TOHM Turns Twenty: The 2015 Taste of Howell Mountain

Taste of Howell MountainIt’s time to celebrate two decades of fun at Taste of Howell Mountain, coming to Charles Krug Winery on Saturday, June 20th from 12:00 to 5:00 pm. Come join the party at 2800 Main Street (Highway 29) in St. Helena and indulge in fabulous wines from the Howell Mountain appellation along with gourmet food pairings, live entertainment, and both Silent and Live Auctions.

Pina Napa Valley

Pina Napa Valley

This year marks the 20th Annual Taste of Howell Mountain Wine Tasting and Auction so come indulge (or re-indulge) in the wines made from grapes grown “Above the Fog.” From 12:00 to 3:00 you have the chance to 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 enter the Carriage House and enjoy even more wine, dessert, and a festive Live Auction.

Howell Mountain is well known for its incredible Cabernet Sauvignon but we have also tasted outstanding Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah at this event in prior years (as well as a few noteworthy Rosés).  Tickets for the event are $125 per person, or $1000 for a Table for Ten, and proceeds from the event will help benefit the Howell Mountain Education Foundation.  But, please move quickly because this event will sell out.

Aloft Wines

Aloft Wines

There will be at least 35 premium wineries showcasing their wines that day including AloftArkenstone Vineyards, Black Sears Estate WinesBremer Family WineryCimarossaClif Family Winery, Cresta VeliaDuckhorn Vineyards, Dunn VineyardsLamborn Family VineyardsNotre VinO’Shaughnessy Estate WineryPiña Napa ValleyPrim Family Vineyard, Retro Cellars, Robert Craig Winery, and Round Two Wines. To see the complete list of participating wineries and/or to purchase tickets, please go here.

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Loving Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District: Our Favorite Experiences at Vineyard to Vintner

Napa Valley's Stags Leap District

Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District

Last month, we had the immense pleasure of attending the Stags Leap District Vineyard to Vintner event, a weekend of intimate opportunities to taste this appellation’s world-class Cabernets (and other premium wines) while mingling with the winery owners and winemakers in their historic wineries (and private homes). During our “V2V” travels we were even able to visit some wineries not usually open to the public.

Known worldwide for its Cabernet Sauvignon, the Stags Leap District produces wines critically acclaimed for their  lush fruit and soft tannins with complex layers of flavor.  The district is bounded on the east by the towering Stags Leap Palisades, to the west by gently rolling hills and the Napa River, to the north by the Yountville Cross Road, and to the south by low-lying flatlands. Today, approximately 90% of the 1,200 acres (of the appellation’s entire 2700 acres) are currently planted with Cabernet Sauvignon or other Bordeaux varietals.

Stags' Leap Winery

2011 “The Leap” from Stags’ Leap Winery, one of our favorite wines from the weekend

The 2015 Vineyard to Vintners offered Winemaker Dinners, Winery Open Houses, and then a Closing Brunch which provided a comprehensive peek at upcoming Cabernet Sauvignon releases.  With only about 500 attendees, the activities felt intimate, attentive and exclusive.  Keep reading and we’ll tell you about our favorite wines, foods, and views as we learned (and experienced) more of this appellation than we had ever before.
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Mother’s Day Brunch in Napa Valley 2015

Roses and gift card for Mother's DayAre you looking to take Mom out for a special Mother’s Day Brunch in Napa Valley this year but aren’t sure where to go?  If so, we’ll tell you what’s going on at some of the best restaurants in Napa Valley on May 10 to help you make a decision. Whether you are looking for a family-style meal, an all-you-can-eat buffet, or if you just prefer to order à la carte, there’s a Mother’s Day Brunch option that’s bound to be perfect.

Fresh FruitMany Napa Valley restaurants have wonderful menus for Sunday Brunch throughout the year, while some of them are creating a special Mother’s Day Brunch for next weekend.  If you’re looking for typical brunch options such as fruit, smoked salmon, granola, pancakes, omelets, or even a cheeseburger, you’re going to find it.  But since this is Napa Valley, your menu choices will also include Beignets with Bourbon Caramel Sauce, Valrhona Hot Chocolate, Grilled Delta Asparagus, Steel Cut Oats, Croque Madame, Chilaquiles al Guajillo, Yellowfin Tuna Sliders and Organic Chicken Salad.

Keep reading to learn about your brunch choices this year for Mother’s Day, and you can follow the links below to see the full menus.  We strongly suggest you move quickly to make any reservations, because Mom deserves that little extra piece of effort.
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Taste Alexander Valley: Savoring Wine and Food on Sonoma County’s Back Roads

Taste Alexander Valley PostcardIn just a few weeks, the 18th annual Taste Alexander Valley unfolds from May 15-17, 2015, so it might be a good time for you to visit (or revisit) this majestic valley. The festivities begin Friday night with a Magnum Dinner and Barn Dance at a private equestrian ranch. Then, over 25 wineries open their vineyards, wineries and tasting rooms on Saturday and Sunday for an Open House between 11 am and 4 pm where guests can enjoy world class wines, food pairings, live entertainment, vineyard walks and special wine offers.

Alexander Valley

Alexander Valley

Taste Alexander Valley is a three-day wine and food event showcasing the wine country lifestyle of this northern Sonoma County of breathtaking mountain views and beautiful vineyard back roads. During the Winery Open Houses on May 16 and 17, these are just some of the wine and food pairings you could enjoy:

  • Trione Vineyards and Winery is providing their Sauvignon Blanc paired with Shrimp and Grits
  • Arbios/Praxis Cellars is offering both Viognier and Gewürztraminer to combine with Spring Pea and Mint Soup
  • Medlock Ames is sharing their Russian River Valley Chardonnay to go along with Truffle Macaroni and Cheese
  • deLorimier Winery is pouring a River Lane Primitivo to compliment a Slow Cooked BBQ Pulled Pork Slider
  • Robert Young Estate Winery is matching their Merlot with Portabella “Fries” with Parmesan, Chili Flakes and Balsamic Glaze
  • Rodney Strong Vineyards is pairing their Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon with Charred Beef Shortrib with Argentine Chimichurri & Gold Potato Purée
  • White Oak Vineyards & Winery is sharing their Syrah with Blue Cheese Sliders and Caramelized Onions.
Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Participating wineries on Saturday and Sunday also include Breathless Wines, Field Stone Winery & Vineyard, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Soda Rock Winery, Stonestreet Winery, Stryker Sonoma Winery and Stuhlmuller Vineyards.
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Springtime at Clear Lake: The 2015 Lake County Wine Adventure

2015 Lake County Wine Adventure LogoIf you haven’t been wine tasting in the Lake County region recently, you can grab your chance at the 2015 Lake County Wine Adventure on May 15-17. You (and your friends) can enjoy wine, food, music and more between 11 am and 5 pm over 2 days that weekend at 26 wineries surrounding Clear Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake in California. The Adventure weekend is a great way to discover how well they make wines in this region of high elevations, rolling hillsides and valley floors next to a majestic (but happily dormant) volcano (Mt. Konocti).

One of Lake County’s appeals is that you can find a wide spectrum of delicious wines in the area. The wines made from grapes grown here include more common varietals (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon) and less frequently found ones (Aglianico, Barbera, Charbono, Grenache, Grenache Blanc, Muscat, Tempranillo) as well as only-in-Lake-County offerings (Sparkling Pear Wine, proprietary blends).

Lake County

View of Clear Lake from Vigilance Winery

The Lake County Wine Adventure has typically been held in late July, but the springtime rescheduling this year should provide a less intensely sunny experience. The Saturday and Sunday Passport Weekend is an optimal way to visit over two dozen wineries in a relaxed, rural and breathtaking environment only two hours by car from either the San Francisco Bay Area or the Sacramento Valley. For 2015, event organizers have also created a special Friday night kickoff event.
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Who Would Have Expected a Radish to Win? (Highlights from bASH 2015)

Garden Radish with Beef and Blue "Butter"

Garden Radish with Beef and Blue “Butter”

The stellar wines of Appellation St. Helena (ASH) recently took center stage at bASH 2015, the annual food and wine pairing competition where attendees’ votes determine the ultimate winners. Over 30 premium wineries from the appellation helped form separate contests for Culinary Institute of America at Greystone student teams and local professional chefs with diverse food dishes incorporating ingredients such as Foie Gras, Quail Eggs, Manila Clams, Beef Short Ribs and Duck Confit.

Thanks to the event we were able to savor outstanding ASH wines such as the Corley Family 2009 Yewell Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, the Spottswoode Estate 2012 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, the Taplin Cellars 2010 Terra 9 Cabernet Sauvignon, and both the Parry Cellars 2009 and 2011 Cabernet Sauvignons.  Napa Valley may be Cabernet Sauvignon country but the Appellation St. Helena wineries were also pouring Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Sangiovese, Merlot, Malbec, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel for the happy crowd. In fact, choices also included Rosés and a Port.

bASH First Place RibbonWe were pleasantly surprised when our favorite pairing that night won a First Place ribbon in the competition. The delicious wine was Trinchero Napa Valley’s 2011 Central Park West Petit Verdot, from winemaker Mario Monticelli, served with a Garden Radish with Beef and Blue “Butter” from CIA Student Chefs Ryan Paternostro (New Orleans, LA) and Nick Sobiek (Reno, NV).   They created their dish by pickling French Breakfast Radishes, stuffing them with a combination of Bone Marrow and Gorgonzola Dulce, and then garnishing the radishes with Dark Rye Bread Crumbs.  Visually, the presentation was a charming “planting” of the radishes in Rye Bread “dirt.”
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Sparkling Wines and Hopland Passport Events: More Reasons to Visit Mendocino County

Champagne Being PouredIt’s almost time for Sparkling Wine Season, so we thought you should know about A Celebration of Mendocino Sparkling Wines coming to Terra Sávia Winery (14160 Mountain House Road, Hopland) on April 11. A few weeks later, the Destination Hopland organization presents Hopland Passport when over a dozen local wineries invite guests for two days of wine tasting, food pairings and/or live entertainment the first weekend of May. Keep reading and we’ll tell you more about these two excellent reasons to visit the Hopland region this Spring and personally experience this “Gateway to Beautiful Mendocino County.”

Strawberry with ChocolateTen of Mendocino County’s premier sparkling wine producers will join together for a stellar wine and food event at A Celebration of Mendocino Sparkling Wines between noon and 4 pm on April 11. The wines will be accompanied by artisan Cheeses, fresh Tomales Bay Oysters, Paella Valenciana and Strawberries with Dark Chocolate at Terra Sávia Winery.

Let’s face it: Mother’s Day, Graduations, and June weddings are coming up.  And, it’s no fun standing in the middle of Safeway on your way to a celebration trying to remember which sparkling wine Ashley and Christopher served at their wedding last summer that you sorta liked.  With A Celebration of Mendocino Sparkling Wines, you can sample a variety of sparkling wines and then you will know for sure which ones you want on hand for upcoming scheduled (and spontaneous) special occasions.
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