Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Ashland Wine Tasting Party

I have a motto: "Everyone knows how to Drink wine; Very few people know how to Taste wine."

It's really very simple, if no one ever taught you how to taste wine, then likely you learned by watching others that never learned how.

So what's the big deal you say?  The short answer is: if you are simply "downing" your wine, then you are missing so much of the pleasure of wine that comes from the thoughtful tasting of wine.  The pleasure comes from the aromas and hundreds of compounds found in wine.

I am offering to come to your home to share my "Wine Tasting 101 Seminar" that I have developed over the many years of exploring the world of wine and guiding hundreds on my tours.  These "parties" are offered in the Rogue Valley AVA surrounding Medford, Oregon.

The seminar consists of the how and why of tasting, "practice" with a local red and white wine, history of Oregon wine and a Q & A session.  The class takes approximately one hour and costs $200, including two bottles of local wine.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

France wine tour this Fall

I am putting together a wine tour to the South of France this Fall.

Are you thinking you can't afford a wine tour to France? Take control of your visit to French wine country. Join other budget minded wine explorers for a memorable week in the South of France! You pay $700 per person for your lodging, transportation while in France, a local professional scheduled wine tour and me acting as your personal wine guide for the week.

You save by paying for your own airfare, food, and wine. This brings the cost to within your "normal" budget. What you pay for food and wine at home can equal what you pay on vacation. Food and wine can cost you less by shopping local. With a full kitchen available, you decide what meals to create and when your group eats out. 

This tour includes a local pre-travel seminar on the wines of the Languedoc region. The group will travel together to France.

This tour is sponsored by Splash Wine Tours of Ashland. Visit the website: www.explorefrenchwine.com

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Applegate Uncorked

Joining other wine enthusiasts is a great way to get to know a wine region.  Here in the USA we use a system called AVA, or American Vitacultural Area to define specific wine growing regions.

The Applegate AVA is a sub-AVA of the Rogue Valley AVA.  In other words, the Applegate sits inside the larger Rogue Valley.

In the part of the country these names are referring to the watersheds that feed the two main rivers of the area, the Rogue and the Applegate.

Understanding these boundaries helps pinpoint the many meso-climates that affect the production of grapes.  Grapes are said to reflect the land (terroir) that they grow in.  On a broad scale this means that you won't find many Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in the Willamette Valley (cool and wet) like you can here in the Applegate (warm and dry.)

Knowing the place your wines comes from adds to your enjoyment.  It reflects the land and brings to mind your visit to the local wineries.

Join me for the Applegate Uncorked event on May 21st.  You can book my van for the day via my website: www.splashwinetours.com

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Eeny Meeny Miny Wineo

We've all been there...just staring at the wines on the shelf, having no clue what to get.  Yet with a few simple guidelines you can narrow the quest down and get out of the aisle in record time.

Start with what you have in mind for this wine: dinner, patio, conversation.  Now pull up those positive experiences which worked well.  For example, say I am thinking of some wine and cheese on the patio.  In this case, I may choose a Savignon Blanc, remembering how good it tasted the last time. 

Ok.  So that's a white wine.  You just narrowed your selection down.  Next recall where that wine was produced.  New Zealand in this case.  Great, look for New Zealand on the label of any Sav Blancs.

While you don't often know what a particular wine will taste like, yet if you recall what region or town your last Sav Blanc came from, you can look for that on the back label.

All of this means that you continue to accumulate knowledge of certain wines you like.  Basically, you look for the varietal (grape) you like and your favorite region that produces that wine.  Mostly, be bold and try new wines...who knows you may find your next favorite wine.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Small is Beautiful

The saying goes that wine is "about place."  The French call this terroir.  It's about where the vines grow and what characteristics come thru in the wine.

For some "place" becomes an impressive chateau with formal gardens and fountains.  This shifts the focus from the vineyards to the "image" of fine wine.  Unfortunately, the "image" is often better than the wine!

When you drill terroir down to the vineyard and the people that tend it you will find an honest relationship between vine and wine.  Here in Oregon we are fortunate to have a healthy culture of family-owned wineries.  At this level the "place" is often a small vineyard tucked in a little river valley surrounded by mountains.

