Explore Your Palate: Pasta Genovese vs Baked Ziti Recipes and Wine Pairings


Part of our mission as the most loved wine club is to help you discover new wineries, new wine varietals and new wine regions.  When it comes to wine, trying different varietals and discovering new styles can help you determine what characteristics you most enjoy.

The same is true for food.  Over the next few weeks, we will challenge you to explore your palate with a tasting adventure featuring contrasting recipes and wine pairings.

Here are two delicious Italian versions of pasta that are wildly different.  Try both and see what you prefer.  You may wind up with two new favorites!

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Gnekow Family Winery (3)

Brothers Rudy and Sean Gnekow, founders of Gnekow Family Winery near Lodi, have a tiger by the tail with their Campus Oaks wines. The wine that roars loudest is their Campus Oaks Old Vine Zinfandel.

How loud does it roar?

Well, their 2011 Campus Oaks Old Vine Zin, now featured in our Premier Series wine club, earned a whopping 95 points and Gold Medal at the California State Fair, beating out big competitors like Gnarly Head, 7 Deadly Zins and Bogle.

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Upcoming Wine Country Events & Festivals (April – June)



Wine regions and wineries are luring you to pleasure as wine country heats up with visitors. Commune with your inner winemaker at Castoro Cellars’ “make your own dam fine wine” or rock on with “Bottlerock” in Napa Valley. Go from googling the glitteratti at the Napa Wine Auction to having dinner with Louie Lucas and Royce Lewellen, two of the most engaging winery founders we know. There’s something for everyone in California wine country! Here’s a quick glance at some upcoming events. Be sure to check our full listing of wine country festivals and events.


April 4
Thomas Henry Wines (Meadowcroft), Sonoma
Stump the Winemaker Series – Part 1
Have questions that you would like answered about different wine making processes, the wine business, etc.? Must be 21 or older to participate. Class size limited to 12 adults. Fee: $25 per person.


April 9-12, Pebble Beach Food & Wine – 4 days for epicures in Monterey’s gorgeous Pebble Beach. 60 chefs, 250 wineries, cooking demonstrations.


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The Winemaker’s Kitchen Presents BBQ Recipes and Wine Pairings


For 25 years we have been exploring the dusty back roads of California’s wine country, seeking out award-winning, limited-production wines from artisan wineries.


Along the way, as we enjoy great wine, great food and new winery friends, these small family wineries share with us their time-honored family recipes.


Just in time for warmer weather, we’ve collected 10 winemaker recipes that are sure to please including some fire-up-the-grill favorites. We’ve added in pairing suggestions, wine tips, and a handy BBQ pairing chart, so you are all set for upcoming sunny Saturdays. Get these recipes and more in our latest issue of The Winemaker’s Kitchen.

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Two Hidden Napa Valley Wineries Produce Stellar Aged Cab


Ever heard the phrase, “Hidden in plain sight”? That’s what occurred to us when we opened up the two incredible aged Cabernets brought to our table by Volker Eisele Family Estate and Bennett Lane Winery.


Both are in Napa. Both are family owned and operated. And both are producing some world-class Cabernet Sauvignon with stellar ageability.

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Top 3 Things that May be Damaging Your Wine


Did you know that most wine is consumed within a week of purchase? If you typically keep wine for more than a few weeks, whether you are saving special bottles, letting some fine Napa Valley Cabs age or you just like having a case or two of wine you love on hand, give some thought to where you store it.


Wine cellars, of course, are ideal.   Don’t have one?  Not a problem.  What you need to keep in mind is that light, temperature (too hot or too cold or fluctuating) and movement are the sworn enemies of the delicious magic-in-a-bottle you are saving.

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Balance is the Key at Australian Winery, Groom Wines


Do you think wines can resemble their makers?


We do. A good example is Groom Wines and Founder/Winemaker Daryl Groom, upcoming in our International Wine Club Series.


Daryl’s wines have a wonderful balance to them, and that balance can be seen in Daryl’s life as well. The Groom Wines Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc we’re featuring are harmonious expressions of the grapes. Their elements merge together so gracefully.

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Breathtaking Wildflowers in California Wine Country


It’s spring! Just the word feels warm and wonderful. And nothing says it better than wildflowers.

In California wine country, you can admire beautiful pink Fairy Lanterns or Western Trillium on the Central Coast, between sips of Pinot Noir in Santa Barbara or Rhone wine in Paso Robles.

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Napa Valley Winery Bacio Divino Cellars Boasts Passion In Every Vintage


Our wine club members know we’re always talking about the passion evident at California’s small artisan wineries — winemakers who keep crazy hours and will do almost anything to make sure their bottlings are the best they can be. We’ve caught up with the owner of Napa Valley winery, Bacio Divino Cellars to see how it all started.


On the “passion scale” we’ve got to give Bacio Divino Cellars a ‘10’. The story of founder Claus Janzen is unmatched by any others we heard for its elements of dedication, energy and yes, passion.


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A Romantic Food & Wine Pairing Recipe from Sunstone


Ah, spring! Isn’t it glorious? No wonder spring is the time of year when romance just seems to be in the air … and what better way to encourage romance than with a beautiful candlelit dinner with the perfect wine?

Well, we have the perfect recipe for you lovebirds out there: a fabulous grilled lamb chop dish served with Sunstone’s lovely red, Intermezzo (part our our March Premier Series Wine Club shipment). This small family winery is one of California’s most romantic. Situated in Santa Barbara’s gorgeous Santa Ynez Valley, Sunstone has a touch of Provence in the South of France, where leisurely meals with fabulous wines mix with the fragrance of lavender and some of the world’s best vineyards. You can book a stay at the Villa at Sunstone and luxuriate at one of the most charming and creative winery accommodations we have ever had the pleasure to visit.

Sunstone is host to dozens of weddings every year, but you don’t have to make that the reason to visit. There are plenty of events in California wine country that are happening throughout the year. This recipe toasts the love that inspired them all. Enjoy!

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