I love a good rosé. I’m also very picky about my rosé. From pale pink to deep salmon, a rosé of pinot noir can be all over the map, but generally speaking, it is delicious.
It’s that time of year again! The are APril showers, which means…bud break, wildflowers, and Passport!
It’s been 23 years of Passport to Dry Creek Valley. Way back in 1990, the Winegrowers of DCV started this event to bring people together at a time of year when we can celebrate the vineyards, the families, the roots of DCV and of course – the wines.
I am so excited to be attending Passport to Dry Creek Valley again this year! During the weekend of April 27-28, 50 wineries will welcome visitors with special pairings, wine, food and entertainment. One of the special parts of Passport is that many wineries offer unique tours, and grape to glass stories of their property.
Check out this list of yummy wineries that I’ll be stopping by (partial list of all pouring)
- Bella Vineyards & Wine Caves
- Chateau Diana
- DaVero Farms and Winery
- Dry Creek Vineyard
- Dutcher Crossing
- Frick Winery
- Fritz Winery
- Göpfrich Winery
- Gustafson Family Vineyard
- Kachina Vineyards
- Kokomo Winery
- Malm Cellars
- Martorana Family Winery
- Mounts Family Winery
- Papapietro Perry Winery
- Peterson Winery
- Quivira Vineyards & Winery
- Ridge Vineyards
- Roadhouse Winery
- Seghesio Family Vineyards
- F. Teldeschi Winery
- Unti Vineyards
- West Wines
I’m really excited to see all of the new names on the list!
In addition to these graet wineries, you can take a tour of Preston Farm and Winery on Sunday, and check out Grandpa’s Red jug wine – one of the last great jug wines produced. You can also wander the gardens, and taste some of the delicious organic produce. Or, on Saturday, take a ride up the hill to Gustafson Winery, with sweeping views of the valley, and learn about the unique soils while sipping the delicious Cabernet.
I can’t wait to see you there! Tickets are $120 for the weekend, or $70 for Sunday. This is event ALWAYS sells out, so make sure to pick up your tickets early HERE!
Ahhh the good old days. Back a few years ago, you know,
18 or so five or six, I was an undergrad at SSU. Boy how times have changed! My little university is all grown up, with a rather outstanding wine business department.
The Wine Business MBA students have been busy making wine in cooperation with Kokomo Winery, and this year is their second release. The 2011 Dry Creek Valley Cuvee is ready to roll, and they will be celebrating with a release party on April 20th at the winery!
Sonoma State Cellars started as a pipe dream, but it has come to be a wonderful reality. One day, I hope to further my education with this stellar team of teachers, wine makers and business people, but for now, please join me on April 20th at Timber Crest Farms to celebrate the new release!
Over the past two years, Kokomo Winery has worked closely with the MBA candidates at SSU to create a real-world project in wine business. As luck would have it, this liquid asset has been wildly successful. Who knew, that in the fall of 2010 when Erik Miller, erstwhile winemaker and owner of the winery, visited of the classes that he’d be so inspired. Watching the program develop and seenig the first crop of graduates grow in their wine business careers spurred him to stay in touch, and participate in industry gatherings like this one.
Last year, the school turned the fun project of winemaking in to a graduate class (BUS525W – Wine Business Experience), where students could learn more about the hands on operation and complexities of marketing wine. I personally cannot wait to have this experience for myself!
To receive your allocation of this limited production wine, please visit www.sonoma.edu/
Time: 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Place: The picnic grounds and bocce court at Timber Crest Farms, 4791 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org to make sure the headcount is correct.
See you there!
Those of you who know me, know that I tend to…well, spill things. Occasionally, I’m a downright klutz. Who can forget the poolside tasting at the very first Wine Bloggers Conference, where we had Riedel look alike glasses that were made of acrylic? Ah, the simple pleasures of unbreakable glassware.
Well, now, you can bring this experience to a table / pool / other location near you with the Vino2Go™ wine sippy cup! This classic to go tumbler has a wine glass shaped insert, making it a convenient and easy to use product.
Now, I know, it’s a bit silly and totally unnecessary – but – it’s actually a brilliant idea for boats, picnics, and long bus rides! No more breakage, spillage, or wild patterns on your favorite white table cloth. I know I’ll be taking my new sippy cup on the road with me, and you can too!
Bistro Karlo, was an elegant restaurant in an old house just off the main square of Zagreb. Marcy had engaged her social media workforce to find a great place for us to eat on our free day in Zagreb, and @Visit Croatia had slyly indicated that it was, indeed, Zagreb Restaurant week. What a find! While Liza and I were getting post flight massages (yes, you can hate us now), Marcy went to work finding a great locale.
Our first choice was either closed, or booked, so our next option – Bisto Karlo, seemed liked a terrific choice. The owner, a sommelier as well as chef, and his staff were top notch and greeted even my own sneakered feet with pleasure. We were the only people in the restaurant, which wasn’t that surprising for a Sunday night, for a while and had all of their attention . This wasn’t really that much of a shock, since you have three American’s who are clearly wineaux. The head waiter dabbled in acting, and was a charmer and a comedian. All of the staff were absolutely enchanting, and we let our dinner linger as long as we could.
