About Me:

Years ago I thought there were two types of wine, red or white.

It was during 2004 I started working with a friend (Kevin) who was very knowledgeable with wine. My curiosity got to me and I started sampling wine over business meetings. One night over dinner, I finally drank a glass and it was an “Oh Wow” moment. From that time forward I was hooked and have been visiting California wine country (Napa, Sonoma, and Paso Robles) trying to find wines I love. As you read my blogs you will become familiar with the term “The Valley”. The Valley is California wine country.

Over time I have become very knowledgeable with California wines. I have many friends call and text me asking about my favorites and recommendations. I enjoy helping when I can.

Inwood Estates Vineyards   0
4.0
4/20/2013

We spent the first weekend of "Spring" at our friends Cynthia and Dan's place in Austin Texas. Cynthia was my administrator prior to her leaving for a change in Austin. I surely do miss her and all of the help she used to provide. We really enjoyed our time there. One of the things they wanted to do while we were visiting was to hit a couple local Texas wineries. I was a little hesitant to try Texas wines but was willing to give them a try! The previous weekend we traveled to Wisconsin with friends sampling some of their local wines. I have to say I was NOT impressed with the quality of the Wisconsin (or Minnesota) wines. I realize that the University of Minnesota is trying really hard to produce a wine friendly grape that is hardy to our cold winters, but in spite of the slight improvements, there is a lot of work to be done yet before I will claim it "good". We began our Sunday morning enjoying a hardy breakfast. When ever you do any wine tastings, I recommend you start with a good base. If you go to tastings on an empty stomach you may find yourself in trouble the next day and trust me; a wine hangover is not fun! We packed our bags and loaded them into the SUV and had packed some water and snacks just in case. The trip to the wineries would be about an hour from the house and we would have to conclude our day departing from the airport. The views were nice and to our surprise the Texas Bluebonnets were in full bloom! Chris was very happy and we had to stop so she could take a few pictures. Here is a little history and information on Inwood Estates Winery and Dan Gatlin the wine maker: It has been a very long road from the beginning to the release of these one-of-a-kind wines. Dan Gatlin grew up in the retail beverage trade as his family was the owners & operators of the Hasty chain of wine, spirits and convenience stores in Dallas, Texas. His father, Vernon Gatlin, had worked his way up from Depression Era beginnings after Prohibition. After service in WWII, Vernon Gatlin returned to Dallas and established himself as an astute businessman building the A&A Company to 28 stores, and then Hasty to 15 convenience and 11 wine & spirits stores under his ownership. Vernon Gatlin died in 1981 and his wife Virginia passed away in 1988. Dan Gatlin built his wine skills as a buyer and eventually vice-president of the company. When Hasty was sold, he turned his interest to vineyard research. His close contact in the 1970s with the California wine industry had allowed him to directly witness the coming-of-age of that industry in a way that not many people were allowed to see in those days. He therefore began the long process of researching whether Texas held any possibilities for fine wine production by establishing one of the first vineyards in the state in 1981 sampling 22 all-vinifera varieties in Denton County, Texas. In 1997, Dan and Rose Mary Gatlin bought a large lot in a then-undervalued part of Dallas where they remodeled the house for their residence and established a 245-vine completely "urban" vineyard. This became a local point of interest and some early Palomino-Chardonnays were produced from there non-commercially as the yield was less than 50 gallons per year. In late 2005, the Gatlins moved from there but the name stuck as the winery was being built in another part of the city. Today the current owner of the Inwood Road property has taken an interest in continuing the urban vineyard and the 2006 grapes contributed to one barrel of "Urban Dallas" Palomino-Chardonnay which will be available by Christmas 2007. The business was established in 2004 and the winery built in 2005 which housed the first in-house crush. The 2003 and 2004 wines were custom crushed at Wales Manor Winery in McKinney, Texas where Mr. Gatlin served as winemaker for both vintages of Tempranillo-Cabernet. The 2003 Temp-Cab and the 2005 Palo-Chard were released August 1, 2006 to a great reception of restaurant customers in Texas' four largest cities: Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio. We arrived at the Inwood Estates tasting room around lunch time. I liked the overall feeling of the tasting room and the ladies there were very hospitable. The staff was preparing the tasting room for the day and were getting ready for a couple of large groups. We were welcomed in and encouraged to wonder around until they were ready for us. We meandered back to where the barrels and fermentation tanks were located and did some looking around. Stephanie greeted us and was ready for our tasting. Chris, Cynthia and I were going to have a tasting. We were provided a tasting sheet and worked our way through the various varietals. After my first taste I was pleasantly surprised as I did not think a warm weather climate (including not so cool nights during Verasion) could produce a quality fruit. During our tasting we were offered the following wines: 2010 100% Dallas County Chardonnay ($39.95 per bottle) 2009 Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon Blend ($39.95 per bottle) 2009 Cornelius Tempranillo ($39.95 per bottle) 2009 Magdalena Margaux-Style red wine ($49.95 per bottle) 2008 Magellan Pauillac-Style red wine ($59.95 per bottle) Segundo Red ($24.95 per bottle) Rubyna Ruby Style Port ($24.95 per bottle) The wines are served in numerous Texas restaurants. After the tasting concluded both Chris and I were impressed and decided to purchase some of the wines. We planned to share some at our next weekend "Winer" group get together. We ordered two of each and had a case delivered back to Minnesota. The tasting fee is $12 per person. However, if you purchase two bottles of wine that fee is waived. We decided to stay for lunch as the tasting room is setup with many tables and the ladies were more than happy to assist us. Of course we had to have a glass of wine with our meal, so we ordered a bottle of the Segundo Red. We were surprised at 2pm when two gentlemen arrived and started playing music right in the tasting room! Adding music on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon is a nice touch. We enjoyed our time at Inwood Estates Winery and would recommend anyone visiting the Austin area to go visit. If you do, please mention BillsWineWandering sent you there!

Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
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Continuum   0
3.0
1/7/2013

Chris and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary on May 17th. I wanted to do something special while we were in the valley on vacation with friends. A few months back, I contacted Lindsey at Continuum and requested a tasting and tour of the estate. Reel back time a few years... I discovered Continuum Estate while watching an episode of Wine Library TV on the internet. Continuum Estate was created by Robert, Marcia and Tim Mondavi (Tim and Marcia are Robert's children). Tim Mondavi and his daughter Carissa were guests featured on the show. After watching the interview I was intrigued and knew that I would have to some day visit the estate. Our first visit to the estate was last May 2011. Since neither Mapquest nor Google maps do a decent job of navigating you to the winery, Lindsey emailed me the directions after scheduling a visit. The day had arrived when after lunch, we made our way to Pritchard Hill . The drive up was amazingly beautiful! Once we arrived to one of the estate houses, we were greeted by Lindsey who provided us with a fun and educational tour. The Continuum Estate is relatively new. She explained that they plan on digging tunnels and create a hospitality and barrel room. After we enjoyed some time touring the property in a rugged Jeep, we returned for a tasting in the estate house. After the tour and tasting was done, I knew I had to come back the next year to see the progress of the estate. We had no idea that when we arrived this year for our estate tour and tasting, that it was going to be very special! We approached the estate after enjoying a picnic near Lake Hennessy. There is a nice spot to park and overlook the scenery although there is a sign posted "No Picnics", we were discrete. It puzzles us why there is the no picnic sign near a convenient trash receptacle. The weather in the valley was amazing for the entire time we visited. I was hoping the sky would not be hazy such that we could see a view of San Fransisco from the top of the hill. Unfortunately it was not. However, the drive up was pretty awesome as expected. The speed limit is only 15 miles per hour and when you make the drive up, you will surely understand why. Along the right hand side driving up there are steep cliffs with no guide rail. Heather would not look over. There are a number of sections of the road that only allows room for one vehicle at a time. If you meet a vehicle as we did a few times, you may have to jockey around to pass each other. I find that pretty cool... We finally made it to the Continuum Estate and drove to the house. As we were exiting our suburban Lindsey again was the one who greeted us. We could see that she and another gal were setting up a picnic what looked like a lunch for another group. As we introduced our friends Dave and Heather to Lindsey, we were pleasantly surprised to see Carrisa Mondavi and her dog Bayla walk over and greet us. As luck would have it, Carrisa was going to be our estate guide and host us for a tasting that day! We began by heading into the estate house for a brief conversation about the winery, the history of the Mondavi family (great Minnesota roots!), and a review of some drawings of the final plans for the Continuum Estate. We finished the conversation and Carrisa escorted us to a new guide vehicle. She was really excited as today we were one of the first to ride in the brand new tour vehicle for the estate. Apparently, we were the second group to take a ride with her that day. Her dad Tim and a friend having been her first earlier. You could really tell she was stoked driving the truck! Bayla was at her side as we headed out for the tour. The first stop was a visit by the tasting room that was being remodeled. There were three colors on the exterior. It sounded like the color they selected will match the estates soil. While viewing the other color samples, we agreed with Carissa the color that matched the soil was a perfect match. We continued the tour and drove by some Cabernet Sauvignon vines, and at the bottom of the hill were Pertit Verdot vines. The vines had not flowered yet but it sounded like it would be happening very soon. Heading up the hill we could see some very young vines (babies). We concluded the estate tour and headed back to the house. After a quick brake, we all headed to a very large table for our tasting. Carrisa was seated at the head of the table with me to her right and Dave on the opposite side. There was a bottle of the 2009 Continuum sitting next to a filled decanter. I'm assuming the wine was decanted at least thirty minutes. Also on the table was a nice cheese (Mezzo Secco and San Andreas) and bread platter with Calvestrano olives. We also were introduced to the 2010 Continuum Estate Olive oil. I was pleased to see where the table napkin is located, was a card with our names welcoming us to Continuum Estate! We started a tasting with a Cheers! The 2009 Continuum was amazing. I wish I would have grabbed my tasting sheet. I can tell you the 2009 Continuum is a very elegant and well balanced wine. Even though Heather is not a red fan, she too enjoyed the balance and tannin structure. The finish was smooth and long. The aroma was quite pleasing. I could remember dark fruit and a light hint of cocoa. I feel you could drink it now or cellar it for many years. I have two vintages now and can't wait for the third. I plan on a vertical tasting and review in the future. We concluded the tasting and headed out back. The views past the tasting room door is stellar. You can see Lake Hennessy and other mountain tops. Carrisa was very willing to participate and take as many pictures through out the day. You can tell she loves what she does and is passionate about Continuum winery and her heritage! I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Carrisa and look forward to visiting the Continuum Estate again next year. We loved to see the progress and will definitely attend the first release party when the estate is fully operational. As we were about to leave, Carrisa's brother who was hosting a group from the east coast came over to great us. I made sure to mention we would love to participate in a wine dinner next time Continuum was in Minneapolis.

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Kunde Estate Winery   1
4.0
1/7/2013

We entered the tasting room and just like the last time - were greeted by hospitality. I mentioned we had a "Hilltop Tasting" and immediately the gentleman asked "are you Bill"? With no hesitation I said "Yes"! I shook his hand and introduced Chris. After the brief introductions we were told to head over to the side tasting table where Len was talking to another couple from New York. A few more introductions and we were off to the van. Before we were on our way Len poured us a glass of the Sauvignon Blanc and once at the van we were greeted by another couple from Texas. On the drive up Len started talking about the history of Kunde. Our first stop was by an old boxing ring. If you are familiar with the movie "Bottle Shock", much of the movie was shot on the Kunde Family Estate. If you have not seen the movie I would recommend it. We continued our drive until we reached the top of the hill at 1400 feet. The views were amazing and we could see for miles. The tasting area had many tables and chairs but if you prefer to stand like I do, there is a tasting stand where Len had the bottles of wine we were going to enjoy. Len continued talking about the estate and the wines. The first wine we sampled was the Reserve Chardonnay. It was buttery and crisp and the finish was nice. We could taste pear and melon and I rated the Reserve Chardonnay three glasses. It was time for the reds and the first one Len served was the 2008 Zinfandel. If you recall, this was the one I blogged a few weeks back. We continued with Zinfandels and Len poured us all the 2009 Century Old Vine. Some of the aromas were spice and bright fruit. I think Len also mentioned he noticed a hint of Mint? The tannins approached my mid palate and worked its way towards the sides. The finish was nice and long. To me this was a full bodied Zin and I would rate this one 3 plus glasses! Continuing through the reds we tasted the 2009 "Red Dirt Red", which was an interesting blend. The varietals were Barbera, Petite Syrah, Syrah, Sangiovese, and Zinfandel. Tasting the Red Dirt Red I noted that it was a little dry (more tannins) and I could taste Bing Cherry Fruit. Dan especially like this one and he bought some when we returned to the tasting room. The final red wine was the 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Tasting this one; I thought it needed some happy time in the cellar. It was a little dry and the tannin's were felt in the middle of my tongue with a long finish. We spent roughly an hour on the Hilltop talking to our new friends (Len too!). As we drove back Len talked about how the Kunde family cares about the history of the land. Before a new plot is dug and planted they have it assesed. There have been many locations on the property where they have found Indian Artifacts. If artifacts are found, the land is NOT planted and is left as is. I have to say kudos to the Kunde family for respecting the Indians! We ended the tour with all of us venturing into the tasting room. As a treat, Len pulled out a bottle of the desert Cuvee which was a terrific ending to a beautiful day on the Hilltop. We were initially planning to bring back a case of wine for our friends Dave and Heather from their existing wine club order, but unfortunately for them, we bought our own case of wine and needed the wine check! We purchased six bottles of the 2011 Wildwood Chardonnay, four of the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc - Block 4SB20 and two bottles of the 2009 Reserve Century Vines Zinfandel. We also took home two bottles of the 1904 Dessert Cuvee that I figure I would share with Dave since we didn't help them with their wine. As we were purchasing our wine from Len, we had the opportunity to meet Marcia Kunde Mickelson and were very pleased to meet her! I believe that its important to meet the wine makers or family members of the wineries that I visit. We appreciate the hospitality sincerely!

