Friday Lunchtime SWEbinar: Demystifying Terroir!

DwightThis Friday – August 28 – at 12 Noon central time – we will be offering a very special SWEbinar on “Demystifying Terroir.”  Terroir…it has been defined a variety of ways – such as “a sense of somewhere-ness,” “the taste of the earth,” and even “good bad dirt” – all of which can lead to terroir-driven confusion! Join SWE and Dr. Dwight Furrow in this online session that will help you make sense of – and demystify – terroir.

Our guest presenter, Dr. Dwight Furrow, is Professor of Philosophy at San Diego Mesa College, a wine writer, and wine educator for WineElite, a California-based wine events company. Dwight writes on the aesthetics of food and wine. His book “American Foodie: Taste, Art, and the Cultural Revolution” will be released in January by Rowman Littlefield. His online wine and food writing can be found at Edible Arts . He may be reached at dwightfurrow@gmail.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

VineyardLogin Instructions: At the appointed time, just click on the link provided below. There is no need to register in advance. 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.

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.

Link: Friday, August 28th – 12 Noon CDT – Demystifying Terroir with Dr. Dwight Furrow (Link will go “live” a few hours before the scheduled date/time.)

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: The Insider’s Guide to the CSW Exam

This Friday – July 17th – at noon central time – we once again offer our “The Insider’s Guide to the CSW Exam.”  If you are currently pursuing the CSW Certification, or considering the CSW as your next stage of professional development, this session is for Insiders guide for blogyou! 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?”

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

computer outside 5Login Instructions: At the appointed time, just click on the link. There is no need to register in advance. 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.

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.

Link: Friday, July 17th- 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.) 

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

Click here for the 2015 SWEbinar Calendar

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.

 

 

 

 

#Wine Wednesday SWEbinar – WOW – The Wines of Washington!

Washington StateThis Wednesday – April 8th -at 7:00 pm  central time,  we will be offering a repeat performance of our SWEbinar entitled  WOW – the wines of Washington State!

Presented by Sam Schmitt, CSW – this is a repeat performance of the session held last Saturday – and it is jam-packed with beautiful graphics and great information! 

Here is Sam’s synopsis: Washington State is the second largest wine producer in the United States. Its geographic location near the northern extreme of the ideal wine growing latitudes belies its warm, semi-desert continental climate. Shaped by colossal floods at the end of the last ice age, its 13 AVAs are unique and diverse. Washington is well-known as a high-quality producer of New World Riesling, but Riesling is far from the only high quality wine produced in the state. In this one-hour webinar, Sam Schmitt, CSW, and founder of The Winaut-Wine Education and Travel blog and a Consumer Experience Development Consultant will discuss the geography, climate, and geographic history of Washington State, the state’s diverse AVAs, the prominent grapes, the unique laws, and some of the leading producers of Washington State wine.

Washington State

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 here. There is no need to register in advance. Link 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.

computer outside 7Link: Wednesday, April 8th at 7:00 pm central time – WOW! Wines of Washington State – presented by Sam  Schmitt, CSW (Link will go “live” a few hours before the scheduled date/time.) 

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!

 

April 2015 SWEbinars

computer outside 11Coming up in April of 2015 we have some wonderful offerings in our SWEbinar program!

  • Saturday, April 4th –10:00 am central time: WOW: The Wines of Washington State – presented by Sam Schmitt, CSW. Washington State is the second largest wine producer in the United States. Its geographic location near the northern extreme of the ideal wine growing latitudes belies its warm, semi-desert continental climate. Shaped by colossal floods at the end of the last ice age, its 13 AVAs are unique and diverse. Washington is well-known as a high-quality producer of New World Riesling, but Riesling is far from the only high quality wine produced in the state. In this one-hour webinar, Sam Schmitt, CSW, and founder of The Winaut-Wine Education and Travel blog and a Consumer Experience Development Consultant will discuss the geography, climate, and geographic history of Washington State, the state’s diverse AVAs, the prominent grapes, the unique laws, and some of the leading producers of Washington State wine.
  • Wednesday, April 8th, at 7:00 pm central time – Repeat performance of  WOW: The Wines of Washington State – presented by Sam Schmitt, CSW. 
  • Insider's GuideFriday, April 17th – 12 Noon Central Time –  The Insider’s Guide to the CSW Exam – presented by Jane A. Nickles, CSS, CWE 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, the format of the questions, 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?” 
  • Friday, April 24th – 12 Noon central time – “Kings and Queens of the Old World – Discovering Character in 8 Iconic Appellations” – presented by Joey Kleinhans, CSW, Principal at The Wine Elite Sommelier Company. CMittelmosel. Join Joey Kleinhans in this live session to learn about the grapes, the terroir, the character and the history that makes these regions the Kings and Queens of the Old World! Sommelier Jörn Kleinhans is a wine educator and blind-tasting instructor in Orange County, California. His perspectives on wine have been published by the Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, MarketWatch and the Robb Report. He can be reached at Joey@WineElite.org. Joey welcomes any specific requests our members would like to have addressed during this webinar. 
  • Saturday, April 25th – 10:00 am central time – The Insider’s Guide to the CSS Exam – presented by Jane A. Nickles, CSS, CWE – This year, we’ve published a new CSS Study Guide and 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 13SWE’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. There is no need to register in advance. 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.

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:

  • Saturday, April 4th –10:00 am central time: WOW: The Wines of Washington State – presented by Sam Schmitt, CSW. (Link will go “live” a few hours before the scheduled date/time.)
  • Wednesday, April 8th, at 7:00 pm central time – Repeat performance of  WOW: The Wines of Washington State – presented by Sam Schmitt, CSW. (Link will go “live” a few hours before the scheduled date/time.)
  • computer outside 14Friday, April 17th – 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.)
  • Friday, April 24th – 12 Noon central time – “Kings and Queens of the Old World – Discovering Character in 8 Iconic Appellations” – presented by Joey Kleinhans, CSW (Link will go “live” a few hours before the scheduled date/time.)
  • Saturday, April 25th – 10:00 am central time – The Insider’s Guide to the CSS Exam (Link will go “live” a few hours before the scheduled date/time.)

Presenters:  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

 

Friday SWEbinar: Cold as Ice!

Vineyards at the Gray Monk Estate Winery in the Okanagan Valley

Vineyards at the Gray Monk Estate Winery in the Okanagan Valley

This Friday – March 27th, 2015 at 12 Noon central time – we will be offering a new SWEbinar: Cold as Ice  – Myths and Realities of Canadian Wine. This session will be presented by Jordan Cowe, CWE. Jordan is a a newly-minted CWE based in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Session Synopsis: Think of a description of Canadian wine regions in your mind. Were dry deserts, big red wines, or Napa Valley heat levels even a consideration? No? Well – they should be – and it’s time to find out why! Take a journey across this not-so-frozen country and learn about the unique micro-climates that dot this extreme landscape from cool, sparkling-focused Nova Scotia to the humid, heat-drenched summers of Southern Ontario and on to the desert-like conditions in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley!

We’ll take a look at the geography, viticultural practices and winemaking techniques used to make wines in this country of extremes. Learn about current issues facing this developing wine culture as it tries to grow and enter a world market that knows it only for Icewine.

JordanOur guest presenter, Jordan Cowe, CWE is a sommelier and wine educator in Canada’s largest wine region. Based in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Jordan teaches courses for sommeliers, wine professionals and consumers alike with the goal of instilling a more relaxed approach to wine. With a strong passion and connection to the Canadian wine industry Jordan would be happy to help address any specific topics of interests; he can be contacted at jdcowe@wineeh.ca  with any questions or suggestions.

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 here. There is no need to register in advance. Link will go “live” a few hours before the scheduled date.

Spring SWEbinarWhen 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.

 Link: Friday, March 27th at 12 noon central time-Cold as Ice – Myths and Realities of Canadian Wine – 12 Noon central time (Link will go “live” a few hours before the scheduled date/time.) 

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!

March 2015 SWEbinars!

March 2015 SWEbinars

Spring SWEbinarWe have some exciting things planned for our March 2015 SWEbinar program!

