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Intl. Riesling Foundation Taste Profile

The white varietals of the Alsace region in France are extremely versatile and can be made into very sweet wines or very crisp dry wines.  Here at Claiborne and Churchill we have made Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Muscat for over 30 years in a dry style.

Since Rieslings are made in a variety of sweetness levels, how do you know if your bottle is going to be dry or sweet? Most wineries will specify on the bottle, but not all do! Even if it says ‘sweet’ or ‘dry’, you can not trust what’s on a label because there is no scientific definition of these terms and it’s simply the winery’s interpretation. So, exactly how dry or how sweet are these wines?

The International Riesling Foundation, IRF, has the answer. The group created an official scale for Riesling wines to let the consumer know just how sweet or dry it is. The scale can be used on bottles, any promotional material, or even verbally to help explain the taste of that wine.

There are four categories for the scale: Dry, Medium Dry, Medium Sweet, and Sweet.

International Riesling Foundation: Riesling Taste Profile

The winemaker calculates the ratio of residual sugar to acid in the wine. The smaller the ratio, the dryer the wine; the larger the number, the sweeter the wine. The winemaker then measures the pH of the wine to determine the specific category it fits in and where the arrow should be placed on the scale.

Riseling Scale, Claiborne & Churchill Winery, IRF

Claiborne and Churchill utilizes the Riesling Taste Profile to showcase the dry yet crisp qualities of Riesling that our winery is so well known for. We have seen that it is really helpful for our customers and hope it will spread to some of our other white varietals. Keep your eye out for the IRF’s scale on your next bottle of Riesling or come on in and grab a bottle of our newly released 2015 Dry Riesling!


Pinterest & Wine: The Perfect Match

DIY (do it yourself) is all the rage right now! There are more and more television shows about crafting and videos are all over Facebook. The hub for all of these design projects is, of course, Pinterest. Started in early 2010, this social media platform has since grown to over 110 million monthly users across the globe, according to LinkedIn. The pins, which often link to websites, are about topics from fashion, to recipes, to gardening and home decor with everything in between. One of the biggest uses for Pinterest is DIY projects. From big to small and quick to time consuming, they have it all!

Claiborne & Churchill recently created our own Pinterest page! It is growing with recipe ideas, pairing options, wine gifts, and, of course, DIYs! We encourage you to follow us and stay updated with all the fun ideas Pinterest has to offer!

Pinterest & Wine: Cork Crafts

Make your own wine cork key chain!  Use the cork from your last bottle of Claiborne and Churchill red. Twist a screw eye into the bottom of the cork and you’re done! A bonus with this craft is it floats!

key chain, cork, Claiborne & Churchill, Pinterest & Wine

Put those corks to good use! Keep your cords straight with this quick tutorial. All you need is a cork and bungee cord!

Claiborne & Churchill, cork, crafts, Pinterest & Wine

Corks are the perfect holder for a succulent! Hollow out the end of a cork then plant a clipping inside it. Then glue a magnet to the side and you’re ready!

Claiborne & Churchill, crafts, corks, Pinterest & Wine

Pinterest & Wine: Bottles

Put one of your empty bottles to work! With a little wood working knowledge you can make this bird feeder for your backyard and garden.

Claiborne & Churchill, bird feeder, bottle, wine, Pinterest & Wine

Make some cute wall decor! This project will only take you less than half an hour to create and will look great with some flowers inside.

Claiborne & Churchill, wine, bottle, display, Pinterest & Wine

Follow our Pinterest page for more craft ideas along with recipes, vineyard photos, and wine gifts!


Harvest 2016: Preparation & Predictions

With the beginning of August behind us, we are looking forward to our most exciting time of the year: harvest! The grapes are almost ready for their metamorphosis into some great wines. We have some special inside information into Harvest 2016 for Claiborne & Churchill from Winemaker Coby Parker-Garcia. Keep reading to see his explanation of how harvest works and his predications of how it will turn out this year.

Claiborne & Churchill, Harvest 2016


Harvest 2016 predictions:

Things are looking great for the upcoming 2016 Harvest! We are expecting higher yields of fruit compared to 2015. This year’s harvest will still be an early one, however, we will begin picking fruit about two weeks later than last year. Over the past decade we have seen a consolidated in the time span of which we harvest our grapes. There are some days where we are picking Riesling and Pinot Noir on the same day. So, we are seeing the ripening track close together.


How to decide when to pick:

We are expecting to start harvesting fruit in the next week. To decide when we start, it is important to test the fruit to make sure the flavor profile and sugar levels are at the right spot for optimal wine making. Coby makes frequent visits to the vineyards to sample the fruit, even the Riesling and Gewürztraminer vineyards in Monterey county. In the last days before picking, Coby is keeping a close eye on the forecast as heats spikes will accelerate ripening. August has had great weather for the end of the growing season with the morning fog and afternoons in the eighty degree range.


Next steps:

After the grapes arrive at the Claiborne & Churchill crush pad, it’s time for the next steps for Harvest 2016! This is where some of the processes differ from one variety to the next. See how it works for reds, whites, and rosé below!

White Wines:

All of the white grapes for Claiborne & Churchill wines are whole cluster pressed; that takes just over ninety minutes to extract the juice from the skins. After this, the juice is pumped into a tank to cold settle ( at 40 to 50 degrees) where the solids fall to the bottom and the juice is racked off its solids to another vessel for fermentation. The clear juice then ferments in the vessel of choice, which at our winery is either barrels or stainless steel tanks. Fermentation in the barrels takes about three weeks compared to the stainless steel tanks which takes five to six weeks. After that, they can be transferred into a new clean vessel.

Red Wines:

For the red grapes, we de-stem the grapes and leave them as full berries. For some, we even leave the stems on! The grapes then sit in fermentation vats for two weeks and get punched down 3-4 times per day. The grapes do a three to five day cold soak and then we inoculate with three different yeasts or allow for native fermentation. All red wines go through malolactic fermention (about 3months) with the exception of our Port. After secondary fermentation SO2 is added to the barrels and topped every two to three weeks. After aging for 8-14 months the wine is filtered and bottled.

Cuvée Elizabeth Rosé of Pinot Noir:

We pick the Pinot Noir a little earlier for the Rosé and then crush and de-stem the grapes into ¾ ton fermentation bins. After 17 to 24 hours of skin contact the juice is Saignée and racked into neutral oak red wine barrels. Select yeast is added, and the juice ferments for about 3 weeks to a month. The Rosé is then racked back into clean barrels and ages for 4-5 months.

A small percentage of finished white wine is blended into the Rosé to increase aromatics and fruitiness. The finished blend goes into stainless steel tank where it sits for about one month before being fined, filtered and then bottled.


We are excited for harvest 2016 to begin and are looking forward to making our ever popular Sparkling Wine, a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as a new Grenache/Syrah blend. Check out our social media accounts for updates on Harvest 2016 at Claiborne & Churchill!


Wine Tasting: Why does it work?

wine tasting, claiborne and churchill

Wine tasting in California has evolved into an ever growing industry associated with leisure and tourism. Originating in Napa, it then spread to the Edna Valley in the early 1970s according to SLO Wine Country. Thousands of people flock to California wine regions each year to taste the wines produced.

So, how do you get the most out of tasting? Let’s talk about it!

Make sure you are tasting the wines in the best order. Generally, start with the whites, then reds, then finish with desserts. This makes sure the tannins of the reds don’t affect the taste of the whites. If you are tasting at a winery, they will have a tasting list to follow that will have the wines listed in the best order to taste. Follow these steps to get the best impression of the wine: swirl, sniff, sip, swish, and swallow or spit.

Anyone that  has been tasting before, is likely to know that. But scientifically, why does wine tasting work?

Even though it is titled “Wine Tasting” after our sense of taste, this activity uses almost all of your senses. Especially smell!

claiborne and churchill, wine tasting

Before taking a sip, it is suggested to swirl around the wine and smell it to see the aromas the wine brings out. This can be just as much a part of the tasting process as tasting! Sometimes if you enjoy the taste, you will still be turned off because of the smell!

Now take a sip! The wine will hit your taste buds and immediately release a reaction, whether it is sweet or sour!

Then, it’s back to you sense of smell! People will say that they taste things like berries and cola when they try wine. However, we don’t get that reaction through our taste buds. It’s through smell! When you swirl your sip around in your mouth the aromas travel internally to your nose when you identify the flavors you think you are tasting.

We can’t forget about the sense of sight either! This has to do with how the wine looks in the glass, but also so much more. As a kid, everyone was told not to judge a book by it’s cover, but you can’t help it! This also applies to wine labels. The better the label deign, the better the first impression. Tasters also judge the bottle by the winery it was made by and where they purchased it. There will be a better expectation for a bottle coming from a well-known high-priced winery than a bottle from your local grocery store.

The best way to make sure your sense of sight doesn’t influence your wine tasting is to use a black wine glass!

Who knew we had to thank our nose for so many of the details we pick up when tasting a new wine? So now it’s time to put this knowledge to work. Cheers!


Dinner On The Deck with Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir, Claiborne & Churchill, Dinner on the Deck

Last week the staff at Claiborne & Churchill came together for a fun evening. Clay & Fredericka hosted a Dinner on the Deck at their home. This evening under the stars was filled with some great wine, great food, and great company. We all enjoyed the opportunity to spend time together outside the winery. This event was dedicated to one of our favorite varietals, Pinot Noir.

Coby, our winemaker, led a tasting challenge.  Similar to a party example in our last blog post, we had to match the bottle of wine to the wine region provided. The regions to pick from were: Oregon, Santa Barbara, New Zealand, Burgundy, Sonoma, and San Luis. We had a great time and were truly stumped at some of the pairings.

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2014 Marlborough Pinot Noir

Winery: TWR – Te Whare Ra

Region: New Zealand

This wine is a mix of two different vineyards in New Zealand. Harvest was in March of 2014 after what they call a “textbook summer.” It spends 11 months in French oak with 796 cases produced.

2012 Chorey-lés-Beaune

Winery: Tollot-Beaut

Region: Burgundy

The winery produced two cuvees that will be merged to form a blend the January before it is bottled.

2014 Pinot Noir

Winery: El Lugar

Region: Santa Barbara

The fruit for this wine is from Santa Maria and uses two clones: Pommard & Martini. It was harvested in August of 2014 and it spent 11 months in French oak barrels. It was bottled nearly a year later and 164 cases were made.

2012 Russian River Pinot Noir

Winery: Alysian

Region: Sonoma

This wine was made of six different clones from five different vineyards, which are all Russian River vineyards. Then, it spent fourteen months in barrel with about 30% of that being new French oak.

2013 Select Pinot Noir

Winery: Brick House

Region: Oregon

This ‘Select’ wine includes fruit from all of this winery’s Pinot Noir clones and blocks. After spending 15 months in neutral French oak, this wine was bottled in February 2015. They produced 535 cases of this barrel select wine.

2014 Classic Estate Pinot Noir

Winery: Claiborne & Churchill

Region: San Luis Obispo

The Estate Twin Creeks fruit included three clones: #113, 2A, and Martini from the Edna Valley. After harvesting September and early October 2014, it aged for 10 months in 35% New French Oak. This 29 barrel blend then was bottled in August 2015 making 787 cases.


All of the staff had a great time trying to match up these delicious Pinots with the region they originated from. After this tough test, we enjoyed a number of other great Pinots with dinner. Pinot Noir has had a home at Claiborne & Churchill for decades and we loved getting to see how other regions are utilizing this amazing grape.


Host a Wine Themed Party!

Greengate_Photo, Host a Wine Themed Party

Looking to do some entertaining this summer? We have all the details on how to host the perfect wine party!

Wine Tasting Party:

Host a Wine Themed Party

This is sure to be a fun night trying out a variety of red, white, and dessert wines. Start off the night by making sure everyone knows the right way to taste! To get the best sample, make sure to swirl, sniff, sip, swish, and swallow or spit. Then get to tasting! We suggest having two white, a rosé, three reds, and a dessert option. Even consider taking your party to the next level with printed wine tasting card from Club W here to track your tastings! Compare your favorites to your friends’ picks! Enjoy your top picks with some food to celebrate the rest of the evening.

Blind Wine Tasting Party:

Host a Wine Themed Party

Put your wine tasting knowledge to the test against your guests!  See who is the wine expert of your party! Pick a few varietals to highlight that are either all red or all white. Or, have two rounds: the white, then the red! Cover the bottle and give them a number to keep them straight. Then print out descriptions about the wines to help them guess the varietal. Don’t forget to find the corks so no one can cheat! Can your guests watch the wines up correctly? Maybe get come little gifts for the winners!

Wine Pairing Party:

Host a Wine Themed Party

You can find so many things to pair with wine! Get your friends together to try some of them out. Using a paper tablecloth makes it easy to label all the food and show what wine it should be paired with. It may be hard to figure out what pairings to use with all of the options, but our favorite is pairing the wine with cheeses, meats, and other easy finger foods! This doesn’t take much prep leaving you plenty of time to spend with your guests. For dinner, you could also have a casual evening with a wine and pizza pairing! What about dessert? There are plenty of options for that as well. End the night by pairing wine with some sweet treats like, candy or chocolate!

Wine Art Party:

Host a Wine Themed Party

Art bars have become increasingly popular in the last few years. Guests are able to spend time together with a glass of wine while they follow the instructor to make their own work of art. Why not have your own art bar for a night? Get creative! Invite your friends over for a night of wine, art and fun. With some canvases, brushes, and paint, you are on your way to becoming Picassos! Easels can be expensive but you can make your own out of unused pizza boxes. Check out how here!

We may be biased, but we think the best party is a party centered around wine! Try out some of these parties with your friends!

 

 


Trails of SLO Wine Country

We may be a little biased, but we believe that the trails of SLO Wine Country are surrounded by some of the most spectacular views and breathtaking nature. These trails are a fun way to get active while admiring our scenery! The Central Coast’s moderate climate also allows us to enjoy this beauty almost 365 days of the year. The Claiborne & Churchill staff is excited for a summer filled with great hikes, and we wanted to share some of our favorites with you!


Easy

 

bluff trail, claiborne & churchill, hike, Trails of SLO Wine Country

Bluff Trail

4.7 mile loop

291 feet elevation change

This trail is a nice easy loop that takes you through the beautiful coastline of Montana de Oro State Park. Open year round, it offers great views of the ocean and wild flowers. It is a great trail for kids, but dogs are not allowed.

bob jones, claiborne & churchill, hike, Trails of SLO Wine Country

Bob Jones Bike Trail

2.6 mile out & back

101 feet elevation change

This trail is friendly to walkers, runners, bikers, kids & dogs! Stroll along the foothills with beautiful views and end up in Avila Beach. It can get crowded during weekends and holidays, but the scenery is worth it!

oso flaco, claiborne & churchill, hike, Trails of SLO Wine Country

Oso Flaco Lake Trail

1.5 mile out & back

6 feet elevation change

This is the easiest trail that starts by a lake near Nipomo and ends up by the Pacific Ocean. The board walk of the trail leads you above water and sand with gorgeous views of the wild life.

reservoir canyon, claiborne & churchill, hike, Trails of SLO Wine Country

Reservoir Canyon Trail

5.0 mile out & back

1286 feet elevation change

This trail is accompanied with beautiful scenery but the big benefits are the breathtaking views from the top. It is a great opportunity to bring kids and dogs to see the wildlife, wild flowers & waterfall along the way!


Moderate

 

bishop's peak, claiborne & churchill, hike, Trails of SLO Wine Country

Bishops Peak Trail

6.6 mile out & back

2332 feet elevation change

Hike the highest of the Nine Sisters, a chain of volcanic peaks stretching to Morro Bay! This trail leads to gorgeous views of San Luis Obispo and the coastline along the Pacific Ocean. This trail is even more spectacular when you watch the sunrise of the sunset from the top!

cerro san luis, claiborne & churchill, hike, Trails of SLO Wine Country

Cerro San Luis Trail

4.0 mile loop

843 feet elevation change

Hike around Madonna Mountain where the trail is surrounded by beautiful green landscape and wildflowers. See the town of San Luis Obispo from above and enjoy views of the coast. It is a great hike and dog friendly!

islay hill, claiborne & churchill, hike, Trails of SLO Wine Country

Islay Hill Trail

1.7 mile out & back

488 feet elevation change

This trail takes you to the top of the eastern most of the Nine Sisters. It is one of the quickest of these moderate trails taking less than an hour total. The views from the top are 360 degree sights over San Luis Obispo and Edna Valley.

valencia peak, claiborne & churchill, hike, Trails of SLO Wine Country

Valencia Peak Trail

3.3 mile out & back

1108 feet elevation change

This trail takes you up Valencia Peak in Montana de Oro. At the top, you will be rewarded with gorgeous views of Morro Bay, Cayucos, and even further on clear days. Leave your dogs at home for this one!


We hope you put some of our recommendations to the test! Tag us in your hiking pictures and share with us which trails are your favorite. We believe a nice cool white or rose is the perfect way to celebrate the accomplishments of a long hike. Cheers to a fun summer spent in the surroundings of our Central Coast!

All information and pictures from alltrails.com.


Roll Out the Barrels

roll out the barrels, claiborne & churchill

Join us for this fun weekend celebrating the great wines of SLO Wine Country. The 26th Annual Roll Out the Barrels celebration brings winemakers, locals, and visitors together that have one thing in common: the love for wine. Don’t miss out on this weekend full of great wine, great food, and great company!


SLO Wine Country Roll Out the Barrels Events:

Barrels in the Plaza

Mission Plaza, Downtown San Luis Obispo

Thursday, June 23rd – 4:30-7:30pm

4:30 VIP Early Entry, $100 – 5:30 General Admission, $80 – At the door, $90

The weekend starts out in the heart of downtown San Luis. Fifty wineries and restaurants are coming together to share with the attendees. This night filled with food and wine pairings will be accompanied by live music from the Damon Castillo Band. There is no better way to kick start the Roll Out the Barrels Weekend than this!

Taste the Coast Collaborative Winemaker Dinner

Claiborne & Churchill Winery

Friday, June 24th – 5:30 Wine Reception & 6:30 Dinner

Tickets $160 per person

This year Claiborne & Churchill is hosting the Roll Out the Barrels Special Event! We are excited to have the Taste of the Coast Collaborative Winemaker Dinner at our winery also featuring Peloton Cellars, Stephen Ross, Tolosa, and Verdad. These wines will be paired with a five course prepared by Brian Collins, chef & owner of local favorite Ember Restaurant. 


Claiborne & Churchill Roll Out the Barrels Events:

Aromatic White Wine Challenge

Saturday, June 25th – 11am-3pm

$15 per person – $10 for Club Members – Waived with $50 purchase

A Claiborne & Churchill staff favorite! Join a C&C team member in our tasting/barrel room to test your palate with a fun and challenging blind tasting of aromatic white wine! Each guest is given a flight of five wines to compare and contrast the aromatics, color, mouthfeel, taste and finally determine which varietal is in each glass. Guest who get all five varietals correct win a free Claiborne & Churchill logo hat!

Aromatic White Wine Tasting & Oyster Reception

Saturday, June 25th – 10:30am – 12:30pm

$50 per person – $40 for Club Members

Join C&C Winemaker, Coby Parker-Garcia, on our crush pad overlooking our Estate Vineyard for an educational blind tasting of our signature aromatic white wines. From wine to glass, Coby will walk you through the key attributes of the five highlighted varietals. Following the seminar, guests will enjoy a reception with fresh oysters in our garden with bistro seating and a picturesque view of the surrounding Edna Valley.

Pinot & Paella: The Past, Present and Future of the Twin Creeks Pinot Noir

Saturday, June 25th – 5-7pm

$65 per person – $55 for Club Members

Calling all Pinot lovers! Join us for a five year vertical tasting experience featuring library and current vintages plus a barrel sample of the 2015 vintage of our Twin Creeks Pinot Noir. Winemaker Coby Parker-Garcia will discuss the growing conditions, different clones and the winemaking practices of these limited bottlings. Enjoy a Paella and Pinot reception in our garden with bistro seating and live music by Chris Beland. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste and purchase these wines including futures of the 205 vintage that’s still in barrel!


The 2016 Roll Out the Barrels Weekend is sure to be a hit! SLO locals can use the promo code “GOLOCAL” to save $20! Not only is it a great time for locals but also visitors to the Central Coast! They are offering 20% off your Roll Out the Barrels ticket when you book your stay in SLO! Check out more information about it here and we’ll see you at Roll Out the Barrels 2016. Cheers!


Wine? There’s an app for that!

There’s an app for everything now! From checking the traffic to finding a restaurant, these pieces of technology help us do things easier. We wanted to share some of the wine apps that we’ve come to enjoy. Check them out for yourself and try them in SLO Wine Country!

claiborne and churchill, wine, apps, wine apps

Wine Apps: Our Top App Suggestions for You!

#1 Delectable

Delectable, wine, wine app, claiborne & churchill

Price: Free!

So how does it work? Just take a photo of the wine label. In seconds, it will identify the wine and allow you to view reviews and tasting notes on that bottle from industry leaders.

You can also create your personal wine journal through the app. Add your own ratings and tasting notes for you to access in the future. You can even share your recommendations with friends.

Don’t forget to see the recommendations from the experts! On this app you can follow the industry leaders and  winemakers from your favorite wineries to see what they are enjoying!

This app is ready to help you find your next favorite wine!


#2 Vivino

wine, wine app, vivino, claiborne & churchill

Price: Free! (Vivino Premium available for $4.99/month)

Similarly, this app allows a quick photo to unlock a vault of knowledge about the wine you are about to drink! From average price, reviews, and food pairings, there is so much for you to learn.

Do you find yourself overwhelmed at the wine lists restaurants have? Use this app to scan the entire wine list to see the top ratings and reviews.

You even are able to see the trending wines in your area and find the best deals on your favorite bottles!

You will be a wine expert in no time thanks to this fun app!


Wine Enthusiast Magazine has a great post about some of their favorite apps! Make sure to check out the ones they recommend. Click here to see it yourself!

What about you?

Now that we’ve shared some of our favorites with you, download them and try them out! Do you already have some favorite wine apps? Let us know the wine apps you have come to love!


Tilapia Vera Cruz Recipe

As the summer approaches, we wanted to share this delicious Tilapia Vera Cruz recipe with you! It was created by Don Reynolds who is a retired chef and former Claiborne and Churchill employee. This dish is quick and easy to make, and most importantly pairs perfectly with any of our white wines. Make sure to grab a bottle from our tasting room or here at our website.

tilapia vera cruz, claiborne and churchill, recipes

Tilapia Vera Cruz Recipe:

PREP TIME: 15 minutes 
COOK TIME:
 15 – 20 minutes 
SERVINGS:
 4 – 6  depending on appetite

INGREDIENTS

5 tablespoons olive oil – 3 tbsp for the sauce and 2 tbsp for the fish
4 cloves garlic – minced
1 small onion – chopped
¼ cup drained capers
1 cup sliced green and black olives – combination dependent upon preference
½ tablespoon jalapeno – minced
3 cups diced fresh tomatoes
½ teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lime – cut into 6 wedges
Fresh cilantro for garnish
6 tilapia fillets – 6 oz. size

*You can substitute another fish such as red snapper, orange roughy, grouper or cod*

DIRECTIONS

In a large skillet heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic, onion, capers, olives and jalapeno.  Sauté until soft for 1-2 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, cumin, salt and pepper and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Pat dry each tilapia fillet and flavor with salt and pepper.  In another large skillet heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and gently swirl to coat the pan.  Gently place fish into the oil and sear for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden and flakes easily.  Place cooked fish on a serving plate and spoon the sauce from the pan over the fish.  Squeeze a wedge of lime juice over the top and garnish with a sprig of cilantro.  Serve with Spanish rice and Cuban beans.

PAIR WITH ONE OF OUR WHITES AND ENJOY!