Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Calistoga Uncorked Wine Tasting at Presidio July 20

Calistoga winemakers and owners from 30 wineries are bringing the Top of Napa Valley down to San Francisco for an opportunity to taste and purchase hard to find Calistoga AVA wines. Most of the wineries that they will be pouring do not have tasting rooms and are not open to the public so this is a chance to discover them at the picturesque Golden Gate Club in the Presidio (135 Fisher Loop, San Francisco, CA) on July 20 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. To complement their outstanding wines, food pairings with assorted artisan cheeses, charcuterie, seasonal fruit, nuts, olives, crackers and breads will be served.— you won’t want to miss this fun opportunity to learn about and taste these outstanding wines!
Participating wineries include:  2880, Amici Cellars, Baldacci Vineyards, Bennett Lane Winery, Bragg Vineyards, Canard Vineyard, Chateau de Vie, Chateau Montelena, Davis Estates, Fairwinds Estate Winery, Harris Estate Vineyards, Hindsight Vineyards, Huge Bear Wines, Jack Brooks Vineyard, Jericho Canyon Vineyard, Jones Family Vineyards, Kenefick Ranch Vineyards, Knighton Family Vineyards, Laura Michael Wines, Lava Vine/Von Strasser, Next Door Wines, Sebright Cellars, Storybook Mountain Vineyards, Summers Estate Winery, Tamber Bey Vineyards, The Grade Cellars, Tom Eddy Winery, Twomey Cellars, Voros Cellars, Weppler Vineyards
They will also be holding a Silent Auction at the event.

Tickets: $55 in advance ($75 at the door)

Friday, July 14, 2017

Taste our Terroir in Livermore Valley Wine Country July 20-23

The premier food and wine affair for Livermore Valley’s, Taste Our Terroir, is returning to Livermore Valley July 20-23 as the historic region celebrates and educates wine lovers about its unique wines.  Over the four days, Livermore Valley wineries will offer several different events, including the popular food and wine pairing competition, cooking demonstrations, wine tasting seminars and vineyard tours.  All event tickets are on sale now at

Taste Our Terroir 2016 will begin Thursday night, July 20, 6-9pm, with the region’s signature event, the annual “Quest for Pairing Excellence” at Casa Real in Pleasanton.  Wine and food judges participate in a blind tasting and present awards to the winning teams.  Be sure to cast your vote for the People's Choice White and Red pairing awards. 

VIP tickets ($125 until sold out) grant access to the event one hour early. General admission tickets are $95 at This event sells out every year—there will be no tickets available at the door.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, wineries across Livermore Valley will host cooking classes, blending sessions, vineyard tours and other unique experiences highlighting the region’s terroir. Visit the Livermore Valley Winegrowers website for tickets and details on all events.

For information:

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Niles Canyon Railway returns with the Livermore Valley Wine Tasting Specials

Niles Canyon Railway is offering another summer of great wine tasting aboard the popular Livermore Valley Wine Tasting Special.  They will have four runnings of the special during the summer and most will most likely sell out prior to the date of the train so get your tickets early at the Niles Canyon Railway ticket site.  Wine Educator Steve Ferree will demonstrate his passion for Livermore Valley wineries.  Each of the four trains had a collection of five different Livermore Valley wines, usually two whites, two reds and a dessert wine.  Each was paired with a cheese personally selected for that specific wine.

The passengers learn much about the history of the Niles Canyon Railway and the history of wine in Livermore Valley.    The Livermore Valley Wine Tasting Specials are a trip through History.  Each of the cars on the train was historic, refurbished by a loving group of volunteers who spend countless hours restoring them.  The route was part of the original Transcontinental Railroad.  Niles Canyon was the link from the main railroad to the San Francisco Bay since 1869.

History is also found in Livermore Valley.  It is one of California's oldest wine regions; the Livermore Valley played a pivotal role in shaping California's wine industry. Spanish missionaries planted the first wine grapes in the Livermore Valley in the 1760s. In the 1840s, California pioneers looking for outstanding vineyard sites began planting grapes in the region. Robert Livermore planted the first commercial vines in the 1840s. Pioneer winemakers C. H. Wente, James Concannon, and Charles Wetmore recognized the area's winegrowing potential and founded their wineries in the early 1880s.
Livermore Valley captured America's first international gold medal for wine in 1889 at the Paris Exposition, putting California on the world wine map, long before the famous Paris Tasting in 1976 where Napa finally caught up and won an international award. 

For more information:

Two Lifestyle wines from Mendocino Wine Company

Mendocino Wine Company is a family owned and operated group of wineries that continue the tradition of making award-winning wines using sustainable wine growing and land use practices.  In recognition of their leadership, the State of California in 2007, 2009 and 2014 awarded the Parducci Wine Cellars with the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), California’s highest environmental honor.

At the Mendocino Wine Company, there is an understanding that wine is loved by many types of consumers with some focused on heritage (such as the Parducci brand), some on organic (such as the Paul Dolan Vineyards) and some just love well-made delicious wines.  The Lifestyle wines from Mendocino Wine Company are crafted for people who simply love well-made delicious wines. 

Two great wines from Mendocino Wine Company in the Lifestyle group are the Zin-Phomaniac Lodi Zinfandel and the Tie-Dye North Coast Red Blend.

The 2015 Zin-Phomaniac is produced using some of the finest 35-80 year-old vines from Lodi.  These vineyards benefit from both the Bay Area cool fog as well as the long and warm growing season of the Central Valley.  The grapes are hand-picked at optimal ripeness and then crushed and fermented with native yeast while undergoing pump overs three times a day.  This wine is a harmonious expression of fruit with flavors and aromas of raspberry, plum, dark cherry and blueberry.  You will enjoy the fine nots of molasses, cedar and vanilla and the long lingering finish.  The price is $14.99.

The 2014 Tie-Dye North Coast Red Wine Blend celebrates the Summer of Love.  It is a blend of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Grenache.  The 62% Syrah is the backbone of this wine while the Petite Sirah adds in the deep dark red and black fruit.  The Bordeaux varietals provide the smooth mouthfeel and finish.  You will love that intense ruby color and aromas of black currant, dark cherry, boysenberry, raspberry and blueberry.  The price is $14.99

Friday, October 21, 2016

Livermore Valley West Side Wineries

Livermore Valley Wine Country, the closest wine country to San Francisco offers wine lovers a chance to sample fine wines without the crowds of areas such as Napa and Sonoma.  This region has been growing greatly over the last decade with new wineries added every year.  

Livermore Valley has been a winegrape growing region since the 1880s and is now home to some of the oldest wineries in the country including Wente Vineyards and Concannon.  Innovations in Livermore Valley have been important to wine regions throughout the country.  Here was the first varietally-labeled bottling of Chardonnay and Petite Sirah.  Much of the Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon grapevines throughout California are descendants of vines first planted in Livermore Valley.

With over 60 wineries in the valley visitors will need to be selective on those wineries to visit on your next trip to Livermore Valley.  On the west side of this wine region you will a collection of wineries that offer a wide selection of wines for your enjoyment.

Fenestra Winery
Fenestra Winery – This is one of the oldest wineries in Livermore Valley, first opening 40 years ago.  When it first opened in 1976, by then San Jose State chemistry professor Lanny Replogle, there was only 5 wineries in Livermore Valley. In 1980 Fenestra moved to the century-old George True Winery building on Vallecitos Road. That old building adds to the charm of Fenestra with the feel of a rustic barn – yet on the roof is a brand new solar power system providing 80% of the winery’s power needs!  Fenestra always has a wide variety of wines to taste.

Dante Robere Vineyards
Dante Robere Vineyards – Dante Robere was founded by Dan (Dante) Rosenberg and Bob (Robere) Bossi.  They have been friends for more than 30 years and enjoyed drinking fine wines.  Dan moved to Livermore and got the "wine bug" things began to move fast. In 2007, they planted a small zinfandel vineyard in Dan's backyard. They began making wine at home and volunteering time assisting various Livermore Valley winemakers in an effort to learn the winemaking process.  Their tasting room/winery is one of the newest in the valley and the large tasting bar welcomes wine lovers.

Las Positas Vineyards
Las Positas Vineyards – Las Positas Vineyards began when Lothar and Lisa Maier purchased a 20 acre vineyard on Kalthoff Common in the southern end of Livermore Valley in 2006.  A couple years ago they moved into their new facility on Wetmore Road, a 30 acre dream vineyard at the corner of Wetmore and Arroyo.  This same land was the same land that Charles Wetmore grew wine that won the 1889 Grand Prize at the Paris Exposition, the first California winery to win such an award, almost 100 years before the Judgment of Paris featured in the movie “Bottleshock”.

Wente Vineyards Vineyard Tasting Room
Wente Vineyard Tasting Room – Wente is the oldest and largest winery in Livermore Valley with the fifth generation of the Wente family in charge.  While the main tasting room is on Tesla Road at the winery, they do have a tasting room at the Restaurant/Golf Course for your pleasure.

Cuda Ridge Wines
Cuda Ridge Wines – This small boutique winery has been producing some great Bordeaux style wines for several years from wines from the premier vineyards of Livermore Valley.  The wines are handcrafted, produced in small lots and primarily aged in French Oak barrels.  You will usually find the owners Larry and Margie Dino working the tasting room on the weekends and they will be glad to share some of their wines.
Rodrigue Molyneaux Winery

Rodrigue Molyneaux - This winery and vineyard is owned by Garry and Nancy Rodrigue where they hand-craft fine wines in a California country-style ranch in Livermore Valley. The estate is a perfect place to stop by to sample some wines and even enjoy a picnic on the grounds while experiencing California wine country.  

For more information:  Livermore Valley Wine Country

Lanny Repogle of Fenestra Winery

Larry Dino of Cuda Ridge

Rodrigue Molyneaux Winery
Livermore Valley Wine Trolley

Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut for Champagne Day

Today, October 21, marks the seventh annual Champagne Day, where wine lovers around the globe raise a glass to the quintessential wine of celebration, good cheer and toasts everywhere: Champagne. Champagne Day offers wine lovers an opportunity to enjoy the sparkling wine that only comes from Champagne, France both online and at in-person events throughout the country.

"As Champagne is a wine that evokes enduring memories when enjoyed among family and friends, it is often the drink of choice to mark joyous occasions," said Jennifer Hall, Director of the Champagne Bureau, USA. "Champagne Day is the ideal occasion for all who love this one-of-a-kind wine to pop open a bottle and celebrate life while remembering that Champagne only comes from Champagne, France."

Veuve Clicquot is a Champagne house that was first founded in 1772 by Philippe Clicquot a member of a family of bankers and textile merchants.  Madame Clicquot took over the business when her husband, Philippe’s son died.  She became one of the first businesswomen of modern times.   She created the first vintage Champagne in 1810.  Some of the innovations of Madame Clicquot included the invention of the first riddling table in 1816 and creation of the first “Rose d’assemblage” in 1818.  In 1986 Louis Vuitton acquired Veuve Clicquot and the following year Moet-Hennessy – Louis Vuitton (LVMH) was founded.

The Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut has been the symbol of the Veuve Clicquot house since 1772; it is a perfect balance between power and finesse with a complexity from the major use of Pinot Noir grapes.  Champagne lovers will enjoy the fruity flavors of Peach and Pear along with vanilla and a smooth toastiness.  This wine is great with seafood and duck dishes.

For more information: 

There are safe wines and there are Wines of Danger

At the Wines of Danger tasting held at Mission Rock Resort recently, I met 18 hardworking individuals who have set their goals in achieving their dream as a winemaker. Over the years, this reporter has run into many winemakers who have the passion but lack the marketing sense that achieving this goal requires people to actually purchase your wine.  And here in California, particularly Northern California, the competition is huge.  There are almost 4300 wineries in California according to the Wine Institute.  How do you make your wines stand out from the other wineries?  The winemakers of the Wines of Danger are impressive in that they do realize what is necessary to meet that challenge.  Whether it is the varieties they choose, the appellations, winery name, wine brand name, promotion, or the right representative, each of these winemakers are taking the steps towards making their wines stand out!

