Saturday, April 30, 2016

A tasting of Hungarian Furmint dry white wine

The Furmint grape is a major component to Tokaj’s luscious and distinctive Aszú dessert wines, but it is unknown to American wine lovers as a dry varietal wine. Many international wine experts compare Furmint as a wine with the weight and structure of Chardonnay, the fruitiness of Chenin Blanc, and the acidity and minerality of Pinot Grigio and Riesling. Furmint is an indigenous grape to Hungary and has been grown in the area since 1611. Thus Furmint USA is out to put Furmint in its rightful place among the world’s best as Hungary’s flagship white varietal.

With its strong character, rich acidity, diverse flavors and aromas, coupled with its complexity and aging potential, Furmint is the perfect accompaniment to a full range of dishes from soup and salad to desserts.

Let’s take a look at the home of Furmint, Tokay Wine Region. This region is located about two hours’ drive from Budapest and is home to almost 100 wineries producing wines that are well up to international standards. It is the first DOC in the world, established and recognized in 1787. It has about 15,000 acres in production which is about one quarter the size of Napa. It is mostly famous for its sweet wines, but of the six varietals grown here, Furmint accounts for 70% of the production. During the Communist period in Hungary they focused on large production wineries producing wine for the people. During this time Tokaj Furmint fell into oblivion on the world stage.

Winemaker Istvan Balassa, the owner of Balassa Winery served his 2013 Tokaj Furmint Betsek Quartz wine, a wine with a complex acid structure and nice aromas of soft citrus fruit.

On April 21 FurmintUSA brought together several Furmint wineries and local trade and media to introduce many dry Furmint wines.

St. Donat Estate is located in Csopak, in the hills above Lake Balaton.  Here the diversity of local soils, an exceptional microclimate and a timeless history of viticulture combine to help vintners create wines unique to this area.  The 2014 Estate Furmint delivers aromas and flavors of citrus, green apple and pear and would pair nicely with Asian cuisine.  The 2013 Marga Furmint is made from grapes found in the marl-rich vineyards of the area.  You will enjoy the citrus, green apple and toast qualities of this wine.

Holdvölgy winery means “Valley of the Moon”.  It is a small vineyard in the Mad Valley.  The 2012 Hold and Hollo Dry Furmint has an excellent vibrant nose and follows on with flavors of apple, pear and peach.  The 2013 Vision Furmint offers aromas and flavors of lemon drop, flowers, spices and even a bit of honey in a full bodied wine with excellent acidity

Béres Winery focuses on rich full Hungarian wines.  The 2014 Estate Furmint is a fresh and fruity wine with crisp acidity.  The 2011 Lőcse Furmint is a single-vineyard dry wine fermented and aged in oak barrels with nice acidity and minerality.

Majoros Estate was founded from a long line of winemakers and the vintners focused on Furmint with many creative processes.  The 2013 Deak Furmint is a lively wine aged in Hungarian oak barrels delivering flavors of quince, vanilla, peach and a touch of vanilla.

Barta Winery was founded in 2003 and is owned by the Barta Family. Eighty percent of the grapes on the estate are Furmint. We tasted their 2012 Old King Furmint which had great acid and citrus flavors. We also enjoyed their Szamorodni Sweet Furmint made from overripe botritysed Furmint grapes.

Grof Degenfeld Winery is a true Hungarian chateau sitting on an 86 acre estate in Tokaj.  They produce high quality wines.  The 2013 Estate Furmint is produced from organically grown grapes selected by hand and delivers a nice crisp taste.  The 2014 Zomborka Furmint is produced exclusively from grapes from the Zomborka vineyard and aged in Hungarian oak.

Erzsébet Cellar is a family project and everyone in the family hold dual degrees in viticulture and oenology.  The 2012 Estate Furmint has great acidity, balance and great fruity taste.  The 2012 Zafir Furmint uses grapes from a single vineyard and includes mostly Furmint with a touch of Harslevelu. 

Kvaszinger Winery is owned by a young winemaker in the village of Olaszliszka.  The 2013 Estate Furmint is delicious with citrus and green apple aromas and flavors and nice acidity.

