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WineRelease.com's February 15, 2005 Monthly Newsletter


Greetings from WineRelease.com, now 1,026 winery listings strong!

Yes, WineRelease reached the 1,000 mark. I started the site in August 2000 as a fun little side project... and it still is a fun little side project.

A fun labor of love.



And now, on to the show...


March 2005 Wine Releases

  • Aubert Wines; 2003 Sonoma Coast Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay, 2003 Sonoma Coast The Quarry Chardonnay, 2003 Sonoma Coast Reuling Vineyard Chardonnay, 2003 Sonoma Coast Estate Vineyard Lauren Chardonnay
  • Ballentine Vineyards; 2003 Napa Valley Block 11 Zinfandel, 2001 Napa Valley Block 9 Bg Zinfandel, 2001 Old Vines Zinfandel
  • Barlow Vineyards; 2002 Barrouge Red Wine
  • Bressler Vineyards; 2001 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Buccella; 2002 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Chappellet Vineyard; 2002 Pritchard Hill Estate Vineyard Cabernet Franc
  • Chateau Montelena Winery; 2001 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 2002 Estate Zinfandel, Futures Offer: 2003 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Cole Bailey Vineyards; 2004 Sanford Ranch Vineyard Sesquipedalian Sauvignon Blanc
  • dkcellars; 2002 El Dorado Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Flora Springs Winery; 2003 Select Cuvee Chardonnay, 2002 Rutherford Hillside Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, 2002 Wild Boar Cabernet Sauvignon, 2002 Holy Smoke Cabernet Sauvignon, 2002 Out-of-Sight Cabernet Sauvignon, 2002 25th Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Grgich Hills Cellar; 2002 Napa Valley Zinfandel
  • Hagafen Cellars; 2004 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 2004 Potter Valley White Riesling, 2004 Estate Bottled Napa Valley White Riesling, 2002 Estate Bottled Napa Valley Merlot, 2001 Estate Bottled Napa Valley Syrah, 2001 Brut Cuvee Sparkling Wine
  • Harlan Estate; 2001 Harlan Estate, 2001 The Maiden
  • Harvest Moon Estate & Winery; 2003 Sonoma County RandyZin, 2003 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 2004 Off-Dry Gewurztraminer
  • Herb Lamb Vineyards; 2002 Napa Valley E II Red Wine
  • Kathryn Kennedy Winery ; 2004 California Sauvignon Blanc
  • Lucia Vineyards & Winery; 2003 Garys' Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2003 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, 2003 Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay
  • Madrigal Vineyards; 2002 Napa Valley Petite Sirah
  • Martinelli Winery; 2003 Jackass Vineyard Zinfandel, 2003 Giuseppe & Luisa Zinfandel, 2003 Zio Tony Ranch Pinot Noir, 2003 Zio Tony Ranch Chardonnay, 2002 Zio Tony Ranch Syrah, 2003 Woolsey Road Chardonnay, 2003 Bella Vigna Pinot Noir, 2002 Three Sisters Vineyard Chardonnay, 2002 Three Sisters Vineyard Pinot Noir
  • Merriam Vineyards; 2001 Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Neiman Cellars; 2002 Caldwell Vineyard Red Wine, 2002 Caldwell Vineyard Syrah
  • Pelerin Wines; 2003 Monterey Syrah
  • Portalupi Wine Co.; 2003 Dry Creek Valley Manoukian Vineyard Zinfandel
  • Realm Cellars; 2002 Beckstoffer To Kalon Cabernet Sauvignon, 2002 The Tempest Napa Valley Red Wine
  • Robert Sinskey Vineyards; 2004 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir
  • Thumbprint Cellars; 2002 Dry Creek Valley Schneider Vineyard Merlot
  • Toad Hollow Vineyards; 2004 Mendocino County Francine's Selection Chardonnay
  • Tor Kenward Family Vineyard; 2002 Oakville Heritage Clones Cabernet Sauvingnon, 2002 Oak Knoll Clone 4 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Two Wives; 2004 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc
  • Whitehall Lane Winery; 2004 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc
  • Zaca Mesa Winery; 2003 Estate Bottled Roussanne

WineRelease.com's Winery Newsletters and Mailing Lists Sign Up Page: Click here.


