Sometimes, smaller is better

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Often times, people have the assumption that larger is better; whether it’s in wine, packages of snacks at Costco, or houses with more bedrooms than people in the town where I went to boarding school, the message is bigger is better.  Even in wine, the message can be bigger is better; while not referring to size, it often shows up in large production labels, that assume that releasing 10,000 cases means they are successful.  It also shows up stylistically, when wines become Fraken-fied, with additives and strange concoctions of science much more than art. My choice, therefore, is to spend as much money as I can on supporting smaller, local producers who not only need to cash more, but have more creativity and stylistic control than – dare I say it – that label with the Kangaroo on it down the street. Luckily for me, I was invited to the Micro Winery Open House at Inspiration Custom Crush in Santa Rosa recently.  Here, several smaller wineries – including Inspiration, were pouring their wares.  I have a few highlights from the event and a shamless plug for a fellow blogger turned winemaker who is doing some great things with Rhone varitals. First up, Wesley Ashley Wines‘ Intelligent Design Cuvee Blanc is a Rhône style blend of  Vioginer, Roussanne, and Grenache Blanc from Santa Barbara.  The Viognier adds a nice aromatic note, while the Roussanne gives a crisp acidity that would be perfect for a summer sipper.  We all know by now, that I love a good Grenache Blanc, and the 20% addition to this blend rounds out the white and gives it a solid body.  This is no wimpy wine!  Classic flavors of nectarine and apricot show up under the floral notes of the viognier. Also from Wesley Ashely, the 2009 Intellivent Design Cuvee is another classic Rhône blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Petite Sirah.  The Grenache, which is 75% of the blend, shows off its strawberry spice, with the Syrah adding some great backbone. YOu can find Wesley Ashely Wines at the winery by appointment, The Wine Mine in Oakland, and several restaurants around the bay area. This is a winery to watch! Keeping on the Rhône theme, next up we meet the Two Shepherds.  William Allen, a fellow wine blogger over at Simple Hedonisms, and partner Michelle Berger launched Two Shepherds wine to focus on Rhône style wines from California with distinction. So far so good I’d say!  It takes extreme talent and guts to start a winery, particularly if you’re day job is in sales, as William’s is.  Having known him for a few years now, I have seen first hand the sheer tenacity that it takes to launch a brand, learn about the chemistry of winemaking, the ins and outs of running a business and also trying to pay the bills.  Kudos to a successful launch! I was one of the lucky few to taste the delicious Grenache Blanc, which is sadly sold out now – but it was a great example of a Rhône white, that balances out acidity with the creamy subtle […]

Be an Inspiration!

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An on the same day as NZ Wine Day, if you’re in the Santa Rosa area, make sure you stop by the Open House for a new Micro Winery co-op tasting room.  The industrial complex at Coffey Lane currently houses several wineries, and has become a go to destination for urban wine tasting in the North Bay. Inspiration Vineyards has long been a friend and personal favorite of this blogger, and now, they are located in their own custom crush and tasting room space at 3360 Coffey Lane, Suite E, in Santa Rosa,  Six small wineries will be featured here, and having tasted two of them before, you won’t be sorry. These wineries don’t have public tasting rooms, so this is a unique opportunity to to TRY & BUY wines from seven uniquely different wineries, each with their own winemaker present to tell you their stories and introduce you to their wines. Experience the small lot, artisinal wines from: Colagrossi Wines – offering a white Rhone blend Inspiration Vineyards where A little Inspiration makes every day a celebration. Little Red Vineyard featuring a REDiculous blend of Cab Sauv and Syrah. Premonition Cellars – pinot noir, need I say more? Simple Math Cellars – Pi, MC2, 1+2 – it all adds up! Two Shepherds – Unique Rhone Wines that Express Their Sense of Place Wesley Ashley Wines – Wine with a soul If you buy your tickets now, they include $15 Wine & Food Credit!  That means you’re really only paying $5 to attend this fun tasting.  Upon check-in at the door, you’ll receive $10 back in wine bucks, redeemable on the day of the event at ALL seven wineries.  Additionally, by registering in advance on Eventbrite, you’ll receive another $5 back in wine & food bucks that you can redeem for either wine or food from Ultra Crepes. I am a huge man of the micro winery movement, and I hope you will join us for this event.  While you’re in the area, stop by The NPA or head over a few blocks to the Wine Yard! Advance Tickets are available HERE.  Get them while they last!