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. Others are offering enticing deals with curbside pickup (which my wife and I did safely this past Sunday), and lowering shipping costs to make sure  you don’t run out.

Here’s a list of what a handful of wineries are doing in Northern California.

Sonoma County Sonoma County vineyard

Gloria Ferrer (Sonoma): Live nearby? For three bottles of winery exclusives or more, delivery is free within 15 miles of Sonoma. $5 for 16 to 20 miles out, $10 for 21 to 30 miles. Live further but gotta have bubbles? A case of 12 ships for free. Call 866-845-6742 and leave a message.

Pedroncelli Winery (Geyserville): They can fulfill online and telephone orders with curbside pick-up. They’re open for limited days and hours for now. Also, $5 shipping on 12+ bottles. Promo code: #sipsonoma

Paul Mathew Vineyards (Graton): They’re offering free home delivery to locals in Sonoma County with a six bottle minimum. Sonoma County is huge but listening to their outgoing message it doesn’t matter where you live in SoCo, they’ll deliver to you. barb@paulmathewvineyards.com

Equality Vines (Guerenville):  Also free local delivery in all Sonoma County. Live further away? No worries, they’re offering free UPS shipping to 44 states with a two-bottle purchase. 15% discount on six bottles.

Marimar Estate (Sebastopol): Free shipping included on orders of six or more bottles with code SHIPMYWINE.  No-contact curbside pickup and complimentary delivery within a 15-mile radius of their estate in Sebastopol.

Napa Valley

Napa Vally vineyard

Green & Red Vineyards (Chiles Valley): Their Spring Trio, Zinfandels from three of their highly praised vineyards, is just $82, a 15% savings! Need to overcome cabin fever? Take the leisurely  country drive into the Vaca Mountain range above Napa Valley and pick it up curbside, they’ll give you a free bottle of Green and Red Estate olive oil if you mention On The Wine Road. That’s a nice addition for your kitchen! Is this Zin special? Alice Waters has offered Green & Red as the house red wine at the renowned Chez Panisse restaurant for nearly 40 years!

 

Raymond Vineyards (St. Helena): Raymond is celebrating their 50 anniversary this year. Join the party at home with free shipping on online orders of 6 bottles or more with code SHIP6. Or choose curbside pickup. Place your order on-line and choose a time you would like to pick it up. Email the team at customerservice@raymondvineyards.com to place your order.

Louis M. Martini (St. Helena): Choose Curbside Concierge Service. From 12:00 – 5:00 daily, you can call 707-968-3362 or email wineclub@louismartini.com your order. Then drive up to their tasting room and they’ll deliver the wine to your car 30 minutes after your order is received. Now THAT’S service.

Paradigm Wines (Oakville): They’re offering a rarely seen discount on their 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon. Regularly $92, it’s now just $55! The winemaker? The highly respected Heidi Barrett. As always, 1% of your purchase directly supports environmental non-profits with their 1% for the Planet membership.

 

This is just a sample of the many ways wineries are helping you save money and keeping their employees working .

Find more money saving options on some of your favorite wines at…

Sonoma County Vintners 

Napa Valley Vintners

and across the state at Discover California Wines as they celebrate Down to Earth Month throughout April.

Is there something you would like listed? Let me know and I’ll be sure to include it.

Don’t suffer from the coronavirus blues. Stock up and stay at home…it’s a good place to wine!

The ZAP Interviews – Robert Biale Vineyards

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.

Robert Biale


Robert Biale Vineyards flagship wine

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.

 

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 lobby of the Mount View Hotel and Spa

The stylish lobby

The Indie Blue Salon at the Mount View Hotel and Spa

The Indie Blue Lounge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cottage Spa

The Mount View Pool

The Mount View Pool

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Spa Cat

One of the beautifully decorated rooms

One of their beautifully decorated rooms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return to Paradise

It was two years and two months after the wine country wildfires when I returned to Paradise Ridge Winery to see how the rebuild was coming along. I had no idea it was the first day of their soft opening.

In October of 2017 their hospitality center and production facility burned to the ground. I’ve come to know the Byck family fairly well over the years and I’m thrilled to see the return of Paradise. Owner and family member Rene and I sat down in January so he could catch us up on the challenges his family faced the past two years, the new building and some changes they have in mind. See an artist’s rendering of the new building and more at PRWinery.com.

