Savoring the Mountain by the Bay: Recent Favorites from Mt. Veeder

Robert Craig Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon

Robert Craig Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon

If you’re looking for some high quality Chardonnays and/or Cabernet Sauvignons from Napa Valley, it may be time to re-acquaint yourself with wines made from grapes grown in the hillside appellation of Mount Veeder.  Wineries here have been producing richly intense, age-worthy wines since the 1860’s (and not just Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon).  Keep reading and we’ll recommend some wines and places to aim for based on our recent experience at a Taste of Mount Veeder event held just two weeks ago.

Mount Veeder’s wine production is impacted by its physical attributes and Mother Nature, collectively resulting in the longest growing season and the lowest yields in Napa Valley. Grape growing and harvesting is difficult here, as the rugged terrain and steep slopes result in most vineyard work having to be done by hand.  The land’s proximity to the cool influence of the nearby San Pablo Bay helps counteract the ground’s shallow top soil and minimal water retention. For years, this “Mountain by the Bay” has been the source of excellent wines for us to savor and share with friends.

Fontanella Family Winery

Fontanella Family Winery

Below are recommended wines for you to seek out at local wine stores, restaurants and/or online. On the other hand, if you want to go wine tasting to explore these wines (and the rest of the wineries’ portfolios) on your own, we’ve included the street addresses for the wineries’ tasting rooms that are open to the public (and also noted if you need to have an appointment). FYI, The Hess Collection doesn’t require an appointment at all and we’ve been able to schedule tastings at Fontanella Family Winery, Robert Craig Winery and Y Rousseau Wines fairly easily in the past.

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Celebrating Napa Valley’s Terroir: The 2016 Wine Library Association Tasting

Napa Valley Wine Library Association TastingCelebrate summer and Napa Valley wines in two weeks at a classic (and lovely) wine tasting event: the Napa Valley Wine Library Association Annual Tasting.  This relaxing walk-around tasting will be held under the sheltering oaks of The Grove at Silverado Resort & Spa (1600 Atlas Peak Road, Napa) on August 14th between 5 and 7 pm.  For 2016, participating wineries have been encouraged to pour wines they feel keenly reflect a sense of Napa Valley, a certain terroir.

The Napa Valley Wine Library Association (NVWLA) Tasting is free, but for NVWLA members only.  Membership is just $100 per person (and your membership dollars help support a worthy local cause). NVWLA benefits include discounts on courses and seminars throughout the year, a semi-annual Wine Library Report, and admission to the Tasting (now in its 54th year) on August 14: so you should move quickly and go here to join.

Stags' Leap Winery

Stags’ Leap Winery

Are you a fan of Cabernet Sauvignon?  If so, you should know that you will be able to “take a tour” of Napa Valley at the Library Association Tasting because wineries will be sharing wines crafted from this varietal and representing grapes grown in Atlas Peak (Dos Lagos Vineyards), Coombsville (Rocca Family Vineyards), Diamond Mountain (von Strasser Winery), Howell Mountain (CADE Estate), Mt. Veeder (Paratus), Oak Knoll (Stormy Weather), Oakville (Groth Vineyards & Winery), St. Helena (Crocker & Starr), Spring Mountain (Stony Hill Vineyard) and Stags Leap District (Stags’ Leap Winery).
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Mount Veeder Calls: The 2016 Appellation Wine Tasting

2016 Mount Veeder Appellation Wine TastingMark your calendars and prep your tastebuds because the Mount Veeder Appellation Wine Tasting is less than a month away, on Saturday, August 6th. You don’t want to miss out on this opportunity to taste and enjoy wines from 25 Mount Veeder wineries, including several that aren’t normally open to the public, all gathered at The Hess Collection (4411 Redwood Road, Napa).

Between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm that day, the Tasting will celebrate the amazing wines from this appellation accompanied by small bites, live music and a silent auction.  General Admission is going to be $100 per person but if you move quickly you may still be able to purchase Special Advance Tickets for only $75 each. For more details, and to purchase tickets, please go here.

Robert Craig Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon

Robert Craig Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon

Participants in the Mount Veeder Appellation Wine Tasting include wineries both big and small, with experience all the way up to 40 years in the business. This event offers a delightful opportunity to enjoy Fontanella Family Winery Chardonnay, Godspeed Vineyards Chardonnay, Yates Family Vineyard Cheval (Cabernet Franc), Lagier Meredith Tribidrag (Zinfandel), Robert Craig Winery Cabernet Sauvignon and Y. Rousseau Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, among others.

As you can probably tell, we encourage people to attend this event because we always find wines to love and recommend ourselves at each year’s tasting. Some of the other wineries pouring this year will be Anthem Winery & VineyardsChateau PotelleThe Hess CollectionMarketta Winery, Mayacamas VineyardsMithra WineryMount Veeder WineryO’Shaughnessy Estate WineryProgenyRubissow Wines and Vinoce.
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Wonderful Wine Bars in Washington DC

White House in Washington DCAny chance you’re heading to Washington DC?  There are certainly plenty of reasons to do so, with attractions ranging from the pillars of our political system to fascinating museums to reverential and reflective monuments. The area’s outstanding food and wine offerings offer even more appeal, including wine bars located in multiple neighborhoods. These destinations offer a cosmopolitan selection of wines by the glass and dishes for all palates ranging from a Watermelon Salad to a Grilled Vegetable Panino to Rigatoni with a Fennel Sausage Ragu.

We recently visited Washington DC and discovered plenty  of local specialties to recommend to visitors and guests of all ages, including Honduras Coffee at Chinatown Coffee, the Raisin Snail at Firehook Bakery, Fresh Guacamole at Oyamel, a Chili Dog at Ben’s Chili Bowl, Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes at Market Lunch, the Bacon Meatball Sandwich at Red Apron Butcher, Tahitian Vanilla Bean Gelato at Dolcezza and the expansive Dupont Circle Farmers Market on Sundays (with our favorite booths including Baklava Couture, FireFly Farms Creamery and Zeke’s Coffee). On your next trip here, we’re letting you know all of those establishments are worth making detours for.

Iron Gate Restaurant and WIne Bar

Iron Gate

But let’s talk about wine. There are many wine bars in Washington DC trying to meet your needs for lunch, happy hour, dinner and sometimes even brunch. We tried a lot of them (but not all) and happily found a ½ dozen we can heartily recommend to you. Keep reading, and we’ll tell you the places where we were most impressed based on a combination of thoughtfully curated wine lists, well-crafted small plates and outstanding customer service.

We’ll also let you know which wines and food items we enjoyed the most (in case they’re still on the menu when you go).
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Wine Country Destination: Lake County

Clear Lake in Lake County with VineyardsHave you been wine tasting in Lake County recently?  The first vineyards here were planted back in the 1870’s and today the County has over 30 wineries.  Many of the area’s winegrowers are generational farmers whose families grew other crops (such as pears and walnuts) before planting vineyards.  We highly recommend this area to others as a wine country travel destination, especially those who enjoy wines crafted from mountain fruit (most of the vineyards here are planted at elevations above 1,500 feet, with some up to 7,000 feet).

Lake County may be most recognized for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, but we also find outstanding wines here made from Chardonnay, Sangiovese, Malbec, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel grapes.  We have also fallen in love with well-crafted blends from the area such as Chacewater Winery’s Highlander Blend, Rosa d’Oro’s Traigrammaton and Six Sigma Ranch’s Mountain Cuvee.

Lake County Wine Adventure

Lake County Wine Adventure

We recently attended the local wineries’ Lake County Wine Adventure event and we’ll tell you about our favorite wines from that experience.  We strongly suggest you seek out these wines yourself at your local wine store, restaurant, or at the winery itself because this is really a lovely place to visit (and it’s only two hours by car from either the Bay Area or the Sacramento Valley).

After all, if you’re going to go wine tasting this summer, why not do it in a relaxed and breathtaking environment next to Clear Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake in California?  Keep reading and we’ll also tell you about other activities you can do in the area between sips, and some key events coming up this summer that may help you create a fun and diverse Lake County trip itinerary.
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Bottle Shock, Uncorked: Sing Out, Chateau Montelena!

Bottle Shock: The MusicalLooking for a new experience in Napa Valley?  How about a sneak peek into the creation of a world premiere musical opening on stage later this year in San Francisco?  And, what if we told you the show in development was Bottle Shock: The Musical, a musical adaptation of the 2008 movie about the famous “Judgment of Paris” competition?  Yes, that one: the movie starring Alan Rickman, Bill Pullman and Chris Pine about the Paris wine tasting of 1976 where Napa Valley wines outshone French wines, and the event’s impact on winemakers and grapegrowers in the Valley.

Chateau Montelena

Chateau Montelena

On June 18, the Napa Valley Opera House (1030 Main Street, Napa) will be the setting for Bottle Shock, Uncorked, a gala evening which starts with wine tastings from the wineries involved in the “Judgment of Paris”: Chateau Montelena and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.  Other wineries participating in the gala tasting will include Gustavo Wine, Avinodos and Madonna Estate.  After you’ve had the chance to appreciate these lovely wines, you can savor a stellar three-course meal overseen by Polly Lappetito (Executive Chef of Ciccio in Yountville).

After the Napa Valley wine and cuisine, the Bottle Shock, Uncorked gala includes a concert featuring Broadway star Carrie Manolakos and acclaimed local actress Taylor Bartollucci introducing you to some of the music and lyrics being written for the show.  Drawing on the rock-and-roll sound of the Bay Area in the mid 1970’s, the musical’s original score is inspired by legendary rockers such as Santana, The Doobie Brothers, The Allman Brothers and Janis Joplin.
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TOHM Turns Legal: The 2016 Taste of Howell Mountain

Howell Mountain "Above The Fog"The delightful Taste of Howell Mountain, a Wine Tasting and Auction event in upper Napa Valley, turns 21 this year on Saturday, June 18th. This is one party you should definitely consider RSVPing for: the afternoon’s festivities offer fabulous wines from the Howell Mountain appellation along with gourmet food pairings, live entertainment, and both Silent and Live Auctions at Charles Krug Winery (2800 Main Street, St. Helena).  We’re talking about wineries such as Aloft Wine, CADE Estate, La Jota Vineyard Co., Robert Craig Winery and Rudius Wines all pouring tastes in one location.

At the 2016 Taste of Howell Mountain, between 12:00 and 3:00 you’ll enjoy a Walk-Around Wine Tasting, Food Pairings, Prizes, a Silent Auction and Live Music from The Hummingbirdz.  Then, from 3:00 to 5:00 you can sit with friends (and/or newly discovered friends) and enjoy even more Howell Mountain wine and Strawberry Shortcake as you watch (and hopefully participate in) an active and festive Live Auction.

Robert Craig Winery

Robert Craig Winery

Howell Mountain is well known for its incredible Cabernet Sauvignon and you’ll have many wines to enjoy during the afternoon crafted from that varietal.  But, there’s more to Howell Mountain than just Cabernet and at last year’s event we particularly enjoyed a Red Cap Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, Robert Craig Winery La Fleur (Rosé of Zinfandel), O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery Merlot, Howell Mountain Vineyards Petit Verdot and Arkenstone Vineyards Syrah as well. Tickets for this year’s event are $150 per person and proceeds from the event will help benefit the Howell Mountain Education Foundation. You can also purchase an entire table for 10 if you are so inclined. But, no matter how many tickets you need please move quickly because this event will definitely sell out.
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