Monday, April 30, 2012

Celebrating 7 Years

May 2005, first Photo on the Blog...Henley and Ali
A very Happy Anniversary indeed! Seven big years of wine sales, marketing and blogging...

May 2012 marks year 7 for the TexaCali Wine Trail.  The fact that I'm writing this from where I left my heart in 2004 - Northern California - is thrilling for me.   When I began writing in 2005, only a few handfuls of folks were even blogging about wine! Well, instead of filling this post full of boring stats and braggadocios blah blah blah, I just want to say thanks.

"Emotionally, I know I've made a great decision starting this venture - my heart and brain are soo connected when it comes to the promotion of great wine in the state of Texas. Thanks to all of you that have supported my dream "start-up" within this the low-tech, old-school wine industry. Good people hang together." -  I wrote in May of 2005. 

My Heartfelt Thanks to...

The family farmers and grape growers who allow me to have a thriving career in the business of wine.  If it weren't for your land, your hands in the dirt and your passion for growing grapes I would most likely be living in the concrete jungle of NYC on a life-long quest to find my passion.  Yeah, I almost took at job in 1999 to run online marketing for the Cartoon Channel of all things!  Thank you for giving me a reason to get up every morning to keep the wines moving forward everyday.

All the wine producers I've been so honored to help over the past 7 years.  Your skills, determination and quest to create outstanding wines have filled me with life's riches.  I am thrilled to have made a difference for you over the years while running TexaCali Wine Company.  We've lived through many great accomplishments together.  

Susana Balbo and Ali in 2005 in Mendoza
I will forever be grateful for my winery relationships formed all over the world. Sipping 65 year old bottles in France, pruning vines in California's Russian River Valley while laughing at the symphonies of frogs cheering us on, chowing on the best paella EVER in the middle of Spain, touring wasabi farms in Japan, and one I will never forget -  my historic car ride & deep chat with pioneering winemaker Susan Balbo one afternoon driving through a potato field at the base of the Andes. Hundreds if not thousands of meaningful memories are held so very dear. The heart of our business is about people, something that will never change, I am soooo grateful for this. 

My dear wine-pro friends in this crazy wine business.  I'm proud to have worked side-by-side with driven, honest and real wine professionals, especially those who work so damn hard to make Texas a better wine drinking state! It takes all of us to create success for the wineries we represent together - Farm to Table!  I am so very thankful for everyone who respects their position in our industry and takes care of business the right way.

Olivet Lane tasting in Whole Foods
The amazing TexaCali Inner Circle. Without your enthusiasm and continued support for all things TexaCali Wine Company, none of my success would have ever happened. The greatest memories over the years have been due to you - you showing up at events, receiving emails from you about wines you tried and loved, you spreading the word to all your wine loving friends and family about the producers of TexaCali Wine Co. You are the reason wineries continue to thrive, send their kids to college and keep their dreams alive.  Thank you for making choices to buy wine from family and independent producers from all over the world. Your dollars do keep these families in business!

One thing I've truly learned over the past 7 years...yes, dreams do come true, but "living the dream" does not come easy, it's relentless hard work each and every day.  Making my dream profession of selling and marketing wine that much sweeter as the years go by. I've grown and am so thankful for this lesson learned, no longer chasing the dream but making them come true.

So big changes ahead, I'm happily hanging up my TexaCali Wine Co. hat to bring the magic of Brack Mountain Wine Company (new website will go live within days!) to the world.  A serendipitous opportunity with terrific people that I've certainly dreamed of for a long time...we are creating something new in this historic business together, it's a tremendous portfolio of small lot, hand-crafted and beautiful California wines made by an ambitious and skillful winemaker and all around terrific person - Dan Fitzgerald.  Keep an eye on Dan and our wines of Brack Mountain Wine Company folks, we're just getting started. 

What about Wine Country Connect (Wine.Woot! and Rue La La), yes, I believe in these unique direct to consumer wine channels and think these channels play a very smart role in marketing wine, I will remain an ambassador.  As far as this blog is concerned,  I'll continue to post wine and food adventures all along the way on the TexaCali Wine Trail, which has remained organic in nature with a consistent voice of simply sharing with others who also love all things WINE. Thanks being here!

Livin' the Dream and Forever Grateful.

Cheers, TexaCali Ali 

(twitter, facebook, pinterest, instagram - you can find me here as well!) 

Friday, April 27, 2012

A reasoned fight tonight

So much going on this weekend in the Food and Wine World. Yet, I look forward to relaxing at home over the next few days and soaking up some warm spring sunshine.  

To start the weekend off right, I pulled a bottle of 2010 Domain Alain Normand Macon la Roche Vineuse out of our wine fridge (fancy wording for "fridge in the garage").  I highly recommend this easy drinking and bright fruited Chardonnay from Mâconnais - for under $20!  Imported by Vintage59 and I think I picked this up at The Austin Wine Merchant a few weeks ago. Simply delicious alongside crisp crackers and fresh goat cheese (Redwood Hill Farm - our new neighbors at the Brack Mountain Wine Company winery).

An interesting story about the family from the Vintage59 website: Alain Normand is a grower in the Mâconnais who began his career by taking over an abandoned vineyard with a métayage contract, a common agricultural practice in France whereby the landlord is paid in wine. Today, Alain works the vineyards, makes the wine, and sells off the landlord's portion to négociants. He keeps the finest for himself. His wife Sylvaine handles the office work when she’s not handling the two children. Theirs is a typical family domaine operation.

Most importantly...

He farms according to the pragmatic principles of lutte raisonnée, or reasoned fight. He plows his vineyards rather than using herbicides, and he doesn’t use pesticides or chemical fertilizers. In every way, his methods are the antithesis of the cooperatives whose wines dominate the Mâcon trade.

Cool. Cheers to a great weekend out there - Ali

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

It's been a little too busy...

but no complaints other than CRAZED Mockingbirds chirping all night long at my house!  A few great moments over the past 10 days or so...

Click to enlarge, magical shot of the shadow of the Bay Bridge at Dawn

K&L San Francisco Tour de France - Chateau de Mountfaucon
Kermit Lynch Imports (always good to see Adam in Action!).

One of my very favorite Rose Producers - Beaune Imports
Foggy Sunday Morning on the Golden Gate Bridge  

Jon David Headrick Selections @ K&L Wines
Congrats to Marcus Mumford on gettin' hitched last weekend!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Cyrus in Healdsburg

A little behind today so I'll will post details of the night shortly.  For now this is the precious '76 S.A. Prum Graacher Himmelreich Berenauslese that was outstanding with the Fois Gras during - just one of our 8 courses throughout the dinner. Delicious details coming soon  - Ali

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A little liquid therapy perhaps?

This just in...Please drop by The Wine Therapist in Lakewood tomorrow night to try a few of the new small-lot wines produced by Brack Mountain Wine Company .  Can't wait to see everyone from my old Dallas Hood!  Pulling corks on these beauties...

2011 Origine Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley

2010 L'Oliveto Chardonnay, Russian River Valley

2011 Origine Rose of Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

2010 Bench Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast

2010 L'Oliveto Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

2008 Enos "Girasole" (Sangiovese/Cab blend) Chalk Hill & Dry Creek AVA.

2009 Bench Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley

2008 Enos Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Valley

6-9pm & $5 a person.  See you tomorrow night!! Cheers, Ali

Monday, April 09, 2012

Women in Wine

Hometown edition Ya'll!  Please join me and Sommelier Jenny Kornblum at Grace downtown Fort Worth this Wednesday from 4-7pm for the Women in Wine tasting.   I'll be showing off the new wines of Brack Mountain Wine Company - L'Oliveto, Bench and Enos Vineyards to be exact. It's a causal come & go, $10 a person -  can't wait to see and catch up with many of you and meet some new fans of Brack Mountain Wine Company. Might even see some Wooters! & fans of the weekly Rue La La wine boutique at the bar with me. Oh and then there's one helluva Wine Dinner with Napa's Miner Family at Grace to follow - so fun. Cheers to gathering at Grace & Women in Wine! Ali

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Wine of the Week Ahead

2011 Origine Rosé of Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

Varietal- 100% Pinot Noir

Vineyard- We sourced this Rosé of Pinot Noir from each of our three Russian River Valley vineyard sites: Umino Vineyard south of Sebastopol, the Dutton’s Thomas Road Vineyard in Green Valley, and the Tobias Glenn Vineyard in northwestern Russian River Valley.
Yield: 3 tons/acre.

Vintage- 2011 was one of the coolest growing seasons of the last century. For earlier ripening varietals like Pinot Noir this dramatically extended hang time.  The resulting juice was high in acid, low in sugar and packed with flavor, perfect for making not just great Pinot Noir but great rosé as well.

Fermentation- The Pinot Noir was destemmed and moved into fermentation tanks, then a small percentage of juice was bled off.  Most of the bleed off juice was transferred for fermentation into a stainless steel tank, with a portion in placed in neutral oak barrels. The wine was bottled as soon as it settled post fermentation to preserve its vibrant freshness.

Harvest Date: September 24th-- 28th, 2011 Winemaker: Dan Fitzgerald Yeast: Proprietary Cooperage & Aging: Stainless steel & with a portion in neutral French oak Bottling: January 2012 Production: 300 cases Final Technical Information: pH: 3.22   TA: .73   Alc: 13.2%

Sensory Notes: This wine is treated delicately throughout fermentation, and the subtle hue of coppery pink is one result. The nose greets with watermelon rind, fraises de bois and a hint of black tea.  The palate is racy, with refreshing acidity tempered by a supple, creamy mouthfeel.  The finish is focused and dry yet full of ripe strawberry and cucumber.  

Retail Price: $20

ALSO AVAILABLE IN WINE KEGS  * Produced by Brack Mountain Wine Company

Oh I do love this Pink Wine! Cheers to a great week ahead everyone! - Ali

Friday, April 06, 2012

Easter Sunday

I stopped for a quick taco in Sonoma last week at Juanita Juanita - (always on the hunt for a good taco). Chatting with a local sitting next to me at the counter "so any plans for Easter?" he asked.  

My immediate thought was what wines to pair with Easter Brunch, but kept that to myself and told him I was heading back to Texas to see my nephews. "What's a typical Texas Easter meal?",  the chatty local asked next.  So I went on to tell him that growing up Easter was a really big deal. It meant 1) I got to shop for a fancy new dress 2) eat Easter Candy before Church on Sunday 3) pig-out on a big Southern lunch of baked ham, mashed potatoes, deviled eggs and yeast rolls.

Oh and then there was also the "sweet tea" in it's original form. Grandmother brewed this in a usual manner and added a scoop or 3 of sugar right before it started cooling down.  This was the biggest treat really, my parents never ever let us drink it, so candy + glasses of tea guaranteed a fun day no matter how long the church service ran (and how big of a mess it was to get out of the parking lot on Easter Sunday).

So cheers to a fun Easter Sunday everyone, I'll be skipping the sweet tea for a few glasses of great wine this year.  Thinking of pouring the following wines to be exact: 

2010 L'Oliveto RRV Chardonnay, 2010 Handley Cellars Anderson Valley Estate Chardonnay & my very last bottle of the 2007 LIOCO Charles Heintz Late Harvest Chardonnay - liquid Peeps! 

Cheers to Mom for scanning this old photo of my brother and me on Easter Sunday around 1980! Ha.  - Ali