Alfio Moriconi is Total Wine & More’s Vice President of European Imports and Sales, and he has been in the wine business for over half a century – first as a retailer, then as an importer. Alfio has traveled frequently and extensively to Europe in search of small, family-owned wine producers in France and Italy. You can find Alfio’s gems at your local Total Wine under the “Alfio Moriconi Selection” section, and you can also find his name on the labels of some of the wines we carry. The Alfio Moriconi Selection represents the top picks of over 40 years of Alfio tasting thousands of wines, selected and presented as nothing but the finest.
We caught up with Alfio recently during a business trip to Tuscany. Over the next few days, we will follow Alfio as he travels through Tuscany, bringing you some of the highlights from his trip so that you can learn more about this famous wine region and its producers. As Alfio would say “if you’re not drinking wine at least once a day – you’re not living life!”
And with this, Total Wine is proud to present the Alfio “Bowtie Diaries”!
Bowtie Diaries – DAY 1: Chianti Rufina
We met up with Alfio at the Florence International Airport with his briefcase in hand ready to take on Tuscany. Usually seen with his signature fashion trademark, a bowtie or cravatta, he surprised us with his casual look, sans bowtie. With the 40°C heat wave (that’s over 100°F) in Tuscany, apparently fashion doesn’t always come first – but don’t worry, he still had on his sports coat!
Our first stop was Castello del Trebbio in Chianti Rufina,a small region just northeast of Florence. Anna Mira Baj-Macario, the owner of Castello del Trebbio (known to locals as “Anna with the Castle”), welcomed us to her beautiful 12th-century estate with an amazing Tuscan feast! Anna Mira and her family have dedicated years to refurbishing the castle where they currently live and to producing an amazing Chianti on the grounds in the surrounding valleys. For lunch we had a saffron and peach risotto, followed by a chicken roulade (chicken, prosciutto, egg and sage) and tiramisu for dessert.
We ended the day visiting Maurizio Masi at Cantina Bellini, to check-up on an order that was just put together to ship to our stores. Maurizio is the latest generation of Bellini family members to run Cantina Bellini, which makes the Bellini Chianti and Il Pozzo Chianti found in our Tuscany section. After our long travel day from the States to Florence, we were ready for bed and resting up for our trip tomorrow to Montalcino! Buona Notte!
So I left the team on Saturday and had a packed day of visiting wineries on my own! During the meet and greet Monday night I made some great connections with some of the producers who kindly invited me to come back at the end of the week to visit and learn more about them. This day was much more my pace – only four wineries to visit. The agenda: Blankiet & Kapcsandy in Yountville, Hestan in Wooden Valley and finally Jemrose in Bennett Valley. The whole mission of this day was for it to be a scouting trip for some upcoming video shoots. (Look for those here on our blog in the upcoming months!)
On my way out to the first stop I picked up my good friend Michael, fellow wine connoisseur and expert on the Napa Valley wine region, to keep me company and be my guide.
First stop was at Blankiet and the owner, Claude, was patiently waiting for us when we arrived at the winery. I forgot how traffic can be on a Saturday so we were a little late. I had been here once before and as before, I was stunned with his facility. His quest for perfection and nothing less was evident in his facility. He has fermentation tanks tailored to each block of his property and beautiful caves. It was so clean you could practically eat off the floor – not that I would attempt to! We got to walk in the vineyards, visit his tasting room and spend some time with Claude. I’m really looking forward to this shoot, truly one of the greats in Napa Valley.
Then it was off to Kapcsandy to visit with Lou. Lou owns one of the most well-known vineyards in Napa, State Lane. For those that don’t know, this was one of the key components in the Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon for many years. Lou actually owns several 9 litre bottles of the original 1976 Beringer State Lane single vineyard!
As with Blankiet, Kapcsandy was all about perfection both in the cultivation and in the winemaking process. Lou gave us a great tour of his facility and vineyards. After setting the tone with his amazing sorting equipment and describing the process of selection, it was no surprise that the wines were amazing. He broke down his vineyard into specific blocks using NASA to actually plot out the proper height of the vines to protect his precious fruit! Being here for harvest next month will be an amazing experience.
We also got to peek into his wine cellar which was truly one of the most amazing collections I’ve seen. He showed off a few of his most prized bottles, including a 1905 Lafite which is over 100 years old and I’m betting still amazing. Look for a video in the future with Lou and his cellar! Also, check out the Kapscandy story. It was truly an amazing journey for this family and a lesson on how to succeed in the land of opportunity with hard work and determination.
Next we went out to Hestan in Wooden Valley. The plan was to take a look at the vineyards with the vineyard manager Angel and look for some good spots to film. We got more than we thought we would, including some quality time with owner Stanley Cheng who was at home in is house that overlooks the vineyards.
He was an extremely gracious host whose passion for wine and his specific vineyards were evident throughout the visit. We also had the chance to walk through his cellar as well, another amazing collection. It is one of the most scenic vineyard sites I have ever visited.
The final stop was to visit to visit Jim Mack at Jemrose. Jim is the owner of one of the greatest vineyards in California for Syrah, Cardiac Hill. He took us on a tour of the vineyards, pointing out each of the single varietal wines by vineyard. Let me tell you, looking at the Cardiac Hill Vineyard, I have a better understanding of how it earned its name. After the vineyard tour, Jim took us into his “man cave” for a tasting. As funny as it seems, we hadn’t had a single glass of wine all day up until this point! Jim opened up two vintages of his Syrah (‘06 & ‘09) to compare, his 2010 Viognier, 2007 Grenache and a bottle of the Carlisle 2009 Cardiac Hill.
The 2010 Viognier hit the spot after a hot day in the vineyards and the 2009 Jemrose Cardiac Hill Syrah was as I remembered it the other day, fantastic! Jim gave us the rest of the bottles to take home and finish with dinner, which was a very kind gesture. All the wines were really outstanding, so we definitely accepted them with great pleasure.
Claude, Lou, Stanley and Jim – Thanks for your gracious hospitality! Stay tuned in the next couple of months to see video from this outstanding tour of Napa Valley.
We had a little later start to the day … 8:30am on the bus. Today’s agenda: Bevan & Jemrose in Santa Rosa, Martin Ray in Russian River, DeLoach in Russian River, Fritz in Dry Creek and Truett Hurst in Dry Creek. This change in pace should be fun; from Cabernet and Merlot based wines to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel!
Bevan and Jemrose met us at their custom crush facility at 9am. Russell Bevan and Jim Mack met us at the entrance and we started off with the 2011 Jemrose Viognier. We then split up into two groups, one with Russell and the other with Jim. A little background on why these two were together – Jemrose was made by Michael Browne (of Kosta Browne) through the 2010 vintage and from the 2011 vintage moving forward Russell is now the winemaker. This was an interesting tasting. Russell is a character! You can really see the passion and pride for what he does and the wines he makes. He “decanted” his wines in to large plastic pitchers which is funny considering the majority of his wines are $100+ per bottle. Big, extracted wines from Napa, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc based, all of them. He was really excited about his Franc wines and so was the team! Jim Mack was pouring his three reds to the other group – Grenache, Syrah and a red blend of Syrah and Merlot. Jim’s passion for the Rhone varietals was evident. I think the 2009 Syrah gets my vote as best wine of the week thus far! A few words about the custom crush facilities I think is important to know. This is how a LOT of wines are made. The quality of wine made in places like this are every bit as good as those that are made in regular wineries. In fact, this is usually where brands start until they grow big enough to build their own facility.
