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What We're Drinking



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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Tasting with Oliver Krug

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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.

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Entries in what we're drinking (11)


Wine of the Week: 2009 Château de Saint-Lager Brouilly ($14.99)

Make this 09 Beaujolais gem your house red for the month - only $14.99 and available now at K&L! We can't get enough of '09 Beaujolais around here. K&L's veteran employee Jim Barr (review below) is not alone - K&L staff overall are obsessed with these stunning Gamays, from Villages to Cru level. They carry that classic bright Gamay red fruit, but with loads more complexity and substance, thanks to an off-the-charts vintage. If you like the finesse and character of Burgundy, but want something a little more lip-smacking and food-friendly to enjoy now (especially with Labor Day barbecue and picnic fare) don't miss these beauties from 09 in Beaujolais. You will never think the same about Gamay again!

"I thought that this would never, ever happen. For forty plus years, of all the cases of wine that I have bought and drunk or cellared, I have never bother to buy a Beaujolais, villages or in general. It was always a bottle here and one there, but never a case. Then this stupidly great vintage of 2009 shows up and I am totally mesmerized by the amazing quality and depth of flavor of these wines. Sooo, when [K&L Burgundy Buyer] Keith Wollenberg landed a 2009 villages production from Chateau De Pizay Morgon (now sold out) a few months back, I was so totally overwhelmed by its stunning richness and broadness of flavor, that I bought not just one case, but two, one for current consumption and one for aging to see how it will evolve. Chateau de Pizay has sent us another villages production from the 2009 vintage, but under another a different label, Chateau de Saint-Lager Brouilly (another K&L Direct Import) and it, too, is a wine to behold. It not only rivals the Morgon, in many ways it is even more complex and deeply flavored. Medium-deep ruby in color, the nose explodes with opulent tones of blueberry to violet to strawberry fruit characteristics, that carry over to a broad, fleshy, deeply flavored Beaujolais (this is Gamay?) that is full, abundantly rich and concise, with mineral undertones, a creamy, viscous middle, and a long, flashy finish that refuses to give up. And, yes, I have bought two cases of this Gem. Anderson* has informed me that this Gem beauty will be one of our house red for the month. ABV 13.0%" -Jim Barr, K&L Staff Member 08/31/2011

Jim Barr has worked for K&L for 25 years. Interested in more recommendations from Jim? Visit the Staff Review section of to browse hundreds of staff reviews from Jim and other K&L Staff Members!

*Note: Anderson is Jim's dog who, along with the cats Bean, Eby and Rizzo, oversee the wine program of the Barr household.

Behind the (Urban) Wine: Kristie Tacey & Tessier Winery

2009 Tessier "Trenton Station Vineyard Clone 37" Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($37.99)Kristie Tacey started Tessier (the original French spelling of her last name) in 2009 after spending three and a half years as the Assistant Winemaker and Operations Manager at Oakland’s Lost Canyon Winery (until the brand was acquired by Fritz Winery of Sonoma). Kristie then decided to go off in her own direction, focusing on producing barrels of distinct clones of Pinot Noir, making them in a small century-old warehouse near Oakland's Jack London Square. Her wines are elegant and structured, and completely unexpectedly produced in an industrial area in the Bay Area.






Q&A with Kristie Tacey of Tessier Winery

What made you decide to get into the wine industry?

I was a research scientist for 10 years, working at the University of Michigan medical center, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and then a local biotech.  After being published several times in scientific journals and working on the human genome project, I felt I had achieved what I needed by then.  Plus, life as a scientist was turning more from lab work to computer analysis and statistics, which got me wondering what else I could do with my microbiology degree.

Luckily, my cousin Mat Gustafson (who is the winemaker/owner of Paul Mathew Vineyards) in Sonoma and kept urging me to consider his path.  Since urban wineries were cropping up all over the East Bay and one had an opening for an interesting position.... I made the leap.  The wine industry was just what I was looking for—a blend of science and art. 

What is the story with your label? 

The label is an homage to my past career as a scientist.  The front label features an image of yeast cells, and it is round in order to appear as if you were looking through the microscope, shown on the back label. Yeast is the most important microorganism in winemaking, it consumes the sugar and makes alcohol as a byproduct.  So we wouldn't have wine without it!

How would you describe your winemaking philosophy?

I strive to make a well balanced wine with subtle complexities.  My 2009 Pinot Noir is more Burgundian in style, while my 2010s seem to yield a more fruity Californian style. 

What wines or winemakers helped influence your philosophy?

First, my cousin took me wine tasting when I was in my early twenties.  He cultivated my love for Pinot Noir.  Then later talking me into taking the leap from my biotech job into the winery world.  Secondly, I was also heavily influenced by Lost Canyon Winery, this is where I got my start with actually making Pinot Noir. Jack States was a great mentor, very encouraging, good palate and a mellow personality.  Finally, I was very inspired by Merry Edwards and her wines. She is a wonderful Pinot Noir winemaker and had a strong science background, similar to myself.

How involved in grape-growing are you? Is there a particular vineyard site that wows you year after year?

Since I am relatively new as a winery, I have only worked with Saralee Kunde.  She has been growing grapes for 26 years and is very humble and down to earth.  I love the fruit from Saralee's and Trenton Station Vineyard.  Another vineyard that I love is Keefer Ranch in the Green Valley AVA, a sub-appellation of Russian River Valley.  I am on their wait list for Pinot Noir. 

"I'm not a big fan of 'fruit bombs' that have extra-heavy oak, and little acidity with no structure," explains Kristie. "I think you have to keep it real to you. It's important to make wine that you love, in case it doesn't sell, and you will be the one drinkingit all."

What is your production level like?

My first two vintages—2009 and 2010—produced about 8 barrels, less than 200 cases.  We will see how 2011 turns out.   

How is the urban winery scene/community evolving? Are there any disadvantages?

It is really nice for events and getting people together.  Everyone tries to help each other out, since we are all small.  I really like the community side of it, it is a great support system.  In fact, I probably wouldn't have gotten started if it wasn't for all the advice and help I received from the local wineries. 

What advice would you give to people considering getting into small production winemaking in an urban setting? 

It is a social industry and people are very friendly and helpful.  But there are long hours from August or September through November. After all, it's not called "crush" only because of what happens to the grapes. 

What do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing the wine industry today?

The biggest challenge for me right now is the economy.  Folks want a cheaper Pinot Noir.  Pinot Noir is particularly hard to keep the bottle price low.  This is due to the cost of good fruit, French oak barrels (about 30-50% new) and sensitive conditions that Pinot Noir thrives in.  

What changes are planned for coming vintages? Any new (top secret) varietals, blends or propriety wines on the horizon? 

In a couple weeks, vintage 2010 will be bottled. There are 3 different Pinot Noirs:  Las Brisas Vineyard from Carneros, Saralee's Vineyard from RRV, and a RRV blend. 

This year, I will be attempting to make a Grenache from the Sierra foothills.  I wanted a hotter region than RRV for the Grenache, something more similar to the Southern Rhone region in France.  That is how I decided on the El Dorado AVA, which is a sub-appellation in the Sierra Foothills.  They get the hot days at higher elevations with no coastal fog.  

You focus on specific clones, generally what do they yield as far as variation?

There are subtle differences between all the Pinot Noir clones, which I find fascinating.  My interest was originally piqued back in the Lost Canyon days when we attended Saralee Kunde's annual tasting for winemakers for the 2006 vintage.  This was a particularly hard year for color extraction, but clone 37 had a beautiful purple magenta color and it really stood out.  In 2007, we added clone 37 to our portfolio, in addition to the our other clones:  777, 4, and 115.  This was a fantastic harvest year.  The clones were able to ripen and be picked at their own rate, which allowed us to keep them separate until just before we assembled the blends.  It was at this time that I tasted clone 37 on its own and loved the structure, color and flavor profile.  Single-clone Pinot Noirs are relatively uncommon, but I like when they can stand on their own.  Clone 115 is another favorite, which you will soon be able to taste on its own in my 2010 Tessier Saralee's Vineyard, Clone 115.  

Is there a style of wine that you think appeals to critics that might not represent your favorite style? How do you deal with it?

I'm not a big fan of "fruit bombs" that have extra-heavy oak, and little acidity with no structure.  I think you have to keep it real to you.  It's important to make wine that you love, in case it doesn't sell, and you will be the one drinking it all.


The 2009 Tessier "Trenton Station Vineyard Clone 37" Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($37.99) is elegant, structured, and beautifully balanced. In stock now at K&L!

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Wine of the Week: 2006 Jo Pithon "La Croix Picot" Savennieres ($14.99) 

This stunning Savennieres has been cellared in a temperture controlled warehouse and is drinking at its peak. Available for $14.99 at K&L while supplies last! We were thrilled to get ahold of the last of the 2006 Jo Pithon "Les Bergères" Anjou Blanc  earlier this year, which disappeared like hotcakes once word spread of the dissolution of the Jo Pithon label.* So, when some 06 Savennieres became available (one of the last wines he produced), we grabbed all we could! This stunning Chenin will not stay in stock for very long, though...

"Savennieres is traditionally the longest lived expression of dry Chenin Blanc in the Loire Valley of France. Jo Pithon was forced out of his property by some unscrupulous double dealings with his business partners and the 2006 "La Croix Picot" Savennieres ($14.99; previously $34) was one of the last wines he produced. Full of honeycomb, spice and apple skin notes, this stunning 100% Chenin Blanc has a medium to full bodied texture with vibrant underlying acidity. It has been cellared in a temperature-controlled warehouse and is drinking at its peak." -Keith Mabry, K&L Staff Member (08/18/2011)

*NOTE: Jo Pithon continues to make great wines in a partnership with his son-in-law under the Pithon-Paille label.