The Art of Barrel Making

I am taking a course through Sonoma State University and this link was on my syllabus as useful information.

It shows just what an old-world art form barrel making still is.  It was fun to see this video was from “Goosecross Cellars” as this is who I did my latest project on for this course!


The Perfect Quick Trip To Napa

I’ve taken a few trips to Napa in the last year and just can’t get them off my mind.  I thought sharing with my lovely blog readers was a must – specifically my last trip because it stands out as one of the best.  That could be because my wonderful husband was accompanying me for the first time on this one.  We stayed 2 nights and 3 days.  We made sure to catch an early morning flight on Friday and an evening flight back home on Sunday.  We live in San Diego so can easily fly “Virgin America” which is a great experience in and of itself (think decked out disco limo in the sky / technology mecca).

We stayed at “The Cottages of Napa Valley”  ( and had our very own cute little cozy cottage.  It was like having a mini house minus all the responsibilities!  The bed was big and plush, the bathroom had a large shower, double sink (actually it was one very long sink), jacuzzi tub and heated floors.  The cottage included both regular and french press coffee options as well as tea (a treat for me since I’m a tea drinker), a lovely bottle of wine as a welcome, and a couple little “wet bar” type snacks that were on the house!  All that is amazing enough but the best feature happened every morning when a basket of delicious, fresh baked pastries, orange juice and a newspaper magically appeared on our doorstep!  LOVE that!!!

Our first night in town we ate at “Bottega” (  This is acclaimed chef Michael Chiarella’s famous restaurant in the heart of Yountville and yes, he was actually in the kitchen cooking that evening.  The food was just exquisite.  This was my second visit and I’m convinced everything on the menu is spectacular!  The first time there I drank the “Roux Old Vine Petit Sirah.”  It was what made me get on my new crusade of loving Petit Sirah!  This wine is so good that my husband and I ordered it again for our romantic dinner.

On Saturday we decided to drive up to Calistoga and work our way back down to Napa so we could visit all the AVA’s that were of interest to us.  St. Helena and Yountville came out on top as our favorites although I hesitate to say that because they all were quaint in their own right.  In St. Helena we HAD to stop in the Clif Family Winery’s “Velo Vino” tasting room ( because my husband is an avid bicyclist and just had to see what it was all about.  You may have already guessed it….these are the guys who make “Clif Bars.”  I have to say it was a pleasant experience for me as well.  The staff was very friendly in the  midst of them juggling shuttles for their “Members Party” and made sure we were taken care of.  In fact, they even suggested our lunch stop.  Almost across the street from “Velo Vino” is “Farmstead Restaurant” ( part of Long Meadow Ranch.  The food was amazing!  I was pretty full by this point from all the great eating we had done since getting off the plane so I decided to order a couple appetizers.  Part of my sampling was the “Meatballs with caramelized root vegetables and tomato marmalade.”  There was so much flavor going on with this dish it just blew me away – even with a full tummy.  In fact I was so impressed with this dish that for the first time in my 17 years as subscriber to Bon Appetit magazine I wrote their “RSVP” section to request the recipe!  I’m still waiting to see if they are smart enough to get it for all of us to try at home! 😉  Shockingly I ordered no wine but sipped my husband’s delicious glass of Stony Hill Chardonnay.

By this point we had eaten and drank our way through the beautiful Napa Valley and couldn’t imagine having a huge dinner that evening so we came up with the great plan for our evening meal.  We went to “Oakville Grocery” ( for a simple meat and cheese board to go with wine we had waiting for us in our cute little cottage.  We saw an advertisement for “Oakville Grocery” while getting a quick bite to eat at the airport after landing.  Let me just take a quick detour to tell you about our airport eating.  We stopped at Tyler Florence’s take-out version of his “Rotisserie & Wine” restaurant – again amazing!  I had this garbanzo bean, fennel, chorizo gratin that I still crave!.  Ok back to my original point – “Oakville Grocery” sits at the corner of Oakville Crossroad and Hwy 29 and has been in business since 1881.  It is a must stop for tourists and locals alike.  We were in heaven at this little shop filled with everything yummy.  We bought meats, cheeses, quince pate, etc.  We arrived back in our cottage exhausted so put on our comfy robes, kicked on the fireplace and enjoyed our homemade “fromage & charcuterie” board and wine.

I’ve given you plenty of great reasons for your own perfect quick trip.  Everyone can find 2 nights to sneak away at some point and this is a great place to do it!  No excuses!  ENJOY!

A few other noteworthy places I visited on previous trips:
Mustards Grill – executive chef & owner Cindy Pawlcyn (
Morimoto – executive chef and owner Masaharu Morimoto of Food Networks “Iron Chef” (
Boon Fly – part of the “Caneros Inn” and “Plumpjack Resorts” (  This place is off the hook for breakfast!


Even More Savings On Barrel Blend

I forgot to mention in yesterday’s posting about the exclusive discount offer from Hill Family Estate the extra savings…

In addition to the 15% discount offered exclusively to Deep Red Cellar customers, you get a 10% discount for ordering a case of any wine with Hill Family Estate.  That means a generous 25% discount on this great balanced red wine (mixed cases excluded).

Don’t wait….order your case today!


A Surfer’s Wine – Discounted for Deep Red Cellar Customers Only!!!

I am re-posting the below write up on Napa Valley’s “Barrel Blend” wine because the good folks of Hill Family Estate have offered a DISCOUNT exclusively for Deep Red Cellar customers!

15% Discount on a case of Hill Family Estate “Barrel Blend” wine.

Go directly to and put BB15 in the “offer code” section during check out.

This is being offered exclusively for you, the customers of Deep Red Cellar.

I have some good news!  I have found a really good wine that does not taste like it was made for every wine drinker on the planet.  You may think that is NOT good news, but I say it is.  After living in Italy for 3 years, I came home to America to find most of the “everyday drinking” wines tasting the same – all geared toward ease of drinking but lacking in complexity and finish.  But alas, I have stumbled on a really great everyday wine that has some depth to it.

I was happy to see a new wine store in my town called Wine Styles. They carry many reasonably priced bottles of wine, have a monthly wine club and offer special events like tastings, pairings, etc.  It was about day 3 of being in town that my husband and I walked into this store to purchase some wine (afterall, a hotel room with no wine is not really a hotel room at all).  I was signing us up for the wine club, and my husband started talking with one of the employees.  Turns out, the employee was professional surfer, Kyle Knox, who just happens to have a passion for wine.  So much so, in fact, that he teamed up with Hill Family Estate to make his signature “Barrel Blend” wine (the pun is intended).

I bought a bottle to try and was very impressed.  Gone was the overly fruit forward taste that had drained me of all hope in finding reasonably priced, reasonably complex California wine.  This wine is really good.   It is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Malbec.  Sounds enticing doesn’t it – a great blending of varietals.  This wine is all about balance.  Hill Family Estate winemaker Alison Doran puts it best:  “The nose has a great ‘wow’ factor – unmistakably Napa in its elegance, but with an earthy blackberry and vanilla appeal that really makes you want to take a sip. And the palate is lovely, balanced, seductive and interesting, with plushy berry fruit and vanilla scented oak playing backup on tannins.”

Maybe it’s just me, but I also tasted plum.  Whatever the case, this wine will be coming home with me often.  I may not drink it literally everyday (retails for about $20 a bottle) but as often as I crave a balanced, interesting wine.

*tasting note source: