Alara Cellars: Wine Meets Fashion
10 Reasons To Drink Tokaji
The Bitters Truth

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.

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

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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

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

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.

Women of the Vine Global Symposium: A Gathering in Napa Valley

Deborah Brenner is a connector. She wrote the book “Women of the Vine” in 2006 about women’s roles the wine industry, and ever since, she’s been bringing women together to further their careers in the wine world.

“The theme of the book was about breaking the glass ceiling in the wine industry,” says Brenner, who left a job as a marketing executive to pursue a passion for wine. She wrote about the inspiring women she traveling through wine country, a who’s who of winemakers including Gina Gallo, Heidi Peterson Barrett and Merry Edwards. They all shared the stories behind their own labels and the trials encountered on their way to the top.

Discovering The Essence of Wine

lychee horizontalWhen you put your nose in a glass, you may love what you smell, but how often are you at a loss to describe that essence, that bouquet?

Ah, the mystery of our sense of smell. It is powerful and we can’t really control it. When we smell something, our response is direct and primal. Sniff something and the response is immediate because the sensation goes directly to our limbic system, the part of the brain connected to memory and emotions. If you’ve ever had the experience of smelling something that immediately takes you back to your grandmother’s kitchen, an old lover or a long forgotten destination, this is why. But our language function operates in a different part of our brain and that’s why we are sometimes at a loss for words to express what we are smelling.

The Bitters Truth

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A jigger of rye, a pour of coffee liqueur — Stephen Shelton mixes it up at Los Gatos’ Lexington House, concocting a smoky libation called Cocktails & Cigarettes. He stirs, he pours and then, with a flourish, Shelton adds that final explosive touch, a few dashes of Workhorse Rye’s Coffee Rye bitters.

In today’s cocktail world, bitters are the “it” ingredient. It’s a trend so hot, craft bitters are even called out by name on cocktail menus.

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