Really “ONE OF THE BEST” UNDER $100 Napa Cabernets

It started in 1914 when Eliza & Mads Peterson purchased a 100-acre property in the Napa Valley. It hosted a small Zinfandel vineyard, but with the onset of Prohibition in 1920, prunes became the cash crop. It remained an orchard, large vegetable garden and also hosted numerous farm animals.  Not until the 1990s was the orchard replaced by vines again. The current Peterson generation has been growing Petite Sirah, Cabernet and Merlot on the property. Under the guidance of ace-winemaker Robert Foley, the Petersons have been producing amazing wine from the property called “Switchback Ridge” named for the winding trails in the hills above the vineyard. Today Kelly Peterson continues the legacy that began with her great-grandfather, Mads 105 years ago.  Her daughter Ashley is being groomed to take over the reins one of these days as well.

2018 Vintage Notes by Robert Foley & Kelly Peterson:

Switchback Ridge’s 20th Anniversary Vintage! The 2018 vintage has been referred to as an epic “Goldilocks vintage”, with the growing season being compared to that of 2012–a year many vintners and winemakers consider the benchmark for both quality and quantity. The growing season began in February with abundant rainfall, allowing plenty of water to be readily available throughout the spring.    Summer was “not too hot and not too cool, but just right”, without any significant weather events or heat spikes to report.    We experienced an extended fall season    with moderate    heat, which resulted in longer hang time that allowed the fruit to fully develop and accumulate optimal flavor complexity. The fruit was some of our best to date and the resulting 2018 wines are spectacular!    They are rich and dense with incredible color and texture.They are beautifully balanced and complex, yet they are delightfully bright and elegant.    

2018 Switchback Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Peterson Family Vineyard
GGWC 99.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more!
Use code SWITCH during checkout

Intense dark fruit aromas of black cherry and black currant indicate the ripeness and purity of this beautiful Cabernet. Full-bodied, stunningly concentrated and powerful, yet still elegant and seamless The structural framework is sturdy, while tannin grips very gently, carrying the fruit flavors with a trace of vanilla into a long, graceful finish. 

Winemaker Notes: A rich, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon with captivating aromas of blackberry, black cherry and dark currant.  These flavors continue onto the palate    with just a trace of cocoa vanilla and deliver a mouth-coating explosion of flavor! The tannins are abundant, yet chewy and ripe, and resolve in a long, elegant finish.

Also check out these other Switchback Gems:

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CAUTION: Content is now 100% “legal” but habit forming!

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 a sample of 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 an image of Aldo with his old punch down stick and a picker’s box!

FYI: May 13th is the actual 21st ‘legal’ birthday of the Black Chicken Zinfandel. The first official release was the 1999 vintage, although Bob Biale’s father Aldo began bottling it originally in 1943! The punch-down stick and picker’s box that he used in those early decades of production are currently on display at the Food and Wine exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C

Biale 2019 Zinfandel “Black Chicken” Napa Valley
GGWC 51.99
Use code BIALE during checkout

Sourced primarily from Biale’s estate vineyards in the Oak Knoll district, this wine is round and plush with a gentle grip of perfectly ripe tannins. A spectrum of red and dark fruits– raspberries, cherries, blackberries, bright vivid aromas, fine-grained texture, star anise,  black and white pepper, cocoa, subtle nuanced oak. Age worthy, compelling, decadent: a beautifully proportioned Napa Valley Zinfandel.

Winery Notes: “A long, warm summer and mild finish to the season. The beginning of the 2019 growing season was defined by copious rainfall and late soil moisture. The season saw very few extreme heat events, with foggy mornings setting the stage for vibrant and expressive wines. The relatively mild finish to the season, not without its moments of unpredictability, helped to preserve freshness and finesse in the fruit with abundant hang time teasing out great color, structure and soft tannins. Volume is looking to be about average to a little less than average. All in all, exceptional fruit with bright acidity and ample texture promises an amazing vintage.”

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In 1998 Joey Tensley launched Tensley Wines with one hundred cases and one single goal – to start a well-priced, Syrah-driven brand that let the unique vineyards of Santa Barbara County speak for themselves. The rest as they say… is history!

