Monday, February 29, 2016

Wineries on the east side of Lodi

Lodi celebrated their Wine and Chocolate Weekend this month.  Over 50 wineries around the region opened their doors to wine lovers to sample their fine wines, taste some chocolate, check our craft vendors and enjoy the great weather they had in Lodi!

This reporter visited with several wineries located along the east side of Lodi, most of them along Highway 88 between Lockeford and Waterloo.  These wineries range from some of the oldest to some of the newest wineries in Lodi. 

Bokisch Vineyards opened up their new tasting room at 18921 Atkins Road to visitors on Wine and Chocolate Weekend.  This new tasting room is at their Terra Alta vineyards where they grow a wide variety of grapes, mostly Spanish varietals.  You can get a peek into their 5000 case wine production facility and wander around the magnificent views of this 80 acre property.  During the Wine and Chocolate Weekend they served visitors with their delicious homemade chocolate tamales while tasting their 2014 Albarino, 2013 Tempranillo, 2014 Rosado and 2012 Graciano. 

Goodmills Family Winery is a new winery on 17266 Hillside Drive and the Wine and Chocolate Weekend was one of their first events.  After years in the big city the Brad and Lauri Mills decided to slow down and enjoy a bit of paradise in Lodi, devoting their passion to make superb, quality crafted wines from their own vineyards operating on the philosophy of good friends, good times for Goodmills Wines.  The tasting room is part of the winery facility where you can sample wines inside or on the open patio.  We had the opportunity to sample the 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, 2014 Viognier, 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2012 Teroldego. 

Lone Grape Winery is the newest winery but in a historic Tuscan Wine Village mall location that dates back to the 1940s at 12470 Locke Road in Lockeford.  They produce a variety of wines from various Lodi locations.  We enjoyed a 2012 Chardonnay, 2014 Syrah Rose, 2012 Barbera and a 2012 Cabernet Franc.

Omega Cellars is located at 13731 N. State Route 88 and is a family owned and operated winery centered around its founder Frank Natsis.  Growing up in Greece Frank faced hard work on the family farm.  After the family immigrated to Canada he became a successful chef and restaurant owner for over 40 years before making the decision to move to Lodi and open his own winery with his two sons.  Omega is famous for their intense wines with nice color, concentration and depth. During the Lodi Wine and Chocolate Weekend Omega provided visitors with an excellent collection of food and cheeses to pair with their wide variety of wines including many dessert wines.  We had the chance to sample six wines paired with Greek-themed appetizers plus a dessert wine paired with a delicious chocolate-covered baklava.

Sorelle Winery is located on the historic Dodge Estate at 9599 North Highway 88 south of Lodi.  The Dodge House was built in 1866 by Jonathan Holt Dodge and he planted a 50 acre vineyard on the property.  They have a wide various grape varieties from their own vineyard and other locations to produce their fine wines.  The sisters Kim and Melissa Scott focus on Italian varietals.  Their mother is of Italian descent and the name Sorelle means sisters in Italian. On Wine and Chocolate Weekend we sampled the 2013 vintages of the Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Muscat Canalli, Sangiovese, Primitivo and Barbera.

Lodi is a wonderful jewel in California’s wine regions. Many of the wineries are extensions of the wine growers that have been growing grapes in this region for many decades. As you travel through this area you are taken back to rural agricultural California. Here you will find Zinfandel grapes growing on vines that are over 100 years old and younger vines of Cabernet, Chardonnay, and a wide range of Spanish, Portuguese and Italian varietals. The location is ideal for wine grapes with plenty of sun and the cooling influences of the delta.

In 2015 Wine Enthusiast Magazine selected Lodi as the Wine Region of the Year.  Wine Enthusiast’s stated purpose for the “Wine Region of the Year” award “is to recognize not only excellence in wine quality, but also innovation and excitement coupled with the courage to take risks and the skill to succeed.” With the “Wine Region of the Year” award, Lodi is recognized in good international company in the category with previous recipients including New York State, Paso Robles, Ribera del Duero, Colchagua Valley, Mendoza, Alexander Valley, Rioja, and the Rhône Valley.

For more information:



Zinfandel Experience 2016

The Zinfandel Experience explodes on San Francisco this weekend.  The series of events started on Thursday, February 25 with the 25 Year Tribute Party and Heritage Supper Club at the Bently Reserve where Zinfandel lovers and winemakers gathered together for a celebration of the past 25 years of ZAP.  The party featured some of ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) founding winemakers and over 60 wineries celebrate this unique California heritage wine with musical entertainment, culinary creations and special toasts to Zinfandel legacy.

Friday saw the return of Flights!, an educational experience focusing on California’s own “Great Growths”, studying a way to recognize select vineyards that should be distinguished as “Great Growth” from California.  ZAP is partnering with the HVS (Historic Vineyard Society) on Flights!
Friday events come to an end with an evening of the Silver Spectacular, a Winemakers Dinner and Auction.  Twenty eight winemakers open up their magnums and reserve offerings for the reception.  Each table will be hosted by a winemaker and features a customized farm-to-table menu crafted with meticulous care.  Live and silent auctions will feature rare bottles, winery experiences and one-of-a-kind lots with proceeds benefitting ZAP’s programming, education and Heritage Projects.

And the feature event of the week is the Grand Tasting on Saturday, February 27 at Pier 27 (James R. Herman Cruise Terminal) on the Embarcadero.  Here wine lovers and winemakers come together to sample Zinfandels from over 130 wineries.  From 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. the winemakers will be pulling those limited-release Reserve Zinfandels from under the table to the delight of the wine lovers.  At 1:00 p.m. these select wines return to their vaults and current releases are pulled out to share with the wine lovers.  The tickets for the Past, Present and Future reserve tasting (11:00 to 1:00 p.m.) are $170 for non-members of ZAP.  The public tasting of the Current Releases from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. has tickets for $80 for the public.

“We are so excited to present a truly incredible line up of talented winemakers offering firsthand stories about their experiences creating some of the world’s finest Zinfandels,” said ZAP Executive Director, Rebecca Robinson. “This annual event offers the perfect opportunity for wine aficionados and novices alike to learn more about not only the history and culture of America’s grape, but also perhaps understand a bit more about their own palates and preferences. In our 25th year, we celebrate the pioneering spirit of Zinfandel that is captured in our community of winegrowers, winemakers and enthusiasts.”

For more information:




Livermore Valley Barrel Tasting Weekend returns March 19 and 20

Spring is always an exciting time, particularly in the vineyards as the vines start to grow and the winemakers are welcoming visitors to sample the latest vintages.  The winemakers of Livermore are opening their doors for the annual Livermore Valley Barrel Tasting Weekend on March 19-20 (Noon to 4:30 p.m. each day). Each winery will host a unique experience during barrel tasting weekend including at least one barrel sample for each ticket holder plus other events including food and wine pairing, music and more. This is your chance to pre-purchase wines before they have even bottled (aka "futures")!

Tickets are $40 in advance or $45 the day of the event. Tickets are available online at the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association Website.

Over 35 Livermore Valley winemakers are offering the visitor a chance to taste some released and soon to be released wine.

Ticket Price: $40 advance / $45 day of event

Ticket Includes: a take home glass with the Livermore Valley Wine Country Logo, 2 days of barrel tasting at each participating winery on Saturday & Sunday, special activities and wine discounts, and a Barrel Tasting Weekend map which includes all wineries that are participating in the Barrel Tasting weekend.

This is a fundraiser for the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association and appreciate your support is appreciated. The Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association encourages you to have a designated driver.

