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Domaine Carneros

I have driven past Domaine Carneros while passing through Sonoma into Napa SO many times and always told myself I need to make a visit. The estate is absolutely stunning and I love sparkling wine so I am not sure what took so long but I finally made it!

We made reservations for a party of 2 and it is highly suggested, seems like the staff very much prefers it and this place can get very crowded. The wines offered are two varieties, sparkling wine and still Pinot Noir. My friend and I didn’t do a tasting we decided to just get a glass since we had already done 1 tasting that day and had 2 more after.

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“In water one sees one’s own face, but in wine one beholds the heart of another.” 

-French Proverb

Visiting & Tasting:

Tastings are available daily 10am-5:30pm.
Reservations are required
and can be booked up until 5pm on the day of your arrival.
Their tastings start at $30 and go up to $40
They have 4 options:
Sparkling Wine Sampler
Red Wine Sampler
Chateau Sampler
Grande Tasting
They have cheese plates and caviar as an add on if your trying to get real fancy.
I tried two wines:
2012 Estate Brut Cuvée- $35- Aromatic notes of fresh flowers, lychee, white peach and pear make this wine irresistible. The delicate nose belies the round, full palate and exceptionally creamy finish.
The Famous Gate Pinot Nior- $80- Aromas of anise, savory herbs, black tea, and hot brick. On the palate, we find sweet cherry and cocoa powder enriched by layers of pomegranate, grilled fig, and a wisp of cigar smoke.

“Champagne is a wonderful wine: one sometimes drinks too much, but never enough.”

Archbishop of Reims (1890)

To Sum It Up: 

  1. Prettiest Estate I have visited
  2. Highest quality sparking wines
  3. Expensive!

Horton Vineyards

After our first tasting we headed to our last stop which was Horton Vineyards. Upon arriving there was this awesome sign (see pic below) that showed the distance to Horton from Napa and Rhone Valley.

Horton has deep Virginia roots and has both California and French influence in its wine.

“Wine lover and entrepreneur Dennis Horton began his winemaking venture with a small home vineyard in Madison County, Virginia in 1983.  It did not take him long to realize that, although the Virginia summers were warm enough to ripen almost any grape variety, the humid conditions favored growing grapes with thicker skins and loose clusters.  There began the search for varieties that would flourish in Virginia’s climate and had the capacity to produce some of the finest wines of the world.

Dennis’ search concentrated on the warm growing regions of southern France, and before planting any additional grapes, Dennis traveled to the Rhone valley in France.  There he was struck by wines he felt had beautiful texture, grace, and finesse.  In his research, one grape in particular seemed to keep coming up as perfect – Viognier.  It was a grape of wonderful potential – it had a thick skin and loose clusters, perfect for the Virginia climate.  And most importantly, it made some of the world’s finest wines – those of the Condrieu and in particular Chateau Grillet.

In California Dennis learned of only a few producers working with and producing Viognier in limited quantities.  However, new plantings were going in all over the state and enthusiasm was high.  So the decision was made to plant Viognier, along with lesser amounts of Marsanne, Mourvedre, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and several other grape varieties like the native grape Norton, which enjoyed so much success in the 19th century in nearby Charlottesville.  In the late 1800’s, central Virginia was declared the “Capitol of the Eastern Wine Belt.”  Some of the Norton had survived prohibition in Dennis’ home state of Missouri, and he was intrigued by the idea of reviving this historic grape with its incredibly rich, fruity flavor, soft tannins and inky color.

In 1988, Dennis and longtime business partner Joan Bieda acquired 55 acres for the beginning of Horton Vineyards.  The task of establishing the vineyard was given to Dennis’ wife Sharon, a nurse by trade, whose meticulous nature was reflected in the manicuring of the East Coast’s most unique vineyard.  Utilizing the “open lyre” training system, which promotes ideal ripening, and drip irrigation for ideal soil moisture conditions, the vineyard was established with quality in mind.  In 1991 the first small crop was harvested, and made into wine at Montdomaine Cellars, a noted Cabernet producer.  With his wine aging in the cellars, it was a natural transition for Dennis to take over the management of Montdomaine Cellars, and produce Chardonnay and Cabernet under that label, in addition to his own line of Rhone Varieties.  The 1992 wines were very well received in national competitions and construction was begun on a new underground winery.  Stunning stone underground cellars, views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and a wonderful vaulted ceiling tasting room are the highlights of this beautiful winery.  1993 saw the first crush at the new Horton Cellars and in 1994 additional acreage came into production with plantings of Bordeaux, Portuguese and Spanish varietals as well as additional varietals of the Rhone Valley.  The national success of these wines has demonstrated that if the right grapes are planted for the climate of Virginia the results can be stunning.  In the future, Horton Vineyards will continue to explore new varietals to discover the best that Virginia viticulture can produce.”

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Tasting:

The tasting bar was super small and crowded but it was a Saturday afternoon on what I believe was their Fall Fest. They only had two people to serve which was hard on the servers given there was loads of people. Also you can choose from any 10 in no order so I am sure each group was doing all different. My friends and I stuck to the same 10 to keep it easy and the wine flowing.

It was a $9 for 10 wines to taste. And you get to choose a tasting glass (stemless, stemmed, dog or cat). I am loving the Virginia prices compared to Napa and Sonoma!

My Favorites:

So I can’t put my finger on what I tasted in some of the Virginia reds but it was a almost cheesy or mushroom taste. I didn’t care for it as much as my Napa Cabernet’s but there were some that stood out to me.

2016 Viognier – $20.00- Exotic honey and tropical fruit aromas jump from the glass. Full bodied, viscous mouthfeel. 95% Viognier, 5% Roussanne

2015 Norton – $18.00- Has a dark, rich color and an intensely fruity aroma of plums and tart cherries. Ageing in oak for 14 months has given this wine a long, flavorful, spicy finish.  93% Norton, 7% Touriga Nacional

Rojo Xoco – Red Wine with Chocolate Essence – $16.00 (500ml bottle)-It’s like licking a Raspberry Tootsie Roll Pop!  88% Touriga Nacional, 8% Syrah, 4% Norton with a very small percentage of dark chocolate essence.

Sum it up:

  1. Super affordable tastings and you get to keep the glass (a very cute one at that)
  2. Interesting wine assortment. First time I got to try Norton (Virginia grape).
  3. Beautiful grounds to roam around and frolic through the vineyard.

 

 

Featured

Barboursville Vineyards and Historic Ruins

I went to a wedding a few weeks back in Virginia and on the wedding day a few of us that weren’t apart of the wedding party was able to brake away before and head to a few wineries near the venue. I have been told about Virginia wine country and how amazing it is but really I was blissfully unaware of how many stunning wineries they have.

Our first stop was Barboursville Vineyards. This winery has some serious ties to history. In fact some presidential ties!

The wine producing estate was founded in 1976 by Gianni Zonin, an Italian winemaker from the Veneto. Part of an affiliated group of wineries owned by Zonin based in Vicenza, Barboursville Vineyards is its only American venture.

The winery is built on the grounds of Barboursville, the home of the 19th Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, James Barbour, on an estate of 870 acres (350 ha) which is divided between Albemarle County and Orange County. The home was built from 1814 through 1822 and is based on an architectural design provided by Barbour’s political ally and friend, Thomas Jefferson, since 1969 listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It draws approximately 80,000 visitors a year.

The estate is the first producer in the new era of Virginian wine history to plant Vitis vinifera since the failed attempts of Jefferson, initially through former vineyard manager Gabriele Rausse. Winery manager Luca Paschina first arrived as a consultant in 1990, now estimated among Virginia’s leading winemakers, has a stated goal to work to achieve quality consistently over several vintages.

Considered one of the leading wineries in Virginia, Barboursville Vineyards wine was selected to be served to the Queen Elizabeth II on her 2007 visit to Virginia.

Visiting:

The tasting room is open for walk-ins:

Monday – Saturday

10:00am – 5:00pm

Sunday
11:00am – 5:00pm

I did the standard tasting which was $7 for 21 tastings….THIS IS NOT A JOKE. 

There are quite a few tours and tasting options worth taking a gander before you go.

