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The soul of Indian Soil Carefully Crafted into our Boutique wines
As harvest ends, owl’s well at the Weka Ranch The 2013 Napa Valley harvest is coming to a spectacular close. It looks, from all accounts, to have been excellent in every important measure.

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ST. HELENA — Yao Family Wines, the Napa Valley winery founded by former NBA star Yao Ming, has announced the release of its inaugural vintage of Napa Crest 2010 Napa Valley Red Wine with a suggested retail price of $48.

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Sourced from premium vineyards throughout Napa Valley, Napa Crest is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and petit verdot.

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Curious about the early harvest, he went back through the Chateau’s 40 years of records, analyzed the start and the end dates and determined that 2013 had the fifth earliest start date and seventh earliest finish.

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According to the Napa Valley Vintners , a nonprofit trade association that promotes the Napa Valley appellation and represents nearly 500 Napa Valley wineries, winegrowers started picking grapes as early as Aug. 1. That’s because the weather this year brought a warm, dry spring and early bud break. The summer continued with more warm, even heat and only one real heat spike in late June and early July.

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It did rain — briefly — during the harvest in September, but the grapes that hadn’t already been harvested, mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, dried out quickly and the rain did not affect the quality.

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What would you do if someone offered to hold a tasting of all the best Cabernets in Napa according to you? You'd give them a list, and then do a little dance, and then you'd show up early with bells on.

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That's not entirely how it went down, but a few weeks ago I was indeed invited to help put on a tasting of many of Napa's top wines for a group of visiting writers, sommeliers, and wine buyers from all over the world.

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Organized by the Wine Institute, this tasting and the dinner that followed were the penultimate event in a five-day, no-holds-barred tour of California wine that these visitors were experiencing.

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The event brings together the best wines in the world and the vintners behind them.  They even actually pour the wines.  There are walk-around tastings, guided seminars and themed meals. The three-day event draws thousands of wine lovers from around the world, many of whom have been attending the event for a decade or more, says Tom Matthews, executive editor at Wine Spectator .

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But the craziest part of the New York Wine Experience is that it's all for charity. The vineyards actually donate the wine they bring and the ticket proceeds go the Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation, says Matthews.

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The Scholarship Foundation funds students who focus in the wine, food and hospitality industries.  To date, the Foundation has raised over $15 million from the proceeds of the Wine Experience.

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With Halloween just around the corner and cooler temperatures filling our days, here are a few more wines to warm you up this fall to celebrate the change in seasons.  A few selections were sent for editorial consideration.

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Marchesi Antinori, one of the most respected and loved wineries in Tuscany, I had a chance to try their 100% Sangiovese Badia A Passignano . The historic Badia (abbey) is known for their incredible Sangiovese vineyards, creating a wine filled with licorice, leather, caramel, sweet cinnamon spice, red cherry and raspberry, and balanced but bold tannin structure giving this wine the ability to age for many years. Pogo’s has the 2007 and 2008 vintages now, retailing for around $50 each.

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wine.com . Traveling over to France to one of my favorite regions, the Rhone Valley is known for their layered, refined wines made from Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and dozens more, with Châteauneuf du Pape boasting 13 different varieties allowed in each bottle.  If all Blanc, Gris and Noir variants (Grenache Blanc, Grenache Noir, etc.) are considered, there are actually 22 authorized.

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