A Vineyard Year

Wine Country Photography for Wine Lovers. Frame it

We miss the wine country of California. March will mark one year since our last trip to the wine country. We are inching closer to getting back to wine country visits. We will soon have both doses of the COVID vaccine and will feel much safer to travel. Masks will still be most important. We … Read more

Recipes from Wine County – Sonoma

Last time we highlighted recipes and wine pairings from the Napa Valley. Now it’s time for recipes from Napa Valley’s neighbor, the great Sonoma Wine Country. The wine towns of Healdsburg and Sonoma are culinary centers, and their respect is worldwide. Sonoma is a big County with wineries in many different wine appellations. From the … Read more

Ten Wine Things to Do at Home

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We hope this finds you and your family healthy and coping with our gut-wrenching crisis. I am finding wine more enjoyable these days. Maybe these ten wine things to do at home will somehow ease the day. Host a virtual wine happy hour We are doing this with five couples, each in our homes. We … Read more

First Time to Napa Valley: Must Do Activities

First Time to Napa Valley: Must Do Activities We often get emails from first-time travelers to the Napa Valley asking advice for where to go or what “must activities” to include in their trip. Here is our list of what we think first-time visitors to the Napa Valley should consider doing. These activities don’t just … Read more

Wine and Food pairing at St. Francis Winery

St. Francis Winery & Vineyards in the Sonoma Valley

In the Sonoma Valley, Great Wine and Food at St. Francis The trendy thing in tasting rooms these days is a wine and food pairing. We decided to try out the wine and food pairing at St. Francis Winery in the Sonoma Valley.  St. Francis Winery and Vineyards is at the northern end of the … Read more

Vineyard Voodoo or New Age Breakthrough? The Scoop on Biodynamic Wine

biodynamic wine horns

Madeline Blasberg is a Certified Wine Consultant who has spent time in Mendoza, Argentina, where she was surrounded by wine, both personally and professionally. Currently, Madeline works as the Official Wine Commentator & Reviewer for Etching Expressions a company specializing in personalized wine bottles. The Scoop on Biodynamic Wine By Madeline Blasberg Have you heard through … Read more

Blending wines at Castello di Amorosa

It was our task to take five different barrel samples of the 2012 vintage and make our own Super Tuscan wine. We had a Sangiovese, two different Merlot samples, and two different Cabernet Sauvignon samples. This was my first taste of red wines from the fabulous 2012 harvest.

Mike Chelini is Longest tenured winemaker in the Napa Valley at Stony Hill Vineyard

Last week we toured three completely different Napa Valley mountain wineries. We visited Stony Hill Vineyard on Spring Mountain, Ladera Winery on Howell Mountain, and Nichelini Winery at the summit of Sage Canyon Road. This will be the first of three posts comparing these Napa Valley mountain wineries.

Stony Hill Vineyard on Spring Mountain is one of the oldest wineries in the Napa Valley and one steeped in tradition. Fred and Eleanor McCrea purchased the land in 1943 and released their first vintage in 1952. In 1972, young Mike Chelini began his stint as winemaker at Stony Hill and he continues in that position to this day. He loves his work, the land, and the owners. As he says “Life is good here at Stony Hill Vineyard.” When we asked Mike Chelini if he is the Valley’s longest-running winemaker, he says: “I think I am tied with Bill Sorenson over at Burgess.” Bill Sorenson began his stint at Burgess in 1972, so who knows who started first. Nevertheless, these are impressive careers for both these winemakers.

Winemaker Mike Chelini Stony Hill Vineyard
Winemaker Mike Chelini

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Closures again

I was watching CNBC News yesterday and they ran a short but informative segment on Portugal’s campaign to revitalize their cork industry. We know Portugal is in dire economic straits and needs a boost in their economy, and perhaps using their corks on bottles of wine will help. The TV segment prompted me to write this post. I’m very old fashioned when it comes to wine closures. Most of my 40-year career of wine drinking has involved opening wines with a real cork. I get a thrill each time I use my waiter’s corkscrew to open my wine. There is nothing like that popping sound when I pull the cork from the bottle. That sound has come to mean something very special to me, one that signifies I am about to embark on very pleasurable adventure.

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First Impressions of Virginia Wine – Wine Bloggers Conference

When the venue for the 4th Annual Wine Bloggers Conference was announced, many in the audience gasped. Virginia was chosen over Paso Robles and the Finger Lakes region of New York. How could that be, many cried? I heard one blogger shout out “Virginia wine is not that good.” We attended the wine bloggers pre-conference on Wednesday and Thursday of this week and had the opportunity to visit four wineries in the Loudoun County in Northern Virginia. I have to conclude that after tasting wines at these four wineries, the wine is very good in this part of Virginia, and a few of their varietals are stellar. I’m not about to suggest the wines are overall as good as California wines or those of the Napa Valley, but several I tried certainly measure up to our standards. I know these wineries were hand picked by the local tourist office, but this did gives us an eye opener into the quality and potential for Virginia wines.

We visited Tarara Winery, Breaux Vineyards, Chrysalis Winery, and Boxwood Winery. At each winery the winemaker and owner presented their wines, and much like at any winery in California spoke glowingly about their wines.

We loved all the Viognier we tried, and we can easily see why this wine is so popular in Virginia. I wish I’d had some California Viognier on the spot for comparison. These Viognier wines have excellent floral and tropical characteristics and a great mouth feel. I was less impressed with the Chardonnay wines and maybe that is because I just don’t drink that much Chardonnay to begin with. At Breaux Vineyards I rated their Meritage and the Nebbiolo at 90 points. I had not tasted as delicious a Nebbiolo in some time.

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