What to drink this October: Wine Picks from #DDWA

As the season changes from late summer to early fall, my tastes in wine change too. Sure, I still want a crisp, cool white on those warm autumn days, but as the sun sets and a chill develops, I’m reaching for lighter, brighter reds too. You probably think that means Pinot Noir. Nope, I want something exciting and different. That’s why I turn to Dan Dawson’s Wine Advisor to show me the way.

In his October 2018 list, Dan puts the spotlight on seven Napa Valley producers, some you may know, and others worth discovering. I’ve been a Neyers fan for a long time, especially of the Rhone varietals, but a $60 Napa Cab? Yes please!

Blending artisan glass and wine on California’s Central Coast

You wouldn’t expect to find a wine bar inside a glass factory — or would you? Visit Annieglass in Watsonville, on the California Coast, between Santa Cruz and Monterey, and you’ll find local wines being poured among shelves of just fired glass platters, bowls, vases and more. Annie Morhauser, the brainchild behind the design, launched her artisan, sustainable glass studio 35 years ago. Her unique techniques and organic designs have garnered a loyal following, not only for their beauty and collectibility, but also for their functionality for day-to-day living. Two of Annieglass’ iconic pieces — from the frosted and sandblasted Shells series,— are on permanent display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Annie’s factory has been open for tours and shopping, but in May 2017, she added Craftbar, a wine bar and crafts workshop mashup. On weekends, you’ll find local wine and beer at the bar, offered along with a…

Your Late Summer Early Fall Go-To Wine List from #DDWA

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.

In the Vineyard: Meet the Grape Growers

Grapegrower George Besson, Jr., in his 188-year-old Grenache vineyard in California’s Santa Clara Valley, is a third generation grape farmer.

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.

An Insider’s Guide to Napa Valley Wineries x DDWA

Cuviason’s tasting room is in Napa Valley’s Carneros district. (Courtesy of Matthew Millman)

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.

Santa Clara Valley Passport: 10 Must Go To Wineries

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.

Santa Lucia Highlands: Wind and Wine

Have you even thought about wind being an element of what makes great wine?

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.

Welcome Dan Dawson’s Wine Advisor: Great Summer Wines

Winemaker Yannick Rousseau of Y. Rousseau with Dan Dawson. (Courtesy of Dan Dawaon’s Wine Advisor)

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.