Wine Tasting 101: To aerate or not to aerate?

The practice of decanting wine is certainly no new concept; even the ancient Romans poured their wines into special gold, bronze, and clay carafes after a harvest to present to Kings, Priests, and noblemen alike. What they may not have been aware of at the time, though, were all the hidden gems in wine that can be brought out simply by pouring it into a separate container. This process was later described as decanting, and since then the practice has taken off in many different directions.

Vinturi Aerator

Decanting wine simply allows it to breathe; the process can open up and enhance its aromas, release underlying flavors, and rid a more mature bottle of any sediment built up after a long aging process, thereby creating a smoother finish. Today, the most popular way to decant is done by pouring the wine straight from the bottle into either a glass or crystal carafe and allowing it to sit. You’ll notice that the first glass out of the decanter will taste different than a glass just 30 minutes later in terms of flavor, texture, aroma and acidity. However, as has been discussed by many wine enthusiasts and critics, decanting can be the kiss of death for a beautiful bottle if not done properly and for the right amount of time. When the wine is exposed to oxygen in this process, it changes the entire chemical makeup of the wine and while some flourish, some fall flat if exposed for even a couple minutes too long. So what is a wine lover to do when they want to see if their wine is a good fit for a decanter, but does not want to risk ruining the whole bottle in the process?

Enter the Vinturi Wine Aerator, a modern day savior that allows for any given glass of wine to be tested before and after the aerating process. The Vinturi has set the standard for hand-held aerators in the wine industry and are the aerator of choice for novices and enthusiasts worldwide. The Vinturi delivers perfect aeration in the time it takes to pour a glass. Simply hold the aerator over an empty wine glass and pour straight into the opening and watch the Vinturi work its magic! Depending on the speed at which it is poured, the Vinturi will draw in just the right amount of air in order to release a truly unique glass of wine that in most cases will yield a smoother, more aromatic finish.

Vinturi Giftset

The Vinturi Wine Aerator is now available in our store for both red and white wines. We also offer both a red wine and red Vinturi package, as well as a chardonnay and white Vinturi package. Perform your own taste test at home with your favorite Gold Medal bottle, or bring it along to your next dinner party as a fun party trick. The Vinturi Wine Aerator is your next favorite wine accessory and is sure to heighten the already excellent flavors and aromas of your choice Gold Medal Wine Club wines.



Undiscovered, Undervalued and Unbelievable Wines: Introducing the Garagiste Series

Constantly striving to feature the best wine country has to offer, Gold Medal Wine Club is proud to announce a brand new wine club program, the Garagiste Series. Undiscovered, undervalued and unbelievable, the wines in the Garagiste Series celebrate the spirit of the artisan winemaker. Widely regarded as “America’s Leading Independent Wine Club”, Gold Medal Wine Club is now giving wine lovers throughout the country an opportunity to experience stunning, handcrafted small-lot wines from independent, artisan producers.

Garagiste Bage

Originally a term used to denigrate rogue French winemakers; Garagiste has now become synonymous with high quality, experimental wines and winemakers. At the forefront of this burgeoning movement is the Paso Robles wine region, where more and more Garagiste wineries and winemakers are beginning to appear. Driven by a passion for wine, these small winemakers are producing the most exciting and rare wines in the marketplace. With wines that are typically produced in less than 1,000 cases, Garagiste wines are extremely limited. Small-lot production gives winemakers complete control over the winemaking process, adding a layer of experimentation to every bottle. Led by a passion for unconventional winemaking, the Garagiste movement has gained respect throughout the wine community for its commitment to high quality wine production.

With this exciting new series, Gold Medal Wine Club members are given the unique opportunity to have small-lot wines from this new and exciting movement delivered straight to their door. Given the small production, Garagiste wineries often have little to no wine distribution. Now, these wines can be shared and enjoyed through the country, as wine club members are given the distinct privilege of tasting wines not normally available in the marketplace. If you love the thought of finding rare and fascinating wines before they are discovered, this is the perfect wine series for you.

Underground, different and cutting edge, the Garagiste Series provides a tasting experience unlike anything else. Committed to sharing and exploring the best of wine country, Gold Medal Wine Club has once again created a wine series that can’t be missed in the Garagiste Series.

Garagiste Info Image

Wine Country Fun: Napa Valley

The first few weeks of spring have come to a close and we couldn’t be more excited. With April just beginning, there is a whole new month of wine country activities to discover and enjoy! Continuing with our weekly spring time event series, we turn to the most prestigious of all California wine regions: the Napa Valley.

Napa Valley Arts in April

Throughout the month of April, the valley will be celebrating Napa Valley Arts in April. With more than 75 wineries featuring art on display through the year, this is the perfect time for art and wine lovers to visit the Napa Valley and enjoy special tastings, art installations and exclusive art events. Arts in April provides visitors with special access and packages to enjoy the Napa Valley Collection.  A collection of featured galleries throughout the valley, the Napa Valley Collection gives interested visitors a great online resource for curated tours, attractions and information on cultural and art districts in the Napa Valley.

