Sunday, September 30, 2018

Lodi Albarino

Lodi has long been known for its wide selection of Spanish and Portuguese varietal wines.  These Iberian varietals include Graciano, Garnacha, Tempranillo, Touriga, Verdejo, Verdelho and more.  One of the major white wine varietals from this region is Albarino (or Alvarinho in Portuguese) grown widely in the Galicia in Northwest Spain.  

In celebration of Albarino Day recently I tasted three wonderful Albarinos from Lodi.  Each of them displayed a vivid wine that pairs well with a variety of foods.

Harney Lane Winery

The 2017 Harney Lane Albarino grapes are grown on the estate in a vineyard directly behind the tasting room.  The year 2017 had abundant rain and warm late season temperatures resulting is grapes fully mature and brimming with flavors.  You will love the aromas and flavors of lemon meringue, lime and abundant fruit.  For those of you who have enjoyed Albarino from Spain you will love the sea stone minerality and flavors found in this wine.  It is light and crisp with a nice finish.  Enjoy this with mildly flavored fish or shellfish.  It goes great with fish tacos and oysters.

Klinker Brick Winery

We all love the great Zinfandels from Klinker Brick but they are not shy about their delicious Albarino.  The 2017 Albarino is a beautiful crisp vivid wine that has the aromas and flavors of citrus and green apple with a touch of peach and pear.  The minerality really shows through on this wine.  

Estate Crush Winery

Estate Crush, located in downtown Lodi was founded in 2009 as Lodi’s first dedicated custom crush facility for premium wine production.  It is designed for small to medium lots and has the ability to create the finest handcrafted wines.  The 2016 Estate Crush Albarino has grapes sourced from Bokisch Vineyards.  This wine was aged 100% in stainless steel and offers a nice crisp dry quality with aromas of peach, lemon and lavender.  You will also discover a nice minerality in this wine.

Friday, August 31, 2018

A fantastic Taste Our Terroir in Livermore Valley

The 2018 Quest for Food and Wine Pairing Excellence of Taste Our Terroir, Livermore Valley’s premier food and wine affair, took place from July 26.  It provided food and wine lovers a chance to check out the best of Livermore Valley.   Judges this year included Jim Gordon of Wine Enthusiast Magazine; Ellen Fort, Editor of Eater SF and Ian White of San Francisco Magazine. In addition, guests had the chance to taste all pairings and then cast votes for People’s Choice awards for Best White and Best Red Pairings.  The winners were:

Best Classic Pairing: Mitchell Katz winery and Atria Senior Living 

  • Mitchell Katz 2013 Speechless Cabernet Sauvignon Blend from Livermore Valley paired with Wagyu ribeye topped with barrel aged Shoyu and fresh grated horseradish from Atria Senior Living

Most Innovative Pairing: Wood Family Vineyards and First Street Ale House 

  • Wood Family Vineyards 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon VIVA from Livermore Valley paired with Indian Fried Chicken Frankie Curry fried chicken, pickled vegetables, spiced aioli and fresh cilantro from First Street Ale House.

Judges’ Best Pairing: Longevity Wines and Backdoor Bistro

  • Longevity Wines 2017 Pinot Blanc from Livermore Valley paired with shrimp Aguachili and local melon on a chili dusted potato chip with avocado crema Aguachili from Backdoor Bistro

The coveted People’s Choice Awards were given to: 

Best White Wine Pairing: McGrail Vineyards and Attraversiamo 

  • McGrail Vineyards 2017 Kylie Ryan Rose from Livermore Valley paired with Mexican street corn, local Brentwood corn, mayo, pimento, pine nuts, lime, chives topped with spicy Chicharron from Attraversiamo

Best Red Wine Pairing: Wood Family Vineyards and First Street Ale House 

Over the following three days wineries across Livermore Valley hosted dinners, cooking classes, blending sessions, vineyard tours and other unique experiences highlighting the region’s terroir. Most of these events were sell-outs.

