Monday, August 25, 2014



Wes has run the show here at Clos Pepe since 1998.  He manages the vineyard and the crew, Communicates with our producers and fine-tunes viticulture to suit the stylistic needs of their winemaking.  Involving himself in every aspect of the planting, growing, harvest, crush, fermentation, aging, bottling, shipping and marketing (Including the photography and text in the website), Wes is passionate about his life's goal -- producing and celebrating world-class Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  From 1997-98, Wes researched and wrote the petition that established the Santa Rita Hills American Viticultural Area with help from Bryan Babcock, Richard Sanford and other local wine personalities.  The 'Santa Rita Hills AVA' was approved in 2001, and the name was changed a few years later to 'Sta Rita Hills AVA'.  In his quest to promote the wines of Santa Barbara County, and the Santa Rita Hills in particular, Wes created and served as Director of the Santa Barbara County Fair Wine Competition from 2002 until 2004.  As a result of his hard work promoting the region and penning the AVA Petition, Wes was awarded the Central Coast Winegrower's Association 'Grower of the Year Award' for the 2001-2002 growing seasons.

Wes writes a bi-monthly column for WineMaker Magazine called 'Backyard Vines', and has written content for the L.A. Times Magazine, guest blogged for the Wine Spectator and, articles for the Sommelier Journal,'Burgundy-Report', WestCoastWine.Net, and other small publications.  In his free time Wes consults on establihsing small vineyards (hillside Pinot Noir only), and has judged the L.A County Fair Wine Competition for eleven years, Riverside International for twelve, and the Long Beach Grand Cru for thirteen years. Wes also lectures on subjects such as the history of wine, backyard winegrowing, and general topics of viticulture and wine education.


Sharon’s love of wine started when she spent her junior year of college abroad, at the Université de Bordeaux. She was taken under the wing of the wife of the University’s president, which is how she found herself, at age 20, being taken on a personal tour of Chateau Haut Brion, producer of one of the greatest wines in the world. The tour was led by the legendary Monsieur Delmas, who kindly let her taste the renowned 1982 vintage out of the barrel, followed by the 1966. After graduating from college Sharon returned to Bordeaux and lived with the Boutarics, the famed cheese mongers at La Marche des Grands Hommes, while she worked at The St. James, a two-star restaurant, under Jean-Marie Amat, the owner and chef. That moment changed her life and sealed her interest in wine and the Bordeaux region itself. Some years later, after a career in publishing and technology, with a young family in tow, Sharon applied and was accepted to the prestigious DUAD program (the Diplome Universitaire d’Aptitude a la Degustation des Vins) offered through the Université de Bordeaux’s Oenology department. The DUAD is an intensive yearlong program that takes four years of oenology and condenses it into one compacted year: it is a technical oenology degree program taught in French. Several years later Sharon returned to the States and moved to Napa Valley. Today Sharon is one of only two women working as vintners in the Napa Valley who hold the DUAD degree. Sharon keeps her links to Bordeaux very present, maintaining a second home in Bordeaux today. As she works on the RARECAT wines, her passion extends to empowering women through wine and supporting women in the wine industry. Several years ago she formed an unusual ‘trade’ group called Wine Entre Femmes, comprised of female vintners from Napa and Bordeaux. In 2012 she established A Woman's Palate, a company that celebrates wines by women for women. “I am lucky; I am living my passion,” Sharon says.


Monday, August 18, 2014



Executive director responsibilities include organizational management and growth of the Auction of Washington Wines (AWW), including leadership, strategic planning, fundraising and donor development.

Aimee brings more than twenty years of non-profit leadership to this role, previously raising financial support for organizations such as Boys & Girls Clubs, The Salvation Army and PAWS. During her tenure with these organizations, she was not only charged with strategic planning, organizational development, team dynamics and capacity building; Aimee also facilitated major events such as the PAWS Wild Night gala and auction, which set fundraising records year after year, and a million dollar gala and 1500 person breakfast for Boys & Girls Clubs.

A native of Eastern Washington, Aimee was raised in a family of farmers, giving her an agricultural savvy that will provide depth when interfacing with the vineyards. In her down time, Aimee spends time at home with her husband and their children, dogs and cat.



