The holiday season is almost over, and 2012 is about to go out with a bang!
At San Diego Beer and Wine Tours, we don't really believe in the standard New Year's resolutions. What's the point of a year filled with thirst and deprivation? Plus, nobody ever sticks with them. That's why we have decided to make 2013 the year of the Resolution Revolution. Instead of taking things we love away, we've decided make changes by adding more good things into our lives. We've decided to take better care of ourselves by eating more good food and drinking as much rich wine and tasty craft beer as we can handle.
If your New Year's promises run in the same vein (and why wouldn't they?) we have any number of delightful tours for you to enjoy to kick next year off in style. Join us for a walking exploration of San Diego's best restaurants and microbreweries, or a chauffered tour of our little-known Wine Country. After all, we're only going to get one 2013. You might as well make the most of it!
Cheers, prosit, and Happy New Year!
Brooke B., Resolutionary
Posted in Beer, Breweries, Company News, Food and Vine, Happy Hour, Health, holiday, Local Business, San Diego Wine Country, San Diego Winery Tour, Tours, Uncategorized, Walking Tours, Wine, Wine Train, Wineries |
It was Thursday November 29, 2012, and Paul Anthony and I were very excited about the evening’s plans. We had signed up for Michael David "Zins of Sin" 6-Course Dinner at Proprietor's Reserve. In fact, we were so looking forward to eating and drinking at one of our favorite San Diego places that we arrived a whole half hour early to the event!
That was a very slow half hour as we waited with anticipatory breath and salivatory glands for an evening we predicted would be full of delightful decadence.
Erin and Michael did not disappoint. Erin impressed our refined palates with dishes she had prepared with perfect precision and a brilliant mind for impeccable wine pairing. We even got to purchase these beautiful wines at a great price. (Being a member of Proprietors Reserve Wine Club has some huge benefits!).
Michael David Winery recently released another zinfandel in their sins line. Proprietors Reserve decided to feature the whole line up from MD! Each of the 6 wines was paired with its own bold dinner course including 4 of MD’s exceptional cultish zinfandels! Sarah Kanemasu from MD was absolutely wonderful pouring us hearty portions and sharing insights about each wine. The night even included fun contests to win schwag from Michael David Winery collection!
We’ve included the menu lineup below, and Michael David Winery notes on selected wines.
2010 Freakshow Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon
Charred Polenta Cake | Roasted Pork | Gorgonzola Cream
Known for taking the road less traveled Michael David Winery has always stood apart from the crowd. Whether it be their outlandish brands and packaging or their quirky personalities, Michael and David are definitely on a stage of their own and this wine showcases just that. The fruit for this brute of a Cab comes from the original “super freak”, Michael Phillips vineyard located only a medicine balls toss away from the winery. Surprisingly nimble and elegant, showing great balance, strength, and poise. This Cabernet has a bouquet of dark cherry and roasted spices. Full bodied and mouth filling with gobs of black currant, blackberry, charred oak, vanilla and cassis. Mild tannins with a mellow, long finish.
2009 Rapture Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon
Arugula Salad | Dried Figs | Salem Blue Crumble | Toasted Walnut | Aged Blueberry Balsamic
2007 Sloth Mendocino Zinfandel
Seared Duck Breast | Raspberry Preserves | Pretzel Crostini | Chive Creme Fraiche
2010 Rage Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
Orzo Salad | Fresh Bruschetta | Black & Green Olive | Fresh Spinach | Sun Dried Tomato | Chianti Sausage | Syrah Toscana
Dry Creek Valley, a premium winegrowing region, is located in Northern Sonoma County, California, only an hour north of San Francisco. The grapes for this unique wine come from a 45 year old head pruned vineyard. With rocky red soil, this vineyard sits on a mild slope on the hillside block on the southern edge of the Dry Creek Appellation. Medium purple in color with aromas of blackberry, bright raspberry, and vanilla. Nice dark cherry and blackberry fruit flavors with cracked black pepper and moderate tannins.
2009 Gluttony Amador County Zinfandel
Black Pepper 18 Hour Roasted Pork | Blackberry Cabernet Redux | Pumpkin Shallot Risotto
2009 Lust Lodi Appelation Zinfandel
Wine Braised Short Rib | Cream Cheese & Chive Mashed Red Skins
Each year only the most outstanding small lots are isolated from the over 100 produced at Michael David to bottle under Lust. This vintage, three lots stood out as being the most structured while displaying a ton of ripe berry and spice characteristics we all except to come from a Zinfandel. To enhance this wine all three lots were blended together and put into new American oak barrels that were purchased especially for this program. After being aged for 18 months we blended with a little Petite Sirah to increase the already great depth, color, and tannin structure. Ready to drink now, but with the hefty amount of tannins this wine could easily be set down for a few years. This Zinfandel has a soft texture and decadent mouthfeel, and the flavors are of creme de cassis, caramel cream, melted milk chocolate, tangerine zest, and cinnamon-spiced gingerbread
Truffle chocolates, caramel chocolate balls, cheddar cheese with chocolate ribbon, sea salt caramels, chocolate with 73% Belgian Dark Chocolate Non-Pareils.
Revisit wine pairing above.
We were enraptured when we tottered out of Proprietor’s Reserve around 10.30pm with a very fitting wine under our arm: RAPTURE.
We especially loved the fruit forward berry notes on this gorgeous wine. A very nice finish to a great night. Thank you Michael, Erin and Sarah and all at Proprietor’s Reserve and Michael David Winery.
`Tis the season for giving. While we think that nothing is better than the gift of a winery train tour, chauffeured tour, or a beer tasting tour through beautiful San Diego, we also like to give back. In fact, it's one of the things we're most proud of!
Did you know that a portion of all of our money made goes to San Diego's underprivileged children and teens, and another portion goes to people struggling with health or financial challenges? So every time you buy a tour, you're not just having a great time, you're also helping out people who need it.
If you prefer to donate directly, here are some of our favorite charities:
Summit4StemCell, tour guide Marti's organization of choice, is part of the Parkinson's Association of San Diego and supports non-embryonic stem cell research in partnership with the Scripps Clinic in La Jolla and the Scripps Research Institute.
Shakti Rising, one of Shira Bliss's favorite charities, focuses on personally empowering girls and young women, with the end goal of creating societies that are healthier for everybody, especially women and children.
The Playing For Change Foundation, Brooke B.'s favorite, is dedicated to using music and education to promote positive change in blighted or war-torn areas. Musicians hold concerts to raise money or put together videos using performances from far-flung corners of the world to raise money to provide children with safe spaces to learn.
These are just a few of the many wonderful charities out there. But no matter which community you give back to during this season of giving, we raise a glass of our favorite wine to you.
Brooke B., Charitrix
Posted in Beer, Breweries, bus tours, Company News, Food and Vine, Health, holiday, Local Business, San Diego Wine Country, San Diego Winery Tour, Tours, Uncategorized, Walking Tours, Wine, Wine Train, Wineries |
If you’re looking for a top-notch hotel in San Francisco/Sausalito we highly recommend The Inn Above Tide. This is a great place to stay when you’re planning on touring the nearby wine country. The scenic vineyards of Sonoma and Napa are just a short drive north.
The management at Inn Above Tide go above and beyond the call of duty. We were greeted by generous, kind staff that were more than willing to attend to our needs. Once escorted to our luxurious room we were thrilled with the special tokens of appreciation there to greet us, such as the personalized welcome note and beautiful bottle of local wine. The view of the bay from our room was unparalleled. The cozy fireplace a welcome addition; they even built the fire for us.
