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The Freewheel line with a couple of English friends.

It takes a lot of beer to keep the wine business running smoothly. Here in Redwood City, we are very fortunate to have a great English style ale producer right in our backyard: Freewheel Brewing Company. The staff of K&L are fictures at our local pub, and it is a rare moment when one of us isn't there having a pint and a bite of their excellent food. We are also lucky enough to be the first place to offer their bottled beer for sale. If you have never had it, the Freewheel Brewing "FSB" Freewheel Special Bitter, California (500ml) is the benchmark in fresh, balanced, smashable ale. We will do our best to keep some in stock for you, the customer too!

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We host regular weekly and Saturday wine tastings in each K&L location.

For the complete calendar, including lineups and additional details related to our events, visit our K&L Local Events on or follow us on Facebook.  


Visit our events page on Facebook or the K&L Spirits Journal for more information.

>>Upcoming Special Events, Dinners, and Tastings

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Entries in Alsace (3)


Domain Weinbach Faller, a legacy

At the base of the Schlossberg hill, lies the Clos des Capucins, a monastery built in 1612, and later named Weinbach (wine brook) after the stream that meanders through the five hectare parcel. In 1898, it was purchased by the Faller brothers, who left it to Theo Faller, late husband to the lovely Collette, and father to daughters Catherine and Laurence. After his passing in 1979 the three ladies took over the estate and continued the high standards that had been set by the previous generations.

Click to read more ...


Behind the Wine: Claiborne & Churchill

Claiborne & Churchill is a small, family owned and operated winery in the heart of the Edna Valley that specializes in Alsatian-style Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Gris, as well as handcrafted Pinot Noir from several nearby vineyards. Small lots of other wines, including a Dry Muscat, Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sparkling Brut Rose, and dessert-style wines are also produced.

By: Sarah Covey | K&L Staff Member

Claiborne & Churchill

Founded in 1983 by Claiborne (Clay) Thompson and Fredericka Churchill, former teachers at the University of Michigan (Clay specialized in Old Norse Languages and Literatures and Fredericka taught German), the winery focuses on Alsatian varietals in the first straw bale winery in California. Grapes are purchased from premium growers around the cool Edna Valley, with 2/3 of the production being dry Riesling and dry Gewürztraminer.

At Claiborne & Churchill, traditional European winemaking techniques prevail, including extensive use of barrel-fermentation and barrel-aging (even with Riesling and Gewürztraminer), minimal manipulation of juice and wine, "natural" or spontaneous fermentation using indigenous yeast, and limited use of SO2, all in the belief that the winemaker's task is to bring out the flavor and character that is latent in the grape.

San Luis Obispo native Colby Parker- Garcia came on board in 2004 as Claiborne & Churchill’s winemaker, learning from Clay all of the techniques required for the success of the unique varietals which are the winery’s signature.

2011 Claiborne & Churchill Central Coast Dry Muscat ($24.99)

A lovely expression of Dry Muscat! All the pretty varietal characteristics- orange blossom, citrus, spice, cardamom, apricot- with perfectly balanced medium plus acidity and a clean, bright finish. No flab or syrupy fattiness here. Just 13.5% alcohol- perfect for warm spring & summer evenings on the terrace, with perhaps a little grilled shrimp or chicken satay! Delicious! 

2010 Claiborne & Churchill Edna Valley Pinot Noir ($24.99)

The Pinot Noir referred to as "The Classic", a perfect expression of Pinot Noir varietal correctness. Red cherry, red currant, strawberry, spice with medium plus acidity & medium tannin. So easy to drink, you may just want to get this wine in large quantity for spring and summer entertaining. Grilled salmon or pork tenderloin, anyone? FABULOUS!

2010 Claiborne & Churchill "Runestone Barrel Select" Edna Valley Pinot Noir ($39.99)

If the Claiborne & Churchill Edna Valley Pinot Noir is "The Classic", then Runestone is definitely the sexy older sister! A barrel selection from the 2010 vintage blended by winemaker Coby Parker-Garcia, this wine gorgeous. Red cherry, sandalwood, red roses, spice, with medium plus acidity & medium plus tannin. Drink now with decanting and food (hello Salmon or Pork!) or tuck away to be delighted even more in 5 years! As mysterious & complex as the ancient Norse runes afterwhich it was named! 

New releases of additional Claiborne & Churchill wines will be coming soon to our shelves. Stay tuned...

We hope you enjoy these wines are much as we do!



 Claiborne & Churchill's winery is a "new structure, a noteworthy example of environmental architecture, is a "straw bale building," the first of its kind in California. With sixteen-inch thick walls made of bales of rice straw, the winery is so well insulated that it maintains a constant cellar temperature, without the need for mechanical cooling or heating." (from the winery)

Want to learn more about Claiborne & Churchill? Click here.


