2016 Rkatsitelli Wine Spotlight from Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery

Still can’t wrap my head around how awesome this wine grape variety is! The Rkatsitelli grape was widely planted in Eastern Europe and is considered one of the oldest known grape varieties in the world. Planted in the country of Georgia in 300 B.C. The name means “red horn” in Georgian. This wine from Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery is super delicious! The vines were planted in the 60’s, the wine was fermented in stainless steel, with partial MLF. It was very bright with complex acidity, crisp mouth feel, and pleasant minerality. If you are ever in the finger lakes or see this in the package store, seriously suggest picking it up! #sorryformywinenerdrant #ithadtobedone

A Little History About the Winery:

4th generation owned, Meaghan Frank is taking over her family’s winery. Wooohoo for more ladies in wine! The Winery was established in 1962 by Dr. Konstantin Frank – a refugee from Ukrain who came to NY during World War II. His father was from Germany and managed a small winery in Ukrain, so he grew up working in the wine industry. When he came to America he spoke 9 languages but no English. However, he was eventually able to learn enough English to communicate his wine desires. He planted his first grape vines in 1958 on Keuka Lake and never looked back!

Why Are The Wines so great?

Well there are 11 total lakes in the Finger Lakes Region and they have many different soil types due to the glacial impact of the last Ice Age. For example the Shale Acidic Soil creates a good mineralogy in a Dry Rieslings and lends itself to the cool climate hearty grape varieties. This is a big reason why Riesling really excels in the region. Then they have Limestone where Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are often planted. These grapes truly excel there, especially with the lake effect combination. The lakes cool the region and in winter and warm it up in the summer which allows them to produce top quality Vinifera.

Visiting The Winery:

At Dr. Konstantin Frank they always offer free tastings for their guests. This is because they are off the beaten path on Cayuga Lake and think that since you’ve journeyed that far, you deserve some free wine 🙂 They have an International Winemaking Team
consisting of winemakers from South Africa, Australia, Germany, and California. This gives them the ability to create 30 wines for their portfolio including a line of sparkling wines. When you visit, sit back, relax, and enjoy your wine with a side of awesome East Coast history.

Location:  9749 Middle Rd, Hammondsport, NY 14840

Schedule A Tasting: Advance Reservations and booking payment are required for all groups of 12 or more. Groups of 12 or more will be charged with a non-refundable fee of $5 per person and will get to keep their Dr. Frank logo glass. Please call 800-320-0735 for a reservation. Cancellations must be made up to a week in advance otherwise reservations are non refundable.

Make sure you make the trip to the Finger Lakes and Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery!

Paradise Hills Vineyard & Winery Wine & Tapas Pairing Dinner at Pacífico Restaurant in New Haven, CT

I am a BIG fan of the Paradise Hills Vineyard & Winery (as you’ve probably already noticed). They are an amazing family bringing delicious wines to their community. It’s not uncommon for you to see the newest addition to the family, Marcelo Jr, running around the tasting room greeting customers. You’ll probably also spy their very own winery dog Otis greeting patrons while they take in the vineyard sites. So when I heard about their wine and food pairing dinner I knew I had to check it out.

When you walk into Pacífico restaurant you are surrounded by an instant glow of chill, beautiful, Latino vibes. From the decor to the menu you are transported to another world that encourages you to relax and enjoy the Pacífico experience.

Everyone who attended the event was greeted by winery owners Margaret and Marcelo. Margaret’s father is one of the original founders of Paradise Hills. It was great to see the next generation taking a commanding role in the winemaking and winery business. They both took the time to come over and speak to each table about the food and wine they were being served. And the pairings were amazing!

First we started off with a “Ceviche de Atun” – Yellowfin tuna ceviche, mango, pineapple, red onions, and citrus juices. This course was paired with their 2015 Washington Trail White Wine, an estate grown Chardonnay and Seyval Blanc blend. The combination of the ceviche and wine evoked bright flavors on your palate – a refreshing and tantalizing way to start off the wine and food pairing dinner.

The second course was a Pork Tenderloin with sugar cane skewers and roasted corn chimichurri paired with the Nostra Tradizione. The Nostra Tradizione is one of my all time favorites! The pork and wine worked perfectly together thanks to a little bit of extra spice on the palate with notes of strawberry and cherry. This wine can definitely handle a bold dish.

The third course was a Pan Seared Sea Bass perched atop a mound of couscous, with sweet plantains, roasted pepper, orange, and coconut jalepeno ginger mojo. This was paired with their 2016 Sauvignon Blanc –  which *Spoiler Alert* –  is a limited edition vintage released on April 25th! Make sure to get your hands on this wine before it’s too late. The Sauvignon Blanc is like summer in a glass, and paired with the sea bass was knock out of a combination. Talk about bright citrus flavors merging with a little spice and salt. Super delicious.

The forth course was a Grilled Skirt Steak with yucca fries and aji amarillo chimichurri paired with the 2015 President’s Choice – a Bordeaux Style Red Wine. My goodness was this awesome! The President’s choice is the Winemaker’s Private Blend (not even some of the family know what is in the blend!). Accompanied by the steak, the flavor explosion in your mouth was insane. Blackberry, currants, black cherry, and cedar woke up your palate. This wine was definitely worth the wait.

The fifth and final course consisted of a Passion Fruit Flan and Paradise’s 2015 Connecticut Cayuga White Wine. Another bold pairing of flavor. The passion fruit was ignited even more by the bright citrus and crisp acidity of the estate-grown Cayuga. An insanely delicious dessert pairing.

I couldn’t get over how well everything was paired and how each course pairing got better and better. It was clear that both Paradise Hills and Pacífico Restaurant took a lot of time to make sure every course and wine complimented each other perfectly. I want to give a big Thank You to Margaret and Marcelo of Paradise Hills Vineyard & Winery and Pacífico Restaurant for putting on this amazing event. I can’t wait to see what next year’s event will have in store for us!

Also, I want to give a shout out to Manny Vargas Photography for providing the incredible photos. He really captured the amazing ambiance and atmosphere.

Winery: Paradise Hills Vineyard & Winery (Visit)

Location: 15 Wind Swept Hill Rd, Wallingford, CT, 06492

Tasting Hours: Monday-Saturday: 11am-8pm and Sunday: 11am-6pm. Please call to set up private/group tastings (Info)

Tasting Options: Tastings are $10/person for 6 pre-selected wines or $15.00/person for 6 pre-selected wines and a logo’d glass.

Purchase Wines from the Event: HERE

Event Location: Pacífico Restaurant (Visit)

Experience Paradise Vineyards & Winery:

When you visit Paradise Vineyards you are greeted by friendly tasting room representatives and a delicious list of 6 wines to enjoy. Most of the tasting room staff either works in the vineyard or in the winery. They are very fun and knowledgeable. No matter if you are new to wine or consider yourself a connoisseur you can always learn something new while enjoying a great glass of wine at Paradise Vineyards!

The tasting room is cozy and inviting. There is a roaring fireplace in the winter time you can snuggle up to, or when the weather is warmer you can  sit out on their patio overlooking the vines.

PS- Check out more more photos from the event below and more information about Paradise Hills Vineyard & Winery! Cheers! 🙂

Winemaker Interview: Southern Connecticut Wine Company (#SoConnWineCo)

In this week’s “Winemaker Interview,” Amanda talks about how she created Connecticut’s 1st Micro Winery and her love of winemaking.

Winemaker: Amanda Brackett of Southern Connecticut Wine Company (Visit)

Location: 65 S. Colony Street in Wallingford, Connecticut 06492

Tasting Hours: Thursday – Sunday, Thursday – Friday from 3:00-8:00PM, Saturday Noon-6:00PM,  Sunday – Noon-4:00PM

Tasting Options: Enjoy the Casual Elegance of SoConn

Why did you become a winemaker?

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I had no idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up and never thought that someone would actually pay me to make wine. I’ve always had a love for the art behind wine, but my background is in business. When my husband and I moved to Connecticut, he encouraged me to find a job that was going to make me happy. I knew I didn’t want to suit up and punch a clock. Wine made me happy. It sounds simple, but I enjoy every aspect of wine. Making it keeps me creative, correcting faults keeps me learning and innovative, drinking it keeps me social and selling it keeps my husband happy.

How long have you been making wine for?

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Professionally, five years. I’ve been playing around with fermentation for as long as I can remember. I remember being little in my grandmother’s kitchen. Her sister’s had come to visit from Canada and they pulled all of the grapes off of the vines that my grandmother had growing in the yard. They crushed them and then used cheese cloth to separate the juice from the skins. Not a huge yield, but they made a rose with Concord grapes. I remember lining up the 7-Up bottles and holding the funnel while they filled each ¾ of the way. Then, tightening the caps and moving them to the pantry. A couple days later all of the bottles exploded. The caps had been tightened too much and the gasses had no way of escaping… Fermentation lesson #1.

How were you introduced to winemaking in Connecticut?

I actually answered a Craigslist ad when I moved to CT for a bookkeeper position for a construction company. The owner said that he was going to start a small winery and I didn’t give him a choice in hiring me. I’m a terrible bookkeeper so thank God I could make wine.

What are the biggest challenges for a winemaker in Connecticut?

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For me, it was the law. Connecticut currently only has a license for Farm Wineries. Since I don’t grow grapes, they had a difficult time classifying what I do. It took a while to get to this point, but The Southern Connecticut Wine Company is Connecticut’s first and only micro-winery.

Tell us about your harvest process..

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It starts with a trip to the grocery store where I purchase all of the El Monte microwave breakfast burritos in the freezer section. I stock up on coffee, waffles, hot sauce and vodka. I don’t grow so my pre harvest prep is making sure that I’ve ordered grapes (Christina, I’ll get that to you today, I promise), make sure I have all of the yeasts, nutrients and other products that I need for each blend on hand. Then I start power washing EVERYTHING. Harvest is a magical time where I become a maniac who has zero interest in anything else unless it’s fermenting. It’s a systematic, controlled chaos. This harvest I’m gearing up to make 23 different types of wines in the 2000 square feet of wine production space. Red’s ferment in the main production area while whites and roses are moved into a back office so the temperature can be dropped. Fermentation tubs, barrels, tanks, finished wine.. Everything is constantly being moved around. Harvest is a by any means necessary attitude with all hands on deck.

How does your wine making approach differ from other winemakers?

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I love blending. Creating big red blends has become my niche. Throughout the year I’ll experiment with new combinations and use friends and family as guinea pigs. By the time harvest rolls around, I’ll have a game plan for at least one new blend. I’m not limited by region or growing my own product, so really, the sky is the limit as far as sourcing. I enjoy creating something crazy and different. If someone says “you shouldn’t do that”, I’m going to at least try it.

What is your general winemaking philosophy?

Make good wine and make wine that I would want to drink.

How do you know you’ve got a good vintage?

Repeat customers are a sure sign of a good vintage.

Are there any new winemaking techniques or tools you’d like to experiment with?

I would really like to try barrel fermentation. I’ve never been able to do that because of space constraints. I would also like to make an orange wine, but my husband won’t let me bury clay fermentation vessels in our backyard. I really have a laundry list of things that I want to try… carbonic maceration, sparkling, kegging wine.. just to list a few. It would also be pretty awesome to learn how to recoop barrels. We all need an activity in the down months.

Which wine growing region has had the most influence on you?

I’m partial to the Central Coast (California). I grew up on the Monterey Peninsula and that’s where I was first exposed to the wine industry. I grew up tagging along with my mom to all of the local vineyards in the Carmel Valley AVA.

What is one aspect of your job that might surprise people?

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I love it when someone asks what I do when I’m not crushing. The amount of time that goes into nurturing and working the wine surprises people. It’s not just a “set it and forget it” product. It’s very easy to make bad wine if you’re not paying attention. But, by that token, most faulted wine is able to be corrected…and if it’s too far gone, just throw some fruit in and make sangria.

Another aspect that surprises people is the comradely that the winemakers in the state have. Making good wine is easy if you have a network of people with different expertise. It’s more of a cooperative effort rather than a competitive environment. We support each other.

What do you like best about your job?

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I love creating something so unique and personal to share. I love getting messy. I love learning. There is always a new product, a new technique. I especially love being able to share this with my family. My son has been coming to the winery with me since he’s been a week old. One day I hope that he and I will be making wine, side by side.

What is your favorite wine that you’ve made and what makes it your favorite?

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My favorite wine is the wine that I made for my husband. We call it the Bawstin Blend, on account of his thick Boston accent. When he and I first started dating, he pretended that he was really into wine.. Low and behold, he used every wine app available on his phone and googled while we were at restaurants so that he could keep the conversation going about whatever he ordered, and he was ordering some fantastic wines!

He “confessed” that he didn’t like wine like five or six years after we started dating. He said he just couldn’t keep up the charade anymore. It was pretty awesome that he went through so much trouble to impress me in the early years, so we deconstructed a bunch of wines and figured out what characteristics he didn’t like in a wine. Then we constructed a crazy California red blend for him that isn’t too tannic or heavily oaked.

Who are your favorite winemakers and why?

There are so many! I think Isabelle Simi was positively badass. She took over her father’s vineyard and winery when she was 18, found prohibition loopholes and navigated the success of Simi through the Great Depression. Brandon Allen of SLO Down Wines is amazing. His wine, Sexual Chocolate, is one of my go-tos. Brandon was one of my favorite beer pong partners in college when we all use to drink Natty Ice and hang out in my garage. John Saunders of Boëté in Carmel Valley, CA produces one of my favorite Cab Francs, hands down. It’s a family owned and operated vineyard that produces small batch Cab and Cab Franc. He’s a super detail oriented winemaker and it definitely shows in the product.

Is beer ever better than wine?

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There comes a point in the season when anything is better than wine… even water. Usually during harvest you’ll find me drinking beer.. Unless something has broken. In that case, I drink vodka. Lot’s of vodka.

 

Also, check out Cru Podcast’s most recent interview of Amanda – Finding Your Happy with Amanda Brackett. In this episode Amanda and Chappy of Cru converse about her passion for winemaking and how she became a winemaker in Connecticut to how she is working to teach more and more people about wine. She also shares the challenges she has had to overcome not only with government regulation, but the simple fact of her being a female business owner and winemaker. A great listen!

Until next time. Cheers Wine Lovers!

Happy National Zinfandel Day!

Happy National Zinfandel Day! Enjoying some 2014 “Mischeivous” Lodi Zin from Macchia Wines. The wine has a lovely smoky-cigar nose with notes of blueberry and blackberry on the palate. A Medium bodied wine, it is very well balanced especially for it’s 15.7% alcohol content. Hope you are able to enjoy a delicious Zinfandel today! Cheers!

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Here are few ideas on how You can celebrate National Zinfandel Day via ZinfandelEvents.com. Cheers! 🙂

1. Share a Bottle with Your Friends
2. Visit a Tasting Room or Wine Bar
3. Explore Zinfandel’s Food Pairing Abilities
4. Visit a Zinfandel Winery
5. Get Social with #ZinDay

 

#ThrowBackThursday – Suisun Valley Sauv Blanc

As harvest comes to an end I find myself missing the vineyards. Harvest is fast and furious with crazy ups and downs. I wouldn’t miss a minute of it no matter how grueling or stressful, but I do enjoy some chill vibes. We had our last delivery of Suisun Valley grapes to Hartford, CT and I can’t help but think about the great times at Wooden Valley Winery in Suisun Valley. Suisun Valley is a fantastic up and coming wine region just outside of Napa. They are well known for their interesting wine varieties such as Petite Sirah and Cabernet Clone 169.

A few months back my friends and I had a little down time and were able to enjoy some Sauvignon Blanc at Wooden Valley. The Sauvignon Blanc was incredible. Delicious notes of guava, tangerine, and lemon. The wine was easy to drink and had a balanced finish. An easy and tasty drinker no matter what time of year.

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img_7156      Purchase HERE {only $16.00!!}

Wooden Valley – Known for their Sweet Whites, Sauvignon Blanc, Petite Sirah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Enjoy a tasting of 5 wines of your choosing. The friendly tasting room staff is happy to help you pair the wines to your palate preferences. Enjoy a glass or bottle of wine out on the patio or visit for one of our Food Truck Fridays. {walk ins welcome}

Tasting Room Hours: 11:00AM – 5:00PM Everyday (closed for specific holidays)

Tastings: Walk Ins Welcome

Tasting Fee: $10.00 to taste 5 wines, the fee is refundable if you purchase a bottle of wine

Tours: By Appointment

Location: 4756 Suisun Valley Rd, Suisun Valley, CA 94534

After a few glasses of SB we decided to take few pictures out in the vineyard. It was such a beautiful day we couldn’t resist!

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Wearing:

Top: Tobi 

Necklace: BlogShop SF gift bag

Skirt: JCrew Outlet

Shoes: Justfab.com

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Cheers!