The story of The Withers winery is one of a small-time dream turned big-time success. Across the board, The Withers wine portfolio is made up of single-vineyard bottlings from both the Sonoma Coast and El Dorado. While the two may seem quite disparate, it is for a reason. While some of the most nuanced Rhones come out of California’s inland El Dorado County, there’s no denying that Sonoma is home to some of the finest Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. Thus, they have a portfolio that — I would say — speaks of California’s greatest wine successes. And, what I particularly love, is because they’re all single-vineyard bottlings, one can really taste the fingerprint of time and place with each sip.
After tasting Big Sur Vineyards flagship red blend, BSV Red Wine, it was clear to me that this little winery has a passion for big, bold flavors. So I will preface this post with a bit of a warning: when it comes to their Chardonnay, there’s no exception to that passion. Certainly, this is a white wine one must be in the mood for. For me, that mood came along on a crisp Fall evening when I wanted to warm myself from the inside out with a glass of wine — but was in the mood for a white wine. Enter a warm hug from Big Sur Vineyards 2015 Chardonnay.(more…)
I’ve come to love anything Grgich Hills produces: from their bodacious Zinfandel to their textural Chardonnay; their light and lively Fumé Blanc, and even their seemingly ‘crazy’ rosé. But nothing says “Napa love” like a glass of their Cabernet Sauvignon. I was first introduced to this wine almost one year ago, and was taken aback by how simultaneously rugged and voluptuous their 2013 vintage was — all the while maintaining a certain lightness from start to finish. While the 2014 seems to kick it up a notch, Grgich Hills reputation for friendly Cabernet, expressive of its Napa estate fruit, is absolutely in tact.
A few months ago I did a story for the paper featuring the under-appreciated Lake County. For much of its grape-growing history, this not-so-little wine region simply sold off its produce to its well-known neighbors, Napa and Sonoma Counties. But just within the last few years, there’s been somewhat of a boom in Lake County boutique wineries. The land here is more affordable — as are the grapes; the terroir and climate markedly different; and the people — well you’ll have to visit yourself to experience just how open and inviting they are to the few tourists who, admittedly, just seem to drive through on their way to Clear Lake camping.
One such pop-up is Gregory Graham, who’s probably best known for his years as head winemaker for Rombauer. Though he calls his decision to establish his vineyard and winery in Lake County “a lark” (indeed, he was one of the many who only visited Lake County on his way toward somewhere else), he now enjoys the land’s volcanic, rocky soils and Mediterranean-dry climate. Perfect conditions for growing one of the county’s heritage grapes, Sauvignon Blanc.
Whether the day after Thanksgiving is your favorite time to shop or you prefer to hold off until cyber Monday — or maybe you’re more like me and hold off until the very last second — it never hurts to have a shortlist of some wine-centric gifts to give your wine-loving friends. These are just a few items tried and tested by yours truly that I’m truly thankful to have in my life. I’ve got everything from stocking stuffers to big ticket items that wine-lovering novices and pros will appreciate. Take a look, shop around, and have a very happy holiday season!