RI Renovated – Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyards

You may remember my post from a few years ago about the RAVE review I gave for Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyards. You might also remember, Carolyn Rafaelian, as the Creative Director for the Alex and Ani Company but did you know that she personally owns the vineyard?  I (Kristen) visited again this past weekend to check out their new wines and to my surprise, the vineyard has been renovated and is more than ready for the summer drinking season.

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I had flashbacks to my time in Napa while sitting in their fabulous outdoor restaurant called the BAR AND BOARD VINEYARD BISTRO. Their new summer menu is beautifully gourmet and yet still approachable to our picky eaters. It is traditional with it’s cheese board options and wines by the glass yet trendy with items like Steamed Edamame Dumplings and award winning “Chowdah” with crab, jalapenos, and sweet potatoes!

Insider tip: the portions can be large so order an item and be sure to share. The entrees can feed two and you can always order more later. 

 

Compared to my last visit, the vineyard now sports two new tasting bars. One, located outdoors on the expansive lawn, is meant to support the sunbathing crowds with ice cold glasses of their favorite wines and perfectly paired snacks. The other is inside the brand new ‘Mercantile” building which is their adorable barn style store that offers selections from Alex and Ani, Stonewall Kitchen, and Sakonnet pride shirts, sweaters, and even children’s clothes.

 

The best part?

Their wine selection suits all kinds of winos. From the sweet moscato lover to the bone dry rose lover, these bottles range in body, flavor, and color. So grab your friends and bring a beach towel or enjoy the vintage lawn chairs and wooden rockers. Not a sunshine person? Sakonnet has two indoor bars in the main tasting room with a refrigerator filled with cold wine bottles ready for purchase! The bottles can be opened outside and fresh glasses borrowed for sipping on the lawn. Don’t worry they have plenty of tables with large sun shield umbrellas too.

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Customize your visit:

Bring your dog (on a leash) or a football and play all day!

Buy a bottle (or three) of wine and sip outside while sunbathing.

Bring your friends for a wino getaway, Inside tip – the winery cannot support groups larger than 6 at the bars so make sure to call ahead if you have a large group to make space!

Grab some lunch and do a wine tasting  – $14 for 7 samples and a keepsake glass!

Take a tour of the winery! Tours are offered from 12 -3 pm every hour!

Buy an Alex and Ani bracelet with your favorite wine design on it!

Don’t forget to let us know what you think of your visit!!!

Cheers!

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Local grapes by the Amana Colonies

Kristen took a trip to Iowa last month and discovered a large community of people called the Amana Colonies who are helping locally grown grapes make a major come back!

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Amana, not Amish: 

At first glance, the Amana community seems to highly resemble the famous Amish settlers. However, the people of the Amana colonies are of German descent and highly value innovation and advancement in technology. After breaking away from the Luthern church in 1714, the Amana group has thrived and how stands as 7 large colonies. To our joyous surprise, Amana is famous for their Oktoberfest celebration and supports 4 wineries and 1 incredibly German-style brewery.

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Show me the wine

While visiting, Kristen managed to visit 2 of the wineries and got to learn a great deal about delicious local blends.

Stop 1: Fireside Winery –

**Currently being sold in the Heritage Haus in Amana.

Though these wines are sold to Amana like a winery in Napa would sell them to you local liquor store, the winery grows grape varieties that we have never heard of before!

Wines to try:

Hearthstone: It was a beautiful, light, and semi-dry red wine made with the local Marquette grape. It’s aroma screams fresh cherry and the palate finishes with smokey oak flavors. It’s wine that is elegant enough for short ribs but yet approachable enough for pizza.

Blu: This white blend of Geisenheim and local Iowa Seyval grapes, is a lightly sweet wine with crisp apple notes and and orange fruit aromas. It’s the perfect pair for your spicy taco night or BYOB to your favorite Indian restaurant. Seyval is also a MA local grape and the Iowa expression is elegant in comparison.

Glow: This dessert sweet wine is made with Iowa grown Brianna grapes. Expect this wine to take you away to a tropical destination with its pineapple, peach, and roasted apricot flavors. It’s the perfect sweet wine for the white sangria lovers in your life or even better on ice as a summer porch sipper.

 

Brave enough to try?

Fireside wines can be purchased on their website and shipped to your house! Explore their large portfolio and let us know what you think!

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Stop 2: Ackerman Winery

Established in 1956, it’s one of the oldest wineries in Iowa and has won awards for it’s fruit wine such as rhubarb and dandelion wine. Their unique selection of wines alone was stunning before we even to got taste them!

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wines to try:

Catawba: This native American grape varietal is the parent grape of the famous Concord variety. It produces a gorgeous pink wine that we swear will be your new summer fav! It’s hints of fresh strawberry and red apple will go down so easy it can be dangerous.

Edelweiss: This juicy Iowa grown white grape reminded us of a Gewurztraminer. It’s soft and floral body is easy drinking with pear and lemon notes. Serve ice cold while waiting for toe nails to dry in the hot summer sun.

Try the fruit wines – we dare you! Choosing a top fruit wine is too hard. All of their fruits are grown across america and boast about their health benefits as listed below. The Rhubarb and Dandelion have won awards but the Blackberry and Pomegranate were some of our favs. We recommend joining the wine club so you can taste them all!

Ackerman wines can also be purchased on their website!

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Happy Drinking Wineos!!!

 

 

Wine Ideas for a Nor’Easter

Need ideas for surviving our latest Blizzard?

Weather you are snowbound at home or making the trek outside, you deserve some winter warming wine cocktail ideas! 

While you are checking to see if your house vents are covered in snow, try simmering some mulled wine on the stove! This Italian recipe will have you defrosted in no time!

Mulled wine with spices, studio

Lost power? No Problem! Grab that old fondue pot and warm up some store bought Gluhwein from Total Wine and More or ask your local liquor store if they have any left over from the holiday season.

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Don’t like Red but still want something warm? Try this fun “White Glogg” recipe with whatever white wine you have lying around!

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Don’t forget to have fun experimenting with whatever you have in that old cabinet! She Knows offers up this wonderful recipe list to help you get started!

These mulled wine cocktails are what's giving us life this winter

Stay safe and Stay Sassy!

Feature Image from Laughtard.com

Ice Wine for Icy Weather

Like sweet wine? If yes, you have to try Ice Wine!

Ice Wine (Eiswein) is created through a process of leaving ripe grapes on the vine until the first frost before harvesting and pressing. These grapes are pressed for juice while still frozen.

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Why use frozen grapes?

When the grapes sit on the vines long after traditional harvest season, the fruit is exposed to the sun all the way up until the first snow. This sunlight exposure allows the juice inside the grape to slowly sweeten over time.

Fun facts:

  1. Crushing these grapes while frozen could pose a threat to machinery, which contributes to higher costs.
  2. The juice produced tends to create wines with an average of 10% alc level.
  3. Ice wine has the same sweetness as a Moscato. 

Location is Everything

Ice wine is unique and one of the claim to fame aspects of colder counties. ex: New England that is famous for it’s Iced Cider or Apple wines. Traditionally, Ice Wine must be made with grapes that are naturally frozen on the vine. Most Ice Wine producing countries like the US, Austria, Canada, and Germany, all have laws that prevent wine labels from claiming they produce “Ice Wine” if the grapes are commercially frozen instead.

Wagner Riesling Ice Wine, 2014Inniskillin Riesling Icewine, 2014

 

Let’s Talk Money

As we explained, the process of producing proper Ice Wine is painstaking and crushing the grapes isn’t even the hardest part. These difficulties explain why Ice Wine is normally sold in half bottles and tends to be at a higher price point ($30 – $60). Anything cheaper is usually somehow doctored from the natural process.

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Real Talk: Is it worth the money? 

We recommend to try it at least once. Taste the wine straight up and chilled first. Then have fun figuring out different ways to use it. Mix it into a wine that isn’t sweet enough for you. Turn it into a winter cocktail to impress friends. Pour that liquid gold over ice cream or turn it into a boozy cupcake. I personally feel (Kristen) that it’s the most elegant way to enjoy dessert and if you have the money in your wine budget it’s worth the splurge. HOWEVER, keep it away from your friends who don’t really understand good wine. Your barefoot/yellowtail lovers will drink down your $40 in a heartbeat.

