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Who won this year’s Central Coast Wine Competition?

The white and rosé wines ready for tasting in the sweepstakes round.

Eighteen judges swirled, sniffed, sip and spit 708 wines to find the best of the best in the 2018 Central Coast Wine Competition. The judges have spoken, and Alara Cellars 2017 Grenache Blanc from California’s Santa Clara Valley took Best of Show top honors, along with Best in Class in the Grenache Blanc category and overall Best White Wine.

Celebrate: Gilroy’s Sarah’s Vineyard turns 40

Perhaps you’ve heard of, or have even tried, the wines from Sarah’s Vineyard, a boutique winery in California’s Santa Clara Valley. If not, you are missing out IMHO. These wines, made in Silicon Valley – once referred to as the Valley of the Heart’s Delight because of the many fruit orchards and vineyards, and the birthplace of California’s commercial wine industry – are totally worth seeking out.

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

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