Pop Ups… Workshops… and Sip&Shops, OH MY! It’s time to shake off that sleepy wintery coziness and welcome Springtime! Gone are the days where you came to our winery simply to taste wine, our calendar has been filling up fast with fun, interactive classes and workshops.
To kick things off, on March 24th we are hosting the Spring Sip & Shop, our barrel room will be filled with all of your favorite local vendors. From clothing to makeup to cooking supplies… You name it! A lot of our vendors are wine club members, and personal friends of ours. We are so thrilled to have the opportunity to open a space for them to share their passions, and get to know all of you. It’s In The Sauce BBQ Food Truck will be onsite! Plus, there’s wine. (If you have a small business and would like to be a part of future events like this, let us know! The more the merrier!)
If you are one of those people that loves hands-on crafts and activities (and wine) we will be hosting a few unique classes starting with Profesh Cookie Decorating Classes on March 31st! The theme is Spring Fling! These classes are so much fun, and Christy Wishingrad totally brings the artist out in you! Even those of us who are not particularly artistic manage to walk away with beautiful cookies! Plus a complementary swag bag filled with goodies is yours to take home! These classes do fill up quickly, so be sure to order your tickets. If you can’t make it to this class, save the date for the Easter Edition which will be held on April 14th.
If you’re not a cookie person, but you’re a wine person, sign up for Scott’s April Winemaker Tasting in the library room. This is an exclusive opportunity to taste wine with Scott, ask questions, learn fun facts and gain wine knowledge. Scott is not in the tasting room very much, so take advantage of these tastings. The next one is on April 14th, and we have been planning them on the second Sunday of every month.
If you ever go anywhere, you’ve noticed that succulents are IN, but not just a pot of Jade, or Aloe, it’s all about beautiful and creative arrangements. Succulents are drought resistant and shockingly self sustaining. They also provide the perfect opportunity for creativity, and decor, inside and out! On April 7th Lydia and Tierra Gardens will give a succulent workshop, and you get to create and take home your unique terrarium! Lydia offers hands on and guided instruction, to bring out the green thumb in you. (and if you swear you can’t keep a plant alive, this is a great place to practice, who knows, you just might surprise yourself!
We know how much people love to paint and drink wine, so be sure to join us on April 12th for this fun painting class! Time To Paint with Wendy Berry is a special painting experience like no other. Wendy is attentive, patient and talented. Whether you love to paint, or feel like your artistic skills are lacking, this is the best class to learn tips and tricks, and unleash your inner artist.
For you chocolate lovers, Cocoa Roma will be at Strey for a Pop Up Shop on April 20th. These are hand-crafted chocolates with delicious flavors and designs, just in time for Easter! Custom design orders for baby showers, birthdays, wedding and more are available on site! Our dessert wines will compliment these lovely chocolates perfectly.
*Information on each of these events is on our website, and Facebook*
I REALLY didn’t want this blog to sound like a newsletter, I am just so excited for all of the fun we have planned. I hope to see you all this coming Saturday for the Verdelho release! I know I have not been in the tasting room much this month, between my birthday March 2nd, the field trip with Scott, Katie and Husband to 4 local wineries on March 9th, and attending the birth of my best friend’s baby girl on March 15th. I hope you’ve all had a great time visiting with Darcey, and getting a little extra Katie time. I hope you all know how much I miss you when I am away! Don’t forget that Friday nights I keep Strey open till 8 so you can pop in for a glass after work to wind down and catch up.
“You don’t have any whites?” If I had a nickel for every time someone said this in the tasting room… The truth is, you often don’t find many white wines when you are wine tasting in local boutique wineries. It’s not because we don’t like white wine, it’s actually because the process to create white wine is very different. In fact, our first two white wines, the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc and the 2014 Chardonnay were made “off-site”, which is a way to say, “We did not ferment this wine, however, we did purchase the grapes and used a trusted winemaker in the region that the grapes were grown to make a wine to our specifications.” Please note, this isn’t laziness, making white wine requires different equipment, it’s expensive, and the process is pretty delicate. However, in 2017 Scott rolled up his sleeves and tried his hand at making his first white wine. (You may remember our remarkable Pinot Gris? Sadly, it’s just a memory because it sold out almost faster than we could bottle it!) In order to make our own white, we built a cold storage room within our storage space at Strey. This would not have been possible prior to 2017 because we hadn’t expanded yet. Our expansion really was imminent, not only did we need event space, but this opened us up to many more possibilities with wine making. A cold storage room is extremely important, as you know the weather in SoCal is pretty warm during Harvest season, which usually falls between August and October in Ventura County, #The805. The warmer it is, the faster the grapes will ferment. With white wine you need temperature control, particularly if you like crisp acidic white wine. At the time we just could not afford a jacketed tank, (if you’re like me you’re wondering what the heck that is, it’s a temperature controlled tank.) but we could sort of cheat the system by building a small room that we attached a small window AC unit to, we then bypassed the AC’s temperature sensors and viola, we were able to maintain a lovely 44 degree temp.
Because Scott loves crisp refreshing wine, it was important that we did not use barrels for fermentation. Instead we used stainless steel tanks. The benefit is that the wine stays airtight and won’t go into Malolactic Fermentation (ML). ML fermentation is a secondary fermentation that turns malic acid to the softer lactic acid. You may have heard the term used in regards to Chardonnay. It’s not quite as popular now, but Chardonnay used to be known for its creamy or buttery taste. That is a result of oak and ML fermentation. We did not want any of that for our Pinot Gris. Instead we wanted to lock in all of it’s esters, which are the basis of great aromas. Higher temperatures especially during fermentation increase the rate these esters are released, so between the cold storage and stainless tanks, we try to preserve the crisp acidity.
We absolutely fell in love with the Pinot Gris, and although making white wine came with a learning curve, we were really excited to try again. This time, we wanted to use grapes that you don’t often find in a tasting room, much like our signature series. We REALLY were hoping to procure Albariño grapes because Scott and Katie love Albariño. Sadly that did not work out this time around, but omigod you guys we were able to source Verdelho grapes! Verdelho originated in Portugal and was the most popular grape on the small island of Madeira, just off the coast of Africa. It also has been very popular in Australia. Typically Verdelho is fruity, and fresh when it’s young, but it’s said to be one of the few grapes that ages gracefully. I’ll be honest, from the tank samples I’ve tasted, I don’t see ours lasting on the shelf long enough to find out how well it ages. We can’t seem to keep ourselves from dipping in for barrel samples as it is! On March 23rd we will be releasing our 2018 Verdelho in celebration of springtime! Remember that our whites go fast, we make them in smaller quantities, and as it warms up, white wine is the most logical go-to in the tasting room, and poolside, beachside and obviously bedside. So as Katie would say, “Get em while they’re hot!” If you’re one of those very patient wine lovers, grab an extra bottle to lay down so we can see if it’s true that Verdelho ages well.
If you’re not a white wine fan, I encourage you to broaden your horizon and try our Verdelho with soft white cheeses, fruits and fatty meats. Scott and Katie like to pair it with Salmon Caesar salads. I may not be a foodie, but working in the tasting room has opened my eyes, stomach and palate to the magical world of wine pairing. I have learned that there is a time and a place for white wines. Especially if you like spicy foods. Pairing a sweet Riesling or Gewurztraminer with jambalaya is phenomenal. The flavors complement each other, creating an experience out of your meal.
Another fantastic wine for food pairing is a nice dry Rose. In 2016 and 2017 Scott made two lovely Mourvedre Rose’s. The grapes only sat on their skins for 4 and 6 hours at room temperature giving us a mellow salmon or coral color. In 2018 we decided to change it up and make a Barbera Rose. We let those grapes sit with their skins for 14 hours after crushing and de-stemming while they were cold soaking at 45 degrees which has given us a vibrant pink color. Like, it would have matched my hair if I still rocked pink! When we press, we are extracting the juice from the grapes themselves, up until then, the juice has “sat on the skins”. Cold soaking is a method used to extract color and flavor from grapes. The grapes cold soak on the skins. Generally extraction occurs during fermentation, but a lot of winemakers notice that cold soaking brings out different aspects of the grapes without it being too tannic. We are pretty excited to release our Barbera Rose this summer, I promise to give you a heads up once we have a definite release date!