Wine Country Half Marathons in USA and Canada

If you are a long distance runner and live in either BC, Washington, Oregon, or California, there is a wine-related race for you.  Details below.  Enjoy!

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Destination Races

Destination Races (Image courtesy http://destinationraces.com/runbc/)

March 26, 2015 – Sonoma, Calif. – Destination Races, creator of the Wine Country Half Marathon Series, has partnered with game-changing brands across respected categories to expand its on-course and off-course consumer experience. Newton Running is back for the second year as the series Presenting Sponsor; Alaska Airlines has become the Presenting Sponsor of the Wine and Music Festival; Fitbit as the market leader in connected health and fitness, CamelBak hydration systems, GU Energy Labs athlete nutrition and SOLS’ custom 3D printed insoles are also new to the Series this year and will extend their partnerships to 2016 and 2017. Each sponsor will offer a unique and captivating experience to the Wine Country Half Marathon Series.

Destination Races has attracted a complementary and collaborative sponsor portfolio that will be instrumental to helping heighten the race weekend experience for all participants. The sponsor portfolio reflects the Destination Races brand mission: To deliver unforgettable race experiences celebrating why we run – capturing imaginations, encouraging camaraderie, inspiring courage and fueling passions.

Today’s race event landscape and half marathon calendars are booming, and consumers face a flood of race choices. As a result, sponsor brands are getting lost in the noise. According to Running USA, nearly two million people finished a half-marathon in the U.S. last year, an all-time high and a fourfold increase from 2000. Yet, there are few “destination” races that really capitalize on the local experience around the half marathon event while also creating several intimate opportunities for the racers to interact with the multiple supporting brands.

Sponsors are rethinking their strategies and seeking higher-quality events that offer more than just a start, finish and medal. Destination Races offers sponsors multiple intimate events, receptions and activities in which to interact with key active consumers. The seven wine country half marathons, spanning across prominent wine regions in North America, offer signature, hand-selected settings and tastefully planned schedules that can be experienced over an unforgettable three-day weekend. Destination Races offers the perfect race weekend for runners and food and wine enthusiasts alike, complete with scenic courses, post-race Wine and Music festivals, and exclusive access to renowned wineries, gourmet tastings and local personalities.

Each individual race within the series is set apart and unique to the local region. Destination Races works with the tourism boards and winery associations along with the wine makers themselves to offer the very best of the different wine regions. This also gives participants access to exclusive local hotels and B&Bs during the weekend, often at special rates.

“Destination Races offers a first-class, memorable lifestyle experience that is relatively unique to the endurance industry,” states Destination Races founder and President Matt Dockstader. “We feel it’s important to partner with brands that share our goals and have a passion not only for running, but also the high-touch, wine country experience. We are extremely excited to showcase all these fantastic brands and their creative activations in our series this year!”

Other noteworthy partners of Destination Races include Clif Bar, Kicking Horse Organic Fair Trade Coffee, Purity Organic Juices, Calistoga Olive Oil, RedFox Wireless Headphones, Krave Jerky, Hint Water, ElliptiGO, Zim’s Max-Freeze Muscle and Joint Pain Reliever, Enduropacks Nutrition System, Scharffen Berger Chocolates, Stance Socks, and Lagunitas Brewing

About Destination Races
Destination Races, based in Sonoma, California, is the pioneer producer of the Wine Country Half Marathon Series. Founded in 2004, the Wine Country Half Marathon Series consists of seven races across prestigious wine regions in North America. Offering unforgettable experiences on and off the course, including the popular post-race wine and music festival, runners travel far and wide for these boutique destination races. The race series attracts elite runners as well as food and wine enthusiasts who share their common bond of running and celebration. The Wine Country Half Marathon Series has limited fields in each event to ensure the participants and their guests can enjoy all the race weekends have to offer, including exclusive winery tours, plus receptions and dinners featuring the local bounty at esteemed wineries and other unique venues.

Current races include – Santa Barbara, Northern Virginia, Napa-to-Sonoma, Oregon (Willamette Valley), Kelowna, B.C., Healdsburg, and Temecula Valley, California.

For more information on the event series and Destination Races, go to http://www.destinationraces.com, friend them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter @winecountryhalf, and see exclusive race images on Instagram

A Few Quick Thanksgiving Wine Picks

Traditional Thanksgiving dinner courtesy of BenFranske

It’s very easy to get busy with work and family this time of the year.  And Thanksgiving comes knocking on the door extra early in October for us Canadians this year.  Some of you may be off to the Okanagan to enjoy their Fall Wine Festival.  Pick up a few bottles from the great wineries there to help you celebrate October 8.  Let’s look at a few red and white wines that you may want to have with your roast turkey or ham this year.

Wine Pairings for Roast Turkey

Roast turkey can be quite rich in flavour, plus gravy adding extra flavour.  You need a wine that can stand up on it’s own and complement the roasted flavours. A lightly oaked Chardonnay is one choice, an aromatic Viognier, or if you prefer red, a juicy Merlot or a Pinot Noir. A few that I’ve tasted over the past year:

  • Fort Berens Estate Winery Chardonnay 2011 ($17.99). This plus 2 reds from Fort Berens made me sit up and take notice.  Such quality from a new winery in a new BC wine region: Lillooet! Pale pear skin colour. Light vanilla and apple aromas.  Light body with peach flavour and a hint of oak and cinnamon. A very elegant, integrated wine.
  • Kalala Organic Estate Winery Dostana Chardonnay 2010 ($18.90). Medium lemon in colour with a nice apricot nose.  Medium body with honey, oak and apricot flavour. Very tasty.  Medium acidity with a hint of sweet spices.
  • Stag’s Hollow Viognier 2010 ($21.99). Light orangy nose.  Medium body, round mouthfeel with medium acidity. Citrus, peaches, vanilla and nutmeg on the palate.
  • Trivento Tribu Viognier 2011, Argentina ($9.99. SPEC listing). This was a very surprising wine for sub $10.  Light orange, peach and citrus nose.  Medium minus body with flowers, orange, and spice on the tongue.  Dry citrus finish.  A nice wine.
  • Burrowing Owl Estate Winery Merlot 2009 ($30). Light transparent garnet in the glass. Bright ripe cherry nose.  Light body, dry with ripe cherries and vanilla flavours.  Sweet cherry finish.
  • Bench 1775 Winery Merlot 2011 ($19.90). This was my surprise red wine of the tasting as I had not had their wines before.  I now want to try all their wines.  The Merlot was opaque ruby in colour.  Interesting nose of apples and plums. On the palate you get soft tannins, and flavours of yellow plum and red cherries. The yellow plum really stands out. Quite a different Merlot.  Give it a try.

Wine Pairings for Roast Ham

Roast ham is also quite full flavoured.  It has some sweetness to it, and can have other flavours such as some smokiness, depending on how it’s prepared. Riesling is a nice pairing with ham; think Alsatian food.  I think a  Cabernet Franc or Pinot Noir would also be nice with ham.

  • Burrowing Owl Estate Winery Calliope Riesling 2011, BC ($14.99). Nice nose of citrus, apple and stone fruit.  Dry with high acidity, but still has some roundness on the palate.  Peach flavour with a slight herbal edge.
  • Fort Berens Estate Winery Cabernet Franc 2010, BC ($24.99). Deep garnet in colour with light cedar and ripe cherry aromas. Dry, medium plus body with cedar, oak and ripe black fruit flavours. Ripe fruit and vanilla on the finish. This wine won a Double Gold Medal at the All Canadian Wine Championships.
  • Pewsey Vale Riesling, 2011, Australia ($23.99 SPEC).  Nice lime, lychee and flowers on the nose. Medium minus body, light acidity with lots of citrus and stone fruit flavours. Very tasty.
  • King Estate Winery Estate Signature Pinot Noir 2010, OR ($36.99).  King Estate is the largest, or one of the largest wineries in Oregon, but that doesn’t mean poor quality.  They produce very good Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.  They use organic and sustainable farming methods. Their Pinot Noir had light aromas of vanilla, red cherries and eucalyptus.  Medium minus body with a light mouth feel.  Raspberries, some tea leaves flavours, with spice showing up mid palate.  A quality wine!
  • Haywire Pinot Noir 2010, BC. Light garnet in the glass. Orange pekoe tea, nutmeg, violets, and raspberry aromas with a bit of match stick later on.  Quite a complex nose. Round, dry with red cherries, red berries, violets, some sweet spices and a streak of minerality. Medium length. Subtle tannins, which pick up on the finish. Excellent.
  • Carmen Pinot Noir Reserva, 2010, Chile ($18) – Violet aromas.   Cinnamon, violet, vanilla and cherry flavours.  Light body, low tannins. Very tasty.

