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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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Upcoming Events

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 Redwood City (7)


Santa Cruz Mountains Retrospective Dinner

Wednesday was a special night for K&L’s Old & Rare team. Our man in the know, Gary Westby—Champagne buyer and Old & Rare wizard, put together a wine dinner that would have delighted even the most ardent of “drink it young” fans. Along with a couple of special guests, we tasted through some extraordinary back vintages of Martin Ray and Hallcrest wines, some made whilst many at the table were in diapers or just a twinkle in their parents eyes!

Held in the dimly lit environs of John Bentley’s restaurant, a block or so down from our Redwood City store on El Camino, the wines were decanted and the glasses sparkling on the table when we arrived. One of our special guests, Darrell Corti, began the evening by providing some insights into the man that was Martin Ray. To use appropriate parlance for the time, it’s probably fair to say that Ray was considered by many as somewhat of a rascal. Tasting his wines more than 50 years on, though, perhaps visionary would be more appropriate! Ray was one of the first to use French, specifically Burgundian, oak. He also had a penchant for Champagne bottles—which he used for many of his early wines—giving them an unmistakable character.

As the first course, a seared scallop, arrived we were already well into our first flight of Martin Ray whites. This included 1952 Chardonnay, 1954 Chardonnay, 1956 Pinot Noir “Blanc de Noir” and 1957 Pinot Noir “Blanc de Noir.” All were slightly pink tinged and in fine condition… which led us to ponder how many 1999 California Chardonnays would be as good after only a decade! It was the 1954 Chardonnay, though, that stole the round for many with its lovely richness, caramel, nut and butterscotch notes.

We moved quickly onto a delicious quail dish and our first reds of the evening, the Martin Ray Pinot Noirs. Well, most of them were anyway. The flight started with a ringer: a 1945 Beaulieu Beaumont Pinot Noir that, amazingly, still had great color and a touch of fruit. The Ray wines started in glass two with a 1952 Pinot Noir, then carried on with 1954 Pinot Noir, 1954 Third Crush Pinot Noir and 1956 Pinot Noir. We understood from Darrell that the “Third Crush” was likely made from Ray’s own vineyards and was promoting the fact that three good vintages had been made with these grapes, whereas the regular 1954 had probably been made with purchased fruit. All of these wines were likely made with old massal selections not reminiscent of what we know as Pinot Noir today. Favorites changed as the wines developed in the glass, but it was actually the regular 1954—with its astounding chocolate mint characters—which seemed to provoke the most conversation.

The steak brought with it a change of pace as we moved into Cabernet territory. Along with Martin Ray NV “La Montana” Woodside Cabernet we enjoyed 1947 Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon and our first Hallcrest wines of the evening: 1950, 1951 and 1953 Cabernet.  Interestingly the 1950 Hallcrest was labeled 1948. It had been crossed through by hand and had “1950” written beside it in ink. The entire batch was the same. Chaffee Hall, it seemed, was a frugal guy, reusing labels from previous vintages to save money. Hall established the vineyard, just outside of Felton in the Santa Cruz Mountains, only five years earlier so I guess that’s understandable. His first release was in 1946, so this 1950 really was some of his early work.

Following the Hall trend we finished the last flight of reds over cheese. We started with the 1958 Hallcrest Cabernet then worked our way through the 1959, 1961 and 1964. There was no doubt at the table that these two flights of Cabernet were showing very well indeed. They had the color of a 2004 Napa Cabernet with really no discernable bricking. Unlike the many over-extracted Cabernets we know today, these savory, earthy examples were still well in the game.

As our evening drew to a close we had a mystery wine to end the meal. It was a rich, nutty color in the glass and showed apple, pear, citrus, butterscotch, caramel and slightly salty characters. Any guesses? Ok, so you cheated and looked at the photo. Yes, it was an 1880 Welsch Brothers Boal Reserve Madeira (no, that’s not a typo... 1880). Simply awesome. When this wine was made 130 years ago Richard Trevithick had just invented the steam locomotive! If there’s one thing we learnt from this evening’s tasting, it’s that wine really is history in a glass. Cheers!

Jamie Irving


Getting to Know: Gary Westby

What do you do at K&L?

I help customers buy wine and take care of the Champagne and Sherry buying. I have been with K&L for 10 years.

What did you do before you started working here?

I worked for another retailer, and before that I worked in the bicycle industry and as a bass player.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love to spend time cooking and eating with my wife, Cinnamon—especially French food. I also like to do long bike rides with friends and I may even do a couple of races this year. Listening to music is also a great passion, both live and at home on the record player.

What’s your favorite movie?

Hard question! I think the Japanese movie Tanpopo will be my answer for today. It is hilarious and a perfect mix of escape and learning about great cuisine—namely the noodles of Japan! I wanted to like Mondovino more, but it was too much of a witch hunt even though I think the point, that 100 point scoring is taking the individuality out of wine, is correct.

What was your “epiphany wine?”

