Monday, December 30, 2013

12/30-Michael Horn & Nicole Nielsen visit with Gary Pisoni

At Pisoni Vineyards & Winery, we are committed to growing the best grapes possible and producing exceptional handcrafted wines that represent our vineyard and the dedication of our family. When Jane and Eddie Pisoni started farming vegetables in the Salinas Valley in 1946, they had no idea what lie ahead for the future Pisoni generations. They started a heritage that continues today. Their son Gary, an avid wine collector, had ambitious dreams of his own vineyard. In 1982, against many obstacles, Gary planted his first 5 acres of vines. With the success of his first vineyard, he planted an additional 40 acres. Today Pisoni Vineyards consists primarily of Pinot Noir, with most of our grapes sold to recognized producers of vineyard-designated wines. The partnerships with these small wineries are based on long-term friendship and enthusiasm for great wine. In 1998, we started retaining a small percentage of grapes for our own Pisoni Estate label. Gary Pisoni exudes passion—for adventure, for family and friends, for grape growing and definitely for wine. He is the Burgundian-crazed founder and visionary of Pisoni Vineyards & Winery. After collecting and making wine for most of his life, Gary wanted to plant a vineyard of his own. He was fascinated by the mountain landscape of the ranch his parents purchased in 1979, so he decided to plant the first vines early in the spring of 1982, without even having a source of water. As he will tell you, the story started with him driving a water truck from the Salinas Valley floor to the vineyard to irrigate his young vines, which would struggle to survive in the shallow, granitic soil. After ten years, Gary finally discovered a well hidden within the far reaches of the mountains. With this source, Gary propagated his vines and began selling grapes to California’s finest Pinot Noir producers. In 1998, he started the Pisoni Estate label. According to Wine Enthusiast, this free spirit and maverick among winegrowers personifies the new face of American Pinot Noir.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

12/23-Encore Broadcast Michael Horn and Nicole Nielsen visit with Eric Johnson and Gavin Chanin

Eric Johnson - Winemaker, Talley Vineyards
For three generations the Talley family has farmed in the Southern San Luis Obispo County. The tradition began in 1948 when Oliver Talley founded Talley Farms and started growing specialty vegetables in the Arroyo Grande Valley. During the 1970s extensive planting of wine grapes began in the neighboring Edna Valley and Santa Barbara County areas.  After observation and extensive analysis, Oliver's son, Don Talley, was convinced of the potential to grow high quality chardonnay and pinot noir on the steep hillsides above Talley Farms.  Don planted a small test plot in 1982 on the west hillside of the Rincon Vineyard that included chardonnay, pinot noir, Riesling, sauvignon blanc and cabernet sauvignon. Over time the varietal and clonal selections were refined and planting expanded to a total of 165 acres in the Arroyo Grande and Edna Valleys.
Brian and Johnine Talley - Talley Vineyards produced its first wine in 1986 with the production of 450 cases. The winery's first five vintages were produced in a small winery adjacent to one of Talley Farms’ vegetable coolers. In the fall of 1991, a state-of-the-art winery was completed at the foot of the Rincon Vineyard. A 12,000 square foot barrel and case goods storage building was added in 2000, followed by a new tasting room in 2002. Talley Vineyards currently produces about 30,000 cases annually.  Brian and Johnine Talley own and operate Talley Vineyards, while Brian, Todd, Ryan and Rosemary Talley manage Talley Farms.



Gavin Chanin, who was named one of FORBES’ “30 under 30” in food and wine and a “winemaker to watch” by SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, began his winemaking career as a harvest intern at Au Bon Climat and Qupé, under the tutelage of winemakers Jim Clendenen and Bob Lindquist, working his way up to assistant winemaker at both labels.
Taking fall quarter off each year from his studies at UCLA to work harvest in California, Gavin also worked harvest in South Africa and New Zealand. He then the traveled extensively in Burgundy and Italy before returning to launch Chanin Wine Co. in 2007.
Chanin Wine Co. is dedicated to crafting wines from Santa Barbara County that reflect the individual vineyard in which they are grown.  We focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, two grapes that are especially revealing of subtle differences in geography, geology and climate. Our grapes are grown in Santa Barbara County, where cool coastal winds, diverse marine based soils and a long growing season provide an exciting and unique environment for Burgundian varieties.
The vineyards are the focus of all of our wines and each wine is made from grapes grown at one vineyard and not blended. We search out old vines, and make wine from some of the oldest in the county. This allows us to make refreshingly balanced wines at lower alcohol levels than most California “blockbuster” or “cult” styled wines. Through low yields, improved farming techniques and gentle winemaking we aim to create a wine that pairs well with food and is delicious young, but is also age-worthy. All of our vineyards are organic or sustainably farmed.
Our winemaking philosophy is rooted in representing each individual vineyard by emphasizing balance, finesse, and complexity. We avoid excessive alcohol, and modern winemaking additives (such as commercial yeasts, bacteria, enzymes) that can overshadow vineyard characteristics.  We also do not filter our wines or use intrusive wine processing machines. The goal is to grow grapes that are so healthy none of the above is needed.

Monday, December 16, 2013

12/16-Michael Horn visits with Eric Johnson & Gavin Chanin

Eric Johnson - Winemaker, Talley Vineyards
For three generations the Talley family has farmed in the Southern San Luis Obispo County. The tradition began in 1948 when Oliver Talley founded Talley Farms and started growing specialty vegetables in the Arroyo Grande Valley. During the 1970s extensive planting of wine grapes began in the neighboring Edna Valley and Santa Barbara County areas.  After observation and extensive analysis, Oliver's son, Don Talley, was convinced of the potential to grow high quality chardonnay and pinot noir on the steep hillsides above Talley Farms.  Don planted a small test plot in 1982 on the west hillside of the Rincon Vineyard that included chardonnay, pinot noir, Riesling, sauvignon blanc and cabernet sauvignon. Over time the varietal and clonal selections were refined and planting expanded to a total of 165 acres in the Arroyo Grande and Edna Valleys.
Brian and Johnine Talley - Talley Vineyards produced its first wine in 1986 with the production of 450 cases. The winery's first five vintages were produced in a small winery adjacent to one of Talley Farms’ vegetable coolers. In the fall of 1991, a state-of-the-art winery was completed at the foot of the Rincon Vineyard. A 12,000 square foot barrel and case goods storage building was added in 2000, followed by a new tasting room in 2002. Talley Vineyards currently produces about 30,000 cases annually.  Brian and Johnine Talley own and operate Talley Vineyards, while Brian, Todd, Ryan and Rosemary Talley manage Talley Farms.



Gavin Chanin, who was named one of FORBES’ “30 under 30” in food and wine and a “winemaker to watch” by SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, began his winemaking career as a harvest intern at Au Bon Climat and Qupé, under the tutelage of winemakers Jim Clendenen and Bob Lindquist, working his way up to assistant winemaker at both labels.
Taking fall quarter off each year from his studies at UCLA to work harvest in California, Gavin also worked harvest in South Africa and New Zealand. He then the traveled extensively in Burgundy and Italy before returning to launch Chanin Wine Co. in 2007.
Chanin Wine Co. is dedicated to crafting wines from Santa Barbara County that reflect the individual vineyard in which they are grown.  We focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, two grapes that are especially revealing of subtle differences in geography, geology and climate. Our grapes are grown in Santa Barbara County, where cool coastal winds, diverse marine based soils and a long growing season provide an exciting and unique environment for Burgundian varieties.
The vineyards are the focus of all of our wines and each wine is made from grapes grown at one vineyard and not blended. We search out old vines, and make wine from some of the oldest in the county. This allows us to make refreshingly balanced wines at lower alcohol levels than most California “blockbuster” or “cult” styled wines. Through low yields, improved farming techniques and gentle winemaking we aim to create a wine that pairs well with food and is delicious young, but is also age-worthy. All of our vineyards are organic or sustainably farmed.
Our winemaking philosophy is rooted in representing each individual vineyard by emphasizing balance, finesse, and complexity. We avoid excessive alcohol, and modern winemaking additives (such as commercial yeasts, bacteria, enzymes) that can overshadow vineyard characteristics.  We also do not filter our wines or use intrusive wine processing machines. The goal is to grow grapes that are so healthy none of the above is needed.

Monday, December 9, 2013

12/9-Michael Horn & Nicole Nielsen talk with Amanda Wittstrom-Higgins and Michaela Baltasar

Amanda Wittstrom-Higgins - VP Sales and Marketing, Ancient Peaks
We are a family-owned winery specializing in wines from our sustainably farmed estate Margarita Vineyard in the Paso Robles AVA on California’s Central Coast. Margarita Vineyard stands alone as the southernmost vineyard in the Paso Robles region, nestled into the rugged Santa Lucia Mountain range just 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Margarita Vineyard resides on the historic Santa Margarita Ranch, which was first planted to grapevines by Franciscan missionaries in 1780. The name Ancient Peaks honors the tall peaks surrounding Margarita Vineyard, which were forged by the collision of the coastal plates. Over time, these same geologic forces blessed us with five soil zones—ancient sea bed, sedimentary, shale, volcanic and granitic—that bring natural complexity to our wines.
AMANDA WITTSTROM-HIGGINS: As the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Ancient Peaks Winery, Amanda Wittstrom-Higgins is the primary contact for distribution, oversees our direct sales program, and is responsible for marketing planning and development.  She grew up in a ranching and farming family in Paso Robles.  Amanda attended Cal Poly University working in vineyards and tasting rooms while in school.  After graduating college she soon realized that her passion and love was selling and marketing local agriculture.  Amanda joined the Ancient Peaks team in 2006 when the company began, and has worked her way up to VP of Sales and Marketing.  Amanda is a current board of director for the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance and a past board of director for San Luis Obispo Wine Country and Visit San Luis Obispo County.
SATURDAY VINEYARD TOURS: Our Paso Robles vineyard tours are like no other. We personally guide you out to our estate Margarita Vineyard for an intimate hands-on look at growing wine from ground to glass, then we return to our private tasting annex, where you enjoy a wine and food pairing experience.
HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE: STARTS THURSDAY 12/12/13 4-7PM: The fun begins on Thursday from 4pm to 7pm as we host our complimentary open house party at our tasting room, offering light nibbles, cookies, hot cocoa, wine specials, and live music by a surprise guest!  Then throughout the weekend we will be offering a trio of culinary craft workshops!




WASHINGTON STATE WINE COMMISSION: The Washington State Wine Commission represents every licensed winery and every wine grape grower in Washington State. Guided by an appointed board, the Commission provides a marketing platform to raise positive awareness of the Washington State wine industry and generate greater demand for its wines. Funded almost entirely by the industry - through assessments based on grape and wine sales - the Commission is a state government agency, established by the legislature in 1987.
WASHINGTON STATE WINE’S “THE RECOMMENDEUER” APP NOW AVAILABLE FOR IPHONE - New Format Offers Same Entertaining, In-Depth Wine Education Led by Comedian Greg Proops. With its not-so-subtle notes of humor, an earthy educational backbone and lively creative overtones, Washington State Wine’s The Recommendeuer iPad app scored big points with wine lovers and technophiles alike after its release in October. Following this success, Washington State Wine today announced an iPhone version of the app is now available, allowing smartphone users to enjoy an in-depth, interactive regional wine immersion led by actor and comedian Greg Proops. The app is part of a national marketing campaign targeting the wine buyers, sommeliers and journalists who help shape consumer purchasing decisions. Wines from Washington State, the second-largest wine producing state in the United States, have a reputation for premium quality and consistent critical accolades. Through creative methods such as the iPhone app, Washington State Wine seeks to grow awareness of and increase demand for its wines. Washington State Wine worked with Seattle-based integrated marketing agency GreenRubino and consulted several wine professionals to curate the extensive and thorough educational content available on the app.

Monday, December 2, 2013

12/2-Michael Horn & Nicole Nielsen talk to Morgen McLaughlin and James Ontiveros

Morgen McLaughlin - Executive Director, Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Association
Morgen McLaughlin is the Executive Director of the Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Association a nonprofit membership organization representing over one hundred wineries in Santa Barbara County, California.  Previously she was the president and CEO of Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association, a regional tourism marketing association in the Finger Lakes region of New York State and owned and managed a small vineyard and winery in Connecticut.  Morgen has undergraduate degrees in English and Secondary Education from Boston College and is completing her Wine Business Management Certificate from Sonoma State University.  In her free time Morgen enjoys hiking, cooking, traveling, wine and spending time with her husband and three sons.

UPCOMING EVENTS:




Native9 is the fulfillment of my own American story two centuries in the making.  Tracing my roots back to the first men and women who settled in the Santa Maria Valley, I worked for hourly wages along with my parents to buy a small plot of land our ancestors' 8,900-acre Mexican land grant: a modest cattle ranch where I planted my 8-acre vineyard and a panoramic view of the land that had once been our own.  Planted in 1997 by my own two hands with the help of friends and family while I attended Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, Rancho Ontiveros Vineyard is now considered one of the finest sites for Pinot Noir in California.  As a natural extension of my deeply personal vision for this vineyard, Native9 is made in small lots with a nod to both Old World sensibilities and New World stylistic freedom with the help of my longtime friend and vetted winemaker, Paul Wilkins. Though I wasn't born into the wine industry by traditional means, I have vine-growing and farming in my blood.  The name Native9 reflects my gratitude to the generations of California farmers and ranchers who came before me.

I am a graduate of California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo with dual degrees in Fruit Science and Crop Science, as well as a graduate of the California Ag Leadership Program, Class XXXI.  In addition to maintaining Rancho Ontiveros, I serve as Director of Sales and Marketing at Bien Nacido Vineyard, which is located on one of the original Ontiveros family land grants. I have experience in both large and small scale vineyard management, including service as Southern Sonoma Vineyard Manager for Gallo of Sonoma in the Russian River and Sonoma Coast appellations and in grower relations for Kendall Jackson Winery where my territory stretched from San Benito County to Santa Ynez. As an active advocate for local agriculture, I see vast, untapped viticultural potential in the ranches around Santa Maria, and I'm working to elevate the valley’s burgeoning reputation as a world-class region for wine.

Monday, November 25, 2013

11/25-Michael Horn & Nicole Nielsen visit with Emma Swain & Andrew Murray

Emma Swain - St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery
St. Supéry crafts three distinct tiers of wine to please wine lovers from the novice to the connoisseur. The estate grows all the grapes for our wine portfolio.

·         Napa Valley Estate Wines: Bright, smooth, fruit-forward flavors are featured in our flagship varietal, Sauvignon Blanc, as well as our Cabernet Sauvignon, Oak Free Chardonnay and Moscato.
·         Bordeaux Estate Blends: These seductive, multi-textured yet balanced wines include our Elú red blend and Virtú white blend.
·         Single Vineyard Estate Wines: Only the best grapes from our estate vineyards are used for these concentrated, elegant wines. From our Dollarhide Estate Vineyard, we offer Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and other varietals. From our Rutherford Estate Vineyard, we offer Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.





Andrew Murray - Andrew Murray Vineyards
      Andrew Murray fell in love with the emerging Rhône varieties, Syrah and Viognier, in the late 1980’s while traveling through France’s Rhône Valley. Leaving his UC Berkeley paleontology studies behind, he pursued his new mistress, Syrah, with an internship in Australia. His three-month tryst evolved into a 15-month romance with the famed Australian Shiraz. Returning to the states, he earned a bachelor’s degree in viticulture and enology from UC Davis’ renowned wine program, then founded his eponymous Santa Ynez winery and vineyard.

He sought out growers who shared his passion for excellence and who dared to farm their vines to perilously low yields with the most advanced viticultural methods in the industry. This uncompromising winemaker’s lucid philosophy is summarized succinctly in three words: Passion – Evolution – Wisdom; the Passion of an unflagging love affair with Rhône varieties; the Evolution of winemaking techniques where even the most subtle nuance is divined from each new vintage; and the Wisdom gained with 20 years of winemaking experience.

Andrew’s focus and dedication to his craft have culminated in what Robert Parker, Jr. calls, “…one of the shining stars in the Santa Barbara firmament.” This perennially youthful perfectionist has been named ‘Tastemaker of the Year’ by Food and Wine Magazine, as well as, ‘One of the most fearsome talents in food and wine.’ Still, despite myriad accolades, Andrew remains the same modest, approachable, contemplative man he was when he first embarked to Australia back in 1992. He is eternally committed to vinicultural ‘Kaizen’ – the unrelenting pursuit of continuous improvement.
As Robert Parker, Jr. put it, “…Andrew Murray’s offerings are a breath of fresh air given their exceptionally high quality and realistic prices – reader take note.” We hope you’ll come visit us and delight in sampling the fruits of Andrew’s passionate labors.














Monday, November 18, 2013

11/18-Michael Horn and Nicoile Nielsen visit with Tobin James



Tobin James - Tobin James Cellars

Tobin (Toby) James grew up on a vineyard in Indiana, worked in a wine shop in Cincinnati and knew at the age of 18 that he would own a winery. He apprenticed at the Estrella River Winery, eventually being hired on full time and becoming their cellar master. From there, he headed to Eberle Winery to eventually make their wines with Gary Eberle.
When Peachy Canyon started, the owner needed a winemaker. A deal was struck so that Toby would become the founding winemaker and also have the opportunity to continue making Tobin James Cellars' wine at the same facility. The very first wine Toby made won a spot on the coveted "top 100" wines of the year with the Wine Spectator. Toby's reputation continued to grow, and in 1993 decided to build his own winery on highway 46 east of Paso Robles.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

11/11-Michael Horn & Nicole Nielsen talk with Ian Blackburn and Robin Kelly O' Conner

Ian Blackburn - Founder, LearnAboutWine.com
Master of Wine Student and innovative wine industry spokesperson, Ian Blackburn drinks wine for a living. Since it was established in 1995, Ian Blackburn has worked on buildingLearn About Wine into the leading source for wine education and events in Southern California. LearnAboutWine was the first business of its kind: a wine education and event website dedicated to the education, service, and enjoyment of wine.
Today LearnAboutWine has developed into Southern California’s premier company for wine education and events. Ian continues to innovate and focus on demystifying wine for everyone from the casual drinker to the potential collector. LearnAboutWine events include the wildly successful, monthly “TASTE” Series, a large-scale wine social; “PALATE BUILDER” Sensory evaluation class, VINTAGE – High end collectables tastings and LAW SCHOOL – the four week credential program that concludes with the BAR exam (Beverage Aptitude Review). Over 30,000 students in Southern California have participated in LearnAboutWine’s core class “Wine Camp,” an introduction into wine, and it is considered one of the top introduction courses in the region.
With a database of over 18,000 subscribers, Ian’s following and notoriety has grown with the popularity of wine. He has taught classes at Cordon Bleu, Cal Poly Pomona, UCLA, The Learning Annex, and other prestigious universities. LearnAboutWine maintains an active calendar of classes and events offered to the public, but thrive as a source of private and corporate events. Ian’s clients range from small social clubs and church organizations, to Fortune Five Hundred companies likeAmgen, Pfizer, Disney, Nestle, Deloitte, Latham Watkins, Ernest and Young, Bank of America/US Trust/Countrywide, Paul Hastings, Quinn Emanuel and KPMG.
Ian’s passion for wine and entertaining makes him one of the top spokespersons in the United States; he was trained as an educational Ambassador for the Napa Valley Vintners and the Region of Champagne, France. Ian’s expertise and entertaining ways can be heard regularly on Los Angeles radio airwaves likeKCRW, KLOS, KROQ, INDIE 103.1, 98.7 and Ian even appeared as an expert on ABC’s “The Bachelor.” Creating wine lifestyle events in order to get more people involved in the enjoyment and appreciation of wine is Ian’s forte. Commissioned by Wiley Publications to write The Pleasure of Wine in 2004, Ian is currently studying for his Masters of Wine and working on his second book at his home office in Downtown Los Angeles.






Robin Kelley O’Connor - Wine Educator & International Wine Judge                                                                                    

A leading wine educator, international wine judge, wine writer, and sommelier, Robin Kelley O’Connor recently joined Italian Wine Merchants (IWM), where he’ll be adding his thirty years of experience, authority and passion to seminars, dinner events, sales, offerings and wine education. In addition. Mr. O’Connor was previously Lead Specialist & Head of Wine, Americas for Christie’s Auction House. He is a Christie’s trained charity auctioneer. Prior to Christie’s, he was Director of Sales and Education for Manhattan wine and spirits retailer Sherry-Lehmann, winner of Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s 2010 Wine Retailer of the Year Award. Preceding Sherry-Lehmann, he was Trade Liaison and director of trade and consumer education in the Americas for the Bordeaux Wine Bureau (Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux) for 20 years. Robin holds Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) and Certified Wine Educator (CWE) certifications from the Society of Wine Educators and passed the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Certified Sommelier exam. O'Connor served as president of the Society of Wine Educators from 2003-2007, is on the board of directors of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Wine & Food, and has been a regular panelist at the Food and Wine Magazine Classic in Aspen for 20 years. As a popular wine educator and spokesperson, he has conducted over 2,500 seminars; written for the Trenton Times, Santé Magazine, Wine & Spirit; and served as senior editor for Kevin Zraly’s Complete Wine Course 25th Anniversary Edition. For over a year during 2008-2009 he traveled around the world with Kevin visiting over 20 Countries, 80 wine regions, and 500 appellations and tasted more than 7,000 wines. Among his many professional honors, Mr. O’Connor bears the distinction of induction into the wine world’s most prestigious institutions, including the Commanderie du Bontemps de Médoc- des Graves et de Sauternes-Barsac, the Jurade de Saint-Emilion and Les Hospitaliers de Pomerol.

Monday, November 4, 2013

11/4-Michael Horn & Nicole Nielsen talk with Fred Dame & Doug Margerum

Fred Dame - Master Sommelier, San Diego Food & Wine Festival
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 Vice-President of Prestige Accounts, American Wine & Spirits of California. He is currently the President of the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation. He holds Honorary Professorships at Purdue University and The University of South Carolina.

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 was elected to the prestigious National Restaurant Association College of Diplomates in 2004. In 2006 he received Sante Magazine’s Wine Professional of the Year as well as Starwine’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2010 he was elected to the American Academy of Chefs Hall of Fame.

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.

San Diego Food & Wine Festival - As one of the largest wine and food festivals in the nation, the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival has helped shine the light on San Diego's thriving food scene. We've got our eyes and ears peeled for the city's most drool-worthy restaurants and newest food trends to hit the streets, bringing you an epicurean experience unlike any other. The magnitude of culinary talent in San Diego combined with an international showcase of the world's premiere wines and spirits, and the nation's trendsetting culinary masters, makes attendance at the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival a mouthwatering feast and precursor to the Thankgiving holiday.


Margerum Wine Company is committed to creating handcrafted wines using only the highest quality grapes so that we can make wines that are indicative of the place where they are grown.  We strive to make wines naturally, to make wines that have individual characteristics and to make wines with personality.  The scale of production is kept at a level where we can touch and know the wine as it is raised to the bottle – the antithesis of mass production. The standards of quality are measured by our criteria – not by external sources.  We make wines we personally enjoy – some to drink young, all for the table, and others for long aging in cool cellars for our children to enjoy. I started my food and wine explorations at a young age while traveling with my parents in France. My passion for food and wine was enhanced as I worked in restaurants as a cook and server throughout my high school and college years.

Coinciding with my graduation from UCSB with a degree in Business Economics in 1981, my family purchased WINE CASK - an existing wine store. We quickly expanded to include a simple bistro adjacent to wine store. In 1991, the restaurant expanded to the “Gold Room” in Santa Barbara’s legendary El Paseo and the adjacent Intermezzo cafe opened in 1996. The two restaurants and the wine store became a Santa Barbara destination of choice among food and wine cognoscenti.

Our cuisine and wine program was a combination of diverse influences I experienced in my long exploration of food and wine. the myriad of flavors from the world with California’s Asian/Mexican influences. This mix was the recipe for creative, simple and refined food paired with appropriate wines in a congenial atmosphere. We garnered critical success from the outset with praise from Gourmet, Bon Appetite, and the Los Angeles Times. Then, in 1994, the WINE CASK became one of 74 restaurants in the world to earn the Wine Spectator Grand Award; an award we have claimed every year since. I sold the WINE CASK in 2007 after deciding to devote all of my energies to wine making.

In 2009 we re-opened the Wine Cask with new partners Mitchell Sjerven (bouchon) and Anda Askar. We opened to immediate critical acclaim and were warmly greeted by the eager to return Santa Barbara community.  Margerum Wine Company began in 2001. My philosophy is a return to wine making in its previous form of production – handcrafted and personal. We currently produce 6,000 cases of wine.

I am the wine maker for Happy Canyon Vineyards. We produce under the BARRACK label, a luxury Cabernet Sauvignon called  Ten~Goal and an elegant Merlot called Brand, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon; a Merlot based blend; PIOCHO
blend of all three varietals grown on the property Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot; and a new approach to varietal Cabernet Franc called CHUKKER.

I am the consulting wine maker for CENT’ANNI. A new vineyard planted to a variety of clones of Sangiovese and located in the heart of the Santa Ynez. This small estate is dedicated to producing world class, old-world Sangiovese.  I also consult for Chêne Bleu wines located in small village of Crestet in the southern Rhône.  MWC imports wine: from Champagne, J.L. Vergnon; from Tuscany, Castello di Tornano and Casa al Vento; from Slovenija, Goriska Brda; from Burgundy, Domaine Sabre and from the south of France Chêne Bleu wines.

Monday, October 28, 2013

10/28-Michael Horn & Nicole Nielsen visit with Larry Van Aalst and Jeff Faber

Larry Van Aalst - Sommelier/WCOW Show Host
Host (The Sonoma Report), CRN Digital Talk Radio, Santa Rosa, CA
The Equus Restaurant wine list was judged "Best of Show" in the 1995 and 1998 Sonoma County Harvest Fair. The gallery of Sonoma County wines, nearly 300 bottles hand-picked by their winemakers, sets the tone--wine country splendor in a classic setting. Larry Van Aalst, Equus Sommelier, has been selecting wines for Equus for over a decade. Larry has been judging at the Cloverdale Citrus Fair/San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition for over a decade likewise, an opportunity for Larry to keep abreast of fine wines from California.
Larry will discuss 2012 Sonoma harvest and crush and update listeners on some upcoming events. 

Jeff Faber – Opolo Vineyards, Sales Manager
They say good fences make good neighbors, but it was a love of wine and winemaking that was the entrée between Opolo owners Rick Quinn and Dave Nichols. Their two families have lived side-by-side in Camarillo since 1996. As Nichols remembers, “I knew Rick to say hello to, but that was about it. Then one day, he said to me, ‘Hey Dave, I just planted 10,000 grapevines!’ “ And so began the evolution of Opolo, one of Paso Robles’ newest labels.

Quinn and Nichols have been neighbors in two counties since 1997 when Nichols bought vineyard property adjoining Quinn’s. Together they now own about 280 acres of vineyards in Paso Robles, about 200 acres on the Eastside and 80 on the Westside. The Westside vineyards are in the Adelaide hills, producing wines such as Pinot Noir and Sangiovese, while the Eastside properties produce varietals such as Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. The majority of vineyards have been producing fruit since 1998, and a small percentage of it has been finding its way into wine made by Quinn and Nichols ever since.

“We both love to make wine, and have made our own ‘backyard’ wine for some time,” said Nichols. For Quinn, that “some time” dates back to his childhood in Minnesota. “I grew up in Duluth, in an Italian, Serbian, and Croatian neighborhood.” Quinn recalled. “Our families would make wine from grapes we’d ordered from California that would be delivered in a boxcar. We didn’t have any of this ‘pick in the early morning and crush a couple of hours later.’ By the time we got the grapes they were already fermenting!”

Quinn moved to California in 1979, and continued to pursue his love of wine and winemaking as a hobby. He began to source grapes from Fratelli Perata in Paso Robles. “I got wonderful fruit from them, but in 1994 they said they just didn’t have any Merlot to spare, so I went out and bought some Westside vineyard property sight unseen, to assure I’d always have a source of grapes for my home winemaking.”

Though the impetus for buying that first parcel of vineyard was having grapes for his own winemaking, Quinn has always sold the vast majority of his crop to other labels. Quinn’s and Nichols’ vineyards sold fruit to quality labels such as Hess Collection, Neibaum Coppola, St Supery, Harrison Vineyards, Wild Horse, Castoro Cellars, and Fetzer.

Most of the fruit from Quinn’s and Nichols’ vineyards will continue to be sold to other labels, but the pairs’ estate vineyards will be a major source of fruit for the Opolo label. This is a situation that both Nichols and Quinn relish. “It really helps us as vineyard owners to get direct feedback about the wines we’re producing from our vineyards,” explained Nichols. “We want to make great wines, and the more information we can get, the more we can control the viticultural process and find out what we’re doing right.” Quinn agreed, saying “we obviously want to optimize our farming methods to produce excellent fruit, and because we have total control of the vineyards, we can apply the methods we believe will produce the absolute best quality fruit and, therefore, the best possible wine.”

1999 marked the first commercial crush under the Opolo label, when Quinn and Nichols produced Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, and Muscat Canelli. Quinn and Nichols have essentially taken over the viticulture and winemaking duties, not an easy task considering they both still have their “day jobs.” Quinn used to own one of the largest Century 21 brokerages in the country and Nichols runs his own wireless electronics firm. Neither has been able to convince their families to move up to Paso Robles full-time, but they’re working on it!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

10/21-Michael Horn and Nicole Nielsen talk with Ray Falkner & Morgan Clendenen

Ray Falkner - Falkner Winery
Located in Temecula Valley, CA, Falkner Winery is a long time in the making.  Our story is one of passion, perseverance and of course great wine.
Together they bring great business experience and a love for wine together to form a winery dedicated to producing high quality wines and a tasting room that generates fun and excitement. The winery opened July 1, 2000 with a joyous kickoff over the 4th of July. Based in the South Coast community of Temecula, the Falkner Winery is located near the crest of a 1500-foot hill that offers visitors a spectacular view of the valley below.

The gift shop offers unique gifts and food products that allow visitors to purchase lunch and dine on picnic tables located in their grassy, tree lined picnic area. With both inside and outside wine tasting areas, visitors have the opportunity to maximize their enjoyment of wine, food, and nature.
Call us today for information about exquisite wine tasting, premier fine dining, or for expert consultation with planning your memorable Temecula wedding.  We would love to hear from you and hope you enjoy our site.


Cold Heaven Cellars was founded in 1996 by owner/winemaker Morgan Clendenen who pioneered the cool-climate viognier style that the winery has become famous for producing. Using fruit from top-quality vineyards from three separate appellations in Santa Barbara County, Cold Heaven highlights viognier from the Le Bon Climat Vineyard, a Clendenen family-owned property that is farmed organically and the historic Sanford and Benedict Vineyard in Sta. Rita Hills.

Although Cold Heaven Cellars has become synonymous with California viognier, in 2003 a small amount of cool-climate syrah was produced and continues today. In 2008, pinot noir was added to the program, and currently Cold Heaven boasts two separate pinots, using fruit from the Sta. Rita. Hills and Santa Maria Valley AVA’s. All wines are produced using gentle cellar techniques in our small cellar in Buellton, California.

Monday, October 14, 2013

10/14-Michael Horn & Nicole Nielsen talk with Emma Swain & Morgen McLaughlin

Emma Swain - St. Supery Estate Vineyards & Winery 
Harvest Updates:
-St. Supéry’s 2013 harvest season kicked off with Sauvignon Blanc on August   20th.
-Now that we are in week 8 of harvest, all of our Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon and Muscat Canelli, are  harvested, processed, and on their journey to becoming exceptional wine.
-We were pleased with both the quantity of our yields and the quality of the grapes for all of our white varietals.
-Our red varietals are also coming along nicely. We’ve finished harvesting Merlot and have just a few parcels of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot that still need to be picked.
-We began bringing our reds in slightly early this year and are pleased with the hang time they received on the vine over our mild spring and summer.
-The majority of our Cabernet Sauvignon continues to hang on the vine and is holding up nicely.

Interactive Wine Classes – 4 fun ways to explore your palate and learn something new about your wine preferences.
-Wine & Cheese Pairing 
-Aromatherapy with a Corkscrew 
-Five Bordeaux Varietals and Your Five Senses 
-Inspired Whites 
Fun Upcoming Events:
-Cabernet is for Bacon Lovers, November 1st 3 – 5 pm
-Napa Valley Film Festival and Flavor! Napa Valley



Morgen McLaughlin - Executive Director, Santa Barbara County Vintners
CELEBRATION OF HARVEST RECAP…The Santa Barbara County Vintners' Association is a non-profit organization founded in 1983 to support and promote Santa Barbara County as a premium wine producing and wine grape growing region. The Association includes winery members whose annual production is at least 75% Santa Barbara County labeled, as well as grower/vineyard members and business associations.The Vintners’ Association produces festivals, seminars and tastings and provides information to consumers and the wine and travel media.

Individual wineries make many contributions to the local community, through donations of product, personnel and monetary support. In addition, the Santa Barbara County Vintners' Association hosts special events, the proceeds of which go in part to local nonprofit organizations. The Vintners' Association's mission is to promote the wine industry of Santa Barbara County and, in doing so, it brings favorable media coverage to the area and helps support the tourism industry which is vital to the region.





Tuesday, October 8, 2013

10/7-Michael Horn & Nicole Nielsen visit with Robin Kelley O’Connor & Peter Work




Robin Kelley O’Connor - Wine Educator & International Wine Judge                                                                                    

A leading wine educator, international wine judge, wine writer, and sommelier, Robin Kelley O’Connor recently joined Italian Wine Merchants (IWM), where he’ll be adding his thirty years of experience, authority and passion to seminars, dinner events, sales, offerings and wine education. In addition. Mr. O’Connor was previously Lead Specialist & Head of Wine, Americas for Christie’s Auction House. He is a Christie’s trained charity auctioneer. Prior to Christie’s, he was Director of Sales and Education for Manhattan wine and spirits retailer Sherry-Lehmann, winner of Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s 2010 Wine Retailer of the Year Award. Preceding Sherry-Lehmann, he was Trade Liaison and director of trade and consumer education in the Americas for the Bordeaux Wine Bureau (Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux) for 20 years. Robin holds Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) and Certified Wine Educator (CWE) certifications from the Society of Wine Educators and passed the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Certified Sommelier exam. O'Connor served as president of the Society of Wine Educators from 2003-2007, is on the board of directors of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Wine & Food, and has been a regular panelist at the Food and Wine Magazine Classic in Aspen for 20 years. As a popular wine educator and spokesperson, he has conducted over 2,500 seminars; written for the Trenton Times, Santé Magazine, Wine & Spirit; and served as senior editor for Kevin Zraly’s Complete Wine Course 25th Anniversary Edition. For over a year during 2008-2009 he traveled around the world with Kevin visiting over 20 Countries, 80 wine regions, and 500 appellations and tasted more than 7,000 wines. Among his many professional honors, Mr. O’Connor bears the distinction of induction into the wine world’s most prestigious institutions, including the Commanderie du Bontemps de Médoc- des Graves et de Sauternes-Barsac, the Jurade de Saint-Emilion and Les Hospitaliers de Pomerol.



Some dream of spending the rest of their lives on golf courses and cruise ships, but with a taste for business and a love of Santa Barbara wine country, we chose a different retirement plan.
In 1999 we purchased 82 acres in what would later become the Sta. Rita Hills appellation, and named it “Ampelos”, which is the Greek word for vine. The name has a two-fold purpose. First, we believe that all great wines start in the vineyard. Secondly, we have close-ties with Greece; we were married there and own a small bed and breakfast, called Ampelos Resort, on the island of Folegandros. We bought the land with dreams of someday watching the nightly sunset over the hills and our dogs running through the vines.
At the time we were still working long hours in corporate America, and delegated our son Don (now winemaker at Sea Smoke) to get the vineyard started. Our vineyard consultant assured us that the land could produce a great vineyard with patience and care, but we had little time to focus on the vineyard with non-stop business travel, meetings and conferences.
In 2001, the first 15 acres were planted in the Ampelos vineyard. That same year, we landed in Newark on the morning of September 11th. Peter had a meeting in the first tower of the World Trade Center, and interrupted his plan to board Path 1 of the New York Subway when his meeting was canceled. If he had gotten on the train, 8:45 am would have found him under the towers as the first plane hit.
When we finally got out of the city five days later, we went straight to our safe place—the Ampelos vineyard. That is when we made the life-changing decision to quit our corporate jobs and focus all our effort into pursuing our dream of full-time viticulture. “Someday” was no longer part of our vocabulary.
We moved to the Santa Ynez Valley in January of 2002. We began to learn to nurture the soil and prune the vines to prepare for the first harvest, and purchased one ton of Pinot Noir and two tons of Syrah in order to learn winemaking as we waited for the vines to mature. We toiled under the tutelage of our son Don and several expert consultants.
2004 marked the inaugural Ampelos vineyard harvest. The first harvest yielded 15 tons of Pinot Noir and 6 tons of Syrah. In 2005, we planted 10 acres on top of the original 15, totaling 25 acres. Pinot Noir and Syrah remain our primary varietals, with a line of Viognier and just under two acres of Grenache—the unsung hero of the Sta. Rita Hills. We persist in experimenting with different grapes and winemaking styles, as we are major believers in the journey being the destination.
With the efforts of family and friends, wise guides, and a twist of fate, we have come to create our small, sustainable vineyard and winery. We have gone from expanding big businesses to focusing on creating a limited release of high-quality product that people can afford to share with friends and loved ones. For us, sharing those gifts is what makes it all worthwhile.

Monday, September 30, 2013

9/30-Michael Horn & Nicole Nielsen visit with Chase Carhartt

Chase Carhartt – Assist. Winemaker & Head of Marketing & Sales, Carhartt Vineyards
The Vineyard - The ten-acre Carhartt Vineyard sits high on a mesa with maximum sun exposure and a soil structure that lends itself to the production of outstanding fruit. Planted in 1996, the vineyard is situated in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley appellation (AVA), blessed with a climate that is particularly suited to Rhône and Bordeaux varietals. The cool mornings quickly move into hot, sunny days that remain warm until sundown. The growing season is long, often stretching into late November, which allows the grapes to fully ripen and achieve their optimal balance of sugars, acids and spicy flavors.

The Tasting Room - Come and visit with the winemakers, Brooke and Mike, at the "World's Smallest Tasting Room", just one block north of the Flagpole in downtown Los Olivos to taste our full range of current wines. Carhartt wines are also available from the website store. See what our customers have to say about the tasting room onYelp!.

Santa Barbara County - Celebration of Harvest Weekend - October 11 – 14 - The Celebration of Harvest Weekend, our annual celebration of the year's bounty, where vintners take a break from the vineyards and cellars to pour their wines and share harvest tales. The highlight of the Columbus Day weekend is the Celebration of Harvest Festival on Saturday, October 12 at the Rancho Sisquoc Winery in the heart of Santa Barbara Wine County in Santa Maria Valley, where more than 100 Santa Barbara County wineries gather to present their wines, often poured by the winemakers themselves. The Festival also presents some of the best local food from restaurants, catering companies and gourmet food creators.

Throughout the weekend select wineries host their own events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, ranging from winemaker dinners through library tastings and sales to new wine releases and barrel tastings.
A favorite feature of the weekend is the Vintners' Visa - your passport to complimentary wine tastings at twelve winery tasting rooms - use the Vintners' Visa to explore new wineries - or revisit old friends. The Vintners' Visa can be used on all four days of the long weekend - Friday October 11th through Monday October 14th. It is a great value at only $35 per person!