Category Archives: Charity

V2V Wine Safari! September 3-11

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.

v2v2014
Children at Ranyienya Primary School with water from a borehole well dug in February 2014

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!

Vintage Comet Wine Tasting Train: Only in April!

western-railway-museum-logoWe 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.

This fundraiser will benefit the museum, which is non-profit, and the Solano Midnight Sun Breast Cancer Foundation.

Secure your TICKETS, yesterday’s train apparently sold out!

If you cannot make this event, there are others to look for throughout the year.  Or you can just swing over for a weekend family adventure instead!

A stop along our train trip at the Western Railway Museum.
A stop along our train trip at the Western Railway Museum.

#LakeCountyRising Charity Wine Auction – Sunday March 20th

Sharing this Press Release information for those that want to continue the efforts of support for victims of last year’s devastating lakecorisingValley 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

Thanks for your support!

Flavor! Napa Valley: Five Days, Forty Events – One Legendary Festival

logo3Here 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!

dessertThis 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.

oystableTicket 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!

Cheers!  Christopher

Tasty results from the American Fine Wine Competition 2016

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.

afwc1In 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.

Pink out! Kenwood-based Muscardini Cellars won the coveted Best of Class award for Dry Rose with this elegant wine made with fruit from Alpicella Vineyard in Sonoma Valley.
Pink out! Kenwood-based Muscardini Cellars won the coveted Best of Class award for Dry Rose with this elegant wine made with fruit from Alpicella Vineyard in Sonoma Valley.

“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

High-end Chardonnays

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

The Lando 2013 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir was one of the big medal winners in the high-end category at the the AFWC 2016.
The Lando 2013 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir was one of the big medal winners in the high-end category at the the AFWC 2016.

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

Four of the fabulous Merlots entered into the AFWC 2016 by top Napa Valley producers.
Four of the fabulous Merlots entered into the AFWC 2016 by top Napa Valley producers.

Tastes of SF: This is Restaurant Week!

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!

50fund

Help Humanitas Wines with Soles4Souls: Clothes4Souls Coat Distribution on Sat Dec 5th

Humanitas Wines is partnering with Soles4Souls on both a regional shoe collection drive and national fundraising campaign this holiday season.

Humanitas, part of The Good Life Wine Collective along with sister wineries Jessup Cellars and Handwritten, will use the family-owned wine group’s dry goods storage building in southern Napa to house the shoes prior to national and international distribution. Visit the Soles4Souls: Napa Valley Shoe Drive Facebook page to learn more and get a list of local drop-off sites.

In addition to the shoe drive, Humanitas Wines is also partnering with Soles4Souls’ Clothes4Souls division to distribute 1,200 brand new coats donated from Macy’s to Lake County Fire Victims at a Holiday Party on Saturday, December 5 from 1pm to 4pm at the Middletown Lions Club (15399 Central Park Road). The afternoon includes a visit from Santa, treats, and craft activities.

Mix your wine with charity this weekend!

bless1If you aren’t feeling the pull, like I am, to the Sierra Nevadas this weekend (see The Big Crush), then perhaps you can enjoy some local sips to support worthy North Bay causes?

On Saturday October 3rd you can Raise the Roof  along with an assortment of farmers, wineries, restaurants, hoteliers, insurance agents, realtors, event planners, civic leaders, local law and fire department personnel, and many other local Sonoma County businesses.   Proceeds go to help victims of the recent Valley fire in Lake County.

roof2Attend the event and participate in the silent auction while enjoying delectable wines from the most sought after wineries and sensational bites from featured chefs including Dustin Valette, Duskie Estes, Guy Fieri, Nicolai Lipscomb to name a few. Tickets are $100 pre-sale or $125 at the Sonoma Jet Center doors in Santa Rosa.

On Sunday, October 4th is the 15th Annual Blessing of the Animals at St. Francis Winery. Bring your best furry friend to the Winery to be blessed and spend the afternoon helping raise money for the Sonoma Humane Society.

Admission is FREE! Winery Dog of the Year Contest entry is $10. Wines by glass, raffle tickets, silent auction all contribute to funds raised for animals in need.
bless3