What makes a good wine? A visit to the famed Napa Castello di Amorosa

October 10, 2014
Hosted by Roger and Donna Beery

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Episode Description

Join Roger and Donna in a discussion surrounding, what makes a wine good? We will also share tips that will make you next journey through a wine list much less intimidating. Learn a few simple guidelines to help you sound like a seasoned wine lover in any circumstance. We will be joined by Dario Sattui of V. Sattui Winery and Castello di Amorosa with “Winemaker of the Year” Brooks Painter. Dario and Brooks will take us on an insider’s tour of the amazing Castello di Amorosa in Napa Valley. This authentically-styled, 13th century, Tuscan castle and winery is a sight to behold, offering a unique visitor experience. Under Brooks’s direction, the castle has become known for their award winning Italian style wines.

Bacchus and Beery Wine Radio

Bacchus and Beery Wine Radio

Archives Available on VoiceAmerica Variety Channel

Bacchus and Beery Wine Radio explores the wondrous world of wine, wine travel, winemakers and wine education. Wine should not be a complex and snobbish affair. Share a glass of wine with us as we expose the mystic of wine in a fun and approachable way.

Too busy to pack up for a wine country holiday? Join us for the best in wine country travel. With Roger and Donna Beery you’ll meet and be able to question some of America’s foremost small family vintners along with the characters that inhabit wine country. No question is too silly for those who love wine. Also, we’ll have a chance to chat with people who so treasured wine, they left promising careers all for an hourly intern winery job. Many own small wineries today.

Dreaming of starting your own wine label or winery? Roger and Donna, their family and friends are doing just that. Stay updated as they follow their wine-stained dream in Sonoma, California. Will the reality be as great as the dream? Tune in and find out.

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Roger and Donna Beery

Roger and Donna Beery

Roger Beery, a self-appointed Wine Evangelist, has spent the last 35 years enchanted with all things wine. He sees wine as the perfect blend of art, agriculture and passion. Roger’s passion for the grape has become a family affair. Some years ago while their son was studying to become a winemaker, Roger and Donna started writing the popular wine blog, Bacchus and Beery. Bacchus is the Roman God of Wine. Roger considers the Roman god his partner in wine adventures.

Roger and Donna love to share their passion for wine, wine travel, wine tasting and yes, just drinking wine. That said, his real passion is for small, family and artisan wines. They have had the opportunity to meet and interview some of America’s top winemakers and wine professionals which he has shared on Bacchus and Beery Wine Blog. These relationships have helped Roger and Donna develop a deep understanding of wine and winemaking as seen through both the eyes of the enthusiast and the artist. Roger also samples and reviews over 300 wines each year.

Sometimes it is not enough to simply write about and enjoy wine. To that end Roger, his family and friends launch their own wine label in 2014, hand-crafted in Healdsburg, California in Sonoma County.

Bacchus and Beery Wine Blog has been recognized by Webflakes.com in Europe and Snooth.com in the U.S. as one of the top wine blogs.

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Episode Directory

January 2015

December 2014

November 2014

Nicole Bacigalupi

Nicole was born and raised in Healdsburg, CA. She grew up on the ranch that now three generations of her family has farmed. After graduating high school she attended San Diego State receiving a Business degree with an emphasis in Marketing. At 23 years old she gained real world experience by heading out on the road and building accounts with retail outlets and restaurants all over California. In 2008 she received her Introductory and Certified level Sommelier Certifications from the Court of Sommeliers. In 2009 she joined Silver Oak Cellars working with them over the course of the next 4 years from everything to tasting room sales, compliance, packaging and shipping. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Russian River Valley Winegrowers and their Millennial Council and continues to stay active with the association. Nicole has been full time with her family winery and vineyard for the past 3 years; she is an integral part of the business assisting with DTC sales, shipping, events, marketing, harvest and managing contracts for her family’s 120 acres of vineyard. Nicole has a twin sister, Katey who also works in the family business. Nicole, her 18 month old daughter and husband live in Healdsburg. View Guest page

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Alan Baker

In 2005, Alan Baker quit his award-winning career in public radio, sold his home, loaded everything into a truck and moved from Minnesota to California. It was a well-developed passion for wine, the wine industry, its visionaries and that seemingly magical process of transforming grapes into great wine that led to this radical life change.

Upon arriving in Northern California, Alan immediately sought work in the wine industry. Taking positions at Unti Vineyards and Peterson Winery he immersed himself in all aspects of the trade, from vineyard and cellar work to sales and service.

