Category Archives: Wine

Music at La Belle Amie Vineyard

Live Music @ The Vineyard

Wine Wednesday and Festival Saturday!

Noon - 6 pm Little River, SC

What a lot of rain! And more to come. So keep your eye on the weather for this weeks events. Upcoming is Wine Wednesday and this Saturday is theIndependence Music Blast. The music will be flowing as well as the wine, and the grill will be smoking hot. So mark your calendars for a visit to the vineyard Cheers! Vicki. MUSIC BY: July 3, Wednesday (12:30 – 4:30pm) - Joan Burton July 6, Saturday (12:00 – 5:00pm) - Latitude and The Stardusters ADMISSION : Wednesday - no admission. ADMISSION : Saturday - $8/person (under age 18 or over 80 always admitted at no charge.) FOOD - Wednesday:Vineyard Grill - hot dogs, burgers, cheese & fruit trays, chips and snacks. FOOD - Saturday: Smokin' Pitt BBQ. Sorry, No Food, Beverages or Pets Allowed. Tele: 843-399-WINE (9463) for questions. Or, www.LaBelleAmie.com SPONSORED BY: Anderson Bros. Bank, and EASY Radio 105.9FM GPS ADDRESS: 1120 St. Joseph Road, Little River, SC 29566 REGULAR SHOP HOURS : Mon - Sat 10am - 6pm. Closed Sundays.

SPRING SWING/BIG BAND FEST

signSaturday, March 9, Noon - 5 pm Little River, SC It's an afternoon of big band music at its finest. Enjoy outstanding live music, wine sampling, outdoor cooking, and more.... Plus, famous hot spiced wine and the beauty of the vineyard. Engage the owner on an entertaining and informative vineyard tour (2:30). Browse the great gift shop. trellis MUSIC (12:30 – 4:30pm) The Andrew Thielen Big Band ADMISSION : $10/person. (under 18 or over 80 admitted free) Bring two canned/dry good items for area food banks and receive $3 off admission. Food From Smokin’ Pitt BBQ and Hunts Lexington Style Cooking BEVERAGES (Water, Soda, Beer, & Wine) VINEYARD LOCATION: Hwy 90 & St. Joseph Road GPS ADDRESS: 1120 St. Joseph Road, Little River, SC 29566 REGULAR SHOP HOURS : Mon - Sat 10am - 6pm. Closed Sundays.DSC_0071

Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf

The pinot grape is the focus of the Willamette Valley of Oregon, and thus the feature of the Willamette Valley Vineyards recent wine dinner hosted by Greg Norman’s Australian Grille in North Myrtle Beach, SC. The Pinot Noir is a black skinned fruit, typically associated with the Burgundy region of France, and grown in the cool climates of California’s Sonoma Valley and Oregon which is at the same latitude and with similar climate as Burgundy. The Pinot Gris, a white wine made from the gray-skinned fruit, is sometimes referred to as the child of Pinot Noir. It’s the same as the popular Pinot Grigio if Italian. The Willamette Valley Vineyard produces 60 wines, all from the valley’s locally grown fruit, and all are Oregon certified sustainable wines. Jim Bernau, a sixth generation Oregonian, began with the winery in 1983 and in 2011 was awarded the first-ever recognition as Hero of Salmon for the implementation of the high-impact Salmon Safe Sip Save campaign. The vineyard has been a pioneer in moving the Oregon vineyard industry toward greater ecological sustainability in helping to restore the salmon watersheds so that native salmon can spawn and thrive. The first lesson delivered by Mandi Silver, the vineyard’s eastern regional sales manager, was the pronunciation which is Will-am’ette with the emphasis on the am syllable to rhyme with damit. The dinner opened with Chef Jeff Edwards' samplings of fried artichoke hearts with a spicy dip, pulled duck on flat bread and crab in buttery crust.   The appetizer course was perfectly paired with the chilled Willamette Valley Vineyards Riesling 2009 which is a semi-sweet medium bodied German-style wine. Guests were seated for the second course of Crepe of Forest Mushrooms a La Normande which was paired with chilled Pinot Gris 2009. The third course was Salmon with Marionberry Glaze served with Willamette Valley Vineyards Cluster Pinot Noir 2010. This versatile light fruity wine was described as “liquid fruit salad in a glass.” The marionberry, a hybrid blackberry grown only in Oregon and named for Marion County in the Willamette Valley, was hand delivered directly from its source as another distinctive highlight of this dinner. Venison Meatloaf with Winter Squash Puree and Celery Root Au Jus was paired with the Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir 2008. This rich and refined wine scored 90 points in the Wine and Spirits February 2011 issue, and the winery was named the magazine’s 2011 Winery of the Year as well as the Wine Press Northwest Oregon Winery of the Year. The Estate Pinot Noir 2008 was the elegant pairing with the Herbed Elk Medallion with Strawberry Fig. This lively spicy wine was selected from the few remaining cases of a small production. Finally, dessert of Curried Mango, Pineapple Upside Down Cake with served with Willamette Valley Vineyards Gewurztraminer 2007, an explosively sweet and intense chilled wine from the limited production of only 58 cases. Six courses including such features as duck, crab, salmon, venison and elk, each with unique presentation, added up to more than your mother’s meatloaf dinner. Greg Norman’s Australian Grille is frequently recognized among the best fine dining establishments in the Myrtle Beach area and received the Wine Spectator magazine Award of Excellence in 2011. The restaurant is celebrating its twelfth anniversary with a continuing series of monthly wine dinners and additional tasting events. Whether a connoisseur of fine wines or a novice sipper, meat and potato lovers and persnickety diners alike can easily select a favorite wine or an exotic entrée created by the award-winning culinary staff.

Tasting Wine and Chocolate

Toni Incorvaia, owner of Noni Bacca Winery

Wilmington Wine and Chocolate Festival welcomes tasters to NC Feb. 3-5 at the Coastline Event Center. Connoisseurs can sip, nibble and sigh as they sample delectable delights from more than 60 superb regional wineries, chocolatiers and artisans. A Friday night Grand Tasting gala kicks off the event with live music and heavy hors d’oeuvres by Lawler Catering. Charlotte-based recording artists The Brubakers will entertain with contemporary jazz while wine and chocolate purveyors tantalize with tastings and samples. On Saturday and Sunday, the wine and chocolate showcase features fine vintners, chocolatiers and artists in a casual atmosphere. Products will be available for sampling and for sale. Demonstrations by food and drink experts will educate as roaming musicians entertain in a marketplace setting. Festival proceeds benefit the New Hanover County Senior Center’s programs. Showcase admission is $12 in advance/$15 at the door (tickets good for one-day admission). Grand Tasting tickets cost $40 in advance/$45 at the door, based on availability. For festival details and ticket information, visit www.wilmingtonwineandchocolatefestival.com, email wineandchocfest@gmail.com, or call 910-742.0120. Tickets are also available at Wilmington-area Harris Teeter stores. Discount coupons for visitors attending the Wilmington Wine & Chocolate Festival and the Wilmington Garden Show will be available at both events.

Wine Winners

Lu Mil Vineyard’s Harmony Hall won Silver in the white varietal category and Sir Walter Raleigh won Gold in the red varietal category at the recent 2011 Tasters Guild International Wine Judging Competition.These wines are made of muscadine grapes that are grown in the heart of Bladen County. Lu Mil Vineyard is located between Fayetteville and Wilmington just off Hwy 87 in Dublin, NC. Check it out for free wine tastings, a deli and a beautiful place to kick back and relax.

Blueberries with Art

Sunset River Marketplace art gallery is hosting a wine tasting and silent auction at the unveiling of the original label artwork for the Limited Edition 2011 Blueberry Wine produced by Carolinas Vintage. The free event is February 26 from 7 to 9 pm. The six special limited edition bottles represent six coastal North Carolina locations: Calabash, Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, Oak Island and Southport. The original paintings to be auctioned are by Roger Tatum, Brenda Behr, Linda Platt and Sue Ernest. Carolinas Vintage produces only blueberry wine, a recipe which was created some 50 years ago at the Bullard Farm in Cerro Gordo, N.C. Hans Schreus, CEO and wine master, who is the son-in-law of the originator of the wine describes the ruby color, clarity and nose of the wine as a light-bodied, delicious red table wine. The family-owned business works to keep up with an increasing consumer demand for the unusual wine. The art for these limited edition wine bottles includes a gorgeous harbor scene of a shrimper, a native wildlife image and four other paintings representing the area and creating labels for mementos and collectibles. Ginny Lassiter, owner the gallery, said, “When Hans first contacted me about working with him on a series of art labels, I was intrigued by the idea of blueberry wine, but had no idea of just how enjoyable it is. I’m thrilled to be involved in selecting art for these limited edition wine bottles." Sunset River Marketplace is known for its extensive and eclectic collection of artwork in virtually every genre and style. The 10,000-square foot gallery also includes a newly expanded pottery studio and art classroom, as well as a full-service, on-site custom framing department. The gallery is located at 10283 Beach Drive SW in Calabash, NC.

Drinking Wente with the Winemaker

Karl D. Wente, the winemaker himself, charmed two dozen diners at Greg Norman’s Australian Grille in North Myrtle Beach at a recent wine dinner. We were sipping Riverbank Riesling, 2008, when Karl arrived at the table with a bottle of beer in hand. His second, which he explained with the traditional winemakers’ old saying:
It takes a lot of beer to make wine.
Winemakers are farmers spending long hot days in the field and a cold beer quenches the thirst. Of course he never tires of the taste of wine. After as much as a 10-hour day of continuous blending and tasting:
I went home and popped the cork on a bottle of wine to relax on my porch with my guitar.
“Palate fatigue is not a real phenomenon at all. Of course we can taste all day, and it requires a lot of that to achieve the best blend and try to see into the future of how it will age.” He's passionate about winemaking, with genuine pride of family achievement as well as young adventure in creating new blends and experimenting with technique. The country’s oldest continuously operated family-owned winery is known for its 125-year history and for its portfolio of fine wines created from some 3,000 acres of sustainable farmed Estate vineyards. Karl is 32, the fifth generation to farm the family vineyards in California’s Livermore Valley and Arroyo Seco, Monterrey. His first vintage at home was in 2002, although he had two earlier ones during his previous study and work. He is currently making wine with Annika Sorenstam, another fine mix of precision golf and fine wine such as the Greg Norman-designed course at Wente Vineyards.
I use the tools I have and make the best possible wine.
“No day is the same. There’s always a different season and a different vintage. We live with the cycles and stages of nature and take what the land gives. It’s the same land, but it gives a different product each year. We are more fortunate than in western Europe where sun and seasons affect the growing. We might not have the perfect rain pattern, but we can open a valve. When to irrigate is the single most important decision a farmer can make.” What is his favorite thing to be doing? I guess I expected an answer related to the winemaking we were discussing.
Skiing in steep deep powder in Squaw Valley with Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of the Holy” blasting through head phones.

Karl E.Wente (l) Peter Dombrowski

Peter Dombrowski, the restaurant’s director of operations, Chef Greg Sandford and Chef Jeff Edwards were showered with praise for the scenic deck seating along the waterway as well as for their creative menu and inventive pairings.

Chef Jeff Edwards (l) Chef Greg Sandford

The seven courses wowed the diners as much as did the wine and the intimate gathering offering conversation with the winemaker. Both chefs referred to the duck breast as their personal favorites. As the fifth course, it was prepared Hungarian smoked paprika dusted with a Tellicherry pepper potato mousse and cherry vanilla compote. This course was paired with the subtle sophisticated Murrieta’s Well Red Meritage, Livermore Valley, 2005. One diner preferred the third courses of pan seared jumbo diver scallop, crabmeat, asparagus and lemongrass, ginger scented Hollandaise sauce. It was paired with a Louis Mel Sauvignon Blanc, 2008, with a crisp acidity and clean refreshing finish. Another raved about the fourth course of Escalope of salmon served with puff pastry and creamed leeks Dijonaise. This was perfectly paired with Riva Ranch Chardonnay, 2008, a medium-bodied wine with rich golden color and subtle oak barrel aging. Lovers of beef and big reds favored the sixth course of Greg Norman Premium sirloin Carbonara and fresh English peas which was paired with the Shorthorn Canyon Syrah, 2007. A few guests closed the evening with casual travel plans to Wente Vineyards for another big helping of a fine restaurant, wine tasting, golf and entertainment.