My favorites:

I am not going to go through all 21 wines but the highlights were the following:

CHARDONNAY RESERVE (2016) -$18.99- The wine is exploding with rich and complex flavors of pear, apple, and vanilla, a lavishly texured palate.

BRUT ROSÉ CUVÉE 1814– $24.99- 100% Pinot, dry (but not quite brut), nice flavor profile of lighter stonefruit and floral (along the lines of lavender / violets).

Cabernet Franc Reserve 2015 -$24.99- Dark garnet core, brilliant clarity in the glass. Intense, effusively luscious flavors of ripe red berries with caramelised notes of fig, cherry, and plum, elegantly woven together in barrel. Long-finishing and tannically vivid, yet with a remarkably soft palate.

IMG_5967 (Free tasting glass with the tasting, having too much fun a broke mine, oops!)

To sum it up:

  1. High yielding winery with cheap tasting options
  2. Options to suite every palate
  3. Strong historical ties

Kunde Family Winery

I’ve been told for months from fellow wine lovers to go to Sonoma and visit Kunde. Last weekend I finally made my way over to Sonoma and stopped by for a walk-in tasting. Kunde is a beaut with its rolling hills with perfectly lined vines surrounding the spectacular estate.

I was unaware how big of a deal Kunde is. The winery was established in 1904 as Wildwood Vineyard and in 1989 was reestablished as Kunde. It is currently one of the largest family owned wineries in Sonoma with over 1,850 acres. Also fun fact: Bottle Shock, a movie explaining the story of how Napa/Sonoma were put on the map by the Paris blind tasting, was filmed at Kunde. Many familiar scenes right there on the premise.

I enjoyed the stories the staff member told us during our tasting and I appreciated the passion she has towards the wine. My husband and I each got a tasting and we each picked different wines so we could try each others.

Tasting:

There are quite a few tasting options. We walked in and found a place at the inside tasting bar but if you wish to do a different tasting I would suggest making reservations as it can get crowded.

“Tastings are $15 per person for our Main Bar Tasting, $30 per person for our Kinneybrook Room Tasting, complimentary for Wine Club members (up to 4 people) and $50 per person for our Mountain Top Tasting, $30 for Wine Club members up to 4 people.”

We strayed a bit from the $15 tasting menu with trying some of the reserve wines and I do suggest trying and comparing.

My Favorites:

2014 Meritage 202 – The blending of five Bordeauxvarieties forms a distinct nose of dried cranberries, nutmeg and walnuts. This pleasing bouquet is enhanced by opulent, full mouth flavors of black cherry, red currant and cinnamon.

2014 Dunfillan Cuvée – Named after the original winery built on the Kunde Estate in the late 1800’s, our Dunfillan Cuvee is a bold Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah blend.

Wine Club Exclusive Cinnamon, dark chocolate and blueberry aromas meld with flavors of cassis, mulled spice and lavender.

1904 Dessert Cuvee– my favorite part about this was it went so well with the dark chocolate and sea salt they give you to pair with it. It’s a match made in heaven

Sum it up:

  1. large spacious winery with 360 views of hillside vines and mountains in the distance
  1. Club membership
  2. Awesome passionate staff

Grgich Wine Estates

Last weekend my best friends visited from DC and South Carolina. Unaware the heat wave was going to be at its peak on Friday, we decided to head to Napa. We arrived in the valley around 10 am and it was already in the 80’s. We did a tasting at my usual V. Sattui and Mumm Napa. We were heading south on St. Helena Hwy and decided to make one last stop at Grgich Hill. It was too hot to roam around for longer than a few minutes so we heading straight into the tasting room to get down to business. The tasting staff was busy but we had a nice VERY enthusiatic guy wait on us.

He was very excited to tell us about the wine and was very a very animated fella. We decided to go with the Summer Flight because it was the most refreshing wine options.

I was really surprised by the history of Grgich Hills. I have heard about the “Paris Tasting” of 1976 but I was unaware the winemaker Miljenko “Mike” Grgich crafted the Chardonnay that won! Mike Grgich is known by many in the wine world as a legend. He is currently 94 and still passionate as ever about wine.

While visiting I saw their Grape Stomp area and it was super tempting. Here is some details:

Grape Stomp-August 18 until Oct. 29

You’ll create a unique keepsake by putting your grape-stained feet on a white “I stomped at Grgich Hills” t-shirt. All guests 21+ will also enjoy a glass of Grgich Hills Estate wine in a monogrammed GoVino wine glass that you can take home as a souvenir.

In 2017, grape stomp is available August 18 to October 29 daily from 10 am to 4:00 pm.

  • Cost is $35 per person
  • $25 for wine club members
  • Minors/non wine consuming stompers: $25
  • Reservations required for groups of 8 or more. Cost is $40 per person.

Tasting:

 

Summer Flight– $25

2016 Rosé

2015 Napa Valley Essence, Sauvignon Blanc

2014 Fume Blanc, Napa Valley

2014 40th Anniversary Chardonnay

Paris Tasting “Commemorative” Chardonnay

My Favorite:

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2014 Paris Tasting Commemorative Chardonnay

This wine is $94 because this wine is priced for Mike Grgich’s age. He is 94 today and going strong and each year he grows older the wine will increase one dollar in price. Get it while its cheapest.

This wine is a copy cat of the the winning  1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay. This wine makes your mouth very happy with flavors of cooked apple, butter and a mineral character. Its a layered with flavors that coat your mouth in the perfect way.

Sum it up:

  1. Passionate staff
  2. GREAT chardonnay
  3. World renowned winemaker

 

Red Wine Sweet Eats

This week I have an extreme sweet tooth that inspired me to look for wine infused desserts to visually subdue my sweet cravings. These recipes all include red wine and look and sound absolutely delicious. These bloggers have amazing recipes on their sites so I suggest exploring. Also if you make any of the below desserts send some pictures my way! I’ll report back if I successfully make any. Cheers!

RED WINE HOT CHOCOLATE 

Hot chocolate

INGREDIENTS
  1. 1 1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
  2. 1 cup red wine (I used Kendall-Jackson Cabernet Sauvignon)
  3. 1/3 cup dark chocolate chunks
  4. Optional: coconut whipped cream
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine milk and chocolate chips. Whisking constantly until chocolate is melted into milk and you have a thick and creamy chocolate milk. Pour in red wine and heat until everything is hot. Pour into 2 mugs or 6-8 smaller glasses and top with coconut whipped cream.
MAKES 2 MUGS OR 6-8 SMALLER GLASSES
NOTES
  1. This drink is RICH. So instead of just serving 2 (as shown in the pictures), I would recommended serving 6-8 in smaller glasses for sipping.

WINE INFUSED STRAWBERRIES 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pint of strawberries
  • 1 cup white chocolate
  • 1 cup strawberry wine
  • 20 plastic pipette tubes
Infused Strawberries

INSTRUCTIONS

And the best part about these upgraded chocolate-covered strawberries? They’re so super easy, you’ll barely have any extra time to sample the strawberry wine. The first thing you’ll want to do is melt your white chocolate. You can do this in a double boiler, but if you’re lazy like me, you can just chop up the chocolate into a bowl and stick it in the microwave. Heat it in 20 second increments, stirring after each one, until it’s all completely melted. Dip the strawberries in the white chocolate and place them on a cookie sheet, then put them in the fridge to let them set. Depending on how thick you make the chocolate layer, this should take about 15 minutes. While you’re waiting, you can fill the plastic pipette tubes with the strawberry wine – now’s the time to sneak a few samples, if you’re so inclined. Once the chocolate is set, place the wine-filled pipette tubes into each strawberry. Then, enjoy!

By: Jamie Harrington

WINE ICE CREAM

INGREDIENTS

1 bottle of red wine (I used a Merlot)
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup half & half
4 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean
Red Wine Ice Cream
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INSTRUCTIONS

The first step in making our wine ice cream is to reduce the wine down to a syrup-y liquid. Pour your bottle of red wine in to a large pot and simmer over low medium heat until it is reduced to one cup of liquid. This took about an hour for me, but it could be sooner, so you should keep an eye on yours. Once it has been reduced, set aside.

