Tuesday, January 28, 2014

1/27-Micahel Horn & Nicole Nielsen visit with Elliott Dolin and Michael Baldacci

Elliott Dolin - Proprietor, Dolin Malibu Estate Vineyards
In addition to making Malibu wine, you might also be interested to hear that he is a former musician who’s played with legends like Willy Nelson, Johnny Cash, and the Everly Brothers.

There’s an ethereal halo of positivity surrounding Elliott Dolin that immediately sets one at ease. It’s clear that this energy has fueled much of his journey through life and spurred a silent accord with destiny. He works hard and stays true to himself and, in return, fate has guided him through the successful pursuit of his passions. Elliott often says, “Action breeds action,” a celestial phrase that is evident in the various aspects of his life.

Born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Northern New Jersey, Elliott spent much of his childhood in and around metropolitan Manhattan. Most Saturdays and summer school vacations found him working at his father’s electronics store in Lower Manhattan, an hour’s train ride from home. By the age of 13, Elliott had developed a passion for the music of The Beach Boys, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and like many of his peers, he dreamed of playing in a band. Recognizing the cultural “it” status of the guitar, he “picked up” the electric bass guitar to round out the lineup in a fledgling local band. His weekly excursions to work in Manhattan provided the opportunity to make regular pilgrimages to window shop for the latest Fender bass guitars and amps at the array of music stores that lined West 48th St., fueling his desire to save up and purchase his own. Ultimately, he was able to invest his savings and purchase his first electric bass guitar from one the music shops on West 48th St.
Elliott’s passion for music led him to develop his talent to the point where he was getting hired for paid working gigs. He actively sought out varied and diverse opportunities to hone his skills and develop connections. He played college “mixers,” he played “society gigs” (weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, etc), he played in the house orchestra at a hotel in New York’s famed Catskill Mountains and he got his chance to rock at Manhattan’s Wagon Wheel on 45th Street and the world-famous Metropole Café  in Times Square. In the early 1970’s, he played bass for the original Manhattan Transfer prior to their signing with Columbia Records and recording their first album. After a stint with a Jersey Shore band by the name of “Lazarus,” Elliott was also approached to join the band of then-unknown local musician Bruce Springsteen. Instead, he opted for an opportunity to volunteer to go to Israel for six months during the Yom Kippur War, harvesting grapefruit to fill in for army reservists who were in the battlefield. In retrospect, he considers this a fortunate choice because, as he says, “I have no regrets. Where else would I want to be but where I am right now?”

When Elliott returned to the U.S. in 1974, he sought a change of pace from the urban lifestyle of Manhattan. He packed up his red Peugeot and drove to Nashville, which had become “the” scene for music and a place to actually make a living playing music. There, Elliott spent several years on tour as the band leader and bassist for Grammy-award winning country music artist Donna Fargo, and he later played with legends like Ray Price and Brenda Lee. His most memorable experience was working as a staff musician for Country Music Hall of Fame producer Jack Clement, often getting to jam with legends such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and the Everly Brothers. While working with Clement, a partnership with CBS Records of Sweden ensued, giving Elliott the opportunity to work in Sweden for six months as staff musician at the legendary recording studio where the first Abba hits were recorded. During this time, he had the opportunity to play on multiple albums recorded by Sweden’s top artists and played live performances in 31 cities throughout the country. The gig was great money—all expenses paid.

Elliott’s success working in Nashville and Sweden enabled him to save enough money to invest in two duplexes. His first was bought with the intention of renting out half the property, knowing it would cover much of his mortgage and help to offset the unpredictability of life as a musician. By the time he purchased the second he had caught the real estate bug, a passion that would soon develop into a career.
In 1983, he decided to finally move to California, a place where he had dreamed of living since he first practiced the bass lines to “Little Deuce Coupe” as a teenager.  Though he would have liked to have continued his musical career in Los Angeles, he had arrived during an era when many top recording musicians were lacking work, and several top studio players had migrated to Nashville where opportunities were greater. Accepting of his circumstances, Elliott looked to the future. He attained his real estate license and studied real estate investment analysis at UCLA.

After obtaining his real estate sales license, he secured a position with an up-and-coming commercial real estate brokerage firm that focused on apartment properties. Choosing a specific market area, while others were at the beach, Elliott spent sunny summer weekends in the heat of the city, taking photos of every apartment building in his Mid-Wilshire market area, and he compiled copious records of apartment building transactions and ownership data. He quickly realized that many buildings were owned by an investor named David J. Hager, whom Elliott was able to reach on a “cold call.” They quickly established a positive working relationship and, after a few forays into the market, they partnered to purchase a house on the coast of Malibu. The deal was successful, and together they started their company Pacific Prime Properties. It thrived, and has since held interest in several million square feet of industrial, medical office and retail space throughout Southern California and Texas.

Elliott met his wife Lynn, a child psychologist, in 1991.  She was the mother of two young boys, ages 3 and 9, and was in the midst of a divorce. Even so, a mutual friend was convinced that they were destined to be together, and arranged a meeting. On their first blind date Lynn recalls thinking that Elliott must have been a rock star—sporting a pony tail, leather pants and driving a Ferrari. And for Elliott, it was love at first sight. Within ten days they were vacationing together on a beach in Hawaii, and the two soul mates finally married at their Malibu estate in 2005.

Their life together has truly been a joy ride. Together they have pursued a passion for restoring vintage cars, collecting several stunning vehicles over the years including a 1953 Siata 208S Spider, a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL “Gull Wing,” a 1947 Delahaye 135M Cabriolet, a 1930 Cadillac V-16, a 1957 Ferrari 250 GT and a 1963 Corvette “split-window” Coupe. They have displayed their automobiles at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, winning class awards each time, including a coveted “1st in Class” in 2008. They have participated in numerous road touring events as well. On competing in Italy’s world renown Mille Miglia, Elliott asserts, “The application process and getting your vehicle accepted into the event can be quite difficult. Cars that may enter must be no newer than 1957 and, preferably, have participated in the original Mille Miglia that took place from 1927 to 1957.  Once accepted as a participant, the cost and red tape of transporting a car to and from Italy is prohibitive. The event can also be dangerous. But driving through medieval villages in a caravan of rare and exotic vintage sports cars, with crowds lining the streets and cheering you on, is an experience of a lifetime!”

Much like the winding roads of the Mille Miglia, Elliott’s life has been unpredictable, characterized by twists and turns, but always guided by purpose and the desire to execute at the highest level. It should be no surprise then that in 2006, while Elliott and Lynn were restoring their recently purchased Malibu home, he recognized the opportunity to indulge his passion for wine and grow Chardonnay vines. “The idea to grow grapes came to me, like a light bulb went off in my head,” he says. “It just made sense.”

DOLIN MALIBU ESTATE VINEYARDS: CATCHING CALIFORNIA’S NEXT WINE WAVE - Inspired by a backyard Chardonnay vineyard Elliott and Lynn Dolin planted behind their Malibu home in 2006, Dolin Malibu Estate Vineyards has quickly emerged as one of the leading producers in the burgeoning Malibu Coast, a region poised to attain AVA in early 2014. Following the release of just three vintages of Chardonnay ($39), the winery already has plans to expand its Malibu production to include several more wines from the region, and it will further broaden its scope by the middle of 2014 with the release of a new line of Central Coast Pinot Noir wines from such highly regarded vineyards as Talley ‘Rincon,’ Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills.

As a member of Tom Baldacci's four sons, Michael's passion for his father's legacy is a manifestation of how special a family-owned winery truly is. Michael is a resident of the winery so you can count on hearing his exuberant laugh around the winery either in the tasting room or keeping a watchful eye on the grapes and aging wine barrels.

