What's great in wine, beer, fine dining,
places to stay, & places to visit
in California State

by Jim Laughren Do you love entertaining and sharing great food, great wine, and witty repartee with friends, family, and co-workers?San Francisco Travel Assn/Scott Chernis Are you planning those summer menus, loading them with scrumptious combinations of fresh fruits and vegetables? What’s better than a leisurely weekend brunch for half a dozen close friends, with an array of crisp, fresh-from-the-garden salads and beautifully cooked quiches; or a fun, easy backyard barbeque featuring grilled ribs, chicken or shrimp, with roasted corn-on-the-cob and homemade cole slaw? And who doesn’t love those wonderful dinner parties replete with delightful chilled soups, a stunning citrus-glazed…
Jim Carter. proprietor of South Coast Winery (left), accepts his Winery of the Year Award from Wesley Chesbro, Chairmman of the Assembly Select Committee on Wine, and Noreen Evans, Chair of the Senate Select Committee on California's Wine Industry. Sacramento, CA June 25, 2013. Chief Judges Rick Kushman and Mike Dunne joined representatives of state government this morning in announcing winners of California's State Fair wine competition. Originally scheduled to take place on the west steps of the Capitol Building, ceremonies were moved to a conference room indoors because of the most unseasonal summer rains. South Coast Winery from Temecula…
by Jim Laughren, CWE   Weapons of Mass Confusion, or We’re-So-Cool Intimidation? Offering little actionable information, arranged according to the whims of a newly-acquired sommelier or wine distributor, restaurant wine lists seldom do much to help the customer. Yet this negative can be easily converted to a plus, enhancing your reputation as a sophisticated and knowledgeable diner, even with wine expertise two steps above none whatsoever. You know the scene: a business dinner, with the boss, the head of sales and the folks from finance, and those oh-how-badly-we-want-them prospective clients. Though you’re not (yet) top dog at the table, you…
  June 18, 2013, Rutherford, CA – “Like the Old Vine (Kao Stara Loza),” a documentary about how Vintners Hall of Fame inductee Miljenko “Mike” Grgich achieved his American dream, is the winner of the Grand Jury’s Special Award at the 20th annual Oenovideo International Grape & Wine Film Festival in Carcassonne-Minervois, France. From May 30 to June 2, 2013, judges and festival goers viewed 26 films from 14 countries at this international meeting of the worlds of cinema and wine in the medieval city of Carcassonne, France. Mike Grgich and the documentary’s Director, Milka Bariŝić, will join the other…
  Photographer Gerry Parrott captured the moment as hands of Tim Mondavi and Margrit Biever Mondavi set the plaque. The Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) has dedicated a stately, old-growth olive tree planted at its St. Helena office in honor of Robert Mondavi, one of the founding members of the wine trade organization. Mondavi's life was celebrated during an intimate ceremony this week at the NVV that included Margrit Biever Mondavi, members of the Mondavi family and winery staff, and representatives of the NVV's Board of Directors and staff. June 18, 2013 marked the 100th anniversary of Robert Mondavi's birth."The concept…
by Jackie Townsend American children don’t grow up with wine as an inherent part of meals as Italian children do. We drink milk, and while wine might be at our tables, lumped in with beer or liquor, we inherit almost a fear of it. It is illegal after all; we might be arrested if caught drinking it under twenty-one, our parents might remind us. Not to mention that it tastes horrible. Since an Italian’s taste for wine is absorbed over time, the idea of getting drunk on it, as this one teenage American did once, is obtuse. My first exposure…
by Dan Clarke Steve Pessagno 1958-2013 Taste California Travel  is saddened to hear of the passing of Steve Pessagno. The proprietor of Pessagno Winery in Monterey County died in his sleep this past weekend at age 55. Though trained as a mechanical engineer, he returned to school take an enology degree at Fresno State. After stints as winemaker at Jekel and Lockwood, Steve was eventually able to begin his own winery, where he made wine from several varieties, most notably Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the Santa Lucia Highlands. We shared a table at a dinner sponsored by Monterey wineries…
by Dan Clarke Sometimes I have to work on the weekends. Sometimes this is not such a bad thing. Editing a publication that covers both wines and cars, I couldn't pass up Wine, Tunes & Classics. The wineries of Lake County had put together this event, which was to be held at the California Automobile Museum in Sacramento. The museum is open year-round and has a fine permanent collection of cars. They also feature rotating exhibits and on this day they were to be celebrating the opening of Elegance in Motion: Cars of the Golden Age. Lake County wineries would…
  Winemaker Michael Roser proudly displays his winning Mouvèdre. Photo by Jeri SwifCooper Vineyards' 2010 Mouvèdre was chosen Best Red Wine, as well as Best of Show by judges for the Amador County Fair. The 2013 edition of this annual competition was held at the Fairgrounds in Plymouth on the first day of June. Also honored was Amador Foothill Winery, whose 2012 Sauvignon Blanc was named Best White Wine of the annual competition. Other wines singled out for recognition include the Best Blush Wine (2012 Barbera Rose from Solune Winegrowers), Best Amador County Rhone (2010 Petite Sirah “Bodacious” from Macchia…
from TASTE News Service Hess Mt. Veeder EstateThe Land Trust of Napa County has received an $11,439 donation from The Hess Collection, generated by the winery's participation in the 1% For the Planet environmental advocacy program. 1% For the Planet is a growing global movement of companies donating 1% of sales for local environmental programs. The Hess Collection is a long-time member, and has often selected the Land Trust as the beneficiary of this annual donation. The 380-acre Archer Taylor Preserve, a permanently protected wildlife habitat managed by the Land Trust, is located near the winery. Each year Hess designates…
from TASTE News Service "balance is critical . . . " --Scott HarveyLower alcohol wine represents Napa Valley winemaker Scott Harvey’s commitment to making wine that is drinkable, enjoyable, and enhances good food. At last, new tastes in wine are catching up to Scott Harvey’s training. The winemaker is not alone in his views about the superiority of lower alcohol wines. According to Richard Halstead, CEO of global market research Wine Intelligence, “Alcoholic strength of wine is an issue that consumers take seriously across the world." According to Drinks International, "there has been widespread criticism of 15.5% alcohol blockbusters and…
Steve Burns (left), Wine Institute Director of International Marketing Linsey Gallagher, and Pete Hou of AVIAREPS Marketing Garden, Wine Institute’s China trade representative, visit wine display in Shanghai store. California wines, a key element of the state’s culinary lifestyle that draws visitors from around the world, were presented at a series of events during Governor Brown’s Trade Mission to China April 9 – 12, paving the way for vintner delegations heading to the country later this spring. As part of Wine Institute’s partnership with Visit California, the state’s tourism organization, Golden State wines will be featured at an event billed,…
Jon Fredrikson addresses wine industry leaders at 2013 Unified Symposium Wine sales in the U.S. from all prouction sources—California, other U.S. states and foreign countries—increased 2% from the previous year to a new record of 360.1 million 9-liter cases with an estimated retail value of $34.6 billion,” according to wine industry consultant Jon Fredrikson of Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates in Woodside. Of the total, almost two-thirds or 207.7 million cases of California wine account for a 58% share of U.S. wine sales with an estimated retail value of $22 billion. Including exports, 2012 California wine shipments to all markets in…
With the addition of recent results from the Winemakers Challenge and San Francisco Wine Competition, South Coast Winery has now earned a total of 1,800 medals in both domestic and international wine competitions. Jim Carter introduces diners to South Coast winemakers Jon McPherson (left) and Javier Flores (right). Jim Carter’s South Coast Winery Resort & Spa is located in Southern California Temecula Valley Wine Country. The operation has planted vineyards and grown to an annual production of 65,000 cases in just 10 years. The winery has won awards for 40 different varietals. According to Peggy Evans, Executive Director, Temecula Valley…
It all began with a name. Now, 25 years later, Meritage is the fastest growing wine category in the United States -- across all price levels -- and the thirst for wines blended in the tradition of Bordeaux shows no sign of abating. "When the Meritage name was trademarked in 1988, many in the industry thought the idea was crazy," said Susie Bynum, chairman o f The Meritage Alliance, which will kick off a year-long observance of its 25th anniversary this week. "Time has proven them to be wrong. Blended wines -- particularly those crafted from the traditional Bordeaux grape…
The El Dorado Winery Association and its 35 wineries in the Sierra foothills has unveiled a new-look website to accommodate the region’s continually growing popularity and to match the area’s unique energy and acclaimed wines. Madroña is at 3000 feet elevation This latest step comes only a few weeks after the state Department of Food and Agriculture awarded the region a $179,000 Specialty Crop Block Grant to help build a complete marketing effort focused on making all of California and Northern Nevada, and particularly areas like Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area, Reno and Carson City, more aware of what’s…
LOS GATOS, Calif., Dec. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- "Yields normal to a bit above; quality very high" was the verdict at Testarossa Winery, following this year's wine grape harvest. Testarossa specializes in small lot, vineyard-specific Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from some of California's best-known winegrowers. After twelve vintages at the winery, winemaker Bill Brosseau is well qualified to discuss the "state of the crush" in the fifteen vineyards and five separate appellations (Santa Lucia Highlands, Sta. Rita Hills, Russian River, Arroyo Grande Valley, Santa Maria Valley, Chalone) that the winery partners with.Bill Brosseau Bill comments, "Following the challenges of the…
L-R: Pablo Zellman, Jaime Rosas, Amador Villalobos, Federico Gonzalez, Tacho Corona,  Gabriel Martinez, Gerardo Mendoza, Antonio Batres, Felix Aguilar, Alonso Raygoza, Geronimo Rico, Randy Krag                                                    Photo By: Casey Carney   by Susan Stout   Ten individuals representing Lake County’s professional vineyard work force received accolades when the Lake County Winegrape Commission presented its first graduating class of the Commission’s Master Vigneron Academy. The graduation and celebration took place in the Lakeport Yacht Club in November.. The 2012 graduates of the yearlong course are Felix Aguilar and Gabriel Martinez of Bella Vista Farming; Antonio Batres and Alonso Raygoza, Beckstoffer-Red Hills; Tarcisio…
by Dan Clarke   Some folks in wine country used to feel tourists got in the way. Twenty years ago a friend was lamenting the growing incursion of tourists in the Napa Valley. Jon managed a vineyard known for producing very high quality Cabernet and Merlot grapes. Yuppies were coming up from the Bay Area, he said. They clogged the main traffic arteries up and down the Valley, especially on the weekends. They impeded business and personal travel for the locals. More than once he'd had to slam on the brakes to avoid crushing a clueless bicyclist who'd decided to…
Steve and Orlando Hot on the heels of the San Francisco Giants World Series win, Ledson Winery is re-releasing limited quantities of its wine collaboration featuring legendary former San Francisco Giant baseball player and Hall of Famer, Orlando Cepeda. Proceeds from the sale of Ledson’s “Baby Bull” Zinfandel will benefit the Ledson Harmony Foundation for Children (www.ledsonharmonyfoundation.com). The special price is $50 per bottle and $70 for a signed bottle. This special offering runs through December 15.   “The Giants are successful because of these young new players like Posey, Baumgarner and Lincecum,” explained Harmony Foundation head Steve Ledson. “They…
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