Zinfandel Experience 2015 kicked off with the Media and Trade Tasting

Today, Zinfandel Experience 2015 started off with and informative seminar featuring a distinguished panel moderated by Randy Caparoso. Following the seminar, ZAP delighted us with a Grand tasting featuring many of the Zinfandel producers at Rock Wall Wine Company hangar barrel room in Alameda, CA. A unique opportunity to taste different incarnations of America’s Heritage grape. If you are near The San Francisco Bay area, there is still tickets available for Zinfandel Experience 2015.

Photos by Julie Santiago

Napa Valley wine train for dinner tonight

Photos by Edgar Solís

Fantastic hospitality, delicious food and excellent wines on a beautiful restaurant on wheels. It is a unique experience to have in wine country a delightful dinner with a constantly changing view. A welcoming glass of wine awaits you either at the lounge or dining car if you are in the first seating. A nice choice between the Chardonnay or Merlot proprietary Napa Wine train wines produced exclusively by Raymond Vineyards. A delicious meal that started with a surprising appetizer, choice of salad or soup, entree and a scrumptious dessert. To enjoy with this feast, a bottle of Ceja Vineyards 2010 Carneros Pinot Noir and them you are close to heaven.

Napa Valley Vintners announced the creation of a disaster Relief Fund


Photo, Julie Santiago

In the spirit of neighbors helping neighbors, the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) Association today announced the lead donation of $10 Million to create a Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund to fulfill the immediate needs of local residents and local businesses impacted by the disaster.

Hundreds of homes and businesses in the local community were damaged by the recent magnitude 6.0 earthquake, especially in the heart of the City of Napa, south of the city, including American Canyon and surrounding neighborhoods.

The Fund will provide resources and assistance to support the community as it rebuilds. The goal of the Fund is to:

  •  Provide immediate financial support for the local community,
  • Quickly get resources into the hands of the local families and businesses most in need.
  • Provide a repository for earthquake-related donations, and
  •  Augment government relief efforts that are still uncertain.

For Napa County residents, funding will be available for one-time immediate needs as well as short-term assistance for things like temporary housing; basic needs (food, water, etc.); medical care and counseling. Also, will help with repairs for immediate safety concerns like replacement windows, debris removal or fallen chimneys.

For local businesses, the Fund will provide assistance to help them get them up and running; allowing employees to return to work and local commerce to continue. Area nonprofits can use funds to help them to restore operations and can also apply for general support grants to serve earthquake victims.

Money to establish the Fund will come from the proceeds of their annual Auction Napa Valley charity event. This year, their annual event was the winning combination of renowned Napa Valley wine, talented chefs and stunning scenery that inspired bidders from across the country and around the world, and helped collect $18.4 million for healthcare and children’s education nonprofits. Auction Napa Valley, is considered the American Wine Classic, as the world’s most celebrated charity wine event.

To learn more about the Fund and how you can donate visit the NVV website:


NSMAVA to celebrate its fourth Harvest Festival


The Napa Sonoma Sonoma Mexican-American Vintner Association (NSMAVA) will celebrate its fourth Annual Harvest Festival on August 16, 2014 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Renteria Wines, Brown Ranch Vineyard Napa, CA. This is a rare opportunity to taste wines from Mexican-American Vintners all in on place.

Since 2010, Mexican-American vintners from Napa and Sonoma joint efforts to promote their wines to consumers in the United States and abroad, and to highlight the contributions to the wine industry made by the farm workers from which most of the vintners have come. The organization serves not only as a marketing tool, but it is also a source of motivation and support for future generations of aspiring Mexican-American winemakers and winery professionals.

NSMAVA offers  four scholarships in the amount of $1000 each to deserving Napa and Sonoma County students, accepted to Napa Valley Junior College or Santa Rosa Junior College. The association is proud to consider themselves part of future generations’ success. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Community Health Clinic Ole as well.

Renteria Wines will host the event at the beautiful Brown Ranch Vineyards in 4254 Old Sonoma Road, Carneros. NSMAVA will celebrate its fourth Annual Harvest Festival with wines from Alex Sotelo CellarsCeja VineyardsDelgadillo Cellars, Encanto Vineyards LLCHonrama CellarsJusticia Wines LLC, Maldonado Family Vineyards, Mario Bazán Cellars, Marita’s Vineyard, Mi Sueño Winery, Rentería Wines, Robledo Family Winery, and Volcán Cellars.

Treat yourself to wonderful wine, fabulous food pairings from Chef Richard Haake and Winery Chefs, live music from Trio Soleá and silent auction lots filled with limited production wines and winery experiences from participating wineries. Proceeds benefit the Mexican-American Vintners Association scholarship fund.

To purchase advance tickets visit NSMAVA website.

New wine and food experience at Robert Mondavi Winery

Pic Tokalon Gdn

As the wine tourism gets more competitive worldwide, Napa Valley is keeping on the forefront by adding more educational and hands on events to their repertoire. This past Tuesday June 10, 2014 Robert Mondavi Winery shared with a selected media group their dedication ceremony and dinner for the Piccolo To Kalon Garden. A great opportunity to introduce their new Garden To Table Experience.

Enjoy a tour of the winery and walk trough the garden where you will pick fresh in-season produce with the kitchen chefs. Chef Jeff Mosher will take you to the Mondavi Estate kitchen where you will help to prepare your own meal with the fresh ingredients you picked, a hands on cooking class. After the kitchen team helps finish the delicious dishes, you will sit outside on a country style long table with the beautiful To Kalon Vineyard as a backdrop. Enjoy your delightful 3-course meal paired with Mondavi signature wines.

While walking trough the garden enjoying a glass of the 2012 Napa Valley Fume Blanc Reserve it was great to talk to Napa Valley legend Margrit Mondavi “I remember how I started this garden over 40 years ago, with few herbs and flowers, I am so impressed with the beautiful work Chef Mosher and his kitchen team were able to accomplish in this marvelous garden,” Margrit added.

Time to enjoy dinner in this beautiful summer afternoon with the stunning To Kalon Garden in the back. Chef Mosher delighted us with an amuse bouche of olive oil sturgeon with parsley aioli. First course, Garden salad: beets, radishes, carrots, fennel, amaranth, lettuces, flowers, porcini soil, goat cheese fondue, red beet puree. Paired with 2012 Robert Mondavi Winery Napa Valley Fume Blanc Reserve. A pleasing wine and food experience, the bright acidity and wood hint on the Sauvignon Blanc accented the freshness and earthy flavors on the salad.

Entrèe: Seared Five Dot Ranch rib eye, summer squash, faro, green onions, shelling peas, shaved black truffles, basil pesto. Paired with 2010 Robert Mondavi Winery Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. An elegant wine and food pairing, the very present dark fruit flavors and more savory and earthy notes on the wine let the food flavors shined trough complementing each other nicely.

Dessert: Lemon verbena ice cream, lemon cake with mixed berries. Paired with 2012 Robert Mondavi Winery Moscato D’oro. Enticing citric aromas and flavors on the ice cream and lemon cake made this dessert an excellent pairing with the citric, peach and green apple flavors and orange blossom, ripe peach aromas plus slight effervescence in the wine. Playful combination of flavors, the low sugar on the dessert balanced out with the moderate sweetness and fresh citrus notes on the wine.

Just before dessert was served, Margrit Mondavi made a toast celebrating the dedication of the Piccolo To Kalon Garden. She mentioned that it was memorable for her to have a little piece of the To Kalon parcel devoted solely to the culinary arts since it was a vineyard that her late husband Robert loved so much. As we said cheers, Mrs. Mondavi added: “wine in moderation with glorious exceptions.”

After Dinner Chef Mosher gave us a tour of the garden and shared with us: “The garden contains a delicious selection of vegetables, herbs, assorted berries and fruit trees. We follow sustainable farming practices such as vermicomposting (worm farming) to produce our own worm tea natural fertilizer, honey bees, composting and other environmentally friendly protocols to ensure the health of the garden and enjoy the bounty of fresh ingredients.”

You can find information about the Robert Mondavi Winery wine and food experiences at Wine & Food Programs.

Pictures by Edgar Solis Photo

Amelia Morán Ceja – Ceja Vineyards

Photo by Edgar Solis

If you ever have the good fortune of meeting Amelia Morán-Ceja you will immediately sense her passion, charisma and spontaneity. Though small in stature, she is big in personality.

She is the President and Owner of the family owned Ceja Vineyards, nestled in the heart of Carneros, Napa. The family is well-known for being sustainable Napa and Sonoma wine grape growers, and highly regarded producers of premium wines.

Her contributions to the wine industry were recognized in 2005, when the California Legislature named her Women of the Year. She is unarguably the best promoter of pairing wine with Mexican food. As an avid chef, she is continuously coming up with delicious Mexican recipes that pair great with their wines, many of which can be found on Ceja Vineyard’s web Site and YouTube. Amelia is proud to say “From the beginning, we decided that we were going to make wine our way. Not wines for scores or credits. First article wrote about us was after year and half we started making wine. We paired wines with Mexican foods, and that changed the industry right away. Nobody had done that before.”

From humble origins, she started in the wine business picking grapes at the age of twelve, and through the years she has become, not just the President of the first Napa Valley Mexican-American Winery, but the first Mexican-American women leading a wine company.

Her passion for the wine industry and the Latino community has won Amelia many prestigious awards, for embracing her culture and her leadership in wine marketing practices. Today, Amelia is one of the most recognized faces in Wine Country.

Photos by: Edgar Solis Photo

All aboard Napa Valley wine train

Photo by: Edgar Solis Photo

Delicious food, great wines in a luxurious moving environment, that is what the Napa Valley Wine Train has been offering thousands of visitors for the last 24 years. Yuri Soshizak, International Marketing Representative for NVWT shared with us the history of the wine train while the train departed from the Napa station at the Oxbow district. We enjoyed a welcome glass of Napa Valley Wine Train own label white or red wine and served an appetizer of shrimp, sliced turkey, cheese, vegetables, toasted sliced bread and grapes.

Driving at an average speed of 15 miles we enjoyed the beautifully restored lounge car, dated 1917; we enjoyed our wine while nibbling in our appetizer as part of the second seating at the Gourmet Lunch Express Package. On our way back from St. Helena, we had lunch at the Gourmet dining car with a choice of salad or soup, a choice between five different entrée and a choice between two delightful desserts.

After resting in the lounge car, you are welcomed to explore the entire train without disturbing guests at the panoramic vista dome car. At the wine tasting car guests can enjoy a customized tasting, choosing wines from more than 30 boutique wineries. Take advantage of the wine train knowledgeable wine educators by asking them about all the wines they have to share and about the many places to visit in Napa Valley.

Other than the amazing gourmet lunch or dining on the train you can also select from different packages that include winery tours and tastings to provide the full Napa Valley experience; schedules and prices vary per tour.

The wine train also offers several holiday and special engagement trips: Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, Santa Train, Moonlight Escapade Dinners, Murder Mystery Dinners, Vintner’s Lunches and Big Gay Train. You can see the full schedule for 2014 at Events.

Photos by EdgarSolís Photo 



The Spring Sommelier Sake Challenge Photos

Sake comes to Napa, Spring pairing event at Kitchen Door Restaurant