Author Archives: The Fermented Fruit

Enter the Rodney Strong Master Blender Sweepstakes

Enter the Rodney Strong Master Blender Sweepstakes

Master Blender Sweetstakes

Those who have been fortunate enough to experience the stunning natural beauty of Sonoma County and everything it has to offer are sure to warmly greet the opportunity to return. For those who have never experienced its verdant, mesmerizing landscape, world-class wines and incredible farm-to-table cuisine – this is your opportunity to win an all-expense-paid wine country getaway to the charming town of Healdsburg, California.

If you’re following along on my social media channels (Instagram, Twitter and Facebook) then you’re probably aware that I was recently hosted by Rodney Strong Vineyards for a two day mini-preview of what the two winning couples will receive and to help spread the word about their generous sweepstakes grand prizes.

Family-owned and operated and a pioneer in Sonoma County Winemaking for more than 50 years, Rodney Strong couldn’t be better equipped to show the two lucky couples the very vest of what Sonoma County has to offer. Below you’ll find the highlights from my trip – and don’t forget to enter! There is no cost or purchase necessary to enter, and the only benefit to me when you enter is the satisfaction of one of my loyal readers winning this amazing trip!

What Winners of the Rodney Strong Master Blender Sweepstakes Can Expect

Master Blender Sweetstakes

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Historic Charm Melds With Modern Luxury at the Santa Ynez Inn

Historic Charm Melds With Modern Luxury at the Santa Ynez Inn

Santa Ynez Inn

The Santa Ynez Inn takes its name from the quaint town of Santa Ynez, where it’s located at the entrance to Santa Ynez Valley’s scenic wine country. Not only is its location incredibly convenient should your stay include plans to explore Santa Barbara Wine Country, but each guest of the Santa Ynez Inn also receives one of the best amenities I’ve ever experienced: an exclusive Tasting Passport, entitling them to complimentary tastings at nearly twenty local wineries. How apropos!

Modeled after the very first hotel in Santa Ynez, The College Hotel, which was tragically lost during a fire in 1935, The Santa Ynez Inn was newly constructed in 2001. Yet despite being built so recently, I so enjoyed how the Santa Ynez Inn elegantly combines the charm of an old Victorian inn with the luxuries and modern conveniences of a new hotel. And however unexpected it may be as you pull up in your Tesla, there’s even a charging station at your disposal!

Overall, an air of understated elegance undeniably defines the entire operation, from the exquisite furnishings to the soothing jazz music you’ll find serenading you as you settle into your luxuriously appointed room. From the moment you check in, guests are pampered with a surprisingly generous list of amenities that are completely included in your stay (read on for the full list).

Santa Ynez Inn

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Surprise Awaits You in Santa Barbara Wine Country

Surprise Awaits You in Santa Barbara Wine Country

santa barbara wine countryThe hit 2004 film Sideways put Santa Barbara’s Wine Country on the map. After the success of the film, audiences were treated to a snapshot of what this stunning region has to offer – awe inspiring vistas with endless rolling hills concealing a patchwork of windy roads and charming towns possessing a distinctly old western feel.

And lets not forget the authentic examples of cool-climate Pinot and Chardonnay, or the fact that in just a short two hour drive from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles one can quite literally escape to this otherworldly paradise that’s seemingly frozen in time.

But dig a little deeper, and the plot thickens. After spending a week in Santa Barbara Wine Country, I feel it’s the regions unexpected diversity, tightly-knit community of passionate farmers and winemakers and its unique topography directly exposing it to the harsh cooling influences of the Pacific Ocean that tell the whole story. Oh, and even Miles might be surprised to find that not only is there such a good thing as great Merlot, but there’s even great Santa Barbara County Merlot!

Santa Barbara Wine Country

What Makes The Region’s Topography So Unique?

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The Landsby Solvang Hotel | Savor Your Stay in Solvang

The Landsby Hotel | Savor Your Stay in Solvang

Landsby Solvang

Founded in 1911 by Danish settlers, the charming, emphatically Danish town of Solvang is but a short forty minute drive (a scenic one at that via CA-154) from the city of Santa Barbara. If Solvang’s convenient, central location makes sense as your home base while exploring the surrounding Santa Barbara County wine country, you might consider making The Landsby Solvang Hotel your home away from home.

Located in-between the towns of Lompoc and Santa Ynez, the Landsby Solvang celebrated its grand opening in May of 2015 after undergoing extensive renovations. The boutique hotel boasts a clean, contemporary Scandinavian design envisioned by LA-based design firm Studio Collective that made me feel right at home after a long day of traveling from the East Coast.

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Upgrade Your Tasting Experience With Arrowood’s New “Private Seated Tasting”

Disclaimer: While this post was sponsored by Arrowood Vineyards, all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Arrowood Vineyards

The popularity of Cabernet Sauvignon is no secret, and readers often ask for my recommendations when planning a trip to Sonoma and Napa since I spend so much time there; and while I’m immensely fond of Sonoma and Napa producers alike, I often find myself recommending Sonoma Cabernet producers these days. Why, do you ask?

Because the stronger maritime influences of Sonoma’s climate generally lends itself to more restrained, lower-alcohol Cabernet Sauvignons and the prices of the wines are often more reasonable than their better-known Napa Valley counterparts.

Plus, those who think great Cabernet only hails from Napa Valley might just be in for a surprise, as even I was when I recently visited Arrowood Vineyards and Winery, located in the very heart of Sonoma Valley just off of Sonoma Highway 12.

The “Private Seated Tasting” offers guests an intimate introduction to Arrowood’s Compelling Portfolio of Reserve-Level Cabernets Paired with Gourmet Cheese and Charcuterie While Overlooking the Panoramic Vineyard Views of the Arrowood Estate. 