Basilicus Winery is another young winery in Hungary’s Tokaj wine region.  We tasted their 2012 Szamorodni Sweet Furmint, a fresh, light delightful sweet wine with citrus, honey and peach notes.

For further information: FurmintUSA

Downtown Campbell Spring Wine Walk excited wine lovers with quality wines and friendly shops

Downtown Campbell Spring Wine Walk excited wine lovers with quality wines and friendly shops

The Bay Area is home to many unique shopping districts and one of the best is downtown Campbell.  The Downtown Campbell Business Association held their sold-out Spring Wine Walk on April 20 welcoming hundreds of visitors to the many interesting and unique businesses in the Downtown Campbell. Winemakers from 30 wineries from around Northern California were there to share their wines with visitors while everyone had the chance to explore the many interesting shops in downtown Campbell.

This was a great opportunity to learn about this area. The compact four-block long downtown offers visitors and shoppers a wide range of opportunities including restaurants, shoe store, furniture stores, boutiques, salons and even a funeral parlor and bicycle shop. Campbell offered a large number of wineries and participation by most of the businesses in the area. Yet it was easy to sample the wines along Campbell Avenue while checking out the stores.

Here is just a sample of what could be found during the Spring Wine Walk.

Besties Boutique appeared to be quite a hit with the ladies.  They have a wide range of trendy clothes and, for the occasion, had several tops pertaining to wine.  Russian Ridge Winery was in the shop serving their Napa Valley Chardonnay and Santa Cruz Mountains Syrah.  Both wines were excellent and reflected the fine grapes available from these two winegrowing regions.  The Chardonnay was full bodied and balanced with nice tropical fruit flavors.  The Syrah delivered an abundance of fruit on the nose and the palate with a nice body and finish.

Comanche Cellars was serving their wines at Pro Martial Arts.  They were sharing their Chardonnay from Arroyo Seco, a delicious full bodied wine, their Pinot Noir from Santa Lucia Highlands with multiple layers of fruit leading to a long tasty finish.  They also had their John Smith Vineyards Tempranillo which was quite special with a tangy, tasty collection of fruits and a very aromatic nose.

Fortino Winery from Gilroy was hosted by the Darling Fisher Memorial Chapel.  While Darling Fisher provided the wine lovers with an abundance of tasty treats to enjoy, Fortino was sharing their delicious Almond Champagne and the Maribella red blend.

It is always a delight to visit the folks at Kaleido Lamps and check out their wonderful collection of eclectic lamps. They were hosting Naumann Vineyards from nearby Cupertino in the Santa Cruz Mountains wine region.  They were serving their Estate Merlot loaded with black cherry and coffee flavors and Pinot Noir from Santa Cruz Mountains.

Rocket Fizz is always a fun place to visit in Campbell offering fun soda pop and candies, many that you remember from your own childhood.  Villa del Monte Winery from nearby Los Gatos was there with a collection of their wines including several delicious dessert wines.

The Downtown Campbell Business Association hosts several Wine Walks during the year. Check back with the San Jose Wine Examiner for details on the next event. And, in the meanwhile, be sure to visit Downtown Campbell, with plenty of parking, many interesting shops and eateries and a step back in time to when downtown really met something!

There is not enough time to list all the shops that hosted this great collection of wineries, so you will have to visit the area for yourself. Also, check out the photo gallery to see some of the winemakers in attendance.

For more information about Downtown Campbell and their many events:

Winners for California Green Medal Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership awards

As we celebrate Earth Day we need to remember that sustainable winegrowing is important to winemakers and vineyards throughout California.  The Wine Institute has developed their sustainable winegrowing program and region after region have incorporated this program into their practices.

On April 20 the California Green Medal: Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards were announced and recipients were honored at a lunch reception and ceremony in Sacramento. The California Green Medal, developed to showcase leading wineries and vineyards committed to sustainability, is presented by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, the California Association of Winegrape Growers, Wine Institute, Lodi Winegrape Commission, Napa Valley Vintners, Sonoma County Winegrowers and The Vineyard Team. Many association partners also helped to promote the awards which were selected by a panel of wine and sustainability experts.

Awardees of the four 2016 Green Medals are:

The Leader Award is given to the vineyard or winery that excels in all “3 E’s” of Sustainability—Environmentally sound, socially Equitable and Economically viable. The winner, Jackson Family Wines, has been a sustainability innovator and an early adopter of healthy land management practices since the winery’s founding in 1982, with more recent actions guided by a company-wide sustainability strategy and a comprehensive audit of environmental impacts in 2008. Incorporating triple bottom-line sustainability principles across all aspects of their business, the company deployed solar arrays at eight wineries and collaborated with Tesla to reduce energy demand and increase grid reliability, utilized industry-first water conservation technologies, introduced human resource initiatives to improve employees’ well-being, paid a price premium for certified sustainable winegrapes and led voluntary drought initiatives.

The Environment Award is given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates Environmental Stewardship through maximized environmental benefits from implementing sustainable practices. The winner is Halter Ranch Vineyard. The environmental stewardship commitment by Halter Ranch Vineyard owner Hansjörg Wyss is demonstrated by the decision to preserve 1,700 acres of the Halter Ranch property with 18% planted to vineyards that work in harmony with the undeveloped acres to provide habitat, wildlife corridors and biodiversity. The winery also works with the Wyss Foundation to help local communities and partners conserve millions of acres. Halter Ranch conserves water, resulting in over a 50% reduction in irrigation; captures rain and winery water bringing over two million gallons back to irrigation ponds; and farms 281 acres of vines without removing oak trees or displacing existing wildlife and plant life.

The Community Award is given to the vineyard or winery that is a Good Neighbor & Employer using the most innovative practices that enhance relations with employees, neighbors and/or communities. The winner is Tablas Creek Vineyard. Since its establishment in 1989, Tablas Creek has been a trendsetter for its wine region, actively involved in the Paso Robles community through the local winery association and by hosting workshops to share sustainability practices. The winery has partnered with organizations such as charities, the local animal shelter, arts and youth sports organizations and has donated more than $100,000 to support local youth and arts programs since 2002. Tablas Creek promotes productivity and job satisfaction by compensating employees with fully funded medical, dental and vision benefits, employer-matching 401k plans, educational support, wine shares and annual profit-sharing bonuses to both part-time and full-time employees. The staff is encouraged to continue education.

The Business Award is given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates Smart Business through efficiencies, cost savings and innovation from implementing sustainable practices. The winner is McManis Family Vineyards. With a focus on constant improvement of practices and adoption of the latest farming and winemaking technologies, McManis Family Vineyards’ water use efficiency measures in the vineyard include the use of soil moisture sensors, flow meters and distribution uniformity tests; while their winery recycles water and averages one gallon of water to produce one gallon of wine. Sustainable practices have also decreased energy use, diesel use and tractor work and limited the impact on soil. Making sustainability a core part of their business strategy has not only benefited the environment, surrounding community and employee retention, but has streamlined processes in the vineyard, winery and office, resulting in economic gains that help ensure a thriving business for future generations.

"The awards program provides an exciting opportunity for California growers and vintners to be recognized for their hard work and dedication to sustainability," said Allison Jordan, CSWA Executive Director. “The challenge was selecting four winners from the stellar applications we received from vineyards and wineries of all sizes from throughout California. The committee and judging panel were impressed by the breadth and depth of sustainable practices being used to conserve water and energy, maintain healthy soil, protect air and water quality, preserve wildlife habitat, and enhance relations with employees and communities, all while improving the economic vitality of vineyards and wineries.”

The second annual California Green Medal was judged by a panel of wine and sustainability experts. They include: Karen Block, Industrial Relations Manager, Viticulture & Enology, UC Davis; Hunter Francis, Director/Founder, Center for Sustainability in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo; Allison Jordan, Executive Director, California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance; Camron King, President, Lodi Winegrape Commission; Karissa Kruse, President, Sonoma County Winegrowers; Kelli McCune, Senior Project Manager, Sustainable Conservation; Michelle Novi, Industry Relations Manager, Napa Valley Vintners; Cyril Penn, Editor in Chief, Wine Business Monthly; and Beth Vukmanic Lopez, SIP Certification Manager, The Vineyard Team.

