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A Press Democrat Blog

Tasting Room

The Wine Guide

The 1976 Paris Tasting Revisited

A wine tasting competition at Bacigalupi Vineyards in Healdsburg on Sunday, May 1, 2016 paid homage to the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, when California wines were unwittingly chosen as winners in the competition. (Chris Hardy / For The Press Democrat)

Sonoma County’s Bacigalupi family celebrated the 40-year anniversary of the 1976 Paris Tasting Saturday, by paying homage to its victorious grapes. These Bacigalupi grapes, you recall, accounted for 40% of the bottling in the winning white – the Chateau Montelena 1973 Chardonnay. The burnt red Volkswagen truck used to transport those winning grapes was on the premises, a testament to the valor of Sonoma County fruit. Helen Bacigalupi, now 90, used the truck to make 5 trips over Hwy. 128… Read More »

Behind the Scenes at the North Coast Wine Challenge

Judge Ashley Holland tastes a wine in a category of unusual red varietals during the North Coast Wine Challenge judging at the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country Hotel in Santa Rosa, on Tuesday, April 12, 2016. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

The most fascinating part of judging in a wine competition is finding wines that wow you. But equally compelling is the table talk with fellow judges in-between flights of wine. This chatter, this free-flowing conversation, is intriguing because it reveals juicy morsels, striking little bits of life. For instance I learned that my fellow panelist, winemaker Jesse Katz, had an interesting “ah-ha” moment in 2008 when he was assistant winemaker for Napa Valley’s Screaming Eagle. Katz had just sold his… Read More »

Art, wine and the muse behind the pairing

Creative artists have definitely kept their appointment with their muse, and they’re set to deliver. With more than 80 events during Napa Valley’s Arts in April, clearly the artists have been prolific. Expect Highway 29 in Napa Valley to be populated by wine enthusiasts who double as art lovers. There will be plenty for them to see and do, with pop up exhibits, art installations, live performances, tours and tastings. The Napa Valley Arts Council has highlighted 25 “spotlight events”… Read More »

Test Your Wine IQ: Why the lovefest between pork and pinot?

Pigs & Pinot at Healdsburg’s Dry Creek Kitchen this past weekend raised more than $150,000 for local charities and Share Our Strength by celebrating the duo. So what is it that makes this pairing so compelling, not to mention profitable? The experts say it can be pared down to one reason: range. The styles of pinot noir are virtually countless but asked to describe the scope of it, vintner Daryl Groom gave it a go. “Styles for pinot are from… Read More »

Pigs & Pinot: Delectable Goodwill

Terese and George Kemble of Saratoga were at the Pigs & Pinot Gala Saturday night at Healdsburg’s Dry Creek Kitchen. Each savored the 5-course pork-centric meal paired with 10 pinot noirs. It was nothing less than a feast for pinot noir-lovers who crave all things pork – from pig’s tail to roasted pork belly and everything in-between. Pigs & Pinot, in its 11th year, celebrates this delectable pairing. The festivities began Friday night with the Taste of Pigs & Pinot… Read More »

A Lake County wine auction in Napa? You bet.

The wine auction for Lake County — Lake County Rising — is Sunday March 20 in Napa to fund fire relief efforts. For the back story, here’s a Q & A with Terry Dereniuk, executive director of Lake County Winery Association. Dereniuk also gives us a peek at the top auction lots. Q: How did you pull off having your charity auction – Lake County Rising – at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena? A: “This is a… Read More »

What to Know About Sonoma County’s 2016 Wine Road Barrel Tasting

The tasting, which unfolds this weekend and again next, is expected to draw thousands of people to the backroads of Sonoma County. For many Millennials, ages 21 to 31, the barrel tasting has become a “Spring Rite of Passage.” Tyler Jackson, 25, is the owner, wine educator and designated driver of Napa Native Wine Tours, a one man shop that’s successful in drawing Millennials. Jackson has already been to the tasting to work up his itinerary for the weekend. He’ll… Read More »

Oscar loot includes a Sonoma County wine

The Estate 1856 Bordeaux Blend Dessert Wine made its way into a gift bag for the well-heeled prepping for the Oscars this week. Nominees, directors and producers were among those at an event Tuesday called the Red Carpet Style & Beauty Event at the West Los Angeles Hotel in Westwood. People grazed on food in-between getting a massage and their hair done. There was a food and beverage lounge featuring Wolfgang Puck Co., Skinnygirl Teas, and the Perfect Bite Co.… Read More »

SRJC Wine Classic celebrates 2 county favorites

The Sonoma County wine world was under one roof on Sunday – or so it seemed. The Who’s Who came to the SRJC Wine Classic to honor Journalist Gayle LeBaron and Chef John Ash. The event raised more than $40,000 for SRJC wine, culinary arts, and hospitality student scholarships.   It’s not surprising that the Lawrence A. Bertolini Student Center was packed with people to celebrate two of Sonoma County’s favorites. LeBaron’s columns, in the Press Democrat for decades, schooled… Read More »