January 2011 Archives
I've had a lot of personal milestones this month...my 29th wedding anniversary, my daughter's 18th birthday, and now my 11th year at the Screen Actors Guild AwardsÂ®. Obviously, this last one isn't in the same category as the first two, but it's on the top of my mind in the wee hours of the morning as I prepare to depart for Los Angeles soon. I'll be attending the SAG AwardsÂ® media dayÂa special day for media outlets and reporters to preview the behind the scenes preparations that are underway at the Shrine Auditorium. (The actual show doesn't air until Sunday, January 30 on TNT/TBS at 8:00 p.m. EST / 5:00 p.m. PST.) My hope will be that someone, just someone, will want to talk to that wine gal standing on the sidelines. If they're in the mood, they'll taste a few of my wines and learn a bit about Dry Creek Vineyard's participation. I might get a major interview with one of the news crews...then again, I might not. (I still remember the year I got to say "Dry Creek Vineyard" about 10 times on Entertainment Tonight!) To add some local exposure, I'm bringing Ziggy The Wine Gal, a Sonoma County radio personality who will be doing her wine radio talk show live. She will have the time of her life, I'm sure. Plus it will be fun to share this once in a lifetime experience with someone new.
She'll get to taste our SAG AwardsÂ® CuvÃ©e, a very special Cabernet Sauvignon we produced in magnums exclusively for the show. She'll also be sampling our other wines paired with the exquisite cuisine of Chef Suzanne Goin, from Lucques Restaurant and Catering. I met Suzanne last year and instantly felt a connection with herÂour lives couldn't be farther from the celebrity scene, yet we both produce a product that ups the quality of the show a notch or two. (Actually a lot, but who's counting!)
Over the years, I've met some pretty amazing people as a result of our involvement. People like Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, Pierce Brosnan, and Clint Eastwood. Some have visited the winery and quickly became even bigger fans of our wines. Others were simply lovely people, who passed through my life rather quickly but it was exciting to meet them nonetheless. What they all have in common is this: a love of life that transcends into a passion for what they eat and drink. (Some even own restaurants, as in the case of Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman.) Wine is like that: it's the common thread that weaves people together from all backgrounds and interest levels. Wine sets the stage for friendships to be made and connections to be forged. It's no different whether they're from Iowa, New York, or Hollywood.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that 2011 will be a banner year for us. By all indications, it's looking very good. If I can add a few new fans to our expanded family of Dry Creek Vineyard wine lovers today, I'll be off to a good start. Then, next week, I can settle back down to the realities of the trials and tribulations of selling and marketing our wines.
In keeping with my New Year's Resolution "drink champagne more regularly," I recently stopped in at the Roederer Estate tasting room in Anderson Valley. We were headed to one of our all time favorite places on earth, The Harbor House on the Mendocino Coast, to celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary. Ok, stop right there. How many people do you know who have actually been married that long? And of those, how many are partners in life as well as partners in running a business? And of those, how many are actually still in love? Exactly! That's why I figured it was perfectly OK to be drinking champagne in the middle of a Friday afternoon.
Sipping through the Roederer line-up of bubbles was a delightful way to kick off our special celebration. They have numerous bottlings at various price levels, but by far the best is the 2002 L'Ermitage. If you like traditional French champagne, this one is for you. It is delicate and creamy, with exactly the right combination of fruit and richness. It's not cheap, at $50. But when compared to the cost of a large pizza and a pitcher or two of beer, well, it wasn't hard to justify the investment.
A little later, it was time to open the Bollinger Brut Special CuvÃ©e that I had picked up at my local grocery store. A shelf talker boasting a 94 point score from Wine Spectator caught my eye so I figured it must surely be worthy of our milestone. It too falls into the pizza and pitcher of beer price range.
"The bubbles are a little big for me" commented The Husband. Huh?? His comment seemed snobbish at first, but upon closer examination, I realized he was right. While the wine was creamy and yeasty, it was not seamless. The bubbles are so big that they fight with the subtle richness and savory nature of the wine. It was like the wine had two distinct personalities and they were definitely not getting along.
I'm no champagne critic, but this was getting fun!
Our next selection was the Krug Grande CuvÃ©e non vintage, ordered right off the Harbor House wine list. Ahhh, heaven on earth. Now here was champagne with tiny bubbles, complex flavors and a delicate yet sophisticated mouth feel that scored very high on the Yum Factor! It paired magnificently with Chef Adam Able's petrale sole with French beans, onion rings and sauce hollandaise. Talk about sublime. (Note: at this point in the evening I was in direct conflict with New Year's Resolution # 8, Lose Some Weight.) For you foodies, Adam is definitely a chef to watch. Trained in the south, he did a stint at Cyrus Restaurant in Healdsburg before taking the Executive Chef position at Harbor House. His cuisine is marvelous. Besides, anyone who finishes a meal with homemade beignets is a star in my book.
As the evening progressed, I realized we were having an all champagne meal. Oh boy, I could get used to this.
Other champagnes we tasted were a 1996 Veuve Clicquot (oxidized with no pop), Roederer Estate Brut RosÃ©, (also high on the Yum Factor) and an old standby, J Vintage Brut, Late Disgorged.
As for my New Year's Resolution, I've added to it slightly:
ÂEach and every week, I shall enjoy some type of bubbly grape-based beverage to celebrate the basics of life: love, marriage, family, friends, health, happiness, and harmony. If those don't seem fitting, there's always feeding the dog, folding the wash, or emptying my in-box...
This is a blog about what it's really like to be in the wine industry...so sit back, take a sip and enjoy!
A Lifetime in Wine
Top 10 Traits of the Successful Family Winery
The Dreaded Family Meeting
Board Meeting Jitters
Is the Future of the Winery in Danger?
The Case of the Overweight Bottle
Wine and Dementia
Wanted: Talented (Normal) Individual for Family Owned Winery
A Sea of Wine
The Heroes of Our Industry