 

Redstone image credit @ redstonewines.caredstonewines.caredstonewines.ca

Wagner Riesling image @ totalwine.com

Inniskillin solo bottle image @totalwine.com

Inniskillin group bottle image@ James Joel

Iced Grapes Photo @ Dominic RlvardDominic RlvardDominic Rlvard

Feature Image: Ice Bar Abstract from KimManleyOrt

Living Up to its Name: Murphy Goode Pinot Noir

With the holidays fast approaching, we’re sure you’re in a hurry to snag an impressive wine for the many parties you’re headed to. But the holidays often drain our pockets, too. Thankfully, this Pinot Noir will pair perfectly with holiday festivities without adding burden to your holiday costs.

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Typically sold between $9.99-$15.00 (we snagged it at the low end), Murphy Goode’s 2014 Pinot Noir is perfect when you’re rushing your way to a dinner party…or need a glass to recover from a holiday party with your relatives.

 

Aged in both French and American barrels, the wine boasts smooth and vanilla flavors with just enough acidity to stop it from bordering on sweet. Dark cherry notes balance this complexity with hints of fruitiness, making for smooth and easy drinking. Perhaps too easy.

Featured Image and image 1:  http://www.swigstudio.com/Murphy-Goode-Wines

Image 2: http://tipplesbrews.com/2017/06/28/californian-pinot-italian-rose-jack-weekly-wine-picks-628-75/

 

Scribe Winery – Sonoma Superhero

Just in case you didn’t read our post on how to help with the CA Fire Relief, click here for why we added Scribe Winery in Sonoma to the list of local heroes. Their special release of Nouveau Pinot Noir was designed to benefit local charities that are helping with the fire aid.

We at Half-Past ordered a bottle in support of the charity. It was our first time trying wine from this vineyard, and you can find our take of the drink below.

 

Wine Review Summary: Worth every penny!

Nouveau Pinot Noir cost us $32 a bottle plus shipping to MA which ended up at around $50. Normally, we never buy blind but since this winery was producing for relief purposes, we couldn’t resist.

2017 Nouveau of Pinot Noir

First, let us just say that the sheer color of this wine is STUNNING. It’s a vibrant and practically neon-magenta shade of pink. We stared at the bottle for a good 10 minutes before opening. It drinks like a deep rose but looks like a sangria.

Styled after the famous french Nouveau Beaujolais, the nose of the wine was bright with fresh summer berry perfume. The body was light yet coated the palate with grapefruit citrus and strawberry leaves. Though the fruit is subtle at first, it ripens throughout and leaves a clean almost lime finish. It was dangerously smooth which allows for easy drinking and infinite food pairing opportunities.

 

Now we will warn you that this bottle is unfilteredIf you want every last drop, you will have to strain it for debris and sediment. We used two coffee filters….. Why? Drinking the sediment will result in a glass that is filled with tannins, grape skins, and dead yeast from fermentation.  That combination is great for wine color, but not so great for tasting in concentrated doses. It will be strong and bitter with a mineral and sandy mouthfeel.

 

This Pinot Noir was so beautifully light yet complex that we are excited to see what comes next for this Sonoma winery. Have you tried Scribe? We want to know!

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Stay thirsty wineos!

Feature image Credit – Scribe Winery Facebook 

Vineyard ending photo credit – Scribe Winery Facebook

 

Celebrating Local Varietals

New England is known for its foliage and fall character. Fall in the northeast provokes thoughts of colorful leaves, fresh apples, and hayrides. We think it should also include thoughts of our regional varietals and wine flavors. Some of our favorite local wineries (including ones we’ve reviewed in the past, like White Mountain Winery or Moonlight Meadery) are known for their lush, fruit-based flavors: perfect for fall!

But there are still plenty of festive, fall and winter varietals for wine lovers who aren’t fans of sweet or fruity wines. We recently tasted two local bottles from Massachusetts wineries: a Frontenac from Mill River Winery and a Pinot Menier from Westport Wineries.

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The Pinot Menier surprised us with cherry and vanilla notes – almost like a cola but with a more complex body and taste. This varietal is rarely bottled on its own, and was a treat to enjoy!

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The Frontenac – harvested in 2014 and sold in a half-bottle – offered soft tannins and a soft finish. We noted flavors of oak and dark fruit, such as plums. It had a silky finish, but with just a bit of a bite.

