PrimeCellar Stars and their Wines are Shining Brightly!

After 4 years of severe drought in California it has all changed and it seems that it has rained continually since November. It is almost unbelievable. “La Nina” conditions triggered a series of storms called atmospheric rivers that pounded California this winter; leaving parched water tables, reservoirs, rivers and dams filled to capacity and beyond! That rain turned to snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains the key water source for the San Francisco Bay Area. Everyone is thrilled to have water restrictions lifted, skiers are in heaven and the vines are also very happy. The only concern now is the runoff of the deep snowpack when the summer heat kicks in and drains into the already at capacity dams and rivers. Extreme conditions have always been the norm in California!

But on the morning of Monday March 13th the sun was bright and crisp, the sky was as blue as my eyes and there was not a cloud in the sky. Perfect tasting weather for our yearly visit to our PrimeCellar Winery accounts in Sonoma and Napa.

In Sonoma these are exciting times for two of our fantastic winemakers. Owner-Winemaker Eric Miller and his partner, wine grower Randy Peters at Kokomo Winery really do treat their customers like family and they have expanded their tasting room for their wine club members around the country. Like everything they do it is very tastefully done and reflects their warm country style. We tasted thru the new releases and they were “Rockin”!

We started with the small production (1200 cases) 2013 Blanc de Blanc Sparking wine…lovely, light green apple fruit, a super tasty crowd pleaser. The 2016 Timbercrest vineyard Sauvignon Blanc is a testament to Eric’s passion to make great SB! Every year he gets better and the 16 is a stunner. Eric picks 30%of the crop early for exceptional freshness and brisk acidity. The wine is aged 24 months in Acacia wood which adds to the aromatic complexity. Eric’s 2014 red releases are also very impressive, include his Dry Creek Zinfandel “Nice and firm, deep red berry fruit, bright and racy, with a little Petite Sirah” His Red Cuvee is a delicious blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Malbec. The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon from the “Ruth Vineyard” from the Alexander Valley is a lovely wine with and abundance of silky sweet fruit with perfect balance; a delicious Cabernet to drink young which is exactly what I did taking one home to share with my wife Kim! I urge all of our PrimeCellar members to check out the outstanding 7 minute video on the Kokomo homepage that beautifully illustrates Eric and Randy’s passion.

Please check out at :

(related video from youtube)

Next we met winemaker Mike Kumelis at Grazie Restaurant in downtown Novato to taste the new releases from Mantra Vineyards. Mike and his wines are very similar to Eric and his Kokomo wines in a couple of very important ways. Both are young, talented winemakers, both have total control of their fruit; Mike’s family owns old vineyards in the Alexander Valley and in Cloverdale. Both wineries are relatively small, specialize in old vine Zinfandel of top quality and both offer phenomenal value which is always a winning combination.

Novoto is a lovely bedroom community located right off highway 101 as you drive north to the wine country of Sonoma and Napa. Mike’s family lives there and he will soon open the Mantra Wine Tasting Bar at the corner of Grant and Machin Drive. Mike makes two different labels; the Mobius Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel are made to enjoy right away, showing lots of soft, warm, sweet fruit. His Mantra wines are much deeper and serious expressions fruit. I love the 2014 Alexander Valley Old Vine Zinfandel and its deep, spicy, purple/black fruit from open top fermentation and a bit of Petite Sirah.

I believe this outstanding location and the fine quality of Mikes wines will make this a very happening place to be and will give the Manta wines great exposure. I just hope they don’t get too popular! I plan to swing by on my next trip to the wine country.

Cheers and Happy Spring to all of you!

Ralph Sands

PrimeCellar Consultant

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Mr. Ralph Sands

Wine Consultant

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