WSR Wine Blog

Wine tasting reviews, trips and stuff

Sonoma and Williams Seylem Weekend

A few weeks ago for a long weekend in Northern California wine country, a small group (11) of our Pinot group were able to enjoy the country side and fine wine, walk through the forest of vineyards on hilltops and valleys to enjoy a few of the producers of Pinot Noir and a few others along the Russian River Valley and Sonoma coast. 

This trip headed by our leader John Slater had a purpose, to visit a long time friend and wine maker Burt Williams (formally of Williams Seylem), coordinate dinners and gather wines that Bert and partner created in the early to late 90s made from a variety of vineyards. Through many Pinot group members and including Bert, a slew of wines were obtained and served at two dinner sittings at Dry Creek  Kitchen and Santi Restaurant.  (I have listed the wines below from the two sittings)

Over the course of the weekend we had tours at Williams Seylem new wine facility, Olivet Lane, Hirsch Vineyard, Brogan Cellars and a tasting at Selby winery.

Hirsch Vineyard

We really enjoyed the private tours at the mentioned facilities and tasting the new release of wines but one that stood out the most and was so appreciated was David Hirsch vineyards in the mountains up the coast line north of the Russian River Outlet.  He was very personable and really gave the group a real feeling as to what the process and history of his vineyard had gone through and continues to progress into making great wine, and it showed.

On Sunday through the numberous calls from Bert’s wife Jan, to her daughter, she scheduled a meeting for those still in the area to visit Margi and taste a few of her wines and hear about her story since Bert had been out of the business for nearly 10 years.  Margi is producing great wines and seems to have the touch in making great Pinot noir like that of her father. 

Margi of Brogan Cellars

I could go on and on over this weekend but I will just post the wines we drank for this special weekend and hope those who read this can and will enjoy wines from any of these producers as you will be experiencing quality at it’s finest.  I did not take notes on the Hirsh (I did buy wine) and Olivit Lane so anyone who can provide some additional details would be most helpful.

Selby wines were wonderful and we took her by surprise in her tasting room.  We tasted through all of here wines and ones that came to mind for me were the Sauvignon blanc and a non released sweet Simillon (get some) that was like liquid gold Saturn’s!    Her Pinot’s were great and she so graciously went back to her cellar and brought in some barrel samples of her upcoming releases.  She really has brought forth quality wines and look forward to drinking them again.

Thursday night we went to a Willi’s Wine Bar in Healdsburg which is a tapas style restaurant and had the following Wines:

Blanc Fume’ de Pouilly by Didier Dugueneoue
Cote- Rotie – E. Guigal
Jessie’s Grove – Carignane (02)
LeRoy Montagny (02)
chateau Certan, Pomerol (79)
Justin Justification (96)
Friday night – Dry Creek Kitchen 
Vueve Cliquot  1996 
Williams Seylem Sonoma County 1996
Williams Seylem Sonoma Coast 1996
Williams Seylem Sonoma Coast 1997
Williams Seylem Summa  1995
Williams Selyem Prescious Mtn 1996  
Williams Selyem Prescious Mtn 1997
Williams Selyem Coastlands 1996
Williams Selyem Coastlands 1997

Williams Selyem Olivet Lane 1993
Williams Selyem Olivet Lane 1996
Williams Selyem Olivet Lane 1997
Williams Seylem Allen 1992
Williams Seylem Allen 1994
Williams Seylem Allen 1996
Williams Selyem Allen  1997
Saturday – Santi Restaurant  
Paul Bara Brut NV 
Brogan Morning Dew Ranch  2006
Wooden Head Morning Dew Ranch  2007
Whitcraft Morning Dew Ranch 2008
Morning Dew Ranch  2008

Willams Selyem Russian River 1993
Willams Selyem Russian River 1994
Williams Selyem Riverblock 1997

Williams Selyem Cohn  1993
Williams Selyem Rochioli 1992
Williams Selyem Rochioli 1995
Williams Selyem Rochioli 1996

Willams Selyem Hirsch  1996
Williams Selyem Hirsch  1997
Williams Selyem Ferrington 1996
Williams Selyem Ferrington 1997

Brogan Cellars:


We tasted everything on her list below except the Chard and Zinfandel. 

2007 Lingenfelder Vineyard, RRV Pinot Noir
2006 Pinot Noir 10th Anniversary Cuvee, North Coast Pinot Noir
2006 Merlot Rosetti Brothers Ranch, Old River Road, Mendocino County Pinot Noir
2007 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
2007 Morning Dew Ranch, Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
2007 Buena Tierra Helio Doro block Pinot Noir ($90)

2007 My Father’s Vineyard “Margi’s Block” Pinot Noir
2006 My Father’s Vineyard “Shula’s Pond” Pinot Noir

2008 Hanson Vineyard Pinot Noir
2008 Morning Dew Ranch

2009 Anderson Valley (not released yet) Pinot Noir 

2008 My Father’s Vineyard “Jans Block” Pinot Noir 

 The highlights were the Helio Doro, My Fathers Vineyard (we bought the last few bottles).  Her 09 Anderson Valley was very good as well and you can buy futures. Then the Morning Dew was a good wine, the Merlot was a hit but was port like and 17%  alc. But lots of fruit!!

Just a great weekend and I look forward to returning and enjoying that Wine Country again!

Sonoma Trip Photos:


January 28, 2011 Posted by | California, Other Tasting Notes, Red Wines, Road Trip, Wineries | 1 Comment

Weekend at the Santa Barbara Vineyards

Spring growth in the vineyards!

This past weekend was the Annual 2010 Santa Barbara Vitners Festival in the Santa Rita Hills area outside of Lompoc Ca.  A great event put on each year by  the local wineries and restaurants to showcase the 130 wineries in the area and bring food and merchandise to accompany a delightful afternoon in the park.  

 This year seemed to show very exceptional wines and after tasting them on Friday, Saturday and Sunday it made for an extended venture to quite a few of the wineries to taste and purchase wines.

Below are some of the wines and wineries that I found to be producing great wines and worth venturing to there wineries if in the area.  I do have to note that most all Syrah wines we tasted were excellent, Pinot Noir were hits and misses for me but the ones I liked and my taste will be noted below.  We also tried a few Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc’s that stood out too.

Andrew Murray
 – 08 Viognier ($12.50 sale)
        – Syrah, Esperance, Grenache ($30-50)  (Ok, i’m bias)

Gainey  – 07 Pinot Noir ($48)
  – 06 Syrah ($42)

Fess Parker
 – 08 Viognier ($24)
 – 06 Syrah. Am. Tradition ($50)
 – 06 – Pinot Noir – Ashleys ($50)

Foxen Canyon
 – 07 Pinot Noir, Bien NacidoVineyard Block 8 ($54)

Foley Estates
 – 06 Pinot Noir, Barrel Select ($50)

 – 08 Sav. Blanc ($12)
 – 05 Cab. Reserve ($50)
 – 07 Granche ($25)

  – 05 Pinot Noir, estate ($45)
  – 06 Pinot Noir ($35)
  – 06 Pinor Noir, fiddlestix ($45)

I am sure there are many more that didn’t make the list, but these were my favorites of the weekend.  If any of you have a chance to go to this event in the future I think they have finally got it down to where it all works and there is plenty of room for people to roam.


April 20, 2010 Posted by | California, Other Tasting Notes, Recomendations, Recomendations, Road Trip, Wineries | Leave a comment

Sharing our trip to Australia and New Zealand

At the risk of boring you, I am sharing the scrapbook of our recent trip to Australia and New Zealand.  After keeping you informed of the 6-week sojourn, I thought there might be bits and pieces some of you might enjoy, either to bring back memories of your own visits, or in case you don’t find your way there in the future.  The photos have captions which provide at least some explanation of what you see, and we hope they provide at least some measure of enjoyment. 

The link for the picasa website is:

As we said at the outset, we went to places this time that we missed in our trip from 20 years ago.  Thus, no Sydney, Great Barrier Reef, south Island of NZ.  Also, as I put these together and did captions, I was reminded once again that we wished we’d spent more time in the Perth area, and wished we had taken more photos of the countryside in that region.  The only cross-over we had was in Adelaide and Victor Harbor.  Our Thanksgiving visit to Victor Harbor involved dinner and staying with Meredyth Cunningham who we had met 20 years ago on the Nindethana Sheep Station north of Mildura.  She and her husband sold the station, moved to a farm at Keith.  He subsequently died and Meredyth found a home in Victor Harbor, a delightful location, and at the same age as Judy, has returned to teaching school.  What a retirement!
For those who might have only passing subject matter interest, here is a breakdown by slide number
Koalas – 214, 216, 233-237
Kangaroos – 379, 404-407
Emu – 422-424, 441, 486-487
Dolphins – 459-470, 473-476
Ayers Rock (Uluru) and the Olgas – 342-359
Alice Springs (which I described as Barstow w/red soil) – 365-369, 334-340 (I never did take a shot of downtown, it’s really a nice place with about 25,000 population)
Wineries and vineyards:
-New Zealand 29, 32, 34-37
-Yarra 92-97
-Tasmania 140-146
-Coonawarra 280-287
-McLaren Vale 300-308
-Margaret River 381-403, 411-412
-Pemberton 426-429
The only places I had winery appointments were d’Arenberg in McLaren Vale SA and Leeuwin in Margaret River WA.  Both were excellent visits and a great insight into Australian culture and business.
Several have asked what we enjoyed the best.  For me, I loved the Hawkes Bay area of NZ, and driving the Great Ocean Road was a singular experience, akin to driving the Big Sur coast in CA.  We loved Port Fairy.  We also enjoyed the Southwest, but I must admit the flies did get to us a time or two.  Funny that we avoided them on the trip 20 years ago, but we sure discovered the “Aussie salute” this trip.  Finding Hillier Bay was also a singular treat for me.
I hope they don’t bore you to death, and if you decide to make your own trek, we can offer all sorts of hints and advice.  After we got home, Judy opined that it never seemed we’d been away from home.  Australia, moreso than NZ, has really become an almost carbon copy of the US, except for the driving on the left side and the funny accents, and the wonderful expressions, like “Good on ya, Mate,” when you do something well.

January 29, 2010 Posted by | Australia, Road Trip, Wineries | Leave a comment

Russian River Barrel Tasting 2010 info:

For Those interested:

Russian River barrel tasting site is .  Although it states that the event is Sat and Sunday, most wineries are open for the event on Friday.

We usually stay in Santa Rosa. I think we are going the first weekend this year. A few wineries don’t do both weekends. Ex., last year Raffinelli only did the first weekend, so we didn’t get to visit them. We have always gone the 2nd weekend but this time we are going the first weekend for the three days.

You can see the list of wineries from the 09 tasting if you go to that site. There were over 150.

Here is some information from website:

March 6-7 & 13-14, 2010
11:00 am – 4:00 pm each day
Wineries pouring on Friday (March 5 & 12, 2010)  will also pour 11:00-4:00

Join us as we celebrate our 32nd annual Barrel Tasting along the Wine Road!
    100+ Wineries!
   $20 In Advance – $30 At The Door
   Price Is Per Person, Per Weekend
   Tickets only sold online – Ticket sales begin January 18th
   Designated Drivers are $10 for each weekend

Submitted by:  Linda Martin

December 29, 2009 Posted by | Road Trip, Wineries | Leave a comment

Sodaro Winery – Update

Remember Don and DeeDee Sodaro, of the Napa Valley Sodaro Winery   Don is the Chairman of the Board here at Chapman, and came to my  tasting a couple of Septembers ago!  Well, he had a Sodaro tasting at Antonello’s restaurant here in Santa Ana recently, and now I have news.

1.  Did you know that the area of his winery is Coombsville, and the 12 wineries
in that portion of southeastern Napa is petitioning to become a separate
appellation?  You can google Coombsville for some more info about the region, if
you want.

2. He invited all of WSR to visit his winery.  He said:  “If you all get to
Napa, I’ll host a wine dinner at the Sodaro Winery for you, AND I’ll make sure
you can visit some of the other private wineries in the Coombsville region.”

So — what say you all?  Anyone interested?  Can’t be right away for me —
perhaps late spring or summer, or early fall?

– Charlene –

December 14, 2009 Posted by | Road Trip, Wineries | Leave a comment