Archive for September, 2008

Carvalho Boat Shed Red sans Garlic!

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Tonight I actually made dinner: chicken artichoke roulette.  That’s what I’m calling it anyway.  Saltiness of the artichokes with some garlic and a tiny bit of parmasean.  I have to say it turned out pretty good, if I say so myself.  Of course we didn’t have any vegetables in the house so we basically had chicken and bread for dinner.  But this isn’t a chicken and bread blog…with my chicken roulette we had our last bottle of Carvalho’s Boat Shed Red.  If you red read one of my previous blogs you’ll know that we got this from Mrs. Carvalho herself (and in two weeks is the big grape stomp at the Sugar Mill…fireman…if you live near Sac look into it.)  So tonight, with this garlic-y dish the Boat Shed Red goes perfectly.  It’s a blend, not too bold, easy to drink and has a really nice finish.  We decide we need more.  It retails for 19.95 so it’s a good deal.  It also won bronze medal at the 2008 California State Fair.
This is how they describe it (if you don’t trust my garlic intoxiated tastebuds): This wine is a stunning, robust wine offering black cherry with notes of cracked white pepper and cedar. It has a powerful mouth feel with raspberry, blackberry & bing cherry flavors that linger through the finish.

 Signing off… enjoy a bottle of wine (or two!) this weekend.


Jaffurs Bottling

Saturday, September 6th, 2008

Have you guys ever done bottling?  Jaffurs was bottling this last weekend and asked Wine Club members to pitch in.  I was excited to participate.  The parents decided to come into town for Labor Day weekend so I brought them along.  We took the second shift (12-5pm), of course the shift starting with free mexican lunch and wine.  We enjoyed lunch and were quickly put to work.  My first job was moving all the cases of empty wine bottles from the pallet to the trailer (in the driveway was a huge trailer from Mission Bottles that had an assembly line in it to fill, cork, seal and label the bottles.)  So this job was a tad labor intensive.  Craig Jaffurs was nice enough to set up an umbrella for us to shield us from the sun.  We did that for a long time bottling the 2007 Santa Barbara Cty Syrah.  We took a quick break while switching to Mouvedre.  Job change.  Now I’m on the line putting the full wine bottles into the cases.  Here’s how it goes: I take the first 6 bottles coming down the line, put them in the same spot in the box and pass it to the person next to me, which happens to be Beth.  She fills the other 6, closes the box and then puts it through the machine that tapes the case closed.   This is fun for about the first 15 minutes then you realize you can’t really do a whole lot else.  Later in the day I do this job again and they put a beer in front of me, and the game is to take a sip of beer while trying to keep the cases moving and no bottles from piling up.  Other jobs included emptying the cases of empty wine bottles onto the conveyor belt (I think this is probably the most labor intensive), being on the other end watching the finished bottles come off the line looking for any drips, mis labels, mis caps or bottles not full all the way, stamping the sealed case with the date stamp and finally moving the case from the belt to the pallet.  I guess then there’s also wrapping the pallet once it’s full and moving it into the warehouse.   I’ll just say that when we finished at 6:30pm after the Syrah, Movedre and Petite Syrah we were exhausted.  Just being on our feet for that long alone.  We were supposed to bbq that night but smartly decided to eat out.  Each of us got 3 bottles of wine (those that we bottled.)  Would I do it again?  Probably.  I thought it was kind of funny.  But not everyone I was with was so fast to jump up. Yes, we were tired and sore the next day but that adds to the humor.


