Monday, August 31, 2015



Jeff was committed to promoting the Santa Maria Valley; a place he considered home and cared about deeply. By offering a Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc under the J. Wilkes imprimatur of quality, we hope to introduce a new generation of wine drinkers to wines of typicity from a venerated appellation.

We hope these wines serve not only as ambassadors of an iconic growing region, but also as an introduction to three varietals that merit much pursuit and discovery.

The J. Wilkes brand was established in 2001 by Jefferson Wilkes, a widely respected wine industry veteran who loved the community of Santa Maria and sailing the Pacific Coast.  Since Jeff’s passing, the J. Wilkes brand has carried forth with a simple mission: to deliver wines of varietal character, at affordable prices, that highlight the virtues of the Santa Maria Valley appellation.



A leading wine educator, international wine judge, wine writer, and sommelier, Robin Kelley O’Connor joined Italian Wine Merchants (IWM), and its dynamic team where he has been adding his thirty years of experience, authority and passion to seminars, dinner events, sales, offerings and wine education. IWM is the leading purveyor of fine Italian wines in the country, as well as a specialist in providing great, rare and collectable wines of Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne, California and Rioja In his role at IWM, he has the occasion to offer an unparalleled spectrum of wine and collector services such as cellar management, IWM’s proprietary online wine cellar tracking tool, wine appraisal and consignment assistance--and more.

He was Head of Wine & Lead Specialist, Americas, for Christie’s Auction House. In his role at Christie’s, Robin was responsible for wine auctions and private sales of fine and rare wines for the Americas, and had the role as the department's lead business-getter in securing consignments for sale.  Mr. O’Connor is a Christie’s trained charity auctioneer. Prior to Christie’s, he was Director of Sales and Education for Manhattan wine and spirits retailer Sherry-Lehmann, winner of Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s 2010 Wine Retailer of the Year Award.  Preceding Sherry-Lehmann, he was Trade Liaison and director of trade and consumer education in the Americas for the Bordeaux Wine Bureau (Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux) for 20 years. As a Bordeaux International Educator he remains very active in teaching Bordeaux.

A native of Maryland, Mr. O’Connor began studying wine while still a student at the University of Maryland. He started his wine career in London as sommelier at Le Chateaubriand Restaurant in the prestigious May Fair Hotel and went on to earn a diploma from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (DWS). He holds Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) and Certified Wine Educator (CWE) certifications from the Society of Wine Educators and passed the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Certified Sommelier exam. As a popular wine educator and spokesperson, he has conducted over 2500 seminars around the world on a variety of topics within the world of wine. He has written for the Trenton Times, Santé Magazine, Wine & Spirit Magazine and was senior editor for Kevin Zraly’s Windows on the World Complete Wine Course 25th Anniversary Edition. For over a year during 2008-2009 he traveled around the world with Kevin visiting over 20 Countries, 80 wine regions, and 500 appellations and tasted more than 7,000 wines.

O'Connor served as president of the Society of Wine Educators from 2003-2007, is on the board of directors of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Wine & Food, and has been a regular panelist at the Food and Wine Magazine Classic in Aspen for 20 years. He has put his palate to test as an International Wine Judge in Australia, Chile, France, and Italy. For many years he judged at the prestigious Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition; San Francisco International Wine Competition and The Dallas Morning News Competition among countless others. For the past 16 years he has been a frequent lecturer on Crystal Cruises sharing his passion about wine and food. For the last four years he has been coaching DeVinimus-Columbia University Law School Wine Club competition team for international contests. In addition he is a regular lecturer at the International Culinary Center (formerly known as the French Culinary Institute). Among his many professional honors, Mr. O’Connor bears the distinction of having been inducted into the wine world’s most prestigious institutions, including the Commanderie du Bontemps de Médoc- des Graves et de Sauternes-Barsac, the Jurade de Saint-Emilion and Les Hospitaliers de Pomerol.


Monday, August 24, 2015


GARY PISONI – PISONI VINEYARDS                                                  

A special place, Pisoni Vineyards expresses the land and climate of the Santa Lucia Highlands and the spirit of the Pisoni Family. The site is a source of exceptional Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah.

First planted by Gary Pisoni in 1982, Pisoni Vineyards consists of small vineyard blocks arranged on and around the ridges of the mountainous landscape. Ranging in size from one-half to seventeen acres, the vineyard blocks perch at an altitude of 1,300 feet in the granite-laced mountains of the coastal Santa Lucia Range.

Inspired by the Burgundy tradition of having several wineries source fruit from the same vineyard, Gary Pisoni has formed relationships with some of the most prestigious Pinot Noir producers in California. With agreements based on handshake alone, these wineries are guaranteed specific rows and blocks each year. They purchase grapes at a per-acre price rather than a per-ton price, which maintains the focus on quality and not yields.

In addition to supplying fruit to artisan producers of vineyard-designated wines, the Pisoni Family retains a portion of the vineyard for the production of Pisoni Estate wine.

Vineyard management is meticulous. Under Mark Pisoni's leadership, a long-time permanent crew of 18 skilled individuals perform all the work by hand. Every decision implements sustainable farming practices and long-term considerations. This commitment, combined with the rocky soils and cold Monterey Bay weather, produce serious and compelling wines.

In 1952 Jane and Eddie Pisoni began farming vegetables in the fertile Salinas Valley. A celery-crop profit in 1979 provided the down payment for the Santa Lucia Highlands property that became Pisoni Vineyards. Their love for the land provided the place where their son Gary could realize his dreams. Gary developed a love of wine while attending college. He started collecting fine French and German wines, and he made his first wine in his garage in 1978 at the age of twenty-five. In 1982, Gary broke ground and planted the first vines at Pisoni Vineyards. He was up against many obstacles, including not having a water source at the time.

Mark Pisoni, the vineyard manager, completed a B.S. in Agricultural Economics at the University of California, Davis, and an M.S. in Farm Business Management at Cornell University. He oversees the meticulous care of both Pisoni Vineyards and Pisoni Farms.  Jeff Pisoni is the winemaker. He earned a B.S. in Enology at California State University, Fresno, and got hands-on experience at premium wineries before becoming the Pisoni Estate and Lucia winemaker in 2002.

The Pisoni Family produces one wine each year under the label bearing its name: Pisoni Estate Pinot Noir. Although actual quantities vary with fruit yields, typical production is a mere 500 cases annually. Often noted for their deep color and intensity, wines from Pisoni Vineyards offer complex flavors and layers of undulating texture. The rocky mountain soil and the long, cool growing season provide the fundamental character of the wine, and the tannin and acid structure contribute to the age-worthiness.

Lucia vineyard designated Santa Lucia Highlands AVA wines. Lucia is the sister label of the Pisoni Estate wines. Whereas Pisoni Estate is committed to a single expression of the Pisoni Vineyards, Lucia represents the collection of vineyards that the Pisoni Family farms: Pisoni Vineyards, Soberanes Vineyard and Garys' Vineyard (the latter two farmed in partnership with Gary Franscioni).

The wines of Lucia are vineyard designated Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah from these vineyards and eponymous Santa Lucia Highlands AVA cuvées with varying percentages of each vineyard blended together. Lucia wines are made alongside the Pisoni Estate wines using the same exacting standards for quality. They are sold via mailing list and high-end restaurants and retailers. If you are on the mailing list for Pisoni Estate wines, you will automatically have the opportunity to purchase the Lucia offerings.



"A variety (or Cultivar) is a set of cultivated plants with clearly distinguishable and distinctive characteristics."

Distinguished Vineyards, Quality Wines with Distinctive Characteristics.  Cultivar Appellation Wines showcase the true characteristics of Napa Valley’s distinct microclimates and terrains by choosing from only the best vineyards throughout the Napa Valley.  Take a tour of the Cultivar Appellations with our small batch, appellation specific wines that highlight the distinctive characteristics of the terroir in our Cultivar Wine Club.

Napa Valley as an Appellation of California
One Cultivar, many appellations.  Napa Valley wines are a blend of several appellations within Napa of which we choose certain characteristics to add more complexity to the flavor and texture of a wine.  The Napa Valley wines are bright, elegant, and expressive and show the pretty fruit while maintaining that balance with structure and elegance.

The Napa Valley is defined by 2 mountain ranges and a proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the Napa Valley enjoys a temperate climate with a long growing season of sunny, warm days followed by cool evenings. Within the Napa Valley AVA, there are 14 other AVAs with distinct micro-climates and terrains formed by a varied topographical configuration of hills, exposures and elevations. The Napa Valley AVA is also part of the North Coast AVA.

Napa Valley's 16 Sub-Appellations
One Cultivar, one appellation.  Cultivar’s appellation wines of the Napa Valley are selected for specific Cultivar characteristics of the specific appellations.

Within the Napa Valley appellation exist 16 appellations, including: Atlas Peak, Calistoga, Chiles Valley District, Coombsville, Diamond Mountain District, Howell Mountain, Los Carneros, Mt. Veeder, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena, Spring Mountain District, Stags Leap District, Yountville and Wild Horse Valley.  From valley floor to hillsides to the mountains they are all are uniquely different because of the climate and the soil types.

The different conditions of Napa’s 16 appellations produce very different wines.  We pick vineyards that are good representations of the appellation it is from and then produce the wines in similar conditions (similar oak, aging and wine making).  There wines are always produced in limited quantities (100 to 300 cases) to express the true characteristics of the appellation.  Try a bottle of each of our sub-appellations for you next at home tour of the Napa Valley.

Vineyard Designated Cultivar Wine
One Cultivar, one appellation, one vineyard.  Cultivar’s Vineyard Designation wines are from specific vineyard within an appellation within Napa.  These Cultivar Vineyards express very specific characteristics.  These vineyard designated wines are produced exclusively from a single vineyard with that vineyard's name appearing on the wine label.


Monday, August 17, 2015



Famous for his flamboyant personality and his fantastical style, the Burgundy born Boisset brought his signature French flair to the Napa Valley with the purchases of De Loach, Raymond Vineyards and Buena Vista Winery, the oldest premium winery in California. As proprietor of Boisset Family Estates, he has incorporated innovative winemaking techniques and sustainable practices across the estate’s 22 wineries in France and California. He is married to Gina Gallo of E&J Gallo, the largest wine producer in the world.


The San Francisco Bay Area isn’t only on the cutting edge of technology—there’s also hotels and wine. That’s apparent in the case of Jean-Charles Boisset, who is about to open a novel and posh JCB Tasting Lounge inside the swank Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco that is so haute that we think it will start a hospitality trend. Haute Living recently enjoyed a sneak peek at this intimate and stylish space that will make you feel like you’ve fallen down a jeweled rabbit hole in wine country. The flamboyant Frenchman who heads up Boisset Family Estates, which has seven California labels, including Raymond Vineyards, De Loach Vineyards, Buena Vista Winery and JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset, and 11 labels in France, has simply outdone himself with his latest chic offering. You’ll soon be able to sip the highest quality wines—from the Russian River to Burgundy—from his JCB and Boisset Collection portfolio in this exquisite room just to the right of the hotel entrance.

“My idea was to create a jewelry box in the city where people want to come and have a good time,” Boisset said.

Part tasting lounge, part boutique—yes, you can buy his trademark red socks as well luxe products from partners such as Baccarat, Christofle, Lalique and Goyard and a new line of jewelry designed by the man himself—the exclusive JCB Lounge is an extension of what he already offers in Napa and Sonoma. However, if you’re in the city, there’s no longer a reason to battle traffic to partake in the inimitable JCB experience. Simply head to 600 Stockton Street.

Oenophiles can select from three tasting options—the Bubble Collection for $50, the Chardonnay & Pinot Collection for $75 or the Ultimate JCB for $100—all of which include a scrumptious food flight by chef Michael Rotondo of Parallel 37, Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco’s acclaimed restaurant. Or, you can tailor-make your own wine tasting menu. Whichever you choose, rest assured that you’ll sip from Baccarat glasses in luxurious surroundings highlighted by lounge music.

A membership will also be offered that allows you to secure your access to the most allocated and prized wines of the JCB Collection, including No. 1 and No. 10 Cabernet Sauvignon, No. 17 Cabernet Franc, No. 3 Pinot Noir and The Surrealist by JCB, through an automatic, recurring futures reservation. You’ll shell out $500 for the one-time membership fee, but the price includes a bottle of the $350 The Surrealist by JCB. Plus, you’ll have complimentary tastings and experiences for four Raymond, DeLoach, Buena Vista and all JCB locations, plus a few other snazzy perks.

About Boisset Collection
Boisset is a family-owned collection of historic and unique wineries bound together by a common cause: authentic, terroir-driven wines in harmony with their history, their future and the land and people essential to their existence.  With more than twenty historical and prestigious wineries in the world’s preeminent terroirs, including the Côte d’Or, Beaujolais, Rhône Valley, California’s Russian River Valley, Sonoma Valley, and the Napa Valley. To learn more about the Boisset Collection, please visit