This past Sunday, I hopped into my semi-gas friendly Honda Civic with three of my girls and trekked through the Sebastopol Farmer’s Market to make my way through West County. Our mission was to Celebrate Earth Day in Green Valley. Yes, the official Earth Day is this Wednesday, but who does a wine tasting event on a Wed other than me?
This year the theme was “Low Key, Low Impact” and five different Russian River Valley Wineries (aka pinot-yumminess) opened their tasting rooms to the public and held free earth-friendly exhibits, food pairings and tastings.
The first stop was at Iron Horse Vineyards where we were greeted by 80 degree heat, delicious sparkling wines, my favorite wine radio host and Sonoma County wine queen – Ziggy the Wine Gal and the owner of the winery, the “earth mother goodness” herself – Joy Sterling. My favorite part of the Iron Horse event was the art exhibit which focused on re-cycled art, made from re-claimed, re-purposed, re-imagined materials. I will have to say part of my reasoning for this was because it was in the bottling room and the only way to get away from the heat!
Lukka Feldman of Barn Diva was in charge of the salt (and popcorn) tasting which including a chunk of salt that Joy brought back from the Himalayan Mountains. The winery’s head chef Ruben Gomez served a spring vegetable soup with bread from Wild Flour Bread in Freestone. The chocolate from TCHO chocolate paired perfectly with the Iron Horse Chardonnay. According to Joy, “The Citrus chocolate is from Madagascar and has a distinct lively citrusy zing that crazy as it sounds is delicious with Chardonnay.”
After our amazing experience over at Iron Horse, we made our way past the redwoods and Russian River Valley vineyards to Harford Family Winery, where I wasn’t able to have the same interaction with the owner and winemakers (though I would love to in the future).
This didn’t stop my friends and me to gush over the pairing of their Four Hearts Vineyard Chardonnay along with some Melon Shooters. At first I was a bit hesitant to try because I think of either sparkling wine or a Sauvignon Blanc is best paired with any sort of fruit, but this pairing was perfection. I even advise the people at Harford to have that pairing as part of an everyday tasting experience, maybe even let people know the recipe on their site.
Dutton-Goldfield and Balletto Vineyards was our last stop because we wanted take their 2:30 tour of the Laguna de Santa Rosa, Sonoma County’s watershed, wildlife preserve that can be found in their backyard. Of course getting four girls to get anywhere on time hardly ever works, so we were about 10 minutes late. Not that I minded because we got to spend more time drinking their Pinot Noir. While Balletto’s Pinot is a great every day wine, Dutton-Goldfield’s had a range of Pinots that any wine drinker would love. My personal favorite, as well as the tasting room staff’s recommendation was the 2006 McDougall Vineyard Pinot Noir.
Okay, maybe the only “green” part of my experience was the melon shooters and my green eye shadow, but it is nice to see a West County event that was a perfect balance of really good wine and food along with education without it being forced down your throat.
April 20, 2009 | Categories: "Sonoma County", Social Networking, vegetarian food, wine | Tags: "Sonoma County", Balletto Vineyards, Dutton-Goldfield, Earth Day, Green Valley, Harford Family Winery, Iron Horse Vineyard, ttl | Leave a comment
Last night was the Twitter Taste Live Rhone event, put on by the Hospice du Rhône, the World’s Largest International Celebration of Rhône Variety Wines and Sondra at Estate, an amazing new Italian restaurant in Sonoma, Ca.
Toting itself as the largest #ttl event that has taken place, the party at ESTATE brought in a huge crowd. Twitters, both old school and new to Sonoma to try Rhone varietals and eat, mac and cheese. If you take a look at the list below you will see many newbies that don’t even have a picture uploaded. Either way, it is great seeing new people join Twitter (especially if they didn’t join because of the whole annoying Oprah and Ashton Kucher craze), drinking wine… and socializing.
Let me know if I missed anyone!
Gratuitous iPhone, mac and cheese and wine shot .
This new Facebook format has brought on a abundance of brands jumping into this social network to create Brand Pages… This has it’s positive and negative impacts. The negative being that there are possibility too many choices of brands out there for Facebook users to become “fans” of. The positive part of this is that the brands that put forth the extra effort will stand out.
Case in point: Ben and Jerry’s
This is a brand that I already have a deep connection with. Phish food has been a part of some of my favorite college memories, eating a whole pint of it in the parking lot of Safeway or Vons with a friend when the occasional case of the munchies hit.
They have been one of the brands with the largest fan base since as far back as I started paying attention (almost a year and a half) and now you are able to participate with Ben and Jerry’s and Facebook on their own website. With Facebook Connect you can post your favorite flavors on your Facebook Profile, letting all your friends know which flavors are your favorite.
Why do this? Well, it is all about your personal relationship with the brand. The most memorable brands are the ones that people feel a personal connection with. I will argue til I am blue in the face that Phish Food is the best flavor, and even though I do not have a personal preference of which winery truly has the best Pinot Noir, I have been known to get into arguments over which varietal of wine is the best and will go to any winery that makes a Pinot.
Which brands do you feel you have a “personal” connection with?
There is a reason that chocolate and wine are a perfect pair. Both are two of my favorite items to consume. Both enhance the flavors of anything that either is paired with. Both start off as a fruit (cacao beans or grapes). Both are products of their environment, and if grown with the proper care, it is a fairly simplistic process to create the final result. As Erik Olsen at Kokomo Winery stated in an interview with The Wine Spies, his wine making philosophy is to “try my best to keep my own personal thumbprint off the wines I make. Instead, I try to make wines that show the terroir or convey a real sense of the place where they were grown. I want the fruit and the vineyard to really shine through.”
At the Wine 2.0 Expo last Thursday, I met up with a few folks at TCHO chocolate. They were the one of the only non-alcohol related brands at the event and it was a welcomed booth at the wine/technology event. Back when I was working with Scharffen Berger on their pr efforts, I took a great interest in the story of TCHO.
It is a new chocolate brand that started last year in “beta” form, meaning they sent out samples of their chocolate in plain brown packs to members of the media and bloggers. No fancy packaging or gimmicks – just quality chocolate. It was such a great PR move in my eye. A bit of mystery about the brand before releasing it to the public is a gutsy move on their part and thankfully they have quality chocolate to back it up. It is simple chocolate without any added flavors and currently comes in 4 different varieties. Each with it’s own characteristic. Chocolaty, nutty, fruity and citrus.
Now, they have a great new high-tech design (TCHO 1.0), a retail location in San Francisco and can be found in many different tasting rooms and gourmet shops in Sonoma and Napa Counties (including Jimtown and the Cheese Shop in Healdsburg). Go to TCHO IS to see TCHO’s philosophy, it is a fun read.
They are branching out into the wine and technology world so it is logical to see them at Wine 2.0, which was created as a mixture of both. I look forward to seeing TCHO 2.0* and them diving more into the social media world where they are a perfect fit with the bacon loving blogger crowd!
*I think I may know of someone who would love to help… Cough, cough… Amy and team.
A winery that really stood out for me at the Expo was Round Pond Estate, a Napa Valley winery out of Rutherford. With a few limited-production varietals and handpicked fruit, olive oils and red wine vinegars, they are the type of family owned Napa winery that I can respect. The wine was made to respect to the fruit and the vineyards, same with their olive oils.
Miles MacDonnell, who runs the winery, is the reason that I even visited the booth in the first place. He was right next to the Titus booth and he asked me to “stick my finger out.” Honestly, how could I not listen to this guy? He placed a drop of the Estate’s Myer Lemon Olive Oil on my pointer finger and poured me their 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. I was shocked that the combination of the lemony olive oil and the cherry cab actually paired very well together. The cab mellowed out the tanginess of the lemon and vice versa. Both products were very clean tasting, with no heavy, lingering aftertaste. The pairing was a great treat, especially considering what usually happened when people ask you to pull their fingers.
Tastings are by reservation only, so if you are headed out to Rutherford, give them a call.
Once again, the Wine 2.0 boys threw a great party. I met so many wonderful new contacts and Twitter friends via the plasma screens streaming tweets all night. I do look forward to the next event and the continuation of the fusion of wine (food) and technology through social media and beyond.
Now, I am hungry!
April 12, 2009 | Categories: Social Networking, Twitter, vegetarian food, wine | Tags: chocolate, Crushpad, Erik Olsen, Kokomo Winery, Round Pond Estate, TCHO, wine, Wine 2.0 Expo, Wine two | Leave a comment
It is one thing to call yourself a wine blogger and write about various consumer wine tasting events like Barrel Tasting. It is a whole different story to be asked to attend wine blogger specific events and get a self guided tour from the vineyard manager of one of the top wineries in Napa Valley. Add in good friends, new contacts, some chocolate & cheese and this was the ultimate wine blogging weekend…. The only problem: Too much to write about! I am definitely not complaining here, having too much to write about is never a bad thing. I learned so much from each event that it will take me a while to type up my thoughts so below is a short write up of each even before my thoughts become irrelevant:
Thursday April 2nd was the Wine 2.0 Expo at Crushpad in San Francisco. It was my second encounter with the Wine 2.0 guys (the first was at ZAP) and my first time at Crushpad and it was a blast. Being a newbie to the wine event scene, I had no idea that Crushpad was a huge warehouse that can hold over a thousand people. I was amazed at that the room was to hold over 800 wine/technology loving people. The expo was held to showcase some of the “emerging companies and wineries that are reinventing how wine is made, marketed or sold.” This included many different wineries, mostly from Sonoma, Napa and Paso Robles, a few wine tech companies and one innovative chocolate company. Cornelius Geary, CEO of Wine 2.0 even gave me the official Wine 2.0 Flip camera to videotape part of the evening… More info and maybe even a video to come about my highlights of this event.
Saturday April 4th was Bloggers Day at St. Supery winery in Rutherford, Ca. Wine bloggers from all around the Bay Area visited the winery for some wine, food and of course some socializing. Going into this day not knowing anything about the winery, it was definitely nice to get a guided tour of some of the vineyards from their Vineyard Manager, Josh Anstey. Everything from the croissant (and bacon) pairing with the Sauvignon Blanc to the wine tasting upstairs to the lunch under the oak tree out in front was just perfect. I left with a better feeling about this Napa winery (yes, I am a Sonoma County girl with a deep passion for her home county). I was given few parting gifts and much more is to be said about this day, so look for more info soon.
The St. Supery team and the wine bloggers.
To top this weekend off on Sunday April 5th was maybe the most exciting event of the three. I was able to participate in the Passion for Pinot Summit, an all day pinot event put on by Barbara Drady of the Affairs of the Vine. Thea Dwelle (aka @winebratsf) invited me to be one of the blogging judges of this blind pinot noir tasting. Me, a judge in a pinot tasting… Could life get any better? The top 44 pinot noirs from all over the world, chosen in a previous blind tasting from a professional tasting panel (more about Blind Tastings in another posting to come) were covered up and assigned colors. Over 300 guests, writers, bloggers and industry professionals tasted and chose their top favorites. The winners can be found on Barbara’s blog post about the event. My observations on the type of pinot noir’s that I gravitated to are coming up in another blog post as well.
I lushed it up this past weekend and I wouldn’t want my life to be any other way….
April 6, 2009 | Categories: "Sonoma County", Social Networking, Twitter, vegetarian food, wine | Tags: "Barrel Tasting", Passion for Pinot, Pinot Summit, St. Supery, Wine Bloggers, Wine two event | 2 Comments
Since you can only read article’s from Media Post if you are a member (sign up for free here, I promise you will not be disappointed) I want to copy and paste an article I read about the trend of trading-down with wine and beer. (more…)
Anyone following me on Twitter knows that my favorite wine varietal is pinot noir. As my Barrel Tasting posting stated, “It wasn’t until I discovered this varietal that I started drinking and loving wine.” It has been an inspiration as well as my “gateway drug” into other bolder wines, like a yummy Petite Verdot, a sometimes overpowering Syrah or my recently love for Malbec’s (all thanks to Mounts Family Vineyard & Kokomo Winery).
The Wikapedia article on these grape states:
Pinot noir (IPA: [pi.no.’nwaʁ]) is a red wine grape variety of the species Vitis vinifera. The name is derived from the French words for “pine” and “black” alluding to the varietals’ tightly clustered dark purple pine cone-shaped bunches of fruit.
Being lighter in style, it has benefited from a trend toward more restrained, less alcoholic wines. Robert Parker has described pinot noir in Parker’s Wine Buying Guide:
“When it’s great, Pinot noir produces the most complex, hedonistic, and remarkably thrilling red wine in the world…”