Asparagus is Okay 

Taste | Explore | Enjoy

Personal Sommelier Online

April 2010

Are you afraid of asparagus? Fear not, dear wine lover - there are many wines out there that make wonderful pairings with asparagus and the other fresh vegetables of spring. If you see asparagus in your future, are vegetarian/vegan, or are simply interested in trying veggie-friendly wines from all over the world, you can create your own personalized wine club through the K&L Personal Sommelier Service.

 April 1, 2010

Asparagus is Okay

There, I said it.

For the farmers’ market obsessed, April means one thing: asparagus! For the food-and-wine-obsessed, April can present a pairing conundrum: asparagus?

This herbaceous perennial native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa has been appreciated for its flavor, health benefits and ability to grow in soils where no other vegetable will grow (okay, and its shape) since the ancient Egyptians. It is also notorious for containing a chemical that reacts negatively with compounds in wine, particularly tannic reds and oaked whites. 

But guess what? Asparagus is okay.

The world of wine is big.  There are lots of asparagus-friendly options out there.  To get your asparagus juices flowing, look to regions in Europe where asparagus is traditionally cultivated and consumed (with obsession, in some cases). You're guaranteed to find tasty wines to match.   

The White Stuff

White asparagus is king in the classic white wine producing regions of Germany and Alsace, France. It is less acidic and herbaceous than green asparagus, and has mellower flesh and subtle sweetness in flavor that drive the locals wild. White asparagus is harder to cultivate because the spears must be grown without exposure to the sun.

Such is the passion for the spear in this part of the world that it comes as no surprise that the local Riselings make great asparagus pairings. If dry is your style, go for a classic Alsacian bottle, like the 2008 Roland Schmitt "Glintzberg" Riesling. This crisp, broad Riesling has the right balance of acidity and richness on the mid-palate to complement white asparagus served a number of ways, from simply prepared and drizzled with vinaigrette to the hearty classic Alsatian dish asperges jambon—ham and asparagus. 

If you like your white asparagus with creamy hollandaise sauce, then consider a German Riesling from the Rheingau, where both ripeness and acidity are emphasized. The 2007 Josef Leitz "Magic Mountain" Riesling Trocken is an exceptional drier option that will play well with a variety of asparagus preparations.  Leitz's Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg Riesling Spätlese, possessing added complexity and weight, will take your cream of asparagus soup to a whole new level. All three of these Rieslings also complement spicy flavors, so you can be more adventurous with your asparagus and still stay safe on the wine front.

Going Green

Easier to cultivate than white asparagus, green asparagus is the more common variety and can be found in markets all over the world pretty much year round, although its season in the northern hemisphere is typically April through June.  The arrival of garden-fresh asparagus to market in April often coincides with the beginning of spring and the celebration of Easter in many western cultures. As a result, asparagus is often featured on traditional spring and specifically Easter menus, especially in France and Italy, where there is no disputing its consumption with the local red wine.

A good rule of thumb when dealing with tricky vegetables is to opt for balanced, fruity, medium-bodied reds with some complexity and spice that aren't too tannic, like the Grenache-based blends of the Southern Rhone.  The 2006 Moulin de la Gardette “Cuvée Ventabren” Gigondas, for example, is a real beauty, with a nose of provencal herbs and ripe black and red berry fruit, a textured mid-palate and a long-lasting, savory finish.  With fine, sweet tannins and loads of fruit, this promises to please everyone at the table, even when sparagus is involved.

More structured wines can also complement menus featuring asparagus, depending on its preparation and the weight and style of the other dishes. My go-to in this case would be Piedmont, where a light and fruity Dolcetto, like the 2006 Bricco del Cucù "Bricco San Bernardo" Dogliani makes a safe but satisfying pairing with asparagus prepared simply, with or without the accompaniment of meat. 

For menus featuring bolder flavors and richer textures - think grilled asparagus and herb-roasted lamb - many options present themselves. There's Cote Rotie, California Cabernet, Aussie Shiraz...but my heart is still with Piedmont. I'd go with Nebbiolo - either a young, fresh and mineral-driven effort like the 2007 Ruggeri Corsini Nebbiolo d'Alba, which, though simpler than big brother Barolo, offers incredible value for the price, or (of course) Barolo. But Barolo that is ready-to-drink now, like the 2003 Elio Grasso Barolo Gavarini "Chinera." In the youthful Corsini, acidity is key. This wine cuts right through the fat, and its tart cherry and earthy flavors provide the ideal backdrop for the smokey and savory flavors of the dish to pop. In the Grasso, the initially super-ripe fruit and upfront tannins have softened with bottle age, and the resulting wine showcases leathery flavors and smokey complexity, complementing - rather than contrasting - the gamey, smokey, and vegetal flavors of the herb-lamb-asparagus combination. Either way, it's a win-win in my book.

At the end of the day, the winning pairing is really what makes YOU happy. Just remember, asparagus is okay.


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