When you have two of the best people in industry at the helm, you can only expect the best of the best.  Philippe Melka (winemaker) and Jim Barbour (vineyard manager extraordinaire) have turned the old Long Vineyards (remember this great vineyard site from some years ago?) into a top notch Cabernet producer. Gandona (humble man in Portuguese) is rooted in tradition and a passion for transforming land into something extraordinary. It’s born from an estate that rests upon a sloping hillside high above the beauty of Napa Valley and Lake Hennessey – its vineyards, carved from the steep terrain and planted in four blocks, each possess their own distinct personality.The site of Gandona Estate had its beginnings (just) a few years earlier, when in 1862 Daniel K. Dille homesteaded the property, located just downhill from Pritchard’s future home. California had just experienced the silver rush and Napa County had recently been formed. Here, Dille worked as a laborer and maintained the land. The property sold several times throughout the years until the Bob Long family purchased it in 1966 and planted the site’s first vineyard. In 1977, they entered the wine business in earnest and founded a small winery called Long Vineyards.  Sandi Belcher (Arns) produced great Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a late harvest Johannesburg Riesling from the estate.

Gandona 2014 “Encosta” Cabernet, Estate Pritchard Hill, Napa Valley 
Retail 98.00 – GGWC 94.99
Use shipping code ENCOSTA @ checkout

The ENCOSTA Cabernet Sauvignon originates from the steeply terraced hillsides of the Gandona Estate and its terra cotta-colored, volcanic soil.  The 2014 vintage is a wine celebrating the very soul of hillside fruit capturing the essence of the vine’s interaction with earth and sun. It opens with aromas of bright red cherry and cranberry with underlying notes of cassis and tobacco.  On the palate, the wine shows a juicy, full mouth feel reminiscent of fresh black and ripe cherries. Rounding out the mid-palate are finely grained, sweet mountain tannins that reveal a beautiful marriage between them and well integrated oak.  The lingering finish is laced with nuances of rich cocoa powder and supported by a strong acid backbone demonstrating a wine worthy of aging.

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A 95 Point Napa Gem by “Petrus” Disciple


Chris Phelps was born and raised in California and mastered in two things wine and French!  That said, Chris mentored under the best-of-the best of the world after graduating from UC Davis he entered the Institue of Enology at the University of Bordeaux. It was here that he gained experience under the tutelage of Mr. Merlot (Christian Moueix) and Claude Berrouet who became is mentors!  It was here that Chris received an invitation to join Moueix at Dominus in the Napa Valley.  After a year of intense training he was given the title of winemaker where he worked from 1984 to 1995.  And the rest, as they say is history.

Ad Vivum 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon “Sleepy Lady” Yountville, Napa Valley 
Retail 140.00 – GGWC 134.99
Use code ADVIVUM during checkout

The 2013 Ad Vivum is a phenomenal Napa Cabernet Sauvignon! The wine explodes in the glass – with intense aromatics of black and purple fruit, a touch of dust and bitter chocolate fill the air!  On the palate, this wine offers us rich creamy body laced with lush black stone fruit, cassis and a touch of smoke all nicely layered.  The wine is dense, yet well-balanced and not over powering.  The silky tannic finish offers up sweet and creamy lasting flavors for a good 30 seconds.  This is a wine that will benefit from a good decanting and should cellar well for 15+ years!

Robert Parker 95 Points: “The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Sleeping Lady Vineyard comes from the southern-most end of the Yountville AVA and is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in 60% new French oak. The wine has a dense ruby/purple color, notes of wet gravel, blackcurrant, a touch of barbecue smoke and loamy soil undertones. It is medium to full.bodied and, like most 2013s, concentrated, dense, structured and powerful. The wine is showing well already, but will be even better with 5-6 years of bottle age and last for 25+ years.”

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The latest release of Fisticuffs will really knock your socks off!   Fisticuffs’ vision is to produce the highest quality wine while keeping price well managed  -  in essence, to over deliver, Knock you out. Rob Lawson has been making stunning wines under various “cult” Cabernet labels such as Ghostblock, Mirror, Pahlmeyer and Kapcsandy for many years and did not skip a beat with the stunning 2014 vintage. For those who dream of big and expensive Cabernets and don’t want to pay the big bucks… I have got news for you! This is a wine that tastes a lot more expensive than its price point! This wine is “the” real deal! A knockout value

Fisticuffs 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
Retail 38.00 – GGWC 33.99
Use the discount code FIST during checkout

The 2014 Fisticuffs is a classic Napa Valley Cabernet . This “value” Cab offers up aromas of dark chocolate, black cherry, cedar, and rose complement a mouth coating palate of vine ripened blackberry and baked raspberry. The tannins are modestly firm yet subtle and expansive, and slowly yield to mocha and candied pecans on the silky finish.   This wine over delivers for its price point!  This is low $30’s wine that tastes like $60!

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Thomas Rivers Brown’s 96 Point Cabernet Gem

Proprietors Mark Pulido and Donna Walker have a long history in Napa Valley, building relationships and putting down roots in the community. In the early 1980s, Donna and Mark began making regular trips to the Valley, meeting vintners at iconic cellars where they often tasted from the barrel. They were drawn into tasting room discussions about harvest and the rhythms of crafting wine. Pulido~Walker is a natural outgrowth of the couple’s passion, as collectors, for the place and its promise. Their Mt. Veeder Estate is a testament to the family’s long-term commitment to Napa Valley and view toward the future. They hooked up with Thomas Rivers Brown to create their own brand, and the rest as they say… is history.

“What separates the best valley floor sites from good valley floor sites is their ability to drain,” explains winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown. Panek Vineyard blankets a rocky, gently sloping knoll in the shadow of the Mayacamas Mountains along the old Napa River bed wash. The loamy soil, with its highly compacted alluvial deposits of gravel, provides optimal drainage. The valley basin is also more temperate than the hillsides surrounding St. Helena, making it ideal for slower ripening and full development of flavors. These elements coalesce in low yields of reliably superb fruit. Vines at Panek are densely spaced and pruned using the “two straight cane” method, which requires a specific skill set and hands-on, time-intensive attention. The ultimate goal is to allow the “site to shine through” the wine.

PULIDO WALKER 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon “Panek Vineyard” Napa Valley 
Retail 200.00 – GGWC 194.99
Use code PANEK during checkout

Robert Parker: “The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Panek Vineyard (75% new French oak and 14.6% alcohol) has an inky purple color, loads of crème de cassis, blueberry and vanillin with graphite and licorice. It is full-bodied, exhibits terrific texture, low acidity and sweet, round tannin. This is a full-bodied classic that is delicious already, but promises to develop more nuances over the next decade and last for 20-25 years.”

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Bill and Cindy Wenzlau purchased 100 acres, but only planted 12 ½ of them (8½ to Pinot & 4 to Chardonnay).  For 2 decades they fantasized about owning their own vineyard.   But it was not until their sommelier son Tommy came back from a trip to France that he persuaded his family to look for land.  They scoured California and came across this gorgeous property in the Santa Rita Hills and the rest as they say was history and the Wenzlau Vineyard was born! The first vintages were made by Paul Lato and as of 2012 Justin Willett (Tyler) has been at the helm of this great winery.

Wenzlau 2012 Pinot Noir Estate Santa Rita Hills 
Retail Price 65.00

Use discount code WENZLAUPN during checkout

Parker Review 93 Points: “Also superb, the 2012 Wenzlau Pinot Noir Estate saw 20% whole clusters during fermentation and spent 16 months in 35% new French oak. It’s another classic red that has plenty of ripe berry fruits, underbrush, forest floor and crushed flowers to go with a medium-bodied, elegant and lively feel on the palate. It too should shine for 3-4 years, if not longer. These impressive efforts are made by Justin Willett (of Tyler). The focus here is on their estate vintage, which was planted in 2007.”

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Another 96 Point Philippe Melka Cab GEM

This might be one of the very best Cabernets to come from Knight’s Valley (better than Peter Michael, really!)  The venture is owned by Norma Hunt (wife of the late Kansas City Chiefs Lamar Hunt – who pretty much invented the Super Bowl).  This gorgeous property is well-situated, and when you bring in the Quarterback – Wide Receiver duo of wine (Philippe Melka and Jim Barbour), you can only achieve one thing – SUPERBOWL-like fame with the accompanying quality.

Retail 140.00 – GGWC price 134.99
Free Shipping on 4 or more
Use code PERFECT upon checkout

Only 400 cases of the 2014 PERFECT SEASON Cabernet were produced, so it won’t be around for a long time.  This 100% Estate Grown Cabernet is well-crafted and offers up amazing aromas of red and black stone fruits, a hint of chocolate and a whiff of spice cabinet as I call it.  Amazing, voluptuous body that is loaded with intense concentrated, yet very well-manicured and balanced fruit.  More black stone and espresso / mocha on the mid-palate merging into a long lasting lingering finish of elegant tannins.  A MUST HAVE!

Parker 96 Points: “The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon stays 18 months in 78% new French oak prior to being bottled unfiltered. It is a beautiful Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, with scorched earth and charcoal/barbecue smoke intermixed with crème de cassis, blackberry, espresso and maybe a hint of chocolate. A wine of exceptional intensity and purity, this full bodied, opulent wine is round, savory and generous. It is ideal for drinking over the next 15 – 20 years.”


In a recent blind tasting of 2014 Pinot Noirs, Attune beat out some big boys (and girls).  Our tasting group consisted out 15 wine professionals, and we meticulously (blind) tasted all wines twice.

The line-up included:

The Winner: ATTUNE

Attune 2014 Pinot Noir received 8 FIRST, 4 SECOND and 3 THIRD place votes, ahead of Paul Lato 4 FIRST, 5 SECOND and 5 THIRD place votes and ARGOT 2 FIRST, 4 SECOND and 4 THIRD place votes. Thus in nice company, and at a much lower price point!

Attune is a venture of two families who with a love for Pinot planted 8.5 acres  to two Burgundy clones from the Cotes d’Or, clones 667 and 115.  Their winemaker is Ken Juhasz, who also owns and makes Auteur.  Emphasis at Attune is not quantiy, but quality. The 2014 is one of their “largest” vintage to date at a whopping 300 cases!  Still, not a lot!

Attune 2014 Pinot Noir “Estate” Sonoma 
Retail 52.00 – GGWC 49.99
Use code ATTUNE upon checkout

This is only the fifth vintage from this estate, but you’d believe they have been at it for years.  Out of the glass jump lush aromas of bright red stone fruit.  The wine is amazingly elegant and round with a perfect “pitch” balance, you’d think you are listening to a great opera singer.  A beautiful representation of the Attune estate vineyard terroir, the 2014 vintage is defined by big, complex flavors of bramble and pomegranate which stay bright and balanced with integrated acidity and ripe tannin structure. Aromas of cherry blossom and raspberry lead to darker flavors of violet and baked blackberry on the palate, all of which are carried into a surprisingly lengthy finish. Best enjoyed from 2017 to 2025.! Only 300 cases produced.

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Scarecrow 100 Point Winemaker’s Smashing CAB Release

Jim Barbour was raised on his family ranch in Rutherford where he learned the life of framing, a passion for land, and the understanding that hard work breeds success. After graduating from UC Davis, Jim returned to Napa to begin a career that would lead him to become on Napa Valley’s most sought-after and successful viticulturists.  He has been dedicated to his craft, producing premium wine grapes using traditional and contemporary hand-farming methods.  Jim has planted and managed many prominent vineyards in the valley, including Hundred Acre, Checkerboard, Blankiet, Revana, Gandona Estate, The Vineyardist, Keever, Pillar Rock, DR Stephens, Husic, Grace Family, and more.

In 1992 he planted his own vineyard and in 1995 produced his first vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon of just 50 cases.

His winemaker is no other than Celia Welch (Miss 100 Point Winemaker), known for her great skills putting wineries on the map of success.  Her list is long, but in case you didn’t know – Scarecrow, Corra, Keever, Kelly Fleming, Lindstrom, Hollywood & Vine, etc. She took over from the “other” 100 point winemaker, Heidi Barrett and the rest… is history!

Barbour 2014 “Esate” Cabernet, Napa Valley 
Retail 140.00 – GGWC 134.99
FREE SHIPPING on 4 or more
Use code BARBOUR upon checkout

The 2014 Barbour Cabernet is amazingly opulent from start to finish.  The wine’s aromas of black stone fruit, anise, mocha and chocolate jump out of the glass on impact.  This full-bodied wine is loaded with generously layered dark berry, plum, chocolate and exotic spices that tickle the lush concentrated palate.   This wine is extremely well balanced and the layers of flavors are all nicely in sync with just a little whiff over acidity which will allow this wine to be one for the ages. The wine finishes with a long complex finish that lasts a good 30 seconds! A MUST HAVE!!

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Superb Quality & Amazing Value Chardonnay by Winemaker of the Year!

Bibiana González Rave is the founder and winemaker of Cattleya Wines. She is also the wife of star winemaker Jeff Pisoni.  Born and raised in Colombia and trained as a winemaker in France, she moved to California in 2007 to settle into making extraordinary wines.  In her words: “Since my early teenage years, my dream has been to make wine. At a very young age I was fortunate enough to begin learning how to make wine in France. I trained myself while working with some amazing winemakers who showed me the importance of loving the land, how to respect the farming itself, and to focus on the many details that go into making each drop of wine in each and every bottle.”  She also makes the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for Pahlmeyer and makes “Shared Notes” wines with husband Jeff Pisoni.

Cattleya 2015 “Alma de Cattleya” Chardonnay 
Retail 26.00 – GGWC 24.99
Use code ALMA during checkout

The 2015 Alma de Cattleya is sourced from a few rolling hillside vineyards in Sonoma County.  On the nose you’ll be greeted by tropical fruit, orange blossom and a whiff of popcorn. On the palate, this medium bodied wine pleasantly surprises you with lush, complex flavors of quince, green apples and a touch of crisp acidity (not overwhelming)  The wine finishes pleasantly with long lasting flavors.  SMALL PRODUCTION!

Be certain to check out Bibiana’s other phenomenal wines as well!

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In Memoriam…

Dear Friends of Golden Gate Wine Cellars,

J.P. CullenI have known so many of you for many years to the point that we are almost family. In fact, some of you I met the year I graduated college almost 30 years ago. I have grown up with you, you have given me a chance and supported me when I started my own business in 2005. My business family has grown nicely and I am very proud to have all of you as friends in every corner of the US and many places around the globe.

So it is with sadness in my heart that I share the passing one of my longtime friends, Mr. JP Cullen, who passed away this Sunday. Mr. Cullen and his family (3 generations now) have been very supportive of my endeavors and I owe them a great deal of gratitude.

So please take a moment and help me remember JP and raise a glass to him and his family.

I am going to miss our monthly chats, JP, my regular updates on your Golden State Warriors (JP was a partner in the team some years ago), our chats about the Cullen and Melis Families. But you will not be forgotten. Thank you for your generosity and kindness.

Your friend,