Don’t get me started on “Sideways.” Sure, the movie helped weed out lots of mediocre Merlot, but it saddled the good ones with an unfair bad rap. Which is why, when I taste an exceptional one, I want to share it.
September is California Wine Month, a celebration of all varietals made up and down the state. With roughly 4,500 wineries producing wine, how do you choose? Fortunately we’ve got an insider to turn to, who has swirled, sniffed, sipped and spit his way through dozens and dozens of wines in a quest to seek out great values. Dan Dawson’s Wine Advisor September 2018 list (#DDWA) boasts 45 fantastic wines, none of them the usual suspects. Super bonus – most are amazing values. Who says you have to spend big bucks to drink well?
Follow Dan’s lead, it could take you a month or more to work you way through his list, but you’ll be rewarded with some fantastic glasses of wine to share.
Ok, the list includes wines outside of California and the United States, and those international wines represent some of the best values. But you can find a couple of Napa Valley Cabs for around $50 too (Cufflinks Howell Mountain ($50) — wow! — and William Hill “Benchland Series” ($53)). Here are my highlights from Dan’s recommendations.
When you swirl, sip and taste wine, you may know the grape variety and vintage, but do you know where—and how—those grapes were farmed and why that matters? There’s way more in that glass of wine than grapes and alcohol.
Throughout Silicon Valley, many grape growers are farming organically and sustainably. Some of these hardworking farmers sell their grapes to local wineries where they are made into acclaimed wines. And some of the growers have become distinguished winemakers. What they all share is a passion for wine growing that runs deep. We visited to two ranches—an old-vine vineyard in Gilroy and a newer Bordeaux varietal vineyard in Los Gatos—to find out what it takes to farm great grapes for great wine.
Wouldn’t it be great if you had a trusted friend who knew all the cool wineries to visit in Napa Valley? Well now you do. My friend Dan Dawson — of Dan Dawson’s Wine Advisor — is the ultimate Napa insider. He’s sharing his personally curated list of must see and taste at wineries in the valley.
September is California Wine Month and there’s no better way to celebrate it than spending a day or weekend visiting wineries. Santa Clara Valley — in southern Silicon Valley — is one of California’s oldest and most historic wine regions. Home to 31 wineries, the appellation is a mix of long established labels and new kids on the block.
The Wineries of Santa Clara Valley hosts a month-long Fall Passport event Sept. 7-30, when wineries open their doors to visitors traveling along the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail. You’ll meet the winemakers, who will be pouring current releases and a few surprises just for Passport.
One of my favorite wineries in El Dorado County, in the Sierra Foothills, is a pure Rhone wine house. Skinner Vineyards wines are matched by the spectacular 360 degree views from the tasting room, perched on a hill at more than 2,000 feet high, surrounded by estate vineyards. On a recent visit my tasting started with the 2017 Rosé, El Dorado County ($24 at winery tasting room).
You do once you spend time in California’s Santa Lucia Highlands.
In mid July I was part of a Somm Tour of the this AVA, which runs along the Santa Lucia Mountains range in Monterey County, south of Carmel. To the east is the Salinas Valley, home to strawberry, lettuce and other produce farms. To the west, over mountain peaks, is the Pacific Ocean. And, most importantly for this appellation, to the north, Monterey Bay, a large, frigid body of water that impacts grape growing here more than anything else.
One thing I love about the wine world is being able to work with amazing people. Dan Dawson is one of the coolest wine people around. I’m excited to be partnering with him and his new venture, Dan Dawson’s Wine Advisor. I’ve always been a fan of Dan’s palate ever since I first met him at the Napa wine boutique he founded, Back Room Wines. He has a knack for finding exquisite wines — often at decent prices. Thanks Dan for turning me on to Stolpman Vineyards early on BTW! I’ve been a fan ever since.
Dan grew that business into the place to find great bottles for a Wednesday night or a special occasion. Now, he’s sharing his personal selections, not just from Napa, but from around the world, to help you discover that next great bottle of wine.
Every July the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association unrolls Taste Our Terroir (TOT), a indulgent food and wine weekend across this East San Francisco Bay wine growing region.
Vinous and culinary deliciousness were on full display on July 26 at the TOT wine and food pairing competition. All of the wines had to be made with Livermore Valley grapes. Yours truly sipped, spit and noshed her way through 20 team offerings, along with 700 wine and food lovers, while a panel of three judges, ensconced away from the crowd, tasted them blind. I’m always fascinated to see how my favorites compare to the People’s Choice Awards and the Judges awards.
Here are my top picks — and you too can compare to the other results via links at the bottom of the post. This is always one of my favorite wine events, and I highly recommend you put it on your must do list for 2019.
It’s always fun when you discover a wine in your collection that you kind of forgot about. This was the case with a bottle of 2012 Knez Winery Demuth Vineyard Chardonnay. I remembered really liking it when I tried it in 2014, so much so that I bought a bottle, and squirreled it away.