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Finca Valpiedra: Valley of the Stones

Finca Valpiedra: Valley of the Stones


Posted on Aug 16, 2017

Echapresto brothers dinner

The last course of a most memorable meal

Valpiedra is a beautiful estate found in the Rioja Alvesa region of the Rioja D.O. in Northern Spain. We came to know this winery when we toured Northern Spain with Fine Vintage last fall. Fine Vintage not only arranged for a tour of this estate, but also a Michelin starred dinner paired with their delicious wines in the Bodega’s dining room. A truly amazing evening!

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Januik Winery: Roots Run Deep

Januik Winery: Roots Run Deep


Posted on Aug 9, 2017

Woodinville Washington

The tasting bar at Januik Winery in Woodinville.

We pulled up to the Novelty Hill-Januik tasting room in Woodinville, Washington on a warm sunny afternoon; the kind of bright day that really shows off the beauty of this spectacular facility. The design is simple: rectangular shapes made of just concrete, glass and wood. But that simplicity brings a sophisticated elegance to the space, the high ceilings create a feeling of airiness and the clean lines show efficiency. The main room is dominated by the long rectangular tasting bar with a fire place and couches at one end. It is a comfortable and beautiful place to relax and taste wine.

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book Cover

Sipping Santa Barbara by Charine Tan & Dr. Matthew Horkey

Santa Barbara County is a wine region that we are big fans of for a variety of reasons. Wineries there are producing world-class wines that are terrific value (comparative to other, better known regions), not to mention it’s still a relatively undiscovered area making it particularly fun and accessible to wine enthusiasts. So when we were asked to review Exotic Wine Travel’s latest wine book Sipping Santa Barbara: Recommended Wines & Producers we accepted the offer with great interest and fairly high expectations.

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Enkidu: Wines of Mythic Proportions

Enkidu: Wines of Mythic Proportions


Posted on Jul 26, 2017

Sonoma County

Part of the tasting lineup at Enkidu.

The wine world occasionally offers up a few treasures that seem to fly under the radar and offer great wines even though the winery is not well known. Enkidu is just one of those treasures.

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Russian River Valley

The sign to the garden onsite at Walter Hansel Bistro.

Our visit to this top-rated winery in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley actually began the night before. We had scheduled a meeting with proprietor Stephen Hansel at the winery and he suggested we might want to try his newly created Walter Hansel Wine and Bistro, a French-themed Bistro about a mile from his winery. We took him up on his suggestion and went for dinner there. This is a terrific bistro serving authentic French dishes made from locally sourced meats and vegetables. Our dinner was absolutely superb! This restaurant is a must-stop for any foodies that visit Sonoma County.

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No one will dispute that Napa Valley is the region that put California wine (and all American wine for that matter) on the world wine map. And while Sonoma Valley sits just on the other side of the Mayacamas mountain range that divides the two wine regions, it has seemingly struggled with its identity. Napa is synonymous with making world-class Cabernet Sauvignon. Sonoma, on the other hand, has so much diversity amongst its 17 AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) it isn’t as easily defined by one grape varietal. For example, they make terrific Pinot Noir in the Russian River Valley, outstanding Zinfandel in the Dry Creek Valley and excellent Chardonnay in the Sonoma Coast AVA. As a result, Cabernet Sauvignon winemakers in Sonoma generally sit in the shadow of Napa Valley. Laurel Glen Vineyard is one winery in Sonoma that is putting the wine world on notice that not only do they have the ability to make Cabernet Sauvignon, they have the ability to make GREAT Cabernet Sauvignon.

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Sonoma County: A Primer

Sonoma County: A Primer


Posted on Jul 5, 2017

Sonoma County

Some of the beautiful vineyards at St. Francis winery.

Sonoma County, the “Valley of the Moon”, truly is a bounty of riches: the long valley just 90 minutes north of San Francisco boasts spectacular scenery, a relaxed and laid back vibe, terrific restaurants and is producing top-rated wines from a diversity of micro-climates and grape varieties.

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Sonoma County

Some of the beautiful vineyards at St. Francis winery.

When we first wrote about the St. Francis Winery wine and food pairing, it was the sixth time we had enjoyed the experience. It speaks volumes that after six visits we’re still surprised and impressed by the menu; not once has a dish been duplicated nor have we been even slightly disappointed. And while we’ve been lucky enough to attend a number of wine and food pairings around the world, this one easily stands out as one of the best and is an absolute must whenever we travel to Sonoma County. We recently returned to St. Francis for the seventh time in the hopes it would continue to exceed our very high expectations.

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