Winery Program

Cannonball Wine Company—Scavenger Hunt

For our March Winery Webinar with Cannonball Wine Company, winemaker Ondine Chattan invited every member to participate in a “Scavenger Hunt.” Ondine would award the winner of this “hunt” with a special gift. A series of questions were posed about her winery, with the answers to be learned from Ondine’s presentation or information to be researched and submitted online. Several members participated and found the answers about the Cannonball and Angels & Cowboys wine brands and related winery questions. Attendees also heard about the High Dive Napa Valley collaboration between Share A Splash and the Astrolabe brand from New Zealand, two exciting additions to the wine company.

One member’s knowledge came out above the rest—Kevin Coy. Congratulations, Kevin, we are confident that your special gift is on its way.

– Leslie Hodowanec, Director
– Rich Skoczylas, Director & Winery Program Chair

OCWS Winery Webinar—Mineral Wines Winemaker

Friday, February 12, 2021 @ 6:30 pm

Via Zoom Webinar Platform

Brett met future wife Andrea Henkel in 1993 while working at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite Valley. Brett was not much of a wine drinker back then, but Andrea cured him of that, introducing him to red wine. Andrea’s family had just planted a small vineyard, and after Brett and Andrea were married in 1995, Brett decided to forgo his college studies for Hospitality Management and changed majors to Enology and Viticulture. As he worked his way through college, Brett continued to work as Sommelier and/or manager at several upscale restaurants while attending Fresno State University, earning his degree in Viticulture and Enology in 2003. Upon moving back home to the small gold rush town of Angels Camp, Brett assumed management of the family’s four acre Cherokee Creek Vineyard, which originally grew exclusively Merlot grapes. When a movie with an unmentionable name decimated demand for Merlot grapes, Brett grafted three acres of the vineyard to Roussanne, Viognier, and the specialty of the vineyard, Petite Sirah. These are the grapes that now define the Mineral Wines’ brand! For the first three years of business starting in 2012, wine tasting was offered on the patio overlooking the grounds of the estate. In winter, room was made to taste inside the barn among the barrels. It was a very small operation and has grown to now making about 1,800 cases a year.  

About the Winemaker—Brett Keller:

A Unique Philosophy of Winemaking:

Brett’s lovely wife Andrea loved to travel to the Napa Valley to taste the great Cabernets back in the day. She always encouraged Brett to make 3 or 4 wines that were always top quality, in the tradition of Caymus and Silver Oak. Brett’s answer to this was to make no less than a dozen different varieties, all small production between 40 and 150 cases of each. You will hear him say “I did not spend six years in college to only master a few wines—I worked to master every wine I could make!”  

Brett’s style of winemaking focuses on two things: First, EVERY wine must taste as the variety should. Therefore each wine has to be made in a way that the varietal character speaks loudly. Barbera should NOT taste like Zinfandel. This means that every wine must be made individually. Yeasts, barrels and different vineyards are selected for each variety according to what it will do for the characters of the wine. Many vintners just do not understand that to give wines their individual identity you cannot make them the same way with the same barrels, yeasts, and cellar treatment. 

The second key to the success of Mineral Wines is to make these wines distinctively California in style. California makes arguably the best wines in the world. In Calaveras County, we have a predictably long, dry harvest season which yields fully-ripe grapes with rich fruit flavors that make big, fruit forward wines. The thought is this … to make a great wine memorable it takes time. Yup, the longer you can taste it the better impressed is the wine lover. Big, rich wines that carry varietal character inherent to the grape are our specialty. 

Is it Science or Art?

One other thing, it takes an artist to make great wine. An artist has tools to make something beautiful. Whether a painter with their art palette of colors to mix and different media to make a beautiful painting—or a chef with their spices and different techniques to make great food. Science is the language of the art of making wine. Different yeasts, barrels, grapes, clones of grapes, climate change, smoke during harvest, viticulture practices, and too many more tools to mention all contribute to the essence of great wine. These all interact to make something beautiful, to create an experience like no other, when the fruit of the vine is crafted and nurtured to give pleasure in its enjoyment.

Wines:

· 2017 Cabernet Franc $32

· 2016 Meritage $32

· 2016 Merlot $28

Log in to Mineralwines.com and use Promo Code OCWS20 at checkout for 15% off the tasting package above. Brett is also offering discounts as follows: 20% off for 6-11 bottles of current releases and 25% off for a case or more bottles purchased, including “Library” wines. All shipping is half-price. Remember, members will have to sign up on the OCWS website for the Winery Webinar to watch via Zoom. Buying the wines does not automatically sign you up for the webinar. If you have any questions, contact Les@ocws.org.

We have adjusted the content of this presentation to three bottles. A five-bottle blending webinar viewed at multiple households online present certain challenges in judging the winner. Brett is creating a blending video available for future viewing and will be presenting a blending demonstration at a Courtyard Seminar at the OC Fair in the future.  

Cheers! Looking forward to seeing all of you online.

– Liz Corbett, Contributing Writer

Shauna Rosenblum, a Legacy of Her Own

The Orange County Wine Society is greatly honored to have Shauna Rosenblum, winemaker and President of Rock Wall Wine Company, as our Virtual Winery Program presenter on January 22. As most of our members well know, Shauna comes with a history of wine in her blood as the daughter of well-loved and sorely missed veteran OC Fair Commercial Wine Competition judge, Kent Rosenblum, founder of Rosenblum Cellars. Today, Shauna heads up the Rosenblum family venture, Rock Wall, with the mission of having fun, while making the best wines from the best regions and sharing the experience with others.

Shauna, now also a veteran judge at the OCWS-run OC Fair Wine Competition, is creating her own legacy with award-winning wines such as her 2016 and 2017 Zinfandels which both garnered Gold medals at the 2019 commercial competition, followed by her 2017 Cabernet Franc, 2015 Syrah and 2015 Tannat all taking Silver.

Shauna was interviewed by Alameda Magazine in September of 2019 and has graciously consented to allow us to publish a portion of that interview for our members in our Wine Press. Following are excerpts from that interview that, interestingly and entertainingly, ask some out of the norm questions and give us a little more insight into a great winemaker’s passion and thinking:

“What’s the major difference between you and your dad’s winemaking styles?

I think my style is a little bit lighter and a little bit more restrained than my dad’s. He was definitely picking [grapes] based on ripeness and wanted to have alcohol content and maybe a little residual sugar, where what’s really important to me is the flavor in the wine, balance, and acidity. If a wine doesn’t have acidity, I don’t think it’s a successful wine. Acidity is the portion where when you put the wine in your mouth and your mouth waters. So for me, the wine has to have great aromatics. It has to be well balanced, but it has to have a really beautiful mouthfeel too.

Beer is having a huge moment. What can winemakers learn from brewmeisters?

As a lot of millennials are becoming winemakers, I feel we’re very cognizant of the fact that beer labels are a lot more fun than wine labels. So, I think my generation is really trying to make wine a little bit more casual, a little bit more approachable, and make it fun. I mean, wine is really fun.

What about canned wine? It’s out there, but are you ready to embrace it?

I think it’s a pretty genius approach to people who have active lifestyles. Millennials are all about the experience of going to the beach, or hiking, or this, that, or the other thing. It’s not always super convenient to lug a bottle of wine with you. So, I think cans are becoming really popular. I have yet to put wine in a can because I was waiting for the first generation of people putting wine in a can to figure it out. I think we’re almost there, so once the industry hits a healthy decision about canning wine, I would love to put some rosé in a can.

I remember when screw caps first came out in wine 15, 20 years ago, and people were horrified. Eventually they came around, and now Australia uses almost exclusively screw caps. All of my white wines except Chardonnay are in screw caps. It’s a convenient way to go, but the technology initially for screw caps was pretty bad. They were putting screw caps on the wine without the protective liner. Basically, people were figuring it out. So, I’m waiting for other people to figure it out so I can jump on the technology and do it right the first time.

How do you learn how to recognize notes of cinnamon, asparagus or whatever while imbibing a vintage? Is that even something the average wine drinker needs to worry about?

It’s super subjective. Basically, anything you read coming out of Rock Wall, I wrote. The tasting notes are something that are incredibly subjective because that’s what I smell and I taste in the wine that I’m making. Some people may smell and may taste those same things, but tasting is so personal, and some people don’t care at all. “Blackberry? I don’t get blackberry in this.” That’s OK. I think one of the best things going about wine tasting is you can’t be wrong. If you say, “This wine smells exactly like my grandmother’s attic,” there is nobody on Earth who can dispute that. If it smells like that to you, then that’s what it smells like.

There might be nobody on Earth who would want to drink it either. How was your palate trained?

My dad was training my palate my whole life. We would be camping in our vineyard when I was five or six years old, and we’d be roasting marshmallows. He’d grab a graham cracker and some marshmallows. We’d roast the marshmallows and put it on the graham cracker with the chocolate, and he’d say, “Smell that. That smells like an American oak barrel.” We’d put some fruit on the s’more and he’d say, “Smell that. That American oak barrel and those berries, that smells like Zinfandel.”

Just my whole life, everything was all about, “Smell this. Experience this. What does it smell like? Does it smell like fresh strawberries, strawberry jam? Does it smell like stewed strawberries? Does it smell like dehydrated strawberries?” So really deconstructing aromas in everyday life definitely informs the way we taste and interpret wine.

It is fascinating to see how some people do interpret drinking wine, and some people are like, “I don’t smell any of that, but I like the way it tastes.” That’s really all you need to know.”

As the winemaker at Rock Wall since 2008, Shauna’s wines have earned many 90+ point scores from such notable publications as Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast and Connoisseur’s Guide to California Wine. She was also recognized as one of the “Top 10 Female Winemakers in California” by Haute Living in 2017 and in 2018 was recognized as one of the “40 under 40” by Diablo Magazine, as one of the “Top 10 Spirited Women in the Bay Area” and was featured in the CBS special, “Women in Wine.” If these accolades are not enough to encourage you to reserve a spot for her presentation, then I suggest, if you are not already familiar with Rock Wall wines, you place an order, do some tasting, and confirm that attending this Virtual Winery Program is a MUST.

For information regarding sign-ups, please see the Winery Webinar Program article in this issue of The Wine Press. If you have any questions, contact Rich@ocws.org.

– Fran Gitsham, Contributing Writer

Big Nose Wine Sale

As a continuation of our November Winery Webinar, Big Nose Winery has offered our members a special sale. They are offering our members a 25% discount on all their wines. […]
This post is only available to members.

Slip in Virtually to the Fall OCWS Winery Webinars

As you may recall, due to the COVID-19 pandemic we had to cancel two excellent and highly anticipated events as part of our regular 2020 Winery Program. We will now be evolving into conducting the OCWS Winery Program virtually! We anticipate starting this program in the fall of this year. You will be able to view each seminar presentation using the Zoom virtual platform from the comfort of your own home. You will learn about each winery and the wines they produce. Members will have the option to purchase the wines. As our planning progresses, we will keep you updated.

– Leslie Hodowanec, Director
– Rich Skoczylas, Director & Winery Program Chair

Eberle and ZD Featured Winery Programs Cancelled

Due to the concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wine Society has cancelled the last two events of the Featured Winery Program. This includes Eberle Winery which was scheduled to take place on April 17 and ZD Winery scheduled for May 8.

We will work to get both wineries rescheduled after this pandemic is over. Refunds will be made to those who signed up for the Eberle tasting.

– Rich Skoczylas, Director

Congratulations Are in Order

Congratulations to all who won door prizes at the Frances Ford Coppola Winery Program tasting that was held on Friday, February 22.

A special “congratulations” goes to Arnie Gamboa who won the top Coppola prize by naming the most winners of the Oscars, getting 16 out of 24 answers correct. Arnie received a special Coppola Care Package which included Coppola food items, wearables, and wine.

Unfortunately, we do not have a photo of Arnie with his Coppola prize; however, we would like to share with you several photos of prizes won by members present at the Coppola tasting, along with Bill Redding presenting winemaker, Francois Cordesse, with a plaque. Log in to the OCWS website to view many more photos taken at this event.

– Rich Skoczylas, Winery Program Coordinator

2019 OCWS Winery Program: Save the Dates

The Orange County Wine Society starts its 2019 Winery Program in January. This annual series promotes the knowledge of winemaking, viticulture, and wine appreciation. It comprises several wine tastings to introduce our members to different wines made by award-winning wineries from some of the best wine producing regions in California.

We invite the winemakers to come and talk about their wines and to answer your questions. This is a great benefit that we provide our members. If you consider that if you visit a winery, how often do you have the ability to hear and talk personally with the winemakers themselves? Save the Friday dates and mark your calendars to attend.

Friday, January 11, 2019: Buttonwood Winery

Friday, February 22, 2019: Francis Ford Coppola*

Friday, March 15, 2019: Red Soles Winery

Friday, April 12, 2019: Trentadue Winery

Friday, May 10, 2019: Monte de Oro Winery

The evening of the tasting, you can order the wines at a discounted price. The wines will then be shipped directly to your home.

Our Winery Program is an opportunity to attend a tasting in our local area by a well-known and established winery or a newer winery just starting, but one that produces outstanding wines. We bring you award-winning wineries so you can taste their wines, learn if you enjoy a particular style, and order the wines served that evening.

New Members. If you joined after our May 2018 tasting, and when you attend your first Winery Program tasting in 2019, we will gift you with a bottle of wine.

Look for information about each tasting in The Wine Press or on the Wine Society website. We hold our Winery Program events at the Avenue of the Arts Hotel in Costa Mesa. Each tasting starts with a light dinner and self-parking is included in the price. With our large membership and limited attendance space, we encourage you to sign up early.

*Special February tasting tied to the Hollywood Oscar presentations in March.

– Rich Skoczylas, Winery Program Coordinator