In less than 10 years since it opened, Breathless Wines has already won multiple awards, including the San Francisco Wine Competition, American Fine Wine Competition, Wine Enthusiast, among others. This time, it is awarded by LuxeSF, a luxury marketing organization, as their “Rising Wine Star Winery of The Year”, after a tough competition with 74 other nominations across 5 award categories, selected by a 14-person panel of respected industry veterans.
Have you tried Breathless Wines yet? They are currently offering a special duo Blanc De Noir and Brut Rose pack at $60 including shipping this week until September 18. Better yet, you could visit their winery in downtown Healdsburg and try a flight of 4 wines for just $16 in their outdoor patio, or join their Friday Bubbly Happy Hour, or try a Breakfast at Breathless Breton Crepe paired with their sparkling on September 27. For more options, check this page out!
Hailing from a pioneer winemaking family in Napa, Paula Kornell is a Napa native who has seen the region’s rise from idyllic countryside to a world-renowned premium wine destination. Paula has acquired decades of experience throughout the wine industry, having held management positions at Mondavi, Phelps and other wineries. She has been a member of the Board of Napa Valley Vintners and served a term as its President, and has also chaired the famous Napa Wine Auction several times.
Meeting Paula Kornell and Tasting Her Very First Vintage
Now, Paula is carrying on her family legacy, having launched her own line of methode champenoise (traditional Champagne method) wines last October with Vintage Wine Estates. I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet Paula and experience her great hospitality over a cordial wine lunch at her eclectic St. Helena abode and learn about the many colorful stories behind her brand.
Kornell Family Legacy
The Kornell family history is interwoven with the Wine Country, starting with Paula’s father, Napa wine pioneer Hanns Kornell. Originally from Germany, Kornell studied winemaking at Geisenheim Enological Institute in the 1930s and applied that training working for French and Italian wineries. After a narrow escape from Dachau Concentration Camp, he arrived in America with $2 in his pocket. Hanns worked in wineries until he was able to purchase the historic Larkmead Estate, one of California’s oldest wineries, which was established by Lillian Hitchcock Coit in 1884.
Paula’s Wine Beginnings
After college, Paula’s adventurous spirit led her to a brief period working in vineyards around Europe and studying winemaking at Geisenheim, as did her father. Later, she did a stint selling Burgundy wines for the famous New York wine merchant Sherry-Lehmann. Although she enjoyed filling orders for celebrities on Madison Ave, her father eventually persuaded her to fly back to California on a one-way, first class ticket to work for Kornell Cellars.
The Difference Between Sparkling Wine and Champagne
While sharing her Brut, an elegant blend of Central Californian Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Paula noted how American consumers were unaccustomed to the “sparkling wine” definition initially. “Champagne” was perceived as better, but consumers increasingly understand why the change in nomenclature was made. International laws restrict the Champagne label to wines made only in this French appellation, even though many premium sparkling wines are made elsewhere using the same method. Her family has long used this traditional Champagne winemaking method in making their California wines.
Paula’s Blanc De Noir
Paula also opened a bottle of her inaugural 2017 Blanc De Noir, made with 98% Pinot Noir from the classic Mitsuko’s Vineyard in the Los Carneros area, ideally situated to catch breezes from San Pablo Bay. Remarkable was how it tasted like a more aged Champagne: complex, with toasty notes and a crisp hint of zesty citrus. It was an absolutely delightful pairing with her homemade galette made with fresh vegetables from her yard.
How the Wine Started
Paula’s own wine brand came into being when she was approached by long-time family friend and CEO of Vintage Wine Estates, Pat Roney, who wanted to boost their premium boutique wine portfolio with great sparkling wines. The winemaker behind Paula’s wine is Robin Ankhurst, who has worked harvests from Burgundy and Languedoc to Marlborough and Barossa and now directs winemaking for several esteemed Napa wineries. I noticed the beautifully etched Riedel glasses with her logo, which she explained was the Men of Canaan – the same logo used in years past by Hanns Kornell Champagne, denoting Israelites carrying grapes to the “Promised Land,” which for her family was California.
