Addio Miei Cari Amici ~ Renee & Michele Buccelletti

15968259376_364898d86eWith a heavy heart, I bid Renee and Michele Buccelletti a bittersweet farewell and much love, success and happiness in their new Italian adventure.

Next month the newlyweds embark for a new life in Castiglion Fiorentino to join the family agriturismo and viticulture business.

Michele will manage and assist in wine making with his mother, Lydia Castellucci at the family’s Agricola Buccelletti  winery.

And, Renee will spearhead the marketing of Casali in Val di Chio, an enclave of renovated stone vacation villas dating back to the early 1800’s.

castiglion-fiorentino Castiglion Fiorentino is a tiny walled hilltop hamlet which lies a few kilometers north of the sleepy medieval village of Cortona, which was featured in the romantic soul-seeking movie, Under The Tuscan Sun.  Only 12,000 residents make their home in Castiglion Fiorentino which dates back to the 13th century Etruscans.  Aaaah Bella Toscana!!!


It was sheer destiny that brought Michele and Renee together a few years earlier in Florence where Renee was on a work-study horticulture program.  Shortly thereafter, they married on the family estate in Tuscany.  It was only a matter of time before the stars aligned for them to start anew in Tuscany.


I will miss Renee and Michele dearly but know that our paths will cross again soon as I hope to visit them next year!      

A presto…


Porter Creek Vineyards is Best Kept Secret in Russian River Valley!

IMG_8218 Deep in the heart of the Russian River Valley’s west side lies the sleepy Porter Creek Vineyards.  Named for the adjacent Porter Creek tributary, which flows into the famed Russian River, this little slice of heaven is certainly worthy of a visit.


Untouched raw beauty surrounds the rustic enclave and old vines, with an array of dogs and chickens meandering about.  Porter Creek Vineyards was founded by George Davis in 1977 and was planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay only.  Today, Rhone and Burgundian varietals are organically grown on the steep hillsides and son Alex Davis handcrafts the wines in small lots.

IMG_8236The tasting room is both eclectic and funky, with a mesmerizing view of the forest and hills.    I visited Porter Creek Vineyards at the 2015 Winter Wineland two-day event and was bowled over by the depth of the wines. Continue reading

Historic Rancho Sisquoc Winery & Vineyard ~ Angus to Vines

IMG_7156 Dating back to the 1850’s the 37,000 acre Rancho Sisquoc is part of a Mexican land grant, snaking along the Sisquoc River 14 miles east of Santa Maria.  The Chumash Indians called this pristine land, “Sisquoc”, meaning gathering place.

IMG_7159 And what a gathering place Rancho Sisquoc Winery has become!  Originally a cattle ranch with plots of beans and barley, today, over 300 acres are planted in vines.  Another piece of history adorns the ranch ~ the San Ramon Chapel, declared as Santa Barbara County’s first State Historical Landmark.   Erected in 1875, the chapel still holds Sunday services.


Further down the winding gravel road is the rustic tasting room which was constructed in 1977 and overlooks the entire working cattle ranch and hills beyond the river.   Rancho Sisquoc Winery‘s tasting room decor is fashioned after an old western saloon and expands to the outside patio  in warm weather months.
Continue reading

Napa Valley’s Castello di Amorosa Winery Is Bewitching

IMG_6271It’s no wonder why the Castello di Amorosa in the sleepy town of Calistoga is one of the most adored and visited wineries.  The 13th century Tuscan-styled castle was painstakingly replicated by owner and winemaker Dario Sattui, taking more than 14 years to construct.

IMG_6331Sattui’s dream of building a winery to host his Italian varietals in Napa Valley became more of an obsession.  Castello di Amorosa is tucked against the forested hills overlooking acres of vineyards.

IMG_6251Italian Cypress trees line the long driveway to the castle where the magic unfolds as one crosses the drawbridge to enter the castle.  Sheep and chickens roam the dry moat area surrounding the castle, mingling with visitors.


Castle tours with wine tastings are artfully guided by docents throughout the 107 room medieval castle and grounds. Continue reading

Russian River Vineyards Has A Storied Past & Noteworthy Wines!


Nestled in the heart of the renowned Russian River Valley is the picturesque and historic Russian River Vineyards.  Historically speaking, this iconic vineyard is one of the oldest vineyards in the northern Sonoma County wine growing region.  The first vines were planted with Merlot in 1963, a time when the surrounding farm plots were planted with  apples and prunes.


Surrounded by towering Redwood trees, this eclectic winery was modeled after the many stockades built by Russian settlers in the early 1800’s and the hop kilns that dotted the Sonoma County.  Russian River Vineyards was named long before the Russian River Valley was designated as an AVA in 1983. Continue reading

SD Vintners Debut 2014 Barrel Samples At Fall Harvest Event


San Diego wine aficionados were invited to the 2014 Fall Harvest Wine Symposium & Wine Tasting held at the prestigious rooftop Vintana Wine + Dine restaurant  in Escondido last weekend.


IMG_8024The symposium, hosted by Cohn Restaurant Group Beverage Director Maurice DiMarino, featured a panel of seven San Diego County Winemakers and their 2014 barrel samples.

Each winemaker presented a barrel sample and discussed the particular wine presented for tasting with the specific challenges that were encountered in the 2014 growing and harvest season.

In addition to the 2014 barrel samples, the San Diego winemakers showcased previous vintages which were available for tasting and purchase. Continue reading

Winemaking 101 At Temecula’s Wilson Creek Winery

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It was a picture-perfect October Saturday morning at the Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula.

Due to the drought conditions and warmer weather conditions, the grapes ripened quickly and the 2014 Harvest came earlier than in previous years.

Night-time picking had just been completed and the grapes lay in various stages of fermentation in the steel tanks and oak barrels. The cool air in the cellar was pungent with the smell of the ripening red grapes in the open bins. 

Wilson Creek Winery‘s winemaker Kestutis “Gus” Vizgirda’s hands, legs and clothes were stained a deep red hue from vigilantly tending to the grape juices and skins non-stop in the first crucial days after the harvest. Continue reading