New Rosé Wine Revolution in Puglia, Italy

Many regions of the world produce lovely “pink” rosé wine, but an area getting more attention now is the Puglia region of Southern Italy. Nestled along the Adriatic Ocean in the “boot heel” of Italy, Puglia – also called Apulia – and pronounced “pulia,” is producing rosé wines from their native grapes. However, in Italy, the term for rosé wine is “rosato.”

Rosé wine from Puglia in Southern Italy. Photo Credit; Association Instagram

What Types of Grapes Go Into Puglia Rosé Wine?

Rosé wines are usually made by pressing red grapes early and letting the juice sit on the skin for a few hours before it achieves the desired “pink” color.  Then the pink juice is fermented into wine in a very similar fashion as white wines are made. They age for a few months in stainless steel tanks and then are often bottled young and released in January and February to be enjoyed throughout the year.

The most common red grapes used to make Rosé are Grenache, Syrah, and Pinot Noir, but in Puglia, they are using their native Primitivo, Negramaro and Bombino Nero grapes, amongst many others. For more information on how Rosé is made in Puglia, click HERE.

Puglia in Rosé Association

Puglia in Rosé Association Spreads the Good News

Caterina Baldini is the president and co-founder of the Puglia in Rosé Association. Their purpose is spreading and boosting the good news about Puglian Rosè Wines from Southern Italy. To this end, they have developed a touristic and educational web portal.  It highlights the beauty of Southern Italy, and the wineries, farms, and restaurants that are producing Puglian products.

Furthermore, 2020 appears to be a positive harvest year in Puglia. According to Lucia Nettis, Director in Chief of the Puglia in Rosé Association, “The 2020 grape harvest has been great in Puglia. We registered a lower production but a better quality compared to last year.”

The Coast Line of Puglia. Photo Credit: Paolo Petrignani

Puglian Rosé Fashionable During COVID Lockdown

Furthermore, despite the COVID lockdown, rosé wine in Puglia has been the only style of wine to experience increased growth in 2020. “It’s fashionable,” says Nettis, “and producers nowadays are starting to drink it more frequently. In fact, 70% of those who produced rosé in 2019 have already sold out. Therefore, winemakers are rushing now to finish the 2020 harvest to be able to have Puglian rosé wine available at Christmas. They are also starting to produce more sparkling rosé wines.”

To find rosé wine from Puglia, check out your local wine shops or shop online.

Alberobello Village in Puglia. Photo Credit: Paolo Petrignani

Josh Hart, NBA Player and Wine Fan, Announces New Scholarship with Wine Access

For centuries, wine has been a cultural experience that brings people of all backgrounds together. With this in mind, Wine Access, the online wine retailer curating the world’s highest quality wines and immersive tasting experiences, partnered with Josh Hart, NBA player and wine enthusiast, to create a Diversity In Wine Scholarship Program.

Josh Hart Announcing Wine Diversity Scholarship

This scholarship aims to promote diversity and inclusivity in the wine industry and increase representation of the BIPOC community. As a company made up of wine experts with different backgrounds and experiences, Wine Access strives to provide more opportunities for minority groups within the wine industry to receive credentials from CMS and WSET in order to get their foot in the door as they move through their journey of becoming sommeliers.

“I entered the wine world as a young Black man and was lucky enough to build some incredible relationships. However, I also saw how many barriers to entry there can be for other young people of color,” said Josh Hart, a professional basketball player in the NBA. “This industry can often seem intimidating, but Wine Access makes it more comfortable for newcomers to build their knowledge and expand their palate.”

Video on How the Scholarship Works

The scholarship will reward 100 members of the BIPOC community who currently work in or aspire to pursue a career in the wine industry with the chance to learn from top wine industry professionals and become WSET Certified. Top performers can even earn additional opportunities—including a trip to Napa with Josh.

To apply, applicants need to complete an online form HERE. The deadline to submit an application is October 31st, 2020. For more information, watch this short VIDEO of Josh describing the scholarship.

Josh Hart and Vanessa Conlin MW, Wine Access Head of Wine

About Wine Access

Wine Access is a leading online wine retailer focused on creating an immersive experience, empowering consumers to experience the under-the-radar winemakers and iconic producers who define the art of wine. Founded in 1996, Wine Access was the internet’s original unified wine portal which made it easy for consumers to shop for wines online and deliver them to their doorsteps nationwide. Today, Wine Access also offers a wine club, a robust online retail outlet, exclusive private-label offerings, regional events throughout the country, as well a comprehensive wine content platform spanning social media, video and podcasting. 

“We’ve gotten to know Josh Hart through this process and learn about his love of wine, so we’re excited to partner with him for this long-overdue initiative,” said Joe Fisch, CEO of Wine Access. “No matter what ethnicity, background or gender, wine is the great communicator that unites us all.”

Intercept Wine, Created by Black NFL Player Charles Woodson, Now Available Across the US

Charles Woodson is the only defensive player ever to win a Heisman Trophy, and now he has achieved another triumph. After launching Intercept Wine in partnership with O’Neill Vintners & Distillers in 2019, Woodson was confronted by an issue which many producers in the wine industry face – trying to get wine distributed in more than just a few states.  In the beginning Intercept Wine was only available in 15 states, but now it has achieved full national distribution through its partnership with O’Neill Vintners & Distillers.

Charles Woodson with his wine brand, Intercept

This makes Super Bowl champion, Charles Woodson, the first black NFL player to gain full US distribution with a wine brand. Named “Intercept” wine as a connection to his football career, Woodson currently offers four different wine styles: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and a Red Blend, all at a suggested retail price of $19.99. They can be purchased in stores across the nation, or online at his website, where it is available to be shipped directly to consumers in 28 states, with more to follow.

Line-up of Intercept wines

“In light of what is happening in the US currently and the worldwide uncertainty, I am in awe of the reception that Intercept has achieved in less than one short year,” said Woodson. “I have always thought that wine was universal – that it brings people together – and I can’t be more grateful for the response we have seen from distributors, retailers and, most importantly, wine fans.”

Charles Woodson in the vineyard

Ferrari Cars Celebrate With Ferrari Trento Sparkling Wines

Two iconic Italian brands come together in Florence on September 12 and 13th to celebrate the 1000th Grand Prix. The famous Ferrari car company partners with the historic Ferrari Trento sparkling wine company for this special occasion.

Photo Credit: Ferrari Scuderia and Ferrari Trento Sparkling Wine

For the first time in its history, the Mugello Circuit will host a FIA Formula 1 World Championship™ class race, and its coinciding with the important milestone of Scuderia Ferrari –the only team present in all of the 70 editions raced till now – has created the perfect occasion for celebrating in style in Florence with a Gala Dinner in the Sala dei Cinquecento inPalazzo Vecchio. The Ferrari Trentodoc bubbles will welcome the guests as they enter the venue.

This collaboration represents a bond between the two symbols of special magic from Italy. Both are emblems of the story of two visionary men, two dreamers, two entrepreneurs – Enzo Ferrari and Giulio Ferrari – who were perfectionists obsessed with the details and research of excellence that have made unique the products they were capable of imagining and creating. These two dreams today still live on in anyone who pronounces the name “Ferrari”, one of those words that speaks of Italy and that fills the heart with passion.

The Ferrari Team. Photo Credit: Ferrari Scuderia

About Ferrari Trento Sparkling Wine

Founded in 1902 in Trento by Giulio Ferrari and since 1952 run by the Lunelli family, Ferrari is Italy’s leading traditional method winery and a symbol of the Italian Art of Living. 

All Ferrari labels are Trentodoc, bottle fermented sparkling wines produced with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes cultivated with passion and respect following the principles of sustainable mountain viticulture in Northern Italy’s Trentino. Ferrari is the toast of Italy par excellence and accompanies the most important moments in culture, sport and entertainment. Ferrari Trento was named “Sparkling Wine Producer of the Year” for the third time at the 2019 Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships.

Ferrari Trento Sparkling Wine. Photo Credit: Ferrari Trento

Wine Harvest Begins Early in Italy, France, and California – with a Promising Harvest at Ornellaia

Due to stronger heat than normal this summer, many famous wine regions are beginning grape harvest one to three weeks earlier in 2020, compared to previous years. In Italy, at Ornellaia Winery, nestled in the heart of Bolgheri on the Tuscan Coast, harvest commenced on August 13, one week earlier than usual.  In addition to the heat, they have had to adjust to the new COVID safety protocols of social distancing in both the vineyards and the cellars.

