Posts

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The Creator of Cult Wine, Michael Browne – CIRQ

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…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ZD Wines Celebrates 50 Years

A couple of weeks ago I had the honor of being invited to attended a grand affair at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia in Napa. About 700 people were in attendance, culinary fare was being served, several musicians performed and all for the purpose of celebrating ZD Wines’ 50th Anniversary.

The Rutherford AVA Napa Valley winery has been building something special for quite some time. They also make one of the most unusual wine blends I’ve heard of in the U.S. Abacus is pricey but because of the decades it takes to craft that unique blend you could argue that it’s worth it.

Just a few days before the celebration I had the chance to sit down with winemaker Brandon deLeuze so you and I could hear more about ZD Wines. Click the player below for the interview.

Follow up: I felt this was noteworthy – since this post went out Brandon was promoted from Assistant Winemaker to Winemaker, and Winemaker Chris Pisani has been promoted to Senior Winemaker. Robert deLeuze, CEO and Director of Winemaking said, “Chris and Brandon are exceptionally dedicated to producing the highest caliber wines. We appreciate their effort in advancing our commitment to quality and are honored to have them on our team.”

Congratulations to both of them from On The Wine Road.

ZD Wines' 50th Anniversary

The sun set as the Bash continued.

ZD Wines' 50th Anniversary

This 1994 Merlot was one of many library wines offered that evening. What a nice gift for ZD to share.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ZD Wines 50th Anniversary

It took a one-of-a-kind barrel rack to hold the one-of-a-kind Abacus wine.

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The Backyard Conversation About La Pitchoune Winery

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

 

Russian River Valley Winegrowers’ Paulée Event

This over-the-top Paulée event brings winemakers and collectors together to enjoy an elegant multi-course meal paired with wines from winemakers and guests’ personal cellars, including special, limited and rare vintages.  The date is Friday, August 31st at Sonoma-Cutrer. This Annual Paulée features over 30 Premier Russian River Valley Wineries pouring world class Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc.

Click below for my conversation with Sonoma-Cutrer’s Director of Winemaking Mick Schroeter, and Winery Chef Kevin Markey. For tickets visit Russian River Valley Winegrowers. We hope to see you there. Cheers!

 

Paulée event

Kevin Markey

Paulée event

Mick Schroeder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paulée event

Tables from last year’s event at Hop Kiln Winery

Paulée event

A happy crowd with plenty of well crafted wine and food

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The Winemaker, the Grower and a 100 Point Score

I’ve known these guys at Kokomo Winery over five years now. Winemaker Erik Miller was on my first show back in October of 2013. Winegrape grower Randy Peters was kind enough to by my guest every other month a couple years ago when I presented a feature called From Bud to Bottle. And as you’ll hear, my wife and I belong to their wine club.

When I heard they achieved a perfect 100 point score in the North Coast Wine Challenge, I was thrilled for them. Like a friend would be. Sure, it’s not quite the same as receiving 100 points from some international wine critic but when you consider the wineries entering are from six of the most respected wine regions in California, well that’s sayin’ something.

By the way, I knew that wine was special the first time I tasted it, before the award. I remember the moment. It’s sublime. A true representation of the nectar of the gods. Here’s your chance to find out how they did it.

 

 

Kokomo Winery

Randy Peters (left), Erik Miller (right)

Kokomo winery

The winning 2016 Pinot Noir

Kokomo Winery

The Kokomo Winery Tasting Room at Timbercrest Farms, Dry Creek Valley, Healdsburg, CA

 

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Russian River Valley Winegrowers Single Vineyard Night

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

 

 

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Ram’s Gate Winery, An Exceptional Experience

The folks Ram’s Gate Winery refer to themselves as the Gateway to Sonoma and the Carneros wine region. It also leads to a full sensory experience with stunning views, architecture, and design, the aroma of the organic garden, the palate-pleasing culinary offerings, and, oh ya, the wine. It truly embodies the meaning of “the nectar of the Gods.” Ram’s Gate Winery is like a spa without the massage tables and towels but just as relaxing. Managing Director David Oliver and winemaker Jeff Gaffner fill me in on its history and the experiences they yearn to offer their customers.

 

Jeff Gaffner and David Oliver

 

In the organic garden

The Vineyard Table that offers inspiring views

 

 

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Radio-Coteau, A Wine & Spirits Magazine Top 100 Winery

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

 

What does Pinot Noir mean?

In celebration of the upcoming National Pinot Noir Day, on August 18th, here’s some Pinot trivia for you.

What inspired the French to call a grape variety Pinot Noir? You might know that noir means “black” in French, but what does pinot mean?

The pinot noir grapes are smaller and come in tight clusters. To the French centuries ago it looked very much like a pine cone. Since the grapes are darker than other varieties the word black was also attributed to them. Hence the name Pinot Noir.  I guess they could have gone with Pinot Cône Noir, which does roll nicely off the tongue, but Pinot Noir is sufficient.

 

Pinot Noir cluster

Whole cluster Pinot Noir in the bin following sorting during the 2015 harvest, Russian River Valley

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Ben of Papapietro Perry Winery

(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

 

 

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Paul Mathew Vineyards, Worth Discovering

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

 

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Joseph Jewell Wines

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…

Clouds Rest Estate Vineyards

Meet winery owner John Saemann and General Manager Scott Schuette of Clouds Rest Pinot Noir. John and his team make exceptional hand-crafted, small production Pinot Noir, as well as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. As John believes, which you may too, the vineyard is a magical place there on Sonoma Mountain where the clouds rest.