For more information about Livermore Valley wineries: Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association


Lodi results from San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

The Lodi wine region is unique in California.  This is a wine region where the winemakers truly have their heart and soul in the ground. Most of them have a background primarily as grape growers who added winemaking to their bank of skills.  It is known that the finest wines have their start on the vine.  Lodi delivers quality grapes, particular reds such as Zinfandel plus Spanish and Italian varietals.  Not only do the winemakers of Lodi craft these grapes into excellent wines, but also winemakers from outside of Lodi swarm into the area to select Lodi grapes for their wines as well.  

As a result you will see that Lodi did extremely well at the recent San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.  Over 100 wineries picked up 254 awards, but while 39 Lodi based wineries captured awards, 65 wineries based outside of Lodi also came away with awards for wines based on grapes from Lodi. This region brought home 6 Best of Class, 6 Double Gold, 44 Gold, 111 Silver and 87 Bronze medals.

The major awards went to:
Best of Class
  • Jessie’s Grove Winery for the Estate Royal Tee Label
  • Ivory & Burt 2013 Chardonnay from Lange Twins
  • M2 2013 Duality Rhone Blend
  • Michael David Petite Petit 2013 Petite Sirah
  • Soquel Vineyards 2013 Grenache
  • Fenestra 2012 Graciano

Double Gold
  • Estate Crush 2013 Cinsault
  • Michael David 2013 Inkblot Cabernet Franc
  • Michael David 2013 Lust Zinfandel
  • Mikami Vineyards 2013 Zinfandel
  • Oak Farm Vineyards Tievoli red blend
  • Solitary Cellars 2013 Barbera

Lodi based wineries that also brought home awards are:

To learn more about the specific award winning wines from these wineries, click on the winery name to go to their website.

The 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition is the largest competition of American wines and this year included a record breaking 7,162 entries from around the nation and judged by 65 prominent wine judges from around the world. The competition is always fierce and as the number of entries grow, it becomes tougher.

For more information:

Livermore Valley brings home gold from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

Livermore Valley wineries again had an outstanding result from the recent 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, picking up 164 awards for the 37 wineries that submitted wines for the competition.  This including Best of Class for the 3 Steves 2012 Thatcher Bay Merlot, Crooked Vine 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon and Wente 2013 Morning Fog Chardonnay. Livermore Valley winemakers also brought home 8 Double Gold, 27 Gold, 76 Silver and 64 Bronze awards. Congratulations to those award-winning winemakers in this diverse wine region in the heart of the Bay Area.

The 2015 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition is the largest competition of American wines and this year included a record breaking 6,417 entries from 28 states and judged by almost 80 prominent wine judges. The competition is always fierce and as the number of entries grow, it becomes tougher.

In addition to the Best of Class award for 3 Steves, Crooked Vine and Wente, eight wineries captured Double Gold awards including Auburn James, Bent Creek, Crooked Vine, En Garde, Fenestra, Las Positas, Occasio and Vasco Urbano. Following are highlights on awards picked up by individual Livermore Valley Wineries.

