Wine Wizard: AVA!

One of our favorite things about the Gold Series membership is the great color newsletter that is included with every shipment, The Wine Press. With loads of great information about the monthly featured wines, there are even a few sections with recipes, wine history and information on the featured wine region.

But, our favorite section is on the last page, the Wine Wizard! A great way to keep our minds sharp and our wine knowledge full, the Wine Wizard gives us those little bits of wine trivia that are perfect for family hang outs, parties and other social gatherings. Because, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to be the Wine Wizard of your friend group?

This month, our Wine Wizard is all about AVAs. Don’t know what an AVA is and you’d like to find out? Well, look no further as we dive into August’s Wine Wizard!


What is an AVA?
An AVA is an American Viticultural Area – a designated wine grape growing region in the United States that is distinguishable by its geography. AVAs range in size from the Upper Mississippi Valley AVA at 29,900 square miles across four states, to the Cole Ranch AVA in Mendocino County, California, at just 189 acres.

How many AVAs are there in California?
As of 2012, there were 206 recognized AVAs in California. This large number is a testament to the variety of micro climates in the state. California’s largest AVA is the Central Coast AVA and its smallest is Cole Ranch in Mendocino County.

What was the first AVA recognized in the United States?
The Augusta AVA, surrounding the area around the town of August, Missour, was the first recognized AVA in the United States. It gained the status on June 20, 1980.

Now, the next time you are at a friend’s house and you open a bottle of our newly featured Westerly 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, you can impress the entire room with your wealth of AVA knowledge. Until next time Wine Apprentices!

Barbecue with Gold Medal Wine Club

Earlier this week we were lucky enough to receive a visit from local Nick Morello of Morello Wines and we got a chance to catch up. Not only does Nick make amazing wines (Gold Members may remember his delicious Syrah, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir from April’s shipment) but he also has an incredibly vast knowledge about pairing wine with food.

As a recently converted vegetarian, I was worried I would no longer be able to pair my favorite wines with my meals the same as I always did. With less food options to choose from, I was afraid that the wines I usually reached for would no longer compliment my meals quite like they once did. While it of course does depend on the specific varietal, meat with wine is practically a match made in heaven. I voiced my concern to Nick and with five simple words he made my worries fade away: “it’s all about the sauce”.

Now, sauce is the easiest way transform a meal, but the ‘sauce’ is also a broad term meaning the many different factors that can affect the pairing of food and wine. Little did I know there is much more that goes into pairing wines with meals than the food items used. Everything from food preparation, to the method of cooking, to the sauces and spices used can make all the difference and still make any meal, meaty or not, come alive.

It’s time to fire up the grill; below are some featured Gold Medal wines to pair with your next barbecuing adventure for carnivores and herbivores alike.

Bold Red: Nadia 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon. Try a steak sprinkled with salt and pepper, grilled, and topped with a hearty peppercorn sauce. Vegetarian? Opt for grilled vegetable kabobs sprinkled with salt and pepper.

Light Red: Handley 2009 Pinot Noir. Grill a rack of lamb & sprinkle with thyme and rosemary. Vegetarians can try a grilled Portobello Mushroom Burger topped with grilled red pepper, onions and a fresh slice of tomato.

Rich White: Ledgewood Creek 2010 Chardonnay. Grilled Salmon with Creamy Pesto Sauce (check out a full recipe here!). Our veggie option of choice is a foil-wrapped grilled baked potato with crème fraiche, butter and chives.

Light White: Heritance 2011 Sauvignon Blanc. Grill halibut & top with salt, fresh mango salsa, and a lemon wedge. If you don’t eat fish try a veggie patty topped with fresh avocado, lettuce, finely chopped cilantro with a splash of lime.

The best part? These award winning wines are available in our summer wine sale with savings of up to 74%. It’s a 6 bottle minimum per bottle when you purchase, but at these prices, you’ll certainly want to get them while you can! Be sure to check out the rest of our summer sale wines and recipes. Now, who’s hungry?

Visit a Winery in June!


Visit the Santa Ynez Valley

June is the most wonderful month of the year. It’s sunny and warm during the day while the evenings are still a bit cool; the perfect weather for outdoor activities! Here at Gold Medal Wine Club, one of our absolute favorite activities is touring real working boutique wineries. It is at these wineries that we select the award winning wines included in our monthly wine club shipments. It gives us a chance to view the winery and select the best wines to offer to our customers and we never feature bulk, private label or closeout wines. To learn more about our wine club check us out on wine club guide.

Many wineries start their events in June and what better way to spend a warm sunny day then at a winery tasting wines and enjoying sweeping views of vineyards. You don’t need to be in the wine business to tour a winery; many wineries are open to the public for tours, wine and food tastings, and live concerts.

Wineries used to be few and far between but now there are more wineries in more locations around the United States. California was always a well-known wine producing region but now New York, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington State are producing high quality wines as well. Be sure to check out the offerings from your local winery or our wine store

Wine Country Chef: Grape Leaves

Inspired by the springtime growth that is happening all over wine country this month, we decided to take a dive into the world of wine country cooking. Oftentimes, when we think of vineyards and wine grapes, we tend to forget about an equally important product of the winemaking process: wine leaves! Typically, grape vines are harvested during the mid-summer months and can be harvested all the way into late fall. Lost in the shuffle and excitement of the grape harvest is the poor, little grape leaf! We think it is a perfect time to celebrate the grape leaf and its use in the kitchen.

Grape Leaves

Used heavily in Greek, Persian and Armenian cuisine, grape leaves are often picked fresh from the vine and stuffed with a mixture of rice, meat and spices. Rich in essential nutrients such as Fiber, Vitamin A and Calcium, grape leaves are a great addition to any culinary maestro’s closet of ingredients. Grape leaves are the perfect appetizer ingredient. While they are traditionally boiled and stuffed with meat and vegetables, experimental home chefs might try substituting tofu or tempeh for a great vegetarian option.

Stuffed Grape Leaf

Found locally at farmer’s markets and grocery stores, grape leaves are a great and often underrated kitchen ingredient. Impress your next dinner guests with the very exotic and rarely used grape leaf. That and a glass of some Gold Medal Wine Club wines, like our recently featured Gold Series Morello Chardonnay and Syrah and you are sure to have a hit on your hands!

Wine Tasting 101: To aerate or not to aerate?

The practice of decanting wine is certainly no new concept; even the ancient Romans poured their wines into special gold, bronze, and clay carafes after a harvest to present to Kings, Priests, and noblemen alike. What they may not have been aware of at the time, though, were all the hidden gems in wine that can be brought out simply by pouring it into a separate container. This process was later described as decanting, and since then the practice has taken off in many different directions.

Vinturi Aerator

Decanting wine simply allows it to breathe; the process can open up and enhance its aromas, release underlying flavors, and rid a more mature bottle of any sediment built up after a long aging process, thereby creating a smoother finish. Today, the most popular way to decant is done by pouring the wine straight from the bottle into either a glass or crystal carafe and allowing it to sit. You’ll notice that the first glass out of the decanter will taste different than a glass just 30 minutes later in terms of flavor, texture, aroma and acidity. However, as has been discussed by many wine enthusiasts and critics, decanting can be the kiss of death for a beautiful bottle if not done properly and for the right amount of time. When the wine is exposed to oxygen in this process, it changes the entire chemical makeup of the wine and while some flourish, some fall flat if exposed for even a couple minutes too long. So what is a wine lover to do when they want to see if their wine is a good fit for a decanter, but does not want to risk ruining the whole bottle in the process?

Enter the Vinturi Wine Aerator, a modern day savior that allows for any given glass of wine to be tested before and after the aerating process. The Vinturi has set the standard for hand-held aerators in the wine industry and are the aerator of choice for novices and enthusiasts worldwide. The Vinturi delivers perfect aeration in the time it takes to pour a glass. Simply hold the aerator over an empty wine glass and pour straight into the opening and watch the Vinturi work its magic! Depending on the speed at which it is poured, the Vinturi will draw in just the right amount of air in order to release a truly unique glass of wine that in most cases will yield a smoother, more aromatic finish.

Vinturi Giftset

The Vinturi Wine Aerator is now available in our store for both red and white wines. We also offer both a red wine and red Vinturi package, as well as a chardonnay and white Vinturi package. Perform your own taste test at home with your favorite Gold Medal bottle, or bring it along to your next dinner party as a fun party trick. The Vinturi Wine Aerator is your next favorite wine accessory and is sure to heighten the already excellent flavors and aromas of your choice Gold Medal Wine Club wines.



