Category Archives: Travels

Judging at Concours Mondial in Spain 2017!

Just finished this amazing competition in the spectacular city of Valladolid, Spain and on the way home now. Concours Mondial de Bruxelles is the only touring competition in the world: Next year? China!

This year over 9080 wines from 50 countries competed for a Silver, Gold, and Grand Gold Medals. Two new categories, for old vintage and organic wines, were introduced this year.

Check out the 2017 Concours Mondial results next week at: http://results.concoursmondial.com

Epic view from the Penafiel Castle we visited in the famous winegrowing area of Ribera del Duero D.O., which is an hour away the provincial city of Valladolid, where we are staying in the Castilla y Lyon region of Spain.
Epic view from the Penafiel Castle we visited in the famous winegrowing area of Ribera del Duero D.O., which is an hour away the provincial city of Valladolid, where we are staying in the Castilla y Lyon region of Spain.
#SawyerSelfieDeluxe with my fellow American wine judges at the Concours Mondail de Bruxelles International Wine Competition (from left): Master Sommelier Robin O'Conner; Wine Business Monthly Assistant Editor Eric Kirschenmann; Wine Guru/Sommelier Charlie Arturaola of Grappolo Blu, Inc; Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen of the Wine Enthusiast/World Wine Guys.
#SawyerSelfieDeluxe with my fellow American wine judges at the Concours Mondail de Bruxelles International Wine Competition (from left): Master Sommelier Robin O’Conner; Wine Business Monthly Assistant Editor Eric Kirschenmann; Wine Guru/Sommelier Charlie Arturaola of Grappolo Blu, Inc; Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen of the Wine Enthusiast/World Wine Guys.

Try out my new Wine List at Gravenstein Grill!

The amazing halibut dish!  See more food porn below.
The amazing halibut dish! See more food porn below.

If you find your way out to Sebastopol, then be sure to stop by The Gravenstein Grill, located at 8050 Bodega Avenue in Sebastopol!  It recently opened with food by star chef Bob Simontacchi of Brick & Bottle fame.

My family and I have already sampled their menu a few times with of course fabulous wines, but there is a spacious bar with hand-crafted cocktails, and Sonoma County’s famous micro-brews to experience as well.  Looking forward to finer weather to enjoy cool sips at the outdoor patio.

Check out the Menu & make your reservation!  Restaurant opens at 5pm, the bar at 4pm; Both close at 9:30, and until 10pm Friday & Saturday (closed Tuesday).  (707) 634-6142

Hope to see you there! Christopher

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Astoria, Oregon Crab & Wine Fest! April 28-30

If only I could be in two places . . . why my obscure obsession with the coast of Oregon? Because I lived there of course! In Astoria to be exact, for two years of my High School career. A place that is still warm to my heart as well as the memories of delicious sea food. While I will be returning this summer for the many-year HS reunion, perhaps there are others that can be there this weekend for the official 35th Annual Astoria Warrenton Crab, Sea Food & Wine Festival. Running Friday April 28 through Sunday April 30th, swing by and enjoy if you happen to be in north west Oregon!

The friendly representation of Sweet Cheeks Winery at the 2015 festival!
The friendly representation of Sweet Cheeks Winery at the 2015 festival!

Laird Family Estate – Wine Train Dinner! Saturday April 22nd

Ready to ride the rails? I will be there to enjoy this exquisite four-course gourmet dinner of seasonal offerings by Chef Donald Young.  The Laird Family Estate portfolio will be tasted and discussed with Consulting Winemaker Brian Mox.

This 3 hour adventure is on the all new Napa Valley Wine Train, for the Private Reserve Dinner Series, aboard the 36-seat restyled Pullman rail car.  Boarding for the special Laird Family Estate dinner will be on Saturday April 22 at 6:30 PM,  with the train departing the station at 7:00 PM.

Reserve your tickets now!

Tastings to come at Telluride Wine Festival 2017

As I prepare another amazing experience for wineries and guests at the upcoming Telluride Wine Festival on June 22-25, thought I would share some pictures from last summer, with more to come.

Also, a reminder for wineries, this Friday April 15th is the deadline for early-bird pricing to register for our Grand Tasting event.  REGISTER HERE or please send me an email if you have any questions. Cheers! Christopher

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Irish Day Parade on March 18th in Murphys, CA!

We certainly wish we could take Twisted Oak Winery up on their invitation to the Irish Day Parade happening Saturday March 18th! My family and I stumbled upon it a few years back and were pleasantly surprised by a little parade with lots of venders, including many wineries to tempt the palate.  Totally worth the trek from where ever.

On the way there, up Ebbetts Pass (aka Hwy 4), you will breeze through the quaint town of Vallecito.  That is where you can turn off to visit the friendly folks at Twisted Oak Winery and find out more about their upcoming Twisted Folk Concert Series. The dates are set for  May 13th, June 24th, August 12th.

Let them know Chris sent you!

It’s Back! Telluride Wine Festival 2017

Word is out, Telluride Wine Festival will be June 22-25 this year, so time to get your travels plans a’ brewing! I will be there again and setting up some seriously awesome seminars. Details coming soon, but for now wineries can get signed up online with the Grand Tasting at:  2017 TWF Winery Registration

Wineries can also contact me directly about seminars,  wine@sawyersomm.com: I look forward to finding a space for you to participate!  Meanwhile, I will continue to share festival updates.  And for more information about the Telluride, CO area check out this resource:  telluride.com

Cheers! Christopher

Take a trek Behind The Cellar Door: March 4-5

Seriously!  This is an opportunity to go taste some of those foothill wines I keep telling you about.  In fact, I have 2 FREE DAY PASSES to this one, Behind the Cellar Door, for the first person to write a note to wine@sawyersomm.com with their mailing address.  What you get in return is a weekend of touring the lovely Amador County wineries, towns and landscape. The caveat?   I just ask you to report back here for all of SawyerSomm with your favorite wines from the tour.  Believe me, you will thank me for this!

For those that aren’t quick enough on the draw, you can still
purchase tickets HERE until Feb 28th.  Have fun everyone!

10th Annual American Fine Wine Invitational Judging Results!

Announcing the judging results from my trip to Miami over MLK weekend for The American Fine Wine Invitational (AFWI)!  This year 850 wines from 230 wineries were included.

The event took place  January 15 & 16 at FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management. The AFWI is the most exclusive, top tier, all-American Wine Invitational in the world, and it takes place in our back yard. Over the course of two full days, 24 judges tasted and awarded medals to the invited wines. Here are the top winners:

BEST OF SHOW

Best of Show Red –
’13 Baldacci Family, Cabernet Sauvignon “Ruppert”, Napa $125

Best of Show White
’15 Chehalem Vineyards, Gruner Veltliner, Ribbon Ridge, OR $24

Best of Show Sparkling
NV Mumm Napa, “Santana” Brut, Napa (also Best Of in 2015) $50

Best of Show Dessert Wine
’11 John Anthony Vyds Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, Napa $65

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All of the wines entered into the judging will be available for tasting at the highly anticipated 10th annual AFWI Charity Wine Gala being hosted this year at the DCOTA, and taking place on April 29th. The Gala includes a “Sparkling” reception, The Wine Walk, a magnificent wine-centric dinner, during which, the award winning wines will be poured by the AFWI “Wine Angels”, and The Winemaker of the Year Awards. There will be a live auction, a silent auction and a “Premium” wine auction, as well as live entertainment and the opportunity to dine with your favorite Dolphin player all while raising money to support The Dolphins Cancer Challenge.

More information available at www.americanfinewinecompetition.org

TASTE Restaurant & Wine Bar Bubbles Tasting: Jan 25th!

Fancy a little get away to the foothills for some amazing food paired with spectacular sparkling wines?  This would be the place to go!

Taste Restaurant in Plymouth, CA (Amador County) will have 20 different bubblies from around the world to be paired with a delectable selection of appetizers on Wednesday January 25th, 5:30-8:30pm.  This walk around educational event is fifty dollars per person.  Attendees will have the opportunity to purchase their favorites at a special discounted rate.  Reserve your flute here!

Delicious treats include
Prawn and Sausage Skewers
Truffled Popcorn
Goat Cheese and Bacon Tartlette
Oysters on the Half Shell
Caviar, Crème Fraiche and Potato
Beef skewers with peanut and red thai curry
Rice Noodle Salad
Roasted Squash Risotto Cups
Taste Sliders
Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese
Romesco and Prosciutto Deviled Eggs
Fish Cakes and Siracha Aioli
Meyer lemon tartlette
Chocolate Bites
Coconut Shortbread