Category Archives: Film

6th Annual SIFF Wine Awards

It is official as of today, Sunday March 26th, where the announcement was made at the SIFF Awards Brunch! Here are the best of the best, selected by our premiere judging panel. Try some for yourself to find out why.


Breathless NV Blanc de Blancs, Sonoma County 98 Points


En Garde 2021 Allez Blanc, California 94 Points


Gehricke 2022 Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma Mountain 91 Points


Dutton Estate 2021 Chardonnay, Kyndall’s Reserve, Dutton Ranch, Russian River Valley 96 Points


Benziger 2022 Rosé, Sonoma County 97 Points


DeLoach 2019 Pinot Noir, Green Valley of RRV 97 Points


Idell Family 2018 MB-5V Red Wine, Oscar Vineyard, Sonoma Valley 98 Points


Larson Family 2019 Syrah Sonoma Coast 98 Points


Bartholomew Estate 2019 Press Release Red Wine, Sonoma Valley 95 Points


Buena Vista 20120 Zinfandel, Private Reserve Sonoma County 95 Points


Sebastiani 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Cherryblock, Sonoma Valley 98 Points


Larson Family 2018 Late Harvest Gewurztraminer, Dolce, Carneros 98 Points

A Week Of Sweets & Treats For #VALENTINESDAY

For Valentines Week, I am going to assail you with some special tidbits in this single blast of love! Start by reading this seductive article by Dr. Liz Thach, for a lovely selection of cocktails: Mine is the Blood Orange Rose 75, so start mixing!

Follow that up with the classic romantic film, An Affair To Remember: A fine sparkling wine that can live up to this level of romance is Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé. This charming bubbly exudes fruity, tangy flavor, has a beautiful color and a long enchanting finish. To further enliven the senses, serve this sparkling gem with aphrodisiac delights such as oysters on the half shell, fresh berries, or toasted nuts.

Lastly, let’s revisit my wine & chocolate pairing on THE VARIETAL SHOW from last year. It’s never too late to get specialty treats for your loved ones! Especially if it is Acumen Wine & Phillip Ashley Chocolates.

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DEAR ZOE, Now Available On Your Small Screens!

At the Dear Zoe film premiere in Pittsburgh on November 2, all the stars, including Sadie Sink, Kweku Collins and the supporting cast were there! This touching film, made by my friends Brenda & Marc Lhormer, is based on the book by Philip Beard which was first published in 2004.

Here is the trailer if you missed the theater screenings. Now you can catch the entire film on all Video on Demand channels, including ITunes/AppleTV and Amazon.

Behind the Scenes Of ‘Love, Charlie’ With Lisa Ehrlich On The Varietal Show

Making the film festival circuit these days you will likely find the documentary Love, Charlie by local filmmaker Lisa Ehrlich: It happens to be about her ex-husband, Charlie “Chuck” Trotter, the famous Chicago chef.

The Varietal Show sits down with Lisa to hear compelling stories about their life in Chicago, starting his restaurant, and her steps into the California wine world. Together, we have a taste of Lingua Franca by winemaker Larry Stone, another early connection from their Chicago days. (For much more in depth wine talk from Larry Stone watch The Varietal Show, episodes #47 & #50!)

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The Varietal Show Featuring Filmmaker Troy Christian!

Celebrating the national release on March 22 of his film A Perfect Vintage, filmed in 2013, and finally making the film festival circuit in 2021, including at Sonoma International Film Festival: While in LA, The Varietal Show met with Troy Christian for stories about Sawyer Somm participation, and making this fabulous wine documentary!

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A perfect vintage 2022

Submission Time! 5th Annual SIFF Wine Awards

This professional wine competition became part of Sonoma International Film Festival in 2018: It is organized and executed by sommelier Christopher Sawyer and a panel of wine writers, star sommeliers and retailers, taking place on March 16th, 2022. Deadline for wine submissions is March 11th. CATEGORIES & DETAILS BELOW!

  • Best Sparkling Wine
  • Best Chardonnay
  • Best Aromatic White Wine
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Other White Varietals & Blends
  • Best Pink Wine (still)
  • Best Pinot Noir
  • Best Merlot
  • Best Red Wine Blend
  • Best Zinfandel
  • Best Rhone Varieties
  • Best Bordeaux Varieties
  • Best Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Best Dessert Wine
  • Best Port Wine

Select the categories you want to enter from the list above. Please provide 2 bottles of wine for each category you are entering, including a spec sheet with the level of residual sugar information.

Deliver your wine to the SIFF office @ 103 E Napa Street, Ste. B, Sonoma, CA (above Maya Restaurant) before March 11th, 2022.
Contact Chay or Danyelle, 707-200-8215 , if you have any questions.

SIFF Email Logo Stamp 1 x .5 in

The Return of Daedalus Howell on The Varietal Show

Back in March, The Varietal Show featured Part 1 of these delightful musings with by pal Daedalus Howell: Technical difficulties prevented the remainder being shared, but lucky you, we were able to transcribe Part 2 for your reading pleasure, enjoy with a glass of Seghesio if you have it handy. (Then watch Part 3 with a Zinfandel of your choice.) Cheers! Chris & Daedalus

CHRIS:  So we are down in the cellar and we are going to start the second part of this conversation based on a couple old selections that I just pulled out for Daedalus.  And since we are in Sonoma County where I thought we’d pull a few.

This is the Omaggio, and this is an old old Seghasio brand called the Four Generations:  It is a 1996 Sonoma County blend.  It is a table wine, a Super Tuscan from Sonoma County, go figure.

There are a lot of people in Sonoma County with names that end with “I” or an “O”.  Guess where they’re from originally, the families?  It’s called italy and the fact is that the Omaggio to me was one of those great ones that Pete and Ted Seghasio, I used to do these blind tastings with them all the time.  They invited me to do them and we would have the funnest times.  They’d make me dinner and we would have such a great time but I always you know

“Chris why do you want to bottle up take home?”

“Give me some more Omaggio, this stuff’s good!

I love their Zinfandels, and I did a great thing with one of their family name zinfandel that was on ZAP:  So if you guys love Zinfandel Advocates and Producers please go and check out that amazing show that we did with the Dry Creek producers.  That’s the home ranch and that’s where really the Sangiovese part of this is from, and then the rest of it the Merlot and the Cabernet are from certain spots of Sonoma County. This is a 1996, are you liking this

DAEDALUS: I haven’t tried it yet, I’ve just been hitting the nose which is brilliant.

CHRIS: The nose is amazing.  When Ii tasted it before you came, I opened it to make sure that it was good, it would smell great!  I mean it was amazing, there’s so much fruit in this for being a ‘96.

DAEDALUS :  And it’s 25 years old and that’s what’s crazy!  You know, we think a table wine is not something you’re going to shelf for a while and here it is.  It’s all the better for it, this is really wonderful.  It’s just the nose, the aromatics alone are pretty amazing

CHRIS:  This is kind of one of those moment kind of wines that makes me remember about when I was with Wine X magazine.  Back in the old days and making the transition from UC Davis into what I do, working for Wine X magazine, is just an amazing magazine.  I mean it really was a trendsetter.  It went against everything anyone told you about wine:  Let’s do Wine Raves in Boston, and Texas and let’s go down to Florida and do the same thing. “Okay, that sounds fun!”

DAEDALUS : Just the term Wine Raves . . . (serious laughter)

CHRIS: I never said no to any offer that I got but I became a better person for that.  This is one of those wines that I think about you know when I go back to my time, and how I grew up.  Especially after you and I went to high school and we went to Petaluma High, go go Trojans and stuff, but you know it goes way back to the time when the transition was being made in Sonoma County, back in the 90s and here here to that


CHRIS: I’ll probably give you the rest of this bottle to take home and just enjoy with your dinner but this is a real interesting wine, isn’t that amazing? Seghasio obviously has become a big brand and what I really want to say is the Journeyman, the amazing deli up in Healdsburg, Pete and Kathy Seghasio own that and I wish I had some of their fabulous sausages here and their salumis which are amazing

DAEDALUS: You need all Italian sausages hanging, and a cheese wheel

CHRIS:  Actually that’s a good idea, I need to be curing a piece of a pig right here just because that’s the right thing to do.  Especially if you live in a place where the  Italian culture is big.But you know what this is an amazing wine, how it’s holding up.  This is actually, if we could have those Super Tuscan wines in America, this is a really good example.

DAEDALUS :   Yeah, a little bit of leather on it too.  Finish falls off a bit, but what are you going to expect after 25 years.

CHRIS:  Well yeah I mean, but you put it with risotto, with wild mushrooms or maybe you just stick a piece of meat on top of that and what else you know.

DAEDALUS:  Your pairing ideas are always spot on that’s great.  Earlier we’re talking about music and we’re talking about sort of tangentially about music and pairing and all that we pair our lives with music all the time, right?

We’re always putting something on to create a mood or sort of like bring us into a moment that kind of thing or to have a memory why it’s exactly the same, right? And I think you always approach it that way like “how am I going to bring myself back to this moment”.

This bottle you opened up, it’s not just the vintage that’s bringing us back to ‘96, it’s like the flavors, the things that you remember tasting is fascinating to me you’ve always been like that.  It’s cool to see it in action like if you ever want to get a tour of the 80s and 90s and it’s all right here.

CHRIS: Yeah and it’s locked in my brain too.  I can’t remember certain things about here and now but I can tell you anything about the 80s and 90s.  And it’s just because it was really the time period.  What an interesting time for us to grow up, especially here in Sonoma County and watch this culture kind of grow with us.

DAEDALUS:   The transition, yeah it was pretty dramatic.  And I remember when I was living in L.A. you would come down and on doing stories and stuff like that you talking to me about like what was happening.  I couldn’t really believe it.  I just was like, “What? Sonoma County, it can’t be where it’s at.”

Came back up and absolutely it was the scene, wine was happening so hard and so fast, so interestingly in the area we’re talking like early aughts,  like especially 2003-4. That’s when the pivot had completed and I think it was full board at that point.

On to Part 3, just scroll down!

Cinema & the Cellar at the Rutherford Dust Film Fest

Rutherford Dust Society
Virtual Premiere Napa Valley Celebration

Thursday, June 3 from 3:00-4:00pm PT

Join the winemakers of Rutherford Dust Society and the world’s first film sommelier, Christopher Sawyer for a virtual wine & movie celebration on June 3rd.

During this high-energy event, Alpha Omega, Amici, Inglenook, Frank Family Vineyards, PEJU, Quintessa and St. Supéry will present their Premiere Napa Valley lots, with a cinematic twist!

Whether you’re in the mood for action, drama, comedy or romance– there will be a wine for you in this action-packed session highlighting the radiant Rutherford region, its famous filmmakers and winemakers, and the elusive “Rutherford Dust” character that keeps wine lovers from around the world coming back for more. Join this list of stellar panelists on ZOOM!