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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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Entries in K&L Redwood City (5)


Behind the Wine: Bruce Neyers and Neyers Vineyards

Naturally good. A tasting of Neyers current releases will be taking place this Friday April 8th at 5pm at K&L Redwood City.

Join us this Friday, April 8th at 5 p.m. in Redwood City as we welcome David Pflaum of Neyers Vineyards and taste some amazing natural wines!

What: Neyers Vineyards Tasting

When: Friday, April 8th, 5-6:30 p.m.  

Where: K&L Redwood City

Cost of Tasting: $5 

Bruce and Barbara Neyers founded Neyers Vineyards in 1992. They produce about 15,000 cases of wine each year; 25% is Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grown on their 50-acre, organically farmed Conn Valley ranch. They source fruit from a select group of growers as well (such as the Sangiacomo family in Carneros, Will Nord of Napa, and Rossi Ranch of Sonoma County) to produce their other sought-after white and red wines.

In anticipation of this tasting, we reached out to none other than Bruce Neyers himself for some background. In the interview below, Bruce remarks on his career as a winemaker and provides insight into what it means to him to be "natural" in the wine business today.

Behind the Wine: Q&A with Bruce Neyers

Bruce Neyers crafts natural wines in Napa Valley

K&L: How did you get into the wine business?

Bruce: I went into the army after college, and was eventually assigned to the Presidio of San Francisco in May 1970. I made friends there with a colleague who had worked for a wine importing company in San Francisco before going into the army. He introduced me to the owner, and I started hanging out there on weekends helping them move wine and unload containers. They paid me in wine. A year later when I was discharged, I mentioned to the owner that my wife and I were debating the advantages of staying in the San Francisco area versus returning to the East Coast to take up my old job -- as a plastics engineer in a chemical plant -- and he suggested that if I were to stick around, they would teach me the wine business. I stayed, and worked for them for a year before getting a job in the Napa Valley working for a small winery. We moved to Napa and I went back to school at UC Davis on a weekend work-study program. After two years there, I got a job in Germany working at a winery so we moved there for a year.

How has your experience working for (respected wine importer) Kermit Lynch shaped your winemaking philosophy?

Bruce: We work with over 120 different family-owned wine businesses at KLWM, and I have become friendly with many of the families. Over the past two decades, 20-30 of them have sent their sons and daughters to live with my wife and me and work at the winery. They completely live their lives immersed in the various aspects of the business, and I've admired that. They work with their wines from the ground up, beginning in the vines, then in the cellar, and then at the table. Kermit looks for that in a producer, this total immersion. I suspect he ties that to overall wine quality, and if there is anything that Kermit is about, it is wine quality. That's the philosophical part of it but through Kermit I have also learned a great deal about what a high quality wine tastes like. After you try a Chablis from Raveneau or a Burgundy from Méo-Camuzet, you have a frame of reference, an objective to seek.

How do you you define the terms "natural" and "organic" when applied to wine?

Natural to me means the absence of interference. We ferment every wine with the yeasts that are on the grapes. We never filter or fine red wines, and filter white wines only when it is essential to their stability (to avoid malolactic fermentation in the bottle, for example). Organic defines our vineyard operations, as we are certified organic grape growers, and that involves the absence of herbicides and pesticides, and to the extent that fertilizer may be used, that they are developed organically, rather than in a laboratory. We don't make organic wine because to do so prohibits the use of sulfur dioxide. I don't think there are more than two dozen winemakers in the world who truly make drinkable organic wines, and those that do it successfully are constantly having the wines exposed to conditions for which they are not suited. At Neyers we grow organic grapes, and then make natural wines from them.

What are some of the challenges Neyers confronts in making natural wine?

Natural winemaking is loaded with risks, it costs more to do it, and it takes more time. The results, however, are well worth the investment of time, energy and resources.

What is your position on wine pairing and what do you like to pair your wines with?

I tend to be pretty open-minded about wine matching and follow only the broadest and most general. I think red wine goes well with almost everything -- except perhaps oysters -- and I drink some every day. A glass or two of white wine is normally plenty, and if I am eating something that might go better with white wine, I'll still move into red wine to finish it off. Fortunately, my wife is a fabulous cook and even her white wine meals have some opening for red.

What did you drink last night? (Or the last time you had a glass of wine that wasn't your own?)

After two glasses of 2009 Reverdy Sancerre last night, Barbara and I shared a bottle of 2009 Marcel Lapierre Morgon. Barbara made this absolutely fabulous potato side dish based upon the potatoes at Lameloise Restaurant in Chagny. Where? We ate at home. I just returned from two weeks in France and Italy on Sunday, and dinner at home for the next couple of nights is essential.

Can you share with us some tips on how we can be "greener" drinkers day-to-day, whether we're out on the town or enjoying wine at home?

 Great question. There is no substitute for a good wine merchant or a good sommelier, and they will frequently be able to guide you to the wines they sell that are either naturally made or produced from organically grown grapes. The rules in Europe relating to the term organic are different than they are here, so we rarely see organically produced wines made in the US. In France, if you grow the grapes organically, then the wine is by definition organic. I try to support both organic and naturally made wines, but many of my favorite natural wines are neither organic nor made from organic grapes. Still, I feel, if they are naturally made that is important. Lapierre, for example, makes the equivalent of a truly organic Morgon, but we sell it only at the retail shop in Berkeley because it is too fragile to ship around the US and it rarely makes a voyage successfully. I'm inclined to try first for natural and sustainable, and don't put much emphasis on the organically produced aspects of winemaking. It's important to keep in mind that 1961 Lynch Bages -- one of my favorite all time wines -- is neither organic nor natural. But it's brilliant.

Shop Neyers Vineyards Wines on

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Chiara Shannon


Bordeaux Tastings Saturday at All K&L Locations

Whatever your plans are for the weekend, make sure you set aside enough time to attend the Bordeaux tasting at the K&L store nearest you. Our Bordeaux team has been working diligently to put together a list of wines to taste that will appeal to Bordeaux afficiandoes, and be a great jumping off point to those looking to explore the region. And, because we're between vintages, you'll have the opportunity to taste wines from as far back as the 1962 vintage (if you're in Redwood City). Aged Bordeaux is where it's at, so if you've never gotten the chance to taste something other than the current release, this is a tasting series you won't want to miss. For more information on K&L in-store tasting and special events, visit our Local Events page or call your local store.
At K&L Hollywood (3-5:30 p.m.) Steve Greer will be pouring:
2008 Ch. Bonnet Blanc
2008 Ch. Ormes de Pez 
2005 Ch. La Bienfaisance
2005 Clos Marsalette
2001 Ch. Camensac
1999 Ch. Kirwan
1998 Ch. Lalande-Borie
1994 Ch. Ormes de Pez
1993 Ch. Léoville-Barton
2006 Ch. Doisy-Védrines
At K&L San Francisco (12-3 p.m.) Steve Bearden will be pouring:
2007 Ch. L'Avocat Blanc
2007 Ch. Lafaurie-Peyraguey
1999 Ch. Haut-Bailly
1994 Ch. Corbin Michotte
2005 Ch. Clos Marsalette
2005 Ch. La Bienfaisance
2008 Ch. Lugagnac
2006 Ch. La Fleur de Boüard
2008 Ch. Tour maillet
2004 Ch. Cos d'Estournel
And, at K&L Redwood City (1-4 p.m.) Ralph Sands will be pouring: 
2007 Ch. L'Avocat Blanc
2009 Ch. Belian Giraud
2009 Ch. de Colombier
2005 Ch. La Bienfaisance
2005 Ch. Clos Marsalette
2004 Ch. Cos d'Estournel
2003 Ch. d'Angludet
1991 Ch. Léoville-Las Cases
1981 Ch. Léoville-Las Cases
2007 Ch. Lafaurie-Peyraguey 
1962 Ch. Doisy-Védrines (Only one bottle will be poured; so be early.)


Leah Greenstein



Behind the Wine: Keith Hock and Schramsberg 

Schramsberg winemaker Keith Hock "sabers" open a bottle of Schramsberg Brut Rosé at *Taste of Vail* in April of last year. The technique of using a saber to open a bottle of sparkling is called "sabrage" and became popular in France during the reign of Napolean. Photo by Dominique Taylor/Vail Daily.

It is easy to miss the sign marking Schramsberg Road while zooming north on Highway 29, just outside the town of St. Helena.  Though Schramsberg is one of the oldest wineries in the Napa Valley (established by German immigrant Jacob Schram in 1862), it is not by any stretch of the imagination the most opulent or advertised.  You can see the neighboring V. Sattui castle from across the valley, and you have to be blind to miss the historic Beringer property on the edge of town, but on any given day a good percentage of the calls to the Schramsberg front desk are from would-be visitors parked on the side of the road in Calistoga, wondering where they went wrong. I know because I used to answer that phone.

Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs was the first American sparkling wine to be served at U.S. diplomatic events (for Richard Nixon's "Toast to Peace" in Beijing in 1972) and remains the White House's house sparkler.

The reason Schramsberg doesn't need a big sign or a castle is simple: méthode Champenoise, and the tradition of style and class that Shramsberg's founders, the late Jack and Jamie Davies, built into the brand over the years. The Davies' purchased the old Schram property as a fixer-upper in 1965, and by 1972 had  given it new life as the first winery in America to produce sparkling wine by the same method as in Champagne, using the traditional Champagne grape varietals Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  Visitors to Schramsberg's historic wine caves (the original caves were hand-dug in the late 1800s!) get to witness first-hand the labor-intensive steps of sparkling wine production, including the process of riddling the bottles to concentrate the dead yeast cells for removal during disgorging.  At Schramsberg, riddling is still done by hand. 

While the idea of a cave-dwelling riddler spinning still wine into sparkling has a certain fairy tale quality to it, you can't produce first class bubbles without starting with a first class wine, and Keith Hock is the man we have to thank for that.  Keith oversees everything that happens in the winery, from crush through primary fermentation and the all-important step of assembling the cuveés (assemblage) which are the final blends that get bottled and undergo the rest of production in the bottle.  Since each vineyard source delivers unique fruit each vintage, and Schramsberg produces vintage sparkling wines each year (with the exception of the nonvintage Mirabelle line and the ultra premium J. Schram Brut Rosé, which is only made in exceptional years) Keith must craft final blends made from individually fermented blocks that are reflective of the vintage but stay true to the style of the wine for which they are destined, from the flagship Blanc de Blancs to the premium J Schram.   

We are thrilled to welcome Keith to our San Francisco tasting bar this Thursday, February 10 at 5 p.m. and to our Redwood City tasting bar this Friday, February 11th at 5 p.m. for special Pre-Valentine's Day Bubbly Tasting.  In anticipation of the occasion, we thought you might want to get to know the man behind the bubbly a little. Here, Keith dishes on bubbly, biking, and where to get a good bite off-the-beaten-path in Napa:

Behind the Wine: Winemaker Interview with Keith Hock

K&L: How did you get into the wine business?

KH: I was living in France racing bicycles for a French cycling team. The team Soignier educated me on the wines from the different growing areas in France, however, it wasn’t until I moved back to the US, and to Napa, CA that I discovered that I could earn a degree in winemaking. 

K&L: How long have you been making wine at Schramsberg?

KH: I have been with Schramsberg since 2002.

Did you always want to make sparkling wine? 

No, I have worked for several other wineries. However, I enjoy Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, so Schramsberg is a perfect match.

What are some winemaking challenges unique to sparkling wine production?

The challenge with making sparkling wine is that it’s a labor intensive product, where each bottle of wine has to be touched numerous times prior to the wine being released for sale.

What makes Schramsberg unique?

Schramsberg is unique for several reasons: there is the  history of the property, being the second oldest winery in Napa Valley, in addition to our caves and hillside vineyards. We have stayed true to the mission that Jack and Jamie Davies set out to do in 1965 when they re-established Schramsberg as a sparkling wine house--making the absolute best vintage sparkling wines year in and year out. There is a tremendous amount of pride, respect and heritage that goes into each and every bottle of Schramsberg wine!

What did you drink last night? (Or the last time you had a glass of wine that wasn’t your own?)

Last night I had a glass of Argentinean Malbec, Tierra Secreta.

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

Wine and food are a natural. Pairing brings out flavors in both the food and wine that aren’t there without the other.  Sparkling wine and Kettle style salted potato chips are a savory pairing! (Thanks for the tip!)

What are some of your favorite restaurants?

We are fortunate to have so many fine restaurant in the Napa Valley, a few new ones that I like are Bistro Sabor, it casual and fun, [and] ZUZU for tapas. There are too many to name, "spoiled" comes to mind when I think of all the restaurants.

What advice do you have to offer people just getting into wine?

Don’t be afraid, be open-minded and try any and everything. Wine is an exciting and interactive experience.



What: Pre-Valentines Day Bubbly Tasting with Schramsberg Winemaker Keith Hock


When/Where: Thursday, February 10th, 5-6:30 p.m. at K&L San Francisco and Friday, February 11th, 5pm-6:30pm at K&L Redwood City




Visit the K&L Local Events page for updates on this event and to check out all upcming K&L events and tastings!

We look forward to seeing you!

Chiara Shannon