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Vineyard 511

From Hollywood to Vine with Vineyard {511}

Adventures in Wine, Food, Film and Travel

Irene Ojdana
 
August 23, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

Bordeaux Wine Cruise

The City of Bordeaux was the perfect place to start our Bordeaux wine cruise on the Dordonne and Garrone rivers throughout the region of Bordeaux. But the port City of Bordeaux is not just about the "Bordeaux blend." It's not just about what happens inside that French oak. It's about the old, the history which reflects the legendary land of monumental architecture of the chateaux, and the new; not just the Bordeaux that was a dingy city to pass through with coal-blackenned facades on the way to somewhere else, but now a vibrant and beautiful city in its own right. It was named a UNESCO world heritage site in 2007 after its crumbling city walls had been taken down and the light let in.

We stayed at the Intercontinental Le Grand Hotel, built where the Roman forum once stood, and where we dined at its celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay restaurant. From our hotel window we saw a sparkling street dominated by the opera house with its grand pillars.

                                             

Of course, Bordeaux is about wine too, reflected in its wine museum, La Cite du Vin, designed by Anouk Legendre and Nicalas Desmazieres. Its shimmering gold aluminum facade resembles the swishing around a wine glass.                        

                                            

We toured the old city ("Vielle Ville"), in the rain. Apparently, it rains a lot in Bordeaux, just as it does in Paris. In fact, Bordeaux reminded me of a little Paris.

                                                                                       

 But the main reason Ed and I were in Bordeaux was to particapate in a "wine lover's cruise" aboard the AMADolce,    

                                           

hosted by friends Peter and Katie Mondavi of Napa Valley's historic Charles Krug Winery to explore the greater Bordeaux region.

Aboard ship, Peter gave several tastings and interesting discussions on board about Bordeaux and Charles Krug wines.

                                           

We even had a blind tasting, comparing Krug and Bordeaux. I preferred the Krug. I guess I'm partial to Napa wines.

Our shore exursions were very interesting. One of the first was to Saint-Emilion AOC (appellation d'original controllee, a government controlled designation of origin, which signifies where grapes are grown, similar to our AVA or American Viticulture Area). We drove through some very lush vineyards with views of stately chateaux,

                                          

and vistited the historic Chateau Soutard for a Grand Cru Classe wine tasting

                                          

in modern vat and barrel rooms replete with sparkling chandeliers.

                                          

On the way to the Sauternes wine region, we visited the historic Roquetaillarde Castle in Mazeres, a fortress initially built in the 10th century by Charlemagne.

                                          

It has been in the same family for 300 years. In fact, the current owner led a tour of the castle and demonstrated how his ancestors could pull up the drawbridge in case of an invasion.

                                         

In Bommes, located in the Sauternes wine appelation, we toured Chateau Guiraud to see how its lovely, sweet Sauternes wine was fermented in underground steel tanks.

                                         

On our last day in Bordeaux, Katie and Peter Mondavi graciously hosted a private winery tour, delicious luncheon and tasting at Chateau Haut-Bages Liberal in the Pauillac appelation. The wine produced there was classified as one of eighteen Cinquiemes Crus in the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. It is owned by the Lurton family, involved in Bordeaux wine production since 1820.

                                         

We increased our knowledge of Bordeaux wine and made some new friends on this river cruise; we hope we will meet up with them again soon.

                                         

 

 

                                         

                                         

                                         

 

 

 

 

                                          

                                          

                                          

 

 

 

                                        
 

 

 

                                           

 

 

                                            

 

                                                     

                                               

 

Time Posted: Aug 23, 2019 at 1:52 PM
Irene Ojdana
 
July 11, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

Calistoga Fourth of July Parade

Calistoga's Fourth of July Parade is one of the most fun events in Napa Valley, which both visitors and residents of the Valley look forward to attending. It reminds us what small town life can be--a mirror of Americana.

We had our family staying with us, an addition of 11 people to our household--and we took them all down the hill from Diamond Mountain to experience the lively parade.

                                                                   

There were fire trucks from all over the northern end of the Valley, from Anguin, Deer Park and, of course, Calistoga.

                                                                   

There were classic cars

                                                                   

and Hispanic dancers.

                                                                   

We appreciated all of the work and enthusiasm the participants put into making the parade so special.

Time Posted: Jul 11, 2019 at 4:49 PM
Irene Ojdana
 
June 30, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

American Fine Wine Awards

The 12th annual American Fine Awards Competition (AFWC) celebration of this year's award-winning wines was held in late June at Sonoma's Buena Vista Winery. There we were presented with a double-gold medal for the third consecutive year for our Vineyard {511} Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon--this year for our 2015.

The AFWC, which began in 2007, has become the most influential wine invitational in the country. The competition takes place each January, and is followed by a series of SIP Social events that feature the award-winning wines and help to raise money for a variety of non-profits and continues to promote the wines throughout the year. Since its inception, AFWC has raised more than $1,000,000 for local charities.

The event was hosted by Buena Vistas's proprietor and international vintner, Jean-Charles Boisset, who handed out the awards.

                                                                                         

Notice his studded shoes. I've seen him in animal-skin shoes, but not that day.                                                                  

Buena Vista Winery was founded in 1857 by self-proclaimed count Agoston Haraszthy, who emigrated from Europe in 1840 as part of the California Gold Rush. Now, with Jean-Charles at its helm, the winery has much of the pizzaz as Raymond Vineyards in Napa's Rutherford. One room, especially, has the same flamboyant style in both facilities. Somewhat bordello-like.

                                                                           

We're looking forward to next year's Double Gold!

                                                                                        

                                                               

 

                                                                        

 

Time Posted: Jun 30, 2019 at 11:18 AM
Irene Ojdana
 
June 16, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

Manhattan Wine Auction

The 25th annual Manhattan Wine Auction was held on a picture-perfect day--and raised almost $1.2 million to benefit schools in Manhattan Beach, California. The event was hosted by the Manhattan Beach Country Club and featured food and wine tastings, a silent and live auction.

The food and wine tastings and silent auction items were held on four tennis courts-- where Ed and I poured our 2015 Vineyard {511} Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon.

                                                                         

The whole country club had been transformed for the event. The live auction was held on center court.

                                                                       

Chevron Corporation kicked off the live auction by announcing a contribution of $300,000 to the school district and another $100,000 to the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation. Music and dancing followed a delicious dinner. Everyone had a great time.                                    

                                                                       

 


 

Time Posted: Jun 16, 2019 at 1:00 PM
Irene Ojdana
 
June 7, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

Napa Valley Wine Auction 2019

This year's Napa Valley Wine Auction was a testament to the Napa Vintners Association's commitment to supporting Napa Valley's health and children's education non-profits. The event raised nearly $12 million! Over the auction's 39 years, it has raised more than $185 million. This was a special year, as the Napa Valley Vintners was celebrating its 75th anniversary, with superstar Katy Perry entertaining.

On Friday afternoon, a barrel auction and food and wine tasting were held at the newly renovated Louis Martini winery, which was recently acquired by E. & J. Gallo.. The Gallo's did an amazing job of remodeling the facility. The barrel auction was held inside.

                                                          

The food and wine tastings were held in two large tented pavillions outside.This year wines were separated by varietal, which was very helpful when choosing among so many options.

                                                                                                                  

The wine areas were interspersed with stations of delicious food tastings supplied by Napa's finest restaurants and food purveyors.

                                                        

Ed and I provided an eAuction item of Vineyard {511} Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon wine and a vineyard lunch with the two of us. We are looking forward to welcoming the winning bidder and her guests to Diamond Mountain.

 

                                                         

 

                                                                  

Time Posted: Jun 7, 2019 at 9:01 AM
Irene Ojdana
 
May 20, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

Spain and Portugal Douro River Wine Cruise

The Douro River, in Portugal's stunning Douro Valley, is where Ed and I experienced the most beautiful wine growing regions in the world aboard an AmaWaterways wine cruise, sponsored by The Dry Creek Winegrower's Association. But first, in order to get to the cruise, we had to fly into Spain's capital, Madrid, and stayed there for three nights to enjoy the city and Spanish wine and cuisine.

On our first night there, we at Restaurante Botin (founded in 1725). It's the oldest consecutively open restaurant in the world, according to The Guiness Book of World Records. We ordered the suckling pig (so popular in Madrid), which was roasted in the restaurant's original ovens to a golden crispness on the outside and milky tenderness on the inside.

                                                                          

After dinner, we toured Botin's ancient wine cellar.

                                                                        

The next day, we visited Madrid's famous Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas, where its famous bull ring is situated and which dates back to 1929. The outdoor sculpture there depicts the bravura of the bullfighter.

                                                                       

On our last night in Madrid, we and our friends were lucky to score the chef's kitchen table at the Michelin-starred A'Barra Restaurante for a 21st Century meal paired with both Spanish and French Wines, including Rioja and Bordeaux.

                                                                      

                                                                      

                                                                      

After our too-short, 3-day stay in Madrid, we boarded the ship on the Douro River on the Spanish border. The cruise was hosted by the Dry Creek Winegrowers Association of Sonoma. Some of our friends had signed up, so we said "all aboard!"

Ed and I had visited the Douro Valley before, but wanted to see its magnificant scenery again. Deep gorges alternate with tranquil valleys (mostly unpopulated, which we loved). Terraces on both sides of the river run down to rocky hillsides planted with vines.

                                                                     

                                                                     

The Douro River rises in Northeastern Spain and flows in a westerly direction for 360 miles. For the next 70 miles it forms its border with Spain and then, for its only navigable stretch--the part which formed our cruise-- cuts across Portugal for 130 miles to reach the Atlantic at Porto.                                                              

The first morning of our cruise landed us in Pinhao, in the heart of the prime port-producing region. There we discovered the Pinhao railway station, with its series of 24 fine blue and white tile murals, illustrating the history of winemaking and the culture of the area.

                                                                  

                                                                 

The train station, built in 1879, replaced the flat-bottomed boats that were previously used to carry wine in casks from quintas (wine-growing estates) downstream to Porto.

                                                                

Now the wine is transported by tanker trucks.

During our cruise, we visited quintas for wine tasting, such as Quinta da Avessada, in the village of Favaios. There the "winegrower," with the nickname 'Mr. Bean" because of his resemblance to the actor, told us about the emphasis on preserving the unspoiled landscape of the Douro wine region.

                                                                                                                                   

During another tasting, this time in Guimares, we sampled a very nice wine, new to us, called Vinho Verde. Although the name translates as green wine, it's usually drunk as a white wine. It's young, being released 3-6 months after harvest. It has a slight effervescence from the added carbonation.

                                                                

When Ed and I were much younger, we drank very inexpensive Mateus Rose wine out of round, squat bottles from Portugal. Who knew that the Mateus family owned an enchanting palace surrounded by extensive gardens, just outside of Vila Real, Portugal?                                                              

                                                                

On our last day of cruising the Douro, we toured the city of Porto, the second largest city in Portugal, behind Lisbon. We took a cable car up a hill to Pont-Dom Luis, a bridge designed by a colleague of Gustav Eiffel in 1886. The bridge connects Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia, where port wine tasting rooms and storage facilities are located. From up there, we had dizzying views of the city below.

                                                                 

We are now ready for our next wine cruise of the Bordeaux wine region. 'Till then.............

                                                                

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                     

 

                                                                    

 

                                                                     

                                                                     

                                                                      

                                                                      

                                                                      

 

 

 

 

 

                                 

                                        

Time Posted: May 20, 2019 at 5:30 PM
Irene Ojdana
 
May 12, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

NVFF Screens "Wine Country" The Movie

The Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF) recently held a pre-release screening of the film "Wine Country," at Napa Valley's Cameo Theater, in Saint Helena, for the Patrons of the NVFF. The Festival invited its Patrons to a reception held just prior to the screening at the very nearby Martin art gallery. Among the contemporary art work there, including the remains of a gargantuan dinasaur (having recently sold for $3 million), patrons nibbled on non-dinasaur treats.

                                                        

"Wine Country," a Netflix comedy, was written, produced and directed by Amy Poehler (SNL). It's about five women (including Poehler and other former SNL cast members Maya Rudolf, Rachael Dratch and Ana Gasteyer), who take a trip to Napa Valley to celebrate one of the five's fiftieth birthday. The film was shot at Napa wineries, including Artesia, in Carneros, and Quintessa, in Calistoga, and in and around the Valley, especially in my town of Calistoga.

                                                         

The film was sweet, raunchy and entertaining, ala SNL.                                                       

                                                      

                                                     

                                                         

Time Posted: May 12, 2019 at 6:00 PM
Irene Ojdana
 
May 12, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

Jonathan Club Tasting

Ed and I poured our wines recently at the two locations of the Jonathan Club, a private social club with Santa Monica Beach and Downtown Los Angeles locations.

The downtown location is in a lovely old building, which dates back to 1894. The beach location, less formal,  was added more recently. The club was originally a male-only organization, but voted to add women in 1987 and now has 650 female members.  Prior to admitting women, in a position I held to place graduates of the Job Corps Training Program in jobs, I visited the downtown location for that purpose. Unfortunately, I had to ride up to the club office in the freight elevator because only men could use the regular elevators. This time around, I finally made it to the main elevator!

                                                                    Ed Pouring 2014 Vineyard {511}

                                                                Napa Valley Diamond Mountain District

                                                                            Cabernet Sauvignon

                                                                      Jonathan Club Santa Monica Beach

                                                     

Time Posted: May 12, 2019 at 10:00 AM
Irene Ojdana
 
May 11, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

Tasting at Charles Krug

Ed and I were able to have a reunion with friends we had met while on safari in East Africa. As I mentioned in my previous blog, "Out of Africa," we were in a group of five people (including ourselves) in Africa, and we were surprised to learn that two of the five--Katherine Gard and Tom Furlong--were from the neighboring Napa Valley town of Yountville.

So the four of us caught up at a wine tasting I arranged for us at the Charles Krug winery with other friends of ours, owners Katie and Peter Mondavi.

                                                  

                                                          Tom, Elizabeth, Ed, Katie, Irene and Peter

The Mondavis put on a wonderful tasting, tour, and pizza lunch for us at the beautiful Charles Krug, the oldest winery in Napa Valley. The winery dates back to 1882, when Charles Krug opened it for public tastings. There we tasted some wonderful wines that included a 2016 Merlot, 2014 X Clones, 2015 Voltz, and 2015 Cold Springs.

Our tour included one of their huge barrel rooms, where we saw their "Big Red" immense, old oak barrel, which dates back to 1944.

                                                 

Now that's a barrel!

                                               

                                                  

                                                 

Time Posted: May 11, 2019 at 5:00 PM
Irene Ojdana
 
May 1, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

Notre Dame University Symposium on National and Global Affairs

Every other year, Ed and I attend a symposium on National and Global Affairs put on by Notre Dame University (of which Ed is an alumnus), in Washington D.C. We look forward to this event because we get to hear from the leaders of our country about the state of the union and the world in such interesting venues. We heard from speakers from both sides of the aisle. In the past, we've heard from Hilary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, Paul Ryan and John McCain.

                                                                                  NOTRE DAME INSIGHT & OUTLOOK

                                                                                 ON NATIONAL AND GLOBAL AFFAIRS

                                                                        

This year, some of the distinguished speakers were Vice President Mike Pence (heard in the Ronald Regan Building and International Trade Center); Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (heard in the Smithsonian National African American Museum of History and Culture); Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-MN (heard in the United States Institute of Peace); Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, IN.; Lindsay Graham, Senator R-SC; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; and United States Attorney General William Barr, (all heard in the Andrew Mellon Auditorium).

                                                                                               NANCY PELOSI

                                                                       

 

                                                                                             MITCHELL MCCONNELL

                                                                         

 

                                                                                           PETE BUTTIGIEG (ON RIGHT)

                                                                         

At this writing, and at very contentious political times, Senator Amy Klobuchar and Mayor Pete Buttigieg have both thrown in their hats to run in the Democratic primary for President of the United States. Only time will tell.

While in Washington D.C., Ed and I got in some time for culture at the Hirshhorn Museum, on the National Mall, where we viewed a hilarious sculpture by Jimmie Durham, an American artist from Arkansas, made out of a car and volcanic stone and acrylic paint, dated 2007. Perhaps the sculpture depicted the contentious political times.

                                                                       

However, we even were lucky enough to catch the cherry blossoms!

                                                                       

They always lighten the political mood!

                                                                       

                                                                      

                                                                    

                                                                

 

                                                                         

                                                                         

                                                                            

 

Time Posted: May 1, 2019 at 5:07 PM