Your Resource for Wine Region Travel

Brandon Beginning of harvest '08

Dear Reader,

A lot has happened since the last newsletter I sent out in December.  We all survived the holidays.  We have a new president, Obama!  We have a drought in California and too much water and frost in the mid-states.  Now, if only we could truck the excess water from there to here wouldn't that solve all our troubles?  Money!  You mean it would cost money?  What?  We don't have any money left?  Great.  And you ask why we continue to drink wine?  Wine is our friend.  When there is a crisis, or happiness, wine is always there.  One of the great things about wine is that you can always find a decent bottle for a decent price.  Wine helps to put a smile on your face no matter the situation.  So use it, but don't abuse it!

Last month I sent out a survey to see what you think about  I want to thank those of you who are helping us by taking the time by filling it out.  If you haven't filled it out yet there is still plenty of time for you to do so.  We are a new company and we want to make sure that we are growing in the direction to satisfy your needs in a wine travel resource website.

This month we have a few new items.  One is an interview with a winery called Dark Star Cellars in Paso Robles.  Norm and Susan Benson are good people and have a great story of how they got into the wine business.  Their story starts about 15 years ago.  We also have some new recipes to pair with their Zinfandels.  The other new item is an answer from Winemaker B to the question, "What's so special about Syrah?"  If you have a question for Winemaker B, please email and he will be more than happy to answer it.

If you've had any wine tasting or food and wine pairing experiences recently that you would like to share, please blog about it.  It's really so easy to do.  Reading about your experiences adds to all of our knowledge, education, and depth about wine.

Don't worry, drink happy!™

Lori Lapides

February 2009


Pairing Wine with Chocolate

Some say it can't be done, pairing wine with chocolate, but if you have the right wine to complement the right chocolate it can be a match made in heaven!  Whether you are pairing a delicate white chocolate or a lively dark chocolate with wine, here are a few pairing tips to keep in mind. Check out this video on how to pair wines with chocolates by Jonathon Stewart.

Rule #1-When pairing wines with chocolate, your best bet is to match lighter, more elegant flavored chocolates with lighter-bodied wines; likewise, the stronger the chocolate, the more full-bodied the wine should be. 
Rule #2-If you will be experimenting with several varities of chocolates, work from light to dark. Start with a more subtle white chocolate and end on a dark or bittersweet chocolate.

What wines go with which chocolates?

White Chocolate-White chocolate, not having any cacao in it tends to be more mellow and buttery and sweet in flavor, making it an ideal candidate for a Sherry or a Moscato d'Asti from Italy's Piedmont region which offers subtle, sweet bubbles, or an Orange Muscat. The Sherry and Moscato d'Asti will pick up the creaminess of the white chocolate and the Orange Muscat will pick up any fruit tones on the scene. Another route for pairing wine with white chocolate is going for the contrast pairing approach, like a Pinot Noir, this is a little riskier, but when you find a match it can be exceptional.

Milk Chocolate-Pinot Noir or a lighter-bodied Merlot will complement a bar of milk chocolate, or a creamy chocolate mousse. Rieslings, Muscats or dessert wines tend to hold up well to mild milk chocolates. Also consider a sparkling wine or Champagne for pairing with milk chocolate dipped strawberries. Last, but not least, a classic milk chocolate pairing to consider is a nice Ruby Port - a very safe bet when looking for the perfect wine to accent milk chocolate.

Dark Chocolate-Dark or bittersweet chocolates need a wine that offers a roasted, slightly robust flavor itself, with perhaps a hint of its own chocolate notes. Cabs and Zinfandels have a history of perfecting the dark chocolate match, resulting in a perfect tasting combination. A Cabernet Sauvignon or a Zinfandel will more than fill your chocolate pairing expectations. Also consider a Pinot Noir or a Merlot to handle dark chocolate around the 55% cocoa mark. Finally, give a Tawny or Vintage Port a try to offer a very well balanced pairing approach to a dark chocolate dessert or truffle. is a website dedicated to help you learn more about wine region traveling:  how each wine region is unique and what it has to offer, the art and science of wine making, some FAQ's on wine etiquette, recipes that go great with different wines, plus much, much more.

Our website features:
Ask the Winemaker column in which our dedicated consultant, Brandon, answers your questions.
Vineyard Views articles where we interview wine industry personalities.
Wine Region area information from wineries and lodging to restaurants, spas and other activities.
Food and Wine Pairing Recipes
Travel Planning Services
where you tell us what you want to see and do on your next wine region getaway, and we will plan it for you.
Blog to write about your wine experiences or read what others wine lovers have to say.

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Ask The Winemaker
Brandon #3
Winemaker B answers:

Brandon Beginning of harvest '08

Vineyard Views spoke with Norm and Susan Benson, the owners of Dark Star Cellars in Paso Robles.  We always enjoy our visit there.  They open up their tasting room like it's there home, which sits about 200 yards away!  We love their wines and their tasting room is very atmospheric and fun.  If you like dogs, then you will love Gracie, their boxer, who occasionally will be near the tasting room to great you.

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