Wine Tetris Blocks – How I Fell In Love with Wine

(Contributed by J. Onodera) My interest in wine is like a game of tetris, as the “blocks” slowly fell in place over time. It all started during spring break of my junior high school year, when I toured different colleges in the Northwest, one of them being Sonoma State University. As our tour group walked to the Wine Spectator Learning Center on campus, our guide mentioned that the university was the only one in California offering wine degrees in business topics, rather than the traditional Viticulture and Enology degrees. The idea of becoming a player in wine business sparked a sense of motivation in me, and that was how I laid the first row of blocks in the game of Wine Tetris.

“Wine Tetris”

Second Tetris Row – Learning about Wine through People

Laying the foundation of the second tetris row of wine had to do with interactions with other people.Having lived in different parts of California, I have many groups of friends from various demographics, which is also reflected in their drinking habits, ranging from drinking cheap beers to sipping pricier wines. Often at social gatherings with friends, we would open a bottle of wine and pair it with different foods, and then discuss the unique taste combinations that emerged. Through such experiences, I learned how to communicate and connect with different communities, and grow my wine knowledge.

Third Tetris Row – An Unforgettable European Trip

After my sophomore year at Sonoma State University, I decided to splurge on a 3-week cultural and food tour through Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome. I’ll never forget that first day in Madrid, where I was introduced to Sangria – a glass jar filled with ice, red wine, green apples, oranges, and blackberries. Enjoying the ice-cold sangria with a spicy dish of paella was an incredible experience.  As I continued my tour across Europe, the wine and food encounters continued to blow my mind, and I fell more enchanted with the world of wine.

An Evolving Experience

Now as I pursue my degree in Wine Business, I’m really enjoying the chance to explore, develop my palette, and appreciation the diversity of wine. The tetris blocks are coming together faster now, and all of these experiences have made me more confident in my decision to study wine.

The Unknown Story of Gloria Ferrer Champagne Cave’s First Venture into the US Market

Contributed by Jennifer Schiff – The SSU WineSense Club’s first meeting of the Spring 2017 semester featured Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves, a prominent bubble house located in the southernmost part of Sonoma. The sparkling wine house was established in 1982 by the same folks who brought us the globally distributed Cordon Negro, Freixenet. However, there is a little known story about their first venture into the US in the early 1930’s.

screenshot_20170207-165816Multiple Wars and Unrest Delay Arrival to California

After years upon years of producing cava and becoming the largest producer and exporter of sparkling wines in the world, the Spanish company Freixenet decided to extend their reaches and break ground in the wine world here on US soil. When they first ventured to the United States, their visit was cut short due to civil unrest erupting back home, which would eventually develop into the Spanish Civil War of the late 1930s. Shortly following that conflict was World War II, resulting in a less than ideal time for the company’s out of country developments. It wouldn’t be until the 1980s that they would again venture West, this time to the Pacific Coast, in search of a property suitable for the growing of grapes. In 1982 a purchase of 207 acres, now referred to as their Home Ranch, was made. Jose Ferrer, CEO of Freixenet at the time, wisely decided that the estate was suited to be named after none other than his wife Gloria. Over the next four years, vines were planted, buildings constructed, and plans for business drawn up. The doors at Gloria Ferrer opened in 1986 and their adventure as the first sparkling wine house in Carneros began.

Gloria Ferrer Today

Thirty-one years have passed since their opening and Gloria Ferrer has established itself as one of the finest bubble makers here in Sonoma County. Today they are responsible for over 150,000 cases in production, and have accumulated hundreds of Gold Medals in recognition of their wine. The parent company, Freixenet, with over 500 years of winemaking of Metodo Tradicional, took their talents and applied that same expertise to utilizing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay under Methode Champenoise in California.