In a medium pot, whisk together the brown sugar, and whipping cream. Cut your vanilla bean in half and scrape out that beautiful vanilla caviar into the pot. Add the bean pod to the pot as well.

Stir constantly while cooking over medium heat until it begins to steam, but before it boils.

Beat your egg yolks with a fork or with a mixer until they are light colored. Remove the vanilla bean pod from the cream and slowly add the cream in to the egg yolks. It is important to add the cream to the eggs very slowly so that they do not curdle.

Once you have successfully added the cream to the eggs, pour the mixture back in to the pot and cook over medium heat until it thickens and turns in to a custard. If it sticks to the back of a wooden spoon, it is done. Remove from it from heat.

Pour the mixture through a strainer and into a large bowl. Stir in the half and half and the reduced wine.

Chill the mixture in the fridge for an hour or two until cold. Add to your ice cream maker (I use this one) and freeze according to directions. (For me this is about 30 minutes). If it is too soft for your liking, stick in the freezer for a few more hours.

by: Jessica Pinney

RED WINE FUDGESICLES

INGREDIENTS

1 cup red wine
1 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup milk.

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INSTRUCTIONS

In a small pot simmer the wine over low/medium heat for 12-18 minutes, allowing it to reduce. Remove from heat and whisk in the chocolate until completely melted. Stir in the milk. Pour into your popsicle tray and freeze over night. (Note: you can use milk instead of wine for regular fudgesicles.)

BY: Emma Chapman (A Beautiful Mess) – If you haven’t checked out their site YA GOTTA!!

RED WINE TRUFFLES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 16 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup red wine (pinot noir or cabernet sauvignon), at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature & halved
  • 3/4 cup natural unsweetened or Dutch-process cocoa powder
Red-Wine-Truffles-Recipe

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place the semi-sweet chocolate in a large heatproof bowl.  Microwave in four 15-second increments, stirring after each, for a total of 60 seconds.  Stir until almost completely melted (I had to micro mine for a couple more rounds before the chocolate was melty).  Set aside.
  2. Pour heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Whisking occasionally, heat until it just begins to boil.  Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate.  Gently begin stirring with a wooden spoon in one direction.  Do not forcefully stir.  Once the chocolate and cream are completely smooth, gently stir in the wine and butter until combined.  Cover with plastic wrap pressed on top of the mixture.  Let the ganache mixture sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, then transfer to the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours, or until it reaches a soft, scoopable consistency (I ended up putting mine in the freezer for a bit to speed things along).
  3. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  Set aside.  Pour the cocoa powder into a bowl.
  4. Remove the ganache from the refrigerator.  Measure 1 teaspoon, roll between your hands into a ball, roll in the cocoa powder, and place on the baking sheet.  Repeat with the rest of the ganache.  For pretty presentation, I roll some truffles more heavily in the cocoa than others.  Serve immediately or cover tightly and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  They are best served cold!

BY: Lori Lange 

Totality Awesome Wines to Celebrate the Solar Eclipse

Everyone is gearing up for tomorrows Solar Eclipse. You still have time to run to either Total Wine & More, Trader Joe’s or Bevmo to nerd out and get wine that is out of this world to celebrate. I mean this doesn’t happen often and the next solar eclipse that goes coast to coast isn’t until 2045!!! So a celebration is in order indeed! Many people I know are taking off work for this maybe once or twice in a lifetime experience. My brother is driving down to Nashville and my colleague drove up to Portland. In California we are only going to see a partial eclipse but I think its still pretty neat. People take this seriously and should take their lunar themed wine seriously as well. These wines, beer and spirits will make you feel like a true astronomer:

 

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Valley of the Moon Cabernet- $20

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Moon X Black Pinot Noir – $6.99

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Trade Joe’s has a whole line of moon branded wines – I recommend the Velvet Moon & Honey Moon!

Luna Nuda Pinot Grigio – $14

Luna Nuda Pinot Grigio (750 ML)

Midnight Moon Blackberry- $19.49

Midnight Moon Blackberry 750ml (750 ML)

Sol Cerveza-$7.49

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Cheers & Happy Solar Eclipse!!!!