To hear Rene talk about the loss of the winery just 4 months after the fire and see photos of the devastation click here.

Faire La Fête

In this interview I talk with Master of Wine Peter Neptune about the rich and centuries long tradition of Mardi Gras. You won’t believe how many centuries! You’ll also hear about the sparkling wine that was developed in southeastern France that ties into the historical roots of the celebration, Faire La Fête Brut. As you’ll hear, sparkling wine was developed in the Limoux region, (no, not Champagne) making Faire La Fête the ideal sparkling for Mardi Gras celebrations. You gotta love a history lesson with a party theme!

Return to Paradise

The week of the soft opening during a foggy winter’s day.

Return to Paradise

A small part of the new tasting room featuring the new art work referenced in the interview.

Return to Paradise

The Paradise Ridge Blanc De Blanc sparkling wine and Vineyard Select Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.

On this first podcast of 2020 you’ll hear about ZO Wines and Napa Valley College.

I talk with owner and winemaker, David Eckert about ZO Wines, in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley. Not only do they have a number of tasting spaces on the property, a stunning vineyard view, a good variety of interesting wine varieties, they also have a lovely 100+ year Craftsman home that is available for overnight stays. David also answers the question of why they chose an elephant as their mascot. And no, it doesn’t mean their wines are big.

You’ll also meet esteemed winemaker Daniel Baron, who spent many years at Napa and Sonoma County’s Silver Oak Cellars and Twomey. He joins Molly Hodgins of the Napa Valley College Viticulture and Winery Technology Program to discuss some of their courses. The college is an excellent option as a path to get started in the wine industry.

Another Wine Uncorked features is also included.

For details on ZO Wines click here. For Napa Valley College’s VWT program click here.

 

A small lineup of ZO’s wine varietals.

The charming Craftsman farmhouse which offers one of the tasting spaces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Napa Valley College’s Vintner Teaching Winery.

The Napa Valley College McCarthy Library.

 

I’m mixing it up on this podcast with Ace Premium Cider and Harvest on Spring Mountain Vineyard.

For you hard cider fans, you’ll get a kick out of hearing from founder Jeffrey House. The former Brit brought his cider knowledge to the U.S. in the 1970s and opened Ace Premium Craft Cider in 1993. With his sons firmly in place Ace is still a family run business, now in it’s second generation.

Then you can join me on Spring Mountain Vineyard during harvest with their longtime vineyard manager, Ron Rosenbrand. You’ll hear about the unique character of this 845 acre property and how this year’s growing season was for their Bordeaux varieties. Buckle up, it’s time to venture out On The Wine Road.

 

The Ace In The Hole pub

 

Apparently Ace In The Hole was the first!

 

The “harvest” moon early on one of many picking mornings.

Spring Mountain Vineyard Grape Harvest

Bins to fill with harvested grapes

Harvesting the grapes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full bins waiting to be trucked to the winery

 

The sun begins to rise on the vineyard following harvest

 

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!

 

Each year I have the great pleasure to taste wine from the world’s Top 100 Wineries all in one place. If only Wine & Spirits Magazine’s event was several days so I could taste them all. The local culinary treats are a welcomed bonus.

In this podcast you’ll hear interviews with winemakers from California’s Central Coast, South Africa, Portugal, Slovenia, Napa Valley, and W&S Magazine’s senior editor Joshua Green. The Top 100 wineries gather every October in San Francisco. It’s a must experience event if you appreciate wine and would like to expand your horizons. Pop open a bottle, click play, and join the fun.

If you’d like to see the list of the Wine & Spirits Magazine’s Top 100 wineries while you listen click here.

A fraction of the indoor scene at the Metreon.

The outdoor patio of the Metreon, reserved primarily for Champagne and oysters.

 

Hugh Symington of W. & J. Graham’s Port. I wish I had a bottle of their port that size!

 

Angela Osborne of A Touch of Grace Wine Company.

Owner, winemaker Jerry Seps of Napa Valley’s Storybook Mountain Vineyard.

Andrea , the winemaker at Mullineux & Lees Family Wines.

Now, a guy who calls himself “John Fucking Caldwell” is likely to be brash…probably be a risk taker, and likely one of a kind. In John’s case, yes, he can be described by each of those descriptors, as well as pleasant, inventive, philanthropic, and one who can make the best of a situation.

