Pinot Wine Bar in the Tower District has been closed for a while now and some of you have been wondering what’s up. The picture at right is the sign that’s posted in the window.
Well, here’s what I know. A while back Juan Leija bought the business from Daniel Renteria, the wine lover who founded it, as Daniel wanted to spend a little more time enjoying his retirement. Leija has said from the beginning that he planned to shut down for a few weeks, do some work inside and reopen under a new name and concept. That’s happening a little sooner than expected, sped along by the transfer of the liquor license.
“Pinot in and of itself as wine bar is no longer in existence,” Leija says.
Here’s an unusual place to host a wine tasting: The Meux Home Museum. The lawn of that gorgeous 1888 Victorian home downtown will be the site of Grocery Outlet’s first of many monthly wine tastings beginning Friday. The event, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., is a fundraiser for the museum and costs $10. No reservations or tickets needed, just make sure you bring your ID no matter how old you are because you won’t get in without it. Grocery Outlet is donating all the wine.
The event was inspired by Chris Caillier, the local owner/operator of the new Grocery Outlet across the intersection at Tulare and R streets. “I looked at that mansion and said, ‘We need to have a wine tasting there,’” he said. The store is partnering with the West Shaw Grocery Outlet for this event and all the area Grocery Outlet stores will be involved in future monthly wine tastings. They will eventually include food, live music and beer tasting.
It’s also a way for Grocery Outlet to bring some attention to its wine and beer department. Like many of its products, the stores gets overruns of wine when wineries have too much or change a label, for example. Caillier says the department is a good for way for wine drinkers who want to experiment but not spend a lot of money. Most bottles cost between $4.99 and $6.99 with the occasional $1.99 bottle.
Most of the beer for sale at Grocery Outlet isn’t overstock, but comes directly from the sellers. The stores sell some interesting craft beers, including Tioga-Sequioa beer and Firestone (and I hear Riley’s is often sold at local Grocery Outlets too).
Trader Joe’s is upping the price of its famous “Two-Buck Chuck.” After 11 years of selling the Charles Shaw shiraz or cabernet sauvignon for $1.99, the retailer has upped the price to $2.49 in California as of Jan. 16.
It needs a new nickname.
Some suggestions I’ve heard: Inflation Chuck and Upchuck (though I can’t be the only one who is grossed out by the thought of vomit anywhere near my wine).
Some suggestions from the Twitterverse:
SoapinTrucker: Last Straw Shaw, Save a buck Chuck, Lucky Chuck(y).
jboren4507: Cheap wine for $2.49.
HarmsWayChad: The wine formerly known as 2 buck chuck.
Here’s one of the great things about living in the Valley: During harvest season, you can help a winery pick wine grapes, and watch it crush them.
Sure, you can do this in other wine growing areas, but why drive so far? Here are a couple of local wineries that welcome volunteers — and feed you after the harvest.
Birdstone Winery, 7:30 a.m. through early afternoon, Sunday. Picking starts at 7:30 a.m. Lunch and wine are served at 11:30 a.m. Folks who want to watch winemaker Tony Kirk crush the grapes can stick around, says Birdstone co-owner Kim Kirk says. If you want to join them, call (559) 970-2060.
Cedar View Winery, 8 a.m. through early afternoon, Sept. 25. The event begins at 8 a.m. with grape picking and crushing. A barbecue lunch with wine follows. Feel free to bring a change of clothes, the owners say. After your time in the field, you may want to freshen up before lunch. To attend: Call (559) 787-9412.
[photo: Cedar View Winery's vineyards, 2004. Credit: Eric Paul Zamora, The Fresno Bee.]
Drink up, wine lovers. But take a designated driver with you to Cracked Pepper Bistro, which is celebrating its fourth anniversary by slashing 40% off wine bottles — for the entire month of June.
Chef/owner Vatche Moukhtarian says he bought a lot of wine and needs to share it quickly. “A lot of wineries are offering great deals just for people to try their wines,” he says. “We can pass these deals on to our customers.”
Up to 20 bottles will be on sale every day, Moukhtarian says. Some of his current favorites are Jack Creek Cellars 2008 Chardonnay ($54), Jack Creek Cellars 2007 York Mountain estate pinot noir ($68), and Ramos Torres 2007 Lucas Vineyard Zinfandel ($42). (These are original prices, without the discount.)
You can taste and buy Fresno State Winery’s 2008 Muscat Canelli, 2006 Zinfandel, 2008 Pinot Gris, 2006 and 2008 Sangiovese and 2008 Barbera. Eats are appetizers from Sam’s Italian Deli & Market, tastings of Fresno State’s olive oil, and servings of Fresno State’s ice cream.
The cost is $15, or $10 for Fresno State students, staff, faculty and alumni with Fresno State ID. Admission includes seven tasting tickets; more are available. For Fresno State Wine Club members, admission is $5, which includes a tour of the winery at 5 p.m. Everyone will be carded, so bring ID.
The event will take place here. Need more info? Go here.
Also, there is a tasting of Fresno State Winery’s 2009 Nouveau wines from 5:30 to 8 p.m. tonight. The tasting includes the wines, hors d’oeuvres and a cooking demonstration by Fredrick Clabaugh, executive chef of the Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite.
These Nouveau wines are created in the style of Beaujolais Nouveau, the extremely young French wines released every year on the third Thursday of November. Drink them soon, for these wines are closer to juice than the complex, layered flavors of older wines.
The tasting costs $15. (Fresno State students and alumni pay $10. Fresno State Wine Club members pay $5.) It will take place in Fresno State’s Enology Building, 2360 E. Barstow Ave. Guests must be at least 21 years old.
Parking permits are available at any parking dispenser on campus. Enter coupon code 16080002. For more information, call (559) 278-4867 or go here.