Russ Winton: Wine List

Russ Winton: Wine List

November in Yosemite, priceless

Anytime in Yosemite is priceless, but in the fall it’s special. There are no crowds, no traffic jams or food lines. Consider the beautiful fall colors, the crisp clean air, the amazing wines from four California wineries and toss in a gala five-course dinner and you have The Grand Grape Celebration. We love Yosemite and this event, held in the Grand Majestic Hotel, is one of our favorites.

Russ Winton: Wine List

California wine month

It’s time to celebrate! September is California Wine Month. California makes a significant contribution to the state and the nation by providing quality jobs and bolstering the economy through hospitality, taxes and tourism.

Russ Winton: Wine List

Zinfandel Fan? Check Out ZAP

I like zinfandel wine, especially California Zinfandel. I wouldn’t say I was a zinphomaniac or anything like that, but when I fire up the barbie, it’s my go-to red. It pairs well with ribs, chicken, lamb, a juicy rib-eye and marinara sauced pasta. Zin’s typical flavors and aromas are of blackberry, raspberry, boysenberry and cherry, laced with black pepper, cloves, anise and herbs. It’s grown in all of California’s appellations and expresses the essence of each region. It can be made in a blush style or picked early to make a light, spicy berry-flavored red or harvested later to produce a full-bodied rich wine. Zinfandel, in my opinion, is the best value red wine in the marketplace. Your favorite zin will be based on where it’s grown, the altitude, the clone used, the age of the vines, the sugar at harvest, weather conditions, vineyard maintenance, the yeast and fermentation process, oak barrels used and the winemakers’ whims. There are excellent zinfandels sale priced under $15 (see below) and many 90-plus pointers in the $20 range. What red wines are that complex, at that price? Such a deal.

Russ Winton: Wine List

A taste of Lodi

The Navigator (for some readers, I am referring to my partner, not an SUV) said she was feeling a bit “cabin bound” and needed an outing. I suggested a wine walk in downtown Lodi. She nodded approval and off we went. Lodi now has about 15 tasting rooms, three breweries and more than a dozen restaurants, all within four city blocks. It is more tasting than walking. Here are a few basic suggestions for a rehab day in Lodi.

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!

Merced clinches CCC championship

Merced defeats Atwater 60-19 to clinch CCC championship. Bears senior Dhameer Warren throws three touchdowns and runs for two more scores.