Friday, December 30, 2011

Thank you 2011, Living the Dream!

What a FANTASTIC 12 months of living!  2011 memories are firmly placed in the TexaCali Ali record books.  A big shout out to everyone who touched my life this year - so many old and new friends, my circle grows larger yet more concentrated with good people and wildly wonderful offerings each and every day.   Thank you.

A few of my favorite posts and biggest memories of 2011 along the TexaCali Wine Trail:

August presented: 

Thank you for reading the TexaCali Wine Trail, hard to believe that this blog is soon going on 7 years strong, I love my loyal following.  BOOM - incredibly grateful for all the blessings 2011 brought and welcome the New Year with a big smile and warm heart.  Excited for a full blown blast in 2012...

Happy New Year to All!  - TexaCali Ali 

PS - my #1 song of 2011, heard these guys live in Oakland kicking off the Railroad Revival Tour!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Cheers to a Happy & Safe Holiday Season Everyone!  


Merry Christmas,  TexaCali Ali

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

12 California wineries you've most likely never tasted before.

I've spent the majority of 2011 out in Sonoma County with multiple outings in other California wine regions and industry events (oh and that EPIC trip to France last Spring too!).   So much wine, so little time has never been so true to life.  We all know (those who follow this blog) how big the world of wine is and can seem, but it's often bigger for small producers who are fighting their life away to make good wine for the people!  

So in the spirit of The 12 Days of Christmas, here's one for the "little guys", buy direct from their websites, send a private message to them via their Twitter accounts, post how much you want to drink their wines on Facebook. Word of Mouth after you sip can literally move mounds of wines for these small-batch (but growing) producers:

1. Hamel Wines  
Syrah & Pinot Noirs. Dear Kevin Hamel is a long-time winemaker known for his elegantly crafted Dry Creek and Russian River wines. He has a library of Syrah and Pinot's from 2001, truly works of art in each bottle.  Quickest way to reach Kevin is via Twitter @hamelwines to order direct from the winemaker (and wine shipper) himself!  

I was romanced by these wines while following the adventures of my friend Hardy over on The Dirty South Wine Blog all summer long.   Shake Ridge Vineyards of Amador County is truly a day dream for me at this point, but am very motivated to head over & see the beauty created by Ann Kraemer in the near future.  I personally haven't tried all of the Yorba offerings, but thus far their 2008 Barbera has won me over and of course Hardy's review of the 2007 Yorba Syrah "....DANG!  Focus, minerality, acid, and a slow motion karate chop of truth. "  is a sure bet when buying Yorba Wines.

You may have been fortunate enough to taste their Floodgate Vineyard Gewurztraminer while dining at San Francisco's legendary La Folie. I met the winemaking duo a few summers ago while visiting Healdsburg and have been a big fan of theirs ever since.  An amazing amount of endless hours in the vineyards, cellars and marketing gigs. They've also opened a downtown Healdsburg tasting room "The Garagiste" for you to visit anytime and relax with a glass of Cartograph wine (they also share his space with the very lovable Stark Wines) and enjoy the 24/7 labor of love!

4. Denier-Handal Vineyards
So here's one for all you BIG RED wine drinking fanatics...the Handal family has been near and dear to me for many years and so have their Dry Creek and Alexander Valley Wines. Dick Handal owns the vineyards and with the super-power team of Ulysses Valdez and Peter Wellington, his rich and complex Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and "Car Port" wines are a knockout.  The best way to buy these are straight from The Cheese Shop in Healdsburg that is owned by Dick's daughter Doralice.

Yes, I've written about lovely Angela Osborne's A Tribute to Grace Grenache a few times on the blog already, but each vintage she creates continues to impress.  The wine is as beautiful as her mantra "I chose to name my label after two of my favorite things: my Grandmother Grace, and my most beloved attribute. My winemaking intention is to capture this spirit, and stay as close to nature as humanly possible. The trio is completed by the grape itself, which to me encapsulates grace." The 2009 is the current offering - order direct from Angela on the website.

