About Me:

My passion for wine has led me to my third career. First, many years in public relations and publications for colleges and universities in New York and New England. Then, as my children grew, a career as a high school English teacher so I could be home with them after school. Now that they are away at college, I enjoy working in the field I have come to love. In 2010 I earned the WSET (Wine and Spirits Education Trust, UK) Advanced Certificate, Level III, with Merit. I am now a candidate for the WSET's Diploma, expecting to finish in 2015. In the mean time, I'll continue to share my views as I examine all things related to wine.

Stony Hill Vineyard   0
5.0
5.0
9/21/2016

The next time I hear somebody complain that Napa is too commercialized, too touristy, I know what my response is going to be. Two words: Stony Hill.

Want to shed some of the creeping cynicism that’s starting to cloud your appreciation of the Napa Valley? A visit to Stony Hill will take you back to a Napa that existed before the clutter and the crowds, the glitz and the glamour. There is a timelessness to Stony Hill that might be just what you’re looking for.

And, when you get there, ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0

Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery   0
5.0
5.0
9/7/2016

If you’re a lover of American wine, and eager to know more about its upper echelon, then a visit to Spottswoode is a must.

Long regarded as one of the top producers of cabernet sauvignon in the Napa Valley, Spottswoode draws favorable comparisons to the top chateaux in Bordeaux, where, in the wineries along the Left Bank of the Gironde estuary, cabernet sauvignon also reigns supreme. According to influential critic Robert Parker, founder of the Wine Advocate, “if Chateau Margaux were in Napa Valley, it would be Spottswoode.”

Like its famed French ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0

Sequoia Grove   0
5.0
5.0
9/16/2015

You can’t be familiar with the better producers in the Napa Valley and not know the name Sequoia Grove. But there’s knowing, and then there’s knowing.

It wasn’t until recently, when I came across a few bits of Napa Valley history that described the winery’s 19th century roots, that I decided I wanted to know more about Sequoia Grove.

The present-day winery and its 24-acre estate vineyard was part of the original Rancho Caymus land grant given in 1836 to George Yount, the area’s first Euro-American pioneer. The grant stretched from ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
4.0

Chappellet Winery   0
5.0
5.0
7/16/2015

Chappellet Winery is not just someplace you pop into on your way to somewhere else. Being there is never a fun bit of serendipity, never a surprise. You have to want to go there. In fact, you should want to go there.

That’s appropriate given the Chappellet family’s pioneering role in today’s Napa Valley wine industry. Since 1967, when Donn and Molly Chappellet left Los Angeles, five children in tow, and traded in a comfortable, some might say more civilized, way of life for a new beginning half way up Napa’s Pritchard Hill, the Chappellets ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0

Quintessa Winery   0
5.0
5.0
10/6/2014

A visit to Quintessa is an invitation to enjoy what's best about the Napa Valley: committed relationships with the land, dedication to making fine wine, and the insistence on quality and sophistication in every task or gesture, no matter how small.

Built into a bank of wooded hills on the west side of the Silverado Trail, just past Conn Creek Road, Quintessa's unassuming entrance and the winery's façade are stunning examples not so much of minimalism as they are of restraint. This sense that a "less is more" philosophy can be elegant and powerful pervades ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
4.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0

Failla Wines   0
4.5
8/21/2014

If you spend too much time in certain corners of the Napa Valley, you start to believe that in order to make great wine you need to have a Great, capital G, winery. One with a tasting room tricked out in stone and steel, glass and marble. Paneled rooms filled with fine collectibles and walls covered in original art. Parking lots filled with limousines and luxury sedans.

That is until you visit Failla. At Failla, you are reminded that, at the end of the day, it's the wine that matters. The rest of the other ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
3.0

Keller Estate Winery & Vineyards   0
5.0
5.0
8/3/2014

For more than 20 years, on my way to visit family members in Petaluma and points west, I've seen the Keller Estate sign on Lakeville Highway. And for years my impression of the winery, based on nothing more than the look of the sign and its location in the flatlands north of the San Pablo Bay, was, well, less than impressive. I imagined that, should I follow the sign, I would find a simple, run-down, peaked-back-in-the-'70s establishment, more than deserving of its out-of-the-way spot on the border of lower Sonoma County.

