September 2021 - AWS National Wine Tasting Project - Croatian Wines
So, you always wanted to be a “wine judge”.
Well, now’s your chance.
Our very own Brad Bruce will lead us through the judging process using the AWS / UC Davis 20-point system. Brad will provide an overview of the scoring methodology and then each person will taste and score the wines using the AWS score sheets.
This year the AWS National Tasting Project is a study of the Croatian and Bosnian Wine regions, ancient winemaking practices, and the indigenous varieties grown there. We will be tasting the six wines from the Croatian region.
2021 Summer Party & Grand Tasting - La Casa Nicholas
This year’s party was held at the incredible “Casa Nicholas”, an upgraded private residence venue located in the Scripps Ranch area of San Diego. The fun started at 4:30 pm and continued until long after most guest went home….
So, you say, what is this annual party all about? Well, first off, it’s about wine. Lots of it! We had bottles from such famous wineries as Schug, Eberle, Oak Farm, Lazarre, Domaine Artefact, Halleck Estate and Reustle Prayer Rock. As well as wines from Australia, Portugal, Italy, Germany, and France.
Then there was the food to pair it with. A fully catered heavy appetizer menu included kabobs, salads, baked goat cheese pita pizza, dips with pita and vegetables, spanakopita, smoked salmon pita, grilled Loukaniko sausage, beef tri-tip croustinis, and desserts.
The tables were laid out in a fashion that promoted conversation, tasting wines of a type, and plenty of room to indulge in the amazing fare that accompanied the liquid refreshments. All in all, everyone had a wonderful time and are still talking about it. Several remarked that the summer party committee will have a very tough time topping this years event. To that I say, Cheers! And good luck, we all await with bated breath to hear next year's details.
July 2021 - Schug Winery - Claudia Schug
Schug Estate has been in Carneros since 1989 but the winemaking experience has been around for over 60 years. You will be surprised to find out what a remarkable winemaker Walter Schug was, the founder of Schug Vineyards. Walter Schug moved to California in 1959 from Germany where he was a winemaker. He studied for two years at UC Davis and began working in the wine industry. He got a break in 1966 when Julio Gallo made Walter the Head of Grower Relations and Quality Control for Northern California.
The wine tells us that in 1973, Walter was sought out by Joseph Phelps to establish Joseph Phelps Vineyards in Napa Valley. Walter worked at Joseph Phelps where he oversaw 10 vintages as Vice President and Winemaker.
Sometime around 1980, Joseph Phelps ceased production of Pinot Noir thinking there was no significant market for it. Walter as we are told wanted to continue working with Pinot Noir so he reached an understanding the Joseph Phelps that Walter would continue working for Phelps, but Walter could create his own Schug private label. It took Walter three years to be successful enough to leave Phelps so he could further build his wine brand. As if Walter is ever done and thinking long term, in 1989 he purchased 42 acres in Carneros (Sonoma County) which they call it “the heart” of the business today.
Our presenter is Winery partner and Director of Education Claudia Schug (daughter of Walter). She spent 29 years in Germany where she ran her own wine import and distribution company before she transitioned to consulting and managing the European export market for the winery. Claudia has a BA in Economics from Stanford University and attained the WSET Diploma in Wine & Spirits in 2009. She immediately entered the prestigious Master of Wine program, passing the notoriously difficult Theory Exam on first attempt!
This is what we poured:
June 2021 - Zoom Meeting - Halleck Vineyard
Jennifer was instrumental in bringing Halleck Vineyard to life. While their first son, Connor, was an infant, Jennifer researched rootstocks at local nurseries. Stumbling upon a single line entry in the yellow pages, she met John Caldwell, who set the cornerstone for Halleck Vineyard’s success. He introduced Jennifer to the Dijon clones. During the 1992 Napa Valley Wine Auction, Ross and Jennifer tasted barrel samples of Pinot Noir from Saintsbury to discover the Dijon clones 667, 777, and 115. These were purchased from John. With the vineyard and three children underway, Jennifer delved into the wine world, which quickly became a passion. Working in the cellar at Tandem Winery with Greg Lafollette, she then moved into the tasting room at J Vineyards and Winery, followed by a job in sales representing Kosta Brown. All her experience, with her love of agriculture, confirmed that producing Halleck Vineyard wines was her calling. She now wears many hats, among them sourcing vineyards, wine production, hosting charity events, mounds of emails and, of course, creating many great wines. By 1999 Halleck became the first Sebastopol winery.
Halleck Vineyard, known for their award-winning Pinot Noir’s, is a family journey of business partners Jennifer and Ross Halleck. “They planted the Halleck Vineyard in 1993, the very first in the hills of Sebastopol, in western Sonoma County. Intended as a college fund for their infant son, two more sons and six years later until their first harvest, this seemed a flight of fancy.” “A one- acre site, Halleck Vineyard is perched above the Russian River watershed and flanked on the west by the slopes to the Pacific Ocean. It commands an expansive view of the rolling Sonoma County hills to the northeast. A passion for Pinot leads the charge of the Halleck wines.” “In 2019, Halleck Vineyard was again judged “BEST OF CLASS” in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the largest competition in North America. Sunset Magazine anointed the Halleck Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc “BEST OF CLASS” in the United States, and the California State Fair judged the Halleck Dry Gewurztraminer "#1 White Wine in California.”
Wines we tasted:
Jennifer Halleck • 707-738-8383 • email@example.com
May 2021 Zoom wine tasting - V. Sattui Winery
V. Sattui Winery was originally founded in 1885 in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. Vittorio Sattui immigrated over from Carsi, Italy – a small town outside of Genoa with his wife in 1881. After running a bakery and boarding house for a few years, he decided to get into the wine business. He would source his grapes from Saint Helena and transport via horse and buggy for 2 days down to the city where they were crushed, fermented and bottled. He would deliver his wine door to door in demijohns – the original direct to consumer! He closed down the winery due to prohibition.
In 1976 his great grandson Dario Sattui, decided to reopen the winery on the Saint Helena land that it resides today. Still family owned and operated, we currently produce 72 wines. With only direct to consumer, they do not distribute at all taking us a unique experience in the Napa Valley. One of the most visited wineries in the valley, we boast an artisanal Italian deli, beautiful picnic grounds, award winning wines and the backdrop for gorgeous private events from weddings to corporate groups to exclusive members parties. They have yet again been named “Winery of the Year” from the Monterey Wine Competition and received several “Best of Show” and “Best of Class” wines in the San Diego International Wine and Spirits Challenge and the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition!
Marc Golick is about to complete his first decade at the winery; he wandered in on a cold and rainy-day longing to be with good people and great wine. Almost ten years later “V. Sattui feels like a home away from home.” A regular wine tender at many of our venues including and especially the reserve tasting featuring the finest of our reserve, current and library vintages nestled in our Vittorio room. Marc also birthed and manages our growing wine and food pairing program featuring his extensive knowledge from his local culinary background.
These “edutainment” experiences shepherd guests through five to seven courses paired perfectly with our reserve stock wine selection. It is without a doubt one of the unique experiences to be had in Napa Valley. “There’s no job here” he’ll say with a wry smile. “I’ve never worked a day in my life at V. Sattui” More detailed history with timelines and videos
April 2021 - Zoom Meeting - Domaine Artefact
Mark & Lynn Robinson, they have built the Estate from the ground up, sharing all responsibilities beginning with the vision of the estate to planning, planting, and management. Domaine Artefact winemaker, Mark, has taken his love of Rhone varieties from a part time love to a full-time job and has managed to keep the love intact in the process.
Over the last 30 years, Mark and Lynn have immersed themselves in the world of oenology and viticulture. Their travels abroad have provided the great fortune to experience wine from some of the best wine regions of the world.
Lynn imbues Domaine Artefact with her warm spirit, generous hospitality while Mark, the self-taught winemaker, brings his evolved palate, know-how, and passion to craft wines for Domaine Artefact. We invite you to join us on their wine journey!
Recently retired Mark and his wife Lynn have planted their vineyards and placed their winery on the western end of Highland Valley Road. You will understand that it is the sweet spot on the hill when you taste these wines.
March 2021 - Zoom Meeting - LaZarre Wines
As you can imagine, this was one of the most fun, funniest, and memorable virtual wine tastings we had so far in 2021. From Hat contest, to a memorial presentation to Robert Whitley, to hosts who made one-in-a-lifetime offers to bottle large formats for members at request. This was a meeting you should have attended, and missed a great one if you didn't.
Adam LaZarre is a veteran winemaker with nearly 30 years of experience making wine. Previously, he was the Vice President of Winemaking for Hahn Estates winery in Monterey County. Adam has produced wines for a number of Central Coast and North Coast wineries as well as participated in the production of wines in Chile and in Spain. He has also served as Enologist/Technical Services Representative for the France-based ecological research and manufacturing firm of Laffort. In addition to his duties supporting the production of LaZarre Wines, he serves as Director of Winemaking for the Wine Hooligans, a large Santa Rosa-based start-up wine company producing several popular brands with international distribution.
Adam is one of the most accoladed winemakers in California, with Best-of-Show wins at the most prestigious wine competitions in the world including the L.A. International Wine Competition where he is the only three-time winner of this respected wine competition. In 2005, Adam was named “Winemaker of the Year” in the Sacramento Bee and was also named “One of the Top Five Winemakers” in the San Francisco Chronicle in 2006. Earlier in 2012, Adam was ranked #69 on IntoWine.com’s “100 Most Influential People in the US Wine Industry”. Many of his wine projects continue to win high accolades regularly. He also holds the WSET level 3 certification and will be continuing his wine education with passion until death does he part.
Angie LaZarre has been in the wine industry for over 20 years. She has participated in every aspect of wine, from providing hospitality, to picking grapes, doing punch downs, to bottling and selling wine and spirits all over the world. She has also created wine clubs for a number of wineries. In addition to managing LaZarre Wines, she has studied and earned her level 1 certificate in the Court of Master Sommeliers program, all while raising her 3 wild loving children.
February 2021 - Oak Farm Vineyards - Dan Panella, Owner & Sierra Zeiter, Winemaker
When you think of Lodi, big jammy Zinfandels and high-alcohol Cabs come to mind however, this family-owned winery is anything but this.
With 60 acres under vine, Oak Farm Vineyards produces a wide range of award-winning estate and selectively sourced wines including Cabernet, Zinfandel, Cab Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Grenache, Sangiovese, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Albariño, Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and many more.
We tasted a selection of wines inspired by Dan’s Italian heritage. This is different from the last presentation from their property that focussed on the other wines they make. We also got to taste one of their single vineyard zinfandels and compare it with their Primitivo.
Wines we poured:
January 2021 - Zoom Meeting - Gary Eberle: Wine Enthusiast's “American Wine Legend
When was the last time you met a true “American Wine Legend”? Well… now’s your chance… virtually that is.
Wine Enthusiast magazine will be honoring Gary Eberle, the “Godfather” of the Paso Robles AVA, as an “American Wine Legend” at their Annual Wine Star Awards, a distinction only bestowed five times in the last twenty years.
Gary Eberle, a graduate of the Enology and Viticulture Doctorate Program at UC Davis. After finishing his coursework, Gary moved to Paso Robles and began his career by co-founding the Estrella River Winery in 1973.
Later he decided to pursue his own project and acquired nearly 64 acres just down the road from Estrella River Winery. Gary released his first Eberle wine, the 1979 Cabernet Sauvignon and opened the winery and tasting room in 1983.
Since then, he has earned recognition for many firsts including recognition for co-founding the Paso Robles Appellation in 1983, the first to use Paso Robles appellation on his wine label, the first to produce a 100% Syrah commercially, amongst many more.
In addition to being named Wine Enthusiast’s 2020 American Wine Legend, Eberle earned the 2019 Robert Mondavi Hospitality Award, and the 2015 Wine Lifetime Achievement award by the California State Fair. Gary is the only American winemaker to be awarded all three distinguished honors. He was also named Wine Industry Person of the Year from the California Mid-State Fair and the Wine Industry Person of the Year from the PRWCA.
Wines to be presented:
November 2020 - Zoom Meeting - Fine Wines of Germany with Tami Wong
A lifelong veteran of restaurants, Certified Sommelier Tami Wong was the second San Diegan to be chosen by Wine & Spirits Magazine as one of the six Best New Sommeliers in 2014. She is a founding member of Nat Diego, San Diego’s first natural wine festival. As a board member of and contributor to CampestreMAG, she shares her love of the San Diego and Baja wine community.
She serves as an Ambassador and member of the Education Committee for the San Diego County Vintners Association. Her “day job” finds her selling wine as a wholesale rep for Estate Wines Ltd, and Wine Wise. She is launching Stay Classy Selections this winter, the first wholesale distributor featuring San Diego County wines.
February 2020 - Reustle Vineyards - Stephen and Gloria Reustle
Are Oregon’s Umpqua Valley…better wines than their European Counterparts?
Every wine lover knows about the Willamette Valley and the great Pinot Noir made there. But, how much do you know about the Umpqua Valley, where wineries are much more diverse? Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards Owner/Winemaker and wine judge Stephen Reustle will present wines from the Umpqua Valley’s AVA and compare them with their European counterparts. Traveling from Rioja, to Burgundy, Northern Rhone Valley, and Austria would take a great deal of time and effort. But in the Umpqua Valley you can experience wines that rival wines these European prestigious wine regions.
Stephen will highlight some of the distinctives between Old-world and New-world wines. He will focus on 4 regions: Austria (Gruner Veltliner), Burgundy (Pinot Noir), Northern Rhone (Syrah), and Rioja (Tempranillo).
We will start off with a glass of the Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards 2018 Matrix ($26), a blend of 6 white wine grapes that is always a crowd pleaser. Next, we will pour four of his award-winning wines from the Umpqua Valley and taste them side-by-side with their more expensive and highly rated (90+) European counterparts.
June 2019 - South Coast Winery and Carter Estates with Master Winemaker Jon McPherson.
Jon McPherson comes from an extensive Winemaking background. His father, 'Doc' McPherson was instrumental in the growth of the wine industry in the state of Texas. Jon remembers helping his father plant
grapes at Llano Estacado Winery while his mother, Clara, was a professor of Food and Nutrition atTexas Tech University. In 1985, armed with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Food & Technology with a minor in Chemistry from Texas Tech University. McPherson came to Southern California determined to make his mark in the sparkling wine industry. Named Winemaker at Culbertson Winery in 1986, McPherson's leadership and expertise resulted in a record number of medals and catapulted the winery (now known as Thornton Winery) to the distinguished position of "America's Most Honored Sparkling Wine" producer from the California Wine publication.
Jon McPherson came to South Coast Winery in the Spring 2003 with the opportunity to work with grapes from an amazing vineyard at the base of Mount Palomar called Wild Horse
Peak. McPherson also serves as judge for numerous noted national and international wine
competitions. McPherson is not only a true craftsman of wine, he enjoys hiking, biking, and is an articulate writer and artist. He has been married to his wife, Anna, for 34 years and is father to his two sons, James and Matthew..
May 2019 - LENNE Estate Winery presented by Eric Bruce
Eric Bruce (pictured left of his dad SDWG Director of Programs Brad Bruce) is the Hospitality and Sales Manager at Lenné Estate in Yamhill, Oregon. Founded in 2000 by Steve and Karen Lutz and named after Karen’s father Lenny. Lenné Estate is family-owned and operates from a comfortable rustic tasting room nestled in the heart of their 20-acre vineyard. Lenné is situated on exceptionally rocky marine-sedimentary soil, and their wines are produced exclusively from estate-grown fruit. Their annual production is approximately 1800 cases, chiefly of Pinot Noir with a smaller lot of Chardonnay. The vineyard is in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, at the northern end of the Willamette Valley. Notable neighbors include Willakenzie and Ken Wright Cellars.
Eric joined Lenné in 2017 as the first full-time employee. Eric and Steve collaborate on tasting room operations, and Eric also handles Lenné’s event planning, social media, website, and winery outreach. Prior to joining Lenné, Eric was the manager of Tertulia Cellar’s tasting room in Dundee, Oregon, pouring big reds sourced from Walla Walla. He has a WSET 2 certification, and visits dozens of tasting rooms and tastes hundreds of Oregon Pinot noirs each year, strictly for research purposes.
Wines for Tasting: (Retail - SDWG cost)
April 2019 - Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars presented by Marcus Notaro.
The San Diego Wine Guild is thrilled to announce that our April 10th program was feature Marcus Notaro, Winemaker for Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in Napa Valley.
Marcus Notaro was named winemaker for Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in May, 2013, bringing with him close to two decades of expertise and passion for producing world-class Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines.
The winery was founded in 1970 by Warren Winiarski and released their first Cabernet Sauvignon in 1972. Their 1973 Stag’s Leap Vineyard (SLV) Cabernet Sauvignon, would go on to beat world-famous first-growth Bordeaux châteauxes at the 1976 Judgement of Paris.
For most of the 20th century, nothing from nowhere could beat the wines of France. The 1976 Judgment of Paris wine tasting changed all that. In one fell swoop, two California wines soundly beat the best France had to offer.
The Judgment of Paris was a wine competition organized in May 1976 by Steven Spurrier in which French judges carried out two blind tasting comparisons: Chardonnays in the white wine category and Bordeaux wines from France and Cabernet Sauvignon wines from California in the red wine category.
California took on the best of Bordeaux and Burgundy and won on both battlegrounds, taking first place with the 1973 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon and the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-Ks-XI7XAk
In 1996, a bottle of the history-making 1973 S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon was placed in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
We tasted the following wines: (retail)
March 2019 - The Wines of Santa Lucia Highlands presented by Gwen McGill
The Santa Lucia Highlands Wine Artisans, an organization of growers and wineries producing wines from the beautiful Santa Lucia Highlands, for a tasting of the region's top Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah.
The Santa Lucia Highlands AVA is in Monterey County and is part of the larger Monterey AVA. SLH spans 22,000 acres with 6,400 acres of vineyards, some as high as 1,200 feet in elevation. Pinot Noir is the predominant variety with over 3500 acres planted followed by Chardonnay with about 2200 acres. Syrah and Riesling varieties are also grown here.
The region enjoys cool morning fog and breezes from Monterey Bay followed by warm afternoons. SLH has earned its place among the state’s most prestigious appellations producing some of California’s best Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.
Gwen McGill is armed with a Journalism degree from one of the country’s top schools. Gwen moved to Napa Valley in 1997 and applied her messaging and media savvy at a leading boutique wine country public relations firm that specialized in wine, restaurants, cookbooks and food products. Gwen struck out on her own in 2013, taking more than a decade of experience in global public relations, marketing and events to her clients. She joined the Santa Lucia Highlands Wine Artisans as Executive director in 2017
February 2019 Oak Farms Vineyards presented by Dan Panella, Co-Owner and Winemaker.
Dan has a long-standing love for agriculture and farming. Dan is a third-generation American farmer.
His agricultural roots trace back to the days of riding a tractor through his family’s cherry and walnut orchards. Dan spent time exploring other vocational fields, but his attraction towards growing and harvesting fruit consistently led him back to agriculture. He later began harvesting and farming his family’s grapes.
After growing a foundation and love for the industry, he blended his passion for wine with a desire for involvement as the end result. In pursuit of that goal, Dan began training under highly regarded winemaker Chad Joseph and took classes at UC Davis’ winemaking extension. Over the years, Dan has gained a deeper understanding and passion for the artistic sector of the winemaking process. Dan states, “It’s really a fusion of agriculture and art that has allowed me to be creative and allow the grapes to show their strengths.”
When Dan isn't working at Oak Farm Vineyards, he loves spending time with his family. He is an avid movie fan, loves to travel, and enjoys music, having played the guitar since grade school. He resides on property at Oak Farm Vineyards in Lodi with his wife and Co-Owner, Heather Panella, and their four children.
Here's are Oak Farm Vineyards wines we tasted:
January 2019 J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines presented by Jeff Meier
For more than three decades, Jeff Meier has been an integral part of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, working closely alongside Jerry Lohr, and the Lohr family, to build one of California’s most respected estate programs, and a world-renowned portfolio of wines. Today, as the president and COO for J. Lohr Winery, Jeff oversees marketing, operations and production, while also working with the Director of Winemaking, to ensure the stylistic direction of all J. Lohr wines. His staunch commitment to making the absolute best wines is reflected in the flavorful depth and diversity of the J. Lohr portfolio, which includes J. Lohr Estates, J. Lohr Vineyard Series, J. Lohr Gesture and J. Lohr Cuvée Series.
Wines that we tasted:
November 2018 Taste of the Bubbly with Moet Hennessey and presented by Rebekah Turpin.
Kick off the holidays with an informative lesson on French Champagnes. Our presenter has an impressive resume and a wealth of experience and stories to share. Pop a cork and learn with Rebekah.
Certifications: Certified Sommelier, CSW, French Wine Scholar. Current Job: Moet and Hennessy Portfolio Specialist covering San Diego. Other experience: Wine judge for toast of the coast, San Diego international competition, and Sommelier Competition. I have been working in the wine industry for 8 years. I spent about 4 years working as a sommelier at top resorts in southern California like the Park Hyatt Aviara and the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. In my job now, I cover restaurants and hotels in San Diego providing staff education, hosting wine, champagne and spirit dinners, events and over all help our sales team increase sales and exposure to our Moet and Hennessy Brands. These brands include; Veuve Clciquot, Moet and Chandon, Krug, Dom Perignon, Ruinart, Newton winery, Hennessy, Belvedere and several other spirit and wine brands.
October 2018 with Quintessential Wines and presented by Brandon Lee.
Quintessential is a family owned and operated company headquartered in Napa and dedicated exclusively to representing multi- generational, family owned and operated wineries. The owners of Quintessential, the Kreps family, bring a combined 78 years of experience in the fine wine business. They have evolved Quintessential into being one of the leading imports and marketing companies of fine wine in the U.S.A.
These family owned-and-operated producers come from many of the top wine regions around the world. They create wines that offer the best, most authentic expression of the terroir from their respective vineyards.
Wineries included at our SDWG presentation:
July 2018 with Eberle Winery and presented by Winemaker, Chris Eberle.
Chris returned to Eberle Winery after extensive winemaking experiences that spanned six countries and fifteen vintages. He has worked at Eberle Winery as the Assistant Winemaker from 2006 to 2009 and continued to expand his field of knowledge by working in many great wine regions around the world from; South Africa to Germany, then New Zeeland, Australia, and France. Chris was ready and excited to bring what he learned, back to Paso Robles
“From the vineyards to the caves, to Gary & Marcy and the crew, this is like coming home. I always knew I’d be back.”
These are the wines Chris will had on hand for our tasting:
+ one additional surprise!
Paso Robles Pioneer – Gary Eberle
Gary launched his career as a winemaker and as the “Pioneer” of Paso Robles Wine Region by helping to establish his family’s Estrella River Winery & Vineyards. In the late 70’s, he decided to pursue his own project and acquired nearly 64 acres just down the road from Estrella River Winery. Shortly thereafter, Gary released his first Eberle wine, the 1979 Cabernet Sauvignon debuting the iconic boar logo, depicting the German origin of the name Eberle, meaning “small boar.”
By 1982 the Eberle Winery production facility and tasting room were open for business and in 1991 Gary expanded underground, building the first wine caves in Paso Robles. Now over 38 years later, Gary Eberle still greets guests daily with complimentary wine tastings, public tours of the production facility and 16,000 square feet of underground caves.
June 2018 by Left Coast Estate presented by Susanne.
Family owned. 100% estate grown and bottled. Committed to sustainability.
The family founded the Left Coast Estate in 2003. Through a combination of passion and hard work, they've slowly grown into one of the largest contiguous vineyards in Oregon.
At Left Coast, the estate is what inspired their family to come to Oregon. Their goal is to enhance and share that natural beauty with others through thoughtful winemaking, sustainable practices and habitat conservation. Their vineyards and winery are LIVE certified sustainable. We are 90% solar powered and have partnered with the US Department of Fish & Wildlife to help restore 100 acres of old growth Oregon White Oak on the property to their native savannah state.
A little about Suzanne, our presenter:
"We all invent our lives, and perhaps Suzanne has been more inventive than most. Her early education as an art historian brought her two delicious years in Italy and, then moving into publishing, a cover article and related research position in Switzerland. Marriage took her to three years in France where she was seduced, utterly, by the Pinot grape. The unlikely next step was a move to Denver, Colorado and the addition of three darling offspring in the span of five years. As Co director of the University of Denver Publishing Institute, skiing and cycling in alternating seasons, she, very nearly, lived there happily ever after. But the grape could never be denied, and the place was just exactly right from the very first sight and soil test...and the rest, now nearly a glorious decade in the making, is Left Coast Cellars."
May 2018 - JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery
Joseph Spellman, MS is Winery Sommelier for JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery. He has worked with wine since 1979, principally as a sommelier, in Chicago’s top restaurant cellars, including Tango, Maxim’s, The Pump Room, The Park Hyatt Hotel, and Charlie Trotter’s. He has also had stints in wine retail, wholesale, and importing companies, as well as the Napa Valley producer Joseph Phelps. He has been a leading wine educator, writer, and consultant, and has led wine seminars in the US, UK, Japan, and Australia.
Joseph earned the prestigious Master Sommelier Diploma, the 29th American to do so, in 1996. He is a frequent instructor and examiner in the Court of Master Sommeliers, and in 2005 was elected Chairman of the American Chapter of the Court. He has also passed the difficult Certified Wine Educator Examination, in 2003, and has studied for the Master of Wine Diploma with its top instructors.
Another rare achievement was winning the 1997 French Sommelier Competition in Paris sponsored by SOPEXA, and the title “Best Sommelier in the World in French Wines and Spirits.” He is only the second American to have done so. In the following year (1998) he was named the Bon Appetit Wine & Spirits Professional of the Year.
Joseph is a major supporter of the arts, serving as an active member in the Lyric Opera Wine Auction Advisory Board. He has led seminars for the Chicago Humanities Festival, various educational and health-oriented charities, and numerous student groups. His donations of tastings for arts, education, and medical charities have consistently fetched high bids for these deserving organizations. A theatre lover, he consulted in 2003 on an original script by Sharon Evans, “Blind Tasting,” at Live Bait Theatre in Chicago.
Among his professional written works, he is most proud of his critically praised wine notes featured in the landmark series of recipe and photography books by Chef Charlie Trotter. He was the principal wine writer of the 2003, 2006, and 2009 Lyric Opera Auction Catalogues. He also has written grape descriptions for the Wine Grapes posters produced by Ten Speed Press; and over the years he has contributed to the magazines Wine & Spirits, Wine Enthusiast, Santé, Decanter, and Appellation.
As a professional palate, he has tasted for Beverage Testing Institute, United Airlines, the Grand Jury Européen, the Oregon State Fair, Star Wine, the Jefferson Cup, and the Detroit Wine Competition. He has coordinated several wine dinners for the James Beard Foundation and many of its chef-contributors, as well as promotional and charity wine dinners around the US. He has spoken at wine festivals in Aspen, Kohler, Kapalua, Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Santa Fe, Taos, Telluride, San Diego, Carmel, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Pinehurst, the Mohegan Sun, Disney properties, and Chicago.
April 2018 - LaZarre Wines
LaZarre Wines is a small, family-run venture created by veteran Central Coast winemaker Adam LaZarre and his wife Angie. The brand was started in 2003 primarily as a high-end, single-vineyard Pinot Noir project and has grown to include such varietals as Merlot, Albarino, Sauvignon Blanc, Vin Gris and Chardonnay.
Adam has developed relationships with many great growers on the Central Coast through his decades of wine making at various wine companies. Adam and Angie have continued these relationships and source their fruit from some of the best of these growers.
These wines are limited in their production and are really the best offerings the LaZarre’s can deliver in any vintage.
The LaZarre’s are completely committed to providing the very best possible wines at any price and will continue to do so until they depart the earth. After all, wine is a gift from God and should be enjoyed responsibly, or at least naked.
March 2018 - Tenuta Torciano Winery & Wine School presented by Chiara & Valentina Lunare
There were 13 Tuscan products to taste.
This included 8 wines, 3 olive oils, Balsamic Vinegar and a Dessert Wine.
We learned why certain foods are paired with wine along with a wine school to learn how wine is made in Tuscany, how the soil, climate and the history makes Tuscan wine one the of best in the world!
February 2018 - Pierce Ranch Vineyards Presenter: Josh Pierce, Owner
Pierce Ranch Vineyards is a small, family - owned operation centered in Southern
Monterey County’s San Antonio Valley Appellation. They produce limited-run, estate
grown wine with an emphasis on Spanish and Portuguese varietals.
Josh presented 8 wines and may bring a production sample of wine.
Wines that were tasted:
January 2018 - Orflia Winery and Vineyards
Orfila Vineyards & Winery presented by Tami Wong (Sommelier)
Tami Wong is stepping in for Justin Mund, Winemaker / General Manager for Orfila Vineyard and Winery. Tami is a Certified Sommelier, a regular on the wine judge circuit and presented to the Wine Guild in 2016.
Tami is now assisting Justin at Orfila as a Winery Representative, and will have highly rated Pinot Noirs, other red wines, white wines and barrel samples for tasting!
So, don’t miss out, come support one of our best local wineries.
2017 December Holiday Party
A good time was had by all. The bubbles flowed and so did the music. The Silver Gate Yacht Club provided a delicious buffet of Prime Rib and Barramundi with all the sides and dessert.
A big “Thank You” to those who organized and put this event together - Jan Tierney, Eileen & Terry Van Winkle, Linda & Andy Nicholas, and Carol & Jim Swelgin.
CASTELLO BANFI presented by Lars Leicht
Few know Banfi Vintners and its wines better than Lars Leicht, its Director of Trade Development, and a man passionate about the relationship between food and wine. A 31-year Banfi veteran, Lars has served this family concern in various sales, marketing and communications roles in the US, Europe, Caribbean, Asia and Canada. When Castello Banfi was founded 40 years ago, the Mariani family turned to abundant research from around the world on the best clones to use for planting Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc in its unique microclimate of Montalcino, in southern Tuscany, even though many of these varietals were new to the territory.
A family-owned vineyard estate in Tuscany’s Brunello region, Castello Banfi’s dedication to excellence captures honor after prestigious honor. A constellation of single vineyards, Castello Banfi weaves noble grape varieties with optimal terroir. Three decades of unprecedented research on Sangiovese yields consistently outstanding Brunello and Super Tuscans. Our meticulously restored medieval castle hosts visitors at an informal Enoteca-Wine Bar as well as the Taverna Banfi for lunches and dinners of traditional local dishes, offering winery tours and visits to its balsameria and glass museum. “Castello Banfi – Il Borgo,” a boutique luxury hotel nestled alongside the medieval castle, nurtures guests with 14 rooms and suites, swimming pool, cloistered garden and reading room. Castello Banfi is the first winery in the world to be awarded international recognition for exceptional environmental, ethical and social responsibility (ISO 14001 and SA8000) as well as an international leader in customer satisfaction (ISO 9001:2000). Please visit www.castellobanfi.com.
September 2018 presentation by Heike Unkel, Sommelier from Ferrari-Carano.
Since 1985, Ferrari-Carano has been a leading producer of world-class, nationally-acclaimed wines. Vintage after vintage, the wines exhibit a remarkable consistency of style and elegance. Don and Rhonda Carano’s uncompromising commitment to quality and excellence is a reflection of their desire to produce memorable wines that enhance the pleasures of gracious entertaining.
Ferrari-Carano has five California vineyards (Alexander Valley, Russian RIver Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Napa Carneros and Mendocino Ridge). The company has two women winemakers, Sarah Quider (whites) and Rebecka Deike (reds). The website is: www.ferrari-carano.com
Wines poured were:
2017 Summer Wine Party
Summer Wine Party was held at Scripps Ranch library courtyard. There were about 60 people enjoying perfect weather, great wines and wonderful conversation. We had Seaside Market "Cardiff Crack" tri tip for main course and of course it was spectacular. Wines were mostly from previous presentations and we bought some wines as well. Someone guessed Brad's mystery wine (Tempranillo). Andy had his pick and choose which Sav Blancs won which awards.
July 2017 Tertulia Cellars with Ryan Raber, Winemaker
An Evening with Winemaker Ryan Raber from Tertulia Cellars (Walla Walla, WA)
Born and raised in Washington State by a family with a rich history in the culinary arts, Ryan was devoted to great food and drink from an early age. A self-described hedonist, Ryan loves to cook and eat and claims to always be thinking about his next meal. Ryan’s first experiences with wine came in his early teens, when he began making wine at home with his family. As he matured his interest in wines continued to grow Ryan pursued an education that would help provide him with a wine career. Tertulia Cellars was founded in 2005 with the idea to make terroir driven wines.. The winery is nestled in the heart of the Walla Walla wine country surrounded by our Whistling Hills vineyard with a beautiful view of the Blue Mountains. The state of the art winery and cellar were constructed in 2007-2008, with a focus on sustainability, functionality and beauty reflecting the core values of Tertulia Cellars.
Ryan’s winemaking philosophy is to treat wine as art. “It is an intuitive process from the vine to the bottle each step determines the next. Science and winemaking technology are great tools but nothing can replace experience and your palate. The best wines have a sense of place or exhibit terrior. Terrior is the summation of the geology, geography, climate, and to a large extent the culture of the people who work the land and influence the wines.”
Wines to be poured:
Wines to be poured:
May 2017 presentation J. Wilkes Wines by Wes Hagan, Winemaker
J. Wilkes Wines produce handcrafted wines from the Santa Maria Valley, Sta. Rita Hills, and the Paso Robles Highlands AVAs --- “Wines of Character, Wines of Place.”
In 2013, Michael Cervin (Wall Street Journal, Decanter) rated Wes as one of the 100 Most Influential Winemakers in the United States.
Wes researched, wrote and had approved the last three AVA’s in Santa Barbara County: Sta. Rita Hills, Happy Canyon and Ballard Canyon. www.jwilkes.com
Wes will present some of his current release wines, which include Pinot Blanc, Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, Cabernet, and late harvest Pinot Blanc.
April 2017 - Boony Doon Wines presented by Randall Graham, Founder
Randall Graham was born in Los Angeles in 1953 and attended Uncle Charlie’s Summer Camp, what he calls the prestigious University of California at Santa Cruz where he was a permanent Liberal Arts major. By dint of exceptionally good karma he was given the opportunity to taste an ungodly number of great French wines and this singular experience turned him into a complete and insufferable wine fanatic. He returned to the University of California at Davis to complete a degree in Plant Sciences in 1979, where owing to his single-minded obsession with Pinot Noir he was regarded as a bit of a holy terroir in the hallowed halls of the sober and sedate Department of Viticulture and Enology.
Randall purchased property in the Santa Cruz Mountains in a magically quaint eponymous hamlet known as Bonny Doon, intent on producing the Great American Pinot Noir. It proved to be systematically elusive but he was greatly encouraged by experimental batches of Rhône varieties, and he has been a tireless champion of the grapes of the Rhône since the inaugural vintage of Le Cigare Volant. In 1989 Randall appeared on the cover of the Wine Spectator, clad in blue polyester, as “The Rhône Ranger”.
In 2010 the Culinary Institute of America inducted him into the Vintner’s Hall of Fame. He lives in Santa Cruz with his muse Chinshu, their daughter, Amélie and his thesaurus. (I bet you he reads the thesaurus for fun and will be evident when you hear him speak!).
Randall Graham lives for the possibility of someday creating a wine that is also a reflection of the place from whence it derives, and has a number of interesting ideas (some possibly brilliant, others more likely hare-brained) about how this most worthy aspiration might be achieved. He believes that in the world of wine, it is uniquely vins de terroir that matter, enriching our lives and inspiring us with the breath-taking order of Nature herself. While the production of such wines is definitively the number #1 priority on Randall’s “bucket list,” in the interim, he has changed the Bonny Doon Vineyard practice to become far more focused on vineyard or more specifically, soil health, the real cornerstone of vitality in wines. Bonny Doon wines may be said to be “acoustic,” or “uninflected,” at the very least lacking in the garish maquillage of many of their New World vinous confrères. (See what I mean).
He makes Le Cigare Volant Réserve “en bonbonne". It earned 93 points - “Round, sultry and savory with notes of blackberry, boysenberry, cherry, dried herbs, leather and mushroom." To make something truly unique his fourth vintage in the ongoing experimental protocol he use anaerobic élevage of Cigare in 5-gallon glass bottles. (Who does that?)
His website is www.bonnydoonvineyard.com. When you say that you are under 21 to access the site it sends you to Welch's Grape Juice website! A bit of his humor.
March 2018 - Duncan Williams
Duncan Williams, winemaker from Williams & Heim presented at the March 8th meeting. In 1982, Duncan started in wine production: an entry-level harvest job for Robert Mondavi and has never looked back. It is his love and respect for the vine that has kept him in the industry so long. He continues testing his palate by judging at International Wine Competitions and writes a wine column for the San Diego Union Tribune,
Duncan’s background and experience includes fourteen years as Cellar Master for the Sobon Family of Shenandoah Vineyards and Sobon Estate and the development of his own vineyard, which produced the first commercial Merlot in Amador County garnering numerous accolades. His career in Northern California was followed by his position as Senior Winemaker for one of the largest wineries in Southern California.
Williams & Heim is a continuation of that love and respect for the vine; one born of passion, experience and relationships. It encompasses an appreciation for the fine art of wine making and the opportunity to share the experience with others.
An enduring belief that grape growing and winemaking are inseparable continues to guide Williams’ winemaking philosophy. The prospect of every harvest still excites me. Duncan believes his as a winemaker is to let the wines convey the essence of the vineyard because fine wine starts from the ground up.
Vino Noceto Wines with Rusty Folena, Winemaker
Suzy and Jim Gullett have established Vino Noceto as “California’s Sangiovese Specialist” following a pathway considerably different than other Sangiovese producers, yet similar to many small, "boutique" operations. With the September 1984 purchase of this 21acre property and the subsequent 1987 acquisition of the neighboring 18.5 acre original homestead, the "passion" became "reality."
Rusty Folena started his career in winemaking as a teenager, sweeping floors at Santino winery and pruning vines in the Original Grandpere Vineyard. Rusty joined Vino Noceto as Assistant Winemaker in early 1999. In 2001 he became Winemaker. Due to his early vineyard work and the direction of his tutors, Scott Harvey & Gordon Binz, Rusty understands and naturally pursues fruit-driven, varietally-accurate wines. This makes him ideal for Vino Noceto’s style and approach to winemaking.. www.noceto.com
January 11, 2017: Brian Loring
Let’s start with the name: Loring Wine Company. What? Not ‘Winery’ or ‘Vineyards’? Last name Loring, therefore Loring Wine Company. Ahhh, but what about the "Wine Company" part? That is an homage to Josh Jensen at Calera whiich is actually Calera Wine Company. Since he was the guy who showed Brian that great Pinot Noir could be made in California, Brian decided to name his winery Loring Wine Company to "honor” Josh.
Brian’s first experiences with Pinot Noir were from Domaine Dujac, Henri Jayer, and DRC. Needless to say, he found domestic Pinot Noir jungle less than satisfying. It wasn't until he literally stumbled into Calera that he found a California Pinot Noir that he could love. Eventually Brian met Norm Beko from Cottonwood Canyon at an Orange County Wine Society tasting and his career as a wine maker was launched!
Brian's philosophy on making wine is that the fruit is EVERYTHING. What happens in the vineyard determines the quality of the wine.
Be sure to check out the LWC website. It is an interesting read with a lot more information than we can put here. www.loringwinecompany.com