Show 486, August 6, 2022: Steven Kent Mirassou, Steven Kent Winery, Livermore Part One

Steven Kent Mirassou of the Lineage Collection

The Steven Kent Winery was started in 1996 with one mission: to make Cabernet in the Livermore Valley that rivals in quality the greatest red wines made anywhere in the world.”

“By the turn of the last century, Livermore Valley was already far ahead of its Napa Valley neighbor in specializing in the Bordeaux varieties. The goal at Steven Kent is to carry on that tradition.” Steven Kent Mirassou joins us to pull the cork on all that is The Steven Kent Winery.

“Steven Kent Mirassou is the 6th-generation winemaker for The Lineage Collection located in the Livermore Valley. Steven has been making wine for his four separate brands since 1996 and regards his growing area as one of the finest in the world for Bordeaux varieties. Though Steven started out making Cabernet Sauvignon, he fell in love with the Loire Valley version of Cabernet Franc in the early 2000s. He regards this grape to be the sexiest, most alluring, most complex in the world.”

“The fact that the Livermore Valley is one of the finest areas in California to grow this grape makes the marriage between variety and obsession much more likely to succeed at a world-class quality level. L’Autre Côte is a Cabernet Franc brand whose mission is to make single-vineyard wines from great sites that create emotional connections between the winemaker and the wine drinker and that highlight the unequaled elegance and complexity of this grape.”

The best wines are balanced wines that reveal the site, the variety, and the winemaking vision in a way that makes our wines memorable. We create wines that celebrate the lushness of California while maintaining a more acid-driven, tannic style that speaks of the Old World.”

“Steven Kent Winery wines are aged in 100% French oak barrels. The percentage of new oak to once or second-used barrel is dependent upon how much organoleptic contribution they think the wines need from wood. Generally, they use only 50-60% new barrel, believing that the aromas and flavors of fruit are much more delicious than those derived from wood.”

“Steven Kent Winery blends are often elaborate, and they are made as early in the aging process as possible. They have found that the best, most complex and delicious blends are those that have ample time for each individual variety to marry harmoniously with its mates.”

Show 486, August 6, 2022: Steven Kent Mirassou, Steven Kent Winery, Livermore Part Two

Steven Kent Mirassou of the Lineage Collection

The Steven Kent Winery was started in 1996 with one mission: to make Cabernet in the Livermore Valley that rivals in quality the greatest red wines made anywhere in the world.”

“By the turn of the last century, Livermore Valley was already far ahead of its Napa Valley neighbor in specializing in the Bordeaux varieties. The goal at Steven Kent is to carry on that tradition.” Steven Kent Mirassou joins us to pull the cork on all that is The Steven Kent Winery.

“Steven Kent Mirassou is the 6th-generation winemaker for The Lineage Collection located in the Livermore Valley. Steven has been making wine for his four separate brands since 1996 and regards his growing area as one of the finest in the world for Bordeaux varieties. Though Steven started out making Cabernet Sauvignon, he fell in love with the Loire Valley version of Cabernet Franc in the early 2000s. He regards this grape to be the sexiest, most alluring, most complex in the world.”

“The fact that the Livermore Valley is one of the finest areas in California to grow this grape makes the marriage between variety and obsession much more likely to succeed at a world-class quality level. L’Autre Côte is a Cabernet Franc brand whose mission is to make single-vineyard wines from great sites that create emotional connections between the winemaker and the wine drinker and that highlight the unequaled elegance and complexity of this grape.”

The best wines are balanced wines that reveal the site, the variety, and the winemaking vision in a way that makes our wines memorable. We create wines that celebrate the lushness of California while maintaining a more acid-driven, tannic style that speaks of the Old World.”

“Steven Kent Winery wines are aged in 100% French oak barrels. The percentage of new oak to once or second-used barrel is dependent upon how much organoleptic contribution they think the wines need from wood. Generally, they use only 50-60% new barrel, believing that the aromas and flavors of fruit are much more delicious than those derived from wood.”

Show 464, March 5, 2022: Winemaker Keith Emerson, Vinoce, Napa

Keith Emerson of Vinoce

Twenty-five years after naming his wine brand Vinoce, Proprietor Brian Nuss (Napa Valley based) finds himself in a revitalization mode as he and the rest of the world emerges from the pandemic. Which leads him to proclaim, “I don’t want this winery to go away. It’s been part of my life since 1996. But this reinvention is not for me; it’s for my sons Tim and Tyler.””

“Nuss called his winery Vinoce (pronounced veen-O-chay), which he translates as “wine nut.” He coined the word in tribute to his German-Italian heritage; “nuss” means nut in German, and “noce” is nut in Italian. Brian’s mom was Italian-Spanish, while his dad was German-English.”

“Over the last three decades, Vinoce has developed an intimate knowledge of growing Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc on the rugged, hillside slopes. Vinoce is devoted to creating wines that reflect the true expressions of Mount Veeder with balance, power, and uniqueness.”

“In 2013, Keith Emerson initially came on as associate winemaker to make the Vinoce wines. Emerson, the winemaker at Vineyard 29, is now Vinoce’s winemaker as well. The wine is made in St. Helena at Emerson’s Vineyard 29 and Ballentine Vineyards. Vinoce’s Mount Veeder fruit comes from an 8-acre estate vineyard near PymRae Nuss purchased and planted in ‘13. Vinoce produces about 2,000 cases a year.”

In 2019 Vinoce opened their tasting room at the historic Tannery building in Napa on the Napa River.

Winemaker Keith Emerson joins us to uncork all that is Vinoce Vineyards.

Show 458, January 15, 2022: Lindsay Hoopes, Proprietress, Hoopes Family Vineyard, Oakville, Napa Valley Part One

Lindsay Hoopes of Hoopes Wines

Hoopes Family Vineyard & Winery (Oakville) is a small, family-owned winegrower and producer with deep roots in Napa Valley. Now in it’s second generation, Lindsay Hoopes continues to live and work on the farm with revered dedication to her family heritage in dogged pursuit of perfect wines. Their critically acclaimed wines tell the exquisite story of the Hoopes’ vineyards, their philosophy, and the continued evolution of Napa Valley. With a true sense of place and raison d’être, Hoopes Vineyard wines strive to over deliver in flavor, history, passion, adventure and luxury.”

“Raised on the Hoopes farm by her wine-loving family, Lindsay Hoopes learned how to cultivate grapes and promote Napa’s sense of place and terroir through her father, Spencer Hoopes. Spencer Hoopes loved farming, and developed a passion for wine as the wine industry in Napa blossomed right around him.”

“Spencer Hoopes grew grapes for other vintners and quickly earned repute for some of the best cabernet sauvignon in the Napa Valley. Spencer’s stewardship of the land was heralded by many. When other vintners asked if they could use the Hoopes name to authenticate the high-calibre of their wine, Spencer concluded that, darn it, he should do it himself.”

“Enter Lindsay. Spencer encouraged Lindsay to explore the world and potentially other careers before making a decision to settle at home in the family business. Farming suffers no fools, and Spencer wasn’t just going to give her a job.”

“Lindsay has a wanderlust. After living abroad in many countries, from Ireland to Costa Rica, Lindsay studied international law, worked in international logistics and ultimately worked in homicide at the San Francisco District Attorney’s office. But Lindsay eventually made her way back to Napa Valley when a family illness prompted her to take over Hoopes Vineyard in 2012.”

“Lindsay honored her heritage and father’s winemaking philosophy, but retained her sense of adventure by giving Hoopes Family Vineyard some innovative upgrades. She adopted regenerative agricultural practices and bio-diverse farming initiatives, founded a rescue sanctuary for animals, worked with environmental groups for organic and sustainability certification, and created a hub for young wine fans to immerse themselves in California wine culture in what is now the Oasis by Hoopes. Lindsay also now tells the story of Hoopes wine through food in her many culinary partnerships and initiatives.” Hoopes Family Vineyard also hosts a variety intriguing Virtual Events.

The Hoopes Family Vineyard produces small lots of meritorious Cabernet Sauvignon in various expressions, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Rose and Syrah.

Proprietress Lindsay Hoopes is our guest to pull the cork on Hoopes Family Vineyard & Winery.

Show 458, January 15, 2022: Lindsay Hoopes, Proprietress, Hoopes Family Vineyard, Oakville, Napa Valley Part Two

Lindsay Hoopes of Hoopes Wines

Hoopes Family Vineyard & Winery (Oakville) is a small, family-owned winegrower and producer with deep roots in Napa Valley. Now in it’s second generation, Lindsay Hoopes continues to live and work on the farm with revered dedication to her family heritage in dogged pursuit of perfect wines. Their critically acclaimed wines tell the exquisite story of the Hoopes’ vineyards, their philosophy, and the continued evolution of Napa Valley. With a true sense of place and raison d’être, Hoopes Vineyard wines strive to over deliver in flavor, history, passion, adventure and luxury.”

“Raised on the Hoopes farm by her wine-loving family, Lindsay Hoopes learned how to cultivate grapes and promote Napa’s sense of place and terroir through her father, Spencer Hoopes. Spencer Hoopes loved farming, and developed a passion for wine as the wine industry in Napa blossomed right around him.”

“Spencer Hoopes grew grapes for other vintners and quickly earned repute for some of the best cabernet sauvignon in the Napa Valley. Spencer’s stewardship of the land was heralded by many. When other vintners asked if they could use the Hoopes name to authenticate the high-calibre of their wine, Spencer concluded that, darn it, he should do it himself.”

“Enter Lindsay. Spencer encouraged Lindsay to explore the world and potentially other careers before making a decision to settle at home in the family business. Farming suffers no fools, and Spencer wasn’t just going to give her a job.”

“Lindsay has a wanderlust. After living abroad in many countries, from Ireland to Costa Rica, Lindsay studied international law, worked in international logistics and ultimately worked in homicide at the San Francisco District Attorney’s office. But Lindsay eventually made her way back to Napa Valley when a family illness prompted her to take over Hoopes Vineyard in 2012.”

“Lindsay honored her heritage and father’s winemaking philosophy, but retained her sense of adventure by giving Hoopes Family Vineyard some innovative upgrades. She adopted regenerative agricultural practices and bio-diverse farming initiatives, founded a rescue sanctuary for animals, worked with environmental groups for organic and sustainability certification, and created a hub for young wine fans to immerse themselves in California wine culture in what is now the Oasis by Hoopes. Lindsay also now tells the story of Hoopes wine through food in her many culinary partnerships and initiatives.” Hoopes Family Vineyard also hosts a variety intriguing Virtual Events.

The Hoopes Family Vineyard produces small lots of meritorious Cabernet Sauvignon in various expressions, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Rose and Syrah.

Proprietress Lindsay Hoopes continues with us gently pulling the cork on the activities of Hoopes Family Vineyard & Winery.

Show 452, November 20, 2021: Winemaker & Proprietor Seth Cripe of LOLA Wines, Calistoga Part Two

Seth Cripe of Lola Wines

LOLA Wines in Calistoga was established in 2008, by winemaker and owner Seth Cripe. Seth’s dream of making wine and growing grapes started randomly as a 14 -year old dishwasher/busboy at a restaurant in his native Anna Maria Island in Florida. At the age of 17, Seth left home to pursue his dream, driving across the US in his trusty ‘88 Subaru with $1,200 and arriving in Napa Valley the summer of 1997 where he started work as a harvest intern at Swanson Vineyards, under the mentorship of Marco Cappelli. After 4 harvests at Swanson, 8 harvests at Caymus along with a few others at some of the worlds’ most renowned wineries, in 2008, Seth started making his own wines calling them LOLA. Seth’s dream was to create a winery that stands for people with a passion for wine that represents world class quality, wines of purity and soul at approachable prices. These are the very same ethos that LOLA represents with each wine that they produce today!”

“LOLA is a Napa Valley based boutique winery focused on creating high quality, approachable and affordable wines. Their winemaking approach pays tribute to the old-world tradition with carefully selected vineyards and handcrafted wines made in small batches. For LOLA, growing grapes and making wine is about connecting with nature, working alongside the ever-changing elements, year to year, to make wines that represent their true sense of place.”

“LOLA’s portfolio of wines consists of their estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, California Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Rose – all part of their classic collection, mostly sourced from Sonoma county. As well they produce the LOLA Artisanal Series of wines which are a collection of wines focused on purity and uncompromised integrity from Distinct vineyards mostly located in Napa Valley.”

“Today, LOLA produces about 20,000 cases of wines that are distributed in 36 US states and also exported to various Asian countries and Northern Europe. They also have their tasting room, The Lola House, in downtown Calistoga, Napa Valley where they host visitors from all over the world who visit this beautiful wine region each year!”

“Seth and his brother, Mic, are also the founders of Cortez Conservas the proud producers of the only US made Mullet Bottarga. They make the truest expression of Striped Grey Mullet Bottarga, Smoked Mullet Roe and BlackFin Tuna Mojama. The pristine waters off the Florida Gulf Coast, off of Anna Maria Island and the connecting fishing village of Cortez, are home to one of this country’s last sustaining wild fisheries. Brothers Seth and Mic Cripe, Florida natives, started Cortez Conservas with the mission of working to create high quality preserved local seafood, to support their friends and family’s way of life as fisherman and help preserve it for the livelihood of future generations.” Cortez Conservas products are available to enjoy and sample separately at the LOLA House tasting room in Calistoga or paired with appropriate LOLA wines.

Proprietor and Winemaker Seth Cripe joins us to uncork all that is LOLA wines.

The Long Beach International Tamales Festival is coming up on Sunday December 5th at the Scottish Rite Event Centre in Downtown Long Beach from 12 Noon to 8:00 p.m. This all-day holiday inspired fair features a diverse selection of Latin American cuisine, from regional tamales, Latin inspired dishes, drinks, tequila tastings, a best homemade tamales contest, and a full line-up of entertainment, activities, and vendors of all kinds!

Executive Chef Haley Nguyen of the Culinary Arts Program at Long Beach City College will be one of the judges for the Homemade Tamale Contest and her students will be selling their creative versions of holiday tamales. Chef Haley will be an upcoming guest on the “SoCal Restaurant Show” on December 4th @ 11:15 a.m. PT

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.

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.

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.

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.