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Unfiltered: California Winemakers Disrobe for Charity

Plus, a winery hits NASCAR's Sonoma race, two Chicago ballplayers sign on for charity wine labels and an important warning to wine lovers with a cold

Posted: June 25, 2009

• If you've ever fantasized about seeing a vintner or vineyard manager in the nude, apparently you're not alone. The trend began with a group of French vignerons releasing a nude calendar to help promote the wines of the Côtes de Bourg appellation and shake up the staid image of Bordeaux. Next the Napa County Farm Bureau (NCFB), a nonprofit organization that helps preserve Napa Valley's agricultural land, released their version. The 2008 NCFB's "Napa Uncovered" sold out all 2,000 copies in two months, so why not release a 2010 version? This time around, 14 members of the NCFB—grapegrowers, ranchers and winery owners—find themselves in awkward poses in the buff showing off farmers' tans and grinning like mad. The 2010 calendar features representatives from wineries such as Schramsberg, Ilsley and X Winery holding different items—everything from enormous bottles of wine, a bundle of vines and even a dead goose by the neck—strategically in front of their "grapes." The $23 calendar is officially released this month, along with autographed versions for $46 at www.napauncovered.com.

• Considering the prevalence of racecar drivers in the wine industry, Unfiltered considered it particularly appropriate that NASCAR's finest took to wine country this past weekend for the Toyota Save Mart 350 at the Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Also feeling the wine-country spirit was TRG Motorsports principal and Adobe Road winery owner Kevin Buckler, who made Adobe Road the primary sponsor of TRG's No. 71 car in the race. In what was perhaps a bad omen of blending wine and high-speed driving, the team's primary car, driven by David Gilliland, crashed in Saturday's practice rounds, but a suitable replacement was found and Gilliland was able to steer the backup car through the havoc-filled road-race-style course and finish in 32nd place. Unfiltered salutes the Adobe Road car and its driver's valiant efforts (but we still insist wine and 200 mile-per-hour cars should be combined with great care).

• Another baseball season, another crop of player-branded bottles: Derrek Lee of the Chicago Cubs and Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox took some time away from the field last week to unveil the California wines whose labels bear their names and likenesses, and whose sale will benefit charities of their choice. In keeping with Charity Wines' naming convention (remember Jose Reyes' Cabereyes and Curt Schilling's Schardonnay?), the newest offerings are named "Caberlee" (a 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon) and "Buehrlot" (a 2007 Merlot), respectively. The proceeds from Lee's wines will benefit his 1st Touch Foundation, which offers scholarships and special programs to promote higher education, and Buehrle's wines will support Hope Rescues Animal Shelter.

• Did you know that most of what we perceive as flavor actually comes from what we smell? It's no accident that serious wine tasters take a moment to evaluate the nose of a wine before they take a sip. Wine lovers are notoriously touchy about their sense of smell; one winemaker in Bordeaux even went so far as to have his nose insured for $8 million. Recent headlines about a popular cold remedy, therefore, should have wine drinkers on notice. Last week, the FDA issued a warning to consumers regarding three different Zicam cold remedies, saying that the homeopathic products, which promise to reduce the duration and severity of cold symptoms, have been linked to cases of people losing their sense of smell, an infliction known as Anosmia. Because the FDA does not have jurisdiction over homeopathic remedies, they cannot recall the products from store shelves. The parent company of Zicam, however, has voluntarily recalled the products in question, while denying that any correlation between the use of their products and the loss of smell has been proven. Regardless of who is to blame, Unfiltered can definitively say that Anosmia stinks.

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