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2015 Thanks

2015 Thanks

2015 #Wines of Thanks

From everyday drinkin' to special occasion bottles and experiences, here's our Top 20 Wines of Thanks! Glasses up to all of our winelovers. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving - Cheers!

2014 Viognier by Amplify Wines | VAULT29

#20 - The 2014 Viognier by Amplify Wines was one of the most unique of the year. We loved this bright wine made by the super talented Cameron Porter. 

2014 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc by Galerie | VAULT29

#19 - The 2014 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc by Galerie was our favorite find of the year. Galerie is an ultra-premium boutique brand created specifically for international winemaker Laura Diaz-Munoz. From the gorgeous labels (blown watercolor) to the wine itself, this $30 is an unbelievable deal and one of the most impressive expressions of Sauvignon Blanc. 

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon by Kongsaard | VAULT29

#18 - The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon by Kongsaard is a wine to celebrate. You won't find this wine widely available, and with it's price tag, it's a once in a lifetime experience.

2014 Bieler Pere & Fils Rosé | VAULT29

#17 - The 2014 Bieler Pere & Fils Rosé was a perfect summer time sipper at $11.99 a bottle. We kept cool with this Provencial wine! 

2011 Stephens Vineyard Pinot Noir by Ten Acre | VAULT29

#16 - The gorgeous 2011 Stephens Vineyard Pinot Noir from Ten Acre was one of our favorite Pinots from winemaker Mike Zardo.  Mike started his winemaking career at Pinot-famous Pisoni, and made his way to the Russian River Valley.  Don't miss the tour and tasting at sister winery, Bella Vineyards, in Healdsberg for some of the best Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Old Vine Zins the area has to offer.

2010 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon by Adler Deutsch

#15 - The 2010 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon by Adler Deutsch Vineyards was recommended by Sommelier Scott Brenner of PRESS Napa Valley. Paired with perfectly prepared filets, we enjoyed this stunner by Aaron Pott. An unforgettable wine paired with an unforgettable meal. 

2007 Lokoya Cabernet Sauvignon | VAULT29

#14 - The knockout 2007 Lokoya Cabernet Sauvignon needs no introduction. We were fortunate to taste a splash of this Mount Veeder gem at the 2015 Napa Valley Auction.  

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon by Obsidian Ridge Vineyard | VAULT29

#13 - The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon by Lake County's Obsidian Ridge Vineyard was the perfect discovery thanks to our friends at Uncorked in Hermosa Beach.  When you're craving a big Cab without a hefty price tag, you can't beat it at 24 bucks.

2012 David Moret Rully | VAULT29

#12 - The 2012 David Moret Rully was the perfect wine when feeling French. Greg at San Francisco's Wine Merchant tricked us with this beaut, and we're thankful he did! 

Emeritus 2011 Hallberg Ranch + William Wiley Pinot Noir | VAULT29

#11 - The Emeritus duo, 2011 Hallberg Ranch and 2011 William Wiley Pinots. Many of the award winning wines in the area are sourced from Emeritus' pristine Hallberg Vineyard.  A special treat was the side by side tasting of their very limited production - and last vintage - of the William Wiley. Two stunning Pinots you can't miss. 

2012 El Libre Rose of Malbec | VAULT29

#10 - The 2012 El Libre Rose of Malbec delivers. This wine is juicy in flavor and price at $9/bottle. Pair with paella and have yourself a feast! 

2010 Cabernet Sauvignon by The Vineyard House | VAULT29

#9 - The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon by The Vineyard House is a wine with rich Napa history. Tucked behind Far Niente, between BOND Winery and Harlan Estate, is The Vineyard House owned by Jeremy Nickel, son of Gil Nickel. Jeremy carries on the Nickel legacy with TVH, and writes his own piece of history with his impressive wines.

1999 Dynamite Hill Petite Syrah by Ridge Vineyards | VAULT29

#8 - The 1999 Dynamite Hill Petite Syrah by Ridge Vineyards was a pleasant surprise. We assumed this 16-year old wine was past it's prime, but boy were we wrong! Known for it's powerful Zinfandels, Ridge blew us away by this balanced, beautiful effort of Petite Syrah! 

2011 Rio Vista Vineyard Pinot Noir by Thorne | VAULT29

#8 - The 2011 Estate Grown Rio Vista Vineyard Pinot Noir by Thorne out of Sta. Rita Hills was a gorgeous wine we discovered at Pinot Days in Los Angeles. At $36/bottle, you'll want to get this wine in your glass ASAP, as many of their wines sell out quickly. Run! 

2012 La Carriere Chardonnay by Peter Michael | VAULT29

#6 - The 2012 La Carriere Chardonnay by Peter Michael was, simply put, one of the best wines we've ever had. If you're a Chard lover, this is a must drink regardless of it's $119 price tag.

2011 Palmaz Vineyards + 4088 Cabernet Sauvignon | VAULT29

#5 - The 2011 Palmaz Vineyards and 2011 4088 are two BIG hitters enjoyed at trendy steakhouse, 5A5, in San Francisco. Prime cuts of beef, including wagyu, deserve exceptional bottles of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at its' side.  A hefty set back worth every penny, at least once! Don't pass the opportunity to tour the impressive, memorable Palmaz Estate in the newly recognized Coombsville AVA of Napa Valley. And if you can get your hands on a limited production bottle of 4088, do yourself the favor! They also produced a gorgeous Merlot by famous winemaker Robert Foley.

DRNK Sauvignon Blanc | VAULT29

#4 - If you find yourselves in the Sebastapol area, please do yourselves the favor and visit Ryan and Katie Kunde at DRNK Wines. Everything they do, from their Vin Gris to their Caver's Cuvee, is a crowd pleaser. Their $20 Sauv Blanc, sourced from the Kunde Family Vineyards, is versatile with foods or enjoyed on its own for any and every occasion. Escape the hot weather by hanging out in the cave, sippin' on some of the best from Russian River while Ryan tells you about his latest projects which may or may not involve drones.

ONX 2014 Field Day White Blend | VAULT29

#3 - We discovered ONX at Family Winemakers in 2014. Their entire line up was standout, but the 2014 Field Day, a white blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache Blanc, and Viognier was made to drink solo! The crips, clean flavors of this Paso Robles wine is vitalizing on a hot day. 

2013 Robert Sinskey Vin Girs + 2014 UNTI rosé | VAULT29

#2 - A couple of producers - Robert Sinskey (Napa Valley) and UNTI (Headlsburg) - had our palates desiring more and more rosé, which was all too often in 2015. The 2013 Robert Sinskey Vin Gris of Pinot Noir and the 2014 UNTI rosé of Grenache/Mourvedre are conversation starters. Start any day or night festivities with these knockouts!

2005 Rutherford Quintessa Cabernet Sauvignon | VAULT29

#1 - We had been sitting on this beauty for several years, and finally found an occasion to pop the cork! In typical Quintessa style, the 2005 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon drank beautifully and was one of the most memorable to date.

"#Wine and Sacrifice" - A #Winemakers View

"#Wine and Sacrifice" - A #Winemakers View

WIne Blog | VAULT29

I’ve just wrapped up the 2015 harvest, my eighth.  Perhaps more than any previous year, the word that comes to mind is sacrifice.  When I was a young cellar rat working 16 hour days, I was giving up my time, but, really, where else did I have to be?  I was fortunate enough to be working for a winemaker who would share bottles of Dagueneau, old Williams-Selyem, and countless great Burgundies at lunch and dinner (and make late night Chinese runs for the crew), so who was I to complain?  I was learning a new craft that I was obsessed with, and loving every minute of it.

That love has never left me; if anything, my passion for wine has only grown.  This year, however, there is so much at stake, and so many sacrifices to be made.  My wife and I have invested everything in our own label; we have a newborn son; we have day jobs managing other wineries.  Something is always being sacrificed.  I miss time with my son to check on fermentations or do night punchdowns.  My wife and I pass out at 8 pm because we’re completely spent from sorting grapes on our days off, and still wake up at 4 am to feed the baby.  

And we’re not alone.  “Harvest widow” is a phrase for a reason; most winemakers are ghosts to their family for that 25% of the year.  Thus, a great bottle of wine is imbued not only with a sense of place, but with a sense of sacrifice; the willingness to go beyond what most consider sane for their personal lives, to exchange short term frivolity for a future expression of artistic labor, is a common thread among the world’s best winemakers.  

Perhaps the greatest challenge is finding the balance between home life and work.  This is not a dilemma unique to wine, though harvest certainly magnifies the issue more than in many other fields. The artistic impulse doesn’t always congeal with the needs of family, but ultimately, it is our family that we make these sacrifices for.  Wine is a cornerstone of the dinner table; wine is a catalyst for conversation; and as winemakers, everything that goes into that bottle is a part of our legacy as a human being.  Have I made a wine in 2015 that will hang in there for my son’s 21st birthday?  Who knows.  I hope so; I hope the sacrifice was worth it.  

About the author: Cameron Porter is an Advanced Sommelier and Owner/Winemaker of Amplify Wines, He also plays a role on VAULT29's Advisory Team! Stay connected to Amplify by following them on FacebookInstagram & in the VAULT29 app.

Winemakers: Share your "Wine & Sacrifice" with our community. Simply download the VAULT29 app and share your winemaking experiences now! Use hashtag #winemaking.

Dynamic Duos

Dynamic Duos

Wine Mic Monday: Dynamic Duos

In Season 2's Recap #1, we take a look back at husband and wife duos. All four couples followed their passions and let curiosity guide them, which ultimately lead to chasing wine dreams. From fateful trips in Europe, to specific winemaking techniques and beliefs, these four stories highlight wine and it's ability to influence lives, inspire, and create incredible pieces of art with each vintage.

Amplify: what we love about this piece is how Cameron so carefully and perfectly articulates what wine is to him. To Cam, wine is so much more than the traditional rules and the places in which the grapes grow. To take ones undying passion, translate into a profoundly personal expression of art, and inspire conversation is what makes wine the most meaningful. Read more here.


Waits-Mast: We love this story because wine has the power to really capture curiosity. For some, we casually drink with family and friends and create a lifetime of memories with wine as the backdrop. For others, like Jennifer and Brian, it's all about the details. Read more here.


Caliza: The theme in this story is a true, unwavering commitment to winemaking. Carl and Pam see this firsthand with their fateful trip to Italy after 9/11, and dedicate years of education and preparing the land until the timing was right and the wines were exactly aligned with "sense of place." Read more here.


Kukkula: Paula says her husband Kevin doesn't know the meaning of a small hobby - and their wine journey is proof! From Beaucastel, France to the rolling hills in Paso Robles, Kevin shares their winemaking adventure! Read more here.



Meet Cameron and his wife. Together, they make up Amplify, where their goal is to capture not only a sense of site, but a sense of self. A sip of Santa Maria pinot noir sparked Cameron's curiousity about wine. He started as a cellar rat at Tantara where he learned the art of blending. At Dierberg, he expanded his farming knowledge and the natural approach of winemaking. In his first attempts, Cameron passed the Court of Master Sommeliers first three levels in just NINE months, and holds the title Advanced Sommelier. He is currently studying for his Master exam while he crafts exceptional small production wine. This duo has never been fans of cliques or been interested in being part of the cool kids club (but we think they are awesome!)  They are content to work in their little world, chipping away at a long-held dream. Amplify proves dreams do come true...

Wine: A Timeliss Beverage by Cameron Porter

Amplify Wines | VAULT29

Wine can be so much more than a beverage if it's allowed to be.  It can capture that which is timeless- the essence of a place and the traditions of a people.  And it can also evoke those things that are transient- the weather of a given year, the philosophical approach of a farmer, even the mood of the winemaker throughout the aging process.  This intersection of the fleeting and the forever is where the art of wine lies, so when we started Amplify, our goal was to capture not only a sense of site, but a sense of self.     

It's easy to espouse this philosophy, but the work of achieving it is something else altogether.  Every grape variety we work with, and every site we work with, guides our hand in very different ways.  Sometimes this means nurturing some delicate element; other times it means destroying a grape's primary nature so that it may express the core of its origins.  Take our Viognier.  Viognier, by its nature, wants to throw out all of its effusive, peachy, generous, oily goodness to seduce you. While this take on Viognier is pleasant, it doesn't have much to say about where it's from or who made it.  We believe Viognier must be punished, thrown in the gutter before it can really look at the stars.  Every time we bring it into the winery I can hear Dylan's voice on “Like a Rolling Stone” cackling “How does it feel...” to the socialite now on her own, cast out of the comfort of her high society trappings.  Once our Viognier makes it through its plight- foot crushing, no sulfur, skin contact, hot ferments- it comes out the other side better for its hardship, tasting of the soil it was raised in and the hands that crafted it.

This goes against most of the “rules” of how Viognier is supposed to be treated.  But the world of wine has a lot of rules.  Europe has its appellation system, where one is told what one can grow, how it can be grown, and how it must taste.  Viticultural professors have their textbooks on how vines should be trellised and the scientific markers for what ripe fruit is.  Sommeliers tell us the classic rules of pairing, and what foods we should be eating with particular wines.  There is greatness to be found in these rules, certainly; they are the foundation of tradition, and have helped to establish much of what made us fall in love with wine in the first place.  But we are in California.  Our creative freedom is boundless; knowing these rules allows us to break them, and break through, to find our own voice. 

Thus, our approach, while rooted in a strong overarching philosophy, is not dogmatic.  We've never been fans of cliques or been interested in being part of the cool kids club.  Rather, we're content to work in our own little world, chipping away at a long-held dream.  The art of winemaking- and it is an art- is a long, slow journey.  It's not like music or painting, where an abstract idea can be channeled into something concrete immediately, a masterpiece rendered in the moment.  The wonder, and the frustration, in wine comes from the patience it requires.  And in a lifetime, if you are extremely lucky and start early enough, you still might only get 50 or 60 chances to really ace it.  Perhaps because of this, our joy comes not from trying to achieve perfection (and here's a secret- despite 100 point scores being doled out, it ain't attainable).  Instead, we find it in the surprises our wines consistently deliver, the new stories they have to tell each year, the questions they raise more than the answers they provide.

Our ultimate hope is that these bottles inspire conversation around a table among friends, family, and lovers- about the wines themselves, certainly, what winemaker wouldn't dream of their art being treated with such respect- but more importantly about their day, their dreams, their struggle.  There should be laughter, and flirtation, and excitement, maybe even a little tension.  We're born alone, we die alone, and it's those little moments of connection in between that make it all worthwhile; for a bottle of Amplify to be the catalyst for that experience?  That is what makes all the effort meaningful.  

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