Couples Looking For An Exotic Wedding Ceremony Turn To Lions, Llamas And Elephants

Exotic animals are becoming the new must-have for couples seeking that unforgettable “wow” moment at their wedding. Because when dreaming of a perfect wedding, nothing says love quite like a spitting llama or a roaring lion.

But not everyone is keen on this new trend. These wild ceremonies can lead to logistical and legal issues, and animal rights groups stand firmly against the practice.

 

 

The most elaborate “wild” wedding that made news lately occurred In Las Vegas, where a groom of Indian descent rode atop an elephant in front of the Bellagio, while some hundreds of guests (and curious onlookers) danced around Tai, the 4.5-ton animal thought to bring the couple good luck.

That glitzy wedding addition in the desert cost the groom $10,000. Most exotic-animal weddings do not go that far, but the red tape is still extensive.

When used for entertainment purposes, these type of animals must be licensed and monitored by the federal government. Owners of exotics must file a travel itinerary and ensure there’s enough distance between the animal and the public.

Although couples are drawn to adding animals to their wedding or wedding photos because they want to be different, a lot of cities, such as Huntington Beach, Calif., have banned the trend (the law there has been in existence since 2002). States that have also initiated this ban are Indiana, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts and New York.

A way around all this is not to bring the animals to your ceremony, but to bring the ceremony to the animals. Zoos and aquariums can offer an inspiring, energizing and decidedly unique venue to create a memorable wedding. And, best of all, by supporting these institutions you’re helping them secure a better world for animals.

The San Diego Zoo or San Diego Zoo Safari Park arrange ceremonies against a unique backdrop. Couples can get married against the backdrop of a vast savanna while herds of rhinos, giraffes, and gazelles roam in the distance. Or perhaps a lush tropical setting on the edge of a lagoon filled with rare birds and plant life. If they want elephants they can do that, too. The Denver Zoo also does brisk wedding business. And in Cincinnati, the Newport Aquarium allows couples to rent out penguins for their nuptials

If all that sounds too elaborate, couples can have their own pets stand in as the guests of honor. Or pets can have a specific role (ring bearer or flower girl are common) in the ceremony.

But before giving your pets a starring role, think about whether this will be an enjoyable experience for them. Will they feel comfortable around your guests? Are they obedient and well behaved? After all, you wouldn’t want wild animals ruining the biggest day of your lives.


Swirl, Sip and Celebrate National Wine Day at Holman Ranch Vineyard & Winery Tasting Room in Carmel Valley Celebrate National Wine Day May 25th!

Press Contact: Marci Bracco (831) 747-7455

Swirl, Sip and Celebrate National Wine Day at Holman Ranch Vineyard
& Winery Tasting Room in Carmel Valley

Celebrate National Wine Day Wednesday, May 25th!

CARMEL VALLEY, CA – Celebrate National Wine Day Wednesday, May 25th.  Holman Ranch Tasting Room at 19 E. Carmel Valley Road in Carmel Valley, California will celebrate with buy one get one for 1 cent tastings between 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 25th (valid for one buy one get one for 1 cent Estate tasting of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay per person.)

 

Holman Ranch’s Carmel Valley Village Tasting Room is the perfect backdrop to swirl, sip and savor the different complexities of Holman Ranch Vineyard and Winery wines. There is something for everyone, from the full-bodied Pinot Noirs to the light, fruity flavors of our Pinot Gris and lightly-oaked, food friendly Chardonnay. Holman Ranch also offers estate grown and bottled Extra Virgin Olive Oil available for tasting and purchase at the Tasting Room.

Stop by and celebrate National Wine Day! The list of benefits for drinking wine is getting longer and longer by the minute. A glass of wine a day has been shown to improve heart health, reduce forgetfulness, help you lose weight, boost your immunity, and help prevent bone loss.

Did you know? Wine has been produced for thousands of years all around the world. Archaeological sites in Macedonia uncovered evidence of early European wine production that date back more than 6,500 years! In China, traces of crushed grapes were found that are believed to be from the second and first millennium BC.

Evidence of wine’s popularity? There are over 20 million acres in the world dedicated to growing grapes for the sole purpose of making wine!

The tasting room is open daily from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and is available for private events. 831-659-2640 www.holmanranch.com

Holman Ranch Vineyard and Winery Background:

Located at the north eastern tip of the Carmel Valley Appellation, the family-owned Holman Ranch resides approximately 12 miles inland from the Pacific Coast. Immersed in history and romance, the ranch has not only proven to be an excellent growing location for our vineyards but also for the Tuscan varietal olive trees which have flourished under the temperate climate.

