Join us on Wednesday, July 31 from 6-7 pm (PST) on Twitter for #winechat
#Winechat was created by Marie Sanderson Payton, then wine lovers enjoyed the weekly event via Bill Eyer and it's now led by Protocol Wine Studio. We're fans of Protocol Wine Studio as they believe in a true wine culture: taste it, share it, live it.
If you have a Twitter account, it's easy to participate in #WineChat. Add us to your calendar for July 31 from 6-7pm (PST) and type in #winechat to follow the conversation. Join the conversation by using the hashtag so everyone can see your question or comment.
During this #winechat we'll be focused on Argentina's wine: providing information on the premier wine region Mendoza, tasting signature grape Malbec and sharing stories behind the people who create the wines.
Why Mendoza? It's where the vast majority of wines from Argentina are produced with significant differences between the subregions. Also, I (Courtney Quinn, wine importer of OWOC Wines) used to live there. We import wines from Argentina into California while sharing the story of people who produce the wine with the people who enjoy drinking the wine.
What Argentine wine will be tasted? The 2008 Malbec de Angeles Malbec. The Malbec is from a vineyard established in 1924 that preserves the terroir with little influences to the wine and named "Top 10 Malbec" by Decanter Magazine in June 2012. Both wines are 100% varietals.
How can I get the wines for this #winechat? We have a small quantity of wines for those in the trade or wine writers who can use the contact form to inquire. If you are in San Diego, we have a few spots at our tasting during #winechat at Protocol Wine Studio...please email email@example.com to reserve you spot. If you learn about #winechat too late to get the wines, I'd encourage you to still join us. I've participated in a few #winechat without the wines and still learned about wine regions, producers, etc.
We look forward to you joining the conversation on #winechat via Twitter on Wednesday, July 31 at 6pm (PST).
Yesterday a family was walking behind me and the dad shared there was a poster for a movie on wine. The little girl said, "Why would anyone want to watch a movie about wine?"
It's not just wine geeks or those in the industry that will enjoy the new wine documentary SOMM.
It's about four men in their final few weeks preparing for the most difficult wine test in the world to become a Master Sommelier.
With a pass rate of around 10%, the test requires an insane knowledge of service, theory and tasting. In the service portion, you may decant a wine; in theory portion, answer obscure wine questions on region, grapes, etc. (like what is Cabernet Moravia...a grape bred from Cabernet Franc & Zweigeltrebe from Czech Republic); and during the tasting portion, identify the grape varieties, district and appellation of origin, and vintage of six wines in 25 minutes.
SOMM’s director, Jason Wise describes the blind tasting as a “ballet without music.”
It is a beautiful documentary that shows the true experience as these four guys prepare for the exam. You see them beyond their professional settings, you get a glimpse as to why they want it for themselves and you see the impact their studies have on their personal lives.
It is truly a story of determination. If last month you found yourself cheering for Nik Wallenda the tightrope walker over the Grand Canyon; praying the kids in the Scripps Spelling Bee would spell a word correctly; or routing for an underdog athlete or sports team than this documentary is for you.
Different members of the audience at the screening at The Grand Del Mar cried, cheered and laughed as we watched these four men test themselves. If I shared if any of them are now part of the 201 Master Sommeliers around the world, it would be like telling you who the killer is at the end of a horror movie.
You can catch SOMM at a few theaters or you can download the movie on iTunes and create your own tasting party. Make some food and pair it with wine. Perhaps you might enjoy a sommelier’s favorite pairing of popcorn with a buttery Chardonnay from California.
Watch SOMM. Be inspired.
This Sunday, June 9 we will be pouring our wines at the 30th annual Wine & Roses Charity Wine Tasting from 3:00 pm - 6:30 pm at Liberty Station in San Diego. The event is presented by the Social Service Auxiliary of San Diego.
Participating wineries received a medal in the San Diego International Wine Competition, plus more than 20 restaurants will be providing excellent dishes.
Join us at Wine & Roses and you'll have a chance to taste some of our wines.
Two years ago I traveled to the Okanagan Valley to experience the wines as I considered importing them to California. There are some great wines to be found, though I’m not importing any Canadian wine because of small quantities, duties and taxes that were too much as a new wine importer.
If from June 6-8, you’ll be attending the Wine Bloggers Conference here are my four tips to visiting wineries in Okanagan Valley:
1. Beautiful Okanagan Valley: Better whites in north, better reds in south
The Wine Bloggers Conference is set in Penticton, the southern city of Okanagan Valley. This area has some of the best wines in the entire valley (and British Columbia) with higher quality red wines. If you have the time and want a gorgeous two hour drive go north towards Kelowna. Along the way you can stop at wineries that have better white wines, lighter in style with less oak than we see in the United States. Also, if you visit any liquor stores, you’ll find lighter style wines from the Southern Hemisphere imported to Canada that you might not find in the United States.
