We recently took a Napa wine related trip to North
East China with several other Napa Vintners. The new wine club in
Shenyang, The Napa Valley Wine Club was holding their grand opening and
treated us like royalty!
a post from the trip here.
(11/17/12) Flavor Napa Valley, Appellation Tasting
(10/23/12) Flavor Napa Valley, November 14-18th
The 2012 five-day Flavor! Napa Valley™ Celebration of Wine, Food &
Fun is an annual event featuring world-class Napa Valley wines
alongside Napa Valley’s master chefs and graduates of The Culinary
Institute of America’s culinary education programs. Net proceeds from
the event support programs and scholarships at The Culinary Institute of
America’s Greystone Campus in St. Helena. The event is hosted by
founding sponsors Silverado Resort and Spa and Dolce Hotels in
partnership with Visit Napa Valley, The Culinary Institute of America at
Greystone and the Napa Valley Vintners.
(10/11/12) The renovation of Napa's iconic Oakville Grocery
(10/10/12) Napa Valley Film Festival Welcomes Vintner Katie
Hamilton Shaffer as Local Media Host
Katie is truly one
of Napa's energetic vintners - having run Toolbox Wine Co for several
years with partners, spending much of her time on wine and charity work,
and filming her pilot TV show, "Feast it Forward". Now she has been
chosen as the media host for the Napa Valley Film Festival. See below.
Napa Valley, CA - November 7 -11, 2012 – Local
Napa Valley vintner Katie Hamilton Shaffer will join the Napa Valley
Film Festival with her “Feast it Forward” crew as local media host. The
Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF) takes place November 7 – 11 over in the
picturesque towns of Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga. The
Festival showcases over 100 new independent films, industry and culinary
panel discussions, Galas, VIP receptions and winemaker dinners, wine
tasting pavilions, Celebrity Tributes, Awards Ceremonies, Wrap parties
Hamilton Shaffer, a philanthropist and vintner, partnered with the NVFF
at the inaugural NVFF in 2011 where she presented and poured her award
wines from Toolbox Wine Co. at the Festivals “Lounge” screening venue at
Hatt Hall, in the historic Napa River Inn. The Festival welcomes Toolbox
back as a sponsor and featured wine partner in 2012 at the same
screening venue. Moving to the wine country over 10 years ago, her
passion for food and wine lead to an interest to become a private chef.
Here is where her ventures truly guided her on a path of events, wine,
culinary arts and film.
association with Veia Productions and Konation Media, Katie has been
filming her media pilot "Feast it Forward" which anticipates its
launch in January 2013 (www.feastitforward.com).
With the motto "Sip. Share. Give," "Feast it Forward" showcases
good will and charitable giving through culinary related events. Wine
and food enthusiasts will learn about causes around the country,
alongside the chefs, winemakers, and actors that are inspired by them.
From off the beaten path wineries, culinary fundraisers, festivals to
vintners opening up their homes for intimate tastings and gourmet fare.
Alongside the A-List press, Katie and her Feast it Forward film
crew is excited to be the NVFF’s local media host, allowing viewers to
be a part of the journey as she takes you "beyond the bottle," and
inside the Hollywood scoop.
Additionally, in partnership with the valley's own ToutSuite Social
Hamilton Shaffer will also be live on-site at various NVFF venues. Live
feed interviews will showcase and share the latest red carpet wine
country buzz with actors, directors, winemakers and chefs. Feast it
Forward and ToutSuite Social Club will host pre-NVFF shows in
its Napa Valley studio this October to "reel you in." How do you
Feast it Forward?
(9/17/12) Showcase in the Heart of the Napa Valley
NEW YORK, NY (August 27, 2012) –
This October,Traditional Home Magazine
will sponsor its first-ever Showhouse in the heart of the Napa Valley (TraditionalHome.com/NapaShowhouse).
The Napa Valley Showhouse will be located at the Cardinale Winery
Estate, situated in the heart of Napa Valley's renowned Oakville
District. The Showhouse will open with a Gala Preview Cocktail Party on
Thursday, October 4, and will be open to the public for nearly six weeks
from Friday, October 5 – Sunday, November 11. The Showhouse is timed to
coincide with Traditional Home’s sponsorship of the Napa Valley
Film Festival, which runs November 7-11, 2012, and all Showhouse
proceeds will benefit the Napa Valley Film Festival (www.napavalleyfilmfest.org).