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Joseph Phelps Vineyards   1
4.0
12/18/2012

Chris and I have been members of Joseph Phelps since the first time we visited the winery. I immediately fell in love with Insignia. I have to admit the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are pretty damn amazing too! Every spring, members of the winery have to call to reserve a pair of tickets. It is usually the first Monday in April. Sorry my friends, you have to be a member to participate in the Insignia day event. If you factor in the amount of food, entertainment, and the wine you drink, its well worth the price of the membership! I would recommend it and attend the Insignia day event. You will not be disappointed. The "Golden" ticket, well it really was purple. This year we decided to attend on Saturday. Insignia day is three days (Friday through Sunday). The winery closes on Thursday to prepare. Saturday was perfect this year since Dave and Heather wanted to go to San Fransisco for the day. Heather had never been there and she really wanted to go. We started Saturday eating a good breakfast. Trust me you need a good base when you taste wine for many hours. Make sure you drink a lot of bottled water so you remain hydrated too! Cynthia and Dan were at the house around 9:30am to pick us up. Dan was our designated driver and we really love and appreciate Dan! After a quick stop we were at Joseph Phelps around 11:30am. We had to show our "Purple" ticket before we could be let in. I was very anxious to get in and start the day. As we entered the vineyard we parked the car and was escorted into a van and driven to the estate. I think this is a great idea just in case someone is over served. The staff can withhold the keys. I'm not sure this has ever happened and it won't happen to us! The drive up was less then five minutes. Exiting the van we were greeted by the Joseph Phelps staff under the tent with a food plate and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. The weather was perfect and the temperature was in the mid 70's already. The Sauvignon Blanc was very refreshing. As you move through the tent there is a plethora of food including Pizza cooked in an external pizza stove to pulled pork sliders, cheese and meat plates to sweets. Besides the yummy food and treats there are various tables of Joseph Phelps wines. I was lucky. As we walked in we were greeted by someone with a carafe of 1992 Backus. It was truly amazing and I thought it was holding up pretty good. I do have to say its time to drink it now. After some yummy wine and food we met Kevin and Liz out back. They had saved us a place and we needed to get back there. Many people were trying to take the spots and Kevin could not hold on to them much longer. As we got situated Chris and I ventured into the hospitality room where Claude was sharing some excellent Insignia. It's always a treat to see Claude and he is an excellent host. As the day progressed, we had many samples of the 2008, 2009, and 2010 Insignia. We also made sure to try the Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. I also made an attempt to try the 2009 Joseph Phelps Fog Dog Pinot Noir. The Pinot was tasting pretty good and was refreshing. We eventually gave up our spot and ventured to the front hoping for more carafe's of special wine. We were lucky to find a wine barrel to belly up to. We were close to a sample tasting table hosted by Carly and another lady. And, we were right by the band who was playing some pretty good music. I had mentioned I wanted to meet Bill Phelps early that day. As luck would have it Bill and his wife Andrea were only a few feet from us talking to another couple and taking pictures. Chris immediately wandered over there and I followed her. As they ended their conversation, Chris jumped in and introduced us. I have to say Chris does an excellent job networking with people. I mentioned we were fans of Joseph Phelps wine. Chris spoke up and told Bill Phelps I write a wine blog and have featured his wines many times. I graciously presented Bill a business card and he gave one of his to me. Bill said "if there is any time I wanted to talk about his wines to please give him a call". Can I say I was stoked! We ended the short conversation with pictures. Dan and Cynthia came over had theirs taken too. There was another tent on top of the hill where public parking is during normal hours. Chris, Cynthia, Dan, and Liz headed up there while Kevin and I held the fort. Chris came back with some Paella. I have to say it tasted pretty good. I think it was better than the Paella we had when were in Spain years ago! The clock was nearing 2:30pm, we decided it was time to beat the rush and ventured to the bus. The bus drove us down to the main pickup area. We provided our ticket and off we went. I am already looking forward to Insignia day 2013. I wonder what Bill Phelps will have in store next year?

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Shafer Vineyards   0
4.5
12/18/2012

