Rosé season is here!

At long last, your wait is over. Spring is fast approaching, and with the warmer weather comes the release of rosé wine from our favorite producers. We’ve got two brand new rosés in the shop, on two totally different ends of the spectrum. Whether you’re looking for rosé that’s intense, textural, and soulful, or bright, floral, and fresh, we’ve got the juice you’re looking for!

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2014 Tatomer Rosé of Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir), Santa Barbara County – $27
A brand-new rosé from Graham Tatomer, champion of Austrian & German grape varieties grown in California. From the highest elevation sites of John Sebastiano Vineyards in Santa Barbara County, the grapes for this aromatic rose are picked early to preserve freshness and aromatics.

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2013 Les Lunes GSM Rosé, Paso Robles – $20
For a richer, more savory rosé, look no further than Les Lunes GSM rosé from Paso Robles. Textural and lush, with racy acidity and delicate minerality. A great wine to pair with local King salmon, barbecue, charcuterie, salads, or just a warm sunny day.

Buy any six bottles from the online shop and save on delivery!

Making Wine at Home

A few years ago, as my obsession with wine was picking up steam, I decided that I wanted to make my own wine. Some of my friends thought I was crazy, while others thought it was really cool and wanted to help out. I spent a few months reading winemaking books and home winemaker forums online, preparing myself for the 800 lbs. of Dry Creek Syrah grapes that were destined for my garage.

My first vintage was 2011, a notoriously difficult year for grape growers and winemakers in California. We had a long, cool summer, followed by rain at the end of the growing season. Anyone who picked their fruit before the rains were able to produce age-worthy, complex, structured, and focused wines, while those who waited until after the rain were running into issues such as the grape’s sugar content getting diluted by the rain water and mold. My grapes fell into the latter category, and we had to make a quick decision to harvest before the problems we were encountering in the vineyard progressed. We had to drop about 10% of the fruit before harvest, which had grown moldy from the moisture.

botrytis_grapes_webThe wine that I produced that year was rife with issues, and my inexperience compounded by my generally worrisome demeanor was a recipe for disaster. I cried a lot that year in the corner of my garage, not knowing what to do when I ran into various problems. I did eventually get that wine out of the barrel and into the bottle, as a last-ditch effort to see if it would come around – it smelled like the inside of a brand new garden hose from the moment it was finished with malolactic fermentation. I now have about 10 cases of home-made Syrah that smells like nail polish remover and rubber “aging” in wine storage. What I’ll end up doing with that wine is still TBD.

Fast forward another year, and I decided to give winemaking another shot. 2012’s summer was shaping up to be a short and hot one, and I was able to source some Russian River Valley Zinfandel from a gentleman up in Santa Rosa for just $1/lb. This was also the year I got married, just about a month before harvest – I actually planned my wedding to be early enough where it wouldn’t interfere with my winemaking (I’m a girl with priorities, okay?). Four friends helped me pick those Zinfandel grapes at 24 degrees Brix on the foggy morning of October 6th, 2012.

pickingpartyMy 2012 Zinfandel was a joy to make. I had all of the equipment I needed, better understood what to expect, and had my routine down a little bit better. I actually enjoyed the winemaking process, and didn’t shed a single tear the entire time! I had two 44-gallon fermenters bubbling away, along with a couple of carboys full of saignée that would make a lovely, early-drinking rosé.

My Zinfandel spent about 13 months in a neutral French oak barrel, and I was unsure how good it would be once bottled. I bottled it in May, and since then the wine has really come around. It’s absolutely delicious – floral, rich, balanced, fruity without being jammy, and spicy, with elegant structure for a Zinfandel. I still have a few carboys I need to bottle, which I swear I’ll get around to soon!

I am planning to make only rosé from that same vineyard this year, which means I’ll be picking my grapes a little earlier than I did in 2012. I just paid a visit to the vineyard a few weekends ago, to see how the fruit was coming along. They had just started verasion, and the farmer is planning to thin the fruit this week.

2014 ZinIf you are interested in making your own wine, and you have the space/resources to make it happen, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s hard work, and akin to having a newborn baby for the first few months. Should you wish to take it up, I recommend the following books and resources:

The Way to Make Wine by Sherridan Warrick
From Vines to Wines by Jeff Cox
Winepress.us – an online home winemaking forum, moderated by small commercial producers and home winemaking veterans.
MoreWinemaking.com – a website selling affordable home winemaking gear.

Most importantly, make sure you have plenty of friends who will be supportive of your endeavor and eager to consume your finished product.

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Our 5 Favorite Wines for Summer

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Summer is just around the corner, but the recent warm temperatures may have you thinking it’s been here for a while! The wines on my table have all been light-bodied and served with a chill, and most of them are the perfect pairing for a weeknight barbecue. Here’s a round-up of our five favorite wines for summertime, all available on Winelandia.com!

La Clarine Farm 2013 Rosé, Sierra Foothills – $19
Nothing yells SUMMER like rosé wine. We opened a bottle of this delicious vino from La Clarine Farm last night to enjoy with our hot links, grilled Tartine bread, and arugula salad. It is surprisingly expressive, with intense aromas of grapefruit blossoms and herbs. It’s luscious and textured while still having a zippy acidity to make it thirst-quenching on a warm summer evening, and it’s an absolute steal at this price. All of the La Clarine Farm wines are made in extremely limited quantities, so get some before it’s gone!

Rafa Bernabé 2011 ‘El Morron’ Garnacha, Alicante – $25
The joyful wines of Spanish natural wine producer Rafa Bernabé are a new discovery for us, and we just can’t get enough of them. This juicy Grenache is from the Alicante region in Spain (just off the south-eastern coast), which faces the Mediterranean ocean. ‘El Morron’ is fresh and vibrant, sees no new oak, and has no added sulfites. A really beautiful Spanish wine, perfect for a warm evening.

Jolie-Laide 2013 Trousseau Gris, Russian River Valley – $27
Jolie-Laide is one of our favorite California producers, and these wines cause quite a ruckus when they are released each year. We were lucky enough to get our hands on some of this rare and delicious juice that has earned itself a cult following. The 2013 Trousseau Gris is not quite a white wine and not quite a rosé – it’s a peachy-colored white wine with incredible aromatics and texture. Enjoy this delicious and unique wine with citrus and cilantro-stuffed whole grilled snapper.

Knebel 2012 ‘Von den Terrassen’ Riesling, Mosel – $23
Riesling is a wine often overlooked by casual wine drinkers, but it’s the summertime darling of fanatical wine lovers. It’s fresh, luscious, aromatic, zippy, and great with spicy foods. This particular wine from German producer Knebel is perfectly balanced and priced to be enjoyed any day of the week. It’s dry (but not too dry) with mouth-watering acidity, which will make it great with food or all by itself. An excellent wine for a pool party!

Matthiasson 2013 ‘Linda Vista’ Chardonnay, Napa Valley – $27
Steve Matthiasson makes the best Napa Valley Chardonnay we’ve ever had at a price point that’s hard to beat. This is not your Aunt Mary’s buttery, oaky chardonnay – it’s quite the opposite. This beautiful example of California Chardonnay has notes of citrus, apples, and honey, with balanced acidity. The wine was aged in neutral oak and allowed to undergo partial malolactic fermentation, so it has a touch of texture while still being fresh and juicy. Enjoy with friends on a grassy knoll, preferably under a blue sky full of puffy white clouds.

Interested in purchasing some of our delicious summertime wines? Check out our delivery terms and order yours today!

10% off SALE! Beat the heat with rosé from Winelandia

With record-setting temperatures in the forecast this week, Winelandia is coming to the rescue with a rosé wine sale! Pick up some delicious pink wines to enjoy poolside, with a nice dinner salad, or on your porch. Sale ends 5/16/14.

Grace Wine Co. 2013 Rosé of Grenache, Santa Barbara Highlands – On sale for $20.70
Two Shepherds 2013 Rosé of Grenache Gris, Mendocino County – On sale for $21.60
La Clarine Farm 2013 Rosé of Syrah & Mourvedre, Sierra Foothills – On sale for $17.10

Buy six and qualify for delivery specials in the Bay Area (mix and match with non-sale items OK)! Have a great week.

Recipe: Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market Salad

spinachsalad
I have a secret: I’ve been religiously going to the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning for… well, years. I’m sure if I ever didn’t show up for a couple of weeks in a row, one of the merchants I shop with every week would file a Missing Person’s report for me.

When we’re developing recipes for the wine club, this farmer’s market is usually the inspiration for our creations. You can buy literally ANYTHING here, if it’s in season and grown within a 200 mile radius (with the exception of garlic scapes, which I’ve given up on). It seems natural that I’d name a salad after this magical place, the muse in my lifelong culinary adventure.

This beautiful, seasonal salad is full of top-quality ingredients from some of my favorite Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market vendors. The spinach is from Star Route Farms in Bolinas; the strawberries are from Dirty Girl Produce in Santa Cruz; the goat cheese is sourced from Petaluma cheese-maker Andante Dairy; the delicious crispy pancetta is from my favorite Hayes Valley butcher shop, Fatted Calf; the dressing comes from the market, too – the olive oil is from olive grower Sciabica & Sons, and the balsamic vinegar from Bariani. I’ll admit, even the sea salt used in the dressing comes from our very own San Francisco Bay. I feel very fortunate to have the bounty of California at my fingertips.

These ingredients converge to create a classic salad with a little bit of an Italian twist (I am part Italian, after all). It has all of the flavor components one could wish for in a salad; herbal, sweet, savory, salty, pungent, and creamy. They are a match made in heaven, and you can elevate it to another level by pairing it with the Grace Wine Co. Santa Barbara Highlands Rosé of Grenache, available in our online store. This superbly bright and aromatic rosé is the perfect compliment to such a salad, and I can easily imagine enjoying the two together every day for the rest of my life.

Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market Salad
prep time: 30 minutes
Serves: 2-4

Ingredients:
1 basket sea scape strawberries
4 oz pancetta or bacon, diced
3 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled
2-3 big handfuls of baby spinach, washed and dried
for the dressing:
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. high-quality balsamic vinegar
Pinch of salt
Pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Heat a small skillet over medium heat and cook the diced pancetta or bacon until crisped. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
  2. Slice the strawberries in half lengthwise, into bite-sized pieces.
  3. In a small jar, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Shake or whisk well.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the spinach and strawberries, then toss with the dressing.
  5. Transfer the dressed strawberries and spinach to individual bowls, and top with the crumbled goat cheese and diced pancetta or bacon. Serve alongside a tasty, fragrant rosé.

 

Wine of the Week: Matthiasson 2014 Rosé

We just got the new 2014 vintage of Matthiasson Rosé back in stock! Click here to purchase.

It’s that time of year – 2014’s rosé wines are hitting the local wine shops and we were lucky enough to get our hands on some of the best pink juice around. Steve Matthiasson makes a great rosé (amongst other things), and he’s also the SF Chronicle’s Winemaker of the Year.

This rosé is one of the most graceful examples we’ve seen come out of California. A blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Counoise – all Rhône grape varieties – it’s super aromatic, bright, juicy, and begs for food or a sunny spring day. It’s the best rosé we’ve had all year, so you might want to get your hands on some while it’s still around.

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Winemaker:  Steve Matthiasson
Bio: The SF Chronicle’s 2013 Winemaker of the Year and nominated for a James Beard award in 2014, Steve Matthiasson is one of Napa Valley’s top viticultural consultants. With over 20 years of experience, he is certainly no newcomer. He is known for championing Italian grape varieties in California, producing wines from grapes like tocai-friulano, refosco, and ribolla gialla. A Whittier college graduate and former San Francisco bike messenger, Steve now lives on his 5 acre Napa Valley farm with his wife and children.
Region: US>California
Vineyard: Windmill Vineyard (Yolo County) & Kahn Vineyard (Napa Valley)
Blend: 36% Grenache, 28% Syrah, 26% Mouvèdre, and 10% Counoise
Aging: Stainless steel, sur lie
Production Notes: Whole cluster direct-to-press (vin gris). Settled in tank for 24 hours, then fermented and aged sur lie in stainless steel barrels. No racking, fining, or cold stabilization. Wine was sterile filtered prior to bottling to prevent malolactic fermentation. 11.6% alcohol. 1000 cases produced.
Tasting Notes: Barely pink in color, gauzy aromas of grapefruit and white peach waft from the glass. On the palate, it is light-bodied and graceful with delicate acidity. This is one of the more elegant and refined rosés we’ve had from California – it’s perfect for a bright and sunny spring day.
Food Pairings: Light salads, fava beans, poached salmon, charcuterie, rabbit

Wine 101: Pairing Wine with Spicy Food

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Food and wine pairing is a mysterious topic, subject to many opinions and theories. However, one thing that is pretty well-understood is how to pair wines with spicy foods. Certain wines work really well, while others are downright terrible. In this post, we will go over the various elements in spicy food & wine, and how to find a winning pair.

An important thing to consider when pairing spicy foods with wine is that tannins in wine amplify the spice and can make a spicy food uncomfortably hot. While spicy foods can pair well with red wine, you definitely want to avoid red wines with a lot of tannins. Tannins are the textural element in some red wines that create the feeling of “dryness” on your tongue. If you are enjoying a spicy meal, having a tannic red wine can make that experience unpleasant. Common wines that tend to be tannic include young Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and Nebbiolo.

Red wines that are high in alcohol can also clash with spicy food. The spice can make a high alcohol wine seem even higher in alcohol, and not in a pleasant way. You also want to avoid red wines with a lot of oak, since the spice can make an oaky wine seem even oakier. A lot of American red wines on the market are tannic, high in alcohol, and oaky – so perhaps it’s best to avoid those altogether unless you’re familiar with the wine.

If you want to pair red wine with your spicy food, look for examples that have a lot of flavor without the tannins. Cool-climate Carignan is a great choice, since it’s rustic, spicy, juicy, and low in tannins. Look for Carignan from Mendocino County – there’s tons of it coming out of there. You could also try a Beaujolais (gamay) since they are low in tannin, fruity, and straightforward. Spicy foods will overpower more delicate, complex, or aged wines such as Pinot Noir, so those are best to avoid.

The best wine pairing for spicy foods are off-dry and fruity white wines. The sweetness in the wine tames the heat of the spice, making an ethereal pairing. Try a spicy asian noodle dish with an off-dry or sweet riesling – it’s a match made in heaven. If you’re having spicy, bitter greens such as arugula or dandelion, consider a dry white wine such as Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc to complement the herbal aspect and to contrast the spice.

Rosé is also a great pair with spicy foods such as chili, barbecue, and Mexican food. It’s usually super fresh, fruity, and low in alcohol, which tempers the spice. It’s also tasty and thirst-quenching, which totally helps put the fire out after you’ve had a few bites too many of Aunt Mary’s award-winning Texas chili. Another option is sparkling wine, which is a nice contrast to the spice with it’s effervescence and brightness. Beer is also a great option with spicy food for the same reasons that sparkling wine works.

Here’s a quick overview of some great spicy food & wine pairings:

Spicy barbecue: Rosé
Spicy asian noodles: Off-dry or sweet riesling
Indian curry: Off-dry gewurtztraminer
Chili: Rosé
Mexican food: Rosé or Carignan

Do you have a favorite spicy food wine pairing that’s tried and true? Let us know in the comments.

Wine 101: Rosé Wine

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Nothing marks the onset of spring like the release of the latest vintage’s delicate pink wines. These flamingo-hued libations are extremely popular with wine novices and experts alike – they are fresh, easy-drinking, packed with aromatics, inexpensive, low in alcohol, and utterly delicious. In Portugal, pink wines are called rosado. In Spain, they’re rosato. In France and the US, it’s called rosé.

Rosé wines are made in many countries around the world, but some of the most famous rosé wines are from Provence and Bandol. These wines exhibit great finesse and elegance, and are usually totally dry (no residual sugar). Rosé wines can be made with any red grape, such as mourvèdre, grenache, pinot noir, and syrah. Many mass-produced, cheap rosé wines are packed with sugar and taste like candy. These are the wines that give rosé a bad name. In general, you could expect to spend $15-$30 for a good or great rosé wine. I’ve seen them cost as much as $60, and those are typically very special. Domaine Tempier is well-known for their expensive and cult-status rosé from Bandol.

