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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.  


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Entries in Trip Reports (21)


Sonoma Road Trip Stories, Part V: Dehlinger


Quad Lyre Trained Vines

By: Sarah Covey | K&L Staff Member

Dehlinger Winery, founded in 1975 by UC Davis trained oenologist Tom Dehlinger and his wife Carole, is located in the heart of 90 acres on a ridge of red gravelly soil in Sonoma County's cool Russian River Valley.  Dehlinger planted the initial 14 acres of the vineyard himself, continuing the planting through 1989; the first vintages were made from purchased Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel grapes from other Sonoma County vineyards.

The Altamont and Gold Ridge soils here are very special. From the start, Dehlinger has focused on producing small amounts of hand-worked, barrel-aged wines in a manner that extracts, develops, and preserves the maximum flavor from the grapes in order to best express these unique soils. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon are the primary grapes planted on 45 acres today; Eva Dehlinger, one of the two Dehlinger daughters involved in the family business who works alongside her father in winery operations, would like to see their own Zinfandel planted in the near future.

We had a lovely tour with Eva Dehlinger at the end of a long day. She took us out into the red soil of the vineyards and talked with us about how she became involved in the family business. Eva told us that she joined the family business in part because of her deep love of Sonoma County and also because of her appreciation for the winemaking heritage of her family. The work she does suits her, she says, as it requires diverse skills, working with a broad range of people, and gives her constant puzzles to solve. Dehlinger is a family-operated business, and it has been an honor for her to take part in a project that spans almost four decades. Tom has been a great inspiration for Eva in his unending commitment to the quality of their wine, his insatiable curiosity, his attention to detail, and his ability to have a personal relationship with each and every small lot of wine they make. Eva has tried to incorporate those values into all aspects of her own work at the winery and in the vineyard.

When asked what Eva sees as the future for the business and her role in shaping that future, she shared that even in an established company with the advantages of experience and reputation that Dehlinger has, there is always more to do. She and her sister Carmen have many dreams for leading the company into the future. They are in the process of replanting their vineyard, improving services for the many people who have followed their wines over the years, and making important infrastructural improvements to the property. Her hope for now and for the future is that people appreciate the amount of thought and care that goes into the entire process of making their wines; she assures us their work is truly a labor of love.

                                 Dehlinger Pinot Noir grapes.    Eva tasted us on several vintages from barrel, as well as an interesting recent project- a brandy made in conjunction with distiller Germain Robin! After one harvest where there was plentiful Pinot Noir, they decided to make the wine, and then experiment and see what distillation would do to their Pinot Noir- a one-time bottling of Dehlinger-Germain Robin Brandy. Fun! 

There will be a test on this later... We tasted the upcoming 2011 Chardonnay vintage from barrel, and we were delighted by it! It went through 100% malolactic fermentation, and has an apple, butter, pretty citrus, almost botrytised nose. Gorgeous! Try the 2009 Dehlinger Estate Russian River Chardonnay which we have in stock now to get an idea of how much attention is paid to small lots of wine they produce. Keep your eyes out, too for some of our Old & Rare single bottles that come into stock with us, as well as Auction Lots of Dehlinger wines.

As Eva Dehlinger expressed so passionately, the care they take to hand-craft each wine is apparent in every bottle.




Sarah C. Covey, WSET Certified

Wine Sales Professional


Napa Bootcamp 2012: A Visit to Oakville Ranch 

View of the Napa Valley from Oakville Ranch.

By: Melissa Smith | K&L Wine & Spirits Specialist

The longer I am in the wine industry, the more curious I become about wine. I read book after book on the subject - the history, the major players, the regions - but there is only so much that you can learn through someone else's experiences. The other day I finally got up the gall to ask one of those completely random (And I’m talking random) questions that struck me in the middle of the night. I wondered, “do they wash grapes before they make wine?” (Seriously, who thinks that at three in the morning?) But now, aren’t you wondering too?

None of my references had an answer, so when I was invited to join fifteen other industry professionals for Napa Bootcamp 2012, a day long excursion and educational intensive in the Napa Valley hosted by the Napa Valley Vintners Association, I jumped at the opportunity.

A few days before the trip a box arrived with pair of pruners, gloves, and sunscreen. Score! At sunrise we headed over the Golden Gate, through Sonoma, and arrived in Napa just as the coffee was kicking in. There we met up with our LA counterparts along with a handful of winemakers and winery managers. Tara McDonald of California Wine Merchant and I were "assigned' to the lovely Paula Kornell of Oakville Ranch. Although Oakville Ranch makes their own wine, they are best known for selling three-quarters of their fruit to some of the biggest names in the industry: Harlan, Peter Michael, Vine Cliff, Joseph Phelps, Miner Family, Lewis Cellars...the list goes on. All of their grapes are organic and farmed according to biodynamic principles. Paula trucks us and her two dogs up the private drive well above the valley to an oasis of vines tucked into the hillside. The plantings are heavy with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Petite Verdot, and Zinfandel, having been completely replanted over the last forty years. 

In the vineyard we meet Vineyard Manager Phillip Coturri. Phil has been working in vineyards since he was fourteen; he will be celebrating his 60th birthday this month. Heavily bearded in true Deadhead style (Phil cites longtime friends Bob Weir and Bill Kreutzmann of the Grateful Dead as important sources of inspiration for his work on the winery's website) he may not look like someone responsible for $12,000 per ton grapes, but then again, grapes don't care what you look like. This man knows his stuff and thankfully doesn’t seem annoyed by the string of amateur questions we fire at him like first graders!

We hoist ourselves into the “gater,” a quad set to withstand climbing and descending the rocky hillsides. We are taught how to look at the vineyards with an artist’s eye. Subtle changes in green amongst the rows of vines, varying hues of red and orange in the soil, and even the size of rocks have an influence on the grapes. At one point we arrive at a block of Grenache and I am reminded of a picture I had seen of the 'galets' in the vineyards in Chateauneuf de Pape.

Looking good in 2012!By now it’s ten in the morning and we’ve shed our scarves and unbuttoned our coats. We stop first at a block of Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 169, known for its floral qualities. We can already tell that 2012 is going to be an extraordinary year - the grapes are plump, abundant, and still ripening in the warm September sun. Several bunches lay strewn on the ground, removed in order to concentrate all plant's energy on the remaining drapes. Phil can afford to be picky this year.

The vines are exquisite, trimmed and trained like bonsais. The clusters are firm and broad, showing very even ripening. We pluck a few and taste, careful to chew the skins but avoid the seeds. Phil explains that they are waiting for the grapes to achieve “Sexy Ripe” status, the perfect '10' of sugar and phenolic ripeness. Aromatic ripeness is difficult to achieve below 14% alcohol, but too much sugar produces too much alcohol and results in wines with a lack of nuance. We learn that the grapes can get fully ripe--full of sugar--but it’s the additional hang time that allows them to develop the subtleties in their flavor profiles. It is a continual struggle to manage the canopy, choose which clusters to keep and which to drop, and deciding the exact time to harvest the grapes. While a refractometer is used in the vineyard to measure sugar levels, it is not the tool used to determine when to pick. That decision is guided by a sixth sense, an intuition built over decades of experience. Phil spends the entire year preparing for that moment. When the winemakers tell him to pick, his job is done.

Evaluating samples of grapes in the preparation for harvest.We migrate to different areas of the vineyard, occasionally running into the apprentices who are busy gathering samples, weighing clusters, crushing grapes, measuring sugar levels, examining seeds and the gelatinous matter surrounding them. At this point the seeds are still green and chewy. Phil explains that they are waiting for the seeds to become brown and crunchy, which will minimize the presence of "green" (think bell pepper and green apple) aromas and flavors. The grapes taste delicious to me, but Phil equates the ripeness of a grape to that of a tomato or a fig. They are good when they are ripe and firm, but the flavors really come out the moment that they start to soften from the sugars. We move to different blocks, tasting different clones of the same varietal, different varietals from different sections, and I start to tally up how many hundreds of dollars worth of grapes I’m consuming that could have been turned into wine.    

And with that lingering thought we are whisked away to enjoy their wine over a delicious lunch of roasted lamb sandwiches and a quinoa salad on the terrace overlooking the valley. We absorb the information from the day with a much greater appreciation for what is in the glass!

Oh, and the answer is no, they don’t wash the grapes. Sulphur takes care of any bacteria that may be lingering.



Melissa Lavrinc Smith

Wine and Spirits Consultant

Sake Buyer

K&L Wine Merchants 


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Sonoma Road Trip Stories Part III: Chasseur & Unti

 Lavender fields at Unti Vineyards.

By: Kyle Kurani | K&L Staff Member

A Walk Through Sonoma: Visiting Chasseur & Unti

Last month I was lucky enough to accompany one of our Domestic Wine Buyer Bryan Brick and a pair of colleagues on a trip through the Sonoma Valley. This was my first professional trip to Wine Country and I couldn’t wait to go and learn more about the wines that we have on the shelf. I was excited for the trip for the obvious meet winemakers, taste new wines, learn about the different regions in Sonoma, and get out of the wine shop for a little while to enjoy the country...but I was even more excited when I got back!

I returned brimming with enthusiasm from the walks through the vineyards, from feeling how warm they are in the morning to just how cold they get at night. It was interesting to hear how the different winemakers fared in each vintage depending merely upon what day they decided to pick and to learn what makes each individual winery unique in its little corner of the world. Seeing and experiencing everything that goes into a bottle of wine--the history, the effort, the land--is what truly brings the wine to life.

I hope my words can aptly paint a picture of the wines and the people, who are behind them, but I urge you to try the wines that seem interesting, talk to us about them, but then go and see where they come from - it's a trip you won't forget!

Here are a few of the places we visited with links to learn more about some of the wines we enjoyed:

Unti Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley

2009 Unti Vineyards "Petit Frere" Dry Creek Rhône Blend In the hubbub and glitz of modernized tasting rooms, complete with tasting flights and member exclusives, it is so refreshing to walk into a winery that cares more about talking about their wine than mesmerizing you with shiny objects.  Unti Vineyards is a family-run winery nestled just off of Dry Creek Road. Their tasting bar consists of unvarnished wooden boards on top of wine barrels, in the temperature same controlled room where they store their wine. No frills, just the wine and a cool escape from the midday heat.  The winery is run by Mother, Father, and Son, with a winemaker from France that loved California so much he just stayed.

Unti follows a hands-off winemaking philosophy, in which they seek to let the unique terroir of the vineyards shine through. This gives their wines a sense a place that cannot be duplicated. We tasted many stunning wines, but the 2009 "Petite Frere" Dry Creek Rhone Blend and the 2009 Dry Creek Grenache (both in stock now at K&L) stood out to me. In addition to growing Zinfandel, Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache, they have also planted some Mediterranean varietals. They believe that the warm climate of Dry Creek offers an environment where  grapes  like Segromigno, Sangiovese, and Montepulciano, can thrive. They have the potential to make some very interesting wines - keep an eye out for these wines when the vines have matured.

Chasseur's tasting "office".Chasseur Wines, Western Sonoma

2008 Chasseur "Blank Vineyard" Russian River Valley Pinot Noir Chasseur is a far cry from the traditional winery, with no vineyards, no  tasting bar, not even the usual winery dog to greet you at the door - just a warehouse that used to process apples. But don’t let the humble surroundings fool you! Bill Hunter, the winemaker at Chasseur, is one of the most talented winemakers we met on the trip. His no-nonsense attitude and up front way of speaking hide neither his passion for the wines he makes nor the quality that is the end product of that passion. Chasseur is such a small winery that K&L is lucky to have any of Bil's wines to sell at all. We are indeed very grateful to have the opportunity to share these wines with you.

Pinot and Chardonnay are the focus at Chassuer (though a Syrah or two sneaks in once in a while) and attention to detail is the order of the day. Fruit is selected from vineyards with the highest pedigree, carefully maintained and farmed to his specs. Pinot is fermented in tiny one ton fermenters so that each block can show off its unique characteristics. All of the Chardonnay is barrel fermented to give the wines depth and texture. These wines are rich and lush, but never overwrought, and always beautifully pure.

For Burgundy and California drinkers alike, there is simply no arguing with good wine. We tasted wines out of barrel that showed great potential, but the 2008 Chasseur "Blank Vineyard" Russian River Pinot Noir and the 2008 Chasseur "Durrell Vineyard" Sonoma Valley Chardonnay impressed me for their immediate drinkability. Luckily, both are in stock now at K&L and available for you to take home and enjoy tonight.