Holiday Events in Sonoma

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

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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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Christmas Gift Ideas for Wine Lovers!

Looking for the perfect Christmas gift for the wine lover in your life?  Good news…we have done the hard work for you and put together a list of a few great gifts that will fit perfectly under the Christmas tree!

For the Perpetual Student

Oxford Wine Companion

After almost a decade, wine expert Jancis Robinson just released a fully revised edition of the Oxford Companion to Wine (4th Edition).  The latest edition features 300 brand new entries along with revised maps, new insights from regional experts, and current photos.  This is a must-have book for any wine lover and is a terrific Christmas gift!

For the Wine Snob Who Has Everything

 

If you are trying to impress a wine snob who has everything and you have a large budget, we suggest a Laguiole En Aubrac Waiters Corkscrew Wine Opener.  Yes, they are expensive (starting at around $160 at Williams-Sonoma), but they are hand-crafted in France and absolutely beautiful.   Sure to impress any wine snob!

For the Wine Geek

Kermit Lynch

Grabbing a bottle or two of wine a wine geek will truly appreciate can be intimidating.  One place you can go to grab unique wines that almost any wine enthusiast will dig is Kermit Lynch.  Kermit Lynch imports some of the most authentic and beautiful wines from France and Italy.  This month, he is even featuring holiday sampler packages where the wine has already been picked out for you (too easy, right?).  You can be sure the wine will be both distinct and delicious.

Merry Christmas!!!

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Champagne and Sparkling Wine for the Holiday Season

Delicious Champagne or sparkling wine is essential for every Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebration.  Whether you are sipping it as an aperitif, pairing it with shellfish, or serving it throughout the meal, sparkling wine will enhance any holiday party.  Here are three picks that are not only delicious, but also very affordable!

Cheers to the holiday season!
Cheers to the holiday season!

J. Lassalle “Cachet d’Or” Premier Cru Brut

J. Lassalle “Cachet d’Or” Premier Cru Brut is one of my favorite Champagnes for under $50.  The blend of equal parts Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier is aged for 36 months on the lees before disgorgement.  With its incredible texture and minerality, it is a fantastic wine with shellfish or on its own.  My personal pick to bring cheer to any holiday celebration! ($38)

Domaine Brazilier Méthode Trad Brut

NV Domaine Brazilier Méthode Trad Brut is a really fun choice for under $20.  This blend of 50% Chenin Blanc and 50% Pineau d’Aunis from the Loire draws you in with aromas of fresh-baked bread and baked apples.  The palate offers tastes of apples and nutmeg along with vibrant acidity.  A definite crowd pleaser! ($14)

Le Marchesine Franciacorta DOCG Brut

My last pick is a sparkling wine from a lesser know region in Italy called Franciacorta.  The region offers some nice wines that generally come in lower in price than Champagne.  Le Marchesine Franciacorta DOCG Brut is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, and Pinot Nero fermented with native yeasts and aged in stainless steel.  The palate shows notes of golden delicious apples, almonds, anise, and brioche with fine bubbles and a salty finish.  A fantastic sparkling wine from a region most of your guests haven’t sipped from yet!  ($27)

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Last Minute Christmas Gifts for Wine Lovers

Looking for a last-minute gift to give the wine lovers in your life?  Finding something for the wine geek who has everything can be a bit stressful so we compiled a list of a few items that you should be able to get in time for Christmas!

For The Intellectual

The Essence of Wine by Alder Yarrow
The Essence of Wine by Alder Yarrow

Most wine lovers enjoy reading a great book about wine.  A couple of months ago, well-known wine blogger Alder Yarrow released a book called “The Essence of Wine“, which has received great reviews from the likes of Food & Wine Magazine and The New York Times.  The book can be hard to get your hands on (it is on backorder on Alder’s site), but you can be sure that the wine lover in your life will appreciate it (and probably doesn’t already have it).  It is an excellent coffee table book!

For The Connoisseur

Kermit Lynch
Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant

Grabbing a bottle or two of wine a wine geek will truly appreciate can be intimidating.  One place you can go to grab unique wines that almost any wine enthusiast will dig is Kermit Lynch.  Kermit imports some of the most authentic and beautiful wines from France and Italy.  This month, he is even featuring holiday sampler packages where the wine has already been picked out for you (too easy, right?). You can be sure the wine will be both distinct and delicious.

For The Foodie

Il Fiorello is a great spot for domestic olive oil
Il Fiorello is a great spot for artisan olive oil

As a foodie and wine lover myself, there is one thing I can’t get enough of…artisan olive oil.  I love having it on hand to pair with great bread or to cook with and it’s excellent to serve when friends are over.  One great spot to order a gift from is Il Fiorello.  Il Fiorello is a family-owned, small production olive oil company based in Napa County.  I just enjoyed olive oil samples from the company and was super impressed.  They have single bottles in addition to gift sets.  This is also a great host or hostess gift to bring to a New Year’s Eve party!

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Christmas Gifts for Wine Geeks!

Finding a really great Christmas gift for a wine lover can be a bit of an intimidating task. When a bottle or two of generic wine just won’t cut it, here are a few alternatives:

Gift for the Wine Intellectual

A New California Wine
A New California Wine by Jon Bonné

A New California Wine by Jon Bonné is one of the coolest books about wine released this year.  It takes a fresh look at the California wine industry and highlights producers that are backing away from over-manipulated, generic wines and producing wines that really express a sense of place.  A really awesome read for anyone who wants to look beyond the California wine giants into a dynamic, new world of wine.

Gift for Mr. and Mrs. Wine Geek

Grabbing a couple of bottles Mr. and Mrs. Wine Geek will truly appreciate is a really thoughtful idea but sometimes it’s hard to know what to get.  One place you can go to grab unique wines that almost any wine enthusiast will dig is www.KermitLynch.com.  Kermit imports some of the most authentic, beautiful wines from France and Italy.  This month, he is even featuring holiday sampler packages where the wine has already been picked out for you (too easy, right?). Trust me, the wine will be both distinct and delicious.

Gift for the Host or Hostess

Wine Wars wine trivia game
Wine Wars wine trivia game

Have friends that are always hosting a wine party?  How about giving them something that will entertain their guests for years to come.  Wine Wars is a really fun trivia game that covers a wide array of wine topics.  It has questions for both the wine expert and the wine novice so it is fun for the whole party.  Plus, the price is around $20 so it won’t break the budget.

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5 Thoughtful Gifts For The Wine Lover on Your Christmas List

It’s getting close to crunch time and the idea of finding the perfect gift for everyone on your holiday shopping list seems to be a little more stressful with each passing day.  I may not be able to help with every friend and family member on your list, but if you have any wine lovers, this may make shopping just a little bit easier.  Here are some of my top gift suggestions for wine connoisseurs.

Wine

So you might say “no kidding” but there is a lot more to buying a bottle of wine than just running into Whole Foods and frantically grabbing a bottle in your price range.  First and foremost, if you have the time, seek out a smaller, family run winery from your wine lover’s favorite wine region whose wines aren’t available in stores.  If you order a special bottle that is limited in production and hard to find, I promise that whomever gets the bottle will appreciate that you put some thought into their gift.  Plus, a lot of wineries are running specials this time of year so look for discounts on bottles and shipping.  If you are cutting it too close, try a smaller local wine shop and ask their suggestions.  A little work will go a long way.

Wine Club Membership

If you want to spend a little more money, a wine club membership from your loved one’s favorite winery is a sure way to brighten their Christmas morning.  Most wineries have different levels of memberships and most of them have added bonuses like invitations to harvest parties and discounts on cases of wine.

Wine Books

If your budget is a little tighter, books about wine are a great, thoughtful gift.  Natalie Maclean’s latest book, “Unquenchable“, is a wonderful read.  “The Food Lover’s Guide to Wine” by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg is also another favorite pick of mine.  Books about wine will be appreciated by both those newer to wine and those who have been drinking bottles of Bordeaux for 30 years.

Olive Oil, Charcuterie, and Cheese

For those of you who are intimidated by the thought of having to pick out the perfect wine, the foods that complement wine may be your best bet.  In my opinion, wine is best sipped with great food, so this is something almost every wine lover will appreciate.  Olive oils, artisan cheeses, and fine charcuterie are excellent choices.  Try Cowgirl Creamery for cheeses (www.cowgrilcreamery.com), Formaggio Kitchen for charcuterie (www.formaggiokitchen.com), and olive oils from Pasolivo (www.pasolivo.com).

Membership to WineSpectator.com

If all else fails and you are in a total crunch, visit www.WineSpectator.com and grab an annual membership.  It’s quick, easy, and will cost you $75 for an annual membership.  It’s a fantastic resource and will be a gift that gives all year long.

I hope these gift ideas just made your Christmas shopping just a little bit easier.  I promise that you can’t go wrong with these ideas.  Cheers and happy holidays!

 

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A Season of Giving and the Community That Gives Year Round

Since we are entering a season of giving, my next series is going to feature some gifts that are perfect for the wine lover on your Christmas list.  But first, I want to take a moment and highlight a community that practices this principle year round.  The wine community is one the most generous communities I have ever had the pleasure of being involved with.  I want to take this time to share a couple of the remarkable experiences I have had this year.

This past November, I was involved with an event for a charity very close to my heart, the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, because my mother-in-law passed away from lung cancer in 2007.  I was very hands on in this event and decided to send out a tweet in hopes of possibly getting a small wine donation.  Within an hour, I had a donation to cover the entire event (over 300 attendees) from OM Winery.  The charity was incredibly blessed by their donation (and OM Winery’s wonderful wine!).

Less than a month later, I was involved with an event for Face Forward, a charity that devotes its time to providing reconstructive surgery for women and children who are victims of domestic violence.  One post on my Facebook page later, and OneHope Wine offered to donate the wine for this event.  The event takes place tonight, and, once again, a California wine company has stepped up to the plate.  These events have and will raise significant amounts of money for the charities and OM Winery and OneHope Wine will play a part in each of the lives touched.

So let’s all take a moment during this holiday season to realize we are lucky enough to be a small part of a community that cares about the people in California and beyond.  Thank you OM Winery and OneHope Wine.  You are part of what makes the wine community so special!  I would love to hear any other stories of generosity from the wine community that you guys would like to share.  Let’s keep the spirit of giving alive all year!

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Wrapping up a Series- White Wine Values for the Holiday Season

I am wrapping up my series on holiday wine values with a few white wines that are readily available and affordably priced.  These wines are bottles that should be easy to pick up in a hurry and pleasing to your holiday crowds.

My first pick is a great Dry Riesling from Cupcake Vineyards.  The 2010 Dry Riesling comes from the Columbia Valley of Washington and has an aromatic nose of sweet peaches and pineapple.  The palate has tastes of lime, orange, and peach with a tangy, dry finish.  A perfect wine to pair with poached pears or a smoked ham and nicely priced at around $13.  (this wine was sent to me as a sample)

My second pick is Bogle 2010 Sauvignon Blanc.  A grassy nose with touches of citrus that follow into a palate of pineapple and pear.  Crisp acidity and a price of around $9 makes this a great holiday find.  Pair with a warm goat cheese dip or pan roasted tuna and puffed fried shrimp (if you do a traditional Italian Christmas “Feast of the Seven Fishes” like my family).

My last white wine pick is a Gruner Veltliner from Biokult.  This wine is a little harder to find but I know you can pick it up at a lot of Whole Foods.  It’s also a nice bottle if you want to introduce your guests to a new varietal.  On the nose there are notes of citrus, grass, and ginger.  The wine tastes of citrus with lively acidity and a hint of white pepper on the finish.  It pairs well with potato latkes at Hanukkah or a Christmas ham and retails for around $12.

Hope you guys enjoyed my holiday picks.  Next up, some recommendations for the wine lovers on your Christmas lists.

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Easy To Find Red Wine Values For The Holidays

In continuation of my series on holiday wine values, I want to feature a few wines that are not only priced well, but are also easy to pick up in your local wine shops and grocery stores.  We have all found ourselves in a holiday jam, whether you are planning the party or attending, and these are some great red wines you can pick up in a hurry.

One of my favorite inexpensive grocery store wines is Cline Cellars 2009 Zinfandel.  It is always in stock at Trader Joe’s for around $8.  I enjoy the palate of strawberries, raspberries, and dark cherries.  It has a smooth finish with notes of vanilla and pepper.  A fantastic wine for the season that pairs well with a holiday turkey or roasted duck.

Cupcake Vineyards 2010 Red Velvet is another festive choice.  It’s a rich, red blend from California with tastes of jammy blackberries, dark cherries, and a hint of cocoa.  The velvety finish highlights the berry flavors with lingering cocoa.  A perfect wine to sip at a holiday party with pepper-crusted steak crostinis or chocolate truffles.  It is readily available at most major grocery store chains including Whole Foods for around $12-13. (this wine was sent to me as sample)

Another go-to wine for the Christmas season is Altovinum Evodia Garnacha 2010.  The palate is juicy with tastes of dark berries, black cherries, baking spice, and a hint of chocolate.  The finish is dry and will make you long for another sip.  I am a huge Garnacha fan and this is one of the best you will find at this price point.  Perfect with any dark chocolate dessert or braised lamb and easy to find at your local wine store or Whole Foods for around $10.

So, this year when you are rushing around trying plan the perfect holiday party (or even just attending one), this wine list should help ease at least one of your worries.  Look for my favorite white wine values in the next 2 days.  Cheers!

 

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