Holman Ranch estate-grown wine varietals are planted on approximately 19 acres of undulating terrain. The wines produced are unfined and crafted to deliver the true varietal of the grape from harvest to bottle. The climate and terroir of the appellation has played a critical part in the success of their wines. The warmth of the inland valley coupled with the cooling marine layer has proven to be an ideal microclimate for the production of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. The vineyards’ Burgundy Clones have thrived from the perfect blend of ideal climate, southern exposure and thin rocky soils.

The estate wines of Holman Ranch include: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Rosé of Pinot Noir. Carefully hand-harvested, cold pressed and bottled, the Extra Virgin Olive Oil produced from the fruits of our trees has a delightfully distinctive flavor.

Holman Ranch Background:

Holman Ranch: Where the Past is Always Present. Tucked away in the rolling hills of Carmel Valley, historic Holman Ranch provides a unique and memorable setting for weddings, special events, family gatherings, corporate retreats, and team-building events. With its charming gardens, stunning mountain views and serenity, this private estate affords old-world charm while providing modern day conveniences. This stunning Property includes a fully restored stone hacienda, overnight guest rooms, vineyards, olive grove, horse stables and more.

 


Sip, Swirl, Savor and Learn The Fifth Annual “In Your Backyard” Series Brought to you by Edible Monterey Bay and Holman Ranch Announces Its June 15th Class

Sip, Swirl, Savor and Learn

The Fifth Annual “In Your Backyard” Series Brought to you by

Edible Monterey Bay and Holman Ranch

Announces Its June 15th Class

June 15th will feature Kenneth Macdonald from Edgars at Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley who will take you from garden to table, discussing how to plant your garden with your menus in mind and providing tips for cooking your harvest. The evening will benefit Ag Against Hunger, which channels surplus fruits and vegetables from farms in our area to those in need. www.agagainsthunger.org

 

CARMEL, CA (April  2016)  Inspired by the culinary bounty of California’s Central Coast, Holman Ranch Tasting Room, located at 19 E. Carmel Valley Road in Carmel Valley Village, is working with Edible Monterey Bay to invite local culinary chefs and artisans to demonstrate how wine can be best complemented with fresh culinary products found throughout the Central Coast.

The “In Your Backyard” series brought to you by Edible Monterey Bay and Holman Ranch will have chefs, farmers sand foragers sharing their tips and techniques for finding the perfect, fresh ingredients for preparing truly memorable meals, side dishes as well as understanding flavor pairings. From paella to abalone and sea vegetable demos, the series will showcase local experts’ knowledgeable on everything from how to select the best meats to creating savory pastries with ingredients from the local Farmers Market. Each demonstration will offer recommendations for the best wine to pair with the featured culinary item.

Here is a sneak peek at our 2016 schedule, partners and charity beneficiaries:

  • June 15th will feature Kenneth Macdonald from Edgars at Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley who will take you from garden to table, discussing how to plant your garden with your menus in mind and providing tips for cooking your harvest. The evening will benefit Ag Against Hunger, which channels surplus fruits and vegetables from farms in our area to those in need. www.agagainsthunger.org
  •   July 14th, 6:00 PM – John Cox with Sierra Mar at Post Ranch in Big Sur and Trevor Fay of Monterey Abalone Co. will take up the theme “Cooking the Big Sur Coast,” showing you how to cook our local abalone and sea vegetables, and sharing how Monterey Abalone raises the iconic gastropod and forages for sea vegetables and rare seafood in Monterey Bay.   Charity Partner is the Grower Shipper Foundation.  The Grower-Shipper Association Foundation is a non-profit 501c(3) organization that provides education and information on the agriculture industry as well as offering innovative programs to our community outreach.  We are here to make our community aware of the positive impact agriculture makes to all our lives.  Help us to be a part of the solution to educate, inform and inspire.  www.growershipperfoundation.org

Reservations are required for all classes and the cost for each event is $25 per person. Classes are $10 for wine club members.  Class size is limited to 25 attendees.  This includes the class, wine tasting, small bites, and meeting, learning and sampling from a local artisan. A portion of the class proceeds will benefit the local charity organizations. To make reservations call 831-659-2640 or email [email protected].

Holman Ranch’s Carmel Valley Village Tasting Room is the perfect backdrop to swirl, sip and savor the different complexities of Holman Ranch Vineyard and Winery wines while learning about the culinary bounty available in your own backyard. The tasting room is open daily from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and is available for private events.

About Holman Ranch Vineyard and Winery:

Located at the north eastern tip of the Carmel Valley Appellation, the family-owned Holman Ranch resides approximately 12 miles inland from the Pacific Coast. Immersed in history and romance, the ranch has not only proven to be an excellent growing location for our vineyards but also for the Tuscan varietal olive trees which have flourished under the temperate climate. Holman Ranch estate-grown wine varietals are planted on approximately 19 acres of undulating terrain. The wines produced are unfined and crafted to deliver the true varietal of the grape from harvest to bottle. The climate and terroir of the appellation has played a critical part in the success of their wines. The warmth of the inland valley coupled with the cooling marine layer has proven to be an ideal microclimate for the production of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. The vineyards’ Burgundy Clones have thrived from the perfect blend of ideal climate, southern exposure and thin rocky soils.

The estate wines of Holman Ranch include: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Rosé of Pinot Noir. Carefully hand-harvested, cold pressed and bottled, the Extra Virgin Olive Oil produced from the fruits of our trees has a delightfully distinctive flavor.

Holman Ranch: Where the Past is Always Present. Tucked away in the rolling hills of Carmel Valley, historic Holman Ranch provides a unique and memorable setting for weddings, special events, family gatherings, corporate retreats, and team-building events. With its charming gardens, stunning mountain views and serenity, this private estate affords old-world charm while providing modern day conveniences. This stunning property includes a fully restored stone hacienda, overnight guest rooms, vineyards, olive grove, horse stables and more. www.holmanranch.com

About Edible Monterey Bay

Founded in 2011, Edible Monterey Bay produces a beautiful quarterly magazine and weekly email newsletter celebrating the local food cultures of Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties, season by season. It also promotes local and sustainable regional food cultures through outstanding food and wine-themed events. For more information, go to www.ediblemontereybay.com or call (831) 298-7117.


Holman Ranch Vineyards & Winery Estate Wines and Jarman Wines Celebrate National Wine Day and International Chardonnay Day

Press Contact: Marci Bracco Cain (831) 747-7455

Holman Ranch Vineyards & Winery Estate Wines and Jarman Wines Celebrate National Wine Day and International Chardonnay Day

CARMEL VALLEY, CA – Holman Ranch Vineyards and Winery Estate Wines and Jarman Wines celebrate National Wine Day and International Chardonnay Day.

The estate wines of Holman Ranch include: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Rosé of Pinot Noir. Holman Ranch’s 21 acres of vineyards lie between 950 and 1150 feet in elevation. The root stocks and soils are most important in producing excellent fruit from the vineyards.

The surrounding Santa Lucia Mountains are very important to Carmel Valley viticulture. The local hills hold back the marine layer and broad breezes, which is beneficial to producing consistently good fruit. Sedimentary soils, such as, chock rock and Carmel stone also play a major role in wine producing methods by providing good soil drainage. Holman Ranch “stresses the vines” of the fruit with emphasis on reproduction, which in turn, stops growth and ripens fruit. The valley configuration allows for fog in the morning but with it rapidly moving out as the air warms which is great for Pinot Noir grapes. The proximity to the ocean and the elevation are positive characteristics for the vines.

Holman Ranch’s vines are planted 15 degrees off due north which allows for all day sunlight on fruit zone and good protection from breeze. No chemical herbicides or pesticides are used on our fruit and we have received our sustainable and organic certification.  Holman Ranch is also 100% estate vineyards and winery.

Holman Ranch’s wines are unfined and crafted to deliver the true varietal of the grape from harvest to table. Purity and passion are key ingredients in the wine-making process, and this is where Holman Ranch truly stands out.

Jarman’s terroir (a French word that speaks to a wine’s place of origin, its subtle nuances of traceable character, flavor, lineage and integrity) refers to a special place in Carmel Valley — and also to a special woman, family matriarch Jarman Fearing Lowder, who inspired a family to bottle the essence of a mother’s spirit. The Jarman label reflects quality, with only the best local grapes used during an artisanal, small-batch winemaking process. Jarman wine uses only 100% estate-grown, organic and certified-sustainable grapes. Aged in French oak barrels, Jarman’s vintages are held in limited supply, and are not available anywhere outside their tasting room.

Holman Ranch and Jarman Wines announce these new promotions:

Celebrate National Wine Day Wednesday, May 25th  

happy national wine day

Celebrate National Wine Day Wednesday, May 25th at Holman Ranch Tasting Room at 19 E. Carmel Valley Road  and Jarman Tasting Lounge and Patio at 16 W. Carmel Valley Road in Carmel Valley, California.  Both tasting rooms will celebrate with buy one get one for 1 cent tastings between 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 25th (valid for one buy one get one for 1 cent Estate tasting of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay per person.)

International Chardonnay Day

grapes and sun

In honor of International Chardonnay Day enjoy a glass of Holman Ranch or Jarman Chardonnay and this recipe pairing from Chef Greg. Or grab a bottle of Holman Ranch Chardonnay or Jarman Chardonnay and receive 25% off bottle purchases only on Thursday, May 26th.  Try our Chardonnay with this recipe from Will’s Fargo Chef Greg.

Chardonnay and Plum Preserves

Yields 1 Quart

Ingredients

  • 2lbs dried pitted plums
  • 12oz Holman ranch chardonnay
  • 8oz granulated sugar
  • 1 sprig of mint
  • 1tbsp kosher salt
  • 1tsp of ground black pepper

Directions:

  • Combine all of the ingredients into medium size sauce pot.
  • Simmer on low heat for 45 minutes or until temperature reaches 145 F.
  • Cool in the fridge overnight.
  • Enjoy on a piece of pork or with fish.
  • Also goes great with brie cheese and bread.

Wine Caves:

The winery at Holman Ranch, located in The Caves, is completely underground in order to take advantage of the natural cooling and humidity held below. The 3000 square foot area maintains a constant temperature of 58˚F-60 ˚F and contains four 750 gallon tanks, four 1200 gallon tanks, and four open top tanks that can hold two tons each. One hundred (100) French oak barrels are maintained year round. Winery operations such as destemming, pressing, fermenting and aging take place within the cool environment of The Caves, while bottling is done directly outside using a mobile bottling line. During harvest, 6 to 8 tons of grapes a day are processed. This may seem low but it is due to the fact that harvesting hours are between 7am to noon on any given day. Grapes are hand picked and loaded into half ton bins, transferred to the winery by tractor and then moved by forklift to the destemmer. White wines take around three weeks to ferment at 50˚F and are bottled in February, while red varietals ferment for two weeks and are bottled in early June. All skins, seeds and stems are composted and returned to the fields. Slow months for our winery are June, July and August with the busiest time being September. The winery will produce 3000-5000 cases annually.

Vineyard & Winery Background:

Located at the north eastern tip of the Carmel Valley Appellation, the family-owned Holman Ranch resides approximately 12 miles inland from the Pacific Coast. Immersed in history and romance, the ranch has not only proven to be an excellent growing location for our vineyards but also for the Tuscan varietal olive trees which have flourished under the temperate climate.

  • Our estate-grown wine varietals are planted on approximately 21 acres of undulating terrain.
  • The wines produced are unfined and crafted to deliver the true varietal of the grape from harvest to bottle.
  • The climate and terroir of the appellation has played a critical part in the success of our wines. The warmth of our inland valley coupled with the cooling marine layer has established itself as an ideal microclimate for the production of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Our Burgundy Clones have thrived from the perfect blend of ideal climate, southern exposure and thin rocky soils.

Holman Ranch Tasting Room:

Holman Ranch’s Carmel Valley tasting room offers the perfect backdrop to swirl, sip and savor the different complexities of Holman Ranch Vineyard and Winery wines. There is something for everyone (4 varietals in fact), from the full-bodied Pinot Noirs to the light, fruity flavors of our Pinot Gris and lightly oaked Chardonnay. Holman Ranch also offers estate grown and bottled Olive Oil available for tasting and purchase at the Tasting Room.

The Tasting Room showcases the estate wines of Holman Ranch which includes our Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Rosé of Pinot Noir. Carefully hand-harvested, cold pressed and bottled, the Extra Virgin Olive Oil produced from the fruits of our Tuscan trees has a delightful spice followed by a buttery finish.

Three tasting flights of three wines each (White, Mountain and Pinot Noir) are available 7 days a week. The Tasting Room also holds a series of cooking demos called In Your Backyard. For more information, call (831) 659-2640.

Olive Grove:

Holman Ranch has its own distinctive olive grove located on a south facing hill of our vineyard. The grove is comprised of 100 trees with multiple cultivars planted. These cultivars consist of 25 Frantoio, 25 Leccino, 10 Mission, 25 Coratina, 5 Pendolino, and 10 Picholine, all of which were originally planted in 2194 in a Carmel Valley orchard then replanted at Holman Ranch in 2007. These mature olive trees allowed us to produce olive oil right away. They are planted in shale for the best production and harvesting results possible. We harvest our fruit by hand in December, which is then milled, producing a superb, high quality product. Although the Olive Grove is not certified organic, we do employ organic practices when farming our trees. Our mill, however, is certified organic. An interesting fact is that olive trees are alternate bearing, which means that one year they may produce 650, 375ml bottles worth of oil, while next year they may produce only 50, 375ml bottles.

