Monday, November 29, 2010

11/29 - Jim Fioleck, Fred Dame,

Jim Fioleck - Exec Dir - Santa Barbara County Vintners Assoc
In Santa Barbara County, the east-west orientation of the coastal mountains forms valleys opening directly to the Pacific Ocean. This unique topography allows the flow of fog and ocean breezes to shape distinct microclimates, perfect for the cultivation of classic grape varietals and world class wines. The 50 miles stretch from Point Conception to Rincon constitutes the longest east-west traverse of shoreline from Alaska to Cape Horn. Here, the Santa Ynez and San Rafael Mountains form a unique coastal range - the inland flow of fog and ocean breezes make the region one of the coolest viticultural areas in California. This means that the fruit has an unusually long "hang time" on the vine, allowing it to fully develop the acids, flavors and tannins needed to produce wines of distinctive character.  Within Santa Barbara County there are several distinct winegrowing areas; there are four official appellations: Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, and Sta. Rita Hills. There are also several regions within the county that produce distinctive wines - these include the Los Alamos Valley region, between the Santa Maria Valley and Santa Ynez Valley appellations, Ballard Canyon, the Los Olivos District and the Santa Maria Bench. Slightly less than half of the grapes grown in Santa Barbara County are used by local vintners, with the balance are exported to wineries outside the area.

Frederick Dame - The Court of Master Sommeliers
The Court of Master Sommeliers was established to encourage improved standards of beverage knowledge and service in hotels and restaurants. Education was then, and remains today, the Court's charter. The first successful Master Sommelier examination was held in the United Kingdom in 1969. By April 1977, the Court of Master Sommeliers was established as the premier international examining body. It took the Court ten years to perfect its qualifications, which are recognized internationally. Frederick L. Dame, Master Sommelier brings an impressive blend of experience, expertise and enthusiasm to the world of wine and cuisine. He is the first American to have served as President of the Court of Master Sommeliers Worldwide and assists restaurateurs and hoteliers in developing their wine programs in his role as Director of Prestige Accounts for Beam Wine Estates. He is currently the President of the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation.  Dame's ability to transmit his passionate interest in wine make him a natural teacher. One of just seventy-three Americans to have passed the Master Sommelier Examination, Dame was the first to successfully pass all three parts in a single year. This feat and his high score won him the coveted Krug Cup of the British Guild of Sommeliers in 1984. Dame founded the American Branch of The Court of Master Sommeliers in 1986 and has played an active role in the expansion of the Master Sommelier program throughout America since that time. As Cellarmaster of The Sardine Factory in Monterey, California for twelve years, Dame created a wine list which won the Wine Spectator Grand Award. With the many wine events held in the brick and wine lined Wine Cellar, Dame turned The Sardine Factory into a wine destination restaurant of world renown. He is also active in the culinary arts serving as an Honorary Trustee of The American Academy of Chefs, the honor society of The American Culinary Federation. He was awarded the Antonin Careme Medal and was made a Supreme Knight of the Knights of the Vine in 2000. He has been elected to the prestigious National Restaurant Association College of Diplomates for 2004. A sixth generation Californian, Dame graduated from Washington and Lee University with a degree in journalism and communications. A European trip after high school piqued his curiosity about wine and food. Since then, he has applied his considerable persuasive skills to the service and appreciation of fine wine.

Friday, November 19, 2010

11/22-Jeremy Kreck, Ted Plemons

Jeremy Kreck-Winemaker Mill Creek Vineyards & Winery

Growing up on a vineyard outside of Healdsburg, Jeremy has a deep-rooted appreciation for the Sonoma County wine culture. “The wine, food, art, and climate of the greater Healdsburg area make it an extraordinary place to live. Did I mention the wine?”
After high school, Jeremy attended California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, where he studied Agribusiness and of course, wine and viticulture. “The central coast, at that time, was experiencing a huge boom in grape plantings and wine production. There was a great interest from the industry, which in turn led to a certain electricity in the wine and viticulture programs at the university.” Post college, Jeremy returned to Healdsburg where he began in the cellar and vineyards at Mill Creek. “Being both in the vineyards and winery, I attained a great perspective of the relationships between the vines and finished wines.” Jeremy worked under Hank Skewis, Mill Creek’s former winemaker, for 4 vintages and also continued his education with wine production courses at UC Davis.
Jeremy’s first harvest as winemaker was 2004, which was the earliest in 100 years. “I took a sugar sample on the Sauvignon Blanc the last day of July.
21.7 Brix! We ended up picking two and a half weeks early.”
Jeremy’s objective in winemaking is to essentially stay out of the way of the vineyard and the expression of the fruit. “My goal is to have the winemaking process and components compliment and enhance the fruit.” He maintains a hands-on approach that includes weekly vineyard inspections and smells and tastes each barrel of wine every six to eight weeks.
Jeremy lives with his wife, Mindy, in Healdsburg. Together they enjoy ‘the wine-country lifestyle’ with weekly trips to the farmers market, tending to the vegetable garden, golf, and of course cooking.

Ted Plemons-Partner Cass Vineyard & Winery

Cass Vineyards and Winery is located in the rolling, oak-studded hills between Paso Robles and Creston on California's beautiful Central Coast. This area that the vineyard calls home offers quiet serenity for the visitor and a perfect growing season for wine grapes.
Sited due east of the “Templeton Gap”, we receive the evening's cooling breezes that the west side of Paso Robles is noted for. We also rest far enough from the coast to generate the heat needed to optimally ripen the Rhone varieties grown in our vineyards.
One hundred percent of the wines crafted at Cass Winery are Estate Grown. Our vineyard surrounds our Tasting Room and winery. You can literally touch, taste, see and smell the grapes from the block where they were harvested.
The Tasting Room offers picnic fare and our chef prepares wine and food pairings daily from 12-4pm at the Cass Café to enhance the feel of this special environment. Scenic paths lead to oak-shaded picnic areas for our visitors’ complete wine country sensory experience.
A unique feature of our wine making is that all of the Rhone grapes we grow are ENTAV certified. ENTAV (Establissement National Technique pour l’Amelioration de la Viticulture) is the national agency of France responsible for the quality of wine grape varieities. Over 90% of all French Vineyards are started with ENTAV certified plants and are only recently available in California. Consequently, these are among the very first wines made from ENTAV grapes grown here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

11/15 - Ted Astorian, Katharine Taylor

Ted Astorian - Owner Clos Valmi Wines

California's Napa Valley has been a source of world-class wine for well over a century. Its warm climate and varied terrain allows for many styles of wine. One thread that runs through almost all the wines from Napa is their lush, ripe full-bodied feel and rich flavors of currant and berry. Wines from the valley floor, particularly around Rutherford, are famed for a dusty quality and those coming from the hillsides surrounding the valley, Mt. Veeder, Diamond Mountain and Howell Mountain for example, tend to be a little leaner with more obvious structural elements.

Katharine Taylor - Tasting Room Manager - Saucelito Canyon

The Saucelito Canyon story begins in 1880, when three acres of Zinfandel vines were planted in the rugged terrain of the upper Arroyo Grande Valley on California’s Central Coast.  A new chapter was written a century later, when Bill Greenough painstakingly restored the abandoned old vineyard and began making what has become one of California’s most distinguished Zinfandels. Our story continues today as we merge new methods in sustainable winegrowing with our own family traditions and winemaking style, which we collectively call the "Saucelito Way."  In our wines, you will discover flavors that are native only to our historic dry-farmed vineyard in the remote chaparral of Saucelito Canyon. This is a place that we call home, and a place that we are honored to share with you.  "Saucelito Canyon is a singular Zin, made way out in the middle of nowhere from a vineyard centered around three acres of ungrafted vines that were planted in 1880… It represents what can be great and what can be romantic about Zinfandel."

Monday, November 8, 2010

11-8 - Hugh Davies, Keith Burkett, Becky Gray

Hugh Davies - President  Schramsberg Vineyards

Schramsberg Vineyards is now in the hands of Jack and Jamie Davies' youngest son, Hugh. Born in 1965, the year his parents Jack and Jamie Davies revived the historic Schramsberg Vineyards property in Napa Valley, Hugh was named President and CEO of the 40-year old sparkling wine house in 2005. Prior to this, he held the dual responsibilities of Winemaker and General Manager. He holds a master's degree in enology from the University of California, Davis, and has his undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College in Maine.
At Schramsberg, Hugh has led the ongoing effort to fine-tune winemaking and grape growing techniques, building upon the winery’s venerable track record of producing award-winning sparkling wines. Schramsberg’s current stable of vineyards includes more than 90 specially selected sites in the Carneros district of Napa Valley, the Anderson Valley, and along the Sonoma and Marin coasts. The winery's commitment to small lot base wine production has yielded extraordinary blending opportunity for the 8-10 sparkling blends produced each year. Over 200 lots are evaluated after harvest, representing many variables: vineyard terroir, grape clone, barrel fermentation, stainless tank fermentation, malolactic fermentation, etc. Additionally, Hugh was instrumental in replanting the historic hillside Diamond Mountain District vineyards adjacent to the winery to Bordeaux varietals. They are now used by the Schramsberg winemaking team to make J. Davies Cabernet Sauvignon. From the first vintage in 2001, J. Davies has received both public and critical acclaim. Hugh serves on the board of directors for the Napa Valley Vintners (he was President, 2006) and, with his family, he chaired the 2004 Auction Napa Valley. Hugh, along with his brother Bill, heads up the Jack L. Davies Fund, which is committed to carrying on efforts initiated by his father to preserve the Napa Valley for its highest uses: agriculture and wild lands.  For prior hands-on experience in the wine industry before joining Schramsberg, Hugh worked with Möet et Chandon in Epernay; Petaluma Winery in South Australia, and Mumm Napa Valley, among others. His political and public service background includes work with the San Francisco Trust for Public Land and assisting California Congressman Tony Coelho in Washington, D.C. Hugh lives on the Schramsberg grounds with his wife, Monique and his three young sons Emrys, Nelson and Hugh Lawrence. He enjoys spending time with his kids, backpacking and going to the Oakland A’s baseball games.  Hugh is dedicated to continuing the quality enhancement of Schramsberg and J. Davies wines. With his leadership, Schramsberg Vineyards is in good, sturdy hand

Keith Burkett - Sous Chef - Ruth's Chris Steak House - Pasadena, CA
Keith Burkett is the new Sous Chef at Ruth's Chris Steak House in Pasadena, CA - 
From our humble beginnings on Broad Street in New Orleans to our current position as the world's largest fine dining company, Ruth's Chris Steak House has come quite a long way in its first four decades. In 2005, we celebrated our 40th anniversary, and we consider it a celebration of the life of a woman who broke the mold - our founder, Ruth Fertel. Experience the sensation of private dining at Ruth’s Chris when you treat your special guests to unforgettable dining for your next business gathering, family celebration, dinner club or anything in between.

Becky Gray - Executive Director San Luis Obispo Vintner's Association
South San Luis Obispo County, located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, has earned worldwide recognition and respect for the exceptional quality of wine grapes produced in this ideal viticultural area. The area includes the Edna Valley, the Arroyo Grande Valley, each a designated American Viticultural Area, the Avila Valley and Nipomo. Wine growing in San Luis Obispo County stretches back to the missionary days of California viticulture, when the first grapevines were planted by the Franciscan padres who settled California in the 1880s. Today, because of this region’s ideal world-class microclimate and soils, wine grapes are the leading crop in San Luis Obispo County. There are over 3000 acres of vines in South San Luis Obispo County, and more vineyards are being planted. The climate and soils have been proven to provide the perfect environment for growing and producing ultra premium quality wines.  Due to the unique geography of the South Central Coast, the valleys have east-west orientations and are distinguished by the extensive maritime influence on the climate and soil. The soils are dominated by marine deposits left millions of years ago when the valleys were under water. Loam and clay topsoil overlay calcareous marine deposits promoting complex flavors. The climate is tempered by marine air flowing directly into the valley from the Pacific Ocean. This cooling influence creates an unusually long growing season resulting in greatly intensified varietal flavors. All of these elements produce wine grapes and wines of complex flavors and intensity found only in the world’s greatest wine regions.