RRVW Annual Paulee 2017

The RRVW Annual Paulee – An Amazing Wine Experience Not To Be Missed by John Dyrek of VinStars
The Russian River Valley Winegrowers hosted the ultimate winemaker dinner, the Annual Paulée, on September 1st, 2017 at Landmark Vineyards Hop Kiln Estate, featuring 26 Russian River Valley Wineries pouring world class Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc. (source: http://rrvw.org/events-calendar/russian-river-valley-paulee/)
La Paulée is a harvest dinner celebrating the end of the grape harvest in BurgundyFrance where it’s customary for everyone to bring a bottle of wine to share. Winemakers would compete to bring the best bottle of wine to impress their favorite clients. However, the spirit of La Paulée means much more than geography. It’s about sharing and enjoying prized wines with strangers. Large format bottles make appearances along with older vintages.
The name “La Paulée” comes from the French word for sauté pan, poile. In the early days, the post-harvest meal was so simple that it was cooked in a single poile.
In the spirit of the Paulée tradition, the Russian River Valley Paulée did manage to bring some great winemakers and collectors together to enjoy an elegant multi-course meal paired with wines from winemakers and guests’ personal cellars, including special, limited and rare vintages. And the event included an auction for some very special wines too.
When I arrived at the historic Hop Kiln Estate for the evening festivities, I immediately felt the 110 degree heat. As I looked out at the long rows of tables sitting across the lawn where guests would later enjoy the evening, I was worried that the heat might adversely impact this wonderful event. Well, as it turned out, it was not an issue.
With the celebration starting inside this historic, cavernous building, guests enjoyed a very cool climate with some amazing wines from DeLoach, Dutton, Gary Farrell, Korbel, Kosta Browne, Landmark, Ramey, Williams Selyem, and many others. And when we finally ventured back outside, it had cooled enough (low 90s) to fully enjoy the real party.
The pre-dinner event was clearly the start of a fete that had the makings of remarkable adventure. As the evening ensued, guests were served some amazing food like Olive Oil Poached Yellow Tail mixed with Grilled Late Summer Vegetables and Herb Chimichurri (by Chef Ben Davies of Russian River Vineyards). And the bite size desserts (by Chef Condra Easley of Pâtisserie Angelica) were all so good that I cannot tell you which one was my fav.
While eating, we enjoyed many quality recent vintages and library wines from the Sonoma and the Russian River Valley. I was personally honored to sample a Zinfandel and Petite Sirah blend (2013 Christopher Creek), some Pinot Noir (2012 Bucher, 2009 Landmark, 2006 Williams Selyem) and some Cabernet Sauvignon (2009 A. Rafanelli, 1987 Hanzell). These extraordinary wines were a testament to the Sonoma County artistry. In the spirit of sharing, a bottle of 1982 Travaglini Gattinara was poured too.
If you truly want to enjoy a unique wine experience that includes interesting people, wine, food, a great venue and a festive atmosphere rarely found at most wine events, then the RRVW Annual Paulee is not to be missed.

Rutherford Chili Ball

The Rutherford Dust Society (RDS) recently held the original Rutherford Chili Ball on a beautiful warm Sunday evening in August at the Pestoni Family Winery.

This festive, family-friendly event included a Chili Cook-off competition between vintners, growers, firefighters, chefs, and self-proclaimed chili connoisseurs of the Rutherford community. A live vote by attendees decided that Alpha-Omega got the ultimate glory and bragging rights for having the best chili in Rutherford! However, Honig’s chili was my personal fav as it hinted of mole and cornbread flavors.

Wines by RDS members were available throughout the afternoon. A very notable red, St Supery’s Merlot, was quickly enjoyed by many. All these great Rutherford wines were complimented by a full BBQ spread from Black Bean BBQ as well as all the chili from the (8) contestant wineries.

Most fun of all though was an opportunity to buy (for only $25 each) premium Rutherford wines which were hidden in bags. My two surprise purchases yielded a Caymus Zin and a Honig Cab. What a score!

Large format bottles of Rutherford wine and tasting experiences throughout the appellation were available to buy at the silent auction. A portion of the event’s proceeds will benefit local non-profits like the Rutherford Fire Dept who were in attendance.







#Rutherford Dust Society (RDS)
#Pestoni Family Winery
#Rutherford Ranch
#St Supery
#Rutherford Fire Dept

Crush MS

Recently attended Crush MS in Napa which focuses on raising awareness, support to orgs helping those suffering, funds, and a cure for multiple sclerosis (MS).

Each year over 400 people come together for this very worthy cause at the Reid Family Vineyards to enjoy some of the area’s best wine, great food, music and company. And a silent and live auction were held.

The one hour symposium by the Clinical Neuroimmunology team at Stanford University was the highlight though.

For those in attendance, it was clear that this event promotes a sense of community and a support system for those with MS and family members. All were seeking knowledge, hope/belief in a cure, and inspired by those afflicted.

From an educational perspective, I learned:

  • MS involves immune system turning against body
  • Origin not known
  • 400K in US / 2.5M in World suffer
  • Inhabitants of Equator not susceptible
  • Elders post 85 unlikely to get; strikes in one’s prime (when young)
  • MRI in 1980s allowed physicians to visualize MS in RT
  • New therapy evolved afterwards
  • Nature holds cure; Protein based disease
  • Project BIG (brain immune gut) is key Stanford initiative
  • Too few physicians involved with MS; poor access to care


#National Multiple Sclerosis Society



Premiere 2018 – Cliff Lede Vineyards “Bring Your Own Bottle” event

During Premiere 2018, Cliff Lede Vineyards hosted what many consider a must attend event, “Bring Your Own Bottle”.  The event is so named because each attendee brings a nice bottle to share with others. Some notable tastings included:

Poetry 2004 Stags Leap Cabernet

Beaulieu Vineyard (BV) 1973 Burgundy

Silver Oak 1972 North Coast Cabernet

Louis Martini 1965 Calif Mountain Cabernet








#StagsLeap AVA

Trefethen – 50th Anniversary Celebration

Trefethen Family Vineyards is a Napa Valley pioneer. They are one of the very few family-owned wineries to celebrate five decades of winemaking in the Napa Valley. They proudly claim that “Wines have been handcrafted from the estate and we have been farming since 1968“. Most interesting about this event was a private lecture and tasting of vintage wines by proprietor Loren Trefethen and winemaker Bryan Kays. Also, the restoration and last year’s renovation, post Napa earthquake, of the of the historic tasting & barrel room (McIntyre Building), was spectacular. The McIntyre Building remains integral to the winery’s operations. The first floor is still used to age wine and also houses the winery’s Estate Tasting Room and Wine Library. The second floor, which displays the Eshcol winery’s original de-stemmer/crusher, is a barrel-aging cellar for the winery’s Bordeaux variety red wines.