Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Cooking with Barbera - What could be more Wonderful?

We appreciate a man who can cook, and when it is iconic winemaker Scott Harvey, you know that he'll be doing that well.

Scott recently whipped up a batch of Mushroom and Barbera Rissoto on a TV show.  Jana Harvey (who has her own winery as well) sent along the recipe:

Wild mushrooms and barbera risotto
Serves 6

5 1/2  C chicken Stock
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
Salt & ground pepper
1 1/2C Arborio rice
½ C Barbera
2T unsalted butter
1# mixed wild mushrooms
Salt & fresh-ground black pepper
1 shallot, minced
½ C freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 T chopped fresh parsley

1. In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a simmer.

2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil.  Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring for 1 minute.  Add the barbera and cook, stirring until the wine is absorbed.  Add 1 C of the warm stock and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until nearly absorbed.  Continue adding the stock ½ C at a time, stirring constantly, until nearly absorbed.  Continue adding the stock ½ C at a time, stirring, until it is nearly absorbed between additions.  The risotto is done when the rice is al dente and a thick creamy sauce.  (About 20 minutes)  Season with salt and pepper.

3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt the butter.  Add the mushrooms and shallot, season with S&P and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned, about 10 minutes.  Scrape the mushrooms into the risotto and stir in the cheese and parsley.

Scott Harvey Wines will be pouring at two upcoming festivals:  Amador FourFires on Saturday May 7, and the Barbera Festival on Saturday June 11

Scott Harvey Wines is located at 10861 Shenandoah Road, Plymouth CA 95669
Call 209 245-3670 for hours
Or visit the website   www.scottharveywines.com

Monday, May 2, 2016

Road Warrior for Lava Cap - Kevin Jones, third generation, wears many hats

I spoke to Kevin when he was pouring at the Lava Cap station during Zinfest.  He's on the road for the winery a fair amount, as Lava Cap does many outside events.  But this is one busy guy, and I thought I'd let him talk for himself:

"Well, my position is mostly here at the winery. I complete a lot of the marketing projects, from day-to-day scheduling of events and wine club events to schlepping tables and chairs for weekend groups.

Really what it comes down to, though, I think for many family farm businesses and wineries is the need to be a swiss army knife. Some days I'm sitting at a computer and another day I may be operating a spray rig in the vineyard. I think interacting with the wine consumers at events such as ZAP, however, is extremely important.

Wine is one of the few products where you drink a story. Everyone has a story, but without experiencing the story from someone writing it, it is just another story, or just another winery in this instance.

We are very proud of our farm and our product, so we are excited to participate in events; generally we do 30-40 outside events a year. We have several employees that have great enthusiasm for our story that help out with these events, but if the cards line up right and the family tries to stay involved in these offsite events as much as possible.

We actually have quite a lot of new exciting things at Lava Cap. Starting August 2013, we hired a new wine maker, Joe Norman whose past experiences include Heitz Cellars. The level of quality and consistency of his wine making should be a stepping stone for a future of amazing wines.

 Lastly, and something I think is very exciting for me, is our bird is coming back to the Lava Cap label and we are introducing that label this summer and fall.  I'm happy to share the story of our new endeavors!"

Lava Cap is located at 2221 Fruitridge Road, Placerville CA 95667
Call them for tasting room hours at 530-621-0175
or visit their website:  www.lavacap.com 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Where the Vines Meet the Pines: May 14 begins Wine Trail Adventures with Sierra Vintners

“No crowds.  No pretense.  Simply Amazing Wines!”

That’s the introduction to the message on the website for Sierra Vintners, a group of wineries that includes those in and near the Gold Rush towns of Auburn, Grass Valley, Nevada City, and Marysville.

Teena Wilkins at the door of
Vina Castellano's tasting room
On May 14, the Sierra Vintners inaugurates its 2016 wine trail program.  I’ll be at the tasting room of Viña Castellano in Auburn to greet visitors and sign books, but visitors to this first wine trail will want to check the offerings at the other wineries featured that day.  You can get tickets at the association website:  click here 

The Sierra Vintners has one of the best descriptions of the foothills wine adventure of any I’ve seen.  So I am quoting the website below.

