Monday, March 28, 2011

3/28 Jennifer Horn Talks with Mike Sinor from Sinor LaVallee & Michael Brughelli from Volk Wines

Mike Sinor Talks to Us About Sinor LaVallee Winery in California's Central Coast!

Mike is on the Board of Directors for the World of Pinot Noir and serves as the President of the San Luis Obispo's Vintners Association!

The Story of Sinor LaVallee: Pinot Noir has been at the heart of Mike Sinor and Cheri LaValee-Sinor's winemaking lives for more than a decade on California’s Central Coast. Their mission is simple—grow the finest possible grapes at superior local vineyards and put their soul into each barrel. Each of their Pinot Noirs is designed to be different from the other, distinct in sourcing and style yet united by their personal imprint, like songs on an album.

Their journey began 15 years ago, when they met at college in San Luis Obispo and started working at local wineries. The wine bug bit them hard, and the Pinot Noir bug bit them even harder. They were young and a little crazy. The Central Coast still had to prove itself, and so did they. Game on.

They kept at it, grinding out one harvest after another, consuming the craft of winemaking, and studying the art of Pinot Noir. They got married in Burgundy. They had two beautiful children. Experience led to opportunity, and opportunity led to more experience, and both led to fanaticism. And from fanaticism their little winery was born.

For more info on this winery, go to

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

3/21 Michael Jordan Talks with Charlie Palmer & Robert Larson with Rodney Strong Wines

Charlie Palmer Talks About His Experience at the Pigs & Pinot Event!

Pigs & Pinot is a charity weekend that benefits Share Our Strength and local Healdsburg education, including: The Healdsburg Education Foundation, St. John School, and The Healdsburg School.

About Charlie Palmer: Since the beginning of his celebrated career, master Chef and hospitality entrepreneur Charlie Palmer has received critical acclaim for his signature Progressive American Cuisine, a style built on rambunctious flavors and unexpected combinations with a deep and lasting infusion of classical French technique.

Influenced by his childhood experiences working in his family's vegetable garden, Palmer was an early advocate of farm over factory food.

In 1988, he made a landmark commitment to creating dishes featuring regional American ingredients at his sublime three-star Aureole, once situated in a historic town house off Manhattan's Madison Avenue. Today Palmer's flagship Aureole is strategically located within mid-town's dramatically modern Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park.

Over the years, Palmer combined his creative cooking spirit and flair for business to open thirteen notable restaurants across the country, a growing collection of food-forward wine shops and award-winning boutique hotels. But even today, the chef still steps in the kitchen with reinvention on his mind. "Without a doubt, people eat with their eye long before they put fork to food, so I continue to look for a playful yet respectful way to create excitement on the plate."

A frequent guest on NBC's Today Show, Charlie Palmer is also the author of four cookbooks, Great American Food (Random House/1996), Charlie Palmer's Casual Cooking (Harper Collins/2001), The Art of Aureole, (Ten Speed Press/2002), and Charlie Palmer's Practical Guide to the New American Kitchen (Melcher Media/2006).

For more info go to

Robert Larson Tell us the Story Behind Rodney Strong Wines!

Rodney Strong was one of the pioneers of Sonoma County’s modern wine industry, an acknowledged visionary who understood the potential that Sonoma’s soil and climate held for producing world-class wines. A successful dancer before retiring and turning to his second love, winemaking, Rodney Strong established Sonoma County’s 13th bonded winery in 1959.

Rodney Strong Vineyards grows and produces wines from grapes grown exclusively in Sonoma County’s finest appellations: Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley, Chalk Hill and Sonoma Coast. Rod was one of the first to plant pinot noir in the Russian River Valley, the first to produce and release a Chalk Hill chardonnay, and the first to make a single-vineyard cabernet in Sonoma County. The winery’s 14 unique estate vineyards represent a perfect combination of varietal selection and place, the unique soil and climate as well as farming and winemaking techniques.

The winery’s current offerings include sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir, zinfandel, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, Symmetry, a red meritage wine and a couple of single-vineyard cabernet sauvignons from Alexander Valley.

Since 1989, the Klein family, who has been involved in California agriculture for four generations, has privately owned the winery. Their passion for sustainable farming practices, solar power and other green business practices led us to become Sonoma County’s first carbon neutral winery.

For more info, go to!


Monday, March 14, 2011

3/14 Gary Pisoni, Tantara Wines, Master Sommelier Keith Goldston

Gary Pisoni Visits with Us and Talks About His Wines from the Beautiful Salinas Valley!

When Jane and Eddie Pisoni started farming vegetables in the Salinas Valley in 1946, they had no idea what lie ahead for the future Pisoni generations. They started a heritage that continues today. Their son Gary, an avid wine collector, had ambitious dreams of his own vineyard. In 1982, against many obstacles, Gary planted his first 5 acres of vines. With the success of his first vineyard, he planted an additional 40 acres. Today Pisoni Vineyards consists primarily of Pinot Noir, with most of the grapes sold to recognized producers of vineyard-designated wines. The partnerships with these small wineries are based on long-term friendship and enthusiasm for great wine.

In 1998, they started retaining a small percentage of grapes for their own Pisoni Estate label.

Gary Pisoni exudes passion—for adventure, for family and friends, for grape growing and definitely for wine. He is the Burgundian-crazed founder and visionary of Pisoni Vineyards & Winery. After collecting and making wine for most of his life, Gary wanted to plant a vineyard of his own. He was fascinated by the mountain landscape of the ranch his parents purchased in 1979, so he decided to plant the first vines early in the spring of 1982, without even having a source of water. As he will tell you, the story started with him driving a water truck from the Salinas Valley floor to the vineyard to irrigate his young vines, which would struggle to survive in the shallow, granitic soil.

After ten years, Gary finally discovered a well hidden within the far reaches of the mountains. With this source, Gary propagated his vines and began selling grapes to California’s finest Pinot Noir producers. In 1998, he started the Pisoni Estate label. According to Wine Enthusiast, this free spirit and maverick among winegrowers personifies the new face of American Pinot Noir.

For more info, go to!

Winemaker Jeffery Fink Tells Us About Tantara Wines!

Tantara was the name of a horse owned by Bill Cates some years ago. After Tantara was retired to pasture, she defied predictions of an imminent demise and lived to a ripe old age. Horses symbolize elegance, grace and power and in Tantara's case, long life, all of which are qualities they embrace for their wine.

Since 1997, Tantara has been dedicated to producing the very finest Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah. Located on the beautiful Bien Nacido Vineyard in Santa Maria Valley (Santa Barbara County), our wines are sourced from top Central Coast growers and vineyard designate from vineyards such as Bien Nacido, Dierberg, Solomon Hills, Sanford & Benedict, Rio Vista, Talley Rincon, La Colline (Laetitia), Silacci, Pisoni, Garys', and Brosseau. In addition to their two acres of Bien Nacido G Block Pinot Noir, in 1999 they planted ten acres of Pinot Noir and two acres of Syrah which will bring their own vineyard holding to about fourteen acres when these new plantings come online in 2005. This fruit will then make up their estate bottling.Because of their commitment to detail and the finite amount of fruit that meets their standards, total winery production remains small.

For more info go to!

Master Sommelier, Keith Goldston! Keith Will Tell Us About The World of Pinot

In March 2001 Keith Goldston became America's 47th Master Sommelier. He is the proud recipient of the illustrious Krug Cup trophy, passing all three parts of the exam (theory, tasting and practical), on the first attempt. This feat had not been accomplished in over 10 years.

Although Keith is currently one of the world's youngest Master Sommeliers, he brings with him more than 19 years experience working for a variety of prestigious and award winning restaurants & wineries including Domaine Chandon, Masa's, Spago, and Picasso. Wine Spectator has called Keith "a wizard at matching food with interesting wines".

Since passing the Masters Exam Keith has been involved in a variety of projects, many of them with star Chef Charlie Palmer. Keith has worked at Charlie's Las Vegas restaurants; Charlie Palmer Steak and Aureole with its "wine tower" and digital wine list featuring over 4000 different wines. Keith was also hired to open Charlie Palmer Steak Washington D.C. For Charlie Palmer Steak DC, Keith created the "all-American wine list"; offering over 800 wines all exclusively produced in the U.S.A. Keith and Charlie also teamed up to produce a series of private-label wines, where Keith was able to craft the blends with top winemakers in Sonoma. Keith loves to educate and lecture and has had the privilege to teach over 1500 students.

Keith has taught classes at COPIA & the Culinary Institute of America plus travels to exotic locations such as Seoul where he lectured at the Korean Wine Academy and represented the U.S.A. as a wine judge in Korea's first international wine competition. Keith has traveled to India to help with the opening of India's first wine bar, "The Tasting Room" in Mumbai as well as providing extensive staff training for India's top two hotel groups, the Taj and Oberoi. Keith is a regular fixture at the Court of Master Sommeliers Courses, teaching and testing aspiring sommeliers in the ways and standards of the Court.

Monday, March 7, 2011

3/7 Beth Costa from the Wine Road 33rd Annual Barrel Tasting & Matt Brain with Baker & Brain Wines!

Beth Costa, Executive Director of the Wine Road in Northern Sonoma County is Here to Talk with Us About Their 33rd Annual Barrel Tasting!

The Wine Road is celebrating their 33rd annual Barrel Tasting along the Wine Road - Northern Sonoma County 100+ Wineries!

Founded more than 30 years ago, Wine Road is an association of wineries and lodgings in the Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River Valleys of Northern Sonoma County. From its modest
beginning as an organization of nine wineries, it has grown into a spirited constellation of more than 150 wineries and 50 lodgings. It’s not actually a “road” in the sense of a single, continuous stretch of paved
highway, but more of a treasure map to the many jewels nestled among the hills and valleys of a region where fresh air, fine wine and exquisite cuisine await those who traverse it.

Matt Brain Tells Us About His New Venture, Baker & Brain Winery!

Matt Brain and his partner, Josh Baker started a brand new label and are just releasing their first wines, Pinot Noir and Rhone varietals from across the coast of California. The label is called Baker & Brain (Josh Baker and Matt Brain). Tiny amounts of hand crafted single vineyard wines, fruit is farmed using sustainable, organic or biodynamic practices.

More about Matt: With a Master’s degree in Biological Sciences and a background in process engineering, Matt brings both naturalist philosophies and highly technical abilities to winemaking. After leaving a successful career in the Toronto area to pursue his dream of winemaking in California, he found himself working the 2006 harvest with a custom winemaking operation in San Luis Obispo. Matt was quickly promoted to supervise cellar operations for the facility’s premium label. There he was able to develop a solid core of winemaking knowledge while cultivating a personal philosophy and winemaking style. Matt currently holds the role of Associate Winemaker at an Edna Valley winery, working closely with fellow Winemaker Josh Baker.

During his short time in California, Matt has established a strong relationship with the Central Coast Wine Technical Group as well as the Enology and Viticulture Program at California Polytechnic State University. He takes an active role in mentoring students through their Senior Research Projects, allowing them to conduct trials under his supervision as he completes his own Enology and Viticulture education through U.C. Davis.

His love of outdoor adventure is obvious as Matt can often be found surfing his favorite spots along the Central Coast on weekends and holidays when he is not backpacking and hiking with his wife Melanie. The Brains take a balanced approach to healthy living. They paint, read, enjoy music, base their diet on local farmer’s market produce and pursue spirituality through a regular practice of Yoga and meditation.