Before joining Southern Wine and Spirits of California in early 1989, Mr. Shon, who is now Executive Vice President, General Manager of Southern Wine and Spirits of Hawaii, spent more than a decade in the restaurant business. Born and raised in Honolulu, Mr. Shon graduated from University of Hawaii at Manoa with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Starting as a busboy, Mr. Shon gradually rose through the ranks of a Honolulu-based restaurant where he worked, ending up as an assistant manager. During this period, Mr. Shon “I picked up every book and magazine to educate about food and wine.”  Mr. Shon also says he took a number of wine appreciation classes offered by the restaurant’s management. Today, Mr. Shon says, “The passion I have for this business all started with my restaurant work.”

Continuing his story, Mr. Shon recalls, “In the late 1980’s, the restaurant’s owners, for whom he worked, decided to open a new restaurant in Newport Beach, California, and they asked me to move there and work as the assistant manager there.” In California, Mr. Shon says part of his responsibilities included the restaurant’s beverage program, where he acted as the buyer.

Not surprisingly, it wasn’t long before Mr. Shon’s passion and buying talents came to the attention of Southern Wine and Spirits of California sales executives, one of whom subsequently arranged for Mr. Shon to meet Jim Allen, then General Manager of Wine for the Southern California division of Southern Wine and Spirits of California.

By the end of the interview, Mr. Shon recalls, Jim Allen offered him a position, and Mr. Shon joined shortly thereafter as an On-Premise Salesman for the Southern California division of Southern Wine and Spirits of California. Mr. Shon worked the Laguna Beach territory; after about a year in this position, he was nominated for “Salesman of the Year” award for the Southern California sales division. Then, in early 1990, Mr. Shon was promoted to Division Wine Manager-On-Premise in Southern California for Orange County.
In 1992, Mr. Shon was promoted to Division Manager in the Orange County territory for Wine and Spirits, which included management of all beverage categories, in the Southern Wine and Spirits of California portfolio. Mr. Shon served in that position until 1996, when he was tapped to return to Hawaii as General Manager of the newly launched Southern Wine and Spirits of Hawaii operation. Then, in January 2001, Mr. Shon was appointed to his present position, serving as Executive Vice President, General Manager of Southern Wine and Spirits of Hawaii.

Mr. Shon is quick to credit all the Company’s employees, sales staff and operational support staff for making the operation function as successfully as it has. Summing up this ongoing effort to exceed both the customer and the supplier’s expectations, Mr. Shon says, “Everything we do is built around the team concept; it is no exaggeration to say that every department here has a positive working relationship with everyone else.”
Mr. Shon is quick to emphasize this team spirit is no accident. It comes from the very top, from the Company’s senior management in Miami. Mr. Shon says that anywhere you look in the Southern organization, “Employees are treated with respect; we reward them for their accomplishments, and we’re never afraid to pat them on the back for a job well done.”

For the future, Mr. Shon is determined on further cultivating The Company’s super-premium wine and spirits brands, particularly in the on-premise arena given the high level of tourism in the state. Mr. Shon is also very proud of the Company’s deepening involvement in a wide range of community and local affairs – from contributing to local colleges and universities to charitable support, including Hawaii Food Bank, The Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific and The Lupus Foundation, among numerous others, to getting involved with the state’s restaurant association on shared concerns about selected public policy issues. In addition, The Company is deeply committed to and involved with supporting the state’s hospitality and tourist industries.

Summing up, Mr. Shon says“ The relationship we have with Southern Wine and Spirits of California and with Southern Wine and Spirits of America gives us a distinct advantage here in Hawaii. They are always ready to help us – from providing technological support to furnishing needed products on short notice. It’s very refreshing and it really helps us every day. Overall, their support is inspiring.”

In two years, Ka‘anapali Fresh has become ‘the most blogged about’ culinary destination event on Maui. Produced and hosted by Ka‘anapali Beach Resort Association, (whose members include resort hotels and condominiums, world-class golf courses, shopping centers, restaurants and ocean activity providers) the three-day festival features Maui-inspired cuisine paired with local farms and international wines and spirits.