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For other wineries to watch, check out Sweet Baby Vineyard, Sakkonet Vineyards, Greenvale Vineyards, Alfalfa Farm Winery, and pretty much the entire finger lakes region in NY State. Drink up your favorite local ‘foliage’ and let us know what your favorite is!

Cheers!

 

CA Fire Relief- How you can help!

 

Hey Wineos,

Our renowned wine capitals Napa and Sonoma have been hit with terrible wild fires that have displaced families and damaged many of the wineries we all love. For detailed information about which wineries were affected and which counties have been burned please read here.

In latest news, the majority of the fires have been contained for the time being. Many organizations in the area are looking for donations to help rebuild wine country and support the families.

Image result for love in the air is thicker than the smoke

So how can you help?

The Winemakers and Sommeliers For California Wildfire Relief group is hosting fundraising events, taking donations, and taking donated quality vintage wine bottles to use as auction items for funds.

The American Red Cross is taking applications for volunteers to help bring aid to the area as well as donations on their website. Donations can be directed to all general disaster relief which covers the CA fires, Hurricane Harvey, and Hurricane Maria. You can choose which disaster you want to donate to.

The Redwood Empire Food Bank is also taking monetary donations and food donations if you live locally. The money goes to help feeding the displaced families.

Gloria Ferrer winery in Sonoma is doing a special where $1 from every purchase goes towards the fire relief. Check out their website for fundraising events or shop online to make a difference. Every bottle counts!

Scribe Winery in Sonoma County has opened a pre-sale for their special edition Pinot Noir where the proceeds from the sales will go to local aid forces. The wine will ship on November 1st and this limited edition bottle costs $32 dollars. We here at half-past just purchased a bottle and will be reviewing it soon for you!

2017 Nouveau of Pinot Noir Presale // Ships Nov 1st

For even more ways to help like donating to the local firefighters in the area or clothing donations check out PBS.org

Please do your part to help support the vineyards and the people that work hard to provide you with USA made wine every day. #CAwinestrong

Stay Wine Strong and Cheers

Feature Image Credit – Santa Cruise Mountains Winegrowers Association

Love in the Air Image Credit – Two-Way Breaking News NPR

Pinor Noir Wine Bottle Image Credit – Scribe Winery 

 

 

CA Wine That’s Worth the Flight – Ferrari Carano

‘Dead Palate’ is a real issue many wine drinkers face after simply tasting too many different wines in a short amount of time. After spending a week in wine country, I hate to admit this, but many of the wines were starting to taste the same and lacked personality. It was a delightful surprise to discover that the wines at Ferrari Carano truly stood apart from the rest I had tried in CA thus far.

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This Italian inspired mansion in Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma is quite the sight to behold on your way down their Tuscan driveway. The entrance to the wine shop and tasting rooms is actually on the left side of the mansion. Here, witness a view of the grape vines that will have you scrambling for the perfect selfie.

Unlike many vineyards in Sonoma, Ferrari-Carano has many affordable tasting options. The upstairs tasting bar (Villa Fiore Bar) is only $10 for a flight of 5 wines that you can choose from a lengthy menu.

The outdoor patio tasting is where you can relax and drink your favorite bottle or sample a seasonal wine flight which can be on the more expensive side.

Finally, in the wine cellar there’s a private wine bar and a public bar which hosts the higher end wines. Enjoy a flight of four wines for $25 dollars or book a private tasting in the Enotrica wine room.

Ferrari-Carano produces a wide variety of grapes which makes it great for a crowd. My brother and I did the Villa Fiore Bar, each of us chose different wines. Of the ten we tried, the Pinot Noir made a major impression. The 2015 Anderson Valley ‘Lazy Day’ Pinot was an amazing quality for an affordable price. This borderline medium bodied wine was smooth, bright with a cranberry and raspberry bite that slowly evolved into rich blackberry and oaked cherry finish. It was unlike any pinot that I had tasted before and it was only $24 a bottle!

Your trip to Sonoma would not be complete without relaxing in the warm breeze with a glass of Ferrari-Carano. I promise you will find your new favorite CA wine after one visit. Wine Up Wineos!

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