A wine-full month!

Published on :

It’s January, and for me, that means a busy wine month.  First, Winter Wineland is next weekend – January 16-17.  At Winter Wineland, over 100 wineries in Russian River, Dry Creek, and Alexander Valley throw open their doors and show their best wines and nibbles. There are some wonderful themes at wineries, including my personal favorite, The Winter Wineland Olympics at Michel-Schlumberger.  I heard tell that there will be an Elvis sighting at Hanna as well!  Now, I normally avoid the wine country on event weekends, but with the list this year including some 5-10 new additions, this is a great opportunity to taste the wares of many wineries on a single weekend, where they show their best bottles.  Thickets are $40 online until 9pm TONIGHT January 11th, and are good for both days.  You can buy 1 or 2 day tickets at the door, but the price increases. That same weekend, Santa Cruz Mountain Wine Assocaition’s Password Weekend allows you the unusual opportunity to visit some of their terrific wineries, many of which are only open on special occasions.  I have enjoyed this event every tiem I’ve gone, and your $40 passport is good until you have every winery stamped.  The passport event is every January, April, July and November, so it’s actually a great way to see all of the Santa Cruz area wineries over the course of a year! Finally, at the end of the month, ZAP!  The Zinfandel Advocates and Producers week long tasting extravaganza hits the town in San Francisco.  nter is January 15th, and this year’s theme is Zinfandel in Paradise, and it promises to be a great event as always. The event weekend kicks off with Thursday, January 28th’s Good Eats & Zin, where noteworthy restaurants and award-winning wineries turn the art of food and wine pairing into an entertaining and approachable affair. Talented chefs present the ultimate combination of distinctive tastes, while winery proprietors offer delectable Zinfandels to match. Friday has two events, starting with Flights! A showcase of Zinfandel, where you can immerse yourself in the hitory and diversity of Zinfandel. Friday evening is Evening with the Winemakers which is your chance to hobnob with famous winemakers and wineaux alike at the intercontinental. The weekend culminates in Grand Tasting on Saturday, where you can taste over 200 zinfandels from around the state, as well as a few from lesser known regions. As luck would have it, my friends at Vintuba are giving away 2 pairs of tickets to the Grand Tasting for some lucky viewers.  You’ll hav eto meander over to their site to find out how to win, but let’s just say , some great words, and facebook are involved.  Deadline to enter is January 15th, so don’t miss out on this great contest! Just Grapes is also giving away 2 tickets to ZAP.  You have until January 23rd to tweet the following to be entered to win: I want to win 2 tickets to the ZAP Zinfandel Festival in San Francisco […]

A Passport to New Discoveries

Published on :

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!   Google

Monday blues…

Published on :

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 Domenico in San Carlos La Honda Winery in Redwood City Mountain Terrace Restaurant in Woodside, featuring: Kings Mountain Winery Michael Martella Wines and maybe a few farther south, but we’ll see… Google

July is for Wine-ing!

Published on :

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! Google