So it may come as no surprise that he’s the kind of person who would consider, and accomplish, smuggling grapevines into the U.S.

And that’s just half of the story of John Fucking Caldwell of Caldwell Vineyard.  In this interview he also talks about his wine, the cave and his barrel-aged Apple Juice (bourbon) and tequila. Tasting 4 samples of each was a nice surprise I wasn’t expecting.

Join us in the kitchen of his south Napa Valley home as John shares the compelling tale he’s told many times…because it’s one worth hearing.

 

John during the interview.

Rocket Science Proprietary Red. Members of this club receive Intelligence Briefs about science and technology. Every year they donate wine to raise funds for the Astronaut Science Program.

2015 Caldwell “Silver” Proprietary Red Blend

 

One of John’s newest ventures, tequila. The Añejo on the left was aged in a used Cabernet barrel. All 3 Añejos and the one Silver were smooth and easy to drink. I want more!

As the harvest season was looming I felt it was a good time to talk with a grape grower. I wanted to get answers to questions I was receiving from people about the weather. We had heavy and late rains well into spring, then occasional heat spikes began happening the past couple of months. Would that affect the grapes and vines? After meeting Gus Gamba recently Gamba Vineyards and Winery seemed like the place to visit. And what a story he has to tell about his old vine zinfandel and Italian heritage.

My second interview is with the sommelier at Justin Vineyards and Winery in Paso Robles, CA. I sat with Jim Gerakaris a few years ago but it didn’t make it onto a podcast. Not much has changed, including Justin’s well respected reputation and wine. It’s still a worthy interview. Jim is very good at explaining the brand and their philosophy.

My Wine Uncorked feature exposes a little known fact about King Tut. It all begins when  you hit the Play button.

 

The Etrusca Proprietary Blend

CK Mondavi and Family of Napa Valley is currently ranked at #16 in annual case production for US vintners. Needless to say, that’s large.

LaRue Wines of the Sonoma Coast region produces less than a thousand cases. Yep, that’s really small.

My guests are Randy Herron of CK Mondavi and Family, and Katy Wilson of LaRue. I thought it would be fascinating to hear the differences between these two brands. Randy crafts more than half a dozen varietals that are priced in the Value category. Katy focuses on cool climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir priced at the Luxury level. Nevertheless, these two share an easy going nature and make wines that are exceptional for their price range.

A Wine Uncorked feature is also included in the podcast. A little trivia gift from me to you.

 

LaRue Wines

With Katy during her 10th Anniversary Celebration

This podcast offers something a little different. Yes, I do talk about wine – Italian and French varietals, but tasty cuisine as well.

The settings for VJB Cellars and The Girl and the Fig Restaurant are entirely different, yet each offer extraordinary experiences. My guests are Italian immigrant Vittorio Belmonte and Sonoma chef & restaurant owner Sondra Bernstein. Their wine and culinary businesses are successful but both started from humble beginnings. Needless to say, that provides a compelling story.

 

 

Cappuccino with Vittorio & a Chat with Sondra of Girl and the Fig

I was slow to develop a taste for Port and dessert wines. In retrospect that’s peculiar since I have a sweet tooth. Thankfully, I have seen the light and developed a taste for Port! For the last ten years it’s been my desire to have at least one bottle on the shelf and/or in the refrigerator. It also took a while for me to hear about Napa Valley’s own Port house, Prager Winery and Port Works.

They hit two milestones this year; their 40th anniversary, and Sweepstakes & Best of Class awards from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Tasting – the largest competition of American Wines in the world. It was their 10-year-old Tawny that grabbed the prize.

Winemaker Peter Prager shares the story of following their father’s dream to own a winery as he takes me through each of his Ports and dry Petite Sirah. What a way to start the day! Prager Winery and Port Works is a throwback to a simpler time in the valley and truly a unique experience. Join us at the tasting bar at Prager.

 

Prager Winery and Port Works Prager Winery and Port Works

It’s not intentional that this podcast was uploaded just a couple weeks after the movie Wine Country was released. Artesa Estate Vineyards and Winery is one of the wineries the ladies visited.

The fact is, their winemaker Ana Diogo-Draper was on my radio show in April, so she was next in line for my podcast. As you’ll hear, Artesa is influenced by Spain, Napa Valley and Portugal. You can taste those influences in the many wines Ana crafts. Varieties include Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Alberino, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, and a sparkling.

Join us in the tasting room to learn about Artesa Estate Vineyards and Winery, the rich history, and their delightful winemaker.

Learn more about the winery here.

Artesa Vineyars and Winery

My guest, winemaker Ana Diogo-Draper

 

 

Artesa Estate Vineyard and Winery

A portion of their tasting room

 

Artesa Estate Vineyard and Winery

The gift shop

Artesa Estate Vineyard and Winery

Additional tasting bar for events and overflow

 

 

One of several beautiful period paintings that hang in various tasting spaces

You can click on these photos to see a larger image

 

 

 

 

The Galatea we discuss. It’s 53% Tempranillo, 47% Cabernet Sauvignon and 100% delicious!

Jordan Vineyard and Winery is an ivy covered icon. It’s one of Sonoma County’s most stunning wineries fashioned after a French chateau. It stands boldly yet gracefully among the sweeping lawn, beautifully manicured trees, and recently planted cabernet sauvignon vineyard.

Needless to say, it was a pleasure to spend a couple of hours there interviewing CEO and family member John Jordan and winemaker Rob Davis. He and I chatted for 90 minutes, way more than I could squeeze into my one hour radio show. Fortunately, a majority of the outtakes can be heard in this podcast.  For you Napa wine history fans you’ll love the stories Rob shares about “the Dean of California Winemakers,” André Tchelistcheff.

As you listen you’ll understand the reasoning behind Wine Enthusiast Magazine choosing Jordan Vineyard and Winery as American Winery of the Year in 2014. Since they produced their first vintage in 1976 their wine has lived up to the elegance of the chateau.

To see their tours and tasting options, wine and so much more click here.

 

Jordan Vineyard and Winery

During the tasting and interview with Rob Davis

Jordan Vineyard and Winery

CEO and family member John Jordan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jordan Vineyard and Winery

 

 

Jordan Vineyard and Winery

When you walk through those French doors you’re elevated tasting experience will include award-winning wines and exceptional hospitality.

Jordan Vineyard and Winery

Jordan Vineyard and Winery

The directional sign at Vista Point that John and I reference.

 

It’s another day on our incredible, beautiful and struggling planet. This podcast focuses on the positive impacts people are making as I present Part Two of my Earth Day celebration.

Much like the Slow Food Movement, Italy’s Slow Wine crusade promotes sustainable practices within the winemaking industry. The Slow Wine Guide features those who operate within those parameters. The 2019 edition contains 370 wineries from Italy, 121 from California, and new this year, 50 Oregon wineries. I chose two from Northern California who have been selected by Slow Wine; Larkmead Family Estate in Calistoga, Napa Valley, and Littorai Wines of Sebastopol, Sonoma County. They’re both highly respected in the industry. You’ll be impressed with the efforts they put forth to create their exceptional wine. Cheers to that! Happy Earth Day.

On this podcast we celebrate the Earth, and those who are doing their part it keeping it as livable as possible.

Earth Day is coming up on April 22nd and the Wine Institute is presenting their 8th Annual Down To Earth Month. They’re promoting celebrations throughout the month, across California. You can find more details on my Events page Down To Earth Month Celebrations. You might also want to visit Discover California Wines.

In this podcast you’ll hear my interview with Allison Jordan, the Executive Director of the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance and Vice President, Environmental Affairs for Wine Institute.

I have a brief conversation about sustainable winemaking and vineyard practices with Ana Diogo-Draper, Director of Winemaking at Artesa Vineyards and Winery. Then I talk with C.O.O. and winemaker John Olney of Ridge Vineyards Lytton Springs about their April 20th event celebrating organic farming. We’ll also chat about the rich history of Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello as well. I mean, it’s iconic. I couldn’t pass up that opportunity.

Let’s drink some wine and celebrate this big blue marble we call home!

 

 

Down To Earth Month

The old zinfandel vineyard on a fog covered morning at Ridge Vineyards Lytton Springs in Dry Creek Valley, Geyserville, CA.

 

 

This podcast includes stops at a favorite winery and restaurant; Spring Mountain Vineyard and A16.

As  you’ll hear, Spring Mountain Vineyard features three distinct vineyards and a history that makes it a special place. What I love about the experiences are the library wines the offer. In three visits I’ve tasted vintages from 1988, 2001, ’04, ’08, ’10, and ’15. The cabernet sauvignons and their Elivette (reserve) blends are made in the Bordeaux style; meaning not a big, ripe, chewy Cab, but an elegantly complex wine that invites you to enjoy taste after taste. They also bottle a sauvignon blanc. Winemaker Justin Hirigoyen is my guest.

**Update: Wine Spectator just released scores for 2015 Bordeaux Blends in Napa Valley. Spring Mountain Vineyard topped the list with a score of 96. (BTW – 15 of the top 30 are priced higher than Spring Mountain Vineyard). Don’t hesitate, pay them a visit!

A16 Restaurant offers authentic Italian Pizza Napolitana, fresh pasta, and house cured meats inspired by the Campania region. My guest, Wine Director Shelley Lindgren, selects wines that highlight grapes of the Compania and nearby regions.  We’ve enjoyed dining there. You’ll find A16 in the Marina District on Chestnut Street and in Oakland in Rockridge. They also operate the Michelin Star restaurant SPQR in the S.F. Fillmore district.

French and Italian wine and food. What’s not to love?

 

 

Spring Mountain Vineyard and A16 Restaurant

Justin on the day of our interview and tasting

Spring Mountain Vineyard and A16 Restaurant

The tasting we did on our first visit. We love those library wines!

Spring Mountain Vineyard and A16 Restaurant

The barrel room behind the attractive facade

Spring Mountain Vineyard and A16 Restaurant

One of Spring Mountain’s three vineyards

Spring Mountain Vineyard and A16 Restaurant

A recent tasting I attended in the beautiful Miravalle Estate

Spring Mountain Vineyard and A16 Restaurant

A16 Restaurant on a San Francisco evening

Spring Mountain Vineyard and A16 Restaurant

A partial shot of the restaurant. The wood-firing ovens are to the right and the seating wraps around.

Today we’ll travel two and a half hours east of Sonoma/Napa to the El Dorado County wine region in the Sierra Foothills. This lengthy podcast recorded in February will feature three vintners who are distinctly different. They are Chaim and Elisheva of C.G. Di Arie Vineyard and Winery, Kevin Jones of Lava Cap Winery, and Adam Smith of Skinner Vineyards and Winery. They are a good representation of the region’s wineries who are producing world class wines, and run by the nicest people you’ll ever want to hang with. To learn more about the region click here. Now, let’s head to the foothills!

 

A Trip to El Dorado County

On the deck, in the rain, with Kevin Jones of Lava Cap

A Trip to El Dorado County

Chaim and Elisheva of C. G. Di Arie Vineyard and Winery. Chaim is serving during their club party. Elisheva is in behind one of their wines that benefit great causes.

A Trip to El Dorado County

Winemaker Adam Smith of Skinner Vineyards stompin’ the grapes.

A Trip to El Dorado County

Making my way through the back roads of a vineyard on Friday. Dry and green.

A Trip to El Dorado County

Waking up Saturday to 7 inches of snow. Thankfully, it was expected…and beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Trip to El Dorado County

The wine club party at Lava Cap Winery in one side of their large barrel rooms.

A Trip to El Dorado County

A sample of Elisheva’s mixed media artwork. Her art hangs throughout C.G. Di Arie winery.

Trip to El Dorado County

I saw this photo of the snowfall that occurred at Lava Cap Winery a week before my trip. I’m glad it inspired me to rent an SUV and leave my coup at home.

On this podcast you’ll meet Nate Belden of Belden Barns.

He grew up on a farm but spent a number of his adult years working in New York and San Francisco. After a while he felt the unrelenting tug of country life once again. Although his wife Lauren grew up in New York City, surprisingly, she had a similar dream of living a rural life. But grape growing and Belden Barns wine isn’t their only focus. They partnered with Jenny and Vince Trotter to offer Farmstead Goods. Visit their website here.

Hear how Nate and Lauren’s yearning for country life came true as we talk…in the barn.

 

Belden Barns

The set up in the milking barn.

Belden Barns

There’s a good story about the reason for the Poetry Room. Ask them if you ever see Nate or Lauren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Belden Barns

Their vineyard atop magical Sonoma Mountain