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Do sweets really pair with wines? The answer is “yes.” At Steven Kent Winery, on February 10, join pastry artist, Melody Anne Lorenzo, owner of Sweet Condesa Pastries in Oakland, for Filipino inspired desserts paired with a flight of Steven Kent wines, plus wines from around the world. Steven will take visitors on a journey through the wonders of pairing great wine and great desserts to create the perfect pairing experience. Limited to 40 people. This is a guided tasting and will begin promptly at 5:30pm. $50 per person + tax. sweetsandsipslivermoreeventbrite.com.

Also at Steven Kent Winery this weekend, the new 2018 Ragbag Wine Works Rosé of Garnacha will be released. And, no, it’s not sweet.

Chocolates, Cookies at Las Positas Vineyards

Chocolate Truffle & Wine Pairing flights are offered February 8-10, 15-18, and 22. Then, it’s time for Girl Scout Cookies, February 23 and 24, when Troop 30309 will be onsite selling cookies.

Longevity Winery Valentine’s Open House & BYOB

You’re invited to the first open house of the year on February 9 for a couples themed event with live music, the experience of bottling your own wine, and the chance to purchase delicious South Smokin BBQ. The Truffle & Wine package for two is $49.00, (Retail Value $108.00). It includes one box of Valentine’s Day truffles and one GoVino logo glass per person, one “Bottle Your Own” experience, which includes one bottle of wine bottled per person to take home, and one “Classic” tasting flight per person. The VIP Truffle & Wine package for two, $55.00, adds a “Vintner Select” tasting flight per person, and “Wine Member” for the day status, which gives you 20% off wine purchases and 10% off gift items from the tasting room. Tickets available at Groupon.com, or at the winery the day of the event. Members attend free of charge.

Romance on the Rails Wines

Wine Educator Steve Ferree, aka The WineProGuy, has hand-selected the following wines to be poured during the two Romance on the Rails excursions on Sunday, February 10, at noon and 3:00 pm:

• McGrail Vineyard and Winery 2017 Peyton Paige Sauvignon Blanc

• Steven Kent Winery 2015 Merrillie Chardonnay

• Las Positas Vineyards 2017 Estate Rosé

• Cuda Ridge Wines 2016 S&M Sangiovese and Malbec blend

• Occasio Winery 2015 Telos

• Cedar Mountain Winery & Port Works Tortuga Royale

The Romance on the Rails Wine Tasting Train is sponsored by the Pacific Locomotive Association. Proceeds of the event support their railroad historic preservation programs. The train disembarks from the Sunol depot.

Pinot Blanc Debuts at Rodrigue Molyneaux

Winemaker Meredith Sarboraria will introduce her first finished wine at Rodrigue Molyneaux, and it’s a beauty. The 2018 Pinot Blanc from Buttner Vineyard is lush with spring flowers and nectarines, echoing the beautiful label, which was painted by Meredith’s husband Mark. He did the floral watercolor, which was inspired by a 1970s print for his Mom a few years ago as a Christmas present. The wine officially releases February 9, and retails for $25. This is the first of the 2018’s from Rodrigue Molyneaux. You’ll have to wait a while for the rest, which are currently enjoying their winter slumber in barrel.

We nudged them awake just long enough to taste through most of them recently, from the bright and sassy Petit Verdot to the magnificent Merlot from Thatcher Bay. Each wine is done in a mix of barrels, generally neutral French (mostly Seguin Moreau), new Le Roi with medium long toast, and new or once-used Hungarian oak barrels from Kádár, including some made from 3-year aged, M+ toast, high-end tight-grained Sessile Oak (Quercus petraea) species, known for its concentrated aromatics and low tannin. It’s fascinating to observe the impact of the different woods on each varietal. Some, like Cabernet Franc, show the oak influence more dramatically than say, Cabernet Sauvignon, which can soak it up prodigiously without wearing the results on its sleeve. We also barrel-sampled a 2017 Malbec from Sachau that will definitely be a crowd pleaser: it’s due to be bottled in July. The 2015 Rodrigue Molyneaux Nebbiolo is really fetching, too.

Livermore Valley Wine Auction Distributes Funds

Funds raised by the 2018 Livermore Valley Wine Auction were distributed to the event’s beneficiaries on January 17, 2019, including: Livermore Valley Joint Unified, Pleasanton Unified, and Dublin Unified, as well as the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center, Open Heart Kitchen, and De La Salle Academy.

The success of last year’s event was due to contributions from many individuals and companies, including Dublin Chevrolet, First Tech Federal Credit Union and the Priem Family Foundation, the event’s Title sponsors. The following Master Sommelier sponsors were also important supporters of the event: Black Tie Transportation, Celebrity Cruises, Diablo Magazine, FedEx, Gallo Glass, Kaiser Permanente, The Rose Hotel, and Stanford Healthcare-ValleyCare.

Save the date for a special 25th anniversary event on September 21, 2019, when the wine auction returns, this time with the assistance of three new board members, who just joined the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Foundation: Jeff Hank of First Tech Federal Credit Union, Larry Dino, Proprietor of Cuda Ridge Wines and Diane Cranor, Proprietor of Nottingham Cellars & Vasco Urbano.

The Livermore Valley Wine Auction has raised nearly $5 million since its inception. The mission of the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Foundation is to raise funds to improve the quality of life for under-served local children. The mission of the Wente Foundation for Arts Education is to provide support for arts education programs in the Bay Area.

Debra Long Remembered

Hundreds gathered at Kimmie Spears beautifully outfitted and totally huge Embodied Wines tasting room adjacent to Longevity to celebrate the love-filled life of Debra Long. A bench dedicated to Debra was delivered just in time for the celebration, which drew people from all over the Tri-Valley and beyond, including Mac McDonald of Vision Cellars, one of the first African American winemakers to make his mark on the scene. It was a day of gathering and remembering, of love and sharing, with wines all across the board, including a gorgeous new rosé of Grenache from Occasio, not even labeled. Bravo, Dave Hendrickson, for nailing the pale magenta color on this one – and the flavors - wow, just explosive. Debra would have loved it.

It feels like the right time to revisit these amazing words that Debra so generously shared with us back in December of 2017 in an article about gratitude:

“First I'm thankful for my beautiful family and unconditional love. They are kind, loving and generous. I'm also grateful for health and life. I was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, and happy to say I'm still here enjoying my life with my husband, family and friends who have encouraged me and supported us both through a trying and different learning experience and encouraging us onward.

“I think with any diagnosis, while it may take your breath away for a minute, it can also give you a new passion and desire to live life to the fullest. Not taking people or things for granted but loving more deeply with greater respect for everything and a greater appreciation for people. Not wasting time on the trivial, being more forgiving and hopefully laughing more.

“Not taking life, people or situations for granted, but instead spending the time in thanks and gratitude for life and the people placed in your life. Taking the time while we have it to be grateful for the song of a bird, a rainy day, a cup of coffee with a friend, a pets wagging tail or an encouraging word spoken or heard.

“I think a grateful heart makes one kinder. You don't always know what someone is going through or what they are facing.

“Be grateful for your life and all that's included in it. Change what you don't like, love more deeply and openly and enjoy each day giving thanks to God that gives us life. Each day is a gift: choose to be grateful!”