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 Amazon.com.
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.
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!
Wente Vineyards is California’s oldest family owned and continuously operated winery. Founded in 1883, the winery is now managed by the fourth and fifth generations of the Wente family. I was privileged to have 3 family members on Cocktails for Everyone this year. Carolyn Wente, CEO and a fourth generation winegrower, was a guest on Episode 1 at the Nantucket Wine Festival. Christine Wente, Senior VP of Hospitality and Karl Wente, Winemaker – both fifth generation winegrowers – were my guests on Episode 10.
A lovely holiday gift would be a few bottles of Wente Vineyards’ 08 Riva Ranch Chardonnay Arroyo Seco…it’s a medium- bodied Chardonnay which has a rich, golden color and aromas and flavors of honey, graham, cinnamon and light floral notes. ($19.99). Add to this some of their Wente Vineyards Small Lot Pinot Noir Rose which has a brilliant watermelon color, and flavors of raspberry, melon, orange peel, mineral and honeysuckle. ($21.99).
To top it off, include a Gift Card which can be used at The Estate Winery and Vineyard Tasting Rooms, The Course at Wente Vineyards, The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards, The Grill and The Concerts at Wente Vineyards (denominations vary).
Our Day 13 Gift Idea takes us to San Francisco, one of the cities that has been at the forefront of the resurgence of well-made, classic cocktails. Jeff Hollinger & Rob Schwartz, my guests on Episode 5, were part of that movement when they ran the bar at Absinthe. Their book “The Art of the Bar: Cocktails Inspired by the Classics” is loaded with beautiful photos and great drink recipes. It’s $16.47 on Amazon (list price $25).
To that, add a bottle of Square One Organic Vodka. Founder & CEO Allison Evanow, who is based in San Francisco, was my guest on Episode 11. Square One is a limited-production single grain vodka which uses certified organic American rye. It retails for approximately $35. You can find out more at
Day 12 of our 25 Days of Gift Ideas is about Food & Wine pairings. Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein was my guest on Episode 18. His first book, “Perfect Pairings” was such a success, he released “Daring Pairings” this year. In Daring Pairings, Evan ventures into wine’s new frontiers, exploring the flavors and pairing potential of thirty-six distinctive grapes from around the world, including Argentina, Spain, Italy, Greece, and France. He offers advice on crafting unforgettable wine and food pairings, suggests wines for everyday and special occasions, and recommends producers and importers.
A copy of Daring Pairings ($23 on Amazon) is the perfect gift when paired with some fantastic wine, so why not add a few bottles of Emeritus Pinot Noir to the book? Emeritus founder Brice Cutrer Jones was my guest on Episode 6. Brice, who also founded the Sonoma-Cutrer label, is making some amazing Pinot Noir on 150 acres of vineyards in two Sonoma County locations – the home ranch, Hallberg Vineyard, which is in the heart of the Russian River Valley, and William Wesley Vineyard in the coastal mountains of the Sonoma Coast. The wines are available online when you join their mailing list.
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 www.domainecarneros.com
You will make someone very happy!
Day 10 is about one of our favorite mixologists – as a matter of fact he is known as The Modern Mixologist – Tony Abou-Ganim. Tony was a guest on Episode 15, and I had so much fun talking to him about his career, travels and wonderful cocktails he has created over the years.
A great gift for the cocktail person on your list would be a copy of Tony’s book, The Modern Mixologist ($35). Autographed copies are available if you order through his website.
To that, add one of his TAG Mojito Kits ($49), which includes one of the best juicers I have ever seen, a beautiful hand-crafted solid cherry wood muddler all tucked into a canvas Lewis bag, perfect for crushing ice.
If you’re feeling generous, also include a copy of Tony’s Modern Mixologist DVD ($19.95), all about creating perfect cocktails at home.
And, if you hurry, he also has embroidered cocktail napkins on sale for $2 for a set of 6 while they last!
You can find out more at www.themodernmixologist.com.