Mar 26, 2017

Paso Robles Rhone Rangers 2017

We recently had the pleasure of again joining the 45+ members of the Paso Robles Chapter of the Rhone Rangers for a day in Paso Robles Wine Country with some of America’s leading producers of Rhone varietals. We always enjoy these events and trying not only old favorites but new producers as well. We were to explore what makes Paso Robles so ideal for these grape vines and wines. Due to a previous commitment we could not attend the days "Rhone Essentials" Seminar (went last year and were very impressed, do not miss) where this year the attendees got to taste a top example of each of the primary categories of Paso Robles Rhone wines and also heard from winemakers and principals who have chosen to be Rhone Rangers in Paso Robles, and who are helping to forge the area's reputation as California's "Rhone Zone".
The seminar panel was moderated by Elaine Brown, American Specialist for, contributing writer with Wine & Spirits Magazine and columnist at Wine Business Monthly.

The wineries and speakers representing the major categories were:
Viognier: Ranchero Cellars 2015 Viognier (Amy Butler, Proprietor)
Roussanne: Tablas Creek Vineyard 2014 Roussanne (Jason Haas, Partner)
White Rhone Blend: J. Lohr 2015 Gesture 'RVG' (Kristen Barnhisel, Winemaker)
Dry Rose: Shale Oak 2015 Grenache/Syrah Rose (Curtis Haskall, Winemaker)
Grenache: Niner Wine Estates 2014 Grenache (Patrick Muran, Winemaker)
Mourvedre: Vines on the Marycrest 2013 Mourvedre (Victor Abascal, Proprietor)
Red Rhone Blend: Brecon Estate 2014 '42' (Damian Grindley, Proprietor, Winemaker)
Syrah: Kukkula 2014 'Noir' (Kevin Jussila, Proprietor)
Petite Sirah: Tooth & Nail 2014 'The Stand' (Jeremy Leffert, Winemaker)
After this those that attended enjoyed the Vintners' lunch  where each table was joined by a Rhone Rangers principal or winemaker for a gourmet banquet lunch prepared by Chef Jeffery Scott. Throughout lunch, members' Rhone wines were passed freely around the tables, while attendees enjoy an extended opportunity to interact with the producers.
We arrived at Broken Earth Winery, on Highway 46 just east of Paso Robles, to enjoy the Grand Tasting & Silent Auction and to taste nearly 150 wines from the complete membership of the Paso Robles Rhone Rangers, including top single Rhone varietals and the best in Rhone blends. During the Grand Tasting we placed a few bids on lots donated by Rhone Rangers member wineries and help support the Rhone Rangers scholarship fund (no winning this year)! 

Tercero from the
Santa Barbara Chapter
There was an added bonus this year as a few producers from the Santa Barbara Chapter were invited and added some wonderful wines. 

Being the professional drinkers, tasters that we are, we developed a plan to get in a good cross section of wines, knowing that all 150 would be a tall order even for us. The plan was derailed a bit as we found a few producers that caught our attention. 

For a full list of Paso Robles Rhone Rangers member wineries, click here. We tasted some lovely wines and won't bore you with the typical list of wines, producers and tasting notes but instead mention a few that got our attention as standouts in a high quality field.

From a producer standpoint the following list (in no particular order) were impressive across the line of wines they were pouring,

Vina Robles also poured our favorite wine of the day. Their 2014 Terra Bella Syrah. A well balanced wine that is a great example of what a great Syrah can be.

Tickets for the seminar and lunch were $90, and seminar/lunch attendees receive free entry into the Grand Tasting. Tickets for the Grand Tasting were merely $35, an absolute steal!

If you love wine, and Rhone wines in particular, make sure to mark your caledar and dont miss next years event. We will see you there...

Happy Wine Adventures,

Mar 19, 2017

Summer is nearly here.

It's been raining, and California has been closed! Ok not really, but wow what a wet winter it has been and just in the nick of time to save us from the drought. But as we close out February and work through March our minds go to winetasting in the Spring and summer. Now you may think its just off on any given weekend to any one of the dozens of winetasting regions in California for a few tipples and a smashing weekend. Not so fast oh eager one. California has a very big variable that can make or break a wine weekend. Some areas will reach 110 deg in the middle of summer and some combine heat and humidity for that ever so lovely 'my body is leaking and it wont stop' feeling. Lets face it, some areas are just potentially not a great choice for July through September. That being said there at some that are. Lets look at a series of tasting times and some corresponding events for different regions of California.

Paso Robles Rhone Rangers Experience
Sun, 02/19/2017 - 10:30am (look for the 2018 event)
The 45+ members of the Paso Robles Chapter of the Rhone Rangers invite you to join them for a day in Paso Robles Wine Country with some of America’s leading producers of Rhone varietals as we explore what makes Paso Robles so ideal for these great grapes and wines.

Vintage Paso: Zinfandel Weekend

March 17 - 19, 2017
Various Wineries
Paso Robles
Raise a glass to Paso Robles' first wine, Zinfandel at Vintage Paso: Zinfandel Weekend

April 1, 2017
Ole Mettler Grape Pavilion at the Lodi Grape Festival Grounds
Lodi. The Lodi Wine and Food Festival is the total wine and food experience right in the heart of Lodi, the 2015 Wine Region of the Year.

April 15, 2017
Participating Santa Cruz Mountains Wineries
Passport aficionados are welcomed into 50+ wineries throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains, each offering a unique winery experience.

April 20 - 23, 2017
Venues throughout Pebble Beach
Pebble Beach
Pebble Beach celebrates the tenth anniversary of its premiere epicurean event.

May 18 - 21, 2017
Various Paso Robles Locations
Paso Robles
The 35-year old festival, one of the largest outdoor wine festivals in California, features more than 70 of the region’s finest wineries.

May 20, 2017
Join more forty stellar wineries pouring some of the world’s best from the Santa Lucia Highlands, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah. For many of our artisan vintners, this is their one public tasting of the year.

The 41st Annual Wine Festival
Fri, Jun 9, 2017, 6:00 PM –
Sun, Jun 11, 2017, 3:00 PM
Where Wonderful Views Collide with Legendary Wines. Now in its 41st year The Monterey Wine Festival has established itself as the premier wine & food event in Monterey. 
These are just a handful of events to choose from, of just a few wine areas. All are probably in good weather periods. At least your odds are better. Nappa and paso are definitely late spring and late fall, whereas Monterey is almost an any time of year destination although summer can be foggy and cool.


Happy Wine Adventures,

Mar 12, 2017

Cutruzzola Vineyards 2013 Pinot Noir

We came across Cutruzzola Vineyards  (Koo-troot-ZOL-a) quaint tasting room in Cambria California a couple years ago, and even back then as we were tasting the wines, knew we had found one of those special, small production wineries that everyone loves to know. The kind of place where great service and great wines are found in a place that that feels like a welcoming home.

On a recent trip through the area we stopped in to check and see how things were going, and to taste the current vintages being poured. Cutruzzola produce fantastic Riesling and Pinot Noir from their estate vineyard. The vineyard is located just outside of Cambria California, only a few miles from the ocean, and just through the coastal mountains (Templeton Gap) from the Westside of Paso Robles wine region. They also have a lovey Chardonnay and Zinfandel.

But lets get to the point of this article. The tasting and falling in love with a most beautiful Pinot Noir.

The cutruzzola Vineyards 2013 Pinot Noir, Giacomino Reserve Bottle # 0185.

With a full beautiful nose of dark fruit, plums and ripe Arciero cherry as well as some laverder undertones. The first rush of flavor on the palate is of ripened cherry, dark berry and plum fruits as the nose promised and they fill the mouth with pleasure. A dash of vanilla and a hint of cola and some spice adds even more interest. The beautiful soft demeanor on the palate is ever so appealing, and the finish is quit long and oh so pleasurable. There is a nice balance provided by some nice integrated acidity that makes this a very well balanced wine.
This is a ** wine that in our books is an 8+ and a Pinot Noir that is one classy lady.

Do yourself a favor and order yourself some of this wonderful wine, and while your at it taste the rest of the lovely wines at Cutruzzola in Cambria California.

Happy Wine Adventures,


Mar 4, 2017

Purple Heart Wines Helps Military Veterans

“The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

— General Douglas MacArthur
Rodman Edward "Rod" Serling of The Twilight Zone
Purple Heart Wines Hosts Military Veterans and Congressional Wine Caucus
Winemaker, Veteran Ray Coursen to Present Wine to Congressman and Guests on Capitol Hill
Washington D.C., February 28th 2017 — C. Mondavi & Family in conjunction with the Military Veterans Caucus and Congressional Wine Caucus are proud to be presenting Purple Heart Wines ( from Napa Valley on March 1st, 2017 in Washington D.C. The cause-worthy wine brand will be sharing the latest 2014 vintage with members of congress, media and guests of honor from the Purple Heart Foundation, including Purple Heart recipient and Chairman of the Board Bill Wroolie. Congressional Wine Caucus Co-Chair, Congressman and Purple Heart recipient Mike Thompson of California’s 5th district, which includes Napa Valley, will also be in attendance. Winemaker and Vietnam Veteran Ray Coursen will present the wine at the event and will discuss his dedication to Purple Heart Wines and his commitment to veterans’ issues.
Purple Heart Vines in Napa Valley
A label produced under C. Mondavi & Family, Purple Heart Wines pays tribute to American military veterans through support of the Purple Heart Foundation, an organization dedicated to serving the unmet needs of military men, women and families. While visiting Washington D.C., Coursen will present a $10,000 check donation to the Purple Heart Foundation for a total of $30,000 donated by Purple Heart Wines in the 12 months since the brand’s launch in March 2016. “I am thrilled to be in Washington D.C. this week to raise a glass of Purple Heart Red Blend with some of my fellow veterans,” comments Ray Coursen. “I hope this wine inspires others to stop and think about the sacrifices our nation’s servicemen and women have made to protect our freedoms.”

Purple Heart Wines has enjoyed significant success in its first year including a sold-out 2013 vintage, the addition of a second winemaker in summer 2016 with Iraq War Veteran David Grega, increased production for the 2014 Purple Heart Red and top scores and accolades from national press. In addition to support for the Purple Heart Foundation, the brand pays tribute to the tradition of military service at C. Mondavi & Family and honors the late Peter Mondavi Sr., a veteran of World War II. 

Order yours here Purple Heart Wine

About Purple Heart Wines
Purple Heart is a Napa Valley red wine crafted by accomplished military veteran winemakers under the stewardship of the Peter Mondavi Sr. Family, whose patriarch is a proud veteran of World War II. It was created in collaboration with the Purple Heart Foundation to support the many needs of brave service men and women returning home. The Purple Heart is a congressional military decoration, awarded to members of the armed forces of the U.S. who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy. No military award better symbolizes the bravery, determination and selflessness of the military men and women serving our country. It is this noble medal that inspired the creation of Purple Heart Wines. In partnership with the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the winery makes an annual financial contribution to the Purple Heart Foundation to help them achieve their mission.
                  Watch and listen Purple Heart

This wonderful piece of information was sent to us by -
Juliana ColangeloSenior AE, West Coast Director- San Francisco Office P: 973-951-6145 E:
540 Howard Street, 2nd Floor,San Francisco, CA 94105

Thanks to Juliana for getting this to us and helping to spread the word for this wonderful project.
Happy Wine Adventures,

“If a man does his best, what else is there?”
— General George S. Patton 

Feb 12, 2017

Luxury accomadation Allegretto Vineyard Resort in Paso Robles

Visiting Paso Robles is always a treat. More great restaurants in the area than one could eat at in a month. More great wines to taste than one could get through in a year and the icing on the proverbial cake is the number of great places to stay. One of those great places to stay is the Allegretto Vineyard Resort

Our first experience here was when we were attending the Paso Robles Cab Collective Event, The Judgement of Paso in 2016. Staying at the resort was fantastic and although we did not get a lot of time to explore or enjoy all that was to be offered, we knew we wanted to return and take it all in.
The timing of that happened when we were invited to the cool and exciting Garagiste Festival. With the need for a place to stay and my wife not as into all the wine stuff, it was decided to mix wine tasting and a resort style mini vacation together. Everyone would be happy. Hopefully...

We checked in early on Friday afternoon and quickly settled in. It was a beautiful afternoon and so we decided to walk around and get a look at the entire site. With a pool area in the back and boche ball courts on the side, a way cool little Chapel as well as scattered seating areas all amongst a thoughtfully and beautifully done series of gardens and vineyard. Inside the courtyard are numerous seating options and a tasteful fountain in the center. There are some fire pits as well for when it is cool enough for the beauty of a flame.

Wandering inside there are a number of rooms for events and special dinners or meetings, as well as the larger conference or seminar type rooms where we had the Cab Collective Judgement Tasting.

With a number of lounge areas with comfortable furnishings and massive fire places that are just wonderful to sit and enjoy with your favorite wine or a cup of coffee.

The restaurant can serve both inside and out and the large bar has a good selection of drinks. I had a tasting flight of the house wines and it turned out to be not only delicious but twice as large as a normal tasting pour!

That evening we had dinner there at the restaurant and really enjoyed some delicious food and a bottle of Daou Cabernet. The atmosphere was energetic and the guy playing guitar and singing songs was just perfect. A very lovely experience. Later that evening we had arranged to meet up with our friend Dawn from ATOD Magazine (look for some collaboration in the future) in the bar but ended up just staying at our table and talking the night away.

Next morning we lazed around before heading off to the Garagiste Festival (one not to miss). After we came back to the hotel we enjoyed lounging in one of the comfortable lounge rooms and walking around the grounds. Later that night it was off to Buona Tavola for some amazing Northern style Italian food and paired with some great Italian wine.

Next morning while I enjoyed some quiet reading writing and coffee my wife enjoyed some pampering at the Spa. The Spa at Allegretto is a quaint boutique spa with six beautifully appointed treatment rooms, a gentle infrared-detox sauna and a lounge patio. They have a number of offerings but my wife had the INTERMEZZO S 50 minute stone Massage. They also offer 80 and 100 minute versions as well. Of this massage they say ; Melt your tension away with warm scented spices and elemental basalt stones that radiate their warmth into the surrounding body tissues and muscles, increasing blood circulation, as well as decreasing stress, tension and tissue stiffness. Deep comfort for the body and mind. 
Here are her words on the experience...

My SPA experience by Catherine.

What better way is there to complete a relaxing, romantic weekend than with a quick trip to the spa? After checking in to our room at the Allegretto, we spent some time touring the facilities and discovering all this beautiful resort has to offer. While sitting outside, sipping wine and planning our weekend away, we discovered some free time on Sunday morning and I quickly ran into the spa to see if they had any openings to squeeze me in.

As luck would have it, they did! After a quick review of the spa menu, I scheduled a 50 minute Intermezzo Stone Massage for Sunday morning (a little earlier than I would have liked but beggar’s can’t be choosers). Plus, this would allow us to go to brunch before we had to leave for home.
Sunday morning arrived (early as expected) and I hopped out of bed and pulled on some yoga pants and a t-shirt. After a quick kiss for my sweetie, I dashed down to the spa to check in. I was greeted by my masseuse and led to a beautiful relaxation room to complete some paperwork to identify my smell preferences (no floral),
problem areas (ticklish feet) and areas to focus on (neck and shoulders)… all the standard stuff.

Once the paperwork was taken care of, I was taken to a changing room and given a plush robe and slippers to change into before being led to my
treatment room.

The spa has six treatment rooms, all beautiful and designed to relax and provide comfort to patrons. I was impressed and so very thankful for the peacefulness.
Once the door of the treatment room closes, outside noises do not intrude. Not once during my treatment did I hear footsteps in the hallway or voices. I was truly able to leave the outside world behind and appreciate my time. I left feeling relaxed and rejuvenated and can’t wait to visit this beautiful spa again!

Mission accomplished! A wonderful couple days in a beautiful resort accommodation that kept everyone happy. Looking forward to many more future visits.

Happy Travel Adventures,