How to Get the Most Out of Your White Wines

Mmm…Oaky Chardonnay…crisp Sauvignon Blanc…flowery Viognier…a delicious glass of white wine is one of life’s great pleasures. But before uncorking that great (hopefully handcrafted) bottle you’ve selected, you should try our few simple steps to ensure that delicious  bottle of nectar delivers its full flavor potential.
See our short video on White Wine Serving Temperatures to learn how to ensure that the wine in your glass is not too warm and not too cold.



Go to our Wine Tips and How To’s YouTube page.

Pruning Time!



Though the vineyards are dormant right now, there is still plenty to do. Pruning is at the top of the list. Winegrowers are very attentive to exactly what kind of pruning their vines need, since this will have an impact on the fruit and thus the wine.


There are several ways to prune. Mitch Black, who founded Black Knight Vineyards on the cool side of Sonoma Valley, atop Taylor Mountain, describes his cane pruning this year.


“This is the most important time of year in the vineyard. We do cane pruning, where we chop almost everything off and put down new canes every year. You can look at the plant and based on what you see, you will decide on how many canes it should have and what length they should be. So each plant is pruned according to its needs.

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Some Like it Hot; Some Are Cool, Man, Cool


Not so long ago, California winemakers were deciding what kinds of wines they would plant based mostly on consumer tastes. Gotta have a Chardonnay, a Cabernet Sauvignon, maybe a Zinfandel … and they would plant them all in one spot.


That approach didn’t last too long, simply because the wines made it clear when the vines were not happy with their location. Planting Cabernet Sauvignon where you plant Chardonnay is generally not a great idea, because these two grape varieties prefer different climates.

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Terroir Matches the Spectacular Ambiance at Sunstone


When the Rice family purchased 55 acres in the Santa Ynez Valley, little did they know they’d caught a terroir tiger by the tail. And that’s a good thing!


The family was new to winemaking, but they thought the slopes along the Santa Ynez River with their southern exposure, the soils with their rock and sand, the early morning fog and windy afternoons boded well for the grapevines they planned.

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Saturday, Feb. 28th Is “Open That Bottle Night!”

opening  a bottle of wine with a corkscrew

This Saturday is “Open That Bottle Night.”  The Wall Street Journal’s wine “Tastings” columnists Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher thought this one up.


No doubt you have a bottle or two that really need to be enjoyed soon.  Maybe it’s an expensive wine you’ve been holding onto forever.  Maybe a commemorative wine, or an unusual blend.


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Meow for Merlot?


From the “do we believe this?” department — There is now a wine for cats.  A Japanese company has created a wine with flavors that will set felines to purring.  It’s called Nyan Nyan Nouveau- with “nyan nyan” Japanese for “meow meow”.


This is a non-alcoholic beverage, but it does have juice from Cabernet grapes, blended to perfection with fine aged catnip.

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What to Sip with Oscar?


Sunday night you’ve got guests to share your wine – Bradley Cooper, Clint Eastwood, Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Streep — it’s the A-list at your house!  So, what do you sip with The Academy Awards?


For “Best Picture”, salute The Imitation Game with a fine Pinot Noir – can you break its complex code? Is it about spice? Fruit? Forest floor? Silky mouthfeel?  Summer raspberries?


Or how about an aged Cabernet, as you watch the trailer for nominee Boyhood?  Cab grows up too!

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How does a night cap of wine affect your sleep?


Drinking a glass of wine before bedtime is not the best way to get a good night’s sleep, according to researchers from the University of Melbourne in Australia.  Dr. Christian Nicholas of the university’s Sleep Research laboratory observed the sleep patterns of 24 college students for three nights. He and co-author Dr. Julia Chan published the results in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.


Subjects were divided evenly men and women, 18-21 years old (you can legally imbibe at age 18 in Australia).  An electroencephalogram (EEG) monitored electrical impulses in their brains as the students slept.

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How to try new wines without breaking your budget, or being disappointed


As you travel further on your wine journey, at some point you may want to really focus on trying new wines.  Here are a few tips on how to avoid excess cost and disappointment in your wine adventure.


To keep costs down, don’t buy the whole bottle.  If you’re in wine country and can go wine tasting, great!  If not, there are various ways you can taste wine without buying the bottle.

  • In restaurants, buy wine by the glass, or sometimes a carafe for two.  Some restaurants even offer tasting flights.
  • Look for special tasting events at local wine retailers.
  • Attend winemaker dinners where a variety of wines will be poured.

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Your Favorite Chocolates – and the Wine To Pair With Them


We asked you on Facebook and Twitter what your favorite chocolate is and you told us. Now, we’re taking your 5 most popular choices and offering our pairing suggestions. Just in time for Valentine’s Day!


First, a few general guidelines about pairing wine and chocolate.

  1. Intense, dark chocolates love full-bodied wines.
  2. The smoother the wine’s tannins, the better the wine pairing will be.
  3. Sparkling wine can be very versatile with chocolate — experiment!

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