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The soul of Indian Soil Carefully Crafted into our Boutique wines
movies, then settle in for dinner at a restaurant on the property helmed by a known chef. No, this is not happening at a five-diamond resort. This is Sonoma’s Francis Ford Coppola Winery, and it is just one example of how the experience of wine tasting in Napa and Sonoma Valleys has transitioned from serious business to international tourist attraction.

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... Napa and Sonoma have long struggled to balance growth with the pioneer spirit that launched an industry.

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The history of wine in Napa and Sonoma dates back at least as far as 1823 when Father Junípero Serra established a mission in what is now downtown Sonoma and planted the first vineyards on mission land. On the other side of the Mayacamas mountain range which separates Napa and Sonoma, homesteader George Calvert Yount was the first to plant grapes in Napa in 1839. The Gold Rush, a phylloxera blight and Prohibition each took their toll on the area, but wine growing slowly re-emerged as a viable industry after World War II. Napa’s Mondavi family, credited with bringing awareness to the region’s wines in modern times, purchased the former Charles Krug Winery, while John Daniel, Jr. resuscitated Inglenook winery. But it was the Judgement of Paris in 1976 that first brought the region fame and respect. A blind, comparative tasting by European wine savants pitted California Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay against wines from France's Burgundy and Bordeaux. Napa’s Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon came out on top, shocking the wine world and transforming the perception of California’s new world wines from second class to top of the class. California had finally captured the wine world’s attention. The tourists soon followed.

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Dolcetto, a dark wine grape from northern Italy, is one of 17 minor varieties grown in the estate vineyards of Airfield Estates in Prosser, Washington. Last year, winemaker Marcus Miller produced 41 different wines.

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Airfield Estates owner, Marcus Miller, says the Dolcetto wine grape variety consistently produces high quality wines. Miller points out Dolcetto has a distinctive reddening on the leaf and requires heavy thinning in the late spring.

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Carlos Valencia racking barrels of 2014 Counoise at Airfield Estates in Prosser, Washington on May 4, 2015.

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Dancing Dragonfly Winery is passionate about great wine! Great wine starts with the grapes and the vineyard. While driving through the winery grounds, visitors see row after row of carefully groomed vines lining the roads and filling the trellises of the adjacent fields. Over the past five years, Dancing Dragonfly Winery has planted more than 30,000 vines, making it one of the largest vineyards in Wisconsin.

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A vineyard of this size is possible because of the introduction of cold-hardy wine grapes. Cold-climate viticulture is said to have begun in the 1970s on a dairy farm in the small town of Osceola, ten miles south of Dancing Dragonfly Winery. Elmer Swenson started a small-scale breeding program in search of cold-hardy wine and table grapes. He used the Concord grape as the foundation for his breeding program and crossed it with countless wine grapes from around the world.

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After years of cross-pollinating, Swenson created some of the first cold-climate grapes used in winemaking in the Midwest. Grape varieties such as St. Croix, Prairie Star, Edelweiss, and Brianna can take harsh Minnesota and Wisconsin winters and still produce excellent fruit. Knowing this, farmers from across the region began to plant the new cultivars and spread the news on the potential of cold-climate wine grapes.

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Before beach season draws to a close (the September 23rd Fall Equinox, not Labor Day, marks its proper conclusion), I want to address a global wine-related epidemic that hits its zenith in summer. Throughout July and August, I visited several white wine producing regions in Oregon, Germany, and Switzerland (the Swiss not only make wine, but I’d argue it’s better than their chocolate and more affordable than their watches). With each vintner visit, our discussion of their carefully crafted whites and demand for their latest vintages inevitably led to the following conclusion: Consumers are sucking them down long before they should be opened. In other words, we drink white wine too young.

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This deduction contradicts conventional wisdom. We’ve been taught the rule that the majority of whites should be consumed within a year or two of production, and that only sweet wines and expensive Old World expressions — the finest white Burgundy (chardonnay) in particular — truly deserve cellar time. During the summer, writers and retailers tout young, fresh wines as “porch pounders” and “poolside sippers,” employing reader hooks by comparing sauvignon blanc to a Harlequin beach read or pairing it to OMI’s catchy seasonal tune, "Cheerleader." While such descriptors seem innocuous and fun, and may be meant to demystify wine, they also perpetuate the “white wines are simple and best drunk young” stereotype that shapes consumer behavior and the cycle of the industry.

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A gift from Swiss winemaker Philippe Gex — he made me promise not to open it for at least four years.

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Chateau Ste Michelle Columbia Valley riesling is refreshing and aromatic with sweet lime and peach characteristics. It’s ST Corporation’s best bottle for you buck at around $14.

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Searching for a decent bottle of vino that won’t break the bank? Or maybe you’re looking for something special — the best for a special occasion or a refined palate. We’ve asked three wine distributors to tell us about what they carry as well as their best bottles of wines.

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ANZ Wines ANZ Wines distributes quality wines from Australia and New Zealand, including Wolf Blass, Yalumba, Matua and Nautilus. “We have been on Guam for the past 20 years, a small women-owned business, and I am a Kiwi!” Sarah Morrison says.

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