The following 32 winery information pages have been updated since 1/15/2005:
  • Abacela Winery; United States: Oregon: Umpqua Valley
  • Acorn Winery; United States: California: Sonoma County: Russian River Valley
  • Amuse Bouche; United States: California: Napa Valley
  • Andretti Winery; United States: California: Napa Valley
  • Aubert Wines; United States: California: Napa Valley
  • Ballentine Vineyards; United States: California: Napa Valley
  • Belle Glos Wines; United States: California: Napa Valley: Rutherford
  • Bressler Vineyards; United States: California: Napa Valley
  • Buccella; United States: California: Napa Valley
  • Caymus Vineyards; United States: California: Napa Valley: Rutherford
  • Chappellet Vineyard; United States: California: Napa Valley:
  • Colgin Cellars; United States: California: Napa Valley
  • Conundrum Wines; United States: California: Napa Valley: Rutherford
  • dkcellars; United States: California: El Dorado County
  • Drew; United States: California: Santa Barbara County: Santa Rita Hills
  • Fiddlehead Cellars; United States: Oregon: Willamette Valley and United States: California: Santa Barbara County: Santa Ynez Valley
  • Flying Goat Cellars; United States: California: Central Coast: Santa Maria Valley
  • Hagafen Cellars; United States: California: Napa Valley
  • Hourglass Winery; United States: California: Napa Valley
  • J Vineyards & Winery; United States: California: Sonoma County: Russian River Valley
  • Lucia Vineyards & Winery; United States: California: Monterey County: Santa Lucia Mountains
  • Madrigal Vineyards; United States: California: Napa Valley
  • Martinelli Winery; United States: California: Sonoma County: Russian River Valley
  • McNab Ridge; United States: California: Mendocino
  • Mer Soleil Winery; United States: California: Monterey County
  • Neiman Cellars; United States: California: Napa Valley
  • Pisoni Vineyards and Winery; United States: California: Monterey County: Santa Lucia Mountains
  • Thumbprint Cellars; United States: California: Sonoma County
  • Tor Kenward Family Vineyard; United States: California: Napa Valley
  • Two Wives; United States: California: Napa Valley
  • VinNostro Cellars; United States: California
  • Whitehall Lane Winery; United States: California: Napa Valley




  • By The Barrel Winemaker profile with Elias Fernandez of Shafer Vineyards

    Elias grew up in the Napa Valley, where he first picked grapes at eight years of age. His parents instilled in him a love of the great outdoors and a respect for the richness of Hispanic culture.

    Elias has enjoyed close ties to agriculture all of his life. He began working in the fields after school and during summer vacations, when he helped his father pick walnuts and prunes. Later, when his father began working for Frank Wood & Sons, a vineyard management company, he learned to tie vines and drive a tractor through the vineyards.

    He began playing the jazz trumpet when he was 16 years old. His musical talent and experience playing in the St. Helena High School jazz band earned him a Fulbright scholarship for music at the University of Nevada at Reno. After one year at the university, however, his longing to return to his agricultural roots led him to abandon a career in music and pursue winemaking.

    He graduated with honors in 1984 from the University of California at Davis with a degree in fermentation science. Throughout his student years at the university, he gained additional experience in the wine industry while employed at Louis Martini, Cuvaison and Schramsberg Wineries. Upon graduation in 1984 he joined Shafer as assistant winemaker. In 1991 he was appointed winemaker, a position he shared with Doug Shafer until 1994 when Doug assumed the position of president.

    Describe the pivotal point when you went from dreaming about making wine to actually doing it.
    It was actually two pivotal points...

    I grew up hating vineyard work; it was something I HAD to do during school vacations with my parents and it was pure drudgery. But after my first six months at college, I came home for a visit. Driving up the Valley in my í67 Mustang I saw this area for the first time as an outsider and it hit me - I grew up in one of the most beautiful places on earth. And I started to think that I wanted to work here. Maybe winemaking wouldnít be so bad...

    In Davis viticulture class our instructors would take us out into the teaching vineyard to introduce the class to the basics of vine training, pruning, etc Ö And I realized that I already knew a lot of the stuff. Everyone else would be looking at the teacher saying, "Wait, how do you do this?" And Iíd be halfway done with the first row. It felt great.


    What was the first wine you remember tasting and where were you?
    My father worked for an orchard and vineyard management company that managed Freemark Abbeyís property. One day in high school I wandered into my dadís storage shed, where I found a case of 1970 Freemark Abbey Cabernet. I smuggled a bottle out and committed an illegal act.

    Who has been the most influential in your wine making career?
    Five people, actually...

    -- My father, because of the hands-on experience I got working with him in vineyards
    -- My mother for supporting and encouraging my education
    -- Carolyn Martini, who in the late 1970s gave me my first chance to work in a winery
    -- John Shafer for allowing Doug Shafer and me to learn from our mistakes
    -- Tony Soter for helping me look at wine in a whole different way.


    What is your most memorable food and wine experience?
    Blue cheese and Cabernet on a Friday night at Davis with friends, who are now great winemakers: Pam Starr of Crocker-Starr, Marco Cappelli, consultant winemaker, Mia Klein consultant and Selene, Francois Pichon, Araujo, and others.

    What is your favorite memory of creating wine?
    The first Chardonnay I made as an undergrad at Davis, which I labeled with a name way too politically incorrect to admit to in this forum.

    What wine best expresses the region where it grows?
    I canít help being partial to Hillside Select. I see it as a wine of a place that speaks of vintage, estate, Stags Leap District and expresses what can happen when the combination of soil, climate, variety, and very lucky winemaker really work together.

    What food and wine paring is perfect?
    That has everything to do with the way you feel and the company youíre with.

    What do you wish you could say on your wine label that you can't?
    Please consider this a food... and... Everything in moderation, or feel the sting in the morning.

    What is your opinion on alternative cork closures?
    There is no alternative right now. They all have their faults.

    What wine trends do you not want to see?
    The disappearance of family owned/run wineries. And their dogs.

    If you weren't a winemaker, what would your occupation be?
    A personal trainer. I have a lot of interest in peopleís health.

    Which words or phrases are overused in the wine world?
    Reserve wine.

    What childhood talent did you have that came in handy in your wine life?
    Playing music. As a trumpet player in high school I learned a lot from playing jazz about going with your gut, believing in the beauty of things unscripted.

    What bits of advice do you have for an aspiring winemaker?
    Donít do it. But if youíre going to do it, use science, go with your gut.

    What part of your job do you most enjoy?
    Sitting at a restaurant table, and next to me seeing a couple I donít know enjoying a bottle of wine Iíve made.

    What part of your job do you least enjoy?
    When the f-----g crushing equipment or the bottling line breaks down.

    How do you want to be remembered as a winemaker?
    That I took what our grandfathers accomplished with the wine industry to a higher level and will leave behind something that others can build on and improve on in the future.

    What is your greatest winemaking fear?
    That Iíll wake up one day and canít smell anything.

    For your last supper, what will be the food and wines?
    Momís home cooking with family and friends. Weíd open a bottle of the first wine Iíd ever made and a bottle of the last.


    First Crush New winery profile of Buccella Wines

    Buccella: Latin for "mouthful" was started by Bill and Alicia Deem with the help of winemaker Mark Herold of Merus. The winery is located in Yountville in the heart of the Napa Valley. This month was the inaugural release of their 2002 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is available via their mailing list.


    This issue's worthwhile wine site to visit is Grape Radio. Grape Radio was started last month and as the domain name implies, it is a radio show on wine accessible via your computer. It is a fun quirky site that is easy to listen to in the background while you are at your computer.


    Please forward this email newsletter to your wine friends so they can enjoy it as well.

    Till next month!


    Neil Monnens


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