I think is was last spring when I received a particular email from Shafer. I receive news letters often but this time there was something different. Within the email I learned that Doug Shafer would be releasing a book "A Vineyard In Napa". The book is a Doug Shafer's memoir covering 40 years in Napa Valley. A Vineyard in Napa book At the age of 47, when he a successful publishing executive and living with his wife and four children in an affluent Chicago suburb, John Shafer made the surprise announcement that he had purchased a vineyard in the Napa Valley. In 1973, he moved his family to California and, with no knowledge of winemaking, began the journey that would lead him, thirty years later, to own and operate what distinguished wine critic Robert M. Parker, Jr. called “one of the world’s greatest wineries.” This book, narrated by Shafer’s son Doug, is a personal account of how his father turned his midlife dream into a remarkable success story. Reading the details about Doug's book, I immediately placed an order on my Amazon account. After reading the brief story, I reflected upon the times we have been to Shafer for tastings. We have enjoyed the tasting with John our tasting room host (not John Shafer). We also have had the privilege to meet both John and Doug on separate occasions and spent a little time talking about Shafer and their wines. Initially the book was to be released in November. When Chris and I arrived from our Italy trip the book was sitting in my pile of mail waiting for me to open and start reading. On a relaxing Sunday I started to read the book. I was immediately drawn into it. Just hearing the story of a middle aged John Shafer who pulled his family from Chicago in the early 70's was pretty amazing. John had no back ground making or running a vineyard. He only had a dream and passion to motivate himself. I found myself reading a couple chapters and closing the cover, just to find myself opening the book again and reading more. The short chapters kept my interest up. I also want to learn more about the history of Napa and this book (Chapter ten, 1976) brought you right in to the mid seventies at the point where world renown wine tasting at the InterContinental Hotel in Paris took place. This were where the Napa Valley wines (Cabernet Sauvignon from Stags Leap Wine Cellars and a Chardonnay from Chateau Montelena) were matched against some of the best wines France had to offer. Well long story short, Napa blew the doors off and the French taste testers were scrambling! That day definitely jump started the interest in Napa wines again. Every chapter is its own story. A chapter that I found interesting was 18 Arson. This chapter discussed a fire that could have destroyed the Shafer vineyard. With the help of a local person they started fires in a ring around the family house and back fires around the vineyard to stop the fires approaching the vines. During one of our first visits to to Shafer Vineyard, we met Doug and his father John. They spoke of this very story! John talking about the history of Shafer vineyard, 2010 Bill and Chris with Doug (2008) Another chapter I enjoyed was 40 Syrah. The Syrah named "Relentless" is a tribute to wine maker Elias' passion to making wine. I laughed when I read that the vendors described Elias as a pain in the neck! The book is 256 pages. I spent half of a rainy Sunday reading and finished the book during lunch on Monday. I have to tell you its been quite some time since I read a "non technical" book, and I truly enjoyed it! If you are interested in the story of the Shafer family, Shafer vineyard and wine making or even the history of the valley I would read this book.

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Cosentino   0
4.0
12/18/2012

Excellent wines and service. http://www.billswinewandering.com/2011-cosentino-stags-leap-rose/ http://www.billswinewandering.com/1987-cosentino-poet/ http://www.billswinewandering.com/a-fine-saturday-in-napa-valley/

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Verite Winery   0
5.0
5.0
12/18/2012

We had been looking forward to seeing our friends at Verite since the Fete De La Fuer event in June 2012. The recent upcoming "Vintage Verite at the Lake Event" was celebrating the 2002 vintage. Early last spring we received an invitation in the mail with the following comments: The 2002 harvest lasted from September 9 to 23, starting in Knights Valley with Merlot and finishing with Cabernet Franc from Alexander Valley. It was a drier season than average; the spring was mild, and the summer was warmer than in 2001. But the wines have beautiful, balanced acidity from the influence of the Pacific Ocean, which brings a cooling effect to our vineyards at night. At Vintage Vérité, we are celebrating La Muse 2002 and La Joie 2002, which have deep color, are very fragrant and floral, and impart distinctive fruit flavors expressing the characteristics of each varietal of the blend, with supple tannins and a long finish. Please join us in experiencing how these wines have evolved over the past 10 years, and discover how they will continue to age for another 10 years. Of course we immediately notified Teresa and planned our trip back to Sonoma! It was finally Saturday morning, the day of the event. We had slept in that day because we stayed up late with friends from Santa Rosa and Manhattan, NY. The event was to start at 11:00am. We left our Windsor Romantic Cottage around 10:45am eager for the day. We arrived a few minutes after 11am and were greeted by Pierre and Monique. It was a happy moment and it felt like we we were home! Dale ran over and gave Chris a big hug and we saw Kim shortly there after. Kim offered us both a glass of Champagne which we graciously accepted. Not to long after Dale came over and asked board the charter bus to take us to Verite Lake. After a brief ride through the estate, we arrived at Verite lake and headed towards the welcome table. Timothy greeted us and offered us a glass of Pierre's Rose'. This Rose' is amazing and one of our favorites! I would like to purchase some, but they keep it for special events. I was intrigued to see the Rose' finally had its own label. Monique informed us that Helene's boyfriend designed it! After getting caught up with Timothy we proceeded to walk around the area and headed into a large tent that had been erected for the event. Inside were many tables and a couch. Chris decided to sit down and relaxed with a magazine. She was looking pretty amazing so I decided to take some pictures. As I was taking pictures I noticed Pierre was on the cover of the magazine. I asked Chris and right away if she realized that and she replied "yes, of course!", although the article was in French, there was an English translation tucked inside as well. We really need to learn French. I had three years of French in Jr High School but since I had no one to talk to you, I've lost most of what I had learned! The day proceeded with many types of food and more Verite wines to drink. I have to admit I was tongue tied when a French lady came by with a video camera as Pierre and I talked. She asked what I like about Verite, and for the first time I was at a loss of words! I'm probably Verite's biggest fan (and Ambassador per Monique) so I was disappointed that I did not do a good job of expressing my appreciation for these great wines! Thankfully Pierre stepped in and spoke to the gal (in French of course). Our lunch was excellent. There were various sliders, cheese, and shucked Oysters. I think my favorite slider was the Lamb with Sweet Potato fries. I know for a fact Chris loved the shucked Oysters! Chef Justin did a GREAT job. As the day progressed Chris and I walked around visiting with various guests. Monique's cousin from France attended the event. I cannot recall his name but he and Monique were very close and she told us he was much like a brother to her. She explained that he was friends with Pierre and introduced Monique to him. Teresa had a table setup with a game called Playaboule. Playaboule is the Italian version 0f Bocce Ball. Fortunately Chris and I had just spend a day playing with Dave and Heather at the lake so I was practiced and ready to go. Monique's cousin and I played against two other guests. I am pleased to say at the end of the day we won 21 to 9! We had a great time and enjoyed playing together. There was time to just hang out and relax. Everybody was happy and we enjoyed the Le Muse (Chris) and the La Joie (Me). We headed to a couple chairs facing the lake. Sitting there I was imaging how it must be hanging out in the vineyard at Chateau Lassegue in Bordeaux France. We hope to visit the Estate next year. Chris was "checking in" on Facebook and updating our status. As our day was winding down, we enjoyed some of the specialty deserts and like everything Verite, the treats were over the top. Each of us had a small plate of desert that looked like a small hamburger and fries. The condiments (ketchup and mustard) were a red raspberry and a yellow sweet dipping sauce that complimented the short bread butter cookie "fries". I can only say wow! We spent a little bit more time visiting with Timothy, Kim, Teresa, and Dale who do an excellent job at Verite. We wish we could do more for them. We couldn't resist having another taste of the Rose' before we left as it was pretty warm and the Rose' was refreshing! Chris and I were very happy, but sad the event was winding down. We ended the event with one more taste of the La Muse and La Joia. We ventured into the courtesy van that took us back to the tasting room. My mind was already thinking about the next event. Monique and Pierre have discussed traveling to Minnesota for some time off this winter and we truly hope they come see us. Even though it may be cold outside when they can come, spending time with our dear friends so that they could really relax and escape would be priceless. I am already thinking and planning on an ice fishing adventure on Lake Mille Lacs. We want to be sure Pierre catches some Walleye and Northern Pike and then we could have a great fish fry with some of their Verite wines!

Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
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Verite Winery   0
5.0
5.0

We had been looking forward to seeing our friends at Verite since the Fete De La Fuer event in June 2012. The recent upcoming "Vintage Verite at the Lake Event" was celebrating the 2002 vintage. Early last spring we received an invitation in the mail with the following comments: The 2002 harvest lasted from September 9 to 23, starting in Knights Valley with Merlot and finishing with Cabernet Franc from Alexander Valley. It was a drier season than average; the spring was mild, and the summer was warmer than in 2001. But the wines have beautiful, balanced acidity from the influence of the Pacific Ocean, which brings a cooling effect to our vineyards at night. At Vintage Vérité, we are celebrating La Muse 2002 and La Joie 2002, which have deep color, are very fragrant and floral, and impart distinctive fruit flavors expressing the characteristics of each varietal of the blend, with supple tannins and a long finish. Please join us in experiencing how these wines have evolved over the past 10 years, and discover how they will continue to age for another 10 years. Of course we immediately notified Teresa and planned our trip back to Sonoma! It was finally Saturday morning, the day of the event. We had slept in that day because we stayed up late with friends from Santa Rosa and Manhattan, NY. The event was to start at 11:00am. We left our Windsor Romantic Cottage around 10:45am eager for the day. We arrived a few minutes after 11am and were greeted by Pierre and Monique. It was a happy moment and it felt like we we were home! Dale ran over and gave Chris a big hug and we saw Kim shortly there after. Kim offered us both a glass of Champagne which we graciously accepted. Not to long after Dale came over and asked board the charter bus to take us to Verite Lake. After a brief ride through the estate, we arrived at Verite lake and headed towards the welcome table. Timothy greeted us and offered us a glass of Pierre's Rose'. This Rose' is amazing and one of our favorites! I would like to purchase some, but they keep it for special events. I was intrigued to see the Rose' finally had its own label. Monique informed us that Helene's boyfriend designed it! After getting caught up with Timothy we proceeded to walk around the area and headed into a large tent that had been erected for the event. Inside were many tables and a couch. Chris decided to sit down and relaxed with a magazine. She was looking pretty amazing so I decided to take some pictures. As I was taking pictures I noticed Pierre was on the cover of the magazine. I asked Chris and right away if she realized that and she replied "yes, of course!", although the article was in French, there was an English translation tucked inside as well. We really need to learn French. I had three years of French in Jr High School but since I had no one to talk to you, I've lost most of what I had learned! The day proceeded with many types of food and more Verite wines to drink. I have to admit I was tongue tied when a French lady came by with a video camera as Pierre and I talked. She asked what I like about Verite, and for the first time I was at a loss of words! I'm probably Verite's biggest fan (and Ambassador per Monique) so I was disappointed that I did not do a good job of expressing my appreciation for these great wines! Thankfully Pierre stepped in and spoke to the gal (in French of course). Our lunch was excellent. There were various sliders, cheese, and shucked Oysters. I think my favorite slider was the Lamb with Sweet Potato fries. I know for a fact Chris loved the shucked Oysters! Chef Justin did a GREAT job. As the day progressed Chris and I walked around visiting with various guests. Monique's cousin from France attended the event. I cannot recall his name but he and Monique were very close and she told us he was much like a brother to her. She explained that he was friends with Pierre and introduced Monique to him. Teresa had a table setup with a game called Playaboule. Playaboule is the Italian version 0f Bocce Ball. Fortunately Chris and I had just spend a day playing with Dave and Heather at the lake so I was practiced and ready to go. Monique's cousin and I played against two other guests. I am pleased to say at the end of the day we won 21 to 9! We had a great time and enjoyed playing together. There was time to just hang out and relax. Everybody was happy and we enjoyed the Le Muse (Chris) and the La Joie (Me). We headed to a couple chairs facing the lake. Sitting there I was imaging how it must be hanging out in the vineyard at Chateau Lassegue in Bordeaux France. We hope to visit the Estate next year. Chris was "checking in" on Facebook and updating our status. As our day was winding down, we enjoyed some of the specialty deserts and like everything Verite, the treats were over the top. Each of us had a small plate of desert that looked like a small hamburger and fries. The condiments (ketchup and mustard) were a red raspberry and a yellow sweet dipping sauce that complimented the short bread butter cookie "fries". I can only say wow! We spent a little bit more time visiting with Timothy, Kim, Teresa, and Dale who do an excellent job at Verite. We wish we could do more for them. We couldn't resist having another taste of the Rose' before we left as it was pretty warm and the Rose' was refreshing! Chris and I were very happy, but sad the event was winding down. We ended the event with one more taste of the La Muse and La Joia. We ventured into the courtesy van that took us back to the tasting room. My mind was already thinking about the next event. Monique and Pierre have discussed traveling to Minnesota for some time off this winter and we truly hope they come see us. Even though it may be cold outside when they can come, spending time with our dear friends so that they could really relax and escape would be priceless. I am already thinking and planning on an ice fishing adventure on Lake Mille Lacs. We want to be sure Pierre catches some Walleye and Northern Pike and then we could have a great fish fry with some of their Verite wines!

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Cosentino   0
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Excellent wines and service. http://www.billswinewandering.com/2011-cosentino-stags-leap-rose/ http://www.billswinewandering.com/1987-cosentino-poet/ http://www.billswinewandering.com/a-fine-saturday-in-napa-valley/

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Shafer Vineyards   0
4.5

I think is was last spring when I received a particular email from Shafer. I receive news letters often but this time there was something different. Within the email I learned that Doug Shafer would be releasing a book "A Vineyard In Napa". The book is a Doug Shafer's memoir covering 40 years in Napa Valley. A Vineyard in Napa book At the age of 47, when he a successful publishing executive and living with his wife and four children in an affluent Chicago suburb, John Shafer made the surprise announcement that he had purchased a vineyard in the Napa Valley. In 1973, he moved his family to California and, with no knowledge of winemaking, began the journey that would lead him, thirty years later, to own and operate what distinguished wine critic Robert M. Parker, Jr. called “one of the world’s greatest wineries.” This book, narrated by Shafer’s son Doug, is a personal account of how his father turned his midlife dream into a remarkable success story. Reading the details about Doug's book, I immediately placed an order on my Amazon account. After reading the brief story, I reflected upon the times we have been to Shafer for tastings. We have enjoyed the tasting with John our tasting room host (not John Shafer). We also have had the privilege to meet both John and Doug on separate occasions and spent a little time talking about Shafer and their wines. Initially the book was to be released in November. When Chris and I arrived from our Italy trip the book was sitting in my pile of mail waiting for me to open and start reading. On a relaxing Sunday I started to read the book. I was immediately drawn into it. Just hearing the story of a middle aged John Shafer who pulled his family from Chicago in the early 70's was pretty amazing. John had no back ground making or running a vineyard. He only had a dream and passion to motivate himself. I found myself reading a couple chapters and closing the cover, just to find myself opening the book again and reading more. The short chapters kept my interest up. I also want to learn more about the history of Napa and this book (Chapter ten, 1976) brought you right in to the mid seventies at the point where world renown wine tasting at the InterContinental Hotel in Paris took place. This were where the Napa Valley wines (Cabernet Sauvignon from Stags Leap Wine Cellars and a Chardonnay from Chateau Montelena) were matched against some of the best wines France had to offer. Well long story short, Napa blew the doors off and the French taste testers were scrambling! That day definitely jump started the interest in Napa wines again. Every chapter is its own story. A chapter that I found interesting was 18 Arson. This chapter discussed a fire that could have destroyed the Shafer vineyard. With the help of a local person they started fires in a ring around the family house and back fires around the vineyard to stop the fires approaching the vines. During one of our first visits to to Shafer Vineyard, we met Doug and his father John. They spoke of this very story! John talking about the history of Shafer vineyard, 2010 Bill and Chris with Doug (2008) Another chapter I enjoyed was 40 Syrah. The Syrah named "Relentless" is a tribute to wine maker Elias' passion to making wine. I laughed when I read that the vendors described Elias as a pain in the neck! The book is 256 pages. I spent half of a rainy Sunday reading and finished the book during lunch on Monday. I have to tell you its been quite some time since I read a "non technical" book, and I truly enjoyed it! If you are interested in the story of the Shafer family, Shafer vineyard and wine making or even the history of the valley I would read this book.

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Joseph Phelps Vineyards   1
4.0

Chris and I have been members of Joseph Phelps since the first time we visited the winery. I immediately fell in love with Insignia. I have to admit the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are pretty damn amazing too! Every spring, members of the winery have to call to reserve a pair of tickets. It is usually the first Monday in April. Sorry my friends, you have to be a member to participate in the Insignia day event. If you factor in the amount of food, entertainment, and the wine you drink, its well worth the price of the membership! I would recommend it and attend the Insignia day event. You will not be disappointed. The "Golden" ticket, well it really was purple. This year we decided to attend on Saturday. Insignia day is three days (Friday through Sunday). The winery closes on Thursday to prepare. Saturday was perfect this year since Dave and Heather wanted to go to San Fransisco for the day. Heather had never been there and she really wanted to go. We started Saturday eating a good breakfast. Trust me you need a good base when you taste wine for many hours. Make sure you drink a lot of bottled water so you remain hydrated too! Cynthia and Dan were at the house around 9:30am to pick us up. Dan was our designated driver and we really love and appreciate Dan! After a quick stop we were at Joseph Phelps around 11:30am. We had to show our "Purple" ticket before we could be let in. I was very anxious to get in and start the day. As we entered the vineyard we parked the car and was escorted into a van and driven to the estate. I think this is a great idea just in case someone is over served. The staff can withhold the keys. I'm not sure this has ever happened and it won't happen to us! The drive up was less then five minutes. Exiting the van we were greeted by the Joseph Phelps staff under the tent with a food plate and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. The weather was perfect and the temperature was in the mid 70's already. The Sauvignon Blanc was very refreshing. As you move through the tent there is a plethora of food including Pizza cooked in an external pizza stove to pulled pork sliders, cheese and meat plates to sweets. Besides the yummy food and treats there are various tables of Joseph Phelps wines. I was lucky. As we walked in we were greeted by someone with a carafe of 1992 Backus. It was truly amazing and I thought it was holding up pretty good. I do have to say its time to drink it now. After some yummy wine and food we met Kevin and Liz out back. They had saved us a place and we needed to get back there. Many people were trying to take the spots and Kevin could not hold on to them much longer. As we got situated Chris and I ventured into the hospitality room where Claude was sharing some excellent Insignia. It's always a treat to see Claude and he is an excellent host. As the day progressed, we had many samples of the 2008, 2009, and 2010 Insignia. We also made sure to try the Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. I also made an attempt to try the 2009 Joseph Phelps Fog Dog Pinot Noir. The Pinot was tasting pretty good and was refreshing. We eventually gave up our spot and ventured to the front hoping for more carafe's of special wine. We were lucky to find a wine barrel to belly up to. We were close to a sample tasting table hosted by Carly and another lady. And, we were right by the band who was playing some pretty good music. I had mentioned I wanted to meet Bill Phelps early that day. As luck would have it Bill and his wife Andrea were only a few feet from us talking to another couple and taking pictures. Chris immediately wandered over there and I followed her. As they ended their conversation, Chris jumped in and introduced us. I have to say Chris does an excellent job networking with people. I mentioned we were fans of Joseph Phelps wine. Chris spoke up and told Bill Phelps I write a wine blog and have featured his wines many times. I graciously presented Bill a business card and he gave one of his to me. Bill said "if there is any time I wanted to talk about his wines to please give him a call". Can I say I was stoked! We ended the short conversation with pictures. Dan and Cynthia came over had theirs taken too. There was another tent on top of the hill where public parking is during normal hours. Chris, Cynthia, Dan, and Liz headed up there while Kevin and I held the fort. Chris came back with some Paella. I have to say it tasted pretty good. I think it was better than the Paella we had when were in Spain years ago! The clock was nearing 2:30pm, we decided it was time to beat the rush and ventured to the bus. The bus drove us down to the main pickup area. We provided our ticket and off we went. I am already looking forward to Insignia day 2013. I wonder what Bill Phelps will have in store next year?

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Kunde Estate Winery   1
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We entered the tasting room and just like the last time - were greeted by hospitality. I mentioned we had a "Hilltop Tasting" and immediately the gentleman asked "are you Bill"? With no hesitation I said "Yes"! I shook his hand and introduced Chris. After the brief introductions we were told to head over to the side tasting table where Len was talking to another couple from New York. A few more introductions and we were off to the van. Before we were on our way Len poured us a glass of the Sauvignon Blanc and once at the van we were greeted by another couple from Texas. On the drive up Len started talking about the history of Kunde. Our first stop was by an old boxing ring. If you are familiar with the movie "Bottle Shock", much of the movie was shot on the Kunde Family Estate. If you have not seen the movie I would recommend it. We continued our drive until we reached the top of the hill at 1400 feet. The views were amazing and we could see for miles. The tasting area had many tables and chairs but if you prefer to stand like I do, there is a tasting stand where Len had the bottles of wine we were going to enjoy. Len continued talking about the estate and the wines. The first wine we sampled was the Reserve Chardonnay. It was buttery and crisp and the finish was nice. We could taste pear and melon and I rated the Reserve Chardonnay three glasses. It was time for the reds and the first one Len served was the 2008 Zinfandel. If you recall, this was the one I blogged a few weeks back. We continued with Zinfandels and Len poured us all the 2009 Century Old Vine. Some of the aromas were spice and bright fruit. I think Len also mentioned he noticed a hint of Mint? The tannins approached my mid palate and worked its way towards the sides. The finish was nice and long. To me this was a full bodied Zin and I would rate this one 3 plus glasses! Continuing through the reds we tasted the 2009 "Red Dirt Red", which was an interesting blend. The varietals were Barbera, Petite Syrah, Syrah, Sangiovese, and Zinfandel. Tasting the Red Dirt Red I noted that it was a little dry (more tannins) and I could taste Bing Cherry Fruit. Dan especially like this one and he bought some when we returned to the tasting room. The final red wine was the 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Tasting this one; I thought it needed some happy time in the cellar. It was a little dry and the tannin's were felt in the middle of my tongue with a long finish. We spent roughly an hour on the Hilltop talking to our new friends (Len too!). As we drove back Len talked about how the Kunde family cares about the history of the land. Before a new plot is dug and planted they have it assesed. There have been many locations on the property where they have found Indian Artifacts. If artifacts are found, the land is NOT planted and is left as is. I have to say kudos to the Kunde family for respecting the Indians! We ended the tour with all of us venturing into the tasting room. As a treat, Len pulled out a bottle of the desert Cuvee which was a terrific ending to a beautiful day on the Hilltop. We were initially planning to bring back a case of wine for our friends Dave and Heather from their existing wine club order, but unfortunately for them, we bought our own case of wine and needed the wine check! We purchased six bottles of the 2011 Wildwood Chardonnay, four of the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc - Block 4SB20 and two bottles of the 2009 Reserve Century Vines Zinfandel. We also took home two bottles of the 1904 Dessert Cuvee that I figure I would share with Dave since we didn't help them with their wine. As we were purchasing our wine from Len, we had the opportunity to meet Marcia Kunde Mickelson and were very pleased to meet her! I believe that its important to meet the wine makers or family members of the wineries that I visit. We appreciate the hospitality sincerely!

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Continuum   0
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Chris and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary on May 17th. I wanted to do something special while we were in the valley on vacation with friends. A few months back, I contacted Lindsey at Continuum and requested a tasting and tour of the estate. Reel back time a few years... I discovered Continuum Estate while watching an episode of Wine Library TV on the internet. Continuum Estate was created by Robert, Marcia and Tim Mondavi (Tim and Marcia are Robert's children). Tim Mondavi and his daughter Carissa were guests featured on the show. After watching the interview I was intrigued and knew that I would have to some day visit the estate. Our first visit to the estate was last May 2011. Since neither Mapquest nor Google maps do a decent job of navigating you to the winery, Lindsey emailed me the directions after scheduling a visit. The day had arrived when after lunch, we made our way to Pritchard Hill . The drive up was amazingly beautiful! Once we arrived to one of the estate houses, we were greeted by Lindsey who provided us with a fun and educational tour. The Continuum Estate is relatively new. She explained that they plan on digging tunnels and create a hospitality and barrel room. After we enjoyed some time touring the property in a rugged Jeep, we returned for a tasting in the estate house. After the tour and tasting was done, I knew I had to come back the next year to see the progress of the estate. We had no idea that when we arrived this year for our estate tour and tasting, that it was going to be very special! We approached the estate after enjoying a picnic near Lake Hennessy. There is a nice spot to park and overlook the scenery although there is a sign posted "No Picnics", we were discrete. It puzzles us why there is the no picnic sign near a convenient trash receptacle. The weather in the valley was amazing for the entire time we visited. I was hoping the sky would not be hazy such that we could see a view of San Fransisco from the top of the hill. Unfortunately it was not. However, the drive up was pretty awesome as expected. The speed limit is only 15 miles per hour and when you make the drive up, you will surely understand why. Along the right hand side driving up there are steep cliffs with no guide rail. Heather would not look over. There are a number of sections of the road that only allows room for one vehicle at a time. If you meet a vehicle as we did a few times, you may have to jockey around to pass each other. I find that pretty cool... We finally made it to the Continuum Estate and drove to the house. As we were exiting our suburban Lindsey again was the one who greeted us. We could see that she and another gal were setting up a picnic what looked like a lunch for another group. As we introduced our friends Dave and Heather to Lindsey, we were pleasantly surprised to see Carrisa Mondavi and her dog Bayla walk over and greet us. As luck would have it, Carrisa was going to be our estate guide and host us for a tasting that day! We began by heading into the estate house for a brief conversation about the winery, the history of the Mondavi family (great Minnesota roots!), and a review of some drawings of the final plans for the Continuum Estate. We finished the conversation and Carrisa escorted us to a new guide vehicle. She was really excited as today we were one of the first to ride in the brand new tour vehicle for the estate. Apparently, we were the second group to take a ride with her that day. Her dad Tim and a friend having been her first earlier. You could really tell she was stoked driving the truck! Bayla was at her side as we headed out for the tour. The first stop was a visit by the tasting room that was being remodeled. There were three colors on the exterior. It sounded like the color they selected will match the estates soil. While viewing the other color samples, we agreed with Carissa the color that matched the soil was a perfect match. We continued the tour and drove by some Cabernet Sauvignon vines, and at the bottom of the hill were Pertit Verdot vines. The vines had not flowered yet but it sounded like it would be happening very soon. Heading up the hill we could see some very young vines (babies). We concluded the estate tour and headed back to the house. After a quick brake, we all headed to a very large table for our tasting. Carrisa was seated at the head of the table with me to her right and Dave on the opposite side. There was a bottle of the 2009 Continuum sitting next to a filled decanter. I'm assuming the wine was decanted at least thirty minutes. Also on the table was a nice cheese (Mezzo Secco and San Andreas) and bread platter with Calvestrano olives. We also were introduced to the 2010 Continuum Estate Olive oil. I was pleased to see where the table napkin is located, was a card with our names welcoming us to Continuum Estate! We started a tasting with a Cheers! The 2009 Continuum was amazing. I wish I would have grabbed my tasting sheet. I can tell you the 2009 Continuum is a very elegant and well balanced wine. Even though Heather is not a red fan, she too enjoyed the balance and tannin structure. The finish was smooth and long. The aroma was quite pleasing. I could remember dark fruit and a light hint of cocoa. I feel you could drink it now or cellar it for many years. I have two vintages now and can't wait for the third. I plan on a vertical tasting and review in the future. We concluded the tasting and headed out back. The views past the tasting room door is stellar. You can see Lake Hennessy and other mountain tops. Carrisa was very willing to participate and take as many pictures through out the day. You can tell she loves what she does and is passionate about Continuum winery and her heritage! I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Carrisa and look forward to visiting the Continuum Estate again next year. We loved to see the progress and will definitely attend the first release party when the estate is fully operational. As we were about to leave, Carrisa's brother who was hosting a group from the east coast came over to great us. I made sure to mention we would love to participate in a wine dinner next time Continuum was in Minneapolis.

