Just when I thought that I could possibly miss a WineLA.com event, founder and organizer Ian Blackburn creates another that sparks my interest – almost weekly! This time it was the California Wine STARS event that not only brought out some heavy hitter wineries that I knew, but also – as always – introduced me to producers that I didn’t know. We had less than 30 wineries, which is perfect for having the opportunity to chat with the winemakers. First I’ll share the teaser invite, and then the full wine list with notes in bold on which wines we liked best. If you just want photos go here. (And, as is my habit, if I don’t mention a winery or a particular wine it’s because I missed it, not due to any fault of the winery, just an outcome of palate fatigue.)
A focus on superior winemaking efforts from smaller producers of merit. We want to introduce you to the best in the business! Meet the owners, winemakers and executives that are changing the wine landscape as we know it: Santa Barbara – Paso Robles – Monterey – Sonoma – Napa Valley and all regions in-between. All varietals will be poured.
Alejandro Bulgheroni Estate – This was not the first wine I tasted, but it was my first favorite Bordeaux blend of the tasting.
Lithology, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2016
Aleksander Wine by S&G – both grand but I liked the 2014 a wee bit more.
Bordeaux Blend, Paso Robles, CA, 2013
Bordeaux Blend, Paso Robles, CA, 2014
Au Bon Climat
Clendenen Family Vineyards, Tocai Friulano Santa Maria Valley, 2016
Clendenen Family Vineyards, Nebbiolo, “Punta Exclamitiva”, Santa Maria Valley, 2011
White Wine Blend, Hildegard, Santa Maria Valley, 2017
Pinot Noir, Knox Alexander, Santa Maria Valley, 2015
Beekeeper Cellars – all great Zins but the Rockpile blew my socks off.
Zinfandel, Montecillo Vineyard, Sonoma Valley, 2016
Zinfandel, Secret Stones, Rockpile, Sonoma, 2016 Zinfandel, Hidden Hillside Reserve, Sonoma County, 2017
Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmel Valley, 2017
Marinus Estate, Bordeaux Blend, 2014
Gary’s Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, 2017
Rosella’s Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, 2016
Grenache Blanc, White Lotus, Camp 4 Vineyard, Santa Barbara County, 2019 Chardonnay, Fractured Emergence, Santa Barbara County, 2018
Red Blend, Unforeseen Alchemy, Santa Barbara County, 2016
Teroldego, Matela, Le Bon Climat Vineyard, Santa Barbara County, 2013
Bodega de Edgar – So cool to see Edgar Torres at this event. Met him a few times over the years and adore his wines. This time they all were fab, with the Priorato and Tarragona especially hitting all the right notes.
Albariño, Shale Oak Vineyard, Paso Robles, CA, 2019
Tempranillo, Laetitia Vineyard, Arroyo Grande Valley, CA, 2016
Priorato, Paper Street Vineyard, Willow Creek District, Paso Robles, 2017
Tarragona, Paper Street Vineyard, Willow Creek District, Paso Robles, CA, 2017
Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, 2018
Pinot Noir, Pommard, Sonoma Coast, 2016
White Zinfandel, Sonoma County, 2019
En Garde Winery – It’s kind of a joke around town that I’m no big Pinot fan. Tasting for my wine pals I have to say that they need to look for this Pinot from En Garde. It was my pick of the Pinots at the tasting.
Pinot Noir, Starkey Hill, Russian River Valley, 2018
HALL Family Wines – Loved both the Kathryn HALL red label and their flagship Cab. HALL is a longtime favorite of ours. Kudos to Ian and his team for getting this heavy hitter.
HALL Wines, Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, 2018
WALT Wines, Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, 2017
HALL Wines, Cabernet Sauvigon, Napa Valley 2016 and Kathryn HALL, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2016.
Hawk and Horse Vineyards – Always great to see this winery and the aged wines they always bring to the table. Loved the Petit Verdot, it really hit my sweet spot.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Hills, 2014
Petite Sirah, Red Hills, 2014, Petit Verdot, Red Hills, 2014 and Block Three Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Hills, 2016
Heitz Cellar – another big one out of Napa for us lucky tasters!
Chardonnay, Napa Valley, CA, 2017
Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA, 2015
Cabernet Sauvignon, Trailside Vineyard, Rutherford, CA, 2014
Cabernet Sauvignon, Martha’s Vineyard, Oakville, CA, 2014
Knights Bridge Winery – I had just visited the winery about six months ago and was happy to taste their affordable every-day reds for the first time. Well done.
Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Knights Valley, Sonoma, 2018
Estate Chardonnay, Knights Valley, Sonoma 2018
Estate Red Blend, Knights Valley, Sonoma 2016
Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Knights Valley, Sonoma, 2015
Ledge Vineyards – New to me and well worth the tasting, may have to seek them out for a future Paso visit. In 2016 they went to strictly Rhone varietals, they began in 2005 with a first vintage in 2009. Really liked the James Berry red Rhone.
Red Rhône Blend, Adams Ranch Vineyard, Willow Creek District, 2017
Red Rhône Blend, James Berry Vineyard, Willow Creek District, 2017 Counoise/Cinsaut Rose, James Berry Vineyard, Willow Creek District, 2017
California Red Blend, MCA Cuvèe, Paso Robles, 2017
Nelle Winery – Another new Paso winery for me. Ed loved the Grenache, I leaned towards the Syrah,
Pinwheel, Paso Robles, 2018
Syrah, Central Coast, Paso Robles, 2017
Grenache, Central Coast, 2017
Coastview Syrah, Paso Robles, 2017
Obsidian Wine Co. – A Napa winery new to me, liked their use of Hungarian oak, and am hoping to find their Cabs again.
Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Hills, Lake County, 2017
“Half Mile” Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Hills, Lake County, 2017
Estate Chardonnay, Carneros, Napa Valley, 2017
Estate Pinot Noir, Carneros, Napa Valley, 2018
Petrichor Vineyards – The perfumy aromatics on the Estate Syrah were outstanding. Also enjoyed the Syrah Grenache blend. Will be looking for these Sonoma-based wines again too.
Rosé of Grenache, Estate, Sonoma County, 2018
Grenache, Estate, Sonoma County, 2016
Syrah, Estate, Sonoma County, 2016
Syrah/Grenache Blend, Estate, Les Trois, Sonoma County, 2016
Pomar Junction Winery
Viognier, Pomar Junction Vineyard, Paso Robles, El Pomar District, 2017
Reserve Tempranillo, Pomar Junction Vineyard, Paso Robles, El Pomar District, 2015
Cab Forward, Pomar Junction Vineyard, Paso Robles, El Pomar District, 2014
Train Wreck, Pomar Junction Vineyard, Paso Robles, El Pomar District, 2015
Viognier, Estate, Los Olivos District, 2018
White Rhône Blend (The Brassman), Estate, Los Olivos District, 2016
Pinot Noir, La Encantada/Garey, Santa Barbara County, 2017
Red Rhône Blend (Enchevêtré Rouge), Santa Barbara County, 2016
Ridge Vineyards – Nice Zin blends from Sonoma, and another star winery at the event.
Estate Chardonnay, Monte Bello Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains, 2018
Zin Blend, Three Valleys, Sonoma County, 2017
Zinfandel, East Bench, Dry Creek Valley, 2017
Zin Blend, Lytton Springs, Dry Creek Valley, 2017
Scheid Family Wines
Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, 50/50 Estate, Monterey, 2014
Chardonnay, Estate, Monterey, 2014
Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey, 2014
Petite Sirah, Stokes’ Ghost, Monterey, 2015
Somerston Estate – The last winery on this list, was again new to me! Enjoyed the two Napa Valley reds, with a special nod to the Coach Gun Bordeaux blend. Definitely want that one again.
Somerston Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon, Somerston Estate, Block XCVI, Napa Valley, 2014
Priest Ranch, Red Blend, Coach Gun, Somerston Estate, Napa Valley, 2014
Priest Ranch, Grenache Blanc, Somerston Estate, Napa Valley, 2017
Priest Ranch, Sauvignon Blanc, Somerston Estate, Napa Valley, 2018
PARTICIPATING PRODUCERS and their Facebook links: Alejandro Bulgheroni Estate,
Aleksander Wine by S&G Estate, Au Bon Climat Winery, Beekeeper Cellars, Bernardus Winery, Bevela Wines, Bodega de Edgar, Carpenter Wine, En Garde Winery , HALL Wines, Hawk and Horse Vineyards, Heitz Cellar, Knights Bridge Winery, Ledge Vineyards, Nelle Winery, Obsidian Wine Co., Petrichor Vineyards, Pomar Junction Winery, Rideau Vineyard, Ridge Vineyards, Scheid Vineyards, Somerston Wine.
SILENT AUCTION: wineLA has raised over $500,000 for The T.J. Martell Foundation 501(c)(3) supporting Children’s Hospital Los Angeles funding children’s cancer research.
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits.