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tasting notes

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									                                                                                                     tasting notes
                                                                                 Wine Garage Newsletter Feb. 2009
A lot has happened since I last sat down to write the opening            a HINT of cold. Steve also gets a winemaker dinner at the house,
statement of the Tasting Notes. That was back in early December,         2 cases of wine, a balloon ride (for 2) and a golf tourney at Meadowood.
right before the Company Holiday Party. We had all the Garagistas        And guess what? Yes, we are doing it again…the referral contest will
and their spouses over to the Tudal Winery House for a hoedown           be announced this February…and the winning person will stay at the
and sleepover. I cooked the meal: The Prime Rib Chops — the recipe       same place. Stay tuned. Every one asks…how many referrals did he
that was in the December notes. I got an 8-bone Prime Rib Roast          send in? Under 12.
from Long Meadow Ranch (that must have cost $350), which
                                                                         The Holidays were fantastic this year due to its low key, recession
I marinated all afternoon while I was pealing and de-veining 4 pounds
                                                                         inspired, mellowness. Joy and I realized that this was probably the last
of spot prawns, which I trade wine for every year from a customer
                                                                         year that Emma will believe in Santa and the magic of Christmas. This
that is a Alaskan fisherman. He drives down past the store every
                                                                         year she wrote her own list to Santa (near the gentle glow of
Christmas-time en route to his wintering spot in Arizona, and always
                                                                         a Menorah) and on it she asks: “So how is Rudolph? And how is Mrs.
stocks up on “juice” for his desert vacation. We stock up on prawns.
                                                                         Santa? And how are YOU, Santa?…I do hope you have a nice
I also trade wine all year to winemakers in the Valley for the Holiday
                                                                         Christmas too! ” Oh, the innocence of childhood.
party. They want inexpensive wine for parties they throw throughout
the year— we want super expensive cult wine to compare the store         We closed the store as usual for the first week in January and everyone
wine to…just to keep in touch with our whole mission statement and       took off…except Linda, who gratefully stayed home in Calistoga and
entire purpose of being. Last year, in ‘07, we had Cristal Champagne     popped in to check the phones and e-mails. Good thing, too. Joy,
($275/btl) which was beaten in a blind tasting by Jeriko Brut            Emma, and I went to Kauai for a week. The second day there, I get
($25/btl). This year we had some big and bad hillside Cabs like Pride,   a text message from one of our winery customers stating that she is
Hourglass and Dyer. The winner and best wine of the night was a          looking at me this very second on Rachael Ray and the Food Network.
1987 Mayacamas Cabernet given to us in our 1st year in business by       I freaked…the Rachael Ray show that we were on in June RE-RAN
Jeff Popick of Chameleon Cellars. We had collected quite a few wines     during the only week of the year that the store is closed. Linda came
in the last year—then we counted the empties the next morning and        in, responded to over 300 e-mails and welcomed 52 new wine club
we learned that we had consumed 17 bottles of wine and Champagne         members (she also recruited loyal garagistas, Suzanne and Laurie,
by 13 people. We did you proud, no? Good thing too, because              as reinforcements and they pitched in, too). So much for a quiet
I absolutely ruined the meal—the chops were destroyed on the grill,      week…we forced Linda to take the next week off and she was going
cooked to the consistency of shoe leather. Don’t ever overcook grass     to be fired if she even showed her face around the store for
fed beef! It was one of the worst freaking meals I have EVER made in     one minute.
my entire life! The prawns were good, thank God.                         I have been home convalescing this past week from knee surgery.
The Tudal Winery House is also the future setting for Steve Boron’s      Hurt it a few years ago by falling out of a hot tub at a party and the
vacation this year in Napa Valley. Steve is a fellow club member who     slow wintertime season seemed like the ideal time to get it scoped.
won last year’s “1st Annual Wine Garage Wine Club Referral Contest.”     I needed to write these tasting notes anyway, so if it seems I’m
Five days at this house in the vineyards— 4 bedrooms, 4 baths,           rambling more than usual, blame the Perocet.
massage room, huge kitchen and living room, private dinning room,                                                            Happy New Year!
pool and…BOCCE COURT! Last year December 9th, on our Holiday
party, we were playing bocce until 2:30 am and didn’t even feel                                                         Todd and the Garagistas
Red & white wine club                                                                                                                                                   Red & white wine club
Bell Cellars Zinfandel                                                                                                                                                  Crush Proprietary Red Blend
Napa - 2005 - $24.99                                                                                                                                                    Dry Creek Valley - 2006 - $14.99
Anthony Bell is from South Africa. His father was in the Spirits business and       plant an entire vineyard of Clone 6 for Bell. He produced, at one point, the        This wine floored me when I recently tasted this with one of my wine                 website and think I know why this wine is so good. They make a Bordeaux
wanted young Anthony to follow in his footsteps, but after an internship            only 100% Clone 6 Cabernet Sauvignon in the Valley other than BV. Now a             brokers. I never heard of the winery and had just tasted a whole slew of             blend called “Reflections” that they sell for $65. They probably got a little
in Bordeaux, Anthony was dead set on making wine, not gin. He studied               few other wineries do as well including…ahem…The Wine Garage. Ours                  pretty blasé vino, so I wasn’t expecting this little gem when it reared its          backed up on those wines and really didn’t need to make an ‘06 because the
viticulture in South Africa and France and his dad told him if he really wanted     is from Lake County and the only Clone 6 Cab priced at $25. The 2007 is             pretty little head. KaBoom! Major fruit. Long extracted finish. Velvety feel        ‘05 crop was so huge. So instead of selling the “Reflections” for less money
to learn how to make WINE, he needed to head over the pond and study at             finishing up in the barrel and look at your e-mail for a Futures Offer coming       in the mouth…time for another splash. I wasn’t shocked that I had never              and ruining their brand as a $65 Cab-based blend, they started this second
this new college that has been recently making waves in the booze business:         soon at an unbelievable price.                                                      heard of the label; it is really hard to keep up with the wine world out there       label and figured that would make more money making the fruit into wine,
UC Davis. He secured a job as a viticulturist at Beaulieu (BV) in the mid 70’s                                                                                          and I read 5 wine publications every month almost religiously. This wine was         even for $15 bottle, than selling the fruit off to another winery. Or, some
                                                                                    So…Anthony is pretty persnickety about clones and grapes and stuff, Zinfandel
right when Napa Valley was rocking the wine world due to the unbelievable                                                                                               a second label for another winery— Mill Creek in the Dry Creek Valley of             grape buyer backed out at the last minute and they had all this fruit to deal
                                                                                    in particular. He only makes Zin when he finds the right set of circumstances,
results of the “Paris Tasting.”                                                                                                                                         Sonoma County.                                                                       with. Makes sense financially…but the real winner here is YOU. You get the
                                                                                    and those circumstances don’t come often. He made Zin in 1995…then again
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             $65 quality Cab and Merlot for $15.