It’s our credo that good food brings people together no matter where they’re from … We invite you August 29 – 31, 2014 to explore the bounty of the island with dishes creatively prepared by our resort chefs as well as celebrity chefs from Hawai‘i. Discover new ways to build cocktails with fresh ingredients, explore a Maui farm, and experience authentic Hawaiian culture.

Along the way, indulge in the beauty of Hawai‘i’s legendary master-planned resort at Ka‘anapali: stroll on America’s Best Beach, frolic with marine life in the clear blue sea or simply enjoy the warm sun and lush landscape.


Monday, August 11, 2014



As a 14-year-old girl growing up in Colombia, the thought of making wine seemed to be an impossible dream. At age 16, I was determined to prove otherwise.

I attempted to make my first wine, in a 5-gallon glass jar, in my bedroom closet without much success. Nevertheless, the experiment marked the beginning of my career as a winemaker.

With literally no more than a backpack and lots of expectations, I went to France to learn about wine. After five years of total immersion in all things French, I obtained a degree in Viticulture, a DNO of Enology (Diplôme National d'Œnologue) from Bordeaux and the experience of five harvests.

Learning in France was an indescribable experience: very inspirational with numerous gratifying outcomes. I worked in Côte-Rôtie (Domaine M & S Ogier D'Ampuis, Domaine Clusel-Roch), Alsace (Domaine du Scheidecker), Burgundy (Domaine Du Devevey), Cognac (Lycée Agricole de L'Oisellerie) and Bordeaux (Château Haut-Brion, Château La Mission Haut-Brion, Château La Dominique). I learned to prepare soils for planting, select the best vines from old heritage vineyards, prune and take care of the vines, and follow their growth to produce only premium grapes for wine. Working with the best producers, I learned how to transform this precious fruit from the earth into wine, handcrafted with my own expertise and artistic interpretation.

While working in the Russian River Valley in 2004, I fell in love with Sonoma County. From there, I started traveling the globe; working harvests in South Africa at Saronsberg Cellars, California and France. Doing two harvests per year over three consecutive years was exhausting and challenging. But the learning experience was priceless. In California I worked at La Crema, Peay Vineyards, Au Bon Climat, Qupe and Lynmar Estate, where I was the winemaker from 2009 through the spring of 2012.

At the beginning of 2012, I formed my own consulting business for the wine industry: RAVE Vines & Wines.


Ten Acre really is a place. It is the amazing land where we live in the Russian River. Slowly, we have added vines row by row, clone by clone, to create our dream… We are so lucky! Our vines are now producing small amounts of grapes and we made our first wines in 2010. In addition to the grapes from our own land, we have developed exciting new relationships with growers from amazing sites, such as the Stephens, Cummings, and Jenkins vineyards. These vineyards have become synonymous with winegrowing excellence, and their coveted grapes are the foundation for Ten Acre. We are dedicated to producing cool-climate pinot noir and chardonnay from some of the most renowned vineyards in the Russian River Valley. As a winery, we work in small lots, with a focus on discovering the personality and distinctive flavors of these great sites. Flavorful, balanced, intense—we strive to let the vineyard personality burst through the wine. We are small by design; each wine is hand crafted, barrel-by-barrel.

The talented Michael Zardo heads up winemaking at Ten Acre. Zardo (which is what everyone calls him) brings unbelievable passion and expertise to his role crafting our pinot noirs and chardonnays. Before joining Ten Acre, he spent seven years honing his craft as the assistant winemaker at the highly esteemed Pisoni Vineyards & Winery, where he developed a specialization working with exceptional quality, cool-climate pinot noir.

“Ten Acre is dedicated to discovering the personality and flavors of special vineyards,” says Zardo. “As a winemaker, I share that respect for the natural character of great sites. All the properties we work with are unique, and offer a wonderfully diverse spectrum of flavors. I strive to showcase this in my winemaking in an honest and authentic way.”
Prior to his tenure at Pisoni, Zardo worked at the pinot noir and chardonnay-focused Bernardus Winery. He also spent two winemaking seasons in New Zealand (another hotbed for cool-climate pinot noir), where he was able to gain a more global understanding of viticulture and enology.

Zardo earned his degree in enology from Fresno State University. In keeping with his belief in an authentic, vineyard-inspired approach to crafting pinot noir and chardonnay, Zardo's focuses on environmentally conscious techniques, with little-or-no outside manipulation.


Monday, August 4, 2014



The love of farming and a passion for wine brought Tony Peju to the Napa Valley. A series of ideas - starting in his birthplace on the Caspian Sea, then France, England and eventually, Los Angeles -- created the Peju's Napa Valley winery. In 1982, Tony and his wife Herta purchased 30 acres of land in the Napa Valley with the magic ingredient - location. Neighboring vineyards in Rutherford included Robert Mondavi, Inglenook and Beaulieu. Situated between Highway 29 and the Napa River, the acreage included a 1900-era house and rambling vineyards, some 60 or more years old. Looking to the future, Tony and Herta have introduced their two daughters, Lisa and Ariana, to the workings of the wine business. Both of the young women are immersing themselves in all aspects of Peju Winery.

There's no such thing as a typical day for Lisa Peju.
The oldest daughter of Peju co-founders Tony and HB Peju is always on the go, sometimes traveling to three different states during a week's time to represent Peju Family Estates Wines at winemaker dinners, trade and consumer events and meet with retailers.

You may recognize Lisa from her popular ads that run in the San Francisco Chronicle and various other wine country publications. Lisa's passion and love for her family's business shines through in every photo.

The Peju's Rutherford vineyard has been home to Lisa since she was six years old. It was then that she moved with her parents from Southern California to wine country to begin a life devoted to growing grapes, producing high-quality wines and finding new and innovative ways to market the family brand.

Lisa spent her childhood attending Napa Valley schools during the day and tending to the vineyard in the evenings and on weekends. It wasn't uncommon to see Lisa and her sister Ariana driving the family four-wheeler along the property's dirt paths with piles of grapes in the back bed.

After graduating from St. Helena High School, Lisa first attended Marymount College in Palos Verdes and then U.C. Santa Barbara to study marketing and graphic design with plans of becoming a computer animator. But a summer trip to Paris in 1999 to study French at Sorbonne University with Ariana planted the seeds for another calling. Three years later, the French language came in handy as HB took her daughters to VIN EXPO in Bordeaux, the largest wine Exposition in the World. Lisa enjoyed promoting Peju's wines so much that she decided to change career paths and join the family business as a marketing and public relations ambassador.

The position was a perfect fit, and it meant that Lisa would play an integral role in carrying on the family tradition of producing award-winning wines into the future.

Since joining Peju in 2001, Lisa has traveled throughout Europe and Asia, including Japan, Korea and Hong Kong, representing Peju. In the United States, Lisa has blanketed the map and led the charge to reach younger customers. Peju's consumers of the future.

From beyond the Napa Valley, Lisa brings Peju wines to homes and businesses across the world.



It is difficult to make Pinot Noir inexpensively, especially if your goal is world-class Pinot Noir. It is capital-intensive, the horizons are long and the results can be unpredictable. We knew that going in. Our vision for CIRQ first took shape several years ago when we discovered what we consider to be the best sites in the best region for Pinot Noir, the Russian River Valley. We made the commitment at that time to pour all our resources into developing these sites.

We bring a high level of focus to the task. We farm two estate vineyards and will produce a single estate Pinot Noir from each. Production will be extremely limited for the simple reason that CIRQ is an estate-driven program. We’ve done this with one goal in mind: to provide enthusiasts with wines of uncommon breeding that delight their senses and connect them to these special places.

As a youth Michael Browne spent several summers performing in a youth circus in his hometown of Wenatchee, WA. He walked the high wire, he was a catcher on the trapeze, he juggled, ate fire and lived the life our mothers warned us about.

Not every show went as planned and one night, while performing the “Human Volcano,” the wind shifted direction and he was badly burned. You’d think this would have ended his circus career but no, it only strengthened his resolve. He went back the next summer and mastered the stunt. And along the way he learned a lesson that would serve him as a winemaker: that practice, hard work, risk-taking and really good balance pay off in the end. It is from this experience that the name for CIRQ was drawn.

While growing and making wine has turned out to be Michael’s calling, his passion is his family -- his wife, Sarah, and their children Logan, Lauren and Lyvia. Still, he retains a bit of the ringmaster, always trying to leave his guests and customers wanting more.