Announcement: My blog has moved…

Hello world!  If you arrived here using, I want to let you know that I have officially moved my blog to my domain name which is

I’ve owned the domain name for several years. So, when I started blogging, I redirected it to this site.  Now, I am thrilled to be using web software on my web hosting server which allows for so much more freedom to customize.

Again, thank you for visiting my blog. I sincerely appreciate your continued support.

– Melinda


“Rockpile Rocks at Rock Wall” Wine Trade Event

Rockpile AppellationOn Wednesday, September 8, 2010, I attended the first-ever trade and media event promoting one of California’s newest appellations, the Rockpile AVA. This event was sponsored by the Rockpile Grape Growers Association and Sommelier Journal. It was graciously hosted by Rock Wall Wine Company (Shauna & Kent Rosenblum) of Alameda, CA. Also, it was great to finally meet Randy Caparoso in person! He’s an editor for Sommelier Journal and an acclaimed restaurant wine consultant.

Sommelier Journal MagazineThe Rockpile appellation located in Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County California was established in 2002. However, the area has been referred to as Rockpile since the 1850’s and has quite a history, aside from grapes, which includes an outlaw from the Jesse James gang and even actors from the famous TV Western Bonanza.  You can learn a lot more about the Rockpile AVA, the winemakers, grape growers and what makes it so special at:

Although Rockpile is known for Zinfandels, it was a very educational to taste the Zinfandels along with Merlots, Cabernet Sauvignons, Syrahs, and Petit Sirahs from the appellation. In addition, doing a vertical tasting of Carol Shelton Wines’ Rocky Reserve Zinfandels from years 2000 to 2009 at her table was a very special treat!  During the breakout session, we were guided through vertical tastings of 4 flights of 5 Rockpile Zinfandel vintages and participated in a Q & A of  the winemakers moderated by Kent Rosenblum. Here’s what we tasted:

  • 2001 & 2002 Carol Shelton and Mauritson Zinfandels
  • 2005, 2007 and 2009 Carol Shelton, Seghesio, Mauritson and Paradise Ridge Zinfandels

The wineries that were there with their Rockpile appellation wines for tasting were: Rock Wall Wine Company, Mauritson Family Winery, Carol Shelton, JC Cellars, Paradise Ridge Winery, Seghesio Family Vineyards, Stryker Sonoma Winery, Branham Estate Wines and Branham Rockpile Vineyard.  The Rockpile grape growers that participated were: Gloeckner-Turner and Westphall Ridge Vineyards, JD Ranch, Rocky Ridge Vineyards, Mauritson Rockpile Ridge and Rockpile Ranch.

These are a few photos I took at the event. I wish I took more photos, but I was so busy tasting all the rockin’ Rockpile wines!  Randy Caparoso took more photos which you may be able to see on Facebook if you have an account and his photos can be publicly viewed.

Rockpile AVA Tasting held at Rockwall Wine Company, Alameda, CA

Walk-around tasting of Rockpile AVA wines held at Rockwall Wine Company, Alameda, CA

Rockpile AVA Tasting held at Rockwall Wine Company, Alameda, CA

Carol Shelton and Mitch Mackenzie at Rockpile AVA Tasting held at Rockwall Wine Co.

Carol Shelton (R) and Mitch Mackenzie (L) of Carol Shelton Wines

Carol Shelton Rockpile Vertical Tasting 2000-2009

Carol Shelton Rockpile Vertical Tasting 2000-2009

Tasting Notes: Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007 Avalon Winery, Napa, California, USA

2007 Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley (9/6/2010)
A delightful crowd pleasing lively dry red wine at a great price. This sells out every weekend where I work, so I just had to buy it and try it. I am glad I did. It can make a great go-to house wine. Now I understand why it’s so appealing.  SIGHT: garnet center, ruby rim, medium concentration, stained tears/legs, thin but persistent legs. AROMAS & FLAVORS: fruit – ripe blackberry and black cherry, dried cranberry;  non-fruit – dried rose petals, new leather, sweet baking spices like cinnamon and cloves, toasty vanilla, thyme, oregano, cedar, eucalyptus, mint;  earth – hint of truffle or mushroom and mineral;  wood – aged in oak.  TANNINS: firm and lingering. FINISH: long.  ALCOHOL: 13.8%

Posted from CellarTracker

Tasting Notes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Non-Vintage David Stone Vineyards, California, USA

N.V. David Stone Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California (7/15/2010)
This wine is what I call a “Cocktail Cab”. It is so light and fruit forward that you can drink this as a cocktail wine with no food. It’s definitely not your classic rich full bodied oaky California Cabernet Sauvignon. However, it does have it’s merits for certain occasions, those who want an easy drinking red, or those who are starting to drink red wines. This wine can also work as a good summer sipping red because of how light it is.  It reminds me of Gamay, Grenache or even “Dubonnet” which is a fortified herb infused red aperitif wine.  SIGHT – ruby in color, clear, transparent.  AROMAS – Fruit: ripe, sweet raspberries, candied cherries, cranberries, sugar plums, fruit punch; Non-fruit: roses or violets, hint butterscotch, tomatoes on the vine, hint oregano and thyme, little to no oak.  FLAVORS – raisins, cherry cola, plum cobbler.  STRUCTURE – low acid, low tannins and almost off-dry.  ALCOHOL – 12 % which is very low compared to most California red wines but is on par or comparable to alcohol level in wines from parts of Europe. I found this at Walgreen’s, 2 for $10, and just had to try it out of curiosity.  So, I will be trying the Chardonnay soon which I bought at the same time.  This is a wine from the Gallo portfolio of labels.

Posted from CellarTracker

Wine Tasting Notes: Zierfandler and Rotgipfler, 2003 Weingut Zierer Harald, Niederosterreich, Thermenregion, Austria

2003 Zierer Harald Zierfandler Qualitätswein halbtrocken Sonnenberg – Austria, Niederösterreich, Thermenregion (7/13/2010)
This slightly sweet (off-dry/half-dry) white wine is actually a blend of Zierfandler and Rotgipfler which are both native Austrian grape varietals and are traditionally blended together. The synonym for Zierfandler is Spatrot or Spaetrot which translates to “late red” because this grape turns red right before harvest time. This white blend had nice unique aromas and flavors and was slightly mature by the time it was opened (7 years old).  SIGHT – clear, light butter yellow in color.  AROMAS: right after pouring into the glass, there was a waxy aroma which blew off after just a few minutes.  When the wine opened up after a few minutes, it smelled like a yummy baked cinnamon apple pie topped with pecans and glazed with brown sugar and vanilla. Wow! There were also mineral aromas showing off where it came from, e.g. the terroir.  FLAVORS – confirmed the aromas plus tasted crisp tart green apple and pear, black peppercorns, lime zest, honey.  ALCOHOL – 13 %.

Posted from CellarTracker

Doobie Brothers “Doobie Red” Bottle Signing

On Friday, June 18, 2010, I had the pleasure of meeting a few of the Doobie Brothers during their bottle signing event held at the Safeway store in Alamo, CA where I now work as the Wine Steward.  I was transferred from the San Ramon store last week so it was an extra treat for me to be present during this event. The event took place a few hours prior to their concert at the Sleep Train Pavilion in Concord, CA.  Fans and customers had the opportunity to purchase the “Doobie Red” wine and get it signed by Pat Simmons (vocals/guitar), John McFee (guitar/strings/vocals) and the winemaker and long time band manager, Bruce Cohn of B. R. Cohn Winery of Sonoma, CA. The event turned out to be a huge success and more than 40 cases of wine were sold.  A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this wine will be donated to Veterans and other charitable organizations.  They were extremely gracious to sign the bottles of all who stood in line until past the ending time of the event even though they had to get to Concord for their concert.  Thank you Bruce, Pat and John!

Here is a slideshow of photos I took from the event including photos of my signed bottle:

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Wine Tasting Notes: Kekfrankos, 2007 Pfneiszl Hungarian Vineyards, Sopron, Hungary

2007 Pfneiszl Kékfrankos Újra Együtt – Hungary, Sopron (2/9/2010)
The name of this wine, “Újra Együtt”, means “together again” in English. This wine is a crisp dry light bodied earthy red wine with soft tannins that really blooms with pepper spice as it opens up.   The grape varietal, Kekfrankos, is the Hungarian name for Blaufrankisch of Austria, and Limberger of Germany.   SIGHT – clear, ruby red with medium color depth.   AROMAS/FLAVORS – bright cherry, cranberry, dried fruit, black tea, jalapeno pepper, lavender, savory green herbs, vanilla, light toasty oak, minerals, earth. ALCOHOL – 13.5%.   I learned that this wine was fermented and aged in stainless steel with 30% in old Hungarian barriques.

Posted from CellarTracker

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