I wish you many happy Thanksgiving with your family now and in the future. Cheers!

“He Said, She Said” Wine Seminar at Taste of Tulalip 2012

Rub foreheads at Taste of Tulalip

The Taste of Tulalip is right around the corner; November 9 and 10, 2012. It has a Celebration Dinner, a large Tasting Room, plus many smaller food and wine events.  One of these events is the “He Said, She Said” wine seminar.  The event, an interactive panel of 5 top wine makers, quizzing Tulalip Resort Casino Sommelier Tommy Thompson and Leslie Sbrocco (a.k.a Head Thirsty Girl).  More details about this event are below, straight from the Taste of Tulalip.  IF you have not bought tickets for this event, or any of the other events, buy them ASAP, as they will sell out, and they are all fantastic!  Here is the link to tickets.

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Tulalip, Washington — Tulalip Resort Casino Sommelier Tommy Thompson has devised an exuberant way to learn about wine at the 4th annual Taste of Tulalip on November 9th and 10th.  Attendees will have a chance to rub foreheads with two of the greatest wine minds around:  racy wine raconteur Leslie Sbrocco (a.k.a Head Thirsty Girl) and wine wizard Tommy Thompson (Tulalip’s Head Drinks Dude).  The duo will emcee a fast-paced, fun-filled discussion, “He Said, She Said” – an interactive wine journey, along with a panel of five top winemakers from around the globe.

Lucio Gomiero, Vignalta Pinot Bianco ‘Agno Casto’, Veneto, Italy, 2010
Vignalta was founded by Lucio Gomiero in 1980 and is located in the northern Italian region of  Veneto, in an area called Colli Euganei. Before Lucio came on the scene, these wines could best be described as underachievers. Lucio saw the potential in the unique soil and topography of the land, treating his vineyards as if they were on French Bordeaux Grand Cru estates (which he emulates).  He is now the recognized champion of the area, just as Angelo Gaja is in Piedmont and Robert Mondavi was in Napa.

Marc Perrin, Famille Perrin Chateau de Beaucastel  Chateauneuf du Pape ‘Vielles Vigne’ Roussanne, France 2009
It is no coincidence Famille Perrin is the leading organic wine grower of the Southern Rhône Valley, where they occupy the region’s best terroir. Their values have given them a worldwide reputation for excellence: absolute respect for the soil, a commitment to manual methods and a deep belief in organic viticulture. Nature and tradition are key to the Famille Perrin way and this approach has continued seamlessly over five generations.  Each wine is unique; organic and biodynamic approaches are used, as Perrin has mastered the art of blending and bringing out the freshness of the Southern aromas.

Ron Penner-Ash, Penner Ash Pinot Noir ‘Pas de Nom’, Willamette Valley, Oregon 2009
The winery’s self-avowed “mature cellar rat,” Ron loves the physicality of winemaking. Along with his cellar work and vineyard management, he has always been fascinated with technology and innovation. During his 20 years as a public school teacher in California and Oregon, Ron’s interest in technology and its potential classroom impact led to a collaborative grant with Oregon Public Broadcasting. “The wine industry’s annual cycle parallels that of teaching,” Ron says. “I’ve learned that Mother Nature can be more demanding than a pre-adolescent drama queen.”

Sean Boyd, Woodinville Wine Cellars Cabernet Franc, Washington State 2008
Boyd joined Woodinville Wine Cellars in 2002. Growing up in a Californian family surrounded by gourmet food, fine wines and journalism (his father is a professional wine critic), Sean began cultivating his craft at an early age. After working for five years at a California wine shop, Sean left home at age 20 to learn the art of fine winemaking. He traveled the world, visiting leading viticulture areas such as Australia, Portugal, Spain and New Zealand where he worked for several prominent wineries.

Heidi Barrett, La Serena Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, California 2008
Barrett grew up in a Napa Valley winemaking family, and great genes have helped her to become one of California’s leading winemakers. It is said that winemaking is a combination of science and art. With a scientist-winemaker father (Richard Peterson) and an artist mother, it is no surprise that Heidi was drawn to the industry. With great enthusiasm, a love for what she does and an incredible wealth of experience, she blends the art and science of winemaking like few can.  Heidi has been responsible for some of California’s most notable cult wines, including but not limited to: Screaming Eagle, Della Valle Vineyards, Grace Family Vineyards, Amuse Bouche, Showed Vineyards and Fantasia. She is a consultant for Diamond Creek Vineyards and Niobium-Coppola, and has her own wine label, La Serena.

Where, When, and How Much?

Leslie and Tommy’s “He Said, She Said” seminar will take place on Saturday the 10th at 11:30 am in the Canoes Cabaret.  It is offered as part of the Taste of Tulalip 2012 “All Access Pass” priced at $225 per person (which also includes a cooking demonstration with celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, the Private Magnum Party in the Impulse Lounge and the Grand Taste). More information and ticket purchase for the November event is available at www.tasteoftulalip.com .

A Pinot Lover’s Dinner with Amity Vineyards

A last minute Tweet to me, asking if I’d like to try some Oregon Pinots, was all I needed to get me to Raincity Grill to try the wines of Amity Vineyards paired with expertly crafted entrees. Our pinot passionate speaker was Myron Redford, President & Senior Winemaker of Amity Vineyards.

Myron Redford of Amity Vineyards

Myron was originally from Seattle and was trained in wine making.  He travelled to Europe and was introduced to Pinot Noir. In 1974 a winery in Oregon was available for sale.  With the help of his mother, $15,000 secured his ownership of what is now Amity Vineyards. The vines were not originally Pinot Noir or Pinot Blanc, but would be over time.  Myron was one of the people on a review board analyzing various clones of Pinot Noir and how they thrived and the type of wines they produced in Oregon. With this knowledge, he selected those clones that would show pinots potential in Oregon, and at his winery.

Our first pairing for the evening was House Cured Wild Sockeye Salmon, barigoule vegetable salad with Amity Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc 2008. The Pinot Blanc was bright in the glass of a medium lemon colour. Red delicious apple with some citrus aromas. Medium body, dry on the palate but with a roundness to it.  More red delicious apple and lemon flavours.   High acidity and a bit of sweet spice.  This was a nice pairing with the lower acidity of the salad being complemented by the higher acidity of the wine.

Amity Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2008 with Thiessen Farms Quail Terrine

The second pairing was Thiessen Farms Quail Terrine (bacon wrapped country-style terrine, house-made brioche and cranberry compote) with Amity Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2008. This pinot was deep ruby in colour.  Nice nose.  Light cherry, raspberry, violets and vanilla aromas. Medium body. Round with spice, cherries, and violets flavours up front and nice acidity, followed by vanilla on the mid-palate. Long length. This is one of Amity’s larger quantities of Pinot Noir, with 4000 cases produced. The grapes come from 7 different vineyards. The grapes are kept separate when picked and are fermented and aged separately.  Finally these separate wines are blended to produce the final wine. The terrine was exquisite with the smokiness of the bacon and the savoriness of the terrine complementing the acidity and violet aromas and flavours of this wine.

Our third pairing was Nicola Valley Bison Flat Iron with plum jus, ‘helmers’ fondant potatoes, hazelnuts, and green beans with Amity Vineyards Winemakers Reserve Pinot Noir 2007. This wine is the top wine from Amity Vineyards.  Barrel selected from the best barrels to drink in the future. This wine is not meant to be consumed yet.  Full enjoyment comes with patience; 10 years if possible. The 2007 vintage has just been released and for the first time has 40% new oak. Past vintages used older, more neutral barrels for aging. This wine truly was a step above of the previous wine.  Deep ruby red in colour.  Violet, vanilla, and raspberries on the nose.  Later on in the glass you picked up some strawberry leaf and smokiness. Lots of vanilla and vanilla up front. Hot and spicy mid-palate.  Dry with tannins and astringency now, which should fade with aging. Medium length.  Round with light body and soft tannins. Protein loves tannins in red wine, and the dark gaminess of the bison paired nicely with this Pinot Noir, making both a bit softer.

Amity Vineyards Pinots and Riesling lineup

Our final pairing was dessert.  Honey roasted apricot tart tatin with thyme ice cream paired with Amity Vineyards Late Harvest Estate Riesling 2007. This wine was made with botrytis affected grapes, which imparts a honey or marmalade flavour to the wine. This wine was light pear coloured.  Petrol, peaches, and honey aromas.  Good acidity on the palate with peaches, honey and petrol flavours.  Medium body with long length.  A tasty wine. The apricots in the tart tatin were very flavourful with the acidity of the late harvest Riesling adding additional lively complexity to this dessert.

You should be able to find the Amity Vineyards wines in the private liquor stores in Vancouver. Enjoy.

Helping to Choose Your Wedding Wines

Your wedding is coming up. So many details to plan for. But for many, knowing which wines to pick, can be daunting. One way to help relieve this pressure is to have a wine tasting in your home with someone knowledgeable about wine, like me!

Whether you contact me or someone else, look for someone that has WSET (Wine Spirit Education Trust) or ISG (International Sommelier Guild) certification. Tell him/her what food you will be serving, as this is an important factor. Also tell them what style of wine you like. Do you like big red wines, soft wines, wines with lots of citrus flavour, Okanagan wines, etc.?

Your wine guide for the evening should pick 4 or 5 white and 4 or 5 red wines for tasting. It would help if you could have similar food to nibble on at the same time, as you would have at your wedding.  Having someone with a wine background can help, especially if you want something quite specific.  For example, if you love Pinot Noir wine, the person arranging your wine selection, should ask you about some Pinots that you have enjoyed in the past, and use that information to maybe select some wines from Burgundy, Oregon, California, and New Zealand, which all produce very nice Pinot Noir wines, and have different styles.  Even within one country, there can be different styles of Pinot Noir produced (e.g. Try a Pinot Noir from Marlborough and then one from Central Otago in New Zealand).

I would love to help make your wedding spectacular.  I do offer custom wine tastings, so please give me a try if you are in the Vancouver area.  Here is a link to my Private Wine Tasting page. Otherwise if you are elsewhere in the world, try searching online for WSET  or ISG courses and talk to an instructor, or go to a private wine shop and ask there.  Have a great wedding!

Back from Oregon

My blog has been quiet over the last week. That’s because I was out in Oregon trying pinot noir and pinot gris primarily. The coast where i was staying was really wet and cold. Not good grape growing area, but as soon as you move inland a bit, say around McMinnville, the weather warms up nicely. I was able to try wines from the $11 – $85 range, and both ends of the range were excellent. On the main page of www.mywinepal.com i will be providing reviews for the wines that I really enjoyed, but for the moment, to whet your appetite, here are a few recommendations:

Rex Hill Reserve Pinot Noir, 2006. This wine is produced by the winemaker barrel sampling and picking the best barrels to blend. This wine was medium garnet. Violet and plum aromas. Violets, ginger, cloves, and vanilla flavour. US$42

Sokol Blosser Dundee Hills Pinot Noir, 2006. 2006 was a hot year in Oregon so all wineries have very ripe fruit and a larger volume of wine produced. This wine was light garnet in colour. Spicy, strawberry, smoky, vanilla and cherry aromas. Spicy, light oak, with a cherry finish. US$38

Redhawk Vineyard and Winery Redhawk Red. This is a popular table wine for this winery. It is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. This wine was dark garnet in colour. Plum, currant and dark fruit aromas. Sweet black fruits, soft tannins and long length on the palate. US$11 (an unbelievable price)

Enjoy!

A quick review of new wines to Vancouver

Last week I attended a Trade Tasting which shows off the new wines coming into the Vancouver, BC market. There were too many wines to try, which is good for everyone, giving us more choices. But without knowing what to pick to enjoy with your bbq or sushi, for example, could be a problem for you. So what were some wines that I think you should look out for? Here they are:

Elephant Hill Syrah, New Zealand, 2007, $25, spec (very smoky aroma, with smoky, cherry flavours and medium tannins)
Delas Cotes Du Rhone, France, 2007, $17.99, spec (another syrah. Cherry and licorice aroma. Cherry, licorice flavours with medium tannins)
Panther Creek, Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir, Oregon, 2006, $31.75 (a fuller bodied pinot noir. Blackberry and vanilla on the nose. Cocoa, orange peel and currant flavours. Smooth.)
Marques de Caceres Rioja Blanco, Spain, 2008, $15.99, spec (Citrusy, green aroma. Lively apple and citrus flavours.)
Pierre Sparr et Ses Fils, Riesling Selection, France, 06/07, $18.01 (Apple/petrol aroma. Petrol, citrus, apple flavour. Light/medium bodied.)
Anakena Single Vineyard Viognier, Chile, 2008, $16.95 (Apricot and ginger aromas. Good acidity. Apricot and ginger flavours continue on the palate.)

Stay tuned for my upcoming trip to Oregon. I’ll be trying lots of Pinot Noir and letting you know the gems I find. Enjoy!

Las Vegas!

February 18, 2009 09:36:51
Posted By Wine With Karl

So you probably wondered why I have not posted lately. The answer is I took a short vacation to Las Vegas. Visited a few new casinos, played some table games, and of course kept my eye out for wine.

If you are looking for a nice wine bar, and nearby wine shop, I’d suggest that you visit the Palazzo. This is the new twin tower for the Venetian casino. It is a really beautiful casino. One of the things I found in the Palazzo is a very nice wine bar called “Double Helix Bar” and beside it is the “Double Helix Boutique”. In the boutique you can buy the wines that you tried in the bar.

From the Double Helix website:

…Double Helix’s nearly 2,100-square-foot space is located within the heart of the shopping center and includes a circular bar featuring more than 50 wines by the glass, available in either 2 oz. taste portions or 5 oz. glass servings. An adjacent boutique offers nearly 300 bottles of rare and hard-to-find labels from all over the world.

Featured wines include: Ken Wright Pinot Noir (Oregon), Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 1999, Sonoma-Cutrer Les Pierres Chardonnay, Gaja Ca’Marcanda Promis (Italy), Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand), and Dom Perignon Champagne (France) to name just a few….

So if you are going to Las Vegas, and need a wine fix, please visit the Double Helix. Enjoy!

Thinking about Pinot Noir

The movie Sideways popularized the Pinot Noir varietal. It is the classic red grape of Burgundy, but is getting competition from around the world, particularly from Oregon and New Zealand. Other countries, such as Canada and Chile are producing some nice Pinots as well. This is a cross over grape, I’d say, for people that primarily drink white wine because they don’t like the tannins from red wines. Pinot Noir grapes have low tannins, and depending on how the wines are produced can be very light, with wonderful red fruit (e.g. strawberries and raspberries) and violet aromas and flavours. There can also be the more “Burgundian” versions of pinot noir that have more of the earthy, barnyard aromas and flavours that some people enjoy.

So if you have someone you want to introduce to red wines, may I suggest a New World pinot noir. It is hard to go wrong with one from New Zealand. Matua, Tohu (aboriginal run), Cloudy Bay, and Villa Maria are some producers you may want to check out. Chile also makes some nice Pinot Noir. Two that I can recommend are: Cremaschi Furlotti and Casa del Bosque. If you prefer to try Canadian Pinot Noir, Mission Hill, Cedar Creek (try the Platinum Series if you can) and Quails Gate produce good examples.

With a lighter style Pinot Noir, you can pair these wines with fish or chicken. Try a roast salmon with pinot noir.

Enjoy.