Monday, November 18, 2013

Kickstarter Campaign Rolls out in Nevada for a new Vineyard & Winery

There's some debate about whether the Washoe County/Reno area qualifies as part of the Sierra Nevada, but I've always thought that it does.  And so, I'm proud to be the first participant in the Kickstarter campaign to create a vineyard and winery promoting Nevada Vines & Wines; read about it here..

The intro email: "Here we are, Ryan and Danny sitting in the winery, asking you to take a look at our proposal. CABNR and Nevada Vines &Wines have struck a deal to build a vineyard in Reno. You are invited. If you like our plan, help out with a tax free donation or some supporting comments.

The best way to create excitement about a new project according to Kickstarter is to generate some funding right away. So, if you intend to support Nevada Vines & Wines with a year end tax deductible donation, please do so right away."

Through my Wine Time column in The Tahoe Weekly, I keep an eye on Nevada's developing wine industry. This is a great step in the right direction!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

How to Analyze a Harvest Report

Harvest reports are flooding the wine industry media now. If you are a buyer of grapes or a winemaker already, you know how to view these reports. But for the “others” among us, the comments below from Elizabeth Standeven, who is the current President of the El Dorado Wine Grape Growers Association, give some perspectives that are useful and will enhance your appreciation of grower concerns at harvest time.

Elizabeth says, “One thing many growers (and wineries) tend to track pretty closely is Brix (a measure of how much sugar and therefore potential alcohol of the finished wine). Other things they should e tracking, but not all do, is TA (total acidity) and pH.

“These 3 measures (Brix, TA, pH) plus favors in the grapes are generally what growers and wineries try to optimize at harvest........that said, the optimal range of each measure isn't always met, so that is where winemakers earn their pay.

“In an ideal situation the grower and winemaker work together to decide exactly when to pick based on what these ripening criteria suggest would be ideal for the type or style of wine they want to make. Each winemaker has his/her own style and "tricks" they use to adjust the grape-must before's a matter of stylistic preference.

“Other things growers are looking at this time of year:

· Crop load....not exactly cluster appearance...more of a broad brush how much crop is out there and whether it is ripening uniformly or not.

· Bunch rot- lots of different kinds can also show up this time of year as the grapes soften just before final ripeness... these include several different kinds of molds and mildews that can attack, especially tight clusters or clusters that get rained on.

· Labor - another issue this time of year...a limited pool and if many varietals ripen at once...not enough hands to go around

· Tank space - while not exactly a grower issue, if a given winery takes in too much of varietal A and runs out of tank space for varietal B the grower could get a call saying the winery will take less than previously discussed

· Weather - too much excessive heat or rain this time of year can ruin certain grapes.

· Logistics - always an issue...getting the winery, picking crew, and equipment ready to go at the same time

· Birds and other critters eating your grapes - this year we are experiencing extra bird and turkey pressure on the Shaker Ridge, we had to put out more bird nets, borrow the neighbor's dog to chase turkeys and we have our annual visitations from the neighborhood bear(s).

· Hang time - for us, hang time isn't a concern usually....the grapes are ripe when they are ripe....if it takes too long to ripen (like in a cool year) then you run a greater risk of running out of good weather to fully ripen the grapes. At higher elevations and some later ripening varietals have more issues here.

I am sure there are other concerns out there, but this is what was on my mind today!

Shaker Ridge Barbera,
to be harvested soon

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

What is "Bottle Shock"?

With kudos to the folks at Bodega Del Sur winery, in Murphys, Calaveras County, I am re-printing the excellent piece from their latest newsletter, written by winemaker Brett Keller.  It's a great explanation of this phenomenon!

"Recently, Bodega Del Sur bottled some new wines for your enjoyment! During bottling, one of our crew asked, "What is Bottle Shock?" Well, there is a lot more to it than a clever movie showing California's dominance over French wine...!

"Bottle Shock" is the term we use to describe the tumultuous journey of wine from the barrel to the bottle. After staying stationary for up to thirty months in oak barrels the wine is suddenly taken from its slumber, moved to a tank, filtered, and pumped gently to the bottling line where it falls with gravity into the bottle. It's kind of like being rudely awaken from a good sound sleep and being thrown into a lake!

