Bordeaux & Germany Target Orlando in Three-Year Wine Marketing Push

A savvy observer of Orlando’s wine scene might notice a preponderance of tastings this month and next featuring wines from Germany and Bordeaux – at least thirteen events at twelve Central Florida restaurants and wine bars, to be exact.

Germany and Bordeaux don’t exactly leap to mind as natural partners – they’re no Spain and Portugal or Germany and Austria. So how did independent establishments like Swirlery, Tim’s Wine Market Avalon Park, Luisa’s Cellar, and The Parkview decide to feature them together?

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Orlando Wine Community Alum Brings One-of-a-Kind Sonoma Tasting to Digress

Wine writers tend to overuse words like “special” and “unique.” I’m as guilty as anyone.

But Tuesday night at Digress Wine in College Park, Orlando’s wine community experienced something truly singular — a tasting of limited-production experimental wines from Sonoma producer Gary Farrell, many of which can’t be sampled even at the winery.

Orlando Wine Blog helped organize the event in partnership with Digress. We dubbed it “The Geeky Side of Gary Farrell,” and I couldn’t be prouder of Orlando’s wine community that an event with that name was a sellout.

But the real credit for its success goes to Gary Farrell Estate Sommelier and Wine Educator Tiffany Kuhn, who brought some truly unique bottles and provided great context to help us understand them.

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Orlando Wine Blog to Host Geeky Gary Farrell Tasting

My first encounter with Sonoma’s Gary Farrell Winery happened on my front porch in Orlando. My cousin had brought me back a bottle from her visit to the winery, and as we drank it together over cheese and laughter, it changed the way I thought about California chardonnay. Elegant and balanced rather than overwhelmed by oak and butter, this was a wine I could get behind.

Since then, I’ve visited the winery several times and have grown to love the equally elegant pinot noirs that, like the chardonnays, reflect the land on which they’re grown.

I’ve also been thrilled to discover winemaker Theresa Heredia’s “Inspiration Series.” These experimental wines (single clones, concrete aging, skin contact, etc.) are made in extremely limited quantities and are rarely available outside the winery. Thanks to a special connection between Gary Farrell and Orlando, I’m thrilled to be able to offer my readers and followers the chance to taste some of these wines – and other Gary Farrell gems – right here in Central Florida. And it’s just a few weeks away.

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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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