Lake County Rising

Last fall, a devastating fire ripped through one of the poorest counties in California.  It also happens to be one of the most interesting and up and coming wine regions in California.  Lake County, with it’s some 64,000 residents, was decimated.

I personally experienced this tragedy through my friends, many of whom were immediately impacted by the fire, which engulfed more than 25,000 acres, including much of the counties vineyard land.


The wine industry in neighboring Napa County has responded to the economic impact by holding a charity wine auction on March 20th, at the CIA’s Greystone facility.  Congressman Mike Thompson and grape grower Andy Beckstoffer are on hand to assist legendary auctioneer Fritz Hatton in #LakeCountyRising, to support the long-term rebuilding and economic recovery required in Lake County.

This ollaborative fundraising effort of the Lake County Winegrape Commission, Lake County Winery Association and Lake County Wine Alliance has assembled quite the collection of wine and experiences including dinnner at The Restaurant at Meadowood, Napa Valley, a Michelin starred spot that will dish up a stellar tasting menu.

  • Beckstoffer will auction a personal barrel lot which would be a great way to team build!  A half ton of prime Cab grapes from famed Rutherford vineyard Georges III Heritage and the winemaking team from Sinegal Estate will walk you through the winemaking experience.
  • A 2016 Polaris Ranger EV is being offered as the “green” live auction lot and comes fully loaded with 100 bottles of the finest Napa Valley wines. This environmentally-friendly electric off-road utility vehicle is known for its smooth ride and quiet operation. The wines are from Napa Green Certified vintners: Benessere, Charles Krug, Cliff Lede Vineyards, Clos Du Val, Davies Vineyards, Franciscan Estate, Frank Family Vineyards, Frog’s Leap, Gamble Family Vineyards, HALL, Heitz Wine Cellars, Jones Family Vineyards, Joseph Phelps Vineyards, Keenan Winery, Laura Michael Wines, Merryvale Vineyards, PEJU, Raymond Vineyards, Robert Mondavi Winery, Saintsbury, Salvestrin, Signorello Estate, St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery, Starmont Winery & Vineyards, Swanson Vineyards, The Hess Collection Winery, Trefethen Family Vineyards, Truchard Vineyards, Vineyard 29 and ZD Wines.
  •  An ultimate San Francisco Giants game experience at AT&T Park has been created for another lucky live auction winner. With luxury transportation to the ball park, 12 guests will luxuriate in a private VIP Suite filled with gourmet food and Napa Valley wines, and will take home a signed baseball from Barry Bonds to remember the day.
  • The “Hillside Heaven” silent auction item features lunch for four at The Bistro & Bar at Aubérge du Soleil in Rutherford, and a mixed case of Napa Valley hillside wines including six bottles of 2013 Mount Veeder Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, and six bottles 2013 Viader Vineyards & Winery Tempranillo.
  •  “Northern Exposure” is a silent auction item of dinner for four at Sam’s Social Club in Calistoga and a mixed case of wine from the northern end Napa Valley, including: one bottle Arietta 2013 White Blend; one bottle Behrens Family Winery 2012 Homeland Cabernet Sauvignon; one bottle Behrens Family Winery 2011 The Collector Red Wine; one bottle Bridesmaid 2012 White Blend; one bottle Bridesmaid 2012 Red Blend; one bottle Clark-Claudon Vineyards 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon; one bottle Markham Vineyards 2013 Merlot; one bottle Saint Helena Winery 2008 Red Blend; two bottles Ballentine Vineyards 2012 Old Vine Zinfandel; and two bottles Castello di Amorosa 2012 Sangiovese.
  •  For the silent auction bidder who has an alternative mind-set, “Riveted by Reds,” includes a copy of the fine art photography book Perspectives Napa Valley, and a mixed case of Napa Valley alternative red varietals, including: two bottles Mira Winery 2011 Syrah; two bottles Castello di Amorosa 2012 Sangiovese; two bottles Viader Vineyards & Winery 2013 Tempranillo; two bottles Kenefick Ranch 2011 Cabernet Franc; one bottle Cornerstone Cellars 2012 Cabernet Franc; one bottle Madrigal Family Winery 2012 Petite Sirah; one bottle Humanitas Wines 2012 Cabernet Franc; and one bottle Joseph Carr Wine 2012 Merlot.

Many more lots are going to be presented at this limited seating event.  No bidder will be turned away, but tickets are are on sale now for $150.  If you can’t attend in person can donate directly.



Support your local winemaker and the Valley Fire victims with this amazing event!


Drinking or Charity

I’m all for drinking for charity!  What’s better than tasting some great wine, supporting a local business and supporting a charitable cause?

Every Monday, my new friends at The Barrel Room SF select a charity to donate 10% of thier profits to.  The Barrel Room is a small little wine bar in the heart of Union Square, that pours 40+ wines by the glass, offering something for everyone.  With menus that change monthly, you can experience the most unique and unusual wines, to old favorites without being bored.

