If weather and the vagaries of agriculture weren't enough to worry about, some wineries also have to worry about bears in their vineyards. They can eat up to 100 pounds of grapes a day. This is just one of the things I learned while talking about California wine with Dina Mondavi, Co-Founder of Folio Fine Wine Partners, over a late lunch put together by Glodow Nead Communications.
So how DO you keep a hungry bear out of your Napa Valley vineyard? By playing a recording of cougars in the middle of a kill. Apparently the macabre screeching will even frighten an imposing bear. (Sidenote: Though the photo of this bear is from the East Coast, I thought it had a certain "I'm gonna eat 100lbs of grapes and there's nothing you can do about it" kind of look.)
Of course, in between our wildlife talk, we tasted some wines. I was most impressed with a trio of Napa Wines from Folio: the 2010 Emblem, the 2009 Emblem Oso Vineyard, and the 2009 M by Michael Mondavi. While they certainly had some plush and lush qualities that I'd expect from Napa Valley wines, they also had an elegance and approachability that tied them together as a family of wines. And though the price of the Oso and M put them in a separate class of high-end wines, for $35 the 2010 Emblem is a great introduction to to a splurge-worthy, distinctive Napa Valley Cabernet. Grab a bottle, a friend, a pizza, and you've got the makings of a great evening.
By the way, "oso" means "bear" in Spanish. Here's a shot of the lovely vineyard (bears not included), located 1,250 feet off the Napa Valley floor:
The 2009 M by Michael Mondavi also comes from a single vineyard, the Animo ("soul" in Italian), located at the top of Atlas Peak at an elevation of 1,400 feet. And, like the Oso vineyard, also very scenic:
Finally, before Dina departed, I asked her about any future potential for sparkling wine production, since Folio also produces a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. While Dina said there were no plans for such a venture in the future, she did reveal that she is a keen practitioner of sabering Champagne bottles. This is where you use a saber (or a butter knife or even an iPad) to, with one fell swoop, send the the cork and the very top of the bottle flying. It's not for the timid, but Dina did provide a couple tips. Likening it to a golf swing, she advised that you have to do it with grace and make sure you follow through. Not only necessary attributes for successful sabering, but also for making memorable Cabernet in Napa Valley.
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