  • Cold as Ice – Myths and Realities of Canadian Wine, presented by Jordan Cowe, CWE. Think of a description of Canadian wine regions in your mind. Were Deserts, Big Reds or Napa Valley heat levels even a consideration? No? Well – they should be – and it’s time to find out why! Take a journey across this not-so-frozen country and learn about the unique micro climates that dot this extreme landscape from cool, sparkling-focused Nova Scotia to the humid, heat-drenched summers of Southern Ontario and on to the desert- like conditions in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley! We’ll take a look at the geography, viticultural practices and winemaking techniques used to make wines in this country of extremes. Learn about current issues facing this developing wine culture as it tries to grow and enter a world market that knows it only for Icewine. Jordan Cowe is a sommelier and wine educator in Canada’s largest wine region. Based in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Jordan teaches courses for sommeliers, wine professionals and consumers alike with the goal of instilling a more relaxed approach to wine. With a strong passion and connection to the Canadian wine industry Jordan would be happy to help address any specific topics of interests; he can be contacted at jdcowe@wineeh.ca  with any questions or suggestions. “Cold as Ice” will be presented on Friday, March 27th at 12 noon central time.
  • We will also be offering another monthly installment of our popular “Insider’s Guide to the CSW Exam.”  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. The Insider’s Guide to the CSW Exam will be offered on Saturday, March 14th – 10:00 am central time.
  • In honor of the recent publication of our 2015 Certified Specialist of Spirits Study Guide, we will be offering – now once-a-month – an “Insider’s Guide to the CSS Exam.” This too will become a monthly installment. If you have questions about the CSS Exam, have just started the to study, or are still a cocktail-enthusiast who is “thinking about” getting certified, you’ll find the answers to all your questions at the “Insider’s Guide”! The Insider’s Guide to the CSS Exam will run on Wednesday, March 18th at 7:00 pm central time. 

SWEbinar streetSWE’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. 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.

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: SWEbinars for March 2015

  • Saturday, March 14th – 10:00 am central time – the Insider’s Guide to the CSW (Wine) Exam (Link will go “live” a few hours before the scheduled date/time.) 
  • Wednesday, March 18th at 7:00 pm central time – the Insider’s Guide to the CSS (Spirits) Exam(Link will go “live” a few hours before the scheduled date/time.) 
  • Friday, March 27th at 12 noon central time-Cold as Ice – Myths and Realities of Canadian Wine (Link will go “live” a few hours before the scheduled date/time.) 

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!

 

A Few of my Favorite Scarps

Devil's Tower

Devil’s Tower

To look at it, a scarp seems like the edge of the world – and, in a manner of speaking, it is. The term “scarp” technically refers to the wall of bare rock that makes up the cliff-face of an area of land that stands much higher than the land that surrounds it. For an extreme example, think of the Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. Quebec City’s Cap Diamant – those gorgeous sheer cliffs just in front of the Château Frontenac dividing the upper section of the town from the Saint Lawrence lowlands below – is a more typical example.
The uplifted area of land sitting above a scarp is known as an escarpment, although the two terms tend to be used interchangeably, except perhaps by geologists. A good way to describe an escarpment is basically as an area of the earth where the elevation changes suddenly. Escarpments are often found along the ocean shore, such as the Devil’s Slide area of California’s Highway One.

Escarpments are also found on dry land. Inland escarpments, where the ground is separated into two level land surfaces divided by a sheer cliff wall, may be formed by erosion, the action of rivers or streams, via seismic activity, or a combination of these forces. And – which makes it interesting for us – many of the world’s wine regions are built around escarpments.

Escarpments created by erosion are generally composed of different types of rock or rocks from different geologic eras.  Erosion creates the two levels of land as one of the types of rock erodes much faster than the other. One well-known example of an escarpment formed by erosion is the Niagara Escarpment.

The Niagara Escarpment

The Niagara Escarpment

The capstone of the Niagara Escarpment is a type of limestone (dolomite rock, or dolostone), while the underlying rock is a more easily erodible shale.  The Niagara escarpment is famous for the Niagara Falls, which is the part of the escarpment where the Niagara River plunges over the side. We wine lovers also appreciate the region as the home of the Niagara Escarpment AVA – located along the edge of the ridge, and home to 17  wineries.

Escarpments formed by seismic action are created when a fault displaces the ground surface so that one side is higher than the other. Examples include Africa’s Great Rift Valley and Australia’s Darling Scarp. The Darling Scarp cuts through the wine-growing regions of Western Australia and forms a distinct dividing line between the Perth Hills region, which sits atop the escarpment, and the Swan District, which resides below. The difference in climate between the two next-door neighbor regions due to the resulting change in elevation is striking. The Swan District, resting on the plains below, has a warm-to-hot Mediterranean climate.  The Perth Hills, perched above, is characterized by cooler nights, lower temperatures overall, and a harvest that typically begins 10 days to 2 weeks later than its warmer neighbor.

