POSTS TAGGED ‘California Wine Club’


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.

Continue Reading >

Don’t Forget Temecula!


With almost all of California’s vineyards up in the northern end of the state, it’s easy to forget what’s happening wine-wise in Southern California.  It’s easy to forget Temecula.

This vibrant wine region is just an hour north of San Diego, and it has the balmy Mediterranean climate so perfect for Rhone varietals.  You might think it would be too hot for decent grape growing, but there are several factors that make its climate moderate.  Two gaps in the coastal mountains allow cool, moist marine air to drift in.   Also, situated at 1,500 to 2,500 feet above sea level, Temecula is surrounded by mountains ranging from 2,000 to 11,000 feet high. Cold air collects between the peaks and flows down into the valley at night, setting the stage for great acidity in Temecula’s wines.

If you’re thinking of visiting, Continue Reading >

IT Happened Again…


We were in a restaurant recently, a nice Italian place, not real pricey, and we chose a glass of Italian Montepulciano (made from the Montepulciano grape, from Italy’s Abruzzo region – not Tuscany).  Price: $7.50 per glass. Waiting for our dinner, we took a sip or two.  We weren’t impressed.

Then the Ravioli with Butternut squash and Pine Nuts arrived.  And over the next half hour, that Montepulciano came into its own. It became soft and velvety, and merged with the ravioli flavors so beautifully.

So, IT happened again…that we started with a wine we didn’t care for, but when we tried it with food, during a leisurely meal, different story.

If you’ve never had this experience … well, you need to! Because it’s one of the most fun things about wine.  Given the right food match, some wimpy little wine with no character will stand up and be noticed.

Often, this extra wine pizzazz has to do with both the food and allowing the wine to “breathe” in the glass.  During your meal, it starts to open up and show its true self, just like a person who might be a bit shy.  If you’re considerate and give that person some time, they might start to share who they really are.

Did you know marketers estimate that a whopping 70% of wine today is consumed without food?   Too bad!

Has this ever happened to you? What was the wine? What was the food that brought it out of its shell?

To Breathe or Not to Breathe

We’re talking wine of course.  When do you need to let it breathe, or decant before pouring?


Here are a few tips:

1.  Decanting an old wine (15-20 years old) for too long can ruin it. Old wines are quite delicate and should be opened just before the meal.  Otherwise, oxidation spurs rapid changes in the wine leaving it “dead” by the time you drink it.

2.  Young wines often need to breathe—with gusto!  Most often, this would be the case with big, tannic reds.  Pouring such a wine back and forth several times from decanter to decanter will aerate it and give it a chance to open up and reveal its complex flavors and aromas.

3.  Typically, a red wine 7-8 years old is a good candidate for breathing.

4.  A wonderful way to allow a wine to open up is during a leisurely dinner.  How many big, brash reds have we disliked on first sip, only to have them become our favorite wine by the end of the meal.  The changes in the wine can be fascinating and fantastic.

How Much Do You Pour?

Wine Splash Painting from Etsy
Wine Splash Painting from Etsy

Painting by ViktoriaMajesticArt on Etsy

The publication Substance Use & Misuse published a study by Doug Walker and Laura Smarandescu of Iowa State University and Brian Wansink of Cornell University, showing that people often don’t know how much wine they are pouring.

They evaluated more than 500 pours from 73 wine drinkers. Among their discoveries was that the shape of the glass has a lot to do with how much people pour – wider glasses tend to lead to more wine poured.

It seems like most people don’t know what a “standard” moderate pour is or how to gauge it (the government lists 5 oz. as a single serving); they simply monitor their intake by “number of glasses”.

Do you pour a 5 oz. serving or a glassful?

Whatever you’re pouring, you can order it in our wine store.

The Best Wine Birthday Present?

What is the best wine birthday present?

For us, it’s a bottle of birth year wine.

You can give it to the parents of a newborn, to cellar until

Baby’s 21st birthday…

Or, give a birth year wine to a friend. (The older the friend, the trickier and more expensive that can be!)

 Which wines are best birth year wines?

Definitely, wines that age well.  Most people think of Cabernet Sauvignon, since big Cabs can age for decades.

But don’t’ pass up sparkling wine.  A really well-made sparkler will hold up beautifully for many years.  Our favorites include California Wine Club-featured Schramsberg, Domaine Carneros, Handley and Roederer.

What’s YOUR favorite wine gift? 




birth wine blog photo

“$5 Bottle Beats $100 Bottle!” Really? Look a little closer…

We’ve all seen videos of wine lovers tasting a VERY expensive, snooty wine, right beside a VERY cheap wine … and we’ve seen wine lovers choose the cheapo hands down.

What’s up with that?

     A few things could be going on – take your pick—

1.   The cheap wine could be very good and the expensive wine could be way over priced.

2.  The expensive wine might need a lot of time to “breathe” – so you can actually smell and taste it, especially being stuck in a bottle for years.  Compare a costly wine like that (and don’t give it time to breathe) with a simple, fruit forward wine and voilá Chateau Stuckuppity!  You lose!

3.  The wine lover may have never tasted a complex white or red wine.  And he or she may just like a nice, simple, fruity wine better.

It’s that simple.  We think.  What do you think?

Uncork Happy, or Screw It!

Have you ever battled with a cork?  Tried to pull, prod, drag, or squeeze it out of a wine bottle when it had other ideas?

The ideas corks have are generally bad, like, let’s pop back into the wine, or crumble and then fall into the wine, or, let’s just get stuck halfway up the bottle neck.

Buy a really good opener. Make uncorking a pleasure.

And if all else fails, buy a wine with a screw cap.


Remember that movie Sideways?  Remember how Miles was all over Pinot Noir, but trashed Merlot—?

Well, for years after Sideways (it came out in 2004), tasting room managers told us that almost everybody who walked in the door would say something like, “I ONLY drink Pinot Noir,” or “Just Pinot please.”

People were drinking Pinot who didn’t even LIKE Pinot. A good friend of ours hates Pinot.  And that’s okay.

Go ahead and hate Pinot Noir or Chardonnay or whatever.  It’s your mouth, it’s your money, you need to pour whatever you like ~

That’s the way we see it anyway, watching Mendocino wine country roll by out the car window, on our way to find some great wine for The California Wine Club.  And if our members don’t’ think that wine is great—they get a refund or another wine, it’s that simple.

Miles would not be happy.

Leon had it right….

Sometimes, somebody really hits the nail on the cork…

For us, this quote really nails it.  It’s from the late Leon Adams (he’s been called America’s top wine historian) in his great book, The Commonsense Book of Wine.

“Anyone who tries to make you believe that he knows all about wine is obviously a fake.”


         So True!