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May 2021


Wow! What a year! We have been holding our breath with the hopes this pandemic would soon be over. It is certainly not over but we are experiencing some relief with so many getting vaccinated and California opening back up. I can only assume that many of us will be celebrating Memorial Day by enjoying the company of friends and family. Having a day set aside to celebrate the brave sacrifice of our military with those that we love has a special meaning this year. This will be a day that we honor those who served, those who fought, those who gave so much for our freedom. The freedom to be in our homes (or wherever) and hug someone tighter than you have in over a year. It is a special day indeed. Happy Memorial Day!

Mr. Blanc by Cass Vineyard and Winery, Paso Robles 2020

Cass Winery is a beautiful estate located in Paso Robles. Partners Ted and Steve decided to get the wine business after sipping on too many bottles of Syrah on a golf trip to South Africa. That’s how most wine endeavors start. They purchased 700 acres in Paso, then planted vine and sold grapes. In 2005 their dream of opening a winery and B&B on the property became a reality. They specialize in old world style wines (unusual for Paso) and we love it!

Since Memorial weekend is officially the beginning of grilling season, I thought it only appropriate to choose wine one would enjoy while the grill is heating up and of course with great bbq. Mr. Blanc is the perfect way to start the season. It is a blend of Roussanne, Viognier and Marsanne. Oh, so delightful with notes of poached pear and baked apple, hits of lavender and chamomile and just the right amount of acidity to make you want to take another sip. Only 24 barrels were made of this beauty.

Perfect as a backyard aperitif but even better paired with Mango Shrimp

Founders – Steve Cass and Ted Plemons Winemaker – Sterling Kragten

Retail - $18

Sonya’s Mango Shrimp


3 garlic cloves peeled and diced ½ bunch of cilantro, stems removed, rough chop

1 tsp course salt (sea or kosher) ½ tsp black pepper

1 tbsp (heaping) grain mustard ½ cup olive oil

1 tbsp (heaping) apricot preserves 1 jalapeno pepper diced

1 cup mango (fresh or frozen) cut into small cubes

Mix all ingredients in large bowl and set aside


1 lb shrimp 16/20 6 skewers (if wood, soak in water 30 mins)

Place shrimp in marinade 1 hour before cooking and refrigerate (no more than 2 hours). Preheat BBQ / grill. Skewer shrimp. Place marinade in small saucepan and bring to a boil on stove top, remove from heat and set aside. Cook shrimp on grill 2 minutes on each side. If serving as an appetizer, put marinade in small bowl to use as a dip, serve with shrimp (skewers removed) on a platter. As an entrée, place skewer over rice and drizzle marinade on top.

Carpe Diem Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley 2015

Carpe Diem means “seize the day” or if you look up the definition it will tell you “used to urge someone to make the most of the present time and give little thought to the future”. Boy if a pandemic taught us anything it was to make the most of today and not trouble ourselves with the uncertain future. It is a new day tough; we get to reflect on those that sacrificed for us, make the most of the present and look towards a bright future. AMEN!

93 points Wine & Spirits Magazine

From the team at Domaine Anderson, this is a blend of fruit from nine estate vineyards. After tasting it with our panel, I later tasted it with Darrin Low and Arnaud Weyrich, who worked together on the blend, and who described it as a “New World style; a richer, riper pleasure wine”. Open and racy, with a lacy fragrance of red apples and apple blossoms. It just tastes so much like pinot noir in its light wild-strawberry flavors and tight, slightly stemmy tannins. It’s completely appetite inducing, especially with King salmon roasted with chanterelles.

This will be your go-to wine when grilling chicken or salmon for sure!

Founders – Rouzaud Family Winemaker – Darrin Low

Retail - $30

Anaba Turbine Red, Sonoma 2015

In the 1960s John Thomas Sweazy traveled out west from Chicago to attend Stanford University. In his free time he would be found in the Napa Valley immersing himself in the wine culture. After college he spent 9 months in Europe learning the importance of wine in European culture. He had a successful career in software and raised a beautiful family. When his youngest was a freshman in college he purchased 16 acres in the Carneros district of Sonoma. He fell in love the with the anabatic winds of Carneros that reminded him of the mistral winds of Rhone. Almost 45 years after his time in Europe John’s family has joined him in his lifelong dream to produce exceptional wines and share them with others.

Turbine Red is a Rhone blend made up of 44% Grenache, 28% Syrah, 24% Mourvedre and 4% Petit Sirah. I always say when invited to a backyard party / BBQ and you are not sure what they are serving, bring a Rhone blend. This wine is rustic, peppery with a touch of cheery cola. It with go with burgers, steak, grilled veggies, bbq beans, you name it.

Pair this with good friends and anything on the grill.

Founders – John Sweazy Winemakers – Ross Cobb, Katy Wilson

Retail $35

Hanna “Red Ranch” Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley 2017

In the late 70’s Dr. Hanna and his daughter Christine would make home-made wine from vines that were on their home property in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma. Throughout the next decade they acquire more land and built a winery. Christine is now the president of Hanna Winery as well as the author of Winemaker Cooks. Under her supervision the family winery went from being dependent on buying fruit from others to owning 600 acres (230 planted to vine). They now own vineyards in Russian River, Alexander Valley and Sonoma Valley and are 100% estate grown.

This is not a wine that needs to be cellared for years to show it’s potential. It is drinking beautifully now. The fruit is restrained, and the tannins are ever so present as 2017 was a cool and challenging year in the vineyard. When grilling a Rib Eye steak this Cab is a must.

Pair this beauty with a fatty piece of goodness.

Founder – Dr. Elias S Hanna Winemaker – Jeff Hinchliffe

Retail $40

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