Category Archives: People

Images from Bottle Rock 2016!

Wine, food and MUSIC!!!! That is what Bottle Rock Napa is all about, so starting the vibe with an epic stage shot of Red Hot Chili Peppers. Now let’s ease into a collection from the entire weekend!








Inhaling the wonders of ‪DJBoom‬ (aka ‪Stevie Wonder‬) and his respect for the great musicians who passed in 2016. Check out a video of him on Facebook at Christopher Sawyer Sommelier!

Celebrating "The Catch" (aka a magnificent Salmon dish) prepared by star Chef Michael Mina and guest sous chef, 49ers legend Dwight Clark!
Celebrating “The Catch” (aka a magnificent Salmon dish) prepared by star Chef Michael Mina and guest sous chef, 49ers legend Dwight Clark!








Enjoy the first sip of what would become an epic performance by Florence and the Machine at the JaM Cellars Stage!
Enjoy the first sip of what would become an epic performance by Florence and the Machine at the JaM Cellars Stage!
Selfie with Superstar Chef Mei Lin.
Selfie with Superstar Chef Mei Lin.
Discussing the beauties of Bottle Rock Napa and great charitable works done by singer Michael Franti & Co!
Discussing the beauties of Bottle Rock Napa and great charitable works done by singer Michael Franti & Co!



FLLLLLLEA! Flea and Red Hot Chili Peppers rock out with the colors out on closing night of Bottle Rock Napa Valley 2016!









See you there next year!


My Wine Seminars at the Telluride Wine Festival, June 23-25!

Telluride Wine Seminars are coming together and you are invited to partake in the mountain adventure! Join me and other educated panelists to learn more about:

  • The Saveur Pass Luncheon & Sparkling Wines
  • Mountain-to-Mountain: High Elevation Wines
  • Que Syrah Shiraz with winemaker Ehren Jordan of Failla and Aril Wines
  • Extraordinary Tuscan Experience with Banfi Wines
  • The Tales of Two Valleys: Interview and Tasting with Jeff Boyer of Ramey Wines
  • Napa Valley, Living on the Edge of Reality: Exploring the Flavor Profiles of Coastal Pinot Noirs
  • Taste Elite Wines at the Reserve Tasting & Grand Tasting
  • And more . . .

Go to Telluride Wine Festival for ticketing info!

To get your wines involved either in a seminar or the Grand Tasting, or any questions, send me an email:

Wine Radio! Tune in to Talk910 for Somm Talk today. . .March 19th

JRNew.phpJoel Riddell talks Flavor! Napa Valley starting today at 1:15, you can listen via the Dining Around link or on the airwaves at Talk910.  Listen for his interviews with winemakers, chefs and, at 2pm, myself and Master Sommelier Gillian Balance!  Gillian is on the panel for High Elevation Wines Part 1 and The Rhone Zone wine classes:  Listen, learn and join one of our classes!

Cheers! Christopher

Exploring the beauties of aphrodisiac cuisine all year long

Feeling blue because Valentine’s week is over? Well no worries! For every day can have a romantic twist if you master the skills of working with aphrodisiac cuisine or simply surprise your loved one with meals that follow this romantic theme.

The root of the word “aphrodisiac” is from the Greek goddess Aphrodite, an expert in the fields of sensuality and love. In contemporary times, an aphrodisiac can provide an internal stimulus based on sensory experiences.

For starters, many of these specialty ingredients are things we eat (or want to eat) on a daily basis, including : oysters, garlic, sweet basil, fennel, hearts of palm, radish, carrot, blood orange, pineapple, sweet potato, artichoke, olive, pine nuts, wild mushrooms, truffle, coffee, cocoa, and chocolate.

the callingFor wine lovers, there is always the health-conscious aspect to consider. Wines made with pinot noir and other red grapes naturally contain resveratrol, an antioxidant that helps boost blood flow and improves circulation before and during physical intimacy:  So that’s a positive on many different angles!

Like other forms of classy cuisine, aphrodisiac-style dishes can be even more elegant, sophisticated and complex when the dishes are matched up with superb wines.

With these factors in mind, a few weeks ago my colleague Ziggy the Wine Gal gathered together a great group of food and wine pros to taste through flavorful dishes with distinctive attributes designed by gifted chef Daniel Kedan of Backyard restaurant in Forestville, CA. Other special guests who joined in this special tasting including myself were wine writer Virginie Boone, wine and spirits pro Tim McDonald, and chef and author Michele Anna Jordan.

bourbanIn addition to a specialty sangria and Redemption High Rye Bourbon served at the beginning and the end of this provocative culinary experience, the main courses were paired with the new releases of The Calling, a high-quality brand started by Emmy Award-winning sportscaster Jim Nancy and Peter Deutsch of Deutsch Family Wines.

Here are the pairings, notes and special ingredients used in this sexy dining experience:

Aphrodisiac Inspiration & Deutsch Family Wine

Passed Appetizers
Citrus & Ceviche
Bodega Bay Rock Cod, Winter Citrus, Beet Chips
Sips: Eppa Superfruita Organic Red Sangria
Notes: This lively and expressive fruit-driven sangria helped open up the palate with perky sensations of fresh berries and pomegranate, which complemented the tangy and slightly salty flavors of the fresh seafood and citrus. Taste-tempting, crisp, fruity, and refreshing!

First Course
Point Reyes Oysters with Blood Orange Granita, Lemon Cream Lobster Bisque with Butter Poached Lobster, Chives
Sips: The Calling 2013 Dutton Ranch Vineyards Chardonnay, Russian River Valley ($32)
Notes: This power duo of raw oysters and lobster bisque matched perfectly with the attractive aromas, bright acidity, creamy texture and engaging flavors of melon, citrus and roasted nuts this wine offers in each sip.

Second Course
Roasted Maitake Mushroom
Sour Cherry & Fennel Pan Perdue, Poached Cherries
Sips: The Calling 2013 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
Notes: When done right, the pairing of exotic mushrooms and Pinot Noir can be a match made in heaven. This course was no exception. Made with fruit from selected vineyards in the Russian River Valley, the combination of wild berries, ripe cherry, dried cranberries, earth, smooth tannins, and long engaging finish helped bring out the deep flavors in this magnificent combination of cherries and mushroom that shined in this dish.

Third Course
The Calling Cabernet Sauvignon
Cocoa & Cayenne Crusted Ribeye
Wild Arugula, Pickled Pearl Onions, King Trumpet Mushrooms
Sips: The Calling 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley ($37)
Notes: One of the trademarks of a fine cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley is the combination of deep flavors and smooth tannins. On top of these classic characteristics, this new release was layered with notes of espresso beans, briary blackberry, ripe plum, blueberry, chocolate nibs, and roasted black walnuts. Our group felt this special profile worked wonders with the deep flavors and spicy tones that resonate in the Ribeye steak from the 5 Dot Ranch, the sautéed mushrooms, and even the slight bitterness of the arugula.

Fourth Course
“Cupid’s Arrow” Redemption High Rye Bourbon Profiteroles Candy Cap Ice Cream, Salted Caramel
Sips: “Cupid’s Arrow” Redemption High Rye Bourbon
Notes: Who says cocktails always have to be served at the beginning of the meal? Ziggy’s special cocktail helped reinvigorated the palate at the end of a long enjoyable luncheon. And the delectable combination of bourbon, fresh egg whites, simple syrup, ginger, citrus, and a touch of bitterness on the finish helped bring out the sweet and salty flavors in the dessert. Sexy and ohhhh so stimulating! For a recipe for this cocktail, visit

30 Wineries at the SRJC Wine Classic, Sunday Feb 21st

While I trek south to judge for the Toast of the Coast, you can enjoy this local event Sunday Feb 21st, from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm at Lawrence A. Bertolini Student Center on the Santa Rosa campus. The SRJC Wine Classic is an afternoon celebrating Honorary Co-Chairs, Chef John Ash and Gaye LeBaron. Both are prolific contributors to the history of Sonoma County food and wine and long-time supporters of Santa Rosa Junior College.

The walk-around tasting reception with 30 Sonoma County wineries pouring over 50 wines, and featuring live music, gourmet appetizer buffet, and a souvenir glass for each attendee. All proceeds will fund SRJC Wine, Culinary Arts & Hospitality programs and student scholarships. Tickets are $75 per person for adults age 21 or over and can be purchased at

KGO spot on Ryan Scott show, Sat Jan 30th, to discuss SFCWC results

The countdown to Valentine’s Day is on! This Saturday, January 30th, listen to KGO Radio 810 AM from 5-6 pm to hear the live broadcast of foodie Ryan Scott and I discussing the exciting results of the 7,200 wines that were judged at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, aphrodisiac food pairings with gold medal winning wines, and what to expect at the upcoming SFCWC Public Tasting at Fort Mason on February 13th.

For more information about the “Cooking with Ryan Scott” show visit and for tickets to the Public Tasting visit  And don’t forget to look for the special spread focused on the top medal winners in the San Francisco Chronicle on Super Bowl Sunday, February 7th.

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

A Musical Feast: David J and the Gentleman Thieves

My love of music runs deep, back to the days, and further, when I was a college DJ and wrote album reviews for the University newspaper. Especially 80’s music. I would say it equals my love of wine, a most beautiful pairing!

For that reason I am very excited to share this news from my friend Darwin Meiners about one of his current projects, David J and The Gentleman Thieves, which of course includes the founding member of Bauhaus and Love & Rockets.


They are currently cutting their first single and video filming this month in LA with Linda Strawberry directing.  It will be released on a split 7″ with Darwin’s new solo song ‘Horrible Cocoon’ on the b-side to be released on Starry Records.

I recommend catching an extraordinary live show of David J and The Gentleman Thieves. Unfortunately for me I will be leaving for Miami to judge in the American Fine Wine Competition (more on that later!) while the NorCal shows are happening but perhaps you can report back in my stead. I am eager to hear more!

JANUARY 14TH @ THE LOST CHURCH in SF:  David J performs with Chris Vibberts & Darwin.  Darwin will also open with a short, acoustic set.  Advance Tix are recommended:  TICKETS HERE!

JANUARY 15TH @ THE BIG EASY in PETALUMA:  Dominic East (from Our Lady of the Highway) opens,  David J plays second (with Chris and Darwin). Following, Darwin’s band performs, David will then join for a few Love & Rockets tunes!  TICKETS HERE!


FEBRUARY 19TH @ UCO in OKC:  David and Darwin will be performing at the University in Oklahoma City.  There may be a few surprises in store as they were invited by those Flaming Lip fellows! TICKETS HERE!

Spread the word to your friends near & far!