Seasonal changes are a breath of fresh air. Here in Northern California wine country, we ease into the cool, fall weather much later than our Midwest and East Coast friends. But whether it’s still a dry 80 degrees or a balmy 60, Sauvignon Blanc makes for a deliciously drinkable wine all year long – especially when paired with end-of-season tomatoes! Enjoy this delectable dish created by Estate Chef Brian Overhauser. Cheers!
This wine-friendly appetizer is nicely balanced by the crisp refreshment of Jana’s 2017 Sauvignon Blanc from Lake County. It provides appropriate fruit and acidity for this rather clean and fresh salad.
Cut the tomatoes as thin as possible to get 24 pieces and layout in a single layer on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper.
Salt and pepper each peace and then drizzle some EVOO as well. Now, take the cheese and distribute on top of every other tomato. Distribute the garlic evenly on top of all the slices.
Now, stack one at a time to get 4 stacks with six pieces each containing two slices of Mozzarella
Transfer the very cold plate and top with micro basil and enjoy with a bottle of 2017 Jana Sauvignon Blanc on a warm, late summer day or by the firepit on an early fall evening.
I’m convinced, and it is rapidly becoming known, that Amador County is the best wine growing region in the world for Barbera – and the proof is in the high-quality wine that flows out of here season after season.
When you look at the natural origins of Barbera, it hails from a region in Italy called the Piedmont or Piedmonte, which translates to “foothill” in Italian. And much like the Alps above Italy, the Sierra Nevada flanking Amador are huge granite, monolithic uplifts born from continental drift. These foothill regions are full of decomposed granite soils coming off the sides of the mountain range. Amador’s terrain is like a home away from home for Barbera.
The biggest difference between the two winegrowing regions is that Piedmont is very close to a marine influence – the Mediterranean Sea. During the growing season, Piedmont receives a nourishing fog from the Mediterranean, creating the best varietal known as Nebbiolo (named after the fog). The most expensive wines, Barolo and Barbaresco, come from this region. And while Nebbiolo is a fog-loving variety perfect for the misty Piedmont region, Barbera is a sun-loving variety that is dealt the second-best vineyard sites in Piedmont.
Now, take it around the world to right here in Amador County, a very similar foothill region up against a very similar fast-growing, granitic mountain range. The Sierra Nevada’s marine influence, the Pacific, is too far away for the fog to roll in during the growing season, making this a more suitable territory than the Italian Piedmont. Barbera thrives in Amador like no other place on earth.
My favorite red wine to make is Barbera. I first cut my teeth making Barbera at Montevina Winery in 1974, and it struck a passion in me that’s never faltered. I’ve been producing Amador County Barbera ever since, under our own Scott Harvey label. It’s my favorite because it makes, undoubtedly, the best wine in the region.
This sparkler was practically made for a summer soiree, with its juicy crush of stone fruit flavors and waves of refreshing minerality coupled with racy acidity. The Jana Blanc de Blanc holds its own during a meal thanks to its complexity and voluptuous body, and complements a variety of cuisines perfectly. To finish out this bubbly blog series, we’re sharing some of our favorite summer dishes to enjoy with our Sekt-style Jana Blanc de Blanc!
Crunchy, fresh, and satisfying, this simple Vietnamese-inspired dish begs for hot summer days and a glass of Jana Blanc de Blanc. The salad brings a hint of acid to complement but not overpower the wine’s pronounced acidity on the palate, and its touch of fiery spice serves as this bubbly’s perfect foil. Grill some chicken or pork to serve on alongside the salad, pop a bottle, and you’ve got yourself a perfect evening, if you ask us.
Packed with vibrant sweet and savory flavors, this dish is as delicious as it is simple, allowing for maximum time to enjoy the summer evening with a glass (or a few) of Jana Blanc de Blanc. The dish’s straightforward elements delightfully contrast the wine’s intricate mosaic of flavors on the palate.
Think seasonal delicacies like eggplant, mushroom, squash, red onion, and bell pepper skewered alongside chicken, pork, you name it! The wine’s crisp flavors and bright texture bring out the same qualities in the vegetables you choose. A sip of Jana Blanc de Blanc after a bite of grilled goodness strikes the perfect gastronomic balance.
So whether you choose to sip your sparkler solo this summer or alongside one of these simple summer specialties, we hope you feel a little extra sparkly!
Putting wine into words tends to elude even the most talented philosophers and linguists. Ancient Greek playwright Euripides came close when he said, “Both to the rich and poor, wine is the happy antidote for sorrow.” Centuries later, author Paulo Coelho encourages readers to “accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.”
Wine speaks without words, though humans try to translate its language with every sip, every layer of flavor, every year in the cellar. Perhaps what’s most difficult to grasp about wine’s existence is its terroir, which has no direct English translation. (Terroir, in English, combines 5 traits: climate, soil, terrain, vintage, and in some areas with a long history of winemaking, tradition.)
Grapevines grow in some of the most fascinating and geographically treacherous places in the world–whether it’s Riesling rooted inside blue slate on staggering grades in the craggs of German mountain towns or Assyrtiko curled into nests rooted in volcanic ash on the Santorini coast, wine is not just a product of where it came from, it is a time capsule, a bottled poem written by the wind, the rain, the soil, and sun. We carefully craft wines of distinction that tell their story of place, variety, tradition and vintage. Our wine is a true expression of terroir.
A winemaker like Scott Harvey tends to the vines and makes the resulting wine to best express terroir. He is the winemaker, after all. But most European languages don’t even have a word for winemaker–the closest translation equates to “wine grower.” By definition, wine and its terroir transcend the passage of man. Scott Harvey, however, has found a balance between using traditional methods to bring out the best of the grapes’ character, and allowing the grapes and the resulting wine to speak for themselves.
With his dynamic background in winemaking beginning with his training in Rheinland Pfalz in Germany, Scott has sharpened his terroir-translating skills with old-world winemakers whose families had been making wine for generations. He approaches his vines and wines through an old world lens, allowing for their bright, California character to shine through the old-world influence of minimal oak and balanced winemaking techniques.
During Scott Harvey experiences, you have the chance to immerse yourself in Amador terroir. Feel the soil beneath your feet on a walk around the vineyards, let the sun’s rays warm your skin, and taste in the winery nestled in the rolling hills and valleys of vines. Listen as the master of the old world himself, Scott Harvey, tells you what is happening at that moment in the vineyards and how it affects the wine in your glass. And if you’re a 3&3 wine & food pairing guest or enjoying a vineyard tour with Scott, you’ll taste the wine these very vineyards birthed. So read between the vines–allow terroir to be translated by all of your senses, and come discover Scott Harvey.
Scott’s interest in winemaking took hold when he was a high school exchange student in Rheinland Pfalz, Germany. It was there he discovered the artisanal method of not just producing but crafting wines, through a delicate balance of art and science. After college, he returned to Germany to apprentice at K. Fitz-Ritter and simultaneously attend the prestigious Weinbau Schule in Neustadt.
Throughout his studies, Scott found that there were distinct quality differences between the sparkling wines that were made using the tank or transfer methods, and those that were crafted in the traditional method. Greater still, he noticed, the divide between Sekt made with more abundant, affordable varieties like Muller-Thurgau or Silvaner, and those whose base wine was difficult-to-manage, costly Riesling.
The most highly-regarded German Sekts are called Winzersekt and are dry, usually made with estate-grown Riesling grapes. Scott Harvey, now in his fourth decade of winemaking, has perfected the art of old world Sekt in the new world of wine with his Jana Blanc de Blanc.
“I love making and drinking sparkling wine. When Jana and I travel I always throw in a bottle of sparkling wine in to enjoy somewhere along the way. Great on a long hike to a distant mountain peak.
I was trained in the art of making sparkling wine at the third oldest sparkling wine house (K Fitz Ritter Sekt Kellerei) in Germany. That was 45 years ago when we still hand riddled all the bottles. I learned how to produce a dry brut style Riesling Sekt. Ever since then I have been producing ‘Methode Champenoise’ sparkling wines in California. Our current release is 100% Riesling, three years on triage and produced as a high quality brut just like we did at K Fitz Ritter and as it is done in Champagne France.”
Scott sources the Riesling grapes for the Jana Blanc de Blanc, named for his wife Jana Harvey, from one of the last Riesling vineyards left in Mendocino County, Nelson Ranch. Nestled in an upland side canyon, the 40-year-old vineyard births small, intensely flavorful grapes.
After its second fermentation, Scott allows this dry Sekt-style wine to rest en Tirage (on the lees) for three years, creating a deep, complex tessellation of aromas and flavors once the wine hits the glass. Racy yet delicate, the Jana Blanc de Blanc bursts onto the palate with flavors of lychee, brioche, fresh cream, juicy peaches, and apricot blossom, tied together with buoyant acidity, elegant bubbles, and shimmering minerality, which meld into a long, fresh finish. It’s summer’s soulmate, pure freshness in a bottle. The Jana Blanc de Blanc is anything but ordinary. We can't wait for you to pop a bottle this summer, and make your summer extraordinary.
Fizz, pop, clink, sip. This ritual is one bubbly-lovers hold sacred, and many look to Champagne for their fizzy fix. Made with mainly Chardonnay grapes, Blanc de Blancs from Champagne has enjoyed a lifetime of prestige, so much so that many French Champagne houses have grown to be international brands whose wine is made on multiple continents, including our own.
What few realize is that German winemakers have been making sparkling wine, or Sekt, in an off-dry style, using affordable varieties from more economical regions such as Muller-Thurgau. Most producers of the boozy bubbly beverage use the economical Tank Method (like Prosecco). Larger houses (rarely in Germany) produce their bubbly through the slightly more complex transfer method. Less use high-quality and pricey Riesling grapes and lesser still use the labor-intensive and time-consuming traditional method of production. So what exactly are the differences between the three methods of sparkling wine production? In the first of a three-part series, we’ll break down the three most commonly-used means of production.
Photo Credit: Wine Folly
The Traditional Method of sparkling winemaking goes by many names: Méthode Champenoise, Méthode Traditionelle, Méthode Cap Classique, to name a few. Whatever the alias, the finished products are some of the most celebrated due to the sheer amount of time, labor and money that went into their creation. The most magical part? The entire transformation from still to sparkling wine takes place inside the glass walls of each bottle.
First, grapes are picked (usually sooner than grapes used solely for still wines, to preserve acidity) and fermented to dry as usual. The winemaker blends multiple base wines together to create a cuvée (blend).
Next, the base wine is bottled and a precise mixture of yeast, wine, and sugar called liqueur de tirage is added to the base wine to each bottle, which are capped with a crown cap (like a beer bottle). This triggers the second fermentation.
The second fermentation creates about 1.3% more alcohol and carbon dioxide, and spent yeast cells that remain in the bottle.
The wine is then left to age on these spent yeast cells, or lees (sur lie, or en tirage) to develop texture, complexity, and autolytic character in the wine. This process is entirely subjective and can be anywhere from 9 months to 5 years, depending on quality. Many believe the longer the wine rests on the lees, the better.
Once the winemaker decides the wine is close to finished, it’s time to Riddle! Riddling traditionally takes place in riddling racks; rectangular wooden boards hinged at the top, both sides with holes to hold the necks of bottles. The bottles are placed neck-down into the racks at a 45-degree angle. Every day for several weeks, the riddler rotates every single bottle a few degrees, gently shifting the lees closer to the neck of the bottle. At the end of the process, the bottles are slanted a 60-degree angle and are completely neck-down in their holes, and all the lees are collected in the neck.
This process removes sediment from the bottle without wasting wine or compromising quality. After riddling, bottles are placed upside-down into a freezing solution for several minutes which causes the residual yeast particles to freeze. The crown caps are then popped off which allows the frozen plug of lees to shoot out. The minimal amount of wine lost in the process is replaced with a slightly sweet mixture of wine and sugar, or dosage, which balances the acidity in the wine.