Undiscovered, Undervalued and Unbelievable Wines: Introducing the Garagiste Series

Constantly striving to feature the best wine country has to offer, Gold Medal Wine Club is proud to announce a brand new wine club program, the Garagiste Series. Undiscovered, undervalued and unbelievable, the wines in the Garagiste Series celebrate the spirit of the artisan winemaker. Widely regarded as “America’s Leading Independent Wine Club”, Gold Medal Wine Club is now giving wine lovers throughout the country an opportunity to experience stunning, handcrafted small-lot wines from independent, artisan producers.

Garagiste Bage

Originally a term used to denigrate rogue French winemakers; Garagiste has now become synonymous with high quality, experimental wines and winemakers. At the forefront of this burgeoning movement is the Paso Robles wine region, where more and more Garagiste wineries and winemakers are beginning to appear. Driven by a passion for wine, these small winemakers are producing the most exciting and rare wines in the marketplace. With wines that are typically produced in less than 1,000 cases, Garagiste wines are extremely limited. Small-lot production gives winemakers complete control over the winemaking process, adding a layer of experimentation to every bottle. Led by a passion for unconventional winemaking, the Garagiste movement has gained respect throughout the wine community for its commitment to high quality wine production.

With this exciting new series, Gold Medal Wine Club members are given the unique opportunity to have small-lot wines from this new and exciting movement delivered straight to their door. Given the small production, Garagiste wineries often have little to no wine distribution. Now, these wines can be shared and enjoyed through the country, as wine club members are given the distinct privilege of tasting wines not normally available in the marketplace. If you love the thought of finding rare and fascinating wines before they are discovered, this is the perfect wine series for you.

Underground, different and cutting edge, the Garagiste Series provides a tasting experience unlike anything else. Committed to sharing and exploring the best of wine country, Gold Medal Wine Club has once again created a wine series that can’t be missed in the Garagiste Series.

Garagiste Info Image

Wine Country Fun: Napa Valley

The first few weeks of spring have come to a close and we couldn’t be more excited. With April just beginning, there is a whole new month of wine country activities to discover and enjoy! Continuing with our weekly spring time event series, we turn to the most prestigious of all California wine regions: the Napa Valley.

Napa Valley Arts in April

Throughout the month of April, the valley will be celebrating Napa Valley Arts in April. With more than 75 wineries featuring art on display through the year, this is the perfect time for art and wine lovers to visit the Napa Valley and enjoy special tastings, art installations and exclusive art events. Arts in April provides visitors with special access and packages to enjoy the Napa Valley Collection.  A collection of featured galleries throughout the valley, the Napa Valley Collection gives interested visitors a great online resource for curated tours, attractions and information on cultural and art districts in the Napa Valley.

The Napa Valley Collection

Winemakers and vineyards throughout the valley will be offering special tastings and art events to celebrate Arts in April. With great boutique wineries like Lewis Cellars and Sojourn Cellars, we have featured in our Platinum Series Wine Club, located in the heart of the Napa Valley, the marriage of great wine and great art is the perfect wine country escape.

A cultural and wine making center of the world, the Napa Valley is an experience that wine lovers simply cannot miss. From the quiet streets of Downtown Napa, to the sprawling hills of wine country, there is so much to see and do for the travelling wine lover. New and returning guests to the Napa Valley will find plenty to love about the Arts in April event. Wine and art, the perfect combination!

Wine Country Fun: Santa Barbara County

For four days, visitors to Santa Barbara Wine Country get to enjoy the best of the California wine scene at the Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend. From the 10th of April, to the 13th, wine lovers from across the country gather to experience the best in winemaker diners, tasting room open houses, vineyard walks and so much more!

SB Vintners Spring Weekend Image

With more than 100 different wineries participating, there will be no shortage of wine and wine related activities for festival goers. The weekend culminates on the 12th, with the Santa Barbara Vintners Festival Grand Tasting. Local wineries, restaurants and even local musicians will all gather in Buellton to celebrate and toast to a fabulous spring time in wine country.

2013 Spring Vintners' Festival at the Mission Santa Ines

Although the grand tasting is the main event, there is so much more to enjoy throughout the weekend. From a golf tournament, to Farm-to-table picnics and a concert event, there is no shortage of wine country entertainment for the travelling wine lover. With fantastic Central Coast weather, wines and fun, the Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend promises to be

Here are a few events planned for that weekend with some of our favorite and most recently featured Santa Barbara wineries:

Vineyard Hike with Wine at Refugio Ranch Vineyards
1 – 3PM. Friday, April 11.  

Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard: Vineyard Walk, Scavenger Hunt, and Brunch
10:30AM – 1PM. Sunday, April 13.

Click here for more information on the Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend event schedule!