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This interview is was a bit unusual for me, with good reason. Ehlers Estate is one of the few wineries that possess an on-going philanthropic element. But that came later.

Ehlers Estate has a rich history dating back to 1886. It is arguably one of the top Cabernet producers in the competitive Napa Valley region. The old stone winery has been transformed into a modern, fashionable tasting space. In 2018, they hired Spanish immigrant Laura Diaz Muñoz as winemaker and General Manager. Her talent and willingness to revamp the appearance and winemaking is breathing new life into the brand.
    
In 1996, French philanthropists and owners Jean and Sylviane Laducq, established the Leducq Foundation which supports research for the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease and stroke. On a small level, proceeds from Ehlers’ wine sales and tastings benefit research as part of the global international network. You’ll hear details from the Foundation’s Executive Board Members, Spaniard Martín Landaluce and American Dr. David Tancredi. It’s a monumental endeavor and one you’ll appreciate if you have a loved one who has suffered from cardiovascular disease. I think you’ll be impressed.  

 

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or download for later:  OTWR_EhlersEstate

 

Ehlers Estate

Laura and the 9 bottles she had waiting for me

 

Ehlers Estate

The historic stone winery building

 

Ehlers Estate

The Red Barn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rustic yet exquisite tasting room

 

Sylviane and Jean Leducq

President of the Board of Directors of Leducq Foundation, Martin Landeluce

Executive Director of the Board of Directors of the Leducq Foundation, Dr. David Tancredi

 

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

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 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.

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

 

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

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

 

 

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