A Press Democrat Blog

Tasting Room

The Wine Guide

Got 60 seconds? Boost Your Bubbly IQ.

We know time is the most precious commodity in life, so here’s a quick snippet of information to celebrate Bubbly Season. We begin with a simple question: What’s in a bubble? A tiny bubble is nothing more than a pocket of gas contained by a thin film of liquid. The bubble comes from the carbon dioxide, trapped inside each bottle during a unique, second fermentation. Coke, in contrast, has fat bubbles, thanks to a machine called a carbonator which injects… Read More »

Eleanor Coppola, the filmmaker behind the filmmaker.

Eleanor recently showed her documentary “Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse” in Sonoma. More than 150 people gathered at the Sebastiani Theater last Thursday night to see it through her eyes. The filmmaker behind the filmmaker had a great deal to say about the documentary and the countless obstacles it  reveals about the filming of “Apocalypse Now” while on location in the Philippines in 1976 and 1977. The showing was a fundraiser for the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, where… Read More »

What a trendsetter. A winery that offers a Keg Club

Bravo to Orpheus Wines for its out-of-the-box offering. The winery has a Keg Club for those wanting to buy its wine in kegs, and the Kenwood winery is one of the few in California offering a brand of recyclable kegs called “Keykegs.” This winery is no slacker. The Orpheus, 2013 Mendocino Viognier is a recent wine-of-the-week winner, and the winery offers this wine and red blends in keg. For some pricing perspective, the viognier is $20 a bottle, but if… Read More »

Boost Your Wine IQ

With the chill of winter upon us, I’m devoting this 1 minute blog to syrah. Cool weather, after all, is the season of syrahs and stews. A syrah is a cowboy of a wine, bold, racy and wild, one of the few varietals that can stand up to a hearty stew. In fact, the late British wine writer George Saintsbury described syrah as “the manliest wine” he’d ever tasted. The most dramatic syrahs hail from the northern Rhone Valley in… Read More »

Saralee Kunde is a limited edition.

Kunde, who died earlier this year at the age of 66, was known for her generosity, her deep roots as a grower, and yes, her lively hats. The most sentimental part of Sunday’s Harvest Awards Night was when Saralee Kunde’s black and silver Derby-style hat was auctioned off. While plenty of people bid, with the hope of taking the hat home, the top offer at $2,600 was made by Kunde’s brother, George McClelland of Santa Rosa, Kunde was a Sonoma… Read More »

Napa’s Back with a Spirited Quake Fundraiser

The valley has resumed doing what it does best – celebrating. Napa Valley Rocks is a fundraiser Sept. 25 to 28 to celebrate the rebound from the Aug. 24 earthquake, while raising money for those hardest hit. There are dinners, concerts, a half marathon and more, with all events of the earthquake relief benefiting a group that includes businesses and residents of Napa. The kick-off event Sept. 25 is a dinner called Nourish Napa. It’s from 6 p.m. to 9:30… Read More »

Highlights from Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction, the best of the best

At Sunday’s Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction bidders had an appetite for goodwill, raising a record-breaking $4 million. Pocket change for the well-heeled? To capture the color of the auction – the fashion, the humor, the bidding mentality – here’s this year’s list of “bests,” from best dressed, to best lot, to best dish. For those who went to the auction and for the curious who didn’t, here are some snapshots. Best dressed: Alli Napier was wearing a colorful shirt from… Read More »

No Passport Needed for this Trip to Barcelona

Gloria Ferrer’s Catalan Festival is Saturday and Sunday, and the Sonoma winery wants to transport you to Spain without a transatlantic flight. Sipping wine paired with paella, and taking in flamenco without a trace of jet lag is truly an irresistible offer. To prepare your palate for the fun, here’s what’s best at the winery to pair with your paella: Gloria Ferrer Brut Rosé , 2008 Carneros, $45. Gloria Ferrer Royal Cuvee, 2005 Carneros, $35. But if you prefer still wines… Read More »

Before I Die I Want To …

This is what was written on a colossal chalkboard at Sterling Vineyards in Calistoga, CA, and there was plenty of chalk for people to fill in the blanks. I’ve never heard of soul searching as a prerequisite to wine tasting but there it was — this huge blackboard of hope patiently waiting for people to scrawl their dreams.           Here’s a peek at some of them: See the Eiffel Tower. Embrace all adventure. Write a New… Read More »