Waits-Mast Holiday Specials: Wine and Chocolates and Shipping, Oh My! by Jennifer

As we clean up the remaining dishes (and wine glasses) from Thanksgiving, our thoughts now turn toward the winter holidays, which are now just around the corner. As a little incentive to get you started on your holiday shopping, we’re offering a couple of specials:

Waits-Mast Pinot Noir and Recchiuti Chocolates for the Holidays

For a limited time only we are offering a Holiday gift pack of 2007 Waits-Mast La Encantada Pinot Noir, featuring a 4-piece varietal box from San Francisco’s renowned boutique chocolatier Recchiuti.

Celebrate the holidays by sending a wine gift-set to your foodie friends. The gift set includes one bottle of La Encantada Pinot Noir and one 4-piece box of chocolates, all for $49 + tax/shipping. You’ll find the gift pack listed in our webstore through the holidays.

To lighten the load on your holiday expenses, we’re offering two different specials on shipping: For 50% off shipping for any orders of 11 bottles or less, enter HALF in the coupon code box and hit “submit.” For free ground shipping on a case (12 bottles) or more, enter CASE for the code. The special applies to any products in our store including the Holiday Chocolate Gift Pack. The shipping special runs from November 30, 2009 through December 31, 2009.

As a reminder, if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area you can save shipping costs by picking up your wine. Just select “local pickup” during the purchase process. You can then pick up the wine at the Crushpad shipping and logistics center in San Francisco. Call  (415) 558-9181 to schedule your pickup.

“Bangin’ Juice” at Pinot Days Chicago 2009 by Jennifer
Pinot Days Chicago 2009

Pinot Days Chicago 2009

After a busy harvest at the winery focused on sorting, crushing and pressing, we were ready to get out and pour our wines. It reminds us of why we do this – to see the smiles on people’s faces and enjoy the festive atmosphere at our table when people try our wine.

So this weekend, we traveled out for the 3rd annual Pinot Days Chicago to launch new wines and meet up with old friends. It was our second time pouring at the event, and once again it served up lots of happy Chicagoans and colorful compliments.

The event began with a tasting just for the wine, food and hospitality trade from 11 am to 1pm. It was a nice way to meet potential customers from wine shops, restaurants, bars and distributors.

But, since it was relatively mellow, it also was a great warm-up for the big public event and an opportunity for us to get out from behind our table to catch up with friends and try some wines before things got too busy.

The Calm Before the Storm

The Calm Before the Storm

The throngs headed in for the public tasting at 1pm and that’s when the fun really began. We met a bunch of really interesting folks and even saw some fans of our wine who we’d first met at the 2008 event.

We poured our 2007 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from La Encantada Vineyard (Sta. Rita Hills) and also debuted our 2008 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Hein Vineyard (Anderson Valley). We were particularly curious to hear feedback about our latest release as this was the first time that we’d poured it for the masses.

The feedback that we heard about our wines was beyond our expectations and we were delighted to have a bunch of return visitors to our table throughout the day. Like last year, our number one fan Luke ushered tasters over to us, rhapsodizing about our wines.  Thanks, Luke!

Grab a Glass

Grab a Glass

Despite all of the kind words and happy tasters, you never know what people will think and remember about the event after the buzz of the tasting fades. As we feverishly searched Twitter after the event for any mention of us, we couldn’t believe our eyes when we spotted that a food blogger from Chicago Food Whores deemed our 2007 La Encantada her top choice for the entire event.

And she wasn’t the only one enamored with the 2007 La Encantada. Another taster said that it was one of his three favorites at Pinot Days Chicago and a professed non-Pinot Noir lover was also a fan. People said that “it does a lot in your mouth” and “is a symphony on my palate.” We heard taste descriptions mentioning “spice” and “pepper” and a number of people mentioned that they struggled to find words to describe the nose. One guy detected a fungus smell, adding, “I could smell that all day.” Another said it was a “Burgundian nose.”

The Scene at Waits-Mast

The Scene at Waits-Mast

In terms of our new baby, the 2008 Pinot Noir from Hein Vineyard; we got equally glowing reports.

Someone pronounced that it was “by far my favorite” of Pinot Days Chicago. Many mentioned its earthy qualities, saying that “it explodes earth,” is “woody,” “dirty earth,” and “has a lot of pine.” Some detected a hint of cinnamon, calling it “spicy” with a “nice finish.” Like the La Encantada, we also heard that it “smells Burgundian.” Some Anderson Valley fans noted some similarities to Navarro’s Deep End Blend and also mentioned that they were pleased that we didn’t “overdo the oak” and allowed the Anderson Valley fruit to shine. We acknowledged that we were pouring a wine young and one taster respectfully characterized it as “young and rambunctious.”

But, perhaps Brian’s favorite compliment of the day (in regards to our wines overall) was “bangin’ juice!” Right on, Rich! Kind of reminds us of a trip to Napa when a young guy behind the bar proclaimed, “the chard’s the bomb!”

Beyond the love fest (we do have egos after all), we really enjoyed meeting a variety of folks and talking about our wines. More so than last year, we seemed to learn about a number of cool ventures related to wine. Andrew Stiles of Reel Pour is a Cinema Sommelier and Jennifer was intrigued to hear about his series of podcasts focused on pairing wines with films. Additionally, we got a visit from The Broke Wino‘s Samuel Klingberg. His website focuses on wine recommendations for young people and he seemed to have a really fresh, approachable take on wine.

At the end of the day we left Pinot Days with purple hands, a ball-bearing-less pour spout, wine-stained clothing, and a mailing list full of new names. Oh, and a lot of smiles – both ours and everyone else’s. All in all, it was a satisfying day in Chicago.

Fall Release: 2008 Hein Vineyard Pinot Noir by valleyfog

Introducing the 2008 Waits Mast Hein Vineyard Pinot Noir

In honor of our trip out to Chicago to pour our wines at Pinot Days Chicago, we are launching our fall release wine, the 2008 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Hein Vineyard in Anderson Valley. The Hein Family Vineyard is located in the “deep end” of this valley in Mendocino County, about 3 hours North of San Francisco. In the deep end, the cooling influence of the fog extends flavor development and results in a balance of fruit and earth. A co-ferment of Dijon 115 and Pommard clones, this Pinot exhibits some similar characteristics of our 2007 Wentzel Vineyard from Anderson Valley (which has recently sold out).

The aroma is earthy, mushroom-y and has a smoky/woodsy note. On the palate, you’ll find a tart cherry and cranberry that finishes smooth and juicy. An acidic core keeps it bright and structured. All in all, it’s what we crave from Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. Good acidity and subtle tannins provide structure and backbone to make this an enjoyable, food-friendly wine.

Availability: the 2008 Hein Vineyard Pinot Noir will be available on our webstore starting on Friday, November 13. For SF locals, we’ll be getting the Hein on the shelves of our favorite local market, Canyon Market, next week.


Clones: 115/Pommard
Alcohol content: 14.0% by volume
Fruit: 100% whole berry (no stems)
Yeast: RC212
Barrel aging: 11 months in French oak, 33% new (Francois Freres, MT)
Bottled: August, 2009
Production: 25 cases
Drink now through 2014
Suggested Retail Price: $44/bottle (750ml)
Release date: November, 2009

New York Magazine Tour of Mendocino County: More Tips by valleyfog


Wentzel Vineyard in Philo, CA, Anderson Valley

New York Magazine‘s Adam Graham posted a great online tour of Mendocino County on Thursday and mentioned our ValleyFogBlog. Offering a more interesting, rugged alternative to Napa, the tour points out some great out-of-the-way places to visit throughout the county. Jennifer and I have been visiting Mendocino County for many years, our first romantic weekend getaway being up on the Mendocino coast. It was these travels and the many stops at Anderson Valley wineries that got us so enchanted with Pinot Noir and this region.

In addition to the excellent recommendations in the article, we also have some other personal faves in Mendocino County:

Commanding views at The Other Place, above Anderson Valley

Commanding views at The Other Place, above Anderson Valley

Lodging: Anderson Valley Inn in Philo (roomy, good rates), Boonville Hotel (great bungalows in addition the main rooms) and the Other Place (vacation rental with spectacular views, kitchen, living room, etc.). For larger houses or cottages to rent, check out Shoreline Vacation Rentals and other vacation rental services listed on

Restaurants: The Boonville Hotel and McCallum House are definitely our two favorites, but for Anderson Valley visitors, Lauren’s Cafe in Boonville and Libby’s Mexican restaurant in Philo provide tasty alternatives. Along the coast from Elk to Fort Bragg, there are a number of other great restaurants – too many to mention here. For breakfast in Ft. Bragg, though, Eggheads, with full-on Wizard of Oz motif, is a must.

Wineries: Again, the article lists some of our favorites, but here are a few more in Anderson Valley: Elke, Baxter, Phillips Hill, Claudia Springs, Roederer Estate, Handley and Navarro. Any that aren’t mentioned here are also well worth visiting and exploring. Go to the Anderson Valley Winegrower’s site for a full listing of wineries in the Valley and those, like Waits-Mast, Roessler and others, that make wine from the region. Just up the road is Hopland, where there are a number of good wineries, including Milano Family Winery.

Mendo Bot Gardens

Serene coastal path at the Mendocino Botanical Gardens

Oddball Day: the article mentions some out-of-the way places in Mendocino County that visitors may not find in the guidebooks. When we’re not pouring at the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival or poking around the village of Mendocino, we like to drive further up the coast. Our companion along the way is community radio station KZYX out of Philo. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch the call-in swap show Trading Time – it is truly a slice of Mendocino, with locals unloading old beat-up trucks and other quirky items. We then may stop at the Mendocino Botanical Gardens and take a stroll out to the coast on a path that winds through coastal redwoods. We’ll then wind our way up to Fort Bragg and stop in at some of our favorite vintage shops, including the Ark Thrift Store (benefits the local humane society and often has pets roaming the place) and Mendocino Vintage which is full of great old books, records and kitchenware. If we’re in the mood for a little more wine tasting, we may go further north to one of the most scenic wineries around, Pacific Star Winery. Sheep roam the coastal property and the tasting room has great views of the dramatic North Coast.

Makes us want to hop in the car and take another visit! Enjoy Mendocino County and the Anderson Valley and if you want to try our wines from Anderson Valley, drop us a line or go to our website at

Wineries in Texas? Yes! Discovering Times Ten Cellars in Dallas by Jennifer

x10 Cellars in Dallas, TexasWhenever we travel out of town we’re on the lookout for wine bars and wineries, especially when visiting places not typically regarded as wine destinations.

Last week we found ourselves in Dallas, Texas with a few hours to kill on a Sunday afternoon and our first instinct was to track down a wine bar for a quick bite to eat. Serendipitously, the one wine bar that was open at 3pm on a Sunday also happened to be a functioning winery.

Times Ten Cellars operates a gorgeous tasting room out of a former post office location from the 1940s. It’s located in a residential neighborhood and its customers primarily draw from the surrounding area. In fact, the afternoon of our visit they were setting up for an event in their tasting room, as one of their regular customers was going to use the beautiful setting for their wedding.

Before the festivities began, we sampled some wines from both California and Texas and got the chance to tour x10 Cellars’ onsite winery. Design-wise, it was an amazing space; probably the most glamorous winery we’d ever seen. Chandeliers hung from the ceiling of the barrel room and from the tasting room one could look through large windows into the clearly labeled laboratory, barrel room, and tank room. Barrel Room at x10

At the tasting bar one can sample wines crafted by x10 Cellars, which at this stage primarily consists of wines made in Texas using grapes imported from California. As one of only four wineries in Dallas, x10 also makes wine from their own 7 acre vineyard.

Located in Alpine, Texas, Cathedral Mountain Vineyards was planted in 2004 with primarily Spanish and Rhone varietals, including Grenache, Tempranillo, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Mouvedre, and Petit Sirah and had its first crop in 2006. The vineyard was chosen for its high desert location at 4800 feet and for its volcanic soil.

We began our tasting with a sample of the only sparkling wine from Texas (and the only wine we tried that was not made by x10). With its winery located in Lubbock, Texas, La Diosa‘s sparkling wine is crafted with Chenin Blanc grapes and was a lovely start to our tasting as it was crisp and refreshing, with hints of apple.

In terms of the x10 wines, we sampled a wide range of reds and whites; all with different labels utilizing a chair motif. According to our host, “chairs, like wine, have a unique personality,” so specific chair imagery was chosen to identify each wine. For example, the 2008 Lake County (CA) Rose had a drawing of a french bistro chair on the label; whereas a 2007 Sonoma Pinot Noir featured the picture of a vintage arm chair.


Tasting the 2008 Times Ten Cellars Rose in Dallas

Everything we tried was quite tasty, from the yellow cake batter-scented 2008 Lake County Rose made from Syrah grapes, to the chocolate-kissed 2005 Petit Sirah from five old vine vineyards in Napa (only 4 cases left) that we couldn’t leave without.

We also really loved their 2007 Pinot Noir from Sonoma and a number of their other reds.

We particularly enjoyed the first wine crafted from their very own vineyard in Texas. The 2007 Cathedral Mountain Vineyard Vino de Tierra Alta Texas Red Wine is a blend of 5 grapes: mainly tempranillo, syrah and grenache with a splash of cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. It was a wonderful wine and a nice reminder of what wine is all about – exploration and discovery, the sweetest discovery being the unexpected and the seemingly uncharted territory.

With x10’s first full harvest this year, it will be interesting to explore their full line up of Texas wines in the years to come.