• Unfiltered was, ahem, "So Excited" that we couldn't just hide it when the legendary Pointer Sisters made an appearance in Napa on Sept. 13, performing at the Staglin Music Festival for Mental Health. Since the festival's inception in 1995, winery owners Shari and Garen Staglin have helped to raise $83 million for the prevention of mental health disorders, and in previous years, the festival has hosted singers Gladys Knight and Brian Wilson. This year's event opened with a symposium led by UCLA's Dr. Ty Cannon, followed by a reception at which more than 70 wines were served, including selections from Scarecrow, Sloan, Harlan, Screaming Eagle, Shafer, Bond and Dalla Valle. Later, the Pointer Sisters inspired the crowd to get up and dance along. Unfiltered's not one to brag, but Ruth Pointer did reach out and grab our hand in the middle of performing "Neutron Dance"— so we're certain that she'll remember us when we make our way to the front row of the Pointer Sisters' performance at the upcoming California Wine Experience.
Posh must have spied a plate of bangers and mash— this is the most we've ever seen her smile.
• Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham has been keeping herself busy. Just a few days ago at New York Fashion Week she debuted her first line of dresses, not to be confused with the perfume brand she just launched. It has recently been whispered that the Beckhams have purchased a Napa winery, and now it seems that she'll be involved in a restaurant venture with none other than her fellow Brit (and Unfiltered regular) Gordon Ramsay. Although Ramsay's publicist would not confirm the news, last week Ramsay told Britain's Daily Mail, "Yes, it is true that Victoria and I are setting up a restaurant in L.A. together. I'm really excited. She's really keen to focus on a traditional English-style menu, like bangers and mash, fish and chips and such like." Let's just hope that with Posh encouraging them to eat such homey, hearty British fare, her fans can still fit into her designs.
Wynton Marsalis plays for the love of music, but in this case it was also to fight child hunger.
• Last Sunday, 140 food and wine lovers came together at Eleven Madison Park in New York for the annual Autumn Harvest Dinner to benefit Share Our Strength, a national organization dedicated to ending child hunger. Among the chefs joining Eleven Madison's Daniel Humm in cooking a showstopping five-course meal for the cause were Michael Mina, Claire Clark of The French Laundry and Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern. Guest sommeliers including Andy Chabot of Blackberry Farm and Bobby Stuckey of Frasca Food & Wine made wine matches, which ranged from Schlossgut Diel Riesling Kabinett Nahe Dorsheimer Pittermännchen 2006 with an heirloom tomato salad to Jacques Laverriere Clos Chatart Banyuls 1998 with a chocolate mint parfait. Other forms of sustenance came from speeches by SOS founder and executive director Bill Shore and guest speaker Wynton Marsalis, who also played "When the Saints Go Marching In" on a trumpet that was then sold for $4,000 as part of the evening's live auction. Since 1988, SOS has raised over $220 million to fight hunger.
Note to self: drink more wine.
• From turning empty wine bottles into "nannies" to transforming barrels into compost bins, it seems that more and more businesses are coming up with ways to make wine consumption an eco-friendly endeavor. In the interest of keeping used corks out of landfills, New Jersey-based TerraCycle, Inc. has begun to collect consumers' and business' natural and synthetic corks for use in new products like cork boards, bathmats and coasters, to be sold through major retailers like Target, Office Max and Wal-Mart. Though the program only began a few weeks ago, the company has already collected thousands of corks, and they're now seeking corporate sponsorship for the project, in order to donate their profits to charity.
• And lest the western half of the country feel left out, there's ReCork America, an 18 month-old campaign that is valiantly promising to save us from the proliferation of cork collections-turned-trivets and holiday decorations. The Napa-based organization is stockpiling discarded corks from restaurants, wineries and wine retailers up and down the West Coast with the promise that these corks, like those collected by TerraCycle, will be made into other products and kept out of landfills. A noble cause, to be sure, but as ReCork America is funded by Amorim, the world's largest cork closure producer, it seems that this initiative is also out to save something else: the environmentally-friendly image and economic viability of the cork. Screwcaps made from aluminum are potentially recyclable, but Roger Archey, ReCork's program manager, says that the plastic inserts make them more energy-intensive to recycle than cork. While the experts sort out the final word on carbon footprints, sustainability and cradle-to-grave tallies, we'll raise a glass to all who are making an effort to reduce the impact of drinking wine on the environment—and to those who reduce the likelihood of us receiving another wine cork wreath this year during the holidays.
Wine bottle, glass and mountains not shown actual size.
• As an homage to the wine industry in Santa Barbara's Lompoc Valley, members of the Lompoc Mural Society recently completed a painting on a downtown Lompoc alley wall that depicts the wine history of the region. For the past 16 years, the Society has commissioned a locally-themed mural for their annual Mural in a Day event. The area is home to dozens of murals, and more than 20 wineries, including Flying Goat, Palmina and Fiddlehead Cellars, which comprise an industrial winemaking park known as the Lompoc Wine Ghetto. This year's mural, entitled Lompoc Vintage, was designed by Keizer, Ore., native Colleen Goodwin-Chronister, and includes scenes of grape crushing, local wine bottles, Prohibition, wine tasting and La Purisima, one of the first missions in California at which grapes were grown and wine produced.
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