From Their Table to Ours: Standouts from the Family Winemakers of California Tasting

Family Winemakers of California

Family Winemakers of California Tasting in San Francisco

We’re always on the lookout for new wineries with high quality wines, and we made some discoveries at this year’s Family Winemakers of California Tasting in San Francisco a few weeks ago.  Arrow & Branch, Fulcrum, and Picayune may not be new to you, but this was our first time tasting their wines.  We also had a chance to say “Hello” again to some old friends at the Tasting.

So, if you are also looking for possible new-to-you wineries in California worth checking out, please keep reading and we’ll tell you which wines we felt stood out at this year’s Tasting.   We also listed which city the winery (or its tasting room) is in, should you feel like planning a wine tasting trip somewhere now that it’s harvest season.  We’re also going to recommend three local food purveyors you should experience if you haven’t had the pleasure yet.

Family Winemakers of California TastingFamily Winemakers of California tastings are primarily made up of wineries that have small production levels and typically have actual family members pouring at the event. If you missed the San Francisco Tasting, you may want to know that the next FWC Tastings will be in Southern California on March 8, 2014 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego and on March 10, 2014 at the Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena.

Favorite Wineries (and Wines) at the 2013 Family Winemakers of California Tasting in San Francisco

We found many appealing wines at the FWC Tasting, including wines made from Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Teroldego and Zinfandel:

Ancien Wines (Napa, with a total production level of about 4000 cases/year) – 2012 Pinot Gris, 2011 Russian River Jouissance (Russian River) Pinot Noir, 2011 Red Dog (Sonoma Mountain) Pinot Noir, 2011 Shea Vineyard (Oregon) Pinot Noir

Arrow & Branch (Napa, about 800 cases/year) – 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, 2010 Red Wine (Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec)

Bien Nacido Vineyards (Santa Maria, about 600 cases/year) – 2011 Solomon Hills Vineyards Chardonnay, 2010 Solomon Hills Vineyards Pinot Noir, 2010 Bien Nacido Vineyards Syrah

Chacewater Wine Company (Kelseyville, about 6000 cases/year) – 2012 Lake County Riesling, 2011 Sierra Foothills Merlot, 2011 Sierra Foothills Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010 Red Hills Petite Sirah


Chateau Montelena

Jade Lake at Chateau Montelena

Chateau Montelena (Calistoga, about 45,000 cases/year) – 2010 Chardonnay, 2012 Riesling, 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Dierberg Vineyard (Lompoc, about 30,000 cases/year) – 2010 Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay, 2007 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

Dutton-Goldfield Winery  (Sebastopol, about 10,000 cases/year) – 2011 Dutton Ranch Chardonnay, 2012 Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir, 2011 Fox Den Pinot Noir, 2011 Freestone Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir

Fisher Vineyards (Santa Rosa, about 10,000 cases/year) – 2011 Whitney’s Vineyard Chardonnay, 2010 Mountain Estate Vineyard Chardonnay

Frostwatch Vineyard & Winery (Santa Rosa, about 1000 cases/year)  – 2012 Kismet (Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon), 2011 Bennett Valley Chardonnay

Fulcrum Wines (Napa, about 1200 cases/year) – 2011 Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir

Galerie Wines (Oakville, about 1000 cases/year) – 2012 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Lagier Meredith (Napa, about 900 cases/year) – 2011 Tribidrag (Zinfandel)

Paloma Vineyard (St. Helena, about 2000 cases/year) – 2010 Merlot

Parallel Wines (Rutherford, about 1500 cases/year) – 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009 Black Diamonds Cabernet Sauvignon


Picayune Cellars

Picayune Cellars

Picayune Cellars (Calistoga, about 1020 cases/year) – 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, 2011 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Presqu’ile Winery (Santa Maria, about 4800 cases/year) – 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, 2011 Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay, 2011 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir, 2010 Presqu’ile Vineyard Pinot Noir

Ramey Wine Cellars (Healdsburg, about 36,000 cases/year) – 2010 Russian River Valley Chardonnay, 2009 Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay


Seebass Vineyards

Seebass Vineyards

Seebass Vineyards   (Ukiah, about 2000 cases/year) – 2011 Grand Reserve Chardonnay

Smith-Madrone Winery (St. Helena, about 3500 cases/year) – 2012 Riesling, 2007 Cook’s Flat Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Stonestreet Winery (Healdsburg, about 13,000 cases/year) – 2010 Bear Point Cabernet Sauvignon

Tablas Creek Vineyard (Paso Robles, about 25,000 cases/year) – 2011 Esprit Blanc de Tablas (Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Picpoul Blanc), 2011 Cotes de Tablas (Grenache, Syrah, Counoise, Mourvèdre)

Urban Legend Cellars (Oakland, about 2500 cases/year) – 2012 Rosato di Barbera, 2011 Tempranillo, 2010 “There” Merlot, 2010 Teroldego

Vellum Wine Craft (Napa, about 1500 cases/year) – 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

Bakers of ParisIn addition to an adundant supply of premium wine, attendees of the Family Winemakers of California Tasting in San Francisco also enjoyed delicious food offerings from local purveyors.  We heartily enjoyed and are now on the lookout for future opportunities to savor products from:

  • Bakers of Paris, a bakery based in Brisbane offering breads, brioche, and croissants at the Tasting and whose products are available at some Bay Area Farmers Markets and grocery stores.
  • Rustic Bakery, a bakery café with dining locations in Larkspur, Novato, and Marin which was serving up flatbreads and shortbread cookies at the Tasting which they also sell through their online store.
  • Le Belge Chocolatier

    Le Belge Chocolatier

    Le Belge Chocolatier, a Napa-based chocolatier crafting fine Belgian chocolates whose presentation at the Tasting included artisan chocolates and truffles in flavors such as Chai Tea, Red Velvet, and Chocolate with Sea Salt (and whose confections can also be ordered online).


FWC LogoFamily Winemakers of California is the political and policy voice for small family-owned wineries and currently represents over 500 producers.  FWC hosts wine tastings each year in San Diego, Pasadena and San Francisco to provide small wineries an effective way to share the wines they craft with consumers as well as with members of the trade.  For more information about the organization and/or future Tastings, please follow the link above.



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