Wineries of the Month

Valle Isarco, Cantina

Valle Isarco, Cantina
The Cantina Produtori Valle Isarco cellars are devoted to the production of quality wine. Founded in a traditionally vine-growing area, the Cantina Valle Isarco is the newest wine-making cooperative in South Tyrol; yet, its premium wines have already become famous both at home and abroad. Because the Valle Isarco enjoys the ideal climate for growing white grapes, the Cantina Produttori Valle Isarco specialized in the production of white wine. The elegance and character of the wines reflect the philosophy of the Cantina and of its 130 members: Quality without Compromise!

The 130 members of the Cellars grow grapes on 350 acres in the northernmost production areas on the southern side of the Alps; vine-growing is carried out on steep sunny slopes up to 900 meters above sea level. Here, the ideal conditions are found for producing fresh, aromatic wines with a pleasant fruity note. Although mostly red wines were produced in the early 1960s, the Cantina Produttori Valle Isarco is now famous for its excellent whites.

Markus Prackwieser Gump
The winery Gump (Gumphof) is nestled in the steep slopes at the entry of the Isarco Valley and its vineyards stretch from an altitude of 350 to 550 metres (1,150-1,800 feet) above sea level. The five hectare (ten acres) are planted with Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon, Gewürztraminer, Schiava and Pinot Noir wines. At an age of 28, Markus Prackwieser started a quiet transformation and has produced his own wine since. His wines have been sought after both nationally and internationally, especially his outstanding Praesulis Selection wine range. The name Praesulis derives from the nearby Castle of Presule.

Damijan Podversic
Damijan Podversic started out in the family business as a negociant. But when he found a small abandoned plot in the Collio Goriziano, he ignored the common attitude that it was too difficult to work and eagerly bought it. He cleared the land, rebuilt terraces, and set to replanting it: not only does he now cultivate top-quality grapes, but his once skeptical neighbors eye his steep mountaintop vineyard with great envy.

Podversic’s work in the cellar is no less daring and no less successful. Breaking the confines of tradition and shunning modern practices like the use of stainless steel, Damijan pursues natural winemaking, which he learned from the great


Winery of the Month

Frogs Tooth Winery

Frog’s Tooth Winery
Now officially located in Copperopolis, and nestled in the Salt Springs Reservoir Valley…Frog’s Tooth Vineyards began to take shape in 1999, with the purchase of 67 acres. A natural spring swells to create a small frog pond in the interior of the vineyard where we’ve planted 4 unique Rhone varietals. Becoming bonded as Frog’s Tooth Winery in 2005 allowed us to harvest and crush our own fruit. We have been fortunate to concentrate on the varietals that grow best in our region. Our vineyard features Rhone varietals: Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc along with Grenache and Petite Syrah.

The Frog’s Tooth Vineyards history continues in 2015 with the addition of Nathan Vader as our winemaker extraordinaire. Nathan is the most award winning “hands on” winemaker at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, arguably the most prestigious wine competition in America. We look forward to the phenomenal wines that will be produced by Nathan and his assistant Will Houle.

A keen set of partners with shared goals drives our business and we hope that you will find time to visit us. We welcome your comments and suggestions as we move forward!!

Renaissance Winery
Founded in 1978, Renaissance wines are best known for their uncompromising expression of terroir and distinctive style. The Renaissance vineyard is located in the Sierra Nevada foothills at altitudes of 1700-2350 feet. This is a real mountain vineyard: the vines are planted on slopes with gradations that vary from gentle to breathtaking; the complex topography offers all possible sun exposures and a myriad of micro-climates. The basic quality and character of our Estate Bottled wines distinctly express this terroir.

Our wines are terroir-driven, non fruit-bomb, sane alcohol level, balanced, long-lived, highly concentrated, not over-oaked, unfiltered, unfined with hand-picked grapes and biodynamically farmed…

ITALIAN Wines of the Month

Trentino Alto-AdigeARTISAN SERIES

Valle Isarco 2014 Gruner Veltliner DOC
This Austrian varietal produces a fruity, pleasingly spiced white wine. Aromas of fresh green apple, citrus, lime and grass are found with flavors of lemon, flower, and citrus. Pairs with soft cheeses, fish appetizers, white meat fricassees and poached or grilled fish. Alcohol 13.5%

Valle Isarco 2014 Schiava DOC
Located at the mouth of the Isarco Valley, north of Balzano, this area fully meets the needs of this variety, providing the typical Schiava elegance and fruity notes that have made this red wine the most renowned of South Tyrol. Traditionally characteristic of light, fruity elegance, this wine has aromas of buttery cherry, cinnamon and strawberry. The palate finds more buttery cherry, spice and almond. It is aged in Acacia wood casks and grown at 1800 feet above sea level. Alcohol 12.0%.


Gump Weissburgunder (Pinot Bianco)
“Praesulis” DOC
This is a distinctly Alto Adige Weissburgunder, which means minerality and acidity take precedence over fruit. Aromas of flowers, herbs, and tree fruit fill the nose as the palate finds mineral, guava, herb, some citrus and some tropical fruit. 667 cases produced at 13.5% Alcohol.

Valle Isarco 2015 Pinot Nero DOC
The warm hillsides around Campodazzo in the lower Valle Isarco, provide the ideal conditions for the growing of this acclaimed variety, giving the wine the expressiveness and typicality that have made it one of the most refined reds. A nice light and velvety drinker, bright ruby red in color, with hints of cranberry, licorice and smoke travel to the palate to find allspice, sour cherry, and a bit of a pepper finish on the tongue. It is fermented in steel vats and aged in wooden barrels. Pairs well with game, grilled meats, stews, and spicy cheeses. Alcohol 12.5%.

