Meet Kristin Bryden, Winemaker at Zaca Mesa Winery and Vineyards

In this Women’s History Month feature, meet Kristin Bryden, Winemaker at Zaca Mesa Winery and Vineyards in Santa Barbara County. We interviewed Kristin at the Spring Rhone Rangers tasting in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone earlier this month.  Continue reading

Along the Camino with Spanish Rioja plus Pairings

Wine from Rioja with a selection of Spanish cheese and meat makes for a hearty happy hour or light dinner.

In April, the Wine Pairing Weekend crew are traveling along the Camino de Santiago in Navarra, Spain.  As we are hosting, a few weeks ago for the invitation post we wrote about two Navarra Garnacha, but the region has been on my mind once I started seriously considering walking the Camino.

So today I feature three wines from Rioja, another region along the Camino. Continue reading

Women’s History Month with Chris Brown, co-owner of Cantara Cellars

Cantara Cellars co-owner Chris Brown with son and assistant winemaker Jesse Johnson; March 2017 photo by Gwendolyn Alley

A winery that we frequently feature is located just south down Highway 101 from me in Camarillo, CA: Cantara Cellars which uses fruit almost exclusively from Lodi, CA.

So following my post about Susan Tipton of Lodi’s Acquiesce where we also compared and contrasted Lodi with the Rhone Valley in France, it seemed high time that we wrote about Chris Brown, co-owner of Cantara Cellars and a Ventura County winery leader.

In contrast to Acquiesce’s focus on white Rhone wines, Cantara makes all reds save a Chardonnay made from family grown fruit. In addition to Rhone favorites like Syrah, Mourvedre, and Grenache, they make Malbec, Petite Sirah, Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo, and more, plus a number of blends, and of course, that Lodi darling, Zinfandel, including one from old vines.

In addition to the Left Bank Cuvee and Project X, Drummer Diane bought a nifty new wine opener and napkins in the gift shop of Cantara Cellars.

Last weekend my friend Drummer Diane and I visited Cantara Cellars to taste through the list and chat with Chris in the busy tasting room. Continue reading

Women’s History Month: Winemaker Susan Tipton of Acquiesce in Lodi, CA

June 2017 photo at Acquiesce, Lodi by Gwendolyn Alley

When you think of wines from the Lodi area, what comes to mind for most people is ZINFANDEL — and plenty of it!

But in the past few years, particularly thanks to tasting wines from Cantara Cellars as well as participating in twitter tastings and from attending the 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi plus a press trip to Lodi last June, I’ve come to appreciate and advocate the range of wines coming from this region of California.

Today I want to introduce you to a winery in Lodi that specializes in white wines from the Rhone Valley: Acquiesce. Continue reading

Duck à l’orange with M. Chapoutier’s Biodynamic, Organic Wines

When I heard that the French Winophiles were getting samples “to roam the range of Rhone,” I asked Sue if she was up for making Canard à l’Orange aka Duck à l’orange. We had made it one summer for a twitter tasting, and wow, was it spectacular, and it paired so well with the under $20 Rhone wonders on the table, I could only imagine how well it would go with an M. Chapoutier 2015 – Chateauneuf-du-Pape “La Bernardine” Rouge blend of 90% Grenache and 10% Syrah. Continue reading

#OTBN: Ranchita Canyon Vertical Paired with Lasagna for #WinePW

Sue is big on bidding at silent wine auctions and other charity raffles. And often she wins!

Last year at the Ojai Wine Festival, Sue saw this library vertical from Ranchita Canyon and won these lovely three red wine blends. When we were brainstorming what we should do for Open That Bottle Night which rolls around on the final Saturday of February, she volunteered to share these — and to make a lasagna to pair with them! Continue reading