Join Cuisineist Editor-in-Chief Elaine Harris and Sunset Magazine Editors at SAVOR the Central Coast 2011

 Join Sunset Editors  and Vino Las Vegas  on Cultural and Adventure Tours at Sunset SAVOR the Central Coast 2011 and Experience California’s Central Coast Like Never Before

Elaine Harris , Editor-In-Chief , Cuisineist

Tickets for the West’s newest food and wine destination mega-event are going fast

Riding high on the phenomenal success of last year’s first-ever Sunset SAVOR the Central Coast, event organizers Sunset magazine ( and the San Luis Obispo County Visitors and Conference Bureau ( have expanded opportunities for visitors to experience the quintessential California lifestyle at this destination food and wine event taking place September 29 through October 2, 2011.

“Not only is the Central Coast on the front edge of the farm-to-table movement, but it’s also a stunningly beautiful region to explore,” said Katie Tamony, editor-in-chief of Sunset. “We wanted to match unique cultural and adventure experiences to the food and drink that are getting the region so much attention.”

Among such experiences are new “Adventure Tours” that bring visitors up-close and personal with San Luis Obispo County’s natural and historic attractions, punctuated by a gourmet lunch to enhance the beauty of the surroundings. All Adventure Tours will take place Friday, September 30, from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M. and cost $50 per person. Examples include:

  • A tour and lunch at the Happy Acres Family Farm ( with Sunset Food Editor, Margo True. This small, artisan dairy in the rolling hills of Templeton nurtures over 200 goats and uses their all-natural, hormone-free milk to produce a line of high-end cheeses, ice creams, lotions, and soap. This will be a hands-on tour with opportunities to milk the goats and make cheeses. After the tour, enjoy the breathtaking countryside while savoring a beautifully prepared luncheon along with select wines from Wild Horse Winery.
  • A kayak and paddleboard tour of the Morro Bay National Estuary with Sunset Publisher, Peter Medwid. The protected wetlands of the Morro Bay Estuary host one of the most remarkably rich wildlife habitats in California as a fish nursery, an important stopover on the Pacific Flyway for numerous bird species, and a marine protected area. Experienced guides will set a relaxing pace to glide along quiet waters and enjoy the great outdoors, followed by a sumptuous oyster luncheon overlooking the bay at Miss LoLa’s Southside Grill.
  • A gourmet lunch and coastline walk in Montaña de Oro State Park with Central Coast Outdoors Guide, John Flaherty. Montaña de Oro is among California’s greatest natural treasures, with over 8,000 acres of rugged cliffs, secluded sandy beaches, coastal plains, streams, canyons and hills. This tour will explore an area long beloved of naturalists for its solitude and raw beauty, and will culminate in a gourmet lunch paired with fine local wine at Spooner’s Cove.
  • A hike, tour and lunch at the Point San Luis Lighthouse ( with Sunset Associate Garden Editor, Julie Chai. To visit the fully-restored Point San Luis Light Station is to walk back in time to the 1890s when this beacon was the main protection for ships at sea from meeting with rugged cliffs. A four mile hike from Avila Beach along a private stretch of shoreline, the Point San Luis Lighthouse will provide knowledgeable docents to guide visitors through the property, after which wine, fresh local cuisine, and an unparalleled view of the Pacific Ocean will await in the old Horn House.

In addition, the 2011 Sunset Western Wine Awards Gala will take place during the SAVOR festivities on Friday evening, September 30 from 6 P.M. to 10 P.M., under a grand tent on the historic Pismo Beach Pier. Focusing solely on wines produced in the West, Sunset Western Wine Awards are recognized as the highest honor for Western winemakers. Attendees will join Sunset Wine Editor, Sara Schneider and Sunset Editor-In-Chief, Katie Tamony, as well as a professional panel of judges including wine writers, sommeliers, and winemakers as they announce the winners throughout the evening. For $85 per person, guests will partake in a locally-sourced gourmet dinner, sip the nominated and award-winning wines, and hob-nob with the West’s best winemakers.

For tickets or more information on Sunset SAVOR the Central Coast 2011 Adventure Tours or the Sunset Western Wine Awards Gala, please visit Tickets are also available for purchase at Farm Supply locations.  See you there !

Australia Completes Final Step in Protecting Wine PlACE Names

The latest news from our Down Under contacts tell Vino Las Vegas that on September 1 Australia will become the latest country to join the global movement in support of robust truth-in-labeling laws that protect consumers by requiring that wine growing place names are reserved exclusively for the regions where the wines come from.

“Most Australian wine producers stopped using Champagne and other wine growing place names many years ago,” says Sam Heitner, director of the Champagne Bureau in the United States. “Now Australian law will officially reserve ‘Champagne’ exclusively for wines from Champagne, France. Like the majority of countries in the world, Australia recognizes that when consumers buy a bottle of wine, they should be able to rely on the truthfulness of the bottle’s label.”

Winemaking regions around the world rely on their place name, or “Geographic Indication,” to differentiate themselves from other areas. Consumers also rely on those place names because when it comes to wine, there is no ingredient more important than location. The land, air, water, and weather where grapes are grown are a big part of what makes each wine unique.

“The United States remains one of the last countries that does not adequately protect the name of Champagne and other winemaking regions,” Heitner says. “Australia joins Europe, Mexico, India, China and numerous other countries in ensuring that wine labels make it clear: Champagne only comes from Champagne. On this issue, the United States is out of sync with the rest of the world. We need to strongly embrace truth-in-labeling to avoid misleading wine consumers.”

A loophole in U.S. law allows some winemakers to use the word “Champagne” on sparkling wines that do not come from Champagne, which can mislead consumers about the true origin of their wines. This practice is rejected by many winemakers in the United States – including many in Napa Valley, Oregon and Washington State. Most quality producers of sparkling wine in the United States compete very effectively both domestically and in the worldwide wine market using the term “sparkling wine” and proudly standing behind the location where their wines come from.

So the next time you purchase a Sparking Wine , Check the label !  you be be surprised where it came from

The Legendary Pierre Rovani visits WIRTZ Beverage and takes a Who’s Who of Las Vegas Sommeliers and Chefs on a Journey to Burgundy and Pierre’s Remoissent Wines.

WIRTZ Beverage Nevada is a beverage distributor centered in the culinary and wine epicenter of Las Vegas. Pierre-Antoine Rovani is no stranger to the world of wine and was Robert Parker's First Assistant and worked with Parker for 10 years .

 During that time, had responsibility for reviewing wines from Burgundy, the Loire, Alsace, Oregon, the Languedoc, Washington, State, South Africa, the Roussillon, Germany, Austria, New Zealand, and Champagne.
Pierre Rovani

 Rovani's reviews appeared in The Wine Advocate and The Wine Buyer's Guide. In our conversation before the tasting event he explained that Maison Remoissenet Pere et Fils,a small Beaune (Burgundy)-based negociant, was founded in 1877 and, through the years, had been continually managed by family members.

The firm had specialized in old vintages, primarily for export, and also owned a 2.5 hectare Beaune Premier Cru plot. Prior to its sale in 2005,the firm had been managed by Roland Remoisssenet.Today Pierre Rovani is President of Maison Remoissenet and travels the world speaking about Burgundy and his wines.

 A who's who of Sommeliers ,Chefs and GMs of many of the world’s finest dining venues assembled together at WIRTZ’s immaculate headquarters in Las Vegas to taste a hand selected tasting by Pierre Rovani of seven wines that in included two 1 er Cru and two Grand Cru wines from his estate in Burgundy.

He explained a grape will never continue to mature once picked and certainly won’t make an extraordinary wine by just adding years. As Pierre explained himself, it would be like using green, unripe tomatoes to make great marinara sauce, it just doesn’t make sense.

Of the Seven wines tasted, the White Burgundy wines were first and showcased several stand outs.The Remoissenet Bourgogne Chardonnay 2008,Remoissenet Puligny-Montrachet 2008,Remoissenet Merursault 1 er Cru Genevrieres 2006 and Remoissenet Batard Montrachet Grand Cru. They showed the classic nose and palate we would expect from Burgundy.We enjoy White Burgundy for their truthfulness in the fruit and winemaking.

They are  mostly made from Chardonnay with smaller plantings of t Aligoté. Many would agree that Burgundy's white Chardonnay-based wines rank amongst the world’s best wines. In contrast with fat, buttery and oaky New World Chardonnays, White Burgundies in general range from lean and crisp to rich but acidic.  The best ones offer good minerality, and those that spend time in oak generally show their wood as subtlely , not overly exaggerated.

 But now it was time to move on to the Red Burgundy and our palates were ready. There were three to taste and of course the 1 er  Remoissenet Beaune 1 er Cru Les Greves and Remoissenet Clos Vougeot Grand Cru truly stood out in every aspect from color, nose and taste. Cherry, spice, earth and smoke danced on our palates from these amazing world class wines from Remoissenet.

