Whole Foods Market and RAOs celebrates the launch of RAOs wines with a winemaker dinner

Whole Foods Market has changed the way many Americans live by providing fresh organic , sustainable food and many other products.

Founded in Austin Texas in 1980, Whole foods today can be found in 38 states and the UK with over 280 stores. In addition , Whole Foods has been named by FORTUNE magazine as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” in America every year since the list’s inception 12 years ago, ranking number 22 in 2009.

Whole Foods is always "out in front " providing many different events for their customers. On any given day one can stroll through their local store and have the opportunity to sample , cheeses , salsa , beer , wine and many of the other products they provide. We have been to many winemaker dinners over the years but never have we attended a winemaker dinner in a "market " until now.

We have met Susan and Robert Summer from The Vineyard at Strawberry Ridge in the past. They have provided their wines to the famous Rao’s restaurants in New York and Las Vegas and on this occasion a launch of their wines in Whole Foods Market. Their wines are hand crafted and are sourced from prime estates in Napa and Sonoma County.
Frank Pellegrino Jr from the legendary Pellegrino family of RAOs was on hand as well to give the guests at this winemaker dinner a real exploration of these great wines.

The staff at Whole Foods market has always been very helpful but little did we know that many of them are so very talented. At this one of a kind dinner at the Whole Foods Market in Summerlin just outside of Las Vegas we discovered many hidden talents. Some of the team members are Chefs , Wine Experts and renowned Opera singers. The staff put all of their skills together to provide the guests with a wonderful evening.

Robert Summer explained how he and the Pellegrino family have worked very closely to provide high quality wines with the RAOs label to their very famous restaurants. He even surprised many of us with a barrel sample of his latest wine to take on the RAOs label , the 2009 Pinot Grigio.


Cesar Salad ,
crisp romaine with a creamy dressing topped with shaved Parmesano Reggiano

Artichoke Pesto Crostini ,
baby artichoke hearts , shallots , olive oil , Italian parsley and Parmesano Reggiano

RAOs 2007 Napa Valley Chardonnay


Grilled Rosemary Lamb Italian Sausage
with tender asparagus


Parmesan Fettuccine
served two ways-choice of creamy alfredo with black pepper
RAOs signature Marinara

RAOs 2007 Napa Valley Merlot



Espresso chocolate covered almonds , shaved
chocolate and masscapone mousse

The wine parings were right on , with each wine paring nicely with each course. The last paring was the most interesting and provided a good contrast in flavors with the last course.

Robert Summer and Frank Pellegrino Jr were always gracious and provided the guests insight into the winemakeing and and an intimate look at RAOs and their own wine label. The team members of Whole Foods provided a real first class dining experience and for a few hours that evening got to show off many of their passions .

Join Elaine from VINO LAS VEGAS as she speaks with Whole Foods Market Speciality Manager Robert Davies about the RAOs wine and the Whole Food Market philosophy.

Champagne maker Jean-Christophe Gremillet brings the best of Champagne to Garfields Restaurant

The Gremillet family has been winegrowers for several generations and in 1979 decided to create Their own Champagne. The estate composed of 33 hectares of vineyards is situated in a small village 45 kilometers from Troyes, the historic capital of Champagne, 180 kilometers south of Paris.

The vines from which their Champagne is produced lie on steep, sun-drenched hillsides and interestingly enough, one out of every 1000 bottles of Champagne sold in the World was produced in their cellars.

This amazeing family produces a wide variety of Champagnes. On this very special night we had the opportunity to enjoy two of these historic Champagnes.

The Greediness

The Blend : 100% Pinot Noir.

In the Glass : A genuine rosé with a pretty, deep pink, sun-drenched hue. Bright, luminous and limpid with fine, colorful, lively bubbles.
The Nose : The nose surprised us with a nice blend of freshly picked red fruit that moved into the palate .
The Palate : On the palate its is fruit came through and linger into the finish. The bubbles kept us entertained with a variety of fruit from cherry to blackberries and even strawberry with each sip.

We moved on to our next heavenly treat with their blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.


The Blend: 50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay.

In the Glass : This Champagne showed us a golden bright color with creamy bubbles.
On the Nose : Delicate aromas of earth and flowers give way to a slight mint and vegital notes.
On the Palate : The Champagne was rich and luscious with as nice marraige of flavors and structure..

Champagne is a very complicated process that requires allot of hard work and patience. Having Champagne maker Jean-Christophe Gremillet at our table provided us the perfect opportunity to learn first hand about "the life" of Champagne. J

This is best illustrated by the dormant state of the buds that do not show any form of growth during this period. The vines continue to feed on their stored nutriments and resist temperatures of -15 to -17°C. This is the time when they prune the vines which consists in cutting back the stems thus reducing the number of buds to produce less grapes and therefore better quality. As soon as the soil starts to warm up, the cellular activity starts to develop in the roots and the stems secrete moisture, thus the term ‘weeping’. This is the first visible sign that the vines are awakening from their winter rest to an active state.

This term refers to the gradual opening of the buds from which the shoots will develop and later the stems that produce the grapes.

The tiny flowers free their pollen that fertilizes the pistils from which the grapes will develop. This is known as the ‘setting’ of the vine.

The cells cease developing and the berries start to change from their bright green color to either black or pale green according to the grape variety. At this stage the berry will continue to swell and store nutritive elements. The colors deepen and the grapes develop their aroma and bouquet.

As soon as the grapes reach the stage where there is perfect balance between the level of acidity that continues to decrease and the level of sugar that continues to increase, the grapes are considered to have reached full maturity and are ready to pick. The harvest can begin. This is only the first stage of the Champagne's life.

Join Jean-Christophe Gremillet as he explains the rest of the Champagne making process to Scott of Vino Las Vegas

Executive Chef Jean-David Groff-Daudet and Garfields Restaurant provide an intimate visit with one of the world's greatest brandies.

It is not often we get to sample perhaps one of the world's best Brandys . Executive Chef Jean-David Groff-Daudet , "Chef JD " invited VINO LAS VEGAS to an intimate lakeside tasting of ARMAGNAC-Joy at his restaurant Garfields.

Roland Gessler arrived from France and did not disappoint us . We started with the 1974 Vintage and worked our way back in time with the 1962 , 1940 , 1936 , 1912 , 1908 , 1900, and 1897 Bas Armagnac Millesime vintages and then for the finish , a taste of Bas Armagnac Exception that has been valued at $ 10,500 with only 36 bottles having been produced.

One of the finest producers of Armagnac, generations of the Gessler family have lived in the Bas-Armagnac region. The current generation, brothers Olivier and Roland Gessler have combined their love of Armagnac with their expertise and heritage to create the Joÿ collections. They have made some of the rarest brandies in the world.

Their Collection is a blend of the finest brandy produced over the last 200 years. The Vintages all from all of the appellations ( Haut Armagnac , Bas Armagnac and Tenareze ) and on the pallet one can tell that these brandys show off the entire region at its finest. The bottles themselves are a work of art deigned by Paco Rabanne consisting of hand blown crystal adorned with silver.

Armagnac is situated southeast of Bordeaux. It is distilled only once and has a lower alcohol strength normally about 53% where as Cognac is around 70%. The single distillation leaves more flavoring elements . Armagnac employs local black oak for aging allowing for faster ageing in the barrels. The result is that Armagnac is silky smooth but fuller-flavored than Cognac.

Vintages are to Armagnac what "grands crus" are to the finest wines. The difference being that wine continues to age in the bottle. Armagnac ceases to age once bottled , thereby preserving its qualities intact. The secret is knowing when to capture its unique flavor and Joy Armagnacs do this better than most any other producer in the region.

GARFIELD's at Lake Jacqueline at the Desert Shores.

Garfield's is named in honor of Sir Garfield Sobers, Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II on the playing fields of Barbados in 1975. Sir Garfield is considered the greatest all-around Cricket player of all time. Garfield's is a lakefront, casual dining restaurant that provides healthy dining that we always enjoy.

Executive Chef Jean-David Groff-Daudet, "Chef JD" has brought his years of experience from France to this wonderful lakeside venue.

Oliver and Rolland Gessler are now the heirs of this legendary collection. Their love of the region and training have continued to spur them on to continue to make the regions finest product. This Armagnac ranks among the worlds greatest brandies. Naming it JOY after their wine estate shows to us and the rest of the world their commitment to quality.

Bravo Chef Jean-David Groff-Daudet and Rolland Gessler for very special evening . For more on JOY Grands Armagnacs , please visit www.Armagnac-Joy.com

Court of Master Sommeliers Hosts First National Conference

The Court of Master Sommeliers, American Chapter held its first National Conference at The Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach, California, bringing together the largest group of Master Sommeliers in the history of the organization. The conference served as an occasion for Court members to gather, share ideas, and establish goals for the organization’s future. It also allowed each attendee the opportunity to bring and share a favorite bottle of wine – creating an extraordinary collection that was well‐enjoyed by the group during the three day event.

“I am so proud to have had the opportunity to join my fellow Master Sommeliers for the Court’s first National Conference,” stated Jay Fletcher, Chairman of the American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers. “The conference solidified the Court as a cohesive group of wine professionals and gave us a platform to discuss and demonstrate ways in which we can work to
support one another and our vocation.”

During the event, 72 Court members participated in wine tastings, food pairings, membership meetings, and various informational seminars. A special presentation, dinner, and tasting by Wine Australia allowed conference attendees the rare opportunity to taste Seppeltsfield Tawnies from 1908, 1953, and 1977, as well as a 1935 Seppeltsfield brandy. The 1953 and 1977 vintages were specifically drawn from their casks for the event to commemorate the years the Guild of Sommeliers and the Court of Master Sommeliers were each founded. They will not be available to the public until 2053 and 2077, respectively.

“We are very lucky to have such a diverse membership,” said Fred Dame, the Chairman Emeritus of American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers and current President of the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation. “Each Master follows a distinctive path to become an MS and therefore brings a fresh and valuable voice to the organization. We were able to celebrate and enjoy that diversity together this past week.”

The decision by the Court’s American Chapter to assemble its members for the first time was driven in part by the significant growth experienced by the organization in recent years. Though the path to become a Master Sommelier is as difficult and time consuming as it was in 1977, the Court’s growing numbers in all parts of the country have helped usher in new candidates from
wildly different backgrounds and experiences. The Court’s objectives for the coming year include continuing on this path and bringing its educational programs to still more new audiences.

The Court of Master Sommeliers was established in England in 1977 to encourage improved standards of beverage knowledge and service in hotels and restaurants. The first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam to be held in the United States was in 1987. The title Master Sommelier marks the highest recognition of wine and spirits knowledge, beverage service abilities, and professionalism in the hospitality trade. Education was then, and remains
today, the Court’s charter. There are four stages involved in attaining the top qualifications of Master Sommelier: 1) Introductory Sommelier Course; 2) Certified Sommelier Exam; 3) Advanced Sommelier Course; and 4) Master Sommelier Diploma.

There are 103 professionals who have earned the title Master Sommelier in North America. Of those, 89 are men and 14 are women. There are 168 professionals worldwide who have received the title of Master Sommelier since the first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam.

Bledsoe Family Winery Opens Its Walla Walla Winery At The Box Factory Location.

Not long-ago Drew Bledsoe was throwing touchdowns in the NFL. Shortly after his retirement in 2007,  they planted their first vineyard. ...

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