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When looking back on 2015 it is clear we have shared some great wineries offering unique flavors, sought after views, and incredible architecture. We hope that you were able to enjoy some of these great venues and the many high-quality products they offer. The new year presents a great opportunity to step into a world of excitement and explore some award- winning wine destinations. Below we have listed 10 noteworthy establishments we know you will love. Enjoy!

Patz & Hall
Patz & Hall is defined by its excellent Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs that have drawn national attention and even earned the winery the title as one of the top 100 wineries in the world according to by a major wine publication.  In 2014, the doors opened to the new home for Patz & Hall – Sonoma House at Patz & Hall in the heart of Sonoma County wine country. The stunning building is set on an idyllic property surrounded by vineyards and mountains. Inside, there are numerous inviting spots for intimate tasting experiences, while outside, a gorgeous patio awaits.

Palace Hotel - KWGPalace Hotel
In 1875 the Palace Hotel opened its doors in San Francisco for the first time with a luxurious ambiance that has continued to impress thousands of guests for over a century.  Today, The Palace Hotel continues to maintain its luxurious standard by highlighting the original architecture and authentic elements while pairing them with classically inspired, modern décor. Recent renovations capture stunning city views and provide guests elegant accommodations.  Hotel services and amenities include: three different on-site restaurants, a beautiful indoor heated pool with a view, state of the art fitness center, and much more!

Heathman Kirkland Resort
One of the main reasons that guests are so drawn into the Heathman Hotel is the fact that it is merely steps away from the azure waters of Lake Washington. It’s a peaceful oasis amid the bustle of suburban Kirkland on the outskirts of Seattle.  The upscale boutique hotel exudes elegance and warmth, pampering guests with special services and amenities. After a day out on the town, guests can return for dinner at the hotel’s renowned restaurant, Trellis, a wine country inspired eatery that features true farm-to-table cuisine on its seasonal menu prepared by executive Chef, Brian Scheehser.

Napa Cellars - KWGNapa Cellars
Founded in 1968, Napa Cellars crafts wine that expresses the characteristics that have become widely recognized as the classic, Napa Valley style: ripe, rich, and balanced. The inviting tasting room sits alongside St. Helena Highway, surrounded by picturesque Oakville vineyards and is open daily to all. Many guests bring along a picnic lunch to enjoy on the patio after their tasting. Guests are also encouraged to stay awhile so they can thoroughly absorb the friendly vibe and the very special sense of place that’s the heart and soul of the Napa Valley.

Nottingham Cellars
Skillful craftsmanship and distinct microclimates are two important reasons that Nottingham Cellars is a name that is synonymous with premium quality, Livermore Valley wine. Vintage after vintage, Nottingham Cellars wines receive top awards, high acclaim, and many 90-plus scores from the world’s top critics. It’s evident that this passionate family-owned and-operated winery will be decisive in writing the next chapter in the history of Livermore Valley wine.  So don’t miss the opportunity to visit the tasting room and experience it for yourself!

Vino Noceto - KWGVino Noceto
In 1984 Jim and Suzie Gullet purchased their first vineyard parcel with a unique idea that turned a lot of heads from many of the neighboring wineries.  In an area that was essentially a sea of zinfandel, the Gullet’s decided their property was a perfect environment for the Sangiovese grape. Today, Vino Noceto is a renowned Sangiovese specialist, producing eight different premium Sangiovese wines as well as an array of Italian and foothill varietals, including Pinot Grigio, Barbera, Zinfandel, and Moscato. Visitors can enjoy a variety of tasting options from the country inspired tasting room in the vineyard’s picturesque big red barn.

Icicle Village Resort
Because of its ideal proximity to the Cascade Mountains and the Bavarian village of Leavenworth, WA, Icicle Village Resort is the perfect all-season destination for guests seeking quality family time, outdoor adventure, romance, or a bit of everything! Regardless of the season, there are many amenities to enjoy including: a seasonal outdoor sport court and a sports bar with a 75-inch television screen that can be enjoyed all-year-round. The onsite activity center can schedule fun activities for its youngest guests so that the adults can enjoy some of the luxurious spa and salon services at the Alpine Spa including: facials, therapeutic massages, body treatments, manicures and pedicures, and much more.

Beringer-KWGBeringer Vineyards
At Beringer Vineyards there is 130 years of rich history for visitors to explore. As Napa’s oldest functioning winery, it’s no surprise that Beringer is the only winery to win Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year for both a red and a white wine. Beringer hosts several tasting experiences including the Cave Legacy tour; wine and food pairings, an exclusive tasting of the Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from different vintages, and tastings in many unique spots like the Old Winery: the mansion’s ornate reserve tasting bar, and the wraparound porch of the Rhine House.  Beringer is truly a one-of-a-kind destination that you must experience for yourself.

Mettler Family Vineyards
Throughout eight generations in the grape growing industry, Mettler Family Vineyards has cultivated an unrivaled kinship with the earth. The Mettlers have chosen to run their farm as both sustainable and Certified Organic. Their wines stand up in both domestic and international competitions and the tasting room is a “must-see” nestled in the middle of 25 acres of vineyards.

The following article was provided by our contributing partner – Touring and Tasting Magazine.
Cheers – Ken

As we approach New Year’s Eve we always like to share our favorite Sparkling Wines and Champagnes that we discovered this fall. Below is a list of the winners that Nicolay (Chief Bubblehead), our Tasting Panel, and I found this fall. That said, we will start with my two favorite sparklers that I came across.

Schramsberg-2011-Blanc-de-NoirThe 2011 Schramsberg “Blanc de Noirs” for $41 seems to excel each year. The 2011 opens with lots of small bubbles and a mild pear bouquet with a hint of orange and bread dough. Our mini-tasting group found it to be light bodied, fresh and elegant. We loved its mineral infused lemon flavors with hints of bread dough and faint strawberry. It is very food friendly and we suggested serving it with grilled swordfish skewers.

Another terrific discovery that I found this summer at the Blogger’s conference in the Finger Lakes was the 2009 Hermann Wiemer “Blanc de Blanc” for $45. This 92 point gem is light bodied, slightly acidic and fresh. I really liked its tasty apple flavors with notes of lemon and gentle minerality. This sparkler would pair perfectly with oysters. Note: This bubbly is only available via the website or at the winery and they didn’t make much of it. So hurry up an place an order.

Besserat-de-Bellefon-NV-Cuvee-des-Moines-Blanc-de-Blanc-Dec-2015Our last 92 pointer and our top Champagne is the non-vintage Besserat de Bellefon “Cuvee des Moines Brut Blanc de Blancs” for $70. It is always one of Nicolay’s favorites and it is as classic as Champagne can get. It displays exciting notes of brioche, roasted cashews, and creme brulee on the palate. It finishes with bright acidity and long lasting flavors. Another gem to consider with oysters.

Our first two 91 pointers are values when compared to the other high scoring offerings. The first is the non-vintage Ferrari “Brut” for $25. Nicolay fell this if there was ever a true substitute for Champagne, this offering is as close as it gets in terms of style. It displays fruits like Golden Delicious, Asian pear, and Bartlett pear along with deeper tones like creme brulee and caramel as well. Its finish is long, yeasty and bright!

Schramsberg-NV-Mirabelle-Brut-Rose-Dec-2015Our second very good value is the non-vintage Schramsberg “Mirabelle Brut Rose.” Nicolay thought this one was as good as the “Estate Brut Rose” that the Panel recommended. (See below) The main difference is this offering is $29 while the “Estate Brut Rose” is $44. The Mirabelle’s flavor profile is huckleberry, cassis, pomegranate, and dragon fruit along with hints of mint, ginger, and toast towards the end. Nicolay gave it an A+, especially at this price point. That said, the 2012 Schramsberg “Brut Rose” is no slouch. I challenge readers to try these two side by side and tell us which one you liked better. In both cases, you clearly will not be disappointed. According to the panel, the big brother is full bodied, pleasantly acidity, and approachable. We all liked its tasty mild red raspberry and strawberry flavors with notes of minerality and hints of plum, watermelon and toast. As you can see both of these Rose’s from Schramsburg are quite complex. The panel suggested pairing this one with fresh sliced salmon or a lobster casserole.

Charles-Heidsieck-NV-Brut-Reserve-Oct-15We close our 91 pointers with two Champagnes. The first is the very consistent non-vintage Charles Heidsieck “Brut Reserve” for $65. This sparkler always finishes near the top of our tastings. The current blend is light bodied, elegant and smooth. The panel really enjoyed its mild mineral infused green apple flavors with hints of lemon verbena, pineapple and toasty oak. This bubbly finishes dry and fades away nicely. You can pair it with smoked Gouda.

Next up is the non-vintage Besserat de Bellefon “Cuvee des Moines Brut Rose” Champagne for $65. This most Pinot Meunier blend is full bodied, slightly acidic, round and totally fills your mouth. The panel was impressed with its mineral infused mild pink grapefruit flavors with notes of watermelon, tangerine and cranberry. This beauty shows nice length as it fades away. This panel suggested pairing this food friendly Champagne with dried fruit stuffed game bird or Stuart’s cranberry apple crisp.

Finca-Hispana-Brut-Imperial-Reserva-CavaOur next cluster of recommendations is our 90 point wines. There are ten of these. We will start with a great value Cava that Nicolay discovered. It is a non-vintage Cava from Finca Hispana.  Their “Brut Imperial Reserva” for $15 is an extraordinary value. It delivers upfront notes of apples, peaches, and Bartlett pears. The mid-palate is rounded out by tropical flavors like pineapples, mangos, and papaya while the finish has the standard brioche found in well-made sparklers. The finish was one of the longest Nicolay covered.

Gloria-Ferrer-Sonoma-Brut-Dec-15Our next few 90 pointers is a block of three from Gloria Ferrer. Nicolay feels the Gloria Ferrer portfolio is an unsung hero in the domestic sparkling wine scene. They regularly produce high-class wines for half the price of the big boys out of Champagne. These three all cost $22 per bottle. So each one is a very good value. The non-vintage “Sonoma Brut” is made mostly from Pinot Noir. It displays plenty of upfront fruit. You will find caramel, white peaches, wet stone, pear flavors along with hints of toasted bread. The non-vintage “Blanc de Blancs” opens up with notes of blood orange, kumquats, pink guavas, honeyed citrus fruit, and hints of lychee fruit. From the front of the palate to the finish, this sparkler leaves nothing at the table. It finishes medium to long, while displaying ripe citrus fruits. The last one was Nicolay’s favorite of these three. The non-vintage “Blanc de Noirs” has a nose that reminded him of a fresh summer fruit salad. Watermelon, honeydew melon, fresh cut strawberries, and raspberries that jump from the glass. On the palate, you will find raspberry creme brulee flavors on the mid-palate and it finishes with a Meyer lemon. Try them all this New Year’s Eve and vote for your favorite.

Dr. Konstantin Frank 2008 “Chateau Frank Brut” (Finger Lakes, NY) $25 (90)
This Sparkler from the Finger Lakes won over the Tasting Panel. It is medium bodied with a nice blend of acidity and fruit. They enjoyed its mild mineral infused gentle tart lemon flavors with notes of tangerine and a hint of Pink Lady apples. The panel suggested pairing this with steamed mussels.

Schramsberg NV “Mirabelle Brut” (California) $27 (90)
Although this isn’t quite the same as the Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, Rose, and Blanc de Noirs it is a very good substitute. It has notes of toasted bread with butter and fig jam. In addition, there are notes of dried grapes, candied dates, and the slightest hint of aged cheddar.Huguet-2008-Brut-Nature-Grand-Reserve-Cava

Huguet 2008 “Gran Reserva Cava” (Cataluna, Spain) $29 (90)
This nice sparkler was a crowd pleaser with the Panel. It displays tiny bubbles and a fragrant bread dough, green apple, and wet stone bouquet. The panel found it to be creamy and approachable. They really liked its tasty mineral infused green apple with hints of lime, strawberry, saline, and ginger. The suggested pairing spring rolls and sushi.

Schramsberg 2012 “Blanc de Blanc” (North Coast, CA) $39 (90)
This Schramsberg sparkler once again performed very well for the tasting panel. It is medium bodied, easy going and fresh. The flavor profile is lemon with notes of mild minerality and green apple. We also detected hints of bread dough and strawberry. The panel suggested pairing this very good sparkler with grilled lime shrimp or a baked scallop casserole.

Gloria Ferrar 2007 “Royal Cuvee” (Carneros, California) $40 (90)
This Sparkler from Carneros opens with an appealing Granny Smith apple, Anjou pear and wet stone bouquet with a hint of wild rose. The panel found it to be medium bodied, slightly acidic, and brisk with mineral infused mild lemon flavors. They also picked up some hints of caramel, tangerine and almond. The panel’s pairing this sparkler with Coquille St. Jacques or grilled tuna.

Mumm-Napa-2008-DVXMumm Napa 2008 “DVX” (Napa Valley, California) $60 (90)
This sparkler displayed very fine bubbles along with a mild lemon and wet stone bouquet with hints of bread toast and faint grapefruit. It was more full bodied than most. It was also pleasantly acidic, elegant and fresh. Its mineral infused tangerine flavors with notes of bread dough with hints of grapefruit, Granny Smith apples, and lime were well received. It was food friendly received several food suggestions, like broiled scallops, cherrystones, or lobster bisque.

Lucien Albrecht NV “Cremant d’Alsace Rose” (Alsace, FR) $17 (89)
A nice sun kissed pink color, this Rose opens with pink guava, watermelon, fresh raspberry, and hints of mint. The palate is fresh and vibrant, displaying notes of eucalyptus, hints of cinnamon, Asian apples, and washed strawberries. The finish is medium in length, but very clean.

Chateau-Frank-NV-Celebre-CremantChateau Frank NV “Celebre Cremant” (Finger Lakes, NY) $21 (89)
This sparkler is made from 100% Riesling. It is light bodied, balanced and fresh. I liked its tasty lemon flavors with hints of nicely integrated minerality. I would serve this good value sparkler as an opening aperitif with quiche Lorraine appetizers.

Chateau Frank 2009 “Blanc de Blancs” (Finger Lakes, NY) $30 (89)
This is another great example of what Dr. Konstantin Frank has been able to do with his vineyards on the Finger Lakes. Airing on the lighter side, this sparkler open ups with lime zest, pears, granny smith apples, and cantaloupe. Its flavors are granny smith apple, watermelon, and strawberries with bright acidity and a hint of toast on the finish.

Chateau Frank 2009 “Blanc de Noirs Extra Brut” (Finger Lakes) $35 (89)
This sparkler from the Finger Lakes is relaxed and mellowed allowing the wine to show through. Medium sized bubbles give this sparkler a needed boost in body but without compromising flavors. Ripe, pink guava, hints of lychee fruit, and fig jam on toast show through on the palate.

We hope you enjoy these Sparklers and Champagnes as much as we did. For a complete listing of all of our recommended Champagnes and Sparkers check out our website via this link. Happy New Year!! Cheers! Ken

Each fall we go thru our higher end red submission with the idea that we would post the winners before Christmas. Well this fall we got to all of the older vintages and most of the 2012’s. We will tackle the 2013 vintage in the early part of the New Year. Below you will find a comprehensive list of the wines that scored between 95 and 92 points. You will also find that there are several types of wines on the list. You will also be pleased to know that some of these wines are below our typical $50 and up price point for this list. So what were our winners?

Alpha-Omega-2012-ERA-Napa-RedThis year, our top two wines were awarded 95 points. Both are top notch wines, but both cost a pretty penny. That said the 2012 Alpha Omega “ERA” Cabernet Sauvignon for $200 was the top scoring wine and clear winner in our big blind tasting. This beauty is full bodied, nicely balanced, rich, smooth and refined. The panel loved its very tasty black currant flavors with notes of oak and black cherry. We also detected some hints of minerality and blueberry in this complex blend. The panel suggested slowly sipping this gem with a filet mignon while enjoying a very special dinner.

Shafer-2011-Hillside-Select-Cab-BlogOur second 95 point winner is the 2011 Shafer “Hillside Select” Cabernet Sauvignon for $250. It is an unbelievable wine given the vintage. It was by far the best 2011 California Cabernet that I covered. Bravo!  It is medium bodied, balanced, and very smooth with some delicious blueberry and black cherry flavors. I also detected hints of black currant and nicely integrated gentle oak. This is a spectacular wine to try if you can afford it. It is a true masterpiece given the vintage.

This fall we came up with seven 94 point wines. In our system, 94 points is considered Excellent. We open the list with four grapes you might not predict. A Syrah, two Pinots and a Sangiovese. So our first 94 pointer is a Washington State Syrah. The 2012 Gramercy Cellars “The Deuce” for $52 is impressive. It is full bodied, balanced, and rich with delicious blackberry and blueberry flavors with notes of oak and black olive. Everyone that tried this wine a Del Frisco’s loved it.

Foretell-2012-Fort-Ross-Seaview-Pinot-BlogThe next 2 wines are two Excellent Pinot Noirs. We open with the 2012 Foretell “Fort Ross-Seaview” Pinot for $75. It is medium bodied, rich, and savory. I really liked its very tasty and complex plum and ripe black raspberry flavors with notes of nicely integrated gentle oak, minerality, blueberry and black pepper. It is a very food friendly Pinot and will be a huge hit with your friends. Another great Pinot is the 2012 Goldeneye “Gowen Creek” Pinot Noir for $82. It is full bodied, super smooth, and nicely coats your mouth. I loved its delicious gentle cherry-cola flavors with nicely integrated mild vanilla oak and hints of blueberry and spice. I would pair this gem with a filet mignon at an anniversary dinner.

It is not often, that I get to cover great Italian wines, but I did get the chance to cover the 2011 Isole e Olena “Cepparello” this year. It costs $90 per bottle and is worth every penny. I found it to be medium bodied, balanced, lush and fruit forward. It displays delicious ripe black cherry flavors with integrated old oak and minerality. This is a very refined red wine and would be perfect to cuddle up by the fireplace with sharp cheddar cheese this winter.

Ramey-2012-Annum-Cab-BlogOur final three 94 pointers are big boys from the Napa Valley. We will start with the 2012 “Annum” Cabernet Sauvignon from Ramey for $100. This excellent Cab was very well received by our mini-group. It is full bodied, balanced and fruit forward. We really liked its complex blend of boysenberry and black raspberry flavors with notes spice, blueberry, black licorice, minerality, mocha and faint oak. It is very food friendly and would pair well with filet mignon.

This very dark ruby Merlot based blend from Blackbird is another Excellent wine. Their 2012 Illustration is made from 64% Merlot and 34% Cab Franc and & 2% Cab. The finished blend is a delicious black cherry and black currant flavored wine with beautifully integrated refined minerality, mild oak and a hint of black raspberry. This offering would be a perfect match with a dry-aged ribeye.

Mondavi-2012-To-Kalon-Reserve-Cab-BlogOur last Excellent 94 point wine is the 2012 Robert Mondavi “To Kalon Vineyard Reserve” Cabernet Sauvignon” for $155. This gem from Mondavi rocked the panel and finished in second place in our big blind tasting. It is full bodied, very well balanced, and smooth. The panel loved its terrific black cherry and black currant flavors with wonderfully integrated mild minerality, dark chocolate, and oak. It closes with dry and refined tannins that sail away and are very lengthy. The panel suggested pairing this beauty with Emeril’s Steak Diane.

As we get into of 93 and 92 point Very Good plus wines, we also get a chance to offer you some wines under the $50 mark. Our first grouping of these wines is our 93 pointers. We have eight of these very nice wines to suggest. We will give a quick teaser on these wines.

Zuccardi-2012-Emma-BonardaZuccardi 2012 Bonarda “Emma” (Mendoza, Argentina) $38 (93)
This pitch black Bonarda is terrific. It is full bodied, balanced, rich and silky. I really loved its tasty blueberry and gentle oak blend with notes of mild blackberry. This big and rich wine is very hedonistic. Fan of this style of wine are going to love it. Perfect for the fireplace this winter.

Valentin Bianchi 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon “Enzo Bianchi” (Mendoza, Argentina) $55 (93)
This full bodied Cabernet from Argentina is impressive. Its flavor profile is a ripe blackberry and juicy blueberry blend with notes of nicely integrated minerality and hints of black plum and faint oak. It finishes with dry tannins and its flavors that stick around for a while. Perfect with a ribeye steak.

Dutton Goldfield 2013 Pinot Noir “Azaya Ranch” (Marin County, CA) $58 (93)
This Pinot Noir from Dutton Goldfield is fabulous. It is nicely balanced and really smooth. I loved its tasty mild red raspberry flavors with notes of plum and strawberry. Its flavors are nicely prolonged. An exceptionally food friendly Pinot. Pair it with pork tenderloin with plum chutney.

Talley-2013-Rincon-Pinot-BlogTalley 2013 Pinot Noir “Rincon” (Arroyo Grande, CA) $64 (93)
Talley made some terrific Pinot’s in the 2013 vintage! I found the Rincon to be refined and elegant. I loved its tasty mild strawberry flavors with hints of red plum and faint oak. It finishes with dry fine tannins and flavors that drift away nicely. Pair this finesse Pinot with wiener schnitzel.

Pax 2012 Syrah “Castelli-Knight Ranch” (Russian River, CA) $70 (93)
This Syrah from Pax really impressed our mini-tasting group. It definitely improves with a great deal with aeration. It is full bodied and smooth with concentrated blackberry and oak flavors. Also displays hints of dark chocolate, black currant, and espresso. Perfect fireplace wine.

E. Guigal 2011 “Cote Rotie Brune et Blonde” (France) $80 (93)
This Cote Rotie from Guigal is showing very well right now. It is medium bodied, balanced and very fruit forward. It displays ripe black raspberry flavors with a streak of minerality throughout. Some old oak and black plum as well. Pair with a New York strip steak

Caymus 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon “Special Selection” (Napa Valley, CA) $160 (93)
This Cabernet Sauvignon finished in 3rd place in our recent big blind tasting of High End Reds. It is full bodied, rich and smooth with concentrated black cherry and black raspberry flavors with notes of dark chocolate and hints of blueberry. Pair with roast duck by the fireplace.

Krupp-Brothers-2012-M5-Stagecoach-Vineyard-Cabernet-SauvignonKrupp Brothers 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon “M5 Stagecoach Vineyard” (Napa) $165 (93)
Another top Cab from the recent blind tasting. It finished in 4th place. It’s full bodied, well balanced, and fruit forward. The panel loved its delicious cherry and cassis flavors with nicely integrated fine minerality and gentle vanilla oak. Dry moderate dusty tannins build up and linger.

We close with a very respectable list of twenty 92 points winners. Some of our best values are in the first few wines listed below.

Talley Vineyards 2013 Pinot Noir “Estate” (Arroyo Grande, CA) $36 (92)
A great value Pinot. Balanced and juicy. Tasty mild red plum flavors with notes of cherry-cola, blueberry and gentle vanilla oak. A very food friendly wine. Pair with pork tenderloin.

Robert Foley 2013 US Red “The Griffin” (CA) $38 (92)
A perfect winter fruit bomb. It displays tasty concentrated black cherry and black currant flavors with nicely integrated minerality and oak along with hints of blueberry. Long finish.

John-Duval-Wines-2013-Plexus-SGMJohn Duval 2013 “Plexus” (Barossa Valley, Australia) $40 (92)
Aussie blend of mostly Shiraz is full bodied, slightly acidic, juicy and fruit forward.  It displays a tasty blend of blackberry, boysenberry and gentle oak. It’s a pretty complex wine.

Carol Shelton 2012 Petite Sirah “Rocky Reserve” (Rockpile, CA) $40 (92)
I love Petite Sirah. This is a very good one. Full bodied, balanced, juicy and rich. Tasty blueberry and plum flavors with hints of nicely integrated minerality and oak. Sticky tannins that linger.

Vincent Girardin 2011 Pinot Noir “Les Vieilles Vignes Volnay” (Burgundy, FR) $45 (92)
This Pinot Noir from Burgundy is very good. Nicely balanced, elegant and super smooth. Beautiful tasty mild red raspberry and plum flavors with nicely integrated subtle oak. Yum!

Quinta do Vallado 2010 “Touriga Nacional” (Douro, Portugal) $55 (92)
This Touriga Nacional from Portugal is showing very well now and it would pair perfectly with a filet mignon. Balanced and very smooth with delicious mild plum and mild mineral flavors.

Carol-Shelton-2012-Rockpile-Reserve-Cab-BlogCarol Shelton 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon “Rockpile Reserve” (Rockpile, CA) $50 (92)
Another gem from Carol Shelton. It is medium bodied and balanced. It is a very food friendly Cab. It improves with a little aeration. Decant it for a bit and serve it with a NY strip steak.

Spring Valley 2012 “Uriah” (Walla Walla, WA) $50 (92)
Mostly Merlot and Cabernet Franc. A Washington State winner every year. Medium bodied, balanced and approachable. Very elegant and food friendly. Pair this wine with a filet mignon.

E. Guigal 2010 Fr Rhone “Chateauneuf du Pape” (Rhone Valley, FR) $59 (92)
This CDP really coats your mouth and its tannins are present up front along with the fruit. This big boy is larger and life. Cellar or decant it for 2 hours and serve with a marbled cowboy ribeye.

Cenyth 2010 US Red “Sonoma County” (CA) $60 (92)
A very nice Merlot based wine. Full bodied, fruit forward and juicy. Displays tasty red plum flavors with mild red raspberry, minerality, old oak, red cherry and strawberry licorice.

Cakebread 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon “Napa Valley” (CA) $65 (92)
A very nice Napa Cab that is fairly priced. Full bodied, balanced, smooth and fruit forward. Tasty black raspberry flavors with notes of minerality and oak. Hints of black cherry and blueberry.

Mt-Brave-2012-Mt-Veeder-MerlotMt. Brave 2012 Merlot “Mt. Veeder” (CA) $75 (92)
This is a big boy Merlot! Full bodied, rich and fruit forward. Shows off very tasty concentrated black cherry and dark chocolate flavors with hints of blueberry, vanilla oak, and coffee.

St. Supery 2012 US Red “Elu” (Napa Valley, CA) $75 (92)
Cabernet cased blend. Full bodied and fruit forward with extracted plum and black raspberry flavors. Nicely integrated minerality along with some oak. Pair with roast duck.

Shafer 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon “One Point Five” (Stags Leap, CA) $80 (92)
Another impressive Shafer wine. Its medium bodied, balanced, and smooth. Flavor profile is a tasty mild black cherry with notes of cedar and gentle plum along with a hint of boysenberry.

Shafer 2012 Syrah “Relentless” (Napa Valley, CA) $85 (92)
Shafer’s Syrah based blend. It is full bodied and tamer than previous versions. It is smooth and easy going. Black raspberry and smoked meat flavors with notes of blackberry and oak.

PreVail-2012-Back-Forty-Cab-BlogPreVail 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon “Back Forty” (Alexander Valley, CA) $90 (92)
The panel found this Cab to be full bodied, balanced and smooth. They really like its black currant jam and black cherry flavors with hints of blackberry, chocolate and toasty oak.

Darioush 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon “Signature” (Napa Valley, CA) $95 (92)
Another winning Cab that the Panel discovered. It’s full bodied and smooth with very tasty blueberry and mild oak flavors. Hints of nicely integrated minerality, black cherry and menthol.

Blackbird Vineyards 2012 “Contrarian” (Napa Valley, CA) $125 (92)
This Cab Franc based blend is very good. It is rich and a little juicy. It displays extracted black cherry flavors with some black licorice, spice, and chocolate covered strawberries.

Rocca 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon “Tesorina” (Napa Valley, CA) $160 (92)
This complex Cab finished in 5th place in our recent big blind tasting. The panel loved its fruit forward ripe blueberry and black cherry flavors with nicely integrated minerality and vanilla oak.

Ramey 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon “Pedregal Vineyard” (Oakville, CA) $200 (92)
This Cab from Ramey is medium bodied, balanced, and smooth. Its flavor profile is mild strawberry and cherry blend with notes of mild minerality, chocolate and gentle oak.

We hope you can find one or two of these gems. I am certain you will enjoy these exquisite wines, as much as we did. Each and every one of them is a treat. They would make a perfect Christmas gift. I know I would love them. Merry Christmas to all!

Cheers – Ken

There’s something joyful about uncorking a new bottle of wine and pouring the first glass. The satisfaction of taking a sip and instantly knowing you’ve found a winner can seriously warm your heart, which is rather comforting considering the colder weather that’s been approaching. The good news is that with the cold weather comes the perfect excuse for winter comfort food and the opportunity to create some delicious wine pairings. The wineries we’ve selected below offer a wide selection of fuller bodied wines that are perfect for the holiday season.

KWG-AndisWinesAndis Wines | Plymouth, CA

In 2010 Andis Winery opened its doors with the intent to produce delicious and balanced wines with character and complexity. Judging by the numerous awards the winery has received in the last five years it’s safe to say that they have accomplished what they set out to do and only continue to improve as time goes on. It’s not just the award winning wine that keeps guests coming back for more though; the winery takes pride in presenting visitors with modern architecture and an innovative take on sustainability. Guests are always impressed by the contemporary design, gracious staff, and commitment to making superior wines.

Mount Aukum Winery | Somerset, CA

At Mount Aukum Winery, they say it’s all about the mountain, and after a visit to the tasting room, you’ll see why. The winery produces its various blends using grapes exclusively grown from mountain vineyards in order to maintain unique and satisfying flavors. Its high elevation on the mountainside offers guests crisp, clean air and stunning panorama views. In addition to the stellar location, the winery is well known for its small batches that are meticulously crafted to be served exclusively at their tasting room in Somerset, CA.

KWG-VSattuiWIneryV. Sattui Winery | Napa, CA

Located on 38 acres of organically farmed vineyards, V. Sattui Winery pays meticulous attention to tradition while providing an exceptional experience to guests. Touted as one of the Napa Valley’s favorite places to picnic, two full acres are dedicated to enjoying food, wine, and friends under majestic oaks bordering the estate vineyards. The winery recently celebrated three distinguished awards: Winery of the Year from the Winemaker Challenge (for the fourth year in a row), Winemaker of the Year from the American Fine Wine Competition, and Wine of the Year from the Monterey Wine Competition for the 2012 V. Sattui Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon.

Las Positas Vineyards | Livermore, CA

Las Positas was founded in the year 2006 when Lisa and Lother Mair purchased their first 20 acres. Right away the Mairs decided that they wanted to create the best product that they possibly could, even if that meant starting from scratch. The old vineyard was torn out and the land was cultivated into the perfect environment for high quality grapes to be grown. Due to its great event space, the winery is a popular destination for weddings and other fun activities, and guests are welcome to enjoy a tasting in their beautiful tasting room.

