Mike Hendry's family makes honest wines. The Hendry Ranch reds, whites and pinks just taste, well, like what wine is supposed to taste like: pure and rustic, well-defined and distinctive. Sometimes it's just as simple as that.
Maybe it's because his family has been farming the same Napa turf since 1939. Maybe it's because they work with grapes that they understand, from albarino to zinfandel. But most likely it's because of the caring hand these folks bring to growing grapes and transforming them into fermented juice.
What's absolutely certain is that Mike Hendry, the winery's third-generation vineyard manager, can provide a better explanation when he visits the Twin Towns this month. One of my favorite merchants, Top Ten's Bill Abrahamson, has arranged a seminar/tasting at 7 p.m. July 16 at Ray J's Banquet Room in Woodbury.
The cost? $10, which can be applied toward the purchase of Hendry Ranch wines. Which means it's gonna be free once you taste these wines and hear this story. For info, call 651-501-1199.
There’ll be no rest for the wicked on the weekend on May 18-19, as two of the year’s best events unfold.
Perhaps my favorite wine tasting of the year, Solo Vine’s rosé tent gala, commences in an enlarged space next to the store at 517 Selby Av. in St. Paul. There’s always super-swell food on hand and a bevy of tasty fermented grape juice.
And not just pink but white wines and plenty of that stuff with tiny bubbles. The event costs $35 and runs from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 19, rain or shine; call 651-602-9515 or go to solovinowines.com
I guess that means that, for me at least, Saturday the 18th will be the day to head to Minnesota Monthly’s GrillFest, where some great chefs, wine wholesalers and product purveyors will be on hand.
This one runs through Sunday, May 18 & 19, 1-5 p.m., both days, at the Depot (225 3rd Ave. S.) in Minneapolis. Tickets are $30 at Grillfestival.com or $35 at the show.
Guess I’ll have to put off the gardening chores for yet another weekend.
Time to stock your shelves with a new cookbook or two. The James Beard Foundation announced its winners Friday for its annual competition.
Cookbook of the Year: "Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America," by Maricel E. Presilla (W.W. Norton & Company)
Cookbook Hall of Fame: Anne Willan, for the whole of her cookbook authorship, which includes 30 books
American Cooking: "Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking," by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart (Gibbs Smith)
Baking and Dessert: Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza," by Ken Forkish (Ten Speed Press)
Beverage: Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours," by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding, and José Vouillamoz (Ecco)
Cooking from a Professional Point of View: "Toqué! Creators of a New Quebec Gastronomy," by Normand Laprise (les éditions du passage)
Focus on Health: "Cooking Light The New Way to Cook Light—Fresh Food & Bold Flavors for Today’s Home Cook," by Scott Mowbray and Ann Taylor Pittman (Oxmoor House)
General Cooking: "Canal House Cooks Every Day," by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer (Andrews McMeel)
International: "Jerusalem: A Cookbook," by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi (Ten Speed Press)
Photography: "What Katie Ate: Recipes and Other Bits & Pieces," Photographer: Katie Quinn Davies (Viking Studio)
Reference and Scholarship: "The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World," by Sandor Ellix Katz (Chelsea Green Publishing)
Single Subject: "Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard," by Nigel Slater (Ten Speed Press)
Vegetable Focused and Vegetarian: "Roots: The Definitive Compendium with More Than 225 Recipes," by Diane Morgan (Chronicle Books)
Writing and Literature: "Yes, Chef: A Memoir," by Marcus Samuelsson (Random House)
For a complete list of all the James Beard awards, go to http://www.jamesbeard.org/awards.
See the earlier posting of cookbook winners in the competition by theInternational Association of Culinary Professionals.
If you're like me, Valentine's Day tends to sneak up on you. I usually try to trot out something like "well for us, honeybunch, every day is Valentine's Day." and my way better half is too nice to dispute the point. (I like to think she actually agrees.)
Anyway, if a certain Hallmark holiday has arrived without your having chosen a fitting wine for the evening (or any evening), I have the answer. As a bonus, you'll be pumping money into the local economy.
One of the state's best wineries, Cannon River, .produces an ice wine, and this year's rendition is delicious. With a nectar-like texture and pure-as-the-driven snow flavor, it's well worth the $40 tab. I served it recently for some fellow cork dorks, and they were mightily impressed that such a swell sweet wine came from these parts.
In a normal year, I would be able to tout a second ice wine, but Winehaven lost its crop in late 2011 because it didn't get cold enough (what a concept!). As chronicled here, Cannon River freezes a lot of its grapes indoors, which ensures that it has ice wine for the Winter Carnival.
Cannon River's ice wine has been available at about 40 outlets, and many should still have it in stock. Be SURE to call ahead, though. Besides most retail outlets in Hastings, Red Wing, Owatonna. Lake City, Cottage Grove and Rochester, it has been well distributed in the metro area: Try Haskell's, Lowry Hill, Edina and Lakeville munis,1st Grand, South Lyndale and Big Top. Again, some of these stores might be sold out, so check with them first.
It's more than worth the effort.
The host state in general -- and a new kid on its block in particular -- came up big at Thursday's International Cold Climate Wine Competition. Four Daughters' 2011 La Crescent captured "best in show" among white wines in the fourth annual event at the University of Minnesota.
Four Daughters Vineyard and Winery, which opened just last year in Spring Valley, Minn., also won the Minnesota's Governor's Cup trophy for top wine from the state.
For the second straight year, Vermont winery Shelburne Vineyard's Marquette (in this case a 2010 Reserve) was named best red wine. The Midnight Voyage Dessert Red Wine from Danzinger Vineyards in Alma, Wis., was deemed best specialty/fortified wine.
The Marquette and La Crescent grapes (the latter is pictured below), developed by the University of Minnesota, showed especially well in the competition. Another Minnesota winery, Hinterland of Clara City, received one of just two "double golds" (panel judges unanimously designated it gold) for its Marquette Reserve. A Marquette from Indian Island in Janesville, Minn., and a La Crescent from Wild Mountain in Taylors Falls earned gold medals.
Cannon River Winery in Cannon Falls grabbed two gold medals, for its Sogn Blush and St. Pepin. Also garnering a gold was the Frontenac Gris from Whispering Oaks in Melrose, Minn.
This year's competition included more than 325 entries from commercial wineries in 12 northern states and Canada (only grapes that can withstand harsh winters are eligible). Twenty gold, 61 silver and 79 bronze medals were awarded; for the entire medal list, go here.
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