Tag: Winery Reviews

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Domaine Chandon: A Champagne Surprise in Southern Australia

December 12, 2012 at 5:05 PM | by | Comments (0)

If you're not one to pass up a flute of bubbly then you probably know the name Moët & Chandon, the 250+ year old French house that churns out some of the best Champagne on the planet. Well, the sparkles are not limited to the French region with the expansion of the house into other grape-growing regions across the globe. Aside from the vineyards in Napa Valley, Argentina and Brazil, we bring you the grapes of Australia.

Back in the 1960s, M&C began to explore areas for taking their operations abroad. In 1986, they settled on a little plot of land just about 90 minutes north of Melbourne in the Yarra Valley. The site was a former dairy and housed some of the best soil for ideal viticulture. It's now home to Domaine Chandon. Along with an expansive variety of non-bubbly wines, the winery is a certified producer of the méthode traditionelle sparkling wines with a regional flare.

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Yes, Virginia, There is a Sutter Home Winery

December 12, 2012 at 4:42 PM | by | Comments (0)

Napa Valley is a weird place. It's kind of demure, with rolling hills blanketed in low rows of lush vineyards, but also kind of action central, as the chances are high that the person cooking your food or pouring your wine is at the top of the industry. Recently we ventured into kitchens, cellars and wineries (all accessible to you, too) in search of the extraordinarly yummy, which really is the norm in Napa. Here, we share some of our winery picks.

A visit to: Sutter Home Winery in Saint Helena, California

The label Sutter Home doesn't exactly call to mind a stately mansion presiding over pristine rows of vineyards on prime California grape-growing property, does it? Heck, we only think of grocery store shelves and deciding which cheap, girly wine to buy for inevitable Lifetime movie marathons. Still, we now should say that's what we thought of it before setting foot at the Sutter Home winery itself in Napa, where there is indeed a Sutter Home and a property so lovely on land so expensive we wonder how $6 bottles of wine keep it all together.

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What Napa's Cakebread Cellars Has to Do with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner

December 12, 2012 at 11:07 AM | by | Comments (2)

Napa Valley is a weird place. It's kind of demure, with rolling hills blanketed in low rows of lush vineyards, but also kind of action central, as the chances are high that the person cooking your food or pouring your wine is at the top of the industry. Recently we ventured into kitchens, cellars and wineries (all accessible to you, too) in search of the extraordinarly yummy, which really is the norm in Napa. Here, we share some of our winery picks.

A visit to: Cakebread Cellars in Rutherford, California

Please allow us regale you with a brief story about how we first came to know the name Cakebread and how the small memory brought us here, right to the source at their Cellars in Napa. It was a few months ago and we were dining in a hangar at Boeing to celebrate the debut of LAN's First 787 Dreamliner. We weren't drinking since balancing our iPhone, DSLR and hors d'oeuvres proves a challenge on its own, but then someone said, "you just have to try the Cakebread Chardonnay."

We did try it. And we did like it, so much so that the funny name (which is actually the last name of the producing family) stuck in our head.

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Inside Opus One, Napa Valley's Fanciest Schmanciest Winery

December 12, 2012 at 10:02 AM | by | Comments (0)

Napa Valley is a weird place. It's kind of demure, with rolling hills blanketed in low rows of lush vineyards, but also kind of action central, as the chances are high that the person cooking your food or pouring your wine is at the top of the industry. Recently we ventured into kitchens, cellars and wineries (all accessible to you, too) in search of the extraordinarly yummy, which really is the norm in Napa. Here, we share some of our winery picks.

A visit to: Opus One WInery in Oakville, California

Oh, Opus One. Where to start? As we've already mentioned, Robert Mondavi is the OG winemaker here in Napa Valley, but it wasn't until he partnered up with big-deal French winemaker Baron Philippe de Rothschild to form Opus One that Napa Valley wines started to gain traction on the international scene. The friendship began in 1970, but it wasn't until 1979 that Opus One produced a first vintage and still later yet, in 1991, that the winery got the iconic architecture it calls home.

The vision of both Mondavi and de Rothschild was "spare no expense," and be totally "dedicated to the art form of making wine" to produce a Bordeaux-style red from the famous Californian Cabernet Sauvignon, using centuries of French know-how (and the clout helped too).

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Sippin' and Chillin' at Robert Mondavi's Massive Vineyard

December 12, 2012 at 9:02 AM | by | Comments (0)

Napa Valley is a weird place. It's kind of demure, with rolling hills blanketed in low rows of lush vineyards, but also kind of action central, as the chances are high that the person cooking your food or pouring your wine is at the top of the industry. Recently we ventured into kitchens, cellars and wineries (all accessible to you, too) in search of the extraordinarly yummy, which really is the norm in Napa. Here, we share some of our winery picks.

A visit to: Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville, California

Robert Mondavi. It's a name you likely associate with entire shelves in the wine section of your grocery store, but what is now an empire began with some grapes in 1966 (though the first Cabernet Sauvignon vintage wouldn't be released until 1968). Mondavi is the OG (original gangster, in slang) of Napa Valley, so duh, we had to stop in.

The winery itself is sprawling, not to even consider the vineyards yet (there's 550 acres to his To Kalon vineyard alone). Likewise there's too much to be said for Robert Mondavi himself, so we'll just stick to the property you can experience. There's two tasting rooms, a slew of event rooms, another tasting room just for members of their wine club, and then the production facility and barrel rooms. We skipped the tour because of a time crunch with reservations across the way at his Opus Wine operation, but we'll be back.

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Wine Tasting Without Leaving the City, at Santiago's Viña Aquitania

Where: Avenida Consistorial 5090, Santiago, Chile
September 26, 2012 at 5:17 PM | by | Comments (0)

In honor of #winewednesday, and partly because we're really feelin' the Chile lately, today we visit a winery within Santiago's city limits (believe it or not).

Viña Aquitania sits in the Maipo Valley, but is still very much a part of the city even if the presence of the towering Andes in the background suggests you're way out in some nearly untouched swatch of nature. It's not a humongous winery, nor is it teensy-weensy. It's just right for an hour-long visit with a tour and tasting, and even accessible via public transportation (subway to a bus).

We headed out here with Santiago Adventures for a super-brief taste of what they typically offer in full-day form; that is, entire excursions to visit multiple wineries plus activities, for the wine-serious. It is spring in Chile just now, so the vines weren't anything near their greenest, but the tours continue.

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At California’s Sanford Winery: A Pinot Noir Pioneer

Where: 5010 Santa Rosa Rd [map], Lompoc, CA, United States, 93436
August 22, 2012 at 11:13 AM | by | Comments (0)

You've seen the 2004 movie "Sideways," right? It played on HBO for, like, a straight year, we swear. Well, if you have then you've already seen Sanford Winery, one of the stars of the film focusing on California wine tasting. Luckily for everyone, it's not fictional.

Sanford sits in the Santa Rita Hills AVA, a reasonably adolescent wine region if you were to make the mistake of comparing it to the older Napa Valley Area. About a decade ago it was officially given the AVA (American Viticultural Area) designation. Owing its popularity to "Sideways," the whole region has actually been producing various Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs since the early 70s, when Sanford Winery started planting the first Pinot Noir vines in the area.

These vineyards are nestled between the uncommon east-west mountain valleys, making for a perfect natural climate and protection of the very delicate vines for which Sanford meticulously cares.

While recently staying in the Santa Barbara area, we took a very scenic drive to see what all the fuss was about.

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The Day We Discovered a Secret French Wine

July 25, 2012 at 11:47 AM | by | Comments (0)

One of the things we love about travelling in France is stumbling across random local wines that even winefans like us aren't familiar with. (It doesn't help with the "not familiar" part that the French shifted round their already-impenetrable system a few years ago.) The great thing is, these local wines we'd never heard of are often more awesome than the bigger names. And sometimes they're secret.

And so it was when we came to stay on the Côte Roannaise, a stretch of hills near renowned foodie town Roanne between Lyon and Vichy. Nestling in the hills of the Monts de la Madeleine (Magdalene Mountains) on the side of the upper reaches of the Loire, and discovered both the AOC Côte Roannaise and the IGP Vin de pays d'Urfé.

LOL OMG, WTF's an AOC and an IGP, you ask? Well, get yourself a glass of something, read on and we'll explain.

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Michigan Field Trip: Sippin' on Sweet Cherry Wine in Harbor Springs

July 18, 2012 at 2:23 PM | by | Comments (0)

Summertime, and the livin' is easy. So you're thinking of a late season trip so long as there's blue water involved, hm? Believe it or not, Michigan's got beaches, blue water and budget-friendly destinations. This week we'll be looking at the ways and places in which you can chill out while diving into the state's Upper Peninsula.

In honor of #winewednesday, and partly because we dedicated our palate to Lake Erie Wineries last week, today we visit a winery in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, just outside the hopping town of Harbor Springs.

Harbor Springs Vineyard and Winery sits on Pond Hill Farm, an organic working farm with a general store, restaurant, wine tasting room, garden (full of hollyhocks right now!), sheep, pigs, livestock barn, greenhouses and something called a Squash Rocket.

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On Ohio's Lake Erie Wine Trail: Put-in-Bay Winery

July 13, 2012 at 2:06 PM | by | Comment (1)

Everybody knows the Wine Trails of Napa/Sonoma, Argentina, the Loire Valley and, more recently, NY's Hudson Valley, but this week it's all about Ohio. Yes, Ohio has wineries—lots of 'em actually—and we'll be sharing our favorites with you.

Today: Put-in-Bay Winery in the town of Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island, Ohio

Perhaps the newest winery of all in the area, Put-in-Bay winery only opened in 2009 but at least took over a vintage Victorian mansion on prime waterfront property to make its mark. WIthout a history like Heineman's has, PIB decided to focus their energy on becoming a pretty place for drinking wine—get the tourists that way.

The first floor of the Italianate complex is given over to a few rooms of tables for indoor tastings, plus a retail store and tasting bar. Head out back to a gazebo and massive park, or out front to the porch and front yard that looks over toward Put-in-Bay harbor, the tiny Gibraltar Island and the towering Perry's Victory Monument. We ordered up our wines, took 'em to the porch and played a game of checkers while enjoying the lake breeze. Cheap, easy and absolutely idyllic.

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On Ohio's Lake Erie Wine Trail: Heineman's Winery and Crystal Cave

July 12, 2012 at 2:01 PM | by | Comment (1)

Everybody knows the Wine Trails of Napa/Sonoma, Argentina, the Loire Valley and, more recently, NY's Hudson Valley, but this week it's all about Ohio. Yes, Ohio has wineries—lots of 'em actually—and we'll be sharing our favorites with you.

Today: Heineman's Winery in the town of Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island, Ohio

Now that we've detailed how exactly to get to the little Lake Erie island of South Bass, it's time to start hitting them wineries. Just a short golf cart ride/bike ride or long walk from the Miller Ferry's Lime Kiln dock sits Heineman's, a whole complex that includes more than just some winemaking machinery; there's a weingarten and a very cool cave, its walls lined with crystals.

If you think Heineman's looks and sounds German, that's because it very much is so. The winery was started in 1888 by an immigrant who headed to the new world from Germany's wine-growing region. While digging for a well, Heineman happened upon one of the natural caves that dot the island. Though what's now called Crystal Cave is indeed lined with massive crystals, they sadly have no commercial value (thought the Smithsonian houses one).

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On Ohio's Lake Erie Wine Trail: Mon Ami Winery

July 10, 2012 at 5:24 PM | by | Comment (1)

Everybody knows the Wine Trails of Napa/Sonoma, Argentina, the Loire Valley and, more recently, NY's Hudson Valley, but this week it's all about Ohio. Yes, Ohio has wineries—lots of 'em actually—and we'll be sharing our favorites with you.

Today: Mon Ami Winery in Port Clinton, Ohio

First, some disclosure: we've been coming to Mon Ami Winery since our youth. In fact, this was the first place we (legally) drank on our 21st birthday, binging at Mon Ami's brunch and popping the pink champagne when Sunday alcohol sales began that day. All good memories that only continue as Mon Ami enters its 140th year of making and serving a range of wines in a stone building on Catawba Island, a short drive from downtown Port Clinton, Ohio.

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