“Experience wine country the way it was meant to be – along country roads through foothill towns where you can still feel the Old West.  Continue into the rolling hills and vineyards, where friendly vintners welcome you to the classic California wine tasting experience.

“The Sierra Vintners wine region is relaxed and rich in history, nestled within the beauty of the mountains.  Drive past ranches to hillside vineyards – or walk from tasting room to tasting room within a few downtown blocks.  All roads lead you to award-winning wines and an eclectic mix of winemakers who talk about wine without the “wine speak.”  There’s no pretense here, just smiles, hospitality and loads of enthusiasm for their vineyards and their wines.  And they love sharing it all with their new friends.”

Here are the wineries featured on the May 14th wine trail:

Amour Privé, 9630 Miracle Dr., Auburn CA 95602   www.AmourPrive.com

Bear River Winery, 2751 Combie Rd., Meadow Vista CA 95722   www.BearRiverWinery.com

Bonitata Boutique Wine, 291 Auburn-Folsom Rd., Auburn CA  95603   www.WinesbyMark.com

Fawnridge Winery, 5560 Fawnridge Rd., Auburn CA  95602   www.FawnridgeWine.com

Lone Buffalo Vineyards, 7505 Wise Rd., Auburn CA  95603  www.LoneBuffaloVineyards.com

Mt. Vernon Winery, 10850 Mt Vernon Rd., Auburn  CA 95603   www.MtVernonWinery.com

Naggiar Vineyards, 18125 Rosemary Lane, Grass Valley CA 95949   www.NaggiarVineyards.com

Sierra Knolls Vineyard & Winery, 19635 Kingwood Ct., Grass Valley CA 95949   www.SierraKnollsWinery.com

Viña Castellano, 4590 Bell Rd., Auburn CA 95603   www.VinaCastellano.com

Sierra Vintners region map

Three of these wineries (Lone Buffalo, Mt. Vernon, Viña Castellano) have chapters about their origin, history and risks they took to be in the wine business in my book, Wineries of The Sierra Foothills.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

North Sierra Wine Trail features Artisan Producers in annual event April 23-24

"Our area was one of thebusiest regions during the California gold rush, and then long forgotten as gold mining regulation changed.  It was considered The Lost Sierra ... but is now open for rediscovery as the new gold standard in agritourism."  With that preface, the North Sierra Wine Trail ticket brochure welcomes exploration of this wonderful area.

This event features 12 wineries.  Tickets to taste at any and all wineries during the event (April 23-24) are $20 and can be purchased in advance at the Association's website (click here) or at any participating winery.

Recently, this blog featured an upcoming event in Butte County on April 30, and now wine adventurers have the opportunity to explore even further afield.

The book, Wineries of the Sierra Foothills, includes a chapter on Clos Saron winery in Oregon House.  That winery is open for visitors on April 23, the Saturday of the Wine Trail Weekend.  Other area wineries are open for both days.  Here's the map, so do explore!

1.  Purple Line Uban Winery, 760 Safford St., Oroville, CA 95965.  530-534-1785

2.  Long Creek Winery, 323 Ward Blvd, Oroville, CA  95966   530-589-3415

3.  Quilici Winery, 72 Quail Hill Place, Oroville, CA 95966    530-589-5088

4.  Grey Fox Vineyard, 90 Grey Fox Lane, Oroville, CA 95966   530-589-3920

5. Cobble Ridge Distillery, 555 Avacado Drive, Gangor, CA 95914   530-679-0679

6.  Hickman Family Vineyards, 77 Orange Ave, Bangor, CA 95914  530-679-0679

7.  Bangor Ranch Vineyard & Winery, 5768 La Porte Rd., Bangor, CA  95914   510-658-2056

8.  Spencer Shirey Wines, 6857 La Porte Road, Bangor, CA 95914   530-205-3579

9.  Clos Saron, 9269 Collins House Drive, Oregon House, CA 95962  530-692-1080

10.  Grant-Marie Winery, is located in Oregon House, but their wines are being poured at Yuba Harvest, located  13919 Lake Francis Rd., Dobbins, CA 95935   530-692-1084 is the phone to the winery, 530-418-8240 is the phone to Yuba Harvest store.

11.  Lucero Vineyards, 10654 Texas Hill Road, Dobbins, CA 95935    530-692-9214

12.  Renaissance Vineyard,12585 Rices Crossing Road, Oregon House, CA  95962  530-692-9510

You can read more about this wine region at the webiste of the North Sierra Foothills Vintners Association  www.northsierrawinetrail.com,   or call them at 530-6790679

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

BUTTE COUNTY rolls out the welcome for wine lovers April 30

The Splendor-in-the-Glass is one of many festivals that wineries in Butte County are creating to let people know about the up-and-coming-wine industry there.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Nevada Vines & Wines announces Home Winemaking Competition

I've followed the progress of the wine industry in Northern Nevada for a while now.  Its mentor has been Grant Cramer, Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at University of Nevada - Reno.  Cramer and a few outgoing and ambitious students started holding weekly tastings in a drafty quonset hut on campus, to begin with, several years ago.  Now the advocacy has taken off from there in the form of a great and lively organization: Nevada Vines and Wines.

Now a robust organization with the clout to lead lobbying efforts to change the restrictive laws for wineries in Washoe County (where Reno is located),  there are lots of great things going on.

Monthly club meetings are held on the third Thursday of the month at the Garden Shop Nursery on Mayberry DRive.  Those meetings include a wine tasting and talk, start at 5:30 and end when the Nevada wine advocates get tired of swapping stories and tips.   There are other events too -- winery tours (most recently Churchill Vineyards in Fallon, NV) , judging events, and a yearly Backyard Vineyard Tour.

Although not strictly a Sierra Foothills wine scene, the wineries here are affected by the weather patterns and terroir from the Carson Range.  Near Fallon, the terroir is similar to eastern Washington State, and experts from there were instrumental in helping Churchill Vineyards get going.

Nevada Vines and Wines is a volunteer non-profit organization.  Its mission is to promote the wine industry in the State of Nevada.  The vision of the organization includes educating and promoting the enjoyment of fine wine through educational and social meetings, and the occasional competition.

All it takes to qualify as a member is to be passionate about wine and winemaking.  Some members make wine, but the majority do not.  They are there to increase their wine knowledge and maybe, just maybe, learn enough about wine making to try it at home.   That's why the compeition that's coming up is so exciting.

I strongly suggest you get on their newsletter list, which you can do at the website:   http://www.nvandw.com/

Questions?  Email the organization at  uncorkingnevada (at) gmail.com

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Some insights on the book, and the author of WINERIES OF THE SIERRA FOOTHILLS

Antoinette May, mentor of many authors and a founder of the Gold Rush Writers yearly conference, wrote about many authors who are local, or writing about local topics.  The full article is here   This tidbit falls near the end of the article in the Sierra Lodestar, a publication of the Calaveras Enterprise...

"Lest you think that all the writing around here is fiction, there’s more. “Wineries of the Sierra Foothills” is a guidebook, both elegant and extensive. (Expect a lot more than sherry!)  Author Barbara Keck’s provocative subtitle is, “Risk-Takers and Rule-Breakers.”
“My academic background includes an MBA from Harvard Business School,” Keck said. “I look at the business world through the lens of risk and reward. There’s a joke in the wine industry: ‘How do you make a small fortune in the wine business?’ The answer is, ‘You start with a large fortune.’”
Each of Keck’s 21 informative and engrossing chapters looks at a different aspect of risk, be it financial, agricultural, product-oriented or marketing-related and all of them includes a signature recipe.
“But,” she said, “it wasn’t until I went to the Gold Rush Writers Conference last year that I got off my duff and made a lifelong dream come true – writing and publishing a book.”Keck has been a wine columnist for the past eight years. She said she loves wine, but she also loves good stories.
So does she have a favorite wine?
Smiling, she demurs, “That would have to be the wine that combines experience with a winery, admiration for a winemaker and something that is really yummy without killing my pocketbook. That’s what I encourage a wine drinker to look for. There are plenty of great wines in the Sierra foothills. And, in my estimation, wine drinkers should look no further.”

For more information on the book, go to the website:  www.WineriesOfTheSierraFoothills.com.    There is also an online store there from which you can purchase the book  ($19.95) and a preview of many pages from the book