Thanksgiving.  Actually, just the word thanksgiving speaks volumes…as if it were a paragraph all on its own. There are so may memories contained in this word…so many feelings of family and friends, so much food and wine! I really look forward to this holiday…no worries about purchasing the ‘perfect’ gift, nothing really to promote, and a time to set aside the everyday dance of balancing work and personal life. For me it is a time to reflect on the good things and embrace loved ones, maybe take a hike through the hillsides to just feel my feet on the ground and savor the breathtaking views. I would like to suggest that this be the Thanksgiving that you slow down even more, to be in the moment, to be in the conversation, share the laughter and of course, enjoy the feast! I just love taking in the meal preparation activities, the clanking of pans, the sound of vegetables being chopped, oh yea, and the sound of the football game on in the background. It could be raining outside, it could be crisp and clear…it just doesn’t matter because it is perfect. Preparation for Thanksgiving dinner will take many hours and the turkey sitting on the grill  needs constant care and attention. I love the sound of popping corks on bottles of sparkling wine as family and friends arrive, and the lively conversations that continue through the evening. When it is time to serve up the bird, it is a tradition in our household to all join hands and give thanks…a great feeling. And finally, we all sit down and pass around the meal, and the bottles of wine sit opened on the table awaiting their time to be enjoyed. I have been known to eat meals at a slower pace than most, and much to the dismay of my family, I will try to eat even slower this Thanksgiving…I just want to make it last.I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday!!

Here is what I will be serving…

With the hors d’oeuvres – 2012 Inman Family Sparkling Brut Rose

With the ‘bird’ – Blue Farm 2012 Pinot Noir Carneros 1861 Vineyard

With the dessert – Sky Pine Vineyards Casi Noviembre Port 2006

When everyone has gone to bed – Lagavulin 16-year-old Islay Single Malt Scotch (w/cigar)


Mother Nature

The 2014 wine grape harvest has been one of the most concentrated, and earliest in recent history.  There always seem to be unexpected challenges  as the grapes reach the final days before harvest. As if a three year drought hasn’t been enough to deal with, we also had the challenge of a 6.0 earthquake that rocked the Napa/Sonoma wine region on August 24th. Thankfully the quake caused less damage before harvest than it could have were it to have happened right afterwards  when the barrels and tanks would have been full of harvested juice. In the midst of these chaotic wine times many of us were wondering how the quality of the 2014 vintage might be affected. The lack of water, a mild winter which led to an early bud break and therefore early ripening, shortened the growing season and meant that  many a winery picked their grapes two to three weeks sooner than in years past . The abundant sunshine late in the season and reduced water availability forced the grapevines to produce tighter clusters and smaller berries which result in more concentrated flavors. I have been reading articles on winemakers’ expectations for the harvest and the general consensus has been that the 2014 vintage has the potential to be great and maybe even better than the memorable 2007 vintage, one of the best ever. If you don’t believe me, find a bottle of the 2007 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – yum! The season on our vineyard went like the blink of an eye…the grapes matured very fast and I have never seen such ripeness or tasted such deep flavors as this past harvest. Obviously we are desperate for rain and I hope it comes very soon as no vineyard can sustain a prolonged drought. Grape harvests all over California are becoming less and less predictable with the changing weather conditions, and every vintage will be impacted. Just a season ago harvest was delayed due to a last minute cold front that poured rain for a solid day…go figure! I am very curious to see how the 2013 vintage turns out! Thankfully Cabernet vines are extremely hardy and highly adaptable to these changes, hopefully they will continue to weather the weather whatever it brings!

As the days get shorter and the night air gets cooler, I turn my attention to full bodied Zinfandel’s…

Seghesio Zinfandel Sonoma County 2012 ($21)seghesio_zin

This Zin has been so consistent through the years and among the better values…a very deep and well focused wine and truly one of my favorites!

Mauritson Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley 2012 ($29)


One of the best vintages out of  the Dry Creek Valley! A very intense bouquet of ripe berries.

2012 A. Rafanelli Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley ($49)

Once again, a fantastic growing season which produced a raspberry and jammy wine with a smooth caramel finish. I do love the earth tones!