2002 Vincent Arroyo Petite Sirah

2008 Treasure Hunter Wines Grenache Emma’s Crush Santa Barbara County

2010 Loring Wine Company Cabernet Sauvignon Russell Family Vineyard

2010 King Estate Pinot Gris Signature Collection




2002 Vincent Arroyo Petite Sirah – $27.00

I’ve been on the Vincent Arroyo mailing list since the 2000 vintage.  I was hooked after our first visit to the winery.  I was fortunate enough to get in on a sale of their library wines so I have had the wines from as far back as the 1995 vintage.  If you ever make it to the Calistoga area, I highly recommend a stop at Vincent Arroyo.  They generally have a couple bottles open but the highlight is the barrel tasting.  You have the opportunity to buy the exact wines you sample from the barrel when they are released in the fall.


Petite Sirah is the “signature” wine from Vincent Arroyo.  This is their standard Napa Valley bottling but they also produce a couple of single vineyard Petites.


Winery history

Walking into the Vincent Arroyo Winery, one gets the sense that it has been here forever.  Is it just the comfortable atmosphere of a big barn full of oak wine barrels that lends to the sense of permanence?  Vincent Arroyo, himself, may feel like he has been here forever, as well.  He left behind a career as a mechanical engineer in the Silicon Valley during the early 70’s and headed to Calistoga, at the northern tip of the Napa Valley.  He felt much more at home close to the land, being able to see and taste the fruits of his labors.


The purchase of the 23 acres of the Greenwood Ranch property in 1974 began the evolution of what is seen today, 85 acres cultivating 9 different wine grape varietals.  Vince has always been a farmer at heart, taking care of the land to produce the best that it can.  He began to transform the Greenwood Ranch by ripping out existing prune trees and unhealthy vines and planting new vineyards.  For many years, he did it all alone, the tractor work, cellar work and a one-man sales force.  Originally he made just a few hundred cases of his favorites, Petite Sirah and Cabernet, selling the majority of the grape tonnage to other Napa wineries.  Today, he produces over 8,000 cases of seven different varietals.


More information is available at: http://www.vincentarroyo.com/

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep ruby red with some brick at the edge.  The comforting nose has tobacco, cedar, baking spices, blackberries, wet earth, and some minerals.  This has medium body, soft to moderate tannins and good acidity.  On the palate the savory notes dominate with the berries adding nice sweetness.  The finish has good length and again leans on the savory and earthy notes with the fruit present but playing a supporting role.  This is drinking nicely but I wouldn’t hold for more than another year or two before the fruit totally disappears.  (91 pts)

2002 Vincent Arroyo Petite Sirah




Barrel Tasting at Vincent Arroyo Winery several years ago.

VA Barrel Tasting




2008 Treasure Hunter Wines Grenache Emma’s Crush Santa Barbara County – $16.90

This was about as easy of a purchase that I ever made.  I love the Grenache grape, the wines coming out of Santa Barbara County, and the value the Treasure Hunter label provides.  I grabbed a few bottles but this will be the first one I open.


Winery history

Each Treasure Hunter wine goes through a pain-staking process of examination from our panel of nine called The De-Vine Nine.  Made up of top sommeliers, winemakers and restaurateurs, they are the best of the best and they pour through hundreds of wines before they are deemed worthy.


Each wine is a small one-time offering and represents an extraordinary opportunity to drink seminal wines of great importance.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a light to medium ruby color.  The very inviting nose has cherries, raspberries, dried herbs, baking spices, black pepper, minerals and earthy underbrush.  This has medium body, moderate to solid tannins and good acidity.  On the palate spicy, peppery cherries and raspberries grab hold, slowly allowing some dried herbs and earthiness slip into focus.  The finish had decent length with a nice mix of the fruit and savory elements.  This could pass for a higher end French Cotes du Rhone.  (91 pts)

2008 Treasure Hunter Wines Grenache Emmas Crush Santa Barbara County




2010 Loring Cabernet Sauvignon Russell Family Vineyard – $39.67

For several years, Brian Loring specialized in fuller body, ripe, California Pinot Noirs.  A few years ago, Brian added Chardonnay to his line up.  In the last couple of years they have further expanded their offerings by including Grenache, Mourvedre, and Cabernet Sauvignon to their stable of wines.


