Scarlett Cabernet Special – 20% Off!


 

Scarlett Wines is a family operation owned by the McGah family, who are most notably known for co-founding the Oakland Raiders. Representing over four generations of wine growers, the family’s personal touch can be felt from the soil to the glass. The winery previously operated under the name McGah Family Cellars and rebranded in 2015 in honor of its flagship wine, Scarlett, which is named after the founder’s daughter.
 
Scarlett 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Rutherford Napa Valley
GGWC 79.99  NOW 64.99
FREE SHIPPING ON SIX OR MORE
Use code SCARLETT17 during checkout

CANNOT BE COMBINED WITH STIMULUS DISCOUNT

This might be the best effort from Mike Smith to date!  The wine has a dense purple hue and the aromas are AMAZING! The color STUNNING! The flavors are MIND BOGGLING! The wine is loaded with black stone fruit and chocolate aromas. On the palate the wine gushes with more chocolate, black currant, jam and some delicate Rutherford dust. The wine is full in body, yet elegant and refined! Gorgeous from start to finish Only 300 cases of this gem were produced, so better jump on this now! Massively scaled for a Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon.
 
Also check out these other Mike Smith made wines
SCARLETT 2017 “ESTATE” ZINFANDEL, RUTHERFORD NAPA VALLEY
BENCH “CIRCA 64” CAB BLEND ESTATE STAG’S LEAP NAPA
12C 2017 G3 BECKSTOFFER VINEYARD GEORGES III CABERNET SAUVIGNON, OAKVILLE NAPA VALLEY

 

Click here or on the links above to order
Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for priority allocation

Why Rosé is a Wine for all Seasons

Why rosé is a wine for all seasons

by Christy Canterbury MW

 
We – the wine trade – convinced wine lovers around the globe that sparkling wine isn’t just for celebrations. (Or, maybe wine drinkers just fell in love with Prosecco and “we” had nothing to do with it.) Now, it’s high time we make a move to have rosé become a wine for all seasons.

The good news is that wine sippers already love rosé, almost obsessively. They love it whatever their ages are. In the US, more men than women drink rosé! According to Wine Intelligence, 37% of the US adult population was drinking rosé wine in 2017 compared with 24% in 2007. So why do they reserve it only for warm months, those when fashion dictates they are also allowed to wear their white linen pants and skirts?

Maybe it’s because we sold them too hard on rosé with summer. We talked about St. Tropez, the Provençal sunshine and the finer things in life. It worked well. Then, Instagram “influencers” helped drive home the point. In fact, they may have done more effective work in a shorter period of time than the wine trade. I digress.

At the same time, we drew another line in the sand. We told consumers that rosé – “real rosé” – is only pale, minerally and light. This was a quick tip to help them differentiate “real rosé” from those darker hued, cotton candy-colored rosés with residual sugar, also known as blush. This was key to convincing consumers to drink rosé because – especially in the US – pink of any Pantone previously was associated with White Zinfandel.

As Liz Gabay MW wrote in her excellent Bible on all things rosé, Rosé: Understanding the Pink Wine Revolution, “The growing fashion for Provence rosé has been accompanied by a powerful message that a pale rosé is ‘good’, that paler is ‘better’, an indication of quality.” She goes on to mention that many producers told her that they feel pressured to make their rosés paler. Their wines could taste like whatever they wanted, but their colors had to mimic Provence’s pale, coral pink palette.

If consumers are looking to emulate (their perception of) French wine drinking sophisticates, they apparently should look to other times of sunshine. One Frenchman I interviewed for a panel on rosé in Manhattan last year said that the French love rosé as an après-ski sip. He claims that the French feel that any sunshine-fueled occasion calls for rosé, whatever the time of year. Come on, wine marketers, “Rosé Après!” is pretty catchy. Sunshine, the outdoors and sports definitely blend well with highly refreshing, pale pink rosé. That’s doubly true when there’s alternative packaging – like cans – involved.

We also need to move wine drinkers past the idea that even modestly darker rosés are always sweet or even off-dry. (We should probably ask the right Instagrammers to help.) Darker hued pinks are the perfect rosés for drinking occasions not associated with sunscreen. By the way, the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Provence reports that the French import 27% of the entire global trade in rosé from Spain, who is now the primary supplier of entry-level rosés sold in France. So the French aren’t drinking exclusively pale pink. Lots of Spanish rosados have richer hues.

Here are a few reasons to consider darker colored rosés:

Darker, dry rosés tend to have more robust flavor.

That works better for the generally more robust foods that we enjoy in the fall and winter seasons. Darker rosés also go very well with spring and summer dishes, too, as their flavors tend to be more fruit-forward and less minerally and earthy. This blends very nicely with the greater abundance of fruit and fresh veggies that we eat in those seasons.

Darker, dry rosés also tend to have more body and slightly higher alcohol.

Again, this enables them to work nicely with heartier dishes that would clobber pale and typically more lithe rosés.

Darker, dry rosés still have plenty of acidity.

They may have richer fruit flavors and higher alcohol, but the grapes were still harvested earlier than they would have been for red or white wine. (Yes, many rosés have white grapes in them, too.) Granted, this may not be the case for a saignée rosé or a rosé made from blending red wine into white (remember: the latter is not legal in the EU, except in Champagne)

Darker, dry rosés may also have some tannins.

Tannins mop up after richer dishes, helping to refresh the palate.

Darker, dry rosés sometimes see some oak barrel aging.

Wines with some new oak barrel aging add a dimension of flavor complexity and start to edge the flavors even further toward new oak-aged red wines.

Wines that spent time in neutral barrels will have a broader palate and possibly a creamier palate (from lees aging) that will blend nicely with more substantial dishes.

Darker, dry rosés can age nicely.

It must be a good wine to start with, of course. But think about some of the older rosés you see on smart wine lists and in cool wine stores, like López de Heredia, Château Musar and Domaine Tempier. They’re not pale pink. (In fairness, some pale pink rosés age well, too, but they do tend to be rarer.)

Aged rosés complement a different flavor spectrum, focusing on tertiaryaromas like of dried fruits, mushrooms, cigar and earth.

Darker, dry rosés make tastier frosé.

Admittedly, this is a guess. I have never made frosé. It just hasn’t appeal to me, but maybe I’ll give it a go this year. I could be missing something! After all, if darker rosés offer more fruit-filled flavor, that should make for a yummier, fruitier frosé, right?

Trade members say they’ve seen a shift in rosé wine drinking, but it seems to be happening only in three arenas. First, it’s seen within a small band of higher-end consumers, what I’d call the 1%-ers of wine. These are the more wine-knowledgeable wine drinkers. Second, as Heini Zacharriassen of Vivino pointed out in a presentation for Wines of Provence last year, they are also seeing it happen in areas with warm or warmer weather year-round. Third, sommeliers in good restaurants in major cities are beginning to list rosés year round – even by the glass. Just the suggestion of rosé by the glass helps to at least get people thinking about it.

But wait, if we talk up rosé drinking year round, white wine will suffer, right? No! Why can’t the pie become bigger, bringing in more wine drinkers or having people enjoy rosé when they might not have had wine otherwise? Also, darker, lusher rosés may lure I-only-drink-red-wine drinkers into the rosé category. After all, Wine Intelligence reports that in 2017, rosé was the sixth most popular drink reported after red wine, white wine, beer, vodka and whiskey. Prosecco ranked 19th!

What are we waiting for? While we have moved out of the dead of winter in the northern hemisphere, it’s just ahead for the southern hemisphere. Shoulder seasons are the perfect time to talk about the rosé way, all day and all year! Wine drinkers are either looking forward to rosé season just around the corner or thinking of finishing off their last bottles. It’s a perfect time everywhere to be working on weaning consumers from the only-in-the-summer rosé habits. The fact that the whole world could use some sunshine-in-a-glass right now makes the opportunity even brighter.
 


