ValleyFogBlog


Waits-Mast Gets Press in Glen Park News by Jennifer
September 10, 2009, 2:46 pm
Filed under: In the news | Tags: , , ,
Glen Park News Piece on Waits-Mast

Glen Park News Piece on Waits-Mast

We’re very neighborhood-oriented and the distinct character of all the different parts of San Francisco is one of the things that Brian and I love about living here.

Even though we’re in a big city, there’s still a small town feel in places like Glen Park village.

So, we were excited to be approached by the neighborhood paper, The Glen Park News, for a story about our winemaking operation. We chatted with Bonnee Waldstein and toured her (and her photographer husband) around the winemaking facility during one of our recent bottling and blending sessions.

Today, the Fall 2009 issue of the Glen Park News hit the street (literally…as you can only read it if you pick up a physical paper copy) and I took a walk to grab some copies for posterity. Stacks of the paper arrived today at various establishments in the village, including the dry cleaners, mailbox store, and Bird & Beckett books. I even noticed a number of merchants absorbed in the paper, including one of the librarians at the Glen Park Library.

Stack-o-Glen Park News

Stack-o-Glen Park News

There’s something very retro and comforting about people in the same village reading the same paper on the same day.

It brought me back to my days of high school journalism when we’d see the entire quad filled with students reading the paper that we’d just released that morning.

Coincidentally, the first people I saw in the village today were the author Bonnee and her husband Michael as they walked out the dry cleaner with their own copies of the News in hand. Glen Park sure feels more like a small town than a big city and that’s one of the reasons why.

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Pinot Days San Francisco 2009 by valleyfog
Pinot Days San Francisco 2009

Pinot Days San Francisco 2009

Thousands of Pinot Noir lovers rallied on an unusually hot day in San Francisco yesterday to try over 400 different Pinot Noirs (yes, apparently that was the number of Pinots being poured) at the Grand Festival Public Tasting at Pinot Days San Francisco 2009.

The majority of these Pinot Noirs were from California, as well as Oregon producers and New World producers from New Zealand and Australia. As a small lot producer pouring for the first time at Pinot Days San Francisco (we poured at Pinot Days Chicago last year), we were the relative unknowns, but saw a steady stream of traffic and made some new friends. That’s the best thing about these tasting events: meeting new people and having free reign to talk about Pinot Noir for four hours straight.

Many people mentioned to us that they were drawn to our table because our label photography stood out to them. We were told that the foggy black and white photography was reminiscent of Ansel Adams and many seemed to get transported to another place just by looking at our label and poster. Most notably, one person said, “I don’t want to drink it, I just want to look at it.” Another said that they were attracted to our table “like a bee to a flower.” Being both intrigued and interested by a label is certainly the first step, so we were really happy to hear that design and imagery is helping to capture the romance of our wines.

Waits-Mast Signage

Waits-Mast Signage

Luckily those at Pinot Days seemed to dig not only the label, but also the wine inside the bottles. We poured two: our Waits-Mast 2006 Hein Vineyard Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley and the  Waits-Mast 2007 La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills. The two wines are very different based on their vintage and appellation, so we knew that it would be a dramatic side-by-side tasting.

We poured the Hein first, and think that it’s really come into its own after two years in the bottle. Tasters seemed to like it too! We heard a lot of comments about the nose, including that it was “very aromatic,” “floral” and “perfumy.” In terms of the taste, we were excited when a non-Pinot lover (although she admitted that she was open enough to go to a 100% pinot noir event) told us, “I don’t normally like Pinot Noir, but I like this.” Others commented that the wine had “more earth, “silky tannins” and bracing acidity. One taster was intrigued by the wine’s complexity, noting that nose led him to expect one thing, but when he tasted the wine he was taken down a “different path,” one that was quite enjoyable.

Waits-Mast 2006 Hein Between Tastes

Waits-Mast 2006 Hein Between Tastes

Others (perhaps a 50/50 split), were taken by the La Encantada’s more powerful “spicy,” “coffee-like,” and “heavy toast” aromas. One person commented, “wow, this is really smoky.” They also spoke of the heavier, fruity taste with intense cherry (one called it a “sour cherry note”) and “sauvage” berry fruit on the palate. This wine inspired the most colorful praise, including remarks like: “It’s meaty,” “It’s really got some character,” and “It’s dirty.” Our former winemaker Scott Shapley said that he detected some nice herbal qualities too.

And then there were quite a few that liked them both (ourselves included). One taster who liked both said that that he’d drink a big glass of the La Encantada on a sunny day and that for the Hein he’d have “lots of friends over….and many glasses.” We were gratified to hear from several people that our wines were their favorites of the day, with one man boldly stating, “These are the best wines here.” Wow.

When the day was over, there were tired feet, broken wine glasses, and wine-stained literature; but hopefully also a few more Waits-Mast fans.



The Moss Room and Hirsch Vineyards by valleyfog
May 4, 2009, 12:03 pm
Filed under: Restaurants, Tasting notes | Tags: ,

0131Keeping up with the San Francisco restaurant scene is not as easy as it used to be before we had a child. But, we try to get out and try as many new places as we can, as well as return to old favorites. So for Jennifer’s birthday last week, we decided to try out the Moss Room at the new Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. Restaurants in parks, if done right (for example, North Pond in Chicago’s Lincoln Park), are a great escape from everyday urban life.

Adding to the appeal the Moss Room for us, was its association with San Francisco chef Loretta Keller of COCO500 (her partner in the restaurants at the Academy of Sciences, Charles Phan of Slanted Door, oversees the AcademyCafe). While finding the front door to the restaurant at 7:30pm on a Friday night was a slight challenge, after some circumnavigation (including a trip on a freight elevator with other lost guests), we descended into the spacious cavern underneath the museum. I won’t go into attempts at architectural descriptions, but suffice it to say, the place is pretty cool. The one thing I noticed about it is that it is not that large of a restaurant and that you feel a certain intimacy within the room, despite the high ceilings and the aquarium lining one side. Jennifer couldn’t stop staring at the illuminated “living wall,” covered with fern, moss, and stone and accented by reflections from the water beneath it.

Okay, so let’s talk food and wine. The first thing that we noticed about the menu, was the wine list. The by-the-glass selections were broken down into 3 categories that might seem unusual: Sustainable, Organic and Biodynamic. We thought this was an interesting way to both emphasize their organic leanings (even when it comes to wine) and also get customers thinking about broader categories of wine beyond just the standard white or red.

We both began with Champagne: the Gonet-Medeville “Brut”, Bisseuil, France, NV for Jennifer and the Roger Pouillon “Brut Rosé”, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, France, NV for me. Both paired very well with our starters. We shared the beer-battered squash blossoms and the Star Route Farms baby beet salad. The Champagnes cut through the richness of the squash dish and complimented the crispness of the beet, chicory and hazelnut combination in the salad. The highlight of the salad was a caramelized goat cheese: a thin layer of goat cheese goodness whimsically placed atop the salad. It doesn’t look like goat cheese, but the taste is undeniable. I believe the refrain from all at our table, including our server, was “you can’t go wrong with melted cheese.”

For the entree, Jennifer enjoyed the Bellwether Farms Ricotta Cavatelli with a poached farm egg, local asparagus, wild mushrooms, and pecorino pepato, while I savored the Liberty Farms duck breast with green garlic risotto, crispy artichokes, and ver jus. Choosing a wine varietal that would sing with both of these dishes was not a challenge: Pinot Noir was the clear choice. Selecting the bottle, though, is not always easy. Part of the fun of going out to dinner is to try different wines. While we could have taken a stab at one of the many Pinot Noirs on the list, we often like to get the guidance of a wine director or sommelier and discover something new. We quickly overlooked the Burgundy page because of the prices (I love Burgundy wines, but they’re too expensive to “try out,” especially with the restaurant markup) and inquired about California Pinots. Failla Sonoma Coast was tempting, as was the Lynmar Russian River (our winemaker Chris Nelson worked there previously) and the Clos Saron, a Pinot Noir from the Sierra Foothills (we’re very intrigued about this wine region). But having read a few articles about David Hirsch and his extraordinary vineyard in the Sonoma Coast (located just three miles from the ocean, at a 1500 feet elevation), I was keen on trying more Hirsch wines when I had the chance. Zack, who was helping us with the wine choices, recommended we try the “Moss Room Blend,” a small production (50 cases) Pinot Noir from Hirsch Vineyard blended by the Moss Room’s beverage director. Apparently only five other restaurants or retailers got the opportunity to make their own blend with Hirsch’s grapes.015

So, given all that information and the fact that Hirsch farms his vineyard in 60 different blocks because of the varying soil characteristics and climate conditions in this wild location along the coast, we had to try it. It was a 2007, but with decanting it didn’t take long to open up. The color was a transparent ruby red, with a touch of crimson. The nose had a nice floral and strawberry high note, with a hint of earth. The palate showed fresh raspberries up front with a sour cherry finish on the back. Good acidity and fine, yet forgiving tannins gave it the right structure to complement our dishes. Between the mushrooms in Jennifer’s dish and the duck in mine, we had a lot of earthy flavors going on, so the wine balanced them out beautifully.

We savored the wine and lingered at our table while other couples came and went. It was impossible to ignore the fantastic dessert menu. Jennifer loved her creme fraiche panna cotta with farmer’s market organic strawberries. Brian had the dark chocolate hazelnut cake and deemed it delicious as well. We were happy to have finally checked out the Moss Room and hope to return soon.



Waits-Mast at Book Event for Passion for Pinot on Saturday by Jennifer

iphone-029As if two tastings in a week wasn’t enough for us, we’re pretty excited to round out our trio of pinot pours by offering samples of our Waits-Mast wine during a book event in San Francisco this Saturday, April 4th to celebrate the publication of Passion for Pinot, a beautifully photographed book focusing entirely on American Pinot Noir.

Author Jordan MacKay and photographer Robert Holmes will be discussing their book and we’ll be pouring our 2007 Pinot Noir from Wentzel Vineyard and our 2007 Pinot Noir from La Encantada Vineyard to set the mood.

Join us at Omnivore Books on Food in San Francisco’s Noe Valley (3885A Cesar Chavez at Church) this Saturday, April 4th at 2pm.



Waits-Mast Pinot Noir at Canyon Market in San Francisco by Jennifer
March 21, 2009, 12:00 pm
Filed under: Events, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,
Waits-Mast Pinot Noir at Canyon Market in San Francisco

Waits-Mast Pinot Noir at Canyon Market in San Francisco

It’s an exciting month for us, as Waits-Mast Pinot Noir has made its first appearance on a retail shelf. Especially thrilling is the fact that our debut is in our favorite neighborhood grocery store in San Francisco:  Canyon Market. And, we’ll be pouring our wines there this Thursday, March 26th from 4:30 to 7:30 pm during a Local Winemakers Tasting along with fellow San Francisco winemaker Jim Bowin of Urban Edge Wines.

The owners of Canyon Market, Richard and Janet Tarlov, couldn’t be nicer and are strongly connected with the tight-knit community of Glen Park. If you’ve never been to this section of San Francisco, it’s worth the trip. A quick BART ride from the bars and trendy eateries of the Mission, Glen Park is a hilly, village-like neighborhood with great food (we’re partial to the pizza at Gialina, yellow curry at Osha Thai Cafe, the shrimp beignets at Chenery Park and the delicious pastries at Destination Baking Company), a beautiful newish library, the hip gift shop Perch, and our favorite store for new and used books (and live music performances), Bird and Beckett.

Canyon Market is a great store and we appreciate their emphasis on local, organic and natural foods and small, but growing shelf space for local winemakers as well. They also host regular wine tasting events–another great reason to visit the store and Glen Park in general.

Word on the street is that Canyon Market is planning on devoting a shelf in their wine section to locally-produced (as in very local, like San Francisco) wines. Currently, though, our bottles of 2007 Wentzel Vineyard Pinot Noir are keeping good company on the shelves with some nice Burgundies, including a Gevrey-Chambertin. So support your local businesses by visiting Canyon Market, bringing home one of our wines and keeping it good company until the last drop.

Come by and see us on Thursday!



Champagne, Avocado, Cucumbers and Hummus at Internos Wine Cafe by Jennifer
March 20, 2009, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Restaurants, Wine bars | Tags: , , , , ,
Internos Wine Cafe

Internos Wine Cafe

Last weekend we were searching for a quick bite before heading off to finally see Slumdog Millionaire. Brian figured a wine bar would be a great bet and dived into the fun task of searching for a wine bar near The Vogue Theater in San Francisco (one of the few remaining single-screen movie houses). Although it wasn’t walking distance on a rainy Sunday night, the brand-new (opened maybe 3 weeks ago) Internos Wine Cafe (3240 Geary, between Parker and Spruce) was close enough for our purposes.

We popped in and were warmly greeted by owner Adnan, who suggested that we grab seats at the bar. After ordering some wine (Gosset Grande Reserve Champagne for Jennifer and 2006 Cuvaison Pinot Noir from Carneros for Brian) we took Adnan’s advice and ordered the avocado, hummus and cucumbers bruschetta. Wow. Killer combo and so tasty with the bubbly. We also got the fresh mozzarella, diced cherry tomatoes and fresh basil bruschetta, which was equally yummy.010

After finishing up our bruschetta, we continued grazing, consuming both a cheese plate (brie, blue, aged Parmesan and a lick-the-bowl clean delicious house-made honey ricotta) and a cured meats plate (hot coppa, dry salami, and prosciutto). It was all super satisfying and the perfect amount of pre-movie food.

We ordered a bit more wine and Adnan was very helpful in leading Jennifer through some tastings before she decided on a glass of the 2006 JL Colombo Viognier (Rhone, France). Brian stuck with Cuvaison, choosing a glass of their 2005 Mount Veeder Cabernet (Napa Valley) for his second taste of the night.

With wine bars cropping up in neighborhoods all over San Francisco, it was fun to discover Internos Wine Cafe in an unexpected pocket on Geary. From what we hear, it’s already become a popular destination for nearby residents. Not a surprise. It’s a super friendly, casual (but chic) wine bar with a nice wine list and delicious light fare. The only thing missing was dessert and we hear that’s coming soon.