KAY'S WINE BLOG
Wine and a Movie
​I present to you - ta da! - Kay Syrah's top three movies about wine.  Winners are, in no particular order, Somm, Bottleshock, and Sideways.  SOMM During the past forty years, about 220 people worldwide have passed the Master Sommelier Exam.  During that same period, almost 10 times as many people have been struck by lightning in the United States alone. So, yeah, it's an uncommon achievement.   Jason Wise's 2012 documentary SOMM chronicles the journey of four hopefuls as they swirl, sip and spit their way towards the pinnacle of wine knowledge.  The movie uncorked the secret and highly ... Continue reading...
What price fine wine?
Gulp.   Not "I'm parched, so I'm slugging down a quenching mouthful of Glacier Freeze Gatorade," but rather "Are you friggin' kidding me???" That's my reaction to the price of some wines.  To wit: $2,733 for a bottle of Petrus, from Pomerol, France.  That's the average price of several heralded vintages.  One vintage - it's a bit nicer, so understandably it deserves a slight premium over the mundane four-figure versions - sold at auction for $103,171.   Blink, long pause. That set in for you yet?  $103,171 for 25 ounces of grape juice.  Gold, at $1,215 per ounce, is a bargain compared to ... Continue reading...
Time for a Bud Break
No, I'm not talking about grabbing a beer after work.  I'm talking about something that happens in Wine Country. It happens year after year after year, and yet never ceases to excite me. Kinda like birthdays and holidays that way.   Bud break is when hibernating grapevines awaken.  Rows of lifeless-looking sticks sprout colorful pods, foretelling impending green lushness.  This year, much like last, warm weather in January and February has vintners forecasting an early start to the growing season.  In 2015, most California wine regions had already announced buds in the vineyards by March ... Continue reading...
Barrel Tasting Weekend
The Temecula Valley Barrel Tasting weekend is an event I will never miss. This year, it happens on Saturday and Sunday, January 30 and 31. Why won't I miss it?  The answer to that question... is that Barrel Tasting Weekend is the answer to a lot of other questions. In the wine tour business, some questions come up over and over. What's the best winery?  Which winery has the best reds?  Who has a good sparkling wine?  What’s the most beautiful spot in wine country? We have to be careful how we answer these questions. There's the issue of political correctness - we don’t want one winery to ... Continue reading...
Varietals - the Spice of Life
Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Been there, done that.  Yawn.  Same old same old.  When navigating wine preferences, these are the middle-of-the-road crowd’s easy answers.  And, yes, they are my own glass-fillers on most evenings when I want to be soothed, not challenged.  But there are times when one must liven up one’s life.  Titillate one’s taste buds.  Provoke one’s palate. Do you love the tannic bomb that is Cabernet Sauvignon?  Yep, so do I.  The bold “King of Grapes” is known for ripe black and red fruits and herbaceous notes, and pairs easily with hearty, rich dishes.    But if ... Continue reading...
Temecula Valley's 25th Annual Harvest Celebration
Wine, Food, Wine, Food, Repeat.  That's my plan for November 8 when Temecula wineries celebrate the completion of harvest with a cornucopia of tastiness.   The Celebration turns 25 years old this year, and marks its quadranscentennial with three "you've never seen this before" experiences.  The three trailblazing happenings? Sampling in subterranean style at Oak Mountain Winery, tasting like the rich and famous at Carter Estate Winery, and venturing off the beaten winery path to the appointment-only production facility of Baily Winery.    Caves are cool, literally.  Sequestering wine ... Continue reading...
Food and Wine Love Affair
(Part One of Many... chronicling Temecula Valley's unique bounty of vineyard dining) "If you fall in love with something, put everything into it." That's what Chef Oscar Escatel tells me when I run into him at Pairings, the gourmet food truck parked among the vines at Lorimar Winery in Temecula.   A bit later, he proudly presents his Goat and Fig Flatbread. Crumbled goat cheese, shaved prosciutto, caramelized onions and dried figs finished with creme fraiche and a generous sprinkle of fresh arugula. I take a greedy bite. Delish! Lorimar's 2012 Chardonnay pairs perfectly, just as Chef Oscar ... Continue reading...
Santa Barbara Pinot-Palooza
Feeling good about your grape coaxing skills?  If not, don't bother trying to make a noteworthy Pinot Noir.   “Pinot needs constant care and attention... it can only grow in these really specific, little tucked-away corners of the world. And only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it, really. Only someone who really takes the time to understand pinot’s potential can then coax it into its fullest expression.” That’s how Miles explained to Maya his appreciation of Pinot Noir’s unique challenges – and its sublime incarnations – in the 2004 movie Sideways. Bam!!! Central Coast ... Continue reading...
Beneath Paso Robles Wine Country
Wine caves.  If I hear about one, I want to explore it.  Is it a caveman thing?  Once down below, I imagine myself secure from roving saber-toothed tigers, sipping a jammy Paso Zin, careful not to spill on my Woolly Mammoth accent rug.   Whatever the cause, my fascination with wine caves is undeniable and enduring.  I will always remember my first (Kunde in Sonoma Valley).  I fondly recall my most recent (Oak Mountain in Temecula Valley).  And I eagerly anticipate my next (where? when? dunno).   In Paso Robles Wine Country, I have gone subterranean at three wineries:  Eberle, Robert Hall, ... Continue reading...
Sonoma Valley and the Heritage of California Wine
Located just 45 minutes north of San Francisco, Sonoma Valley is a picturesque wine region combining world-renowned wines with inviting country charm.  But it rarely receives the credit it deserves for its role in in establishing Northern California as a world class wine region - in large part because neighboring Napa Valley stepped into the international spotlight after besting French wines in the famous 1976 “Judgement of Paris.” But a glimpse at the history of California wine reveals that Sonoma Valley is unmatched in its role as California’s pioneering region for premium winemaking.  ... Continue reading...