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SSU WineSense Club Tasting with Gloria Ferrer 

Tasting of Four Gloria Ferrer Wines

During the meeting, we had the pleasure of tasting four different wines from the GF portfolio, all some of their most successful and celebrated products. To ensure no bias or influence was impressed upon us by his words, our speaker opted out of providing any details beyond the name, style, blend, and vintage of the wine, so as to allow us to form our own opinions on tasting notes:

Name Vintage Style Blend Tasting Notes
Sonoma Brut NV Brut 88% Pinot Noir 12% Chard. Citrus, Tart Green Apple
Blanc De Noir NV Brut 92% Pinot Noir 8% Chard. Fruity, Dark Cherry
Royal Cuvee 2007 Brut ⅔ Pinot Noir ⅓ Chardonnay Yeast, Bread, Grapefruit
Brut Rose 2013 Brut 92% Pinot Noir 8% Chard. Red Fruit Straw. Cranberry

 

In the end, all of the wines were delicious and well-received, so it was not possible to select a favorite.

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SSU WineSense Board Members with Gloria Ferrer Staff

Keller Estate and Muscardini Cellars Join SSU in Ugly Holiday Sweater Wine Tasting

Contributed by Sophia Fish – SSU Wine Sense Club ended the semester with a bang, hosting Keller Estate and Muscardini Cellars for an Ugly Holiday Sweater Wine Club meeting! 

Ugly Holiday Sweater Wine Tasting at SSU

Ugly Holiday Sweater Wine Tasting at SSU

 

 

About Keller Estate – A 25-Year Love Affair

The development of Keller Estate has been a 25-year love affair of Arturo and Deborah Keller. The two first fell in love with the estate while driving through Sonoma County. They soon decided to make it the site for a world-class vineyard, as well as their home.

The La Cruz vineyard took root in 1989 when the first chardonnay vines were planted. The first vintage produced by these grapes were sold to Rombauer Vineyards, who quickly saw the amazing potential of the land. In 2000 Keller Estate officially began its own label, and the construction of the winery began.

The Terroir of Keller Estate – The Petaluma Gap!

The Keller Estate is technically located in the Sonoma Coast AVA, but the winery’s terroir is characterized by the Petaluma Gap. If you are a Sonoma County local, you may know a little about a petition recently submitted to establish the Petaluma Gap as a formally recognized AVA.

Keller Estate in the Petaluma Gap

Keller Estate in the Petaluma Gap

The Petaluma Gap is influenced by the San Pablo Bay to the south and the opening in the coastal hills to the northwest (the gap), which allows fog from the Pacific to flow through the Petaluma Valley. These two unique influences generate a lengthy, cool growing season for the vineyards, which is perfect for pinot noir and chardonnay to thrive.

Six Petaluma Gap Wines from Keller Estate 

We tasted six amazing wines from Keller Estate.

  1. 2014 Rose of Syrah: Salmon in color, with aromas of dried cherries, strawberries, citrus and green apple.
  2. 2011 La Cruz Chardonnay: A bright, crisp chardonnay with a touch of acidity and minerality.
  3. 2011 Oro De Plata Chardonnay: Flavors of honeydew and green apple, with a crisp yet creamy finish.
  4. 2012 La Cruz Pinot Noir: Aromas of ripe cherry, spice, orange peel and earth.
  5. 2011 El Coro Pinot Noir: Aromas of raspberry, plum and vanilla. Accented with notes of spice and pine.
  6. 2011 Rotie: A syrah and viognier blend. Flavors of dark berries, earth, spice with leather and tobacco notes.

Keller Estate Wines

Keller Estate Wines

The two favorites from Keller Estate:  2011 El Coro Pinot Noir and 2014 Rose of Syrah

About Muscardini – Italian Heritage

It all starts with Emilio Alchera, born in the village of Calliano in Northern Italy. Emilio came to Ellis Island in New York in 1909. He then settled in San Francisco and saved enough money to buy and run a small grocery store. There he sold bulk wine and when he had time, he made a red table wine for his family. This business eventually developed into the St. Helena Napa Valley Wine Company.

Muscardini Tasting Room

Muscardini Tasting Room

A New Generation of Winemaking

Now Emilio’s grandson, Michael Muscardini, has returned to the family’s winemaking roots. The first sangiovese vines were planted in May of 2000. While the vines grew Michael began studying winemaking. He did this by picking the brains local winemakers. He also took courses at UC Davis and Sonoma State. Now, many years and vintages later, Michael has produced award-winning wines which we are sure Emilio would be very proud of.

Five Delicious  Wines from Muscardini 

Muscardini presented us with five delightful wines:

  1. 2014 Rosato di Sangiovese Alpicella Vineyard: Bright floral notes with red berries and apple.
  2. 2012 Sangiovese Alpicella Vineyard: Dark aromas of blackberries, plum, strawberries, earth and spice.
  3. 2011 Tesoro: Enriching aromas of black cherries, plums, cherries, cacao and spice.
  4. 2013 Merlot Sangiacomo Vineyards: Aromas of dried cherries, licorice, plum and roasted walnuts.
  5. 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon B Wise Vineyards: Enticing flavors of ripe berries, sage, tobacco and leather.

Wines from Muscardini

Wines from Muscardini

The two favorites from Muscardini: 2013 Merlot Sangiacomo Vineyards & 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon B Wise Vineyards

A Glimpse into the Life of Bordeaux Buff Dewey Markham

Dewey Markham

Dewey Markham

Contributed by Itze Pena-Andrade – This past Thursday, the WineSense club was very fortunate in that Dewey Markham Jr., an author and wine scholar, lead the club through a wine tasting of fine Bordeaux wines. It was an enriching and educational experience!

Dewey Markham’s Wine Journey

Dewey was born and raised in New York City where he attended and graduated from New York University, with a Bachelor’s degree in English and a Master’s degree in Cinema. During his late twenties, Dewey’s professional direction turned to cuisine. After having worked as a cook for some time, he enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America.

From 1986 to 1989 Dewey lived in Paris, where he was a director of the French cooking school L’Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne and while there, he introduced a wine studies program to the curriculum. This led to his next journey in his life, from cuisine to wine and the passion he has for it.

Upon his return to the US, he worked in two of New York’s leading wine shops and in addition to this; he worked as an Associate Director of the Swiss Wine Information Council. During this time, he was invited back to the Culinary Institute to teach a series of wine courses where he wrote his book Wine Basics.

Now and since 1993, Dewey has lived and worked in Bordeaux. He hosts private wine tours and serves as an ambassador for many amazing Bordeaux wines held all over the world.

Tasting of Five Bordeaux Wines

IMG_0933Dewey presented five different red blends for the attendees to taste:

  • 2012 Château Lilian Ladouys
  • 2012 Château Haut-Bages Liberal
  • 2012 Château Bellevue De Tayac
  • 2012 Château Bernadotte
  • 2012 Château De Panigon

Favorite Wines of the Evening

Of the wines presented, the favorites of the night were:

2012 Château Bellevue de Tayac is a blend consisting of 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 70% Merlot and 10% Petite Verdot, from the Margaux appellation.

2012 Château Haut-Bages Liberal is a blend consisting of  70 % Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot, from the Pauillac appellation.

We cannot thank Dewey enough for his educational presentation, the selection of wines, and lastly for this once in a lifetime tasting experience!

SSU WineSense Club with Dewey Markham

SSU WineSense Club with Dewey Markham

SSU Wine Grads Start SommSelect and Conduct Wine Tasting at Alma Mater

groupContributed by Itze Pena-Andrade – Cheers to our second WineSense Club meeting of the Fall 2015 semester! We were very excited to welcome back Brandon Carneiro and Tyler Wedeking from SommSelect to come speak with us about what SommSelect is and offers.

