Passport to the best of Dry Creek Valley

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It’s that time of year again – warm sunny days, cool rose, and wine events galore.  One of the best events in Dry Creek is Passport, which takes place April 26-27 in Dry Creek Valley, part of the Sonoma County region. This year, the region celebrates 25 years of Passport to Dry Creek, where 50 wineries open thier doors and welcome wine lovers. Saturday and Sunday, special vineyard tours are offered to give visitors an insider peek at the grape to glass experience.  This year, you can choose from Pasternick, specializing in Rhone style wines, Grey Palm Vineyard, who is home to the newest member winery – Cast Wines,  or on Sunday, head over to Palindrome Vineyard where you can dig in the red bench soils, or – finally  – Hawley Winery high up on Brandford Mountain.  These tours are a once in a lifetime opportunity to get a deep dive in to a particular area of Dry Creek, and worth the price of admission alone! I love the themes, the music, and the fun atmosphere of this event.  I also love that there are many wineries that are not open to the public, and this is my best chance to taste the wines and visit the properties. Check out some of my favorite wineries along Dry Creek Valley: Frick is serving up Rhone style wines in a quiet secluded spot with gorgeous views Kokomo Winery – with so many options, it’s hard to choose which is my favorite wine, but the pinot and the grenache rose are very special.  Take a taste of some fusion cuisine, and enjoy the new age bluegrass band UNTI – always amazing, will be shucking oysters to pair with thier rose, as well as food from local fave Spinster Sisters, all to the tunes of the Healdsburg High School band Ridge Lytton Springs will have southern confort food to go with their stunning zinfandels and rhone blends Mounts Family Winery is a hidden gem on the west side, with a circus theme of magical elixirs to quench your thirst With over 50 wineries participating, and musical, food, and winery experiences, why not spend the weekend in Dry Creek Valley!  Sunday only tickets are sold out but you can book your full weekend pass for $120 now Many of these wineries are not open to the public on a regular basis, so this is your to check them out! I plan on visiting my favorites, but also a few new stops along the way.  I’ll be sure to report back after the event with some top stops along the wine road. My passport is stamped and I’m ready to go! My visit was provided by the Winegrowers of Dry Creek, but my picks and thougts are my own.  Follow along on Twitter for updates during the weekend at #DCVPassport and be sure to follow @DryCreekValley and @luscious_lushes on twitter! Google  

Get your passports ready!

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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!

When socializing goes mainstream

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What’s a tweetup you ask?  Why would you tweet something up?  Recently, I had the opportunity to meet and greet with dozens of the Bay Area’s finest, bloggers and wine professionals, as well as just some very cool people at the The Napa Valley Tweetup – Presented by Robert Mondavi Winery. Earlier in the day, the Social Media Seminar provided an in depth look at how social media is changing the wine industry, and how users are becoming more engaged via blogs and other social media platforms.  Then it was time to have some fun!  Hidden int he stunning To Kalon Cellar, with it’s giant redwood tanks and awe inspiring barrel cellar, the in crowd assembled to taste Mondavi’s wines and mingle over a social media cocktail.  In the rather cavernous dungeon, we were greeted by Gabriel Carrejo, who is the cheerleader behind many digital media tweetups and networking events. Once inside, atop the catwalk above those giant redwood fermentation tanks, there were stations set up with each of the wines, where we were instructed to check in on FourSquare at east tasting station in the hopes that we might win some swag.  More importantly, the social locator allowed us to see who else might have been at the event, and seek out those individuals that we might want to meet, by nature of the geo locating tool.  Say what you might about tools like FourSquare – but for social location, networking, and impromptu meetups over a glass of wine, it is an invaluable tool. As I wandered from station to station, I saw many of my old friends, and was able to reconnect over a glass of wine.  In addition, it was a spectacular networking event as I met many more tweeters and industry insiders that were in attendance.  The benefit to events such as this are difficult to measure; however, on a personal level, having the ability to meet many people that I have not otherwise had the opportunity to do , and to revisit a winery that I have not been to in a while is invaluable.  Changing perception in this business can be challenging; too often, large wineries write people off if they are no longer repeat customers.  this is a poor business decision in a challenging economy, as EVERY old customer can be a new customer provided that the experience is a good one. Mondavi is one such winery that I have been underestimating.  Long ago, I was a frequent visitor and a fan.  Then I grew up, and started visiting smaller wineries, and other wineries, by passing the monolith as I cruised up 29.  On this night, I was shown the light, both in the warm welcome by the Mondavi staff, and in their willingness to embrace social media and us, the Mediaites, by providing an elegantly casual setting where social media users and curiosity seekers mingled, discuss business, blogs, twitter, and just have a good time, puts the Social back in to social media. […]

On the Verge (again)

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If you read my last post on VERGE Wines, you know that I already love them.  This time, they are releasing their 2007 VERGE Syrah, from Dry creek Valley.  It is only the winery’s second vintage, and it is impressive. VERGE Wines specializes in what they call “Fringe Vineyards”, those that are outside the norm.  In this case, on the edges of Dry Creek Valley.  Additionally, VERGE focuses on vineyards that are farmed organically, bio-dynamically, and sustainable – while still producing yummy wines.   Mike Brunson, the head cheese…oh winemaker…for VERGE and another favorite, Michel-Schlumberger, has been making syrah for over 15 years. Last year, I was hot on the heels of the VERGE Viognier.  Now, I’m loving the Syrah.  The 2007 Syrah is primarily Grist Vineyard fruit, where the grapes are shrouded in fog up on Bradford Mountain.  I have a soft spot for this vineyard, as I made Zinpatico Zinfandel at Crushpad in 2008 from their fruit, and it is yummy.   Only 50 cases of this beauty were produced, and it shows flavors of blueberries, blackberries, baking spice, and black cherries.  It was a juicy syrah, and i smelled blackberries (I can never tell which KIND of blackberries though!) and cassis.  ON the palate the first thing I noticed was YUM!  I really enjoyed this wine.  I tasted black raspberries, chocolate covered cherries and blackberries with a hint of salami (no i was NOT eating it at the time), bacon, and toasted marshmallow.  At the end I also tasted prunes and a touch of tar with a zing of hibiscus. Lucky for me, Jay Kell gave me two bottles to sample because that first one dissaprered in a hurry!  At $40, it might be pricy for your average wine, but for a handcrafted syrah, it’s worth it if you’re a Syrah freak like I am.   STRONG BUY Wine was provided by VERGE Wines, though I plan to add some to my cellar.