Wine Weds: Frei Brothers Sustainably Grown Syrah, Cab, Sauv Blanc, Chard

It seems to me that if a winery donates wine for an event, the wine should be respected: served in wine glasses by someone who knows a bit about the wine, and with information about the wine available.

So when Frei Brothers donated several cases of wine to me to use at various arts, cultural, and environmental events, I spent some time becoming familiar with the wine and producing materials for a display on the table for those interested in learning more. I would also be pouring the wine.

The following are some of those materials that I developed for the VCCOOL Benefit Concert August 28 and for the Art City First Fridays Open House and ArtRide after party. My information came from materials Frei Brothers sent, from their website, from my tasting notes, and from fellow blogger Rob Bralow in this blog post by which includes an interview with Frei Brothers Chief Viticulturist Jim Collins discussing specifics. Continue reading

Thanks to Frei Brothers for Wine Donation to VCCOOL Benefit Concert 8/28 & more!

When I heard about the benefit concert for VCCool Saturday, August 28th at Zanzilla (2750 East Main Street, Ventura), I offered to contact Frei Brothers Winery to see whether they would donate wine for the event.

Why Frei Brothers? Because VCCool works on issues of sustainablity for people and planet, including bicycle safety, local food policy, natural building, sustainable community planning, and so much more. VCCOOL is a global warming or climate change activist group. They promote ways to reduce your carbon footprint and they organize events like the bike rodeo. VCCOOL Members live consciously and purchase food, wine and products that are produced  sustainably. The VCCOOL fund raising concert will offer traditional, old time good time music and room to dance for $20. Members are making treats and there will be non-alcoholic drinks as well as wine pours for $5 each from Frei Brothers.

And so why Frei Brothers? Because at the Wine Blogger’s Conference 2009 in Santa Rosa CA, I tasted the Frei Brothers syrah (yum!) and learned about their pro-environment policies. For a rather large organization (200,000 cases), Frei is trying its best to be good to the land that the brothers have been responsible for for for over 100 years.

Frei Brothers is driven by an “overriding principle to conduct business in a manner that will protect and preserve the environment.” This includes exceeding government regulations and setting aside an acre of land for every one planted with vines to protect the natural environment in which indigenous animals live. This blog post by Rob Bralow includes an interview with Chief Viticulturist Jim Collins discussing specifics. Not to mention that Frei makes great wine; just to make sure, I tested out a glass of the chardonnay last night–nice and balanced, it will be a pleaser today chilled down!

So enjoy Frei Brothers Reserve Wine while mingling with friends new and old, and getting down with the music of: The Jug or Nots (jug band), the Rachel Morris Little Big Band ( original works including “Earth Day” and “White Trash Boy”), and Mule Skynner (classic rock). The VCCool Benefit concert is held in yoga studio of Zan Ferris who graciously donated her gorgeous space for this event. This hidden oasis and the music too, can be found below Smart and Final off Main. Directions

Frei Brothers generously donated four cases (two syrah, one chardonnay, and one cabernet) so there will wine for an upcoming pro-arts and cycling event also Sept 3 at Art City. Thank You Frei Brothers, for doing right by the land and for your donation!

(Look for a response to the wines soon!)

How To Bag Wine Drinking Millenials: Crazy Bear’s Approach vs Randall Grahm’s

Above is the back label copy for Crazy Bear’s Charbono-Nay wine which is trying to bag the Millenial Market.

Below is how Bonny Doon’s Randall Grahm responded to Mutineer Magazine’s question:  “What do you want millennials to know about your wine?”

“A lot,” answered Grahm.

One, wine is alive. Wine has an intelligence. Wine changes. Wine needs time to develop and you need time to understand it. Don’t make the judgment in a second.  Don’t think you understand the wine in a second. Be patient. Spend time. Invest time. The average person doesn’t grasp the distinction, doesn’t understand that there are wines that are made through industrial process, that are very dependable, very standardized. You’re not going to have this variation from year to year, but they’re confections, and then there are other wines that are more artisanal, maybe they’re flawed, but there’s something more authentic and real about them…honest.

Read more at Mutineer Magazine:

(Confections! What a wonderful word to describe that process. I knew exactly what he meant.)

Learn about Crazy Bear Wine’s approach to bagging Millenials here. The writing here is a marvel as well. In a different way.

PS And instead of sandals, I’ll be sure to wear my Ugg boots with my Patagucci skirt this summer should I get a chance to bag me some #crazybear.

January 2010 Green Drinks Ventura County Meets at Ecologic Next Weds.

Green Drinks Ventura County, the local Ventucky gathering of this international green group of eco/green oriented businesses and individuals, meets the second Wednesday of each month at a different location somewhere in the county. On January 13, from 5:30-7:30pm, Green Drinks meets at a brand new downtown Ventura business’s green design showroom, EcoLogic Life; Main Course California Catering brings the goodies! Here’s the Green Drinks link.

Green Drinks Thousand Oaks/Ventura County was started in August 2008 to bring together people with a common interest in sustainability issues.  The popular monthly event offers networking, socializing, informal information exchange, and mini-topic panel discussions. The event fosters connections, raises awareness, and catalyzes the movement toward a more vibrant and sustainable Ventura County.

Too often, unfortunately, the drinks at Green Drinks aren’t too green. Let’s hope this month the wines are local, sustainable, and/or organic!

More on this month’s hosts: Continue reading

2 Wine Events: Support VCCool, then taste & buy wines for yourself!

Two great wine events tonight December 10  on the West end of Main Street, Ventura: a wine tasting to celebrate  VCCool’s new 501c3 status from 6-7pm at J’s Tapas 204 E. Main and a wine tasting and buy extravaganza from 6:30-9pm at Jonathan’s at Peirano’s. The food is fabulous, the atmosphere cozy, and both are conveniently located right next to each other and across from the San Buenaventura Mission in downtown.

First up: As the eyes of the World turn towards Copenhagen, Denmark and how our Global Community will address Climate Change, VCCool invites you to share an evening with us here at home. As a non-profit in Ventura that specifically addresses the issue at a local level, VCCool needs your support.

Join in conversation about building a sustainable future together during a lovely evening of wine, food, and friendship. This gathering is a free event with the purpose of raising funds, and nurturing friends and supporters as VCCool celebrates acheiving its 501c3 non-profit status as well as an amazing history of local action. The event also offers a sneak-preview of some exciting plans for 2010 as well. Bring your checkbook and make a powerful stand for climate protection by supporting a  local organization that is working hard on  climate action almost every day of the year.

Climate change is a serious problem for many existing wine regions of the world. As the climate changes, so do the growing conditions in the vineyards. Some areas will no longer be able to grow wine while other regions will. This is such a serious problem that many wine advocacy and educational organizations such as Wine Academy of Spain are putting resources into tracking it. WSA recent Wine Futures event in Rioja (which I had to pass up, unfortunately) offered sessions to discuss the problem.

Next: Get amazing wines at amazing wholesale prices, at the Annual Taste and Buy Event, Thursday December 10th 6:30-9pm at Jonathan’s. Taste over 30 wines from many of the best regions for only $10. RSVP today by calling 805-648-4853!

If you come by, be sure to say hi–I’ll be the one passing out Santacon Ride flyers (12/20 at 12:30pm) and Tweed Ride flyers (2/5 at 5:30pm). If it’s not raining, this bikergo gal will ride there to cut down on carbon emissions and because it’s fun! Then you’ll be able to check out my pink bikergo locked up outside. Ask me and I’ll let you take it out for a spin! Remember, don’t drink and drive–even a bike!

EWBC Day 2: A visit to a cork forest–but first, a word about TCA

winebloggers learn about corkSMRandal Grahm, forgive me, I know you believe in the screwtop closure, but after visiting the cork oak forests in Ribatejo, Portugal today as part of the European Wine Bloggers Conference, I am now a firm believer in cork. And, if you’re listening, and I hope you will be, I will tell you why. I may not convince you in this post but hopefully by the next one.

Cork as a closure for wine got a bad name because some wines became “corked” which means that they became infected with TCA and turned bad.

While this is a rare occurrence, if it is YOUR special wine that got corked, you’re not going to be a happy camper about it. You will be tempted to turn against cork. (Read another post about cork taint here.)

Alternative closures to cork are nothing new. Really. But they have become more popular in recent years. So popular that it has had an impact on the cork industry and that industry is fighting back. With both fists. And a LOT of money–millions in fact into research and development to understand where TCA comes from and how it can be prevented.cork rings at Amurim cork factory in Ribatejo Portugal

Turns out, TCA infection can come from a variety of sources, not just cork. The cardboard box, for example. Just about anywhere, actually. But cork was and is the prime suspect so the cork industry has figured out ways to sanitize the corks and remove the risk of TCA almost completely so that instances of TCA from cork sources are reduced to the point where the many benefits of using natural cork (instead of a screw top or a plastic cork) shine and win.

Yes, cork is more expensive, much more expensive than a screw top or a plastic cork which costs practically nothing and adds practically nothing to the value of the wine.

But there is more to the picture than a simple closure. And in my next post, I will tell you about the cork trees, cork forests, and the natural ecosystems and the human communities that revolve around healthy, productive cork industry–an industry which relies on YOU, the consumer and the wine producer, staying with cork.

And one day soon, I hope to show you pictures of my new beautiful cork floors!!

Participating in 350 Day? Choose biodynamic/organic/sustainable/locapours!

Today, October 24, is 350 Day–a day where citizens of the world who are concerned about climate change will take various actions. On 24 October, we will stand together as one planet and call for a fair global climate treaty. United by a common call to action, we’ll make it clear: the world needs an international plan that meets the latest science and gets us back to safety. For more informaiton:

So how will I, the Wine Predator, participate? We’re riding our bikes around town today which is Harvest ArtWalk, we’ll enjoy locally caught shrimp bought from the Fishermen’s Market here at our harbor, which we’ll enjoy with locally grown vegetables from our CSA box (consumer supported agriculture).

But which wine will we choose to enjoy with our evening meal?

Wines appropriate to the occasion would be grown biodynamically and certified like Bonny Doon and Quivera, or organic and sustainabe like Michel-Schlumberger or grown and made locally like Vino V. Guess I’ll have to hit the cellar to see what meets the needs of the meal, our budget and availability!

How will you be participating in 350 Day?