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Mar 18

RIP Fess Parker

I was sad to hear today about the passing of Fess Parker.

As many of you know, last weekend I poured wine for Epiphany and Fortress, wines that are part of the Fess Parker family of wines, and I got to spend time with Kate Snider, a member of Fess’s extended family. Back in the fall, I had the chance to meet Eli, Fess’s son, at a Dilly Cafe wine dinner. And of course, the Disney-phile in me always thinks of the roles Fess played – Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone.

Fess Parker bought the original winery land in the Sanya Ynez Valley, and in 1989, he and Eli hoped to plant a small vineyard to sell fruit. That small dream eventually became a much larger one, and the Fess Parker Winery now produces over 130,000 cases on their extensive acreage. Additionally, Fess Parker winery has a visitor center and tasting room  along the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail. You can see the Fess Parker winery in Sideways, and even pick up a coonskin cap if you stop by.

Fess Parker makes some great wines. In particular, we’ve got two bottles of the Clone 115 Pinot Noir just waiting for us to pick up at the Dilly Cafe.

Fess Parker was 85 and died at home of natural causes.

For more on Fess Parker wines, see the guest post from the Hoperatives from July: When You Wish Upon A Grape: Disney-Related Wines.

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Posted by Michelle at 7:22 pm in RIP | Permalink | Comments (1)
Dec 29

A Fond Farewell: Wine C.A.R.T., Kona, and more

I never made it out to the Wine C.A.R.T. in West Chester – mainly because I rarely make it out to West Chester. But with all the folks who do live on that end of town – why didn't you go to the Wine C.A.R.T?

Sadly, the economy has taken it's toll and the Wine C.A.R.T. is officially closed. I received their last e-newsletter today.

To all,
The economy
has become an 800 pound gorilla that wasn’t there, nor foreseen, when
we opened our doors in early 2007.  Today it is – – it has strangled our
opportunity to get further funding and enough relief to keep our doors open.

It is with
great sadness that I must say goodbye to all of you.  With no end in
sight to the current financial crisis, I have had to make the tough decision
to close our fabulous wine bar. 

I won’t
close our doors without remembering the great camaraderie and personal
friendships that we have built in our short time in business.  Wow, it
was awesome for me and I hope for you too!  I hope you enjoy some of the
wonderful pictures (too many to post) from 2008.

I wish you
the best in your future wine purchasing and hope to see you all at Jungle
special wine tastings in the future – – tell Dave and
Todd I sent you!

Happy New
Year . . . Mike, Jane and I will miss you,


Of course, the Wine C.A.R.T. isn't the only place we've lost this year. The following restaurants come to mind: we lost the following restaurants:

  • Kona Bistro, Oakley
  • Wah Mee
  • Seny
  • Pacific Moon
  • Tropicana

I'm sure I missed many. Let me know in the comments the other . In the meantime, our fondest farewell to the Wine C.A.R.T.

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Posted by Michelle at 2:35 pm in Cincinnati, Restaurants, RIP, Wine Shops | Permalink | Comments ()
May 16

RIP, Robert Mondavi

This was coming, of course. Mondavi was 94 years old, and proof of the health benefits of wine and California breezes. Yet, I’m still somewhat surprised, and sad. Robert Mondavi passed away at his home in Yountville this morning.

He left an amazing legazy behind him. Last year, I read his autobiography, Harvests of Joy, published in 1998. As I read the book I swung between dislike, admiration, and confusion regarding the man who helped build the Napa we know today. In the end, he admitted his own mistakes and I was left with a clear admiration for Mondavi.

There is the legendary fight between Robert & Peter, two brothers, which sent Robert out on his own, building the first winery in Napa since Prohibition. He saw the winery as a tourist destination, forever changing the perception of Napa Valley (for good or evil, your choice). He traveled France, learning more about Bordeaux and Burgundy styles of wine. And he began to understand, and quest for, terroir. That quest led to the purchase of his To Kalon vineyards. I have some wine from those vineyards, and I have (of all things) a stone coaster with a print of those vineyards. After reading the book, I was rather fascinated with the man.

His winery has grown, expanded, and suffered through financial hardships in the last 20 years. I was never thrilled with the decision to sell to Constellation Brands. In the meantime, Mondavi launched  philantropies, including COPIA and the Robert Mondavi Institute
for Wine & Food Science at UC Davis, which is almost complete. He and Magrit, his wife, also donated funds to complete the UC Davis performing arts center.

Mondavi_2005When I think of Robert Mondavi, I remember one clear moment. In 2005, on July 4, we were in Santa Rosa. I had managed to get tickets to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band concert at the Mondavi winery that night. We had a picnic from the Oakville Grocery and met some wonderful people spread out on blankets around us. Behind us, at a table in the vineyard, Robert & Magrit were dancing. In 2005, Mondavi was 91 years old, but had no trouble getting up and sharing one dance with his wife on a perfect summer evening.

Many Mondavi wines are inexpensive or generic. But there are some wonderful wines as well – I have two bottles of a reserve cabernet: one of which I’m aging another couple years and one that I do believe I’ll be popping open this weekend, in honor of Robert Mondavi.

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Posted by Michelle at 3:49 pm in RIP | Permalink | Comments (1)
Aug 22

In Memoriam: Paul Ortiz

There’s some sad news in the Cincinnati wine scene this week. Paul Ortiz, founder of the Cincinnati Wine School and former wine director at Boca, passed away Monday at the age of 44.

Born and raised in Santa Fe, Paul settled in Cincinnati while attending UC in the mid ’80s. His first wine-related job was at Petersen’s in Mt. Adams, as a bartender. He was largely self-taught in wine, which I find inspiring. In the end he was running the Wine School and working for Vintner Select. Paul was known for his unpretentious, no-nonsense style that made wine approachable.

I only met Paul once, at the International Wine Festival shortly after he launched the Wine School. He struck me as a sweet and easygoing man. Since I began recording the Cincinnati area wine events in January, I noticed his name more and more often. Not only did his name appear for Wine School-related events, Paul was associated with any possible wine event that helped promote downtown and downtown living. Whether it was Second Sunday on Main or Art & Wine strolls at the Art Museum, Paul was involved.

There are few people in the Cincinnati food and wine industry who haven’t had some contact with Paul, even if just in passing. He was a great force in Cincinnati, not only for educating people about wine, but for promoting his adopted city. He will be missed.

Paul Ortiz’s Passion Became His Career: Cincinnati Enquirer

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Posted by Michelle at 10:30 am in Cincinnati, Local, RIP | Permalink | Comments (1)

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