If you remember Pat Paulsen’s Presidential campaigns then you probably agree with me that this year would have been ideal for him to run as a candidate. We could use his satirical commentary. I talk with his son Monty about his father’s legacy and the wine they make at Pat Paulsen Vineyards. They’re serious wines for fun times!


Photo compliments of Doug Duran/Mercury News


May 24th, 2016 was the 40th Anniversary of the Judgement of Paris blind tasting heard ’round the world.

In 1976, Chateau Montelena‘s Chardonnay and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars‘ Cabernet Sauvignon beat the best the French had to offer; a shocking result at the time. Yet it almost wasn’t publicized.

In this podcast you’ll hear how the historic Paris Tasting came together, where some of the winning Chardonnay grapes were sourced (hint: not from Napa Valley), and how word spread across the globe.

Guests include tasting organizer Steven Spurrier, Time Magazine journalist George M. Taber, winemaker Mike Grgich and winegrower Helen Bacigalupi. Fill a glass and enjoy the tale of a significant moment in wine making history.


Judgement of Paris-judgestable-credit

Steven Spurrier in the middle.








Catching up with Steven during the 40th Anniversary event at Raymond Vineyards, hosted by Jean-Charles Boisset.


I’m just south of St. Helena in Napa Valley at V. Sattui Winery. As they celebrate their 40 anniversary I talk with owner Dario Sattui about his early challenges, his determination, and how he successfully fulfilled a desire to continue his family’s wine making legacy.


V Sattui Gold Room

Last fall I had the chance to chat with travel guru Rick Steves prior to his talk Lessons from a Lifetime of Travel, the content of which seemed to rely on his books, The Value of Thoughtful Travel and Travel as a Political Act. Why feature him on a show about wine? He’s been fortunate enough to enjoy wine in the world’s most beautiful places. Plus, why not take advantage of the opportunity to talk with this travel guru? It’s a short conversation but well worth it.



Rick & Jeff closer



Each year Wine and Spirits Magazine publishes their Restaurant Poll. The comprehensive research exposes trends in the wines we choose as we dine in America’s favorite restaurants. Among the many lists is the Restaurant Top 50. As a teaser, here are the California wines that made the top 10; the wines we choose time and time again. At the top of the list is Cakebread Cellars, #2 Jordan Vineyard and Winery, #3 Merry Edwards, #6 Duckhorn Vineyards, #8 Caymus Vineyards, #9 Justin and rounding out the top 10 is Silver Oak Wine Cellars.

For the entire feature, it’s many lists and unexpected surprises, keep your eye on WineandSpiritsMagazine.com or look for April 2016 issue on newsstands.

Senior editor Luke Sykora will join me on-air in early April to discuss it in length. The many surprises will be revealed! Keep listening. On The Wine Road, 1:05 pm on KSRO.

Winemaker Clay Mauritson is part of a six generation winegrowing family, however he’s the first to try his hand at winemaking. His experience in the vineyard has led him to an enlightening project that shows how much the soil has an impact on the flavor and mouthfeel of the wine. In this case he bottled Cabernet Sauvignon grown and managed identically in three different vineyards to express the variances the loam soil can impart on the finished product. Each are uniquely fantastic. In this segment you’ll learn about his Loam Wines project and a bit of the Mauritson Wines family history.



Mauritson_edited           Clay Mauritson close-up

Learn how Nan Tucker McEvoy, a successful newspaper woman and activist, unwittingly kicked off a renaissance in California’s olive oil industry. McEvoy Ranch also makes fantastic wine. An Italian from Tuscany agronomist and winemaker has been instrumental in their success. Blake Yarger fills us in on the details.



lake and trees2  flowers



I talk with winemaker Sandy Walheim about Francis Ford Coppola’s new winery, Virginia Dare. The brands and tasting room pay homage to two events in American history. Virginia Dare is known as the first English child born in the New World to colonists in 1587. It was also the name of an early winery which operated in North Carolina beginning in 1835. You’ll hear about the wine and how they tie in to these historical events.


Virginia Dare-Sandy Walheim

If you enjoy a glass of wine while reading a good mystery you’ll appreciate this story. Zinfandel has been in the U.S. since the early 1800s yet no one knew for sure where it originated. Is it related to Primitivo? Finally in 2001, with help from others around the globe, U.C. Davis professor Carole Meredith solved the mystery and in turn helped save the heritage grape from extinction. Carole shares her exhaustive research and discovery with me in this in-depth interview. You’ll also hear about her own vineyard, Lagier Meredith, which sits high atop Mt. Veeder overlooking Napa Valley.

Pour yourself a glass, it’s a good story.



bottle shot

Adam and Dianna Lee had been fans of Pinot Noir and got the crazy idea to move from Dallas to Russian River Valley to start their own winery. That bold move proved to be a success. Adam tells their story of guts and glory with Siduri Wines.  Together with Dianna’s family they also run Novy Family Wines.



Owner/winemaker Michael Muscardini focuses on Italian varietals but crafts other favorites as well, including a sweet vermouth and grappa. His tasting room is a historic schoolhouse in Kenwood has become quite the gathering place. Learn more about him and his wine here…


Michael Muscardini

In this segment I visit Steve Rogstad at Cuvaison. You’ll hear about their Chardonnay & Pinot Noir from the cooler Carneros region and their Brandlin Cabernet Sauvignon from their vineyard on Mount Veeder. Steve also shares his story of becoming a winemaker. He’s had a successful run at Cuvaison and judging by the wine it’s no wonder.


Steve Rogstad

Bluxome Street Winery is the first fully operational winery to open in San Francisco since Prohibition. You’re sure to enjoy their wine, the design of the tasting room, and facility. In other words, it’s an ideal urban winery. I met up with co-founder Matthew Reidy to learn about the history of the building, to taste the wine they make, and to share their story as we took this trip “South of the Slot.”


Bluxome Street Winery  Bluxome Street Winery

Bluxome Street Winery  Bluxome Street Winery


Earlier this year I finally had a chance to meet with winemaker Morgan Twain Peterson of Bedrock Wine Co. Over the last few years he’s been making some of the best wine in the world according to Wine Spectator. Learn about his past, the family vineyard and his wine making style.


In the two weeks following the 2015 Sonoma County Harvest Fair I featured several Best of Class Winners on my show. Here are two of them. Joe Benziger of Imagery Estate Winery likes to make the lesser grown varietals, especially those from Northern Italy. Diane Wilson of Wilson Artisan Wineries seems to win the most awards each year. I’ve been wanting to talk with her for a while now. We finally hooked up.


Joe Benziger_BarDiane Wilson

In this segment I visit Micah and Adrian in Forestville, Sonoma County. They just opened their tasting room this Spring and have been named a “winery to watch”. If you like Pinot Noir and Zinfandel be sure to add them to your list. Click to hear their story…

On Monday, August 24th, I woke up early, put on my yard-work clothes and headed out to participate in a harvest, a pruning, and grape sorting at a winery. Hear the people and sounds I encountered along the way during this
year’s early harvest. Click the audio player below.

Below you see winemaker Greg LaFollette at the sorting table; me after a long morning of sorting in the vineyard, pruning, sanitizing two large fermentation tanks, stacking a pallet of 56 cases of wine, and sorting incoming grapes (I loved it); A bleary-eyed Greg and Michelle Renee Mozell, who joined me that morning; Ken and Melissa Moholt-Siebert who own Ancient Oak Cellars and the Siebert Ranch who’s grapes we sorted at Owl Ridge Winery; and the view from the DuNah Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast wine region.

2015 Harvest_Greg at sorting table 2015 Harvest_Harvest 2015-Jeff 2015 Harvest_Michelle & Greg2015 Harvest_Ken & Melissa Sieberts 2015 Harvest_A view from DuNah Vineyard


Each year the Napa Valley Wine Library Association host an annual wine tasting which is attended by many of Napa Valley’s wineries. 2015 was their 53rd event yet you may not have heard about it. Listen and find out why. (It’s private but there’s a way you can get in!) Michaela Rodeno, a former Napa Valley CEO, now owner of Villa Ragazzi, is my guest.

In this episode we visit the highly awarded Navarro Vineyards, run by a couple of seasoned hippies, and the appealing Balo Vineyards. Winemaker Alex Crangle enlightened us on the winery’s efforts to be thoughtful stewards of the land.


lunch w ted and deborah  Interviewing Ted Bennett and Deborah Cahn following a very nice lunch

Balo Vineyards Alex Crangle Chatting with Alex about Balo Vineyards

Travel with me to Anderson Valley in Mendocino County. You’ll learn the valley has a warmer climate to the west and a cooler climate to the east allowing for a wide range of wine varieties to be grown. In this first episode I visit Drew Family Cellars, Handley Cellars, and Husch Vineyards.


jason drew Winemaker Jason Drew

in the vineyard w mila Walking the mountaintop vineyard with Milla Handley

Husch Vineyards -aged wine The aged wine we tasted with Zac Robinson at Husch Vineyards