CIA at Copia in Napa

Brandon and I stopped by the grand opening of the CIA at Copia in Napa to check out its new home.  The space is absolutely stunning and there are so many exciting things on the horizon (think daily cooking classes, dining at their upcoming restaurants, a fantastic culinary store, etc.).  Here are some pictures from our visit:


Culinary art…this giant fork is made up of 1000’s of standard size forks!


Food and wine-inspired art can be found throughout The CIA at Copia


Beautiful cookware from the 1800’s on display
Dedication to Robert Mondavi
The Restaurant at CIA
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2015 Catherine & Pierre Breton Bourgueil “Trinch!”

I love Loire Valley Cab Franc.  Our wine cellar is full of bottles both young and old and you are likely to enjoy a glass (or three) if you hang out at our house for any amount of time.  One of my favorite values from the region is Catherine & Pierre Breton Bourgueil “Trinch!”.  Each and every vintage, I feel like I can rely on getting a delicious, pure Cab Franc.

I recently uncorked the 2015 vintage of “Trinch!” for the first time and was once again drawn in by its pureness and honesty.  The nose offers up aromas of dark fruit with hints of smoke.  The palate is fresh and light showing off bright blueberries & strawberries that mingle with herbal nuances.  Vibrant acidity and super easy to drink.  Serve with a slight chill and watch it disappear quickly!

($21, 12.5% alcohol)

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Tasting with Crocker & Starr Wines

I have taken part in a lot of virtual wine tastings but rarely am I ever as captivated as I was during our tasting with Crocker & Starr‘s winemaker Pam Starr.  She graciously hosted a group of bloggers and shared four of her new releases with us.  Her deep knowledge of winemaking and passion for wine were not only were evident throughout our conversation but also shine through in her wines.

Crocker & Starr, a partnership between Pam Starr and Charlie Crocker, was established in St. Helena in 1997.  For the last 20 years, they have made wines that showcase the terroir of Napa Valley.  They farm sustainably and/or organically and avoid relying on winemaking additions and heavy-handed new oak.  The result is beautifully balanced wines that truly showcase the grape.

Pam Starr & Charlie Crocker

I loved learning from and tasting with Pam…her energy and passion are contagious.  If you find yourself in St. Helena, they offer a variety of unique and personal tasting experiences (which I personally need to check out soon!).  You may even be lucky enough to run into Pam while you are there!

Here are my notes from the wines we tasted together:

The Crocker & Starr Lineup

2015 Crocker & Starr Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley ($34)

Aromas of guava, citrus, and pear lead into a creamy palate that showcases bright acidity entwined with tastes of lemon, lime, melon, and peach.  Refreshing and delicious!

2014 Crocker & Starr Cabernet Franc ($80)

On the nose, there are intense aromas of dark fruit with subtle notes of coffee and violets.  The palate offers rich flavors of black currents, coffee, black pepper, and vanilla.  While powerful in flavor, this wine is still refined and balanced.  It will only improve with a few years in the cellar.

2014 Crocker & Starr Casali 7th Edition ($80)

This blend of 92% Malbec, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot begins with aromas of black plum and sweet oak.  The palate is flavored with rich tastes of blackberries, violets, vanilla, and anise.  A definite crowd pleaser!

2014 Crocker & Starr Cabernet Sauvignon Stone Place ($120)

Crocker & Starr’s Stone Place Cabernet opens with aromas of black fruit, sweet tobacco, and vanilla.  Bold flavors of blackberries, dark chocolate, coffee, and vanilla are met with subtle streaks of acidity.  Silky tannins and pure fruit make this the stand out of the tasting!

*Media samples

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Spring Fever in Sonoma

It’s official…spring fever has set in!  After what seems like eons of rain, the sun finally decided to shine its warming beams on Sonoma County.  Brandon and I are taking advantage of our first taste of spring and enjoying every moment of it.  Here are some pics of the abundant beauty all over Sonoma right now!

The sun is shining and Sonoma Square is getting busy!

Mustard is popping up all over Sonoma County.

Did you know we have redwoods in Sonoma?  We hiked Bartholomew Park and were surrounded by redwoods, streams, and beautiful wildlife!

I can’t think of a better way to wrap up a warm, sunny day in Sonoma then with a delicious meal at Fremont Diner.  Their fried oyster sandwich is one of my faves…don’t forget to try their biscuits and fried chicken too!

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Bang for the Buck – Les Heretiques Pays d’Herault 2015

The more wine I drink, the more challenging it becomes to find a delicious, well-made wine at a great price.  Vintage after vintage, Les Heretiques Pays d’Herault is a wine that is interesting and made with integrity.  This vintage is a blend of 90% old vine Carignan and 10% Syrah made in the Languedoc-Rousillon region of France.  It is relatively easy to find in boutique wine shops and retails at a staggeringly low price of $11.

Les Heretiques Pays d’Herault awakens your palate with fresh flavors of berries, plums, and violets.  It is well-balanced and with a relatively long finish.  The most striking thing about this wine is its powerful minerality; it is not a characteristic that would normally be found in a wine at this price point.  Such a great value…I think I will pour myself a glass now!

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Winter in Wine Country

Even with rain and cooler temperatures, winter is a wonderful time in Wine Country.  This year, we have had a nice mix of rain & sunshine and mustard season is getting a head start.  Here are some pics from the last couple of weeks!

Mustard season is getting an early start!


We enjoyed a 65 degree day in Bodega Bay.


Lingering fall leaves in Yountville.


Bouchon Bakery is delicious in any season!
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1981 Moulin Touchais Coteaux du Layon

Since moving to the Bay Area, old wine has become much more accessible.  When Brandon and I venture into San Francisco, we try to swing by wine shops that have a nice selection of old wines (especially ones that aren’t too much of a burden on the wallet).  One of the latest old wines we have fallen in love with is Moulin Touchais.

1981 Moulin Touchais Coteaux du Layon
1981 Moulin Touchais Coteaux du Layon

Moulin Touchais was founded in 1787 and is known for producing a late harvest Chenin Blanc that is aged for a minimum of 10 years.  The 1981 vintage has aged beautifully over the last 35 years.  The enamoring, copper-colored wine offers up aromas of citrus, honey, and spice.  The palate is medium-bodied with tastes of grapefruit, honey, citrus rind, and caramel.  It still has a solid backbone of acid and is a pleasure to drink!  I can’t wait to explore more vintages!

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Holiday Events in Sonoma

Christmas season is upon us in Sonoma.  Here are a few great events to check out over the holidays!


Sonoma Plaza Christmas Lights

My favorite part of the holiday season in Sonoma are the lights in Sonoma Plaza.  Grab dinner or drinks downtown and take an enchanted walk through the Square.  It’s a time of year you don’t want to miss!

December 3 – Lighting of the Snowmen Holiday Festival at Cornerstone Sonoma

The 12th annual Lighting of the Snowman takes place Saturday December 3rd at Cornerstone Sonoma.  The festival will feature music, crafts for kids, wine + beer tasting, warm drinks, delicious food, festive decoration and more.  For more info, visit Cornerstone Sonoma.

Winery Holiday Open Houses 

Throughout the holiday season, many Sonoma wineries will be hosting open houses.  The wineries offer seasonal specials & gift ideas and the events often include live music & food.  A few Sonoma wineries that hold fun, holiday events include Gundlach Bundschu Winery, Larson Family Winery, and Fulcrum Wines.  Even if there isn’t an open house when you are visiting, most Sonoma Valley wineries are beautifully decorated for the holidays!



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Thanksgiving Wine Pairings

With only a few days left until Thanksgiving, finding the perfect wines to pair with your Thanksgiving feast is likely at the top of your list!  We have made it easy for you by sharing some of our favorite red and white wine pairings for the Thanksgiving holiday!


Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is a classic Thanksgiving wine pairing and is truly one of our favorites for the holiday.  There are plenty of great Burgundies around but lately I have been impressed with cool-climate Pinot Noir coming out of California.  Look for Pinot Noir from wineries like Failla and Red Car in local, specialty wine shops.  They are fantastic wines for your Thanksgiving table!


Gamay is often overlooked for Thanksgiving but we love it paired with turkey and stuffing!  We are obsessed with Le Telquel Gamay and it is an obvious choice for the holiday.  Le Telquel is from the Loire Valley and has tastes of juicy red berries and spice entwined with racy acidity.  Pure, unadulterated, and best served slightly chilled.  This is one of the best Gamays you will find for under $20 and it is a great Thanksgiving wine!


Riesling is one of the most food-friendly wines and is a great pairing with many Thanksgiving dishes.  We recently tasted 2014 Famille Hugel Riesling and discovered it’s not only delicious, but it’s also a killer value at $12.  This dry Riesling from the Alsace region of France is filled with tastes of lemon and orange blossom along with naturally bright acidity and hints of minerality.  Pair with everything from yams to mashed potatoes to turkey & stuffing!

Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc is one of our favorite white wines so it is always included at our Thanksgiving table.  Chenin is made in diverse styles so look for a dry Chenin Blanc to pair with turkey or yams.  Leo Steen Saini Valley Dry Creek Valley Chenin Blanc is a fantastic deal for under $20.  Sweeter styles can be a nice pairing with Thanksgiving desserts.

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2015 Marcel Lapierre Morgon

I love Burgundy but it is an incredibly expensive habit to keep.  When I want a beautiful Burgundian-like wine and don’t want to shell out the big bucks, I uncork a bottle of Marcel Lapierre Morgon.  I just tried the recently released 2015 vintage and was drawn into the romance of this wine yet again.

Marcel Lapierre Morgon
Marcel Lapierre Morgon

Aromas of wildflowers and cherries lead into flavors of cherries, violets, raspberries, and cloves.  This Cru Beaujolais also has waves of acidity that brighten the smooth, juicy palate. With a few hours of air, the flavors really harmonize.  Approachable now but still a baby so I would give it a couple of years if you have the patience.  One of the best values in wine, year after year!  (13.5% alcohol, $30)

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