• When harvest finishes and the grapes are safely fermenting, Unfiltered's mind turns to one thing—Alpine skiing season! The racing kicked off in Austria last week, and Unfiltered wishes all the competitors good luck and reminds them to be careful when popping victory Champagne (we're looking at you, Lindsey Vonn). One piece of news out of Austria was American skier Bode Miller telling reporters he's thinking about becoming a winemaker after he retires from the slopes. With five Olympic medals and 32 World Cup race wins, Miller is the most successful skier in U.S. history. But he'll always be remembered for his party-boy reputation. Still, maybe a life of tending vines is a sign of an older, mellower Bode. He apparently brought some Italian winemakers from Trentino to his farm last year to give him advice on planting vines. "It will take many years for the vines to grow. It's a matter of patience," he told reporters. "Wine is for me the only alcohol that makes sense." One problem—his farm is in his hometown of Franconia, N.H., in the White Mountains. Uh… ice wine anyone?
George the elephant gets into the harvest spirit. We presume he and his partner Alice will have no problem remembering what to do next year.
• Elephants, it is well known, spend their days stomping on things and remembering past times they’ve stomped on things, so we would guess that elephants George and Alice won't need a refresher course for next year's crush at Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards in Oregon’s Umpqua Valley AVA. The nearby Wildlife Safari conservation center, home to the two pachyderms, approached winery owner Stephen Reustle with the idea for the Elephant Grape Stomp, having served Reustle’s wines at other events. Ticket, raffle and wine sales would benefit the center, but Reustle was initially unsure—would an elephant press actually work, or would the animals pound his Riesling too hard? “We had to make sure that the elephants could press the grapes without breaking open the seeds and releasing harsh tannins,” said Reustle, but it turns out the elephant’s leathery padded feet make the mammal practically a walking wine press. Still, it took two months of training for George and Alice to be ready for their half-hour jig (“You can’t just put the grapes in front of them and expect them to know what to do.”). After a round of elephants, the winery finished with a Human Grape Stomp, despite the cold. “Miss Douglas County and Miss Teen Douglas County started and everyone else just went in after them,” trumpeted Reustle.
• More and more square miles of the Gulf of Mexico are being reopened for fishing now that the BP oil spill is under control, but that doesn’t mean it’s all back to normal. The continued efforts of the Save Our Gulf campaign have aided disaster relief and scientific studies on the spill. Just as Russian River Valley-based Iron Horse winery is collaborating with National Geographic for their Ocean Reserve cuvée, Sonoma winery St. Francis is partnering with Waterkeeper’s Alliance, a clean-water advocacy organization, to raise funds for Save Our Gulf. In November, St. Francis will begin selling Whale of a Chardonnay for $45, of which $15 will go directly to Waterkeeper’s Alliance. The wine, made from Sonoma County fruit, comes with a limited-edition tote designed by Vineyard Vines, a Martha’s Vineyard-based company famous for their signature pink whale on their polo shirts. Unfiltered expects a Discovery Channel Shark Week collaboration between Paul & Shark and Greg Norman Estates any day now.
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