This photo is of  Cricket Hill Winery, pretty much on the edge of wine country.  These are the wineries that I seek out to discover the true character of Oregon wine.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Look into the Wine Crystal Bowl

Yes. You can drink your wine from a plastic cup, if you must.  But if you want to actually taste the wine then you need a crystal glass.

Before you dismiss me as another wine snob, there are very practical reasons why you need a proper wine glass to get the most from your wine purchase.  A nice crystal stem runs $10 a stem.  When tasting, opt for the stem.

The secret of crystal (and you can get lead-free crystal) is that it is not smooth inside the bowl. It actually as tiny little "crystal" edges that the wine bounces off when you swirl the wine in the bowl.  This releases the aroma esters that we perceive as wonderful fruit smells.  So now you know.  If you paid more than $2 for that wine, enjoy it in a crystal stem.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wine: More than a Beverage

Spring is coming, at least it has in the past.  And with the Sun returning to our vineyards, the vines are anxious to get started on this year's vintage.

The vines understand this cycle of replenishing the supply of wine for the fortunate humans who discovered long ago that wine is more than a beverage.  Wine is a gift from the God's.

Dionysus was the name that the early beneficiaries of wine gave to the idea that something grand was happening with this juice.
It's hard to say which came first; the idea of the elevated status of fermented grape juice or; the effects of drinking said juice.

Consider the fact that whole cultures thought enough of what they were drinking to relegate the mysterious effects to the Heavens.  It was good to know that you had your own God looking out for your welfare.

Today we must be careful not to lose the passion that surrounds wine.  If you can see the work Nature in that glass of wine you had for dinner, you can belong to the long tradition of seeing the hand of God in the bottle.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Wine Snob vs. Wine Geek

Are you a wine snob?  Would you admit it if you were?  Unlikely.  By definition a Wine Snob knows it all and relegates the rest of us to being not worthy of their notice.

For the rest of us, it's not about showmanship but the wine. There are reasons for observing a few guidelines when enjoying your favorite wine.

Swirling wine is often misunderstood.  For the uninitiated swirling is just an action of etiquette.  Something others do.
Fact is that swirling helps release the aromas of the wine by mixing air with the wine, and aromas are what makes wine the ethereal experience it's meant to be.

Volumes can be written on swirling, suffice it to say that for young still wines it is necessary.  Wine Geeks (the non-snob wine snob) refer to wines being "Closed" or "Open"...swirling helps Open up your tasting experience.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Green Wine for St. Patrick's Day

Yes, you can have "green" wine to wash down all that green (dyed?) beer.  

Back in the 80's there were many a light easy going white wine...remember Blue Nun?  Or one my favorite easy to drink wines was Rhine Bear Liebfraumilch.

Weibel had their Green Hungarian.  Weibel is an old vineyard and winery name , well known in CA.

 I have a bit of a history with this wine. Besides pouring this wine for myself, I worked at the former Weibel  Tasting Room in Ukiah, CA.  (Redwood Valley AVA).   The well-known room was in the shape of a certain body-part of Marie Antoinette. True.  People would come from all over to get a splash of that Green Hungarian. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

VIN VAN: For Adults Only

The Twenty-first Amendment was ratified on December 5, 1933.  Ever since Prohibition was repealed, the States have had a field day.  Each one has it's own set of "wine laws".  

The painting here is that of Bacchus, the god of wine.  Often depicted as a youth or boy.  And as the saying goes: " In one end; out the other."

The backstory on this image is that it was submitted to the "label police" by an Oregon winery and was rejected.  Seems natural functions would offend the wine drinking public.  

The solution was to cover up the offending "member", and thus make the gullible public safe from harmful thoughts. See the amended label below.

Closer to home, my Oregon personalized plate VIN VAN, has been rejected.  While the State issues a "Wine Country" plate, my plate would violate State laws by referring to "alcoholic beverages".  Alas, the misplaced concern for the public running amok because of my VIN VAN plate causing immediate alcoholism in those that might translate VIN as WINE is totally hypocritical.  The plate I had order was a "Wine Country" plate...love those bureaucrats. BTW: The state of Oregon issued me this same VIN VAN plate in 2007 when I started my tour biz, and I drove around debauching people for 6 years!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

From Ashland to the World of Wine

The Rogue Valley AVA (the Applegate Valley AVA is a sub-ava) is not a one-trick pony.  We run the gambit from A (Albarino) to Z (Zinfandel), and many more. 