·         3 Steves Winery– in addition to the Best of Class for the Merlot they won Silver medals for the 2012 Cienega Valley Cabernet Franc and 2012 Small Lot #2 Cabernet Sauvignon
·         Auburn James Winery– captured Double Gold for their 2010 Artist Series Napa Valley Meritage and Gold for their 2010 North Coast Speedster Bordeaux blend, plus two other Bronze medals
·         Bent Creek Winery– in addition to the Best of Class award for their 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Bent Creek picked up two additional Silver Medals and a Bronze for a total of four award winning wines.
·         Big House Wines – picked up a Gold medal for the 2012 Zinfandel plus a Silver and Bronze medal
·         BoaVentura De Caires Vineyard – received a Silver for their 2007 Port and Bronze for the 2011 Bordeaux blend
·         Caddis Winery – as one of the newest Livermore Valley wineries, Caddis captured a Silver medal for the 2011 Cab and Bronze for the 2012 Barbera
·         Cedar Mountain Winery – they are famous for their ports and their 2002 Late Bottled Vintage port and the Toy Vineyard Reserve Viognier Port both got Silver medals, plus a Bronze for their Blanches Vineyard Cab.
·         Charles R Vineyards– brought home Bronze medals for the 2009 WR Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010 J. Covarruvas Cab and 2010 Tracy Hills Touriga
·         Concannon Vineyards– captured a Gold for their delicious Captain Joe’s Reserve Petite Sirah plus three Silver and five Bronze medals
·         Crooked Vine Winery– in addition to the Best of Class for the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Crooked Vine also won a Double Gold medal for the 2012 Cabernet Franc, two Golds for the 2012 Moxie and 2012 Syrah and five Bronze medals
·         Cuda Ridge Wines– captured Gold for their 2012 S&M (Sangiovese and Merlot) blend and the 2012 Syrah, plus three Silver and a Bronze medals
·         Dante Robere Vineyards – another new winery for Livermore Valley and they took home five awards including two Silver and three Bronze
·         Darcie Kent Vineyards– two Gold medals were won for the 2013 Hoffman Chardonnay and the 2012 DeMayo Zinfandel. They also brought home a Silver and three Bronze awards
·         Eagle Ridge Vineyards– picked up a Gold medal for the 2010 Petite Sirah and Bronze for the 2013 Pinot Grigio
·         Eckert Estate Winery – this small winery got two Silver medals for the Reunion Rhone Blend and their Clements Hill Dolcetto plus two Bronze medals
·         Ehrenberg Cellars – another new Livermore Valley winery who brought home two Silver medals for their 2012 Wilderotter Zin and 2012 Michael David Syrah plus two Bronze medals
·         En Garde Winery– earned seven medal total including a Double Gold for the 2012 Russian River Pinot Noir and Gold for the 2012 Russian River Starkey Hill Pinot Noir. In addition the got two Silver and three Bronze medals
·         Entropy Cellars – this small winery took home a Silver award for their Livermore Valley Bordeaux Blend
·         Fenestra Winery– grabbed 13 medals including a Double Gold award for the 2010 Lodi Tempranillo and Gold for the 2009 Thatcher Bay Livermore Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The also carried home seven Silver awards and four Bronze awards
·         Garre Vineyard and Winery – took home two Bronze medals for the Profound Secret Bordeaux blend and the 2012 Tempranillo
·         Las Positas Vineyards – this local winery brought 13 medals to Livermore Valley with their Double Gold winning 2012 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon leading the way. Followed at the four Gold awards for the 2012 Estate Tempranillo, 2011 and 2012 Coccineous and 2012 Casimira desert wine. They also got four Silver and three Bronze awards.
·         Longevity Wines–received a Bronze medal for their very tasty 2013 Livermore “Pink” Pinot Grigio Rose wine
·         McGrail Vineyards & Winery– captured two Gold awards for the 2009 Picazo Vineyard Merlot and the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, plus a Silver medal
·         Mia Nipote Winery– brought home two Silvers for the 2009 and 2010 Lencioni Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, plus a Bronze for the 2011 vintage
·         Mitchell Katz Winery– a Gold medal was awarded for the 2011 Livermore Falling Star Cabernet Sauvignon along with two Silver and two Bronze awards
·         Murrieta’s Well– both the 2013 “The Whip” White Blend and the 2012 “The Spur” Red Blend won Silver medals
·         Nottingham Cellars– as usual Nottingham won many medals, this time nine awards including Gold for the 2012 Harris Tesla Cab and six Silver and two Bronze awards
·         Occasio Winery– this excellent winery captured Double Gold for the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon plus a Gold for the 2012 Thatcher Bay Merlot and Silver for the 2012 Ghielmetti Vineyards Syrah
·         Page Mill Winery – brought home all Silver medals for their 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, 2011 Petite Sirah, 2012 GPS, 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2012 Cote Vineyard Merlot
·         Retzlaff Winery– picked up a Gold for the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc and two Silver and a Bronze awards
·         Rios Reserve Estate Winery– was honored with a Silver for their Cabernet Franc port and three other Bronze awards
·         Rodrigue Molyneaux Winery– picked up two Bronze awards for the 2010 Cab and 2011 Le Bocage blend
·         Stoney Ridge Winery – got five Silver awards for the 2012 Zinfandel, 2012 Syrah, 2012 Petite Sirah, 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2012 Trifecta blend, all from Livermore Valley
·         Steven Kent Winery– proudly took home two Gold awards for the 2011 Cabernet Franc and 2011 Petit Verdot plus a Silver and Bronze awards
·         Thomas Coyne Winery– brought home a Silver for the 2012 Confluence Bordeaux Blend plus four other Bronze awards
·         Vasco Urbano Wine Company – this new label started off with a Double Gold medal award for the 2012 “Heine” Petit Sirah followed by three other Silver awards
·         Wente Vineyards– along with the Best of Class 2013 Morning Fog Chardonnay, Wente also got Gold awards for the 2013 Louis Mel Sauvignon Blanc and 2013 Riverbank Riesling (both from Livermore). In addition they got three Silver and two Bronze awards
·         Wood Family Vineyards – added four Silver awards to their collection with prizes for their 2013 Para Mas Amigas Chardonnay, 2012 Muy Bueno Zinfandel, 2012 Big Wood Zinfandel and 2012 Thompson Ranch Cab
For more information:


