Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nathan OUTloud #13 | Gay Wine Weekend (Crosspost from NathanOUTloud.com)

Click here to download Episode 13 on iTunes. Don't forget to subscribe!
In conjunction with WinePHX.com, a newly created wine blog, I continue my series and in episode 13, you hear my interview with the organizers of the very first Gay Wine Weekend, in Sonoma, California. Mark Vogler and Gary Saperstein are the founders of Out in the Vineyard and have put together a line-up of events, special guests and host wineries, that cannot be missed.

Gay Wine Weekend kicks off Friday, June 17th, with a VIP Reception at the host hotel, MacAurther Place and is open to all VIP All-Access ticket holders. Following the reception, Gay Comedy Night will be held at the Sonoma Community Center. All proceeds benefit the Sonoma Community Center.

The events continue on Saturday, with the premier event of the weekend - The Twilight T-Dance. A benefit for Face to Face, Sonoma County AIDS Network - this event will feature over a dozen participating wineries, under the stars and Out in the Vineyard at Atwood Ranch.

The weekend wraps up on Sunday morning with the Big Gay Brunch and Wine Auction. This event is also for VIP All-Access ticketholders and will also benefit Face to Face, Sonoma County AIDS Network.

For more details on Out's in the Vineyard's very first Gay Wine Weekend, visit www.outinthevineyard.com and don't forget to follow my new blog at www.WinePHX.com

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to contact me at comments@nathanoutloud.com. You can also call the Nathan OUTloud comment line at (209) 202-3688 (209.20.BeOUT)

Follow me on twitter at @nathanoutloud & join me on the Nathan OUTloud facebook fan page.

Come OUT | Be OUT | Live OUTloud™

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ceja Vineyards | 2007 Carneros Pinot Noir

The minute I opened the bottle of 2007 Carneros Pinot Noir, I knew we had another winner. In the glass, the color and clarity are impeccable. Red ripe cherry color, that has both depth and also a softness to it, that you don't always find. The nose on this Pinot Noir bursts with fruit and earthiness. much like my description of the Ceja Chardonay, it is abundantly clear that at Ceja Vineyards, it is all about the fruit. Fresh strawberries and darker fruits give this wine an accessibility with food that make for very easy pairing. Add to that the subtle spice and herbs of the Pinot Noir grape, and you will be hard pressed to find a food that this wine doesn't compliment.

The smooth and balanced textures of this wine linger with each sip, giving it a finish that I am sure many winemakers wish they could accomplish in their wines. Winemaker Armando Ceja has created another masterpiece, or should I say, he has let incredible fruit produced by Ceja, become the a masterpiece by letting nature take its course.

(This wine was generously provided by Ceja Vineyards as a tasting sample.)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Gay Wine Weekend 2011 | Where to Stay?

Gay Wine Weekend has teamed up with some great properties in Sonoma and the surrounding areas as Official Host Hotels. MacArthur Place Hotel and Spa is just minutes from Sonoma's historic Plaza and is offering special rates for June 17-19. MacArthur Place will also host the VIP Reception on Friday night from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm for All-Access VIP ticket holders. For booking info or to make your reservation, call 800) 722-1866 and mention Gay Wine Weekend. You can also check out the property and other details at www.macarthurplace.com

Also playing host to Gay Wine Weekend is a Santa Rosa historic landmark, Flamingo Conference Resort and Spa. Just 30 minutes north of downtown Sonoma, Flamingo Resort offers the classic charm of the resort hotels of the 1950s and all the contemporary amenities, including a world class health club and spa. It is the perfect location for exploring Northern California’s premier Wine Country in Sonoma and Napa. For more information, visit www.flamingoresort.com or call (707) 545-8530
In addition to the host hotels, there are two partner hotels that are offering special packages for Gay Wine Weekend!