One interesting thing about rosé wine is that it’s seasonal, fragrant, pretty, and short-lived, much like a wildflower. It’s usually bottled in late winter or early spring following harvest, and makes it to market by April or May.  It provides the winery with a product they can get to the market much more quickly than a red wine, since rosé is ready to drink as little as 4 months after the grapes are picked. Red wines typically require at least a little age, and can take a year or longer to make it to market. Rosé generally doesn’t age very well, if at all, and should be consumed within the first year following it’s release. For example, you wouldn’t want to purchase a 2011 or 2012 rosé in 2014. You’d want to wait to see the 2013 rosé wines. There will, of course, always be exceptions to this rule – but it’s a good guideline to follow when purchasing rosé wine.

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Do you know how rosé is made? Sometimes it’s a byproduct of red winemaking, and other times the grapes are picked early and pressed specifically for rosé wine. There are a couple of methods, detailed below.

  1. The saignée method. In French, it means “bleed”. It starts with grapes picked with the intent of making red wine. The grapes are crushed and/or de-stemmed; all the sweet juice and grape skins hang out together in big vats in preparation of fermentation. The winemaker will bleed off some of the pink juice after it’s been briefly in contact with the skins. The amount of time this juice sits on the skins dictates how saturated in color the finished wine will be. This saignée is typically performed to make the red wine more concentrated, since the process increases the skin-to-juice ratio of the red wine by removing some of the juice. The saignée ends up being a byproduct of the red wine-making process – the pink juice that has been bled off is fermented separately and bottled as rosé.
  2. Vin gris. French for “grey wine”, which is a little misleading since the wine is not grey. In this method, the red grapes are picked specifically for making rosé, and they go directly to the press just like a white wine. The juice spends no time on the skins at all, which results in a wine that is a very pale pink or in rare cases even white in color. You will see French and sometimes American rosé labeled Vin Gris if it’s made with this method. These rosé wines tend to be lower in alcohol, since the grapes are usually picked at earlier ripeness levels. This is a stylistic choice, but seems to be the norm for vin gris.

There are other wines that qualify as rosé, but are made in various experimental methods. For example, Antica Terra of Oregon makes a rosé of pinot noir (shown below) that spends 6-8 days on the skins during fermentation. It’s then siphoned off the skins when some (but not all) of the sugar has been converted to alcohol, and is then racked into a neutral oak barrel. The wine finishes fermentation in the barrel, and stays there on the lees for several months while it ages (generally I avoid rosé wines fermented or aged in wood, but this is one exception – it’s unreal). Because it’s pinot noir, which doesn’t have a lot of color to begin with, and because it’s pressed early, the wine is not really red, but more of a rosé. Technically, it’s a red wine, but the TTB (the government agency that regulates wine label contents) requires the producer to label it as a rosé.

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During the vinification process, rosé wines are typically fermented in neutral vessels such as stainless steel or cement (as opposed to oak, which could impart flavor into the wine). Some rosé wines are fermented or aged in oak, and this is a stylistic choice – however, most of them (in my experience) are awful. The Antica Terra rosé of pinot noir, discussed above, is one exception I’ve come across.

You can also boost the aromatics in a rosé wine by fermenting it at cool temperatures (for example, below 60F). The cooler fermentation helps preserve fresh, high-toned fruit aromas. I’m not sure why – I’m sure someone out there knows the answer – but this is common practice with white and rosé winemaking to ensure a bright and luscious bouquet.

Rosé wine is frequently associated with aromas of watermelon, strawberries, and herbs. It’s not usually very complex, and the prices reflect that, but the lack of complexity does not take away from the joy you experience while enjoying a glass. Rosé is the ultimate food wine, pairing wonderfully with spicy foods such as Thai, Mexican, chili, and barbecue. It also pairs great with salads, salmon, charcuterie, winter squash, root vegetables, roasted peppers, and pretty much anything pink.

When you shop for rosé, look for fresh and young bottles from producers you trust – Arnot-Roberts, Matthiasson, Domaine Tempier, and Porter Creek all make rosé that we feel is exceptional. Don’t worry too much about it – if it’s well made and dry, chances are it’s going to be great. Is there a producer making rosé that you love? Let us know in the comments!

Recipe: Raw Kale Harvest Salad

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love a well-balanced salad. A great mixed green salad is nice, but to me, a salad is best with a few different elements – some crunch, something sweet, a couple different types of greens, and a dressing that brings it all together. I think most people are used to cooking kale, but treated well, you can eat kale raw, and it’s super nutritious. The trick is really letting it sit with the lemon juice for a few minutes. You want to break down the cells of the kale, and the lemon juice acts as a tenderizer.

This recipe is very adaptable – you can use a different bitter green than radicchio, or a different sweet, fruity element than pomegranate seeds. Just keep the basic integrity the same – some kale, a bitter element, a nut, a fruit, and a tangy-sweet dressing – and you’ll be golden.

We paired this salad with the 2012 Porter Creek Rose, which was included in our recent wine shipment. I think there are many options for pairings here, but any tangy, acidic, lean wine will be best. Sauvignon Blanc would be another good option.

Serves 4-6

Special Tools
Small jar (8oz or so) with tight-fitting lid

Ingredients
1 bunch kale – lacinato/dino kale are best, the smaller the leaves, the better
1 small head or ½ medium head radicchio
1 small pomegranate, pips separated
3-4 T pumpkin seeds, toasted
1 lemon, juiced
1 T sherry vinegar
2 tsp honey
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
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Method
Remove the stems from the kale leaves, then stack them on top of each other into manageable bunches, and slice crosswise into ribbons, about ¼” thick.

Quarter the radicchio half and cut the tough stem ends out, then slice crosswise to match the kale ribbons. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss the kale ribbons, and add the lemon juice, a healthy pinch of salt, and a drizzle of olive oil. Mix well with your hands, bruising the leaves with a moderate amount of pressure. You don’t want to crush them, but you are trying to break down the fibers a little, to make the kale more tender. Set aside.

In the jar, combine a few tablespoons of olive oil, the sherry vinegar, honey, and about ½ tsp each of salt and pepper. Shake well. Taste the dressing and adjust the seasonings as needed.

In a serving bowl, combine the bruised kale, radicchio, pomegranate pips, and pumpkin seeds. Pour the dressing over everything, and toss well.

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Introducing the Winelandia Fall Lineup

The Fall 6-pack is sold out. Contact orders@winelandia.com if you have questions about re-ordering any of these wines by the case.

We’re very excited to introduce you to the delicious wines in our Fall offering!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn this lineup, we have included some outstanding wines from lesser­-known regions all over California. These are all sustainably produced, food­-friendly wines with a sense of terroir. We wanted to focus on local, artisanal, natural, small-production wines to pair with your favorite Thanksgiving foods and really show you what New California has to offer. We currently only have these wines available to wine club members, and we are almost sold out. Register for our wine club at https://club.winelandia.com if you wish to get in on the action.

Deux Punx 2011 Grenache Noir
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Winemakers: Dan Schaaf & Aaron Olson
Bio: Dan Schaaf and Aaron Olson are the Deux Punx. Living in San Francisco, Schaaf and Olson started making wine at home and the project just ballooned from there. They work with several vineyards in both California and Washington, and prefer a hands-­off, experimental approach to winemaking. Always willing to take chances, Deux Punx are still finding their style and perspective, and we’re excited to be part of that journey with them.
Deux Punx are wine lovers and music lovers, their labels are creative and done by artist friends of theirs, and they definitely think wine is meant to be shared and enjoyed, not cellared and ignored – that’s how we feel too! We just can’t believe that both of these guys have full­time “day jobs” and families in addition to making and selling this wine. Superhuman!
Region: Lake County
Vineyard: Tejada
Blend: 100% Grenache
Aging: 18 months 100% neutral French oak
Production Notes: Produced from sustainably farmed Grenache grown by the Tejada family, this is a pure expression of warm­-climate Grenache. Native yeasts were used for fermentation and aging was done in 100% neutral French oak to show off what was done in the vineyard. 125 cases produced.
Tasting Notes: Aromas of ripe red fruits & spice with firm tannins and juicy acidity. This would be a great wine to have with anything grilled, roasted, or barbecued.
Food Pairings: Burgers, grilled lamb, pizza, sausage, roasted poultry, BBQ red meat.

Verse 2012 Pinot Noir
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWinemakers: Ryan & Megan Glaab
Bio: Ryan and Megan Glaab have been making wine as Ryme Cellars for only 6 years, which is hard to believe considering how good this Pinot Noir is. Ryan is the assistant winemaker at another of our favorite wineries, Wind Gap. They met and fell in love during a harvest at a winery in Australia, and, now married, turned their relationship toward business too. Ryme wines ­and their accompanying Verse label ­are all made from Sonoma county grapes, and seek to highlight restraint and food friendliness. We really think these two have a bright future in winemaking and can’t wait to drink what’s next.
Region: Carneros
Vineyard: Las Brisas
Blend: 100% Pinot Noir
Aging: 10 months neutral French oak
Production Notes: This bright & fresh Pinot Noir is a blend of two different clones – Swan and Gamay Beaujolais (which is neither gamay nor from Beaujolais). It’s made from 20 year old sustainably farmed vines grown near the convergence of the San Pablo Bay and the Petaluma Wind Gap in the Carneros AVA. The grapes were mostly de-stemmed but 25% were left whole cluster and they were fermented with native yeasts in open-­top fermenters. This wine was aged for 10 months in neutral French oak and bottled without fining or filtration. 290 cases produced.
Tasting Notes: Aromas of red raspberry, wild fennel and tarragon, rounded out by dusty red clay earth and juicy cherry on the palate. This bright and juicy Pinot Noir has a beautiful texture and will be sure to dazzle on your Thanksgiving table!
Food Pairings: Roasted cornish game hens, duck breast with pomegranate gastrique, aged goat cheese, pork loin, wild salmon.

La Clarine Farm 2012 White Blend No. 1
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWinemaker: Hank Beckmeyer
Bio: Run by Hank Beckmeyer, La Clarine Farm is a principled stand out in California winemaking. A follower of Masanobu Fukuoka’s “Do Nothing Farming” methods, Beckmeyer has created a holistic vineyard and winery experience, trying to leave the grapes alone to, in a sense, make the wine themselves. Beckmeyer sees himself as a guide for the transformation of grapes into wine. Beckmeyer understands that terroir is constantly changing, and everything he is doing to the vines, the grapes, and the land, is changing the terroir – he is trying to keep it as pure and unadulterated as possible.
Beckmeyer has been quietly making wines in the Sierras since 2001, and has a diverse lineup, comprised largely of Rhone wines, both white and red. Hank’s laid-­back winemaking approach produces wines with texture and tons of interest – he simply let each wine, each vintage, become whatever it might. Very different from most California producers, that’s for sure.
Region: Sierra Foothills
Vineyard: Various
Blend: 47% Viognier, 41% Marsanne, 12% Petit Manseng
Aging: 100% Stainless steel
Production Notes: Produced from organically grown grapes, fermented with native yeasts, aged in stainless steel, and unfined/unfiltered prior to bottling – this is about as real as wine gets. Minimal SO2 used. Only 155 cases of this wine were produced, which means it won’t be around for long.
Tasting Notes: Aromas of white flowers and herbs with tons of mid­-palate richness, medium body and zingy acidity on the finish.
Food Pairing: Roasted game hens, chanterelle & gruyere bread pudding (see recipe), cheeses, smoked meats, fish, Indian food, lobster, salads.

LIOCO 2011 Indica
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWinemaker: John Raytek
Bio: Started by two sommeliers who wanted to make the kinds of wines they loved to drink, Lioco has developed into a great example of clean, food-­friendly, cool­-climate winemaking. Matthew Licklider and Kevin O’Connor are endeavoring to make transparent wines – wines where the customer knows what goes in, and comes out of the wine. Lioco has only been around since 2005, and recently one of their proprietors took over as winemaker, so we’re looking forward to the next evolution of this label. Their lineup includes the Indica wines, which are food-­friendly, drinkable, and affordable, as well as some single­vineyard Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays that are at a higher price point. Something for everyone!
Region: Mendocino County
Vineyard: Various, Redwood Valley
Blend: 98% Carignan, 2% Grenache
Aging: 11 months neutral French oak
Production Notes: Produced from organic, dry­-farmed, head trained, old vines. 25% whole cluster fermented, and bottled without fining or filtration. Neutral oak aging brings out the best in this wine. This wine will drink beautifully now, as well as age for a few more years. 684 cases produced.
Tasting Notes: Aromas of sour plum, red licorice, and lavender with blackberry, salted plums and orange pekoe tea on the palate. This rustic red wine with medium body is extremely food friendly, so don’t be afraid to experiment with pairings.
Food Pairings: Cracker crust pizza, carnitas, sausages, barbecue.

Two Shepherds 2012 Grenache Blanc
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWinemaker: William Allen
Bio: With a name like Two Shepherds, you’re probably surprised to find out that William Allen is a one-­man show. Allen is a longtime wine industry professional, and garagiste (home winemaker), who decided to start a professional winery with an emphasis on Rhone varietals. His first release was only in 2010, but he’s called on many of the great low-­intervention winemakers in California for advice, and it shows in his wine. He works out of a small winery in Santa Rosa, shared with two other wineries.
Allen only works with Rhone grapes, and even planted his own vineyard of Grenache recently. His wines are balanced, with both texture and acid, and really shine with food.
Region: Santa Ynez Valley
Vineyard: Saarloos
Blend: 100% Grenache Blanc
Aging: 80% 7 months sur lie neutral French oak, 20% 6 months in stainless steel
Production Notes: The winemaker aims for long hang­-time with these grapes, allowing for flavors to become more complex while preserving the grape’s acidity. This wine is from a particularly cool site in the Santa Ynez Valley. The wine is barrel fermented in neutral French oak, and then aged on the lees for another 7 months. It is then blended with 20% of the same wine aged in stainless steel, adding freshness and balance. Serve slightly below cellar temperature, do not over-­chill. 125 cases produced.
Tasting Notes: Aromas of green apples, white peach, orange blossom and honeydew with juicy acidity and elegant minerality.
Food Pairing: Miso­-cured Black Cod, chanterelle & gruyere bread pudding (see recipe), ceviche, grilled chicken, pasta with lemon & spinach.

Porter Creek 2012 Rosé
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWinemaker: Alex Davis
Bio: Porter Creek sits in a quiet corner of West Sonoma County, with a tiny tasting room and several lovely chickens you can visit and talk to. Winemaker Alex Davis has been profiled by many media outlets, but that doesn’t diminish the understated character and approach that he takes with all of Porter Creek’s wines. Their backbone is cool­-climate Pinot Noir, but Porter Creek produces a variety of other wines as well. The winery and vineyards have been organic for some time, and they are currently pursuing Demeter Certification – that’s the certification for Biodynamics. Davis speaks of being a wine crafter rather than a wine maker, because he feels it implies the minimal intervention approach he takes in all he does.
All of Porter Creek’s wine are consistent in their balanced profile and food friendliness. While each is different, they all possess acid and texture, and even the higher end, single vineyard pinot noirs are affordably priced for how much technique and skill went into their production.
Region: Sonoma County
Vineyard: Various
Blend: 75% Zinfandel, 25% Carignan
Aging: 6 months neutral French oak
Production Notes: Made from organically farmed, head-­trained grapes, this is a rosé for people who love the rosés of Provence and Bandol. Bone dry and balanced with delicate acidity, this wine was fermented 100% whole cluster with 95% native yeasts. 620 cases produced.
Tasting Notes: Focused aromas of spice and fruit with a mineral finish.
Food Pairing: Raw kale harvest salad, roasted cornish game hens, salads, pizza, salmon, hard winter squash, wild mushroom risotto.