Category Archives: Sommelier

Tune in to CellarPass TV Next Week!

Join the excitement on  CellarPass TV,  broadcasting Mondays & Thursdays from 6PM – 7PM Pacific, featuring interviews with special guests from the wine industry & beyond.  Next week I am a featured guest alongside the following notables. . .

April 6, Monday:  Co-founder of Ginny’s Gin, Ginny Sweeney, & NBA star, Todd MacCulloch

April 9, Thursday: CEO & vintner, Joy Sterling of Iron Horse Vineyards & comedian Dan Rosenberg

You will get to know what inspired them to jump into their career, what their passions are, what they like to drink, wear and who knows?!  Be sure to submit your questions during the broadcast so that we can answer them On Air LIVE!

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Clockwise:  Chris, Ginny’s Gin, Todd MacCulloch & Joy Sterling!

Going Virtual! Julie Johnson of Tres Sabores Wines and I Join Forces this Tuesday!

Join me with Tres Sabores for their next live tasting party,  Tuesday March 31st at 4pm live on Instagram with Tres Sabores & Sawyer Sommelier!  Delight in a little wine, a little conversation and some delectable suggestions for your enjoyment!

Wine!
2016 Por que no?
2014 Por que no?
2013 Rutherford Perspective Cabernet

Food Pairing!
Crispy Rancho Gordo Beans with Two Sauces (Frijoles Bravas)

Also an opportunity to purchase this two-day limited “library” release through the Tres Sabores online store or call 707-967-8027

 

Announcing . . .

. . . the Bohemian Magazine 2020 Best Sommelier of Sonoma County award goes to Christopher Sawyer!!!!

A big THANK YOU to all that took the time to vote and grant me this honor for the seventh year in a row!

I look forward to seeing you at a wine event or two over the next year, but in any case be sure to check out my Wine List at Gravenstein Grill when you get the chance:  Raising a glass to all my amazing supporters!

CHEERS! Christopher

Read My Work About Rhône & Somm Camp in the Latest Somm Journal!

In between all my comings and goings there is a wee space to satiate my journalistic beginnings.  In addition to my occasional Sawyer Somm blog posts, take a minute to peruse some industry magazines either in print or online.  The 2020 February/March issue of  The SOMM Journal is a great place to start with my two published pieces!

 

My column Inside Sonoma is on  page 18.
Here to Stay: Sonoma County Producers Continue to Embrace Rhône Varieties

My article about The SOMM Journal Camp is on page 100.
With Love From The Russian River Valley: DeLoach Vineyards Leads SOMM Campers in a Regional Exploration of Wine and Vine

Happy Reading! Chris

On My Way to Pinot in Paradise: The Ultimate Wine Cruise!

It is the final stretch, next weekend we depart toward our embarkment in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  The Celebrity Edge, with Costco Travel, sets sail towards the Eastern Caribbean on Sunday December 15th into an amazing row of islands with three spectacular stops: Puerto Rico, Tortola and St. Maarten.

I will be hosting a Pinot Noir reception, two seminars and a specialized luncheon.  For those fortunate enough to be joining me, or just PN curious,  then take a gander at the delicious Pinot Noir selection and education to be gained on the journey!

Pinot in Paradise Reception: To start the cruise off in style, the opening night reception will allow me to meet the guests.  I will greet them with wine and give a short overview of the Passion For Pinot Wine Cruise events taking place over the next few days.
Featuring:  Cline Cellars, Gloria Ferrer Vineyards, Olivet Lane & Rodney Strong!

Breathless Wines!
Breathless Wines!

Pinot Noir Seminar #1: From Genus to Genius
On route to the Caribbean, I will cover the history of this noble grape in Burgundy and the Old World; the genetic offspring of the varietal (Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Meunier); and the emergence of this beloved grape and delicious new styles of sophisticated wines that have become the calling cards for the cool-climate regions of Sonoma County and other special winegrowing regions on the West Coast over the past 50 years.
Featuring:  Bacigalupi Vineyards, Breathless Wines, Rodney Strong & Roessler Wine Cellars!

Pinot Noir Seminar #2: Going Coastal
This special seminar will focus on a special series of cool-climate appellations, the term terroir, and the unique styles of world-class Pinot Noirs being made in the top regions of Northern California. A rare opportunity to taste and discuss the unique characteristics of each of these wines and how they represent the wonderful growing conditions in every sip.
Featuring:  Davis Bynum Winery, Gloria Ferrer Vineyards, Thirty-Seven & Zina Hyde Cunningham Winery!

Scherrer Pinot Noir!
Scherrer Pinot Noir!

Pinot in Paradise Luncheon
This extravagant luncheon focuses on top producers, revered vineyard sites, delicious flavor profiles of wines, and the history of the Russian River Valley appellation in Sonoma County.  I pair each wine with delicious dishes making the experience that much more memorable!
Featuring:  Balletto Vineyards, Davis Bynum & Scherrer Winery!

Embarking on my amazing Pinot adventure, try these wines at home to create your own!  Cheers, Chris

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Looking forward to the amazing views inTortola BVI; Bacigalupi & Rodney Strong  are both featured in my Genus to Genius seminar!

 

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.