The Napa Valley
Showhouse is located at: Cardinale, 7600 St. Helena Hwy, Oakville,
CA. TheShowhouse is approximately 4,500 square feet and is
comprised of 10 interior spaces plus two outdoor spaces. Traditional
Home will feature the work of the country’s finest interior
designers who will draw inspiration from the beauty of the Napa Valley
and surrounding vineyards and transform the Cardinale estate home.
(9/11/12) Truffles anyone?
The third annual
Truffle Festival is pleased to announce its 2013 weekend
Program, January 18-21, with keynote by Colman Andrews, and winery
truffle lunches hosted by two premier Napa Valley wineries, Silver
Oak and Beringer.
Join in the fun, science and culinary adventure
of a lifetime in pursuit of the rare and venerated black
truffle—specifically the winter Périgord truffle: Tuber
melanosporum (aka black diamond)—which will be discussed,
examined, probed, prepared, demonstrated and, finally, paired with
wines and feasted upon for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
The Festival kicks off with a
Friday night reception where guests will have an opportunity
to ask questions, meet the hosts and chefs, and sample
superb wines and truffle appetizers. Saturday programs begin
with breakfast and keynote, followed by science-grower
seminars, a wine tasting and lunch at the sterling Silver
Oak winery, and a truffle orchard tour at Robert Sinskey
Vineyards with Rico the wonder truffle dog to sniff things
out. New this year - Sunday, guests will rise and shine for
an early morning wild mushroom forage, followed by a
Michelin Star chef cooking demo, and a wine tasting and
lunch at the beautiful, historic Beringer winery.
the heart of the Festival is the Saturday night Truffles &
Wine dinner, hosted by Michelin Star Chef Ken Frank of La
Toque, and featuring a multicourse truffle menu - each
course prepared by a Michelin Star chef - perfectly paired
with wines of outstanding merit.
The Festival culminates on
Monday with a lively, grand finale Festival Marketplace at
Oxbow Public Market showcasing local wines, artisanal foods,
cooking demos, special truffle dishes and accoutrements, and
a chance to win a black diamond (truffle, that is)!
This year's keynote address will be
given by Colman Andrews, an internationally renowned food
writer and editor, and award-winning cookbook author - co-founder of
Saveur, and the current editorial director of the new
culinary megasite The Daily Meal. "Truffles have managed to come out
of the ground and into the American culinary mainstream without
losing their mystique or their earthy appeal — further proof that
they are a unique, irreplaceable culinary treasure."
Leading the truffle science-grower seminars are American Truffle
Company cultivation experts/scientists Robert Chang, Managing
Director; and Dr. Paul Thomas, Partner and Chief Scientist.
Verasa in downtown Napa will again serve as the host venue and
offer a *special rate for the Festival weekend (*must reserve by
December 16, 2012).
(5/26/12) Kelly Fleming Release Party
We had a
fun time at Kelly Fleming's beautiful winery in Calistoga - thanks
to Kelly for great wine (a Rose of Cabernet Sauvignon, a truly
balanced Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon blanc from one of
Napa's most formidable vineyards - To Kalon. To Kalon is a vineyard
much coveted for its Cabernet Sauvignon but it also has other
varietals including just a few rows of Sauvignon blanc.
in Napa prepared a light lunch - tender bibb lettuce salad drizzled
with oil, chopped onions and vinegar - and fresh peaches. Thin crust
The stone winery adjoins the cave - which is somewhat unusual in
that it was drilled entirely through through solid rock - that
natural rock was left in place and not covered with shotcrete. Kelly
and her two children run the winery - visit:
Annual Passport to Cabernet Tasting - May 7
Come taste a multitude of California’s Cabernets at the 22nd
Annual Passport to Cabernet Wine Tasting & Auctions,
Monday, May 7, CONSUMERS 3:30-5:30pm and TRADE & MEDIA1:30-3:30pm
at the beautiful and historic Bently Reserve, 301 Battery
Street, San Francisco.
