Cal-Irish — No Green Wines Here

With St. Patrick’s Day approaching, I looked around for some wines with an “Erin go bragh” bent and, surprisingly, found an interesting and representative selection that you don’t have to go to Ireland to  taste.

To immerse yourself in Irish wine culture, you should go to the When Irish Wines are Smiling tasting event Sunday at the Rutherford Grange in Napa Valley. Advance tickets are $30 at the door, $25 in advance from Brown Paper Tickets.

Four-leaved clover

Four-leaf clover, for luck

The tasting event, organized by Small Lots, Big Wines, features a dozen  or so wineries from Napa, Sonoma and the Sierra foothills. There will also be Irish-themed entertainment and food, including cheeses imported from the old country.

“Cal-Irish” wineries pouring at the event include:

Brown Estate — A zinfandel specialist from Chiles Valley owned by the Brown family, whose ancestry is Jamaican. I’m not sure where the Irish connection fits in, but they really know how to make good zin and have a good time at Brown Estate. Join the wine club and you could get invited to the winery’s annual Kentucky Derby Party!

Dillon Vineyards — A very small producer of very good chardonnay, grown just south of Yountville.

Fitzpatrick Winery — A winery in the Fairplay appellation (near Placerville) producing a dozen or so red and white wines, mostly priced between $10 and $20 a bottle. Take a look at my recent blog about Fair Play wines.

Harrington Wines — A producer of fine pinot noir wines, sourced from top vineyards across the state.

Irish Family Vineyards — Family owned winery in Calaveras County that produces several cute Irish-named wines — Blarney Red, Blarney White, Kilkenny Red, and Pog Mo Thoin, which means “kiss my a** in Gaelic” — along with the more recognizable petite sirah, chenin blanc, viognier, tempranillo and barbera. Prices generally run $10-$30 per bottle.

Kelley and Young Wines — A new label produced by a husband-and-wife team whose family owns the Robert Young Estate and also farms about 320 acres of vineyards in the Alexander Valley.

McGrail Vineyards — Small Livermore Valley producer of chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon.

Murphy Vineyards — A father-and-son team (Kevin and Peter Murphy) with a background in vineyard management also make fine cabernet, merlot and syrah under their namesake label from grapes grown in Napa and the Sierra foothills.

Obrien Estate — A small family winery in Napa producing an award-winning blended red wine (Seduction — made from cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot grown in the Oak Knoll district.) and also makers of a fine merlot, and chardonnay.

Sullivan Vineyards — Another Napa Valley producer of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and chardonnay plus a few high-end Bordeaux-style, blended red wines.

Taylor Family Vineyard — A small producer on the Silverado Trail in Napa, making cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc.

Twomey Cellars — An award-winning “merlot-only” winery in Calistoga, owned by Silver Oak. Click here to read my blog on Silver Oak and Twomey.

Waits-Mast Family Cellars — A husband-and-wife winemaking effort from a  San Francisco couple (Brian Mast and Jennifer Waits) who produce tiny amounts of top-grade pinot noir sourced mostly from Mendocino County.

Livermore — A Bit West of Ireland

Concannon is a good Irish name and it’s also the name of a good winery in Livermore that makes a wide range of fine wines.

James Concannon founded his namesake winery, now owned by the Wine Group of San Francisco, in 1883 after leaving Ireland to make his fortune in America.

The Concannon Vineyard winery has been active ever since. It’s best known for releasing California’s first varietal labeled petite sirah back in 1961. The Concannon petite sirah is an inexpensive “go-to” wine when you need a good daily sipper that sells for $10-$12 in supermarkets and wine shops.

They are throwing a founder’s day bash at Concannon on Saturday (1:30-3:30 p.m., March 13) to honor the winery’s founder, who was born on St. Patrick’s Day! No charge to attend. Small fee for tasting. Picnicking is free on the grounds around the winery, which is surrounded by petite sirah vineyards.

Visit Napa, See Paris

Eiffel Tower, shot from the Trocadero

Eiffel Tower

A new photography exhibit, featuring images from the award-winning book, Paris Icons, will open a week from Saturday (March 20) at Mumm Napa winery. The exhibit includes 50 pictures that emphasize the spirit of France’s most famous city. Author Leslie Little, and photographer James Scholz will sign copies of the book at the event, which runs 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the winery’s photo gallery.


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One Response to “Cal-Irish — No Green Wines Here”

  1. Becky Tyner Says:

    Thanks for the plug- did you make it to When Irish Wines are Smiling? If not, for a glimpse of the event – here are the dancers from the Keenan School of Irish Dancing – that were a part of our entertainment. Cheers!

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