2019 Napa Valley Film Festival: Dim the Lights

Uptown Theatre, a 2019 Napa Valley Film Festival venueWe’re just a few days away from the 2019 Napa Valley Film Festival and if you need a break right now you should seriously consider attending. There are still passes and tickets available for purchase, and part of what makes a film festival special is the live participation of writers, directors, actors and producers in Q&A sessions following practically every screening. Part of what makes the Napa Valley Film Festival special is the combination of excellent films with visiting celebrities, fun parties, and the Valley’s outstanding wine and food.

The 2019 Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF) runs between Wednesday and Sunday, November 13-17, and there are all sorts of ticket and/or pass options to accommodate your personal schedule. Many things are the same at this year’s Festival (Special Opening and Closing Night Films, Wine Tasting IntermissionsCelebrity Tributes, the annual Gala, the Friday Night Bash). But, there are also some changes this year: Culinary Demonstrations in the Monogram Demonstration Kitchen, “Masterclass” guided tastings of Scotch Whiskies, and some free film screenings in the morning.

The Napa Valley Film Festival will be offering free entry to all morning screenings at the Lincoln Theater this year. Showings include My Beautiful Stutter (a documentary about 5 kids who stutter, capturing their transformation after they enter a groundbreaking program), It All Begins with a Song: The Story of the Nashville Songwriter (a celebration of one of music’s most important yet underrated forces), and Standing Up, Falling Down (a comedy starring Billy Crystal and Ben Schwartz about an unlikely friendship). You can reserve tickets at the Festival’s website, on the “Tickets” page under the “Community Screenings” section.
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The 2019 Wine & Spirits Top 100 is 10/10: Don’t Miss Out, SF

Future scene of 2019 Wine & Spirits Top 100You don’t have to wait for Friday to celebrate because the 2019 Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting is coming to San Francisco this Thursday, October 10th.  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. Penfolds, Marchesi Antinori, Ridge Vineyards, Louis Jadot, Diamond Creek, L’Ecole Nº 41, and Williams Selyem are among the returning awardees for 2019. We have always enjoyed our experiences at this celebration of premium winemaking and we encourage you to join us there.

L’Ecole No 41 Cabernet Sauvignons

L’Ecole No 41

This year, the Top 100 Tasting takes place between 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm at City View at METREON (135 4th Street, San Francisco). If you move quickly you can still buy tickets for yourself and/or friends.  General Admission tickets are $135 each and come with a one-year subscription to Wine & Spirits magazine. Or, you can splurge for a VIP Admission ticket which provides you entrance one hour earlier (at 5:30 pm) for $50 more.  Please go here to purchase tickets.  If you are a member of the Bay Area food and wine Trade, you may be able to still obtain a discounted Trade ticket.

Oysters, a small plate at the 2019 Wine & Spirits Top 100 TastingWe suggest you begin your evening at the 2019 Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting by exploring Champagnes from wineries such as Bollinger, Bruno Paillard, Krug, and Louis Roederer.  Then, compare your favorites with Cava from Pere Ventura and enjoy Oysters from The Oyster Girls between sips.  After you’ve sampled oustanding white wines and red wines , you can wrap up your evening with Port from Quinta do Noval, Taylor Fladgate and/or W. & J. Grahams.  To go with the Port, you should look for treats from Socola Chocolatier and Recchiuti Confections.
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Winery Spotlight: Auteur Wines

Auteur Wines Tasting Room

Auteur Wines Tasting Room

The tasting room for Auteur Wines is located in a charming bungalow just off of the historic Sonoma Plaza in downtown Sonoma. The winery was founded in 2003 by Kenneth Juhasz and his wife Laura, with a focus on wonderful expressions of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Auteur strives to create pure, profound and authentic wines and has earned a solid reputation for producing amazing wines. The Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs have earned many well-deserved accolades over the years.

Auteur Wines – The Story

The winery’s name Auteur (pronounced “oh-tour”) is taken from the French, meaning composer or author. This reflects the winery’s philosophy to be independent to explore the diversity of vineyards, push boundaries and collaborate to produce wines which tell their story of time and place.

Pinot Noir GrapesKenneth originally found his passion for wine while working in restaurants and wine shops during college. After graduating, he started his wine career in Oregon and eventually spent time in Napa and New Zealand before planting roots in Sonoma. Along the way, he has been the winemaker or consulted for Donum Estate, Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery, Pali Wine Co., Blue Farm, Dunstan Wines and Tuck Beckstoffer Wines. Kenneth was especially inspired by the wines of Burgundy, and his winemaking values the traditions of the old world while integrating the freshness and vitality of the new world.
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Vintner’s Vanguard = Wonderful Wines

Vintner's Vanguard event at Brasswood EstateWe encourage you to consider heading to St. Helena at the end of next week for Vintner’s Vanguard, a wine tasting event showcasing the amazing wines crafted at Brasswood Estate’s custom crush facility. This walk-around tasting includes small boutique producers such as Aloft, Bevan Cellars, Ladera, M by Michael Mondavi, Moone-Tsai Wines and Brasswood Cellars itself.  They’ll be joined by another dozen wineries pouring their boutique wines between noon and 3 pm on Saturday August 24 in The Gallery at Brasswood (3111 North St. Helena Highway, St. Helena).

This is your chance to savor and enjoy the most recent wines from winemakers Jade Barrett, Russell Bevan, Rosemary Cakebread, Michael DeSantis, Stacia Dowdell, Philippe Melka, Robbie Meyer, Tim Milos, Angelina Mondavi, Michael Mondavi, Jason Moore and Jennifer Williams.  Tickets are $125 per person and can be purchased here.  We’re also happy to share that if you enter the promo code “BRASSWOOD” you can save $25 per person.
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Wine Lands: Wine (and more) at Outside Lands

Outside Lands, home of Wine Lands

photo courtesy of Tom Jorgensen/Outside Lands

If you’re heading to Outside Lands next weekend in San Francisco, we want to make sure you know all about Wine Lands during the festival. That’s where you’ll find 48 wineries uncorking 125 different wines for your tasting pleasure including Ashes & Diamonds, Joel Gott and Long Meadow Ranch. With most of the wineries coming from Northern California, you’ll find a broad range of sparkling wines, white wines, rosés and red wines. You should also know that if you move quickly, you can also still buy tickets for one, two, or all three days at the August 9-11 Outside Lands festival.

Wine Director Peter Eastlake has been curating the offerings at Wine Lands for 12 years now, since the first Outside Lands. Formerly the Wine Director at Best Cellars Wine & Spirits in New York, and National Wine Buyer for Cost Plus, he is currently the owner of three wine stores in Berkeley (Vintage Berkeley College Avenue, Vintage Berkeley Vine Street and Solano Cellars), Therefore, he has had historical and ongoing exposure to delicious and well-crafted wines. He also knows about trends that are perfectly suited to a music festival so you’ll see beverages by the can from West + Wilder, Hoxie Spritzer, and Bushido Sake during the weekend.

DAOU Vineyards, one of the Wine Lands wineries in 2019

DAOU Vineyards

Peter tries to keep the lineup fresh each year combining both new wineries and old favorites. If you’ve been to Wine Lands before, you’ll be interested to know that some of the new wineries pouring in 2019 will be Bonterra, Cellars 33, DAOU Vineyards, Elyse, Furthermore, LVE (Legend Vineyard Exclusive), Mazzocco Sonoma, Navarro and Pennyroyal Farm, No Fine Print, Ram’s Gate and Saison Cellar.

Have you heard about the SEVEN % SOLUTION?  In 2012, Bergamot Wine Co. and a small group of winemakers got together to talk about the fact that only eight grape varieties comprised roughly 93% of grapevine acreage in the Northern California Appellations. Winemakers who are crafting delicious premium wines from the varietals that are grown on the remaining 7% have joined forces for an annual tasting celebrating these less-common varietals.  If you missed the June 2019 event, you can enjoy participating wineries at Wine Lands, including Birichino, Gamling & McDuck, Gros Ventre, Horse & Plow, March Wines and Rootdown.

