Posts Tagged ‘Two Shepherds’

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!


Related Articles

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

Wine of the Week: Baxter Winery 2006 Carignan – And the Rhone Countdown Begins

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




Experience 6 Micro-Wineries You Normally Can't Taste, Feb 4th, In A Unique Try& Buy Tasting, Santa Rosa

My mantra that Wine Tasting events must evolve remains steadfast, as I have written numerous times. (See buy cheap cialis online

href=”″ rel=”bookmark”>Wine Tasting Events Must Evolve, Taste of Mendocino June 13th, A Fresh Unique Format.)

In the ongoing competition of events, organizations need to evolve what they offer consumers. Likewise, for small wineries to survive, they can not simply continue to pour dozens of bottles of wine at events, without some level of ROI, beyond brand recognition.

Thanks to the concept of custom crush, where winemaking facilities can be shared, the advent of virtual, microwineries continues to grow. Yet if these wineries don’t have normal hours, how does one get to taste, and purchase these handmade (often hand bottled, labelled) true artisan, very small lot wines?

The state of California does not make premise wine sales very easy, but the industry and technology continues to evolve to facilitate wine tasting combined with sales.

One of these events is occurring Feb 4th in Santa Rosa.

Micro-Winery Collective Open House at Inspiration Custom Crush

Many wineries now share their facilities with other small winemakers. This win win arrangement allows them to faster recoup their large capital investment, and simultaneously allows new, small wineries to get started without the capital investment up front, albeit at a higher production cost per bottle.

Inspiration Vineyards, itself a micro-winery producing ~1000 cases a year, is one of these facilities. Under its roof, Jon Philips has other wineries making wine. These small vintners have no tasting room, and sell by appointment only, and to restaurants.


Taste Small Lot Wines You Can’t Normally Try or Buy

Feb 4th, from 11 am to 5 pm, you will be able to try and buy these wineries.

Ticket Price Includes Wine Purchase Credits

The event features small bites to go along with the

wines, and Ultra Crepes, one of my favorite food trucks will be on hand.

Tickets in advance are $20, but come with $10 credit towards wine purchase, and $5 towards food, reducing your cost for the event to a mere $5.

You may purchase tickets online at:

Don’t miss the great opportunity to taste wines you can’t normally!

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

Seven months ago, at the crack of dawn, catching an early article on Vinography, I wrote “A New Beginning & Old World Renaissance? Robert Parker to Cease Reviewing California Wine.”

This has remained one of my most widely read and shared articles, second only to ‘Shipping Included’ – the Future of Direct to Consumer? An interview with Bonny Doon Vineyard.

I don’t really like the wine sensationalism angle that many popular bloggers, and even some writers use. Yes it garnishes  huge amounts of comments from other bloggers and writers, but that is not my intended audience, as honored as I am when they read Simple Hedonisms.

I wrote this article out of passion. I feel so strongly about a movement BACK to wines of balance, elegance, and modest alcohol that after several years of pontification I have put my money (all of it) where my mouth is and started a new micro label (<300 cases) called Two Shepherds. Rhone varieties (of course) Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier and Grenache Blanc for white blends; Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, for reds. All under 14% alcohol, and all fermented or aged in neutral oak. Yes, even the Syrah.  Final permits are being completed, and wines should for sale shortly. Or I will drink them all myself – my friends and I all seem to enjoy them!

Anyway, this article was one of passion and belief, not sensationalism, and it was well received by the industry.  I was honored that well known writer Charles Olken, read and mentioned me in a post, even if he said I was being dramatic.

Early analysis shows its unclear how much this change to Antonio

Galloni will cause, and one must be realistic, but we ARE seeing changes, and there is buzz. Consultants who made a living ‘Parkerizing’ great wines may hopefully be researching consulting on wines of balance instead.

There is a very funny video, with a kernel of truth at its core. Its tongue in cheek, but it carries a message.  My apologies if anyone finds the backdrop offensive.

Enjoy & cheers!


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Wine Label &amp; Logo Design Contest for our new Rhone label – Two Shepherds: Ends Sept 7th

I haven’t written much about it, (although some of the 2010 Garagiste saga was documented in (My 2010 Rhone Harvest – Garagiste or Passion Gone Runaway? ) but I have been working quietly on a small wine brand of my own. 2010 production was 175 cases, 2011 will be (cash depending) ~300 cases.

One might wonder if  that means the end of Simple Hedonisms, and the start of a new career? No, not really, nor do I see any conflict of interest or threat.

In many ways its a combination of a hobby run amok, and a science project, as well as yet another way to further my never ending thirst for wine knowledge.  It just happens that I will need to sell a bit of my hobby as I go. Long term, perhaps this is a future path, but that remains to be seen. I hope to have website launched, and wine for sale in 60 days.

Label Design Help

I am far behind schedule on this project, having only just recently bottled my three whites, a Grenache Blanc, a Viognier, and a Roussanne/Marsanne blend (with a touch of Viognier.) The red blend to be finalized and bottled next week. Thankfully I now have the help of my partner Michelle, who has come on  as a minority partner to assist .


Label Design Contest

We will likely ultimately hire an experienced label designer for all the final details, but time is very short, and cash tight, so why not take advantage of crowd sourcing.  So here is our idea:

  •  Concept Winner: If we love your design or concept we will offer $200 cash & $200 in wine credit, or $500 in wine credit, plus design recognition.
  •  Concept Runner Up: Over time we may have multiple labels, so if we love but don’t use your design at this time, we will award it with  $75 cash and $75 in wine credit , or $200 in wine credit, with the right to use the design in the future, with design recognition.

Logo Design Contest

Logo Idea : We also need to design a small logo that can be used on stationery, capsule (the foil at top), literature etc.

We are leaning towards something with two shepherds crooks, (staffs) at 45 degree angles and crossing each other, but are open and looking for creativity.

            •   Logo Design Winner: If we love your design or concept we will offer $100 cash & $100 in wine credit, or $250 in wine credit, plus design recognition.

 Please have submissions in by Sept 7th.

Two Shepherds Label Design – Background

Two Shepherds needs to get a new label done, quickly. We have have 175 cases bottled that need labels NOW.  After spending hours pouring through stock illustrations, we are close to what we want, but need some help finishing, as no stock illustration or picture quite fit the bill.

The Story: “Two Shepherds” concept is of two people (myself and Michelle), both shepherds one by personality and the other by name who have created a Rhone wine label, the intent to shepherd or guide consumers back to interesting wines of nuance, subtlety, and approachability.

Label Idea: Monochromatic or grayscale sketch or photograph. Ideally depicting a vineyard scene, rural scene,  herded sheep, vines, grapes or anything illuding to two shepherds or shepherding.  It DOES NOT have to be a literal illustration of two shepherds.  It can also be as basic as a font or the font in an interesting layout.  We played around with a Shepherd’s crook or staff and writing the words two shepherds across the staff. We think this has potential but really needs some polishing.

Color Theme: Gray/Silver, White and Teal/Blue.  This can always be tweaked or modified later but we seem to like the look of this color scheme and are trying to keep color palete to a 2 to 3 color max for printing purposes later.

Logo Idea : We also need to design a small logo that can be used on stationery, capsule (the foil at top), literature etc. Leaning towards something with two shepherds crooks, (staffs) at 45 degree angles and crossing each other.

Please note that for the label and logo, we are planning on Two Shepherds, not 2 Shepherds. We don’t dislike the latter, but are concerned ‘2010 2 Shepherds’ will look confusing.



Sheep herd Royalty Free Stock PhotoThe Shepherdess.

















These are good examples of the “grayscale” images that interest us.  We feel grayscale tends to lend itself to the “old world” feel of French wines and their traditional engraved labels.





This is a nice illustration and a great sketch of a shepherdess but not necessary the image we want. We don’t feel it is so necessary to be so literal (illustrating two shepherds) since “Two Shepherds” will be the name on the label.  Maybe a scenic sketch with vineyards and sheep illustrating and depicting more the sheep and

vineyards or the vines.  More focus on the wine.



These are a few more sketches. The feel is there but the subject (vine rows) are a bit too generic.  We are looking for creativity!  If done right I believe a sketch since it is already in pencil is a nice look and coloring.









These are examples of  non traditional crooks/staffs.  One idea is a staff is a strong symbol of a shepherd without actually placing the shepherd and shepherdess in the label. Some kind of play on the staff could be very interesting. Whether that is with vines running up them, them hanging on a trellis, etc… Ideas are endless.

 Logo Ideas

As stated, We are leaning towards something with two shepherds crooks, (staffs) at 45 degree angles and crossing each other, but are open and looking for creativity.

Below are several examples for your consideration.

for the logo but shepherd staffs instead another crossed crooks crest with crooks


When the contest is done, we will post all interesting submissions, with design credit, should you wish it. Best of luck and don’t hesitate to email simplehedonisms @ with any questions.


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