charles krug

2014 Taste of Howell Mountain Photos

The 2014 Taste of Howell Mountain was held at the Charles Krug Winery on Saturday, June 14th. Over 35 wineries were on hand pouring wines and guests were treated to some great finger foods. Guests also had a chance to bid on silent and live auction items. The live and silent auctions raised over $150,000 this year for the benefit of Howell Mountain Schools.

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One of the most interesting items ever auctioned at the annual Taste of Howell Mountain was a barrel of Dunn Vineyard sourced wine. The starting bid on the approximately 23 cases of wine was $19,000. The winning bidder paid $22,000 for this one of kind item.

The turnout was a new record as well. Over 400 people attended, paying $125 for a ticket and as much a
s $250 at the door. Next year’s event is sure to be sold out well in advance, so get your tickets well in advance!

Howell Mountain Vintners and Grower’s Association website



Charles Krug Winery Celebrates 150 years

150th Anniversary Magnum

150th Anniversary Magnum

Follow the hashtag #CharlesKrugLive on Twitter at 8pm EST on Wednesday May 28th.  The virtual tasting will be hosted by Peter Mondavi Jr.  This year also marks Peter Mondavi seniors 100th birthday.  During the virtual tasting fans who have picked up their own bottles of the current Charles Krug vintages will be guided through a tasting and discussion. The Charles Krug Winery is also releasing a very limited production 150th anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon in magnum format from their 2008 vintage.

Weekly Wine Journal “Best of 2013” List

Best of 2013

If you’ve been following the Weekly Wine Journal for a while, you’ll notice that there was no “Best of” list for 2012.  This was mainly a time constraint and not an oversight.  However, 2013 was a great year for the Weekly Wine Journal, too great of a year not to share a best of list! Highlights include a trip to Napa Valley and attending the Arizona Wine Grower’s Association awards banquet at Quiessence restaurant in Phoenix.  There were also a lot of fabulous wines and wine events.  The “Best of” list is a compilation of the best wines, wine bars, and restaurants from 2013.  The wines were not necessarily released in 2013, but were consumed in 2013.  The list reflects the best experiences in 2013.

Best Red Wine: Chateau L’Arrosee, 2005.

wine bottle

Weekly Wine Journal’s Red Wine of the Year

Chateau L’Arrosee  was acquired by Quintus SAS, a subsidiary of Domaine Clarence Dillon in October of 2013.  The merger will bring 28 hectares of prime vineyard under Quintus management and we should hopefully see a continuation of the L’Arrosee label.  This wine is absolutely fantastic.  I had this on new year’s eve, and I just new fairly early into the bottle that this was my “wine of the year”  This wine is still young.  It is BIG.  Complex.  A very nice balance of fruit (plums cherries) and minerality and terroir.  I only wish I had more of it, I’d love to continue to experience it throughout its life cycle.  See the links at the bottom of this article for more info on the Dillon family acquisition of this brand.

Best White Wine:  Sand Reckoner, 2012 Malvasia Bianco, Cochise County, Arizona


Weekly Wine Journal’s “White Wine of the Year, 2013”

This wine hails from Cochise County, Arizona.  Wine in Arizona?? you might be saying.  Yes.  And it’s damn good.  This wine has a beautiful nose of flowers,melon, and sweet lemon zest. and you’d expect it to be sweet but it isn’t.  The palate is medium bodied, ultra crisp, clean and very dry.   This wine did not undergo malolactic fermentation and was aged in neutral oak.  It’s 100% Malvasia Bianca, 13.6% alcohol and $28 a bottle.  Only 72 cases were made.  See the links below for Sand Reckoner contact info.

Best Buy and Hold: Charles Krug, 2010 Estate Selection, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley


The Charles Krug Winery does not always produce this wine.  In an interview I did with Peter Mondavi jr, he said that if the fruit/wine is not up to standard they’ll just skip a vintage or two.   This wine is still extremely young, but it is showing nicely right now and surprisingly approachable.  The nose on this wine is explosive, over the top and never ending.  I actually had a glass of this wine on a Monday night and 4 days later on a Thursday night I brought out the remainder of the bottle at the end of a wine tasting and this wine completely blew away everything that was being served.  Even after 4 days of being open!

Best drink now: Altamura, 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

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This wine is ready to drink NOW.  Beautifully smooth and refined.  Huge and dense.  The color is black, but reddish brown on the edges.  Pair this with Prime Ribeye only.  Again, I wish I had more.

Best wine under $10:  Vina Eguia 2007 Rioja Reserva, Tempranillo, Spain.

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This wine retails for about $10 and I regularly find it at Costco for $7.99.  This is a ridiculously good value.  It’s a nice fruit forward every day drinking wine.  I’d stock up on cases of this for entertaining if I had the space to store it!

Best Wine Restaurant: Smith & Wollensky, Las Vegas

Old school steakhouse, new school wine list.  The prices are a bit high, you can expect to pay about 3X’s retail for wine, but that’s Las Vegas.  The service is great, the wine is served in appropriate stemware and actual wine list is extensive.

Best Wine Tasting:  The Taste of Howell Mountain, St Helena, Napa Valley.

Where else would you get to taste 40+ Howell Mountain wineries?  No where that’s as nice as the garden in front of the carriage house at the Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena thats for sure.  If you’re planning a trip to Napa in the summer months I highly recommend planning it around this event.  See below for more info.

Best Winery Experience:  TIE:  Failla, Napa Valley | Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards, Napa Valley.



Both Failla and Anderson’s Conn Valley offer intimate and unique tasting experiences.  Faila’s tasting room is really a little farm house with only enough room for 8 guests at a time.  You’ll have to pay close attention to find the place as it’s only marked by a white mailbox with “Failla” written on it on the east side of Silverado Trail north of the intersection at Deer Park road.  Call ahead for tasting reservations, you can’t just show up.

Inside the wine cave

Inside the wine cave

Anderson’s experience involves a stunningly beautiful drive into the heart of Conn Valley.  The road is tiny and winds through the hills, you should allow extra time to get there as it’s difficult to drive faster than 20mph most of the way.  Once there, you’ll go inside the wine cave which is dug into

Tasting table in the cave

Tasting table in the cave

the hillside.  Deep in the massive tunnel is a little alcove with a round table, with enough seating for 8.  Call ahead to see if winemaker/owner Todd Anderson will be there.  If he is, you’re in for one hell of a wine tasting!

Honorable Mentions:

It was very difficult for me to choose the best and I really feel that there are so many wines that were really amazing this year so I felt it appropriate to add Honorable mentions.

Caduceus Cellars, 2010 Anubis | | Cameron Hughes Lot 500 | | Anderson’s Conn Valley 2008 Eloge | | Robert Craig 2010 Affinity | | Robert Foley 2009 Cabernet, Howell Mountain | | Buccella 2010 Cuvee Katrina Eileen


Dillon acquires L’Arrossee

Sand Reckoner Vineyards website

Charles Krug Winery website

Altamura Vineyards website

Taste of Howell Mountain website

Contact Failla

Contact Anderson’s Conn Valley

Taste of Howell Mountain | June 15th, 2013

June 15th, 2013 at the historic Charles Krug Winery in St Helena the Howell Mountain Vinters and Growers Association will hold it’s annual “Taste of Howell Mountain” to benefit the Howell Mountain Education Foundation.Taste of Howell Mountain 2013

First a little background for those of you who don’t know Howell Mountain (you’re missing out!!)

The Howell Mountain American Viticultural Area (A.V.A.) was created way back in 1983 and was only the 2nd sub a.v.a of Napa valley at the time.  There are now 16 sub a.v.a’s of Napa.  Howell mountain is located in the north east corner of Napa valley in the Vaca mountain range.  It overlooks St. Helena to the west and the Pope Valley to the east.  The mountain’s cooler climate, elevation (above the fog of Napa) and volcanic soil contribute to a flavor profile that is quite different from the fruit of the valley floor.

Some of Napa’s most respected producers hail from Howell Mountain including Robert Craig, Robert Foley, Randy Dunn, as well as new stars (relatively new) CADE, Outpost and O’Shaughnessy.  And of course, I can’t forget Black Sears Vineyard.

The Taste of Howell Mountain 2013 will be held on the grounds of the historic Charles Krug Winery, at the old carriage house.  The event’s goal is to raise money for the Howell Mountain Education Foundation.  This is an interesting irony being that the town of Angwin on top of Howell Mountain where the school is located is a dry-Seventh Day Adventist community.

There will be a live and silent auctions of rare library wines including an 18 year vertical of Magnums from Dunn Vineyards!

For tickets click HERE

Wine Maker Interview | Peter Mondavi

Wine Maker Interview | Peter Mondavi

Last month I had the chance to sit down and interview wine maker, Peter Mondavi. Yes, Peter Mondavi, nephew of Robert Mondavi, son of Peter Sr. Mondavi and owner of the Charles Krug Winery in Napa. He brought with him the latest offerings from the Charles Krug Winery and we sampled them over dinner at the Phoenix City Grille, in Phoenix Arizona. After dinner, and a wide ranging conversation I conducted an interview based on some of the topics we had talked about. I’ve broken the interview down into three smaller parts for youtube consumption.  I will provide wine reviews on the wines we tasted in some upcoming posts.

Part one:
Part two:
Part three: