Monday, December 27, 2010

12/27 - Jim Kimmel, Chef William Bloxsom-Carter.

Jim Kimmel - Owner - Kimmel Vineyards
Headed by matriarch Lillian and guided by her three sons Jim, Gary, and Dennis, all generations of the Kimmel Family have joined in our winemaking venture. Most often, you'll find Jim in Southern California, introducing our wine to notable chefs and sommeliers then heading back to Mendocino to taste and perfect the upcoming vintage. Closer to the ranch, Gary travels throughout Sonoma and Mendocino counties, following up on the latest shipment of barrels or corks, checking in with Mark at the Vineyard. Dennis tries to keep them both on track with the reporting! Nieces and nephews have joined in the sales effort as well as guided our usage of green farming practices at the ranch. Needless- to-say, we all are thrilled to find yet another reason to gather around "Nana's" ranch table! For nearly fifty years, three generations of our family have enjoyed the natural beauty and diverse flora and fauna of Kimmel Ranch. It is a welcome place to gather and and even more stunning place to explore, no matter the season. Now, as we usher in a new era on the Ranch, we are working even harder to maintain a healthy ecological balance through sustainable farming practices. Our commitment to the land has carried us from cattle ranching to the vineyards. Our practices permeate every area of our operations out to the unplanted habitat acres and extending to the people who work in our vineyards. We continue to look for ways to improve our practices including solar, water, and wind power opportunities. All that we do and plan to do is with the sole purpose of producing the best possible grapes and absolutely delicious wine for you!

Chef William Bloxsom- Carter  - Executive Chef - Playboy Enterprises, Inc.
Chef Carter’s official title is Executive Chef, but at the Playboy Mansion West this is a position that defies definition, as it’s a one-of-a kind job that requires the artistic sensitivity of a symphony conductor as well a tax accountant’s acute sense of organization. The Mansion’s two kitchens support a private household, a private hotel, a fine dining room and is the central entertainment hub for most all promotional activities of Playboy Enterprises, Inc. on the west coast. Overnight guests of the company, usually business partners from around the globe, enjoy the same service offered by any five-star hotel that they might have chosen for their trip. Then there are the numerous promotional events, luncheons and dinners that we host here for our marketing partners. The Mansion grounds are also the setting of several celebrity-studded charity galas throughout the year that each take weeks of preparation. It’s a very busy place; keeping it all running in sync is the challenge that motivates me each day. It’s actually hard work that’s great fun,” Chef Carter said, with a surprising enthusiasm that belies his twenty three-year history at The Mansion. This man obviously loves what he does for a living and it shows in his easygoing approach to what seems like a daunting job. The chef supervises a crew of 18 chefs, plus support staff and interns, working around the clock to stay ahead of the calendar of events hosted by The Mansion as well as the daily menu to service the needs of residents and guests. Chef Carter is especially proud of the visiting intern program that he has developed in collaboration with some of the best culinary schools in the country.  "Our criteria for acceptance is quite rigid, but once accepted, the students enter a program that is focused on maximizing their talents in a non-intimidating, professional atmosphere. Because of the diverse culinary demands here, our interns are exposed to many levels of the hospitality industry. No matter the event or occasion, everything we do here is designed to instill a work ethic that accepts nothing short of excellence. It is that work ethic that I am hoping they take with them when they leave,” said the Chef.  While Chef Carter certainly has reason to think he has the perfect job, his ready smile and humor comes from something that many chefs working in a far less complicated kitchen make little time for, a balanced home life. At the end of each day, which at times may be very late in the evening, the chef makes a 50 mile trek along the famed Ventura Highway to his foothill home in a rural setting north of Los Angeles where he lives with wife Katherine, two sons and super dog, Sierra. This drive is a very necessary separation that gives Chef Carter the temperament and confidence to orchestrate such a large culinary challenge. At home, William Carter is a father and husband who makes the time to enjoy hiking, landscape photography, dining with friends and traveling. He also lends his expertise to one of his son’s high school culinary arts program as well as being in demand throughout California as a professional judge at wine competitions. Chef William Carter says it’s a very whole life and he is enjoying every single second of it, both at home and at his unique office.  So perhaps, besides a dazzling fruit salad, the chef provides us all with a second recipe that can be used outside the kitchen. His emphasis on maintaining a healthy balance of life outside the office, even one with 18 chefs in it, is a formula that serves as a main course for life. Melissa’s counts Chef Carter as one of our most exciting foodservice partners. Our staff works closely with him on each food challenge that he brings to us, large and small; it’s actually a very fun part of the relationship, and one that we hope to enjoy for many years to come.

Monday, December 20, 2010

12/20 - Terry Hall, Hugh Davies,

Terry Hall - Communications Director - Napa Valley Vintner's Association
Twice a year, the Napa Valley Vintners hit the road with principals and winemakers from member wineries, focusing each trip on region of the country. The vintners spend several days in that market, hosting a mix of trade and consumer wine tasting events and educational programs.  Tastings for the trade and media: Members of the wine trade and media (e.g. restaurateurs, retailers, hoteliers, and journalists) are invited to taste literally hundreds of Napa Valley wines from both longtime favorites and up-and-comers. Come meet the movers and shakers behind these brands. In addition to helping retailers, wholesalers and restaurateurs plan purchases, these tastings are a great way to educate staff about what makes Napa Valley wines legendary. If you are a Napa Valley wine loving consumer, please scroll down to the middle of the page to various events you're invited to attend.

Hugh Davies - President - Schramsberg Winery  -   Sparkling Beverages for the Holidays
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 hands.

Monday, December 13, 2010

12/13 - Jim Fioleck , P J Ochlan,

P.J. OCHLAN  - Cobblestone Winery 
From his humble beginnings on a Michigan farm, Saul Levine became an FM radio pioneer in 1959 launching Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters in Southern California. Levine’s radio success helped him get back to his roots, and with his wife Anita he started Cobblestone Vineyards. For over 30 years Cobblestone only grew grapes for premium California wineries, until 2004 when the Levines released their own wines under the Cobblestone label. These limited production, single-vineyard wines have since received consistent acclaim from the top critics and publications, and are featured at many of the nation’s premier restaurants and wine shops. A veteran actor for over twenty years, P.J. has appeared on Broadway, been in numerous critically acclaimed films, performed in Joseph Papp's historic New York Shakespeare Festival, and been a four-time television series regular. P.J. has worked with directing legends including Jodie Foster and Garry Marshall, producing greats such as Aaron Spelling and Brian Grazer, and alongside countless stars of stage and screen. P.J. serves as creative director for KKGO "Go Country" 105.1 FM, KKJZ "K-Jazz" 88.1 FM and KGIL 1260 AM. As an on-air personality he hosts special programming including concert broadcasts, public affairs, arts reports and interviews. A regularly published writer, P.J. also often appears as a narrator and emcee for numerous concerts, events and local arts organizations.

Jim Fioleck - Executive Director -  Santa Barbara County Vintners' Association
The unique, transverse nature of the valleys of Santa Barbara Wine Country provides a patchwork quilt of microclimates and terrains, resulting in one of the most diverse grapegrowing regions in the country. The valleys in the Pacific coastline actually run east-west rather than north-south, and both the coastal Santa Ynez Mountain range and the more interior San Rafael range are transverse too. Because of this geologic oddity, the ocean breezes sweep eastward, channeled by the hills and mountains that ring the region. Heading east into the foothills, the temperatures are warm during the day and very cool during the night, whereas the vineyards that lie westward toward the ocean enjoy a mild and moderate climate. Coupled with soils that run the gamut from ancient beach and diatomaceous earth to chirt and limestone, there is a near-perfect place for a wide variety of winegrape varietals

Friday, December 3, 2010

12/6-Stephanie Putnam, Kevin Gallagher,

Stephanie Putnam-Raymond Vineyards
Stephanie Putnam is the Director of Winemaking at Raymond Vineyards, where she oversees all aspects of winemaking for this iconic Napa Valley winery. 
Before joining the Boisset Family Estates team, Stephanie spent eight years as winemaker at Far Niente Winery, where she contemporized their house style. Prior to that, she was part of the team at Hess Collection, where she began as a cellar worker and rapidly progressed to winemaker. While there she also worked with the winery’s South American partners. 

Throughout her tenure at these highly acclaimed Napa Valley estates, Stephanie has focused on producing high quality Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Her wines have won acclaim, including recognition in the Wine Spectator’s Top 100, the Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 and being named The Wine News Cabernet of the Year.

A Northern California native and graduate of U.C. Davis with a B.S. in Fermentation Science, Stephanie developed her passion for winemaking at an early age thanks to her family’s appreciation of gourmet food and wine. She fondly remembers many childhood trips to the Napa Valley where her parents would come to enjoy and collect wine. Stephanie currently resides in Napa with her two large, lovable Labradors.

Kevin Gallagher - Director of California Sales - Dierberg Estate Vineyard
When Jim Dierberg  has a passion for something, he acts quickly and decisively. Just ask his wife, Mary, to whom he proposed on their first date! It was love at first sight, yet again, when they laid eyes on the Star Lane Ranch, now planted to some 230 acres of vines. "We had looked around Napa and Bordeaux for a property early on," Jim recalls. But Napa and the Old World were getting a little crowded. "We wanted open space and big sky." They found it during a business trip not far from Santa Barbara in a beautiful valley called Happy Canyon.  Bankers by profession, Jim and Mary are no newcomers to wine. They've owned one of America's oldest wineries, Hermannhof, since 1974. It's located in their home state of Missouri, where Jim was raised in a farming tradition. (At age 11, he won the St. Louis County Fair with his champion pig, Buster.)  An initial passion for wine developed during the couple's early trips to Germany during the 1960s. Back home in Missouri, they discovered an old winery in Hermann - founded in 1852 - was for sale, and they bought it. "Hermann seemed just like Germany in many ways," Mary says. "But it was only an hour from St. Louis."   The wines at Hermannhof are good, but the Missouri climate is not conducive to growing the European varietals that have made France and California famous. It was only a matter of time before the couple would seek out a new winemaking perspective. They purchased Star Lane in 1996. "All the local farmers knew this was one of the warmest spots in the area," Jim recalls. After consultation with renowned Central Coast grower Dale Hampton and soil scientist Paul Skinner, the Dierbergs realized that the land was best suited to growing Cabernet and its related varietals. They started with 100 acres.  Later in 1996, they bought a cooler vineyard site better suited to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay a bit farther north in Santa Maria. And in January of 2004, they added a new property in the Santa Rita Hills, also suitable for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. These two vineyards are called, fittingly, Dierberg. Currently, the winemaking couple are constructing their dream winery on the Star Lane property. It's dug into the hillside for efficient use of energy and will host some 26,000 square feet of caves for barrel aging. "We're excited about having a facility that will allow us to do justice to the terroir, which has already proved to be capable of producing wines of great distinction," Jim notes with pride.