Photo Credit: Wine Folly
The transfer method is identical to the traditional method until the aging process is complete. After aging, the bottled wines are emptied into a large, pressurized tank and filtered immediately to separate the lees from the wine. This method sidesteps the costly and difficult riddling and disgorgement of the traditional method, yet the resulting wines still may have delicious autolytic flavors and textures.
Photo Credit: Wine Folly
Also known as the Charmat Method, the tank method tends to be the fastest and most affordable and uses (you guessed it) a stainless steel tank to turn a still base wine into a sparkling one, rather than a bottle. Finished wine is added together with liqueur de tirage, a sugar, wine, and yeast mixture, triggering a rapid fermentation within the pressure-resistant tank.
As the fermentation goes on, carbon dioxide released from the fermentation causes the tank to pressurize, and the resulting sparkling wine is filtered, dosed with a solution of sugar and wine, and bottled.
Wines made using the tank method are inherently fresher in character as they are not aged at all. Large-volume producers of sparkling wines around the world utilize this method as it allows for the quickest turnaround (approximately 10-12 days from base wine to bottle) of the three methods.
In our first installment of "Amador County Wine...California's Second Gold Rush", we took a stroll through the history of some of California's oldest vineyards, planted during the Gold Rush in the 1850's. When mining became less profitable and surface gold was depleted, many miners abandoned their claims and went on to find greener pastures. With this exodus from gold country, most vineyards were also abandoned and left unattended, some dying away and others going dormant.
It wasn't until the 1960's and 1970's when Amador County saw it's second "gold rush", this time in the form of the wine industry as a whole. In addition to the vineyards, wineries began popping up throughout the Shenandoah Valley.
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
While not quite the tourist destination at that time, heck, even Napa Valley was still budding, winemakers in Amador County began producing world-class wines to sell commercially and to individuals. Some of the first wineries in Amador County include Montevina (est. 1973) and Story Winery (est. 1973), both of which Scott worked at before and after his winemaking education. Read more about Scott's History. While wineries, such as Cooper, Dillian and Spinetta, didn't open until after the 1980's, these families have been growing grapes in Amador County for decades, thus firmly earning a place in the Amador County wine history books.
Amador County is home to the third oldest winery in the state! The D’Agostini Winery was started in 1856 by Adam Uhlinger. In 1911, the winery and its 125 acres of vineyards were purchased by Enrico D’Agostini, for whom the winery was named for. In 1984, Armagan Champagne Cellars purchased the business and the Amador County vineyard and wine cellar were sold to the Sobon family in 1989. The original wine cellar still exists today, and is now the Shenandoah Valley Museum.
WHERE WE ARE TODAY
Today, there are more than 40 active wineries that make up the Amador Vintners Association with faciliites throughout the Shenandoah and Fiddletown AVAs, along with a handful of others outside of those AVAs. Many of these wineries are family owned and operated, and have been for generations. They always welcome you in with a smile and the desire to show off their home grown and hand crafted wines. Visit the Amador Vintners Association website.
Scattered throughout Amador County, you'll find a number of private tasting rooms featuring award-winning gold country wines. Up and down Main Street of historic Downtown Sutter Creek, you'll find more than seven tasting rooms nestled among unique shops, fine and casual dining and top-notch lodging facilites. Visit the Sutter Creek Business Association's website and Wine on 49.
WHAT WE HAVE TO OFFER
While Amador County is known for its tasty, award winning and historical Zinfandels, the rising and shining star in Amador’s vineyards is Barbera. An Italian variety that hails from the Piedmont region of Italy, this grape variety is unknown to many in California and most of the United States; unless of course you’re a Scott Harvey fan, then you've already established your love affair with Barbera. Amador County Barbera has become so popular, it even has it's own event! Learn more here about the Barbera Festival.
