Family Business: Ordaz Pinot Noir

In this clip from the film Sideways based on the book by Rex Pickett, a character eloquently describes her passion for wine, and how the vine and then the wine captures and expresses time and place and love and life.

When you listen to Eppie Ordaz of Ordaz Family Wines talk about growing wine grapes and making wine, or when you learn about his family’s story, and his father’s devotion to growing wine grapes, you know that they know exactly what she’s talking about.


The Ordaz family is justly famous for their vine tending and their vineyard management company, Palo Alto, which has 50 employees and manages 400 acres. In fact, some wines are designated not by the name of the vineyard but by the name of Ordaz patriarch Chuy Ordaz!

Hailing from Palo Alto, Michoacán, Mexico, Chuy Ordaz crossed the border 33 times. Fortunately for wine lovers, on his 33rd crossing he was successful and made it north to Sonoma county where he fell in love with and married Beverly Young; they have six children, and one of them, Eppie Ordaz, is the winemaker for their Ordaz Family wines label and another, Chuy, Jr. is also involved in the operation.

Among his many accomplishments, the senior Ordaz led vineyard workers on a strike that established him as a respected leader. He also led the way to remove dangerous chemicals in the vineyards and to promote organic management that is better for vines and so much better for those who tend the vines.

Chuy Ordaz “was a pioneer in organic farming in Sonoma because he wanted to protect the workers,” said Eppie Ordaz recently during a #WineStudio twitter chat.  “He didn’t want to expose himself or his crew to unsafe vineyard chemicals.”

In these very troubled and fearful times, it is important that we recognize and honor the accomplishments of wine industry leaders like Chuy Ordaz and remember that wine is make first and foremost in the vineyards.  Our leaders come to us from many places and in many ways. We are stronger in the United States when we unite and invite others to join us and reap the benefits of our capitalist democracy.

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Grilled Cheese Game Night with Fun Wines: Black Light White, Q & A Red


Mammoth Mountain’s record breaking snow January 2017

In California, we have had a long wet dark winter with epic rain and snow.


record breaking rain in Santa Cruz mountains


You’ve probably read about it in the news if you haven’t experienced it yourself.

And while it’s almost March, it’s not over.  Winter is not over.

I know, I know, technically, winter kicks the bucket in three weeks on the equinox Monday March 20 at 3:30am PST and the days will once again be longer than the nights. But there will be more rain and more snow. You can bet on it.


And while you might be distracted by the Super Bowl, the Grammy’s, the Oscars, and maybe Mardi Gras if you’re lucky (and I happen to be lucky enough to have an awesome Mardi Gras party in Ojai next week to look forward to…)


What to do? How to fend off the darkness, the boredom, the tedium of more snow and rain? How to survive the final three weeks of winter and that first cold month of spring?


Not a trivial wine for trivia night!

Our answer? Host a game night for friends and family with grilled cheese and fun wine!

For our wines, we chose two: Black Light 2015 white wine blend that comes with a flashlight and Q and A, a red Bordeaux blend. like Black Light and Q and A both from Rubin Family wines! Keep reading for a review of Black Light White and Q & Red along with how to make some fabulous grilled cheese sandwiches!

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Five Malbec Wines from Five Regions on Three Continents: Antigal, Cantara, Mercer, Theron, Troon


Malbec is an up and coming varietal that until recently was better known for its importance as a blending grape in classic Bordeaux wines (along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot).

While Malbec has long been in the shadow of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, not much longer! As Malbec gets discovered, thanks in part to an influx of well made fruity and food friendly Malbec from South America, particularly in Argentina where it grows spectacularly well, we will be finding more Malbec! Today you can find Malbec being grown around the world with more people choosing to bottle it on its own in addition to blends as we consumers find and fall in love with this deeply purple, blue fruited, food friendly wine.

Recently, Que Syrah Sue and I sampled Malbec from five regions in the world (and three continents!). As we tasted, we contemplated Malbec and considered a number of questions including: Does price or continent matter? What about whether a winery is large or small? The five Malbec wines we tasted were:

  • 2011 Domaine Du Theron:  Cahors, France $18
  • 2013 UNO Antigal Winery and Estates:  Mendoza, Argentina $18
  • 2014 Mercer Canyon: Washington, US $14
  • 2012 Cantara: Clements Hills, Lodi, California, US  $38
  • 2014 Troon Vineyard: – M T Reserve, Oregon, US $55

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Valentine’s Day: Share a Special Red, Comfort Foods with Your Sweetheart


consider having a romantic picnic inside– and eat on the floor!

While they may say “love the wine you’re with…” (oh, I mean “love the ONE you’re with”) I disagree. For Valentine’s Day or other important occasions, you want a wine and a partner you truly love.

And while sometimes you want to impress your sweetheart, sometimes you just want something that is special, but warm and comforting too.

This Valentine’s Day, consider sharing a special red wine paired with comfort foods AND your sweetheart.

And do I have two red wine recommendations for you! And a menu too!

Because in the winter, comfort food has that carmelized rich flavor that we crave…

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Silver and Gold: Six Nebbiolo from the New World and the Old


For most people, Barolo is synonymous with Nebbiolo, and Nebbiolo with Barolo.

But Nebbiolo is made beyond Barolo and Barbaresco too, and the Italian Food Wine and Travel group this month decided to learn more, and to expand the borders of Nebbiolo– at least in our imaginations and the imaginations of our readers! While those two areas of Italy may set the “gold” standard, this month Sue and I investigated three Nebbiolo from Italy and three Nebbiolo from the United States, including two from Silver and one from Naked Winery– hence our title’s reference of “Silver” and “Gold.” We paired four of the wines with rack of lamb and mushroom lasagna recently and the other two we tasted previously.

First, here are a few fun facts about Nebbiolo: Continue reading