Category Archives: History

THE VARIETAL SHOW Visits Yorba Wines

It was a lovely afternoon in the foothills with Ann Kraemer and her dog at Yorba Wines! THE VARIETAL SHOW visited with her in Amador County, where we discussed the long history of vineyards at high elevations, going back to gold rush times, and amazing wine community. With nods to winemaker Ken Bernards of Ancien Wines.

Together we taste through her Yorba Barbera 2016, Tempranillo 2013 & Syrah 2014.

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Spectacular Starfield Vineyards On THE VARIETAL SHOW!

Heading east over route 50 is a scenic wilderness wonderland! This is where THE VARIETAL SHOW settles in at Starfield Vineyards & Winery with Rob Sinton, to enjoy a dazzling sampling of his high elevation wines. Placerville is in the El Dorado AVA, established in 1983, home to many wineries and a bucketload of California history! Taste along with us: 2021 Blanc de Blancs, 2020 The Miner’s Inch, 2020 The Big Canyon & 2020 Barbera Reserve.

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In The Cave With Parable Wines On THE VARIETAL SHOW

The story begins in 2020, which lead to a career change for Parable Wines partner Trey Eppright. Together with winemaker Kale Anderson, Parable came to be in Calistoga, CA. Join THE VARIETAL SHOW to learn more about this boutique family project, for a tasting in the cave:

  • 2022 Chardonnay, A18, Atlas Peak, Napa Valley
  • 2022 Chardonnay, Larry Hyde & Sons Vineyard, Carneros, Napa Valley
  • 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon, Vangone Vineyard, Napa Valley
  • 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon, Beckstoffer Bourn Vineyard, St. Helena

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Robert Biale Vineyards Features Fine Zin On THE VARIETAL SHOW!

The perfect #Zinning combination, THE VARIETAL SHOW talks to winemaker David Natali, of Robert Biale Vineyards: Focus in on Zinfandel, the official state grape of California, and its origins in Napa Valley. From this traditional farming region, we discuss old vines averaging 50 years old and celebrate the revered vineyards. Taste the history with us: 2022 Black Chicken, Napa Valley; 2022 Dickerson Vineyard, St Helena, Napa Valley; 2022 Morisoli Vineyard, Rutherford, Napa Valley

Join us for more #Zinning moments at ZAP in SF Jan 25-27!


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THE VARIETAL SHOW Stops By Stoller Family Estate

The epic Oregon road trip continues for THE VARIETAL SHOW, with a visit to Stoller Family Estate: Introducing my good friends, Winemaker Melissa Burr and Vineyard Manager, Jason Tosch. We discuss the amazing Willamette Valley, which just finished celebrating 40 years as an AVA. Digging deep into soil and clones, we taste three amazing samples of their work: 2021 Stoller Reserve Chardonnay, 2019 Legacy Nancy’s Pinot Noir & 2020 History Colombia Valley Red Blend.

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Get Your PASSPORT To Dry Creek Valley! April 29-30

Join 35 wineries for the 32nd Passport to Dry Creek Valley April 29 & 30, 2023. Enjoy amazing wine, delicious food, vibrant entertainment and a fun-filled spring weekend within the backdrop of idyllic Dry Creek Valley.

TICKETS with the special Sawyer Somm pricing are available at this link! How does it work?

  • Choose your starting winery and go at your own pace with no reservations necessary
  • Fabulous wine & food pairings
  • Access to countless wines that you can’t find on the shelf
  • Interactions with the winemakers and growers
  • Coveted spots in wine clubs
  • Entertainment all weekend
  • Skip the line with check-in option Friday in Healdsburg (info at checkout)
  • OPTION to purchase Friday evening (April 28) Winemakers welcome dinner at The Madrona
  • Hope to be seeing you in DCV! ~Chris

Horsing Around With Tamber Bey On THE VARIETAL SHOW

It is not often that wine pairs with horses, but at Tamber Bey it does! THE VARIETAL SHOW visits Barry Waitte at his winery, and we reminisce about the history of farming and orchards in Calistoga, the northernmost region of Napa Valley. We talk about his love of horses, while tasting his Chardonnay Sans Chêne, Pinot Noir Mes Filles Vineyard, and Cabernet Sauvignon Deux Chevaux Vineyard.

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THE VARIETAL SHOW Is Back-With Mike Dunne!

THE VARIETAL SHOW is back! Kicking off the first episode of 2023 with writer and wine judge Mike Dunne, sharing his new book “The Signature Wines of Superior California“. We get into some stories about Gold Rush county wines, including Amador, El Dorado, & Calaveras: Then taste with us the delightful 2020 markus nimmo, from Markus Wine Co. in Lodi.

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Legends: Next Gen @Sonoma County Wine Library – Nov 10th!

Meet The Future of Sonoma County Wine – Legends: Next Gen

After a three-year pause, the Sonoma County Wine Library is bringing back its Sonoma County Wine Legends event on Thursday, November 10th, 6:30 pm at the Steele Lane Community Center (415 Steele Ln) in Santa Rosa. (Photo credit Christopher Cheung/PD)

Moderated by Sommelier Christopher Sawyer, Legends: Next Gen will feature a panel discussion of these legends in the making, five next-generation professionals of the local wine community:

This fundraiser for the Sonoma County Wine Library includes wine pouring with charcuterie platter, and silent auction featuring special wines, gifts, and wine-country experiences. Early bird TICKETS are $45 for members and $60 for non-members, and $55 and $70 respectively after October 31st.

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NVL: #MerlotMe Month In Napa Valley!

It is MERLOT MONTH and timely to share my varietal article that appeared in Napa Valley Life. Here is a starter to lure you in, finish it up by following the READ MORE link to their site. . . Cheers!

MERLOT: Tracking its renaissance in Napa Valley

Over the past 50 years, it’s hard to imagine where the wine mecca of Napa Valley would be if not for Merlot’s early success, the noble red grape variety that burst on the scene in the late 1970s. Especially when one considers the series of phenomenal accomplishments that this amiable grape made as the leading wine purchased by American wine consumers, retailers, and sommeliers in the 1980s and 1990s.

In the beginning, Merlot was mainly used as a blending grape in the famous wine-growing region of Bordeaux in France before it arrived in the New World. But that started to change after classic Napa Valley brands like Louis M. Martini, Newton, Sterling, and Trefethen slowly worked with the grape after World War II, and Duckhorn Vineyards became the first winery to bottle the variety on its own in the late 1970s.

When the inaugural  Duckhorn releases hit the market in 1978, the  Merlot was priced at $10.50 and the Cabernet Sauvignon at $10.00. According to veteran winemaker Tom Rinaldi, who crafted the spirited Duckhorn wines for the first three decades, the price differ- ence reflected not only the great potential of Merlot in the marketplace but also the challenges that go along with finding the best sites to plant a grape that performs best in more moderate climate areas. . .