Bud Break, Spring Break, Jailbreak, Chavez Break: Ventura County Vineyards Report March 2020

Citrus blooms between blocks of vines at Clos des Amis South Mountain vineyard.

Driving east on South Mountain Road along the Santa Clara River near Santa Paula in the Heritage Valley,

I am overwhelmed by the scent of citrus blossoms.

It is early spring and every orange and lemon tree in sight is in bloom — and there are acres upon acres of trees in sight.

If I could bottle this citrus scent I could make millions.

Instead I am driving on a spring break jailbreak up to the Clos de Amis vineyards to check on bud break with vintner and winemaker Gretel Mays Compton and while there, give her a hand with a few tasks.

As I drive, as I peer across acres of citrus and row crops, all tended by agricultural labor, I contemplate Cesar Chavez. Continue reading

Pinot Noir Wine Women #2: WALT’S Owner Kathryn Hall and Director of Winemaking Megan Gunderson

NOTE: During Women’s History Month, we feature as many women in wine as we can. In part 1 of this 2 part post, we featured two other pinot noir women,  Peregrine’s Nichole Cross and Megan McGrath Gates of Lucas and Lewellen. This goal has been challenged doubly this March by COVID-19 which impacted my ability to determine what was wrong with my laptop. My new charger should arrive any day, but this blog post may be rough until I get a chance to finish editing it. I had also planned on finishing my article about my interview with Italian wine importer Sheila Donahue as well as other content this month.

1000 miles of Pinot Noir.

When Kathryn Hall started HALL Wines and then WALT, she looked for people and partners as passionate about differences as she was, because this is what is required to make the best wine.

Kathryn Hall at Clos Pepe March 2020.

Kathryn’s family joined the grape growing business in the 1970s,  Continue reading

Wine Women Pinot Noir Edition #1: Peregrine’s Nadine Cross plus Lucas & Lewellen’s Megan McGrath Gates

Like many industries, the wine industry is dominated by males. That presents challenges to women in wine, whether they are owners, winemakers, vineyard workers, or in other roles. As more and more females join the industry, it becomes easier. Often these women come from the wine industry– it’s the family business as pointed out in “#ClinkDifferent: 4 Affordable Red Bordeaux Paired With Instant Pot Oxtail Beef Bourguinonne” where three of the featured wineries have women running the show.

For women winemakers Nadine Cross of New Zealand’s Peregrine and Megan McGrath Gates of Lucas & Lewellen, farming is the family business, and it is through their love of the land that they’ve come to love vine and wine. Today we explore a pinot noir from each. Stay tuned for a feature on pinot noir from Megan Gunderson of WALT; she’s director of winemaking for an enterprise that makes wine from Oregon to Santa Barbara! Continue reading

#ClinkDifferent: 4 Affordable Red Bordeaux Paired With Instant Pot Oxtail Beef Bourguinonne

First, how are you doing?

And second, what are you drinking?

Over here at Wine Predator, we’re focused on comfort food and wine right now (well, all the time!) and we’re here to say that you don’t have to break the bank to live it up right now.

In a restaurant, this rich Oxtail and beef shank dish paired with a Bordeaux wine would cost a small fortune. But in the instant pot, it’s fast, easy, and delicious! Plus Bordeaux at home is much less expensive and it comes in a wide range of prices.

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#ClinkDifferent with Crémant: Bordeaux’s Sparkling Wine Paired with Crab Cakes, Squash Fritters, and the Daughters of Dada #Winophiles

“My life is full of mistakes. They’re like pebbles that make a good road,” said surreal artist and ceramicist Beatrice Woods. The avid journal keeper and author of I Shock Myself lived until she was 103 which she attributes to chocolate and young men.

Known as the Mama of Dada, she hung out with Marcel Duchamp and others in Paris where she studied art and acting. In one of her paintings in a surrealist exhibition in New York City, a woman rising from the bath with a real piece of soap in “the tactical position” as Beato put it, garnered a great deal of attention.

and what do you see here? missing: a bar of soap in the tactical position…

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#ClinkDifferent: Try German Dry White Wines With Instant Pot Corned Beef, Cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day

I love Guinness, but I don’t necessarily want it with my corned beef and cabbage (scroll down for recipe that uses Guinness made in the Instant pot– so easy!)

Every year I hit the internet for ideas and I try different wines.

Different wines as in red wines. Continue reading

“A Taste of Ojai” with Chef Robin Goldstein and Topa Mountain Wines #WinePW

To visit the Ojai Valley in Ventura County, California, whether you take the 33 from the Pacific north or south from the Los Padres National Forest or the 150 from Santa Paula west through Ojai or east from Carpinteria, you will slowly wind your way 15 miles or so among the chaparral and the orchards, with much of the hillsides still showing how it burned in the 2017 Thomas Fire.

Unroll your windows and let the scent of citrus blossoms fill the air. Smell the sage in the chaparral or the dampness of the sycamores along the creeks or Ventura River.

At the end of the day, watch the sun paint the Topa Topa Mountains with splashes of color in a display famously known as “The Pink Moment.”

The Topa Mountain Rose of Grenache shows Ojai’s famous “Pink Moment”

While my Aussie version of Siri pronounces it Oh-JI, it’s actually pronounced “Oh- Hi!” and that’s what it feels like in this small town of about 8,000– everywhere you go, you’ll be saying “oh, hi!” The word Ojai, however, comes from the Chumash: ‘Awha’y means moon, and the area is spectacular by moonlight.
By bright moonlight or abundant sunlight, Ojai Valley inspires and invites artistic expression — whether the medium is paint, pastels, words, or music with the Ojai Music Festival continuing to go strong since 1947. Artist Beatrice Woods, the Mama of Dada, famously shocked herself while living here until she died in her 90s in the 90s, attributing her long life to beauty (in men especially!) and chocolate.

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