This is the first vintage of a Cabernet Sauvignon labeled wine from the winery.  I bought a few bottles from their mailing list when it was released.  This will be my first bottle opened from that purchase.


Winery history

My name is Brian Loring and my obsession is Pinot Noir.  OK, I’m also pretty crazy about Champagne, but that’s another story.  While in college, I worked at a wine shop in Hollywood (Victor’s), where one of the owners was a Burgundy fanatic.  So, my very first experiences with Pinot Noir were from producers like Domaine Dujac, Henri Jayer, and DRC.  Needless to say, I found subsequent tasting safaris into the domestic Pinot Noir jungle less than satisfying.  It wasn’t until I literally stumbled into Calera (I tripped over a case of their wine in the store room) that I found a California Pinot Noir that I could love.  But it would be quite a while before I found someone else that lived up to the standard that Josh Jensen had established.  I eventually came to understand and enjoy Pinots from Williams Selyem, Chalone, and Sanford, but I really got excited about California Pinot Noir when I met Norm Beko from Cottonwood Canyon at an Orange County Wine Society tasting.


For more information, to buy wine, or to join the mailing list, visit their website.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep ruby color to maroon color.  The very open and inviting nose has cassis, cedar, dried herbs, tobacco, dark bittersweet chocolate, and minerals.  This has medium to full body, moderate to solid tannins, and good acidity.  On the palate cassis and cedar dominate the front end with dried herbs and cherry coming through later.  The finish has nice length with sweet fruit and spicy oak carrying the load.  This could use a bit more complexity and it may come out with some time in the cellar.  That said, it is still a delicious bottle of wine.  (89 pts)

2010 Loring Cabernet Sauvignon Russell Family Vineyard




2010 King Estate Pinot Gris Signature Collection – $12.82

The King Estate Pinot Gris is a warm weather favorite in our house.  This wine usually has enough richness to sip on its own on a warm day but also has enough acidity to easily stand up to some of the lighter fare we eat on a warm Summer evening.  With production in the neighborhood of 100,000 cases, this wine can be found just about everywhere.  If you’ve never tried this wine, give it a shot, you’ll be happy you did.


Winery History

King Estate, celebrating 20 years of Oregon winemaking in 2011, is located southwest of Eugene, Oregon and produces Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and limited amounts of Chardonnay. Founded in 1991 by the King family, King Estate is committed to producing Oregon wines of exceptional quality using organic & sustainable farming methods, meticulous fruit selection, impeccable winemaking practices and judicious blending.


The beautiful estate of 1,033 acres is certified organic and includes 470 acres of organic vineyards, as well as 30 acres of fruits, vegetables, and flowers. The Estate is crowned by the charming, European-style winery, where the winemaking process is also certified organic.


More information available on their website.

My Tasting Note

The wine is a light, golden straw color. The fresh and inviting nose has apples, minerals, citrus zest, pears, white peaches, and orange blossoms. This has light to medium body and crisp acidity. On the palate this is like apples and pears tossed with citrus zest with some minerals sprinkled on top. The mouthwatering finish has good length and closes with a nice spritz of lime and minerals.  (89 pts)

2010 King Estate Pinot Gris Signature Collection




Connect with me

You can follow me on Twitter for more wine info, potential food pairings, and an occasional recipe or two.  Be warned, I’m also a sports fan and there are occasional Pittsburgh Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates tweets.  I attended the University of South Carolina, so during football season, there will also be some Gamecock posts.


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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.



Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.



All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.