As it was restaurant week, we had our choice of two set menus. I chose the Fish Menu, as did Marcy, and Liza chose the pork option (which she tells us about here). Once our orders were in, we set about thinking about the wine. One of the reasons Marcy chose this place was the extensive Croatian wine list, most of which were available by the glass. Since I am a newbie to the wines of the region, I told Karlo to pick his favorite pairings, and I am epically glad I did. Since Marcy and I ordered the same menu, Karlo made sure we had some unique wines between the two of us, and there was a riotous game of pass the wine glass between the three of us.
The first course was a pannacotta of cod fish, with freeze dried strawberries and beet sprouts. Now, this is clearly not a pairing I would make myself, and I was not sure about the flavor of panncotta flavored with – dare I say it – my favorite <dripping sarcasm> bacalao (salt cod). However, when it arrived, the creamy pannacotta only had a hint of the sea, and while creamy, was not sweet. The strawberries were that unusual European variety that grows in the south of Spain, and while fresh and delicious, is not terribly sweet. Coupled with the bitterness of the beet sprouts, it was a stunning dish. This was paired with Karlo’s own Pink Elephant Posip.
Next up, a fresh salad of spinach leaves, with fresh sardines, lightly fried. Now I am NOT a fan of the sardines we get here, but these little fishes – crispy and melt in your mouth delicious – were something to remember. With this dish, Karlo served the KrauthakerSyrah, which was so good I had to have another glass with the salmon! Who says you can’t have red with fish?
Finally, the salmon. This was most likely the best salmon I’ve had to date, and was cooked just to the point of setting; Liza described it as having a custard like consistency, and while I’d go a bit firmer, it was just perfect. Paired with an odd sauce of white chocolate, the pairing was surprisingly delicious and playful on the palate. The Syrah was perfect for this as well.
Just another fabulous day in Zagreb! Oh and the cost of this epic 4 course dinner plus the free entertainment? Less than US$50 each.
Hum is a tiny little hamlet, still surrounded by it’s hilltop walls, in the middle of Istria. A small remnant of medieval life clinging to it’s roots, it has entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the smallest town in the world. While it might not be the smalled in size, it’s officially a town and has it’s own government.
Getting to Hum can be a challenge, and we found ourselves backtracking the highway on local roads with signs pointing in every direction. There is no GPS out here, so we just threw caution to the wind – and maybe said a small prayer to the rakija gods – to find this hidden treasure.
Seventeen turns, 3 misguided dead ends, and one near miss with a local, and we were on the right road to rakija!
How’s that for the little guy! But there is more to Hum than meets the eye. This castle (really, that’s what it is, a castle and the court around it), is a center point for the now lost Glagolitic script, which is considered to be the earliest form of the written Croatian language – and be the forefather to modern Cyrillic.
But…since this is a post about wine tourism, what about the wine? All around the steep and sloping hillsides, you can see the vineyards that roll on to the coastal borders of Istria. Here in Hum however, they are more known for Rakija. Rakija is the Croatian word for Grappa, and is typically made from distilling the alcohol that is produced from the leftovers of wine making, like grape skins. Here in Croatia, Rakija can also be made from a base alcohol of brandy, applejack, or other forms of fruit liquor.
As we meandered around Hum, Mladen – our intrepid Funky Zagreb driver, tour guide, comic relief, and all around Mad Max replicant, pointed out the Rakjia museum & shop. Yipee! What a way to break up a long drive!
Here, we tasted many of the flavors, including Biska, the most famous – made from mistletoe, or Medcina, made from honey, red wine, apple, pear, and so many more. In Croatia as well as other parts of this region, everyone makes their own Rakjia. It is a point of pride as to who makes the best, and the secret recipes are a much guarded treasure. Try as we might, we just couldn’t get the secret out, although Mladen did give us a sample of his famous walnut upon our return to Zagreb.
After imbibing in several flavors, we all left, happy, warm and well stocked. And, according to legend, rakjia cures cancer, and can be used as liniment for sore muscles. I think I’ll try it!
And, if you’re in the mood for a real treat, Hum hosts an annual Rakija festival every October. Bring your best attempt and share in the fun!
After Hum, we were back on the road to Rovinj, and the coast. Stay tuned for the continued adventures of the Bourne Wine-Premacy!
After our snowy and rainy day of exploring Zagreb, the intrepid Mousekateers set off to explore Istria, the dangling participle of Croatia. This peninsula of land that is tucked under the Trieste region of Italy, and just under the former Yugoslav region of Slovenia, now a thriving independant country of it’s own. Hanging out in the middle of the Adriadic, it has been part of Venice, part of Yugoslavia, and now part of Croatia. Istria is distinctly – Istrian.
Are you Italian? Are you Croatian? I am Istrian!
But first, how does one get to Istria (Istra in Italian)? From Zagreb, in the northern plains, and no where near the coastal riviera of Dalmatia, we had to get over a high mountain pass, around an inlet, and over to the other side of Istria to the gorgeous port city of Rovinj.
So how in the world were three wine & travel writers, with all of our luggage and booming voices, supposed to accomplish this? Marcy, Liza and I really didn’t want to deal with the headache of renting a car in Europe, and weren’t comfortable driving in a country that had a language more foreign than a French wine label. So…
Mladen to the rescue! A former engineer, Mladen Car offers a wide variety of biking,
hiking, walking, and driving tours in both Zagreb and the rest of Croatia. Known as Funky Zagreb, he loves Mad Max, beer, and showing off his town. Growing up in Zagreb, with the sense of humor that rivals a stand up comedy open mike night, I cannot recommend Mladen’s services highly enough. In fact, I’m already thinking of my next visit, when we can explore some of the places that we didn’t have time to see on this visit – like the barrel maker, a great restaurant in Rovinj, and his favorite beer bars in Zagreb.
With the mini van packed to the gills with bags and wine writers, we set off for our first stop – Hum, the official Smallest Town in the World, and the capital of Rajkia (Croatia’s answer to grappa, but more on that later).
There is a change when you pop through the other side of the tunnel and end up high above the large port city of Rijeka. At the crossroads of a multi-cultureral stew, Rijeka is the gateway to Istria. Passing through town, you can see the hustle and bustle of Italy, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and eastern Europe coming together.Now, back to Istria.
While it will be quiet in the off season, I am looking forward to exploring wine capital of Croatia! Istria has been heavily influenced by Italy, and there are medieval hill towns reminiscent of Tuscany, and vineyards clinging to the hillside slopes with sweeping view.
Istria is roughly the shape of a heart, or triangle, and is separated from the rest of Croatia. The best part of this area is that is one of the most widely known wine regions in Croatia. It’s a particularly fascinating part of the region since it has been a land in conflict and rule for over 1000 years. After the fall of Rome, Istria belonged to several warring factions of Europe. Most recently, it has been part of the Republic of Venice, part of Yugoslavia, and now, part of Croatia – and yet, it maintains it’s separate and distinct identity. While many people speak Italian, they also speak Croatian. In places that are closer to the current boarder of Slovenia, they might speak Slovenian, Croatian, Italian, and – quite possibly – German.
Wandering the streets of Zagreb, our erstwhile Wine Mafia ducked in and out of small lanes, and explored cafes, shops, and the antique mart.
After being confronted by an aggressive seller at the market for taking a picture, and asked “what are you buying today lady?”, I skulked off to examine the other merchandise while Marcy, Liza and I wove the lanes. Liza spotted a stall with some beautiful replica pieces from the Renaissance. Needless to say, it was impossible to resist to the charms of Hrvoje Marusic, the jeweler. Noticing our admiration of some earrings (and for me, a lovely ring), he said well, I like you – so for you, the price is 90 Kuna. But if you are a returning customer, it’s less! So, will you come back? To which we smiled coyly.
As Liza completed her purchase of some earrings, I was pawing through the rings when I found one that called my name. Naturally I asked, may I have this one? Hinting at what my price would be since I was a special friend. He swiftly said well, it’s 90 Kuna (less than $20) but for you, 80. And if you buy your friend a coffee, less! Of course, having just come from the coffee shop, Liza and I melted in to giggles, as we paid him and walked away smiling, hearing “please come back soon!” in our ears.
Just another day in Zagreb!
It’s Sunday here in Zagreb, and while the rain has let up, it’s misty and humid. St. Catherin’s Cathedral is shrouded in a foggy curtain as it loom above the town square.
But who cares! I’m in Croatia! Croatia has long been on my list of must visit countries, and I”m glad I made it here in once piece. Arriving in London yesterday, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was a bit trepidatious, visiting a new country, where the language is vastly different from the Western Europe Romance languages
But, to my delight, I was at once welcomed and treated to some spectacular service. In the air, Croatian Airlines has a new program that is showing off both the regional cuisine and the the regional wines. On this flight, they focused on Slovania, a rural, agriculture region east of Zagreb.
On the short flight from Heathrow to Zagreb, I tried the Galic Grasevina, a bright white, with lovely acidity and mineralogy that was refreshing and zingy. With lime leaf, lemon, and low alcohol, this was a great introduction to the wine of the region.
The Croats are so proud of their wines, and they love to show them off. This was evident as we got the hotel, and decided to do a little bar exploring. The rain and jet lag kept us from venturing out, but the friendly bartender at the Bar Diana at the Westin took our direction easily, and excitedly picked wines for us to try. ”Do you like it? Yes?” he continually asked. ”Yes!” Liza and I replied in unison, as we tried 3 delightful wines.
But more on those wines to come…
First impressions? Friendly, open, welcoming. Proud, strong, hard working.
Today we are off to explore some wine bars here in Zagreb, as well as the Museum of Broken Relationships, and…ice cream!
Tomorrow, the Three Mouskateers are off to Istria, to explore the dangling participle of Croatia, where the corssroads of Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Croatia come together in a seaside wine focused cuisine.
Živjeli! At some point, I will fight the battle with my electronics to figure out how to use the Slavic language buttons, but until then, please excuse any spelling variations.