Monday, August 11, 2014

Grape Collective's SpeakEasy

I've been out of town and away from computers for the better part of two weeks. I returned to my ancestral lands (Wisconsin) for a week of sun and boating. And yes, I ate lots of cheese and drank lots of Wisconsin beer. I should also note that I stopped at Upstream Brewing Company in Omaha and Empyrean Brewing Company in Lincoln on the journey to and from Cheeseheadland for some tasty Nebraskan beer. Perhaps my favorite find of the trip was a fantastic dinner (with Colombian and Venezuelan beer) at La Taguara in Madison. The food was just delicious and authentic. If you find yourself in Madison, go and thank me later.

Even though I had a beer bottle in my hand most of the time, wine was still on my mind. While away, Grape Collective published an interview with me for their get-to-know-a-wine-blogger series, SpeakEasy. Check out the interview here, and I should be able to update the blog here in the near future! 


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dr. Oldman won't shut up about the Wine Bloggers Conference

Forgive me. I tried to talk him out of it, but he was insistent on chiming in again on the Wine Bloggers Conference.

Oh boy did I miss out by not attending the Wine Bloggers Conference this year. I saw a few bloggers complain about one of the sessions that was dubbed the, "grand-fatherly white male traditional print writer" session. That sounds like the perfect seminar to me, so I investigated a little more. Turns out that there was a second session dedicated to other older white male experts! Hot diggity! I was totally off in my initial assessment. Earlier this week, I watched a Youtube video of another seminar at the Wine Blogger's Conference titled, "How the Pros Taste." Oh, this gem could have been simply titled, "How to be Professional." I expect well-organized workshops at the Frontiers of Computational Physics Conference (which by the way is in Zurich next June if you're interested), but not at a conference devoted to the lowly art of blogging.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dr. Harry Oldman on the Wine Bloggers Conference

With the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference wrapping up over the weekend, I heard from Dr. Harry Oldman, my extern. I was actually looking forward to attending this year, but my wife was in Panama for a conference and I had to stay home with Ben. Having never attended a WBC, I don't have a whole lot to say about the event, but Dr. Oldman was insistent on chiming in. I know I shouldn't give the crotchety old guy the attention he wants, but I suppose everyone is entitled to their opinions.

So, apparently the Wine Bloggers Conference was held this past weekend in Santa Barbara County. I don't consider myself a blogger (more of a human chameleon that can become a master at whatever I choose), so the big event wasn't on my calendar. You know how I found out about the conference? I saw it all over the news. ABC, CNN, FOX and NBC all picked up on the story. It was all Bill O'Reilly and Brian Williams were talking about over the weekend. Even Wine Spectator published a special issue on the conference that arrived this morning.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Listening and responding to customers...

Yesterday saw the release of a new California sparkling wine called Under the Wire. Haven't heard of it? That's not surprising considering that the release of its initial two wines totaled 120 cases. The new winery is brought to you by Morgan Twain-Peterson and Chris Cottrell, both of slightly more recognized Bedrock Wine Co. Bedrock is known for producing an array of syrahs, zinfandels, and red and white blends from heritage vineyards found in all corners of California. Twain-Peterson, along with a group of other like-mind producers (along with his Ravenswood co-founding father) actually established a non-profit organization, The Historic Vineyard Society (HVS), devoted to preserve California's precious old-vine vineyards.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Capital Grille's Generous Pour

A few weeks ago, I attended a preview event for Capital Grille's The Generous Pour (TGP) event at the Denver location. The premise of the 7-week event (July 7 - August 31) is that the restaurant chain is offering guests unlimited pours of seven different wines or $25 per person. Sounds like a good deal. The restaurant's website states that the selection includes "five highly acclaimed wines, two exclusive premieres, and all seven hand selected by our Master Sommelier." Diners can buy just one bottle or sample all seven through the course of a meal. The premise sounded interesting, so I made plans to attend to see what it was all about.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The hail damage in Burgundy is sad, but...

Earlier this week, a violent hailstorm destroyed vineyards in Burgundy. Most wine media outlets reported on the storm. Over on WineBerserkers.com, terms like "heartbreaking" and "gut wrenching" were used in reaction to the news that 80-90% of the crop will be lost in certain vineyards. Yes, the crop destruction is sad when you think about the loss of income for hard-working farmers and their families, especially when hail destroyed a good chunk of the 2013 crop. Bottles of award-winning wine were aborted before anyone could even enjoy their existence. However, after reading the headlines and pondering for a second, the news made me smile.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The first flying winemaker...

The consultant winemaker has always been important. Many people have a vision and the means to start a winery, but not the winemaking skill. Perhaps the best example would be Robert Mondavi. Mondavi was not a winemaker. He always hired winemakers to make his wine. For many years, his sons were the chief winemakers. Many other now-famous winemakers have also passed through the doors at Mondavi.

However, the role of a consultant winemaker is not that of a person that oversees the day-to-day operations at a winery, but stops in a few times throughout the year to offer an outside perspective. Napa Valley and Bordeaux are two places where wineries heavily rely on the advice of consultants

In the 1990s, the idea of the consultant winemaker took on an even bigger role as more people got bitten by the vintners bug and established producers wanted to make a splash by adding a big name winemaker to the payroll. As certain winemakers' fame began to rise, the concept of the flying winemaker took shape. Flying around the world and consulting for dozens if not hundreds of wineries, the likes of Michel Rolland, Stéphane Derenoncourt, Paul Hobbs and Nick Goldschmidt, have developed a reputation for being a guarantee of producing high-quality, expensive wines. Rolland has become the poster child for the flying winemaker moniker, he has also been cited as a reason for the development of the international style of wine.

But Rolland wasn't the first winemaker to hop on a plane to go to work. Warren Winiarski, himself the son of a amateur winemaker (and for what it's worth, his surname literally means "son of a winemaker) was the first winemaker at the aforementioned Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa. He was also, perhaps, the first flying winemaker in the United States.