Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Livermore Valley 2019 Uncorked Competition Results

The Livermore Valley has long been a premier wine region since the mid-1800s. Vintners recognized the region’s climate and terroir as suitable for grape growing. In fact a Livermore Valley wine was the winner in of America’s first Gold Medal for Wine in the 1889 Paris Exposition. To honor this great winemaking and grape growing heritage, the Tri-Valley Conservancy has sponsored “Livermore Valley Uncorked”, an annual wine competition that is open only to wines made from grapes grown in the Livermore Valley.

Every year the Tri-Valley Conservancy hosts the Livermore Valley Uncorked Wine Competition.  This competition has gained popularity and earned the respect of wine industry professionals, specialty wine shop and restaurant owners, retail distributors and consumers. A select group of judges do the final judging of the wines selecting the Best of the Best.

The winners for 2019 are:

Best of Show, Best White and Best Other Dry White

  • Las Positas Vineyards, 2018 Verdelho

Best Rose

  • Garre Vineyard & Winery, 2018 Rosato di Sangiovese

Best Red & Best Red Blend

  • Stony Ridge, 2016 Trifecta

Best Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay

  • Fenestra Winery, 2017 Chardonnay

Best Other Red Varieties

  • Steven Kent Winery, 2017 Amphora

Best Merlot, Malbec or Petite Verdon

  • Cuda Ridge Wines, 2016 Petite Verdot

Best Zinfandel

  • Stony Ridge, 2015 Stone Patch

Best Cabernet Sauvignon ($40 or less)

  • Page Mill, 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

Best Cabernet Sauvignon (over $40)

  • Cuda Ridge Wines, 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

Best Petite Sirah

  • Stony Ridge, 2016 Petite Sirah

About the Tri-Valley Conservancy

In 1900 the valley was home to over 5,000 acres of vineyards and over 50 wineries. Prohibition hit the Livermore Valley wine industry drastically as the vineyards dwindled to only 1,500 acres and only six wineries. As the Bay Area was growing in the end of the 20th century and the California wine industry was expanding, many in Livermore were afraid that the valuable agricultural heritage would be lost by the expansive growth of housing. A group of people and politicians in the Tri-Valley area gathered together to develop the South Livermore Valley Area Plan to provide strong economic incentives and equitable development regulations to promote investment in viticulture and ensure that development limits be placed on agricultural lands.

Following adoption of the Plan in 1994 the South Livermore Valley Agricultural Trust (now the Tri-Valley Conservancy) to protect and steward the land within the plan. The Tri-Valley Conservancy has a mission to permanently protect the fertile soils, rangelands, open space and biological resources, and to support a viable agricultural economy in the Tri Valley area. This mission involves both acquisitions to working with willing landowners to preserve their land in the tri-valley area and through stewardship to consult with property owners about their easement.

Celebrating 15 Years of Wine, Food & Fun at Lodi Lake - ZinFest!

Celebrate the 15th annual ZinFest Wine Festival with a weekend full of fabulous Lodi wine, food, and entertainment. Events run May 17 through May 19, with the Grand Tasting taking place from noon to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 18, at Lodi Lake Park. Additional weekend activities include a blind tasting of old vine Zinfandel wines and Vintner’s Grille on Friday, May 17, as well as Cellar Tours on Sunday, May 19. More than 4,000 wine lovers are expected to attend this year’s weekend activities.

New this year is the ability to purchase an early entrance admission ticket to Saturday’s Grand Tasting. Guests can beat the crowds and enter one hour early at 12:00 noon where they will be granted the exclusive opportunity to taste reserve wines not made available to the general public. The early entrance admission tickets are limited to only 500 and are expected to sell out. 

Although Zinfandel can certainly be considered Lodi’s heritage grape, ZinFest offers so much more. At Saturday’s Grand Tasting, at least 200 wines from more than 40 Lodi wineries will be poured. From Iberian varietals like Albariño and Tempranillo to Rhône Valley stunners like Picpoul Blanc and Grenache, there are wines for every palate. 

