Meeting New Wines

On our second day in Sonoma, we were lucky enough, as I’ve mentioned before, to have Patrick of Iridesse Wines showing us around. The second stop of the day was to a group of wineries who share space in the same building complex that I likely would never have found without his guidance. We had intended to go to several of the wineries in the space, but after the first, got a phone call and took a detour for a private tasting over at Michel Schlumberger. Prior to knowing of our detour, Patrick directed Matt, Russ, and I into Camellia Cellars to taste some excellent wines, where we also got to meet the owner!

We tasted through their whole line up (and more, including some wine that won’t be released until this fall and came away very happy!

2007 First Kiss: $22, Proprietor’s Blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, and Viognier, 12.7% alcohol by volume. Melon, lemon, tropical, floral, crisp, the Sauvignon Blanc really shows through in this one.

2006 Sangiovese: $25. Tart, tannic, tart fruit, cherry, strawberry, nice and fruity after a bit of a swirl in the glass.

2006 Zinfandel: Lencioni Vineyard, $26, 14.6% alcohol by volume. Vanilla, blackberries, dark fruit, tannic, needs time. We took home 1.

2005 Bountiful Zinfandel: $30, 14.4% alcohol by volume. Bigger berries, boysenberry, black berries, currants, fruitier than the ’06. Very good, not sure why I didn’t bring any home.

2003 Cabernet Sauvignon: $40, 13.8% alcohol by volume. Cream, little funk, bell pepper, herbs, dark fruit, still needs time!

2004 Cabernet Sauvignon: $45, 14.8% alcohol by volume. Vanilla cream, more up front fruit, strawberry, red fruit.

2006 Syrah: Not released until the fall, will definitely be getting some of this though! Vanilla, dark currants dark cherries, dark berries, lots of fruit, very very good, though needs time, a good year or 2.

2001 Diamo Grazie Proprietor’s Blend: 65% Sangiovese, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petite Sirah: Dusty fruit, blueberry, peppery, earthy, leather saddle, cherry, strawberry. Yum. We took home 1.

2004 Petite Sirah: $32, 13.4% alcohol by volume. Blueberry, coffee, floral, chocolate, blueberry pie, yum, my kind of PS. We took home 2.

As you can see, Matt and Russ made themselves at home at the bar while we spent a lovely part of our afternoon tasting through a great line up of wines. I’ll certainly be looking forward to the release of the 2006 Syrah, it may have been my favorite of Camellia’s wines, though the Petite Sirah gave it a run for the money as well. Many thanks again to Patrick for bringing us to this gem!

Hiking + Wine

Not at the same time, of course, but a day that involves hiking followed by wine has to be an excellent one in my opinion.

Now that Russ the Winehiker has returned from his long, and as of yet unexplained, absence, I believe it is high time that I got around to writing a review of his site!

Picture this: You are out in CA wine country doing the usual ho-hum visiting of tasting room after tasting room after tasting room. After the 20th or so visit, you have to think, there has to be more to do than just following the crowd from winery to winery. And then it dawns on you! Contact the Winehiker at California Wine Hikes to schedule a fabulous day of hiking in the gorgeous wine country, ending with a personalized trip to a winery for a tasting and tour.

Here comes the hard part! How do you choose just one of the fantastic sounding tours that Russ offers? If I were you, I’d mosey on over to the tours section of the website and start reading about all the options, from Walking the Zinfandel Trail to Elephant Seals, Fir Forests and Formal Tasting. I notice that Russ does have many pictures of each of his tours, but I think that the pictures are a major selling point, and make it hard to resist spending a day hiking around the wine country. I think that Russ should try to feature his beautiful pictures more prominently to entice people in!

The Wine Hikes website offers much information to digest, and the set-up is very easy to navigate. From helpful sidebar forms to find a hike you might enjoy to every FAQ you could possibly imagine, Russ covers it all. I do wish he had a section for reviews from former hikers, rather than just the one the changes in the sidebar, I’d love to hear what more people had to say.

When visiting California Wine Hikes, you need to be sure to stop by the other half of the site, Russ’ blog, Winehiker Witiculture. I love his blog. Up until last month and his strange disappearance, Russ regularly posted at least once a day and his writing is fantastic. He’s witty, descriptive, and interesting all rolled into one. I will only complain since he has been absent so long and we have not had any updates in a very long time! 🙂

My only regret is that on our last trip to CA wine country, Russ and Matt and I were unable to mesh our schedules so we could join him on a hike. I will be sure to make it work on our next visit to the West Coast!

Russ is running several contests on his site right now to win free wine, one of which is to write up a review of his site. For details, click here.

I like Wine. I like Contests.

