My budding intrigue with wine remained closeted until one fateful night at an Italian restaurant in Frankfurt. I was dining with a dear friend and colleague. He’s about my age, but with Italian-Uruguayan heritage, he was more culturally savvy than I’d ever hoped to be, given what my Dayton, OH. upbringing had provided. Naturally, he took control and, to accompany our Italian meal, ordered an Italian wine. Without taking notice of what it was, I took a drink to get the evening going.
And that’s when it all started. Or, more accurately, stopped. All movement in the room seemed to cease as I savored the entirely new nuances dancing over my tongue. I no longer heard my friend or the waiter. Didn’t see the surrounding tables or menu in front of me. I was solely focused on the glass in my hand and the flavor in my mouth.
When I finally snapped out of my self-induced trance, with the seriousness of a surgeon, I inquired, “What did you just order?”
To which my friend replied, “Brunello di Montalcino. Is like liquid velvet, no?”
Damn right, and Voila! The light bulb above my head was shining brightly. As the taste still lingered in my mouth, I ordered another bottle. Even the name was seductive… Brunello di Montalcino. What did it mean? Where did it come from? I had to know more. This thing had grabbed me by the so-called palate and wouldn’t let go. At that point, I was fully seduced – or worse, hooked. Even as we left the restaurant, the thought was unshakeable. “Brunello di Montalcino.” There was no turning back.
Not long after that dinner, NBC News transferred me from Germany to Italy. Rome, Italy. I would be just a stone’s throw from the city of Montalcino, home to my beloved Brunello. But this proved to be both a blessing and a curse. Yes, Brunello di Montalcino would be much more accessible. Yet, the Italian shops and restaurants featured not just one Brunello, but 20 or 30 different Brunellos from a variety of producers and vineyard sites – offering many separate vintages for me to choose from. Making sense of it all was almost as maddening as deciphering that first German label had been.
Somehow, I mustered the courage to tackle the course, and with a glass in each hand I tasted my way through the many producers of Brunello. The legendary leader was Biondi Santi, whose winemaking roots could be traced back to the 1800s. And there were others, many others, of whom I would become a lifelong fan – like Ciacci, Il Poggione, Col d’Orcia, and Sassetti to name just a few. Being employed by a television news network has its perks. Occasionally, we’d take a well-deserved break from the hard news of the day to file ‘feature stories’ from scenic locations like… say, Montalcino. Visiting picturesque wineries was a photographic must for these assignments. Our Italian hosts would insist on educating and sampling us on the local grape. Persistence pays off, as well, and I was just beginning to learn one piece, the Brunello piece, of the much bigger puzzle.
(Editor’s Note: This story is broken into four parts, please return to this website on the same weekday next week for part three.)
Tim Ortman is an Emmy Award-winning cameraman and producer and author of the new book, Newsreal: A View Through the Lens When… He is a certified Sommelier and member of La Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin. Connect with him on Facebook, @TimOrtmanWriter.
Napa, CA – Paul Wagner, Founder of Balzac Communications & Marketing, noted author, wine radio show cohost (Bottle Talk with Rick & Paul), and Napa Valley College professor has been awarded the prestigious 2018 Award of Merit from the American Wine Society.
David Falchek, executive director of the American Wine Society (AWS) commented “Paul has been a great friend not only to our organization, but also to the wine industry. Working in the background as a marketing professional and an educator, Paul has influenced the way the public drinks wine and thinks about wine. His passion and work has aligned with the AWS mission to promote wine appreciation through education.”
“It’s really lovely that they have done this,” said Wagner, who will attend the organization’s national conference in November to accept the award.
“I have great respect for John Hames, who recently retired as the executive director of the AWS, and I am delighted that he is being honored with the Member of the Year Award at this same conference. And I have loved the many sessions at that national conferences that I have taught. The members are so appreciative and energized. I think I get more from them than they ever get from me.”
“Paul has been my mentor and has provided me with the insight and wisdom to lead Balzac for the next 25 years,” states Michael Wangbickler, President. “In my 14 years at Balzac, I’ve had the pleasure to learn, grow and mature under Paul’s tutelage and guidance – I couldn’t be more thankful and am so proud to learn of Paul winning this award.”
Wagner, who recently retired from running Balzac, continues to teach about wine – in Barcelona at the WinTour Wine Tourism MBA program in July and October, leading a wine cruise and tour through Bordeaux this spring, and teaching at Napa Valley College.
His schedule this year has included joining the U.S. tour of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, giving the keynote address at the Vancouver International Wine Festival, judging the California State Fair Wine Competition, and giving lectures at Fresno State University and for the Cambridge University Executive MBA program.
Wagner will teach the Wines of Germany class this spring at Napa Valley College, and in the fall, he will return to teach Wine Marketing and Sales and A Cultural Appreciation of Wine.
In addition, Wagner will publish two new books this year: “Artisan Public Relations” from Board and Bench Publishing, and “Wine Sales and Distribution” from Rowman and Littlefield. The latter was written with co-authors John Crotts of the College of Charleston, and Byron Marlowe of Washington State University. And the third edition of Wagner’s “Wine Marketing & Sales” will also be published this year by Board and Bench.
About American Wine Society – www.americanwinesociety.org
The American Wine Society (AWS) is a consumer organization that appreciates, celebrates, and shares knowledge about wine. With a membership base of over 8,000 people, they host local wine tastings in 180 chapters across the United States. This year, the AWS celebrates its 50th Anniversary and is the largest consumer-based wine education organization in North America. Membership is open to anyone aged 21 and over who is interested in learning about wine.
About Balzac Communications & Marketing – www.balzac.com
Founded in 1991, Balzac Communications & Marketing is a marketing communications agency with a no-nonsense approach to combining the strategies and tactics of marketing, public relations, event management, digital marketing, advertising, and creative services to assist the business goals of its clients. The experience, creativity, and determination of the staff distinguish Balzac from their competition. They use these assets to develop and execute cost-effective campaigns which have won international communications awards. The agency is in Napa, California, and provides services to companies and organizations throughout the world. www.balzac.com
Virtual Reality (VR) has long been viewed as a powerful marketing and engagement tool. The wine industry is also awakening to this fact, with multiple winery virtual reality solutions and studios on the market. Through case analysis, we’re going to break down 6 ways for wine makers and merchants to explore new business opportunities through VR.
- Creating multi-sensory experiences: Brancott Estate
Brancott Estate is a New Zealand-based winemaker with over 40 years history of crafting wines. Partnering with Found Studio, they created “The Red Shed”, an unprecedented tasting experience that brings their story to life by engaging all your senses. The experience later went on a worldwide tour of wine festivals to showcase BE’s service and products.
‘The Red Shed’ reconstructs a virtual set of Brancott Estate’s vineyard and wine cellar, as well as features a vivid experience of wine serving and tasting. You head movements would trigger different actions from the environment; they also installed custom devices to release scents of flourishing grapes and fruit being sliced, to prepare your nose and palate for an expert wine tasting afterwards.
- Making vineyard virtual tours: Flora Springs Winery, Napa Valley, CA, USA
Flora Springs is a family-owned and operated winery founded in Napa Valley in 1978, committed to producing sustainably farmed, estate-grown, handcrafted wines. Napa Valley is north of San Francisco, with more than 400 wineries in its wine region, whose Cabernet Sauvignon enjoys worldwide fame.
This video takes you on an exploration into Flora Springs’ premises, vineyards and cellars, with its current owner explaining the history of the winery. By VODE VR.
- Making wine cellar virtual tours: Le Chai au Quai, Castillon-la-Bataille, France
Le Chai au Quai is a French boutique winery boasting a large 19th century cellar on the banks of the Dordogne in Castillon, just a stone’s throw from the medieval town of Saint-Émilion. With no vineyards attached, the winery purchases grapes regularly of its own choice. This is also why it decided to show you around its historied cellar instead of a vineyard tour. By Liquid Productions.
- Producing wine tasting experiences: Vincent Gandia
Vicente Gandia is a Valencian wine producer and seller company founded in 1885, now managed by the 4th generation of the Gandia family. Its family-owned estate is located in Utiel, Spain. The cellar produces and sells wines from different appellations of Origin including Utiel-Requena, Valencia, Alicante, Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Rías Baixas, Rueda and cava (sparkling wine).
Bodegas Vicente Gandia is one of the top 15 cellars in Spain as well as one of the top 100 European wine companies according to Plimsoll ranking. By Oud Reuchlin & Boelen
- Demonstrating wine portfolio & recording press events: Inverarity Morton
Founded in 1945, Inverarity Morton is Scotland’s leading independent wines and spirits merchant.
Being the only SOPA-certified organic wine importer in Scotland, Inverarity Morton’s wine list features over 2,000 wines from around the world, many of which carried exclusively. By WBC (Watchtower Broadcasting Corporation)
- Recording wine festivals: Wine Festival, Landau in the Palatinate, Germany
Palatinate is a German wine-growing region in the area of Bad Dürkheim, Neustadt an der Weinstraße, and Landau in Rhineland-Palatinate. With 23,461 hectares (57,970 acres) under cultivation in 2008, the region is the second largest wine region in Germany after Rheinhessen. There are about 6,800 vintners producing around 6.5 million hectolitres of wine annually. By uSphere.
7. Die Bergkelder, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Built in 1968, Die Bergkelder (now Fleur du Cap) is one of the world’s most advanced underground cellars. It produced one of South Africa’s premier and best known wines – Fleur du Cap. It’s a member Distell group, the country’s top producer and marketer of fine wines and spirits.
The Fleur du Cap wines are made from grapes cherry picked from vineyards in the Cape Coastal region, which captures and reflects the highly sought-after varietal character and terroir.
Dedicated to making wine “the way Mother Nature intended”, winemakers Pieter Badenhorst and Elmarie Botes strive to make quality wines with minimal intervention in the cellar. By Chris du Plessis.
A New Destination for Wine Lovers in Downtown Newhall Includes Wines by the Bottle, Glass, Chef and Pastry Chef Pairings
Santa Clarita Valley, CA – Throughout 2017 Simon and Shannon Mee, owners of Newhall Refinery and the Egg Plantation, have been gathering feedback on their food, beer, cocktail and wine programs. There was only one area that they thought needed tweaking: creating a Wine List for Newhall Refinery that reflected the quality of what they stand for.
A few months ago, Guy Lelarge, formerly of Valencia Wine Company and with a long tenure as both a wine distributor and buyer, curated a new wine list for Newhall Refinery, replacing nearly every wine and adding a full third more. Wines from the best vineyards from Burgundy to the Rhone Valley in France, and from Sonoma to Napa Valley are standouts on the list, as well as fine representations from Germany, Argentina, Monterey and more.
The staff spent over two months learning about the new wines, the wine list will be in a dedicated folder, house wines will be rotated for a better selection and the dinner and dessert menus all now have suggested wine pairings. These are just some of the mouth-watering temptations now available:
Craft Burger: Havarti, bacon onion jam, arugula, confit garlic aioli, brioche, with fries or salad. Suggested wine pairing: Belleruche 2016–Cotes-Du-Rhone, France
Fish and Chips: beer battered cod, red cabbage slaw, garlic parsley fries, tartar sauce, malt vinegar, lemon. Suggested wine pairing: Vidal Fleury Viognier, France
Airline Chicken Breast: Mary’s organic chicken, crispy gratin potatoes, mushrooms, prunes, truffle purée, jus gras. Suggested wine pairing: Diora 2015 Pinot Noir, Monterey, CA
Apple Bourbon Cobbler: Granny Smith, Gala, bourbon raisins, oat crumble, bourbon sauce, brown butter ice cream. Suggested wine pairing: Orogeny Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County.
Blueberry Bread Pudding: sourdough, blueberries, orange zest, Grand Marnier crème anglaise. Suggested wine pairing: Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Reserve, Champagne, France.
Churros & Horchata: cinnamon sugar churros, dulce de leche caramel sauce, Horchata ice cream. Suggested wine pairing: Chateau Grand-Jauga Sauternes, Bordeaux, France.
The restaurant hopes that their loyal customers will seek out these new wines to try, and the servers are happy to share their own favorites for a taste to help! Some of Simon’s picks include 2014 Southing Sea Smoke Pinot Noir, 2015 Ten Sea Smoke Pinot Noir, 2014 Opus One and the 2013 Lewis Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.
For vinophiles interested in what the wine critic ratings are for some of the new wines: 2014 Redon Chateauneuf du Pape garnered 91pts from Wine Spectator, 2015 DAOU Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon received 91pts from Robert Parker, 2013 Flowers Chardonnay 91pts Wine Enthusiast, Louis Roederer Brut Premium Non Vintage 92pts Wine Spectator, 2014 Stag’s Leap Petite Sirah 91pts Robert Parker, 2016 Matua Sauvignon Blanc 90pts Wine Spectator. (This Sauvignon Blanc is on the Spectator top 100 wines of the year list!)
Newhall Refinery will continue their popular bi-monthly Wine Around the World dinners; the next one is French themed and scheduled for March 8. Also upcoming and always-sold-out is their annual Valentine’s Day Dinner with several options on reservations times.
24258 Main St. Newhall CA 91321
NEW YORK – Vinexpo New York – the leading international exhibition for wine and spirits professionals in North America, jointly organized with Diversified Communications – today announced that it has expanded the footprint of its March 5-6, 2018 exhibition, nearly doubling the original floorplan in order to accommodate demand. The event will be held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.
Open exclusively to the trade, Vinexpo New York, will feature two days of business meetings, tastings and conferences.
“In such a fast-evolving market, it’s the opportunity for the wine and spirits industry to meet and for producers to make strategic decisions for the distribution of their brands in the U.S.” said Guillaume Deglise, CEO of Vinexpo.
To date, exhibitors from Australia, Austria, France, South Africa, Spain and the U.S. have registered, as well as from Argentina, Chile, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Moldova, Russia, Sweden and Uruguay. The current list of exhibitors is available here.
“We are thrilled by the response to Vinexpo New York. It is shaping up to be the must-exhibit, must-attend conference,” said Mary Larkin, executive vice president, Diversified Communications. “With a growing list of more than 115 exhibitors representing 16 countries, it is a testament to just how vibrant the North American market continues to be.”
Attendee registration is currently open at www.vinexponewyork.com/attend/. An early bird fee is available through Nov. 30.
Vinexpo was established in 1981 to organize wine and spirits events for the trade and act as the sector’s international partner. Vinexpo Bordeaux takes place in uneven years, while Vinexpo Hong Kong (formerly Vinexpo Asia-Pacific) has been held in even years since 1998. In 2014, Vinexpo expanded into the Japanese market with the launch of a third biennial fair, Vinexpo Tokyo. Vinexpo Hong Kong and Vinexpo Tokyo are now key events in the Asian wine and spirits trade calendar. In January 2017, Vinexpo initiated a new concept, Vinexpo Explorer, two days of business meetings and discovering vineyards. Vinexpo New York, which takes place for the first time on March 5-6, 2018, will open doors to the U.S. market for international exhibitors. For more information, visit www.vinexpo.com. Join Vinexpo on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.
Sonoma, Calif.— Windee Smith and Chad Richards, proprietors of The Panel Wine Club, are pleased to announce the launch of Pop Culture, a wine club devoted exclusively to small-production, grower Champagne and artisanal sparkling wine from around the world. Members will receive three or six bottles every eight weeks or on a quarterly basis, each wine a rare and exciting discovery. The first shipments alone will include 2010 Pierre Gimonnet Special Club Brut Champagne and 2011 Vilmart Grand Cellier d’Or Premier Cru.
“The wines we select for Pop Culture are highly allocated and rarely appear anywhere other than on the lists of the most cutting-edge restaurants,” Richards says. “These are the insider choices that every wine lover wants to know about, and then, actually be able to get their hands on. We are able to help them do both.”
Smith and Richards came up with the idea for Pop Culture while doing their monthly tastings for The Panel Wine Club. More than any other category, Champagne and sparkling wines consistently offered tremendous pleasure at every price point. “It was a simple decision to create a wine club to make it easier for people to get the best bubbles in the world,” Richards says. “Over the next year, we’ll feature sparking wine from Italy, Austria, Tasmania, California, Germany, the UK, Champagne, the Loire—anywhere we find extraordinary bubbles.”
During the past decade, the production of boutique bubbles has come into its own. The movement was sparked by the rise of grower-producer “farmer fizz” in Champagne. The more recent popularity of pét-nat (pétillant-naturel) among natural-wine makers gave it a boost, and so did a growing appreciation among wine drinkers, who finally realized that sparkling wine can be an everyday pleasure.
“There is an ocean of sparkling wine in the world right now, and really, that’s too much of a good thing for consumers,” says Smith, who has spent her career in wine retail and restaurants. “Finding the gems from each country would be a 24/7 pursuit. Now Pop Culture will do that for you.”
