Category Archives: Wine Accessory

Holiday Shopping in Wine Country

Wine Caddies at Imagery Winery, Kenwood CA

Wine Caddies at Imagery Winery include Cowboys, Firemen, Chefs, Cyclists, Golfers, Pilots, Fishermen, Pets, Boaters and many more – great selection of a unique gift item for the wine lover in your family

Whether looking for a gift for your favorite wine lover, friend, or pet – Wineries have more to offer than just fabulous wines.  I went out over the weekend to find some great last minute gifts from some of my favorite spots.  If you have another treasure, I’d love to hear about it. Wine Tasting while Gift Shopping is the perfect combination to reduce stress during the Holidays.

Glassware and Decanters are always a popular idea featuring seasonal or wine designs, these items will enhance any party or provide a great hostess gift.  A couple of my favorite spots for glassware include J Winery (especially for sparkling stemware) an Cast Wines, both also feature beautiful decanters.


J Winery, Sparkling Wine Glassware and Carriers


Cast Wines Decanters and Glassware








Hostess Gifts, Household Designer Items, and Wine Country Souvenirs are available in both the Ferrari Carano Showrooms.  Their downtown Healdsburg location, called Seasons of the Vineyard Wine Shop specializes in the household & hostess gifts as well as chocolate while the Dry Creek Valley Tasting Room at the Winery has beautiful Wine Country souvenirs, large format and library wine selections. Also note the Wine Caddies featured in the opening photo from Imagery Winery – these unique items are beautifully made and feature a variety of professions and hobbies. One final location with a great gift shop is at St. Francis Winery – they feature a lot of local artisans.


Ferrari Carano Wine Country Souvenirs, Large Format Wines & Library Wines


Season of the Vineyard Hostess Gifts & Household Gifts – I Love the Glass Sushi Trays









Artwork featuring wine themes and many local artisans are featured at many wineries, especially during our Art Walks, but wineries that have regular installations for sale include Passaggio Winery and Thumbprint Cellars. I am sure there are many others and traveling displays are often featured during special events.  I love to hear about your favorite as this is a gift I purchase all year long.


Thumbprint Cellars’ year-round galary of local artists is unique, they also feature glassware and candles


Passaggio Winery is current featuring Sandra Speidel’s Motion Series & Custom Chocolates









Olive Oil is another staple in Wine Country with an affinity for similar growing conditions grapes and olives co-exist well.  Flavored Olive Oils, usually blood orange, lime, or lemon, and green to aged oil varieties are available directly from the source.  Two of my favorite spots to pick up these goodies are the Gourmet Shop at BR Cohn Winery and Trattore’s New Tasting Room in Dry Creek Valley.  Also look for other gourmet foods and vinegars.


B.R Cohn Winery and Olive Oil Company – Check out their Gourmet Shop next to the Winery


Trattore Winery & Dry Creek Olive Oil Company have a beautiful new Tasting Room in Dry Creek Valley









Finally, if you are a Sparkling Wine fan and have taken up the saber to learn The Art of Sabrage for New Years, then get ready for modern designs to traditional Nepoleon inspired styles at many of our Sparkling Tasting Rooms and Wineries, including Sigh Sonoma, Cast Wines, and Breathless Wines.


Sigh Sonoma features Laguiole (French) sabers as well as domestic and international bubbles


Breathless Tasting Room features Sabrage Demonstrations during events with Italian blades









If we make it through Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years, I guess we can start looking for chocolates for Valentines Day.  I’m always ready for Chocolate too.

#ImageryWinery #JWinery #CastWines #StFrancisWinery #FerrariCarano #ThumbprintCellars #PassaggioWinery #BRCohn #Trattore #DryCreekOliveOil #SighSonoma #BreathlessWines #RackandRiddle #Holiday #Shopping #Winery #Wineries #Wine #Glassware #Stemware #Decanters #OliveOil #Art #WineArt #Saber #Sabrage #SparklingWine #Bubbles #Chocolate #Hostess #Gifts #Household #Souvenirs #Wines #LargeFormat #LibraryWine

A Wine and Food Affair

IMG_3571I love wine for many reasons, but most of all because of the memories I have of sharing a great bottle of wine with family and friends. These gatherings have usually included copious amounts of fabulous food as well as some amazing wines.

One of The Wine Road‘s signature events, A Wine and Food Affair, highlights this Wine Country tradition of pairing local food and wine which is why it is one of my favorites. The 16th annual Wine & Food Affair was held Nov 1-2, 2014 featuring wineries in Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley, and Dry Creek Valley (American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in Sonoma County). Additionally, wine tasting rooms in Healdsburg participated – many of which have vineyards in these AVAs.

Since good wine festivals offer many excellent choices, everyone needs a plan of action to make the most of these events. So let me start with a couple of suggestions and then tell you how I planned my affair with wine for this weekend adventure.


A Wine and Food Affair is a festival where participants travel to multiple locations to try wine, meet the winemaker, sample excellent pairings, and enjoy the venues. I love that it enables participants to discover the personality of each winery by seeing the people in their natural habitat – whether it be a warehouse, an urban storefront or surrounded by vineyards and breathtaking views.  But since this does involve travel, the first choice is to select a designated driver. Second, make an action plan of what your goal is for the event.  Sometimes, I choose a wine varietal – for this event, I selected a wine region – the Dry Creek Valley. Finally, be realistic about the number of wine or wineries you will be able to visit – both by the distance between faciities and whether you plan to consume the wines or spit them out (yes, this is acceptable).  

IMG_3246-SmSonoma County is largely a county of family farmers and Dry Creek Valley is no exception. In many locations you will find family members in the winery or tasting room proudly sharing their wares. Dry Creek Valley is rightfully acclaimed for a number of varietals, but this intimate (16-mile long x 2-mile wide) valley has been kind to Zinfandel. Nearly 2,400 acres of Zinfandel are farmed in Dry Creek Valley and it is one of the densest concentrations of Old Vine Zinfandel in the world. Dry Creek Valley, long noted for its fertile landscape became one of the first California wine regions to be recognized as an official American Viticultural Area (AVA) with almost 10,000 acres under vine and approximately 50 wineries. Long, warm days allow the fruit to fully ripen with coastal cooling in the evening to enable the grapes to mature slowly while retaining their acidity. These are the perfect growing conditions for Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, Bordeaux, and Rhone varietals that are food-friendly and appeal to consumers and sommeliers alike.

IMG_3253My goal for this two-day adventure was to find some new food and wine pairing ideas and explore a couple of wineries not open to the public without an appointment.  The surprise winery for me was Simoncini Vineyards, a destination winery built solely by local artisans in a massive cave.  The grounds include intimate picnic settings along a winter creek and a wine tasting bar inside the cave. Simoncini produces Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel from vineyards in Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Rockpile.  I enjoyed the friendly atmosphere of a small staff that knows the details of winery.

IMG_3295For food pairings there were many standards and some of my long-term favorites like duck and polenta served with Pinot Noir.  The photograph shows the one served by Forchini Vineyards and Winery and paired with a vertical selection of their Russian River Valley Proprietor’s Reserve Pinot Noir which is estate grown & bottled.  The lovely patio setting to enjoy the food and wine and speak with the winemaker added to the enjoyment of the visit.

IMG_3572Another delicious pinot pairing was from Papapietro-Perry Winery in which the sauce for the slider included their 2011 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and was then paired with the same wine.  This winery produces Chardonnay, Zinfandel, and Pinot Noir.  I like their single-vineyard Pinot Noirs and a wonderful way to experience them is to try their Pinot on the Patio, a seated wine and cheese pairing which includes five wines and is conducted by a knowledgeable wine educator from their staff.

IMG_3402-SmOne of the more unique and fun pairings was from the always eclectic and fun team at Kokomo Winery. It was an apple-pear chutney made with Kokomo verjus.  Verjus is the pressed juice of unripened grapes.  The French term vert jus (green juice) refers to the high-acid, low-sugar grapes that winemakers thin from the vines just when the crop is beginning to ripen. Unlike wine, however, verjus is not fermented, and is not alcoholic.  Kokomo paired the chutney with their 2012 Chardonnay.

IMG_3283But my favorite pairing was the Zinfandel Barrel Stave Grilled Hangar Steak with 2012 Fritz Estate Grown Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. Fritz Underground Winery is a small, family-owned, subterranean winery that has been producing wines since 1979. When you visit be sure to book a tour of their wine cave and underground winery facility and learn about gravity-flow winemaking.  It is located just a short distance from downtown Cloverdale on the far northern side of Dry Creek Valley.

IMG_3327-SmThis event included so much more than just food and wine – as you visit many of these family owned and operated wineries they often share other local artisans with you as well.  No one did this better than Vicky & Mike Farrow, proprietors at Amista Vineyards. They regularly feature art work by Carole Rae Watanabe (photo at the left is an image of one of her works) and she was on hand with paint bushes, art work, and information galore. Wine glass holders were available from 3G Designs which are always usefully with food and wine pairings. Did I mention they had chocolate! Amista featured Cocotutti chocolate which always has fun and artsy chocolates that are so delicious. Can wine drinkers ever so no to chocolate?  There sure seemed to be a fair amount of it in Dry Creek Valley this weekend.  If you are looking for sparkling wine in Dry Creek Valley this is one of the only sparkling producers here and the only one that I know that makes a sparkling Syrah. Additionally they produce Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Syrah, and Cabernet (from my favorite place Rockpile AVA).  Friendly and nice doesn’t begin to cover the way you feel when you meet these warm and gracious winery hosts, Vicky and Mike.

IMG_3272-SmFinally, I have to give a nod to all of the winegrape growers in the Dry Creek Valley that work hard to maintain healthy vineyards that are sustainable, organic, and/or biodynamic and the efforts that many of them have made to protect and restore Dry Creek for which this valley was named. I would specifically like to mention Gio Martorana of Martorana Family Winery who last week received The National Private Lands Fish and Wildlife Stewardship Award from The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies for his work with the restoration of Dry Creek. Their organic winery and vineyard is located on West Dry Creek Road.

IMG_3321As you can see, even with my limited wish list and narrow focus, I found many wonderful treasures while enjoying The Wine Road in Dry Creek Valley for A Wine and Food Affair.  If you would like suggestions for wineries to visit in Dry Creek Valley, please feel free to ask or visit my Dry Creek Valley webpage. I will also offer suggestions for any of our other wonderful wine regions in Sonoma County and I am working on webpages for those regions.

You don’t need to wait an entire year to enjoy a Wine Road event – in January The Wine Road will be hosting the 23rd Annual Winter WINEland and in March the 37th Annual Barrel Tasting.  I am going to be in the Russian River Valley for Winter WINEland and Alexander Valley for the Barrel Tasting, please join me or plan you own journey to Sonoma County Wine Country. To make the most of these events, I highly suggest a plan of action and some good friends to share the experience.

#TheWineRoad #WineRoad #WFA2014 #AWineandFoodAffair #DryCreekValley #AlexanderValley #RussianRiverValley #Healdsburg #Wine #Wineries #Winemakers #Winetasting

Genesis versus Coravin – How do You Preserve Your Wine?

IMG_3170 SmallNapa Technology, makers of the WineStation®, launched their single bottle commercial (Genesis Pro) and residental (Genesis) wine preservation systems for both still and sparkling wine at Raymond Vineyards last night.

Either Genesis system dispenses preserved wine an ounce or glass at a time to allow tasting or service without consuming (or wasting) the remainder of the bottle. Since both Genesis systems come with multiple IntelliCorks (10 commercial or 3 residental) multiple varietals can be opened at any time and stored outside the machine.

Napa Technology presented a champagne that had been open 4 days and red and white still wines that were opened on October 17, 2014 (10 days).  All of the wines tasted fresh, but I had not tried a recently opened bottle of the varietals, so I was unable to tell any changes in the wine.  I would have preferred a newly opened as well as a 30 day bottle for comparative purposes.

Genesis Champagne

The obvious advantages over a Coravin Wine Access system (which I have been happily using for almost a year) are the Genesis system will work on any type of closure (screw top, natural cork or synthetic).  Additionally, the Genesis system works on champagne / sparkling wine as well as still wine.

Sparkling wine is advertised to last for up to 5 days and still wine for 1-60 days.  The Genesis system gives commercial facilities the ability to serve more wines by the glass and the consumer the ability to drink wine(s) over a number of days. The convenient size will work in most settings and accommodates 750 ml and magnum size bottles in a free standing model.

The commercial version of the Genesis system retails at $899 and the residental system at $499. Gas cannisters come with both models and additional IntelliCorks and cannisters can be ordered from the Genesis website.

#Genesis #NapaTechnology #Wine #WineAccessories #WinePreservation