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Our domestic rose magnum this summer! Peter and Rebecca Work of Ampelos consistently produce some of the most delicious Pinot, Syrah, Viognier, and Grenache in Santa Barbara County. Farming and sustainability are central at Ampelos - they are Demeter certified biodynamic, SIP certified, and even their bottles are produced in California. Their 2016 rose is fresh and flavorful, combining 80% Syrah, farmed and harvested specifically for rose, 15% Grenache, and a 5% splash of Riesling from recently planted vines on their estate. Juicy watermelon and strawberry blossoms, with crunchy pomegranate, blood orange, and orange zest. Ariana Rolich
Bedrock's 2014s are impressive in their freshness and balance across the board, but Evangelho is extra subtle and structured, with pink and purple floral aromas that carry onto the palate of crushed purple berries with tart, tannic skins, an abundance of blood orange and citrus oils that I associate with Evangelho, and fresh, gritty minerality. Evangelho is 40-foot-deep beach sand planted in the 1890s to Zinfandel, Carignane, Mourvedre, and more. The fine folks at Bedrock call it a "viticultural survivor- wedged betweem a PG and E plant, a Burger King, and a motel that rents rooms by the hour." Pretty and refreshingly acidic, this is a Zinfandel blend to unite diverse drinkers. Ariana Rolich
55% Zinfandel blended with Carignane, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Alicante Bouschet, Grenache, Syrah, Barbera and a touch of whites for aromatics from old vine plantings (up to 100 years old) around Sonoma County, fermented with native yeasts in stainless steel and raised in a nice bit of French oak for a bold, bright-fruited, silky, and satisfying wine that is unbeatable at this price.
The grapes from this vineyard (named after George Besson Sr. and Jr. whose families have lived and tended this vineyard since the 1930s) is fermented with native yeasts, using 15% whole cluster (with the rest destemmed), and racked into neutral barrels, unfined and and unfiltered. This wine envelops the palate with black cherry skin and fruit flavors, and violet, freshly rained earth, and menthol undertones. Despite the lightness and brightness of this Grenache, all the flavors resonate with an understatedly profound intensity. Pair with roast turkey with cranberry sauce or mushroom and herbed stuffing! Jonas Mendoza
The Antle Vineyard is perched at the edge of an extinct volcano, planted on granite and limestone soils at nearly 2,000' in the Chalone AVA. Several notable California winemakers have sourced fruit from this distinctive vineyard, including Enfield, Dirty & Rowdy, and the Scholium Project. Birichino's Pinot Noir from Antle Vineyard resonates with black cherry skin and tart black raspberry flavors with meaty, earthy, and herbal undertones, framed by firm and stern tannins. Jonas Mendoza
The Saint Georges Pinot is firm and bright with aromas of dried cranberries and blood orange; on the palate, macerated strawberry and salty red plum. The silky tannins frame the wine's distinctive freshness and vibrant texture. Alex Krause and John Locke sourced the grapes predominantly sourced from a warm, yet maritime-influenced vineyard on the the southern end of the Santa Cruz Mountains and blended other single vinyeard fruit. Jonas Mendoza
Winemaker Chris Brockway makes Brea Cabernet from Margarita Vineyard in Paso Robles, the same site behind the delicious and popular Broadside Cabernet. The 2013 is riper and more fruit-forward than the previous year's vintage, leaning more toward California than Bordeaux. Juicy black cherry, black currant, and ripe black plum flavors delicately interweave into dried thyme, sage, and compacted earth undertones. Jonas Mendoza
This style of wine was formerly known as Napa Gamay and for good reason. The taste is reminiscent of Beaujolais with medium tannin and great energy, though more purple in color and with darker fruit. Vineyards are dry-farmed and have an an average vine age of sixty years. Partial carbonic gives them a light and lifted character. Pair with pork chops, veal, bronzino, or carnitas tacos. Drew Farquhar
This is a fantastic zinfandel. The varietal character remains but the alcohol has been brought to heel and the structure is resoundingly more crystalline than many of the soupier 16% abv offerings on the market. A coiled spring, with an array of black and red berry fruits and still moderately dense with tannin, there is a fine black pepper note on the palate and the finish begins with a burst of red fruit complexity that surprised me. There is a note of funkiness brought to it by the volcanic soils of the two vineyards: Arrowhead in Sonoma and Buck Hill in Russian River. This zin is destemmed, fermented in stainless steel and concrete, and aged for ten months in neutral oak. A great wine on its own, this would be a fine partner to steak, meatball marinara, or blood sausage. Drew Farquhar
Clos Electrique is home base for Cameron winery, first planted in 1984 by John Paul and comprising 15 different clones of Pinot Noir, along with various clones of Chardonnay, and several Italian varieties. The vineyard is farmed organically, with only small amounts of elemental sulfur and copper used to prevent mildew and rot. Clover (for nitrogen), buckwheat (for phosphorus), and mustard (for drainage) are planted throughout. Geese, chickens, and goats roam the vineyards, and cover crops are used to nourish the soil and attract predatory insects to keep pests away. It’s truly a natural ecosystem at work, and is also the first certified Salmon-Safe vineyard in Oregon. Though situated on terroir of decomposing basalt (Jory soil) like Abbey Ridge, the Clos Electrique vineyard has a much higher iron and titanium content and it is of much younger origin, in terms of "when the lava flow occurred," says John Paul. The vineyard is also at only 300 feet elevation, and is one of the warmest spots in the Dundee Hills, so harvest is much earlier than at Abbey Ridge, and the fruit typically yields a more intense style of Pinot. It's hotter, but the soils give mineral depth, and the clonal variety provides level upon level of complexity, leading many to liken it's evolution in the glass to an "old world" wine. The fruits of the labor of the entire extended family at Cameron, and a wine that feels like the beautiful place it comes from, and has the warmth of the great people who tend the land. Eben Lillie
The Abbey Ridge vineyard was planted by Bill and Julia Wayne, who are partners at Cameron winery. It’s dry-farmed, with a rotating system of cover crops used to maintain moisture, and only organic treatments used in the vines. Originally planted by the Waynes in 1976, (with additional plots added in the 80s and 90s), Abbey Ridge is one of the oldest vineyards in Oregon. At around 600 feet elevation (up to 700 at its highest point), it’s also one of the highest vineyards in the Dundee Hills, which "makes a big difference on timing of bloom and when the fruit is harvested, " says John Paul. Grapes fully ripen here typically in October and are given the chance to develop high natural acidity, which in turn leads to wines with long aging potential. Everything is here! A beautiful Pinot Noir, perhaps with a Burgundian nod in the form of red fruit, rose petals, dry herbal notes, and bright acidity, but uniquely Oregonian in its own right. Though it would not be a shame to drink this in 1-3 years, it will definitely benefit from longer term aging. Eben Lillie
Always a blend from parcels planted in the 80s and 90s at Abbey Ridge, and fruit from the Clos Electrique parcel, this is a fantastic Pinot Noir that over-delivers for the price. Bright red fruit on the nose, with perfect acidity, and a touch of structure that lingers in the finish. There is definitely potential to age this wine, but it's very enjoyable in its youthful phase. There's no jamminess, or overextraction, just fresh vibrant fruit and well integrated tannins. I know it's been said many a time, but this really does remind me of great Burgundy. Eben Lillie
To make a Saignée, a small percentage of juice is "bled" off during fermentation of red wines, to balance the ratio of skins to juice, and give more boldness to the resulting wine. The run off juice is fermented separately and yields a rosé that has a considerable amount of color, compared to rosés made by direct press, or with very short maceration times. In one of his "rants " from a few years back about pink wine, John Paul writes that "one should be drawn to the wine by its color, captivated by its elegant aromas, and finally conquered by its texture and lingering flavors." The 2016 Saignée Rose delivers on all counts. It has a lovely rich pink hue, pretty strawberry aromatics, and a fascinating fleshy texture and long finish. A perfect rosé for the fall/winter months! I get the sense from John Paul that he might be getting out of the rosé game soon, as the market that was demanding rosé 4 years ago now seems to him to be saturated with them… so this may be the last time we get a chance to drink the Cameron Saignée. I'd suggest getting a bottle or two and drinking sometime in the next 1-3 years. Eben Lillie
This wine is in the warehouse and will not be available for pick-up or delivery until after Labor Day.
Cooper Mountain Vineyards started in 1978 when Dr. Robert Gross and his wife, Corrine, planted the first Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines in the unique soils of Cooper Mountain in the Chehalem Mountains of Oregon's Willamette Valley. Today, the estate has more than 100 acres dedicated to organic and biodynamic farming and winemaking. This Pinot Noir is refreshing and ripe, with brambly raspberry and cherry fruit, baking spice, and earthy flavors. Serve with a chill. Jonas Mendoza
Brothers John and Steve Dragonette and close friend Brandon Sparks-Gillis founded Dragonette Cellars in 2005 after having worked together at a renowned wine shop in Los Angeles. Their shared passion for great wine brought them to wild, windy and remote northern Santa Barbara County where they spent the next several years seeking out extraordinary, cool-climate vineyards and dedicating themselves to careful, patient, minimalist winemaking. The meaty, mushroom, and black cherry aromas remind of Cote de Nuits; sapid black cherry, nutmeg, and dark chocolate flavors hearken to California. Silky and smooth with a firm, tannic structure, this is a Pinot of purity, complexity, and balance. Jonas Mendoza
Our love affair is going strong with Drovers Pinot Noir, a collaboration between our friends at Encore Wine Imports and Brad Ford of Illahe Vineyards. Consistently delicious, but always reflective of vintage, Drovers delivers freshness and depth and a terrific price point. In 2015 there is rich dark cherry, crushed berries, earth, cola, and spice, with more density than the 2014 and admirable balance. Ariana Rolich
I cannot think of a California winemaker working today whom we admire and celebrate as enthusiastically as Steve Edmunds of Edmunds St. John. Displaying a greater resemblance to L'Anglore Tavel than to the typical California GSM blend, 2015 Rocks and Gravel is juicy and generous with invigorating acidity and lots of life ahead. Perfumed and mouth-watering aromas of wild rose, black currant, tea leaves, and wild cherry with a terrifically spicy, bright and balanced palate of black raspberry, cherries and cherry skins, sweet tobacco, juicy young tannins and vibrant acidity. Medium bodied and crystal clear at 13.2% alcohol, this wine opens up beautifully and will reward cellaring. Ariana Rolich
I cannot think of a California winemaker working today whom we admire and celebrate as enthusiastically as Steve Edmunds of Edmunds St. John. What greater pleasure can there be, then, to open this great big bottle of Rocks and Gravel from a great American winemaker? Displaying a greater resemblance to L'Anglore Tavel than to the typical California GSM blend, 2015 Rocks and Gravel is juicy and generous with invigorating acidity and lots of life ahead. Perfumed and mouth-watering aromas of wild rose, black currant, tea leaves, and wild cherry with a terrifically spicy, bright and balanced palate of black raspberry, cherries and cherry skins, sweet tobacco, juicy young tannins and vibrant acidity. Medium bodied and crystal clear at 13.2% alcohol, this wine opens up beautifully and will reward cellaring. Ariana Rolich
This wine is in the warehouse and will not be available for pick-up or delivery until after Labor Day.
This wine is in the warehouse and will not be available for pick-up or delivery until after Labor Day.
Belle Farms Pinot Noir is a perennially stunning single vineyard bottling from Ghostwriter, from 1.5 acres at 500 feet elevation, planted in 1999 to Champagne clones, just outside of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA in the foothills of Mount Madonna. We recently learned from winemaker Kenny Likitprakong that Belle Farms was ripped out after the 2014 harvest and is currently planted with broccoli to enrich the soils before replanting (the vineyard had been struggling for years and ultimately failed). 2013 was a gorgeous vintage for these valiant vines, with aromas of dry earth, sweet cherry, birch bark, cardamom, and clove, which swirl onto the palate of crisp cranberry, rich cassis, black raspberry preserves, and spicy citrus oils, with a bold acidic core. This cuvée always needs some air, and flavors evolve on the second day open toward elegant, high-toned fruit with graceful florals and a fresh, salty, mineral layer. An aptly named vineyard! Please decant. Ariana Rolich
Reminiscent of old-school Cabernet from the 60’s and 70’s, the wine’s supple tannins and lustrous acidity frame sleek black cherry, plum, cassis, menthol, graphite, and licorice flavors. Kenny simply killed it with this inaugural vintage from Bates Ranch, which was planted in the 1970s at 2400 feet elevation in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Electric and bold, with 15% stem inclusion and 25% new oak (and many years ahead), this is a classic Cabernet to pair with grilled short ribs or a juicy steak for your 4th of July BBQ. Jonas Mendoza
The grapes for this inaugural (and very tiny) vintage come from parcels surrounding the legendary Maresh Red Barn and farmed by 90-year old owner Jim Maresh Sr. The blocks are own-rooted Pommard clones planted in 1978. This wine has all the brambly black fruit of the regular Maresh Vineyard bottling, but with additional power, elegance, and structure. Tasting a bottle with Kelley Fox in front of the Red Barn, the rugged tannins frame a dark core of black raspberry and cherry fruit; after several hours, the wine unfurls with flavors of blackberry, mushroom, and freshly rained earth. A truly special bottling indeed! Jonas Mendoza
We love Mike Roth's Lo Fi wines for their effortless balance, quality farming, and overall deliciousness. The 2016 rose is Cabernet Franc, farmed organically and fermented with native yeasts. Tart and refreshing, with chiseled flavors of red currant and oranges, racy acidity, and salty, mouthwatering minerality, this is a perfect first or last glass of wine of the day! Ariana Rolich
Pinot Noir/Gamay saignée rosé from Pearl Morisette vineyards in the Niagara Penninsula in Canada. This is a perfect Thanksgiving rosé, with dark savory character characteristic of saignées, and a flavor profile that reminds me of the cranberry sauce that I so love to adorn my plate with each year. A very satisfying and substantial rosé that drinks more like a thirst quenching red wine. Drink lightly chilled, but not too cold. Eben Lillie
Zinfandel is perfect for summer grilling and the quintessential American wine, hence a mandatory component of 4th of July celebrations! Precedent's Evangelho bottling teaches even the Zin-averse to contemplate this fragrant, complex, and age-worthy grape anew. Aromas of creamy boysenberry and black cherry, with pink flowers, citrus, incense spice, and licorice; the palate exudes both perfect ripeness and fresh acidity, with juicy black and dark red fruits, licorice, bergamot, orange oils, sea brine, and a long minerally finish. Evangelho is a very special vineyard in Contra Costa county, composed of own-rooted Zinfandel with Carignan, Mourvedre, Palomino, Muscat, Chasselas, etc planted in 1890 on deep alluvial sands. Ariana Rolich
Ridge Vineyards first made Merlot in 1974 on Monte Bello; after being initially blended into their famed Cabernet, the Merlot eventually showed enough structure and complexity to merit a separate bottling. Aged nearly 20 months in a combination of 40% new and 60% 4-5 year old American oak barrels, this Merlot displays clove, anise, and allspice aromatics. The high elevation of the Monte Bello vineyard (nearly 2600 feet!) shines through with red plum skin, tart red cherry, and fennel flavors, followed by a sinewy black olive finish. A Merlot to age for the next 5-10 years! Jonas Mendoza
Sky Vineyards has been producing estate-grown and estate-bottled Zinfandel since the late 1970s, but hasn't yet achieved the reputation of other Zinfandel producers like Ridge and Turley. This is a mistake in my not-so-humble opinion. The vineyard's volcanic soil and high altitude along with its warm days and fog-chilled nights produce Zinfandels with great finesse, elegance, poise, and length. There's a panoply of flavors that radiate on the palate: black cherry skin, brambly fruit, pomegrante, steeped tea, dried herbs, garrigue, and black pepper. This wine won't clobber you over the head, but it's quite lithe and sapid with generous dark fruit balanced by earthiness and savoriness. Jonas Mendoza
Skylark Wine Company is collaboration between wine directors John Lancaster and Robert Perkins from Boulevard Restaurant in San Francisco, CA. The Cabernet comes from a heritage clone farmed organically in Rutherford on rocky and gravelly loam soils. With a sleek and lithe texture, the Alondra rests elegantly on the palate with black plum and maraschino cherry flavors with subtle hints of freshly rained earth and cracked black pepper. A lithe Napa Cabernet with bold flavor. Jonas Mendoza
This is an exciting Washington State Grenache from winemaker Joe Swick. Palest ruby in color, this wine has a sumptuous handful of fresh strawberries on the nose that mix with a touch of baking spice and a dark rumor of black tea. On the palate this wine is lush with red fruit, hinting at wild brambles, and shows great energy. Lighter in weight, its a perfect pairing for turkey, and a great companion for mashed potatoes, or roasted root vegetables. Use as a palate cleanser for anything covered in giblet gravy. Andrew Farquhar
A deep and brooding Washington Malbec from Joe Swick, this wine displays a subtle nose, with a bit of elegant dark fruit emerging from its gentlemanly reserve. Dark notes of spice and some husky minerality are clothed on the palate by a classic tannic grip. There is good structure but also fine integration of its various parts, which make it a wonderful complement for a wide range of foods. This is a great cold weather wine, that will be nice alongside rich cheeses, dark full-bodied sauces, and meats of various types, such as veal, game birds, poultry, and fine cuts of grass-fed beef. Andrew Farquhar
Before founding Clos Saron in the late 90s, Gideon Beinstock took his first steps in winemaking at Renaissance Vineyards in the Sierra Foothills. The same vineyards that he helped plant in the 1970s, in the 1990s yielded very classic, structured but elegant wines with great aging potential. Twenty years later, and with Clos Saron established as a front-runner of the New California wave, Gideon was able to reclaim some of the Renaissance wines of the 90s, and release them under his new label, Taken From Granite. These wines were resting undisturbed in the Renaissance cellars for the past 20 years. The 1997 Cabernet is in a beautiful spot right now, with the nose showing a core of dark fruit, cassis, blackberries and plums. There is a hint of sous-bois, dried violets, cedar, hay and a whiff of scattered pine needles on a craggy cliff side. The palate is very alive, with still-firm tannins and very fresh acidity. Red currants and raspberries intermingle with black fruit. The finish carries a slight menthol quality, along with more cedar and tobacco. Big, yet harmonious, this wine drinking beautifully now, but I wouldn't hesitate holding onto it for a further decade or more. Oskar Kostecki