Serious oenophiles and anyone wanting to learn more should not miss the ZinFest Wine School which will feature a new presentation at the top of the hour starting at 1:30 p.m. Class schedule is as follows:

1:30-2:15 p.m. | Blind Tasting 101 – What to look for when evaluating wine featuring Randy Caparoso (lodiwine.com)

A great introduction to the “art” of tasting wines — and identifying and delineating the sensory qualities of different varietal types — led by 40-year wine professional and award-winning journalist, Randy Caparoso.

2:30-3:15 p.m. | Six Grapes to Know featuring Catherine Fallis, MS (Grape Goddess and author, Ten Grapes to Know)

A presentation on the six varieties every wine lover should know. Wines include:

  • Pinot Gris – Anaya Family Vineyards 
  • Sauvignon Blanc – Oak Farm Vineyards Estate 
  • Viognier – Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards 
  • Sangiovese – Sorelle Winery 
  • Syrah – Fields Family Wines 
  • Cabernet Sauvignon – Michael David Winery 

3:30-4:15 p.m. | One Grape to Know featuring Catherine Fallis, MS (Grape Goddess and author, Ten Grapes to Know)

A presentation on old vine Zinfandel. Wines include:

  • Jessie’s Grove Winery Royal Tee Vineyard Zinfandel (planted 1889)
  • St. Amant Winery Marian’s Vineyard Zinfandel (planted 1901)
  • Tizona by Bokisch Vineyards Suess Vineyard Zinfandel (planted 1920s)
  • Michael Klouda Wines 1902 Block Zinfandel (planted 1902)
  • Harney Lane Winery Scottsdale Vineyard Zinfandel (planted 1900s)
  • Turley Wine Cellars Kirschenmann Vineyard Zinfandel (planted 1915)

All ZinFest attendees can increase their food and wine pairing knowledge during the ZinFest Barbecue Experience, headlined by Chef Chad Rosenthal of Food Network. Chef Rosenthal is the owner of acclaimed restaurants, such as The Lucky Well in Philadelphia, and winner of multiple barbeque competitions. Chef Rosenthal will offer tips and summer grilling favorites paired with some of Lodi’s best wines in three 45-minute demonstrations that are sure to make anyone the star of their next tailgate or backyard party.

In addition to the wine and barbecue schools, guests can enjoy gourmet food from local restaurants, live music, and unique merchandise from artisan purveyors, such as local olive oils and reclaimed wine barrel furniture.

ZinFest tickets can be purchased online at ZinFest.com or by calling the Lodi Wine & Visitor Center at 209.365.0621. Early entrance admission tickets cost $75 and are not available at the gate. General admission tickets cost $55 per person in advance and $65 the day of the event. Designated driver tickets (no wine tasting) are also available at $25 per person for early entrance and $20 in advance for general admission. Tickets include a ZinFest wine glass, wine tasting, and participation in all seminars and entertainment. All attendees must be 21 years of age or older, including designated drivers. 


The ZinFest Wine Festival is the pride of the Lodi Appellation’s winegrowers and vintners and is California’s premier wine festival. On an annual basis, the festival contributes more than $10,000 in support of local service groups and schools as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in economic impact to the local community. This would not be possible without the generous support of the festival’s sponsors. This year’s sponsors include, among others: 

  • Vintner’s Grille Presenting Sponsor: Vintage Crop Insurance Agency, Inc.
  • Ancient Vine: American AgCredit, Made in the Shade Tent Rentals, Vino Farms, LLC
  • ZinFest Music Lounge: Rescue Dog Wines
  • Heritage Vine: American Medical Response, Cottage Bakery, DSW Ag, Inc., Farmers & Merchants Bank, Irrigation Design & Construction, Inc., Lodi District Grape Growers Association, Watermark Labels

About Lodi Wine Country

Located 40 miles south of Sacramento and 90 miles east of San Francisco, the Lodi wine region benefits from a classic Mediterranean climate of warm days and cool evenings. A historic winegrowing region since the 1850s, Lodi cultivates more than 100 diverse winegrape varieties. From Iberian varietals like Tempranillo and Albariño to classic Rhône varietals such as Grenache and Cinsault, Lodi offers wines for even the most discerning palate.

The region also serves as home to 85 boutique wineries specializing in small-lot, handmade wines that have garnered major awards at domestic and international wine competitions. In 2015, Lodi was awarded the prestigious Wine Star Award for “Wine Region of the Year” from Wine Enthusiast Magazine. The recent increase in critic and consumer attention paid to Lodi-designate wines has fueled an astronomical growth in demand for Lodi wines, as well as tourism to the wine region. 

Lodi is a leader when it comes to sustainable viticulture. Created in 2005, LODI RULES™ is California’s first 3rd-party-certified sustainable winegrowing program and has received significant recognition over the years, having been awarded the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA) in 2006 and again in 2014. For more information about the Lodi wine region, visit lodiwine.com and lodigrowers.com.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Lodi Wine and Chocolate Weekend Coming February 9-10 - What Could be Better?

Valentine’s Day is a time of love and a time to share with your loved one.  And it is a time to fall in love with the wines of Lodi at the exciting 22nd Annual Wine and Chocolate Weekend in nearby Lodi Wine County February 9-10. Over 50 wineries will open their tasting rooms and are waiting to spoil your taste buds with handcrafted Lodi wines and decadent chocolates. Check the website for a list of participating wineries.

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 and Italian varietals. The location is ideal for wine grapes with plenty of sun and the cooling influences of the delta.

During the Wine and Chocolate Weekend, Lodi appellation wineries will please your palate, pairing hand-crafted wines with an assortment of decadent chocolate treats. Travel from winery to winery while you enjoy the winery’s hosted activities such as wine and chocolate pairings, live music, barrel tasting, cellar tours and more. Meet the local vintners and growers as they share the wine and hospitality that makes Lodi Wine Country California’s newest fine wine region! And be sure to taste some of the medal winning wines from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

Tickets, good for both days of the event, are $65 in advance. A commemorative wine glass, a chocolate treat from Brix Chocolate, event map/guide and admission to participating wineries is included. Hours for the event are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

For more info:

Niles Canyon Railway Romance on the Rails Valentine's Wine Tasting Excursion

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and a chance to treat your loved one to a romantic tour through gorgeous Niles Canyon while sampling some the best wine available from Livermore Valley Wine Country aboard the Niles Canyon Railway Romance on the Rails Wine Tasting Trains. On Sunday, February 10, there will be two trains, one leaving the Sunol station at 12:00 noon and another leaving at 3:00 p.m.

Bring your loved one and share a bit of romance, history, fine wine and delicious food as you experience the magic of a bygone era traveling for two hours through scenic Niles Canyon on a vintage Southern Pacific 10040 Parlor/Diner Car newly restored to its elegant 1920’s appearance.  The car is climate controlled for your comfort and attendants on board are there to assist you during the trip.  There will also be an open-air car so you can take a break outside enjoying the weather. Note that the Parlor Car is not wheelchair accessible due to the narrow passage of this vintage rail car.

Fine premium wines from Livermore Valley wineries have been hand-selected by Wine Educator Steve Ferree. The wineries represented on the Romance on the Rails are:

  • McGrail Vineyard and Winery 2017 Peyton Paige Sauvignon Blanc
  • Steven Kent Winery 2015 Merrillie Chardonnay
  • Las Positas Vineyards 2017 Estate Rose
  • Cuda Ridge Wines 2016 S&M Sangiovese and Malbec blend
  • Occasio Winery 2015 Telos
  • Cedar Mountain Winery & Port Works Tortuga Royale

Steve, the WineProGuy, will be on board to provide you with information about the wines and the cheeses that are being paired. In addition hors d’oeuvre will be served.
The Romance on the Rails Wine Tasting Train is sponsored by the Pacific Locomotive Association and proceeds of the event support their railroad historic preservation programs. All seats are reserved and tickets are $80 and are available at their ticketing site.

For more information:

Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte becomes the Official Partner of Cirque du Soleil Touring Shows in USA/Canada

Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte has announced an exclusive multi-year contract with Cirque du Soleil as the first ever official Champagne partner of its touring shows throughout the USA and Canada. The partnership will begin in September 2018 with the premiere of VOLTA™ in Redmond, Wash. and will continue through December 2020. 

The partnership will see Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte served at more than 800 performances annually (including shows such as Cirque du Soleil VOLTA™, LUZIA™, Amaluna™ and Alegría™) in major U.S. and Canadian cities. including: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. as well as Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. 

"We are thrilled to have our two incredible brands working together," said Christophe Juarez, CEO for Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte. "Both Nicolas Feuillatte and Cirque du Soleil were founded on the strong ideals of constantly reinventing ourselves and creating moments of awe and inspiration. Their artistic prowess and our Champagne bring enchantment and pleasure to life. We look forward to bringing exceptional experiences to guests through this unique partnership," Juarez continued. 

The partnership will take on different forms, including a Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte Lounge where guests will be invited into an immersive experience which will include Champagne and hors d'oeuvres. Cirque du Soleil concessions will serve Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte, and digital and retail integration will also be offered.  

"The values we share with Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte of celebrating the present moment, creating joy and wonder, as well as the passion and expertise we both pour into our respective products makes this partnership a natural fit. We are looking forward to working together in offering our guests a memorable experience," said Richard Davies, Vice President, Corporate Alliances at Cirque du Soleil.

The natural association with Cirque du Soleil is part of Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte's latest brand campaign, Enchantment Awaits: an invitation to celebrate life's precious moments with emotion, intensity, generosity and boldness. The initiative includes the launch of a new immersive website and a refreshed visual identity for its full range of Champagnes worldwide, both debuting in the U.S. in September 2018. 

For full list of show dates and locations, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com. 

ABOUT CHAMPAGNE NICOLAS FEUILLATTE: Founded in heart of the UNESCO World Heritage listed Champagne hillsides, Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte is the youngest of the major Champagne houses, and the biggest wine growers' brand. It embodies the commitment and passion of its 4,500 associated growers spread across the appellation. In the course of just 42 years, Nicolas Feuillatte has quickly reached the first rank of Champagne brands in France, the third worldwide and the fourth in the USA. Its claim: Champagne is a wine born in a unique terroir. It need not be reserved for exceptional circumstances but is meant to be shared and to enchant life during the most cherished moments. The range of Champagnes by Nicolas Feuillatte is diverse, as the richness and diversity of the terroirs (5,189 acres of vines) and grapes sourced from the highest quality of crus. It is a demonstration of the unique savoir-faire of its Chief Winemaker and unique signature style made of finesse and elegance. Nicolas Feuillatte Champagnes are available in more than 100 countries worldwide with 10.3 million bottles sold in 2017 alone. Travel to is flagship state-of-the-art new winery and visitor center, the Éspace Nicolas Feuillatte in Chouilly, or visit www.nicolas-feuillatte.com. 

ABOUT CIRQUE DU SOLEIL ENTERTAINMENT GROUP: Originally composed of 20 street performers in 1984, Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group completely reinvented circus arts and went on to become a world leader in live entertainment. Established in Montreal, the Canadian organization has brought wonder and delight to over 180 million spectators with productions presented in close to 450 cities in 60 countries. Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group currently has over 4,000 employees, including 1,300 artists, from nearly 50 countries. Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group creates content for a broad range of audacious projects. On top of producing world-renowned shows, the organization has extended its creative approach to a large variety of entertainment forms such as multimedia productions, immersive experiences, theme parks and special events. Going beyond its various creations, Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group aims to make a positive impact on people, communities and the planet with its most important tools: creativity and art. For more information about Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, please go to www.cirquedusoleil.com/entertainmentgroup.