Posts Tagged ‘wine’

Labor Day Weekend is Sonoma’s Finest Food and Wine Weekend

A Very Special, Personal Weekend

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend (SWCW) is a special event for me, and Simple Hedonisms. Four years ago….hmm I thought it was five, have I REALLY only been here just over four years? People think I have lived here forever.  Anyway, I digress.

Courtesy of SWCW

Courtesy of SWCW

Moving here on a complete whim in July 2009 in a whirl of tumult, I followed my passion and knowing almost no-one, and having no social media presence, I descended upon Sonoma County. I wasn’t new to the county wine scene however. I have shared regularly, I was in love in the Sonoma, especially Russian River Valley, and visiting so regularly, it just made sense to move, and immediately it ‘fit.’ I immediately planted a tiny vineyard, assisted with harvest, and started Simple Hedonisms.

I am a huge fan and regular attendee of the Wine Road events, but the Saturday Taste of Sonoma was my first walk around tasting where on foot, you could experience dozens and dozens of wineries, sorted by AVA (region) and get a true taste of how diverse the county is.  Sprinkle in amazing food, gorgeous scenery, good weather, and Sonoma County hospitality, and if you don’t love it here, you should be in the next Grinch book.

Just prior to the event, I launched the blog after being urged by many for years to do so, and the Taste of Sonoma, was my first event covered.  The article probably had 100 readers then if I was lucky, a far cry of the peak of my most active writing of 5,000+ a month.  This 2013 event may also prove to be special and unique for me, but alas, that is for a future telling.

How passionate am I about this event? I am in the middle of one of the busiest weeks of my year, and I am taking the time to sit outside with my laptop, overlooking my vineyard project, glass in hand, and trying to ‘write’ as opposed to pasting the press release. We can sleep when we are dead.

Experience The Magic in Sonoma’s Unique Event

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is an annual event every Labor Day weekend and is Sonoma County’s largest charity event and premier wine and food event, celebrating the region’s incredible bounty of food, wine, and fun while raising much needed funds for Sonoma's local charities.

The event is actually entire weekend full of a la carte options, from Friday night dinners to Sunday BBQ, each detailed below.

1. My Favorite: The Saturday Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch

Courtesy of SWCW

Courtesy of SWCW

There are many wonderful tasting events in the county, and Bacchus be willing (and I also win the lottery) I’d attend them all.

However there are very few ‘walk around’ tastings, most involve going to each winery with a bracelet and a glass. These are wonderful because they provide the experience of the winery itself.

There is however a certain ‘efficiency’ (although I hesitate to use that word for such a relaxing, joyful environment.) of being able to walk around dozens of wineries gathered together from regions like Russian River, Dry Creek, Sonoma Valley etc and compare across the region, and then compare regions. There are 200 wineries in total pouring! I suggest you print the list and make a plan.

Come For The Food: If wine isn’t your thing, the event hold’s its own on the food and demonstrations alone. The who’s who of our many talented chefs are present, with over 60 chefs offering their creations.

Courtesy of SWCW

Courtesy of SWCW

The event is brilliantly orchestrated and comes off like clockwork. You simply enjoy a decadent day.

Tickets are $115 for Visa Signature holders (odds are you have one, flip your card over) or $165 for general admission. This Saturday event sells out! (All Grand Reserve already are.) You have been advised.

2. Friday Night Sonoma Starlight at Francis Ford Coppola, with Food Icon Sondra Bernstein

Kick off Sonoma Wine Country Weekend poolside at the iconic Francis Ford Coppola Winery for an unforgettable evening of world-class wines, delicious cuisine, live music, and dancing to Bay Area favorites Pride & Joy — all set against a backdrop of shimmering stars in the Alexander Valley.

Courtesy of SWCW

Courtesy of SWCW

Guests will enjoy a bountiful array of local, seasonal cuisine poolside created by Sonoma Wine Country Weekend’s 2013 Honorary Culinary Director, Sondra Bernstein and Chef John Toulze, proprietors of the girl & the fig. Over 20 local wineries will be on hand to share their Sonoma County wines, pairing wines with incredible local fare.  Info and Tickets here.

3. Friday Winemaker Lunches and Dinners

Prefer something more intimate? Enjoy a special afternoon or evening of wine and food.  Many of these are already sold out, as seating is limited to each. Remaining winemaker lunches include wonderful venues like Davis Family Vineyards, Lynmar Estate, Landmark, and others. See the full list, descriptions and tickets here.

Only a handful of the Winemaker dinners remain, in various parts of the county, including a few seats at places like Sonoma Cutrer, Longboard, Muscardini and a few others.  I attended one of these last year, and it was buy viagra free shipping a highly personable, memorable experience.  See the full list, descriptions and tickets here.

4. Sunday BBQ

Three wineries are offering a Sunday BBQ and wine, a perfect finish to the weekend. Since there are only three, these shouldn’t last long either. See the full list, descriptions, and tickets here.

5. Sunday Harvest Wine Auction

For you high rollers, this is an amazing, first class experience of food, wine, and entertainment, all casual but classy Sonoma style. I was fortunate enough to be invited to one of the limited seats once.

Courtesy of SWCW

Courtesy of SWCW

The Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction is Sonoma County’s largest and fun, fundraising event, bringing together the wine community and caring donors to raise essential funds that make our world-class wine region a better place by supporting our kids and our community. Not all lots are expensive, I 'bought' a lot that was simply a donation to a fund that assists our migrant grape pickers.

Immerse yourself in the intrigue of Brazil at the 21st Annual Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction, Sonoma Samba, sponsored by TricorBraun WinePak.  The Grand Lawn of Chateau St. Jean will be transformed into a Pan-Latin Celebration. The winery skits, usually in theme, are quite comical. (I will forever carry the memories of the Benziger brothers in bikinis for a beach theme.)

Your ticket not only offers you passage into the Wine Spectator Auction Tent, but it also allows you to mingle with Sonoma's finest winemakers, as each table will be presided over by a local  Winemaker or Grower who will share not only their finest wines, but great stories, too! Over 70% of the tables are already sold out.

Follow The Fun On Twitter

Courtesy of SWCW

Courtesy of SWCW

This event is attended by people all over the country, all here to experience the magic of Sonoma. You can follow some of the fun on Twitter via hashtag #SWCW as well as their Facebook Page. However, I suggest you come experience it in person. I will be.


Related Articles

The Annual Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch

Spotlight on Sonoma – Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Sept 3-5: Visa Signature Event Highlights

Sonoma County's Finest Wine Weekend Gets Even Better: New Starlight Dinner Kickoff


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Summer New Release Bash tomorrow July 20th at Sheldon, Krutz and Two Shepherds

Summer is in full swing and Sheldon Wine, Krutz Family Cellars and Two Shepherds want to celebrate with a new release summer bash! (I don't publish events normally about just my own label, but since this is three, I hope readers don't mind.)


Each winery will be releasing 1-2 new wines, including the much awaited Two Shepherds 2012 Grenache Blanc, the Krutz 2011 Martinelli Road Chardonnay 96 points, at the recent North Coast Challenge, and the highly acclaimned Sheldon Anderson Valley, 2011 Roma's Vineyard Pinot Noir, 94 points by Virginie Boone of Wine Enthusiast.

We will also be featuring a oysters, chocolatier, local artist, and a Bocce Tournament.  Read below for full details, it's a not to be missed party!

Ticket Details

The wineries have decided to truly celebrate to waive entry fees and make the event free! We'd greatly appreciate RVSPs as it helps with planning. RVSP at

The event is from 2-7 p.m. at Sheldon Winery, 1301 Cleveland Ave, Santa Rosa.

Your ticket includes a taste of the 6 releases from the 3 wineries. Normal tasting fees applie to full lineup of each winery.

Wine will also be available by the glass to consume with your game of Bocce, BBQ, Oysters etc!

New Releases:

Krutz Family Cellars:

  • 2012 Inspiration Vineyard Chardonnay
  • 2011 Martinelli Road Chardonnay. 96 Points at the recent North Coast Challenge

Sheldon Wines:

  • 2012 Weatherly Rose'  – a special rose' of Graciano, an uncommon varietal!
  • 2011 Roma's Vineyard Pinot Noir – 94 Points Wine Enthusiast

Two Shepherds:

  • 2012 Grenache Blanc, Santa Ynez. Much anticipated, after the 2011 success
  • 2011 Grenache Noir, Russian River Valley, Saralee's Vineyard

Oyster Bar!

While supplies last, Dylan will be shucking oysters to pair!

Food with Wine, Of Course!

The boys will be grilling a pork shoulder and smoked beans will be available.  Wine will be available by the glass, so after your tasting of the 6 releases, grab a glass of something tasting, and enjoy the summer bash!
Interact & Socialize With the Wineries & Wine Makers

Too often we end up behind the table the entire event, filling glasses and have 30 second engagements. This time we have vowed to try and stay away from that, and out with our friends and supporters, socializing, answering questions, and having fun, while our talented teams fill your glass!

Guest Artisans

While you sip wine, check out these other cool Sonoma wares:

  • Photography of Damon Mattson: Damon Mattson has been a photographer for more than 20 years and is a Sonoma County ARTrails artist. Damon attempts to create photographs that are so realistic that you feel as though you are standing in front of the actual place. t
  • Bert's Desserts – Wine truffles and more! Syrah, a Petite Sirah and a Viognier truffle, as well as  Chocolate and Raspberry Truffles, and Peanut Butter Cups. Bert's was a big hit at our last event, come see why!

Bocce Tournament

There is a Bocce' court in the back, we'll be hosting a tournament! Bring a team, or form one on the spot.

THE Party of the Summer

So: cialis online pharmacy thats 6 new wines, an onsite oysters, food, bocce tournament, wine by the glass, local artists, party with the winemakers, at one of the funnest tasting rooms in town...

You have heatstroke if you miss this! (and yes we have AC!.)


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Navigating Champagne … a Festive Tasting in Paris!



By Katherine Parker

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The weekend before New Years’ I found myself tasting Champagnes in a Paris apartment with a friendly group of wine aficionados. The tasting was put together by Camilla Macfarlane, cheap viagra canada a California expat living in Paris, with a background in the wine industry. Camilla put together a wonderful lineup of Champagnes in the holiday spirit, with generous hors d’oeuvres by Kent Keatinge to highlight the wines.

Six Champagnes – all Brut style from esteemed houses – were on the menu. Brut is a medium-dry Champagne and the most popular style sold today. You may find an Extra Dry (slightly more sugar) or an Extra Brut (slightly less) but most of what you see on the market is Brut.  Four of the six were from the region of Reims in France.

Champagne Tasting in Paris

Champagne Tasting in Paris

The first two were contrasting varietals: A Laurent Perrier Cuvée Rosé Brut NV made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes, and a Philipponnat Brut Grand Blanc made from 100% Chardonnay grapes. I found the Laurent Perrier the most aromatic of all wines poured, with a distinct nose of fresh wild strawberry-raspberry and an appetizing peach color.  Little cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches went well with these small bubbles. The wine comes in a plump dark bottle – the green glass indicating the “black” pinot grapes. The curvy shape and pink collar clearly brand this as a feminine wine.

Laurent Perrier Cuvée Rosé Blanc

Laurent Perrier Cuvée Rosé Blanc

Also, the Laurent Perrier is a Cuvée – a blend of grapes from 10 different villages, all in the Reims region known for Champagne. The wine is

aged for at least 4 years and is 12% alcohol – another thing I enjoy about Champagne.

The Philipponnat comes in a white bottle to indicate the all-white Chardonnay grapes. A small pastry appetizer topped with tiny shrimps was perfect with this creamy, smooth Blanc de Blanc-style wine.

Magnums of Champagne

Magnums of Champagne

Next Camilla brought out 2 magnums, each a Brut NV blend of all 3 grapes used in classic Champagne: Veuve Clicquot with at least 50% Pinot Noir, 28% Chardonnay, and 15% Pinot Meunier grapes, and Taittinger with 40% Chardonnay and 60% Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The Taittinger captivated me with crispness and structure based on balanced acidity.  That this

wine is a blend of grapes from 35 different “crus” or villages, attests to the winemaking skill of the family-owned Taittinger house.

Drinking from a magnum offers a higher quality wine, because there is less oxygen in the bottle relative to the surface area of the wine. This is also said to favor the creation of small bubbles, which enhance the tactile experience of drinking Champagne.

About this time, we moved on to an appetizer of fish breaded into lollipops, with an apricot-mustard sauce. Whether it was the magnums or the fabulous food and conversation that made the evening so agreeable is hard to say. I think by this time we were all having a great time.

Comparison tasting

Comparison tasting

The near-final Champagne was a Ruinart Brut from the same blend of grapes as the Taittinger but made to be even more crisp, acidic and refreshing. The Ruinart undergoes full malolactic fermentation, which is not noted for the Taittinger. Our group thought this might account for the difference between the two wines.

The Grand Finalé was a vintage Dom Perignon 2003 Champagne. I enjoyed the minerality and structure of this taste. The bubbles were the most perfect of the evening – a fountain of tiny bubbles pulsing up from the center of the flute. Paired with beef chili on mini wheat tortilla squares – Mexican with Champagne goes great!

This event was a great opportunity to compare and contrast. I favored the tastes and textures of Ruinart and Taittinger.  At the end of the day between the two, it would probably be decided on price.  If price were no object, I would go with the Ruinart.

If you are living in Paris, or even if you are visiting like I was, check Camilla’s Paris Wine Meetup Group for tasting dates.

Related Articles:

Tasting Notes: Paul Bara Champagne Grand Cru Brut Grand Rosé

Simple Hedonisms Sparkling Wine Highlights – Part 1: Imports


Win Tickets to Next Weekend: "Eat, Sip, & Be Merry" On The Santa Rosa Wine Trail

The Members of The Santa Rosa Wine Trail  are hosting a special holiday tasting weekend on Saturday, December 8 and Sunday, December 9 from 11 am to 4 pm each day. The wine trail is a collecti

on of urban wineries and tasting rooms, restaurants, and a hotel, all located within a a close radius, and a few minutes of downtown Santa Rosa.

Guests will enjoy food trucks, live music, and exclusive tours and buy cialis online activities at ten wineries. Each guest will receive a special “passport” for the weekend. Passports with stamps from each location will be entered for a drawing to win prizes including a case of wine for only one cent!

Tickets Are Only $25 buy soft viagra AND Include $10 Wine Purchase Credit

The ticket price of $25.00 presale or $35.00 at the door includes tastings at ten wineries and tasting rooms, a commemorative wine glass, and $10.00 in “wine bucks” which may be used towards the purchase of wine at any of the participating wineries.

For designated drivers, a $5.00 ticket includes special activities and non-alcoholic beverages.

Tickets are available at, at participating wineries, and at the door at any of the participating wineries during the event.Eat Sip & be Merry

Participating wineries are: Carol Shelton, D’Argenzio, Inspiration, Krutz Family Cellars, Old World, Paradise Ridge, Sheldon, Siduri/Novy*, Two Shepherds, and the collective at Vinoteca.

The Fountaingrove Inn is offering a limited number of Deluxe King Rooms for just $89/night to Eat, Sip and Be Merry visitors who would like stay in town Friday, Saturday and/or Sunday nights.  A link to the special purchase rate is available at Other lodging options may be found at

Enter to Win A Pair of buy generic cialis online Tickets

To win is simple, simply tell us in comments below:

If you were to receive wine as a Christmas gift from one of the wineries pouring – which would be your favorite pick?

A winner will be drawn at Random next Wed evening Dec 5th.  Enter now!


About the Santa Rosa Wine Trail

The Santa Rosa Wine Trail is a collection of eleven wineries, three restaurants, and one hotel in northern Santa Rosa in Sonoma County, California. The Santa Rosa Wine Trail card (print yours here or pick one up at one of our member wineries) is your passport to great days and nights of some of the best wine and food Sonoma County has to offer, all in close proximity.

Members: Carol Shelton Wines, D’Argenzio Winery, Inspiration Vineyards, Krutz Family Cellars, Old World Winery, Paradise Ridge, Robert Rue Vineyard, Sheldon Wines, Siduri/Novy, Two Shepherds, Vinoteca, John Ash, Stark’s Steak & Seafood, Willi’s Wine Bar and Vintners Inn.The offica map of the Santa Rosa Wine Trail

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Sonoma County's Finest Wine Weekend Gets Even Better: New Starlight Dinner Kickoff

Labor Day weekend in Sonoma County is extra special to me.  Its’ the weekend every year that hosts my beloved adopted county’s premier, county wide wine event: Sonoma Wine

Country Weekend, the star of which, for me personally, is the Saturday afternoon Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch. Its also my last hurrah before harvest for my own wine project begins.

Why is Taste of Sonoma So Special?

It’s the only event of the year where wineries from our many widespread AVA’s (regions) gather together into one place. People email me regularly saying “I am coming to ‘Sonoma’ where should I go?” Often not realizing we have 13 AVAs, and the county is very spread out. And the regions can be VERY different. Russian River Valley and Dry Creek Valley are only miles apart, but one is very warm, and one is very cool, and produces very different wines.

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Sonoma County has lots of great  wine ‘bracelet’ events, where you go from winery to winery, but fewer ‘walk around’ tastings where you can move from table to table covering ground more quickly, and these tend to be focused on a single variety or narrow focus.

There is no other event where all our regions are combined together in one event on this scale. As if that isn’t enough, each regional tent is accompanied by some cheap auto insurance of the many rock star chefs and great epicureans of the county.  It’s an event not to be missed. I attended it in a boot cast once even and hopped around at lightning speed!

My only ‘complaint’ every year is that 4 hours is just too little time, I could spend 2 whole days just tasting food and wine from so many amazing artisans. The afternoon window is a gift and experience I’ll happily accept.

The other amazing thing about Taste of Sonoma is the leisurely pace. It’s true several thousand people attend, but the event is so well organized, and spread into so many venues and things to do, it never feels busy, rushed, or crowded.

This event sells OUT! You have been warned if you procrastinate. People travel from all over the country ever year to attend this event.

In addition to tickets there are additional items you can add to your event, including Sommelier Tours and more.  Many are already sold out!

New in 2013:  Sonoma Starlight Supper Club

On Friday, August 31, the first ever Sonoma Starlight Supper Club will be held at Francis Ford Coppola Winery. Set against the backdrop of the shimmering night sky of the Alexander Valley, the Sonoma Starlight Supper Club begins poolside at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery, featuring an array of wines from twenty Sonoma County wineries paired with local cuisine served al fresco and prepared by Jeff Mall, Carlo Cavallo and Josh Silvers, the Sonoma County trio of chefs that comprise Culinary Cuvee.

The evening will culminate with dessert, live music, and dancing to the ever-popular Bay Area band Pride & Joy.

Also available is an exclusive Patron Ticket which will entitle guests to a Sparkling discount cialis online Wine Reception, a luxurious, sit-down multi-course meal prepared by Mark Stark – Chef/Owner of Stark Reality Restaurants, and access to a cigar bar and private lounge.


But Wait, There’s More!

I am not doing the Wine Country Weekend experience justice focusing just on the Taste of Sonoma. Locals and visitors alike can fill their weekend with lunches, Friday and Saturday night dinner parties, and BBQs. I attended a wine maker dinner last year and it was an incredible evening.

Last but not least, there is the Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction – a grand affair at Chateau St Jean this year. I was the guest of a sponsoring winery 2 years ago, its an amazing, fun, experience. Also, money raised at this, goes to support Sonoma charities. In 2011, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend gave $395,385 to local charities in Sonoma County.

See you at MacMurray Ranch!

2012 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Schedule At-A-Glance

Friday, August 31
12:30 p.m. – Winemaker Lunch Series, sponsored by TricorBraun WinePak
7:00 p.m. – Sonoma Starlight Supper Club at Francis Ford Coppola Winery sponsored by Kaiser Permanente
6:00 p.m. – Winemaker Dinner Parties, sponsored by TricorBraun WinePak
Saturday, September 1
11 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch®
6:00 p.m. – Winemaker Dinner Parties, sponsored by TricorBraun WinePak
6:00 p.m. – Chairman’s Dinner Party
Sunday, September 2
12:30 p.m. – Winery Barbecues at Wineries throughout Sonoma County
1 p.m. – 7 p.m. Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction at Chateau St.

Jean, sponsored by TricorBraun WinePak

Related Articles

Spotlight on Sonoma – Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Sept 3-5: Visa Signature Event Highlights

The 17th Annual Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch


Transport Yourself to Spain This Weekend at the Gloria Ferrer Catalan Festival. Enter to Win Tickets!

Spend The Day in Spain Without Leaving The Bay Area

Every year

Gloria Ferrer, one of my favorite sparkling houses, transforms their lovely winery into a Spanish Catalan Festival.

This July 21 – July 22, 2012 from 11:00am – 4:00pm, they will transport you to Spain for a day of order generic viagra online Spanish food, wine and entertainment with lively classical guitar, passionate flamenco dancing, a festive grape stomp and traditional folklore surprises.

Stroll and enjoy savory tapas, paella demonstrations and wine seminars as you sip California sparkling and estate wines.

The day offers wine seminars, cocktail demonstration, grape stomping competition, cooking demonstrations, live music, singing, dancing and more. Check out the full schedule here.

Tickets are only $50 ($42 for wine club, and include a souvenir logo flute, 2 drink tickets, 4 food tickets, passport to sample Spanish wines, music and dancing entertainment, and Grape Stomping entertainment! Purchase here.

Check out this fun video of the event!:


Win A Pair Of Tickets – Ends Thursday!

Simple Hedonisms readers are lucky enough to again be offered to win a pair of tickets to this wonderful event.

To Enter To Win is Fun and Easy.

Simply go to this list of fun sparkling wine food pairings and tell us in comments (here on the blog) which one sounds most yummy paired with bubbles to you.

Make sure we get your first and last name for ticket will call.

Ends this Thursday evening, don’t delay! To enter you Must be 21 years

or older to enter, and that by entering you verify you are over 21. Winners will be chosen from correct answers by random drawing.

Gloria Ferrer Facebook

Rosé has Legs! Report from Pink Out! SF

by Katherine Parker

I attended PINK OUT! SF this week, an event eagerly anticipated and long-awaited by me. PINK OUT! is an annual wine tasting and food-pairing celebration focused entire

ly on Rosé wines. It’s hosted by Chef Robert Lam at the San Francisco waterfront location of his Butterfly Restaurant. PINK OUT! SF, in its 8th year, is organized by the Rosé Avengers and Producers (RAP).

Getting Sassy at Pink Out! SF

Rosé came onto my radar when I moved to Sonoma in 2009 and started classes in the wine studies program at Santa Rosa JC. Instructors like Bob Frazer, Ray Johnson and others opened my palate to a broad spectrum of wine varietals and winemaking styles I had never considered drinking. Rosé was one of those.

Living on the border of Carneros, Sonoma Valley and Sonoma Coast, I was soon smitten. My piece “Romance with Rosé,” became one of Simple Hedonisms’ most popular. When I found out there would be a tasting of 30+ Rosé wines in one place, I was excited. The wines, the Butterfly waterfront venue and food, and the sassy spirit of PINK OUT! SF lived up to my expectations and more.

The Wines

Rosé is so versatile. Think of the many ways you can use and enjoy it: As a low(er) alcohol purchase cheap levitra wine for a business or vacation lunch (Envolve or Korbin Kameron); as a mouth-cleansing refresher with spicy Asian or BBQ food (Lasseter Family); as an appetite-stimulant with a plate of fabulous cheeses (Dunstan or Kokomo); as a celebration wine, when you want a Pink Champagne with (Gloria Ferrer) or without the bubbles (Chateau D’Esclans) as an aperitif for a festive occasion. Also, a very good Rosé can be had for a great price. Of 40 or so wines, most are priced under $25 with several good value Rosés at $14-18. These were just a few faces of Rosé at PINK OUT! SF.

Roses of all shapes and colors

I found Rosés of all origins, varietals and colors at PINK OUT! SF: France, Spain and Australia; Sonoma and Napa; Yolo and Lake county grapes are represented. There are Rosés made from Grenache, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Syrah, Sangiovese, Vermentino, Zinfandel … to name a few. And at least one (MidSummer Cellars) co-fermented with Viognier (Like!).

The Colors

Straw. Pale Gold. Silver. Platinum. Peach. Salmon. Pink-Pink.Foamy Pink. Licorice Red Candy. Clear Ruby. Hot-Pink! Deep-Pink. Take your pick of pink.

As a whole I found the wines well made. I had a few favorites, which are influenced by my personal preferences (running to dry, low-alcohol Rosé, particularly of Pinot Noir, a varietal I favor).

Top Picks

Top Pick: Kokomo 2011 Grenache Rose

Kokomo Grenache Rosé 2011. Grapes from Pauline’s Vineyard in Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma CA. This wine is elegant in every dimension: Crystal clear pale platinum in color, dry berry bramble nose, round and mouth-filling on the palette. Drinks well by itself and would pair excellently with an aged Spanish Manchego cheese, shellfish or naturally seasoned grilled pork. It was the perfect accompaniment to Chef Lam’s spicy paella. 13% Alcohol, $22.

Dunstan Rosé, 2011. Signature salmon color,

light fragrant nose, dry and cleansing on the palette. Balanced and satisfying. From Sonoma’s famed Durrell Vineyard Pinot Noir grapes.

VML 2011, Rosé of Pinot Noir. Winemaker Virginia (Ginny) Lambrix (Truett-Hurst and VML labels) made this lovely Rosé of Pinot, which retails for $19.

Many other wines here were also worthy of mention:

Chateau D’Esclans, Whispering Angel Rosé 2011, and Rosé 2011 from Cotes de Provence, France. Whispering Angel seems to create a category all it’s own. Made from a blend of 7 varietals – predominantly Grenache and Rolle – it is silvery pink in color, soft and round, and so light it seems to evaporate pleasantly in the mouth. Almost like champagne without the bubbles. 14% alcohol, $19. I liked the Rosé 2011 for its direct and structured approach – Grenache and Rolle with 20% oak. 14% alcohol, $35.

Gloria Ferrer was memorable for sparklers. They I tasted a couple of interesting and well-priced Spanish pink wines, Segura Viudas NV Brut Rosé ($8) and Freixenet NV Rosado Brut ($13). These were great paired with the oyster appetizers.

DEFINE Wines 2011 Syrah/Grenache Rosé. A new entrant with a finely-tuned, bold and fruity 13.5% alcohol Rosé. $38.

Carneros Wine Co., 2011 Fleur de California Rosé of Pinot Noir. Made from grapes from Carneros and Suisun Valley, this is a straightforward refreshing Rosé. Perfect for lunch at 12.5% alcohol and $14 retail.

Butterfly Restaurant

Chef Lam put together a menu of spicy paella, grilled-cheese burgers and salad that paired so well with the Rosé tasting it was a hard act to follow. Then it was followed by platters of cheeses with cornbread triangles that made me realize how much the cheese and the Rosé wanted to be together. The waterfront location is ideal with its floor to ceiling windows and open kitchen. I will be back soon to discover the menu and waterfront vistas.

Pink Out! SF Crew

The Bling

At the same time my interest in Rosé developed, Rosé winemaking styles have been rapidly evolving from a “what shall we do with the leftovers?” into an art and craft of Rosé. This event expresses the accessibility, diversity and enthusiasm of today’s Rosé. It’s on my calendar for next year on the second Tuesday of May. That should give me enough time to shop for something pink and sassy to wear in 2013.


Related Articles

A Call For Rosé – May Panel Review (Drink Pink!)

Tasting Notes: Envolve Winery 2011 Rosé, Sonoma Mountain

Wine Road Barrel Tasting – The Premier Wine Buying Event of The Season. Learn, Share and Win Tickets! (4 winners!)

Barrel Tasting – an event in North Sonoma rich in history. In fact this is the 34th anniversary.

I look forward with great anticipation to the six days of Barrel Tasting

, across two weekends, as do many of the 20,000+ attendees, many of whom fly in from all over the country to taste and stock up on wine, both bottled and futures.

At the end of this article is a chance to win a pair of tickets – 4 winners – so read on!


Barrel Tasting Is For Serious Wine Lovers

I have written numerous articles about Barrel Tasting over the last 3 years, and will admit I am a staunch advocate.

It’s an event that can garner complaints from some locals, jaded hospitality staff, and the occasional cheap Media sensationalism title to get a reader, but the reality is it’s a serious wine tasting & buying event for many, not a party.

The few stories that are bound to happen when 20,000 people go wine tasting, shouldn’t be overshadowed by the people who drive & fly in, from all corners of the US to taste & buy wine. Lets focus on those.


Toss Away Your Stereotypes & Get Some Perspective

Last year, I wrote two articles with dozens of people posting their positive comments on this event, and many who wrote to me as well. Generally, other than inter-industry chatter, consumers are quiet on blogs, but in this case over 40 came out to say something.

Everyone has a bad story about this event, but sadly what’s not shared enough are the many great ones, which last years comments highlighted for me, including one reader who wrote me, asking I not stereotype ” ALL buses as bad.” She was part of a group that every year rents a bus and drives several hours North, and everyone on the bus are serious tasters, all of whom leave with cases of wine. I stood corrected, and perhaps lost a regular reader.

These letters and comments made me realize just how many people really enjoy this event, with comments like:

“I LOVE Barrel Tasting, it’s a chance to get together with friends, who have varied experience with wine”


“This was our third year barrel tasting and we pretty much have it down to a science with strategic routes for Friday and Saturday, while Sunday is more relaxed meandering around downtown Healdsburg.”


“I had an excellent experience during weekend one of Barrel Tasting. The future wines were fun to try and then comparing them to a finished product was an experience that led to the purchase of so many cases of wine that my hybrid was doing a wheelie on the drive home to Berkeley!”


“Barrel tasting has become an annual event for my friends and I. In fact, we collectively have several wine club memberships as a result of Wine Road events.”


“I haven’t missed Barrel Tasting in years. I started going when I was a student at SSU. I got so hooked on the event that I decided to invite my cousins and make a weekend out of it. We use it as a bonding weekend to try fabulous new wines and taste old favorites. I love Barrel Tasting because it brings wine lovers together for one reason. I always come away with new stories, great memories, and a great new wine collection. I never leave a winery empty-handed and often come home with cases. I have also purchased futures and especially love going back when they are ready to try my favorites again!”

Just a small selection of the 40+ comments received.


Stop The Whining About Wine-ing

I love the wine business and wineries, but some it seems are never happy. “Its been dead for weeks.” “This event had no traffic.” “Oh my GOD, There were TOO MANY people.”

So which is it? It’s interesting for me to observe, often first hand, wineries that make a huge success, year over year, of the Wine Road’s three events, including this one, and those that decline every year, and bitch & moan in the process.

Having worked closely with some, (and been on the other side of the barrel) its all about attitude, preparation, and outlook. Is every person who comes into your tasting room an opportunity to join your wine club, or just some pain in the ass who drank too much that is in buy viagra without rx your way until 5 pm comes? You decide. I can tell you those who view it the former, always lead in sales results.

I have written repeatedly about the importance of the tasting room experience and its impact on wine sales. It’s as important (if not more important) than the quality of the wine. The winery with a great hospitality experience and mediocre wine will outsell the winery with the reverse, every time.

Locals, yes Healdsburg can be a bit crazy Saturday afternoon I know. Our hotels, shops, and restaurants are also all full. If you can’t

appreciate what this does for our tax base and smile just a bit, consider it a great weekend to get out of town.


What Barrel Tasting IS:

  • A chance to taste some great wines.
  • A chance to learn about wine that isn’t done yet, and the wine making process.
  • A chance to buy great wine and save some dollars, both in futures and finished wine sales.

I have more detailed information and suggestions in articles: My thoughts on Wine Road Barrel Tasting and Barrel Tasting Insights – What am I Tasting & Do I Get Splinters? What should I buy?

As always, I suggest you print out the Wine Road program, and make a plan. Some wineries participate early on Friday, this is an EXCELLENT opportunity for more attention and less traffic. Some wineries also only participate the first weekend.


What To Bring:

  • The program guide, with your plan:
  • A cooler to put your wine purchases in. Yes its going to be 70 degrees. Bring a cooler. Heat kills wine.
  • Some food items. Since much of Dry Creek and Russian River is sparse in dining options, bring a picnic, a blanket and take a meal break. Or make your plan around dining somewhere in Geyserville, Healdsburg, or Santa Rosa. This is a day to be enjoyed, stop and smell the roses and eat lunch – its will enhance your day and experience. Its not a contest to see how many wineries you can visit.
  • Common sense. If you hate crowds and/or want to visit popular wineries, make your plan accordingly. Go to less busy areas like Geyserville & Russian River during peak times, and hit Dry Creek, Healdsburg, and popular wineries on Friday, first thing Saturday or Sunday morning.

Ok, Can I Win Tickets Already?

This Thursday Mar 1st, at 6 p.m. we will draw 4 pairs of winners for the Second weekend (March 9-11).

To win one of two ways (enter both!)

(1) Tell me in comments any one of the following:

  • Have you attended Barrel Tasting before, and what is your favorite part of the event? OR
  • Have you ever purchased futures before? Where? OR
  • If you won tickets, what winery do you want to go to most, and why? (Please make sure the winery you pick is participating, the list is here.




(2) Sign up for Simple Hedonisms email updates in the top right corner.

Its secure, private, and simply emails you when we have new articles. Nothing else. (Important – you will receive a confirmation email to complete your subscription, you must finish that step to be eligible.)


I look forward to hearing your thoughts and giving away some tickets! See you on the Wine Road – Heaven Condensed!


Related Articles

Barrel Tasting Insights – What am I Tasting & Do I Get Splinters? What should I buy?

My thoughts on Wine Road Barrel Tasting. Tell us yours and win tickets.

Observations of Wine Road Barrel Tasting Week One; Suggestions & Ticket Contest for Week Two


Wine Events in the North Coast for February 15 – 24

Wine lovers and romantics are still coming down from the chocolate-induced sugar high last weekend’s pre-Valentine’s Day festivities caused. Fortunately, events for the coming days put the emphasis back on wine.

Start off your weekend with a jaunt

to the town of Sonoma this Friday evening. The Lodge at Sonoma is hosting the VinOlivo Grand Tasting. Nearly 60 different Sonoma wineries will be pouring and 25 restaurants and caterers serving.

If you’re a fan of Alsace varietals, or just like to laugh at people trying to say “Gewurtztraminer,” then I highly recommend you head up to Boonville this Saturday for the 7th annual Int’l Alsace Varietals Grand Tasting. There you’ll find more Pinot Gris under one roof than imagine. And, if you get white wined out, you can amble down the road a bit and enjoy some lovely Anderson Valley Pinot Noir.

If you have an interest in California wine history — and would like to meet it — you’ve got to go the 6th Annual Vintners Hall of Fame Induction Celebration at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena. The food and wine are always excellent and you’ll never have a better opportunity to meet the legends of the California wine industry. Here are this year’s inductees.

All events listed below are in chronological order by region. Some events require advance reservations or ticketing, so it’s best to click through for any event you’d like to attend. The headline links for each event will take you to the calendar at where you’ll find further details on that event. And event organizers sometimes change details at the last minute, so it’s always a good idea to contact the host prior to showing up at their doorstep. For events in other regions, also check the calendar or my weekly NorCal event articles.

Lake County

Saturday, February 18

Ceago Winemaker Dinner at the Tallman Hotel — Upper Lake: 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Owner Jim Fetzer, winemaker Barney Fetzer and family members will be there to introduce the wines and pairings.

Mendocino County

Saturday, February 18

Int’l Alsace Varietals Festival Technical Conference — Boonville: 9:00am – 11:30am
Winemakers from around the globe discuss winemaking and grape growing specifically for Alsace varietals.

7th annual Int’l Alsace Varietals Grand Tasting — Boonville: 1:00pm – 4:00pm
Meet the winemakers and taste Alsace-style white wines from around the world, including Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Muscat.

Alsace Festival Winemakers Dinner at Shaffenberger Cellars — Philo: 6:30pm
Enjoy a sumptuous dinner with the winemakers and learn more about their wines in the elegant private dining room at Sharffenberger Cellars.


Napa Valley

Ongoing Events

Saturday February 11 – Monday, February 20
The Ultimate Decadent Tasting at Trefethen Family Vineyards — Napa:
10:00am – 4:30pm
Enjoy special selections of Trefethen wines paired with handmade confections produced by one of Napa’s finest chocolatiers.

Friday, February 17

Cornerstone Cellars Winemaker Dinner at Bardessono — Yountville: 5:30pm – 8:30pm
Enjoy a special 5-course tasting menu drawn from Lucy’s Garden by Chef Victor Scargle, inspired by the wines of Jeff Keene.

Saturday, February 18

2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Release at Nichelini Family Winery — St. Helena: 11:00am – 5:00pm
Leona Marini, 4th generation, will be on hand to offer food pairings and stories.

Winemaker’s Dinner & Bob James Concert at Miner Family Winery — Oakville: 6:00pm – 10:00pm
An intimate concert in the caves followed by a a four-course dinner prepared by La Saison chefs Natalie & Jonathan Niksa paired with new release 2009 Miner Cabernets.

Sunday, February 19

2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Release at Nichelini Family Winery — St. Helena: 11:00am – 5:00pm
Leona Marini, 4th generation, will be on hand to offer food pairings and stories.

Monday, buy online prescription viagra February 20

6th Annual Vintners Hall of Fame Induction Celebration at CIA Greystone — St. Helena: 4:00pm – 8:00pm
A rare opportunity to mingle with noted winemakers, famous chefs, and wine-loving celebrities.


Sonoma County

Friday, February 17

VinOlivo Grand Tasting at The Lodge at Sonoma — Sonoma: 7:00pm – 10:00pm
Sip Sonoma Valley’s best wines as you get to know the personalities behind the

wine. Sample food from more than 25 of Sonoma’s purveyors.

Music at Vino di Amore Tasting Lounge — Cloverdale: 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Guitar ballads with Brian Ward

Saturday, February 18

Mardi Gras Celebration at Meadowcroft Wines — Sonoma: noon – 4:00pm
The St. Gabriel’s Celestial Brass Band, down home Louisiana cookin’, a Second Line-Parade, award winning wines and of course BEADS!

Sunday, February 19

Amphora’s Zinvitational: Zinfandel and Cioppino at Amphora — Healdsburg: 11:00am – 4:30pm
Current, library and barrel-sample Zinfandel plus Cioppino, sourdough and green salad.

President’s Day Celebration at Old Roma Station — Healdsburg: 11:00am – 4:00pm
Limited production wines from Bluenose, Hart’s Desire, J. Keverson, Kelley & Young, Sadler-Wells, Sapphire Hill, Skewis, Shippey and Willowbrook.

Sundays on the “Terraza” at Santa Rosa Vintners Square — Santa Rosa: 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Bring a picnic. They’ll will provide the wine, bocce ball court and live music.

Thursday, February 23

J Vineyards & Winery Winemaker Dinner at John Ash & Co. — Santa Rosa: 6:00pm – 10:00pm
Join J Vineyards & Winery Assistant Winemaker, Scott Anderson, for an excellent dinner paired with five J wines.


Event organizers and publicists get your events published here. Post your events in the calendar at Posting events there requires a one-time registration (easy, peasy), but is totally free of charge. And it only takes a couple of minutes. I’ll soon post a guide at with tips on how to make event posts as effective as possible.

Disclaimer: The events I’ll call attention to here are those that I’ve become aware of and which offer something beyond the standard winery tasting room experience. Neither I nor William are compensated by any of the event organizers in any way. The listings are for the benefit of the community. Event details are subject to change without notice.

This article is by Fred Swan for Simple Hedonisms. All rights reserved.

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

As a wine reviewer, geek, and consumer, wine preservation is one of my largest challenges. I regularly have 2-4 bottles of wine open at a time, often special ones I want to keep preserved.

Over the years I have tried many techniques and gadgets, with varying success. Fodder for another article, but let me just say, air is bad for wine and that vacuum pumps don't cut it.

Peter Jackel, the developer of VinAssure Argon wine Preservation, generic viagra with echeck is a wine geek and love, we chatted live prior to this article.

Why VinAssure

VinAssure grew out of a simple desire not to waste wine, and a practical business need to make good use of every last drop. For years Peter was the owner and proprietor of a small wine store and tasting bar. One day he calculated the dollar cost and waste of  tossed  wine that had just become an accepted sunken cost of the business. Even with a small program the numbers were staggering, as he realize he was pouring potential revenues down the drain.

Ditch the 'Can'

Peter first took the 'band-aid approach', and started using the disposable gas-in-a-can for preservation. This method was pricey for the low quality of preservation, but Peter was complacent with my hasty preservation solution., Then one day when a regular customer sitting at the tasting bar happened to see me gassing a bottle with the disposable can stuff. This sparked an in-depth lesson and virtual tongue lashing on how gas-in-a-can was a mixture of gases including Nitrogen and Carbon Dioxide that produced a drastically inferior barrier of protection against oxidation.

Peter quickly learned that experts and industry professionals resoundingly agree the best method is to seal in the aroma and flavor of wine by creating a layer of 100% pure argon gas, the heaviest and most dense of all colorless, od

orless gases that can be used to preserve wine. This conversation peaked my interest, and sparked what would become a three year journey to discover and develop the most effective, efficient, and affordable wine preservation system possible.

VinAssure is Born

One of the first high-pressure systems developed saw daily use in Peter's  wine shop and tasting bar for over three years. It was so simple and economical that they decided to develop variations of the basic system for use in both home and commercial settings. Using the finest quality industrial parts, they have created a lightweight, hand-held device which holds a great deal of argon gas under high pressure. This allows VinAssure™ to last much longer than other systems, lowering the per-use cost to a fraction of some comparable preservation systems.

VinAssure is simple and easy to use, check out this video in action.

The Perfect Gift for the Wine Lover (Or your Tasting Room/Wine Bar)

I bought one for myself I was so hooked after seeing it in action at a local tasting room. Its a biggest investment than the small cans, yes, but its a superior solution, refillable, and more environmental. Your wine aficionado will love you for it.

I have been amazed how many tasting rooms use the little cans…spend a

bit more now to save money long term, and preserve your wine much better and long. The ROI on this should be pretty short.

Other Geeks Agree!


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