Monte Belmonte Wines: The potential of Massachusetts wine
Jun26

Monte Belmonte Wines: The potential of Massachusetts wine

Massachusetts is no Bordeaux. It’s no Napa. Perhaps with global warming, someday it will rival the great wine regions of the world, which is why I keep a tire fire burning in my backyard at all times. But given the limitations of our climate, are our burgeoning vineyards in Massachusetts able to produce great wine? If you read my last column, you’ll know I was recently illegally drinking canned wine on the beaches of Cape Cod. Route...

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Monte Belmonte Wines: The man who made post-Prohibition America love wine, through the eyes of his daughter
May29

Monte Belmonte Wines: The man who made post-Prohibition America love wine, through the eyes of his daughter

How would you like to buy a bottle of Château Lafite Rothschild for $1.75? Maybe a bottle of Château Haut-Brion for $1.95? Interested in two bottles of Château Mouton-Rothschild for a whopping $2.95 each? Or go ahead and splurge on a case of Château Margaux for $25. If you are deeply infatuated with wine, these names are familiar to you. And you may be incredulous of my listed prices, as current vintages of these wines go for about...

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Monte Belmonte Wines: The wines of Silicon Valley
May15

Monte Belmonte Wines: The wines of Silicon Valley

“Our neighbor in France had a trained donkey and a goat. We noticed the donkey and goat were always together during the evenings. During the day the goat was around but the donkey was gone. He had trained his donkey to do weed control in the vineyard. The donkey was really stubborn so he got it a goat as a companion animal. A calming goat.”   That’s where Jared and Tracey Brandt, the Berkeley, California, based winemaking couple...

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Early spring holidays mean revisiting culinary traditions for many
Mar28

Early spring holidays mean revisiting culinary traditions for many

With the last of the snow (hopefully) behind us, many people across the Pioneer Valley are looking forward to celebrating religious holidays in the early Spring. I was not raised Christian Orthodox, but I often celebrated Easter with my family with Orthodox food and traditions from across Eastern Europe. My stepmom taught my brothers and I how to make Pysanky eggs —  Ukranian Easter eggs — by making patterns on the eggs with wax and...

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Monte Belmonte Wines: So What Is Kosher Wine, Anyway?
Mar20

Monte Belmonte Wines: So What Is Kosher Wine, Anyway?

“There’s nothing in the Torah about the Passover Seder. We first hear of it about 2000 years ago in a book of Rabbinic custom and law called the Mishnah. And the first thing they talk about is that everyone has to have four cups of wine.” Well G-d, if you insist! I grew up Catholic. And allegedly during the Mass, the wine changes to the blood of Christ. And also allegedly, we parishioners were supposed to get to drink some. But as far...

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O Cannabis: CCC finalizes cannabis regulations, weed cafes don’t make the cut
Mar07

O Cannabis: CCC finalizes cannabis regulations, weed cafes don’t make the cut

Cannabis regulations were finally finalized on March 6 and Massachusetts marijuana enthusiasts have a lot to look forward to in 2018. Medical marijuana patients will be protected from shortages and applicants from communities worst affected by cannabis criminalization will be prioritized for licenses. But unfortunately, the dream of Massachusetts paving the way in America with cannabis cafes and yoga studios has been put on the back...

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How to Fight Big Beer
Mar07

How to Fight Big Beer

In 2011, Anheuser-Busch InBev bought the Chicago craft brewery Goose Island. Today, the international conglomerate owns stake in a dozen formerly-craft American breweries. (Leah Kelley photo)   I used to bartend at one of the oldest dive bars in Western Mass, pouring drinks for the proudly unhip. Such neighborhood joints watch the decades pass with a warm and studied slowness. Behind these doors, familiar routines trump most...

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Monte Belmonte Wines: The Gewürzfather Part II
Mar07

Monte Belmonte Wines: The Gewürzfather Part II

“Weird. What the heck does it smell like? Roses? It tastes like Oil of Olay.” “It smells like…you know how, in spring, the buds are coming out on the trees? Like those trees that smell like sex?” “Like a ‘period’ tree.” “It smells like sex is about to happen. It smells post-coital, It smells both pre-and post coital. It’s like an orgy in a glass.” Thus was my conversation with my wife, Professora Belmonte, after a first whiff of...

