Recap: Wine Society #4 with Curt Schalchlin

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We were thrilled to have Curt Schalchlin at our wine society event this week. Curt is the winemaker for Sans Liege and Groundwork Wines. He has just begun his 17th harvest, but time flies when you are doing what you love. "I cannot believe that I have been doing this for 17 years!" he said. "It hardly feels like it has been 5!"

Curt's Sans Liege label features wines that age in the barrel for a minimum of 24 months. The name "Sans Liege" loosely translates to mean "without a leader/master." The inspiration for this name came when Curt took a trip to France and met a third generation winemaker. The winemaker expressed to Curt how envious he was of the fact that because Curt does not come from a lineage of winemakers, he is free to make wines however he wants to.

Curt really took this to heart, and has thought of many different innovative ways to harvest his wines. He has a very holistic approach to winemaking, and is not afraid of running into difficulty as he tries different approaches to making wines."With winemaking, every time you have a problem you learn how to make wine better. Then, you learn how to foresee these problems long before they happen." Curt uses his wisdom to help aspiring winemakers and works as a wine consultant when he is not creating wines for his own labels.

The Groundwork label was started in 2006 and is 100% varietal. The grapes age for less time than they do with the Sans Liege label, and Groundwork specifically chases rustic, bistro wines.

The philosophy behind Curt's winemaking is simple: "Stay out of the way." Curt keeps his wines natural in order to keep a sense of the place from which these grapes came and to honor all of the people there who produced them. For instance, Curt's Sans Liege 2016 The Offering is a GSM that was named "The Offering" because Curt views it as what he is giving back to the world after each harvest. "This is my mile marker, it is very soulful," explained Curt. "It is a way of paying homage to all of the places I have roamed around as it sort of brings them all together into one bottle."

Curt is so passinate about what he does, we could not count how many times he said the words "I love what I do." For Curt, wine is all about making connections with people. "These days, we do not talk to each other except when enjoying wine and food," explained Curt. "These bottles build community!"

Our fourth wine society was wonderful, and we hope that you will join us for the next one!

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Recap: Wine Society #3 with D'Alfonso Curran Wines

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We had so much fun at our third wine society event, where we learned all about D'Alfonso Curran Wines. We welcomed Kris Curran, who owns the winery with her husband, Bruce D'Alfonso. Kris started the evening by telling our guests that she welcomed any and all questions that they may have for her. They loved this, and kept asking her to tell us more and more about her craft. Not only is Kris incredbily knowledgeable about winemaking, but she also has a great sense of humor and kept us laughing all night.

Kris and Bruce are both double degreed scientists. What diffrenciates them from other winemakers is their ability to combine their science expertise with their passion for artisanship to craft their unique wines. They proudly produce four different labels- D'Alfonso-Curran, BADGE, Curran (Spanish varietals), and Di Bruno (Italian wines).

Kris and Bruce source 100% of their grapes from Santa Barbara County. They have very specific standards for the grapes that they use, all of which are based in science. For instance, they seek out grapes that have brown seeds, pulp that can slip from the seeds, and masticated skin. When crafting their wines, balance is key. They use their backgrounds in the sciences to ensure that the wines' PH levels, acidity, etc. are all in balance. All of their wines are put through a crossflow filter. This is done for many reasons, one of which being that it prevents bottle-to-bottle variation. Nearly all of the winery's white wines are fermented in stainless steel. This showcases the varietal characteristics of white wines without altering their natural qualities.

We tasted seven delicious wines: The D'Alfonso-Curran 2018 Gruner Veltliner, D'Alfonso-Curran 2017 Chardonnay, Curran 2018 Grenache Gris Rose, Curran 2017 Tempranillo, D'Alfonso-Curran 2016 Pinot Noir, D'Alfonso-Curran 2017 Pinot Noir, and DiBruno 2016 Sangioverse. The wines were phenomenal, with one guest commenting how in awe he was that the winery could charge such relatively low prices for such high quality wines. Kris responded by saying that she and Bruce simply did not get involved with winemaking for the money, but instead did so because it is what they love. "We are poor, humble people," she joked.

We had so much fun learning more about a local winery right here at The Cave. We love what we do because it enables us to interact with winemakers and learn all about their craft. Our wine society events allow us to share this opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge with our amazing customers and fellow wine enthusiasts!

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Recap: Wine Society #2 with Caroline Henry

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We had a wonderful time at our second wine society event with our special guest, wine and Champagne writer Caroline Henry. The Cave was Caroline's final stop on her tour of the United States. She is currently promoting her book Terrior Champagne and has travelled over 9,000 miles since she began her tour on July 9.

Caroline was born in Belgium, grew up in South Africa and got involved in the wine world in New Zealand, where she sold wine for 5 years. Caroline was fortunate enough to work for a very sustainable vineyard, and this bred her passion for the sustainable production of wines and, later, of terrior Champagne.

Caroline relocated to Champagne, France in 2011. She origionally intended to stay in the region for just 6 months, but she fell in love with the area and with terrior Champagne, specifically that which has been sustainably produced.

Caroline blew the crowd away with the amount of information that she knows about Champagne. She cited many facts not only about Champagne's production but also about its historical origins. For instance, Caroline explained that the reason that Champagne has historically been a luxury is because following the 16th century, France's kings were coronated in Reims, which is the unofficial capital of Champagne.

Caroline also explained to us that the region of Champagne actually has the smallest number of organic growers in all of France. Champagne had an implosion of herbacide use after World War II. This is because Champagne sales skyrocketed during this period, and herbacides were used as a means of keeping up with production demands. This is an issue that is near and dear to Caroline's heart as she advocates for all natural Champagne production. "Champagne speaks to so many people because it has had to change and innovate through time," explaied Henry. "This is why it is so essential that it be natural and without herbacides."

The guests loved the event. They learned all about Champagne and were able to ask Caroline questions between sips of Philipponnant and bites of appetizers from The Cave's kitchen. "Fries and champagne- my two favorite things!" exclaimed one guest. We loved having Caroline here and are looking forward to our next wine society!

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Recap: Wine Society #1 with Clos Des Amis

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We hosted our first wine society event last week with our featured winemaker Bruce Freeman. When introducing himself to our guests, Bruce described himself as being the “owner, winemaker, dishwasher…everything!” for Clos des Amis, a winery located right here in Ventura County. Bruce and his partner, Gretel, really are involved with every single aspect of their winery. They even design their own labels, which include Gretel’s illustrations of Ventura County’s unique flora and fauna. This dedication keeps the pair very busy. “Retirement? What’s that?” Bruce asked the crowd at one point. “I don’t know what a weekend is anymore either.”

Everybody in the room could practically feel Bruce’s passion for his craft radiating off of every word he spoke. Bruce “has wine in his veins,” and he attributes his love for viticulture to his familial background. His mother is French, and he fell in love with wine after traveling to France with his family as a child. In fact, the name “Clos des Amis” is French for “circle of friends.” This name pays homage to the winery’s roots. Bruce started making wines in his backyard over 25 years ago, with only his friends and family involved.

The guests were free to ask Bruce questions as they tasted his delicious wines. We learned that Bruce does not make standard wines that you could buy anywhere. His wines are different from anything that you can buy elsewhere because they represent the specific and diverse geology of Ventura County. His winery uses sustainable sources of water and energy, with solar power and water sourced directly from the Santa Clara River. He describes his process as non-interventionist, meaning that he does not add much of anything to his wines. “All you really need is grapes and yeast, that’s where it all starts.”

The guests loved tasting Bruce’s wine, with one exclaiming that she and her partner “keep saying that each one we taste is our favorite one!” Bruce offered an in-depth explanation of how every wine was created, allowing the guests to really get a feel for how unique his process is. For instance, when talking about his Chardonnay, Bruce explained that it is a white wine made like a red wine. The process allows for skin contact, with the grapes being picked on the younger side, causing their acidity to cut through a foreign mouth feel. The guests loved this wine and many echos of “excellent!” could be heard throughout the room.

The guests had a great time, Bruce kept everybody laughing in between pours of wine and in-depth explanations of his work. Bruce himself loves the concept of wine society, and noted that “it is important to talk to winemakers and do these kinds of things so that you know more about the wine that you are drinking.”

Our first wine society was an incredible chance for our community to come together and learn more about a local winery. We shared some laughs, pours, and conversation and had a great time! We hope that you will join us for our next wine society right here at The Cave!

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2018 Mother's Day Brunch Menu!

Call (805) 642-9449 to Reserve Today!

All items served with House Potatoes or Fruit

  • Cave Benedict- $15

Poached Egg, Spinach, Prosciutto Wrapped Tomato, Hollandaise, English Muffin

  • Bacon Caprese Benedict- $14

Poached Egg, Tomato Fondue, Mozzarella, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Basil, Balsamic Pearls

  • Spinach Mushroom Frittata- $12

Spinach, Mushroom, Egg, Garlic Leek Ricotta

  • Ham, Cheese & Egg Sandwich- $13

Grilled Honey Ham, Cheddar Cheese, Fried Egg, Spinach, Sour Dough

  • Chorizo Chilaquiles- $14

Egg, Texas Style Chorizo, House Red Salsa, Tortilla Chips, Cilantro

  • Blueberry French Toast- $11

Deep Fried Vanilla Corn Flake Crusted French Toast, House Blueberry Jam, Powdered Sugar

  • Fried Chicken & Sweet Cakes- $13

Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Sweet Potato Pancakes, Rosemary Maple Butter Syrup

  • Strawberry Banana Nutella Crepes- $11

Strawberry Crepe, Banana, Nutella, Fresh Mint, Powdered Sugar,

  • Breakfast Pizza- $14

Garlic Cream, Spinach, Breakfast Sausage, Quail Eggs, Cherry Tomato, Parmesan

  • Cave Burger $14
  • Veggie Burger $13
  • Chicken Caesar Salad $12
  • Grilled Salmon Salad $12

Build-Your-Own Mimosa $6 each, or Bottomless Mimosa Bar $15 per person

Micheal sounds off about Test Tube Winemaking

First Off Let Me Be Clear; If It Doesn't Start With Grapes Grown In The Vineyard And Then Produced From A Crush & Fermentation At A Winery, Then IT IS NOT (No Matter How Good IT is) WINE! JMHFO! smile emoticon:)

FTR - I say this with my deepest apologies to all the Star-Trek and Galaxy Quest Fans (Of which I consider myself a fan but not a "Fan-boy!"

That said, this does touch upon a hot-topic in wine... The subject of "natural wine" has been a hot-button topic, and certainly should be seen as an extreme response on how best to make wine; BUT, I think it is important in one area... It does touch upon the very murky & dark secrets surrounding the manipulation of wine during the winemaking process....

Its not a far stretch from noting the wine makers over manipulation of winemaking to progressing to the production of symthetically made "fermented wine-like beverages!"

Matt Kramer (Wine Spectator) and others have for years repeatedly wrote aobut the topic of a need for more honestly disclosing winemaking manipulation. He (Kramer) has noted that Wine labels currently can and do tell us several good things about a wine, but they NEVER tell us about the types of, or extent of, manipulation done so as to overcome the year to year challanges faced from vineyard growing season variations...

As consumers we need and should demand to know - What is happending in the winemaking process that gets a winery to repeatedly showcase their wines signature looks and tastes, and do so virtually the same each and every year. click below to read the article by The Mercury News.