Alan’s next stop in his wine education took him to the start-up urban winery, Crushpad, in San Francisco where he launch his first commercial brand Cellar Rat Cellars. It was there that he met Serena Lourie, who shared an equal interest to his in creating a life around wine.

In 2009 Alan, along with Serena, left Crushpad, moved to Healdsburg in the heart of the Sonoma County wine country and set about founding Cartograph. Today, Alan spends his days in the vineyards and in the cellar, overseeing that magical process of turning grapes into wine. View Guest page

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Kurt Beitler



During the 2012 Aspen Food and Wine Festival we had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with Sonoma Coast winemaker Kurt Beitler of Bohème Wines. I was excited to meet the energetic and passionate young winemaker; if for no other reason than he is a grandson of one of the winemakers most influential in my early wine development, Charlie Wagner, co-founder of Caymus Vineyards. We waited for Kurt outside an Aspen restaurant, to find him wheeling up through the festival crowd on his mountain bike with a great smile on his face and even better wines in hand.

While Kurt learned much of his craft working with his uncle Chuck Wagner (co-founder of Caymus) and cousins at Caymus Vineyards, he ventured out a few years ago to create hand-crafted Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and Chardonnay under his own label Bohème Wines.

Kurt’s small-lot wines are exceptional examples of terrior-driven single-vineyard Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Bohème Wines are available from their website and tasting room in Occidental, CA. For those who support small, family and artisan wineries…Bohème is a wine find that will definitely excite your palate and enhance your cellar. View Guest page

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James and Mark Blanchard



Blanchard Family Wines is more than a tale of two brothers with a desire to start a business together. It is the story of how wine can bring people together, shatter barriers, and can ignite passions that make dreams come true. Blanchard Family Wines is a company formed to express two brother’s vision of the uniting qualities of great wine shared between friends and family.

Although this is a first generation wine venture, the roots of the company are grounded in a family concept. The founders, Mark and James Blanchard, follow the tradition of two Blanchard brothers that can be traced back to at least the last four generations in the family. Only separated by two years in age, they played the same sports, had the same interests, and the younger Mark was often seen following James around in emulation. In fact, they ran so closely as children that everyone referred to them simply as the Blanchard Boys.

They both had seen how wine had created togetherness and camaraderie between their friends, their family, and each other, and they shared this story with anyone that would listen. They knew that someday the time would be right and they would launch their venture.

During one of James’ visits to Sonoma County for Mark’s 30th birthday, the Blanchard Boys were relaxing for the evening with a cigar and a glass of wine, James turned to Mark and said that enough was enough, the right time was now. It was there that the foundations of Blanchard Family Wines were born. View Guest page

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Jean-Charles Boisset

Jean-Charles Boisset was born into the world of wine in the village of Vougeot, Burgundy, France. He grew up above the cellars and within view of the centuries-old vineyards of Château du Clos Vougeot, the birthplace of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In 2003 Jean-Charles brought DeLoach Vineyards, in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley, into the family. He immediately recognized the similarities to Burgundy: each boast a confluence of river, mountains, and soil that is perfect for growing world-class Pinot Noir. He began a mission, inspired by his Burgundian heritage to produce terroir- driven wines with the same commitment to terroir and organic and Biodynamic farming he had instituted in Burgundy. I In 2009 Jean-Charles’ acquired Raymond Vineyards in the Napa Valley. Under his vision, Raymond has become a leading producer of luxury fine wines, implemented organic and Biodynamic farming and earned “Winery of the Year 2011” honors from Wine Enthusiast magazine. Jean-Charles’ dream of championing California wine history became a reality when he acquired Buena Vista Winery, California’s first premium winery, founded in 1857, View Guest page

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Cindy Cosco



Four generations ago my family embarked on a journey from Italy to America. Here they blended their heritage into their new surroundings, keeping the Italian winemaking traditions alive.

In 2004, I left a 15 year Law Enforcement career to pursue that passion and family tradition of winemaking. You will find my wines handcrafted with passion, rooted in my heritage, and made as part of my continual journey. I love watching each new year unfold as each harvest brings forth it's beauty that ends up in your glass.

In 2004 I began working part time for Bevmo in Albany, CA. Hal would come in on Saturday's to conduct store wine tastings. He also worked for Chateau St Jean and was able to get me a temp job for the harvest 2004. I was hired on full time after harvest as a wine chemist in the lab. I was able to take enology classes at Napa Valley College and soon was promoted to Wine Chemist II.

