Category Archives: Life is Grand in Napa Valley!

All About Wine Country Napa Valley

Stags Leap District extraordinary Cabernet

House of Cab Stag's Leap District

Stags Leap District winemaking history goes back to mid-1880’s with the establishment of Occidental Winery off Silverado Trail. Today is home to Regusci Winery. The Phylloxera outbreak and Prohibition killed the booming wine industry in the region. By 1961 pioneer Nathan Fey planted the first Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards in the in Stags Leap District. From 70 acres jumped to over 34,000 acres planted to Cabernet Sauvignon in California today. In 1973 the Judgment of Paris exposed Stags Leap wines to stardom. In a blind tasting, nine renown French wine judges choose the 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon over well known French producers as Mouton-Rothschild and Haut Brion.

Vertical Blind Tasting
Stags Leap District Winegrowers  celebrated House of Cab Library Blind Tasting event at Jardinière Restaurant in San Francisco. What a treat to try Cabernet Sauvignon (1991 to 2010) in a blind side by side tasting, from this unique winemaking region. The tasting experience demonstrated the longevity and the sense of place of these exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon. These wines revealed a great balanced between acid, fruit, and tannins. Great fruit character, pleasant spiciness, wood nuances, velvety texture and a long finish.

From the blind library tasting some of my favorites are, 1992 Clos Du Val, 2007 Terlato Family Vineyards, 1995 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, 2005 Isley Vineyards, 2008 Baldacci Black Label and 2008 Quijote SLD.

Pictures by Edgar Solis Photo

Walk Around Tasting
At the walk around tasting, the participating wineries shared a variety of wines including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Petit Syrah.

A unique chance to talk to vintners and winemakers about how they grow and craft their wines. From Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Director of Vineyards Operations, Kirk Grace shared how they achieved green certification on their 142 acres of Estate vineyards by adhering to sustainable practices. “At Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars we put quality vs. quantity. Numbers are significant, but growing quality grapes and making exceptional wines is all about being in tune with the vines and down on the dirt”.

Kirk Grace, Director of Vineyards Operations For Stag's Leap Wine Cellars
Kirk Grace, Director of Vineyards Operations For Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars

Marcus Notaro, Winemaker for Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, shared his thoughts about the 2016 harvest. “Bud break was early in Napa Valley this year and a cold season. We didn’t achieve the normal high temperature in July and August, which allowed for a prolonged hang time of the fruit. Overall, high-quality grapes in our vineyards. The grapes ripened evenly with lower than normal yield, but tasty berries. An interesting fact for this harvest is that the grapes from the cooler areas like Coombsville ripened at the same rate than the warmer areas like St. Helena.”

Marcus Notaro, Winemaker for Stag's Leap Wine Cellars
Marcus Notaro, Winemaker for Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars

Michael Beaulac, Winemaker for Pine Ridge, shared the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon from Stags Leap District, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, and 2014 Carneros, Napa Chardonnay. All well balanced outstanding wines. Michael has 25 harvests under his belt, he joined Pine Ridge back in 2009, he came aboard with hi expectations of showcasing the 200 acres estate vineyards, 12 properties within five Napa Valley appellations. He enjoys creating wines that are unique to their terroir, as well as combining the various qualities of several vineyards into a harmonious blend.

Michael Beaulac, Winemaker for Pine Ridge Vineyards
Michael Beaulac, Winemaker for Pine Ridge Vineyards

Pictures By Edgar Solis Photo

Overall, The House of Cab Stags Leap District tasting event showed that top quality grapes treated with respect produced formidable wines for every taste. I share my experience with some favorite wines bellow.

  • 1992 Clos Du Val Stag’s Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon: Still going strong, with aromas of ripe red fruit, vanilla, allspice, leather and hints of rose petals. On the palate, feels luscious with an elegant texture and flavors or ripe dark berries, dark cherries, brown spices and touch of sweetness and green tea. Suggested retail price $70.

  • 2015 Stag’s Leap Winery Viognier: Bright acidity with ripe stone fruit, honeysuckle and kiwi. This Viognier finished clean with hints of passion fruit and guava. Suggested retail price $32.

  • 2011 Quixote Petite Syrah: This wine shows Star Anise, ripe plum, dark berries and coffee bean aromas. On the palate, this Petite Syrah feels full body with substantial but smooth tannins. Suggested retail price $80.

New Tasting Salon and Atelier by JCB

Photo, Julie Santiago

JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset opened it’s the new Tasting Salon and Atelier in the town of Yountville, the heart of Napa Valley, in February 2016. The new local is all about fabulous wines and a luxurious lifestyle. The adjoin Atelier by JCB is all about the most enticing high-end gourmet foods from around the world; all wrapped in extravagant and surrealist décor.

The Tasting Salon encompasses the unique JCB approach that unites exclusive Napa Valley and French wines, luxury, and style that evokes surrealism. The JCB collection of Napa Valley wines are featured in three distinctive flights: the Premium Collection, the JCB Touch Interactive tasting at the digital touch table, and The Surrealist flight. It includes a first-of-its-kind interactive wine tasting experience at a digital touch table created exclusively for the tasting salon by Ideum. It offers, as well, wines preserved and served from Napa Technology wines stations, an electronic wine serving station. It is a vibrant, luxurious and uniquely designed tasting room that reflects and embraces the art of living elegantly, with retail pieces curated by Proprietor Jean-Charles Boisset.

The JCB Tasting Salon features a retail boutique that showcases the finest luxury goods from around the world, including JCB’s custom-designed jewelry collection, candles, and perfumes. Also, includes a collection of luxury goods from Lalique (crystal), Baccarat (crystal), Christofle (silver), Bernardaud (porcelain), to name a few, and books from Taschen, Assouline, Rizzoli, Abrams and Chronicle Books.

Inside the JCB Tasting Salon, you will also find the “Surrealist Boutique,” featuring Jean-Charles’s personally designed jewelry and Surrealist wines. The Surrealist Boutique includes an intimate tasting experience, inspired by the jewelry-adorned Surrealist wine, in a private lounge where wine tasting occurs atop a glass bar that showcases the JCB collection of jewelry. The Surrealist wine and the vessel in which the elixir is held is a piece of art and the inspiration for the Surrealist Boutique at the JCB Tasting Salon.

Boisset also launched into the world of gastronomy with the unveiling of Atelier by JCB, a gourmet “epicerie,” adjoining the JCB Tasting Salon, where offers a curated assortment of gourmet delicacies sourced locally from Napa and Sonoma alongside the best international producers from France, Italy, Spain and more. It offers salts, peppers and spices, mustards, honey, olive oil and vinegar from Boisset’s winery estates, smoked salmon, caviar, anchovies, truffles, Foie gras, terrines, charcuterie, more than 120 cheeses, chocolate, specialty teas and coffees. The Atelier by JCB is heaven for the Epicurious in all of us! Who can resist splurge and bring home some Pata Negra Iberico Chorizo, truffle honey, Pinot Noir Mustard, Foie gras, caviar, or a fabulous cheese like Taleggio, Mt. Tam, Tome de Savoie or Rabiola Lombardia? The Atelier even offers the signature Poilâne bread loaf from the famous Poilâne Bakery, flown from Paris every Thursday!

The location of the Tasting Salon and Atelier by JCB couldn’t be more fitting. In the heart of Napa Valley, the Town of Yountville is home to some of the best restaurant and hotels in California Wine Country, and the perfect backdrop to showcase JCB wine collection, specialty products, and luxury goods.

The JCB Tasting Salon and Atelier by JCB are open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at 6505 Washington St, Yountville, CA. For more information regarding wines, reservations and membership opportunities visit their website.



Grgich Hills Estate Winery Story

Premiere Napa Valley 2016 E-Auction lots

Edgar Solís Photo

Premiere Napa Valley (PNV) is the must-attend trade event of the year! Since 1997, retailers, restaurateurs, hoteliers, club managers and wholesalers representing the breadth of wine professionals gather in America’s leading wine region in mid-February for what has become widely known as “the best week of the Napa Valley wine business.” The region’s top winemakers offer ultra-boutique wines to the trade, crafted in as few as 60 and never more than 240 bottles, exclusively for the PNV brand.

Each PNV wine is created only once. At the auction, 225 different wineries offer futures only to the wine trade—individual restaurateurs and wine retailers—so they have the unique, and some of the best wines made from America’s leading appellation. Each wine is a “one-of-a-kind,” and will not be found in the market except by the wine sellers who secure unique wines via the annual trade auction. The winemakers take an out-of-the-box approach, often using varieties they may not bottle as a stand-alone. These wines are innovative and showcase the region’s sense of exploration in fine winemaking.

On January 15th, 2016, the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) nonprofit wine trade association announced that as part of this year’s annual PNV, the NVV is introducing the sale of twenty-five PNV lots exclusively online. The other 200 lots will go on the auction block at the sold-out event, taking place at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone on February 20. Bidding for the new E-Premiere Napa Valley Online Auction opens Friday, February 19 at 8 a.m. PST to pre-registered licensees anywhere in the world. Look for E-Auction wines from Beaulieu Vineyard, Ca’ Momi, Domaine Chandon, Sterling Vineyards, Chateau Boswell Winery, Sequoia Grove Winery, Corison Winery, Elizabeth Spencer, among others. To preview description of all 225 lots offer at the auction this year visit PNV’s website.

Hundreds of top wine traders will gather in Napa Valley for tastings, social gatherings and networking events as Napa Valley vintners roll out the red carpet to greet their best customers at the main event at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. The funds raised support the association’s work to promote, protect and enhance the Napa Valley appellation. This year the anticipation builds as the Online Auction will allow other trade members around the world to have access to some PNV lots.

During this time of the year, the Valley exudes high festive energy. Wineries and wine organizations like Atlas Peak, Appellation St. Helena, Spring Mountain District, Oak Knoll Vintners, Oakville Winegrowers Association, Stags Leap District Winegrowers, Rutherford Dust Society, Coombsville Vintners and Growers will join efforts to showcase the best of Napa Valley with tastings open to the wine trade during the days preceding the main auction event. Also, not to forget special engagement gatherings like Napa Gras! at Raymond Vineyards. A unique opportunity to taste hundreds of Napa Valley wines. The professional networking peer to peer and amongst the vintners is often compared to a homecoming for Napa Valley’s finest ambassadors.

Complement the tasting with professional development seminars, a unique Vintage Perspective Tasting and countless intimate at-winery open houses and educational tastings and you’ve got all the right ingredients for a fantastic time in the Napa Valley, just for members of the wine trade.

For members of the trade not able to attend the PNV auction event, electronic bidding will be open to pre-registered licensees anywhere in the world from Friday, February 19 at 8:00 a.m. PST through Saturday, February 20 at 6:00 p.m. PST. For more information about how members of the wine trade can register for the E-Premiere Napa Valley Online Auction, visit NVV website.

The NVV nonprofit trade association has been cultivating excellence since 1944 by inspiring its more than 525 members to create consistently wines of the highest quality, to provide environmental leadership and to care for the extraordinary place they call home.

Variety’s 10 to Taste at NVFF 2015

Variety’s 10 to Taste, fascinating wine and food event,NapaNapa following the opening of the Fifth Annual NVFF (Napa Valley Film Festival), with the showing of SOMM: Into the bottle, the sequel of Somm this past Wednesday, November 11. On November 12 we had the opportunity to taste trough ten distinctive bites of flavor. Original interpretations of food inspired by film scenes in iconic films such as The Godfather, Julie & Julia, Pulp Fiction and Ratatouille.

Under a tent, at the Riverfront Promenade at Napa River Inn, guests strolled trying flavorful bites from local chefs along extraordinary Napa Valley wine selections that included BeringerEtude and Brut Champagne from Pipper Heidsieck. Under a chilling, beautiful morning at Downtown, Napa guests enjoyed a variety of flavors, original interpretation from the participating chefs.

At station #9, Chef Evan Dodge surprised us with his spin of a cheeseburger tartare inspired on the Royale with cheese scene (John Travolta and Samuel A. Jackson) from the movie Pulp Fiction. A very small bite, but full of flavor. A crispy cheese nest with beef tartare, mushrooms, rock salt and crunchy seeds. We enjoyed this culinary creation with The Beringer 2012 Quantum Red Blend.

At station #7, Chef Tim Brown delighted us with his spin on the Cuban sandwich, inspired by the movie Chef. A flavorful Cuban croquette, roasted pork shoulder, black forest ham, aged Gruyere and beer mustard. A savory sample of classic Cuban cuisine with an original touch. Love pork and Pinot, pleasant on the palate paired with Etude Pinot Noir, Grace Benoist Ranch Carneros. Match made in heaven!

At station #10, Chef Heather loved inspired by the movie Ratatouille offered us her twist of Five spice pork, with Asian Ratatouille in a Macadamia nut cup. A luscious combination of flavors that paired well with the 2013 Beringer Luminus, Oak Knoll District Chardonnay. This well balanced Chardonnay was also enjoyable with the pan-seared scallop in Saffron Bisque inspired by the movie, Mostly Martha. An exquisite culinary creation by Chef Anwar Herron on station #8.

At station #4, Chef Elizabeth Binder spiced up with her Peri-Peri prawns with apricot chutney & cilantro yogurt, inspired by the movie Burnt. The Pipper Heidsieck Champagne wast the perfect match for this dish, cutting the spiciness down a bit.

After enjoying the exquisite chef interpretations from the ten movies, we had the opportunity to listen to a distinguished panel that discussed current culinary trends, opportunities and challenges in the industry today. Panelists included Chef Bobby Flay, Emmy Award-winning television personality, and NYT Bestselling author; Emilie de Ravin. Lee Schrager, Vice President Corporate Communications & Events, Southern Wine & Spirits, and founder of South Beach and NYC’s Wine & Food Festivals; Kevin Pang, Chicago Tribune food writer, and director of For Grace. Variety’s Steve Chagollan moderated the panel.

Chef Bobby Flay shared some food industry thoughts with us. When asked: What do you think the next food trend is going to be? Chef Flay,”The United States food scene has been behind on food trends for so long, but we are finally catching up. You never know what the next food trend is going to be, On my newest restaurant Gato our top seller entrée is a vegetarian dish as well as or four top seller appetizers. When asked, What is your perfect burger? Chef Flay said, “For me the perfect burger should be 80% meat and 20% fat, cooked on a sizzling griddle or pan. It should be very crispy on the outside and medium-rare in the center. It needs to have two pieces of cheese completely melted on top.”

The panel agreed on how social media dramatically changed the decision making in which restaurant to visit. Nowadays everyone is a wine critic and voice its opinion on platforms like Yelp, Open Table, Trip Advisor, Facebook, and others. Restaurants need to pay attention to the details and be sure that guests have the optimal dining experience.

Wine tasting with Pepe Galante

Señor Pepe Galante
Señor Pepe Galante, Courtesy of Bodegas Salentein

A fun learning experience, to share some wonderful wines and delightful food with Señor Pepe Galante from Bodegas Salentein. A privilege to have such an intimate experience with a humble man that is considered the father of winemaking in Argentina. We had the opportunity to chat over dinner with Pepe and Matías Bauza, Senior Brand & PR Manager for Bodegas Salentein. We met at Torc Restaurant in downtown Napa after their three-day visit to San Francisco and Napa.

Pepe is celebrating his fortieth year making wine in Argentina. Before joining Bodegas Salentein as Leading Winemaker in 2010, Galante was in charge of winemaking for Catena Zapata Group for over 30 years while working close with various international wine consultants. Pepe’s wine origins have roots in Mendoza “Both my father and grandfather grew grapes and made wine. I remember sharing conversations and sipping wine with both of them and enjoying my grandma’s cooking over Sunday dinner from early age.”

Pepe educated us about the origins of winemaking in Argentina. The first widely grown grapes were the “Uva Criolla”, Mission Grape and Italian Varietals. Later on The Malbec grape from France came trough Chile, becoming the iconic grape from Argentina. Pepe shared with us, “I made my first wine at 24 years old, I attended the Enology School at the Universidad Juan Agustin Maza (UJAM). Here I had the fortune to meet a great professor, Francisco Oreglia.”

Professor Oreglia was a great mentor for Pepe and many others in Argentina wine country. Oreglia is the author of the first books to focus specifically on winemaking in Argentina. Pepe said: “Professor Francisco Oreglia was the inspiration for many young winemakers in Argentina. He produced the first manual of Argentinian enology in the 1970s and is still in use today. “Pepe considers him an innovator that introduced the new techniques in wine making to Argentina.

“Before the 1990s, no one in Argentina was investing in new oak barrels, wineries kept using 40 years old barrels over and over, resulting in poor quality wines with limited longevity and maderized and oxidized flavors. 90% of the wines In Argentina were consumed locally with no much interest in exportation. In the early 1990s, the wine industry in Argentina adopted new grape growing and wine making techniques. Thanks to the new drip irrigation techniques from Israel now vines were growing in areas impossible before.” Pepe shared with us. After modernization, Argentinas wine industry caught the attention of European markets. French and Dutch companies took notice on the great potential for quality Argentinian wines and invested  in the rapidly growing wine industry.

Pepe Galante learned from the new studies on barrel aging that compared French vs. American oak and barrel charring techniques; conducted by pioneer  Robert Mondavi . “Today is hard to differentiate between quality American and French oak, French is rich in tannins and impart silky texture to the wine. American oak gives more of the light coconut, and caramel aromas and flavors, contrary to French oak you can cut the staves with the help of a mechanic saw .”

At Bodegas Salentein Pepe Galante keeps with his Philosophy, “You can make the wine on the vine, you can imagine the wine by tasting the grapes as you go. You need to allow the fruit to shine; the oak is a gentle compliment to the wine without overpowering the fruit. I like the Burgundian Cooperages and use the same barrel toast in my Malbec that is as delicate fruit as Pinot Noir.” Since Pepe allowed for a longer aging in the barrel, the toast can’t be too intense. He gets pleasant acidity, great structure, and complex character. “The micro-oxygenation gets the maximum fruit expression.”

Bodegas Salentein located in Valle del Uco, part of the world known Mendoza region. The Property consists of 5,000 acres with 1,700 acres planted to vines, divided into three different estates. The estates “fincas” range in elevations from 3,445 to 5,577 feet. These vineyards grow at a range of elevations among the highest in the world. They benefit from pristine water, snowcaps run-off, which translates to lower pH grapes, higher acidity, high pigment in the wine and longevity. The region’s thermal variation from day to night is 29 degrees F. The Estate encompassed five different microclimates that allow for the cultivation of Malbec, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot.

While enjoying Pepe and Matías conversation we tried four Salentein wine selections with the exquisite dishes from Torc restaurant.

  • 2014 Killka Collection Torrontes: Intense floral aroma with Meyer lemon, ripe pear.  Pleasant acidity, and very refreshing palate of tangerine, pear and hints of minerality. Suggested retail price, $15.
  • 2012 Salentein Single Vineyard Plot No.2 Chardonnay: Well structured Chardonnay, it goes trough malolactic fermentation. Aromas of Brioche, Crème fraîche, green apples and citric. On the palate, it feels very creamy with flavors of ripe pear, caramel and lemon tart with hints of oak. Suggested retail price, $50.
  • 2013 Kilka Collection Malbec: Aromas of ripe dark berries, black cherries, and violets. On the palate, this wine feels balanced between fruit, wood, and acidity. Pleasant tannins with flavors of ripe plums, figs and dark blackberries and hints of cola. Easy to drink and food friendly Malbec. Suggested retail price, $15.
  • 2012 Salentein Single Vineyard Plot no.21 Malbec: Well crafted 100% Malbec with deep aromas of dark currants, blackberry, vanilla and hints of cedar and coffee bean. On the palate, it feels velvety and smooth with flavors of rich dark fruit, cinnamon and ripe figs with notes of dark chocolate and fresh ground black pepper. Delicious dark fruit flavor lingers on the finish. Suggested retail price, $55.

From Torc’s Chef, we started with Ed George’s tomato salad, burrata cheese, basil, melba toast, tomato vinaigrette. Peekytoe crab cocktail, horseradish pannacotta, spicy tomato syrup, Meyer lemon and Hudson Ranch fig salad, panache, osborne prolific, black mission, sylvetta, pecorino Toscano. The 2014 Kilka Torrontes paired well with the tomato burrata and fig salad. The 2012 Chardonnay was delicious with the crab cocktail.

We followed with wild herb ravioli, chanterelle mushroom, curry leaves, brown butter, pecorino Toscano, and house made strozzapreti, blue beauty tomato, piccolo fino basil, fresh summer truffle. We enjoyed these dishes equally great with the 2012 Chardonnay and the 2013 Kilka Collection Malbec.

For entree we savored, Alaskan halibut, saffron potato, doux des landes pepper, verbena, piperade sauce. Heritage porchetta, squash blossom, huitlacoche corn ragoût, pearl drop onion and Schmitz Ranch beef short rib, white grits, summer beans, fennel-tomato relish Silverado strawberries. The Halibut was the perfect dish for the 2012 Chardonnay while the porchetta and the short rib were delightful with the 2012 Salentein Malbec.

The wines of Salentein are imported to the U.S. by Palm Bay International,

Impressive wines at Stony Hill Vineyard

Delightful wine tasting experience at Stony Hill Vineyard. Turning at the road that takes you to the Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park, located in Napa Valley between St. Helena and Calistoga you can tell is going to be a unique wine tasting experience. There is room just for one vehicle at a time as you drive up the road to Spring Mountain. As you get to the beautiful mid-century modern home, you think you are visiting a friend. Mrs. Willinda McCrea greeted us at the front door with a great smile and friendly demeanor. As she walked us trough the beautiful open spaced home to the backyard, she made us feel that like having a great time with our favorite aunt.

What an amazing Napa Valley view of the Vaca Mountains Range! Willinda walked us from the backyard trough their vineyards and into their historic production facility, old but full of character building. The small wood building housed a couple of stainless steel fermenters and many neutral oak barrels, great smell. Mrs. McCrea shared some of the history on the property. “In 1943, my in-laws, San Francisco advertising executive Fred McCrea and his wife Eleanor bought 160 acres of homestead land on the west slope of the Napa Valley north of St. Helena. They began planting Chardonnay grapes in 1947 followed shortly by plantings of Pinot Blanc, White Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Semillon. Their first harvest was in 1952, and they sold their first Chardonnay in 1954. We inherited Stony Hill in 1991 when Eleanor died and continued to run the business today.” The property has 40 acres under vine. Stony Hill has an average production of 3,100 cases of wine a year.

As Mrs. McCrea said, “Winemaking today at Stony Hill continues the philosophy that Fred and Eleanor McCrea established when they crushed their first grapes in 1952. We believe, as they did that the character of the wine is determined primarily by the unique qualities of our hillside grown grapes. Our goal is to translate the grapes’ intense fruitiness into elegant and age-worthy wines.” Mike Chelini is the Winemaker at Stony Hill. He arrived as vineyard foreman in 1972, later on became the assistant winemaker, assuming full winemaking responsibilities when Fred McCrea died in 1977. Since then Mike has been in charge of both, vineyard and winery operations. With the help of six full-time employees, Mike put emphasis on taking great care of the vines.

Back at their backyard, Willinda shared with us their current Estate wines.

  • 2012 Stony Hill Chardonnay: Aromas of green apple, ripe pears, honeysuckle and hints of apple pie. On the palate plenty of yellow fruit, hints of citric and mineral notes. This Chardonnay has expressive fruit, gentle acidity and a slight hint of oak. A wonderful wine to have with many food preparations, including white fish, shellfish, chicken over pasta with a white sauce, pork loin with a mushroom sauce and grilled lobster. Suggested retail price $45.
  • 2013 Stony Hill Gewürztraminer: Subtle white floral aromas upfront, followed by ripe peach, pears, Granny apple and herbal notes. On the palate, fresh squeezed citrus, quince and hints of mineral and pineapple. Pleasant acidity plus low alcohol (12%) and sharp dry finish. Great with fish, salads, poultry and your holiday fixings. Suggested retail price $27.
  • 2013 Stony Hill White Riesling: Jasmine, tangerine and white peach aromas. On the palate, this crisp white wine shows key lime pie, tangerine and stone fruit with hints of mineral and sage. Great wine to have with your favorite salad, butternut squash soup or spicy Asian food. Suggested retail price $30.
  • 2014 Rosenda de la Sombra: Rosé from Cabernet Sauvignon: Light raspberry perfume with hints of pomegranate and rose petal. Flavors of cranberry, underripe peach and mineral notes. Crisp acidity and silky and dry finish. Suggested retail price $25.
  • 2011 Stony Hill Cabernet Sauvignon: A very gentle 100% Napa Valley Cabernet with elegant aromas of ripe cherry, plums, fresh figs and sweet vanilla. On the palate, gentle tannins and pleasant acidity with flavors of ripe dark berries, plum and hints of earth and oak. Great Cabernet Sauvignon to sip with friends or enjoy with raw beef preparations, bison prime rib or a medley of roasted vegetables. Suggested retail price $60.

Wine tasting at Stony Hill Vineyards is conducted by appointment only. Make an appointment at Stony Hill, a great experience that you will always remember.


Silver Trident Winery innovative wine tasting

Silver Trident Winery innovative wine tasting just opened in Napa Valley. The Silver Trident Winery opened its new residential-style Tasting Home, nestled in the town of Yountville. The town is the culinary mecca of Napa Valley, a great place to shop, and it is host to a variety of exciting events throughout the year and backdrop for Silver Trident’s tasting concept.

The Mediterranean-style Tasting Home is tastefully furnished and curated with Ralph Lauren Home products. Guests will be able to enjoy Silver Trident wines as they browse through the Home. The Tasting Home consists of a living room, dining room and a library showcasing the furniture, floor coverings, lighting and tabletop accents from the Ralph Lauren Home collection. Everything is available for purchase, from the chandeliers overhead to the carpets underfoot, from teak, silver and leather serving trays to crystal wine goblets, as well as the wines.

Silver Trident is a Napa Valley boutique winery producing only 1,800 cases per year. The Winery is the conception of Bob Binder and Walter Jost. Bob Binder is the co-founder of Oceania Cruises, a luxury cruise line that has partnered on projects with The Wine Spectator, Lalique, Bon Appétit Magazine and Ralph Lauren Home. The Culinary Director for Oceania Cruises is Jacques Pépin; as such, the line is regarded as serving the finest cuisine at sea. Walter Jost, the winery’s co-founder is Swiss-born an accomplished advertising and media executive. Bob and Walter ambitioned creating a small winery, hand-picked grapes and people with a passion for every step of the process, from the vine to the glass. The winery’s name is a nod to Neptune, who his three-pronged spears to create earthquakes, tidal waves, and oceans.

Alongside the wide range of Ralph Lauren Home products is a thoughtfully curated collection of antiques, books and artwork sourced from around the world. The artwork will rotate, and next art exhibition will be paintings from renowned French Chef Jacques Pepin. The new exhibit of his paintings will open in June and will run through October 2015.

There is also an intimate and inviting upstairs loft room available for private events by appointment, with capacity for 20 guests.

“We are offering the wine country visitor something that’s truly never been done before,” explains founder Bob Binder. “By combining the allure of Ralph Lauren Home and our line of hand-crafted small production wines, we feel we have created an unprecedented new experience,” he adds. “We have curated a remarkable residential setting where our guests can enjoy our wines while enjoying the magic of a Ralph Lauren Home setting and everything is available to take home,” he adds.

Winemaker Kari Auringer hands-on approach, from vineyard sourcing to a myriad winemaking details, results in the production of elegant long lasting wines where the fruit is the star. She spent the last decade, creating ultra-premium wines from some of the best vineyards in Napa Valley and Sonoma County and brings that expertise to Silver Trident to create one-of-a-kind small production wines.

Current Winery releases include:

  • 2014 Apollo’s Folly – A Rosé of Pinot Noir with delicate floral notes followed by an explosion of juicy ripe strawberry, apricot, and raspberry aromas burst out of the glass. In the palette, it has great acidity with a touch of minerality. (Sonoma Coast, $28)
  •  2014 Symphony No. 9 – A Sauvignon Blanc with crisp citrus and tropical fruit aromas. In the palette, it is refreshing with a citrus burst and a hint of minerality. (Napa Valley, $28)
  • 2012 Playing With Fire – A deep garnet blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Syrah with black fruit, licorice and earthiness aromas. In the palette, you will find black fruit and plums with a round velvety finish. (Napa Valley Red, $45)
  • 2013 Benevolent Dictator – An elegant Pinot Noir with aromas of cherries, baking spices, and slight notes of oak and vanilla. In the palette, it is vibrant with dark fruit, licorice and lasting finish. (Sonoma Coast, $55)
  • 2010 Twenty Seven Fathoms – A well craftedt Cabernet Sauvignon with alluring aromas of black currant, cranberry, red plum and earthiness. In the palette, there is an abundance of black fruit, elegant oak and well-integrated tannins. (Napa Valley, $90)

Photos by Edgar Solis

Napa Valley Harvest 2015 early start

Photo by Edgar Solis

Napa Valley Harvest 2015 started early July 22, eight days early than the 2014 harvest.  Mumm Napa won this year’s race by picking four acres of Pinot Noir from the Game Farm Vineyard in Silverado Trail.“Game Farm Vineyard serves as the litmus test for the Napa harvest” related Vineyard Manager Doug Springer.

The vineyard usually delivers the first crops of the Valley. The 36 acres Vineyard is located west of Silverado Trail below the Rector Creek’s Dam. Topsoil from the vineyard area was used to create the dam, stripping off the Valley floor and leaving behind rocky soils and cobblestones. The 20-year old vineyard creates a struggling environment that forces the vines to direct its energy to the fruit. Heat and light reflected by the white stones on the ground increase the grape ripening speed, helping the crops to develop early every year. Traditionally Sparkling houses pick early seeking lower sugar levels and higher acidity. There is no surprise why this vineyard delivers the perfect grapes Mum Napa seeks for the premium quality Sparkling wines at an earlier time.

To celebrate the beginning of the 2015 harvest Mumm Napa Winemaker, Ludovic Dervin, and employees with the sabering of Sparkling, toasting to the grapes and a large group, pops corks of well-shaken bubbly.

Talking to the crowd, he explained, that, in general, this growing season has been different from 2011, 2013 and 2014 seasons. This season had unusual canopy growth, smaller berries, variability in the crop and unevenness on the crop ripeness. He calls it a diamond in the rough, “We had to do a lot of carving and polishing this year to extract the beautiful quality from the 2015 harvest”.

He indicated that Pinot Noir’s crop from Game Farm Vineyard this year yielded 12.1 tons, while the same Vineyard yielded 16 tons of grapes in 2014. He added, “Prediction is coming to fruition; we are having a lighter Pinot Noir crop, but what we are not getting in quantity, we are getting on quality.”


Barrel Auction Napa Valley 2015


Great wine tasting experience at Barrel Auction Napa Valley 2015. Hall Wines Winery in St. Helena was the backdrop for an amazing wine and food tasting event this year. Great meet and greet with media around 10:00 a.m. at the historic Bergfeld winery building. Delicious breakfast paired with Robert Mondavi Rosé and bubbly from Domaine Chandon. Owners of Hall Winery Craig and Kathryn Hall welcomed press members along with Honorary chairs from the Opus One Winery, lead by Vintner David Pearson and Winemaker Michael Silacci.

Hall Wines offered a great experienced at their amazing property in St. Helena. A mix of historic winery architecture (Bergfeld Winery Building) and their modern state of the art Gold LEED Certified production facility. Visitors have the opportunity to stroll around buildings and huge tents full of quality Napa Valley wines and the best expression of local cuisine. The Napa Valley Vintners members offered a great selection of local wines to taste including the exclusive selections just produced for The Napa Valley Vintners wine auction.

Among the great wine selections to taste: Schramsberg classic California sparkling wine and J. Davis beautiful Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. At the barrel auction tasting, stellar Cabernet Sauvignon selections from Chateau Boswell, Cliff Lede, Ehlers Estate, Baldacci, Frank Family, Trinitas, Melka Wines, Shafer, Beaulieu Vineyard, Paradox, Pine Ridge, Truchard Vineyard, Robert Mondavi, Amici Cellars, Round Pond, Alpha Omega, Amizetta Winery, Darioush and Far Niente. A beautiful 100% Merlot from Coho and great 100% Pinot Noirs from Acacia, Artesa and Saintsbury, beautiful Carneros fruit. Trinchero offered an outstanding Malbec and William Hill an unfiltered well crafted Chardonnay. This year we missed the noise from the manual barrel auction bids, they gave away to digital big screens. All for technology these days, that is the way of the future.

Along with the great wine selections, local restaurants displayed and amazing collection of flavors. Mustards Grill pork ribs, Bouchon duck delight. Among many of the local restaurants great food creations from Torc, Tre Vigne Restaurant, Auberge du Soleil, Rutherford Grill and Brix. Also Morimoto, Angele, Eiko’s, Goose & Gander, Cordeiro’s Bar & Grill among others.

The Opus One team was the Honorary Chair this year. Unfortunately there was no Opus One wine to try at The Barrel Auction tasting event. We did not find any barrel auction lot to taste from Opus One either. Opus did contribute with several lots for Auction Napa Valley. But no worries, Napa Valley Vintners offered well crafted delicious wines from many family owned and ran wineries. We did try many outstanding selections of Napa Valley wines, SALUD!