When I Grow Up…

Ok, first off, yes, I am a major slacker and haven’t been posting here in a long time.  I admit it, and am working on resolving my occassional severe case of Slackeritis.  I however am actively posting on Twitter (www.twitter.com/winesgood) in the meantime, so if my Slacker problems continue here on the WinesGood blog, just give me a little poke and I’ll jump back here with more regularity.

So.. what do I want to be when I grow up?  Don’t know exactly!  What I do know is that I love love love when we’re up in wine country, cruising around, talking to people, tasting great wine, eating local fresh food, enjoying the clean, clear, fresh air.  So either I’m saying I want to be a permanent tourist in wine country (not really a bad idea right?), or I need to make wine country my home and my business. 

But what to do?  I know I don’t really want to be a farmer.  I mean, the cute little vegetable garden that I plant with my son is fun, but acres of grapes, probably less so.  I love the cooking, eating, and drinking aspects of wine country. 

So I think the first step for me is to learn how to make wine….  This leads to a ton of other questions and multiple directions and I need your input and advice here – yes, your input.  Do I go the wine education route, taking courses in wine history, regions, and flavor profiles offered by associations such as WSET?  Or do I hook up with one of these cooperative wine making groups like Crushpad?  Or do I try to casually pursuade a small winemaker to allow me to buy a barrel or part barrel and get down and dirty making wine?

I know an awesome wine maker, who with some cash and my volunteering to help (physical labor, social media, marketing, walking his dog, etc) might be convinced to work with me.  He suggested that while official training is nice, doing something is the best way to learn.  I tend to agree, but…

So?  What do I do?  What makes the most sense?  What can I do while balancing my day job (which is running consumer marketing research for a fitness company)?  Anyone? Bueller? Thoughts?

To be continued…….

Doing Time in The Big House

I was lucky enough to have been invited to a private wine tasting presentation lunch with the lovely Georgetta Dane, winemaker and personality behind the Big House Wine Company.  I along with my wife, Romy, the name behind her own very successful blog RomyRaves were invited to a private sit down with Georgetta to have her walk us through her history, wine philosophy, and of course to sample her lineup.

Georgetta’s story is inspirational.  Coming to America direct from Romania after winning the US green card lottery that she and her friends entered on a whim, she and her family settled in the Monterey Bay area of Central California.   Unlike many winemakers I’ve met with, Georgetta didn’t dream of someday making wines and living a wine lifestyle.  She and her husband both have food scientist backgrounds, and when she landed in the States, at harvest time, she found  her calling.

Georgetta uses her food science background and her keen sense of smell to create and blend wines based on the varied aromas of each varietal.  She explained the process in terms of making perfume, beginning with the base, middle and finally the top note.  She starts with the base varietal, and depending on the aromas and “notes” she finds, she continues to blend and add notes until the final wine is a nicely balanced wine.

The Big House, located down the street from an actual “big house”, the Solidad State Correctional Facility.  Georgetta keeps things playful in her naming convention and wine styles, opting for very drinkable and affordable wines.  The grapes are the stars across all of her offerings.  All of the varieties are priced at only $9.99 (750ml bottle) or $22 (3lt container).  Georgetta makes wines to be enjoyed today, any  day, not to be stored and aged with the hope of one day being worth all that extra rack time.   She’s an unconventional winemaker in a sea of “same”, making both her and her wines stand out to me.

I’d suggest trying the Big House Red (a blend of everything red, that actually works together amazingly well), Unchained “Naked” Chardonnay (the anti-California Chard that simply showcases the grape rather than the oaks of more traditional California versions), Cardinal Zin Beastly Old Vines, and The Slammer Syrah.

As always, check this one out and let me know your thoughts..

Stone Brewery’s Got Some Major Stones

I know, I’ve been missing in action of late, and for that I’m sorry.  Between the holidays, my day job, traveling, and yeh drinking, I’ve been slacking.   I have about 10 posts written, well in my head at least.  Since most of you don’t yet have access to those files, I thought I’d write one up for you..

beerSo, I love Wine and Wine is Good.  So does that mean I can’t dable in other liquid refreshments every now and then??  My love for scotch has been well documented and I know I’ve written about beer before.  But when beer is good, beer rocks!  Now I’m not talking about that crap you pick up cheap – you know, the yellow stuff that your friend shows up with to your place (you need new friends by the way).  I’m talking, big, bold, complex beer.  The kind you can’t see through.  The kind that brings you to a complex place layered with flavors.

One of these amazing breweries is Stone Brewing Company.  They are down in the San Diego area and make some big time kick ass beers.  In fact, the first time I tried it I went based on bartender referral and name – Stone Arrogant Bastard.  This beer is awesome, but its clearly not for everyone.  It’s an aggressive ale that’s dark, rich, and has a great bite to it.  YUM.

But then the other day I was out with the wife lady, testing out a new burger and beer joint when I stumbled across Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale.

Now this, I fell instantly in love with.  This complex beer comes out of the bottle black, with a huge frothy head on it.  Its hoppy and rich, yet has some tropical fruit notes (in a good way!).  I think I found my new go to beer when out doing the tavern thing. 

One of the things I love about this Brewery, is their extreme attitude that I feel is totally deserved.  They don’t claim to be the best or the biggest or even the smartest.  They just claim to make a kick ass beer, for those people that want something to kick their ass on the flavor front.  

I must say that if your a ‘big red’ wine drinker and think beer is just a one note BBQ beverage, give Stone a try and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Sunce 2003 Syrah – Rockin’

So there I was, looking through my wine storage binder trying to figure out what to drink with my wife’s latest attempt at crock pot mastery, a tri-tip cut o’beef that “stewed” all day.  Clearly, something big and bold was in order but what to pick.  Then, duh, the moment hit, we’ve got this awesome 2003 Sunce Syrah that’s just been sitting there all these years chilling in the storage fridge.

Now, for those of you that don’t know Sunce, you must find some of their wine and try them out.   We stumbled across this small family run operation several years ago while on a trip in the Russian River area of Sonoma County. We had no expectations when we arrived (often how we prefer it) and were totally blown away by the staff and amazing wines.. We signed up for the wine club on the spot (something we rarely do) and for years have been excited to get our Sunce box in shipped to us.  Sunce makes these great big Reds, that age gracefully and mature wonderfully.  

The 2003 Syrah had such a great note when we opened the bottle we knew that regardless of how the “crock pot” adventures were going to turn out we’d be in for an awesome evening.  This wine is a full bodied, rich Syrah with notes of fruit and pepper on the finish.   I’m dying for another trip up to visit Sunce and sample some of their newest creations.  Due to a lack of storage, we ended our wine club membership last year and are in major need of some new Sunce Wine to round out our collection. 

In the end, the tri-tip was good, not great.  The wine however, Rocked!

My Kid Loves Wine Country

Wine country is a magical place for me and now that we’re in the holiday season and about to have our son out of school for 3 weeks for winter recess, it seems that a visit in clearly required.  And yes, My Kid Loves Wine Country, but no, he doesn’t drink the wine (yet).  We as a family have been regularly going from our home in Los Angeles up to the Santa Barbara wine country area, at least 4-6 times a year.  This started when my son was just 3-months old. 

Picture this, Mom and Dad bleary eyed from new parental exhaustion head up to their beloved wine country with their new baby.  The fresh, crisp air instantly awakens their senses and they are excited and happy to be there.  At the first stop, Dad, Mom, and Baby (strapped to Mommy in one of those archaic Baby Bjorn’s).  We’re in the tasting room, enjoying, mingling, chatting with other fellow tasters, and tasting some interesting wines – all while our son sleeps in his holster on one of us at a time.

Wine country is beautiful, and not just because of the awesome wine tasting experience. Here in LA I feel we’re spoiled.  Only a short, 90 minute drive away from crowded, smelly, smoggy Los Angeles – you can be away in farm country.  Vineyard and groves and rolling hills in every direction that you can see.  The air is clean and perfect.

So back to the point – my kid then, and now 7 years later, loves going up there.  Due to state law (and our out preferences) he stays outside of the tasting rooms.  One of us goes in, grabs a taste and notes, and comes back outside to one of the great outdoor picnic areas and we taste together.  My son meanwhile, will see other kids to talk to up there, collect sticks, check out the cool giant leaves, and look for animals (everything from horses, cows, lizards, birds and ostriches).  He just loves being outside, seeing the new environments, and having family bonding time.  Many of the wineries now even have bocce ball courts so we get a little competition in as well.

Wine country can be a fun, family friendly event (yes, read that as moderation!).  Then, don’t forget, the awesome dinner BBQ joints up in the area as all so perfect for kiddies too.

Anyone else bring their kid(s) up to wine country now and then?   Am I crazy or on to something?