Therefore, I really like Wine Contests.

In case you hadn’t already seen this one, I wanted to draw your attention to a new contest for free wine, this time being hosted by Russ, the Winehiker. Russ is offering wine prizes to the best reviews of his site, California Wine Hikes, written by other bloggers. The top six will win a prize and the best review will be the recipient of a full case of wine valued at $500.

The contest starts today and runs for 6 months, so you have plenty of time to explore Russ’ website and get to know what he does and how he does it before posting your review!

Russ promises more details today, but for now you can check out his current post on the contest.

Best of luck to everyone!

Tag! I’m It!

I was tagged by Farley of Wine Outlook the other day to participate in my first meme. Farley in turn was tagged by Winehiker, which leads back to this tree showing who tagged whom and where the meme has been. The question at hand is: Why do I blog? From checking around, it appears the popular format is to answer in a list of 5 reasons. Why 5? Color me clueless, but I’ll play along!

Why do I blog?

1.) A long time wino: I spent the first part of my 21st birthday celebration(or maybe the second, give me a break, it was my 21st birthday and the night is a bit foggy) with my best college girlfriends, Lindsay, Mer, Sarah(who shares my exact birthday and thus was my only 21-year-old buddy at the time as we were quite a bit older than our classmates) and Sonja, drinking flights of wine at Zins, a wine bar in our sleeply little college town. It was more an indication of our habits at the time than a harbringer of things to come, but it became the official place for our little group to begin our 21st birthday celebrations and served at the time as a great place to try lots of different wines and my first experiences in an “official” tasting setting. From my college beginnings I’ve only grown to love wine more and the blog is an extension of that love.

2.) A trip to Sonoma: By a set of circumstances mostly beyond my control, Matt and I had to rearrange honeymoon plans that were initially set to take us to Ireland and Scotland. For practical travel reasons we ended up looking to North America for our honeymoon and set our sites on the Northern West Coast: Vancouver, Seattle and Sonoma. I had always wanted to visit wine country and our honeymoon suddenly presented the perfect opportunity. I already loved wine and had by that time instilled a taste for wine in Matt, so off we went. We visited 26 wineries. We talked to many winemakers. We toured barrel rooms and vineyard facilities. I was more and more intrigued by wine, the process of making it and the people behind it. I use the blog to learn more about all those aspects of wine and others.

3.) Abject boredom (we’re being honest here, right?): During long periods of crushing boredom at my new job when they first hired me and then cut my entire department within days of me arriving, yet kept me on and simply shuffled me into a corner for a few months, I had very little (read:absolutely nothing) to do. And I discovered wine blogs, Wine Blog Watch and a wealth of wine information on the internet. As I explored these blogs, I realized that I drank just as much, if not more, wine than some of the authors, and I was drinking a lot of wines that I didn’t see reviewed anywhere. I may not be terribly computer savvy, but I figured I had something to add to the wine conversation, and thus Wannabe Wino was born.

4.) Continuing education: I keep blogging for several reasons, one of which is that I truly believe wine to be a subject I will never stop learning about. The next new wine region is always popping up, there are new values to be found and varietals to explore. The blog helps me keep track of where I’ve been with wine and where I’m going. Even in the short 6ish months that I’ve been keeping Wannabe Wino as a record, I can already see how far I’ve come in developing a palate and in my general knowledge about wine.

5.) Wine bloggers and wine blog readers rock: I still marvel at the fact that anyone reads what I write. Really, I do. And that so many people leave comments on things and indulge my seemingly never-ending stream of questions about how you drink wine, what I should drink with a certain dinner, where I should go in Sonoma, etc. Plus, everyone I’ve interacted with is so willing to share their knowledge or their time (we so wished we could have connected with Russ for a hike!) or even their wine. Just on this recent Sonoma trip, I had dinner with Farley who was so friendly and even brought us wine and Ken and his wife opened their home to Matt and I and had us over for a delightful evening of wine tasting. Not to mention the many recommendations I’ve gotten for wines that turn out to be great, recipes that are fabulous (have you checked David or Leah’s blogs for recipes lately??) fun contests to enter, such as El Jefe’s, vineyards to visit (thanks Tim, John and others!) or even wine shops to visit when I leave my own area (thanks Dr.Debs!). So I keep writing because people read, I’ve met some great folks, hope to meet many more in the future and I simply enjoy the culture that exists among this population.

Okay, that turned out longer than I anticipated. But now I get to tag people to tell us why they blog.

David of Cooking Chat
Sarah of August and Everything After (Best wishes to her too, as my newest engaged friend!)
Rob of 365 Corks
Huevos Con Vino
Joe of Joe’s Wine

Tag! You’re it!