In 2007, I decided it was time to start making my own wine. I had heard about this custom crush facility in San Francisco called Crushpad. I attended their open house and while talking to the head winemaker as to what I wanted to do I was soon hired on as the Lab Manager. During my time with Crushpad I added Pinot Grigio, a Rosé , and Pinot Noir to the Passaggio brand.

Crushpad moved to Napa in 2010 and I was promoted to Winemaker. I was responsible for all the white wine making and lab as well. In 2011, Crushpad moved to Sonoma. I decided that it was time to dedicate myself to building my Passaggio brand, so in 2012, I moved my production to DogPatch Wine Works in San Francisco.

And now, I am very proud to present the opening of the Passaggio Wines Tasting Room in Sonoma where you can relax in a beautiful space and enjoy awesome wines while meeting some wonderful people. This has been an awesome journey to say the least...I can't wait to see what happens next... View Guest page

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Scot Covington

In 2005, when the Trione family decided to build their legacy winery on their Home Ranch in Alexander Valley, they searched for a winemaker with design, construction and wine production experience – a tall order that Scot Covington filled. The family appointed him winemaker in 2005. “The Triones basically gave me a blank piece of paper and said ‘Design your winery’.” Scot envisioned a straightforward facility, customized to accommodate small lots and hands-on winemaking. Scot brought years of relevant experience to the project. After graduating from California State University, Fresno in 1990 with a B. S. degree in Agricultural Science, Enology, he enhanced his knowledge working on three continents — in North America here in Sonoma County, South Africa and Australia. Living a winemaker’s dream, Scot has his choice of the finest grapes grown on the Trione family’s vineyards in the Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Sonoma Coast AVAs. Scot’s goal: make wines that express the highest level of quality across all varieties produced from estate grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Zinfandel. View Guest page

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Count Haraszthy of Buena Vista Wines



Local Sonoma actor George Weber appears as The Count of Buena Vista Agoston Haraszthy

Self proclaimed "The Count of Buena Vista," Agoston Haraszthy de Mokesa was a vivacious pioneer whose love affair with grape-growing started in his homeland of Hungary. Born into a wealthy, land-owning family, The Count grew up amidst famed vineyards and orchards that had been in his family for centuries.

In 1863 Buena Vista became The Count's viniculture laboratory. He constantly innovated and experimented with blends, techniques and viticultural practices, including dry-farming, hillside planting, tightly-spaced vines, and techniques to limit yields in order to increase concentration and flavor. He constantly innovated and experimented with blends, techniques and viticultural practices, including dry-farming, hillside planting, tightly-spaced vines, and techniques to limit yields in order to increase concentration and flavor.

He constructed the first gravity-flow winery in California and in the surrounding hills, he excavated Sonoma's first caves for aging and storing wine with the aide of Chinese laborers, whose virtues he extolled. He is also credited with being the first to experiment with Redwood barrels for aging and fermenting, an adaptation of traditional European oak barrels that employed the resources of the local forests. View Guest page

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Sharon Harris



Sharon’s love of wine started when she spent her junior year of college abroad, at the Université de Bordeaux. She was taken under the wing of the wife of the University’s president, which in short is how she found herself, at age 20, being taken on a personal tour of Chateau Haut Brion, producer of one of the greatest wines in the world. After graduating from college Sharon returned to Bordeaux and lived with the Boutarics, the famed cheese mongers at La Marche des Grands Hommes, while she worked at The St. James, under Jean-Marie Amat, the owner and chef. Some years later, after a career in publishing and technology, with a young family in tow, Sharon applied and was accepted to the prestigious DUAD program (the Diplome Universitaire d’Aptitude a la Degustation des Vins) offered through the Université de Bordeaux’s Oenology department. The DUAD is an intensive yearlong program that takes four years of oenology and condenses it into one compacted year. Sharon returned to the States and moved to Napa Valley. Today Sharon is one of only two women working as vintners in the Napa Valley who hold the DUAD degree. Sharon keeps her links to Bordeaux very present. As she works on RARECAT wines, her passion extends to empowering women through wine and supporting women in the wine industry. Several years ago she formed an unusual ‘trade’ group called Wine Entre Femmes, comprised of female vintners from Napa and Bordeaux. In 2012 she established A Woman's Palate, a company that celebrates wines by women for women. “I am lucky; I am living my passion,” Sharon says. “Creating wine is so much more than cultivating and bottling great fruit. It really is a passion, a passion that drives us to create something rare and exquisite, something elusive, but something that once discovered remains with you forever. The true importance of wine is not only the beauty one finds in the glass but the conversations and friendships one develops while sharing something special.” View Guest page

