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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

09/19/2016 - Sisters Crush for Breast Cancer and Terra Petra Truffles, Australia

Slow Living's first interview this week is with a woman with a mission and a cause. Rayellen Jordan, Founder of Sisters Crush for Breast Cancer. Their annual walk/run in Yountville is on October 15, so come and support the team (and Slow Living's hosts) and have some fun for a good cause.

Next we are delighted to welcome Peter Marshall, who with his wife Kate, and family (and dogs), have established one of Australia's most respected truffle farms, organically grown and respectful of the environment, and while doing so are building an environmental infrastructure to restore the land to it's former healthy habitat.
Peter Marshall, 
Terra Preta Truffles, 
Braidwood, New South Wales

The Marshall's in action with Sal looking for her reward, while Shadow does the work with Kate.

For a dog let loose on a gentle sloping hill bathed in bright winter sunshine, birdsong in the air, Sal looks bored. Standing under a 10-year-old hazelnut tree, the golden Labrador-kelpie cross turns her head away as if to yawn. Suddenly her paw comes out and lightly pats the earth in front of her. In spite of all appearances, she has been working hard, all her energies concentrated in her nose, which sits about 20 centimeters above the rich autumnal leaf litter underfoot.
The second half of this crack truffle-hunting team, Kate Marshall, moves in with a slim truffle pick, gently breaking up the soil and scraping it away with gloved hands. She murmurs constantly to Sal, who appears to be patiently waiting for the human to find what the dog already knows is there.
And there it is – a nobbly chocolate-brown truffle the size of an apple. This is the holy grail of gastronomy; the rare, precious and mysterious black Perigord truffle (Tuber melanosporum) that has been the food of kings and inspiration of poets for centuries. Suddenly, Sal is focused, intent, staring – not at the truffle but at Kate’s pocket. Sure enough, a little dry doggie treat issues forth and it’s on to the next tree.
Hunting is a macho business, full of guns, traps, blood and pain. Truffle-hunting is a gentler pursuit, requiring skill, intuition, strategy, experience, a good nose and a close, trusting relationship between dog and human. ‘‘They have a symbiotic relationship, Kate and Sal,’’ says Peter Marshall, of Terra Preta Truffles near Braidwood, a historic country town with streets as wide as football grounds. Peter and Kate, sons Keith and Angus, and daughter Rita are all obsessed with these edible fungi; Peter most of all.
When we look at a tree, we see a tree. When he looks at a tree, he sees the other half of the story, buried underground. ‘‘Half the forest is below the ground,’’ he says. ‘‘So when I prune, I prune to create fruit that is invisible and underground.’’
This ‘‘underground fruit’’ is the truffle, produced by the tiny straggly white threads (mycorrhiza) that feed and receive nutrients and moisture to and from the tree.
Slow Living's Sal, gets coaching from Peter
 The truffles’ strong aroma is thought to have been developed to attract animals that would then dig them up, aerating the ground around the tree and dispersing the spores. ‘‘The tree and the truffle depend completely on each other,’’ Peter says. ‘‘In fact, native truffles are vital to Australia’s forest system.’’
A renowned arborist and forester, he brings obsessive scholarship andrigour to the preparation of the soil and selection of tree stock for truffle-growing.
At Terra Preta, he has planted hazelnut and oak, reinstated natural waterways and ploughed the ground, doing everything possible to turn what he calls ‘‘devastated’’ land (soil compacted from years of animal grazing and cropping, with damage from irrigation, pesticide use and gold mining) into soft, loamy friable soil.
The softer and healthier the soil, he says, the easier it is for the tree roots to spread and truffles to form. Soft and springy underfoot, the soil here is a marvel. You can dig into it with your bare hand and break it up as easily as a rich flourless chocolate cake.
Terra Preta truffles are flown to truffle specialists Friend & Burrell in Melbourne and also on to France, Italy and the US.

Monday, September 12, 2016

09/12/2016 - Smith-Madrone launches new season Riesling, and Host Sally James on Australia

Stu SmithGeneral Partner, Enologist, Smith-Madrone

Stu (right, with brother, Charles and Sam

Brothers Stuart and Charles Smith are the vineyard managers and winemakers of Smith-Madrone Winery. Also in the family attic is the Fetherolf family, German farmers from the Palatinate region, who came to America on the Good Ship Thistle in 1730. The name for the winery came as a tribute to the Smith brothers who pursued their dream and to the Madrone trees which distinguish the property.
In May 1971, with a partnership of family and friends, Stuart Smith bought the 'terroir' which today is Smith-Madrone Vineyards & winery. He was 22 years old and had just received his B.A. in Economics from UC Berkeley and was taking classes towards his Master's in Viticulture at UC Davis. In trying to find land to plant vineyard in the Napa Valley, through a family friend he explored a forest on the remotest and highest part of Spring Mountain and discovered that the land had been a vineyard in the 1880s and in fact had been part of the wagon trail route between Napa and Santa Rosa. Today he is respected for his expertise and leadership as a mountain vineyardist.

Stuart was born and raised in Santa Monica. While pursuing his master's at UC Davis, Stuart was the first teaching assistant for wine industry pioneers Maynard Amerine and Vernon Singleton in 1970-1971. He taught enology at Santa Rosa Junior College and Napa Valley College; he has chaired the 1986 and 2006 Napa Valley Wine Auctions. He is an active member of the G.O.N.A.D.S. (the Gastronomical Order for Nonsensical and Dissipatory Society), a group of Napa Valley vintners who started getting together for monthly lunches in the 1980s. He served on Napa County's Watershed Task Force for several years, appointed by the Board of Supervisors; in 2006 he was appointed again by the Board of Supervisors to sit on Napa County General Plan Steering Committee, responsible for updating Napa's General Plan, a three year project. Stu also serves as auctioneer for an Omaha (NB) charity auction every year.

Stuart served as Scout Master for St. Helena's (Boy Scout) Troop One for many years. He is an avid canoeist, having canoed through the Quetico Wilderness in Canada many times and often canoes the Klamath and Trinity Rivers in California. He has five children and two grandchildren; the family includes a photographer, beekeeper/artist, management information specialist, up-and-coming winemaker, wine distributor salesman and high school sophomore.

Smith Madrone Riesling

Beginning with their 1983 Riesling vintage, Smith-Madrone boldly went where no other American winery would go for the next 17 years – changing their label from Johannisberg Riesling to the true and correct name – Riesling. This is just one example of the winery’s commitment to this wonderful and somewhat overlooked varietal. At Smith-Madrone their goal is to make artisanal wines which are distinctive and are an expression of both the vintage and the vintners, but above all else, are wines which bring pleasure to the senses.

Every year Smith-Madrone wine is made from the same vineyards, pruned by the same people in the same way, cultivated in exactly the same manner and harvested at similar levels of maturity, yet Mother Nature stamps each vintage with a unique set of flavors, senses and character. Vintage dating is a celebration of that uniqueness and diversity.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

08/29/2016 - California Wine Month

September is around the corner and Slow Living Radio celebrates the vintners, wines and winemakers of California for California Wine Month.  We welcome Nancy Light of the Wine Institute and Kathleen Heitz Meyers of Heitz Wines to bring us the details on the month and an insight into the extraordinary wines of this vast and diverse region.

California Wine Month

SAN FRANCISCO—September is the time when California’s wine grape harvest is in full swing. Visitors can experience the excitement of harvest during California Wine Month in September with more than 50 winery events and immersion experiences—from wine festivals and winemaking classes to winemaker dinners, VIP tastings and tours happening around the state.

This September marks the 12th annual California Wine Month, created by Wine Institute to honor America’s top wine-producing state. “The celebration recognizes the contributions of vintners and growers to our state economy, culture and lifestyle,” said Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, president and CEO of Wine Institute. “With an economic contribution of $57.6 billion annually to the state economy and $114.1 billion annually to the U.S. economy, California wine is an important economic engine for our state and our nation. Our scenic wine regions draw visitors worldwide to enjoy California’s great wine, cuisine and attractions.”

Here’s a complete listing by region of all the events. Visit to view events by date and order a map of California wine regions and their 138 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). For great California wine and food road trip ideas click here.

Nancy A. Light,
President of Communications

Nancy A. Light is Vice President of Communications for the Wine Institute, a trade association of 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses dedicated to enhancing the environment for the responsible consumption, production and enjoyment of wine.  With three decades of experience in strategic communications for wine and related businesses, she is responsible for guiding the organization’s media relations, member communications and issues management agenda.

Light manages several Wine Institute programs designed to support the long-term growth and vitality of the California wine industry. “California First” is an initiative to identify and communicate the positive and distinctive attributes of California wine to consumers, trade, media and public officials. Working in collaboration with regional winery and grower organizations around the state, she helped create California Wine Month, a signature promotion in September that engages wineries, growers, regional associations, restaurants and retailers in showcasing California wine and is now in its tenth year.  Down to Earth Month in April is another statewide campaign that highlights the commitment of California’s growers and vintners to sustainability and green practices.

Light helped orchestrate Wine Institute’s participation in a strategic partnership with Visit California, the state travel and tourism commission, to promote California wine and food throughout the U.S. and in key international markets.   She is a Board member and frequent speaker at wine and wine tourism industry conferences.

Prior to rejoining Wine Institute in 2004, Light was Vice President of Public Relations for the Robert Mondavi Company for seven years and also ran her own PR and communications consultancy. 

Kathleen Heitz Myers
President and CEO

Years of hands-on experience in every facet of the family business inspired Kathleen Heitz Myers' deep-rooted love of winemaking. Her firsthand knowledge of every aspect of running a winery combined with a broad-based education in science, genetics and the culinary arts uniquely prepared Kathleen for her dynamic leadership role at one of Napa Valley’s most revered wineries.

The Heitz family values education, and Kathleen approached  her studies with the intent of gaining an international perspective. She began her scientific studies in Switzerland, ultimately earning a Biology degree from the University of Oregon. She also attained a lifetime teaching credential from UC Davis, and continued her education in France and Thailand with the study of cuisine.

In 1978, she returned home, eager to contribute to the Heitz Wine Cellars winemaking legacy. Her career at Heitz began in sales and marketing, where she spearheaded a program to export Heitz wines to markets around the globe. Her ability to identify innovative ideas and flawlessly execute them won her the family’s vote of confidence to lead the entire operation.

Since 1998, Kathleen has been the President and Chief Operating Officer of Heitz Wine Cellars. She has charted a highly effective course for the winery by embracing frontline business practices while continuing to preserve Heitz's commitment to quality and innovation.

Kathleen’s ability to create long-term relationships has fostered valued business connections and friendships with customers, employees and community leaders alike, a vital cornerstone of Heitz Wine Cellars’ ongoing success. Her respect for community involves her service on several boards-of-directors including past Chairman of Wine Institute, past President of Napa Valley Vintners, past President of Wine Service Co-op and the Advisory Council for the Land Trust of Napa County.

“My parents believed in the American dream of building a family business,” says Kathleen. “I think they would be amazed at the far-reaching impact of our small winery today. We hear stories from people around the world who celebrate life with Heitz wines, and we promise that we will continue to polish our legacy.”

Kathleen is married to St. Helena businessman George Myers, who is also an avid wine connoisseur and fly fisherman. They synchronize their busy schedules to travel together often as Kathleen represents Heitz Wine Cellars around the world.

About Heitz Wine Cellars

Founded in 1961, Heitz Wine Cellars is a true Napa Valley legacy: a multi-generation, successful family business that has held true to its founder’s vision for decades and continues to stand proudly in the world’s spotlight. Pioneering vintner Joe Heitz and his wife Alice shared an innovative, entrepreneurial spirit that helped usher in Napa’s modern era with his iconic, globally-celebrated wines—including Napa Valley’s first vineyard-designated Cabernet Sauvignon, the legendary Heitz Cellar Martha’s Vineyard—and the vision that Napa Valley wines could achieve international recognition. Today, the Heitz family is steadfastly upholding the principles and unwavering commitment to quality that built a wine portfolio of enduring excellence, while thoughtfully modernizing and diversifying the business. With hands-on management of the winery and organically farmed vineyards, the Heitz family continues to offer quintessential wines, made with 100% Napa Valley fruit, that celebrate their agrarian roots and commitment to the stewardship of Napa Valley, a place they call home.

Chris Indelicato
President and CEO
Wine Institute officer

Chris Indelicato leads the third generation of family management at Delicato Family Vineyards, one of the country’s fastest growing wineries consistently recognized for its strides in product innovation and category leadership. With more than a decade of experience as President and CEO of the family-owned business and over 90 years of California winemaking and grape growing heritage, Chris oversees the winery’s strategic direction, company culture and commitment to sustainability.

Born and raised in Manteca, California where his grandfather, Gaspare Indelicato broke ground on the family’s first vineyards in 1924, Chris was not simply exposed to, but wasingrained in the art and business of making wine since day one. A child of the vines, he spent his pre-adolescent and teenage years alongside his father and uncles harvesting, crushing, bottling and even pouring behind the counter of the family’s tasting room.

"I work with my family, the most important people in the world to me, every single day. I am constantly reminded that each employee, each vendor, each grower, each consumer is also part of our family."

Chris went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles where he quickly launched his post-graduate career as a licensed Certified Public Accountant. Chris’s time in the financial field provided invaluable experience and a renewed interest in returning to the family business. Convinced there was significant opportunity yet to be tapped, Chris returned to Delicato Family Vineyards in 1994 and went to work. Initially spending time alongside his brother, Jay on the viticulture and winery operations side, Chris continued his evolution within the company as the National Accounts Manager, followed by responsibility as Chief Financial Officer. Following years of research, experience, relationship building and an unwavering passion for continuing his family legacy, Chris assumed the role as President and CEO in 2004.

Under the leadership and vision of Chris, Delicato Family Vineyards has grown to rank among the top 10 wineries in the United States in volume with an annual production exceeding 7 million cases. For the last three years, with Chris at the helm, Delicato Family Vineyards has driven the third largest amount of revenue growth in the wine industry. Named Wine Enthusiast magazine’s 2011 “American Man of the Year” for his outstanding achievement in innovation, distinctive brand positioning and big picture thinking, Chris has led the successful launch and long term, national and international success of brands like Gnarly Head, Noble Vines and Bota Box. Today, Chris is as focused as ever. With prestige brands like Black Stallion Estate Winery in Napa Valley and groundbreaking entries like Belle Ambiance, the Delicato Family Vineyards portfolio continues to outperform the competition and over deliver on meeting the needs of the modern wine consumer.

Chris proudly serves as Vice President of the Winegrowers of Napa County, as well as Secretary of The Wine Institute, the public policy advocacy association representing nearly 1,000 California wineries. Most importantly, he is the proud father of two children, son Borja and daughter Caterina. Chris and wife, Maché make their home in Napa.

The Team