96 Point ZinSiLation = FREE SHIPPING



The best caves, and cave tour in California (hint, hint for those who like to visit). Add a few amazing vineyards, including their Estate properties and 2 great winemakers and you have the key to success.  Bella has been producing stunning Zins for 20 years now very quietly, below the radar, but not for long.  The 2015 vintage is their top accolade, and I recommend this wine highly!

Bella 2015 Zinfandel “Lily Hill” Dry Creek Valley
GGWC 49.99
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With a pretty floral nose of dark ripe fruit, the 2015 Lily Hill Zinfandel exhibits classic and lively Dry Creek flavors of blackberries, black cherries, licorice and exotic spices. The wine has a silky texture with a full mouthfeel, intertwined with a smokey finish. The incorporation of a small amount of petite sirah pushes the finish into rich, substantial length.

Winery Notes: “We have 8 different blocks of zinfandel on the Lily Hill. Each are picked individually according to ripeness. The first fruit was from blocks 5, 6 and 8, hand picked on September 5th, finishing with the Lily Hill petite sirah on September 16th. Fruit was sorted, destemmed and fermented in closed-top tanks for an average of 14 days. The wine was barrelled-down into a combination of French and American oak, 20% new, for 18 months in our wine caves.”

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“Sexy, Racy” 95 Point (140 case) Red = FREE SHIPPING


For 3 generations the Holtermann Family has been one of the premier importers of wines, varying from hard-to-find, leading wineries to very large producers from all over the world.  Their longtime relationships with growers, enolgists, winemakers and vineyard managers provided them with a unique perspective of the wine industry. So the next step was panting their own vineyards, which they did in the remote ridge tops of Annapolis on the Sonoma Coast.  Add winemaker Carroll Kemp to the mix and you’ll wind up with great quality estate-grown wines at a great price point!

Alma Fria 2015 “Holterman” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
GGWC 64.99
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The highlight among the Pinots, the 2015 Alma Fria Pinot Noir Holtermann Vineyard is the most powerful and punchy of these wines. A rush of cherry, red stone fruit, dried flowers, tea leaves, mint and anise run through this bold, expressive Pinot. The tannins are a bit burly and need time to soften, but there is good potential here, not to mention tons of pure personality. I highly recommend to decant this youngster 30-45 minutes prior to serving to get full enjoyment of this baby.

Vinous 95 Points: “The highlight in this range, Alma Fria’s 2015 Pinot Noir Holtermann Vineyard is a very sexy wine. Racy, juicy and aromatically intense, the 2015 is another wine full of the natural radiance and richness the vintage provided on its own. Succulent red cherry, plum, menthol, licorice, lavender and spice all mesh together in this dense, super-expressive, yet mid-weight Pinot.”

Winery Notes:  “The 2015 vintage produced the most powerful and intense Holtermann Vineyard Pinot Noir yet. Beautiful aromatics of rose petals, red fruit, and hints of tobacco invite further exploration. Raspberries, pomegranates, red currents and bright cherries dominate the palate. The wine exhibits a soft mouthfeel and just a hint of salinity. Beautiful now, this wine will further develop with cellar time.”

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To tip or not to tip… Your age is the question!

When It Comes to Tipping, Millennials Are Cheapest
Older, more educated Americans are the most generous.

Contributed By Riley Griffin, Bloomberg

U.S. millennials are quick to whip out their wallets for pricey avocado toast and craft beer. But when it comes to rewarding the waiters and bartenders who serve them, those wallets often stay closed.

Ten percent of millennials don’t tip at all when dining out compared with only three percent among the older generations, according to a studyreleased Monday by CreditCards.com, an online credit card marketplace.

And those millennials who do tip at restaurants tend to leave a median gratuity of 15 percent, less than the overall average. Gen-Xers, baby boomers and the oldest Americans, the so-called Silent Generation, are more generous, leaving between 18 and 20 percent.

“It was interesting to see that millennials are the worst tippers—because the typical restaurant worker is a millennial,” CreditCards.com senior industry analyst Matt Schulz said in an interview. “It’s self-defeating.”

The study was conducted for CreditCards.com by market-research firm GfK, which gathered data last month from 1,000 Americans aged 18 and older. Millennials were defined as between the ages of 18 and 37.

Beyond those poor waiters, taxi drivers and baristas fared even worse with their millennial customers. Apparently even the suggestion that a tip is expected puts some of these young people off. Eighteen percent of millennials surveyed said they typically decline to leave any amount when presented with pre-entered tipping options—say if they’re in a taxi or taking a Lyft or Uber.

Why are these American youth, many of whom work in tip-reliant industries, so cheap? The answer may be economic. “Millennials’ financial struggles are a big reason they tip less,” Schulz said.

But other data point to a more cynical explanation. Millennials do tend to spend more of their disposable income eating out, according to 2017 data from Merrill Lynch. After all, that tip can pay for dessert.

But twenty and thirty-somethings aren’t the only skinflint demographic. Men, southerners, westerners, parents with young children, lower earners and the less educated said they tip less in restaurants than the overall median of 18 percent, according to the study.

Who, then, leaves the largest tips?

The study found people who are college educated, over the age of 65, from the Northeast and Midwest, and women all reported leaving a median of 20 percent—an above average tip.

ZinSation of the Month

Gamba Vineyards is a small, family owned vineyard and winery in Sonoma County. The  110 year old 27 acre Gamba Estate Vineyard parcel rests on the Eastern edge of the beautiful Russian River Valley on gently rolling bench land above the valley floor. Planted to Zinfandel in 1900, the Gamba Estate Vineyard consists primarily of Old Vine Zinfandel, as well as small separate blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon. This organic and dry-farmed 35 acre vineyard is owned by Gus and Paulette Gamba. Guided by a family heritage of six generations of wine grape growing, it is a firm belief at Gamba that wines are made in the vineyard.

Gamba 2016 Zinfandel “Old Vine” Starr Road
GGWC 54.99
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Robert Parker 94 Points: “The 2016 Zinfandel Old Vine Starr Road Ranch is deep garnet-purple colored with a nose of baked cherries, raspberry preserves and stewed plums with hints of baking spices, potpourri, licorice and chocolate box plus a waft of dried herbs. Very big, rich and full-bodied, it packs in the berry preserves and spice box flavors with a firm, chewy frame and oodles of tart freshness, finishing long. 440 cases produced.”

Jeb Dunnuck 94 Points: “The 2016 Starr Road Ranch Old Vine is also gorgeous. Black raspberries, cedary spice, ginger, and exotic flower notes, full body, sweet, present tannin, and a beautiful finish all make for a downright irresistible Zinfandel that delivers serious pleasure.”

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Top 100 wine # 3, received another 95 Point rating!

The Beaux Frères Vineyard was a creation of Robert Parker and his brother-in-law (Beaux Frere) Mike Etzel.  The winery/vineayard is located on an 88-acre farm atop Ribbon Ridge in the Chehalem Valley near Newberg (Yamhill County, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA). Tall and stately Douglas fir trees cover nearly 50 acres of the farm, with homestead and winery buildings occupying another 8 acres. The vineyard is situated on 30 acres of steep, contiguous southeast, south and southwest facing hillsides of Willakenzie soils at elevations of around 400 feet. Planting began in 1988 with tightly planted Pinot Noir vines spaced at a density of about 2200 plants to the acre. The oldest vines in the vineyard are now a seasoned 29 years of age, and the vineyard as a whole is a mixture of own-rooted Pommard and Wädenswil clones and younger Dijon clones on phylloxera-resistant rootstocks.  Recently Robert Parker & Mike Etzel each sold a chunk of their ownership to a French producer.  However, Mike Etzel will remain on a President and winemaker.

Beaux Freres 2015 Pinot Noir “Beaux Freres Vineyard”
GGWC 94.99
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Vinous 95 Points: “Deep lurid red. Intensely perfumed aromas of raspberry liqueur, vanilla, Indian spices and potpourri, along with a hint of smoky minerals that builds in the background. Densely packed and alluringly sweet, showing impressive depth and a bright mineral core to the sappy red berry, spicecake and floral pastille flavors. Gains power with air while maintaining energy and focus. Smooth tannins build slowly and harmonize with the vibrant fruit on an impressively persistent, floral-driven finish.”

Wine Spectator 95 Points: “Offers impressive presence and polish, with a multilayered, complex core wrapped in rich, expressive blueberry and cherry flavors, accented by savory spice and espresso details. Builds depth as this dances toward refined tannins. Drink now through 2025.”

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95 Point Rated, Inaugural DUMOL releases!

This is the 21st vintage, thus a Jackpot of sorts for DuMOL.  At the start of the 3rd decade in business, a few changes are taking place.  The first one, the introduction of the “Wester Reach” series.  To create the Wester Reach Chardonnay and Wester Reach Pinot Noir, Andy Smith and his crew have interwoven three of the Russian River Valley’s unique sub-districts, from the valley floor stretching westward to the coolest “reaches” of the coast.

2016 DuMOL “Wester Reach” Chardonnay “Russian River”
GGWC 59.99 net
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Orange zest, white flower, sweet sage and hay aromas yield to softer peach and apricot. The palate is full of energy and vigor with clear-cut fruit intensity and savory character. Ripe stone fruits dominate with an underscore of oatmeal and marzipan. Texture builds with a core of old vine extract balanced with vibrant lime and oyster shell freshness. The finish is long, cleansing, and refined.

Vineyard sources: Ritchie, Lorenzo, Dumol Estate, Dutton-Hansen, Dutton-Jentoft and Charles Heintz.

Jeb Dunnuck 93 Points: “Moving to the Chardonnays, the 2016 Chardonnay Wester Reach comes from a site in the Russian River, yet is further west, toward the Sonoma Coast. Medium-bodied, vibrant, and elegant, with juicy acidity and notes of white flower, citrus blossom, tangerine and subtle minerality, it’s an incredibly elegant wine that builds nicely with time in the glass.”

2016 DuMOL “Wester Reach”  Pinot Noir “Russian River”
GGWC 74.99 net
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Complex, layered aromas – red cherry, black pepper, hibiscus and orange peel – are wonderfully bright and fresh while cranberry and pomegranate, wild thyme and underbrush lend fine detail. The broad fruit entry possesses great lift – juicy and vibrant, then immediately deep and layered. The mid-palate is succulent and round with cherry liqueur and rhubarb flavors which extend on fresh acidity through the long, black peppercorn-infused finish.

Vineyard sources: Ritchie, Occidental Road, Dutton-Upp Road, Widdoes, and Dumol Estate

Jeb Dunnuck 93 Points: “Leading off the Pinot Noirs, the 2016 Pinot Noir Wester Reach is one of the releases that only goes out to distribution and isn’t offered on the mailing list. It’s a textbook wine from this estate and is ideal for readers looking to understanding the style of this estate. Wild strawberry, violets, and forest floor aromas and flavors, medium body, light tannin, and a charming, layered, balanced style all make for a brilliant Russian River Pinot Noir to drink over the coming 4-5 years.”

2016 DuMOL “Wild Mountainside”  Syrah “Russian River”
GGWC 62.99 net
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The 2016 Wild Mountains Syrah is inky and concentrated. Blackberry, boysenberry and blueberry fruit characters dominate both aromas and palate. There’s vibrant grapefruit zest, floral lilac, wild thyme and roasted meat characters. The fruit is plush and deep, but there’s always a sense of mountain precision and detail. A savory ferrous note adds intrigue to the full-bodied, chewy palate but the wine remains fine and polished throughout. It holds 15 years of aging potential in a cool cellar.

Vineyard Sources: 41% Greywackle, 31% Hoppe-Kelly & 28% Timbervine Ranch

Jeb Dunnuck 95 Points: “While the Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs get most of the love from this terrific estate, don’t miss their Syrahs! The 2016 Syrah Wild Mountainside is a power-packed, deep, rich, concentrated beauty that offers sensational, northern Rhône-like notes of blackberries, white pepper, bacon fat, and wild scrub/sagebrush-like aromas and flavors. Medium to full-bodied, seamless, and perfectly balanced, it’s a beautiful Russian River Valley Syrah that will keep for over a decade.”

Also check out the limited release of their 96 Point rated “Estate” Chardonnay!

2015 DuMOL “Estate”  Chardonnay Russian River Valley
GGWC 89.99 net
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Robert Parker 96 Points: “The 2015 Chardonnay Estate Vineyard delivers incredibly evocative notes of lemon zest, grapefruit, yuzu and lime leaves with touches of baking bread, marzipan, ginger and white blossoms. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is super fresh and minerally with a satiny texture and loads of citrus and savory layers, finishing long and perfumed.

