Show 428, June 5, 2021: Stuart Smith, Founder, Smith-Madrone Vineyards & Winery, Spring Mountain, Napa Valley

Stuart Smith of Smith Madrone Winery

Brothers Stuart and Charles Smith are the vineyard managers and winemakers of Smith-Madrone Winery located on Spring Mountain in the Napa Valley. Smith-Madrone celebrated their 50th Anniversary on May 14th. The name for the winery came as a tribute to the Smith brothers who pursued their dream and to the Madrone trees which distinguish the property.”

“In May 1971, with a partnership of family and friends, Stuart Smith bought the ‘terroir’ which today is Smith-Madrone Vineyards & Winery. He was 22 years old and had just received his B.A. in Economics from UC Berkeley and was taking classes towards his Master’s in Viticulture at UC Davis. In trying to find land to plant vineyard in the Napa Valley, through a family friend he explored a forest on the remotest and highest part of Spring Mountain and discovered that the land had been a vineyard in the 1880s and in fact had been part of the wagon trail route between Napa and Santa Rosa.”

Charles Smith (Stuart’s brother) joined the Winery in 1972 as Winemaker. Stuart’s son, Sam, became part of the leadership team in 2010 as Assistant Winemaker.

“Smith-Madrone’s current releases are the 2017 Chardonnay, 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2017 Riesling, 2016 Cook’s Flat Reserve and in very limited availability, magnums of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cook’s Flat Reserve.”

“As part of Smith-Madrone’s anniversary festivities they are inaugurating on Saturday, June 19th a regular series of informative and entertaining Zoom tastings and discussions with the winemakers. Stuart, his brother, Winemaker Charles Smith, and Stuart’s son, Sam, the Assistant Winemaker, will open older vintages and taste and discuss them with the Zoom attendees.” Sign-up via the Smith-Madrone website.

Founder Stuart Smith is our guest to gently pull the cork on Smith-Madrone for us.

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Show 427, May 29, 2021: Summit Lake Vineyards & Winery, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, 50th Anniversary Part One

Heather Griffin and Brian Brakesman of Summit Lake Vineyards

“2021 marks Summit Lake Vineyards & Winery’s 50th year (located on Howell Mountain in Napa Valley) and it is still family owned and operated. Founders Bob and Sue Brakesman’s three children, Heather, Brian, and Danny were all raised at Summit Lake and have worked hard to continue their parent’s legacy. Sue passed away in 2003 but you can still find Bob working hard repairing equipment and tending the vineyards. Brian has taken over the winemaking, Heather is the general manager and Danny caretakes the property.”

“In addition to Zinfandel, Summit Lake Vineyards produces estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel Port, Petite Sirah, a red blend and rosé. All are named for Bob and Sue’s granddaughters; Emily Kestrel, Clair Riley, Sophia Lynn, and Blythe Susan and grandsons Ben and Shane.”

A day of festivities to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Summit Lake is set for Saturday, August 7th from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Tickets are available through the Summit Lake website.

“The story of Summit Lake Vineyards & Winery began some 50 years ago when Bob and Sue Brakesman, the original owners and operators, met at Jordan Junior High in Palo Alto, CA. In college Bob began brewing his own beer when a neighbor suggested he try “brewing” wine. After liberating some grapes from the surrounding areas and crushing fruit in open-top fermenters (new plastic garbage cans), their winemaking days had begun.”

“Post college Bob began to question if he wanted to be an engineer or to explore his growing passion for wine and winemaking. On Nov. 12, 1971 Bob put a deed to a property in Sue’s birthday card. It described 28 acres of land, eight planted in pre-Prohibition Zinfandel (their favorite varietal), fruit trees in the orchard, a chicken house, garage, redwood barn, and a house built in the 1880’s. Sue thought she was getting paradise!”

“On Christmas Eve, Bob and Sue packed up their lives and travelled to the new ranch. As they entered the gate and drove down the driveway, her heart sank. The deed had failed to mention the property had been abandoned for over 30 years, was completely overgrown and in disrepair. The next morning, they awoke to a fresh coat of snow which had transformed the place into a beautiful wonderland. They rolled up their sleeves and went to work on top of Howell Mountain in Napa Valley.”

“The gradual transformation and revitalization of Summit Lake couldn’t have taken place without the help of family, friends, and neighbors who rallied to help with planting, harvest, bottling and finally coming together to build a new winery in 1985.”

“In 1978 Summit Lake Vineyard’s first commercial release won the coveted double gold medal at the California State Fair. It sold out in just eight days. Summit Lake has 18 acres planted from which it now produces about 2,000 cases a year.”

Heather Griffin and Brian Brakesman join us to pull the cork on Summit Lake Vineyards & Winery.

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Show 427, May 29, 2021: Summit Lake Vineyards & Winery, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, 50th Anniversary Part Two

Heather Griffin and Brian Brakesman of Summit Lake Vineyards

“2021 marks Summit Lake Vineyards & Winery’s 50th year (located on Howell Mountain in Napa Valley) and it is still family owned and operated. Founders Bob and Sue Brakesman’s three children, Heather, Brian, and Danny were all raised at Summit Lake and have worked hard to continue their parent’s legacy. Sue passed away in 2003 but you can still find Bob working hard repairing equipment and tending the vineyards. Brian has taken over the winemaking, Heather is the general manager and Danny caretakes the property.”

“In addition to Zinfandel, Summit Lake Vineyards produces estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel Port, Petite Sirah, a red blend and rosé. All are named for Bob and Sue’s granddaughters; Emily Kestrel, Clair Riley, Sophia Lynn, and Blythe Susan and grandsons Ben and Shane.”

A day of festivities to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Summit Lake is set for Saturday, August 7th from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Tickets are available through the Summit Lake website.

“The story of Summit Lake Vineyards & Winery began some 50 years ago when Bob and Sue Brakesman, the original owners and operators, met at Jordan Junior High in Palo Alto, CA. In college Bob began brewing his own beer when a neighbor suggested he try “brewing” wine. After liberating some grapes from the surrounding areas and crushing fruit in open-top fermenters (new plastic garbage cans), their winemaking days had begun.”

“Post college Bob began to question if he wanted to be an engineer or to explore his growing passion for wine and winemaking. On Nov. 12, 1971 Bob put a deed to a property in Sue’s birthday card. It described 28 acres of land, eight planted in pre-Prohibition Zinfandel (their favorite varietal), fruit trees in the orchard, a chicken house, garage, redwood barn, and a house built in the 1880’s. Sue thought she was getting paradise!”

“On Christmas Eve, Bob and Sue packed up their lives and travelled to the new ranch. As they entered the gate and drove down the driveway, her heart sank. The deed had failed to mention the property had been abandoned for over 30 years, was completely overgrown and in disrepair. The next morning, they awoke to a fresh coat of snow which had transformed the place into a beautiful wonderland. They rolled up their sleeves and went to work on top of Howell Mountain in Napa Valley.”

“The gradual transformation and revitalization of Summit Lake couldn’t have taken place without the help of family, friends, and neighbors who rallied to help with planting, harvest, bottling and finally coming together to build a new winery in 1985.”

“In 1978 Summit Lake Vineyard’s first commercial release won the coveted double gold medal at the California State Fair. It sold out in just eight days. Summit Lake has 18 acres planted from which it now produces about 2,000 cases a year.”

Heather Griffin and Brian Brakesman pour a glass of their 2016 Zinfandel and continue with us.

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Show 356, January 18, 2020: Bruce Cakebread, Cakebread Cellars and Mullan Road Cellars Part One

Bruce Cakebread of Cakebread CellarsCakebread Cellars in Rutherford, Napa Valley, has been a pioneering and prominent California winery since 1973. A newer venture for Cakebread is Mullan Road Cellars of Walla Walla in Washington State producing Bordeaux blends. The first release was in 2012.

“Bruce Cakebread, representing the 2nd generation of Family ownership, has worked alongside his father since the founding of the family winery in 1973. He officially joined the winery in 1977, and after graduating with a degree in Viticulture and Enology from the University of California at Davis, in 1979 he took over as winemaker, overseeing all vineyard and cellar operations for the next twenty years. In 2002, Bruce became the winery’s President and Chief Operations Officer, also leading international distribution efforts, and today he serves as co-owner and a board member.”

“We are very fortunate to have an excellent collection of vineyards as well as long-term relationships with some of the best growers in Napa Valley,” says Bruce. “Great vineyards, plus the fact that we’ve had only four winemakers over the past forty-five years (Jack, myself, Julianne Laks, and now Stephanie Jacobs), have allowed us to produce world-class wines of extraordinarily consistent quality and style.”

“Bruce has served on the Viticulture and Enology Executive Leadership Board at UC Davis, as a member of the Executive Committee for the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, as a member of the Napa Valley Vintners Board—which he chaired in 2010 and 2013—and as Chair of the Napa Valley College Foundation Board.”

Bruce Cakebread joins us to pull the cork on Cakebread Cellars.

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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 229, June 24, 2017: Anne Marie Panoringan, OC Weekly’s “On the Line” Columnist

Anne Marie PanoringanWhat’s it like to experience a very special $310 per guest meal (and it’s a tough pre-paid reservation to even secure) at California’s celebrated The French Laundry in Yountville in the Napa Valley?  Chef’s daily nine-course tasting menu and nine-course vegetable tasting menu highlight French technique and the finest quality ingredients available.

There is also a magnificent new $10 million state-of-the-art kitchen where your repast is artfully prepared. If you ask politely you can also get a tour of it. Very few restaurant kitchens of its equal in the world. Impressive…

OC Weekly’s “On the Line” columnist, Anne Marie Panoringan was just there and provides the salivating commentary. It’s not her first meal at The French Laundry either…

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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 148, November 28, 2015: Restaurateur Tony Tollner & Rio Grill, Carmel

Tony TollnerSince 1983, Rio Grill in Carmel, CA has been the place to meet friends, enjoy cocktails, food and wine and experience great dining on the Monterey Peninsula. The high energy restaurant is located at the mouth of the Carmel Valley in the well-known Crossroads Shopping Village and has won numerous reader’s choice awards and inspired food critics both near and far.

Menu highlights include creative regional California cuisine from the wood-burning grill and oak wood burner, as well as Chef Cy Yontz’s daily creations which include fresh fish, pasta, salads and sandwiches.

A Carmel institution since 1983, Rio Grill has enjoyed a long and storied history. Originally the site of local restaurateur Bill Lee’s “Billy Quon’s”, Rio Grill officially opened its doors almost 32 years ago. At that time, Rio Grill was part of the Real Restaurants organization, and was affiliated with such world class restaurants as Mustard’s Grill and Tra Vigne in Napa Valley, and the Fog City Diner in San Francisco.

As part of the Real Restaurants group, Rio Grill staked its claim as one of the region’s most popular choices catering to a loyal local clientele while satisfying out of town guests. As Rio’s reputation grew, the partners of the Real Restaurants Group decided to part ways and Rio Grill was able to stand on its own.

Throughout the years, Rio Grill has continued to evolve. Expansion to the main dining room occurred on two occasions and most recently, Rio Grill completely rebuilt the Santé Fe Room, it’s special events and meeting space. Featuring an open beam ceiling and a built-in “cantina style” bar to complement an updated menu from Executive Chef Cy Yontz, Rio Grill is poised to continue to impress and satisfy both locals and tourists alike.

On the “SoCal Restaurant’s Shows’” visit to Rio Grill we particularly enjoyed the Candied Swine “JOLLY RANCHEROS” appetizer and the House-Smoked Half Chicken with mild-smoked chile butter, artichokes and potatoes. On Monday nights (the night we were there) all wines by the bottle (including a deep selection of vintages from Monterey County) are half-off.

Rio Grill is now one of three properties owned by The Downtown Dining restaurants. Managing Partner Tony Tollner, who was part of the opening team for Rio Grill joins us.

Tony managed Rio Grill from 1984 until 1991 when he and his partner, Bill Cox found the building that now houses Tarpy’s Roadhouse. In 1994, a chef/friend approached Tony and asked if he would consider another venture. From that conversation, sprung the award winning Montrio Bistro. Montrio Bistro, along with Tarpy’s Roadhouse and Rio Grill comprise the Downtown Dining group of restaurants.

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Show 112, February 28, 2015: San Antonio Winery, Los Angeles

San Antonio WineryThe historic San Antonio Winery was founded in Downtown Los Angeles in 1917. In 1910, Santo Cambianica left his home of Berzo San Fermo, located in the northern Italian province of Lombardia. After registering at Ellis Island, he arrived in New York and then traveled across the country to Downtown Los Angeles. He quickly became well known as an honest, hard-working, and deeply devout Catholic, the very same qualities he was known for back home.

It took a few years of saving money, building his relationships, and planting his feet in the Italian-American community to start his own company and live the American Dream. Santo founded the San Antonio Winery in 1917 on Lamar Street, dedicating it to his Patron Saint Anthony. It’s still there to this day.

By 1933, following the Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression, nearly all of Los Angeles’ 100 wineries were shut down for good. However, despite Prohibition, San Antonio Winery was able to flourish, becoming the number one provider of altar wines for The Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

“We are blessed today to have four generations of family contributing to our success. Our vineyards are now located in Paso Robles, Monterey and Napa Valley. We are proud to be the most awarded winery in Los Angeles. We invite you to become part of our family by visiting the San Antonio Winery.”

The San Antonio Winery campus in Downtown Los Angeles is a great attraction for visitors with living history. It’s a working winery, comfortable and spacious tasting room, and destination restaurant serving many of Maddalena’s (Riboli) classic Italian – American recipes.

On air we tasted the new 2013 Opaque Darkness Red Blend, Paso Robles, from the Riboli Family Wine Estates. It’s a provocative blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Petit Sirah and Petit Verdot from their estate vineyards. It’s aged in French and American oak barrels for 10 months.

Raymond Shorter from the San Antonio Winery is our guest and brings us up to date.

 

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Show 78, July 5, 2014: Celebrity Chef Tiffany Derry of Dallas, Texas Part Two

Tiffany DerryYou can also catch Chef Tiffany as one of the hosts of Spike TV’s new “Hungry Investors” series.

Chef Tiffany is performing a cooking demo at the Napa Valley Festival Del Sole on July 12th as part of that day’s “Taste of Napa.”

Chef Tiffany provides an overview of the dynamic Dallas dining scene. It’s about getting out to the neighborhoods… There are great pockets of both Korean and Vietnamese fare to discover.

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