That is easy—the 1970 Fonseca Port. My father gave me a bottle that he had bought decades before on my 22nd birthday. He decanted it for me and it was a revelation—power and elegance, fantastic length, the real deal. It changed my life. In less than two months I was working in the wine business. It still comes in stock from time to time to tempt me!

Describe your perfect meal (at a restaurant or prepared at home). What wine(s) would you pair with it?

The perfect meal would be at Les Crayeres in Reims with my wife. We would start off with roasted blue lobster in a cream sauce with truffles. I would pair it with the Bonville Belles Voyes Blanc de Blancs single-vineyard Champagne. We would then have the local pigeon, made in the traditional style: puff pastry with demi-glace. We would pair that with 1988 Phélan-Ségur, St-Estèphe, the kind of claret that cuts rich food like a knife and emphasizes refreshment and complexity rather than crude palate weight. We would finish the meal with thecheese cart. We would pair that with the legendary 1962 Quinta do Noval “Nacional” Port—I have only ever read about this maverick vintage.

How do you think your palate has changed over the years?

It has changed a lot. I value subtlety more, demand refreshment and get more bored with “big” every year. When I first started tasting I was a lot more impressed with powerful wines. Now I like something that evolves over the course of an evening rather than punching me in the mouth.

What do you like to drink?

I like to start with Champagne, have Chablis with the shellfish, red Burgundy with the fowl, Chianti Classico with the pork, Bordeaux with the steak, old Sherry or Port with the cheese and just plain coffee for breakfast.

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

It is not the money that you spend on a bottle, but the effort that you put forth that makes for great wine experiences. A properly decanted bottle of second label Bordeaux for $25 served in clean glassware with a lovingly prepared New York steak will outshine a classic vintage first growth that has been shaken from the trip to a restaurant, poured directly from the bottle and paired with a spicy fish dish. Wine is for pleasure, and we must have time for the pleasure, trying to make up for time with a larger budget just does not compensate.

If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would you invite? What wine would you serve each of them?

I would invite Eddy Merckx, the greatest cyclist of all time over and serve him a bottle of the 1969 Rene Collard Champagne—it was made the same year that he won his first Tour de France, collecting the sprint, climbing and team prizes in the process. I would also love to have Mr. Hugh Johnson, the author of the best wine book in the world, the Wine Atlas, over for a bottle of the Sandeman Royal Ambrosante Palo Cortado—an old bottle of Sherry from a sadly extinct solera and pay tribute to his Edgar Allan Poe-like economy of words and inspirational writing. It would also be great to dine with Underground Wine Journal connoisseur extraordinaire John Tilson again. Perhaps I could entice him with some single-vineyard Champagne from Tarlant!  

Want to drink like Gary?

Join K&L's Personal Sommelier Service and select Gary to be your own Personal Sommelier!


Beer Tastings This Weekend

Attention beer fans: Set your DVRs to record Saturday's first NFL playoff games and come down to K&L Hollywood or K&L Redwood City for a beer tasting extravaganza! Our beer guys, Steve Greer and Bryan Brick, have each put together a tasting to highlight some newly-arrived wintry brews that promise to warm you up from the inside out. If you can't make it, click on the links below, invite some buddies over and set up your own tasting at home.

In Hollywood (3-5:30 p.m.) - selections are subject to change

Einbecker Schwarzbier, Germany

Amager Bryghus "Julebryg" Danish Holiday Ale, Denmark

Telegraph Brewing Company Winter Ale Brewed with Spices and Chili Peppers, California

Stone "Lucky Bastard" Strong Ale, California

2001 George Gale & Company Ltd "Gale's Prize" Old Ale, England

2005 George Gale & Company Ltd "Gale's Prize" Old Ale, England

Oy Sinebyrchoff Ab "Sinebrychoff" Baltic Porter, Finland

Grand Teton Brewing Cellar Reserve "Black Cauldron" Imperial Stout, Wyoming

Brouwerij De Dolle "Special Extra Export" Stout, Belgium

Avery Brewing Company "The Beast" Grand Cru, Colorado

Aecht Schlenkerla "Oak Smoke" Rauchbier, Germany


In Redwood City (1-4 p.m.) - selections are subject to change

North Coast Brewing "Old Stock-Brewers Reserve" Old Ale, California

De Struise Brouwers "Tsjeeses Reserva" Belgian X-Mas Ale, Belgium

Hair of the Dog "Doggie Claws" Barleywine, California

Nøgne-Ø/Jolly Pumpking/Stone "Special Holiday Ale"

Mikkeller "From/To" Christmas Porter, Denmark

Mikkeller "From/Via/To" Christmas Porter, Denmark

Brouwerij De Ranke "Pere Noel" Strong Pale Ale, Belgium

RCH Brewery "Ale Mary" Winter Seasonal Ale, England

Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe "Monk's Christmas" Bock, Germany

Midnight Sun "Cohoho" Imperia IPA Brewed with Brown Sugar and Honey, Alaska

Firestone Walker "XIV" Anniversary Ale

Leah Greenstein