On this podcast I feature Seghesio Family Vineyards & Shadowbox Cellars. Winemaker Andy Robinson and Sonoma County’s Seghesio Family Vineyards are celebrating 125 years of grape growing this year. Seghesio is one of the few that made it through Prohibition and continue to this day.
In comparison, owner Justin Preiser’s Shadowbox Cellars is in its infancy at 11 years of winemaking. His fairly new tasting room in downtown Napa was the first wine entity granted an outdoor space, the parklet, during this covid era.
Seghesio Family Vineyards and Shadowbox Cellars are producing outstanding wines and offer enjoyable experiences. Justin’s Salt and Acid Pairing is nearly one-of-a-kind, utilizing a gourmet food item paired with his aged wine. To hear more details about the Salt and Acid Pairing you’ll just have to listen to the podcast. I’ll tell you this, it was surprisingly tasty.
Hit play to join us under the ancient trees in Healdsburg, and streetside in Napa.
John Williams has had quite a career. The story of Frog’s Leap didn’t begin until after John worked with Napa Valley icon Warren Winiarski at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. He helped launch Glenora Wine Cellars in the Finger Lakes region. Afterward, he returned to Napa Valley as winemaker for the esteemed Spring Mountain Vineyard. All this, before and during the founding of Frog’s Leap, where early business decisions, like their comical slogan, were made with his partners in the Frog Farm hot tub.
40 years on, John continues to evolve, innovate and successfully sustain the Frog’s Leap brand, all while maintaining his sense of humor.
Join me as John fills us in the details, with cameo appearances from Larry and Julie.
The lobby of The Vineyard House
The back porch of The Vineyard House where wine tastings are offered
https://onthewineroad.us/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Frogs-Leap-OTWR.png470540Jeff Davishttps://onthewineroad.us/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Podcast-Logo-for-website-copy.pngJeff Davis2020-12-07 14:48:272021-05-14 21:09:06The Story of Napa’s Frog’s Leap Winery – John Williams
My guests from Chenoweth and Chev have a history together. Charlie Chenoweth grows sought after Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and Charlie’s wife Amy and friend Michael Browne craft their own versions of epic Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Russian River Valley also plays a role on this podcast. Its diverse soil, fog-filled valleys, rolling hills and redwood trees have inspired my two guests.
The Chenoweth Wines tasting experience was quite a venture, as you’ll see below. That was before the pandemic. But you can make a reservation to taste their fantastic wines within their picturesque Redwood Grove. It’s quite a setting. As you’ll hear, Amy and Charlie are quintessential Sonoma County residents. Amy has a rock ‘n roll attitude, and Charlie is as laid back as a country boy can be.
Michael Browne has sourced grapes from Chenoweth’s highly regarded Treehouse and Bootleggers Hill vineyards in Russian River Valley for his previous Kosta Browne cult wines, then in Michael’s Browne Family Wines brand, Cirq. He continues sourcing from the Chenoweth’s and other Russian River Valley vineyards for his newly released brand Chev. The project was inspired by the crafting talents of his father, Bob. If that hasn’t kept Michael busy enough, we’ll discuss his new autobiography that was just released on Amazon, Pinot Rocks:A Winding Journey through Intense Elegance. The man does have quite a few stories to tell.
Which brings us to today’s tales featuring Chenoweth and Chev On The Wine Road…
Wild fires? I was hoping it would be quite a while before I had to cover this topic again. Mother Nature hit with a vengeance in mid August. The late summer storm was a nice surprise, but not for the Hennessey Fire survivors. The 12,000 lightening strikes in four days across Northern California was insane! (That’s a National Weather Service quote, by the way). The resulting 585 wildfires produced 18 large infernos, one of which was the Hennessey Fire.
Today’s podcast features two wineries who “miraculously” survived the firestorm, Green and Red Vineyard & Nichelini Family Winery of Napa’s Chile’s Valley, not far from Lake Hennessey. As you’ll learn, I have come to know both of these families and have conducted multiple interviews with them in the past. Because of that fact I was keeping a close eye on the active fire maps around both wineries during that harrowing week to 10 days as fires raged in both Napa and Sonoma Counties. Other firestorms picked up elsewhere in the state during that period as well.
Thankfully, both survived thanks to valiant help from Cal Fire, volunteer fire men and women, and the owners themselves. Click the play button to hear the families share their harrowing stories.
Green and Red Vineyard
The terraced rows of Green and Red’s unique Tip Top Vineyard.
You can see how close the fire came to the Tip Top Vineyard, stopping at the road.
The fire was close enough to singe some of the leaves but didn’t burn the vines. Smoke tainted grapes are now the concern.
Like many vineyards, Green and Red has a vineyard dog. Uno is small but he’s mighty! He makes an appearance during the interview.
The day I joined the crew for harvest. From L to R, Ray Hannigan, Tobin Heminway, Mary Kate, winemaker Mike Penn and me.
Processing the Syrah grapes. There’s an optimistic feeling that the grapes may have escaped smoke taint.
Nichelini Family Winery
The historic Nichelini home and winery previously on a sunny day.
As it looks today. You can see the blackened ridge behind the home.
Family member Kenny Wainright does his part to save the winery. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)
Across the street from the winery from the hillside. You can hardly make out the winery on the road. The fire was on all sides.
5th generation winemaker Aimee Sunseri in front of the winery’s original Roman wine press. Thankfully the winery and home survived and can continue the 130 year legacy. (Photo-Napa Valley Register)
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Clément Pierlot is the chef de cave of historic Champagne Pommery in France. I found it appealing that the Champagne house known for creating the Brut style of bubbly is now making a sparkling wine from California grapes. It turns out Louis Pommery California Sparkling is harvested and made just up the freeway from me in Sonoma County. It was a topic worth pursuing.
That led to another interview with a fellow Vranken-Pommery winemaker, Bruno Maillard. He crafts rosé in Provence and Carmargue/Languedoc, the world’s foremost regions for the light refreshing pink wine.
You’ll hear from these Frenchman and learn about the incomparable heritage of the world’s largest winegrower in Europe, Vranken-Pommery.
The tasteful line-up: Louis Pommery California Sparkling, The Pommery Brut Royal, and the Pommery Blanc de blancs.
The refreshing Rosé: The Pink Flamingo from Carmargue, and the La Chapelle Gordon from Provence.
The underground caves, or “galleries” as they call them in Champagne, that were carved during mining by the Romans centuries ago.
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I met Mike Tracy at an industry party on a cool February evening, prior to the coronoavirus altering our social activities. It’s common to meet people of various winery positions at these after hours gatherings. I’ve struck up the occasional friendship during one of these evenings. He’s a pleasant guy, smart, and when he told me which wineries he works with it raised my eyebrows. Not one, not two, but FOUR high-end Napa Valley wineries. That’s what led to this interview.
Mike Tracy’s boss (bosses)? Married winemaking couple Mark Porembski and Jennifer Williams Porembski. The three of them have an enviable business, and friend, relationship. What are the duties of an assistant winemaker? (Often they do as much or more hands-on work than the winemaker).
Which esteemed wine brands do the three of them craft? Well, you’ll just have to listen to discover the answer. And when this whole virus era settles down, I can’t wait to try more of them with Mike. Press play to join us safely on the wine road.
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I traveled 2000 feet above Napa Valley to the peak of Spring Mountain to meet up with the mountain men of Schweiger Vineyards. You’ll find peaceful, picturesque views from their tasting room in the center of their rolling mountaintop vineyard.
As father and son, Fred and Andy have been working the property, with wife and mother Sally, since the 70s. As you can imagine, they have plenty of stories to tell. You’ll find their wines are an excellent representation the complex soil of Spring Mountain – full, flavorful and complex. I am impressed with the close relationship with their club members – who’s suggestions often get put into action by the family. For more details, visit their website here.
As it was planned, this interview aired on Father’s Day weekend. Here’s to the mountain men of Schweiger Vineyards!
The Tasting Room that Fred Built
Inside the tasting room during our recording
A portion of their vineyard, looking west
Their palate pleasing Bordelais blend, Dedication
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Looking for intrigue, self-preservation and humor? It’s here, with interviews concerning The Wine Spies, HALOmask, and T.P. Reserve Wine.
I talk with Agent Red of The Wine Spies. Each day they present a tempting, world-class wine at discounted prices. How do they do it? Through covert missions and cleverly gathered intel.
On a side topic, Agent Red’s personal mission is protecting our health with HALOmask, the most protective, easy to wear face mask. He explains how the proprietary engineering sets them apart from other masks.
Then you’ll hear about a whimsical wine brand from a serious Napa Valley winemaker – Grant Long Jr.’s T.P. Reserve Wine. He chose to put a smile on our faces during these sobering times. What’s more, he and his team created a detailed video, the efforts of which I think you’ll find impressive. It’s below.
Another Wine Uncorked feature is also included. It’s all waiting for you behind the Play button.
For the T.P. Reserve Wine video click here
For the Roman mosaic tile images from Wine Uncorked click here.
This is audio from my radio show that aired on Saturday, June 13th. Elise Nerlove Rutchick of Elkhorn Peak Cellars shared details of the initiative to Save The Family Farms. Their goal is to convince the Napa County Supervisors to adjust the Winery Ordinance Directive (WOD) making less expensive, thereby easier, for smaller family winegrowers to host guests for wine tastings and sales.
I look forward to seeing how this endeavor progresses.
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Yes, Coca-Cola is related to wine. You might even say the world’s favorite cola owes its existence to wine.
In the mid 1800s ”tonic” wines were introduced. In 1863, a Parisian chemist, Angelo Mariani, combined wine with coca, short for cocaethylene (a drug made by mixing cocaine and alcohol – whew!). He sold it under the name “Vin Mariani” and the tonic drink became extremely popular.
Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas Edison, and even Queen Victoria were among the millions who indulged in the tonic beverage. Even the chief rabbi of France is quoted to have said, “Praise be to Mariani’s wine!
Witnessing the commercial success, Dr. John Pemberton of Columbus, George, created his own version. He called it Pemberton’s French Wine Coca, and produced it in Atlanta. In 1885, local temperance legislation forced John Pemberton to produce a non-alcoholic version. He removed the cocaine, pepped it up with caffeine-rich kola nuts, replaced the wine with non-alcoholic syrup and Coca-Cola was born.
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On this podcast you’ll hear about the many travels and discoveries of Dr. Olmo. He’s a former UC Davis professor you’re likely not familiar with but who’s decades of research led to many important discoveries in viticulture, much of which had a positive influence on the quality of wine produced across the globe. Through interviews with winemaker Dan Petroski of Larkmead Vineyards and the professor’s daughter, Jeanne, you’ll meet Dr. Harold Olmo. He was such a fearless researcher he became known as the Indiana Jones of Viticulture.
Thanks to the University of California at Davis for prompting me to pursue this story. To learn more about Larkmead Vineyard’s donation to digitize Dr. Olmo’s work, click here.
Harold and his wife Helen
An iconic shot of Dr. Olmo which appeared on the cover of Sunset Magazine. Photograph by Richard Steven Street.
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Donum Estate offers a break from the on-going virus madness?
Here’s an opportunity to soak in the sun and feed your soul. Thanks to Glodow Nead Communications for alerting me with the following press release.
The Donum Estate, who crafts award-winning wine, has received permission from the County of Sonoma to allow guests to tour the more than 40 museum-quality sculptures by world-renowned artists installed on the estate’s 200 picturesque acres. This marks the first time that the public, with a reservation, will be able to explore the estate’s extraordinary collection as a standalone experience.
“We are thrilled to reopen and welcome guests back to our property,” said Angelica de Vere Mabray, chief executive officer of Donum. “Everyone is so eager to get outside and experience something new and inspiring, and our one-of-a-kind art collection fits the bill perfectly. We are prepared and excited to open our gates and share the Donum collection in this beautiful, safe, outdoor setting.”
The Open-Air Sculpture Walks will be guided by one of Donum’s experienced hosts for groups of six or less and can be combined with other groups. The estate will be open for the walks by appointment only Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Friday through Sunday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for $50/person. Donum’s members are allotted one complimentary visit for up to four people. No wine is to be consumed onsite, but Donum’s highly acclaimed portfolio will be available for purchase to take home.
Recently acknowledged in Wine Spectator as one of Sonoma’s top 50 producers with impressive, consistent 90+ scores, Donum continues to be a sought-after single-vineyard Pinot Noir and Chardonnay producer sourcing exclusively from Estate vineyards in Carneros, Anderson Valley and Russian River Valley.
For more information and to book a tour please visit www.thedonumestate.com.
I agree with Wine Spectator, the wine is excellent.
Here’s my interview with Donum Estate’s Director of Hospitality Maggie Stains, who I interviewed last year for an event they were offering. She explains the artwork and how they came to rest at the estate.
Scroll further and you’ll see some photos of the sculptures and a video I shot during my visit last year. In the video you’ll see Maggie among the chimes of Doug Aitken’s site specific commission entitled Sonic Mountain (Sonoma). But believe me, the many eye catching pieces are best seen in person. These days we can all use a peaceful walk among the sculptures.
The Tasting Room at Donum Estate
“The Care of Oneself” – Elmgreen & Dragset
“Deux Bacchantes” – Wim Delvoye
“Soma” – Subodh Gupta
“Love Me” – Richard Hudson
Maggie sitting pondside at the vineyard deckhouse
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While the Napa and Sonoma Vintners organizations are incredibly supportive to their winery members and their communities, covid-19 has required an even greater response.
The Napa Valley Vintners and Sonoma County Vintners are helping to promote the creative and necessary ways wineries are reaching out to the wine loving public. In some cases, they’re presenting their own virtual tasting sessions.
In this podcast, I talk with the President and Executive Director of the Napa Valley Vintners, Linda Reiff, and the Executive Director of Sonoma County Vintners, Michael Haney. These interviews were conducted to coincide with my previous post “Wineries Battle the Coronavirus Blues.”
As you’ll hear, there is no elitist attitude from either of these executives, despite the fact they run organizations in two of the world’s top wine regions. They’re pleasant, down to earth people. Many winemakers, growers and owners are the same way. As I’ve said before, that’s what I love about the wine industry.
Keep listening until the end. You’ll hear promising news that was released as I was finishing up the podcast today. We may be seeing you soon on winery patios. That’s all I’m going to say about that right now. Can’t ruin a good content tease.
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How do wineries battle the coronavirus blues? By being creative, stepping up, helping their employees and keeping you smiling during these sobering times. Many wineries across the country are reaching out through social media with virtual tastings.
Here’s an updated and refined list of what the wine regions are doing in Northern California. I’m also including my interviews with Jackson Family Wines and Spring Mountain Vineyard from my show on April 18th.
Back in December – before sheltering in place and when corona referred to a type of crown or the glow around the sun – my wife and I spent a week up and down Oregon’s Willamette Valley. It was cool, with light rain and occasional heavy fog…and we loved it.
Prior to our trip I set up several interviews. You’ll meet Lynn, the dynamic former owner of Penner-Ash; Bryan and Laura Laing, the fun-loving owners of Hazelfern Cellars; and Luisa, from one of the oldest Oregon family wineries, Ponzi Vineyards. Each guest expressed their love for Willamette Valley and the wine they craft. As always, their stories are entertaining and distinctly different from one another.
Like many wineries I have promoted in Northern California, the Penner-Ash, Hazelfern and Ponzi Vineyards are offering specials to tempt wine lovers to connect virtually and keep your shelves and cellars full of quality wine. Here’s what they’re offering:
Virtual Tastings – Experience Penner-Ash wines from the comfort of your home – virtually! By reservations, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11am-4pm. Please contact email@example.com or 503.554.5545 to schedule your experience!
Drive-up Service – Place your wine order a minimum of 24 hours in advance and schedule a direct-to-trunk pick up from the winery on Tuesdays and Saturdays between 11:00 and 3:00. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 707.292.4153.
Social Connection – We invite you to follow us on Instagram (@pennerashpinot) and join us on Facebook for the latest happenings and to help you stay connected.
Wine To-Go Curbside Pick-Up: We are at the winery from 11am – 4pm Wednesday-Sunday for curbside wine pick-ups. E-mail us, Message us on Instagram or Facebook, or call us at 503-928-1893 to schedule a pick-up or ask any questions.
Complimentary Local Delivery: Click Here to order wines for local delivery within 30 miles of Newberg, Oregon with a 3-bottle minimum purchase. Choose “Complimentary Local Delivery” at check-out.
MAKE SOCIAL DISTANCING GREAT! ENJOY THE HAZELFERN EXPERIENCE AT HOME:
Simple Pantry Recipes and Wine Pairings: We are posting simple and delicious “pantry recipes” on Instagram and Facebook. Follow along for easy-to-make recipes using simple ingredients that pair perfectly with our wines.
Where was the first successful American winery located? The answer is Cincinnati, Ohio.
In the mid-1830s, Nicholas Longworth planted a vineyard of Catawba on the Mount Adams hillside and began making a sparkling wine from the grapes using the traditional method used in Champagne.
From the 1830s through the 1850s, Longworth’s still and sparkling Catawba were being distributed from California to Europe where it received numerous press accolades. In the 1850s, a journalist from The Illustrated London News noted that the still white Catawba compared favorably to the hock wines of the Rhine and the sparkling Catawba “transcends the Champagnes of France”.
Another who was impressed was the famous Ohio poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who was inspired to write Ode to Catawba Wine, which begins: “Very good in its way/ Is the Verzenay,/ Or the Sillery soft and creamy;/ But Catawba wine/ Has a taste more divine,/ More dulcet, delicious and dreamy.” (source-Wine Spectator)
At it’s peak, Longworth’s winery was producing 100,000 bottles a year with distribution to Europe and across the U.S. Unfortunately, by the 1860s, black rot and downy mildew struck heavily in the Ohio Vineyards. Little by little this prompted many up and coming winemakers to move to the Fingerlakes region in New York, which continues to thrive to this day.
Missouri also had a large wine region in the mid to late 1800s and was second only to California in wine production by the end of the century.
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In this second ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) podcast, I feature Ramazzotti Wines & Berryessa Gap Vineyards as I promoted the annual Zinfandel Experience.
Joe and Travis Ramazzotti follow in immigrant Guiseppe’s footsteps growing zinfandel and other Italian varieties. In 2002, they decided to start bottling their grapes and others from legendary vineyards in Sonoma County as Ramazzotti Wines. I met up with Joe and Travis at Deavola Pizzaria in Geyserville for the interview. Hey, why not drink wine and eat pizza while we talk?
Nicole Salengo, the winemaker at Berryessa Gap Vineyards, fills us in on the important history of grapvines in Winters, California. It’s a warm region but evening winds funneled through the Berryessa Gap cool down the grapes. She crafts a good variety of wines but zin is one of her favorites. In this interview you’ll find out how this geology loving Vermont gal became a California winemaker.
From Sonoma County to Yolo County, Ramazzotti Wines & Berryessa Gap Vineyards do not share much in common with their winemaking style but between the two there’s something for everyone.
A Wine Uncorked feature is also included. Stay in, stay healthy and enjoy some wine while you listen. Cheers!
Joe is on my left, Travis is on the right
The Ramazzotti Wines tasting room in Geyserville
The wine that prompted the interview
Winemaker, Nicole Salengo
Berryessa Gap Vineyards with the “gap” in the upper left that funnels in cool night air.
Boxes of Martinez Orchards rootstock that has appeared in vineyards from Yolo County to Napa Valley and Sonoma County.
With Nicole in front of their downtown tasting room
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Each year in San Francisco Zinfandel Advocates and Producers host ZinEX, aka the Zinfandel Experience. The past few years I’ve interviewed zinfandel winemakers and growers to help promote the event.
This podcast will be the first of two featuring this year’s guests. Napa Valley’s Robert “Bob” Biale filled the full hour of my radio show, so he’ll be the only guest on this podcast.
His Italian immigrant family has a rich history in Napa. As you’ll hear, early challenges inspired Bob’s father to get creative, selling wine clandestinely…without a permit. That audacious move led to their successful flagship wine, Robert Biale Vineyards‘ Black Chicken. It’s one of many colorful tales offered by those in the wine industry. Hit Play to hear this gracious man share his story and his love of zinfandel.
And yes, there are black chickens on the property.
One of several seating areas at Robert Biale Vineyards.
The 1940 Studebaker you’ll hear about in the interview.
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This is a shorter podcast that features the Mount View Hotel and Spa in Calistoga, Napa Valley. It’s an historic, beautifully designed art deco hotel that offers many enticing experiences for their guests.
This interview aired on my radio show last Saturday and I wanted you to hear it in case you’re panning a trip to Napa Valley or Sonoma in the coming weeks. On April 1st, The Mount View is offering a one of a kind experience that combines wine tasting, a film, dinner – featuring one of the performers in the film, and a night’s stay at the hotel. Scroll down to see the flyer for this full day of enjoyment.
If you can’t make it that night keep the Mount View in mind for a future stay. I hope to see you there on April 1st!
Young Indie Blue, Michael and Stephanie Woods
The stylish lobby
The Indie Blue Lounge
The Cottage Spa
The Mount View Pool
The Spa Cat
One of their beautifully decorated rooms
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