A Wine & Food Affair 2015

Enjoy Wine Tasting along the WINE ROAD at the 17th Annual “A WINE & FOOD AFFAIR” in Northern SONOMA COUNTY

IMG_3311“A Wine & Food Affair” in Northern Sonoma County is a fabulous weekend of wine and food pairing at more than 100 participating wineries stretching across Sonoma County’s Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River Valleys.

You can purchase tickets for the weekend or Sunday only of the event, enjoying Sonoma County’s finest at your own pace.

Participating wineries will each prepare their favorite recipe for guests to sample throughout the event. Recipes will then all be found on the Wine Road’s online cookbook, so guests can replicate the parings at home. Guests will also receive a commemorative tasting glass.

The event will be held Saturday, November 7 & Sunday, November 8, 2015 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m

Tickets are $70 for both days or $50 for Sunday only.  Designated driver tickets are available (and highly encouraged) which offer non-alcoholic drinks and food pairings at each location.

Tickets are now on advance sale online and are non-refundable; listed price does not include tax or service charge. Tickets will not be available for purchase at the door. The event takes place rain or shine!

The Wine Road is a travel resource for those looking to visit the region, which is famous for its renowned wine producers and cuisine, scenic beauty, and wine country lifestyle. The association hosts three celebrated wine events throughout the year, “Winter WINEland” in January; “Barrel Tasting” in March; and “A Wine and Food Affair” in November. Made up of 197 vintners and 54 lodgings throughout the Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River valleys in Sonoma County, something is always going on along the Wine Road. To plan your next trip, please visit: www.wineroad.com. For additional information, or to request a free map, contact Beth Costa at 800.723.6336 or via e-mail at info@wineroad.com.

#AlexanderValley #DryCreekValley #RussianRiverValley #Winegrowers #Wineries #Wine #WineTasting #FoodPairing #WineRoad #TheWineRoad #SonomaCounty #Events

Inaugural Wind to Wine Festival – Proposed Petaluma Gap AVA

Wind to Wine FestivalDon’t miss this chance to taste some of the Petaluma Gap’s finest Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah at the Inaugural WIND to WINE Festival at the Sheraton Petaluma on August 8th. More than 60 wines will be available for tasting, including some limited production and library wines, but I would highly recommend the VIP tickets which includes a VIP Seminar lead by one of our local favorite Sommeliers, Christopher Sawyer, VIP Tasting Lounge, and Buffet Luncheon.

VIP SCHEDULE OF EVENTS – Saturday, August 8, 2015
11:00 am VIP Seminar
Noon VIP Early Access to Grand Tasting
12:30pm – 2:00pm VIP Buffet Lunch
1:00pm – 4:00pm GRAND TASTING General Admission
2:00pm – 4:00pm VIP Access to Elite Wine Lounge

The Petaluma Gap is best known for its wind, which allows for direct access to coastal marine air and fog. Hourly average wind speeds throughout the Gap regularly exceed 8 miles per hour (mph) nearly every afternooPetaluma Gap Fogn during the winegrape growing season, with winds in excess of 20 mph a common occurrence. It is this cooling “wind tunnel” effect that distinguishes the Petaluma Gap from neighboring winegrowing areas.

The Wind results in lower yields with grapes that reach physiological ripeness at lower sugar levels, developing wonderful flavors and fruit characteristics while maintaining ideal levels of acidity. It’s the perfect recipe for intense but well-balanced wines with character and distinction.

In February 2015, the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance submitted a petition to the  TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) to establish a new AVA.  This process normally takes a few years to complete, but to celebrate their AVA and showcase the wines produced in this area, they are hosting their Inaugural AVA Event – Wind to Wine Festival.

IMG_4939To kick off the event, Winemaker dinners will be held at Keller Estate and McEvoy Ranch on Friday, August 7th. Purchase a Friday dinner ticket and a Saturday Grand Tasting ticket together and receive a huge discount!

Keller Estate is one of the few wineries in the proposed AVA that is open to the public for tastings on a regular basis.  They also have a fabulous car collection – one of which is rotated into the Petaluma Gap tasting room monthly.

As McEvoy Ranch is a private residence, they are only able to welcome guests for scheduled events and by appointment.  I would recommend a ranch tour that gives you a history of the place as well as a tour of the orchards, vineyards, and state of the art mill. They sell olive oil and body products as well as wine from their ranch.

Sunday, the Winegrowers in the Petaluma Gap are scheduling vineyard tours to some of the most beautiful vineyards and ones that are rarely open to the public.  This will be an event not to be missed – watch the Petaluma Gap website for updates to their schedule of events.

#WindToWine #WindToWineFestival #PetalumaGap #Petaluma #SonomaCoast #SonomaCounty #Festival #Wine #Wineries #Vineyards #WineTasting #VIP #WineEducation #WineSeminar #WineLuncheon #WinemakerDinner #VineyardTour #Chardonnay #PinotNoir #Syrah #Sheraton


The Ultimate Wine Weekend – Your Way!

76Imagine Labor Day weekend in Wine Country with Jean-Charles Boisset (DeLoach Winery, Buena Vista Winery) ; Joe Anderson and Mary Dewane (Benovia Winery); or James Beard Outstanding Restaurateur semifinalists Mark and Terri Stark (5 Sonoma County Restaurants – Willi’s Wine Bar, Stark’s Steak & Seafood and Monti’s in Santa Rosa, and Willi’s Seafood and Bravas Bar de Tapas in Healdsburg).  These entrepreneurs are serving as honorary chairs for one of the most decadent weeken23ds of culinary and wine events, along with 200 or so of their favorite chefs, winegrowers, and winemakers in Sonoma County – Sonoma Wine County Weekend.

Sonoma County chefs have access to the seasonal abundance of the most fertile foodshed anywhere in the world, often grown and provided by small, local family farms – combine this with world-class wines and you have an event perfect for oenophiles and foodies alike!   Plan a weekend that exactly suits your fantasy from intimate luncheons or dinners to the exciting flagship auction at Chateau St. Jean with lots of exciting events inbetween.

BobbyI slide into the weekend slowly with an intimate winemaker luncheon on Friday – a fabulous way to meet with the owners and winemakers while you sample their current releases.  These are world class wines from the most diverse wine region in the world and the wineries pair them with seasonal local foods prepared by experienced chefs to perfectly highlight our local bounty.  These exemplary culinary and wine luncheons are relaxed and casual and usually hosted in the vineyards or wineries from which the wines are created.

At NightBut Sonoma Starlight dinner and dancing really gets weekend moving as Francis Ford Coppola’s team hosts an extravaganza – dine, drink and dance under the stars poolside Friday night at this iconic Sonoma County winery. Toast the start of Sonoma Wine Country Weekend at the sparkling wine reception, followed by a bountiful array of local, seasonal cuisine poolside. Over 25 local wineries will be on hand to share their finest Sonoma County wines, so you can create infinite perfect pairings for your favorite Sonoma County varietals and wines al fresco.

On Saturday, Kate MacMurray, daughter of Hollywood stars Fred MacMurray and June Haver, hosts guests at the breathtaking MacMurrary Estate Vineyards – once a gentlemen’s cattle ranch and now a premier estate vineyard for the Gallo Family of WiMacMurraynes.  This is a culinary and wine immersion into the culture of Sonoma County with a combination of chefs, winegrowers, and winemakers that is unequalled in Sonoma County – Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Estate Vineyards. Sip wines from more than 200 wineries pouring thousands of wines, and over 60 local chefs whipping up divine pairings in a once-in-a-lifetime experience for oenophiles and foodies alike. But it doesn’t stop there – cooking demonstrations throughout the day, farm-to-table marketplace, food & wine pairings with the pros, blind wine-tasting, reserve tasting, bubble room, sommelier lead tours, the crushpad (experience our harvest), and wine tours & talks. Many of these events sell out, so get yours tickets early – but the nice part is, you can customize your day to suit you own unique tastes and interests with a little or a lot.  On Saturday night you can relax at a winemakers dinner with local delicacies and wines that never disappoint.

Sonoma Harvest Auction 2On Sunday is the flagship event of this ultimate wine weekend with the Sonoma County Harvest Auction at Chateau St. Jean. One-of-a-kind auction items include unique tastings experiences, exclusive trips & packages, collectable etched wines, and many surprises every year.

In additional to acquiring fabulous items, your donations support deserving Sonoma County charities aiding efforts to support youth and children to ensure their success, preserve our environment for future generations, and provide for basic unmet health needs and services which improve the welfare of our local communities.

Your ticket not only offers you passage into the Wine Spectator Auction Tent, but it also allows you to minSonoma Wine Weekend Auction Story 1gle with Sonoma’s finest winemakers, as each table will be presided over by a local Vintner or Grower who will share not only their finest wines, but great stories, too! This is an upbeat fun time with featured chefs, including Ari Weiswasser, Glen Ellen Star; Armando Garcia, El Dorado Kitchen; Andrew Cain, Santé; Catherine Venturini, Olive & Vine; Douglas Keene, Cyrus; Duskie Estes & John Stewart, Zazu kitchen + farm; Dustin Valette, Valette; Jamil Peden, Applewood Inn Restaurant; John Franchetti, Rosso Pizzeria and Bar; Josh Silvers, Jackson’s Bar and Oven; Moaya Scheiman and Andrea Koweek, Crisp Bakeshop; Robert Nieto, Jackson Family Wines; and Tracey Shepos Cenami, Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates.

This is truly an oenophiles and foodies extravaganza that can be customized to your favorite culinary adventures and wine experiences.  But tickets for the most popular events sell out fast, so don’t wait for the last minute to plan your Labor Day weekend in Sonoma County.

For updates follow Sonoma Wine Country on Social Medial: Like Sonoma Wine Country Weekend on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/winecountryweekend, Instagram at @SonomaWineCountryWeekend, and follow on Twitter @SonomaWCW. Hashtag: #SWCW.



Sonoma County Inaugural Barrel Auction

Photograph: Regis Duvignau/Reuters

Photograph: Regis Duvignau/Reuters

I don’t know of anything more satisfying than a resplendent red wine on a winter’s evening or a crystalline white wine on a summer’s day.

Are your most discerning clients looking for unique wines that make an opulent-life even more luxurious?   Now you have the opportunity to exceed those expectations as Sonoma County Vintners announce the Inaugural Sonoma County Barrel Auction.

Licensed wine trade will have the opportunity to participate in a live auction for one-of-a-kind wine futures with lots ranging in size from five to 20 cases that include single vineyard bottlings, specific clonal selections, blends, wines aged using special barrel regimes and joint lot wines made by collaborating wineries.   All wines are “Never Before, Never Again” opportunities for heritage wine at its finest, showcasing the stylistic range and world-class quality of Sonoma County.

Auction Lots were cultivated in Sonoma County’s most highly acclaimed vineyards, handcrafted by legendary vintners, and curated by a hand-selected panel of influential Sommeliers & a Master of Wine. Every lot in the inaugural Sonoma County Barrel Auction is a masterpiece of Sonoma County winemaking. Here are a couple examples of the world-class collaborations:

Photo ~ Sonoma County Vintners

Photo ~ Sonoma County Vintners

A Russian River Valley Epoch: The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost Pinot Noir
An exclusive barrel lot by three epochs of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir history, Joseph Swan Winery (The Father), Williams Selyem (The Son) and Kosta Browne (The Holy Ghost) have joined forces to make a barrel of Swan Selection Pinot Noir from their finest lots of some of their finest vineyards in the Russian River Valley.
A Founders’ Lot from West Sonoma Coast Vintners
Featuring West Sonoma Coast Vintners founders Carroll Kemp at Red Car Wine, Ted Lemon at Littorai Wine,Vanessa Wong at Peay Vineyards, Damian Parker at Joseph Phelps Vineyards – Sonoma Coast, John Raytek at Ceritas, Akiko Freeman at Freeman, and Ehren Jordan Failla Wines in a never before collaboration on True Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. This elegant and racy Pinot Noir represents the essence of the newly petitioned West Sonoma Coast appellation. Never before have so many heralded winemakers joined together to produce such an important wine from the region. West Sonoma Coast Vintners is an association of wineries and growers who are passionate about farming wine grapes on the coastline of Sonoma County. They advocate wines with a clear identity that evoke the complexity of our region and the authenticity of its community — wines with balance, integrity, character and nuance.

Photo ~ Maple Vineyard

Photo ~ Maple Vineyard

Dry Creek Valley’s Classic Zinfandel
Four visions of the famous Maple Vineyard‘s 2014 Zinfandel by Dutcher Crossing WineryMazzocco WineryBella Winery and Vineyards, and Armida Winery. Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County is one of the most renown terroirs for growing zinfandel grapes. Maple Vineyards is 27 acres of benchland at Dry Creek and Lytton Springs Roads, a few miles northwest of Healdsburg.

This is small sampling of the more than seventy unique wine lots representing twelve Sonoma County appellations.  A complete listing of the awe-inspiring lots and information about attending the invitation only event visit the Sonoma County Vintners Barrel Auction website.

#SonomaCountyVintners #SonomaCounty #SonomaCountyBarrelAuction #WineCountry #RussianRiverValley #DryCreekValley #AlexanderValley #SonomaValley #KnightsValley #SonomaCoast #Vineyards #Wineries #BarrelAuction

A Glamorous Life in Viticulture

IMG_0716After returning home from surgery on Saturday, Tom Altemus at Red Cap Vineyards spent the next three nights answering frost alarms as Howell Mountain temperatures dropped with the recent storms.  These are part of the daily challenges a farmer faces as does anyone raising children – the timing is never convenient, the rewards aren’t immediate, and the hours are long.

In 1998, Tom and Desiree bought ten acres on Howell Mountain after the birth of their second child meant they needed more room and a great opportunity came their way. A couple of years later, stay at home dad, Tom, began vineyard planning amid studies and surveys culminating in mountains of permit paperwork. Finally in 2003, the land was cleared in time to welcome their third child and the work was to begin in earnest.


Winemaker, Rudy Zuidema, and Tom have been friends for 25 years.  They worked together before Red Cap Vineyards as chefs at Brava Terrace Restaurant in St. Helena where local winemakers brought their wares and asked the chefs to pair the wine with a custom dish.  It was here they learned what they liked and what kind of wine they wanted to make – an elegant, complex Cabernet Sauvignon.

After planting and nurturing their Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard, the first grapes were harvested in 2006 and Rudy & Tom created their first vintage – to be released just as the recession in 2008 hit and no one wanted additional wine, especially an unknown product.

So Tom began the process of turning a family farm into a viticulture business in slow measured steps.  Watching nature change the surrounding forest gently and slowly, he worked in the same way, creating an organically styled vineyard with a rich loose soil that reminds you of a forest floor when you walk on it. They pick grapes a few tons at a time as each section ripens with daily walks in the vineyard to taste seeds for a nutty ripeness and juice for its vintage characteristics. Vintage variance is evident here as each year reaches its own balance.

This working family vineyard has help from entire family as each one lends their skills in many ways from data entry to social media to pulling crickets from the grapevines.  A slow, humble way of life that creates a rich family lifestyle in a beautiful spot where you want to live now, retire eventually, and watch your grandchildren grow up.

Red Cap continued to develop their Cabernet and added a Sauvignon Blanc (from purchased grapes) as an entrance wine to get them into restaurants with great success. Now they have developed a following of friends, wine lovers, and businesses that appreciated their small production, gently made wines.


This admittedly unglamorous life-style of fighting mildew, praying for rain, praying it doesn’t rain, and answering frost alarms in the middle of the night is exactly the rich life the Altemus family has chosen. They find their own kind of glamour in a humble vineyard in the mountains above Napa Valley and a gentle lifestyle that is reflected in the land they call home.

#RedCapVineyards #NapaValley #WineCountry #Vineyard #Winery #Viticulture #Wine #Wines

Protecting Wine Country for 100 Years

IMG_0353Geyserville Fire Protection District is celebrating 100 years of Service to Sonoma County’s Wine Country including over 200 square miles of prestigious wine growing vineyards in Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley, the largest fire district in Sonoma County.

You can help celebrate this accomplishment and support them through a variety of events and  fund raisers this year.

Limited Edition Wine from Peterson Winery
IMG_0374During Passport Dry Creek Valley, Peterson Winery will be serving Geyserville Firehouse Chili & Cornbread & selling their Limited Edition 2013 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. The grapes for this wine were grown by three current and former Geyserville Fire Protection District volunteer firefighters (Bernier, Borkow, & Peterson).  All of the proceeds from the sale will benefit the Geyserville Volunteer Firefighters’ Association. Great chili, gorgeous men in uniform, and delicious Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel wine – not to be missed!  This limited edition wine will be released April 25-26 at Peterson Winery and you must have a ticket to Passport Dry Creek Valley to attend.  If the wine does not sell out, it will be available after the event at the winery and online.

Open House at the Geyserville Firehouse


Photo ~ Geyserville Fire Protection District

The annual open house for the Geyserville Fire Protection District will be held at the Geyserville Firehouse (20975 Geyserville Ave) on May 9, 2015.  Additional Information will be available on the Geyserville Fire Protection District website and Facebook page.

Additional Centennial Year Events include: Geyserville Chamber of Commerce June 9, 2015 BBQ, Wine Country to the Rescue July 18, 2015 Dinner Dance and AuctionGeyserville Volunteer Firefighters Association Pancake Breakfast Octover 25, 2015, and the always fabulous Lighted Tractor Parade on November 28, 2015.

IMG_0377If you would like to learn more about this great community resource, Ann Howard has documented the history of the Geyserville Fire Protection District from its inception in 1905.

This self-published book is available directly from Ann Howard by writing her at PO Box 639, Geyserville, CA  95441.

Proceeds from her book are also supporting the Geyserville Fire Protection District.

#Firefighters #Geyserville #DryCreekValley #AlexanderValley #PetersonWinery #WineCountrytotheRescue #WC2Resq #GeyservilleFireProtectionDistrict #GeyservilleFire #Wine #Winery #WineCountry

Savor Sonoma

Savor Sonoma 2015Meet your favorite winemakers, taste their reserve wines, sample barrels with the latest vintages, mingle with wine lovers in caves and on crush pads, enjoy live music, tour wineries and vineyards, and savor a wonderful wine country weekend.  “This year marks our 25th year and this year 20 wineries will be participating throughout Sonoma Valley! The much anticipated teaming up with local chefs and restaurants creates a truly special weekend of delicious foods paired with the amazing variety of wines produced in our valley.” said Executive Director Josie Gay.

Heart of Sonoma Valley Association (HOSVA) is an alliance of 27 wineries and tasting rooms located on scenic Sonoma Highway where for a century and a half many of the vintages that have made California wines world leaders in viticulture have been harvested. In this 10-mile stretch of the wine country, in the environs of Glen Ellen and Kenwood, you’ll find a blend of family owned and classically beautiful wineries filled with award-winning wines.

Participating Wineries:

IMG_7920B Wise Vineyards Cellar
9077 Highway 12, Suite B
Kenwood, CA 95452
(707) 282-9169
B Wise Vineyards is about the pursuit of excellence in winemaking. Our mission is to produce authentic, graceful, memorable wines. Our 100 acre vineyard estate graces the western slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains, situated in the renowned Moon Mountain District of Sonoma Valley. We invite you to join us at our tasting lounge in Kenwood to experience select limited release flagship Cabernet Sauvignons and proprietary red blends. Expect a warm welcome and flavorful, balanced site-driven wines paired with delectable bites!

Benziger Estate VineyardsBenziger Family Winery
(Check-Ins Sold Out)
1883 London Ranch Road
Glen Ellen, CA 95442
(888) 490-2739
Join the Benziger Family Winery for the 2015 Savor Sonoma Weekend and enjoy the flavors of hand crafted estate wines and experience the unique rituals of Biodynamic farming; New releases, barrel samples and culinary delights. A day to savor and sip.

IMG_8093Chateau St. Jean Winery
8555 Highway 12
Kenwood, CA 95452
(707) 833-4134
With its elegant architecture and beautiful gardens, Chateau St. Jean has long been recognized as the quintessential Sonoma winery. Meet the winemaking team behind the iconic Cinq Cépages, a stylish Bordeaux blend. Discover this gem of Sonoma Valley and its passion for crafting wines that express the best of Sonoma.


IMG_7944Deerfield Ranch Winery
10200 Sonoma Highway
Kenwood, CA 95452
(707) 833-5215
Enjoy the most unique wine tasting experience in Sonoma Valley. Through the large redwood portal doors, enter our wine cave and stroll past hundreds of barrels. Enjoy the soft aroma of oak and wine as you enter our tasting room in the middle of the cave. There you will taste Robert Rex’s exceptional blends paired with food prepared by a local chef.

IMG_8233Eric Ross Winery
(Check-Ins Sold Out)
14300 Arnold Drive
Glen Ellen, CA 95442
(707) 939-8525
Last year you enjoyed the 2013 Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon “The Immigrant” barrel sample. The bottled wine has matured wonderfully; try a taste you will want to take one home! Authentic Mexican cuisine will be paired to delight all your senses! Eric will also be pouring barrel samples of the 2014 Russian River Pinot Noir “Nick’s Block.” More temptations await with Spanish wines Albariño & Tempranillo. While supplies last Eric’s photo calendar will be included with purchases of 6 bottles.

DSCN5520Imagery Estate Winery
(Check-Ins Sold Out)
14335 Highway 12
Glen Ellen, CA 95442
(877) 550-4278
A visit to Imagery is always a journey of artful discovery, and Savor Sonoma is no different. Our gold medal winning wines blended from unique varietals influenced from regions around the world will be sampled from barrel to bottle paired with a bite or two. Come stroll the gallery and savor our flavors.

IMG_8184Kenwood Vineyards
(Check-Ins Sold Out)
9592 Sonoma Highway
Kenwood, CA 95452
(707) 282-4228
At Kenwood Vineyards let your palate savor the experience of our Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon and Jack London Zinfandel as our winemaking staff offers samples of future vintages from French oak barrels. While sipping our wines, hand crafted in the Heart of Sonoma, your taste buds will be enticed by the unique recipes we’ve chosen to pair with our award winning wines.

IMG_8227La Rochelle Winery
233 Adobe Canyon Road
Kenwood, CA 95452
(707) 302-8000
Taste a variety of small lot Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from California’s most prestigious vineyards, all in one location. Drop in to taste at our tasting bar or make an appointment for a seated tasting experience. Barrel tasting available.

This is one of our newest wineries in the area.


IMG_3638Ledson Winery & Vineyards
(Check-Ins Sold Out)
7335 Highway 12
Santa Rosa, CA 95409
(707) 537-3810
For a truly majestic experience, come to The Castle. Meet Steve Ledson and his winemaking team, taste impeccable wines straight from the barrel and enjoy our phenomenal new releases, paired with an array of epicurean delights fit for royalty. We specialize in limited production wines sold exclusively at the winery, through our wine club or online. Take advantage of special pricing offered only at this event.

Little Vineyards Family Winery
(Check-Ins Sold Out)
15188 Sonoma Highway
Glen Ellen, CA 95442
(707) 996-2750
Join Rich and Joan Little and the Family as we celebrate Savor Sonoma with live music, delicious mouthwatering BBQ that pairs so well with our estate red wines. Taste barrel samples, 2013 Syrah and 2013 Cabernet with winemaker, Ted Coleman. Futures will be available for purchase. Come and taste a LITTLE and enjoy a lot!

IMG_8743Loxton Cellars
11466 Dunbar Road
Glen Ellen, CA 95442
(707) 935-7221
Fourth generation winegrower Chris Loxton celebrates heritage and tradition with new releases and barrel samples of wines that reflect our roots. The inaugural “Pioneer Cuvee” is a Zinfandel blend paying tribute to the field blends of the Valley’s early vineyards. The Cabernet Shiraz and Ellen Syrah pay tribute to the family vineyards in Australia. Enjoy Estate grown Rose and (gold medal) Port from a vineyard with some of the Valley’s best views. Vineyard walks will be offered on the hour to showcase farming and the beauty of the Valley.

IMG_8196Mayo Family Winery
13101 Arnold Drive
Glen Ellen, CA 95442
(707) 938-9401
Visit with members of the Mayo family and compare our single vineyard wines straight from the barrel to their past vintages already in bottle. Enjoy artisan bites of food created by Executive Chef, Clayton Lewis, that are perfectly paired with our award-winning wines. Winemaker, Mike Berthoud, will also be on hand thieving wine futures out of the barrel and answering all of your burning wine inquiries! Stop by for a fun filled and educational weekend!

IMG_8091Muscardini Cellars
9380 Sonoma Highway
Kenwood, CA 95452
(707) 933-9305
We invite you to visit Muscardini Cellars, home of exceptional hand crafted wines. Come taste our Italian Varietals and don’t forget our big Cabs and blends. Our tasting room offers an intimate wine country experience with a large outdoor patio and breathtaking views of vineyards and the Mayacamas Mountains. Enjoy our Gold Medal and Best-of-Class wines. Meet winemaker Michael Muscardini while savoring tastes directly from the barrel. Enjoy choice food pairings form Chef Catherine Venturini of Olive and Vine.

NakedWines.com Wine Studio and Tasting Lounge
8450 Sonoma Highway
Kenwood, CA 95452
(707) 408-0011
Celebrate the art of food and wine with independent winemakers. Through customer funding, we’ve given winemakers the opportunity to make their dream wine and have their own label. They’ve paired their wines, from tank and barrel, with the perfect bite and want to share their passion for flavor with you. Live music and purple tongues guaranteed!

IMG_8176Orpheus Wines
8910 Highway 12, Suite 12B
Kenwood, CA 95452
(707) 282-9231
Savor the beauty of small batch, handcrafted wines. Winemaker Marc Krafft serves up the best current and future releases with locally sourced food pairings to delight your senses. We warmly welcome you to our new tasting room and wire art gallery, with wine on tap, fun community events, and sustainable innovations. From Gold Medal Pinot Noir to Sparkling Orange Muscat, Orpheus Wines has food-friendly wines for every palate.

IMG_8171Paradise Ridge Winery
8860 Sonoma Highway
Kenwood, CA 95452
(707) 282-9020
Paradise Ridge Winery is going GREEN – green-a-licious that is! Indulge in a unique wine country experience with our sense-ational Wine & Herb tasting Paired up perfectly with Rosso’s famous Burrata! Enjoy scrumptious lemon Basil infused burrata Paired with our 2014 Grandview Sauvignon Blanc, Sweet Genovese Basil & fresh strawberries Burrata paired with a thieved sample from the barrel of our 2014 Convict Zinfandel.

IMG_8092St. Anne’s Crossing Winery
8450 Sonoma Highway
Kenwood, CA 95452
(707) 598-5200
As the Sonoma Valley’s premier Zinfandel house, we’re delivering a unique side by side all Zin tasting across 6 appellations including Sonoma, Dry Creek, Russian River, Mendocino, Alexander Valley and Rockpile. Sip and swirl with our winemaker, four time sweepstakes winner, Chris Barrett. He’s bringing out three never before tasted Zins from the 2013 vintage, each paired with a scrumptious bite! Live music and unforgettable wines will set the tone for this epicurean weekend.

IMG_8153St. Francis Winery & Vineyards
100 N. Pythian Road
Santa Rosa, CA 95409
(707) 833-0242
Join us at our Sonoma Valley Visitors Center for a taste of Sonoma. Sip award-winning wines paired with mouth-watering bites crafted by our in-house Executive Chef while taking in the sweeping vineyard views and the majestic mountain backdrop.



IMG_8172Ty Caton Vineyards
8910 Sonoma Highway
Kenwood, CA 95452
(707) 833-0526
We invite you to visit Ty Caton Vineyards – the home of exclusively estate produced artisan Sonoma valley wines – and revel in the atmosphere of the tasting room that knows how to have fun! We offer the best of the wine country: award-winning wines, intimate hospitality, and great people. You will be greeted by Winemaker Ty Caton and can experience firsthand the passion behind the wines.

IMG_7915VJB Vineyards & Cellars
60 Shaw Avenue
Kenwood, CA 95452
(707) 833-2300
Celebrate spring on the Italian-inspired piazza, sipping barrel wines and sampling owner Maria Belmonte’s delicious homemade pastas or pizzas from the wood oven. This weekend is the first chance to try and buy limited production Italian varietals like Sangiovese and Barbera which sell out almost as soon as they’re released. Guests will also enjoy performances by the Wine Country Tenors daily at 1 PM. Cap off a visit with something sweet from the chocolate and gelato shop.
Enter to Win a Celebrity Cruises Modern Luxury Gift Basket during Savor!
There’s a world just waiting for you to discover it. Go Celebrity. All 7 continents with 10 award-winning ships. Celebrity offers itineraries and vacation packages that visit all seven continents–a total of 286 ports of call in 80 countries. Stop by their tables at two wineries to be announced to find out about their modern luxury experiences and be sure to enter to win their Celebrity Gift Basket Prize Giveaway.

Transportation Partner:
Beau Wine Tours is offering HOSVA guests a 15% discount year round on private/group transportation. Call Beau Wine Tours toll free at (800) 387-2328 extension #1 and mention “Heart of Sonoma Valley” for your special discount.

Transportation Special:
Destination Drivers has special rates for the Savor Sonoma weekend! Our driver will pick you up where you’re staying, drive your car to the wineries and special places you want to experience, then bring you back “home.” No worries about directions, traffic or parking. Help planning your adventure gladly provided. Call for details, and be sure to mention Savor Sonoma. 707-293-8137.

Accommodations Special:
The Flamingo Resort has special, discounted rates available during Savor Sonoma Valley, Saturday, March 21, 2015: $179 Superior King or Double-Double, $199 Executive King, $259 Suites. (*Plus 14% occupancy tax.) Please call 800-848-8300 and identify yourself as part of “Savor Sonoma Valley” to make a reservation.

What: 2015 Savor Sonoma Valley – A Premium Wine & Culinary Experience
When: Saturday, March 21 & Sunday, March 22, 2015
Where: Twenty Wineries throughout Sonoma Valley
Time: 11 AM – 4 PM both days
Cost: $65 per person for the weekend/$20 for designated drivers. Sunday-Only ticket for $50
per person. Ticket includes a souvenir wine glass & access to event tastings at all
participating wineries.
Info: For tickets and info please visit heartofsonomavalley.com or call 707-431-1137.
Advance ticket purchase is strongly recommended as tickets are limited.

#SavorSonoma #HeartofSonomaValley #HeartofSonoma #BWise #Benziger #ChateauStJean #DeerfieldRanch #EricRoss #Imagery #Kenwood #GlenEllen #LaRochelle #Ledson #LittleVineyards #Loxton #MayoFamily #Muscardini #NakedWines #Orpheus #ParadiseRidge #StAnnesCrossing #StFrancis #TyCaton #VJB

Sonoma County Barrel Tasting Weekend

IMG_222337th Annual Barrel Tasting along the Wine Road in Northern Sonoma County will feature 100+ Wineries and held on two weekends March 6- 8 & March 13-15, 2015 from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm each day.

This is the final of three classic events hosted by The Wine Road. Unlike the two previous events, this is not a food-pairing or themed event, but a chance to test your palate and purchase “futures” on wine.

With the third fabulous harvest (2012-2014) now in barrels and 2012-2103 already receiving critical acclaim from many sources, futures on these wines are in high demand and many of them are limited releases so that the purchase of futures, may be the only way to acquire some of these wines.

IMG_5883So how does this work – first think about the kind of wine your are interested in purchasing and then select some of our fabulous producers that make these wines.  Below is an anticipated list of participating wineries organized by general area to help you out – always check the event website for current information.

Then pack a picnic lunch or some snacks to pair with your wine of choice.  Now plan your day – I usually anticipate that I can stop by no more than 4-5 wineries in one day and often even fewer because I want to enjoy what each winery has to offer and to learn about the wines I may be purchasing.

IMG_3335Once you are are at the winery your ticket price includes the opportunity to sample wine from the barrel and in most cases also try a limited number of current release wine.  So sample away and then when you find those perfect wines – purchase them, often at a discount over they release price.  To actually acquire the wine you will normally come back to the winery when the wine is bottled, typically 12-18 months from now or have the wine shipped to you.

I will be out and about enjoying our fabulous wines, if you see me, please say hello and tell me about your favorite and I will feature you and the winery in my social media posts.

Participating Wineries include the following (please note some are only for one weekend).  They are organized by area for your convenience.  For specific addresses and locations check the event map.

Alexander Valley
Alexander Valley Vineyards *
deLorimier Winery (F)
Field Stone Winery & Vineyard (F) *
HANNA Winery – Alexander Valley (F) *
J. Rickards (F) *
Robert Young Estate Winery *
Simi Winery *
Soda Rock Winery (F) *
Starlite Vineyards (F) *
Trione Winery (F) 1st wkd. only
Trentadue Winery * 1st wkd. only
White Oak Vineyards & Winery 1st wkd. only
Dry Creek Valley
Amphora Winery (F)
Armida Winery (F)
Cast Wines (F) *
Chateau Diana Winery (F)
Collier Falls Vineyards (F) *
Dashe Cellars (F) *
David Coffaro Winery (F)
De La Montanya (F) 1st wkd. only
Dutcher Crossing Winery * 1st wkd. only
Everett Ridge Winery (F) *
Forth Vineyards (F) *
Fritz Underground Winery (F)
Geyser Peak Winery (new location)
Kachina Vineyards (F) *
Kokomo Winery 1st wkd. only
Lago di Merlo Vineyards & Winery (F) *
Martorana Family Winery 1st wkd. only
Mauritson Family Winery * 1st wkd. only
Mazzocco Sonoma Winery (F) *
Mietz Callars (F) *
Mill Creek Vineyards & Winery (F) *
Mounts Family Winery (F)
Papapietro Perry (F)
Pedroncelli Winery (F) *
Philip Staley Vineyards & Winery (F) *
Quivira Vineyards 1st wkd. only
Ridge Vineyards
Rued Vineyards & Winery (F) *
Sbragia Family Vineyards (F) * 1st wkd. only
Talty Winery 1st wkd. only
F. Teldeschi Winery
Trattore Estate Wines *
Truett Hurst Wienry (F) *
West Wines (F) *
Wilson Winery (F) *
Zichichi Winery (F) * 1st wkd. only
Geyserville – In Town
Locals Tasting Room
The Meeker Vineyard
Mercury Wine (F) *
Pech Merle (F)
Route 128 Winery (F)
Ramazzotti Wines (F) *
Healdsburg – In Town
Blanchard Family Wines
Bluenose (F) *
C. Donatiello Winery 1st wkd. only
Davis Family Vineyards (F) *
Hart’s Desire Wines (F) *
Hawley Winery
Holdredge Wines (F)
Hudson Street Wineries (F) *
J. Keverson Winery (F) *
Kelley & Young Wines (F) *
Kobler Estate (F)
Longboard Vineyards *
Malm Cellars (F)
Manzanita Creek Winery (F) *
Optima Winery (F) 1st wkd. only
Pezzi King (F) *
Portalupi Wines (F) * 1st wkd. only
Roadhouse Winery
Sapphire Hill Winery (F) *
Selby Winery (F) *
Skewis Wines (F) *
Stephen & Walker (F) *
Topel Winery Tasting Room (F) *
Valdez Family Winery (F)
Williamson Wines (F) *
Russian River Valley
ACORN Winery/Alegria Vineyard (F) *
Balletto Vineyards (F)
Battaglini Estate Winery (F) *
Benovia Winery (F) * 1st wkd. only
Chalk Hill *
Christopher Creek Winery (F)
DeLoach Vineyards *
Dutton Estate Winery (F)
Fog Crest Vineyard (F)
Foppiano Vineyards (F) * 1st wkd. only
Graton Ridge Cellars (F) *
HANNA Winery – Russian River Valley (F) *
Harvest Moon Winery (F) *
HKG Estate, Hop Kiln Vineyards (F)
Hook & Ladder Winery (F)
Inman Family Winery (F) *
Jigar Wines *
Joseph Swan Vineyards (F) * 1st wkd. only
Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Garden
Korbel Champagne Cellars *
Lauterbach Cellars (F) *
Martin Ray Winery (F) *
Matrix Winery (F) *
Merriam Vineyards (F) *
Moshin Vineyards * 1st wkd. only
Occidental Road Cellars (F) *
Old World Winery (F)
Paradise Ridge Winery (F) *
Porter Creek Vineyards (F) *
Red Car Wine Company (F) *
Robert Rue Winery (F)
Rodney Strong Vineyards * 1st wkd. only
Roth Estate (F) *
Russian River Vineyards (F) *
Sunce Winery (F)
Taft Street Winery (F) *
Viszlay Vineyards (F) *
VML Winery (F) *
Santa Rosa – In Town
Carol Shelton Wines (F)
Cellar of Sonoma (F)
D’Argenzio Winery (F) *
Desmond Wines (F)
Inspiration Vineyards & Winery (F)
Krutz Family Cellars (F) *
Lattanzio Wines (F) 8
Lost Canyon Winery (F)
Premonition Cellars (F)
Sheldon Wines (F) *
Siduri Wines & Novy Family Winery (F)
Windsor – In Town
Colagrossi Wines (F)
Deux Amis Winery (F) *
Vino Valpredo Wine Co. (F)

(F) indicates barrel tasting on Friday as well as Sat & Sun
* indicates no groups over 8, no limos

#WineCounty #SonomaCounty #Event #BarrelTasting #Wine #Wines #Winery #Wineries #Futures #DiscoverRRV #RussianRiverValley #DryCreekValley #AlexanderValley #Healdsburg #SantaRosa #Geyserville #Windsor #WineTasting

All is Well that’s Zinfandel


Jack Florence Vineyard Rockpile AVA Sonoma County

Zinfandel (originally tribidrag in Croatia), most identified with California, traveled here in the early 19th century. Some of those vineyards are now among the oldest in North America, having survived prohibition, depression, drought, disease (like phylloxera), and more. Vineyards like these are American treasures, and organizations like the Historic Vineyard Society are working to preserve them.  This month at 2015 Zinfandel Experience, you will be able to explore every aspect of this interesting varietal from young plantings to heritage vines made by young innovative winemakers to veterans that define the history of zinfandel.  My favorite part is that this experience is educational and food-friendly, after all Zinfandel is meant for the table.  Also, many of the current releases will be from the 2012 vintage.  In California, the summer of 2012 was mild and extremely dry.  For Zinfandel, a notoriously unevenly ripening grape, these were fabulous conditions and vintners were harvesting clusters that where plump and regularly formed.  I am looking for rich, juicy, and savory Zinfandels to make my mouth water from both warm- and cool-climate vineyards.

The Zinfandel Experience is the largest single varietal tasting I have ever attended and well hosted by ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers), an organization of Zinfandel enthusiasts that study and celebrate the Zinfandel grape, connect with one another, and educate the public about Zinfandel’s place in America’s history and culture.

The January events running from the 29th through the 31st at two locations in San Francisco and has something for everyone’s taste and budget.  I usually move into my brother’s house for a couple of days and attend them all.

Ridge East Bench Vineyard Dry Creek Valley

Ridge East Bench Vineyard Dry Creek Valley

Thursday begins with a chance to “Feed Your Epicuriosity” at Epicuria where you can pair sophisticated to whimiscal culinary creations made by top chefs with 30+ amazing Zinfandels. This Thursday night food and wine pairing has always been one of my favorites.  You get to push your palate with pairings that range from tiramisu and cheesecake to duck rillette and beef bourguignon as you experience the range of Zinfandel expression that our talented winemakers produce.  This event is at the Golden Gate Club, Presidio, San Francisco. 6:00-8:30 pm.

Friday, Jan 30th will be a full day with Flights beginning at 10:30 am in the Four Season Hotel. Flights features a professional tasting seminar with a focus on highly allocated, limited production Zinfandels. Learn insights from the experts and experience the range, depth and character of the wines. ZAP will once again partner with the Historic Vineyard Society to present wines from exceptional old Zinfandel vineyards.  Fans of Contra Costa County, Amador County, and Dry Creek Valley historical Zinfandel vineyards should not miss this presentation.

For me the pièce de résistance is the Winemaker Reception and Dinner.  This event can be attended as just a reception or with the dinner, but I would highly recommend both.  Some 15 years ago, my first dinner was with Joel Peterson of Ravenswood and his son, Morgan Twain-Peterson (now with Bedrock).  After that evening of stories and the honest love of Zinfandel, I was hooked.  You are seated with a winemaker that pairs his/her wine with each course.  The theme this year is Mad Men, so come ready for a sleek, stylish, and jazzy evening.  The silent auction is full of interesting items, we have purchased a Zinfandel tasting on a yacht while watching the Giants play ball, tons of large format bottles, and hard to acquire wines from great winemakers and heritage vineyards.

If you aren’t exhausted, Saturday is the day to catch any vintner you missed or explore new Zinfandel avenues at the Grand Tasting.  A Reserve and Barrel Tasting with VIP and All Day Ticket purchase is my favorite as well as the complimentary Sommelier & Winemakers Terroir Workshop.  Come prepared to expand your horizons and experience Zinfandel in ways that you have never imagined.

zap_banner_2015Tickets sell out for many of the high demand sessions quickly, so purchase early.  Individual ticket prices range from $80 for the Grand Tasting to $275 for the winemaker dinner. Join ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers) for the deepest discounts or use the PROMO CODE: VINOGRAPHY to get a 10% discount.

Look for me at the event and say hello or follow me on twitter and instagram as I post my activities for the week.

#TheZinfandelExperience #Zinfandel #ZAP #ZinfandelExperience #SanFrancisco

Sommeliers Create Memories

IMG_4491-SmAlthough the role of Sommelier involves endless hours of hard work and continuing education behind the scenes, it is that front-of-the-house guidance to an elegant and memorable meal that we all remember.

If you are not familiar with the rigorous testing required to become a Master Sommelier there is a movie called SOMM that gives you glimse into their world (or perhaps just watch the trailer). What we don’t often see in a restaurant is what the Sommelier does before and after the service begins.

Obviously, a Master Sommelier must be professional wine taster, but additionally they go over the wine list with the wait staff and kitchen personnel; take charge of purchasing the wines and creating the wine list based on the chef’s recipes; handle the wine inventory and cellaring; and then on their days off, they are expected to familiarize themself with new wines and even visit wineries for tastings.  Hardly an entry-level occupation to make sure each and every patron receives the perfect recommendation to compliment their food and fit their budget.

Master SommelierTo highlight this often under-appreciated role, Delta Airlines is hosting a series of Blind Tasting Competitions.  The lastest of these events was at Flavor Napa hosted by Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson with fellow Master Sommeliers Ian Cauble of Somm Select, and Emily Papach of Jackson Family Wines, and Jay James of Chappellet Winery along with an impressive array of talented Sommeliers in the process of Master certification.

Estate Caves at Meritage Resort & Spa

Estate Caves at Meritage Resort & Spa

Flavor Napa is a dazzling array of Napa Valley’s master chefs and graduates of The Culinary Institute of America’s program creating heavenly epicurean delights to pair with the world-class wines of Napa Valley, but in no other Flavor Napa event is the Master Sommelier’s role highlighted as it is in the Blind Tasting Competition.

During Flavor Napa‘s Top Taster Blind Tasting Competition, it was impressive to watch the professionals demostrate their hard-earned skills.  In under five minutes they could completely analyze a wine’s aroma, palate, structure, varietal, region of origin, and vintage.  But this blind tasting was a little different – the Sommeliers used their background to educate those of us who are not as austute with wine instead of just to compete with each other.

IMG_4494As amateur blind tasters, we were given a practice wine (used for the Sommelier demonstration), then two white wines, and four red wines.  We were told the wines could either be from the Napa Valley appellation or a classic old world wine.  As we tasted through the wines, the Sommeliers walked through the group gently asking questions about what we were experiencing and expertly answering inquiries when we needed a little more guidance – to learn – to grow – and to enjoy the adventure of wine tasting without the intimidation of failure.  In other words, they practiced many of the skills they use every day to gentle learn what we know, what we like, and how to make wine approachable for all of us.

IMG_4514The wines were excellent, but challenging – a white that I thought was a Viognier was a Chardonnay.  But after we submitted our tasting forms, one of the Master Sommeliers walked through each wine with the other Sommeliers and we were able to witness them exploring their path through the clues of grape characteristics, winemaking techniques, and possible regions of production. From this I learned what parts I understood and what parts were opportunities to learn.  We were then able to re-visit the wine and see it anew through this acquired knowledge. A great way to learn without intimidation or judgment.

During the red tasting, my tablemates, a wonderful couple from San Francisco, identified a Sangiovese and then realized it was old-world as they described it to the Sommelier through encouraging questions about what they were tasting.  It was wonderful to see the light go on in their eyes as they found their own answer through an excellent educator.

Decanting WineIn a restaurant too, a Sommelier can share information about wines – what are the characteristics of the dish you have selected – what are some possible wine selections that might enhance that dish within your budget – but most of all what a glorious avenue of discovery a new wine might be.

Sommeliers are our bridge between food and wine turning a dining experience into a treasured memory – that perfect bottle of wine – the one that made a glorious meal with family or friends an event that you talk about many years afterwards!

Next time you are in a restaurant with a good wine list and Sommelier, be kind enough to let them do their job and I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised at the discoveries that await you in their knowledgeable hands. And the next time Flavor Napa comes around, be sure to visit our wonderful valley – they never disappoint either.

#FlavorNapa #NapaValley #Wine #Winetasting #Sommelier #MasterSommelier #WineEducation #BlindTasting #Event #Competition