Category Archives: Sommelier

Postponed—Wine Wednesday for Sawyer’s 50th & November Schedule Updates

Recent events call for an updated schedule.  There will be NO WINE WEDNESDAY on October 30th, due to the Sebastopol power outage, recent evacuations and ongoing Kincade Fire!

The new date is November 13th (details below), and will additionally support the Sonoma County Resilience Fund, which supports our community’s recovery by helping individuals impacted by the fires, healing the long-term effects of trauma, and creating housing solutions for our community.

So plan to trek on over to Gravenstein Grill in Sebastopol to experience any Wine Wednesday tasting in November!  It is weekly in the Bartlett Bar from 5:30-7pm, and an excellent opportunity to enjoy a free wine tasting with a local wine producer, see schedule below:

November 6Preston Farm & Winery

November 13th: Sommelier Chris Sawyer celebrates his 50th with the GG crew and four special vintners!  Breaking Bread Wines, Kokomo Winery, Radio-Coteau, Bacigalupi Vineyards
Wear a costume, taste some wine and come give cheers to Sawyer Somm!!!

November 20People’s Wine Revolution

8050 Bodega Ave
Sebastopol, California

Voting Time! Bohemian Best of for 2020

Get your warm beverage, set at the desk and prepare to peruse the Sonoma County list of categories! I am hoping to retain my incumbency: I humbly request your vote as Best Sommelier.

If you need some reasons why to submit my name then maybe you need to have an Exclusive Sommelier Wine Tour, or private wine dinner with Fire & Vine, or just go to the Gravenstein Grill and sample from my wine list.  Why not?  Enjoy and happy voting!

Best Sommelier Christopher Sawyer
Best Restaurant & Wine List Gravenstein Grill

VOTE HERE!

Here is my ENTIRE list of recommendations if you have the time!
Best Chef (Bob Simontacchi​)
Best Outdoor Dining
Best Brunch
Best Burger (featuring Sonoma Mountain Beef Company
& Willie Bird Turkeys)
Best Business Lunch
Best Server⁄Restaurant
Best Wine & Food Experience
Best Romantic Dinner
Best Bartender
Best Fried Chicken
Best Happy Hour

Wine Wednesdays @Gravenstein Grill: The Autumn Schedule!

For those that have not yet explored this event, trek on over to Gravenstein Grill in Sebastopol to join a Wine Wednesday tasting!  It is weekly in the Bartlett Bar from 5:30-7pm, an excellent opportunity to enjoy a free wine tasting with a local wine producer!

Here is the Autumn guest list,  also note the special WW event happening on October 30th, details below!

October 9:  Keller Estate
October 16:  Hook & Ladder Winery
October 23:  Halleck Vineyards

October 30:
Sommelier Chris Sawyer celebrates his 50th with the GG crew and four special vintners!  Breaking Bread Wines, Kokomo Winery, Radio-Coteau, Talisman Wine
Wear a costume, taste some wine and come give cheers to Sawyer Somm!!!

November 6:  Preston Farm & Winery
November 13:  Bacigalupi Vineyards
November 20:  People’s Wine Revolution

8050 Bodega Ave
Sebastopol, California

Thinking Pink: A summertime favorite!

If you don’t frequent The Somm Journal, you may have missed the truncated version of my article The Pink Tide: Sonoma County Rosé this June.  Enjoy the read, try some of them out before the temperature cools down! ~CS

Although he is well-known in the winemaking circuit for his ability to craft world-class offerings of Pinot Noirs, cool-climate Syrahs and other red and white varietals during his stints at Paul Hobbs and Kosta Brown wineries in Sonoma County and the eponymous Shane label he started in 2006, Shane Finley is also a true believe in dry pink wines.

For Finley, it’s a journey that began in 2002, when he fell in love with crisp, clean and stylish pink wines while working a year-long internship at Domaine Pierre Gaillard in Cote-Rotie. As an homage to the region, he made the first few vintages for his Shane label with Syrah and Grenache before switching to focus on Pinot Noir.

As the years have passed, Finley has gotten pickier about the sites and Pinot clones he worked with for his pink program. He’s also shifted towards using more stainless-steel and neutral barrels to capture fresher flavors and minerality instead of overshadowing them with oak in the cellar.

This attention to detail shows in the new release of the Shane 2018 Ma Fille Rosé. Made with fruit from the Sonoma Coast, the wine dazzles the senses with enchanting aromas and lively flavors of ripe red fruits, watermelon, citrus, and a hint of saltiness leading to a long, zesty finish.

But rest assured, Finley is definitely not the only one committed to making high-quality roses these days. This is especially true in Sonoma County, where a plethora of boutique producers are now working with a diverse selection of red grape varieties to create new styles of dry pink wines that invigorate the senses and provide a growing number of consumers freshness, bright acidity, and balance in every sip.

This is a sweeping change in comparison to the days when import brands like Mateus and Lancers, White Zinfandel and ubiquitous wines with the title “blush” led most consumers to think all pink wines were sweet. But change can be a good thing—especially over the past decade. Or, as Finley puts it: “It really is incredible when you think about the shift from no one wanting it to everyone making it has happened in a ten-year period.”

Another Sonoma County winemaker helping nurture this “rosé everyday” movement is Rick Davis of Calstar Cellars, who makes his Pinot Meunier with grapes from the Balletto Vineyard in Russian River Valley that were originally used to make sparkling wine.

In comparison to the Pinot Noir grapes he works with for his red wine program, Davis says Pinot Meunier is well-suited for making rosé because the thicker skin and higher levels of tannins allow him to produce and preserve the natural color, flavors, acidity and structure with less skin contact. The end result is a fresh, clean and vibrant wine that always comes out between 13.8 to 14.3 percent alcohol.

As a consulting winemaker at Halleck Vineyards, Davis made the Sebastopol-based winery’s debut release of an adventurous, bone-dry style of White Zinfandel with fruit sourced from the De La Montoya Vineyard on the border of the Russian River and Dry Creek Valley appellations in 2018. Once picked, Davis let the skins soak with the juice overnight before pressing it the next morning. By aging 30 percent in neutral barrels, he was able to create more distinct flavors, texture and a lovely light magenta hue without compromising quality.

Another important factor that makes the rise of dry pink wines more than a trend is how well they pair with fresh cuisine. Winemaker Bill Nachbaur of Acorn Winery took these thoughts to mind when he and his wife Betsy began crafting their Italian-style rosato with Sangiovese grapes grown at their Alegria Vineyard near Healdsburg in 2005.

To match the more diverse styles of cuisine now being offered at restaurants, seasonal meals and social gatherings, the style of the Acorn Rosato has shifted to a more classic field blend that is more representative of the estate as a whole. The most recent example is the 2018 vintage, which contains with 41% Sangiovese, 30% Zinfandel, 15% Syrah, 11% Dolcetto, 10% Cabernet Franc and 3% others varietals from the old vines planted in the 1880s.

“Our ultimate goal is to make a classy pink wine that is distinct, delicious and substantial enough to set it apart from your typical porch pounders and other sweet pink wines that are made for sipping in hot tubs,” says Nachbaur.

Caribbean at Christmastime: Pinot in Paradise Wine Cruise!

Imagine this.  Seven days of luxurious ocean travel with three special ports to explore along the way; San Juan in Puerto Rico, Totola in the British Virgin Islands and Philipsburg at St. Maarten.  And wine!  Aboard ship, I will be hosting special Costco member-only tastings, pairings and more, focused on Pinot Noir wines.

Then, at each of these scenic Eastern Caribbean ports, enjoy soft white beaches, clear blue waters and deep green landscapes; Historic Puerto Rico, with its imposing forts and rhythmic salsa; Nearby St. Maarten, sample cheese on the Dutch side and wine on the French side.

Join my family and I for this exciting adventure!
Departing December 15 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida:
Returning December 22.

SEE TRAVEL INFORMATION HERE. . .

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From Telluride to Sebastopol!

To prepare for the 4th of July festivities, join me at Gravenstein Grill for Wine Wednesday from 5:30-7:00 pm on July 3rd for a special pouring of world-class wines from Sonoma County that will prime the palate for our national holiday and other fun activities happening with family, friends and the staff at Gravestein Grill in summertime!

The July guest list for Wine Wednesday!

July 10:  Jigar Wines

July 17:  O’Connell Vineyards

July 24:  Miramar Torres

July 31 & beyond. . . more to come!

Here comes the Telluride Wine Festival! June 27-30

I am looking forward to another visit to the mile-high town, with lots of delicious wines, foods and friends!  Why join me there for my fourth year?  The Telluride Wine Festival is a community event that’s not only fun; it is also an opportunity to experience epicurean delights with other people who love food and wine! You’ll learn about what wines you like and why…enjoy creative wine and food pairings…and how to craft fabulous cocktails.

Check out this winery line-up for the 38th year!

Celebrating Colorado with local favorites: Red Fox Cellars, Four Leaves, Vinne Ferra, Chill Switch Winery and The Storm Cellar.

More Select Wineries: Alpha Omega Collective, Aratás Winery, Bodega de Edgar, Carpenter Wine, Belharra, Canard Vineyard, Chateau D’Esclans, J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines, Llamas Family Wines, Kinsella Estate, Oakville East Exposure, Peachy Canyon Wine, Pellet Estate,  Skylark Wine, Tamber Bey Vineyards, Thirty Seven Winery, 2Hawk Winery, Turnbull Wine Cellars, VGS Chateau Potelle, Zinke Winery and two Champagne Houses–Laurent Perrier and Freixenent-Mionetto!

Peruse the list of EVENTS, including my fabulous seminars:  “Sommelier Winemakers: The Double Edge” & “Bubbles & Stills: Building a Bridge between Champagne and New World Varietals

Ready to pack your bags yet?  Hope to see you there!

Follow the updates at Facebook, Instagram & Twitter!

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Immersion: Vineyard Exploration + Tasting @Signature Sonoma Valley – May 17th!

Make time for this  CLONAL EXPLORATION I will be moderating, a Signature Sonoma Valley  seminar with guest panelists from Gloria Ferrer.  I am looking forward to exploring the extensive clonal research projects Gloria Ferrer has done in conjunction with my alma mater UC Davis. The studies were specifically about sparkling wine, and more than 40 clones of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, 18 of which were brought for the first time from Champagne, France.

FEATURING WINES FROM GLORIA FERRER CAVES & VINEYARDS

Mike Crumly, VP of Production, led Gloria Ferrer as one of the great Pinot Noir pioneers in the 1980’s, will lead guests on an exciting vineyard exploration, exploring various clone trials currently in the field. Guests will even get the opportunity to see a replant of one of the original clone trial vineyard blocks – a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. Following the vineyard exploration, Winemaker Steven Urberg will lead guests in a tasting of single Pinot Noir clones – some Dijon and Swiss clones, as well as some California clone selections – discovering the unique characteristics of each.

Signature Sonoma Valley is a distinctive wine experience that happens May 17-19 this year.  From the heights of Moon Mountain to the windswept hills of Carneros, Signature Sonoma Valley is a uniquely exclusive immersion into the incomparable wines, acclaimed vineyards and legendary wine community of Sonoma Valley. Be one of the few to experience this highly-curated wine weekend with unprecedented access to over 80 sommelier-selected wines and the 100+ celebrated vintners and winegrowers who craft them.

Signature Sonoma Valley tickets are available to purchase
individually, or via the weekend package at www.SonomaValleyWine.com/Signature-Sonoma-Valley.

Make your way to Rosé at Gravenstein Grill on April 18th!

Join us for the first event of Gravenstein Grill‘s second annual Summer Wine Series for a taste of the AMAZING new Rosé releases by Sonoma County wineries!

On April 18th, from 5:30-7:30,  enjoy sips and appetizers with these participating wineries; Radio-Coteau, Kokomo Winery, Papapietro Perry Winery, Balletto Vineyards & Winery, Talisman Wines (Official Fan Page), Claypool Cellars, ACORN Winery, Rodney Strong Vineyards, Jigar Wines, The Larsen Projekt, Muscardini Cellars, Halleck Vineyard, RED CAR WINE and many more stylish producers of dry pink wines!

All for $25: Get your TICKETS!

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There will also be live music in outdoor on our Grove Patio, so come ready to eat, drink, mingle and have a great time in West Sonoma Wine Country!

 

Double Win in Best of Bohemian for 2019!

That’s right!  I won Best Sommelier for the 6th year running, but now add Best Wine List to that.  Have you tried out my award winning wine list at Gravenstein Grill yet?  Time to check it out and get some delicious food by the fabulous Chef Bob Simontacchi to pair!

THANK YOU for all your votes and support!  Hope to be seeing more of you at Gravenstein Grill soon.

Cheers! Christopher

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