The winemakers in the “Wines of Danger” realize that hazards they are facing but are willing to face the danger to achieve their passion.  In many cases the winemakers already are winemakers for other larger wineries, or they have a “real” job where they make money so they can then spend their weekends and evenings crafting their wines, or they have an understanding working spouse to help put food on the table while they pursue their passion.  But in several cases they are succeeding and the winery is their sole source of income as the try to grow their business while meeting their financial requirements.

Each of the wineries at Wines of Danger showed the quality that can be produced by small winemakers with a passion for their craft.  

Mikami Vineyards – The Mikami family emigrated from Japan to California in 1896, and have been growing premium wine grapes in Lodi ever since.  This grape growing tradition was only interrupted once by the family internment during WWII.  Now as they go into the second century as grape growers, current owner Jason Mikami, a high tech veteran, is putting in the hard work, passion and perseverance necessary for success.  He has been recognized by Wine Enthusiast as a “trail blazer” in artisan winemaking.  His wines have earned multiple 90+ point scores from Wine Enthusiast as well as awards from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.  The 2013 Mikami Vineyards Zinfandel exhibits aromas and flavors of ripe red fruit with a complexity of spices and a toasty note.  I won Double Gold at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.  The price is $39 per bottle.

2880 Wines
2880 Wines – This is a family owned and operated adventure with mom, dad, son and two daughters producing about 600 cases of Napa Valley wine with the help of winemaker Peter Heitz.  The name is from their address of 2880 Foothill Boulevard in Calistoga.  This family has a passion for the wine and the Napa Valley, focusing on Rhone varietals.  The 2013 Twenty-Eight Eighty Red Wine is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Petite Sirah grown in their “Backyard” estate vineyard.  There is a beautiful complexity to this wine with a mixture of aromas and flavors of both fresh red berries and dark fruits, combined with spices, tea and even a bit of citrus rind.  

Cuvee Wine Cellars
Cuvee Wine Cellars – Paul Rogerville was a business man and owner of a successful construction company who developed a passion for wine experimenting as a home wine maker.  This passion took him away from the construction business to become a full-time vintner opening Cuvee Wine Cellars with his friend Patrick Smith who is his winemaker along with Thomas Pitchon.  At the Wines of Danger tasting he showed us several of his wines including a Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Cab.  One that really stood out was the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc from Oak Knoll Vineyard in Napa.    

Stephanie Trotter Zacharia
of Trotter 1/16 Winery
Trotter 1/16 Winery – Owner/Winemaker Stephanie Trotter Zacharia has been living and working in Napa Valley for over 22 years working vineyards and tasting rooms until in 2011 with the help and encouragement of friends, she started making her own wine.  She is one of 16 children of the Trotter family and the only winemaker, thus the name of the winery.    Her 2013 Trotter 1/16 Winery Cabernet Sauvignon is an exceptional wine and exhibits all the qualities you expect for a Napa Valley Cab.  You will enjoy the aromas and flavors of black fruit including black cherry and blackberry, with a nice mixture of spices and a layer of orange zest.

Other members of Wines of Danger include Blair Estate, Calstar Cellars, De Tierra, Halcon, Idle Hour Winery, Odonata, Onesta Wines, Peoples’ Wine Revolution, Poundstone Wines, Scratch, Tedeschi Family Wines, Three Clicks Wines, Vinemark and Waxwing.
Idle Hour Winery
Odonata Wines
Blair Wines
Three Clicks Wines
Peoples Wine Revolution (PWR)

For more information:  Wines of Danger
Vinemark Wines
Tedeschi Wines

Winemaker Sabrine Rodems
Scratch Wines
Onesta Wines
De Tierra Winery