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Discussion Starter #1
So... the berries are ripening and the crush is already underway for the sparkling wine folks.

Anyone interested in talking wine? food and wine?

It'd be great if this thread could serve as a resource for MDXers finding their way around the NorCal, CalCoast, WA/OR, VA and other (Chilean? Aussie?:D) wine regions.

Most people who visit these areas know of and/or how to get to the big names (Mondavi, Domaine Chandon, Ravenswood, Silver Oak...etc.), but what about those places that are a little (or a lot) off the beaten path? I know at least one other MDXer who probably has some secrets up his sleave.

As a start, I'll offer the most simple of suggestions: if you know very little about grape growing and wine making and tasting (or even if you know a lot), St Supery (on Hwy 29/St Helena Hwy) in the Napa Valley has a very good tour and a fun and informative interactive 'wine experience.' Special/private tastings are easy to arrange. PM me if interested.

Happy Trails to all.
 

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ghm2112,

If only you'd made that offer last November. We visited friends in San Jose/Cupertino area and spent a day in Sonoma Valley. We went to Matanzas Creek, Ravenswood, and Buena Vista. We had a good time, but didn't really care for Ravenswood. Funny that you should mention it in the "big" list.

Any thoughts on these winerys?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Atlanta:
Any plans to be back out this way? Would definitely have suggestions for a fellow MDXer (particularly one to whom I could show a little 'western hospitality' to :D )

Anyway, I too am ambivalent about 90% of what Ravenswood puts out. They were included in my big-names list b/c they are pretty popular and their wines are widely available (at least in my estimation) throughout the country. I also needed to include a Sonoma label so marne (Mr. Sonoma) didn't call me biased. Their higher-end reserve stuff is great, but their standard vintner's stuff is IMHO pretty mediocre when compared to other wines in their (VERY competitive) price range.

Baby's crying. Will give my thoughts on the others soon.

Happy Trails.
 

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If you find ever find yourself in the Yarra Valley of Victoria, I highly recommend the Garden Gully Winery tour, they make a great Shiraz, and are just really nice folks. There's another one nearby called Seppelt's that ages wines in an incredible series of underground cellars. Well worth the trip!
 

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Lets not forget the El Dorado and Amador wineries. No rediculous cover charges, long lines, and crazy prices. Just like the good old days in Napa. In fact these were actually the earliest wine areas of California and in the past few years have seen a rebirth.

Also to note that every square inch of Ca seems to be growing grapes these days. Go down Hwy 5 between Sacramento and Stockton and Highway 101 from Ventura to San Jose. Wine prices are going to plummet with all these grape being grown.

Chris
 

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Siduri Wines / Testarossa Vineyards

In response to ghm1212's inquiry... Siduri Wines is a small artisanal winery in Santa Rosa which produces a number of different Pinto Noirs from vineyards in Oregon and California's North and Central Coast regions. Most bottlings are vineyard-designates.

Like Siduri, Testarossa Vineyards is a small, very high quality winery. Testarossa focuses equally on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and is now venturing into Syrah and Viognier. Testarossa is located in Los Gatos, California, in the historic Novitiate winery started by Jesuits in the 18th century. Any Silicon Valley folks who enjoy great wine should arrange a visit (and tell 'em Marne sent you!)

Both Siduri and Testarossa have long-term contracts to buy grapes from my vineyard. Since our first harvest will be next fall, be sure to look for debut 2002 Sonatera Vineyard Pinots from Siduri and Testarossa in spring or summer 2004.


--Marne
 

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Lotsa grapes / cheaper wine / cheaper vineyards???

MGTD is totally on target, both in reference to great Sierra Foothill wineries in El Dorado and Amador Counties (check out Boeger Winery!), and about the glut of grapes in the Central Valley. Not only with all those vines result in lower wine prices, but the receipts the growers get and perhaps their likelihood of staying in the grape growing business is sinking too.:(

If you've interested in reading about some of the consequences of this, check out this Vineyard Land Value article. I know the author well...

--Marne
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Reply to PhillyFlyer

I tried to send the following to PF via PM but it is too long. Others might find it useful so here it is:

Hey Philly:
I've never stayed at the Renaissance, but I've had dinner at their Carneros Restaurant. The food was great, though pricey. Wine list was great, but overblown even relative to other restaurants geared toward the tourist trade. If you are interested in alternatives, I'd suggest Deuce (tel. 707.933.3823 691 Broadway, Sonoma); or the Depot Hotel Cucina Rustica Restaurant (tel. 800-200-2980 241 First Street West, Sonoma); I think they may even still offer cooking classes if you are interested in such). The General's Daughter (on Spain Street); the Girl and the Fig has been getting a lot of attention recently, but I've heard everything from 'it's great' to 'I wasn't impressed.' No firtshand experience, though. Unfortunately, in Sonoma nothing really good is cheap wrt dining.

