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 381, July 11, 2020: Founder & Winemaker Ben Papapietro, Papapietro Perry Winery Part One

Ben Papapietro of Papapietro Perry WineryPapapietro Perry Winery is a boutique, family-owned winery located in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley, which has specialized in making remarkable, classic Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, as well as a small selection of other varietals from Sonoma such as Zinfandel, Chardonnay and Rosé. Committed to quality for more than twenty years, Ben and Yolanda Papapietro and Bruce and Renae Perry, two couples who began making wine as a hobby in a San Francisco basement in 1980, have consistently produced small lots of award-winning and critically-acclaimed wines, handmade from harvest to punch down.”

Papapietro Perry produces annually 8,000 cases of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Rose. The Appellations are Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma Coast and Anderson Valley.

Winemaker and Founder Ben Papapietro pulls the cork on Papapietro Perry for us.

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Show 381, July 11, 2020: Founder & Winemaker Ben Papapietro, Papapietro Perry Winery Part Two

Ben Papapietro of Papapietro Perry WineryPapapietro Perry Winery is a boutique, family-owned winery located in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley, which has specialized in making remarkable, classic Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, as well as a small selection of other varietals from Sonoma such as Zinfandel, Chardonnay and Rosé. Committed to quality for more than twenty years, Ben and Yolanda Papapietro and Bruce and Renae Perry, two couples who began making wine as a hobby in a San Francisco basement in 1980, have consistently produced small lots of award-winning and critically-acclaimed wines, handmade from harvest to punch down.

Papapietro Perry produces annually 8,000 cases of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Rose. The Appellations are Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma Coast and Anderson Valley.

“Papapietrio Perry Wine is in good company with many exceptional Sonoma County winetasting experiences in Dry Creek Valley. The winery is housed in an antique and authentic, renovated fruit processing barn at the historic Timber Crest Farms Collective near Healdsburg. A rare “Past & Present” seated wine tasting focused on past and current releases of Pinot Noir, as well as carefully-curated cheese and wine pairings, are both available by appointment while enjoying views of Dry Creek Valley from the winery’s elegant and covered outdoor hospitality and entertaining space. When the weather is inclement, tastings are also available in the winery barrel room.”

Winemaker and Founder Ben Papapietro pours a 2nd glass of Papapietro Perry Pinot Noir for us.

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Show 352, December 21, 2019: Literary Libations – What To Drink With What You Read by Amira Makansi Part One

Amira Makansi of Literary LibationsWant to know what to drink with all your favorite books? May we suggest Literary Libations – What To Drink With What You Read by Amira Makansi.

“A bubbly, boozy French 75 with The Great Gatsby. A luscious Chocolatini with Bridget Jones’s Diary. Old vine California Zinfandel with The Grapes of Wrath. Lager (by the pitcher, from your local dive) with Fight Club. Refreshing citrus shandy with Their Eyes Were Watching God. And don’t you dare open Dracula without a Bloody Mary near at hand!”

“Now book lovers everywhere can raise the perfect toast to Shakespeare, Austen, Kerouac, Woolf, and more. With drink pairing recommendations for nearly 200 classic and contemporary works of fiction, including non-alcoholic pairings for kids and young adult books, Literary Libations is a necessary addition to bookshelves and bar tops everywhere.”

We continue our spirited conversation with author Amira Makansi.

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Show 306, January 12, 2019: William Lewis, Founding Partner, The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar, Newport Beach

Sir William Lewis of the Winery Restaurant and Wine Bar in TustinThe upcoming Newport Beach Restaurant Week is a 14-day dining event that takes place January 14 -27, 2019. The event showcases Newport Beach as one of Orange County’s premier dining destinations offering diners a wide variety of culinary experiences. Participating restaurants offer special prix-fixe menus with lunches available for just $10, $15, $20, or $25, and dinners for $20, $30, $40 or $50.

Founding Partner William Lewis (also the resident wine guru) of The Winery Restaurant and Wine Bar (a participating restaurant in Newport Beach Restaurant Week) joins us with a preview.

As William points out there are few restaurants in Newport Beach who can rival their Newport Bay view! Their elaborate, 4-course dinner menu priced at $50 is a great value. The guest has choices within every course. Think Zinfandel Braised Angus Beef Short Rib as the Main…

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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 126, June 13, 2015: Camron King, Executive Director, Lodi Wine Commission

Camron King of the Lodi Winegrape AssociationThe about-to-be-discovered “Lodi Wine Country” is one of California’s major winegrowing regions. It’s located 100 miles east of San Francisco near the San Joaquin/Sacramento River Delta, south of Sacramento and west of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Lodi is characterized by rural atmosphere where wineries and farms run by 4th and 5th generation families operate in tandem with a new group of vintners who have brought creative winemaking and cutting–edge technology to the region.

In Lodi, grape growing is inextricably woven into the culture : the city of Lodi’s police department prominently features a grape cluster in its logo, and high school teams are named after grape varieties.

Lodi has been a major winegrape growing region for over 150 years. Unlike many U.S. wine regions, Lodi actually prospered during Prohibition and as such has been a continuous source of wine grapes since the 1850s. In fact, when early trappers wandered into what is now Lodi, they called one stream they discovered “Wine Creek” because of the proliferation of wild vines found there. As more and more Italian and German immigrants made their homes in Lodi, vinifera varieties such as Zinfandel, Tokay, and Alicante appeared by the 1880s.

Camron King, the Executive Director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission joins us with all the exciting 411.

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Show 125, June 6, 2015: Kyle Meyer, Co-Proprietor, The Wine Exchange

Kyle Meyer of Wine ExchangeKyle Meyer, co-proprietor of the Wine Exchange in Santa Ana, is one of our on-point, resident wine authorities. He’s back with us to discuss old vine wines. You see this designation on a lot of wine labels. There is, unfortunately, no legal definition for “old.” It’s typically 40 to 50 years old. What should the casual wine aficionado know about buying and enjoying old vine wines?

Some grape vines in California can still produce modest clusters of fruit after 125 years. The yields are very small. Locally there are some small clusters of old vine Zinfandel growing in Cucamonga that are farmed.

Warm and dry conditions add to the longevity of grape vines. Overseas The Rhone region of France, Australia, and Spain are well-known for areas of old vine wines.

On Saturday afternoon, June 13th Wine Exchange is hosting their Grand Re-Opening Tasting Alley Party and Project Hope Alliance Community Fundraiser in Santa Ana. The festivities include the outside Tasting Alley Party as well as the in-store, door–busting deals.

For $40, guests will experience upwards of 30 wine tastings as well as a sandwich or burger from local TK Burgers. Proceeds from the Tasting Alley are donated to Share Our Wine Foundation and their direct beneficiary, Project Hope Alliance.

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