Saturday, March 29, 2008

BUD BREAK 2008 ! and Bottling the 2007 Vintage with Winemaker Dan Tudor

Spring is here and Bud Break 2008 has begun !
This is a busy time of year. In Las Vegas many Food and
Wine events are being held over the next 2-3 months.


Further to the west in Santa Barbara, San Luis Opispo and Napa Valley many festivals are planned as well.


Vino Las Vegas plans to cover as many of these events
as possible from the Renown Chefs in Las Vegas to



the smallest of wineries in California. We will also bring you along with us as we join in Celebrating the Santa Barbara
County Vintners Festival
in just a few weeks.


Budbreak came a little early this year. Normally, we don't see it until the first or second week of April. This early bud break can be a little scary for the vineyards as they get a few limited frosts in the second half of April, and are even at risk of a freeze.


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We saw bud break begin over just a few days in Paso Robles and Edna Valley. It is also a time for bottling. Many of the Vineyards use the time right before bud break to start to bottle the previous harvest . We joined Winemaker Dan Tudor has he began bottling a few of his Radog wines and enjoyed watching the cycle begin once more with bud break 2008 .

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Culinary and Wine History made once again in Las Vegas

Many of the experts all over the world have known that Las Vegas over the last 6 years has become world renown for its Food, Wine and Enternatinment. This past week another bit of Food and Wine History was made here in Las Vegas. With the induction of Joseph Phillips of Sensi into the Court of Master Sommeliers, The Bellagio Resort has more master sommeliers than any other property in the world. The others are Robert Smith of Picasso, Jason Smith of Michael Mina Bellagio and Robert Bigelow Director of Wine.

Las Vegas has taken it place as one of the primer Food and Wine destinations in the world !

Winemaker Rick Potruch of Opolo Wines Visits Vino 100 and speaks with Scott of Vino Las Vegas


One of the best places to buy wine in Las Vegas is Vino 100 in the NW section of town. Owners Natalie and Theresa do a great job providing their customers with wines from all over the world, some of which can only be found in their shop. They have may events going on all the time. We stopped by and met Winemaker Rick Potruch of Opolo Vineyards in Paso Robles. The vineyard is located on 70 acres west of Paso Robles. All of Opolo's wines are estate grown, produced and bottled, and production is normally less than 500 cases per varietal. Join Rick, Natalie , and Scott as they talk about Opolo's wines.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Vino Las Vegas stops at Robert Hall Vineyards and speaks with Robert Hall and Winemaker Don Brady












We have visited Robert Hall winery on a few previous trips to Paso Robles. On this visit we had the opportunity to speak with Robert Hall and Winemaker Don Brady about their wines and their passion for this landmark winery. Robert Hall established the winery in 2002 with its grand opening. This was a 40 year journey for Robert and his wife Margaret. After a visit to the Rhone valley in the 1970's Robert was fascinated by the Food and Wine lifestyle of the Rhone. In the 1980's Robert used his years of business expertise and began to develop his idea of a premium-producing vineyard and began to look for the right area to produce premium Rhone style grapes. In the 1990s Robert and Margaret found Paso Robles to be the appropriate area where the soil, warm days and cool nights were ideal for his Rhone style wines.




In 2001 award winning Winemaker Don Brady joined Robert at the winery. Don had earned world wide recognition in 2001 when he became the recipient of the International Wine and Spirits "Wine of Amercia" award. As Winemaker for Robert Hall , Don was awarded the Winemaker of the Year award in 2006 by the Paso Robles County Alliance in partnership with the Independent Grape Growers of Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo Vintners Association.




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Today the Winery and Hospitality Center is situated on 21.8 acres surrounded by Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. There is a reflecting pool and a floral garden the includes 15 varieties of roses. The Hospitality center has a wine library and dinning room . The Hospitality Center's 10,000 square feet is one on the largest venues on the Central Coast for special events.


The 19,000 square foot tasting room gives its visitors a 90 degree view of the nearby wine country through its 13 foot high windows. There are also tours to the underground wine caverns as well. This is such an amazing place where you can enjoy music in the 300 seat Amphitheatre, play Bocce Ball or have a picnic in this incredible facility that Robert Hall has created.

On our visit Robert took us through a vertical tasting of the Robert Hall Zinfandel 2002-2005 vintages. The 2004 Zinfandel Sauret Vineyard really stood out for us. It was full bodied with aromas of raspberry and cranberry with a hint of spice with mild tannins on the finish. The 2002 Zinfandel Sauret Vineyard is ageing nicely and was a real treat with its black pepper, wild berrys with chocolate and mild tannins on the finish. It was a terrific experience to do a vertical tasting with Robert as he explained each one.


The Robert Hall Vineyard is a collection of four estate vineyards that show off the best the Paso Robles Appellation has to offer. The Home Vineyard , located just east of the property and is about 140 acres of the largest and most mature planting. This is the core vineyard and serves as the foundation. The Terrace Vineyard is located above the Estrella River. Its 65 acres provides the vineyard with diverse planting with such varietals as Roussanne, Cinsaut , and Mourvedere. The Bench Vineyard wraps around the Winery and Hospitality Center. This 12 acre planting produces intense and concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Lastly, is the Brady Vineyard. This vineyard is located just east of the Terrace Vineyard and its 18 acres is planted with Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Robert Hall and Don Brady have made a tradition of making award winning wines from four very unique and diverse vineyards and show no signs of letting up. After visiting this beautiful facility and talking with Robert and Don we know there will be many more award winning wines from this great team at Robert Hall Winery in Paso Robles.

Falcon Nest Winery , a great stop for Food and Wine






We were on the back roads of Paso Robles and were looking for some good food and wine. We saw Falcon Nest Winery and stopped in. Little did we know we would be greeted by Francesco Grande a chef for over 4o years and his wife Carol. As we sampled Merlot, Cabernet Sauvingon, Syrah and Zinfandel from their 2003 Vintage, Francesco prepared a fresh antipasto lunch. He explained his family has been involved in making wine for centuries In Italy. For him food and wine has always been a way of life. Falcon Nest offers a variety of handmade sauces and other Italian dishes. The Vineyard has montly theme dinners and even dances. This is a true gem tucked away along the backroads of Paso Robles. Once insde when you smell the food and taste the wine you may even think you are in Tuscany. For for information about Falcon Nest Winery go to their website http://www.falconnestwine.com/

Vino Las Vegas Visits Stillwaters Vineyards in Paso Robles




















We were on our way back to Paso Robles when we ran across Stillwaters Vineyards. This is a beautiful vineyard that even has 100 year old olive trees from which Stillwaters produces their own olive oil that is available for sale along with their wines.
We spoke to Assistant Winemaker Kasey Justus as we sampled their wines. She said that eighty percent of the two hundred tons of fruit produced is sold to exclusive wineries throughout the state. The Vineyard started as a dream of Paul and Patty Hoover to own a small one-acre vineyard and has now grown to 60 acres that produces 10 varieties of grapes.

Some of their wines such as the Zinfandel 2006 Ranchita Canyon and the Estate Pinot Gris 2006 have only a 125 case production. Stillwaters Vineyards is a lovely stop the next time you are in Paso Robles.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Vino Las Vegas makes a stop at Anglim Winery

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As we travel around the country we are always on the look out for small production high quality wines. We found one in Anglim Wines whose tasting room is located in Paso Robles. Winemaker Steve Anglim knows that making great wines begins in the vineyard and seeks out the highest quality fruit sources all across Paso Robles and Santa Barbara County. While at the World of Pinot Noir we met Steffanie Anglim. Anglim Pinot Noirs were well received and fit right in with the best. We knew we were going to be in Paso Robles so we had to call Steffanie so we could learn more about Anglim and their wines. Scott from Vino Las Vegas met Steffanie at the tasting room and spoke with her about their wine making philosophy, their wines and future plans.