Sta Rita Hills

Saturday, September 6th, 2008

So my parents came for Labor Day weekend and I decided since my mom retired on that Friday that we’d celebrate by going wine tasting in the valley.  But this time I’d actually fork out and hire a driver.  I hired Christopher Simon  Chris is very professional and I would definitely call him and recommend him to others.  Anyway, we decide to hit the Sta Rita Hills area since I hadn’t spent that much time there.  I didn’t take any notes after trying to write everything down from Family Winemakers the weekend before.  We hit Mosby Winery which is an italian winery.  We didn’t prefer these wines…too dry and didn’t have that bold CA flavor.  The guy in the tasting room was a riot though.  They also had very cool wine labels.  Then we were off to Alma Rosa.   We weren’t too impressed with their wines but this place was on the Sideways movie.  They also have a structure in the back that is made of hay bails that has an awesome long dining room table in it for a special dinner or meeting.  Their cat, “Princess”, is overweight and there are signs everywhere that remind people not to feed her.  She’s a ham says the people working the tasting.  Next we’re hoping for something better.  We go to Lafond.  Lafond is big sister to SB Winery.  I’m hesitant but they have a real nice tasting room and wonderful woman behind the bar.  The wines were great.  $5 tasting and you get to keep a great glass.  We bought a lot of wine here.  We liked everything we tasted except the SB Winery Rose they offered off the list.  They had lesser expensive Pinot and Syrah and then more reserve type wines.  Both were good.  The lesser expensive was great for the price point and then of course the reserve had such a great taste.  Needless to say we all really enjoyed the place.  We told Chris to recommend it to others (I see he’s added it to his website).  Then we hit Sanford for the last place on Santa Rosa Road.  They have a year old tasting room where you can still smell the redwood.  It’s beautiful to drive up to and inside.  The wines so-so.  Nothing memorable and nothing that we purchased.  It’s really a nice place though and has lots of picnic tables.  By now we’re needing a snack. Luckily we packed some so Chris suggest Rusack.  So we head out there.  It’s very secluded and has a nice tasting room and a ton of tables to picnic in the shade overlooking the vineyard.  Perfect spot (Thanks Chris!).  They recommended we go picnic and send someone back for the tastings, which is what we did.  It was perfect temp and a perfect break.  We didn’t buy anything here.  The wine was good but I think we were more concentrated on the food.  I would definitely go back.  Then we decide to head over to Grand Ave, Los Olivos.  We first stop at Consilience.  Wines were good but I think our palattes are starting to be shot.  We’re more amused by the dog running around the tasting room.  Our last stop is Epiphany.  Here we enjoy everything.  We start up a list of stuff we’re going to buy and decide that we’ll join the wine club.  Is that bad that you join the wine club on your last stop? :)

Cathy- drinking some Woop Woop Shiraz 2007.  I think we got as a gift.  I like it.

Family Winemakers Event, SF August 2008

Saturday, September 6th, 2008

We survived Napa the day before with all wits about us.  We crushed that by spending hours at the Red Hen for dinner Sat night.  Lots of beer and bar food, plus hours of Olympics.  Don’t ask me how that happens. It happens if you’re too cheap to pay anywhere in the onsite wine country.  Anyway, Sunday morning we’re up and off to San Francisco for the Family Winemakers Event- 400 small family wineries offering their wines to trade and consumers.  So we’re on assignment for Wine Closet.  But like I mentioned in previous post we should have had a plan.  Too long at the Red Hen hindered that.  So we just go for it….  I have 4 pages of notes from 35 wineries.  How did I do that in 2 days? not sure.  I thought I’d give you some of my highlights (not in any particular order): Frick Winery  loved the Carignane and Cinsault.  100% carignane $22 retail.  2) Gregory Graham Wines One of the first wines we tried.  Especially liked Viognier ($20 retail, apricot, pineapple, very good) and Zinfandel ($22 retail, excellent raspberry with kick).  3) P.B. Hein Vineyards Great!  Syrah Rose.  Slightly peppery.  Good $12 retail. 2005 North Coast Syrah- great fruity. #1 fav of this winery $17 retail, 338 cases.  #2 fav is 2005 Napa Valley Syrah- dry finish-great.  2004 Charbono- merlot type- kind of light, slight sour to finish.  Good-different.  Uncle/nephew team.  4)Pendleton Estate Vineyards & Winery Owner/winemaker is a fireman.  Wife does marketing. 500 cases/year. Carignane/Cab Rose (unfiltered, $22),  Cab Sauv (smooth), Zin (has Petite Syrah on backend). 5)  Wild Heart Winery from Los Olivos- wines were decent but what stood out as different was that they had a White Cabernet.  $31 retail.  Crisp, chilled.  Like a rose but not as sweet, “springy”. …Only some of the highlights.

