Monday, May 26, 2014

5/26 Peter Dills, James Hall

Peter Dills - The "King of Cuisine"

Peter Dills readily admits to being born into a world of food. The son of noted restaurant critic Elmer Dills, Peter and his family moved to Pasadena in 1970 from the “Crab Capitol of the World,” Baltimore.

As far back as he can remember Peter was following his father from restaurant to restaurant, always tasting, always learning about food and always discovering new and exciting foods.
As his food adventure comes full circle, he now stars on KABC radio and TV with the popular Food and Travel show, "Dining with Dills", named after his father.

Listen to Peter SUNDAYS at 5pm on KABC 790AM Talk Radio. You can watch “Dining with Dills” TV show in Southern California on the Charter channel 101 Saturday and Sunday at 7pm. Daily reviews are on the PBS OC Channel and HLN.

“We all have to eat and most of us eat out fairly often. So, why not eat well? I feel that it’s my job to tell diners about some of the places where they can indeed eat well. Visit my site often and give me your feedback on the different foods, wines, and locations I review.”




Since 1988, founder and winemaker James Hall has guided the Patz & Hall winemaking program, instilling it with his own boldness, imagination and trademark perfectionism. Combining a belief in great viticulture, traditional winemaking practices, and the judicious use of innovative techniques, James has earned a reputation for crafting dramatic benchmark Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs that balance vibrant power with vineyard-inspired depth and sophistication.
The son of an English professor, who was also a wine enthusiast, James developed an early appreciation for fine wine during travels with his family to Europe in the late 1960s. While studying liberal arts at the University of California, Santa Cruz, James met Anne Moses, and together the two began exploring their shared interest in wine. Though not part of his curriculum, James started studying winemaking textbooks in his spare time. Inspired, he transferred to the University of California, Davis, to study viticulture and enology. Eager to experience the hands-on work of winemaking, James took his first winery job at Felton-Empire in 1981, where he was able to learn from renowned winemakers Leo McCloskey and Patrick Mahaney. “Leo was the scientist, obsessed with unraveling the mysteries of wine, Pat was the craftsman, meticulously working with the raw materials. It was a remarkable experience learning these complementary approaches.”
In 1983, James joined Napa Valley’s Flora Springs Winery and Vineyards as assistant winemaker. There, he spent four years developing his expertise crafting barrel-fermented, small-lot Chardonnays. While at Flora Springs, James struck up a close friendship with sales manager Donald Patz, and the two soon discovered that they shared a similar philosophical approach to wine and winemaking. In the spring of 1988, while working as the winemaker and estate manager for Honig Winery, James teamed up with Donald and Heather Patz, and Anne Moses to make and release Patz & Hall’s inaugural Napa Valley Chardonnay.
As Patz & Hall’s winemaker for over a quarter century, James has built lasting relationships with such renowned growers as Larry Hyde, Charlie and Bud Chenoweth, Gary Pisoni and Lee Martinelli to create an acclaimed portfolio of single-vineyard wines. At the same time, he has designed and implemented cutting-edge equipment and procedures, including a custom punch-over device, in an effort to constantly enhance quality. A master of his craft, and a widely respected veteran winemaker, James is regularly asked to speak about artisan winemaking.

NEW SONOMA HOUSE AT PATZ & HALL IS UNVEILED

Located in the heart of Sonoma wine country, the Sonoma House at Patz & Hall features enhanced visitor amenities and a 12-acre estate vineyard.
Patz & Hall is happy to announce the opening of its new Sonoma House at Patz & Hall at 21200 8th Street East, just a few miles south of the Sonoma town square. Located near the Highway 12 corridor, against a backdrop of vineyards and mountains, the Sonoma House features a luxurious new Tasting Salon. Guests at the Tasting Salon are welcomed for private, by-appointment seated tastings of Patz & Hall’s acclaimed vineyard-designate Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, paired with gourmet savory panna cotta food complements. The new location also includes a drop-in tasting bar, a member-exclusive Reserve Room and an expansive patio surrounded by 12 acres of estate vineyards newly planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The Sonoma House Salon welcomes guests for by-appointment tastings Thursday through Monday at 10:30 am, 1:00 pm and 3:30 pm. These seated, private tastings include six Chardonnay and Pinot Noir single-vineyard-designate wines, paired w­ith a seasonally inspired selection of four savory panna cottas catered by Chef Natalie Niksa of La Saison. The winter 2014 lineup of panna cottas includes lemongrass with Dungeness crab, ham and egg with mustard, truffles and milk, and candy cap and beech mushroom. The Salon experience is $50 per person and lasts approximately 60 minutes.

The Sonoma House also offers seated, by-appointment tastings at its stylish tasting bar, Wednesday through Sunday. These tastings begin on the hour starting at 10 a.m. with the last tasting at 4 p.m. The tasting bar experience features four Patz & Hall wines served in an intimate group setting at the 12-seat marble bar, at a cost of $25 per person. Tasting bar guests may also purchase cheese plates exclusively featuring artisan Sonoma County cheeses, as well as select prepared specialty items from the Sonoma House shop. Drop-in tasting bar guests are accommodated if space is available.
The Patz & Hall team has been chronicling the construction of the Sonoma House since August 2013 atsonomahouseblog.com.

ABOUT PATZ & HALL
Founded in 1988, Patz & Hall combines the collective expertise of Donald Patz, Anne Moses, Heather Patz and James Hall. Together, this team has turned a desire to craft benchmark, single-vineyard Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs into one of California’s most respected artisan wineries. By cultivating personal relationships with a handful of California’s finest winegrowers, Patz & Hall has created an acclaimed portfolio of wines highlighting the terroir-inspired character of top vineyards in the Sonoma Coast, Napa Valley, Russian River Valley, Mendocino County and Santa Lucia Highlands appellations.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

5/19-Michael Horn & Nicole Nielsen visit with Gary Pisoni

Gary Pisoni - Founder & Visionary, Pisoni Vineyards
A special place, Pisoni Vineyards expresses the land and climate of the Santa Lucia Highlands and the spirit of the Pisoni Family. The site is a source of exceptional Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah.
First planted by Gary Pisoni in 1982, Pisoni Vineyards consists of small vineyard blocks arranged on and around the ridges of the mountainous landscape. Ranging in size from one-half to seventeen acres, the vineyard blocks perch at an altitude of 1,300 feet in the granite-laced mountains of the coastal Santa Lucia Range.
Inspired by the Burgundy tradition of having several wineries source fruit from the same vineyard, Gary Pisoni has formed relationships with some of the most prestigious Pinot Noir producers in California. With agreements based on handshake alone, these wineries are guaranteed specific rows and blocks each year. They purchase grapes at a per-acre price rather than a per-ton price, which maintains the focus on quality and not yields.
In addition to supplying fruit to artisan producers of vineyard-designated wines, the Pisoni Family retains a portion of the vineyard for the production of Pisoni Estate wine.
The Practice
Vineyard management is meticulous. Under Mark Pisoni's leadership, a long-time permanent crew of 18 skilled individuals perform all the work by hand. Every decision implements sustainable farming practices and long-term considerations.
This commitment, combined with the rocky soils and cold Monterey Bay weather, produce serious and compelling wines.
The Family
In 1952 Jane and Eddie Pisoni began farming vegetables in the fertile Salinas Valley. A celery-crop profit in 1979 provided the down payment for the Santa Lucia Highlands property that became Pisoni Vineyards. Their love for the land provided the place where their son Gary could realize his dreams.
Gary developed a love of wine while attending college. He started collecting fine French and German wines, and he made his first wine in his garage in 1978 at the age of twenty-five. In 1982, Gary broke ground and planted the first vines at Pisoni Vineyards. He was up against many obstacles, including not having a water source at the time.
Mark Pisoni, the vineyard manager, completed a B.S. in Agricultural Economics at the University of California, Davis, and an M.S. in Farm Business Management at Cornell University. He oversees the meticulous care of both Pisoni Vineyards and Pisoni Farms.
Jeff Pisoni is the winemaker. He earned a B.S. in Enology at California State University, Fresno, and got hands-on experience at premium wineries before becoming the Pisoni Estate and Lucia winemaker in 2002.
The Wine
The Pisoni Family produces one wine each year under the label bearing its name: Pisoni Estate Pinot Noir. Although actual quantities vary with fruit yields, typical production is a mere 500 cases annually.
Often noted for their deep color and intensity, wines from Pisoni Vineyards offer complex flavors and layers of undulating texture. The rocky mountain soil and the long, cool growing season provide the fundamental character of the wine, and the tannin and acid structure contribute to the age-worthiness.
LUCIA
Lucia vineyard designated Santa Lucia Highlands AVA wines.
Lucia is the sister label of the Pisoni Estate wines. Whereas Pisoni Estate is committed to a single expression of the Pisoni Vineyards, Lucia represents the collection of vineyards that the Pisoni Family farms: Pisoni Vineyards, Soberanes Vineyard and Garys' Vineyard (the latter two farmed in partnership with Gary Franscioni).
The wines of Lucia are vineyard designated Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah from these vineyards and eponymous Santa Lucia Highlands AVA cuvées with varying percentages of each vineyard blended together.
Lucia wines are made alongside the Pisoni Estate wines using the same exacting standards for quality. They are sold via mailing list and high-end restaurants and retailers. If you are on the mailing list for Pisoni Estate wines, you will automatically have the opportunity to purchase the Lucia offerings.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

5/12-Michael Horn & Nicole Nielsen visit with Chris Donatiello & Jay Johnstone

Chris Donatiello - President, Russian River Valley Winegrowers

In his fourth year on the Russian River Valley Winemakers (RRVW) board, Chris serves as board president and remains an active member of the marketing committee.  A founding member of the millennial council, he helped create and host the first Single Vineyard Night, an event directed at younger wine drinkers in San Francisco.  In addition, he was key to the development of the Pinot Classic, now moving into its second year.

After serving as Senior Director of Brand Marketing for Empire Merchants in New York City, Chris headed west to make wines with a great sense of place and character.  His love of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay brought him to the Russian River Valley.  Chris’s seeks to create a wine that focuses on the fruit, expressing both elegance and power.  

ABOUT PINOT CLASSIC MAY 24-26 - The Pinot Classic, is a multi-day celebration of Russian River Valley’s internationally acclaimed Pinot Noir, taking place over Memorial Day weekend from May 24 ? May 26.  The highly anticipated weekend of events explores the rugged beauty of this largely undiscovered destination and it’s hidden gems including world-class wines, local food and unmatched hospitality.  The Pinot Classic comprises multiple events including the annual Passport to Pinot barrel tasting, and the second annual Pinot Classic Paulée Dinner.  In addition, a seminar on the AVA’s neighborhoods initiative will take place on Saturday, May 24 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Fountaingrove Inn. Click here for ticket information!

ABOUT RRVW - The Russian River Valley Winegrowers (RRVW) is a non-profit marketing and educational organization dedicated to maintaining the agricultural diversity of the Russian River Valley while preserving its natural resources and protecting its authentic farming heritage.  As a trade association that supports grape farmers and wineries, our nearly 300 members participate in educational seminars, sponsored and consumer events, and community networking.  The RRVW provides regular marketing, publicity and community relations support and is committed to promoting the Russian River Valley as the world’s premiere winegrowing region.


Jay Johnstone - Former Major League Baseball Player

John William Johnstone Jr. (born November 20, 1945) is an American former professional baseballplayer, active from 1966 to 1985 for the California AngelsChicago White SoxOakland Athletics,Philadelphia PhilliesNew York YankeesSan Diego PadresLos Angeles Dodgers, and Chicago Cubs. Johnstone was known as a versatile outfielder with a good sense of humor, known for keeping clubhouses loose with occasional pranks and gimmicks. He later served as a radio color commentator for the Yankees (1989–1990) and Phillies (1992–1993).

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

5/5-Michael Horn & Nicole Nielsen visit with Peter Dills and James Hall

Peter Dills - The "King of Cuisine"
Peter Dills readily admits to being born into a world of food. The son of noted restaurant critic Elmer Dills, Peter and his family moved to Pasadena in 1970 from the “Crab Capitol of the World,” Baltimore.
As far back as he can remember Peter was following his father from restaurant to restaurant, always tasting, always learning about food and always discovering new and exciting foods.
As his food adventure comes full circle, he now stars on KABC radio and TV with the popular Food and Travel show, "Dining with Dills", named after his father.
Listen to Peter SUNDAYS at 5pm on KABC 790AM Talk Radio. You can watch “Dining with Dills” TV show in Southern California on the Charter channel 101 Saturday and Sunday at 7pm. Daily reviews are on the PBS OC Channel and HLN.
“We all have to eat and most of us eat out fairly often. So, why not eat well? I feel that it’s my job to tell diners about some of the places where they can indeed eat well. Visit my site often and give me your feedback on the different foods, wines, and locations I review.”




Since 1988, founder and winemaker James Hall has guided the Patz & Hall winemaking program, instilling it with his own boldness, imagination and trademark perfectionism. Combining a belief in great viticulture, traditional winemaking practices, and the judicious use of innovative techniques, James has earned a reputation for crafting dramatic benchmark Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs that balance vibrant power with vineyard-inspired depth and sophistication.
The son of an English professor, who was also a wine enthusiast, James developed an early appreciation for fine wine during travels with his family to Europe in the late 1960s. While studying liberal arts at the University of California, Santa Cruz, James met Anne Moses, and together the two began exploring their shared interest in wine. Though not part of his curriculum, James started studying winemaking textbooks in his spare time. Inspired, he transferred to the University of California, Davis, to study viticulture and enology. Eager to experience the hands-on work of winemaking, James took his first winery job at Felton-Empire in 1981, where he was able to learn from renowned winemakers Leo McCloskey and Patrick Mahaney. “Leo was the scientist, obsessed with unraveling the mysteries of wine, Pat was the craftsman, meticulously working with the raw materials. It was a remarkable experience learning these complementary approaches.”
In 1983, James joined Napa Valley’s Flora Springs Winery and Vineyards as assistant winemaker. There, he spent four years developing his expertise crafting barrel-fermented, small-lot Chardonnays. While at Flora Springs, James struck up a close friendship with sales manager Donald Patz, and the two soon discovered that they shared a similar philosophical approach to wine and winemaking. In the spring of 1988, while working as the winemaker and estate manager for Honig Winery, James teamed up with Donald and Heather Patz, and Anne Moses to make and release Patz & Hall’s inaugural Napa Valley Chardonnay.
As Patz & Hall’s winemaker for over a quarter century, James has built lasting relationships with such renowned growers as Larry Hyde, Charlie and Bud Chenoweth, Gary Pisoni and Lee Martinelli to create an acclaimed portfolio of single-vineyard wines. At the same time, he has designed and implemented cutting-edge equipment and procedures, including a custom punch-over device, in an effort to constantly enhance quality. A master of his craft, and a widely respected veteran winemaker, James is regularly asked to speak about artisan winemaking.

NEW SONOMA HOUSE AT PATZ & HALL IS UNVEILED

Located in the heart of Sonoma wine country, the Sonoma House at Patz & Hall features enhanced visitor amenities and a 12-acre estate vineyard.
Patz & Hall is happy to announce the opening of its new Sonoma House at Patz & Hall at 21200 8th Street East, just a few miles south of the Sonoma town square. Located near the Highway 12 corridor, against a backdrop of vineyards and mountains, the Sonoma House features a luxurious new Tasting Salon. Guests at the Tasting Salon are welcomed for private, by-appointment seated tastings of Patz & Hall’s acclaimed vineyard-designate Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, paired with gourmet savory panna cotta food complements. The new location also includes a drop-in tasting bar, a member-exclusive Reserve Room and an expansive patio surrounded by 12 acres of estate vineyards newly planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The Sonoma House Salon welcomes guests for by-appointment tastings Thursday through Monday at 10:30 am, 1:00 pm and 3:30 pm. These seated, private tastings include six Chardonnay and Pinot Noir single-vineyard-designate wines, paired w­ith a seasonally inspired selection of four savory panna cottas catered by Chef Natalie Niksa of La Saison. The winter 2014 lineup of panna cottas includes lemongrass with Dungeness crab, ham and egg with mustard, truffles and milk, and candy cap and beech mushroom. The Salon experience is $50 per person and lasts approximately 60 minutes.
The Sonoma House also offers seated, by-appointment tastings at its stylish tasting bar, Wednesday through Sunday. These tastings begin on the hour starting at 10 a.m. with the last tasting at 4 p.m. The tasting bar experience features four Patz & Hall wines served in an intimate group setting at the 12-seat marble bar, at a cost of $25 per person. Tasting bar guests may also purchase cheese plates exclusively featuring artisan Sonoma County cheeses, as well as select prepared specialty items from the Sonoma House shop. Drop-in tasting bar guests are accommodated if space is available.
The Patz & Hall team has been chronicling the construction of the Sonoma House since August 2013 atsonomahouseblog.com.
ABOUT PATZ & HALL
Founded in 1988, Patz & Hall combines the collective expertise of Donald Patz, Anne Moses, Heather Patz and James Hall. Together, this team has turned a desire to craft benchmark, single-vineyard Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs into one of California’s most respected artisan wineries. By cultivating personal relationships with a handful of California’s finest winegrowers, Patz & Hall has created an acclaimed portfolio of wines highlighting the terroir-inspired character of top vineyards in the Sonoma Coast, Napa Valley, Russian River Valley, Mendocino County and Santa Lucia Highlands appellations.

4/28-Nicole Nielsen talks to Renee Ary & Larry Van Aalst

Renee Ary - Winemaker, Duckhorn Vineyards
Renee Ary became the fourth winemaker in the four-decade history of Duckhorn Vineyards in 2014. Her promotion came after 11 years as an integral member of the winemaking team-including roles as assistant and associate winemaker. Like the two acclaimed winemakers before her, Renee spent years working alongside her predecessors, honing her craft, refining her gifted palate and mastering the Duckhorn Vineyards style. Today, with an approach that balances artistry, science and a deep respect for the viticultural side of winemaking, Renee guides the entire Duckhorn Vineyards portfolio, crafting wines that offer structure and sophistication, as well as a deep and purposeful sense of place.
Born and raised on the East Coast, Renee moved to California to attend Saint Mary’s College, where she earned a degree in chemistry and art. Fascinated by the intersection between science and an art, winemaking quickly became Renee’s passion, career and way of life. She started in the laboratory of Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville, where she spent four years working closely with winemaking luminaries Genevieve Janssens, Steve Leveque and Richard Sowalsky. While Renee gained this invaluable hands-on experience, she augmented her scholarly understanding of winemaking and viticulture with classes at UC Davis and Napa Valley College.
In August of 2003, Renee joined the Duckhorn Vineyards team under then winemaker, Mark Beringer. From Mark, Renee gained a much deeper knowledge of farming, viticulture and the intricacies of Duckhorn’s diverse and storied Estate program. She also refined her blending skills, embracing the intuitive artistry of the blend, and the counterpoint it offered to the more scientific aspects of winemaking. Throughout her first decade at Duckhorn Vineyards, Renee learned every detail of production moving from lab manager to enologist to assistant winemaker to associate winemaker in charge of Duckhorn’s Sauvignon Blanc and Monitor Ledge Vineyard wines.
In early 2014, Renee became the fourth name on the short list of Duckhorn Vineyards winemakers that began with Tom Rinaldi in 1978. As winemaker, Renee works in small lots to preserve the rich complexity of the fruit in the Duckhorn winegrowing program. “From our own Estate vineyards to legendary sites like Three Palms, I am incredibly fortunate to work with some of Napa Valley’s most exceptional grapes,” says Renee. “When you work with fruit of this quality, there is no recipe or formula. My job is to let the vineyards speak and convey the soul of the wine.”
“It’s important to approach a role like this with humility,” adds Renee, “and with the knowledge that I am a part of an ongoing story-that I am contributing to the legacy of a great winery, and building on the work of the talented people who laid the foundation for excellence.”


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.