Monthly Archives: May 2012

Nurturing Vines and Minds

Like to run? Walk?  Drink wine?  Enjoy a beautiful day for a tremendously good cause?  Who doesn’t?

3rd Annual Viticulture Event Raises Funds for College-Bound Students and Local Charities

Raising support for scholarships, local charities, and research in viticulture and enology through the American Vineyard Foundation, the 3rd Annual Winery Walk, Rock and Run will take place June 2, 2012, from 9AM to 3PM among the vines of the picturesque Paraiso Vineyards.

The 5-mile course through private vineyards will benefit the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Foundation (MCVGF), which raises funds and provides scholarship opportunities to agricultural employee’s children. As tuition costs continue to rise and other scholarship support funds continue to disappear, the local demand for education assistance has never been greater. Since the MCVGF made its first scholarship, recipients have been the first in their family to attend college and look forward to giving back to their community and making their families proud. All recipients have shown leadership qualities in academics, extracurricular participation, and community involvement. In 2011, over $15,000 were awarded to local Monterey County students.

“Last year’s Winery Walk, Rock and Run was a stellar experience for all involved – even in inclement weather! – which shows just how strongly the local wine community feels about supporting their next generation,” said Rhonda Motil, Executive Director of the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Foundation. “Participants get to share in a beautiful, unique experience while knowing that they are directly impacting the life of an aspiring college student. It’s a simple, fun way to make a real difference in our community.”

Registration starts at 9 AM, with the walk/run beginning at 10 AM at Paraiso Vineyards, located at 38060 Paraiso Springs Road in Soledad. Upon completion of the course, each participant will be presented with a finisher’s tee shirt on the way to the after-party, where they can relax with massages from Aquablue Skin and Body Spa, and groove to live music from The Wild Turkeys. Lunch will be provided by Tacos Pacheco Taqueria, Portobello’s, and the Salad Shoppe, along with local wine and beer. It will be a great day in Monterey County’s Santa Lucia Highlands to enjoy fitness, beautiful vineyards, family, friends and a very good cause.

To participate in the walk, minimum donations begin at $100. Discounted team rates are available for walking groups of six or more. The MCVGF site,, has a simple online tool to register for the walk and create a customized walker page in order to begin securing donations from family, friends, and colleagues to support their efforts. While the prize for the participant who raises the most is an Apple iPad2, awards will also be presented to teams with the most funds raised, team spirit, and best costumes. All donations are tax deductible (Tax ID #31-1790962). Family and friends can cheer and enjoy the post-party activities with a spectator ticket for just $30.

For more event details and registration, visit or call 831.375-9400. For information about Paraiso Vineyards, visit


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Which wine/dress are you?

It’s the season for weddings, and we’ve been thinking a lot about pairing wedding dresses with wine.  (Why not?)  The following are some of our favorite pairings:

If you like Laetitia Vineyard & Winery La Coupelle Pinot Noir…

Kate cowl neck gown, inspired by the work of legendary fashion photographer Irving Penn, in hand-washed silk and crepe back satin, with dramatic draped low back and pooled skirt.  By Alix & Kelly.

Understated elegance is what Laetitia’s La Coupelle Pinot Noir is all about.  With dark fruit and chocolate notes, this full-bodied Pinot Noir is ideal for the woman who prefers the subtle to the spectacular.

If you like Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery‘s Espiritu Chardonnay…

Strapless ruched cream wedding dress with train and satin buttons down the back. by Paloma Bianco.

This wine is the definition of “rustic chic,” with notes of toasted nuts balanced by hints of green apple and a refreshingly grassy finish.  Perfect for the woman who is a little bit country.

If you like Zaca Mesa Vineyard & Winery’s Z Gris…

This blush silk gauze strapless bodice gown by Monique Lhuillier has a full embroidered skirt and grand bustled bow at back.

Only a wine like the Z Gris could satisfy a woman’s true feminine side.  On the nose, aromas of strawberry, melon, tangerine and guava fill the glass, with a lingering finish and a touch of minerality.


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Unity of Purpose from Field to Cellar

A longstanding partnership between a winemaker and vineyard manager produces phenomenal results

In wine, as in life, the best things take time.  Such is the story behind the partnership that produces Laetitia Estate Vineyard & Winery’s consistently extraordinary wines.  President and Winemaker, Eric Hickey, and VP of Vineyard Operations, Lino Bozzano, have cultivated a longstanding collaboration that carries Laetitia wines through from first leaf to the last bottle on the line.

Eric Hickey

Beginning his hands-on training in Laetitia’s cellar over twenty years ago, Eric Hickey has had ample time to discover what works best for the quality of the estate’s venerated brand.  “Staying eye-to-eye with Lino is the most important part of my job,” he says, “because the interplay between us is what ultimately determines the wines’ quality. Everything done in the cellar starts with what we do out in the vineyard.”

As a third-generation farmer, Lino Bozzano intimately understands how every nuance in the field impacts the final product.  “There is tremendous diversity in this small area, from the soils to the meso-climates,” says Lino. “It’s the perfect venue for understanding what site means to the wines.” Having started with Laetitia in 2004, Lino’s intimate knowledge of the 600+-acre estate includes the clonal properties, soil types and varietal composition of any given row of vines. This is particularly important for Pinot Noir, which makes up the backbone of Laetitia’s program.

Lino Bozzano

While it’s impossible to name any one facet of the terroir that makes Laetitia Pinot Noir great, Lino and Eric point to the vineyard’s soils as essential to their wines’ complexity and breadth of style.  Rolling hills comprised of volcanic pumice, sedimentary shale and rich, alluvial soils contribute different characteristics to each of the 57 Pinot Noir blocks.  Notes of cola and earthy spice (volcanic soils) or bright, red fruit (alluvial) are complemented and augmented by carefully made clonal selections such as 667 (dark berries), 2A (sarsaparilla) and 115 (juicy red fruit).

It is the unity of purpose between Lino and Eric – synergy with the land, the fruit, and with each other – that makes Laetitia the respected house it is today.  “It’s partly the beauty of having consistency on the team,” says Eric, “but it’s also the beauty of estate production. We know our property and our fruit like the back of our hand.  Sure, there are surprises from year to year.  But in the end, no one knows better how to work with our vines than me and Lino because we’ve been doing it for so many years.”

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Best Music Festival Alternatives in the West

Revel in the charm, camaraderie and quirkiness of these lesser-known summer festivals

It’s no coincidence that summer music festivals are the highlight of the year for music-lovers of all stripes.  Sunshine, exotic destinations, and talent galore make for glorious summer days and nights.  But what if you can’t afford a trip to Texas for Austin City Limits?  Or you missed out on tickets to the Aspen Music Festival and School?  No problem.  Here, we suggest five alternative festivals that will satisfy even the most ravenous music-lover among us.

Instead of Coachella: Sasquatch (Gorge, WA, May 25-28, 2012)

Just like the Coachella Music & Arts Festival, Sasquatch has the whole awesome-acts-in-the-middle-of-nowhere thing going.  But unlike Coachella, Sasquatch is comfortable – even communal – with mild weather and a fraction of the attendance, despite headliners like Jack White, Beck, Bon Iver, Feist, Tenacious D, The Shins, Beirut, and The Roots. (

Instead of the Oregon Bach Fest: Festival Mozaic (San Luis Obispo, CA, July 11-22, 2012)

Helmed by internationally-renowned violinist and conductor, Scott Yoo, since 1971, Festival Mozaic has specialized in presenting impeccable performances against a backdrop of pastoral vineyards, pristine beaches, and historic elegance across San Luis Obispo County.  The eleven-day schedule teems with chamber music and orchestral performances, as well as educational discussions and intimate salons. (

Instead of Monterey Jazz Fest: Vancouver Intl Jazz Fest (Vancouver, BC, June 22-July 1, 2012)

Presented by the Coastal Jazz and Blues Society of British Colombia, the Vancouver International Jazz Festival offers a hotbed of jazz talent in the city’s grandest venues such as The Orpheum and Vogue Theatres, as well as galleries like The Ironworks Studios and Performance Works on Granville Island.  This year’s big names include Bill Frisell, Wayne Shorter and George Benson.  (


Instead of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass: Telluride Bluegrass Festival (Telluride, CO, June 21-24, 2012)

If you’ve ever been to Hardly Strictly, you know that nothing compares to standing in Golden Gate Park soaking up the voices of America’s greatest troubadours.  But if you want a less crowded, more grassroots experience to go with your bluegrass, Telluride is for you.  This year’s acts include Alison Krauss and Union Station, John Prine, Edgar Meyer, John Fogerty, Mike Marshall, k.d. lang and Bela Fleck….all framed by the grand Rocky Mountains. (


Instead of Burning Man: Wasteland Weekend (California City, CA, September 27-30, 2012)

If your idea of fun is weathering sandstorms from the shelter of a pup tent in the middle of God-knows-where, but you can’t make this year’s Burning Man, never fear.  Wasteland Weekend is a “four-day post-apocalyptic party in the desert,” complete with top DJs, bands, fire dancers, modified vehicles, and “a world pulled straight out of the Mad Max movies, beyond the grip of so-called civilization.”  The venue is so out-of-the-way that “directions” basically amount to GPS coordinates.  Bring your costume (required) and your sense of adventure.  (


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