I love the new Syrah Colson Canyon, a classic Tensley Syrah with its plum and darker fruits, peppery herbs, olive, and savory meatiness. Possessing full-bodied richness, impressive purity of fruit, and a big finish, it’s another winner that will keep for 10-15 years.

Tensley 2019 Syrah Colson Canyon Santa Barbara
GGWC 44.99
Use code TENSLEY during checkout

Winemaker Notes: “The 2019 Tensley Colson Canyon Vineyard Syrah is elegant, showing perfumed notes of violets on the nose but it also packs a punch with its smoked meat notes, deep purple fruits and notes of graphite and pepper. The light touch of new oak balances the chocolate of the wine with notes of vanilla. This wine is rich and approachable now. It can also age beautifully over the next 12 years.”

Jeb Dunnuck 96 Points: ” A more elegant, perfumed, floral wine from this site, the 2019 Syrah Colson Canyon offers Côte Rôtie-like black raspberry, violets, spring flowers, and gamey, meat-driven aromatics. Medium to full-bodied and beautifully textured, with a kiss of background oak, it’s going to show nicely right out of the gate yet also have two decades of longevity.”

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Pickpocket this wine, you will not get punished, you’ll get rewarded with… FREE SHIPPING

Owner and Winemaker Curt Schalchlin has been producing high-quality Rhone blends at a very respectable price level for years. Curt worked for some of the best winemakers in industry and went solo about over a decade ago, and the rest is history. Today Sans Liege has a worldwide fan base among my clients, as far as Japan, Europe and South America.  The 2018 Sans Liege “The Pickpocket” Grenache is by far the best release to date!

Sans Liege 2018 Grenache “Pickpocket” Santa Barbara
GGWC 49.99
Use code SANSLIEGE during checkout

Winemaker Tasting Notes: “The small box, ornately carved from sandalwood, is tucked safely away inside a suede bag. He recognized its value and took it when no one was looking. Turning down a dirt road lined with raspberry brambles he looks in the rearview. No one – he smiles to himself and takes a sip birch beer. The windows are down and the late afternoon air smells of cinnamon, anise and slate. Dust rises behind him now – there’s a car – the chase is on.”

Vineyard Sites: 50% Derby, 17% Bien Nacido Vineyard, 17% Spanish Springs, 12% Jack Creek, 4% Slide Hill.

Also check out these other great wines made by Curt:
Sans Liege 2018 “The Offering” GSM
Sans Liege 2019 Côtes du Coast, White Blend
Groundwork 2019 Grenache Blanc 
Sans Liege 2018 Prophetess

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California meets Italy… a bargain white that will dazzle your wallet and please your palate


This is only the sixth  vintage of Annia made by 100 Point winemaker Dan Petroski (the genius behind Larkmead’s success). There is a story that George Vare liked to tell us about Ribolla, according to the late, great Stanko Radikon, Ribolla is the consummate supporting actor when blended into a wine under the 50% threshold. at that minority level, the grape will truly morph into the background, providing the floors, the walls and the ceiling for the other grapes to adorn. in the 2020 Annia, the Ribolla in the wine is flattering; stone fruit and baked apple with green almond on the palate that plays off the Tocai’s citrus blossom and pear skin. The 12% of Hyde Chardonnay in the blend tightens the wine a bit, but in reality it just steps aside and gives the two Friulian varieties a stage to play on; however, expect the Chardonnay to get involved as the wine ages. 

Massican 2020 Annia White Blend, Napa Valley
Reg. 39.99 – NOW 34.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more!
Use code MASSICAN during checkout

This is a fun Italian varietal inspired barrel-fermented and -aged white from a famous grower site in Carneros, which does justice to its soulful sense of place. Brioche and nutmeg aromas lead to a mid palate of succulent green apple, pear and oak, with lifted, bright and layered acidity. Complex and completely delicious, it remains focused and balanced throughout.

Winemaker Notes: “ Our flagship white wine blend sourced from small vineyards around the Napa Valley. The three grape varietals, Tocai Friulano 61%, Ribolla Gialla 27%, Chardonnay 12%, are harvested separately and fermented independently in French Oak and stainless steel tanks until blending six weeks before bottling. The Tocai and Ribolla build the aroma and flavor profile of the wine, while the Chardonnay adds to the wine’s structure. The wine is fresh and subtle and fulfills the promise set forth years ago to bottle memorable white wines, unique amongst the whites of California.”

Some fun facts from the winery for the calorie counters:
Gluten Free:  Yes
Vegan: Yes 
Calories per 100/ml:  72.4 
Calories per Glass (5oz):  113 
Carbohydrates g/100ml:  1.8 
Carbs per Bottle 13.5 
Carbs per Glass (5oz) 2.8 

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The “New” Rules for Wine Pairing

The “New” Rules for Wine Pairing

By Dwight Furrow
in Food and Wine Aesthetics
Bianca Sanon’s article in Eater entitled “It’s Time to Forget the Old Rules of Wine Pairing” gets off on the wrong foot but ends up making excellent points anyway.

There is a long history of the all-knowing wine guru telling you that you absolutely must have X with Y. Sommelier courses like the Wine and Spirit Education Trust train and test students on traditional, tried-and-true pairings, maximizing the enjoyment of food and wine. This skill is among the most important components of the sommelier’s expertise, a supposedly quantifiable measurement that, in reality, is completely subjective.

Hmm. Not exactly. There are “tried and true” pairings that any somm should know because they work and have worked for decades. Grilled Steak with a rich, tannic, Cabernet Sauvignon; Stilton cheese and LBV Port; lobster with drawn butter and Chardonnay—there is widespread agreement about these among amateurs and professionals alike. If they were “completely subjective” there would be no such agreement. However, what is subjective is that we all have personal preferences that influence whether we enjoy a particular pairing or not. If you like lobster and Chardonnay, then you will enjoy their combination. If you don’t like lobster you probably won’t.

However, she is right that there is no “secret formula” that will “unlock the full potential of a dish.” There are no formulas, secret or otherwise. Pairing wine and food is a matter of finding a match between an individual wine, and individual dish (which likely won’t be the product of a traditional recipe), and an individual person with their distinctive preferences and sensitivities. Cabernet Sauvignon and grilled steak might be a great pairing but it doesn’t follow that any Cabernet will work with any grilled steak, especially when you have to consider the sauce or other ingredients on the plate. Generalizations are just not going to apply.

When you add to this particularity the way we often eat today—ordering several small plates for the table from diverse global cuisines—your chances are finding a wine that pairs with every dish are very slim.

She provides three new rules of food and wine pairing that provide a useful framework. (Although we need to stop thinking of them as rules. They are guidelines for exploration)

“Pair to the vibe, not the plate.” Take into consideration the environment, the gathering and its purpose, the music, the weather, etc. It’s more important to serve a wine that fits the occasion rather than the Mélange of dishes on the table.

“Change the Vocabulary.” A subject close to my heart. Describing wines as brooding, shy, elegant, or vivacious tells us more than wine’s technical vocabulary about how a wine will capture the mood of an occasion. As she says, “drink a wine because of the way it makes you feel…”
“Just Drink What You Like.” As she notes, “The key to wine knowledge is a willingness to explore. The “wrong” wine is not a villain out to ruin a meal. Food is what’s bringing complex taste interactions into the mix and may affect the balance of the wine, not the other way around.”

This is too often overlooked in discussions of wine and food pairing. A wine will seldom ruin the food you’re eating. At worst they may just produce a standoff with no interaction at all. But food can absolutely ruin the wine you’re drinking. A dish with too much sweetness will make that $150 Napa Cabernet taste thin and sour.

Wine and food pairing is loads of fun if you approach it, not from the standpoint of “right” or “wrong,” but as a taste adventure and a form of play.

A Note from Frank…
Make sure to check out our weekly virtual wine tastings and food pairing suggestions.
Our virtual wine tastings are a blast, and my clients have thoroughly enjoyed the food suggestions
Visit or email to reserve your spot at our next tasting and for more information!

20th Anniversary for the Karate Kid Writer turned First Class Winery Owner!

Screenplay writer turned Vineyard and Winery owner Robert Kamen has done it again. His ace winemaker Mark Herold has been making consistent 95+ Point rated wine from their Sonoma property. For 15 straight vintages the wine has received 93-99 Points, this is the most solid A rating ever.

Talking about “A” ratings, check out Robert’s movie portfolio: Taps, The Karate Kid (1,2 & 3), The Punisher, Lethal Weapon 3, A Walk in the Clouds , The Fifth Element , Kiss of the Dragon, The Transporter (1,2 & 3), Bandidos, Taken (1 & 2) and many others. Robert Kamen purchased his 280 acre property in 1980 with the proceeds of his first screenplay, and the rest is history. The certified biodynamic vineyards were planted by another vineyard entrepreneur, Phillip Coturri. Mark Herold (Merus, Kobalt, Herold etc.) has been his winemaker since 2001.

Robert Kamen and I go back to the very first vintage (1999), so I am proud to be a part of this great run of 20 vintages!!!

GGWC 99.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more
Use code KAMEN during checkout

Mix & match with other Kamen OK

Winemaker  notes: “Phenomenal concentration! A core of ripe black-raspberries, wild blackberries, black currants and freshly picked cherries anchor the aromatic profile. Bright notes of freshly picked wildflowers followed by hints of sunbaked rocks after the rain, marzipan, Oolong tea, black cardamom and milk chocolate add tremendous depth and complexity. The flavors follow suit and are richly layered, exquisitely balanced and refined. This deliciously seamless wine offers ripe, mouthwatering tannins and a lengthy finish. Enjoy now and over its decades-long evolution.

Also check out these other great Kamen releases:
Kamen 2018 Cabernet “Lava Block” Estate
Kamen 2019 Sauvignon Blanc Estate
Kamen 2018 Syrah Estate

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Call 415-337-4083 or email for availability and priority allocation!

Flawless Thomas Rivers Brown White Blend = 15% OFF

Mending Wall Winery is a partnership between three owners: Frank Dotzler (one of the co-founders of Outpost Winery), Mark Pulido and Donna Walker (owners of Pulido-Walker Wine) and well-regarded winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown.

Mending Wall 2018 Stone on Stone Proprietary White, Napa Valley
Retail 40.00 – NOW 33.99  
Use code MW18PW during checkout

Mix & match OK with other Mending Wall wines

The Mending Wall Stone on Stone Proprietary White is a small cuvée of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon fermented together in stainless steel and aged there nine months prior to bottling. Crisp honeysuckle, beeswax, lanolin, quince, and white currants jump from the glass of this fresh, medium-bodied, well-made and elegant dry white.
Winery Notes: “To retain acidity and preserve the mouthwatering nature of the wine, malolactic fermentation is blocked. We favor a more grassy, steely profile in the style of white Bordeaux, and are excited to present the first vintage of this wine aged 100% in stainless steel. The Semillon brings an appealing fleshiness to the blend, lending the palate a sleek viscosity that the Sauvignon Blanc frames with nicely integrated acid and minerality. Because we take a hands-off approach to winemaking, you may notice natural tartrate crystals forming at low temperatures in this unmanipulated wine. We recommend storing it at cellar temperature and suggest refrigeration two hours before serving.”
Also check out: 

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Complex under $75 mountain-grown Napa Cabernet

Paloma is known for its Merlot, so it is rare they offer their Cabernet for sale.  The Cabernet is grown to be blended with their Merlot, but in some years (higher yields) they do produce it as a single varietal.  So I am happy to share this bounty with you!  This wine is bold and complex with intense aromatics jumping out of the glass.  The wine is full in body, yet silky and well-polished, dense, yet supple and pleasing.  The palate is loaded with gorgeous black currant, chocolate and espresso notes that lead to a long and explosive, yet refined finish.  A real gem!

Paloma 2016 Cabernet “Estate” Spring Mountain, Napa Valley
GGWC 74.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more
Use code PALOMA during checkout

Winery Notes: “The 2016 Paloma Cabernet Sauvignon displays a seductive nose of dark cherry, raspberries, anise and a touch of nutmeg.  In the mouth, the wine is silky smooth and very lush, soft on the entry and rewarding the taster with an impressively long finish.  Surprisingly approachable for a young Cabernet made from Spring Mountain fruit, the 2016 Paloma Cabernet will offer immediate gratification. Enjoy this beauty with a hearty meal of rich, creamy cheeses, wild game and a decadent chocolate dessert.”

Also check out Paloma’s big bold 2016 Estate Merlot (assorts for free shipping)

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Call 415-337-4083 or email for availability and priority allocation!


A British couple settled in the hills of Mendocino where they found land with schist-like Cote–Rotie soils on a windblown cool mountain top overlooking the Pacific Ocean, which would become their “estate” vineyard. With the assistance of Justin Smith (Saxum), Crole Meredith & Steve Lagier (Lagier-Meredith), Mike Officer (Carlisle) and Wells Guthrie (Copain) they set out to plant what has become a much regarded Rhone-varietal vineyard. Wells helped develop and maintain the vineyard. Under the tutelage of the great Roar winemaker (Scott Shapley) they have put some very good quality and well-priced wines on the wine map!

All three wines can mix & match for free shipping (to the same address)

Halcon 2019 Syrah “Alturas” Estate Yorkland Highlands, Mendocino
GGWC 37.99
Use code HALCON during checkout

Winery Notes: “The 2019 Halcón Syrah fruit was picked October 16 th , just three days ahead of the previous year. As in 2018, the moderate high temperatures and very cool nights preserved acids and slowed sugar development, however, the crop was significantly below historical averages. The Syrah fruit came from various parcels of the Halcón vineyard, predominately the Chave selection, co-fermented with a slightly higher 5% Viognier. We again utilized 50% whole-cluster and aged the wine in neutral French oak puncheons. The low crop level led to a concentrated but still superbly balanced wine with the long hang-time giving fine tannin. The fruit is a little more upfront but still very fresh with lots of savory characteristics. It is a more open, slightly more intense version of the 2016 vintage and likely the best Alturas to date. Unfined, unfiltered. 13.7%. Only 190 cases.”

Tasting Notes: “The Alturas is a wonderful wine, offering up a youthful but superb bouquet of violets, cracked pepper, grilled meat and crunchy cassis. On the palate, the wine is medium-bodied, concentrated and tensile, with fine-grained tannins, a deep core of crunchy fruit and a long, sapid finish. While this is already delicious, it’s emphatically a young wine, and the real fireworks will begin when it has five years on the clock. Cropped at 1.25-tons per acre and fermented with 50% whole clusters, this lovely Syrah from Halcón wouldn’t be out of place in a flight of great Cornas. It’s also shockingly good value.”

Halcon 2019  Petite Sirah “Tierra” Theopolis Vineyard Yorkland Highlands, Mendocino
GGWC 35.99
Use code HALCON during checkout

The 2019 Petite Sirah is another exceedingly elegant, seamless wine from Gordon’s estate vineyard. Deep purple-hued with notes of blueberries, California bay leaf, violets, and bouquet garni, it’s medium-bodied, elegant, and lightly textured, with the fresh, focused, streamlined style that’s present in all these new releases. It’s going to be reasonably approachable on release yet keep for 15 years, if you’re so inclined.

Halcon 2019 Pinot Noir “Oppenlander Vineyard” Mendocino
GGWC 36.99
Use code HALCON during checkout

The 2019 Halcon “Oppenlander” Pinot Noir opens with an amazing bouquet of crushed flowers, Bing cherries, licorice and spices that jump out of the glass. A very masculine wine, yet incredibly refined and juicy. If this were a Burgundy, I’d say Pommard! Full bodied wine, that is rich and very substantial in the fruit department – well-balanced with the right touches of acid where needed!  Lush, with an incredible velvety-textured personality.  Amazingly long finish loaded with fresh, lively fruit and silky tannins.

Winery Notes: “The Pinot Noir Oppenlander Vineyard is gracious and nicely lifted. Lavender, spice, dark blue/purplish fruit and mint are all nicely lifted in a mid-weight Pinot that offers an intriguing mix of forward fruit and Mendocino energy. Medium in body, with lovely energy, the 2019 Pinot is a winner”

Don’t miss our
Halcon Virtual Tasting with owner/winemaker Paul Gordon
on June 4th!

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Call 415-337-4083 or email for availability and priority allocation!