Lodi results from San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

The Lodi wine region is unique in California.  This is a wine region where the winemakers truly have their heart and soul in the ground. Most of them have a background primarily as grape growers who added winemaking to their bank of skills.  It is known that the finest wines have their start on the vine.  Lodi delivers quality grapes, particular reds such as Zinfandel plus Spanish and Italian varietals.  Not only do the winemakers of Lodi craft these grapes into excellent wines, but also winemakers from outside of Lodi swarm into the area to select Lodi grapes for their wines as well.  

As a result you will see that Lodi did extremely well at the recent San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.  Over 100 wineries picked up 254 awards, but while 39 Lodi based wineries captured awards, 65 wineries based outside of Lodi also came away with awards for wines based on grapes from Lodi. This region brought home 6 Best of Class, 6 Double Gold, 44 Gold, 111 Silver and 87 Bronze medals.

The major awards went to:

Best of Class
  • Jessie’s Grove Winery for the Estate Royal Tee Label
  • Ivory & Burt 2013 Chardonnay from Lange Twins
  • M2 2013 Duality Rhone Blend
  • Michael David Petite Petit 2013 Petite Sirah
  • Soquel Vineyards 2013 Grenache
  • Fenestra 2012 Graciano

Double Gold
  • Estate Crush 2013 Cinsault
  • Michael David 2013 Inkblot Cabernet Franc
  • Michael David 2013 Lust Zinfandel
  • Mikami Vineyards 2013 Zinfandel
  • Oak Farm Vineyards Tievoli red blend
  • Solitary Cellars 2013 Barbera

Lodi based wineries that also brought home awards are:

To learn more about the specific award winning wines from these wineries, click on the winery name to go to their website.

The 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition is the largest competition of American wines and this year included a record breaking 7,162 entries from around the nation and judged by 65 prominent wine judges from around the world. The competition is always fierce and as the number of entries grow, it becomes tougher.

For more information:



Santa Cruz Mountain Wineries are high on results from San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

The Santa Cruz Mountains appellation is unique in that it was among the first to be defined by mountain topography, following the fog line along the coast to encompass the highest vineyards on the ridge tops as high as 2600 feet elevation. The region encompasses the Santa Cruz Mountain range and extends from Woodside in the north to Watsonville in the south; from Monterey Bay along the coast to Silicon Valley inland.  This combination of elevation and climate results in premium quality grapes while the geography and history result in a collection of many small owner operated wineries and small vineyards tucked among the ridges and valleys. 

At the recent 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition winemakers from 26 wineries either located in the Santa Cruz Mountains or using grapes from the region brought home 99 awards. Among these awards were the Red Sweepstakes winner, a Best in Class and four Double Golds:
Red Sweepstakes
  • Sonnet Wine Cellars 2013 Tondre’s Grapefield Pinot Noir

Best of Class
  • Sonnet Wine Cellars 2013 Tondre’s Grapefield Pinot Noir

Double Gold
  • Bargetto Family Estate 2013 Pinot Noir
  • Beauregard Vineyards 2014Bald Mountain Chardonnay
  • Left Bend Winery Mashup V1, a multi-vintage Red Blend
  • Soquel Vineyards 2014 Nelson Vineyard Chardonnay

Be sure to check out the following wineries and their award winning wines.  Click on the winery name to view their website and explore their wines.

The 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition is the largest competition of American wines and this year included a record breaking 7,162 entries from around the nation and judged by 65 prominent wine judges from around the world. The competition is always fierce and as the number of entries grow, it becomes tougher.

For more information:

Santa Clara County wineries results at San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

Santa Clara Valley wineries and vineyards came home with several awards from the recent 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, picking up 89 awards for the 17 wineries that submitted wines for the competition.  Santa Clara Valley has a long history of winemaking but many of the wineries have come into existence in the last 20 years.  The wineries range from large wineries to small family operated and owned wineries.

The 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition is the largest competition of American wines and this year included a record breaking 7,162 entries from around the nation and judged by 65 prominent wine judges from around the world. The competition is always fierce and as the number of entries grow, it becomes tougher.

J. Lohr and Kirigin Cellars brought home Best of Class awards, but other wineries winning Double Gold.

Best of Class
  • J. Lohr Estates 2013 South Ridge Syrah
  • J. Lohr Gesture 2014 Grenache Rose
  • J. Lohr Gesture 2014 Viognier
  • Kirigin Cellars 2012 Tempranillo

Double Gold
  • Castillo’s Hillside Shire Winery 2013 Petit Verdot
  • J. Lohr Estates 2013 Los Osos Merlot
  • Satori Cellars 2013 Harmonic Convergence Petite Sirah

In addition, Santa Clara Valley winemakers brought home a total of 18 Gold, 36 Silver and 28 Bronze awards. Congratulations to those award-winning winemakers in this diverse wine region in the South Bay Area.
  • Castillo’s Hillside Shire Winery – 1 Double Gold, 1 Gold, 3 Silver, 1 Bronze
  • Creekview Vineyards – 1 Gold, 1 Silver, 2 Bronze
  • Fernwood Cellars – 2 Gold
  • Fortino Cellars – 2 Silver, 2 Bronze
  • Guglielmo Winery – 1 Bronze
  • J. Lohr Winery – 3 Best of Class, 1 Double Gold, 5 Gold, 6 Silver, 3 Bronze
  • Jason-Stephens Winery – 2 Silver, 2 Bronze
  • Kirigin Cellars – 1 Best of Class, 3 Gold, 3 Silver, 1 Bronze
  • Lion Ranch Vineyards & Winery – 3 Bronze
  • Mann Cellars – 1 Bronze
  • Martin Ranch Winery – 1 Gold, 10 Silver, 4 Bronze
  • Picchetti Winery - 1 Bronze
  • Russian Ridge Winery – 1 Silver
  • Satori Cellars – 1 Double Gold, 3 Gold, 1 Silver, 3 Bronze
  • Solis Winery – 2 Gold, 2 Silver, 2 Bronze
  • Sunlit Oaks Winery – 1 Bronze
  • West Cliff Wines – 1 Silver, 2 Bronze

The public is invited to the Public Tasting to be held at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco on Saturday, February 13th at 1:30 – 5 p.m.
For more information: