Monday, December 27, 2010

12/27 - Jim Kimmel, Chef William Bloxsom-Carter.

Jim Kimmel - Owner - Kimmel Vineyards
Headed by matriarch Lillian and guided by her three sons Jim, Gary, and Dennis, all generations of the Kimmel Family have joined in our winemaking venture. Most often, you'll find Jim in Southern California, introducing our wine to notable chefs and sommeliers then heading back to Mendocino to taste and perfect the upcoming vintage. Closer to the ranch, Gary travels throughout Sonoma and Mendocino counties, following up on the latest shipment of barrels or corks, checking in with Mark at the Vineyard. Dennis tries to keep them both on track with the reporting! Nieces and nephews have joined in the sales effort as well as guided our usage of green farming practices at the ranch. Needless- to-say, we all are thrilled to find yet another reason to gather around "Nana's" ranch table! For nearly fifty years, three generations of our family have enjoyed the natural beauty and diverse flora and fauna of Kimmel Ranch. It is a welcome place to gather and and even more stunning place to explore, no matter the season. Now, as we usher in a new era on the Ranch, we are working even harder to maintain a healthy ecological balance through sustainable farming practices. Our commitment to the land has carried us from cattle ranching to the vineyards. Our practices permeate every area of our operations out to the unplanted habitat acres and extending to the people who work in our vineyards. We continue to look for ways to improve our practices including solar, water, and wind power opportunities. All that we do and plan to do is with the sole purpose of producing the best possible grapes and absolutely delicious wine for you!

Chef William Bloxsom- Carter  - Executive Chef - Playboy Enterprises, Inc.
Chef Carter’s official title is Executive Chef, but at the Playboy Mansion West this is a position that defies definition, as it’s a one-of-a kind job that requires the artistic sensitivity of a symphony conductor as well a tax accountant’s acute sense of organization. The Mansion’s two kitchens support a private household, a private hotel, a fine dining room and is the central entertainment hub for most all promotional activities of Playboy Enterprises, Inc. on the west coast. Overnight guests of the company, usually business partners from around the globe, enjoy the same service offered by any five-star hotel that they might have chosen for their trip. Then there are the numerous promotional events, luncheons and dinners that we host here for our marketing partners. The Mansion grounds are also the setting of several celebrity-studded charity galas throughout the year that each take weeks of preparation. It’s a very busy place; keeping it all running in sync is the challenge that motivates me each day. It’s actually hard work that’s great fun,” Chef Carter said, with a surprising enthusiasm that belies his twenty three-year history at The Mansion. This man obviously loves what he does for a living and it shows in his easygoing approach to what seems like a daunting job. The chef supervises a crew of 18 chefs, plus support staff and interns, working around the clock to stay ahead of the calendar of events hosted by The Mansion as well as the daily menu to service the needs of residents and guests. Chef Carter is especially proud of the visiting intern program that he has developed in collaboration with some of the best culinary schools in the country.  "Our criteria for acceptance is quite rigid, but once accepted, the students enter a program that is focused on maximizing their talents in a non-intimidating, professional atmosphere. Because of the diverse culinary demands here, our interns are exposed to many levels of the hospitality industry. No matter the event or occasion, everything we do here is designed to instill a work ethic that accepts nothing short of excellence. It is that work ethic that I am hoping they take with them when they leave,” said the Chef.  While Chef Carter certainly has reason to think he has the perfect job, his ready smile and humor comes from something that many chefs working in a far less complicated kitchen make little time for, a balanced home life. At the end of each day, which at times may be very late in the evening, the chef makes a 50 mile trek along the famed Ventura Highway to his foothill home in a rural setting north of Los Angeles where he lives with wife Katherine, two sons and super dog, Sierra. This drive is a very necessary separation that gives Chef Carter the temperament and confidence to orchestrate such a large culinary challenge. At home, William Carter is a father and husband who makes the time to enjoy hiking, landscape photography, dining with friends and traveling. He also lends his expertise to one of his son’s high school culinary arts program as well as being in demand throughout California as a professional judge at wine competitions. Chef William Carter says it’s a very whole life and he is enjoying every single second of it, both at home and at his unique office.  So perhaps, besides a dazzling fruit salad, the chef provides us all with a second recipe that can be used outside the kitchen. His emphasis on maintaining a healthy balance of life outside the office, even one with 18 chefs in it, is a formula that serves as a main course for life. Melissa’s counts Chef Carter as one of our most exciting foodservice partners. Our staff works closely with him on each food challenge that he brings to us, large and small; it’s actually a very fun part of the relationship, and one that we hope to enjoy for many years to come.

Monday, December 20, 2010

12/20 - Terry Hall, Hugh Davies,

Terry Hall - Communications Director - Napa Valley Vintner's Association
Twice a year, the Napa Valley Vintners hit the road with principals and winemakers from member wineries, focusing each trip on region of the country. The vintners spend several days in that market, hosting a mix of trade and consumer wine tasting events and educational programs.  Tastings for the trade and media: Members of the wine trade and media (e.g. restaurateurs, retailers, hoteliers, and journalists) are invited to taste literally hundreds of Napa Valley wines from both longtime favorites and up-and-comers. Come meet the movers and shakers behind these brands. In addition to helping retailers, wholesalers and restaurateurs plan purchases, these tastings are a great way to educate staff about what makes Napa Valley wines legendary. If you are a Napa Valley wine loving consumer, please scroll down to the middle of the page to various events you're invited to attend.


Hugh Davies - President - Schramsberg Winery  -   Sparkling Beverages for the Holidays
Schramsberg Vineyards is now in the hands of Jack and Jamie Davies' youngest son, Hugh. Born in 1965, the year his parents Jack and Jamie Davies revived the historic Schramsberg Vineyards property in Napa Valley, Hugh was named President and CEO of the 40-year old sparkling wine house in 2005. Prior to this, he held the dual responsibilities of Winemaker and General Manager. He holds a master's degree in enology from the University of California, Davis, and has his undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College in Maine.
At Schramsberg, Hugh has led the ongoing effort to fine-tune winemaking and grape growing techniques, building upon the winery’s venerable track record of producing award-winning sparkling wines. Schramsberg’s current stable of vineyards includes more than 90 specially selected sites in the Carneros district of Napa Valley, the Anderson Valley, and along the Sonoma and Marin coasts. The winery's commitment to small lot base wine production has yielded extraordinary blending opportunity for the 8-10 sparkling blends produced each year. Over 200 lots are evaluated after harvest, representing many variables: vineyard terroir, grape clone, barrel fermentation, stainless tank fermentation, malolactic fermentation, etc.   Additionally, Hugh was instrumental in replanting the historic hillside Diamond Mountain District vineyards adjacent to the winery to Bordeaux varietals. They are now used by the Schramsberg winemaking team to make J. Davies Cabernet Sauvignon. From the first vintage in 2001, J. Davies has received both public and critical acclaim. Hugh serves on the board of directors for the Napa Valley Vintners (he was President, 2006) and, with his family, he chaired the 2004 Auction Napa Valley. Hugh, along with his brother Bill, heads up the Jack L. Davies Fund, which is committed to carrying on efforts initiated by his father to preserve the Napa Valley for its highest uses: agriculture and wild lands.  For prior hands-on experience in the wine industry before joining Schramsberg, Hugh worked with Möet et Chandon in Epernay; Petaluma Winery in South Australia, and Mumm Napa Valley, among others. His political and public service background includes work with the San Francisco Trust for Public Land and assisting California Congressman Tony Coelho in Washington, D.C. Hugh lives on the Schramsberg grounds with his wife, Monique and his three young sons Emrys, Nelson and Hugh Lawrence. He enjoys spending time with his kids, backpacking and going to the Oakland A’s baseball games.  Hugh is dedicated to continuing the quality enhancement of Schramsberg and J. Davies wines. With his leadership, Schramsberg Vineyards is in good, sturdy hands.

Monday, December 13, 2010

12/13 - Jim Fioleck , P J Ochlan,

P.J. OCHLAN  - Cobblestone Winery 
From his humble beginnings on a Michigan farm, Saul Levine became an FM radio pioneer in 1959 launching Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters in Southern California. Levine’s radio success helped him get back to his roots, and with his wife Anita he started Cobblestone Vineyards. For over 30 years Cobblestone only grew grapes for premium California wineries, until 2004 when the Levines released their own wines under the Cobblestone label. These limited production, single-vineyard wines have since received consistent acclaim from the top critics and publications, and are featured at many of the nation’s premier restaurants and wine shops. A veteran actor for over twenty years, P.J. has appeared on Broadway, been in numerous critically acclaimed films, performed in Joseph Papp's historic New York Shakespeare Festival, and been a four-time television series regular. P.J. has worked with directing legends including Jodie Foster and Garry Marshall, producing greats such as Aaron Spelling and Brian Grazer, and alongside countless stars of stage and screen. P.J. serves as creative director for KKGO "Go Country" 105.1 FM, KKJZ "K-Jazz" 88.1 FM and KGIL 1260 AM. As an on-air personality he hosts special programming including concert broadcasts, public affairs, arts reports and interviews. A regularly published writer, P.J. also often appears as a narrator and emcee for numerous concerts, events and local arts organizations.

Jim Fioleck - Executive Director -  Santa Barbara County Vintners' Association
The unique, transverse nature of the valleys of Santa Barbara Wine Country provides a patchwork quilt of microclimates and terrains, resulting in one of the most diverse grapegrowing regions in the country. The valleys in the Pacific coastline actually run east-west rather than north-south, and both the coastal Santa Ynez Mountain range and the more interior San Rafael range are transverse too. Because of this geologic oddity, the ocean breezes sweep eastward, channeled by the hills and mountains that ring the region. Heading east into the foothills, the temperatures are warm during the day and very cool during the night, whereas the vineyards that lie westward toward the ocean enjoy a mild and moderate climate. Coupled with soils that run the gamut from ancient beach and diatomaceous earth to chirt and limestone, there is a near-perfect place for a wide variety of winegrape varietals

Friday, December 3, 2010

12/6-Stephanie Putnam, Kevin Gallagher,

Stephanie Putnam-Raymond Vineyards
Stephanie Putnam is the Director of Winemaking at Raymond Vineyards, where she oversees all aspects of winemaking for this iconic Napa Valley winery. 
 
Before joining the Boisset Family Estates team, Stephanie spent eight years as winemaker at Far Niente Winery, where she contemporized their house style. Prior to that, she was part of the team at Hess Collection, where she began as a cellar worker and rapidly progressed to winemaker. While there she also worked with the winery’s South American partners. 

Throughout her tenure at these highly acclaimed Napa Valley estates, Stephanie has focused on producing high quality Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Her wines have won acclaim, including recognition in the Wine Spectator’s Top 100, the Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 and being named The Wine News Cabernet of the Year.

A Northern California native and graduate of U.C. Davis with a B.S. in Fermentation Science, Stephanie developed her passion for winemaking at an early age thanks to her family’s appreciation of gourmet food and wine. She fondly remembers many childhood trips to the Napa Valley where her parents would come to enjoy and collect wine. Stephanie currently resides in Napa with her two large, lovable Labradors.


Kevin Gallagher - Director of California Sales - Dierberg Estate Vineyard
When Jim Dierberg  has a passion for something, he acts quickly and decisively. Just ask his wife, Mary, to whom he proposed on their first date! It was love at first sight, yet again, when they laid eyes on the Star Lane Ranch, now planted to some 230 acres of vines. "We had looked around Napa and Bordeaux for a property early on," Jim recalls. But Napa and the Old World were getting a little crowded. "We wanted open space and big sky." They found it during a business trip not far from Santa Barbara in a beautiful valley called Happy Canyon.  Bankers by profession, Jim and Mary are no newcomers to wine. They've owned one of America's oldest wineries, Hermannhof, since 1974. It's located in their home state of Missouri, where Jim was raised in a farming tradition. (At age 11, he won the St. Louis County Fair with his champion pig, Buster.)  An initial passion for wine developed during the couple's early trips to Germany during the 1960s. Back home in Missouri, they discovered an old winery in Hermann - founded in 1852 - was for sale, and they bought it. "Hermann seemed just like Germany in many ways," Mary says. "But it was only an hour from St. Louis."   The wines at Hermannhof are good, but the Missouri climate is not conducive to growing the European varietals that have made France and California famous. It was only a matter of time before the couple would seek out a new winemaking perspective. They purchased Star Lane in 1996. "All the local farmers knew this was one of the warmest spots in the area," Jim recalls. After consultation with renowned Central Coast grower Dale Hampton and soil scientist Paul Skinner, the Dierbergs realized that the land was best suited to growing Cabernet and its related varietals. They started with 100 acres.  Later in 1996, they bought a cooler vineyard site better suited to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay a bit farther north in Santa Maria. And in January of 2004, they added a new property in the Santa Rita Hills, also suitable for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. These two vineyards are called, fittingly, Dierberg. Currently, the winemaking couple are constructing their dream winery on the Star Lane property. It's dug into the hillside for efficient use of energy and will host some 26,000 square feet of caves for barrel aging. "We're excited about having a facility that will allow us to do justice to the terroir, which has already proved to be capable of producing wines of great distinction," Jim notes with pride.

Monday, November 29, 2010

11/29 - Jim Fioleck, Fred Dame,

Jim Fioleck - Exec Dir - Santa Barbara County Vintners Assoc
In Santa Barbara County, the east-west orientation of the coastal mountains forms valleys opening directly to the Pacific Ocean. This unique topography allows the flow of fog and ocean breezes to shape distinct microclimates, perfect for the cultivation of classic grape varietals and world class wines. The 50 miles stretch from Point Conception to Rincon constitutes the longest east-west traverse of shoreline from Alaska to Cape Horn. Here, the Santa Ynez and San Rafael Mountains form a unique coastal range - the inland flow of fog and ocean breezes make the region one of the coolest viticultural areas in California. This means that the fruit has an unusually long "hang time" on the vine, allowing it to fully develop the acids, flavors and tannins needed to produce wines of distinctive character.  Within Santa Barbara County there are several distinct winegrowing areas; there are four official appellations: Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, and Sta. Rita Hills. There are also several regions within the county that produce distinctive wines - these include the Los Alamos Valley region, between the Santa Maria Valley and Santa Ynez Valley appellations, Ballard Canyon, the Los Olivos District and the Santa Maria Bench. Slightly less than half of the grapes grown in Santa Barbara County are used by local vintners, with the balance are exported to wineries outside the area.

Frederick Dame - The Court of Master Sommeliers
The Court of Master Sommeliers was established to encourage improved standards of beverage knowledge and service in hotels and restaurants. Education was then, and remains today, the Court's charter. The first successful Master Sommelier examination was held in the United Kingdom in 1969. By April 1977, the Court of Master Sommeliers was established as the premier international examining body. It took the Court ten years to perfect its qualifications, which are recognized internationally. Frederick L. Dame, Master Sommelier brings an impressive blend of experience, expertise and enthusiasm to the world of wine and cuisine. He is the first American to have served as President of the Court of Master Sommeliers Worldwide and assists restaurateurs and hoteliers in developing their wine programs in his role as Director of Prestige Accounts for Beam Wine Estates. He is currently the President of the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation.  Dame's ability to transmit his passionate interest in wine make him a natural teacher. One of just seventy-three Americans to have passed the Master Sommelier Examination, Dame was the first to successfully pass all three parts in a single year. This feat and his high score won him the coveted Krug Cup of the British Guild of Sommeliers in 1984. Dame founded the American Branch of The Court of Master Sommeliers in 1986 and has played an active role in the expansion of the Master Sommelier program throughout America since that time. As Cellarmaster of The Sardine Factory in Monterey, California for twelve years, Dame created a wine list which won the Wine Spectator Grand Award. With the many wine events held in the brick and wine lined Wine Cellar, Dame turned The Sardine Factory into a wine destination restaurant of world renown. He is also active in the culinary arts serving as an Honorary Trustee of The American Academy of Chefs, the honor society of The American Culinary Federation. He was awarded the Antonin Careme Medal and was made a Supreme Knight of the Knights of the Vine in 2000. He has been elected to the prestigious National Restaurant Association College of Diplomates for 2004. A sixth generation Californian, Dame graduated from Washington and Lee University with a degree in journalism and communications. A European trip after high school piqued his curiosity about wine and food. Since then, he has applied his considerable persuasive skills to the service and appreciation of fine wine.

Friday, November 19, 2010

11/22-Jeremy Kreck, Ted Plemons

Jeremy Kreck-Winemaker Mill Creek Vineyards & Winery

Growing up on a vineyard outside of Healdsburg, Jeremy has a deep-rooted appreciation for the Sonoma County wine culture. “The wine, food, art, and climate of the greater Healdsburg area make it an extraordinary place to live. Did I mention the wine?”
After high school, Jeremy attended California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, where he studied Agribusiness and of course, wine and viticulture. “The central coast, at that time, was experiencing a huge boom in grape plantings and wine production. There was a great interest from the industry, which in turn led to a certain electricity in the wine and viticulture programs at the university.” Post college, Jeremy returned to Healdsburg where he began in the cellar and vineyards at Mill Creek. “Being both in the vineyards and winery, I attained a great perspective of the relationships between the vines and finished wines.” Jeremy worked under Hank Skewis, Mill Creek’s former winemaker, for 4 vintages and also continued his education with wine production courses at UC Davis.
Jeremy’s first harvest as winemaker was 2004, which was the earliest in 100 years. “I took a sugar sample on the Sauvignon Blanc the last day of July.
21.7 Brix! We ended up picking two and a half weeks early.”
Jeremy’s objective in winemaking is to essentially stay out of the way of the vineyard and the expression of the fruit. “My goal is to have the winemaking process and components compliment and enhance the fruit.” He maintains a hands-on approach that includes weekly vineyard inspections and smells and tastes each barrel of wine every six to eight weeks.
Jeremy lives with his wife, Mindy, in Healdsburg. Together they enjoy ‘the wine-country lifestyle’ with weekly trips to the farmers market, tending to the vegetable garden, golf, and of course cooking.

Ted Plemons-Partner Cass Vineyard & Winery

Cass Vineyards and Winery is located in the rolling, oak-studded hills between Paso Robles and Creston on California's beautiful Central Coast. This area that the vineyard calls home offers quiet serenity for the visitor and a perfect growing season for wine grapes.
Sited due east of the “Templeton Gap”, we receive the evening's cooling breezes that the west side of Paso Robles is noted for. We also rest far enough from the coast to generate the heat needed to optimally ripen the Rhone varieties grown in our vineyards.
One hundred percent of the wines crafted at Cass Winery are Estate Grown. Our vineyard surrounds our Tasting Room and winery. You can literally touch, taste, see and smell the grapes from the block where they were harvested.
The Tasting Room offers picnic fare and our chef prepares wine and food pairings daily from 12-4pm at the Cass Café to enhance the feel of this special environment. Scenic paths lead to oak-shaded picnic areas for our visitors’ complete wine country sensory experience.
A unique feature of our wine making is that all of the Rhone grapes we grow are ENTAV certified. ENTAV (Establissement National Technique pour l’Amelioration de la Viticulture) is the national agency of France responsible for the quality of wine grape varieities. Over 90% of all French Vineyards are started with ENTAV certified plants and are only recently available in California. Consequently, these are among the very first wines made from ENTAV grapes grown here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

11/15 - Ted Astorian, Katharine Taylor

Ted Astorian - Owner Clos Valmi Wines


California's Napa Valley has been a source of world-class wine for well over a century. Its warm climate and varied terrain allows for many styles of wine. One thread that runs through almost all the wines from Napa is their lush, ripe full-bodied feel and rich flavors of currant and berry. Wines from the valley floor, particularly around Rutherford, are famed for a dusty quality and those coming from the hillsides surrounding the valley, Mt. Veeder, Diamond Mountain and Howell Mountain for example, tend to be a little leaner with more obvious structural elements.



Katharine Taylor - Tasting Room Manager - Saucelito Canyon

The Saucelito Canyon story begins in 1880, when three acres of Zinfandel vines were planted in the rugged terrain of the upper Arroyo Grande Valley on California’s Central Coast.  A new chapter was written a century later, when Bill Greenough painstakingly restored the abandoned old vineyard and began making what has become one of California’s most distinguished Zinfandels. Our story continues today as we merge new methods in sustainable winegrowing with our own family traditions and winemaking style, which we collectively call the "Saucelito Way."  In our wines, you will discover flavors that are native only to our historic dry-farmed vineyard in the remote chaparral of Saucelito Canyon. This is a place that we call home, and a place that we are honored to share with you.  "Saucelito Canyon is a singular Zin, made way out in the middle of nowhere from a vineyard centered around three acres of ungrafted vines that were planted in 1880… It represents what can be great and what can be romantic about Zinfandel."

Monday, November 8, 2010

11-8 - Hugh Davies, Keith Burkett, Becky Gray

Hugh Davies - President  Schramsberg Vineyards

Schramsberg Vineyards is now in the hands of Jack and Jamie Davies' youngest son, Hugh. Born in 1965, the year his parents Jack and Jamie Davies revived the historic Schramsberg Vineyards property in Napa Valley, Hugh was named President and CEO of the 40-year old sparkling wine house in 2005. Prior to this, he held the dual responsibilities of Winemaker and General Manager. He holds a master's degree in enology from the University of California, Davis, and has his undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College in Maine.
At Schramsberg, Hugh has led the ongoing effort to fine-tune winemaking and grape growing techniques, building upon the winery’s venerable track record of producing award-winning sparkling wines. Schramsberg’s current stable of vineyards includes more than 90 specially selected sites in the Carneros district of Napa Valley, the Anderson Valley, and along the Sonoma and Marin coasts. The winery's commitment to small lot base wine production has yielded extraordinary blending opportunity for the 8-10 sparkling blends produced each year. Over 200 lots are evaluated after harvest, representing many variables: vineyard terroir, grape clone, barrel fermentation, stainless tank fermentation, malolactic fermentation, etc. Additionally, Hugh was instrumental in replanting the historic hillside Diamond Mountain District vineyards adjacent to the winery to Bordeaux varietals. They are now used by the Schramsberg winemaking team to make J. Davies Cabernet Sauvignon. From the first vintage in 2001, J. Davies has received both public and critical acclaim. Hugh serves on the board of directors for the Napa Valley Vintners (he was President, 2006) and, with his family, he chaired the 2004 Auction Napa Valley. Hugh, along with his brother Bill, heads up the Jack L. Davies Fund, which is committed to carrying on efforts initiated by his father to preserve the Napa Valley for its highest uses: agriculture and wild lands.  For prior hands-on experience in the wine industry before joining Schramsberg, Hugh worked with Möet et Chandon in Epernay; Petaluma Winery in South Australia, and Mumm Napa Valley, among others. His political and public service background includes work with the San Francisco Trust for Public Land and assisting California Congressman Tony Coelho in Washington, D.C. Hugh lives on the Schramsberg grounds with his wife, Monique and his three young sons Emrys, Nelson and Hugh Lawrence. He enjoys spending time with his kids, backpacking and going to the Oakland A’s baseball games.  Hugh is dedicated to continuing the quality enhancement of Schramsberg and J. Davies wines. With his leadership, Schramsberg Vineyards is in good, sturdy hand

Keith Burkett - Sous Chef - Ruth's Chris Steak House - Pasadena, CA
Keith Burkett is the new Sous Chef at Ruth's Chris Steak House in Pasadena, CA - 
From our humble beginnings on Broad Street in New Orleans to our current position as the world's largest fine dining company, Ruth's Chris Steak House has come quite a long way in its first four decades. In 2005, we celebrated our 40th anniversary, and we consider it a celebration of the life of a woman who broke the mold - our founder, Ruth Fertel. Experience the sensation of private dining at Ruth’s Chris when you treat your special guests to unforgettable dining for your next business gathering, family celebration, dinner club or anything in between.



Becky Gray - Executive Director San Luis Obispo Vintner's Association
South San Luis Obispo County, located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, has earned worldwide recognition and respect for the exceptional quality of wine grapes produced in this ideal viticultural area. The area includes the Edna Valley, the Arroyo Grande Valley, each a designated American Viticultural Area, the Avila Valley and Nipomo. Wine growing in San Luis Obispo County stretches back to the missionary days of California viticulture, when the first grapevines were planted by the Franciscan padres who settled California in the 1880s. Today, because of this region’s ideal world-class microclimate and soils, wine grapes are the leading crop in San Luis Obispo County. There are over 3000 acres of vines in South San Luis Obispo County, and more vineyards are being planted. The climate and soils have been proven to provide the perfect environment for growing and producing ultra premium quality wines.  Due to the unique geography of the South Central Coast, the valleys have east-west orientations and are distinguished by the extensive maritime influence on the climate and soil. The soils are dominated by marine deposits left millions of years ago when the valleys were under water. Loam and clay topsoil overlay calcareous marine deposits promoting complex flavors. The climate is tempered by marine air flowing directly into the valley from the Pacific Ocean. This cooling influence creates an unusually long growing season resulting in greatly intensified varietal flavors. All of these elements produce wine grapes and wines of complex flavors and intensity found only in the world’s greatest wine regions.

Friday, October 22, 2010

10/25-Andrew Apodaca

Andrew Apodaca-Pyrennes Winery
Apodaca family’s commitment to the superb quality of their wines is evident in its excellent quality and distinction. Pyrenees Vineyard and Winery pulls many of its influences from the Basque country of northern Spain where the Apodaca’s Heritage was originated. Pyrenees Vineyard and Cellars brings to you their many varietals of wines from the finest Oregon grapes influenced by the textures of the rich soil, the abundant vegetation and mild climate of the Umpqua Valley.



Pyrenees Vineyard and Cellars sets along the South Umpqua River surrounded by 30 acres of lush grapes and rolling hillside.  You will find sitting out on the vineyard’s deck overlooking the river extraordinary, while you take pleasure in one of our indescribable wines. Come walk through our long rows of beautifully intertwined grape vines and smell the aromas in the earth and wind that you find as welcoming on your palate as you take each sip of our Vino.
At Pyrenees Vineyard and Cellars we have a wonderful group of people who will welcome you as old friends and take you through our majestic wine selection. A place where relationships are created that last life times and memories will be made that last through-out countless generations!

Monday, October 18, 2010

10/18-Steve Pride, Katherine Strange

Steve Pride-Pride Mountain Vineyards

In December 1989, when Steve was on a break from finishing his doctoral degree in geophysics, he and his parents, Jim and Carolyn, went looking for ranches to purchase; a place to get away from the urban environment and be in touch with the land. Just before Christmas, they visited a 170-acre ranch with forty-five acres of dry-farmed vines in the hills west of St. Helena. The family, including Suzanne, fell in love with the mountaintop setting, the property was purchased a few days later, and thus began Pride Mountain Vineyards.
A lot has transpired since then. Only nine of the original forty-five acres of vines are still in production, the rest having been replanted. There are now eighty-three acres of vines on a ranch that has grown to 235 acres. Since Jim passed away in 2004, Steve has been general manager and overseen much of the recent replanting and growth. "One of the most exciting things about the ranch right now," says Steve, "is the youth of the vines. We see time and again that as the vines get to be ten to twelve years old, the wines they produce become more structured and complex. Since most of the vineyard blocks are still quite young, our best vintages are before us, and not behind us."
In the early 1990s, before the winery was in existence, Steve began his career as an academic scientist. After two years as a post-doc at MIT, he married his French wife Laurence, and became a professor at the University of Paris and later at the University of Rennes in France. In 2000, he took a sabbatical at Stanford University as a visiting professor, which enabled him to spend time with his Dad who was diagnosed with cancer in the fall of 2001. In 2003, Steve and Laurence, and their boys Tommy and Sammy, moved from France to the Bay Area to get involved with the winery. Steve obtained a staff-scientist position at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab along with an adjunct-professor position at UC Berkeley, and now splits his time between Berkeley and the winery.
"Being a scientist is actually good training for owning and managing a vineyard. As a scientist, you are required to solve difficult problems, experiment and hypothesize, and think outside the box; all qualities that come in handy here at the winery. We are taking nothing for granted at Pride Mountain Vineyards, and are constantly exploring ways to push the quality envelope to the maximum. It's a lot of fun."

Initially started by Katherine Strange as a broker of wines the company has steadily expanded and evolved. Strange Wines is now primarily a distributor in Southern California with sales representation from Santa Barbara / Montecito continuing down south to San Diego and into Palm Desert.
Strange Wines now directly imports and represents select imports of wines from wine producing regions around the world.
Our goal is to service our customers not simply the retailer and restaurateur, but also the winery. We strive for a long term relationship between ourselves, the winery and customer.
We believe that you will appreciate our wine selections. We will be pouring wines from Clif Family and Vina Robles.

Monday, October 11, 2010

10/11-Bob Cabral, Nat Komes

Bob Cabral has been involved in growing and making wine professionally since 1980 and has had an interest in wine and farming since his childhood helping his grandfather make wine in his barn. Growing up pruning grapes, irrigating vineyards and harvest became routine on his family’s 70 acre ranch near Escalon, CA. A fourth generation farmer and grape grower from the great San Joaquin Valley, he took all he learned at the family farm and applied it to his degrees at Fresno State University. His passion for pinot noir was evident very early on as he would spend every spare dime, and good chunk of his student loans, on buying wine from all over the world—especially Burgundy and Russian River Valley pinot noir. One of the first North Coast wineries he became passionate about was Williams Selyem. He joined their consumer list during graduate school in 1985 as customer #576, soon after experiencing the Williams Selyem 1983 vintage wines. In the mid 1980’s while working at a large winery south of Fresno, Bob knew that Sonoma County was where he could best hone his skills and learn to make wines that could rival the best made anywhere in the world. He worked the next 11 vintages in various winemaking positions as the Associate Winemaker at De Loach Vineyards, Custom Crush Winemaker at Kunde Estate Winery, Winemaker at Alderbrook Vineyards and Winemaker at Hartford Court Winery. In 1998 Burt Williams recommended that Bob take over for him as Winemaker at Williams Selyem. Bob met with John Dyson, then the new owner of Williams Selyem, and discovered that they shared a similar philosophy about winemaking and viticulture: that the most important aspect of winemaking is in the vineyard. Bob became the winemaker at Williams Selyem July 29, 1998. Heading into his 13th vintage at Williams Selyem and 31st at a commercial winery, his winemaking philosophy has not changed: “The key is to respect the vineyard and value the fruit. Working with some of the best growers and vineyards in the world allows us to farm to the highest possible standards and provides us with the finest fruit available. That’s more than half the battle in working with Pinot Noir. Once the fruit is taken care of, then we try to intervene as little as possible. While there is no shortage of hard work in the cellar and you must still pay careful attention to detail as great wines are really made in the vineyard. My job is to just guide it along and allow the individual vineyard to be expressed in every bottle.” Bob is an experienced winemaker whose meticulousness and patience yield wines that are authentic expressions of each vineyard site. Bob, his wife Heather and daughter Paige, make their home in the Russian River Valley.

"This winery has enabled us to touch a lot of lives - our purpose is about wine, but it's also about people, relationships and the joy of what's shared around wine," says Nat Komes, Manager at Flora Springs. He's not just waxing poetic (though he is, notably, a poet, having graduated with a degree in English Literature and published his own volume of poems, called Nighttime Melodies in 1992) - Nat lives his beliefs as well. At home, at the winery, or on the road, it's not uncommon to hear Nat pondering the meaning of it all - wine, art, or life in the Napa Valley - with a customer, fellow staff member, or family over a glass of Flora Springs wine.
Nat has been training for his current role as General Manager at Flora Springs all of his life: his teenage years were full of miscellaneous jobs at the winery, whether on the bottling line, painting the winery, or washing his Uncle Pat Garvey's vineyard truck. "I think my brother Otto and I were Flora Springs' first janitors," he laughs. But it wasn't until his sophomore year in college at the University of the Pacific that Nat realized he wanted a life in the wine business. "I'd always thought Napa was a lonely, rural place growing up, but after moving to Stockton for school I realized just how special this valley is for me," he says. "It was clear that I wanted to continue the tradition that my family started - what a great gift they've given us."
One of Nat's favorite childhood memories is of the Trilogy release party in 1984, the inaugural year for the Meritage blend that has today become a standard bearer for Flora Springs. "A huge crowd of people showed up," he recalls. "Seeing all those people made me realize that what my family had started only six years earlier was something very special," he says.
In addition to his role overseeing wine production and the tasting room, Nat also manages sales for Flora Springs within the state of California. Like his cousin Sean, Nat feels it's important to keep one foot in the marketplace at all times.
Nat credits his dad, John Komes, as a major influence in both business and family life, and relies on his candor, notorious sense of humor and thunderous, arresting laugh for inspiration. "His shoes are big," says Nat. "And they will be hard to fill, but if I am able to continue the Flora Springs tradition long enough to pass on our values and prestige to a fourth generation, then my mission is complete," he adds.
Nat's wife, Anne, is a native of France, and annual visits to her parents' home in Marseilles reiterate the importance of wine in everyday life for them both. Noting the admiration for many of France's 5th, 6th, 7th, and even 8th-generation Chateaux, Nat is disconcerted by many Americans' pre-dominating interests in the new. "I'd like to break that mold and ensure that Flora Springs is a winery that that will be passed from one generation to the next. Consistent, superior quality is what we admire most about older family wineries, and that's what we strive for at Flora Springs," he says.
Much of Nat's spare time is spent remodeling his Victorian home or playing with his toddler son, Matthias, and infant daughter, Charlotte. Are Matthias and Charlotte destined to take on the role of vintner as the torch is passed to the fourth generation in a few decades? "I hope so," says Nat. "But that's their choice. If not," he says, pausing for effect, "There's always Phileas." (He is referring to the family dog.) The Komes' sense of humor, it seems, is certain to live on as well.

Monday, October 4, 2010

10/4-Ren Harris, Dan Teldeschi

Ren Harris-Paradigm Winery
Paradigm Winery, located in the Oakville appellation of Napa Valley, hand-crafts small quantities of estate-bottled red wine. We're known for our Merlot and our Cabernet Sauvignon, though we also produce a tiny amount of Zinfandel and Cabernet Franc. Regardless of the varietal, our wines are a rich expression of the vineyard we've been farming now for twenty-nine years.

Paradigm Winery is owned and managed by Ren and Marilyn Harris, two winegrowers with extraordinarily deep roots in Napa Valley. Marilyn's grandparents immigrated from Italy to Napa Valley in 1890, while Ren's family came to California in 1769. Marilyn and Ren purchased Paradigm Vineyards in 1976, and began producing wine with the 1991 vintage. Since that first vintage, the wines have been made by renowned winemaker, Heidi Peterson Barrett. Heidi's father, Dick Peterson, was instrumental in laying out and designing the winery.


Dan Teldeschi-F. Teldeschi Winery

Teldeschi Winery is a premium wine producer in Dry Creek Valley. The Teldeschi Family owns approximately 70 acres of vineyards in the AVAand makes mainly Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Muscat.
Brothers Dan and John Teldeschi currently run the winery. Their parents, Frank and Catarina, established most of the vineyards. Although Frank has passed away, Catarina remains the family matriarch and land owner.
Frank sold grapes to home winemakers in San Francisco in the difficult years following World War II. There was very little commercial demand for wine grapes at this time, but the Teldeschis persisted, and found buyers wherever they could. The Frei Brothers and Seghesio Family were two of their consistent customers followed by Pedroncelli and Ravenswood in later years.
In addition to Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignane, Malvasia, Cinsault, and Gamay are planted. There is also a bit of French Colombard and Palomino. These are rustic grapes not exceptionally valued for winemaking that John Teldeschi says he feeds to the deer and turkeys so they don’t eat his better varietals.
Teldeschi Winery makes a number of wines with a focus on Zinfandel. The family also produces outstanding Petite Sirah, a Port-style wine with Zinfandel grapes, and a blend Carignane, Valdiguie, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah called Terranova. This wine is made in memory of Dan and John’s father, Frank Teldeschi.

Monday, September 27, 2010

9/27-What's Cookin' on Wine with Michael Jordan and Mike Horn

Live from Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Pasadena, California sommelier Michael Horn and  master sommelier Michael Jordan talk about the lastest news, topics, and much more in the world of wine.

Monday, September 20, 2010

9/20-Michael Weiss, Jim Fiolek

Michael Weiss-Exploring Wine: The Culinary Institute of America's Guide to Wines of the World, 2nd Edition

Michael Weiss is originally from Montreal Canada from a family involved with catering
and hotels. He has 20 years of restaurant experience and has worked as Chef Sommelier and Maitre D' at 4 and 5 star hotels. Michael joined the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York in 1987 and is the chair of wine studies.
Michael Weiss has served as a wine judge in America and abroad. Mr Weiss has a Bachelor of Science in Education , a hotel management diploma, and holds the advanced certificate from the Court of Master Sommeliers. In 1998, the Corporation des Vignerons des Champagne France chose him as the American recipient of the St Vincent Diploma of Honor. In 2007 he was inducted in to the Confaria (Brotherhood)of Porto and received the European Wine Councils life time achievement award for wine education.In 2009 he
received the distinguished service award from the Italian Trade Commission.
Michael lectures at wine festivals, conferences, and dinners and features music at many events. He writes a wine column for Hudson Valley Connoisseur magazine. Michael Weiss is co-author of Exploring Wine, a textbook published by Wiley, that was nominated for the James Beard award. He is also co-author of Wine Wise 2009 winner of the James Beard award for best beverage book and Georges Dubouef award for best wine book . Michael Weiss lives in the Hudson Valley of New York with his wife Jennifer who is an artist and art therapist. .
Michael Weiss, C.H.E., The Charmer Sunbelt Group Endowed Chair for Wines and Spirits, Professor in Table Service
Education: B.S., State University of New York, Empire State College, Saratoga Springs, NY; C.E.G.E.P., Dawson College, Montreal, Canada; New York Hotel Management School, NYC. Professional Experience: Adjunct Professor, New School University, NYC. Chef Sommelier, Breakers Hotel, Palm Beach, FL. Maître d’Hôtel, Don Cesar, St. Petersburg, FL. Head Sommelier, Colony Beach Resort, Long Boat Key, FL; Arnauds, New Orleans. Wine Judge, National Restaurant Association, 1987. Author: Exploring Wine. Awards: Diploma of Honor, Corporation des Cignerons de Champagne, 1998. Member: Sommelier Society of America, East Coast Chapter.
Breathtaking vistas overlook valleys and mountains studded with ancient oaks, brilliant wild flowers and magnificent vineyards. Taking a leisurely country drive allows you to fully appreciate the winemaking experience while viewing the ever changing seasons. Pruning in the winter, bud break in spring, canopy management in summer, culminates with the fall harvest. It is a wonderful discovery for any traveler! You'll find great restaurants, galleries, country inns and exceptional tasting rooms. Friendly and knowledgeable people are waiting to welcome, serve and delight you.

