The Difference Between Red and White Wine

Even though most people think of “wine” as a general canopy of drinks for classy old people, the wine connoisseurs amongst us know that is about as accurate as saying “Well, water’s water right? Who cares if it has lots of salt in it and I’m stranded on a lifeboat?”. Within wines, there’s typically two basic varieties. Called red and white wines, the two drinks are different from dirt to dinner table. The difference between the flavors, light and fruity for whites and richer and headier for reds, is only the beginning of the separation. The digression begins right off the jump, in the vineyard. Red wines are the primary export of most wine producing countries like Italy and France, and has a stronger flavor contrary that of the typically lighter palette of white wines. Red wines include well known names, like Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Malbec and Sangiovese. Made from the entire dark red or black wine grape, the wines even sometimes include stems of the grapes they are borne from. After being fermented into wine, the red wine is filtered of all solid particulates and goes to the wine stock for aging and eventual sale. Even the health benefits of red wine is different. While all wines, except perhaps dessert and cooking wines, can help heart health and lower your odds of nasty things like coronary heart disease and stroke. Unlike white wines, the stronger reds contain antioxidants from the grape bits that were in it and something called resveratrols. Aforementioned big word protects blood vessels, reduces blood clotting and even helps prevent cancer... read more

All About Corks

Ever since the beginning of the bottle industry in 1500 B.C., the literal topper of the business has been corks to seal the bottles from outside forces like air, other fluids, gravity, etc. Surprisingly a “green” industry, the process starts with the cork oak. Every nine years, the cork trees are shaved of bark. The rich and well suited environments of the home countries of cork, Spain and Portugal, allows the protective cover to grow back rapidly. The years of harvest are actually physically marked on the trees themselves, as to make sure that the bark isn’t harvested early, the purpose of this being to make sure that the important Quercas Suber(Cork Oak) isn’t killed by the occasional fires that will rage during the sweltering summers of the Mediterranean nations. Once harvested, they are stored for a period of time. Good companies typically store them on concrete, not dirt as to reduce the odds of contamination. The bark of cork oaks is abnormally thin, and as such isn’t used typically in high quality cork, but rather in technical, which is multiple pieces of cork oak fused. With regular water changes, the wood strips are boiled for cleaning and softening. Producing a softer, pliable, more useful batch of cork, which is then graded. After grading and shipping to proper places, the cork batches have natural corks punched out of them and the rest is used in the creation of technical corks. The high-grade corks are punched by workers on a line, others machine-punched. If the process is done wrong, then cork can be wasted on insufficient stoppers. The wood left... read more

How to Taste Wine

When people start talking about “the scent,” “the legs” and “the body,” it’s hard to tell if they’re discussing wine or women. The two are surprisingly similar: A good wine can taste like a little black dress, a bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolate—all at the same time. A bad wine, on the other hand, can taste like a rotten date, both of which leave a bitter taste in your mouth.   But how can you tell if wine is good or bad? How do you extract the key flavors from a drink that’s known for its infinite complexity? In short, how do you taste wine?   How to Taste Wine   Contrary to what the term suggests, tasting wine engages more than just one sense. In fact, there are multiple senses and stages that come into play. The key stages in wine tasting include sight, swirl, smell, taste and finish. And each stage is integral to your tasting experience.   Sight: Start by holding the stem of the glass, instead of the bulb, so as not to alter the temperature of the wine. The ideal tasting temperature is around 50 degrees for whites and 60 degrees for reds.   Tilt the glass at a 45-degree angle and look at the color of the wine. It’s best to view the wine against a white background. Younger wines tend to have a more purple color and older wines usually have an orange or brick red hue.   Swirl: Next, make small circles with the glass to swirl the wine around. This activates the aromas. During this stage you... read more

Harvest Time at Hellanback Ranch Winery

So, what had me up before sunrise on a Saturday morning? The love of good wine and the chance to help bring in the harvest at Hellanback Ranch Winery, that’s what. Check out some photos of the event below.      The work day started at around 6:30 am; while the air was still cool. With pruning sheers and Home Depot Homer buckets in hand we set off to find ripe clusters of wine grapes to collect. Our first 5 rows of vines were Cabernet Sauvignon.    Attention to detail was important. No cutting off of fingers allowed.  Paula looked like a grape gunslinger with pruning sheers. 🙂    Here’s the little beauties we were after. Some of the vines were not willing to give up the fruit of their labor without a fight. But we prevailed.   Up and down the rows we went, filling bucket after bucket… after bucket. *whew* It was hard work. Into the truck they went to get destemmed. Up and in they go! Isn’t that beautiful? Time for a well earned break. Ooo… and some mimosas. 🙂  With John York playing bartender. Paula made us some lasagna. Yum! I had such a great time at my first wine grape harvest. Looking forward to attending another one soon. With all of our San Diego County wine growers coming into harvest season, there should be plenty of opportunity. But for now, I’m home with my feet up; relaxing and enjoying the fruits of my labor.... read more

Olive Oil – a Natural Gift

Before grapes became wine, before grain became bread, perhaps before the horse was domesticated, there was the olive tree and there was olive oil. It was a constant companion as civilization expanded from the Caucasus to the Mediterranean shore. The civilization and the trees crossed the sea on the ships of the Phoenicians and reached the hills of Greece, Italy, Spain and North Africa. Olive oil lit the night cleanly and portably. It was medicine for the sick, cleansing for the newborn and blessing for the dying. The olive tree and olive oil are mentioned nearly 200 times in the Bible. Olive oil became a key ingredient of Mediterranean life. The Fruit of a Tree Olive oil is unique. Among all the oils that are used for food, only olive oil is the fruit of a tree*. Olives do not need to be heat treated or chemically induced to give up their oil; in fact the oil gets worse if those methods are used. Oils can be extracted from nuts, legumes, lards and butters; but olive oil has a unique molecular structure that is healthier than all the rest. Many oils can be modified to taste “something like” olive oil, but they cannot be changed to get the same health benefits. Olives are a bitter fruit. They taste so bad on the tree that they are rarely eaten by birds. Yet they contain up to 25% oil by weight. Traditional methods for extracting the oil used heavy stones, burlap bags and hydraulic presses. These are beautiful, quaint but not as clean as you’d like. Modern oil presses use stainless... read more

The Olive Harvest

Family Harvest Time in the Italian Countryside In traditional small towns throughout Italy, the olive harvest is a chance for family and friends to gather once more before winter closes in. As the weather cools, the olive crop starts to turn from green to purple. Each producer decides when to pick the olives based on color, texture and local custom. The crew is gathered. The olive mill is scheduled and harvest begins. Large nets are spread beneath the trees to cushion the olives as they fall from the trees and avoid them rolling in the dirt and debris. The crew gathers around the perimeter of the tree and in ladders, carefully stripping the olives from branches. It is time to catch up on family gossip and make new friends. As each tree is finished the nets are gathered to roll the olives to the center. The heavy mound of fragrant fruit is transferred to buckets or bins for transport to the mill. By the time the trees are picked the crew has exercised newly found muscles and is ready for a celebration. The magic of the olive harvest is ‘instant gratification’. The best olive oil in the world comes out of the press: green, golden and bright with flavor. A plate of toasted bruschetta simplice ( a touch of garlic, some salt and a big pour of the olive oil you’ve just picked) is a just reward for all the work. The harvest party is the last of the year, and well worth the effort. When are the Olives Ripe Grapes need to be picked the moment they are... read more

Join Ramona Ranch Winery this Weekend for Food, Wine & Fun

Take a beautiful drive up to the San Diego Back-country this weekend and experience why Ramona Valley wines are fast becoming the talk of the wine industry! Come see us at Ramona Ranch Winery, located at 23578 Highway 78. We will open our gorgeous tasting terrace on Friday at 3 pm, as well as Saturday and Sunday, from noon to sunset. Sunday promises another day of lovely weather and to compliment the experience at Ramona Ranch, we’ll have an array of temptations available for pairing with our hand-crafted wines, including catered small bites, wine barrel art, silver jewelry, a masseuse, and something fancy for your furry friend. Our service includes 3 whites and 4 reds to choose from, and if you haven’t tried our newly released 100% Ramona Valley Petite Sirah, we think that’s worth the trip alone! Feel free to call the winery at 760.789.1622 with any questions. To enhance your visit to download our map and read about the Ramona Valley Wine Region! We are looking forward to seeing you this... read more

What You Should Know About Woof’n Rose Winery

Woof’n Rose Winery, and estate vineyards, is a boutique winery overlooking the beautiful Ramona Valley. A family operation we are characterized by country atmosphere and intimacy with our guests, when you visit you will be on our winery veranda overlooking the vineyards talking directly with the owners and family, and in addition to our winery you will hear all about our other passion, dogs. Our annual production is approximately 300 cases, mostly from estate fruit. It is available for tasting and sales by appointment at the winery, and has limited availability in restaurants and wine shops (including a restaurant in Washington DC which specializes in small production wines from around the US). Our guests typically ask us several questions; we think the answers to these questions pretty well define the essence of Woof’n Rose Winery. Who runs the winery? Woof’n Rose winery is family owned and operated, we, Steve (Stephen) and Marilyn Kahle, do it all with plentiful help from our three sons and their families, help from friends and neighbors, and the support of our four legged partners. We are both retired, Marilyn as a secretary and database administrator and Steve as an electrical engineer and software consultant. We told our friends when we retired that we would be very busy with the vineyard and winery, but it would be nice because we could work on our own terms and schedule not on someone else’s – well that was certainly a fairy tale, now we work when Mother Nature dictates and we are very grateful for all the help we get. Our eldest son Travis, a full time... read more