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Interview with Doug Shafer at Shafer Vineyards

Interview with Doug Shafer: Courage, Risk, & Luck By Marisa D’Vari I first met Shafer Vineyards Founder John Shafer in 2001 when I interviewed him in his Stags Leap District tasting room for my Boston-based television show. During the interview, I was surprised to see two well-heeled, Boston-based neighbors walk in – a testimony to […]



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Visiting Louis Lucas in his Vineyard During #WBC14

“Climate. Soil. Care.” These are the three words Louis Lucas kept repeating in the course of our visit together. Though he is remarkably famous here on the West Coast having grown up the son of a third generation grape grower and at an early age tending the vineyards of many of the most famous houses, […]



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Visiting Rideau Vineyards in Solvang #WBC2014

“Welcome,” says Iris Rideau, welcoming me into her gorgeous winery made from a house over 130 years old. Well dressed, self assured, and charismatic Iris had success in creating a number of businesses before turning her attention to winemaking. Though her personal love is Rhone Varietals (especially Viognier, which is made here in two styles) […]



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Visisiting Buttonwood Winery in Solvang, CA #WBC14

“Karen wanted to see you but she’s in the bottling plant right now,” says Nicole Carnevale, Director of Sales at Buttonwood winery in Solvang. This is a family winery that makes an assortment of wines that Karen Steinwachs, the owner and winemaker, likes to think of as “food wine” — wines with good acidity and […]



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Conversation with Chris Hammell of Bien Nacido Vineyard

  Chris Hammell looks like a football player (or an actor, depending on his mood) and is modest enough to be dismissive of being voted Grower of the year by Wine & Spirits magazine. I am sitting here in his deliciously air conditioned office on a hot summer evening, sipping a glass of Au Bon climate […]



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Visiting Brander Winery San Ynez #WBC14

Meet Josh Hamilton (pictured above) who is the Tasting Room manager here at Brander and is telling me all about the Brander family. The winery was established in 1975 by Erik Brander, and now Fred (his son) is owner and winemaker. Sauvignon Blanc is king here, with 9 different labels produced each year, ranging from […]



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Visiting Gypsy Canyon Winery in Santa Rita Hills

“We wanted to change our life and live in the country,” says Deborah Hall, Winemaker and owner of Gypsy Canyon Winery.  She fell in love with this gorgeous property in 1994 and moved to this remote area in Santa Rita Hills with her young family in 1997, and planted Pinot Noir in 1999. Fast forward […]



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Santa Ynez Inn Rocks

  Fab visit to the Santa Ynez Inn, a luxury hotel in the tiny (and I mean very small!) ‘old west’ town of Santa Ynez. Arriving here one drives through what can only be called a stage set at MGM studios where Westerns were filmed. In fact, there are even hitching posts in front of […]



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HALL raises $180,000 for #ANV14

How would you like to fly in luxury to both the Napa Valley and Rome to enjoy the high end lifestyle experience offered by the Halls for their Auction Valley lot? HALL is one of the premium wineries in Napa, owned by glamorous yet hard working Craig and Kathryn Hall. As part of their offering, […]



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#ANV12: Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Raises over $60,000 for Napa Valley Charities

At the @ANV14 (Napa Valley Auction June 7 bidding went wild for Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, raising over 60,000 for local charities. Along with many bottles of Cask 23 was dinner at the winery with winemaker Marcus Notaro (pictured above) … and a very special prize! It’s such a small world — just a few […]



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RAYMOND VINEYARDS’ LIVE LOT AT 2014 AUCTION NAPA VALLEY RAISES $840,000 FOR THE NAPA VALLEY COMMUNITY

Can you just imagine the excitement? I can – because I was there! I’ve actually been coming to the auction for many years, beginning when I was an executive at Tri-Star Films. At  that time – as now – auction bidders were invited to two “experiences” – typically a lunch and dinner though they have […]



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#ANV14: Private Dinner at Vineyard 7 & 8

“Welcome,” says Wesley Steffens, General Manager and Associate Winemaker at Vineyard 7 & 8, a gorgeous property that overlooks the valley through giant floor to ceiling windows. We were guests at this very intimate dinner party for just 20 guests in honor of the 34th annual Napa Valley wine auction. It was a great opportunity […]



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#ANV14 Evening at Pritichard Hill at Montagna Winery with Brand, Chappellet, Continuum, and David Arthur Winery

“Welcome,” said Bob Long, greeting guests standing with wine glasses in hand in the stunning garden of the Montagna Winery at an 1100 feet elevation offering 360 degree views of mountain peaks, valleys, and vineyards in the distance. Bob Long, proprietor of Montagna, was hosting the Thursday June 5th #ANV14 event auction event titled “An […]



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Trinchero Napa Vally Single Vineyard Program

So during Master Napa Valley program for sommeliers and Master of Wine students I had the opportunity to explore the new focus on single vineyards in the Napa Valley – quite a key trend. Recently winemaker Mario Monticelli visited New York to showcase Trinchero’s new single vineyard wines. He was brought in by the Trinchero […]



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Enjoying Gloria Ferrer Sparking Wine for the Holidays

Sparkling wine is synonymous with the holidays … impossible to resist the good cheer those bubbles bring. And more than ever before, choices abound! Champagne from France, Prosecco from Italy, Cava from Spain, and of course, sparkling wine from California. Visit Carneros or other sparkling wine regions in northern California and you can find many […]



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Visiting Saintsbury in Carneros

Very excited to spend Sunday morning in Napa with David Graves, co-founder of Saintsbury in Carneros along with his partner, co-founder Richard Ward. David tells me the story of his winery (you can read it here) which was established in 1981. Their idea was to create quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and from the international […]



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The St. Supery Experience: Day 2

…. So the Saturday St. Supery experience is all about the special programs the team has developed at St. Supery to give guests the total “St. Supery Experience” The most important thing you should know is that the winery recently remodeled their kitchen and added several exciting new entertaining areas so they will be able […]



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Visiting St. Supery: Day 1, Part 1

“Here’s your 4:30 am wake up call!” says an impossibly cheerful voice, rousing me from a melatonin-induced sleep. In the darkness of my hotel room I quickly dress … and think of the pickers who have been cutting Semillon grapes from their vines since 2am. I am in the Napa Valley this weekend to  take […]



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Meeting up with Joel Peterson

  So a very interesting conversation today with Joel Peterson of Ravenswood. In case you missed Ravenswood History 101, Joel started his winery in 1976 … and achieved huge recognition in 1979 after his wines came in first and second at a prestigious San Francisco tasting. I have had the pleasure of lunch with him […]



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Finger Lakes Riesling Rocks

So for whatever reason, this labor day weekend I am breaking out my samples of Finger Lakes Riesling and really enjoying them! Initially – when first received – I had been apprehensive. Would they be too sweet (even though the labels on most of the samples clearly say dry). And then what of the labels […]