Monday, September 13, 2010

9/13-Russ Meek, Bill Brinton

Russ Meek-Sommelier of Red White + Bluezz and The Pasadena Wine Festival

The Pasadena Wine Festival, will be held at the Los Angeles Arboretum on Saturday October 9, 2010 from 2:00 pm to 10 pm.
PLEASE NOTE: Online ticket sales end Friday October 8th at midnight. Tickets can be purchased at the entrance gate at the Arboretum beginning at 11AM Saturday October 9th.
Fun Stuff you can Expect at the Festival:
  • Stroll the grounds of the beautiful Arboretum and Botanical Garden
  • Tram Tours of the entire 127 Acres
  • Experience wines from California and around the world
  • Learn about and taste cheeses from California and beyond
  • Dine at communal tables while enjoying your wine or scope an area underneath one of the umbrellas
  • Challenge your friends for a game of Bocci Ball, Horse Shoes, Ultimate golf challenge or just throw around the Frisbee
  • Most of all RELAX with friends on the Arboretum's grass while enjoying some vino and listening to some of the area most renowned musical artist—from jazz to funk, to blues and salsa
  • Bring blankets or beach chairs and enjoy the experience under the stars

Bill Brinton resides in Sonoma, but his roots are deep in the Midwest. Midwesterners are known for strong American values, respect for family and institutions, and the ability to create and recognize value in products.

In 1993, Bill, a graduate of the Columbia University MBA program, established a natural products and nutritional beverage firm, The Wiman Beverage Company. This company was sold to a larger firm in 2000.

Bill enjoys vineyard selection and development, as well as the critical evaluation and blending of the juice from grapes into wine. The wines are styled to pair wonderfully with a wide variety of fresh foods, and his vision is to create wines that could be sold for $30 to $75 per bottle, but that provide an exceptional value in the $20 to $25 price range. Value and integrity are the cornerstone of Midwestern values, and the basis upon which Charles Creek Vineyard was founded.

Monday, September 6, 2010

9/6-Kevin Zraly, Honore Comfort

Happy Labor Day!

Kevin Zraly-Windows on the World Wine School



Author and TeacherWindows on The World Complete Wine Course

  • Wine Director of Windows on the World from 1976 - 2001
  • Author of the Windows on the World Complete Wine Course book. Over 3 million copies sold.
  • Founder and instructor of the Windows on the World Wine School, with over 500 students per year. Almost 20,000 students have completed the course to date.
  • Culinary Institute of America's Board of Trustees member since 1990.
  • Recipient of the James Beard Award for Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year.
  • 2009 recipient of Sante's Wine Professional of the Year Award.
  • Recipient of the European Wine Council Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • Kevin has been featured in The New York Times, People Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, GQ Magazine, and Newsweek.
  • Kevin has appeared on the major television networks in the United States including The Early Show on CBS andLive! with Regis and Kelly on ABC.

By combining the Sonoma County Showcase of Wine & Food with the Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction, food and wine lovers can revel in the style and sophistication of the popular Taste of Sonoma event before spending an afternoon unlike any other at the 18th Annual Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction – all in one weekend! It’s an unprecedented partnership of two great events with one goal: Celebrating Sonoma’s incredible bounty of food, wine and fun while raising much needed funds for Sonoma's local charities. Participants experience first-hand the diversity and world-class quality of the region’s artisanal wine and food and distinctive epicurean experiences. Two main events, Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch on Saturday, September 4 and Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction, presented by Trilogy Glass & Packaging, at Cline Cellars on Sunday, September 5 are the signature attractions. More than 150 wineries and 60 chefs offer their wines and food for sampling at Taste of Sonoma, which also includes wine seminars, chef demonstrations, vineyard experiences and a top chef competition.  
The always over-the-top Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction, renowned for its irreverent themes and hilarious winemaker performances, continues the tradition with a California Beach Party theme to raise funds for local charities. Winemaker lunches and dinners on Friday, September 3 and additional dinners on Saturday, September 4 offer a select group of ticket holders a more intimate Sonoma food and wine experience.

Monday, August 30, 2010

8/30-Kevin Zraly, Honore Comfort

Kevin Zraly-Windows on the World Wine School



Author and TeacherWindows on The World Complete Wine Course

  • Wine Director of Windows on the World from 1976 - 2001
  • Author of the Windows on the World Complete Wine Course book. Over 3 million copies sold.
  • Founder and instructor of the Windows on the World Wine School, with over 500 students per year. Almost 20,000 students have completed the course to date.
  • Culinary Institute of America's Board of Trustees member since 1990.
  • Recipient of the James Beard Award for Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year.
  • 2009 recipient of Sante's Wine Professional of the Year Award.
  • Recipient of the European Wine Council Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • Kevin has been featured in The New York Times, People Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, GQ Magazine, and Newsweek.
  • Kevin has appeared on the major television networks in the United States including The Early Show on CBS andLive! with Regis and Kelly on ABC.

By combining the Sonoma County Showcase of Wine & Food with the Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction, food and wine lovers can revel in the style and sophistication of the popular Taste of Sonoma event before spending an afternoon unlike any other at the 18th Annual Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction – all in one weekend! It’s an unprecedented partnership of two great events with one goal: Celebrating Sonoma’s incredible bounty of food, wine and fun while raising much needed funds for Sonoma's local charities. Participants experience first-hand the diversity and world-class quality of the region’s artisanal wine and food and distinctive epicurean experiences. Two main events, Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch on Saturday, September 4 and Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction, presented by Trilogy Glass & Packaging, at Cline Cellars on Sunday, September 5 are the signature attractions. More than 150 wineries and 60 chefs offer their wines and food for sampling at Taste of Sonoma, which also includes wine seminars, chef demonstrations, vineyard experiences and a top chef competition.  
The always over-the-top Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction, renowned for its irreverent themes and hilarious winemaker performances, continues the tradition with a California Beach Party theme to raise funds for local charities. Winemaker lunches and dinners on Friday, September 3 and additional dinners on Saturday, September 4 offer a select group of ticket holders a more intimate Sonoma food and wine experience.