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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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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.

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Entries in Bordeaux blends (6)


Behind the Wine: 2009 Opus One Video with Winemaker Michael Silacci 

If Napa Valley had an Official Wine Classification of 1985 (a century after the famous 1885 Classification in Bordeaux), Opus One, the legendary joint venture between Robert Mondavi and the Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Bordeaux's Mouton-Rothschild, would most certainly have ranked among the elite. Launched in 1984 with the dual release of the 1979 and 1980 vintages, Opus One has been the standard-bearer of American ultra-premium wine for more than 30 years and continues to be highly sought after by wine collectors and enthusiasts around the world. Modeled on the tradition of its famous First Growth parent, it is always a proprietary blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Malbec.

In this video, winemaker Michael Silacci tastes and comments on the 2009 Opus One. Watch the video and read on for links and information about the wine, in stock now at K&L!  

2009 Opus One Napa Valley Proprietary Red Wine ($199) is now available at K&L.The 2009 Opus One Napa Valley ($199) is composed of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot, 3% Merlot and 1% Malbec.  The fruit comes from three meticulously managed vineyards in Napa Valley; it is all hand-sorted and moved gently, by gravity, from the destemmer to stainless steel fermenting tanks. And since there is only one Opus One, each fermentation tank is dedicated to a single lot, allowing the wine to develop at its own pace, drawing color and extracting beautiful flavor.

Notes on the 2009 Vintage from Opus One

After two consecutive rainless springs, Opus One's vineyards received almost six inches of rain in the spring of 2009. Cultivation and irrigation were adjusted to increase vine vigor and yield, striking a delicate balance in growing leaves adequate for photosynthesis but not so numerous as to mask fruit and over-emphasize herbal characters.  The vintage saw cool temperatures during bloom and maturation with two short heat spells in September. The harvest began on September 21st under clear blue skies and concluded on October 20th after a record rainfall for October—obliging round-the-clock work to an exhilarating finish.  

Bid on older vintages of Opus One online at K&L Auctions! Aromas of black olive and minerals underlie more traditional notes of dark chocolate, cola and espresso in the 2009 Opus One. The wine’s sleek, creamy entry is supported by crisp acidity and a polished, supple mouthfeel. Flavors of ripe blueberry, cassis and licorice emerge on the palate. This tautly elegant and age-worthy wine simultaneously offers a smooth finish and a slight grip of tannin at the close.

During fermentation and maceration, component lots received an average of 20 days of skin contact prior to 17 months of barrel aging in new French oak.  Judicious care and perfect growing conditions for Cabernet Franc resulted in a blend with the highest percentage of that varietal in the winery’s history. Bottled a year and a half prior to its release, the 2009 Opus One is comprised of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot, 3% Merlot, and 1% Malbec."

Shop Opus One now on 

Look for the QR code on the back label of each bottle of Opus One and scan with a smart phone to view 2009 Opus One videos and tasting notes.


{Terra Ignota}:World-Beating Bordeaux Blends From New Zealand!?

Everyone knows NZ’s staple Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Pinot Noir is also definitely making it’s self known as another NZ varietal with world class potential that can be very elegant, even Burgundian in style. However, it is another region with other varieties that may be New Zealand’s most exciting export: enter the hearty reds of the Gimblett Gravels. Situated in Hawkes Bay, this region enjoys a warmer climate than much of NZ and the growing area is a low lying plain on the dryer east coast. Proximity to the ocean also plays a role moderating the temperatures in both winter and summer. Within this region lies the unique growing district of the Gimblett Gravels.

This area has remarkably deep and dense gravel soil deposited by the Ngaruroro River.  In the late 19th century, a huge flood caused the river to change course leaving the original gravel riverbed high and dry. The soil is so poor here it is remarkable that anything can grow. However, as we know, our friend the vine flourishes in these types of challenging environments. Much of the area is planted to Bordeaux varietals drawing on the similarities to the deep gravel soils of the left bank and especially Graves in Bordeaux. Syrah also does especially well here.

Situated at the heart of this region is NZ's oldest winery, Mission Estate. Founded in 1851, this property makes a range of wines that illustrate the potential of this world-class terroir. At a recent comparative tasting in Hong Kong hosted by Master of Wine Lisa Perrotti-Brown, eight Gimblett Gravels wines were lined up against eight of the top Bordeaux producers. Mission Estates proprietary wine “The Jewelstone” came in third, beaten out only by Haut-Brion and Chateau Mouton, finishing the blind tasting ahead of Lafite, Latour and Margaux as judged by 40 of the worlds top wine professionals. A pretty good showing when you consider this wines price tag: $31.99!

We have just received a limited number of the 2009 “Jewelstone”, it is comprised of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc. “Deep garnet-purple color and complex scents of black currant, warm blackberries and anise with nuances of dried plums, cinnamon stick, dark chocolate and vanilla. Concentrated and full bodied in the mouth, it gives high acidity, firm very fine-grained tannins and a long spicy finish. Delicious now, it should evolve nicely through 2020+”Perrotti-Brown MW.

2009 Mission Estate "Jewelstone" Bordeaux Blend Hawkes Bay New Zealand $31.99

We also have other great wines from this exciting region:

2010 Craggy Range "Te Kahu" Bordeaux Blend Gimblett Gravels $18.99

2009 Mission Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Hawkes Bay $19.99

More will be following with Bilencia Syrah, Esk Valley and Te Mata wines all on their way to us, so watch this space!



Ryan Woodhouse

NZ & Aussie Wine Specialist

K&L Wine Merchants - Redwood City



Terra Ignota is Latin for "Unknown Land". It was the name for the South Pacific region during intial mapping and exploration of Australia and New Zealand. As we are going to be exploring new and exciting wines from this region, we think this is a fitting title for our blog series on wines from this part of the world. Stay tuned for more!


Behind the Wine: Sommelier Service at Justin

Justin Vineyards & Winery is one of the featured producers in the Paso Robles Wine Alliance Tastings taking place tonight at K&L RWC (7/14) at K&L SF and tomorrow (7/15) at K&L RWC.

Go to our event pages on Facebook and for more details!

               Inspired by the First Growths of Bordeaux, former investment banker Justin Baldwin founded JUSTIN with the goal of producing Bordeaux-styled wines in the US. "He came upon Paso Robles in his search for a place to do this," relates Jim Gerakaris, JUSTIN Certified Sommelier and Wine Educator, "and saw great potential with the soils and climate of the region." Image courtesy of JUSTIN.JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery is a family owned and operated winery making estate grown and produced wines in Paso Robles, CA. Founded in 1981 by Justin and Deborah Baldwin, JUSTIN began with 160 acres planted to the major Bordeaux varietals and the goal of producing wines in the style of the great wines of Bordeaux. In addition to estate wines, today JUSTIN also works with a handful of small growers in Paso Robles.  

Higher limestone concentration in the soils at JUSTIN "promotes higher drainage and lower nutrient value," explains Gerakaris, "which naturally reduces our yields, keeps the vines reaching into the ground for water and nutrients. Along with our large summer diurnal change in temperatures, these conditions produce an ideal, natural structure of acidity and tannins in our wines contributing to their balance, and longevity." Image courtest of JUSTIN.When JUSTIN started, there were fewer than 10wineries in Paso.  Since those early days the region has exploded to include hundreds of wineries, many of which produce modern, fruity wines meant for near-term consumption. The wines of Justin are different - classically styled, balanced and ageworthy. As a result, JUSTIN takes wine education and service very seriously, incorporating specialized sommelier services, department training, hospitality, and overall customer services to ensure their wines are appreciated to the fullest extent possible.

Whether you're not sure when to open that special bottle, looking to build a vertical collection, or are interested in learning more about wine in general, JUSTIN has many resources for you, from Master Sommelier Joseph Spellman, who heads up the Mid-West Marketing and Sales Department, to Jim Gerakaris, Certified Sommelier and Wine Educator on site at the estate and the subject of today's Behind the Wine interview below: 

Q&A with Jim Gerakaris, JUSTIN Certified Sommelier and Wine Educator 

How did JUSTIN get started?  What is your role?

My name is Jim Gerakaris, [and I'm] the Winery Certified Sommelier and Wine Educator here at JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery.  I work with our guests and various departments here at the winery to educate and provide information and training about our wines and wine in general.  I also manage our library and conduct educational reserve tastings that include everything from library wines to barrel samples, or both!

