Show 445, October 2, 2021: Chef and Winemaker Frank Ostini, Hitching Post 2 and Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post Wines Part One

Frank Ostini of Hitching Post II

Buellton’s celebrated Chef and Winemaker Frank Ostini is the grill master at Hitching Post 2 Restaurant and the Co-Winemaker at Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post Wines (with Gray Hartley.) We’re talking Santa Barbara County wine and classic Santa Maria BBQ with Chef Frank Ostini.

“On the Central Coast of California BBQ has always meant grilling over an open fire of red oak, a style of cooking that is native to the area and goes back to the days of the Spanish Rancheros. By combining the old and the new, Hitching Post 2 has created an exciting cuisine with outstanding steaks, ribs and chicken, along with fresh fish and seafood and vegetarian options. They also create their own (world class) wines, Hartley – Ostini Hitching Post Wines, for sale and enjoyment in the restaurant and to the wider public.”

“Hitching Post Wines strives to create flavorful handcrafted wines that possess poise and balance, putting a slice of Santa Barbara in each glass, and a piece of their soul in every bottle of Hitching Post. The spacious Hitching Post Wines Tasting Room is located adjacent to Hitching Post 2 restaurant on Highway 246 and has ample parking.”

The Traditional Tasting at Hitching Post Wines priced at $15 per guest offers a flight of five Hitching Post Wines consisting of Pinks 2017; Hometown Pinot Noir 2016; Cork Dancer Pinot Noir 2015; Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir 2015; and Gen Red 2016.

A Reserve Tasting, priced at $20, includes five wines – Highliner Pinot Noir 2015; Perfect Set Pinot Noir 2015; Bien Nacido Pinot Noir 2015; Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir 2015; and Four Top 2012. The caveat of the Reserve Tasting will be its ever-changing menu featuring rare single-vineyard bottlings and special older vintages of Hitching Post.

“Hitching Post Wines Tasting Room would not be complete without the added flavor of Hitching Post 2’s Santa Maria Style BBQ food pairings to enjoy while tasting. Classic crowd-pleasing favorites served from the restaurant for Lunch (mid to late afternoon menu of appetizers & snacks, too) include HP Burgers; Triple-Fried French Fries; Santa Maria BBQ Artichokes; and Grilled Corn Quesadillas.”

Chef Frank also remembers acclaimed Santa Barbara County Winemaker Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat who unexpectedly passed away earlier this year.

The Restaurant and Tasting Room are open Wednesday through Sunday. Closed on Monday and Tuesday.

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Show 445, October 2, 2021: Chef and Winemaker Frank Ostini, Hitching Post 2 and Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post Wines Part Two

Frank Ostini of Hitching Post II

Buellton’s celebrated Chef and Winemaker Frank Ostini is the grill master at Hitching Post 2 Restaurant and the Co-Winemaker at Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post Wines (with Gray Hartley.) We’re now continuing talking Santa Barbara County wine and classic Santa Maria BBQ with Chef Frank Ostini.

“On the Central Coast of California BBQ has always meant grilling over an open fire of red oak, a style of cooking that is native to the area and goes back to the days of the Spanish Rancheros. By combining the old and the new, Hitching Post 2 has created an exciting cuisine with outstanding steaks, ribs and chicken, along with fresh fish and seafood and vegetarian options. They also create their own (world class) wines, Hartley – Ostini Hitching Post Wines, for sale and enjoyment in the restaurant and to the wider public.”

“Hitching Post Wines strives to create flavorful handcrafted wines that possess poise and balance, putting a slice of Santa Barbara in each glass, and a piece of their soul in every bottle of Hitching Post. The spacious Hitching Post Wines Tasting Room is located adjacent to Hitching Post 2 restaurant on Highway 246 and has ample parking.”

The Traditional Tasting at Hitching Post Wines priced at $15 per guest offers a flight of five Hitching Post Wines consisting of Pinks 2017; Hometown Pinot Noir 2016; Cork Dancer Pinot Noir 2015; Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir 2015; and Gen Red 2016.

A Reserve Tasting, priced at $20, includes five wines – Highliner Pinot Noir 2015; Perfect Set Pinot Noir 2015; Bien Nacido Pinot Noir 2015; Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir 2015; and Four Top 2012. The caveat of the Reserve Tasting will be its ever-changing menu featuring rare single-vineyard bottlings and special older vintages of Hitching Post.

