September is California Wine Month. With the harvest on, it’s the perfect time to celebrate the diverse, 116 wine-growing regions of California. Created nine years ago, the monthlong celebration continues to grow. Wineries across the state host special tastings, harvest tours, grape stomping, concerts and food-and-wine pairings to honor the state wine industry. To get all the details, go to www.californiawines.com/californiawinemonth.
Nearby, the Madera Vintners’ Association is to host the California Wine Month Reception & Wine Tasting at Birdstone Winery on Sept. 26. Guests can taste wines from the 15 Madera Wine Trail wineries, sample food from area restaurants and food producers, and enjoy live music. Tasters also can participate in the MVA’s People’s Choice Award by voting for their favorite wine of the night. For more information and tickets, go to www.MaderaWineTrail.com.
The South Coast Winery from Temecula won the Golden State Winery of the Year award for the third time. The award is based on the number of medals won in the California State Fair Wine Competition. South Coast Winery won one double gold medal (all judges agreed on gold), five gold, 12 silver and four bronze. The winery also won the award in 2008 and 2009. Congratulations to owner Jim Carter and his two top-notch winemakers Jon McPherson and Javier Flores. Finding South Coast Winery wines isn’t easy, as almost all is sold locally to the millions of people who surround Temecula Valley. But fear not, here are some Northern California wineries that also did very well: Barefoot (2DG/4G/3S/2B), Fetzer (1G/6S/3B), Sutter Home (1G/11S/2B) and Turning Leaf (2G/6S/2B). All make wines priced around $6 or less. The fair judges, made up of winemakers, sommeliers, sales and media folks, taste all the wines blind and therefore are not influenced by labels or prices. Maybe consumers should take note and do the same.
The editor and I continued our sparkling wine research. We opened a bottle on every “blue Monday” from April through June. Of the 12 tasted, three made the cut. First place was a tie between Mumm Napa Brut Rose and Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut, each with 2.5 stars. Both are available at local markets and sale priced under $14. Second place went to Zonin Prosecco with two stars and a best buy at $6.99 at Trader Joe’s. The other nine either paired up with orange juice or found a home in our jug of experimental wine vinegar.
This single-vineyard tempranillo from Spain is full bodied, has flavors of black cherries, plums, pepper and licorice, and subtle tannins. It is $11.89 at Costco and that’s a deal. Cheers!