SIP Wines at Home: Sonoma Wineries Have You Covered

 

Sonoma County wineries have recently come up with two remarkable wine offers designed for home delivery. The special offers originate from two associations: Sonoma County Vintners Association and the Wineries of Sonoma Valley.

Each organization came up with lengthy lists filled with many hard to find, high quality wines as well as just downright delicious, priced-right wines to buy by the case.

What’s also noteworthy is that quite a few wines are from small wineries selling, until recently, exclusively via club membership. So you can test drive, say, a wine from “Three Sticks” or Kamen to see if the reputation is deserved.

Here’s the first website to browse, followed by the premise:

https://sonomavalleywine.com/sonoma-valley-wine-collective/

“In this unprecedented time, The Sonoma Valley Wine Collective offers access to wines typically only offered at the wineries with limited availability or production. Your purchase not only enhances your wine library, it supports the many family owned Sonoma Valley wineries and their employees who look forward to welcoming you back when we are able.

A percentage of sales generated from The Sonoma Valley Wine Collective will be donated to the La Luz Crisis Fund to meet the unmet and urgent needs of our community.”

Being able to sort by varietal and by region makes this site so easy to browse.

And of course, that’s what I’ve been doing all day. 

Here is my handy tipsheet and quick guide by wine type.

The Best Picks:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: Kamen, Tin Barn Vineyards, and Laurel Glen Vineyards
  • Pinot Noir: Auteur, Donum Estate, Robledo, Walt, and Schug
  • Zinfandel: Jeff Cohn Cellars
  • Syrah: Kamen
  • Sauvignon Blanc: Beltane Ranch, Tin Barn Vineyards
  • Chardonnay: Bonneau Wines, Schug Cellars

The second awesome list is from the Sonoma County Vintners who opened with this background:

“Sonoma County Wineries have created a variety of special offers to alleviate the cost to ship wine directly to your doorstep. You can still purchase wines from hundreds of Sonoma County wineries that will deliver to you. Below is a list of shipping offers to consider during this difficult time. Consider a virtual wine happy hour with your friends and family to stay connected.”

check this one out at  https://sonomawine.com/sip-from-home/

Many many wineries are participating. A few are on both lists.

But the offers on this one focus more on shipping, pick up, and various delivery options. 

So you have to find a winery that interests you, and go from there.

Free shipping on Silver Oak Cellars and Sojourn Cellars are eye catching examples.

 Carol Shelton offers $5 case shipping but great discounts, such as:

2018 Rendezvous Rose, regularly $17 for 50% off, just $8.50/bottle

2018 Wild Thing Chardonnay, regularly $19 for 30% off, just $13.30/bottle

2013 King Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon, $40 regularly for 50% off, now $20/bottle (Only 6 cases left)

Several offer virtual tastings only.

Because there are so many variables, I’m listing my favorite wineries on this list that deserve your attention. Otherwise, good luck finding what you prefer.

Top 10 Wineries that stand out on this list:

  • Acorn
  • Alexander Valley Vineyards
  • Benovia
  • Carol Shelton
  • Collier Falls
  • Crossbarn by Paul Hobbs
  • Donelan Family Wines
  • Lynmar Estate
  • Freeman
  • Trentadue Vineyards

Franky, these are all so solid, it is hard to pick a favorite.

But if I had something like a birthday coming up, I would go with Donelan, so hard to find in normal times.

But have fun going over these choices.

Remember, I do this for fun.

You can thank me later.

SIP Wine: More Steals & Deals

 

“Free shipping anywhere in the US and 35% off retail.

Now that’s a headline that caught my attention. We all need to have something to look forward to during these sheltered in place weeks.

And to know we are helping small, independent wineries (the only ones I

focus on) stay in business during the closure adds to the enjoyment.

Turns out the headline was for the 2018 Greenwood Ridge Syrah, Mendocino. Heck of a deal on a case.

A longtime follower of Mendocino wines, I was thrilled to discover dozens of other Mendocino wineries had stepped up their game, suggesting while you stay at home they are offering “more steals and deals.”

Here is the website to explore….https://mendowine.com/taste-mendo-at-home

Many excellent offers but each is a little different. Some highlight low or no shipping; others push discounts. A few toss in an herb or plant. Pennyroyal offers a lovely Farm Box. Cakebread pitches a new Rose.

As an added bonus, the website’s photos are gorgeous. 

In Mendocino, because it is such a large county with so many micro-climates, you can find many, many super wines. Add in the fact that the winemakers tend to be rugged individualists “doing their thing,”  and you have lots of different wines in different styles.

For those seeking a little inside information, here’s my tip sheet:

Barra Family: one of the oldest and most highly regarded family vineyards. The Barra Petite Sirah is one of the best made anywhere.

Husch Vineyard: all about value, value, value. The Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc are of superior quality at everyday prices. The Pinot is a real steal.

Fathers & Daughters: Never heard of them? Well, the family’s vineyard is coveted by Williams Selyem and many others. So go with the Pinots but this vineyard makes super Sauvignon Blanc, and Gewurztraminer.

Graziano Family: Look for Monte Volpe and Enotria labels. An amazing roster of Italian wines from Greg Graziano who if he lived in Napa would be an icon. Dolcetto is my fav. But the whites are top notch as well.

Saracina: John Fetzer’s beautiful winery makes one of my favorite Sauvignon Blancs. The Malbec is a pleasant surprise.

Maggy Hawk: A relative newcomer to the Anderson Valley Pinot scene. One gorgeous Pinot is labeled “Unforgettable.” It is that and is included in the attractive 3-pack offering.

Scharffenberger: Still so underrated for its bubbly. Excellent value. Go with the Brut or Rose.  A case ships for $1.

Waits Mast Family Cellars: This Pinot specialist is my current exciting discovery. Now you too can explore this cult wine candidate with a 6 bottle pack or a 4-bottle vertical. Painless with a $5 shipping rate. 

Navarro Vineyard:  This is the family winery that pioneered direct shipping to consumers. It also makes terrific wines. It is offering Spring Samplers with savings up to 23% as well as One-Cent Ground Freight on all 12 bottle orders of wine or juice until May 31st. Pick any one sampler and you will be thrilled.

Goldeneye: Needs no introduction.  Just look at what is currently offered and go for it.

With such tiny, limited production wineries like Fathers & Daughters, Waits Mast and Maggy Hawk, this might be the time to join a club or two.

And yes, neither Goldeneye nor Scharffenberger are family owned. But they

are key players within the Anderson Valley family.

Attention Oregon Wine lovers! 

Love Oregon wines? 

Just found this great site listing special offers on  prices, shipping, and home delivery during the sheltered in place period.

https://www.oregonwinepress.com/buy-local-wine

 

The list includes dozens of wineries ranging in size and reputation. Quite a few are offering shipping out of state. 

I like that it shows how wineries are trying to keep alive but also how they are willing to go the extra yard.

The 3 samples below are typical. 

Browse through the complete list and you might see your favorite winery.

Ponzi Vineyards 

We are currently offering a 20% discount on all bottles (excluding library and single-vineyard wines), curbside delivery and $10 flat-rate ground shipping through April 30 with promo code PONZIATHOME. Beginning the first week in April, we will be offering same-day local delivery service included on purchases of six bottles or more within a 30-mile radius of our winery.

19500 S.W. Mountain Home Road, Sherwood

503-628-1227 • www.ponzivineyards.com 

 

Kramer Vineyards

Shipping included on orders of three bottles or more to Oregon, Washington and California; $10 flat-rate shipping on six or more bottles to the rest of the U.S. Delivery to the Gaston and Forest Grove area. Half-case and case discounts apply.

26830 N.W. Olson Road, Gaston

503-662-4545 • www.kramervineyards.com 

Kristin Hill Winery

Offering 20% off all half-case purchases and 25% off all case purchases. Can be mixed cases.

3336 S.E. Amity-Dayton Highway, Amity

503-835-1277 • www.kristinhillwinery.com 

Hope you find something here that improves your day.

I dont get kickbacks or commissions. Just liking sharing discoveries.

You can thank me later.

Cheers

 

 Sip Great Wine While SIP(sheltered in place)

 

Today we are seeing winemakers and wineries rise to the challenge and offer special wines, special deals.

First up, the Napa Valley Vintners Association decided to focus on older vintages or library wines. Love it!

Here’s the announcement:

“In response to the doors of our wineries being closed, we’ve decided to open up our libraries online. Shop almost 200 NVV members as they #openthecellar and offer something rare for you. It’s a win-win-win as you support the employees and small family businesses in wine country, get a rare wine, and you don’t have to leave your couch!”   https://napavintners.com/wines/openthecellar.asp

Library wines are normally held for special occasions or for club members.

So this is pretty special. Not evey wine on the list is “rare” by my definition. But 2011 Cabernets from Vineyard 29 and Paul Hobbs To Kalon are definitely rare. So too is the 08 Phelps Insignia.

Others that made my fantasy list are the 07 Pine Ridge Fortis, 09 Lang & Reed Cabernet Franc, 2010 La Sirena Cabernet and 05 La Sirena Syrah. 

In addition to specific wines, a number of wineries offer multiple wines, including Corison, Hunnicutt, Paradigm, and Juslyn. All super wineries.

So if you have the bucks, check out the list and go crazy!!!

But act fast. The offer end tomorrow.

Also, kudos to wilsonartisan wines, owner of 11 wineries, for its special offer.

“our Social Distancing Sale! We just added several new wines to this sale, so take a look.

Save 40% on select wines*. (There is even one wine in there for 60% off, don’t miss it!) Complimentary shipping on $300+ orders. If you are local, we are offering no-contact pickup on Wednesday 4/2 & Thursday 4/3 in Downtown Healdsburg at Rockpile Vineyards. This option is available in our store.”

www. wilsonartisanwines.com

Free shipping on $300 or more

Look for great prices from my favorites: Jaxon Keys, Rockpile Vineyards, and Greenwood Ridge.

Not to be overlooked, Bonny Doon Vineyards came up with an enticing offer.

Le Cigare Volant Vertical, 2015, 2016, 2017

2 bottles each vintage

The 2017 is made in a different style, so these 3 vintages are exciting to taste.

6 bottle vertical for $216. 20% discount

Order 12 bottles, free shipping

How Some Wineries are Countering the Shut Down

Sheltered: Sip fine wine, Save on shipping & Support a family Business

This week we are focusing on wineries rising to the challenge and making it easier for you to enjoy their wines at home. Without question, it is rough on all small, family wineries that have been developing clubs, events and direct sales programs to suddenly be forced to close their doors.

But some are seizing the opportunity to make new friends and to keep the family business afloat.  And make your days sheltered in place much more tolerable.

http://www.trentadue.com

You gotta love what Trentadue Winery is doing.  Located in Alexander Valley with a highly regarded estate vineyard, Trentadue is best known for Zins, Petite Syrah and the house red blend, La Storia. Arguably, this is one of the most underrated wineries. 

This week, Trentadue announced a super six bottle deal with $1 shipping. The price for this 6 bottle pack is $171 for non-members and $133 for members. Also, you can order any case of their wine for a flat $5 shipping fee. That’s terrific. And the winery is even making personal home deliveries to its Sonoma County neighbors.

Trentadue Home Wine Tasting 6-Pack

California Champagne

2017 La Storia Cuvee 32

2018 Shoestring Sangiovese

2017 Victorian House Zinfandel

2017 La Storia Cabernet Sauvignon

2017 Heart’s Desire Petite Sirah

That sets the bar high, but here are some others you need to explore for yourself.

 Terre Rouge and Easton in Amador County

www.terrerougewines.com

It’s no secret that Terre Rouge is one of the best names for bigtime Syrah, and other rhone red and whites. Easton is the label for Barbera and Zinfandel. The Ascent Syrah was recently rated 100 points by a respected writer. 

But here’s the “stay at home” deal details.

First, the winery is offering 25% off ALL Easton and Terre Rouge Wines (excluding library wines), when you order 12 bottles or more. Feel free to mix and match them however you would like to create your own custom case.  When you buy a case and use promo code “CODE19” you pay flat shipping of only $12.

Even more impressive, Terre Rouge has put together some specially priced 3 bottle, 4 bottle, and 6 bottle packs where shipping is included such as: 

ZinFull Trio $110 (normally $125)

Home But Not Alone 4-Pack  $119.19

Stay Home, Get Rhôned 6-Pack $165 (normally $211)

Social Distanced Terroir 6-Pack $150 (normally $188)

Goosecross Cellars, Yountville

www.goosecross.com

Showing the way for its Napa Valley neighbors, Goosecross, known for its Sauvignon Blanc and several high-end, high quality Cabernets, is offering this option: shipping is $1 on orders of any 3 bottles and you can select from the entire roster of wine.

You may be unfamiliar with Goosecross mainly because it has been so successful with its wine club and sells almst every bottle direct.

Eden Rift Vineyards

www.edenrift.com

Just when this winery was about to break out of the pack, it had to close its tasting room. The March preview of its rare Old Vine Zinfandel was cancelled. But that didn’t stop Christian Pillsbury and winemaker Cory Waller. They created a virtual tasting video of the 2018 Dickinson Block Zinfandel. I suspect the Zin would have been sold out during the preview event. But now you can get it online.

This is a rare Zin made from 2 acre planted in 1906 Head pruned, the vines are still producing rich, velvery smooth Zin.  

Normally selling for $45, the Zin is offered at 15% off and includes ground shipping with orders of 6 or more bottles until 4/15 with code: STAYIN

Also, look over the other wines. I think Eden Rift’s Pinot Noirs are right up there with the very best. The 2017 “Terraces” Pinot is a real standout.

Testarossa Winery, Los Gatos

http://www.testarossa.com

With two very popular tasting rooms in Silicon Valley and another in Carmel contributing to an amazingly successful wine club, Testarossa responded to the closures by offering deep discounts and free shipping. 

Some 25 years ago Ron and Diane Jensen launched Testarossa from their garage in Sunnyvale. Today they make 9 differnet single vineyard Chardonnays and 5 distinct vineyard Pinot Noirs. The 2017 Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir is a collector’s item. 

My friends at Connoisseurs Guide voted Testarossa the Winery of the Year in 2019, so feel confident about any wine in the lineup. They placed the Diana Chardonnay and Niclaire Pinot Noir in the top ten wines of the year.

The deal: Members: 30% off 4+ bottles; 35% off a reorder by April 30th

Non-Members: 15% off 4+ bottles; 20% off a reorder by April 30th

Shipping included.

Greenwood Ridge, Mendocino

http://www.greenwoodridge.com

A special for shut-in Zin lovers:

2018 Greenwood Ridge Zinfandel, Mendocino Estate

Sale price is $17 a bottle, $204 a case.

(regular price $29 a bottle.)

 

Byington Vineyards

This just came in from Byington:

Free Shipping with Minimum Order

“We are offering free shipping for all orders $75 and over. Check out our online store at Byington.wine. Enjoy some Byington wine to tide you over. We have a range of prices from our Blanc ($18) to Merlot ($33) to Pinot ($47) – described above – to Italian Sangiovese ($61).” 

What I love about Byington is their ongoing support of  the community. On May 5th, for example, they had scheduled a Teacher Appreciation event. 

And, of course the wines are excellent. My fav is the Santa Cruz Cabernet.

Today’s Best Online Wines for Those Sheltered In

Wish this occasion didn’t exist, but happy to share my experience of following and rating online wine retailers who will ship directly to your home. 

As usual, my wine suggestions are based on high quality, generous discounts, and free or very attractive shipping.

And, no, I’m not an affiliate or sleazy influencer getting a commission…just happy to share what I’d be stocking up today.

www.wtso.com stood out in a big way today. 

Free shipping for 4 bottles

all at 35-65% below retail

The best wines offered by wtso:

2018 Pedroncelli, Dry Creek Chardonnay, no oak $13.99

2017 Bernardus Chardonnay, Monterey $19.99

2017 Michel-Schlumberger Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir $16.99

2017 Double Canyon Ciel de Cheval, Red Mountain, Red $24.99

 

www.winespies.com

When it comes down to finding unusal West Coast wines, seldom offered elsewhere, this website is one to follow daily. Great site for Rhone wine lovers.

2016 Summerland Winery Paso Robles Syrah $19.99

Free shipping on 3 bottles

 

Back to the Future: Wine Travels

 

Just because you have enjoyed a Sangiovese or Nebbiolo doesn’t mean you have explored the full range of Italian-inspired wines.

Ever tasted a Charbono, Dulcetto, Grignolino, or Vermentino? Well, if you are still nodding “yes “ to all four, how about a Sagrantino? That one caught my attention during a visit to the Guglielmo Winery in Morgan Hill. 

Guglielmo is a family owned winery that has been making wines for close to a 100 years. It was founded in 1925, in the early stage of Prohibition, which tells you what one Italian-American family thought of that crazy experiment.

Sagrantino is a new addition to the family’s estate holdings and the vines border the imposing brick winery. This red wine grape is at home in Umbria, in Central Italy. It is the grape used for Montefalco wines. Janics Robinson mentions it in her definitive book, and one other California winery grows the grape.

But back to Guglielmo Winery, now run by the fourth generation.

That in itself is amazing for California wine but not that unusual in Italy.

The only other California wineries that have been in family hands longer are Wente and Concannon. The Mondavis bought Charles Krug in the 1940s and for those curious, Gallo started up in 1933.

Guglielmo is a great winery to visit, not only for its history but for its current wines. You feel like you are going back in time, seeing what wineries were like in Santa Clara County before trophy Napa wines and Silicon Valley.

Before Apple and Google, Santa Clara was a major wine region, with more history and vineyards than Napa Valley.

I love the fact that the winery and the 80 acre estate vineyards are surviving today as urban life moves into the neighborhood and Google buses are circling the area.

Tasting five wines will set you back $10. And all of $15 if you want to taste the Reserve line. My favorites are the Barbera, one of the very best, Dolcetto, Grignolino, Sangiovese, and the Sagrantino which was first produced in 2016. 

 It is richly flavored with ripe dark fruit…sort of like Zinfandel with more structure and balance. “Zinfandel without the flab” was my note.

And, Guiglielmo’s Grignolino Rose is a thing of beauty. Old-fashioned Rose in the good sense, meaning best with food.

The winery also makes Teroldego and Charbono which I plan to taste on my next visit. 

If you like history, enjoy trying new wines, and want to travel back in time, then, check out the winery and its wine club.

Guglielmo Winery:

 located at 1480 East Main Avenue, Morgan Hill, CA. The winery is less than 20 minutes south of San Jose, 1.5  hours south of San Francisco and 45 minutes north of Monterey.

Great Wine Club Discovery

 A Winemaker Rising Above the Radar

Just discovered a winery/wine club that makes high quality wines and, as a bonus, is a two-for-one operation. Located in Paso Robles, winemaker Tyler Russell had created two brands: Nelle and Cordant. As he explains, “Two brands. One mindset.”

Cordant focuses on Pinot Noir and Nelle offers wines from Rhone varietals.

Long story short: the Nelle Syrahs stole the show in my most recent update and tasting.

The mindset seems to be to locate the best vineyards in the Central Coast and then listen to the vineyard. In a Shaksperian aside, the vineyard will say: “to vineyard designate or blend. That is the question.”

In 2017, considered to be an outstanding year, Russell made three Syrahs that should help us understand this mindset.

One is the 2017 Nelle Syrah, “Coastview Vineyard” which occupies one of the high elevation sites in Monterey County. This highly regarded vineyard is part of the Gabilan Mountain Range. 

This Syrah is a deep, dark wine, rich, multi-layered with ripe dark plum

 fruit, that displays the thyme, lavender notes associated with great Syrah. It needs to be decanted/aerated, but keeps on unfolding over time.

115 cases were produced, and the price is $52. My score: 94

Second up is the 2017 Nelle Syrah, Reserve, “The Terraces,” a barrel selection of 50 cases. Well, simply put: this Syrah is amazing. Up there with the best I’ve ever tasted. Reminded me of some great Cornas when I tasted new vintages in the Auguste Clape cellars.  Dense, spicy, leathery, peppery and loaded with flavors but structured and balanced, not over the top, hedonistic style. 

It takes us back to that mindset. As Russell explains:

“The 2017 Reserve Syrah, which we call “The Terraces” happened by chance. We had small few rows at Coastview in a section they call the casita terraces. That we just let hang for a while. The stems developed perfectly with fruit. So we fermented whole cluster. Fermented slowly in the cold room. Put the wine in some nice barrels. I really think this wine is a testament to the vintage. At least for us. My intention was not to make a reserve wine… it just turned out really good so went ahead and did it.” 

115 cases produced. $72. My score: 98

Third, the 2017 Nelle Central Coast Syrah is a blend of fruit from 6 vineyards. Working with grapes from cool climate and warm climate sites, it comes across with only a hint of Paso Robles ripeness and chocolate tones nicely complemented by bright fruit and spice from cooler sites. Make no mistake, this is serious stuff that can be cellared. But, as the French say, “It drinks well.” Sorry, they say this: “Ca boire bien.”

500 cases produced. $40. Score: 93

Contact:

Nelle/Cordant Winery

3310 RAMADA DRIVE SUITE A

PASO ROBLES

(805) 369 – 2313

INFO@CORDANTWINERY.COM

Clueless No Longer

 

Wine Sleuthing 2.0

2020 has quickly provided a great, unexpected surprise. No, I’m not going political on you. This discovery relates to the online wine world.

The clues were there but I just kept getting sidetracked by the silly name and seemingly casual attitude. 

 Then this week with the offer of a fabulous Châteauneuf-du-Pape and special Zinfandel,  it was impossible yto ignore the clues.

Winespies, a wine merchant that I’ve been hesitant to write about,  has totally won me over with its exciting daily specials throughout January.

It meets and often now exceeds my 5 basic criteria:  

  1. Sourcing under the radar, first rate wines from non-corporate wineries

    2. Discounting in the 25-50% range, closer to 50%

   3. Providing informative background material about the wine and people

   4. Avoiding over-hyped, point scores and fake reviews

   5. Offering good free shipping options with temperature control

The standout wines in January that helped make me a new fan are an Oakville Cabernet, Napa Valley Merlot, Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, Brut Premier Cru Champagne and a knockout Zinfandel blend from the Sierra Foothills.

For more detail about http://www.winespies.com go to: www.robywine.com

 

5 Best Somm Sites & Free Wine Education

Somms have come a long way since my years as a wine teacher. The new breed study hard and pass rigorous exams. Whether full on MS scholars or those having attained certain WSET levels, they have soaked up tons of information about the many facets of wine.

Knowing a subject inside and out is essential as a starting point but it does not make one a good or excellent teacher.

 How to organize and convey information is what sets good teachers apart from the bad and the boring.  Motivating students to continue learning after the class is another key.

That holds true for everyone imparting information on every subject.

Somms and MWs are no exception. 

Focusing on free stuff on the internet is like returning to the Wine Library at UC Davis  Or for me, the Healdsburg Library where I spent many hours.

Oh well, enough nostalgia. I’ve recently been following Somms and a few MWs online. I’ve read numerous background articles, wine reviews, and have viewed too many videos and Podcasts featuring Somms. Yes, I’ve seen the movies as well. 

Regarding wine podcasts, I checked out many, including  “Drunk Bitches” and “Wine to Five.” Neither made my list.

As of now based on the latest, five websites backed by Somms lead the field in free online wine education. All 5 should be approached as team teachers, since each brings a special area of expertise and strength to the immense subject.

In other words, no one stands alone in my mind as “the” wine educator. There is no Kevin Zraly among today’s SOMMS.

But here are the 5, each bringing something powerful and rewarding to wine education:

www.winefolly.com 

Begin here: Best on how to taste and talk about wines.

Madeline Puckette, a certified Somm and member of the Guild of Sommeliers is the outfront personality. She and her partners stated Wine Folly in 2011. As she explains, “The goal of Wine Folly is to share wine knowledge in a way to encourage and inspire new drinkers. “

And she does that. She is not, thankfully, talking to wannabe sommeliers, and she focuses on making wine tasting enjoyable.

 Often relying on blind tasting wines side by side, she brings tremendous enthusiasm to the subject. She is basically teaching viewers how to taste and identify wines, and manages to make it lively, if not exactly entertaining. Other than having the credentials, she comes across, and this seems important to me, as a normal person, not a twit or nerd.

I liked her tasting of 3 under $20 Cabernets purchased at a supermarket. It immediately breaks the association of price and quality so common among new wine lovers. As the wines are evaluated, she tends to focus a lot on the appearance, not just color but the overall appearance. Love her use of the wine aroma wheel!

www.guildsomm.com

Second step: Know your grapes and wine regions.

GuildSomm is “a nonprofit international membership organization for sommeliers and wine professionals that promotes education, collaboration, and healthy debate while maintaining the key values of the sommelier profession: integrity, humility, and hospitality. We’re here to help you expand your knowledge of the wine world.”

MS Geoff Kruth launched the GuildSomm website in 2009, joining his career in wine with his early background in technology. He manages the organization, hosts the GuildSomm podcast, develops content, and leads masterclasses. Feature articles, podcasts, and videos are publicly available and cover varied topics on the world of wine. 

The only drawback with guildsomm is information overload. Some articles go too far in depth and and seem to be factoid upon factoid. We have all had teachers who don’t know how to pace a lecture and keep the student’s interest.  

So, for example,  when reading the article on Merlot which is crammed full of information, I suggest you step away from the screen every so often.

But, that aside, there a wealth of information available here and it is accurate and up to date.

www.sommselect.com

Best for Buying and Enjoying Wines

Although this is an e-commerce, wine club site, the head sommeliers, Ian Cauble and David Lynch share many fantastic, personal insights about wines, wine styles, regions, and the people behind the wines.  

For Italian wines, Lynch is the man. For Burgundy, Cauble is hard to beat. For Pinot Noir, he recently wrote: Let’s not forget that Germany has nearly the same deep history with the grape as Burgundy, and that Germany ranks third in the world (behind France and the US) in total Pinot Noir planting.

For a fresh perspective on lesser grapes, you hear this from him: “Be it Tuscan, Ligurian, Sardinian, or Corsican, Vermentino is a distinctively ‘Mediterranean’ grape we all need to get to know better.” 

www.napawineacademy.com

Best for reminding everyone that wine is about people. Real people.

This online site focuses on classes for students of various interests and levels. You can enroll in these classes and attend at several locations in addition to Napa. Or you can enroll online.

The catch is that these classes are offered on a fee basis, meaning you pay. Yes, this is serious and the major part of the program consists of classes for different WSET levels.

The Wine 101 Foundation course is widely appealing and the fee is $125. That’s a bargain for the price.

But why I include these folks here is that there are free podcasts, audio only. But they are wonderful interviews with wine people, winemakers, winery owners, 

and marketing types. About an hour long, the Cathy Corison audio is wonderful and typical of the others offered.  You can also read the blogs, basically well-researched timely articles on grape varieties, regions, and events.

www.vinosity.com

This site wraps it all up nicely.

The wine world is immense, but wine is all about people and places as well as wine. At vinosity, over two dozen writers report from regions around the world.

The trick here is to be alert and sign up for a two week free trial. Then immerse yourself in articles from writers around the world. Several authors are MWs.

This is Steven Spurrier’s new pet project to revive wine journalism. He has two articles online that are brilliant, one on Okanagan wines and the other on the most recent San Francisco International wine competition.

South Africa’s leading expert, Michael Fridjhon, contributed a lively, insightful view of Stellenbosh. Don’t miss the conversation about Wachau, one of Austria’s amazing wine regions.

And, of course, the update on California Rhone wines goes off the charts.

So, to sum up:

Use these 5 websites offering free stuff to learn as much as you want to about wine.