Wine Blog

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...

September 1, 2015

 

Customers have asked me this question over and over again for a few decades now; if you could choose just one wine to drink on your last day of life and last dinner what would it be? My answer is any vintage of Ch. Latour.

 

 

 

During my almost 40 years in the wine business I have been blessed to visit, taste and enjoy many of the world’s greatest wines. Some of my most memorable have been 1982 Cheval Blanc, 1982 and 1986 Mouton Rothschild, 1986 Ch. Margaux, 1982 Pichon Comtesse de Lalande  and the entire line of 1985 DRC wines. These are all legendary wines that I would love to drink on my last day, but because of my experience with the great wines of Ch. Latour, Latour trumps them all. At a Ch. Latour dinner in San Francisco in one evening we enjoyed 1985, 82, 70, 61, 59, 58 and 1945. That tasting alone is a life changer!

 

We have a close relationship with Ch. Latour and its p...

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...

June 1, 2015

Words can hardly express how excited I was to hear that PrimeCellar would be representing the iconic Napa Valley wines from Grgich Hills Estate in Asia.

 

You don’t often get the chance to sell an estate whose wine literally changed the entire landscape, industry and perception of California wine around the world and forever.

That is exactly what happened when the 1973 Ch. Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay made by Miljenko “Mike” Grgich was judged by 9 esteemed France palates to be the best white wine beating out 4 of Frances greatest Chardonnays from Burgundy and 5 other California Chardonnays in the now famous “Judgment of Paris”.

 

The tasting put on by British wine merchant Steven Spurrier stunned the wine world; no one expected this result and the French experts were not happy. Mr. Spurrier invited numerous members of the press but they showed no interest, obviously feeling th...

May 1, 2015

Where do you start when describing a love affair that started almost 40 years ago and changed your life forever; I suppose at the beginning. The year was 1978 and I was 23 staring at the wine selection at K&L Liquors in Millbrae California which at this time was 3 by 5 feet in size and today features over 4000 wines to choose from. The previous week one of the employees and I decided that we would explore this “wine thing” and that we would buy one bottle every Friday night and taste it in the parking lot.

Wine was definitely not the rage back then and most wines were consumed in huge 4.0 liter bottles we called jug wines. Our venture into wines bottled in .750ml started with white wines like Wente Grey Riesling and Charles Krug Chenin Blanc and they were interesting but we soon moved to the King of Wines, Cabernet Sauvignon. We tasted now legendary wines like 1974 & 1975 Robe...

March 31, 2015

When I received the news that the Kelleher Family 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, “Block 21” and 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon both won Gold medals at the American Fine Wine Competition my first thought was; it’s about time, what took them so long!

 

From my first taste of the Kelleher wines was at the Family Winemakers Tasting at Fort Mason in San Francisco over 7 years ago when we were starting Prime Cellar and looking for wineries to represent; I knew right away we had stumbled on to something very special.

 

Family Winemakers is a huge event with over a hundred wineries, there is no way you can taste everything in one day, so I decided to taste wineries the wines that I was not familiar with. So we were indeed a bit lucky to meet Valerie Kelleher sitting behind her two wines. At the end of this long day of tasting the Kelleher wines were rated at the top of our list and we rushed up to the N...

March 1, 2015

One of the greatest aspects of being a passionate wine lover is that the learning and pleasurable experiences are never ending and last a lifetime. When you are a grizzled veteran in the wine business for almost 40 year like I am you sometimes forget just how much fun wine can be. I was reminded of this on a recent vacation to the Napa Valley with my wife and friends.

 

It was pouring rain when we pulled into Conn Creek winery on the Silverado Trail; as soon as I walked in I saw a row of Cabernet Sauvignons with the old Conn Creek labels from the 1970’s, all wines that I had enjoyed in my youth, it was an instant flashback and I realized I had not been here in 30 years!

 

We were there for a two hour Cabernet Sauvignon blending session and it turned out to be one of the greatest experiences I have ever had in Napa and I urge all of our PrimeCellar members to book this adventure o...

October 5, 2014

 

As you most likely know by now the drought stricken Napa Valley got a very strong wakeup call on August 24th at 3:20 am when a 6.0 earthquake rolled thru northern California. While we are used to a little rock and roll here in the San Francisco bay area, this was the largest quake since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and aftershocks continued for 11 days.

 

Napa took a direct hit and it caused one death and around 80 million dollars in property damage in Napa alone with many wineries loosing many barrels, tanks and bottles in storage. Downtown Napa is loaded with charming old buildings and its original residential neighborhoods have blocks of lovely old Victorian houses, many of these have been badly damaged and have been red tagged, which means they will have to be completely rebuilt and retrofitted. That of course is terrible news but as far as wineries are concerned; Napa...

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Mr. Ralph Sands

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