Sonoma County Wine Auction Raises Record-Breaking $6.1 Million for Local Charities

The Sonoma County Vintners Foundation are excited to announce $6.1 million was raised at the 2019 Sonoma County Wine Auction! Overall, more than $36 million has been raised to date to support charitable organizations focused on education, health and human services, the environment, and arts and culture in Sonoma County.

This charitable gathering was the culmination of a three-day affair that included an exclusive kickoff party on Thursday evening hosted with the Cline Family at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards and intimate Friday evening Vintner Dinners throughout Sonoma County and San Francisco.

Four hundred auction guests were welcomed to the grounds of La Crema Estate at Saralee’s Vineyard with sunny skies and exceptional Sonoma County wines. Local chefs, including James Beard award-winning Chef Honoree John Ash, prepared an array of decadent bites while guests mingled with non-profit beneficiary organizations.

The 40 auction lots included revered wine collections, luxurious travel excursions, meals prepared by world-class chefs, exclusive experiences with industry and community pillars such as Winemaker Honoree Merry Edwards, Chef Honoree John Ash, Steve Young and Ronnie Lott, as well as rare behind-the-scenes experiences with major sports teams and world-famous musicians Lady Antebellum and Brad Paisley.

“I’m truly inspired and grateful to our Honorary Chairs, our wine community and all the auction participants who have demonstrated phenomenal generosity and support for our Foundation,” said Michael Haney, Sonoma County Vintners Foundation Executive Director. “We are thrilled to help support the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma – Marin as well as our many other Sonoma County nonprofit organizations with the funds raised.”

Rhône Rendezvous! Thursday September 12 at Gravenstein Grill

Taste world class Sonoma County Rhône style wines, including Syrahs, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Viognier, Marssanne, Roussane & more at the annual Rhône Rendezvous at Gravenstein Grill, hosted by myself, Sommelier Chris Sawyer! These small production wines are a passion of local winemakers who are bringing styles of one of the most interesting French wine regions home to the Bay Area. Come meet the winemakers themselves and find out more about these incredibly unique wines.

Get your TICKETS!  Experience these wines!

ACORN Winery, Amapola Creek Winery, Benovia Winery, Cochon, CRUX Winery, Dane Cellars , Davis Family Vineyards, Donelan Family Wines, Enkidu Winery, Girl & The Fig, GlenLyon Winery, Jeff Cohn Cellars, Keller Estate, The Larsen Projekt, Lasseter Family Winery, Mengler Family Wines, Miner Family Winery, Muscardini Cellars, Odisea Wine Company, Onesta Wines , Scherrer Winery , Winery Sixteen 600, Trentadue Winery, Two Shepherds & more!

There will be live music, light hors d’oeuvres, and tastings with all wineries included with each ticket.  This event is out on our Grove patio from 5:30pm-7:30pm. Don’t miss this once a year event!

Thinking Pink: A summertime favorite!

If you don’t frequent The Somm Journal, you may have missed the truncated version of my article The Pink Tide: Sonoma County Rosé this June.  Enjoy the read, try some of them out before the temperature cools down! ~CS

Although he is well-known in the winemaking circuit for his ability to craft world-class offerings of Pinot Noirs, cool-climate Syrahs and other red and white varietals during his stints at Paul Hobbs and Kosta Brown wineries in Sonoma County and the eponymous Shane label he started in 2006, Shane Finley is also a true believe in dry pink wines.

For Finley, it’s a journey that began in 2002, when he fell in love with crisp, clean and stylish pink wines while working a year-long internship at Domaine Pierre Gaillard in Cote-Rotie. As an homage to the region, he made the first few vintages for his Shane label with Syrah and Grenache before switching to focus on Pinot Noir.

As the years have passed, Finley has gotten pickier about the sites and Pinot clones he worked with for his pink program. He’s also shifted towards using more stainless-steel and neutral barrels to capture fresher flavors and minerality instead of overshadowing them with oak in the cellar.

This attention to detail shows in the new release of the Shane 2018 Ma Fille Rosé. Made with fruit from the Sonoma Coast, the wine dazzles the senses with enchanting aromas and lively flavors of ripe red fruits, watermelon, citrus, and a hint of saltiness leading to a long, zesty finish.

But rest assured, Finley is definitely not the only one committed to making high-quality roses these days. This is especially true in Sonoma County, where a plethora of boutique producers are now working with a diverse selection of red grape varieties to create new styles of dry pink wines that invigorate the senses and provide a growing number of consumers freshness, bright acidity, and balance in every sip.

This is a sweeping change in comparison to the days when import brands like Mateus and Lancers, White Zinfandel and ubiquitous wines with the title “blush” led most consumers to think all pink wines were sweet. But change can be a good thing—especially over the past decade. Or, as Finley puts it: “It really is incredible when you think about the shift from no one wanting it to everyone making it has happened in a ten-year period.”

Another Sonoma County winemaker helping nurture this “rosé everyday” movement is Rick Davis of Calstar Cellars, who makes his Pinot Meunier with grapes from the Balletto Vineyard in Russian River Valley that were originally used to make sparkling wine.

In comparison to the Pinot Noir grapes he works with for his red wine program, Davis says Pinot Meunier is well-suited for making rosé because the thicker skin and higher levels of tannins allow him to produce and preserve the natural color, flavors, acidity and structure with less skin contact. The end result is a fresh, clean and vibrant wine that always comes out between 13.8 to 14.3 percent alcohol.

As a consulting winemaker at Halleck Vineyards, Davis made the Sebastopol-based winery’s debut release of an adventurous, bone-dry style of White Zinfandel with fruit sourced from the De La Montoya Vineyard on the border of the Russian River and Dry Creek Valley appellations in 2018. Once picked, Davis let the skins soak with the juice overnight before pressing it the next morning. By aging 30 percent in neutral barrels, he was able to create more distinct flavors, texture and a lovely light magenta hue without compromising quality.

Another important factor that makes the rise of dry pink wines more than a trend is how well they pair with fresh cuisine. Winemaker Bill Nachbaur of Acorn Winery took these thoughts to mind when he and his wife Betsy began crafting their Italian-style rosato with Sangiovese grapes grown at their Alegria Vineyard near Healdsburg in 2005.

To match the more diverse styles of cuisine now being offered at restaurants, seasonal meals and social gatherings, the style of the Acorn Rosato has shifted to a more classic field blend that is more representative of the estate as a whole. The most recent example is the 2018 vintage, which contains with 41% Sangiovese, 30% Zinfandel, 15% Syrah, 11% Dolcetto, 10% Cabernet Franc and 3% others varietals from the old vines planted in the 1880s.

“Our ultimate goal is to make a classy pink wine that is distinct, delicious and substantial enough to set it apart from your typical porch pounders and other sweet pink wines that are made for sipping in hot tubs,” says Nachbaur.

Mags for Ag comes to L.A. on August 1st!

After my ethereal Healdsburg unicorn adventure here is another chance to join in the festivities and raise some money with the L.A. crowd!  Mags for Ag at the Petersen Automotive Museum, this Thursday August 1st!

7PM RECEPTION:  Caviar, Wines, Canapés, Hibachi Grill, Cured Meats & Cheese

8PM DINNER:  Keynote Speaker, Multi-Course Feast, Magnums Poured Table-side

9PM SILENT AUCTION:  More Wine, Silent Auction & Dessert Reception with Chefs

Mags for Ag is an intimate culinary experience promising up-close engagements with more than a dozen star winemakers pouring magnums table side and chefs cooking to support an important conversation in agriculture to grow thousands of new farmers each year.  It kicks-off with winemaker reception followed by a keynote speaker, seated dinner and silent-auction filled with wine magnums and experiences to benefit charity.

TICKETS are $249 and include reception, dinner & silent auction +save 15% with the PROMOCODE -wineclub

Chefs and winemakers include Host Chef Sean Dent of Drago, Duskie Estes of Black Pig Meat Co., Joshua Whigham of Lapis and Anthony Sasso together with wine friends at Coursey Graves, Sangiacomo Family Vineyards, Small Vines, Lando Wines, Kreck Wines, Arcadian Winery, Davis Family Vineyards, Acorn Winery, Silver Oak Cellars, Rocca Family Vineyards and Phifer Pavitt.

NVWLA 57th Annual Grand Wine Tasting! Sunday, August 4th

Just a SHOUT OUT about this Napa Valley Wine Library Association 57th Annual Grand Wine Tasting on August 4th at The Silverado Resort & Spa.

There will be sixty to seventy-five Napa Valley wineries pouring wines which have been chosen for their expression of a certain style. This could be of appellation, terroir, vintage, variety, or blend. The choice is up to each winery.

Sign up & get your TICKETS!

Caribbean at Christmastime: Pinot in Paradise Wine Cruise!

Imagine this.  Seven days of luxurious ocean travel with three special ports to explore along the way; San Juan in Puerto Rico, Totola in the British Virgin Islands and Philipsburg at St. Maarten.  And wine!  Aboard ship, I will be hosting special Costco member-only tastings, pairings and more, focused on Pinot Noir wines.

Then, at each of these scenic Eastern Caribbean ports, enjoy soft white beaches, clear blue waters and deep green landscapes; Historic Puerto Rico, with its imposing forts and rhythmic salsa; Nearby St. Maarten, sample cheese on the Dutch side and wine on the French side.

Join my family and I for this exciting adventure!
Departing December 15 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida:
Returning December 22.

SEE TRAVEL INFORMATION HERE. . .

cruisepromo
Totola-wine-waves-2
Tortola-JostVanDykehike
old-san-juan-puerto-rico-8s

P.S. I Love You at CIA Napa on July 14th

Celebrate Bastille Day at this P.S. I Love You event, hosted at the CIA in Napa!  Last year I moderated the seminar and will be in attendance this year as well.  The panel event has SOLD OUT, but join in afterwards for a Tasting Reception featuring delicious bites paired with none other than Petite Sirah:  Register HERE!

Some DEETS about “The Petite Masters” Panel & Tasting Reception, hosted by P.S. I Love You

A historic journey with the American heritage grape, Petite Sirah and the top taste makers from Napa Valley

Discover Petite Sirah’s extraordinary journey to America and how the formidable pioneer forged a cornerstone in America’s rich wine history. Today, this all-American varietal is a grape on the move and trending in popularity among winemakers and savvy consumers alike. Enjoy a fascinating and informative roundtable tasting with notable winemakers specializing in premium Petite Sirah.

You’ll hear from top taste-makers, including George Urquiola of Robert Biale Vineyards, Stephanie Douglas of Aratas Wine, Randle Johnson of The Hess Collection and Artezin Wines, Julie Johnson of Tres Sabores Winery, and Miro Tcholakov of Miro Cellars and Trentadue Winery. These panelists will be joined by other Napa Valley producers to share why they are passionate about producing Petite Sirah.

Following an informative conversation, you’ll have the opportunity to sample stylistic Petite Sirah from 20 California producers. The wines will be paired with gourmet bites from CIA chefs.

P.S. I Love You is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote, educate, and legitimize Petite Sirah as a heritage variety, with a special emphasis on its terroir uniqueness.

Participating Wineries:
Aratas Wine Napa Valley
Artezin Wines
Aix Sponsa Cellar
Ballentine Vineyards
Berryessa Gap Vineyards
Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah
Denier-Handal Wines
Foppiano Vineyards
Merisi Wines
Michael David Winery
Miro Cellars
Quixote Winery
Tenbrink Vineyards and Winery
Robert Biale Vineyards
Stanton Vineyards
Theopolis Vineyards
Three Clicks Wines
Tres Sabores
Vincent Arroyo Winery
Vezer Family Vineyard

From Telluride to Sebastopol!

To prepare for the 4th of July festivities, join me at Gravenstein Grill for Wine Wednesday from 5:30-7:00 pm on July 3rd for a special pouring of world-class wines from Sonoma County that will prime the palate for our national holiday and other fun activities happening with family, friends and the staff at Gravestein Grill in summertime!

The July guest list for Wine Wednesday!

July 10:  Jigar Wines

July 17:  O’Connell Vineyards

July 24:  Miramar Torres

July 31 & beyond. . . more to come!

High on the Hogs 2019 at EPIC Steak this Sunday June 23

Join me this Sunday June 23rd, from 1-4pm, at EPIC‘s annual pig & pinot festival benefitting Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Epic Steak, 369 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105

 

Napa Sonoma Magazine: The Podcast!

Just a shout out for eager ears to tune in to a new channel!  Napa Sonoma Magazine, for which I write on occasion, has set up this interesting and convenient forum for your listening pleasure.

Thus far four episodes are posted for your perusal, more to come, with possibly a cameo from myself in the future!

Episode 1:  Napa Valley’s Oakville Grocery Then and Now

Episode 2:  Future of Food

Episode 3:  Ohm Coffee Roaster Derek Bromley

Episode 4:  The Unexpected; Screaming Eagle and Caviar