Changes at Windermere’s Bella Tuscany may lead to a new wine destination in Winter Garden

Russ Russell has left his position as sommelier at Bella Tuscany in Windermere.

Known for hosting creative and sometimes extravagant weekly wine tastings paired with small plates, his last official day was December 8. He continued to host the tastings through December.

Taking over Russell’s position is Natasia Lin, a Certified Sommelier who was part of the team that opened Wine Bar George last May. Today was her first official day at the restaurant.

russ russell and natasia lin
Bella Tuscany’s incoming sommelier Natasia Lin with her predecessor, Russ Russell

She says she plans to continue Russell’s schedule of tastings, including this Tuesday’s event featuring wines from Argentina’s Catena family. As of this writing, it’s the only item of note on next week’s wine calendar, as most of Orlando’s wine purveyors continue their post-holiday lull.

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Luisa’s Cellar Celebrates Six Months of Wine (and much more!) in Sanford

Luisa’s Cellar calls itself “a wine bar with a craft beer problem.” Turns out, this two-story establishment on lively Sanford Avenue has a coffee problem too. And a bit of a cocktail dilemma. Plus a books and records conundrum.

Owners Yellymary “Mary” Montalvo and Sascha Weyer will mark half a year in business just after Christmas. The husband and wife team has gone all-out for the past six months with a diverse array of beverage and food offerings and an ambitious events schedule.

There’s a little something for everyone here, so this attractive spot just might be the perfect place to satisfy the eclectic tastes of all the friends and family visiting you this holiday season.

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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.

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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.

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Walla Walla Wanderings: Downtown

Note: It is common practice for wineries to waive tasting fees for wine writers. Some of the tasting rooms reviewed in this post extended that courtesy.

Washington’s wine regions sprawl widely across this diverse and beautiful state, but when it comes to wineries and tasting rooms, there are a few main centers of gravity.

Walla Walla is one of the biggest.

I just returned from my first trip to this small-town-turned-major-wine-destination. I was there to attend the 2018 Wine Bloggers Conference, but I spent some time checking out a few of the area’s 120 wineries too.

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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!

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