South of the town of Sonoma, in the southern end of Sonoma Valley, is a wide open plain with farmland, vineyards, and the flat and wetlands of San Pablo Bay. Nestled back against the tip of the Sonoma Mountains, in the midst of unexpected lush surroundings, is Cline Cellars. It’s a favorite wine and destination for many across the U.S. For 15 years the director of winemaking, Charlie Tsegeletos, has been crafting a great number of wines back behind that oasis, which also includes the Italian varietals for Cline’s other property, Jacuzzi Family Vineyards. Fortunately for him, the winery sits across the street. Both are enjoyable to visit but are individually unique properties. I reached out to Charlie during a busy harvest but he managed to carve out some time for me.

cline Cellars

The lush surroundings at Cline Cellars

Cline Carp

The descendants of America’s first carp

 

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

 

Good day to you,

Here’s my full radio show that was scheduled to air today at 1:05pm on KSRO. With the latest mandatory evacuations announced for Sonoma and northeast Santa Rosa, KSRO’s full coverage of the fires will now preempt my radio show for today. If you’d like you can hear it click the player below.

For details on the latest evacuations you can visit Nixle.us. This is a direct link to the page. Needless to say, our positive thoughts and prayers go out to all affected by this on-going fire crisis in Northern California. Thanks to all who have offered their support. Here’s today’s show.

paradise ridge

Join me as I take the drive to Smith-Madrone Vineyards and Winery perched high atop Spring Mountain. It provides a unique viewpoint of Napa Valley (in more ways than one). Stuart and Charlie Smith have been up there since the early 70s crafting wine the way they feel it should be made. Their style hasn’t always been in favor but as tastes have changed they’ve become fashionable again. If you enjoy hearing opinions on the wine industry from those who have spent 45 years within it you’ll appreciate this podcast.

 

After 20 years of hosting the successful Tomato Festival Kendall-Jackson has decided to freshen up and rename their Sonoma County fall event to the Harvest Celebration. Executive Chef Justin Wangler joins me to explain the fantastic food and wine samples guests will be able to enjoy was they meander through the estate gardens. If this sounds like a not-to-miss event get your tickets soon. It will likely be a sell out and is coming up soon, Sunday, October 1st.

Click the photo below to visit the website for details.

 

 

Harvest Celebration

I truly enjoy sharing the stories of winemakers, and I really get a kick out of finding distinctive gems that are outside the norm. This is certainly one of them, steeped in multiple layers of rich history. Aimée Sunseri is a 5th generation winemaker from Napa County’s oldest family-owned winery, the Nichelini Family Winery, which dates back to 1895. She is also the winemaker for New Clairvaux Vineyard in the small, dusty town of Vina, Ca. The original winery was the largest producer in the world in the late 1800s. It just so happens her partners are Trappist-Cistercian monks, whose viticulture history goes back nearly 1000 years! It should come as no surprise that with all that winemaking history Aimée recently won an international women’s competition. Click the play button to hear their surprisingly unfamiliar story.

 

           New Clairvaux

 

 

 

 

This was only the second time I’ve featured just one guest on my radio show since it began in 2014. Today you’ll meet the Godfather of Zinfandel, Joel Peterson. You may not recognize his name but Joel has been bottling and promoting Zinfandel since he started his brand in 1976, Ravenswood Winery. It’s likely you’ve heard of that name. They bottle other varietals and are well known for their slogan, No Wimpy Wines. Now he’s back at the beginning with his new brand, Once & Future. It’s a fascinating story he shares on today’s podcast.

 

joel peterson

(Garagiste – A French term used to describe a garage-based winemaking operation. Once seen as a negative, garagiste wineries are now treated with cult-like status.) Ben Papapietro was a garasite in San Francisco. His desire to get into the wine business found him living in his van in a vineyard for months at a time. Some how he managed to keep his newspaper job during his decades-long venture. Along with friend and partner Bruce they managed reached success in Sonoma County with Papapietro Perry Winery. Ben shares his tale with me in this podcast.

 

 

 

papapietro perry

 

 

You know, one wine country’s best-kept secrets are the smaller, boutique wineries who, more often than not, make stellar hand-crafted wine. Without cruising around Northern California in person you wouldn’t know of most of them. This podcast features one, Paul Mathew Vineyards. Winemaker Mat Gustafson and his wife Barb make a great team, and if you happen to be in Sonoma County they offer fantastic food and wine pairing dinners. The road Mat traveled in becoming a winemaker was long and took many turns, most in the right direction. I think you’ll enjoy his story. Heck, it might even give you hope while you pursue your dream.

 

 

Paul Mathew Vineyards

Paul Mathew Vineyards

 

This is the second time I’ve had the chance to interview winemaker Ted Henry and each time it’s been an enjoyable experience. Now he’s the head winemaker at the historic Clos Du Val winery in Napa’s iconic Stags Leap District. Clos Du Val has recently made some dramatic changes to their wine making philosophy. The timing couldn’t have been better to get Ted’s observation on the changes you’ll be seeing and tasting in the near future. My family happened to be visiting Napa Valley that week from Phoenix and not only were they surprised by getting to attend the interview, they also received the wine tasting from Ted. It’s not often a tasting is provide by the winemaker. As I say, he’s a gracious guy.

 

 

Winemaker Ted Henry

National Rosé Day was June 10th and to mark that occasion I interviewed 3 winemakers who craft distinctive versions of refreshing pink wine. I traveled from Napa Valley (Stewart Cellars) to Sonoma County (Taft Street Winery) and hit Glen Ellen in between (Laurel Glen Vineyard). This is the season for Rosé and over the last few years that style of wine has been getting quite interesting as winemakers search for creative ways to produce it. That’s what you’ll hear on this podcast. So find a warm spot in the sun with a chilled glass of Rosé and let’s get started. Cheers!

 

National Rosé Day

Blair Guthrie of Stewart Cellars

 

National Rosé Day

Mike Martini of Taft Street Winery

 

National Rosé Day

Randall Watkins of Laurel Glen Vineyard

This interview began as a discussion concerning the 40th anniversary celebration of Raymond Vineyards’ first vintage release. Always the innovator, owner Jean-Charles Boisset had it bottled with a gold embossed red velvet label. No, really. This inspired me to sit down with him to discuss his creative inspiration. That led me to present other wine producing innovations he has been offering from Buena Vista Winery (Sonoma Valley) and JCB by Jean-Charles (Napa Valley). I enjoy interviewing J.C. because I never know what to expect from him. I take that back. I do know what to expect and it’s his playful irreverence that tempts me to return. This is the extended version of what aired on my radio show. An EP of JC, if you will. Enjoy.

 

 

jean-charles boisset

On Earth Day my guest was Kenny Likitprakong of Hobo Wine Company. He was a good fit. He’s a guy who loves the land, the freedom of the road and wearing out a pair of shoes. It’s no wonder he chose a career that would take him into the vineyards along country roads to produce a product from the soil. Kenny and his wife Lynn are also environmentally conscious and choose to use 100% geothermal clean energy to run the production facility. But don’t let the name fool you. He’s making world class wine and getting noticed.

 

It’s not often, actually only once before, that I’ve interviewed a Hospitality/Tasting Room Manager of a winery. Yet the impressive experience that is offered at MacRostie Winery and Vineyards in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley inspired me to do so. LisaMarie Kennedy is the driving force and we discuss the mindset that sets them apart from other tasting rooms. And, of course we’ll discuss their wine. That’s a given.

 

 

Michael Sebastiani of Highway 12 Winery has been in the vineyards since he was ten, if not younger. In his 20s he began working with Paul Giusto at Viansa Sonoma. While there they hatched the idea of starting their own brand. Highway 12 passes through the iconic vineyards of Russian River Valley, Sonoma Valley, Los Carneros and Napa Valley. No better name could capture the essence of the wine they wanted to offer. In this podcast you’ll hear what it takes to start and operate a winery as they speak candidly about the challenges and their ultimate success with Highway 12, Carneros Highway and The Highwayman. It’s time to travel On The Wine Road.

 

There were a number of wineries established in the mid to late 1800s in California that still exist however Foppiano Vineyards is the longest continually run family winery in Sonoma County. Some of the original dwellings and structures still exist, even the tasting room is built out of the original old redwood tanks. And if you visit you can still taste their 1996 Petite Sirah. The place is steeped in history. Join me in the Russian River Valley appellation as I talk with the president, the winemaker and self-appointed historian.

 

 

Foppiano Vineyards

On this podcast we talk about Tannat wine grown and crafted by Bodega Garzón in Uruguay and Y. Rousseau Wines in Napa. Joining me in this discussion is Christian Wylie, the general manager of Bodega Garzón, and French American Yannick Rousseau, the winemaker of his namesake winery. We in the U.S. are not terribly familiar with the Tannat grape varietal but it is respected in South America and southwest France. Through the efforts of these two experienced wine masters and other wineries who are giving it a chance we’ll all become more familiar and appreciative of the unique characteristics this varietal has to offer. By listening to this podcast you’ll also become familiar with the state-of-the-art Bodega Garzón winery and the region. You may also be inspired to visit!

 

 

Christian Wylie of Bodega Garzon with his Tannat       Winemaker Yannick Rousseau enjoying the Tannat aroma

To hear my interview with Yannick Rousseau about his wines click here.

The amount of the grape varieties winemaker Bill Nachbaur includes in his field blends at Acorn Winery is mind-blowing. I don’t know of any winery that utilizes so many varieties in their blends. In the image below on the right you’ll see what goes into the Dolcetto, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, Syrah (a reasonable amount of varieties). Then there’s the extensive Zinfandel blend. On the left are the all of the varieties that make up his Medley Base which is part of the all-encompassing Medley Blend that includes all the varieties on the right as well! It truly is a grand palette from which Bill creates this unique blends. Somehow it all works well. They are as enjoyable as much as they are complex.

Here’s my interview with Bill –

 

acorn-winery-medley-2012-palette-edit

For a cleaner resolution click this link

Susie Selby has been a winemaker in Sonoma County for 23 years now but following the loss of her father, who happened to be her partner, she was nearly talked out of pursuing the venture. Facing an uphill battle she chose to forge ahead. Along the way the community has supported her and Selby wine has been served at White House functions more than any other winery in the country. Without a road map she’s found success. As you’ll hear she has maintained her sense of humor and humbleness. Join us for our conversation in Healdsburg on the edge of Dry Creek Valley.

 

 

 

I read that Garrett of G. Love and Special Sauce is a fan of wine and that his sister imports Burgundian wine for a distributor in New York. This gave me a good reason to set up an interview prior to a show at the Fillmore in San Francisco a while back. I’ve been a fan for many years and it was very cool to spend some time with him. We talked wine, music and family. After the interview he asked if I wanted to hear a song he’d been working on called “Drinkin’ Wine.” It was a great start to an extraordinary evening.

An excerpt of  “Drinkin’ Wine” is featured in the interview but you can see the longer video here: https://youtu.be/OwoMtgxm–c

 

G Love