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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Get out of Your Wine Grape Rut with “Grapes 101 – A Grape Society”

Orlando’s wine community is slowly emerging from its post-holiday lull. To borrow a euphamism from one of our region’s wine luminaries (who shall remain nameless), a few of us got a little more “festive” than perhaps we should have over the past few weeks!

But never fear, we will rally as 2018 gets underway – and what better way to kick off our year in wine than by expanding our horizons and exploring a few new grapes?

Most wine drinkers never get beyond a standard group of around a dozen grape varietals, but there are thousands of fascinating wine grapes out there. Ever heard of valdiguie? How about listan negro, nerello mascalese, rkatsiteli, saperavi, xinomavro, malagousia, or plavac mali?

Some of my most exciting wine experiences happen when I get to discover new grapes. Next week, Tim’s Wine Market in Windermere is offering a fun way to break out of your wine grape rut, with the launch of “Grapes 101 – A Grape Society.”

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Where to Go in Sonoma: The Blockbusters

Note: The wineries in this post followed the common industry practice of waiving tasting fees for bloggers and other media. 

Is a trip to wine country on your list of resolutions for 2018? If so, Sonoma County should be on your agenda.

Sonoma is sometimes an afterthought – nothing more than a quick stopover between San Francisco and Napa. But this diverse county is a worthy wine destination unto itself, offering everything from stunning tasting rooms with breathtaking views to flip-flop-casual samplings in out-of-the-way vineyards. Most importantly, though, Sonoma offers plenty of good wine.

In this post, we’ll explore three blockbuster wineries that hosted me for tastings on a visit to Sonoma last fall. Next time, I’ll unveil a few of the region’s hidden gems.

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Wine Geeks Rejoice! Rosé blind tasting contest, Jura & “Wild Wine” events this week!

If you’re a wine geek like I am and you’re in Central Florida this week, trust me, you’re going to wish you could clone yourself.

First off, Swirlery is hosting what might be (complete conjecture but I bet it’s true) Orlando’s first rosé blind tasting contest on Tuesday.

Of course, most rosés are not geeky at all. They’re what you drink when you want to kick back on your porch or by the pool. A rosé blind tasting, on the other hand, is pretty darned geeky. Make it a contest, and you’re into the realm of the super-geeky.

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Expect the Unexpected at Swirlery’s Blind Tasting Tuesdays

If you love wine, and you haven’t been to Swirlery Wine Bar yet, you’re missing out.

From its unassuming location on the corner of Michigan and Fern Creek, diagonally across from Johnny’s Fillin’ Station, this little gem of a wine shop/bar has become a hub of Central Florida’s wine community.

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Slovenian Orange Wine & Japanese Koshu BTG … in Miami?!

South Florida is hardly considered a Mecca for adventurous wine palates. On a visit there last week, I found a handful of places that are trying to change that.

The standout among them is Uvaggio Wine Bar on Coral Gables’ Miracle Mile (ok, it’s a little south of Miami). This little bar-restaurant and its completely unpretentious sommelier Heath Porter are making wine waves. Just check out this wine list!!

Geeking out over Uvaggio’s list

21 wines by the glass and half glass, plus Coravin specials … and not a cab or a pinot grigio in sight. The most conventional thing on the BTG list is a Chardonnay from Arroyo Grande near San Luis Obispo, California.

Everything else ranges from the sublime (half glass of Barolo, anyone?) to the completely weird and obscure (read on!). This place is a wine geek’s paradise. I wanted to try everything.

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