Monday, January 30, 2012

1/30-Michael Horn talks to Paul Bush and John Hilliard

Paul Bush - Madrona Winery
Partners in business as in life, Paul and Maggie Bush continue the tradition of family, friends and community so well set by Paul’s parents. Their commitment and passion for Madroña are evident in every aspect of their lives — they literally live and breathe Madroña.

Paul grew up with the cycles of winery life, spending school vacations pruning vines and washing barrels at the winery. Today, Paul is both vineyard manager and winemaker for Madroña, balancing his days among the vines and barrels. His passion and enthusiasm for grapegrowing and winemaking are unmistakable and perhaps best expressed in his hands, stained rich burgundy from his grapes and calloused from hard work in the vineyard.

Maggie serves as Madroña’s General Manager. Her background in corporate finance is perfectly suited to Madroña. Most days, she can be found at the winery balancing the demands of business planning, wine club shipments and winery marketing and communications. She is undeniably the rudder behind the passionate creativity and enthusiasm of her husband, Paul, and is an indispensable member of the team shepherding Madroña to the next generation.

Paul and Maggie live near the winery with their daughters Hanna and Tessa. Both are active in the community, having served on numerous boards, including the El Dorado County Winery Association and the Apple Hill Growers Association.

Situated at 3,000 feet in the El Dorado County Appellation, Madroña consists of three family-owned vineyards — our Madroña vineyard, located in Apple Hill and our Enyé and Sumu-Kaw vineyards, located in nearby Pleasant Valley. These three unique vineyard sites are planted with over 26 varietals, carefully selected for their unique winemaking characteristics and blending qualities.

A 21-acre vineyard planted beginning in 2004 to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The vineyard is located on Highway 246 directly across from Dos Hermanas Vineyard (formerly Ashley's). Planted to 17.5 acres of Calera, Pommard, 115, 667, 777 and 828, 2,420 vines per acre. Yields are very low (1lb per vine in 2010). Certified Sustainable by SIP. The vineyard is meticulously farmed by owner John Hilliard and noted viticulturist Jeff Newton.
The estate Pinot Noir was first offered in 2008. Consulting winemaker is Paul Lato. The wine is sold primarily online through the website and via a mailing list.

Monday, January 23, 2012

1/23-Michael Horn talks to Debbie Thomas & Lorenzo Mottola & Elton Sloan

Debbie Thomas - Thomas Hill Farms
Joe & Debbie Thomas, owners of Thomas Hill Organics have captured a lifestyle experience by uniting quality with experience. Their story begins at a wine festival in Santa Inez where they first met and discovered they both had the same interest; a love of fine food and wine. Joe was a fine art teacher at Santa Clara University and Debbie was the Key Account Sales Manager for an athletic accessory company in LA.

Joe developed his interest in farming as a child from his Grandfather; who had numerous fruit trees on his property. His love of "fresh" unprocessed foods came from his Mother. He was never allowed to eat fast food and nothing was prepared out of a can or put in the microwave. “I was raised the complete opposite, but quickly learned to appreciate fresh-healthy fine food after dating Joe.”

“Three years ago we moved to Paso Robles to start our organic farm. I continued to work for Adidas and he planted, and planted, and planted. Ha! We started our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program a year and a half ago and it has grown significantly through word-of-mouth.”

Producers of: Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest, Col Solare, Northstar, Spring Valley Vineyard, Domaine Ste. Michelle, Red Diamond, Snoqualmie,14 Hands, Distant Bay.
Stag's Leap Wine Cellar, Hawk Crest, Conn Creek, Villa Mt. Eden.
Importers of Antinori ( Tuscany, Umbria), La Braccesca ( Tuscany), Tormaresca ( Puglia), Haras de Pirque (Maipo Valley, Chile), Antica Napa Valley ( California), Villa Maria (New Zealand), Nicolas Feuillatte ( Champagne)- Since 1934

Elton Sloan - Genreal Manager, Robert Craig Winery
Our GM & Winery Partner Elton Slone also directs National Sales & Marketing, including sales planning, key account development, and marketing  communications. Elton joined the winery in 2004 with more than 12 years of sales management experience on both the winery and distributor side. In 2007, he was made a partner in the winery.

Friday, January 13, 2012

1/16-Michael Horn talks with Phil Hurst & Gary Pisoni

Phil Hurst - CEO & Managing Partner H.D.D. LLC

Phil Hurst grew up on a 1000-acre ranch on the eastern hills of Napa Valley where his family raised cattle, horses and sheep. “That’s what gave me the agriculture bug,” says Phil. He is still proud of the Reserve Grand Champion steer that he raised to show at the Napa Town and Country Fair.
As a teenager he worked in wineries during summers to earn money for college. When he headed to the University of California at Davis, he intended to become a veterinarian, but a great summer job at Domaine Chandon inspired a new vision. Phil studied Fermentation Science (Enology), earning a BS degree in 1985, the same year he joined Paul Dolan and the winemaking team at Fetzer Vineyards. “We did a lot of organic farming then, with great results,” Phil recalls. When Brown-Forman (B-F) purchased the winery from the Fetzer family in 1992, B-F appointed Phil their International Winemaker and Brand General Manager.
After 12 years at Fetzer, Phil joined Golden State Vintners (GVS), serving as Vice President of International Sales. While at GSV, Phil met the people who became his partners in Winery Exchange, a venture-backed company founded in 1999 to source, develop and produce private labels and national brands of fine beer, wine and spirits. In 2008 sales reached almost $70 million. Phil is co-founder and was Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing.
Over the years the Dolan-Hurst relationship, which began at Fetzer, has grown. The two families share a mutual dream: to build three small wine estates (Napa, Dry Creek Valley and Russian River Valley) where they can practice the highest level of earth-friendly farming and make the finest wine. In 2007 Phil and his wife Sylvia joined Paul and Heath Dolan in the purchase of a 26-acre property in the heart of Dry Creek Valley and the historic Napa Valley brand Stonegate. Phil loves the Dry Creek site – its beautiful views of the valley and neighboring hills, pristine character and creek-side venues. “I want this to be a family legacy where my boys will someday get involved with winemaking, grape growing and marketing. Right now, I want them to learn to drive the tractor,” says Phil.
Phil and his wife Sylvia live in Dry Creek Valley, Healdsburg, with their two sons Alek and Clay.

Gary Pisoni - Founder & Visionary
At Pisoni Vineyards & Winery, we are committed to growing the best grapes possible and producing exceptional handcrafted wines that represent our vineyard and the dedication of our family. 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 our 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, we started retaining a small percentage of grapes for our 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.

Monday, January 9, 2012

01/09-Michael Horn visits with Daniel Benton & Executive Chef Claud Beltran

Daniel Benton - COO & Assistant Winemaker Croze Winery

It's WINTER in the vineyards. You may think it's time to rest, but the vineyards are very much alive! Pruning has already begun and Mustard is abundant in vineyards all over Napa Valley. In the vineyard pictured here, the first pruning is already complete.

We're busy inside the winery, too. It's time to put barrels of the 2011 Vintage into storage and to pull out older vintages for topping and other adjustments.

We've also bottled and released four, wonderful wines!

The Grand Kickoff Dinner for the fourth-annual Pasadena PinotFest promises to be a delectable event done by the numbers—specifically, the numbers five, five, five—as the evening celebration will feature five exquisite courses prepared by five preeminent chefs, all accompanied by outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines provided by five of California's top wineries, in an elegant country club setting. And to make this standout event even more significant, a portion of the proceeds will benefit the in-need children and families served by Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services—one of the largest provider of children's mental-health services in Los Angeles County.

The Grand Kickoff Dinner will be held on Jan. 15, 2012, 6 p.m., at the Altadena Town & Country Club. Guests will be treated to a five-course, epicurean experience and will be joined by the winemakers:
• Course I—Elements Kitchen (Chef Onil Chibάs) and Clos Pepe Winery (Wes Hagen);
• Course II—AKA Bistro & Bistro 45 (Chef James Lambrinos) and Hitching Post Winery (Gray Hartley and Frank Osini);
• Course III—Altadena Town & Country Club (Chef John Angelopulos) and Alma Rosa Winery (Richard Sanford);
• Course IV—The Raymond Restaurant (Chef Tim Guiltinan) and D'Alfonso-Curran Wines (Kris Curran and Bruno D'Alfonso);
• Course V—Noir Food & Wine (Chef Claud Beltran) and Williams-Selyam Winery (Jeff Mangahas and Bob Cabral)

To purchase Grand Kickoff dinner tickets,which are $149 - $179 per person, please visit

The Grand Kickoff Dinner ushers in the always-highly anticipated Pasadena PinotFest—sponsored by Pasadena's top-rated Noir Food & Wine—which promises once again to be a palate-satisfying series of spectacular events from Jan. 15 through Feb. 11, 2012. A month-long celebration of the wonderful world of Pinot Noir, events include gourmet winemaker dinners as well as wine tastings at Noir Food & Wine. The festival will culminate with a Grand Public Tasting at the Altadena Town & Country Club on Feb. 11, which will feature wines from more than 100 wineries. For information and ($95 pp) tickets, visit or call 626.795.7199.
Pasadena PinotFest Calendar of Events:

Sunday, January 15, 2011 — Grand Kickoff Dinner
6:00 pm, Altadena Town & Country Club (2290 Country Club Drive, Altadena 91001), $149.00 pp (regular), $179.00 pp (VIP)

Saturday, January 21, 2011 — Pinot Noir Wine Tasting Series #1
3:30 pm, Noir Food & Wine (40 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena 91106) $15 pp

Saturday, January 28, 2011 — Pinot Noir Wine Tasting Series #2
3:30 pm, Noir Food & Wine (40 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena 91106) $15 pp

Saturday, February 4, 2011 — Pinot Noir Wine Tasting Series #3
3:30 pm, Noir Food & Wine (40 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena 91106) $15 pp

Friday, February 10, 2011 — Pinot Noir Wine Tasting Series #4
3:30 pm, Noir Food & Wine (40 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena 91106) $15 pp

Saturday, February 11, 2011 — Grand Public Tasting
1:00 – 5:00 pm, Altadena Town & Country Club (2290 Country Club Drive, Altadena 91001), $89.00 pp (general), $119.00 pp (VIP)
After January 15, ticket prices are $95.00 and $125; General admission includes: admission (1-5pm), featuring up to 100 top wines, winemakers, use of Reidel Pinot Noir Glass and cuisine provided by Altadena Town & Country Club, Noir Food & Wine, Elements Kitchen, The Raymond Restaurant, and AKA Bistro, free parking and shuttle. VIP admission includes all of the above plus access to Grand Public Tasting at 12 noon, one hour earlier, and the use of the VIP lounge.

For most up-to-date information and tickets for all events, visit or call 626.795.7199.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

01/02-Encore Broadcast Michael Horn visits with Dick Calafato, Larry Van Alst, Terry Hall

Dick Calafato - Partner/General Manager Pyrenees Vineyard and Winery
Special guest Dick Calafato will update you on the latest news from the Umpqua Valley, Southern Oregon's fastest growing wine region.
Apodaca family’s commitment to the superb quality of their wines is evident in its excellent quality and distinction. Pyrenees Vineyard and Winery pulls many of its influences from the Basque country of northern Spain where the Apodaca’s Heritage was originated. Pyrenees Vineyard and Cellars brings to you their many varietals of wines from the finest Oregon grapes influenced by the textures of the rich soil, the abundant vegetation and mild climate of the Umpqua Valley.

Pyrenees Vineyard and Cellars sets along the South Umpqua River surrounded by 30 acres of lush grapes and rolling hillside. You will find sitting out on the vineyard’s deck overlooking the river extraordinary, while you take pleasure in one of our indescribable wines. Come walk through our long rows of beautifully intertwined grape vines and smell the aromas in the earth and wind that you find as welcoming on your palate as you take each sip of our Vino.
At Pyrenees Vineyard and Cellars we have a wonderful group of people who will welcome you as old friends and take you through our majestic wine selection. A place where relationships are created that last life times and memories will be made that last through-out countless generations!

Larry Van Aalst Hosts the What's Cookin' On Wine: Sonoma Wine Report from the Equus Restaurant inside the Fountain Grove Inn

Located just 65 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, the hotel is close to the Redwoods, the Sonoma Coast and the Russian River. The quaint towns of Healdsburg, Calistoga and Sonoma are within an easy drive as well as the wine appellations of Dry Creek, Russian River and Sonoma Valleys.

Golf at the private Fountaingrove Golf and Athletic Club located only a half a mile from the hotel or plan a shopping excursion in nearby charming downtown Santa Rosa. Sonoma Wine Country has so much to offer.

The Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) non-profit trade association announces its annual Premiere Napa Valley Wine Auction June 2 - June 5, 2011.
The Napa Valley Vintners is the non-profit trade association responsible for promoting and protecting the Napa Valley appellation as the premier winegrowing region. From seven founding members in 1944, today the association represents nearly 400 Napa Valley wineries and collectively is a leader in the world-wide wine industry. To learn more about our region and its legendary American wines, visit .