Show 300, December 1, 2018: Founding Winemaker Dieter Cronje, Presqu’ile Winery, Santa Maria

Dieter CronjeLocated in the heart of Santa Barbara County’s Santa Maria Valley, Presqu’ile (pronounced press-KEEL) is a small, family-run winery dedicated to crafting exceptional cool-climate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Made using grapes from their own sustainably certified Presqu’ile Vineyard, and from a handful of the finest winegrowing sites in the valley, Presqu’ile wines capture the essence of their vineyards and vintage, and have earned acclaim for their elegance and balance.

Situated high atop a hill, with stunning ocean and vineyard views, Presqu’ile offers one of California’s most memorable wine tasting experiences. Join the Murphy Family, and enjoy a taste of southern hospitality on California’s beautiful Central Coast.

“A cool-climate Pinot Noir specialist, and one of the Central Coast’s rising star winemakers, Dieter Cronje brings a unique perspective, gained in two hemispheres, to Presqu’ile. As the winery’s founding winemaker, Dieter had the rare opportunity to contribute his insights to the original planting of Presqu’ile’s 73-acre estate vineyard, an experience that gave him an intimate knowledge of the vineyard’s rich diversity.”

“He also collaborated with Presqu’ile’s founders, the Murphy family, during the design of Presqu’ile’s purpose-built winery. In this gravity-flow winery, Dieter preserves the vineyard’s diversity by working in small lots, and applying a gentle, minimalist approach that accentuates the character of the vineyards. The resulting wines offer the purity, elegance and signature spice that have made Santa Maria Valley famous among connoisseurs of great cool-climate Pinot Noir.”

Founding Winemaker Dieter Cronje pulls the cork for us.

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Show 217, April 1, 2017: Aurelio Montes Sr., Montes Wines, Chile

Aurelio Montes SrIn 1988, four enterprising partners (including winemaker Aurelio Montes Sr.), sharing a common dream, embarked on a project to make high quality Chilean wines at a time when, strange as it may sound, such an idea was considered a high-risk venture.

Starting from the ground up with modest resources Vina Montes led what became a new wave of producers making sustainable, premium-quality wines, and adhering to solid management principals.

“Considered one of the most able practitioners in the cellar, Winemaker Aurelio Montes has always maintained that 80 per cent of good wine comes from the vineyards and only 20 per cent from the cellar. So vineyard care is paramount, enabling us to produce world-class wines. From the vineyard rows to the cellar, we meticulously study every variable in the winemaking process. Our commitment to method and process is almost obsessive. Nothing is left to chance.”

Aurelio Montes Sr., President of Montes Winery, is our guest.

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Show 184, August 13, 2016: Erick Allen, Winemaker and Proprietor, Ascension Cellars, Paso Robles

Erick AllenAscension Cellars is a premium, boutique winery specializing in barrel-select, handcrafted Rhône and Bordeaux-style wines from the central coast of California.

Ascension Cellars began when friends were enjoying a glass of wine together one summer day. “You know, this is good,” they said, “but there is something missing.” And so, the quest for something better began. They wanted wines with elegance, body, and grace that stimulated the senses. They wanted wines that they would be proud to offer to their family and friends.

What followed was good fortune by the barrel. Vast support and inspiration came not only from knowledgeable mentors in Lake Arrowhead, who have been making wine together for decades, but also from Paso Robles winemakers who gave so generously of their time and expertise.

“We source our grapes and make our wine at Cass Vineyard. We are inspired by their focus on low yield, premium quality fruit as well as the impeccable care of their vineyards. Together, we share a love of the environment and promote sustainability of nature’s resources.”

“Our love of French Rhône and Bordeaux wines influence every wine we craft. We believe in a limited, light-handed approach to winemaking, allowing the true typicity of each varietal and the terroir of the vineyard to shine through as the star of each vintage, preserving the wine’s link to its place of origin. This allows us to create wines that are distinctive and hypnotic with personality, charm, balance and grace.”

“We embrace the use of stainless steel, cold core fermentation for our white wines, showcasing the floral tropical notes, fruit flavors, bright minerality and acidity of each varietal. Once our white wines are blended, we preserve these qualities by aging the wines in neutral, French oak barrels with limited contact to oxygen prior to bottling.”

“We barrel age our red wines for two years in French and American Appalachian Oak barrels where the use of new oak is done sparingly. We blend our Rhône and Bordeaux varietals to produce wines that are more complex, better balanced, and richer than single, varietal wines.”

Winemaker & Proprietor Erick Allen is our guest.

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Show 168, April 23, 2016: Four Brix Winery, Ventura, CA

Gary Stewart of Four Brix WineryThe Four Brix Winery in Ventura grew out of three couples’ hobby of making premium wine at home for their appreciative friends. The Winery represents a throwback to the days of blended wines made in California. Winemaker and Partner Gary Stewart uncorks it for us.

“We believe that California offers the best grapes in the world, but not all varietals grow best in every area of the State. So, we source more than a dozen single varietals from different vineyards covering at least five separate appellations to make our California blended wines.”

The name Four Brix pays tribute to the four wine regions we have traveled to and experienced the beauty, culture, and manner in which blended wine fits into everyday life : France, Italy, Spain, and our home, California.”

The enthusiastic Wine Club Members, The BrixHeads, are active participants in promoting the Winery. They even name individual wine barrels.

“Not just another Brix in the Wall.”

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Show 163, March 12, 2016: Winemaker Tim Bell, Dry Creek Vineyard, Healdsburg

Tim Bell of Dry Creek Vineyard“The history of Dry Creek Vineyard is a long and colorful one. Founded in 1972 by David S. Stare, Dry Creek Vineyard paved the way for a renaissance of winemaking and viticulture in the Dry Creek Valley. Before his arrival, the Dry Creek Valley was little more than a few family farms and prune orchards. It was Dave’s vision to start a Loire Valley inspired winery, which triggered a viticultural reawakening in northern Sonoma County.

Without a doubt, David Stare is a pioneer. Heading west in the late 1960s, he personified the character and work ethic of early Gold Rush pioneers. Inspired by his trips to the Loire Valley, he headed west to California to start his own family winery.

Upon his arrival, Dave began taking winemaking classes at UC Davis as a graduate student. On the weekends, he spent time looking at vineyard land from Monterey to Mendocino. It was during one of those weekend trips that fate drew Dave to the Dry Creek Valley. When he saw an old prune orchard across the street from the Dry Creek General Store, Dave realized that he had found his dream location.

He purchased the orchard and began planting vines. Captivated by his memories of Loire-style wines, Sauvignon Blanc seemed destined to figure prominently in the Dry Creek Vineyard portfolio. However, several famed vineyard specialists advised him against planting Sauvignon Blanc. Always looking to push the envelope, Dave planted the varietal anyway and the rest is history.

Today, our second-generation family owned winery continues to evolve and grow to meet the demands of a global wine marketplace. The primary mission of our winery is to produce distinctive wines that overdeliver on quality. For more than 40 years, this pursuit of winemaking excellence has led to many international awards and accolades. With a loyal following of wine club members and customers, the future of Dry Creek Vineyard has never been brighter.”

Winemaker Tim Bell is our guest.

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Show 163, March 12, 2016: Winemaker Tim Bell, Dry Creek Vineyard, Healdsburg Continues…

Tim Bell of Dry Creek VineyardDry Creek Vineyard was the first winery established in the Dry Creek Valley area of California after Prohibition. It was founder David Stare’s vision to plant Sauvignon Blanc grapes that firmly cemented the winery’s legacy as one of California’s most important wineries. It’s still proudly Family-owned.

“Our wines show that Sonoma County and Dry Creek Valley can compete with any wine growing region in the world. Since 1972, our winemaking style has been to produce classic varietals that define their varietal category. From our signature offerings to our single vineyard and limited release wines, each bottling personifies our family’s passion to produce elegant, balanced and food-friendly wines. The wine from Dry Creek Vineyard reflects our desire for excellence.”

“Our Signature wines represent our passion for producing balanced wines that are true to the terroir in which they are grown. Each of our signature wines offers wonderful intensity of fruit, supple texture and a rich mouthfeel which make them easy to enjoy and extremely food friendly. At Dry Creek Vineyard we product a wide array of wines, many under $20, making them affordable for almost any special occasion or celebration.”

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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 136, August 29, 2015: Tara Gomez, GM & Winemaker, Kita Wines

Tara GomezTara Gomez, the Winemaker and General Manager of Kita Wines in Santa Barbara County, is no stranger to the show. Kita, a small premium winery located in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley within the Santa Barbara County AVA, is unusually owned by the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. It’s one of the few Indian-owned wineries that is actually managed by the owning Tribe. Tara is a Chumash Tribe member trained in enology at Cal State Fresno.

In 2010, The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians purchased Camp 4 Vineyard and Tara’s dream of giving back to her tribe became true when she was hired as Winemaker. Tara’s understanding of the site, soils and grapes allow her to shepherd the grapes with minimal input into elegant, balanced wines with lower alcohol content.

The word “Kita” means “Our Valley Oak” in the Santa Ynez Chumash native language of Samala.

At the recent Los Angeles International Wine Competition, Kita Wines were awarded 2 Gold Medals, 3 Silver Medals, and 2 Bronze medals. Pretty impressive for a tiny boutique winery with an annual case production of 2,500.

You can taste Kita’s Gold Medal wines at the Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona through September 27th. They are the Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Ynez Valley 2012 and the White Rhone Blend, T’aya, Santa Ynez Valley 2013.

Kita is already harvesting their wine grapes.

They do have a tasting room in Lompoc. It’s a small operation so by appointment only, please.

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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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Show 95, November 1, 2014: Soliste and Chef Claude Koeberle

Claude Koeberle of Soliste WinesSoliste wines are the creation of Claude Koeberle, an acclaimed French master chef with impressive local credentials. Earlier in his career he was the executive chef at both Ma Maison and L’Orangerie. Limited releases of Pinot Noirs are their signature. Soliste wines are only available at select restaurants and direct from the winery.

Claude formed Soliste in 2005. His first release was Sonatera Vineyard Pinot Noir. He uses Old World Burgundian theory to create wines with finesse and balance that truly compliment extraordinary food. In Burgundy, a winemaker often reserves a barrel for their family and friends. They call this special barrel Soliste.

On Wednesday evening, November 12th Chef Florent Marneau (one of Orange County’s very best) is working with Claude Koeberle to present a Soliste Wine Dinner (five course tasting menu) at Marche Moderne in the Penthouse at South Coast Plaza. You can be sure this will be an extraordinary evening! A limited release Soliste wine will be matched with each course.

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