Show 336, August 10, 2019: Winemaker Justin Seidenfeld, Rowen Wine Company, Healdsburg, Sonoma County

Justin Seidenfeld of Roden Wine CompanyThe boutique Rowen Wine Company is Rodney Strong Wine Estates new brand of small production, high-elevation wines from a remote and historic part of Sonoma County called The Cooley Ranch. This is the fruition of an 18-year project by Rodney Strong Proprietor Tom Klein under the personal direction of Winemaker Justin Seidenfeld.

The vineyards at Cooley Ranch are above the fog line, which increases the sun exposure and heat that Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux red varietals need to ripen, but also provides cooling during the summer heat, which settles down in the lower valleys.

The 2016 ROWEN red blend is a lush and elegant wine consisting of wonderful high elevation, mountain fruit. The wine has aromas of dark cherries, blackberries and sweet toasted oak from the co-fermented Viognier. On the palate, the wine is balanced and structured from the Cabernet Sauvignon with notes of juicy cassis, light floral and sweet vanilla. Co-fermenting the Syrah with the Viognier is a classic Northern Rhone technique which adds an exotic floral element to the finished wine as well as a rounder mouthfeel.”

“Enjoy this wine now with sharp cheeses and charcuterie, grilled filet mignon, cocoa dusted chocolate torte or cellar for enjoyment for years to come.”

Justin Seidenfeld serves as winemaker for Rodney Strong Vineyards and Rowen Wine Company. Named one of Wine Enthusiasts “Top 40 Under 40” in 2017. Justin brings a bold perspective on crafting unique wines.

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Show 298, November 17, 2018: Kyle Meyer, Proprietor, Wine Exchange, Part 2 – Best Holiday Wine Picks for Value

Kyle Meyer of Wine ExchangeIt’s the best in premium wines priced at a value for your Holiday Table and gifting with our resident wine authority Kyle Meyer of Santa Ana’s Wine Exchange. This is Part 2 of his special Holiday 2018 report.

First it’s a recap of what varietals really work on the Thanksgiving table. Unfortunately it’s just not the time for rich, buttery California Chardonnays or tannic Cabernet Sauvignons. Bubbly works surprisingly well throughout the feast as well as Oregon Pinot Noirs.

There is more depth to Italian Lambrusco from Emily-Romagna than you probably are aware of.

Kyle’s pick is Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco di Sobrara Vecchia Modena Premium Secco 2016. It’s a drier style. Priced at a surprising $15.00!

“93 Points! Very fine texture to this Lambrusco with sliced watermelon, apple and hints of raspberry. Medium body, dry and delicious fruit. Bright acidity. Goes with everything. Served chilled. Drink now. – James Suckling

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Show 286, August 18, 2018: Kyle Meyer, Wine Exchange, Santa Ana

Kyle Meyer of Wine ExchangeWe’re uncorking it again with our distinguished wine expert, Kyle Meyer of Santa Ana’s Wine Exchange.

Is there a relationship between quality and price when it comes to California’s cult wines? What is the pricing model? Where is the value to be found if it can perhaps be found at all?

Most of the cult wines of California are coming from the elite Napa Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon is King! In the rarified growing areas of Napa there is very little room to expand vineyards.

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Show 267, March 31, 2018: Winemaker Stuart Spencer, Program Manager, Lodi Winegrape Commission

Stuart SpencerNestled between the San Francisco Bay and the Sierra Nevada Mountains lies Lodi Wine Country, a region fast becoming one of California’s true wine stars. Lodi Wine Country offers a rural atmosphere and relaxed pace for you to enjoy its beautiful vineyards and premium wines.

Lodi is predominately a red winegrowing region, with approximately two-thirds of the acreage dedicated to red varieties. Lodi is home to all of California’s leading varieties, and has long been the leading producer and California’s best kept secret for Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel. However, with over 100 varieties now in production, Lodi offers a vast portfolio of diverse and interesting wines.