This year, for the first time at Outside Lands, Peter will also be curating an all-star Wine Lands selection for VIPs, with offerings including Falanghina and Gamay from Arnot-Roberts, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Scribe, and Zinfandel and White Zinfandel from Turley Wine Cellars. The VIP bar will include Aperture, CrossBarn, and Lorenza, and offer a daily program of winemakers on hand to talk about their wines.  To see the complete listing of wineries, please go here.
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Winery Spotlight: Porter Family Vineyards

Porter Family Vineyards Caves

Caves at Porter Family Vineyards

Porter Family Vineyards in Napa Valley’s Coombsville Appellation is a true family endeavor, offering outstanding wines and a wonderful tasting experience in an underground cave. Yes, the actual winery here is housed fifty feet underground as part of a 17,000 square foot cave network. After Tom Porter and his wife Beverly purchased the property in 2005, they oversaw the installation of the caves, a 6-month project. Since then, the couple has been joined in the business by their son, daughter, and son-in-law. Porter Family Vineyards sits 600 feet above the valley floor in the Southeastern hills of Napa Valley and produces only about 3000 cases of wine each year.

Porter Family Vineyards – The Story

Tom and Beverly Porter originally started with the idea to grow a few grapes and maybe start a winery someday. After purchasing the Coombsville property and studying the vines, soil, hillsides, and seasons, they felt compelled to share it with others. Reluctant to disturb the lovely terrain, they decided to create an underground cellar in which to make their wines. Today, the winery’s existence is disguised behind two entrances on either end of the 17,000 square foot underground winery. Grapevines still grow up and around and over the hill.

Fermentation Tanks at Porter Family Vineyards

Fermentation Tanks

The entire winery operation is underground in the caves with the exception of an outdoor gravity-flow crush pad. The winery was designed with high technology in mind and utilizes sophisticated control systems to monitor and adjust environmental conditions, control fermentation temperatures, and provide access to winery operations data. The cooling system created by Tom Porter uses sensors inside and outside of the caves to control the temperature of the caves. Vents automatically open up when it is cooler outside at night, leveraging Mother Nature so neither air conditioning nor humidifiers are needed. There are also solar panels installed on the property.

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2019 Taste of Howell Mountain – Father’s Day Eve

2019 Taste of Howell Mountain "Above The Fog"Father’s Day Eve may not be a real thing but celebrate it anyway enjoying food, wine and music at the 2019 Taste of Howell Mountain on Saturday, June 15th. Starting at noon, you (and Dad) will be able to taste and compare wines from over 45 Howell Mountain wineries such as AloftCADE Estate Winery, Duckhorn Vineyards, Dunn Vineyards, La Jota Vineyard Co., Piña Napa Valley and Robert Craig Winery.  The fun starts at noon in and around the historic Carriage House at Napa Valley’s oldest winery, Charles Krug Winery (2800 Main Street, St. Helena).

Rosés from Howell Mountain

Rosés from Howell Mountain

Howell Mountain is well known for its Cabernet Sauvignon and you’ll find many incredible wines from that varietal that day. But, there’s more to Howell Mountain than just Cabernet. We’ve particularly enjoyed the Arkenstone Sauvignon Blanc, Robert Craig Merlot, Black Sears Zinfandel and Retro Cellars Petite Sirah.  We’ve also found many excellent Rosés from Howell Mountain.  Last year, our favorites included wines from Red Thread Wines (crafted from Zinfandel grapes), Retro Cellars (Peloursin grapes) and SPENCE (Cabernet Sauvignon grapes).

Howell Mountain Merlot from Robert Craig

Howell Mountain Merlot from Robert Craig

Between noon and 3 pm at the 2019 Taste of Howell Mountain your group can enjoy a Walk-Around Wine Tasting, a Silent Auction and Live Music from The Hummingbirdz.  Then, from 3 pm to 5 pm it’s time to sit down and enjoy even more Howell Mountain wine as you watch (and hopefully participate in) a festive Live Auction with Greg Quiroga officiating.  Auction items this year include opportunities for wining and dining in special Howell Mountain locations, multiple bottles of Howell Mountain wine (in many sizes), and fun excursions to places such as Mammoth Mountain, Yosemite and the Oregon Coast.
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