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Jean Hoefliger

Jean Hoefliger was born and raised in Switzerland. His initial experience took him from Switzerland to Bordeaux, and South Africa, making wine at the esteemed estates of Chateau Lynch-Bages, Chateau Carbonnieux, and Meerlust. Completing a winemaking and viticulture degree at the Swiss federal school of Changins, Jean came to California where he spent five years as winemaker for Newton Vineyard before joining Alpha Omega. Jean’s passion, knowledge, innate ability and scientific training puts him in a unique position to take the best grapes of Napa Valley and transform them into wines worthy of world class standing. View Guest page

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John Jordan



The Jordan family permanently moved from Colorado to California in 1979 to live on the winery estate. John attended grade school in Healdsburg and spent many nights and weekends fishing at the winery’s lake. An interest in airplanes arrived during preparatory school, and John earned his Private Pilot Certificate in Sonoma County at age 17. Before leaving home for college, John attained his Commercial Pilot Certificate with Instrument and Multi-Engine Ratings, and type ratings in Gulfstream and Citation aircraft.

2005, John stepped away from his thriving law practice to oversee day-to-day operations of the family winery. John moved back to the property in 2006, then built a home overlooking the lake where he grew up fishing. With a commitment to preserving the foundation on which his parents successfully built the Jordan brand–elegant, balanced wines and exceptional hospitality—John has utilized his business acumen and philosophy to re-energize the winery. He has built upon Jordan’s brand equity by fostering a culture of excellence where passionate, knowledgeable people are encouraged to perfect their respective crafts every day.

From energy-efficient roofs, solar arrays and water recycling to fruit sourcing, extended bottle aging, soil-mapping studies, iPad integration and the overall hospitality experience, John has elevated the winery’s relentless commitment to quality in every aspect of the business.

He also created the John Jordan Foundation in 2012—a private, charitable foundation focused on income stability and educational attainment, which funds projects in elementary schools for literacy and technology, as well as micro-loan programs for low-income families to launch small businesses. View Guest page

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Adam Lee



Siduri started as the shared dream of two Texas wine geeks, Adam Lee and his wife, Dianna who wanted nothing more than to move to California and make killer Pinot Noir from the best vineyards.

Today that dream has become a reality… and then some. With the help of partner growers and our small, but tireless, winery crew, we produce more than 20 limited production Pinot Noirs, representing one of the most extensive Pinot offerings of any California winery.

Next time your travels take you to the wine country, we invite you to visit our “warehouse winery” for a tour and tasting of our Siduri and Novy Family Wines. View Guest page

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Mark Oldman



Passionate about helping wine enthusiasts jostle the jaded, slay the snooty, and drink bravely, Mark Oldman (@MarkOldman) is one of the country’s leading wine personalities. He is the wine expert for Pottery Barn and wine columnist for the Food Network. His signature style was best summed up by Bon Appètit magazine as “winespeak without the geek” and by Publishers Weekly as "the ideal mix of wine connoisseur, showman, and everyday dude.” He has twice won the Georges Duboeuf Best Wine Book of the Year Award.

Mark is a lead judge in the PBS television series The Winemakers and is a regular on Martha Stewart Radio on Sirius Satellite Radio. In addition to his Food Network column, Mark has written for several publications, including Food & Wine, Departures, Travel & Leisure, and has chosen all of the wine picks for the 17-million annual readers of Everyday with Rachael Ray.

Mark’s latest book, Oldman’s Brave New World of Wine (W. W. Norton), is the ultimate antidote for those craving new taste sensations. It plots a course to pleasure, value, and adventure beyond wine’s usual suspects, focusing on that holy grail of wine lovers: insider wines of moderate cost and maximum appeal. View Guest page

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Brooks Painter

Brooks Painter has been a winemaker for over 30 years. He has experience making ultra-premium varietal wines from throughout the many different grape-growing regions of California. His current position is Director of Winemaking for Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, California. His previous position was Winemaking Operations Manager at Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville, California, and Brooks was formerly with Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Leeward Winery and Felton-Empire Vineyards. Brooks was born in San Francisco and raised in Northern California. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry and Biology from University of California, Santa Cruz in 1980, during which time he discovered his interest and passion about wine. His work has been published in The American Journal of Viticulture and Enology, Biochemistry, Practical Winery and Wines & Vines. Brooks previously taught classes on wine and grape growing for the California Academy of Sciences, Adult and Family Education, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California. Brooks and his wife Beth have lived in Napa for the past fifteen years. Their two children, Miles and Emily, are presently attending Occidental College in Eagle Rock, California. They are actively involved in the local Napa Valley community and charitable organizations; they participate in long-range public planning issues for local city and county government View Guest page

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Suzanne Phifer Pavitt



City Boy Meets Country Girl

This is the story of city boy meets country girl. What you may not know is that every country girl that has ever successfully worked her way out of the country life has worked exponentially harder than any city boy could imagine. What you probably already know is that every idealistic city boy has absolutely no clue just how challenging country life can be.

Sounded like a great idea to Shane, who grew up in the town of postage stamp lots, Manhattan Beach, CA. Move to the country, breathe some fresh air and sloooow down. Scared the H-E-double-hockey-sticks out of Suzanne. Move away from the city (you gotta be kidding me!), hour plus drive from any reasonable shopping, holy smokes she was closer than that growing up in rural Ringgold, Georgia.



Date Night

Every big decision we ever made together was on our once a week “Date Night”. The should-I-take-that-job decision happened on Date Night. The let’s-make-babies decision happened on Date Night. And the decision to put an offer on what would become the Phifer Pavitt property happened on Date Night. From our perspective, every decision we made together on Date Night gave us results that exceeded our expectations. So it should come as no surprise that the decision to make Phifer Pavitt Date Night Wine happened on Date Night. We fully believe that the enjoyment of the night led us to making the best decision. So this is our offer to you…cherish those moments together, because life doesn’t come with a pause button. Date Night is not just our wine, it’s a way of life. View Guest page

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Dario Sattui

Dario’s great grandfather Vittorio Sattui, an Italian immigrant, founded V. Sattui Winery in 1885 in San Francisco. As Vittorio lived to be 94 years old, Dario got to know him and was fascinated by his stories and photos of the old winery, above which the Vittorio Sattui family continued to live even after Prohibition closed the old V. Sattui Winery. As a child, Dario would play among the barrels and tanks in the underground cellars while dreaming of reviving V. Sattui Winery when he grew up. In 1972, Sattui returned to the U.S. with the intent of re-establishing his great grandfather’s original V. Sattui winery which had been dormant for more than 50 years. With $8,000 and a novel approach to the wine business he re-opened V. Sattui winery in St. Helena and turned a profit in the first year of operation. Armed with his vault of medieval architectural renderings and another passionate dream, Sattui purchased a 171 acre vineyard property in Calistoga in 1993 and began construction of Castello di Amorosa Winery in 1994. Clearly, the success of V.Sattui winery built the 121,000 square foot, 12th century style, authentic Tuscan castle winery. View Guest page

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Stu Smith



Brothers Stuart and Charles Smith are the vineyard managers and winemakers of Smith-Madrone Winery. The name for the winery came as a tribute to the Smith brothers who pursued their dream and to the Madrone trees which distinguish the property.

In May 1971, with a partnership of family and friends, Stuart Smith bought the ‘terroir’ which today is Smith-Madrone Vineyards & winery. He was 22 years old and had just received his B.A. in Economics from UC Berkeley and was taking classes towards his Master’s in Viticulture at UC Davis. In trying to find land to plant vineyard in the Napa Valley, through a family friend he explored a forest on the remotest and highest part of Spring Mountain and discovered that the land had been a vineyard in the 1880s and in fact had been part of the wagon trail route between Napa and Santa Rosa. Today he is respected for his expertise and leadership as a mountain vineyardist.

Smith-Madrone Vineyards & Winery is one of the few entirely estate-vineyard mountain wineries in the Napa Valley. Smith-Madrone’s grapes are grown at the top of Spring Mountain (1,200 - 1,900-foot elevation with slopes up to 35%), west of St. Helena in the Napa Valley.

Smith-Madrone, the winery has been featured in four new books published this spring:

• The Riesling Story: Best White Wine on Earth, by Berlin-based author Stuart Pigott (204 pages, published by Stewart Tabori & Chang.

• The Winemaker’s Hand: Conversations on Talent, Technique and Terroir, by New York City-based Natalie Berkowitz (314 pages, published by Columbia University Press).

• Back Lane Wineries of Napa Valley, a second edition released by Tilar Mazzeo, who lives on the East Coast and in California (256 pages, Ten Speed Press).

• Wines of California, by Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jensen, who are both based in New York (592 pages, published by Sterling Epicure). View Guest page

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