In honor of #InternationalDuckDay, #wines with ‘duck’ in the name

27 Aug

DSC_0630

Who doesn’t love a duck? In the Señorita Vino household, ducks are universal symbols of all that is right in the world. Rubber duckies brighten our bathrooms–and offices–with their cheery yellow livery, and in the years since we’ve been married, Señor J and I have amassed quite a collection of duckie Christmas tree ornaments.

LA Duckie

Imagine my joy last week when I learned that a rubber duckie as tall as a six-story building would lead a flotilla of tall ships into the Port of Los Angeles. Turns out all of LA was jonesin’ for cuteness. Nearly  300,000 Angelenos made the trek to the San Pedro waterfront to catch a glimpse of the gargantuan bath toy. And because we’re Angelenos, traffic was backed up for miles on Sunday, which was supposed to be the duckie’s last day in L.A.

LA Duck w_people

Thankfully, the Los Angeles City Council came down with a serious case of Rubber Duckie Attachment Syndrome and decided to let the little fella stay on through Sept. 6, which includes today, International Duck Day.

In celebration, here’s a roundup of wines named for ducks.

1. Duckhorn – This Napa Valley wine is named for the owners, who have spun off other labels including “Decoy.”

Image courtesy of Duckhorn Vineyards

Image courtesy of Duckhorn Vineyards

 

2. Luis PatoPato means duck in Spanish, but this wine is from Portugal. And it’s the winemaker’s last name. So it’s technically not named after a duck, but he put a duck on the label, so there you go.

th

3. Canard Vineyard – And speaking of foreign languages, canard is French for duck. This Calistoga vineyard produces a Cabernet Sauvignon that’s, uh, just ducky.

10_Estate_Cab

4. Baby Duck – It seems this Canadian sparkling wine is no longer in production. It’s a shame, because I can’t think of a better bottle of bubbly than this to christen the tall ships  in the flotilla led by the ginormous rubber duckie last week.

1123

 

5. Duck Commander – Okay, would you buy wine from these vatos locos?

duck-dynasty

Exactly. But that didn’t stop them from making Duck Commander. It should, however, stop you from smearing GI Joe paint all over your face and getting your own reality series.

Duck Commander

 

6. Lucky Duck Wine – Amazing things happen when you do a search for wines named after ducks. It turns out Walmart sells this wine with a most fortuitous moniker, which comes in five different varietals, including Malbec. Now say this in your best Donald Duck voice: Who knew?

lucky-duck-wine

7. André Cold Duck Sparkling Wine – Let’s not forget this little piece of American winemaking history. Born in Detroit in the late 1930s, Cold Duck flew away to New York the 1970s–and resurfaced in South Africa nearly four decades later as 5th Avenue Cold Duck.

85000007471

 

So there you have it, chicas y chicos. Aren’t you glad to know winemakers all over the world share an appreciation for our adorable little feathered friends? And aren’t you also glad that there’s a rubber duckie for every occasion, including Fraternity Rush Week at your local college campus?

 

"Which way to Delta Tau Chi?"

“Which way to Delta Tau Chi?”

¡Salud!

#LA’s only #Latino-owned #winery

23 Aug

Darlings, it’s been a crazy week, so I’m sharing an oldie but a goodie. Here’s a post on LA’s only Latino-owned winery. Now you know that you really can go wine tasting in L.A. ¡Salud!

About an hour’s drive north of downtown Los Angeles, the radio signal in my car begins to fade. Minutes later as I exit the 5 freeway at Agua Dulce Canyon Road, a country western station pipes in crystal clear.

The twangy guitar and folksy melody provide a fitting soundtrack for the winding country roads that lead to Reyes Winery, the only Latino-owned winery in Los Angeles County, and one of a few wineries 45 minutes away from the heart of downtown L.A.

DSC_1588

Robert Reyes, winemaker and general manager, warmly welcomes me and a crew from ABC-7, who are here to do a segment on Señorita Vino for their Sunday morning television program, Vista LA [NOTE: the show aired Nov. 17, but if you're in L.A. County, you might catch a re-broadcast in the late evening or early morning].

DSC_1599

Besides making wine, Reyes, a native of the Dominican Republic, paints and scuba dives. Yet this Renaissance man’s passion for wine stems not from idyllic trips to Europe’s wine regions, but from a beloved aunt.

“I’ve loved wine since I was a kid in the Dominican Republic,” Reyes says. “My 92-year-old aunt would visit us in Santo Domingo and she’d bring a bottle of her homemade fruit wine. As kids, we’d get a taste.”

Reyes was smitten, and as an adult, he started making his own version of his aunt’s fruity concoction.

DSC_1607

What started as a passion developed into a serious interest, and Reyes began schooling himself in the art of winemaking by reading books. He also consulted other winemakers and took courses at UC Davis, which has a world-renowned viticulture and enology program.

He planted the first vineyard at Reyes Winery in 2004, and harvested a small crop the next year. Today, the boutique winery produces 3,500 cases annually from five varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and Muscat.

On display in the tasting room are Reyes’ own paintings of the vineyard and scenes evocative of his homeland. Also visible are some of the awards his wines have garnered.

DSC_1637

“Our wines have been on the market for the past two-and-a-half years, and in that time we’ve earned medals in every competition we’ve entered,” Reyes notes. To date, the winery has won 29 medals.

Despite the honors, Reyes remains grounded. And he’s quick to dismiss wine snobbery. “There are a lot of people out there who, for whatever reason, have this attitude about wine knowledge,” he says. “If you taste a wine and like it, then it doesn’t matter what anyone else says about it.”

When asked about wine consumption among Latinos, Reyes observes that Hispanics are definitely upping their wine drinking. He attributes the increase to the fact that Latinos are becoming more affluent as they integrate into American culture.

Vines are planted on 16 acres of land.

Vines are planted on 16 acres of land.

“Where we once worked in the fields, we now have the means to be able to make wine and especially drink wine,” states Reyes. “It’s a social phenomenon that we’re all participating in.”

Reyes Winery. 10262 Sierra Highway, Agua Dulce, Calif. 91390. (661) 268-1865. Open for tastings Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Book a tasting and winery tour at www.reyeswinery.com.

 

Humor is the best medicine. RIP Robin Williams.

12 Aug

This post is a departure from my usual wine-related content, and I hope you’ll bear with me. As you know, yesterday the world lost one of its most brilliant comedic minds.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Robin Williams first beamed into my family’s living room on the “Mork and Mindy” show. At the time, I was an awkward sixth grader, trying to establish a sense of identity in the not-always-kind world of middle school.  For my brother and me, the Mork character was the embodiment of our own quirky sense of humor, a fellow geek trying to find where he fit in his surroundings.

As I grew, so did Williams’ influence. His portrayal of John Irving’s character, Garp, brought a high school reading assignment, “The World According to Garp,” to life. In college, his role in “Good Morning Vietnam” shed a little light on the war that, for decades, was brushed under the rug. As a writer and literature major, “Dead Poet’s Society” struck a chord. In my early thirties, seemingly stuck on the dating merry-go-round, Williams seemed to be speaking to me, as well as Matt Damon, on how to find that ever-elusive love in “Good Will Hunting.”

I leave you with a quote that I hope touches your heart as much as it does mine. A toast to the man who could make me laugh, even in the darkest times.

“You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”

- Robin Williams (1951-2014)

 

6 tips for storing wine

8 Aug

Where does the time go, chicas y chicos? Hard to believe it’s the weekend, but GADQEV (that’s Spanish for TGIF).

Lots has happened this week, including yours truly being accepted into a (gasp!) part-time M.B.A. program, which starts in (gulp!) three weeks. I promise I’ll continue posting about The Wonderful World of Vino, since I have a feeling I’ll be needing mucho vino to get through the economics and financial analysis classes.

After: No more chaos!

But enough about me–let’s talk about you. Specifically, your wine storage habits. Don’t worry–I won’t tell that you’re storing your wine in the spare bathroom shower stall. My latest article for TheLatinKitchen.com features six easy tips for storing your wine. Check it out here–and happy cellaring!

¡Salud!

Cool off with white #wines from Argentina and Spain

1 Aug

Feliz Friday, chicas y chicos! For your summer heatwave pleasure, I’d like to introduce you to some cool white wines from Spain and Argentina.

It’s all here in one of my most recent articles  for Latina magazine’s amazing food and wine website, TheLatinKitchen.com

¡Salud, and here’s to the weekend!

DSC_0513

Get on the bus: The road to Bien Nacido Vineyards #WBC14

24 Jul

The first time I boarded a school bus, I was a five-year-old kindergartener toting a thermos full of orange juice. My biggest mistake was sitting next to a boy, not knowing that girls and boys had to sit on opposite sides of the bus. I thought he was cute. He thought I had cooties.

The last time I boarded a school bus was two weeks ago. This time, I am a wine blogger of–ahem–a certain age, toting a wineglass full of rosé.  My biggest mistake was sitting in the back–right next to the stripper pole.

Bien Nacido Bus

Yes, Virginia–that is a stripper pole.

This is how the Friday night excursion at Wine Bloggers Conference 2014 began. I and 30 other bloggers boarded the Stripper Pole School Bus with no idea where we were going until the bus engine started. Our destination: Bien Nacido Vineyards in the Santa Maria Valley AVA.

DSC_1726

Once there, we were transferred to the “CHOOL BUS,” the official mode of transportation at Bien Nacido. We were chauffeured away in primary-school comfort to the Z Block, home to some of the finest Syrah vines in the region and voted one of the top 25 vineyards in the world.

DSC_1698

Get on the “Chool” bus.

Nicholas Miller, vice president of sales and marketing for The Thornhill Companies, the umbrella company that owns Bien Nacido Vineyards, noted that 100- and 90-point wines come from grapes grown in Z Block (a block is a section of the vineyard). For the record, ‘bien nacido’ means well-born, and the grapes born in Bien Nacido grow up to be made into some of California’s best wines.

Don't' worry, you won't go to the principal's office for drinking on this school bus.

Don’t’ worry, you won’t go to the principal’s office for drinking on this school bus.

Bien Nacido Vineyards is not open to the public, nor do they have a tasting room. They grow grapes for clients including Hitching Post, Au Bon Climat, Qupé, Foxen and Longoria. Besides Syrah, Bien Nacido also grows Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir, among other wine grapes.

Very young Syrah grapes from Z Block.

Very young Syrah grapes from Z Block.

After winding up a gentle slope, the Chool Bus stopped on a perch with a view of some of the 600-plus acres of vines at Bien Nacido. Free to wander around the vineyards, we selfied away with the grapes, the view, and each other, while Gray Hartley, winemaker for Hitching Post Wines, poured Foxen Chardonnay, made from grapes grown on the property.

Gary Hartley poses for a close-up of Foxen Chardonnay.

Gray Hartley poses for a close-up of Foxen Chardonnay.

Traipsing through the vines at Z Block was a religious experience, and like most religious experiences, this one left me famished. We boarded the bus again, making our way to the property’s historic adobe, built by Don Juan Pacifico Ontiveros in 1857. A five-second history lesson: Ontiveros bought the ranch from his father-in-law, Tomas Olivera, who first received the property as a land grant from Spain. Fast-forward to 1969, and that’s when the Miller family bought the property.

For dinner, we were treated to a traditional, Santa Barbara-style barbecue with grilled vegetables and what felt like an endless supply of world-class wines. By the way, don’t ask me to define “traditional Santa Barbara-style barbecue.” I’m sure they explained it, but by then I was having a religious experience of the one-glass-too-many kind.

DSC_1728

Dinner on the adobe patio.

Yes, there were dump buckets. But if you were offered a pour from a magnum of 1997 Hitching Post Highliner Pinot Noir,  not only would you drink all of it, you might be inclined to lick the inside of your glass. Don’t worry – I didn’t. I just got another pour.

DSC_1754

Turns out sitting by the stripper pole was not a mistake after all. Out of the 30 bloggers, not a one cozied up to it on the bus ride back to our hotel. Maybe it’s because we were all in a post-vino lull. Or maybe we’re just too well-born for that kind of thing.

 

DSC_1708

 

If you can’t drink wine, write about it. #WBC14

19 Jul

It’s Saturday night, and my wineglass is empty. Thanks to an ornery throat bug, I’m on antibiotics, so this week’s post is not about vino. Instead, I will steal this opportunity to share what I learned about the craft of writing last weekend at Wine Bloggers Conference 2014.

WineLaptop

Among the bountiful array of topics about everything that wine blogging entails, writing tends to get short shrift. Not this year. I was fortunate to attend a special writing workshop moderated by a panel of three prominent wine writers: Steve Heimoff, James Conaway and Mike Dunn. Along with 44 other brave souls, I submitted a piece of work in advance for critique by the three journalists.

Here are five things I learned:

1 . Don’t even think about writing a wine review. Why? Because it takes years and years of tasting and writing to be able to craft a fair yet engaging assessment that, to quote Heimoff, doesn’t sound like “a Princess Cruises brochure.”  (No offense, Princess Cruises. I have yet to sail the seas on one of your majestic vessels, but I probably just blew my chances of ever getting invited on a press trip).

2. Learn how to use a comma. It sounds basic, but in Dunn’s opinion (should I have put a comma after ‘but?’), most college graduates don’t know how.

3. Avoid these words at all costs. Breathtaking, enchanting, delightful, intriguing, thrilling, fantastic. Terrific list, no?

4. Speaking of lists, don’t use them. “List-ese,” says Conaway, can cause you to lose readers. (The irony is not lost on me that this post is a list. I hope you’re still there).

5. Humor generally doesn’t work, so don’t even try. This is where I get to issue a huge apology, chicas y chicos, for all of my past feeble attempts at making wine sound funny.

Oh, one last thing. If you really want to put people off, make your wine writing all about you. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go take an antibiotic.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,923 other followers

%d bloggers like this: