Wine Blog

October 1, 2016

As we turn to October the 2016 vintage is looking good here in California and Bordeaux. As usual California enjoyed consistent weather, a bit cooler than normal summer but with a huge blast of heat to finish off the harvest on Sept 25-28. My boots on the ground, California winemakers report to me these comments.

Mike Kumelis- Owner/Winemaker at Mantra Wines…Hi Ralph, tomorrow 9-28 we will be all in! Light crop, good concentration, and great growing season. Looks like another very good year.Craig Becker- Winemaker at Somerston-Priest Ranch and Kelleher…We are good here, just staring into red harvest this Thursday 9-29. Looks like another good vintage, the warm weather recently has helped move things along!

Mike Lamborn has finished harvest on the top of Howell Mountain! Hi Ralph! September has been a busy month, but last Thursday we finished up the last of the 2016 harvest....

September 1, 2016

For many years people have asked me when is the best time to visit San Francisco and I always answer October; as the fog moves away from the coast leading to lovely fall days.  As I was playing golf last week in San Francisco very close to where I grew up, it was a very cool 65 degrees and the marine layer of fog was in full shroud and it has been this way for weeks. When I got home only 30 minutes away south it was 75 and nice but nowhere near the normal 20-25 degree difference am I used to. I wondered how this cool weather was affecting the grapes so I shot off this email to a couple of my good winegrowing friends… How are things looking in the vineyard? Living here in Redwood City for the past 13 years, the one thing I have noticed this year is that the summer has been much cooler, and without the usual spikes of drastic heat for a few days that we usually get. The temps a...

August 1, 2016

After a relatively cool growing season so far here in California thru June and half of July the summertime heat has finally been turned up to full blast.

Summertime at my house means a real vacation for my wife and me in Lake Tahoe and taking our son to a two week summer camp an hour north of Napa Valley.  On our way back we stopped at two of our favorite spots on earth.

Before we had a child, we stayed many times at Indian Springs Resort in Calistoga. Back then it was a quiet, rustic retreat featuring mud baths and one of the greatest pools in California.  Well things have of course changed; Calistoga is now a hopping tourist town all year round with fine restaurants and tasting bars. Indian Springs has expanded and upgraded all of its facilities and added a restaurant and bar called Sam’s Social Club and is now an extremely popular destination for people from all around t...

July 1, 2016

“Taste the Greats of Bordeaux Tour with Ralph Sands”

I’ve just returned from yet another amazing tour of some of the greatest estates in the storied history of Bordeaux with 18 customers, something I have been privileged to do so many times now and sometimes I still have to pinch myself!

After a full week of breakfast every morning, great lunches and dinners at a different Chateau everyday and many great wines I definitely came home a few extra pounds heavier but with a lifetime of memories, so it was all worth it. My customers got a firsthand experience of being in the wine business; it rained all week but it did not dampen our sprits! Here are the highlights; I hope you can join me on my next tour.

Sunday June 12th- All 18 customers arrive on the same plane from Paris. Check in at Hotel Relais Margaux before are welcome dinner at Ch. Cantemerle where Director Philippe Dam...

May 31, 2016


As always we kept a crazy busy schedule tasting over 1000 wines from the new baby vintage of 2015. We stayed in the Medoc, at Ch. Beauragard in Pomerol and at Ch. Le Thil in Leognan. The hard work was well worth it, I know the wines inside and out and the comparison vintage is an easy answer for me; very much like 2005.
Now that the scores are in and some prices are out we are indeed having our first real Pre-Arrival Campaign since 2010 and everyone who loves Bordeaux is happy with the opening prices, at least so far. I’m thrilled with the wines across the board, the absolute natural beauty the wines feature, and the great purity of fruit, the tremendous freshness and above all, their great taste.
This vintage is the perfect vintage for young people to lay the foundation of a great wine cellar and if you are up there in age it is important to know that this is not a vintage...

May 1, 2016


After a few quiet months in the business of wine the month of May really kick starts an exciting year for wine. In Hong Kong May 24-26 is VinExpo Asia and PrimeCellar will have a booth pouring our fantastic California portfolio so be sure to stop by. I have just returned from Bordeaux where I tasted over 1000 wines from the fine 2015 vintage; more on that later.

At PrimeCellar we are in our eighth year of business in Asia and as I reflect on this time and the wineries we represent I am very proud of the entire group, as the wines keep on improving and the winemakers are really hitting their stride. We keep in close contact with them all year round to see what is new and what they are excited about; here is the latest information.

On Howell Mountain my buddy Mike Lamborn is excited about the beginning of Organic Farming at Lamborn Family in 2016. Mike is honest and straightfo...

March 1, 2016

Wow, it is already March and time seems to be flying! For wine lovers it is already an exciting year with so much great wine being available from all over the globe and more coming on the horizon.

From California there continues to be a wide selection of Cabernet Sauvignons from the lush and plush vintage of 2012 that are drinking wonderfully right now and everyone loves them; but be aware that 2013 in my opinion is even better, featuring a darker core of stronger fruit with better freshness and acid. Many of the early releases from 2013 are available now. The 2013’s Cabernets from Lamborn Family, Somerston, Priest Ranch and Kelleher should be spectacular wines and I am very excited to taste them all. I did just taste the 2013 Zinfandel and Pinot Noir made by Erik Miller at Kokomo and they are indeed outstanding.

The 2010 Brunello vintage continues to dominate much of the w...

February 1, 2016

(Pictured above from left to right, front row, Gian, Stefan and Antony  

Back row, Ralph, Julie, Sherri, Alton, Kim, Jon and Captain Rick)


Where does a wine specialist go for a weekend getaway vacation to re charge his batteries and rejuvenate the soul after the busy holiday season? How about Napa Valley! That is exactly what I did with my wife Kim, son Alton and our family friends from Tampa Florida, Rick, Sherri and their 8 year old triplets Gian, Anthny and Stefan.

Napa in the winter is so beautiful, peaceful and quiet that you almost got the feeling that the valley was closed. But it’s not! It’s just winter!

While everyone here in California is fully embracing the wonderful set of winter storms that are bringing rain and snow to help fill our depleted reservoirs after 4 years of draught, the people working in the tasting rooms and restaurants of Napa are taking this time...

August 1, 2015


Dear PrimeCellar members and friends, I hope you and your families are enjoying the warm summer weather. I have just returned from a two week vacation with my 11 year old son Alton, it was a father and son trip to get away from the rigors of busy city life, and spend some quality time together.

We had a wonderful time in the  majestic Mountains of Livingston, Montana and in the incredible Lake Tahoe National Forest here in California. As I return to the business of wine on this warm Sunday afternoon at 4pm, I realize it's the perfect time for a for glass a glass of Kelleher 2012 Sauvignon Blanc!

While my vacation was to avoid big crowds I can just imagine the thousands of vacationers pouring out of the wineries in the lovely Napa Valley after  day of tasting in 85 degree weather and looking for their next glass of wine. Most likely that wine will be white and chilled! A fantas...

January 5, 2015





Hoping for Peace; and a Great year for Wine in 2015!


Happy New year to you; all our Prime Cellar members and my esteemed colleagues from the west coast of California.


Unfortunately for most of us the year of 2014 will be remembered with a heavy heart and as the year of protests in Hong Kong and in America.


For the first time in five years I did not travel to Hong Kong due to the dramatic protests for democracy. Being an American who has a love for Hong Kong and its people this is very difficult to watch from afar, as well to understand and reveals the harsh reality that we take our freedom here in America for granted every day.


In America’s major cities, protesters are clashing with police over racial profiling and the shooting death of a young black teenager, Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri by white police officers and most recently the chocking death of another black...

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Mr. Ralph Sands

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