Monday, February 22, 2010

Conway Family Wines - family dedication to quality in Arroyo Grande

Conway Family Wines certainly lives up to its name with Chris and Ann Conway and their five children sharing in the ownership and operation of the operation. This devoted family. Purchasing the historic Rancho Arroyo Grande vineyards in 2007, they have dedicated themselves towards developing an award-winning winery on the estate.
Chris Conway founded and led company in Minneapolis in 1969 that grew to become a nearly $300 million leading manufacturer of surgical aesthetics products to plastic surgeons worldwide. Retiring in 2005 he began looking for another adventure. He found it in the Rancho Arroyo Grande vineyard. The rancho is located 13 miles from the Pacific Ocean with 3,400 acres of sloping hillsides, woodlands, pastures and vineyards bordered by the Los Padres National Forest. Bears and mountain lions still roamed the rancho in the far reaches of the Arroyo Grande AVA in San Luis Obispo County.
The climate is moderate with a combined effect of altitude and maritime influences offset by the warm summers. The soils are evolved from ancient sea beds and the fossilized seashells have been incorporated into the Deep Sea label. The estate has three vineyards totaling 230 acres.

The family gathered together an experienced team in both the winery and the vineyard. Winemakers Andrew Adam and Jonathan Medard work with consulting winemaker Paul Wilkins who has worked with several wineries in San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria regions.

Conway Family Wines have two labels. The Rancho Arroyo Grande label is their estate wines, while Deep Sea is produced from fruit hand selected from premium Central Coast vineyards. The California Wine Examiner tasting panel sampled four key wines from Conway Family Wines.

The 2008 Deep Sea Chardonnay is a Gold Medal winner in the San Francisco Chronicle 2010 Wine Competition. This Chardonnay has a touch of Viognier with a golden yellow color in the glass. The panel enjoyed the citrus aromas with apple, butterscotch and vanilla. On the palate these similar flavors shown through with good acidity and a creamy mouth feel. The crisp acidity produced tart apple flavor notes with a smooth finish.
Deep Sea 2008 Viognier has a nice straw color with aromas of lemon blossom, citrus zest, pear and wet stone. On the palate you will detect pear, citrus, tropical flavors and a distinct minerality quality. It has a nice acidity and a medium finish.

The 2008 Deep Sea Red Wine is a blend of 74% Syrah, 13% Petite Sirah, 6% Lagrein, 4% merlot and 3% Mourvedre. It won a Silver Medal at the 2010 Chronicle Wine Competition. The beautiful dark garnet color invites you to draw in the aromas and flavors of dark fruits, blackberry and plum with a toasty meaty complexity topped off with spice and floral qualities. The balance of tannins, acidity and fruit is delightful as it leads to a lingering finish.

Rancho Arroyo Grande 2007 Zinfandel has a garnet/ruby color. The intense aroma of dark berries, raspberry, plum and pepper draws you further to sampling the flavors of jammy dark fruit with pepper, clove and cinnamon.

In addition to winemaking the large Rancho Arroyo Grande estate has 30 acres of olive trees and is also a working horse and cattle ranch. 
For more info: 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cinnabar Winery - the alchemy of winemaking in Santa Cruz Mountains

In the 14th century, European alchemists believed that with the help of the mineral cinnabar, the derivative of mercury, they could transform ordinary metals into silver and gold. In the 20th a research engineer at Stanford Research Institute (SRI), Tom Mudd, founded Cinnabar winery with the belief that the alchemy of winemaking would produce premium handcrafted wines. While the 14th century alchemists were mistaken, the 20th century winemaker proved that the chemistry of winemaking was alive and well in Santa Cruz Mountains.

Tom used his scientific methodology to select vineyards and cuttings that would lead to the quality wine he sought. Twenty-two acres of vineyards were planted in 1984-85 with more added later. Tom had achieved his goal of a premium class winery. Upon his passing in 2007, the vineyards were sold, but Cinnabar continued to produce the same quality wines with grapes from Santa Cruz Mountains plus other distinguished areas including Lodi, Paso Robles, Sonoma, Lake County and Santa Clara Valley. President Suzanne Frontz and Winemaker George Troquato continue their own brand of alchemy in Tom Mudd’s dream, Cinnabar. From their tasting room along Big Basin Way in downtown Saratoga, Cinnabar the team greets visitors while serving a selection of fine wines.

Cinnabar Tasting Room in Saratoga

There is a wide selection of wines available for your pleasure. The 2007 Paso Robles Marsanne has a bright acidity with aromas and flavors of tropical fruit and stone fruit, jasmine, apricot and citrus with a surrounding of spice and earthiness.

The 2007 Cinnabar Mercury Rising is one of their more popular wines. It is a proprietary Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot. It is loaded with fragrances of black cherry and currants with a nice light toast, vanilla and spice.

The 2004 Cinnabar Lodi Petit Verdot is a silver medal winner of the 2008 Chronicle wine competition. Petit Verdot is not often produced in a single varietal wine, but the alchemy genius of Cinnabar showcases the density and rich texture of this grape that is often used to provide the color and texture of Bordeaux blends. You will detect dark red and black fruit with a touch of candied fruit and earthiness.

Cinnabar Tripartite is a non-vintage wine that is a blend of multiple years of Zinfandel, Teroldego and Valdiguie. These unique grapes provide an interesting complexity. The inky color leads you on to aromas of dark fruits, jammy blackberry, tobacco, anise and cinnamon. The toasted oak flavors wrap around the firm tannins with bright acidity and soft mouthfeel. Teroldego is an Italian varietal has some similarities to Zinfandel, yet with increased acidity and hints of tar and pine. Valdiguie is a French varietal that provides a lightness and easy drinkability.

The 2008 Late Harvest Valdiguie from Paso Robles was a delicious way to end the tasting. This desert wine has delicate aromas of mandarin orange, cranberry and almond. The lush mouthfeel leads to a lasting finish of cherry pie and citrus zest.

When visiting the tasting room, note the relaxed setting of the establishment, with an array of books and gifts. They also often host educational seminars on wine, food pairing and more. The wine shop uses reusable cloth wine tots and brown paper bags in accord to their sustainable standards.

For more information:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dutcher Crossing Winery - a journey in fine wines

Dutcher Crossing Winery in the heart of Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County is not only a great place to sample quality that you expect from this wine region, but also a great place to spend some time in this valley. The winery has a nice picnic area where you can gander over this lush valley while tasting these wines. They also offer a vineyard tour to learn more about what goes on to produce these wines.

The wines of Dutcher Crossing include their estate wines and also grapes from select vineyards throughout the valley. Debra Mathy is an adventurer and loves to tell you about her journey towards becoming the proprietor of Dutcher Crossing. She developed her passion for wine during her studies in Europe. Her dream was to own a winery and in 2007 she purchased Dutcher Crossing in the prime growing region of Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County.

Dutcher Crossing Tasting Room

Debra is an athlete and an avid cyclist, owning a unicycle, eight bicycles and a 1900’s high wheeler that was a gift from her dad shortly before he passed on. This same high wheeler is the symbol of Dutcher Crossing and is found on their labels and foil cap. With the help of winemaker Kerry Damskey their passion for wine shows in their wines which have been winning awards for years.

The California Wine Examiner tasting panel sampled two Cabernet Sauvignon wines from Dutcher Crossing. Both are 2006 which is an excellent vintage in northern Sonoma County with a cool August and September and rain in October allowing longer hang times and leading to excellent ripening conditions prior to harvest.

The Dutcher Crossing 2006 Nevins’ Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grown on the uppermost blocks of the Nevins’ hillside vineyard. This wine displays abundant aromas and flavors of dark fruit, black raspberry and cherry. Clove and cinnamon highlight the flavors leading to a warm finish. There is also a distinctive smoky bacon aroma. The tannins tend to be a bit sharp and the writer suggests that the wine be decanted or allowed to air prior to drinking.

Dutcher Crossing 2006 Taylor Reserve from Dry Creek Valley is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Syrah. Winemaker Damskey says that the Syrah adds to the weight, texture and brightness of the wine, as he states, “Because of the blending of Syrah with Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine’s aroma is multi-layered and quite complex in nature. This wine exemplifies how perfect vineyard blending brings out the best attributes of Dry Creek Valley Cabernet.” This Cab is a full bodied wine with dark fruit including blackberry, blueberry, cherry with a toastiness, smoke and tobacco qualities. It has a nice long finish and balanced tannins

For more info:

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Klinker Brick Winery - Five generations of grape growing, 110 year old vines

Like many Lodi wineries, Klinker Brick owners Steve and Lori Felten come from a long line of growers who decided to take that next step and produce their own wine. They are fifth generation farmers, with ancestors from Germany and Russia who first settled in Lodi to produce watermelon. The family recognized the capability of the area to grow grapes and began to plant Zinfandel, Carignan and Alicante. With this extensive experience and love for Zinfandel grapes in Lodi, Steve and Lori began their own winery, with the goal to produce exceptional Zinfandel, culling the best lots for their wine.

The name Klinker Brick is in respect to the highly prized Klinker bricks that are used in many historic buildings in Lodi. These bricks are heavier than normal bricks with rich color, unique shapes and when you bang them together, you hear a “klink”! Steve and Lori felt the same deep color, heavy density, distinctiveness and quality is reflected in their Zinfandel.

Klinker Brick grapes are grown in deep sandy rich soil Lodi. The sandy loam is 35 feet deep or more. All four vineyards are dry farmed. Lodi’s long growing season helps the grapes achieve 27 Brix at harvest resulting in alcohol levels of approximately 16%.

The 2007 Klinker Brick Old Vine Zinfandel is produced with grapes from vines that are 57 to 113 years old. The aroma is bursting with dried fruit, raspberry, blackberry and pepper. These same rich flavors carry forth on the palate leading to a warm, long finish.

Klinker Brick 2007 Old Ghost Zinfandel is a very special wine coming from a 96 year old vineyard specially selected with very small yields but tons of flavors. This is an elegant, yet powerful wine for those who truly love a big Zin. As the Californian varietal, this Zin is a great American wine and is aged in American oak. This wine is full of intense dark fruit flavors, jammy texture and spice displaying brawn and elegance.

Klinker Brick winery added a Lodi Syrah to their wine portfolio in 2001. The 2007 Lodi Farrah Syrah has a dark garnet color with aromas of raspberry and cherry and a touch of tobacco and mint. Flavors include cherry, raspberry, chocolate and tobacco with an earthiness quality and the spices and pepper flavors you expect from a fine Syrah.

For more info:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Charles R Winery - a family winery in Livermore Valley

Charles R Winery is a small family owned and operated winery in Livermore Valley with three generations of the Bartlett family actively involved in the production of their fine wines. Founder Charles Richard, or Dick, Bartlett and his wife Bonnie started their winery on a remote ranch in the eastern corner of Livermore Valley. Their son Randy is the winemaker, learning his craft while working for other Livermore Valley wineries. His sister Debra is the director of marketing and her daughter Katie is the events manager.

This winery is reached at the end of Greenville Road, past Poppy Ridge Golf Course. At the end of the road visitors turn onto rural Crane Ridge Road and down the gravel drive to the tasting room. This is truly Livermore Valley ranch land and as you stroll out the back door of the tasting room to relax on the patio sipping your wine you will admire the rolling hills and the nearby cattle grazing in the fields. Often wildlife is visible.

Inside the tasting room antique mining tools adorn the walls. The ranch is located along an old mining trail. Bonnie is an artist and she designed the tree found on the label. Her artwork and those of other local artists are also displayed in the tasting room.

Learn about other Livermore Valley Wineries

The Charles R 2006 Pinot Grigio delivers aromas and flavors of pineapple, peach and pear. It has crisp acidity and the acids linger on the long finish.

The 2007 Chardonnay – Sur Lies from their estate vineyards is a ripe full bodied wine that has received prolonged lees (the residual yeast and other particles that precipitate). The lees contact delivers a yeasty quality similar to sparkling wine. The lees are stirred (batonnage in French) to promote more uptake of the lees flavor. These extra steps generate a more fruitful flavor and a smooth finish.

The 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon is a Silver Medal winner in the 2008 San Francisco Chronicle wine competition. It has black cherry and blackberry aromas and on the palate these same flavors follow through along with a smooth velvet finish.

For more info: Charles R Winery

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valentine's events at Monterey and San Benito Wineries

Valentine’s Day is always special and a time to share a romantic day or evening with your sweetie. With that special day falling on a weekend this year, wineries all around California are opening their doors for special events.

In San Benito County, one of their most famous wineries, Leal Vineyards, has a special Valentine’s Day tasting called “For the LOVE of WINE and CHOCOLATE”. On Sunday, February 14 from noon to 4:00 p.m. they will be serving select chocolates by Marich Confectionery and barrel tasting of their 2002 Tawny Port and more.

Monterey County’s River Road Wine Trail will hold their “Valentine’s Passport” event on Saturday, February 14 from 11 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The River Road Wine Trail winds along River Road and Foothill Road south of Salinas and along the Santa Lucia bench. You will have a great country drive, with views of the verdant Salinas Valley, while stopping to visit any of the 12 wineries along the Wine Trail.

At this sweetheart of all wine tastings, you will visit many fine wineries that will feature rare vintages, music, food and celebration of all things amour. As a Passport-carrying V.I.P., you will receive a souvenir glass, a gift of sweets, entry into a grand drawing and special discounts. Tickets are only $25.

Participating wineries in the Valentine’s Passport are:

  • Paraiso Vineyards – Producing artisan wines from Santa Lucia Highlands, particularly award winning Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
  • Hahn Estates – High atop Santa Lucia Highlands where you can share spectacular views while sipping some spectacular wines.
  • Pessagno Winery – Exceptional award-winning wines that consistently score 90+ points.
  • Marilyn Remark Winery – A family-operated boutique winery specializing in premier Rhone-style wines.
  • Scheid Vineyards – A major grower of wine grapes in the county with vineyards covering a span of 70 miles throughout Salinas Valley.
  • Ventana Wines – Located in Arroyo Seco and one of the older vineyards in the valley. All of their wines are Estate grown from their single vineyard, the most award-winning single vineyard in America
  • Chalone Vineyard – Perched 1,800 feet high above the Salinas Valley on the Gavilan Mountain Range, bordering Pinnacles National Monument, Chalone Vineyard has the same limestone bases soils as Burgundy in France. The result is an exceptional Chardonnay.
  • Manzoni Estate Vineyard – A small estate in the heart of Santa Lucia Highlands, producing exceptional Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
  • San Saba Vineyards – Located in Soledad, and recently purchased by the Thomas family and now producing wines under the Wrath label.
  • Blackstone Winery – This Gonzales tasting room carries a wide selection of Blackstone Wines.
  • Boekenoogen Vineyard and Winery – Nestled atop the foothills in the heart of Santa Lucia Highlands, this family winery produces some fine Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah.
  • Puma Road Winery – Located in Santa Lucia Highlands, this winery is normally open only by appointment.

For more info:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Livermore Valley winegrowers romantic Valentine's Day adventures

Valentine’s Day, a time for romance and a time to spend some time with your sweetheart enjoying life and celebrating your love. In Livermore Valley there are plenty of opportunities for you and your lover to sample fine wines, indulge in delicious chocolates and celebrate this day.

Niles Canyon Railway invites you to a romantic ride through Niles Canyon in the 1940’s Art Deco style lounge car, sampling some fantastic Livermore Valley wines, paired with a selection of cheeses, chocolates and hor ‘dourves. “Romance on the Rails” is a special event this year and a great way to share a loving afternoon or evening. The 2-hour train excursion boards at 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. This is a unique way to sample some of the best wines available in Livermore Valley during a romantic step back in history. Tickets are available for $75 each.

Cuda Ridge is home to some fine Bordeaux varietal wines and perfectly pair with chocolates. On Saturday and Sunday, February 13-14, Noon – 4:30 p.m., the Cuda Ridge family will be hosting their “Wines, Vines, and Valentines” event. They are releasing their first white wine, a 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, the 2007 Renegade Zinfandel, 2008 Merlot and 2008 Petit Verdot. Charlotte Sue’s Chocolate is providing the sweet treats. Chris LeBel, finalist in the Livermore 2010 Talent Competition will be entertaining you with live music on Saturday and Roger Kardinal will be on Sunday.

McGrail Vineyards, known for their delicious rich Cabernet Sauvignon will have a Belgium chocolate fondue available to dip in the treats to match with their 2005, 2006 and 2007 vintage Cabs. Live acoustic guitar music by Livermore Idol Chris Lebel, will keep you entertained.

Nottingham Cellars, a new winery in Livermore, announces their St. Valentines Day Massacre/Syrah Release Party on Saturday, Feb 13, 5-10 p.m. The $65 ticket price includes a catered buffet dinner, hor ’dourves pairing with the 2005 Syrah, wine with dinner, music and dancing in a 1920’s Speakeasy setting, plus raffles and prizes. 1920’s attire is encouraged and reservations are required.

Garre Vineyard and Winery is well-known for their events and a premier spot for weddings, so you can expect them to celebrate Valentine’s Day in high fashion. On Saturday and Sunday they will be hosting their Valentine’s Dinner at CafĂ© Garre. You can enjoy a romantic evening with your sweetheart sharing a tantalizing four-course dinner accompanied with their award winning wines and a sinfully delicious dessert. Sip on champagne while being romanced by the sounds of soft violin music. Reservations are required.

Occasio Winery, one of the newer wineries in Livermore Valley, is releasing their new 2008 Del Arroyo Zinfandel and the 2009 Rose on both Saturday and Sunday, February 13-14. They will be paired with small plate appetizers.

Eckert Estate Winery is hosting a “Bottle Your Own” Event. Winemaker Mike Eckert will be bringing out a barrel of one of his special wines. You can taste the wine in the tasting room and then bottle it yourself for only $7 per bottle! Eckert provides the bottles, corks, labels and wine. This event is Friday, Saturday and Sunday, February 12-14.

Elliston Vineyards, in historic Elliston mansion in Sunol invites you to the Mansion Valentine’s Day Winetaster Dinner beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 13. The night begins with Elliston’s champagne and hors d’oeuvre reception and a self-guided tour of the lower two floors of the historic mansion. This is followed by a five-course elegant dinner matched with Elliston wines. The cost is $85 per person.

Chouinard Vineyards, high on Palomares Road, has a special red wine barrel tasting with chocolates and homemade bread and cheese samples on Sunday, February 14, Noon to 5 p.m.

Les Chenes Estates Vineyards is celebrating Valentine’s Day with a pairing of Jacqueline Kennedy’s Chocolate SoufflĂ© with their new 2007 Estate Syrah.

Rodrigue Molyneaux Winery will feature a chocolate fountain with different treats and fruits to dip, along with a selection of their wines. They will also be releasing their new Barbera at their event on Saturday, February 14.

Eagle Ridge Vineyard invites all to attend their chocolate and wine pairing event on Valentine’s Day. They have a great selection of red wines to pair with the chocolate.

Thomas Coyne Winery in the countryside of southwest Livermore Valley is holding their Winter Open House, Friday-Sunday, February 12-14 in their historic tasting room. They will be releasing four new exciting wines and serve a selection of fine fruits and cheeses.

Check out these great local wineries and make your plans for Valentine’s weekend with a romantic treat for you and your sweetheart.

For more information about Livermore Valley wineries and wine events .

Monday, February 8, 2010

Valentine's Day at your local Santa Clara Valley winery

Valentine’s Day falls on a weekend, allowing you plenty of time to set up a romantic adventure with your loved one. Wine tasting, chocolates and fine food are a perfect way for a romantic event. Your local wineries are anxious to treat you to a lovely Valentine’s Day to share with your sweetheart.

  • Kirigin Cellars in Gilroy is hosting a Valentine Wine Festival on Saturday February 13, 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. They will have BBQ, live music, dancing and plenty of wine. The Groove Kings are there to keep the music flowing while Kirigin keeps the wine flowing. Your $20 entry fee includes all the festivities, 4 wine tasting tickets, and a logo glass. It is also a great opportunity to find a perfect Valentine’s Day gift for your honey, Vino de Mocca filled dark chocolates, champagne, or any special bottle of wine to go with a special date! For the ultimate gift, call ahead to discuss creating a custom level just for your sweetheart!
  • Satori Cellars has their special Candlelight Valentine’s Dinner on Friday February 12, 7:30 – 10:30 p.m. They will be serving a wonderful five course dinner by candlelight in their cozy “Barrel room” listening to Jazz guitarist David Schnittman. Long stem roses await the lovely women. The price is $65 per person.
  • Fortino Winery presents the Sweetheart Saturday on Saturday, February 13 noon to 5:00 p.m. at their winery on Hecker Pass Highway in Gilroy. Fortino will have a magnificent chocolate fountain, wine specials and much more. Then Saturday night, starting at 8:00 they host the Candle Light Comedy Night featuring Michael Slack. The opening acts include local stand-up comedian Karen Smyth, San Francisco comedian Adam McLaughlin, and Maggie Newcomb, winner of the Battle of the Bay. There will be a No Host Bar during the event. Remember that these great acts have adult content. Tickets are $25.
  • Clos LaChance Winery in San Martin is hosting their Valentine’s Dinner with Le Papillion Restaurant on Sunday, February 14. Seating times are at 6 pm and 8:30 p.m. Le Papillion Restaurant will match each course of this fabulous dinner with Clos LaChance wines. Reservations are required and you need to contact le Papillion Restaurant directly. Prix Fixe dinner is $150 per person inclusive of wines, tax and gratuity.
  • Guglielmo Winery in Morgan Hill invites you to their 6th Annual Valentine’s Day Dinner on Saturday, February 13 from 6:30 – 11 p.m. This is a romantic evening in the 1930’s style. Champagne and appetizer reception begins the evening followed by a 6-course dinner, dancing and prizes for the “Best 1930’s Dressed Couple”. Price per couple is $199 and reservations are required.
  • Martin Ranch Winery is very excited about their second annual Valentine’s Day Weekend Bottle your Own at the Winery event. They supply the bottles, labels and all equipment needed to professionally bottle your own wine. What a great way to have some fun that weekend. The wine is a delicious Martin Ranch Cabernet blend. Pre-registration is required to reserve a specific time slot to guarantee your wine.
  • Solis Winery is pairing a wonderful chocolate with their wines in a romantic setting overlooking the vineyard and mountains. The event is on both Saturday and Sunday, February 13-14, Noon to 4:30 p.m. The price is $10 per person.
  • Sycamore Creek Vineyards is featuring live music, chocolates and tasty treats at their Valentine’s Weekend/Wine Social on both Saturday and Sunday, February 13-14 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.

So your local wineries are their Valentine’s Day weekend to provide you with a romantic treat for you and your sweetheart.

And don't forget another local event, the Niles Canyon Railway Romance on the Rails Valentine's Day Wine Tasting Special. Wine, choclate and food with your loved one in a 1940's Art Deco Lounge Car.

For more information about Santa Clara Valley wineries

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Jazz Cellars - turning a love for jazz into a love of wine

Several years ago, two neighbors discovered an equal compassion for fine wine and great music. While at the New Orleans “Jazz Fest” these two friends, Joe Lazzara and Bob Smith decided that their talk of wine had to turn into action and the idea of Jazz Cellars, a winery that embodied the spirit of jazz into the production of wine. Starting at Crushpad, a state-of-the-art winery in San Francisco, they were able to work with wine industry veterans and other wine-lovers to tune their grapes into a wine ensemble. Crushpad winemakers Kian Tavakoli and Chris Nelson along with winemaker Jacqueline Yoakum of Nicholson Ranch helped Joe and Bob compose their wine.

The 2008 Viognier from Catie’s Corner Vineyard in Russian River Valley starts with a nice straw color and aromas of floral, candy and stone fruit. On the palate you detect a great crisp acidity and apricot with the structure that results in balanced Viognier.

Jazz Cellars 2007 Syrah from Mendocino County is produced primarily from Syrah grapes from the famous Eaglepoint Ranch vineyard. In addition to this warm climate Syrah, there are small amounts of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvedre. The Syrah delivers exquisite aromas of dark fruit, raspberry and blackberry, plus pepper. As you taste the wine, you continue to sample the flavors of the dark fruit with a touch of chocolate.

Another Syrah from Jazz Cellars is their 2006 Syrah from Las Madres Vineyard in Carneros. This cool climate Syrah is fruit-forward with dark fruit, black olive, vanilla and spice characters. It has an enticing mouth feel and balance with a long complex finish.

The 2007 Zinfandel from Sonoma County has a nose brimming with aromas of dark berry, spice and dill. On the mouth the jammy texture and bursting fruit flavors are a joy. The fine tannin gives it the rich style you expect from a California Zin. This wine is produced from Zinfandel from the Grist Vineyard in Dry Creek Valley with a touch of Petite Sirah from Sonoma County.

Jazz Cellars 2006 Petite Sirah from Eaglepoint Ranch in Mendocino is a classic bold Petite Sirah with powerful fruit, pepper, berries and excellent mouth feel. The tannins, along with the medium acidity provide the boldness you expect from a Petite Sirah yet does not overpower your taste buds.

For more info: Jazz Cellars

Monday, February 1, 2010

Romance on the Rails - Valentine's Day Wine Tasting Train in Niles Canyon

Niles Canyon Railway can make your Valentine’s Day unforgettable with the new Romance on the Rails Wine Tasting Trains. On Sunday, February 14, there will be two trains, one leaving the Sunol station at 2:00 p.m. and another leaving at 5:00 p.m.

You will experience the magic of a bygone era as you travel for two hours through scenic Niles Canyon on a vintage train in the new Southern Pacific parlor-lounge car #2979, newly restored to its elegant 1940s appearance. It is the winner of an Art Deco Society of California preservation award. It features plush lounge seating and a semi-circular mahogany bar framed by etched glass and mirrors. The car is climate-controlled for your comfort, and attendants will be on board to assist in any way you require during your trip. An open-air car is also included for your viewing enjoyment.

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::

More about Livermore Valley Wineries

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 Locomotic Association and the Golden Gate Railroad Museum and proceeds of the event support their railroad historic preservation programs. All seats are reserved and tickets are $75 and are available at their ticketing site.

For more information: