Thursday, August 25, 2016
A quick trip out of Napa with Thud and his three oldest children found us at the Jelly Belly Candy Company (located at One Jelly Belly Lane, Fairfield, of course). I just love seeing things being made and packaged (love bottling-time at TWWIAGE) and so I found the Jelly Belly factory very interesting. One can witness the entire jelly bean making process at this very busy production facility. We all had lots of fun, but at the same time learned a lot about food manufacturing.
Perhaps in an attempt to attract more adults, Jelly Belly are now offering wine and chocolate pairings in a '21 and over' tasting room. And grown-up jelly bean flavours like 'Champagne' and 'Draft Beer'. The champagne jelly beans tasted like stale, still white wine to me, but Thud thought the draft beer beans actually tasted like beer: my taste buds were not that convinced. Weird. I'll just stick with Juicy Pear, my favourite flavour.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
I had one glass of wine last Friday night, which was my and Vinomaker's anniversary, an agreeable 2014 Chenin blanc from Vinum Cellars (Clarksburg AVA). I had half a glass of beer at the Main Street Reunion car show on Saturday. And on Sunday, in celebration of Thud's birthday, I had two bottles of beer; a bottle each of the Kona Brewing Company's Castaway IPA and Fire Rock pale ale. Both beers were very pleasant and paired well with the tasty BBQ fare on my plate. I'm not complaining, I'm having fun.
This evening, my family and I are planning on throwing an Earthquake Party: it is two years since a rather angry temblor shook the Napa Valley to its roots. The little ones have suggested that we all eat jelly (Jello), popcorn and Pop Rocks. Kids!
Saturday, August 20, 2016
At the conclusion of the event we all lingered in one particular area to watch, and listen, as many of the cars and trucks fired up their engines and rolled out into the greater Napa Valley. Very impressive.
Friday, August 12, 2016
I had a quick taste of some secondary clusters, that I removed as I worked my way down the rows, and I have to say my little grape-babies have quite a bit of flavour already. And the crop looks beautiful. I can sleep soundly tonight knowing that my grapes are safe from hungry birds. Thanks kids!
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
It was a perfectly gorgeous day for sitting back, enjoying the views and being waited on hand and foot - for three hours. I did not really have anything to drink, well, just a small glass of Chandon bubbles, because I was driving. But I sure ate a lot. A very enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.
Tuesday, August 09, 2016
George MacLeod and his family bought acreage back in 1974 without really knowing anything about winegrape growing, it seems. But he brought plenty of passion with him. If one is in doubt as to Mr. MacLeod's romance with the land, his inscription to me, at the front of the book, says,"To Vinogirl - Here is a true vineyard love story! With affection, George, grower". Case closed.
The Land Remembers has some interesting sections on soil, topography and water, with accompanying charts and photographs - all the vine-geeky stuff I love. There is a short chapter on 'Microbial Terroir' which has really piqued my curiosity. I am really enjoying all the viticultural reading I have been doing of late. This book is a lovely addition to my humble reference library.
The book was written with Arthur Dawson, and other contributors. One of the contributors is yours truly: yes, I contributed a photograph of a smudge pot (page 79). Ta da! That's my 15 minutes of fame done.
Monday, August 08, 2016
I didn't have strong feelings one way or another about this packaging initially, but now I love it. The can (produced by the Ball Corporation, better known for its jars) is just so convenient, it's less weight than glass and the wine seemed to chill better in aluminium. This can is possibly the perfect wine packaging for travelling, picnics, or just throwing one in your handbag.
Purchased at Whole Foods for $4.97 (which would make this 375ml can a $10.00 bottle of wine), the Underwood Pinot gris, from the Union Wine Co., in Oregon, wasn't the greatest wine, but it made a pretty decent apéritif for three people. Searing lemon-drop acidity, which definitely knocked my 'Queen of Tart' crown off my head, dominated the palate, with a bit of Granny Smith-malic-acidy-zip thrown in for good measure. Clean, quite refreshing and with a hint of effervescence, I would try this wine again. I even like Union Wine Company's use of the social media metadata tag of #pinkiesdown with which they aim to take the pretension out of wine drinking. Fun.
Wednesday, August 03, 2016
Dr. Frank was by all accounts a bit of a poop disturber; in that he tried to shake up the New York state wine industry by repeatedly insisting that V. vinifera, i.e., European winegrape varieties, could thrive in the eastern United States. It is in Dr. Frank's expertise as a viticulturalist, and his scientific approach to clonal selections, that I am mostly interested in.
Tuesday, August 02, 2016
A few months ago I began my search for an Albariño that I might not have tried before. Then, just recently, in the Napa Register, I read of a new wine label, Eighty Four. Eighty Four is a new project by Elias Fernandez and Doug Shafer (of Shafer Vineyards). It just so happens that they produce an Albariño, so I thought it would be a good candidate with which to laud the upcoming festivity.
I called Shafer to find out if the Albariño was available for sale to the general public (sometimes these faddy wines aren't). I was helped (and I say helped in the loosest possible sense of the word) by a woman who answered my questions with one syllable words only. Okey-dokey. I supposed she was just having a bad day.
I had a similar experience when I drove up to Shafer on my day off. I wasn't greeted upon entering the winery although there was a person in the reception area. The gentleman, at a desk staring into his computer screen, only acknowledged me when I ventured, "Hello" in my cheeriest voice. I told him what I wanted, handed him my business card, I made some idle chit-chat and then paid for the wine (no inter-winery discount at Shafer, by the way). Our entire interaction was conducted with having barely any eye contact at all. He was that disinterested, very bizarre. I suppose all Shafer employees continually have bad days.
The wine itself went something like this; the wine was very yellow in the glass; strong lemon and candy floss (cotton candy) on the nose; first sip was a little briny; the taste was of pineapple chunks and apple tarts (two sweets, candy, from my childhood). And the wine was very tart, like it had been acidulated with citric acid. Now, I consider myself the 'Queen of Tart' as I generally like an elevated acidity in my wine, but this was a little over the top. Overall the wine, whilst not unpleasant, seemed a little tired. It wasn't oxidised, but all that candied stuff going on just made the wine seem a little over-worked.
An average wine, served with bad customer service, sigh. I can't get my $28.00 back, but I can make sure that I never spend another penny of my hard earned wages at Shafer. If one feels inclined to waste some time, one can read the Register article here. Enjoy. Or not.