Anthony worked under one of the great minds of the California Wine Industry,        2004, yes, nine years between vintages. His wine club members practically           Having a secondary label is smart. You can make wine at another price point
Andre Tchelistcheff. Andre wanted Anthony to do a study on grape clones. He         FORCED him to make it again in 2005, which you are tasting now. This Zin            that the mother winery doesn’t service. You can dump what you classify as           This blend is mainly Merlot with some Cabernet. It is a rich and lush wine
felt that the past phylloxera outbreak caused the vineyardist to replace all the    is what I call in the style of Claret, and what better person to make it for you    inferior fruit of the 1st label into the 2nd without thinking twice about it.       from start to finish. Big fat jammy fruit. Blackberry pie, currants, ripe
vines — and now they really had had no idea what clones were growing in the         than Anthony Bell the Cab/Claret king.                                              You can purchase that awesome deal on some merlot fruit from that winery            plums, chocolate pudding. Rich. I love this wine. What a deal! Have this
famous Latour and Tokalon Vineyards. Anthony went to work with another                                                                                                  that is going out of business, which you couldn’t pass up without the worry         wine with a thick slice of pot roast with some mashed potatoes on the side
                                                                                    The fruit is from Calistoga and shows some beautiful plum and blackberry
colleague at UC Davis and poured over all the old archives of agricultural field                                                                                        of sacrificing quality. Build it up (the brand) and sell it off. Many reasons all   with rich pan gravy.
                                                                                    layers. Black pepper, cola, cedar, vanilla, all show in an elegant and restrained
stations. They found a parcel map of an abandoned experimental vineyard                                                                                                 make sense.
                                                                                    style. This wine is what winemakers call “pretty” (like this is pretty freakin’
in the hills of Amador that had been formally closed in 1903. They hunted
                                                                                    good). Perfect food wine — yet just as perfect as an aperitif. I’m on my knee       I never have done any business with Mill Creek because their wines don’t
down this vineyard and found that there were some vines still actually living
                                                                                    surgery recovery now, and before I went under the laser, I made a big pot of        really fit in our program…$35 Zinfandels. I did a little investigating on their
scattered over an acre of overgrown scrub and oak. They took some cuttings
                                                                                    Posole (pork and hominy stew) to get me through the dark times — and had
from the budwood that was still viable and headed back down to Napa with
                                                                                    a big, fat glass of this Zin that paired amazingly well.
the lost “Clone 6.”
Fifteen vintages of BV George LaTour later under his belt, Anthony Bell, the
                                                                                                                                                                        Jax “Y3” Chardonnay
then winemaker of BV started his winery, Bell Cellars. First thing he did was                                                                                           Napa Valley - 2006 - $14.99
                                                                                                                                                                        This is one of the best deals on a white I have secured for you in a while.         The wine is made by Rob Hunter, formally of Sterling and currently making
Razi Chardonnay                                                                                                                                                         I still can’t believe the price…and here is the inside scoop why this wine is       wine at Bennett Lane Winery in Calistoga. Rob babies these grapes from
Napa Valley - 2007 - $22.99                                                                                                                                             such a great deal, other than the fact that it is majorly delicious for $15. The    the better side of the tracks by tucking the juice into 100% French Oak
                                                                                                                                                                        fruit is from a couple of blocks of vineyard from two cult Chard producers:         barrels that are neutral or imparting zero oak influence. He coaxes the
We make the Wine Garage wine at Fred Razi’s winery off of the Silverado             Massimo told Fred: “Let us use the fruit that Newton left for the birds, to         Chateau Montelena and Pahlmeyer. This is a funny story about product                must with just 15% malolactic secondary fermentation, which imparts
Trail down in the oak Knoll district of Napa Valley. I met Fred shortly after       show you how we make wine.” Fred said OK. Well, the Monticelli boys did             placement as well…Y3 is THE wine on the hit HBO show “Entourage.” The               some richness and thrusts a spotlight on the acidity of the high quality
we opened the store in ‘03 by way of Mario Monticelli, who made his wine at         good. The Wine Spectator gave the ‘02 Razi Chard 92 points and the title            proprietress, Kimberly Jackson, was down in West Hollywood selling wine             fruit. This wine is both rich and brightly crisp. Layers of flavors swarm
Fred’s with his brother Massimo.                                                    of “Top 20 Chardonnays in the World” that year. Newton received 88 points           to restaurants. She was at the Chateau Marmot pouring the sommelier on              over the palate. The crack of a bite of green apple, the intoxication of up-
                                                                                    using the best fruit of the vineyard.                                               the Chardonnay when a table in the far off restaurant beckoned her over. It         side-down pineapple cake and the rich juiciness of a dripping white peach,
It is called “custom crush”— when a winery rents the equipment of another
winery to make their own wine. It usually is determined by the tonnage of           I still had a few of those ‘02s left and recently popped one and it still had       was the cast of Entourage celebrating the season’s wrap party. Apparently           all woven together in a delicious glass of Chard for an amazing steal. This
grapes you are crushing. Last year the Wine Garage crushed about 45 tons            great fruit and structure and balance. It tastes a lot like this ‘07 Razi Chard.    one of the cast members was smitten with her looks (she is pretty hot), but         is a perfect wine to pair with a mild cheese
of grapes at Fred’s —I just got the bill, and it ain’t cheap. One of the reasons    Big and powerful with immense concentration of fruit. Fred likes his Chard          it is her goofy over-the-top personality and infectious smile that made the
we are trying to get permits to make wine in the old gas station next to the        with Oak and you get it with this wine. 100% new American Oak with only             producer announce that Y3 was THE wine of Entourage, none other will be
store…we could break even in 4 or 5 years by buying all the equipment we            10% going through malolactic fermentation. The “butter” you get in the glass        served. Apparently they all liked it.
need to be a winery and making it at our own facility. Massimo makes Fred’s         is really just the fruit of the Chardonnay. That is why winemakers years ago
wine in exchange for being allowed to make his clients’ (Wine Garage plus 5         started to put Chardonnay through malolactic because the fruit of the Chard
or 6 others) wine at Fred’s. It’s all one big, happy family.                        grape has a natural butter component in it already…it was to enhance the
Fred, a local Napa Architect, started out just growing Chardonnay grapes
                                                                                    butter in the fruit. I get green apples dipped in caramel. Pineapple crème          Teresina Petite Sirah
at his house years ago. He would sell them to other wineries, but mostly to
                                                                                    brulee roasted in a wood burning oven. Apple pie a la mode…with oak.                Lodi - 2005 - $19.99
                                                                                    Bright acidity and long finish. Perfect with grilled fish. Old school California
Newton, who was a big player as a Chardonnay producer here in Napa. The                                                                                                 This wine has a little history in the wine club. Last year I sent this Petite       The fruit is sourced in Lodi at the famous Ripkin Vineyard. It is amazingly low
                                                                                    Chard, one friend of mine calls it “Cougar Juice”.
year Mario and Massimo approached Fred about making their clients’ wine                                                                                                 in the All Red Club —or so I thought. The same month I sent the Trinitas            in alcohol (13.5%) and very elegant. Petite is a cross between Plourresin and
at Fred’s facility, Newton had already picked all the best fruit in the vineyard.                                                                                       Petite Sirah in the Intense Red Club — again, so I thought. The dudes who           Syrah, also called Durif in France. It was widely planted in California in the
                                                                                                                                                                        pack the boxes mixed up The Trinitas Petite with the Teresina Petite so             1850’s and continues to thrive here. Long used for clunky jug wine, Pets (as
                                                                                                                                                                        each club got the wrong wines. No biggy, because they are both really good          it is known by winemakers) has seen a huge surge in popularity in recent
Shannon Ridge Roussanne                                                                                                                                                 wines. But the Trinitas was bigger and more fitting with the Intense Club           years. As with demand, so goes an increase in the fruit prices…now the
Lake County - 2007 - $21.99                                                                                                                                             profile; the Teresina was much more subtle and elegant.                             Napa Valley average is well over $3000 per ton.
Clay Shannon is a straight-up dude. We buy our Clone 6 Cab, Mourvedre,              I wanted to buy the fruit and MAKE this Roussanne myself. No. No. No. This          I won’t bore you with the little detail that the Trinitas was more expensive        This Pet is from a vineyard in Lodi known for producing wine with polished
and Grenache from Clay— my 1st ever grape contract. I asked, “What terms            is really good Roussanne and the 1st I ever heard of growing in High Valley,        and I had to refund 584 people who paid more for the Trinitas but received          tannins, that are extremely elegant in style. Pets can be so tannic and
do you want to put in the contract? ” He answers, “Just state them, look me         let alone Lake County. Most all the Rhone whites are grown in Santa Barbara         the Teresina. Simple mistake except it cost me 5K…So I am one who is                brooding that it could get in the way of any food served with it. But not this
in the eye and shake my hand; that’s good by me.” Exactly how I like to do          or Paso Robles and I wanted to see how the fruit came out up here in the            determined to get the right wine to the right people and I now present this         one! The aromas of fresh blueberry, boysenberry and cranberry come
business, too.                                                                      volcanic soil.                                                                      yummy Petite Sirah…a year late. But in reality it is a year BETTER since it         from the glass and then are replicated on the palate. Juicy fruit flavors
Clay saved my ass couple years ago when I had the opportunity to buy the            The result is an exotic wine with tropical fruit nuances. Floral peach blossom      had all this time to age and Pets needs to age a bit.                               linger before a touch of tame tannin, sweet vanilla and smoky oak round
oldest Petite Sirah in Napa Valley (1870) but had to provide my own field           and jasmine in the nose, pear tart, apricot and papaya on the palate. Rich in                                                                                           out the finish. Only 250 cases were made of this wine so hurry with your
                                                                                                                                                                        This is made by Marcus Trotta, a geologist by trade for the City of Santa Rosa.
crew to pick and transport it. I called Clay and he made it happen. When            the mouth but with an underlying acidic backbone consorting with all the                                                                                                re-order. This is great with any roasted or grilled meat dish.
                                                                                                                                                                        His family has been making their own wine for 25 years. In fact, another
Clay calls me, I listen. He told me he wanted to move some Roussanne…               tropical voluptuousness of the fruit. This wine is perfect with the Steamed         wine we had in last year’s club — the Reverence Zin and Petite Sirah— are
much to my surprise, because I had just recently given him an ear full that         Chicken recipe found in these notes.                                                made by Marcus’ cousins, Mike and Wendy Trotta. It’s in the familia.
he was selling it for $30 and out of my price point. I coveted his Roussanne.


February 2009                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              winegarage.net
all Red wine club                                                                                                                                                      all Red wine club
Ballentine Merlot                                                                                                                                                      Uvaggio Barbera
Napa Valley - 2004 - $18.99                                                                                                                                            Lodi - 2005 - $18.99
Van and Betty Ballentine have been making wine in this Valley forever. This        Rich and fruit forward with complex aromas and structure. I get blueberry,          Jim Moore is the Napa Valley’s resident Italian expert. He was the founding       because it is both fruity and earthy and it has nice acidity but can be fat and
fruit comes from the Pocai Vineyard in Calistoga just next to Sterling, named      licorice, dried flowers, cassis, and espresso bean on the palate with firm          winemaker of Mondavi’s (now sold off ) “La Familia” wine brand that made          chewy around the middle. This wine shows those classic characteristics.
after Betty’s Family, the Pocai’s. The Wine Garage has a special relationship      tannins. This wine goes great with a thick New York steak.                          only Italian varieties. And he also made wine for Randall Graham’s “C’a del       The acidity can be represented by the sour black cherry component on
with the Ballentines, since we store all our barrels and bottle all our wine                                                                                           Sol” brand at Bonny Doon—also an Italian wine specialist. Jim and I have          the finish and the fat fruit comes out in the blueberry undertones in the
there. I even got Van an appearance with me on the Rachael Ray Show last                                                                                               grown to become good friends as we commiserate about the current state            front of the palate. French plum, black cherry, almond kernel, mushroom
summer. Betty freaked since it’s her favorite show. Maybe that’s why we have                                                                                           of wine salesmanship and the 3rd tier system. Jim makes some very unusual         compost, wet slate and pomegranates all peek out from the darkly colored
this $28 Merlot for $19?                                                                                                                                               Italian varietals, but his best efforts shine through in his Barbera.             wine. This wine is a great match with spaghetti and meatballs. The acidity in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         the tomato sauce coupled with the richness of the meatballs will make this
                                                                                                                                                                       From the Northern Piedmont region of Italy, Barbera is one of the grapes
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Barbera sing “Mamma Mia! ”
                                                                                                                                                                       that make Barolo (the other is Nebbiolo). Barbera is a unique red wine
Bell Cellars Zinfandel
Napa - 2005 - $24.99
                                                                                                                                                                       Stone House Cabernet Sauvignon
Anthony Bell is from South Africa. His father was in the Spirits business and      plant an entire vineyard of Clone 6 for Bell. He produced, at one point, the
                                                                                                                                                                       Paso Robles - 2006 - $16.99
wanted young Anthony to follow in his footsteps, but after an internship           only 100% Clone 6 Cabernet Sauvignon in the Valley other than BV. Now a
in Bordeaux, Anthony was dead set on making wine, not gin. He studied              few other wineries do as well including…ahem…The Wine Garage. Ours                  This is the last in a series of wines that Tim Parsley and I have purchased and   variety is only planted to 9% of all vineyard in Paso. Syrah? 9% too. Who is
viticulture in South Africa and France and his dad told him if he really wanted    is from Lake County and the only Clone 6 Cab priced at $25. The 2007 is             bottled exclusively for the Wine Club. I have left the best for last.             making Cabernet in Paso? Big second label houses like Liberty School…or
to learn how to make WINE, he needed to head over the pond and study at            finishing up in the barrel and look at your e-mail for a Futures Offer coming                                                                                         Estrella, Eberle, Eos or Meridian. Go through your local Safeway (or other
                                                                                                                                                                       Paso Robles is on the wine radar map because of the incredible Rhone
this new college that has been recently making waves in the booze business:        soon at an unbelievable price.                                                                                                                                        super market) and most big labels that have Cab as an ingredient probably
                                                                                                                                                                       wines that grow so well in the limestone soils of the Westside. Zinfandel
UC Davis. He secured a job as a viticulturist at Beaulieu (BV) in the mid 70’s                                                                                                                                                                           came from Paso.
                                                                                   So…Anthony is pretty persnickety about clones and grapes and stuff, Zinfandel       has received almost an equal share of praise, but what is the most planted
right when Napa Valley was rocking the wine world due to the unbelievable
                                                                                   in particular. He only makes Zin when he finds the right set of circumstances,      grape in Paso? Cabernet Sauvignon. What is the second most planted                Well, Tim and I found some Cabernet on the bulk market down there that
results of the “Paris Tasting.”
                                                                                   and those circumstances don’t come often. He made Zin in 1995…then again            grape? Merlot. And I mean by landslides. Cab is planted to 35% of ALL             is going to knock your socks off. Ripe and fleshy. Huge fruit on the front
Anthony worked under one of the great minds of the California Wine Industry,       2004, yes, nine years between vintages. His wine club members practically           vineyards in Paso, but what is the most sought after Cabernet from Paso?          palate with plums and blackberries. Slightly tarry due to the concentration
Andre Tchelistcheff. Andre wanted Anthony to do a study on grape clones. He        FORCED him to make it again in 2005, which you are tasting now. This Zin            It is hard to name another Cab producer after Justin Vineyards, isn’t it?         of fruit. Black pepper, cedar, cigar leaf, leather and Bing cherry on the
felt that the past phylloxera outbreak caused the vineyardist to replace all the   is what I call in the style of Claret, and what better person to make it for you    I could name 20 different producers of Zinfandel in Paso Robles but the           finish. $17 bucks? Buy more.
vines — and now they really had had no idea what clones were growing in the        than Anthony Bell the Cab/Claret king.
famous Latour and Tokalon Vineyards. Anthony went to work with another
colleague at UC Davis and poured over all the old archives of agricultural field
                                                                                   The fruit is from Calistoga and shows some beautiful plum and blackberry            Regalat Zinfandel
                                                                                   layers. Black pepper, cola, cedar, vanilla, all show in an elegant and restrained
stations. They found a parcel map of an abandoned experimental vineyard
                                                                                   style. This wine is what winemakers call “pretty” (like this is pretty freakin’
                                                                                                                                                                       Napa - 2005 - $12.99
in the hills of Amador that had been formally closed in 1903. They hunted
                                                                                   good). Perfect food wine — yet just as perfect as an aperitif. I’m on my knee       David Llodro is a Barrel scientist. He is also the winemaker for his label        As they say: “It ain’t the way you get there, it’s how you look when you
down this vineyard and found that there were some vines still actually living
                                                                                   surgery recovery now, and before I went under the laser, I made a big pot of        Llodra. This dude has some serious street cred amongst the vignerons. Dr.         arrive (or how you taste).” He used oak chips, staves, oak filled nets, oak
scattered over an acre of overgrown scrub and oak. They took some cuttings
                                                                                   Posole (pork and hominy stew) to get me through the dark times — and had            Llodra has degrees in viticulture, enology and has worked his way up from         dust…who knows what these scientists do, but whatever he did it came out
from the budwood that was still viable and headed back down to Napa with
                                                                                   a big, fat glass of this Zin that paired amazingly well.                            cellar rat, assistant winemaker at Krug, to head winemaker for himself. The       right with this wine.
the lost “Clone 6.”
                                                                                                                                                                       way wine reacts to different barrels and wood types is his thang — and this
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         This Zin is middle-aged (around 40 to 50 yrs old) and from a pretty
Fifteen vintages of BV George LaTour later under his belt, Anthony Bell, the                                                                                           delicious wine that you are about to drink is actually an experiment.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         interesting vineyard in Calistoga. Briar, huckleberry, clove and nutmeg all
then winemaker of BV started his winery, Bell Cellars. First thing he did was
                                                                                                                                                                       This Zin was crushed and fermented completely in tank — never saw a               contribute to the flavor profile…then that sweet gush of vanilla on the
                                                                                                                                                                       barrel. But it has a nice chewy vanilla sorta oak component, doesn’t it? That     finish…that cost some very big bucks to some institute which paid out the
                                                                                                                                                                       is because David experimented with different types of oak from different          ying. And you get to drink it for practically pennies, because you are in the
                                                                                                                                                                       countries. Or the same type of oak— different countries, but same latitude…       coolest wine club out there.
Teresina Petite Sirah                                                                                                                                                  these experiments take on the variables to the stupefying degree of minutia.
Lodi - 2005 - $19.99
This wine has a little history in the wine club. Last year I sent this Petite in   The fruit is sourced in Lodi at the famous Ripkin Vineyard. It is amazingly low
the All Red Club —or so I thought. The same month I sent the Trinitas Petite       in alcohol (13.5%) and very elegant. Petite is a cross between Plourresin and
Sirah in the Intense Red Club — again, so I thought. The dudes who pack the        Syrah, also called Durif in France. It was widely planted in California in the          Tuscan Cannellini Bean and Farro Soup
boxes mixed up The Trinitas Petite with the Teresina Petite so each club got       1850’s and continues to thrive here. Long used for clunky jug wine, Pets (as it
the wrong wines. No biggy, because they are both really good wines. But the        is known by winemakers) has seen a huge surge in popularity in recent years.           • 1 lb dried Cannellini, or white navy beans                                       Cover beans and ham hock with water by 2 inches in a pot and
Trinitas was bigger and more fitting with the Intense Club profile; the Teresina   As with demand, so goes an increase in the fruit prices…now the Napa Valley            • 2 onions, coarsely chopped                                                       bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand, uncovered,
was much more subtle and elegant.                                                  average is well over $3000 per ton.                                                                                                                                       1 hour. Drain beans in a colander and rinse. Save the ham hock
                                                                                                                                                                          • 2 tablespoons olive oil                                                          for later.
I won’t bore you with the little detail that the Trinitas was more expensive       This Pet is from a vineyard in Lodi known for producing wine with polished             • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Cook onions in oil in an 8-quart pot over moderately low heat,
and I had to refund 584 people who paid more for the Trinitas but received         tannins, that are extremely elegant in style. Pets can be so tannic and brooding       • 5 cups chicken broth, plus more to thin                                           stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and
the Teresina. Simple mistake except it cost me 5K…So I am one who is               that it could get in the way of any food served with it. But not this one! The         • 1 qt water                                                                        cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add beans, broth, 1 quart water, ham
determined to get the right wine to the right people and I now present this        aromas of fresh blueberry, boysenberry and cranberry come from the glass                                                                                                   hock, cheese rind, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and rosemary and simmer,
                                                                                                                                                                          • 1 (3- by 2-inch) piece Parmigiano-Reggiano rind (if possible)                     uncovered, until beans are just tender, about 50 minutes. Remove
yummy Petite Sirah…a year late. But in reality it is a year BETTER since it had    and then are replicated on the palate. Juicy fruit flavors linger before a             • 2 teaspoons salt                                                                  ham hock and shred the meat and reserve.
all this time to age and Pets needs to age a bit.                                  touch of tame tannin, sweet vanilla and smoky oak round out the finish.                • ½ teaspoon black pepper
                                                                                   Only 250 cases were made of this wine so hurry with your re-order. This is                                                                                                 With an immersion blender, pulse the soup 4 or 5 times to
This is made by Marcus Trotta, a geologist by trade for the City of Santa Rosa.                                                                                           • 1 bay leaf                                                                        partially puree the beans, making sure to leave some beans whole.
                                                                                   great with any roasted or grilled meat dish.                                                                                                                               Add the faro and simmer for 30 minutes.
His family has been making their own wine for 25 years. In fact, another wine                                                                                             • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
we had in last year’s club — the Reverence Zin and Petite Sirah— are made by                                                                                              • 8 carrots, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces                 Stir in the carrots, ham hock meat, and kale into the soup, add
Marcus’ cousins, Mike and Wendy Trotta. It’s in the familia.                                                                                                              • 1 lb kale (preferably lacinto, or dinosaur kale), stems and center ribs           some more chicken broth if soup is too thick and simmer,
                                                                                                                                                                            discarded and leaves coarsely chopped                                             uncovered, for 15 minutes until carrots are tender. Season,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              if needed with salt and pepper.
                                                                                                                                                                          • 1 cup whole-grain farro (can be omitted if impossible to find or use
                                                                                                                                                                            pearled barley)                                                                   In sauté pan, heat some olive oil and fry sage leaves until crispy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Serve soup in 6 bowls, drizzle some high quality olive oil over
                                                                                                                                                                          • 6 sage leaves                                                                     soup and garnish each bowl with a sage leaf.
February 2009                                                                                                                                                             • 1 smoked ham hock
intense Red wine club                                                                                                                                                         intense Red wine club
“Three Winery” Old Vine Zinfandel                                                                                                                                            Graziano Zinfandel “Kasmet Vineyard”
Contra Costa & Lodi - 2007 - $19.99                                                                                                                                          Mendocino - 2004 - $24.99
You know I am a big fan of Old Vine Zinfandel. You know, too, that I love             (I kinda dominated), and I get Massimo (our winemaker) to meet us and we               The Graziano family traces its winemaking roots back to the early 1900’s in       the perfect sun exposure lead this vineyard to consistently produce grapes
Contra Costa County’s old vineyards — what is left of them anyway. Well, I            head off to Old Vine Heaven. We stop at this locals’ greasy spoon for lunch to         Asti, Italy. That is when they immigrated to California and established their     that are intense and ripe and reflect the terroir. Twenty two months of
had the honor to make the acquaintance of the King of Contra Costa Old                suss things out. Massimo susses out a Prime Rib lunch with all the trimmings           first vineyard in Mendocino County in 1918. Today, great grandson Gregory         aging in French Burgundy barrels mellows out the rustic Mendocino Zin
Vine Zinfandel himself: Matt Cline. Matt made untold hundreds of thousands            for , and I am not kidding, $9. We head off to see vineyards.                          Graziano takes over the family winemaking traditions and produces a               characteristics, to produce an elegant, yet powerful, wine.
of cases of old vine Zin when he was the winemaker at Cline Cellars for                                                                                                      whopping 4 different winery brands and countless varieties including Enotria
                                                                                     I have seen plenty of old vine vineyards in my day but NOTHING like this.                                                                                                 Dusty berry, black pepper, baking spice, cigar box & loamy earth all can be
almost 20 years. He knows every grower, every vineyard, almost every grape                                                                                                   and Monte Volpe which are dedicated to Italian varietals.
                                                                                     These vines look like dwarf-vines, 1½ feet tall, growing out of pure sand.                                                                                                found in this Zin and its rich long finish. When I think of Mendocino, I think
in Oakley. This was a dude I needed to meet.
                                                                                     Unbelievable! We walk down a row. ”This is Zin, that is Mataro (Mourvedre),             Mendocino means Zinfandel though, and Greg makes a whole stable of Old            of Porcini mushrooms and wild boar. Try this wine with grilled pork sausages
I have been making Zin from the Pato Vineyard (in secret) for 2 vintages             this is Carignane.” Matt is singing out. Most of these vineyards are field blends       Vine Zin single-vineyard designated wines. The Kasmet vineyard is situated        smothered in mushrooms (porcini if possible) and onions.
now. I had a special arrangement with Ehren Jordan that I would take 9 tons          and the varieties ripen early. Back in the day when wine was treated like               on the western foothills of the Redwood Valley. Gravelly loam soils and
of the 30 tons that he bought from old man Pato. Old man Pato does NOT               heroin, people back East, of certain Mediterranean descent, made their own
want anyone other than Turley or Neyers making wine from his grapes. So              wine illegally. Oakley was the preferred area because the fruit was of high
we are making Oakley Zin from Pato shrouded in secrecy. Well, at about the           quality, and was ready to be made into wine by Labor Day every single year.             Calix Syrah “Masked Man Vineyard”
same time that I was getting a little tired of this arrangement (because who         Oakley, with the sandy soils, always gets ripe early. And out in East Contra            Napa Valley - 2005 - $23.99
knew when I’d get x’ed out of the equation), in comes Matt Cline through             Coast County, the Rail Road went right through and on out to parts East…
our door. I tasted his new wines and they are fantastic. You folks also had          like Jersey.                                                                            Ron Goldin and Mark Young; two dudes who live a charmed life in Paradise.         occasion or two, tempers have flared regarding the right of way. The guy
some of Matt’s wine last year when we did that Trinitas series of Zin, Petite,                                                                                               Or, two dudes who know when it is time to fold your bet. That right there         pissed Ron off one morning and Ron decided to get him back by picking a
                                                                                      Well, as you can tell, I learned a lot. I ask Matt, “What is your favorite vineyard
and Mataro. Teeth-stainers, all. So I make Matt a deal…I am going to put his                                                                                                 is the art of a poker player…know when to fold. These guys live right up the      whole bunch of grapes from the guy’s vineyard to make…grape jelly. Well,
                                                                                      out here? ”. He points, “See that apartment building over there that is
new wines in the February club and beyond, if he takes me out to Oakley                                                                                                      road from us on the Silverado Trail on ten acres of Cab and Syrah vineyard.       the jelly didn’t set right so Ron gave all this liquidy, runny jelly to the Chef at
                                                                                      practically abandoned? That is were it WAS”. Where is your second favorite
and shows me around…maybe introduce me to a grower or two. At the very                                                                                                       Restaurateurs, they own an unbelievable FIVE restaurants. Four of them in         Brannans to use in some recipe for that night. Chef Dumass makes up the
                                                                                      old vine vineyard? “See that school that really IS abandoned? It was right
least I will be seen hanging with Matt Cline, and that can’t be a bad thing if I                                                                                             Calistoga, anchored by Brannans…then Checkers, Flat Iron and BarVino.             menu and on it actually reads: Seared Foie Gras with “Vineyard X” Grape Jus.
                                                                                      there”. The Bay Area housing boom…and bust, wiped out a lot of vines. Sad.
want to buy some sick old vine fruit.                                                                                                                                        They decided to tighten their belts and get out of the wine business.             Small town, so some acquaintance of the controversial vintner (he doesn’t
                                                                                      Matt almost had a tear in his eye. This is a special place, and I am determined
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               have many “friends”) calls him up and tells him about this restauranteur
The growers out in Oakley are a little spooked, if you know what I mean.              to stake my claim to some vineyard out here and make wine for you folks for             They own the label “Calix” which produces Cab and Syrah, from their ten
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               ripping off his grape “jus,” and he practically has a freaking coronary, drives
Once, there were these fast-talking real estate dudes who turned perfectly            years to come. This blend of Lodi and Oakley old vine Zin averages around               acre vineyard surrounding their house. As the economy is going south,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               down to the restaurant HIMSELF and threatens Ron with litigation of the
perfect old vines into parking lots that are now abandoned but still covered in       87 years. Brooding, masculine. Powerful nectar indeed. Ripe…the blackest                they get an offer that they really can’t refuse…from a vineyard neighbor, a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               serious sort. Story goes Ron is soooo pissed that he grabs a knife from Chef
concrete. I also take him golfing— figuring I’ll get his undivided attention for 5    blackberry with pencil lead minerality and mocha dusted cherries. One dish             “controversial” guy, and the maker of a $275 cult Cab (let’s call it “vineyard
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Dumass and the target of his ire is seen quietly removing himself from the
hours on the links to pick his brain about winemaking and stuff. Golf was fun         for this wine: Hot and spicy BBQ.                                                       z”)…a phenom which sources some of the fruit from a vineyard adjacent to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               building ever so gingerly in a nonsensical fashion.
                                                                                                                                                                              the Masked Man. Lucky Ron and Mark. This guy is living in this undeniable
                                                                                                                                                                              vacuum of hype surrounding his cult wine, and can’t quite get enough fruit        This Syrah is the bomb and I am one to sorely see it get sucked in by the
Downhill Winery Zinfandel “Unti Vineyard” (Primitivo Clone)                                                                                                                   to crush. So he makes Ron & Mark an offer to lease (and farm) the Masked         “winery z” black hole. Dark in the glass, ripe in the mouth, a pleasure on the
Dry Creek - 2006 - $24.99                                                                                                                                                     Man for a guaranteed sum year in and year out. No risk. And for 2 dudes           palate. Four different clones lead to a well rounded and balanced Syrah.
                                                                                                                                                                              who own FIVE restaurants in this economy — the crack of dawn ain’t a sure         Searing fruit on the front palate then becomes more elegant in the mid.
Frank Ashton, the proprietor of Downhill, and I have one thing in common:             One day I finally went to Unti, to check it out, but also to pay my respects
                                                                                                                                                                              thing these days.                                                                 Black raspberry, blueberry, and huckleberry lead to saddle leather, white
the belief that if you don’t have access to good vineyard — you aren’t making         to Levi. I got the GRAND tour and met the winemaker, a Frenchman. We
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                pepper, and incense cedar. Long extracted finish. Hi Ho Silver! Serve with
good wine.                                                                            were shooting the breeze and tasting the wines and I was very eager to try              I could tell you no less than 20 stories...the guy just oozes controversy. One
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                roasted Crow and grape jelly, or a Rack of Lamb encrusted with herbs.
                                                                                      the Zinfandel because this is Zinfandel Country for Christsakes, this was Dry           story stands out, particularly with respect to Ron and Mark. They share
I have coveted the Unti Vineyard for its Grenache and Zinfandel for some
                                                                                      freaking Creek Valley. We taste the Zin and it ain’t typical of “Dry Creek Zins”        a driveway with him that runs down the side of the vineyard, and on an
time now. I have to admit, I laughed out loud when I saw the Unti Vineyard
                                                                                      and not in a favorable way. I am shocked. I ask about the winemaking techniques,
designate on this bottle. Here is why: When we first opened the store, I
                                                                                      me being courteous, and he states, “I really despise Zinfandel.” I almost fall
used to buy quite a bit of wine from David Coffaro in Dry Creek Valley. His
vineyard is next to the Unti Vineyard. I always wanted to stop in but I was
                                                                                      over. Here he is in one of the best terroirs for Zinfandel on the planet and he
                                                                                     “despises” Zinfandel. Dry Creek is the home to some of the best Zin vineyard in
                                                                                                                                                                             Bell Cellars Zinfandel
always in a rush and never did. I had enjoyed their Grenache and Syrah from
                                                                                      the world—and the winemaker didn’t even like Zinfandel? Sorry, dude.                   Napa - 2005 - $24.99
restaurants. One of our first assistant managers was living with her boyfriend,
Levi, who was a vineyard manager here in Napa for a huge farming group. Levi         That is why I laughed and laughed when I saw this Downhill Unti Zin…I KNEW              Anthony Bell is from South Africa. His father was in the Spirits business and     plant an entire vineyard of Clone 6 for Bell. He produced, at one point, the
grew up on West Side Road in Dry Creek all his life. One day his dream came          it was going to be delicious and it is. All the right Dry Creek stuff: dusty bramble,   wanted young Anthony to follow in his footsteps, but after an internship          only 100% Clone 6 Cabernet Sauvignon in the Valley other than BV. Now
true and he was offered the vineyard management position at Unti. I was very         black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, licorice, blackberry and earth. Yum. This             in Bordeaux, Anthony was dead set on making wine, not gin. He studied             a few other wineries do as well including…ahem…The Wine Garage. Ours
happy for him but I knew I was about to lose our assistant. She was a great          is a great cheese wine. Not too big to get in the way — and all the spiciness           viticulture in South Africa and France and his dad told him if he really wanted   is from Lake County and the only Clone 6 Cab priced at $25. The 2007 is
employee and I really liked working with her. Inevitably, she resigned.              enhances the subtle nuances of delicate cheeses.                                        to learn how to make WINE, he needed to head over the pond and study at           finishing up in the barrel and look at your e-mail for a Futures Offer coming
                                                                                                                                                                             this new college that has been recently making waves in the booze business:       soon at an unbelievable price.
                                                                                                                                                                             UC Davis. He secured a job as a viticulturist at Beaulieu (BV) in the mid 70’s
Dubost Homestead Red Blend                                                                                                                                                   right when Napa Valley was rocking the wine world due to the unbelievable
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               So…Anthony is pretty persnickety about clones and grapes and stuff,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Zinfandel in particular. He only makes Zin when he finds the right set of
Paso Robles - 2004 - $16.99                                                                                                                                                  results of the “Paris Tasting.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               circumstances, and those circumstances don’t come often. He made Zin
Every time I go down to Paso Robles lately, there are another 50 new wineries         grape growing conditions as Tablas and Justin.                                         Anthony worked under one of the great minds of the California Wine                in 1995…then again 2004, yes, nine years between vintages. His wine club
that have opened since the last time I visited. One of the reasons may be the fact                                                                                           Industry, Andre Tchelistcheff. Andre wanted Anthony to do a study                 members practically FORCED him to make it again in 2005, which you are
                                                                                     This wine is a blend of Tempranillo, Grenache and Mourvedre. Crazy, no? What
that you can start a winery and vineyard with only 5 acres of land. In Napa, to                                                                                              on grape clones. He felt that the past phylloxera outbreak caused the             tasting now. This Zin is what I call in the style of Claret, and what better
                                                                                     an interesting blend. The Tempranillo gives the wine structure, acidity and nice
preserve the Agricultural intent of the Valley, you need to have a minimum of 40                                                                                             vineyardist to replace all the vines — and now they really had had no idea        person to make it for you than Anthony Bell the Cab/Claret king.
                                                                                     red fruits like strawberries. The Mourvedre provides some dark, black fruit like
acres. That is a lot of Benjamins. Another reason is Paso Robles’ proximity to Los                                                                                           what clones were growing in the famous Latour and Tokalon Vineyards.
                                                                                     blackberries and plums…plus a black pepper component. Grenache gives some                                                                                                 The fruit is from Calistoga and shows some beautiful plum and blackberry
Angeles, where there are a lot of very rich people who can pour money into their                                                                                             Anthony went to work with another colleague at UC Davis and poured
                                                                                     cassis, earth and a sweet vanilla finish. All this winemaking and winery stuff by                                                                                         layers. Black pepper, cola, cedar, vanilla, all show in an elegant and
hobby without having to actually make money working their hobby. Different                                                                                                   over all the old archives of agricultural field stations. They found a parcel
                                                                                     the Dubost family was engineered by Jacob Raines, one of the grandsons who                                                                                                restrained style. This wine is what winemakers call “pretty” (like this is
scenario with the Dubost Family and their winery.                                                                                                                            map of an abandoned experimental vineyard in the hills of Amador that had
                                                                                     took a liking to the world of wine. He started out with some big name wineries                                                                                            pretty freakin’ good). Perfect food wine — yet just as perfect as an aperitif.
                                                                                                                                                                             been formally closed in 1903. They hunted down this vineyard and found
The Dubosts have been living in the Adelaida area west of Paso Robles since the      in the area then took the leap of being the family winemaker. He does a nice job,                                                                                         I’m on my knee surgery recovery now, and before I went under the laser, I
                                                                                                                                                                             that there were some vines still actually living scattered over an acre of
late 1800’s. Adelaida was a booming community of miners and homesteaders             too. What a nice story that a pioneering family from a hundred years ago is still                                                                                         made a big pot of Posole (pork and hominy stew) to get me through the
                                                                                                                                                                             overgrown scrub and oak. They took some cuttings from the budwood that
back then. Now, it’s a historical marker along side the road where the general       in the area contributing to the community and making products from the earth,                                                                                             dark times — and had a big, fat glass of this Zin that paired amazingly well.
                                                                                                                                                                             was still viable and headed back down to Napa with the lost “Clone 6.”
store and post office were. These businesses were run by the Dubost family.          sun and rain. This wine goes great with a classic Santa Maria BBQ of Tri-Tip and
There is a winery called Adelaida out west—but the Dubost place now is just          pinquinto beans.                                                                         Fifteen vintages of BV George LaTour later under his belt, Anthony Bell, the
over the hill from the Tablas Creek Winery. Same limestone soil, same incredible                                                                                              then winemaker of BV started his winery, Bell Cellars. First thing he did was
Butternut Squash and Turnip Gratin                                                   Steamed Chicken with Jus
 Preheat the oven to 400F degrees.                                                   This has been my hit chicken recipe of the winter, for both the incredible
                                                                                     concentrated chicken flavor and its effortless cooking method. You
• 1 large butternut squash (3 lbs)
                                                                                     must start with the highest quality chicken you can find— preferably
• 3 medium turnips                                                                   organic and free range. You must have a 7 qt. cast iron enameled Dutch
• 5 tablespoons soften butter                                                        oven, such as Le Creuset. The Chicken comes out perfectly cooked and
                                                                                     juicy, and the liquid from the vegetables and chicken create an amazing
• 2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme                                                   sauce, after blended.
• 2 teaspoons kosher salt                                                             Pre-heat oven to 250F degrees.
• 1 teaspoon ground black pepper                                                     • 1 4 – 5 lb. whole chicken, giblets removed, wings tucked under
• ½ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground if possible                                        breast, generously sprinkled with kosher salt and fresh cracked
                                                                                       pepper inside and out.
• 1 ½ cups heavy cream
                                                                                     • 2 ribs celery, ½ half yellow onion, 1 medium turnip, 1 carrot, all
• 2 cups shredded gruyere
                                                                                       chopped, keeping the dice the same approximate size.
• 3 tablespoons grated parmesan or asiago cheese
                                                                                     • Heavy duty aluminum foil
Trim the squash by removing the stem and then cut the squash into two
pieces: the neck and the bottom. Peel the skin of the neck so that the               • Olive oil
orange flesh comes through (remove the layer of green, like with a                    Rub entire chicken with olive oil and seasonings
melon). Peel the round, bottom part of the squash, then cut in half
lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp. Cut                  Brown chicken in olive oil breast side down over medium high heat
both the neck and the bottom halves into 1/8-to-1/4-inch slices with a                until lightly colored. Turn and brown chicken breast side up, and then
knife, mandolin or food processor slicing blade.                                      on sides. Remove from dutch oven.

 Peel the turnips and slice into same size as squash.                                Add slightly more olive oil and sauté chopped vegetables for 1 minute.
 Butter a baking or gratin dish. Place enough squash slices in the dish to            Return chicken to dutch oven. Place 2 sheets foil over top of oven
 form a single layer and overlap them. Sprinkle with some of the salt,                then place lid over foil to create an airtight seal.
 pepper, chopped thyme, nutmeg and gruyere. Repeat next layer with
 the turnips just as you did with the squash and then alternate squash/               Place in pre-heated oven for 1½ hours.
 turnips until dish is full.                                                          Remove chicken and place under the foil sheets to rest for 10 –15
Pour the cream evenly over the top of the squash. Cover with the                      minutes. Meanwhile, remove vegetables and any juices to a blender
parmesan, and bake for about 35 – 45 minutes. You may brown the top                   and blend until smooth (I use a stick immersion blender). Carve chicken,
of the gratin by placing it under a hot broiler for 4 – 5 minutes.                    place on serving plate and cover with sauce. You won’t believe the old
Serve immediately.                                                                    fashioned chicken flavors.




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                                                             1020 Foothill blvd #c calistoga, ca 94515 (888) 690-wine winegarage.net

								
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