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Helpful Resources for Workers & Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

 

Throughout the U.S.A. the hospitality and foodservice community needs our support in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Restaurants, cafes, bars and clubs have served as community gathering places for centuries. They are first to open their doors and service their communities in times of need and a place where we celebrate special occasions from graduations to anniversaries.

We recall how the restaurant community in New York City and throughout the world united to support citizens and first responders and raise funds to help families who lost loved ones during the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Now in the wake of the coronovirus pandemic, our restaurant community needs our support more than ever, especially with so many service workers laid off due to temporary closures and reduced staffing.

In the spirit of support, we are compiling and sharing lists of reliable resources and articles that can help industry workers. Since this is a developing situation, we will continue to update and post resources on our Facebook Page and Twitter.

Journalist Andrea Strong has compiled a list of local and nationwide resources (U.S.A.) to provide relief for laid-off workers for Food & Wine and continues to update it. Read and Share This List

Also by Strong, here is an article in Food & Wine on supportive charitable efforts. Read; Share; Donate

The nonprofit Restaurant Workers Community Foundation has started a COVID-19 emergency relief fund.  Read, Share, Donate  

SupportRestaurants.org is a collective of restaurant industry professionals who have set a national initiative in motion to get funds into the hands of restaurants, even if they are temporarily closed. A Dining Bond works like a savings bond, where you can purchase a "bond" at a value rate to be redeemed for face value (for example, a $100 bond for $75) at a future date. Read more here

The U.S. Bartenders Guild (USBG) has a charitable foundation to provide aid to bar industry workers in need. Info

Many people who work in the industry lack the benefits of full-time employed workers, such as sick pay, unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation. The nonprofit Gig Workers Collective has published this state-by-state list of resources to help. Read, share

Other ways to support: Order takeout. Buy a restaurant gift card. Stock up on wine.
Restaurants in New York and elsewhere may be closed to the public, but many are offering takeout and deliveries. Under a recently announced initiative to help businesses, restaurants in New York can also deliver wine, beer and cocktails. Read this Eater.com  article for more info and guidelines.

Other initiatives to support businesses are happening throughout the U.S. but it is still in an unfortunate catch-up mode for those facing job losses. The National Restaurant Association is providing special industry-specific guidance on its website. www.restaurant.org 

A Facebook Hospitality Industry Alliance | COVID-19 group has been established to provide an open forum to support and share ways to help members of the hospitality community. If you need help to join, let us know  Info

The above is a shortlist and continues to evolve. It is also specific to the U.S.A. We know many of our readers and listeners are in Europe. We want to let you know, we stand with you in solidarity throughout the world.

This week's edition of The Connected Table LIVE addresses ways to support our industry. We also discuss food safety when cooking at home. We will resume with scheduled guests on March 25. Click lunk below to listen and stream.

Stay safe. We are all in this together.

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Sipping with Amy Hoopes, Wente Family Estates

Joining a tight multi-generational family business can be tough as an outsider, especially when the family is globally recognized for producing a hallmark brand, in this case California wines. But Amy Hoopes, a 20-year wine industry veteran has done it seamlessly as President of Wente Family Estates (Livermore, CA), the oldest continuously operated, family-owned winery in the country.  Hoopes joined Wente Family Estates in 2007 and was named president in 2015. Wente Family Estates celebrates five generations working in the business and 136 years in 2019.

Amy Hoopes, President, Wente Family Estates

She has led many pioneering initiatives for the company and the industry, including #MakeTime, which encourages work-life balance and community volunteerism among Wente’s employees. She discusses how empowering employees to  create a balance between family, self, work and community not only helps build an individual’s personal self-esteem and sense of well-being, but also fosters employee loyalty and productivity.

Mother to two daughters, Hoopes is committed to programs to support women and their career advancement. Wente Family Estates sponsors several programs, including the Les Dames d’Escoffier International Legacy Awards, which provides mentoring opportunities to women pursuing careers in beverage and food.