Pop Culture offers two memberships: La Bonne Vie, for Champagne only, and Rising Bubbles, for a global selection of sparkling wine, including Champagne. Members of either club will receive shipments of three different bottles every other month, or on a quarterly basis if they prefer. They may also opt to receive two bottles of each selection, for a total of six bottles every other month or quarterly.
La Bonne Vie’s first shipment—available now through Oct. 31—starts off with a bang. The three selections represent some of the coveted small-production wines in the Champagne region: 2010 Pierre Gimonnet Special Club Brut, 2011 Vilmart Grand Cellier d’Or Premier Cru Brut, and the non-vintage Platine Premier Cru Brut from the ninth-generation Champagne vigneron Nicolas Maillart
While future Rising Bubbles shipments will contain global selections, the first will offer a broader picture of France’s leading producers: Loire winemaker Marc Plouzeau’s Perle Sauvage Pét-Nat, the luxurious Jacquesson Cuvée 740 Champagne, and Platine, the Premier Cru Brut Champagne from Nicolas Maillart.
Every selection will be accompanied by information on the winemaker, the region, and the wine itself. And each new member’s first shipment will include a custom binder to hold this background information and tasting notes for future reference.
The Pop Culture website, http://www.clubpopculture.com, makes it easy to sign up as a member or to arrange an extraordinary gift for a lucky client, colleague, or friend. Pricing for membership in La Bonne Vie begins at $229 per shipment, and for Rising Bubbles, $139 per shipment. Just a few clicks will guarantee a fresh flow of great sparkling wine delivered direct to your door.
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Pop Culture is part of The Panel Wine Club, a Sonoma-based club dedicated to distinctive, artisanally produced wine. Windee Smith and Chad Richards use their experience and contacts to source hard-to-find wines from around the world. Each one is tasted blind by an ever-changing panel of wine experts, who make the final selection of the three bottles offered to club members each month.
Retail Manager Jeremy Bohrer and Private Cellar Manager Ned Creed Curate the Outliers Wine Club, Daily Drinkers Club, Santa Barbara County Club, Les Marchands Club, and the Grand Cru Club
As Santa Barbara’s premier wine merchant, Les Marchands offers a complete wine experience that includes wine pairing knowledge, dining, extensive retail selections for fulfilling personal and business gift lists, sommelier-selected wines for entertaining, exceptional wine education classes, special events and now – an expanded level of wine club membership options. This fall, Jeremy Bohrer and Ned Creed curate five Les Marchands Wine Clubs: Outliers Wine Club; Daily Drinkers Club; Santa Barbara County (SBC) Club; Les Marchands Club; and Grand Cru Club. Each club is meticulously created to introduce novel wine experiences to clients, designed to enhance personal enjoyment, education, entertaining, holiday gift-giving and beyond.
As a bonus thank-you to club members, Les Marchands kicks off their monthly allocations with a Wine Pick-Up Party. Wine club members can opt to have their allotments shipped or can stop by Les Marchands each month to share a complimentary tasting with the team. Les Marchands Wine Pick-Up Parties are scheduled towards the end of the month.
OUTLIERS WINE CLUB:
The new Outliers Club is an unusual and amazingly tasty selection. Les Marchands’ Retail Wine Manager, Jeremy Bohrer, is known for crafting a wine list featuring boundary-pushing wines from “new” Old World regions like Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Lebanon and Georgia. This limited membership allows for an eclectic, interesting, funky wine experience such as a Georgian red that spent eight years in a clay pot (qvevri) buried in the ground, or a Slovenian white that spent six months on its skins. The Outliers Club explores all 72 of the world’s wine producing countries, not just the handful of countries that most often get top billing. The Outliers Club is for those who want to push themselves and their taste buds beyond the norm.
- Membership is Limited. Pricing is $39-$59 per month (Includes 2 bottles of red, white, rosé, orange, or sparkling – no substitutions). Shipments and billing will continue monthly until subscriber cancellation.
DAILY DRINKERS CLUB:
This is the club for those who drink wine daily without a sacrifice to quality. Les Marchands has the knowledge to provide club members with qualified producers making top caliber wines representing a range of regions, varieties, and vintages – all with value in mind. Wine selections are sourced from local Santa Barbara producers, across the pond or the southern hemisphere. This club exercises blatant and intentional discrimination based on quality and drinkability.
- Pricing is $49 per month (Includes 2 – 3 bottles of red, white, rosé or sparkling – no substitutions). Shipments and billing will continue monthly until subscriber cancellation.
SANTA BARBARA COUNTY (SBC) CLUB:
Santa Barbara County has the raw potential to sit right alongside the top winegrowing regions in the world. SBC Club highlights these producers who make that potential a reality. Santa Barbara County’s cool coastal influences to the west and warmer plots with expansive diurnal temperature variations in the east provide an extensive canvas for numerous varieties, resulting in wine experts claims of Santa Barbara County as the wine region that will gain the most global prominence over the next ten years. The SBC Wine Club is a mix of hard-to-find gems, recognizable names, and highly discoverable young producers. The same consideration is given to a multitude of grapes, regardless of color, thickness of skin, or regional claim within Santa Barbara County.
- Pricing is $79 per month (Includes 2 – 3 bottles of red, white or rosé – no substitutions). Shipments and billing will continue monthly until subscriber cancellation.
LES MARCHANDS CLUB:
Les Marchands Club is a personal club of favorites curated by our staff. They select three wines of the season from around the globe that show a traditional representation of the varietal from the region. Expect a French-focused fetish to help learn a great deal about the classic regions. Also showcased are established producers and under-the-radar vintners from Italy, Austria, Germany, Spain and Santa Barbara County, in addition to wines from discerning producers in more obscure locations. The Les Marchands Wine Club is aimed towards classic and/or traditional vignerons, long-standing family histories, a mindset of natural production and hands-off winemaking practices.
- Pricing is $99 per month (Includes 3 bottles of red, white, rosé or sparkling – no substitutions). Shipments and billing will continue monthly until subscriber cancellation.
GRAND CRU CLUB:
Les Marchands takes the guesswork out of Burgundy. For those bitten by the Burgundy bug, the team explores this blessed rabbit hole, and as those who have gone before can attest, few descents are more thrilling. The Les Marchands network of importers eliminate the challenge of finding producers with history and exceptional pedigree.
- Pricing is $249 per month (Includes 2 – 3 bottles of Chardonnay and/or Pinot Noir – no substitutions). Shipments and billing will continue monthly until subscriber cancellation.
ABOUT ALL CLUBS:
- Each delivery includes wine descriptions, tasting notes, food pairing suggestions and producer highlights.
- Club payment is applied monthly; applicable tax and shipping charges apply.
- Shipments commence on or around the 3rd Monday of each month or schedule pick-up at Les Marchands.
- Membership also includes a monthly Wine Pick-Up Party.
Pick-Up Parties are scheduled towards the end of every month; wine club orders are also available for monthly shipment.
Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant
131 Anacapa Street, Ste. B, Santa Barbara, California 93101
At the Corner of Yanonali and Anacapa
About Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant
Awarded the “Wine Bar of the Year” by Imbibe, and one of the 21 Best Wine Bars in the country by Thrillist, Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant is led by a world-class team of certified sommeliers and wine professionals with more than 100 combined years of experience in the wine and hospitality industries. Hailing from some of the most prestigious restaurants and wine retailers from around the country, the Les Marchands team enthusiastically brings their love for and deep knowledge of wine to confidently guide each guest through an outstanding wine experience matching every palate and budget with wines to enjoy in the wine bar or to take home. Product knowledge and personalized service is lived out daily at Les Marchands and is incorporated into every phase of the business from private cellar consultation to custom tasting events to the wildly popular Les Marchands Wine Club. The wines curated by the sommeliers represent quality-conscious producers – imports are Eurocentric, from the most relevant producers in France, Italy, Austria, Germany, and beyond. On the domestic side, the focus relies heavily on local Santa Barbara County producers who are shaping and redefining the region. A full bar of handcrafted artisan spirits complements Les Marchands’ extensive wine program with classic stirred cocktails made in the old-school traditional way. These include such favorites as The Vesper, Hanky Panky or the Bijou just to name a few. Chef Weston’s bistro menu showcases seasonally inspired food for supper nightly from 5 pm, weekend brunch from 11am-3 pm and an extensive selection of cheese and charcuterie every afternoon from 3 pm-5 pm.
