Jun 24, 2017

What is SIP Certified?

As we travel around and visit wineries we have often seen SIP certified signs. We also see organic and Bio-dynamic tossed around as well. So you have any number of certifications to show you care. Here is a partial list;

Image result for sip certified wineries in california
USDA Organic. ...
“Made with Organic Grapes” ...
EU Organic. ...
SIP Certified (Sustainability in Practice) ...
Certified Green (The Lodi Rules) ...
Salmon Safe.
Certified California Sustainable Vineyard and Winery (CCSW)

The U.S. government regulates use of the term “organic,” but “sustainable” and “biodynamic” have no legal definitions. So there are two types of organic listings on wine bottles. Wines can be made from certified organically grown grapes, avoiding any synthetic pesticides or additives, or, to take it a step further, “organic” wines are made from organically grown grapes, and are also made without any added sulfites (although naturally occurring sulfites will always be present).

Image result for sip certifiedBiodynamic is somewhat similar to organic farming as both take place without synthetic chemicals but biodynamic farming deviates from organic is it incorporates ideas about the vineyard as an entire ecosystem. Where it gets weird and such is where it also incorporates things such as astrological influences and lunar cycles. A biodynamic wine means that the grapes are farmed biodynamically, and that the winemaker made the wine without doing things like adding things like yeast or making acidity adjustments. Sometimes you may see a wine that says “made from biodynamic grapes”. Basically this means that a vintner used biodynamically grown grapes, but may have followed a less strict list of rules in winemaking (used sulfur to preserve their wine).

Sustainability refers to a range of practices that are not only ecologically sound, but are also economically viable and socially responsible. Sustainable farmers may farm largely organically or biodynamically but have flexibility to choose what works best for their individual property and they also focus on energy and water conservation, the use of renewable resources and other issues.
Some third-party agencies offer sustainability certifications, and many regional industry associations are working on developing clearer standards.
Sustainability in Practice (SIP) Certified is a certification agency that helps farmers and winemakers demonstrate their dedication to preserving and protecting natural as well as human resources. SIP Certified is a rigorous sustainable vineyard and winery certification that has strict, non-negotiable requirements and standards that are based on science and expert input with independent verification, transparency, and absence of conflict of interest.

Both Sustainability in Practice (SIP) Certified and the Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing (CCSW) programs are important supporters of the sustainability movement and encourage responsible vineyards and winemaking, but there are a couple distinct differences. As an example with SIP You must have a winter cover crop, whereas with a CCSW program you have a plan to prevent erosion during winter?

SIP Certified is all about the 3 P’s of Sustainability – People, Planet and Prosperity. So we will be taking a look at each of these 3 P's individually and talk with wineries and vineyards that follow these practices to get two cents worth as well in some upcoming articles. We might even have a taste or two if all goes well.

In the mean time look around as you drive through the vineyards and see if you can spot these SIP certified signs.

Happy Tasting Adventures,


Jun 18, 2017

Affordable world class wine vacation in Paso Robles

Sophisticated travelers (like us) longing to experience a luxurious wine country vacation in a stunning, unspoiled slice of California will find Paso Robles to be a great getaway. The area offers all of the amenities of other well-known California wine regions, yet with approachable small town feel with a northern California sophistication. Located in the Santa Lucia Mountains of Central California midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Paso Robles is California’s fastest growing wine region with 200+ vintners boasting many select renowned boutique winemakers producing highly coveted wines such as Tablas Creek, Denner Vineyards, Daou, Justin, Vina Robles, L’Aventure and Saxum. Epicureans will find that the cuisine rivals that of large cosmopolitan cities yet with a relaxed, local style.

Not-to-be-missed restaurants such as Enoteca, Villa Creek, Bistro Laurent, Artisan, Buona Tavola, Thomas Hill Organics and il cortile are creating innovative farm-fresh cuisine that pairs wonderfully with the robust local wines. Hotel Cheval, Allegretto Resort, Paso Robles Inn and La Bellasera provide ideal retreats with refined amenities such as fireplaces, sumptuous beds and soaking tubs. Wallet-Friendly Paso Robles is the ideal affordable California wine country region and boasts a wide selection of hotels with reasonably priced, comfortable accommodations such as Adelaide Inn, Black Oak Motor Lodge, La Quinta Inn & Suites and Courtyard by Marriott. River Oak Hot springs offers a variety of spa treatments incorporating the on-site mineral spring waters. Champion golf courses, upscale boutique shopping, artisan food stores such as We Olive, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and Vivant Fine Cheese and one-of-a-kind cultural attractions such as Hearst Castle State Park and historic Mission San Miguel de Arcangel provide the ultimate, well-rounded, upscale yet relaxed escape.
Delicious meals can be enjoyed for a fraction of the cost at spots such as Basil Thai, Odyssey World Cafe and El Vino Mexican Restaurant. There are many free and low cost activities to be enjoyed including hiking and biking on pristine trails and picnicking on the charming downtown square. Don't miss the concerts in the beautiful park. Most of the wineries charge low tasting fees (around $10) and will credit towards a bottle purchase. Affordable yet fantastic wine can be found for under $35 per bottle. Parking is easy and free throughout the area. Plan your trip now through Travel Paso and be prepared to fall in love.

Happy Tasting Adventures,


Jun 4, 2017


Gregg waited in the dark on a cold foggy New York morning on the corner of 13th and Third. His heart started to race with anticipation of Julie's arrival. He was supposed to be helping her train, but something deep inside him knew it was becoming more than that. As cupid would have it, it was to be the beginning of a journey that would take him around the globe and in directions he never dreamed of...

Recently we were contacted by Gregg Rothberg of 13th & Third wines asking if we would be interested in a sample of his wine for reviewing. Well, we are always up for wine and giving our opinion, but after reading a bit about his story we decided the appropriate thing to do was step it up, show a little restraint and instead of just taking and reviewing his wine, try to schedule a meeting and tasting when he was in Paso Robles for bottling. This however proved to be impossible.

The story stayed on our minds and having Gregg just send us a sample just seemed, well, not the best way to do the wine or the story justice. One of the things besides the wine that we love about the wine industry, are all the wonderful people and the amazing stories that go along with them. We have learned of many beautiful stories over the years and this one is one of the top few. That being said, we just had to approach this story of 13th & Third a little different than a regular wine review. Read on and find out why we believe that this one could easily be a movie of the week.

Gregg, his wife Julie are foodies and winos. Food is their passion, but wine is their obsession, and a little more than two years ago Gregg left his marketing agency life behind to seek adventures in the world of wine - a passion of his for many years. That adventure turned into the launch of their own label - 13th & Third. The name comes from the cross-street in Manhattan where Gregg and his wife Julie first met (2010), and discovered they both had an insatiable appetite for food and wine. Their story really should be a movie. Here is the short version of how it began with an excerpt from their website -" The corner of 13th Street & Third Avenue in New York City is where Julie and I first met. Twice a week we’d meet there on our bikes before sunrise. She was training for her first century ride, a 100-mile lap around Lake Tahoe, in honor of her father who had recently passed away; I was one of the coaches. We would ride through the darkened streets of New York City on our way to Central Park. With plenty of time to chitchat during these cold pre-dawn hours, it wasn’t long before we discovered our mutual passion for wine and wine country.

We also both love visiting and exploring new wineries. So Julie and I tacked on a few extra days in Napa and Sonoma, on our way to Lake Tahoe, to visit a handful of vineyards. While on our little excursion we were consumed by amazing wines…and each other. Just 10 months later, we got engaged surrounded by the incredible aromas of wine aging in barrels, as I proposed in the caves of one of Napa’s most prestigious wineries."
Julie works for a large wine importer distributor and exposed Gregg to a much bigger world of wines and what was a love became a passion.

In the beginning, after traveling from Washington to southern California looking for the right region and wine maker, Gregg reached out to ten Central Coast winemakers, most of whom were from the Paso Robles area, that he thought would be right for their vision. In typical Central Coast hospitality, nine of them contacted him, and after interviewing all nine of them one was selected to be a part of 13th & Third.

Gregg also did an internship with Adelaida Cellars and experienced wine from the vineyard to the bottle and all the exciting and not so exciting aspects of the process. It was during this time he became friends with another New Yorker, winemaker Jeremy Weintraub.

Gregg and Julie love Rhône varietals and wanted to bring more of these lesser known varietals from California to the east coast and the city they call home. Thus the tag line of their brand - New York Roots. California Vines.

As native New Yorkers, they grew up surrounded by Graffiti, now more widely known and accepted as "street art." Because it was such a big part of their environment, and a passion as a young artist for Gregg, they wanted to find a way to integrate that into their brand to better represent who they are, and show where they came from. All of the labels are designed by acclaimed local street artists from the New York area, and feature family members who are no longer with them, that they want to honor.

The first label featured Julie's Grandfather. The original photograph was taken on the eave of prohibition. That photo was then photographed on the corner of 13th & Third. Kinda gives one goosebumps just thinking about it. What a wonderful way to kick off this journey into wine by honoring the past and having hope for the future. The wine was their 2015 Rosé of Grenache (out of Paso Robles' Willow Creek District) and was 13th & Third's inaugural wine. This year they are releasing a 2016 Rosé of Grenache, 2016 White Blend (Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Viognier and Picpoul) and a 2015 GSM. The 2015 GSM is extra special. The wine is in memory and honor of Gregg's father Norman Martin Rothberg, and appropriately named NMR. Gregg's dad is also shining brightly as he's featured on the label. Although Norman passed away when Gregg was just a teenager, his father had a profound influence on who he is today. We are really looking forward to sitting down with Gregg down the road, breaking bread, learning more of his story and tasting the lineup.

They would love the opportunity to share their wines and more of their story with you (there is a lot more story to tell). So check out their website and order some wine.

Although we have not tasted any yet, with the infectious passion and great sources for grapes, we can hardly wait. To add to the potential for exceptional wine is their winemaker, Don Burns who has his own label Turtle Rock and is also assistant winemaker under Justin Smith at Saxum.

This year they produced 400 cases and the vision for the future is to grow to 1800 - 2000 cases. Big enough to be sustainable and small enough to have a hand on everything. While currently Paso based they plan on finding the best sources from other areas in California as well to be true to their tag line 'NEW YORK ROOTS. CALIFORNIA VINES'. Stay tuned for part two of story on 13th & Third.

Happy Wine Adventures,