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The Hit List

The Hit List: The Spanish Table

The Hit List: The Spanish Table

Daniel Santos,  Contributor

Daniel Santos, Contributor

One of the great joys in life is traveling and discovering the great cultures that exist all over the world. Those discoveries are even better when the cultures have such a rich history in wine and food like the Spanish do.  Bringing back or discovering that rich history is now easier than ever to do especially when you find a true culinary treasure like The Spanish Table nearby.  With four stores located in Seattle, Berkeley, Santa Fe, and Mill Valley you can easily be transported away to Spain as you enjoy shopping for Spanish food and wines in one of their wonderful locations. To those who are not nearby one of the physical storefronts, never fear, you can get your Iberian fix by shopping online.

The Spanish have been making wines since Roman days and they enjoy a rich history in viticulture.  With over 600 varietals planted throughout their wine regions, many of those grapes are native Spanish varieties that can only be found in Spain.  We visited the Berkeley location, which opened in 2001.  They have a great wine selection from all over Spain and their staff are very knowledgeable and willing to help you choose and select the right wine for any occasion.   For those who might be new to Spanish wines you will be happy to know that the wines span many different varieties and styles, from bubbles in Cava, to Tempranillo in Rioja, as well as other more familiar varieties such as Granacha (Grenache), Cabernet, and Sauvignon Blanc.  The Spanish Table in Berkeley has a wonderful selection of all these different styles and varieties.   

An interesting thing to note is that in 2013 Spain became the world’s top producer of wine beating their historic rivals France and Italy.   This was in large part to a perfect growing season in Spain that meant a bumper crop for many of its wine producing regions.   This surplus of fine wine will be a definite plus for those who are in the know.  If you’re looking for great new wines to discover in 2015, at an affordable price, you should become familiar with Spanish wines.  

On the day we visited the Spanish Table in Berkeley we were there to pick up some Spanish Chorizo sausage, and Spanish Paella for a dinner we were prepring that evening. The Spanish Table is Paella supply heaven, not only do they carry all the cookware, spices, and special Spanish bomba rice, but they also carry a variety of Spanish groceries, Olive oils, and Spanish ham known as Jamón Ibérico.

2007 LAN Rioja Reserva.jpg

We asked for some help with a bold red wine that would pair well with the Paella, something with rich fruit and a nice amount of smoke and spice.  The wine steward recommended a 2007 LAN Rioja Reserva, a 91 Point TWA (Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate) wine that is about 90% Tempranillo and spends up to 15 months in both French and American Oak barrels, at about $17.99 it was a definite winner.  We plan to return to the Spanish Table and pick up some more LAN Reserva, we recommend you do the same.

Don't forget to capture your wine and paella experiences using the VAULT29 app.


The Hit List: Napa Valley Experiences

The Hit List: Napa Valley Experiences

Wine drinkers always want to know: Where can I find a good glass (or bottle) of wine?  Well, we have you covered! This week in "The Hit List," we feature a few of our favorite experiences in historic Napa Valley:

BUBBLES in CAVES, Schramsberg Vineyards: One of the few places you can find sparking wine for those of you who love the bubbles - and this is the best of the best in the Valley. Take a walk through history and drink wine along the way at this famed estate high in the hills of Diamond Mountain. Discover the 3rd oldest wine caves hand dug by Chinese railroad workers after the gold rush. Learn about "Methode Champenoise" and the art of riddling. The J. Schrams and Reserve are our favorites, in addition to other non-sparkling offerings like the Davies Cabernet Sauvignon. 1400 Schramsberg Rd, Calistoga 

 Riddling racks inside Schramsberg's historic caves. Photo credit:

 Riddling racks inside Schramsberg's historic caves. Photo credit:

SMALL PLATES/WINE/OLIVE OIL, Round Pond Estate: In the heart of the Rutherford district is one of the most picturesque wineries with award winning wines and a variety of experiences to choose from. Try the delicious food and wine pairings or the olive oil tastings from the estate's own olive oil press. Our favorites: the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc and, of course, their 2010 Rutherford Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. 875 Rutherford Road, Rutherford

UNIQUE EXPERIENCES, Merryvale Vineyards: Located directly on Hwy 29 is Merryvale, a family owned and operated winery notably known for beautiful Cabernets. We were blown away by their private cheese and wine tasting inside the 25,000 gallon historic redwood barrel. Do yourself a favor and book this incredible experience! We loved the Silhouette Chardonnay and, of course, the flagship Cab. 1000 Main Street, St. Helena

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CAVES AND REDWOODS, Reverie Winery: This small family owned winery is tucked away off the beaten path of Hwy 29 on the hillsides of the Diamond Mountain appellation. If you are a serious winelover, you will love these limited production, ultra premium boutique Bordeaux style wines. The tour starts inside the caves and ends under the giant redwood trees. Hopefully when you visit, Messi - the winery dog - makes an appearance too! Very few wineries rival this all around experience. 1520 Diamond Mountain Rd, Calistoga

Reverie Redwoods.jpg

Got your own favorite winery experiences? Be sure to add them to the VAULT29 app! Cheers and happy discovery!

The Hit List: LA's Beach Cities

The Hit List: LA's Beach Cities

Wine drinkers always want to know:  Where can I find a good glass (or bottle) of wine?  Well, we have you covered!  This week in "The Hit List," we feature our favorite spots in LA's beach cities:

The scene at Bodega Wine Bar, Santa Monica.   Photo credit:

The scene at Bodega Wine Bar, Santa Monica.  Photo credit:

Bodega Wine Bar, Santa Monica:  Affordable wines paired with a trendy atmosphere.  Come early and claim a window seat – perfect for sipping and people watching! 814 Broadway, Santa Monica

Zinque, Venice Beach:  Higher end wine bar with boutique selections paired with small plates.  If available, try the Emeritus Hallberg Pinot Noir from Sonoma or a “GSM” (Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre) from the Paso Robles region. 600 Venice Blvd, Venice

A patron enjoys the bar at Zinque.   Photo Credit:

A patron enjoys the bar at Zinque.  Photo Credit:

A wine flight at Barsha 

A wine flight at Barsha 

Barsha, Manhattan Beach:  A diverse collection of wines, from affordable to high end, and old world to new world.  Grab a seat at the tall rustic tables and try a featured wine flight.  We also recommend their monthly wine club - wines are personally selected by the owner. 917 N. Sepulveda Blvd, Manhattan Beach

Inside the Vintage Shoppe.  Photo credit: Foursquare

Inside the Vintage Shoppe. Photo credit: Foursquare

The Vintage Shoppe, Manhattan Beach:  Higher end wine shop with casual tastings.  A nice variety of French, Spanish, Italian and California wines. 3500 N. Sepulveda Blvd, Manhattan Beach 

Friends of the Vine, Redondo Beach:  If you’re looking for rare, hard to find wines, this is the place.  Spoil yourself with a bottle of Peter Michael Les Pavots or Howell Mountain’s O’Shaunnessey Cabernet, order some charcuterie and enjoy! 221 Ave Del Norte, Redondo Beach

The wine selection at Uncorked.   Photo credit: 

The wine selection at Uncorked.  Photo credit: 

Uncorked, Hermosa Beach:  Steps from the beach, come in for wine tastings and leave with a new favorite! Great, affordable wines like the Jackhammer Pinot and the Broadside Cabernet. A current offering: the 2012 Foxen Chenin Blanc from Santa Barbara. 302 Pier Avenue, Hermosa Beach 

Got your own favorites? Be sure to add them to the VAULT29 app! Cheers and happy discovery!