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NorCal Wine Has Moved

Hi! The content here is no longer being updated. Please visit my new site at It has fresh, new content five days a week. Content from this site is gradually being migrated to the... Read more...

'Tis the Season to be Zinful

'Tis the Season to be Zinful

During this season, with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head, my thoughts often segue to Zinfandel. The soft and jammy berry fruit, welcoming spice and touch of sweetness goes wonderfully with... Read more...

New Tasting Rooms & a Grand Opening in Lodi

I’ve written numerous times about the increasing quality of wine coming out of Lodi. What I haven’t said much about is how the tasting room scene has been improving. My bad. There have been a number... Read more...

How You Can Contribute to Earthquake Relief in Napa

It’s been easy for some people from outside the immediate area to make jokes about “free run juice” and “air-lifts of water crackers,” but last week’s earthquake in southern Napa devastated... Read more...

A Tale of Two Conferences

In my last article, Cats and Dogs Blogging Together, I said there are two species of blogger: career bloggers and hobbyist bloggers. The North American Wine Bloggers’ Conferences could serve each... Read more...

Cats and Dogs Blogging Together

There are two species of wine bloggers. Within each species, there are many breeds—reporter, diarist, taster, storyteller, etc.—which have analogs in the other. But the two species are very different... Read more...

Getting the Wine Bloggers Conference We Deserve

I attended this year’s North American Wine Bloggers’ Conference in Santa Barbara last week. This was the fifth WBC I’ve attended. Some parts of the conference were truly excellent, many were interesting... Read more...

New White Wines and Rosés from Rutherford's Day in the Dust

Last Wednesday afternoon, the Rutherford Dust Society held their annual tasting for trade and media at Inglenook. Roughly 40 wineries were represented. I tasted 54+ wines (in addition to those from the... Read more...

6 More California Rhone Wines to Try at Rhone Rangers

It’s time for one more brief list of wines for you to seek out at the Rhone Rangers tasting this Sunday. Get your Grand Tasting tickets here and don’t forget to use the discount code: GT–20... Read more...

Lodi Zinfandel Goes Native

Lodi is well-known for Zinfandel. Of particular note are its many acres of old vines. Thick-trunked and twisted after all these years, they look more like short trees than grape vines. The fruit... Read more...

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Wine of the Day

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2010 Moone-Tsai Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

2010 Moone-Tsai Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

The exotic-sounding Moone-Tsai is a collaboration of Napa Valley business veterans (Mike Moone, Mary Ann Tsai and Larry Tsai) and star winemaker Philippe Melka. The flagship wine is Cor-Leonis, a luxurious... Read more...

2009 Hawk and Horse Cabernet Sauvignon

2009 Hawk and Horse Cabernet Sauvignon

The Hawk and Horse wines come from a sloping, 18-acre estate vineyard that reaches up to 2,200 feet in Lake County's Red Hills AVA. The deep red, volcanic soil is peppered with silicon-based crystals known... Read more...

Four from Falcone Family Vineyards

After many years of making wine together and separately at prominent wineries, Helen and John Falcone launched their own project, Falcone Family Vineyards, in 2002. Their eight-acre vineyard, about seven... Read more...

2010 Skinner Vineyards Estate Mourvedre, El Dorado

The potential for great wine growing in the Sierra Foothills is massive, particularly for Rhone varieties. In recent years, quality in the bottle has started delivering on that. Skinner Vineyards and Winery... Read more...

2012 Masut Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir, Mendocino County

Bobby Fetzer managed the vineyards and bought grapes for his family’s Fetzer Vineyards,[1] founded in 1968, until the business was sold to Brown-Forman in 1992. Four years later, he bought 1,500 acres... Read more...

2010 Gallica Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Holy cow, this a gorgeous wine. I tasted—no, I drank—it last night at The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards. [The restaurant is offering 50% off all bottles on their wine list this month, so now’s the... Read more...

2011 Harney Lane Old Vine Zinfandel Lizzy James Vineyard Lodi

Lodi is well-known for old vine Zinfandel with many vines planted more than a century ago. Some of Lodi’s grape-growing families have participated in as many vintages themselves. The Schnaidt-Mettler... Read more...

2006 Santana Supernatural Rosé by Mumm Napa

Mumm Napa has been making sparkling wines in concert with Carlos Santana for several years now. 100% of Santana’s proceeds from the sales go to agencies helping to prevent and/or remedy youth substance... Read more...

2011 Jekel Riesling Monterey and 2011 Jekel Pinot Noir Santa Barbara

Riesling is one of the wine world’s best values. Whether the bottle comes from Germany, Australia, Alsace, Washington State, New York or a cool region in California, you can consistently get more flavor... Read more...

2012 Matthiasson Chardonnay Linda Vista Vineyard Napa Valley

My first experience with Matthiasson wines was six or seven years ago. Jill and Steve Matthiasson hosted a crowd of wine bloggers/writers/tweeters to an al fresco buffet and tasting at their home/orchard/vineyard... Read more...

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Art & Wine: Tasting With the North Coast Rhone Rangers

Members of the North Coast Chapter of the Rhone Rangers are joining together to offer wine afficiandos a chance to taste Rhone wines from 15 wineries. The event is from 3-7 p.m. on Tuesday,... Read more...

Resonance Vineyard Sold to Maison Louis Jadot

Resonance Vineyard Sold to Maison Louis Jadot

Resonance Vineyard is in Oregon's Willamette Valley, not northern California. But it's a vineyard of significance and it's sale to Maison Louis Jadot is a stunner as Jadot has no other properties outside... Read more...

Araujo Estate Wine Dinner

Araujo Estate, one of Napa Valley’s most lauded wineries was just purchased by the owner of Bordeaux’ Chateau Latour. The move came as a surprise to many—the offer was even a surprise to Bart and... Read more...

Tickets remain for Sunday's West of West Wine Tasting

3rd Annual West of West Wine Festival 2013 showcases acclaimed West Sonoma Coast wines in weekend long event at The Barlow facility in Sebastapol. 40 top producers and growers will host the trade... Read more...

Wine Market Council Initiates U.S. Wine Club Study

New study will provide members with valuable wine club data   St. Helena, CA, July 29, 2013—Wine Market Council, the non-profit association of grape growers, wine producers, importers, wholesalers,... Read more...

La Follette Wines Launches Friday Night Music Series

Local Bands To Play at La Follette Tasting Room at The Barlow in Sebastopol   Sebastopol, CA (July 29, 2013) – La Follette Wines is adding to the attraction of its new tasting room at The... Read more...

Green Winery Opens Tasting Room at Solar Living Institute

In what I suspect is the first such tie-in ever, Mendocino County's Parducci Wine Cellars has opened a tasting room within the Real Goods Solar store at the Solar Living Institute in Hopland. This co-location... Read more...

Hess Collection Acquires MacPhail Family Wines

Small-lot Pinot Noir specialist James MacPhail has been producing high-end wines under the MacPhail Family Wines label since 2002. The wines, predominantly vineyard-designates from Sonoma Coast and... Read more...

Calling Everyone Called Raymond

I don't normally push winery promos. And, actually, I'm not pushing this one. But I do think it's fun. And it gives me an excuse to use the video clip above, for which I'm totally sure you'll thank me.... Read more...

Now Astronauts have an Excuse to Drink Red Wine on the Job

A study by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology indicates that consumption of resveratrol can slow the effects that lack of exercise has on the human body. Resveratrol is found... Read more...

Gallo Buys Edna Valley Vineyard and Winery

E & J Gallo has signed an agreement to purchase Edna Valley Vineyards and Winery. The winery is currently owned by Diageo and Paragon Vineyard Company in a joint venture. Edna Valley Vineyards sources... Read more...

Crunk and Disorderly

An American is stirring up trouble in the UK. It’s not some out-of-control tourist though, or even an ex-pat one-word-named musician. It’s a drink. In a can. Read more...

French Wine Consumption Dropped 42% in the Past 60 Years

French wine consumption has dropped by 42% in just two generations. France is arguably the most famous country in the world for producing wine and for drinking it. But now, only 16.5% of the French... Read more...

Train to Produce Wine

The musical group Train has announced that it will be offering "Drops of Jupiter" Petite Sirah. Read more...

What's Worse than Bad Counterfeit Wine

Photo: David Haberthür You've heard about scams in which fake bottles of 1945 Lafite or the like are sold at auction to rich people for massive sums. But wine counterfeiters aren't proud. They'll rip... Read more...

Winery News

News: December 26, 2009

At 95, Peter Mondavi Reflects on Life in Wine: From Prohibition to Great Recession, Peter Mondavi has lived a full life in wine - Michelle Locke, ABC News

Phelps leads winemaking effort at Swanson - David Stoneberg, St. Helena Star


Marko Karakasevic of Charbay Winery & Distillery becomes Master Distiller (press release)

St. Helena, CA - Spring, 2010 - Marko Karakasevic has earned the title ‘Master Distiller’ following a colorful 26 year apprenticeship under his father, Miles Karakasevic, who is a 12th generation European Grand Master Distiller. The family owns Charbay Winery & Distillery, an independent artisan winery and distillery based in the Napa Valley. Miles held the standards high and it was up to Marko to prove himself.

To become a Master Distiller, Marko was to source, distill and bring to market a spirit equal to or better than spirits he’d distilled under his Master. Marko’s thesis is a whiskey called Doubled & Twisted, which is an old distilling term referring to a critical point in the second distillation. When he told his father he had sold his first case, Miles, beamed with pride, shook his hand and said: “Congratulations, Marko. You are now a Master Distiller. Let’s drink some whiskey and smoke cigars.”

Marko’s apprenticeship included 26 years around the family Copper Alambic pot stills. Together, Miles & Marko fermented wines, distilled brandy, made ports (fortified with their own brandies), liqueurs and distilled grappa, pastis, vodkas, rums, Pachanga, whiskey and their latest release: Charbay Tequila which they personally distill in Mexico. They are hands on distillers.

It was Marko’s idea to produce Charbay fresh fruit vodkas back in 1998 when he was just 25 years old. The 100% whole fruit vodkas went national. The Food & Wine article by Pete Wells fueled the buzz that these vodkas truly captured the fresh fruit flavors. They woke up the world to a new category of artisan vodkas. Marko was honored with the Vodka Visionary award by Food & Wine magazine. Gourmet Magazine said they “…tasted better than the real fruit…”

Charbay is family owned and operated. They work with restaurateurs across the country including Employees Only, NYC; Michael Mina, S.F.; Rock House, Bahamas to the International Aman Resorts.

Marko’s thesis is called Doubled & Twisted Light Whiskey. He bottled his first release in 1 liter jugs. It retails California for $58.

CHARBAY WINERY & DISTILLERY was started in 1983 by Miles & Susan Karakasevic. Miles is a 12th generation winemaker & Grand Master Distiller from Europe. His family carries on a lifetime of artisan skills combined with the ‘can do’ spirit of California and the wonderful fruits available. Son Marko, who grew up in St. Helena, is the 13th generation winemaker/distiller in the family. Come taste the wines & ports of Charbay, an independently owned and operated winery & distillery.

Contact: Susan Karakasevic
Phone: 707-963-9327, ext. 16
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Quivira Vineyards Names Hugh Chappelle Winemaker


Quivira Vineyards & Winery, a Dry Creek Valley winery with a strong committment to biodynamic viticulture, announced today that they've hired Hugh Chappelle to serve as winemaker. Chappelle replaces Stephen Canter who is leaving to take a winemaking position in Oregon. Canter had joined Quivira in 2006 when the winery was purchased by Peter Kight.

Hugh Chappelle's most recent position was at Lynmar Estate in the Russian River Valley. He had served as their director of winemaking for roughly four years. Prior to that, he was winemaker at Flowers Vineyard & Winery for four years. Before his time at Flowers, he served as winemaker at Madrona Vineyards in the Sierra Foothills.

Quivira Vineyards' best known wines are Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc. Their Mourvedre, Grenache and Petite Sirah have also been receiving acclaim recently.


Napa Valley’s Newest Tasting Room to Open Friday, July 16

NAPA, CALIF., July 1, 2010 – Valley Gate Vineyards (“Valley Gate”) of Napa Valley announced it will celebrate its official grand opening on Thursday, July 15, with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. Representatives of the Napa Chamber of Commerce, elected officials and members of Napa’s business community will welcome the winery to America’s celebrated wine country. Beginning on Friday, July 16, Valley Gate’s tasting room will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Located on the southern edge of Napa Valley in Jamieson Canyon, the sundrenched hills that make up Valley Gate were once part of a sprawling cattle and horse ranch that dominated the landscape for generations. Cattle and horses blanketed the ranch as it spanned from Rancho Petaluma on the west to Rancho Suisun on the east and down south to San Pablo Bay. More than 100 acres of Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet grapevines now blanket the countryside that is now Valley Gate Vineyards.

“Located just 55 miles west of downtown Sacramento, we are one of the first wineries that visitors see as they enter the wine country,” said President Montgomery Paulsen. “Valley Gate is already one of the region’s premier custom crush facilities and we are anxious to open our own tasting room and begin hosting unique special events throughout the property.”

In May, Valley Gate renewed its relationship with local custom crush winery and winemaking firm Bin to Bottle. The Napa based firm provides management services to Valley Gate’s advanced custom crush winery and crush-to-consumer services. Continuing its relationship with Valley Gate allows Bin to Bottle to process significantly more lots of 20 tons or larger. Bin to Bottle, founded in 2006, has seen its custom crushing volume surge over 150% in the last three years due to the growing demand for high quality custom crush services in the region.

Valley Gate also announced the appointment of Lessly Van Houtan as the new winery’s tasting room manager. Van Houtan has more than ten years of experience in the wine hospitality industry including managing the daily operations of tasting rooms, overseeing retail sales, the hosting of special events and wine club management. She previously served as the customer service manager and partner of Folio Winemakers’ Studio in Napa and director of retail sales and hospitality at Mahoney Vineyards/Carneros Creek Winery.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of opening Napa Valley’s newest winery and tasting room,” said Van Houtan. “Surrounded by rolling hills and featuring unsurpassed views of Jamieson Canyon and San Pablo Bay, Valley Gate will offer picturesque wine tasting experiences as visitors first enter the Valley. Just minutes from downtown Napa, the winery also is ideal for wine tastings and food pairings presented during rehearsal dinners, cocktail parties and corporate events.”

Valley Gate announced in April that Top It Off Bottling of Sonoma, Calif., had entered into an agreement to utilize the advanced bottling line at the bonded winery and custom crush facility. Primarily a mobile on-site bottling firm, Top It Off is now able to increase its custom bottling capacities and expand its presence in Napa Valley. The firm had previously served the northern and central wine regions of the state and utilized mobile bottling trucks equipped to service wineries of various sizes. Featuring an experienced staff with more than 75 years of combined wine industry experience, the firm utilizes Valley Gate’s modern bottling facility for custom filtration, filling, corking, capping, labeling and packaging services for wineries throughout Napa Valley.

Valley Gate announced the appointment of wine industry veteran Montgomery Paulsen as president earlier this month. With over 20 years of California winery experience, Paulsen oversees the winemaking and general operations at Valley Gate, farming of grapevines, custom crush and crush-to-consumer operations, custom bottling services and general and administrative functions. In recent years, Paulsen had been active as an independent winemaking and wine business consultant with clients throughout California, Oregon and Washington, as a specialist in winemaking, brand development, financial analysis and integration, international business and operations.

About Valley Gate Vineyards
Located at 1 Kirkland Ranch Rd. in Napa, Calif., Valley Gate Vineyards features a 57,000-square foot three-story main building reminiscent of a California costal lodge, a 36,000-square foot cellar with a 3,000 barrel storage capacity and an expansive 3,000-square-foot tasting room with a wraparound terrace to enjoy unobstructed views of Napa Valley and San Pablo Bay. Valley Gate Vineyards’ advanced winery has the capacity of processing 3,300 tons of fruit and has 247,000 gallons of stainless cooperative.

Jason Lindaman
Valley Gate Vineyards
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.