Friday, September 28, 2012

This Just In! J's Nicole's Vineyard Pinot Noir Receives 91 From Top Wine Blog

Ken's Wine Guide is a great online resource for wine drinkers. It recently won the "Best Wine Reviews" category in the 2012 Wine Blog Awards, held in Portland, Oregon. 

So that made it extra delicious when Ken announced yesterday that our 2009 Nicole's Vineyard Pinot Noir had tied for first place in a big blind tasting, receiving a score of 91:
J Vineyards 2009 Pinot Noir "Nicole's Vineyard." (91) This Pinot from J was tied for first place in our big blind tasting. It is medium-bodied, nicely balanced, and smooth. It has pleasant black cherry flavors with hints of coffee, vanilla oak, and plum. The panel suggesting pairing it...with grilled striped bass or grouper with olive oil and sea salt. 
Our 2009 Nicole's Vineyard Pinot Noir is available for purchase in our online store. You can read the rest of the results of Ken's big blind tasting here.

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Save the Date! October 21st Pinot on the River Festival in Healdsburg, CA

Definitely save the date for this one. The incredibly fun Pinot on the River Festival is being held on Sunday, October 21st in charming downtown Healdsburg, where over 100 top West Coast producers including J Vineyards, of course will be pouring special, limited production Pinots. It's a fantastic day of casual tasting with lots of artisan food vendors participating, too. The $75 ticket covers everything and can be purchased online.

Here's what we'll be pouring that day:
  • 2009 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. This is a lush, full wine with all the expressiveness the Russian River Valley has to offer. You'll notice lovely clove and cocoa aromas when you sniff it, followed by substantial flavors of caramel, black spice, and cinnamon. This wine has great balance, with many people commenting on its long, elegant finish.

  • 2009 Nicole's Vineyard Pinot Noir. Big ribbons of gravel in the soil of Nicole's Vineyard stress the vines there in a way Pinot Noir grapes adore, producing intense flavors that gather nuance in the bottle. This Nicole's Vineyard Pinot delivers gorgeously earthy aromas of cocoa and mushroom, then flavors of dark plum and blackberry on the palate.  

  • J Brut Rosé. Since our sparkling J Brut Rosé is made mostly from Pinot Noir grapes, this will be a festie pour, too. The first thing you'll notice is beautiful bottle and color of the Brut Rosé, then crisp flavors of lemon peel, blood orange, and berries. You're going to love the Brut with some Hog Island oysters.  
By the way, the "river" part of "Pinot on the River" refers to the fact that Healdsburg, California is located in the Russian River Valley region of Sonoma County. The actual festival is held on Healdsburg's beautiful square, directly at the center of town.

Again, general entry tickets are $75 and with so many different producers pouring that day, that's a great deal. You can purchase tickets here. Join us!

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

This Just In! New J Gallery Inspires Guests to Make Their Mark

A beautiful new gallery at the J Vineyards Visitor Center tells the story of J’s founder, Judy Jordan, who in 1986 set out to create an exceptional California sparkling wine, then went on to develop award-winning Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris.

Judy is known for her optimism, passion, and inspiring effect on others, so the new gallery not only celebrates her life, it also celebrates and explores the topic of inspiration in general. Colorful quotes on leading a bold, inspired life are featured throughout the gallery, imparting a sense of Judy’s wit and sparkle.

At the end of the exhibit, guests encounter our playful “Make Your Mark” wall where they’re invited to write a few words about what inspires them in a graphic, oversized J bottle. The response has been tremendous so far and once full, we’ll be prominently featuring our guest-made creation so it can bring delight and inspiration to everyone who sees it.
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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fantastic Food-Wine Pairing Ideas Spotted on Twitter

J Vineyard fans are an incredibly fun, cultured bunch and lately they've posting some seriously scrumptious food-wine pairing ideas on social media. Here are three of our recent favorites: 
  • Westchester Wine Guy chirped, "Excellent meal at Ruby's in #Rye! Killer oysters & soft shell crab w/ risotto. Paired with J Vineyards Pinot Gris...good value @ $34/bottle." This Tweet sent us on a fevered Google hunt for Ruby's Oyster Bar & Bistro in Rye, New York an enclave 24 miles north of New York City. Ruby's garners raves on Yelp and hearing about their softshell crab risotto was almost enough to make us start packing a suitcase.

  • Julia Hull (who took the cool Instagram shot above) tweeted about a recent meal she made: "Turned out #Perfectly :) Had a 2007 Pinot Noir J Vineyards. Went well w/ apple slices then baked chicken & potatoes." Sounds September-iffic, Julia! We'd like to try that meal with our Russian River Valley Chardonnay, too. 
  • Robert M Parker Jr is a bona fide wine and food expert and when he recently tweeted about his favorite oysters it inspired us to chirp back, "The Kumamotos & Hama #Oysters are delectable, especially with a glass of J Winery Brut Rose, cheers!" We highly recommend Robert's Twitter feed as a source of inspiring food-wine pairings and he has a fantastic wine site, too. 
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Monday, September 24, 2012

Our Three Favorite Wines for Early Fall

The sunlight had a distinctly more golden cast in the Bay Area this weekend a signal fall had officially arrived. Everywhere freshly picked apples, peppers, and pumpkins filled produce stands especially in Half Moon Bay where autumn splendor was already in high gear, complete with hay mazes, haunted houses and even a Minotaur.

As menus, too, start to fill with fall flavors, we thought we'd highlight a few of our favorite wines for this time of year wines that retain a certain summery brightness, but easily stand up to the heartier flavors of fall.

  • 2010 J Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. With its gorgeous, ruby hue, our 2010 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir has a lot of vibrancy on the palate, but also a polished, autumnal complexity. Bright cherry aromas fill the glass, followed by September-friendly notes of toasted nutmeg and black clove with just a hint of smoke to presage October. Pairs beautifully with grilled Portobello, country ham, and duck confit.

  • 2010 J Chardonnay, Jewell Ranch Vineyard. Mineral and lemon zest flavors contain something of summertime but, the distinct spiciness of the Jewell Ranch Chard is what makes it pop so perfectly during the early days of fall. Balanced pear, vanilla, and butterscotch flavors, too, seem to usher in the new season with elegance. This wine pairs well with warm autumn salads, grilled salmon, and smoky chicken tacos. 

  • J Cuvee 20 Brut NV. The fall equinox is when light and dark are in perfect balance, as are the the ripe apricot and crushed hazelnut aromas of our J Cuvee 20 Brut NV. Initial bright citrus flavors give way to a long finish of Fuji apples and Bartlett pears -- mirroring summer's graceful abdication to fall. "Hits all the right notes," says the Wall Street Journal.  
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Friday, September 21, 2012

This Just In! Special Barrel Tasting Added to Tomorrow's Harvest Party

Great news! We've added a very special pre-release barrel tasting of our 2011 Robert Thomas Vineyard Pinot Noir to tomorrow's annual Harvest Party. This wine won't be released until next fall, so this is a rare preview of what's in store from this exceptional vineyard.

The Robert Thomas Vineyard is located at what's called the "elbow" of the Russian River Valley, which means it's practically a stone's throw away from the Pacific Ocean. As a result, it gets thick coastal fog during the wee hours and although the fog burns off by mid-day, Robert Thomas is still the coolest of all our vineyards by far. This coolness makes for gloriously long hang-time for the grapes, which means that extraordinary, complex flavors are allowed to develop.

Past Robert Thomas vintages have been known for rose petal and violet aromas that give way to complex tiers of berry, plus graceful tannins that carry through to a long, lush finish of caramel and vanilla. How will the 2011 vintage compare? Come to the party and find out!
There are still a few tickets available, so grab yours today. The J Culinary Team is busily preparing fantastic food-wine pairings in addition to the barrel tasting. Several of Sonoma County's finest artisan food purveyors will be on hand, too, including Jimtown Store, Friend in Cheeses Jam Company, Merchants & Millers, Bernier Farms, WholeVine Products, and more. 

If you can't make it to tomorrow's party but want to try the 2011 Robert Thomas Vineyard Pinot, we recommend joining Club J -- our wine club -- so you'll get first dibs when it's released next fall. 

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Bubble Room Named 'Unique Tasting Room Experience' by 7x7 Magazine

Flip through Spencer Spellman's recent stories for 7x7 Magazine and it becomes immediately clear he's a lover of the unexpected. Whether he's venturing to the state's most unusual accommodations or detailing the quirky attractions of Northern California, Spencer consistently uncovers juicy novelties for a cosmopolitan congregation of Bay Area sophisticates. 

Recently Spencer set himself the task of finding tasting room experiences that really stand out from the crowd, and we're tickled to report his top pick was The Bubble Room, our beautifully appointed full-service tasting salon here on the grounds of J Vineyards & Winery in Healdsburg, California. (Here's a 360 degree view of it.)

"Visitors get a much more personalized and tastier opportunity inside the Bubble Room," he writes of the three-course wine and peak season food pairing. "Give yourself a couple of hours for the tasting and consider a lunchtime visit, as the pairing serves as a light meal."  

Reservations are recommended for the Bubble Room. You can make a reservation request online here or just call 707-431-5430.

In other bubble-related news, our Vintage Brut is now a finalist for Snooth's 2012 Peoples' Voice Wine Awards in the "Best Super Premium Sparkling Wine" category. Vote before October 22nd.

Finally, if you're going to be in Sonoma County this Saturday, September 22nd, there are still a few tickets available to our annual Harvest Party, one of the best seasonal events in the region. Get yours today!

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Five Fun Things to Do in Sonoma This Weekend: Early Fall Edition

Here in Sonoma County the sleepy torpor of summer is slowly giving way to the ever-so-slightly snappier harvest season. Of course, some may not consider temperatures in the low 80's "snappy," but in a Mediterranean-esque climate, it feels like fall is at the doorstep. Harvest always brings a certain buzz to wine country, too, and there seem to be a million fun things going on in Healdsburg and environs this weekend, including lots of festivals. 

Here are five ways to be a part of the fun:
  1. Celebrate The Wine Harvest in Style. It's a well known fact that J Vineyards' annual Harvest Party is one of the best seasonal events in Sonoma County and features an inspirational tasting experience with our award-winning wines and seasonal hors d’oeuvres prepared by the J Culinary Team. Some of our favorite locale food purveyors will be bringing their goods, too, including WholeVine Products, Jimtown Store, Friend in Cheeses Jam Company, Merchants & Millers, Bernier Farms and more. Pick up your tickets while they're still available!

  2. Relax (and Maybe Rock Out a Little) on the River. The Russian River Jazz & Blues Festival affords one the genteel pleasure of sitting in a folding chair on the rivers' edge and enjoying main stage music from performers like George Thorogood, Taj Mahal, and Meklit Haderoon. Between sets, head to the wine garden for a more intimate music scene, plus dancing. There's even an "international food court." Another festival this weekend is the EarleFest Americana Festival in Santa Rosa featuring a hickory-smoked line up of national and regional Americana bands, plus edibles, wine, and beer.

  3. Enjoy Some Local Art. The Healdsburg Arts Festival features 70 of Northern California's best artists, plus live music, wine, and a children's art zone. All artists will be on hand and their unique work is available for purchase.

  4. Bask in Books.There's also the Sonoma County Book Festival, held in downtown Santa Rosa's Courthouse Square. Each year thousands of book lovers return to hear an array of nationally acclaimed and locally treasured authors and browse a huge assortment of books under the welcoming white tents.

  5. Learn to Make Burrata. Relish Culinary Adventures in Healdsburg has some fantastic classes available and this weekend Chef John Franchetti leads a hands-on workshop where guests will learn to stretch fresh Mozzarella, make Burrata, and incorporate them in a fantastic wood-fired dinner. All guests will get a chance to stretch, make, and bake including mini Burratas and wood-fired pizza. We hear there's lots of "mmmm" and "yumming" at this class.
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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

This Just In! J's 2010 Freestone Pinot Noir Gets a 92 from Wine Spectator

Wine Spectator Senior Editor James Laube tastes over 5,000 wines every year. He's written for Wine Spectator for over 30 years and has covered California wines exclusively for over 20 years. To say he has an educated palate would be a gross understatement, so when he sits down to taste one of our wines, we are all ears

What's been swirling around in Laubes' glass most recently is J Vineyards' soon-to-be-released 2010 estate grown Pinot Noir, sourced entirely from the renowned Freestone Hill Vineyard.

 We're thrilled to announce he's given it a score of 92.
“Pleasantly supple and elegant, offering complex tiers of ripe cherry, wild berry and raspberry, with a underlying minerality and spiciness that's compelling."

That underlying spiciness he mentioned is known as the "Freestone Spice," a complex set of coriander and violet notes imparted by the remarkable terroir of this wonderful vineyard.

This wine is in pre-release status, but if you sign up for our email list, we'll let you know when it's out! (Don't worry, we don't over-mail.) 

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Inspiring Picnic Spot of the Week: Caldwell Lily Pool in Lincoln Park, Chicago

Strong, early autumn storms are visiting much of the nation this week, but just behind them are the last tender morsels of summer clear skies and temperatures in the low-to-upper 70's, assembling themselves as the last course in a seasonal feast. Our advice is to hunt-or-gather up some favorite picnic fare, pick a choice spot, then head directly there as soon as weather permits. The last slice of summer is the most delicious.

Nestled in the vastness of  a lush public green and surrounded by high walls, Caldwell Lily Pool in Lincoln Park, Chicago is just one such spot our inspiring picnic spot of the week. The entrance is so subtle that many miss it, but if you walk to the Fullerton underpass (toward the beach) and spot a small, subtle Japanese gate, you'll know you're on the right track. Once past the gate, American White Birch, Hawthorne, and ornamental crabapple trees line your path each used in sequence to draw your eye to the central structure, poised stag-like at the water's edge.

Magical, silent, holy. These are some of the words visitors use to describe Architect Alfred Caldwell's
tribute to the Prairie School style and mentor, Frank Lloyd Wright.  Horizontal lines were thought to evoke the native prairie landscape and Caldwell's large, stone slabs meet seamlessly with their surroundings creating perfect, sun-warmed platforms for spreading out a blanket and reading a book or enjoying simple repast of fruits, nuts, cheese, bread, and wine. When you're finished, butterflies, dragonflies, and over 200 species of birds will be there to escort you gently into the new and cooler season.

If you happen to be in Northern California, the J Terrace, too, is an elegant and pastoral place to soak in the late September sun. Sitting on our warm patio near a gently flowing creek you'll share a platter of peak season foods accompanied by carefully selected J wine pairings. Click here for cost and reservation information. 
Lincoln Park Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, Fullerton Pkwy and Cannon Drive Chicago, IL 60689 
J Terrace at J Vineyards & Winery 11447 Old Redwood Highway  Healdsburg, CA 95448

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