For fun, I'd also recommend visiting Murphy's Irish Pub right off the main square in Sonoma. The guy who owns it was a teacher at my high school back in the day. It's a locals' favorite. I've seen kids in there before, but I'm not sure what their 'official policy' is.

In addition, you might want to consider contacting marne who posts to this site as he is a Sonoma County guy and probably knows a lot of hidden places.

Re: the Napa wineries you visited, I whole-heartedly agree with your assessment of Mondavi; I think they have (and have had) one of the best tours in the Valley (and I'm not just saying that because I used to work there). As for Grgich and Silver Oak, I would swap their descriptions. Outside of Opus One and some of the boutique wineries there are few places where I've seen as much pretension and wine snobbery as at Silver Oak. I think their wines are at least 30% overpriced. It's been a few years since I've been to Grgich, but remember finding the experience pleasurable. Not a big fan of Sattui wine (good value, though), but their real appeal, as you point out, is the deli and picnicking (great for the kids, too).

Ask marne about his suggestions for Sonoma wineries, especially those closer to him in Sabastapol. FWIW, I'd recommend visiting Gundlach Bendschu, Bartholomew Park and even one of the bigger producers like Clos du Bois.

Also, please take advantage of the Wine-ers thread to share your thoughts and experiences. If I have any say in the matter it will not be a place where wine snobbery rules and anyone who isn't a self-described expert needs to be bashful about asking questions or sharing their thoughts, experiences.

Happy Trails.
 

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Sonoma wine sites -- coming!

I'm kinda squeezed for time for the next couple of days, but I promise that before the weekend I'll post my thoughts on some well-known, lesser-known and unknown Sonoma wineries. Maybe restaurants too. And cheese places. And more!

--Marne
 

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Discussion Starter #10
OTHER Wine Regions

Yeah, my aunt used to drive a fire engine red El Dorado (big body and a smooth finish) and we used to have a dog that was a samoyen-amador mix (kind of skunky with a foul nose and watery finish) On second thought maybe it was a samoyen-LABRADOR mix.:D :D :D :D

Seriously (or about as seriously as I like to get about wine), I have only had limited exposure to wines from the gold country, although a while back we took part in a great motorcyle road rally staged during the annual apple festival(s).

I'd second Marne's suggestion of Boeger, as I've actually heard good things about them. Dunno if I have had any firsthand experience. After checking out their website, I wonder if there is a red varietal they DON't make? Hopefully some fo them are good!

Ghost: is the Yarra Valley covered by the Acura Navi?:D

That'a all for now.

Happy Trails
 

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GHM;

Thanks for your insights! I will dutifully report back with our findings upon our return towards the end of the month!

Ed
 

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Discussion Starter #12
OK, since it looks like marne will be out of the loop for a few days, I'll offer up another fairly simple suggestion:

taste at the wineries, but buy at the liquor/wine outlets

In the town of Napa, JV liquor warehouse is located near the corner of Silverado Trail and First Street. They have a huge selection and definitely beat winery retail. of course, if you have 'freinds in the industry' the employee/friends-of-the-winery discounts usually beat JV. If you're looking for something specific or less common, it'd be a good idea to call ahead and see if they have it in stock:

JV Liquor Warehouse
707.253.2620
426 First St.
Napa, CA 94559

BTW, although I would hope it goes w/o saying among 'family', I do not have any financial associations with any of the locations (wineries, restaurants, etc) I mention/recommend here. When I do have an association I will state it clearly. Napa/Sonoma are still small enough that personal connections with people in the wine/tourist industry are virtually inevitable.

Happy Trails.

Coming Tomorrow: Star sighting at the local meat counter!!!! :D :D
 

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Re: OTHER Wine Regions

ghm2112 said:
.

Ghost: is the Yarra Valley covered by the Acura Navi?:D

That'a all for now.

Happy Trails
Hey, mate! I don't know, but can you imagine tooling around the outback in an MDX? Awesome!

I was really struck by the fact that they'd let you rent a car in downtown Melbourne and, on your way out, remind you to drive on the left. That was an experience! :rolleyes:
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Ghost:
Kinda like sending your daughter off to the prom and reminding her date, "you DO know how to treat a lady, right?"

Actually it also reminds me of the tourist areas in all the lesser colonies where you see "Look Right" painted at the intersections to keep (mostly American) tourists from walking in front of oncoming cars.

As for Xing in the Outback... oh baby, where do I sign up!!

I'll pack the wine, water and shotguns, you pack more wine and veggies, throw in some friends and it'll be wallaby stew for us all!

