Monday, October 28, 2013

10/28-Michael Horn & Nicole Nielsen visit with Larry Van Aalst and Jeff Faber

Larry Van Aalst - Sommelier/WCOW Show Host
Host (The Sonoma Report), CRN Digital Talk Radio, Santa Rosa, CA
The Equus Restaurant wine list was judged "Best of Show" in the 1995 and 1998 Sonoma County Harvest Fair. The gallery of Sonoma County wines, nearly 300 bottles hand-picked by their winemakers, sets the tone--wine country splendor in a classic setting. Larry Van Aalst, Equus Sommelier, has been selecting wines for Equus for over a decade. Larry has been judging at the Cloverdale Citrus Fair/San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition for over a decade likewise, an opportunity for Larry to keep abreast of fine wines from California.
Larry will discuss 2012 Sonoma harvest and crush and update listeners on some upcoming events. 

Jeff Faber – Opolo Vineyards, Sales Manager
They say good fences make good neighbors, but it was a love of wine and winemaking that was the entrée between Opolo owners Rick Quinn and Dave Nichols. Their two families have lived side-by-side in Camarillo since 1996. As Nichols remembers, “I knew Rick to say hello to, but that was about it. Then one day, he said to me, ‘Hey Dave, I just planted 10,000 grapevines!’ “ And so began the evolution of Opolo, one of Paso Robles’ newest labels.

Quinn and Nichols have been neighbors in two counties since 1997 when Nichols bought vineyard property adjoining Quinn’s. Together they now own about 280 acres of vineyards in Paso Robles, about 200 acres on the Eastside and 80 on the Westside. The Westside vineyards are in the Adelaide hills, producing wines such as Pinot Noir and Sangiovese, while the Eastside properties produce varietals such as Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. The majority of vineyards have been producing fruit since 1998, and a small percentage of it has been finding its way into wine made by Quinn and Nichols ever since.

“We both love to make wine, and have made our own ‘backyard’ wine for some time,” said Nichols. For Quinn, that “some time” dates back to his childhood in Minnesota. “I grew up in Duluth, in an Italian, Serbian, and Croatian neighborhood.” Quinn recalled. “Our families would make wine from grapes we’d ordered from California that would be delivered in a boxcar. We didn’t have any of this ‘pick in the early morning and crush a couple of hours later.’ By the time we got the grapes they were already fermenting!”

Quinn moved to California in 1979, and continued to pursue his love of wine and winemaking as a hobby. He began to source grapes from Fratelli Perata in Paso Robles. “I got wonderful fruit from them, but in 1994 they said they just didn’t have any Merlot to spare, so I went out and bought some Westside vineyard property sight unseen, to assure I’d always have a source of grapes for my home winemaking.”

Though the impetus for buying that first parcel of vineyard was having grapes for his own winemaking, Quinn has always sold the vast majority of his crop to other labels. Quinn’s and Nichols’ vineyards sold fruit to quality labels such as Hess Collection, Neibaum Coppola, St Supery, Harrison Vineyards, Wild Horse, Castoro Cellars, and Fetzer.

Most of the fruit from Quinn’s and Nichols’ vineyards will continue to be sold to other labels, but the pairs’ estate vineyards will be a major source of fruit for the Opolo label. This is a situation that both Nichols and Quinn relish. “It really helps us as vineyard owners to get direct feedback about the wines we’re producing from our vineyards,” explained Nichols. “We want to make great wines, and the more information we can get, the more we can control the viticultural process and find out what we’re doing right.” Quinn agreed, saying “we obviously want to optimize our farming methods to produce excellent fruit, and because we have total control of the vineyards, we can apply the methods we believe will produce the absolute best quality fruit and, therefore, the best possible wine.”

1999 marked the first commercial crush under the Opolo label, when Quinn and Nichols produced Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, and Muscat Canelli. Quinn and Nichols have essentially taken over the viticulture and winemaking duties, not an easy task considering they both still have their “day jobs.” Quinn used to own one of the largest Century 21 brokerages in the country and Nichols runs his own wireless electronics firm. Neither has been able to convince their families to move up to Paso Robles full-time, but they’re working on it!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

10/21-Michael Horn and Nicole Nielsen talk with Ray Falkner & Morgan Clendenen

Ray Falkner - Falkner Winery
Located in Temecula Valley, CA, Falkner Winery is a long time in the making.  Our story is one of passion, perseverance and of course great wine.
Together they bring great business experience and a love for wine together to form a winery dedicated to producing high quality wines and a tasting room that generates fun and excitement. The winery opened July 1, 2000 with a joyous kickoff over the 4th of July. Based in the South Coast community of Temecula, the Falkner Winery is located near the crest of a 1500-foot hill that offers visitors a spectacular view of the valley below.

The gift shop offers unique gifts and food products that allow visitors to purchase lunch and dine on picnic tables located in their grassy, tree lined picnic area. With both inside and outside wine tasting areas, visitors have the opportunity to maximize their enjoyment of wine, food, and nature.
Call us today for information about exquisite wine tasting, premier fine dining, or for expert consultation with planning your memorable Temecula wedding.  We would love to hear from you and hope you enjoy our site.

Cold Heaven Cellars was founded in 1996 by owner/winemaker Morgan Clendenen who pioneered the cool-climate viognier style that the winery has become famous for producing. Using fruit from top-quality vineyards from three separate appellations in Santa Barbara County, Cold Heaven highlights viognier from the Le Bon Climat Vineyard, a Clendenen family-owned property that is farmed organically and the historic Sanford and Benedict Vineyard in Sta. Rita Hills.

Although Cold Heaven Cellars has become synonymous with California viognier, in 2003 a small amount of cool-climate syrah was produced and continues today. In 2008, pinot noir was added to the program, and currently Cold Heaven boasts two separate pinots, using fruit from the Sta. Rita. Hills and Santa Maria Valley AVA’s. All wines are produced using gentle cellar techniques in our small cellar in Buellton, California.

Monday, October 14, 2013

10/14-Michael Horn & Nicole Nielsen talk with Emma Swain & Morgen McLaughlin

Emma Swain - St. Supery Estate Vineyards & Winery 
Harvest Updates:
-St. Supéry’s 2013 harvest season kicked off with Sauvignon Blanc on August   20th.
-Now that we are in week 8 of harvest, all of our Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon and Muscat Canelli, are  harvested, processed, and on their journey to becoming exceptional wine.
-We were pleased with both the quantity of our yields and the quality of the grapes for all of our white varietals.
-Our red varietals are also coming along nicely. We’ve finished harvesting Merlot and have just a few parcels of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot that still need to be picked.
-We began bringing our reds in slightly early this year and are pleased with the hang time they received on the vine over our mild spring and summer.
-The majority of our Cabernet Sauvignon continues to hang on the vine and is holding up nicely.

Interactive Wine Classes – 4 fun ways to explore your palate and learn something new about your wine preferences.
-Wine & Cheese Pairing 
-Aromatherapy with a Corkscrew 
-Five Bordeaux Varietals and Your Five Senses 
-Inspired Whites 
Fun Upcoming Events:
-Cabernet is for Bacon Lovers, November 1st 3 – 5 pm
-Napa Valley Film Festival and Flavor! Napa Valley

Morgen McLaughlin - Executive Director, Santa Barbara County Vintners
CELEBRATION OF HARVEST RECAP…The Santa Barbara County Vintners' Association is a non-profit organization founded in 1983 to support and promote Santa Barbara County as a premium wine producing and wine grape growing region. The Association includes winery members whose annual production is at least 75% Santa Barbara County labeled, as well as grower/vineyard members and business associations.The Vintners’ Association produces festivals, seminars and tastings and provides information to consumers and the wine and travel media.