The afternoon wine reception in the drawing room was delightful and we thoroughly enjoyed partaking in the gorgeous wines and cheeses. The breakfast the next morning was fabulous; we especially loved the freshly made quiche and the fruit tasted freshly picked. A huge thank you to Inn Above Tide. We sincerely hope you’ll all take our recommendation and stay at this beautiful place when you’re in the area. Check out our video above for more about the glorious amenities of this delightful hotel.
Shira and Paul
June takes its name from Juno, the most important goddess in the Roman pantheon. Juno was called Hera by ancient Greeks and Uni or Cupra by the Etruscans, who once populated what is now Tuscany. She helped rule heaven alongside her husband, Jupiter. Juno, whose name means “vital force,” is the goddess of marriage, women, and new beginnings. The first day of every month also belongs to Juno.
New beginnings are also on our mind right now. La Jolla Wine Tours is growing to include San Diego Beer and Wine Tours as we expand and bring you the best wine AND beer throughout San Diego County! We’ll even have a online booking system on our website to show off to you soon. Follow us on Twitter to keep abreast of all the new happenings.
Incidentally, one of Juno's many aspects or epithets was known as Potina, the goddess of the act of drinking. We'll drink to that!
“Mr. and Mrs. Bliss, please follow me.”
With that, we were welcomed into a palace.
Paul Anthony, my partner in love and business, and I had a delightful Valentine’s dinner this year at the Addison Grand Del Mar. I've traveled all over the world and eaten many fine meals, but this was hands down the best meal I've ever had!
The first thing I noticed and loved was the quiet of the place. The Addison is large and spacious, with fireplaces in each room, an open floor plan, and a huge, exquisite wine cellar. Despite the size of the place, we were seated in a luxurious private booth and treated as if we were the only people there.
The wine director, Jesse Rodriguez, was brilliant, helping us choose our aperitif drinks and directing us through the menu. Because we felt very safe, in the capable hands of Jesse, we chose the added option to have each of our menu courses paired with wine, already planned ahead by their experts.
To begin with Chef William Bradley (of whom we became extremely fond of as the night went on) made us a gorgeous amuse bouche to delight our palate: a refreshing sweet champagne consommé with raspberries and actual gold slivers in it.
Before the first course we had beautiful canapés paired with a lovely glass of La Guita, Manzanilla, Sanlucar de Barrameda, Spain NV and Txomin Etxaniz, Hondarrabi Zuri, Pais Basco, Spain 2010
The first course consisted of fresh calamari with a red pepper confiture and wild arugula. For a first course we also enjoyed a buttery hamachi with champagne, cucumber and caviar. The hamachi was incredibly fresh and melted in my mouth.
The hamachi was paired with Weingut Ecker, Grüner Veltliner, "von Stokstal," Wagram, Austria 2010. The naturally high acid and full-bodied texture of the Veltliner made a perfect exotic pairing.
That course was followed by a creamy butter-baked St. Pierre with a citrus, vermouth and basil sauce served at the table. We also had a separate course of wild-caught king salmon on a bed of green apples, radish and dashi.
The creamy St. Pierre was perfected complimented with the crisp freshness of a glass of Domaine Leroy, Chardonnay, Burgundy, France 2006.
The king salmon was paired with Betts & Scholl, Marsanne / Rousanne, Hermitage Blanc, Northern Rhône, France 2004. This wonderful Hermitage presented rich aromas on the nose and earthy minerals on the palate. We felt this was a very good pairing indeed.
Still excited, we anticipated our next course with glee. We weren’t disappointed. We were presented with canard roti and bavette “en eschallotte.” The canard was the most tender juicy duck I've ever tasted. I especially loved how Chef William paired the succulent bird with sweet date morsels. Along with the canard and dates the dish had caramelized endive and ginger. What a delight.
The canard was paired with a glass of Salchetto, Colli Senesi, Chianti, Tuscany, Italy 2010. This fresh, vinous red was bursting with sweet red fruit which made it a great pairing with the duck.
As a separate course we were served BAVETTE “EN ESCHALLOTTE” a delightful shoulder of beef paired with cremini mushroom gratin, potato croquettes and port wine. The beef was cooked rare to perfection, and the little potato croquettes were light and fun and absolutely delicious!
The beef course was paired with Mamete Prevostini, Nebbiolo, “Botonero,” Lombardy, Italy 2009. This wine showed great freshness and a smooth mouth-feel for such a young nebbiolo. Paul and I both thought this pairing was wonderful.
Each course was served with a separate bread service. The warm brioche straight out of the oven were so enticing that Paul Anthony and I had two each.
After an artisan cheese course that included a wonderful goat cheese and a bleu cheese that had just the right amount of sharpness and sweetness, we cleansed our palate with lychee sorbet and passion fruit zabaglione.
The cheese course was paired with a beautifully light, dry Riesling: Weingut Hermann Dönnhoff, Riesling, "Estate," Nahe, Germany 2010.
Then it was time for dessert. I'm not a huge fan of chocolate cake but this cake was fit for royalty. Alongside this decadent slice of heaven was a crispy meringue just like my mum made for me in Ireland while I was growing up in the early 80s! And to top the meringue and cake was a raspberry, caramel sauce.
This lovely desert was paired with San Francisco Chronicle 2011 Wine Competition Award Winner Tom Eddy, Zinfandel, “Late Harvest,” Sierra Foothills, 2008.
We finished our noble dinner with an extra treat as Jesse brought us a gorgeous Sherry: Alvear, Pedro Ximenez, “Solera,” Montilla-Moriles, Spain 1927. This Sherry is a tasting sensation not to be missed by any wine lover who appreciates the beautiful richness of a well aged dessert wine.
We’re not going to tell you how much the bill was, but let’s just say it was close to a couple of car payments!
On our way out one of the lovely staff took our photo next to the roaring fire. They even had the menus and wine list in the car for us. And the treats kept coming…as we left they presented us with housemade shortbread wrapped with a ribbon. I enjoyed mine with my coffee the next morning. Now, the question is, how am I ever going to top that meal!
|Saint Patrick's Day is on its way, and it's bringing a brand-new BEER TRAIN TOUR with it! Come celebrate the luck of the Irish with us as we sample the best brews San Diego has to offer. And in keeping with St. Patty’s Day, Go GREEN by traveling with us on this exciting beer tour by train!|
Saint Patrick's Day commemorates the life of one of Ireland's patron saints. Here in the States, St. Patrick's Day is a party for two kinds of people –Irish and those who wish they were — and celebrated with green clothing, green beer, and traditional Irish food and music.
Side Note: Our founder Shira Bliss was born on St. Patrick’s Day in Belfast Northern Ireland!
The party doesn't stop at the border. Just a few miles south, Mexico celebrates its own version of Saint Patrick's Day. After Ireland's potato famine forced many Irish out of their home country, many went to the United States, joining the U.S. Army with the understanding that they would receive American citizenship for their service.
Some of those Irish soldiers were sent to fight in the Mexican-American war. Eventually, the soldiers balked at the idea of shooting Mexican soldiers, many of whom were the only friendly faces on the lonely and windblown border outposts. They defected to Mexico, where the soldiers of the Batallón de San Patricio fought against their former employers.
The United States rounded up and hanged most of these defectors, but Mexico still considers them heroes. To this day, you can find streets and towns named San Patricio and Obregon (O'Brien) and a Mexican flag flies in Galway, Ireland, to celebrate the enduring friendship between the two countries.
No matter what side of the border you're from, celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, or any day with us, and tip back a pint on our Beer Train Tour*.
Resident Journalist for San Diego Beer & Wine Tours
*Beer Train Tours run daily, year round, rain or shine.
The San Diego Beer and Wine Tours Team is thrilled to announce a new addition to our team! Stephen Ansley has just joined us and we couldn't be more pleased!
Stephen Ansley is well-known and respected in the local craft beer community, and a personal friend of many highly respected local brewers. As a recognized BJCP judge (since 2007), he has been a judge at several home brewing and commercial craft beer competitions in San Diego, as well as a judge at the Great Alaskan Beer & Barley Wine Festival in 2010 and a steward at the World Beer Cup in San Diego in 2008 (and will steward the upcoming World Beer Cup event in 2012).
In 2011, Stephen achieved certification for Level 2 Sommelier with the International Sommelier Guild and also completed the certificate program for the Business of Wine at San Diego State University’s College of Extended Studies.
Click here to read more about Stephen's accomplishments and career…
Welcome to the team Stephen!
Beer dinner at PB Ale House 12/8/11
This was an amazing meal with expert food pairings by the chef at PB Ale House. After being seated next to Karl, clearly a regular based on the number of hugs from the beautiful wait staff, and Ballast Point's very own sales person Laura Slayter, things got underway quickly. We were early so PB Ale House offered up a sampler of their own and for the life of me I cannot remember what it was, however it was a tasty start.
For the first course we got to dive into BP’s Abandon Ship Smoked Lager. Yum, it was hard to not drink it all before the food pairing arrived, but arrive it did and it paired nicely. It was a Brioche Monte Cristo with La Quercia Prosciutto and New York White Cheddar topped with a fried quail egg and maple thyme emulsion. “I could have this for breakfast” said my beloved Shira; I nodded in agreement as I placed another bite in my mouth followed by a dose of Abandon Ship Smoked Lager.
On to the Second course and a Collaboration Beer. This was a mix of Ballast Point's Big Eye IPA and PB AleHouse's Hopulent, a double IPA, infused with Ballast Point's Rum soaked oak chips. This was amazingly balanced and had a wonderful floral nose but didn’t taste overly hopped up. It paired well with the Frog More Stew which was a savory blend of tiger shrimp, andouille sausage, red potatoes and a roasted garlic crostini.
“Are you going to eat that sausage” I beckoned Laura, to my delight she replied, “No” and I consumed it much more slowly than I did the first one, wanting to stretch out the delicious enjoyment of the prized morsel.
With the arrival of the Third course we were blessed with a Barrel Aged Black Marlin Porter, and again I had to struggle to not drink it up before the food pairing came, in fact I hid it behind my water glass in order to avoid temptation, it was that good. Once the food arrived and I tasted how the pairings matched little hearts started to float up in the air around me, it was that scrumptious, I was in love. The porter paired well with the House Smoked Wild Mushroom Ragu served over a polenta cake with lemon thyme froth and chive oil drizzle, however I was enthralled with my new favorite in the county, maybe the world, Barrel Aged Black Marlin Porter!
For our Fourth course I gingerly sipped at the Habanera Sculpin IPA. I have tried this in the past and was put off by the shear heat of the burn on the back of my throat. Tonight I was in luck, the spice was nice, a bit more then subtle but not overpowering, and the Loch Durat Scottish Salmon with confit fingerlings and a crème fraiche orb was nice to pair with it as the spice in the beer brought up the mildness of the food dish and the food dish calmed the spice in the IPA, they canceled each other out and met in a sweet spot much like a perfect shore break wave.
I am not a huge dessert fan, and I am certainly not a lover of Crème Brulee, however the Fifth course beer, a Barrel Aged Victory at Sea Imperial Porter was paired with a Vanilla bean crème brulee with a Victory at Sea foam. The server literally whipped up a nice head on a pint of the porter and poured it over this rather light airy (not flan or pudding like) Crème Brulee. It was like a coffee cloud. Heaven.
We stayed a bit late and we were rewarded with a second tasting of the Victory at Sea, and now I am frantically trying to get my hands on more of that Barrel Aged Black Marlin Porter. See you at the brewery!
Paul Anthony, Tour Guide ( & COO of La Jolla Wine Tours)