Category Archives: sonoma

Catch Some Great End of Summer Wine Events

There is still over a month until summer is officially over, but kids are going back to school and the temperatures outside are changing.  So with the end of summer coming up, it’s a great time to go some wine festivals.  For example:

Family Winemakers of California – August 23 – Fort Mason Center – 3-6pm  $50 in adv. $60 at the door. 
This event will feature more than 300 of California’s small, family owned wineries.  More than 30 new wineries just this year! 

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend – Sept. 4-6  MacMurray Ranch, Healdsburg
Choose from dozens of winemaker lunches or dinners ($75-$160)
The 30th annual TASTE of Sonoma (Sept. 5 11am-4pm).  There will be over 150 wineries pouring their finest offerings and more than 60 chefs whipping up fantastic food pairings.  ($150-$195).

Wine and Cheese Train Ride on Board the Niles Canyon Railroad – Aug. 30 & Sept. 6 – Sunol, $37.50
Wineries of Livermore are highlighted by the Pacific Locomotive Association.  Boarding at 3pm, departure at 3:30pm and return at 5:30pm are thescheduled times.  This is a fund raiser for the PLA with the goal that guestsexperience and appreciate fine railroad service while learning more ofLivermore Area wines.

Edna Valley Wine Tour – Aug. 22nd 10:30-4:00  San Luis Obispo  $109
Travel along back county roads. Discover the familiar to hidden localfavorites. Taste at four distinctive wineries, fees included and enjoya fabulous gourmet picnic lunch in the most picturesque of settings andmaybe make some new friends along the way!

Santa Monica Pier Seaside Wine Tasting – Sept. 3 – 6:00-10:00pm $20 for 5 tastes plus a glass of your favorite wine
Take in a concert, sip some great wine, and breath in the Pacific Ocean.  The Wine Bar opens at 6pm, 1 hour before the concerts start and stays open until 10pm, as the concerts are winding down.

Have Fun!

Can you drink 28 glasses of wine in 3 hours?

You wouldn’t even believe this if I told you.  What if I told you that between 9:30 and 12:00 this morning I drank 28 glasses of wine?  Well, if I had really drank everything I wouldn’t be alive to write this.  Today Larry and I had the fantastic opportunity to go and taste 28 samples of wines from the Russian River Valley, Sonoma County.  We were invited to a “media tasting” sponsored by the Russian River Valley Winegrowers. There were 24 of us media types and a panel of 6.  The panel was moderated by Geoff Kruth, Master Sommellier and Wine Director at the Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant.  The rest of the panel included John Holdredge of Holdredge Wines, Pete Opatz, viticulturalist to Picket Fence Vineyards, Dan Kosta of Kosta Browne Winery, Tom Dehlinger of Dehlinger Winery and the host, Peter Merriam of Merriam Vineyards.  Everything took place at Merriam Vineyards which is on the Windsor/Healdsburg border north of Santa Rosa.  Upon entering the room for the first flight we were greeted with 9 glasses filled with Pinot Noir from different wineries in the Russian River Valley.

Flight 1 – The first flight was Russian River Pinot Noir – Single Vineyard – 2007 – The price of the bottle and my grade of the wine
Balletto Vineyards – Burnside Vineyard – $34.00 B
Coterie Cellars – Saralee Vineyard – $38.00  B-
C Donatiello Winery – Maddie’s Vineyards – $62.00 A-
Dutton Goldfield Winery – Freestone Hill Vineyard – $58.00 B+
Forchini Vineyard and Winery – River Terrace Vineyard – $32.00 B
Freeman Vineyard & Winery – Keefer Ranch – $46.00 B-
Russian Hill Estate Winery – Tara Vineyard – $46.00 B+
Sequana Vineyard – Dutton Ranch – $40.00 B
Suacci Carciere Wines – Suacci Vineyard – $48.00 C+

Flight 2 – The second flight was Russian River Pinot Noir – Blends – 2007 – The price of the bottle and my grade of the wine
Chasseru Wines – $40.00 B
Hook & Ladder Winery – $25.00 B+  **
Hop Kiln Winery, Generations – $40.00 B
J. Lynn Wines – $19.99 B  **
Joseph Swan Vineyards, Cuvee de Trois – $28.00 C
Kenwood Vineyards – $18.00 B-  **
Moshin Vineyards – $36.00 B
Olsen Ogden Wines – $42.00 B+
River Road Vineyards – $27.00 B 
Terlato Family Vineyards – $60.00 B+
Willams Salyem, Westside Road Neighbors – $67.00 B-

Flight 3 – The thrid flight was Russian River Bordeaux’s.  The winery, vineyard, varietal, year, price and my grade of the wine
Acorn Winery – Alegria Vineyard – Cabernet Franc, 2006 – $32.00 B **
Dehlinger Winery – Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006 – $50.00 B
Ledson Winery & Vineyards – Merlot, 2005 – $44.00 B-
Longboard Vineyards – Merlot, 2007 – 24.00 B+  **
Merriam Vineyards – Miktos Red Wine, 2005 – $50.00 B-
Selby Vineyards – Azvedo Ranch – Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006 – $40.00 B-
Suncy Winery – Hedin Vineyard – Merlot, 2006 – $30.00 C
Windsor Oaks Vineyards – Chalk Hill – Malbec, 2007 – $35.00 B  **

After the third flight we were treated to an awesome lunch at the winery.  During lunch we mingled, and talked about each other business etc.  We also drank more wine!  We had 2006 Merriam Merlot and 2007 Picket Fence Pinot Noir.  Here was the menu:

Arugula & endive salad, avocado, Manchego cheese, caramelized almonds, lemon-truffle vinaigrette
Salad of baby beets, feta cheese, orange & horseradish vinaigrette

Rotisserie pork loin, pomegranate glaze, roasted red grape & farro salad

Wild mushroom & goat cheese spaetzle

Mini Chocolate cakes, caramel mousse mini chocolate chunk & banana bread pudding

                  Peter Merriam, Merriam Vineyards

All I can say is WOW!  Luckily they gave each of us a cup to spit the wine into and a bottle of water at each flight to replenish liquids.  So in reality I probably drank about 1 glass of wine.  But it sounded a lot more impressive saying 28 glasses.  Our day did not end there.  We went on to two more wineries, then out to dinner.  That is another blog for another day.

Father’s Day Past – Tennis, Swimming, Kids, In-laws Lamb and Wine

Yesterday was Father’s Day.  Usually we have a casual day where the boys come here or we meet somewhere and go for a hike and have a bbq.  But this year it was different.  I came up with a brilliant idea to invite my in-laws up here for the weekend.  They were very excited about the offer, bought their Southwest tickets and then they were here.  We enjoyed a quiet afternoon together on Saturday of which included barbecuing chicken breast and serving it with avocado, bacon, lettuce and tomato.   For the evening we had a prior engagement to play bridge with our friends, and so Sherry and Al went to see the new movie “Proposal”.  At 11pm when we came home and our son Brandon and daughter-in-law Kim were on the couch watching TV and knitting.  Sherry and Al were just getting ready for bed and told us they enjoyed the movie.  We all said goodnight and off to bed we went to get our beauty sleep.

In the morning Brandon and Kim made us a great breakfast, which consisted of fruit salad, scrambled eggs, bacon and homemade banana bread.  Just as we were finishing up with breakfast Jacob, my other son, came home with his dog Opal.  Opal is a 1 1/2 year old border collie/Queensland heeler mix.  She is a living tornado, but very sweet, overly friendly and very controlling; especially to our dog Elmer Fudd, who weights twice as much as she does.

After we cleaned up from breakfast we all got ready to go to the tennis courts and swimming pool for the afternoon.  Larry and I got our first tennis lesson from our boys.  We are now on our way to a tennis career!?  Sherry and Al watched, as they were reading and doing word search puzzles.  After we were all hot and sweaty we went to the pool.  It felt real good to cool off.

Coming home it was time to get serious with dinner preparations.  To go back a bit, on Friday, I bought the lamb shanks and made a marinade out of Cabernet, carrots, onion, lemon, chopped tomatoes, garlic, leeks, thyme, oregano, peppercorns, and bay leaves which cooked together for about 15 minutes.  Once the marinade cooled down I put it with the lamb shanks into a couple Ziploc Baggies to marinate overnight.  On Saturday I cooked the lamb for four hours as instructed in the recipe book, The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen by Paula Wolfert.  Once it cooled down, I put it into the refrigerator overnight.  This is what stage I was in when we came back home on Sunday.  I put the lamb into the oven to get the juices flowing again.  Then I removed the lamb shanks, strained the wine from the vegetables and put it in the fridge to cool down and for the fat to rise to the top.  I finished up my ABC Salad (avocado, beans and corn) and boiled the red potatoes.  Al helped by mashing the potatoes while I put in all the goodies.  I cooked down the lamb juices a bit and added in the almond chocolate picada.  This thickened up the jus and then I poured it over each shank and put back in the oven to re-warm for a half hour.  When it was time we all sat down to the ABC salad starter, which everyone really liked.  Some of us were still drinking the white wine while some couldn’t wait to get to the reds.  I reheated the potatoes as I heated up the wok to stir fry the spinach with some garlic and shallots.  Jacob helped me to plate each dish with a spoonful of garlic-cheese potatoes, the lamb shank, the spinach and pomegranate seeds and parsley as garnish.

      Lamb Shank, Garlic Mashed & Spinach

The wine we drank was very interesting.  Brandon and Kim had brought a bottle of Riesling from Te Whare Ra, New Zealand when they were there in April.  This happens to be one of our favorite wineries in New Zealand.   We all enjoyed it very much as we munched on my homemade Spicy Hummus and pita chips.  We also opened a Pacific Rim Riesling, which is another label from Randall Grahm of Bonnie Doon.  Both were good, the Pacific Rim was better after it warmed up a bit, but the Te Whare Ra was good all the way from the beginning to the end.

About 1 hour before dinner Larry opened up and decanted the red wines.  They were all Cabernet Sauvignon’s but from different years and different growing regions all in California.  My third choice, although it kept on opening up and improving while in my glass, was the Camellia Cellars 2002 Cabernet, Lencioni Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley Sonoma County.  My second choice was the Artesa Vineyards and Winery 1999 Napa Valley Cabernet and my favorite was the 1996 Murrieta’s Well, Livermore Valley, Vendimia Cabernet blend.  This blend consisted of 57% Cabernet, 24% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc and 8% Zinfandel.  All of these varietals made a very nice well-balanced blend that improved with its age.  Between the seven of us we drank nearly 5 bottles in a four-hour period.  To top off the night I served dessert, Larry’s request; deconstructed It’s It.  So I made oatmeal chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies, everyone had the choice of ice cream flavors from vanilla to chocolate to mint chip and I pour Hershey’s syrup all over the top.  Very good, fairly light dessert after the heavy dinner, and everyone had smiles their faces.

Last night Jacob drove home.  This morning Brandon and Kim got up early and left to go to work up in Santa Rosa and Larry took his parents back to the airport to fly home.  The weekend went fast, but like they say, quality vs. quantity is usually the better choice!