Bodega Bay Seafood, Art and Wine Festival: Last of the Fantastic Summer Wine Festivals

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The San Francisco Bay Area’s Summer Festival season is coming to a close with one of the very best outdoor celebrations. The 13th annual Bodega Seafood, Art and Wine Festival provides celebrants with a serene water location, world class musical talent, and gourmet food and wine offerings.

The Bodega Bay celebration is held in the historic bay side resort town of Bodega Bay made famous by Alfred Hitchcock in his creepy classic “The Birds.” The festival, August 25 & 26th, is located at Watt’s Ranch 16855 Bodega Avenue in the village of Bodega Bay, California. The event runs from 10:00-6:00 on Saturday and 10:00-5:00 on Sunday; admission fees are $12 for adults, $10 for Seniors 60 and over, $8 for kids 12-1, and children under 12 are admitted free of charge. This is truly one of the best values in entertainment. The following is a lineup of musical talent, Art, Food and wineries available:

Saturday August 25: Headliner Marcia Ball Singer/Pianist brings her brand of “bayou blues” and “honky tonk” style for her first appearance at Bodega Bay.

Opening for Marcia: Guitar virtuoso Scott Huckabay , Cari Lee and the Saddle-ites , Montuno Groove , and a host of stage shows.

Sunday August 26: Headliner the Bay Area’s native sons Pride and Joy the best R&B club band with over 25 yrs of headliner gigging.

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Opening for Pride and Joy: Incendio nuevo flamenco and Tom Rigney.

With 19 wineries led by the fantastic Sbragia from Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County and 10 breweries including Sierra Nevada there will not be a dry glass in the place.

If you are visiting the San Francisco Bay Area in late August or if you are a local make the trek to Bodega Bay for what promises to be the best celebration of the summer.

Ed Sbragia Winery: Prominent Winemaker Uses Glass Stopper to Slay the Cork Myth

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The dirtiest little secret, within the wine industry, long a terrible fact is the”corkage factor.” It has been estimated that up to 20% of the wines in circulation are contaminated rendering them undrinkable. The reason for this high rate of loss is the material used to seal a wine bottle: cork. Cork has long been the traditional material used in the wine industry. Cork is cheap and it is romantic in it’s opening. Cork also represents history within a industry steeped in tradition.

Unfortunately the worst case scenario is when a collector or wine fanatic saves aka “lays down” a bottle for 5+years. I have done just this with a bottle of Caymus Special Select Cabernet Sauvignon from the legendary 1994 Napa Valley vintage. At release this bottle retailed for $100. Currently this wine sells at retail for between $250 and $400 depending upon the source. Scarier yet is the fact that on one restaurant wine list a bottle of 1994 Caymus Special Select was selling for $650! Consequently this bottle is meant for my upcoming birthday. . . if tragedy strikes and this bottle is tainted, it would be a loss on 3 levels: time to age, cost at release, cost to replace present day. I could never afford to own a replacement!

All of this has changed with the introduction of Ed Sbragia’s “Resealable Glass Stopper.” Sbragia, the legendary wine making master for Berringer Vineyards for so many years, has introduced the “new cork” at his new winery Sbragia Family Vineyards in the Dry Creek Valley region of northern Sonoma County.

In a fun and interesting article written by Bill Daley, in”The Stew” Chicago Tribune’s wine and food blog, a brief history of alternative “stoppers” is explored. Daleys’ examination of the stoppers is both accurate and a good description of what to expect for those first timers.

Consequently a new era of taint free wines is a true possibility. Although Sbragia is not the first vintner to use glass resealable stoppers, he is the most prominent and powerful winery owner to promote them. This fact alone may create a shift in perception amongst winery owners and the public. Hopefully bottles, coddled and stored with loving care, saved for that special occasion will no longer bring with them the ultimate let down-another tainted disaster!

Napa Valley’s “Vintage Inn”: A Slice of French Country Elegance in Yountville

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Nestled in the tiny burg of Yountville, CA, in the Napa Valley wine country, resides the Vintage Inn. A sister property to the Villagio, the Vintage Inn is one of the finest french country Inn’s in the United States. The combination of estate-like spacious rooms, country quaint lushly appointed grounds, and supreme service provided by the staff gives the Vintage Inn a leg up on it’s competition.

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The best characteristic the Vintage has to offer is it’s staff. Most are young kids with a never ending positive flow of helpful suggestions and “can do” cordialness. The generosity is obvious. On our recent stay, we were given an unlimited supply of free Mumm’s Champagne, served an incredibly delicious buffet style brunch, and were encouraged to take nearly everything, that was not bolted or nailed down to the ground, home as a souvenir for free. We discovered that we received well over $100 worth of food, wine, and souvenirs within our room rate during our stay-an incredible value given the 4 star designation this property enjoys.

The staff’s wonderful service, positive attitude, and generosity was not the only draw to this resort. The rooms and grounds are picturesque and guaranteed to place you in a relaxed mood.

The rooms are spacious and fully appointed in french country colors (blue/white/earth tones). The king sized bed, with pillow top, was magnificent. The bathroom, the size of a Manhattan studio, had a very large jacuzzi tub, candles, mirrors, and a beautiful vanity. A mountain of fine linens were provided as was a very comfy terrycloth robe. Suffice it to say it was very romantic and worth the price of admission alone.

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The final piece to any resort is the ambiance they wish to create from the outside. The grounds are a lush green combination of ferns, wild flowers, well coifed hedges, and an assortment of emerald green grass spots. The walk ways are adorned with ground lighting and a beautiful canal is etched into each path with flowing water. There are multiple fountains on the property giving a person the feeling they are on an estate property. This has the feel of a perfect place for your wine country wedding or anniversary celebration.

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The amenities include a fantastic cabana like funrnished lap pool area. Lounge seating and large dramatic furniture adorns each corner of the pool. Included in this equation is a large hot tub providing a great hot-cold experience from tub to pool. The Vintage Inn’s formidable restaurant provides pool service of their entire menu and full bar service.

Meadowwood, Auberge du soleil, and Silverado have long been the platinum gold standard of resorts in the Napa Valley. But if you are looking for a fantastic experience without the $600+ per night freight, try the Vintage Inn in Yountville, California. They aim to please; they fulfilled every expectation and more so on our trip.

The Greatest Value Chardonnay You May Never Taste

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Chardonnay, easily one of the most controversial and popular grapes harvested , has many superstar offerings. Wines such as Kistler, El Molino, Beringer Reserve, Martinelli, Rombauer, Patz and Hall, Shafer’s Red Shoulder Ranch, and Ramey are bursting with multiple flavors, structure, and balance. The problem remains the price as most of these offerings begin around $30 skyrocketing up to the triple digit level. For everyday sipping, these fantastic chardonnays can become a bit pricey.

The most economical, rich, and elegant chardonnay (everyday tasting) we have tried is Buena Vista’s 2004 Sonoma Chardonnay. Crafted from Carneros fruit, this chardonnay is very smooth and creamy. It is reminiscent of Rombauer’s smooth malolactic mouth feel without a 2×4 oak log beating you over the head as you pull splinters out of your tongue.

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Mind you, I love Rombauer Chardonnay! Yet many self proclaimed “experts”, the folks who can detect 29 different and distinct tastes from moldy sweat socks to a hummingbird’s vapor trail, believe that oak in wine is an affront to mankind! A little oak never hurt, as long as it’s not coming from a wood shampoo, and in wine it can provide a fantastic background flavor.

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All fun aside, Buena Vista’s 2004 Sonoma Chardonnay tastes like a superstar’s $50 per bottle offering. Yet, it is priced just right! We found this wine at various locations. The best price? At our local Longs Drugs store of all places. Long’s price: $10.99.

I hope you had fun.  Thanks!

Buena Vista Carneros: Help Celebrate the 150 Year Anniversary Sept. 7, 2007

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Buena Vista Carneros, established in 1857 and now the oldest winery in Sonoma, celebrates it’s 150 year Anniversary on September 7, 2007. According to the Buena Vista web site, “. . . a sumptous food & wine event” will be held from 2pm to 5pm. The event will be attended by wine trade dignitaries as well as California political figures.

In addition, Sonoma’s most noteworthy restaurants, none were named in the announcement, will be present serving their finest accompanied by Buena Vista’s rich offerings. Live music in the beautiful fountain courtyard area round out the celebration.

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Tickets for the event are on sale now. Carneros Club members: $45 and non members: $60. Space is limited and it is suggested that the public RSVP in advance at 800. 325.2764 phone or 800. 425.8238 fax.

A percentage of the proceeds will be donated to the Sonoma Valley Historical Society.

For more information please contact Dean Guadagni winecountryrogue@gmail.com