SIFF video review featuring Me & Classic Wines

Take a few minutes to join me while I taste Gary Farrell, Three Sticks and Head High Wines with Feast It Forward founder Katie Hamilton Shaffer, at Sonoma International Film Festival.

Classic Wines Visits Sonoma International Film Festival from Feast it Forward on Vimeo.

Watch for live reports from me and Katie at Bottle Rock on the Feast it Forward Twitter & Instagram pages.

Lesson Plan: Catching up on the Mendocino Appellation!

After a wonderful weekend  at Andersen Valley Pinot Noir Festival, I think is it only fitting that my readers do a little Appellation homework!

Photo courtesy of John Cesano.

You can study your favorite wine regions at the site courtesy of contributions by myself and others.

Follow the windy road to Mendocino here!


 Cheers!  Christopher

“Zaca Mesa University” Santa Barbara Wine Seminar Spring 2015 – The Highlight Reel

I am sharing this highlight reel with you courtesy of the Crushed Grape Chronicles.  Zaca Mesa has turned out a plethora of amazing wine makers, my seminar led a discussion with 4 of the best!  Ken Brown, Jim Clendenen, Bob Lindquist & Eric Mohseni – read more in the CGC Article.

They will start releasing the full seminar in segments for you to enjoy on May 20th.  This will include the tasting with wine from each of these amazing winemakers.

Top 5 Picks: Wines for Mom all year long

Need a good reason to buy wine? How about making Mother’s Day an everyday celebration! Think about it: Who says honoring your mother, mother-in-law, or the mother of your child has to be reserved for one day of the year? Instead, take advantage of the great opportunities you have to exceed expectations by introducing her to tasty new styles of wine on a regular basis. To make it even more fun, you add these experiences to bigger packages that include fine dining spa treatments, and visits to wineries in the near future. In any case, the key is to not be skimpy, but instead focused and alert to learn more about the styles of wines she likes to drink.

With these ideas in mind, here are five new springtime picks and food pairings for mom. Just like SawyerSomm and Feast It Forward, the producers of these remarkable wines will be involved at the upcoming Bottle Rock festivities in Napa, May 29-31. For more information, visit

Pick #1: Brut Rosé Sparkling Wines
PRT_P11_BIG_20130503_130500Why buy mom flowers when you can give her roses in liquid form? For a delicious example, try the Schramsberg 2011 Brut Rosé, North Coast ($43). Crafted with Pinot Noir and a smaller percentage of Chardonnay grapes grown in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Marin counties; this sparkling gem features tiny bubbles and a dazzling pink hue. In the flute, the wine offers lovely aromas of ripe red berries, dried cranberry, citrus rind, brioche, mineral, and spice. The flavors are lavish, with notes of wild strawberry, watermelon, fresh squeezed citrus, ginger, a hint of vanilla, and a crisp, dry finish. Overall, it’s an elegant sparkler with enough power, complexity, and natural verve to make mom blush with each sip.

SawyerSomm food pairings: Lox & bagels, sushi, oysters with tangy mignonette, Bouillabaisse, pomegranate chicken, pork tenderloin with fresh cherry chutney, custard with fresh berries.

Schramsberg Vineyards 1400 Schramsberg Road, Calistoga, CA 94515.

Pick #2: Aromatic White Wines
If mom likes aromatic white wines, reward her with a bottle of fresh goosecrossand tangy Pinot Gris. A classy example is the Goosecross 2013 Pinot Gris, Napa Valley ($27). With fragrant aromas of spring flowers, fresh citrus, melon, ripe tree fruits, sandalwood and subtle spices, the wine features  elegant flavors of tangerine, ripe white peach, Asian pear, red apple, and a burst of vibrant acidity. Clean, crisp and refreshing—it’s a wine that keeps on giving.

SawyerSomm food pairings: Tangy cheeses, fresh appetizers, stuffed figs, spring rolls, fish tacos, wild rice salad, grilled chicken skewers with tangy aioli dip, and various styles of Vietnamese and Thai cuisine.

Goosecross Cellars, 1119 State Lane, Yountville, CA 94599.

Pick #3: Fresh, elegant styles of Chardonnay
With all the fresh fruits, produce and vegetables now so abundant at the farmer’s market, it’s a great time of the year to taste fresh miner2Chardonnays that is bright and vibrant instead of buttery and oakey. One of the tasty new releases is the Miner Family 2013 Chardonnay, Napa Valley ($30). Made with fruit grown primarily at the revered Hyde, Hudson and Genny’s vineyard properties in the Carneros District of southern Napa Valley, the wine features lovely aromas of ripe stone fruits, exotic melon, fresh citrus, and cinnamon. In the glass, the flavors expand with notes of crisp apple, coconut, lemon, grapefruit, sage, mineral, racy acidity, and a long, engaging finish.

SawyerSomm food pairings: Medium cheeses, gourmet salads, grilled fish with fruit salsa, seafood pasta with a tangy white sauce, risotto with lemon and fresh herbs, grilled chicken and pork chops.

Miner Family Winery, 7859 Silverado Trail, Oakville, CA  94562.

Pick #4: Smooth and complex Merlot is back
For mothers who prefer drinking sophisticated red wines with smooth texture, a great choice is Merlot. Over the past decade, clomerlot2Merlot-based wines from the New World have suffered setbacks due to the rising popularity of Pinot Noir and the misunderstood statements from the film Sideways. Thankfully, the worst is now behind us and the end result is bright, fruit-forward wine with more backbone and layers of flavor. A charming example is the Clos du Val 2012 Merlot, Napa Valley ($35), which includes lofty aromas of ripe plum, red berries, espresso, and spice; robust flavors of cherry, plum, raspberry and dark chocolate; smooth velvety tannins; and a long finish. If mom doesn’t say a word for a few minutes, she’s probably just enjoying the elegant and sophisticated profile crafted by gifted winemaker Kristy Melton.

SawyerSomm food pairings: Gourmet Mac n’ Cheese, grilled vegetables, grilled salmon, seared Ahi with espresso rub, fresh pasta with truffle, gamey meats, deluxe burgers, and slow roasted beef brisket.

Clos du Val Winery, 5330 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94557.

Pick #5: Classy Red Wines with power and finesse
jamieson2If mom prefers full-bodied red wines, a magnificent new release is the Jamieson Ranch 2012 “Double Lariat” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($60). Highlighted with aromas of wild berries, licorice, fresh tobacco and roasted black walnuts, the wine expands in the palate with generous flavors of dark cherry, blackberry, fresh currant, cassis, allspice, and fine French oak. The mouthful is plush with chewy tannins, firm structure, and a long, elegant, and rewarding finish.

SawyerSomm food pairings: Blue cheese, tartlets with wild mushrooms, seared duck breast, roast lamb, grilled steaks, and braised meats.

Jamieson Ranch, 1 Kirkland Ranch Road, American Canyon, CA 94503.

Never too late to celebrate Cinco!

I am excited not only to share this piece I wrote, regarding delicious wine and Mexican food pairings for Cinco de Mayo festivities, but also to introduce you to

I have been writing in-depth appellation descriptors for the site over the last year in preparation for them to go LIVE!!! Take time to read my article and peruse the possibilities for your wine purchasing future. . .


Taste Winners of North Coast Wine Challenge 2015!

On April 14th & 15th I helped judge the North Coast Wine Challenge in Santa Rosa.  The judging compares select California North Coast AVAs including Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Sonoma, and Marin and parts of Solano County.  As recently announced the 2015 winner is. . .

ROCHE 2013 Carneros Chardonnay French Oak Reserve!

Congratulations to all the winners, search the List and follow-up with a summary in this Press Democrat article.

tasting_mashead_ver3Now you have a chance to taste over 80 Gold Medal  winners at the North Coast Wine Challenge Tasting hosted by the Press Democrat on Sunday May 17, 1-4pm, at The Barlow in Sebastopol.  It will feature the highest scoring wines from the 2015 judging.

This year, the event will include Storytellers & Innovators. Guests will be able to hear from and meet pioneers of the past and today’s innovators to learn what’s new in winemaking in California’s North Coast.  There will also be a pre-event seminar, 11:30 – 12:30 pm:
A Conversation with Gold Medal Wine Makers and Award-Winning Chefs  

Get your tickets now!

Drink Pink!

Time for a spring awakening with a pink twist: I’m happy to say that the results are in from the Rosé Wine Competition I judged on March 25 at Simi Winery in Healdsburg. Started by my pal, Napa-based wine and travel writer Bob Ecker, this is the largest competition of pink wines in the United States. Of the 192 entries, 155 received medals.

The Best in Class from the “Dry” Rosé Category was won by Martin Ray Vineyards of Santa Rosa, California.  The Best in Class from the “A Little Sweet” Rosé Category was a Rose from Truett Hurst Winery from Healdsburg, California. These wines were from 19 different states and all the unique interpretations of pink wines were tasted blind.

My fellow judges at the competition included Denise Gill, Debra Del Fiorentino, Sue Straight, Debra Parker Wong, Rick Fraga and Ray Johnson. The full list of awards can be found at The Rosé Competition.

The Gold Medal winning Rosé wines will be featured at a special tasting at Simi Winery on May 30th. Stay tuned for more details about the event. In the meantime, don’t forget to drink pink!