Celebrate Life with Kathie Lee Gifford

Kathie Lee Gifford is co-host of the fourth hour of NBC’s "Today" show, playwright, singer, songwriter, author and humanitarian. And now co-owner of a celebrity wine label, GIFFT.

The GIFFT label is a play on the Gifford name and also speaks to her attitude on life. It’s a gift. “Slow down, savor your blessings, enjoy your family and give thanks for the harvest of life,” she says.

She is very passionate about the whole process of wine-making: “It’s a part of all cultures, it's so primal, it's easy to make a connection with the land, the grapes and the process. I was born in post-World War II Paris — Daddy was part of General Eisenhower’s staff. When I was 6, my parents came back to America and they brought that love of food and wine culture with them. I was blessed to have such loving parents and wine was always part of the celebration.”

Gifford partnered with Scheid Family Wines, which has been making quality wines in the Monterey region since the 1970s. Their 4,200 acres benefit from evening coastal fogs that often linger until mid-morning the following day. This natural cooling effect increases the hang time for the grapes, giving them extra time to develop.

At an initial tasting session for the red blend, she asked for a “smooth, juicy and luscious” flavor — an easy drinker. The result is a soft blend of 42 percent Merlot, 25 percent Petit Sirah, 12 percent Syrah, 10 percent Petit Verdot and a small percentage of other varietals. Gifford is involved in all aspects of the process, from label design to flavor profiling to marketing. “Everything but stomp on the grapes,” she adds. She recently visited New Hampshire for several bottle signings.

Her personal go-to wine is white. The GIFFT Chardonnay has only a kiss of oak as she wants to duplicate the lively Chardonnays of the 1970s before “buttery and oaky” were sought-out descriptors. The 2012 GIFFT Chardonnay is rich and complex with a lively acidity and essential freshness. Half is aged in stainless steel, the other half in French oak to allow the true character of this estate-grown varietal to shine.

Both wines are very food-friendly, giving the name, GIFFT, a third meaning. They are perfect hostess gifts and work well with many food options, or just sipping and conversation.

Categories: Wine & Spirits