Wine is meant to be shared.
It's the liquid for celebrations, community, and for gathering with friends and family.
I want to acknowledge that all of this has come to a screeching halt.
We all are, to some degree, dealing with Covid-19.
Some are instantly without work. Others are on the front line.
And hopefully, all are making efforts to shelter in place for everyone's health and safety.
It's difficult to be separated from our loved ones and experience this much change at once.
For a piece of bright news, Bay Area wines are, thankfully, still available. At this time, wineries are not allowed to be open to the public for purchases in the tasting room or wine tasting on site.
But winemakers are being creative and resourceful in an effort to keep their businesses--
and to keep sharing their wines with tasters.
If you're still in a place to purchase wine and enjoy it, now is the time.
For a list of wineries and their current offerings and shipping, visit the following links.
The specials will likely vary and change as needed.
Wineries of Santa Clara Valley
The site currently lists their winery options for delivery, curbside, shipping, and specials.
Visit Santa Clara Wines.
Monterey County Vintners & Growers
Find wineries in Carmel, Soledad, and Monterey. Contact the winery directly for current offerings.
Visit Monterey County Wines.
Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrower Assoc.
Find a listing of pick-up, delivery, and discount options by winery.
Visit Santa Cruz Mountain Wines.
Health to you and yours in this time, and a few words of comfort...
God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalms 46:1
A Prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the Lord.
'Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry come to you!' Psalms 102:1
Blessings to you,
Travel from the comfort of you home and snag a few ideas from this Home-Tasting of 3 Reds...
Winemakers gathered to pour and chat about their Monterey County wines.
Georis Wine. Greg Freeman, Winemaker
Explore these seductive wines.
The table was busy, the line of tasters was long. And no wonder.
Georis crafts Bordeaux varietal wines with estate grown fruit from the Cachagua Valley
area of the Carmel Valley.
The three pours of the day were:
Albatross Ridge. Garrett Bowlus, Winemaker
Pet Nat is quickly coming back into wine fashion and is an enticing alternative to Champagne.
The lightly, bubbly, fizzy wine is fresh, approachable, and a wine to enjoy on the deck.
Yet the hint of yeast gives it the elegance to serve during the holidays.
2018 Rose' Pinot Noir Petillant Natural a.k.a Pet Nat, : Estate grown, Monterey.
J.Lohr Vineyards and Wines
Valdiguie', a red varietal to add to your repertoire.
2018 Valdiguie', Arroyo Seco Monterey, estate fruit.
Michael of J. Lohr Wines shared that the Valdiguie' grape is a cousin to Gammy,
sharing earthy flavor characteristics..
Bright flavors and good acid on the mid-palate make for an appealing wine with flavors
of fresh pomegranate and hints of flint.
This wine could be the poster-child for the color “garnet-red” in the dictionary,
or for you design people, the next Pantone color of the year.
A Rose' of its own.
Caraccioli Cellars is known for its sparkling wines, but its Rose' was a stand out in the crowd.
2018 Rose' of Pinot Noir Escolle Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands.
Enjoy hints of lemon, pineapple, and soft watermelon.
Dry, with just a hint of sweetness; sunset blush in color
A local Cabernet for your local foods.
2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Grown, Monterey: flavors of dark cherry and
raspberry are balanced with soft oak, along with hints of spice and green pepper.
Ruby in color.
The generous tasting pours gave me a chance to sip this wine and with food.
It's versatile and would pair will with blackened salmon, lamb, or steak.
I. Brand Family Wines
La Marea...True love.
Vince from I. Brand Family Wines was pouring a Cabernet Sauvignon.
But this time, it was their La Marea 2018 Albarino that caught my attention.
With a nod to the mineral and flint often found in Sauvignon Blanc, this white
varietal evoked feelings of the first of Spring, early mornings, fresh grass and leaves.
Thank you, Monterey County Vintners & Growers, for the invitation to cover the 2019 Winemaker's Celebration! For more on these wineries visit montereywines.org/
Chalone Vineyards. Gianni A. Abate, Winemaker
Wines from an intriguing region.
While Chalone Vineyards crafts beautiful Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, their Grenache is just as enticing.
2016 Grenache, Chalone Vineyard, Estate Grown Heritage Vines, Chalone Appellation.
This wine offered hints of salinity that begged to be served along side paella or cioppino.
Shale Canyon. Keith Prader, Winemaker
Coastal-influenced Tempranillo with just the right balance.
2014 Tempranillo, Arroyo Seco, Monterey County.
The Arroyo Seco area is an ideal growing region for Tempranillo.
It offers heat but is close enough to the coast to keep the grapes from getting too hot.
This Tempranillo is tannic, dry, dark, and lightly syrupy (but not jammy or too sweet.) Enjoy cherry, and spice in this medium-body wine.
A Pinot Blanc to remember
2017 'Il Campione' Pinot Blanc, Carmel Valley, estate fruit.
This lightly acidic white wine gives way to soft florals on the palate,
then to a slightly toasted sweetness similar to roasted marshmallows.
Pair with grilled shrimp or dishes with toasted hazelnuts.
Lepe Cellars. Miguel Lepe, Winemaker & Owner
Don't just think dessert wines for dessert
2016 Petite Verdo, San Antonio Valley, Monterey County.
Today I made two new friends.
Miguel's Petite Verdo, along with a dark chocolate, fuggy brownie. The perfect match!
Think out of the box, and try wine with your dessert.
Sometimes dessert wines can be too sweet, or the flavors may compete with a dessert.
So instead, look to dark reds and creamy white wines to pair with chocolate, nuts, fruits, and cheeses.
Pierce Ranch Vineyards. Josh Pierce, Owner & Winemaker
I'll be back for this Cosecheiro blend!
2016 Cosecheiro, San Antonio Valley, Monterey County: a thoughtful blend of Tempranillo, Malbec, Touriga, Petite Verdot, and Souzao.
I'm always intrigued with Josh's Iberian varietals,
and the chance to expand my notions of local wine.
This wine is smooth with soft acidity and back tannins that make it
inviting on its own—or a companion to a meal.
Monterey County Wines have a good thing going.
They are one of my favorite 'go to' regions.
Always offering flavor, consistency, and that something amazing.
Be sure to check out Wine Enthusiast magazine, June 2019 page 59,
for their shout-out to a handful of Monterey Winemakers!
Cheers to your summer wines ventures & tastings!
For a few tips on wine care, visit my feature on Wine Closures...Keeping a Lid on It
World renown for its superior Pinot Noir and Chardonnay,
Monterey County is home to Carmel-by-the-Sea.
The coastal village is laced with quaint paths that lead to dining, sea vistas, and wineries.
As I walked to the Sunset Center, the slight crunch of the pathway gravel greeted my ears
and I was eager to try other varietals from the region.
At the Annual 'Monterey County Wine Trade Tasting,' hundreds of Monterey County wines
were poured...all with a passion to share the wines of the region.
Highlights of my tasting afternoon...
2018 Sauvignon Blanc, Griva Vineyard. White peach gives way to tall-grassy notes, with hints of ocean saline. I am always drawn to a winery that produces Sauvignon Blanc, one of my favorite wines. It is versatile, fresh, and pairs with the California Coastal food lifestyle. 'KORi' Wines is the partnership between Santa Lucia Highlands grape/citrus grower Kirk Williams & his step-daughter Kori Violini. (from their site.)
2016 Brix Pinot Gris Estate Grown, Camel Valley. The floral notes, and ever-so-slight sweetness would cover a gathering of palates. Light on minerals, it gives a hint of dairy and graham then meets up with tropical flavors.
With 4 Styles of Sangiovese, Emily Hunt is a winemaker to take note of. She's new to the Monterey wine scene and is gifted with creativity in spades. All of her pours were a blend of 75% Sangiovese and 25% Petite Sirah. What's so special about that? Well, she offered a Rose' and three different styles of red wine—all made from the same blend of grapes.
All of the fruit arrived to Emily at once. But she used different production methods and timing to achieved wines with completely different flavor profiles. That's a gutsy undertaking! Some wines were on the skins for 4 hours, others for 6. Some soaked with the stems. One was aged more, another less. Emily's wine mentor and the fruit hail from the Napa area. But her wine is Monterey style through and through.
Hahn Family Wines
2017 Pinot Gris, Monterey County. Soft green melon and fresh floral notes round out this slightly sweeter yet pleasing wine. This white wine is food-friendly without any heavy dairy on the palate.
Winemaker, Bill Brosseau, shares his craft. Testarossa offers wine tasting in their Camel Valley and Los Gatos locations. My light write up offers a peek at the Los Gatos tasting room...'Testarossa, Wine for Collectors & Beginners.'
Windy Oaks Estate
2015 Grenache, Santa Lucia Highlands. This coastal grown 100% Grenache offers a pleasing light to mid-weight mouth-feel. A bit of acidity offers a base for foods, but the wine fitting on its own. Fruit forward, but not jammy.
This family winery is located up Hazel Dell Road, in the Corralitos area. The vineyards cover almost 30 acres. You'll find their tasting rooms in Carmel-by-the Sea and the Carmel Village.
Pierce Ranch Vineyards
2017 Verdelho, San Antonio Valley. Embrace currents of honeysuckle and soft citrus in this white wine. Josh Pierce offers wines that are like a treasure chest. Each one is subtle, then opens up to an arc of flavors and character. Hands down, when I serve Pierce Ranch wines to my guests at home, they always garner a comment of praise!
Other wineries to check out...(pictured above)
Joyce Vineyards, Scratch Wines (staff,) Josh Pierce of Pierce Ranch Vineyards, and
Miguel Lepe of Lepe Cellars. Also, pouring, Rexford Winery.
Thank you, Monterey County Wines, for the Trade Tasting invitation.
For more on the following wineries, and dozens of additional tasting rooms, visit MCVG's site (Link.)
Big Sur Vineyards
2015 BSV Red Wine, Monterey County. Lenora Carey journeyed from being a documentary filmmaker to the owner of Big Sur Vineyards. With Ryan Kobza as winemaker, the first vintage was released in 2013. The Arroy Seco growing region provides the precise weather for BSV's olive trees, essential oils gardens, and vineyards.
Who Attended & Why?
Instead of buying dozens of bottles of wine to try, the restaurant industry
sampled and selected wines in one location to pair with their menu and and customers' desires.
Grocery and market buyers seek out wines to stock and sell in their stores.
Wine publicists and writers come to get a taste of what's current in Monterey.
People are looking for crowd-pleaser wines. And for wines that exemplify a region.
They also seek out the hidden gems. The unexpected wines that someone special will be looking for.
So here's to your everyday wines and
the hidden gems for your special occasions.
Coming up, the Monterey Winemaker's Celebration is a day of wine tasting for new wine fans
and the devoted. For your tickets and more, visit my Wine News post...
Cheese, wine, and chocolate are a friendly trio.
With so many delicious wine and food options,
keeping it simple over the Christmas and holiday season is ideal.
Cheese and wine make for a great starter, or dessert course.
Chocolate and wine, especially red wines, are best friends.
Aged, hard cheeses can be served along side wine and chocolate.
Cheese & Wine Pairing tips for the holidays
...and for 2019!
Brie & Bubbles.
Serve Brie with dry Champagne/sparkling wine. The yeast of the Champagne elevates the
musty-ness of the Brie. Expand the flavors with dried Slab apricots.
Try a Santa Cruz Mountain Champagne style wine...Equinox Wines (link)
locally crafts some of the best sparkling wines!
Pinot Noir & Bleu d’Auvergne.
Sharp and creamy, blue cheese is notoriously good sprinkled over grilled steak.
The tangy cheese pairs classically with a dried cranberry, walnut, spinach and bacon salad.
A Pinot Noir with a bit more body elevates these foods.
Go for a flavor explosion and add dates, honey, and dark chocolate.
Try Morgan Winery's Pinot Noirs (link.)
Chardonnay & Comte'.
One of my new favorite cheeses, Comte'
is produced in large wheels, up to 85-100 pounds.
Enjoy hints of stone fruit, toasted nuts, and cream.
Wrights Station Vineyard and Winery offers 3 local Chardonnays to choose from (link.)
Enjoy a Late Harvest Zinfandel (dessert wine) or Port with dark chocolate.
Try Storrs Winery's Late Harvest Zin (link.)
Or tuck into a glass of Merlot with chocolate cake.
Go for a cool weather Monterey County or Santa Cruz Mountains Merlot.
Bargetto Winery's 2016 Merlot, Santa Cruz Mountains, would be spot on with the cocoa flavors (link.)
Cheeses of Europe
hosted a cheese and wine pairing at the WBC.
Recently my lactose intolerant friend was in Portugal.
Being the gracious guest she is, she ate the local cheese and was fine!
But once back at home, she had difficulty with chain grocery store cheese.
I find that “cleaner” foods (natural, un-mucked foods) work better for our bodies.
Cheeses of Europe served cheeses that were from specific regions,
aged with natural methods, and made with natural, whole ingredients.
Qualities that make for an excellent product.
For recipes and cheese tips, visit Cheeses of Europe.
So find a local cheese producer or look for European cheeses made with all natural ingredients.
You may have success with that...and get back together with cheese!
Pair with Bay Area wines and celebrate the season.
Cheers to your Christmas season and to the love of cheese, wine, and chocolate!
For more flavor profiles, visit my Nose & Palate page and taste away!
Join me at California Wine