 

 

The Wente Clone- the “mother grape”

In 1883 Karl Wente purchased 47 acres of vineyards in Livermore. In 1912, Karl’s son, Ernest persuaded his father to import select Chardonnay cuttings from the best vines in a nursery at the University of Montpellier in France. These cuttings gave birth to what is now referred to in the California wine industry as “the Wente clone.”  (a clone being a viticultural term referring to vines descended from cuttings or buds from an original “mother” vine.)   According to Wente’s website, “over 80% of all California Chardonnay stems from the Wente clone.”

What we sipped:

Chardonnay, naturally! Wente Family Estates harvests its Wente clone in four different vineyards in Northern California, each with a different style. We tasted Wente’s Riva Ranch Vineyard Chardonnay 2017, produced from grapes cultivated in its vineyard in Arroyo Seco. The wine has deep tropical notes,  like a light guava jam spread on toast. Great with grilled chicken!

We also tried Niki’s Rosé 2018 made from 100% estate-grown Pinot Noir grapes, also from Arroyo Seco. It’s an aromatic wine with rich raspberry and strawberry notes and touch of mandarin orange. We tend to eat light vegetarian dinners, and this wine, nicely chilled, fit the bill.

The Charles Wetmore Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 is named after one of the Livermore Valley’s most prominent agricultural pioneers, who brought select cuttings from some of Bordeaux’s top chateaux to plant in California. This wine is 79%  Cabernet Sauvignon with smaller percentages of Petite Sirah (9%), Petit Verdot (8%) and Malbec (4%). It’s a velvety wine with dark berry notes and touches of cocoa and black pepper.

Learn more about the Wente story and wine here www.wentevineyards.com

 

Click below to listen to The Connected Table SIPS with Amy Hoopes, President, Wente Family Estates, here.

 

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The Food & Beverage Industry Nourishes Souls in Times of Sorrow

It seems like the last several weeks have delivered us one disaster after another starting with Hurricane Harvey in Texas; then Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean and Florida, and now the tragic massacre in Las Vegas. It’s hard to be rah rah about this and that culinary event or new product launch when so many people have died, are displaced or hungry. Hearts are heavy; souls are aching, and we try to be sensitive to it all while going about our daily business.

While politicians talk among themselves to try to work out answers, the nation simmers and questions starting with “Why?” and “How long?” and “How much more can we take of this?”  Congress could take months and years to make decisions. But the food and beverage industry can make a difference in just a few weeks.

Source World Central Kitchen  Website: worldcentralkitchen.org

Leave it to chefs like José Andrés and Jose Enrique to arrange a team to cook thousands of meals for the displaced and hungry in Puerto Rico while the island waits for food supplies to be adequately distributed in hard hit areas.

Leave it to Ti Adelaide Martin, and Alex Brennan- Martin to spearhead a fundraising effort with the Louisiana Restaurant Association and Greater New Orleans Foundation to help hospitality workers affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, raising over $160,000. And that amount does not include the nationwide Dineout that took place on October 2  with dozens of restaurants to raise even more funds for this cause.

Leave it to bar community activists like Speed Rack Co-Founder and Bartender Lynnette Marrero, Journalist Jenny Adams, and Alba Huerta, Owner/Operator of Julep in Houston, TX, to rally their colleagues to organize “NYC LOVES TX & FL”  on September 24 to raise over $60,000 for the John Besh Foundation for disaster relief.


These just a few small servings of the large effort this industry does, and continues to do, to help humanity. When tragedy strikes, the food, beverage and hospitality industry cooks up a plan to do something and does not drag its heels. We stir the pot where others cannot. Maybe the Executive Branch could learn a few management trucs from Executive Chefs, Restaurateurs and Bar Owners. Perhaps we need a Commander- in -Chef.

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New Orleans Pays It Forward To Houston

It’s hard to believe that twelve years ago this week Hurricane Katrina walloped New Orleans creating widespread destruction, and here we are again watching Houston being pummeled by a hurricane, lingering rains and flooding of historic proportions.

I remember that Labor Day weekend in 2005 planning a fund raising campaign with The James Beard Foundation, Alex Brennan Martin from Brennan’s Houston and Southern Foodways Alliance Director John T. Edge to create a relief fund to help restaurant and hotel workers displaced by  Katrina.

This time it’s New Orleans rallying to help Houston. I reached out to Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan early this morning asking how they were, how Alex and the family in Houston were coping and how we could help. I’m glad I did because the Fearless Fabulous Brennans were already cooking up a plan with the Louisiana Restaurant Association and Greater New Orleans Foundation.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of our friends and colleagues living in Houston, or who have family living there. Let’s rally behind them.

Here is what Ti sent us. Please share and contribute:


The Louisiana Restaurant Association and Ti Martin of Commander’s Palace have teamed up with the Greater New Orleans Foundation to activate the Hurricane Harvey Hospitality Employee Relief Fund. The relief fund will donate individual grants to restaurant and hotel workers who are in need during this trying time.

“After Hurricane Katrina, the Houston community was there for New Orleans and we’ll never forget it. Alex Brennan Martin started the New Orleans Hospitality Workers Disaster Relief Fund and it raised and gave away over a million dollars in small grants to help individuals in New Orleans. Today, we are returning the favor,” shares Ti Martin.

If you or an organization you know are looking to support our industry, please visit www.gnof.org/give-now/ and specify your donation is for the “Hurricane Harvey Hospitality Employee Relief Fund.” If the donor prefers to send a check, please make it out to the Greater New Orleans Foundation and mail it to 919 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130.  #withlovefromnola

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Hail To The Chef!

While many Americans may be gnashing their teeth and biting their nails as we head into the last week of the Presidential campaign, I’m ready to cast my vote for the most impressive women-as-culinary-activists after attending last week’s Les Dames d’Escoffier International Conference in Washington, DC. Not intending to sound political, but just proud of my tribe: “If you want to get something done, ask a woman to do it.” Hats off to the Dames of the Washington DC Chapter who made this annual conference a fabulous success. The conference speakers addressed some very substantial topics that had everyone thinking about the role of food, its cultural significance in history and diplomacy and why activism and advocacy are critical to sustainability.

James Beard Foundation President Susan Ungaro’s keynote speech addressed the importance of embracing more diversity at every level of the food- and drink- chain of command. Lauren Bernstein, Director of the Diplomatic Culinary Partnership in the Office of Protocol at the U.S. Department of State, illustrated how top chefs are serving the nation in the role of culinary diplomat beyond Presidential State Dinners.

Native Americans may have worked out treaties with our country’s early settlers over a peace pipe, but today’s global relations are warmed up over a peace plate. Gastro-diplomacy takes knowledge, skill, good taste and an appreciation of cultural and culinary traditions.

Pass the plate of peace, please!

 

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Founded by New York based Food Writer and Editor Carol Brock Les Dames d’Escoffier is an invitational organization of women leaders in food, beverage and hospitality whose mission is education and philanthropy.  www.ldei.org

 

 

 

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Culinary Diplomacy: Peace on a Plate

The role of food as a cultural identity and brand builder for a country, how food can be used as both a weapon of war and vehicle for peace, and how ethical cooking and a borderless kitchen factor into international relations were among the topics addressed in a presentation by Dr. Johanna Mendelson Forman.

Johanna Mendelson Forman
Johanna Mendelson Forman

With more than two decades of experience in the international arena, working on post-conflict transition and democratization issues, Johanna holds a wealth of expertise and insights into the role of food in driving conflict and connecting people and communities. An Adjunct Professor at American University’s School of International Service where she teaches Conflict Cuisine®: An Introduction to War and Peace Around the Dinner Table, Johanna encourages new ways of looking at diplomacy, conflict resolution, and civic engagement.  She is also a Senior Adviser at the Stimson Center where she directs the Food Security program.

Johanna has written extensively about food and conflict, and topics related to Latin America. Her work has been published in a wide-range of publications including, the Miami HeraldWashington PostAmericas Quarterly, The Globalist, VOXXI, Estadao, El Universal, and World Politics Review, and has been cited in NPR’s The Salt, LeFigaro, Salon, and Italia Oggi, and This Week. She has lectured on food related topics at the Smithsonian Resident Associates Program, Johns Hopkins University Bologna Campus, New York University’s Washington Program, and at the United States Pavilion at the 2015 World Expo in Milan, Italy.  She also writes a column on conflict cuisines for the DCist, a local Washington blog post.

