Archive for the ‘Rhone wines’ Category

What I Drank Last Month (Nov 2013) Part 1

by Nikki Lincoln

I had a very crazy November and although I didn’t have time to write, I definitely made sure to taste lots of amazing wines. I hadn’t realized just how many of the wines I had last month were truly spectacular until I had to back up all of my pictures on the eve of getting a new cell phone. I had to make sure all of my tasting notes were saved somewhere in case they didn’t transfer to the new phone and in the process I realized that I better get writing so I can share all of these things with you!

Once I got everything down, I realized it would be better for me to split this post into two so you can look forward to the second half next week!


Kivelstadt 2011 Father’s Watch Red Blend

I tried my first Kivelstadt wine a few months ago at Hotel Biron. It was an amazing Rose of Mouvedre and I was excited to see that the winery made several other Rhone varietals. I was able to get some samples and was very excited to start trying them. The first of the bunch was the Father’s Watch Red Blend, a blend of Syrah, Carignan, Mouvedre, and Grenache. The wine had lovely pomegranate, earth, and leather flavors. It had a great balance of all of the varietals (which are some of my favorites on their own as well). The wine was quite light for a predominantly Syrah blend and was very enjoyable both on its own and with food. The Kivelstadt wines continue to impress me and I’m excited to crack into more of the samples.

Price: $26


Alamos 2012 Torrontes

The Alamos Torrontes is another wine I received as a sample. I had been very impressed with the Malbec when I had tried it a few months ago and was looking forward to trying more of their Argentinian style wines. When I decided to have a creamy soup for dinner one night, I knew I wanted to grab a bright, acidic wine to help cut the heaviness of the dish. The pear and green apple of this wine really had the crisp flavor that I was looking for and it paired wonderfully with what would have otherwise been a very heavy dinner.

Price: $13



Fenestra 2012 Alvarelhão

I came across Fenestra at the TAPAS Tempranillo tasting and was happy to see that their wines included many Portuguese varietals in addition to Tempranillo. I had never heard of Alvarelhão and fell in love with it as soon as I tasted it. I bought a few bottles and after looking up their wines for this post, am really happy that I did. It seems as though they do not always sell the wine. If you happen across it, I would strongly suggest buying some.

The wine has a beautiful ruby color with tastes of blueberry, raspberry, plum, and cherry. The flavor intensifies with each taste, and truly is an amazing wine. I would really like to get out to Livermore and track down a few more bottles of this interesting varietal.

Price: $19.50

William Hill 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

20131105_210948I’m a sucker for traditions, no matter how small they might be. The rule is, if you’ve done it twice, it’s a tradition. One of my most persistent traditions is watching V for Vendetta every November 5th. Sometimes the date sneaks up on me and I have to push the movie back a day or two but luckily there are usually plenty of Facebook reminders to make sure I don’t miss it all together.

I decided to pair this bold movie with an equally robust wine and went with a sample of the William Hill Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine had a bright red fruit flavor with dark cherry and blackberry as well. I also picked up a lot of the oak flavor from the barrel which added a nice spice touch. The wine felt very appropriate for fall and was perfect for my movie watching.

Price: $40

Celebrate Friday Sept 20 #GrenacheDay With the Rhone Rangers in Healdsburg, 2-7pm Tasting

The members of the North Coast Chapter of the Rhone Rangers are riding into Healdsburg Friday Sept 20th in celebration of International #GrenacheDay, as events all over the world are being held to recognize this wonderful grape variety, now becoming very popular in the US.2013 Grenache Day

Join us to taste Rhone wines made from Grenache no prescription online pharmacy Noir, Grenache Blanc, Grenache based blends, and Grenache Rosé from 11 wineries.

The event is from 3-7 p.m. at the Stark Tasting room in downtown Healdsburg, one block off the square.

NOTE! This event will be small, intimate, with limited space. Tickets WILL sell out based on the last two years and tickets at the door will be subject to capacity and not guaranteed.

Purchase tickets here:


Taste Through Grenache wines, Red, White, Blends & RoséRhone-Rangers

This is your chance to taste wines from a wide range of wineries, from veteran icons to new and emerging wineries that make small productions and 100 case lots.

Wineries include: Anaba, Donelan Family Wines, Frick Winery, Mounts Family Winery, Quivira, Stark Wines, Steele Wines, Skylark Wine Company, Two Shepherds,  AND special guests from the Sierra Foothills Baiocchi Wines (one of the winners of the 2010 tasting) and SF Chronicle touted Skinner Vineyards.

Taste multiple wines from 11 producers for less than price of one tasting room fee, $15 in advance. ($20 at the door, IF available.)


Have Fun, Compare, & Vote For Your Favorite

Similar to our smash hit Grenache Day, Rosé, and Napa tastings – attendees get a clipboard of information with detailed notes on each wine, and walk around to interact with each winery.

Attendees will have a chance to vote for their favorite wines. Help pick the top wine of the day!

Celebrate Anywhere & Look For These Global Events

Can’t join us in Healdsburg? #GrenacheDay is an International and virtual event. Open your favorite bottle of Grenache and share it virtually on Twitter with hashtag #GrenacheDay.  Also, look on the Grenache Symposium website for an event or tasting near you. You can also find daily updates on their Facebook page.

Participating Wineries Include:

  • AnabaStark logo
  • Donelan Family Wines
  • Frick Winery
  • Mounts Family Winery
  • Quivira
  • Stark Wines
  • Steele Wines
  • Skylark Wine Company
  • Two ShepherdsWine Road Logo
  • Baiocchi Wines
  • Skinner Vineyards.

Many Thanks to Our Host  – Stark Wines, and Sponsor, The Wine Road.


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Tuesday August 27, The Rhone Rangers Ride into Napa for Art and Wine

The members of the North Coast Chapter of the Rhone Rangers are joining together to offer wine aficionados a chance to taste Rhone wines from 15 wineries.

The event is from 3-7 p.m. at the Napa Valley Museum in Yountville.