During the process of bottling we are also adding sulfites as a preservative to prevent spoilage and amend sulfur dioxides that naturally occur in wine. As we bottle the wines we treat them as gently as possible with slow movement of the wine, minimal use of sulfites, and almost compete lack of contact with oxygen, which can oxidize the wine too quickly. Despite our best efforts, all the components of the wines that came together over the last couple of years tend to be a bit shaken, and they temporarily become a bit disjointed... When the wines make the bottle we use inert gas and a vacuum sealer to cork the bottle to protect it. Once the bottle is corked it is almost an impermable vessel, other than the slow movement of tiny amounts of oxygen that passes through the cork.
Bottles ready for tasting and buying
at their Murphys tasting room
"Bottle Shock" will generally last for a period of three to six weeks, after which time the wine tends to recompose itself and once again prepare for its long cellar sleep, until you, our valued customers, have a chance to taste our efforts. We release our wines after the period of "Bottle Shock" has run it course, during which time we are frequently checking its progress towards readiness.

Until then, watch the movie 'Bottle Shock' with Alan Rickman. It is an entertaining rendition of what makes a small winery in the early seventies Napa Valley 'shock' the world with its sojourn into the annals of winemaking history...

Until next time, Brett Keller, Winemaker" 

For more info on their fine wines, go to

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Tasting the Gold of El Dorado Wineries at South Lake Tahoe Community College Foundation Event

Madrona Winery gets in the mood
with its Lake Tahoe-themed wine
One of my favorite Tahoe-area summer wine events is the “Taste of Gold,” which benefits the Lake Tahoe Community College Foundation.  Why the name?  Well, it’s all about wines from El Dorado, that California county over there on the South side of Lake Tahoe. The term El Dorado, meaning “the golden one” was coined by Spanish explorers in the mid 1500’s as they sought a city of gold believed to lie in the heart of the Amazon jungle.  To find your “gold” in terms of good wine from the Sierra Foothills, simply attend the event, held each year on campus.  Top wineries from El Dorado County offer many wines to taste.


Jen Tomei pours Boeger Wines
Boeger Winery, Placerville, 2012 Pinot Gris.  It has aromas of honey, peach and green apple. On the palate, I like the hint of spice and the fact that it is light and delicate makes it a great summer wine. Grapes are sourced from Boeger’s own Pinot Grande vineyard.  $15 the bottle.  13.5 percent alcohol.
Tina & Charlie Bruess
pour for Crystal Basin

Crystal Basin Cellars, Camino, 2010 Petite Sirah. A warm black cherry aroma leads to two distinct layers of flavor featuring, on the one hand, blueberries and on the other, soft tannins.    $27 the bottle. 15.8 percent alcohol.

Connie Varvais & friend
pour for Holly's Hill
Holly’s Hill Vineyards, Placerville, 2007 Patriarche.  This is a delicious blend of Rhone wines:  63 percent Mourvedre, 19 percent Syrah, 13 percent Grenache Noir, 5 percent Counoise.  Aroma and taste of strawberries, dark berries and plum with complex spices.  This wine has a nice earthiness, good acidity and smooth tannins.  I love this blend.  $30 the bottle. 14.4 percent alcohol.

Perry Creek Winery, Fair Play, 2011 Zinman Rose.  Aroma of strawberry and hints of flowers, and a taste that come in layers of all the fruits of summer.  This is a light, dry and delightful Rose that is easy to drink. $12 the bottle.14.2 percent alcohol.

Carolyn Silan pours
for Colibri Ridge
Colibri Ridge Winery, Fair Play, 2007 Barbera Fair Play.  Wow, a whopper of a wine at 16.1 percent alcohol but tannin-lovers will find this delicious with berry aroma that leads to a mouthful of lush tasting blackberry, cherry, raspberry and blueberries.   $21.50  the bottle.

Nello Olivo pours his wines for
Sarah Deliniere
 Nello Olivo Winery, Placerville, 2009 Merlot.  Try this wine if you’ve become jaded about Merlot.  It’s quite a bold Merlot, made in the Bordeaux style.  $39.50 the bottle.   13.7 percent alcohol.

Other El Dorado wineries pouring were Lava Cap and Madrona, both located near Placerville.

Lake Tahoe Community College is located in South Lake Tahoe; more at   Attendees enjoyed the event featuring El Dorado wines and the cuisine of Lake Tahoe, held on the Ledbetter Terrace and Demonstration Gardens at the College.

 If you missed this event, I suggest a visit to the tasting rooms of these wineries.  There are dozens of great visits you can make in a day from Lake Tahoe.  Check the El Dorado Wine Association map at

This review appeared in my Wine Time column, The Tahoe Weekly, on August 8, 2013


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Early Harvest Predicted in El Dorado County, CA...Hard Work Pays Off

"I am going to be relatively worthless for the near future...veraison in the vineyard and the last push of summer," wrote Elizabeth Standeven last week of the situation in her vineyards, Shaker Ridge Vineyards. Elizabeth is one of my treasured contacts in the Sierra Foothill grapegrowing community.  Elizabeth is as honest, hardworking and progressive a grapegrower as you will find anywhere, and her dedication to farming in the Sierra Foothill terroir is heartwarming.

The tempranillo will be the first red
to ripen at Shaker Ridge Vineyard
Earlier this year, she did a long interview that I wanted to post, but time just flew. You know how that goes. But here it is, a bit belated, but if you ever wanted to gain more appreciation for what goes into great grapes and therefore great wine, read on....


Elizabeth Standeven and her husband Andrew grow Barbera, Primitivo and five Portuguese winegrape varietals on seven acres of vineyard in a prime location at 1500 feet elevation in El Dorado County. They are like many small farmers: time-challenged.

“Right now,” Elizabeth said early in June, “we are literally in the weeds. We just mowed between the rows a few weeks ago because the rain is usually done at this time of the year. But with these constant little bits of rain we’ve had, the weeds are growing again. I’d like to talk more, but I gotta get out and mow again.”

It was difficult for Elizabeth to find 15 minutes to update me on the state of her vineyard, which actually reflects the status of many vineyards nearby in El Dorado County, California. Elizabeth, however, does take her position as President of the El Dorado Wine Grape Growers Association seriously, and any bits of awareness she can garner for El Dorado grapes has moved closer to the top of her multi-layered priority list.

The vineyard in early spring
“With this unusual spring weather pattern, our do-list seems almost endless,” she said. “So many of the tasks must be done in a tight window of time. For example, we need to thin the shoots for our Barbera; there are ‘way too many shoots. And we have to do this when the shoots are between one foot and two foot of growth. That’s right now.”

Other tasks on her list?

“Well, we just had bloom, so we must sample for nutrients and see what to add; we have to adjust things before you get too far into fruit set. We’ve got this ideal weather now, between 75-80 degrees, and this is ideal not only for bud burst but it is also perfect for mildew. So if we have vine growth, we have to start spraying to control the mildew, and whether you use sulfur or oil, this spraying must be done every 7 to 10 days.”

Then there is the need for labor. Elizabeth and Andrew try to do as much work as possible themselves on their 7 acres. At that size of vineyard, she notes, you can’t make any money unless you do most of the work yourself. “Unless you have a winery as well as a vineyard, it doesn’t pay to hire lots of labor. The truth is that who performs the tasks is very dependent on the size of the vineyard,” she said.

This year, as in past years, with the tight window of time to thin Barbera shoots, Elizabeth turned to her labor contractor to supply help. Her vineyard, Shaker Ridge, needed 100 to 120 hours of work to be done in 2 to 3 days time. But this year, labor was tight. Her contractor turned her down and she was scrambling to find help. “I don’t know what is more stressful, trying to do the work yourself, or trying to find help,” she said with exasperation. Finally their contractor sent some laborers to help finish the job, but Elizabeth and Andrew had already put in 60 hours between them on a beautiful spring weekend. Their daughter busied herself with schoolwork.
“This is one of the perils of being a small farmer. Scale is helpful in that respect.”