Exceptional quality wine all begins with a passion. “My passion is one rooted in family,” Michael says, “a passion to produce honest wines that best embody my family’s love for great wine and the unique estate vineyards that Baldacci represents.”

Though he was born and raised in the Bay Area, Michael Baldacci spent many days as a young boy walking his family’s vineyards. Struck early on by the delicacy with which man and nature must work together to make beautiful wines, Michael returned to Napa Valley as an adult to become part of the team at Baldacci Family Vineyards. New to the business but a veteran of the land, Michael took on a managerial role at the winery after four years of undergraduate study in Los Angeles with the same goal his father had had nearly twelve years before: to make wines that represent the character of the land, the grapes, and the family Baldacci represents.

A boutique winery with their first vintage dating 2000, Baldacci Family Vineyards focuses strictly on single-vineyard, estate-grown wines. Our total acreage includes the original 17-acre estate in the heart of the Stags Leap District, as well as a 20-acre property in Carneros. Our newest addition to the estate in 2013 was an additional 8.5-acre property in Calistoga, a warmer micro-climate of Napa Valley whose lush fruit perfectly compliments the Cabernet Sauvignon from Stags Leap. Total production approaches 6,000 total cases each year, nearly all of which are single-vineyard, single-varietal wines expressing their respective terroirs.

Michael can be found all around the winery, from the cellar to the tasting room, behind a desk or in the vineyards he first walked as a child.

“The Stags Leap District is an iconic area of Napa,” he believes, “and our family’s wines strive to show each and every consumer why it is truly the best area in the world to grow world class Cabernet.”

Join us for a Culinary Evening with the California Winemasters & the Stags Leap District Winegrowers! To celebrate their 25th year we've put together one of our finest 'kick-off' dinners to date!  Won't you join us?!

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2014 ~ 6:30pm
Tickets - $185 Per Person  ($105 is tax deductible)
Cabana Room at Island Hotel Newport Beach
690 Newport Center Drive, Newport  Beach, CA 92660

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

1/20-Michael Horn & Nicole Nielsen talk with Wes Hagen

Wes Hagen  -  Winemaker, Clos Pepe Vineyards
Clos Pepe Vineyard was purchased by Steve and Cathy Pepe in 1994 as a horse ranch, and established the 9th vineyard in what would become the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. Specializing in cool-climate, small production, craft-based Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Clos Pepe is now recognized as a leader in local and national wine culture, wine education and providing fruit to some of the best winemakers in California.
The Italians say, ‘Il vino e' la Poesia della Terra.’  Wine is the poetry of the earth.  There is nothing that can obfuscate Pinot Noir’s ability to speak of a time and place.  Of every plant on earth, Pinot Noir is unique in its ability to show every angle of a vintage, every silt particle in the soil, and every drop of morning dew that wet its leaves. Tea, coffee, white truffles—these can tell a story and confound us with their deliciousness, but the uncontested Queen of Natural Complexity must be Pinot Noir. We anticipate each vintage with a proper mix of anxiety and hope, knowing Mother Nature and the Sta. Rita Hills have a plan that will allow time and effort to fill a glass.
The Santa Rita Hills produce many styles of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay — wines that will excite every palate and match with almost any food.
The Chardonnays are naturally lean, mineral-laden and racy, but with more winemaking influence can exhibit richness and roundness: new oak, malolactic treatment, extended barrel aging. When young, the wines have austere structure and bright apple fruit with hints of tropical fruit and peach. Clos Pepe Chardonnay is crafted for both early enjoyment as well as cellaring for a decade or more. As the wines age they gain a hazelnut and mineral complexity, quite similar to Premier Cru Chablis and White Burgundy from great vintages. Try young Clos Pepe Chardonnays with oysters, fried chicken or barbecue. Older vintages can be enjoyed with sand dabs in a lemon cream sauce, firm cheeses, cream-based soups, or any kind of delicate seafood preparation. Clos Pepe Chardonnay seems to like 3-5 years from vintage date to fully integrate, and can last up to 10-12 years for those that appreciate full maturity and a bit of oxidative aromas and flavor.
Pinot Noirs from Clos Pepe can range from delicate and earthy to dense, purple, full-bodied Pinots that are among the darkest and richest on the planet. The Pinot Noirs from Clos Pepe also age wonderfully, but can also be drunk early in their life. Rich, dark vintages like 2002, 2003 and 2010 hold their baby-fat (primary fruit and richness) for 5-7 years and then begin mellowing slowly. Restrained, balanced wines like 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011 age very similarly to Premier or even Grand Cru red Burgundy — being primary and juicy from release to 5-7 years old, and then slowly unfoldingwith minerality and aromas of dried flowers and earthy forest floor for another 5 years. Young Clos Pepe Pinot Noirs match beautifully with strong cheeses, duck confit, pork loin, lean steaks, venison with reduction, or almost anything that you can put on a plate. As the wine matures and loses some baby fat, try more delicate dishes and add Morel or Chanterelle mushrooms. A fully mature Clos Pepe Pinot Noir matches very well with simple presentations of salmon, game (especially quail and pheasant), and other light dishes that will not dominate the wine's delicate complexity.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

1/13-Michael Horn & Nicole Nielsen talk with Nate Weis & Mitch Cosentino

Mitch Weis - Winemaker, Aril Wines
We are very proud of our initial effort in winemaking. both of our wines scored in the 90's for the 2008 vintage. The Wine Spectator said "Atlas Peak's reputation for Syrah can only grow as a result of this wine." The Wine Enthusiast stated that the wine "displays a rustic earth minerality along with the supple plum and black cherry fruit and is complex and layered, turning delicate despite its structured earthiness."
Our winemaker, Nate Weis, notes that the 2008 Atlas Peak Syrah is a big wine with a rich body framed by ample lively acidity. The color is deep purple and on the nose there is spice and fruit, with black pepper and brambly black cherry aromas accented by toasty oak. The 2008 Estate wine is softer and more delicate than its burly cousin. The body is light and soft with medium weight. The acidity on the palate draws the wine into focus and dominates the long finish.
This year we will produce two new wines. 2012 will be the first vintage of our estate cabernet and we are looking forward to another great cabernet wine from grapes grown on Pritchard Hill. The other wine is a syrah rose. Last year we produced 25 bottles for our own cellar. It has the characteristics of a true French rose and we were so pleased with it that we are producing it commercially this year.

Cosentino began making wine in small lots in Modesto, California in 1980. Ten years later he moved the Cosentino Winery operation to the Napa Valley, where he continued to make many award-winning varietal and blended wines.
Cosentino has a gift for identifying fruit sources and is highly skilled and artistic in determining blends. He’s a big believer in the hands-on, old world use of punched cap fermentation, a labor-intensive, hand-crafted method of winemaking. When it comes to the small lots Cosentino puts into his pureCru blends, this "micro" approach to winemaking allows him to better control the delicate process from the vineyard to the bottle.
He has appearances in Florida next week:
DATE             DAY   ID        LOCATION              TIME
1/18/2014        SAT     913      913-St. Petersburg      2:00PM-6:00PM
1/19/2014        SUN    901      901-Tampa                  1:00PM-5:00PM
1/20/2014        MON   910      910-Clearwater           4:00PM-6:00PM
1/22/2014        WED   920      920- Millenia               4:00PM-6:00PM
1/23/2014        THU    909      909-Orlando                4:00PM-6:00PM