Owners and managers Sarah Trubnick, Nikki Goddard, and Carolyn Johnson are all certified sommeliers and are happy to share their wine knowledge with anyone who cares to ask!

I’ll be heading over there on Tuesday for a Geeky Girls happy hour crawl, and while we’re not drinking for charity on that night, it will be sure to be a great time.

The Barrel Room is located in the Fitzgerald Hotel, at 620 Post Street, in San Francisco.

See you there!

Drinking for a cause!

It’s that time of the year again!  Yep, Holiday in Carneros is this weekend, when 20 wineries throw thier doors open and celebrate the season with wine and food pairings!

Featured wineries this weekend include:

  • Tin Barn
  • Adastra,
  • Anaba Wines
  • Bonneau Wines
  • Ceja Vineyards
  • Cline Cellars
  • Enkidu Wine
  • Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards
  •  Homewood Winery
  • Jacuzzi Family Vineyards
  • Keating Wines
  • Larson Family Winery
  • McKenzie-Mueller Vineyards & Winery
  • Meadowcroft Wines
  • Parmelee-Hill Wines & Vineyards
  • Robledo Family Winery
  • Schug Carneros Estate
  • Talisman Wines
  • Tin Barn Vineyards
  • Ty Caton Vineyards

Tickets are $39 for the weekend, and include a souvineer glass.  You can purchase them in advance HERE or on the spot.  Proceeds from this event benefit scholarships for both Santa Rosa Jr. College, as well as Napa Valley College.

This year, there is a special additoin to this event.  Tin Barn Vineyards, which is located in the Eighth Street East wine garage district, will be hosting an art exhibition to benefit a local veteran’s recovery program.

Thanks Any / Way: A Photographic Exploration of Gratitude will be on display during the Holiday in Carneros weekend, Saturday and Sunday, November 19th & 20th from 10am – 4pm.  On Saturday, a Thanksgiving Feast will be served as you gaze at 25 images from both professional and emerging photogrphaers.  Proceeds from art sales will go to The Pathway HOme, a local facility that assits veterans with Post Tramatic Stress Syndrome.

There is also a section of the exhibit featuring work by the veterans who have been helped by The Pathway Home, which offers therapeutic photography as a part of it’s treatment program.

 Can’t make it to the event?  Don’t worry!  The images will be on display and up for auction at Bidding for Good, as well as on and on display at Tin Barn Vineyards during tasting room hours  through the end of the year.  

Drinking for Charity!

How would you like to drink some tasty wine, and donate to charity at the same time?  Well you can!  It’s true, there IS such thing as charitable drinking.  There are several wine projects out there that in part, or in full, donate proceeds to various charities.  In this case, Charity Case Wines were developed by the Charity Case Foundation, which was created in 2008 during a particularly crappy season.

The Foundation was created by a collective of wineries from Napa Valley, and created the Charity Case brand.  The philosophy of the foundation is to give all of the proceeds to those in need, without spending additional resources on tradditional marketing, or winery red tape.  All of the work to make the Charity Case wines is done by volunteers – including wine making, corking, bottling, and marketing.  That is a pretty spectacular endeavour considering how a hectic crush season can be!

For the 2008 vintage, there were four charities that benefited:  The Wolfe Center, Cope Famly Center, Aldea Children Y& Family Services, and Foster Kids Fund.  You can read more abou these organizations and others that Charity Case has supported HERE.

Today, the sun is shining and it’s a glorious late spring (yay summer is nearly here!) fogless San Francisco day, so I broke out the 2008 Rose.  This wine is a random blend of several varietals from Napa, and is a deep rose color.  Huge strawberry aromas, rhubarb pie and peach puree come through in the glass.  A touch of lime zest is also showing.  Crushed red raspberries in the bottom of a summer basket are popping in my mouth, combined with orange blossom water.  This tastes like a cabernet rose, which has a lot more bite than a syrah or pinot rose; it is dense and chewy, and would be fabulous with bbq chicken or other stronger flavors.  Typically, I prefer a more subtle rose, but this is fun for a change of pace.

This is a fun little wine and would be a great guest at a barbeque or just for fun!  At $12, it’s a great picnic addition, and you can’t beat that price for the cause.

Happy drinking!@

Thanks to Charity Case for providing some cool summer sippers

Are you single?

Are you looking for adventure?  Want some one on one time with some really great wine?

Then look no further! is a new dating site.


ok well not really.  BUT – it IS almost time for the 2nd Annual Russian River Single Vineyard night!  (And no, it’s NOT just for singles!)  What is this wild adventure you ask?  Single Vineyard Night is a celebration of single vineyard wines in the caves, where you can sip, eat and tweet some of the best that the area has to offer.

On June 4th, from 6:30-10, join single minded wineaux at Thomas George Estates in Russian River where you can wander the caves and meet more than 30 winemakers woh specialize in single vineyard wines.  Roving “Cellar Teams” will be promoting auction lots, and in a new twist, group bidding is encouraged to raise funds for Russian River Valley Winegrowers to continue their work to preserve the region’s agriculture legacy through marketing and education.  Targeted at millennials, the 20-30 somethings who are the biggest new group of wine drinkers since GenX grew up and became post boomer yuppies (oh hell, that’s ME!) young vintners and growers will be pouring their wares.

After the tasting, move on over to the  Thomas George Estates’ picnic grounds for the auction!   A no-host bar featuring wines that normally retail for under $25 (offered by the taste and glass) and “sliders” fresh off the grill for a small price will be available as well as other food items.  This year, one lot – hosted by Thomas George, will benefit a project sponsored by Coddingtown Mall, who donates gift cards to children from homeless shelters, Boys & Girls Clubs and other children’s groups to shop for school clothes.

Here are some of the kids pouring Single Vineyard wines:

  • Ancient Oaks, Siebert Ranch
  • Arrowood-Saralee’s Vineyard
  • Balletto Vineyards , selection of single vineyards
  • Benovia, Bella Una Vineyard
  • Desmond Wines, Estate
  • Dutton Estate Winery, Dutton Palms Vineyard
  • Dutton Goldfield, Freestone Hill Vineyard
  • Ferrari-Carano, Fiorella
  • Gary Farrell, Westside Farms
  • George Wine Company, Leras Family Vineyard
  • Graton Ridge Cellars, Bacigalupi Vineyard
  • Hop Kiln Winery, HKG Bridge Selection
  • Inman Family, Olivet Grange Vineyard
  • Iron Horse Vineyards, Rued Clone
  • John Tyler Wines, Bacigalupi Vineyard
  • Joseph Swan, Trenton View Vineyard
  • Korbel
  • LaFollette, DuNah Vineyard
  • Lauterbach Cellars, Estate
  • Longboard, Dakine Vineyard
  • Martinelli Winery, Lolita Ranch
  • Matrix Winery, Nunes Vineyard
  • Merriam, Willowside Vineyard
  • Merry Edwards, Klopp Ranch
  • Moshin Vineyards, Bacigalupi Vineyard
  • Mueller Winery, Vino Farms
  • Nalle Winery, Hopkins Ranch
  • Old World Winery, Estate
  • Papapietro Perry, Leras Family Vineyard
  • Russian River Vineyards, Estate Vineyards
  • Sandole Wines, Oehlman Ranch
  • Siduri Wines, Ewald Vineyards
  • Sonoma Cutrer, Owsley
  • Thumbprint Cellars, Saralee’s Vineyard
  • William Selyem, Flax Vineyard

Since I am unable to attend this year, both because I’m not longer single (don’t tell me you didn’t read my Facebook today!) and because I am booked, I am giving away two tickets to this event.  Yes!  TWO TICKETS!  Tickets are $45 each so that’s some moola right there. Please leave a comment here on this post telling me what you like most about Single Vineyard Wines to be eligible to wine!  Er win.  Winners will be announced on Wednesday, May 25th Thursday May 26th FRIDAY MAY 27TH (yeah you have to be 21 to attend youngsters).

Tickets to this event are $45 (presale, $55 at the door), or $80 for a VIP session that starts at 5:30.   I think it will be a blast!  Go forth and buy tickets.  It’s only $45! And you do not need a date, and you do not need to be single, you just need to love wine!



Life interruptus: In Memorium of Krystal Pepper

Sometimes, life throws you a curve ball.  Sometimes, you don’t get what you deserve.  This is certainly the case of my fellow wine blogger and friend, Michelle Lentz (@michellelentz), who’s 21-year old sister Krystal died suddenly from an undetected heart problem in 2007.  The recent death of actress Natasha Richardson and Krystal’s sudden death bring a new perspective to living every day fully and with intention.


Michelle’s family has established a college scholarship fund to honor Krystal’s memory.  Their goal is to raise $25,000 in the next 3 years, for the purpose of awarding an annual scholarship to an elementary education major, particularly students from Krystal’s high school.

To that end, the 2nd Annual Krystal Pepper Memorial Scholarship Benefit Dinner tickets are now on sale!  There will be a Silent Auction, Chance Drawings, Dinner, Dancing and more.  Tickets are $30 per person in advance, $35 at the door, and include dinner & drinks. Click here to Purchase tickets online.

Additionally, the wine blogging community is getting together to create a gift basket for the Silent Auction.  If you would like to contribute an item or money, please contact David Honig (@dhonig2) for details.  You can also contribute directly to the scholarship HERE.  This is a 501c non-profit organization, administered by Thomas More College so you can get your tax receipts that way.

If you are healthy, have a job, and are happy, won’t you consider contributing to this great cause?