Month: July 2016

Wood Family Vineyards

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Keeping with a baseball theme, Rhonda Wood hit 3 home runs at her “Extended Family Event” recently this summer and a grand slam! Some clarification is needed to appreciate this accomplishment. Rhonda introduced three new wines and this year’s release besides her consistently good Chardonnay, “Para Mas Amigas”. If that wasn’t enough she “hit” a grand slam,   introducing their new vineyard wine dog/puppy appropriately named “Sauvy”.


The three new wines which she has never produced were the 2014 Malbec, 2014 Petit Verdot and the 2014 Bordeaux blend called “El Loco Rojo”. I will focus on two of these wines,  the Malbec and her Bordeaux blend. The Malbec as a 100% standalone varietal came across as a seasoned veteran on her line up. The grapes come from Ghielmetti Vineyards in the North East Hills of Livermore Valley aligned with elevation and soil conditions to match similar soil and micro weather conditions from Bordeaux. This wine comes across with a deep purple hue, with “aromatics as Mission fig and blackberry preserves” along with “burnt sugar creating a smoky undercurrent”. This was paired at the event with a black bean tostada from Posada Catering which provided a standing ovation with a winning “walk off home run”. With only 65 cases produced it will sell out quickly.

The second wine that was introduced was her “El Loco Rojo” or crazy redhead. I don’t want to “steal any base running secrets”, so best to ask Rhonda or her crew about the background – a fun family story.  This Bordeaux style wine uses two of her new releases Petit Verdot (5%), Malbec (5%) along with her annual favorites of Cabernet Sauvignon (58%), Cabernet Franc (22%) and Merlot (10%). There is nothing “loco/crazy” about this wine! It is a very flavorful and complex wine to drink today. Rhonda picks up “Morello cherries glazed in brown sugar sauce” and the fresh fruit tastes provide a “straight up, lip-smacking delicious wine”. This wine was aged in 98% French oak with 45% being new. Again only a small quantity of 170 cases were produced.

So get off the bench and into Rhonda’s new lineup!


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Kinsella Estates offers several Cabernet Sauvignon’s and a zesty Zinfindel

William Harrison Vineyard & Winery

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How could something good become great?  Simply add one of the best “up and coming” and perhaps already there, winemakers, Chuck McKahn.  Let me backtrack for just a moment, William Harrison has always made good solid Cabernet’s and Cabernet Franc over the years. I have sought out their Cab Franc out for several years. William Harrison is a family run business and has had great success over the years especially at the SF Chronicle tasting events. Now add Chuck McKahn, at age 27 he is already a seasoned and proven winemaker. I have no doubt in 10-20 years he will be one of the top ten winemakers in Napa Valley. He has just become their head winemaker. It will take a few harvests before his work can be showcased however. 


While not a “fancy or eloquent” tasting room, they are friendly, down to earth and make most definitely produce already a solid and good assortment of wine. Besides their award winning Cab’s and Cab Franc’s they also produce award winning Chardonnay’s, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. Most of their wine production is between 100-400 cases per varietal. Quality over quantity.


2011 Rutherford Red –297 cases, Gold Award:  2015 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon – 409 cases, Bronze Award:  2015 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

2011 Cabernet Franc – 320 cases, Silver Award:  2015 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

2013 Chardonnay – 325 cases, Gold Award:  2015 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

2013 Pinot Noir – 150 cases, Gold Award:  2016 American Fine Wine Competition

2013 Sauvignon Blanc –100 cases

Next time you are on the Silverado Trail, by all means stop by and experience some good wines, knowing that they will be producing even greater wines.


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Zucca Wines

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A delightful wine tasting experience will be had when visiting Zucca Wines in Murphys. Key is being a bit of a contortionist in getting into the “basement tasting room” without hitting your head. Once in the tasting room / basement, you will be surprised on various levels of enjoyment.


First the wines are true to their varietals, a bit of a rarity in Calaveras County, so that is an awesome welcome! Secondly they opened the tasting room literally in the basement in the building. They expanded a gift store on another half level with a variety of unique gifts and crafts to be purchased. Sue, the hostess, mentioned that the wine bar and courtyard are on yet another level. Thus their claim of being the only three story winery with tasting on all three levels. The upstairs has both an indoor wine bar and quaint outdoor tasting area called Zucca After Hours (see pictures).


Gary and Carol Zucca have a very solid business model and follow it up with tasty wines. One of the stand out wine for me was their 2014 Barbera. They source their grapes from the award winning Cooper Ranch in Amador County. They also in 2015 received a double Gold Medal at the SF Chronicle Tasting for their Bella Nipote a smooth summertime Rose.

They do offer a wide assortment of wines such as: 2013 Zinfandel; Touriga Nacional Port (a native wine from Portugal and has “smooth dark fruits such as blackberries and blueberries with strong hints of almonds”; a couple of unique Grenaches’; 2014 Sorprendere (Italian for surprise blend and taste); and a few other predominant Italian varietals.




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