Drink, eat and sleep around Healdsburg’s square
Many ways to love Chenin Blanc
Alara Cellars: Wine Meets Fashion

Drink, eat and sleep around Healdsburg’s square

(Photo courtesy of the Healdsburg Chamber)

Ever since multiple wildfires raged through bucolic wine country and neighborhoods in Sonoma County and Napa Valley, one message is clear. The region is resilient, rebuilding and open for business. Some of that business — namely tourism, through hotels, restaurants, and wineries — was very slow to come back in the weeks and months afterwards. January and February are traditionally slow and quiet months, but now that spring is in the air, folks are finding their way back to all that wine country has to offer.

Many ways to love Chenin Blanc

Fresh and invigorating, slightly sweet or honied, but always perfumey, Chenin Blanc is one of the world’s most versatile wines.

I’ve always been partial to this grape that calls France’s Loire Valley its spiritual home. Thanks to a tasting hosted by Val de Loire Millesime at the impressive Chateau Royal in Blois, France, overlooking the Loire River, I’ve discovered many ways to love Chenin Blanc.

Alara Cellars: Wine Meets Fashion

We pair wine with food, music and holidays, so why not fashion?

I was super excited when I first learned about this new fashionable wine project a couple years ago. Now, Alara Cellars has made its debut.

Janu Goelz in her Alara Cellars tasting room at Gilroy’s Stomping Ground.

Winemaker Janu Goelz loves wine, and she loves fashion just as much. For her, blending them is a natural. Goelz is co-owner and co-winemaker Jason-Stephens Winery with her husband Jason. Together, with Tim Slater of Sarah’s Vineyard, they created The Stomping Ground in Gilroy, home to about half a dozen local boutique wineries.

The craft winery venue was perfect launching pad for Goelz’s own label, Alara Cellars. Her eyecatching labels are original illustrations, the work of Vancouver-based fashion designer and illustrator Malene Grotrian

What I’m Drinking: Lexington Wine Co. Bordeaux wines

This time I’m drinking two wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Lexington Wine Co. is a new label created by Thomas Fogarty Vineyards owner Tom Fogarty, Jr. and winemaker Nathan Kandler. They wanted to focus this project on Bordeaux varietals, distinct from the pinot noirs and chardonnays they make at Fogarty. For Lexington, the sole vineyard source is the Gist Ranch Estate, perched up high, at 2,400 feet.

10 Reasons To Drink Tokaji

photo 39

Tokaji has an identity crisis.  You may have never heard about wines from this area of eastern Hungary.  They are white wines and mostly all are sweet.  And sweet wines are  hard sell.  Yet the Tokaji wines remain fresh, with bright acidity — even after years of aging.  No cloying, overly sweet wines here.  This makes Tokaji highly drinkable – and not just for dessert.  Therein lies Tokaji’s issue.  While it is a perfect after dinner drink, the wine, thanks to the crisp acid, pairs beautifully with all sorts of dishes, and not just creme brûlée or chocolate.

Hungary’s Tokaji: The Oldest of the Old World Wine

Furmint vineyards at Disznókó winery in Tokaji.
Furmint vineyards at Disznoko winery in Tokaji.

In the wine world we talk about the old world and the new world.  The old world is basically Europe – France, Germany, Italy, Spain, etc.  The new world is just about everywhere else – The US, Australia, South America, South Africa. 

I am standing in the oldest of the old world.  My travels have brought me to Tokaji, Hungary, a two and a half hour drive east of Budapest. You may not realize wine is made in Hungary.  You may be surprised to learn that the area called Tokaji is the oldest delimited, or defined, wine region in the world, established by royal degree in 1737.  The most famous wine here is the sweet wine known as Tokaji.  It is called “the king of wine and wine of kings.”  This golden to amber nectar has a long storied history, going back to the Middle Ages. Royal fans included French kings Louis XIV, Louis XV, Madame de Pompadour and Russia’s emperor Peter the Great.

The Uncookbook Cookbook: The New Napa Cuisine

Lena Creel
Lena Creel

Every once in a while a cookbook comes along that disrupts the conventional wisdom of what a cookbook should be.  That’s clearly the case with The New Napa Cuisine by Christopher Kostow, executive chef at The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa Valley.  This is the first book by the three Michelin-starred chef and it’s more an essay on his personal journey as a chef since taking over the reins at Meadowood in February 2008 than it is a collection of recipes from The Restaurant’s menu.

Navigate