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Farm to Trail Ale to benefit Kestrel Land Trust conservation of Pioneer Valley farm land and forests
Mar06

Farm to Trail Ale to benefit Kestrel Land Trust conservation of Pioneer Valley farm land and forests

A limited edition craft beer called “the Farm to Trail Ale” was recently released on March 4 and celebrates the legacy of the Amherst-based Kestrel Land Trust, which has conserved more than 25,000 acres of forests and farmlands since the 1970s. The beer is a collaboration between between Kestrel and three Pioneer Valley craft beer businesses — Beerology in Northampton, which crafted the rye ale using an historic recipe, Abandoned...

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Beerhunter: Veteran-owned Arcpoint Brewing Company takes root in Belchertown
Feb12

Beerhunter: Veteran-owned Arcpoint Brewing Company takes root in Belchertown

Chris Peterson tweaks his craft beer recipes the same way he works on multimillion-dollar military aircraft: very, very carefully. Peterson is a tech sergeant in the 439th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee. As a technician and avionics expert, it’s his job to ensure that a plane’s communication, navigation, and guidance control systems are running smoothly. Peterson and his fellow Air Reserve...

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Monte Belmonte Wines: You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Wine
Jan16

Monte Belmonte Wines: You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Wine

All natural. The kind of buzz words that make my extremely savvy, health-conscious wife cringe. When you see “natural flavors” on raspberry flavored items, it might as well read “flavors expressed from a beaver anus.” It’s true. Or at least it used to be. Google it. “Natural” is often just corporate-speak used for greenwashing. But in the world of wine, “natural” may actually be a word you want to seek out. Wine snobs often eschew the...

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The Valley Advocate’s Apocalypse Survival Guide
Dec18

The Valley Advocate’s Apocalypse Survival Guide

Let’s face it: We live in uncertain times. Seas are rising. The climate is changing. Nuclear-armed countries are escalating their rhetoric, with our own president making threats of nuclear strikes. Increased dependence on automation is making us ever more vulnerable to a robot uprising. Scientists tinkering with “superbugs” and years of antibacterial soap use could lead to a disease outbreak. And on top of all that is the ever-present...

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V-Spot: How Do I Tell Dates I’m Heartless?
Dec18

V-Spot: How Do I Tell Dates I’m Heartless?

Dear Yana, I have a cold, dead heart. Well, not really but pretty much, yeah. I was married to my ex-wife for nearly a decade and the end of our relationship was really complicated. I feel almost certain that I don’t have the capacity to be in love or be in a relationship ever again. That being said, I still want to get laid, of course. But my issue is this: I feel as though I’m being pretty up front with my dates about my emotional...

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The Beerhunter: Schwarzbier, that German-style black lager, returns!
Dec11

The Beerhunter: Schwarzbier, that German-style black lager, returns!

Now that the colder months have blown in, bar managers across the Valley are pulling IPAs, pale ales, and pilsners from their tap handles to make room for some thicker, darker brews like stouts, porters, and barrel-aged specials. Seasonal variety is all well and good, but I’m not always in the mood for a beer that eats like a meal. Most winter beer styles are as filling and thick as those hazy, juicy New England IPAs we can’t stop...

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The Beerhunter: Westfield Welcomes Tin Bridge Brewing Company
Nov08

The Beerhunter: Westfield Welcomes Tin Bridge Brewing Company

Family-run business is the city’s first visitable craft brewery As the Valley’s local craft beer bubble continues to grow, Westfield looks primed for business. Downtown on Elm Street, Skyline Trading Company — a craft beer bar and homebrew shop — has proven a welcome recent addition to Westfield’s nightlife. And residents here often hop in the car (or on a bike) to visit the large barn that houses Westfield River Brewing Company in...

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O Cannabis: Hey Pilgrim, How Was Your First Weed Harvest? 
Oct23

O Cannabis: Hey Pilgrim, How Was Your First Weed Harvest? 

The harvest is in and I can’t believe the results. My husband and I didn’t weigh our cannabis haul from our home garden, but we were able to fill a bunch of regular-size salsa jars with marijuana. This is more than good enough for me! Like many weed enthusiasts in the state, we enjoyed our first home-grown harvest in October. Strike up the weed exchanges! It’s kind of like a cookie exchange — and there may be cookies — but way danker....

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Western Mass Missed Connections: What Was I Driving?
Sep11

Western Mass Missed Connections: What Was I Driving?

The Missed Connections forum on Craigslist is a wasteland of terrible poetry, dick pics, and whining, but among the detritus are some truly fascinating, funny, and occasionally sweet entries. The following are highlights from the Western Mass Missed Connections forum, sans detritus. shelburne falls walking — m4w (shelburne falls) was driving a car and almost crashed into the crosswalk sign looking at you, you stopped and laughed...

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New Column: Monte Belmonte Wines
Sep05

New Column: Monte Belmonte Wines

You are reading a wine column that was written by a non-expert: a rank novice who has never worked in the wine industry, or the restaurant industry; who has never been to France (outside of Charles de Gaulle) or to California (outside of L.A.); and who, frankly, has never written a column of any kind, for any newspaper, at any time before now. That being said, I am Monte Belmonte — a radio host on 93.9 The River with an extremely tiny...

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Missed Connections: Hot Dog! We Have a Wiener!
Sep05

Missed Connections: Hot Dog! We Have a Wiener!

The Missed Connections forum on Craigslist is a wasteland of terrible poetry, dick pics, and whining, but among the detritus are some truly fascinating, funny, and occasionally sweet entries. The following are highlights from the Western Mass Missed Connections forum, sans detritus. Hot Dogs — m4m (Lenoxdale)  We had hotdogs at the same time today (Saturday). I’ve seen you around town. You’re very handsome. Long-shot I...

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Missed Connections: ‘Your left leg is unique’
Aug21

Missed Connections: ‘Your left leg is unique’

The Missed Connections forum on Craigslist is a wasteland of terrible poetry, dick pics, and whining, but among the detritus are some truly fascinating, funny, and occasionally sweet entries. The following are highlights from the Western Mass Missed Connections forum, sans detritus. Westfield Walmart – m4w (Westfield)  I was behind you in line today talking with your beautiful baby with the blue eyes. You young thing ginger I...

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Late-Night Eats In Western Mass: Our Guide To Post-Midnight Grub
Aug14

Late-Night Eats In Western Mass: Our Guide To Post-Midnight Grub

Whether you’re pulling an all-nighter cramming for a test, pub crawling with friends, working the graveyard shift, or just woke up in the middle of the night with the sudden urge for a slice of pizza, there are restaurants, diners, joints, and donut shops in the Pioneer Valley that will answer your call for nourishment beyond midnight. And we don’t mean fast food drive-thru. If you’re hungry after 1 a.m. the Valley has a handful of...

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The Beerhunter: Roadtrip to The Hudson Valley
Aug04

The Beerhunter: Roadtrip to The Hudson Valley

The thing to remember about summer in the Valley — aside from which SPF to use and which local farm stands sell the best corn — is that it will be over before you know it. Sure, the swimming holes don’t really warm up until September, and the cows at Cook Farm gamely enable our ice cream habit into the chillier months. But that special windows-down, afternoon road trip is a fleeting thing. With that in mind, I’m putting the August...

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Pour Man: This Fair Trade Wine Might Be The Cheapest Thing At Your Co-op
Aug09

Pour Man: This Fair Trade Wine Might Be The Cheapest Thing At Your Co-op

Riojana; Rosé, 2016; La Rioja, Argentina, $6.99 Not only is Riojana rosé a very good wine that sells for an incredibly low price, but it is also a wine that you can feel good about drinking. Riojana wines are produced by La Riojana, a certified Fairtrade cooperative of more than 500 families in the Rioja region of northwestern Argentina. All of the owners are equal partners, a group of small- and medium-scale farmers, who grow the...

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Western Mass Missed Connections — 1st dates SUCK
Jul24

Western Mass Missed Connections — 1st dates SUCK

The Missed Connections forum on Craigslist is a wasteland of terrible poetry, dick pics, and whining, but among the detritus are some truly fascinating, funny, and occasionally sweet entries. The following are highlights from the Western Mass Missed Connections forum, sans detritus. 1st dates SUCK — m4w (eastside grill) Yeah, I texted you too soon after it ended. I seemed desperate probably. Whatever. I just thought you were cool and...

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O, Cannabis: Getting Into The Weeds On Massachusetts’ Pot Bill
Jul24

O, Cannabis: Getting Into The Weeds On Massachusetts’ Pot Bill

We’re no Nevada, but last week Massachusetts took two rippin’ steps toward weed legalization and protection in the state. First the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a business cannot fire an employee for being a medical marijuana patient — a decision that is causing headaches in HR offices around the state who claim it will be difficult to maintain drug-free workplaces. Then the Legislature passed a compromise bill on...

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Where You Can U-Pick In Western Mass Farms
Jul24

Where You Can U-Pick In Western Mass Farms

Why should the farmers have all the fun harvesting the fresh fruits and vegetables from their own farms? U-pick farms abound in the Pioneer Valley. Strawberry season has mostly gone by, but blueberries are ripe for the pickin’, and it won’t be long before apple season hits us. Below is a list of farms where you can grab your own produce. These farms have pick-your-own that is open to the public, but some area farms allow members...