Sponsors are:
Exclusive Media Sponsor – Wine Business Monthly
Platinum Sponsor – Nomacorc
Silver Sponsors – CC Wine Caves, Farm Credit Alliance, Marin Clean Energy, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, SureHarvest
Bronze Sponsor – Ag Unlimited, Preserva Products, Ltd.

Partnering organizations include the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association, California Green Business Program, Fish Friendly Farming, Mendocino County Resource Conservation District, Napa County Resource Conservation District, Napa Valley Grapegrowers, Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, Russian River Valley Winegrowers, Temecula Valley Winegrowers, and Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley.

For more information:

Accepting the 2016 California Green Medal Awards were: (L-R) Lucas Pope of Halter Ranch Vineyard; Katie Jackson of Jackson Family Wines; Jason Haas of Tablas Creek Vineyard; and Dirk Heuvel of McManis Family Vineyards

Local vintners to open multi-use wine, food and events center in Gilroy

Local winemakers Jason and Janu Goelz (Jason-Stephens) in partnership with Tim Slater (Sarah’s Vineyard) have purchased a vacant industrial property on Brem Lane, adjacent to the Gilroy Premium Outlets, just off Highway 101. Formerly housing a roofing manufacturer, the sprawling, seven acre site will be renamed “The Stomping Ground” and will be transformed into a wine production, cellaring, storage, and fulfillment facility; plans also call for eventual hospitality operations in the form of tasting rooms, food vendors, and entertainment.

“The Stomping Ground is slated to become Silicon Valley’s hippest food and wine destination,” comments new proprietor Jason Goelz. “It will be a working winery for several artisan labels; a localvore gourmet marketplace; an exciting events and music venue; a unique experience where the area’s rich agricultural history is deliciously on display.  We hope to make the Stomping Ground a fresh, ever changing, “must stop” on Highway 101.”

According to Tammy Brownlow, CEO of The Gilroy Economic Development Corporation:  “We have been assisting Jason, Janu and Tim as they move forward with this exciting new project.  The Stomping Ground will create a great new venue that wine enthusiasts and visitors to our region can enjoy.”

After initial site clean-up and construction, Phase One of the Stomping Ground project will see the installation of custom crush and cellaring facilities and case good warehousing for regional artisan wine brands – including the principals’ labels. Co-owner Tim Slater says that “The current timetable calls for winemaking at The Stomping Ground, beginning with this fall’s harvest; it’s ambitious but we’d like to be crushing grapes there for the coming 2016 vintage.

Phase Two for the S.G. calls for hospitality operations, with not only local wine tasting rooms but restaurants and gourmet vendors in residence. The Goelz’s Jason-Stephens Winery is hoping to open a satellite tasting room on-site at the Stomping Ground as early as this summer. Other local vintners have already expressed interest in participating with their brands, in a fun, inviting, collective space. 

Phase Three for the Stomping Ground will see the entire property renovated over the next few years to be a true “wine and food oasis,” with event and office space, room for concert and live performance hosting, and a wide variety of ever-changing offerings.  The Goelz / Slater team will be working closely with city and county officials and businesses to ensure the project is not only a great, regional visitors’ attraction but also a responsible, conscientious community partner, as well.;

The undertaking's new online home is

Sonoma County Winegrowers expand sustainability certification options

As Earth Day nears, Sonoma County Winegrowers is proud to announce today that the Fish Friendly Farming (FFF) Environmental Certification Program is now an accepted option under the region's globally recognized Sonoma County Sustainable
Since putting a stake in the ground and boldly committing to become the nation's first 100% certified sustainable wine region by 2019, the Sonoma County Winegrowers have created a groundbreaking sustainability program to help ensure its grape growers continue to farm for generations to come.
"I am very excited that Fish Friendly Farming will now be accepted under our Sonoma County Sustainable initiative," said Karissa Kruse, president of Sonoma County Winegrowers.  "This is another example of our ongoing commitment to build the strongest sustainability program possible, while also giving our growers another certification option that still maintains the strict standards we require to become Sonoma County Sustainable," she added.  
The addition of Fish Friendly Farming is the result of a year and half of collaboration between the two organizations to enrich the FFF sustainability program to meet the requirements of Sonoma County's sustainability program. Sonoma County Winegrowers' comprehensive approach to sustainability was recently recognized with California's highest environmental honor, the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA).
Sonoma County's sustainability program takes a triple bottom-line approach that focuses on people, planet, profit, as well as an annual audit and third party certification. To meet these criteria, Fish Friendly Farming has expanded its strong environmental focus with new best practices addressing the social equity and business aspects of sustainability.  In addition, they now mandate an annual audit.   Fish Friendly Farming will now require all their members, including those outside of Sonoma County, to comply with these new additions in order to remain certified Fish Friendly Farming. 
With the addition of Fish Friendly Farming, Sonoma County's grape growers now have four sustainability programs to select from that have been reviewed and vetted by environmental policy advocates, wine industry leaders and other stakeholders.  They include California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, Fish Friendly Farming, Lodi Rules and SIP (Sustainability in Practice).
"It was critically important to Fish Friendly Farming that we be a key component in the Sonoma County Winegrowers' sustainable offerings," said Laurel Marcus, Fish Friendly Farming's Executive Director.  She added, "We have enhanced an already excellent program which will continue to benefit the environment and help salmon and steelhead populations recover in Sonoma County and throughout the west."
The Fish Friendly Farming Certification Program began in 1997 to assist Sonoma and Mendocino winegrape growers to comply with federal and state environmental laws and regulations.  The highly-respected program incorporates the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and California laws governing water rights, fish and wildlife habitat and pesticides.  The program was not designed as a sustainability program and, until now, it did not provide certification for socially-responsible or economically-viable improvement.  Currently there are roughly 13,505 vineyard acres enrolled and 10,133 vineyard acres certified under Fish Friendly Farming in Sonoma County.  
Since launching its sustainability efforts in 2014, Sonoma County Winegrowers have made significant progress and gained global recognition for their leadership. Karissa Kruse has traveled across the globe promoting Sonoma County's sustainability efforts, while garnering several prestigious awards, including California’s highest environmental honor, the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA) and being named a "Game Changer" by North Bay BIZ Magazine.  Currently, the Sonoma County Winegrowers are well ahead of their projections towards achieving 100% sustainability as a wine region:    
  • 37,392 vineyard acres (64%) of Sonoma County's 58,280 vineyard acres have been sustainably self-assessed;
  • 27,761 vineyard acres (48%) have been certified sustainable by a third party audit;
  • Close to 500 Sonoma County Sustainable signs have been distributed and are displayed in vineyards across the region;
  • More than 1,280 Sonoma County grape growers participated in sustainability workshops, meetings and related events in 2015; and
  • More than 162,340 pounds of vineyard material was recycled by growers in 2015.
About Sonoma County Winegrowers:
The Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, also known as Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW), is a marketing and education organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Sonoma County as one of the world's premier grape growing regions.  SCW has oversight by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and seeks to increase awareness and recognition of the quality and diversity of Sonoma County’s grapes and wines through dynamic marketing and educational programs targeted to wine consumers around the world.  In January 2014, SCW committed to becoming the nation's first 100% sustainable winegrowing region by 2019. Currently, 64% of the vineyard acreage in Sonoma County has gone through the sustainability self-assessment and 48% of vineyards are certified by a third party auditor.  For more information about SCW and its programs, visit

Napa Valley icon Mike Grgich releases his memoirs

Napa Valley icon Miljenko “Mike” Grgich has released his memoir, “A Glass Full of Miracles,” in celebration of his 93rd birthday on April 1st. The book, published by Violetta Press, was written with Napa Valley Register editor Sasha Paulsen and chronicles the long and storied life of a young Croatian boy whose search for freedom and the chance to fulfill his American Dream led him through countless hardships to become one of the most revered and beloved winemaking legends in history.

“My life has been filled with miracles’” Mike Grgich says. “How else do you explain that a little boy from a little village in Croatia now has his wine on display in the Smithsonian Institution, in the same place as Abraham Lincoln’s hat and Neal Armstrong’s space suit?”

Grgich, the youngest in a family of 11, studied enology and viticulture at Croatia’s University of Zagreb with the goal of making great wine. While he was a student, a professor whispered to him about California, a paradise where winemakers were free to make the best wine possible. Just before graduating, he fled Croatia to escape communism. With $32 sewn in his shoe, Grgich finally arrived in California after four years of adversity and uncertainty. The book transports readers along Grgich’s journey from communism to freedom, becoming a California winemaker and earning his place as a Napa Valley icon.

An inductee to the Vintners Hall of Fame, Grgich crafts wines in the classic Old World tradition that have won a stream of local and international awards, establishing Grgich Hills Estate as one of the premier wineries in the U.S. and the world.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the famous Judgment of Paris. In 1976, Steven Spurrier, an Englishman who ran a fine wine shop in Paris, decided to promote his wine shop by organizing a blind tasting to coincide with America’s Bicentennial celebrations. For the tasting, he gathered together the best French judges, the finest French wines and he added in a few wines from some upstart winemakers in California. The unimaginable happened: the 1973 Chardonnay, crafted by Mike Grgich for Chateau Montelena, won with the highest total score of 132 points. This momentous verdict placed Napa Valley on the global wine map and set the bar for Chardonnay in Napa Valley.

The following year Grgich joined with Austin Hills of the Hills Bros. Coffee Company to open what became Grgich Hills Estate. The first vintage that Grgich crafted at the new winery was one of 221 Chardonnays from around the world entered into “The Great Chicago Chardonnay Showdown.” The 1977 Grgich Hills Chardonnay emerged triumphant with the first place ribbon and the Chicago Tribune called it “The best Chardonnay in the world!”

George Taber, the Time magazine reporter who broke the story of the Paris Tasting and later was the author of “Judgment of Paris” about the famed tasting, praises “A Glass Full of Miracles:” “Mike Grgich may be small in stature, but he is a giant in the world of wine. His new book dramatically tells his full story, which is a great tale of a dream come true…there are a lot more aspects to Mike’s life than just Cabernet and Chardonnay. It’s a great and fun read.”

“A Glass Full of Miracles” retails for $40, to pre-order visit, and The book will ship in mid-April. For more information about the book, visit

Resonance 2013 Pinot Noir

The newly released Resonance Vineyard Pinot Noir showcases both the Maison Louis Jadot’s tradition of making terroir driven wines and the exquisite quality of Pinot Noir coming from the Yamhill- Carlton region of Oregon outside of Portland.  It combines the style of old world Burgundian Pinots with the outstanding fruit of an Oregon Pinot. 

This is from the first vineyard purchased by Louis Jadot outside of France since 1859 and is made by famed Jadot winemaker Jacques Lardiere.  The fruit comes from dry-farmed vineyard with original rootstock.  The vineyard is a 13-hectare property with 8 hectares planted in Pinot Noir and is one of the oldest in Willamette Valley.

It has a very pretty ruby color and you will first appreciate the wonderful red raspberry and cherry aromas.  On the palate you will thoroughly love the continuing black cherry, red raspberry and cranberry flavors tied together with a touch of forest floor and strong minerality.  This wine is a magical combination of silkiness, fruit and inner strength.

This wine has won an inevitable collection of awards including 94 points from Wine Enthusiast, 93 points from Wine Spectator and more.

For more information:  Resonance

Simi Winery Sauvignon Blanc and Dry Rose

Simi Winery is part of the heart and history of Sonoma County. Two brothers from Tuscany immigrated to Sonoma County and fell in love with the region since it reminded them so much of their home region in Tuscany. In 1876, as the rest of the country was celebration America’s centennial these brothers founded Simi Winery. Now 136 years later, Simi Winery is the oldest continuing operating winery in Sonoma County and they still make wine in the original stone cellar built by the Simi brothers in 1890.

