Too Much Wine Too Little Time

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Alba Vineyards Summerfest Fireworks

Alba Vineyards hosts their 12th annual Summer Fest fireworks, sponsored by PNC Bank the event will have activities for one and all. There will be children’s events, music starting at 5:00pm provided by Cairo, “a great party band, mixing elements of reggae, soul, jazz and rock into upbeat tunes”, and of course wine tasting at $5.00 per person. A grand fireworks display by Garden State fireworks, three time world champion pyrotechnic artists will cap the day.
Free parking with admission $15.00 for adults, $10 for children 6 to 12, and free for children 5 and under. No advance ticket sales so make sure to come early. VIP tents for 25 people are available, call or email early for tent reservation. Visit www.albavineyard.com or call 908-995-7800 for more information.
Alba Vineyard & Winery
269 Route 627
Village of Finesville
Milford NJ 08848
HOURS
Sunday – Friday: 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Saturday: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM

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Freemark Abbey Petite Sirah 2003

In light of my upcoming week in Napa Valley that will begin on Friday July 3, I have opened a little taste of what reminds me of a good neighbor. I’ll elaborate on the neighbor part by saying Freemark Abbey Winery is within walking distance of the Wine Country Inn where we stay each year, so they are indeed a good neighbor to me while I spend time in the Valley. A few years back on the July 4th weekend, we attended the Red, White and Blues festival in the courtyard of Freemark Abbey. We had a fantastic time sampling the wines, listening to the blues band that was playing and enjoying the food that was served from another neighbor close by, the Silverado Brew Pub. While we won’t be attending any parties this year, we will be visiting Freemark Abbey for a tasting of their latest vintages and although I’m sure it goes without saying, to purchase some wine too. So in honor of the trip I have opened a 2003 Freemark Petite Sirah…WOW! I had forgotten the boldness of this wine. While this is a 2003 and has been decanting for over an hour now, it still packs one heck of a punch. Lots of ripe blackberry flavors with abundant amounts of black pepper and in my opinion still very high in tannins. You know the feel of cotton on your tongue! Anyway, back to the wine… I love it. I think it still could have used a little more cellaring to mellow it out a bit, but not too much more. This is a very limited production Petite Sirah from their Rutherford vineyards that is aged in both American and French oak barrels. I highly doubt you will find this limited production Petite Sirah as I believe it is a winery only selection. I have though noticed other Freemark selections at my local wine shops. I look forward to visiting Freemark Abbey and purchasing more wine for my cellar, and if you visit the valley I recommend a stop at Freemark!

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Off to Napa in Three Days

The beginning of the 2009 Napa trip is just three short days away. Three days that will probably seem to take forever to go by, but Friday at 7:00AM will be here before we know it. Most of our plans are made with some exciting stops awaiting our arrival. We will leave behind a month of lousy weather here in New Jersey and if the Napa Valley’s long range forecast holds true we will see some fantastic weather. Do you think I am excited? I begin looking forward to our annual trip each year starting the day after I return home from the last visit. With the economy in bad shape we almost cancelled this year’s trip which would have really been quite depressing. Instead we decided to go for it and do it up right just in case next year is not possible. Thus I can tell you we will enjoy ourselves and alot of good wine will be shipped home! I am looking forward to reporting live daily from the Valley, so check in for details on our stops.

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Wine At the Ball Park

They serve wine, even good stuff, at the new fancy baseball stadiums! What’s that about? I visited Citi Field, new home of the New York Mets. They have a climate controlled Wine Cellar in the Sterling Club, which is behind the seats the home plate seats. Sorry, wine doesn’t belong at the ball park, get rid of it! Dump it! They are ruining the spirit of enjoying a good ball game. Some people always take things too far!

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Jug Wine

Before California was world renowned for wine on par with the best in the world, it was known for “jug” wine. Called “jug” because it came in gallon bottle with a handle on it. Today, we call it “box” wine. California is still the world’s largest producer of “box” wine. It is what it is, known for its consistency from year to year batch to batch; it’s a testament to the production ingenuity of the big California producers. It was the forbearer of our wonderful California wines we enjoy today, the finest coming from Napa and Sonoma, representing only 2 to 4% of the total California production. Next time someone brings a box wine to put in your wine cellar, don’t laugh too hard. It’s the hard working grandparent that paid the freight for the other stuff that sits in the racks!

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How to Handle Napa the Valley of the Gods

OK, quick lesson from the “beer guy” on wine. Pace yourself when on a pilgrimage to the valley of the gods. That itinerary might have seemed a bit rough and leave a dent in your next day. Not really. Pace Pace Pace is the trick. First and foremost, take in three times the amount of water then wine. Don’t drink all the wine. Face it; it’s all not that good. If you even think you don’t like it, don’t drink it. That’s what that silver bucket on the table is for, us it! You are just tasting it, not drinking it after all. When you pick up that picnic lunch, pack lots of bread! Have some in between every tasting. During the picnic lunch, don’t drink a bottle of wine; there is plenty of wine to drink. Just enjoy the miniscule buzz you might have from the earlier tastings. OK, you are back at the Inn. Alright, maybe you can start opening it up a bit. If, and only if, the complementary wine pour is good, enjoy it. Again, lots of water. Enjoy your meal, pacing the wine as the courses unfold, with lots of water, you’ll be fine the next day to enjoy it again and make new discoveries.

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A Typical day in Napa

Let me lay out a typical itinerary for a day in the valley of the gods. Up at 7AM, big breakfast. Out the door at 8AM. Stop by Dean & Deluca or the Sunshine Market. Pack a cooler full of great picnic lunch. First tasting 9AM. YES! 9AM! Silver Oak is open weekdays at 9AM, along with a few others, call it a warm up. Next, it’s up one of the mountains, Howell, Spring, Diamond. Start at the top and work your way down. Make an appointment at one and ask them to refer you to someone else on the way down. Pick the best views to enjoy your picnic lunch. 3 or 4 tastings later, you are on the valley floor again. If you have it in you, stop at another on the way back to your B&B. Back to the B&B in time for late afternoon appetizers and invited winery pouring complementary for the Inn. Well, next get to your dinner reservation at Martini House by 7:30. Bring one bottle, buy one bottle, and finish it off with a little port or dessert wine. B&B shuttle ride back to the Inn, a night cap to finish the night.

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Annual Napa Valley Pilgrimage

OK, so it’s been a while since I blogged. I can’t wait any longer. The annual pilgrimage to Napa Valley is coming up in a week. Some people face east when they pray, well . . . we face west. I guess it just depends where you come from. As long as you are facing in some direction where you hope good things will come from, I guess it’s all good.
This year’s pilgrimage will include some of the oldies but goodies. We’ll also leave enough open time to just wing it. That’s how you develop oldie but goodies. I think I want to go to Duckhorn. I love those little ducks on their label, and I have developed an appreciation for their classic Duckhorn Merlot. Damn, that’s an expensive merlot, but it’s very good. I wonder what they might have in their tasting room that I haven’t had before. Last time, I was too buzzed or too early in the morning to get much out of it. I can’t seem to remember. I’ll go back and revisit.

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More Napa Trip Updates

In nine more days we are off to Napa, do you think I am excited? We have some great plans in place and time left over for some random stops. The Shramsburg visit is out as the tour price is just too much for our taste. With the economy as bad as it is, I would rather spend my money on some good wine. We will be returning to Elizabeth Spencer for a visit to their new patio tasting area. A new stop for us this year will be Round Pond Vineyard which has a very highly rated Cabernet, along with a Sauvignon Blanc and other varietals as well as olive oil. We will of course be revisiting quite a few places we have been to on past trips not for tours, but to purchase wine for shipping home. We also hope to uncover some new great places as we have in the past. A lot of time those random stops are the best. Let’s face it there are so many tasting rooms in the valley and in my opinion there aren’t a lot of bad wines out there, so I anticipate some new favorites.

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2009 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend

The 2009 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is scheduled for Labor Day weekend, September 4th-6th. Three full days of some of the best food and wine wine country has to offer. Two hundred wineries and chefs will attend making this an unforgettable experience. Complete with winemaker lunches and dinners and new specialty dinners. The 30th annual showcase Taste of Sonoma on Saturday from 11:00-4:00pm, and finishing with the 17th annual Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction on Sunday September 6th. Plan a visit to wine country and enjoy the best of wine country.
Tickets are available now at sonomawinecountryweekend.com or call
800-939-7666.