Terra Savia/Olivino

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Hippocrates called olive oil “the great therapeutic.” ~ Anonymous

 

Terra Savia, or Wise Earth, is a must-visit if you are in Hopland, CA. Sitting on one hundred sun dappled acres, Terra Savia has a relaxed, down to that wise earth feel about it.

The tasting room is a warehouse-like structure, filled with magnificent, one-of-a-kind furniture made of recycled wood and reclaimed old growth redwood.  Tables full of knots and holes, which would hold all your Thanksgiving guests, plus the turkey, ham and all the side dishes.  No need for a kiddies table with this in the house.

The accompanying benches, chairs, bookshelves and fun, unique artwork is made by a talented local artist, Ben Frey. Yvonne, the owner/operator of Terra Savia will be happy to give you his number.

Speaking of, Yvonne is pretty talented herself. In addition to the wines she produces, Yvonne is a master at olive oils. Her olive press takes up a significant corner of the tasting room and a demonstration of how it works is impressive.

Paul Evans was pouring in the tasting room.  He had only one wine open, but suggested I try the olive oils (the Olivano part of the title).  With his help, I can give a decent report on a subject way over my head.

The Fontaio, an extra virgin oil, has a rich taste of green apples, hazelnuts, almonds and a touch of pepper.  This oil is a lovely bronze color and would do just fine as a light salad dressing.

Leccino has a mild fruity flavor of green apples and mint. It is a delicate oil that could be used as a salad dressing or as an appetizer with fresh bread. YUM.

Maraiolo is bold. This oil is quite spicy, fragrant and a definite peppery finish.  Paul recommended it be used as a meat marinade.

The Meyer Lemon is made of olives and Meyer Lemon peels.  It is very lemony and light. This would be a perfect fish marinade.

The left over olive pumice and skins is made into soaps and moisturizers.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Terra Savia also produces Wildflower Honey.

 

The one wine I sampled was the 2011 Chardonnay.  This was a treat: made with organic grapes and unoaked, the Chardonnay was fresh with green apples, tea and grass.

Other wines produced at Terra Savia include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, a Meritage and Petit Verdot.

 

Any Terra Savia product can be custom bottled and labeled.  Time to think Christmas!

 

Terra Savia produces 2000 to 4000 cases a year. The fruit is all organic and estate grown. Meticulous detail is given to producing top notch wines with the least environmental impact.

 

As if the wines and olive oils are not enough, Terra Savia has a rental home at the back of the vineyard that I can personally assure you is the most relaxing place in Hopland.  Isolated, quiet and serene, this place is both dog and child friendly.  With a big front porch overlooking the vineyards, a swing set for the youngsters, an above ground pool and perfect-for-star-gazing hot tub, you may end up like me: telling Yvonne she needs to start filling out eviction papers.

Hopland is great place with many fun tasting rooms.  Terra Savia is a good winery to start at.  But don’t just take my word for it.  Make it your destination, soon.

 

As always, drink and drive responsibly.

 

 

Wine at Sunset

Mendocino County — the Wine Place

 

Absense makes the heart grow fonder”

~Eleanor RooseveltA Beautiful Bunch

Hello, all,

I have out of touch a bit and sorry for that.  It was necessary to take a break in order to get a vacated rental house back in shape.  But, now that is done, I am back and just spent a pleasant few weeks in Mendocino County of northern California.  Put this on your to do list!

The sign welcoming visitors to Mendocino County states the county has Wilderness, Waves and Wine.  Nothing could be truer!

This gorgeous place, approximately 100 miles north of San Francisco, can fulfill the wants of anyone, guaranteed.  For those with a serious yen to get away, take Route 162 (off Highway 101) to Covelo and the Round Valley.  This is area time has left alone.  Fresh air, fabulous stars, groves of conifers and oaks and the pristine Eel River – the Round Valley is a special, almost sacred feel.  Originally settled by Native Americans, the valley is the jumping off spot for the Yolla-Bolly Wilderness Area and the Mendocino National Forest.  Both areas offer numerous hiking and primitive camping opportunities and a chance for real solitude.

The northernmost region of Mendocino County is home to the treasured Smith Redwoods State Reserve.  To drive through these incredible groves of trees is to know beauty.  Do yourself a favor, take some time and hike through history.

Mendocino County’s western side is one of California’s most dramatic coastlines.  Dotted with darling towns, from artsy Gualala to up-scale Mendocino and Ft. Bragg, the coast is the perfect spot for whale watching, to experience a winter storm or a peaceful beach stroll.  Many beaches and lodgings gladly welcome pets.

The towns along the Mendocino Coast may be small in size, but they are big on comfort.   They love the tourist and cater to our needs.  Fine dining and extraordinary lodgings can be found in every port.  Naturally, fresh fish is a daily offering.

There are lots of options in the coastal State Parks for either RV’ers or tent campers, as well.  Enjoy a weekend of kite flying, beach combing and relaxation by the waves.

Last, but not least, Mendocino County is a burgeoning wine area.  Approximately sixty wineries (and a handful of breweries) grace this county.  Most of these are centered around the tiny town of Hopland and along Highway 128 to the coast.  The Mendocino County AVA’s are blessed with lots of sun and heat, but cooled down by coastal breezes at night, similar to neighboring Napa.

This combination of forces allows both Rhone and Bordeaux varietals to flourish.  The whites are floral and fruity, the reds big and bold.  Wine lovers should definitely give Mendocino County a try.  They will not be disappointed.

Vintners in Mendocino County are cutting edge, as well.  This is California’s “greenest” wine area.  Many grapes are grown organically or bio-dynamically; many wines are bottled that way, too.

Mendocino County is an unforgettable spot.  A serene, scenic, and sacred area that transcends time, Mendocino County is a place to slow down, re-commune with nature, and make memories.

I come often and enjoy the area more with each visit. Over the next few weeks, you will get a article on some special people, wineries and events!

 

 

 

 

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Six Ways to Enjoy Wine

If your heart is warm with happiness, you’ll need a glass – if sorrow chills your heart, have two!
~ Hannu LehmusvuoriOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hello, Readers,

It is getting to the end of summer, when lots of people will be hosting their last (maybe first!) barbeque or get together with friends.  The topic of how fast the summer sped by is certain to come up, although, personally, fall is my favorite time of year.  Football, favorite sweaters and natures bounty and color are things I look forward to.

To make your get together a bit more special, here are my tips for enjoying wine:

 

1.       Decant/Aerate Red Wine

Oxygen, coming in contact with red wines, allows the full flavor to present itself, making decanting or aerating is so important.  Although there are many styles to choose from, the ideal decanter is glass with a wide bottom, (often with a large protuberance) that gives wine more contact with air.  Decanter shapes can be simple to magnificent, but they always lend an air of elegance.

 

Aerators are handy little devices that do a decanters work for an individual glass.  There are many on the market. The recommended ones should have some way of filtering sediment from the wine.  Aerators take up less space; some make satisfying sounds, but do not look as nice on the dining room table when serving the Sunday dinner.

(So many people pour wine from bottle to glass; no problem with that, but a decanter sitting on the table — picnic or dining room — gives an aura of sophistication that does get noticed).

 

2.       Use the Correct Glass for the Grape Varietal

The correct glass really can enhance the wine experience.  There is a glass design for every grape varietal, helping to release the flavors.

 

Glasses can be complicated, but, generally, an obviously wider bowled glass is for reds; a more subtle shape for whites.

 

In either case, pour wine only in the lower third of the glass – never to or above the bowl part.  Filling the lower third allows the fragrances to bounce off the glass on the way to the rim and your nose/mouth.

 

3.       Use Clear Glass

Clear glass allows the drinker to fully appreciate the color, legs and characteristics of the wine.  Many companies make wine glasses, and they run the gamut of price.  A thinner rim is best, as it puts less substance between your mouth and the wine.

 

Never use a glass rimmed in gold or silver.  Although they look elegant and Grandma may have left those lovely glasses to you in her will, the metals used on the rims interact with the wine and change the taste.

 

4.       Join a Wine Club

Joining a wine club is both just plain fun and educational.  If you live in an area with wineries, join a local one.  Go to dinners and events.  You will meet like-minded people and learn about the winemaker’s preferences and styles.  Volunteer to pick grapes at harvest time.

 

Consider a wine club by mail or through a magazine, as well.  These are fun and beneficial, allowing you to taste wines from other regions and wine varietals that may not be common in your area.  Tasting notes should accompany these selections.

 

5.       Host a Wine ClubWine lovers travelling with Wine Scouts

Hosting a wine club is so much fun.  There are a lot of ideas and wine hosting kits on the market.  My preference for hosting is to chose a small group, not more than six participants (all over 21 years), and decide what specific varietal you want to sample.

 

Let’s say you decide on Cabernet Sauvignon.  Decide beforehand the price range and year of the Cabernet Sauvignon you want to sample.  Then, each participant brings a bottle of that price and year, but each from a different region of the USA or a different county.  This allows everyone to get an idea of how elevations, terroir and microclimates affect the same varietal.  Bringing information on the specific area of each participant’s bottle and food that showcases that region adds to the fun, as well.

 

6.       Store Wine ProperlyWines from various appellations

Corked wine needs to be laid on its side.  This allows the wine to keep the cork from drying out and shrinking, which would spoil the wine.

 

Wine should be kept away from direct sunlight and heat.  Although convenient, I discourage wine racks on kitchen counters.  The heat and steam of cooking can change their flavors.

 

There are many products on the market that store wines at proper temperatures.  However, if wine is kept in a cool, dark place – like a basement or a closet – on its side, it should be just fine for years.

 

Wherever wine is stored, turn the bottle a quarter turn every few weeks.  It ensures the corks integrity and makes each bottle a bit more special.

 

Enjoy!

 

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Deer Creek Vineyards … Peace and Pinot

“Wine … offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than possibly any other purely sensory thing which may be purchased.” — Ernest HemingwayPouring wine into a wine glass

 

To escape the rotten air in the Rogue Valley (thanks, firefighters, for your supreme efforts), the dogs and I headed to the coast.  There really is something appealing about clean, cool air.

Driving through the Illinois Valley, one is overwhelmed by the magnificence of nature.  Here are happy little rivers and creeks running noisily to the ocean, the mighty mountains of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and the awe-inspiring Redwoods.

The Illinois Valley is part of the Southern Oregon AVA and experiences all the best of a coastal range.  With the elevation a bit higher, the nights are cooler and foggy.  The soils are an interesting mix of silt and gravel, sand and glacial moraines.  Right in the middle of this marvelous place sits Deer Creek Vineyards.

Deer Creek Vineyards was established in 1988.  The place consists of seventy acres, with forty in grapes.  For whatever reason, the vineyard was not well-loved and it fell into a rumpled state.  Enter John and Katherine Bryan.

John and Katherine Bryan purchased Deer Creek Vineyards in 2009.  These two both have science backgrounds and spent a first career in the aero space industry.  Here, they wrote programs for NASA and other things really bright people do.  Tiring of a corporate background, the Bryans spent time in Sisters, OR, but saw an ad for an Illinois Valley vineyard for sale and said, “Aha! We can do that”.  And, they have.

Katherine was pouring in the tasting room when I arrived and told me the story of the vineyard when they took possession.  “It was not in great shape and quite run down” she said. “We were surprised to find Merlot grapes in an area overrun with weeds and such”.

Disappointed to find the fruit quality was not optimal, the Bryans rolled up their sleeves, and rebuilt everything, including all the equipment.  “John is a genius,” Katherine gushes.

With John handling the viticultural part and Katherine the business end, they determined Deer Creek, with elevations as high as 1,350’, was the best spot in the Illinois Valley for Pinot Noir.  Today, they have twenty acres planted in that varietal; the rest of the vineyard is Merlot, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris.

 

 

These were my tastings:

 

2011 Pinot Gris: I have a real weakness for this grape, I am happy to admit.  Deer Creek’s is a 100% varietal, done in stainless steel and is, frankly, great.  It is very crisp, with Granny Smith, grapefruit and lemon zest flavors.  Serve this with Curried Shrimp or a bowl of New England clam chowder.  This has to rate a Halle Berry.

2011 Chardonnay:  Well, I have a weakness for this grape, too.  Another stainless steel barreled wine, this Chardonnay rated a Double Gold Medal at the 2013 Oregon Wine Awards.  It was the only Double Gold in its category.  This is an elegant example of the newer “style” of Chardonnay.  It is light and delicate, but big with flavors of peaches, pears and tropical fruits.  This would compliment any dish that calls for a white wine.

2011 Chardonnay Reserve:  This wine is finished in 10% French Oak, which imparts just a touch of creaminess and vanilla.  Bigger and completely different than the non-reserve Chardonnay, this wine is full of ripe fruit and great acidity.  Open this with a poached white fish, a roast chicken or Fettuccine Alfredo.

2011 Bella’s Sunshine: Named for the world’s greatest granddaughter, Bella’s Sunshine is a complex blend of 75% Chardonnay and 25% Sauvignon Blanc.  Full of crisp, clean green apples, Bella’s Sunshine is Deer Creek’s biggest seller and has a cult following.  Katherine said to serve it with sushi or a spicy Thai dish.

2011 Pinot Noir:  Barreled 20% in French Oak by cooper Remond, from the Allier forest, this Pinot Noir showcases the fruit.  Rich in cherries, raspberries and spice, this is a fabulous Pinot and a 2013 Gold Medal winner at the Oregon Wine Awards.  This wine will give those wonderful Willamette Valley Pinots a run for their money.  Katherine recommends Ahi Sushi with this wine.

2009 Merlot: Barreled in the same French Oak as the Pinot Noir, the Merlot is a big wine – more reminiscent of a Cabernet Sauvignon, to me.  Very fruit forward in Bing Cherries, Blackberries and Cardamom, this is worthy of the grilled meats we love on weekends.

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At Deer Creek Vineyards, all the wines are hand crafted.  They produce about 2500 cases a year, under the tutelage of winemaker Linda Donovan.  True to Linda’s style, the wines are developed using only wild yeast, which is the yeast naturally made by the grape.  Wild yeast lends a particular complexity to a developing wine, as the different and multiple yeasts blend together.

Katherine is very passionate about hand crafting.  She stressed how underappreciated Southern Oregon is and that this area has the highest concentration of innovative and hand crafter winemakers.   I learned a lot from her.

Deer Creek Vineyards uses no pesticides on the grapes.  They are LIVE compliant and working to obtain the certification.

I cannot summarize Deer Creek Vineyards as well as their own business card. Quoting directing from that:

The masters of the canvas made their own paints, grinding minerals, crushing herbs and macerating fruits.  When you work with nature nothing is assured, but the striving is the immeasurable ingredient.

Deer Creek Vineyards is committed to celebrating wine as a true form of art. Inspired by the beauty and history of our vineyard within the Deer Creek Valley, we believe that the sights, sounds and flavors of this area should be enjoyed by all who visit, looking for wines with a sense of place.”

This is a place a bit off the beaten path, just what the Wine Tramp is always searching out.  I hope others will, as well.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dancin Winery — having a ball!

“Clearly, the pleasures wines afford are transitory – but so are those of the ballet, or of a musical performance. Wine is inspiring and adds greatly to the joy of living.”  ~Napoleon

 

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Opening Memorial Day Weekend, 2012, Dancin Vineyards is Southern Oregon’s newest hangout.  Dancin, a combination of owners Dan and Cindy’s names is located just outside Jacksonville.  A dramatic, scenic drive brings one to a peaceful, serene tasting room.

Dancin is a small vineyard of just over three acres, producing high quality Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.  The vineyard is spread over three different microclimates, reaching elevations of nearly 2000 feet.  Pinot Noir, known to be a difficult grape to grow, thrives at Dancin.

Pinot Noir practically demands cooler climates, because of its early budbreak and harvest dates. Pinot Noir, Oregon’s most abundant grape is perfect for the Willamette Valley’s fog and rain.  Dancin is changing the rules of Southern Oregon being too hot and dry for Pinot.  With the higher elevation and a thick stand of forest that offers afternoon shade, the temperatures can be 7-8 degrees cooler in the vineyards than the parking lot.

Dan and Cindy planted the land in grapes in 2007 and 2008, with the first vintage in 2010.  That year, they yielded 275 cases. In 2012, they anticipate 1000 cases.  To achieve that, Dan and Cindy have scoured Willamette Valley vineyards looking for sustainable practices and fruit that mirror their own.  They found what they were seeking at Durant Vineyards in the Dundee Hills and the combination of grapes makes a fabulous blend.

To augment their Chardonnay production, they use fruit grown at Griffin Creek Vineyard in Southern Oregon or from Durant Vineyards.

Recently employing winemaker Eric Weisinger, Dancin produces three different styles of Chardonnay and five of Pinot Noir.  All the wines are named after dances and all are barreled in neutral French oak.  The Pinots are complex, red berry fruit and velvety; the Chardonnays are rich, creamy and full of citrus.

Food pairings are not difficult with these wines.  The tasting room offers light meals of pizzas, salads and desserts.  A lingering meal and a glass by the pond or in the picnic area would make a perfect afternoon.

In addition to their own wine, Dancin will soon offer both a Barbera and Muscato from prestigious wineries in the D’Asti region of Italy.

The Encore! Wine Club offers several options for club members.

Dancin is a vineyard dedicated to sustainable practices and a hand’s on approach.  All shoots are tied by Dan, Cindy and a few dedicated field employees.  They apply cover crops by hand in the fall.  These labor intensive practices ensure the best possible fruit.

Dancin is home to chickens, owls, bats and birds of prey.  Each is welcome and supported by proper housing.  They keep “unwelcome guests” like gophers, moles and nocturnal insects at bay, improving the fruit.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dancin is a spectacular place with forward thinking practices that result in beautiful wines.  Put it on your weekend agenda!

The tasting room and vineyard are located at 4554 South Stage Road, Medford, OR, just outside Jacksonville.  For more information visit www.dancinvineyards.com.