With all the recent talks of immigration legislation in the news, we were a little surprised to hear that Fantesca Estate in Napa is selling an opportunity for wine lovers to be a vineyard worker--in California, a position held largely by Latinos--for a day. Maybe the winery is making sure that if Congress doesn't pass a guest-worker program, they'll be able to rely on other trained help? For $175 per person, the "Hands-on Harvest" opportunity is a way to get your hands stained with wine, be tutored on how to sort grapes, and get to know a little bit more about the strenuous activity of punching down. Of course, these one-time harvest hands will be treated a bit differently than those who do this for a living--the fee includes lunch and an offer to dip in the pool and drink wine when you're done. The announcement talked about "Experiencing the magic of harvest" without having to quit your day job. Imagine that! And all this time, we just thought harvesting was hard, low-paying work.
If paying to be a harvest hand isn't your gig, you can always sign up for Camp Schramsberg in Napa Valley, which is like summer camp but without all the campfire songs. At Camp Schramsberg, you do dabble in harvest, but the three-day program also explores the entire sparkling-wine process hands-on, and you make your own sparkling wine to take home. That sounds a lot better than the ceramic ashtrays and leather wallets Unfiltered made at camp.
Recently Unfiltered passed along news from U.K. paper The Independent, which reported that since Tony Blair took office in 1997, Great Britain's Labour Party has spent about $1.5 million on wine. After further reporting, the paper found that the left-leaning political party isn't the only group in England with a well-stocked wine cellar. Others holding vast collections range from banks and colleges to army regiments and several of London's livery companies, trade guilds such as the Goldsmiths and Fishmongers, who open the wines for monthly dinners and other special events. Though all these groups reportedly stock wines of exceptional value and quality, Unfiltered would most like to be locked in a room with the Goldsmiths' 800-case collection. Along with Ports dating back to 1948, the Goldsmiths also have 18 bottles of Madeira dating from 1835. But it turns out even the group's oldest members have not been offered the chance to taste the latter, which saved us from trying to apply for a job there.
Lest you think that beer is the drink of barbarians and wine for the well-to-do, a couple Italian wine lovers have news for you. Locals Luca Sormani and Fulvio Pescarolo have traced the winemaking history of the town of Robbio, near Milan, to the ancient Celtic tribes that conquered parts of northern Italy 2,500 years ago. After taking over, the Celts drained the marshland and set up agriculture, including grapevines. Sormani and Pescarolo have pooled their savings to create a replica of a Celtic farm, on which they're growing grapes and making wine according to Celtic tradition. They started the project in 2000, and hope to sell about 300 liters of wine from the 2004 vintage, bottled in ceramic vases designed in an ancient Celtic form. However, the ancient Celts would probably be shocked at the idea of paying $200 per bottle (whatever that is in ancient currency), which is what Sormani and Pescarolo are charging. But at least it's going to a good cause: The duo plans to use the proceeds to open a Celtic cultural center on their property.
While white wine is ideal for summer sporting events, the beverage of choice at the Kentucky Derby will always be a mint julep. Now Bourbon distiller Woodford Reserve, owned by wine-and-spirits powerhouse Brown-Forman Corp., is offering the ultimate julep--for $1,000. The ultrapremium sipper is made with Woodford's top Bourbon, Morroccan mint, sugar from the South Pacific and ice from the Arctic Circle. It's all served in a frosty gold-plated cup with a silver straw. Some of the proceeds will go to a thoroughbred retirement charity. Still, $1,000 could buy a lot of good wine--or go toward a lot of bets on Derby contenders.
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