Staying Positive and Resilient
It’s not only Paula’s great wines and the history that stand out, but also her resilient and jovial spirit. To be sure, lockdowns caused by the current pandemic will pose challenges for wineries needing to sell excess inventory, but she sees pockets of opportunity for those who build relationships and continue to get involved. Despite the current pandemic, Paula has managed to progress with building partnerships through Zoom calls.
This summer is time for delicious wine and safely distanced live music! The exciting Robert Hall At Home Sessions we announced earlier continues with an incredible line-up of talented independent musicians for you and your community to watch from home, and enjoy authentic Paso Robles wine for the occasion. Next Wednesday September 2, the fourth virtual concert will feature contemporary Outlaw singer songwriter Elizabeth Cook, known for her appearances on David Letterman, “hip hard-country delivery, comedic gifts and magnetic personality”.
Watch From Home
You can watch the performance live, and get an exclusive behind-the-curtains recording from the artist after the show. Simply go to Robert Hall Winery’s Facebook page, @roberthallwinery. Previous shows and exclusive behind the scenes artist interviews can still be viewed at RobertHallWinery.com/At-Home-Sessions.
Paso Robles Wine + Special Discount
In addition, Robert Hall is releasing some 2019 vintage wines for the first time, which you can buy directly online. You can now get 20% off using the at home sessions code and free shipping if you live in valid states, including California.
About Robert Hall Winery
Founded in 1999 by the late entrepreneur Robert Hall, Robert Hall Winery showcases the best Paso Robles has to offer. The winery has three estate vineyards in the Geneseo and Estrella Districts, totaling 136 planted acres of fruit. In addition to growing Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and Syrah, the winery also sources grapes across the Paso Robles AVA. This provides Head Winemaker Don Brady with a broad range of soils and micro-climates that, together, create optimal fruit for the beautiful wines that capture the essence of Paso Robles.
What better way to start the Jewish New Year than sharing great wines with loved ones? Traditionally, wine or grape juice is an important part of Kiddush, which means “sanctification” in Hebrew, a ceremony where a blessing is recited over wine or grape juice.
Royal Wine Corp is bringing a fresh selection of kosher wines from California, Israel, France and South Africa just in time for Rosh Hashanah, which falls on September 18th this year.
Organic Kosher Wine with Noble History
If you are sensitive to sulfites and want some quality organic kosher wine, you could try Herzog Variation Be-leaf Cabernet Sauvignon, a full-bodied organic Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles with no added sulfites. Herzog Winery was one of the first in America to make kosher wines, with over 9 generations of winemaking. Founded by Rabbi Menachem Herzog, Herzog wines were so sought after by Austrian Emperor Franz Josef that he dubbed then-owner Phillip Herzog a Baron.
Surprise Yourself With Wild Yeast Wines!
Have you tried wines fermented with “wild” yeast that originate from the vineyards? Winemaker and Master of Wine candidate Ido Lewinsohn, known for experimenting with wild yeast and whole cluster pressing, has made Segal Wild Fermentation Chardonnay and Segal Wild Fermentation Cabernet Sauvignon from Gailelee, Israel resulting in some unique wines representative of their authentic terroir.
French Winemaking in the Judean Hills
High fashion designer turned Winemaker David Suissa has made high-end kosher wines in Bordeaux before starting his winery Ephod in Israel. You can now try kosher red wines from vineyards in Judean Hills, Galil Elyone and Ramat Hagolan: Ebiatar, Keter, and Regesh, made with classic Bordeaux grapes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.
Kosher Champagne Back By Popular Demand
Established in 1808, Drappier in Champagne, France is known for their quality organic vineyards. After being out of stock for almost 15 months, three of their kosher champagnes are now back on the shelves, just in time for the upcoming Jewish New Year celebrations.
Chill with Canned South African Rose!
For a fun twist, you can try J. Folk from South Africa, a fruity but dry and refreshing rosé that comes in packs of four 250ml cans.
About Royal Wine/Kedem
Founded in 1848, Royal Wine Corp. has been owned and operated in the United States by the Herzog family, whose winemaking roots go back eight generations to its origin in Czechoslovakia.
Today, Royal Wine’s portfolio of domestic and international wines range from traditional wine producing regions of France, Italy and Spain, as well as Israel, New Zealand and Argentina.
Additionally, Royal Wine Corp.’s spirit and liqueur portfolio offers some of the most sought-after scotches, bourbons, tequilas and vodkas as well as hard to find specialty items such as flavored brandies and liqueurs.
The company owns and operates the Kedem Winery in upstate New York, as well as Herzog Wine Cellars in Oxnard, California, a state-of-the-art-facility featuring guided wine tours, a fully staffed modern tasting room, gift shop and catering facilities. Additionally, the winery houses the award-winning restaurant Tierra Sur, serving the finest, Mediterranean-inspired, contemporary Californian Cuisine.
Have you seen a champagne or sparkling wine bottle being broken open with a saber? I have not, until I was very lucky to have a chance to try it at Breathless Wines, known for their traditional method (the original method for making Champagne) sparkling wine in Healdsburg when Dr. Thach and our group visited!
What is Sabering?
A saber is a type of sword with a curved blade associated with light cavalry in the early modern and Napoleonic periods. The technique of breaking open a champagne bottle using a saber, called “sabrage”, was popularized after the French Revolution, when Napoleon’s cavalries celebrated their victory by using sabers to open champagne bottles.
For someone who has never held a saber, let alone cut a bottle open with one, it can be quite intimidating. Luckily, Breathless has very careful protocols guided by their friendly experts. I was led by Sharon, one of the Founding Sisters of Breathless Wines. The “Saberer” first puts on protective heavy duty gloves and safety goggles. Because of Covid-19, an extra pair of disposable gloves are worn before the heavy duty gloves, and of course I was masked up like everyone else. Also, using a cold bottle makes it easier to break.
Having the correct posture helps to wield power. To start, Sharon demonstrated how to stand sideways, almost like an archer, and hold the body (where the label sits) using my non-dominant hand. Of course, the bottle must be pointed far away from anyone – everyone needed to stand back!
Learning The Technique
Next, Sharon demonstrated the actual technique of holding the saber, and how to strike the bottle. With the saber in hand, the blade sits at an angle to the bottle, and I took a few turns running the blade along the bottle towards the lip, which is the breakage point.
Finally, the wire cage was taken off as an extra step to make it easier. Shortly after the demo, I was ready. My hand went faster than I was mentally prepared and POP! Went the top. I did not apply much force, and it felt a lot smoother than expected. Indeed, I read later that it is simply the force applied at a fragile point of the bottle – with already much internal pressure – that breaks it. Some wine was lost, but I held it up in victory, still shocked at what happened just seconds ago. I was relieved no one was hurt!
Serving the Wine
What good is opening a wine if you can’t enjoy it? After sabering, make sure to check for shards before serving. We all got to enjoy a fresh glass afterwards!
Breathless Wines awards every Saberer with a “Certificate of Completion”, and the cork sealed with their signature Breathless label. I am really grateful for such an unforgettable experience, and hope to lose less wine next time!
Pritchard Hill winery, BRAND Napa Valley is running a giveback program, #FromBRANDwithLove for customers and Covid-19 first responders around the nation. Sharing the gift of wine, the “BRAND Care Package” is essentially a buy-1-get-1 for customers to spread the love with a distinguished bottle of wine and send another to a first responder as a token of appreciation for their selfless service.
BRAND Care Package
With the purchase of a $150 “BRAND Care Package”, worth $300 in value, customers receive a bottle of the prestigious 2016 BRAND Napa Valley BRIO Red Blend—an estate produced Bordeaux-style Red Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot—for the customer and for a first responder of their choice, who will receive an identical bottle at no cost to them. Customers can purchase the “BRAND Care Package” online, nominate their first responder, include a personalized note, provide shipping information.
On June 9th, Napa’s oldest winery, Charles Krug reopened its St. Helena estate adhering to local guidelines, after being closed since March 16th in compliance with California’s statewide Shelter-in-Place order. The reopening comes with a variety of new protocols that go above and beyond county and state recommendations to ensure health and safety for everyone.
A Pleasant Physically-Distanced Wine Experience
5 new WiFi-enabled cabanas within the winery’s Picnic Grounds will be unveiled with the reopening. Although the cabanas were already under construction before the Pandemic, they are particularly timely to facilitate efficient physically-distanced wine experiences. The winery’s diverse culinary offerings will still be available on a modified schedule: artisan pizzas from Charles Krug’s wood-fired Mugnaini oven will be available Friday through Sunday, while local culinary partner, Tre Posti, will offer both cheese and charcuterie plates, as well as grab-and-go items.
Additional Winery Safety Measures
On top of meeting Napa County’s official safety guidelines including face masks worn by employees, extra hygiene protocol and more, Charles Krug’s tasting room consulted with Winery Safety Officer AJ Perez to implement stricter standards:
Comprehensive “Deep Clean” disinfecting, misting of general and targeted touchpoints in all areas of the winery before Grand Opening
Appointment-only booking to limit occupancy within winery
Outdoor-only tasting, with wine delivered in pre-poured glasses. Wine service will be guided by a masked Wine Ambassador from a safe distance
All tables, furnishings, and flat surfaces will be sanitized after each guest visit
A concierge will manage customer flow and monitor physical distancing while guests are waiting to be seated, entering or leaving the property
Touch-free transactions, with goods being placed directly in the guest’s car or carried out by customers as they prefer
Water will be served in single-serve recyclable containers
Restrooms are cleaned every 30-60 minutes
About Charles Krug: In 1943, Italian immigrants Cesare and Rosa Mondavi purchased the historic Charles Krug property, the oldest winery in the Napa Valley and longest-running tasting room in California. The brand was built on a foundation of family values, hard work and a European winemaking tradition; it remains a family-owned winery today, producing estate-driven, top of the line Napa Valley wines. The wineries are under the direction of Peter Mondavi Jr. and Marc Mondavi, who steward the family business passed to them by their father, legendary Napa Valley wine icon Peter Mondavi Sr. The family is now proudly welcoming members of the fourth generation to the business, continuing a legacy started over 70 years ago and setting a foundation for generations to come.
(Contributed by J. Onodera) My interest in wine is like a game of tetris, as the “blocks” slowly fell in place over time. It all started during spring break of my junior high school year, when I toured different colleges in the Northwest, one of them being Sonoma State University. As our tour group walked to the Wine Spectator Learning Center on campus, our guide mentioned that the university was the only one in California offering wine degrees in business topics, rather than the traditional Viticulture and Enology degrees. The idea of becoming a player in wine business sparked a sense of motivation in me, and that was how I laid the first row of blocks in the game of Wine Tetris.
Second Tetris Row – Learning about Wine through People
Laying the foundation of the second tetris row of wine had to do with interactions with other people.Having lived in different parts of California, I have many groups of friends from various demographics, which is also reflected in their drinking habits, ranging from drinking cheap beers to sipping pricier wines. Often at social gatherings with friends, we would open a bottle of wine and pair it with different foods, and then discuss the unique taste combinations that emerged. Through such experiences, I learned how to communicate and connect with different communities, and grow my wine knowledge.
Third Tetris Row – An Unforgettable European Trip
After my sophomore year at Sonoma State University, I decided to splurge on a 3-week cultural and food tour through Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome. I’ll never forget that first day in Madrid, where I was introduced to Sangria – a glass jar filled with ice, red wine, green apples, oranges, and blackberries. Enjoying the ice-cold sangria with a spicy dish of paella was an incredible experience. As I continued my tour across Europe, the wine and food encounters continued to blow my mind, and I fell more enchanted with the world of wine.
Now as I pursue my degree in Wine Business, I’m really enjoying the chance to explore, develop my palette, and appreciation the diversity of wine. The tetris blocks are coming together faster now, and all of these experiences have made me more confident in my decision to study wine.
Contributed by Sophia Fish – Cheers to a great first Wine Sense Club meeting for Fall 2015! We were very excited to welcome Maxwell Burns and our very own VP of Operations Matt Lopez from Kenwood Vineyards to come speak with us about their fabulous winery.
Kenwood Vineyards – Historic & Sustainable Cellar
Kenwood Vineyards was established in 1970 formerly the Pagani Brothers Winery, a historic cellar dating back to 1906. Kenwood Vineyards is devoted to producing premium wines truly representative of Sonoma County’s world class vineyards.
Kenwood Vineyards is committed to making the finest wines and treating the earth with the utmost respect. They are doing this by following sustainable growing practices . They stand by this philosophy and make every effort to reduce waste, recycle and lower their energy consumption.
Tasting of 4 Magnificent Kenwood Wines
2014 Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc: The first is a Sauvignon Blanc with fruit sourced from vineyards located in five different appellations in Sonoma County. Aromas of white nectarine, honeydew melon and lemongrass combine with citrus and tropical flavors that give a crisp and refreshing finish.
2012 Sonoma County Reserve Merlot: Next we had a 2012 Reserve Merlot from Sonoma County. The production of this reserve wine was limited to less than six percent of Kenwood Vineyards’ Merlot production. This wine is full of enticing fruit aromas of fig, plum and black cherry join with spicy notes of nutmeg.
2012 Jack London Vineyard Zinfandel: We felt incredibly lucky to taste the 2012 Zinfandel from Kenwood’s Jack London Vineyard. It was interesting to learn that over 30 years, Kenwood Vineyards has exclusively crafted wine from the single vineyards of Jack London’s historic ranch. The flavors from these vineyards emanate fruity aromas of raspberry and fig mixed with subtle notes of vanilla and pepper.
2010 Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon: Last but certainly not least, we were inspired by Kenwood’s 2010 Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon. The art featured on every bottle incorporates fine wine to make each new Artist Series release an event and every vintage a prime collectible. The Artist Series originally highlighted works by contemporary artists, then 1987 vintage broke with tradition by featuring a painting from Joan Miro. In the years since, the Artist Series has presented works from other important artists including Pablo Picasso, Henry Miller, Alexander Calder and Vincent van Gogh. This wine is full of fragrant fruit aromas of cassis and black cherry joined with spicy notes of cinnamon.
Favorite Wines of the Evening:
At the conclusion of the tasting, and before prices were revealed, we voted on our favorite wines of the evening. The winners were:
The Sonoma State University (SSU) WineSense Club proudly announces the members of the 2015/2016 Executive Board. In addition, they have developed a very exciting line-up of wineries and organizations who will be visiting campus to conduct educational wine tastings throughout the semester.
2015/2016 Executive Board for SSU Wine Sense
President: Rachel Minor
Vice President: Taylor Hood
Treasurer: Justin Stushek
VP of Marketing: Jingmei Su
VP of Operations & Culinary Experiences: Matt Lopez
Director of Membership: Christian Gutierrez
Director of Campus Outreach: Sophia Fish
Director of Campus Marketing: Jamie Huerta
Director of Meetings: Brooke Bartolome
Director of Volunteers and Fundraising: Itze Pema-Andrade
SSU Wine Sense Mission
The mission of the SSU Wine Sense Club is to create a responsible, fun and educational environment for all levels of wine enthusiasts to further expand their knowledge and appreciation for the wonderful world of wine. We are dedicated to provide students the opportunity to experience and enjoy events that showcase the wine industry and help students connect with the industry and their leaders.
Fall 2015 Wine Sense Schedule
Tastings are open to SSU students over the age of 21. Meetings will be held in the Bennett Valley Room of the Student Union beginning at 7pm. Membership fees for the semester are $30, payable at the door. Fees are pro-rated for students who join later in the semester. Each session includes an educational briefing and responsible wine tastings accompanied by appetizers. ID’s are checked at the door for each meeting.
Sept 17 – Kenwood Winery
Oct. 1 – Somm Select
Oct. 15 – Rare Cat Wine
Oct. 29 – La Crema & Murphy Goode
Nov. 5 – TBD
Nov. 19 – Dewey Wines
Dec. 3 – TBD
Wineries interested in providing an educational tasting are encouraged to contact SSU Wine Sense Board Members at WinesenseSSU@gmail.com