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Aug 03

Our Guide to Drinking Local

Originally posted on Aug 3, 2009 and updated continuously.

If you read CityBeat at all, then you noticed that they had a big article on Buying Local this week – complemented by an article on “Vineyard Tripping in Ripley.” Yep, CityBeat finally caught up to what I’ve been telling you all for years: Drink Local.

Happily, CityBeat visited both Kinkead Ridge, which gets most of the local press anyway, and Meranda-Nixon, which is sort of an undiscovered gem. (Or at least it was …)

So, as sort of a chaser to the CityBeat article, I wanted  to point new readers (hello Enquirer readers! *waving*) to some of our articles on Local Wineries, including Harmony Hill, Meranda-Nixon, Kinkead Ridge, and Chateau Thomas.

Back in the spring we had “winery week” here on My Wine Education, and we visited several local wineries:

Last autumn, we got to help harvest the grapes at Harmony Hill, which was fun, hard, and educational. I guarantee we’ll be helping out again.

We’ve also got a post from our 2008 Labor Day trip to most of the local wineries and even a photo of Kinkead Ridge in winter. I haven’t yet visited La Vigna Estate in Georgetown, OH, but I hear it’s lovely.

Don’t forget that you can also visit Henke, our own urban winery, over on the west side. Woodstone Creek, another local winery, is located near Xavier and offers bourbon and vodka in addition to wine.

Additionally, there are Kentucky wineries. We keep meaning to make it to very local Stonebrook Winery for one of their highly recommended winery dinners. I’ve also published posts on Elk Creek in Owenton and Jean Farris en route to Lake Cumberland, which share a winemaker.

Not quite local, but so many Cincinnatians head to Gatlinburg on a regular basis that I thought I’d share my post about the “Rocky Top Wine Trail” in Pigeon Forge.

Our Local Wineries category allows you to poke through all of our local winery-related posts, all the way back through 2006.

Finally, I just want to give a shout-out to Valeree, whose Cincinnati Locavore blog is your guide to everything Slow Food locally.

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Posted by Michelle at 10:54 am in Cincinnati, Local, Local Wineries, Wineries | Permalink | Comments (2)
Jul 24

WBC09 – Live Wine Tasting

While Michelle is in Chicago at BlogHer, I'm (Kevin) representing our blog at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Sonoma.

We're about to do a live "speed tasting." 6 Minutes per wine maker to explain a bottle of their wine. Then switch to the next group of 10 attentive tasters. Post will be updated with pics when I get a chance. 18 tables, 3 winemakers are stuck in traffic from San Francisco. We are delayed as IT is called to fix the wifi.

Round 1: Schramsburg 2006 Blanc de Blancs

Winery started in 1965. 4 areas are used for grapes to create the bubbly. Sweet fruity flavor upfront with a little apple. Small amount of yeastines and not trying to be French style. On lees for 2 years and I think our table lucked out with the best way to start a tasting. Retail $36.

Round 2: 07 Lilly Hills Zin from Bella Vineyards. Syrah and Petite Syrah in the blend as well. 15% Abv. Earthy and leathery on the palate and about the opposite of the last thing we tried. Overall it needs  alittle more time in bottle to relax. Retail at $38

Round 3: 2007 River of Skulls from Twisted Oak. Smoother than last year, higher Syrah percentage. Mourvedre. $35 at retail.

Round 4: 07 Barbarra from Northwest Wine Academy. Sweet flavor and little depth. Would work better with food.

Round 5: 08 Fish Eye Pinot Gris. Central Valley grapes. Going for year after year consistency. I am still not a huge Pinot Gris fan, but this has a open and acceptable flavor profile. $6.99 retail for 750. $14.99 for the 3L. I'd bring this to a party without heavy wine drinkers and I think there would be no problem.

Round 6: Pinot Evil. $20 for a 3L box. Nice basic Pinot. Would recommend for when hosting a party or to have an everyday red available for drinking.

Round 7: 07 Cab Sauv from Cupcake. 2 different vineyards combining for 85 CS, 12 Syrah, Petit Sytah for the rest. Going for an adult treat. Good again this year a little warm on the finish, but plenty of fruit to balance. Used Cab Sauv to make cupcake frosting on the paired cupcakes for after the tasting.

Round 8: 05 Snows Lake 2 Blend. Nice tannic, CS shows through, needs time to open up a little. Very deep wine with great food potential. $45 retail and worth it. 14.2% AbV doesn't overwhelm and is very nice.

Round 9: 07 Petite Syrah from Line 39. Very light with alot of tannins. At $10 this would be a great introduction to the varietal to anyone who is starting on red wines.

Round 10: 07 Ancient Vine Mouv from Cline Cellars. Nice spicy and earthy. Cline has nice sandy soil that lends to growing this varietal. 25% new American oak keeps the flavor pure. 15% AbV does not overwhealm the rest of it. 10,000 cases made yearly. $16

Round 11 (two left): 07 Chard from Tandem. Very buttery and subdued oak. Chewy flavor and a nice example of Cali Chard. 2000 ft elevation Dijon 809 clone used in making the wine. Balanced, but not my style of chard. $54 retail.

Round 12: 07 Estate Chard from Foggy Bridge. Winery to open in San Fran next year. Balanced and 1/2 malo and 1/2 stainless. Crisp finish and good acid. 190 cases and $18 a bottle. Malo balances the wine and makes this a nice value Chard.

This will be prettied up later, but another great tasting at the WBC!

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Jul 22

Osake: Artisan Sake Maker on Granville Island, Vancouver

For those new to the blog, occasionally my husband Kevin chimes in with beer and spirits posts. Since I'm not a sake fan, he's covering that as well, including our recent trip to a sake maker in Vancouver.

On our recent vacation to the northwest, one of the places Michelle, Steven (my younger brother) and I went to was Osake Artisan Sake Maker on Granville Island in Vancouver, British Columbia. I had not heard of Osake sake prior to arriving at the hotel and reading through Where magazine. Osake is reported to have been the first sake made in Canada. Armed with that knowledge and a rough idea of where we were going, we took left out of our hotel, walked down Jervis street to Sunset Beach where we picked up the Water Taxi to Granville Island.

On Granville Island, we explored the amazing Public Market before heading to the Artisan Sake shop. The sake tasting area is next to the tanks used to by the distillers which adds a nice level of ambiance to the tasting. Steven and Michelle were able to sit at the street-facing bar and people watch while I delved into the tasting. All sakes were served cold and there were 5 different types of sake available, the two premiums were $2 each and a flight of the 3 entry levels was $5. (All prices in Canadian dollars.)

I started with the Ginjo Genshu. The use of Ginjo means that 40% of the rice was ground away and only the remaining center was used in the distilling of the sake. Genshu means the sake was undiluted and can pack a slight punch.

The Genshu was a filtered sake resulting in a clear drink that had a lot of plum sauce characteristics. This was awarded a spot in the top 100 wines of 2008 by the Vancouver Magazine International Wine Competition. Overall I liked the well rounded flavor and sweetness. Michelle also tolerated this one (she's not a sake fan) and we paid it the highest compliment any traveler can give on a trip: we bought a bottle. At $25 for a 375 mL bottle, this was expensive but worth the price and hassle of bringing it home with us.
My review:

Second was the Ginjo Nigori. Nigori implies cloudy due to no filtration done once the sake is made. This has a chewier texture, as expected in a nigori sake, and a nice long bitter finish. In comparison to other nigori sake, my thought is that this one had a touch more ripe melon flavors and less creaminess. Once again, I enjoyed the overall experience, while Steven and Michelle were slightly less thrilled. Once again $25 a bottle is reasonable pricing for the small batch quailty sake. Both ginjos were aged for 1 year in bottle, while the junmai were aged 2 to 3 months.
My review:

I ended with a flight of the three entry level (junmai) sakes. For junmai, 30% of the rice is milled away and no alchohal is added in the process of creating the sake. The first I treid was Junmai Nama Genshu which was a nice entry level sake and at $35 for a 750 mL bottle is once again a very nice value. The main flavors were along the papaya and graininess expected. I thought the ginjo had a more vibrant plum flavor, but this would also have paired well with a lean steak or a rick meat like duck.

Second in the flight was Junmai Nama which seemed to have higher acid. The slight lime flavor and very little creaminess made me think grilled shrimp would be a very nice food pairing. In comparison to the others, this was probably my least favorite, but still ranks as a nice entry. At $27 for 750 mL, the quality/value ratio is there, but not at the same level as the other options.

Finally, I tried the Junmai Nama Nigori, which had a very nice melon flavor from start to finish. This one costs $29 for 750 mL and is again a nice value for sipping. This was the "ricey-est" of all the sakes due to the nigori style and was closest to what I have tried in the past.

For each of these three, my review is a .

Overall, the trip to Granville Island was worth it just for seeing a sake house. Luckily the small batch products that were created were enjoyable. Sadly, they did not have an open bottle of their sparkling sake, which I would have loved to try. $24 a bottle was a little high to buy without first trying it, but it is still on my list to try when I return to Granville Island, as we do hope to return to Vancouver.

 - Kevin

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Posted by Michelle at 8:00 am in Spirits, Tastings, Wine Notes, Wine Shops, Wineries | Permalink | Comments ()
Jul 10

Guest Post: When You Wish Upon a Grape: Disney-Related Wines

While Kevin & I are in Alaska, we've asked some friends and
colleagues to post on their wine loves, wine experiences and more. For
this post we welcome Tom Streeter and Carla Gesell-Streeter
, who are dear friends and like me, they are fellow Disney addicts. Tom & Carla run the popular blog Hoperatives.com, a
Cincinnati based beer blog aimed at Believers in Better Beer (In Cincinnati
and Beyond), but they love wine too. Thanks Tom & Carla – and happy anniversary!


love Disney and we love wine (almost as much as beer).  For the longest time, we’ve been
wanting to have friends over for a themed wine tasting.  There are three great Disney-related
wines out there. All are from California, appropriately enough, though each is
produced in a different part of the state.  These wines are frequently featured at restaurants at Walt
Disney World, Disneyland and on the Disney Cruise ships and most are also
available in the Cincinnati area.

Silverado Vineyards:
Stags Leap District of Napa Valley, California

Image Credit: Joe Shiabotnick

by Diane Disney Miller (Walt’s daughter) and her husband Ron Miller (former
president and CEO of Walt Disney Productions), Silverado was established in
1981. The Millers purchased
existing vineyards and originally intended only to grow grapes, but decided to
build their own winery a few years after purchasing the land. The winery was
designed by architect Dick Keith and is reminiscent of the old California mission-style
structures found in the area. The
name comes from a nearby abandoned silver mine.

Current winemaker Jonathan Emmerich produces Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon,
and some special limited reserve wines. 
Prices begin at about $20.00 a bottle.

Fess Parker Winery: Los
Olivos, California

Image Credit: Spencer Cross

Fess Parker was an actor who is famous for playing the original Disney Davy Crockett. (He also starred in Old Yeller.) Fess Parker is no longer westerns and coonskin caps, however. His name is increasingly associated more with his wines. Much like the Millers of Silverado, Fess Parker and his family originally
intended only to have a small vineyard and source grapes to local producers. They quickly added not only a winery,
but also an inn. Son Eli Parker
started as an assistant winemaker, moved into the position of winemaker in 1995,
and now serves as President. Daughter Ashley Parker Snider started running the tastings and now handles the public relations, marketing and
sales.  Blair Fox is the current
head winemaker.

Fess Parker produces produces Reisling, Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Noir,
Syrah as well as several red table wines. Prices start at about $12.00 a

MacMurray Ranch: Russian
River Valley of Sonoma County, California

Photo from winery web site

playing everyone’s favorite dad on My Three Sons, actor Fred MacMurray starred in several
Disney live action films including The Shaggy Dog, The Absent-Minded
, and The Happiest Millionaire.  In 1941, the actor purchased land near Healdsburg, which became MacMurray Ranch, from descendants of the tract’s original 1846

Susan Doyle has been the MacMurray Ranch winemaker for more than fifteen
harvests.  The MacMurray vineyards
specialize in Pinot grapes so the wines produced are Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.  Prices start at about $18.00 a bottle.

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Posted by Michelle at 8:30 am in Disney, Guest Writers, Wineries | Permalink | Comments (2)
Jul 06

Guest Post: Visiting the Suisun Valley Wine Country

While Kevin & I are in Alaska, we've asked some friends and
colleagues to post on their wine loves, wine experiences and more. For
this post we welcome Jen Rizzo
. Jen is a freelance motion graphics designer, part-time writer and Cincinnati
transplant based out of San Francisco. She is a self-professed beer
nerd living in the heart of wine country and spends her free time
getting to know the area around her from the saddle of a thirty year
old bicycle – she's also a good friend and I miss her.
Thanks Jen!

I moved to San Francisco from Cincinnati on Labor Day of 2008 and have made it a point to stay in the area for all the major holidays so I can learn how the city responds to them. I got to see the city empty out for Thanksgiving and Christmas, making it easier than ever to get a dinner reservation or sit at my favorite bar and not have to elbow people out of the way to get a drink. Of course, it didn't occur to me until two days before Memorial Day weekend that I lived in a major tourist destination. It was time to get out of the city.

This poses quite the challenge for me, you see, because I live in the Bay Area without a car. We're surrounded by all of this incredible terrain, and I see it all from behind the handlebars of a bicycle. This is great for being in the city, and it's very easy to ride over the Golden Gate Bridge to get into Sausalito and toward the mountains, but anything beyond about fifty miles is certainly a breaking point for me. So, I consulted the power of the internet, specifically twitter, to decide my destination for me.

I'm not hugely connected in social media, and my twittering is sporadic at best, but I do have a number of wine connections as well as cyclists and San Francisco residents. My needs were simple: I had never been to wine country in the nine months I lived here, I needed to be able to do it without a car, and I wanted somewhere that was going to give me a good day of bike riding. Oh, and I didn't want to spend hundreds of dollars to do it.

Napa was out. The tastings were too high and the hotels were either booked on the night I wanted to be there or astronomically expensive. Plus, my point was to avoid all the Memorial Day nonsense, and a tourist destination was not the place to do that. Our very own favorite wine blogger Michelle suggested Sonoma, but the bus from the city is really the only way to get there with bicycles, and it was going to take upwards of three hours one way.

Then a friend suggested a winery in Suisun Valley, a place I had never heard of. The hotels would be cheaper, he said, and the winery was only an eight mile ride from the Amtrak station. Upon digging around, I learned that there were in fact four wineries in Suisun Valley, and to visit all of them would be a perfect 25 mile loop from the train station, ending up at a hotel that was less than half the cost of a stay in Napa. Oh, and I could take two trains there in an hour and a half, and it would cost me less than $20 to get there, and bicycles were allowed the whole way. Sold!

We loaded up two messenger bags, two bicycles, and headed out for our trip. Two trains and an hour and a half later, we arrived at the Suisun/Fairfield Amtrak station.

For a brief moment, it was easy to forget we were in Northern California. It was cold and foggy when we got on our first train in the city, but by the time we arrived in Fairfield it was sunny and about twenty degrees warmer. The longest part of our journey was the first: an eight mile ride to Wooden Valley Winery.

Wooden Valley is a great place to start your journey. Their wines weren't my favorite (though quite enjoyable), and the experience was much less personal than some of the others we would enjoy that day, but their tasting room and visitor's center is huge. The walls list the story of the Suisun Valley: the brothers that founded the first winery post-prohibition, the families that moved in and made it what it is today. We were invited to taste five of their wines for free – something you'll be much harder pressed to find in the more well-known wine regions of Northern California. I had a full bag on my shoulders and no ability to carry more, so I wasn't able to walk away with any bottles to take home. Lucky for me, it turns out you can order direct from their website, and at a price point of $10-16, they make great value wines. I particularly enjoyed the 2006 Cabernet and their 2007 Riesling.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by Michelle at 8:30 am in Guest Writers, Travel, Wineries | Permalink | Comments (4)

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