Jeff Pisoni’s “FINEST” Lucia Garys Pinot EVER – 96 POINTS

The Pisoni family has been farming Monterey County soil since the turn of the 19th century, when their ancestors immigrated to California. In 1951, Eddie and Jane Pisoni founded Pisoni Farms, a commercial produce operation in the Salinas Valley. They purchased land in 1979 high above the valley floor to graze cattle. At the time, this seemed all it was suited for. But their son Gary had other ambitions for the highland property. He wanted to make wine.

His parents said he was nuts for wanting to plant grapes and that people go broke looking for water. This all may have been partly true. In 1982, with no water source, Gary planted his first five-acre vineyard block on an east-facing slope at 1,300 feet. After eight years of searching, he finally discovered groundwater beneath hundreds of feet of granite. He planted another seventeen acres to Pinot Noir, and it wasn’t long before California artisan winemakers started lining up to buy his grapes.

The first vintage of Lucia debuted in 2000 with the Lucia Pinot Noir from the Garys’ Vineyard. It was the beginning of a new chapter for the Pisoni family, with Mark and Jeff Pisoni joining their father Gary to pursue a shared dream of building the family wine business and adding winemaking to grape growing.

Today, with Mark as grower and Jeff as winemaker, Lucia wines are considered among the finest in California. In the Wine Advocate, Jeb Dunnuck wrote: “The Pisoni Family’s Lucia label continues to be a source of incredible wines that always over-deliver.”

Lucia 2018 Garys’ Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands
GGWC 72.99
Use code LUCIA18 during checkout

Jeb Dunnuck 96 POINTS: The 2018 Pinot Noir Garys’ Vineyard is a little more dense, focused, and tight, with beautiful black cherry and currant fruits as well as notes of camphor, new leather, violets, and earthy notes. I love its balance. Medium to full-bodied, it has nicely integrated acidity, subtle oak, and a great finish. It’s going to keep for 7-8 years, easily. Along with the 2016, it’s the finest vintage of this release I’ve tasted!

Jeff Pisoni (winemaker) Notes: “True to form, the 2018 Lucia Garys’ Vineyard Pinot Noir yet again stands up to meet its lofty reputation as one of the most highly regarded sites for Pinot Noir in the Santa Lucia Highlands. Starting in the glass with an unyielding dark ruby hue from its rim to its core, this wine flaunts its youth with aromas of black cherry, ripe plum, and citrus blossom. Taking advantage of a near perfect growing season, the vines ripened their clusters slowly and consistently, setting the stage for a wine of notable purity, complexity, and structure. Dark berry and graphite notes weave together with bright, lively acidity and soft, supple tannin to form a final seamlessly integrated finish. A remarkable combination of meticulous winemaking in an ideal vintage, this Pinot Noir is wonderful at the moment, but will age gracefully for years.”

Also check out:

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Top Sommelier’s 5 BARREL, 94 POINTS SYRAH GEM


My great friend John Lancaster, sommelier and GM at the venerable Boulevard Restaurant and his buddy Rob Perkins have been making Skylark for some years now, and their latest Rodgers Creek Syrah is one of those below the radar gems – great quality, small quantity and most of all great price point 

Skylark 2016 Syrah “Rodgers Creek” Sonoma
GGWC 44.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more
Use code SKYLARK during checkout

Jeb Dunnuck 94 Points: From a great vineyard in Sonoma, the 2016 Syrah Rodgers Creek Vineyard was 75% destemmed and spent 20 months in barrels. Côte Rôtie-like notes of spiced black raspberries, cured meats, ground pepper, and flowers all emerge from the glass of this medium to full-bodied red, which has a core of sweet fruit and a great finish.
Winery Notes: “We picked Rodgers Creek on September 30, the first time pre-October in our history for this cool climate vineyard. After 24 months in the barrel, we bottled this beauty unfined and unfiltered. With its unique site and clonal material, Rodgers Creek once again makes a strong statement for terroir on the Sonoma Coast hillsides.

Tasting Notes: “Opaque. Layers of aromas starting with olive tapenade, raspberry, blackberry, white pepper and a suggestion of forest floor from the whole clusters. The palate is ripe and silky, with the blue fruits turning textural and creamy. A dash of white pepper and inner mouth perfume of violet bring a savory complexity to the long and satisfying finish.”

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96 Point, Seductive, 200 case Chardonnay = MUST HAVE!


This comes from more than 20-year-old vines that are farmed by the Ulises Valdez family and planted 75% to Old Wente and 25% to Robert Young clone. It was barrel fermented and aged for 18 months in 100% Burgundian oak, 50% new. It went through 100% malolactic. The Chardonnay UV Vineyard reveals lovely ripe pears, fresh nectarines and green guava notes with hints of orange blossoms, honeycomb and shaved almonds plus a touch of nutmeg. Medium to full-bodied, that palate has a beautiful satiny texture and loads of expressive stone fruit and tropical flavors, finishing long and spicy.

Carte Blanche 2018 Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast
GGWC 74.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more
Use code CB18CHD during checkout

Winemaker Notes: This infamous vineyard, owned and farmed by the one and only, Ulises Valdez, is home to the longtime prized clones of Wente and Robert Young Chardonnay. The wine is comprised of both clones, 75% Wente and 25% Robert Young, providing everything we love about Chardonnay – depth, weight, finesse, brightness – all fittingly strung together in seamless harmony. The vineyard is six miles from the Pacific Ocean and contains a unique mix of sand and clay – the “Sebastopol Clays.” The 2018 UV Vineyard Chardonnay lures you in with a seductive nose of roasted hazelnut, brioche, lemon curd, Asian pear, white lily and baked pastry crust.  An ultra-silky entry, a beam of acidity carries through to the finish. Plush and broad, this wine shows layers of white flowers, lemon curd, pastry flour, toasted hazelnut, and honey in an everlasting finish.  200 cases produced.

Jeb Dunnuck 96 Points: “These Carte Blanche releases are made by the incredibly talented Helen Keplinger. Her Chardonnay UV Vineyard offers a beautiful stone fruit and citrus quality as well as more Chablis-like minerality, oyster shell and fresh cream notes. Beautifully balanced, incredibly pure, and vibrant on the palate, it’s a no brainer purchase that’s up with the crème de la crème of Chardonnay from California. It will keep for over a decade.”

Also, check out these other gems:
Carte Blanche 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon – 97 Points
Keplinger 2018 Sumo Proprietary Red
Keplinger 2018 Lithic Proprietary Red

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3 x 98 Points = Pretty Perfect Cabernet I’d say… JUMP ON THIS NOW!


Brothers Georges and Daniel Daou embarked on a journey of conviction. It began with a belief that their DAOU Mountain estate would one day produce some of the most profound wines imaginable. With Patrimony, that promise has been fulfilled. It is the destiny of this land, and the masterwork of those who shepherd it.

Patrimony 2016 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
GGWC 274.99 
FREE SHIPPING on 3 or more
Use code PATRIMONY during checkout

Jeb Dunnuck 98+ Points: “What can be considered the flagship of the estate, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is a sensational Cabernet Sauvignon that can stand up the best out there. Incredibly pure notes of cassis, spice box, graphite, lead pencil shavings, and a terrific sense of minerality all flow from this pure Paso Robles beauty that shows the quality that can be achieved from these magical limestone soils. Full-bodied and powerful, yet seamless and balanced, enjoy bottles over the coming 15-20 years or more.

Robert Parker 98 Points: “The 2016 Patrimony is made of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and aged 30 months in 100% new French oak. It has a deep purple-black color and explosive, unbelievably layered nose of lilacs, violets, vanilla, espresso, rooibos tea leaves, underbrush and cinnamon stick aromas mingling over a core of blueberry compote, blackberry pie, black cherry preserves and pure blackcurrant fruit with an undercurrent of iron and graphite. The medium to full-bodied palate gives up stunningly explosive flavor layers. It has an unbelievably ripe, pixelated frame and fantastic juiciness, finishing very long, lifted and layered. This is stunning.”

Vinous 98 Points: “Bright purple. Sexy, expansive aromas of dark berry preserves, cherry-cola, cured tobacco, smoky oak and vanilla are complemented by exotic spice and floral top notes. Smooth, broad, alluringly sweet cassis, cherry and floral pastille flavors show outstanding depth and energy, with a suave spice cake note emerging with aeration. The cherry and floral notes resonate on a wonderfully long, seamless finish that features youthful tannins and lingering spiciness. (aged in new French oak barrels for 30 months)”

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Byron Kosuge has been making wine for over 3 decades now. He honed his skills at various great wineries in California and France.  While working in Carneros he befriended two guys who ran a vineyard management company.  When they planted a small vineyard next to their work shop, Byron came up with the name “The Shop” and the rest (almost 20 years later) is history. Byron has created a good following for his brand, and so have many of my customers.  The 2017 Pinot Noir is truly amazing and a great wine for your Buck!

B Kosuge 2017 Pinot Noir The Shop, Carneros
Retail 40.00 – GGWC 36.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more
Use shipping code SHOP during check out

The wine emerges from the glass with dark red stone fruit a hint of spice, nuttiness and licorice. This is lush and fleshy, Pinot Noir that is loaded with class and pedigree. The wine is medium to full in body and flavor and finishes long and strong.

Winemaker Notes: The 2017 The Shop Carneros Pinot Noir is in some ways a throwback to the riper, juicier style of the early Shop wines, but that is a product of the hot 2017 vintage, rather than a change in style. I continue to pursue a fresher, more vibrant style for this wine in particular, and 2017 was no exception. Aged in a combination of concrete and neutral oak.

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Hand harvesting isn’t the half of it

Hand harvesting isn’t the half of it

by Hannah Fuellenkemper

I hate the hoorah implied by ‘hand-picked’. I hate it more round about the fourth-plus week of repetitive vineyard work. At the worst of times in the vines, ‘bored’ is an understatement. But ‘hand-picked’ is a misrepresentation. Not everything is blockbuster work but everything is done by hand — and once you’ve completed one task, in a couple weeks you’ll be back at the same vine again.

Importers and sales people talk about the love and attention paid around harvest because they can sell the immediate result: the wine. But when, like a tick, you’re stuck headfirst into the flesh of it, your focus is the balancing act of coaxing vs controlling the vine.

Harvest isn’t even the most gratifying work. With everything happening at once there’s no time for that. With all the people, the drinking, the cleaning. The no-sleeping. The sun, the stress. The late nights listening to the drip drip of the press. The logistics. More drinking. The lifting of zillions of caisse.

To heart-flutter at hand-picked is to ignore everything but an artist’s great works.

And yet harvest, shortened to sun hats and siestes, is the pipe we pass around: the hard slog everyone knows about. But I suspect if they knew the rest I would receive far fewer messages from people telling me I’m “living their dream life”.

Life is not all summer. To focus only on harvest is just to eat steak. To heart-flutter at hand-picked is to ignore everything but an artist’s great works. To forget the bread and butter and the sketchbooks that got them there. I tell myself that the weeks I spend working in the vines are much the same.

Along with pruning, two of the tasks below are already bien fait and there’s only four more weeks of the last. Then there’s just a whole lot more equally repetitive work before it’s harvest time again.

1. Tirer les bois
Number two on your annual to-do if you cane prune (la taille Guyot) and number one on my list of work I don’t like. When you ‘tires les bois’ you do what it says on the tin, this being a tin where the list of ingredients spells misery. To tire is to pull last year’s cut wood (les sarments) from the wires which might sound harmless to you – and it did to me too after two months of pruning, but I changed my mind about 10 minutes in.

Tirer les bois is French for ‘war’. Those cute tendrils that teased your hair when they were wasabi green are now iron wire. They no longer tease but cling: desperately and absolutely and back-wrenchingly as you pull down, pivot and twist. If they do release it is often with the force of a stinging whip into your, or your partner’s face which you are already fully occupied trying not to burn as you wheel a cut-open oil drum full of spitting fire and white-hot sticks.

Just as the vines’ sap foams and froths in the heat, your eyelashes, your fingers through leather gloves, your fleece and your feet despite your rubber soles will get singed. I still have burns across my wrists.

2.  Liege 
Liege is the gentle cracking and then attaching of the baguette (cane) to the wire. It’s scary, because when you break the wood not only will there be no fruit, but everyone will know about it thanks to your mistake being broadcast by a loud SNAP. It’s best done in the rain thus you are inevitably working in the rain. It presents yet another opportunity for the wood to whip you in the face.

Liege is, along with bottling, the most toothpaste top-twisting boring factory work I can think of in the vines, and that’s bearing in mind that when bottling you actually do feed a machine.

3.  Ébourgeonnage 
Vine work is circular: you need to have experienced the next process to appreciate how to do the task that comes before. The year starts with pruning, but perhaps it would be better for a trainee to start with ébourgeonnage. I didn’t, and in my second week of my second year I’m still cringing at the things I should have known last January.

To ébourgeonner is to remove all the growth you don’t want, leaving only the green infrastructure you pruned to grow. Intellectually, it’s as easy as your understanding of the system of pruning. Mentally it hurts to know that you were here, bent over at this exact same spot not even two months ago.

It’s not all same-same. Last year I cut my thumb so badly with the hooked blade I was locked out of my touch ID. The Merlot I’m working in now however, no knife, is a total push over. Poulsard is fine-china fragile and Grenache with its Goblet fists is punk-tough fibrous with leaves that almost cut. The lower back strain is always the same, as is the dilemma about whether to transfer this pain by getting down on your knees.

But I shouldn’t complain. Certainly not as this week it’s actually been raining and I’m looking forward to getting out again. Because that’s the thing: the vines give meaning to a life as simple as work hard, feel tired, eat, drink, sleep, repeat.

Maybe I am living the dream.

Solid, Dollar-Cost-Average GREAT Value Napa Cabernet


Turnbull has been rooted in the culture and history of the Napa Valley for more than 35 years. Operating out of a small building from the original estate winery in Oakville, they stand for exceptional quality and a true Napa Valley wine experience, as it should be.  This Cabernet is true Dollar-Cost-Value priced!

Turnbull 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Regular $59.99 – Now 49.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more!
Use code TURNBULL during checkout

Dusted blackberries, plums, and dark fruit tones coalesce into a wide expanse of engaging freshness and vibrancy. Creamy tannins tell a story of a layered and complex wine. Brilliant raspberry reduction, Rainier cherry, and cassis unfold in waves through the mid-palate to its impressive, well-tiered finish. This 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon is truly symphonic in its progression of flavor, density, power, and lift.

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Carte Blanche Cabernet = The Haut Brion from Napa, 97 Points

After the great  success with her own Keplinger label, Helen Keplinger is out of control (in a very good way)! The latest release of the 2017 Carte Blanche Cabernet showcases Helen’s amazing talents.  Only a few hundred cases of this mind boggling wine were produced from this “next” Haut Brion of the Napa Valley!  This wine over-delivers and the 97 points is 3 points shy of what it deserves!

The Dillon family has been in the wine business for nearly a century, since Nick Allen’s great grandfather, Clarence Dillon, acquired Chateau Haut-Brion in 1935 and the family company, Domaine Clarence Dillon subsequently purchased Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion in 1983. This was Nick’s inspiration to produce his own boutique label in Napa – Carte Blanche.

Carte Blanche 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon “Beckstoffer” Napa Valley
GGWC 154.99
FREE SHIPPING on 4 or more
Use code CARTEBLANCHE during checkout

Jeb Dunnuck 97 Points: “Even better, the 100% varietal 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon boasts a deep purple color as well as full-bodied aromas and flavors of blackcurrants, unsmoked tobacco, chocolate, and earth. This ripe, sexy, opulent beauty has sweet tannins, a great mid-palate, and a great, great finish. It competes with wines 2-3 times the price.

Helen Keplinger (winemaker) Notes: “The 2017 Carte Blanche Beckstoffer Missouri Hopper Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is 100% varietal makeup. Sitting in the southwest corner of Oakville and at the base of the Mayacamas, Missouri Hopper Vineyard, owned by Andy Beckstoffer, is the home of our Cabernet Sauvignon. Stunning color in the glass, an electrifying nose showcases black currants, cassis, cigar box, and red fruit.  The palate is opulent, plush, and structured with integrated sweet tannins showcasing notes of dark blackberry, black cherry, and bittersweet chocolate dance through an everlasting and strong finish. Enjoyable now with air and built for cellar aging.”

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BAR NONE – The Best Jeff Pisoni Syrah To Date (96 Points ~ sadly only 5 barrels produced)


Garys’ Vineyard is named for grape-growing partners Gary Pisoni and Gary Franscioni, both of whom come from multi-generational farming families in the Salinas Valley. The Garys, like their parents before them, grew up together.

Located in the heart of the Santa Lucia Highlands on sandy loam soil, the esteemed fifty-acre vineyard is planted mostly to Pinot Noir, with a small allotment of Syrah. Given its proximity to Monterey Bay, fog blankets the Garys’ Vineyard throughout most of the summer months, providing the right conditions for a cool, slow-ripening season. Steve Heimoff of Wine Enthusiast praises Garys’ Vineyard for its “fabulous terroir,” which yields “wines of impeccable balance and lushness.”

Lucia 2018 Garys’ Vineyard Syrah, Santa Lucia Highlands
GGWC 64.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more
Use code LUCIA during checkout

A shimmering darkness at its near black core, the 2018 Lucia Garys’ Vineyard Syrah exudes richness. Classically Syrah in every aspect, this wine strikes a powerful balance in both purity of fruit, and dried, savory notes. With each swirl in the glass, blueberry and blackberry tart rush forward, opening the door for complex notes of licorice, clove, and new leather, to deliver a flowering bouquet of concentrated aromatics. Ample use of whole clusters during fermentation combined with aging in 132–gallon puncheon barrels adds structure, and well-integrated tannin to an already age-worthy wine. Not to be outdone, fresh, vibrant acidity born from the fog drenched Santa Lucia Highlands provides a long finish to every sip.

Jeb Dunnuck 96 Points: ”Moving to the three Syrah releases, the 2018 Garys’ Vineyard is a dead ringer for a Côte Rôtie with its ripe framboise, crushed stone, peppery herbs, violets, green olive, and spring flower aromas and flavors. Beautifully balanced, medium to full-bodied, with ripe tannins and good acidity, give bottles a year or two and enjoy over the following decade.”

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Golden Gate Wine Cellars 15th Anniversary SPECIAL DISCOUNTS

I can’t believe it but we are blowing out 15 candles this week!

On October 18, 2005 I officially opened my store ~ Golden Gate Wine Cellars! 

I am so humbled, and thankful that I am still here, and hopefully for many
more years! I want to say THANK YOU to all of you. Thank you for
your loyalty, support and most of all your friendship.

The biggest THANK YOU goes to my wife Crystal, and amazing daughters
Milayna & Angelina for their unwavering love and support, I could
not have done it without you!

As a big THANK YOU to all you –  TODAY ALL wines* will be offered at 10% OFF.  
When placing an order online, use the code 15ANNI at checkout to receive your discount.


Click here, call 415-337-4083, or email to order!

*10% off cannot be combined with other existing discounts.