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Monday, August 31, 2015
August 31, 2015 | 11:22 AM

As harvest season kicks into high gear in Sonoma County's wine country, see how the winemaking team at Francis Ford Coppola Winery keeps it all together during their busiest time of year.

Click here to see the video.

Friday, August 28, 2015
August 28, 2015 | 1:16 PM

Harvest on DAOU Mountain in Paso Robles. 2015 vintage clusters being collected by hand at night.

August 28, 2015 | 10:56 AM
Thursday, August 27, 2015
August 27, 2015 | 10:23 AM

"First day of red grapes harvest. Beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon being sorted in the first optical sorting system in Paso Robles. Let's crush!" - Daniel Daou.

This is the MOG (material other than grapes) removed by the optical sorter:

For more information about optical sorters, check out Eric Stern's product review here. To see how optical sorters are being used at Columbia Crest Winery in Washington state, check out our December 2014 issue.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015
August 25, 2015 | 11:08 AM

Toronto, Canada. August 25, 2015:

For the first time ever one of Canada’s most celebrated winemakers, Norman Hardie, will lead an exclusive food and wine journey through his South African homeland, this coming March. Epicurean South Africa with Norman Hardie is a brand new, gourmet experience curated by Quench Trip Design, Toronto’s most discerning destination experts, specializing in tailor-made travel. Over twelve-days, South African-born Hardie will lead his travelling gourmand and wine loving guests away from the tourist trail to explore his favourite wineries and eateries, from a winemaker’s perspective.

Hardie’s welcoming friends and pioneering colleagues – who happen to be the country’s best winemakers – will open their cellars to Quench guests, allowing them access to explore the many layers of the wine industry, like no other. For example, along the Swartland Wine Route, travellers are treated to a special tasting of winemaker Christa von la Chevallerie’s exquisite sparkling, Filia. Travellers will experience both boutique family producers like AA Badenhorst Family Wines and famous estates including Klein Constantia.


As much a celebration of food as wine, travellers will eat in South Africa’s top restaurants, like The Greenhouse, featuring Peter Tempelhoff, Cape Town’s first Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef, and The Foodbarn, headed up by Chef Franck Dangereux. Sample regional dishes like Perlemoen Sosatie, the South African name for an abalone, prepared on a skewer, and Kabeljou, a succulent local fish. In De Hoop Nature Reserve, one of Hardie’s favourite spots in the South African wilderness, travellers will dine around a traditional African starlit boma. De Hoop is a magnificent coastal reserve featuring deserted beaches, interesting rock pools, beautiful fynbos (uniquely diverse shrublands), a wetland with more than 200 bird species, and a number of small game. It also offers some of the best land-based whale watching in the world.

The journey has been crafted with a mix of seaside cottages, historic luxury retreats and family-run farm stays, all distinctly South African. Guests will also have time to explore South Africa’s dramatic scenery from Cape Town, the rugged Western Cape and Cape Winelands rolling farmlands, Chapman’s Peak and the Cape of Good Hope.

Epicurean South Africa with Norman Hardie is the newest addition to the 2016 Exclusively Quench collection, a series of fully-guided, small-group journeys hosted by some of Canada's most talented artists & winemakers and creative Quench guides. This is Hardie’s first trip with Quench Trip Design.

Rates are $6,975 CAD, based on double occupancy, and include:

  • 11 nights’ accommodation in luxury boutique hotels including breakfast
  • 4 dinners and 7 lunches with wine and tips included
  • Guided half-day tour in Cape Town
  • Full-day driving tour of Chapman’s Peak and Cape of Good Hope
  • Wine tastings at hand-picked wine estates in Constantia, Walker Bay, Cape Winelands, Swartland, and Elgin Valley, as noted in the itinerary
  • The expert guidance of trip host Norman Hardie
  • A full-time dedicated Quench Guide
  • Luxury group vehicle and driver throughout the trip
  • Return airport transfer to Cape Town International airport

For more information about Epicurean South Africa with Norman Hardie, visit or call (416) 366-2777.

About Norman Hardie

Norman Hardie is one of a select few winemakers who has mastered the art of tasting, growing and making wine in both hemispheres and in six wine regions around the world. In his early twenties he received his sommelier certification from the esteemed wine program at the University of Dijon in Burgundy and put his skills to work as a sommelier for Four Seasons Hotels for six years. His insatiable thirst to master the art of winemaking led him on a six-year journey apprenticing for the very best producers/winemakers of cool climate varieties in Burgundy, South Africa, Oregon, New Zealand and California. Located in Prince Edward County, Ontario, Norman Hardie Winery has established itself as one of Canada's premier wineries. It now has 25 acres of land under vine in Prince Edward County and continues to work with the most dedicated growers on some of the best sites in the Niagara Peninsula. His wines have received numerous accolades in both the local and international market

About Quench Trip Design

With 30 years experience roaming the world and a lifetime of travel stories, Quench is your global destination expert. Specializing in tailor-made travel programs for individuals, families and small groups, Quench turns dream trips into a reality. From private guides, boutique hoteliers, art historians, chefs, winemakers and more, Quench’s black book of personally cultivated relationships and local experiences covering the globe means that travellers get access to hidden gems and unique journeys that no travel agent or booking website could ever organize. The Exclusively Quench collection is a rotating series of fully-guided, small-group journeys curated by Quench and hosted by some of Canada's most talented artists & winemakers and creative guides. Their Quench Express itineraries offer travellers a diverse selection of predesigned journeys that are no less carefully conceived and are every bit as inspiring as their individually tailored trips. For more information, visit

Thursday, August 20, 2015
August 20, 2015 | 10:58 AM


Night Picking at Hirsch Vineyards, from Jasmine Hirsch.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015
August 18, 2015 | 7:40 AM

"Beautiful sunrise for the first pick of the vintage. This is the earliest we've ever picked for still wine in the history of Hirsch Vineyards." posted Aug 15. by Jasmine Hirsch

Monday, August 17, 2015
August 17, 2015 | 2:26 PM

What decade is this? Several headlines involving Russia's consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor crossed my desk today about supposed pesticide residues in California wines. Note that all are in response to the same anouncement so they're all going to seem similar to each other:

The Journal of Turkish Weekly:
Russia suspends sale of three types of US wine

Russia Beyond the Headlines:
Rospotrebnadzor removes from turnover U.S. wine with excessive content of harmful substances

The Moscow Times
Russia Bans Three U.S. Wines

Russia suspends sale of three California wines


Now, I'm all for pesticide residue analyses, but as Chris Mercer notes in his piece for Decanter, the analysis from The Moscow Times probably has the right take on the situation. The timing of the ban seems to point to geopolitical maneuvering and the "banned" wines merely got cut by the rattling sabres.

by Curtis Phillips | August 17, 2015 | 2:17 PM

The CDFA PD/GWSS Board announced that they are having a special meeting 10 a.m. Wednesday (08/19/2015) to discuss the increase in Pierce's Disease on the North Coast.

This off-cycle proposal is a result of two observations. First, there are widespread reports of increases in PD in Napa and Sonoma counties at levels unseen during the last two decades, if not longer. Second, a large proportion of vines, and in some cases most of the vines, that have symptoms are not adjacent to riparian zones. These observations, while not scientific, have been made throughout Sonoma and Napa counties and relayed from growers/managers to UCCE Farm Advisors, who have independently confirmed these observations.

The board will hear from the Research Screening Committee, and then may vote on funding the project.

The agenda for the meeting may be found here.


Saturday, August 8, 2015
by Curtis Phillips | August 8, 2015 | 4:56 AM

There's nothing new about adding stuff to beer or wine. The Romans did it, Greeks did it, the Egyptians did it, and the Babylonians and Sumerians probably did it.

Baijiu or shaojiu is not wine, but rather a vodka-like distilled beverage usually made from fermented sorghum. All the same, I've been getting so many press releases lately about "functional beer" that I was wondering how long it would be before someone had the bright idea to put a viagra-spiked adult beverage on the market. According to the ever-cheeky tech website, The Register, that "bright idea" has already been acted upon, albeit illegally. The press release about the incident from the Liuzou Food and Drug Administration may be found here (in Chinese).


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