Month: November 2022

Starting and Stocking a Wine Cellar at Home: How to do it Right by

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My article on the importance of humidity control inside the cellar was included by on the topic called ” Starting and Stocking a Wine Cellar at Home: How to do it Right”. Other contributors wrote on temperature, temperature variability, movement, etc. are shared in this article. Here is the link:

BTW, these readings are ambient temperature not bottle temperature which is control by the condenser.


Michael Kelly


2009 Ackerman Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon – A Real Treat

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The Winery- Quick Background

Ackerman Family Vineyards is owned and operated by Lauren Ackerman. The 16 acre site has approximately 10 acres planted in vines. Lauren began making wine at home in 1995. Then in 2003 was her initial launch into commercial production.  While she started out with only Cabernet Sauvignon, her portfolio now includes Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon, Alavigna Tosca (Sangiovese & Cabernet Sauvignon), Sauvignon Blanc, Memoir Red Blend and a fortified wine. Today her production is 3,000 cases. In 2009 she completed a three year process and was officially certified CCOF organic, the first in Coombsville AVA. Coombsville is a unique area for Napa Valley as it is a cooler region and gets the winds off San Pablo Bay. This provides a longer growing season allowing for a slower ripening of the vineyards compared to the warmer portions located in central and northern Napa Valley areas.    

Back in 2009, Ackerman Family Vineyards was unique in that 100% of their total net profits are donated to the Napa Valley Community Foundation! The foundation is a philanthropic bank for non-profits organizations focusing on youth and poverty. Tried repeatedly to get an update if this is still their charter but no response from the winery.

The Wine – 2009 Ackerman Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

Pulled this gem out of the cellar for our Friday Night Wine & Dine Group. This was purchased back in 2013, has survived three moves and still delivered a mouth filling wine. On the eyes, a deep crimson color and medium-heavy viscosity. On the nose, raspberry and blackberries abound. On the palate, soft oak with licorice and a hint of smokiness. On the finish, great length with firmly defined structure and rounded tannins. About 500 cases were produced. The winery used for the 2009 vintage, all new French oak barrels and aged the wine two years before bottling. After bottling, it then sat for another two years before being released. Their current release is the 2019 and sells for $98/bottle.

The Food & Wine Pairing

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

Although we did not have a wine specifically targeted for the dinner meal we still managed to have a few good wines from four different wine regions. Represented AVA’s (L to R) are 2013 Leal Vineyards Cabernet Franc from San Benito, 2019 Tobin James Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, 2009 Ackerman Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Coombsville (Napa Valley) and 2019 Newsome-Harlow Zinfandel from Calaveras County!


Michael Kelly

2018 Mendel Malbec – A Mellow Wine To Warm Up With

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As is custom, a few times a month I select a wine other than from California. As we hit our first cold evening in California (40 degrees), went to the cellar and grabbed one of my favorite Malbec’s. It comes from the famous 3,000-foot elevation Uco Valley, in Mendoza wine region Argentina. This was a younger 2018 but have always enjoyed this wine. With the fireplace this turned out to be just a perfect wine!

The Wine -2018 Mendel Malbec

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

This wine is full bodied on the eyes with dark royal purple coloration. On the nose aromatic floral violets are also present. On the palate almost overpowering black and dark red fruits come to the forefront with tobacco, French oak, chocolate, black licorice and fresh leather.  On the finish a smoky almost open fire flavor resides in the mouth along with sharp and defined tannins. Subtle vanilla and caramel sneaks in to round out the finish with just a slight sweetness. Great structure, depth and enjoyment. The wine provides an “old world sense of being” from the Uco Valley. Aged 12 months in French oak barrels. Average price is roughly $23 to $25/bottle. This wine typically gets between 93 to 96 points year after year. James Suckling rated this 94 points. On this cool evening it was a 100 points for us!!

If you like Malbec, this is surely one to have in your cellar.


Michael   (where I purchased this wine)

2010 O’Shaughnessy Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon – A Great Treat On Halloween!

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The Wine – 2010 O’Shaughnessy Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

2010 O’Shaughnessy Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and a little Malbec and Merlot added for roundness. On the eyes an extremely dark purple and medium-heavy viscosity. On the nose an almost overwhelming experience of aromas of violets and blackberries. On the palate everything imaginable from a mountain fruit from Napa Valley. Ranging from dark chocolate, granite to boysenberry. Largely structured similar to the Rock of Gibraltar with immense tannins but is balanced as a tightrope walker with a silky smooth finish. For the last 17+ years always a perennial favorite wine. This was a perfect wine for a treat on Halloween. Robert Parker rated it 96 points, but I even believe it is higher! The current release is 2018 and is $100/bottle. 

And for the record we provided candy for the “trick or treaters” not the O’Shaughnessy!!



4th Annual International Cabernet Franc Wine Competition & Celebration Registration Is Now Open

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Who is this event for? For the 4th Annual Cabernet Franc Celebration, we have opened it up to both domestic and international producers of Cabernet Franc. Last year we had 12 states and four countries participating in the event representing some 70+ wines. Also it is for both those producing a Cabernet Franc varietal wine and for blends being 50% or higher with Cabernet Franc.

Why hold this event? It is to show the uniqueness and versatility of Cabernet Franc. To celebrate the wine as so much more than a blending grape. As Steven Kent Mirassou stated “Cabernet Franc, in its purest form, is all about sex. From the silkiness of its texture, to the exoticism of its aromas; from the raciness of its acidity to its emotion-prodding “it-ness”, Cabernet Franc is terrifyingly and wonderfully naughty”. Cabernet Franc has adapted and transformed its personality from Chile, France, Canada, the east coast of the US, the Michigan peninsula, the Midwest and the west coast of the US.

How will the competition be judged? The event will be a blind tasting using the “Danish System”, sometimes called the group method. Unique to this event, two separate judging stations will be set up. The first will comprise of Professional Judges and the second being the People’s Choice Judges (serious consumers). Each set of Judges will award medals and award Best of Class and Best of Show based on price categories of wines (5).

Who are the judges? Tom Bender has agreed once again to head up the Professional Judging Panel(s). Tom has headed up the California Sierra Foothill Competition for over 35 years, served on California State Fair Judges, is a well-known writer for various wine magazines and teaches at a local college. Other judges include Mike Dunne retired food editor, wine columnist for the Sacramento Bee, distinguished judge at San Francisco Chronicle and other events, Fran Cunniffe a DipWSET and certified Sommelier, Tana Cole winemaker from Sonoma Valley & Lodi, and WSET I, II and III individuals. People Choice’s Judges are astute individuals with years of experience and collectors. All judges are prepared with extensive documentation and profiles on Cabernet Franc’s characteristics from various geographic areas.

Benefits for wineries participating? National exposure from California Wines and Wineries website which will run a full feature article on those receiving Best of Class and Best of Show (domestic and international). The story will also be sent to 70+ blogs for reposting and all social media for a reach of over 400,000. Additionally it will be submitted to two magazines with a reach of an additional 500,000 readership. The Best of Show winners will also be featured on the Cabernet Franc Day site, a Facebook blog and a podcast featured by Exploring the Wine Glass. Klearcut Media (Texas) has been invited to be on site to video graph the event for public relations for Copper Valley GC and Town Center.

Where is the event being held? It is being held at the recently remodeled Copper Valley Clubhouse in Copperopolis, California (Sierra foothills) March 29th, 2023 in the Grandview Room.

2023 registration can be found at
Last Year’s Annual Cabernet Franc Winners of Best of Class and Best of Show include:
Jeff Runquist – Best of Class (Amador County)Villa Vallecito – Best of Class & Best of Show (Calaveras County)Titus Family Vineyards – Best of Class (Napa Valley)L’Autre Cote – Best of Class (Livermore Valley)Kautz & Kramer – Best of Class (Lodi)Dracaena Wines – Best of Class and Best of Show (Paso Robles)De Tierra Vineyards – Best of Class (Monterey)Bianchi Winery – Best of Class (Paso Robles)Cornerstone Cellars – Best of Class (Napa Valley)

Partial listing of previous year’s winners of Best of Class and Best of Show include: Diamond Mountain Vineyards (Napa Valley), Vinoce (Napa Valley), Shale Canyon (Monterey County), Steven Kent (Livermore Valley), Cuda Ridge (Livermore Valley), Grizzly Peak (Colorado), Silenus Winery (Napa Valley), Brecon Estate (Paso Robles), 3 Steves (Livermore Valley), Detert Family Vineyards (Napa Valley), Mira Winery (Napa Valley) and several others.


Two Additional Events open to the public will follow the competition:The first event is scheduled for past Best of Class and Best of Show winners or runner ups to pour at a Cabernet Franc Wine Stroll on Saturday April 15th, 2023. This will include an exquisite 30 foot charcuterie board. There will be two sessions, 11:30 am to 2 pm and 2:30 pm to 5 pm and limited to 125 per session. Details and ticket information will be available mid-February. The wineries will have the option to pour their other wines also.The second event is a gourmet dinner featuring four invited Cabernet Franc wine producers on Saturday April 22nd, 2023 in the evening. This will be limited seating for 120 people. Dinner will be provided by Executive Chef Jaime Alderete. Details and ticket information will be available mid-February.
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