Category Archives: Wine

Emergency preparedness, Wine Country style.

It’s unfortunate that it takes a 6.0 earthquake in Northern California to remind us how important emergency preparedness is, but Wine Country is also Earthquake Country and Fire Country. Our hearts go out to all those who were injured,  lost treasured belongings and the wineries who lost so much fine juice.

We at Parker Sanpei talk a lot about living the good life, and that includes living informed and prepared for when disaster strikes. Here we revisit what to do in case of an emergency and how to prepare in advance.

The American Red Cross, recommends a 3-step approach to emergency preparedness.

red cross ready

1. GET A KIT

We love the American Red Cross’ spreadsheet shopping list for building your own preparedness kit (Emergency Preparedness Shopping List), but you can also purchase one directly from their website. Either way, your family’s kit should contain items that enable you to provide comfort for everyday scrapes or treat life-threatening emergencies.

A standard preparedness kit should include the following items (see here for more a more detailed list):

  • Water
  • Food
  • Medications
  • Radio
  • First Aid Kit
  • Personal Documents
  • Contact Info
  • Map
  • Money
  • Clothing
  • Sanitary Supplies
  • Pet Supplies
  • Tools

2. MAKE A PLAN

Planning ahead will help you have the best possible response to disaster. We like the Red Cross’ PDF on making a plan to share with family. In short, when preparing for a disaster, always:

  • Talk with your family.
  • Plan.
  • Learn how and when to turn off utilities and how to use life-saving tools such as fire extinguishers.
  • Tell everyone where emergency information and supplies are stored. Provide copies of the family’s preparedness plan to each member of the family. Always ensure that information is up-to-date and practice evacuations, following the routes outlined in your plan. Don’t forget to identify alternative routes.
    Include pets in your evacuation plans.

As an element of your preparedness plan, choose an out-of-area contact for all family members to call in case of an emergency. Include the contact on your Emergency Contact Card. Your contact should live far enough away that he or she will not be affected by the disaster. You should also:

  • Predetermine meeting places to save time and minimize confusion.
  • Select two meeting places:
    • Right outside your home; e.g., in cases such as a home fire.
    • Outside your neighborhood or town, when you cannot return home or you must evacuate.

3. BE INFORMED

Get info: During a disaster, it’s important to understand the different ways you can obtain information. Make sure you and each member of your family is familiar with the following ways to receive information:

  • Television
  • Radio
  • NOAA Weather Station
  • Printed Notices
  • Telephone/Text Messaging
  • Local Emergency Warning Systems
  • Person to Person

Know your region: Learn what disasters or emergencies may occur in your area, and what to expect from them. If unsure, call your local American Red Cross chapter for more information.

Action steps: If you find yourself in an emergency situation, stay calm and follow these emergency action steps:

  • Check the scene and check the person
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number
  • Care for the person based on the conditions you find (to find CPR and First Aid classes in your area, click here).

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Get your sparkle on, Santa Barbara-style.

At this year’s Wine Bloggers’ Conference, we met a new kindred spirit in Liz Dodder, author of CaliCoastWineCountry.com.

109a6dd8b3ccc9c53290686b2640cd4c

“My name is Liz and I’m a drinker, eater and traveler. I’m a food & wine blogger, writer, photographer, recipe developer, web designer, social media maven and Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW).”

Liz is also a zealot for sparkling wine and has put together the first sparkling wine guide for Santa Barbara County. Have a look.

Sparkling Wine Map SB

According to this map, Santa Barbara County is host to ten places where sparkling wine is sampled. (Looks like our weekend just filled up!) Furthermore, Liz is working on another sparkling wine guide for San Luis Obispo County, and says there are several more wineries selling bubbles than we ever would have imagined. (Looks like our September just filled up!)

For questions or info on how to get printed copies of this map in your tasting room, contact Liz via CaliCoastWineCountry.com.

