Wine & Grapes

(Photo - Roberta Sorge on Unsplash)

It was another amazing year for Livermore winemakers at the San Francisco Chronicle Competition — the largest in the US with nearly 6,000 entries.

The Retzlaff team of Aaron, Noah and Bob Taylor, should be commended for having their Best of Class 2017 Merlot in the Sweepstakes round during the final judging, which is the next highest honor to winning Best White or Best Red of Show. This is a first for a Livermore Merlot. Congratulations to them.

Kudos also to Wood Family Wines for taking seven Double Golds.

Going through the wineries in ABC order, Darin Winton of Cellar 13 scored Golds for his 2019 Chardonnay and 2018 Tsogadu Merlot-leading blend.

James Foster of Concannon Vineyards scored Double Gold for the Nina’s Cuvee Petite Sirah, and Golds for the 2017 Mother Vine Cabernet, Malbec, Captain Joe’s Petite Sirah and Stampmaker’s Reserve GSM.

Larry Dino of Cuda Ridge scored four Golds for his 2018 Melange d’Amis, 2018 Cabernet Franc, 2018 S&M Sangiovese-Merlot blend and 2018 Petit Verdot.

Dante Robere Vineyards took a Best of Class for their 2018 Contra Costa County Alicante Bouschet; a Double Gold for the 2018 Dante’s Inferno from Livermore Valley; and Golds for another 8 wines, (Tempranillo, Purgatorio blend, Element 116, Syrah and Reserve Syrah, Zinfandel, Roberitage and Mourvedre) to make it 10 Golds out of 12 entries.

Darcie Kent Vineyards entered 22 wines, including six in the Packaging Category, for which Choreography won a Best of Class. Julian Halasz has to be pretty pleased with a total of 11 Golds, including Double Golds for the 2017 Sparkling Gruner Veltliner and 2018 Firepit Cabernet Sauvignon, along with Golds for the Zinfandel, Firepit Crown Block Red, Sauvignon Blanc, Choreography, Victories Rose, Firepit Petite Sirah, Pistachio Lane Chardonnay, NOIR Pinot Noir and Old Gum Tree Port.

Ehrenberg Cellars won a Best of Class for the El Dorado Petite Sirah dessert wine, which was on my panel.

Fenestra’s Aaron Luna scored a Best of Class for their 2018 Zinfandel, Double Gold for the 2019 Livermore Sauvignon Blanc, and two more Golds for the Conjugation and Syrah. Consulting for Garre, Luna also pulled in a Double Gold for the 2017 Cabernet Franc, Gold for the 2019 Reserve Chardonnay, and Silvers for the 2017 Sangiovese, 2017 Primitivo and 2017 Petite Sirah. The same Primitivo was named Best of Class at the East Meets West Wine Competition, scoring 97 points.

With 29 entries, Brent Amos of Las Positas topped the charts for sheer numbers, taking 13 Golds, including a Best of Class for the 2019 Verdelho, and Double Golds for the 2016 Patrinus, 2017 Coccineous, 2016 Cabernet Reserve, 2016 Meritage, 2017 Cabernet Franc and 2017 Sangiovese. Golds went to Amos for 2017 Patrinus, 2019 Albarino, 2017 Chardonnay, 2017 Tempranillo, 2018 Monastrell and 2018 Coccineous. The 2016 Patrinus was named Best of Class and Best of Livermore at the East Meets West Competition, scoring 98 points.

McGrail Vineyards scored a Gold for the 2018 Sheamus Patrick Cabernet from Ghielmetti Vineyard. Their 2018 Colton Cabernet from Lucky 8 Vineyard won Platinum at the recently held Monterey Wine Competition.

Page Mill Winery struck Gold for their 2017 Marcellar Cabernet, 2019 Sauvignon Blanc, 2018 GPS and 2018 Merlot, while Rosa Fierro hauled in two Double Golds: one for her unoaked 2019 Chardonnay and the other for her 2016 “Call Me A Cab” Thatcher Bay Cabernet.

Jesse Plautz of Rubino and Ruby Hill had the winningest Gold percentage, going three for three, including Double Gold for the 2017 Riserva Cabernet, and Golds for the 2017 Reserve and Jewel Cabernets.

Wente scored Gold for Wetmore Cab and Riva Ranch Chard. Wood Family really hauled it in with Best of Class for the 2018 GSM, and seven Double Golds for 2018 Big Wood Zin, 2018 Viva Cab, 2019 Para Mas Amigas Chardonnay, 2018 Cabernet Franc, 2018 Woody’s Cab, 2018 Malbec and 2018 Grenache, all from Livermore fruit. Team Wood also scored Gold for the 2019 Pink Pearl Rose and the 2018 Vintner’s Collective blend. A resounding result.

Go to for the complete results.