Two recently released wines show that Simi continues to lead the way for Sonoma County.  The 2014 Simi Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc is a delicious wine that integrates the old world complexities of minerality, acidity and finish with the new world fruit flavors of lime, grapefruit, lemon grass and tropical fruits with a hint of the grassy qualities you expect in a Sauvignon Blanc.  This wine is a blend of 98% Sauvignon Blanc, 1% Viognier and 1% Semillon.  It has a great refreshing quality that makes it the perfect summer wine.

The 2014 Sonoma County Dry Rose is a blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 5% Malbec, and 1% Syrah from various vineyards in Sonoma County but primarily from Alexander Valley.  It delivers the strength of a Cab, softness of a Merlot and spiciness of Malbec to produce a nice summer wine. With a vivid pink rose-petal hue, the SIMI Sonoma County Dry Rosé offers fresh and delicate aromas of strawberry, pineapple, tart cherry, fresh tarragon, and a hint of white pepper; a perfect pairing for your wide-brimmed hat or seersucker suit!

For more information: Simi Winery

Celebrate Malbec Day with some distinctive Malbecs from Argentina

Malbec World Day is April 17, 2016.  Malbec World Day celebrates the day in 1853 when Argentine president Domingo Faustino Sarmiento made it his mission to transform Argentine’s wine industry and tasked Michel Aime Pouget, a French soil expert, to bring over new vines to stimulate the industry. 

Malbec was introduced to Argentina in 1853 before the Phylloxera plague ravaged the vineyards of France in 1889 while at the same time the Malbec in Argentina was adapting well to its new home and winemakers were producing even better Malbec than found in France.  Malbec rose to the star variety in Argentina growing from just over 25,000 acres in 1990 to over 70,000 acres in 2009, becoming a major export varietal for Argentina.  U.S. consumers fell in love with Argentine Malbec with its intense fruity flavors and smooth texture.

Celebrate the day with two Malbecs from the Moet Hennessy family of wines from Argentina.

2013 Terrazas de los Andes Reserva Malbec uses grapes grown at the ideal elevation for maximum flavor and aroma and optimum quality. On the nose, ripe fruits such as fig and raspberry are combined with floral notes of violet. On the palate, delicate and pleasant tannins with a marmalade finish. This wine classically pairs with grilled red meat or pork, but can also work with salmon and tuna.  The price is approximately $20.

2012 Cheval des Andes is a joint venture between the legendary Chateau Cheval Blanc of Bordeaux and Terrazas de los Andes from Argentina. Cheval des Andes is a blend of mostly Malbec with Cabernet Sauvignon and a touch of Petit Verdot. The nose is complex and elegant with tobacco and white pepper followed by notes of ripe yellow fruits, such as apricot, peach, black fig, and quince jam. Acidity is balanced with the dense silkiness of the tannins to impact on the elegant finish of this Grand Cru. Enjoy with braised short ribs or a T-bone steak.  The price is approximately $95.

For more information:

Sunset moves into their new Jack London Square headquarters in Oakland

New Sunset Headquarters in Jack London SquareAfter 65 years in Menlo Park, Sunset, the premier resource for achieving the ultimate Western lifestyle has officially moved into its new Oakland headquarters; trading views of suburban gardens for the bustle of the city with surrounding business, food trucks, restaurants, and views of the waterfront. The new headquarters was designed by San Francisco architects RMW and is comprised of approximately 20,000 square‐feet on the second floor of a mixed‐use building in the heart of Jack London Square at 55 Harrison Street.

Sunset’s new headquarters includes the new Sunset Showcase and Test Kitchen where you will see many future recipes being developed. Some of the Western United States most iconic recipes have come from the Sunset test kitchen, which is recognized for having one of the country’s most rigorous recipe‐testing methodologies. The facility also includes a new all‐glass, floor‐to‐ceiling wine “cellar” housing Sunset’s historic collection.
Irene Edwards, Sunset’s Editor‐in‐Chief, has this to say about arriving in Oakland: “Our staff is thrilled to move into such a vibrant, inviting neighborhood. We’re having a great time seeking out our favorite new coffee spots, food trucks, small businesses, lunchtime walks, and more—and meeting all the neighbors who’ve welcomed us along the way. Our new office is open, light‐filled, and contemporary, with views over the surrounding streets and waterfront. I couldn’t have asked for a better home to embody Sunset's fresh new direction."

