Sunday, January 16, 2011

Best Kept Secrets...

I think I may have found two of the best kept secrets in the state of California. Maybe it’s time to let the cat of the bag. Every Tuesday night, I have a ritual so to speak. Around 6 PM Pacific time, I turn on my laptop and go to this website: And for the better part of the next hour, I tune in to a great live broadcast with a bevy of wine information. To watch this broadcast does not cost a thing and I consider it one of the best learning tools out there. If you are a wine lover, wine writer, blogger or even affiliated with the wine industry, you should be watching this broadcast. The experience has proven invaluable. These guys have something really unique and special happening here. So, who are these guys and why should you be watching?

Cellars Of Sonoma is a small, neighborhood wine shop, located in downtown Santa Rosa, California in scenic Railroad Square. But it doesn’t stop there. What sets this place apart from others is the image they are projecting. They are more like a tasting room--featuring wines from various small lot wine producers that many of you have probably never heard of: Amorosa Bella, Bonneau Wines, Bradford Mountain Wines, DuNah Vineyards, Gann Family Cellars, James Family Cellars, Krutz Family Cellars, LaSirena, and TR Elliott Winery. These guys really go the distance to help promote these small producers! Owner Scott Jordan and his staff (including my friend Mike Westerberg) are very passionate and committed to their venture! They offer a wine club, public and private events, music events each week and the best part: on Tuesday nights, you too can be a part of the festivities by tuning in to the live broadcast and participate by asking questions online! It’s that simple! Each week, they feature a new guest: perhaps a winemaker, winery owner, social media phenomenon or even me… Yes, me.

On October 19th, I flew to California and guested as "Cellarmistress" on the live broadcast that evening. This is where I discovered my second best kept secret… Along with myself and my good friend Amanda Hagood, of The Traveling Grape, our special guest was Michael Gann, owner of Gann Family Cellars. I had never heard of Gann Family Cellars but I walked away from my experience knowing that I had discovered yet another great small family winery from Sonoma County! This winery makes top notch wine in many varietals (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, late harvest Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Malbec, Petite Sirah, and Syrah.) Michael had a family history rooted in the wine industry but didn’t decide to take the plunge until 2001, when he and his wife Gretchen decided to make their dream of owning a winery a reality. The grapes for their wines are sourced in Sonoma County in the Russian River Valley and Alexander Valley. I was able to sample two of their wines while I appeared on the show: the 2005 Alexander Valley Syrah and the 2005 Alexander Valley Petite Sirah. Both were beautiful, full-bodied wines.

The 2005 Alexander Valley Syrah was elegant and concentrated with cornucopia of dark fruit flavors. The finish lingered on forever. As I sat there tasting it, I dreamed of short ribs and polenta. It commanded that type of meal! The wine is available on the website at for $38 a bottle. Well worth the price!

The 2005 Alexander Valley Petite Sirah was a monster! Petite Sirah is making a comeback in a big way and this one is the classic example of the excellent wines coming from Gann Family Cellars. I wanted a big, juicy steak with this wine. It had firm tannins and lots of dark fruit. The color was almost an inky blue-black and I knew it spelled trouble!! At $38, this wine is a steal!

(Later that evening, we all went next door to Jacksons for dinner and Scott brought along the Gann Family Cellars Malbec. Though the vintage year escapes me at the present time, I'm here to say that it was fabulous! You just don't find a lot of California producers making Malbec. It would be worth your while to get a bottle of it.)

For more information on Gann Family Cellars, please visit their website at It was a real pleasure meeting Michael Gann and getting to sample his wines. You really need to experience these wines for yourselves!!

If you live in the bay area, you owe it to yourselves to visit Cellars Of Sonoma! Scott Jordan, Mike Westerberg and their team are so enthusiastic, you will feel right at home and have a wonderful time. And if you don’t live in the area, tune in every Tuesday at 6 PM Pacific time on their website for a fun, educational experience! These guys put on a great show!!! It won’t be a secret for much longer! Thanks for having me as a guest! It was one of the nicest wine country experiences I've had so far!

"You Saw It Here First"...This post was created solely for "Cellarmistress' Cellar Talk" by Grace Hoffman. Grace is an Italian-born, American-bred wine blogger/educator with an all-consuming passion for wine and all it encompasses.


  1. Great post Grace. I look forward to the show every week too!

  2. Great, great post! It’s something I have never thought about, really, but it makes a whole lot of sense. Thanks for sharing