmonkey

TASTE News Service, September 14, 2016 - Cuvaison, located in the Carneros wine region of Napa Valley, has announced the Andy Warhol by Cuvaison Collection.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015 13:44

Call of the Vine

Call of the Vine Picmonkey

By Dr. Liz Thach, MW

2014 The Miranda Press

ISBN 978-0971587052

Soft Cover, 367 pages, $19.99

 

There are plenty of books that evoke the beauty and glamour of wine country. Often short on information, but containing gorgeous photography, they look good on a coffee table. Liz Thach’s Call of the Vine is not one of these.

Though wine professionals would be familiar with the names of the ten Napa and Sonoma vineyards the author profiles, few would have actually visited them. For the wine consumer, first-hand familiarity with these vineyards would be even less likely. Information on these gems of California agriculture has been fragmentary and mostly anecdotal.

Liz Thach has initials PhD and MW appended to her name. In addition to her doctorate, the Sonoma State Professor is also an MW or Master of Wine, a degree which is held by just 318 people in the world. You would expect her research to be thorough.  Vineyard specifics and farming practices for each of these famous vineyards are displayed in chart form. This may seem repetitive but does provide a basis for comparison and illustrates that there may be many paths to grapegrowing greatness. While such details may hint at reasons why these vineyards have become recognized as among the best in the world, it’s the human stories the author delivers that give them context.

Though all 10 of these wineries are situated in just two adjacent counties, nature has provided them with very different challenges and opportunities. Farming practices differ in adapting to these conditions. The winemakers and vineyard owners and managers of these notable properties differ in their viticultural (and enological) practices, but all express a respect for nature and regard themselves as stewards of their land.  Some, like Boots Brounstein, who with her late husband Al, planted Diamond Creek in the late 1960s, were present at the creation of great vineyards. Others, like Matt Ashby of Robert Mondavi, are inheritors of a responsibility to maintain vineyards long-known for excellence such as To Kalon, which was first planted just after the American Civil War.

Thach has chosen to tell the story of each vineyard in reprising her initial visit. Conversations with those giving her vineyard tours are recalled with significant points often related via responses to her questions. While they seem more recitations of what the conversations could have been, than verbatim transcripts, they bring the reader a low-key and more personal insight to the actual vineyard practices and to the personalities of those responsible for them.

Though Call of the Vine is illustrated with frequent black and white photos, they’re grainy and fall short of matching the quality of the narration. But this is a book that communicates through the scholarship of its author and her diligence in bringing the reader interviews with vineyard stewards that might not be available anywhere else. It’s a good read for the serious wine fan.

--reviewed by Dan Clarke

Zin Grapes at Heritage Vnyd PicmonkeyRipe Zinfandel cluster at Heritage Vineyard in photo by ZAP

TASTE News Service December 5, 2014 - For the first time in 24 years, four new Zinfandel selections have been named by authoritative experts from UC Davis and Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) Heritage Vineyard Project. The collaboration between ZAP and UC Davis is marking the culmination of 17 years of research to date. The four named Zinfandel vineyard selections are Lytton, Moore, Teldeschi, and George Zeni. Each represents a unique set of research data sourced from historic old vine plantings that are geographically diverse from the other selections, proven to make quality wine based on “small lot” productions and immediately recognizable in the marketplace.

“Since 1997, ZAP’s Heritage Vineyard Project has set a clear direction for the future of Zinfandel. With ZAP’s ongoing support, UC Davis scientists have conducted research to cultivate virus-free Zinfandel material for growers and provide winemakers with grapes that exhibit consistent characteristics and predictable quality results,” said Rebecca Robinson, ZAP Executive Director.

Ravenswood Founding Winemaker and a project founder, Joel Peterson, explains that "The Heritage Vineyard Project gives viticulturists knowledge about the clean material unavailable until now with options to achieve better results in the vineyard and with the wine. At the end of the day, it’s about knowledge, choice and getting results that are more predictably defined."

The UC Davis Foundation Plant Services (FPS), which evaluates and virus-tests rootstock for commercial distribution, had only certified four selections of Zinfandel in 1990. In 2009, FPS released 19 Zinfandel selections from the Heritage Vineyard Project to nurseries. Now, for the first time, the FPS numbers are linked to four of these selections, Lytton, Moore, Teldeschi and George Zeni. “Ultimately, by creating greater diversity, ZAP has fulfilled a primary goal to provide superior clean, documented Zinfandel selections to growers as the basis for future plantings,” Robinson adds. “These named selections represent the history and lineage of Zinfandel that will create the new historic vineyards of California’s traditional variety. Naming also delivers additional context to the selections, providing more information to consumers who are interested in Zinfandel, ultimately enhancing the viability of the varietal,” Robinson continued.

Lytton – FPS 24Ridge Lytton Springs Zin PicmonkeyBeginning with a colorful 19th century captain and evolving into a model sustainable enterprise and historic vineyard, Lytton Springs tells a story of land development, boom and bust, chance encounters, and the rebirth of the wine industry, all reflected in the old vines still standing today. The Sonoma County property originally developed as a resort by Captain W.H. Litton didn’t take advantage of existing vineyards. Not until the land passed through a number of owners over nearly a century was the value of the vineyard truly recognized and its vines- produced fruit coveted by some of the most enviable wineries in the region.

Mark Vernon, Ridge's president, prizes the significance of this vineyard. "We are very fortunate to care for these Lytton Zinfandel vines. Some of them have been producing world-class wine for over 100 years and our mission is to keep them healthy, happy, and productive for another century, if possible."

Today, Ridge Vineyards owns the 69 acres of old vines that exist as a mixed field blend of predominantly Zinfandel with Petite Sirah, Grenache, Carignane, Mataro, Syrah, and Viognier. These provide the backbone and character of Lytton Springs wines. As with each of its vineyards, Ridge takes a straightforward approach, growing intense, flavorful grapes with minimal impact on the land, using sustainable growing practices. The soils in this part of Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County are varied with a predominance of gravelly clay with gravelly clay loam on hillsides. Lytton Springs Zinfandel has a ripe nose of raspberry, plum, pepper and chaparral. Blackberry, mineral and vanilla notes dominate the palate.

Moore – FPS 25Bob Biale PicmonkeyBob Biale Planted in 1905, the R.W. Moore Vineyard remains one of the oldest vineyards in the Napa Valley Coombsville appellation, still flourishing among all the modern-era plantings. Productive for more than 100 years, this vineyard has thrived through a series of stewards, beginning with seafarer Pleasant Ashley Stevens and currently under the watchful care of Bill Moore and his nephew-in-law, Mike Hendry.

In 2009, Moore’s family, Mike and Molly Hendry, decided to start their own winemaking project and asked if Robert Biale Vineyards would like to share the grapes with them. Bob Biale could not have been happier. "The wine from here displays a true sense of place—an identity that is due to its well-drained foothills soil, cool climate, modest rainfall, and good genetics. Small berries, thick grape skins, low yields, and slow ripening are the keys to growing great Zinfandel, and these sturdy old vines deliver it all," said Biale.

The vineyard, with its ten acres of old head-trained vines and prominent red barn, is as iconic a setting as it gets in California viticulture. Zinfandel represents about 95% of the vineyard, with Gamay, Mourvedre, Carignane and Petite Sirah making up the rest. Given the age of the vines, well-draining gravelly loam soils and dry-farming, the vineyard yields an exceptionally low 1.5 tons per acre, leading to expressive wines with intense blackberry fruit, earthy complexity and natural balance that only come with age.

Teldeschi – FPS 10The Teldeschi old vine vineyard features 30 acres of vines planted by the Reiner family between 1913 and 1919 in the gravely clay loam Tuscan Red Hill series soils of Dry Creek bench. The vineyard was purchased by the Teldeschi family in 1946 and has been farmed by them up to the present. The vineyard is dry-farmed and cross cultivated with a plow. It produces on average about 3.5 tons per acre and typically ripens in the first week of September. The ripe grapes have a distinct black cherry, vanilla flavor, deep colors, healthy acidity and moderate tannin.

Ravenswood first purchased fruit from Frank Teldeschi in 1982 and began vineyard designating this wine in 1997. The wines regularly receive among the top scores for Zinfandels in any given year by a broad range of top scoring periodicals. The wine is a traditional California field blend that includes Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Carignane which exhibit the exceptional flavors and aromas that epitomize Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel; rich flavors of sweet cherry liquor, vanilla and smoke that lead to a ripe, dense, long and bright fruit finish.

George Zeni – FPS 26Owned and operated by four generations of the same family, the Zeni Ranch still holds true to many of the traditions of the founder of the family, Eduino Zeni, who planted the first vines in the 1880's. Currently, the three acres of head-trained, dry-farmed old vines feature Zinfandel as the primary varietal. This original old vine portion of the vineyard is owned and managed by Ray Zeni, George’s son, and grandson of Eduino, along with Ray’s wife Jane, and their son’s Robert and Mike.

"The gnarly ancient vines yield sparingly but reward the winemaker most magnanimously. At least, that's what the wine labels used to brag," according to the Zeni family. Producers throughout the years have included: Kendall-Jackson, Edmeades, Ridge Vineyards, and Pacific Star.

Speaking passionately about the Zinfandel grapes growing on top of the ridge, the late George Zeni explained why winemakers such as Jed Steele trekked up the steep and twisting 15 miles to get the fruit from their historic vineyards. “They wanted our mountain grapes...there was more sugar and it’d make a better wine. In fact, they’re still doing that right now. Why do you think Kendall-Jackson comes over here and buys Ciapusci grapes and my grapes? That’s where they get all their gold medals....I must have a dozen gold medals over there....So does Ciapusci.”

Zeni Ranch Zinfandel is perhaps best described by Frank Prial in his 1995 New York Times article discussing the '93 Edmeades Vineyards (Zeni Ranch) Zinfandel: "Mendocino County, and particularly the Anderson Valley, is great Zinfandel country, as this wine illustrates. It's a big-bodied wine with a deep, garnet red color. The taste is intense, and the flavors are concentrated. The wine has power and a long, lingering finish. The oak is a bit forward, but let's face it, oak is where the action is these days. Keep the wine around a couple of years and the oak will blend in. But who's going to keep it around that long?"

Ultimately, that is the question. All the "named" selections today from the famed vineyards, Lytton, Moore, Teldeschi, and George Zeni—are still nourishing vines that are more than 100 years old—still going strong, advancing the legacy of Zinfandel for generations to come, preserving Zinfandel for the future.

Grgich Scholarship winners PicmonkeyCroatian winemaking students pose with Mike Grgich: From left: Daniel Božac, Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, Petra Balažić and Marina Šeparović. Daniel interned at Cakebread Cellars in Napa while Peta and Marina worked at Opolo Vineyards in Paso Robles. Without the knowledge of the selection committee, Petra is also a niece of Ivo Jeramaz, Mike’s nephew and Vice President of Vineyards and Production for Grgich Hills.

TASTE News Service November 21, 2014 – Winners of the Miljenko Grgich Scholarship Fund at the University of Zagreb in Croatia finally met their benefactor in the Legacy Room at Grgich Hills Estate on Tuesday.

Vintners Hall of Fame inductee Miljenko “Mike” Grgich is a graduate of the University of Zagreb’s Department of Viticulture and Enology. In 2013 he donated one million dollars to establish an endowment fund with the Croatian Scholarship Fund in the United States that will provide scholarships to students in the master’s degree program at the University of Zagreb in viticulture and enology. His goal is to help educate future grape growers and winemakers in Croatia so that they may develop a world-class wine industry there. Additionally, the scholarship will provide financial assistance each year to a small number of students seeking internship at a winery in the United States.

Mike Grgich describes his Scholarship Fund “as a way to allow me to say ‘thank you’ to those many people who helped me and at the same time help the next generation achieve their own dreams by starting a foundation for professional wine studies.”

Located at 1829 St. Helena Hwy (Hwy. 29) in Rutherford, Grgich Hills Estate was founded in 1977 by Miljenko “Mike” Grgich and Austin Hills after the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay crafted by Mike outscored the best of France in the now-famous 1976 Paris Tasting.

Today, this iconic winery farms 366 acres naturally, without artificial pesticides or herbicides, and uses its passion and art to handcraft food-friendly, balanced and elegant wines. Mike is assisted by his daughter, Violet Grgich, Vice President of Operations, and his nephew, Ivo Jeramaz, Vice President of Vineyards and Production. For more information, visit www.grgich.com.

Editor's note: If you're planning a visit to the Napa Valley, you might first check out Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. There you will links to the websites of all the Wineries, as well as links to hundreds of nearby Lodging and Dining options.

Mike Grgich in vineyard PicmonkeyMike Grgich at age 90Rutherford, CA March 26, 2014 - Mike Grgich began his life as a peasant in communist-controlled Croatia and arrived in the Napa Valley with $32, his life savings, sewn into the sole of his shoes. He was able to fulfill his American dream first by having his 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay win the 1976 Paris Tasting and then by founding his own winery, Grgich Hills Estate in 1977. A bottle of the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay is currently displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History along with his signature beret, original suitcase and textbooks, and was included in the book “The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects”. For his contributions to the wine industry, Mike was inducted into the Vintners Hall of Fame in 2008.

Grgich established the Miljenko “Mike” Grgich American Dream Scholarship to provide deserving young wine professionals an opportunity to succeed and to honor the adoptive country that has given him so much. His father taught him to “Every day learn something new, do your best and make a friend.” This scholarship helps enable the next generation to achieve their own dreams through a professional wine studies program accredited by The James Beard Foundation. Grgich turns 91 on April 1st, the same date all scholarship offerings will be officially posted on the foundation’s website.

“We wanted to share my dad’s success and legacy in a meaningful way and The James Beard Foundation’s mission and educational pursuits resonate strongly with us” adds daughter and Vice President of Operations Violet Grgich.

Born April 1, 1923, Grgich grew up in the village of Desne on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, where generations of Grgich’s family grew grapes and made wine. His goal of moving to the U.S. was inspired by success stories of self-made Americans like Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller.

Grgich and business partner Austin Hills broke ground in Rutherford to build Grgich Hills Cellar in July 1977 (later changed to Grgich Hills Estate in 2006 after becoming entirely estate grown). The winery continues to receive international awards for its balanced, elegant wines and is recognized as a leader in sustainable vineyard practices. Grgich Hills’ entire acreage is certified organic and the winery has converted to solar power.

Grgich’s contributions to Roots for Peace, an organization founded by Heidi Kuhn and dedicated to the conversion of former minefields into successful grape-growing areas, have helped demine areas in his former homeland. A Croatian TV documentary about Grgich’s life, “Like the Old Vine,” premiered at the Napa Valley Film Festival in November 2012.

Editor's note:  Planning on visiting Grgich Hills or other Napa wineries? In the North Coast listings of Taste California Travel's Resource Directory you'll find links to the websites of wineries, as well as links to websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options.

Thursday, 12 September 2013 11:26

Gayot Guide Picks Napa Cabernet

 

Jana Cathedral Red Wine Picmonkey

Napa Valley, CA -- Gayot, the highly-respected, 44 year old “Guide to the Good Life,” has lauded the 2005 Jana Cathedral, made by Scott Harvey Wines, in two categories. In Gayot's September 2013 feature, “Best Wines for Pairing with a Steak”, the Cabernet Sauvignon received the highest score of all 10 wines highlighted.

“The 2005 Cathedral definitely wows upon entry,” the review begins. “Its intense, concentrated fruit flavors boast plenty of complexity and show an excellent balance of acidity and tannin. Match Cathedral with perfectly marbled wagyu beef or dry-aged Angus steaks.”

Gayot also rated Jana Cathedral among “The Best Cabernet Sauvignons in the World.” Here, they reviewed 76 Cabernets from all corners of the world. Only 5 of the 76 selected received a higher score. The 2005 Jana Cathedral finds itself in very good company, including: Joseph Phelps Vineyards 2006 Insignia, Staglin Family Vineyard 2008 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Duckhorn Vineyards 2004 Estate Grown Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chateau Montelena 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon.

“Receiving these honors is wonderful, of course,” said winemaker Scott Harvey, “but most of all, Jana Cathedral is a fun wine to craft. I believe in crafting Napa Valley Cabernets the way they used to be crafted back in the 1950s and 60s, and that’s at below 14% alcohol with a good lower pH that will make the wine last for years and years. That will also make the wine delicate enough that it will go well with food without overpowering it.”

Jana Winery is named for Scott Harvey’s wife, Jana. The Cathedral label celebrates Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Arizona, where Scott proposed marriage to Jana.

Harvey believes in careful attention to balance in his winemaking. The Cabernet Sauvignon making up 92% of the 2005 Jana Cathedral was sourced from the Martin Vinyeard in the Coombsville area of Napa. “The small crop and berry size allows for full maturity of the grapes at lower sugar levels allowing us to make a true regional and varietal wine at 13.5% alcohol.” Scott, who is European-trained, explained, “This vineyard allows me to produce a Napa Valley Cabernet as a balanced, complete wine.”

About Scott Harvey Wines and Jana Winery:Scott Harvey Wines produces wines under three labels: Scott Harvey Wines, Jana Winery and InZinerator. Established in 2004, Scott Harvey Wines features Amador County Barbera, Zinfandel and Syrah, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, along with a variety of one-of-a-kind white and red wine blends. 2013 marks Scott Harvey’s 40th Harvest. For more information visit http://scottharveywines.com.

 

Oenovideo special award Picmonkey

June 18, 2013, Rutherford, CA – “Like the Old Vine (Kao Stara Loza),” a documentary about how Vintners Hall of Fame inductee Miljenko “Mike” Grgich achieved his American dream, is the winner of the Grand Jury’s Special Award at the 20th annual Oenovideo International Grape & Wine Film Festival in Carcassonne-Minervois, France.

From May 30 to June 2, 2013, judges and festival goers viewed 26 films from 14 countries at this international meeting of the worlds of cinema and wine in the medieval city of Carcassonne, France. Mike Grgich and the documentary’s Director, Milka Bariŝić, will join the other winners to be presented the Cep d’Or Trophy in the French Senate at the Palais du Luxembourg, Paris, France on September 27, 2013.

Mike Grgich gave a tip of his famous beret to thank the jury for picking his documentary, saying with a grin, “Just think, 37 years after the 1976 Paris Tasting, the French once again declare Mike Grgich the winner!”

Mike Grgich cheers PicmonkeyLike the Old Vine describes Mike Grgich’s extraordinary life, achievements and how his “American Dream” became a reality. The documentary also shows some interesting unpublished facts about the 1976 Paris Tasting. Like the Old Vine was filmed by Croatian Radiotelevision in the Napa Valley, Mike’s birthplace in Desne, Croatia, and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., where on exhibit are his signature French beret and a bottle of the 1973 Chardonnay he crafted – the ‘champion’ of the 1976 Paris Tasting. The movie has been shown on national TV in Croatia and premiered in the United States on November 7 at the 2012 Napa Valley Film Festival.

Located in the Napa Valley's Rutherford appellation, Grgich Hills Estate was founded in 1977 by Vintner Hall of Fame Inductee Miljenko “Mike” Grgich and Austin Hills after Mike’s 1973 Chardonnay outscored the best of France in the now-famous 1976 Paris Tasting that revolutionized the world of wine. Today the winery farms 366 acres naturally, without artificial fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides, and handcrafts food-friendly, balanced and elegant wines. Mike is assisted by his daughter, Violet Grgich, Vice-President of Operations, and his nephew, Ivo Jeramaz, Vice-President of Vineyards and Production. A DVD of Like the Old Vine, though not for sale, is available at the winery to customers who purchase six bottles or more at the winery or online. For more information, visit www.grgich.com.

Editor's note: If you're planning on visiting wine country, you may want to check out Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. There you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to websites of all the wineries.

More American luxury travelers would like to tour wine country or go on a luxury cruise than have any other vacation experience, according to new survey of more than 1,200 affluent U.S. households with incomes of $150K+ by Resonance Consultancy, a leading global travel and tourism consulting firm.Mumm Napa Tasting PicmonkeyA glass of sparkling wine at Mumm Napa.

A cruise or a wine country experience, be it in Bordeaux, Napa or Tuscany, is at the top of affluent travelers' dream vacation lists, beating out Broadway shows or visits to rare or remote landscapes, according to the Resonance Report on Affluent Travel and Leisure published in late May of 2013.

The report surveyed more than 1,200 U.S. households with incomes of $150k+ in partnership with The Luxury Institute to evaluate their plans for travel, recreation and the purchase of vacation homes in the next 12-24 months.

37% of affluents said that wine country tours and cruises are the experiences they’d like to have on vacation. 34% said they’d like to attend a Broadway or West End show. Desired experiences showed marked contrasts from there: 33% would like to visit a rare or remote landscape or take a trip on the Orient Express or the Rocky Mountaineer; 31% would like to go to a luxury casino and Vegas show or a safari in Africa.

“The popularity of both wine country and cruising points to very different trends,” says Resonance Consultancy President Chris Fair. “Wine is culture and art, wine is scenery and history, and wine is the best friend of food. It really embodies some of the most compelling reasons that people travel, and some of its most pleasurable experiences.”

“Cruises really speak to the trend in multi-generational travel. They’re an easy way for parents, grandparents and kids to explore a place together...without being stuck together,” says Fair.

Top Experiences of Interest While on Vacation

1. Tour through wine country in Bordeaux, Napa, Tuscany 1. Cruise on a luxury liner such as the QE2 2. Attend a Broadway or West End show 3. Visit a rare or remote landscape (i.e. Antarctica, etc.) 3. Take a trip on the Orient Express or Rocky Mountaineer 4. Trip to luxury casino and attend shows in Las Vegas 4. Go on a safari in Africa 5. Attend a major sporting event (ie. Wimbledon) 5. Take a family vacation to Disney 6. Go on a spa retreat (such as Canyon Ranch) 7. Gourmet cooking lessons abroad 8. River rafting or canoeing adventure 9. Visit a part of the world that is endangered 10. Attend a film festival such as Sundance or Cannes

Resonance Consultancy provides brand development, strategic marketing and planning services to leading travel & tourism companies and organizations around the world. The principals of Resonance have completed more than 100 travel & tourism studies, reports and plans in 65 different countries.

Editor's Note: PRWeb supplied TASTE News Service with information in this article. If you're planning a visit to Napa Valley or other wine region you may want to visit the Resource Directory of Taste California Travel. There you'll find links to the websites of modestly-priced accommodations, as well as luxurious ones.

Saturday, 05 January 2013 21:35

January 13-16, 2017 Napa Truffle Festival

Handful of Truffles Picmonkey

 

Third annual event showcasing the black Perigord truffle. Investigation of the tuber melanosporum will be both academic and gustatory.

Keynote speaker is renowned writer and editor Colman Andrews and other truffle cultivation experts and scientists will make presentations.

Winery luncheons and a concluding grand Truffles & Wine Dinner at Chef Ken Frank's La Toque to be prepared by Michelin Star chefs

 

Region: North Coast     City: Napa    

Contact: www.napatrufflefestival.com

Page 1 of 2