KWG-TrioneVineyardsTrione Vineyards | Geyserville, CA

The year 2015 has gone by all too quickly, but for Trione Vineyards it has been a very successful one. It marks their 10th anniversary as winemakers, their 40th anniversary as farmers and managers of some of Sonoma County’s finest premium vineyards, and the 80th anniversary of the tasting room in their stunning Old Stone Winery building. This wine destination is a hot spot for wine tourists eager to enjoy a taste of Sonoma County history and the wines that have earned the Trione name.

Foley Johnson | Napa, CA

At Foley Johnson each new season brings with it a new selection of wine, and wine lovers with discerning palates make a point to visit the recently remodeled tasting room each time they visit the Napa Valley. The winery uses only the finest selection of grapes from estate vineyards and has a variety of different tasting and touring options to partake in. No matter the tasting experience, guests at Foley Johnson are quick to appreciate the wines’ distinctive terroir, with the balanced fruit and gentle tannins for which the Napa Valley is known.

KWG-MaryhillWineryMaryhill Winery | Goldendale, WA

Maryhill Winery is the answer to an entrepreneurial dream shared by Owners Craig and Vicki Leuthold who saw great potential for a winery in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Since its founding in 2001, family-owned Maryhill Winery has won more than 2,500 awards. Depending on the weather, guests can be found snuggling around crackling fire pits on the terrace, standing at the tasting room’s original Brunswick Bar, or playing bocce on the tournament-quality Bocce courts.

Stags’ Leap Winery | Napa, CA

The majesty of Stag’s Leap Winery astonishes many of its first time visitors with its vast 240 acre presence and legendary reputation for elegant wines that express unique terroir. Winemaker and General Manager Christophe Paubert applies the winemaking philosophy he learned in his native France, (to showcase the fruit and not the winemaker’s hand,) but he also applies a technical understanding of the process. “I believe that wine should express the uniqueness of the land,” Christophe says, “and Stags’ Leap wines have always showcased one of the most distinctive regions in the Napa Valley.”

KWG-ArtesaVineyardsAndWineryArtesa Vineyards and Winery | Napa, CA

The legacy began in 1951 when the Raventos family made history by creating the first ever methode champenoise sparkling wine outside of France. Today, the excitement continues in the Napa Valley where Artesa Winery rests on a beautiful hilltop speckled with breathtaking fountains and unique architecture that weaves throughout the hillside. Visitors of the winery will find that the bar is definitely raised at Artesa when it comes to wine tasting. Guests can enjoy their tasting menus at the artistic Main Salon, Barrel Room, courtyard, reflecting pool, or the scenic Vista Terrace.

Tamber Bey Vineyards | Napa, CA

It’s at Tamber Bey that wine country and horse country unite. The ranch is home to champion performance quarter horses and Arabians that graze in the white-fenced paddocks that line the lane. The wine company was founded by former high-tech executive and equestrian Barry Waitte, who named it after his first two Arabian horses, Tamborina and Bayamo. Guests can enjoy a tasting at the sleek tasting bar or wander outside to admire the courtyard surrounded by 16 impeccable horse stalls framed by fabulous views of Mount St. Helena and the Palisades.

The following article was provided by our contributing partner – Touring and Tasting Magazine.
Cheers – Ken

Fall festivities have come to a close which can only mean one thing- the holiday season has arrived!  It’s a wonderful time for friends and family to come together and enjoy each other’s company, as well as all of the delicious treats that this season has to offer! There is no better way to embrace the holiday festivities than exploring some excellent new wineries in the company of those closest to you. Listed below are 10 award-winning wine destinations that are sure to impress, whether you’re visiting one of their breathtaking tasting rooms or sharing a toast from the comfort of your home.

KWG-WenteWente Vineyards | Livermore, CA
As the oldest family owned and operated vineyard in the United States, guests can trust they are in good hands at Wente Vineyards. Wente has set and maintained the highest standards of integrity in every aspect of the wine industry for the past 131 years, and their hard work has earned them the international notoriety that they are recognized for today. Guests can taste the elegant blends that have been brought to perfection in over a century’s time at any of the winery’s three tasting rooms, are welcome to participate in hands-on winemaking activities at the newly established Winemakers Studio.

Cache Creek Vineyards | Lake County, CA
It all started back in 1999, when Bill Van Pelt was greeted by a herd of tule elk as he approached the property of his new winery for the first time. His love for these local creatures inspired him to preserve the land by planting various grasses on and creating several ponds for the elk, in addition to the large vineyard that was originally planted. In 2014, Bill’s legacy was entrusted to his son, Don Van Pelt, who decided to open a beautiful tasting room for guests to enjoy his decadent wines. Visitors can indulge in the unique flavors of their many award-winning wines in their elegant tasting room, on their large outdoor patio, or enjoy a full day tour of their gorgeous property.

KWG-WineRosesWine & Roses | Lodi, CA
The holiday season can often have us feeling in need of a vacation. Wine & Roses is the perfect spot for visitors to leave their worries behind and enjoy a relaxing getaway. With premium guest rooms, an excellent restaurant with locally inspired flavors, and an award winning spa, Wine & Roses will help you forget the holiday stress.  Making the choice to visit this relaxing retreat will give you plenty be thankful for this year.

Lava Cap Winery | Placerville, CA
Pristine views, refreshing mountain air, and artisanal crafted wines are just a few of the captivating luxuries that can be found at Lava Cap Winery. In 1981, when David and Jeanne Jones planted the first vines in the Sierra Foothills, they knew that they had started something special. As a family of geologists, it was no accident that they picked a location with prime volcanic soil that’s perfect for growing fine wine grapes. Each day the grapes are draped in a warm blanket of foothill sunshine and cooled in the evening by a peaceful Sierra breeze. With this unique climate and soil it’s not surprising that year after year the hand crafted wines continue to win awards across the nation.

KWG-JamiesonJamieson Ranch | Napa, CA
When the warm glow of sunshine touches down on the Jamieson Ranch Estate it’s a sight that truly captures the beauty of the Napa Valley. Jamieson Ranch is located in the southern gateway of the Napa Valley and offers visitors jaw dropping vista views that can be enjoyed from their Grand Western Mountain Lodge, featuring lofty ceilings, an inviting fireplace, and a wraparound veranda. The property offers several different food and wine pairing options that can be savored while admiring the majestic property and breathtaking surroundings that Jamieson Ranch has to offer.

Chacewater Winery & Olive Mill | Lake County, CA
When guests arrive at Chacewater Winery & Olive Mill they can expect to be greeted by majestic rolling hills blanketed with grapevines and olive trees. Producing wine and olive oil on the same property has proven to be an incredible talent of Chacewater founders Paul and Kellye Manuel. This up and coming new venture opened its doors less than five years ago, and quickly proved its excellence by earning the title of California State Fair Golden Winery of the Year in 2012. Since then, the notoriety has only continued to flourish with more and more awards piling up. Chacewater offers tastings of both olive oil and wine, making it an excellent choice for any group.

KWG-JlohrJ. Lohr Winery | Paso Robles & San Jose, CA
Four decades ago Jerry Lohr was among the first to realize the vast, untapped potential of the now world-class wine growing region known as the California Central Coast. He and his family made a commitment to upwards of 1,300 acres of estate vineyards set in the cool climate of the Paso Robles region. On the property there are grapes spreading as far as the eye can see, yet the Lohr family manages to provide the same attention to detail as a small boutique winery. This is the perfect location to enjoy a tasting with family and friends, or celebrate a special occasion with a catered evening among the vineyards.

Twin Pine Casino & Hotel | Lake County, CA
If you love great hospitality, extensive wine lists, and trying your luck at the slots, Twin Pine Casino & Hotel is the perfect place for you. Its an excellent destination to celebrate something special or simply take a break from your daily routine. Twin Pine is known for its dedication to top of the line hospitality, which includes an exclusive nightly food and wine pairing menu prepared by the chefs of the hotel’s Manzanita restaurant. In addition, a local winery is chosen each month to be showcased at a “meet and greet” wine tasting and prix fixe wine pairing dinner. As the nation’s only wine-themed casino destination, guests can be sure that their experience at Twin Pine Casino & Hotel will be one of a kind.

KWG-PerryCreekPerry Creek Winery | Fair Play, CA
At Perry Creek Winery, every decision is made meticulously with the creation of distinctive flavor in mind. Grapes are sourced directly from the estate vineyard as well as a unique 30-acre vineyard that’s tucked away in the Sierra Foothills. Due to its location with a high elevation averaging at 2401 feet, the grapes are exposed to microclimates that give them exclusive flavors that easily attest to any national standard. In fact, since opening in 1989, the winery has received national recognition including scores exceeding 90 points.

Thorn Hill Vineyards | Lake County & St. Helena, CA
“Bringing people together through wine” has continued to be the philosphy of Amy and Jack Thorn who began producing had crafted artisan wines of exceptional quality many years ago. Thorn Hill Vineyards crafts all of its wines from small production, single vineyards, resulting in 100% single varietal wines. From there, Amy and Jack follow the meticulous practices of small lot, whole cluster pressing, de-stemming, cold soaking, extended maceration, barrel-to-barrel racking and bottling without filtration. This perfected process is noticeably tasted in their delicious portfolio of wines, and has earned them the title of Best in Class at the California State Fair California Commercial Wine Competition.

The following article was provided by our contributing partner – Touring and Tasting Magazine.
Cheers – Ken

Ken with Peter MerriamHello local readers. What are you doing after your kids Saturday soccer or  lacrosse practice? Well take a break and treat yourself to some very nice wine offerings from Peter Merriam. Ken and Peter will be pouring a nice group of Peter’s recent releases. See the lineup below. We hope you can stop by between 3 pm and 6 pm on Saturday.

2012 Merriam “Windacre” Merlot
2009 Merriam “Jones” Cabernet Franc
2012 Merriam “Cuvee” Pinot Noir
2013 Merriam “Danielle” Sauvignon Blanc
NV Merriam “Late Harvest” Sauvignon Blanc

Insider scoop has it that Peter may also be bring a few special treats for KWG readers to try.  Be sure to ask us for some!

Hope to see you there. Cheers! – Ken

If you were to step foot in wine country today, you would notice an instant jittery feeling of excitement in the air. You can feel, see, and smell this intriguing energy, which can only mean one thing—it’s harvest season! These are the months that winemakers and wine enthusiasts live for, it’s the Christmas morning of winemaking that makes all their hard work worth it. Harvest is the best time to visit wine country and you don’t want to miss out on experiencing this special time of year. Amazing wine, amazing vibes, and amazing weather… have we convinced you yet? Harvest some happiness in your life this fall by visiting one of our recommended wineries!

Fantesca-KWG-SF15Fantesca Estate Winery | Napa Valley, CA
Inspired by the rich female heritage of the property, Susan and Duane Hoff founded Fantesca in 2004 on the beautiful hillside of Spring Mountain knowing that they would have an incredible reputation to uphold. 150 years ago, the vineyard produced the grapes that Hannah Weinberg would use to craft one of Napa’s first award winning wines. The notoriety continues to this day, as the winery’s portfolio boasts the only Chardonnay crafted by Heidi Barrett, who has received numerous 100 point scores from Robert Parker. Private visits are arranged by advanced appointment to ensure that every guest gets a true sense of what it’s like to be a Fantesca collector.

Buttonwood Farm Winery | Solvang, CA
Had you visited the farm a couple hundred years ago, one would have likely been greeted by horses, goats, chickens, and more. Today, Buttonwood Farm is still proudly operating as a family owned winery where the words “organic” and “sustainable” have been relevant long before they became mainstream. Enjoy a variety of distinctive, well structured, and balanced wines with a unique Buttonwood flare. Don’t just take our word for it though, Buttonwood wines routinely receive acclaim, including a recent award of 91 points from Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. Sit back, grab a glass, and enjoy some great wine in the beautiful tasting room that features artwork by Seyburn Zorthian or take the opportunity to explore the captivating picnic grounds Buttonwood has to offer right in the middle of Santa Barbara County’s Santa Ynez Valley. It truly is a hidden gem.

KlinkerBrick-KWG-SF15Klinker Brick Winery | Lodi, CA
Klinker bricks get their name for the unusual sound that they make when banged together but what really makes them unique is their deep color and enormous density. These qualities are what gave Klinker Brick Winery it’s name five generations ago, and have lead growers Steve and Lori Felton to produce world-class, Old Vine Zinfandel for the past 15 years. While Old Vine Zinfandel is their specialty, the winery has added several distinct new wines including a dry style Rosé and a captivating, pungent Cabernet blend called Bricks and Mortar. Guests have the opportunity to enjoy all that the winery has to offer in a beautiful tasting room boasting lofty ceilings and historic concrete brick walls.

Peju Winery | Napa Valley, CA
Judging by its celebrated presence in the Napa Valley today, its hard to imagine that 32 years ago the Peju Family Winery was simply just a vision. Over the years the winery has transformed from a simple grape growing venture into a landmark winery with a reputation for elegant, complex and balanced wines in the classic Bordeaux variety. The family owned and operated winery takes pride in featuring organic and sustainably farmed fruits in all of its wine selections. As if the delicious wine itself wasn’t enough, tastings are held in an exquisite 50 foot tall tower. Rest assured that your visit to this beautiful property, nestled in the heart of the Napa Valley will be a warm and welcoming one thanks to the amazing hospitality provided by the Peju family.

VinaRobles-KWG-SF15Vina Robles | Paso Robles, CA
It’s no secret that Europe and California both have a lot to offer when it comes to great food, great wine, and great hospitality. The two prime locations may be thousands of miles apart, but even a great distance is no match for partners Hans Nef and Hans R. Michael. In the mid 1990’s, the partners were able to successfully combine the finesse of European influence with bold natural California flavors to create an incredible selection of ultra premium wines at Vina Robles. Today, visitors have access to a chic 14,000 square foot hospitality center where the excitement extends far beyond the delicious wine. Numerous tasting menus, delicious food parings, gourmet lunches, and even an incredible amphitheater are all elements of the lavish accommodations at Vina Robles where you can be sure to expect gracious hospitality and an excellent wine country experience.

Steven Kent Winery | Livermore Valley, CA
Growing up in a family that had been making wine for six generations, Steven Kent Mirassou wanted to continue this passion for winemaking with a focus on his love of great Cabernet Sauvignon. While Cabernet Sauvignon has been grown in Livermore since the late 1800’s, Steven Kent Winery has raised the bar, crafting small lot vintages that according to Wine Enthusiast, produce today’s greatest Livermore Cabernets. Visit the winery’s Barrel Room, or the Reserve Room on the weekends, in the heart of Livermore Valley wine country, to taste for yourself the superior wines of Steven Kent Winery.

PenchRanch-KWG-SP15Pence Ranch | Santa Ynez Valley, CA
Since his early adult life Blaire Pence has had a passion for two things: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  After traveling abroad to Europe and having the opportunity to experience what Pence believes to be the worlds greatest wines, he decided that he would bring the brilliance of Burgundy to the California coast. Today Pence Ranch sits on a heavenly 200-acre property that was fastidiously designed to produce unwaveringly rich and flavorful produce. The main focus is still rooted in Pence’s passion for wine, however, the ranch also produces other crops to remain sustainable and provide the crew and visitors with delicious home grown meals. Bring a picnic and enjoy an exceptional wine tasting experience alongside the shaded pond area.  The dedication to excellence can be tasted in every sip of the tasting menu at Pence Ranch.

Riverbench Vineyard & Winery | Santa Barbara, CA
Riverbench is a name that resonates with high quality Santa Barbara Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Since 1973, they have been committed to producing some of the region’s best Burgundian varieties, but they haven’t stopped there. In 2008, they introduced the first Certified Sustainable Sparkling Wine in Santa Barbara, their Jumper Blanc de Blancs, expanding their impressive reputation to the world of sparkling wines. All of their delicious wines are poured in two charming tasting rooms, one at their vineyard in Santa Maria, and the other in the Funk Zone of downtown Santa Barbara.

AnabaWines-KWG-SF15Anaba Wines | Sonoma, CA
What sounds better than spending the day tasting Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, Rhone varietals, and Rhone-style blends? How about tasting them in an elegantly renovated century-old farmhouse that’s powered entirely by sustainable wind energy? At Anaba Wines this is the exact standard of hospitality that wine connoisseurs from near and far have come to expect.  Overseen by talented duo Ross Cobb and Katy Wilson, the wines produced from this extremely sustainable vineyard have received numerous awards throughout the years. If you have the chance to visit Anaba Wines make sure that your taste buds are prepared to embrace some of the finest wines of Sonoma County!

And for Transportation…
Beau Wine Tours | Napa Valley, CA
California is the home of thousands of acres of world renowned wine country; Sonoma County and Napa Valley happen to be two of California’s most popular destinations for those looking to enjoy beautiful scenery, delicious wine, and a relaxing ambiance. Here you will find yourself surrounded by rolling hills of romantic vines, luxury hotels, golf resorts, five star restaurants, world-class theatres, and more. Whether you’re a novice or an expert, Beau Wine Tours can help you discover the many hidden gems that are sprawled amidst this sensational area. With two decades of experience the company has created relationships with many of the attractions that people come from all over to see. Anybody who appreciates the highest level of service and comfort—without compromise—will surely be satisfied when booking a ride with Beau Wine Tours.

The following article was provided by our contributing partner – Touring and Tasting Magazine.

Cheers – Ken

Powers GalleryWine appreciation and Art appreciation have a lot in common. Everytime you explore both, you can usually find something that your really like and enjoy.  This Saturday, you will have a chance to try some terrific wines with me and explore Powers Gallery in Acton, MA.  I hope you can take some time out of your day to join us.  I will be there this Saturday, October 3 from 2-5 PM. The Wine Team from Colonial Spirits and I have put together a fantastic line-up of high scoring wines for you to try.  There is also be a plenty of great art for you to look at as well. Grab a friend or two, and stop by!  See you all there.

Here’s the Lineup…

Follow the links to my reviews of these Very Good Wines!

Table 1

Zuccardi-2012-Emma-BonardaNV Besserat de Bellefon Champagne “Cuvee des Moines” Brut Rose

2013 Lafond Winery “SRH” Chardonnay

2012 Lafond Winery “SRH” Pinot Noir

2012 Dr H Thanisch “Bernkasteler Badstude Kabinett” Riesling

2012 Zuccardi “Q” Malbec

2012 Zuccardi “Emma” Bonarda

2014 Gran Passione “Gavi”

2012 Gran Passione “Barbera d’Asti”


Table 2

2014 Mudhouse Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, NZ)

2013 Tablas Creek “Patelins de Tablas” Red Blend (Paso Robles, CA)

2013 Lamoreaux Landing “T23” Unoaked Cab Franc (Finger Lakes)

2013 La Val Albarino (Rias Baixas, Spain)

2013 William Hill “Napa Valley” Chardonnay

2012 Kanonkop “Kadette Red Blend” (Stellenbosch, South Africa)


Chateau-Ste-Michelle-2013-Mimi-ChardonnayTable 3

2013 Eroica by CSM (Columbia Valley, WA)

2013 Chateau Ste Michelle “Horse Heaven Vineyard” Sauvignon Blanc

2013 Chateau Ste Michelle “Mimi” Chardonnay (Horse Heaven Hills, WA)

2011 Northstar “Columbia Valley” Merlot

2012 Spring Valley Vineyard “Uriah” Red Blend (Walla Walla Valley, WA)


This tasting should be awesome! I hope you can join us.

Cheers – Ken!

As summer comes to a close, it’s time to start preparing for the upcoming change in seasons. What better way to end an amazing summer than to dive into a wine country extravaganza? We’ve handpicked 12 unique wine country regions that we think will make the perfect final getaway to end your summer with a bang! So, grab a glass of vino and cheers to another amazing summer getaway.

Lodi, CA
Known for its agricultural abundance and Mediterranean climate, it’s no wonder Lodi is California’s largest producer of top quality wines and wine grapes. This developed wine region is home to more than 75,000 acres of vineyards and is a leading producer of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Zinfandel! Wine enthusiasts will enjoy a warm welcome and a friendly face as they travel Lodi Wine Country and enjoy a diverse range of wines, delicious foods, and great hospitality.

KWG-CalaverasCalaveras County, CA
From its rustic wine country and pastoral mountainous landscape, to miles of underground caverns and caves, Calaveras County is the perfect setting for almost any activity. A few of the many activity choices include rappelling hundreds of feet at Moaning Cavern Adventure Park, zip lining along the Sierra Nevada, and golfing a calming 18 holes at the beautiful Greenhorn Creek Resort. When the snow falls in the winter, the skiing and snowboarding runs are fun for everyone. After a full day of activities, there are plenty of restaurants and tasting rooms to grab a refreshing glass of wine, including the Creekside Bistro at Bear Valley Mountain.  Come check out Calaveras County for a thrill a minute any time of year!

Traverse City, MI
Traverse City, Michigan is a prime destination for the active vacationer. Enjoy sailing, kayaking, and boating along miles of sandy beaches and clear Caribbean colors of the water, or play a round at one of the many top-flight golf courses near the deep lakes and winding hills of Traverse City. Whatever activities you decide to do, be sure to set aside a day to taste the wines in the area, which are becoming increasingly known for their uniquely fresh and intensely fruit-forward wines!

KWG-LoudonLoudoun, VA
No matter what interests you, you’re likely to find it in Virginia. Nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Potomac River, just 25 miles from Washington, DC, Loudoun County is not only a fantastic east coast culinary destination, but it is also a part of a premier wine region. The unique boutique wineries in the area have inviting tasting rooms in everything from rustic barns to architectural marvels. So pick up your palate and head to DC’s Wine Country!

Tri-Valley, CA
Hand crafted beer is back on the rise. Judy Ashworth, owner of the former Lyons Brewery Depot, had stocked national beer brands in her pub until a customer introduced her to his home-brewed pale ale. When tasting his beer, she said “so this is what beer should taste like!” Since then, Judy, among many other in the Tri-Valley’s beer industry, has been an advocate for local craft beer. With over 100 breweries and brewpubs to choose from, the new Tri-Valley Beer Trail is the perfect way to experience many unique craft beers.

KWG-PismoPismo Beach, CA
Located half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles along the Pacific Coast Highway, Pismo Beach is a picturesque vacation spot. It is a place where you can surf alongside locals, have lunch on the boardwalk next to the 1,200-foot pier, and then take a short drive to wine country. Besides the numerous ocean activities, visitors can go horseback riding, golfing, and even sky diving! So if you’re looking for a wine destination where you can experience Classic California, take a trip to Pismo Beach.

Amador County, CA
Located in the heart of Gold Country, Amador County has something to offer for everyone. A few of Amador County’s highlights include its quality wines from about 40 wineries, charming small towns though out, and plenty of outdoor activities such as river rafting and hiking trails. Another standout from this region is Taste Restaurant in Plymouth. It has been recognized as one of the top restaurants in the United States with an award winning wine list. If you are looking for a place to visit that has it all, take a trip to Amador County!

While the state of Kentucky is very well known for its bourbon industry, it has also played an important role in the history of wine in the U.S. Not only is it home to the first commercial vineyard in the country, but it’s wineries also once produced more than 50 percent of the United States’ grape harvest and wine yield! A visit to a Kentucky winery will captivate you with it’s bluegrass countryside and its romantic scenery.

Leavenworth, WA
In Leavenworth’s downtown Bavarian Village, there are an impressive 20 wine tasting rooms and many restaurants with inspired wine lists awaiting your discovery. With the surrounding foothills’ abundance of vineyards and wineries, you’ll find everything from hearty reds and refreshing whites to German-style Glühwein. Leavenworth is also an ideal spot for those craving an outdoor adventure. With so much to taste, see, and do, come see what one of the most popular and unique Washington destinations is all about!

San Luis Obispo County is the perfect destination for wine lovers and travelers alike. From the charming ocean-side towns to the beautiful inland hills, SLO County has many sights to be seen. Its location, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, provides the perfect temperature and long growing season that defines it as one of the premier wine-growing regions of the world. Easy to get to and hard to leave, stunning San Luis Obispo County is full of coastal, culinary and cultural pleasures for the wine traveler.

Tri-Cities, WA
The Tri-Cities is located in the heart of Washington wine country. The sun shines on an average of 300 days each year, making it a remarkable destination for all kinds of adventure. With seven beautiful courses and two championship courses to choose from, Washington’s Tri-Cities is a golfer’s paradise. The amazing surrounding rivers of the Columbia, the Snake, and the Yakima create the ideal setting for kayakers, paddle boarders, fishermen, and more!

Yakima, WA
Yakima Valley in Washington State is home to more than 100 award-winning wineries and the beautiful Washington countryside. Take a tour of a vineyard with a winemaker to have true farm fresh experience. Explore the unique agricultural history of this region and visit the Yakima National Cultural Heritage Center and the Yakima Valley Museum. On your visit, don’t forget to spice things up and grab a bite at a Mexican taqueria or taco trucks, some of the culinary favorites!

The following article was provided by our contributing partner – Touring and Tasting Magazine.

Cheers – Ken

The hot summer months are upon us, and July and August are taking no prisoners this year. It’s easy to get sucked inside where the air conditioner is cranked to arctic temperatures and an ice-cold beverage is only a short walk to the refrigerator, but we think it’s time to get out and get yourself a big lung-full of good ol’ fresh air. Summer is a time for adventure and exploration, and we challenge you to get out of your perfectly chilled office and into the great outdoors! We’ve come up with some wine country spots that we think will leave you feeling relaxed and recharged this summer…and a little buzzed of course!

KWG-ElDoradoEl Dorado County | Sierra Foothills, CA
If you’re an adventure seeker, history buff, foodie, or wine lover, El Dorado County should be on the top of your list for your next summer vacation! In 1848, gold was discovered in the American River near Coloma, and today with a name like “Gold County,” this rich history remains in the rustic mining towns and historic sites that dot the landscape. Aside from a vibrant history, here are endless opportunities for outdoor adventure, over 70 wineries to taste, and a number of culinary treasures to explore, “Gold Country” is a must-see destination this summer!

Sullivan Wine | Napa Valley, CA
It all started as a wedding gift of grape vine cuttings to founder Jim Sullivan and his wife Joanna, and quickly turned into the fuel that fed his passion for producing superior quality wines. Sullivan Vineyards in Rutherford, CA is a gorgeous estate that provides guests with a casual and welcoming atmosphere and beautiful vineyard views. Visitors to the winery are welcome to enjoy their tastings in the outside courtyard while admiring a collection of contemporary artwork and classic cars on display.

KWG-BouchaineBouchaine Vineyards | Napa Valley, CA
This summer, take a guided vineyards walk or grab your bike and cruise along the rolling hills of Bouchaine Vineyards, dedicated to planting the very best of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The beauty of Bouchaine goes far beyond the stunning landscape, but also in their use of sustainable practices that are used to give back to the land they are blessed with. Make sure to stop by their tasting room to taste their award winning wines, and join their wine club to taste on a private terrace overlooking the vineyards.

Keenan Winery | Napa Valley, CA
If you are looking for an outdoorsy tasting experience in the Napa Valley, look no further than Keenan Winery in the mountains of St. Helena. The 180-acre property boasts the stunning green and dusty brown landscape of the Mayacamas Mountain Range, and will make you feel like you’ve taken a summer getaway deep into the woods while still remaining in the world-famous Napa Valley wine country. Keenan is a well-known name in the Napa region, with 62 wines in the last 12 vintages earning ratings between 90 and 97 points by wine critics. For outdoor relaxation and incredible wines, visit Keenan Winery this summer!

KWG-OakFarm (2)Oak Farm Vineyards | Lodi, CA
Residing on a beautiful and historic 70 acre estate, Oak Farm Vineyards offers their visitors an elevated tasting experience and the opportunity to truly get a feel for Lodi wine country. Their tasting room includes floor to ceiling windows with breathtaking vineyard views, indoor and outdoor fireplaces, and a cozy outdoor terrace where you can taste their portfolio of handcrafted, small-lot and single vineyard varietals. You won’t want to miss out on an opportunity to visit Lodi wine country this summer!

Calcareous Vineyard | Paso Robles, CA
Outdoor adventure is a given when you visit a winery like Calcareous Vineyard in Paso Robles, a winery dedicated to their land and the importance of “place.” Father and daughter Lloyd Messer and Dana Brown had a dream of expressing their passion for wine and this love for the craft remains evident in their delicious estate wines produced from their 3 vineyards. Guests are invited to enjoy a flight of their award winning wines at Lloyd’s Lookout, their hilltop tasting room, for a delectable tasting and breathtaking 180-degree views of Paso wine country.

KWG-WesterlyWesterly Wines | Santa Barbara County, CA
The Santa Barbara County wine region is extremely diverse, and this complexity is reflected in the impressive portfolio of Westerly Wines. The Westerly name is a well known one in the Santa Ynez Valley, and their limited-production wines never fall short of the high standard that they have set for themselves. They do not have a public tasting room, but they do offer private tastings on a limited basis for a truly exclusive one-on-one tasting experience. Summer in Santa Barbara is beautiful, and only gets better with a glass of Westerly wine in hand!

Moshin Vineyards | Sonoma County, CA
Whoever said all those hours of sitting in math class would never pay off in the real world obviously never heard the story of Moshin Vineyards. Rick Moshin, a former San Jose University math instructor, put his math skills to the test and designed a four-tier gravity flow winery for small-lot wine production, and this year Moshin Vineyards is celebrating this dream having become reality, with the 10 year anniversary of their tasting room and the family’s 25th anniversary of wine growing! If you are looking for a reason to celebrate this summer, head on over to Sonoma and raise a glass with Moshin Vineyards!

KWG-CathedralRidgeCathedral Ridge Winery | Columbia River Gorge, OR
Those looking for a unique outdoor experience this summer should make a trip to the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. This region is home to Cathedral Ridge Winery, and provides a distinctive microclimate that allows for almost every variety of grape to ripen to perfection, building an extensive portfolio of wines that have received outstanding reviews over the years. The winery in Hood River offers visitors a scenic and serene tasting experience filled with stunning views and delicious wines, or if you are planning a trip to the famous Willamette Valley, be sure to stop by their other tasting room in Dundee!

Ironstone Vineyards | Sierra Foothills, CA
While visiting El Dorado County be sure to stop by the beautiful Ironstone Vineyards in the charming gold rush town of Murphys, CA. This family owned and operated winery is the perfect opportunity for visitors to learn about the history of the Sierra Foothills wine region, while tasting their delicious portfolio of wines. Their massive oak tasting bar was even once a saloon bar in New York! The rest of their property will not disappoint, with 14 acres of stunning gardens waiting to be explored, guests are welcomed to stroll along the grounds and find the perfect place for a picnic from their gourmet deli.

The following article was provided by our contributing partner – Touring and Tasting Magazine.

Cheers – Ken

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