Latest Event Updates

Zuidema Wines – – Old World Techniques in a New Napa Vineyard

Posted on

Sounds a bit odd, using Old World techniques in a new vineyard, but Rudy Zuidema nailed it perfectly! Rudy has been making wine for almost 30 years with an impressive resume making wine for Red Cap Vineyards, Encanto Vineyards, Shadybrook Estate, Allora Vineyards, Kent Price Wines, and Alyris Winery. This new venture is his own brand, Zuidema Wines. In order to get to this position, he first put in the hard work at St. Clement Vineyards, working with local winemaker Dennis Johns. From there he climbed the industry ladder with positions in turn as assistant winemaker, head winemaker, vineyard manager and general manager at Cuvaison, Honig, Robert Craig, Ehlers Estate and White Cottage Ranch. He studied organic and biodynamic farming, receiving CCOF and Demeter certifications on several ranches. Rudy is well traveled in Napa Valley, utilizing his talents with many climates and varietals including AVAs of Howell Mountain, Coombsville, Rutherford, Mount George, Carneros, and St. Helena.

20171213_123602IMG_2554.JPGHe secured this plot of land, located in Rutherford, in 2011 and was able to start from scratch with plantings. He choose Clone 515 Grenache from the famed Chateauneuf du Pape heritage and married it to the noble St George rootstock. This allowed his Grenache to be dry farmed in an Old World manner. No trellis, no wires, simply head trained soaking in the richness of the Rutherford soil. The label with the roots seeking minerals and nourishment, is more than an artist logo, it is his vineyard management style in full swing.

20171213_114746His inaugural release of this 2014 Grenache combines delicate finesse with the subtle power of Grenache. Rudy describes it as “the aromas are made up of white pepper, bright rhubarb, strawberry and blood orange peel. The bright acidity in the mid palate bursts with mixed berries, holiday spice and layers of anise and tarragon”. Even the finish gives a hint of the Old World with it being “rustic and not perfectly polished”. At a recent tasting with friends, most agreeing with the color being ruby to brick red, with cranberry fruit, having a spicy oak flavoring, yet showing the minerality of dry farming. Also at the same tasting,  all agreed to a medium body, they also believed it was close to a $50 wine. Zuidema website shows $42. This is indeed an excellent showing for an inaugural wine release!  Only 99 cases were made and it will go fast!


Rudy with his experience in the vineyard, winemaking and his choice of vines, seems to have merged some Old World techniques into a very promising future for Zuidema Wines.


Please hit “Follow”. Also see blog at
Per FTC disclosure: Wine purchased at industry discounted rate.



Cabernet Franc Day — December 4th

Posted on

Happy Cabernet Franc Day may not roll off your lips like many other holiday greetings but it is worth noting and celebrating. Many questions arise with Cabernet Franc Day. Let’s address the key topics.

1. What is Cabernet Franc? The grape originated in Bordeaux, France in the 1700’s for its first recording. Yet many wine scholars believe it is the parent to Cabernet Sauvignon. It has been known for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot to add in the production of Bordeaux’s. Cabernet Franc is a bit lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon.
2. What does it taste like? The styles and areas effect the bouquet, but generally speaking you can be assured that it will possess aromas of tobacco, raspberry, bell pepper and even violets. It also contributes to a peppery fragrance in many wines.
3. Is it a blending varietal or stand alone? Many wineries add a small percentage 1-5% to spice up their Cabernet Sauvignon. A limited number of wine aficionados collect and seek out this varietal for their cellar. If you are looking for a thick, chocolate, earthy varietal – this is the one! I am one of those who believe that nothing is more elegant than a 100% Cabernet Franc.
4. What are some of the best Cabernet Franc’s to purchase? Here are some of the key producers which I either have in the cellar or have tasted and can attest to their worthiness. I listed by AVA or sub-AVA to make it easier to figure out their location:

Napa Valley: Crocker & Starr; Trespass; Barnett, Keenan, YoungInglewood, Detert Family Vineyards, Ehlers Estate, Oakville East Exposure, Ovid, Titus, Viader, Vineyard 29, William Harrison, Kenefick Ranch


Sonoma Valley: Ledson Winery, Lang and Reed, Hook & Ladder, Pride Mountain, Gundlach Bundschu Winery, deLorimier Winery, Acorn Winery


Livermore Valley: Enoteca Five, Wood Family Vineyards, Steven Kent Winery, Wente, 3 Steve’s, Murrieta’s Well


Lodi AVA: Ink Blot by Michael David Winery


Central Coast: San Marcos Creek Vineyard


Calaveras County, Amador County, El Dorado County: No recommendations at this time.

Pick up a bottle and share with your friends — Happy Cabernet Franc Day!


Please hit “FOLLOW”.

Per FTC disclosure: All wines were purchased at full retail or Club Membership pricing. The following wines were sold at industry discount: Wood Family, Inkblot, San Marcos Creek

Cariñena– The Region to Watch

Posted on

“I’ve found something” is the battle cry for this region. Even though this area was the birthplace for Garnacha, I had not personally tasted nor fully understood the quality and underappreciated value it possessions.

Firstly, the area without vineyards, would look more like a moonscape with its rocky soil. Even with vines, it is not your typical scenery of a vineyard! Yet they it does rain on the plains in Spain and the vines do seek out the life giving water. Cariñena is located in the high altitude region of Aragon in the northeast of Spain. It is about half way between Madrid and Barcelona. Cariñena has doubled its distribution in the US in the past year and has been cited by both and Wine Enthusiast as the region to watch!
At the recent break out session at WBC17 held in Santa Rosa, California, we were fortunate enough to taste six wines from this area. This one wine was so compelling, I couldn’t wait to write about it. I keep copious notes on all wines tasted during the year and in December publish lists of the Best Wines of the year. I generally don’t pre-announce any specific wine, but this one I know has already made the list! It received my highest rating given to less than wines in 2017. If that wasn’t enough of an endorsement, let me talk a bit about this wine.

particular bottle
It is San Valero and is called 2012 Particular Centenarias. The Garnacha vines are 80-100 years old and is aged in the barrel for 12 months and 18 months in the bottle. The wine is as smooth as silk, yet “meaty enough” to pull leather and oak off the nose. Tasting it blasts out structure, intensity and unending complexity. Again, if this was not enough to take note of this wine, it sells in the USA for a pittance, perhaps as low as $30. Yes no zeros were missing! In the top wine of 2017, several will be in the $150-200 and this Garnacha will stand alone as the value of the year.

So I too have adopted their Battle Cry “I found something” – it is a great wine at an unbelievable value. Thanks Lyn Farmer for sharing the story.


If you like the article, please hit the “Follow Button” to get notified on new articles.


Audelyn Wines

Posted on

Double your pleasure, double your fun is an old jingle but it applies to Audelyn Wines also! Audelyn wines was named for one of the co-owners twin daughters, Audrey & Madelyn. Thus the two swans on the label and cork. As it states on their website, “The logo of two swans also serves as a tribute to the girls and represents elegance, love, purity and a connectedness of life.”


The two owners are Mitchell Masotti and Blake Burnham. Mitchell is the wine maker and like so many good wine makers, has traveled extensively crafting his trade (Craggy Range in New Zealand). His stints include an Enology degree at CSU Fresno, assistant winemaker at Dutton-Goldfield, MacPhail, Freeman and today besides Audelyn he is the assistant winemaker at Bevan Cellars. The goal of Audelyn Wines is to produce handcrafted, small lot production wines show casing both Pinot Noirs and Roses. Today they are approximately 600 cases/year.


I received a note from Brock Watts, an Audelyn advocate, asking me to taste it and provide some feedback.
First, the wine is a refined and a light Pinot Noir in color with a pleasing viscosity. The flavor included a delicate rose petal, black cherry and a hint of strawberry. It was perfectly balanced between high acidity and low tannins. This was an excellent representation of Russian River Pinot Noir. For the price point of $35, this is a wine to be bought and drank. I asked Brock how long it could be laid down for but have yet to get an answer. However, I suspect once you taste it, you will not want to wait long to enjoy the balance of your purchase! Go double your pleasure and double your fun — buy two bottles!!


Please hit LIKE and FOLLOW. Also check out


Tate Wines Team Up With Saddle Creek Wine Society

Posted on Updated on

What do you get when one combines a world class Napa wine maker, an extremely talented Executive Chef, a dynamic owner/marketer and a setting on a beautiful golf course? An absolutely marvelous time!!


David Tate the wine maker and owner of Tate Wines (also GM and wine maker at award winning Barnett Vineyards), provided the wines last evening at Saddle Creek Golf Resort. Add the bubbling, effervescent and eloquent speaking partner in Tate Wines, his wife, Suzanne Tate and you have 32 captivated attendees sitting lakeside enjoying many wonderful wines.


*2015 TATE Spring Street Chardonnay
-Brie cheese with jalapeños and apricot sauce (so unique)
-Shrimp, Grilled Peach, Macadamia nuts, Spinach with Sweet Citrus Vinaigrette
20170929_071702 (1)
*2014 TATE Spring Street, St Helena Cabernet Sauvignon
-Spiced Duck, Pork Belly Collards, Pomegranate Reduction
-Lemon-mint Sorbet and Lemonchello Martini
*2014 Mt Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon
-Teres Major Fillet, Parsnip Puree, Blackberry Gastrigue, Baby Chard Leaves
*2014 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
-Cabernet Cake, Vanilla Mousse, Black Pepper, Chocolate Bacon, Black Currents, Chocolate
Demi-glaze (a wildly successful treat!)
Chef Nigel, the Executive Chef at Saddle Creek Resort, provided a gourmet meal fit for kings & queens. Actually it was for Saddle Creek Wine Society in the community. The various dishes served were pieces of edible art. His creativity and wildly unique desert was off the charts!!
Add to the above quality of individuals and talents, a setting overlooking the ninth green over a lake and glowing fire pit on a lovely warm evening made this wine maker’s dinner truly memorable.


If you like the article, please hit the “Follow Button” to get notified on new articles.


Kola Farms

Posted on Updated on

Literally walking out of a Japanese Restaurant at lunch in Murphy, California, I happened upon a “soft opening” of a winery called Kola Farms. Having tasted many wines in Calaveras County without “much happiness” I was reluctant to enter, yet I was still curious. 20170913_131330
Firstly, it was indeed a soft opening, but already a handful of folks were sipping the wines. The goal and objective of Kola Farms is to specialize in premium and limited production wines from Calaveras, Amador and El Dorado Counties. They were featuring Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Grenache Rose, Barbera and Syrah varietals. I was stunned and shocked at the high quality of the wines tasted.

I started out skeptical but still inquisitive why a new winery would open up on the crowded Main Street in Murphy’s’. The first tasting was the Sauvignon Blanc which absolutely was shockingly great upon the reception of the nose and lots of soft citrus but still crisp on the palate.

The other two wines received the same ravening from this writer: The Barbera and Syrah. The Barbera had a rarely found complexity of soft tannins, wood and layering of a classic Barbera.
The Syrah was equally strong in quality with chocolate hints and a smooth but not a syrupy jammy quality.

One last comment on the Manager of the wine room, Lacy. She is knowledgeable, friendly and eager to answer any questions thrown her way.

The end goal of the wine tasting experience will be food, an indoor/outdoor downstairs porch and food/groceries being availability in the Kola Farms General Story. They still have work to do, but if the soft opening was any indicator of their longer terms goals, this is one solid addition to the crowded Main Street wineries – perhaps becoming one of the best!

If you like the article, please hit the “Follow Button” to get notified on new articles.


Pietro’s & LangeTwins, A Perfect Team

Posted on Updated on

Lodi just keeps getter better and better! I know a few folks are skeptical of this statement, as was I initially, but having some of the freshest and most authentic Italian foods and wines west of Milan, you too will becoming an advocate. Jim and Annette Murdaca served some of their best dishes, perfected with decades of experience and authenticity, even compared to the “well known Italian cities of NY & SF”. Add two of LangeTwins best wines, their Centennial Zinfandel and Midnight Reserve (Bordeaux Blend), and your palette is saturated with characteristics that are “heaven sent”.

This is the second food/wine pairing with Pietro’s and LangeTwins this year! The food from a fig enhanced “pizza” followed by Gnocchi con Piselli (pesto sauce & pine nuts—the gnocchi was as soft as a cloud) to the Fettuccini Piedmontese (pancetta, onion, garlic, peas, olive oil and an almost deadly black pepper) launches one into the Antipasti dish of Italian salami, cheeses and olives. Then to the Bruschetta (grilled Ciabatta with the freshest tomatoes, garlic, basil and olive oil) it is hard to determine which to savor first!

These were all tried with LangeTwins Sauvignon Blanc (light citrus and floral nose) and their Midnight Reserve a true Bordeaux with ripe berries and a hind of chocolate. The Midnight Reserve was just recently stockpiled in the wine cellar!

Then on to the main meal of NY Steak sliced and topped with fresh corti olive oil, sea salt, parsley and balsamic vinegar reduction. Both the LangeTwins 2011 Zinfandel (traditional not sweet) and 2013 Midnight Reserve paired like a long term love affair. The catch of the day was the Mediterranean sea bass, Branzino in Italian. It has a limited window and the flavor is buttery and mouthwatering.

Dessert was a “chocolate concoction topped with a pinwheel of fresh peaches” —- one slice was enough to burst the waist line!

Should you find yourself in Lodi, better yet, plan a visit to Lodi and treat yourself to the best one-two gastronomical punches you can imagine at Pietro’s and LangeTwins.

A special thanks to Mark & Candy Strubbe for the invitation.


If you like the article, please hit the “Follow Button” to get notified on new articles.