Category Archives: Wine

Whole Journeys Cites International Food Festivals

Travel offshoot of natural food market lists five faves.

globeWhole Journeys, a travel branch of Whole Foods, just sent out a list of five compelling international food festivals. There’s not one that doesn’t make me want to whip out my credit card, make a reservation and go. I actually have been to the Food and Wine Class at Aspen several times, but alas, not recently. At any rate here’s the Whole Journeys list, several of which are over for this year, but there’s always 015:

  • Alacati,  Turkey. Festival of Wild Greens along the Izmir Coast. A contest involves who can gather the largest variety of  wild greens and who prepare the best recipe with them. Sounds like an event from the fertile mine of a Turkish Rene Rezapi.    It also includes concerts, races, a large farmers market and outdoor stalls selling food and crafts from Izmir.
  • Motovun, Croatia. Teran & Truffle Festival (TETA). Local winemakers who produce traditional Istrian Teran wines gather with top chefs and truffle hunters during the harvest season to feature truffle dishes.
  • Carnivale in Italy. Whole Journeys directed readers to a blog post written by Carol Sicbaldi, a Whole Foods operations manager who resides in Italy. She notes that during February towns all over Italy celebrate Carnival, “a few weeks traditionally devoted to enjoyment, pleasure and naughtiness in the period preceding the austerity of Lent. ” In the US, this period culminates with Mardi Gras.
  • Logroño, Spain’s Basque Country. Riojan Harvest Festival during which people pay homage to San Mateo, patron saint of Logroño. Young people wearing traditional dress stomp the grapes and offer the first grape juice of the season to the Virgen de la      Valvanera. Village ceremonies include Herri Kirolak, Basque rural sports that I’d never heard of, includ stone carrying and wood chopping competitions
  • Cusco, Peru. Corpus Christi Festival,  Villagers carry statues of 15 saints  for  many days to the Cathedral in Cusco.  On the eve of the main day of Corpus Christ,i twelve typical dishes including cuy, chiriuchu, huatia and chichi or prepared to represent the 12 Apostles. They do not contain meat in honor of Christ’s passion, though I don’t understand how cuy, which is guinea pig, can be meatless.
  • Aspen, Colorado. Aspen Food and Wine Classic attracts people in the food industry such as top chefs, international and domestic wine makers, cheese mongers and others, plus well-heeled foodies who are all passionate about food and wine.

Cross-posted to www.culinary-colorado.com.

Chaffee County’s “ERIES” Provide Varied Experiences

Not a misspelling of Halloween-like “eeries,” but a list central Colorado attractions

Photo by Steve Garufi (www.ColoradoGuy.com )

I tip my hat to people who notice “things” and cleverly play with words. My friend April Prout-Ralph did just that on behalf of the Chaffee County Visitors Bureau.  She assembled a list of “eries” (which she dubs ERIES) in the area that calls itself “the Heart of the Rockies.” Whether her communiqué intentionally came jshortly before the most eerie holiday on the calendar, she did point out that the new and old “ERIES” create the heart and soul of Chaffee County communities. Here’s her list:

  • GallERIES. The Salida area has always been known for an abundance of artist owned galleries. More than 20 artist owned galleries line the streets in Historic Downtown Salida. These galleries have become the center of the newly designated “Creative District” anointed by Govenor Hickenlooper this past fall. Downtown Buena Vista and South Main are also bustling with a half dozen Galleries of their own.
  • EatERIES. Eateries abound at all ends of the county. Salida, Buena Vista, Poncha Springs and Nathrop have more than 50 eateries. The varieties of food range from pizza to bakeries to fast food, tasting rooms, hot dogs stands, burgers, sandwiches, breakfast and quick lunches to tapas, Cambodian, Italian, Mexican, American, Island cuisine to exquisite gourmet fare. Salida, Buena Vista and Poncha have welcomed more than 15 new Eateries in the past couple years.
  • BrewERIES. Salida, Buena Vista and Poncha Springs have all welcomed new Breweries this year. The Eddyline on South Main, Buena Vista opened a new tasting room in downtown Buena Vista. The Elevation Brewery in Poncha Springs celebrated their grand opening with Governor Hickenlooper this past May. Historic Downtown Salida sports the newly opened Moolight Brewery, attached to Moonlight Pizza and long-time staple, Amica’s Brewery and Restaurant. Continue reading Chaffee County’s “ERIES” Provide Varied Experiences

Burgundy & Bordeaux Wine Tours This Fall

Old World wine regions are focus of upcoming fall tours

Courtesy BKWine Photography

With so much attention paid nowadays to the  New World wine regions of California, Oregon, British Columbia and the Southern Hemisphere, it’s easy to forget Old World wines — the European regions where viticulture and wine-making as we know it were developed and refined. BKWine Tours, a specialized tour operator run by Swedes and based near Paris, focuses on what can be called Old World wine regions. This fall, they have scheduled short, intensive trips of just four nights and three very full days to two classic French wine travel destinations, Bordeaux and Burgundy.

The Bordeaux tour (October 5-9) takes wine travelers to some of the prestigious chateaux in the world’s most famous wine region. It also takes the wine lover behind the scenes of what they call “the real Bordeaux,” where both the ultra-luxury chateaux and the family owned estates have a place. Part of the focus is on young winemakers who are breathing new energy into this classic region. Each winery visit includes private wine tastings and gastronomic meals served at the chateaux, accompanied by the properties’ own wines.

The Burgundy tour (October 19-23) visits a selection of the top producers in the region, both the big merchants with well-known brands of blended wines and the small, often-family owned wineries that produce on small-production vineyard- and terroir-specific wines. This tour is dedicated to the individual growers and includes extensive tastings of most of the famous appellations in Burgundy, including several Grand Cru wines, the most exclusive of Burgundies. It also includes three gourmet lunches, some as invited guests to the homes of wine producers.

BKWine was founded by Britt and Per Karlsson, well-known wine journalists (she the writer, he the photographer) whose book, The Creation of a Wine, was named the World’s Best Wine Book for Professionals in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2011. Per Karlsson is leading both of these small-group tours — that is, for a maximum of eight people. I think I’m writing a post about them because I wish something on this order were within my budget. The Bordeaux tour is from €1190 per person and the Burgundy tour is from €1075.

BKWine AB, 51 rue du Chevalier de la Barre, F-92130 Issy les Moulineaux, France. The phone number is +33 – 6 80 45 35 70 and Skype to bkwine.

Big Doings in Small Wine Country Town

Renewed Town Plaza to premiere in pocket-size Palisade, the unofficial capital of Grand River wine country

In Europe and in the longer established wine regions of North America, vineyards surround charming towns boasting a few lovely little inns and a handful of terrific local restaurants, cafes and bakeries. Rather than centuries or even decades old, Colorado’s wine industry has mushroomed from virtually nothing to significance in just over 20 years. Of the state’s two American Viticultural Areas, the Grand River AVA centers around the Town of Palisade.

Palisade is stunningly set between the signature Book Cliffs and the soaring Grand Mesa and with the Colorado River (originally called the Grand River) flowing by its doorstep. Surrounded on three sides by orchards and vineyards, it is working hard to retain its agricultural ambiance and also boosting the appeal of the town itself with much-needed visitor-pleasing amenities. The centerpiece is the renewed Town Plaza at Third and Main Streets. The dedication, which is open to the public, will be on Tuesday, April 14, 2009 at 5:00 p.m. and will include live music, food and refreshments.

Town-center improvements include more parking, landscaping, railroad buffering and most importantly, an inviting public gathering place for festivals, events, markets, or just meeting friends. The one-acre Plaza features new trees, shrubs, 15 planting beds, a two-tiered seating wall with a sandstone veneer and improved lighting and electrical service. The Plaza also is the venue for local artist Lyle Nichols’s sculpture “Harley,” to be unveiled May 10, 2009. Eventually, a town clock will be located nearby, thanks to the generosity of the Palisade Lions Club.

Palisade has several appealing bed-and-breakfast inns (A DiVine Thyme, Dreamcatcher, Palisade Wine Valley Inn, The Orchard House and Vistas & Vineyards), an unremarkable motel (the Mesa View) and since last summer, a sizable inn set in the middle of vineyards. The 80-room Colorado Wine Country Inn has more rooms than all the B&B’s combined and provides in-town lodging for visitors attending the town’s myriad special events (see below) or creating their own special events (weddings being a specialty).

Among the upcoming events on the Palisade calendar are the Peach Blossom Art Show (next weekend, April 17-19), the Grand Valley Winery Association’s Spring Barrel Tastings (April 25-26 and Mary 16-17), the Palisade Bike Festival (bicycles, not motorcycles, May 8-10), Palisade Bluegrass & Roots Music Festival (June 23-13), Parade of Roses (May 30-31), the 41st annual Palisade Peach Festival (August 13-16), Ravenshire Renissance & Pirate Faire (August 21-23) and the Colorado Mountain Winefest (September 17-20). For Coloradans and visitors alike, Palisade is easy to reach. It’s right off I-70 and railroad tracks run right through town. Amtrak trains, of course, do not stop in Palisade (the old depot now houses the Peach Street Distillers, which makes vodka and Colorado’s first bourbon in the middle of wine country), but the California Zephyr does serve Grand Junction, just a dozen miles away.

Palisade has scenery that won’t quit, vineyards and wineries, orchards and fruit stands, a handful of neat shops, galleries and eateries, places to stay, easy access and terrific festivials other special events. All it needs now, IMO, is a few more really good restaurants — and locals and visitors to patronize them.

News Flash: NY Times Travels to Colorado Wine Country

Colorado wine country in prestigious newspaper — including some factual slippage

In a New York Times travel feature called “Biking Colorado’s Wine Country,” New York-based wine writer Stefani Jackenthal explores the Palisade region on two wheels. She and a friend spent three days cycling, sipping, dining and B&Bing. I love it when the the prestigious Times focuses attention on Colorado, but why, oh, why does the self-proclaimed “newspaper of record” always get something wrong? The last time was the misleading “36 Hours in Denver” feature with so many off-the-mark facts and suggestions that I blogged it and, more importantly, the Times’ mailbox was loaded with objections and corrections from indignant Coloradans.

The wine country piece, which will appear in Sunday’s Travel Section but is already available online and in Friday papers, is also somewhat off the mark. Jackenthal wrote, “The first contemporary Colorado winery opened in 1968, but it was slow growing; by 1990, there were only four wineries. Eventually, however, the industry took root. Today there are 72 recognized Colorado wineries, according to the Colorado Wines trade group, with more on the way.” Ivancie Winery indeed opened 1968 using non-Colorado grapes but was fairly short-lived. Wineries and vineyards hiccuped into being, and it was two decades before Colorado wineries really were producing wines from Colorado grapes. The trade group is called the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board, more of a mouthful than Colorado Wines but it’s the correct name.

The town of Palisade is described as being “surrounded by the Book Cliffs mountain range and Grand Mesa.” Palisade isn’t surrounded by those two geological features. The Grand Mesa is to the southeast. The Book Cliffs are on the other side of the Colorado River to the north. That leaves the south and west, which are drier than the Mesa and flatter than both. The Book Cliffs are not a mountain range but rather a 60-mile-long escarpment of exposed, eroded sedimentary rock. Wikipedia currently calls them a “mountain range,” which is probably where she found the inaccurate description.

Halka Chronic’s geologically definitive Roadside Geology of Colorado desribes the Book Cliffs as “towering palisades of Mancos shale. This gray shale, yellow where it is leached, contains types of clay that swell when wet and shrink when dry. Such action brings about a loose soil that is so constantly eroding that it won’t support much in the way of vegetation. Where it is not protected by the Mesaverde caprock, the Mancos shale erodes into hump-backed gray and yellow badlands.”

But then again, Jackenthal visited several Colorado wineries, compared their wines to European ones and generally enthused about what she found. So who am I to worry that she’s weak on Colorado geology and that she implies a non-existent continuum between Ivancie’s winery, the real start of the modern Colorado wine industry two decades later and its increasing maturation 20 years after that.

Wine Tasting Shop Possible at DIA

Back in September, I reported that Denver International Airport was looking at new, more upscale concessions. While the notion of yet more chains was dispiriting, the possibility of more (and better) options was encouraging. Little did I know that during that very month, San Francisco-based Taste Inc. opened its first Vino Volo Wine Room at an airport location. What a clever play on words that is. Vino volo is Italian for “wine flight,” a tasting term that is also perfect for airport locations with good wine.

These cozy, comfortable facilities (right) are a combination of wine lounge and restaurant serving small plates, tasting bar and boutique wine retail area. World wines are available by the glass, in small-pour wine flights and by the bottle. All Vino Volo tasting rooms are in post-security areas. Currently, they can be found at Terminal A at Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI), Terminal A at Sacramento International Airport (SMF), the Central Terminal Marketplace at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Concourse C at Washington-Dulles Airport (IAD) and new American Airlines Terminal 8 at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). No less than the Wall Street Journal called it “a suave chain of wine bars with first-rate food.”

The Denver Post reported today that the company and Denver International Airport are discussing opening one at DIA too. I certainly hope they come to an agreement. It’s one kind of chain that I wouldn’t mind at all, because while it can’t make the flights any more comfortable, the wait will be more civilized.