Now this is the way to hold a seminar…with wine tasting between and even during sessions. Three California wine organizations held this event at Cavallo Point (in Ft. Baker on the Marin side of the Golden Gate). The 40-something and younger winemakers were pouring their wines, and talking it up on subjects ranging from wine styles to the impact of social media. They’re a passionate, dedicated group and their wines are worth discovering, or trying again. Karl Wente’s wearing thong sandals, which pretty much sums up the casual laid back atmosphere for me. One vintner said he thinks the California style is going back to the basics, with natural yeasts and fermentations.
Star Lane and Dierberg Estate Winery – winemaker Nick de Luca was pouring a ’08 Dierberg Chard that was crisp and fruity, with a kiss of barrel. I’ve been to the Star Lane ranch property, in the Santa Ynez valley and it is amazing. The Star Lane ’06 Merlot was juicy with blue fruits, an earthy nose and a long finish ($30 and $36).
Heringer Estates – this is in Clarksburg, near Sacramento. Mike Heringer was pouring an ’08 Viognier which I liked very much, and also the ’05 Petite Sirah, which was dark and jammy but very balanced. Good prices too, $19 and $21 respectively
Jason Smith from Paraiso Vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands was pouring a Riesling that had just a hint of sweetness, and at $14 I could sip this any time.
Andrew Murray, the namesake of his winery brought two good Rhone wines — an ’07 Grenache, and my favorite, the ’06 reserve Syrah. ($30 and $50). The Syrah was deep and inky, almost black actually, and had a nice balance between fruit and peppery spice. It’s a big wine yet it was also silky smooth.
I was also digging the ’06 Lila’s Cuvee, a Rhone blend from Clos LaChance that Cheryl Murphy Durzy was pouring ($50).
Judd and Holly Finkelstein of Judd’s Hill were pouring a fantastic ’05 Cab ($45). If you haven’t seen this, you’ve got to check out Judd’s online series “Judd’s Enormous Wine Show.” It’s a lot of fun to watch.