Taste Through Rhone wines, Red, White, & Rosé

This is your chance to taste over 45 wines from a 15 Rhone producers, from veteran icons to new and emerging wineries that make very small productions and 100 case lots.Rhone Rangers

Wineries include: Anaba, Maclaren, Cornerstone, Two Shepherds, Meyer Family Vineyards, Ridge Vineyards, Kale, Kieran Robinson, Wesley Ashely, Carica, Euclid, Truchard Vineyards, Petrichor, Donelan Family Wines and Campovida.

Taste multiple wines from 15 producers for less than the price of most Napa tasting rooms, $20 in advance. ($25 at the door.) Less than the cost of a single tasting in most Napa tasting rooms!

Tickets here:

Please note: If you are a qualified member of the Trade (wine buyer for restaurant, retail) or Media (actively publishing writer or blog.) there is a separate tasting available, please email

Enjoy Art, Cheese, Wine & More

Enjoy art on display from the Napa Valley Museum, sample cheese from Oxbow.  New! Truffles to taste and on sale from Bert's Desserts, very popular at other events!

Have a Date With The Devil

The tasting will be held in the Museum’s main gallery where visitors will be surrounded by Date with the Devil, a juried exhibition NV Museum - 2C Logoof new work by 19 regional artists based on the legend of Faust, the man who sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for riches, power, youth and wisdom.

Date with the Devil reminds us that who we are is ultimately defined by the choices we make. Also on display are 26 devil-inspired prints by late Calistoga artist Earl Thollander. The History Gallery on the first floor will also be open free of charge. All galleries are free of charge.

Have Fun, Compare, & Vote For Your Favorite

Similar to their smash hit Grenache Day and Rosé tastings – attendees get a clipboard of information with detailed notes on each wine, and walk around to interact with each winery.

Attendees will have a chance to vote for their favorite wines. Help pick the top wine of the day!

Participating Wineries Include:

  • MaclarenWesley Ashley
  • Cornerstone
  • Two Shepherds
  • Meyer Family Vineyards
  • Ridge Vineyards
  • Kale Wines
  • Kieran Robinson
  • Wesley AshelyRidge_Vineyards_logo
  • Carica Wines
  • Euclid
  • Truchard Vineyards
  • Petrichor
  • CampovidaKale
  • Anaba
  • Donelan Family Wines



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For The Love of Rhône: Randall Grahm Lifetime Achievement Award; A Rhône Weekend in SF. (And Reader Offers)

It's no secret that if you tap one of my veins, it's likely a blend of Mourvedre, Grenache and Syrah will spring forth. My love for this wine category has caused me to change my entire life, quickly transforming, with no master plan, from avid consumer, to (once) a widely read blogger, and from garagiste to commercial vintner.

Rhône wines can be a challenging category.  It's not mainstream – your classic new world oaky Cabernet consumer perhaps can't even describe what Rhone wines are, let alone appreciate the breadth of complex whites the category offers. “Serious” wine snobs may turn their noses as they consider they are not 'geeky' enough – after all its not some obscure Italian varietal, or skin fermented white wine whose name you can't spell,  fermented in an exotic container and bottled in 500 ml granite bottles. Its just 'grenache.'

Yet many American Rhone wines ARE rare. Grenache Blanc has existed in California for only ten years, with only 220 acres planted in the entire state. The source I work with for Roussanne & Marsanne are the only known in the entire AVA. The Mourvedre is only one of two plantings. The cool climate Grenache  – perhaps 3-4 at most. Even in Rhone 'heavy' areas like Paso Robles, the total acreage of most Rhone whites is minuscule.

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On the reverse side,  not all off  the old guard of some media get 'it.  Respected and esteemed Chronicle wine writer,  and Rhone advocate, Jon Bonné, was recently criticized publicly by a veteran wine writer for his waxing poetic on Grenache,

Yet, we not only persevere as a domestic category, we prosper and slowly grow. We are after all 'Rhone Rangers'  both as consumers and winemakers. When everyone said pull the plug on our NY event one week after Hurricane Sandy, we turned it into a fundraiser, showed up despite many challenges, and eager enthusiasts filled the tasting, amidst a Noreaster snow storm. THIS is how we Rhone.

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Be assured of one thing, domestic vintners and winemakers dedicated to Rhones, do so for passion, not money.

An Eternal Debt Of Gratitude to The Original Rhone Ranger & Special Recognition Award

With that backdrop, it's all the more clear to me the incredible debt that all Rhone enthusiasts (and wineries) owe Randall Grahm, lauded as the original Rhone Ranger. (In truth there are a few other early pioneers. Sadly, not all support the namesake organization.)

CigarePoster_Aug2012_275pxw2Randall has been committed to Rhones since he released the first Cigare Volante in 1984.  In a world where we take Grenache Blanc for granted, only the earliest and smallest of Rhone plantings, sometimes mis-identified, could be found, and there was little experience to reference.  There were certainly easier paths to follow.

Randall has been a personal inspiration for me. He helped my find the Grenache Blanc vineyard I started with in 2010, even viagra soft tabs offered encouragement, as he does for so many, despite the often one man show that he is, tirelessly & humbly promoting, pouring, his crafts.

This year, at the Rhone Rangers March 22nd Winemaker Dinner in San Francisco, the Rhone Rangers organization will award its first lifetime achievement award. As a board member who was in the meeting when the topic came up, the unanimous decision took only as long as it did for the suggestion to be comprehended.

We can only hope that Randall recognizes the deep respect, and love that so many have for he and his efforts. Simple Hedonisms has written about Bonny Doon wines many times, and I hope to review more wines all week, in tribute.

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YOU have a chance to be at the award ceremony, and thank Randall, in person.

This dinner always sells out, but as of this writing, about 10% of tickets remain.  The event itself is pretty phenomenal, with a special meal catered by the girl & the fig, 16 featured winemakers, a pre-dinner tasting, and lively auction at the end. Do not wait until Wednesday night to decide to buy one, you'll likely regret it and be empty handed.  (Note: dinner is on a Friday night this year, not Saturday.)

Tickets are here:

Proceeds from the auction will benefit the Rhone Rangers Scholarship Fund, which provides grants and scholarships to help educate the next generation of American Rhone winemakers. 