The French wine-growing region of Burgundy is legendary for both red Burgundy (Pinot Noir) and white Burgundy wines (Chardonnay). This renowned region lies on the eastern side of France and covers just over 100 miles. The dominating grape varietals grown in Burgundy are Pinot Noir (making Red Burgundy wines), Chardonnay (making White Burgundy wines) and Gamay (making Beaujolais).

The region’s moderate climate with warm summers and cold winters allow the high-maintenance Pinot Noir grape to grow very well. Red Burgundy wines are often on the pricier side.  White Burgundy is a Chardonnay and is known for signature, flavors of peaches and honey, crisp acidity and complex flavors that pair particularly well with seafood.

 WIRTZ Beverage is well known for their world class portfolio of wine, sprits and beer their products including the Remoissenet wines can be found in the finest restaurants in Las Vegas.

2011 Harvest Underway in Champagne , Harvesting buy hand gets started early

 Champagne’s 2011 harvest has commenced. The harvest of grapes from the carefully delineated plots of the Champagne region officially began on August 19, 2011.

The combination of an exceptionally early flowering, limited spring rainfall and many sunny days has led to one of the earliest harvests for Champagne since 1822. The three prominently planted grape varieties Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier – are now being hand-picked across the appellation located approximately 90 miles northeast of Paris. Weather conditions and forecasts are favorable for the next few days, with only a few thunderstorms on the horizon.

“The Champagne appellation is one of a kind, and the grapes being picked today are the only grapes that can be used to make Champagne,” says Sam Heitner, director of the Champagne Bureau in the United States. “As we celebrate another successful harvest from this unique region, we are reminded of the importance that location plays in every bottle of wine and renew our call on the United States to join the majority of the rest of the world in reserving the term Champagne only for wines made with grapes from this specific place.“

There are many sparkling wines made around the world, but the Champagne only comes from Champagne. In addition to allowing grapes to be grown only in a limited number of plots within the region and requiring harvest by hand, the Champagne appellation has strict regulations regarding all aspects of the cycle – from the planting of the vine through harvest, pressing and bottling – all designed to ensure quality for consumers. The grapes picked today will go into non-vintage wines that sit on the lees for at least eighteen months, reserve wines for future non-vintages or, if the producer deems this year’s harvest worthy, vintages that remain in the caves for at least three years.

“This year, the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), the region’s trade body, has raised the amount of grapes that can be harvested in a given area to 12,500 kilograms per hectare (kg/ha),” says Heitner. “They believe that this will keep Champagne on track to meet the growing demand. This is good news for Champagne enthusiasts everywhere, as more people will be able to enjoy real Champagne, which can only come from Champagne, France.”

For The Second Consecutive Year the MGM Grand receives most 2011 Wine Specatator Restaurant Wine List awards In The Country

MGM Grand in Las Vegas has been awarded  extraordinary number of wins for the 2011 Wine Spectator’s Restaurant Wine List Awards. For the second consecutive year, an astounding 11 MGM Grand restaurants including Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak, NOBHILL TAVERN by Michael Mina, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, SEABLUE, Diego, Pearl, Shibuya, Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House, Wolfgang Puck’s Bar & Grill and Fiamma Trattoria garnered awards, more than any other single property in the world.

Once again, Joël Robuchon Restaurant's wine program received top honors and “three glasses” with The Grand Award. In total, MGM Grand restaurants amassed an astonishing 19 glasses, maintaining the record for the most at a single property.

“For the last year, we have committed ourselves to maintaining our exemplary wine program,” Grand Director of Wine Brian Weitzman said. “Our team, which includes an impressive 14 sommeliers and 10 certified sake sommeliers—the most at any property in the country—continue to strive to offer the best service and experience for wine novices and experts, alike.”

To qualify for an award, each restaurant’s wine list must follow strict standards and provide an extensive amount of information, including vintages and appellations for all bottles and wines by the glass. Everything from complete producer names and correct spellings to overall presentation are considered. If they are selected, restaurants are granted one of three awards – The Grand Award (“three glasses”), The Best of Award of Excellence (“two glasses”) or the Award of Excellence (“one glass”).

Scott Sibella, President & COO of MGM Grand, said, “I am extremely proud of our wine program and team. We are honored that our dedication to excellence has been recognized.”

Known for its dedication to personalized, attentive wine service, MGM Grand caters to a variety of palates, occasions and budgets. Approximately 74,000 bottles of wine are housed within the walls of MGM Grand, representing 6,242 wine labels and 170 selections available by the glass.

The 27th Central Coast Wine Classic educates ,enlightens and celebrates the rebirth of a California Beach beach town

We have had the pleasure attending this long running educational weekend of excellence in the past.  

This year events of the Central Coast Wine Classic were centered on the small beach town called Avila Beach and for a very good reason.  This year’s event was not only a celebration of great wines and cuisine but also a rebirth of a town.
Archie McLaren Founder & Chairman
  We sipped some wine and met up with Central Coast Wine Classic Founder ,  all around renaissance man and  Avila Beach resident Archie McLaren. We started the conversation on a cloudless day overlooking the quaint town and pier of  Avila Beach.  Archie told us an amazing story starting with the destruction of a town by toxic waste to its rebirth over 10 years later into a lovely resort beach town.  Archie explained that in the late 1990s, Unocal began the cleanup of decades old oil seepage discovered years earlier from corroding pipes under the town, and which had caused a massive and toxic oil spill under the town.

Avila Beach , California
 Over 6,750 truckloads of contaminated material was sent to a Bakersfield Landfill, and replaced with clean Guadalupe Dunes sand. Many of the town's homes and businesses, including entire Front Street and Front Street Buildings, were razed as a result of the half mile wide excavation. After years of negotiation, Unocal agreed to a thirty million dollar settlement, which has been used to rebuild the town.

Today, new buildings, homes, businesses, modern walkways and sea motif walls and benches take their place. A Sea Life Center welcomes visitors to explore the local ocean inhabitants up close.

Archie added that his quaint town covers 1.3 square miles of land and is home to less than 1,000 people.  The beach itself is only about a half a mile long and is protected from northwesterly winds by Point San Luis. This creates a warmer climate than other beaches on the central coast, averaging temperatures in the 60s and 70s during summer months.  Avila Beach faces south and is protected from the prevailing northwesterly winds by Point San Luis. It is therefore usually warmer than the other beaches on the Central Coast. Most of Avila Beach is undeveloped, except for a few blocks adjacent to the beach with homes, hotels, and small businesses, and a few recently built upscale housing developments inland, near a golf course. The area is also well known for its hot springs, which are used for resort spas.
Front Street Avila Beach , California
What a better place to Experience the beauty and diversity of California's Central Coast than at the Twenty-Seventh Annual Central Coast Wine Classic.

 Net proceeds from the Wine Classic, the Central Coast Wine Classic Foundation funds specific projects for 501(c)3 non-profit corporations in San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County whose missions are in the Healing, Performing or Studio Arts. Over the past seven years the Foundation has conferred grants totaling $1,615,943 to 76 such non-profits. For 2011, the Wine Classic Foundation Board  chose the following beneficiaries: Avila Beach Civic Association, The Center for Nanomedicine in Santa Barbara, Coast Caregiver Resource Center in Santa Barbara, Friends of Hapitok in San Luis Obispo, Friends of the Atascadero Martin Polin Library, Friends of the Visual Arts & Design Academy in Santa Barbara, The Link Teens at Work Program in Atascadero & San Miguel, Loaves & Fishes in Paso Robles, North County Rape Crisis & Child Protection Center in Lompoc & Santa Maria, Northern Chumash Cultural Preservation Kinship in San Luis Obispo, Poetic Justice Project in Santa Maria, Santa Barbara Master Chorale, Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics, The Sexual Assault Recovery & Protection Program of SLO County in San Luis Obispo, United Cerebral Palsy in San Luis Obispo and Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care in Santa Barbara.
This year’s classic started Thursday with a Barrel tasting which gave early birds a chance to try yet to be released wines from many outstanding Californian wineries.  The most exclusive event was slated for the evening with the Dinner at Hearst Castle in San Simeon.  Here the true ambiance of a once glided aged was met with the fine wine and decadent dishes of Chef Roy Yamaguchi, D.K. Kodama and George Mavrothalassitis.  With the careful coordination of Chef James Sly, the dinner was a succulent success.  Encompassed by opulent surroundings, one could only imagine the night held a special magic with glorious food, fellowship of like minds, and of course, the wines. This event is the crème de la crème of the wine classic.  Also, on the night’s schedule was a wine classic Paulee Dinner.  Diners bring their own special bottle to share with their new and old friends.  The dinner was held on the grounds of the Avila Golf Resort and proved to be a great time enjoying bottles of many different varietals, and enjoying a delightful meal while overlooking the lovely Pacific Ocean.

With the great synergy of the first day, Friday was going to another amazing day at Avila beach Golf Resort.  If you had energy to spare after the incredible night at the Hearst Castle, Carissa Chappellet, was ready to take you biking along the scenic roadways and onto a delectable lunch. 
For those preferring to start the day with wine education, the Malbec wine symposium hosted by Educator and Author, Karen MacNeil, was the place to be.  True to being an articulate, stimulating speaker, Ms. MacNeil, provided the participating audience an abundance of wine knowledge and thought provoking ideas about the wine varietal, Malbec.
Karen MacNeil , Santiago Achaval , Elaine Harris
If Malbec was not enough to engage your palate at 9:30 in the morning then one could proceeded to the Maisons, Margues and Domaines Fine Wine Symposium in the afternoon.  You know that this is a great tasting, when you start a glass of Roederer Cristal. 

Hosted by Xavier Barlier, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, we were in a tasting paradise with many amazing wines from around the globe.  As the day was winding down, another wonderful event was on the sunset, with esteemed host, Karen MacNeil.  As the afternoon was lending itself to the descending sun, Ms. MacNeil again, enlightened us with the joys of Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Spakling Wine Discussion and Reception.  As we sipped our delightful sparkling wine, we were given the opportunity to embrace the goodness of classic sparklers, that only Karen MacNeil could describe so beautifully.
Elaine Harris , Cuisineist Editor-In-Chief
 As the evening rolled around, we were on the way to yet another culinary destination.  Since there were many wine dinners at restaurants and wineries throughout San Luis County, we were pleased to be heading off to the Edna Valley to the engaging Edna Valley Winery. 

The Edna Valley Winery has the most stunning view of the vineyard located in their charming tasting room.  With wide expansive windows surrounding the room, one feels like stepping into a verdant painting of lush green.  The dinner was again, a favorite among those who have attended in previous years. 
Edna Valley Vineyards
Each dish prepared with the “Presidents” in Mind.  As we entered the candle lit dining room, we were asked to identify the presidential image on each table to find our seating for the evening.  The dishes served were replicas of various white house commemorations, each paired with appropriately selected Edna Valley Wines. 

 Being days from the Nation’s Birthday, we were put into a patriotic and pleasing spirit, with perfectly paired dishes.  With our senses satiated, we were ready to head back for some rest, and onto another day of wine and wonders.

Wild Mexican Shrimp in Grilled Zucchini & Tomato Leek Salsa

Saturday is the big day for focusing on the reason for the Central Coast Wine Classic, The Wine and Lifestyle Auction, which provides funding grants for special projects for the San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara County non profits.
 The Auction highlights engaging the highest “bidders” for a plethora of outstanding donations, from exotic destinations, outstanding art, and fine wines. 

All the proceeds go to well deserving non- profit organizations in the healing, studio and performing arts.
  Being the 27th year, of this fine event, the sentiment and support are as vibrant as ever. The event lasts the much of day with spirited bidding ushering in the greatest price for an amazing cause.  Of course, there is entertainment in between bidding, along with a superb luncheon for auction attendees.
Elaine Harris , Cuisineist Editor-In-Chief
 Everyone went away with their appetites fulfilled, but their wallets a little lighter for such a great cause.  The day was one of great animation and good hearted well being; it really is the “heart” of the Central Coast Wine Classic.

Sunday continued to be another busy day for wine lovers, starting with a Chardonnay Terroir Symposium.  With many extraordinary wine makers from all over California, the panel was set to answer all questions as to the effect of Terroir upon the body and flavor of Chardonnay. 
 The wines were presented to the audience by our host, Master Sommelier Larry Stone, with great insights and humor.  As each wine was analyzed each participant had the opportunity to listen to the wine makers speak about this well know varietal and hear about their craft. 

Winemaker Dan Karlsen , Talbot Vineyards
Larry Stone , Master Sommelier
This indeed was another education in the art of wine making; transforming the humble Chardonnay grape into complex and delicious wine.

There was still more to enjoy, with a Reserve tasting of 50 California wines.  This was a time to walk around and sample some of the best wines while noshing on some small bites made from the local fresh fare featuring some of the local restaurants and hotels. This again was another successful year, with events that encompassed something for every wine and food lover. 
With the mind that the proceeds are helping to enrich the local community, everyone must mark their calendars for next years’ 28th Central Coast Wine Classic. This event is like none other that we have attended and perhaps the longest continuously held wine event in California that not only focus on wine but the lifestyle that comes with it all for a good cause.

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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