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Going LOCAL with VONS

Thomas Hill Organics

Thomas Hill Organics

Our friends at Thomas Hill Organics in Paso Robles are partnering with VONS to celebrate their new “LOCAL” initiative with a multi-course dinner and wine pairing on August 14 at 6:45 pm. The program connects VONS shoppers to their agricultural and culinary community through in-store features of locally-produced ingredients and value-added items.

vons.logoThe launch celebration at Thomas Hill Organics will include five courses of sumptuous, locally-sourced cuisine paired with the wines of DAOU Vineyards & Winery, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Halter Ranch Vineyard and Tablas Creek Vineyard. Furthermore, an all-star lineup of winemakers and winery representatives will be present, including Georges and Daniel Daou, Steve Lohr, Steve Peck, Jason Haas and Kevin Sass.

 – MENU -

PASSED APPETIZERS

Prosciutto Wrapped Belgium Endive with D’Affinoise Brie Crab Ravigote in Tartlette with Apple Tarragon Slaw

Served with Halter Ranch Rose, J. Lohr 2013 Carol’s Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc,

DAOU 2013 Grenache Blanc and Tablas Creek 2012 Côtes de Tablas

FIRST COURSE

Seared Dayboat Scallops

Pickled Apricot & Ginger, Scented Jasmine Rice, Cucumber Ribbons, Ras al Hanout Broth

Served with Tablas Creek 2011 Esprit de Tablas Blanc

SECOND COURSE

Crispy Duck Breast

Pomegranate Molasses, Roasted Loo Loo Farms Carrot, Maria’s Japanese Eggplant Puree, Spiced Greek Yogurt

Served with Halter Ranch 2011 Syrah

ENTREE

Tournedos of Filet Mignon

Organic Potato Pave, Crispy Kale, Braised Scarlet Turnips, Truffled Natural Jus

Served with DAOU 2011 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

DESSERT

French Chocolate Tart

Chocolate Ganache, Mr. Drew’s Berries, Coulis

Served with J. Lohr 2011 Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon

Joebella Coffee

We’re so proud of our community and friends who make it a point to carry the LOCAL banner. Bravo!

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De-Mystifying Whole-Cluster Fermentation

whole clusterWhole-cluster fermentation is gaining rapid interest as a winemaking practice, but how much does the average consumer really know about this mysterious method and its effects?

“Whole-cluster fermentation is the act of using the entire bunch or cluster of grapes, including the stem, in alcoholic fermentation,” says Winemaker Eric Hickey of Laetitia Vineyard & Winery, who has used whole-cluster fermentation for about a decade. “The winemaker can vary the amount of whole clusters included in the fermentor. For example, in our case, I use anywhere from thirty to seventy percent whole clusters in a given batch.  The remaining percentage in the fermentor is made up of de-stemmed grapes.”

The use of whole-cluster fermentation began as an experiment for Hickey, who has made a career of exploring different approaches to Pinot Noir from Laetitia’s Arroyo Grande Valley AVA estate. “We have a vast array of plantings, clones, and diversity when it comes to Pinot Noir,” he said. “Not all of our lots do well with whole-cluster, but through all of our trials over the years, we’ve located the specific clones and sites that work well.”

In Burgundy, where Pinot Noir is king, whole-cluster fermentation has been used for hundreds of years, perhaps somewhat out of the convenience of tossing an entire bunch into the fermenting vessel. The hallmark of whole-cluster wines – a signature burnt tobacco note entwined with the fruit aromas and flavors – became synonymous with the Pinot Noir variety in Old World winemaking.

Eric Hickey

Eric Hickey

“It’s not always obvious, but there’s an extra layer of structure to whole-cluster Pinot Noir,” says Hickey, “and when it’s at its best, there is a dusty chalkiness to the mid-palate.”

Whole-cluster fermentation can be practiced on any variety, and is often used to tone down fruit characteristics and add another dimension to the wine. (For example, Hickey also uses whole-cluster fermentation on Grenache from the Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard for the NADIA Wines label.) While New World winemakers have used this method for many years, a fruit-driven, de-stemmed Pinot Noir became popular as the variety gained a foothold in the United States market in the late 1980s and 1990s. Today, the pendulum is swinging the other direction, with many winemakers moving away from “pure-fruit” Pinot Noir by fermenting clusters whole to impart complexity, tannic grip, and a lift on the palate.