event is utterly unique as it gives CONSUMERS a first glimpse/sneak
peak of the character of the most recent vintage of California
Cabernet (2011) from a variety of appellations throughout
California, as well as the opportunity to taste our member wineries’
finished products from over 100 of their current release
This event is a
rare opportunity for members of the public to exclusively taste
so many great Cabernet Sauvignons in one place, many of which are
very hard to find. Don’t miss this chance to taste and evaluate the
promise and excitement of the newest Cabernet Sauvignon harvest as
well as the latest releases from our exclusive member wineries, all
while engaging the actual winemakers and winery principles.
the Wines of Howell Mountain at the Bently Reserve in San Franciso,
March 21 The world-class wines of
30 Howell Mountain member
wineries are coming to the Bently
Reserve (301 Battery Street) in San Francisco
Wednesday March 21st.
This annual Spring tasting features many of
Howell Mountains top producers
- all of which are either not open to the public or see visitors on
a very limited basis. This tasting is a
for the public to taste all these wines under one roof.
Tickets are very limited at the Advance Discount rate of $45/person...$65 at the Door. Purchase Advance Consumer Tickets at www.howellmountain.org or call 707-965-2665.
While you're in San Francisco, take the day and/or evening to enjoy the City, visiting its wonderful concentration of world-class restaurants, shopping, and museums (as well as wines from Howell Mountain that day), all within walking distance right in San Francisco...or at least a very short cab or cable ride. Visit SanFrancisco.travel.com to learn more about things to explore in the City.
Review of Natalie MacLean's latest book, "Unquenchable" Join wine writer Natalie
MacLean’s wine and travel world as she jets from one
continent to another, from one wine region to the next
exploring her passion for wine and highlighting some of
the best values out there. Her style of writing is
engaging, lively, and informative to the wine novice and
educated consumer alike. She meets with owners and
winemakers and explores the “stories” behind the wine.
The book highlights the
uniqueness, differences, and challenges that winemakers
face in their respective regions. It is a wine book with
truly a global perspective. At the end of each
chapter/region Natalie highlights top producers,
pairings and lists other resources and recommended
related reading materials. Wine lovers will delight in
this latest “chapter” of Natalie’s wine writing career.
Click to purchase on Amazon.
Thanks to Cellar Angels A
great organization that I initially met online is
out of Chicago. Founder Martin Cody has combined wine sales with charity
focusing primarily on Napa wineries. Cellar Angels runs promotions that
last a few days giving their wine club members a chance to purchase wines from
small premium producers at reasonable prices. It is free to join the
Cellar Angels wine club. Part of the sales are donated to charities that
Cellar Angels works with (the customer decides which charity proceeds
from their purchase will be donated to). A number of this wineries
featured are very small producers which gives a national audience a chance
to try their wine. Often these wines are so selectively distributed they
are very hard to find.
Premium promotional videos are an integral of their marketing campaign
for wineries. We have just started working with Cellar Angels; a few
weeks ago Martin and his film crew met with me up at
Vineyards (one of the top 20 properties in all of Napa Valley and
producing damn good wines too under the direction of winemaker Nils
Zacherle) to film a promotional video for The Napa Wine Project. Look
for this video coming soon!
Photos at Montagna Vineyards
Ideas for Copia If
you have ideas for what the now vacant Copia Center in Napa's Oxbow
district can be used for - you can email them to:
Thirst Release Party, Benefiting JT Snow's Snowman Charity, San Francisco
A recent night at the St. Francis Yacht Club
was host to a very important charity event - the release party for
ToolBoxWineCo.com's Thirst, a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
(production 1000) cases of which $3 from every bottle purchased is
donated to former San Francisco Giants baseball player JT Snow's
Snowman Charity. The charity is being used to raise money to combat a
rare disease - Wolfram Syndrome. JT's niece is afflicted with this
syndrome. JT was here along with the founders of ToolboxWineCo, Katie
Hamilton Shaffer, Thrace Bromberger and Nancy Otton. Donations to the
charity from this evening and prior sales and donations was
View our photos and video of the event below:
Napa...as in the City of Napa! For many years the city of Napa was just a
place you passed as you entered the Napa Valley - the city center is not
on the main highway (Highway 29) and it was lacking in restaurants,
hotels and tasting rooms. When you told people you were visiting the
Napa Valley, the city of Napa was not mentioned as your final
destination, rather you would have been referring to the wineries up
valley; it was those wineries that long attracted the majority of the
visitors to the valley. They still do, however there is now an
additional reason to visit the Napa Valley and that is the city itself.
Since 1862 Napa's downtown has flooded 22 times and local businesses
were rightfully tired of having to deal with the repercussions of the
flood waters during years of heavy rainfall. The latest was in 2005 when
much of downtown Napa was under water. Napa decided to finally do
something about this - and in 1998 residents narrowly voted to improve
and focus their attention, and feature the Napa River more prominently
in their downtown.
A levy created a 900 acre wetland/overflow region south of the city,
twelve new bridges were constructed, undesirable buildings were razed
along the river front and parts of a "new" downtown began to emerge.
Work was completed on the actual Napa River and the Napa Creek to help
prevent and control devastating flood waters.
Today Napa has attracted both fine restaurants and top hotels. While the
"river and re-development" plans continue to progress (slated to
complete in mid 2012) - in a relatively short amount of time, downtown
Napa has been reborn as a culinary and wine tasting mecca. Since 1996
nearly 1 billion dollars has been invested in downtown Napa from both
private and public sectors.
Read Full Article Here
Napa Valley Mexican-American Vintners Association Tasting The first ever tasting of the Napa Valley
Mexican-American Vintners Association was held Saturday July 30, 2011 at
Maldonado Vineyards in the far northern reaches of the Napa Valley. This
association is fairly new (2010). It was formed after a number of
vintners poured their wines in Mexico at the Michoacan State Fair and
collaboratively recognized the need to have an organization that would
promote their own wines, support Mexican Americans in the wine industry
and be educational. Visit:
The formation of
NVMAVA was spearheaded by Rolando Herrera of Mi Sueno Winery and he is
the current President.
This was a rare opportunity to taste wine from the following mostly Napa
producers at one venue - Alex Sotelo Cellars, Ceja Vineyards, Delgadillo
Cellars, Encanto Vineyards, Maldonado Family Vineyards, Maritas
Vineyards, Mi Sueño Winery, Renteria Wines, Robledo Family Vineyards,
Rios Wine Company and Voces Wines.
A highlight of the afternoon was the unveiling of their new logo -
afterwards all the vintner members personally signed it.
Cristina Londono from Telemundo International gave a passionate speech -
listen to part of the speech below:
View Video of select vintner
Winery Grand Opening Party, St. Helena Living near the Napa Valley
certainly has its advantages including world class wineries, scenic vistas and
great parties. We are invited to a number of wine related events and parties in
the valley and it gets to the point where one has to be fairly selective on
which ones to attend. When we heard Hunnicutt Winery was holding a party to
celebrate the completion of their wine cave and show off their beautiful
property - it was not a hard choice to decide to attend this event.
along with D.R. Stephens Estate wine recently opened their winery in the north
part of the valley about half way between Calistoga and St. Helena. This is
certainly not your typical "wine strip" experience. The traffic is less here and
when you pull up the hill to this appointment only winery - well off the Silverado Trail and step
out of your vehicle you are immediately struck by how quiet it is.
Owner Justin Stephens was a man on a mission for the past few years - he
acquired this property in 2008 and went to work managing the development of
their cave for the winery operations. Today the cave is fully operational.
We were treated to excellent food by Napa based caterer Nick Heinrich of
Bar B Que. This guy can really cook - from his summertime cucumber salad
recipe, to a mouth watering whole roasted pig, a stone ground grits and southern
style Okra and corn.
Hunnicutt's current releases complemented the food and a rare 2001 vintage large
bottle format, Salmanazar, was opened featuring their first ever vintage of
Cabernet Sauvignon. Hunnicutt's red wines age very well - the wine from this
vintage held its fruit and structure beautifully - there is a reason you age
wine and this vintage is a good example of how it takes time for the wine to
integrate and develop additional complexities.
Another successful Sense Yountville was held on a
beautifully sunny warm Saturday May 7th under the "big white tent" at V
Marketplace 1870 in downtown Yountville. This, only the third annual "Sense Yountville" has already become the appellation's premiere
wine & food
Thirty wineries were represented offering their pre-release wines and large
format bottles, and culinary pairings were provided by local restaurants.
Highlights included (Blankiet Estate making their first appearance at this
tasting), Dominus, Gemstone, Tom Scott, Tor Kenward, among others. This is a
rare opportunity to meet either the winemaker or principals of the wineries.
Many of the wineries pouring do not have tasting rooms and or are open to the
Yountville is the culinary hub of Napa Valley and principals, winemakers and
chefs are on hand. Some of the top restaurants represented included Bouchon, Redd, Mustard's,
Michael Chiarello's Bottega and more. While its a rare treat to enjoy wine from
Yountville's finest wineries - the culinary delights are equally to be
The event was limited to only 350 guests. The date always coincides with the Kentucky
Derby so after the Tastings and Future Sales from 11-3pm there was of course a
"Derby Party" - with a surprise upset this year. We look forward to
Photos from 2011 Sense Yountville Tastings
Photos from previous Sense Yountville Tastings
Overview of tasting area under the big tent
Scott Lewis of V Wine Cellars and Christian Moueix of Chateau Petrus & Dominus
Dave Cruz of Ad Hoc Restaurant
(2/23/11) First Taste
Yountville, Yountville CA
The First Taste of Yountville was
held during the Premier Napa Valley week to capitalize on a number of
trade who are in town. This annual event is held by the Napa Valley
Vintners' and is their Annual Mid-Winter Barrel Auction for the Trade -
This premiere tasting featured some of Yountville's finest vineyards and
wines. It was held in the old barrel room of what used to be
Groezinger's Winery which is now V Marketplace, a collection of fine
boutique shops and restaurants including Michael Chiarello's much in
demand Bottega Restaurant.
At tastings like these unlike many, I try to seek out wines I have not
yet tried, or Napa labels I am not familiar with (for obvious reasons,
there are not many of these!).
A couple of newcomers whose wines I knew of
but tried for the first time were Joseph George (focusing only on one varietal,
a Sauvignon Blanc), Dillon, again focusing only on one varietal, a Chardonnay
(two wines, one beautiful rich, spicy Chardonnay barrel fermented and one
fermented in stainless), Groppalo - an Italian producer with an Italian
winemaker (Massimo Monticello) producing a Bordeaux blend and a well structured
Merlot, and Clos Valmi with an extremely limited production of Pinot Noir and a
Cabernet Sauvignon. Formal reviews will be coming of these wines after I contact
the owners directly to setup tastings.
Then there are those producers who I don't even have to try to know they have
top wines. Several of those at this tasting included Tor Kenward, Lail &
Kapcsandy. Oh and Dominus is in this list. However it was a while since I had
visited their winery and tried the wines so I tasted all vintages they were
pouring. Their 2006 for me was clearly the highlight out of all the wines at
this tasting that I tried. The nose is elegant and inviting. The wine is
balanced, with great flavor and structure.
The richest wine of the wines I tasted was the 2006 Gemstone Cabernet Sauvignon,
10th anniversary vintage. This wine is powerful from the nose to the mouth
filling flavors that last for some time through the big full bodied tannins.
Carmen Policy and his wife were pouring Casa Piena. There was a bit of a crowd
around their table so did not have a chance to try their wines. However I
reviewed the wine last year - and really enjoyed their inaugural 2006 vintage.
Rocca was also pouring their wines (nice of them to invite us to this tasting).
They used to have a tasting room in downtown Napa but are currently remodeling a
nice Victorian south of Napa - turning it into a destination for tasting their
own wines, kitchen tasting room, etc. One of the characteristic hallmark's of
Rocca's wines are their softness and rounded mouth feel. As a result they appeal
to a wide variety of palates. Paul
Colantuoni has been their winemaker
At times I thought I was at the Taste of Oakville but then I came across
producers with white wines and Pinot Noir and Merlot and I was quickly reminded
of the diversity of the Yountville Appellation.
(4/26/10) Taste of
Oakville, Oakville CA
There are few Napa tastings that can top the
Taste of Oakville for premium wines. This annual invitation only event is
usually held at the end of April and showcases some of the appellation's finest
wines. If there was a ground zero for Cabernet Sauvignon in the Napa Valley,
Oakville fits that bill. The owners and winemakers are often present at this
tasting. In 2010 The Taste of Oakville was held in the To Kalon Cellar of Robert
While Oakville as an appellation is geographically fairly small the diversity in
terroir is great - even within a span of just a few miles. Take for instance
eastern Oakville. The vineyards are located on hillsides and this region boasts
rocky, red volcanic shallow soils with long sunlight exposure. It can certainly
get warm here on a summer's afternoon. Compare this to just across the valley on
the western side (Mayacamas Mountains) where the sun exposure is less due to the
eastern facing hillsides and the land is much more wooded and covered with
vegetation. In the middle lies the valley floor.
As a result there are a wide variety of flavor profiles and types of wines
coming out of Oakville and it is a unique experience to taste this diversity
under one roof. The power players of this appellation's best producers always
pour their wines and there are usually several new producers on hand.
Two wineries with lines in front of their tasting tables were Screaming Eagle
and Harlan Estate. No surprise there! Based on their popularity its best to
taste these wines early in the tasting as they typically will stop pouring at
some point. Both wines deliver of course but for different reasons. Harlan's
2006 is an extremely layered "masculine" wine that is built to age. Upon tasting the latest release
of Screaming Eagle, the word "balanced" seemed to be the best descriptor that
immediately came to mind.
Another extremely balanced wine that we tried for the first time was Dalla
Valle's 2007 Collina (a new wine for this producer). This wine is ready to drink
now - showing soft fruit, elegance and balance.
The 2006 Tierra Roja is every bit as good as the 2004 vintage, both stellar
vintages from this small vineyard. Linda's 2007 vintage will be released in
September of this year. Winemaking starts in the vineyards and Linda is as
detailed a vineyard manager as you will find in the valley. Her focus is on a
single Cabernet Sauvignon each year from her hillside vineyard in the eastern
hills just above the valley floor.
Oakville is not the appellation for white wines but a few were being tasted
including Mondavi's reserve Fume Blanc. Good acidity and notes of green melon,
green apple and pear on the palate. A fairly new producer to the Oakville scene
is Kristine Ashe Vineyards, the only winery to be pouring 2 whites, a Sauvignon
blanc and a Rose of Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2009 Rose is light in color but
shows a rounded somewhat rich mouth feel for this type of wine.
Their 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon is slightly herbal but not herbaceous on the nose
and the palate is crafted in a lighter elegant style. Keep an eye on this
producer. All their wines are estate grown.
The 2007 Materium from Maybach Cellars is also nice by itself – it is a very
rich luscious wine.
(2/3/10) Wine Entre Femme
Tasting, San Francisco CA
The Wine Entre Femme ("an international think
tank of women in wine") was formed in January 2008 by Sharon Harris of Napa's
Amici Cellars in order to provide a network of women in wine creating networks
to help each other. Initially it was formed between Napa and Bordeaux vintners
but has since grown to include women from wineries in France, Japan, South
Africa, Switzerland and Turkey.
Each year women from both Napa and International wineries make the trip to
either the Napa Valley or Bordeaux for a week of touring, sessions, networking
and tastings. This year the Wine Entre Femme culminated in their first ever
tasting - held at the Metropolitan Club in San Francisco. The International
"feel", of course great wines from both Napa and abroad and the
differences tasted between growing regions were definitely an integral part of this tasting.
There were certainly a couple of standouts from the Napa vintners. Dalla Valle's
Estate 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon is a remarkable vintage. It is soft in entry but
with structure throughout. Elegant spices and notes of smoke show after the mid
palate with a long lingering finish. For a young wine its components are already
extremely well balanced.
Other wines that stood out are Pam Star's 2007 Cabernet Franc (tasting 1 day
before its release), Philippe Melka's 2006 Métisse from the Jumping Goat
Vineyard in St. Helena - so soft and smooth with power (note their new packaging
- a horizontal image of Philippe's eyes watching you appears on the label.
always enjoyed William Cole's elegant wines. They strive to be consistent with
their tiny vineyard showcasing the difference nature throws at them each year.
Their wines also age well - we had a rare glimpse of their older 2001 vintage.
Other notables include Arns Winery, Phifer Pavitt, Tierra Roja and Spottswood.
A nice selection of Sauterns from France were also available including our
favorites (pouring the elegant 2001 and 2004 vintages) from Chateau Sigalas
Rabaud, a Premier Cru Classe (dating from 1855) with a small annual production.