The nation’s top wine professionals gathered at the Meadowood Resort in California’s Napa Valley last week to administer the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Masters Exam, a daunting three‐day test that measures a sommelier’s knowledge of wine theory, beverage service and tasting ability. After years of preparation, thirty‐seven candidates attempted the exam, but only two would pass: Melissa Monosoff of Savona Restaurant in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Eric Entrikin of Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino, California. They join a select group of 103 other Americans who have successfully completed the rigorous examination and are members of the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Masters Monosoff and Entrikin were officially welcomed to the Court at a champagne reception sponsored by Krug on Thursday, February 25, 2010. “On behalf of the entire Court, I would like to congratulate all thirty‐seven candidates for reaching the final stage of the examination process, and heartily welcome both Master Monosoff and Master Entrikin to our organization,” said Jay Fletcher, Chairman of the American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers. “They truly represent the best of the best and we look forward to their future contributions to the Court and the wine industry as a whole.”
“The quality and caliber of the candidates at this exam was outstanding,” noted Tim Gaiser, the Education Director for the American Chapter of the Court. “However, Melissa and Eric stood a head above the rest, demonstrating a superior knowledge of wine theory, an advanced understanding of beverage service, and an unparalleled tasting ability.”
Master Monosoff began her journey as a Master Sommelier in culinary school, but soon learned that her true passion was wine. She first enrolled in the Court’s Introductory Course in 2002 in Napa Valley and has spent the last eight years pursuing the goal of Master Sommelier with dogged determination. Her studies led her to London, California, and even Ohio, but the night before her exam found her in the exact same hotel where she had first stayed in 2002.
“I am thrilled to have passed the Masters Exam in the very same place where my journey first began,” said Master Monosoff. “It has been a long and sometimes difficult road, but earning the title of Master Sommelier has made it all worth it. It is an incredible honor and I am very grateful to all those who have helped me along the way.”
Master Entrikin leads the wine team at Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino, California, and cited both the support of his restaurant and the mentorship within the Court as key factors in his successful examination last Thursday.
“Passing the Masters Exam is the greatest moment of my life,” said Eric. “It was extraordinarily difficult and took years of preparation, but standing here among this remarkable group of Master Sommeliers is both humbling and inspiring. I look forward to the opportunity to mentor others through this process so they can share in the joy of this moment.”
“As just the third Master in the United States, it has been a pleasure to watch the Court grow and mature over the years,” said Frederick Dame, Chairman Emeritus of American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers and current President of the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation. “Having thirtyseven worthy candidates in one sitting is remarkable. I look forward to working with all of these sommeliers in the future and offer my sincere congratulations to Masters Entrikin and Monosoff on their outstanding exam performances.”
Our congratulations to both Melissa and Eric for achieving this lifetime accomplishment
Whole Foods Market has changed the way many Americans live by providing fresh organic , sustainable food and many other products.
Founded in Austin Texas in 1980, Whole foods today can be found in 38 states and the UK with over 280 stores. In addition , Whole Foods has been named by FORTUNE magazine as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” in America every year since the list’s inception 12 years ago, ranking number 22 in 2009.
Whole Foods is always "out in front " providing many different events for their customers. On any given day one can stroll through their local store and have the opportunity to sample , cheeses , salsa , beer , wine and many of the other products they provide. We have been to many winemaker dinners over the years but never have we attended a winemaker dinner in a "market " until now.
We have met Susan and Robert Summer from The Vineyard at Strawberry Ridge in the past. They have provided their wines to the famous Rao’s restaurants in New York and Las Vegas and on this occasion a launch of their wines in Whole Foods Market. Their wines are hand crafted and are sourced from prime estates in Napa and Sonoma County.
Frank Pellegrino Jr from the legendary Pellegrino family of RAOs was on hand as well to give the guests at this winemaker dinner a real exploration of these great wines.
The staff at Whole Foods market has always been very helpful but little did we know that many of them are so very talented. At this one of a kind dinner at the Whole Foods Market in Summerlin just outside of Las Vegas we discovered many hidden talents. Some of the team members are Chefs , Wine Experts and renowned Opera singers. The staff put all of their skills together to provide the guests with a wonderful evening.
Robert Summer explained how he and the Pellegrino family have worked very closely to provide high quality wines with the RAOs label to their very famous restaurants. He even surprised many of us with a barrel sample of his latest wine to take on the RAOs label , the 2009 Pinot Grigio.
FIRST COURSE :
Cesar Salad ,
crisp romaine with a creamy dressing topped with shaved Parmesano Reggiano
Artichoke Pesto Crostini ,
baby artichoke hearts , shallots , olive oil , Italian parsley and Parmesano Reggiano
RAOs 2007 Napa Valley Chardonnay
SECOND COURSE :
Grilled Rosemary Lamb Italian Sausage
with tender asparagus
served two ways-choice of creamy alfredo with black pepper
RAOs signature Marinara
RAOs 2007 Napa Valley Merlot
Espresso chocolate covered almonds , shaved
chocolate and masscapone mousse
The wine parings were right on , with each wine paring nicely with each course. The last paring was the most interesting and provided a good contrast in flavors with the last course.
Robert Summer and Frank Pellegrino Jr were always gracious and provided the guests insight into the winemakeing and and an intimate look at RAOs and their own wine label. The team members of Whole Foods provided a real first class dining experience and for a few hours that evening got to show off many of their passions .
Join Elaine from VINO LAS VEGAS as she speaks with Whole Foods Market Speciality Manager Robert Davies about the RAOs wine and the Whole Food Market philosophy.
The Gremillet family has been winegrowers for several generations and in 1979 decided to create Their own Champagne. The estate composed of 33 hectares of vineyards is situated in a small village 45 kilometers from Troyes, the historic capital of Champagne, 180 kilometers south of Paris.
The vines from which their Champagne is produced lie on steep, sun-drenched hillsides and interestingly enough, one out of every 1000 bottles of Champagne sold in the World was produced in their cellars.
This amazeing family produces a wide variety of Champagnes. On this very special night we had the opportunity to enjoy two of these historic Champagnes.
The Blend : 100% Pinot Noir.
In the Glass : A genuine rosé with a pretty, deep pink, sun-drenched hue. Bright, luminous and limpid with fine, colorful, lively bubbles.
The Nose : The nose surprised us with a nice blend of freshly picked red fruit that moved into the palate .
The Palate : On the palate its is fruit came through and linger into the finish. The bubbles kept us entertained with a variety of fruit from cherry to blackberries and even strawberry with each sip.
The Blend: 50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay.
In the Glass : This Champagne showed us a golden bright color with creamy bubbles.
On the Nose : Delicate aromas of earth and flowers give way to a slight mint and vegital notes.
On the Palate : The Champagne was rich and luscious with as nice marraige of flavors and structure..
Champagne is a very complicated process that requires allot of hard work and patience. Having Champagne maker Jean-Christophe Gremillet at our table provided us the perfect opportunity to learn first hand about "the life" of Champagne. J
It is not often we get to sample perhaps one of the world's best Brandys . Executive Chef Jean-David Groff-Daudet , "Chef JD " invited VINO LAS VEGAS to an intimate lakeside tasting of ARMAGNAC-Joy at his restaurant Garfields.
Roland Gessler arrived from France and did not disappoint us . We started with the 1974 Vintage and worked our way back in time with the 1962 , 1940 , 1936 , 1912 , 1908 , 1900, and 1897 Bas Armagnac Millesime vintages and then for the finish , a taste of Bas Armagnac Exception that has been valued at $ 10,500 with only 36 bottles having been produced.
One of the finest producers of Armagnac, generations of the Gessler family have lived in the Bas-Armagnac region. The current generation, brothers Olivier and Roland Gessler have combined their love of Armagnac with their expertise and heritage to create the Joÿ collections. They have made some of the rarest brandies in the world.
Their Collection is a blend of the finest brandy produced over the last 200 years. The Vintages all from all of the appellations ( Haut Armagnac , Bas Armagnac and Tenareze ) and on the pallet one can tell that these brandys show off the entire region at its finest. The bottles themselves are a work of art deigned by Paco Rabanne consisting of hand blown crystal adorned with silver.
Armagnac is situated southeast of Bordeaux. It is distilled only once and has a lower alcohol strength normally about 53% where as Cognac is around 70%. The single distillation leaves more flavoring elements . Armagnac employs local black oak for aging allowing for faster ageing in the barrels. The result is that Armagnac is silky smooth but fuller-flavored than Cognac.
Vintages are to Armagnac what "grands crus" are to the finest wines. The difference being that wine continues to age in the bottle. Armagnac ceases to age once bottled , thereby preserving its qualities intact. The secret is knowing when to capture its unique flavor and Joy Armagnacs do this better than most any other producer in the region.
GARFIELD's at Lake Jacqueline at the Desert Shores.
The Court of Master Sommeliers, American Chapter held its first National Conference at The Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach, California, bringing together the largest group of Master Sommeliers in the history of the organization. The conference served as an occasion for Court members to gather, share ideas, and establish goals for the organization’s future. It also allowed each attendee the opportunity to bring and share a favorite bottle of wine – creating an extraordinary collection that was well‐enjoyed by the group during the three day event.
“I am so proud to have had the opportunity to join my fellow Master Sommeliers for the Court’s first National Conference,” stated Jay Fletcher, Chairman of the American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers. “The conference solidified the Court as a cohesive group of wine professionals and gave us a platform to discuss and demonstrate ways in which we can work to
support one another and our vocation.”
During the event, 72 Court members participated in wine tastings, food pairings, membership meetings, and various informational seminars. A special presentation, dinner, and tasting by Wine Australia allowed conference attendees the rare opportunity to taste Seppeltsfield Tawnies from 1908, 1953, and 1977, as well as a 1935 Seppeltsfield brandy. The 1953 and 1977 vintages were specifically drawn from their casks for the event to commemorate the years the Guild of Sommeliers and the Court of Master Sommeliers were each founded. They will not be available to the public until 2053 and 2077, respectively.
“We are very lucky to have such a diverse membership,” said Fred Dame, the Chairman Emeritus of American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers and current President of the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation. “Each Master follows a distinctive path to become an MS and therefore brings a fresh and valuable voice to the organization. We were able to celebrate and enjoy that diversity together this past week.”
The decision by the Court’s American Chapter to assemble its members for the first time was driven in part by the significant growth experienced by the organization in recent years. Though the path to become a Master Sommelier is as difficult and time consuming as it was in 1977, the Court’s growing numbers in all parts of the country have helped usher in new candidates from
wildly different backgrounds and experiences. The Court’s objectives for the coming year include continuing on this path and bringing its educational programs to still more new audiences.
The Court of Master Sommeliers was established in England in 1977 to encourage improved standards of beverage knowledge and service in hotels and restaurants. The first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam to be held in the United States was in 1987. The title Master Sommelier marks the highest recognition of wine and spirits knowledge, beverage service abilities, and professionalism in the hospitality trade. Education was then, and remains
today, the Court’s charter. There are four stages involved in attaining the top qualifications of Master Sommelier: 1) Introductory Sommelier Course; 2) Certified Sommelier Exam; 3) Advanced Sommelier Course; and 4) Master Sommelier Diploma.
There are 103 professionals who have earned the title Master Sommelier in North America. Of those, 89 are men and 14 are women. There are 168 professionals worldwide who have received the title of Master Sommelier since the first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam.
A virtual Who's' Who of the Las Vegas Food and Beverage world descended upon the Palazzo's newest venue the LAGUNA Champagne Bar for a
VIP event hosted by Moet Hennessy.
Laguna Champagne Bar , located on the Palazzo's casino floor is a relaxing and inviting bar that welcomes all of its guests who enjoy premium beverages in a high-end, luxury environment. This new venue can and will impress even the most distinguished beverage connoisseur.
We have been very fortunate over the years to have had the opportunity to meet Celebrities , Michelin and James Beard Award Winning Chefs , and renown winemakers. But , meeting World Champion Fighter "Smokin" Joe Frazier was an experience that we will cherish.
We had the opportunity to relive the glory days with World Heavyweight fighter Joe Frazier at The Venetian and The Palazzo’s Legends of the Sport. The night began with a highlight reel of the critically-acclaimed film, “Thrilla In Manila,” with a focus on the background of the rivalry, how the rivalry divided
For those very few people who may not know much about this legendary fighter, Joe has quite a remarkable story.
Frazier had a bullying fighting style, depending on bobbing, weaving and power punching. He is perhaps most famous for his vicious left hooks. Compared to Ali's style, he was close enough to the ideal bruiser that some in the press and media characterized the bouts as the answer to the classic question: "What happens when a boxer meets with a brawler."
According to Joe in the HBO special documenting "The Thrilla in Manilla" fight, he was partially blind in his left eye due to a training accident in 1965. This would indicate that throughout his entire professional career, he fought with only partial sight on his left side.Today ,Frazier is still training young fighters, although he needed multiple operations for back injuries sustained in a car accident. It has been reported that he and Ali recently attempted a reconciliation, but as of October 2006 Frazier still claimed to have won all three bouts between the two. He declared to a Times reporter, when questioned about his bitterness toward Ali, "I am what I am."
VINO LAS VEGAS has not spoken about an individual wine in several issues. As many of our passionate readers are well aware , we are always on the look out for those "hidden gems". Many times they have productions of less than 100 cases.
We have found another one of those hidden gems , this time in Napa Valley. The Hugo Family Cellars 2008 Veris was a nice find. This lovely , 100 % Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley was a real treat. The 2008 Veris is their inaugural release of a Sauvignon Blanc . Veris in Latin is defined as “the production of spring”. With only 200 cases produced , this wine is one of those small production world class wines that we are always in search of.
On the nose , This Sauvignon Blanc wine exhibited surprisingly complex aromatics of citrus and tropical fruit that can bring back distant memories of a warm summer day over looking a tropical ocean.
The Palate explodes with flavors of orange peel, papaya, guava , and freshly cut grass . Grapefruit notes also some through with a wonderful mouth feel that featured underlining acidity for a nice clean finish.
Glenn Hugo's relationship with Girard winery began over three years ago . Located in St Helena , Napa Valley with the soil composed of Riverbed remnants 80% Clay and 20% pebbles was the terroir that brought this great Sauvignon Blanc to life.
Pam and Glenn met in 2001 while working for a large restaurant company in Houston, Texas. In 2003, they took the chance , got married in April and in October packed up and moved to Napa, and began to live their dream.
Through the next few years Glenn got an education from from some of the great winemakers of Napa Valley. In 2007 they purchased two tons of Napa Valley Syrah, 1/2 ton of Russian River Syrah and 1/2 ton of Russian River Grenache.
After surviving their first harvest , Glenn and Pam vowed to produce quality, well-balanced wines to be enjoyed with food as well as on their own. Their passion for having fun with wine amongst family and friends is their passion and can be tasted in their wines.
Vegas Uncork’d Presented by Bon Appétit Celebrates the World of
Culinary Arts May 6-9, 2010
More than 30 Events Headlined by 50 Celebrated Chefs Including Paul Bartolotta,
Alain Ducasse, Bobby Flay, Michael Mina, Wolfgang Puck and Joël Robuchon
Vegas Uncork’d Presented by Bon Appétit is one of the fastest-growing epicurean events in the United States, will be held May 6-9 in Las Vegas, coinciding with this year’s Mother’s Day weekend. The four-day fête features new events, new chefs and a diverse and richly enhanced program with the ultimate who’s who in the food world, celebrating the status of Las Vegas as an international gastronomic destination.
In 2009, Vegas Uncork’d Presented by Bon Appétit experienced record attendance across the board—featuring an increase in participating chefs, new business partners and sponsors, and a 17 percent spike in ticket sales year over year. Building on that momentum, this year will feature more than 30 events blending the worlds of food, gaming and entertainment in the distinct way that makes Las Vegas so memorable.
The playground for Vegas Uncork’d Presented by Bon Appétit is destination wide and features this year’s anchor partner resorts, each of which offers an enviable roster of on-site restaurants and in-house chefs: Bellagio, Caesars Palace, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay and Wynn | Encore. Joining the lineup for the first time this year as an associate partner is The Venetian | The Palazzo. The event’s charitable partner is the Three Square Food Bank, which is dedicated to providing wholesome food to hungry people, while passionately pursuing a hunger-free community.
