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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

12/28 - SURF, SIP & DINE SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA with Stephen Abronson of Pourtal Wine Tasting Bar, Todd Roberts of ZJ Boarding House & John Gordon of Ye Olde King's Head

Surf's Up!  It was Slow Living Santa Monica style as Slow Living Radio headed to Southern California to Surf, Sip & Dine Santa Monica with guests Stephen Abronson of Pourtal Wine Tasting Bar, Todd Roberts, avid surfer, instructor and owner of ZJ Boarding House and John Gordon, manager of the iconic Ye Olde King's Head.

Courtesy Pourtal Wine Bar
Pourtal Wine Bar is a playground for the wine enthusiast and the wine curious. Combining the traditional wine bar concept with a state-of-the-art self-service tasting room, Pourtal offers an exceptional wine experience that allows guests to explore at their own pace.

A thoughtful wine list, which includes everything from award-winning bottles to rare small-batch labels, features 40 wines by-the-taste via the innovative Enomatic machines — whose high-tech dispensing system keeps wines pristine pour after pour—and another 25+ wines available by the glass, in addition to many artisanal beers. 
Tasting Tours rotate frequently to always give you something new to explore and learn about.  

Courtesy Pourtal Wine Bar
Pourtal owner Stephen Abronson, who grew up in Malibu Canyon, got the idea for the wine bar years ago as a student at USC’s Graduate Film Program. After working in “the Industry” for a few years, Abronson made the bold move to step away and allow his interest in wine and his entrepreneurial spirit to dovetail. 
Three years ago he heard about the Enomatic wine system, popular in Italy but still a rarity in the U.S. and he trekked to the few west coast venues featuring the Enomatics and realized the untapped potential of these innovative systems. As further research, he took a job with one of L.A.’s largest wine retailers and worked at a wine bar on the Third Street Promenade where he observed local trends and interacted with local diners and drinkers to get their feedback on what the neighborhood really wanted and needed in wine bar. 

During this time, Stephen set out to find the perfect location for his new tasting room. When the Santa Monica Blvd. location, across the street from Bar Pinxto, next to Sushi Roku and Robata Bar, and two blocks from the Third Street Promenade became available, Abronson knew he’d found his spot. He hired acclaimed architect and designer Sat Garg of Santa Monica-based Akar Studios to remodel the eco-friendly interior and Peter Birmingham to create the wine program. Fade out, fade in... Pourtal has became Santa Monica's new hot spot neighborhood wine bar!

Ever since their humble beginnings as a hole-in-the-wall surf shop back in 1988, ZJ Boarding House has shared its passion for surfing with the local Ocean Park community and beyond. As the store grows both physically and in inventory, the same levels of knowledge and passion are applied to skateboarding and snowboarding.  Their dedication to riding boards, customer service and product knowledge has only increased over the years.  They pass on expertise and knowledge to customers and help them make the right decisions based on their skill level.

Steve Andrews & Todd Roberts of ZJ Boarding House
talk Santa Monica surfing
Pourtal's Stephen Abronson shares an Orgeon by Alsace
tasting with Todd Roberts

John Gordon of Ye Olde King's Head shares British-style 
Slow Living with Steve Andrews

Sunday, December 19, 2010

12/21 - INAUGURAL NAPA TRUFFLE FESTIVAL: Interviews Featuring Robert Chang and Dr. Paul Thomas of the American Truffle Company and Michelin Star Chefs Ken Frank, Gabriel Kreuther & Sylvain Portay

On Tuesday, December 21, 2010, Slow Living Radio celebrated a special broadcast from the inaugural Napa Truffle Festival hosted at the Westin Verasa. It was a unparalleled weekend of scientific exploration, education and culinary marvel in praise of the sumptuously irresistible family of fungi know as the black truffle!

La Toque's Wine Director Scott Tracy & Chef Ken Frank

The Napa Truffle Festival, introduced by The American Truffle Company and presented by Lexus, brought together two complementary aspects involving European truffles: world renowned  chefs for their truffle cuisine, and the leading truffle scientists recognized for their expertise and data on truffle cultivation, Dr. Paul Thomas and Dr. Alexander Urban. Gourmets and intended truffle growers each found unique activities during the festival from a farm tour to seminars to truffle laden meals, to satisfy their craving for truffles and for knowledge.

Chef Gabriel Kreuther of The Modern
describes Saturday's truffle extravaganza!

Unique to this Festival, a 13 Michelin Star team of six chefs: Ken Frank of LaToque, Gabriel Kreuther of The Modern, Nancy Oakes of Boulevard, David Kinch of Manresa, Josiah Citrin of Melisse, and Sylvain Portay of Alain Ducasse, led culinary demonstration classes, spent quality time with festival guests and showcased their unique skills and talents in the Michelin Star Truffle Dinner on Saturday evening. 

Robert Chang of American Truffle Company
with the Michelin Star Chef Lineup
Steve Andrews & Sally James "unearth"
truffle secrets with Dr. Paul Thomas

Recognized globally as a culinary mecca, as well as one of the top wine-producing regions in the world, Napa Valley served as the host for the festival weekend. Napa is also home to some of the world's finest restaurants, many of which provided seasonal truffle menus in conjunction with the festival. The Westin Verasa Napa became "truffle central" throughout the weekend - a perfect choice considering Executive Chef Ken Frank’s coveted LaToque Truffle menu, now in its 29th year.

Chef-educator Doug Duda, who is known for his engaging and exciting style on and off television, gave the keynote speech for the festival kickoff.  Part of the festival's mission was highlighting and helping to improve the still-widespread hunger here in the U.S. and globally. 

As the Napa Truffle Festival showcased one of the most treasured foods in the world, it also contributed part of the proceeds from the event to the Hunger Project and Feeding America.

Chef Josiah Citrin
of Melisse Restaurant
brandishes his Cabillaud, Salsify with
Spanish Onions and Brown
 Butter Burgundy Truffle Sauce

Chef David Kinch of Manresa
tempts with his Spot Prawn with Black Truffles

Chef Sylvain Portay of
Alain Ducasse weighs in
on summer truffles

Sunday, December 12, 2010

12/14 - Mark Caldwell, Executive Chef for J Vineyards & Winery and John Robertson, Undersheriff for Napa County

Executive Chef Mark Caldwell
of J Vineyards & Winery
Slow Living Radio saluted the holidays with sparkling effervescence and a message of community mindfulness. First we'll met J Vineyards Executive Chef, Mark Caldwell to talk about holiday entertaining, sumptuous recipes and celebrating with bubbles!  Next, Napa County Undersheriff, John Robertson shared a timely holiday message about yuletide mindfulness and slowing down from Napa County's new "Stop & Think" community awareness program.
Executive Chef, Mark E. Caldwell works from an intimate knowledge of J wines to match them with the finest seasonal Sonoma County fare.  Mark grew up helping his mother make meals for their family of 10 children. Every meal was the size of a dinner party, and it seemed natural for him to move from the family kitchen to the restaurants of Northern California. He joined J Vineyards & Winery in 2003, and loves changing the menu regularly to reflect the freshest local ingredients. Some of his favorites include Prawns with Spicy Peanut Sauce paired with J Pinot Gris, or Braised Painted Hills Beef Short Rib Parmentier with J Pinot Noir. His favorite part of the job? Watching a guest take a bite of his food, a sip of J wines — and smile with pleasure.
A Legacy that Sparkles 
(from J Vineyards & Winery)

Founded by Judy Jordan in 1986, J Vineyards & Winery began as a producer of critically-acclaimed sparkling wines like our J Vintage BrutJ Late-Disgorged Vintage BrutBrut Rosé, and Cuvée 20 Brut. However, Judy, always curious and innovating, came to the realization that her vineyards would also be ideal for producing site-specific, cool-climate Russian River Valley varietal wines like Pinot NoirChardonnay, and Pinot Gris, as well as the highly lauded sparkling wines.

