Category Archives: Film

In Memorium: the Reynolds-Fisher Power Duo

The year 2016 ended with the unexpected loss of two women, a mother and daughter, that shocked us all.  As a film lover I have to acknowledge this and want to refer you to an upcoming documentary on HBO this coming Saturday January 7th at 8pm.  Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds was filmed in 2015 and set for release this summer but the demand is now.  We all need one more fix of these amazing ladies!

Read this article by SF Chronicle television reviewer David Wiegand for more insight about the film:
Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher and a mother-daughter bond

Last St Francis Outdoor Film Evening! Visit Jurassic Park on July 28

The 7th Annual “Stars Under the Stars” Outdoor Film Festival at St. Francis Winery finishes off the season with an evening at “Jurassic jpark2Park”! Perhaps not the scariest film of the season following last week’s political fare but definitely a freak fest for the whole family.  I will be there as your festival sommelier to pair St Francis’ world class wines with world class films. Starts at 7pm.

Jurassic Park
Starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern & Jeff Goldblum (1993)
Pre-show concert by: Band Camp
Thursday, July 28, 2016

Featured Wines
$10 per glass (Includes a keepsake St. Francis logoed glass) | $8 Refill
2014 Chardonnay, Wild Oak Vineyard, Sonoma Valley
2014 “Old Vines” Zinfandel, Sonoma County

Admission & Popcorn are Free!
Wines and El Coyote Mexican Food will be available for purchase.

St. Francis Film Festival: The Candidate, July 21

candidateThis week at the 7th Annual “Stars Under the Stars” Outdoor Film Festival at St. Francis Winery will be the political classic “The Candidate”, starring a youthful Robert Redford and Peter Boyle.  I will be there as your festival sommelier to pair St Francis’ world class wines with world class films. Starts at 7pm, admission is free!


The Candidate
Starring Robert Redford & Peter Boyle (1972)
Pre-show concert by: The Atomic Lounge Show
Thursday, July 21, 2016

Featured Wines
$10 per glass (Includes a keepsake St. Francis logoed glass) | $8 Refill
2015 Chardonnay, Sonoma County
2013 Old Vines Zinfandel, Bacchi vineyard, Russian River Valley

St. Francis Film Festival: National Treasure Part 2, July 14

220px-Book_of_secrets_postThe 7th Annual “Stars Under the Stars” Outdoor Film Festival at St. Francis Winery continues.  Get ready for an evening of intrigue with “National Treasure: Book of Secrets”, which includes an introduction by the film’s Executive Producer Charles Segars.  I will be there as your festival sommelier to pair St Francis’ world class wines with world class films. Starts at 7pm, admission is free!


National Treasure: Book of Secrets
Starring Nicolas Cage (2007)
Pre-show concert by: Ragtag Sullivan Duo
Thursday, July 14, 2016

Featured Wines
$10 per glass (Includes a keepsake St. Francis logoed glass) | $8 Refill
2015 Chardonnay, Sonoma County
2013 Meritage, Anthem, Sonoma County

St. Francis Film Festival: Sleepless In Seattle, July 7th

It’s back again, the 7th Annual “Stars Under the Stars” seattleOutdoor Film Festival at St. Francis Winery.  I will be there every Thursday in July as your festival sommelier to pair St Francis’ world class wines with world class films.  Starts at 7pm, admission is free!

Sleepless in Seattle
Starring Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan (1993)
Pre-show concert by: Z & The Benders
Thursday, July 7, 2016

Featured Wines
$10 per glass (Includes a keepsake St. Francis logoed glass)
2015 Chardonnay, Sonoma County
2014 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

Sonoma International Film Festival: March 30-April 3

I’m diving into another great film, wine and epicurean adventure! SIFF 2016 gets started on Wednesday.  This year there will be more than 90 hand-selected films including independent features, documentaries, world cinema, and short films. All within walking distance of Sonoma’s historic plaza.

Come view, taste and stroll with me in Sonoma! Christopher



La Vie En Rose: Pink Bubbles for Valentines Day!

Until recently, it was rare to find sparkling wines with majestic pink hues outside of Champagne, the bubbly capital of France. But thanks to the growing interest in Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, the two main red grapes used to add layers of flavor and color to these wines, the fascination for the color pink has spread around the globe.

lavieMost of these marvelous new wines are made using the classic méthode champenoise technique, which helps convert the base wine into a sparkler. When making the base wine, a portion of the Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier grapes used in the blend are fermented separately on the skins to add depth and subtle color to this unique sparkling wine.

A tasty example of this technique is the Schramsberg 2012 Brut Rosé, $44, a bright and beautiful wine made with Pinot Noir grapes grown in Carneros, Anderson Valley, and other premium locations in Northern California. To add more complexity, a smaller portion of Chardonnay grapes is also used to give the wine more spice, structure and length on the palate. After the blend is made, the wine is aged in the bottle for about two years.

Once finished, the end result is an elegant bubbly that is creamy and lush with lovely aromas and complex flavors of fresh raspberry, wild strawberry, white peach, orange blossom, ruby grapefruit and toasted brioche, a burst of vibrant acidity, and a elegant finish. Along with tasting great by itself; this versatile wine pairs great with gourmet salads, fine cheeses, salmon, prawns, sushi, roasted chicken, and a wide variety of barbecued meats.