Laetitia_Pinot_Noir_Whole_ClusterWEBTo bring this style further into balance, when Hickey whole-cluster ferments Pinot Noir, he leaves the intact bunches to rest in the fermentor after harvest rather than crushing them immediately. In this anaerobic environment, fermentation then begins within each individual berry as yeast penetrates the skin wall under the pressure of carbon dioxide, a process called carbonic maceration. “When fermentation takes place inside the berry, you tend to get very high levels of delicate red fruit and floral aromas,” says Hickey. “In the case of the whole-cluster technique, the high fruit tone is a good counter balance to the earthy tobacco characters the stems provide.”

Each vintage, Hickey rounds-out the Laetitia Pinot Noir program by offering a whole-cluster Pinot Noir made from clones conducive to the practice. The most recent release is the 2012 vintage, which included Pinot Noir from clones 115 and 2A to produce a wine marked by focused flavors and a refreshing grip in mouth feel. Crisp notes of cassis, whole-leaf tobacco and black peppercorn mingle with a touch of sweet oak and sultry black tea on the nose and palate. With its heightened earthiness, the 2012 Laetitia Whole Cluster Pinot Noir pairs well with similarly earthy cuisine such as roast duck, sautéed porcini mushrooms, or eggplant lasagna.

“Consumer response [toward whole-cluster wine] has been great,” says Hickey. “It usually appeals to those who prefer a Pinot with more power, structure and less ‘pure red fruit’ on the nose.”

 

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What we learned: Wine apps

It’s never been a better time to buy the right wine. With so much content available so quickly, we’ll never again wonder what to drink with our osso buco on a Friday night (…or mac ‘n cheese on a Tuesday night!).

We’re talking, of course, about wine apps. At the recent Wine Bloggers’ Conference we polled our fellow wine folks about which apps they use to make buying and tasting decisions. Here are the big winners:

298_298_cor-kz-top-apps-for-wineCor.kz: Powered by CellarTracker.com, Cor.kz allows you to type in the name of the wine you’re considering (or even scan the bar code!) and gain access to over 2,000,000 notes and ratings from experts and from the huge CellarTracker community of wine drinkers. $1.99, available for iOS and Android.

47f1aadf-d960-48dd-8611-fbcddf1eb54cVivino: “Never pick another bad wine.” So says this app that identifies wine labels from a photo snapped on your device and immediately accesses reviews, rankings and price comparisons – right there in the grocery aisle or wine shop. Vivino also claims to be “the world’s largest community for everyone who enjoys wine.” Free, available for iOS and Android.

icon_256Delectable: Like Vivino, this app immediately recognizes whatever wine label you snap with your camera and offers reviews and buying info, but has a social side that allows your own personal friends to weigh-in along with leading winemakers, critics, and sommeliers.

icon_256 (1)Guurgle: While Guurgle is still very California-centric, they benefit from being powered by people who really know and love wine. This app is terrific for touring California wineries and includes maps and events listings to inform your next excursion.

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Singer-songwriter A.J. Croce comes to Wine Country

salon roux logoWe at Parker Sanpei have always loved the people and service at Salon Roux in Paso Robles – but now we love them even more.

This full-service salon and spa located in the heart of wine country recently announced a special benefit concert to celebrate its fifth anniversary featuring singer-songwriter, A.J. Croce, with special guests, The Janks, to benefit Studios on the Park’s “Kids Art Smart” program. Presented under the stars at Castoro Cellars Winery, the concert will be held Saturday, August 23. The event begins at 6:30 p.m.

ajcroce_salon_roux_concert

Croce, son of legendary singer-songwriter Jim Croce, began his career at age 18 opening for B.B. King, and has since spanned genres from jazz to Americana to blues to pop. He has been seen and heard on national television including Jay Leno, David Letterman, and MTV, and received glowing press from The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone and People Magazine. Croce’s eighth studio album, “Twelve Tales,” was released by Compass Records and recorded with six legendary producers including: Allen Toussaint (Dr. John, Eric Clapton); the late “Cowboy” Jack Clement (Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash); Mitchell Froom (Crowded House, Los Lobos); Tony Berg (Fiona Apple, Bob Dylan); Kevin Killen (Elvis Costello, Peter Gabriel), and Greg Cohen (Tom Waits, John Zorn). Additionally, “Twelve Tales” includes a song Croce wrote with legendary songwriter and musician, Leon Russell.

Croce’s last performance in Paso Robles was in support of Jon Anderson of YES. He’s received stellar reviews including a sentiment by Willie Nelson who said “The future of entertainment is in good hands.” Salon Roux Proprietor and Concert Coordinator, Jacque Leonard, calls Croce’s music, “jaw-droppingly, amazingly great.”

A. J. Croce

A. J. Croce

“Salon Roux holds a party every year to celebrate our anniversary,” said Leonard. “For our fifth year, though, I wanted to do something that gives back to our community that has supported us. The ‘Kids Art Smart’ program brings children to Studios on the Park to paint, draw and get creative, Monday through Friday. I know that if I hadn’t been in art classes through school, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Our goal is to raise enough support for “Kids Art Smart” through this benefit concert to cover their costs for the coming school year.”

“Kids Art Smart” brings local elementary students to Studios on the Park in Paso Robles, directly utilizing the artists studio setting for unique art education studying and creating works of art in mediums such as ceramics, collage, oil pastels, printmaking, and watercolor. Since 2011, more than 4,000 public elementary students have visited Studios on the Park for hands-on professional art classes completely free of charge and during school hours. Ordinarily these students (47 percent of whom are considered low-income and at-risk) receive no formal arts education.

Individual tickets to the benefit concert are $50 each. VIP tables include wine and dinner, and are $250 for two people, $500 for four people and $750 for six people. Tickets are available for purchase at Salon Roux by calling 805.239.9499 or by emailing info@salonroux.com.

Additionally, Thomas Hill Organics Bistro will be serving a dinner consisting of Paella accompanied by organic mixed greens, roasted seasonal vegetable and date flan tartlets for $15. Castoro Cellars wine will also be available for purchase.

For more information on this must-see concert, please visit http://www.salonroux.com/concert.html See you there!

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What we learned: The Digital Divide

We had intended to give frequent updates on what we learned at the Wine Bloggers’ Conference this year, but that proved nearly impossible, so copious the information and quick the format. Here, we’ll present our take-aways by category. Today, it’s about the so-called “digital divide” between wine producers and their patrons in the digital age.

A breakout session entitled “The Business of Wine” led by  Tim Hanni, MW, and Paul Mabray of Vintank reminded us how critical it is to provide digital media to our winery clients with ambitious, personal, and creative connections to their customers.  Some notes:

Tim Hanni, MW

Tim Hanni, MW

Notes from Tim Hanni, MW

  • “Sixty to eighty percent of consumers are mystified by wine. We have to ask ourselves: are we going out of our way to mystify consumers about wine?”
  • “Anybody can make very expensive, highly-extracted, new-French-oak wine. It’s never been easier for people to make good wine. But nobody’s putting any thought into the market itself. We’re devoting too much thought to the product, not enough to the consumer.”

Tim Hanni, MW is an internationally-recognized wine expert and professionally-trained chef. He is one of two Americans to first earn the title Master of Wine and is recognized around the globe for his groundbreaking “Vinotyping” – making wine drinkers more confident about their personal wine preferences. 

Paul Mabray

Paul Mabray

Notes from Paul Mabray, Vintank

  • “[The modern wine market] is the most competitive market in human history. [In 2013] there were 200,000 wine products in the U.S. But it’s also hard because everybody makes great wine.”
  • “Everyone is telling the same story: Family-owned. Artisan. Terroir. Service is the only differentiator.”
  • The wine industry’s biggest challenge right now is the internet. “Digital Darwinism” means if you’re not designing your website/blog mobile-friendly, you’re already getting left behind.
  • “The old critic everyone listened to was Robert Parker, Jr. The new critic everyone listens to is the stupid ‘like’ button.”
  • “It’s like Hollywood: everyone wants to work in wine. And it sounds so sexy until you have to put it in your gas tank. The wine industry pays [poorly], and we’re losing our best people because of it.”

Paul Mabray is Chief Strategy Officer at Vintank, the world’s largest software solution for social media management for the wine and restaurant industry. A more in-depth exploration of Paul’s ideas can be found in a transcribed lecture he recently presented here.

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