On Thursday night 03/13/08, international womens charity organization Spark and the Napa Valley Vintners lit up the Rotunda and accompanying floors of San Francisco City Hall and provided quite a night of charity, wine and beats. "Nightlife Napa Valley," hosted by the Napa Valley Vintners to benefit Spark was a huge and sold-out success. Spark was started in 2004 by Founder and Founding President, Maya Garcia. Along with fellow co-founders Nealan Afsari, Rohini Gupta, Karen Hennessey, Fiona Hsu, Mona Motwani and my long-time friend Kathleen Kelly, Garcia set out to start empowering and celebrating young women around the world who are trying to change their local communities for the better. Their work covers four areas of support: Community Building, Education, Advocacy and Grant-Making. In just a few short years, Spark has had a tremendous number of global successes, starting with providing desperately needed support to a burgeoning support group by and for Rwandan genocide widows, to most recently beginning grant support for the local OASIS for Girls that holistically supports young immigrant and low income girls with no-cost resources and programs that span the arts to job and leadership training in the SOMA district of San Francisco.
Natalie MacLean deserves all of the buzz that her first collection has garnered since its release in 2006. Red, White, and Drunk All Over: A Wine Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass (978-1582346489) is a phenomenal work of wine writing that manages to touch on all aspects of wine from producer to consumer, with a freshness and vivacity that more than lives up to its reputation. You might be familiar with Natalie MacLean through her highly rated and visited website, Nat Decants. You might have even read her article about Valentine's Day ideas here on WineLog.net. Ms. MacLean has built up a very strong following of wine enthusiasts in her native Canada, as well as around the rest of the world. Her writing has garnered her prestigious awards from numerous food and wine organizations including the James Beard Foundation, the Association of Food Journalists and the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. Her website has a tremendous food and wine pairing tool and her free newsletter is read by tens of thousands of readers every month.
Genentech has grown to be quite a large and influential company over it's 30+ years. One thing that has remained the same is a small group of employees and wine fanatics known as gOenophiles. Much like many things at my company, the penchant for adding a "g" to the beginning of any otherwise normal word is conserved with the naming of this loose-knit group of blind wine tasters. With many disparate backgrounds, temperates and interests gOenophiles do have two things in common, a love for wine and deep conviction in the power of tasting wines blindly. Tasting wines blindly has a tremendous affect on your palate. The best way to try and quickly build your palate and perhaps more importantly, a *confidence* in your own palate is to put together a blind wine tasting. Tasting wine's with little to no prior information forces you to really probe the colors, aromas and flavors that you encounter. Is the red wine in front of you bright ruby, a darker garnet or even showing some browner shades on the edges near the rim? Is there a lot of fruit in the nose or is it earthy or smelling like the rich dampness and organic mustiness of a forest floor? What kind of fruit is is, which is dominating the flavors in your mouth? Are they like red fruits such as cherry and raspberry or more darker fruit like blackberry? Or maybe that white wine has a whole lot of white fruit like peach, pear and nectarine?