Providing high quality grapes to wineries in El Dorado County and elsewhere has been the role of small winegrape growers, and that isn’t changing very fast. New farmers come into the Sierra Foothills every year to grow winegrapes, largely because they want to get out of the corporate rat race and to be close to the land. Over half of the 70 members of the El Dorado Wine Grape Growers Association farm fewer than 10 acres.

“We have a lot of small vineyards here largely because of the mountain topography,” Elizabeth said. “There are some vineyards of more than 100 acres, but we don’t have any thousand-acre vineyards. In the middle-range vineyards, between 10 and 100 acres, some vineyard owners have extended families or grown kids who help them do the work.”

In the more remote areas of El Dorado County where so many small vineyards are located, labor will continue to be a concern. “In the Apple Hill area, where there are a dozen vineyards within a mile of each other, or in the Fair Play AVA, it’s possible to pool labor efficiently with the labor contractors. But so many of our members are all by themselves, farming a few acres in challenging terrain,” Elizabeth noted.

It is worth the effort. The grapes that these small farmers grow have intense flavor, gorgeous color, and are used to produce the delicious wines that are garnering Sierra Foothill wines more and more awards and recognition. The buzz in the wine business is palpable.

As to Shaker Ridge Vineyard, located up mountain in the little town of El Dorado, population about 4500, Elizabeth and Andrew are now in their 11thleaf. They bought vacant land, prepped it, and planted their vines in 2002. Now in their mid-forties, the former molecular anthropologist and her husband the toxicologist have no regrets. Will their elementary school daughter see farming as a career too?

“She is starting to see the light,” said Elizabeth.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Tahoe City Wine Walk Introduces Hundreds of Consumer to Sierra Foothills and other Wines

The 8th Annual Tahoe City Wine Walk presented tourists and locals a chance to taste wines from regional California wine producers as they sashayed the streets of downtown Tahoe City on a nice summer day. This fundraiser for the Tahoe City Downtown Association attracts great wineries and hundreds of wine lovers.

Julie Holeva, hostess at Tahoe
Mountain Brewing Company, pours
Main Street Chardonnay 2011
I started my tasting tour at Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company, where they poured a 2011 Chardonnay, Main Street Winery, St Helena, CA with grapes sourced from Santa Barbara County. The result is a wine with aroma of pear and tropical fruit, and taste of melon, lemon and apple, a hint of toasted almonds. It’s a nicely balanced and creamy wine, with a bit of spice. 13.5 percent alcohol. It’s on the wine list at Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company for $6 the glass.

Rosemary Bluhm of CG di Arie pours
for winelover Brian Aebi
A favorite area winery of mine is CG di Arie, based in El Dorado County. From its tasting location in front of Barifot, I sampled di Arie’s 2009 Sierra Legend, a red blend that won Double Gold in the 2013 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. This blend (35% Syrah, 25% Primitivo, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc) features grapes from the Shenandoah Valley of California. It has an aroma of berries and chocolate, with flavor of fruit, and some savory and smoky notes too. Well balanced and with a structured acidity, this is a food friendly wine perfect for summer meals! 14.3 percent alcohol. $35/bottle.

Bill Manson of Cielo
pours for Bill Youndt

Cielo Estate of El Dorado County, poured wine at the North Tahoe Arts Center. The yummy 2011 Magnifique, El Dorado, is a blend of 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc. Wine Director Bill Manson was on hand to discuss this wine, which features flavors of red fruits such as black cherry, currant and cassis. It is smooth, silky, and has a lingering finish. 13.9 per cent alcohol.

Mount Aukum, El Dorado County, chose Blue Stone Jewelry as its pouring venue. I tasted the 2007 Syrah from the Fair Play AVA, and enjoyed this full-bodied wine. The flavor is classic Syrah: very berry and firm spices with smoky tannins. 15.7 percent alcohol. $35/bottle. Buy at Blue Stone Jewelry in Truckee or go to

Hatcher Sauvignon Blanc
featured at Uncorked
As you might expect, Uncorked in the Cobblestone Mall, Tahoe City, had many of these wines on hand for tasting and sale. Their feature was Hatcher’s 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Sierra Foothills. A nice citrusy nose of grapefruit, and flavor of lime and green apple. The medium acidity makes this a great summer wine! 14.3 percent alcohol. $18/bottle.
Bogle Merlot at
Alpenglow Sports
Bogle’s 2011 Merlot is a crowd-pleaser, and widely available. Alpenglow Sports hosted this winery, and lines were long to sample this well-known wine. Cherry cola is the dominant flavor, with currant and fig mingling with a pleasant herbal nature. It has a smooth and lovely mouthfeel. 13.5 per cent alcohol. Internet prices as low as $10/bottle! Now, that’s a sweet spot for the summer!

This information first appeared in The Tahoe Weekly newspaper, where I write the Wine Timecolumn, on July 3, 2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Greg Baiocchi Speaks Out on his GST: it’s Pretty, Seductive, Complex

Greg Baiocchi
is Mr GST
“Like many in the wine business, I am tired of what one wine writer refers to as “that old CabChardPinot thingy”. And so when we established Baiocchi Wines and Vineyards, we had a definite winemaking philosophy and vineyard plan,” notes Greg Baiocchi.

“In many ways, I am a “millennial”winemaker: I like to experiment. Baiocchi is a new winery so we can afford to be different, as there are no expectations imposed from the wine critics yet. I want to be authentic. I want to deliver an experience that emanates from the vineyard and finds its way to the glass. I like to co –ferment the fruit, and that’s a point of origin of our blend, GST. One wine lover has called me “Mr GST” because I believe in originality in my blends, and GST is a blend that is pretty, seductive, and complex.
Our winemaking philosophy, briefly, is that we co-ferment, use indigenous yeast, balance our use of new French oak, and believe in unfined and unfiltered wines. We want to bring the fruit to the glass with as much transparency as possible. The vineyard philosophy was to plant Mourvedre, Grenache, Syrah & Tempranillo because of the excellence of our terroir for these varieties.

From a strategic winemaking viewpoint, these varietals all work well together in any growing season. This vineyard mix allows me to make handcrafted wines no matter what Mother Nature throws our way each year.

Our site in the FairPlay AVA of El Dorado County, CA., is perfectly suited for these varietals. I manage the vineyard to the terroir, which allows me to produce wine of defined character. To me, creating a sense of place in our wines was critical to the winery business plan.

To enhance the sense of place, all our wines are fermented on indigenous yeast, with little or minimal intervention. This winemaking technique allows the purity and freshness of the fruit to come forward, thus further imparting a sense of place in our Baiocchi wines.

Gminor, our signature blend of Grenache-Syrah-Tempranillo, was our second experiment with co –fermenting.

Why GST?

I studied these varietals and where they originated and how they are blended throughout Spain and France. I believed this blend would be a complex hybrid of origin, our El Dorado terroir, and fresh taste.

And so I handcrafted a wine that was pretty, seductive yet complex.

G minor:
a GST blend
Our GST is accessible at an early age, and can be opened anytime to share but still delivers structure that stands up proudly to food pairings. We see it marching ahead on wine lists at a value price ($24.00) to consumers of all ages, but perhaps it will be particularly attractive to Millennials.

Grenache(44% of 2011 G minor) is so versatile and brings so much to the table. This is the pretty part of the GST blend, with great aromatics, nicely floral, and a strawberry essence -- it consumes the senses and is what captures you when first meeting the wine.

Syrah (32% of 2011 G minor) provides the weight, the curves, the seduction of the GST blend . Syrah holds the wine on the mid palate, melding blue fruit with all the red fruit of Grenache. It plays an important role in the blend, because holding the wine on the mid palate long enough allows the acidity to catch up and then… the Tempranillo!

Tempranillo’s earthy tannins bring the structure, complexity and length to the finish in the GST blend. Tempranillo constitutes 24% of 2011 G minor.
The compatibility of these three varietals is what makes Gminor great for food. Overall it is a medium-weight wine, earthy and ripe.

Where does GST go next? Well, Christian Miller tasted this and put it on Spago (Beverly Hills) wine list. We are confident at Baiocchi that GST, at a $24 retail price point, will find a welcome in the marketplace.” 
Read more about this GST wine, and Baiocchi Wines and Vineyards, at
Greg and Sharon Baiocchi
in their brand-new tasting room
on Main Street, Sutter Creek CA

Friday, May 31, 2013

June's Grand Opening for Baiocchi Wines Tasting Room brings “Mr. GST” into the Limelight

Vineyard owner and winemaker Greg Baiocchi is a little shy about claiming the title “Mr. GST”, but it’s apt. Like a growing number of winemakers, Greg is an advocate of experimentation with creative blends that bring out the sense of place in a wine. Greg’s co-fermented “G minor”will be one of the sought=after Baiocchi wines during the Grand Opening of their Tasting Room at 82 Main Street in Sutter Creek, CA, on June 1.

Named after Rachmaninoff’s Opus 23 # 5 in G minor, this wine’s GST blend (Grenache Syrah Tempranillo) exemplifies the power and finesse that is Greg’s passion in both winemaking and music. A professional bass player for many years, Greg tends to gravitate toward complexity in music and wine. The GST blend, G minor, is the result of Greg Baiocchi’s desire to have his vineyard’s varietals “play well together”.

G Minor (GST)
“G minor is the result of co-fermenting Grenache, Syrah and Tempranillo, three varietals that have been blended together occasionally, mostly two at a time but rarely three at a time. To my knowledge, they have never been co-fermented,” Greg says.

“In this GST wine, the Grenache is the finesse of our G minor, allowing for a softer experience when the wine first hits the palate. Strawberry and dried cherries with soft lushness, then blue fruits enter as the wine hits the mid-palate. The wine then finishes with firm earthy tannins, quite a bit of structure and some of the power that comes from huge hands… a wine just like Rachmaninoff would have created if he were a winemaker,” Greg said.

During the June 1 opening celebration of their new tasting room, winery owners Greg and Sharon Baiocchi are pouring their high quality, small lot wines made from their estate-grown Sierra Foothill grapes. Featured wines include Baiocchi 2010 Orellana (60% Tempranillo, 40% Grenache), Baiocchi 2010 Grenache Sharon’s Vineyard, gb 2011 G minor (Greg’s unique “GST” blend of 44% Grenache, 32% Syrah and 24% Tempranillo), gb 2012 Neophyte Rose (100% Grenache), and gb 2012 del papa (a co-fermented blend of 70% Viognier and 30% Roussanne). The Baiocchi family also grows Syrah and Mourvedre in their 12 acre vineyard and will soon be releasing more wines containing those Rhone varietals.

The new Baiocchi tasting room at 82 Main Street, Sutter Creek, CA, joins a growing group of elite wineries that comprise Sutter Creek’s “Wine on Main”wine tourism initiative to bring wine lovers to this historic Amador County destination for a day or two of tasting enjoyment. Baiocchi Wines have won many kudos since their first vintage in 2009, including accolades from Jeb Dunnuck (now at Wine Advocate) and The Purely Domestic Wine Report. Go to for more information.

More about Baiocchi Wines
Greg and Sharon Baiocchi’s passion for making great wine was born from a passion for enjoying it – namely, with friends and family. As a second career, Greg pursued an education in viticulture and winemaking through the U.C. Davis Extension Winemaking Program and is the Operations Manager of the enterprise. Sharon handles Marketing and Customer Relations. The mission of Baiocchi wine is to produce premium, small lot wines, and to stay focused on the land, the fruit, the wine, and the life. Baiocchi’s handcrafted wines feature Southern Rhone and Rioja style wines made in the Sierra Foothills with Baiocchi estate grown grapes. Greg is known in the California wine industry as “Mister GST” for his pioneering blends of Grenache, Syrah and Tempranillo.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Baiocchi Wines joins elite Tasting Rooms in Sutter Creek-Amador County

Baiocchi Wines Opens New Tasting Room in Sutter Creek

Greg Baiocchi, hammer in hand and ladder underfoot,
 puts the finishing touch on the
 Baiocchi Tasting Room sign,
 at 82 Main Street, Sutter Creek, CA.n
Directions for wine fun beginning on June 1: Set your GPS for N38 23.58204 W120 48.14621 or just get on picturesque Route 49 in Amador County, CA. Head for Gold-Rush-historic Sutter Creek, and stop at the tasting room of Baiocchi Wines at 82 Main Street, Sutter Creek, CA.

During the June 1 Grand Opening Celebration of their new tasting room, winery owners Greg and Sharon Baiocchi will pour their high quality, small lot wines made from their estate-grown Sierra Foothill grapes. Featured wines include Baiocchi 2010 Orellana (60% Tempranillo, 40% Grenache), Baiocchi 2010 Grenache Sharon's Vineyard, gb 2011 G minor (Greg's unique "GST" blend of 44% Grenache, 32% Syrah and 24% Tempranillo), gb 2012 Neophyte Rose (100% Grenache), and gb 2012 del papa (a co-fermented blend of 70% Viognier and 30% Roussanne). The Baiocchi family also grows Syrah and Mourvedre in their 12 acre vineyard and will soon be releasing more wines containing those Rhone varietals. All Baiocchi wines are available for tasting and purchase in the Tasting Room.

The new Baiocchi tasting room joins a growing group of elite wineries that comprise the "Wine on Main" wine tourism initiative to bring wine lovers to this historic Amador County destination for a day or two of tasting enjoyment. Charming hotels and restaurants nearby provide an experience that will provide visitors with a sense of California history and tastes of wine with a true sense-of-place.
Sutter Creek holds an important place in both Gold Rush and California wine history. John Sutter discovered gold in 1848 at nearby Coloma and located his mining camp on Sutter Creek. Sutter said that his work was going well "until three or four traveling grog-shops surrounded was taken to these places for drinking, gambling etc and then the following day they were sick and unable to work." Times have changed in Sutter Creek, which incorporated in 1913 and is now an exciting tourist and wine tasting destination, featuring eight quality wine brands and appealing tasting rooms. Sutter Creek is located in Amador County, CA, "The Heart of the Mother Lode". The word "Amador" means "one who loves"... in this case, Baiocchi's fine wines.

Baiocchi Wines have won many kudos since their first vintage in 2009, including accolades from Jeb Dunnuck (now at Wine Advocate) and The Purely Domestic Wine Report. Go to for more information.

About Baiocchi Wines
Greg and Sharon Baiocchi's passion for making great wine was born from a passion for enjoying it - namely, with friends and family. As a second career, Greg pursued an education in viticulture and winemaking through the U.C. Davis Extension Winemaking Program and is the Operations Manager of the enterprise. Sharon handles Marketing and Customer Relations. The mission of Baiocchi wine is to produce premium, small lot wines, and to stay focused on the land, the fruit, the wine, and the life. Baiocchi's handcrafted wines feature Southern Rhone and Rioja style wines made in the Sierra Foothills with Baiocchi estate grown grapes. Greg is known in the California wine industry as "Mister GST" for his pioneering blends of Grenache, Syrah and Tempranillo.

For more information:
Greg Baiocchi (aka Mister GST)
Baiocchi Wines
2145 Hidden Ranch Rd.
Fair Play, CA 95684

 Baiocchi Wines is a proud member of the El Dorado WineGrape Growers Association


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Truckee River Winery - the Highest and Coldest Winery in California

The wine, the fireplace and the good appetizers are three good reasons to stop into the cozy tasting room at the Truckee River Winery on Brockway Road, Truckee. Allow time to chat with winemaker Russ Jones, and make sure that you taste his Pinot Noir. It’s a perfect way to end a ski weekend!

Russ Jones, Winemaker

After Russ earned his B.S. in Oenology UC Davis’ famous winemaking program , he worked at a few wineries and returned to his hometown of Truckee. His vision was to source quality grapes, and then bring fruit to Truckee to take advantage of the high elevation and cold temperatures, naturally cooling the fermentation and slowing down the barrel aging process. “Thus we became the highest and coldest winery in California,” Russ said. “Our focus from the beginning has been to produce handcrafted wines with great structure and finesse.”

At the Tasting Room you can taste and buy these and other wines:

2009 Garys' Vineyard Pinot Noir. Just released, the grapes for this wine comes from the eponymous vineyard in Santa Lucia Highlands. The flavor is of dark berries, cassis, briar and black tea. There’s a nice mid pallet structure, and medium tannins. 15 percent alcohol. $45/bottle

The 2008 Reserve Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, just received a Double Gold at the San Francisco Chronicle competition. This is an ultra velvet, ultra smooth, and complex wine. 13 percent alcohol. $55/bottle.

2011 White Barn Pinot Gris. A great affordable white wine that is crisp, clean, and with a hint of pear and apple. Grapes are sourced from the Apple Hill area of El Dorado County, Sierra Foothills. 13.4 percent alcohol. $14/bottle.

2009 Red Barn Red-Red Table Wine. A blend of Merlot and Zinfandel, the result is a very drinkable wine that goes well with many dishes. 12.8 percent alcohol. $16/bottle.

The 2009 Chicago Park Merlot is vinified from grapes grown in the Bear River vineyard in Chicago Park, Nevada County, Sierra Foothills. The grapes from this 3200-foot high vineyard results in wine with a concentrated flavor, a very berry taste and great structure. 13.2 percent alcohol. $18/bottle.

The Red Barn Red Apres Dessert Wine is a blend of several traditional port varietals. Tawny, rich and sweet, it goes well with chocolate and strong cheese. A perfect after-dinner wine! 18.5 percent alcohol. $18/bottle.

The Truckee River Tasting room is located at 11467 Brockway Road, Truckee CA 96161. 530-587-4626. Open 12:00p-7:00p every day

Sparkles & Wine: Bluestone Wine is Truckee Specialst in Sierra Foothill Wines

Lynette Astors, right, pours
Sierra Foothill wines for customers
There are two things that pair well with women and also with men: fine jewelry and fine wine. That’s why I like the concept that Lynette Astors is helping to nurture at Bluestone Jewelry and Wine in downtown Truckee. I’ve known Lynette for many years, and seen her grow in wine knowledge by attending tastings and functions at L'uva Bella Wine Gallery in Reno and helping Rombauer Vineyards grow in recognition by pouring at many of their Tahoe area events. Now she is adding her own sparkle to the wine shop in the back of the Bluestone’s Truckee store, They are becoming local specialists in wines from the Tahoe basin, namely Sierra Foothill wineries.

I decided to sample the Sierra Foothill ports from a variety of wineries, and looked over some nice jewelry pieces at the same time. The ambience of this 1850’s building with exposed brick and reclaimed barnwood floors is conducive to a relaxed afternoon of browsing and tasting. Many locals know this lovely location from its previous incarnation, as “OB's” building.

Narrow Gate Vineyards, located in Placerville, features its Lot '10 Chocolate Splash, El Dorado County, at the store. This Port is made from six classic port varietals and is infused with 1.25% bittersweet, natural chocolate essence . Hold up the glass and you’ll notice the jewel-tones that characterize this and other ports. Chocolate Splash is winery owner Frank Hildebrand's "special blend". 18 percent alcohol. $32/bottle (500 ml).

Grant Eddie’s winery, located in Oregon House, Yuba County, is one of the few California vineyards to establish plantings of a range of grapes from the Douro region of Portugal. Bluestone features the tasty Grant Eddie 2010 Port, which is blended from five different varieties of grapes grown in the Ramey Mountain Vineyard. The blend includes the traditional Douro grapes Touriga Nacional, Tinta Cao, Tinta Amarela, Tinta Madeira, and Sousao, and a touch of Syrah. 19 percent alcohol, $31/bottle.

The Mount Aukum Winery, Somerset, El Dorado County, features its port-style wine, 2008 vintage Ace of Hearts, at Bluestone. This delicate port style wine is really tasty, and is a blend of Tempranillo, Touriga, Tinto Cao, and Souzao grapes. If you are not thinking about blueberries already, you will when you taste this wine. 18.2 percent alcohol. $29/ bottle.

There are many other wines to sample at Bluestone Jewelry and Wine, located at 10046 Donner Pass Road, Ste. 3, Truckee. Hours: everyday 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. 530-582-0429.