About Jeremy Bohrer
Jeremy Bohrer is a veteran wine and spirits professional with over seventeen years working the vast wine world, including wholesale, retail, restaurant and production endeavors. His early experience as a wine rep for Constantine Wines led him to California in 2000. He worked as a manager at Bacchus, a small family owned wine shop in Manhattan Beach and was a manager at Trader Joe’s where Bohrer was in charge of overseeing the wine sections of multiple locations and developed “Wine 101,” a course that was used to train company employees throughout California. His other roles include eight years with K&L Wine Merchants as the Burgundy Department liaison. By 2014, Bohrer opened own small business, Still, – a retail space devoted to the art of cocktail craftsmanship. Still sold all things cocktail related, from mixers and bitters to shakers and vintage barware. The following year Bohrer also opened his own wine bar, Five & ¼ which focused solely on Old World wines from France, Spain, Italy and more unfamiliar regions like Croatia, Slovenia, Georgia and Hungary. As Retail Wine Manager for Les Marchands, Jeremy Bohrer brings his wealth of knowledge and passion for all things wine to the operation.
About Ned Creed
A Marin County native, Ned grew up a stone’s throw from wine country, providing him exposure to numerous producers at an early age. He embarked on a professional career with Benchmark Wine Group in 2005, focusing on import logistics, sourcing wines throughout Europe, private collection appraisals and acquisitions. Over the course of eight years, Benchmark grew from five employees to a global operation, handling cellars for a preferred core of rare wine collectors. Ned’s business travels include the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan and numerous cities throughout the United States. Moving to Les Marchands in January 2013 brought Ned a welcome shift – reconnecting with producers in the most prominent wine regions and providing personal attention to individuals as they manage their private collections.
For further information on Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant visit:
Become a fan of Les Marchands on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LesMarchandssb/
Follow Les Marchands on Twitter: @lesmarchandssb
To keep myself busy while caring for my injured-yet-again spouse, satisfied more by angry single malt Scotch than the doctor prescribed Vicodin, I called Tanya Green, the new owner of Wine 661 to find out what new things they are offering the SCV wine drinking public, myself copiously included.
Okay Tanya, I have been to this location before, when it was Wine Savor and now as Wine 661. Jeff Jacobson, chair of the SCV Wine Classic, suggested that I talk to you as he holds you in high regard as the new owner. Want to tell West Ranch Beacon readers what your wine story is?
My “wine story” is pretty simple…I love wine so I bought a wine bar, but my passion for wine began by going tasting. I love listening to the experts explain how the grapes were grown and fermented; why I’ll taste certain things because of the composition of the soil, that fruit grown on mountain tops develops thicker skins because of its proximity to the sun and therefore has more character than thin-skinned grapes.
I also have a strange fascination/respect for grapes that are difficult to grow, so those are the wines I’m most interested in. Everything about wine fascinates me from the farming of the grapes to the finished product, which makes owning a wine bar, like being a kid in a candy shop! I love it!
I understand you are serving beers as well as wine; what are some of your customer’s favorites from both?
To me, it was important to be able to carry something other than wine just in case a “beer guy” was dragged in by his wife. That’s why I spent months tasting beer from all over the world to put together, what I think, is the best beer list in town.
I carry rare, hard-to-get beers and artisan ales from Belgium, France, Germany, Austria, Oregon, Santa Barbara and Maine. Each of my beers has won some sort of award from “Best Hefeweizen” to “Best Beer in the World.”
Schonramer Gold, for example, is a German Pilsner that won “Best Beer in the World” for 13 straight years and had to be removed from the contest to allow another beer the opportunity to win. I’m proud to carry a beer that good, and, I personally have grown to love beer as much, if not more, than wine.
My personal favorite is a cork-finished 750ml bottle of Belgian Farmhouse Ale called Saison Dupont. It’s gold and hoppy and has lots of personality. I pride myself on carrying beers that no one else carries and in most cases, beers that no one’s even heard of.
This may be off-putting to Coors Light lovers but I don’t mind. I want adventurous drinkers in here. Those that know what they like but can get excited to try something new. Nothing excites me more than transforming a Coors Light drinker into a beer snob!
What’s new now that you’ve taken over?
Wine 661 was a great spot long before I took it over. The ambience is comfortable and cozy and in my opinion, the best in the Valley, but I can’t take credit for that.
What I can take credit for, is a great appetizer list; including some amazing gourmet cheeses from all over the world (my fave is the five-year aged Gouda and the Spanish Blue cheese) as well as artisanal meats from near and far.
I’ve also changed the beer and wine lists and am proud of both. I promise to always rotate my beer and wine inventory so that my regulars never get bored and to carry both inexpensive as well as high-end beer and wines.
Tell readers what’s on your menu and any specials:
The most popular items on my menu are my cheese and chocolate flights. For the “Cheese Flight,” I’ve paired three red wines with gourmet cheeses that compliment them. Cave-aged blue cheese is paired with a phenomenal Merlot. The semi-hard, Manchego from Spain is paired with a complex and delicious Tempranillo and finally a 5 year aged Gouda is paired with a California Zinfandel. The “Chocolate Flight” is the same idea; three reds paired with three different E.Guittard chocolates with different cocoa contents. I think of it as delicious and fun.
Your employee Kirsten is a delight. She poured us some very different water to go with our wine, what’s that about?
The water at Wine 661 has taken on a life of its own. I’ve always loved spa water infused with various fruits (the combinations are endless) so I take filtered tap water and infuse it with cucumber and lemon. It’s refreshing and different and people freak out over it. I serve it chilled in a frosted 750 ml wine bottle over ice. I recently had a customer visit a resort in Hawaii where similar water was served by the pool. When she tried theirs, she told the pool-side waitress that ‘while it was good, it wasn’t as good as the water at Wine 661.’
Tell us what your customers can expect as far as service?
I don’t think anyone can possibly care about their guests as much as the owner so I try to be here six days per week to ensure that everyone who walks through the door has a good experience. I like to have a good time and not take myself too seriously, and I think the service here reflects that. We’re pretty down to earth so people will always feel comfortable and at ease. We get to know our guests and over time we become like family with many of our regulars. I try to remember everyone’s name although I usually find it easier to remember their wine preference. The service here is personal and nowhere near stuffy. There is a certain sophistication that comes with serving and selling wine but this is a casual environment meant for a having a great time and good laugh!
Well, now that now that your palate is whetted by the wine, beer and water at Wine 661, in the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Now…go!
Paso Robles, Calif. (PRWEB) – Michael Gill Cellars has announced a number of wine awards for 2017, including Best of Varietal and Best of Class for both their 2016 vermentino and 2016 viognier. These same wines were also awarded gold medals along with the best of varietal and class at the Jerry Mead’s New World International Wine Competition (NWICW) held in late February in Ontario, CA.
Along with the awards from the NWICW, Michael Gill Cellars 2014 syrah was awarded a gold at the 2017 Berlin International Wine Competition (BIWC) and five golds and one double gold for 2016 vermentino at the 2017 Florida State Fair Wine and Grape Grower’s Competition. The BIWC was held in March in Berlin, Germany. The Florida State Fair competition was also held earlier this year. Michael Gill Cellars was also named the “Best Paso Robles Winery” at the Berlin competition.
“I have received 17 Best of Class awards since I started entering wine competitions in mid-2013,” said owner and founder Michael Gill. “All of my wines have won gold medals and I just learned from a wine judge that only two wineries in the state can make that claim.” Gill has entered more wines in four more competitions for 2017, but the results from those competitions have not yet been announced.
Located in the hills of California’s Central Coast, Michael Gill Cellars is Paso Robles’ premier vineyard and tasting room. As a vintner, Gill is known for his ability to naturally cultivate luxurious wines unmatched in quality. “We work to keep our quality high,” said Gill. “It is about quality, not quantity.” Michael Gill Cellars tasting room, inspired by the history and beauty of illustrious French hunting lodges, is open to the public on weekends during season or any time by appointment. The $10 tasting fee is waived with bottle purchase and 10 percent discount is applied to any case purchase. The winery also offers periodic pairing dinners.
The wine club offers three shipments each year at a special member’s discount of 20 percent off the regular wine price. Some limited vintages are only available to wine club members.
Gill has owned the land since 1977 and planted syrah as his first grapes in 1998. Since planting those first vines, Gill has focused on nurturing the best from the vines and grapes. “We let the grapes talk to us. We do what the vines tell us to do to make them perform the best. We’re not trying to mass produce everything, get on a treadmill, and be married to budget and expectations. If one grape takes extra care, it gets extra care. We make the time,“ said Gill.
Michael Gill Cellars
4125 Peachy Canyon Road Paso Robles, CA 93446