Now that you’re convinced… Check out some of these great rosés!
MELIS FAMILY 2019 ROSE OF PINOT NOIR, SANTA RITA HILLS
LULI 2018 ROSE OF PINOT & GRENACHE, CENTRAL COAST
SHANE 2018 ROSE OF PINOT NOIR “MA FILLE’ SONOMA COUNTY
LUCIA 2019 “LUCY” ROSE SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS
LORENZA 2019 ROSE (RHONE BLEND)
ARNOT ROBERTS 2018 ROSE (TOURIGA NACIONAL)
CARBONISTE 2018 ROSE OF PINOT SPARKLING
ALLIMANT LAUGNER CREMANT ROSE D’ALSACE
DOMAINE VARINELLES DAHEUILLER CRÉMANT DE LOIRE ROSÉ NV
DOSNON ROSE BRUT RECOLTE, CHAMPAGNE FRANCE

As always, if there is anything that we can do to help with your selections, please do not hesitate do give me a call at 415-337-4083 or email frank@GoldenGateWineCellars.com

APRIL FOOLS… NOT! A Heidi Barrett White Wine???

The only white wine from La Sirena, this Moscato is an unusual, delicious dry (not sweet) expression of Muscat Canelli. In its signature blue bottle, Moscato Azul has become a fan favorite for its drinkability, perfumey aroma, crisp acidity, and ability to pair well with many different dishes. It’s especially perfect during the spring and summer time on warm days.
 
La Sirena 2019 Moscato Azul
GGWC 29.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more
Use code AZUL during checkout

The 2019 is a clear white-gold color, with vibrant clean aromas of bright tropical fruit and jasmine -honeysuckle floral notes. Crisp and round across the palate, with flavors of pineapple, lychee fruit, and white nectarine. It has a clean finish with bright acidity, and an elegant, polished profile. The Moscato Azul, La Sirena’s proprietary white wine recognizable by its unique style and consistency each year. Reminiscent of dry Riesling with a bit of minerality and lime peel in the finish when served very chilled. It has tons of flavor without weightiness, enticingly fresh and lively, crisp and dry in the finish.

Robert Parker says: “A wine that Heidi Barrett does better than just about anybody in California is her unbelievably fun Moscato Azul. Reminiscent of northern Italy’s famous Moscatos. A slow cold fermentation renders a wine with an explosive perfume of spring flowers and tropical fruits. This is an ideal aperitif or breakfast wine, or it can be enjoyed at the end of a meal”  And… “Barrett has hit pay dirt with a lively, consumer-friendly dry Muscat It’s a shame more California wineries don’t produce these wines.. It is fresh, light bodied, and crisp, seductive aromatics”

Actor Alan Rickman, of Bottle Shock fame, once remarked that “it was the most delicious thing ever to pass through his lips”. Can’t argue with that
 
Also be sure to check out:
LA SIRENA 2016 CABERNET SAUVIGNON, NAPA VALLEY    
LA SIRENA 2015 PIRATE TREASURRED, NAPA VALLEY
LA SIRENA 2016 CHARDONNAY, RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY

BARRETT & BARRETT 2016 CABERNET SAUVIGNON, NAPA

Click on any of the links above, email frank@ggwc.com, or call 415-337-4083 to place your order!

Virtual Tasting Kickoff!

Dear Friends,

 


As announced last week, starting May 1, we will commence with our first Virtual Wine Tasting. The “event” will start at 4 PM PST.  The first winery we will be hosting is CATTLEYA.  We will meet with owner/winemaker Bibiana Gonzalez Rave Pisoni, who will help me lead the tasting from her winery.  That way you’ll get a glimpse of the day-to-day of her winery as well.

In order to participate you will need to purchase the three-pack of her wine immediately so we can ship it out in time for our “Inaugural Virtual Tasting”

The Cattleya 3-pack consists of 1 bottle Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay & Pinot Noir.  The cost is 145.00, plus shipping.  Since it is our FIRST ZOOM session, I will lower the cost to 129.99, plus shipping instead!  After the purchase we will email you an access code to the Virtual tasting.

Bibiana was our Winemaker of the Year (2019).  She is a very talented lady, having worked at Pahlmeyer, Wayfarer and many others around the globe.
 

If you want to participate on May 1st, I need your order by no later than Monday April 27 by 11 AM PST (no exceptions)
CLICK HERE to place your order

 
VIRTUAL CALENDAR (Every Friday at 4 PM PST, we will feature 3 or 4 wines)

  • May 8 – B. Kosuge with Byron Kosuge Winemaker 
    ~ wines need to be purchased by no later than May 1 in order to participate~ 
  • May 15 – Senses Thomas Rivers Brown winemaker & Chris Steiter Partner/Asst. Winemaker
    ~ wines need to be purchased by no later than May 8 in order to participate
  • May 22 – Sans Liege  with Curt S. Winemaker 
    ~ wines need to be purchased by no later than May 15 in order to participate~ 
  • May 29 – Herman Story with Russell From Winemaker 
    ~ wines need to be purchased by no later than May 22 in order to participate~ 

I look forward to finally meeting some you in person, even if it is “online.”

I recommend to call or email me about our ZOOM WINE TASTING sessions and to place your order today so we can ship it immediately, as you don’t want to miss out on this.

A humbled
Patron Saint of (soft) Tannins
St. Frank
415-337-4083
frank@goldengatewinecellars.com
 

Malolactic Fermentation in Reds Wines

Malolactic Fermentation in Reds Wines – Best Explanation Ever

by Jo Diaz, The Wine Blog

Winemaker Patrick Melley of Russian Hill Estate Winery  just answered this question of Malolactic Fermentation. And for wine beginners (or intermediates, like me), this doesn’t get any better. As one of our clients, I get to edit for the winery on occasion. This was one of those times, but only on the technical business writing side for this one. not for winemaking.

In the past on this blog, I’ve discussed Malolactic fermentation, but only as it relates to white wines. For your benefit, I’ve reduced Malolactic fermentation, but only as it applies to white wine. (I’ve never had to explain ML regarding red wines, because I’ve always know it’s just done; no pomp and circumstance necessary… just done.)

So, White Wine and Malolactic Fermentation, According to Jo

It’s as easy as A + B = C


Acid + Bacteria = Cream
(Malic Acid + Bacteria = laCtic Acid, the same acid in Cream and milk.

If you didn’t know, now you’ve no got it.

But, this doesn’t apply to red wine in the same thinking, I’ve just learned… not the same way as it does for white wine. So, what is it about with red wines? Patrick explained to me that it’s different for red wines, because we can’t say they have a “Creamy” texture. They are, however, softened. Patrick’s explanation.

PATRICK MELLEY ~ On Malolactic in Red Wines

It seems that many people are unsure what it is; although, it’s often referred to when discussing wine. It’s commonly referred to as either “ML” or “Malo.”

While most people know about primary fermentation, where yeast converts grape sugar into alcohol with the byproducts of heat and CO2 production, most don’t yet understand the role of Malolactic fermentation.

It’s similar to primary fermentation, in that there’s a biological conversion of one product into another. In the case of “ML,” the process is done by bacteria rather than the yeast, which does the work in primary fermentation. In ML the bacteria will naturally convert the Malic acid, which is found in grapes, into Lactic acid. The bacteria usually work at a slightly slower pace than yeast, so the conversion usually takes longer to finish than that of the primary fermentation.

Some of the reasons that a winemaker wants to convert the malic acid into lactic acid is that it makes the wine have a softer feel. And more important, it makes the wine more stable during its ageing and bottling.

EVER WONDER WHY THERE’S A FIZZINESS IN YOUR WINE?

If there’s remaining malic acid in the wine prior to bottling, the wine can become fizzy during certain conditions, such as exposure to heat. The warmth will activate the bacteria, which is normally in wine, and allow it to begin converting any remaining malic acid into lactic acid. If it happens while in a bottle, the cork will not allow the CO2 gases to escape. When the bottle is opened, it appears to be fizzy due to the trapped CO2.

The whole ML process has some very complex chemistry, and the above explanation is a very broad overview of the process. I hope this helps to get a handle on Malolactic fermentation. In the meantime, keep enjoying Russian River wines!!

So there you have it, straight from “Ask the Winemaker”

They are softer, but we can’t call a red wine creamy, now can we?

Napa’s BEST Post-Prohibition Zin is NOW Totally legal!

The Prohibition Story about Black Chicken: Going back to the early 1900’s … Hey Aldo, when you come by on Friday, bring me a couple pounds of walnuts, some fruit and vegetables, two dozen eggs and a “Black Chicken”. And thus went one of the hundreds of inquiries during prohibition when selling wine was not legal. Aldo Biale called his jugs of Zin a “Black Chicken” to avoid any unwanted attention from regulators. Today Black Chicken is 100% Legal, so you can get sample this legendary creation by name.  Aldo died in 2009, but in his memory the Black Chicken lives on!  If you visit the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History you can even see a image of Aldo with his old punch down stick and a picker’s box!

Biale 2018 Zinfandel “Black Chicken” Napa Valley
GGWC 49.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more
Use code BIALE at checkout

Full of Blackberries, vibrant black cherry, dried berries, maple, brown and black spices, cinnamon and ginger bread. The entry is soft and gives way to supple round tannins with a delectable center and persistence of fruit. The lovely finish is the signature of this elegant, surprisingly feminine, and remarkably balanced Zinfandel that is immediately drinkable and worthy of 5 to 7 more years of cellar time.

Winery Notes: “Sourced from the same family vineyard that Aldo, Nonna, Bob Biale and the Biale family have farmed their whole lives, with additional grapes from our neighboring winery vineyard. The Oak Knoll wine growing region is prevalent in this wine with its ripe aromatics and juicy acidity. The nose is full of vibrant black cherries, raspberries, cinnamon, white cake, fresh purple flowers, and subtle dried herbs. The entry is bright and gives way to supple, round tannins with a kiss of toasted oak. The lovely finish is the signature of this elegant and remarkably balanced Zinfandel.”

Click here or on the links above to order!

Virtual Wine Tastings Coming Shortly!

Dear Friends,

Since we are all sequestered during this Covid19 quarantine we cannot conduct our weekly wine tasting sessions, nor can we go ahead with our planned inauguration tasting of the new gym/multi purpose building at my daughter’s high school.

Plan B – VIRTUAL tastings!

I have lined up a few wineries to kick start our (hopefully short) ONLINE wine tasting experience. The first winery to make its virtual tasting debut will be CATTLEYA & SHARED NOTES (the winery owned by Bibiana Gonazlez Rave, winemaker of the year and her husband Jeff Pisoni). To be followed shortly by Sans Liege, B. Kosuge, Paul Lato, Herman Story, Coho and others like star winemakers Celia Welch and Thomas Rivers Brown.

I will be emailing you the exact dates and times as well as the ZOOM links. In order to participate we just asked that you buy the wines that we will feature during the tasting. Once we ship the wine will provide you with a zoom link.

We are conducting the tastings from the actual wineries, that way you’ll get the real experience – meeting the winemaker, visiting the winery, and tasting his/her wines!

In the meantime, be sure to call or email if you need any assistance selecting wines or with any questions!

I hope you are all excited and I look forward to hearing from you soon!

 

20% OFF 95 Point 4 Barrel “Sleeper” Cabernet

Chuy Ordaz has hand tended the Montecillo Vineyard for over 40 years. These old Cabernet Sauvignon vines seem to nod in respect towards Chuy when he walks by them or when he stops to tuck a shoot or remove a leaf. Chuy remarked about the 2017 vintage, “2017 is classic Montecillo – very good year, very good wine.  We picked all the grapes 1 week before the fires errrupted”.

Vintage Notes: “Tree rings tell the annual tale in the life a tree, whether we were in a drought or a more generous time, energetic and youthful or mature and wise. How do grapevines and their wine tell their story of the vintage. How will 2017 express the Labor Day heat spell and the devastating wine country wildfires. Only days after the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes had been picked the vineyard was surrounded by flames. Fortunately, the vineyard was spared as were most vineyards and homes on Moon Mountain. Going over the vintage with the grapes’ longtime caretaker Chuy Ordaz, he sounded sanguine as he relayed the 50 vintages he’s farmed in the Sonoma valley.”

Camino 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon “Montecillo Vineyard”
Retail 69.99 NOW 55.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more
Use code CAMINO during checkout

(Cannot be combined with “stimulus” discount.)

Winemaker Notes: “The wine in the glass is likewise sanguine, not only in color but in the welcoming aromas and the youthful energy in the fruit and structure. Dark, juicy, and robust like a handful of wild picked blackberries the wine is balanced by soaring aromas of lavender and violets, ending savory with mineral sensations. The wine is suave and refined with persistent yet regal tannins. Bottled with no filtration or fining after 22 months in barrel. The wine promises a long life ahead with many rings of stories to tell.”

Robert Parker 95 Points: “The Camino Cabernet Sauvignon Montecillo from Moon Mountain emerges from a vineyard planted in 1964 on St. George rootstock, hence it was never prone to phylloxera. The vineyard is planted between 800 and 2,000 feet in elevation. This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon has a fabulous nose of charcoal, barbecue smoke, blackberry and cassis with some forest floor and underbrush. It is a big, juicy, concentrated and beautifully textured Cabernet. It is a major sleeper of the vintage, and can be drunk over the next 20-25 years.”


Also check out their amazing PINOT NOIR (also receive  20% OFF – can mix & match with Camino Cab for FREE SHIPPING)
CAMINO 2017 PINOT NOIR “Umino” – Reg. 49.99 NOW 39.99

 

Click here or on the links above to order
Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for priority allocation

A Winemaker and a Billionaire Turn a Bay Area Island Into a Booze Destination

A Winemaker and a Billionaire Turn a Bay Area Island
Into a Booze Destination

The former Mare Island Naval Shipyard is now home to a buzzy distillery
Contributed by Elin McCoy
in Bloomberg Drinks
 
Dave Phinney
Credit: Margaret Pattillo/Savage & Cooke

Napa Valley wiz winemaker Dave Phinney thinks big. Very big.

Premium red-blend trendsetter? Check. Megahit brand builder for labels such as Orin Swift and the Prisoner? Ditto. Iconoclastic entrepreneur in a dozen wine regions around the globe? Yes. 

So far, Phinney, 46, has made more than $150 million from selling those ventures. Now he’s taken on spirits with his Savage & Cooke Distillery, which led to a partnership with billionaire Gaylon Lawrence Jr. to transform the San Francisco Bay Area’s Mare Island into a hip booze destination and a sustainable community for 75,000 people.

“Designing a city from scratch is a little surreal,” he admits over lunch on a cold and sunny day at a Yonkers, N.Y., restaurant overlooking the Hudson River. “At heart I’m still a winemaker.” 

Combining a laid-back Napa wine guy look—close-cropped beard, quilted vest, jeans, and checked shirt—with the intense focus of a business mogul on a tight schedule, Phinney dives into the backstory of how it all went down. 
 

Military officer housing on Mare Island at Vallejo Calif.
An Abandoned Naval Base

Phinney was looking for a winery space in 2015 when someone suggested he take a look at the abandoned historic brick buildings on Mare Island, once home to the first U.S. naval base on the West Coast. The 3.5-mile-by-1-mile island (actually a peninsula) is linked by a causeway to the city of Vallejo on San Pablo Bay, an 80-minute ferry ride from San Francisco and a 20-minute drive from the city of Napa. 

When the U.S. Navy purchased the island in 1853, Commodore David Farragut (famous for shouting: “Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!”) took charge. The last of the clipper ships were repaired in its yard. Its 18-hole golf course is the oldest west of the Mississippi. But in 1996, Congress shuttered the base. The island fell on hard times. 

Smitten by the colorful history, Phinney began leasing buildings in 2016 and decided that instead of housing a winery, they might be better suited for a distillery. Wine distributors had long suggested he could make lots of money with a spirits brand. “But I’m not that motivated by money,” he says with a shrug. 
 

The distillery on Mare Island.  
Credit: Margaret Pattillo/Savage & Cooke

The idea gained steam because he’d discovered in 2014 that his 300-acre farm in Sonoma’s Alexander Valley had amazing natural springs—“like something pumping out of a hose.” A blind water tasting and scientific analysis showed its high mineral content was ideal for spirits. “I started thinking,” he says. “What if we finish whiskey in wine barrels? What if we used heirloom varieties of grain? What if we take a wine approach to spirits?” 

What to call the brand? Looking through old Navy files on Mare Island, two names popped out to him: “Savage” and “Cooke.” 

History of Good Taste
Phinney certainly had the startup funds. 

What made him famous was the Prisoner, an outsider, zinfandel-based lush-textured red blend that made its debut in 2000 with a grim label from a Goya etching showing a shackled prisoner. By 2003 it had a cult following, and in 2010, Phinney sold the brand for $40 million to Huneeus Vintners (which flipped it six years later for $285 million).

But he first made his name with wine brand Orin Swift, which he founded in 1998 and sold to E & J Gallo in 2016 for a reported $100 million. In 2018, Gallo also snapped up his Locations wines—good-value $20 blends from different countries. Phinney still makes the wines, as well as Orin Swift’s.  
 

Spirits aging in wine barrels on Mare Island.
Credit: Margaret Pattillo/Savage & Cooke

Enter Memphis-based billionaire Lawrence, fresh off purchasing Heitz Cellar, one of Napa’s pioneer wineries, in April 2018. (Since then he’s snapped up two more iconic vineyards in the valley.) 

The two met on a Wednesday, hit it off, and that Sunday, Phinney found himself on Mare Island with Lawrence. “His thinking was much bigger than mine,” he says. With real estate broker Sebastian Lane, they formed the Nimitz Group to acquire land and develop it. As of last November, they’d locked up more than 800 acres, including the golf course, according to the Vallejo city manager’s office. 

A Tasty Tourist Attraction

As a booze destination, the island was already on its way, starting with a brewery.

Production, tours, and tastings at Savage & Cooke followed last year. The tasting space has a salvaged feel—rough concrete walls, iron girders, old Navy office chairs, and a collection of antique chains on the wall. A glass case full of rounds of ammunition and a bust of Mao Zedong sit beside the bar. Adjoining spaces hold neat rows of aging barrels and polished copper stills. 

The success of Phinney’s wines and spirits owes a lot to their bold flavors, rich texture, and edgy, sometimes downright weird labels and catchy outré names. 
 

From left: The Burning Chair Bourbon, Lip Service Rye, Second Glance American Whiskey.
Credit: Margaret Pattillo/Savage & Cooke

So far, Savage & Cooke has released two tequilas made in Mexico, an American whiskey, a bourbon, and a rye, all finished in Phinney’s wine barrels. They’re presented in opaque black bottles with avant-garde photography on the labels. Phinney is already planning a gin using botanicals from Mare Island. 

What’s next for Mare Island? Jason West, a spokesman for Lawrence, injects a note of cautious reality: “We’re still getting our arms around the project. You have to own it first before you can do a real feasibility study.” 

But Phinney is holding on to his vision— a winery for some of his wines, a fried chicken restaurant, a coffee roaster, artists’ studios, even an artisanal shotgun business using walnut for the stocks from trees on one of his Napa properties. Will it all work? 

Based on his track record, it’s a good bet.
 


Want to experience some of Dave Phinney’s phenomenal wines? Head over to GoldenGateWineCellars.com, give us a call at 415-337-4083, or email Frank@GoldenGateWineCellars.com and we’ll help you out!

25% OFF & FREE SHIPPING on a Sexy Big Red by Thomas Rivers Brown!

TRB does not need any intro – “Mister 100 Point Wine”, “Mister I make wine for 20+ wineries”, “Mister I really know how to make great wine”, and so on… Any more accolades needed?

Mending Wall 2015 Mortar & Stone Proprietary Red, Napa Valley 
Retail 55.00 – NOW 42.00
FREE SHIPPING on a FULL CASE with code MORTAR25 during checkout

(Cannot be combined with STIMULUS code)

The second coming of Mortar & Stone is a revelation. Across the Napa Valley, 2015 produced tiny amounts of small grape clusters with highly concentrated flavors. Although yield was down considerably compared to the preceding textbook vintages, fruit quality was swoon worthy, with dense flavors and heightened tannic expression.  The Zinfandel from high atop Atlas Peak is robust, showy mountain fruit. Vines in the historic Mountain Peak vineyard produce some of the most impressive berries we’ve seen in this varietal, nicely structured and spicy rather than super jammy. That spice component pairs beautifully with the final vintage of our estate Syrah. Once again, the venerable Palisades Vineyard Petite Sirah completes the blend, lending tannic backbone and deep, black color.

Robert Parker deemed this wine sexy, and we heartily agree. It has a seductive appeal—dark, sultry, moody in the very best ways—with good balance between earthy inputs and luscious fruit notes. The wine also has enormous aging potential. Those who drink it young will want to decant it for a few hours. Putting a few bottles away to revisit in five or ten years will reward those who can wait.
 

Click here or on the links above to order!
Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@GoldenGateWineCellars.com for priority allocation