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.

Top Wine Pairings: Livermore Valley’s Taste Our Terroir

The Wood Family Vineyards and First Street Ale House team celebrates a Judges’ and People’s award at Taste Our Terroir. (Courtesy of Eli Pitta)

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.

WineFashionista on KRML Radio’s Vintners Minute

At Caraccioli Cellars’ Escolle Vineyard in Monterey County wine country’s Santa Lucia Highlands.

This week I was a guest on KRML Radio’s Vintners Minute show. Hosted by Jeff White, this regular feature airs in Monterey County (102.1 FM) Thursdays at 4 p.m., and streams online. I went to the little cabin studio in Carmel Valley and had a great chat with Jeff about being a wine journalist, taking part in the SLH Somm Tour this week, and about my soon to launch wine podcast, Sip Sip Hooray!

Make it a Sangria Summer

Pura Vida Cocina Latina & Sangria Bar’s sangria tower

Sangria, Spain’s famous spiked fruit punch, is summer’s go-to libation. This easy drinking party in a pitcher has come a long way since its humble beginnings. Centuries ago, Spaniards mixed red wine with fruit and spices as a safer alternative to often contaminated water.

Fast forward to New York’s 1964 World’s Fair, when the slightly sweet fruity red punch (its name is derived from sangre, the Spanish word for blood) made its official American debut at the Spanish Pavilion. Since then, sangria has evolved beyond the traditional red wine, fruit, brandy, sugar and orange juice recipe to white, rosé and sparkling wine versions.