Monday, November 26, 2012

11/26-Michael Horn visits with Gina Gallo & David Hunt

Gina Gallo - Gallo Signature Wines

Gina Gallo followed the footsteps of her grandfather Julio Gallo to find her calling as winemaker for Gallo Family Vineyards Sonoma Reserve. Today she creates award-winning wines from grapes grown by her brother Matt Gallo.
For Gina, a career in winemaking was inevitable. During high school she worked summers at E. & J. Gallo Winery, and after college she joined the company full time in the sales department.
She was drawn to the creative process of making wine, and years later she began studying at the acclaimed Viticulture and Enology program at the University of California, Davis. At the Winery, she apprenticed under 30-year veteran Marcello Monticelli.
Gina is immediate past president of the International Wine & Spirit competition.

David Hunt - Hunt Cellars
“At Hunt Cellars we pride ourselves on being a hand-crafted boutique producer, making small lots of world class wines,” says David Hunt, owner, winemaker and visionary behind Hunt Cellars. Located on Highway 46 on Paso Robles’ coveted Westside, Hunt Cellars has achieved cult winery status by compulsively focusing on their wine. There is an eagerness for Hunt to show his wines against places like Napa and Sonoma, and for good reason. “When we first opened up our tasting room we, and many other wineries, had to overcome the stigmatism of Paso Robles selling cheap over ripened wines,” he says. But those days are long gone. Paso Robles is being hailed as the next Napa, and part of that is due to David Hunt.

Hunt Cellars is often asked to compete in Cult Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay and Meritage competitions against Napa and Sonoma’s most acclaimed cult wineries: names like Harlan, Grace Family, Joseph Phelps, Mt. Veeder, Paul Hobbs, and Mondavi. “It is always an eye opener to Master Sommeliers and wine writers that our premium wines compete toe to toe with the most expensive and best that Napa and Sonoma offer,” Hunt says. And as proof of that Hunt Cellars was just notified that in the recent California Bordeaux competition, held by Food and Beverage World, they had won four out of the eight categories and came in 2nd in the Meritage blend tasting. Hunt Cellars won Best White Wine with their 2009 Sauvignon Blanc "Starlight Concertio"; Best Merlot for 2007 "Unforgettable” - Best Cabernet Franc for their 2006 "Opulance" and Best Cabernet Sauvignon with their 2007 "Cabovation" and came in 2nd place with their 2006 Meritage Blend "Rhapsody In Red".

David Hunt said he was amazed and honored that he had won these categories against over 60 of California's top wineries from Paso Robles, Napa, Sonoma, Santa Barbara, Lake County, Monterey and others. Said Hunt, “I knew the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc was good, but did not know how good the competition was so I was grateful to have won “Best White Wine.” In the last few months Hunt Cellars has received 96 to 96-plus scores on six of their wines including their 2005 Cabernet Reserve Cask 21, their first Pinot Noir called “Imagine” and their tasty Tawny Port “Oldie But Goodie.”

Hunt, who is blind, has been told that he has heightened senses as a result of his blindness, and some believe this affects his winemaking abilities. “I do not believe in excuses but I work with the wines until I cannot produce a better flavor profile,” Hunt admits. And that takes time, something David Hunt is more than willing to accept rather than rushing his wines to market. “We do not have a set program dictated by barrel aging but we let the barrels and wines tell us when they are ready to be bottled, with the perfect balance and amazing finish.” And Hunt does this with each of the 14 different varieties he works with.

As any wine consumer knows, and as David Hunt routinely says, “Life is too short and you work too hard to drink bad wine.” Has Hunt Cellars become one of the leaders in changing perceptions for high quality wines in Paso Robles? Every one of his high scoring wine says yes!

Find out just how excellent the Hunt portfolio of wines really is. The Hunt Cellars tasting room is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. They are located at 2875 Oakdale Rd. directly off Highway 46 West. Contact them at (805) 237-1600 or

Monday, November 19, 2012

11/19-Michael Horn talks to Joey Tensley and Mike(DeSimone) & Jeff(Jenssen)

Joey Tensley - Tensley Wines
In 1998 Joey Tensley launched Tensley Wines with one hundred cases and one single goal – to make wines that let the unique and little-known vineyards of Santa Barbara County speak for themselves.  Thirteen years later Tensley is a 4,000 case-a-year business with Syrahs in the Wine Spectator's Top 100, a history of high scores with Robert Parker, and a Food and Wine Magazine award for producing the "Top Syrah in America Over $20."

Joey's first experience with wine took place when he was just twelve-years-old and his soccer team toured a winery while taking part in a tournament in Bordeaux. Joey vividly recalls the chill of the old caves and the aromas of wines fermenting in barrel.  From that moment on he knew he wanted to be a winemaker. "Which pretty much made me the only kid in Bakersfield, California, with that particular dream," Joey says. "We all raced go-carts and most of my friends wanted to be race car drivers."

Ten years later, in 1993, Joey got his start in the wine business working as a "cellar rat" for Fess Parker Winery in Santa Barbara County.  After only three years he became the assistant winemaker at Babcock Vineyards.  There Joey came to appreciate the importance of the vineyard and the grower. He also came to appreciate the uniqueness of Santa Barbara County as a growing region. "We're one of the only places in the world with a mountain range that runs east-west.  That gives us a lot of different microclimates."

In 1998 Joey moved on to become the assistant winemaker at Beckmen Vineyards.  There he was offered space to launch his own label. He decided to produce only vineyard designated Syrahs from Santa Barbara County.  He also decided that those Syrahs would all be priced the same and made in the same fashion. He stays true to those methods today.

By 2001 Tensley Wines' original 100 cases had grown to 750 cases, and Joey had moved into his own winery in Buellton, California. Tensley appeared on prestigious wine lists from coast to coast including Manhattan's Gotham Bar and Grill, Chicago's Bin 36, and Picasso in Las Vegas.

Mike and Jeff - World Wine Guys
The southern hemisphere is fast becoming the hottest source of delicious, affordable wine--and this is the first book to focus entirely on this bourgeoning industry. Created by the renowned “World Wine Guys,” Wines of the Southern Hemisphere provides the latest information on the best wineries in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, and Uruguay. In addition, the guide features interviews with top winemakers and recipes to pair with their wines.

Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen, known as the World Wine Guys, are Entertaining and Lifestyle Contributing Editors for Wine Enthusiast magazine. Their work has also appeared in Wine Spectator,,International Living, and The European. The duo has judged the prestigious Concours des Vins wine competition in Chablis, France. In 2010 they were inducted into the Confrerie des Piliers Chablisiens. They are the proud authors of the Port Wine chapter in Kevin Zraly's The Ultimate Wine Companion: The Complete Guide to Understanding Wine by the World's Foremost Wine Authorities and have written the upcoming The Fire Island Cookbook. Mike and Jeff were the first guests to pair wine with food on Martha Stewart's Hallmark Channel show and were featured guests on Martha Stewart Living Radio. Visit their website, worldwineguys,.com to see more, as well as Wine Enthusiast's They reside in New York City and southern Spain.

Monday, November 12, 2012

11/12-Michael Horn visits with Miro Tcholakov & Reynaldo Robledo

Miro Tcholakov - Winemaker - Trentadue

Born and raised in northern Bulgaria, a region with many millennia of wine- making history, Miro (Miroslav) Tcholakov was exposed to wine and winemaking at a very early age. His grandfather had long made the family supply of wine, and as a boy, Miro was at his side during all phases of the process.
After completing his mandatory military service, he attended the Higher Institute of Agriculture in Plovdiv and graduated with honors with a degree in viticulture and enology. Soon there after in the summer of 1990 he was chosen from hundreds of candidates to participate in an international exchange program in Agriculture set up by The Future Farmers of America. After a brief stint in Napa, he was taken on as harvest intern at Sonoma's Dry Creek Vineyards. What was supposed to be a temporary harvest job turned into a nine-year position moving through the ranks of Cellar Master and culminating in being named Assistant Winemaker in 1997.
In the summer of 1999, Miro was hired to be the Winemaker at Trentadue Winery. He came on board just in time to oversee the spectacular 1999 harvest. The wines from his first Vintage as winemaker at Trentadue, received unbelievable quantity of accolades from the professional wine press, including The Sweepstakes winning Zinfandel from the West Coast Wine Competition. During the following vintages Miro's list of accomplishments continues to grow with a consistent 90 and above high scores from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and a pinnacle 92 point score from The Wine Spectator. Our cabinets are filled with over 60 Gold Medals, more than 30 Double Gold and Best of Class and hundreds of Silver Medals! At the end of 2005 Miro was chosen by popular media as one of the top 20 winemakers in America.
In his tenure as Winemaker at Trentadue, Miro has also overseen the introduction of the winery's first ever line of reserve wines, the La Storia brand of ultra-premium table wines. With these particular wines, he is able to put to good use all of his winemaking talent, using only the finest Estate lots from each harvest and expertly blending them to express the pinnacle of the winemaker's art.
We here at Trentadue are very proud of everything Miro has accomplished in so short a time. We hope you enjoy all the delicious fruits of his labor in the name of great wine.

Reynaldo Robledo - Founder Robledo Family Winery
Reynaldo migrated from Michoacan Mexico at the young age of 16 in 1968 in pursuit of a better life for himself and his then girlfriend, Maria Ramirez.  With his incredible fortitude and ambition, he took every opportunity to learn the craft of viticulture and acquire business acumen.  He eventually became one of the most sought after vineyard consultants in Sonoma County.  Reynaldo eventually married Maria and had nine children, all of whom grew up working in the vineyards.  He established two companies that are now operated by six family members.  To this day, Reynaldo enjoys working in the vineyards alongside his children and grandchildren who have inherited the same passion for the industry he fell in love with years ago.

Monday, November 5, 2012

11/5-Michael Horn talks with Pete Seghesio

Pete Seghesio - Seghesio Family Vineyards
Seghesio Family Vineyards produces award-winning Zinfandels and Italian varietals that honor the history of Sonoma and the Seghesio family.

Today, we are proud to passionately produce almost exclusively estate wines, some from those same vineyards Edoardo and Angela first planted in the late 1800s.

Edoardo Seghesio planted his first Zinfandel vineyard in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley in 1895. Since then, four generations of the Seghesio family have tended over 400 acres of vineyards in Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys. True to Edoardo’s vision, Seghesio Family Vineyards produces award-winning Zinfandel and Italian varietals at the hands of Winemaker Ted Seghesio. Guests to the historic Healdsburg winery enjoy daily tastings, weekend wine and food pairings, special events, picnics and bocce.

Peter Work - Ampelos Cellars and Vineyards

ampelos has been a family endeavor from the start. Initially “corporate folks”, we loved getting away to the Sta. Rita Hills on the weekends and dreamt of one day planting our own vineyard and making wines. A cancelled meeting in New York on the morning of September 11, 2001 helped us to realize that someday was today!
we purchased 82 acres in 1999 not knowing that one day it would be part of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation. Our son, Don, came out to help get the vineyard underway and soon our dreams became reality. The first 15 acres were planted in 2001 and in 2005 we expanded with another 10 acres so today we have a total of 25 acres planted.
we moved to the property in January 2002 and spent the first four years learning how to farm the land, pruning the vines, coaxing them onto the trellis, nurturing the soil and preparing for the first harvest. To get a jump start on learning the new trade, we purchased a ton of Pinot Noir and two tons of Syrah in 2002 and started to make our own wine, under the stewardship of son Don. 2004 brought forth the inaugural ampelos vineyard harvest! 15 tons of Pinot Noir and 6 tons of Syrah were picked, and the program of purchasing grapes from warmer regions continued to add to the “spice cabinet”. This was just the beginning of the journey, but we are firm believers in the journey being the destination.

We are driven by a deep love and passion for the art of viticulture. We are truly a small boutique winery producing about 3500 cases a year. Our focus is viognier, rosé of syrah, pinot noir, syrah and grenache.
As for the Greek connection ---- ampelos is the Greek word for “vine”. It was chosen for our winery because we believe that all “great wines start in the vineyard”. We also have close ties to Greece. We were married on a small Greek island, and fell so much in love with the island that we created a small Bed and Breakfast there called Ampelos Resort.