Valle Isarco 2013 Lagrein DOC
Grown at 820 feet above sea level in gravelly soil, this is a very smooth and balanced wine, with an intense garnet hue, scents of violet, wild berries, chocolate and spices fill the nose. Flavors of spicy blackberry, wood and black pepper find the palate. Pairs well with richly seasoned dishes, game and strong cheeses. Alcohol 12.5%.


Gump 2014 Pinot Noir DOC
Grown at the entry of the Isarco Valley, this medium bodied wine possesses lovely depth and gorgeous persistence. Sweet red berries, licorice, smoke, tobacco, and spice emerge from the glass. In the traditional method, it is fermented in steel tanks and aged in wooden barrels. Pairs with pork, smoked chicken and most red meats. This Pinot will need to decant an hour to release its full potential. Alcohol 14.0%.

Damijan 2011 Prelit IGT
From the Monte Calvario vineyard with southern exposure, this is a deep rubyviolet colored blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon is born. Prelit is a wonderfully structured and balanced wine with silky tannins. Cacao, smoke, dark ripe fruit, earth, spice, and a hint of eucalyptus hits the nose. Herbaceous earthiness, black fruit, and oak tantalize the palate. It is aged in barrels for 23 months and then another 6 month in the bottle. Decant an hour. Alcohol 15.0%.

ITALIAN Region of the Month

Trentino Alto-Adige

Trentino Alto-Adige, Italy’s northern most region, borders Austria and Switzerland. Dominated by the Rhaetian Alps and the Dolomite Mountains, only about 15 percent of the region is suitable for cultivation. In the south, vineyards climb the sides of sweeping river valleys up to the foothills of high mountains. The Etruscans were probably the first people to practice viticulture in the area and may have been responsible for training vines on wooden frames. At the time, farmers in other parts of Italy more commonly trained their vines on trees. Today, Alto Adige’s native Lagrein and Trentino’s Teroldego are among Italy’s most distinguished red wines, and Cabernet and Merlot, which have grown in the region for 150 years, have reached impressive heights. The region also produces some of Italy’s finest Rosé. Among the white wines, Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and Grigio, Sauvignon, and Riesling Renano can also stand with Italy’s finest. Trentino, which has Italy’s largest production of Chardonnay is a leader with sparkling wines. The region also produces the aromatic Gewurztraminer, Sylvaner, and Muller Thurgau.

CALIFORNIAN Wines of the Month


Frog’s Tooth 2014 Pinot Grigio
This rich, round full-bodied white wine is delicately fragrant with light citrus of lemon and lime and a hint of grapefruit and pear. Pair with pork, chicken and all seafood with cream or butter. Alcohol 14.0%.

Frog’s Tooth 2011 Grenouille Rouge
A beautiful blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Light on the palette yet the bold flavor of a good Cabernet. Flavors of cherry, cinnamon apple, leather and some pepper are found. Pairs with most smoked meats. Alcohol 12.7%.


Frog’s Tooth 2014 Fume’ Blanc
100% Sauvignon Blanc, clean and crisp is aged 10 months in French oak. The nose finds honeysuckle, vanilla and herbs. Flavors of grapefruit, lemon zest, honey and kiwi find the palate. Pairs well with fish or cheese, particularly Chevre, and even sushi. Alcohol 13.9%.

Frog’s Tooth 2013 Barbera
A medium to full bodied Italian varietal, aged in French oak 18 months, with light tannins, exudes whiffs of dark berries, leather, wood and butter. Flavors of backberry, cherry and wood abound. A very food friendly wine. Pairs nicely with pizza, grilled meats,prosciutto and parmigiana. Alcohol 15.1%.

Frog’s Tooth 2012 Meritage
A Bordeaux blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% each of Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Flavors of blackberry, cherry, pepper and oak find the palate after aromas of baking spices, cherry and raspberry. Pairs with fowl and beef dishes as well as bleu cheese. Alcohol 12.78%.


Renaissance 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon Premiere Cuvee
These wines are powerful, full expressions of Cabernet. Boasting 76% Cabernet and 24% Merlot, with notes of black cherry, fruit cake, graphite, dried thyme and woody spice. This wine must be decanted for at least 2 hours and overnight is even better. Nicely balanced at 12.6% Alcohol.

Renaissance 1999 Claret Prestige
29% Cab Franc, 28% Cab Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 11% Syrah, and 5% Petit Verdot blends for an outstanding wine. Hints of espresso and cedar, along with flavors cherry, tobacco, forest floor and dried herb on the finish. Another must decant for at least 2 hours. Alcohol 13.0%.

CALIFORNIAN Region of the Month


In the midst of California’s charming Gold Country and spectacular High Sierra is Calaveras County. Ranging in altitude from close to sea level in the foothills to more than 8,000-feet at the Sierra crest, Calaveras boasts of diverse ecological and geological landscapes. Interesting geology extends well below ground level too, forming three show caves and a natural bridge formation. Part of the Sierra Foothills appellation, the Calaveras wine industry is developing a reputation for high quality innovation, specializing in big zins, Italian, Spanish and Rhone varietals.


By Chef & Sommelier Robin L. Obert

‘Tis the season for deep roasted caramelized deliciousness!

Roasted butternut squash and apple soup with a rosemary, sherry caramel drizzle finished with cayenne pepper toasted pumpkin seeds

Salad of chiffonade romaine, kale, red cabbage and carrot ribbons with a pomegranate vinaigrette

Roasted Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and radicchio with a butter, almond & bacon glaze

Cabernet Meritage braised short ribs with baby carrots, roasted potatoes & onions

Pinot Grigio poached pears with toasted walnuts and Cognac caramel sauce

If you would like the recipe to any of these menu items, please email Robin at