bASH 2018: Food and Wine Compete Again

Deconstructed Wellington

Deconstructed Wellington

If you’re a fan of awesome wine and food pairings then you should clear your calendar for this year’s bASH 2018, coming to St. Helena on April 7 between 6 pm and 8:30 pm. This is much more than just a wine tasting event: it’s an annual showcase for this northern Napa Valley community in which over 30 premium wineries that are part of the Appellation St Helena organization join forces with local culinary talent to compete for your favor. That’s right: if you attend the bASH 2018 event, you get to eat, drink AND judge.

Yewell Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Yewell Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

bASH 2018 will feature tastes of wines from wineries such as Anomaly Vineyards, Ballentine Vineyards, Benessere Vineyards, Calafia CellarsDel Dotto Vineyards, Monticello VineyardsParry Cellars, Pellet Estate, St. Helena Winery, Stanton Vineyards, Taplin Cellars and Titus Vineyards served alongside delicious food offerings from participants such as Acacia House, Goose & Gander, Market and PRESS.

However, most of the food pairings at bASH 2018 will actually come from “Rising Star” students at the Culinary Institute of America who will be creating dishes from scratch specifically designed to complement the wine that they have been matched with.  This makes your evening of wine sipping and food tasting a challenge as you keep trying to figure out which combination (and team) deserves your vote(s) the most.

Lemongrass Lamb Kofta

Lemongrass Lamb Kofta

In fact, our favorite combination at last year’s bASH started with a dish prepared by CIA Student Chefs Jessica Haryanto and Chase Evans, a Deconstructed Wellington (Beef Tenderloin, Foie Gras Mousse, Prosciutto di Parma, Duxelles, Crispy Leeks, Perigord Black Truffle on Puff Pastry with a Cabernet Reduction) which was paired with a delightful Pellet Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.  Three other excellent small bites from CIA Student Chefs last year were Coconut Milk Red Snapper Ceviche, Smoked Hanger Steak with a Cabernet Sauvignon Gastrique, and Lemongrass Lamb Kofta.
–> please click here to continue reading –>

Travel Advice: Napa Valley’s St. Helena Appellation

Cabernet Sauvignon St. Helena AppellationAppellation Name: St. Helena Appellation

Where: Napa County in California

Officially Established:  September 11, 1995

Location: In northern Napa Valley, centered around the city of St. Helena, between the Mayacamas Mountans (to the west) and the Vaca Range (to the east). The boundaries are approximately defined by Bale Lane to the north, Zinfandel Lane to the South, along parts of Crystal Springs Road and Conn Valley Road to the east, and the 400 ft. elevation line marking the west. For an exact, 18-step description of the official boundaries, please go here.  To see a map of the area, please go here.

Pellet Estate, winery in St. Helena Appellatiion

Pellet Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Background: St. Helena is considered to be the birthplace of the Napa Valley wine industry. In 1861, Charles Krug established a winery just north of the town of St. Helena and two years later Henry Pellet purchased land and started his own winery just south of town.  By the 1870’s, Napa Valley wine industry challenges included (a) the large presence of French wines in the marketplace due to low tariffs, (b) customer perception that Mission grapes used in winemaking resulted in an inferior product, (c) financial issues related to shipping and storage costs, and (d) the arrival of Phylloxera.

In 1875, Mr. Krug and Mr. Pellet along with Seneca Ewer (former California State Senator now living in Napa Valley) helped form the St. Helena Viticultural Club.  Within two months of its formation, the organization began to take on significant projects such as the need to incorporate, changes in Revenue law, understanding and addressing Phylloxera, the creation of a large local wine cellar, and the value of planting foreign grape varietals instead of Mission grapes.
–> please click here to continue reading –>

2018 World of Pinot Noir: It’s a New Day

2018 World of Pinot Noir GlassIt’s time to indulge and celebrate when Pinot Noir producers and lovers from around the world converge at the 2018 World of Pinot Noir at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara on March 2nd and 3rdAu Bon Climat, Freeman Winery, Maison Louis Latour, Merry Edwards Winery and Stephen Ross Wine Cellars will lead the parade of over 250 wineries participating in expert-led Tasting Seminars, Luncheons, Dinners, Parties and Grand Tastings. Depending on your personal interest, you can purchase tickets for a single event, a day’s worth of events, or a whole weekend of activities.

As you probably know, the Santa Barbara region was challenged recently with natural disasters, including wildfires and mudslides, with some tragic impacts.  However, the fires are out, the roads are clear, the water is safe to drink and the scenery is beautiful.  So please come eat, drink, stay and enjoy yourself as you support local recovery and relief efforts.

Pinot Noir GrapesThe 2018 World of Pinot Noir (WOPN) offers not just one, but two separate Grand Tastings with over 100 different producers at each session. This is a comprehensive chance to “get current” on the latest wines made from Pinot Noir grapes grown in places such as Anderson Valley, Los Carneros, Russian River Valley, Santa Maria, Santa Rita Hills, Santa Ynez, Sonoma Coast, and the Willamette Valley. On the international front, the WOPN Grand Tastings will also include wineries from Austria (Circo Vino) Chile (Matetic Vineyards), Hungary (Nimrod Wines), New Zealand (New Zealand Winegrowers), South Africa (Botanica Wines) and Spain (Alta Pavina).

The Willamette Valley will be well-represented at the 2018 World of Pinot Noir, with wineries Anne AmieArchery Summit, BrooksCoeur de Terre, Erath, Flâneur Wines, Gran Moraine, Montinore Estate, Nicolas-Jay, The Four Graces and Van Duzer Vineyards all attending and pouring their wines.  There will also be a seminar and luncheon exploring the connections between wineries in Oregon and Burgundy, and a special five-course dinner on March 3rd featuring wines from this region.
–> please click here to continue reading –>

Helping Wine Country Recovery Without Leaving The City: November 8-9

Napa Valley, in need of wine country recoveryIf you want to taste outstanding wine and do a good deed all at the same time, there are three events coming to San Francisco you should know about because they offer ways to help with wine country recovery.  The recent North Bay wildfires have made significant impacts on the people and property of Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties and you can help with the areas’ recoveries. The Atlas Fire burned 51,624 acres and the Redwood Valley Fire burned 36,523 acres, but fortunately now both of those are 100% contained. Other major fires in the region are all the way up to 98% contained: Tubbs Fire (36,807 acres), Pocket Fire (17,357 acres) and the Nuns/Adobe/Norrbom/Pressley/Partrick Fire (56,556 acres).

What’s needed now is for visitors to travel to wine country and invest in the local economy.  Help can be provided by spending money at local wineries, restaurants, shops and hotels.  Alternatively, several charities are accepting financial contributions.  If you’d like to plan a trip to Napa, Sonoma and/or Mendocino Counties, you can just click on the navigation bar above at “Favorites By Wine Region” and follow the drop-down menus to see our personal recommendations.

Wine BarrelsBut, what if you can’t come to wine country right now?  Well, we’re pleased to share that wine country recovery opportunities are coming directly to the residents of and visitors to the City of San Francisco. During the second week of November, three different wine tasting events take place in the City and your attendance (and possible wine purchases) will support individuals and businesses in these North Bay wine regions. Please review the information below, go have a wonderful time and maybe even start on your holiday shopping.
–> please click here to continue reading –>

2017 Napa Valley Film Festival: Catch a Film, Help the Recovery

2017 Napa Family Film Festival The official program for the 2017 Napa Valley Film Festival was recently released and if you’re a fan of film festivals you should definitely think about attending.  If you’ve never been before, what makes a film festival special is the live participation of writers, directors, actors and producers in Q&A sessions following practically every screening. If you enjoy excellent films, great wine, and outstanding food, then you will find ways to enjoy all three of them at the Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF) between November 8-12, 2017.

In addition, this would be an excellent way to revisit Napa Valley and see how much it was (or was not) impacted by the recent wildfires.  Despite the recent tragedy, the residents are strong and determined to recover and rebuild so come see for yourself how things are going.  We will all be forever grateful to the thousands of firefighters, police officers, and other public safety professionals who helped mitigate the damage in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties as much as they did.

As the local community recovers, the Napa Valley Film Festival is supporting these efforts in two ways.  First, they are donating 10% of Pass sales between October 16 and throughout the days of the Festival towards the Napa Valley Community Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund.  Secondly, the NVFF’s Presenting Sponsor Lexus will be offering 1000 free tickets to those impacted by the fires.  For more information, please refer to the NVFF website.

Pumpkin Tarts from Sweetie Pies at NVFF Gala

Pumpkin Tarts from Sweetie Pies at NVFF Gala

If you’ve attended the Festival in the past, you’ll find many things the same (opening and closing night films, celebrity tributes, award ceremonies, the annual Gala and the Friday Night Party at the Martin Showroom in St. Helena).  But, there are also some changes this year for the 2017 Napa Valley Film Festival: new pass packages, more screening line queueing categories, and new screening venues.  Keep reading and we’ll try to convince you to grab that credit card and start ordering right now.
–> please click here to continue reading –>

Napa Fires – Where to Learn, How to Help

Grapecrusher, not bothered by Napa FireIf you are looking for information on the Napa Fires and how they are impacting all of Napa County, please see below.  We’ve included where to go for information, where to seek help, and how to donate your time and/or money to help support Napa County residents affected by the fires.

También hay información para ayuda en Español más abajo.

The Napa Fires are actually three different fires currently.  The Atlas Fire (which started in the Atlas Peak area) has destroyed 252 structures and another 5000 are threatened. The good news is that the fire is 45% contained.  Resources currently dedicated to this particular fire include over 2100 personnel, 182 fire engines, 35 dozers, 21 helicopters and 8 air tankers.  The Tubbs fire has expanded from its Santa Rosa origin, is threatening the northern end of the Valley, and is 44% contained.  On the other hand, the Nuns fire which has combined with the Partrick fire is threatening the west side of the Valley, and is only 10% contained.

Please do not do anything that would interfere with the efforts of Fire and Police resources to fight the Napa fires and maintain public safety.
–> please click here to continue reading –>

2017 Wine & Spirits Top 100: From Achaval Ferrer to Zind-Humbrecht

àMaurice Cellars, one of the 2017 Wine & Spirits Top 100

àMaurice Cellars, one of the 2017 Wine & Spirits Top 100

Here’s an exciting way to interrupt your workweek:  the 2017 Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting is coming to San Francisco on Tuesday, October 10.  This annual event showcases Wine & Spirits’ favorite 100 wineries from the last year along with local chefs and artisanal purveyors serving small bites to complement the wines.  We have always enjoyed our experiences at this celebration of premium winemaking which has been produced in San Francisco since its inception.  This year, the 14th annual Top 100 Tasting takes place between 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm that evening at City View at METREON (135 4th Street, San Francisco) and if you move quickly you can still buy tickets for yourself and/or friends (including a chance to enter the event an hour earlier and/or attend a sparkling wine reception the night before).

Hog Island Oyster Co, Wine & Spirits Top 100 participant

Hog Island Oyster Co.

Top 100 Tasting attendees can start their evening by comparing Champagnes from wineries such as Champagne Dosnon and Louis Roederer, and pairing them with Oysters from Hog Island Oyster Co.. At the end of the night, you can wrap up with sips such as Madeira from Blandy’s, Sherry from El Maestro Sierra and Port from Taylor Fladgate. Over the past year the folks at Wine & Spirits tasted over 14,000 bottlings and these one hundred wineries came out on top, consistently delivering quality wines.

Cervaro della Sala

Cervaro della Sala from Marchesi Antinori

The Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting reflects international excellence with wineries representing fourteen different countries including Achaval Ferrer (Argentina), Penfolds (Australia), Salomon-Undhof (Austria), Concha y Toro (Chile), Domaine Zind-Humbrecht (France), Weingut Robert Weil (Germany), Kir-Yianni (Greece), Marchesi Antinori (Italy), Craggy Range (New Zealand), VADIO (Portugal), Movia Wines (Slovenia), DeMorgenzon (South Africa) and González Byass (Spain).  There will also be plenty of wineries from the US.

Dutton-Goldfield, one of the 2017 Wine & Spirits Top 100

Dutton-Goldfield

The domestic wineries pouring tastes that evening include Top 100 winners from Napa Valley (Corison, Silverado Vineyards, von Strasser), Sonoma County (Dutton-Goldfield, LIOCO, The Withers Winery), and Willamette Valley (Bergström Wines, Cristom Vineyards, J. Christopher Wines).  The state of Washington will be well represented with àMaurice Cellars, Andrew Will Winery, Col Solare, DeLille Cellars, Gramercy Cellars and Reynvaan Family Vineyards among the 100.
–> please click here to continue reading –>