The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort and Spa is nestled in Sonoma Valley and just minutes from everything that Sonoma has to offer. It is also conveniently located for easy access to Napa and is less than an hour north of San Francisco. The Lodge is offering the "Living Out Proud" package which includes: Cottage room, Breakfast for 2 daily, Sparkling wine upon arrival and 2 daily spa passes. To book this package visit www.thelodgeatsonoma.com and once you have entered your reservation dates, click on the "Room Packages" tab at the top. You can also call (707) 935-6600 and ask for the "Living Out Proud" package.
If you plan on gathering a group of friends and prefer to stay in a villa for Gay Wine Weekend, BeautifulPlaces specializes in vacation rentals throughout the wine country ranging from cozy vineyard cottages to hilltop estates. Recognized as one of the world’s best villa specialists by Passport, Travel & Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, and Robb Report, BeautifulPlaces will provide complimentary tickets to the Twilight T Dance with rentals of 3 or more nights. To book your stay, call (800) 495-9961 or visit the BeautifulPlaces website.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Out in the Vineyard | Gay Wine Weekend 2011

Out in the Vineyard, the very first Gay Wine Weekend will take place June 17-19, 2011 in Sonoma, California. Mark Vogler and Gary Saperstien organized the first Gay Napa Wine Train and realized that Wine Country was really missing an opportunity to host a Gay Wine Weekend, or possibly eventually a week-long event, much like Aspen Ski Week.

California Wine Country offers an incredibly unique lifestyle. Less than an hour outside of San Francisco, Sonoma is an escape from the urban life. A slower pace, breath-taking landscapes and amazing wine, Sonoma makes for the perfect host city to Gay Wine Weekend. Last year at an LGBT event, the mayor of Sonoma came to announce a proclamation that was unanimously passed by the Sonoma City Council that declared the city of Sonoma as an LGBT tourist destination. Sonoma has opened up to welcome the LGBT community and provide an Wine Country experience that is second to none.

Gay Wine Weekend will consist of events throughout the weekend, starting with a VIP Reception on Friday night, June 17th. This event is available for attendees that purchase the VIP All-Access tickets. Following the reception is An Evening of Gay Comedy at the Sonoma Community Center featuring Judy Tenuta. Individual tickets are available to this event, which benefits the Community Center. Additional acts including Katya Smirnoff-Skyy, Janine Brito, Scott Silverman and Dave Karraker have been recently announced, making for a full night of laughs.

Before the events resume Saturday night, attendees are free to roam Sonoma, visiting wineries and taking in the beautiful sites of Sonoma and the surrounding areas. Saturday night, the Twilight T-Dance at the beautiful Atwood Ranch benefits Face-to-Face, Sonoma County AIDS Network. At the T-Dance, the host wineries will be pouring their wines from 7:00 - 10:00 pm. Those host wineries include, Poem Cellars, Benziger Family Winery, Gloria Ferrer, Audelssa Estate, Deerfield Ranch Winery, Enkidu, Eric Ross Wines, Imagery Estate Winery, Loxton Cellars, Sojourn Cellars, St. Francis Winery & Vineyards and Westwood Winery. In the coming weeks, WinePHX will be tasting and posting reviews of the wines you will be able to taste/drink that night.

Gay Wine Weekend wraps up Sunday with the Brunch and Auction which is also open to those holding VIP All-Access tickets. This brunch and auction will also benefit Face-to-Face, providing much needed funds for the Sonoma County AIDS Network.

If you are interested in attending the very first Gay Wine Weekend, more details and tickets can be found at www.outinthevineyard.com and follow them on twitter @OutInVineyard.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ceja Vineyards | 2008 Carneros Chardonnay

An interesting thing happened when I opened the 2008 Carneros Chardonnay from Ceja Vineyards, poured it into my glass and took a nice long whiff - I wasn't hit with an oaky, butter bomb! Now I will be the first to admit that I am not a fan of what some California Chardonnays have become - I feel it has become more about what process the winemakers are using to make the wine, as opposed to letting the fruit really guide the process. As with other Ceja wines I have tasted, this wine is all about the fruit, and not just the juice that has been barreled, but the care that goes into growing a grape that makes great wine.

This Chardonnay highlights the true characteristics of the fruit and the vineyard. From the crisp nose, that presents pretty distinct citrus, as well as a fresh, ripe pear. And that is just the beginning of what this wine has to offer. The palate on this wine is very complex, despite of the fact that the wine-making process did not include malolactic fermentation, which generally gives Chards their body and structure, providing the deep buttery taste and texture. For a wine this crisp, the structure is incredibly balanced and also lingers in the mouth. This fullness is achieved by a 9 month French barrel sur lie aging process, leaving you with a rich wine, that is all about the fruit.

As I am pretty sure the Ceja's would recommend, I had this wine with a plate of slightly spicy chicken fajitas, some flavorful Mexican rice and guacamole. The slight sweetness of the wine, worked beautifully with the spicy dish. This truly is a wine I could drink all summer.

(This wine was generously provided by Ceja Vineyards as a tasting sample.)