Comunidad Del Valle

This is a long video but I show up in the last third.  Sabor Del Valle is an event we’ve done since it started and our favorite pouring event every year.  I was happy to do the TV show.  It aired last Sunday on NBC 11 in the Bay Area.

Dinner at Our Place

Every year we make a donation to the Washington Open School in Santa Clara. Usually we do a case of wine or a couple of magnums. Last year they asked if we could do something bigger so we offered a wine dinner at our home. The package was a four course dinner paired with our wines and we were told it brought in a huge bid. We had the winners over on Friday night and Stefania prepped the house and dinning room.  We’re still trying to figure out what art to put in the living room so for right now the chalk boards to track football scores are in the space along with the banner for the Roller Girls.


dinning room

We started in the living room and bar with some fresh fruit and a selection of cheese.  I opened our unreleased 2010 Chardonnay and the just bottled 2012 Chardonnay.  We wound through the what would be five courses and a dessert on the patio about 11PM.  I started with a Caesar salad with grilled shrimp.  Then Stefania had a soup and I followed that with lamb chops over cabbage and mushrooms in red wine.  I added a few slices of home made sausage to the plate.  We finished with Filet Mignon and summer squash.
the bar

We put a dent in the wines working through some unreleased wines and some from our library.  I though the 2011 Nueva Casa de los Padres was the highlight.  The 2006 Uvas Creek Cabernet Sauvignon was also really good and I was surprised that the 2012 Chardonnay wasn’t showing any bottle shock.

We really enjoy putting together dinners.  Charity events are a rarity but for friends coming into town it’s something we try and pull together.  It might not always be as many courses but it will always be something good!
the line up


At the end of August we made our semi-annual trip to Chicago.  We actually go more often than every other year but those other trips are usually for my day job.  This particular trip was all for fun.  Our friend Otis hosts a blow out wine party and that would be the main event on Saturday night.

We arrived in town to great weather.  There were a few thunderstorms on Thursday but other wise it was perfect.  Below is the view from our hotel room along the Chicago River.

chicago river

We arrived Wednesday afternoon in time to check in to the hotel and walk into the River North area to try out a place new to us called Havana that Stefania spotted on the way in.  We had a light dinner and a few cocktails including a really good Pisco Sour.

Thursday was our one ‘working day’.  We had a long lunch at the Frontera Grill while we waited out the thunderstorms.  We then went to Bed Bath and Beyond to buy wine glasses and then Fox and Abel for cheese and salami for that evening.  We hosted a get together of about 15 local Chicago friends and customers to taste 15 of our wines.  I brought older vintages and the 2011 Mourvedre and 2011 Santa Clara Valley Cabernet Sauvignon which we’ll release in a few weeks.

We were scheduled to run from 6 -8 PM but actually went from 5:45 to 11:30 PM!

the line up


Friday was all about beer.  We started the day at Binny’s buying a few things we can’t find in California.  The Goose Island brewery is right next door to Binny’s so we had another long lunch there.  We met up with a friend who also happened to be there for lunch and he took us to another small beer focused bar called The Map Room.


goose heads


Saturday we walked down State Street from our hotel and ended up at Hugo’s Frog Bar.  A friend in California had highly recommended it and our bartender Chris happened to be from New Orleans.  We had a great time and I worked my way through the Bourbon cocktails starting with a Manhattan.



Next up was an Old Fashioned.  We had a big long lunch with frogs legs, a wedge salad and gumbo soup.  Stef got the prime rib sandwich and I had a rib eye.  We ordered a 2001 Cos d Estournel to go with lunch.  It would be our only meal of the day so we went all out.
old fashioned

Saturday night we took a small bus up to Northbrook and enjoyed dozens of great wines on a beautiful Chicago night.  We had to hurry home on Sunday for work instead of staying to Monday like we’d usually do but had a nice lunch at Purple Pig and flew out Sunday evening.

