Thursday, March 31, 2011

Beer for Wine Lovers: Duchesse De Bourgogne

Let's face it, we can't always drink wine (we may want to, but even us wine lovers need to spice up life with cocktails, scotch on the rocks, and sometimes even, beer).  I often find people who are so opposed to trying a different alcohol-based beverage, that they limit themselves to a wide variety of fun beverages.  What I mean to say is - there's a wine for beer lovers and a beer for wine lovers.  :)  

750 mL bottle of Duchesse De Bourgogne
(Photo from Google Images)

One beer that is often recommended for wine lovers is the Duchesse De Bourgogne.  It's a Red Ale containing a higher than normal alcohol level: 6%.  It has that oak twist, as it's matured in oak casks for several months (much like many red wines in the New World style).  Fruity, oaky, and chocolately -- much like an aged Cabernet.  :)  It's slightly pricier than your average American Pale Ales, but well worth it if you can't seem to enjoy other beers.  If anyone has tried this beer, I'd love to hear your comments!  Please post below.  :)

(Check back regularly for other beer suggestions for wine lovers.)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What's in My Glass Wednesdays! 2008 Merlot 'Rutherford' by Frog's Leap Winery

After speaking to Frog's Leap Winery this past Monday, I thought it only appropriate to highlight a very good wine that they produce: the 2007 Merlot (Rutherford).  I really enjoyed this wine - in the tasting room and having a bottle here at home with dinner.  It's a great medium-bodied red: not to heavy, not too light!  

I love as you pop open these bottles, you're greeted by an entertaining cork (I'm a big fan of themes):
Frog's Leap Winery Bottle Corks
(Photo by author)

FROG'S LEAP'S 2008 Merlot
Frog's Leap Wine Label

The D-2010 Scale 
2007 Merlot by Frog's Leap Winery (Rutherford, Napa Valley, CA)
Appearance (10 points possible): Medium red color density, brick edges, clear. - 10 points
Aroma/Bouquet (20 points possible): Ripe black cherries burst from the glass with this wine.  Slightly earthy, smoky, bacon fat, and slight cherry pie reminiscence. - 18 points
Taste (10 points possible): Medium-bodied entry, black cherry flavors, crisp acidity, which really freshens up the wine, full-bodied mid-palate with cocoa notes and ripe tannins.  Finish is smooth and lingering with black cherry flavors.  There is a slight metallic note, probably from Brett. - 8 points
Balance (5 points possible): I think this wine is a good example of a medium-bodied Merlot (compared to a light Merlot) showing good balance among the alcohol, tannin level, and body.  The hint of Brett has to dock a point here, but the Brett is not taking away from the style.  I actually really like how it matches the rest of the wine here. - 4 points
Finish (5 points possible): Smooth, lingering with black cherry flavors.  Quite pleasant.  For those that can taste the metallic notes of Brett, I get it a little bit in the finish (and in the nose), but otherwise, it's not overpowering or spoiling this wine. - 4 points 
Add 50 points for attempt, packaging, closure, etc.
Total Points: 94
Overall Thought: I really like several things about Frog's Leap winemaking: 1) the grapes are organic and grown in a well-done manor, 2) the alcohol levels are kept at about 12%, which I really feel adds balance and longevity to red wines, 3) the acid is in a good place - meaning, unlike many Napa red wines, these wines are not flat... and it's obvious that the grapes were picked early enough to hold the acid content, while managing varietal flavors, and 4) even though there are hints of Brett in some of their wines, the Brett is not overpowering.  In their case, I would say it's a great contributing level to their wines.  However, I know they probably don't want it.  And without it, a new style of wine would bloom from their winery. 
Food Pairings: I'd drink this wine with hamburgers, red-based pastas, steak dinners, and meals containing bacon.  I'd really like to see this paired with French cuisine and a variety of cheese platters.  Yuuumm!  I think it's also a perfect spring picnic wine for big-red wine lovers and lighter-red wine lovers.  It's a good middle-of-the-road bodied wine that pairs very well with many foods.
Cost: About $34 
Splurge Factor (out of 4): 2 - I know the price point is higher here, but it's worth it. 
Where to buy: Frog's Leap Winery lists a bunch of states that they can ship to, but I've already found some Frog's Leap wine in Florida.  I'm sure it is nationally distributed.  Cheers!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fun Wine Gear: Vinifera Wine Cards

I saw these cards at a winery and thought they were fun for those people who really want to learn something about wine grapes.  It definitely is the type of product for the grape nerd because each card contains a lot of detailed information bout individual wine grape varieties.

Vinifera Wine Grape Cards
(Photo from Ghigo Press)

Each pack is about $16, so not an overly expensive buy.  Maybe something for the girlfriend or newly defined wine connoisseur who wants to know a little bit more about wine!  The website, Ghigo Press, also features a wine grape calendar for those super wine nerds that you know... and love! 

Wine Grape Calendar
(Photo from Ghigo Press)

I think every person that loves wine and wine flavors, also loves some sort of other food product.  (For me, I'm really into teas.)  I really enjoyed the extra info cards on coffee and spices.  How fun!  Perfect for all you foodies out there!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Travel Tip: Frog's Leap Winery

It's true that I no longer live in Napa Valley, but I have so many fun places to share for people that are looking to travel out there.  (Please contact me if you need some tips!)  Here is another very fun winery to visit - one of my favorites in the Napa Valley and well worth a stop: Frog's Leap Winery.

Frog's Leap Winery (left) and Tasting Room (right)
(Photo by author)

The Sunny Side of Frog's Leap Winery
(Photo from Google Images)

First, I have to point out their website.  I absolutely love it.  Visit any other winery's website, and you'll get this typical, spa-like, all serious and mysterious motif in front of your face.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy some of the serious nature in Napa, but Frog's Leap has a website that is sure to catch you off-guard and put a smile on your face.  It also makes you feel like visiting the winery is going to be a pleasant, welcoming experience, and I couldn't agree more.

Frog's Leap Winery Homepage
(I edited this image directly from Frog's Leap Winery website)

I visited the winery on a cold, rainy mid-winter afternoon.  And yet, walking into the front door of the tasting room was a cozy, warm experience.  The hospitality staff were friendly and smiling - they actually looked like they were having fun!  People were seated inside and outside - something I was quite afraid of at the time because it was chilly outside and I was in my winter coat.  But as I stepped outside, I noticed the porch was nice and cozy as well, warmed by the touch of various space heaters in the ceiling structure.  People were genuinely comfortable watching the rain fall, sipping Frog's Leap wines, and enjoying themselves mid-winter in Napa Valley.  (I later learned that the tasting room... and therefore the space heaters... were all running on geothermal energy.)

Tasting Room
(Photo by author)

The Cozy Entrance of the Tasting Room
(Photo by author)

Wine Tasting Set Up
(Photo by author)

Which leads me to the point that Frog's Leap Winery was the first organic vineyard in the valley.  Their grapes are grown organically, but because sulfur dioxide is add to the wines, the wines are not considered organic.  (I really do not want to divulge into my opinion on the use of sulfur dioxide in wines... but all I can say is that, I truly believe, at this point in our lives, sulfur dioxide is needed to ensure the quality and preservation of wines.)  Anyway... back to the point, additionally, it should be noted that 92 to 94% of the winery runs on solar energy, making Frog's Leap Winery a perfect example for sustainable farm practices.

A Cozy Corner on the Porch of the Tasting Room
(Photo by author)

Tasting fee is $20, but I would say it's well worth the experience here - peaceful, a charming hospitality staff, and good wines to sit and sip on is well worth it.  Plus, a nice plate of small goodies - dried fruits, cheeses, and nuts - is brought out to enjoy with the wines.  Absolutely a perfect Napa Valley experience (and the cheese is to die for!).  I tried 4 wines that day that I found quite impressive:

2009 Chardonnay (Napa Valley)

  • Green apple, citrus, hints of vanilla with a slightly yeasty, sur lie character, sharp minerality, slate, and a toasted wood character on the palate with sharp acidity that allows the wine to open and maintain its freshness for days.  Loved this wine with some of the nuts and cheeses provided with the tasting.

2007 Merlot (Rutherford)

  • Very black cherry like to me, with hints of plum fruit, dried herbs, and bacon fat.  Slightly smoky in the nose and finish.  Crisp acidity that makes the wine fresh and balanced.  Goes very well with the dried strawberries and raspberries.

2006 'Rutherford'

  • Primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine has a gold label assigned to it.  Rich, tannin, dark red fruit flavors with a slight cedar character.  The lower alcohol (below 14%) really makes this wine pop.  An enjoyable Cabernet experience.  A prime example of Rutherford's terroir.  Try it with the dried fruits and cheeses!  I highly recommend it.

2007 Petit Sirah (Rutherford)

  • Ripe, fresh berries burst from the glass here.  Lots of strawberry flavor on the palate with a crisp slate character, and slightly smoky.  A big wine, but not too big.  Higher alcohol here, but it's hardly noticeable with the deep tannins, crisp/fresh acidity, and lingering finish.  Definitely try with the dried fruits, nuts, and cheese - it's a perfect match to all those provided.
Of course, if you get a chance, try Frog's Leap 'flagship wine' - their Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc (which sells for about $18 a bottle).  Plus, find their iconic 'RIBBIT!' corks when you pop open a bottle!  Who said wine tasting wasn't fun?  =)  There's really so much more to discover at Frog's Leap Winery, including their fabulous mustard, all of the landscaping and gardens, the history of the wooden barn (built in the 1800s), and where the name "Frog's Leap" came from.  But I invite you to find the answers to those questions when you visit! 

Frog's Leap Winery Wooden Cases
(Photo by author)

Frog's Leap Winery is set in the center of Napa Valley, in the Rutherford district, on one of the few crossroads between Highway 29 and the Silverado Trail.  It's nestled back into its own mini oasis of peace and quiet - no matter what time of the year you visit.  :)

Inside the Tasting Room
(Photo by author)

The Infamous Red Barn Through the Surrounding Trees
(Photo by author)

The Frog Pond
(Photo by author)

I have to apologize for the rainy, dreary photos.  But a part of me believes that the winery is still beautiful even during Napa's wet season.  To show some lighted beauty, I've added some extra pictures I found on Google Images that show the sunniness of the valley at Frog's Leap...

The Frog Pond
(Photo from Google Images)

The Red Barn
(Photo from Google Images)

The Top of the Red Barn
(Photo from Google Images)

Inside the Tasting Room - This image is a lot better than mine
(Photo from Google Images)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Wine News You Can Use - Support for Japan from US Wineries

I still manage to keep up with the developing crisis in Japan, and I'm sure many wonder how we can contribute to support relief efforts.  After all, what is important now is to help the thousands of civilians without homes and food.  

What's sad about this article is the refusal of support from the Idaho wineries based on the fact that they produce alcohol.  I guess I can understand this from the side of the Red Cross to avoid corrupt business donating to a relief foundation, but I know plenty of wineries that constantly contribute to relief efforts based on bottle per bottle sales: humane societies, oceanic reservation, etc.  It's one way, as a winemaker, that you can give back somewhere and support local, national, and global communities based on given your success.

Original article found at Wines and Vines website.  It is pasted here for your convenience. 

Regardless, the article is here for you to decide how you feel about it.  Enjoy!  Happy weekend!


Wineries Raise Money for Japan

But Red Cross in Idaho turns down help from local wineries

by Jane Firstenfeld

Red Cross Japan Idaho California wine

Boise, Idaho—When seven Idaho wineries planned a benefit for Japanese earthquake/tsunami relief, they decided to donate a portion of tasting room sales to the American Red Cross. Last week, the Idaho Wine Commission issued a news release to let the public know that weekend purchases from 800-caseBitner VineyardsCold Springs Winery (4,000 cases), retailer Coyotes Fine Wines, Davis Creek Cellars (500 cases), Fujishin Family Cellars (500 cases),Indian Creek (Stowe) Winery (4,900-cases) and Snyder Winery (2,500 cases) would result in contributions to Red Cross relief.

On Monday, though, Moya Shatz, the commission’s executive director, emailed contacts: “On Friday a press release was sent out prematurely stating that Idaho wineries would be donating a portion of their proceeds to the Red Cross in an effort to support Japan. Per the Red Cross’s rules and regulations, they must take extra care when associating themselves with alcohol and firearms. Therefore, wineries will not be able to donate to the Red Cross as businesses.”

Meanwhile, vintners in California were planning—and announcing—similar benefit efforts. In the Santa Cruz Mountains, epicenter of the disastrous October 1989 Loma Prieta quake, wineries pledged to donate tasting fees last weekend, including those from Bonny Doon (20,000 cases), Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard (4,000 cases), Silver Mountain Vineyard (4,000 cases),Sones Cellars (2,000 case), Storrs Cellars (12,000 cases), retail center Old Sash Mill and Vine Hill Winery (2,000 cases). Wines & Vines learned of this effort from Cindy Molchany, Boutique Wines Management Co., and asked her if the Red Cross had put up any resistance.

Red Cross in California accepts
Not at all, she responded. “I wonder if it is a chapter-specific policy. I received an email over the weekend from the marketing director of the Santa Cruz (Red Cross) chapter, and she seemed elated over the efforts here, and she wanted to see how we could work together to promote it further. If it turns out to actually be the policy of the Red Cross, I’ll be shocked. Follow that same thought process, and no school should ever solicit donations from wineries for their fundraisers.”

Napa Valley Vintners maintains a similarly warm working relationship with the Napa County Red Cross. The two organizations are among others in the community that are staging an event this coming Sunday afternoon, March 27, at the Napa Valley Opera House to benefit Iwanuma, Napa’s sister city in Japan, which was severely damaged in the earthquake.

“Our involvement was to reach out to our 400 members last week for tools to help with relief, by donating financially to the Red Cross, or donating wine for auction or pouring at the event,” NVV’s Rex Stults told Wines & Vines. The mid-afternoon event will include a reception, wine, food, a silent auction and performances in the main theater. Both auction proceeds and ticket sales ($35 general, $75 preferred) will support the cause. For details, visit

Frank Lucier, executive director of the Red Cross Napa County chapter, works closely with the wine industry on relief efforts, including events to benefit Haitian earthquake recovery last year. “The wineries are our biggest supporters,” he said. “The only restriction on fundraising I know of is gambling, but we can do auctions. The wineries are doing a great job raising money for Japan, where they really need our support.”

An unfortunate misunderstanding?
Lucier explained that the American Red Cross is organized in 10 regional divisions and put Wines & Vines in touch with Pat Hofmaster, vice president of the West Division, based in Sacramento. When told of the Idaho misfire, Hofmaster expressed consternation. “That is very unfortunate,” she said. “We have a close relationship with the wineries here in California. We appreciate and love that support from wineries. I would certainly not turn away that support: Win eries are such a part of our culture and economy.”

She explained that Idaho is not part of her territory, but said she had contacted her counterpart in the Northwest to try and clarify the situation there. “We need to use good judgment in any partnership,” she conceded. The Red Cross, she said, wants to do “anything we can to work together to enhance our support of the people we serve.”

According to Schatz at the Idaho Wine Commission, Christopher Davis at the Boise, Idaho, Red Cross had nixed the local plan. Davis explained: "I'm just following what I'm advised  to do. We are absolutely excited, and embrace the wine industry in showing their support. I'm told we are researching what we can do with them, but we are hesitant to do a per-bottle-sold thing."

He acknowledged, "The big thing, I think, is that as an emerging area, so we are treading carefully."  

According to Abi Weaver, senior communications officer at the American Red Cross, International Services, in Washington, D.C., “This particular offer was not shared with our national headquarters staff.

“It is true that we do not create partnerships in which a percentage of purchase may motivate consumers to purchase alcohol. However, the America Red Cross would accept a philanthropic contribution, help the company drive public donations from their website with an American Red Cross web banner, or even set up a special fundraising micro-site for the organization,” she concluded.

While Schatz did not have any figures for earnings in the Idaho tasting rooms last weekend, she has advised her members just to write personal checks to the Red Cross for the appropriate amounts. 

Meanwhile, million-case producer J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, San Jose, Calif., is avoiding any conflicts while making it easy for its customers to donate. A message atop the blog page on its website reads: “Our Thoughts are with Japan.

“Today at J. Lohr, we find ourselves overwhelmed by the devastation following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. As we sit and watch this unfold, we remember how fortunate we’ve been, but at the same time, we are humbled by the reminder of how fragile and volatile the earth can be. Our hearts go out to our friends in Japan and to the rescuers who are risking their lives to assist these victims. From all of us at J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines—our thoughts are with you.” The entry concludes with an invitation to phone or text 1-800-RED-CROSS to make a $10 donation.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wine in a Soda Can?!

In a recent blog about Francis Ford Coppola's Sofia Blanc de Blancs, I talked about the femininity that I absolutely love with the Sophia line.  Sometimes you just need a classy, girly glass of wine... and then sometimes you just want something fun and quick!  So if you love the taste of Sofia Blanc de Blancs, then whey not grab it in a soda can?

Sofia Blanc de Blancs
(Photo by author)

Yes, you heard me correctly - sparkling wine in a soda can.  Ingenious packaging and marketing idea by Francis Ford Coppola.  What's the difference between the wine in the cans versus the wine you buy in the bottle?  Simple - how the carbonation gets into the packaging.  

In the bottle, the sparkling wine is made by the traditional Methode Champenoise style.  This means that a secondary, yeast fermentation takes place in the bottle.  As the fermentation progresses, over time, the sparkling wine bottles are tilted and rotated to collect the remainder yeast and sediment that collects from the fermentation.  Then, prior to sale, the tops of the bottles are frozen, corks popped, and yeast/sediment removed.  The bottle is re-capped quickly with the carbonation from the fermentation left in the bottle.

The cans, however, are bottled into aluminum cans and injected with carbonation - just like carbonated beverages (i.e. soda or pop).  The base wine remains the same.  The only difference is how the carbonation originates.  Four (4) cans, each with an attached straw, are packaged into a pink and silver cardboard box:

(Photo from Google Images)

Again, I love the fun and pinkness of this product.  And truth be told, I enjoy the lighter, fruitier taste of the wine in the can as opposed to the bottle.  The carbonation is fresher and the wine seems lighter!  Of course, you can't swirl the can and do what all us wine snobs do, but seriously, you can still "cheers" and have a good time. 

"Johnny Depp" and I used the cans as a way to celebrate our first real day in our Floridian home.  Without having any wine glasses around, it was the perfect beverage to cheers a new beginning.  I've even seen these things being used at wedding receptions or rehearsal dinners.  But can't you see these things on a fun picnic or day at the beach?  Now you don't need the wine carrier to carry your favorite beverage!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What's in My Glass Wednesdays! 2009 Sauvignon Blanc by SeaGlass

Here's a fun wine I found while searching for a present for one of my best friends.  Truth be told, I almost bought her this bottle of wine because I know how much she loves the movie Spanglish.  (For those who have not seen, it is, by far, one of Adam Sandler's best roles as a serious father who loves his children.  See the below movie trailer - watch for the wine scene!)

Back to the wine... sea glass... for all those who love the beach is exquisite:
Sea Glass
(Photo from Google Images)

The shine, the iridescence, the beautiful, soft blue and green hues.  What would make a more appropriate name for a wine?  And what better wines than those sea-friendly whites - Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling?  I've only had the pleasure of reviewing of the Sauvignon Blanc for this week's "What's in My Glass Wednesdays!" but I love the idea.  Need a vacation?  Spending a day on the beach or off to sea on your brother's boat while fishing and enjoying the ocean life?  Why not grab a glass of SeaGlass Wine?

A glass of SeaGlass Sauvignon Blanc
(Photo by author)

It's the perfect wine for a hot day in Florida, California... or over the hot summer months.  Need a beach getaway?  Grab a glass of SeaGlass!

Drinking Wine on the Beach
(Photo from Google Images)

The D-2010 Scale 
2009 Sauvignon Blanc by SeaGlass Wines (Santa Barbara County, CA)
Appearance (10 points possible): Pale yellow, slightly greenish tint white wine. - 10 points
Aroma/Bouquet (20 points possible): Peach, citrus, honeysuckle, guava, and light gardenias. - 18 points
Taste (10 points possible): Slight sweetness with a creamy entry.  Citrus, guava, and honeysuckle flavors fill the mouth.  A touch of sweetness and tangy, citrus twist hit the palate in the finish - 5 points
Balance (5 points possible): The wine isn't off-balance, but there's something missing from the wine, which I think is acidity.  I can't really tell what the acid content is, but to me the wine is sort of heavy and flat. - 3 points
Finish (5 points possible): Slightly sweet finish with tropical and citrus flavors.  There's a touch of tartness as well, which off-sets the sweetness.  But it's a very friendly finish for people that enjoy that little touch of sweetness that isn't overpowering. - 2 points 
Add 50 points for attempt, packaging, closure, etc.
Total Points: 88
Overall Thought: I like this Sauvignon Blanc and the fun producer name makes this a perfect theme wine (in my humble opinion).  Personally, the wine is so light and fun that it's the perfect introductory wine into the spring and summer months.  For all those wishing to get away, create your own beach scene with this wine.  However, it is produced by Trinchero, so for me, it does have a slight reminiscence of Sutter Home wine to me.  But that may not be such a bad thing for all my readers!
Food Pairings: Think beach - shrimp, oysters, clams, light seafood or chicken salads, spicy Thai cuisine, or a spicy barbeque ribs.  Check out SeaGlass Food & Wine for more suggestions.
Cost: About $11 
Splurge Factor (out of 4): 1 - For the quality and "fun factor" this wine is not going to break the bank!
Where to buy: You can find your nearest distributor at SeaGlass's website.  :)  Cheers!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Chocolate-Dipped Wine

A friend of mine found some of these on GiftTree, but I saw them all throughout Napa.  I believe I saw some chocolate dipped Gloria Ferrer bottles while visiting that winery if I remember correctly.  I don't quite this product, although most bottles are covered with some sort of plastic wrap in addition to the chocolate coating on the exterior of the bottle.  Personally, as a food scientist, I'm not a fan of the chocolate as part of the packaging, but it does look cool!  However, others find this to be a unique way to end a big meal in a very original way!

Wine Gift Crates: Chocolate-Dipped Wine
Chocolate-Dipped Wine
(Photo from GiftTree)

Most bottles sell for about $40 to $50, so not exactly your thriftiest wine buy, but definitely something unique.  Wineries of Napa Valley also sell this product online for about $65 using Goosecross wine- but include a very nice package, which makes a really exquisite gift (see photo below).  I guess the ol' saying is true - wine and chocolate are the perfect pair.  :)

Chocolate-Dipped Wine Bottles

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Return of the Wine Slush!

Back in February, I wrote about Tastefully Simple's Sangria Wine Slush, but this past weekend, I had the opportunity to try Tastefully Simple's Citrus Celebrations wine slush.  And (oh my goodness!) was it superb!

Citrus Celebration Wine Slush
(Photo from Tastefully Simple)

Of course, this isn't your Wine Country snobby drink mix, but it's something to get the party started!  Completely refreshing, the flavor is quite catchy.  It's like drinking a margarita made of wine - blended, not on rocks.  ;) 

The product is simple - take the bucket, supplied by Tastefully Simple, add 1 cup of water, 2 bottles of your favorite sparkling wine, and the packet of flavor.  Place the container in the freezer.  When the party arrives, lightly chip away at your new wine-based cocktail.  I'd have to agree that the taste of pineapple predominates this cocktail with that slight tang of lemons and oranges.  The "bubbles" from the sparkling wine give this a good kick. 

Although the drink is sweet, you can definitely adjust the sweetness level by altering your base wine.  I suggest a drier sparkling wine, but for those that have a slight sweet tooth, something sweeter will definitely do the trick.  Serve in fun glasses, place a small fruit slice on the rim of the glass (or add a tiny umbrella adorned with fruit), and you've got a party!

(Photo from Google Images)

I loved this drink (made by my aunt) with the mango salsa (made by my uncle), a cheese ball and Sweet Pepper Jalapeño Jam over cream cheese.  What a delightful evening... and what a fun way to welcome my new life in Florida.  I promise, you won't be disappointed with this product.  Cheers!

Sweet Pepper Jalapeño Jame
(Photo from Tastefully Simple)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Wine News You Can Use - Kent State to Open an Enology Program

Are your kids looking into a degree in enology or viticulture?  The truth is, many universities across the U.S. are investing in Enology Departments or Programs.  Kent State in Ohio now offers a 2-year degree program for those interested in pursuing experience in enology and viticulture.  Original article below can be found at

Kent State University to offer degrees related to the wine industry

Published: Friday, March 11, 2011, 5:20 AM
By Karen Farkas

Kent State students now can earn degrees related to wine-making, and those taking the classes will have a chance to get plenty of hands-on experience in Northeast Ohio. (Photo by Peggy Turbett)

ASHTABULA, Ohio -- Cheers!
Ohio's first college degrees related to wine-making will be offered at Kent State University's Ashtabula campus beginning in the fall.
Those who enroll in a two-year program in enology, the study of wine and winemaking, or in viticulture, the study of vine-growing and grape-harvesting, will have no problem getting hands-on experience. A majority of Ohio's 151 wineries are located in Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula counties.

"We are elated," said Donniella Winchell, executive director of theOhio Wine Producer Association. "We have been working with the university and the regents for better than two years."
Tony Debevec, owner of Debonne Vineyards in Madison, trains his workers on-site and is pleased that professional classes will be offered.
"I think it will elevate the quality of individuals that we have to pick from and shorten the training time," he said. "Also, when you go to school you learn how to work with other people, gain connections and bring new experiences and ideas to the industry."
The Kent program will be affiliated with the Viticulture Enology Science and Technology Alliance, founded about eight years ago to serve wineries between the Appalachians and the Rockies, Winchell said.
The alliance, at Missouri State University, has partnered with colleges, state agricultural agencies and vineyards in 11 states to promote education in grape-growing and winemaking. Those states, including Ohio, have a climate and geography different from the wine-growing areas on the east and west coasts.
Most courses are online but students can attend classes on site. All get practical experience at wineries, said Susan Stocker, dean of Kent's Ashtabula campus.
The Ashtabula campus will offer its associate degree programs throughout the state through its affiliation with the Viticulture alliance, she said. Classes may be taught in intensive weekend sessions in other Ohio cities and students can work at nearby wineries. Students may also travel to Ashtabula and stay in area hotels while taking classes.
Stocker expects an initial enrollment of about 20 students in each degree program.
"It really is for us an economic development issue," she said. "Associate degrees support local employers and graduates go out and get jobs and start working. It is a growing industry."
A 2008 economic impact study showed more than 4,000 people were working in the wine industry in Ohio, according to Winchell. More than 600 are employed today in Northeast Ohio, she said.
Ohio ranks in the top 10 of wine-producing states. More than 1.1 million gallons of wine are produced each year and the industry contributes more than $500 million to the state's economy, according to Ohio State University Extension program.
Debevec, who has been in business since 1971 when less than a dozen wineries operated in the state, said he believes the wine industry is the region's fastest-growing industry among all sectors, not just agriculture.
"Having people educated who come in with new ideas and passion at mid-level positions in the cellar and the viticulture side would be a great help," he said. "It is like an art - and passion is an important part."
To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:, 216-999-5079

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Celebrate St. Patty's Day with Some Wine

True, true - St. Patrick's Day is the holiday for beer lovers!  But what about all those wine lovers out there or people who find drinking beer incredibly filling??  Well there's tons of solutions (believe it or not).  Some simple searches found lots of great ideas for St. Patty's Day wine, starting with the obvious:

1) Add green food coloring to a Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine!  The example below shows a glass of green Domaine Chandon sparkling wine:
(Photo from Google Images)

2) Make a St. Patty's Day wine cocktail!  Korbel features 4 St. Patty's Day Cocktails made with bubbly (Photos from Korbel's website):
Irish Kiss

Natural´ Mojita
(Natural' is the name of one of Korbel's Sparkling Wines)

St. Pat's Magic

Champagne Cocktail

3) Drink an Irish-based wine!  I bet you never thought these existed.  I actually found a cool online article by Today Food on the Irish influence in winemaking.  It's worth the read if you are interested.  This writer recommended wines with Irish roots including Cakebread, Mayacamas Vineyards, and Flora Springs of Napa Valley.  He also listed Concannon (of Livermore), and Owen Roe (in Oregon).  Other wines include Limerick Lane Cellars, Murphy-Goode Winery, and DuMol.

(Photo from Google Images)

(Photo from Owen Roe website)

(Photo from Google Images)

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What's in My Glass Wednesdays! 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon by Honig Vineyard & Winery

Honig Vineyard & Winery was one of my favorite wineries to visit nestled in the Napa Valley, and yet, I don't believe I ever stopped to take pictures there.  Found off Rutherford Rd. (which is one of the linking roads between Highway 29 and the Silverado Trail), its hidden behind a small olive oil production building and all-natural retreat center.  (If you want to capture the essence of "natural" California... please visit the retreat center.)   Anyway... off track... Honig's tasting room is gorgeous.  There's a small outdoor patio from the all-wooden tasting room.  Compared to several of the showy wineries in the valley, the tasting room is small, but I prefer to call it quaint, calm, and peaceful.  Surrounded by vineyards, there's something relaxing about sipping some Honig wine and getting away from the hustle and bustle of the highway (and everyday life).  After all, isn't that the selling point of Napa Valley?  Eat, drink, and relax?  ;)

Here are some images of the winery that I found on Google Images:

The Outside of the Winery/Tasting Room and Surrounding Patio

The Inside of the Tasting Room (What you see as you walk in the door)

Another View of the Inside of the Tasting Room

The Inside of the Tasting Room (What you see if you are at the tasting
bar.  Note the door and surrounding patio in the top center of the image)

I also love Honig's holiday postcards!  They are so fun and creative.  I especially liked the one spin-off from the iPod.  :)

Anyway, I'm getting totally off track...  I love Honig's approach to winemaking, and the winery is filled with great people.  They're ready to experiment and try new things while remaining true to their infamous Sauvignon Blanc style (what they are known for) and deep, Napa Cabernets.  And with that, onto the 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon by Honig Vineyard & Winery.

2007 Honig Cabernet Sauvignon
2007 Cabernet Sauvignon
(Photo from Honig's website)

The D-2010 Scale 
2007 Cabernet Sauvignon by Honig Vineyard & Winery (Napa Valley, CA)
Appearance (10 points possible): Deep, dark ruby red color. - 10 points
Aroma/Bouquet (20 points possible): Toasted wood, black cherry, earthiness, cocoa, cassis, and hints of vanilla and black licorice. - 17 points
Taste (10 points possible): Cherry flavored with sourness up front, but medium-bodied entry.  The mid-palate is deep with toasted oak and cocoa flavors.  It still has a "young" tannic sensation.  The finish is noticeable, but a bit short compared to other Napa Cabs with a linger cherry finish, bitterness (which tastes like the oak bitterness to me), heat on the tail (from the alcohol), and a bit drying/dusty. - 6 points
Balance (5 points possible): To me, this Cab is not fully integrated and appears slightly in pieces.  But it is still enjoyable.  It may integrate more in the near future, even with the 14.5% alcohol level. - 3 points
Finish (5 points possible): Cherry/cocoa flavored, some bitterness, heat on the tail, and a bit drying.  As the wine sits out, the finish softens more and more, but the dry sensation is noticeable. - 3 points 
Add 50 points for attempt, packaging, closure, etc.
Total Points: 89
Overall Thought: One thing Honig does well is their packaging.  I can't wait to feature their Sauvignon Blanc.  I very much enjoy their labels.  Second, Honig is known for their Sauvignon Blanc, and there's nothing majorly flawed with their Cabernet Sauvignon.  It is true to the Napa Valley style (which is supposed to be the Bordeaux style... but not), it's clean, and it's a filling, bold, masculine wine.  It smells great, although, personally, I would like to see less emphasis on the oak and more on the varietal fruit character.  Like most Napa Cabs, this vintage is actually a blend: 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot.
Food Pairings: I like this with red meat - lamb, steak, beef roast.  It's especially good during the winter months when the weather isn't as warm.
Cost: About $40 
Splurge Factor (out of 4): 3 - It's a Napa Cab produced by a well-known winery.  It may not be something you drink regularly, but may be something you want to purchase periodically for Cab tastings or steak dinners.
Where to buy: Look at your local wine distributor or state store.  (If I find it Florida, I'll let everyone know!)  Also available through Honig's website.  You can actually search their distributors here.