1/6-Micheal Horn & Nicole Nielsen visit with Laura Mohseni & David Duncan

Laura Booras Mohseni - GM, Riverbench Vineyard
Riverbench Vineyard was established in 1973, when its first Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes were planted on the property. For years since then, some of the most renowned wineries in Santa Barbara County have purchased our fruit for their own wines. Over time Riverbench has become a prominent name for high quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the Santa Maria Valley.
In 2004, a group of local families purchased the property. Wine drinkers themselves, the owners quickly became enamored with the wine industry and decided to start producing their own wine label using small quantities of their exceptional fruit. Riverbench Winery was born.
The first vintage included both Estate and Reserve versions of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Since then, our portfolio has increased to include new interpretations of these noble varietals. All Riverbench wines are made in limited quantities, and many are available exclusively through our tasting room.
ABOUT Laura Mohseni:  General Manager, a transplant from the Carolinas, has been in the Santa Barbara County wine business since 2004. Raised in a family dedicated to wine importing, distributing, and sales, Laura was attracted to the wine industry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and after graduating moved directly to Santa Ynez. Through many years of exploring foods from all parts of the world, Laura has developed an expertise in pairing food and wine. A substantial retail background and experience in the local wine business led her to Riverbench.

Born in Durango, Colorado, David Duncan spent his teenage summers working on a farm and cattle ranch. His experience driving the swather and the baler and riding and roping cows imbued him with a respect for agriculture, a strong work ethic and a Western sensibility that is evident to
this day. David also grew up hearing and learning about wine, since his father, Ray Duncan, was co-owner with Justin Meyer of Silver Oak Cellars in California. David has fond memories of visiting Napa in the late 1970’s and 80’s while the Oakville winery was being developed and driving through the vineyards with Justin in his brown El Camino.
David always knew he wanted to work in the family business, and after graduating from University of Notre Dame with an English degree in 1988, he began his career at Denver-based Duncan Oil, Inc, his family’s oil and gas exploration business. He spent the next several years there, eventually going to night school to earn his MBA from the University of Denver in 1994. For his last four credit hours David built a financial model for Silver Oak Cellars.
 The project was David’s first work experience with the winery, and from that point forward he was involved in the broader family business, including Silver Oak. In the 1990’s as he moved from
Exploration Manager to President of Duncan Oil, David also consulted with his father on employee and strategic matters at Silver Oak. When the winery’s longtime general manager announced his retirement in 2002, Ray asked David if he wanted to move to Napa to run the family’s wine business. Although it was an unexpected path – David’s wife Kary was serving as Assistant Chief of Medicine at the University of Colorado – it took the couple less than 24 hours to say yes.
 In addition to his duties at Silver Oak Cellars, David was instrumental in the development of the Duncan family’s brand, Twomey Cellars. Founded in 1999, Twomey was created with the idea of producing a Napa Valley Merlot with the depth and concentration that characterize Merlots of true distinction. With his entrepreneurial spirit and focus on winemaking excellence established at Silver Oak, David oversaw the acquisition of the Calistoga winery that houses Twomey Cellars Merlot, as well as the winery in Healdsburg where Twomey produces Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.
 Today, David works closely with his father and his brother, Tim Duncan, adhering to the principle of continuous improvement and the high standards of quality that Justin and Ray established in the beginning. He sets a straightforward, down to earth tone at the wineries, empowering his employees to work hard and always do their best. “We have a great history but we will never rest on our laurels,” he says. “We care deeply about what goes in the bottle, and strive to make each wine excellent.”
 After a fire at the Oakville winery in 2006, David recognized a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Working with his family, winemaking team, and hospitality staff, David led the project to rebuild the winery, using his family’s 35 years of experience in the business to create a space ideally suited to producing Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and providing memorable hospitality for their visitors. The new winery opened in September of 2008. 
David remains in the oil business as CEO of Duncan Oil. He serves as an active Board Member of First Western Trust Bank, based in Colorado. He is past Chapter Chairman and member of the Northern California Chapter of the Young Presidents Organization. David is also involved in the community serving as Chairman of the Board of the St. Helena Hospital Foundation, Co-Chair of the Capital campaign for the Saint Helena Montessori School and has been active in the efforts of the Napa Valley Vintners.
David lives in St. Helena with his wife Kary, who owns a dermatological practice, and their three children.