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Inwood Estates Vineyards   0
4.0

We spent the first weekend of "Spring" at our friends Cynthia and Dan's place in Austin Texas. Cynthia was my administrator prior to her leaving for a change in Austin. I surely do miss her and all of the help she used to provide. We really enjoyed our time there. One of the things they wanted to do while we were visiting was to hit a couple local Texas wineries. I was a little hesitant to try Texas wines but was willing to give them a try! The previous weekend we traveled to Wisconsin with friends sampling some of their local wines. I have to say I was NOT impressed with the quality of the Wisconsin (or Minnesota) wines. I realize that the University of Minnesota is trying really hard to produce a wine friendly grape that is hardy to our cold winters, but in spite of the slight improvements, there is a lot of work to be done yet before I will claim it "good". We began our Sunday morning enjoying a hardy breakfast. When ever you do any wine tastings, I recommend you start with a good base. If you go to tastings on an empty stomach you may find yourself in trouble the next day and trust me; a wine hangover is not fun! We packed our bags and loaded them into the SUV and had packed some water and snacks just in case. The trip to the wineries would be about an hour from the house and we would have to conclude our day departing from the airport. The views were nice and to our surprise the Texas Bluebonnets were in full bloom! Chris was very happy and we had to stop so she could take a few pictures. Here is a little history and information on Inwood Estates Winery and Dan Gatlin the wine maker: It has been a very long road from the beginning to the release of these one-of-a-kind wines. Dan Gatlin grew up in the retail beverage trade as his family was the owners & operators of the Hasty chain of wine, spirits and convenience stores in Dallas, Texas. His father, Vernon Gatlin, had worked his way up from Depression Era beginnings after Prohibition. After service in WWII, Vernon Gatlin returned to Dallas and established himself as an astute businessman building the A&A Company to 28 stores, and then Hasty to 15 convenience and 11 wine & spirits stores under his ownership. Vernon Gatlin died in 1981 and his wife Virginia passed away in 1988. Dan Gatlin built his wine skills as a buyer and eventually vice-president of the company. When Hasty was sold, he turned his interest to vineyard research. His close contact in the 1970s with the California wine industry had allowed him to directly witness the coming-of-age of that industry in a way that not many people were allowed to see in those days. He therefore began the long process of researching whether Texas held any possibilities for fine wine production by establishing one of the first vineyards in the state in 1981 sampling 22 all-vinifera varieties in Denton County, Texas. In 1997, Dan and Rose Mary Gatlin bought a large lot in a then-undervalued part of Dallas where they remodeled the house for their residence and established a 245-vine completely "urban" vineyard. This became a local point of interest and some early Palomino-Chardonnays were produced from there non-commercially as the yield was less than 50 gallons per year. In late 2005, the Gatlins moved from there but the name stuck as the winery was being built in another part of the city. Today the current owner of the Inwood Road property has taken an interest in continuing the urban vineyard and the 2006 grapes contributed to one barrel of "Urban Dallas" Palomino-Chardonnay which will be available by Christmas 2007. The business was established in 2004 and the winery built in 2005 which housed the first in-house crush. The 2003 and 2004 wines were custom crushed at Wales Manor Winery in McKinney, Texas where Mr. Gatlin served as winemaker for both vintages of Tempranillo-Cabernet. The 2003 Temp-Cab and the 2005 Palo-Chard were released August 1, 2006 to a great reception of restaurant customers in Texas' four largest cities: Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio. We arrived at the Inwood Estates tasting room around lunch time. I liked the overall feeling of the tasting room and the ladies there were very hospitable. The staff was preparing the tasting room for the day and were getting ready for a couple of large groups. We were welcomed in and encouraged to wonder around until they were ready for us. We meandered back to where the barrels and fermentation tanks were located and did some looking around. Stephanie greeted us and was ready for our tasting. Chris, Cynthia and I were going to have a tasting. We were provided a tasting sheet and worked our way through the various varietals. After my first taste I was pleasantly surprised as I did not think a warm weather climate (including not so cool nights during Verasion) could produce a quality fruit. During our tasting we were offered the following wines: 2010 100% Dallas County Chardonnay ($39.95 per bottle) 2009 Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon Blend ($39.95 per bottle) 2009 Cornelius Tempranillo ($39.95 per bottle) 2009 Magdalena Margaux-Style red wine ($49.95 per bottle) 2008 Magellan Pauillac-Style red wine ($59.95 per bottle) Segundo Red ($24.95 per bottle) Rubyna Ruby Style Port ($24.95 per bottle) The wines are served in numerous Texas restaurants. After the tasting concluded both Chris and I were impressed and decided to purchase some of the wines. We planned to share some at our next weekend "Winer" group get together. We ordered two of each and had a case delivered back to Minnesota. The tasting fee is $12 per person. However, if you purchase two bottles of wine that fee is waived. We decided to stay for lunch as the tasting room is setup with many tables and the ladies were more than happy to assist us. Of course we had to have a glass of wine with our meal, so we ordered a bottle of the Segundo Red. We were surprised at 2pm when two gentlemen arrived and started playing music right in the tasting room! Adding music on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon is a nice touch. We enjoyed our time at Inwood Estates Winery and would recommend anyone visiting the Austin area to go visit. If you do, please mention BillsWineWandering sent you there!

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