“The most obvious distinction that sets Lodi apart is our treasure trove of own-rooted old vineyards. There are literally hundreds of these old blocks throughout the region that, in many cases, have yet to be discovered or had the opportunity to truly express their real character.” –Stuart Spencer

Lodi is the self-proclaimed Zinfandel Capital of the World producing over 40 percent of California’s premium Zinfandel. Journalists and wine enthusiasts alike have long recognized Lodi as the home of highly acclaimed Old Vine Zinfandels, with some plantings dating back to 1888. These vines, many of which are still planted on their own roots, are naturally low-yielding due to their age and consistently produce high quality fruit. Although expensive to maintain, Lodi winegrowers are committed to continuing this California heritage.

Winemaker Stuart Spencer of Lodi’s St. Amant Winery and also the Program Manager for the Lodi Winegrape Commission pulls the cork for us.

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Show 161, February 27, 2016: Craig Larson, Winemaker, Callaway Vineyard & Winery

Andrew Gruel of Slapfish and Graig Larson of Callaway Vineyard and Winery at the Pechanga Wine FestivalTemecula’s historic Callaway Vineyards & Winery has come a long way since it returned to local ownership in 2005. Callaway is recognized as the first winery in the Temecula Valley. Case production on the planted 70-acre vineyard estate is now a more modest 13,000 cases a year. It’s all sold from the renovated winery tasting room (with magnificent vineyard views), online, and via their loyal wine club.

Callaway Vineyard & Winery currently grows seven different varietals. The winery property now has 20 acres of Estate vineyards planted with Viognier, Syrah, Dolcetto, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Grenache, Roussanne, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The Lin family owns an additional 200 acres of property at the corner of De Portola Road and Monte de Oro, of which approximately 50 acres are currently planted with Chardonnay, Cinsault, Mourvedre, Muscat Canelli and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

Craig Larson has been the distinguished Winemaker there for the last eight years. We’ll meet him.

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Show 161, February 27, 2016: Tara Gomez, Winemaker, Kita Wines, Lompoc, CA

Tara GomezKita Wines, a premium brand launched by the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, has earned numerous distinctions in the handful of years since it became part of the Santa Ynez Valley wine scene. Kita means “our valley oak” in the native language of the Chumash people.

It starts with where the grapes primarily come from – a vineyard situated at the gateway to Santa Barbara County’s renowned Happy Canyon wine region. It’s here that the soil and climate combine to produce some of the valley’s most sought-after grapes.

Owning both a vineyard and winery has meant the Santa Ynez Chumash are also making history. In fact, the California Legislature has recognized Chumash as the first tribe to have a vineyard and winemaking operation in the country run by tribal people.

At the 2015 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Kita was awarded two Double Golds. One was for the 2012 Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills Hilliard Bruce and the other for the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Ynez Valley Camp 4 Vineyard.

Kita has just released their first Chardonnay. It’s a Chablis-style Chardonnay that pairs well with food. It’s a 2014 from the Hilliard Bruce Vineyard.

Kita’s winemaker and general manager, Tara Gomez, is our guest. Her winemaking degree is from Fresno State. Tara interned at Fess Parker Winery and worked grape harvests in Europe before starting the Kita Wines venture in 2010. Joining her is Kita’s Assistant Winemaker, Tymari LoRe.

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Show 151, December 19, 2015: Adam Craun, Co-Founder, Memento Mori

Adam Craun and the Wainwrights from Momento Mori WineryMemento Mori winery (Napa Valley) is one of the small, exclusive cult boutique producers showcased at Ultimo Weekend. Their 100 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon was poured at the $1,000 per guest Ultimo Grand Banquet – Dinner in the Clouds. This was the eagerly anticipated debut of the just released 2013 vintage. The Winery’s premium Cabernet grapes come from just four highly regarded vineyards in St. Helena and Oakville.

Co-founder Adam Craun is our guest. As always there is an intriguing story here that starts with the name…A portion of the proceeds from the Grand Banquet benefit the ment’or BKB Foundation.

“We produce and offer only one wine.  Memento Mori is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, California.   We source from only the best vineyards and have one of the most talented young winemakers (Sam Kaplan) on the planet.  Our singular mission is to craft the absolute best product possible.  We will never cut corners. Ever.”

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Show 150, December 12, 2015: Ray Magnussen, Lechuza Winery, Guadalupe Valley, Baja

Ray Magnussen One of the promising, up-and-coming wineries in the Guadalupe Valley in Northern Baja is Lechuza, founded in 2005. It’s owned by Ray Magnussen (with his wife, Patty) who is also the hands-on winemaker. They are Americans.

“Lechuza” is Spanish for “burrowing ground owl.” This bird frequents the Lechuza vineyard property. The modest vineyard estate is adjacent to Laja, one of the most well-reviewed restaurants in Baja, California.

Lechuza currently offers Lechuza Amantes (Blend), Lechuza Cabernet Sauvignon, Lechuza Nebbiolo, Lerchuza Merlot, Lechuza Tempranillo and Lechuza Grenache Rose. The Amantes is also affectionately known at the winery as “The Wedding Blend.” When the Magnussen’s daughter was married she chose the Amanates to serve at the reception.

The winery and tasting room at Lechuza is open to visitors by appointment. The Magnussen’s particularly look forward to welcoming American guests.

Other restaurants in the Valley that the Magnussen’s recommend are Deckman’s En El Mogor, Finca Altozano and Hacienda Guadalupe.

Their wines are conveniently available on-line via their San Diego-based distributor LMAwines.com

We’ll meet Ray.

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Show 144, October 31, 2015: Susan Montgomery, Food, Wine & Travel Journalist

Susan MontgomeryFood, wine and travel writer Sue Montgomery (also a Director and the Treasurer of the International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association) was just in the Valle de Guadalupe in Northern Baja on a VIP food and wine tour led and orchestrated by San Diego’s Wine Vault & Bistro. WV & B’s Chris Gluck was the attentive host and tour guide.

She started with a reception at Wine Vault & Bistro with free-flowing Bloody Mediterraneans and Mexican Coffees before boarding the luxury motor coach to Mexico.

Their base in the Ensenada area for 2-nights was Hotel Coral y Marina with every guest having an ocean view.

Meals included a spectacular 4-course dinner under-the-stars at Chef Drew Deckman’s Deckman’s en El Mogor.

One of the wineries visited was Ray and Patty Magnussen’s Lechuza (Spanish for burrowing ground owl which is prevalent there) Vineyard. If you can’t make it to the Guadalupe Valley, Ray is going to be at The Vine Vault & Bistro in San Diego for a 3-night series of Lechuza Winemaker Dinners. The only date available is Tuesday evening, November 17th. Consider Wild Herb Roasted Lamb paired with 2012 Lechuza Cabernet Sauvignon.

Sue joins us to profile her hugely recommendable 3-day adventure.

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Show 134, August 8, 2015: Finca la Carrodilla Winery and Proprietor Fernando Perez Castro

Fernando Perez Castro-Finca la Carrodilla, opened to visitors in 2014, is one of the newer standout wineries in the Guadalupe Valley in Northern Baja attracting a lot of deserved attention. It’s unusually certified organic. It’s a 20-acre passion project of the Castro Family with the youthful Fernando Perez Castro overseeing the effort. He’s also the self-taught winemaker. Their sister winery in the Guadalupe Valley is Lomita Vinicola Mexicana.

The artfully landscaped and colorful grounds are designed to conserve water. The winery building is architecturally significant with a roof deck garden as part of the entry.

There is actually an Agronomist on staff to supervise all the planting and organic gardens. Fruits and vegetables are raised there which are purchased by quality- minded wine country restaurants. Eventually farm animals will be part of the project. They already raise honey bees.

Initial varietals use Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Tempranillo grapes. The Canto de Luna is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Tempranillo. Fernando is particularly proud of the Cabernet Sauvignon.

LA Mision Associates in San Diego imports the limited release Finca la Carrodilla wines into the United States. All the initial releases are available on www.lmawines.com

Proprietor Fernando Perez Castro is our guest.

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