Nov 052014
Read Part 6 of  Starting J. Cage Cellars –  A Family Winery Series

Back at the end of September, we finished barreling our wines so they can mature and rest comfortably. Donna and I then headed back to Denver. A Halloween party invitation and the wonderful Pinot on the River event in Healdsburg were enough excuse to bolt from Denver for a long weekend back in Sonoma to taste our three J. Cage Cellars wines.

J. Cage Cellars

Conch getting J. Cage Cellars Pinot Samples

I recall watching Conch and Whitney when they were young kids participating in sporting events and wondering if they might develop into world-class athletes. Of course nearly every parent does when their child kicks that first soccer goal or in our case glided down the ski racing slopes of Breckenridge. I was sure Conch was destined for the PGA when he got a hole-in-one at age 13…. But alas… it didn’t happen. A parent can dream…and probably should.

The wines that we struggled so hard to get right are, like those soccer kids, growing up and it was a pleasure to taste them after a month of maturity. Conch samples barrels almost weekly and keeps me apprised. The whites are nice and crisp and should be ready for the summer patio season. But it’s the five barrels of Pinot Noir that I’m emotionally focused upon.

Early on in the weekend, Conch pulled samples of all the wines. Each barrel was tasted separately for its own unique characteristics and to make sure all was right. A lot can still go wrong. While we were pleased, we made some adjustments to the white wines to lower the acidity, still keeping them crisp, refreshing and food friendly. All five barrels of Pinot Noir were rockin’ along just fine.

On our last day, Conch and I returned to the winery to blend samples from all five Pinot barrels. We have gently used French oak barrels from three different coopers. Though not enough time has passed for the oak to fully impact the wines, each barrel already had its own personality. We blended the barrels into two sample bottles and headed home. They sat in the fridge for a couple of hours to allow the flavors to meld a bit.

It was a beautiful Sonoma fall night and the house filled with a few guests. As the evening rolled along I poured the bottles into a decanter then into a glass. Alone, out to the backyard I strolled to taste and contemplate. As I sat around the fire pit, I took a deep sniff and was pleasantly surprised at the complexity of the nose, lots of dark cherry, raspberry and spice aromas. Then for the taste…It was young, bright and delicious. The blend was better than any of the single barrels. Like a child with promise, the wine will grow up and the French oak still needs to add the background notes to the concerto.

Gustavo Brambila in Bottle Shock

Gustavo Brambila in Bottle Shock

At that moment a flood of thoughts came forth. First was the scene in the movie Bottle Shock when Gustavo Brambilia proudly shared his wine with Mr. Garcia on the front porch of the small home while classical music played from the ’60’s era turntable. The second was of times Conch and Whitney excelled in their sports of choice and I wondered if they were future athletes.

Enjoying our 2014 J. Cage Cellars, Nunes Vineyard Pinot Noir, was like watching a child make that first goal…such promise…such excitement…but still a long way to go. When we contracted for our Pinot grapes with Fred and Wendy Nunes, Fred said, “Roger, I’ll deliver your perfect hand selected grapes…Your job is not to screw them up.”’ Actually Fred was a bit more colorful in his verb choice. Fred did his job and it looks like we are doing ours. I can’t wait to show off the kids. But we will both have to wait. Patience Grasshopper.

Please read my other posts in this J. Cage Cellars – Starting a Family Winery Series

The Last Days of Winemaker Summer Camp
Learning to be a Winemaker – My Head is Spinning!
Fatherhood – The First Grapes Arrive
Awaiting Our First Harvest – When Will Her Water Break?
Starting A Family Winery – Living the Wine Stained Dream
Oct 222014
 The Italian  Wine Club from Giordano Wines Offers Great Values for Wine Explorers

Bacchus and beery wine radioOver the past few episodes on Bacchus and Beery Wine Radio, Donna and I have been talking about getting bold and adventurous with your wine choices. That may mean trying a new variety, label or trying wines from a different country or region.

Wines from Europe can be confusing. Wines from the rest of the world are normally labeled by the grape variety and region such as Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley; simple enough. Wines from most of Europe are labeled by their region, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Chianti and many others. The reason is that Europe has much stricter regulations regarding what grapes are allowed to grow in each region. Therefore a red Burgundy will be a most likely be Pinot Noir and a white Burgundy, Chardonnay. Bordeaux will normally be a red blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot (depending on the sub-region) and to a lesser extent, other varieties such as Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Chianti is predominately Sangiovese.

One way of stepping out and trying new wines is to join a wine club that ships to your door. One of the best value clubs for those who want to explore the wines of Italy is The Italian Wine Club offered by Giordano Wines. The Italian Wine Club allows you to customize your shipments. Do you want just red wines…white wines or a mix? The offers often come with bonus wines, tasting notes and a binder. Giordano also runs special offers that include additional wines and wine accessories.

These Giordano wines are award winners at a value price, often under $10 per bottle. Over the past two years they have racked up a number of Gold and Silver Medals at the Denver International Wine Festival, including their 2014 Gold Medal for Chianti.

So go out and explore the world of wines and check out the great deals offered by Giordano and The Italian Wine Club. Giordano Wines are available for shipment directly in: CA, DC, FL, ID, IL, LA, MN, MO, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, OR, SC, TN, TX, VA, WI, WY

Italian Wine Club Giordano Wines


Giordano Wines provides Bacchus and Beery Wine Blog with sample wines and other compensation.

Oct 132014
2014 Denver International Wine Festival Discount Tickets
November 19 to 21, 2014

Named Top 10 Can’t Miss Fall Wine Festivals in America by Fodor’s!
The 10th Annual Denver International Wine Festival is the premier International wine and food festival in the Rocky Mountains!


2014 Denver International Wine Festival Discount Tickets


Join us November 19 to 21, 2014, at the Denver International Wine Festival for the most delicious ever, International celebration of wine & cuisine! Meet celebrity TV chef and author Sara Moulton our honorary host of Pairsine. Sara will also conduct cooking demonstrations at the Grand Tasting.

This year’s venue is the beautiful Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield, Colorado. Don’t drink and drive! Get a room at our special festival rate of $99 per night!

Wine Country International® magazine presents:

The 10th Annual Denver International Wine Festival, the premier wine and food festival in the Rocky Mountains, showcasing more than 400 international wines from 18 countries! This incredible three-day festival also features selected premium spirits, sake and a Colorado Craft Beer Garden. Attendees enjoy a multitude of delectable food and wine tastings, fresh produce, gourmet food products, wine accessories, fine art, and exhibits by luxury travel destinations.

Main Events:

Pairsine Chefs Fine Food and Wine Pairing Competition
Thursday November 20, 2014, 6:00 to 9:00pm

Denver International Wine Festival – Interlocken Resort, Broomfield, CO

10 Chefs/Restaurants/ 20 Gourmet Food Pairings with More than 40 highly awarded wines
Honorary Host: Celebrity TV Chef & Author Sara Moulton

Pairsine Chef’s Food and Wine Pairing Competition (Thursday 11/20) pairs Gold Medal wines from The Denver International Wine Competition with inventive cuisine prepared by some of America’s most creative chefs.
Tickets: $100 (Includes logo festival wine glass)

Discount Tickets – Pay Only $80 (Order by 11/15 with code: bacchusb20) This offer is valid through 11/15/14



Grand Tasting Of International Wines
Friday November 21, 2014- (Times vary by ticket type)
Denver International Wine Festival – Omni Interlocken Resort, Grand Ballroom, Broomfield, CO

Showcasing Colorado’s largest Grand Tasting of wines, beers and spirits!
Celebrity Chef Sara Moulton will conduct cooking demonstrations and samples of fabulous duck dishes at the Maple Leaf Farms booth!

All ticket holders receive 1-European made festival logo wine glass ($15 value).

The Grand Tasting of International Wines and Food (Friday 11/21) is the region’s largest tasting event for consumers, media and trade. More than 60 wineries, breweries and distilleries will showcase their products.

VIP ticket holders gain two-hour early access, exclusive entrance to the VIP lounge with chef station, rare beverages and complimentary admission to educational seminars and guided tastings.

Grand Tasting VIP Tickets: 4-9pm
The VIP tasting tickets include entry into the VIP lounge, where more food samplings and a chef station (2 hours) are providing hot & cold appetizers.
Additional VIP benefits:
•Access to VIP Lounge with premium wines and chefs stations
•Complimentary access to educational seminars (subject to availability)
•VIP Gift bag at conclusion of the event

VIP Tickets: $150 (Limited to 150)
Discount Tickets - Pay Only $120 (Order by 11/15 with code: bacchusb20) This offer is valid through 11/15/14


2014 DIWF Charity of Choice:
The 2014 Denver International Wine Festival will benefit Share Our Strength
. Share Our Strength®, a national nonprofit, is ending childhood hunger in America by connecting children with the nutritious food they need to lead 
healthy, active lives.

Official 2014 Host Hotel:

The Omni Interlocken Resort
500 Interlocken Blvd
Broomfield, CO 80021

Special $99 festival room rates available! Call 303 438-6600

Oct 082014
Read Part 5 of our Starting J. Cage Cellars – A Family Winery Series


IMG_2276It was the last few days of our harvest and crush for J. Cage Cellars. The Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier that Donna and I had watched over so closely during the last weeks of ripening were fully fermented and safely tucked into their barrels, resting until they are ready to share. Our Pinot Noir from Nunes Vineyard in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County was nearly finished and ready for press. I, for the first time during this experience, was feeling down and a bit sad. But it took a winemaker friend to describe the emotion accurately.

The last two weeks had been filled with work in the winery. Both Donna and I found we were missing our time in the vineyard. Early morning, in the solitude of vines, grapes and sunshine, sometimes hidden by a thin layer of coastal fog was a time we learned to cherish. We would walk amongst the rows taking grape samples, checking for quality, sugar levels and overall ripeness. Different areas of the vineyard and different clones of the same grape variety mature at different rates, making choices challenging. We strived to get our first picks as close to perfect as possible, in order to create the hand-crafted wines we had been imagining for our own, J. Cage Cellars. Continue reading »

Sep 212014
Read Part 4 of our Starting J. Cage Cellars –  A Family Winery Series

Much to my naive surprise, learning to be a winemaker (for our new J. Cage Cellars label) and seeking winemaking advice has turned out to be much like my first days of fatherhood and  seeking child rearing advice. Even the most artful winemakers hold deeply seeded conflicting opinions. As my friend Kurt Beitler of Bohème Wines told me, “Roger…What do you get when two winemakers are in a room together?…Four opinions.”

Learning to be a Winemaker I recall from my early days as a father asking different parents I respected about child rearing philosophies and techniques. As I found with winemaking, there was an inconsistency of heartfelt answers. Let the child bond by sleeping in bed with you. The child should learn independence by sleeping in another room. Let the child set their own schedule. If your child sets their own schedule, you’ll have an undisciplined child and you’ll get no rest…It’s all enough to leave your head spinning like the child, Regan, in the 1973 film The Exorcist.

Even though I had spent quite a bit of time reading about the art of winemaking, when the time came for decision making, I relied on a core group of respected winemaker friends who were happy to offer solid advice. I had assumed incorrectly, that since they produced wines in a similar style, their techniques would be nearly the same and I would have a simple plan to follow. I could not have been more wrong. Not only are many of their opinions deeply held, I was told that if I followed another’s advice…it could end badly. Like Regan…my head was and is still, though to a much lesser extent, spinning. Continue reading »