A little bit of History

Ian Cauble and Brandon Carneiro, the co-founders of SommSelect, first met at Sonoma State University in 1999 where they quickly became friends during their time as undergrads. Ian majored in international business and Spanish; Brandon studied economics.  Years later, they reconnected in Las Vegas where Brandon was working as a fine wine salesperson and Ian was attempting to become a Master Sommelier, which is depicted in the documentary, SOMM.

In 2014, Brandon and Ian launched SommSelect as a way to give people access to sommelier-selected wines for people to enjoy.  They have daily offerings of wines from all over the world with tasting notes, region information, and food pairings. With chances of new discovery and a new education in wine, SommSelect is a website for everyone at every budget.

Brandon Leads Wine Tasting at SSU

wineBrandon led the members of the WineSense club through a tasting that featured a  variety of wines that included a 2014 Chateau De Calavon Rosé from Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, France, a 2012 Napa Valley Chardonnay from White Rock Vineyards, and a 2013 Ken Wright Cellars Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley.  Brandon walked students through the proper way to taste, the different descriptors, and how to tell the different wine varietals apart, based only on taste.

Brandon with the help of Tyler, put our club through a test as we participated in a blind tasting of our own. Students had to identify which two varietals were served and from what area, with the winning teams taking home a bottle of wine to enjoy. These two wines were a 2013 Lucien Crochet Sauvignon Blanc and a 2011 Villa Sant’Anna Chianti Colli Senesi.

Favorites Wines of the Evening

At the conclusion of our second meeting, the club members were asked to vote for their favorite wines of the evening.  Each participant could vote a total of two times and the two winners of the evening were:

  • 2014 Chateau De Calavon Rosé from Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, France
  • 2012 Napa Valley Chardonnay from White Rock Vineyards

It was a fun-filled educational tasting that students will not forget any time soon and we can’t thank Brandon and Tyler enough for coming!

 

SSU WineSense Announces New Executive Board and Fall 2015 Tasting Schedule

2015/2016 Executive Board for SSU Wine Sense Club

2015/2016 Executive Board for SSU Wine Sense Club

The Sonoma State University (SSU) WineSense Club proudly announces the members of the 2015/2016 Executive Board. In addition, they have developed a very exciting line-up of wineries and organizations who will be visiting campus to conduct educational wine tastings throughout the semester.

2015/2016 Executive Board for SSU Wine Sense

  • President: Rachel Minor
  • Vice President: Taylor Hood
  • Treasurer: Justin Stushek
  • VP of Marketing: Jingmei Su
  • VP of Operations & Culinary Experiences: Matt Lopez
  • Director of Membership: Christian Gutierrez
  • Director of Campus Outreach: Sophia Fish
  • Director of Campus Marketing: Jamie Huerta
  • Director of Meetings: Brooke Bartolome
  • Director of Volunteers and Fundraising: Itze Pema-Andrade

SSU Wine Sense Mission

The mission of the SSU Wine Sense Club is to create a responsible, fun and educational environment for all levels of wine enthusiasts to further expand their knowledge and appreciation for the wonderful world of wine. We are dedicated to provide students the opportunity to experience and enjoy events that showcase the wine industry and help students connect with the industry and their leaders.

Fall 2015 Wine Sense Schedule 

Tastings are open to SSU students over the age of 21. Meetings will be held in the Bennett Valley Room of the Student Union beginning at 7pm. Membership fees for the semester are $30, payable at the door. Fees are pro-rated for students who join later in the semester. Each session includes an educational briefing and responsible wine tastings accompanied by appetizers. ID’s are checked at the door for each meeting.

  • Sept 17 – Kenwood Winery
  • Oct. 1 – Somm Select
  • Oct. 15 – Rare Cat Wine
  • Oct. 29 – La Crema & Murphy Goode
  • Nov. 5 – TBD
  • Nov. 19 – Dewey Wines
  • Dec. 3 – TBD

Wineries interested in providing an educational tasting are encouraged to contact SSU Wine Sense Board Members at WinesenseSSU@gmail.com