I've most likely spent more time overlooking the vines, tasting in their cave and walking the vineyards of this piece of heaven tucked off of Dry Creek Road more than any other vineyard all year long. Thankfully!  The estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Tuscan style "Girasole" can be found on the smallest and best wine lists in the Bay Area.  Jason Enos has a real vision for the winery and is well on his way to creating the most intriguing portfolio of wines on the West Coast.  Best to email the website direct for their small production releases. * I consult with these guys but they have no idea I was writing this piece.

Owner and winemaker Kevin Kelley is the man who put LIOCO and The NPA Wines on the wine-map along with his teeny-tiny less than 300 case a year Salinia production.  I struggle each weekend to just leave my Salinia bottles alone in the cellar, they love to age and boy it's a FANTASTIC occasion everytime I pull a cork.  His cool climate syrah is my favorite to date, but can't say anything but greatness is in each bottle of his Pinot Noir and Chardonnay's as well.  Contact the winery direct or stop by next time you are crusing through Santa Rosa, it's a quick stop off of HWY 101.

Owners Andy and Shannon Pestoni over in Napa are making some outstanding Lake County wines for all of us to enjoy.  Nope, the wines DO NOT taste like jelly or jam on toast, they pay homage to Italian immigrants who used classic jelly jars as their wine glasses back in the day.  I've flipped out over their 2010 Rose of Zinfandel and their 2009 Lake County Zin as well.  They've got Barbera on the release calendar later next spring. No hesitation here that this tiny winery will continue to grow in popularity, classic wines for classy folks I'd say.   I'm certainly keeping my eye on them, good people. Order direct from their website please.  

Also mentioned them in previous posts this year. I first met owners Jon and Barbara while walking their dogs on the famous Olivet Lane Vineyard in the Russian River Region.  John's love for making wines that are enjoyable to all absolutely show in each bottle. A gentle hand in the cellar, John also makes his rounds to visit his beloved markets outside of NorCal and drives their online resources and tasting room as well.  Their Russian River Chardonnay steals the show for me - order anytime by clicking on their website or stopping by the winery (Bonus: they are located next to Salinia & The NPA too!). 

Vine Star Red, Dry Stack Grenache, Vine Star White, Carbonic Carignane are NO BRAINERS & confess that I just can't keep them in stock at my house very long. Buy as much as you can (or can't afford) of Broc wines.  There's something magical about these and Chris Brockway is the man behind it all.  From Grape to Glass, he works it from North Mendocino to hours South of the San Francisco Bay then crushes, blends and SHAZZAMS away at his "Urban"winery in the East Bay. Purchase directly from the Broc website, easy peasy.

11. Nico Wines
When winemaker Kevin Rogers isn't running around telling Olive Trees what to do for his Merchants and Millers Olive Oil Co. thankfully he's making some smoking Italian Varietals from Cali vineyards.  I was shocked when at first sip of his Dolcetto and you'll be happy to track down bottles of Nico too.  He's hard to reach but worth the effort - send him a message on the Nico Wines facebook page to purchase, pretty sure The Cheese Shop in Healdsburg also carries the wine you can order as well.  Kevin's YouTube Tasting, he's on fire! : )

Big Fan of this Winery - going on a decade now at least.  Russian River Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and a smidgen of Zinfandel produced.  It's all in the family at Porter-Bass winery, vineyards & farm I should say.  I get lost in organic dreams each time I visit.  Sign up for their mailing list to learn about their gorgeous wine-dinners in the vineyards and buy direct...such special wines and special folks making them.  No gimmicks, all good wines for those who support the small guys. 

Happy Holidays and Cheers to Supporting Small Wine Producers! - TexaCali Ali

Thursday, December 08, 2011


photo of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco taken a few minutes ago...more hot coffee please! 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cab Franc for Life!

Whew, I tried over a dozen or so bottles of wine during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Most went very well with turkey dinner and all the fixings.  Some standouts from California - 2010 Jelly Jar Rose, 2007 Keller Estate Chardonnay (magnum) and the 2005 Davis Family Vineyards RRV Pinot Noir that I've been saving for a few years. 

On Saturday night, a healthier meal of grilled pork tenderloin and quinoa salad was cooked and paired magically with a 1986 Pierre et Catherine Breton "Perrieres" Bourgueil Cabernet Franc from Loire.  I loved it! Outstanding bright fruit, popping acidity and a touch of spice.  Very fresh tasting - which I didn't expect.

You can find this at K&L Wine Merchants, less than a case available today, don't even question the price - a nice holiday provision for yourself or would be a great stucking stuffer for your special wine collecting (drinking) friends and family members. 

From the K&L website: 

Catherine and Pierre Breton are the real life bon vivants vignerons of lore. They are passionate about what they do, they enjoy sharing it with others, and they entertain with a generosity and charm. That they make great wine with such integrity makes our appreciation of them complete. The Bretons farm eleven hectares of vines just east of Bourgueil in the village of Restigné. Bourgueil are destined for long life in your cellar. A 1964 made for unforgettable drinking in 2008! Each of the Breton cuvées is unique, with differences in soil, vinification, and élévage all playing a role while still demonstrating a familial resemblance. Catherine and Pierre are fighting the good fight in a competitive market, adding work to their busy days all in the name of authenticity. Their Perrieres is from 40 year old vines, and this 1986 is still drinking beautifully.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Perfect Thanksgiving Wine for Texas Turkey!

2010 Tramonto Rose of Pinot Noir
one of my very favorite California rosés of all time! Can't wait to sip this alongside our Greenberg Smoked Turkey on Thanksgiving.

The Pinot Noir  grapes for this wine are sourced from three of the most sought-after vineyards along Westside Road, in the northern Russian River Valley. The vines are mainly Dijon clones 115,667,777 with small amounts of Eden and Swan Clones. 
Color is light peach, a true vin gris. Aromas of watermelon rind, wild strawberries and jasmine. Flavors of peach, cucumber, citrus and a mineral, wet slate finish. Found both on tap and bottle.  

Whole Foods Texas carries this bottle, but you can ask for it at your favorite shop anywhere in the Lone Star State. $12-14 a bottle. (Distributed by Favorite Brands-formerly Avante Beverages)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Alexander Valley Vines

November is my absolute favorite time of year in Sonoma County, one of my favorite shots taken over the years was near Chalk Hill Road. More soon...Cheers - Ali

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

New Arrival of an Old Friend

Received the "New Arrivals" email from K&L Wine Merchants this morning. If I had the budget, I'd go in for a bottle or two.  By far my favorite First Growth producer while visiting Bordeaux last spring.  Ahhh, what a thrilling time!   Here's the blurb about their Chateau Margaux "new arrival".  On my wish list for sure...

1995 Margaux, Margaux - 9 available ($575.00) 

100 points and a Cellar Selection designation from the Wine Spectator: "Dark color. Black licorice, coffee, currants and black olives. Complex nose. A full-bodied, chewy blockbuster of a wine that is not giving anything at all away. It is like buried treasure still; you have to search for the gold. And it's there. Fabulous. Please give this time." (2007) 95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Medium garnet colour going brick at the rim. The nose is beginning to showing signs of evolution with aromas of leather, game, warm cassis, dried plums and cloves. Medium to high acidity, medium body and medium to firm, fine tannins support earthy, blackcurrant-preserve fruit. Long finish. Drink now - 2030+. 

Tasted February 2009." (05/09) 94(+?) points Stephen Tanzer: "Excellent deep ruby color. Very complex aromas of blackcurrant, wild plum, violets, minerals, tar and smoky oak. Dense and supple, with great sweetness of fruit. Doesn't have quite the sheer power of the '96, but the flavors build and build. Substantial tannins are chewier than those of the '96 but hit the palate later. 1986 was the vintage with the highest level of polyphenols ever recorded at this estate, but '95 was the runner-up, according to Pontallier. Because this big, tannic wine needed longer barrel aging, it was bottled later than normal, in November of '97." (05/98)

Read more about this beautiful producer on their website:

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Zin is IN!

Just in from our friends at Porter-Bass in the heart of the Russian River Region. 

Friday we picked the last of the Zinfandel.  Two weeks ago it was looking like 2011 would be the third year in a row that we would not be able to make any Zinfandel.  Rain had already taken a toll on the already small chardonnay crop.  Fortunately we have had enough warm weather to allow the Zinfandel to ripen which thrills me and the chardonnay that is fermenting is filling the cellar and the house with the most delightful aroma.  It is these moments that make me realize that everything works out in the end.  Read the full article and more happenings at Porter-Bass here:

Oh and a few cases left - easy to purchase & ship directly from the winery. 

