Category Archives: Wine

Wine — And A Whole Lot More — At Wente Vineyards

Blue Jade corn growing in the Wente Vineyards produce garden.

Blue Jade corn growing in the Wente Vineyards produce garden.

 

That Livermore’s Wente Vineyards makes first-class wines is a given.

But the oldest, continuously operating family-owned winery in the United States makes so much more on its 2,000 acres in Livermore, as I found out when I was I was invited for a tour recently.

Extra virgin olive oil. Herbs, fruits and veggies galore grown in its own garden. And even beef.

Yes, The Restaurant at Wente gets 12 steer a year from its own herd that graze on the hillsides. Like Japan’s famed Wagyu, these Black Angus cows get some special treatment, too: two glasses of its Charles Wetmore Cabernet Sauvignon daily for the last 90 days of their life.

Chef Mike Ward.

Chef Mike Ward.

Master Gardener Diane Dovholuk.

Master Gardener Diane Dovholuk.

“We don’t get them drunk,” Wente Chef Mike Ward says with a chuckle. “It helps them metabolize food better so they can eat more.”

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Escape to Esc

Escape to esc for this incredible dessert.

Escape to esc for this incredible dessert.

 

Normally when we think of the esc button on our computers, it’s not with fondness or pleasure. It’s usually characterized by banging on the button out of frustration because our screen has frozen.

But there’s another esc in town now, one that’s sure to leave you mellow and chill.

It’s the name of the new lobby lounge wine bar/cafe at the Four Seasons Silicon Valley in East Palo Alto.

If you’re used to hotel lobbies being places you only hang out in to kill time before check-in or check-out, esc will surprise you with its comfortable mix of plush couches, upholstered easy chairs, and bar stools.

I had a chance to check it out last week, when I was invited in as a guest of the hotel to see the newly completed space.

Illuminated on the wall.

Illuminated on the wall.

Take a load off in the newly revamped lobby lounge.

Take a load off in the newly revamped lobby lounge.

On a laid-back weeknight, people were working on laptops, and relaxing with glasses of wine, a few of which conveniently come in your choice of 2-, 4- or 6-ounce pours. You can even try Blend 122, the hotel’s new signature red wine by Byington Vineyards of Santa Cruz, a rich, robust sip that opens up as it sits in the glass.

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Tartine’s Champagne Gelee With Strawberries

A Jell-O for adults only.

A Jell-O for adults only.

 

When sommeliers and Champagne producers admonish people to drink bubbly more often rather than just for the most special of occasions, they probably didn’t have this in mind.

In fact, when a publicist sent me a sample of the Taittinger Prestige Rosé, I was almost afraid of telling her how I planned to enjoy it.

Yes, in a grown-up version of Jell-O.

But when I spied the beautiful and super easy recipe in the new “Tartine All Day: Modern Recipes For The Home Cook” (Lorena Jones Books/Ten Speed Press), I couldn’t hep but want to try it.

TartineAllDay

The cookbook, of which I received a review copy, is by Elisabeth Prueitt, co-founder with her husband Chad Robertson of San Francisco’s beloved Tartine Bakery and Tartine Manufactory.

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Kuvee — A New Way To Enjoy Wine At Home (Sponsored Post)

Introducing the Kuvee wine system.

Introducing the Kuvee wine system.

 

You might not guess from looks alone, but those bottles above are actually the equivalent of boxed wines. Only in clever bottle format.

Kuvee is a new wine system that not only allows you to open a bottle of wine and keep its contents stable for up to 30 days without oxidation, but to access information about that wine on a computer screen positioned where the wine label would normally be. You can even rate the wine or order more of it with a touch of the screen.

The wine system was founded by serial entrepreneur Vijay Manwani, who has already raised $60 million in venture capital investment for it.

So how does it work?

For $199, you get a Kuvee bottle with four wines, a mix of reds and whites, or only red or only white, if you like.

It's a system that uses specially designed wine bottles.

It’s a system that uses specially designed wine bottles.

Each wine bottle holds the equivalent of a standard 750ml bottle. But these are no ordinary bottles. They’re not glass, but plastic. A hard valve is inserted in the neck of each bottle, explains Michael Meagher, a Master Sommelier on the Kuvee team. The valve closes when the bottle is upright, sealing it airtight. But when the Kuvee bottle is slipped over the wine bottle, the valve is opened, allowing the wine to pour out. Inside each bottle is a collapsible food-grade film bag that holds the wine. As the wine is poured, the bag collapses, just like it would in a boxed wine. Once empty, the wine bottle can be recycled.

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A Visit To Hall Winery

Merlot grapes on the vine at Senza Hotel.

Merlot grapes on the vine at Senza Hotel.

 

Love big, bold Cabs? And big, bold art?

Head to Hall Winery in St. Helena the next time you’re in the Napa Valley.

There, you’ll relish both in the sprawling winery estate created by Kathryn Hall and her husband Craig Hall.

Kathyrn Hall comes from a grape-growing family, as her parents owned vineyards in Mendocino. But it took awhile before she delved into it, herself. After graduating from Hastings Law School and U.C. Berkeley, she embarked on a career as an attorney; worked on Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign; joined Safeway, where she developed one of the nation’s first and largest affirmative action programs; and eventually became the U.S. ambassador to Austria (she’s fluent in French and German).

Along the way, she met and fell in love with Craig Hall, founder of Hall Financial Group, who was equally accomplished, having bought his first apartment complex at age 18 and became a millionaire by the age of 21. At one point, he was the youngest co-owner of the Dallas Cowboys.

After marrying, this power couple decided to move to the Napa Valley to make wine. And what wine it is — garnering more than 170 scores of more than 90 points by noted wine critics.

A tasting of Hall wines.

A tasting of Hall wines.

A comparison of Cabs.

A comparison of Cabs.

The Hallmark Tour ($40, an hour+ in length) is a great way to get acquainted with the winery, as I found out when I was invited as a guest on it recently.

You check in at the host stand, then are given glasses of chilled Sauvignon Blanc as you await the tour to start. It’s a nice way to cool off on a warm summer day in Wine Country, too.

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