 

conflict-cuisine-cover

 

Listen to our show November 2 show with Johanna Mendelson Forman:

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Remembering Julia Child

Julia Child Kitchen Wisdom

Julia Child‘s birthday is August 15th. On the August 10th edition of The Connected Table LIVE! we share memories of Julia with her grand-nephew, Alex Prud’homme, who collaborated with Julia on her memoir, “My Life in France. ” When Julia passed away at the age of 92, he continued to work on the book with editor, Judith Jones. The book was a huge success and served as the inspiration for Nora Ephron’s movie, “Julie and Julia,” starring Meryl Streep as Julia Child, a role that earned her an Academy Award.

MY LIFE IN FRANCE

Alex has written a sequel called “The French Chef in America” about Julia’s life when she and husband,  Paul, returned to the U.S.A.

 

The French Chef in America

Alex is a successful writer and author of several books including The Ripple Effect who also dives deep

in the the looming global water crisis.

Ripple-Effect-jacket1-197x300

Alex joined The Connected Table LIVE August 10th to share his memories of Great Aunt Julia Child and we share a few favorite quotes. Listen here and share!

 

 

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Harlem’s Queen of Comfort Food: Melba Wilson

Melba

“The way I see it,” says Melba Wilson, “Soul food is the foundation of American comfort food.”

She’d know. For Melba, a Harlem native, or as she likes to say “I am Harlem born, bred, and buttered,” owns one of  most influential soul food restaurants in New York City’s most exciting dining neighborhood, aptly named Melba’s.

Like many children, she grew up watching her mother and grandomother cook and learned to love food, and soul food, in the process. But, Melba actually went into marketing and sales after school, anything from cosmetics to limo driving, finally entering the restaurant business on a lark when the great Sylvia Woods, Harlem’s Queen of Soul Food and owner of the world famous Sylvia’s, called and asked Melba to spearhead the 25th anniversary of the restaurant.

Melba did such a good job that Sylvia offered her a postion at the restaurant, starting her love affair with the hospitality business and eventually leading to her opening her own place.

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Melba’s, on the corner of 114th St and Frederick Douglas Blvd

Opened in 2005, Melba’s was an almost overnight success, with a family style menu that as Melba likes to say, “blends my Carolina heritage (her family is from South Carolina), with a dash of extra spice, a little urban edge, a taste of the melting pot, and a few ‘dee-lish’ twists.” It’s also been covered regularly in foodie magazines, and Melba even “Beat Bobby Flay” with her fried chicken recipe, now renamed Throwdown Chicken in honor of that accomplishment.

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Fried Chicken and Waffles

 

Comfort Food’s reigning authority, Melba Wilson joins us to talk about her passion and new cookbook Melba’s American Comfort (Atria Books) on The Connected Table LIVE Wednesday May 18th at 2:00pmET.

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#1 seller in biscuits and muffins. Click book cover photo for link to purchase.

THE CONNECTED TABLE BANNER WITH TIMES

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Peter Lehmann’s Ian Hongell: Barossa’s Straightshooter

It seemed like the perfect plan: Help out Barossa Valley grape growers unable to sell their fruit in a changing market by making wine from their grapes, sell it off in bulk to those who need wine to sell and go play golf for the rest of the year.

Well, something like that, anyways…

A champion of the little guy, Peter Lehmann, a fifth generation Barossa native who grew

up surrounded by vineyards, was originally a winemaker and buyer for a large British-owned Barossa Valley wine company. In 1979 when told by his superiors not to buy fruit he had contracted for, Peter, knowing it was the only source of income for his suppliers, decided to buy and process the fruit himself under the name of Masterson Barossa Vineyards (aptly named after Sky Masterson, the gambler in Guys and Dolls) – and he did it at his employers winery and with their blessing!

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The Cellardoor at Peter Lehmann Wines

However, when the winery sold the following year, the new owners halted the arrangement, forcing Peter to go out on his own. The result, Peter Lehmann Wines, enabled him to keep his relationships with growers in good standing and also showcase the increasing depth of the region’s growing capabilities, a move and philosophy that eventually earned Peter the title “Baron of the Barossa.”

Thirty-five years later, Peter Lehmann wines, founded in the late 1970s as an act of compassion by its namesake  with a group of like-minded wine industry veterans,  produces some of the best wines in Australia.

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The winery is now owned by the Casella Family Brands of [yellowtail] fame with a winemaking team helmed by Chief Winemaker Ian Hongell, another Barossa native who made his first wine at age 7 in a plastic bucket. Peter Lehmann Wines are now sold worldwide, and count upwards of 30 wines in the portfolio ranging from entry level easy drinkers to top-tier tiny production wines that are continuously heralded as benchmarks of the region’s output.

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Chief Winemaker Ian Hongell with Founding Winemaker Andrew Wigan and Peter Lehmann

Peter Lehmann’s winemaker, Ian Hongell, visited with The Connected Table LIVE! on Wednesday May 11 to talk about Peter Lehmann’s legacy, Barossa, and of course the region’s most famous varietal, Shiraz.  Listen to our podcast of this show on iHeart.com and the free iHeart App. Click here for the link.

 

Melanie and David are the Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple
Melanie and David are the Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple. Connect and follow: Twitter@connectedtable Instagram#TheConnectedTable Facebook/connectedtable

Connect and follow each of us:

David: twitter.com/Ransomwrites
Melanie:  twitter.com/mightymelanie

For more on the inspiring story of How Peter Lehmann wines was started, check out this video:

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Casa Dragones Tequila Raises The Bar

 

Bertha Gonzales Nieves
Bertha Gonzales Nieves of Casa Dragones

 

She’s called “The First Lady of Tequila” and is the first female “Maestra Tequila” certified by the Academia Mexicana de Catadores de Tequila. And she makes a pretty amazing

tequila called Casa Dragones.

After years building the Cuervo brand globally, Bertha Gonzáles Nieves stepped out in 2009 to create her own style of tequila to rave reviews. Casa Dragones is an ultra premium, 100% Blue Agave, hand -crafted sipping tequila that’s smooth, soft and warm with no bite – the way a good tequila should taste. From the sea blue blue packaging and perfume bottle design to the platinum-hued liquid inside, everything about Casa Dragones speaks luxury. This is a sipping spirit to lift the spirits and savor slowly.

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Casa Dragones Joven

So what is Casa Dragones Tequila? Well, it’s a game changer – and part of a growing category of bottlings that are taking the art of crafting tequila, long thought of as a delicious and complex but somewhat pedestrian spirit, to new levels of refinement and elegance through the use of different techniques in distillation, aging and blending. With Casa Dragones, think Cognac with Tequila flavor, but without the burn, or in this case, the color.

First, Casa Dragones is not your old method Tahona wheel/wood-fired Still traditional type of tequila. It is a double column distilled sipper that is clean, ripe with florals and fruit in the nose, and subtle on the palate.

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Bertha Gonzales Nieves

Second, unlike the traditional styles of Tequila – Blanco (or Silver), Reposado, and Anejo – Casa Dragones makes what’s called a Joven Tequila, a blended tequila that is primarily Silver, but with other, more aged lots – in this case a bit of 5 year-old Extra Anejo (the recently added fourth main category) blended-in to add complexity and smoothness. In the case of the Casa Dragones Joven, the color is removed from the Extra Anejo portion to keep the final spirit clear.

 

With the proliferation of Tequila labels on the market these days, many of which are billed as traditional and with a classic Tequila style. Casa Dragones stands out for being exactly not that. It is not a rough, hot, meaty spirit that feels like it was made in a hand-made still in the barn behind the hacienda, but a soft, smooth, elegant spirit with a lightness and level of refinement that liken it more to the sipping equivalent of drinking silk than wool.

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Co-Founders Bob Pittman and Bertha Gonzales Nieves

Casa Dragones Co-Founder Bertha Gonzáles Nieves joins us on The Connected Table LIVE! this Wednesday May 4, 2016 for a chat about Casa Dragones, and her views on Tequila and the state of the Tequila industry. Listen in at 2:25pm

on W4CY Radio.

Melanie and David are the Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple
Melanie and David are the Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple
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Distilling’s Whisky Master – Dave Pickerell

David Pickerell. Photo by David Handschuh
David Pickerell. Photo by David Handschuh

There’s probably nobody in the world today with a better handle on the pulse of the whisky industry than Dave Pickerell.

 

A veteran of the industry, Dave has spent a career moving the craft of making whisky forward through his knowledge and expertise in distilling. First at Makers Mark, where as Master Distiller for 14 years, he was in charge of making sure that the legacy of the Samuels family’s 19 barrel-at-a-time distillation recipe was kept true, and then as head of Oak View Consulting, the company he founded upon his departure from Makers Mark to help bring his distilling expertise to the budding craft spirits industry.

 

Some of his projects, like Vermont’s Whistle Pig and Hillrock Estate in New York State’s Hudson Valley, are game changers. Others, like Old Smoky Moonshine in Gatlinburg Tennessee, which he also helped start, are more mainstream. However, all are close to his heart, as they’ve, with his input, helped revive an industry that had been lost after the temperance movement essentially shut down regional spirits production just under 100 years ago.

 

Hillrock Estate Distillery in New York's Hudson Valley
Hillrock Estate Distillery in New York’s Hudson Valley

One of this favorite projects may be the re-birth of the Distillery at Mount Vernon, President George Washington’s Virginia homestead. Our first President made whisky on the property during his lifetime there, but the distillery was shut down and dismantled after his death. When the Trust decided to re-create it, they tapped Dave, a West Point grad by the way, to help research and build it again.

George Washington Distillery by Zzzzt!Zzzzt!
George Washington Distillery. photo by Zzzzt!Zzzzt!

At any given time, Dave has about 20 projects in the works worldwide, some he helps start and then moves on from, others, like Whistle Pig and Hillrock, he continuously works with, creating new product lines while acting as Master Distiller. Regardless of his role in any given product he oversees, Dave’s input and knowledge in the whisky business is unmatched.

Hillrock Estate Whiskies

We welcome Dave to The Connected Table LIVE! On Wednesday April 27 to chat whisky, Whistle Pig, and his incredible achievements at Hillrock Estate, America’s first whisky made from all estate-grown grain.

Melanie and David are the Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple
Melanie and David are the Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple
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Drinking Aloha: Carta Coffee’s Scott Burr

A lot of people yearn to get into the wine business, where aside from the pretty hard work (winemaking is not romantic, only drinking wine is), a life of good food, good wine, travel, and mostly beautiful surroundings carry the day, pretty much every day. It’s rare, however, to find someone who leaves it. Carta Coffee Merchants Founder Scott Burr is one of those people.

A longtime member of the wine industry, Scott grew up in a agriculturally focused family that had grown grapes and farmed its Northern California land for generations. Always interested in wine and winemaking, Scott eventually got a degree in enology from Fresno State before embarking on a 20+ year career as a consultant in the California wine industry, mostly in Sonoma
County.

Yet, for Scott, something was missing and he yearned for a place he could plant his feet on the ground and get back to what really interested him: farming. It was on trips to Hawaii that he had started to gain interest in coffee, in particular, the coffee grown in Kona, and he eventually bought an abandoned coffee farm. Working with the region’s top consultant, third generation grower and coffee guru George Yasuda, Scott started planting new coffee plants, and Nolyssa Coffee Farm was born.

Carta Coffee Merchants, Scott’s new brand, is a small-production coffee grower/roaster where everything is done the old fashioned way, from hand-tending of the orchards to how the beans are processed and finished. Maybe not the easiest way to do it, but it makes for very good coffee, and along the way Scott has realized his dream to get back to the land in a way that stimulates not just his mind and bloodstream, but also his sense of well-being.

So, what makes Kona coffee one of the world’s most sought after cups? Or, more importantly, what makes someone give up a career in the wine industry to start a coffee farm in Kona on the Island of Hawaii? We visited with Scott at Alyssa Farms on April 20th for a firsthand look and taste. Here's the permanent link to our show.  Or, cut and paste this link: http://www.iheart.com/show/209-The-Connected-Table-Live/?episode_id=27500317

Click and listen below