It was a pleasure spending time talking with Steffanie and sampling the Anglim wines. When we are in Paso Robles again this will be a stop we will not miss. For more information about Anglim wines go to http://www.anglimwinery.com/

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Vino Las Vegas LLC attends the Wine Walk to benefit the New Vista Community Center





We attend many wine and food events throughout

the year. Here at Vino Las Vegas LLC we feel very fortunate to be able to travel and meet wonderful people. There are many people more challenged than ourselves that need our help.





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We jumped at the chance to attend the Wine Walk to benefit The New Vista Community Center . This great organization was founded in 1984 by parents of disabled individuals. The main focus of The New Vista Community Center is to support the independence of the disabled community with a wide variety of programs. For more information on their programs or to donate to the organization you can go to http://www.newvistacommunity.org/


The Wine Walk was at the Venetian Resort and had a silent auction, great food, music and a VIP section that featured wines from around the world and even gaming for a good cause. Scott from Vino Las Vegas LLC caught up with New Vista's Director of Development Michelle Jackson and spoke with her about the Wine Walk and what the New Vista Center is all about. Elaine from Vino Las Vegas takes you into the event as she sampled the Food , Wine and music . New Vista Community Center has many events throughout the year. What a better way to give back to the community and have some great food and wine at the same time.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Vino Las Vegas Visits the World of Pinot Noir






















For any Pinot Noir lover March
can only mean one thing, The World of Pinot Noir held in Shell Beach, California.

This year was the eighth annual event that brings together all the big names in Pinot Noir. Many of them were pioneers who first brought Pinot Noir to the Central Coast. In addition to the pioneers there were young faces this year as well. The wonderful thing about this event is they all come together to share their love and passion for Pinot Noir not only with each other but with the entire world. This year 196 wineries covering eight different countries participated in this two day event that has become the largest celebration of Pinot Noir in the world.


We attended this event last year and thought it could not get any better. The 2008 version of this event was better than the year before with more wineries and more events. The venue at the Cliffs Resort cannot be beat as we enjoy Pinot Noirs from all over the World over looking the Pacific Ocean. This event is not just about wine but food and education as well.


Day one included Seminars and a Stemware Focus and Food pairing with Georg Riedel. After the Seminars you could attend the Focus Tasting at the Cliffs Resort overlooking the Pacific Ocean where guests enjoyed Pinot Noir from 92 wineries, a silent auction and cheese from the Cheese Shop in Carmel. The day was not compete until you attended the Gala Dinner and Reception created by renown Chef Bradley Ogden.


The second day the events kept coming. Someone we know well from Las Vegas is Master Sommelier William Sherer , the wine director at the award winning Aureole at Mandalay Bay ,who presided over the Iron Sommelier Challenge Seminar. The wines of Domaine Jacques Frederic Mugnier were featured at another Seminar that included lunch. The crowd started to arrive and waited anxiously in line to attend the main event. This is the Pinot Noir by the Sea tasting that featured 107 wineries a silent auction and cheese from the Cheese Shop in Carmel. As the day was coming to a close we enjoyed watching the Sunset over the ocean while enjoying great Pinot Noirs and this one of a kind venue. The evening ended with a Santa Barabara-style Paulee Dinner hosted by Au Bon Climat Winery.


This event was not about individual vineyards and winemakers. It is about the entire area and it's world class Pinot Noirs. These great winemakers have come together and created a very special event that shows off the Central Coast Pinot Noirs to fellow winemakers else where in the United States and the World.


We raise our Pinot glasses to the World of Pinot Noir Board of Directors, Event Coordinator Felicia Montemayor and Board Member Barbara Smith for another great event. Cheers ! we will see you next year at World of Pinot Noir 2009. This event sells out fast. For updates go to www.worldofpinotnoir.com/

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Vino Las Vegas Speaks with Winemaker Ken Brown at the World of Pinot Noir



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We had the opportunity to meet Ken Brown a few years ago when we helped him crush and hand sort his Pinot Noir. It was a very enlightening experience to help such a legendary winemaker such as Ken. He has been recognized as one of Santa Barbara County’s pioneer winemakers . In fact, he was one the first winemakers to see the potential of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Santa Barbara County in the 1970’s and was also the first winemaker to introduce the Syrah , Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc to Santa Barbara County.

Scott of Vino Las Vegas caught up with Ken at the World of Pinot Noir and spoke with him about his background and current releases from Ken Brown Wines.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Vino Las Vegas stops along the Edna Valley Wine Trail

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Wine country anywhere in the world is beautiful and Edna Valley is no exception. This Appellation is located just outside of San Luis Opispo and the vineyards produce an number of blends , Syrah , Pinot Noir , even Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Dry Gewurztraminer. We made stops at many of the vineyards along the way. Claiborne & Churchill Vineyard is small but produces great wines. We tasted their whole line and spent some time speaking with their winemaker Coby at the World of Pinot Noir event. They produce Alsatian style Gewurztraminer , Riesling , and Pinot Gris. Their Pinot Noir is excellent as well.

Further down the trail we came across Baileyana Vineyards who makes an outstanding Syrah Firepeak Vineyard 2003 . It was so good we had to take one home as well as their Tagent Ecclestone 2006. This is a wonderful blend of Pinot Gris, Vognier, Resling , Pinot Blanc , Orange Muscat and Albarino. We enjoyed this in the tasting room and feel it would be a great summer wine.

When we first traveled to this region we asked a few winemaker freinds where we should stop. They all recommended Domaine Alfred Vineyards. Owner Terry Speizer has done a great job with this vineyard and produces award wining Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. Their Pinot Noir from Chamisal Vineyard Estate Bottled 2006 caught our attention.

There are so many more to mention but that just means Vino Las Vegas will have to return to continue our exploration of Edna Valley. We will return and plan on making this visit available to our readers to join us.

Vino Las Vegas stops by the Winery to Visit Winemaker Dan Tudor

We were in town for the World of Pinot Noir and decided to stop in on a few vineyards and winerys near San Luis Opispo. One stop was at the winery of Dan Tudor of Tudor and Radog wines. Tank sampling and Barrel tasting can really give you a good perspective on what the future holds for the winemaker. We had the opportunity to sample most of the Tudor and Radog line that is soon to be bottled. From what we tasted, you can expect some great things from Dan Tudor's 2007 vintage. Join us as we walk the winery with Dan and and he talks with us about his wines.


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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Wine Trail Heads West to Pismo Beach for The World of Pinot Noir




Its that time of year once again to head west to Pismo Beach to spend four great

days at the World of Pinot Noir. Each year the event is held at the Cliffs Resort in Shell Beach. This time March 7-9th 2008.


Some of the best Pinot Noirs in the
World all come together at this event. There are winery tours, Winemaker dinners, seminars and much more.



One of the many highlights is the " Tasting by the Sea " where you can sample world class Pinot Noirs as you overlook the Pacific
Ocean. This year Vino Las Vegas LLC has been given access to many events. For those of you who wont be able to attend , you wont miss a thing. Vino Las Vegas will be there with Video interviews with winemakers , vineyard owners and chefs and will also take you along as we explore some of the nearby wineries. We hope to see some of you there. Cheers and lets enjoy some great Pinots together.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Vino Las Vegas and Winemaker Dan Tudor visit Lotus of Siam





We have visited Lotus of Siam on many occasions. In fact, we try to find reasons to go as often as we can.
When winemaker Dan Tudor wanted Thai Food there was only one place to go,
Lotus of Siam. This little restaurant has earned many international, national and local awards. Vino Las Vegas LLC did a review of Lotus of Siam in our Nov 8th 2007 issue.

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We started off by ordering German Riesling Flights and sticky rice. Dan brought along
barrel samples of his yet to be bottled 2007 Riesling and Gewurztraminer. This provided us with an excellent chance to compare Dan's wines side by side with a flight of some well known
German Rieslings. Next up was the Spicy Thai Beef salad that paired great with all of these wines. We ordered a crispy duck dish and paired it with Dan's Radog Pinot Noir. As we suspected , this was another excellent pairing.
The Owner came buy and joined us in tasting the bottle samples Dan brought as well as the Pinot Noir. We were not done yet. The owner treated us with Graf Von Shonborn Riesling Bacchus 2000 . This was an excellent way to finish another incredible meal at Lotus of Siam. If you enjoy authentic Thai food Lotus of Siam is for you. Stop by and enjoy lunch or dinner reservations are highly suggested a few days ahead.

Elaine of Vino Las Vegas speaks with Winemaker Dan Tudor

It is always a pleasure to sit down with a winemaker and talk to them about their background, style and future plans. Dan Tudor is one of the premier Pinot Noir winemakers in Monterey County and produces wine under the Radog and Tudor labels.

After pouring his wines at Marche Bacchus , Dan enjoyed some lunch and spoke with Elaine of Vino Las Vegas LLC.
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Wine Makers Dan Tudor and Stillman Brown team up to show their wines at Marche Bacchus


Marche Bacchus has wine tastings every Saturday
from 11:30 to 1:00pm. Owner Jeff Wyatt has done
a great job surprising us every Saturday with some great wines. This Saturday was alot of fun for us. Two winemakers that were in town for the
Rock n Roll event on Friday night joined us at Marche Bacchus to pour their wines and enjoy some of great food.




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Winemaker Stillman Brown of Red Zeppelin wines and Dan Tudor of Tudor and Radog wines poured several of their wines at Marche Bacchus. Stillman poured his 2006 Chardonnay and his Black Zeppelin Syrah. Dan Tudor was right next to Stillman and poured his Radog Rose of Pinot Noir , Radog Pinot Noir, Tudor Pinot Noir and his new Barrel Select Tudor Pinot Noir. All of these wines were very well received by everyone who stopped by. It is not often you can sample wines from two great winemakers standing side by side. Both are known for their high quality wines and their very distinctive styles.

Lunch as always was great. Owner Jeff Wyatt stopped by and joined Stillman , Dan and our group for some wine and great conversation. We try to attend these events most every Saturday when are are not on the road. The weather is getting better and we could not think of a better place to enjoy a Saturday afternoon.

Rock n Roll Wine Rocks in to Studio 54 at the MGM Grand

Every time we attend a Rock n Roll wine event it just keeps
getting better and better. This event
was no exception














Studio 54 was a great venue for an event like
this. With two floors of wine , music and food it was an event that

we will remember. More than 50 wines from over 15 vineyards were spread around the two floors and the VIP lounge. FIAMMA
Trattoria and Bar
provided Braised Short Rib Ravioli with Black

Truffle butter and Barbera wine reduction for our enjoyment as well.




The music portion of the show was led off by Guitarist Jerremy

Cornwell. The highlight was when headliner and Grammy Award winning artist Pat Monahan took the stage for a special set. As many of you may know Pat is the lead singer of his group Train and has had such hits as "Calling all Angels" and " Meet Virginia".






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We had the opportunity to speak with Winemaker Dan Tudor of Tudor and Radog wines as well as Stillman Brown winemaker of Red Zeppelin Wines. Rock n Roll wines also has a VIP tasting lounge and we always try to make our way over there. This time we had the pleasant surprise of meeting another great winemaker from Santa Ynez who has pouring his wines in the VIP lounge. Winemaker Ross Rankin sat down with us as we sampled his Imagine Wines. His 2006 "Pearl "Viognier was very crisp and refreshing. We also enjoyed his 2004 Paradise Mountain Syrah and his Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir. We travel quite a bit in this area and have enjoyed many Pinots and Syrahs. Ross has done a great job with these two wines and has captured the true essence of this part of Santa Barbara County.


Chris and the gang has done it once again ! We we can't wait to see what they come up with next !




Elaine and Scott

Elaine and Scott
Elaine and Scott