Scotland wine and food center is open

DUNDEE, Scotland -- Tourist alert! Scotland's first food and wine center is now open.

The Tasting Rooms, as the center is called, was created by Scott's Wine World, a Dundee wine importer.

The center is international in scope, offering virtual wine tours, a deli, café, wine trading floor, corporate conference facilities and an art gallery. Director Graeme Scott said inspiration for the project came from visits to the wine warehouses of Australia and Hong Kong.

"There's a lot of investment here at the moment and the timing is just right," Scott said, explaining why Dundee (seen above) was selected as the initial Scottish site.

Events planned for The Tasting Rooms include specialized dinners pitched at the corporate market and featuring wine producers and celebrity chefs.

The complex blends the historical and traditional jute building with a rustic wine warehouse where people can wander, buy, relax, eat and learn.

“There’s nothing like this in the UK and there’s definitely nothing like it in Scotland,” Scott said. “We want to take the snobbery out of wine and make it more accessible. I experienced this when I was living abroad where it was all about tasting wine in a relaxed environment and in a more tactile way, and I wanted to bring that to the UK.”

Visitors to the Tasting Rooms can access virtual tours of vineyards around the world as well as tastings of the produce of some of those wineries from Italy, Spain, France, South America, Australia and New Zealand. Food is provided mostly by Scottish suppliers for the on-site deli counter and mezzanine café that overlooks the wine trading floor.

Scott, born and raised in Dundee, says of the city, “There’s a lot of investment here at the moment and the timing is just right. Currently our main focus is Dundee, but if it’s successful we have not ruled out similar concepts in other cities.”

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Only the best in the world

As Bogie might have put it, out of all the whisky joints in all the towns in the world, what makes The Pot Still the best?

Whisky Magazine has named the Glasgow, Scotland, establishment the best whisk(e)y bar in the world, a title announced at the prestigious magazine's Icons of Whisky awards in London.

The Pot Still, with a history that dates to the 1870s, features walls of just about every whisky imaginable, such as the one seen here, with 483 bottles and adding. Whisky lovers from around the world have traveled to The Pot Still, some for the pub fare and ales on tap as well. So, if you're planning to visit teh ancient Scottish city, it seems only logical to include a stop at The Pot Still.

Of course, calling something the best in the world isn't something Whisky Magazine shys away from. For some examples, click here.


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New Texas wine region declared

Texas has added a viticultural area to its arsenal: the Texoma American.

It's an area along the Texas-Oklahoma border where horticulturist Thomas Volney Munson began cultivating grapes more than a century ago in what he referred to as a "grape paradise."

The federal government has designated a 3,650-square-mile area of sandy hills sloping to the Red River and Lake Texoma as the viticultural area.

"I don't know if it's 10 years or 20 years or 100 years, but the (region) will fill in and we'll have several thousands of acres of grapes around here," said Gabe Parker, owner of the Homestead Winery in Ivanhoe. "The land is appropriate for it."

The number of wineries in the Texoma area has grown from two to six in the past three years, and there now are 225 acres dedicated to vineyards in the fledgling area.

Texas has 109 wineries statewide, up from just 40 in 2000 to 109 this year, according to the Texas Wine Marketing Research Institute at Texas Tech University. The wineries' output makes Texas the nation's fifth-largest wine producing state.


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Yakima Valley: New wine destination

The Rattlesnake Hills, southeast of Yakima in central Washington, has become the state's ninth federally recognized wine grape-growing region.

The U.S. Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved the Rattlesnake Hills for appellation status, effective March 20. The federal bureau awards appellation status to regions, also known as American Viticultural Areas, to recognize their distinct climate and soil features.

The 68,500-acre region lies within the Yakima Valley appellation, stretching from Union Gap, just south of Yakima, to north of Sunnyside about 45 miles to the east. Its loam soils hold moisture better than some other Washington areas and it historically is slightly warmer than the rest of the Yakima Valley appellation.

Gail Puryear, owner and winemaker at Bonair Winery in Zillah, and his wife, Shirley, were among proponents of the new appelation.

"We can ripen the warmest varieties, the sun-loving varieties like syrah and nebbiolo, but we have micro-climates because of the varying topography," he told the Associated Press. "Riesling does well in the cool micro-climates. We grow everything in between."

Dick Boushey, a Grandview grower who opposed the appellation request, told the AP the issue had become divisive in some corners. Half the 26 parties submitting comments to the government were opposed to the division of the current appellation.

"It just shows I don't really understand what it takes to be an AVA, and I guess I have a little bit less regard for what an AVA is," he said. "Whatever happens, we all need to work together. There probably will be more AVAs in the future, and I think we all want the same thing: to promote the area in any way we can."

If the application met all the criteria to be named an appellation, it just gives the Washington wine industry one more opportunity to market itself, said Robin Pollard, executive director of the Washington Wine Commission, a promotion agency funded by member fees on growers and wineries.

The Chelan area in north-central Washington and the Ancient Lake region near Moses Lake in central Washington have proposals for appellation status pending.

Washington is the No. 2 producer nationally of wine, after California. More than 350 wineries, 350 wine-grape growers and 30,000 vineyard acres support the more than $2.5 billion annual industry.

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