“Due to its extraordinary cuisine and its international draw, Las Vegas is a global destination that offers wonderful fun in a unique setting,” said Bon Appétit Vice President and Publisher Paul Jowdy. “Vegas Uncork’d Presented by Bon Appétit is a perfect opportunity to see the breadth of Las Vegas with its celebrity chefs and exquisite resorts paving the way.”
Sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), Vegas Uncork’d Presented by Bon Appétit is designed to celebrate Las Vegas’ ranking as the world’s most exciting culinary destination. “Vegas Uncork’d Presented by Bon Appétit celebrates our culinary scene in a way unique to Las Vegas,” said Cathy Tull, senior vice president of marketing, LVCVA. “It appeals to visitors drawn to top-tier epicurean experiences as well as the world-class resort atmosphere Las Vegas offers.”
“2009 was an extremely successful year for the program in a difficult economic climate,” said Rob O’Keefe, executive director of Vegas Uncork’d Presented by Bon Appétit. “Each year the program continues to build off its own momentum. As we enter into our fourth annual event, the growth continues as our partners and consumers spread the word that the combination of Las Vegas and its top culinary talent presents an epicurean festival not to be missed.”
Highlights of this year’s Vegas Uncork’d Presented by Bon Appétit schedule, which includes many new events, follow:
Culinary Conversation with Chef Wolfgang Puck – New to the program this year, Bon Appétit Editor-in-Chief Barbara Fairchild holds a tête-à-tête at Bellagio’s Fontana Lounge with the icon that created the world of the celebrity chef, Wolfgang Puck. Together, they trace the growth of Las Vegas as an international gastronomic destination.
Masters’ Series Dinners –This event will be hosted at Caesars Palace with Bobby Flay at Mesa Grill, Bradley Ogden at Bradley Ogden, Restaurant Guy Savoy with Guy Savoy and Rao’s with Carla Pellegrino.
· Masters’ Series Luncheons – Brand new to the line up this year are luncheons at The Venetian | The Palazzo with Wolfgang Puck at CUT, David Burke with David Burke, Restaurant Charlie with Charlie Trotter and Piero Selvaggio’s Valentino with Luciano Pellegrini and Piero Selvaggio.
Ultimate All-Star Interactive Luncheon – Step into the kitchen and play sous-chef to an all-star lineup of Wynn Las Vegas and Encore Las Vegas chefs at this incredible interactive luncheon at Wynn | Encore with Paul Bartolotta, Frédéric Robert, Alex Stratta and David Walzog.
· Grand Tasting at Caesars Palace – A delectable evening featuring 50 restaurants and 50 vintners at the wildly expanded, five-acre Garden of the Gods pool complex at Caesars Palace.
· Better by the Bay with Alain Ducasse and Charlie Palmer – Dine under the stars with a beachside barbecue at Mandalay Bay’s 11-acre tropical water environment and 1.6 million gallon wave pool. Enjoy an East Coast-inspired menu from Charlie Palmer and tastes from coastal France created by Alain Ducasse. Beach attire required. New to the program this year.
· Chef’s Table with Alain Ducasse – New to the event lineup this year is a seat at the table with Chef Alain Ducasse, considered to be one of the most renowned French chefs of his generation, at miX, high atop THEhotel at Mandalay Bay. For the first time ever, a small group of Vegas Uncork’d guests will join him as he conducts his seasonal menu changes.
· Fashion Feast: A Delicious Evening of Style and Taste at Bellagio – Haute cuisine meets savory couture––intricate details, impeccable lines and quality down to the last accessory on and off the plate. This event will deliver front row access to the most celebrated Bellagio chefs and the hottest Via Bellagio designers, while you indulge in a delectable five-course dinner accompanied by wine pairings selected by Bellagio's Wine Director and Master Sommelier Jason Smith. New to the program this year.
· Celebrity Chef Blackjack – Try your luck poolside at Encore with icons of the culinary world such as Bobby Flay, Charlie Palmer, Joël Robuchon, Alex Stratta, Kim Canteenwalla and Carlos Guia. Afterward, the excitement continues at the spectacular XS nightclub.
· Wine Immersion Experience at Bellagio – Want to know what the numbers really mean? Gain a better understanding of wine scores and ratings at a behind-the-scenes panel discussion hosted by Bellagio’s Wine Director and Master Sommelier Jason Smith at Jasmine.
· Payard Pâtisserie and Bistro Tea & Dessert Demonstration at Caesars Palace – Celebrate Mother’s Day weekend with a unique and scrumptious glimpse into the technique of this celebrated chef and his classic Parisian pastry shop. New to the program this year.
· Culinary Theatre: Two Master Chefs Collide – Rick Moonen of rm Seafood Cafe and Hubert Keller of Fleur de Lys and Burger Bar have mastered the art of entertainment––both in the kitchen and on the stage. As they prepare their favorite signature dishes and "dish" about each other, you’ll enjoy their delicious creations with a side of comedy and a cocktail or two. New to the program this year.
· Mother’s Day Brunch at L’Atelier at MGM Grand – Join Barbara Fairchild and Chef Joël Robuchon for an unforgettable celebration of mom on her special day. New to the program this year.
Many of these events are already on sale. To purchase tickets and to see more information about this year’s event lineup, please visit www.VegasUncorked.com. There, you may also opt in to receive information about additional events as they are added to the schedule.
This is one of the premier events that we cover and has become one of the most important culinaary and wine events in the United States. Vegas Uncork'd is an event that anyone who enjoys food , wine and entertainment should attend. See you there and ,
BON APPETIT !
VINO LAS VEGAS found ourselves beginning 2010 at the Venetian /Palazzo and its many parties. Whether toasting with Christina Aguilera or Nicole Richie during the midnight countdown, staying energized at the Red Bull No Limits New Year's Eve Party at Lagasse's Stadium or attending the Grand Opening of Smokin’ Hot Aces. Venues at The Palazzo featured special New Year’s Eve festivities that included LAVO, Lagasse’s Stadium, FIRST Food & Bar and Salute Lounge. Just a short stroll away at The Venetian, parties were held at TAO, Smokin’ Hot Aces, V Bar and La Scena.
The Red Carpet and its lights shined bright as we rang in the New Year with Nicole Richie as she hosted LAVO’s New Year’s Eve celebration with a special DJ set by Joel Madden and sounds by DJ Eric D Lux.
Nicole Richie was over at the Palazzo in LAVO ringing in the New Year as well. In 2003, Richie and best friend Paris Hilton starred in Season 1 of the reality series The Simple Life, in which they lived for a month with a family in the rural community of Altus, Arkansas. The series debuted on Fox on December 2, 2003, to high ratings. The premiere episode drew 13 million viewers, increasing Fox's Adults 18-49 rating to 79%.
In 2005, Richie wrote a semi-autobiographical novel, The Truth About Diamonds, which was released by Bharell Jackson Publishing. The novel is loosely based on her life, but is mostly fictional. It chronicles the life of Chloe Parker, the adopted daughter of a singer who makes her way through all of the hottest nightclubs and parties in Hollywood and battles a drug addiction. In early January 2006, The Truth About Diamonds peaked at number #32 in Hardcover Fiction on The New York Times Best-Seller List.
Vino Las Vegas has traveled extensively and brought our readers along with us. In almost every occasion , we have concentrated on the Wine and Food aspects of the city we were in.
Recently we had the pleasure and honor of being invited to spend four days in Monterey County and discover not only the wine and food of the area but its history , attractions , and agriculture. They call this living the "Monterey Food and Wine Lifestyle". We could not agree more. The journey begins !
Monterey County highlights everything that's best about California. From the seaside restaurants to the Salinas Valley's hillside vineyards, to Pebble Beach's perfectly groomed golf courses. It has a life style that is just waiting to be explored.
Throughout the county, the story of Monterey's rich heritage comes alive in its gardens, missions, and lighthouses. It is the most historic city in California, and the the area continues to enthrall writers, artists and of course guests.
In 1945 author John Steinbeck immortalized the one mile stretch that was Ocean View Avenue in Monterey with his book ‘Cannery Row.’ The notoriety of Steinbeck’s book focused so much attention on the street that in 1953 the city of Monterey formally changed the street name to Cannery Row. Cannery Row is now one of America's top visitor destinations, attracting approximately four million people each year.
Today, visitors to Cannery Row can learn about the past, enjoy the present, and marvel at how this street has been transformed into one of the world's most beautiful waterfront destinations.
This reception was about showing off a few of the many wineries in the Monterey County AVAs. Morgan wines are very well known.
Their Double L Vineyard is in the northern section of the Santa Lucia Highlands sub-appellation of Monterey. This organically farmed site has 45 acres currently producing fine Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah.We enjoyed the opportunity to sample all of them and were impressed with their complexity and well represented the variety and terrior appropriately.
The morning rays of the sun rose over Monterey Bay and began to shine through the wooden shutters of our spacious room . Sounds of seagulls and waves gently splashing on the rocks below reminded realize that we were no longer in the desert .
A quick breakfast on the patio and we were off to explore the many interesting aspects that Monterey County has to offer. Monterey County is famous for many things, however no true exploration of Monterey and the Salinas Valley could not be complete without exploring the works of Author John Steinbeck.
Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck was born and raised in Salinas not far from Monterey. His novels East of Eden, Tortilla Flat, Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday are among the stories that use Monterey county as the backdrop for his novels.
Monterey County Agricultural expert Evan Oaks, Owner of Ag Venture Tours took us on a journey through Steinbeck country like a true native. As we headed down Highway 68 towards Salinas he explained that Steinbecks Novels reflect his deep-seated roots in Monterey County.
Steinbeck first received attention with a novel set just after World War I in Monterey, titled Tortilla Flat. This book focused on Monterey residents of Mexican descent. His work at ranches and farms in Salinas informed his "California novels" set in the Depression-era farmland of the Central Valley, including Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath.
We arrived at Castle Rock which was the inspiration of John Steinbeck's Camelot castle in his book The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights, along with other stories, such as Pastures of Heaven, in which Steinbeck says that it has “so serene a beauty.” In this short story, “The Murder,” he starts the book with “This happened a number of years ago in Monterey County...At the head of the canyon there stands a tremendous stone castle, buttressed and towered like those strongholds the Crusaders put up in the path of their conquests. Only a close visit to the castle shows it to be a strange accident of time and water and erosion working on soft, stratified sandstone.”
The bluffs and castle-like turrets of stone that fascinated Steinbeck were featured in his Pastures of Heaven ( 1932 ). As Evan read to us from Pastures of Heaven we could not help but almost feel that John Steinback himself was looking down on us from the ramparts of his beloved Castle Rock.
As we proceeded down highway 68 to the Salinas Valley , Evan informed us that the Salinas Valley is the center for Monterey County’s 3.8 billion-dollar agriculture industry.
Due to its temperate, Mediterranean-like climate and fertile soils, the county has become the number one vegetable-producing region in the nation.
He continued to point out that this area supplies 80 percent of the nation’s lettuces and nearly the same percentage of artichokes. Broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, strawberries, peppers, squash, carrots, asparagus, celery, tomatoes, mushrooms, brussel sprouts, garlic, onions and flowers are also grown in abundance.
In addition, Monterey County has become one of the largest premium grape growing regions in California, with over 40,000 acres of wine grapes planted
Local growers and shippers in the Valley lead the industry in all phases of crop growth including seed technology, planting and irrigation, harvesting and marketing. Pre-packaged salads and precut fresh vegetables were created in the Salinas Valley, and this innovation has changed the way we buy vegetables.
The technologies that we developed in the Salinas Valley are being recognized and imitated by farmers around the world.
Today , Monterey County continues to be a leader in agricultural exports with over 570 million pounds of produce exported annually. Top importers of Salinas Valley produce include Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mexico and the European Union
The highly sought after Organic produce is and has been incorporated into the holdings of most large companies and many are continually working on experimental projects . There are currently over 14,000 acres of organic vegetables growing in Monterey County. More than 40 crops exceeded $1 million in production value in 2008.
D Arrigo Farms home of the Andy Boy name
80 Years in the making
It is hard to imagine that when Andrea and Stefano D’Arrigo brought broccoli seeds from their native
Along with broccoli, the D’Arrigo family brought a family passion for growing fresh vegetables that has continued through the decades.
Margaret D Arrigo , Executive Vice President was waiting as we pulled up to her family's sprawling headquarters facility . She explained that she was going to take us on a drive to their cactus pear farm to show us a new project they are working on and then for lunch.
Our 30 min ride to the farm took us along side of the Santa Lucia Highlands and the ancient alluvial fans that produce some of the countries finest wines. We turned down a dirt road and into a cactus farm. It seemed quite out of place right between of some very famous vineyards.
Margaret explained Edible cactus is also known as nopales (no-PAH-les), nopalitos or cactus pads. This vegetable is popular in Mexico and other Central American countries, parts of Europe, the Middle East, India, North Africa and Australia.
Its popularity is increasing in the United States where it can be found at Mexican grocery stores, specialty produce markets and farmer’s markets. In addition to the food aspect she has plans to use the cactus pear puree in various cocktails including Richard Oh's OH Zone vodka. 80 years ago D Arrigo was a pioneer in the Salinas Valley. Margaret and her brother seem to be keeping up the cutting edge tradition with their latest project.
Today, D'Arrigo Bros. Co., of
D Arrigo Lunch was nothing but spectacular
After spending most of the morning in the farms and fields of the Salinas Valley we were now ready to enjoy some the great food and of course wine that they are so famous for. Margaret D' Arrigo pulled out all the stops and put on a lunch that has to be one of the best we have had the pleasure to enjoy.
When you combine the talent of a great local Chef and a 5th Generation winemaker those are all the ingredients you need for a wonderful time.
Karl Wente , Fifth Generation Winemaker , Wente Family estates joined us for lunch. Karl explained that his family's vineyard is the country's oldest , continuously operated vineyard and was founded in 1883. With over 3000 acres of Sustainably farmed grapes , they have created a very well known and vast portfolio of wines.
He went on to add that Wente Vineyards has a restaurant , golf course , does catering events and even concerts. On this day , he enjoyed the fresh creations from Chef Todd Fisher with each course being paired with a Wente wine.
Chef Todd Fisher showed off his culinary talent and created a lunch that showed off the products of this fertile valley. His Caesar salad with Andy Boy Romaine Hearts was probably the freshest that we have had, understating we were very close to where it was grown. Of course a lunch in Salinas would not be a lunch with out Guacamole and Fresh Salsa. Chef took it one more step and made a Guacamole Rabe and ended our lunch with Prickly Pear Sorbet and Lemonade.
Broccoli Rabe & Carne Asada Tacos
paired with Wente Vineyards 2006 Small Lot Syrah was a pairing that was spot on.
Chef Todd Fisher really captured to flavors of the Salinas Valley with his
Colored Cauliflower Enchiladas and contrasted it by pairing the Nth Degree 2007 Pinot Noir
THE CUISINEIST Culinary Magazine takes a "foodie" look at this wonderful lunch and speaks with Chef Todd Fisher. Stop in and take a look !
Just when one may think the afternoon could not get much better , It did. Vino Las Vegas sat down with some of the founding winemakers in Monterey County and explored 5 of the 8 AVAs at a Pinot Noir Terroir Focus Tasting
Some of the best Pinot Noirs' in our opinion come out of Monterey County. With its cool climate and maritime influence , Pinot Noirs do well in most of the AVAs in the county. This area provides the proper temperature , warm days, a shorter frost season and less chance of unseasonable and damaging rains. The primary attribute of this singular climate is the cooling air of the Monterey Bay, which creates a longer growing season. As air in the southern part of the county warms at noon each day and rises, cool air from the Bay fills the void left by the rising warm air.
Grapevines in Monterey County tend to produce buds in the Springs, two weeks earlier than vines in other regions. Due to the cool growing season, the Fall harvest typically beings two weeks later than other regions. Thus, local grapes remain on the vine a full month longer, developing the characteristic intensity of flavor.
We had the opportunity to sample Pinot Noirs from Arroyo Seco. This AVA is almost in the middle of the county next to the Santa Lucia Highlands. The first Pinot Noir we sampled was 2007 J Lohr Fog's Reach Pinot Noir . This was a young Pinot but represented itself well. Monterey County legonary founder Steve
McIntyre was on hand and presented us with his 2006 McIntyre
Vineyards Misson Ranch Pinot Noir. Having more time in the bottle , this Pinot Noir showed what the Arroyo Seco AVA is all about , showing off the AVAs unique qualities. The Santa Lucia Highlands may be the county's biggest name. Located in some of the highest elevations of the county. This AVA is well known for its Pinot Noirs. Several Pinot Noirs were sampled from this appelation. The 2007
Bernardus Vineyards Rosella's Santa Lucia Highlands , 2007 Hahn Estates SLH Pinot Noir , Steve McIntyre was up to the task with his 2007 McIntyre Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir and was followed by Morgan Winery with there 2007 Morgan Winery Twelve Clones Pinot Noir and 2007 Morgan Winery Double L Vineyard Pinot Noir.
The next AVA we explored was the renowned Chalone AVA which is the oldest and located on eastern side of the county at very high elevations. Who else could start the tasting of this AVAs Pinot Noirs was legendary winemaker Michael Michaud. His 2005 Michaud Vineyard Pinot Noir was a great way to get our Pinot Noir trip started. Of course Chalone Vineyard was on had to show off their 2007 Chalone Vineyard Pinot Noir as well.
Not be be left out Carmel Valley AVA was well represented by Bernardus Vineyards and their 2007 Bernardus Vineyards Ingrids Carmel Valley Pinot Noir. The Monterey AVA was represented by
Carmel Road Winery and its 2007 Carmel Road Sierra Granite Pinot Noir. And Scheid Vineyards with their 2007 Scheid Vineyards Pinot Noir to finish this very special Pinot Noir journey through the hills and valleys of Monterey County.
A Visit to Monterey Bay Aquarium
If your staying on Cannery Row the world famous Monterey Bay Aquarium is worth a visit. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is located on the site of a former sardine cannery and has an annual attendance of 1.8 million and holds 35,000 plants and animals representing 623 species.
The basic design of the aquarium pumps 2000 gallons/minute of Monterey Bay ocean water, night and day, through the more than 100 exhibit tanks. During the day the water is filtered for viewing clarity. During the night, raw (unfiltered) seawater is pumped through exhibits, bringing in food in the form of plankton. Waste ocean water from the aquarium is returned to the Bay. This design makes the aquarium ecologically essentially part of the ocean in the Bay, and allows the culture of organisms such as Giant Kelp which are not suitable for ordinary saltwater aquariums.
We stolled amongst numerous sea life and were in totall awe of their beauty. This Aquariium is one of best known in the world and just another aspect that Monterey County has to offer to its visitors. Located on Cannery Row it is easlity accesbale and walking distance to many of the hotels.
In addition to appreciating the beauty of the sea life, we were at the aquarium in the evening for a very special event. There were winemaker dinners all over the county and ours was right here in the middle of the aquarium with great wine from Estancia and Chef David Anderson's culinary delights.
Estancia wines are very well known. Their winemakers strive to combine the best of both worlds with a state-of-the art winemaking facility, and a traditional, hands-on approach to to take advantage of the beneficial advances in winemaking technology that has developed over the years.
Scott Kelly joined Estancia in 2007 as Director of Winemaking and is responsible for the day-to-day activities of winemaking this includes walking the vineyards, tasting each barrel to determining blending, aging and bottling.
Scott knew wanted to be a winemaker from the time he was 17 years old. He worked his way to assistant brewmaster for Carmel Brewing Co. in Salinas, managing all aspects of brewing.
A year later, he joined Golden State Vintners in Napa Vally as a laboratory supervisor then promoted to cellar master and eventually assistant winemaker. Following Golden State Vintners, Scott then worked as winemaker for La Famiglia and then Robert Mondavi Private Selection before joining Estancia in 2007.
He continued on to earn Bachelor of Science degree in fermentation science from University of California at Davis and was also awarded a Certification of Master Brewers Program.
We walked into the Aquarium and realized at night this was a whole different experience than during the day. Guests had the very special opportunity to walk amongst sharks , large kelp forests , and even penguins while sipping on some great wines and tantalizeing treats from Chef David Anderson , Portola Resturant Executive Chef.
It was now time to dine. and dine we did. Each table had a winemaker or host from the winery to enjoy the wine , dishes and answer any questions we may have.
Chef Anderon's Farmed Artic Char Blanquette Crep paried with Estancia Reserve 2007 Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands paired great with the dish as its soft silky tanins and spice lead to a lingering finish which was a true complement to the dish.
Braised Beef Short Rib, red wine risotto was paired with the 2006 Estancia Mertage Paso Robles which melted in our mouth. Flavours and aromas of chocolate , black cherries and even rosemarry combined for a great marriage with this dish.
Last but certainly not least was a Rustic fig-almond tart and of course not surprisingly was paired with Estancia 2008 Riesling , Monterey County.
Chef David Anderson , Scott Kelly , Estancia wines and the Monterey Bay aquarium gave us all a memorable experience in a venue that was created by nature itself. We walked along the famed Cannery Row, marveling at the stars and taking in ocean aromas on the way back to the Monterey Bay Inn and preparing for a visit to Carmel Valley the next day.
In these days and times a big "buzz" world is Sustainability . The practice of Sustainable , Organic farming not only applies to our food but now , literally from the ground up, in the Vineyards.
The Monterey Plazza Hotel located on Cannery Row offered us an opportunity to meet Kris O' Conner from the Central Coast Vineyard team. She lead us in a discussion on their acclaimed Certification program.
It is important to realize that true sustainability includes the Farms, People and the environment. Kris O'Conner made the point that we recognize how the farm affects the land beyond the fence line and that farms work to protect the environment and care for their workers. The vineyard team encourages farms to plant cover crops to reduce erosion , minimize the tractor use and use alternative fuels. Kris O ' Conner stated the team regularly scouts the vineyards checking for pest-prey balance and will only use reduced risk materials as a last resort. Water conservation is also important as the vineyards are monitored for water use . A factor that many people over look when they talk about sustainability is the people. Social Responsibility O'Conner stated means to offer competitive wages , medical insurance , training and education because the workers are a very valuable resource.
The SIP Certified Vineyards have meaningful standards that are set by experts and the Growers must meet the highest level of performance just to be eligible. Independent inspectors confirm the grower has met the standards and an independent panel grants the certification based on audits or reports.
It is so important to our food supply that we look for the SIP seal that assures us , the consumer, that the growers protected our natural resources , treated their employees well and have sound business practices.
Some of the Vineyards that have achieved this highest level of sustainability are Ampelos Cellars , Edna Valley Vineyard , McIntyre Vineyards , Robert Hall Winery and Paraiso Vineyards just to name a few.
For more information about SIP Certified Vineyards please go to Sipthegoodlife.org
Over 200 years ago a viticultural tradition began in Monterey County. In 1983 The Amercian Vinticultural Association granted appellation status to 19,200 acres in Carmel Valley . Today , nine tasting rooms give visitors a chance to sample award winning Cabernet Sauvignon , Merlot and Cabernet Franc. But Carmel Valley is much more than just wine . VINO LAS VEGAS set out on a journey from Cannery Row to Carmel Valley to find many of the opportunities this interesting area provides.
We left the cool fog of Monterey Bay behind and drove down the famous Highway One that connects California's Big Sur to Carmel and from Carmel to Monterey in what John Steinbeck called the most dramatic meeting of Land and Sea.
On this day we were on our way to explore not just the wines that Carmel Valley is famous for but the shopping , art galleries , the 5000 acre Garland Ranch and relaxing hotels and spas such as the renown Carmel Valley Ranch.
Rich Tanguay, formerly of Topolos & Buena Vista, is the winemaker and overseeing the production of these award-winning wines. Renamed "Heller Estate Organic Vineyards", the wines are all estate bottled and, as stated above, organically produced. The current production is approximately 25,000 cases annually.
In the late 1970's, Bob and Patty Brower set out to fulfill their dream. Originally from the East Coast, they had a passion for wine and admired the French hospitality encountered while traveling in Europe. They saw the potential in Monterey County as a quality wine growing region, and in 1982 began building what is now known as Château Julien Wine Estate in Carmel Valley, California.
The winery's first release came in 1985 with Chardonnay and Merlot from the 1982 vintage. Today, the entire process of wine production takes place on the 16-acre estate, including the aging of nearly 2000 oak barrels of wine. Winemaker Bill Anderson joined the Browers in 1982, and produced the winery's first 100% Merlot with the premier vintage. Bill continues to produce wine at Château Julien Wine Estate, and has played an integral part in establishing Merlot as the winery's flagship varietal.It was a true honor to have Bob Brower pour his own wines for us in the Chateau. Bob's Private Reserve wines signify the heritage of the winery. The label dates back to the first release of 1982 Merlot and represents the highest quality wines produced from each vintage, with only 600 six packs produced annually.
We discovered many treasures as we headed back to the Monterey Bay Inn on Cannery Row along the very famous 17 Mile Drive. It is one of the most scenic drives anywhere in the world. The drive , which runs through Del Monte Forest, is seventeen miles of sea and sky, immaculate golf courses, and dream homes set graciously behind elegant gates...
We stopped at The Lone Cypress where we watched the sunset and snacked on Apple Pie from the Freedom Bakery and a Pear Tart from Patisserie Boissiere Resturant in Carmel. Of course a 2006 J.Lohr Late Harvest Riseling and a 2004 Late Harvest Desert Wine Santa Lucia Highlands was a great way to end our journey to Carmel Valley . We continued our drive by Seal and Bird Rocks, Fanshell Beach, Point Joe, as well as the natural habitat of the black cormorants, brown pelicans, California sea otters, harbor seals, and idle sea lions.
We saw the the the emerald fairways of such famous golf courses as The Links at Spanish Bay, Spyglass Hill and the world-renowned Pebble Beach Golf Links. The Monterey Bay Inn looked better than ever but the day was not quite over.
The Santa Antonio Valley in and around the Bradley-Lockwood area at the southernmost tip of Monterey County is the newest th AVA in the county and was designated as an official American Viticultural Area in June of 2007. Since then it has undergone a renaissance as growers and winemakers have come to rediscover the area’s suitability for growing robust, fully mature fruit. This area has attained a growing reputation for producing intensely flavored, complex wines of the sort more often associated with Paso Robles than with Monterey.We stopped in the newly opened tasting room of PIERCE Ranch Vineyards located right off of Cannery Row and met with owner Josh Pierce as we sampled from great seafood from Chef Bert Cutino , Chef at the Sardine Factory which is famous throughout the world.
Cosecheiro is a blend that derives its name from the Spanish cosechero, referring to the small, independent winegrowers of the Iberian Peninsula. The 2006 Cosecherio is a blend of 48% Tempranillo, 42% Touriga, 10% Tinto Cão of which only 60 cases were produced. Moderate tannins come through with aromas and flavors of cherry and plum are accented by notes of clove, and cocoa on the finish.
Tempranillo is a varietal that we are very familiar with. The Pierce Ranch 2006 Tempranillo is a blend of 94.2% Tempranillo, 4.3% Syrah, 1.5% Grenache of which only 135 cases were produced.