Libation of the Month

There is no criteria for the entries on this page other than my experience in absorbing them into my system via traditional methods.  In other words, I am sharing all-things-alcohol with my friends.  I receive no compensation in any form for posting beverages here.  I do not contact producers to inform them of their inclusion on theGravenstein.

Also, make sure to stop in at the Wine Emporium on Main Street downtown, Sebastopol.  (Across the street from Copperfield's.)  Great wines from around the world offered by a very knowledgeable staff!


Bailey's and Ice Cream

Boy, oh boy.  I don't know if this counts as a "beverage" - but who cares?!?!

I have to loosen my belt just thinking about it!  Here goes:

2 oz. of Baileys

1 scoop of ice cream

Top with chocolate shavings

And where is the only place to get your ice cream?  Here's a hint…

Happy Holidays!



Not my actual family.
At our house, EggNog always made it's holiday appearance at Thanksgiving.  Here is a link to a recipe we actually tried and it is a good one!  Please enjoy and read the Raw Egg Warning below

* Raw Egg Warning

Food Network Kitchens suggest caution in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend you use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell. For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served, use shell eggs that have been treated to destroy salmonella, by pasteurization or another approved method.

Or you can always go store-bought.


Paul Mathew 2009 Russian River Pinot - $32

Great wines at a great price.  This Graton-based winery gracefully reflects the Russian River characteristics of some of the best Pinot Noir on earth.  At least, that's how it feels when you're drinking it.  Stop by the tasting room and treat yourself.


Woodfour Brewery in the Barlow.

They brew their own beer there and the kitchen does a pretty good job, I must say!  Do try the Imperial Saison.  You'll be very glad you did.


Hard Apple Cider

This month I am taking a cue from Sarah Gurney's column in the Sonoma County Gazette, "Sebastappeal".  Sarah laments the loss of apple orchards to vineyard conversion and suggests we spend our hard-earned dead presidents on various hard ciders from local producers.  I, personally, think that's a marvelous idea.  Sarah notes that ciders utilize various aromas and flavors particular to apple varietals.  They balance tannins and acids and can be as complex as any grape related fermented juice with lingering finishes and silky mouthfeel.  So go out and explore the various ciders on the shelves out there.  And thank Sarah Gurney if you run into her in town.  Not just for the cider recommendation, but for the excellent work she's doing on our Sebastopol City Council.


Steve Heimoff Wine Blog - Rosè

A little something different as this month's wine is so personal for everyone (aren't they all?).  Rosè covers the gamut as far as flavors and textures and are made with various methods from even more varietals.  

Go and explore some of the amazing Rosès from Sonoma County and beyond.  Buy a few and conduct a blind tasting with your friends outside on the picnic table.

Plunge it in a bucket of ice and hook up the I.V.  Please enjoy Steve's blog at the address below and read about this refreshing and versatile wine:

'Tis the season!


Walter Hansel - Chardonnay - $39

Though pictured here, the 2007 vintage is long gone.  Their 2011 wines are currently available and should lie down for a couple of years.  Personally, I have never had a Walter Hansel wine I didn't like. 

Walter Hansel Winery is located in Sonoma County at the southern tip of the Russian River Valley near the Sebastopol hills. It is bordered to the north by the Santa Rosa Creek and to the west by a tributary of the Russian River known as the Laguna de Santa Rosa. This location is ideal for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as the nights and mornings are cooled by coastal fog yet the mid-days warm up to perfect grape ripening temperatures. Temperature swings of 40 degrees are very common.

Today, Hansel Family Vineyards farm 75+ acres consisting of 5 Chardonnay clones and 5 clones of Pinot Noir.

In addition, Walter Hansel Winery farms 4 acres of a neighbor's Sauvignon Blanc vineyard and produces about 1,500 cases annually from this vineyard.  Stephen Hansel enjoys talking with wine lovers and suggesting the best wines for their tastes. He encourages fine wine lovers to call and order Walter Hansel Wines or to find out what stores and restaurants carry Walter Hansel Wines.

Winery tours are available by appointment only. Stephen can be reached at 707-525-3614.


Ten Acre  - 2011 Jenkins Ranch Russian River Pinot - $65

Planted in 2001 using three different pinot noir clones to increase the complexity of the wines, this Sebastopol vineyard benefits from cool coastal influences.  It's location on Pleasant Hill provides a certain degree of shelter and warmth, creating ideal growing conditions for top-quality pinot noir. Jenkins has become renowned among pinot producers like Patz & Hall, Lynmar (Sebastopol) and
Kosta Browne (Sebastopol), who have used its fruit to craft exceptional pinot noirs.
The 2011 vintage showcases pure dark fruit aromas and subtle floral notes. This wine is expansive on the palate, with layered tannins and flavors of blueberry cobbler and candied cherry. The Jenkins is well structured, yet round, with an extended finish of light oak and spice.

On a personal note, I like to open my pinots from 3-5 years from vintage date.  I would suggest waiting until at least 2014 to drink this one.  But I'm sure it's tasting pretty good now.


Idlewild - 2012 Arneis, Fox Hill Vineyard - $28


Quivera - 2011 Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc - $19

Our inaugural vintage of this wine, the 2011 vintage offers lovely, lifted tropical aromas of pineapple, guava and passion fruit, accented by classic Dry Creek citrus tones of lime and orange. A pleasing fresh herbal/grassy character is subtly layered into the background and carries over onto the palate and into in the finish. The mouthfeel and texture are elegant and bright with a juicy, refreshing balance that come from lower alcohols and a deft touch of retained "spritz" from the fermentation. Enjoy as an aperitif, or pair with all manner of light, fresh seafood or, of course, anything that features goat cheese. Enjoy!


LaFollette Wines - 2009 Dunah Pinot Noir - $50

Just a note: LaFollette will be opening a tasting room in the Barlow March 17th.

DuNah Vineyard, Russian River Valley
Blackberry, vanilla pod and violet co-mingle with darker aromas of sandalwood, sassafras and shiitake mushroom. The palate is balanced with red cherry and pomegranate fruit, peaty earthiness and minerality. Fresh acidity and supple tannins mark the late palate, followed by a clean finish. The firm structure and concentration of this wine ensure its age ability.
Planted above the fog line in the Sebastopol Hills, the DuNah Vineyard is the southwestern outpost of the Russian River Valley appellation. Established in 1998 by growers Rick and Diane DuNah, this site enjoys long hours of sunlight, cool coastal temperatures and breathtaking Sonoma County views. From this exceptional site, our aim is to create an age-worthy Pinot Noir of great depth and color, enabled by extremely small berries and a high skin-to-juice ratio.

Note: I will fix this text this afternoon for those of you who have a problem with it.


Passalacqua Winery - 2006 DCV Cabernet Sauvignon - $55

Grapes are selected from several special blocks of the 100-acre TR Passalacqua Vineyard for our classic Cabernet. The 2006 vintage combines perfect proportions of the seductive aromatics of fruit from Block 1, the plum and blackberry flavors of fruit from Block 4 and the ripe, powerful tannins of Blocks 18 and 19, culminating in the balanced, elegant Cabernet our Cab enthusiasts have come to appreciate. Two years of aging in the finest French oak barrels marry the flavors for a smooth mouthfeel and long finish.

(Full disclosure: I have a working relationship with this winery, but it has not influenced my choice to include this wine.  It's a beaut and a bargain at twice the price!)


Sojourn Cellars - 2010 Rodgers Creek Pinot Noir - $48

From their website:  This Pinot noir shows the familiar earthy and mushroom elements that have been consistent through each vintage and seem to exude from the unique soils and dominant Pommard clone.  The site is well-suited for Pinot noir, sitting high on a ridge in the heart of the Petaluma Gap and taking the full brunt of wind and thick fog that define this cool climate zone.  The vines are grown in light, chalky volcanic ash soils on steep inclines, causing natural vine stress and resulting in high levels of concentration.  Two blocks of the Pommard clone form the foundation of this wine, with clone 777 adding a layer of bright fruit.  In 2010, we fermented a portion of the primary Pommard block whole-cluster, adding aromatic complexity and verve.
Elegant aromas of mushroom, earth, and Asian spice overlay a core of dark cherry and blackberry.  This wine stands out in a crowd and shows the most Burgundian flavors in our 2010 line-up.  The texture is very Californian, with great lushness, silky tannins, and lingering finish.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bill,

    Can you please list ballpark wine prices? It would be very helpful.

    In addition, thanks for blogging Sebtown. Keep it up!

    Marsha Sue


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