Then we headed out to Martin Ray Winery in the Russian River Valley. Martin Ray is a really popular brand in our stores, so is Courtney Benham. If you’re reading this and haven’t bought one in our stores yet, you should. Courtney Benham and his brother started Blackstone many years ago, sold it and started up other projects. These wines always represent great value in their respective price-points and the tasting before lunch proved that the upcoming vintages will deliver the same. We had a few great treats here. Courtney Benham was on-hand and had arranged for a barrel maker to come and show us how to make a barrel! It was a really an amazing process. The man who did it was a true professional. Another treat for the folks from the East Coast was the beer. The team at Martin Ray had searched high and low to bring us one of the most sought after beers in the US – Russian River Brewing Company’s Pliny the Elder. There wasn’t just a few of them, there was plenty to go around. Cameras and phones were out to take pictures of the fabled beer. Lunch was fabulous. There was Tri-Tip Steak to pair with the Martin Ray Cabernets. Courtney Benham and his team treated us like royalty. It was a great visit.
DeLoach Vineyards was the next stop, about 3 miles away but still in the Russian River Valley. We were given a tour of the gardens and taught about what biodynamic farming is by both the winemaker and assistant winemaker. They were a super low key and easy going team, jeans and tee shirt type folks, which made the staff feel right at home asking questions. We then went into the tasting room and of course, tasted some wine! We ran through the Sonoma Cuvee and DeLoach lines of Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. All were excellent wines. In between the Chard’s and Pinots they challenged our wine knowledge with a little quiz. That has to be the hardest 5 question Burgundy quiz I’ve ever taken! They sent us on our way with a San Francisco Favorite, It’s-It ice cream sandwiches! If you don’t know what that is, it’s the best chocolate or vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two oatmeal cookies and dipped in chocolate. Just what the doctor ordered on this hot day!
We then headed off to Dry Creek Valley to Fritz Winery. The entire winery in underground and they had set up individual tasting stations for several producers from the area. We had the opportunity to taste all the Fritz wines, Bella, Kachina, Jenner, Puccioni and Lost Canyon wines. We were welcomed in the tasting room, given a glass and put to work. The owners from each winery were behind their tables and excited to teach our team why their wines are special. They were all super friendly folks.
The final stop of the day was at Truett Hurst Winery, about 10 minutes away from Fritz in the heart of Dry Creek Valley. The brothers welcomed us with their Rose and Sauvignon Blanc. I was standing in the tasting room listening to what I though was a CD until I stepped outside into the gardens to see that they had brought in a band to play for us! It was nice easy going Hawaiian style music paired with a great crisp Rose. I couldn’t ask for anything more except … a whole pig roasting on a spit, which was part of our meal! It was another fabulous feast with fantastic folks, a great way to close out a hard day’s work tasting wine.
We began today at Beaucanon at the foot of Atlas Peak, then to Yountville for quick visits to Jessup/Lloyd Cellars & Avenel, Titus in Calistoga for lunch, Del Bondio in Rutherford and then finished the day with dinner at the top of the Pritchard Hill at Chappellet! What a promising and packed day.
We started out at 9am at Beaucanon Estate in the vineyards with owner and winemaker Louis De Coninck as our host. He discussed in depth the different clones of Cabernet, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. These are some of the best value wines that can truly be aged but are fantastic upon release. This is a very small family run business. Louis, his wife and his sister served the wines and shared their knowledge of the Napa Valley and their products.
Then it was a back on the bus for a quick trip to Yountville. Jessup and Lloyd Cellars share a tasting room one block from the French Laundry. Robert Lloyd was our host and did not disappoint. He poured us his 2011 Chardonnay in a very unique way … out of a one gallon jug! He even went through the hassle of labeling it, totally funny. Jessup was great as well. I really enjoyed their Cabernet Sauvignon.
Avenel is produced by Girard so we walked from Jessup to there, a REALLY long walk … like right across the street. Pat Roney, owner of Girard was on hand, along with his winemaker to share the wines of Avenel. We were the first people to taste the Avenel 2011 Chardonnay which is still in barrel. First vintage, first to taste – let me tell you its good to be first. It will be in our stores January of 2013. The 2010 Cabernet was outstanding as well.
We then headed up the Silverado Trail to Calistoga for lunch at Titus Vineyards. Our hosts were Eric and Philip Titus. Eric is in charge of the vineyard management and marketing portion of the business and Philip makes the wine. On a day that was supposed to eclipse 100 degrees these two did their homework. They came out to the sight the day prior at the exact time we were going to be there to see where the sun was going to be to make sure that we got good shade. This is one of my favorite spots in the valley. They always serve up classic CA BBQ, great wine and great beer!
Next we went down the valley in southern Rutherford to Del Bondio. The winery is located on the border of Rutherford and Oakville right in the center of the valley, some prime real estate. The Del Bondio’s have owned their vineyards for over 100 years and up until recently they were selling all their fruit. They have built a custom crush facility on the property which we visited. We received a great education on the history of the Rutherford and Oakville appellations. I think the staff took some really valuable information to share with our customers back in their stores.
The final stop of the day was to Chappellet Vineyards on the top of Pritchard Hill, some of the most spectacular views in the valley. The winery overlooks Lake Hennessey with a view of the valley from the eastern hillsides. We started at Don and Molly Chappellet’s house above the winery. They led us under a tree that was over 400 years old with an incredible view and poured us a glass of Chappellet Chardonnay. Our hosts were more than fantastic. They pulled out all the stops. Molly even came out to talk to us for a little bit! We then moved down to the winery for dinner. Every year this is one of the greatest food experiences. They have used the same caterer, Roland, with the some of the greatest Mexican food I’ve ever eaten! Tonight was no different. I went back for seconds, thirds….well you get the point. We tasted through the entire Sonoma Loeb and Chappellet lines led by Philip Titus the winemaker and the colorful Cyril Chappellet.
Cyril was hilarious, from pushing Philip to keep pace tasting to the wild pictures we got with the team later in night.
Once we got through the tasting Cyril broke out his pride and joy, the margaruter! It is an automated contraption that makes killer Margaritas! There’s a picture on Flickr of what it is, but the principle parts are an igloo water cooler and a garbage disposal … super fun!
I thought the night was done but Cyril wouldn’t let us leave until we finished all the Margaritas.
Then it was off to bed after another day full of fun, delicious food and a delightful assortment of libations.
Bright and early 8am on the bus, off to visit some more great wineries! Today’s agenda: Barnett Vineyard & Philip Togni Vineyard on top of Spring Mountain, lunch at Moone Tsai in Coombsville, Piña in Oakville, Salvestrin Winery in St Helena and dinner at Amici Cellars in Calistoga. A very promising day!
Barnett Vineyards was the first stop, at the very top of Spring Mountain. It was a beautiful morning with stunning views of the valley floor. Usually there is a fog bank that we would be above from there but this morning we missed it. We didn’t miss the great wines though. We tasted Chardonnay from the Sangiacamo Vineyard, two Pinots, their Merlot, Spring Mountain Cabernet, and the superb Rattlesnake Vineyard Cabernet. David Tate was an outstanding host, sharing his story with us – he has traveled the world making wine from Australia to France, finally ending up here in California atop Spring Mountain. The tour of the caves was a real treat.
Then we were off to the famous Philip Togni Vineyards. Philip and his daughter run the vineyards and make the wine. It is a tiny production annually with only 2000 cases produced using 100% estate grown fruit for all the wines. Philip is originally from England and did a lot of wine making in Bordeaux prior to coming to Napa. He’s a bit of a legend in that he was the first winemaker for Chappellet in the late 60’s. We had the opportunity to taste four wines – three of the top tier Philip Togni label, 2008, 2005 and1998. The 1998 was a stunner! This was considered a poor year for California but at 14 years old this wine is just hitting stride. Their dessert wine Ca’Togni was outstanding as well.
The trek to Moone Tsai Vineyards in the Coombsville area was a fun one! We took a little detour along the way because our directions to this very remote spot got us a little lost. We took a right and ended up a private driveway. Let me tell you, turning around a 30+ person bus on a one lane road was entertaining. Then a guy we didn’t know showed up on his 4-wheeler shaking his head and asked what we were thinking. The man turned out to be John Caldwell of Caldwell Vineyard! He was hosting us and guided us to the correct driveway, down to the caves where we had lunch. This lunch was no ordinary lunch.
We started off with lobster risotto, then onto local grilled vegetables and balsamic glazed butterflied leg of lamb and roasted ribeye, ALL paired with different Moone Tsai wines. As if that wasn’t enough, we had an amazing guest, Philippe Melka! For those that don’t know who he is, I’m sorry, you should do some research. Go buy a bottle of Moone Tsai as your first piece of research! Philippe is one of the greatest winemakers in Napa Valley. I had the opportunity to sit next to him during lunch and he is a really down to earth guy. Our hosts were no less than spectacular – Larry and Mary Ann Tsai were perfect. Their passion for their wine and the business we share together was humbling. Of course, John Caldwell was colorful throughout the visit. He is truly one of the great grape growers in the Napa Valley and wines were OUTSTANDING!
We were then off to Piña Vineyards in Oakville. Our group was late due to our little detour on the way to Moone Tsai and when we called to tell them that we were a little behind, they just laughed and said that they’d see us soon. Right on the Silverado trail on the valley floor is this small, family run business of four brothers. We had the opportunity to taste through their wines; the D’Adamo Vineyard Cabernets from both 2007 & 2008 were outstanding. Yogi, the winery dog was particularly friendly and a good host as well.
Salvestrin Winery was next on our travels, right off of Hwy 29 in St Helena. As the food coma wore off, we stepped off the bus and were greeted with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. It was a very hot day but, we still braved the vineyards to learn what makes Salvestrin special. Their vineyards are actually quite famous. They are part of the original Dr. Crane vineyards. In fact, their home was Dr. Crane’s! They had some really great wines. The Estate Cabernet Sauvignon was outstanding and the Cult Cabernet was definitely one of the greatest values produced in Napa Valley.
Stop 6 of the day, and the last stop on Day 3, was to Amici Cellars in Calistoga. It was nothing less than amazing. The winery is just above Jericho Canyon on the eastern side of the valley at the foot of Mt St Helena. Greeted by the owners and their children there couldn’t have been a better place to end the day. We started off with a little Sauvignon Blanc and then went into the caves for a rigorous tasting. These folks also make the Olema line of wines which we tasted through. There were a couple new wines that were absolutely STUNNING —a Spring Mountain Cabernet and Morisoli vineyard Rutherford Cabernet, both 2009’s. That Morisoli was something else. It was the most powerful and structured wine of the day. I’d have to call that a bruiser, something that strips the enamel off your teeth. I’m going to pick up a case when it hits the store in the fall. Sadly, there are not much of these to go around with both under 100 cases total production. Just when we though it couldn’t get any better, it did. We got to taste two samples of the Morisoli 2010, one from barrel and the other from tank. What a great experience. If you get the chance to do this at a winery, do it. It was really amazing tasting the difference between the two and then “blending” your own in the glass to taste the final product.
Amici gets another paragraph just for the meal. What a spread they put on! To start off, there were a variety of small hours d’ouvres that were all delicious, then first course was smoked leg of lamb pita’s and the main course was a whole 20lb salmon caught right off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco and smoked in a smoker that was the size of a small trailer. Lars from the Culinary Institute of America Greystone was our chef for the night, another true treat! Of course, there was copious wine available but there also was beer.
Baldacci Vineyards was beautiful. The vines were almost 100% through veraison with great clusters of purple! We spent some time in the vineyards learning about what makes the environment of the Stag’s Leap District so special. The family was on hand to pour the wines in the caves and explain their vision with their wines. The Brenda’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon was fantastic – it comes right from the vineyard outside the winery. What a treat to taste these, we also got to taste the 2011, which is still in barrel.
Then we were off to the other side of the valley to visit Black Cordon and 16×20. The property is on the western side of the valley. Their property actually is split between two appellations, Oak Knoll District and Mount Veeder. This is not a winery to visit. It is a small husband and wife operation with the help of their friend, famed winemaker Paul Hobbs. They hosted us at their home with spectacular views of the valley. As we arrived, we realized that the road was too narrow and steep for the buses so we had to hike up the mountain to their home. It was a steep, steep road that really got the heart pumping to get up there. That 16×20 chard never tasted so good!
Caymus for lunch – what can I say, Chuck Wagner hosted us and CLOSED the winery for our visit! Chuck was a really fantastic host. The smoked tri-tip roasts served were outstanding, a California specialty. Our team tasted through the entire portfolio from Mer Soleil to the Belle Glos Pinot Noirs, to the Special Select Cabernet Sauvignon. I now have a Conundrum cooking apron and a Belle Glos hat to add to my two collections of winery hats/aprons.
We headed off to Long Meadow Ranch in St Helena with full bellies. Originally we were supposed to meet at their tasting room just around the corner from Tra Vigne restaurant, but they invited us up to the ranch instead. Now that was a tight road. I felt sorry for our bus driver Adolfo; he was a brave man! We made it safely and the view – well, it was worth it. These folks have really an amazing story. Not only do they make great wine, but they are all about being local. The Long Meadow Ranch is a very old ranch that has been in operation for over 100 years. They raise cattle, have a large garden in Rutherford and own the restaurant The Farmstead in St Helena. The majority of the food that is served there comes from their products, seasonally. We got to take a hike up the mountain into their vineyards which was a real treat – although some of the “city folk” didn’t enjoy the walk as much as I did. Long Meadow Ranch has been farming their grapes organically since 1998 which makes for really fantastic wines!
Then we went back down the mountain and over to Oak Knoll district to visit with the Corley family, owners of Monticello Vineyards. This is a really cool property. They have replicated Thomas Jefferson’s house in Virginia. The wines were the most “old world” of the day, a refreshing change from all the classically structured cabernets we had enjoyed previously today. Their Merlot and Red Blend were team favorites. The winery is owned by the Corley family. You might see some of the Corley reserve in our stores from time to time, but the production is so limited, there’s not much to be had.
The FINAL stop of the day was in Rutherford with our great friends of Arroyo Seco Vineyards. These folks make the Montoya, Muirwood and Dominican Oaks wines for us and they really laid out the spread. The team tasted through the new vintages of the entire lineup from each of those brands. I believe these wines are top in class for values and this tasting just confirmed it for me. These folks not only make wine but they grow table grapes that make fantastic raisins! We got a canister of raisins to take with us for snacks later in the week and were able to snack on their grapes throughout the meal. Speaking of the meal, while sitting under 100 year old olive trees they served us whole pig, homemade sausage and of course some great wine! I had the pleasure of sitting next to and chatting with the owner, Morgan Zaninovich, over dinner. We actually used to live right down the road from each other in Napa many years ago!
What a great second day in California wine country! Sleep is next on the agenda, then off for another winery packed day in Napa tomorrow.
Here at Total Wine we strive to have the best customer service in the retail beverage industry – part of this commitment to training is our annual company-sponsored trip to the northern California wine country where 40+ of our team members get information straight from the principals of many of the leading wineries in the U.S.! Over the next couple of days we will be sharing with you the journey our team is taking.
Your tour guide, Cyrus Hazzard
Your tour guide for this excursion is Cyrus Hazzard, who is a member of our Customer Experience team and our concierge of wine sales. He was also a former store manager at our McLean, Virginia location.
Let the expedition begin …take it away, Cyrus!
Dalia Ceja, director of sales and marketing
A few late flights gave us a challenge getting on the bus, but we made it. First stop was Ceja Vineyards in Carneros – a small family owned and run winery on the Napa side of Los Carneros (The Rams). We had the pleasure of meeting three members of the family – Momma, daughter and grandfather. Theirs is an amazing story – the family bought the vineyards in the early 80’s when people thought buying vineyards was a crazy thing to do. The whole family lives right there on the property, Dalia grew up there but recently has moved. We arrived and lunch was served from a fantastic taco truck, a great meal to start the trip! The tasting was fantastic, really fresh wines with incredible balance.
Grapes going through veraison
Walking through the vineyards there were some great examples of véraison, which is just starting here in Carneros. Véraison is a grape growing term meaning “the onset of ripening” or “change of color of the grape berries.” – pronounced [Vay-ray-zoN]. The biggest take-away from our visit to Ceja Vineyards was the synergy of the family and their dedication and love of family, land and wine.
The next stop was Kunde Family Estate in Sonoma Valley. Proprietor Jeff Kunde met us at the tasting room but wouldn’t let us off the bus – he hopped on and started to give the driver directions to take us up to the top of his property. Along with him was Remy, their resident vineyard dog.
Jeff Kunde, speaking to our team
The trip up through the vineyards was a fun one – bus scraping all the way on the half-paved road, squeezing through the vines and across rattling cattle-guards. Jeff told us some fun facts as we ascended, did you know that the movie Bottleshock was mostly filmed at the Kunde estate? We drove past the boxing ring and he pointed out the old winery where the Judgement of Paris portion was filmed! From the top there were some really beautiful views of the rolling vineyards across the Sonoma valley. We had a small tasting of his wines and headed down the hill for dinner. On the way down he pointed out some of his “century vines” – Zinfandel vines that looked like tree trunks! They are an average age of 130 years old.
Sunset, watermelon and feta!
Dinner was fantastic – Caesar salad, flank steak with chimichurri sauce, local chicken, pork sausage and something I’d never had before – watermelon and crumbled feta cheese. Now that is something simple and fantastic to replicate in your own kitchen!
Super Bowl XXXIV-winning coach Dick Vermeil (c) with Cyrus Hazzard (l) and Heather Lalla (r)
Then the fun really began – a meet-and-greet tasting at the Flamingo Hotel in Santa Rosa, California. A night featuring of rock stars of the wine industry, some really fantastic people to meet! Claude Blankiet of Blankiet Estate was there, Lou Kapcsandy of Kapcsandy Family Winery and even Dick Vermeil, Super Bowl winning coach and proprietor of Vermiel Wines! It was a first class tasting with all the bells and whistles, a night our team will not forget. It is hard to pick favorites from that tasting; they were all so fantastic! You know it’s a great tasting when all the producers are milling around enjoying themselves as well tasting others wines.
Day 2 is tomorrow. We are off to Napa Valley for a great day of tasting Cabernet and Merlot. It’s hard work but somebody has to do it!
Founded in 2011 by beer evangelists and social media personalities Ashley Routson and Ryan Ross, IPA Day is a universal movement created to unite the voices of craft beer enthusiasts, bloggers, and brewers worldwide, using social media as the common arena for connecting the conversation together.
IPA Day is not the brainchild of a corporate marketing machine, nor is it meant to serve any particular beer brand. IPA Day is opportunity for all breweries, bloggers, businesses and consumers to connect and share their love of craft beer. It is an opportunity for the entire craft beer culture to combine forces and advocate craft beer through increased education and global awareness.
This year’s IPA Day is today, August 2, 2012. Getting involved is easy; the only requirements are an appreciation for great beer and the will to spread the word. Anyone can participate by enjoying IPA with friends, making some noise online with the #IPADay hashtag, and showing the world that craft beer is more than a trend.
How to Participate in IPA Day
1. Share your photos, videos, blog posts, tasting notes, recipes, and thoughts with the world. Be sure to tag your posts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and other social media platforms with #IPADay hashtag.
2. See what other people are saying on Twitter by searching “#IPADay” at: search.twitter.com. Follow the conversation closely by adding an #IPADay search column on your Tweetdeck.
3. Become a craft beer steward in your community. Encourage non-craft beer drinkers to take a break from their normal beverage routine and join the collective toast today. Set the goal of converting at least one person, if not the whole world of drinkers, into an IPA lover!
We have lots of delicious IPAs available – check them out here.