Recently I had the chance ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0

Truchard Vineyards   0
5.0
5.0
6/9/2014

For years I've been driving through Los Carneros – that rolling strip of vineyards and farms hugging the bottom of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys – without really understanding what it was I was looking at.

Then I spent an afternoon at Truchard Vineyards. Now I get it.

The Truchard family helped to pioneer this area in the late 1970s, when much of the land was orchards or dairy farms. Starting with their purchase of 20 acres of prune trees in 1973, Tony and Jo Ann Truchard have been leaders ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0

Jordan Vineyard & Winery   0
5.0
5.0
4/16/2014

If you set out to visit Jordan Vineyard and Winery expecting it to be like some of the other wineries you've been to, you're going to be sorely disappointed. Jordan doesn't have many of the same things that most wineries offer.

Jordan doesn't have crowds. They don't have guests two and three deep at a long tasting bar. Nor do they have a high-pressured "hospitality" staff pushing you to join the wine club or have you walk out with wines you hadn't planned to buy. If you're looking for that sort of experience, then Jordan is ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards   0
4.0
9/5/2013

For tourists who love visiting wineries that have a little bit of everything, spending time at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards has to feel like hitting the proverbial jackpot.

Located in the southern Sonoma-Carneros area, across the road from its sister winery, Cline Cellars, Jacuzzi opened the doors to its 18,000 square-foot facility in 2007, but the production of Jacuzzi wines, under the auspices of Cline, goes back to 1994.

When people first hear of Jacuzzi Family Vineyards, one of their first questions is, “Is that the same Jacuzzi who…?” The answer ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
4.0
4.0
3.0
4.0

Cline Cellars   0
4.5
8/12/2013

For years, when friends who were vacationing in California asked me what wineries they should visit, I would send them to Cline Cellars. My experiences at Cline have been consistently positive ones. Despite always being busy, crowded with eager guests, the staff there always found the time to treat each visitor in a friendly, generous, and relaxed manner.

A few weeks ago I had a chance to see if the folks at Cline were still on their A-game. An old college friend was visiting and wanted to tour some good wineries. My first thought was, ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
4.5
4.5
4.5
4.5

Lambert Bridge Winery   0
5.0
5.0
8/4/2013

I like wineries that understand hospitality, wineries that take a subtle but undeniably professional approach to ensuring the comfort of their guests.

I like wineries that offer exceptional wines but don’t remind you of how wonderful they are every five seconds.

I like wineries where, once your tasting is finished, you try to find ways to stick around just a little bit longer.

Maybe that’s why I like Lambert Bridge so much.

Nestled in the heart of the Dry Creek Valley, just a few miles northwest ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
4.5
5.0
5.0
4.0

Buena Vista Winery   0
4.5
7/24/2013

The best place to start, it has been said, is at the beginning. If you want to learn about the history of wine in California, the best place to start is at Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma. Founded by Agoston Haraszthy in 1857, Buena Vista is the state’s first premier winery, and Haraszthy, a century and a half later, is revered as the father of the California wine industry.

Arriving in California from Hungary (via Wisconsin) in the wake of the Gold Rush, Haraszthy, known eventually as the Count of Buena Vista, was determined ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
4.0
2.5
5.0
5.0

Gundlach-Bundschu Winery   0
4.5
7/13/2013

Don’t plan to visit Gundlach Bundschu unless you are in a serious frame of mind. Serious about having fun, that is. At this historic Sonoma winery, family owned since its founding in 1858 and now operated by members of the sixth generation, the only thing they take seriously is their wine. Everything else is about having a great time.

GB is nestled on the eastern side of the town of Sonoma, where its founder Jacob Gundlach dubbed it Rhinefarm. The 320-acre, sustainably farmed estate, down from the original 400 acres purchased by Gundlach, is bordered ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
4.5
5.0
5.0
4.5

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars   0
4.5
6/2/2013

I should have known.

When you plan to drop into a winery before 11 a.m., you don’t expect the place to be already crowded. But I wasn’t planning on visiting just any winery. My destination was Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. Yeah, I should have known.

Ever since turning the wine world on its collective head with a surprising win at the now legendary Judgment of Paris in 1976, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellar (not to be confused with its neighbor, Stags Leap Winery, or the Stags Leap District AVA), has ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
4.5
4.0
4.5
5.0
5.0

Chimney Rock Winery   0
4.5
5/10/2013

If you have ever driven the Silverado Trail through the Napa Valley you have seen Chimney Rock Winery.

Maybe it’s the way the winery buildings sit back several hundred yards from the road, surrounded by some of Napa’s finest vines. Maybe it’s the way it looks, from a distance, like one of California’s historic missions. Possibly it’s the winery’s whitewashed walls that reflect the sunshine with a brilliance no artificial light can match. No matter which it is, you’ve seen Chimney Rock. And when you did, you said to yourself, I’ve got to stop in ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
4.5
4.5
4.0

Robert Sinskey Vineyards   0
4.5
4/29/2013

When my wife, two daughters, and I moved from Connecticut to California in 1996, everybody we met in our new town said we had to get up to Napa. We had to visit wine country. Well, being smart enough to follow the local wisdom, we hightailed it up the Silverado Trail to do as we were told.

The first winery we happened into was Robert Sinskey Vineyards (RSV). Although it was our first time through their doors, we were welcomed like long-lost relatives and felt immediately at home.

In ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
4.5
4.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0

Larkmead Vineyards   0
5.0
5.0
4/14/2013

In a business where braggadocio, self-importance, and delusions of grandeur seem to be standard operating procedure, it’s refreshing to come across a winery that chooses to keep a modest profile, to play it low-key. It’s also especially impressive when the winery in question has the history, pedigree, and reputation to push many competitors back into the shadows where they belong.

Welcome to Larkmead.

On land first developed by Lillie Hitchcock Coit, fabled philanthropist of the San Francisco Fire Department, and to whom several of the winery’s labels pay homage, Larkmead has been producing ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
4.5

Shafer Vineyards   1
5.0
5.0
4/5/2013

When you make a reservation to visit Shafer Vineyards, you’re immediately sent a confirmation email filled with all sorts of information about the winery and your appointment. If you read that document carefully, you learn just about everything you need to know about the Shafer mindset: precise, professional, and personal. Once you’ve visited this family-owned winery in the heart of Napa’s Stags Leap District, and enjoyed their industry-leading wines, you understand the attention to detail that goes into something as simple as an email.

The morning of my tasting was cool and the vineyards around ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0

Failla Wines   0
4.5

If you spend too much time in certain corners of the Napa Valley, you start to believe that in order to make great wine you need to have a Great, capital G, winery. One with a tasting room tricked out in stone and steel, glass and marble. Paneled rooms filled with fine collectibles and walls covered in original art. Parking lots filled with limousines and luxury sedans.

That is until you visit Failla. At Failla, you are reminded that, at the end of the day, it's the wine that matters. The rest of the other ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
3.0

Shafer Vineyards   1
5.0
5.0

When you make a reservation to visit Shafer Vineyards, you’re immediately sent a confirmation email filled with all sorts of information about the winery and your appointment. If you read that document carefully, you learn just about everything you need to know about the Shafer mindset: precise, professional, and personal. Once you’ve visited this family-owned winery in the heart of Napa’s Stags Leap District, and enjoyed their industry-leading wines, you understand the attention to detail that goes into something as simple as an email.

The morning of my tasting was cool and the vineyards around ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0

Larkmead Vineyards   0
5.0
5.0

In a business where braggadocio, self-importance, and delusions of grandeur seem to be standard operating procedure, it’s refreshing to come across a winery that chooses to keep a modest profile, to play it low-key. It’s also especially impressive when the winery in question has the history, pedigree, and reputation to push many competitors back into the shadows where they belong.

Welcome to Larkmead.

On land first developed by Lillie Hitchcock Coit, fabled philanthropist of the San Francisco Fire Department, and to whom several of the winery’s labels pay homage, Larkmead has been producing ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
4.5

Robert Sinskey Vineyards   0
4.5

When my wife, two daughters, and I moved from Connecticut to California in 1996, everybody we met in our new town said we had to get up to Napa. We had to visit wine country. Well, being smart enough to follow the local wisdom, we hightailed it up the Silverado Trail to do as we were told.

The first winery we happened into was Robert Sinskey Vineyards (RSV). Although it was our first time through their doors, we were welcomed like long-lost relatives and felt immediately at home.

In ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
4.5
4.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0

Chimney Rock Winery   0
4.5

If you have ever driven the Silverado Trail through the Napa Valley you have seen Chimney Rock Winery.

Maybe it’s the way the winery buildings sit back several hundred yards from the road, surrounded by some of Napa’s finest vines. Maybe it’s the way it looks, from a distance, like one of California’s historic missions. Possibly it’s the winery’s whitewashed walls that reflect the sunshine with a brilliance no artificial light can match. No matter which it is, you’ve seen Chimney Rock. And when you did, you said to yourself, I’ve got to stop in ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
4.5
4.5
4.0

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars   0
4.5

I should have known.

When you plan to drop into a winery before 11 a.m., you don’t expect the place to be already crowded. But I wasn’t planning on visiting just any winery. My destination was Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. Yeah, I should have known.

Ever since turning the wine world on its collective head with a surprising win at the now legendary Judgment of Paris in 1976, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellar (not to be confused with its neighbor, Stags Leap Winery, or the Stags Leap District AVA), has ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
4.5
4.0
4.5
5.0
5.0

Gundlach-Bundschu Winery   0
4.5

Don’t plan to visit Gundlach Bundschu unless you are in a serious frame of mind. Serious about having fun, that is. At this historic Sonoma winery, family owned since its founding in 1858 and now operated by members of the sixth generation, the only thing they take seriously is their wine. Everything else is about having a great time.

GB is nestled on the eastern side of the town of Sonoma, where its founder Jacob Gundlach dubbed it Rhinefarm. The 320-acre, sustainably farmed estate, down from the original 400 acres purchased by Gundlach, is bordered ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
4.5
5.0
5.0
4.5

Buena Vista Winery   0
4.5

The best place to start, it has been said, is at the beginning. If you want to learn about the history of wine in California, the best place to start is at Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma. Founded by Agoston Haraszthy in 1857, Buena Vista is the state’s first premier winery, and Haraszthy, a century and a half later, is revered as the father of the California wine industry.

Arriving in California from Hungary (via Wisconsin) in the wake of the Gold Rush, Haraszthy, known eventually as the Count of Buena Vista, was determined ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
4.0
2.5
5.0
5.0

Lambert Bridge Winery   0
5.0
5.0

I like wineries that understand hospitality, wineries that take a subtle but undeniably professional approach to ensuring the comfort of their guests.

I like wineries that offer exceptional wines but don’t remind you of how wonderful they are every five seconds.

I like wineries where, once your tasting is finished, you try to find ways to stick around just a little bit longer.

Maybe that’s why I like Lambert Bridge so much.

Nestled in the heart of the Dry Creek Valley, just a few miles northwest ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
4.5
5.0
5.0
4.0

Cline Cellars   0
4.5

For years, when friends who were vacationing in California asked me what wineries they should visit, I would send them to Cline Cellars. My experiences at Cline have been consistently positive ones. Despite always being busy, crowded with eager guests, the staff there always found the time to treat each visitor in a friendly, generous, and relaxed manner.

A few weeks ago I had a chance to see if the folks at Cline were still on their A-game. An old college friend was visiting and wanted to tour some good wineries. My first thought was, ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
4.5
4.5
4.5
4.5

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards   0
4.0

For tourists who love visiting wineries that have a little bit of everything, spending time at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards has to feel like hitting the proverbial jackpot.

Located in the southern Sonoma-Carneros area, across the road from its sister winery, Cline Cellars, Jacuzzi opened the doors to its 18,000 square-foot facility in 2007, but the production of Jacuzzi wines, under the auspices of Cline, goes back to 1994.

When people first hear of Jacuzzi Family Vineyards, one of their first questions is, “Is that the same Jacuzzi who…?” The answer ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
4.0
4.0
3.0
4.0

Jordan Vineyard & Winery   0
5.0
5.0

If you set out to visit Jordan Vineyard and Winery expecting it to be like some of the other wineries you've been to, you're going to be sorely disappointed. Jordan doesn't have many of the same things that most wineries offer.

Jordan doesn't have crowds. They don't have guests two and three deep at a long tasting bar. Nor do they have a high-pressured "hospitality" staff pushing you to join the wine club or have you walk out with wines you hadn't planned to buy. If you're looking for that sort of experience, then Jordan is ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0

Truchard Vineyards   0
5.0
5.0

For years I've been driving through Los Carneros – that rolling strip of vineyards and farms hugging the bottom of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys – without really understanding what it was I was looking at.

Then I spent an afternoon at Truchard Vineyards. Now I get it.

The Truchard family helped to pioneer this area in the late 1970s, when much of the land was orchards or dairy farms. Starting with their purchase of 20 acres of prune trees in 1973, Tony and Jo Ann Truchard have been leaders ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0

Sequoia Grove   0
5.0
5.0

You can’t be familiar with the better producers in the Napa Valley and not know the name Sequoia Grove. But there’s knowing, and then there’s knowing.

It wasn’t until recently, when I came across a few bits of Napa Valley history that described the winery’s 19th century roots, that I decided I wanted to know more about Sequoia Grove.

The present-day winery and its 24-acre estate vineyard was part of the original Rancho Caymus land grant given in 1836 to George Yount, the area’s first Euro-American pioneer. The grant stretched from ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
4.0

Keller Estate Winery & Vineyards   0
5.0
5.0

For more than 20 years, on my way to visit family members in Petaluma and points west, I've seen the Keller Estate sign on Lakeville Highway. And for years my impression of the winery, based on nothing more than the look of the sign and its location in the flatlands north of the San Pablo Bay, was, well, less than impressive. I imagined that, should I follow the sign, I would find a simple, run-down, peaked-back-in-the-'70s establishment, more than deserving of its out-of-the-way spot on the border of lower Sonoma County.

Recently I had the chance ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0

Quintessa Winery   0
5.0
5.0

A visit to Quintessa is an invitation to enjoy what's best about the Napa Valley: committed relationships with the land, dedication to making fine wine, and the insistence on quality and sophistication in every task or gesture, no matter how small.

Built into a bank of wooded hills on the west side of the Silverado Trail, just past Conn Creek Road, Quintessa's unassuming entrance and the winery's façade are stunning examples not so much of minimalism as they are of restraint. This sense that a "less is more" philosophy can be elegant and powerful pervades ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
4.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0

Chappellet Winery   0
5.0
5.0

Chappellet Winery is not just someplace you pop into on your way to somewhere else. Being there is never a fun bit of serendipity, never a surprise. You have to want to go there. In fact, you should want to go there.

That’s appropriate given the Chappellet family’s pioneering role in today’s Napa Valley wine industry. Since 1967, when Donn and Molly Chappellet left Los Angeles, five children in tow, and traded in a comfortable, some might say more civilized, way of life for a new beginning half way up Napa’s Pritchard Hill, the Chappellets ... Read full review



Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0