For cellaring advice, food and wine pairing tips, and other specialized sommelier services, guests to Justin in Paso Robles look to Certified Sommelier and Wine Educator Jim Gerakaris. JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery was founded by Justin Baldwin, a former investment banker who was so affected after tasting a few of the [Bordeaux's] 1st Growths that he decided to make a wine in that style here in the United States.  He came upon Paso Robles in his search for a place to do this and saw great potential with the soils and climate of the region.

How has the region of Paso Robles changed since JUSTIN was founded?  How has JUSTIN changed since then?

There were eight other wineries here when Justin Baldwin purchased the property.  They were growing mostly Zinfandel at that time and the idea of producing a high quality, Bordeaux-style wine was not a part of the mainstream thought.  The soils and climate are ideally suited to growing grapes with concentrated and complex fruit character, but with great balance, whether you are growing Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah.  We have grown steadily in size and in quality and you will see a continuation of this through our mission statement “to belong in the company of the finest wines in the world."

Describe the viticultural and winemaking philosophy at JUSTIN.

Justin studied the 1st Growth Bordeaux Château and used the same grape varieties, vineyard care, low yields, careful attention to the vines during the season, and hand harvesting when the grapes showed the highest promise for making balanced and ageworthy wines.  He also used many of the same cellar techniques typical to a high quality Bordeaux producer: specifically their attention to careful and ruthless sorting of the fruit, extended time with the skins and predominant use of the highest quality free-run wines to make the best blends. 

Where is JUSTIN located? What is it about this site that makes it uniquely suited to producing Bordeaux varietals?

Justin produces Bordeaux-styled wines that can be tannic when young and thus benefit from time in the cellar. Curious about when to open that bottle? Click on the image above to view the JUSTIN Ageing Chart. image courtesy of JUSTIN.We are located in the far western part of the Paso Robles AVA, about 15 miles west of the city of Paso Robles at about 1,200 to 1,900 feet above sea level.  This gives us slightly lower temperatures in the summer, and more rainfall in the winter.  Our soils have a high concentration of limestone from calcareous deposits formed when the area was under the oceans.  The uprising of the mountain range just west of us exposed this layer of almost solid limestone and it eroded from the mountains toward the city of Paso Robles. For this reason it is of a higher limestone concentration in the west than it is toward the city.  This higher limestone concentration provides our soil with good drainage and lower nutrient value that naturally reduces our yields, keeps the vines reaching into the ground for water and nutrients. Along with our large summer diurnal change in temperatures, these conditions produce an ideal, natural structure of acidity and tannins in our wines contributing to their balance, and longevity.

What do the words "organic," "biodynamic," and "sustainable" mean to you?  How are these practices applied at JUSTIN?

These are all valid methods to improve the quality of our wines.  In any endeavor, the materials you start with dictate the outcome of your work.  In food, the best, fresh, locally grown ingredients, selected at the peak of their condition, will always yield the best, most distinctive results in the finished dish.  Wine is no different, and the highest quality, grapes picked at the peak of their condition gives us the best result with little or no need to try and balance the wines made from them. 

JUSTIN employs practices from all three schools of production - organic, sustainable and biodynamic - in the vineyard and in the winery. "Our Vineyard Manager, Paul Kaselionis is an advocate of staying in touch with each of the blocks in the vineyard personally," says Gerakaris, "using minimal intervention for any problems that might arise." Image courtesy of JUSTIN.Organic, Biodynamic, and Sustainable practices all contribute to the health of a vineyard and subsequently the quality of the grapes we use for making our wines.  Their approaches may be slightly different, but the idea is similar: to provide the best fruit while promoting continued excellence in the future. 

Sustainable practices take a holistic approach toward everything done by the operation. Ideally this improves everything from the vineyard through the entire winery to assure that the vines, the people and the ecosystem surrounding all are maintained in a way that allows them to coexist indefinitely in balance. 

Organic addresses problem solving in the vineyard with "natural" intervention, when necessary, that is to say without the use of synthetic (especially petroleum-based) inputs. 

