I love wine and birds … along with friends and family … and many other things, but for this day I was focusing on birds and wine.
I was visiting Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico to see geese, sandhill cranes and whatever other birds were there. Since I needed a place to camp for the night I checked in at a Harvest Host location: Black’s Smuggler Winery about an hour north of the wildlife refuge.
Bird watching followed by a wine tasting and meeting local people at the winery — great ways to spend a day … I loved it! Tony and Mary Ann Black grow and produce their wines. I appreciated their hospitality. People loved their cranberry wine. I liked the Painted Lady.
After a good night’s sleep, I was back to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. However, be aware there are many other places to see wildlife between the winery and Bosque. New Mexico is doing a great job attracting birds along Interstate 25! Have time to visit? Check out the various places and certainly do not miss Bosque del Apache NWR!
Often we pride ourselves on how much we know about a particular topic and go on to prove it to others. More humbling than that, I believe, is when one takes time to listen and learn something new! We do not know it all and when we take time to listen we may discover how little we know about a particular topic.
Recently I watched a zoom webinar presented by Benovia Winery. Let’s just say I love their wines! What struck me while watching it though was how little I knew about goats and cows and the world of making cheeses! Lisa Gottreich, founder of Bohemian Creamery in Sebastopol California, was the guest during this webinar and you quickly discover Lisa knows all about cheese-making and she loves her goats!
Who knew about natural/traditional or bloomy rinds? Or the number of gallons of milk to make pounds of cheese, the temperature and humidity best for aging the cheeses, orthe perfect time to buy and eat fresh cheeses? And why you’ll really love the cheese flavors when you take them out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes prior to eating them? Benovia’s winemaker asked wonderful questions of Lisa throughout the webinar and I realized this was a huge learning opportunity for me. The Chardonnay and Pinot noir wines were perfect for the bloomy rind of the Bodacious goat cheese, the hard and traditional rind of the ShredHead cow cheese and the soft Flower Power cow cheese with pollen on its rind. I have been selective in what rinds I eat, but I now understand many people eat them all. Even with choices of cheese, some people like cow cheese and not goat cheese; I am a fan of both! This morning I took a small piece of goat cheese to taste while it was cold … yup, having it warm-up and a bit gooey is absolutely the best way to eat it and really taste the cheese flavor! Live and learn!
Benovia Winery is at 3339 Hartman Road, Santa Rosa, California. Bohemian Creamery is at 7380 Occidental Road, Sebastopol, California. Benovia Winery and Bohemian Creamery have similar challenges: current pandemic, possible drought and wildfire concerns, but they continue to provide us with quality products and service. If you can, support these businesses and learn about wine-making and cheese-making! Discover and learn something new! Who doesn’t love a chunk of cheese and a glass of wine!?! Okay, if not you, then send someone who does a gift … let’s support our local businesses.
Wine and cooking!?! Yes! Our most recent and truly different virtual wine tasting was led by individuals associated with Benovia Winery, located in Santa Rosa, California. David, an employee, and Austin, a chef, lead us through the making of wild mushroom risotto and the wine tasting. The package we bought included, 2 Benovia wines: a chardonnay and a pinot noir, plus all the fixings to cook risotto! Yes, they included the olive oil, truffle butter, dried wild mushrooms, grated pecorino romano cheese, a spice (seasoning) blend, and carnaroli rice.
While David talked with us about the chardonnay we were tasting, Austin also had us heating our stock and sautéing the first ingredients for the risotto. At various points of the virtual activity we were looking into each others cooking pans to see how our risotto was coming along. Once the risotto was cooked, we also heard from David about the pinot noir we were enjoying with our meal. (Others were also cooking scallops or steak and having the risotto as a side dish, but for us it was our meal.)
Benovia Winery has held local catered events in Arizona, pre-pandemic. They were always an enjoyable time to taste wines and meet fellow wine club members. Hopefully those activities will return when we are back to a normal world. In the meantime, wine can be ordered on-line at benoviawinery.com
If you followed my four virtual wine tasting posts, it is very interesting how businesses have promoted their products and interactions with buyers through Zoom. Part of me hopes there will be continued activities such as these because it is not always possible to get to a winery. Time will tell.
Here we go again with another virtual wine tasting, but with our friends and our own coordinated Zoom time! Claiborne & Churchill Winery, located in San Luis Obispo, California, had a different twist on the idea of virtual tastings and offered a “Blind Tasting Challenge”. We received 3 “mystery” bottles of white wines, or you could choose the red wine package, wrapped individually so we could not see the name of the wine. Five tasting note cards were provided. As we tasted each wine we could see if the notes helped us determine the type of wine.
The fun part was inviting friends from around the country to buy a white wine package and join us on a future zoom call we arranged when everyone was available. A bit of coordination was needed as we were across 3 different time zones. We sipped wine, talked about the aroma, flavor, and mouthfeel of each wine to the best of our ability, and solved answers to wine trivia questions so we were sure to talk about other things too. It was fun and at best 2 of 3 wines were determined correctly by a couple of people.
Maybe we will do the red wine mystery package next??
If you are visiting near San Luis Obispo or the oceanfront town of Pismo Beach, you are close to this Edna Valley winery or check out their website: claibornechurchill.com and enjoy their wines!
Another fun virtual wine tasting was with Pedroncelli Winery which is located in Geyserville, California. I think this was the first winery where we became club members. We discovered this winery years ago while road bicycling in the area and have enjoyed dinner in their barrel-room in the past. Oh, when will we be back to pre-pandemic days!?
Pedroncelli’s virtual wine tasting package was an Italian feast! It included three different cheeses, see photo below, a box of crackers, Molinari salami, 5 bottles of wine and a bottle of vintage port. Sips of different wines while enjoying the cheese was fun. So was eating some salami, something I usually never eat. We were drinking and eating left-overs for a few weeks!
Even if we cannot visit Pedroncelli Winery, we know their wines are available at pedroncelli.com If you are in northern California, stop and check out their wines!
Which wine will you have today? Are you ready to celebrate National Pinot Noir Day? A glass of wine is part of my daily routine with special attention this week to the national celebration on August 18, 2020, National Pinot Noir Day.
Unfortunately, no wine-country travel happening for me at the moment, but I have plenty of memories in discovering wine, specifically pinot noir!
Many years ago our travel brought us through California’s Dry Creek Valley area for road bicycling and we stopped at various wineries and tasting rooms. When we asked about pinot noir, one place directed us to Kokomo Winery. So down the road we went to discover this place which was only a very small tasting room. It was a new place in 2004, sort of discovering itself, so when we asked more specifically about pinot noir they recommended Papapietro Perry. Across the parking lot was Papapietro Perry that had a pinot noir, full bodied and twice the price. At that time it was difficult to imagine paying the price, so we limited ourselves to our budget. We returned other times to partake in a wine and food pairing at Papapietro Perry and now we do purchase Kokomo and Papapietro Perry wines!
A few years later we decided it was time to only focus on pinot noir wines as we did not know much about them compared to us having the old vine zinfandel wine drunk most often. When in wine country it is easy to drink and think all are delicious. But when focused on one wine and learning where the grapes are grown for a pinot noir it helped us choose what we enjoyed most.
We drove along the coast of California and Anderson Valley where we discovered Handley Cellars Winery and only tasted pinot noir. Fantastic wine tasting opportunity for us. Milla Handley was the first woman winemaker to open a winery in her own name in California and unfortunately she recently died due to Covid-19.
Another trip we visited a Russian River Valley winery called Benovia. Founded in 2005, the various estate vineyards each have distinct-tasting pinot noirs. We had a private tasting and the land is beautiful as we someday hope to stay at the guest cottage available on the land.
We now purchase the pinot noir wines from the four wineries with each having a different price point. Higher priced wine does not always mean it is the better tasting wine! Dependent on the year, the weather, the vineyard, the food eaten with the wine and whatever else, all the wines are enjoyed throughout the year which is one of the things I really enjoy about pinot noir wines!
Are you ready to celebrate National Pinot Noir Day on August 18, 2020? Get ready to celebrate!