Food & Drink

Russ Winton: Wine List

Liberating the redheaded maiden

The redheaded maiden is back. Yes, back to the proper supermarket shelf. She’s now among friends with similar taste, style and price. This is where she started 13 years ago. Her development, which many said was too rushed, caused her to be exiled to those bottom shelves of the wine wall. And there she sat, a damsel in distress. For a long time. And then came the Wine Hooligans.

Russ Winton: Wine List

Three serious sipping events

There are plenty of wine events in May to consider. Here are three, and if I could, I would go to all of them. I’ve written about these festivals before, so I’ll cut to the quick and give just a brief summary of each.

Russ Winton: Wine List

Wente Vineyards celebrates

Wente Vineyards, the country’s oldest continuously operated, family-owned winery is celebrating its 135th anniversary this year. The Livermore winery is well known for industry-wide contributions to innovation, sustainability and hospitality. Carolyn Wente, fourth generation winegrower and CEO stated “while honoring the rich history of the 100 percent estate-grown vineyards we also are celebrating the fifth generation who are leading Wente Vineyards into the future.”

Russ Winton: Wine List

Gold medal bargains

Wine is not complicated. All you have to do is find a wine that you like, at a price you can afford and drink it. That’s it. However, if you want to learn more about wine, you need to taste more and that can get pretty expensive. Here’s a suggestion, go to www.winejudging.com and click on the 2018 San Francisco Wine Competition medal winners.

Russ Winton: Wine List

Keep it simple

In 2007, I wrote five mission statements to remind me to always keep this column consumer friendly. In summarizing a recent public wine presentation, I could only remember four (age?). I was so embarrassed. I told the Navigator that will never happen again. So now, I am down to three. Here they are:

Russ Winton: Wine List

2017: Taj Mahal was nice, but wine in Yosemite took the win

This is my last Wine Line column for 2017. It’s been quite a year, starting with a trip to India in January and ending with the Grand Grape Celebration in Yosemite in December. Talk about contrasts. Our 17-day trip to India was definitely a journey. The Taj Mahal was incredible and if you like riding elephants, you should go. The Navigator likes to hear me say that because she really wanted to go and I really, really didn’t. So we compromised. I gave in but got the next three travel picks. Yes!

Russ Winton: Wine List

Thanksgiving wines made easy

The Navigator never worries about Turkey Day. She prepares the traditional Thanksgiving meal. With years of practice, she has perfected her craft, for which I give thanks. Wines for Gobble Day should be a no-brainer as well. Find a wine that you like, at a price you can afford and enjoy it. Trust your palate and drink what you like, period.

Russ Winton: Wine List

Celebrate International Tempranillo Day

In 2011, a wine group, called TAPAS, decided that every year, the second Thursday of November would be designated as International Tempranillo Day. TAPAS is short for Tempranillo Advocates, Producers and Amigos Society. The word “tapas” also refers to small plates of food served in Spain. Where do you think Tempranillo is numero uno? Yes! Spain.

Russ Winton: Wine List

A call for wine country relief

The Navigator set a new standard. She booked round-trip air to Calgary, rented a car for 12 days, reserved rooms in Banff and Jasper and we drove through the beautiful awe inspiring Canadian Rockies. We then headed southwest to Lake Okanagan, British Columbia, for three days of, you guessed it, wine tasting. All trips should have some sort of a wine theme. However, the trip was marred on our return flight. Our plane flew over the wildfires of Napa and Sonoma. We witnessed white smoke billowing up from the orange-red flames of the fires spread as far as we could see. As I write this, the fires are not fully contained but there is hope for rain. If you would like to help the evacuees here are two to websites to consider.

Russ Winton: Wine List

Affordable medal winning wines

I get a bit giddy when results of a major wine tasting are released, I can’t help it. Forty-eight elite wine tasters judged nearly 3,000 wines in the 2017 Sunset Magazine International Wine Competition. Results of the silver, gold and best of class winning wines are listed in the October issue. My giddiness kicks in when I see wines I’ve selected in this column take home some of the hardware.

Russ Winton: Wine List

Oenological thoughts and odd lots

In my last column I shared some of the comments I’ve received in the 10 years of writing “Wine Line.” I wish I could have printed all of them but I really would like to keep this job as a wine columnist. I do make a point of responding, so if you have something to say, ask or accuse me of, don’t hesitate. It lets me know at least someone is actually reading the column.

Russ Winton: Wine List

September a month to celebrate wine, Wine Line

There are wine celebrations everywhere. September is California Wine Month. Also, Wine Line celebrates 10 years. The Navigator and I will pop a good value, readily available, under $20 bottle of bubbly. We will toast to those 240 printed columns filled with winey thoughts and words. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading Wine Line as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Wine Line will always be a consumer-friendly column. If by chance my wine-isms become too pinkie-waving-snooty-tooty, please let me know. Here are a few comments from readers I’ve enjoyed over these 10 years.

Russ Winton: Wine List

A passport to Santa Cruz wineries

Last year I wrote about the passport program in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I said it was one of the best wine tasting deals. It features over 50 wineries, is offered four times a year and is good for two years. On the third Saturday of January, April, July and November, passport holders are welcomed at participating wineries throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains. I must have really sold the program because relatives gave the Navigator and me passports for Christmas. Which makes me think, I’ll start putting my Christmas wish list in “Wine Line” every year.

Russ Winton: Wine List

Turlock’s Dust Bowl celebrates

Dust Bowl Brewing Company produced its first beer in May of 2009 with two employees, the owner and the brewer. Within a short time they opened the Dust Bowl Taproom in downtown Turlock. With a great location, outstanding food and an expanded portfolio of craft beers, the taproom became an immediate success. The cool words then buzzing around Turlock were “Hops of Wrath” and “Oakie Nachos.” Demand seemed to be nudging in on supply so expansion became a necessity. The new Dust Bowl Brewery, on Fulkerth Road, opened last July 18.

Russ Winton: Wine List

Anderson Valley: Pinot perfect

Our first visit to Anderson Valley was in the late 1970s. I had to pull the car over. The Navigator was car sick. The squealing tires should have been my clue. I drove the speed limit through Boonville, Philo and Navarro and then realized we were in one of the most beautiful wine regions in California. We stopped, did some tasting and discovered bone dry Alsace style wines. Our hosts were friendly and helpful with tons of information and most notably, no glitzy pinkie-waving crowds or snootiness. We loved it and still do.

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Monica Velez