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We were there!

Wine Bloggers Conference

Two Shepherds, Two Philosophies, One Great Wine

William Allen in action

It’s kind of a long story why this particular post got kicked repeatedly to the back burner when we actually tasted William Allen’s awesome syrahs last June at a Rhone Rangers tasting event. The Rhone Rangers is an advocacy group touting wines made in the style of France’s Rhone Valley. Rhone-style wines usually mean syrahs, mourvedres and grenaches or a blend of those three also known as GSM.

Allen’s wines, under his label Two Shepherds, really stood out because while the syrahs were nice and meaty, they were also well-balanced and smooth, unlike several

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Terra Sávia – An Organic Tradition in Action

Pecos Davis and Jim Milone of Terra Sávia

It almost seems as though Jim Milone, winemaker at Terra Sávia, makes organic wines because it’s never occurred to him to do otherwise.

“We hate to shower,” he joked when asked why organic. But then he got down to business.

“Really, it’s just the way that I’ve been making wine for the past 34 years,” he said.

Terra Sávia winery, where Milone makes his wines, is a small outfit out of Hopland, California, in Mendocino County. The winery not only offers a full range of wines, it sells olive oil

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La Motte – All the Way From South Africa

Edmund Terblanche of La Motte

One of the advantages of massive tastings like Hospice du Rhone is that you get to try wines that are harder to find and from places you don’t get to see every day.  Such as South Africa.

We met a couple of really interesting producers from there, including Edmund Terblanche, of La Motte, in the Franschhoek Valley in the Cape winelands.  It being Hospice du Rhone, Terblanche was pouring the winery’s shiraz wines.  Yes, shiraz is the Australian name for syrah, but apparently, it’s also the preferred term in South Africa, too.

“That’s

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Anglim Winery – What a Kit Hath Wrought

 

 

Steve Anglim at Hospice du Rhone 2010

It started somewhat insidiously – with a gift of a winemaking kit one Father’s Day.

“It was god-awful disgusting stuff,” said Steve Anglim, owner and winemaker of Anglim Winery.

But it was enough to get him making wine, eventually leading to the winery, which began in 2002.  Steve and his wife Steffanie Anglim run the place, taking turns pouring at events and running the tasting room in Paso Robles, California, while their younger daughter plays in the back room.

“You have to divide and conquer because there’s so much

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Vergari Wines

It happened a few months ago, but one day, Michael gets an email in his personal box inviting him and a guest to a tasting at a local contractor’s store near us.  Huh?  It was from David Vergari – a winemaker who lives in Sierra Madre in Southern California, but makes a collection of red wines out of a custom crush facility in Sebastopol, California.  They’re mostly cabs and pinots – varieties we don’t usually focus on here at OddBallGrape.

But what makes Vergari’s operation a little more up our alley is how he’s selling his wines – through

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Irish Family Vineyards

The first time we went up to Calaveras County’s wine country – part of a visit to Jeff Stai and Twisted Oak Winery – we drove right past Jeff’s neighbor at Irish Family Vineyards. For some reason, we looked at the signs Irish had out and concluded it wasn’t our style of place. We so should have known better.

It was during our next visit to Twisted Oak, Jeff and one of his tasting room staffers both said Irish was really good and we should try them. They were right.

Not only does Russell Irish make some outrageously good

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Schug Carneros Estate Winery

The Schug Winery Building, courtesy Schug Winery

It’s hard to know where to begin when talking about Walter Schug.  This guy has been working in the California wine industry since 1966, when he was a grape buyer for Gallo.  He is still hip-deep in making some phenomenal pinot noirs and has been continuously since he started working for Joseph Phelps in 1973.  Our conversation ranged from the latest on this year’s harvest – “It went on a long time,” he noted – to the history of the California wine industry to the development of yeast in Germany.

We

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The Nelson Family Vineyards

Missy and Greg Nelson

Talk about letting your wines speak for you!  We met Greg and Missy Nelson at the Mendocino Grape Growers event in Santa Rosa last spring, which we attended on a press pass.  We enjoyed chatting with Missy, but Greg kind of hung back and didn’t talk too much.

It’s apparently Greg’s style.  When Anne emailed him, since that’s whose card we had, his responses were terse, at best.  So is the website.  That’s fine.  The wines are a lot of fun and we’ve got a couple sweeter ones to feature this week.

The Nelsons

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Exploration Fun

This being the middle of the harvest, we’re pretty busy here at OddBallGrape.  Put almost 1,500 miles on the car last week and the week before in three trips to Paso Robles, California, to go pick and bring back cabernet franc, syrah, primitivo, vernacchia and merlot grapes for our own home winemaking efforts.

And, gee, since we were in the heart of the Central Coast wine country and since there just happen to be…  (ahem) a few wineries up there (like almost 100) and on the way back through the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Rita Hills.  Yeah, we

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Three Sticks Winery and a (Sigh) Mess-Up

Oh, deep and profound annoyance!  We had gotten turned onto Three Sticks Winery at the Family Winemakers event in Pasadena last spring.  Then, after several rounds of phone tag and other missed opportunities, Anne finally got a chance to to talk to winery owner Bill Price.  Then Anne spent two weeks….  Two whole weeks, mind you, trying to find the note book pages on which she’d written the interview notes, only to find them on the hard drive of her computer.  She’d typed them rather than hand written them, which is better because Anne types faster

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