28 Sep

Summertime in Seattle (Part 1)

Wildflowers in Mt. Rainier National ParkOnce the kids all hit college age and beyond, the opportunities for family travel get fragmented and you savor whatever you can get. So, this past July we took our youngest with us (just before he was to go to college) as we ventured to the Seattle area in search of wine, food and nature. We spent a good deal of May and June negotiating the itinerary with our 18 year old, who is a pretty persistent negotiator. His vocation is photography and he’s particularly fond of old camera techniques using black and white media and he makes some pretty stiff demands, such as “I want to be in the middle of a river near a waterfall where no one else has ever been and where the lighting is strongest behind me and the fog is just starting to roll into the valley as the sun is dropping lower against the horizon.” He then points to a place on the map on the upper slopes of Mt. Rainier (the highest peak in the Cascade Mountain Range) where there is no road access for about 15 miles in any direction. Of course, we haven’t gone mountain climbing for—well, ever. Read on…

31 Aug

Pence Ranch

Pence Ranch Label LogoWhat a busy summer it has been! We dropped two of our three college boys off and only one remains at home for a few more weeks. We had some interesting travels the past 2–3 months and now it’s time to tell you some of the stories. But first, some of the wine. We made our way to Santa Barbara County, specifically the Santa Ynez area at the end of July to attend Palmina’s 20th anniversary party, where we were excited to sample some of Steve Clifton’s Pinot Noir experiments for his new La Voix Winery label to be launched soon. But that’s a story for another day (very soon). In the meantime, we checked into a converted barn overlooking a vineyard on Meadowlark Lane near Santa Ynez and quickly made our way over to Pence Ranch, a 200–acre working ranch and vineyard (100 acres planted) near the Buelton side of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. We had scheduled an appointment and were eager to sample their wines. Read on…

06 Jul

Lugana DOC Tasting

Lugana Turbiana Grapes (image courtesy of Consorzio Tutela Lugana DOC)Last week, we were welcomed to a delightful tasting of some excellent white wines of the Lugana DOC. The event was organized through Ian Blackburn’s wineLA, a primary source for the LA wine scene. Lugana spans the two Italian regions—Lombardy and Veneto—in the morainic plain south of Lake Garda, but it is relatively small—about 225 square kilometers (about 15 km x 15 km). This DOC produces about 14 million bottles of wine per year, 75% of which is exported. Two-thirds of the exported wine goes to Germany, and the USA is their second largest export market. Yet, so many terrific Lugana wines are not yet exported to the USA. We were lucky enough to try them that day and we hope US importers are taking note, because we want more of them right here at home! Read on…

18 May

Vino California 2015

Vino CaliforniaVino California is a celebration of Italian wine on the West Coast. We were invited to this year’s installment and we can report that it was as good as, or even better than, last year’s event. It attracts a collection of wines from all over Italy, which offers an abundance of grape varietals and styles. The event was held once again at Valentino in Santa Monica, which is a great venue. There were many fine wines on hand that day and we couldn’t taste them all. So, we’re only going to scratch the surface by telling you about the ones we found to be the most interesting and delightful to us. Read on…

07 May

Loire Valley Wines’ Day in LA

Loire Valley Wine MapWe visited France’s Loire Valley last week, at least in our minds, when we joined a trade and media wine tasting event sponsored by Loire Valley Wines in downtown Los Angeles. The Loire Valley has five distinct wine regions—Pays Nantais, Anjou, Saumur, Touraine and Centre–Loire—that extend along the Loire River from the Atlantic Ocean to the Center of France. Each region is comprised of several appellations boasting their particular style and grape varietals. If forced to pick our favorite Loire Valley wine regions (and varietals), we’d have to choose the two most inland (eastern) of the Loire regions—Touraine (Chenin Blanc/Vouvray and Cabernet Franc/Chinon) and Centre–Loire (Sauvignon Blanc/Sancerre & Pouilly Fumé). Of course, that would be merely scratching the surface of what the Loire Valley offers. Read on…

30 Apr

Grand Cercle Des Vins de Bordeaux

Grand Cercle Des Vins de Bordeaux at wineLALast week, we joined a trade and media wine tasting event put on by Ian Blackburn’s wineLA (originally branded as Learn About Wine) for the Grand Cercle Des Vins de Bordeaux, which translates to “Grand Circle Bordeaux Wine”. According to their website, the organization “was established in June 2013 thanks to the will of Alain Raynaud, its president and founder, to unite under a single entity the wines from the Right Bank and Left Bank. The organization is a blending of the earlier separate Grand Cercle organizations for the Right Bank and Left Bank. It includes to date the 138 chateaux from the Right Bank and 57 from the Left Bank.” The translation continues, “In the diversity and complementarity of appellations, terroirs and people, with nearly 200 wines, Grand Circle offers a showcase of Bordeaux wines selected for their high quality.” How true. Read on…

27 Nov

Naked Thanksgiving Wishes

Ardelio Olive TreeWe are thankful for so many things today. Against the backdrop of all the news of such ghastly things happening all over the world, our life seems pretty good indeed. Not everyone shares in this good fortune. Shortly after we launched this blog in March 2008, we wrote Our Adopted Olive Oil, a story about the olive tree in Le Marche, Italy that we adopted from Nudo Italia. (We have four children, so an olive tree was about all the more we could handle.) Our particular tree was number AR-13 in the Ardelio grove and was 66 years old at the time (now 72!). Perhaps, that keeps us feeling a little younger. Read on…