Tasting History and Health with Wine

The first Bacchus Festival at Hyman Vineyards is scheduled for October 8 and 9, 2010, offering music, food, crafts, and tastings of handcrafted muscadine wine in a celebration of viticulture. Visitors can learn about the art of wine blending and see a winemaking demo. The adventurous can do some grape stomping and enter the Lucy-Look-Alike contest. Our recent research visit to Hyman Vineyards turned out to be a lot of interesting tasting along with some education. It was before lunch, but we persevered! Greg Hyman's vineyards, tasting room, country store, and vineyard homesites will soon be discovered by groups thirsty for a look at the land as well as the wine production. Just five miles out of downtown Conway, Greg's refurbished tobacco barn is the site of a good bit of history. He's an exceptional and knowledgeable speaker on South Carolina agriculture and its changes over the years. Also, his research begun 12 years ago with partner Dr. Bob Bibb has produced extensive information on the health effects of the grape -- the muscadine -- called the super fruit. Wow! Who knew? One of only two muscadine estate vineyards in South Carolina, this visit also delivers the perfect view of grape growing and the bottled product of these vines. The wine can be purchased in Boulineau' s in Cherry Grove or in 25 different Piggy Wiggly stores. The experience can only be found in the vineyard itself with tours and tastings offered Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 12 Noon until 6 pm. Tasting is $5 per person and includes a souvenir glass. Tours are $5 per person with a group of five. Let us know if you need help finding this spot or planning a group tour which could even include lunch and an educational program. Taste the experience at Hyman Vineyards, whether you love learning about the farming and winemaking or to get a look at typical South Carolina countryside just minutes from Myrtle Beach. Here's a quick tour along with an introduction to Greg and his wife Rhonda with the new kittens who decided to live here:
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Duck Fat Salute to Indian Summer

The best halibut I've ever eaten! You should have been here! It was a memorable evening with fine wine, perfect food pairings, a lively group of  guests discussing some swinging resorts and plenty of duck fat! Greg Norman’s Australian Grille in North Myrtle Beach delivered a big WOW with the predominantly California wines from Majestic Fine Wines and Chef Jeff Edwards’ presentation of a six-course menu. Most of us could not eat all of that food or drink all of the six wine choices, but we gave it our best shot.

Chef Jeff Edwards

Leah Carlto

Leah Carlton, Majestic’s Carolina region sales manager, introduced each wine and discussed the Kendall -Jackson company and its heritage.  The company was begun in 1982. Its founder Jess Jackson, now age 80, his wife and family continue to run the daily operations of the winemaking. As one of the largest landowners in California, the company grows their fruit on some 14,000 acres of coastal vineyards. The evening opened with Tuna Tartare spiked with mango, avocado and crispy wontons served with Kendall-Jackson Grand reserve Pinot Gris 2008. The rich bright wine is made with a touch of Chardonnay, Muscat, Viognier, White Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Roussanne in addition to the primary Pinot Gris and fermented in French oak barrels. Only two thousand cases were produced. Diners loved this course and the reasonably-priced wine served in the Shark Pub with its spectacular view of the Intracoastal Waterway. The second course of Roasted Acorn Squash was thick, rich and a huge hit paired with Freemark Abbey Chardonnay 2009. Among the group’s Chardonnay fans were our new friends Rob and Suzanne Cure, West Virginia residents who frequent these and other fine wine dinners during their regular visits to the Myrtle Beach area. They were immediately pleased with the subtle oak flavor of this wine. Wondering about the duck fat? The third course of Poached Halibut took honors at the end of the evening as everyone’s favorite course. Cooked in the style of Gascony on a Butternut Squash Gallett and Pomegranate Essence, the dish was so outrageously good it demanded the chef’s explanation.  The Gascony region of southwest France is famous for its ducks and geese products such as pates, preserves and foie gras. The real secret to this favorite dish: it’s cooked in duck fat. Now you know. Also, the Chardonnay lovers were thrilled with the creamy, viscous Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2008, tasting of its eight-month fermentation in French oak. Next came the Bone-in Roasted Veal New York Sirloin with a Carrot Celeriac Hash. Meat lovers were happy with the big veal dish. Red wine aficionados were excited by the Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. Nothing can describe this Napa fruit flavor more than the velvety smooth mouth feel. The fifth course was Seared Bison Strip Loin. A few guests commented that they were not big eaters of red meat, although they preferred the red wines with anything. We love bison on a regular basis, a bit pricey and not always in a regular grocery but low fat in comparison to other red meats. The meat lovers licked the plate clean on this big course. The wine was an intense concentrated Yangarra Estate Shiraz 2007, nicely complimenting the bison. This wine is produced from grapes of a single vineyard located in South Australia. The grand finale was the Black Forest Tart, a fat chocolate cherry treat, served with Cambria Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008. All of the rich fruits and earthy flavor lead to a silky taste well suited to dessert. Duck fat was not the only attraction, but we would go back for it any day!

Lowcountry Labels Making Me Thirsty

Island Winery on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, offers a nice tasting experience which is quite a treat for visitors to this resort destination. The area is well known for golf, tennis, water sports and delicious fresh seafood served with a slice of southern sunshine, and now wine lovers have local choices. I’ve sampled some good flavors to discuss soon. First, I’m studying their creative labels. Being a professed beach lover myself, I can appreciate the coastal theme on their labels. Swaying palm trees and water views entice me to find that island where the wine is chilled just right. Their artists are located in several different states and Canada, with the primary one being Christina Atchison who currently lives in California. Her Pinot Grigio label is like a watercolor of the actual coast on a perfect crisp spring day, so it really makes me thirsty. The Lowcountry Specialty line features local fruit flavors, and while light fruit such as peach or apple does not usually interest me in a wine flavor these labels appropriately showcase the fresh bright wines such as this Peach Chardonnay. Christina’s label for the big red Tempranillo also incorporates palm trees and water but gives the impression of dark sky – maybe even a storm approaching – so that it subtly delivers the message announcing its bold contents.  The Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese labels are the same dark beach scene. I cannot wait to taste all of these. One of my favorites and most representative of the South Carolina Lowcountry is the Southern Passion Wine label by Arianne King Comer. I’m not sure I’m interested in drinking this, but the beautiful label attracts me. I have met and seen much work of the famous batik artist who has relocated to Charleston from Beaufort which is the true heart of the Lowcountry and home to many noted folk artists. Well, ok, I’ll probably taste this Sangria-type blush. While I wouldn’t ordinarily consider drinking port, I really want to sample it when I look at the Chocolate Orange Port label which is quite appealing with chocolate and orange palms, water and sky. Now take a look and tell me – who doesn’t love a combination of chocolate and orange when it looks so luscious and inviting! This label is by Ken Batelman, a freelancer, author and teacher with a studio in Pennsylvania. Labels for the Margarita, the Cranberry and the Apple Cinnamon are by Laura Johnston, who works in Canada. These are a bit more whimsical and showcasing fruit rather than the beach, yet they are bright and lively with a distinct lure to tangy fresh tastes. Loren and Georgene Mortimer opened their winery on Hilton Head in 2006, bringing with them success in producing award-winning wines since 2002 at their Westfall Winery in Montague, New Jersey, as well as Georgene’s Italian heritage of family winemaking. Check back soon for more tasting comments, or let me know your thoughts. Are you in the neighborhood of a winery or a wine tasting?