Other escarpments can be found along ancient river valleys, where a river, over the centuries, carved the landscape into a terrace. The Huangarua Scarp, found in New Zealand’s Martinborough wine region, is one example. The Huangarua Scarp is home to several wineries, including Craggy Range and the appropriately named Escarpment Vineyard. The highest uprise of the Huangarua Scarp, at about 150 feet higher than the surrounding area, is believed to have been formed over 250,000 years ago.

"Caprock Escarpment Garza County Texas 2010" by Leaflet - via Wikimedia Commons

“Caprock Escarpment Garza County Texas 2010″ by Leaflet – via Wikimedia Commons

The Caprock Escarpment, found in west Texas and eastern New Mexico, was formed via a combination of erosion and water. The top layer of the area is composed of caliche, a type of calcium carbonate that resists erosion. The erosion of the softer underlying stone was aided over the millennium by the action of rivers and streams. The Caprock Escarpment is an abrupt, 200-mile long ridge that divides the high plains area known as the Llano Estacado from the surrounding rolling terrain of the Great Plains below. In some places, the Caprock Escarpment rises more than 1,000 feet above the surrounding plains. The Texas High Plains AVA, covering almost 8 million acres of land, sits atop this huge plateau. The outline of the AVA follows the contour of the ridge at an elevation of 2,800 feet, and extends north and west. At its highest point, the elevation of the Texas High Plains AVA reaches 4,100 feet. The AVA currently has about 4,000 acres of vines and is home to over 75 mostly family-owned vineyards and at least 8 wineries.

Burgundy’s Côte d’Or, Sancerre in the Loire Valley, and Australia’s Murray Darling region are a few of the many other wine regions affected by scarps and escarpments. To learn more about scarps (and rías, and slopes, and benches) join us on Friday, January 23rd and Wednesday, January 28th for our SWEbinar entitled “Rías, Benches, Slopes, and Scarps – Physical Geography in the Vineyard.”

For more information please contact Jane Nickles, our Director of Education and Certification at: jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

 

 

SWE Takes Minneapolis!

MinneapolisSWE will be hosting a Minneapolis Mini-Conference on Thursday, September 18th! This event will take place at the at The Westin Minneapolis, located at 88 South 6th Street, Minneapolis, MN, 55402.  Sessions will meet in the hotel’s “Manufacturing Room” and will run from 1:00pm to 4:00pm.

The sessions for this mini-con will include:

1:00pm to 2:15pm – Sexy, sensuous and seductive – Now that’s Italian!!! 

Presented by Neill Trimble, CSW – Join us on a romp through the vineyards of Italy where we taste palate titillating wines from Piedmont,  Veneto and Tuscany – among others.  We will recount some fascinating stories such as how Gavi got its name, how Romeo and Juliet had a role to play in Soave and do you know when the first vintage of Brunello was born.  We will reveal this and much, much more!

2:45pm to 4:00pm – The Secret Life of Pinot Noir

  • Presented by Jane A. Nickles, CSS, CWE
  • Pinot Noir…it’s temperamental, it ripens too early, it has thin skin and it’s just Secret life of Pinot Noirplain complicated. It’s been called the heartbreak grape, and we’ve probably all been burned.  At the same time, the  delicious, haunting flavors of a good Pinot Noir – including include cherries, berries, smoke, spice, earthiness, brambles, truffles (and that’s just the beginning) – can inhabit your memory like a permanent smile. Join “Miss Jane” Nickles,  SWE’s Director of Education, for a tasting of some excellent examples of this finicky wine and an exploration of the “secret life” of Pinot Noir.

Members can join us for an incredible day as we taste and learn about wines from around the world. To RSVP, please contact Jessica Morse:  jmorse@societyofwineeducators.org. This event is open and free to all current members of the SWE; non-members may register for a $50 fee.

Click here to return to the SWE Homepage.