Wineries: Anaba Wines, Baiocchi Wines & Vineyards, Bonny Doon Vineyard, Davis Family Vineyards, Folin Cellars, JC Cellars, Kenneth Volk Vineyards, kukkula, Margerum Wine Company, Mounts Family Winery, Petrichor Vineyards, Ridge Vineyards, Tablas Creek Vineyard, Terre Rouge, Two Shepherds and Villa Creek Cellars.   

A Weekend Celebration of American Rhone Wines

The dinner is the tip of the spear of the now largest Rhone  wine event in the U.S.

Saturday morning two seminars will be moderated by Jon Bonné, Wine Editor, San Francisco Chronicle,  followed by the Grand Tasting Saturday afternoon, where over 100 wineries will pour white, red, and rose' Rhone wines. Sorry, no Cabernet.

This years seminars are quite exciting and unique.

  • “Old World Inspiration, New World Innovation” with wine importer,  Patrick Will, Vice President of VINTUS.  This seminar will include benchmark wines from Guigal (Condrieu, Tavel, Chȃteauneuf du Pape and Côte Rôtie), as well as wines from Rhone Ranger winery members who were inspired to create their “Rhone style wines” while using innovative new world craftsmanship.
  • “Mourvèdre: A Rising Star in the World of American Rhones” will feature six wines (red and rosé) that are based on the grape known as Mourvèdre,  Mataro, Monastrell and at least fifty other names depending on where it is grown.

In the afternoon there is the Grand Tasting:  Trade/Media  & VIP Tasting  1-3 pm, and the Consumer Tasting is 3-6 pm.  Note, by popular request is on Saturday this year.  Enjoy Rhone wines followed by dinner in the city.


  • A weekend pass that includes the seminar pass and Grand Tasting is available here for $150.
  • Tickets to the Grand Tasting, only, are  available here for $50. (Seriously, only $50?)

For those of you 'afraid' of Ft Mason events as a drunkfest, as someone who has been on both sides of the table, this tasting attracts a more engaged, enthused audience, and is not over crowded – so, come, learn, enjoy.

Reader Offer #1 – use code '”22RRgrapes” to save off of either purchase.

Insider Info: Download the 80 page event guide and start planning your tasting in advance!  RRSF2013PrintedProgram-FinalProof

Share Your Rhone Love and Win A Pair of Tickets to The Seminars or Grand Tasting

Love Rhones? Or keen to learn more? (We all start somewhere.)

On Tuesday evening I will select a winner who can select to win a pair of tickets to the Grand Tasting or The Seminars.

To enter to win, simply share in comments below. Make sure I have your  FULL name and email.

1. What is your favorite Rhone varietal, and if you have a special food pairing you enjoy with it.


2. Which Of the Pouring Wineries Are You most excited to try, and why? (list here. )

Rhone Twitter #WineChat This Wednesday Night

In celebration of the event (Twitter hashtag #RRSF) I will be leading this week's weekly Twitter #winechat – the topic and wine of choice being imagesdomestic Rhone wines. Open a bottle and join me in a glass as I wax semi poetic on Rhones.

It's likely Randall

will make a brief appearance at the beginning.

Cheers, and lets get ready to Rhone!

Related Articles:

Pssst – Syrah Isn't Dead: Tasting Notes: 2009 Bonny Doon 'Les Pousseur' Syrah

SF Chronicle: A bright moment for the Rhone-minded

Winery of the Month: Highlights of Bonny Doon Vineyard’s ‘Day of the Doon’ at San Juan Bautista ‘Popelouchum’ Vineyard

As Syrah falters, make way for Grenache (SF Chronicle)

Wine of the Week – Bonny Doon Vineyard 2010 Clos de Gilroy – Central Coast Grenache

Wine of the Week – Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris De Cigare, Rosé

Why Rhone Wines & Wine Review: Wesley Ashley Wines – Intelligent Design Cuvee – #WBW71

Followup to “A New Beginning & Old World Renaissance? Robert Parker to Cease Reviewing California Wine” – A Great Video I Must Share

4th of July Weekend Marks Two Year Anniversary for 'Sonoma William' – and Brings More Changes, Evolutions & Decisions


What Hurricane? Rhone Rangers Ride to NYC Nov 7th – Details, Relief Efforts, Promo Code & Ticket Contest #RRNY

The good citizens of New York are enduring much these days, and my heart goes out to them. Does that make it inappropriate to hold a wine event, or talk about wine?

Watching my Facebook, Twitter streams of friends, I don't think so. Every snow or hurricane party I can think, of beverages have played a key part, and for those without power, it seems the local watering hole is more important than ever.

Indeed, James Molesworth of Wine Spectator  tweeted this afternoon:
“Pulling many corks tonite. Doorbell ringing w/ trick or treaters – normalcy. Friends/refugees coming for electricity/dinner – responsibility”

Now thats

the spirit!

Come Rain, Shine, or Challenging Transport, Let There Be Rhone!

In thus spirit, 30 Rhone Ranger wineries, many quite small, and indeed still wrapping up harvest (self included) are headed across the country in hopes of sharing our passion with a city whose citizens surely could use a cup of cheer. We hope to lighten your worries a bit next Wednesday November 7th.

If there is one thing a vintner, just finishing harvest appreciates, its hardship, and easing those pains, over a glass and a 'cheers.' Let's share Hurricane Sandy stories with harvest stories, and as humans have done for centuries, bond over stories & beverages.

City Winery is back online, and while public transit will remain a challenge for some time, things are expected to be improved greatly by next Wednesday.

Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund Raising – Drink Wine & cialis price Help!

The Rhone Rangers are working in real time to also turn this event into a relief effort fundraiser. Final details are being hammered out as you read this but donations based on attendance are being finalized and the possibility of other means, such as silent auctions, winery donations are being hammered out as we speak.

Thus your support, also helps us give more to this relief fund raising effort. Drinking wine supports our fund raising – not too shabby a way to be charitable!

Save 40% Off The Walk Around Tasting Tickets – An Insane Deal

To help stimulate sales, City Winery is allowing us to share promotion code 'RHONE7 ' to purchase tickets for $38, instead of $65.

That's over 100 wines to sample, from 30 wineries,  for $38.

PLUS City Winery’s executive chef Andres Barrera will prepare light appetizers to accompany the wines.

PLUS: Grand Prize Drawing: All ticket holders may enter a drawing for a two-night stay in Paso Robles, CA at world-class Hotel Cheval, combined with visits to local wineries for tours and tastings.

Lets see, New York City, SOHO, 100 wines, food samples, and a 2 night hotel drawing, for $38 a person. I spent twice that for brunch my last visit to SOHO.

Purchase tickets here:

Ticket Contest – Enter To Win A Pair of Tickets

This may be a test of my east coast reach, as Simple Hedonisms readership has been more West coast and California, but lets give this a try.

For 48 hours, I will hold a ticket contest – the lucky winner to receive a pair of tickets. AND I will arrange for a special pour by Two Shepherds for a 'behind the table' bottle of a special 13 case lot wine, and an TSA airplane friendly corkscrew.

To Enter, simply in comments below tell us:

Which of the 30 participating wineries are you most eager to try. (and if you wish, share why they are your pick.)

Contest ends Sunday evening at 9 pm Pacific, Midnight Eastern.

Wine Maker Dinner

Another steal, even without a promo code, is the winemaker dinner, which is held the following night, Thursday November 8th.  A mere $75 buys you a 3 course meal, paired with 9 wines, and a seat at the table of 8 with a winemaker or winery owner.


Tablas Creek Dry Rosé 2011,  Qupe Roussanne 2011, Tarara Viognier 2011, Villa Creek Grenache 2010, Ridge Vineyards Carignane 2010, Qupe Syrah Sonnie’s Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard 2009,  Petrichor Vineyards Syrah 2009, Folin Cellars Misceo Red Blend 2009, and Ridge Vineyards Grenache-Syrah Blend 2008.


  • 1st course: Beet Salad, herbed goat cheese, candied walnuts & mache
  • 2nd course: Fennel Dusted Pork Loin, chive smashed fingerling potatoes,charred zucchini
  • 3rd course: Selection of Murray’s cave-aged cheese, fig mustard, spiced marcona almonds

Members of The Trade & Media – Something Special for You

New York is a critical market for many member wineries, or one many would like to break into. The Rhone Rangers are hosting a trade & media tasting from 1230-400 pm.  Many wineries have sent the winemakers themselves, for you to taste & interact with.  Register here: Greene

There is also a limited seating seminar: Technical Seminar: Rare Wines, Come Taste the Unusual. 

Join us for a tasting of wine made from grape varieties that are hard to find. This event is by invitation only. If you are a qualified member of the wine trade or wine media and are interested in attending this seminar and haven't received an invitation, please send an email to info @ . Please use the subject line: TRADE SEMINAR INVITATION REQUEST.

Amongst the featured wines are very small productions of  Picpoul Blanc by Tablas Creek, Grenache Blanc by Two Shepherds, and other gems.

This seminar is moderated by Joshua Greene, editor & publisher of Wine & Spirits Magazine.

Rhone Lovers – Show Us Your Mettle – CAN YOU RHONE?!

I have always believed & maintained that lovers of Rhone wines, are amongst the most passionate & enthusiastic of any wine category I

follow. I am counting on you Rhone heads to keep the torch blazing brightly – because Wednesday November 7th, WE AREN'T DRINKING MERLOT!  (Or Pinot Noir for that matter.)

Rhone on!


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Romance the Rhones This Saturday July 14th at The Old Mint in San Francisco. (AND win a pair of tickets)

Join fellow Rhone Wine Lovers at the “Romancing the Rhones”

Grand Tasting

Do you love Rhone wines? Share in a deliciously Rhone experience on Saturday, July 14, At The Old Mint in San Francisco, Saturday, J

uly 14, 2012. Getting there is easy: it’s close to BART and there’s also a parking garage across the street!

Enjoy inspired, Rhone-friendly foods from local artisans. Sample amazing Rhone wines from California, Oregon and beyond. Learn something new about Rhone varietals.

As a Rhone enthusiast, I am very excited about this new event. I don’t normally discuss my own small wine brand, Two Shepherds on Simple Hedonisms as I believe in separation, but I will share that Two Shepherds is pouring its new 2011 releases which include the Grenache Blanc recently featured in the San Francisco Chronicle by Jon Bonné. I will also be pouring barrel samples of the very limited release 2011 Russian River Valley Grenache and Syrah at the VIP Barrel tasting portion.


Romancing the Rhones: Event Info & Options

  • Taste 100+ amazing Rhone wines from 40+ Rhone producers
  • Gourmet “Rhone Romance” Lunch with the Winemakers @ Chez Papa Resto in the Mint Plaza. Limited seating (Gold Bar Tickets, $85)
  • VIP Barrel Tasting (Gold Bar & Silver Dollar Tickets) – early start at 1230.
  • Blind Tasting of 40 top-scoring wines from Rhone Shootout.

    Pit your palate against the experts and vote for your favorites!

  • Walk Around Grand Tasting in the Vaults – meet the Winemakers
  • Perfect Pairings – 8 succulent wine & 8 brilliant bites (optional: $20)
  • Awards Ceremony – vote for your favorites

Buy Tickets Online

  • Gold VIP lunch is at 1130.
  • Gold and Silver VIP start at 1230 with Barrel Tasting and regular wine.
  • The Grand Tasting is from 2-430

Enter to Win A Pair of Tickets (Ends Tuesday Evening July 10th)

To Enter To Win is Easy – simply tell us in comments below, from the list of participating wineries below:

Which is your favorite and why/which wine you like most


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Which Winery are you most eager to try

Please include your first and last name for ticket will call in your entry.

Good luck and see you Saturday, Bastille Day!

Participating wineries include:

  • Anaba Wines
  • Art Farm Wine
  • Aver Family
  • Bonny Doon Vineyard
  • Bourassa Vineyards
  • Canihan Family
  • Cass Winery
  • Cinnabar Winery
  • Cornerstone Cellars
  • Crooked Vine Winery
  • Derby Wine Estates
  • Dierberg Vineyard
  • Drytown Cellars
  • Eden Springs
  • Fenestra Winery
  • Field Stone Winery
  • Fortunati Vineyards
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  • Gatt Wines
  • Grizzly Peak Winery
  • Guglielmo Winery
  • Hahn Family Wines
  • Hearthstone Vineyard and Winery
  • Holly’s Hill Vineyards
  • Hug Cellars
  • Jazz Cellars
  • Jessie’s Grove Winery
  • Leucadia Red
  • Mangels Vineyards
  • Michael David Winery
  • Midsummer Cellars
  • Nottingham Cellars
  • Perrucci Family Vineyard
  • Poetic Cellars
  • R&B Cellars
  • R2 Wine Company
  • Rahn Estate
  • RoxyAnn Winery
  • Skylark Wine
  • South Coast Winery
  • Spangler Vineyards
  • Tallulah Wines
  • Tercero Wines
  • The Winery SF
  • Two Shepherds
  • VIE

Sunday June 3 – Ride to SoCal With The Rhone Rangers at LA Pouring. (Also, Discount Code,Ticket contest & Live Twitter Tasting Thursday.)

Live in Southern California and missed the big San Francisco 2 day Rhone weekend this March? Visiting LA next weekend? Or a LA local looking to evolve your palate?

This Sunday June 3, The Rhone Rangers ride into Los Ange

les on Sunday, June 3, 2012, with over 45 wineries pouring over 200 American-grown Rhone wines.

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Read on for Discount code, a contest giveaway AND a live Twitter tasting with Guest Celebrity and Rhone legend!

New Venue – The 130 Year Old Vibiana

All events take place this year at a new location: the recently renovated Vibiana, a 130 year old

(yes, in LA) historic site located in the vibrant downtown area of Los Angeles at 214 South Main Street, near the LA Times Building.


This is event is small, intimate and limited ticket capacity that sells out every year.


Summary of Events:

(1) Trade & Media Tasting, 12 noon – 2 PM.

Indoor walk-around tasting, complimentary to qualified trade & media. Registration takes place online now through May 30 at Cheeses from Ancon Fine Cheese will be served.

(2) Courtyard Lunch for the Winemakers & Backstage Pass Ticketholders, 2-3:30 PM.

Wineries will break wine out into the courtyard for a lunch break. Backstage Pass Ticketholders (Tickets are $85) will join us for lunch served from gourmet food trucks. Everyone will be given 3 coupons, one for each truck, for food for lunch.Participating food trucks are Slammin’ Sliders (lobster sliders, kobe beef sliders), Flying Pig Truck (pork belly buns and other Asian-inspired foods) discount cialis and viagra and Coolhaus (ice cream). This will be informal, picnic style, no reserved seating, get up and move around to taste wine from your favorite winemaker.

(3) General Admission Consumer Tasting, 3:30 – 6 PM.

Walk-around tasting, tickets are $45 ($40 with Promo Code, SDKLA612) Taste from over 200 wines poured by more than 40 wineries. Food trucks in the courtyard will provide tasty treats for purchase to complement our wines. Bid on wine and wine-related items at the silent auction; proceeds from the auction will benefit the Rhone Rangers Scholarship Fund. This event ends at 6 PM.

Purchase here.

Great, Informative, High Energy Video About Last Years Event.


Enter To Win A Free Ticket, Two Winners: only 48 hours!

I told you to be patient and keep reading! Two lucky readers will have be able to attend this event.

To Enter to win, in comments below, simply tell us

Why You Love Rhone wines


Which one of the 40+ Participating Wineries (list here) are you Most eager to taste, and Why.

We pick this Wednesday night at 7 pm Pacific, so don’t delay!


Thursday Night – Live on Twitter: A Rhone Ranger #RRLA Chat with Icon Randall Grahm, and Other Wineries.

As they did for #RRSF, the Rhone Rangers (@RhoneRangers) will host a live Rhone tasting on Twitter from 530-630 pm. Simply follow hashtag #RRLA, the same hashtag that will be used at the event.

If you have to Google who Randall Grahm is, (and thats ok) your Rhone education is still blossoming. Read about Randall Grahm , the original Rhone Ranger. Yours truly (@SonomaWilliam) will take part of course, never one to miss a Rhone event.

Bring a glass of a domestic Rhone, red, white or Rosé , your favorite Twitter client loaded with hashtag #RRLA, or click your browser here. Open your Rhone bottle, share what you like, and interact with Rhone Rangers wineries, ask questions about all things Rhone!


See you on the Twitter airwaves, Thursday night as well as Sunday, where I’ll ‘broadcast live’ from the event. Cheers and Rhone on!


Related Articles:

Winery of the Month: Highlights of Bonny Doon Vineyard’s ‘Day of the Doon’ at San Juan Bautista ‘Popelouchum’ Vineyard

Tuesday Mar 20th – Join The Rhone Rangers and “SonomaWilliam’ for a Live Rhone Twitter Tasting 530-700 pm

March 24-25th in SF: “A Weekend Celebration of American Rhônes” or “Palate Enlightenment”. Read, Learn, Share and Win Grand Tasting Tickets





Countdown To The 20th Anniversary of Hospice du Rhône #HdR2012

What event is like Christmas, a Birthday, and New Years all combined into one weekend? For this Crazy about Rhône wines publication – it’s viagra online canadian pharmacy

g/” target=”_blank”>Hospice du Rhone, the largest international celebration of Rhône wines. Hospice du Rhône (aka “HdR”), held every spring in Paso Robles, is extra special this year as it celebrates its 20th anniversary.

What is so Unique about Hospice du Rhône?

There is a palpable energy about this event that is undeniable and infectious. Perhaps it’s the gathering of hundreds of people who trek from all over the US & Europe to spend 2.5 days in reverent, yet celebratory, homage to Rhône variety wines.

I am invited to numerous wine events every year but no gathering of wine aficionados that I have attended includes participants who exhibit the level of passion and devotion that characterize HdR attendees.


Who Attends HdR? Would I Be Out of Place?

There is no doubt that it is a more serious type of wine enthusiast who plunks down $800 (if buying the whole experience) and journeys to Paso Robles, a great Rhône wine destination itself. Paso is 3-4 hours drive from both LA and San Francisco. (While many will make the drive, the nearby San Luis Obispo airport has surprisingly good connections.)

People at HdR sense their mutual love of all things Rhône and are generally quite friendly. Each year I meet friends new and old from all walks of wine life. Participants range from normal passionate wine lovers, here to enrich their knowledge, perhaps new but passionate about Rhones; to winery personnel who are there to enjoy and learn; to wine writers and bloggers, who make an annual trek to “ Rhône Mecca.”

The seminars & tastings at HdR are designed so that no matter how new to Rhônes you are, or experienced you may be, you will learn something that will broaden your horizons and your palate at each session.

In addition, you can rub elbows with winemakers; restaurateur and Rhône devotée Sondra Bernstein of the girl & the fig; Rhone writer, guru & publisher Patrick Comiskey of Wine & Spirits; event founder and US Rhône winemaking

pioneer, John Alban; and many more. At each seminar, tasting, lunch, dinner, etc. – you never know with whom you will taste next too. But take notes and Google their names later, for odds are, you regularly will be next to someone remarkable and not even be aware!

Courtesy of HdR Website

You need only one thing to attend HdR (besides your credit card) – a desire to learn more about the 22 grapes that make up Rhône wines. Your experience there will span many styles, and countries.


Unique International Flair

The HdR team does an excellent job making sure that there are Rhône wines from all over the US represented, and not just wines from Paso Robles (the local Rhône epi-center). What’s extra special to me, particularly after my January trip to the Rhône Valley of France, are the many international wineries that attend.There is a large contingent from of Frenchies, wineries from Spain, Australia and more are represented.

If the price to attend HdR seems a bit high, consider the cost of the many weeks and plane tickets it would take you viagra drug to traverse the globe & visit all of these producers on your own!


Build Your Weekend Experience – A La Carte or The Whole Immersion

One of the nice things about HdR is that you can break up the weekend and purchase, on an a la carte basis, tickets to the tastings and seminars. For example, if you can’t get away for Friday, you can purchase tickets to just the Saturday events, or you can opt to purchase tickets to individual seminars or a tasting.

Talking to the HdR team, it appears that tickets are selling very fast. While HdR tickets always go fast, this year they are likely to sell out even earlier due to the 20th Anniversary. Indeed tickets for the Thursday night special CdP event (which replaces the usual bowling gala), sold out almost immediately (I even missed out on those!). Rooms in Paso, and the remaining tickets to this event, will be drying up shortly. Don’t be one of the many people each year who procrastinate, and then sadly are turned away. Indeed, tickets this year are in such high demand, that I was not able to procure a pair of Saturday tasting passes to give away as I have done in past years.


This Years Agenda & Seminars

It’s hard to say which I like better, the seminars or the tastings.

Last year it was difficult not to fall in love with the warm, humble French from the Roussillon. However, the Saturday tasting featuring food pairings and chef demos was also not to be missed.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Seminar One: Why Spain (continues to) Rock!

Presenters: European Cellars | Eric Solomon Selection Portfolio Producers: Exciting viticultural and winemaking practices have been taking place in the Priorat and beyond. European Cellars | Eric Solomon Selection will bring some returning and new producers from their portfolio to feature in this seminar. Take a look (and taste) at why Spain continues to ROCK! The panel will star Rhône variety practitioners from Spain.
Seminar Two: The Return of the Bionic Frog

Presenter: Christophe Baron of Cayuse, Walla Walla, Washington: Christophe Baron from Cayuse Vineyardsin Walla Walla, Washington will update you on his efforts since his first appearance on the Hospice du Rhône scene in 2000. Since 1997, Cayuse Vineyards has been farmed organically. Cayuse wines are created with minimal intervention, to protect the minerality, other aromas and flavors the vineyards give to the wines. The wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Other Events:

  • 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Rosé Lunch with dishes created by Chef John Toulze of the girl & the fig
  • 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. – BIG Rhône Rendezvous featuring BIG bottles and the cuisine of Blackberry Farm.NEW! This is a walk around tasting of large format bottles from over 100 Producers. Twenty years calls for a BIG Rhône Rendezvous don’t you think. Producers from far and wide will be pouring BIG bottles at this BIG, lively affair. Many have dusted off wines from their cellar and others have created something unique to celebrate this momentous occasion. To complement this BIG evening of BIG bottles highly-acclaimed chefs hailing from esteemed Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee will be serving up a taste of the South in a BIG way. Tables flowing with charcuterie and cheese will span the Tasting Pavilion throughout the entire evening. An hour into the tasting, Blackberry Farm will unveil food stations billowing with robust and scrumptious bites.



Saturday, April 28, 2012

Courtesy of HdR Website

Seminar Three: A Collective Quest

Presenters: Yves Cuilleron, François Villard and Pierre Gaillard of Les Vins de Vienne, Chavanay, France: Three vintners, three approaches to winemaking and growing. Les Vins de Vienne have succeeded in producing an alchemy that combines three sensibilities into a high-performance team spirit. This collective commitment to the production of quality wines is brought about by each individual experience. The wines and philosophies of these three long time amigos of Hospice du Rhône will be explored.

Seminar Four: Research, Revelations and the Art of Being Different

Presenter: Chester Osborn of d’Arenberg, McLaren Vale, South Australia: Numerous studies, both geologic and sub-regional have taken place since Chester’s last presentation in 1999. The ever dynamic Chester Osborn of d’Arenberg will be detailing these studies and will explain and show you how this information has impacted his viticulture and winemaking practices.

Other Events

  • 12:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Lunch and Live Auction with Chef Rick Manson of the Far West Tavern
  • 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. – Grand Tasting
  • 7:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. – Farewell BBQ featuring Chef Maegen Loring of The Neon Carrot



The HdR Website is a wealth of information:

The Rhone Countdown Continues

Over the next four weeks, I will be continuing my Rhone Countdown I started in xxx with more stories and Rhone reviews. Stay tuned for regular articles and reviews.

I’d love some reader input – is there anything in particular that you’d like to see as part of that countdown article-, education-, or review-wise? Another live tasting like I did for Rhone Rangers? Let me know…


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March 24-25th in SF: A Weekend Celebration of American Rhônes or 'Palate Enlightenment'. Read, Learn, Share and Win Grand Tasting Tickets

Unless you have been asleep for the last month, or not reading my blog posts (how dare you!) you should be aware I have been counting down to two upcoming amazing Rhone weekends. (Ok last weekend my new day job had me buried, and no weekly review.)

March is the Rhone Rangers weekend in San Francisco and April is the international Hospice du Rhône .

Read on, and enter to win tickets to next Sunday’s March 25th Grand Tasting. (Ends Monday!)


Why Rhones? Palate Enlightenment

I am asked frequently why I am so passionate about the Rhône wine category. For many, I think Rhone wines were the ‘epiphany’ wine – the one that made you go “AHA” – THIS is what wine is about.

I am not alone, if you attend Rhône focused tastings & events I find attendees to be more passionate than any other category.

Many of us got here in a traditional path – we drank big New World Cabernet and Bordeaux varieties to start. Maybe we stumbled or were lead into white wines. With luck many of us found Pinot Noir, before over ripening, doctoring became rampant (and now thankfully is quickly retreating.) At some point we discovered a well made Grenache, Roussanne, Mourvedre, cool climate Syrah, or a great blend, that sung in harmony.

Rhône wines offer something for every palate, and have a wide range of diversity.

  • For the newer wine drinker, perhaps seeking to branch out from Cabernet, a warmer climate Syrah can be a pleasant change, shares some characteristics, but offers a different flavor profile.
  • A Pinot Noir drinker, eager to find more wines that express themselves and aren’t buried in new oak may find a modest Grenache or Mourvedre, and fall in love.
  • For those who love whites, or who seek something interesting in a white, or even just want to learn to like whites: Rhone white wines can offer incredible density, complexity, acidity.

    Much to love. Indeed I have converted many a “I don’t drink white wine” naysayers with Rhone white wines.

Many Rhône producers, like legend and trailblazer Tablas Creek, follow the European philosophy that Rhone wines shine most as a blend. Rhone wines have more diversity across the varietals and give winemakers a huge flavor portfolio to work with, and thus consumers a myriad of combinations and flavor profiles. In Rhone wines, often the Sum of the Whole, is greater than the sum of the parts.

No matter how we got here, everyone has a story they love to share, and the journey of palate evolution never ends. Many, including winemakers will find the style of one variety, say Syrah, that they drank 5 years ago, is very different than what they prefer now. We have a wealth of winemaking styles, climates, terroir, and even grape clonal (genetic) differences that makes Rhone tasting a never ending exploration.

I Drank ALL the Kool-Aid!

One of these days I might write an article on my full story, but lets just say I am “all in.”Profile Picture

  • Eighteen months ago I joined the Rhone Rangers marketing committee as Media, and Social Media Marketing lead
  • Last Summer I was voted onto the Board of Directors, as Media representative
  • Last fall my partner & I launched a new Rhône label & micro-winery Two Shepherds. We don’t talk about our brand here, but its done very well thanks to supporters, and great accounts like the the girl & the fig, Spoonbar, K&L, Bottle Barn, Toast Wine bar, who have just about cleaned out our 2010 white releases, and now tapping into our newly released 2010 reds. I make wines in an old world, nuanced style, as I have been writing about, and put my money (literally all of it) where my mouth was. Sometimes I wish we sold less so I could drink it!
  • Over Winter I assumed the role of the President & Leader of the newly reformed North Coast Chapter. I am determined, with our members, to brand our area as a great place to Rhône . Look at our 4 page map and see how many producers we have.
  • Did I mention I have a full time demanding day job to pay for all this? :)

My only regret this year is that instead of roaming around as media (which I still do at many events, Simple Hedonisms is at an all time high of readers) I will be pouring our wine at the Saturday seminar #1, and the Sunday tasting. Not that I don’t love to share and pour our wine, but the Rhoneophile in me will be chomping at the bit to taste. Last year I could have used two days, not 4 hours.

Come see us, we will be easy to find, next to our beloved restaurant partner the girl & the fig. Our 2011 Whites are doing well, especially our flagship Grenache Blanc, and will be released soon. Mention this article for a sneak preview of a 2011 sample.


March 24-25th: A Weekend Celebration of American Rhones

The Rhone Rangers is America’s leading non-profit, educational organization dedicated to promoting American Rhone varietal wines. Nothing at all wrong with imported Rhones, I certainly by and drink my share, and a part of my heart will never leave the Rhone Valley – but the 140 members of the Rhone Rangers produce a wide array of great, diverse wines.

To pour a wine at a Rhone Ranger event, it must consist of at least 75% of one or more of the 22 Rhone varieties, designated here. How many can you name? (In fairness, we don’t even yet grow all 22 here in the US. )

This weekend event is a wealth of tastings and Rhone immersion.

1. Seminars

Saturday has two great seminars:

  • Rare Wines; Taste the Unusual. 12pm, Firehouse. From Picpoul to Counoise and beyond, come and meet the rarest Rhones and find out what makes them so unusual.
  • Wine & Swine, A pairing of American Rhones with how to buy viagra in canada Bacon. 2pm, Firehouse. Some say everything tastes better with bacon, we say how about bacon with your wine! This seminar will demonstrate the bacon-friendly aspects of your favorite Rhone varieties.

Sunday has one:

  • A Celebration of Syrah from Diverse Regions. 11am, Golden Gate Room. Rhone Rangers producers are pushing the envelope on syrah in a variety of ways. Come and taste the most widely grown Rhone variety from points north and south and east and west.

Rhone Rangers seminars are a value, at $45-$65 compared to many events. The seminars are moderated by Rhone enthusiasts and popular wine writers Jon Bonne’ of the SF Chronicle and Patrick Comiskey of Wine & Spirits. These esteemed gentleman will lead you through the tasting with input and comments from each of the wine makers. An inexpensive, unparallelled tasting & educational opportunity, for only 40 people per session Saturday, and 70 total on Sunday. These will sell out, don’t wait. To see who is in each seminar, and buy tickets, see here:

2. Saturday Night Winemakers Tasting, Dinner, Auction

Saturday night, at the newly opened Ft Mason General’s Residence, 17 winemakers will pour for you at a walk around tasting, then pour, sip and eat with you at dinner. Your meal is prepared by none other than the renowned girl & the fig.

This event also sells out every year, don’t wait.

3. Sunday Afternoon Grand Tasting

The most popular event & culmination of the weekend: 110+ wineries from all over the US, many whom are small, hard to find will pour for you. Food purveyors and food trucks will also be on hand. Grab the program, make a plan, and taste your way through your favorite varietals, or learn & taste about some new ones.

NEW – Buy Wine and Take it Home! For the very first time, attendees can buy wine right at the table, pay for it and take it home. Since many of these wineries are small, and may not have local distribution, this is a perfect time to grab that gem you liked and take it home. Over 60 wineries will be selling wine, and will be specially marked in the program, as well as the flag at their table. To make it even easier, you may check your purchases at one of two holding points, so that you can continue to taste unencumbered. For those of you who attended Taste of Mendocino, this was a great experience.


Share & Enter To Win a Pair of Tickets – Ends Monday


win, simply post below in comments one of the following:

(1) Tell us what Red or White Rhone variety (grape) you are most interested in learning about, and why, in a brief sentence or two.


(2) Tell Us Your Favorite Producer or Wine, from the List of those Participating

Correct answers will be pooled and drawn by random number generator Monday night! If you don’t win, grab a ticket, at $45


Follow On Twitter

You can follow the event’s fun live on Twitter, simply follow or search for hashtag #RRSF – cheers!


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Tuesday Mar 20th – Join The Rhone Rangers and “SonomaWilliam’ for a Live Rhone Twitter Tasting 530-700 pm

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Tasting Notes: Wesley Ashley Wines 2009 Intelligent Design Cuvée – And Why Rhone Blends Rock

Wine of The Week: David Girard 2009 Mourvèdre – A Pinot Lovers Mourvèdre

Why Rhone Wines & Wine Review: Wesley Ashley Wines – Intelligent Design Cuvee – #WBW71




Part 5 of The 12 Days of Wine Christmas: Wine Seminar Last Minute Stocking Stuffers for Wine Event Lovers and Rhone Hounds

I can’t think of a better gift you can buy tonight or tomorrow to put in a stocking or under the tree: Seminar passes to two of my most beloved wine events of the year: Hospice du Rhone and the generic levitra australia Rhone Rangers March Grand Weekend.

If you  have a loved one that lives in the Bay Area or Paso Robles, is already into wine, or keen to learn a lot more, these two weekend events, and their seminars, are an amazing experience.

Hospice du Rhone – 20 Year Anniversary. April 26-28

You will here me gush more as this event gets closer. Held every in Paso Robles, this event is a complete immersion of Rhone education of tastings, pairings, and seminars. This years event looks like it will trump all others. HdR is different from the Rhone Rangers event in a number of ways, one being its focus on International as well as domestic producers. Its a global event, literally.

The Seminars usually are not sold a la carte, and this is only the second year, and in limited quantities. Seminars so far are:

Seminar One: Why Spain (continues to) Rock!

Seminar Two: The Return of the Bionic Frog

  • Christophe Baron of Cayuse will take us through his wines of Walla Walla, Washington.

Seminar Three: A Collective Quest

  • Pierre Gaillard, Yves Cuilleron and Francois Villard take the stage to share their wines of Les Vins de Vienne

Seminar Four: Research, Revelations and the Art of Being Different

  • Chester Osborn of d’Arenberg, Australia will take the guests on an in depth tasting and discussion of his wines and research.

These seminars are $155 a piece. Or show them you REALLY love them and but the whole weekend experience, seminars and tastings, for $795

Tickets and info are here.

The Rhone Rangers: A Weekend Celebration of American Rhones. March 24-25th


year Fans of American Rhone wines gather for the  Annual Rhone Rangers San Francisco Tasting.

This event has grown in scope and success and is the largest American Rhone wine event in the country. Over 2,000 consumers and members of the trade  attend for the opoortunity to taste over 500 of the best American Rhone wines from more than 100 Rhone Rangers member wineries.

While many thin

k of the event as just the Ft Mason Grand tasting, its actually evolved into  two days with three seminars, a winemaker dinner, the Grand Tasting, and a live and silent auction. Tickets can be purchased a la carte, or for the best pricing use the weekend daytime events pass.

SEMINAR #1: RARE WINES, COME TASTE THE UNUSUAL, Saturday, March 24, 2012, $45/ticket

SEMINAR #2: WINE & SWINE, A PAIRING OF RHONE VARIETIES WITH BACON, Saturday, March 24, 2012 $65/ticket

SEMINAR #3: AMERICAN SYRAH FROM A VARIETY OF REGIONS, Sunday, March 25, 2012, 11 AM, Fort Mason $55/ticket 

Tickets information and purchase is here.

Happy Holidays and Rhone On!!

Related Articles:

Part 4 of “The 12 Days of Wine Christmas” A gadget for geeks and tasting rooms – Vinassure Wine Preservation System

Part 3 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas” THE Instant, Perfect, Holiday Gift: Wine Road Winter Wineland Tickets

Part Two of the ’12 Days of Wine Christmas” – Cork Fabric Gifts

Part 1 of “The 12 Days of Wine Christmas” – Why not Wine? Some Gift Pack Suggestions


Rhone Rangers San Francisco Grand Tasting – A Complete Rhone Weekend, not just a Tasting. 

A Rhone Event Like No Other – Hospice du Rhone April 29-30 Paso Robles (OR – The French are Coming!)

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