A Couple of Pics

My schedule has been terribly busy but I made a pledge to set aside two hours a week to blog and keep the website updated.  We’ll see how well I do at that but it’s a start.  It looks like WordPress has finally made some improvement to how photos are uploaded so that should make it a little easier.  Part of being able to keep up on the blog was really derailed by the need to spend 4-5 minutes editing each photo before it went up.  6 photos was 30 minutes before a word was even written and then try to get them set right on the page was another 15 minutes.

Anyway we’ve been pretty busy, me with the day job and Stefania keeping the winery and vineyards humming along.  We did just recently complete a bottling of our first 2012 wines.  We bottled our 2012 Pinot Noir and 2012 Chardonnay.

Below the Chardonnay barrels are drying before being sterilized.  We had already put the wine in tank for cold stabilization.

ready for filtering

After cold stabilization the wine is filtered.  We rarely filter red wines but do filter the Chardonnay.  That makes it a big challenge to remember how to set up and run the filter since we only do it once a year for an hour or so.  Last time we did it though Stefania took pictures of the set up which she taped on the walls for us to view as we set it up this time.  The filtering went very easy.



This is the kind of stuff most wineries don’t want to show but being honest about production is not something we ever shy from.  This is the ‘gunk’ at the bottom of the tank after filtering.  Mostly it’s dead yeast.  For a red wine this isn’t such a big deal.  We rack a few times to get as much of this gone as we can but some will end up as sediment in the bottom of the bottle.  In a white wine though it looks a little sludgy to leave this stuff behind.

the gunk

One final unrelated picture.  This Saturday at 5 PM we will be at the Silicon Valley Roller Girls bout  We are the official wine sponsor and they will have our 2009 Chardonnay and 2010 Crimson Clover Cabernet by the glass.  Hope to see you there.


Roller Derby

Allow me to introduce you to some of our new friends:

Captain – Patty Hearse – #74
Co-captain – Skater Tots – #1212
Avida Sane – #L8R
Belle Wringer – #203
Brigid Fitch – #0K
Bullet Sucker – #950
Culo Whippin’ – #125
Demanda Rumble – #10
Fightmaster Flash – #31
Foo Bar – #F00
Jem Jones – #8
Jentropy – #1337
Jessika Rakkit – #190
LauRawr – #789
Leigh Featherstone – #6
Lizapalooza – #217
Mad 4 Gravy – #4
Mad Eye Molly – #22
Mongoose – #609
Spankin’ Firecracker – #M80
Surge – #426
Take-Out Dinah – #49
Unleasha Moore – #5150
Volcanic Ash – #2000


Forgive me for the really poor blurry image, but these women move FAST!!!  I’ll take better photos at the next bout.

On a whim I bought tickets for their first home bout on February 16th.  The official beer sponsor at the event was Strike Brewing, and as of this blog post, Stefania Wine is the the official wine sponsor for the season.

<— that’s Luna Chick in front of me, she and husband EiPhilTower (sp?) were guests at our meet and greet party last month.  We’re looking forward to entertaining the team this Spring/Summer, finally people that eat carbs!!


svrg beverages

We’ll have our specially designed banner hanging in the Beer Garden at the next event.  We’re very excited to sponsor these women!


Home Bout Schedule:

February 16th, May 11th, June 22nd, August 17th, and September 28th
San Jose Skate
397 Blossom Hill Road

San Jose, CA 95123
(408) 226-1155

Rainy Day Blues

The pride and joy of my kitchen has suffered a major set back.  The tractor died on Saturday.  *Sigh*  On the agenda for Saturday night was ground rib eye burgers with cheese and mushrooms…that was until the tractor quit on me.  It wasn’t the screeching grinding halt of a noise that I’ve read about on other blogs.  Nope, I could tell right away from the sound and behavior that I lost part of the gear, it was stripped.  There are theories that the plastic housing is to blame, that it’s not durable enough for the speed of the motor and that it flexes, causing the gears to grind.  I’m going to disagree, at least in my case, because it would appear to be improper alignment..  After pulling the head off and observing the guts, I still can’t figure out where the rough grinding sound is coming from.  See, there was a ton of gooey grease in there.  I think there must be ball bearings underneath the assembly unit where the dough hook attaches.  I didn’t want to do a full tear down, I’ll leave that up to the shop.  In the meantime I’ve been looking around online for a professional grade (restaurant grade?) meat grinder.  Bread making is also on hold, but I can manage doing that manually if I get desperate.

Yesterday we hosted a small Open House for Pick Up Day.  Always fun to hang out and visit with the regular locals and even better is when someone new shows up!  We got to meet a couple new faces this time and overall I think everyone had a good time.  The afternoon was crisp so I had Paul light a small fire and that seemed to brighten up the gloomy winter day.

We had been shopping the day before for vinyl and Paul played several of his jazz and blues records.  We stayed away from Christmas music, seems like everyone is already burned out on holiday tunes.

Through the front window I snapped some pics of the soggy vineyard:








White sage and red blooms on the pineapple sage:








I rotated the head to capture the non-worn part of the gear:








Below is the worn section…tragic:









I Win! Or..something like that

I was feeling pretty smitten with my Silver and Bronze medals for the 2012 International Women’s Wine Competition…right up until I scrolled through the list of all the other winners.

Anyway, I took pictures of the wines from the current release and used the medals from last year as props since I don’t have the 2012 ones yet.

We earned a Silver medal for the 2009 Chaine d’Or Cabernet Sauvignon  & Bronze for the 2010 Haut Tubee, always nice to be recognized, but I don’t take it very seriously at all.

Oh come on, scroll through the link and see for yourselves, Gallo Box Wine took GOLD!   *sigh*


End Bin Blowout Next Week

Another picture of boxes.  These are in our cellar at home so you get a little peak inside our collection.   The boxes though won’t be going into our cellar we’ll be having a End Bin sale next week.  Figuring out allocations is always hard but we usually do pretty well in selling just about everything with just a little left.  It’s a hard thing to figure out but we have a few good brokers who are willing to wait for direct sales to end and then step in and take what ever is left over.

I try to leave just two cases of each wine.  One for us that will go into our collection and personal cellar and one that will go into our library to replace any problem bottles that might be reported in the future.  On a few occasions I’ve been down to just a few bottles we end up keeping but usually I can get us at least a case for our use.

When ordering season is over and we’re down to just a few cases of something I send a note to our storage facility to send everything they have left of that wine.  I always say ‘everything’, because it’s a good way to match up inventory.  It also cuts down on phone tag with the warehouse: “You said send 3 but there are only two here, what do we do?”. “Send everything.”

On some items we will have more than two cases left and when that happens I have a blow out sale.  I’ll do that next week on a few items.  I reduce prices 25-50% and we sell them off by the case, shipping included, first come first serve.  We’ll have about 5 cases of Sessen to sell as well as two cases of Harvest Moon Special Reserve and two cases of Split Rail Syrah.  Not a ton of stuff but great for bargain hunters.  I’ll post the sales here and on Facebook.  Usually the people on Facebook get the update faster so if you’re not a friend or fan there, do it now!

Testing Yourself

Stefania had this idea to host a blind tasting of our wines and compare them to others in the area.  She narrowed it down to Cabernet and decided to focus on a single vintage (2007).  It took some time to pull together but we finally did it on Friday March 16th.

All of the following were served blind in flights of three. The wines were bagged by Jaye and as new wines came in they were mixed in the number rotation so that the ‘new’ wines would not all be the end numbers. Each wine was opened about 45 minutes prior to serving but not decanted. Foils were all removed and wines were served in numbered bags.

Original notes are as I took them down. Thoughts after bags were removed are in parenthesis. I used + when I though a wine’s future score would likely be higher and many of these ended up with a +.

