Category Archives: Carneros

Days 23 & 24 Gifts – Wine! Sokol Blosser, Kosta Browne, Sean Minor & Benziger

Days 23 and 24 are all about wine…whether as a hostess gift or something to serve at your holiday dinner, you will be in great shape if you pick up a few bottles from any of these companies:

Alex Sokol Blosser of Oregon’s Sokol Blosser was my guest on Episode 28.  Find out more at

Michael Browne of California’s Kosta Browne Winery was my guest on Episode 29 –

Sean Minor of California’s Sean Minor Wines was also a guest on Episode 29  –

Chris Benziger of California’s Benziger Family Winery was a guest on yesterday’s show, Episode 30 –

Cheers and very Happy Holidays to you and yours!


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Day 20 Gifts – L’Espalier & Jordan Vineyard

Day 20 takes us to one of my favorite Boston restaurants, L’Espalier…I was so happy to have Sommelier Kate Moore (a fellow BC grad) as a guest on Episode 24. L’Espalier is in the heart of the Back Bay, adjacent to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Under Chef, Proprietor, Author and now Farmer Frank McClelland’s stewardship, L’Espalier has consistently been rated at the top of national and local best restaurant lists (Zagat, Boston Magazine, Frommer’s Travel Guide, Wine Spectator, among them), serving sophisticated and modern New England-French cuisine, with an emphasis on artisanal and New England ingredients.

A great gift would be a gift card to L’Espalier (prices vary), so that the giftee can go to lunch, dinner or to one of Kate’s “Top Shelf” Cocktail classes…add to that a copy of Chef  McClelland’s “Wine Mondays”, which features 130 recipes organized into four-course pairing menus by season, with accompanying wine notes and suggestions. All of the recipes come from the popular Wine Mondays program at L’Espalier—a weekly event created to make food and wine pairing accessible, fun, and affordable. ($24.95)

To that, add a gift set of wine from Jordan Vineyards. I’ve long been a Jordan fan, and was thrilled to have CEO John Jordan as my guest on Episode 26. Since their inaugural 1976 vintage, Jordan wines have been renowned for their consistency and elegance. Tucked into the hills in Alexander Valley, just north of Healdsburg in Sonoma County, they are dedicated to winemaking, hospitality and the joys of the table.

A beautiful wooden box set of the 2008 Jordan Chardonnay & 2006 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon would delight any wine lover on your list ($90). Include a beautiful Riedel Vinum Engraved Chardonnay ($24) or Bordeaux ($29) wine glass, so they can enjoy their gift in style.

Find out more at




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Day 18 Gifts – A Thirsty Girl and The Godfather

Day 18 finds us back in the wonderful world of wine. Leslie Sbrocco, founder of the multimedia company, Thirsty Girl, was my guest on Episode 22. I’ve been a fan of hers since seeing her at last year’s Boston Wine Expo, watching her on “The Today Show” and finally meeting her in person at the Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival in September. She was so much fun to talk to…I can’t wait for her to come back to Boston for next month’s Expo! She is an award-winning wine expert, and has two fantastic books that would be a great gift for the wine lovers on your list. “Wine For Women” and “The Simple and Savvy Wine Guide” are loaded with great tips and information about choosing, tasting and exploring wine.

“Wine for Women” includes shopping guides with hundreds of recommended wines, quick ideas for wine-friendly meals, and creative tips for sharing wine with family and friends. It’s organized into easy-to-manage sections, appeals to all levels of wine lovers. Leslie makes her enormous knowledge of wine entertaining enough for the serious wine lover and accessible enough so any novice can feel like an expert.

The “Simple and Savy Wine Guide” is packed with all kinds of glance-and-go lists for everything from what wine to drink with Thai take-out, to wines perfect for drinking in a bubble bath. Leslie also offers up an entire section based on her popular concept of wine makeovers, in which she takes an expensive wine and offers a similar tasting, less expensive version.

Each book is available for less than $10 (list prices $14.95 & $19.95) on

Find out more at

To the books, add a few bottles of Ravenswood Wine. It was a thrill (and a lot of fun!) to speak with founding Winemaker Joel Peterson, “The Godfather of Zinfandel”, who was my guest on Episode 27.  His legendary career, in which he helped to put California Zinfandel back on the map, is being recognized with a well deserved induction into the Culinary Institute of America’s “Vintners Hall of Fame” in February.

Splurge on that special someone with a bottle of 2007 Ravenswood Icon, a Bordeau Red blend of  36% Carignane, 27% Petite Sirah, 25% Zinfandel, 12% Mixed Blacks. It has supple, delicious intensity and weight in the long, flavorful finish. Built for the ages, this wine has classic Sonoma mixed black flavors. There is nothing else like it in the world…only 1,000 cases were produced ($75.00/bottle)

Or, buy a few bottles of the 2008 Ravenswood Lodi Zinfandel. Ripe, rich and flavorful, Lodi fruit from this vintage was very nice, with the big blueberry quality that is one of the hallmarks of Zinfandel from that region. With the addition of 23% Petite Sirah, the wine is soft, round and full. Very pleasing to drink by itself and with food. ($15.00/bottle)

Go to for more info.



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Day 16 Gift – Back Lane Wineries & Ceja Vineyards

Day 16 takes us back to Tilar Mazzeo (Episode 12) who was noted as part of a Day 1 gift (Veuve Clicquot)….we’re mentioning her again because she also wrote two fabulous books called “Back Lane Wineries of Napa” and “Back Lane Wineries of Sonoma”, which would be perfect gifts for someone planning a trip to wine country in 2011.

It’s easy to Google ‘Napa wineries’ and end up with plenty of big name wineries with daily tours and souvenir shops. But what of those off the beaten path? Back Lane Wineries of Napa and its sister book for Sonoma are guides to small wineries making quality, hard-to-find handcrafted wines. These books take the reader off the highway to friendly, down-to-earth establishments where the wines are made by on-site proprietors. More than 70 wineries are profiled in each volume, as well as  Wine Tasting Essentials, Wine Shipping Services, an overview of the area, ideas about how to plan an itinerary, the etiquette of tasting, general prices, and much more practical information, all packaged into a perfectly sized volume.

List price for each is $19.95, but only $13.57 on

Add to these a few bottles of delicious Ceja Vineyards wine, made by Amelia Ceja, President of Ceja Vineyards, who was my guest on Episode 20, and was featured in “Back Lane Wineries of Napa” (p. 253). Ceja Vineyards is a family owned winery which makes 10,000 cases per year of award winning wine, and Amelia is the first Mexican American woman president of a wine production company as well as host of the video series “Salud Napa Valley”.

They have a Holiday Trio which consists of Ceja 2006 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, Ceja 2006 Sonoma Coast Syrah and a Ceja 2006 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which normally retail for $134, but are only $75 for the holidays.

Two great ladies, two great gifts.



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Day 15 – Fabulous Wine Festivals by Chef Daniel Bruce

A fun and fabulous gift idea for that person on your list who has everything would be tickets to an amazing wine dinner or tasting, no matter which part of the country they’re in. Chef Daniel Bruce, who was our guest on Episode 26 has lots of options for you to choose from.

As the founder of the internationally renowned Boston Wine Festival, the nation’s longest running food and wine pairing series, Chef Bruce lines up dozens of the top winemakers and producers over a four month time span. Due to the success of the BWF, he has also launched similar festivals in the French Quarter, Washington DC and Berkeley CA.

Some of the many events to choose from (prices vary) are Baron Phillipe de Rothschild, Cliff Lede Vineyards, Plump Jack & Cade Winery, Meritage Madness and Super Tuscans…you can find out more at

You could also give a gift card to Chef Bruce’s award winning restuarant, Meritage at the Boston Harbor Hotel, where he pairs more than 200 dishes each year with outstanding wines from around the world. Large and small plates are offered for each item on the menu, and matched with complementary wine flavors. Meritage has a 12,000-plus bottle wine collection which boasts over 850 different varieties.

Why not buy tickets for yourself while you’re at it…you’ve been good!



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Day 11 of Our “25 Days of Holiday Gifts” – Domaine Carneros

Day 11 of our Holiday Gift Ideas takes us to Domaine Carneros…CEO/Founding Winemaker Eileen Crane, known as “Napa’s Most Powerful Woman’, was my guest on Episode 8.

The Domaine Carneros château is a landmark of the Carneros region. Completed in 1989, the classic 18th century château-style building was architecturally inspired by the historic Taittinger-owned Château de la Marquetterie in Champagne. Domaine Carneros has built a reputation on sparkling wines, in particular their Brut Vintage and luxury cuvée Le Rêve Blanc de Blancs, and they also make amazing Pinot Noir.

A great gift idea would be their Celebrated Mix Trio – a bottle each of Vintage Brut, Vintage Brut Rosé and Avant-Garde Pinot Noir packaged in a beautiful wooden box ($99).

To this, add a pair of Riedel Flutes etched with the Domaine Carneros logo ($19.90), a box of their Pinot Noir filled Chocolates ($8) and a bottle of their Pinot Noir Chocolate Sauce ($18.95).

You can find out more at

You will make someone very happy!



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Day 9 of our “25 Days of Holiday Gift Ideas” – Buena Vista Carneros

Day 9 of our 25 Days brings us to another one of the special brands that I worked on at Allied Domecq Wine & Beam Wine Estates…Buena Vista Carneros. Head Winemaker Jeff Stewart, another one of my favorite people, was a guest on Episode 7, back in July.

Founded in 1857, Buena Vista Carneros is California’s oldest premium winery, and its history is as colorful as it is proud. Just outside the town of Sonoma, the original winery is now a California Historic Landmark, and home to the Tasting Room & Visitor’s Center. Jeff, who had been the winemaker at Mark West & La Crema, has really transformed the winemaking program at Buena Vista over the past several years.

A great gift would be one of their holiday gift packs – if you know a White Wine Lover, the pack that includes an ’08 Carneros Chardonnay, ’07 Ramal Vineyards Chardonnay and ’07 Ramal Vineyards Dijon Clone is wonderful at $81.90 (10% off normal retail of $91, and a bargain at $63.70 if you’re a Wine Club Member).

The same goes for the Red Wine Holiday Pack, which includes an ’07 Carneros Syrah, ’06 Carneros Pinot Noir and an ’07 Ramal Vineyards Pinot Noir, Dijon Clone for $82.80 (retail $92, for Wine Club Members it’s $64.40).

You can find out more on their website



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