Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Family Winemakers of California

This was my first experience at Family in  San Francisco at the Fort Mason Center. It was a great one thanks to...

1) My friend (and international distributor) JB Moresco who was no rookie. Our plan of attack was to explore spontaneously and taste more thoughtfully Day 1 and hit the destination producers we missed Day 1 plus a few extras, recommended by trusted palates, on Day 2.

2) Eating a full lunch at Greens (awesome vegetarian cafe around the corner from the Tasting in Fort Mason Center) prior to tasting both days: http://www.greensrestaurant.com/

3) Spitting everything. If you can't do this, cut the tasting short and go back to your favorites to "drink" a second pour over the last hour. Grab some bread or cheese and crakers to enjoy these sips.

4) Drinking water in between producers. A couple ounces is enough. This will keep you going when fatigue sets in from tasting, talking, standing, and fighting to maintain a healthy core body temp in the Fort Mason Center.

Summary (IMHO):

A LOT of wine and only a handful of standouts. High (unbalanced) alcohol, no mid/back palate, and green tannin showed consistently. And, sadly, in some renowned wines which I really looked forward to tasting. I've listed my "Best in Show" below. These are wines with above average complexity and balance (fruit, acid, alcohol, ripe tannin, oak positive), among their neighbors in CA. However, on an international scale, I can't commend them all on value (taste per dollar). But this is just the voice of one palate, which lacks a respectable wine budget and was trained on almost all Old World wines. 

I believe that there is high demand in the market for the style wine I tasted the past two days, at a lower price. "For the love of the game", I hope these wineries do well. And just because you don't LOVE all of the wines at a tasting doesn't mean it's a bust. I will always go to trade tastings because of the opportunity to meet the winemakers and sales/mkg peeps who are crazy passionate about their juice. Regional tastings showcasing hundreds of wineries are one of the best ways to exercise your the palate and build on your mental inventory of producers, appellations, and specific vineyards*.

(drumroll please)
B E S T   I N   S H O W . . .

Arcadian, (Dierberg Vineyard) Santa Maria Valley, 2006
Fog Crest Vineyard, Russian River Valley, 2005
ZD Wines, Reserve, Napa Valley, 2007

Lynmar Estate, Rose of Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, 2007

Pinot Noir
Arcadian, (Fiddlestix Vineyard) Santa Rita Hills, 2005
Ladera Vineyards, Russian River Valley, 2006
Clos Pepe, Santa Rita Hills, 2007

Cabernet Sauvignon
Parallel Wines, Reserve, Napa Valley, 2006
Kelleher, (Brix Vineyard, Oakville) Napa Valley, 2005
Peirson Meyer, (Versant Vineyard on Pritchard Hill) Napa Valley, 2005

Cabernet Franc
Pride Mountain Vineyards, Sonoma County, 2007
Cass Winery, Paso Robles, 2005

Petit Sirah
Robert Foley Vineyards, Napa Valley, 2006

Enkidu Wine, Odyessy, Russian River Valley, 2006

L'Aventure, Cote-a-cote and Estate Cuvee, Paso Robles, 2006
Paloma, Merlot (15% Cabernet Sauvignon), (Spring Mountain) Napa Valley, 2007 (buy 2006)
X Winery & Amicus, Amicus Special Blend (51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot,10% Cabernet Franc), (Spring Mountain) Napa Valley, 2005

BEST VALUE Portfolio ($12-$20!)
Owl Ridge Wines, Dry Creek Valley/Sonoma Coast/Sonoma County/North Coast 

La Sirena Winery, Moscato Azul - Dry Muscat Canelli, (Calistoga) Napa Valley, 2007
Navarro Vineyards, Estate Dry Gewurztraminer, Anderson Valley, 2006

*and cement my love for the Old World. Much has to change over here before that foundation starts to crack :)


  1. I love the PARTY in MY MOUTH picks especially Navarro and also Ladera. I haven't had Enkidu before. Who makes it? I love your blog by the way. I read it whenever I can and remember to. I am so proud of you that you are doing this. When I am home at Christmas we have to catch up! Cheers, Sabrina

  2. hi sabrina! i would love to catch up around xmas and i'm so glad you enjoy reading the blog. phillip staehle is enkidu's winemaker - he's a gem - we talked for a bit at the tasting. i hope you get to try his wines soon! xo