A Press Democrat Blog

Tasting Room

The Wine Guide

Gin and tonic, Laurel & Hardy … but tomatoes and wine?

Tomatoes, it seems, have a bullhorn of screeching acid, which makes a wine pairing seem like the odd couple. But there are ways to tame the acid and this past weekend at Kendall-Jackson’s Tomato Festival two savvy tomato-tamers revealed their tricks. K-J Winemaster Randy Ullom and chef Zoi Antonitsas shared their strategies in creating great matches. Ullom, first of all, explained that after nearly two decades of participating in the festival, he’s learned there’s a color code in tomato-wine pairing.… Read More »

Francis Ford Coppola unveils new name for the former Geyser Peak Winery

The Academy Award-winning director, best known for his Godfather series and Apocalypse Now, looked at the Today Show crew and joked “Who’s the director here? I’m the actor today.” Once Coppola was given his cue, he unveiled the new name of the former Geyser Peak Winery – Virginia Dare Winery. Coppola owns this winery and purchased it in 2013. “We’ve waited a long time to do this,” Coppola said. “It’s been a mystery for a year.” The vintner replaced one… Read More »

The Best of the Best at the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction

At Sunday’s Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction bidders were giddy with goodwill, raising a record-breaking $4.5 million. 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 quote. For those who went to the auction and for the curious who didn’t, here are some snapshots. Best dressed: Carter Pettit and his friends from Graham, Texas showed up in Charlie Chaplin outfits… Read More »

The Face behind Fund-the-Future

Meet Briana Lara. The eight-year-old wears jeans, pink sneakers with yellow laces and a t-shirt that says: “Keep Calm and Shine On.” When she smiles, she surprises you with dimples. Briana is one among many in Sonoma County benefiting from Fund-The-Future, the group lot that raised a record-breaking $1.7 million for literacy at last year’s Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction. At Sunday’s auction the bidding for the Fund-the-Future lot is expected to be infectious. Last year paddle-holders bid from $250 to… Read More »

Crowdfunding at the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction?

“Fund-the-Future” is the ultimate in crowdfunding, and this Kickstarteresque effort to raise money for literacy is certain to spiral into seven digits at Sunday’s Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction. This incarnation of crowdfunding happens, for the most part, under the white tent where the goodwill hoopla is infectious. Last year paddle-holders bid from $250 to $100,000, raising $1.7 million. This was the largest group lot raised within the auction’s record-breaking take of $4 million. At the auction, the format in bidding… Read More »

“I don’t think the incident will keep African Americans from Wine Country, but it might keep them from the wine train.”

Mack Roach III, an African American wine enthusiast, said he’s concerned about the recent Napa Wine Train incident. The radiation oncologist at UCSF in San Francisco was just in Wine Country on Saturday. He joined 100 other African Americans at Vision Cellars’ Greens Cook Off. “I don’t think the incident will keep African Americans from Wine Country, but it might keep them from the wine train,” Roach said. The incident in question happened over the weekend when the staff of the… Read More »

Top five earthquake preparedness tips for vintners

Several vintners I spoke to weren’t affected by Sunday’s tremor – the 3.92-magnitude earthquake with its epicenter northeast of The Geysers. But this jolt, coupled with the one-year anniversary of the South Napa earthquake, has many vintners taking action. Here’s a short list of tips from vintners: 1)        Talk to insurance brokers about a new earthquake policy for wineries – London Wine Stock & Barrel Coverage. It’s reportedly more reasonable than past options. 2)        For vintners who store barrels on… Read More »

Beware. Green wine drinkers detest greenwashing.

Greenwashing? Greenwashing is the practice of just paying lip service to environmental issues, and for the record, Millennials loathe it. “They are always on the lookout for corporate hypocrisy,” according to Forbes magazine. How does this translate to the green wine drinker? I recently asked several of these green palates, age 33 and under, about their environmental preferences. I was interested in what impressed them most because green comes in countless flavors: biodynamic farming, organic certifications, solar panels, benefits for… Read More »

Insider tip for the everyday wine drinker

A friend I know said he routinely checks over the wine merchandise at the Grocery Outlet on Fourth Street in Santa Rosa. He tells me it’s the best way to keep the economics of being an everyday wine drinker in check. When I stopped in I was surprised by the transformation. Practically one fourth of the store is devoted to wine with upwards of 500 labels, and the best variety for the everyday wine drinker — value wines that over-deliver… Read More »

Request: Tips for how to best enjoy the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend

With the event quickly approaching – Sept. 4-6- the vintners are no doubt prepping for their zany auction skits, and we’re preparing too. We’re working on a story that will give people the best “insider’s guide” for the weekend events. We’re asking you to lend a hand by sending your tips and pointers for how to best enjoy any or all of the trio of events. They include Sonoma Starlight at Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville Sept. 4; Taste… Read More »