Just the Bottle

One woman's adventure in beer, food, wine and spirits

Filtering by Tag: Wine

Freedom to Express Great Wine at Big Cork Vineyards

There's something special about Big Cork Vineyards and it's evident when you enter. From the whimsical decor with big and small corks dotted around the room to the attentive and knowledgeable staff greeting you and finally to the breath taking views. Dave Collins serves as BIG winemaker (master winemaker and head of operations). His passion and dedication is evident in the wine and felt in the vibe of the place.

"We grow whatever we want." Dave explained as we began a wine journey through his storied career and what he's done at Big Cork. It's true. This man is the epitome of "I do what I want" shunning others' ideas to what should or could be done. He's one of the first to grow Nebbiolo when he was at Breaux Vineyards. That time allowed him to gain confidence and win many  awards. Dave doesn't do this by having an interventionist style, but by taking chances and risks that have taken others years to be willing to try.

I don't think Dave always wants to be known for his Nebbiolo (even though it is a rock star), but did have an almost holy experience visiting Piedmont. This brought I believe a newfound love into something he had already been executing beautifully. 

Dave seems most excited about "Russian Kiss." Russian Kiss is made up of three proprietary Russian varietals. These varietals are simply numbered with no names. They were brought into the United States in the 1970s by Purdue University as research varietals. These varietals have no American linage and are very Germanic in style. This was wine that I think will only grow with popularity and time as Dave continues to play with the varietals. 

There is something intriguing or enjoyable in every wine produced at Big Cork under Dave's guidance. We enjoyed another Italian varietal that is sometimes a forgotten gem - Barbera. Big Cork makes it a flag ship and there's a reason why. It shines here with great tannins and acidity. 

"That's kind of fun," Dave shares as he lights up talking about all that he's working on and what we can expect in the future. I expect more fun concerts, great wine, and laughter with friends with wine in a beautiful space.

Live a little more!

During the Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Rosa last year, there were two post conference excursions to choose from - Napa and Livermore. Both seemed like great options, but Livermore intrigued me. I didn't know much about the area, the wine, or the history. I went with Livermore and returned to DC with love for a new part of California.

As we departed Santa Rosa on a gloomy day after our conference concluded, we were greeted by an amazing team from Livermore Valley who along with serving us sparkling wine promised us sunshine, wine and a non pretentious, but informative wine trip. As we drove past Oakland and San Francisco, the clouds gradually melted away.

We entered a world that is growing in reputation as a place to visit for so many things like wine, food and even ice cream.  Every winery we visited had great value wines along with a unique story or passion that drove the owners or winemakers. One winemaker I met, shared how he was previously in construction and kept getting laid off from jobs or the pay would be sporadic. This spurred him to pursue a degree in oenology, and follow his dream. Another winery owner shared how she had been a pilot with an airline that went under. She decided she would rather be closer to her family and be in control of her own destiny.

These stories of work and determination led to a very genuine and thoughtful experience. Even though this was my first trip to California, I felt as if I were visiting home. Every person greeted me or treated me as more of a family guest as opposed to a tourist. 

If you are planning a California adventure especially one with wine, I would strongly urge you to visit Livermore Valley area. The wines and people have a story to share and it's one worth getting to know.