The Napa Valley Collection

Winemakers and vineyards throughout the valley will be offering special tastings and art events to celebrate Arts in April. With great boutique wineries like Lewis Cellars and Sojourn Cellars, we have featured in our Platinum Series Wine Club, located in the heart of the Napa Valley, the marriage of great wine and great art is the perfect wine country escape.

A cultural and wine making center of the world, the Napa Valley is an experience that wine lovers simply cannot miss. From the quiet streets of Downtown Napa, to the sprawling hills of wine country, there is so much to see and do for the travelling wine lover. New and returning guests to the Napa Valley will find plenty to love about the Arts in April event. Wine and art, the perfect combination!

Wine Country Fun: Santa Barbara County

For four days, visitors to Santa Barbara Wine Country get to enjoy the best of the California wine scene at the Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend. From the 10th of April, to the 13th, wine lovers from across the country gather to experience the best in winemaker diners, tasting room open houses, vineyard walks and so much more!

SB Vintners Spring Weekend Image

With more than 100 different wineries participating, there will be no shortage of wine and wine related activities for festival goers. The weekend culminates on the 12th, with the Santa Barbara Vintners Festival Grand Tasting. Local wineries, restaurants and even local musicians will all gather in Buellton to celebrate and toast to a fabulous spring time in wine country.

2013 Spring Vintners' Festival at the Mission Santa Ines

Although the grand tasting is the main event, there is so much more to enjoy throughout the weekend. From a golf tournament, to Farm-to-table picnics and a concert event, there is no shortage of wine country entertainment for the travelling wine lover. With fantastic Central Coast weather, wines and fun, the Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend promises to be

Here are a few events planned for that weekend with some of our favorite and most recently featured Santa Barbara wineries:

Vineyard Hike with Wine at Refugio Ranch Vineyards
1 – 3PM. Friday, April 11.  

Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard: Vineyard Walk, Scavenger Hunt, and Brunch
10:30AM – 1PM. Sunday, April 13.

Click here for more information on the Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend event schedule!

Wine Country Fun: Paso Robles

There is no better time for wine tasting than spring time. With warmer weather just around the corner, now is the time to pack your bags and go explore wine country! From the rolling hills of the Napa Valley, to the warmth of Temecula Valley, there is no shortage of things to see, taste and do in California wine country. Every week this spring, we will highlight the best in wine country events. First up, Paso Robles!

This May, Paso Robles will host the Paso Robles Wine Country 32nd Annual Wine Festival. With 4 days of wine events, from May 15th – 18th, there will be so much to see and taste. Quickly gaining recognition as one of the best wine regions in California, the wines from Paso Robles boast rich and vibrant flavor profiles. Opolo Vineyards, recently featured in our Gold Series, is one of the area’s most popular wineries and a wine like their 2010 Merlot proves just that.

Paso Wine Fest 2014 Blog Banner

In addition to the Grand Tasting, Winemaker Dinners and RESERVE event, more than 130 wineries will be hosting events at their vineyards for festival goers to enjoy. Previously featured wineries like Castoro Cellars and Cass Winery are inviting guests for fun weekend activities, like Yoga in the Vines and Farm to Table Winemaker Dinners.

Fans of California winemaking will find something to love at the Paso Robles Wine Country 32nd Annual Wine Festival. Great wines, great food and great weather should be enough to get any wine lover on the road to this fantastic event!

Good News on the Horizon for Santa Barbara Wine Country

Despite one of the driest years in California history, Santa Barbara winemakers are pleased to see both a strong yield and good quality of grape from the 2013 harvest. In fact, many reports put the 4.23 million tons of grapes harvested in 2013 up 5% from the 4.02 million tons harvested in 2012. Santa Barbara winemakers are hailing the exceptional quality of the grapes, especially the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varietals.

Yield Blog 1

Yield Blog 2What does all this mean for wine lovers across the country? Well, despite severe drought conditions across the California agricultural landscape, California winemakers are still harvested more wine grapes than ever before, and with great quality. Industry experts have also said that the state’s overall large crop will result in high-quality 2013 vintage wines, sold at great prices.

So, never fear! The California drought hasn’t slowed down the hardworking Santa Barbara winemakers and they are still churning out some of the best, most well regarded wine in the state. A Superb example of wine from this region,  Fess Parker’s Ashley’s 2010 Pinot Noir, was produced by Blair Fox  (Andre Tchelistcheff Winemaker of the Year) from hand-selected Grapes from Ashley’s Vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills appellation. The Fess Parker ‘Ashley’s’ Pinot Noir is one of the winery’s most consistently awarded wines and was recently featured in our Platinum Series Wine Club. With great wines being produced by local Santa Barbara wineries, such as Buttonwood Farm WineryRefugio Ranch Vineyard and Fess Parker Winery there is no telling just how good these 2013 vintages will be!

The Garagiste Festival – Celebrating the Artisan Winemaker

The Garagiste Festivals ( are the first and only wine festivals dedicated to the undiscovered and under-recognized artisan ‘garagiste’ producers who are making some of the best, most exciting, handcrafted small-lot production wines in the world. Founded by fellow garagistes Stewart McLennan and Douglas Minnick, the Garagiste Festivals are committed to discovering the best and most innovative limited-production winemakers and promoting and showcasing them to a broad audience of discerning wine consumers. In addition to its flagship annual festival in Paso Robles, CA, the Garagiste Festival line-up includes Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure, featuring Santa Ynez Valley garagistes; garagiste mini-tastings presented from So Cal to Tahoe; winemaker dinners, a newsletter, garagiste profiles and more. Named one of the “Top Nine Incredible Epicurean Vacations” by ABC News**, Garagiste Festivals are produced by Garagiste Events, a non-profit dedicated to furthering the education of future winemakers and those training for employment within the wine industry. Proceeds from the festivals are donated to the Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture Program.

Garagiste Festival


Over 30 of Santa Ynez Valley’s high-quality, small-production winemakers to pour at Veteran’s Hall in Solvang.

Garagiste Events today announced the return of one of its most successful events, The Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure, which will feature over 30 of Santa Ynez Valley’s high-quality, small-production winemakers, all pouring under one roof on March 29th, 2014, in Solvang, CA. The non-profit festival sold out last year, and was announced in Paso Robles at the annual Garagiste Festival, which also sold out for the third year in a row. Southern Exposure will once again take place at the beautiful, Mission-style Veterans Memorial Hall in the heart of Solvang, California, and, like all Garagiste Events festivals, will incorporate the festival’s signature high-quality wines, personal winemaker interaction and renegade spirit.


“As we hammer another sold-out sign into the ground outside our Paso Robles Garagiste Festival, we are thrilled to announce that the Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure will return this Spring,” said Garagiste Festival co-founder Doug Minnick. “There is no shortage of extraordinary garagiste winemakers on the Central Coast and, as we again turn our sights 100 miles south, we look forward to introducing garagiste fans to some new discoveries and ‘old’ favorites in Solvang. The excitement about this movement continues to grow as does the quality and diversity of the artisan winemakers who participate in our events. Get your tickets early, we will sell out fast.”

The non-profit Garagiste Festivals showcase high-quality, cutting-edge, small-production wineries that produce fewer than 1,200 cases a year and have emerged as among the most unique and influential wine events in the US. Named one of the ‘Top Nine Incredible Epicurean Vacations’ in the world by ABC News* and a ‘not to miss’ event by the LA Times, the festivals have introduced over 150 outstanding artisan winemakers to thousands of passionate wine consumers, members of the trade and media, raising the profiles of many of the winemakers nationally for the first time and raising thousands of dollars for the education of future winemakers.

For more information on The Garagiste Festivals, go to



GARAGISTES – (gar-uh-zhē-stuh) n, Fr. – A term originally used in the Bordeaux region of France to denigrate renegade small-lot wine makers, sometimes working in their garage, who refused to follow the “rules.” Garagistes is Now a full-fledged movement responsible for making some of the best wine in the world. Who’s laughing now, Francois? Syn: Rule-breakers, pioneers, renegades, mavericks, driven by passion.

Campus Oaks Winery

Well the recent shipment of this month’s Gold Series has already disappeared from our Cellar. This month featured 2 selections from Campus Oaks Winery, the Old Vine Zinfandel and a barrel fermented Chardonnay from 2012.

You might also find it interesting that this winery is located in Stockton, California. And, it’s the only winery in the area!

The winery’s signature wine – Old Vine Zinfandel – comes from 80+ year-old vines in the Gnekow family’s Lodi vineyard.

Click here to read the full Newsletter on Campus Oaks Winery.

And Click here to reorder and stock up:

2010 Campus Oaks Old Vine Zinfandel

2012 Campus Oaks Barrel Fermented Chardonnay

Campus Oaks old vine Zinfandel

Ballard Lane Wines – Award-winning wines at a super value

Ballard Lane Wines is a recent entry into the California wine industry, and has made incredible strides since its inception in late 2011. At that time, a mere two hundred cases were released that were intended for the California on premise restaurant market.

Our Gold Club members were recently treated to two selections –  a 2011 Pinot Noir and a 2011 Sauvignon Blanc. Both are available in our wine store for reordering as well.


Ballard Lane 2011 Sauvignon Blanc



Craft Beer Club

Did you know that we also offer a monthly club for Beer? Craft Beer Club started about 2 years ago, and can be found over here:

Beer of the Month Club

We featured craft beers from around the country that you normally won’t find in your local shop. It’s a great way to try out different breweries and different beer styles. If you sign up for a 12 month subscription, we’ll send 3 free gifts with your first order. There’s still time to get the first shipment before Christmas, but you need to hurry and order now. Also we have free gift cards you can customize for your gift recipient.

Beer of the Month Club