Founder and President, Judy Jordan, holds a degree in Earth Sciences/Geology from Stanford University and knows something about rocks and soil. Her passion for the land and understanding of what goes into making world-class wines has no boundaries. Accompanying Judy on this exploration of wine excellence are veteran Winemaker, George Bursick, and Viticulturist, John Erbe. Both have become knowledgeable experts on all aspects of  Russian River Valley terrain, and their dedication shines through in all J wines.

As one of the largest estate vineyards in the Russian River Valley, J Vineyards & Winery has embarked on a journey of exploration of their terroir, that while already 25 years in the making, has really only just begun. In geologic terms, we are still in the embryonic stage. The wide variety of alluvial soils found in the 254-acres of Russian River Valley estate vineyards have been forming for millions of years and are continually revealing new nuances.
Today, they continue to build on Judy's 25 year legacy of excellence to bring you both award-winning sparkling wines as well as highly-lauded varietal wines. Visit J Vineyards & Winery today at

Recipes for Our Tasting & Pairing Menu of the Night!

Roasted Chestnut - Fennel Soup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 leeks (white and pale green parts only), chopped
½ teaspoon minced garlic
½ fennel bulb, stalks and core discarded and bulb coarsely chopped
 ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon thyme, chopped fine
2 cups roasted, shelled, and skinned chestnuts(1 lb in shell or 14 oz bottled whole)
4 cup chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup half-and-half
Kosher salt and white pepper to taste
1 bunch chives, chopped fine
White truffle oil as needed

Place a 5-quart stock pot over medium heat, then add first six ingredients and cook until softened. Add chestnuts and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth and bay leaf, bring to a simmer and cover, cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat; add half and half. Purée soup in batches in a blender until smooth. Return soup to pot and heat to desired temperature. Garnish with chives and truffle oil.

Serves 6-8

Serve with J Cuvée 20 Brut NV, Russian River Valley

Dungeness Crab Caskets with Melted Leeks

1 sheet puff pastry

Preheat oven to 425º.
Cut pastry into 1-inch by 2-inch rectangles. Carefully score top in a crosshatch pattern. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cut in two, creating a top and bottom.

Dungeness Crab:
½ pound Dungeness crab meat, picked through to remove shell
Extra virgin olive oil as needed

Lightly dress crab with oil; refrigerate until ready to assemble.

Melted Leeks:
3 cups cleaned leeks, white part only, sliced thin
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
4 ounces butter
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup Crème Fraîche
Salt and Pepper to taste

Melt butter in heavy bottomed pot over very low heat; add leeks and thyme, cover. Cook till leeks are tender, about 1-2 hours, stirring to ensure no browning. Add cream and bring just to a simmer. Pour into blender and purée. Strain through a Chinois. Let cool and stir in Crème Fraîche.

To serve, spoon leek mixture on bottom half of casket. Add crab and cover with lid.

Makes about 30-40 pieces

Serve with J Cuvée 20 Brut NV, Russian River Valley

Apple-Apricot Scone, Granny Smith Apple Butter, Crème Fraîche

Yields 24 one and half inch triangle scones

2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 ounces cold butter, cubed
1 egg
1/2 cup cream
1/3 cup diced dried apple
1/4 cup diced dried apricot
Preheat oven to 425º. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in mixer. Once mixed add butter one cube at a time. Then add egg, cream and blueberries. Roll dough to ½ inch thick and cut into desired shape. Place on a greased sheet tray and bake for 12 minutes.

Apple Butter:
5 pounds Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons orange juice
Bouquet Sachet*
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup honey
In a large heavy bottomed pot place apples, cider vinegar and orange juice; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Stir occasionally, until apples are soft, 40-50 minutes. Add sachet, sugar and honey. Cook partially covered, over very low heat. Stir occasionally, until apples fall apart (resembling sauce) about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Remove from heat and let cool before storing in refrigerator.

*To make Bouquet Sachet:
1 cinnamon stick
6 whole cloves
4 whole allspice
2 teaspoons dried lavender
Place above ingredients in cheesecloth. Secure with cooking twine.

Crème Fraîche:
4 ounces Crème Fraîche

Whip in a mixer until light and fluffy.

Makes 24 pieces

Serve with 1999 J "RRV" Vintage Brut, Late Disgorged

Spiced Apple Cake, Robiola, Hector's Honeycomb

Apple Spiced Cake
Yields 4 small loaves

3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ¼ cups sugar
¾ cup (packed) golden brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons bourbon or brandy
1 ½ cups unsweetened applesauce
3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/3 inch cubes
Robiola cheese

Preheat oven to 350º.
Whisk first seven ingredients in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat butter
until fluffy. Add both sugars and beat until smooth. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla, then bourbon. Mixture may look curdled. Add flour to egg mixture in 3 additions alternately with applesauce in 2 additions, beating until blended after each addition. Stir in apples. Divide batter into well greased small loaf pans (2 inch x 7 inch) filling about ¾ full. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35-45 minutes. Due to oven variations it may take as long as 50-60 minutes. Transfer to racks and allow to cool in pan for 15 minutes. Remove from loaf pan once cooled. Serve with Robiola cheese topped with honeycomb.

Makes about 40 pieces

Serve with 1999 J "RRV" Vintage Brut, Late Disgorged

All Recipes Courtesy of Chef Mark E. Caldwell
J Vineyards & Winery

John Robertson
Napa County Undersheriff
Undersheriff John Robertson started his law enforcement career with the San Mateo, CA Police Department in 1981. He moved to the Napa Sheriff's Office in 1991 where he worked his way through the ranks to his current assignment as Undersheriff in the Sheriff’s Office. John holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from San Diego State University and is a graduate of the Sherman Block Supervisory Leadership Academy, Leadership Napa Valley and the Senior Management Institute for Police (SMIP - Boston, MA).  John is a certified Hazardous Devices Technician and is a member of the California Peace Officers Association, Police Executive Research Forum and Leadership Napa Valley.  As Undersheriff, John recommends policy to the Sheriff and oversees the daily operation of the Napa Sheriff's Office.

Community Mindfulness in Tune with Slow Living

Starting in September, the Napa County Sheriff’s Office launched its own, very simple messaging campaign; “Stop and Think”.  “Stop and Think” is an effort to remind residents, visitors, and ourselves, to slow down, stop, and think about how our actions may affect others and ourselves.

You should begin to see their “Stop and Think” message in many locations, including:

• Bumper stickers on Napa County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Vehicles.
• Napa County Sheriff’s POPP Deputies will be distributing 4”x 4” static cling window stickers (“Stop and Think”) to businesses and residents, water bottles (“Stop and Think”) to cyclists, and 4”x 4” rubber coasters (“Stop and Think”) to winery tasting rooms. 
• Napa County Sheriff’s Deputies will be issuing 4”x 4” rubber markers (“Stop and Think”) to motorists/cyclists/field contacts in lieu of citations, when a warning is appropriate.

Life can be complicated ……but their message is simple: The Napa County Sheriff’s Office would like you to “Stop and Think” about the consequences of your actions.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

12/7 - Victor Perton, Victoria, Australia's Commissioner to the Americas

We welcomed the honorable Victor Perton, Victoria, Australia's Commissioner to the Americas, to talk about Victoria's rich food, wine, travel and lifestyle culture, and getting a taste of the great Victorian lifestyle in the U.S. Then we discovered some Slow Living secrets and cultural insights from this continental trekker on his personal experiences traveling the Americas!

With impressive international and Australian experience and a resilient, happy and engaging nature, Victor Perton offers high quality leadership, governance, engagement and events services.  He is an excellent board member, chair and round-table moderatorVictor brings passion, enthusiasm, global networks and a zest for success to every project.  

