This month we celebrated Women’s History, International Women’s Day was March 8th, and this past Monday, the 25th, it was National Women in Wine Day in the U.S.  So, appropriately, my guest for this episode is an accomplished woman in wine, who also happens to be an international woman. Marimar Torres is a member of Familia Torres, a historic winemaking family in Spain’s Catalonia region. She loves living in California, especially Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley, where she presides over Marimar Estate Vineyards and Winery as President and CEO.

Early on, she made time to write two Spanish-themed cookbooks and has since hosted a live monthly cooking show on social media called Marimar’s Spanish Table. Her daughter Cristina cohosts the show with you. Yes, she is a true trailblazer and jetsetter.

Join us in her home as I honor Marimar for National Women in Wine Day.

Download to listen later, or click Play to listen now

 

 

Marimar Estate

A meal prepared during Marimar’s Spanish Table live cooking show. All episodes are on her website.

Marimar Estate

Your tasting can include Pinot Noir, Spanish varietals like Albarino, Godello, or possibly some Chardonnay       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On today’s podcast episode I talk with Greg La Follette and Kevin Lee of Marchelle Wines. You may have heard Greg in previous interviews with other brands he’s been associated with as a winemaker. Kevin is new to the business and found a fairly easy path to venture into the wine industry. He’s proving quite helpful for Greg as his marketing manager. You see Marchelle’s associate winemaker, Evan Damiano is in the photo above but I didn’t get a chance to interview him that day. I understand he’s an integral part of the process at Marchelle.

Greg has been making wine from old vines for quite a while now. I had the great pleasure of joining him in one of these vineyards a few years ago during harvest. We were in Jesse’s Grove, south of Sacramento in Lodi, CA.

To me, you can taste the age of these vines. There’s a certain earthiness that expresses the many decades these 100+-year-old vines have spent in the ground with their roots digging deeper and deeper as time passes. That’s what I love about old or ancient vines. I suggest tasting them yourself and see if you agree. You can find them at MarchelleWines.com.

Marchelle Wines

Clusters of the rare Flame Tokay and Black Prince grapes.

Marchelle Wines

One of the old Zinfandel vines. Look at the size of that leaf!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An accomplished bagpiper, Greg offers a Blessing of the Grapes Ceremony during harvest for the first bin that arrives.

Marchelle Wines

Kevin and Greg with their wives Michelle and Mara who have been honored by the naming of the brand Marchelle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like many people in Northern California, Tony Lombardi’s ancestors emigrated from Italy. He grew up in the area and his friends are the Who’s Who of the wine industry. His background in PR and marketing led him to join his pals who founded one of the coveted cult brands of the early 2000s, Kosta Browne. That position paid off in spades as you’ll hear in this interview, ultimately leading  KB winemaker, Cabell Coursey to join Tony at Lombardi Wines. Tony shares the story of his family’s influence and his enviable position in the Sonoma County wine world.

Lombardi Wines also provides Tony with the means to support a cause that is close to his heart. He’ll share details of Hilinski’s Hope and how next year’s incredible Seine River Cruise in France will provide an additional fundraising opportunity. You’re invited to join them!

Click Play to listen now, or download from here to listen later.

 

Lombardi Wines

Tony with his wife Christine

Lombardi Wines

Each year Tony bottles 1.5 liter magnums of Sonoma County Pinot Noir to raise money and awareness for Hilinski’s Hope.

 

 

The story of how Small Vines Wines began

If you’re Paul Sloan, a restaurant sommelier and wine enthusiast, and you get so blown away by a 17-year-old world-renowned Burgundy Pinot Noir you want to replicate that style yourself, how do you achieve that goal if you don’t own a vineyard and you’re not a winemaker?

In today’s post, you’ll hear the fascinating story of how Paul and his wife Kathryn made it happen without buying grapes and hiring a winemaker.

I will say, the purchase of an unusual European tractor was part of the process.

Visit the Small Vines website here.

Small Vines

Kathryn Sloan hosting a tasting

 

Small Vines

The multi-functional, three-row CAVAL tractor in action

Theresa Heredia has been a winemaker to watch since 2012 and continues to be. I really enjoyed sitting down with Theresa of Gary Farrell Vineyards and Winery. Not only is she savvy, she’s quite playful too, further adding to the enjoyment.

Gary Farrell Vineyards and Winery is one of the early producers of Pinot Noir in Sonoma County, and remain in the forefront of bottling cool climate Pinot and Chardonnay. Theresa Heredia is a perfect fit. Please join us in their nicely designed tasting salon, won’t ya?

 

Theresa Heredia

 

Tracy Dutton

In the 20th century until the mid-70s or so, west Sonoma County was about as rural as a region could be. When it came to agriculture, it wasn’t far removed from the centuries prior in the farming, orchard, and grape growing regions of the old world. And like many small towns across America, it was common to marry “the boy next door.” Or girl. That’s part of the history of Dutton Ranch and Kozlowski Farms; two small family run businesses who managed to gain success through determination and ingenuity. Out of that setting Tracy and Joe Dutton eventually founded Dutton Estate Winery. Tracy joins me to share their impressive story, which still embraces their family’s essential attributes.

