• What do jazz musician Chuck Mangione, artist Philip Burke, Heron Hill winery and park benches have in common? Each is playing a part in Benches on Parade, a community arts and fund-raising project that will benefit a handful of non-profit organizations in the Finger Lakes region. Since October, some 200 benches have been transformed into works of art that will be displayed in and around Rochester, N.Y., beginning in May. At the end of the summer, the benches will be auctioned off and the proceeds donated to the New York Wine and Culinary Center, Rochester City Ballet, Nazareth College Arts Center and an additional non-profit of the high bidder’s choice. Heron Hill is sponsoring one of the event’s most talked-about benches, painted with a portrait of jazz man Chuck Mangione, a Rochester native, by artist Philip Burke, who hails from Buffalo and now makes his home in Niagara Falls. Unfiltered asked Burke about the inspiration for his Mangione portrait. “Mostly I was just trying to express his joy in creating music, and how I feel when I hear his music,” said the artist, whose unmistakable portraits have appeared in Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Time and Vogue magazines, as well as at the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
• Chocolate lovers were delighted when we reported that chocolate may lower the risk of heart attack. Now those who nearly have a stroke when trying to select the right heart-shaped box of the sweets for Valentine's Day can also relax a little. An analysis of recent studies found that eating chocolate may also be associated with a lower risk of stroke. The results will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 62nd annual meeting in Toronto this April. Researcher Sarah Sahib, from McMaster University in Ontario, Can., examined the results of one study with more than 44,000 participants and found that people who consumed around 2 ounces of chocolate per week were 22 percent less likely to have a stroke than people who ate no chocolate. Another study of more than 1,000 people found that those who ate similar amounts weekly were 46 percent less likely to suffer a stroke. Sahib believes the presence of certain antioxidant chemicals, called flavonols, may have something to do with the results. She also explained that the darker the chocolate, the better, because the treat’s flavonols are derived from cocoa.
• New Zealand’s Grove Mill Winery has long been at the forefront of the sustainable and carbon-neutral winery farming movement, having earned certifications from Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand, Green Globe 21 and Enviro-Mark. Now Grove Mill is experimenting with a new form of vineyard recycling: a tractor that runs on biofuel generated from the winery’s own vine cuttings. At the time the project was conceived, the cost of diesel fuel in New Zealand was rising toward NZ$1.50 a liter, so the company teamed up with Vine Gas Ltd., a company set up to promote the use of gasification of vineyard waste. “Gasification” is a process through which vineyard biomass is combusted to form a gas that can fuel a specially modified tractor. Initial trials with the fuel have reportedly cut diesel consumption by as much as 75 percent (though in the time since the project’s inception, the cost of diesel fuel has fallen below that of the biofuel, we still think it’s worth it). Grove Mill estimates that its CO2 emissions over its 120 hectares could be reduced by 42 tons annually. Unfiltered suspects Prius owners are green with envy.
Save some money and save the planet with Gordon Taylor's wine “growlers” at Daven Lore.
• In Europe, many people go to their local winery and cheaply fill a jug with fresh table wine for the week. It saves them money and reduces the environmental impact of packaging. Inspired by that model, two Pacific Northwest winemakers are selling vino in reusable liter-sized bottles that local customers can return for refills. James Matthisen of Springhouse Cellar started filling Italian-style water bottles from the spigot when he opened his tasting room in Hood River, Ore., about two years ago. He seals the bottles with a Grolsch-type snap top, charging customers $5 for the bottle plus the regular 750ml price. Locals bring the bottle back washed, or swap it out for a fresh bottle, and pay only for the refill (the price of the 750ml). They can choose from 10 different wines or order their own custom blend. Matthisen has sold more than 700 bottles so far. He’s also distributing the reusable bottles at local restaurants. “You spend more on wine and less on packaging, you get to save the planet, and you can pretend you’re in Europe,” Matthisen said. Gordon Taylor of Daven Lore Winery in Prosser, Wash., began selling his Recovery Red blend in reusable liter bottles last summer at the nearby Saturday farmer’s market. He’s continued the program over the winter through a local wine shop. At a price of $20 for the first bottle and $10 for refills, Taylor so far has sold about 300 bottles, also sealed with snap tops. “It’s a lot of fun, it sells a little bit of wine, and it keeps the price down for locals,” Taylor said. “We’ve built quite a following. I think it could get very popular.”
• If you ask your teenage daughter what she learned at school today and she mumbles something under her breath about the Bordeaux classifications of 1855, she must be attending the Malvern St. James School in England. The exclusive private school now offers a wine appreciation course to girls age 16 and older. In addition to the basics of wine appreciation and history, the girls also take part in instructor-led tastings. The wine course isn’t without its opponents, especially since the legal drinking age in Britain is 18 (15- to 17-year-olds may legally imbibe under adult supervision). Malvern St. James defends the program as a means of exposing children to wine in a responsible and mediated manner. While we’re all for the responsible education of wine to all, Unfiltered wishes you all the best in trying to get this past your local PTA here in the States.