Archive for the 'Podcast' Category

Napa Road Trip

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Like the grapes themselves, every year seems to bring a new crop of wineries to California. And, while Napa Valley is no exception, we recently found a couple of not-so-newcomers to the region, Sommerston and Hidden Ridge, who have been doing some interesting things, if a bit undetected.

First, we’ll visit with Craig Becker, winemaker and General Manager for Somerston vineyards and winery. Located high in the eastern mountains of Napa Valley, this project came to together after proprietor Allan Chapman purchased the historic Priest Ranch and the Elder Valley east of Rutherford – creating one contiguous 1,628-acre property in 2006. With over 200 acres of vineyards, a winery built from a renovated 12,000 square-foot barn, and 1,500 head of Dorper sheep, the place practically has its own little ecosystem.

Next, we were off to Hidden Ridge vineyards, located on Spring Mountain. “ Hidden” is the operative word here, as this site is way off the main road, and practically hanging off a cliff. When Casidy Ward & Lynn Hofacket purchased the property in 1991, they thought the former site of a private hunting club was the perfect location for a home in the country – literally away from it all. However, they hadn’t realized how difficult it would be to develop such a rural property for residential use. Ultimately, it proved to be a better place for grapes than for people, and they found that Cabernet Sauvignon thrived on the otherwise inhospitable 55 degree slopes at elevations from 900 to 1700 feet.

Join us as we visit with Craig Becker of Somerston, and Casidy Ward of Hidden Ridge to hear about their trials, tribulations and experiences at growing grapes in the Napa Valley.

Sponsor: Wine Berserkers – Wine Board: www.wineberserkers.com

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Show #287
(34:58 min 25MB)

GrapeRadio Wins 2nd James Beard Award

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GrapeRadio is proud to announce that we have won our 2nd James Beard Award for our video – The Scent of Black!

Click here to access our winning video: The Scent of Black

The James Beard Foundation Awards are the nation’s preeminent honors for culinary professionals. More than 60 awards are given out each year in the categories of cookbooks, restaurants and chefs, design and graphics, broadcast media, journalism, and achievement. Nominees and award winners are selected by their industry peers, with more than 600 culinary professionals involved in the voting process.

Thank you to all of our fans who have given us such great support over the years.

Young Burgundian Vignerons Visit World of Pinot Noir 2011

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Rusty Gaffney and Jay Selman have a casual and intimate conversation with Alexandrine Roy and Thomas Bouley, participants in the “Young Turks of Burgundy” tasting at the World of Pinot Noir. We were impressed by their charm and willingness to share their insights into the role of young vignerons in Burgundy today and their impressions of American Pinot Noir. (Please excuse our butchered French)

Sponsor: Pinpoint Tech – Your Mailing List Source: www.pinpoint-tech.com

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Show #286
(29:38 min 21MB)

Making Sense of Puzzling Wine Shipping Laws

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This program features a conversation with David White, the founder and editor of Terroirist.com, a daily wine blog. A wine writer in Washington DC, David’s work has appeared in dozens of publications, including The World of Fine Wine, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and Reuters. He is a 2011 fellowship winner from Symposium for Professional Wine Writers and a graduate of Yale University.

David is extremely well-versed in current state wine shipping laws and impending legislation with regard to these laws. Sounds boring, but we learned plenty and had a few laughs along the way.

Sponsor: Pinpoint Tech – Your Mailing List Source: www.pinpoint-tech.com

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Show #285
(51:08 min 36MB)

Humboldt’s Other Crop – Wine

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Born and raised in La Canada and Pasadena, John Cabot may have seemed an unlikely candidate to settle in the upper reaches of the redwood-filled part of California. But, John seemed destined to till the earth as a farmer, leaving behind his expected role in the family business.

Ironically, the Cabot family business also has its roots in the earth – the family has owned and operated Cabot & Sons Mortuary in Pasadena for over 100 years. With no regrets for the path he took, John does delight in the idea that his family’s lives seem to have been played out in the recent HBO series, “Six Feet Under.” In fact, he can cite more than a few coincidences, comparing the similarities of the fictitious cast with that of his own family. While John’s brother went into the business, as did some of his cousins, John, the self-described “black sheep” of the family, moved to Arcata, in Humboldt County. Here, he attended College of the Redwoods to study chemistry, microbiology and plant sciences. He became an avid gardener, turning every bit of lawn into vegetable production. Along the way, he also discovered he had a penchant for brewing beer – which would come to serve him well at a later date.

After graduating, he accepted roles with a few local organic vegetable producers, and eventually became the sole proprietor of Orleans Organics, growing 28 types of vegetables for sale at four famers markets per week in Humboldt, as well as numerous accounts at grocery stores and restaurants as far south as San Francisco. In 1998, a friend and local vintner helped him plant the first 3 acres of vines, in the Old Mill vineyard. John chose Cabernet, Merlot, and Zinfandel, based on some local success of these varieties. After tasting several Syrahs from different growing regions, John was convinced about the grape’s adaptability, and planted 1-2 acre blocks of Syrah about every year for the following 8 yrs. He ended up planting five, 2-6 acre vineyards, all on different soils. John and wife Kimberly now own two of those vineyards (Kimberly’s and Aria’s) and manage and contract fruit from the other three.

Join us as we talk with grower and winemaker John Cabot of Cabot Vineyards, about his love for Syrah, and the unique Humboldt County growing conditions. We may even hear something about Humboldt’s “other” crop, and why the Cabot vines might (coincidentally) send their roots “six feet under.”

Sponsor: Pinpoint Tech – Your Mailing List Source: www.pinpoint-tech.com

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Show #284
(35:04 min 26MB)

Auction Napa Valley 2010

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Welcome to our video podcast: Auction Napa Valley 2010 – Video Show #100.

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If you’re into food and wine, the Auction Napa Valley is pretty much the center of the universe. Comprised of four days of incredible wine and food, this spectacular event invites attendees to enjoy the cool cellars and hospitality of renowned vintners. In addition, there are dozens of parties to choose from, each hosted by a vintner. More than 250 auction lots, yours for the bidding – from a single case of wine, to trips offering experiences not available anywhere else. You can also taste the barrel auction lots, participate in the e-auction, and attend the main event – a live auction held at the Meadowood resort.

Although there is plenty of wine, food and fun to be had, the primary goal of the event is to raise funds for local charitable activities. In fact, over the last 30 years, $90 million have been given to charities in the Napa Valley, to assist healthcare, education and low-income housing non-profit organizations. The genesis for the auction came from Robert Mondavi, who wanted to give back to the community, as well as celebrate the quality of wines from Napa Valley. Since its inception in 1981, this Auction has embodied the personality of Napa Valley and provided the model for modern charity wine auctions around the world.

Join us as we talk with vintners and attendees during the 2010 event. You’ll get just a small sampling of all the fun, food, and festivities that go along with attending the Auction Napa Valley.

For More Info on the 2011 Auction Napa Valley: www.napavintners.com

Temecula – A Case of Preconceived Notions?

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One doesn’t immediately think of Temecula when they think of California wine regions. Yet, along with the North Coast and the Central Coast, there is also a South Coast wine-growing region – a region which includes the Temecula Valley AVA. Located in a semi-rural section of Southern California’s Riverside County, the Temecula Valley is about an hour’s drive from Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County and Palm Springs.

This close proximity to major population centers and relatively easy access has made Temecula a prime wine touring region – both for Southern Californians, and for visitors to the area. However, despite its convenient location, Temecula’s wine reputation has been hampered as much by uneven quality as by vineyard devastation ten years ago from Pierce’s Disease, a bacterial infection of the grapevine which causes the foliage, the fruit, and finally the vine to die off. Arguably, it hasn’t helped matters that the region easily became a tour-bus Mecca for much of Southern California. This, in turn, lured many wineries to adapt their operations to this type of tourist, largely the antithesis of the usual North or Central Coast winery visitor.

Grape growing isn’t new to the region, as Mission grapes had been planted in the Temecula area in 1820. In more modern times, Vincenzo and Audry Cilurzo established the first commercial vineyard in the Temecula Valley in 1968. Brookside Winery planted its vineyard in 1971, and produced the first wines from Temecula grapes. Callaway Vineyard and Winery began farming grapes in 1969, and opened the first Temecula Winery in 1974.

Most of the 34 wineries in Temecula are family-owned. Many are relatively new, having planted their grapes and/or opened their respective doors since the early 2000s. The timing is no accident, as most of the vineyards needed to be replanted after the damage by Pierce’s Disease. Yet, catastrophe often brings opportunity, and in this case many of the vineyards were replanted with more suitable varieties on better rootstalks, and grown using new viticultural techniques. Growers in the AVA practice sustainable farming in what has now become an agricultural preserve.

As new winemakers and new ideas continue to filter into the region, Temecula makes no apologies for the wines they grow, or how they market them. And, since the quality of their wines continues to rise, and the visitors continue to arrive – via bus or otherwise – the region seems poised to bolster its reputation.

Join us as we visit with nine vintners from Temecula Valley, to hear more about their approach to wine-growing and wine-making. There may be a lot more to Temecula wines than you think – presumptions aside, of course.