Happy Trails
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Atlanta:
Sorry for the delay in weighing in on the wineries you mentioned. I know you've been waiting with baited breath for my astute observations and opinions:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :D

I'm with marne re: Mantanzas Creek, except, surprisingly, I've had a little trouble with their QC. we picked up a few bottles of 1996? merlot and a couple of them were off. we obtained them from a restaurant that was going under, so I can't be 100% sure that they were stored properly (and we ALL store our wines properly, right?).

re: Buena Vista, as you probably know they are one of the oldest wineries in CA and still put out a good product. In fact, last night we cracked open a bottle of 1999 Sauv Blanc (retail = $5, i think) and it went great with the roasted chicken, string bean salad and risotto milanese. (must be time for lunch...). balanced and light with a nice clean and appropriately acidic finish. a visit to their facility is very worthwhile as, if I remember correctly, they have a great display of historical wine artifacts and the like.

Happy Trails.
 

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ghm2112 said:
Atlanta:
re: Buena Vista, as you probably know they are one of the oldest wineries in CA and still put out a good product.
Happy Trails.
I think that Tricky Dick took over some Buena Vista Caber Sov to China when we opened up relations with them as a piece offering.:)

Chris
 

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Discussion Starter #18
MGTD:
Read yesterday that El Dorado is considered its own, recognized appelllation but that Amador is not. Has this changed recently, or are wines labeled 'Amador' or 'Amador County' doing so in a colloquial manner? Do Amador wines get labelled as El Dorado?

Just curious.:confused:
 

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ghm2112 said:
MGTD:
Read yesterday that El Dorado is considered its own, recognized appelllation but that Amador is not. Has this changed recently, or are wines labeled 'Amador' or 'Amador County' doing so in a colloquial manner? Do Amador wines get labelled as El Dorado?

Just curious.:confused:
I must confess that I do not know. As you pointed out many El Dorado wines are labeled El Dorado.

A quick scan of some Amador wines indicate that they either specify generically Sierra Foothills, Amador, or Amador County. Also some will spell out the local town, ie Plymouth and Fiddletown, or the more popular Shenandoah Valley.

From http://www.travelenvoy.com/wine/californiawineregions.htm#Sierra Foothills

SIERRA FOOTHILLS
Amador, Calavaras, El Dorado, Nevada, Mariposa, Placer, Tuolumme, Yuba

The sub-viticultural areas of the Sierra Foothills are:
El Dorado- El Dorado; Fair Play- El Dorado; Fiddletown- Amador; North Yuba- Yuba;California Shenandoah Valley- Amador/El Dorado; Amador/El Dorado Sierra Foothills- Yuba, Nevada, Placer, El Dorado, Amador, Calavaras, Mariposa, Tuloumme Yuba, Nevada, Placer, El Dorado, Amador, Calavaras, Mariposa, Tuloumme Yuba, Nevada, Placer, El Dorado,Amador, Calavaras, Mariposa, Tuloumme

Since most of the wineries are on hwy 16 (Shenandoah Valley) you can keep going through and it pops into many of El Dorado's wine areas just on the other side of the Consumnes River at River Pines. Makes for quite a large selection within a single highway.

Those with Navi will not be rewarded with any winery listings but the major roads in the area are covered. You will have to venture onto smaller roads leaving bread crumbs for many of the Shenandoah wineries.

One personal note is that we often get our Christmas tree from Noels in the Fairplay area of El Dorado and stop by Fitzpatricks for lunch. I am not a fan of their wines but they do make a good plowmans lunch and have a great view from their deck of the surrounding regions and the snow crested Sierras.

Chris
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Chris:
Thanks for the tips! That's the kind of info I am (and hopefully others are) interested in. Don't have the Nav (read 'purist' rather than 'cheapskate':D ), so the issue of non-coverage is moot.

your info re: labelling of Foothill wines is interesting. The definition of what a wine is/isn't is such a huge deal in Napa Valley and its sub-appelations that I figure it has skewed my perspective on the issue. maybe marne has some insight into what's going on with this issue in SV.

ok, now for a 'star' sighting. i rolled into a locally-owned supermarket to pick up some stuff fer grillin' and lo-and-behold who is picking up some sort of special order but Mr Apocolypse Now himself, Francis Ford (Frank-to-his-friends) Coppola.

As we both stood there waiting for our orders, I asked him about his son and daughter who went to high school with me. He, being a GREAT MAN, perfunctily discarded me like the lowly subject that I am. Who would think that simple small talk at the meat counter would be such an affront to a man of such immense stature (read FAT). Anyway, I guess I should just be thankful that I am blesed to be living among such greatness:D :D :D :cool:

Happy w'end to all.
 
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