 

 

Conference Preview: The History of California in Six Glasses

Today we have a guest post from Michael Wangbickler. Michael will be presenting his session, The History of California in Six Glasses, next month at SWE’s 38th Annual Conference in Seattle, Washington. Read on to hear a bit about the history of California wine!

father serraThe story of the California wine industry is replete with interesting characters, historical milestones, and wacky situations.

Indeed, the history of wine in California is tied to the history of modern California itself. It all began with the Spanish colonization of the area. During the 18th Century, Spanish missionaries led by Franciscan friar Junípero Serra Ferrer established a series of missions ranging from San Diego to Sonoma. And, of course, the one thing that is absolutely necessary for Catholic mass is nor a chapel or church, but WINE for the sacrament. It was the friar, monks, and their parishioners who first discovered that California provided ideal conditions for the making of good wine.

It wasn’t until the 19th century and immigration of other Europeans that California wine became a commercial proposition. The discovery of gold in 1848 in the Sierra Nevada Mountains brought an influx of fortune seekers from around the world. The discovery preceded the annexation of California from Mexico by only about a month, and the following year saw the population of the state explode. While a few made their fortunes, many did not. But, one fact was certainly true… they were a thirsty bunch.

It was a ready and open market for alcohol that spurred many of the early pioneers in the business to plant a few acres and start making wine for the “forty-niner” gold prospectors and others who followed in their wake.

Most of the early stuff was produced from a random assortment of grapes drawn from buena vista winerycuttings brought from back east or the “mission” grapes brought by the Spanish. That is, until a Hungarian-American traveler, writer, town-builder, and pioneer winemaker named Count Agoston Haraszthy came onto the scene. In the early 1850s, he established a small vineyard in San Francisco to satisfy local demand, but found the area ill-suited to grape production due to the foggy weather. Finding his way 50 miles north of the Golden Gate to the town of Sonoma, he bought a vineyard in 1857 and named it Buena Vista, meaning beautiful view.

But the self-named Count wasn’t satisfied with only owning a vineyard, oh no. He wanted the whole state to be a new Garden of Eden for grapes. In 1858 he penned a “Report on Grapes and Wine of California,” which was published by the California State Agricultural Society. With practical advice for planting vines and making wines, it encouraged the planting of grapes throughout the state. In later years, Haraszthy’s “Report” was recognized as the first treatise on winemaking written and published in California, and praised as the “first American explication of traditional European winemaking practices.”

napa californiaIn 1861, Haraszthy made a trip to Europe to investigate the best European vine-planting and winemaking practices and to gather cuttings of European vines. He traveled through France, Germany, Switzerland, and Spain before returning to California with more than 100,000 cuttings of more than 350 different varieties of vines. His efforts in this regard solidified California as a future wine powerhouse and set the stage for those that followed. Too bad he eventually “disappeared” in a Crocodile-infested swamp in Nicaragua. But that’s another tale.

While today we tend to think of Napa Valley as the best that California has to offer, the early pioneers settled in other areas, such as Sonoma and Livermore. In 1882, three Czech brothers named Korbel built a winery in western Sonoma County and began making sparkling wine, one of the earliest wineries to do so. A year later in 1883, Carl Wente planted 43 acres in Livermore Valley and began a legacy; Wente Vineyards is still owned and operated by the fourth and fifth generation of the Wente family. Their contributions to California wine include the Wente clone of Chardonnay, which is widely planted throughout the state and the backbone of many great wines from many producers.

Others followed and carried the industry into the 20th Century… Georges de Latour, André Tchelistcheff, Cesare, Peter, and Robert Mondavi, and Ernest and Julio Gallo are but a few of a long list of names of individuals whose vision, determination, and spunk have made California wine what it is today.

M wangbicklerThis article is but a teaser of some of the subjects we will cover in my conference session titled “The History of California in Six Glasses.” We will taste wines from some of these historic producers, explore what each signifies in their contribution to the California wine industry, and generally have a great time exploring the lives of some of the business’ most interesting characters.

Before moving to wine country a decade ago, Michael Wangbickler knew virtually nothing about wine. Undaunted, he threw himself into learning everything he could about the subject and now holds a Diploma in Wine & Spirits (DWS) from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and is a Certified Wine Educator (CWE). Mike currently holds a position at Balzac Communications and Marketing in Napa, California. In addition, he also sits on the Board of Directors for the Drink Local Wine organization. Michael’s session will be presented on Friday, August 15th at 3:00 pm.