Sunday, September 30, 2007

Henley my faithful assistant...

He's being very patient while I type up the 2007 Harvest Report this afternoon on the couch instead of going for a big walk to Town Lake.

Stay tuned...still getting updates from a few wineries on the west coast! Cheers - ALI

Thursday, September 27, 2007


I'm working on a full harvest report from all the TexaCali winemakers in California and Oregon this weekend...stay tuned for an exciting and in-depth update.

For now, check
out these SWEET pictures sent from the Pellegrini's this week from Sonoma.

The hot air balloon is drifting over the Pellegrini winery and their Eight Cousins Zinfandel Vineyard - smack dab in the heart of the Russian River region.

The whole cluster of grapes is the Zinfandel from the Eight Cousins Vineyard at Pellegrini.
Oh - please note the handsome harvest intern hard a work punching down - GO CLYDE GO! Cheers - ALI

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Lange Estate is visiting Texas! We are visiting accounts in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio this week - I mean bigtime busy with these gorgeous wines to show off from Oregon! What a pleasure - tasting notes posted later this week. Below is "Lange Staff Development"... Winemaker Jesse Lange takes the Tasting Room staff on a vineyard tour just prior to harvest 2007. 09/21/07 Cheers - ALI

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Action Shots of the Day in Austin!

Central Market wine stud Matt and Winemaker Luis!

Luis hard at work at Central Market

Luca, Tikal and LaPosta wines were a big hit!

Luis at the Oasis for a cool Austin sunset and dinner.

Too cute to keep to myself - Mike (my guy) and Luis at the Oasis with TexaCali Ali! A great ending to a great weekend of GREAT WINE!

Cheers - ALI

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Last day of summer

Oh and I'm ready, hate the humidity that comes with our great Texas sunshine. The first week of fall is HUGE for TexaCali. I have Luis Reginato in Austin with me for a few days - he's the world-renown winemaker for Luca, Tikal and La Posta wines from Argentina.

Tonight -we celebrate his accomplishments with a good-ol Texas sized BBQ, complete with finger lickin' good ribs and college football blaring in the background.

If you live in Austin - please come out to see Luis and try his wines, today from 2-4ish at Central Market North Lamar and tomorrow from 2-5 at the Central Market Westgate location. You can find Luis smack-dab in the middle of the wine department.

So later this week - Tuesday-Thursday, the National Sales Manager from Oregon's Lange Estate will be with me educating the masses about the wonderful wines made by the Lange family up in Dundee. I'm real excited - this is a first time visit with TexaCali - a full week of appointments are lined up and confirmed!

I-35 once again...Cheers - ALI

Thursday, September 20, 2007

oh, and there is more!

In the October issue of Wine Enthusiast...
  • 90 Olivet Lane Chardonnay
  • 89 Pellegrini Zinfandel
  • 88 Pellegrini Cuvee 107
More important than the scores was the text of the write-ups. Pellegrini Family Blend - Cuvee 107 was described as the "anti Napa wine".

Load up, these beautiful Pellegrini wines are in stock now in Texas! - ALI

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Cabernet Lovers Chardonnay

The Pellegrini Family of Sonoma has done it again...Olivet Lane Chardonnay - OH YEAH! Cheers - ALI

Sunday, September 16, 2007

New Release!

For those of you in Dallas, you'll get a quick preview on Tuesday of the 2005 Mendel Malbecs from Santiago who manages their vineyards...stay tuned for a set of tasting notes on Wednesday. Cheers - ALI

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Favorite ACL show on Friday

I turned off my computer around 5pm and walked down to the ACL Festival with friends - the scorching sun in our face until 7:30 with 100% humidity on the grounds of ACL. UGH. My hair was bigger than Texas.

But whatever - I discovered an incredible group "Gotan Project" from Argentina and Paris! This was the show of the night as far as I'm concerned, MIA was really cool, but these folks brought the best of old and new school together with POWER and Elegance! Everyone was doing "The Tango" - soo fun! Those of you attending my "Luca and Tikal BBQ" next Saturday will have a nice long chance of hearing the Gotan Project - it is now the theme music of the night! Cheers - ALI

Watch the video here

My favorite rocks - I'm serious!

So I've been talking about the Russian River rock and soil all week. This was taken on the banks of the Russian River last February, and is exactly what I'm talking about in regards to the LIOCO Stuhlmuller Alexander Valley Chardonnay - this picture is exactly the source of minerality that you taste. VERY COOL.

Hey - have you clicked around the TexaCali website lately? I'm adding content each and every day!

Cheers - ALI

Friday, September 14, 2007

On stands now!!!

Pick up the October issue of Food & Wine magazine to see TexaCali's two brand-new producers featured! Texas has inventory instock now!

Best New Sommelier-Made Wines
It seems like every sommelier is producing his or her own wine. Here are some of our favorite bottles.... 2006 Lioco Chardonnay ($20) The trio behind this refreshing Chardonnay represents several facets of the industry: Kevin O'Connor is wine director at Spago Beverly Hills, Kevin Kelley is a winemaker and Matt Licklider was an importer.

Napa and Sonoma's Best Winery Tours
Reservation-only tours at wineries in Napa and Sonoma offer ample rewards for type-A travelers who make an appointment ahead of time: unique experiences like visits to historic caves, sit-down lunches and up-close-and-personal visits with winemakers...

Medlock Ames

Medlock Ames is so young that it has produced just six vintages, yet its Merlots, Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons show fine depth of flavor and balance. Owners Ames Morison (who's also the winemaker) and Christopher Medlock James give tours of the eco-friendly 350-acre ranch and its 50-acre organic winery by appointment only, via electric car and on foot. Stops include the gravity-fed winery, organic vegetable garden and viewing points for wildlife corridors, where deer, coyotes and mountain lions can move freely across the property.

Must-Buy Bottles

The 2003 Medlock Ames Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($50), with its chocolate-covered cherry lusciousness, and the ripe, plummy 2002 Medlock Ames Alexander Valley Merlot ($35).

DetailsFree. 13414 Chalk Hill Rd., Healdsburg; 707-431-8845 or

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Best, The Best, The Best of You...

I'm watching the VMA's tonight. The Foo Fighters rock so hard. Love them - going to be my inspiration for the next few weeks - "The Best of Me" is in full swing with LIOCO in town to show-off their killer wines from California, 2005 Burgundies arriving, planning for market visits from Mendel, Luca, Tikal, La Posta, Lange wine producers.

Oh and then there are a few MAJOR events coming in October - Etienne Montille is leading Ch. Puligny Montrachet and De Montille dinners in Houston, Dallas and Austin. Susana Balbo is flying through Dallas for a couple of days - which a standing
room only wine dinner is also in the works...did I mention that I'm moving into the house next door to me sometime in the middle of all this?

Oh - and there's this whole thing called "2007 Harvest" happening this month in full swing - you'll get a full report in a few weeks from me and everyone I help out.

Check out the Lange Estate Pinot Noir grapes going through
veraison way COOL. And away we go...Cheers - ALI

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Lewelling Vineyards

In the San Fransisco Chronicle yesterday. The picture on the right is of Doug Wight showing us how he prunes the Lewelling Vineyards- then there's me taking a crack at it in January 2006.

St. Hele

David Wight catches himself. "You won't tell people how to get here, will you?"

The location of Lewelling Vineyards, owned by David and brother Doug , along with their brother Alan, isn't exactly a Screaming Eagle-level secret. But it's not for visitors, either. Tucked out past a St. Helena Ford dealership west of Highway 29, its informal tasting room and office is the 1920s bungalow where David and Doug's mother, Janice, grew up.

Napans love to brag about their ties to the land, but good luck finding a family with better bragging rights than the Wights. Their 30-acre plot, part of nearly 300 acres just south of St. Helena owned by the extended family, has been in their control since the end of the Civil War, first planted (partly in fruit trees) when St. Helena was just a tiny farm town. John Lewelling, the brothers' great-great-grandfather, was a Welsh Quaker who moved from North Carolina to California in the 1850s, and settled this plot in 1864.

"I think we may be the oldest family farming the same ground," David says.

The brothers went to St. Helena High with Tim Mondavi, and in 1992, they decided to take some of the grapes they were selling and make 500 cases of wine. David went to Davis to learn winemaking, while Doug handles the fields. (He also runs a vineyard-management business.) Now there are 1,200 cases a year, still a tiny fraction of what they grow. Most is sold to wineries like Beaulieu Vineyard and Caymus, but only their longtime friends, the Trincheros, can mention the Lewelling vineyard on the label. The brothers don't want their name associated with fruit they can't control.

The family may have long Napa ties, but the wine is amply modern - heady, opulent, high-octane stuff. Fame is creeping up in the form of Robert Parker, who gave their 2004 Wight Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon a mind blowing 96+ points. No surprise, then, that calls are starting to filter in from Wall Street big shots, demanding bottles. They sell their Cabernet in pairs - one regular bottle and one reserve for $98, a regular bargain in these parts. Not bad for guys trying to avoid becoming the next big thing.

"With some bottles at $150, $200, a lot of people have been priced out of trying them." says David Wight. "That seems to be a shame to me."

With 80 acres of prime bench vineyard on coveted alluvial soils, the Wights couldn't help but succeed - as the BMW in the driveway attests. But it's newfound success. Doug and David are the first generation to make a living off the family land without keeping an outside job. "Our grandparents and great-grandparents would roll over in their graves if they knew what we were getting an acre around here," Doug says.

With some 200 acres of open land, and agricultural restrictions barring them from building new houses, the brothers instead enjoy having their own chunk of Napa wildland. They hunt in the wooded hills, and fondly recall when the St. Helena Star would put photos of hunting season's first deer on the front page. It's a long way from their well-heeled neighbors' views of Napa Valley.

"We shoot skeet once in a while," Doug says, "so they get used to the idea of a gun going off."

Friday, September 07, 2007

An energy efficient winery...

This just in from Medlock Ames today... "As we scramble to finish pressing the first grapes of 2007 (Sauvignon blanc) there’s just enough time to say hello and give you a little update on life at Medlock Ames. The latest diary entry is all about being an energy efficient winery. There’s been a lot of interest in our winery recently – like this great article - with a particular focus on the beautiful yet common sense design aspects of the building itself. It is great to hear that more people are interested in smarter approaches to building and using resources."

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Cheese Please!

So, you all know of my dear friend Doralice (former SF roommie) who owns The Cheese Shop in Healdsburg. This CHEESE AND WINE SEGMENT on the Bay Area's ABC Station is pretty darn cool.

Funny, when I played the video my dog's (and also Doralice's old roommie) big old ears perked up and he ran to the door after hearing Doralice's he's walking circles around the couch looking for her...or is he really just after her incredible cheese?! YUM! Ali

Wine Spectator Online this Week

2005 Mendel UNUS - 90 points! Available in Texas in just a few weeks!

BODEGA MENDEL Unus Mendoza 2005: 90 pts, $50

Polished and forward, with dark blueberry and blackberry fruit flavors spread over ripe, round tannins and followed by a long finish tinged with chocolate and loam. Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. Drink now through 2008. —J.M.

Last year - in fact it was Texas OU weekend, Mendel's Vineyard Manager visited Houston with me to introduce Mendel for the first time in Texas. What a pleasure - both tasting the beautiful wine and showing Santiago what a true "game day" is like in Texas!

Also, Roberto de le Mota, the head winemaker was here visiting this summer, I learned so much from him, a passionate winemaker and true gentleman. When I think of Mendoza - Roberto always comes to mind first - he is first class and of course making first class wine for Mendel!

Mendel Winery embodies the union of Roberto de la Mota - one of Argentina's most respected and experienced winemakers - with a nearly century-old Argentine family, whose sole objective is to produce wine of unquestionable, superior quality that express the character of their very old Malbec and Cabernet vineyards in Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina.

Mendel is the first name of the owner's father, a man who came to Argentina with nothing and ended up a successful businessman in different industries. He was also a man that loved the finest things that life had to offer, particularly wine. His daughter, Anabelle, honors her father by seeking perfection in her and Roberto's wines with his name on the label.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Vintage TexaCali Ali

Thursday, September 01, 2005

90 Days...

Well TexaCali Wine Co. has wrapped up the first 90 days of official business. And business ROCKS! I can honestly say that none of the wines and sake I represent are "stinkers". I'm so proud to show them each day - whether it's a customer shopping at Central Market that loves Malbec or a buyer in a rural town that has never tasted Torrontes to seeing a set of eyes light-up over their first sip of premium sake.

Emotionally, I know I've made a great decision starting this venture - my heart and brain are soo connected when it comes to the promotion of great wine in the state of Texas. Thanks to all of you that have supported my dream "start-up" within this the low-tech, old-school wine industry. Good people hang together.

Cheers to the many great wines of TexaCali Wine Co.! - Ali

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Labor Day

Good ol' Labor Day weekend. A chance to chill out a bit and take a day off. Back in the day of working in a cubicle I lived for these "day-off" holidays. Past Labor Days I've hiked the redwoods of the Northern California coast, sailed the San Francisco Bay, floated the Truckee River in Tahoe - but really any chance to sleep in, play a round of golf, jump into a pool then BBQ outside while sipping something nice and cold is alright with me!
Now, I'm just flat thankful that I love my job. I wish I could sleep in, any crack of sun through my bedroom window in the morning is my signal to get up and start making things happen. It's truly a feeling of "career bliss", knowing that I'm doing exactly what I love to do everyday is soo nice. It certainly doesn't come without daily challenges and extremely hard work - but I'll take it.

I wish you all a very happy holiday - you better be sippin' the wines of TexaCali Wine Co. - may I suggest a little Crios Malbec with your BBQ or Olivet Lane Chardonnay with some crispy fried-chicken...Cheers - Ali