Supported by the experienced team at Oppeus International, he offers Asia-Pacific's best leadership search, assessment and coaching.

Victor works with summit organisers and organisations as an engagement-expert to ensure excellent action-orientated conversations before, during and after the event.  

Victor served as Senior Adviser in the Australian G20 presidency supporting Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey's leadership of the Finance Track of G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors.  He played an important engagement role in the Brisbane G20 Leaders Summit which then Australian Prime Minister Abbott described as "the most important gathering Australia has ever hosted."​  

Victor is a former Commissioner to the Americas building investment, trade, global supply chains & supporter networks.  His life experience includes 18 years as a parliamentarian, practice as a barrister, mediator, arbitrator, businessman, board service and mentor in the public and private sectors. 

By nature optimistic and resilient, Victor leads with a mindful, compassionate, calm and adaptable style. He is instinctively collaborative, developing and maintaining strategic partnerships. 

Victor has outstanding communications skills including speech making & writing, leading roundtables, conversation and social media. Victor's LinkedIn peers rate him highly for leadership & strategy, international relations, public policy, corporate governance and public relations. His professional qualifications and experience include law, economics, education, technology & innovation and environment.

Friday, November 26, 2010

11/30 - An Evening with Wine Legends Nils Venge of Saddleback Cellars & Jim Allen of Sequoia Grove

Wine legends Nils Venge & Jim Allen
Slow Living Radio visited with two legends of the wine world, Jim Allen of Sequoia Grove Winery and Nils Venge of Saddleback Cellars to talk about wine, life, and world travels!

Nils Venge - Nils graduated from UC Davis in 1967 with a BS in viticulture and a minor in enology. In 1970, after serving a tour of duty in Vietnam, Nils began his career in the wine industry as a vineyard supervisor for Charles Krug Winery and later, Sterling Vineyards.  By 1973 Nils made the transition into winemaking by becoming winemaker and general manager for Villa Mount Eden.  

In 1982, Nils joined forces with Dennis Groth to form Groth Vineyards and Winery. Nils served as winemaker and general manager. In 1985, Nils was bestowed the honor of being the first American winemaker to receive a perfect ‘100 Points’ from Robert Parker Jr. for Groth’s Reserve Cabernet. In that same year, Nils began making wine under his own label, Saddleback Cellars, from grapes grown on property he and his father-in-law owned together. Saddleback Cellars’ first vintage was released in 1982. 

Nils parted from Groth Vineyards in 1993 to become a consulting winemaker and to make wine under his own label, Saddleback Cellars.  Nils later added Venge Vineyards, a Venge family operation with his son Kirk.  Envy Wines is his newest collaborative venture.  In addition to now consulting for Fortress Vineyards, Nils' winery clients include such prominent wineries as Keenan, Del Dotto, Plumpjack and Moss Creek. 

Jim Allen's background includes a Bachelor's Degree in psychology from Temple University, a Master's Degree in political science from the University of Colorado and graduate studies in philosophy at Innsbruck, Austria. While serving in the army, Jim studied German and then worked as an interpreter with the United Nations in Germany, Austria and Greece. During these years, Jim educated his palate to European wines and developed his philosophy of traditional European attitudes toward wine and winemaking. He believes that wines should not be exaggerated expressions of their varietals and creates his wines to be approachable and elegant while still young and continue to develop character and complexity with age.

