Monday, August 31, 2015



Jeff was committed to promoting the Santa Maria Valley; a place he considered home and cared about deeply. By offering a Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc under the J. Wilkes imprimatur of quality, we hope to introduce a new generation of wine drinkers to wines of typicity from a venerated appellation.

We hope these wines serve not only as ambassadors of an iconic growing region, but also as an introduction to three varietals that merit much pursuit and discovery.

The J. Wilkes brand was established in 2001 by Jefferson Wilkes, a widely respected wine industry veteran who loved the community of Santa Maria and sailing the Pacific Coast.  Since Jeff’s passing, the J. Wilkes brand has carried forth with a simple mission: to deliver wines of varietal character, at affordable prices, that highlight the virtues of the Santa Maria Valley appellation.



A leading wine educator, international wine judge, wine writer, and sommelier, Robin Kelley O’Connor joined Italian Wine Merchants (IWM), and its dynamic team where he has been adding his thirty years of experience, authority and passion to seminars, dinner events, sales, offerings and wine education. IWM is the leading purveyor of fine Italian wines in the country, as well as a specialist in providing great, rare and collectable wines of Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne, California and Rioja In his role at IWM, he has the occasion to offer an unparalleled spectrum of wine and collector services such as cellar management, IWM’s proprietary online wine cellar tracking tool, wine appraisal and consignment assistance--and more.

He was Head of Wine & Lead Specialist, Americas, for Christie’s Auction House. In his role at Christie’s, Robin was responsible for wine auctions and private sales of fine and rare wines for the Americas, and had the role as the department's lead business-getter in securing consignments for sale.  Mr. O’Connor is a Christie’s trained charity auctioneer. Prior to Christie’s, he was Director of Sales and Education for Manhattan wine and spirits retailer Sherry-Lehmann, winner of Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s 2010 Wine Retailer of the Year Award.  Preceding Sherry-Lehmann, he was Trade Liaison and director of trade and consumer education in the Americas for the Bordeaux Wine Bureau (Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux) for 20 years. As a Bordeaux International Educator he remains very active in teaching Bordeaux.

A native of Maryland, Mr. O’Connor began studying wine while still a student at the University of Maryland. He started his wine career in London as sommelier at Le Chateaubriand Restaurant in the prestigious May Fair Hotel and went on to earn a diploma from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (DWS). He holds Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) and Certified Wine Educator (CWE) certifications from the Society of Wine Educators and passed the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Certified Sommelier exam. As a popular wine educator and spokesperson, he has conducted over 2500 seminars around the world on a variety of topics within the world of wine. He has written for the Trenton Times, Santé Magazine, Wine & Spirit Magazine and was senior editor for Kevin Zraly’s Windows on the World Complete Wine Course 25th Anniversary Edition. For over a year during 2008-2009 he traveled around the world with Kevin visiting over 20 Countries, 80 wine regions, and 500 appellations and tasted more than 7,000 wines.

O'Connor served as president of the Society of Wine Educators from 2003-2007, is on the board of directors of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Wine & Food, and has been a regular panelist at the Food and Wine Magazine Classic in Aspen for 20 years. He has put his palate to test as an International Wine Judge in Australia, Chile, France, and Italy. For many years he judged at the prestigious Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition; San Francisco International Wine Competition and The Dallas Morning News Competition among countless others. For the past 16 years he has been a frequent lecturer on Crystal Cruises sharing his passion about wine and food. For the last four years he has been coaching DeVinimus-Columbia University Law School Wine Club competition team for international contests. In addition he is a regular lecturer at the International Culinary Center (formerly known as the French Culinary Institute). Among his many professional honors, Mr. O’Connor bears the distinction of having been inducted into the wine world’s most prestigious institutions, including the Commanderie du Bontemps de Médoc- des Graves et de Sauternes-Barsac, the Jurade de Saint-Emilion and Les Hospitaliers de Pomerol.


Monday, August 24, 2015


GARY PISONI – PISONI VINEYARDS                                                  

A special place, Pisoni Vineyards expresses the land and climate of the Santa Lucia Highlands and the spirit of the Pisoni Family. The site is a source of exceptional Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah.

First planted by Gary Pisoni in 1982, Pisoni Vineyards consists of small vineyard blocks arranged on and around the ridges of the mountainous landscape. Ranging in size from one-half to seventeen acres, the vineyard blocks perch at an altitude of 1,300 feet in the granite-laced mountains of the coastal Santa Lucia Range.

Inspired by the Burgundy tradition of having several wineries source fruit from the same vineyard, Gary Pisoni has formed relationships with some of the most prestigious Pinot Noir producers in California. With agreements based on handshake alone, these wineries are guaranteed specific rows and blocks each year. They purchase grapes at a per-acre price rather than a per-ton price, which maintains the focus on quality and not yields.

In addition to supplying fruit to artisan producers of vineyard-designated wines, the Pisoni Family retains a portion of the vineyard for the production of Pisoni Estate wine.

Vineyard management is meticulous. Under Mark Pisoni's leadership, a long-time permanent crew of 18 skilled individuals perform all the work by hand. Every decision implements sustainable farming practices and long-term considerations. This commitment, combined with the rocky soils and cold Monterey Bay weather, produce serious and compelling wines.

In 1952 Jane and Eddie Pisoni began farming vegetables in the fertile Salinas Valley. A celery-crop profit in 1979 provided the down payment for the Santa Lucia Highlands property that became Pisoni Vineyards. Their love for the land provided the place where their son Gary could realize his dreams. Gary developed a love of wine while attending college. He started collecting fine French and German wines, and he made his first wine in his garage in 1978 at the age of twenty-five. In 1982, Gary broke ground and planted the first vines at Pisoni Vineyards. He was up against many obstacles, including not having a water source at the time.

Mark Pisoni, the vineyard manager, completed a B.S. in Agricultural Economics at the University of California, Davis, and an M.S. in Farm Business Management at Cornell University. He oversees the meticulous care of both Pisoni Vineyards and Pisoni Farms.  Jeff Pisoni is the winemaker. He earned a B.S. in Enology at California State University, Fresno, and got hands-on experience at premium wineries before becoming the Pisoni Estate and Lucia winemaker in 2002.

The Pisoni Family produces one wine each year under the label bearing its name: Pisoni Estate Pinot Noir. Although actual quantities vary with fruit yields, typical production is a mere 500 cases annually. Often noted for their deep color and intensity, wines from Pisoni Vineyards offer complex flavors and layers of undulating texture. The rocky mountain soil and the long, cool growing season provide the fundamental character of the wine, and the tannin and acid structure contribute to the age-worthiness.

Lucia vineyard designated Santa Lucia Highlands AVA wines. Lucia is the sister label of the Pisoni Estate wines. Whereas Pisoni Estate is committed to a single expression of the Pisoni Vineyards, Lucia represents the collection of vineyards that the Pisoni Family farms: Pisoni Vineyards, Soberanes Vineyard and Garys' Vineyard (the latter two farmed in partnership with Gary Franscioni).

The wines of Lucia are vineyard designated Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah from these vineyards and eponymous Santa Lucia Highlands AVA cuvées with varying percentages of each vineyard blended together. Lucia wines are made alongside the Pisoni Estate wines using the same exacting standards for quality. They are sold via mailing list and high-end restaurants and retailers. If you are on the mailing list for Pisoni Estate wines, you will automatically have the opportunity to purchase the Lucia offerings.



"A variety (or Cultivar) is a set of cultivated plants with clearly distinguishable and distinctive characteristics."

Distinguished Vineyards, Quality Wines with Distinctive Characteristics.  Cultivar Appellation Wines showcase the true characteristics of Napa Valley’s distinct microclimates and terrains by choosing from only the best vineyards throughout the Napa Valley.  Take a tour of the Cultivar Appellations with our small batch, appellation specific wines that highlight the distinctive characteristics of the terroir in our Cultivar Wine Club.

Napa Valley as an Appellation of California
One Cultivar, many appellations.  Napa Valley wines are a blend of several appellations within Napa of which we choose certain characteristics to add more complexity to the flavor and texture of a wine.  The Napa Valley wines are bright, elegant, and expressive and show the pretty fruit while maintaining that balance with structure and elegance.

The Napa Valley is defined by 2 mountain ranges and a proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the Napa Valley enjoys a temperate climate with a long growing season of sunny, warm days followed by cool evenings. Within the Napa Valley AVA, there are 14 other AVAs with distinct micro-climates and terrains formed by a varied topographical configuration of hills, exposures and elevations. The Napa Valley AVA is also part of the North Coast AVA.

Napa Valley's 16 Sub-Appellations
One Cultivar, one appellation.  Cultivar’s appellation wines of the Napa Valley are selected for specific Cultivar characteristics of the specific appellations.

Within the Napa Valley appellation exist 16 appellations, including: Atlas Peak, Calistoga, Chiles Valley District, Coombsville, Diamond Mountain District, Howell Mountain, Los Carneros, Mt. Veeder, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena, Spring Mountain District, Stags Leap District, Yountville and Wild Horse Valley.  From valley floor to hillsides to the mountains they are all are uniquely different because of the climate and the soil types.

The different conditions of Napa’s 16 appellations produce very different wines.  We pick vineyards that are good representations of the appellation it is from and then produce the wines in similar conditions (similar oak, aging and wine making).  There wines are always produced in limited quantities (100 to 300 cases) to express the true characteristics of the appellation.  Try a bottle of each of our sub-appellations for you next at home tour of the Napa Valley.

Vineyard Designated Cultivar Wine
One Cultivar, one appellation, one vineyard.  Cultivar’s Vineyard Designation wines are from specific vineyard within an appellation within Napa.  These Cultivar Vineyards express very specific characteristics.  These vineyard designated wines are produced exclusively from a single vineyard with that vineyard's name appearing on the wine label.


Monday, August 17, 2015



Famous for his flamboyant personality and his fantastical style, the Burgundy born Boisset brought his signature French flair to the Napa Valley with the purchases of De Loach, Raymond Vineyards and Buena Vista Winery, the oldest premium winery in California. As proprietor of Boisset Family Estates, he has incorporated innovative winemaking techniques and sustainable practices across the estate’s 22 wineries in France and California. He is married to Gina Gallo of E&J Gallo, the largest wine producer in the world.


The San Francisco Bay Area isn’t only on the cutting edge of technology—there’s also hotels and wine. That’s apparent in the case of Jean-Charles Boisset, who is about to open a novel and posh JCB Tasting Lounge inside the swank Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco that is so haute that we think it will start a hospitality trend. Haute Living recently enjoyed a sneak peek at this intimate and stylish space that will make you feel like you’ve fallen down a jeweled rabbit hole in wine country. The flamboyant Frenchman who heads up Boisset Family Estates, which has seven California labels, including Raymond Vineyards, De Loach Vineyards, Buena Vista Winery and JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset, and 11 labels in France, has simply outdone himself with his latest chic offering. You’ll soon be able to sip the highest quality wines—from the Russian River to Burgundy—from his JCB and Boisset Collection portfolio in this exquisite room just to the right of the hotel entrance.

“My idea was to create a jewelry box in the city where people want to come and have a good time,” Boisset said.

Part tasting lounge, part boutique—yes, you can buy his trademark red socks as well luxe products from partners such as Baccarat, Christofle, Lalique and Goyard and a new line of jewelry designed by the man himself—the exclusive JCB Lounge is an extension of what he already offers in Napa and Sonoma. However, if you’re in the city, there’s no longer a reason to battle traffic to partake in the inimitable JCB experience. Simply head to 600 Stockton Street.

Oenophiles can select from three tasting options—the Bubble Collection for $50, the Chardonnay & Pinot Collection for $75 or the Ultimate JCB for $100—all of which include a scrumptious food flight by chef Michael Rotondo of Parallel 37, Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco’s acclaimed restaurant. Or, you can tailor-make your own wine tasting menu. Whichever you choose, rest assured that you’ll sip from Baccarat glasses in luxurious surroundings highlighted by lounge music.

A membership will also be offered that allows you to secure your access to the most allocated and prized wines of the JCB Collection, including No. 1 and No. 10 Cabernet Sauvignon, No. 17 Cabernet Franc, No. 3 Pinot Noir and The Surrealist by JCB, through an automatic, recurring futures reservation. You’ll shell out $500 for the one-time membership fee, but the price includes a bottle of the $350 The Surrealist by JCB. Plus, you’ll have complimentary tastings and experiences for four Raymond, DeLoach, Buena Vista and all JCB locations, plus a few other snazzy perks.

About Boisset Collection
Boisset is a family-owned collection of historic and unique wineries bound together by a common cause: authentic, terroir-driven wines in harmony with their history, their future and the land and people essential to their existence.  With more than twenty historical and prestigious wineries in the world’s preeminent terroirs, including the Côte d’Or, Beaujolais, Rhône Valley, California’s Russian River Valley, Sonoma Valley, and the Napa Valley. To learn more about the Boisset Collection, please visit


Monday, August 10, 2015



Master of Wine Student and innovative wine industry spokesperson, Ian Blackburn drinks wine for a living. Since it was established in 1995, Ian Blackburn has worked on building Learn About Wineinto the leading source for wine education and events in Southern California.

LearnAboutWine was the first business of its kind: a wine education and event website dedicated to the education, service, and enjoyment of wine.

Today LearnAboutWine has developed into Southern California’s premier company for wine education and events. Ian continues to innovate and focus on demystifying wine for everyone from the casual drinker to the potential collector. LearnAboutWine events include the wildly successful, monthly “TASTE” Series, a large-scale wine social; “PALATE BUILDER” Sensory evaluation class, VINTAGE – High end collectables tastings and LAW SCHOOL – the four week credential program that concludes with the BAR exam (Beverage Aptitude Review). Over 30,000 students in Southern California have participated in LearnAboutWine’s core class “Wine Camp,” an introduction into wine, and it is considered one of the top introduction courses in the region.

With a database of over 18,000 subscribers, Ian’s following and notoriety has grown with the popularity of wine. He has taught classes at Cordon Bleu, Cal Poly Pomona, UCLA, The Learning Annex, and other prestigious universities. LearnAboutWine maintains an active calendar of classes and events offered to the public, but thrive as a source of private and corporate events. Ian’s clients range from small social clubs and church organizations, to Fortune Five Hundred companies like Amgen, Pfizer, Disney, Nestle, Deloitte, Latham Watkins, Ernest and Young, Bank of America/US Trust/Countrywide, Paul Hastings, Quinn Emanuel and KPMG.

Ian’s passion for wine and entertaining makes him one of the top spokespersons in the United States; he was trained as an educational Ambassador for the Napa Valley Vintners and the Region of Champagne, France. Ian’s expertise and entertaining ways can be heard regularly on Los Angeles radio airwaves likeKCRW, KLOS, KROQ, INDIE 103.1, 98.7 and Ian even appeared as an expert on ABC’s “The Bachelor.” Creating wine lifestyle events in order to get more people involved in the enjoyment and appreciation of wine is Ian’s forte. Commissioned by Wiley Publications to write The Pleasure of Wine in 2004, Ian is currently studying for his Masters of Wine and working on his second book at his home office in Downtown Los Angeles.

To demystify wine for everyone from the casual drinker to the potential collector. Whether it is an intimate sensory class, corporate team building exercise or a large-scale wine social, Learn About Wine is the one stop resource for education, service and enjoyment of wine.

August 19th
2-5pm Trade tasting
6pm VIP Panel Tasting with MW AMY CHRISTINE
7pm-9:30pm Consumer Charity Tasting

Taste over 200 varieties of Pinot Noir by 450 of the worlds top producers. The STARS of Pinot will be a showcase of both well-known high tier producers and exciting new top quality brands. We invite relevant press and trade accounts to attend an effective trade tasting, and market and promote a successful consumer event with a charity benefactor (not a charity tasting – but a wine marketing event that benefits a charity).   The events will benefit T.J. Martell Foundation - Leukemia, Cancer and AIDS Research



Over the past seven years, Harvest STOMP has sold out with over 550 guests in attendance including the industry’s most renowned grapegrowers, vineyard owners, and top-tier consumers from throughout the United States and beyond – with over 150 Napa Valley wineries pouring the best wines Napa Valley has to offer.

Proceeds from Harvest STOMP support the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation and our mission to preserve and promote Napa Valley’s World-Class Vineyards!

V. Sattui Winery is proud to host this year’s STOMP at its historic, 525-acre Henry Ranch, part of an original Spanish land grant that lies in southwestern corner of the Napa Valley.

A long country road leads to the ranch that was once home to Spanish and Mexican immigrants—and finally the Henry family, who pioneered the area in 1850. When you arrive at the Henry Ranch you will be in the midst of a place few have ever seen.  It is rich with remnants of the county’s agricultural past and magnificent beauty of a narrow valley and rolling hills framed by low mountain ranges that offer views as far south as San Francisco.

As their winery members can attest, Dario and Tom know how to throw a party!  Their commitment to memorable experiences and excellence in hospitality will guarantee STOMP 2015 to be a great celebration!

Owner Dario Sattui, the visionary entrepreneur behind both V. Sattui Winery and Castello di Amorosa, purchased the land from Herb Henry in 1993. Herb, now 92 years of age and a legend in the area, lived his entire life on the ranch without electrical power or modern equipment. To date, 120 acres of sustainably-farmed vineyards have been planted and virtually all of the 525 acres of land has been protected by any further development through conservation easements and the Land Trust of Napa County, ensuring the unspoiled beauty of this ranch for future generations.

Co-Chair, Tom Davies began his career with V. Sattui as one of the first 7 employees in 1980 and became Dario’s partner in the late 80s and later President in 1993.  Together, Dario and Tom have devoted most of their adult lives to building V. Sattui Winery to be the ultimate warm and welcoming Napa Valley experience.

A native of Palm Springs, California, Tom Davies graduated from Chico State University in 1979 with a degree in Business Management. He was so committed to getting into the wine business, he slept in a tent at the State Park in the Napa Valley to save money while searching for work.  Impressed with his attitude and enthusiasm, Dario Sattui hired him in the summer of 1980 at $5 an hour to work in V. Sattui Winery’s tasting room and cellar.  Tom was among the first 10 employees hired at V. Sattui.  His great business sense and knowledge of the wine industry propelled him to the top at V. Sattui.  Tom is President and Part-Owner of V. Sattui Winery.

During Tom’s 30-year tenure at V. Sattui, the winery pioneered the direct-to-consumer wine business model.  V. Sattui started the second wine club in the Napa Valley and was one of the first wineries in the nation to ship wine directly to consumer’s homes and to host wine club events, dinners and weddings.  Through the years, V. Sattui wines earn the highest recognition in both national & international competitions. In 2012 the winery was twice named "Winery of the Year" at the 2012 Winemaker's Challenge and the 2012 Monterey Wine Competition, and then voted "Best Winery" for the second year in a row by the San Francisco Bay Guardian Readers Poll. Most recently V. Sattui Winery was again name the 2013 “Winery of the Year” at the prestigious Winemaker’s Challenge making the 11th time in 8 years the winery garnered this recognition.

Tom has been married to his wife, Cara for the past 31 years. They have a daughter Michaela who is a sophomore at the University of San Diego. Tom and Cara have traveled extensively in Europe, and have made Italy their favorite home away from the Napa Valley, spending time there every summer since the early eighties.


Monday, August 3, 2015



ROAR Wines is the realization of our family’s more than 100-year love affair with the Santa Lucia Highlands. It’s a relationship rooted in three generations of farming and nurtured today in a small portfolio of premium Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay and Viognier.

Recognizing the region’s potential for premium wine grapes, we planted our first vineyard in 1996 and named it for Rosella. In 1997 we planted the Garys’ Vineyard in partnership with our good friends and fellow grape growers, the Pisoni family. Since then we’ve planted two more vineyards; our “high-altitude” Sierra Mar Vineyard located at 1000ft above the valley floor and the Soberanes Vineyard a second partnership with the Pisoni family, located on one of the area’s oldest land grants.
In 2001, after years spent developing the pedigree of our vineyards with top-tier wineries, we launched ROAR Wines to showcase the signature flavors of our vineyards and Santa Lucia Highands in a small portfolio of single vineyard and appellated bottlings. The name ROAR is inspired by our family’s passion for work and play; paying homage to the Monterey Bay winds that roar through our vineyards and the thunderous roar of a stadium full of sports fans.

We hope you enjoy our wines, and look forward to raising a glass together with you soon.

Gary Franscioni is a third generation Santa Lucia Highlands farmer. His grandfather, Silvio Franscioni Sr, immigrated to the area from Switzerland in 1886, and started a dairy. Years later, Gary’s father, Joe Franscioni, shifted the farming focus to row crops including beans, potatoes and sugar beets. Gary grew up in the family business, and developed a deep respect for the land and what it could produce when nurtured properly. Upon graduating from Cal Poly with a degree in agri-business, he took over management of the family’s farming business, which owned and managed more than 200 acres of row crops in the Salinas Valley.

Recognizing the region’s potential for premium wine grapes, Gary turned his focus to viticulture. He planted Rosella’s Vineyard in 1996 and partnered with Gary Pisoni in the Garys’ Vineyard a year later. In 2001, after developing his reputation as a grower with Rosella’s and Garys’ Vineyard, Gary and his wife Rosella launched ROAR Wines.

Today Gary is the driving force behind ROAR, overseeing all vineyard and winery operations.



DELLA wines is my passion realized from the shared vision of fellow founders; my sister and brother-in- law, Lee and Ernie LeRoy. DELLA honors our mother who died long before her time. Della Winifred Dale was a strong woman with a relentless commitment to life, raising eleven strong, intense and complex children. She was an extraordinary woman who believed in living the life you always imagined and in pursuing one’s dreams no matter the obstacles.

My passion for fine wine began while putting myself through school working as a waiter, sommelier and chef, but I found my true inspiration while living in Paris. It was there that I first experienced the art of wine, food and culture in a way that was spiritual. Having been a student of fine wine and food my whole life, this project is a culmination of three decades of experience.

I have been hand crafting distinctive Pinot Noir since 2010. DELLA was created around my obsession and enchantment with Pinot Noir. I am so grateful to my many mentors over the years to get me to this place. My quest is to create an exceptional wine for you and your shared special moments and memories while executing against the envisioned future of a timeless brand which will endure the generations.
Our mission is to craft intense and adventurous wines by partnering with the very best growers to create an exceptional wine. Scheduled for release in 2014, these wines are extremely limited production. I invite you to experience DELLA, a true expression of the place from where it was grown, in harmony and balance from the finest vineyards of Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast.

David Hejl is the Founder / Winemaker of Domaine DELLA and the former General Manager and CEO of Kosta Browne Winery in Sebastopol, California. Prior to joining Kosta Browne, David accumulated over 30 years experience in growth-oriented strategy execution within the food and consumer products industry and held executive positions with Nabisco, Berkshire Hathaway, Gourmet Award Foods, Ruiz Food Products, and most recently President & CEO of CPI International. In addition, he has 15 years of private equity investment experience and currently sits on various Boards of Directors.

David received his BS in Accounting and Finance from the University of Nebraska, is a CPA, and holds an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. David is also a noted speaker and has been on the Marketing faculty of the University of San Francisco, McLaren School of Management, Marquette University and the University of St. Thomas.

David and his two boys Andrew and Zachary have lived in Sonoma County for over fifteen years and reside in Bennett Valley. David enjoys BBQ, surfing, skiing, winemaking and wine collecting, spending time with family and friends, and learning French.