To find out more about the beauty of aging Schramsberg Sparkling Wines, visit

Wine & Film Pairing: Schramsberg Brut Rosé with La Vie En Rose

This is a wonderful wine to share with someone special while watching La Vie en Rose (2007). In French, this term means “The Life in Pink,” which loosely translates to mean “life through rose-tinted glasses” in English. In a dynamic performance that won her an Oscar, Marion Cottillard plays the legendary French singer Edith Piaf. This biopic journey follows Piaf’s life as a young girl singing on the street corners of Paris, to her emergence as a star at center stage. And despite the ups and downs of her life, it is not hard to tell that the legendary singer is a true believer in love.

Towards the end of the film, we see Piaf performing one of her best songs, “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rein.” In English, the title of the song means “No, I regret nothing” or “No regrets.” After enjoying this powerful film and a bottle of the delicious Schramsberg Brut Rosé, odds are you’ll feel the same way!

Schramsberg at Flavor Napa Valley, March 16-20

To extend your Valentine’s Day delights, taste more sophisticated bubbles made by Schramsberg and other Napa Valley producers at Flavor Napa Valley, March 16-20. In addition to being on a panel with me on Saturday March 19th to talk about the magnificent J. Davies Cabernet Sauvignon made with world-class fruit grown on the historic estate property between Calistoga and St. Helena; Schramsberg proprietor Hugh Davies will also be part of a special seminar focused on high-end sparkling wines prior to the splendid Brunch at Meritage Resort & Spa on Sunday, March 20th. See below for more details and to view the complete calendar of events, visit Hope to see you there!

Saturday, March 19, 3pm-4:30pm: High Elevation Wines Pt.2—Westside

Explore flavorful selections of wines made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and other special varieties used to create limited release wines and proprietary blends from hidden sites on the Mayacamas Range overlooking Napa Valley, at the Rudd Center, Culinary Institute of America Greystone, St. Helena.

Hugh Davies, J. Davies/Schramsberg (Diamond Mountain); Mariano Navarro, Mt. Brave & Lokoya Wines (Mt. Veeder); Christopher Howell, Cain Vineyards & Winery (Spring Mountain); Stuart Smith, Smith-Madrone Winery (Spring Mountain); Jay Turnipseed, Mount Veeder Winery (Mt. Veeder). Moderator: Christopher Sawyer, Wine Director of Flavor Napa Valley

Sunday, March 20, 9:30am – 11am: Bubbly Sensation: Exploring the Top Sparkling Wines of Napa Valley

Start your Sunday off in style by tasting through the top sparkling wines of Napa Valley! Find out where the grapes are grown and how the winemakers create levels of flavor and complexity that make their sparkling gems so special. Bubbles and knowledge in every sip! Participating Wineries: Schramsberg, Domaine Carneros, Domaine Chandon, Mumm Napa.

Sunday, March 20, 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM: Brunch Party – Meet Your Maker: The Butcher, The Baker, and the Sparkling Winemaker

Cap off the weekend with an exclusive brunch party hosted by The Meritage Resort and Spa. Engage with the ‘makers’ and learn how to cure bacon with artisan meat purveyors, bake with local pastry chefs, build a benedict with Meritage chefs, and more — all while sipping local sparkling wines and imbibing from roving bloody mary carts!
Participating Wineries: Schramsberg, Domaine Carneros, Domaine Chandon, Mumm Napa. Participating Artisans: Cate & Co., Cococlectic, Mr. Espresso, Napastak, Napa General Store, Napa Valley Cookie Co., Olive and Poppy, Platanito Pupusas. Secure your tickets!

Ashes to Ashes: David Bowie RIP 1947-2016

bowieSo sad to hear about the passing of David Bowie just a few days after his birthday at the age of 69. There is no doubt the man was an icon, a legend, and helped change the face of music in the 70s & 80s. He will always be one of the greatest entertainers of our lifetimes and a star that will always shine bright not only as a musician but as an actor as well. For that reason, this week I will have his vinyl playing in the cellar and opening fine bottles of wine with friends in his honor!
#RIP #ZiggyStardust #DiamondDogs #RebelRebel #cancersucks

Read more about the amazing life of David Bowie
in this BBC article

The final additions to The Perfect Case & opening of NVFF, November 11-15

In America, celluloid dreams are to Hollywood what prolific Cabernet Sauvignons are to Napa Valley. And to celebrate all pairings of wines with film, I include 3 last bottles to The Perfect Case, to coincide with the beginning of Napa Valley Film Festival on Wednesday November 11th. Either way, on big or small screen, enjoy the combinations!

Classics with Cabernet Sauvignon

Raymond 2012 Sommelier Selection Cabernet Sauvignon ($18)
Crafted by a special team of sommeliers from across the United States, this magnificent mixture of grapes from special North Coast vineyards creates lingering notes of ripe red fruits, raspberry, red currant, black fig, cocoa, espresso and elegant tannins.
Film pairing: Great sommelier wine to serve with Goldeneye or other classic James Bond films as hip red alternative to martinis shaken not stirred.

pianoFreemark Abbey 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon ($44): Visceral cabernet with pleasurable flavor of wild berries, plums, cherries melded with secondary notes vanilla, cedar box and pastoral spice.
Film pairing: Like the vivid scenery in The Piano, the precious joys of this fine cabernet are slowly revealed inside the glass.

Grgich Hills 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon ($65): Rich wine with elegant notes of blackberry, blueberry, cassis, and silky texture.
Film pairing: Rebel Without a Cause starring James Dean and Natalie Wood. The core fruit in this wine came from vines planted in Yountville the same decade the film was released and maverick winemaker Mike Grgich arrived in Napa Valley from Croatia.

Napa Valley Film Festivalnvff balloon