Bottle Shock UPDATE!

As promised, here are the vital stats for the Bottle Shock! Premiere Party.
The Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 turned established perceptions of French and California wines on their heads. So what better place than Crushpad — known to challenge convention ourselves — to celebrate the release of Bottle Shock, the new feature film that dramatizes this famous tasting.

Tickets are $75. Yes I know, it’s a lot. BUT think of what you get. You get Bo & Heidi Barrett and Gustavo Brambila, who won first place among white wines at the Paris Tasting with their Chateau Montelena Chardonnay.

We’ll also be joined by folks from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, whose Cabernet Sauvignon captured first place among red wines. Bottle Shock producers, Brenda & Marc Lhormer will even be on hand to give you a behind the scenes account of the filming.

You’ll be part of the judging too, tasting four French wines and four American wines, then casting your vote for best red and best white. After the winning wines are selected, we’ll hop aboard chartered buses for a short trip to the theater to view a private screening of the movie.

You’ll also get entry to the opening night screening of Bottle Shock with, more wine!

Please buy your tickets early here:
Bottle Shock Tickets

Bottle Shock!

Bottle Shock is about to be released!
Picture it.
Scions of the wine industry gather in Paris for the annual Judgment of Paris wine competition.
In a blind tasting, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon from France and California were pitted against each other, where, shockingly California won and changed the wine world forever.

On August 6th, the film adapted from the book Judgement of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting That Revolutionized Wine by George Taber, opens to audiences here in the heart of California wine county. To help celebrate the 22nd anniversary of this epic victory for American wine, Crushpad is hosting a premier party to celebrate our victory over the French. Come celebrate with us by tasting a recreation of the Paris competition, and then join us at the Kabuki for a screening of the movie.

Details to follow soon. You can watch the official trailer below for your entertainment!

A Passport to New Discoveries

Yesterday was the quarterly Santa Cruz Mountain Winegrowers Association Passport day. This is a time when the participating wineries open their doors and invite you to taste this exciting region, while enjoying many tiny wineries that are rarely if ever open to the public.

With the explosion of boutique wineries recently, it was no surprise that there were several new offering on this year’s list, and I aimed to stay north and try the new offerings instead of fighting beach traffic and heading over the hill to the tried and true Santa Cruz destinations. In particular, there were some new urban wineries located in the mid-Peninsula, which makes it a great short day trip.

My first winner for the day were Domenico Winery, located on Industrial Road in San Carlos. Domenico started as the Bacchus Winemaking club, a make you own shop similar to Crushpad. In a large warehouse space on an industrial lane, Domenico has a large open space which has tables set up. On summer Sundays, they host jazz & other musical guests in this space, where you can enjhoy wine and a picnic to the tunes of whoever is playing for the bargain price of $5 entry.

The absolute winner here was the 2006 Santa Cruz Mountain Pinot Noir, $35. While many Pinots I have tasted from the 06 vintage were uninspired, Santa Cruz seems to have bypassed this disappointing year and is producing stellar examples of my favorite vino.

Another winner was down the road in Redwood City. Tucked away in a working class neighborhood of run down houses and auto shops, La Honda is a re-purposed warehouse, redone in a slightly gaudy fake Tuscan Villa style. That said, the owners were genuinely happy to see us, and were happy to let us wander in the small art gallery whiel we sipped our wine.

Again, the winner here was the Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir, Black Capsule North, $26. This is a full bodied Pinot Noir, but is not overdone, and is a nice rich blend from several wineries in the northern Santa Cruz Mountain appellation.

Go forth and buy locally, and enjoy your Santa Cruz wine!



Wine Blogging Wednesday Anniversary Edition!

You know the drill. Once a month, your fellow wineaux and bloggers are handed a theme from the heavens above, and we drink. Then we write.

This month, it is the 4 year anniversary of Wine Blogging Wednesday, started by our Fearless Leader Lenn Thompson of Lenndevours.

For this anniversary edition, Lenn is asking us to go back to our drinking roots, and find that wine that got us to fall in love with Bacchus, or something you used to drink a lot of when you were young and impressionable. Please try to avoid the Boone’s Farm or Sutter Home however!

Come over, do it alone, find a Meetup, but do it!
Post your replies on the WBW site, email Lenn or Twitter it by August 13th, and you can share your notes with the other bloggerati out there.

GREAT Wine under $20

In homage to Dr. Debs (the real Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20 fame), I am happy to report that I had a fantastic evening last night at the Cameron Hughes wine reception hosted by Cornelius of Wine 2.0 & RadCru.

Most impressive were the Alexander Valley & various Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon selections, poured from the new Lot releases by Cameron himself.

Cameron Hughes Wine has made a name for itself as premium quality budget priced wine, widely available at Costco warehouses everywhere. These premium wines average $15 and under, with a few of the more unusual selections hovering around $20. I don’t have to tell you, that $15 for a stellar Cabernet from Napa is like having someone forget to add an item on your bill at your favorite restaurant. It almost feels like stealing candy from a baby!

How do they do it? Well it’s actually a fairly old story of the negociant, a wine merchant who buys grapes or finished wine and slaps their own label on it. IN this case, which amazing results that are different with every lot and every year. Cameron Hughes Wine focuses on buying bits & pieces of leftover super premium wine. Sometimes, wineries don’t want a large case production, to create the illusion of scarcity. Sometimes, they just aren’t happy with the results. And sometimes, well sometimes I just can’t understand dhow they can give up such wonderful elixirs but I”m happy I reap the financial benefits!

My highlights from the tasting are:

This was my outstanding wine winner of the night, both because of the killer dusty cocoa, tobacco and richness, as well as the stupid cheap price. I pre-ordered 2 bottles of it, but now am kicking myself for not ordering more. $15 (not released yet)

A very close 2nd to Alexander Valley, I had a hard time picking my favorite. So I tasted more. And again. And often. Oy the joys of a cab ride home! $16 (not released yet)

  • Lot ? 2006 Yountville Cabernet Sauvignon

This was the first cab we tasted last night, and I thought it would be my favorite. But as we moved down the line, Alex and Chalk just kicked Yountville’s little butt. But it was still good, and a screaming value. Hell, all of them are. It’s young, and needs to be decanted & held, but for $15? Seriously!

  • Lot ? Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon

Silly me, I didn’t keep my tasting sheet because I turned it in to order, and now can’t remember the lot numbers. But this was a tasty tidbit too! I admit, at this point, i sort of lost count because they were so tasty.

For me, a typically non Merlot drinker, this wine blew me away. It is a rich & powerful merlot, coming from an area that i wouldn’t expect and yet didn’t’ have that overpowering manipulated feel of most commercial wines.

A very minty syrah, with a lot of spice. It was a bit tannic for me, and could use a bit more balance but I expect great things in the future. $15

This was a surprise, and a really interesting blend that caught my attention quickly as we tasted the large array of wines on the bar. Grenache & Carignane come together to give a taste of Spain in a classic meritage. $20

The moral of the story? Don’t prejudge! I have had some of the other CH Wines, and wasn’t terribly impressed. However, with the variety of Lots and the amazing Cabernets, I will certainly not shy away in the future.

Thanks to RadCru and Cameron Hughes for a great time at Varnish!



My Favorite Wine Shops

So, I buy wine. I buy a LOT of wine. I buy a lot of GOOD wine.But where do I buy it you ask?There are so many great sources, it’s hard to narrow down my favorite, but here are my top choices (other than winery direct):

  1. Wine Q – my new favorite source for unusual, small production yummy wines. Their prices are fair, and there is no shipping if you spend over $35, which is easy on 2+ bottles. It’s basically Netflix for wine, where you create your own queue, and dictate how many bottles per timeframe you want shipped. 2 bottles a week? 6 bottles a month? No problem!Plus, Brittany and Marshall are just nice folks who go out of there wayt o find really tasty treats for us.
  2. The Wine Mine – a tiny shop located under hwy 24/580 in Oakland, where the prices are truely like mining for gold. The last time I was in, I asked the owner for some “weekday wines under $20” and he went one better, offering me a ton of options under $10-15. There is always something new here, and it’s right on my way home!
  3. The Wine Club – SF was my old stand by before I found #1 & #2. I still venture in here from time to time since it’s on my way home, and they are a good source if you are looking for something specific. You can find their inventory on or on their website, and they have 2 other locations.
  4. Bottle Barn – an old Santa Rosa standby, is hidden in an industrial park behind Piner St. They are THE source for Sonoma County wines at a discount, most of which can’t be found outside of the tasting room. Plus, they have an annex in Headlsburg, and they just redesigned their website!

I’m still learning about new areas, especially the northwest. I’m looking forward to trying some of the Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman’s offerings int he very near future.

The Wine Spies posts a new deal daily, and has new deals every Monday so be sure to check them out. I recently got a 3 pack from Twisted Oak at wine.woot for about 25% off of MSRP!



Monday blues…

It’s Monday, and I feel it. Yawn.
A slow week this week, but Wednesday, Cameron Hughes will be pouring their wines at Varnish Fine Art on Natoma in SF.

Cameron Hughes is known for it’s value priced wines which are widely available, such as found in this search, and they are pretty tasty too. It’s free wine, so why not break up the BART ride and take a sip or two.

I’m planning on being there, are you? It’s a private tasting, so if you are interested please email
paul dot jenson at chwine dot com to RVSP for the event, from 6-10pm on Wednesday July 16th.

Saturday is Santa Cruz Passport, and this year since there are a number of wineries pouring north of the Santa Clara county line, I plan on hitting


Wine Blogging Wednesday #47 Brought to you by the Letter S!

So I’m a day behind – I totally forgot that Wine Blogging Wednesday has come and gone!
The regular posse was assembled for a truly Stupendous tasting.

You can see all the details here, but suffice it to say that Syrah won our little “S” hearts.

thanks everyone for participating, and next month we’ll pare down the craziness. I hope.



BreastFest 2008 is Saturday!

No, it’s not an opportunity for you to see boobies.

Officially known asMicrobreweries Fighting Cancer, this festival brings together good food, good people, of course, good beer, and a great cause.

Take the ferry on over to Larkspur, and participate in the cause!
Tickets are $35 at the door, and give you a commemorative glass as well as all the beer you can drink. Food is available for a small charge as well.

Participating breweries include:

  • Marin Brewing Company
  • 21st Amendment, (one of my favorite brew pubs in the city)
  • Anderson Valley
  • Beach Chalet another of my favorites
  • BJ’s Brewery
  • Black Diamond
  • Broken Drum
  • Drakes Brewing
  • Fox Barrel Cider
  • Half Moon Bay
  • Iron Springs
  • Lagunitas Brewing Co
  • Magnolia Pub
  • Moon Light
  • Moylan’s
  • Mateveza
  • Mount St. Helena
  • North Coast
  • Rubicon
  • Russian River
  • Santa Cruz
  • Seabright
  • Stone Brewery
  • Third Street Aleworks
  • Triple Rock
  • Two Rivers Cider



Who is Gary V?

Gary Vaynerchuck, VAY NER CHUK, is the rambunctious, loud, opinionated host of Wine Library TV, a video wine blog that tries to change the wine world by getting people to ignore those big critics and discover their own palate with some heavy encouragement.

Take him for what you will, he is celebrating his 500th episode at our local custom crush facility Crushpad tomorrow, July 10. Come on down and celebrate!


Happy Monday!

OK so Mondays aren’t my favorite day of the week and I’m trying to psych myself out.
Had a mellow 4th, stuck in the fog and cold, so I decided that on the 5th I needed to seek some sun.
Little did I know that it would be in the 90s in Dry Creek! PHEW. Thank god for air conditioning.

I stopped by Peterson to kick off my warm day, and enjoyed some zin and tasty sausages while chatting with some friends who happened to be there. From there, I zoomed on in to Rued (rhymes with Druid), but I have to admit, it was so hot outside, and they didn’t’ have any ice buckets, so I didnt’ really enjoy my bathwater wine.

From there, I moved on to Family Wineries of Dry Creek, a coop tasting room where 6 – count em up folks – 6 wineries ply their wares. The line was kind of long for the zin event I had a wristband for, so I popped in to Kokomo which was cool, dark and on my Visa Signature list. Boy! What a good choice that was! I had only been to Kokomo once, at barrel tasting, but they blew me away then and blew me away this weekend. I somehow ending up with a bottle of Sonoma Zin, Cab, and Peters Vineyard Pinot Noir.

Literally next door, I stumbled over to the zinfest at Family Wineries. My standout there was the Meitz Cellars zinfandel which I can still taste.

After loading up on brownies, I headed over to the other side of Dry Creek to pop in to Mounts Family Winery‘s open house. Since Mounts is only open on special occasions, I was happy to have the chance to taste some of their wares. I loved the Rose, Syrah and Petite, and bought one of each. Unfortunately, they packed a Rose, Syrah and Zin. The zin was good, but the PS just blew me away. Oh well.

Finally, I just had to stop at my favorite zin shop, on the north edge of Healdsburg, Manzanita Creek. Brothers Jack & Bill do amazing things with their grapes, and you can look for some of their offerings, like Lower Block, a Mendocino County zin, in a Costco near you.
I have been a huge fan for a long time, and I love having an excuse to stock up on more zins.

All in all, it was a lovely, wine and sun filled day!



Wine Map-o-Matic!

A few months ago, I was introduced to

at the Wine 2.0 event at Crushpad.

Mapovino is a wine-mapping website incorporating GoogleMaps to showcase geographically distinct wines and the stories behind these wines.

Why is this cool? Because it allows you my technonarti friends, to use Google Maps, a tool most of us know and love, to integrate with the wine regions of the world. While I don’t have a Crackberry or an iPhone (yet) I can see the application of this tool going mobile, while crusiing around Dry Creek looking at an interactive map.

With Mapovino, users can add comments, photos, link to maps in their blogs, and even add blog links on the map. It will also wine and geography information from Wikipedia to expand on your knowledge interactively.

Why do I bring this up you ask? Well they are doing their 2nd beta “tasting” in San Francisco next week, and I plan to go to learn more about hte tool and mingle with my fellow wine geeks.

July 7th 7-9pm
Please RSVP by registering here


Happy Zindependance!

It’s the last day of June, and as summer wears on, there are more and more wine events filling my calendar. Even though I try to pick events that are new and exciting, sometimes you just can’t resist.

I am looking forward to the long weekend which is only…um four more days away. Now that the smoke has cleared and the fog is back, i can actually breathe and will probably be looking for a BBQ or two. As luck would have it, there are some new events to choose from so I won’t be bored.

Pinot Days was nice, but I didn’t find anything new that knocked my socks off, sadly. Maybe I’m just becoming jaded? Or maybe it’s just that I didn’t swallow as much wine and I could / should have. There is something in the ceremony of spitting that loses some of that delicious pinot flavor.

Other than the Urbano open house this weekend, Mounts Family Winery is also having an open house up in Dry Creek. This is a great opportunity to taste their small lot wines, since they are not open to the public every weekend.

Mounts will be hosting a BBQ and Wine tasting on Saturday & Sunday, while they will be open for tasting on the 4th itself.

If you’re in to beer, and let’s face it, who isn’t! Around the World in 80 Beers is having it’s July installment at O’Neill’s pub in Ghiradelli Square on Saturday. Goldstar hGoogleas half-price tickets if you are interested.



July is for Wine-ing!

The 4th of July is made for picnics, beer, lemonade and potato salad.
That makes the 5th of July perfect for wine!
Urbano Cellars is having a release party to celebrate their new wines.

  • 2006 Dry Creek Syrah – 290 cases
  • 2007 Green Valley (Solano) Vin Rose’ – 135 cases
  • 2007 Lodi Viognier – 30 cases
  • 2007 Lodi Five Barrel Blend -125 cases
  • 2005 Green Valley (Solano) Zinfandel – 125 cases

Join me in toasting these new releases across the bay with Urbano at Periscope Cellars (click for Google Map) in Emeryville. Afterwards, we can mosey on down to Lost Canyon and maybe even invade Rosenblum. Check out other East Bay wineries at East Bay Vintners Alliance.

As I was reading the list for the July 19th Santa Cruz Mountain Passport, I was happy to see there are now several wineries in the San Carlos / Redwood City / Woodside area.

Check out the list of mid-Peninsula wineries:

  • Domenico Wines
  • La Honda Winery
  • Aptos Creek
  • Kings Mountain
  • Michael Martella

As much as I love driving down to Santa Cruz, with the gas prices and beach traffic the way they are right now – wouldn’t it be fun to go local?

PS if you want to Caltrain, you can walk to Dominico from the San Carlos station!


Happy Monday!

So you know it’s a good party when the aftermath takes 4 trips to the recycling bin to empty the kitchen of bottles.

Thanks all for celebrating my weekend (oh yeah and my 22nd birthday) with me!
There were some tasty wines indeed, and after a day of sleep to recover, I will have to do some reading to see what we drank and what I restocked on.




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