At a recent tour of the new Oakland headquarters, visitors had a chance to view the Test Kitchens, Wine Cellar and editorial offices as the various editors of Sunset told us about how this new facility will be used to continue providing westerners with exciting information about our Western lifestyle. The attached slideshow provides you with a view into this new space.

In addition to its new flagship location in Oakland, Sunset will have a continuous presence in California wine country at Cornerstone, a public garden, event and retail space in Sonoma, one of the world’s premiere travel destinations. Cornerstone and Sunset have formed a strategic partnership that will entail hosting Sunset’s main test garden, an outdoor kitchen and on‐site programming. Cornerstone will be the future home of Sunset’s annual Celebration Weekend.

About Sunset
Sunset ( is the leading lifestyle brand in the West. Through magazines and books, events and experiences, plus digital and social media, Sunset covers the West's best flavors, destinations, design trends, and innovations. Sunset engages and inspires an audience of over five million educated, active and affluent consumers every month through its five regional print editions—Pacific Northwest, Northern California, Southern California, Southwest and Mountain—as well as via all tablet devices and its website. In addition to its print and digital publications, Sunset showcases the region’s unique lifestyle and noteworthy destinations through its flagship events, established home programs, licensing partnerships, books and International Wine Competition.

Sunset to host 18th Annual Celebration Weekend at new location at Cornerstone in Sonoma Wine Country

The 18th annual Sunset Celebration Weekend really is special this year since it will be held at the new Sunset Test Gardens and Outdoor Kitchen at the new Sunset Sonoma Wine Country location at Cornerstone.  This event being held on May 14th and 15th, 2016 gives Sunset fans a chance to join editors, celebrity chefs, vintners, craft beer brewers and renowned lifestyle. The two-day series of culinary, wine, garden and lifestyle events will be held for the first time at Cornerstone, a wine country marketplace with food and wine, shops, gardens and event spaces, that will serve as Sunset's beautiful new wine country location. At Celebration Weekend, Cornerstone will be transformed into an interactive showcase for the region’s most exciting lifestyle inspiration and freshest flavors, and Sunset's Test Gardens and Outdoor Kitchen will open to the public for the first time.

Additional program details and ticket information will be available in the coming months at

“We are at a very exciting moment in Sunset’s history, and the theme of this year’s Celebration Weekend, ‘The New Sunset,’ reflects that,” said Irene Edwards, Sunset Editor-in-Chief. “We’re injecting the Sunset experience with new life, so look for fresh faces, flavors and festivities at the event.”

In June 2015, Cornerstone and Sunset announced a strategic partnership that includes hosting Sunset’s main test garden, an outdoor kitchen and on-site programming, including Celebration Weekend. Through its partnership with Cornerstone, Sunset will have a continuous presence in California wine country, one of the world’s premiere travel destinations. Sunset’s flagship headquarters is located in Oakland’s Jack London Square.

“We are thrilled to partner with Sunset to bring Celebration Weekend to the Sonoma wine country and help reimagine this iconic event to reflect the sophisticated lifestyle and taste of our world-renowned region.” said Darius Anderson, Kenwood Cornerstone CEO.

About Sunset
Sunset ( is the leading lifestyle brand in the West. Through magazines and books, events and experiences, and digital and social media, Sunset covers the West's best flavors, destinations, design trends, and innovations. Sunset engages and inspires an audience of over five million educated, active and affluent consumers every month through its five regional print editions—Pacific Northwest, Northern California, Southern California, Southwest and Mountain—as well as via all tablet devices and its website. In addition to its print and digital publications, Sunset showcases the region’s unique lifestyle and noteworthy destinations through its flagship events, established home programs, licensing partnerships, books and International Wine Competition.