Why are you so into Pinot? World of Pinot Noir 2017 plus Sanford’s 2013

Tomorrow, Que Syrah Sue and I are driving up the coast to Santa Barbara’s world famous Bacara Resort for two days of pinot pleasure at World Of Pinot Noir (WOPN) 2017 where we’ll be attending Grand Tasting events on Friday and Saturday March 3 and 4 from 3-6:30pm with 100 or so wineries attending each day to total 200 different wineries!

Square Peg's dry farmed Pinot Noir 2/28/17 photo by Jo Diaz

Square Peg’s dry farmed Pinot Noir 2/28/17 photo by Jo Diaz

Among those wineries at the Grand Tasting on Friday that I am excited to try is Square Peg. Today I received samples of their 2014 Block 1 (190 cases) and Block 9 (170 cases) and it was all we could do to NOT to open them immediately and compare! Thanks to an introduction by Jo Diaz, we’re set to talk with Brad Alper who is dry farming his Pinot Noir in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley.


WOPN brings Pinot Noir producers from the most exceptional and unique regions in the world together with Pinot Noir enthusiasts for a weekend of celebration and education on the shores of California’s spectacular Central Coast.

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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

Ventura Restaurant Week 2017: Our Visit to Paradise Pantry and Cork


January is Restaurant month in California promoting “culinary travel”. As Jan 20-29 is Restaurant Week for the cities of Ventura and Oxnard in Ventura County, California, on Tuesday Jan. 24, Que Syrah Sue and I decided to hit up two of them: tried and true Paradise Pantry in downtown Ventura by the San Buenaventura Mission and the brand new Cork located on Main and Santa Cruz in midtown Ventura, both offering $20 dine and wine deals. Find other Restaurant Weeks in California here.

Paradise Pantry

We arrived at Paradise Pantry before 5pm on a Tuesday, but they had a decent crowd already there because Paradise Pantry’s small bites, wines by the glass, and wine flights lends itself to every thing from a very late lunch to happy hour to an early dinner to a light dinner to a snack and a chat with a friend.

The small, narrow venue is warm and inviting with a small bar in the back, a seating area by the window with informal, comfy seating, and two tables by the other windows so you can see out to Main Street and the Mission. Small tables can be combined to accommodate larger groups. Bright artwork decorates the original brick walls. Through a wide doorway, you can access the retail shop with two large cold cases for cheese and pate, plus tightly packed rows of bottles with an emphasis on local but also including carefully curated representatives from around the world.


For Restaurant Week’s $20 deal, Paradise Pantry is offering Continue reading