California vineyard "big man" Andy Beckstoffer may be pleased when To Kalon, Dr. Crane and Georges III notch high-scoring performances, but this week, he's rooting hardest for 100 points from Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson. On Friday, the NBA All-Star shooter pledged to donate $1,000 for every point he scored in the next three home games to the Redwood Credit Union North Bay Fire Relief Fund—and for those keeping score at home, he averaged 22.3 points per game last season.
Beckstoffer is a Warriors superfan and season ticketholder whose Beckstoffer Vineyards owns some 3,600 acres under vine in Napa, Mendocino and Lake Counties, including some of the most coveted Cabernet parcels in the world. So he counts himself lucky that his holdings were unscathed by the fires that tore through the North Bay starting Oct. 8. "We didn't get hurt, so I just felt like we should share with those who did," Beckstoffer told Unfiltered. He was preparing a $50,000 check to his charity of choice, the Napa Valley Community Foundation, when he read about Thompson's initiative. "So I said, 'Hell, why don't I just match what Klay does and hope he makes 100 points?' I wanted not only to give some money, but hopefully do it in a way that would encourage other guys like me, growers and vintners who really weren't hurt, to share."
Beckstoffer joins wine companies Gallo, Treasury, Trinchero, Hall, Boisset and many others kicking in funds to help the community rebuild. And while Thompson is not a known celebrity vintner (that's more the thing of Warriors rivals Cleveland Cavaliers), winemaker/A-listers like Drew Bledsoe, Eric Wareheim and Dave Matthews are all also donating their dollars and efforts to aid fire victims, with the latter playing a giant benefit concert Nov. 9 with Metallica and rapper G-Eazy.
To kick off his and Beckstoffer's drives, Thompson put 22 points on the board in a close win over the Toronto Raptors last night.
It's not just champion Warriors and grapegrowers serving up California disaster relief: A dream team of chefs around the country is assembling to fund fire relief as well, promising special menus, dishes, pop-ups and events around the Bay Area throughout the week of Nov. 13 to 19, and giving food and wine lovers who want to support the North Coast even more incentive to visit. "From mom-and-pop shops to Michelin-starred restaurants, ChefsGiving is being embraced by all," founder and executive producer of the event Liam Mayclem told Unfiltered via email. "Joyfully, every single thing from food to wine, the event space to staff, is being donated. One hundred percent of all money raised will go directly to relief efforts."
Dominique Crenn and Hubert Keller are also among the organizers of ChefsGiving, and Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners Manresa, Mourad and Foreign Cinema are among the 80-plus eateries participating to support the Tipping Point Emergency Relief Fund and Restaurants Care, which benefit affected low-income North Bay–area neighborhoods and restaurant workers, respectively.
The culmination of the week is the ChefsGiving Gala Nov. 19 at San Francisco's famed Ferry Building, featuring pours from more than 50 wineries, including Pride Mountain, Boisset Collection and Silver Oak. ChefsGiving hopes to raise more than $1 million. For more information and tickets, visit chefsgiving.org.
On Tuesday night, Krug Champagne helped raise $75,000 at a fête to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Puerto Rico in its ongoing Hurricane Maria relief efforts. The evening's success hinged on a swell of wide-ranging musical numbers performed by top artists in New York; bites from breakout Puerto Rican chef Jose Enrique; and the wallet-opening frisson of Champagne poured from really big bottles: Krug’s Brut Champagne Grande Cuvée in jeroboam, and Brut Rosé from magnum.
Grammy Award–winning violinist Joshua Bell opened up his Manhattan home and played host to the occasion. “The subject is very close to my heart, because my partner, Larisa Martinez, is Puerto Rican, with a family in Puerto Rico,” Bell told Unfiltered.
Martinez, a soprano opera singer who will tour with tenor(/vintner) Andrea Bocelli later this year, and Bell both performed at the event, along with pianists Philip Fisher and David Lai, singers Ryan Silverman and Santiago Aponte, and a gaggle of virtuosos on string instruments of various sizes and shapes. The program began with a piano polonaise by Frédéric Chopin, performed by Fisher, and finished with a moving rendition of Puerto Rico's anthem, “La Borinqueña,” performed as a duet by Bell and Martinez, with a string accompaniment.
Wine has always had a place on stage, from Falstaff and his Sherry to the Tony-winning "Hamilton bottles" scene in Hamilton (Unfiltered has not seen Hamilton.) In yet more operatic wine news, the American Lyric Theater in New York is celebrating the company's Composer Librettist Development Program’s (CLDP) 10th anniversary with "A Toast to Ten Years," a “wine tasting recital” on Nov. 17.
Seven wines will be paired with excerpts from seven different operas developed by alums of the CLDP, which provides mentorships to emerging opera writers and singers, with highlights including Invisible Cities (nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Music after it premiered in 2013). Executive director David Rubeo explained the concept to Unfiltered: “The idea is that the way one speaks about a singing voice—it’s dark and smoky, it’s light and bubbly—is similar to the way people speak about wine.”
Sommelier (and opera singer) Heather Meyer is working with wine consultant (and also opera singer) Matt Berns on the pairings. “I’ve thought about doing a nice dry Riesling sekt in the beginning,” Meyer said. “Probably a Grüner in there, with nice acidity and tartness and a bright, scintillating palate that goes with some of the lighter voices. They’re not definite yet.” Tenors and baritones may include Zwiegelt and Brunello, she added. There will also be a live auction or raffle, with proceeds benefiting the theater. Tickets can be had at altnyc.org/a-toast-to-ten-years.
Jacob's Creek launched a new ad campaign to promote the Australian winery's Double Barrel line of whisky-barrel finished Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. But what you might not catch upon first watch is that the one-minute video journey is narrated by none other than Aussie actor and Norse god/Avengers hero Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth.
The spot, titled "Two Barrels, One Soul," illustrates the origin story of the Double Barrel wines, which follows the journey of a man from a rustic distillery in Scotland to the wilds of the Barossa Valley as he brings a single Scotch whisky barrel home, throughout which Hemsworth broodingly recites what may or may not be authentic Down Under proverbs: "Getting home takes many hands, and just as much hope," "Two barrels began this journey, one soul returned,” etc.
"Double Barrel is a true example of Australia's ingenuity, to create a unique wine," Hemsworth said in a press release. "I look forward to tasting the next vintage in the Barossa in 2018." Hemsworth isn't the first big name to back Jacob's Creek. Last year, fellow hammer-wielding superhuman Novak Djokovic teamed up with the winery for an autobiographical documentary series.
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