“Hitching Post Wines Tasting Room would not be complete without the added flavor of Hitching Post 2’s Santa Maria Style BBQ food pairings to enjoy while tasting. Classic crowd-pleasing favorites served from the restaurant for Lunch (mid to late afternoon menu of appetizers & snacks, too) include HP Burgers; Triple-Fried French Fries; Santa Maria BBQ Artichokes; and Grilled Corn Quesadillas.”

The Restaurant and Tasting Room are open Wednesday through Sunday. Closed on Monday and Tuesday.

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Show 444, September 25, 2021: Winemaker Steve Matthiasson, Matthiasson Wines, Napa Part One

Steve Matthiasson of Matthiasson WInes

“Winemaking at Matthiasson Wines (Steve and Jill) is a natural extension of farming. The Matthiasson’s have both worked for many years in the sustainable agriculture and local food movement, and in 2003 they started Matthiasson Wines based on those values. The wines are classical expressions of different grape varieties, some well-known like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, and some rare like Ribolla Gialla and Refosco. The wines are refreshing, complement food, and are moderate in alcohol.” Matthiasson Wines is a 6-time James Beard Award nominee.

“Matthiasson fervently believe the old maxim that “wine is made in the vineyard,” and consider themselves farmers first. They carefully tailor organic viticultural practices to each vineyard — this is how Matthiasson harvests healthy and fully ripe fruit with balanced levels of alcohol and acidity. They do their best to protect and enhance the natural environment in the process.”

“Matthiasson Winery in Napa is open for in-person tastings at the winery and vineyard! They host a limited number of outdoor tastings by appointment 7 days a week. The tastings are approximately 60-75 minutes in length and include a comprehensive lineup of 5 to 6 wines.”

Winemaker Steve Matthiasson is with us to pull the cork on all that is Matthiasson Winery.

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Show 444, September 25, 2021: Winemaker Steve Matthiasson, Matthiasson Wines, Napa Part Two

Steve Matthiasson of Matthiasson WInes

“Winemaking at Matthiasson Wines (Steve and Jill) is a natural extension of farming. The Matthiasson’s have both worked for many years in the sustainable agriculture and local food movement, and in 2003 they started Matthiasson Wines based on those values. The wines are classical expressions of different grape varieties, some well-known like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, and some rare like Ribolla Gialla and Refosco. The wines are refreshing, complement food, and are moderate in alcohol.” Matthiasson Wines is a 6-time James Beard Award nominee.

“Matthiasson fervently believe the old maxim that “wine is made in the vineyard,” and consider themselves farmers first. They carefully tailor organic viticultural practices to each vineyard — this is how Matthiasson harvests healthy and fully ripe fruit with balanced levels of alcohol and acidity. They do their best to protect and enhance the natural environment in the process.”

“Matthiasson Winery in Napa is open for in-person tastings at the winery and vineyard! They host a limited number of outdoor tastings by appointment 7 days a week. The tastings are approximately 60-75 minutes in length and include a comprehensive lineup of 5 to 6 wines.”

Winemaker Steve Matthiasson pours a glass of his 2019 Napa Valley Ribolla Gialla, Matthiasson Vineyards, and continues with us.

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Show 439, August 21, 2021: Gretchen Voelcker, Winemaker, Piazza Family Wines and Winemaker / Owner Luna Hart Wines Part One

Gretchen Voelcker of Piazza Family Wines

“After falling in love with the Santa Ynez Valley, Ron and Nancy Piazza looked for a place to retreat from the city and call home for almost 30 years. They longed to have a ranch to share their love of the land with their family and friends.”

“When they found what is now called Bella Vista Vineyard in Ballard Canyon they immediately knew it was home. Living among the vines and with sweeping views of Ballard Canyon, Ron and Nancy decided to begin Piazza Family Wines in 2018. With the production facility just a short walk down a well-trodden dirt path they hand crafted the first vintage from their estate.”

Winemaker, Gretchen Voelcker (also Winemaker for her own label, Luna Hart Wines,) knows the importance of the vines and spends the entirety of the year working with esteemed Vineyard Manager, Ruben Solerzano to grow grapes that allow for natural wines to be made using minimal intervention.

“The Piazza’s officially launched the brand in November of 2020 with a range of six wines from their Bella Vista estate vineyard in Ballard Canyon and their sister vineyard Mount Carmel in Sta. Rita Hills. They are focused on honest organic farming, natural winemaking and highlighting the land through their wines.”

“The Bella Vista Vineyard is producing Grenache, Syrah, Graciano, Cabernet Sauvignon, Montepulciano and Sangiovese; while the sister vineyard, Mt. Carmel, is producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. These wines are stunning and elegant yet racy with true varietal definition.”

“As winemaker at Piazza Family Wines, Gretchen is responsible for the entire process, from the vineyard to the barrel to the bottle. With a focus on organic fruit and ingredients, she spends more time in the vineyard than most winemakers. Her vision is to produce minimal interference wines from her favorite grapes, showcasing the fruit purely and precisely. Inspired by gifted winemakers and driven by her own independent spirit, Gretchen pays strict attention to every detail and focuses on the craft of making wine the natural way.”

Winemaker Gretchen Voelcker pulls the cork on Piazza Family Wines and Luna Hart Wines for us.r us.

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Show 439, August 21, 2021: Gretchen Voelcker, Winemaker, Piazza Family Wines and Winemaker / Owner Luna Hart Wines Part Two

Gretchen Voelcker of Piazza Family Wines

“After falling in love with the Santa Ynez Valley, Ron and Nancy Piazza looked for a place to retreat from the city and call home for almost 30 years. They longed to have a ranch to share their love of the land with their family and friends.”

“When they found what is now called Bella Vista Vineyard in Ballard Canyon they immediately knew it was home. Living among the vines and with sweeping views of Ballard Canyon, Ron and Nancy decided to begin Piazza Family Wines in 2018. With the production facility just a short walk down a well-trodden dirt path they hand crafted the first vintage from their estate.”

“The Piazza’s officially launched the brand in November of 2020 with a range of six wines from their Bella Vista estate vineyard in Ballard Canyon and their sister vineyard Mount Carmel in Sta. Rita Hills. They are focused on honest organic farming, natural winemaking and highlighting the land through their wines.”

“The Bella Vista Vineyard is producing Grenache, Syrah, Graciano, Cabernet Sauvignon, Montepulciano and Sangiovese; while the sister vineyard, Mt. Carmel, is producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. These wines are stunning and elegant yet racy with true varietal definition.”

“As winemaker at Piazza Family Wines, Gretchen is responsible for the entire process, from the vineyard to the barrel to the bottle. With a focus on organic fruit and ingredients, she spends more time in the vineyard than most winemakers. Her vision is to produce minimal interference wines from her favorite grapes, showcasing the fruit purely and precisely. Inspired by gifted winemakers and driven by her own independent spirit, Gretchen pays strict attention to every detail and focuses on the craft of making wine the natural way.”

“Gretchen also has her own label, Luna Hart Wines, with grapes sourced from her favorite, hand-picked vineyards. It’s a boutique wine company specializing in small batch, handcrafted wines also in the Santa Ynez Valley. Gretchen crafts select wines in which she explores the techniques and nuances that continue to stoke her passion for wine.”

Winemaker Gretchen Voelcker continues with us pulling the corks on both Piazza Family Wines and Luna Hart Wines for us.

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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 423, May 1, 2021: Winemaker Alex MacGregor, Saracina Vineyards Mendocino Part One

Saracina Vineyards Mendocino is a Certified California Sustainable (CSWA) winery and vineyard located in Hopland, in the southern part of Mendocino County about 30 miles north of Healdsburg. This 250-acre ranch, which includes a winery and sustainably farmed vineyards, is also home to 140-year-old olive trees, vegetable gardens, beehives, and all manner of bird and wild animal life. The handcrafted, limited production Saracina wines reflect a conscious sense of this beautiful estate in Mendocino County.”

“Originally founded by the husband and wife team of John Fetzer and Patty Rock in 2001, Saracina has always been defined by a strong sense of family. In 2018, Marc Taub took on stewardship of Saracina, upholding the spirit of family ownership that has defined this iconic Mendocino County winery since its inception.”

“Saracina cultivates 40 acres of vineyards on six different parcels. The soils vary greatly from rocky to black clay and gravelly loam, allowing for the cultivation of numerous varieties including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. This area has wet winters and dry summers with very warm days and cool nights providing for ripe, plush fruit to be balanced by firm acidity. Winemaking is led by Alex MacGregor.”

“At Saracina, the modern, eco-friendly tasting room and winery facility blend comfortably into the rural landscape. Saracina’s openness and unspoiled yet well-tended beauty is unique in the Mendocino County, as are the wine caves, the first of their kind in the county dug out of solid rock over a two-year period. By prior appointment throughout the year, the winery also offers Wine Cave Tours, Private Tastings with the Winemaker, and last but not least, Estate Tours in a motorized “Mule.””

The Saracina Vineyards estate is again fully open for visitors with all health and safeky oroticols being observed.

Long-time winemaker Alex MacGregor joins us to gently pull the cork on Saracina Mendocino.

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Show 423, May 1, 2021: Winemaker Alex MacGregor, Saracina Vineyards Mendocino Part Two

Saracina Vineyards Mendocino is a Certified California Sustainable (CSWA) winery and vineyard located in Hopland, in the southern part of Mendocino County about 30 miles north of Healdsburg. This 250-acre ranch, which includes a winery and sustainably farmed vineyards, is also home to 140-year-old olive trees, vegetable gardens, beehives, and all manner of bird and wild animal life. The handcrafted, limited production Saracina wines reflect a conscious sense of this beautiful estate in Mendocino County.”

“Originally founded by the husband and wife team of John Fetzer and Patty Rock in 2001, Saracina has always been defined by a strong sense of family. In 2018, Marc Taub took on stewardship of Saracina, upholding the spirit of family ownership that has defined this iconic Mendocino County winery since its inception.”

“Saracina cultivates 40 acres of vineyards on six different parcels. The soils vary greatly from rocky to black clay and gravelly loam, allowing for the cultivation of numerous varieties including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. This area has wet winters and dry summers with very warm days and cool nights providing for ripe, plush fruit to be balanced by firm acidity. Winemaking is led by Alex MacGregor.”

“At Saracina, the modern, eco-friendly tasting room and winery facility blend comfortably into the rural landscape. Saracina’s openness and unspoiled yet well-tended beauty is unique in the Mendocino County, as are the wine caves, the first of their kind in the county dug out of solid rock over a two-year period. By prior appointment throughout the year, the winery also offers Wine Cave Tours, Private Tastings with the Winemaker, and last but not least, Estate Tours in a motorized “Mule.””

The Saracina Vineyards estate is again fully open for visitors with proper social distancing and all safety protocols in place.

Long-time winemaker Alex MacGregor continues with us artfully pulling the cork on Saracina Mendocino.

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Show 410, January 30, 2021: L’Ecole No. 41 with General Manager Constance Savage and Winemaker Marcus Rafenelli Part One

L’Ecole N° 41 is a third-generation family-owned, artisan winery located in the historic Frenchtown School depicted on their label.  Founded in 1983, L’Ecole is the third winery established in the Walla Walla Valley.  Over the years they have become one of the most prominent and visible Walla Walla Valley wineries with national and international distribution.”

“Their focus is to produce ultra-premium, distinctive wines that reflect the unmistakable typicity of Washington State and the unique terroir of L’Ecole’s Walla Walla Valley vineyards.  They are engaged in growing and making 100% of their wine.  Each bottle is handcrafted with a commitment to quality in the vineyards and the winery.  More than three decades of winemaking experience, ongoing investments in the Walla Walla Estate Ferguson and Seven Hills Vineyards, and long-term relationships with many of the most prominent vineyards in Washington State are central to L’Ecole’s well-known reputation for quality and consistency across their wine portfolio.”

Marty Clubb is the Managing Winemaker and Co-Owner of L’Ecole No 41 with his wife, Megan, and children, Riley and Rebecca. This family-owned winery was founded by Megan’s parents, Jean and Baker Ferguson in 1983 making it the 3rd winery in the Walla Walla Valley. In 1989, Marty and Megan took a leap of faith and moved to Walla Walla from San Francisco, where Marty assumed responsibilities as manager and winemaker of L’Ecole. Since that time, he has led L’Ecole to become one of the most respected wineries in America.”

Among many accomplishments Marty was instrumental in the founding of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance and development of the Walla Walla Community College Center for Enology and Viticulture.

We’ll meet General Manager Constance Savage and Winemaker (and wine educator) Marcus Rafanelli to uncork all that is L’Ecole.

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