Founded by Jim Allen and his family in 1980, Sequoia Grove is named for the grove of giant redwood trees which encircles its century-old building in the Napa Valley. The 24 acres of vineyards surrounding the winery lie in one of Napa Valley's most superb microclimates, midway between Rutherford and Oakville on the famous Rutherford Bench, in close proximity to Beaulieu Vineyards on the north and Opus One on the south. Not only did the Allen Family single-handedly transform their property by completely remodeling the property's old redwood barn into a modern winery and planting acres of new vines capable of producing an outstanding Bordeaux blend, they were also the developers of 110 acres of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines in the Carneros district which new comprise the Domaine Carneros estate of Champagne Taittinger.  ###

Monday, November 22, 2010

11/23 - Italian Winemaker Dario DeConti of Ca' Momi and Dr. Judith Caldwell, Chairwoman of the Arts for Yountville

Chef & Winemaker Dario DeConti

Slow Living Radio celebrated the Italian lifestyle in appreciation of food, wine, art and culture. Guest chef & winemaker Dario DeConti dished up the pleasures of the Italian table from Ca' Momi, while Dr. Judith Caldwell offered the broader brush stoke of a deep and meaningful love letter of art and culture from Italy to Napa Valley.

The Ca' Momi Story - Ca’ Momi Wines are named for our family home in Northern Italy. The name also pays tribute to Momi dea Bionda, the previous owner who was famous for his obsession with the house, his grapes and his wine. 

A Dario original at the Enoteca
at Napa's Oxbow Market

 When we came to America, we knew we wanted to make wine here, and to capture some of the spirit of our family traditions.  Of course, we are just a little bit obsessive about our wines, too! We want them to be fresh, fruity, and full of life.  They are wines to be enjoyed. 

Dario De Conti and Stefano Migotto, our winemakers, spend a lot of time finding just the right sources for our grapes and wines in California.  Napa Valley is great for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc and our red and white table wines: Rosso and Bianco.  Carneros for Pinot Noir, and other vineyards around California for our Pinot Grigio, and our Moscato.  Also, we have introduced something new to California; Ca’ Secco, the first Prosecco style sparkler made in California.

And for dessert...
the amaretti!

We are the first winery in the U.S. to feature the Nova Twist closure. This plastic cap makes the bottle 100% recyclable (unlike traditional metal screwcaps), has no sharp edges, and has approximately 1/3 the carbon foot print of metal screw caps. That’s good for Mother Earth!

La Dolce Vita: In Italy, wine is a part of life, and we want you to make Ca’ Momi wines a part of your life, too.  We craft impressive Napa Valley wines at reasonable prices, so that you can enjoy a great glass of wine every night for dinner, just like we do!

Dr. Judith Caldwell
Dr. Judith Caldwell’s richly diverse professional experiences in education have provided her with opportunities to incorporate the arts into both the early elementary grades as well as the University level . . . and now into the community. Judith was a pioneer in conceptualizing, planning and developing Art Enrichment Programs for the Connecticut Public School System and was a pivotal co-founder of the Napa Valley Charter School, a Waldorf-based, arts-infused educational setting.  Judith’s academic degrees and educational background include a Doctoral Degree in Staff Development from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, a Masters Degree from the University of Chicago Investigating the Process of Learning, a Masters Degree in Spirituality from Santa Monica University, Certification in Art Therapy from The New School of Social Research in New York City and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education from St. Mary’s College of Notre Dame in South Bend, IndianaDr. Caldwell is an Advisory Board member of Insight University’s Masters degree program in Leadership based in New Mexico. A community-minded and service-oriented woman, Judith’s 5-year political term on the Yountville Town Council demonstrated her commitment and creativity to the town of Yountville.

An art glass sculpture by artist
Gordon Heuther is one of many brilliant
pieces throughout Yountville procured
through Dr. Caldwell's efforts

Judith served on the Napa Valley Arts Council and Napa County Commission of Art and Culture. She is now the Chairwoman of the Arts in Yountville, California, where she lives with her husband, Jay, and their son, Michael.  Extensive travel throughout the United States, Europe (especially Italy) and Canada as well as her ministerial work with multiethnic people have afforded her opportunities to understand, respect and appreciate cultural diversity.  ###


Friday, November 12, 2010

11/16 - Miles & Marko Karakasevic, Winemakers & Master Distillers of Domain Charbay

Miles & Marko atop their
Charbay Alambic Distiller
Slow Living Radio visited with father & son master distillers Miles & Marko Karakasevic, 12th and 13th generation Yugoslavian winemakers and distillers who are Napa Valley legends!

Miles Karakasevic is a European winemaker and Master Distiller. Born in old Yugoslavia, he apprenticed in the tradition followed by the Karakasevic family since the 1750's. Following in their footsteps, learning the secrets of his forefathers, he eventually became certified as a Master Distiller, a title earned by equaling or bettering the work of another Master. Along the way, Miles studied Enology and Viticulture at the University of Belgrade and in Germany. Immigrating to the New World in 1962, Miles first stopped in Canada and Michigan before eventually settling in California in 1970. In 1972, he and Susan purchased the seventeen-acre property on Spring Mountain that now is home for the family as well as for Charbay. In the following years, Miles worked with some of the best wineries, including Italian Swiss Colony and Beringer Vineyards, where he was assistant winemaker. Longing to distill, he convinced a client to import an Alambic Pot Still from Cognac. Miles started two of the three distilleries in Mendocino County.

Miles tends the aging spirits

In 1983, he and Susan began making their own wines and brandy. Being comfortable with all aspects of fermenting and making many wines, even champagne, now he was excited to begin a brandy program. Miles has been distilling with his family ever since.

Marko Karakasevic at the "still"

Marko Karakasevic grew up around pumps, hoses and tanks. This was his father's world and the family always lived close to the winery where Miles, his father, made wine. Marko graduated from St. Helena High School and spent a year at Davis where he began his studies in sports physical therapy. However, harvests would find Marko working in various Napa Valley wineries.

After working in a Napa Valley tasting room, he discovered he liked all sides of the wine business—from production to sharing his winemaking experience with visitors. In the fall of ’95, Marko realized he wanted to apprentice under his father and be the 13th generation to carry on the Karakasevic family tradition. That's when his parents realized: "He's the man we've been looking for." From that point on, he has submitted to the same tough routine of generations of Karakasevic men and women before him: learning the winemaking, the distilling and the running of a family business where one must wear many hats. The Charbay Distillers' Port is a spirited salute to this father and son team. Marko conceived the idea of Charbay's whole-fruit flavored vodka program. He found the fruit and designed the packaging. Now, with two generations of enthusiastic winemakers/distillers behind the Charbay label, there are even more releases of "perfumes for the soul” to watch for.

Give Marko a few days off and he’ll head down to Baja. There’s a little town where they all know him and he stays with the fishing boat captains. BV, ‘Before Vodka’, his travels were longer. One was a summer trip through South America with time in Cusco and Machu Picchu during the Summer Solstice. Lately his trips have been New York City and Las Vegas! Marko, like everyone in this family, likes to travel & explore. Marko, no matter where he roams, always loves coming home to his St. Helena and his mountain top. He carries on the tradition as generation XIII.
Marko became a Master Distiller with the release of his Doubled & Twisted Light Whiskey. 

Cheers, Marko!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

11/9 - Live from the 2010 Santé Restaurant Awards in Napa Valley

Tuesday, November 9th was a special edition of Slow Living Radio as we broadcast live from the 13th annual Santé Restaurant Awards at the Villagio Inn & Spa in Napa Valley.  Talk about traversing the globe!  We made the most of the event and our time as we visited with three internationally distinguished professionals -Sebastiano Ramello representing "Italy's breadbasket region" Piemonte, Italy, expert mixologist Charlotte Voisey from the UK, a brand ambassador for William Grant & Sons, and Santé award-winner Chef Phillip Ponticelli from Citricos at Disney's Grand Floridian in Orlando. 

The Piedmont Wine Region, particularly the Langhe sub-region, is the land of castles, vineyards and romantic hills shrouded in mist. The Alps hover over this lovely wine region. The region's name in fact makes reference to this. Piemonte means "at the foot of the mountain." In autumn, thick fog hovers over the brightly colored hills (the red and orange vines actually "glow" with the reflection of the snow-capped Alps) and you can just make out the castle tops and village spires poking out from the mist. Piedmont is located right in the north-west corner of Italy, with Switzerland to the north, France just west and the beautiful Mediterranean coast and fishing villages of Liguria only an hour and a half to the south. Piemonte is often called the "Burgundy of Italy," as it is most famous for its boutique wines and outstanding gastronomy (Piedmont is home to the famous white truffle). In fact, the region attracts gourmet travelers from all over the world who go there to enjoy regional delicacies such as risotto from locally grown rice, white truffles, and a cornucopia of luscious cheeses paired with some of the best wines of Italy. 

Sebastiano Ramello of Piemonte, Italy with
Slow Living Radio Host Sally James
 This type of traveller has been called the "Gastronaut," and Piedmont is firmly on the Gastro-map. The three best areas in Piedmont (for scenery and quality of wines) are the Langhe, Roero and Monferrato sub-regions. The principal city in Piedmont is Turin, a beautiful cosmopolitan city known for its superb chocolate makers. Winemaking in Piedmont is genuinely artisan and boutique. Most wineries are family-owned. Each label has hidden behind it the face, the work, and above all the secrets and traditions that have been handed down from generation to generation. Vineyards tend to be very small and neatly kept. Entire villages are dedicated to wine production and wine is part of daily life. The harvest festivals in Piedmont are almost as wild as Carnival (Carnaval), and nearly everyone participates in the local festivities. The wine villages of Alba and Asti are two of the most well known, and are definitely good choices as bases for exploring wineries and do some sightseeing. Alba holds the annual Truffle festival which attracts chefs from all over the world and Asti holds the medieval "Palio" festival, a lively event that presents the wine award Douja D’Or. The super star wines from the region are the DOCG Barolo, Red Roero and Barbaresco Cru wines named after the villages themselves where these Cru vineyards lie. They are tremendously rich red wines made with the native Nebbiolo grape. Piedmont is also home to many other native grape varietals such as Dolcetto and Barbera (two of the best red grapes, after the Nebbiolo) and Cortese (a white varietal used to make the deliciously fresh Gavi di Gavi wines) and another native white called Arneis, known for being highly perfumed and delicate. Piedmont is an absolute must for food and wine lovers visiting Italy. While Tuscany is full of monumental art cities such as Siena, Pisa and Florence, Piemonte's attraction is its small charming villages (like Grinzane Cavour, La Morra, Verduno, Barolo, Monforte, Diano D'Alba, and Gabiano). The food is simply out of this world, the landscape is stunning, the wines are sublime and the people extremely friendly – all of the components for an unforgettable gourmet tour! (from Journalist Sebastiano Ramello)

Charlotte Voisey of  William Grant & Sons talks the finer points
of mixology with Slow Living Radio co-host Scott Lewis
Charlotte Voisey - The lovely international award-winning mixologist visited with us to discuss the finer traditions of blending spirits with Hendrick's Gin from William Grant & Sons of Scotland at the top of the list!  Charlotte Voisey has directed bars in Barcelona, Buenos Aires and London. Charlotte first took an inerest in mixology under the guidance of the Gorgeous Group in London in 2002 when they opened Apartment 195 together, which was soon to be awarded Bar of the Year. Charlotte went on to win the title of Best Bartender at the UK Bar Awards in 2004, and a Silver Medal at the Female Bartender Championships in Italy.  Today, Charlotte Voisey travels the globe showcasing top brands as an ambassor for William Grant & Sons.

Chef Phillip Ponticelli visits with Slow Living Radio
before accepting a Santé Award for Citricos at
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort 
Now in its thirteenth year, the Santé Awards program was created to recognize excellence in restaurant food, wine, and spirits service and hospitality. The program includes four distinct categories: Culinary Hospitality, Wine Hospitality, Spirits Hospitality, and Service Professional.