Rhone & Relax in Sonoma! February 2nd

Join this Thirsty Thursday fundraiser at Suite D (21800 Schellville Road, Sonoma)!  An amazing opportunity to learn more about how you can get involved with Rhone Rangers as a winery or Rhone fan.

Rhone & Relax

February 2nd @6pm
Get tickets here!


cheese, salumi & antipasti

Passed nibbles:
gougere blt, pancetta, oven-dried tomato, basil- mini burgers, brie, red onion confit-shrimp po’boy

Wood-fired Pizza:
Sonoma-goat cheese, leeks, scallions, bacon
Funghi-quattro formaggio, wild mushrooms, chili flakes,
roasted garlic

Gelato Cart
custom flavors & toppings

Flavor! events to honor winemaker Heidi Barrett on March 23rd

Time to get your tickets, while they last, to these two exclusive events at Flavor! Napa Valley.

From Vineyard to Bottle: Exploring Napa Valley with Iconic Winemaker Heidi Barrett
Moderated by wine, food and television star Leslie Hartley-Sbrocco of KQED’s “Check, Please!”, this exclusive seminar and tasting is focused on Heidi’s secrets behind the way she captures the deep, rich and complex flavors of the fruit she works with from premier vineyards in the wines she makes for her La Sirena and Barrett & Barrett labels, as well as other special selections from the highly-touted Napa Valley brands Paradigm, Fantesca, Kenzo Estate and Lamborn Family Vineyards.
Thursday, March 23, 2017 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM

Icons Dinner honoring legendary winemaker Heidi Barrett
Celebrate some of our favorite food and wine icons at this exclusive dinner at the Silverado Resort and Spa:  A multi-course dinner will be paired with outstanding, rare Napa wines.
Host Chef Jeffrey Jake (Silverado Resort and Spa), Matthew Accarrino (SPQR), Stuart Brioza & Nicole Krasinski (State Bird Provisions and The Progress), Waldy Malouf (CIA), Ken Frank (La Toque) and Michael Schulson (Schulson Collective)
Thursday, March 23, 2017 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM

Hope to see you there to celebrate and imbibe!
Cheers,  Christopher

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 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


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

Wine Education: A look at Oakville, CA

In anticipation of the upcoming Flavor! Napa Valley, March 22-26, I would like to share some summaries I have written about the area.  Read more about Oakville below: This article and others in the region are posted at BuyWine.com.  A note about Flavor! Many of my seminars are SOLD OUT already, but some still have tickets available.  Get them while you can!

Oakville, Napa Valley, CA

If there is an epicenter of high-end Cabernet Sauvignons in the United States, there’s a good argument that it’s the Oakville appellation in Napa Valley.

Named after the beautiful oak trees native to the area, Oakville is located between the small towns of Yountville and Rutherford in Napa Valley. With a population of less than 300 people, the region is easy to recognize by nearly 4,000 acres of sweeping vineyards; the dazzling architecture of pristine wine destinations which include Robert Mondavi Winery, Far Niente, Turnbull and Opus One; a historic wine production building and current home of Napa Wine Company on the corner of Highway 29 and Oakville Crossroad, which was originally constructed by Brun & Chaix Winery in the 1880s; and the iconic gourmet food stop, the Oakville Grocery.

The first major grape plantings were developed by Hiram Crabb, who purchased 240-acres of property in the region in 1865. After initially selling table grapes and raisins, Crabb changed his focus to making wine with grapes in 1872. And by the end of the 1880s, he had over 400 grape varieties planted at his To Kalon Estate.

In Greek, To Kalon means beautiful. Following Crabb’s death, the property was sold to E.W. Churchill family in 1899. After the lovely wooden winemaking facility burned to the ground in 1939, the Churchills sold the property the following year. The section with the most diverse plantings, the Old Federal Vineyard, eventually became home to the University of California Davis Station, one of the greatest vineyard test-sites in the world. Another section became the coveted vineyard blocks owned by Robert Mondavi Winery.

When Mondavi finished building his winery in Oakville in 1966, his vision for the Oakville region and Napa Valley quickly blossomed. The elegant California mission-design of the winery was appealing to tourists and Mondavi’s focus on producing world-class wines made with Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc was a big departure from the old wines made in the region with Zinfandel and German white grape varieties.

Another legendary site in the region is Martha’s Vineyard, which was planted by Bernard and Belle Rhodes near the UC Davis experimental station in 1959. The original vineyard was 14 acres of White Riesling and 12 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, but eventually was converted to all Cabernet before Martha and Tom May purchased the property in 1963. In 1965, the family started selling grapes to Joe Heitz, a talented winemaker who went on to make a huge name for his brand and the site with a series of Martha’s Vineyard designate wines he made in the 1960s and 1970s.

As the number of vineyards increased during the late 1970s to the present, many important new brands and cult wineries were developed in Oakville, including Groth, Joseph Phelps, Franciscan Estate, Silver Oak, Swanson, Turnbull, Rudd Estate, Miner Family, Dalla Valle, Harlan Estate, and Screaming Eagle.

In 1993, Oakville became an official appellation. Stretching across the valley from the Mayacamas Mountains to the Vaca Mountains, the region is two miles wide. From a geographical standpoint, the vineyards are influenced by sunny days, cool nights, and well-drained soils that produce a plethora of elegant, complex and age worthy wines on a yearly basis. www.oakvillewinegrowers.com.

Grape Expectations

Whites: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay.

Reds: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Zinfandel, Sangiovese.

Taste Sensations

White Wines:  The Sauvignon Blancs from Oakville typically feature lively aromas of fresh fruit, citrus, lemongrass, ginger, herbs, and fresh-cut grass. The flavors are vibrant with notes of green apple, ripe melon, grapefruit, fig, passion fruit, mineral, spice, and tangy acidity.
The Chardonnays are elegant and refined with notes of ripe apple, stone fruits, caramel, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Red Wines: There is no doubt that Cabernet Sauvignon is the definitive red grape variety grown in Oakville. The profiles of the finished wines are broad, elegant and sophisticated with enticing floral aromas and concentrated flavors of dark fruits, dark cherry, black currants, blackberry, cassis, plum, fresh mint, dried herbs, and cedar; lush texture; firm tannins; and long, rewarding finishes. Many of the Cabernets are made like Bordeaux blends with smaller portions of Merlot to provide smooth, soft and elegant texture; Cabernet Franc to add balance and spice; Malbec and Petit Verdot to add more color, tannins, and depth of flavor. Although it is no longer as widely planted in the region, the Zinfandel vines that still remain produce magnificent wines with bright and expressive jammy flavors of ripe berries, licorice, and black pepper. And the Sangiovese produced by Showket, Swanson and a few other wineries in Oakville feature lively notes of ripe red fruits, cherry, plum, mineral and allspice.

Food Pairings

The vibrant flavors of the Sauvignon Blancs from Oakville pair nicely with oysters and a tangy citrus-based mignonette, prosciutto with melon, chilled soups, arugula salads with goat cheese, grilled asparagus, pan-seared white fish, and tarragon chicken. The complex Chardonnays are better to pair with fine cheeses; rich soups; salads with creamy dressings; seared scallops; lobster risotto; roasted game hens; and pork chops.

With the Cabernet Sauvignons and Bordeaux-style blends, try roasted vegetables, gourmet mac & cheese, char-grilled steaks, rack of lamb, hearty stews, and dark chocolate truffles. Zinfandels are fantastic with gourmet sausages, barbecued ribs, and spicy Mexican or Indian cuisine.
Sangiovese is a great match with ripe cheeses, salumi, creamy soups, roasted beets, pasta in a hearty red sauce, gnocchi, pork tenderloin, and grilled meats.

Jessup Cellars: 2017 Art House Short Film Series

Hurry to get tickets while you can!  Twitter reports January and February are already sold out.  So jump on the March and April TICKETS to this delightful epicurean event.

March 11 & April 8
7:00pm to 9:30pm

Jessup Cellars, in partnership with the San Jose Short Film Festival, Napa Valley Film Festival and CellarPass.com, presents the 4th Annual Art House Short Film Series.  Each gathering features four award-winning short films paired with a Jessup Cellars wine and Chef MikeC’s Wok-Popped Flavor-Infused Popcorn.  The screenings include meet-and-greets with guest filmmakers and the opportunity to purchase wines in support of indie short film projects.

Flavor! Napa Valley Discount Tickets on January 10th!

Breakfast of champions! A fabulous Flavor! Napa Valley meeting with my super pals Traci Dutton, the Beverage Director at the Culinary Institute of America campuses in St. Helena and Napa, and Napa Valley wine icon Heidi Barrett, who we will be honoring in a special seminar at COPIA and a once-in-a-lifetime dinner at the Silverado Resort on March 23rd!

Yes, you have a 24-hour window on Tuesday, January 10th to buy your individual tickets early and get a 15% discount.  Flavor! Napa Valley will be March 22-26 so get out your calendar and start planning!




In Memorium: the Reynolds-Fisher Power Duo

The year 2016 ended with the unexpected loss of two women, a mother and daughter, that shocked us all.  As a film lover I have to acknowledge this and want to refer you to an upcoming documentary on HBO this coming Saturday January 7th at 8pm.  Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds was filmed in 2015 and set for release this summer but the demand is now.  We all need one more fix of these amazing ladies!

Read this article by SF Chronicle television reviewer David Wiegand for more insight about the film:
Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher and a mother-daughter bond