Biodynamic is a bit more all encompassing and proactive. It regards the health of the soils as the primary concern.  If the soil is healthy, the vines will thrive, if the vines thrive, the wines will be at their best, if the wines are at their best, the people who work for the winery will be well provided for, and consequently, the soils and vineyard will be well tended, completing the circle.  Biodynamics also incorporates a hyper- sensitivity to all conditions in the vineyard including things we cannot see, or always understand, but nevertheless need to be accepted in order to gain the overall benefits of the method.  This is where many people get a little skeptical about some aspects of Biodynamics (burying cow horns, phases of the moon, etc.), but the differences made  in just a few years practice can be substantial.

At JUSTIN, we have been using all of these methods to some degree, but we have not sought certification.  Almost half of our estate vineyard is on a biodynamic program, which includes spraying preparations, composting and pruning or even picking by the Biodynamic calendar.  Our Vineyard Manager, Paul Kaselionis is an advocate of staying in touch with each of the blocks in the vineyard personally, using minimal intervention for any problems that might arise. In essence we are using techniques from all three schools including techniques such as mechanical weeding, predatory bird control of rodents and composting.  In fact, what we have found is that as we get further into balancing these programs, we have had to do less direct intervention because the general health of the vineyard has been improving, and as a result, the quality of our grapes has improved.

What's your position on wine-pairing and what do you like to pair JUSTIN wines with?

Of course as a Certified Sommelier," explains Gerakaris, "I am always concerned about how our wines pair with food. One of the reasons both our Master Sommelier Joe Spellman and I are a part of our wine education staff, is that our wines are so well matched for food pairing." Above, visitors to JUSTIN enjoy JUSTIN food and wine pairings on the Patio at the estate. Image courtesy of JUSTIN.Of course as a Certified Sommelier, I am always concerned about how our wines pair with food.  One of the reasons both our Master Sommelier Joe Spellman and I are a part of our wine education staff, is that our wines are so well matched for food pairing.  Our "house style" is that of Bordeaux and of course these are very food friendly wines, especially after they are cellared for a few years.  The combination of our soils and climate here in Paso Robles gives us wines that have great concentration and complexity, but with a structure that balances the wines and allows them to be an elegant companion to food at the table.

For instance, we have a wine called SAVANT, which is a blend of mostly Syrah with about 25-35% Cabernet.  While there is full fruit intensity in this wine as well as an underpinning of deep spicy tones, the acidity and tannin structure help make the wine perfectly well behaved at the table, complimenting food instead of competing with it.  Because of the wonderful peppery aspect of the Syrah and a smoky spice that our barrel fermented Syrah adds to the blend, it goes well with lamb or game dishes, especially when herbs are added to the mix.

On the other end of the spectrum, our JUSTIN Cabernet Sauvignon  is our most popular and widely available wine.  A lighter styled cab, this wine is very popular in restaurants around the country since it complements, rather than competes with various dishes.  For about $25 it provides quality, balance and complexity rarely seen in this price range.

2008 Justin "Isosceles" Paso Robles Red Blend ($49.99; 91-93pts RP) is in stock and available now at!Our anchor wines are ISOSCELES and JUSTIFICATION, styled respectively after the Left and Right Bank wines of Bordeaux.  The ISOSCELES, with its primary Cabernet component, is the perfect match to a full flavored, grilled New York steak, while the Cabernet Franc based JUSTIFICATION is perfect with the more subtle offerings like fillet mignon, duck or pheasant.

What advice do you have to offer people interested in learning more about JUSTIN and the wines of Paso Robles?

Come out and see us!  I have traveled to many wine regions around the world and found that if you want to truly understand the soul of a particular wine or its region, you need to visit and see it in its natural element. 

We hold a number of educational tours and tastings at the winery; everything from our daily facility tour to special reserve tastings in our ISOSCELES library located 120 feet underground in our caves. To get a better idea of how our wines pair with various types of food, join us for dinner in our restaurant, where we feature our wines paired with a seasonal menu created by our Executive Chef, Will Torres.  We also offer lunch on our Wishing Well Patio on weekends.

During harvest, we offer guided tours of the production during the week so you can get a closer look at the care we take in harvesting and sorting our fruit, as well as a good look at our winemaking process.  For more information about any of these programs, just visit us at


What: Paso Robles Wine Alliance Tastings at K&L

When: 5pm-6:30pm Thursday 7/14 in San Francisco and Friday 7/15 in Redwood City

Where: K&L SF and K&L RWC

Details:  on facebook  on



Buy JUSTIN Wines now on

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