Category Archives: Napa Valley

Stonehedge 2003 Krupp Brother’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon: The Finest Value California Cabernet Under $15 You May Never Taste: A Where’s Waldo Debacle!


I began wine collecting with the 1986 vintage, a fine year for cabernet, when the prices for a bottle of California cabernet were in line with most consumer’s budgets. Since that time I have made it a point to buy ultra premium cabernets and very inexpensive “value” cabernets. I have yet to find a Cabernet, in my 20+years of drinking and buying, as fantastic a value and as rich and flavorful a wine as the Stonehedge 2003 Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. The best part is the price: $12.99 at my local Trader Joe’s!

Now here is the mystery aka the bad part of the story. This wine is impossible to find outside of Trader Joes and not all Trader Joe’s carry this cabernet. Why? Here is what we know to this point after looking online-for a frustrating night of hide and seek.

1. The wine is called Stonehedge Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet vintage is 2003.

2. It was bottled by Stonehedge Cellars of Santa Maria, California.

3. The wine has a black label all other Stonehedge wines have white labels

4. The Krupp Brothers are credited with making this wine. I can not find the Krupp Brothers on the Stonehedge site nor online for producing this wine.

5. The only black label wine by Stonehedge is the $50 per bottle “Signature Vines Stage Coach Vineyard” designated Cabernet with no mention of the Krupp Brothers.

If you can find it buy as much as your budget will allow. If you will please email me and let me know I want to buy more of this wine before it is gone. I have a feeling that this was a wine produced for Trader Joe’s or discounters only. Best of luck and if you find it- you will love it!

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Alpha Omega: Spectacular Wines, Tasting Room Staff Who Bring Excitement and Enthusiam to Your Experience!

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Napa and Sonoma have no shortage of world class wines presented in beautiful surroundings with every bell and whistle imaginable. Yet in many cases, wineries spending millions on their grounds and tasting rooms neglect the most important asset they incorporate in promoting their products: people.

At Alpha Omega the people are just as special and rich as the beautiful wines they produce. The simple yet most important aspects of any trip to a winery tasting room for me:

1. Feeling welcome by the staff

2. Enthusiasm for the wines and educating the consumer

3. Connecting with consumers by relating the history behind the winery, wine maker, and up coming developments

Our recent visit to Alpha Omega winery was spectacular and fulfilled all three of my favorite aspects of wine tasting. Our “expert” and main contact was Marissal a recent addition to Alpha Omega. Marissal was very friendly and with her enthusiasm (desire for us to enjoy our time with A/O) she set the tone for our tasting.

Marisal gave us a complete overview on the wines, her passionate desire to work for A/O, and the plans for a new tasting room project that was under construction. In addition she provided us with Napa Valley news only those in the industry, or those living in the Valley, are privy too.

To top this off, Marisal provided us the type of generous (yet respectful to her employer) pours that make the consumer feel they are receiving enough to make an informed judgment on each wine. In many wineries (PlumpJack for example), the pour is controlled with a “measured pour” device the same as seen in any local tavern. The pour is so tiny that you barely have enough to wet your lips let alone make a tasting judgment.

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Our intention was to spend a relaxing 35-45 minutes sampling Alpha Omega’s wines and viewing the grounds. After engaging with ,we purchased a bottle of their lush grapefruit infused Sauvignon Blanc and enjoyed it in a beautiful pond side setting next to the tasting room. Throughout our 2 1/2 hour stay, different tasting room staff came out to chat and check on our “progress.”

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The staff ensures that the mood is jovial and fun. To my way of thinking, wine is the most entertaining and heartfelt “drink” we have to share with our friends and family. Alpha Omega understands that it is their people that make the difference, their wines that make a mark on the industry, and their tasting room that will bring more fans into the fold!

Bodega Bay Seafood, Art and Wine Festival: Last of the Fantastic Summer Wine Festivals

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The San Francisco Bay Area’s Summer Festival season is coming to a close with one of the very best outdoor celebrations. The 13th annual Bodega Seafood, Art and Wine Festival provides celebrants with a serene water location, world class musical talent, and gourmet food and wine offerings.

The Bodega Bay celebration is held in the historic bay side resort town of Bodega Bay made famous by Alfred Hitchcock in his creepy classic “The Birds.” The festival, August 25 & 26th, is located at Watt’s Ranch 16855 Bodega Avenue in the village of Bodega Bay, California. The event runs from 10:00-6:00 on Saturday and 10:00-5:00 on Sunday; admission fees are $12 for adults, $10 for Seniors 60 and over, $8 for kids 12-1, and children under 12 are admitted free of charge. This is truly one of the best values in entertainment. The following is a lineup of musical talent, Art, Food and wineries available:

Saturday August 25: Headliner Marcia Ball Singer/Pianist brings her brand of “bayou blues” and “honky tonk” style for her first appearance at Bodega Bay.

Opening for Marcia: Guitar virtuoso Scott Huckabay , Cari Lee and the Saddle-ites , Montuno Groove , and a host of stage shows.

Sunday August 26: Headliner the Bay Area’s native sons Pride and Joy the best R&B club band with over 25 yrs of headliner gigging.

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Opening for Pride and Joy: Incendio nuevo flamenco and Tom Rigney.

With 19 wineries led by the fantastic Sbragia from Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County and 10 breweries including Sierra Nevada there will not be a dry glass in the place.

If you are visiting the San Francisco Bay Area in late August or if you are a local make the trek to Bodega Bay for what promises to be the best celebration of the summer.

Napa Valley’s “Vintage Inn”: A Slice of French Country Elegance in Yountville

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Nestled in the tiny burg of Yountville, CA, in the Napa Valley wine country, resides the Vintage Inn. A sister property to the Villagio, the Vintage Inn is one of the finest french country Inn’s in the United States. The combination of estate-like spacious rooms, country quaint lushly appointed grounds, and supreme service provided by the staff gives the Vintage Inn a leg up on it’s competition.

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The best characteristic the Vintage has to offer is it’s staff. Most are young kids with a never ending positive flow of helpful suggestions and “can do” cordialness. The generosity is obvious. On our recent stay, we were given an unlimited supply of free Mumm’s Champagne, served an incredibly delicious buffet style brunch, and were encouraged to take nearly everything, that was not bolted or nailed down to the ground, home as a souvenir for free. We discovered that we received well over $100 worth of food, wine, and souvenirs within our room rate during our stay-an incredible value given the 4 star designation this property enjoys.

The staff’s wonderful service, positive attitude, and generosity was not the only draw to this resort. The rooms and grounds are picturesque and guaranteed to place you in a relaxed mood.

The rooms are spacious and fully appointed in french country colors (blue/white/earth tones). The king sized bed, with pillow top, was magnificent. The bathroom, the size of a Manhattan studio, had a very large jacuzzi tub, candles, mirrors, and a beautiful vanity. A mountain of fine linens were provided as was a very comfy terrycloth robe. Suffice it to say it was very romantic and worth the price of admission alone.

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The final piece to any resort is the ambiance they wish to create from the outside. The grounds are a lush green combination of ferns, wild flowers, well coifed hedges, and an assortment of emerald green grass spots. The walk ways are adorned with ground lighting and a beautiful canal is etched into each path with flowing water. There are multiple fountains on the property giving a person the feeling they are on an estate property. This has the feel of a perfect place for your wine country wedding or anniversary celebration.

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The amenities include a fantastic cabana like funrnished lap pool area. Lounge seating and large dramatic furniture adorns each corner of the pool. Included in this equation is a large hot tub providing a great hot-cold experience from tub to pool. The Vintage Inn’s formidable restaurant provides pool service of their entire menu and full bar service.

Meadowwood, Auberge du soleil, and Silverado have long been the platinum gold standard of resorts in the Napa Valley. But if you are looking for a fantastic experience without the $600+ per night freight, try the Vintage Inn in Yountville, California. They aim to please; they fulfilled every expectation and more so on our trip.