Update

Where has VinoVerve been the last year?

Well, the answer is long. After posting about a road trip to Arkansas last year, we were getting ready to send my daughter, Sophie off to college. Some of you may recognize her as the girl who can sabre a bottle of champagne, make and bottle wine, identify floral elements when she smells a glass and generally has acted as my personal sommelier for a good portion of her 18 years.

Our plan was to get her off to college (University of Oregon) and then I would get back into the swing of writing.

Well, as Robert Burns stated, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray”.

And astray would be an understatement.

Just a few weeks from our drive out to the Willamette Valley, we discovered there was a mass on Sophie’s spine. And that mass was cancer. Brain cancer. (the spine is made of the same stuff as the brain… this is how that is possible).

We spent the better part of the last year fighting this cancer. But it won.

My Sophie died.

**************

Me and Sophie

A picture of my Sophie

She had a love/hate relationship with this blog. She was proud of what she knew about wine. More than most adults. But she sometimes hated the time I devoted to it. This is pretty typical for adolescents.

But the last get together that she hosted here at the house, she tapped into my wine collection. She used the good Reidel wine glasses though she needed to use a straw. For her friends she opened a Provençal rosé, a Santa Margarita Pinot Grigio and an Oregon Pinot Noir. I should, I guess be appalled that she was drinking my wine, but really? Why bother.

She packed as much as she could into her 18 years and that included wine.

So, if you please, next time you have a glass, raise a toast to my Sophie. She would appreciate it. And I would as well.

 

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Wine, Family and Holidays

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Holidays are about family.

Holidays are about celebrating with good food and wine.

OpeningThe problem with these two statements is in their intersection. How do you celebrate the holidays with family and good food and wine? Particularly with the younger members of your family.

Wine has been part of family dinners since I was a child.  Kevin and I have carried on the tradition with our family. The girls have received a little watered wine in order to join family toasts for a number of years now, but we find other ways to include them as well.

My younger daughter loves to open and pour the wine. Her older sister can do it as well.  This year she opened the champagne at dinner. They also get to tell us what they smell from each bottle as well as a take a sip occasionally.

What is the purpose of this? Well, in part to keep teens who normally would try to eat in 15 seconds at the table and talking, but also to teach them about wine and culture. The culture of hospitality… the traditions of family.

And isn’t that really what the holidays are about?Pouring

From the family joke vine

Ahh, it is so nice not to get stuff from the family that is about politics. It made me laugh, so I am posting it:

New Wine for Seniors

California vintners in the Napa Valley area, which primarily produce Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio wines, have developed a new hybrid grape that acts as an anti-diuretic.
It is expected to reduce the number of trips older people have to make to the bathroom during the night.

The new wine will be marketed as


PINO MORE


I HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE

I just could not help it.
That’s funny , I don’t care who ya are.

There should be a law


But there isn’t… and I continue to gather more facts via The Wikipedia… Let’s just call it a WikiWine Fact.

Today’s knowledge nugget:

Château de Goulaine
is the oldest family run business in Europe. No one is exactly sure when their wine became commercially available (instead of just for personal consumption) but the Marquis’ de Goulaine have been calling this patch of La Loire home for over 1,000 years.

They produce a Muscadet, Sancerre, Vouvray, Folle Blanche and the first commercial Chardonnay in the western Loire.

La tour carrée
quelquepartsurlaterre
May 2007
Via Flick’r

Getting Naked for Jesus!

I know, I know… you are wondering how that phrase relates to wine…. But it does, really.

See, back in 2003, Kevin and I, along with our friends Richard and Charles and Maggie made a trip to Napa to celebrate Richard’s 40th Birthday. We hired a driver, Grant, who made wine in his garage and he drove us around to the lesser known vineyards that he enjoyed. Around lunchtime, we stopped at a local market picked up some food and then headed up Howell Mountain.

When we got to our destination, we were at the Summit Lake Winery. There we were met by Sue Brakesman one of the owners of this vineyard. Sue sat us down at her dining room table and while we ate she talked to us about her wine, her winery and her family… because really all three were tied together.

See, the deed to the vineyard was given to Sue in her birthday card… from her husband Bob. So the next available weekend they went up look at their new vineyard. The plan was that it would be a romantic getaway and Sue dressed for it… The problem was that it snowed, and the house had no heat and Sue’s heels were deep in the mud. That was the beginning of the great adventure that only ended with Sue’s sudden death a couple of years ago.

Over the years, Bob and Sue cleared the weeds and poison oak from the abandoned (during prohibition) zinfandel vines and started producing wine… and a family. One day while trying to get her grand daughters bathed, one questioned why they needed to take a bath… Sue tried to explain that cleanliness was next to godliness… to which her grand daughter exclaimed, “We’re getting naked for Jesus!” According to Sue, this was a phrase that inspired her to liven up the talks that she increasingly gave to potential buyers of her wine. While off-putting, it was a way to shake up the way to think about wine.

Family was important to Sue and she loved being a grandmother. In fact their best vintages were named for her grand daughters… Emily Kestrel… a very tasty wine and then every one’s favorite. Clair Riley… Maybe it is just the story. But then that was the thing with Sue, she saw the humour in everything… When asking Sue whether she would have a wine named after her, Clair Riley, misinterpreted the answer… instead of being Clair Riley Private Reserve, she squealed in delight and shrieked in that toddler screech, “PIRATE RESERVE?!”

Well, what is a grandma to do? Naturally, the label was changed to Pirate Reserve. That wine is several years old now… and we are still waiting for an event exciting enough to enjoy it.

But that is the thing with wine. It makes us remember the time and place where we first enjoyed it. Making us wish to return to the past but still enjoying the future.