Holman Ranch Background:

Holman Ranch: Where the Past is Always Present. Tucked away in the rolling hills of Carmel Valley, Californian historic Holman Ranch provides a unique and memorable setting for weddings, special events, family gatherings, corporate retreats, and team-building events. With its charming gardens, stunning mountain views and serenity, this private estate affords old-world charm while providing modern day conveniences. This stunning Property includes a fully restored stone hacienda, overnight guest rooms, vineyards, olive grove, horse stables and more. www.holmanranch.com

About Jarman Wines:

Jarman’s terroir (a French word that speaks to a wine’s place of origin, its subtle nuances of traceable character, flavor, lineage and integrity) refers to a special place in Carmel Valley — and also to a special woman, family matriarch Jarman Fearing Lowder, who inspired a family to bottle the essence of a mother’s spirit. The Jarman label reflects quality, with only the best local grapes used during an artisanal, small-batch winemaking process. Jarman wine uses only 100% estate-grown, organic and certified-sustainable grapes. Aged in French oak barrels, Jarman’s vintages are held in limited supply, and are not available anywhere outside their tasting room.

The two varietals include:

The 2013 Jarman Pinot Noir takes on nuances of warm blueberry pie, cloves and cinnamon that mingle in the nose with oak notes from 10 months in the barrel. The mouth-feel is plump and juicy with overtones of cassis and blackberries.

The 2014 Jarman Chardonnay features floral notes reminiscent of walking by a parfumerie in France — subtle and pleasant with a hint of earthiness. When serving this wine lightly chilled, rich notes of underripe berries and raw honey will waltz across your palate.

To further honor their mother’s memory, the family has opened a special tasting room in Carmel Valley Village (open noon to 5 p.m., Thurs.-Sun.; or by appointment) next to Will’s Fargo Steakhouse + Bar, the restaurant they purchased in 2014. The tastings will feature full-fledged experiences, including tours and wine education, and each will include a food element that complements the wine. The new Jarman tasting room will provide visitors with three unique experiences: Cru Tasting, Premier Cru Experience and the Grand Cru Experience.

Jarman Tasting Lounge and Patio, 18 West Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley, CA.  For more information call Jarman Tasting Lounge and Patio at 831-298-7300 or email [email protected].

 


Today’s High Fashion World Full Of Equestrian Influences

When it comes to fashion, both luxury labels and heritage brands are responding to a renaissance in classic equestrian chic. From Hermès and Gucci to heritage British brands Swaine Adeney Brigg and Hunter, there is a worldwide rise in sales, particularly in Asia and the Middle East. As a result, equestrian classicism is back on the style radar.

While most customers are not actually riders themselves, it’s what the equestrian lifestyle represents that lures shoppers. Horses have forever been symbols of power in history and literature. And think about it, the horse, after all, was the first athlete clothed by the house. Founded in 1837 in Paris to kit out European noblemen and women with harnesses, bridles and saddles for carriages, Hermès reflects these traditions with its current “A Sporting Life” ad campaign.

Exquisite leatherwork, tailoring and practicality makes equine-inspired style sexy and timeless, as shown in Le Monde d’Hermès, a glossy spring/summer brochure produced by the quintessential equestrian-inspired luxury brand.

The Italian luxury fashion label Gucci, founded by Guccio Gucci in Florence in 1921 and specializing in luggage for aristocrats, has in more recent years returned to the equestrian world, recruiting Charlotte Casiraghi, a 26-year-old show-jumper whose credentials also include being fourth in line to the throne of Monaco, as the face of the company.

Last year Gucci launched a new 15-piece equestrian collection, characterized by house signatures such as the horse bit and green-red-green webbing stripe. Although the gabardine jackets and velvet-covered riding cap could be worn sitting in their Guccissima leather saddle, they would not look out of place outside the paddock.

A large part of today’s popular fashion trends is full of equestrian influences. On almost any runway you’ll find an outfit that has a distinct hint of horseback riding style. The following popular fashion trends owe their inspiration to equestrians:

  • Tall boots: Within the last few years, fashion tall boots have grown to closely resemble those worn by hunter, jumper and dressage riders. Some of today’s fashionable tall boots so closely resemble riding boots that it can be hard to tell them apart. From fake spurs to spur rests to accent brown leather at the knee, you can’t deny that tall boots were inspired by equestrians.
  • Cowboy boots: Now a fashion statement, a major part of a Western rider’s wardrobe make a perfect pairing with jeans or a skirt for a night out. Not just for work anymore, men’s and women’s cowboy boots are a popular fashion accessory. Today fashion western style boots, made out of artificial leather (some even with high heels), are available at a lower price point than the cost of a genuine pair.
  • Western shirts: These plaid, collared button-downs were inspired by those shirts popular among Western riders. Today’s trendy western-style shirts often sport decorative embroidery and accent buttons, and can be a versatile item for layering.
  • Polo shirts: This makes up perhaps one of the equestrian world’s greatest influences on popular fashion. Polo shirts were originally favored by polo players because their collars stayed in place. Today their popularity is widespread, and the shirt owes its name to players of the past. One of the most notable designers of polo shirts, Ralph Lauren, still pays homage to the polo’s origin with its embroidered logo of a polo player and horse.
  • Breech-style tights: Female fashion reflects the recent trend of tights styled to resemble breeches. These tights feature the form-fitting breech style, and many sport accent pockets and even artificial knee patches. Most commonly styled with sandals or another type of minimalist shoe, these breech-style tights are a distinctive nod to the fashion of the horse world.

Forget Romance And Tradition, It May Be Time To Ditch The Cork For Alternative Wine Closures

Is there anything more romantic than the evocative sound of a pulled wine cork, or the ceremonial fizzy pop from a Champagne bottle?

Corks have been the preferred choice since the beginning of modern Europe in the 1400s, because cork bark was one of the few natural products malleable enough to hold liquid inside a glass bottle.

But roughly 5 percent of all bottles with natural corks show some degree of spoilage, the culprit being trichloroanisole, commonly known as TCA. It’s also a limited natural resource (It takes a tree that produces cork 25 years to grow), and expensive.

For the last decade or so there have been plenty of cork substitutes on the market, with some wineries converting their entire production to synthetic corks or screw caps. 

So, the problem is solved, right? Maybe not.

Screw caps and synthetic corks are prone to another aroma taint: sulphidisation. This may arise from the reduced oxygen supply which concentrates sulphurous smells.

Cheap plastic corks are difficult to pull, and if you like to re-cork a bottle and put it back in the fridge, they are even harder to get back into the neck. Even good corkscrews have problems punching through the denser plastics, and using a two-pronged opener is virtually impossible. Detractors believe the only reason to use a substitute cork is to preserve the ritual of the pull.

 

 

Is the act of removing a cork such an essential part of the wine-drinking experience? It is for most older wine drinkers. The newer generation has little problem with alternative openers. The truth is, the worldwide demand for wine (and corks) is growing, so we should get familiar with the future of wine preservation:

  • Screw caps or Stelvin caps are closures made only from aluminum material that threads onto the bottleneck. They are the predominant closure used by Australian and New Zealand wineries. Screw caps form a tighter seal and can keep out oxygen for a longer time than cork. These benefits aid in maintaining the wine’s overall quality and aging potential.
  • Vino-Seal is a plastic/glass closure introduced into the European market in 2003. Using a glass stopper with an inert o-ring, the Vino-Seal creates a hermetic seal that prevents oxidation and TCA contamination. A disadvantage with the Vino-Seal is the relatively high cost of each plug (70 cents each) and cost of manual bottling due to the lack of compatible bottling equipment outside of Europe.
  • Zork is an alternative wine closure for still wines, that seals like a screw cap and pops like a cork, created by an Australian company of the same name. The closure has three parts: an outer cap providing a tamper-evident clamp that locks onto the band of a standard cork mouth bottle; an inner metal foil which provides an oxygen barrier similar to a screw cap, and an inner plunger which creates the ‘pop’ on extraction and reseals after use.
  • Some sparkling wine producers have begun to replace the traditional cage and cork seals with screw caps, which is safer for the consumer and helps maintain the effervescence for weeks. Some wineries have even employed the use of crown caps that are removed with a bottle opener.

 


From Beach Themes To Wine Smoothies, Here Are Some Hot Summer Wedding Trends

Whether you’re tying the knot yourself, or your upcoming calendar is full of wedding invitations, here are some hot summer trends now that prime nuptial season is upon us.

New themes

Basic beach or garden themes are classic for the summer. Instead of a generic setting or theme, couples have elected to take the personal route. Couples are thinking of their favorite summer hangouts when planning their theme. Others honor their honeymoon destination. If a couple’s having a garden wedding and honeymooning in Hawaii, they could add orchids to their bouquets or fill the bottoms of centerpiece vases with black lava rocks.

Emphasis on the love story

Wedding guests want to celebrate a couple’s love and commitment to one another, but a new trend allows them to see even more into a love story. Couples are starting to hang up pictures as decoration during cocktail hour, producing a timeline of major events in their relationship. Some couples have even written vows as their wedding altar backdrop.

Bold wildflowers

Nothing says summer like wildflowers. Brides have found that completing their wedding décor with wild blooms really makes the day stand out and add extra dimension and color to the wedding photos. Brides like to extend that theme further by making up little net or satin sachets of wildflower seeds before the reception, and then handing them so guests can shower the happy couple (rice is no longer a wise choice).

Wine smoothies

In the summertime guests will definitely expect something cold and frosty, but margaritas and daiquiris can be a bit ordinary. Instead, couples have discovered wine smoothies. They are cold, frosty and pack less of an alcoholic punch than margaritas.   The drink consists of a fruity wine, blended with ice and fruits of your choice. Garnished with a couple of berries or fruit slices, it makes for a refreshing and unexpected signature sip.

 

Dynamic colors

Bright hues are hugely popular for summer weddings. Couples are gravitating toward sophisticated brights, and sticking with just two hues to keep the space unified. Rather than splashing color all over the reception space, decorators point couples toward one dynamic color for a strong statement — think all-pink centerpieces or bold orange table linens.

Laid-back music

For summer weddings, today’s couples seek to lighten up the ambience, choosing a pianist or string trio for a formal cocktail hour, but also thinking about alternative summery music styles. A laid-back vibe can be created with steel drums or a singer accompanied with a ukulele. Receptions will heat up the evening with sultry sounds, incorporating classic swing or big band music to provide an upbeat tempo.

Beyond wedding cake

White wedding cakes are popular for every season, and of course, chocolate always reigns for groom’s cakes. But with cake bakers nowadays offering so many delectable flavors and fillings, couples are moving toward seasonal selections. It’s easy to become inspired by the summer flavors we loved as children. Think fresh strawberries and whipped cream filling for a strawberry shortcake-style wedding cake, or a citrus-infused filling like key lime, lemon, or orange vanilla buttercream that honors a summertime fruit. Couples are hiring ice cream trucks to arrive at the end of the night to provide summertime favorites.


Science Shows That More Women Than Men Are “Supertasters” — And The Wine World Welcomes Them

Most of us consider ourselves amateur tasters of wine, and we often wonder why we don’t detect that “hint of raspberry” or whiffs of “forest floor” that the so-called experts seem to distinguish.

Genetics certainly have something to do with why we have different perceptions of tastes. Scientists have shown there’s a genetic component to how we experience certain flavors, most notably bitter and sweet. It turns out a small percentage of humans are considered “supertasters,” those born with more receptors within their palate to experience tastes more intensely.

 

 

Researchers have found that 25 percent of the population are considered “supertasters,” with more than 35 papillae (taste receptors) found on the tongue. About half of us rank as ordinary “tasters,” with only 25 percent falling into the “non-tasters” category.

What’s even more surprising is that, according to research at the University of Florida Center for Smell and Taste, supertasting abilities are more common in women than in men. In one study of 4,000 Americans, the center found that 34 percent of them were supertasting women, with only 22 percent men.

So when it comes to winetasting, do women have a more refined palate than their male counterparts?

The answer is a resounding yes. And many believe it all begins inside the nose. Researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia have tried to get at gender differences in the sense of smell — which, of course, has implications for sense of taste.

After studies suggested there is a gender component to taste and smell, the center began to study how some individuals can become increasingly sensitive to certain odors over time, detecting them at lower and lower concentrations. They trained a group of men and women of various ages to identify two specific odors. The researchers then had both the men and the women smell the odors at increasingly diluted concentrations. And they found something quite interesting: The women who were of reproductive age saw their sensitivity to one of the odors increase by an average of five orders of magnitude.

Could it be that an innate motherly instinct to protect children from certain toxins in the environment has led to an ability to decipher important characteristics in wine?

For a second study, researchers ran more experiments: They trained men and women to detect more odors. And again they found that only women of reproductive age were able to detect multiple odors at increasingly lower concentrations.

It’s assumed that sex hormones present in reproductive women must have something to do with this. The experiments also suggest that hormones and attention are working together, meaning that women are a little better when they focus their attention on a smell.

It’s long been shown that mothers can pick out their baby’s smell from a large group, so it’s highly plausible that this ability to be more sensitive to smell could carry over into perception of food — and wine.

In recent years, more American women have become sommeliers, tasting and pairing wines for inquiring diners. They’ve succeeded in breaking down the entry barriers to this traditionally male-dominated industry, and have become trailblazing members of the field.

At one point not long ago, there were no American women in the field of Master Sommeliers. Today there are 147 professionals who have earned that coveted title as part of the Americas chapter. Of those, 23 are women — supertasters all.


Turning Water Into Wine Requires Smart Farming From Grape Growers

As California’s $23-billion wine industry continues to face a water crisis of historic proportions, vintners and grape growers are finding other methods (both old and new) to water the vines efficiently.

 

Turning available water into wine is not an easy task. Earth Day (April 22) is a vivid reminder of how important it is to conserve this natural resource, especially in areas more prone to drought, such as California. While wine grapes use far less water than conventional crops such as alfalfa, almonds, rice and corn, the ever-evolving industry is in constant search of conservation methods.

Many grapes growers have turned to dry farming — a classic method of cultivation that fell to the wayside in the 1970s after drip irrigation was introduced. The idea is to use only the water Mother Nature provides, resulting in lower yields but more concentrated fruit.

That doesn’t mean growers leave the vines idle and pray for rain. Dry farming requires the right kind of soil to absorb and retain natural moisture. It needs vines with deep roots to seek out that water, especially in times of severe dryness. And it takes careful tilling and pinpoint soil management to make sure the vines survive the hottest months.

Proponents of dry-farming know that many vineyards over-water the grapes as a matter of course, and that available moisture in the soil allows vines to withstand heat without supplemental irrigation. Although there are many factors at play (temperature, humidity, wind speed etc.), a mature vine needs roughly 2 gallons a week in a hot climate. And a grapevine given one-half of its annual water needs will produce roughly 80 percent of its maximum potential yield.

Overwatering can lead to the vines rapidly growing out of control, with less concentrated fruit; not an ideal situation for quality wine. Add to that the threat of ongoing drought, and winegrowers see the value in conservation. If dry-farming isn’t a viable option, advances in drip irrigation have made it easier to be more water wise.

Advanced drip irrigation systems involve augering a hole 12 inches in diameter and 36 inches deep for each vine. A grape stake is positioned into the hole with a half-inch PVC pipe taped to the stake. The pipe is inserted 24 inches into the ground next to the vine and extends 12 inches above ground. The hole is filled half full with pea gravel and the remainder of the hole is filled with soil (a growth pellet is often added to each hole).

  When the new plant shows enough vigor, a hole is punched through the half-inch cap and the dripper hose is transferred into the top of the pipe. The pea gravel is the key to the underground water system. It allows the water to be dispersed into the root zone of the vine. This deep watering forces the root system away from the surface, using far less water than surface drip irrigation. And with no water on the surface of the vine rows, there are no weeds during the growing season (weeds suck up water that could be used by the vines).

All this efficiency is the right thing to do for our planet — and for our palates. Less water, more quality wine. We can all drink to that.


Hands-Off Winemakers Give Up Complete Clarity By Bottling Unfined Wines

Making wine sustainably and responsibly is not an easy task because it encompasses everything from avoiding conventional pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers and bio-engineering to abstaining from fining or filtering the wine before bottling.

In winemaking, clarification and stabilization are the processes by which insoluble matter suspended in the wine is removed before bottling. This matter may include dead yeast cells, bacteria, proteins, pectins, various tannins and other phenolic compounds ― as well as pieces of grape skin, pulp and stems. The process may involve fining, filtration, flotation and pasteurization, among others.

During wine production, elements are often introduced to clear the wine, ridding it of cloudiness, bitterness and “off” tastes and aromas. Fining agents tend to work like a magnet, collecting the unwanted constituents that settle to the bottom of the tank.  Fining agents include egg albumin, milk proteins, edible gelatin (from bone), and isinglass (from fish), which is concerning to vegans, of course.

Many wineries use the fine clay filter aid kieselguhr, which is a carcinogen, to filter liquids destined for human consumption. The EU-funded project Adfimax is studying a novel vegetable fiber-based alternative which performs better and is sustainable as well.

Fast facts about fining:

  • It’s common for quality white, rosé and sparkling wines to use isinglass (a fish byproduct) for fining.
  • It’s common for red wines to use egg whites or casein for fining to remove bitter-tasting phenolics.
  • Old-world wineries previously used ox-blood to fine wine, but this is no longer common today.
  • Fining agents are removed before wine is bottled.

The alternative is to bottle unfined wines. Many experts insist that unfined/unfiltered wines taste fresher, with more purity of fruit, than wines that have gone through the fining process. Natural sediment helps to nourish wine over time, which can help it age gracefully in the cellar.

 For the last 25 or so years, wineries have used fining and filtration techniques to make a wine appear crystal-clear. This makes for a more attractive and “trustworthy” product. Most wines sold at retail today are filtered, and as a result you can see right through them (this is most obvious with white wines).

Other more sustainably minded wineries such as Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley, Calif., prefer not to intervene. These wines are often called “natural,” and may leave a bit of sentiment in the bottom of your glass ― a vivid reminder that the wine you’re drinking is the truest expression of a winemaker.