Wildflowers and Wine: Santa Barbara Pinot Noir and Vintners Release Party

Hillsides surrounding the vineyards at Sanford and elsewhere in Southern California are covered in bright yellow mustard flowers; the barley cover crop was chosen to draw excess moisture from the soil in this rainy year.

Looking for a wild flower show? With a side of wine?

If so, head to the 35th Santa Barbara Vintners New Release Spring Weekend for four days of wine, food and fun throughout Santa Barbara Wine Country starting tonight Thursday, April 20 through Sunday, April 23, 2017. Tickets here.

Along the way you will be thrilled by spring green hillsides with yellow mustard, splashes of patches of orange poppies, strips of purple vetch, asters, lupine, and others, plus fields of orangey-yellow fiddleneck along with vines budding out in Chartreuse and Peridot near deep emerald oak trees with bright shiny leaves. Continue reading

Standards: Lodi Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel for an easy midweek meal

“Broken Vine” Lodi Zinfandel

“Honey, can you stop by Ferraros and get some meat sauce?”

When there’s just a little too much going on and you need an easy midweek meal and a glass of wine, what’s your standard response?

That’s the theme for this month’s Wine Pairing Weekend: “My Old Stand By.”

For me, that’s when I call my spouse, or he calls me, and says, “Put the pasta water on!” and we pick up either fresh pesto from Trader Joe’s or meat sauce from our favorite local Italian restaurant, Ferraros, and sometimes both! The person at home throws together either a caesar salad (do a three minute boil on the eggs in the pasta water! surprisingly easy!) or a green salad with Sue’s Simple Gorgonzola Dressing, and we have a delicious, inexpensive dinner in less time than it would take to go out and with only a very few dishes.

The key of course, is to have good quality sauce and pasta plus the right wine! And for us, another standard is to eat and drink as sustainably and organically as possible, something that we care about every day, but we will be pointing out this month because

April is Earth Month and April 22 is Earth Day.  Continue reading

Grilled Cheese Game Night with Fun Wines: Black Light White, Q & A Red

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Mammoth Mountain’s record breaking snow January 2017

In California, we have had a long wet dark winter with epic rain and snow.

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record breaking rain in Santa Cruz mountains

 

You’ve probably read about it in the news if you haven’t experienced it yourself.

And while it’s almost March, it’s not over.  Winter is not over.

I know, I know, technically, winter kicks the bucket in three weeks on the equinox Monday March 20 at 3:30am PST and the days will once again be longer than the nights. But there will be more rain and more snow. You can bet on it.

SO WE HAVE THREE MORE WEEKS OR MORE OF WINTER NO MATTER WHAT THE GROUNDHOG OR THE ALMANAC HAS TO SAY!

And while you might be distracted by the Super Bowl, the Grammy’s, the Oscars, and maybe Mardi Gras if you’re lucky (and I happen to be lucky enough to have an awesome Mardi Gras party in Ojai next week to look forward to…)

SPRING and SUMMER TIME PARTIES AND BBQS ARE A LONG WAY OFF!

What to do? How to fend off the darkness, the boredom, the tedium of more snow and rain? How to survive the final three weeks of winter and that first cold month of spring?

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Not a trivial wine for trivia night!

Our answer? Host a game night for friends and family with grilled cheese and fun wine!

For our wines, we chose two: Black Light 2015 white wine blend that comes with a flashlight and Q and A, a red Bordeaux blend. like Black Light and Q and A both from Rubin Family wines! Keep reading for a review of Black Light White and Q & Red along with how to make some fabulous grilled cheese sandwiches!

Continue reading

7 Lodi Zin for #ZinDay, #TurkeyDay

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Because you know I’m all about that Zin,
‘Bout that Zin, from Lodi
I’m all ’bout that Zin, ’bout that Zin, from Lodi
I’m all ’bout that Zin, ’bout that Zin, from Lodi
I’m all ’bout that Zin, ’bout that Zin

What do you think I’ll be drinking for Zinfandel Day today? If you guessed Zinfandel from Lodi, you guessed correctly! Yes, Sue and I are going to Cantara Cellars to taste 15-20 wines from Lodi with winemaker Mike Brown who’s family grows grapes in Lodi.

According to ZAP, “All other significant wine varieties have their reference points in Europe, but Zinfandel established its own tradition in California and has become known as America’s Heritage wine. Zinfandel’s history is a classic All-American success story—transforming from a little-known grape into one that has achieved such tremendous popularity that it has grown on more than 50,000 acres in the United States.”

Zinfandel Day gives Zinfandel fans a chance to tell the world about the grape and the wines made from it. Wineries, wine bars, and restaurants host special #ZinDay events like the event at Cantara that Sue and I are going to.

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Harvest a bottle or two of Lodi zinfandel for your fall feast!

Below you will find out more about #ZinfandelDay festivities plus reviews of seven Lodi zinfandel that I’d recommend for this year’s #ZinDay as well as #TurkeyDay! Continue reading

Happy #ChampagneDay! A Toast with Champagne Jacquart Brut Mosaique!

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Tomorrow is the sixth annual #ChampagneDay! The 2015 #ChampagneDay is set for Friday, October 23.

What makes Champagne Champagne and not just another bottle of bubbles you wonder?

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  1. Champagne is from the Champagne region of France, which, on July 5th 2015 was granted World Heritage status by UNESCO.
  2. Champagne is from the Champagne region of France, making it the only sparkling wine that can be called Champagne.
  3. Champagne is from Champagne, France.

But beyond the fact that CHAMPAGNE only comes from the Champagne region of France and all other bubbles are just sparkling wine and NOT Champagne? This video offers a few clues: Continue reading

Cheers to Finger Lakes Month May 2015 with Fox Run Blanc de Blancs!

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May is the annual Finger Lakes Month, and so  with my spring semester grades turned in, it seemed like time to celebrate!  We opened a 2011 Blanc de Blancs from Fox Run Vineyards that I received as a sample.

Established in 1990 in a former dairy, Fox Run is also celebrating its 25th anniversary.  Continue reading

Is Garnacha the next “great grape”? Find out Tuesdays in April 6pm PST

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Tonight, Tuesday April 21 from 6-7pm PST, is the third night of four focused on “The Next Great Grape: Garnacha” on Wine Studio hosted by Protocol Wine Studio. James Beard Award-winning wine and food writer, WSET Instructor, and public speaker Lyn Farmer aka @FizzFan visited the Cariñena region last June and brings his insights into the history, sights, sounds and tastes to the weekly discussion:

“I believe Cariñena is positioned to take a vibrant place on the world wine stage. It is not (yet) so well known as regions slightly to the north like Ribera del Duero and Rioja, nor is it (yet) so trendy as Priorat and Toro, but Cariñena’s day is coming.”  @FizzFan

Continue reading