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.

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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:

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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.

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Hidden Wine Country: Napa’ School House Vineyard Keeps Things Quietly Classic

All photos by Steve Mort

Napa and Sonoma, the two counties at the heart of California wine country, are famous for lavish tasting rooms, Michelin star restaurants, and deluxe accommodations. Drive even a few hundred yards along Napa’s main thoroughfare, Highway 29, and you’re likely to pass five or six big name wineries ready to put on an impressive, pricey, and often thoroughly enjoyable show for you.

But hidden behind them, there’s another world — a place that’s more about passion than money, more about soil than manipulation, more about history than trends, and more about experimentation than safe bets. You have to look a little harder for this hidden Wine Country, drive a little farther to get there, and pay a little more attention when you arrive. But it’s well worth the effort.

Part 1 of this series takes us to School House Vineyard, a Napa stalwart making elegant wines that remain largely unknown, even to many of the Valley’s most ardent fans.

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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.

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This Month in Edible Orlando: Six Orlando Wine Bars to Quench Your Thirst for Knowledge

Photo credit: AaronVan

My latest Edible Orlando wine column shines a spotlight on six locally-owned wine bars across the Orlando metro area that are dedicated to educating consumers, creating community, and raising the bar for Central Florida’s wine scene.

These are places I’ve written about individually, that feature regularly on the Calendar Page and in weekly events posts, and that are listed on the Orlando Wine Bar Guide page … but until now, I haven’t brought them all together in a feature post.

Edible Orlando‘s “Drinks Issue” gave me the excuse, not only to bring them together in print, but also to bring most of their proprietors together for a crazy, fun photo shoot. The results are this article and the great photo above, taken by local food photographer AaronVan.

With one exception, all of these wine bars are under five years old – a testament to just how much our wine scene has exploded in recent years. I expect a few more standouts to join them by this time next year.

Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list of wine establishments in Central Florida. Many more are included on the Wine Bar Guide, so be sure to check that out too. But if you’re visiting Orlando, new to the area, or just starting out on your wine journey, I promise you will not go wrong by starting with these six.

Cheers, Orlando!

Ashes & Diamonds: Napa Wines That Bring Back the Joy

Like many people who get bitten by the wine bug, my journey into the world of wine has taken me in many different directions. The more serious I’ve become about my wine education, the more I’ve learned to appreciate the nuances wine has to offer … and yet, sometimes I fear that path may take me away from the joy that inspired me to start the journey.

That’s why I appreciate all the more those times that bring back the joy – the times when I’m reminded that wine is about more than acid and tannin, more than determining whether the nose has aromas of roses or violets, more than whether a wine is aged in French or American oak or whether it’s filtered or fined.

Wine is about community. It’s about good food, good music, good friends old and new. It’s about a day that starts out gray and ends up sunny – literally, figuratively, or both.

Today, Florida-based Progress Wine Group hosted a trade lunch to introduce Orlando’s wine professionals to Kashy Khaledi and his wines from Napa’s Ashes & Diamonds Winery.

For me, everything came together at this event to bring back all the joy.

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