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North to Alaska

Did someone say, “Go North to Alaska in June”? Oh, now I remember, it was my wife. Yes, we are headed to Alaska via Vancouver, BC at the end of this month. We will be taking a 14-day cruise from Vancouver, BC to Seward, AK and back with stops along the way of course. It’s going to be nice to be able to replace a couple of the hot weeks here in Texas with some cooler Alaskan weather.

Have I mentioned that cruise ships offer an excellent opportunity to explore new wines, as well as new places? Most of the cruise lines offer wine tastings onboard their ships. Although the bar staff on the ships are not as knowledgeable as I am (not their fault, I just have more experience), they still offer the experience of getting familiar with wines you may not have tried before. It is certainly a good place to start. Or, you could accompany me on one of my cruises and spend a week or more educating your palate. Oh, and did I mention you’re on a cruise ship? No worries about driving home.

I know what you’re thinking. They don’t grow grapes in Alaska. It's too cold there. Well, for the most part, you are right. You cannot grow grapes outside in Alaska as it is too cold there for grapes to ripen. However, Mike Mosesian at Bell's Nursery in Anchorage has been growing table grapes for decades in their greenhouses, along with tomatoes, other veggies, and flowers. Mike comes from a long line of grape growers and even has a graduate degree in viticultural from UC-Davis.

A couple of years ago he decided to replace some of the table grapes vines with some wine vines. And I am happy to report that they are doing splendid. He is now experimenting with turning those grapes into wine. Yea! Pretty soon we will have the first Alaskan wine made from wine grapes grown in Alaska.

There are other wines from Alaska, but they are made from grape concentrate (usually from California or Washington) or other fruit juices. Having tried my share, I can testify that they are not as good as the real thing. So, let's all wish Mike great success in his endeavor to produce a true Alaskan wine.

Did you know that means that all 50 states produce wine? I know, you don't usually associate a state like Kentucky with wine, right? When you mention Kentucky most people think of Bourbon. Well, did you know that according to the National Association of American Wineries statistics from 2014 that Kentucky ranked ahead of Texas in number of gallons produced? Or, when is last time you walked into your local wine retailer and found a bottle of Ohio or Vermont wine? Both of which by the way according to that same study ranked ahead of Texas in production.

Makes you want to go traveling just to sample some of their wines doesn't it? I suggest that if you do and you find some that you like bring it back with you or have it shipped home. Retailers here in Texas rarely stock wines from U.S. wineries outside of Texas and the West coast. And it's not because the other states produce bad wine, but has more to due with logistics and marketing. Of course, you can always do as I suggested in my Spring into April article and order some online and split the cost of the wine and shipping with a few friends.

This month’s recommendation is one you should be able to find at your local wine retailer. It is a very nice wine to pair with summer BBQs. It is St Francis Winery & Vineyards’ 2013 “Old Vines” Zinfandel, which won double gold at the California Zinfandel Championship and is rated 90 points by Robert Parker. While I haven’t found any of the 2013 at my Spec’s here in Round Rock, they do have some 2011 left, which is rated at 87 points and won gold at the San Francisco International Wine Competition, as well as gold at the San Diego International Wine Competition. I know, whoopee! Right?

You that know me, know that I am a firm believer that it is not about what other people think, as much as what you think. So, give some a try (it doesn’t matter which vintage, they’re all good) then click here to drop me a note and let me know what you think.

Until next time, Cheers!

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