#1 2007 Mount Eden Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains
Rich, chocolate and classic cab nose. Tannic, lighter on the palate. Should be rockin in 10 years 94+ My WOTN

#2 2007 Cooper Garrod George’s Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains
Dusty, light fruit, clean but just ok 87 pts (much less impressive than a previous bottle I had)

#3 2007 Chaine d’Or, Santa Cruz Mountains
Big green nose, rich, round and tannic, lots of hidden fruit, berry , needs 10+ years 89+

#4 2007 Kathryn Kennedy ‘Small Lot’, Santa Cruz Mountains
Wood influence, spice, red fruit, lighter texture. From a warmer site? Martin Ranch? 89 (Most of the small lot fruit comes from Martin Ranch)

#5 2007 Ridge Monte Bello, Santa Cruz Mountains
American oak on the nose. Very tannic with great balance, light fruit, long finish with berry. 90+

#6 2007 Martin Ranch Thérèse Vineyards Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains
Less wood, I like this one. Cherry pie, little funky on the finish, greenish tannins, guess of a cooler site 89+

# 72007 P•M Staiger, Santa Cruz Mountains
Sour cherry nose, low oak influence, slight volitile, peppery with light fruit 82 (The only wine I really didn’t care for)

#8 2007 La Honda Lonehawk Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains
Musty, mushroom, slight volitile on nose but well balanced. Finishes oaky. 88. Might be better in 5 years but VA worries me.

#9 2007 Stefania, Santa Cruz Mountains
Big nose, good balance of wood. Best balanced in this group of three with tannin/acid/fruit. Smooth, round, warm site? 92

# 10 2007 Ahlgren Bates Ranch, Santa Cruz Mountains
Green nose, smooth black fruit and good balance, cool site? 89+

# 11 2007 Stefania Uvas Creek Vineyard, Santa Clara Valley
Round, spicy, mushroom, great balance and plum fruit. Not especially ‘cabby’ but I like this 91

# 12 2007 Woodside Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains
Greenish nose, and pepper flavor, short and tannic 85

# 13 2007 Thomas Fogarty, Santa Cruz Mountains
Slight pepper, roundish, black fruit, bright green tint stays through the wine. 5+ years 90+

# 14 2007 Domaine Eden, Santa Cruz Mountains
Menthol nose, balanced, light oak, black pepper and red fruit 92

# 15 2007 House Family Vineyards, Santa Cruz Mountains
Dusty and black pepper, grows on you with good balance. A little funk but nice length. Warmer site? 91+

# 16 2007 Ridge Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains
Rich nose with some gren. Sharp red frui, cooler site? Nose of #3 without the ‘balls’. 88

#17 2007 Martin Ranch Thérèse Vineyards Dos Rios Vineyard, Santa Clara Valley
Woody from a great barrel, Pessec Leognan nose. Dusty, balanced and round. A ‘wow now’ wine with tons of fruit. 93

# 18 2007 Creekview Vineyards, Santa Clara Valley
Funky mint nose. CHalky not roundest of the group has mint without pepper, good finish 88

Everyone voted on thier top three with 5 points for 1st, 3 for 2nd and 1 for third. Group winners where:

1st = #17 2007 Martin Ranch Thérèse Vineyards Dos Rios Vineyard, Santa Clara Valley
2nd = #1 2007 Mount Eden Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains
3rd = #5 2007 Ridge Monte Bello, Santa Cruz Mountains
4th (tie) = #9 2007 Stefania, Santa Cruz Mountains
#3 2007 Chaine d’Or, Santa Cruz Mountains

I also posted this at:

You can read comments there and get links to notes from others at the dinner.

Pick Up Day Saturday March 24th

Pick up day for the Spring Release is this Saturday from 11-3. Here’s the ‘official’ invite:

We would like to invite you this weekend to the winery to taste wines from our current release We will also feature complimentary brick oven pizza from our friends at Mario’s Mobile Pizza.!/pages/Marios-Mobile-Pizza-llc/352590774772822

When: Saturday, March 24th
Time: 11a.m. – 3p.m.
Where: Chaine d’Or Winery, Woodside

We will be pouring wines from our Spring Release:

2009 Crimson Clover Cabernet Sauvignon, $44
2009 Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon, $40
2006 Uvas Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Library Release, $40

This is a residential location, parking is limited to the street area. This will likely be the only time we will be open this year. If you have an order from the Spring Release it will be available for pick up. We hope you can join us and we look forward to visiting with you again!

For more information about our wines, you can also visit our website,

Paul & Stefania