Monday, February 28, 2011

2/28 Becky & Lowell Zelinski's First Crush,

Becky and Lowell Zelenski Tell Us About Their "First Crush," a Company in Paso Robles That Allows Customers to Get Involved in the Winemaking Process From “Berry to Bottle!”

Most wine lovers dream about experiencing harvest, making their own or seeing their name on a wine label. With First Crush winemaking experience in Paso Robles – now they can.

First Crush is a custom winery that provides unique wine adventures from berry to bottle. From learning about the Paso Robles wine region to enjoying a two-day, all inclusive deluxe harvest experience, First Crush has something for wine lovers of all interest and knowledge levels. All of their events, workshops and tours are also hands-on, educational, and fun.

First Crush also provides an authentic, total winemaking experience. They take customers into carefully selected Paso Robles’ vineyards where they can help harvest wine grapes that become premium Paso Robles varietals. They can also purchase wine made from the fruit that they help pick.

First Crush makes its wine at the Silver Horse Winery and all of their wines are crafted by Silver Horse winemaker/owner, Steve Kroener. As the wines are made, customers have the opportunity to learn about and participate in the winemaking processes. When the aging process is complete, they can blend, bottle, cork and custom label wines made from the their wine

The harvest experiences are the perfect blend of fun, work and a luxurious weekend winemaking safari. The one-of-a-kind adventure is perfect for individuals, couples, groups and businesses who want to experience the all or part of the winemaking process from berry to bottle.

First Crush is owned by Becky Zelinski and Lowell Zelinski, Ph.D. The couple also own Precision Ag Consulting -- a vineyard management company in Paso Robles and have been working with Paso Robles vineyards since 2003.

Becky Zelinski is a former journalist, photographer and event planner. She has more than 20 years experience in business administration and marketing. She heads up the marketing and event planning for First Crush and is the assistant winemaker. Becky also helps manage and markets their vineyard management company, and plans educational meetings and events for it. It is her photography from the First Crush 2008 maiden winemaking experience that helped inspire the First Crush concept. Becky’s wine knowledge is self-taught. She has attended classes on winemaking, viticulture and wine appreciation, and essentially learned “by doing” by working with winemakers and growers in the industry.

Lowell Zelinski is a soil-plant-water relations specialist with nearly 30 years of experience in agriculture production. He consults on and manages vineyards for several Paso Robles growers. He has also worked as a University of California extension agent, taught at four California State University campuses and managed operations for two large agriculture companies. He is the viticulturist for First Crush and helps Becky with the scientific components of the winemaking process.

Terry Hall, Communications Director of Napa Valley Vintners Association talks about the Feb 26 Napa Vintners Barrel Tasting

The Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) non-profit trade association announced that its annual Premiere Napa Valley (PNV) mid-winter barrel tasting and auction for the wine trade that took place on February 26 was a sold out event.

"We are delighted with the response from the wine trade--retailers and restaurateurs, wholesalers and brokers from across the country, as well as the UK, Canada and Japan--who attended the 15th annual Premiere tasting and auction," said PNV 2011 Chair Michael Honig of Honig Vineyard and Winery.

"This continues to be the must-attend event for the wine trade each year. It raises money for our trade association's work to promote and protect the Napa Valley appellation, but more importantly, the event provides the opportunity for the best networking event anyone could ask for. All under one roof at The Culinary Institute of America in St Helena were hundreds of winemakers and winery owners pouring their offerings to the 200+ wholesale wine accounts represented by the attendees," said Honig. "Selling out four weeks in advance of the tasting and auction is a clear signal of the demand for Napa Valley wines, as well as the recognition of the value of networking and relationship building that PNV provides.

"What we always understand in Napa Valley is that building and maintaining personal relationships with the top accounts that attend Premiere is integral to our success in the market," said PNV steering committee member Jeff McBride of Stag's Leap Wine Cellar.

"Premiere Napa Valley is where winemakers get to have a 'gloves off' approach to what they make," said PNV steering committee member John Skupny of Lang and Reed Wine Co. "These wines are ultra-boutique wines crafted in as few as sixty and never more than 240 bottle lots from 200 renowned Napa Valley wineries, each sold to one buyer like a restaurant or retail store, who then offers these wines to their savviest customers. So while the event is only for the wine trade, the product--the portfolio of Premiere Napa Valley wines-- provides wine consumers with not only truly one-of-a-kind wine, but some of the very best wines from the Napa Valley."

We can see the wines offered as futures at and engage their favorite wine retailer to purchase wines on their behalf. Another way for us to purchase these rare wines is by visiting the website to see who will have them on their shelf or wine list.

About the NVV: The Napa Valley Vintners is the non-profit trade association responsible for promoting and protecting the Napa Valley appellation as the premier winegrowing region. From seven founding members in 1944, today the association represents nearly 400 Napa Valley wineries and collectively is a leader in the world-wide wine industry. To learn more about our region and its legendary American wines, visit .

Monday, February 21, 2011

2/21 Michael Horn and Allan Scott, Barbara Drady

Michael Horn Talks With Allan Scott About His 2010 Sauvignon Blanc and 2008 Pinot Noir

Allan Scott is a name synonymous with wine in Marlborough. As one of the first independent wineries to establish themselves here back in 1990, Allan Scott Winery has made a name for itself in this highly competitive industry.

Allan has 37 years in the wine business, which makes him one of the most experienced people in Marlborough when it comes to growing, making and marketing wine. When Allan and his wife Catherine decided to settle here in 1973, (Cathy is a fifth generation Marlburian) Allan took a job with Montana working in their new vineyards. In 1980 he was head-hunted by Corbans to oversee the establishment of their Marlborough vineyards. He soon became their Senior Viticultural Manager, which not only gave him responsibility for the company's entire national grape intake, but led him to become part of the winemaking team.

All this stood him in good stead for the family’s foray into winemaking. Back then, there weren’t any boutique wineries to speak of in Marlborough. In 1975 Allan and Catherine purchased a block of land and got into contract growing. Then, when the first independent winemakers started to emerge in Marlborough, Allan and Catherine were in a position to become a part of this new era in New Zealand’s wine industry. In 1990, they launched Allan Scott Estate Winery. Allan remembers it well. “We were one of a small number who made up the first wave of the independents.” The Allan Scott Winery has seen some changes since then. Over the 20 years since its inception, the winery has evolved to keep ahead of the changing demands from the market.

Perhaps the biggest change for the business has been its evolution into a true family business. Allan and Cathy’s three children have grown up to become valuable members of the business. Elder daughter Victoria is responsible for Marketing, while their son Josh is Chief winemaker, taking responsibility for the dozen or more different wines the winery produces. Younger daughter Sara has also trained a winemaker, but works mostly in the vineyard following her father’s specialty as a viticulturalist.

Along with the core range of Allan Scott Estate wines, there is the single vineyard selection of prestige wines, which uses the best grapes and careful cellaring to produce a limited volume of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir, with names like The Hounds and The Wallops to depict their origin. In 1999 the winery also released a Méthode Traditionelle range, which include a Blanc de Blancs and a sparkling rosé. After the 2007 harvest, a small block of Sauvignon Blanc was converted to organic cultivation allowing the Scott’s to produce their first organically made Sauvignon Blanc in 2008. This is the Allan Scott Millstone Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008 which is certified BioGro in the process of conversion to organic certification.

A recent addition to the family’s holdings is the acquisition of their Scott Base Vineyard in Central Otago. The family have had a long standing love of the region dating back nearly as far as Allan’s involvement in Marlborough wine. It began with the passion they shared with the pioneering winemakers, exchanging the ideas and challenges of the early days. So it was an easy decision for the family to come to this perfectly located site with an established vineyard that was producing exceptional wine. The six hectare, mainly northern sloping vineyard is predominantly planted in Pinot Noir, with small plots of other varieties.

It's Time For Some Pinot! Barbara Drady is the President & Founder of Affairs of the Vine & She'll Tell Us All About the Upcoming Pinot Noir Summit!

The Pinot Noir Summit, one of the best Pinot Noir events in the world, returns to the Bay Area for its 9th year on February 26, 2011.

Pinot Noir can be mysterious and somewhat intimidating. This event creates fun, excitement, and allows people to trust their own palates.

If you love Pinot Noir or just want to know what all the fuss is about, you must attend this interactive, educational and fun event.

About Barbara Drady

President and founder of Affairs of the Vine, one of the industry's top wine education and communications companies, Barbara Drady has always loved wine. Her many years in the wine industry, combined with "her thirst for knowledge" for wine have resulted in her extensive knowledge of wine, winemaking, and wine growing practices.

Barbara is the creator of the innovative "Wine Boot Camp" concept which has gained wide media attention and industry recognition. She developed, designed and directs the Wine Shootout competitions that allow wine lovers to pit their palate against the Publish Post experts.

Drady has been a featured guest on radio talk shows demystifying wine and has been a visiting educator at University of California, Davis, the California Culinary Academy, New England Culinary Institute, and other culinary schools throughout the United States. Barbara has been recognized by Wine Business Monthly and Bay Area Business Woman as one of the leading women in the wine industry.

For more information on the Pinot Noir Summit, check out their website at!

Monday, February 14, 2011

2/14 Winemaker Dan Barwick Paradise Ridge Winery

Dan Tells Us About the Winery & About His Upcoming Wine Club Exclusive BARREL TASTING!

This is your special invitation to taste the Estate 2010's with Winemaker Dan Barwick at Paradise Ridge Winery's lovely Santa Rosa Estate! Friday & Saturday February 18th & 19th from 11-4

Swirl, Sip & Savor this exlusive by invitation experience with Winemaker Dan Barwick. Dan is excited to share wonderful upcoming wines with our most loyal friends and dispel the myths about the 2010 vintage. Savor delectable wines from the barrel paired with artisan cheeses.


2009 Grand view Sauvignon Blanc
Redwood Hills farm Artisan Goat Cheese - California Crottin
Served with Honey dew melon blended with Greek yogurt, mint & grappa
2008 Sapphire Hill Chardonnay
Redwood hills farm Artisan Goat Cheese - French style Camellia Served with Meyer Lemon Marmalade

2007 Rockpile Zinfandel
Valley Ford Artisan Cheese – Highway One – old style Fontina aged 10 month
Served with dried California fig

2006 Rockpile Cabernet
Valley Ford Artisan Cheese - Estero Gold Valley Ford Cheese
Served with French caramelized walnut

Valley ford Cheese Co. Owner Karen Bianchi – Moreda 15000 Hwy One Valley, Ford, CA 94972

Estero Gold, our premier product, is an Italian farmstead cheese from our own superb Jersey cows, handmade in the style of an Asiago, reminiscent of a Montasio, two of the famous cheeses from the Swiss-Italian dairy country. Our young cheese, at about four months aged, is very pliable, with grassy, fruity overtones. As it continues to age, the flavor deepens, becoming complex and nutty. It has an open texture with small holes and straw-like coloring. Its subtle, creamy and buttery taste nicely complements other foods. Its fine rustic flavor can be paired with any wine. We can’t think of a better tasting snack than a piece of Estero Gold with a ripe pear. It also melts wonderfully in pastas and polentas, or try it shredded on a salad.

Highway One is our version of an old style Fontina. Its texture is silky and creamy, with the traditional Fontina flavor that pairs so ultimately with Italian wines and cuisine. This unpasteurized cheese has been aged for at least 80 days. It is mildly fruity, with a nutty flavor and aroma. Highway 1, with a blue label, is another farmstead product from our closed herd of Jerseys in Valley Ford. It is a perfect anytime cheese. It was awarded a bronze medal at the California State Fair, and the double gold at Sonoma Harvest Fair With the creation of the Valley Ford Cheese Co., our intention was to produce an aged artisan cheese that would maximally enhance the qualities of the locally available produce, wine, breads and meats.

Redwood hills Farm & Creamery Owner Jennifer Bice 2064 Highway 116 North, Sebastopol, CA 95472

Artisan Cheese California Crottin
National Cheese Competition Best in Show Awarded “Best in Show” at the American Dairy Goat Association National Cheese Competition, our traditional French-style California Crottin goat milk cheese has a wrinkly, geotrichum candidum rind, a fluffy texture and robust, earthy flavor. Crottin is one of our most “decorated” artisan cheeses, twice voted “Best Farmstead Goat Cheese” by the prestigious American Cheese Society, and chosen as the best Crottin in a Wall St. Journal tasting. Better than the French originals!

Storage & Serving Suggestions: Store this cheese in waxed paper which allows it to breathe as it ages. If kept whole, and stored in a cool, dry environment, this cheese becomes gratable with a sharp and complex flavor at about two months of age. Superb in salads as well as an excellent cheese plate selection, this handmade delicacy is best served at room temperature.

Camembert-Style Goat Milk Cheese
Named after one of our favorite does, Camellia is a luscious, Camembert-style goat milk cheese. It has a mild, buttery flavor and firm texture when young, becoming softer and more complex with age. The white, edible penicillum candidum rind ripens the cheese from the outside inwards, becoming fully ripe when the center is soft to the touch (like a ripe peach). This usually takes 5-6 weeks, though the cheese is delicious at any age.

Storage & Serving Suggestions: Wrap cut pieces in the storage-enhancing original wrap, and store in a cool place. Enjoy this multiple award winner at room temperature, paired with fresh apple or pear and your favorite wine.

About Paradise Ridge Winery
Nestled on a 156-acre wine estate in the heart of Sonoma County minutes from downtown Santa Rosa, Paradise Ridge Winery offers spectacular natural vistas overlooking the Russian River Valley. Expansive decks and terraces open to panoramic landscapes, including rolling vineyards and pastoral wine country scenery. Visitors can sample exciting wines in our newly renovated tasting room. Winery guests are invited to relax and enjoy “The most beautiful view in Sonoma County”.

This stunning wine country property was discovered in 1977 by Walter Byck & Marijke Byck-Hoenselaars. The winery was founded in 1991 and is family owned & operated. Every attention to detail is personally overseen to give an exceptional and complete wine country experience. Wander through the outdoor sculpture exhibit in Marijke’s Grove, enjoy the Fountain Grove Winery historical exhibit or bring a picnic to savor with a bottle of our outstanding wines. For those planning a wedding or special event, Paradise offers a romantic & magical setting. Whatever your fantasy, Paradise Ridge Winery is a wine country experience not to be missed.

About Dan Barwick
Dan Barwick was born in Dover, England. Since the age of 16, Dan has worked in the food and beverage industry. From 1978 thru 1987 he worked as a manager in the famous ‘Harrods Food Halls’ in Knightsbridge London, where he also got his first taste of fine wine. During his time at Harrods, Dan completed a two year University extension course for retail management. From 1987 to 1988 he helped to set up a national chain called ‘Prêt a Manger’, now a house hold name. In 1991 he moved to Sonoma County and worked his first harvest at Matanzas Creek Winery, where his passion for wine exploded. From 1992 to 1995, Dan worked in the cellar at Ferrari- Carano Vineyards & Winery, while completing several wine and viticulture courses. It was in one of these courses he met his future bride, Sonia Byck. Sonia & Dan were married in 1995.

In May 1996, the newlyweds began a two year journey throughout the world visiting and working in different areas within the wine industry. Their adventures included harvests in Burgundy, France, Stellenbosch, South Africa, Sydney, Australia and the Barossa Valley, Australia. In 1998 they returned home and Dan took on the duties of ‘winemaker’ for Paradise Ridge Winery.

Dan is a judge for numerous wine competitions in Northern California and moonlights as a wine educator at the Santa Rosa Junior College. In his spare time Dan enjoys cooking, gardening, wine & food tasting and pairing, home improvements and studying the wine industry. He also loves spending time with his 8 year old daughter Sophia and 6 year old son Jonathan.

Monday, February 7, 2011

2/7 Winemaker & Chairperson of the World of Pinot Noir Leslie Mead Renaud

Our Special Guest is Leslie Mead Renaud , Winemaker and Chairperson of the World of Pinot Noir!

Leslie Mead Renaud was born in Portsmouth, Virginia. Her father was an officer in the Navy, so the family moved around a fair bit during her early childhood. When Leslie was 10 her father was stationed in Honolulu, where he subsequently retired. After high school, she worked as a SCUBA diving instructor until she made the decision to return to the mainland and pursue her college degree.

Leslie graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Resources, with an emphasis in aquatic resource management. After school her appreciation for nature led to several years of working for the Forest Service in Oregon, hooting for spotted owls in the forests of Mt. Hood. Next she relocated to California where she worked as an urban forester with PG&E. Leslie’s career path took a significant turn when she applied for a position as a lab technician at Ironstone Vineyards in Calaveras County. She quickly realized the wine industry’s combination of science and artistry was perfectly suited to her own talents and interests.

Committing to a career in winemaking, Leslie moved to Sonoma County to be in the heart of the wine country. There she worked at Clos du Bois, Sonoma Creek Winery, and Hans Fahden Vineyards, adding to her knowledge base and honing her skills. She later moved to Santa Cruz and became the production manager at Bonny Doon Winery. In 2005 she joined Talley Vineyards as an enologist, quickly moving up to Assistant Winemaker, and then was promoted to Winemaker in January of 2007. She joined the Foley Wine Group in August of 2010, assuming her current duties as Winemaker for Lincourt Vineyards.

Leslie is the Chairperson for the World of Pinot Noir, her second time serving in this capacity for the popular Central Coast event. She is constantly seeking to expand her knowledge of wines and winemaking, which has lead to her enrollment in the WSET Diploma Program. Leslie is a fan of the SF 49ers and Peter Gabriel, has sky dived (once), and loves to travel. She enjoys great food (both eating and cooking), extremely cold martinis, dogs (she has two at the moment), the outdoors, motorcycles, and convertibles.

Leslie and her husband Tim currently live in a hundred-year-old farmhouse on 40 acres of vegetable
farmland in the Edna Valley.