One winemaker asked us how we were getting through all the wineries and as newbies to this sort of event we were smart enough to take lots of breaks with water and cheese and crackers.  Going to Fort Mason Center where there are 400 winemakers set us is intimidating but also so fun when you have the opportunity to try so many great wines.

Sunday night after a quick nap we made it out to Harry Denton’s Starlight Room for a nightcap.  We ran into the winemaker from Opolo there.  Had a nice conversation with him as well as the next day.


Old Sugar Mill

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Hello all.  Cathy reporting from our state’s capital!  We’re on a 4 day wine tasting adventure.  Susie and Erin were so gracious enough to let us stay at their house and give us our first taste of Todd Taylor Zinfandel last night with some bbq chicken.  Today we decided we needed to try more, so we were off to the Old Sugar Mill (  If you haven’t been there I suggest you go.  The Sugar Mill, is exactly that, an old sugar mill that has been renovated inside and is now the home to 6 wineries.  Many of the wineries actually do all of their processing there.  When we walked in we immediately fell in love with the building.  If I lived here I would most likely get married there.  It’s beautiful.  Anyways, back to the wine…first stop Todd Taylor (  We actually met Todd and his lovely wife.  Her first words were “if you like whites, you’re in the wrong place.” (they don’t produce any whites.) We knew we were in the right place! We first tried the 2006 Bell Road Sangiovese.  Very fruity and spicy.  Easy to drink.  I ended up buying 2 bottles of it ($25).  We also tried their 2005 “Lehrer Vineyards” Syrah and 2006 Zinfandel.  Both were enjoyable.  Last we had 2 different Cabs:  2006 Cabernet Sauv “Lockwood Oaks” San Antonio Valley and 2006 Cabernet Sauv “Hearst” San Antonio Valley.   Both wines are from grapes in Monterey county just different clusters.  I preferred the Lockwood Oaks as it was smoother.  Susie joined their wine club.

Next we went next door to Heringer Estates.  We tried a bunch of wines here but one of the ones I liked was the 2006 PInot Noir.  I’m not usually a Pinot fan but this one had lots of cherry flavor and was also very easy to drink.  I imagine it would be good slightly chilled on a hot summer day (hmmm…like today!).  But my favorite was their 2006 Teroldego.  I’d never had a Teroldego wine before. This one has a nice deep color with a bold fruity flavor.  I got a bottle of it ($35).  Beth like the 2006 Syrah. Her notes say: blueberry, dark cherry, smooth w/good finish, hint of pepper $27.    She gottle a bottle of it.  We also liked the 2004 Petite Sirah: complex flavors with light feel $21.  They boasted about their Petit Sirah port which of course they made us try.  I’m not a huge port drinker.  It was good.  Just not as great as they made it out to be.  But that’s my taste.  Susie and Beth may disagree.

Next up: Revolution Wines ( The team at Revolution got their inspiration from Jaffurs in SB.  They weren’t sure if wine tasting in a big warehouse would work but after visiting Jaffurs they came home and got busy.  Now they have one in downtown Sac and at the Sugar Mill.  They’re moving to a bigger place next year.  All of the reds we had here were pretty good. Nothing that stood out too much but the price point was a lot lower ($15-22).  Definitely a decent bottle #2 wine.

Last stop was Carvalho wines (  Now the Carvalho’s actually own the Old Sugar Mill.  So we spoke a lot about that.  Their family is still producing wine in Portugal and has been for over 100 years.  My favorite was the 2004 Tempranillo ($18).  It was smooth and slightly fruity.  BUT, we got to try the 1998 Tinta Madeira port ($28)  This was over the top.  It tastes like honey and caramel and when she said she freezes it over plain vanilla ice cream we were all sold.  I got a bottle for my mom.  I hope she’ll share it with me! :)

We may make a trip back in late September for the Crush festival.  They’ll be crushing grapes and having wine obstacle courses (local fireman vs. police) as a fund raiser.  Mrs. Carvalho said she was in charge and of course would be responsible for hosing them off and drying them down when they were done.  We asked if she needed volunteers and she does.  So we’ll be back! :)  Tomorrow we’ll be in Napa. Sigining off.


Napa 8/23/08

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Day 2 of wine trip excursion.  We left Sac early Sat morning to meet Laura and Diane at White Oak in Healdsburg.  It was a nice drive through the wine country and there are quite a few smaller wineries in the area.  They gave us a tour of the facilities and had a very nice tasting room.  The wines were good.  Nothing to brag home about.  They had an essence bar where you could smell the oils that you should be picking up in the wine.  But we didn’t buy anything.  Laura and Diane left for Yountville Inn to relax and we headed back to Taylor’s for some food.  Everyone should go to Taylor’s.

After lunch we stopped at Prager’s Portworks.  This is definitely somewhere to stop if you like desert wines.  For $10 we got 5 tastings of 1 Petite Syrah and 4 ports.  The Petite Syrah was good.  Had that port smell to it but we were excited to get on to the port.  Michele liked the next one which was from Portugese decent (Tomas something).  Michele’s notes: smooth and chocolate. wasn’t too sweet, refreshing, nice color and tones.  We had a 2nd red port and a white port but the final port was a white port called the Aria.  Michele says it’s like finding a needle in a haystack.  The golden ticket.  It’s that good.  We walked away with 3 bottles at $52 a pop.  Rare white chardonnay port that had a strong hazelnut flavor.  It was just like eating a chocolate covered hazelnut.  So good.  Definitely a stop for those wanting something different.  Also, the tasting room is covered by $1 bills that visitors leave and sign.  Michele:  “I’ve never experienced a flavor that changes in my mouth. It’s like multi-faceted wine that changes in your mouth and tastes like a heath bar.”

Next stop Cakebread.  Well we stopped at Peju first but just to pick up some Sauv Blanc for Susie.  We’ve stopped at Peju everytime we visit Napa so we passed on the tasting but it’s a favorite place.  Nice grounds and tasting rooms.  Cakebread.  We didn’t have an appt but that didn’t stop the Tompkins sisters.  Parking attendant:  “Do you have an appt?” Beth “Yes, under Tompkins, T-O-M-P”.  Attendant:  “What time was it for?” Beth: quickly looking at the clock-2:51pm “3pm”.  Attendant:  “Ok drive around and they’ll direct you in the back.”  Hmmm ok that worked.  Now they have to actually check in to the appt.  Beth waits at the counter.  Same story “T-O-M-P-K-I-N-S”.  “What time?”  “3pm… why are we late, because we’re usually late…”  “Another group that is lost in the computer.  Let me talk to my manager we can probably squeeze you in”.  So we get to get the Cakebread treatment.  $10 gets you 5-6 tastings.  William was our guide.  Very knowledgeable and energetic.  Walked us through the rooms where they process the wine and then to a large table where we sat with another family and did our tastings.  A Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay and reserve Chardonnay.  The reserve was pretty good.  William described it as a “butter bomb” which is what it tasted like.  Michele liked it but I think she just likes to say “butter bomb”.  Then we did the Merlot, Cab Sauv and Syrah.  All were enjoyable.  They Syrah was the best in my opinion.  Pretty smooth and flavorful.  We didn’t linger long as we were meeting Laura and Diane at Rubicon at 4pm.

Rubicon is a beautiful estate.  We did our tasting in the backroom. Started off with the only white they were serving Blancaneux.  It was excellent.  50% Rousanne, 32% Marsanne and the rest Viognier.  A really nice light blend.  Then we had the Merlot.  While it was good we decided of the 4 we got to try it was the least favorite.  Following the Merlot was the 2005 CASK Cabernet.  This was my favorite.  Very smooth with a bold flavor.  They followed that up with the 2005 Rubicon which is a blend.  This was most everyone’s favorite.  I just didn’t prefer the finish.  Kind of dry.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d drink it if someone put it in front of me I’d just pick the Cask over the Rubicon.  They served the red wine with sourdough bread and aged monterey jack cheese.  Pretty nice.  The grounds were beautiful and there is definitely a lot of stuff to look at inside.  I was glad we got to go.

Nap time now.  Tomorrow is CA Family Winemakers event in SF.  we haven’t even come up with a plan of attack for that but I’m sure we will.