Our special guest speaker at Bubbles, Brix and Buzz II will be Gloria Ferrer’s Vice President of Marketing (and fellow woman in wine), Eva Bertran. Having left her native Spain in 1986 — where her own family was in the wine business — she is a member of the original team that launched Gloria Ferrer, and continues to oversee the winery as devotedly as if it were her own family business.

Eva Bertran, Vice President of Marketing, Gloria FerrerEva Bertran brings a captivating blend of Spanish style and California charisma to Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards. Complemented by her impressive wine expertise and deep understanding of the Sonoma Carneros region, Bertran is an ideal leader at Gloria Ferrer. Having left her native Spain in 1986 — where her own family was in the wine business — she is a member of the original team that launched Gloria Ferrer, and continues to oversee the winery as devotedly as if it were her own family business.

Bertran holds a master’s degree in international management from Spain’s top business school, Escuela Superior de Administración y Dirección de Empresas University (ESADE). Armed with this education, she has lent her astute intelligence and dynamic energy to every job she undertakes. She is instrumental in fostering the Catalonian traditions through every facet of Gloria Ferrer, infusing the company culture with her own casual elegance, quick wit, and enthusiasm.

A passionate wine educator, Bertran embraces her role as international ambassador for Gloria Ferrer, leading sparkling wine and food pairings for consumers, trade, and media. She is relentless in her understanding of sparkling wine as much more than a celebratory beverage. The cooking skills that Bertran has cultivated throughout a lifetime have led to a dynamic understanding of sparkling wine and its versatility with food. Her presentations at the winery and throughout the world are insightful and profoundly persuasive.

Bertran is equally involved in her local wine community. A past-president of the Sonoma County Vintners, she remains an active member in the association, while also serving as president of the Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Board of Directors. She also served for many years on the Board of Carneros Wine Alliance.

Away from work, Bertran complements her love of food and wine with her zeal for skiing, biking, yoga, and swimming. Having studied with the famous Catalan Chef Montserrat Segui, she enjoys preparing traditional Catalan dishes inspired by her grandmother, Teresa, for her husband, David, and their sons, Paul and Jack.

We hope you can join us to hear Eva speak at Bubbles, Brix and Buzz II, on February 20th. Our event begins at 5:30 at Gloria Ferrer. Click on the link for ticket information. Cheers!

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Last Thursday members and guests of Women for WineSense gathered for a relaxing evening of bubbly from Franciacorta.

Who? Where? What?

Franciacorta is not only a wine-growing region in Italy (in Lombardy, specifically), but “Franciacorta” also defines the production method as well as the wine. Saluté!

It’s near the Alps, east of Milan.

Enjoying a lovely glass of Ca del Vent Saten, attendees watched Paul Wagner’s presentation on this little known (in America) wine region. Paul, founder and CEO of Balzac Communications, explained that Franciacorta is a region of many “firsts” in Italy’s wine business.

It is the first wine produced in traditional method to obtain Italy’s highest appellation award of DOCG.

He also explained their strict standards for style of non-vintage, vintage and riserva wines. For example, the first wine we sampled was produced in the Saten style (which can be vintage or non-vintage). Other requirements for this style in Franciacorta include use of 100% Chardonnay with a minimum of 24 months on the lees. It can be produced in the Brut flavor profile only with bottle pressure less than 5 atm.

Throughout Paul’s presentation the group nibbled on spectacular charcuterie and cheese platters paired to perfection by Valley Wine Shack proprietor, Windee Smith.

Other Franciacorta bubbly we enjoyed sampling included Contadi Castaldi Rose, 2011 Il Mosnel, Ricci Cubastro Brut and the fabulous Bellavista Cuvee Brut. Each was unique, representing different flavor profiles and production styles.

For comparison, Paul showed us a chart depicting the various yields per hectare, irrigation and maturity period permitted across much of Europe from Cava to Champagne. This was followed by food pairing suggestions for Franciacorta’s bubbly flavor profiles, from the Undose to Demi Sec styles.

Ironically, although Franciacorta has been producing still wines since the 16th century, it has only been in the last fifty years producers have organized to create fabulous sparkling wines as well as establish strict high standards for the region’s products.

To learn more, visit their Franciacorta tourist site or download Balzac Communications’ slide presentation (now in PDF) shown last week.

By Liz Thach, M.W.

I have a small hobby vineyard in Sonoma County with 90 pinot noir vines and 30 sauvignon blanc.  The vineyard is located in the Petaluma Gap region of the Sonoma Coast AVA which is a cooler climate ideal for pinot noir.  Every year it produces a nice crop with the pinot always ripening before the sauvignon blanc.  This autumn, however, when I walked down to check on the sugar level of the grapes, I was astounded to see that something had eaten 90% of the pinot noir crop.  The sauvignon blanc, which was still rather tart tasting, was untouched.

I called my neighbors with hobby vineyards to help me solve the problem.  “But you put up bird netting on the vines,” said Leslie, “so it can’t be birds.”  “You’ve placed yellow jacket traps all around the vineyards, so it can’t be yellow jackets,” mused Peter.  The whole vineyard is surrounded by deer fencing, so it couldn’t have been deer.  So what ate my pinot noir?

After a couple of weeks of looking for clues, I finally gave up and contacted the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission and requested their help in finding a viticulture consultant.  They suggested Laura who arrived a couple days later.  “Why didn’t you call me sooner?” she asked.  “Then we might have been able to see some fresh tracks.”  Then she ticked off possible suspects on her fingers:  birds, yellow jackets, deer, wild turkeys, raccoons, possum, skunks, or some type of insect.

I followed Laura around the vineyard while she searched for clues.  When the crime had occurred two weeks ago the weather had been hot and the vineyard soil was dry and dusty.  However, two days ago it rained quite hard in Sonoma County – right in the middle of harvest — so the soil was wet.

“So whatever it was didn’t eat your sauvignon blanc because it wasn’t ripe enough,” said Laura.  “Do you have any other grape varietals?”

Suddenly I remembered the two cordons of cabernet franc that didn’t successfully graft over when I had t-budded part of the vineyard last year.  For several years, I tried to grow cabernet franc but I could never get it ripe enough in the cooler Sonoma Coast climate.  So I grafted those vines to pinot noir, but a couple of them didn’t take.  Therefore, mixed in the pinot were still two cordons with long purple clusters – definitely different from the small tight pinot bunches of 777 clone.

Laura and I walked over to where the cabernet franc bunches had hung and I was astounded to see that something had eaten them in the past two days.  Laura bent down close to the vines and said “ah ha!”  She pointed at the black drip irrigation hose below the vines and there were tiny muddy footprints all along the hose where the culprits had placed their paws while eating my grapes.  Mystery solved – a very hungry family of raccoons had feasted on my vineyard.

Laura investigated the deer fencing and found two possible openings where the raccoons could have entered.  “They also could have just climbed over the fence,” said Laura, making me feel very helpless.  So the good news is the mystery of the missing pinot noir grapes has been solved, but the issue of how to protect my crop next year from raccoons is still a looming problem.  Any suggestions would be most welcome!