Sponsor: Pinpoint Tech – Your Mailing List Source: www.pinpoint-tech.com

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Show #283
(1:26:01 min 61MB)

The Art of Blending

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Welcome to our video podcast – The Art of Blending – Video Show #54.

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Blending, or the combining of multiple ingredients, has always been part of the art of cooking. So too has it always been a part of wine making and the creation of exotic mixed drinks. So, it should be no surprise that blending the flavors and aromas of Cognac with the culinary arts results in a sum greater than its parts. In fact, this beautiful marriage of components is likely to elicit a gastronomical delight. But, as with cooking, it is all about the quality of the ingredients.

There is a familiar saying, “All Cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is Cognac”, and the Cognac region of France is rightly famous for its brandy, a spirit made by double-distilling wine to create an eau-de-vie, a colorless liquid of about 70% alcohol. After years of aging in large oak barrels, the spirit takes on additional complexities and various shades of amber-gold color depending upon age. During this aging process much of the alcohol is lost through evaporation (called the “angel’s share”), and after final blending the spirit is reduced to about 40% alcohol. Cognac is usually consumed on its own as an aperitif (before dinner), as a digestif (after dinner drink), or used in cooking. In addition, it has also become very popular as an ingredient in many cocktails.

GrapeRadio is pleased to present, “The Art of Blending”, a tribute to the artistic efforts of master blenders, chefs, and mixologists who use palettes of flavors to create passion in the world of wine, food and cocktails.

For More Info on Cognac: www.bnic.fr

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Distillation – The Birth of Cognac

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Welcome to our video podcast: Cognac Distillation – Video Show #99.

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After fermentation, the white wine is distilled into ‘eau-de-vie.’ To become Cognac, this involves a double distillation, for which only the heart, or middle portion of the second distillation is retained. The heads, too high in alcohol, and the tails, lacking harmony, are carefully removed and distilled over again to perfection.

For its first distillation, the unfiltered wine is brought to boil in the copper pot. Since alcohol evaporates faster than water, alcoholic vapors can be collected in the onion dome shaped cowl and in the swan neck, which slows the rectification process of the flavors, before passing into the long serpentine condenser coil. Vapors condense to the contact of the cooler and turn into a liquid known as ‘brouilli,’ with an alcoholic content of 27 to 30% vol. This is distilled a second time in a process called the ‘bonne chauffe’. The distiller’s key task is then to choose the moment when to isolate the ‘heart’ of this second distillation, extracting the ‘head’ and the ‘tail’ in the process.

This distillation process is a delicate and slow one. It lasts for approximately twenty four hours and requires the constant care of the distiller. It usually begins in November and is conducted day and night for several months. The rule binds it to stop at the latest at the end of March. Distillation is a key factor that gives Cognac its distinctive character. Its secrets are handed over from generation to generation.

First Sideways – Now Vertical

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Widely known as author of the novel, Sideways, which of course spawned the hit movie of the same name, screenwriter Rex Pickett has now created a sequel, appropriately named, Vertical. Yes, it’s another wine-related road trip book involving Miles and Jack. This time, however, they’re traveling to Oregon’s Willamette Valley to swirl some more Pinot Noir, and to…well, you’re going to have to read the book, because there’s more.

Join us, as we talk with Rex about the genesis of his character Miles, both the book and movie versions of Sideways, and of course his new book, Vertical. We may even delve into the trials and tribulations of being a screenwriter in Los Angeles, and maybe get a ‘sideways’ glance at the publication business. You never know.

Sponsor: West Auctions – Fine Wine Auction: www.westauction.com

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Show #282
(46:56 min 33MB)

Allen Meadows and the Wines of Domaine Fourrier

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Allen Meadows, a.k.a. Burghound, moderated this entertaining Seminar featuring the owner and winemaker of Domaine Fourrier, Jean Marie Fourrier. Domaine Fourrier has a four generation history in Gevrey-Chambertain and was one of the first Domaines in Burgundy to export wine to the United States. The Domaine experienced a revitalization with the arrival of Jean Marie Fourrier in 1994, and the wines, as Allen Meadows noted at the Seminar, “Are built on balance, not concentration.” Jean Marie Fourrier says his wines are only crafted from vines at least 30 years old, and represent “terroir in a glass.”

Join us at this seminar from the 2010 World of Pinot Noir.

For More Information:

The Burghound – www.burghound.com

Domaine Fourrier – domainefourrier.pagesperso-orange.fr

The 2011 World of Pinot Noir – www.worldofpinotnoir.com

Sponsor: Millesima, Fine Wine Merchants: www.millesima-usa.com

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Show #281
(1:20:41 min 70MB)

Wine Appraisal

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If it can be said that wine tasting is subjective, it probably follows that the monetary value of wine is even more subjective. Whether it’s the price of a single bottle, an auction lot, or an entire collection, the estimated value of that wine becomes one of the most important factors in determining its intrinsic value to a buyer, collector or investor. For most wines, wine enthusiasts usually make their own decisions about a wine’s perceived value. But, when thousands of dollars are on the line, often a professional wine appraiser is consulted.

Wine appraisers are experts who help wine lovers protect their wine collections by inventorying them and giving them value, often an essential need if wine collections are insured. Appraisals are also often necessary for purposes of charity donations, damage claims, divorce settlements, estate planning, and/or liquid investment.

Join us as we speak with Martin Weiner, owner of Vintage Wine Appraisers, as well as founder of the Los Angeles School of Wines, editor and publisher of Martin’s Guide to Wine Bargains, and wine editor of Beverage Industry News. An author, correspondent, and lecturer, Martin has extensive experience in appraising wines. We’ll hear just a few examples of why and how this valuable service can be used to determine a wine’s true market value.

For More Information: www.vintagewineenterprises.com

Sponsor: Hearts Delight Wine Auction: www.heartsdelightwineauction.org

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Show #280
(55:58 min 40MB)

The Scent of Black

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Welcome to our video podcast: The Scent of Black – Video Show #91.

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In the Cahors region of France, black truffles are almost literally as valuable as gold in the culinary world. Prized for their glorious scent, black truffles are fungi that grow exclusively on the roots of oak trees. Found in late autumn and winter, the truffles cannot be seen since they grow under the ground. Pigs, or specially trained dogs have been used to search for these elusive truffles. About 20% of the French production comes from southwest France, which possesses the limestone soils and dry hot weather that truffles need to grow.

In the late 19th century, an epidemic of phylloxera destroyed many of the vineyards in southern France. Large tracts of land were set free for the cultivation of truffles. Thousands of truffle-producing trees were planted, and production reached the peak of hundreds of tonnes by the end of the 19th century. Wars during the 20th Century decimated the fields. After 1945, the production of truffles plummeted, and prices rose dramatically. In 1900, truffles were used by most French people, and on many occasions. Today, they are a rare delicacy reserved for the wealthy, or used on very special occasions.

Originally a common grape in Bordeaux, Malbec has lost popularity as one of the five varieties in the Bordeaux blends. Meanwhile, Malbec increased its status in the French region of Cahors, an area southeast of Bordeaux, where it creates distinctive wines that now require 70% of the variety.

GrapeRadio is proud to present a look at the Cahors region, as rightly famous for its black truffles as it is for its Malbec, a wine that exemplifies the scent of black.

The Comté Experience

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Welcome to our video podcast: The Comté Experience – Video Shows #92-98.

If you like cheese, you’re probably familiar with Comté, the French semi-hard cheese made from unpasteurized cow’s milk. The Montbeliard cow is the only breed of cattle whose milk is authorized for making Comté. Produced for hundreds of years, Comté is still traditionally made in more than 190 cheese dairies, known as the “fruitières” in the Jura region of eastern France. The Jura plateau of the Franche-Comté is the most mountainous (and coldest) region of France, stretching from the eastern edge of Burgundy, through the foothills of the French Alps and to the border with Switzerland.

It is the first French AOC (label of origin) cheese, guaranteeing the quality of the cheese. Each 40 kilo (about 88 lb.) wheel of Comté is made from the milk of many different small farms from within 15 miles distance only. The milk is collected at a fruitière, where it is transformed into cheese under strictly controlled conditions. After its fabrication, the huge wheels of cheese are transferred to a limited number of cellars spread across the region, where they will age anywhere from 4 – 18 months. Comté is the most popular AOC cheese in France, and it is said that there are more than 83 distinct flavors in Comté, including apricot, chocolate, butter, cream, and grilled bread. Some cheeses also have strong hazelnut flavors, while others have subtle hints of nutmeg. The taste is variable depending on the age and the season of the milk. It’s typically described as salty, mild, and fruity. Jura wines make a classic pairing for Comté, as well as Rieslings, Muscats, Gewürztraminers, and many of the softer red Bordeaux blends. Wine pairings? Dry whites and lighter reds seem to work beautifully with Comté.

Join us for a look this fascinating process. We’ll learn some of the history of this region, and what makes this part of France special, but more importantly, how all of this translates to the Comté cheese itself.

Part 1 – Milk – Video 92

Part 2 – Cheesemaking – Video 93

Part 3 – Aging – Video 94

Part 4 – Cutting/Storing – Video 95

Part 5 Tasting – Video 96

Part 6 – Wine Pairing – Video 97

Part 7 – Comté Fondue – Video 98

The Culture of Food and Wine

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Ever wonder what food and wine experiences are like in other countries? How about culinary traditions in other countries? Well, Summer Whitford (aka, the Food and Wine Diva) has written a book detailing several country’s cultural traditions and culinary customs in “Join Us at The Embassy.” Summer brings her experience as a professional chef, cooking instructor, and wine educator to bear in giving us an inside look at each ambassador’s personal entertaining style, formal and informal embassy parties, as well as important holidays, festivals, and significant customs that are unique to each country.

Join us as we talk with Summer Whitford, the Food and Wine Diva, about her experiences traveling the globe, and sampling food and wine along the way.

Sponsor: Hearts Delight Wine Auction: www.heartsdelightwineauction.org

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Show #279
(35:15 min 26MB)

The 2010 World of Pinot Noir

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Welcome to our video podcast: The 2010 World of Pinot Noir – Video Show #90.

Join us at the 2010 World of Pinot Noir in beautiful Shell Beach, CA as we ask the really, really, really hard pinot noir questions that must be answered!

– Why is Pinot Noir a good wine for Newbies?
– It is said that Pinot Noir Wears many different clothes, how do you like t dressed?
– What type of music reminds you of Pinot Noir?
– Why is it said that Pinot Noir is a white wine masquerading as a red wine?
– What is a “Burgundian-Style” Pinot Noir?

Tickets are now available for the 2011 World of Pinot Noir. Sign up at: www.worldofpinotnoir.com

Sponsor: Hearts Delight Wine Tasting Auction: www.heartsdelightwineauction.org

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Wine Chat with GrapeRadio

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With 2010 drawing to a close, the GrapeRadio bunch thought it might be interesting to have a little round-table discussion about issues that have occurred to us during the past year. Right out of the gate, we wondered what people do for wines at Thanksgiving. Do you cater to your guests, or do you pour what you yourself prefer to drink? And, what about “special” bottles – do they have a place at your table? Then of course, there is the usual discussion of merit, once the Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines list is released.

Join us, as we cover the high and low points of being on the Spectator 100 list, and examine each others preferences for wines to serve to guests.

Sponsor: Porter Family Vineyards – Napa Valley: www.porterfamilyvineyards.com

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Show #278
(40:11 min 28MB)

We’ve Come a Long Way Baby – Past, Present, and Future – The Wines of South Africa

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The first seminar from the 2010 Hospice du Rhône, was an introduction to all that has been happening lately with Syrah in South Africa. Appropriately titled, “We’ve Come a Long Way Baby”, the seminar did indeed give us a glimpse of how things used to be, and what they have become.

Photo above – (Andrea Mullineux, James Molesworth, Davis Trafford, Marc Kent, Eben Sadie, and Chris Mullineux)

Moderated by Wine Spectator Senior Editor James Molesworth, panelists described South Africa’s long history with wine, beginning with the Dutch settlers in the 19 Century. Unfortunately, the more recent history of South African wine is irrevocably tied to the period know as apartheid, a system of legal racial segration that lasted nearly a half-century, drawing the world’s ire, and saddling the country with sanctions and trade embargoes from other nations. When apartheid finally ended in 1994, South African wineries had hoped to make up for lost time. However, the quality was spotty and its wines were not well received. Yet, it was this same public dislike that ultimately pushed the wineries to improve quality. The most surprising discovery from this seminar was that Syrah is merely 10% of the country’s wine production!

Join us, as we hear from some of South Africa’s brightest winemakers, and hear about the current crop of wines coming ‘Out of Africa.’

For More Info: Hospice du Rhone (HdR): www.hospicedurhone.org

Sponsor: Porter Family Vineyards – Napa Valley: www.porterfamilyvineyards.com

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Show #277
(59:51 min 39MB)


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GrapeRadio is a wine talk show. Show topics cover issues such as the enjoyment of wine, wine news and industry trends - the hallmark of the show is interviews with world class guest (winemakers, vineyards owners, wine retail / wholesale leaders, restaurateurs and sommeliers). The scope of the show is international so expect to hear many guests from around the world.

GrapeRadio has received numerous awards and honors including the 2008 James Beard Award for excellence in Journalism.

GrapeRadio has been the subject of numerous news reports by: The New York Times, Business Week, CNN, The Financial Times of London, and Wired Magazine.