Perlis Picks: Family Winemakers of California – Again!

There are a few events that I try to go to every year. The annual Family Winemakers of California event is one of those. I’ve written extensively in the past about the important work this organization does for the wine industry as an advocate for wineries and ultimately benefiting the consumer. The organization has been a major player in obtaining rights for wineries to ship direct to consumer in the various states. Based in Sacramento [where the legal action takes place] FWC typically holds annual events in San Francisco and in Southern California.


On March 20th, 2016, nearly 90 wineries gathered in the Wyland Center at Del Mar Fairgrounds to pour for appreciative members of the trade, media and public their latest releases and promote not only themselves but the work done by the organization.

As usual, it was impossible to make a huge dent in the number of wines being poured. My wife Karen and I did our best to sample as many wines as possible. Here were some of our favorites…

Cantara Cellars – based in Camarillo, I enjoyed Mike and Chris Brown’s Franknvine blend of Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Malbec.

Cass Vineyard & Winery – a Paso Robles favorite. And the ever entertaining co-owner Ted Plemons now has a wine named just for him.

Chacewater Wine & Olive Mill – rich powerful wines from Kelseyville in Lake County. My favorite was the Petite Sirah.

Collier Falls – owner Barry Collier was pouring a selection of his wines from Dry Creek Valley. Loved the Petite Sirah and the Primitivo [don’t call it Zinfandel!].

Field Stone Winery & Vineyard – excellent Fume Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from this Healdsburg winery. But the Petite Sirah was my favorite, from a vineyard planted in 1894!

Rickards Winery – from Cloverdale in the Alexander Valley. Favorites were Fume Blanc and Petite Sirah. We felt the Fume was the best white wine we had that day.

Manzoni Estate Vineyard – really liked the Syrah from this Soledad winery.

PasoPort Wine Company – not sure why I had never tasted wines from this Templeton winery. They make a great selection of wines and ports. Liked everything I tasted. Tied for find of the day for me with…

Pech Merle Winery – from Healdsburg, great Zinfandel.

Prizm Winery – same owners as D’Anbino Vineyard in Paso, creating “special, small-run wines.” Cabernet Sauvignon showed great fruit.

Before closing, here’s a suggestion for anyone attending an event at the Del Mar Fairgrounds…

Right across the street is the Hilton San Diego / Del Mar. Very nice, well maintained hotel, and they offer a free shuttle not only to events at the fairground but to anywhere within a five-mile radius. The hotel restaurant, coastalKitchen, serves great seasonal dishes from local farms – don’t let the casual appearance fool you, the food is world-class. And, if you happen to be hanging out there after the FWC event, chances are good you’ll run into a winemaker or two, such as Jon Larsen who shared his delicious Cabernet Sauvignon from Angwin Estate Vineyards with us.

Michael Perlis has been pursuing his passion for wine for more than 25 years. He has had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show him the way, as well as a wonderful wife who encourages him and shares his interest. After a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting wineries and vineyards, and tasting as much wine as he possibly could, he had the amazing luck to meet Eve Bushman. Now, as Contributing Editor for Eve’s Wine 101, he does his best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers. Michael is also Vice President of Eve Bushman Consulting (fka Eve’s Wine 101 Consulting) and President of MCP Financial. Michael can be contacted at or