Outlawed – Watch Outlaw Country Musician Elizabeth Cook Perform Live at Home With a Glass of Paso Robles Wine

This summer is time for delicious wine and safely distanced live music! The exciting Robert Hall At Home Sessions we announced earlier continues with an incredible line-up of talented independent musicians for you and your community to watch from home, and enjoy authentic Paso Robles wine for the occasion. Next Wednesday September 2, the fourth virtual concert will feature contemporary Outlaw singer songwriter Elizabeth Cook, known for her appearances on David Letterman, “hip hard-country delivery, comedic gifts and magnetic personality”.

Elizabeth Cook. Credit: Robert Hall Winery

Watch From Home

You can watch the performance live, and get an exclusive behind-the-curtains recording from the artist after the show. Simply go to Robert Hall Winery’s Facebook page, @roberthallwinery. Previous shows and exclusive behind the scenes artist interviews can still be viewed at RobertHallWinery.com/At-Home-Sessions

Elizabeth Cook’s music video, “Bones”. Credit: Robert Hall Winery

Paso Robles Wine + Special Discount

In addition, Robert Hall is releasing some 2019 vintage wines for the first time, which you can buy directly online. You can now get 20% off using the at home sessions code and free shipping if you live in valid states, including California.

Robert Hall’s latest Cavern Select Vermentino 2019.

About Robert Hall Winery 

Founded in 1999 by the late entrepreneur Robert Hall, Robert Hall Winery showcases the best Paso Robles has to offer. The winery has three estate vineyards in the Geneseo and Estrella Districts, totaling 136 planted acres of fruit. In addition to growing Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and Syrah, the winery also sources grapes across the Paso Robles AVA. This provides Head Winemaker Don Brady with a broad range of soils and micro-climates that, together, create optimal fruit for the beautiful wines that capture the essence of Paso Robles.  

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

Not Just Another Wine Auction: Portland Trailblazer Star turned Winemaker CJ McCollum and Wine for Social Good

With its natural terroir ideal for growing Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley is also Oregon’s largest wine growing region with over 70 varietals. Willamette Valley Winery Association is their wine industry association, which organizes an annual Pinot Noir auction that just ended on August 13. This year, 74 wine lots from the 2018 vintage made exclusively for the auction were sold, with proceeds this year not only supporting the Association’s education and marketing initiatives, but an additional $100,000 dedicated to the James Beard Foundation’s Open For Good Campaign – Food & Beverage Investment Fund for Black and Indigenous Americans.

From the “Normal” Willamette Auction…
…to the Online Willamette Valley auction this year

Many Firsts

This was a special year for the Willamette Pinot Auction: going online for the first time, with the opening featuring its first-ever Ambassador, Portland Trailblazer NBA star and now Willamette Valley’s newest winemaker CJ McCollum, who launched his own wine McCollum Heritage 91 with Adelsheim Vineyards in June this year.

CJ McCollum and his new wine, McCollum 91 Heritage.

Supporting Black & Indigenous American Food & Beverage Businesses

The $100,000 donation, or about 20% of total profit, will go to the James Beard Foundation Food & Beverage Investment Fund for Black and Indigenous Americans. This fund supports food and beverage businesses owned by Black and Indigenous Americans, with the goal to rebuild an independent, more equitable restaurant industry following re-openings post-pandemic.   

Credit: James Beard Foundation

About Willamette Valley Wineries Association
The Willamette Valley Wineries Association (WVWA) is a non-profit industry association dedicated to achieving recognition for Oregon’s acclaimed Willamette Valley as a premier Pinot noir-producing region. Currently, the WVWA has nearly 250 members representing wineries and tasting rooms throughout the Willamette Valley region from Portland to Eugene. 

Celebrate Jewish New Year with Innovative Kosher Wines from Around the World!

What better way to start the Jewish New Year than sharing great wines with loved ones? Traditionally, wine or grape juice is an important part of Kiddush, which means “sanctification” in Hebrew, a ceremony where a blessing is recited over wine or grape juice.

Wine and Pomegranate, a fruit symbolic of good deeds and wishes.

Royal Wine Corp is bringing a fresh selection of kosher wines from California, Israel, France and South Africa just in time for Rosh Hashanah, which falls on September 18th this year.

Organic Kosher Wine with Noble History

If you are sensitive to sulfites and want some quality organic kosher wine, you could try Herzog Variation Be-leaf Cabernet Sauvignon, a full-bodied organic Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles with no added sulfites. Herzog Winery was one of the first in America to make kosher wines, with over 9 generations of winemaking. Founded by Rabbi Menachem Herzog, Herzog wines were so sought after by Austrian Emperor Franz Josef that he dubbed then-owner Phillip Herzog a Baron.

Herzog’s Paso Robles vineyard. Credit: Herzog Winery

Surprise Yourself With Wild Yeast Wines!

Have you tried wines fermented with “wild” yeast that originate from the vineyards? Winemaker and Master of Wine candidate Ido Lewinsohn, known for experimenting with wild yeast and whole cluster pressing, has made Segal Wild Fermentation Chardonnay and Segal Wild Fermentation Cabernet Sauvignon from Gailelee, Israel resulting in some unique wines representative of their authentic terroir.  

Galilee in Israel. Credit: Isaac Harari

French Winemaking in the Judean Hills

High fashion designer turned Winemaker David Suissa has made high-end kosher wines in Bordeaux before starting his winery Ephod in Israel. You can now try kosher red wines from vineyards in Judean Hills, Galil Elyone and Ramat Hagolan: EbiatarKeter, and Regesh, made with classic Bordeaux grapes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.

Ephod wines.

Kosher Champagne Back By Popular Demand

Established in 1808, Drappier in Champagne, France is known for their quality organic vineyards. After being out of stock for almost 15 months, three of their kosher champagnes are now back on the shelves, just in time for the upcoming Jewish New Year celebrations.

Drappier Carte D’or Brut, kosher champagne

Chill with Canned South African Rose!

For a fun twist, you can try J. Folk from South Africa, a fruity but dry and refreshing rosé that comes in packs of four 250ml cans.

J Folk canned rose.

About Royal Wine/Kedem

Founded in 1848, Royal Wine Corp. has been owned and operated in the United States by the Herzog family, whose winemaking roots go back eight generations to its origin in Czechoslovakia.

Today, Royal Wine’s portfolio of domestic and international wines range from traditional wine producing regions of France, Italy and Spain, as well as Israel, New Zealand and Argentina. 

Additionally, Royal Wine Corp.’s spirit and liqueur portfolio offers some of the most sought-after scotches, bourbons, tequilas and vodkas as well as hard to find specialty items such as flavored brandies and liqueurs.

The company owns and operates the Kedem Winery in upstate New York, as well as Herzog Wine Cellars in Oxnard, California, a state-of-the-art-facility featuring guided wine tours, a fully staffed modern tasting room, gift shop and catering facilities. Additionally, the winery houses the award-winning restaurant Tierra Sur, serving the finest, Mediterranean-inspired, contemporary Californian Cuisine.

Follow Royal Wine Corp on social media: @RoyalWineCorp; https://www.facebook.com/RoyalWineCorp/

#DrinkSouthAfrican Now!

Have you ever tried South African wines? If not, now is a great time to enlighten your wine experience with some unique wines from this country known for their high quality yet affordable wines, with a rich history in winemaking.

Beautiful vineyards of South Africa. Credit: Wines of South Africa

Wine Sales Devastated By Covid-19 Restrictions

A lot has happened in South Africa since our last post about their wine exports resuming after an abrupt ban in March due to Covid-19. National alcohol sales ban has remained in effect, except for a brief period in June, with no end in sight. South Africa is the 8th largest wine producer globally, producing some 974 million liters of wine in 2019, and $1.1 billion worth of revenues in wine exports.

Cargo ship

Livelihoods at Stake

Based on Wines of South Africa estimates, $18 million is lost every week in alcohol revenue since the ban, and 1 in 5 wineries may not survive, affecting the livelihoods of some 300,000 wine industry workers and their families. Even before the pandemic, about half of the country live below poverty line. Moreover, hospitality and food and beverage workers are equally devastated, who have been protesting for relaxation of restrictions.

Vineyard worker transporting grapes in South Africa. Credit: Wines of South Africa

#DrinkSouthAfrican!

Some good news: about half of South African wines are exported globally, and since exports are still allowed, global support is more important than ever. South Africa is a highly reputable New World region that produces a diverse range of grape varietals, such as red Pinotage (a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault) and white Chenin Blanc, and many wine styles worth trying. You can easily find it online or from your local wine shop. Taste, share and spread the word!

Many South African wines to choose from to pair with a nice meal and share with friends and family!

A Breathless Experience: My First Time Breaking A Wine Bottle With a Saber

Have you seen a champagne or sparkling wine bottle being broken open with a saber? I have not, until I was very lucky to have a chance to try it at Breathless Wines, known for their traditional method (the original method for making Champagne) sparkling wine in Healdsburg when Dr. Thach and our group visited!

What is Sabering?

A saber is a type of sword with a curved blade associated with light cavalry in the early modern and Napoleonic periods. The technique of breaking open a champagne bottle using a saber, called “sabrage”, was popularized after the French Revolution, when Napoleon’s cavalries celebrated their victory by using sabers to open champagne bottles.

A saber breaking open a champagne bottle. Credit: Last Bottle Wines

Safety First!

For someone who has never held a saber, let alone cut a bottle open with one, it can be quite intimidating. Luckily, Breathless has very careful protocols guided by their friendly experts. I was led by Sharon, one of the Founding Sisters of Breathless Wines. The “Saberer” first puts on protective heavy duty gloves and safety goggles. Because of Covid-19, an extra pair of disposable gloves are worn before the heavy duty gloves, and of course I was masked up like everyone else. Also, using a cold bottle makes it easier to break.

The saber, cold Breathless Blanc de Noir bottle, and protective gear

Power Pose

Having the correct posture helps to wield power. To start, Sharon demonstrated how to stand sideways, almost like an archer, and hold the body (where the label sits) using my non-dominant hand. Of course, the bottle must be pointed far away from anyone – everyone needed to stand back!

Sharon demonstrating the power pose and how to hold the bottle.

Learning The Technique

Next, Sharon demonstrated the actual technique of holding the saber, and how to strike the bottle. With the saber in hand, the blade sits at an angle to the bottle, and I took a few turns running the blade along the bottle towards the lip, which is the breakage point.

How to hold a saber and where to guide it

Blast off!

Finally, the wire cage was taken off as an extra step to make it easier. Shortly after the demo, I was ready. My hand went faster than I was mentally prepared and POP! Went the top. I did not apply much force, and it felt a lot smoother than expected. Indeed, I read later that it is simply the force applied at a fragile point of the bottle – with already much internal pressure – that breaks it. Some wine was lost, but I held it up in victory, still shocked at what happened just seconds ago. I was relieved no one was hurt!

This happened within seconds!

Serving the Wine

What good is opening a wine if you can’t enjoy it? After sabering, make sure to check for shards before serving. We all got to enjoy a fresh glass afterwards!

Dr. Thach gets the first glass!

Certified Saberer!

Certificate and cork wrapped in Breathless Seal

Breathless Wines awards every Saberer with a “Certificate of Completion”, and the cork sealed with their signature Breathless label. I am really grateful for such an unforgettable experience, and hope to lose less wine next time!

Try it Yourself!

For more information and to schedule this exciting Sabrage Experience, please click here:
https://www.breathlesswines.com/Visit-Us/Sabrage-Experience

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.

Toast to an Eclectic Mix of Live Music this Summer with Robert Hall Virtual Concert Series!

Paso Robles winery Robert Hall is hosting a virtual music concert series, Robert Hall At Home Sessions, live-streaming indie musicians directly from their homes starting this Wednesday July 22. After each concert, the audience will have a special chance to peek behind the scenes and learn directly from the artists about their journeys, personal stories and more.

First Up: Roots Rock Duo, Larkin Poe

A different artist will be revealed before each session. This four-session series kicks off with Grammy nominated Larkin Poe, a roots rock sister duo Rebecca and Megan Lovell based in Nashville. Their latest LP, “Self Made Man,” is a tribute to their journey as artists from constant touring to producing their own music. 

Larkin Poe: Jul 22 Concert
Credit: Robert Hall Winery.

“The Good Life. Well Earned”

The chosen artists reflect Founder Robert Hall’s philosophy and the company’s tagline, “The Good Life. Well Earned”: endless dedication to producing the highest quality results, from every bottle to music for all to enjoy. Unwind, sip and enjoy the rest of the summer with great wine, beautiful music, and feel the community spirit virtually!

Four Sessions Starting July 22 at 5pm PST

Robert Hall At Home Sessions is live on Facebook starting July 22 at 5pm PST on the winery’s Facebook page @roberthallwinery. Future Robert Hall At Home Sessions will be streamed on August 5, August 19, and September 2 with new artists announced the week before each show. To receive updates on the line-up and see exclusive interviews with the artists, head to www.roberthallwinery.com/At-Home-Sessions

Have You Ever Heard of an Italian Wine Grape Called Colombana?

Considered to be a very ancient grape, Colombana Bianca is a white grape from Tuscany, also known by the names “Colombana Peccioli and Verdea.”  Legend states it was brought to Italy by an Irish missionary called St. Columban. He travelled throughout Europe, and gathered many followers who brought vine cuttings to northern Italy. They planted the vine and began to make wine near the towns of Pisa and Milan, but over the centuries the Colombana vines were replaced by other varieties, so it became very rare and was thought to have nearly disappeared.

Slopes of Fattoria Fibbiano. Credit: Fattoria Fibbiano.

Rediscovery of Lost Colombana Vines in Vineyard

Recently the Cantoni family, who own Fattoria Fibbiano Winery south of Pisa, Italy, rediscovered some lost Colombana grape vines growing in their vineyard. Upon analysis, they realized they were identical to those cultivated in Lombardy, Italy, under the name of the Verdea grape. They were excited by this discovery, because in the past, wine made from the Colombana grape in that region was known for its therapeutic properties.

The vines among Fattoria Fibbiano. Credit: Fattoria Fibbiano.

What Does Colombana Taste Like?

Because the grape is so rare, Fattoria Fibbiano decided to craft a new wine made with 100% Colombana grapes. The wine has a brilliant straw yellow color, with rich notes of exotic fruits, such as banana, pineapple, and papaya, with a nose of pressed flowers. It has a notable tanginess from marine soils, with rich acidity that makes it refreshing and deliciously easy to drink.

Colombana wine by Fattoria Fibbiano.

Crafting Colombana Wine

This 100% Colombana wine is produced with cold maceration on the skins at 50 degrees Fahrenheit in stainless steel tanks for 5 days, after which skins are pressed and the must obtained is fermented at a controlled temperature of 54F without using selected yeasts, bringing greater character to preserve authentic qualities of this variety of noble origins. After fermentation is complete, the wine is transferred into concrete tanks, where it rests for 4 months before bottling.

Where to Purchase Fattoria Fibbiano Colombana

Due to the rarity of the Colombana grape, Fattoria Fibbiano winery, was only able to produce only 3,000 bottles of wine. It was released in June 2020, and will be available in select wine shops in the US in the near future.