Off the Vine
“Our wine tasting will be laid back and casual,” said MaryJane Baker of the Waterside Wine Club to guests at the Knotty Bean Coffee Bar’s inaugural wine tasting on Tuesday evening, July 11. “Whether you are connoisseur or just enjoy an occasional glass, every one of you will increase your knowledge about this wonderful drink!”
MaryJane presented 7 different vintages over the next two hours with a story on each, including the country of origin and what makes each excellent for wine. We began with a Bodegas Ondarre Cava Brut Millenium from Spain. “This is a sparkling wine, with a fermentation method similar to champagne,” said MaryJane. “It has a yeasty flavor, just like what you get from a nice fresh champagne. Being a Brut, it is dry, as opposed to an Extra Brut that is less dry, though you would think the opposite would be true, so that sounds funny! This wine can really stand up to an aromatic cheese.”
Next was a Tiziano Pinot Grigio 2015 white wine from Italy. “This uses about 85% of the grapes from that region,” she explains, “with the remaining 15% from grapes from another vintage. This is a colder type of grape that produces a sweet wine that can complement a hummus or shrimp cocktail, goes great with appetizers or a light fish dish, and refreshes your palate on a hot day. The United States imports more wine from Italy than any other country, and Italy exports more than any nation except France.”
Following this, we savored a Leyda Sauvignon Blanc Garuma 2015 white wine from Chile. “You may detect whiffs of peaches and grapefruit,” MaryJane relates, “but there is no wrong answer if you smell something else! This is a great blend from the center of Chile, with a pleasant aroma and cool and refreshing taste, meaning it is an excellent complement to a spicy or Thai food, raw bar options and fish with lemon.”
An Astrolabe Pinot Noir 2014 from southeast New Zealand was our first red wine. “This is one of the few wines to come from this region,” MaryJane told us, “as the grapes grow in relative cold. Wine drinkers who want an excellent red in their cellar often go with this because it makes for a very nice taste.”
A Tournon Shiraz Shay’s Flat Vineyard 2012 red from Australia was next. “This is the quintessential Australian shiraz,” she said, “as it is the most widely known and loved grape from that area, as the ocean breeze provides a moderating influence that makes for a stellar shiraz, and became a marketing boom for Australia, now the world’s fifth-largest wine producer. This is excellent with or without food, but especially good with soft cheeses like brie.” Several people thought it had a peppery aroma, with one saying she felt like she was “eating a goulash out of a bottle!”
Evil Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 was another red, from Spain: “This is one of our most popular,” exclaimed MaryJane! “It is from southern Spain, its Number One region, so it is very well-known, with a lot of imports coming from there. One of the keys to its flavor is that it is from very old vines that produce a much smaller amount due to their age, but a superior flavor.”
We finished with Marietta Cellars Christo Lot 3, a red from Sonoma County, California, along the Pacific Ocean. “While this is most assuredly a new wine,” MaryJane offers, “it has an Old World taste like those from Europe, as the cool winds off the ocean really make the grapes POP! In the United States, we love our big bold red wines, as they go so well with our big bold steaks! This red is perfect for weeknight pizza, with a little more quality and character that can stand up to pastas, filets, an oven pot roast or beef roast.”
MaryJane explained that “Valorie Steinbeck, co-owner of the Knotty Bean with her husband Steve, called us, saying she wanted to host a wine tasting, and we were thrilled! We host many private events like this, as well as having monthly wine parties at our place in Cape Coral that can hold up to 125 people.” MaryJane co-owns the Waterside Wine Club with her husband: “For years we had a restaurant in Manhattan, but sold that in 2007 to move to Southwest Florida to open a boat dealership and then this, so we sell boats by day and wine at night – truly the best of both worlds!”
Boutique Winery & The Beach Place to Be!
Waterside carries wines that are not available in the big box stores, said MaryJane. “Those outlets order 8,000 crates at one time, and do not care about labels that produce just 500 cases, so that leaves a lot of room for us to work with boutique wineries that offer limited production, and those become our specialties.”
MaryJane has an excellent and friendly speaking style, with soothing background music to enhance the relaxed atmosphere, with delicious appetizers, several homemade by Valorie. Roughly a dozen people enjoyed delightful conversation between demonstrations, with MaryJane providing wonderful wine geography and history, with intimate stories that pull you in and make you feel that you are in on some marvelous secrets! You most assuredly did not need to be a connoisseur or even a novice to enjoy the evening that cost $20-per-person.
“Hosting a wine tasting is a natural for us,” explained Valorie, “as Steve’s family owns Steinbeck’s Winery in California. Their most well-known wine is called ‘Crash B-52,’ because a B-52 at one time smashed into the vineyard! They produce an amazing port as well, so wine tasting for us did not fall far from home.”
After 30 years as a legal advocate, Valorie was ready for a change, and the Knotty Bean Coffee Bar is ideal. “I very much like to entertain, and love to connect with my community, so this is pretty cool!” Although still a relatively new business, the Knotty Bean recently expanded, opening the 3rd floor café in the Fort Myers Beach Public Library just a few weeks ago.
In addition to their normal hours, they will host special events at their flagship location at 2801 Estero Boulevard, Suite K, in the SeaGrape Plaza. “On Tuesday, July 25, we have ‘Vino Picasso’ that is a paint and wine session, and shortly after that will host an art program for children, hopefully in partnership with the public library. Beginning in October, we will have twice-a-month special hours for families with Alzheimer’s patients, so those afflicted as well as their caregivers can enjoy an evening out without worrying about how others will see or judge their loved ones.”
To learn more about the Knotty Bean Coffee Bar, find them on Facebook, call 239-233-8635 or go to www.knottybeancoffeebar.com; for the Waterside Wine Club at 5785 Cape Harbour Drive, Suite 203, in Cape Coral, 33914, call 239-540-1557 or see www.watersidewineclub.com.
“We are more than just a business,” said Valorie, “but a neighbor, and we want the Knotty Bean to be the place to be for community involvement on Fort Myers Beach!”