Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Industry Notables Who Passed in 2017 (Part 1)

It is time again, to look back on the year and remember those in the alcohol industry who have passed. From wine to whiskey to vineyards and wine writers, we raise a glass in a final Salute!

Debbie Lewis
Debbie Lewis
Napa Valley Vintner Debbie Lewis died in January. She was involved in the wine industry for close to twenty years. Debbie and her husband Randy started Lewis Cellars in 1992. Today, the winery produces 9,000 cases annually of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. In 2016, the winery’s Cabernet Sauvignon won first place in Wine Spectators Top 100 Wines.
Debbie Lewis died January 4, 2017 from cancer. She was 72 years old.

Parker Beam
Parker Beam
Kentucky Master Distiller Emeritus Parker Beam died in January. He had been with Heaven Hill Distillery for more than 50 years. Beam was a six-generation Kentucky distiller and a grandnephew of whiskey legend Jim Beam. Beam began working at Heaven Hill under his father’s guidance in 1960. In 1975, he was promoted to Master Distiller, crafting the company’s premium small batch and single barrel bourbons. Beam was responsible for distilling and aging Evan Williams – the number two selling bourbon in the world, along with other Heaven Hill whiskeys.
Parker Beam died on January 9th following a yearlong battle with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He was 75 years old.

Gérard Colin
Gerard Colin
Chinese wine pioneer Gérard Colin died in early February. Colin traveled to China in the late 1990s, and in 2001 became a consultant for Grace Vineyard. Colin established techniques and developed high standards for wines made in China. He went on assist on a project at Puchang Vineyard in Xinjiang, and has spent the past three years working on a wine marketing project in the Shandong province.
Gérard Colin died on February 9, 2017 at the age of 75.

Dr. Jim Swan
Dr. Jim Swan
Jim Swan was well known in the whiskey world, consulting for distilleries around the globe. His career spanned more than 40 years and included all facets of whiskey production. Dr. Swan consulted and gave advice to new distilleries along with those more established that sought his wisdom and encouragement. He was a champion of quality whiskey making at home in Scotland and around the world.
Jim Swan died suddenly on February 14, 2017. He was 77 years old.

Angelo Papagni
Angelo Papagni
Pioneer wine grape grower Angelo Papagni died at the end of February. Back in 1973, Papagni built a winery and vineyard in Madera, in the San Joaquin Valley of California. There he raised specific grape varieties like Alicante Bouschet, Barbera and Grenache that were at home in the arid conditions of the region. Papagni created quality wines from these regional grapes, which is why he was considered a maverick in wine circles. Papagi was a man ahead of his time, blazing a trail for other California winemakers to follow.
Angelo Papagni died on February 27, 2017 at this home in Fresno, California. he was 95 years old.

Pierce Carson
Pierce Carson
Napa Valley journalist Pierce Carson died in May. Carson began his career at the Napa Register where he worked for fifty years. He began by covering the courts but moved into writing about food, wine and culture as Napa began to develop into a world-class wine destination. Throughout his career, Carson reported on the rise of Napa Valley wines and wineries, and the changes in the industry that time brought.
Pierce Carson died May 20 from gall bladder cancer. He was 76.

Richard Ward
Richard Ward
A champion for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the Napa Valley region has died. Richard Ward a co-founder of Saintsbury winery in Napa died in May. Ward and David Graves founded Saintsbury in 1977 with the intention of making Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes and wines as popular as Cabernet Sauvignon was. Thorough diligence and preservation, the two carved out a niche making outstanding wines from the two little used grapes. In time, Napa Valley embraced the grapes, and Saintsbury Winery fueled a nation-wide interest in both types of wine.
Richard Ward died on May 27, 2017 from complications from a bone marrow transplant. He was 67.

Christopher Silva
Christopher Silva
A fifth-generation Sonoma County resident died in June. Christopher Silva began his career as an L.A. attorney but soon discovered his love for the wine industry. Silva started with St Francis Winery in 1998 as chief operating officer. Silva went on to became president and CEO of St. Francis Winery and Vineyard in 2003. During his 13 years at the helm, he turned St Francis into a wine destination, and achieved the designation of certified sustainable for three vineyards totaling 400 acres by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance. St Francis Winery produces more than 200,000 cases a year, and most of the wines are now distributed around the country.
Christopher Silva died on June 20, 2017 after a two-month battle with brain cancer. He was 52.

Join us again next week as we remember other industry influencers from 2017.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

YOU Are the Gift That Can Keep on Giving

Happy Birthday, Brittany!
This post was originally going to be about great wine gifts, but then Brittany started a page on FaceBook and sent a birthday challenge to her friends. From December 1 to the 20th (her birthday), we were to try and do one act of kindness for someone. ONE during this three week period. Just something nice for someone else. But the group immediately decided that if we could do one nice thing, then why not twenty: one for every day leading up to Brittany's birthday. 

Suddenly the page was buzzing. Everyone was listing their "kindnesses" for the day, and amazingly, each was a perfectly extension of the person doing the deed. It seems that all we needed was a little nudge to act human again. (We're all predisposed to be nice, we're just usually too busy or too preoccupied to see what needs done and do it - so start paying more attention.) 

I decided this was the perfect gift -  to continue Brittany’s challenge of giving the gift of kindness for the holiday season, and then we can just take it on through next year. It doesn’t take much time or money, and there are only three requirements to get you into the giving groove:   

1. Slow down, 2. Breathe deep, and 3. Smile

Start by simply giving something of yourself – words of encouragement, a hand to hold, a hug. See, that was easy. Now you’re ready to branch out into the world. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

At the Office
• Take a coworker coffee.
• Clean out the department fridge, or wash the dishes left in the sink.
• Write a complimentary note and leave it on someone’s desk.
• Invite someone you never talk to out to lunch.
•Write a recommendation and post it on LinkedIn for someone whose work you appreciate.

Out and About
•Hold the door for a group of people.
• Tell someone they are doing a fantastic job.
• Hand out fast food gift cards to the homeless. (Not only will they get a warm meal but they can enjoy it in a warm safe setting.)
• Leave a bucket of snack and drinks out on your porch for delivery people. (They usually don't have time for lunch during the holidays.)
• See someone deal gracefully with a rough situation? Tell them that you admire how they handled the incident.
• Send an anonymous handwritten card to your bank, your favorite winery, that special restaurant telling them how much you appreciate what they do, and be specific: always helpful, great wines, wonderful atmosphere.
Once you start, you’ll be amazed at how many ideas you can come up with. We may live in a world that seems to be on the edge of despair, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up. 
Fight back by being KIND!
Happy Holidays!
~ Joy

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Featherweight "Diet" Wines

Wine drinkers know that cutting back on the vino can help drop pounds. But now no-frills grocery retailer Aldi has an answer for vino lovers on a diet who don't want to nix that drink with dinner – a line of wines called Featherweight. 

The new wine collection offers Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and a White Zinfandel. The company reports that Featherweight was created to answer increased consumer demand for a wine that is lower in alcohol (Only 5.5% APV.) with a lot less calories. (The wines range from 55-59 calories per 4 ounce serving.)

To make sense of those numbers, the average wine has 12% APV and anywhere from 90 to 120 calories per 4 ounce glass. A bottle of Featherweight currently sells for £2.99. (Around $4.00.)
There is a catch, though. The wines are only available in the U.K. at the moment. Aldi spokespeople did not know of a U.S. release date, but would like to know that American consumers are interested in these wines. If you'd like to see the line of wines offered in the U.S., contact the company on FaceBook. When it comes to losing weight and saving money, Featherweight appears to be a wine for both niches.
~ Joy

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Celebrate the Season with a Cabernet from The Devil’s Cellar

Halloween isn’t just for kids! It now ranks as America’s all-time favorite holiday. And 2016 proved to be the most celebrated Halloween ever – more than 171 million Americans (up 14 million from 2015) took part in the festivities. Of those, 34% hosted a Halloween party. Casillero del Diablo is promoting its Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon as the "Official Wine for Halloween" – and why not? With a name like The Devil’s Cellar, this Cab promises to entice every ghoulie and guy at the party.

Underground Cave
But a good ghost story is always appreciated this time of year and Casillero del Diablo comes through. Legend has it that when vineyard owner Don Melchor de Concha y Toro discovered his wines had been stolen from his ancestral home in Chile in the late 1800s, he spread a rumor that his darkest cave was haunted by the Devil himself. This added to the legend that the wines had been stored in hell but were made in heaven. The story spread, and today The Devil’s Cellar is the number one tourist attraction in Chile.

Wine Review:
The Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 pours dark red in the glass with black cherry, chocolate and tobacco on the nose. The wine is medium bodied with good tannins and a nice acidic balance. Cerise, plum and tobacco are on the palate with a hint of chocolate on the finish. Pair with grilled burgers, steak and some chocolate Halloween candies.

The Official Wine of Halloween comes in a HalloWine gift box that adds to the allure. Casillero del Diablo wines have maintained a steady following through the years for offering consumers dependable wines at good prices. Retailing for $11 nationwide, this Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 may be just the trick to make your Halloween guests feel that they’ve been given quite a treat.

~ Joy

My new book The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide is out on bookshelves nationwide. Click here for book information.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A Straight Shooting Whiskey: Bulleit Bourbon Review

The History:
It was 1830 when saloon owner Augustus Bulleit decided to create a whiskey with a unique flavor. Using two-thirds rye and one-third corn, Augustus made a mighty tasty rye whiskey that was popular until his death in 1860. Then, in 1987, Augustus’s great-great grandson, Thomas E. Bulleit, Jr. stepped up to begin crafting his version of Bulleit Bourbon. Bulleit, Jr. used 68% corn, 28% of rye and 4% malted barley in the mash bill for an exceptional flavor. Ten years later, Seagram’s purchased the brand. 

In 1999, Diageo bought the Seagram’s brands and Bulleit Bourbon was produced at Four Roses Distillery. In March of this year, Diageo opened the Bulleit Distillery in Shelby County, Kentucky. Now part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, the Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience is located in the Stitzel-Weller Distillery, five miles from downtown Louisville, Kentucky. 

The Bulleit Bourbon Profile:
Open a bottle of Bulleit Bourbon and you will notice the aromas of vanilla, honey and oak that tempt you to taste. The flavor profile is spicy with vanilla, caramel and hints of wood that trail into a long smoky finish. With a proof of 90% and ABV 45% (alcohol by volume), this bourbon retails for under $50 a bottle.

How to Enjoy:
Bulleit Bourbon is versatile – serve it straight, on the rocks, with water, club soda or ginger ale. The distillery offers tours and tastings from 10am – 4pm Monday, and Wednesday through Saturday. Sunday tours are from 1pm to 4pm. Cost is $10 for adults over 21. Visit Bulleit Bourbon for more information.

Joy Neighbors

My new book The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide is out in bookstores across the country. Click here for more information. (FYI: Goes well with a glass of Bourbon!)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Eight Wines for Rosh Hashanah

The Jewish celebration of Rosh Hashanah begins today at sunset and ends on Friday, the 22nd. The Jewish New Year offers a chance for reflection on the past and hopes for a brighter future. Here are eight Israeli wines to enjoy during the Rosh Hashanah celebration.

Galil Mountain Winery
Galil Mountain produces several wines grown in the highest elevations of the Upper Galilee region along with the Central and northern Golan Heights. Here are a few that are fitting for Rosh Hashanah.

The Galil Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is fermented in stainless steel for six months to bring forth its fruity character. This full-bodied wine pairs well with leg of lamb or a juicy steak. Price point - $16

Galil Mountain Merlot is crafted with heavy berry flavors that pair nicely with burgers or Sambusa. Price point - $15.
Galgal Sangiovese is grown in the central and northern Golan Heights region. The wine is aged in French Oak for 12 months and has a spicy flavor. Serve with pan-roasted chicken and Tabbouleh. Price point - $14.

Golan Heights Winery
Golan Heights Winery is the home of Yarden wines. With conditions similar to Tuscany, the region is known for producing renowned wines. The winery is one of Israel’s leading producers.

Yarden Malbec is grown in Yonatan Springs in the central Golan Heights. The wine is aged for 18 months in French Oak barrels and offers a spicy, berry flavor. Serve with BBQ ribs or spicy sausage. Price point -$33.

Yarden Oden Chardonnay is from the Odem Vineyard in the Northern Golan Heights. The wine is fermented in French oak barrels and aged on the lees for seven months. The wine boasts tropical flavors alone with hints of wood and minerals. It can be aged for up to eight years after harvest. Serve with Roasted Chicken with Sumac and Falafel. Price point - $21.

Blanc de Blancs
Yarden Blanc de Blancs is a sparkling wine crafted from Chardonnay grapes using strict, traditional methods. The grapes are pressed as whole clusters and aged for a minimum of four years with tirage yeast. With delicate notes of tropical fruits and minerals, the wine can age for up to ten years after harvest. Pair with Kanafeh or Baklava. Price point - $31.

Mount Hermon 
The Golan Heights Winery is also home to the Mount Hermon brand. The volcanic soil and cool high-altitude climate creates the perfect conditions for this new wine region in Israel.

Mount Hermon Red is a blend of several Bordeaux-style grapes. Grown in the Golan Heights and Upper Galilee, the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation but is bottled without sterile filtration. Ripe fruit with a hint of herbs makes this wine a great partner for grilled meats. Price point - $12.

Mount Hermon White is grown in the Northern Golan Heights. This blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Semillon is cold fermented to preserve the lively flavors of citrus and green apple. A perfect partner when served with grilled fish. Price point - $12.
~ Joy

My new book The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide is out in bookstores across the country. Click here for more information.