Many wine regions of the world are confined to a few specific variatels, such as the Mosel River in Germany, where there's a lot of Reisling.

Around these parts, it seems that only the winemakers imagination is the only limit.  For the wine tourist this is heaven.  Travel the wine world with grape varietals from France, Spain, Italy, South Africa, and Germany to name a few.

For those fortunate enough to have visited the "Motherland" of a wine, tasting local wines bring back fond memories of those travels.  Now you can add the Rogue Valley AVA on your list of world wide wines!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Rogue and Applegate: Winescape!

Wine, for me, is all about Place.  Buy a bottle of Chianti, it's a cheap trip to Italy.

These are distinctions only the Mind can produce for us.  Transporting us to other lands as we relax in our own backyards.  Wine seems to understand this, and gladly exhibits the characteristics of the Place it was made. We just need to play along!

This is why I enjoy discovering new wine regions, it's all about the countryside...the Place.  And what one finds there are the workings of the farmer as they steward the vine. 

Here on the West Coast you will find the ubiquitous Water Tower, a stalwart feature of the rural farm.  Today these old structures still dot the winescape.  A reminder that someone had to grow that grape.

Ashland/Jacksonville wine tours now available.

It's official!  Splash Wine Tours are now available for your wine tasting pleasure.  As of March 1st the Vin Van is ready for your group to explore Southern Oregon wine.

This time of year wine enthusiasts dust off their tastevins and head out to discover the latest wines being released.  Secretly whispering in your ear is the God of Wine: Baccus. Time to celebrate he's saying as the Spring is to arrive soon.

It's good to know that your passion for wine is supported in the Heavens by a fun loving wineo.
Get hold of the Spirit and gather your friends together and throw a Bacchanalia!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Southern Oregon Wine Country

You've heard of Oregon wine, but have you heard of Southern Oregon wine?  Oregon is a big state and is not the rainy dreary place some people would imagine it to be.

Yes, it rains here.  Just like in California.  Then it doesn't rain for months. Oh, those happy vines!

As with any wine region, our landscape is unique.  But shares many similarities to world wide wine locations.  Hills play a big part in most wine regions and here, there is no lack of hills.

Hills make valleys and that is where the grape growers migrate.  Maybe it's the fantastic views or the soil found there.  Whatever it is, the grape finds a happy home.  None are happier than in Southern Oregon.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Ashland Oregon Wine: A sense of Place.

This land in the Bear Creek Valley surrounding Ashland, Oregon was and is home to the Native Americans.  These people did not have access to the grape vines that now grow in the Valley.
We are blessed with the agricultural progress of many millennium of  planting and fermenting this magical farm product.
The land has taken a liking to these non-native plants.  Once again the benefits of our agrarian society shine through with the pioneer efforts of local winemakers.  
All this points to the notion that wine reflects "place"..the French call it "terroir".  For the wine tourist, there is no better way to discover this connection than by visiting our local wineries.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ashland Oregon Wine Country

I got the inspiration for my wine tours while in Beaune, France.  I was a wine tourist looking for a fun and educational visit to the local wineries.

The van left from the Tourist Info center and headed out into the countryside.  The Guide spoke English and shared many insights of the wine culture in Burgundy.

We ended with a stop to a little underground wine cellar that was showcasing some local red wines made by a pair of women winemakers.  What fun it was in that crowded little space with the barrels and the ceiling black with the "Angel's Share"...the vapor from the aging wine.

Today I continue this adventure with my own wine tours of the Bear Creek and Applegate wineries here in Southern Oregon.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Ashland Oregon World Wine

Wine reflects the envoronment in which it is grown.  Wine from Oregon will taste different than a wine from Chile.

That is the Magic on wine.  That means that I can travel the world while staying home.

The wine explorer can sample a Carmenere from Chile and almost feel the Sun as it ripened the very grapes in your glass.

This is why it is advantageous to appreciate the wine country from which your wine originates.

Touring Bear Creek Valley, Ashland Oregon.

For me, wine touring is exciting becasue I get to taste new wines.  The secret is that there are so many great wines that never make it to the wine shop or grocery store.

Most of the wineries of Bear Creek Valley (Ashland) do not distribute their wines, meaning that if you want to enjoy their efforts you need to get out to the winery.

This is another plus to a wine tour, you get to visit the vineyard where the wine was grown.  Having this connection between vine and wine is essential to understanding the qualities of the wine.

Join me on a wine tour and we will go "play" in the vineyards and you will discover some amazing wines!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Why fight it?

There is no "off season" for wine!  Somewhere along the cycle of life the vine is moving forward, ready to create the next batch of fermented fruit.

In the spirit of why fight it, people learned to just let the fruit freeze right on the vine.  And lo and behold, ice wine. 
In Southern Oregon this would be a fantasy.  Too warm.  Here you are likely to find Late Harvest instead.  Really the same idea; less water, more sugar equals sweat. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Wine on Mars

Given what I know about grape vines, if anything can grow in the red Martian bleakness, it's Grenache.

Back on Earth, and here in Oregon, this grape has found a happy home. 

This photo is of what I believe to be Grenache vines in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, in the Southern Rhone wine region of France. 

The vine is smart.  Some see barren fruitless land, the vine sees the warmth from the rocks at night after a long day in the Provencal Sun.

And so it goes here in our favored wine region.  The vine has made a home here and continues to provide amazing fruit for us wine explorers to enjoy.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Farm Fresh

Lest we forget, wine is a farm product.  Any winery will tell you that the wine is made in the vineyard.  Where that vineyard is located is key to understanding the final product.

When the vine and the land come together in a harmonious way you get a premium wine.  An example would be the Willamette Valley of Oregon, where Pinot Noir has found its New World home.

The French call this land/vine harmony "terroir."  Basically this is the "place" of the vineyard.  This idea gets extended when referring to wine regions, or in the USA; AVA ( American Viticultural Area)

Here in the Bear Creek Valley (Rogue AVA) and the Applegate AVA you can enjoy the wide variety of grapes that are happy to make their home here, not being limited to just Pinot Noir.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Wine Explorer

What is your image of "wine country?"  Immpressive Chateau?  Maybe Cypress lined lanes?  Palm trees swaying in the wind?  Or perhaps, snow covered mountain peaks?

You may be surprised that I've been describing the Rogue/Applegate Valley AVA's!  This somewhat obscure oasis of wine country beauty is waiting for you to discover.  You will not be disappointed.

Wine travel is a passion of mine and it finds me in many different locals, yet they all share that vibrance of Nature that produces world-class wines.  Cheers!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Viognier: Oregon's Answer to Chardonnay

It's nice to see that there is a good selection of Viognier here in SO.  As a fan of Rhone wines, this is good news.  The more opportunities to sample a splash of this refreasing grape is a plus.

What better way  to immerse oneself in this varietal than visit the "home land" of its origins: The Rhone Valley in France.  I am offering to plan and implement the visit.

I have been to France on 12 different occasions to a healthy list of French wine regions, including Bordeaux, Languedoc, Alsace, Burgundy, Dordongne.

Check out my tour to the Rhone Valley; http://splashwinetours.com/france.html

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Splash Wine

Cantavida Reserve Carménère 2013   Serendipity: Drinking a wine from Splash Wines of Chili. Cantavida Reserve Carménère 2013.  You can't always drink the "good stuff"...this is a nice full-boded red for everyday.  Amd at a very attractive price of $5 at Grocery Outlet in Medford, OR.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Applegate & Rogue Valley Wine Tours

I'm excited to soon be offering my wine tours of the Rogue/Applegate wine regions here in Southern Oregon.

I started my wine tours back in 2007 in the Umpqua Valley AVA, and now I am located in Ashland,OR. Take advantage of my years of being a wine guide. 

Unlike other tour companies I am the sole employee.  I have a passion for wine and our wonderful Oregon wines.  Enjoy the wine country from my 15-passanger touring van, with large windows to take in the scenery.  Wine starts in the vineyard.  My tours emphasize the connection between land and wine!

Please take a minute and check out my website: