Wine Blog

October 30, 2017

On Sunday October 8th I was excited as I settled in to watch the final round of PGA Tour event, The Safeway Open being played 2 hours north of my home at Silverado Country Club in Napa; a course I know well. It is a beautiful setting and as I tuned in the announcer was saying that the conditions were going to be more difficult today as the forecast called for the wind to pick up in the late afternoon as the leaders headed for the back nine. The swirling winds were coming from the north-east creating offshore winds that are typical for October in the bay area, pushing back the fogbank and creating beautiful weather. Brendon Steel ended up winning by a stroke, but that would soon be an insignificant afterthought.

When I woke at 7am the next morning and turned on the TV I could not believe what I saw! The first picture was of the stands on fire at the golf course and multi-millio...

October 9, 2017

I’ve been selling wine on the phone all over America for over 30 years now and it is clear that Cabernet Sauvignon is the King of wines and Chardonnay is the Queen, but Zinfandel is definitely the native and favorite son. While people respect Cabernet and Chardonnay and the prices they command, the passion in the voices of the people who buy and love Zinfandel far exceeds both of those pillars of the wine business.

Zin as we call it, was the wine that sent me head over heels in love with wine and it remains my true love to this day. When I started in this business in 1978 I was lucky to find a mentor, who loved wine, and he pointed out that we had one of California’s greatest Zinfandels on the shelf 1974 Sutter Home Zinfandel from the Deaver Vineyard in Amador County. It was very expensive, $10, especially when I was making $3.65 and hour! But the vineyard was planted in 1881...

November 30, 2016

My 2015 Wine of the Year is 2013 Lamborn Family Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

After returning from Hong Kong last week my wife Kim and I enjoyed a special dinner together and we shared a bottle of 2013 Lamborn Family Cabernet Sauvignon; after a few sips I turned to her and said “this is phenomenal wine!” This is my #1 wine of the year from California. I receive thousands of phone calls this time of year from people looking for that  very special gift bottle for family, friends and clients, and most often people ask for the exact same old handful of expensive Napa wines.  These conversations bore me to death as do most of those wines. In fact I just tasted 13 of the greatest and famous California Cabernets some that cost a $100-150 more than the Lamborn wine, and the Lamborn wine blows them away.

Here is my Lamborn Story…

Howell Mountain is a long way from my beloved Bo...

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...

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Mr. Ralph Sands

Wine Consultant

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Hong Kong Pioneer, California Wine Specialist, Napa Valley, Sonoma County, USA Wine, Prime Cellar Hong Kong