Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy Holidays To Everyone!!!

Happy holidays to everyone!!! Yes, that time of year is upon us and I would like to take the time to reflect on this past year and thank all my supporters for making this the best year for me to date! I could not do this without the help of countless friends, wineries, winemakers, media consultants and all of you who believe in me! So I lift my glass and give big cheers to you and hope that 2011 is an even greater year! What can we expect from Cellarmistress? More blogs, more humor, more travel and a lot more passion!!! So please, imbibe responsibly and have a wonderful holiday season! I look forward to entertaining you with many more wine-soaked adventures to follow!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Legend That Is...Mondavi

At some time or another, we as bloggers and wine lovers will come in contact with wine made by Robert Mondavi Winery. The Mondavi family made the pilgrimage from Italy to California as many others had done in their day---their humble story beginning in Lodi, eventually moving down to Napa Valley. Through trial and tribulations , triumph and heartbreak, they created an empire only to watch it splinter away as Robert’s dream winery became a corporately owned company and his children ventured off on their own. When Robert passed away in 2008, we lost a legendary philosopher and he will surely be missed by all of us. Nevertheless, the winery is very much alive and a constant reminder of the legacy that has become a household name. I once was asked if I could have a discussion with anyone in the wine industry, who would it be? I explained that my biggest regret was never having met Robert Mondavi as even a moment in his presence would have been amazing!

Every wine lover who visits Napa Valley must make a stop at this winery. It took me several visits to Napa Valley before I finally stopped there but I’m glad I did. The winery is beautiful, the grounds impeccable and the wines are as great as ever. Under the care of winemaker, Genevieve Janssens, the winery is pumping out powerhouse wines.

Genevieve, educated at the University of Bordeaux, came to Robert Mondavi Winery in the 70s as a lab enologist and became Director of Winemaking in 1997. Her philosophy is a simple one---she is 100% dedicated to quality. She is always looking toward the future and proud to be the torchbearer of Robert Mondavi's vision. I recently got a taste of her philosophy when I received three bottles of wine as samples and am excited to be discussing these wines with you!

The 2008 Fume Blanc Reserve was an amazing wine! I'd never tasted a Fume Blanc so incredibly different in my entire life! Rich and bold tropical flavors of passion fruit and pineapple emcompass this wine. This wine was intense with full mouthfeel and brimming with bright, spicy goodness. A truly beautiful example of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon with a bit of barrel fermentation--one of the nicest I have ever encountered. $40.

The 2007 Napa Valley Merlot was an interesting blend of Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Syrah. I had to decant this one because the moment I opened it up, the aroma coming from the bottle was incredibly rich. It needed decanting! The wine was velvety smooth and a prime example of Napa Valley's "blackbird"--hoping to make a serious comeback!! Wild berry flavors, cassis, just lovely. $23.

The 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a powerhouse example of the 2007 vintage coming out of Napa Valley. Huge, concentrated fruit on the front. Dark plums, licorice, vanilla...Hearty with smooth tannins and a beautiful long finish. I would be curious to try this wine again in a few years to see how it evolves. $28.

And the fun does not stop here. A few days ago, I had the opportunity to taste two more exceptional Mondavi wines at a tasting I attended.

The 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville is a district designate wine--meaning all the grapes used in this wine came from Oakville. Full of dark fruit--dark cherries, blackberries, plums, and coffee flavors. Rich but delicate. By far one of my favorite Cabernet Sauvignons ever!! $45.

The 2006 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve was a huge surprise! Although this wine has many years to come, it was drinking nicely now. So earthy and powerful, this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and a tiny bit of Cabernet Franc is elegant and worthy of all the high scores it has received recently in the press. I felt very fortunate to be able to try it. $135.00.

As a household name, Robert Mondavi has touched the lives of many as a philosopher, innovator, story teller and lover of life. His legend will be remembered for many generations to come. When visiting Napa Valley, do yourselves a favor and just pop in to the winery. Even if not to sample, but to breathe in the atmosphere and you'll find it's truly magical. You owe yourselves that!!!

Robert Mondavi wines are available nationwide at most wine stores and markets. They can also be purchased on the winery's website, Robert Mondavi Winery is located on Highway 29 in Oakville. It is open to the public daily from 10-5.

"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.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tis The Season To Be...Charitable!!

The holiday season is upon us and all you wine lovers out there will be purchasing wines as gifts for your friends and loved ones. How good would you feel if by doing this, you were giving something back to charity? Recently, I was contacted by the Charity Case Foundation--a non-profit group in Napa Valley, founded in 2008 by Jayson Woodbridge, winemaker with Hundred Acre, Layer Cake and Cherry Pie Wines. He put together a hard-working group of ladies who volunteer their services and helped create wines for a cause. For the past three years, they have painstakingly worked with dozens of vintners in the area. The vintners have donated juice and helped create two very special wines. This kind of team effort will ensure that the community will have long-term support for this cause. This year, all 100% of the net proceeds of the sale of these wines will go to the following Napa-area charities:

The Wolfe Center: A community-based Drug and Alcohol Program for teens and families in Napa County.

Cope Family Center: A support and education center for families in crisis.

Aldea Children and Family Services: A professional mental health and child welfare service provider for Napa and Solano Counties.

Foster Kids Fund (FKF): An all-volunteer, non-profit community organization dedicated to enriching the lives of Napa County children in foster care.

What a great thing these volunteers and vintners are doing! They are giving of themselves and getting a great deal of good in return! What a warm feeling this gives me! I received one bottle of each of the two wines as samples and I have to admit, these wines are pretty special and cost a fraction of what I would value them at!

The 2008 Charity Case Rosé was bursting with fruit! Though they have kept the varietal content under wraps, it doesn’t really matter because the truth is it is delicious and a great find at $12 per bottle! Bursting with ripe cherry and strawberry flavor! 100% fermented in neutral French oak, stock up now for warm weather days coming up in the Spring! Buy some now and share the love!

The latest of the Charity Case wines is the 2009 Charity Case Sauvignon Blanc. Most people are used to the crisp acidity of Sauvignon Blanc, but this one is completely different. It is barrel fermented in new French oak barrels, giving it a creamy, smoky quality with stone fruit and tropical notes. Really beautiful! $12.

This year, a group of Napa vintners has donated 10 tons of Chardonnay to the cause so please stay tuned for new wines in the future! These wines are sold by the case and can be purchased by contacting: or

Or you may purchase on-line at the following link:

To learn more about the Charity Case Foundation and the Napa-area charities it supports, please go to the following website:

I think helping the Charity Case Foundation is a wonderful way for any wine lover to give back this season or anytime! Doesn’t that make you feel great???

"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.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

For A Breathtaking Experience...

One of the things I badly wanted to do on my latest trip to Napa Valley was to visit some off-the-beaten path little hideaways. (And yes, as skittish as I am, I was talked into visiting a mountain winery.) So on October 21st, my birthday, I headed to a place approximately 1550 feet above the valley floor--a magical place whose acreage and simplistic beauty just marveled my senses! Perched high above the town of Napa against the slopes of Mt. George lies Kenzo Estate. A lot of you may have never heard of it. It is a fairly new winery, just having celebrated its grand opening this past July. Owned by Kenzo Tsujimoto, the Japanese founder of Capcom, this beautiful 4000 acre property is worth discovering. Years in the making, this winery has something for everyone--world class wines and impeccable hospitality! There are plenty of photo opportunities as the landscape and winery are breathtakingly beautiful!

We arrived that morning and were greeted by our host, who immediately made us feel welcome and brought us pashminas to wear to shield us from the cold mountain winds. We were given a tour of the grounds and the winemaking facilities. From the minimalist Japanese-style architecture and décor, to the beautifully transplanted olive trees outside, to the state of the art tanks and barrel caves, everything was pristine.

Talk about state of the art! The tanks are computerized so if something goes awry, the error can be fixed via phone! Never saw that before at any winery! Mr. Tsujimoto has employed the talents of some of Napa Valley’s powerful heavy-hitters: David Abreu, famed vineyard manager, is responsible for tending the vines. Heidi Barrett, winemaker extraordinaire is making the wines. Thomas Keller, of the famed French Laundry and Bouchon, put together the food pairings. Now that is some star power there! But what about the wines??

For the past several years, the wines being made were made solely for the Japanese market and were being shipped overseas. With the opening of the new winery, the 2007 vintage is available and we did a sit down tasting of the winery’s four wines plus a food pairing of Thomas Keller’s sweet and savory breads. (Normally, there is a cost for this kind of tasting but the cost was waived for me.)

Please note, the thing I loved the most about this experience was the fact that it was relaxed and not rushed and we were able to take our time and just enjoy the moment. This is how it should be.

The first wine we sampled was the 2009 Asatsuyu, a Bordeaux-style Sauvignon Blanc. It was an extremely crisp, citrusy version of this wine with exceptional minerality and underwent a small amount of barrel fermentation. $60.

The three reds they make are all fairly similar as far as which Bordeaux components are used. The difference is in the percentages. All were 2007 vintage.

The “Signature” wine from Kenzo Estate is called Rindo. It was by far my favorite of the three reds. It was a big, fruit-forward California-style red, with a third each of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc and just a touch of Petit Verdot. Huge fruit, elegant finish. It will age gracefully for years to come. (If it lasts that long at my house!) $75.

The Murasaki was even more elegant, with the structure changing slightly to feature Merlot as the main component. “More like a Pomerol than a Pauillac” as they would describe it. It was the female to the male counterpart Ai that I will speak of next. Still young in expression, this bottle requires some serious bottle aging. $150.

The Ai was an amazingly powerful wine. Predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, it will go against all the “Big Boys” in Napa Valley. Tight but well structured, it will come into its own in the coming years. Patience is a welcome virtue in this case and well worth it. $150.

A bottle of the Rindo made its way back to Iowa with me and the experience of visiting Kenzo Estate will live with me forever. I highly recommend visiting them for a unique, off-the-beaten path jaunt you won’t forget.

Kenzo Estate is located at 3200 Monticello Road, high above Napa. They are an appointment only winery and are open 10-4 seven days a week. They feature three different kinds of tastings so please check with the host regarding your options. Tastings are priced from $30-60 per person. For more information, please visit their website at

"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.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Oh Oh Oh...ORTMAN!!!

This past Winter, while participating in a Taste Live Syrah event on Twitter, I was introduced to Ortman Family Vineyards. Located in Paso Robles, California (near the central coast), the Ortman family brings nearly forty years of experience to their handcrafted wines. At the winemaking helm are Chuck Ortman and his son Matt. Chuck began his career in Napa Valley, working as a “cellar rat” for Heitz Cellars, moving on to such illustrious wineries as Shafer, Far Niente and Cain. Wine Spectator magazine has dubbed him "Mr. Chardonnay" as he's made award-winning Chardonnay for other wineries. When he finally decided to strike out on his own, he moved south--founding Meridian Vineyards--what I call a “Central Coast Staple” that can be found in many households across America. There is no time like the present and Chuck , along with his son Matt, are now dedicated to bringing the BEST of what the central coast appellations ( such as Edna Valley and Santa Rita Hills) showcase to a wine-hungry public with their own private label, Ortman Family Vineyards.

These days, there are a lot of wines on the market. Competition is fierce. If you stick to what you do best, you’ll find a way to appease everyone. Even those who want great wines but at a value price point!

Enter the Ortman Family O2 label. These wines are elegant, food-friendly, and easy on your pocketbook. Perfect for everyday drinking but also work for special occasions.

I had my first chance to sample one of them back in June when I attended the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla, Washington. Matt Ortman and his wife Lisa participated in the conference's red wine speed-blogging event and introduced the 2008 O2 Series Sangiovese to us. I remember really being excited about this wine. In my opinion, there are too few Sangiovese producers on the west coast and when a great example of this wine catches my attention, it is a rare treat indeed! When I was approached to start writing about central coast wineries recently, I was pretty excited to receive the entire inaugural line of O2 Series wines from the Ortmans to sample.

The inaugural line has three wines:

The 2009 O2 Series Central Coast Chardonnay was a deal at $18! Zingy with lime zest and stone fruits and nice minerality on the finish, it sang in my glass as I paired it up with a light shrimp dish. Suffice it to say one could also drink it alone. It's that delicious! Well done!

The 2008 O2 Series Paso Robles Sangiovese rocked my world! So soft and lush with hints of raspberries and cinnamon. A nice tribute to the spirit of Tuscany, this wine is the perfect accompaniment to any Italian meal! Salute! $20.

The 2007 O2 Series SLO County Cuvee Eddy is a Rhone-varietal blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre with a bit of Petite Sirah thrown in. Dark fruits, dark spice and a little bit of that "funky" edge that makes Rhone varietals so great and sought after. This would be a great wine to pair with meat dishes including Winter stews. And with Winter well on its way, this is a good $20 investment!

Ortman Family O2 Series wines are available on their website at Their tasting room is open to the public daily and is located in Paso Robles, California at 1317 Park Street. They would love to have you come visit them! I'll be looking forward to seeing if they add any other wines to this line in the future!

Please seek out these wines! I truly believe they are a great representation of this region's bounty at a fraction of the cost!

"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.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cellarmistress Does The Glampire Ball!!!

As I have mentioned in previous posts, Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year. It gives me the opportunity to be someone I’m not for a small fraction of time. Another person who names Halloween as their favorite holiday is John Jordan, CEO of Jordan Winery. Jordan Winery is located in the beautiful Alexander Valley (Healdsburg, California). A few years ago, John began throwing these lavishly-themed private Halloween parties for friends at his family's mansion-style winery. Eventually, the parties got bigger and now they’ve become a way for him to thank the hundreds of wine industry members (media, press, wholesalers, retailers etc.) who help spread the word about Jordan wines.

At the beginning of September, I received my invitation to this year’s party. A box arrived in the mail and in the box was a wooden coffin with the word “Glampire” etched on it covered with a chain bracelet and heart on it. Upon opening the coffin, I found a cross-shaped flash drive and a scrolled paper invitation. I had planned to be out in wine country that same week so after playing the flash drive and seeing all the creepy things that were about to happen, I gladly sent my RSVP to the winery!!! (The invitation can be seen below. However, those of us who were invited received a different version of the one shown below. The wording on our video is altered below since the party was not open to the public. The winery posted this video on YouTube as a Halloween tribute…)

After putting much thought in to my costume, I decided to attend as “Miss Guided”, the beauty pageant princess who gets murdered. After all, the invitation did say “Blood Required.” I couldn’t wait to go! It was certainly going to be a highlight during what I am now calling one of the BEST WEEKS OF MY LIFE!

I thought October 23rd would never get here! The full moon rose over Sonoma County and the pouring rain and the somewhat treacherous drive on the mountain roads from St. Helena to Healdsburg made the beginning of our evening unbelievably creepy and awesome!!! I felt like I was in a horror film! Thanks to our GPS, my friend Amanda Hagood and I finally arrived at the gate to check in. We drove past the perfect hedges up a windy path to the parking lot and the first thing I spotted was the word “Glampire” in red lettering blazing off the side of the winery! How cool!!!

All I can say is a lot of thought, preparation and lavish detail was put into this production! It was absolutely amazing and once we got inside, we were greeted by friends and party-goers alike and lots of libations such as J Rosé sparkling wine (J Vineyards & Winery is owned by John's sister Judy) , martinis concocted just for this event (Loved the "Glam-tini!!!"), Jordan Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, oysters, caviar and all kinds of appetizing hors d‘oeuvres!

The almosphere was a beautiful mixture of red and black costumes, fog, cigars, beautiful but creepy décor (yes, there was even a casket you could climb into!) and the wine casks and barrels held surprises at every turn…

We ate, drank, danced and networked and had an amazing time!!! John Jordan and his mother Sally walked around greeting and mingling with the guests! (John told me his mother was from Iowa so I thought that was kind of interesting…) A great time was had by all who attended!!!

I want to thank my good friend Lisa Mattson, Communications Director for Jordan Winery and John Jordan for inviting me to such a lavish and wonderful event! I hope you both had as great of a time as I did! It was truly an awesome event and a great way for me to celebrate my birthday in wine country! I really can’t wait to see Jordan Winery during the day and am looking forward to coming back in a few months! See you then!

Jordan Winery is located at 1474 Alexander Valley Road in Healdsburg, California. Appointments are required. Please check out their website at for more details, videos and photos.

"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.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

An Anomaly In Napa Valley

In Napa Valley, tucked away on the valley floor of St. Helena, is an “anomaly”. I love it when I find a story that is out of the ordinary. Sort of like when fate takes you for a nice little ride to the unexpected. Sometimes these tucked away, off the beaten path little gems turn out to be the most special. Such is the story of Anomaly Vineyards, a small family producer of ultra-premium Cabernet Sauvignon. I recently had the pleasure of visiting this little winery on a day when the harvest “crush” was in full swing and the aroma of crushed grapes sang through the air. (This aroma is unlike any other and there’s only one word to describe it--”beautiful”.)

In the 90s, Steve and Linda Goldfarb, a working couple at their own law firm in Berkeley, had a revelation. Tired of their four hour daily commute, they decided to pack it up and move. While searching for new digs, they fell in love with a small, serene property in St. Helena. The property came complete with six rows of vines, which at first, they weren’t sure what they would do with. Eventually, they decided to pick the fruit by hand and make a little wine for themselves, using a manual on home winemaking they had purchased. That first year, after experiencing how difficult it was to do it all, they almost gave up. But their friends made them stick it out! It was worth it because their friends were pretty impressed with the new wine. Word got around quickly in the community. (The power of "word of mouth" goes a long way!) They had struck a goldmine! As more vineyard land became available nearby they made more of an investment and now thirteen years later, they are a full-fledged winery complete with a beautiful stone Tuscan-style winery building adjacent to their home.

With the help of their son, Seth, a full-time winery employee who left his job in Los Angeles and moved his family up to St. Helena, the Goldfarbs make an award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon that would convert any wine lover into a serious Cabernet lover! At the helm is their winemaker, Mark Porembski. With previous experience with Behrens & Hitchcock /Erna Schein and Charnu, he brings years of expertise to the fold. He and his wife, Jennifer Williams (who makes wine for Spottswoode) also make their own Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah under the Zeitgeist Cellars label. The wines he creates for Anomaly are pure heaven!

Seth greeted us (myself and my friend Amanda Hagood from The Traveling Grape) and took some serious time out of his busy schedule to show us around, walking us through the vineyards, allowing us to do some punchdowns of grapes already in the fermentation process.

After getting some "hands-on" experience, we ultimately ended up in the winery barrel room for a side by side tasting of their 2006 and 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. The room was dimly lit with barrels all around and sculptures of the family mascot, their beloved shepherd dog, Indee, who passed away in 1999. On the table were two glasses for each of us plus bread and Tuscan olive oil (from a relative’s olive trees in Cortona, Italy)

I truly enjoyed doing a side by side comparison of the two vintages, 2006 and 2007. The difference between the two is like night and day.

The 2006 was a joy! Elegant and refined with a graceful flow of dark fruits, pepper and almost a violet quality. The finish was extraordinarily velvety and smooth. This wine had a perfect balance and I just adored it. I believe it will continue to age beautifully for many years to come! (96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot) 888 cases. $85.

There has been a lot of talk lately about the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon vintage in the Napa Valley and it is being touted as the “Vintage Of The Decade”. I’m here to explain that if you like your Cabernets packing a huge wallop of fruit on the front then this vintage is definitely for you!

The 2007 vintage of Anomaly is still elegant despite having big fruit front and center. It is so unbelievably rich and powerful. I would say it is the more aggressive male counterpart to the 2006 version. The starting line-up of flavors is similar although on a much grander scale. It’s difficult to describe other than if there were such a thing as a wine version of “umami”, it would seem like the perfect description. The flavors just get bigger and bigger. The velvety finish is still there but in my opinion, the huge flavors overpower the finish and you tend to forget the wine’s ending, at least for now. I think in time, once this vintage has had a chance to relax a little, the true essence of what it is about will be more visible. Only time will tell… (91%Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot) 886 cases. $85.

Large format bottles are also available.

In addition to wine, the winery sells cold pressed extra virgin olive oil from Cortona (Tuscany), pressed from over 1200 olive trees on a relative’s property there. The oil is delicious and sells out very quickly. Sold in 375 ml bottles for $30, it can’t be beat!

Anomaly Vineyards wines are in very limited distribution here in the U.S. The best way to obtain them is by ordering them from their website at They currently have a mailing list and are active in social media through Twitter (@anomalywine) and you can follow them on their winery page on Facebook. If you are interested in visiting them, please contact Amanda Hagood with The Traveling Grape to have her set up a special itinerary for your wine country trip!! Her travel planning website is

I’d like to thank Seth Goldfarb for taking time out of his busy schedule to meet with us. He made my birthday extra special and I was very surprised to be gifted a bottle of the 2006 Anomaly Cabernet Sauvignon by him for my birthday! What a special treat! I also want to thank my friend Amanda Hagood for helping me to discover this special place! Anomaly Vineyards and their wonderful hospitality will always remain near and dear to my heart!

"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.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Petroni Vineyards: A Rare Sonoma Beauty

One of the best things I can do as a writer is help bring new discoveries to my public. When a small family-owned winery is brought to my attention, I simply cannot wait to share the story! This past week I was turned on to something pretty special and I am so excited to be sharing this story with all of you!

800 feet up in the Mayacamas Mountain range on the Sonoma County side lies a 37 acre parcel of land just below the famed Monte Rosso Vineyard. It’s hidden away so the instructions on how to get there can be a little tricky. In fact, it says “Call Us If You Get Lost!”. The journey up to this winery will be worth it as the beauty and the breathtaking views will enlighten you! Now that’s what I love. A little hidden gem waiting to be discovered! Since 1992, this beauty has been the home of Petroni Vineyards. Owned by Italian-born San Francisco Restauranteur, Lorenzo Petroni (owner of the famed North Beach Restaurant) and his wife Maria Elena, this winery and Tuscan-style estate is the home of some very special, small-production ultra-premium varietal wines and certified organic olive oils. The winery produces some very diverse varietals such as Brunello and that fact makes it pretty unique. Their first wines were produced in 1998 and recently, the wines have been handcrafted by New Zealand winemaker, Martin Mackenzie (of the famed iconic and organic Stonyridge Vineyard). His passion and dedication truly shine through in the three wines I was sent to sample this past week. I feel truly fortunate and their story has touched me in a big way!

I was completely blown away by the delicious and rich 2009 Rosato Di Sonoma! I blind tasted it without looking at any notes and immediately detected the spicy, full-blown cherry character of Sangiovese! The rich ruby color was so vibrant in my glass! I couldn’t wait to have some more! This wine (50% Sangiovese, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah) was refreshing and so fruity-spicy. The perfect Rosé for Autumn! Made using the “saignee” method (where they literally bleed the vats for color and flavor) I spoke about in a previous post and aged four months in stainless steel, this is a must-try for everyone! And get this, the $12 price tag is an eye-opener, that's for sure!!

The 2008 Napa Valley Chardonnay comes from their estate vineyard at Trinity Ranch, which lies on the Sonoma/Napa county line. In a way, this is a cool-climate Chardonnay because of the high elevation of the vineyard allows for a longer ripening period for the grapes and the flavors develop nicely while retaining acidity. A pleasant, light to medium-bodied chardonnay with many citrus and rich tropical notes and just a hint of nutty vanilla on the finish. I enjoyed this wine with a light meal and it was perfect! Aged ten months in new and used French Oak. $30.

The third wine I sampled was the 2005 Poggio Alla Pietra Brunello Di Sonoma. I had never had a Brunello before. Brunello is a red varietal mostly made in Italy so to find someone making this wine in California was exciting! I didn’t know what to expect. After sampling it, I would consider this wine their flagship. Coming from their Poggio Alla Pietra estate vineyard, this wine was rich and earthy with notes of cigar box, cedar, anise and deep, dark cherry flavors all wrapped up in an intense little package! This wine is complex and could definitely be put away and aged for several years to see how it evolves. Wow! Pretty amazing and this particular vintage will be released to the general public in November. I was able to sample it early and I felt pretty lucky. It retails for $60 however the winery is taking pre-orders at a special price of $39 per bottle so you will definitely want to consider this investment! The 2005 vintage will be a classic and not to be missed!

Seriously, folks! I’m a little star-struck by this gorgeous winery and left with a huge desire to visit! I think it’s a rare find! I certainly want to thank my friend Ryan Wycoff, who is their Director of Sales and Marketing! I never would have found it if it weren’t for him. The winery has limited distribution in several states so the easiest way to access their wines is on-line or at the winery. Petroni Vineyards offers tastings by appointment only, daily from 10-4. For more information, please check out their website at They are located at 990 Cavedale Road between the towns of Sonoma and Glen Ellen. It will be an interesting journey getting there but Petroni Vineyards is a must-visit for anyone wanting an off the beaten path experience in Sonoma wine country!

"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.