July 2015 SWEbinars

computer outside young ladies flowersComing up in July of 2015 we have some wonderful offerings in our SWEbinar program!

  • Friday, July 17 – 12 Noon central time: The Insider’s Guide to the CSW Exam – presented by Jane A. Nickles, CSS, CWE (Link will go “live” a few hours before the scheduled date/time.) Back by popular demand…we are once again offering our very special session titled “The Insider’s Guide to the CSW.” If you are currently pursuing the CSW Certification, or considering the CSW as your next stage of professional development, this session is for you! This online workshop will cover all aspects of the CSW, including what the test covers, how difficult the test is, what type of questions to expect, the resources available to students, and how long SWE recommends for study before sitting the exam. This session is led by Jane A. Nickles, CSS, CWE (SWE’s Director of Education). You will have a chance to ask any and all questions about the CSW – she’ll answer just about any questions save for “what are the answers?” 
  • Monday, July 20th – 7:00 pm central time: Italy’s Killer B’s: Brunello, Barolo, Barbaresco, and Bardolino – presented by Sam Schmitt, CSW – The wines of Italy are among the best the old world has to offer.  Italy’s wine making traditions and laws have produced some of the most famous and infamous wines in the world.  The soap-opera like stories surrounding Brunello and Barolo in particular over the last few decades have brought scandal, outrage, and even prison sentences to high profile wine makers. Join us for a one hour presentation by Sam Schmitt, CSW, a DTC Consultant, Wine Educator, and wine writer on The Winaut.com, about the history, wine making, laws, and scandals that have made Italy’s “Killer B’s” front page news as well as some of the most sought after wines in the world. This session will be repeated on Saturday, July 25th at 10:00 am central time.
  • Saturday, July 25th – 10:00 am central time: Italy’s Killer B’s: Brunello, Barolo, Barbaresco, and Bardolino – presented by Sam Schmitt, CSW (see session description, above)
  • Monday, July 27th – 7:00 pm central time: The Insider’s Guide to the CSS Exam – presented by Jane A. Nickles, CSS, CWE (Link will go “live” a few hours before the scheduled date/time.) This year, we’ve published a new CSS Study Guide, and are now offering online prep classes. In other words, it’s a whole new world for the CSS! Join our Director of Education, Jane A. Nickles, and learn what to expect from the new CSS!

computer outside older businessmenSWE’s SWEbinar series is unique in that it is offered free-of-charge, and open to the public! We also try to accommodate all schedules by offering sessions on weekdays and weekends, as well as daytime and evening hours. If you have a topic you would like to see addressed, or a time-of-day that would work for you, please let our Director of Education, Jane A. Nickles know via email at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Login Instructions: At the appointed time, just click on the link, as seen at the bottom of this page. There is no need to register in advance. Links will go “live” a few hours before the scheduled date.

When the SWE Adobe Connect homepage appears, click on “enter as a guest,” type in your name, and click “enter room.” Remember that each session is limited to 100 attendees, and that several of our past sessions have reached capacity. We are hoping to avoid this issue in the future by offering more SWEbinars, but its still a good idea to log on early!

  • If you have never attended an Adobe Connect event before, it is also a good idea to test your connection ahead of time (just click on the link).
  • If you are having any trouble with your Adobe Connect connection, please see our SWEbinar Trouble-shooting page.

Links (will go “live” a few hours before the scheduled event):

  • Friday, July 17 – 12 Noon central time: The Insider’s Guide to the CSW Exam – presented by Jane A. Nickles, CSS, CWE
  • Monday, July 20th – 7:00 pm central time: Italy’s Killer B’s: Brunello, Barolo, Barbaresco, and Bardolino – presented by Sam Schmitt, CSW
  • Saturday, July 25th – 10:00 am central time: Italy’s Killer B’s: Brunello, Barolo, Barbaresco, and Bardolino – presented by Sam Schmitt, CSW
  • Monday, July 27th – 7:00 pm central time: The Insider’s Guide to the CSS Exam – presented by Jane A. Nickles, CSS, CWE

computer outside young man surprisedPresenters:  If you hold one of SWE’s certifications (CSS, CSW, or CWE) and would like to present a SWEbinar, we would love to host you! Our one requirement regarding subject matter is that your topic be of interest to those people who are studying for one of our certifications – our SWEbinar program is intended to help our candidates with exam preparation

If  you would like to pitch an idea for a guest blog post, or you would like to present a SWEbinar, please contact Jane Nickles, CWE, our Director of Education and Certification, at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Click here for the 2015 SWEbinar Schedule

Guest Post: Asia’s Hidden Gem

Our author in the Yamanashi Vineyards, admiring the Koshu grapes.

Our author in the Yamanashi Vineyards, admiring the Koshu grapes.

Today we have a guest post from Joshua Kalinan, CWE. Joshua tells us about a fascinating trip he took to Japan’s Grace Winery!

Due to my interest in wines, I have started to explore non-traditional wine-producing regions such as in Japan, India, and Bali.  The present knowledge of such regions is often limited in textbooks, so I decided that the best way to learn would be to visit and to see for myself these regions and how they are able to produce excellent wines and even win awards in international wine competitions.

My first stop on this tour is Yamanashi Vineyards, run by the Misawa Family and located in Akeno-cho, prefecture of Yamanashi, Japan. This beautiful location is on the main island of Honshu.

From the famous Shinjuku station, I took a one and a half hour train ride from the concrete jungle of Shinjuku to the scenic countryside of Kofu.  It is also the same station that one has to stop in order to visit Mount Fuji.Yamanashi Perfecture is also famous for its red apples, peaches and table grapes.

From Kofu station, I was picked up by one of Ms. Misawa’s staff who drove me to Katsunuma Region where the vineyard is located. I was introduced to Ms. Ayana Misawa who, despite her busy schedule took time to introduce me to her vineyard.  She also introduced to her vineyard dog that bears the same name as the Koshu grapes.  She is the only female Japanese winemaker to have made a name in the male-dominated world of Japanese wine. Her father, Mr. Shinekazu Misawa, owns Grace Winery.

Joshua, Ms. Misawa, and Koshu the Winery Dog

Joshua, Ms. Misawa, and Koshu the Winery Dog

Ms. Misawa showed me the training system, which is known as VSP (Vertical Shoot Positioning) where the Koshu grapes are trained. According to Ms. Misawa, by adopting VSP the berries are more concentrated.  Beside the signature Koshu grapes other varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot are also grown on the Misawa vineyard.  The soil structure consists of a mixture of clay and chalk with well-draining soil.

Misawa vineyard has 13.6 ha (33 acres) of vines grown at an elevation of about 700 m (2,300 feet). This region has its longest sunshine hours from April to October, which is necessary to ripen the grapes. I visited in October, when the harvest has started earlier previous years.

Ms. Misawa patiently gave me tour of all the different types of grape varieties, its terroir and the ridge system where these varieties are planted.  After the tour of the vineyard, we toured the winery where I had the chance to see their state-of-the-art stainless steel fermentation tanks.  Ms. Misawa also showed me their new French barriques that are being used for Chardonnay, rosé, and the red varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The signature Koshu is usually fermented in stainless steel tanks to preserve the fruit and its freshness.

The grand finale of my tour was a tutored tasting of the following wines:

  • 2012 Grace Gris De Koshu – This wine won the Gold medal at the Decanter Asia wine award for 2013.
  • 2012 Grace Koshu Torriibira Vineyard
  • 2012 Cuvee Misawa Koshu Akeno Vineyard
  • 2011 Grace Chardonnay
  • 2012 Grace Rosé – This is a serious, dry rosé made using Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.
  • 2009 Cuvee Misawa Rouge – This is a full-bodied, Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. .
Ms. Misawa leading Joshua Kalinan through a tasting of Grace Winery wines.

Ms. Misawa leading Joshua Kalinan through a tasting of Grace Winery wines.

After tasting a myriad of wines, I came to a conclusion that Grace Winery wines are suited for an Aperitif, as well as being food- friendly wines.  My take-home lesson was not to underestimate the potential of these wines that have made a mark in international wine competitions.

Another interesting lesson is the ability of these wines to match with Asian cuisine, which can be trickier than pairing to western foods. This is more so for the Koshu wines where they are let to rest on its lees for five months before bottling which gives an extra dimension of richness and delicate aromas.  The fine characteristics of these wines are a perfect match not only for Japanese cuisine such as sushi and sashimi but also Chinese cuisine such as tofu dishes.

The key characteristics of Koshu lie on the watery lemon yellow appearance and the nose of citrus fruits of Yuzu (Japanese Yuzu), white peaches, and white flowers.

Without the kind assistance of Ms. Misawa, I would not have had the chance to add more knowledge to my wine adventure.  I would like to conclude that after this unforgettable visit, I have come to describe Koshu wine as “the Sauvignon Blanc of Asia” and, of course, “Asia’s Hidden Gem”.

Click here for more information on Grace Winery, Yamanashi Vineyards, and the Koshu grape variety.

Joshua Kalinan, CWE has been involved in wine education for more than 10 years in Singapore.  He achieved his CWE qualification in July 2014 and has since been busy tweeting his his interest in wine and wine and food pairing. In addition to the CWE, Joshua is a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers , UK; a Certified Wine Professional via the Culinary Institute  of America, and a Certified Sake Sommelier with the Sake Sommelier Association of the UK. In his free time, Joshua loves to cook and pair wines with his favorite cuisine.  You can follow joshua @winetimesg on Twitter.

Are you interested in being a guest blogger or a guest SWEbinar presenter for SWE?  Click here for more information 

 

Conference Preview 2015: Blighty Bubbles – Can English Sparkling Wines compete with the Best?

BlightyToday we have a 2015 Conference Preview from Sarah Malik, CWE who tells us about her session on “Blightly Bubbles – English Sparkling Wine!”

The history of English wine production dates back to the pre-Roman times. England had strong ties to Italy and France and therefore saw no real need to make wine. Ever since the Romans invaded England in 43 AD England has seen continual but often sporadic wine production up to this current day, but it has only really been in the 15-20 years that the wine production has been more prolific. 

This past year, 2014 interim reports from the winemakers predicted that this was going to be one of the best years ever for English sparkling wine. The UK has just released its production records and the 2014 predictions appear to be spot on with 47,433 hectolitres being produced (approximately 6.3 million bottles) which is a 42% increase in volume from the previous year. This was a very different story from 2012 when Nyetimer, one of England’s largest estates, announced it was making no sparkling wine due to the difficult growing season.  

Blighty bubblesAcross the country, the quality is also proving to be excellent. Bob Lindo of Camel Valley Vineyard in Cornwall has even declared 2014 “The Vintage of Dreams.” Mardi Roberts, from the Ridgeview Sparkling Wine Estate added, “The base wines are already fantastic, and we truly believe that 2014 will be a vintage to remember.” 

Julia Trustam Eve, Marketing Director of EWP (English Wine Producers) has said of the 2014 vintage, “Over the last years, we seem to be continually breaking our own records – and the 2014 figures surpass everything. There’s no doubt about it – English wines really are on an upward trajectory. As if to prove her statement, in December 2014, the IWC (International Wine Challenge) awarded 26 medals to English wines, with three English sparkling wines from the county of Sussex winning gold.  

This session will showcase some of the best sparkling wines England has to offer. England has no “official” analysis of the styles of wine produced, but estimates from the EWP (English Wine Producers) and the UKVA (United Kingdom Vineyards Association) prove that sparkling wine now makes up two-thirds of production. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the most planted varieties in the country, with 230% growth in the last 8 years. 

Blightly Bubbles 2Sarah Malik is an Associate Professor at Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte, NC. Her focus is wine education. She worked Bass Charrington Breweries and West Midland Taverns in the UK before joining Hilton International and Queens Moat Houses as a Food and Beverage Manager. She eventually moved to Switzerland where she taught for five years in Hotel Consult, Le Bouveret and DCT in Lucerne, Switzerland. Sarah has received a Sommelier Diploma from the International Sommelier Guild, and has completed WSET Diploma with Merit and is a certified WSET Educator. She holds the CSS, CSW, and CWE certifications from the Society of Wine Educators, where she has been a member for many years. 

Sarah is also an International Bordeaux Wine Educator and has successfully completed the Napa Valley Wine Educators Academy. Recently she participated in the Banfi Vintners Scholastic Trip to Italy and has just spent one week in Napa Valley visiting numerous vineyards. 

Sarah’s Session, “Blighty Bubbles – Can English Sparkling Wines compete with the Best?” will be held on Wednesday, August 12 at 3:00 pm as part of the 39th Annual Conference of the Society of Wine Educators.

 

 

Conference Preview: Agave Intensive…No, Really!

Agave arthurToday we have a conference preview from Arthur Black. Arthur tells us about his session entitled “Agave Intensive – No, Really!” Read on to see what this session has in store…

Do not overlook the often-abused word, “Intensive” in the title of this seminar. Those unfamiliar with agave-based spirits are welcome to come play with us, as Agave Intensive is comprehensive and builds upon itself, but the material covered is hard core and the spirits tasted are serious, amazing, beautiful and some of the most “spiritual” spirits on the planet.

Imagine walking through an orchard in the highlands of Oaxaca at 8,000 feet elevation with a palenquero who points towards a Sierra Negra sub-species of agave and tells you that his grand father planted it over 35 years ago and he has walked past it everyday of his life and in two weeks time he will harvest, cook, ferment and distill it. Yeah, welcome to the world of artisanal mezcal and “other” agave-based spirits.

Most spirit aficionados and even trade persons have never had the pleasure nor are they familiar with mezcals based on the agave species Tobala or Cuixe, nor those which have been percolated through dead animals and distilled in amphora, nor know the likes of the obscure Mexican distillates Sotol, Bacanora and Raicilla. To experience such spirits is a rare trip into oddity, beauty and meditation. For many reasons, which will be covered in this Agave Intensive discussion, these works of art are the world’s most laboriously crafted and transcendent spirits in the world.

agave arthur 2Outside of its manifestation as spirit, the agave plant alone is fascinating enough. Its entrenched in the mores of Central American-Mexican culture with no shortage of myth, lore and cultural utility. The agave plant is simultaneously the source of the Americas’ first fermented beverage and first distilled beverage. These sharp, monocarpic, pointy plants can grow to be larger than a small car and some species can take decades to mature. One mezcalero once told me, “these ancient plants are what the dinosaurs ate!”

In this seminar, we will taste mezcal from Michoacan and Oaxaca, made from Cuixe (which grows three meters tall), Tobala, Mexicano and Espadin, as well as mezcal de ollo from one palenquero outside of Sola de Vega. Of course, you can’t have an agave discussion without tasting pechuga! We will taste and discuss the Dasylirion based Sotol from Chihuahua,   in addition to Espadin based Bacanora from Sonora.

Arthur Black is one of few young beverage industry educational leaders in the country, acquiring many titles and accreditations over 15 years of intense study. Arthur is the Corporate Wine and Spirits Sales Manager for RNDC, a leading national wholesaler of fine wine and spirits. In addition to his role at RNDC, Arthur is a Certified Specialist of Wine, a Certified Spanish Wine Educator, a Certified French Wine Educator, a Certified Sake Specialist, Certified Spirits Specialist, Advanced Sommelier, and Level 1 Cicerone. Arthur is also the founder of the non-profit, Indiana Craft Beverage Association, an educational and promotional body dedicated to driving quality beverage programming in trade in Indiana and the Mid-West.

Arthur’s session, “Agave Intensive – No, Really!” will be held on Thursday morning, August 13th as part of SWE’s 39th Annual Conference, to be held in New Orleans.

 

 

 

 

Friday Lunchtime SWEbinar: Champagne!

ChampagneJoin us at lunchtime on Friday – June 12th, Noon central time for a bubbly SWEbinar! Presented by Valerie Caruso, CSW, we are pleased to offer: Champagne: A region, a wine style and a legacy! From battlegrounds to bubbly, the compelling history and evolution of Champagne throughout the centuries has gifted the world with a wine that is associated with life’s most celebrated moments – and with good reason!  In this SWEbinar we will explore the story, the main growing regions, terroirs, and the AOCs as well as the production & styles – all part of Champagne’s enduring legacy. This session will be presented by Valerie Caruso, CSW, a retired military officer who moved to Italy to study wine shortly after retirement. She settled in the states full time in 2011 and conducted direct-to-consumer sales and tastings for a Napa Winery for several years before launching her own education and consulting business. Val is also a French Wine Scholar & a WSET diploma candidate.

SWE’s SWEbinar series is unique in that it is offered free-of-charge, and open to the public! We also try to accomodate all schedules by offering sessions on weekdays and weekends, as well as daytime and evening hours. If you have a topic you would like to see addressed, or a time-of-day that would work for you, please let our Director of Education, Jane A. Nickles know via email at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Login Instructions: At the appointed time, just click on the link. There is no need to register in advance. Choose to “enter as a guest” and type in your full name. Links will be attached to the date and time announcement of each session in the list below and will go “live” a few hours before the scheduled date.

Link: Friday, June 12th – Noon Central Time – Champagne: A region, a wine style and a legacy, presented by Valerie Caruso, CSW

computer outside 8When the SWE Adobe Connect homepage appears, click on “enter as a guest,” type in your full name, and click “enter room.” Remember that each session is limited to 100 attendees, and that several of our past sessions have reached capacity. We are hoping to avoid this issue in the future by offering more SWEbinars, but its still a good idea to log on early!

  • If you have never attended an Adobe Connect event before, it is also a good idea to test your connection ahead of time (just click on the link).
  • If you are having any trouble with your Adobe Connect connection, please see our SWEbinar Trouble-shooting page.

If you have any questions, please contact Jane Nickles:  jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Click here for the 2015 SWEbinar Calendar

Are you interested in being a guest blogger or a guest SWEbinar presenter for SWE?  Click here for more information 

Conference Preview 2015: Four Decades of Three Palms

Photo via: http://www.duckhorn.com/Our-Story/Vineyards/Three-Palms

Photo via: http://www.duckhorn.com/Our-Story/Vineyards/Three-Palms

Today we have a guest post by Pete Przybylinski – Sr. VP of Sales and Strategy at Duckhorn Wine Company. Pete gives us the story of the Napa Valley’s Famous Three Palms Vineyard. Pete will be sharing his story – and the wines of Three Palms – at SWE’s NOLA Conference on August 13, 2015.

It’s not easy to say whether Duckhorn made the Three Palms Vineyard famous, or whether it was the other way around. Three Palms, situated at the northern end of the Napa Valley along the Silverado Trail, has been a star in the world of California wine since Duckhorn made its first vintage in 1978.” – Robert Whitley, October 2014

“[Three Palms] the best Merlot I have ever tasted, at least from outside Bordeaux’s Right Bank.” – Nick Passmore, May 2013

May 13th, 2015, was a very special day for all of us here at Duckhorn Wine Company. After 37 years of making wine from its coveted grapes, we proudly announced that we acquired the 83-acre Three Palms Vineyard from our longtime friends, and renowned winegrowers, Sloan and John Upton. As someone who has been with Duckhorn Wine Company for 20 years, both personally and professionally, it is incredibly gratifying that the vineyard that has always been synonymous with Duckhorn Vineyards finally took its rightful place as the crown jewel of our estate program.

Three Palms Vineyard is deservedly legendary. By almost any estimation, it is one of a handful of Napa Valley’s greatest vineyards, and is, without question, the most important Merlot vineyard in North America. Our history with Three Palms goes back to our inaugural Three Palms Vineyard Merlot in 1978. We released that inaugural vintage at the then high price of $12.50, because we wanted people to understand that it was a Merlot of exceptional quality. This iconic wine helped pioneer luxury Merlot in California, and played a pivotal role in establishing it as one of North America’s great premium varietals.

“As recently as 1978, Merlot was rarely bottled in California as a varietal wine. Duckhorn changed that. Their single-vineyard bottling from northern Napa Valley’s Three Palms Vineyard showed the heights that this grape, in the right hands, could achieve.” – Michael Apstein, April 2014

San Francisco's Coit Tower

San Francisco’s Coit Tower

For those familiar with San Francisco and its famed Coit Tower, Three Palms has a history that predates its renown as a winegrowing site. In the late 1800s, the land that is now home to the vineyard was a residence for famed San Francisco socialite Lillie Hitchcock Coit. She called her home Larkmead, and it was there that she hosted legendary parties and numerous celebrities of the time. She left her mark on San Francisco in the form of Coit Tower. She also left her mark in Napa Valley in the form of three lone palm trees, which were all that remained from her estate after the house fell into disuse after Lillie died in 1929, at the age of 86.

In 1967, the 83-acre property was acquired by brothers Sloan and John Upton. The following year, they began planting it to Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chenin Blanc. The site, which is located on the northeast side of Napa Valley, is in an alluvial fan created by the outwash of Selby Creek where it spills out of Dutch Henry Canyon. As a result, Three Palms is covered with volcanic stones washed down from the canyon over the centuries. The soil—what there is of it—is rocky and well drained, causing the vines to send their roots far, wide and deep to find the necessary nutrients and water. The stones in the vineyard aid the vines by absorbing the sun’s heat during the day and radiating it back to the plants during the night. This protects the vines during frost season, and helps to ripen the fruit. “People thought we were nuts,” recalls Sloan. “City slickers planting a vineyard amongst the rocks!” Time and a great deal of very hard work proved these people wrong.

“It has long defied the conventional wisdom that Merlot thrives in cooler climes but comes off dull and flabby in warmer areas. Three Palms is at the warm end of the valley, yet it consistently produces remarkable Merlot that combines firm structure with power and grace.” – Robert Whitley, October 2014

Over the years, as the Uptons grew to understand the site’s almost otherworldly ability to make profound Merlot and Bordeaux-varietal red wines, the Pinot Noir and Chenin Blanc were T-budded to more Merlot, as well as Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Like any great vineyard, Three Palms has suffered a few setbacks and losses. In 1990, the vineyard began to show the serious effects of Phylloxera, so the long and arduous task of replanting began—the final phase of which was completed in 1999. And in 1992, the vineyard suffered the loss of one of its 105-year-old palm trees. The Upton brothers hosted a brief ceremony in which a 40-foot Washington palm was planted in its place, and since then, many of us have affectionately nicknamed the vineyard 2-1/2 Palms.

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But mostly the story of Three Palms has been a testament to the phenomenal nature of this famed vineyard, and its ability to produce wines as remarkable for their structure and complexity, as for their vibrant and alluring red fruit. There are many things that contribute to the greatness of the vineyard: the meticulous farming, the Spartan bale loam soils that send the roots down as much as 18 feet in search of nutrients, the unique warm up-valley location, and more. 

“Over the years, we’ve listened to the quiet voice of the vineyard, and learned what works. Part of that is about farming Three Palms for the right reasons, for love of the land, not ego. That’s a vision we have always shared with the people of Duckhorn.” -Sloan Upton

In 2011, we inked a deal for the exclusive rights to the grapes from Three Palms Vineyard, and three years later, we took over the farming. When Sloan and John decided it was time to sell, purchasing the vineyard was the natural next step. Not only has the Duckhorn Vineyards story always been tied to the story of Three Palms, our long friendship with Sloan and John has been one of the wine industry’s most successful and enduring partnerships. We are honored that they are entrusting us to carry on their life’s work, and to carry their great legacy forward. 

“The iconic flagship wine that began Duckhorn’s success in 1978 is the Merlot Three Palms Vineyard, one of the first single-vineyard Merlots produced, and no doubt an inspiration for the Merlot boom in the 1980s. This has always been one of the benchmark wines for this varietal.” – Robert Parker, October 2013

While this blog has focused on the history and significance of Three Palms Vineyard, in my August 13th “Four Decades of Three Palms” conference session, I look forward to sharing more about our relationship with this vineyard, and its evolution. As we taste through some of our finest vintages spanning four decades, this will include details about changes in terms of vineyard practices, rootstock, use of oak in our winemaking, and the varying degrees of alcohol and acid in the wines—all of which have changed dramatically in the last 35 years. I am also looking forward to talking about the evolution of our marketing and sales strategies for this great vineyard and its wines, as these too have evolved dramatically over the years.

I hope to see you there!

Pete’s Session – “Four Decades of Three Palms” will be held on Thursday, August 13th, at 8:45 am as part of the Society of Wine Educators’ 39th Annual Conference, to be held in New Orleans.

 

Saturday SWEbinar: From the Bud to the Bottle!

grapesJoin us on Saturday morning – June 6th – at 10:00 am central time – for “From the Bud to the Bottle – The Basics of the Grape’s Lifecycle and Wine Production” Wine making is among the oldest crafts dating back thousands of years and has been credited as a major factor behind the rise and expansion of human civilization worldwide.  Surprisingly, in spite of advanced technology, wine makers from ancient times would probably feel right at home in the wineries of today.  The art and science of grape growing, harvesting, fermenting, and aging wines developed by monks more than a millennia ago remain at the foundation of modern wine making. In this one hour session, Sam Schmitt, CSW, a DTC Consultant, Wine Educator, and wine writer on The Winaut.com, will discuss the anatomy and lifecycle of the grape, and some of the history and basics of red, white, rose, and sparkling wine production from the bud to the bottle. This session will be repeated on Monday, June 8th at 7:00 pm central time.

SWE’s SWEbinar series is unique in that it is offered free-of-charge, and open to the public! We also try to accomodate all schedules by offering sessions on weekdays and weekends, as well as daytime and evening hours. If you have a topic you would like to see addressed, or a time-of-day that would work for you, please let our Director of Education, Jane A. Nickles know via email at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Login Instructions: At the appointed time, just click on the link. There is no need to register in advance. Choose to “enter as a guest” and type in your full name. Links will be attached to the date and time announcement of each session in the list below and will go “live” a few hours before the scheduled date.

Link: Saturday, June 6h – at 10:00 am central time – “From the Bud to the Bottle” with Sam Schmitt, CSW 

computer outside 8When the SWE Adobe Connect homepage appears, click on “enter as a guest,” type in your full name, and click “enter room.” Remember that each session is limited to 100 attendees, and that several of our past sessions have reached capacity. We are hoping to avoid this issue in the future by offering more SWEbinars, but its still a good idea to log on early!

  • If you have never attended an Adobe Connect event before, it is also a good idea to test your connection ahead of time (just click on the link).
  • If you are having any trouble with your Adobe Connect connection, please see our SWEbinar Trouble-shooting page.

If you have any questions, please contact Jane Nickles:  jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Click here for the 2015 SWEbinar Calendar

Are you interested in being a guest blogger or a guest SWEbinar presenter for SWE?  Click here for more information 

 

Friday Lunchtime SWEbinar: “Great Philosophical Issues in Wine”

adamJoin us on Friday – June 5th – at 12 noon central time – for “Great Philosophical Issues in Wine – presented by Adam Edmondson, CSW. Wine and Philosophy can be discussed in a variety of ways, from the Philosophers of old discussing wine as an intellectual beverage, to modern wine producers arguing over whether the “Old World” or the “New World” philosophy reigns supreme. Join us for this SWEbinar on wine and philosophy, and we’ll explore this deep and fascinating subject. Our presenter, Adam Edmondson, CSW, is a wine educator with the Wine Elite Sommelier Company, located in Orange County, California. Adam can be reached at: Adam@WineElite.org

SWE’s SWEbinar series is unique in that it is offered free-of-charge, and open to the public! We also try to accomodate all schedules by offering sessions on weekdays and weekends, as well as daytime and evening hours. If you have a topic you would like to see addressed, or a time-of-day that would work for you, please let our Director of Education, Jane A. Nickles know via email at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Login Instructions: At the appointed time, just click on the link. There is no need to register in advance. Choose to “enter as a guest” and type in your full name. Links will be attached to the date and time announcement of each session in the list below and will go “live” a few hours before the scheduled date.

Link: Friday June 5th – at 12 noon central time – for Great Philosophical Issues in Wine” presented by Adam Edmonsond, CSW. 

computer outside 7When the SWE Adobe Connect homepage appears, click on “enter as a guest,” type in your full name, and click “enter room.” Remember that each session is limited to 100 attendees, and that several of our past sessions have reached capacity. We are hoping to avoid this issue in the future by offering more SWEbinars, but its still a good idea to log on early!

  • If you have never attended an Adobe Connect event before, it is also a good idea to test your connection ahead of time (just click on the link).
  • If you are having any trouble with your Adobe Connect connection, please see our SWEbinar Trouble-shooting page.

If you have any questions, please contact Jane Nickles:  jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Click here for the 2015 SWEbinar Calendar

Are you interested in being a guest blogger or a guest SWEbinar presenter for SWE?  Click here for more information 

 

Friday Lunchtime SWEbinar: Hybrid Theory with Jordan Cowe, CWE

JordanA few months ago, many of us were lucky enough to attend a lively webinar on Canadian wines brought to us by new CWE Jordan Cowe. Well, lucky for us, Jordan is back for another SWEbinar this Friday!!

Join us on Friday – May 29 – at 12 noon central time – for “Hybrid Theory: Modern wines from Hybrid Vines” presented by Jordan Cowe, CWE. Judged by their early incarnations Hybrids have developed a bad reputation across the wine world. Practically outlawed in Europe and shunned by wine snobs, but do modern hybrids even resemble their early namesakes? Learn about modern developments in hybrid varietals, where they sit in the modern winescape and how winemakers have adapted to their use. Presented by Jordan Cowe, CWE the creator of Oenosity and a lover of the unusual and esoteric areas of the wine world. For any specific questions contact Jordan on Twitter: @JDCowe or Email: jordan@oenosity.com

SWE’s SWEbinar series is unique in that it is offered free-of-charge, and open to the public! We also try to accomodate all schedules by offering sessions on weekdays and weekends, as well as daytime and evening hours. If you have a topic you would like to see addressed, or a time-of-day that would work for you, please let our Director of Education, Jane A. Nickles know via email at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Login Instructions: At the appointed time, just click on the link. There is no need to register in advance. Choose to “enter as a guest” and type in your full name. Links will be attached to the date and time announcement of each session in the list below and will go “live” a few hours before the scheduled date.

Link: Friday – May 29 – at 12 noon central time – for “Hybrid Theory: Modern wines from Hybrid Vines” presented by Jordan Cowe, CWE.

computer outside 16When the SWE Adobe Connect homepage appears, click on “enter as a guest,” type in your full name, and click “enter room.” Remember that each session is limited to 100 attendees, and that several of our past sessions have reached capacity. We are hoping to avoid this issue in the future by offering more SWEbinars, but its still a good idea to log on early!

  • If you have never attended an Adobe Connect event before, it is also a good idea to test your connection ahead of time (just click on the link).
  • If you are having any trouble with your Adobe Connect connection, please see our SWEbinar Trouble-shooting page.

If you have any questions, please contact Jane Nickles:  jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Click here for the 2015 SWEbinar Calendar

Are you interested in being a guest blogger or a guest SWEbinar presenter for SWE?  Click here for more information 

 

Conference Preview 2015: How Cool is the Cape?

Camps Bay Beach and Lion Head Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa

Camps Bay Beach and Lion Head Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa

Today we have a Conference Preview from Jim Clarke about the cool-climate wines of South Africa. Yes, you read that correctly – the Cape, in spots, is Cool! Read on for information on the cool-climate wines of South Africa, and Jim’s upcoming conference session!  

When I was studying to become a sommelier, I was often asked the question, “Do you go there to surf or to ski”? It was intended as a quick way to remind oneself if a winegrowing area was a warm region or a cool one.  It’s a handy mnemonic – albeit one that unfortunately underlines American’s poor sense of geography -maybe they can’t find Austria on a map, but they’ve seen Austrian skiers in the Olympics on TV, so: cool climate!

For the climate of South Africa, we think of surfers – possibly being attacked by those crazy great whites that leap right out of the water – so: warm climate. (For a less morbid surfing encounter, check out Bernard Le Roux, winemaker at Zorgvliet, being knocked off his board by some dolphins at last year’s Vintner’s Surf Classic.)

If you look closer, however, you’ll notice something else about those South African surfers: the wetsuits. There’s nothing warm about the water off the coast of South Africa – after all, the next stop on your way south would be Antarctica! The ocean currents that cool the vineyards of South Africa come up from Antarctica. There are penguins happily inhabiting the Cape Peninsula to prove it!

Sommeliers often sum up the Cape’s climate as “Mediterranean,” but there’s a lot more to it than that. While I suspect South Africa’s Olympic ski team sounds as likely a competitor as Jamaica’s bobsledders, in the right spots vines find it plenty cool enough. Some parts of South Africa are specifically cool enough for reds like Pinot Noir; or lighter, peppery styles of Syrah (many, nonetheless, inexplicably labeled “Shiraz”) and for whites such as Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer, or even Riesling.

African Penguins on Boulders Beach, near Cape Town in South Africa

African Penguins on Boulders Beach, near Cape Town in South Africa

Even warm areas such as an arid, mountainous landscape, once may encounter a change of conditions if one moves just a few meters in the right direction. For example, the Jordan Winery lies atop a dome-shaped hill in Stellenbosch. On north-facing slopes (away from the cold winds, and toward the sun) they grow Cabernet Sauvignon alongside Syrah and Chardonnay; but one south-facing slope right in the middle of the Chardonnay vineyard is cool enough to produce and elegant and balanced Riesling.

More importantly, however, especially in a time where the market is trending toward more acid-driven, lower-alcohol wines, are the regions where cool spots are not the exceptions but the rule. Constantia – South Africa’s most famous historic wine region – is one example. Located just a few miles from Cape Town, this region produced sweet wines in the 18th and 19th centuries that were the envy of Europe, lauded by the likes of Baudelaire and Napoleon. Today this small region of a dozen or so producers is focused on Sauvignon Blanc, though some make elegant Chardonnays, and some reds in the southern (but more north-facing) part of the district. All the Constantia vineyards are just a few miles from the penguins and sharks (and more relevantly, the winds) of False Bay.

Most of South Africa’s other cool climate areas don’t have the history and pedigree of Constantia, largely because of regulations and a quota system during much of the 20th century that discouraged plantings there (cool climates can be more challenging to work in, so why not simply plant in warmer, higher-yielding spots?). That changed in 1992, just as apartheid was crumbling, and many would-be winegrowers started exploring.

Stellenbosch Vineyards in the shadow of Table Mountain

Stellenbosch Vineyards in the shadow of Table Mountain

The Cape South Coast region was largely developed at this time, and is now a source of some of the country’s most esteemed wines. Districts within the region each have their own character. In Elgin, apple orchards were replaced with grapes, and the bowl-shaped basin proved effective at capturing cool air from the ocean just a few miles to the south. Near Hermanus, where whales come so close to shore they can be easily viewed while standing on the shore, the narrow Hemel-en-Aarde Valley draws in the cool air, and the vineyards there produce South Africa’s most consistently lauded Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.

The west coast, north of Cape Town, also has its own wind-battered vineyards, notably the two “D’s” Durbanville and Darling, both devoted largely to Sauvignon Blanc, both not far from the beach. Which – surfing mnemonics aside – makes sense.

We humans go to the beach to cool off, right? Well, so do South Africa’s grapes.

Jim Clarke is the U.S. Marketing Manager for Wines of South Africa (WOSA), a levy-supported organization devoted to promoting South African wine exports. Previous to joining WOSA Jim was a sommelier in New York City, running the wine programs at Megu New York for five years and then the Armani Ristorante for two. In addition, he writes about wine, beer, and spirits for a number of publications both trade and consumer; his pieces have appeared in the World of Fine Wine, Details, the San Francisco Chronicle, and elsewhere. Jim has spoken or lectured at a number of events including TexSom and the American Wine Society Conference.

Jim’s session on the cool-climate wines of South Africa, entitled “How Cool is the Cape” will be held on Thursday, August 13th at 8:45 am as part of the 39th Annual Conference of the Society of Wine Educators.