This is a wine pairing that will rock your world!

Who doesn’t love hearing that sizzle as you throw a piece of raw meat onto that red hot grill? The taste buds start to salivate as the smokey aromas waft up, tantalizing your olfactory and conjuring up images of that first bite. Add some peppers, red onions, tomatoes, zucchini, and asparagus, all dowsed in EVOO, and you are on a roll, heading towards a blissful culinary experience. Read More

Opening a bottle of wine with a wax top can be a frustrating experience, but it doesn’t have to be.

Instead of attempting to open a wax topped wine bottle in the traditional manner of cutting the foil, or in this case the wax top, there is a much simpler and cleaner solution.

Watch the video

…and you’ll open a wax topped wine bottle like a pro.
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“When should I open that ‘special’ bottle I’ve been saving for that ‘special occasion’?” Or, “How long should I cellar this wine?”

The question of how long to hold or age a wine before it reaches it’s peak has to be one of the most frequently asked questions I’ve received over the years. The short answer is…the mere fact that you are opening that bottle makes it a Special Occasion.

However, the real answer is a little more detailed than that, and requires some explanation. If you have not done so already, enjoying a wine which has been aged properly will give you a new sensory experience of wine that a young wine cannot impart. If you have the patience and capacity to age good quality wines for a period of time, you will be amply rewarded. But there are a few steps needed to ensure proper aging. Read More

With the drought looming larger than ever over northern California, the recent fire on Butts Canyon Road just northeast of Pope Valley continues to remind us that we may be in for long, hot summer. With the fire having spread from Napa County, north into Lake County, over 200 homes have been evacuated. You can read more details and watch videos from Bay Area News channels in the article and links below.
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Screenwriter Robert Kamen Directs His Creative Passion To Mountain Grown Cabernet Sauvignon

Ripe Fruit – Low Yields – High Quality

Robert KamenThose six words capture the Kamen Winemaking Philosophy. Creative writing genius ROBERT KAMEN, a self described “accidental success”, grew up in a city housing project in the Bronx, earned a doctorate in American Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, and fell in love with a Sonoma Mountain property that became THE KAMEN ESTATE. He believes everything happens for a reason, though he feels nothing in his life was ever planned. His screenwriting successes include the “Karate Kid”, “Lethal Weapon” series, “A Walk in the Clouds”, “Taps”, “Taken”, “The Fifth Element”, and “Transporter” series.

When Robert bought the property that was to become THE KAMEN ESTATE it was wild, rugged, overgrown and extremely rocky virgin territory with no roads; just isolated, beautiful and full of potential. He wanted to plant the highest quality Cabernet Sauvignon while preserving as much of the natural “wildness” with as little intervention as possible. Initially, KAMEN fruit was sold to premium Sonoma wineries. A devastating fire in 1996 claimed half the vines and Robert’s home. Choosing to focus on the future, Robert began a major replanting with new Cabernet clones and different rootstocks, releasing his first Estate Cabernet with the 1999 vintage.


PHIL COTURRI, pioneer of organic viticulture, has been overseeing THE KAMEN ESTATE since Robert bought the property in 1980. The soils have never been exposed to chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. Born and raised in Sonoma County, Phil is a highly regarded viticulturist with over 35 years experience with top quality Northern California Vineyards, and a proud runner-up in the Jerry Garcia look-alike contest.

Mark-HeroldLegendary Winemaker MARK HEROLD is highly regarded for his “relentless and uncompromising pursuit of excellence” in winemaking. Considering the vineyard the single most important factor influencing wine quality, he is passionate about THE KAMEN ESTATE. Regarding this vineyard, Mark says, “the uniqueness here is the incredible diversity of soil and exposure that exists in a fairly small site. The potential for blending nuance and complexity is extraordinary.” Since Mark took over as winemaker just a few years ago, the KAMEN ESTATE CABERNET has become one of California’s greatest and most distinctive wines, each vintage more impressive than the last.

Herold’s portfolio of clients include Merus, Buccella, Kobalt, and Hestan, to name a few.


Kamen 2008 Cabernet SauvignonA Classic!  Balanced acidity, bold tannins integrated with deep, ripe flavors.

Concentrated and complex with amazing structure!

Tasting notes: Tremendous depth of color. Aromas of anise, black currants, sweet black plums, graphite and new leather with a subtle perfume of violets. Full, up front palate of blue fruit, dark black raspberries, mocha, baking spices and wet stone. Rich, powerful, seamlessly balanced throughout, with a long persistent finish. 100% Mayacamas Mountain Grown Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.  ($75)

To find the KAMEN ESTATE 2008 CABERNET SAUVIGNON, Click here and send us a note.


MiroTcholakov, Winemker at Trentadue and La Storia

Miro Tchokalov learned about wine at a very young age in his native country of Bulgaria.  Actually wine was just a part of life back in the old country.  As in many parts of the world where rural living requires farming and preserving food, Miro saw first hand that there are certain times of the year when you harvest your vegetables, pickle and jar some of them, make jam, etc.  And when grapes are ready to be picked, you make wine while the grown-ups “sample” [sic – drink] wines from previous vintages.

After his military service, Miro received his degree in viticulture and eonology from the Higher Institute of Agriculture in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.  In 1990 he was chosen from hundreds of candidates to intern in the US under an international agriculture exchange program sponsored by Future Farmers of America.  Shortly thereafter, he did brief stints in Napa Valley, and landed at Dry Creek Vineyards where he eventually became the Assistant Winemaker.

In 1999 Miro became the winemaker for Trentadue Winery in the Alexander Valley, and has been creating very interesting and affordable wines for Trentadue and the La Storia label.

Miro on Winemaking

A Private Tour of Trentadue Winery from Schaffer&Combs on Vimeo.

La Storia Wines

La Storia is the flagship label for Trentadue.  Miro uses the best blocks in the vineyards, and the best barrels he feels are worthy of the La Storia label.

La Storia 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon – Alexander Valley Estate

Miro’s Notes:
“The Cabernet in this blend was selected from our best block, 901, and the grapes were hand picked at 2:00 AM, which was still very cold for maximum freshness. After a few days of cold maceration, the fermentiation was started and completed in seven days. The wine was left on the skins for extended maceration for an additional 22 days. After pressing and several rackings, the wine was aged in 65% new French and other European barrels for about a year and then blended and aged for an additional nine months.

“The wine is classic Alexander Valley with a nose of ripe sweet cherry and plums, developed aromas of leather, licorice and hints of cocoa powder and molasses. With more aeration, additional aromas of vanilla, brown sugar and slight earthiness complete this wine. The mouth feel is balanced and not heavy with a long and pleasant finish. The wine should be age well with proper cellaring for another six to nine years.” ($24)

La Storia 2005 Cuvee 32 – Alexander Valley Estate

Miro’s Notes:
“In 2005 our four rows of precious Montepulciano finally produced more that the usual ton and a halve which increased its part of the blend to a staggering 8%.  The Estate Merlot and Sangiovese were given extended maceration to further develop the color and complexity of the wine and then racked into oak barrels, 40% of which were brand new. All of the blend components were aged separately for about a year and then blended and aged for another 14 months for the total of 26 months. Vintage after vintage, Cuvee 32 is one of the favorite wines for the visitors in our tasting room and La Storia Wine Club members.

“The wine is a perfect marriage of the lean, food friendly acidity of the Sangiovese and the firm and juicy structure of the Merlot and Cabernet, resulting into a rich, yet nicely balanced wine that exhibits layers of lush, sweet black fruit flavors and hints of plum and spice. The well-integrated tannins will allow for early enjoyment, but will beg for 10+ years in a quiet cellar.” ($24)

La Storia 2005 Petite Sirah – Alexander Valley Estate

Miro’s Notes:
“The 2005 is our third bottling of the Estate Petite Sirah under the La Storia designation. The 2005 vintage will go down in history as “the abundant” vintage and yet as one of the better balanced in terms of ripeness and overall structure of the wines. In normal year we do our grape thinning in one pass but in 2005 we had to do it in two passes and in some blocks even three times.

Approximately 30% of the wine was aged in new European and American oak barrels. Stylistically our 2005 is similar to previous vintages-a big, powerful wine, with dense berry-laden aromas and lush, mouthfilling flavors. The difference is the surprising feel of polish and elegance not usually associated with young Petite Sirahs. Based on our track record this is another successful vintage of age worthy wine that will keep you intrigued for many years to come.” ($24)

I first met Mike Harris in 2007 and was introduced to his Napa Valley Harris Estate Cabernet Sauvignons when Mark Herold was their winemaking consultant. With the 2007 vintage, the wines were finished by another “Rock Star” winemaker, Thomas Rivers Brown.

Harris Estate Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon
Lakeview Vineyard

Harris Estate 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Lakeview VineyardOnly 328 cases were produced of this wine from the two and one-quarter acre Lakeview Vineyard on the Harris Estate, located in the microclimate known as Franz Valley in the northern part of Napa Valley near Calistoga.  The vineyard is comprised of one acre of Clone 337 Cabernet Sauvignon, one acre Clone 6 Cabernet Sauvignon, and one-quarter acre Petite Verdot.

Wine critic Robert Parker in the Wine Advocate rated the wine 95 points and described it as:  “Beautiful floral, blackberry, blueberry, wild mountain berry, and forest floor scents soar from the glass of this opaque purple-colored 2007. Velvety-textured and opulent with terrific fruit on the attack, mid-palate, and finish as well as admirable intensity and power, this seamless wine can be drunk now (because of its awesome purity of fruit), but should evolve beautifully for two decades or more.”

2007 was a historic vintage for Napa Valley Cabernets, and for California wines in general.  When you have someone with the talents of Thomas Brown at the winemaking helm from a historic vintage, it’s time to pay close attention and add this wine to your cellar.  ($110)

Thomas Brown – Winemaking Consultant

Thomas Brown - Harris Estate Winemaking Consultant

Thomas Brown – Harris Estate Winemaking Consultant

Thomas Brown’s rise to the top echelons of California winemaking did not happen over night. After working the harvest in 1997 with Kent Rasmussen, he became the assistant winemaker to Ehren Jordan at Turley Cellars, along with consulting for a number of select, high profile California wineries.

In addition to Harris Estate Vineyards, Thomas is also the winemaking consultant for Schrader, Outpost, Maybach, Two Hands, GTS (Tom Seaver’s label), as well as making wine under his own label, the revered Rivers Marie project focusing on Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Brown’s winemaking resume of producing highly rated wines over the past decade has solidified him as one of the top winemakers and consultants among collectors, and within California wine circles.

It All Starts In The Vineyard…

I recently had a chance to chat with Annie Favia at a tasting at Jardiniere Restaurant in San Francisco.  She was there with her husband, winemaker Andy Erickson, pouring their Leviathan 2007 Napa Valley Red Wine.  Annie struck me as someone who is very passionate about what she does.  Her specialty is planting and managing vineyards, where it all begins.

Annie Favia joined Abreu Vineyard Management in 1998 as the only woman among 150 men (quite an accomplishment in and of itself).  She called Mary Hall (Maher), the vineyard manager for Harlan Estate, Bond and Napa Valley Reserve, for advise, and soon thereafter Hall became Favia’s mentor.

In addition to managing the vineyards for their own Favia label, Annie is developing vineyards for Screaming Eagle and continues to be under contract with Abreu.

Favia’s vineyard management company is called Libelula Viticultural Services, and she is highly regarded within the wine industry.