WBW#80: Four reasons to love “My Derby Wife” Rose by WineGirl Wines

wbw_logoAt the last three wine bloggers conferences, I lucked out both with amazing pre-conference excursions and great conference expeditions as well. In 2010, a small group of us  traveled on a press trip Seattle to Walla Walla and back, tasting along the way. In 2012, on our pre-conference excursion we dined at King Estates then learned about pinot noir with Robin Pffeifer, then went by TRAIN from Eugene to Portland where I was on the infamous #cuffedincarlton bus.

In 2013, I joined the Seattle to Lake Okanagan trip by way of the Lake Chelan AVA and went on the OK Falls hike where I discovered Painted Rock which I wrote about here also. When the announcement that Wine Blogging Wednesday #80 was Dry Rose, I didn’t have to think too hard about which wine I wanted to write about: “My Derby Wife” rose Continue reading

Part 2: Rafters, Mammoth CA & 2 LaRochelle Pinot Noirs

LaRochelleKissIn part one in this series of posts, I review two white wines from Steven Kent Wines, the luscious LaRochelle Chardonnay (pictured) and the lively Lola, a Bordeaux blend, and I wax enthusiastic about Rafters Restaurant, which is one of three restaurants and four bars at the Sierra Nevada Resort in Mammoth Lakes CA.

We were up in Mammoth for a holiday weekend ski trip where I also had a twitter tasting with Steven Kent Wines and Jim Demetriades, owner of Rafters hosted me! And what a gracious host! I was able to use a beautiful side room for the tasting, sommelier Chip Irmish set me up with the correct glasses I’d need as well as a dump bucket, and an ice bucket. Staff brought water, and either Chef Kerry Mechler or various staff brought out the six dishes that chef had chosen to pair with the six wines.

Here in Part 2, I’ll move from the whites on to the Pinot Noirs, one from Carneros and one from Santa Lucia Highlands, near Monterey. (Want to read about the Lola and the Dutton Chard?)

Continue reading

My Whirlwind Tour of Oregon Pinot Noir

How did I get from Idaho and Walla Walla back to California for the Petite Sirah Symposium? By way of some Oregon Pinot Noir of course!

Read on to get a taste and see where I went and what I did; more in depth blog posts to come about my stops in Willamette Valley AVAs including Barrel Fence in the Dundee Hills (pictured) and Coleman Vineyards in the McMinnville AVA (photos below).

After a Whirlwind Tour of Oregon Pinot Noir, Back in California for Petite Sirah! When I last checked in from my road trip, I had arrived on the coast of Oregon following a few days in the Walla Walla AVA (American Viticultural Area) and around Boise (the Snake River AVA)…  Read More

via art predator

Why The Wine Bloggers Conference Scholarship Committee Should Select Me

The. video above gives you a taste of what a Wine Bloggers Conference is like and why I am applying for a scholarship to attend this year’s conference in Walla Walla, Washington where the emphasis on tasting, tours, and education will be on Washington wines. As a Californian who lives near the Santa Barbara wine region, I have access to tasting and purchasing an abundance of excellent California wines. Being near LA, I am also invited to industry events and wine tastings and can learn about wines from other regions.
But there is nothing like a Wine Bloggers Conference to really get to know the wines of the region that is being showcased. In recent weeks, in order to learn more about Washington wines and to write about them in the hopes of winning a ride on the WBC-Or-Bust bus (see the badge on the side bar?), I’ve been trying to find and taste Washington wines and have come up woefully and surprisingly short. Trader Joe’s and Vons offer little in the way of Washington wines (they offer mostly the same ones!), and my favorite wine store, the Ventura Wine Company, carries mostly California wines with only a smattering of wines from other places, and very few from Washington. And I’m not one of those wine bloggers being bombarded with wine samples either!
Even a trip on my own to Washington wouldn’t provide me with anything close to what the Wine Bloggers Conference can do when it comes to tasting a large variety of Washington wines, getting to know the different regions and what they have to offer, meeting the wine makers, and touring the facilities.
So it’s no surprise that the Wine Bloggers Conference sold out on Thursday way before the conference begins in mid-June 2010, and so the scholarship deadline has been moved up too. Learn more about the Wine Bloggers Conference Scholarship here and how you can help send a wine blogger to Washington! More funds are still desperately needed to meet the goal of sending 10 wine bloggers to Walla Walla. Learn more about the Wine Bloggers conference itself here.
Here’s my application about why I want to go and why the committee should select me:
  1. Full Name:
    Gwendolyn Alley
  2. Contact information:
    gwendolynalley AT yahoo DOT com
  3. Blog addresses and what you’re all about:

    Art Predator
    http://artpredator.wordpress.com is my main blog Continue reading

Wine Blogging Weds #61: At the source & drinking the juice–a visit to Old Creek Ranch Winery

WBWlogo Thanks to Wine Blogging Wednesday founder and this month’s host Lenn Thompson of the blog Lenndevours: The New York Cork Report who prompts us this month to visit a winery–to taste and blog about a wine after visiting the source with bonus points for actually tasting with the winemaker.  Here’s the complete story on his blog.

Where should I go? Well, it wasn’t much of a question as I had limited time available. While I am fortunate to have Sideways wine country practiOld Creek Road Winery open 909cally in my backyard, I simply contacted Michael Meagher, winemaker at Old Creek Ranch Winery, which is about 15 minutes away from my home near the beach and Michael invited me over last Friday for when his first load of grapes arrive–viognier!Winemaker MM at OCRW with 2009 Viognier

To hint at what kind of experience I had: I came home happily covered in grape juice, tasted the delish grenache blanc about to be bottled with the winemaker, and brought home the recently bottled but not yet released and not even labeled yet 2008 viognier!!

A little background: Old Creek Ranch Winery, established in 1981, is up Highway 33 on the Old Creek Ranch between the towns of Ojai and Ventura, California on a historic winery site. On the left is a picture of what remains of that winery; in the foreground is the native food plant, narrow-leaf milkweed, for monarch butterfly larva. historic winery now monarch butterfly preserve

According to the Old Creek Ranch  website:

The Ranch is part of a Spanish 22,000 acre land grant awarded to Don Fernando Tico, dating back to the early history of California. In the late 1800’s Antonio Riva of northern Italy purchased the ranch. He was a chef in Paris, London and later in San Francisco. He built a winery on the ranch at that time.

Wines were made without electricity and utilized gravity as a means to move the wine in the processing. Riva produced wine until about 1942, including the prohibition years. Wine purchasers would leave an order and money on the clothesline and would return later to pickup a jug of red wine left at the base of an oak tree.Old Creek Road ends at the winery

My first experience with Old Creek Ranch Winery Continue reading

Murphys Calaveras County is wine country!

Murphys Calaveras County California: think wine, not beer!

So you didn’t know that Murphy’s California is a big name in wine? Check out this article from the Los Angeles Times Travel section for more!

Although the author didn’t mention my favorite Calaveras County winery, Twisted Oak, you can see why this is a fun town to visit! Last time I was there was in 2003 when I gave a featured poetry reading hosted by Nila NorthSun. No wine tasting for me on that trip however–I was 6 months pregnant! We just visited there between skiing Badger Pass and camping in Yosemite and skiing Bear Valley and camping at Calaveras State Park– and I tasted my way through town! More to come on that soon!

In the meantime, see what the LA Times has to say: Murphys rings in St. Patrick’s Day with green wine – Los Angeles Times. which advises that “this town knows how to have a good time, with 18 wine-tasting rooms within a few blocks of one another.”

“You can literally sip wine from one end of town to the other,” says River Klass, who owns two restaurants on Main Street.

“I think Murphys is just a cool little walking, pedestrian-friendly town,” says Dorian Faught, owner of the Murphys Historic Hotel and Restaurant.

The hotel features nine rooms, each named after the famous guests who have stayed there, including Mark Twain, Ulysses S. Grant and Susan B. Anthony. A short walk from elm-lined Main Street is picturesque Murphys Community Park, which has a white gazebo (also with shamrocks on it) and bubbling Murphys Creek running through.

Mission to go Fishin

Day 5: On a mission to go fishin’

Day 5: On a mission to go fishin’ — Middle Fork San Joaquin River, Sierra

The Big Monkey wondered at first what we’d do for more than a day or two down here in Reds Meadow along the San Joaquin River near Devil’s Postpile National Monument. Now he never wants to leave!

Today we hiked from our campsite near the hot springs shower to the store and café to check it out. We’d heard from the PCTers and JMTers that the food in the café was good, especially the homemade pie! The boy wants to go fishing, so we need to get some tackle—maybe a pole, certainly some hooks and bait. Plus we need ice!

The trail to the store area leaves the campsite near the showers, climbs a little, traverses the hillside above the meadow, and crosses two small creeks before dropping to the small cabins and motel rooms available to rent. It’s an easy walk and offers views of the meadow, the granitic outcroppings, and lots of wildflowers beside, below, and above the trail including one of my favorites, leopard lilies, a striking orange spire against the green backdrop.

The store sells the usual back country goods—cold beer, ice, Continue reading

Clos du Bois chardonnay: change of pace

Day 4: PCT Through Hiking & Reds Meadow

After a leisurely breakfast of delicious french toast made with raison walnut bread from Schat’s famous bakery in Bishop (the secret of great French toast is to use exceptional bread, one egg per person, equal amounts milk plus a tablespoon or two, and soak for a long time!), we headed north along Highway 395 toward Reds Meadow Campground near the ski area of Mammoth.

We’re anxious about getting a campsite since this is such a popular summer destination for hiking, fishing and sightseeing so following a quick resupply at the huge upscale Vons in Mammoth, we climb to 9,000 Minarets Pass which will take us from the east side of the sierra to the west. Continue reading

RBJ Theologicum 2000: almost as good as the 2001!

Day 3: Hot Springs Connoisseur

Day 3: Keough’s Hot Springs, 7 miles south of Bishop just off Highway 395, Eastern Sierra, California

Someone recently tried to convince me that I am a wine connoisseur. No—not yet anyway! A connoisseur to me means someone experienced, knowledgeable, an expert of sorts. I would admit to being a connoisseur of life, of exceptional places, and a few others things..but not yet wine.

Hot springs of the American west? Of that I am a connoisseur. I have tasted, experienced, evaluated, judged, tested the waters, and the soul of hot springs all over the western US and beyond Continue reading

2005 Dead Letter Office shiraz: worth finding

DAY 2: Grandviews from this Dead Letter Office

Day 2: White Mountains, Inyo National Forest, Eastern California

After an easy oatmeal breakfast with coffee and exceptionally delicious treats from the Alabama HIlls Cafe and Hard Rock Legends bakery in Lone Pine (a croissant and even better a Danish made with locally grown fresh peaches), the boys play more ball and I dive back into Mysore yoga challenges with Barbara Henning (You, Me and the Insects). She’s plagued by bugs and heat; here we have no pestering insects and the temperature is perfect. My life is calm while she is learning how to manuever a scooter in crazy traffic…(has a car gone by yet today? Maybe one or two?) She is surrounded by hordes of people and no one she knows; the two people I love best are laughing and playing together. We can’t see or hear another human; there is no one else within miles.

Too soon, we pack up and continue to Schulman Grove. Random patches of wildflowers including various purple and violet penstamen delight us, and soon we’re at the Visitor Center. The Ranger on duty has been there 18 years; my first visit there was 20 years ago when I was on a college environmental studies field quarter with ecologists Dr. Kenneth Norris and Dr. Stephen Gleissmann. There was no visitor center or much information then; now it is a lovely space, a log cabin with windows and light and a wood burning stove for the plentiful cold days, especially in early season, around Memorial Day, when the days are cold and the popular 4 mile long Methusalah trail still has snow on it.

We spread peanut butter and jelly on bread and head up the Bristlecone cabin trail, a new trail built within the last 5 years. The trees may not be that “old” along this part of the trail (maybe a few hundred or a thousand not like the 3-4,000 year old trees on the other side of the mountain), but the child is excited about seeing the old cabins and the mine remnants and that motivates him to keep moving under the hot sun. Continue reading

Bollinger & RBJ Theologicum 2001: Pine Mtn campout

Pine Mountain to Rincon Beach

They predicted a heat wave for this May weekend and since the road and campgrounds at Pine Mountain summit in the Los Padres National Forest CA just opened for the season, Friday night we climbed up from the coast up and up and up highway 33 past the Ojai Valley and up and up and up past Rose Valley and up and up along Sespe creek and up and up and up to Pine Mtn Summit at 6,000 and then up the rough but periodically paved Pine Mountain road and up past snow patches and up to 6 site Pine Mtn campground and 6 site Reyes Peak Campground to nestle for the night in the big ponderosa pines, big enough to encircle your arms and hold tight, bury your nose in for a whiff of rich vanilla, yellow, blue and purple lupine, periwinkle phacelia, orange wallflower, green grasses…

As the sun faded from the sky, Kathy popped a bottle of Bollinger champagne–crisp and balanced with fine spray of delicate bubbles–which we enjoyed with cold artichokes and mayo while we heated up already baked potatoes to enjoy with perfectly beautifully little filet mignons…and an RBJ theologicum 2001, a blend of grenache and mourverde, not too heavy, but just right for the night…

Lots of waxing moon (full Monday night) to light our way to explore the boulders on the ridge, enough light to see to the sea…pancake breakfast and lazy morning in the pines exploring and bouldering, view gazing, reading and writing a poem too.

Then down down down to the other end of the watershed to spend the night at the boy’s preschool with his friends and then the day at the beach…

Of course, living here by the beach, it’s rarely hot–even now, when everyone else in socal is roasting, we have all the windows and doors wide open and cool breezes swim through the house and it’s heaven here with corn on the barbecue, a cold Fat Tire in hand, and the house finches celebrating the hatching of their second clutch in the nest on the heart shaped wreath on our front door…

Welcome to Wine Predator!

I’m the Wine Predator aka the Art Predator and I will be your guide to stalking, finding, and slurping delightful affordable and drinkable wines!

I love to travel, camp, and eat and drink well, and I will share my adventures in dining and drinking and  unusual places! Some of these posts I will import from one of my other blogs, Art Predator.

I’m no wine snob–merely someone who loves wine and writing, and who wants to learn more about wine while writing about it. My wine posts will cover some beginning basics and help us all grow to enjoy wine with more sensitivity and sophistication. I especially love good deals on great wines!

Bring on your questions! If I don’t know the answer, I wil find it!