Livermore Valley Wineries Blessing of the Grapes

Harvest has begun in Livermore Valley and the winemakers from throughout the valley gathered with local clergy on Wednesday, August 21, in the traditional “Blessing of the Grapes” ceremony at Murrieta’s Well Winery.  The custom of blessing the first fruits of the harvest can be traced back to Old Testament times and has been practiced for centuries in wine producing countries around the world.

The Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association is continuing the tradition at the beginning of harvest each year, this year at the beautiful refurbished Murrieta’s Well Winery.  Chris Chandler, Executive Director of the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association led the event, joined with Pastor Steve Wilde of the First Presbyterian Church of Livermore, Deacon Dave Rezendes of St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Rev. Kenneth Kovacs of Catonsville Presbyterian Church and Rabbi Larry Milder of Congregation Beth Emek of Pleasanton. Each member of the clergy told about how wine and grapevines have a special meaning in their religion. 

The clergy invited the winemakers and audience to join them in the Blessing of the Grapes for this year’s harvest. As the attendees gathered afterwards to celebrate with some wines and cheeses from Murrieta’s Well, we learned that many of them have already started the harvest and several told this reporter that they were heading to the fields afterwards to check on the ripeness of the grapes soon to be harvested.

For more information: Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association

Friday, August 24, 2018

Harvest Wine Celebration in Livermore Valley September 2

The sun has been shining all year, the grapes are now ripening and the winemakers are starting to harvest in Livermore Valley as they begin to prepare for the 2018 Vintage.  On Sunday of Labor Day Weekend, September 2 from noon to 5 p.m., Livermore Valley wineries will be celebrating the exciting crush season and 37 years of the Harvest Wine Celebration.  Each winemaker hosts activities including wine tasting, arts, crafts and music.  Many will also have additional tastings on Monday as well.  Wine lovers have come from all over the Bay Area and beyond for the past years to enjoy this unique event.  Don’t miss this exciting celebration of winemaking and agriculture here in the heart of the Bay Area.

Tickets are $40 in advance and $45 on September 2 at participating wineries.  Tickets include wine tastings, commemorative Livermore Valley Wine Country GoVino glass, wine discounts and activities.

Some of the special harvest activities include:

  • Vineyard Tours at Murrieta's Well
  • Cork demonstrations at Retzlaff Vineyard
  • Guided tour of the vineyards at Page Mill winery discussing organics, and the transition to biodynamic farming!
  • Aroma bar at Big White House Winery
  • Bottle your own Cuvee at Eckert Estate Winery
  • Barrel and food pairing at Wente Vineyards
  • Discussions with the Winemaker at Wood Family Vineyards

For additional information:

22nd Annual Livermore Airport Open House & Air Show will Feature Tasting of Award-Winning Local Wines

The 22nd Annual Livermore Airport Open House & Air Show will offer a full day of fun for the whole family with wine tasting by Livermore Valley wineries, a fabulous display of aircraft, vintage cars, music, local vendors and an array of food options. Wine tasting ticket packages are available in advance at

On Saturday, October 6, from 10am to 4pm at the Livermore Municipal Airport, 18 local wineries will each pour two of their wines among displays of military, classic, experimental/homebuilt and aerobatic aircraft and vintage cars. Air Show guests also will enjoy mobile gourmet foods presented by Food Truck Mafia, activities for kids and many performances and “flybys” by:

  • Renowned air show pilots, including Vicky Benzing Aerosports, Wild Thing Air Shows, Rich Perkins’ Marchetti and Jacquie B Airshows
  • Military/warbird planes
  • Parachute demonstration jumps

Available online at and at the event, the Livermore Valley Flight package of $20 in tasting tickets and a commemorative Livermore Valley Wine Country GoVino wine glass is $20. Participating wineries will offer both 1oz tastes and 4oz glasses of wine at varying price points.

The Livermore Airport Open House & Air Show is open to the public and all ages are welcome. Guests wishing to partake in wine tasting must be 21+ with a valid ID, regardless of age. Commemorative GoVino wine glasses ($5) and individual wine tasting tickets ($1) will be available a la carte at the event. For more information, visit

Participating wineries include: Bent Creek Winery, Boa Ventura De Caires Winery, Concannon Vineyard, Crooked Vine Winery, Darcie Kent Vineyards, Eagle Ridge Vineyard, Elliston Vineyard, Fenestra Winery, Garré Vineyard and Winery, Leisure Street Winery, Longevity Wines, McGrail Vineyards, Murrieta's Well, Nella Terra Cellars, Page Mill Winery, Vasco Urbano Wine Co., Wente Vineyards and Wood Family Vineyards.

Family Winemakers 2018 Tasting at the Midway in San Francisco

Family Winemakers will host its annual tasting of family-produced and hard-to-find California wines on Sunday, August 26th 2018 at the Midway in San Francisco - 900 Marin Street.   The Sunday tasting is a one day event of award-winning small, family-owned wineries that create wines from many of the state's fabled wine growing regions.  Great Wine -- A Family Tradition!

The Family Winemakers Tasting has been one of the largest wine tasting events in the Bay Area and is the primary event for smaller family run wineries to showcase their wines for media, trade and discerning consumers.  In most cases the wines will be poured by the actual winery owners or winemakers. 

Imagine the opportunity to taste some of the finest wines in California offered by 60 wineries.  You'll find upwards of 40 different varietals or blends from 60 of California's famed appellations.  If you can’t get to the wine country let them come to you! Whether you’re adding to your wine list, retail shelves or your private cellar, this is an opportunity to Taste California!

Consumer tickets start at $60 and are available only at  Early Access tickets for $90 provide admission to the full tasting from 12p.m. - 5p.m.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Taste Our Terroir in Livermore Valley Wine Country July 26-29

Taste Our Terroir, Livermore Valley’s premier food and wine affair, returns for four delectable days in 2018 as the historic region celebrates and educates wine lovers about its unique “taste of the land.” From July 26th to the 29th, Livermore Valley wineries will offer 13 different events, including the popular food and wine pairing competition, a winemaker concert, cooking demonstrations, wine tasting seminars and vineyard tours. VIP tickets grant early access to Thursday’s food and wine pairing competition. This event has always been the greatest event of the year for the Livermore Valley Wineries.  All event tickets are on sale now at

Wine Taste Our Terroir 2018 will begin Thursday night, July 26, 6-9pm with the region’s signature event, the annual quest for food and wine pairing excellence at Casa Real in Pleasanton. Twenty Livermore Valley winemakers have partnered with Bay Area chefs to compete for honors. Experts Jim Gordon of WineEnthusiast Magazine, Ellen Fort of Eater SF and Ian White of San Francisco Magazine (see bios below) will sample the gourmet pairings in a blind tasting before awarding Most Innovative Pairing, Judges’ Best Pairing and Best Classic Pairing. 

Guests will have the opportunity to taste the 20 pairings, bid on luxurious silent auction items, enjoy decadent desserts presented by Sysco and cast two votes in the People’s Choice competition for the best red and white wine pairings. VIP tickets ($125 until sold out) include a sparkling wine reception at 4:30pm with wineries pouring on the patio and access to the pairings at 5pm (one hour early). General admission tickets are $85 in advance and $95 after July 1st at This event sells out every year—there will be no tickets available at the door. 

Pairings this year for The Quest for Pairing Excellence are:

  • Concannon Vineyard | The Last Word
  • Dante Robere Vineyards | Scott Wall Chef & Culinary Consultant
  • Eagle Ridge Vineyard | Terra Mia
  • Garré Vineyard and Winery | Garré Café
  • Las Positas Vineyards | Zephyr Grill & Bar
  • Leisure Street Winery | Casse-Croute Bakery
  • Longevity Wines | Backdoor Bistro 
  • McGrail Vineyards | Attraversiamo
  • McKahn Family Cellars | The Banks Vault
  • Mitchell Katz Winery | Atria Senior Living
  • Murrieta's Well | Murrieta's Well Culinary Team
  • Nella Terra Cellars | On the Vine Catering
  • Nottingham Cellars | Hop Devine
  • Omega Road Winery | The Cooperative 
  • Page Mill Winery | Millennium Restaurant
  • Retzlaff Vineyards | Salt Craft
  • The Steven Kent Winery | Sabio on Main
  • Wente Vineyards | The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards
  • Winemaker's Studio | The Grill at Wente Vineyards
  • Wood Family Vineyards | First Street Ale House

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

Friday, July 27 

WENTE LUNCH IN THE GARDEN 10:30am-1pm at Wente Vineyards Join Wente Vineyards Winemakers and Master Gardener Diane Dovholuk as they take you through an experience like none other. Sip on wines created from the very vines you are standing among as you are guided though the vineyards. Afterwards, rest your feet and feast on a delectable meal made with fresh ingredients from Wente Vineyards' on-site organic herb and vegetable garden. [$115] -more- 

COOKING WITH CHEF CHAD WELSH 12pm-2pm at Mitchell Katz Winery Meet us at Mitchell Katz winery for a food curing demo by Chef Chad Welsh. Chef will present a live demonstration on how to cure two different varieties of Salmon; one with fresh dill and black pepper, and one with beets that give the fish a great color. [$50] 

WINEMAKER CONCERT WITH MARK CLARIN AND DANE STARK 6-9pm at Chandler Vineyards Join us for a special night at Chandler Vineyards. Experience the terroir of the vineyard through a rare comparative tasting of Page Mill Winery and McGrail Vineyards’ Chandler Vineyard Chardonnay wines. Winemakers Mark Clarin and Dane Stark will share their musical talents throughout the evening. Spend your night wine tasting, dancing and dining on delicious hors d’oeuvres. [$100] 

A WELL AGED EVENING 7-9pm at Rios Lovell Estate Winery Banquet Hall Guests will begin the evening in the banquet hall of Rios Lovell Estate Winery with a short lecture dedicated to Ports and Port making. The night will continue with Port tastings from the barrel, paired with delicious chocolates and an array of fine cheese. [$45] 

Saturday, July 28 

YOGA IN THE VINEYARD 10am-12pm at Retzlaff Vineyards Lawn Start your morning off with some relaxing Yoga on the lawn at Retzlaff Vineyards. Your yoga instructor will guide you through an hour of stretches, followed by a tasting of wines from Retzlaff Vineyards, Page Mill Winery, Nella Terra Cellars, Omega Road Winery and Nottingham Cellars. Guests are asked to bring their own mat, towel and water. [$30] 

BEES AND BEADS AT EL SOL WINERY 1:30-3:30pm at El Sol Winery Join the Sol Sisters at el Sol Winery for a fun and creative jewelry making experience—all skill levels welcome. Tools and supplies provided for you to make your choice of a lariat, choker, bracelet or earrings. After handcrafting your jewelry, enjoy honey tasting and bee keeping demonstrations with a live, working colony. [$45] 

CONCANNON VINEYARD’S 135TH ANNIVERSARY LANDMARK TOUR 4-6pm at Concannon Vineyard Join Fourth Generation Vintner John Concannon for this fun and fascinating winery experience which includes a walking tour of the stunning 135-year-old landmark vineyard estate and unique topiaries that Ernesto, chief landscaper, has been carefully curating for over thirty years. You will enjoy a special tasting of four award-winning Reserve wines while learning why Concannon is a wine pioneer in California Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. Complete this memorable tasting experience in a historic setting where Estate Sommelier LeeAnn Kaufman will guide you through a featured wine paired with an exquisitely prepared, small bite. [$55] 

FROM PAST TO PRESENT, A SPIRITS TASTING 6-7:30pm Step back into the 1800s with a live and educational demonstration of the process of spirit distillation. Eckert Estate Winery and Artisan Spirits invite you to engage in a historical overview of the distilling process of brandy, gin, absinthe and liqueur productions. Admire rustic 100-year-old props and tools that were used to produce a number of unique spirits and partake in three different aroma bars and tastings. Challenge your palate in a new way, and see which spirit is your favorite. [$40] -more- 

SUNSET LOBSTER DINNER 6:30-8:30pm at Darcie Kent Vineyards Start your evening by sampling Livermore Valley award winning wines from Darcie Kent Vineyards, McKahn Family Cellars, Fenestra Winery, Wente Vineyards and Page Mill Winery while watching the preparation of a typical East Coast Lobster Bake. The table will be filled with fresh Maine lobster, prawns, sausage, corn on the cob, garlic, artichokes, potatoes, bread and lots of butter. Put on your lobster bib and dig in! [$115] 

Sunday, July 24 

BOOTS ON THE GROUND, WINE IN YOUR GLASS 10am-12pm at Murrieta's Well Guests will experience true "boots on the ground" hiking through the vineyards at Murrieta's Well. Wear your hiking boots or a pair of comfortable walking shoes and get ready to see some amazing views of the Livermore Valley. After the hike, guests will taste through estate-grown wines and sample some small bites from the Murrieta's Well culinary team. [$75] 

MICROCLIMATE TASTING OF LIVERMORE VALLEY CABERNET SAUVIGNON 1:30-3:30pm at The Steven Kent Winery Experience a rare micro climate comparative tasting of cabernet sauvignon in The Steven Kent Winery Reserve Room. Multiple Livermore Valley Wineries will be pouring their cabernets for you to sample side by side. Join us to decide which microclimate terroir your palate prefers. [$65] 

A LITTLE TASTE OF ITALY 3-5pm at Garré Vineyard and Winery Conclude your weekend with an escape to Italy. Garré Vineyard and Winery is hosting an afternoon featuring special Italian varietal wines, bocce ball and antipasto prepared by Garré Café. You will sample wines from Garré Vineyard, Charles R Vineyards, Rios Lovell Estate Winery, Rodrigue Molyneaux and Mitchell Katz Winery. The event will be located outside near Garré’s picnic tables and Bocce Ball Courts. [$55] 

Taste Our Terroir 2018 Judges: 

Jim Gordon – Contributing Editor, Wine Enthusiast Magazine Jim Gordon has been covering the wine industry as an editor and reporter for more than thirty years. Gordon is a contributing editor for Wine Enthusiast magazine and past director of the annual Symposium for Professional Wine Writers at Meadowood Napa Valley. 

Ellen Fort – Eater SF A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America's Greystone campus, Ellen has spent time learning from some of the best wine educators in the country, and working in Napa tasting rooms. She is the editor for Eater SF, covering restaurant and food news in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Ian White – Wine Director, Modern Luxury San Francisco Ian began his career in the wine industry as the Wine Country Director for 7x7 Magazine. He launched and authored 7x7's "Wine Insider Blog" and developed marketing campaigns. Currently, he is the Wine Director for Modern Luxury San Francisco magazine.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Share your love at the Lodi Wine and Chocolate Weekend February 10 and 11

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 Wine and Chocolate Weekend in nearby Lodi Wine County February 10-11. 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 $55 in advance or $65 at the door of any participating winery, and complimentary for designated drivers. 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.

In addition, we’ve hidden more than 100 prizes including one “Golden Ticket” – good for a Lodi Wine Country getaway for two – within your complimentary chocolate treats from sponsor BRIX Chocolate so be to check upon receipt. You just might be a winner!

For more info: