From my heart, I want to thank all the great people from around the globe who sent notes asking if my family and home are okay during the horrific spread of wildfires in Northern California. While I’m happy to say we are doing fine, I am heartbroken over the suffering of so many friends through the loss of their homes, wineries, businesses or even their job because of the wildfires that are still not under control in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, Calaveras and Yuba counties.
On a more personal level, the Mark West-Fountaingrove area that I grew up in, north of Santa Rosa, is completely gone too. The loss and damage to a number of schools and hospitals will have a huge impact on the community as well. The destruction makes me think about the 1989 Earthquake, 9/11 and the terrible storms that have hit the southern states in recent years. Luckily, the amount of lives lost so far has been minimal. But the damage and scares from the fires will be very obvious for many years to come.
This morning we made donations at our local drop-off zone here in Petaluma, and will wait to hear other ways we can help. But rest assured I’ll always wear my heart on the sleeve when October 9th rolls around for the rest of my life. Stay safe and appreciate life my friends. You can help too either by volunteering at a local shelter or donating to the Napa and Sonoma Fire Relief fundraiser!
Much love to all and stay safe! Chris
Top to bottom: A photo taken by my friend Sarah Stierch of the horrific fire heading towards Scribe Winery and the adjacent Gundlach Bundsch property in Sonoma Valley; The ruins of my dear friend Felicia’s house near Glen Ellen; Smoke-filled view from my house in Southern Sonoma County.
Experience this fundraiser at DeLoach Vineyards for Demeter USA and their critically important Biodynamic Farmer Education Initiative, including both silent and very live auction items: To feature incredible Biodynamic wines, products, and experiences. Live music by Sonoma County’s favorite band the Cahoots, playing their own blend of “Sonomacana” country blues and rockabilly. And of course featuring the award wines of DeLoach Vineyards, Buena Vista Winery, and Raymond Vineyards. RSVP online!
The Demeter Biodynamic Education Initiative supports the education of farmers and others to expand the practice of Biodynamic agriculture, and the production of Biodynamic food and wine, across the country. Last year, Demeter increased Biodynamic acreage by more than 16% to 22,000 acres, advised more than 350 farmers and brands, and hosted 20 farmer workshops that provided Biodynamic training for 1,155 farmers. Your support of this work is vitally important for the quality of our farms, our food, and our planet. Thank you for joining with Boisset and Demeter in our vision to help heal the planet through agriculture.
With a goal to raise $100,000 to support the HDSA mission, the event will honor Jean-Charles Boisset, Proprietor of Boisset Collection, which owns Buena Vista Winery, and Dr. Laurice Yang, Clinical Assistant Professor at Stanford University in the Neurology & Neurological Sciences department. Join us in your Gatsby-themed attire to enjoy live entertainment, a delicious dinner and wine pairing, Buena Vista’s classically retro Bubble Lounge and a fantastic silent auction.
Buy your tickets, or if you are unable to attend
then purchase someRaffle Tickets for the chance to win
one of three fabulous wine prizes! Instant Wine Cellar of Pinot Noir 6 Magnums of Pinot Noir 3 Magnums of Pinot Noir
Talk about turning Wine into Water! This September, Vineyards to Villages will host the 2nd Annual V2V Wine Safari, giving people the opportunity to drink boutique Sonoma County wines while bringing clean water to children in Kenya.
The “safari” tours will have complimentary tastings at 11 wineries in northern Sonoma County from September 3-11. Intimate tastings of exceptional high-end wines, often hosted by the owners themselves, will allow for a truly unique wine country experience. Visit any or all of the wineries at your own pace any time throughout the week. Participating wineries donate 1/3 of the sales price of these wines to V2V throughout the event.
The particpating wineries include: Christopher Creek Winery, Deux Amis Winery, Fritz Underground Winery, Merriam Vineyards, Pedroncelli Winery, Portalupi Wine, Thumbprint Cellars, Trione Winery, Williamson Wines, the Windsor Tasting Lounge, and Viszlay Vineyards.
Tickets available HERE! $50 each (a $130 value), and all ticket sales go directly to V2V.
Also, with the purchase of every ticket, you will be entered to win wine raffle prizes! If you visit every “animal” (winery) on the safari and show your complete safari pass on the Facebook page, you’ll get an additional 10 raffle tickets: Plus an extra raffle ticket with every purchase of V2V wine!
We just visited the amazing Western Railway Museum, located along the Highway 12 corridor, for a family train ride and exploration of some historic rail cars. Just wanted to share with you an opportunity to ride The Comet for wine tasting, appetizers and door prizes, on the next three Saturday’s in April 9, 16 & 23.
Sharing this Press Release information for those that want to continue the efforts of support for victims of last year’s devastating Valley Fire in Lake County. More information and tickets can be purchased at #LakeCountyRising. Piggy back this onto the end of your Flavor! Napa Valley adventures!
Valley Fire Relief Charity Wine Auction
Sunday, March 20, 2016
2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Culinary Institute of America – Greystone
St. Helena, California
Here is your opportunity to join all the star chefs and winemakers flocking to the CIA and other special venues for Flavor! Napa Valley.As wine director this year, I have organized some amazing events ranging from local and celebrity chef demonstrations to intimate winemaker workshops along with Grand Tastings and exclusive experiences that bring out the best flavors of Napa Valley. Be sure to check the schedule to see when you can attend!
This year Flavor! Napa Valley takes place during Cabernet Season and provides experiences in the finest in farm-to-table cuisine, world-class wines and culinary star talent. It’s the perfect time of year for five days of culinary indulgence, and to wine and dine with Napa Valley’s legendary talent.
Ticket sale proceeds benefit The Culinary Institute of America. Stay tuned this week as I will be posting more details about individual classes however you can find out more and purchase tickets at the Events Page!
Every wine competition has its own unique shtick. Some are focused on specific varietals or regional specialties; while others are concentrated on wines from around the globe at different price points. For these reasons, it’s very rare to find a large-scale competition that is solely focused on high-end wines. An exception to this rule is the American Fine Wine Competition.
In mid-January, myself and twenty-three extremely qualified wine professionals from all areas of the wine and food industry were put through the test of judging 770 high-end wines at the 9th Annual AFWC held at the Chaplin School of Hospitality Management in the Wine Spectator Restaurant Lab at the Florida International University in Miami.
Co-founded by Shari Gherman and Monty & Sara Preiser in 2007, the AFWC has become one of the most influential wine events in the country over the past decade. The competition is followed by the annual Charity Wine Gala which takes place in April. There is also a series of Wine & Business After Hours events that raise money for a variety of non-profits and promote award-winning American wines throughout the year.
Since its inception, AFWC has raised more than a million dollars for local charities. The organization also works closely with the Dolphins Cancer Challenge, an organization founded by Michael Mandich, whose father Jim “Mad Dog” Mandich, a popular player for the Miami Dolphins and a beloved broadcaster, died of cancer in 2011.
“We are also proud that most other competitions charge $25 – $75 for each bottle of wine entered, garnering big profits for the organizers. We charge nothing, and all profits realized go to charity. Few can make such a statement,” says Gherman, the president and co-founder of the organization.
In addition to myself and Dr. Barry Gump of FIU (who I annually judge with at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition), some of the other well know judges included Masters of Wine Dr. Liz Thach and Peg San Felippo; Master Sommelier Virginia Philips; internationally renown sommelier and wine educator Charlie Arturaola; Wine Director Kris Margerum from Auberge du Soleil in St. Helena; East Coast wine sales experts Veronica Litton and Scott Caruso; and Patrick Sullivan, editor of DINE Magazine.
In the end, the top awards for 2016 went out to a fabulous mixture of producers from northern California:
Best of Show Sparkling Wine (Tie): Signal Ridge, Anderson Valley ($25) and Breathless Blanc de Noirs, North Coast ($30) Best of Show White Wine: Rivino 2014 Pinot Blanc, Mendocino ($25) Best of Show Red Wine: Luna 2013 Canto Super Tuscan Style, Napa Valley
($70) Best of Show Sweet/Dessert Wine: Castello di Amorosa 2013 LH Gewurztraminer, Anderson Valley ($39 – 375ml) In addition to California, there other top wines entered in the competition from Virginia, Maryland, New York, Texas, Oregon and Washington State. The complete list of the Best of Class winners and all the medalists will be out next week on www.AmericanFineWineCompetition.org.
In the meantime, to get your taste buds primed for the great results from the AFWC, here are my notes on for some of my favorite gold and double gold medal wines that I tasted at the two days of judging in Miami. Enjoy! -CS
Miner Family 2012 Chardonnay, Wild Yeast, Napa Valley: Complex flavors of ripe pear, apple, citrus and creamy custard accented with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin spice and roasted nuts. Elegant texture with plenty of depth, structure, and length, ($50). DOUBLE GOLD www.minerwines.com
Lobo Wines 2014 Chardonnay, Wulff Vineyards, Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley: Sultry combination of golden delicious apple, melon, white peach, coconut, lemon and grapefruit. Bright, expressive, lovable ($60). DOUBLE GOLD www.lobowines.com
Shadowbox 2013 Chardonnay, Forty-Sixth Leaf, Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley: Sweet fruit notes of ripe melon, apple, citrus, banana cream pie, chamomile and subtle spices lead to a lingering finish. Superb! ($60). DOUBLE GOLD www.shadowboxcellars.com
Fisher Vineyards 2012 Chardonnay, Mountain Estate, Sonoma County: Lovely aromas of spring flowers, honeysuckle, ripe melon, citrus, vanilla and toasty oak; elegant flavors of poached pear, Crenshaw melon, peach, mineral, and roasted almonds; smooth mouthfeel; and long finish. ($70). DOUBLE GOLD www.fishervineyards.com
Coastal Pinot Noirs
Castello di Amorosa 2014 Pinot Noir, Il Rubino, North Coast: Pretty nose and complex flavors of ripe blueberry, candied red fruits, earth and spice ($39). DOUBLE GOLD www.castellodiamorosa.com
Calstar Cellars 2012 Pinot Noir, Sangiacomo Vineyard, Sonoma Coast: Elegant and fruity, with notes of wild, berries, cherry cola, ripe plum, cinnamon, nutmeg, licorice and smoked meats; vibrant acidity, and a rewarding finish ($40). DOUBLE GOLD www.calstarcellars.com
Lando Wines 2013 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast: Sophisticated Pinot with concentrated flavors of blackberry, dark cherry, blueberry, mineral, and silky tannins. Dense, spicy and generous($42). GOLD www.landowines.com
MacPhail 2013 Pinot Noir, Sangiacomo Vineyard, Sonoma Coast:
Well-balanced wine with vibrant flavors of black raspberry, cherry, blackberry, and layers of spice ($49). GOLD www.macphailwine.com
Lichen Estate 2012 Pinot Noir, Estate Grown, Lichen Estate, Anderson Valley: Dark berries, raspberry, plum, mint, vanillin, and forest floor. Beautiful Burgundian-style wine with a rustic twist ($65). DOUBLE GOLD www.lichenestate.com
Donum 2013 Pinot Noir, Angel Camp Vineyard, Anderson Valley: Rich flavors of blackberry, blueberry, dark cherry, blood orange peel, wild herbs, and mineral. Gracious, complex and ageworthy ($72). DOUBLE GOLD www.thedonumestate.com
Alquimista Cellars 2014 Pinot Noir, Manchester Ridge, Mendocino Ridge: Wild strawberry, red cherry, clove, tangerine rind, and a linger finish ($75). DOUBLE GOLD www.alquimistacellars.com
Napa Valley Cabernets
Triumph Cellars 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley: Young, vibrant wine with layers of ripe raspberry, dark cherry, plum, cocoa, wild herbs, and a burst of bright acidity on the long, engaging finish ($40). DOUBLE GOLD www.calistogacellars.com
Triumph Cellars 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, Napa Valley: Rich, lively and extremely balanced. Deep flavors of dark berries, cherry, cassis, vanilla, smooth texture, and toasty oak ($52). GOLD www.calistogacellars.com
Roberts & Rogers 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain: Concentrated notes of black raspberry, blueberry, cassis, maple, black pepper and wild mountain herbs ($55). DOUBLE GOLD www.robertsandrogers.com
Lagniappe Peak 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Pere, Napa Valley: Rich texture with dark berries, black currant, bittersweet chocolate, layers of spice, chewy tannins, and a persistent finish ($75). DOUBLE GOLD. www.lagniappepeakwines.com
Foodies unite! Need a good excuse to visit San Francisco in January? Then check out the magnificent list of culinary delights that will be featured as part of the annual SF Restaurant Week January 20-31th.
Find out more about participating restaurants that are serving 2 and 3 course lunch and dinner menus sampling from a selection of 25 different cuisines. Another special deal during SF Restaurant Week, when you eat at 4 or more participating restaurants, make a qualifying post on the Facebook event page, and you will be eligible to win 12 – $100 gift certificates to different restaurants in the City. RSVP on Facebook right now!
Your gastronomical endeavors benefit the 50 Fund charitable organization so go BIG!