I recently had the pleasure of visiting and experiencing the winery’s brand new “Private Seated Tasting” experience, and was delighted to find that truly compelling Cabernet Sauvignon was not just a part of the the tasting, but was proudly the star. Of the five reserve wines I was able to taste, four were 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Included in the tasting and paired with a gourmet charcuterie plate were the following wines:

  • 2013 Arrowood Proprietary Red (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec)
  • 2013 Arrowood Monte Rosso Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2013 Arrowood Smothers-Remick Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2013 Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon Réserve Spéciale
  • 2005 Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon Réserve Spéciale

Offering distinctive wines that are uniquely expressive of their terroir is very much part of the soul of Arrowood, as Richard Arrowood, who founded the winery over 30 years ago, was an early pioneer of vineyard-designated offerings in Sonoma County. While Richard retired from Arrowood in 2011 (his legendary winemaking career spans more than 50 years in Sonoma), he recognized early on the potential for Cabernet Sauvignon in various regions throughout Sonoma.

Arrowood Vineyards

Guests can choose to enjoy the Private Seated Tasting on the patio overlooking Arrowood’s Estate Vineyards

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Italy’s Tenuta Sette Ponti Produces a Pair of Tuscans to Treasure

Italy’s Tenuta Sette Ponti Produces a Pair of Tuscans to Treasure

Tenuta Sette Ponti

Photo credit: http://www.seminarioveronelli.com

While the words ‘Super Tuscan’ and ‘Superb Value’ are rarely uttered within the same sentence, the Tenuta Sette Ponti estate, nestled in the heart of Italy’s Chianti region, continues to produce uncommonly distinctive wines that over-deliver for their respective price points.

Two wines in particular, the Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo ($30) and Tenuta Sette Ponti Oreno ($70) have undeniably played a considerable role in the estates success, as these wines consistently demonstrate Tenuta Sette Ponti’s ability to produce high-quality, value-driven wines year after year. As an added bonus – these wines are made even more accessible by the fact that they are widely distributed, making them easy for consumers to find.

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Belden Barns | Your Wish For Affordable Pinot Just Came True

Belden Barns | Your Wish for Affordable Pinot Just Came True

Belden Barns

Quietly tucked away off of windy Sonoma Mountain Road is where you’ll find Belden Barns Winery. Resting at roughly 1,000 feet of elevation on the Northwest shoulder of Sonoma Mountain, this unique property is the original home of Steiner Vineyard, the acclaimed site that has provided the foundation for sought-after wines from producers such as Donelan Family, Carlisle and Eric Kent.

Originally founded by Bennett Valley/Sonoma Mountain pioneer Dave Steiner (who was actually married to the founder of Matanzas Creek), the property had fallen into disrepair and most of the vineyards were badly damaged by phylloxera; until Nate Belden recognized the potential of this site and acquired the property in 2005.

Belden Barns

Growing up immersed in agriculture, Nate spent his youth on a horse farm in Colorado until a career in finance transported him to the sometimes harsh realities of city life. But as time went on he began to miss his former agrarian lifestyle more and more. He dreamed of getting back to his roots, and a trip to wine country with friends ignited an idea and a passion that he couldn’t resist. After a year of searching and dreaming of the perfect property, Belden Barns became a reality.

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Fall for Cabernet! | My Best Cabernet Under $100 Selections

Fall for Cabernet! | My Best Cabernet Under $100 Selections

Best Cabernet Under $100

As the vestiges of summer become nothing more than warm fading memories, what do you look forward to most? For me, the cooler weather brings with it a few of my favorite things. From watching the spectacular fall foliage transform the landscape, to sipping warm chai lattes in the brisk sunny weather or scouring the pumpkin patch with my girls for the finest specimens possible. But there’s yet another pastime of paramount importance to me… hunting for the Best Cabernet Under $100!

As the holiday season kicks off in earnest (can you believe it’s almost December?!) and we transition from crisp, refreshing whites to robust, warming reds, I thought readers might be wondering which Cabernet’s were worthy of their consideration. I hope you’ll find this compilation of the best Cabernet under $100 resourceful as you celebrate with friends and family this season – there’s something for every budget!

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October is Merlot Month | Drink Napa and Sonoma Merlot!

October is Merlot Month | Drink Napa and Sonoma Merlot

Merlot Month

As you have probably heard, Northern California has been ravaged by devastating wildfires that began unexpectedly on the evening of October 9, 2017. The combination of extremely dry, hot conditions and the blistering Diablo winds caused widespread sections of wine country to explode with uncontrollable fires.

Since they began, 41 lives, 3,500 structures, 16 wineries and in excess of 245,000 acres have been lost in this region many of us hold near and dear. So many families have lost everything in what has been described as the most deadly wildfire episode the region has ever experienced. The brave, tireless efforts of firefighters, first responders and volunteers will not soon be forgotten.

My next article in queue was originally going to be one highlighting recommended Cabernet Sauvignons from various regions at price points for every budget, but I have decided to briefly postpone that in an effort to bring what attention I can to supporting this hard hit region.

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Zachys Makes a Bold Splash onto the DC Wine Scene

Zachys Makes a Bold Splash onto the DC Wine Scene

Zachys DC

Photo Credit: Zachys

I recently had the opportunity to experience a few exciting firsts: I attended my first auction bidding party as well as my first wine auction. It was a double whammy of oenophilic excitement, as attendees competed for incredible lots while sipping the exalted likes of ’82 Cheval Blanc, ’96 Dom Pérignon Rosé and ’05 Araujo Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

There was an undeniable energy permeating the room as the auction was live-streamed from New York on a pair of big screen flatscreen TV’s, and it all went down at the new Zachys showroom in the NE quadrant of DC, located at 3521 V St NE, Washington, DC 20018. Zachys DC

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