2007 Dot's Garden Estate Zin - 48 cases available

2009 Estate Chardonnay - 181 cases available

2009 Estate Pinot Noir - 51 cases available

Love these wines! Cheers - Ali

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Grape to table - the end-goal of all wineries.

What is this "woot" thing you are doing?

#1 question I get from the national wine trade folks these days...yes, I still have my hands in Texas wine sales for very special projects (more on this later).  But if you are a winery you've got to mix up your distribution channels - control it from the mothership.  Wine.Woot! has been leading the online-deal a day wine space for years now, they created an entire new category for wine sales & marketing.  A few points:
1) Your wine club members are changing, the Gen X'ers and younger fans are about as non-committal as it gets.  We want whatever whenever, on our own terms. So what if you offer parties at the winery and special "wine club only" wines - we have more choices than ever to travel and party - and certainly find & purchase special wines from all over the world. Please make your websites better - give us a quick and simple way to buy your wines - 24/7.  Yes, there are wineries who are doing this right, but the majority out there haven't updated their websites in years. Get on it.

2) National sales reach - true "grape to table" - both of the websites listed below allow your wines to been seen and purchased from all over the USA - no plane ticket required.  This is a no brainer.  I hear this over and over "biggest day of traffic our winery ever receives is when we are featured on Wine.Woot! & Rue La La".  Wine.Woot! especially - it IS your virtual tasting room for a day.  Own the follow-up after your wine is featured too - this is the best part really. You've now got your hands on a few hundred folks that have given you moolah for your wines, show them your love.

3) Stop being a such a silly worrywart.  A discounted online offering for 24-48 hours does not hurt your brand, I know your wines are your babies - but please get over yourself.  You know how many times I dealt with 10 to 112 case-stacks being slashed on the floor of a fine wine shop or gourmet retailer? And this is while I'm uncorking a few cases of bottles to demo on the floor to move the stacks - terrible for a P&L statement.   Also, your favorite Sommeliers are going to love you more when their patrons actually thank them for listing your wine - because they've now had a chance to learn more about them and taste them direct from the winery.  A single cool-kids restaurant is not going to "make your brand" with a BTG listing.  However - brag away, tell all your facebook friends that they can now guzzle your wines while dining out at the "it" place - hopefully they will get a reservation before your wine is switched off the list.

original post

I admit, I wasn't familiar with  Wine.Woot! until an industry consultant helping Pellegrini Family Vineyards turned me onto Woot! last fall.  Notice the word "help", you all know by now that I'm in the business of wine and my passion for "helping" family owned wineries is what gets me out of bed in the morning.  After running my first campaign with Wine.Woot! and Pellegrini - I was hooked.  Smart marketing and even smarter direct sales.

In all my years of agonizing over National FOB's, begging for more allocations, fighting over margins, creating incentives for reps that work (then seeing them fail), waiting for PO's, calling for payment on the PO's,  picking up winemakers from the airport at dawn, planning every minute of a market visit, driving 5 hours to stand in a store for a demo to then stay awake for a midnight staff training at a restaurant, receiving calls from key sales reps @3pm on Friday asking if I had any samples at my home that their best on-premise account was short and needs more - (oh and can you meet me 1.5 hours away with them too), printing a forest of marketing materials - sales sheets, shelf talkers, reviews, prices, paying for lunch, paying for breakfast tacos, paying for a steak dinner and kickoff meeting for 30, paying $4 a gallon in gas to drive 2-3,000 a month around Texas to finally & hopefully sell a few boxes of wine.  Whew.  It's takes an expensive army and an ambitious leader to move millions of dollars of wine through the traditional supply chain - exhausting and a money pit.     

Room for both.  

Yes, savvy wineries have been getting this for years now.  Utilizing sites such as Wine.Woot! and Rue La La for direct sales is a smart, fast and efficient way to brand the winery to a new customer base and ultimately move some boxes.  I've heard of a few "whiny-baby" distributors attempt to bully wineries when featured on these sites, what they don't get is that these 2 channels are actually helping build the brands in their local region too.  Often on the Wine.Woot! community forums page, members ask where the wines are being poured in restaurants and what local wine shops carry the wine.  On Rue La La - well over 3.5 million members are now eyeballing the wine collections - worth more than any BTG placement at the hottest restaurant in any American town. For a winemaker it may not sound as "cool" as having your wine placed on Gary Danko's list, but you can't deposit your ego in the bank either. Also, most likely a member of Rue La La who bought a large format of your wine will jump at the chance of ordering your brand off a sexy wine list too.  Wineries have been selling direct to consumers for years through their tasting rooms, wine clubs and mailing lists - this avenue is no different except it's in the world's view - for all to see, learn from and most likely spend their money on!

White Noise. 

Wine.Woot! began in 2006, since then similar "flash sites" have popped up but nothing to shake a stick at in regards to building a lasting and loyal impression on wine consumers.  Wine.Woot! is one-of-a kind and after a few months now of getting to know the members, it feels like family.  They love a good discount (who doesn't?), love hearing from the winemakers, offer honest opinions (love it or hate it), create wine gatherings all over the nation to share their Wine.Woot! bottles with each other and spread the love for the brands they have discovered like no other group of wine lovers I've ever encountered.  Oh, and they are buying a few pallets of wine - a day! 


Big plans are in full swing for Wine.Woot! and Rue La La.  Luxury wineries are utilizing high-end features on Rue La La to drive visitors to their winery (literally) and many are using Wine.Woot! as a new release and launching pad to kick off new wines for the season.  Yes, you'll still see a good value in price but don't expect to always see 2 vintages-past featured each day.  If you are a winery and haven't incorporated these two channels into your annual sales strategy - get on it, what are you waiting for?  If you are a wine consumer - CHEERS to you with each and every click!   - Ali

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Open to the Public - Healdsburg Edition

Visiting the Healdsburg area?  Well, here's a proper list that will guarantee a solid wine experience. Wineries are listed in no particular order  - they are all #1 to me and my guests who've experienced their hospitality this summer.

Ridge Lytton Springs - Dry Creek
A warm and friendly staff is always waiting to greet you at Ridge.  Their new patio overlooking old vines makes this visit comfy and relaxing.  Beats the heck out of the zig-zaggy drive up to Montelbello in the Santa Cruz Mountains too!  If you're lucky you'll hit it while their Carignan is available.  Montebello wines are also for sale here, ask about their "Celler" selections as well, to buy not to taste  - just go for it. 

Medlock Ames - Alexander Valley
Learn about their "save the earth" philosophy while sipping on tiny production organic Merlot, Cabernet, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Tastings are paired with small bites and wood-fired pizza sometimes too.  The real secret: Plan your visit after 3:30, the AV Bar located at the back of the tasting room opens at 5pm - everyone passing through should stop of a refreshing cocktail made with ingredients from the garden or a cold beer  - a beautiful patio to watch the sunset.

Natural Process Alliance & Salina Wine Company  - Santa Rosa (Russian River area)
This is not a stop for Cowboy Cabernet drinkers.  NPA wines are made with TLC naturally and left to do their own thing until poured down the hatch!  The wine on tap system complete with Kleen Kanteen's is the hippest way to drink since the milkman made deliveries.  Winemaker Kevin Kelly's Salina wines are also here, well he produces less than 300 cases annually, but seriously some of the most fabulous cold climate Syrah, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir on the planet. 

Arista - Westside Rd., Russian River
The Texas born McWilliams family has created an absolute magical experience high a-top Westside Rd.  The tasting room is surrounding by Japanese gardens and native boulders that take you to a far-away-land for a bit.  The family is 100% dedicated to showing you a good time,  plan ahead & schedule a vineyard tour for a real treat!  Oh and there's the wine - the Artista wines are a must have for any Pinot Noir lover.  I also can't seem to get enough of  their Syrah, Cab Franc and Gewürztraminer - while they last.

Copain - Eastside Rd., Russian River
Seriously, I just want to live here.  The decor inside and out - coupled with a view overlooking Williams-Seylem and other legendary wineries along over on Westside Rd. is spectacular.   You'll encounter an incredibly knowledgeable and accommodating staff, while sipping on "anything you can get your hands on"  - ask for them - seriously good wines.  Viogner, Rose, Syrah and Pinot Noir have all been sipped and shipped among my visiting friends and family this year. Only wish I bought more Rose!

Kokomo - Dry Creek Valley
For the love of dogs!  I get my Labrador love fix walking in the door at Kokomo.  The friendly owners are followed around by their four-legged buddies.  The wines are for us humans, almost always featuring a new release or small production wine reserved for Wine Club members too. I guzzled mounds of their simple but delicious Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc this summer - looking forward to opening a few pinots this fall.  The tasting room is no-frills, but the hip music and groovy winery t-shirts are a big bonus.

Inspiration Vineyards - Santa Rosa (Russian River area)
Yes, you are now in an industrial park next to a Baptist Church!!  Situated across from the NPA tasting room and winery, the tasting room at Inspiration makes you feel right at home- almost like it's "game night" and it's going to be awhile before you want to leave.  Small production Chardonnay, Syrah, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Cabernet and Viogner are all a treat, one of my favorite discoveries this year.  I first met the owners Jon and Barbara while taking their nightly walk through the vineyards off of Olivet Rd.  where they live, they are as lovely as the wines they create!

 Jordan - Alexander Valley
Call ahead to schedule your tasting and tour.  The picturesque grounds take you right to Bordeaux's Chateau Margaux.  The winery is tucked away in the hills of Alexander Valley, but extremely easy to locate.  You'll feel like a million bucks walking into the winery and will have plenty of options in how to spend a few bucks too.  I recently walked away with a bottle of 2003 Jordan Cabernet - the wines age very well and the library wines are "the get" when visiting since their distribution across the US is now everywhere from grocery stores to fine wine shops.

The "gargiste" tasting room is open Thursday - Sunday only and is a real treat to visit.  Looking for Napa Cabernet while in Sonoma County? This is your stop. Guy Davis always has a few wines open that are not in national distribution too  - just ask.  You'll be greeted by Lexi most days, who keeps things lively and fun during your visit.  A lot of the time you'll meet the family too,  Cole is Guy's right hand and often brings grandson Luke in tow. Ahh what a cutie!  Take a peek high above the tasting room bar to see the Davis Family Vineyards "Grand Champion" Saddle Trophy for winning the Texas size wine competition at the Houston Rodeo's International Wine Competition a few years ago  - yeah Davis Family Cabernet won the whole show - this is a big deal.

****when visiting Geyserville, a few minutes North of Healdsburg - a stop into Meeker Vineyards is a must, this family owned winery rocks and so do their wines. More suggestions soon! Cheers - Ali

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Winery Dog

A fabulous offering from Porter-Bass is on Wine.Woot! today.   Must share this sweet photo again, a perfect moment in time for this dog and my camera!  Ahh, a dog's life in the wine country...

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Harvest Lunch

Oh I just booked a fun harvest lunch with friends, very excited!  If you are visiting the Healdsburg area during the next few weeks, weekend lunch is a must with the folks at Michel-Schlumberger. Here's the skinny:

Sunday, October 02, 2011

A bit of Ridge

This time last week I was preparing for an afternoon at Ridge Lytton Springs, still working on a complete post of the afternoon (it's a long one!).  Exciting harvest happenings...they were bringing in Zinfandel last Sunday and playing with the 2011 Carignan.  More soon - Ali

Saturday, October 01, 2011

In loving memory

A wonderful Mother, Wife, Sister, Aunt, Daughter, Grandmother & Friend to all.  She loved this view of the Sonoma Coast, we all raise our glass to you sweet Janet.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wine of the Week

2010 Cyprus Russian River Chardonnay 

From one of the oldest vineyards in the Russian River AVA - vines are planted on the old AXR1 rootstock. It's not often I taste a California chardonnay that I enjoy this much! The wine has great acidity, lemon cream pie flavors with a pinch of minerality and finishes long and supple.

100% barrel fermented on new and neutral French Oak. Fermentation was long and cool resulting in wines that did not go dry until January (Harvest date: Oct. 20th). Lees were stirred in barrel every two weeks until bottling to develop its rich mouth feel and layers of complexity.  100% French Oak, 40% new and aged on fermentation lees for 9 months. 

Case production: 230   $24 a bottle

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Golden Gate Bridge

loves to thrill us! Shot this around noon today on my way back up to Sonoma County. This was Henley's favorite place to play catch in the world.  What a life he had! Cheers to a fun weekend everyone - Ali

International Grenache Day!

More like International Grenache Year for TexaCali Ali!  Kicking off my new found love for Grenache with Mulan Chan in the Rhone Valley last spring to sipping my latest "find" last night while chiming in on the very cool Grenache Woot Off!  I'm slammed today, but here are a few of my favorites grenache producers and travels so far this year in pictures.  Cheers to Grenache!  Ali

The new 2009 release of a tribute to Grace is now available...send Angela an email here:

Chateauneuf du Pape on a perfect spring day, while visiting Daniel Brunier of Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe 


Broc Cellars - haven't tried a bottle that I didn't absolutely love this year made by Chris Brockway. This was a perfect pairing one night with lamb burgers hot off the grill.

 The hillside vineyards of Domaine Saint Jean du Barroux in the Rhone... 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Allen Vineyard

Spent a few minutes walking Allen Vineyard last weekend while waiting for Ziggy the Wine Gal to arrive home...popped a grape that was full of big sweet juicy flavors. Heard they brought in all the fruit this morning!   Read up on the history of Allen Vineyard here. Cheers - Ali

Saturday, September 17, 2011

All the other kids

Tuning in from Cali all weekend.  Foster the People was so fun to watch, a great new discovery this summer for me.  This truly is the best way to "attend" ACL if you're not into gigantic music festivals.   Cheers to all my friends attending ACL and especially to all the restaurants in Austin bustin' it this weekend!  - Ali

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cheers to a little Frank on the way...

One of the best things about living in Austin over the past few years is becoming friends with Jenn & Daniel. Boy we've had some great times and cool adventures together over the years.  Couldn't be more proud, you guys are going to be great parents!  No doubt about it - the whole world is cheering you two Superheros on! LOVE YOU!! - Ali

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A blast of a job - are you worthy?

Wine.Woot Grunt

Work for Wine Country Connect - Sonoma, California (San Francisco Bay Area)

Job Description

So you think you want to work in the wine industry.
Seeking gullible, starry-eyed plebe for entry-level, total-immersion, life-sucking procurement and sourcing position to feed the insanely popular, pioneering website
What's in it for you? An underwhelming salary, all-but-unobtainable commission structure, hellishly long hours, and scant opportunity for upward mobility. Excited yet? There's more! You'll report to a  demanding, overworked boss and answer to the ridicule of a merciless, unrelenting 24/7 online community dissecting every curated wine selection you’d help bring to the worldwideweb.
Applicant must be have a superb track record, be wicked smart, Internet savvy, possess strong attention to detail (can you spell?) and a natural ability to evangelize in person, on the phone, and via the keyboard. Of course, a strong interest in wine and top-shelf writing skills are necessary, too.     
Get your foot in the door to what may be, despite the above, the best entry level job in the wine industry. Send resume to:

Company Description

Wine Country Connect founded and operates the wine division of ecommerce juggernaught Wine.Woot, considered one of the most successful and innovative enterprises in the wine industry. Wine Country Connect offers unique industry positioning and the opportunity to expand a winery’s audience beyond traditional channels.

Additional Information

September 9, 2011
Entry level
Business Development 
Marketing and Advertising, Wine and Spirits, Internet 

Wine Country Outings

Whew - a busy few months for TexaCali Ali organizing "insiders tours" for friends & corporate groups out in the Bay Area.  I've even done the same for Californians who are visiting Austin this fall (Perlas for cocktails, Congress for Dinner, Curra's for's a long long list of goodies). 

Yesterday's "team-building" outing included 26 Google groovers & shakers who spent the day learning about wine  - oh and tasting a few bottles too.  It was a day- long party for sure, everyone dressed to the "day-party nines" and were glued to their Androids - though I did see a few working their iPhones. Side note - I've been told over and over the Android rocks.

Many thanks to Enos Vineyards, Michel-Schlumberger & Davis Family Vineyards for making the day such a hit! 

Cheers - Ali