 

The Dutton Family

 

Tracy Dutton

The Dutton Team

Gracianna Winery was built on a history that stretches back to World War II. His great-grandmother’s perseverance helped her escape Europe to start a new life in California.

Gratitude was the result of what the New World had to offer. There were struggles, but maintaining a farm and living a full life was rewarding. Owner Trini Amador speaks lovingly of Gracianna, the woman who taught him gratitude. He so appreciated and respected his great-grandmother he captured her story in a book (pictured  below).

In her honor, with their son’s unintended coaxing, Trini and Lisa have created the successful Gracianna Winery, which also took some perseverance. They’re grateful for the appreciation expressed by their club members and the many who have paid a visit to their Sonoma County tasting room. Hear Trini tell the tale of Gracianna in this podcast.

Click Play to listen now:

Click to listen later: OTWR_Gracianna

Gracianna Winery

Gracianna – The book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transcription:



You may recall I interviewed owner John Balletto a few years ago. His story is a perfect example of perseverance. He was only 17 when his father died, leaving 5 acres of vegetables to John and his mother. Now, 43 years later, Balletto has grown to include 800 acres of estate vineyards across Sonoma County. The wine is excellent, their prices are moderate, and have been referred to by wine magazines as a “Best Buy”.

The man responsible for the wine is Anthony Beckman, the subject of this interview, although John chimes in as well. Anthony hit pay dirt when he left his newspaper career behind to pursue his other love – good food and excellent wine. His journey to Balletto Vineyards is fascinating, and what he and John accomplish together is remarkable.

Click here to listen now:

Click here to listen later: OTWR_BallettoAB

 

Balletto Vineyards

Owner, John Balletto

Both wineries featured in this podcast, Mersenne Wines and Capo Creek Ranch, pay tribute to musicians. Mersenne created a wine label for a British Indie-Pop band, and Capo Creek has named a vineyard after a beloved singer, guitarist. That’s one aspect of each winery you’ll appreciate as I get in-depth with their stories of overcoming obstacles.

Mitch Rice of Mersenne Prime Artisan Wines entrance into the industry wasn’t too complicated. He had experience as a home winemaker before taking the leap as a winery owner. Though his beginnings were less challenging, delicate maneuvering was needed to “secure” his partner. As it turned out, their brand features a love story that is wrapped in historical lore…which I greatly respect.

However, if you buy a vineyard there are many more hurdles. Sisters Mary and Nadine Roy of Capo Creek Ranch did purchase land and it took several years to get their footing. They’re strumming along now and offer a wine and food pairing that is par excellence! It was quite an unexpected chapter following their lives as owners of a medical practice in Chicago, when one day an unsolicited pamphlet arrived in the mail that completely changed their life’s direction…eventually.

Join me for these tales of persistence by Mersenne Wines and Capo Creek Ranch, as heard On The Wine Road…

Play now 

Download for later   OTWR_Mersenne_CapoCreek

 

Mersenne Wines logo
Illustration by Michael Gray

 

Robin and Mitch

Mersenne Wines & Capo Creek

2018 Prospére Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016 Rutherford, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

 

2020 North Coast Wine Challenge Best of the Best 98 pt. score!

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015 “SO45” Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon produced in collaboration with the British Indie-Pop band “Scars on 45”. Click the image to learn about them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capo Creek Ranch

Mersenne Wines and Capo Creek

Social distancing with Nadine and Mary Roy

All of their varietals feature familiar curves of an acoustic guitar. This is one of our favorites, the 2018 Open Mic Grenache Red Blend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The filling and delicious Ultimate Food and Wine Pairing overlooking Dry Creek Valley

Marsenne Wines and Capo Creek

What we enjoyed that day. Incredible!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s plenty of space at Capo Creek Ranch

The Triple Berry Galette with Chantilly Cream. They are not skimpy portions

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.

Chenoweth Wines

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

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…

Play Now

Download for later  OTWR_Chenoweth_Chev_2

 

Chenowith & Chev

Amy, greeting her guests with wine and a smile

Chenoweth and Chev

A ride through the vines

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlie in another section of the Redwood Grove

A portion of the Redwood Grove

The handcrafted Chevy bench

Charlie, enjoying the view of Russian River Valley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pinot grapes going through versaison as they ripen

One of a couple bottles we enjoyed that day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chenoweth and Chev

Michael Browne enjoying his craft

A throwback to Michael’s previous brand, Cirq, crafted with grapes from the Chenoweth’s Treehouse Vineyard

Chenoweth and Chev

The new brand, hearkening back to the ’40s, featuring little gems for car fanatics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The book thing



Download here

As I travel this week I’m reaching into the archives to bring you two compelling interviews. UC Davis Professor Emerita Carole Meredith shares the story of how she, with a little help from others, solved the mystery of Zinfandel’s origin. If you enjoy investigative stories you’ll get a kick out of the many elements involved in her discovery.  In a nod to the original Croatian variety, Carole and her winemaker husband, Steve, bottle a version with their brand Lagier Meredith.

Kendall-Jackson‘s Winemaster Randy Ullom may not be a well-known name but it’s very likely you’ve tasted his creations, including the Chardonnay that has been the top seller in the U.S. for over 25 years straight. Who would have thought a ski trip to Chile would lead to nearly 3 decades of winemaking with one of the world’s most successful brands.

Another Wine Uncorked is also included. Let’s hit the road!

 

On this podcast you’ll hear my intimate conversation with winemaker and iconic wine producer, Michael Browne.

He gained fame with the highly respected Kosta Browne over the last 20 years. He has since moved on to a his own project Cirq. In this interview you’ll really get to know Michael, what drives him, why he loves Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley, and hear about past experiences that inspire his winemaking and fearless pursuit of his passions.

And what’s  up with those early 20th Century wine labels? He’ll explain…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In preparation for this year’s Taste of Sonoma event I spoke with Tracy Nielsen of La Pitchoune Winery. Part of the interview was about Taste, but the remainder concerned her winery and their unanticipated success.

As you’ll see below by the artistic photo from their blog post they picked up a Best of Class Award at the 2018 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. 7000 wineries entered the contest! A six year old winery just isn’t expected to take the top prize in their category. Hear how Tracy struggled to get into the business, met her winemaker at a party, and at the behest of her husband (and chief strategist) decided to start their own winery. Their motto? Nothing is impossible.

Find their website here.

 

La Pitchoune     La Pitchoune

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

La Pitchoune

Peter Joachim Nielsen, Tracy Nielsen, Andrew Berge

 

This week I’m traveling off the wine road and on to the spirit trail. Spirit Works Distillery has been on my radar for quite some time. I’ve heard nothing but good things about what they craft and witnessed them win an award one evening. It’s an interesting story how Timo and Ashby Marshall came together under extraordinary circumstances and ended up where they are today. That is, creating finely crafted variations of gin, vodka, whiskey, even sloe gin in a sustainably conscious manner with their grain to glass philosophy. I’m impressed with what doing…I even like their gin! (That hasn’t happened since that one night in high school). Learn so much more by clicking the play button.

 

Spirit Works

Ashby and Timo

 

Spirit Works

Lauren Patz, Head Distiller

Spirit Works

The line up

 

Spirit Works

The CARL distillery system

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join Russian River Valley Winegrowers for an amazing tasting experience of Russian River Valley single vineyard wines. More than 30 wineries will be pouring small-lot, single vineyard wines from the Russian River Valley, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc. Guests will dine on delicious appetizers while enjoying single vineyard wines.

This year the event takes place at the Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country

My interview with RRVW Board President Giovanni Balistreri and Executive Director Wendy Hilberman is below. I apologize ahead of time. We were drinking Russian River Vineyards Rosé.

I hope to see you there!

Russian River Valley Winegrowers

Single Vineyard Night Single Vineyard Night Single Vineyard Night

 

 

As you’ll hear in this podcast, David of Ramey Wine Cellars is well known by most in the biz. His name came up three times in the last few months while talking with other winemakers. A lot of wineries have tapped into his knowledge by hiring him as a consultant. I’ve also heard he doesn’t hold back his opinions. Those spring forth concerning a bit of a controversy he’s in the midst of here in Sonoma County. Meet the winemaker who utilizes old world methods with modern innovations…when necessary. Here’s David Ramey…

 

ramey wine cellars

Photo compliments of Mark Spivak

Hear how a ski trip to Chile, which turned into a three-year adventure, inspired Randy Ullom to take his appreciation for wine and make a career out of it. Eventually, he would join Kendall-Jackson, travel the world, and make what has become the number one selling Chardonnay in America for 25 years in a row. You’ll hear about Randy’s career and learn about Jess Jackson, the maverick winery owner who took the world by storm.

 

Randy Ullom

Each year Wine & Spirits Magazine chooses the Top 100 wineries of the world. Each winery is featured in their Winter Issue and is invited to attend their annual tasting event in San Francisco. It’s quite an event! This is the third year Eric Sussman of Radio-Coteau has been chosen. He makes remarkable cool climate Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Syrah, and Zinfandel. As a “pioneering micro-climate negociant” he works with as many as 16 different vineyards. His property in Occidental is quite historic and has its own story to tell. His vineyards there are maturing nicely. I find it interesting that he only has two subject tabs on his website yet it’s deeper in content than almost any winery website I’ve seen. Eric is quite prolific. I was happy to have finally tracked down this highly respected winemaker.

 

Eric Sussman

Eric at the Top 100 event, 2017

 

This is one of the most unique winemaker dinners you’ll experience. Attendees are invited to bring a wine to share that has special meaning to you. The winemakers will also be sharing rare and older vintage wines. I’m really looking forward to it! It’s next Friday, Sept. 1st, 2017.

Click the post to visit their website.

Paulee

Hey, thanks for clicking on this event. I’m a member of the Friends of Sonoma County Wine Library, a one-of-a-kind resource for Sonoma County’s wine industry. Please consider joining us for this engaging fundraiser on Thursday, 7/27. Wine and food are included. Click to jump to the website and find the link for tickets click here.  Hope to see you there!

 

FOSCWL