Amador’s volcanic soil, made up primarily of sandy clay loam as a result of decomposed granite, is ideal for growing Zinfandel and Barbera, as well as Syrah, Tempranillo, Sangiovese and Petite Sirah, among other lesser-known red varietals. While Amador County is not known for its white wines, you’d be surprised to know that it is home to some award winning Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier.
Just recently, the Sierra Foothills region made headlines when Wine Enthusiast contributing editor, Jim Gordon, wrote about his experience in "The New & Improved Sierra Foothills". Mr. Gordon highlights some of the rustic charm mixed with relaxed luxury as well as some of the old vine gems scattered throughout Amador County and the Sierra Foothills; including a Cellar Selection rating on our Vineyard 1869 Zinfandel.
RETHINKING CALIFORNIA WINE COUNTRY
Let's revisit our word association game. This time when we say "California Wine Country", maybe you'll think of Amador County. When we say "Award Winning California Wines", you can easily name a handful of Gold Medal winners from the Sierra Foothills. When we say "Barbera", you think "YUM!". As for "Old Vine Zinfandels", you, as a Scott Harvey fan, know first hand that these are must-haves for your collection!
When you're getting ready to plan a trip to “California’s Wine Country”, think Amador County. In addition to the fantastic wines and wineries, you will also enjoy the rustic charm of historical towns such as Sutter Creek, Jackson and Plymouth. Take in all that Amador County has to offer, including fine dining, shopping, gold mine excursions, art events and much more!
Let’s play a little word association game. I’ll give you a word or phrase; you tell me what first comes to mind:
(1) California's Wine Country
(2) Gold Medal Winning California Wines
(3) Old Vine Zinfandels
Now, let us give the conventional answers:
(1) Napa Valley
(2) Again…Napa Valley
(3) Jammy fruit bombs that are high in alcohol
(4) That’s not how you spell Barbara…and what does she have to do with wine?
For those of us who live in California or are familiar with California wines, we know that good wines come from the upper North Coast all the way down to the Southern California border, and everywhere in between.
California is home to some of the best wines in the world, and is only surpassed in production (not necessarily quality) by Italy, France and Spain. While Napa Valley may have solidified its claim to fame at The Judgement of Paris in 1973, there are a vast number of wine regions in California that have been producing award winning wines for decades; many still unknown or thought to be insignificant in the world of wine.
For those who enjoy Scott Harvey Wines, you already know better. Some of the best wine in the world comes from the fifth smallest county (in terms of square miles) in California; Amador County. Within the 600 square miles that makes up Amador County, about 4,000 acres (less than 1%) consists of wine grapes. But the grapes grown within that 1% produce some of the best wines in California, if not the world.
The Making of California’s 2nd Gold Rush:In part one of our two part blog, we visit some of Amador's deeply rooted wine history, including our own little piece of history in the Vineyard 1869 as well as the new shining star, Barbera.
During the 1850’s, California was flooded with prospectors staking claims and digging for fortunes, mining for their pot of gold. The biggest surge of miners passed through Northern California and the Sierra Foothills, home to vast veins of this precious metal. While some succeeded in finding prosperity, most were fooled and left “holding the pan”. But all of the mining, successful or not, made the “49ers” thirsty, thus resulting in the planting, cultivating and fermenting of grapes to make wine to quench their thirst and ease the hard days.
The Sierra Foothills nearly fell off the map, with regard to wine production, when gold mining ended with the 19th century and the initiation of Prohibition started in the 1920s. The miners deserted their camps and vineyards were left to wither and die. It wasn’t until the 1960s when new “prospectors” started the second “Gold Rush” of Amador…winemaking!
While numerous vineyards were planted in Amador County during the 1850’s, the oldest documented vineyard is one of our very own; the Vineyard 1869. A land deed from an 1869 U.S. Geological Survey notes a fully established vineyard on the property that is home to our historical Old Vine Zinfandel grapes (as well as some Barbera). LEARN MORE ABOUT VINEYARD 1869 HERE.
Today, of Amador’s nearly 4,000 acres of wine grapes, over 600 acres are over 60 years old, and several date back to the 19th century. These older vines are often non-irrigated and must rely on their roots to dig deep for water. These stressed grapes produce bold, complex and multi-faceted wines that you won't find anywhere else. These wines are often produced in the Old World style with low alcohol and balanced pH, making them perfect to pair with food.
More recently, Amador County has unearthed another piece of California gold by cultivating Barbera vineyards. Hailing from the Piedmont region of Italy, this variety was first planted in Amador County in the 1880s, but didn't really gain traction as a known variety until the late 1990s. Barbera vines are adaptive to a variety of soils, but thrive in decomposed granite and volcanic soils, and enjoy a little heat during the summer days with cooler evenings. This describes Amador County perfectly. Originally used as a "blending" wine, Barbera is now taking Amador County, California and the nation by storm. Barbera is a versatile, food friendly wine that goes well with Italian style meals, vegetarian meals and a variety of cheeses. READ MORE HERE ABOUT AMADOR'S SHINING STAR
Let's revist our little word association game now. I’ll give you a word or phrase; you tell me what first comes to mind:
(1) California's Wine Country
(2) Gold Medal Winning California Wines
(3) Old Vine Zinfandels
Here are your new answers:
(1) Amador County, California
(2) Again…Amador County
(3) Complex, balanced and multi-faceted
(4) Sure to be your new favorite wine!
Just how many grapes does it take to make up Amador's "liquid gold"?
Download our Free Vineyard to Bottle Sheet to find out!
"Tickle My Belly Day" all started when our wine club manager, Monica, had one her famous "shower" ideas. What's a "shower" idea you ask? A great idea you have in the shower and hope you remember it by the time you get out! Her thought..."We have a wine called Tickle Me Pink and dogs like to have their bellies tickled...how can we combine the two...and maybe benefit the animals?" We don't even want to know what else goes on in her head, but we love her anyway. Being that she is a big animal lover and advocate, as well as a wine lover, the idea for
"Tickle My Belly Day" was born, and boy did it take off!
With months of planning and teamwork, on October 28, 2017, it all came together. The event, hosted by Scott Harvey Wines, the Amador County Animal Control Shelter, Goin' Postal and The Feed Barn in Jackson, featured a special wine tasting menu, including our Tickle Me Pink Rosé, hot dogs, chips and sodas, a photo station with props and the best volunteer photographer, April, swag bags with goodies for both people and pups, and a doggie (temporary) tattoo artist from Country Clippers in Lockeford, CA. A portion of the proceeds from the sales of Tickle Me Pink benefited the Rusty Fund at the shelter.
Seeing that the event day was so close to Halloween, we encouraged people and their pets to come in costume for a chance to win some great prizes...and they did not disappoint! Jazz the Pitbull (1st Place in the Pet Costume Contest) came as a Chick Magnet. Grommet dressed as The Cat in The Hat (2nd Place) while his sister Annie was a Sweet Witch. As for people in costumes, we had royalty, kitty cats, angels, and even couple dressed as a mermaid and merman (their dog Walter, was a shark). They took 1st Place inthe People Costume Contest.
The main focus of the day however, were the adoptable dogs that were on site from the Amador County Animal Control Shelter. Volunteers from the shelter brought out Roxy, Ruby and Toby to show them off with the hopes of them finding forever homes. We are very happy to announce that both Ruby and Toby have been adopted! In addition to the adoptable dogs, ACART (Amador County Animal Rescue Team) was onsite to pass our information on how to keep your pets safe during natural disasters along with other resources for pet safety.
At the end of the day, it was so rewarding to see the results of our hard work and planning. Everyone who attended had a great time tasting wine, enjoying food, having their pictures taken, going home with a bag full of goodies all while supporting the animals at the Amador County Animal Control Shelter. A big THANK YOU to everyone who helped put this together as well as to all of those who attended. We look forward to doing this again in 2018.
Visit our Facebook Page to see all of the pictures from the event.
Tips & Tricks to Keep Pets Safe Over the Holidays
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