Social Distancing in Ornellaia Vineyard

Social Distancing During Grape Harvest

“Distancing is natural in the vineyards,” explains Estate Director Axel Heinz. However, in the cellar where workers traditionally work more closely, Ornellaia had to reorganize the way the grapes were received. “We changed our working methods without altering our operation and without compromising our standards of quality. It has been a significant challenge.

As with other years, the Ornellaia workers started harvesting white grapes first, with bunches of Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. The red varieties, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, are expected to be harvested between the last few days of August and the first week of September.

Watchwords: Confidence and Resilience

Despite the issues, hopes are high for the 2020 vintage, but, like every year, it will be the weather conditions in September that decide the definitive quality of the vintage.

Axel Heinz states, “The watchwords for this first harvest after the Covid-19 lockdown are ‘confidence and resilience’. Our commitment is to work as usual, interpreting the vintage to the best of our abilities while preserving the style and identity of Ornellaia.”

Alex Heinz, Ornellaia Estate Director

About Ornellaia Winery

The name Ornellaia is synonymous with fine winemaking and an authentic expression of the beauty of Tuscany. The estate is situated along the Tuscan coastline, a short distance from the medieval town of Bolgheri and the iconic cypress-lined approach. Ornellaia Bolgheri DOC Superiore and Ornellaia Bianco are the estate’s top wines, ensued by the second vin Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia, Le Volte dell’Ornellaia and the white Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia. In little over thirty years (the first vintage of Ornellaia was in 1985), the team’s dedication accompanied by optimal soil and microclimate have resulted in critical acclaim and public success within Italy and internationally. 

Ornellaia Vineyards, Italy

Make a Prosecco Cocktail to Celebrate National Prosecco Week

Hurray!  It is National Prosecco Week – a perfect reason to run to the store and buy a bottle or more of Prosecco. As you probably know, true Prosecco is only made in Northern Italy from the Glera grape. It is light, fruity and bubbly – a perfect drink before dinner, or many other occasions. When you shop for Prosecco make sure to look for the Prosecco DOC symbol to insure you are buying a true Prosecco approved by the Consorzio di Tutela – the Italian organization that monitors production.

So Many Prosecco Cocktail Recipes

The other great thing about Prosecco is it is perfect to use to make delicious and beautiful cocktails. The Consorzio di Tutela provides some excellent Prosecco Cocktail recipes on their website at this link. Following are a few that are very fun to try.

Rossini – A Prosecco Strawberry Smoothie

Ingredients:

½ cup (10 CL) PROSECCO DOC

1 cup (5 CL) FRESH STRAWBERRIES

1 cup ICE

Directions: Pour the Prosecco Doc and fresh strawberries into a blender with ice. Puree, and then pour into a glass flute. Garnish with a strawberry.

James Bond Prosecco Vesper

Ingredients:

¼ cup (5 CL) PROSECCO DOC BRUT

1 1/2 tablespoons (2,5 CL) VODKA

1 tablespoon (1,5 CL) CRÈME DE POIRE WILLIAM

1 tablespoon (1,5 CL) LEMON JUICE

1 DASH OF ANGOSTURA BITTERS

DRIED PEAR SLICE

ICE CUBES

Directions: Serve in large Prosecco glasses. This cocktail is built directly in the glasses. Fill the glass with ice cubes and place the dried pear garnish inside. Pour the Vodka, Crème de Poire, lemon juice and Angostura bitters and mix with a stirrer. Finish by topping off with Prosecco DOC and stir gently to avoid losing all the lovely bubbles.

Hugo – Prosecco with Elderberry and Mint

Ingredients:

1/4 cup (6 CL) PROSECCO DOC

1 1/2 tablespoons (2 CL) ELDERBERRY SYRUP

1/4 cup (6 CL) SODA

MINT LEAVES

Directions: Pour the Prosecco DOC, elderberry syrup and soda straight into a flared white wine glass with plenty of ice. Top with the mint leaves and stir gently with a bar spoon. Serve with a slice of lime.

Prosecco Fruit Bowl

Ingredients:

1 glass (5 ounces) PROSECCO DOC

Mixed fruit cut into bite-size pieces (strawberries, cantaloupe, melon, peaches, etc.)

Directions: This recipe is courtesy of Brooke Sabel, a Master Teacher for Prosecco. Brook describes one of her favorite Prosecco recipes for brunch or dessert. Simply cut up some of your favorite types of fruit into bite size pieces.  Toss in a bowl with a glass of Prosecco.  Yum!

Favorite Winery Experience at Quatro Quatros in Baja, Mexico

(Contributed by Melanie Sanchez) My favorite winery experienced happened at Quatro Quatros Winery in Ensenada, Mexico.  “Quatro Quantros” means “four fours” in English, and refers to the 144 acres on which this winery is located. It also includes a hotel with 19 cabanas, spa and restaurant. What is very exciting about this winery is its location on a hill overlooking the ocean. Also, it is only 80 miles south of San Diego, so you can cross the border and visit for the day.

Ocean View, Vineyards, and Cabanas at Cuatro Cuatros Winery

My family and I drove down from San Diego to celebrate my birthday. They knew I loved wine and so they chose the perfect spot for my birthday celebration. It was my first ever winery tasting experience, and I was pleased that it was a warm spring day with a refreshing ocean breeze.  When we arrived, we parked in a lower parking lot, and then were transported by 4×4 off-road vehicles to the mountaintop winery with an incredible view overlooking the Pacific ocean.

Melanie with Her Family at Quatro Quatros Winery

Wine Tasting on an Ocean View Hilltop

The winery used an open outdoor rustic concept with stacks of hay covered with table cloths serving as tables and chairs. It was functional and comfortable outdoor furniture, but they also had stylish wood tables if you didn’t care for hay furniture. It was so simple yet still very sophisticated.

Hay Bale Furniture at Quatro Quatros Winery in Baja, Mexico

Once we settled around our hay table, the server welcomed us warmly and recommended the 2013 Quatro Quatros Cabernet Sauvignon. We purchased this along with a cheese, meat and nut platter, which paired nicely with the red wine, tasting of semi-sweet red and black cherries. The server was very experienced and explained about all of the grape varietals grown on the estate. Altogether, they have 40 acres of vineyards, with 82% red grapes and 18% white grapes.

The whole experience was very memorable for me not only because the location and ambiance, but because of the excellent customer service where we learned so much about the wines and estate. The ocean view was the cherry on top. I feel so thankful that I got to have this special moment that I will always remember in one of the most beautiful wineries in Baja, Mexico.

How a Winery Nearly Destroyed By Wildfires and Ravaged by COVID Still Manages to Enchant Visitors

(Contributed by Avery Shive) I’ll never forget my first visit to Soda Rock Winery, located in Sonoma County outside the town of Healdsburg. My mother, two sisters and I had planned a glamorous girls weekend visiting top tier wineries in California Wine Country towards the end of November 2019. Our goal was to have fun, but to also support the wineries by visiting after the devastating fires that swept Sonoma County in October.

Avery
Avery and her sisters at Soda Rock Winery after Wildfires

Wildfires Rage Over Soda Rock Winery

When we heard about the affect the fires had on Soda Rock Winery, we planned on visiting to merely show our support but once we arrived, this winery became so much more than that. Upon arrival we saw that the historic winery, originally established in the 1880s, was almost burnt to the ground from the fires, but still parts of it had survived. The firefighters had managed to salvage some of the main rock wall, the barn, and the grapevines in the back of the winery. Following is a news video depicting the fire at Soda Rock:

A Humble Tasting Room in a Barn with Impeccable Service

When discovered that Soda Rock employees had set up a tasting room in a humble barn with a dirt floor. But from the ceiling there was a grand chandelier covered in crystals hanging over the tables and chairs which overlooked the vineyard. The service at the winery was impeccable, and we were given free tastes of as many wines as they had. I remember falling in love with a crisp chardonnay and a flavorful pinot noir. We were excited to purchase several bottles of wine to take home with us.

This experience was so memorable for me, because it was shortly after Soda Rock was nearly destroyed by the fires. However, not only did they continue to stay open, but all of the tasting room employees had smiles on their faces and were giving out discounts and free tastings. I was so inspired by the large number of people gathered to support such a historic winery, plus the positive and hopeful feeling in the air. It was a very beautiful wine experience, and I will always remember it.

Soda Rock
Soda Rock Winery Re-Opened After Wildfires

Soda Rock Winery Reopens After COVID Shut-Down

Even though Soda Rock winery was able to reopen after the devastating October wildfires of 2019, it was forced to shut down its tasting rooms in March of 2020 due to the COVID pandemic. However, this winery seems destined to rise from the ashes, because, in June 2020, it was able to re-open its tasting room in the vineyards outside the humble barn.

Currently they are offering a by appointment only tasting at a 6-foot segregated tables overlooking the vineyards. It includes 5 wines and a picnic lunch box prepared by Coyote Sonoma Chef Christopher for only $40 per person. For more information and/or to reserve a table, click HERE.

Vin Piscine – The New Exciting Trend of Swimming Pool Wine

I first encountered “Vin Piscine” last year in South Africa on a very hot January day in Johannesberg. Being the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons of South Africa are opposite of North America, and I had spent the hot and humid day on a tour of the city. By the evening, I was ready for a cool glass of chenin blanc wine, but was surprised when the small outdoor café where I went for dinner brought me a bucket of ice, tongs, and my wine in a large balloon glass. Looking around the café, I saw other people with similar glasses and they were all putting ice cubes in their wine, creating a beautiful spectacle of light dancing around the crystal ice cubes and shimmering golden and rosé wines.

IMG_3349

Rosé Piscine and Blanc Piscine

What is “Vin Piscine?”

“Vin Piscine” means “wine swimming pool” in French, and refers to a glass of wine – usually white or rosé colored – served in a large glass with lots of ice.  The ice, which is swimming around in the pool of wine, slowly melts creating an icy refreshing drink referred to by the French as “Vin Piscine.” Apparently, it is all the rage in Paris this summer, as well as last summer, according to a report in Meininger’s. Another popular drink is the “frosé,” which is wine mixed with crushed ice, similar to a crushed ice margarita or daiquiri, but made with wine.

Special Types of Wine Used to Make Vin Piscine

In France, they have actually created a new category of wine designed to add ice.  It is usually stronger tasting so when the ice melts, the wine still retains good flavor.  Examples are illustrated in this advertisement for Blanc Piscine and Rosé Piscine by VinoValle.

Vin Piscine from Vinovalle

Try Making Vin Piscine Yourself at Home

Since it is currently difficult to find this special type of wine in the US market, I decided to try making my own “Vin Piscine.” I pulled out two large balloon wine glasses and filled them half-way with ice cubes.  Then I poured a French Provence rosé in one and a California white blend in the other. The rosé, which was dry, quickly became diluted and didn’t taste as good after some of the ice had melted.  The white wine, however, which was fruitier and more concentrated with a hint of sweetness, actually improved with the ice, and I ended up relaxing by the pool and enjoying my glass of “Vin Piscine.”

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Swimming Pool Wine by the Pool – Vin Piscine

Hike, Picnic and Taste Wine at La Crema Winery’s New Outdoor Tasting Experience

As wineries slowly start re-opening in California, many are getting creative in the types of experiences they offer, because currently most tastings must be outdoors and include food. With this in mind, La Crema Winery took advantage of their beautiful Saralee’s Vineyard property to offer walking tours and picnics in the relaxing gardens surrounded by rolling vineyards.

Guests must make a reservation online in advance. When they arrive, they are provided with a map of suggested walking trails to explore the vineyards and take in the beautiful vistas of the Russian River Valley. Upon conclusion of the walking tour, they receive a pre-packed cheese and charcuterie picnic box with an estate wine to continue the La Crema outdoor experience at home or on the Estate, including at Richard’s Grove, the beautiful, expansive great lawn adjacent to the vineyards.

La Crema has prioritized safety by conducting training with its tasting room and culinary staff. All employees must wear facial coverings, conduct pre-shift health screenings, and thoroughly sanitize surfaces prior to and following all visits. Hand sanitizer stations are also available for guests. La Crema is following all the hygiene and health requirements consistent with CDC guidelines.

Reservations are available daily at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., and can be booked online  HERE. The experience, which includes the walking tour, lunch, and a bottle of wine is $100 per couple.

Photos courtesy of La Crema.com