Individual wineries make many contributions to the local community, through donations of product, personnel and monetary support. In addition, the Santa Barbara County Vintners' Association hosts special events, the proceeds of which go in part to local nonprofit organizations. The Vintners' Association's mission is to promote the wine industry of Santa Barbara County and, in doing so, it brings favorable media coverage to the area and helps support the tourism industry which is vital to the region.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

10/7-Michael Horn & Nicole Nielsen visit with Robin Kelley O’Connor & Peter Work

Robin Kelley O’Connor - Wine Educator & International Wine Judge                                                                                    

A leading wine educator, international wine judge, wine writer, and sommelier, Robin Kelley O’Connor recently joined Italian Wine Merchants (IWM), where he’ll be adding his thirty years of experience, authority and passion to seminars, dinner events, sales, offerings and wine education. In addition. Mr. O’Connor was previously Lead Specialist & Head of Wine, Americas for Christie’s Auction House. He is a Christie’s trained charity auctioneer. Prior to Christie’s, he was Director of Sales and Education for Manhattan wine and spirits retailer Sherry-Lehmann, winner of Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s 2010 Wine Retailer of the Year Award. Preceding Sherry-Lehmann, he was Trade Liaison and director of trade and consumer education in the Americas for the Bordeaux Wine Bureau (Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux) for 20 years. Robin holds Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) and Certified Wine Educator (CWE) certifications from the Society of Wine Educators and passed the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Certified Sommelier exam. O'Connor served as president of the Society of Wine Educators from 2003-2007, is on the board of directors of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Wine & Food, and has been a regular panelist at the Food and Wine Magazine Classic in Aspen for 20 years. As a popular wine educator and spokesperson, he has conducted over 2,500 seminars; written for the Trenton Times, Santé Magazine, Wine & Spirit; and served as senior editor for Kevin Zraly’s Complete Wine Course 25th Anniversary Edition. For over a year during 2008-2009 he traveled around the world with Kevin visiting over 20 Countries, 80 wine regions, and 500 appellations and tasted more than 7,000 wines. Among his many professional honors, Mr. O’Connor bears the distinction of induction into the wine world’s most prestigious institutions, including the Commanderie du Bontemps de Médoc- des Graves et de Sauternes-Barsac, the Jurade de Saint-Emilion and Les Hospitaliers de Pomerol.

Some dream of spending the rest of their lives on golf courses and cruise ships, but with a taste for business and a love of Santa Barbara wine country, we chose a different retirement plan.
In 1999 we purchased 82 acres in what would later become the Sta. Rita Hills appellation, and named it “Ampelos”, which is the Greek word for vine. The name has a two-fold purpose. First, we believe that all great wines start in the vineyard. Secondly, we have close-ties with Greece; we were married there and own a small bed and breakfast, called Ampelos Resort, on the island of Folegandros. We bought the land with dreams of someday watching the nightly sunset over the hills and our dogs running through the vines.
At the time we were still working long hours in corporate America, and delegated our son Don (now winemaker at Sea Smoke) to get the vineyard started. Our vineyard consultant assured us that the land could produce a great vineyard with patience and care, but we had little time to focus on the vineyard with non-stop business travel, meetings and conferences.
In 2001, the first 15 acres were planted in the Ampelos vineyard. That same year, we landed in Newark on the morning of September 11th. Peter had a meeting in the first tower of the World Trade Center, and interrupted his plan to board Path 1 of the New York Subway when his meeting was canceled. If he had gotten on the train, 8:45 am would have found him under the towers as the first plane hit.
When we finally got out of the city five days later, we went straight to our safe place—the Ampelos vineyard. That is when we made the life-changing decision to quit our corporate jobs and focus all our effort into pursuing our dream of full-time viticulture. “Someday” was no longer part of our vocabulary.
We moved to the Santa Ynez Valley in January of 2002. We began to learn to nurture the soil and prune the vines to prepare for the first harvest, and purchased one ton of Pinot Noir and two tons of Syrah in order to learn winemaking as we waited for the vines to mature. We toiled under the tutelage of our son Don and several expert consultants.
2004 marked the inaugural Ampelos vineyard harvest. The first harvest yielded 15 tons of Pinot Noir and 6 tons of Syrah. In 2005, we planted 10 acres on top of the original 15, totaling 25 acres. Pinot Noir and Syrah remain our primary varietals, with a line of Viognier and just under two acres of Grenache—the unsung hero of the Sta. Rita Hills. We persist in experimenting with different grapes and winemaking styles, as we are major believers in the journey being the destination.
With the efforts of family and friends, wise guides, and a twist of fate, we have come to create our small, sustainable vineyard and winery. We have gone from expanding big businesses to focusing on creating a limited release of high-quality product that people can afford to share with friends and loved ones. For us, sharing those gifts is what makes it all worthwhile.