Napa Fires – Where to Learn, How to Help

Grapecrusher, not bothered by Napa FireIf you are looking for information on the Napa Fires and how they are impacting all of Napa County, please see below.  We’ve included where to go for information, where to seek help, and how to donate your time and/or money to help support Napa County residents affected by the fires.

También hay información para ayuda en Español más abajo.

The Napa Fires are actually three different fires currently.  The Atlas Fire (which started in the Atlas Peak area) has destroyed 252 structures and another 5000 are threatened. The good news is that the fire is 45% contained.  Resources currently dedicated to this particular fire include over 2100 personnel, 182 fire engines, 35 dozers, 21 helicopters and 8 air tankers.  The Tubbs fire has expanded from its Santa Rosa origin, is threatening the northern end of the Valley, and is 44% contained.  On the other hand, the Nuns fire which has combined with the Partrick fire is threatening the west side of the Valley, and is only 10% contained.

Please do not do anything that would interfere with the efforts of Fire and Police resources to fight the Napa fires and maintain public safety.
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2017 Wine & Spirits Top 100: From Achaval Ferrer to Zind-Humbrecht

àMaurice Cellars, one of the 2017 Wine & Spirits Top 100

àMaurice Cellars, one of the 2017 Wine & Spirits Top 100

Here’s an exciting way to interrupt your workweek:  the 2017 Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting is coming to San Francisco on Tuesday, October 10.  This annual event showcases Wine & Spirits’ favorite 100 wineries from the last year along with local chefs and artisanal purveyors serving small bites to complement the wines.  We have always enjoyed our experiences at this celebration of premium winemaking which has been produced in San Francisco since its inception.  This year, the 14th annual Top 100 Tasting takes place between 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm that evening at City View at METREON (135 4th Street, San Francisco) and if you move quickly you can still buy tickets for yourself and/or friends (including a chance to enter the event an hour earlier and/or attend a sparkling wine reception the night before).

Hog Island Oyster Co, Wine & Spirits Top 100 participant

Hog Island Oyster Co.

Top 100 Tasting attendees can start their evening by comparing Champagnes from wineries such as Champagne Dosnon and Louis Roederer, and pairing them with Oysters from Hog Island Oyster Co.. At the end of the night, you can wrap up with sips such as Madeira from Blandy’s, Sherry from El Maestro Sierra and Port from Taylor Fladgate. Over the past year the folks at Wine & Spirits tasted over 14,000 bottlings and these one hundred wineries came out on top, consistently delivering quality wines.

Cervaro della Sala

Cervaro della Sala from Marchesi Antinori

The Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting reflects international excellence with wineries representing fourteen different countries including Achaval Ferrer (Argentina), Penfolds (Australia), Salomon-Undhof (Austria), Concha y Toro (Chile), Domaine Zind-Humbrecht (France), Weingut Robert Weil (Germany), Kir-Yianni (Greece), Marchesi Antinori (Italy), Craggy Range (New Zealand), VADIO (Portugal), Movia Wines (Slovenia), DeMorgenzon (South Africa) and González Byass (Spain).  There will also be plenty of wineries from the US.

Dutton-Goldfield, one of the 2017 Wine & Spirits Top 100

Dutton-Goldfield

The domestic wineries pouring tastes that evening include Top 100 winners from Napa Valley (Corison, Silverado Vineyards, von Strasser), Sonoma County (Dutton-Goldfield, LIOCO, The Withers Winery), and Willamette Valley (Bergström Wines, Cristom Vineyards, J. Christopher Wines).  The state of Washington will be well represented with àMaurice Cellars, Andrew Will Winery, Col Solare, DeLille Cellars, Gramercy Cellars and Reynvaan Family Vineyards among the 100.
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Strategize Now: The 2017 Wine & Food Affair

2017 Wine & Food AffairGrab your phone and put on your game face because it’s time to plan a trip to Sonoma County for the 2017 Wine & Food Affair on November 4th and 5th. Over 90 wineries are waiting for Foodies, Cooks, and Wine Lovers (or people who are all three) to come taste their wines, with each business preparing a special dish to sample along with the perfect wine.  One of the many appeals of the Wine & Food Affair event is that every time you find a combination you like, you can buy the wine right there (possibly at a discount) and then go home and recreate the experience whenever you want.

The event’s website has the recipe for each winery’s featured dish you’ll be tasting that weekend. So, you could actually duplicate one or more of the pairings from the 2017 Wine & Food Affair experience the following weekend if you were so inclined. Or, you can let the wine age and then recreate a particular pairing at some point in the future.  Food and wine pairing aficionados could also prepare their favorite dish from the weekend themselves and find their own best match with wines from their own cellar.

Vegetable Rotini with Parmesan Cream Sauce at 2016 Wine & Food Affair

Vegetable Rotini with Parmesan Cream Sauce

Last year, our favorite food and wine pairing was the Acorn Winery Sangiovese matched to Vegetable Rotini with Parmesan Cream Sauce.  Our preferred combination involving white wine was the Chalk Hill Estate Estate Chardonnay and a Crushed Avocado, Grapefruit and Parsley Bruschetta.  Collectively, our favorite wines last year included Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Charbono, Dolcetto, Grenache, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Zinfandel.

Tri-Tip at Wilson Winery at 2017 Wine & Food Affair

Tri-Tip at Wilson Winery

This year?  Dishes being prepared for guests at the 2017 Wine & Food Affair include Seafood Croquettes (Lauterbach Cellars), Wild Mushroom Risotto (Francis Ford Coppola Winery), Macaroni and Cheese (MacPhail Wines), Chicken Tamales (Stephen & Walker Winery), Braised Beef Short Ribs (Soda Rock Winery) and Indian Lamb Curry (Amista Vineyards).  Once again, Wilson Winery is grilling their Famous Marinated Tri-Tip for visitors and if you’ve ever tried it before you know their Zinfandel, Garlic and Black Pepper marinade is just magical.

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Lodi Wine Tasting : Way More Than Zinfandel

Bokisch Vineyards, a favorite Lodi Wine Tasting destination

Bokisch Vineyards

Do you realize what a wonderful place Lodi is for wine tasting?  We’re not just talking about Zinfandel: Lodi also produces many impressive white wines. In fact, Lodi grows more than 100 varietals. On some recent Lodi wine tasting trips we discovered outstanding Albariño, Chenin Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Grenache Blanc, Moscato, Picpoul Blanc, Roussanne, Symphony, Verdejo, Verdelho, and Vermentino.  We expect to return many times to Acquiesce Winery and Bokisch Vineyards, and we found a delightful white wine blend from Markus Wine Company featuring the Kerner grape.

Michael David Winery

Michael David Winery

On the red wine side, our Lodi wine tasting efforts revealed tasty Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignane, Cinsault, Grenache, Graciano, Nero d’Avola, Petit Verdot, Tempranillo, and Touriga wines.  Our favorite California wineries now include Borra Vineyards, Fields Family Wines, Michael David Winery and Oak Farm Vineyards. We enjoyed delicious port wines at St. Amant Winery and our favorite Zinfandel was at McCay Cellars.  We also tasted wines crafted from the Souzáo grape for the first time at St. Jorge Winery and discovered we liked that varietal.

In addition to great wines, Lodi also has plenty of food destinations for a variety of moods. If you’re looking for fast and easy, the first frosty mug of A&W Root Beer was served here in Lodi in 1919 and the restaurant on Lodi Avenue is still serving up Papa Burgers, Fries and Root Beer Floats.  If a relaxing Brunch on an outdoor patio is more your speed, the Towne House Restaurant features premium wines, specialty cocktails, and dishes such as Banana Stuffed French Toast, Loco Moco or a Smoked Salmon Scramble.   You can also find delicious Scones, Salads and Sandwiches in the area.

A@W Root BeerKeep reading and we’ll tell you about some of our favorite places you may want to explore on your own.  For additional information, seek out the Visit Lodi! Visitor Center to read about the Lodi Wine Appellation and its 7 sub-appellations, view a historic postcard collection, and take a step back in time with the A&W Root Beer Mug collection.  Visitor Guides and other helpful information can be found at the Visitor Center for free.   open 10 am to 5 pm Tues – Fri, 10 am to 4:30 pm Sat, 25 North School Street, Lodi, 800-798-1810.

If you haven’t been wine tasting in Lodi lately, we strongly suggest you change that.
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Brasswood Estate: More Than Just A Winery

Brasswood Estate Tasting Room

Brasswood Estate

Have you been to Brasswood Estate in the Napa Valley lately?  If not, you should add this “lifestyle property” to your future plans. Want to go wine tasting and tour some wine caves?  You can do that here. In the mood to do some shopping? There’s an onsite Bottleshop + Mercantile store selling luxury goods, wine and liquor.  Need a place for dinner? The Brasswood Bar + Kitchen is here to help. Has your day just started, and you’re already desperate for a Bloody Mary or a Breakfast Burrito at 8 am?  Well, they can cover that too at the Brasswood Bar + Bakery. The concept here is to celebrate the local bounty by making elegant wines and delicious foods, and creating a warm and welcoming space where guests can relax and enjoy the finer things in life.

Some of you may recall the long-closed Napa Valley outlets on Highway 29 between downtown St. Helena and Calistoga. That’s where you’ll now find the 52-acre Brasswood Estate campus housing multiple tasting rooms, a custom crush state-of-the-art winery, and separate onsite restaurant and café establishments (each with a bar) which are collectively open from 8 am to 9 pm. This all happens at 3111 St. Helena Highway, St. Helena. There are also several spacious locations for rent if you’re planning a future event for personal or professional reasons.

Winemaker's Den at Brasswood Estate

Winemaker’s Den

The Tasting Room here is open from 10 am to 5 pm daily and walk-in visitors are welcome to enjoy the Signature Tasting (although reservations are recommended). There are additional tasting experiences to select from if you make a reservation in advance. The Den Tasting offers a seated tasting in the charmingly rustic Winemaker’s Den where wines are paired with artisan cheeses. Or, a Cave Tour and Tasting includes a backstage tour of the winery and its 17,000 square foot caves as well as the Bottleshop + Mercantile as you explore the winery’s wines.
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Santa Lucia Highlands: Some Lovely Highlights

Santa Lucia Highlands

Santa Lucia Highlands

We’d like to tell you about one of our favorite appellations, Santa Lucia Highlands.  If the name “Santa Lucia Highlands” doesn’t automatically ring a bell, chances are the vineyards will. This AVA includes Doctor’s Vineyard, Garys’ Vineyard, Lone Oak Vineyard, Mer Soleil Vineyard, Paraiso Vineyard, Peterson Vineyard, Pisoni Vineyard, Rosella’s Vineyard, Sierra Mar Vineyard, Sleepy Hollow Vineyard, Smith & Hook Vineyard, Soberanes Vineyard and Tondré Grapefield Vineyard.  So, you may already be familiar with excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines made from grapes grown here.

J. McFarland Wines

J. McFarland Wines Blanc de Blanc

The Santa Lucia Highlands American Viticultural Area (AVA) is located in Monterey County on the eastern side of the coastal Santa Lucia Range of mountains.  About 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean, it is slightly under 18 miles long and has approximately 6,000 acres of grapevines.  There are 50 vineyard properties currently, primarily planted with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, at elevations ranging from 300 to 1,400 feet. The next most common varietals in the region are Riesling, Syrah, Pinot Gris and Viognier.

This is a cool growing region due to its proximity to Monterey Bay and the earliest Vinifera plantings were at Mission Soledad in the 1790s by Spanish missionaries.  The first commercial plantings for the area were completed in the 1970s by local pioneers such as Nicky Hahn (Smith & Hook), Rick Smith (Paraiso), the McFarlands (Sleepy Hollow) and Phil Johnson (La Estancia).  Since then, local winegrowers continue to test new clones, trellising systems and farming regimens in the pursuit of excellent wines.  Conscientious viticultural standards, whether organic, biodynamic, or sustainable, have long been the norm here.
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Travel Advice: Stags Leap District

Regusci Winery

Regusci Winery

Appellation Name: Stags Leap District

Where: Napa County in California

Officially Established:  January 27, 1989

Location: In southeastern Napa Valley, centered along the Silverado Trail. The appellation is roughly bounded by Yountville Cross Road on the north side, Oak Knoll Avenue on the south side, and is only about one mile wide. For an exact, 8-step description of the official boundaries, please go here. To see a map of the area, please go here.

Stags Leap Wine Cellars SLD Cabernet Sauvignon

Stags Leap Wine Cellars 2014 SLD Cabernet Sauvignon

Background: The Stags Leap District has been growing grapes since the mid-1800’s, although the first Cabernet Sauvignon grapevines weren’t planted until 1961, by Nathan Fay. In 1976, the Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars’ 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon took first place at the famous “Judgment of Paris,” surpassing Bordeaux wines. This brought much attention to Napa Valley and the Stags Leap area. The unofficial but very popular reason for the name of the region arises from the legend of a stag who successfully eluded hunters by leaping to freedom across the District’s landmark peaks.

Wines/Varietals known for: The Stags Leap District is most famous for its Cabernet Sauvignon wines, and over 80% of the grapevines here are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon. Other red Bordeaux varietals, and Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay also do well here.
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