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95 Point Napa Cab by Russell Bevan’s Right Hand


Kimberly Hatcher is the longtime assistant to Russell Bevan and has kept her eyes and ears open as she is on a roll now! Her Morgado label is bringing in some impressive reviews and creating quite a buzz. Robert Parker and Jeb Dunnuck have “noticed” her and the press is out! That said, Kimberly’s wine are very small productions, and with the high scores… they will sell out fast!

She makes the wines at the Tench Caves, and Russell might be looking over her shoulder once in awhile (or maybe not)

Morgado 2015 Sugarloaf Mountain Proprietary Red, Napa Valley
GGWC 94.99
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Jeb Dunnuck 95 Points: “As to the red blend from Hatcher, the 2015 Sugarloaf Mountain Red Wine offers deep, concentrated notes of cassis, black cherries, graphite, and earth. This full-bodied, elegant, sensationally textured 2015 has no hard edges, fine tannin, a surprising elegance, and a terrific finish. It’s going to drink nicely for two decades.”

Robert Parker 94+ Points: “Composed of 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Franc, the 2015 Sugarloaf Mountain Proprietary Red has an evocative, earthy nose of tilled soil and mossy bark over a core of warm red and black currants with touches of pencil shavings, dried herbs and fungi. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is fine, elegant and fresh, with expressive earthy layers and a long, finely grained finish.” 

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95 Point, 100 case Pinot Gem

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 2014 Pinot Noir “The Perch” Santa Rita Hills
GGWC 64.99
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Vinous 95 Points: The Wenzlau Pinot Noir The Perch opens with striking aromatics. Perfumed, textured and yet also remarkably polished for such an intense, ripe wine, the Perch has it all. Readers who can find the Perch should not hesitate, as it is a total knockout. The Perch captures the intensity of this site and year, but with tons of supporting minerality giving the wine its feel and overall shape.

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South Napa earthquake linked to summer groundwater dip

South Napa earthquake linked
to summer groundwater dip

Contributed by Liza Lester, American Geophysical Union


Surface ruptures from the August 2014 South Napa earthquake run through a vineyard near Buhman Road, Napa Valley, California.
Credit: Dan Ponti, US Geological Survey

A summertime expansion in the Earth’s crust caused by changes in groundwater may have triggered the magnitude-6.0 earthquake in California’s wine country in 2014, according to a new study.

The August 24, 2014 South Napa quake was the largest earthquake to shake the San Francisco Bay Area since the magnitude-6.9 Loma Prieta quake in 1989. It was also the first earthquake in the region since 1906 to break through to the surface, leaving buckled asphalt and cracked soil in vineyards along the length of the fault.

The earthquake originated 11.1 kilometers (6.7 miles) under the San Pablo Bay marshes along the West Napa Fault. Falling bricks, debris and household objects killed two people and injured close to 300, and the earthquake caused roughly half a billion dollars of damage.

The Earth’s surface is a collage of thin, rigid plates floating on a hot, liquid interior. Friction prevents the plates from moving smoothly past each other and stress builds up in the rocks as the plates pull and push on each other. Earthquakes occur when pieces of the Earth’s crust slide past each other to release this stress.

In the new study in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, a journal of the American Geophysical Union researchers report the discovery of an expansion occurring in Earth’s crust every summer at the site of the South Napa earthquake, adding to the stress on the fault. Their analysis suggests seasonally receding groundwater under the Napa and Sonoma valleys, which flank the fault, causes the summertime expansion.

The study’s authors believe the added seasonal stress could have been the final straw that caused the fault to fail in 2014.

Plate Boundary Observatory GPS station P199 overlooks the Sonoma Valley, California. Data from the station demonstrated contraction in the valley during the summer, which contributes to seasonal stress on the fault.
Credit: UNAVCO

“You have an overall, long-term accumulation of stress in the Earth, that happens from standard plate tectonics forces. Then you have a seasonal component,” said Meredith Kraner, a graduate student at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lead author of the new study. “We think that seasonal component may have pushed the fault slightly more towards failure.”

“Why did [the earthquake] happen in 2014 versus any other year? We think it just reached its breaking point,” Kraner said.

Previous studies of earthquake patterns in California have also observed seasonal trends, with earthquakes occurring more frequently in the summer months. The new study ties this seasonal effect to a specific earthquake and delves deeper into how it may have contributed to the timing of the 2014 earthquake.

Studies like this one could improve earthquake forecasting models by incorporating localized, seasonal sources of stress on faults, which could be important earthquake triggers, Kraner said. Seasonal influences vary between faulting systems, but current models rely only on the overall, long-term movements of the Earth’s crust.
“Although this study promises to improve forecasting models by encouraging agencies to include time-dependent information, we just can’t predict earthquakes,” Kraner said. “This is promising, but we still can’t predict anything.”

A star marks the epicenter of the August 2014 South Napa earthquake and black traces the West Napa Fault. Contraction in the Sonoma and Napa Valley groundwater subbasins, outlined in green, during the summer pulls on the Earth’s crust between the valleys, contributing to stress on the fault.
Credit: AGU Journal of Geophysical Research

Summer stress

The new study finds Earth spreads horizontally, roughly east-west, during the summer in the area where the fault ruptured in 2014. This spreading reaches a peak of 3 millimeters (0.12 inches) in late August to early September.

In the winter, the crust contracts to the same degree, reaching a maximum contraction in late January to early February. This seasonal pattern of expansion and contraction happened annually in the eight years before the South Napa earthquake.

Kraner observed these seasonal motions in the Earth using an array of GPS stations throughout the western United States. Each station reports its location down to the millimeter.

“We found that the expansion happens every summer, and we believe that it causes an overall release of clamping pressure on the fault, which we believe makes the fault more likely to slip during the summer months,” Kraner said.

Kraner and her colleagues believe seasonal fluctuations in groundwater, whether from pumping or other changes, are likely the source of the seasonal expansion and contraction. The weight of groundwater flexes the Earth’s crust, and changes in groundwater have been associated with earthquakes around the world. For example, the unloading of water weight as the Sierra Nevada snowpack melts each spring has been connected to increased frequency of earthquakes in the summer in California.

The new study shows the observed seasonal expansion over the fault is consistent with the waxing and waning of water under Napa and Sonoma, two long valleys that run parallel to each other, divided by the Mayacamas Mountains. Groundwater basins within the valleys supply water to the region’s famous wineries. The West Napa Fault runs between the valleys on the eastern edge of the mountains.

As water levels under the valleys fall during the summer, the ground over the valleys sinks and contracts. Satellite data shows the land sinking in the Napa and Sonoma valleys in the summer, consistent with shrinking groundwater volume. Eastern and western GPS stations within Sonoma Valley also move closer together in summer, showing a contraction over the groundwater basin, which would be expected as groundwater diminishes.

This contraction above the groundwater basins pulls on the mountainous land between the valleys, causing the land between the valleys to stretch. This is the seasonal expansion Kraner and her colleagues observed using GPS that they believe adds stress to the fault.

The researchers ruled out other factors, like changes in air temperatures, the Sierra Nevada snowpack and the extended 2011-2017 California drought, as the cause of the local changes.

“We think it’s more of a localized effect, something related to the groundwater system. We don’t know if it is groundwater pumping specifically, or something related to how the natural aquifer system works, or a combination,” Kraner said.

Former Spottswoode Winemaker “Stars” in her own Cabernet “Role”

Named for the variations of rock, loam, and clay soils found throughout the St. Helena based Crocker Estate Vineyard, RLC is the embodiment of Crocker & Starr as a concept. Winemaker and co-owner Pam Starr had the idea for RLC when she realized that the blocks of vines that made up the periphery of the vineyard were too unique to play a mere supporting role in her flagship ‘Stone Place’ Cabernet Sauvignon. Pam likes to say, “I don’t drive life, life drives me,” and thus was born an entirely new bottling –one that is more approachable to the palate and the wallet.

Made using the exact same techniques as Crocker & Starr’s estate flagship Cabernet bottlings, RLC is a study in unique terroir. Fans familiar with Stone Place’s signature dark, brooding palate will enjoy RLC’s supple tannic structure, red cherry fruit, and lasting finish. RLC is a Cabernet to enjoy over the next few years while waiting for Stone Place to mature in the cellar

Crocker & Starr 2014 RLC Cabernet, Napa Valley
69.99 NET
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The 2014 RLC jumps out of the glass with stunning aromas of cherry pie, vanilla, pomegranates, anise and toasted walnut. On the palate this lush well-made Napa Cabernet offers up flavors of black stone fruit, chocoalate, black & red cherry fruit, and a hint of toasty vanilla. The wine is well-structured and nicely balanced offering up a long lasting finish with light grained tannins, making this a great wine that could cellar but also could be drunk right now. (decant about 60-90 minutes before serving)

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