Hidden Wine Country: RYME Cellars Turns Eclectic Grapes into Some of the Most Exciting California Wine You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Photos by Steve Mort

When you imagine California wine country, you probably don’t picture the Sonoma County town of Forestville.

It’s less than half an hour west of bustling Santa Rosa and the same distance south of upscale Healdsburg, but Forestville feels a world apart. Its downtown main street is only about three blocks long, hosting a handful of casual restaurants, a strip mall with a coffee shop and a laundromat, a county park with a friendly cat, a hardware store, a pharmacy, and a gas station.

Forestville Cat
Forestville cat welcoming me to town

There are also a few tasting rooms on Forestville’s main drag, but RYME Cellars is not one of them.

In this installment of Hidden Wine Country, I venture off the main street to a simple tasting room at the terminus of a dead-end road. I step inside what used to be RYME’s production facility (scroll down for a photo) and discover surprising wines made by a husband and wife team who aren’t afraid to go beyond the usual grape suspects.

Continue reading “Hidden Wine Country: RYME Cellars Turns Eclectic Grapes into Some of the Most Exciting California Wine You’ve Probably Never Heard Of”

Bordeaux Approves 7 New AOC Grapes Amid Concerns About Climate Change

Yesterday was a historic day for Bordeaux.

A General Assembly of winemakers from the Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur AOCs voted unanimously to allow seven new grapes to be used in Bordeaux blends – part of an ongoing effort to protect the storied wine region from a warming climate.

The proposal faces several more bureaucratic hurdles over the next year or so. If it’s approved, it will be the first rule change since the Bordeaux AOC was created in 1936, and Bordeaux winemakers will be able to start blending up to 10% of the new varieties into their wines.

Meet the New Bordeaux Grapes

The assembly approved four red and three white grapes:

Continue reading “Bordeaux Approves 7 New AOC Grapes Amid Concerns About Climate Change”

BREAKING NEWS: Uvaggio in Coral Gables is Closed for Good

One of South Florida’s best wine bars has closed its doors.

When I tried to visit Uvaggio on Coral Gables’ Miracle Mile last Wednesday, I found the doors closed (see the photo above) and the interior dark and empty. Managing Partner and sommelier Heath Porter confirmed to me today that it was gone for good.

“Sometimes it’s just business,” he said in an email.

Porter was also Managing Partner of No Name Chinese in South Miami, which closed in May.

He says he now plans to focus full time on his wine travel venture Heathen Wine Tours, which he launched last year.

Continue reading “BREAKING NEWS: Uvaggio in Coral Gables is Closed for Good”

Albarino in my Bordeaux? Climate Change Forces One of France’s Oldest Wine Regions to Consider New Grapes

When it comes to wine, it doesn’t get much more traditional than Bordeaux.

The region has been making wine since Roman times. It’s been favored by European royalty for centuries, and Thomas Jefferson was a big fan.

Bordeaux has been highly regulated and tightly controlled since the Classification of 1855, when the region’s producers were sorted by quality into First through Fifth “Growths.” For more than eight decades, the appellation has allowed only ten grapes to be used in wines bearing its name.

But that may be about to change.

The reason? Climate change.

Continue reading “Albarino in my Bordeaux? Climate Change Forces One of France’s Oldest Wine Regions to Consider New Grapes”

Willamette’s Cristom Vineyards Picks Orlando’s Wine Bar George for Exclusive 25th Anniversary Tasting

I’ll admit I’ve always felt a twinge of sticker shock at the prices for the events and tastings at Wine Bar George. I know, I know, it’s at Disney Springs, and it’s helmed by a Master Sommelier. But still, it’s tough to part with $70-100+ for a tasting (plus a hefty Lyft fare), when standard tastings at most local wine establishments cost half that amount.

Earlier this month, however, Master Somm George Miliotes and his team invited me to attend an event as their guest, and I can tell you, this was no standard tasting.

Cristom Vineyards in the Eola-Amity Hills region of Oregon’s Willamette Valley is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The festivities include a road show featuring an exclusive tasting with owner and winegrower Tom Gerrie comparing multiple vintages of the winery’s single vineyard pinot noirs.

When I say “multiple,” I mean we sampled nine pinot noirs from four single vineyards and six vintages.

When I say “exclusive,” I mean Cristom is presenting this tasting in only six cities around the country, including New York and San Francisco. Orlando was the only city in Florida to make the list.

Continue reading “Willamette’s Cristom Vineyards Picks Orlando’s Wine Bar George for Exclusive 25th Anniversary Tasting”

Walla Walla Wanderings: Beyond Downtown

Note: It is customary for wineries to waive tasting fees and host complimentary events for wine writers. Some wineries mentioned in this post extended that courtesy.

Last week, we toured tasting rooms in charming downtown Walla Walla, Washington. Turns out, there’s much more to this hub of Washington State winemaking than just the downtown core.

I was in the area last month to attend the 2018 Wine Bloggers Conference, and while I didn’t have much time to explore beyond downtown, I did venture out to a few special spots.

Continue reading “Walla Walla Wanderings: Beyond Downtown”

Orlando Wine Blog tasting to feature wines of Missouri, a piece of America’s wine history

I’ve made little secret of the fact that I’m fascinated by wines that are outside the mainstream. Don’t get me wrong – I dearly love great Champagne, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Barolo, and even a few California cabs. But give me a grape I’ve never heard of from an unlikely location, and my eyes light up.

When the Missouri Wine & Grape Board invited me a on a press trip exploring the state’s vineyards and wineries last month, I jumped at the chance. I’ve written about Missouri wines in the past, and readers were intrigued.

This time, I was inspired not only to write about the wines, but also to bring some bottles back to Orlando and give my readers an opportunity to try them. I’m partnering with Digress Wine in College Park to host a tasting two weeks from today, on November 8 at 6:30pm, where we’ll sample and learn about these unique wines that rarely make it out of their home state. They’re not distributed in Florida, so this may be your only chance to experience them. Seating is extremely limited, so reserve your spot today!!

Want to know more about the wines we’ll be tasting? Read on!

Continue reading “Orlando Wine Blog tasting to feature wines of Missouri, a piece of America’s wine history”