2. Get ready for more than red and white wine
The Okanagan Valley has excellent red and white wines, but there’s more. By now you are preparing for Canadian ice wine. Also, their sparkling wines are receiving some of the highest accolades in international competitions. I was very surprised to find sparkling mead called Joy by Meadow Vista Honey Wines or the fermented and infused wines with sage and the “Flame” with a hot pepper at Silver Sage Winery. These wines are not gimmicks they are quite interesting and definitely worth trying.
3. Three small to medium size wineries to visit
As part of the conference you will have a tasting of the Great Estates of the Okanagan, (aka the larger wineries owned by the same company). If you are looking for small- to medium-size wineries to visit or try, check out these three.
Burrowing Owl Estate Winery – perhaps the best winery in Canada as both red and white wines are incredible
Road 13 – great winery doing some unique blending lots of wines I’ve never tried blended before or since
Desert Hills Estate Winery – the smallest winery on the list with outstanding red wines
4. If you try something you like grab it
Beyond the ice wine of Jackson-Triggs and Inniskillin it’s not common to see Canadian wine in the US. If you try a wine and really like it buy it then as it may be difficult to find elsewhere even in Canada.
Why would a wine importer celebrate the University of San Diego's Nonprofit Leadership and Management program's 10 year anniversary?
I'm a graduate of the master's program prior to my career change to the wine industry. When I worked full-time for Rady Children's Hospital Foundation, I was also a full-time student in the master's program. Then, I went to work for the Old Globe Theatre. As a fundraiser at The Old Globe, often I would attend private parties at donors' homes. We didn't want to get too crazy in front of donors, yet still fit in so we would have one glass of wine. Many of the supporters of the theatre also had a great appreciation for wine. At their homes there would be incredible wines better than what I was having at parties at my friend's homes. Quickly I was learning and becoming very interested in wine.
While pondering the career change, I took courses in San Diego State University's Business of Wine Program. There I learned the characteristics of other wine professionals, their daily roles and also an incredible amount about wine around the world.
Then, I took the leap. I registered for the wine immersion program at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley. I quit my job. I put my house on the market (it was going to sit empty for weeks while I was at the CIA) and it sold in 10 days. It quickly became more than a career change...a life change. That's all before I moved to Mendoza, Argentina.
Wow, what a lengthy introduction into why I'm excited for USD Nonprofit Program celebrating 10 years!
The USD program is the premier graduate program in nonprofit management and leadership. I looked at every other nonprofit and public administration program offered in the United States and USD is number one. It's a small, intimate program with less than 30 new students accepted each year. Some students complete the program in two years, others take longer depending on other life time commitments.
It's a combination of what you would expect with graduate level theory and practical projects in the community. Some project work includes board development, campaigns to raise money for organizations and programs designed and based on extensive literature reviews, models of best practices. There are some university professors teaching the course as well as very experienced practitioners. My advocacy course was co-taught by a former state assemblyman, imagine what you can learn from that type of an insider.
With the program housed in the School of Leadership Education Sciences, the leadership classes prepare you to go beyond nonprofit practices and become a leader in the sector and community. There are can be extreme personal growth depending on how much effort the student is willing to undertake.
After 10 years, the program has a pretty incredible network. As an alumnus, if I have a nonprofit need I look at the Best Practices Library or I think about a professor or alumni I can ask if they have done a similar project. Many of the connections made as students continue for life. I've vacationed with a few of my former classmates and some have been part of each others weddings.
USD's nonprofit program has allowed me to go beyond the glass in evaluating wines to import from Argentina to the US. I care about the community behind the glass (so much so it's part of the company's name) and telling the story of the people who create the wines.
I'm still involved with the nonprofit sector and now combining it with wine. For example, I'm helping the Women's Wine Alliance in San Diego gain their nonprofit status. When I meet with prospective USD students and other nonprofit leaders needing advice we do so now with a glass of wine.
I'm very happy with my experience and to raise a glass to USD!
I lived in Mendoza during 2009 and 2010 with a return visit from April to May 2011. Earlier this month, I spent 10 days in Mendoza and the five biggest changes for wineries in Mendoza that I noticed were the following:
1. Winemaker Projects
Most of the winemakers at large- to medium-sized wineries now also have their own separate projects, not affiliated with their winery. Primarily, they are sourcing their grapes from Valle de Uco and Lujan de Cuyo. I tried several of these wines though I don’t think we will see them outside of Argentina for a few years as their total production is very small around 2,500 bottles.
Since 2002, new wineries have been established from previous grape growers who sold all of their grapes to large wineries. The new wineries have built garage size wineries on their property or rent tanks and barrels from other wineries to create their own wines. Many of these small wineries now produce some of the most exciting and highly acclaimed wines. In the next 5-10 years, we could see similar results from the winemaker projects.
2. Convection Toast vs. Medium Toast
I had a friend visiting from the United States and we went to three of the area’s most prominent wineries. I’ve been in hundreds of barrel rooms in Mendoza and it was at the first winery I noticed many of the barrels said CT meaning convection toast. Yes, there were still oak barrels with MT for medium toast, plus a mix of French and American oak.
Convection toast barrels are toasted in an airtight convection oven as the ventilation system expels superheated purified air into a fusion chamber and then mixed with purified air at room temperature. The circulation of hot air produces a softer, slower toasting that allows the winemaker to customize the
barrel’s intensity and concentration of aromas in the wine.
Medium toast barrels impart spicy, woodsy and vanilla tones to the wine. Medium plus toast imparts baking spices, roasted and toasted elements.
Winemakers I met with shared they preferred the convection toast barrels as there were more consistent qualities throughout all of the wine in the barrel compared to medium toast barrels in which sections of the barrel had stronger elements than other sections.
3. New Varietals
Many wineries produce wine from Malbec and Torrontes the signature grapes of Argentina. The new trends in varietals in Mendoza differ by region.
There are huge variations between these wines, based on the winery and vintages. I would recommend trying these varietals from these regions by the glass or privately (not at a special dinner) as you may find some you’d like to use them in a sangria mix.
4. Tourists & Pesos
My travels were during off-season for tourists, though many in the tourism industry in Mendoza shared the numbers were low this past summer season. Hotel, airline and restaurant prices have increased significantly in the last few years due to an inflation rate of 10-25% depending on the source.
While I was there the official exchange rate for pesos to dollars was 5.14 to 1. On the black market (known as blue) the rate was ranged from 8.10 (up to 8.44 in some areas) to 1. You can read more about in The Wall Street Journal.
5. Use Your Laptop
If you are planning to visit or conduct research on wineries in Argentina make sure to bring your laptop. Unfortunately, many winery websites still use Flash and not user friendly for the iPad. Plus, brush up on your Spanish as many of the winery websites offer English versions of their website, though with very little information compared to the Spanish sections.
I have traveled around the world and Argentinians are some of the most friendly people. In Argentina, it's common to share stories with a stranger, then be invited for a meal and make a friend for life. When I traveled to Salta, I met the mother in the morning and that evening I was learning how to make empanadas in her home with her family. Next time I'm in Salta I will reunite with them.
The reality is that wine is what brings me back and many others to Mendoza. Wines from Argentina are outstanding quality for the price. Malbec and Torrontes are the signature grapes, two examples of the wide contrast and styles you can find in the wines here. This trip I'll experience Malbec World Day on April 17, harvest and try the new vintages.
It's fall here though hard to tell with the forecast of highs in the 80s next week. Outside Mendoza city, the area is a vast land of vineyards and beautiful bodegas (wineries). Plus there are picturesque views of the Andes Mountains topped with snow. Throughout Mendoza there is Italian architecture with Latin American style.
In preparation for this trip, I stopped eating red meat a week ago. Argentina has the most incredible steaks paired with wonderful wines that encourage any foodie to plan a trip here. It's not only steaks with excellent chicken, empanadas and pasta, too. The veggies are fresh so there are options for everyone.
If you have a sense of adventure it can be filled here. I've been paragliding here, which is one ofthe most popular places to do so in South America. This trip if the time allows I may go river rafting and horseback riding in the vineyards. In the evening it will be time to tango, though I'll leave that to the professionals.
The great thing about Argentina is you never know where the day is to take you. A stroll in the
park might lead to futbol (soccer) or a chance to find an extraordinary wine and a new friend.
In Mendoza, Argentina the first weekend in March is the "Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia" meaning the National Grape Harvest Festival.
In March in the Northern Hemisphere bud break will begin while in the Southern Hemisphere harvest is underway. We enjoy wine from Argentina, let's celebrate when and as they do. We are very excited as it is a great way to taste wine from all three wineries we work with in Mendoza. Please join us in celebrating Argentina's harvest with traditional food and wines.
Cueva Bar and Our World, Our Community present "Celebracion de Vendimia de la Argentina" (Celebration of Argentina's Harvest)
Sunday, March 3
Reservations between:5-8 pm
Paired with 2008 Bodega La Azul Reserva
Grilled Bife with grilled seasoned tomato and parsnip puree
Paired with 2007 Vina 1924 Malbec de Angeles
Make your reservations now via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 619-269-6612.
Have you wanted to experience Argentina? Ready to enjoy empanadas and Malbec?
Join us on January 30 from a special pairing of empanadas and Malbec from 7-9 pm. Learn more about each one with a brief talk at 7:30 pm. We'll be pouring the Vina 1924 Malbec de Angeles 2008 Malbec named top 10 Malbec by Decanter Magazine.
See you at The Rose Wine Pub at 2219 30th Street San Diego, CA 92104.