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Missed Connections: Loving You Leering At Me
Jun19

Missed Connections: Loving You Leering At Me

Compiled by Kristin Palpini The Missed Connections forum on Craigslist is a wasteland of terrible poetry, dick pics, and whining, but among the detritus are some truly fascinating, funny, and occasionally sweet entries. The following are highlights from the Western Mass Missed Connections forum, sans detritus. You look over the fence — m4w (Springfield) I don’t mind really. Caught you a few times. It’s okay. I kind of like...

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The Beerhunter: The Eight-Day Cheers
Jun05

The Beerhunter: The Eight-Day Cheers

Any out-of-towner who would guess Western Mass has a quiet craft beer scene is bound for a rude, brewed awakening. But even locals may be surprised at the scope of the second annual Western Mass Beer Week, which runs June 10-17. Last year’s series of events at breweries, bars and restaurants around the Valley attracted 35 businesses, which hosted (by my count) 52 events. This year, more than 50 businesses are participating in 70...

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Western Mass Missed Connections: Snow White and the dwarves
May30

Western Mass Missed Connections: Snow White and the dwarves

The Missed Connections forum on Craigslist is a wasteland of terrible poetry, dick pics, and whining, but among the detritus are some truly fascinating, funny, and occasionally sweet entries. The following are highlights from the Western Mass Missed Connections forum, sans detritus. Snow White and the dwarves — m4mw (Athol-ish Gardner?) The title has something permanent to do with one of you. We used to meet along route 2 a few years...

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Western Mass Missed Connections: To The Welcoming Hippies Who Generously Dosed Me…
May22

Western Mass Missed Connections: To The Welcoming Hippies Who Generously Dosed Me…

The Missed Connections forum on Craigslist is a wasteland of terrible poetry, dick pics, and whining, but among the detritus are some truly fascinating, funny, and occasionally sweet entries. The following are highlights from the Western Mass Missed Connections forum, sans detritus. Berkshire co-op deli bar — m42 (Great Barrington) Incredible lady. I think you noticed me seeing you as you were ordering at the deli/sandwich bar in the...

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Western Mass Missed Connections – A Cute House Painter

If you’ve never checked out Craigslist’s Missed  Connection forum, you really should. The following is a sample from the Western Mass forum. Post dates have been added. Federal St, You were painting your house — m4w (Greenfield) About 3:45, I drove down federal street, saw you painting your homes exterior. You looked pretty darn cute. 🙂 If you need a hand or wanted some help, let me know what you were standing on so I know it’s...

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Advocate taste-off: Finding the perfect cheesecake
Apr18

Advocate taste-off: Finding the perfect cheesecake

Cheesecake is one of the most decadent and delightful treats of all the sweets. A cheesecake should be fluffy and creamy, sugary and buttery, fresh and delicate. Because when it’s not, it’s a damn waste of calories slathered onto your hips. Being one of the best desserts also means cheesecake is one of the worst for you in terms of calories, fat, and sugar (it’s wonderful for you in terms of soul-boosting). So, it’s important when...

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The Beerhunter: Turnpike Two-Stop
Apr10

The Beerhunter: Turnpike Two-Stop

Two worthwhile breweries off exit 9 The naturalist John Muir once observed that “when one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” I’m no bearded environmental philosopher, but I do like to kick back with a pint sometimes and dwell on our interconnectedness. In the realm of craft beer, brewers and buyers often muse on the national and international history of the craft — but that must square,...

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MISSED CONNECTIONS: ‘you are sooooooo attractive’
Apr10

MISSED CONNECTIONS: ‘you are sooooooo attractive’

If you’ve never checked out Craigslist’s Missed Connection forum, you really should. The following is a samples from the Western Mass forum. Post dates have been added. RR Restaurant 3/26 — m4w (Spfld) You are soooo attractive! We exchanged glances multiple times. I don’t want to get into details because that might be embarrassing. I was with … Oops. Well, just though, if anything, you should know how hot you are. We can talk...

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The Pour Man: Transitional Weather Needs a Transitional Wine
Apr03

The Pour Man: Transitional Weather Needs a Transitional Wine

Les Hauts de Lagarde, Rouge Bordeaux, France; 2015. $12.99 This is a period of transition on many fronts.    There still may be snow on the ground and temperatures in the teens, but the warm spring sun is a clear signal that it’s time to start trimming down, putting away rich food, and switching from heavy, higher-alcohol red wines to something lighter and brighter. Oh, there are still days left to finish off those thick Cabs,...

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