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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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Tasting with Oliver Krug

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 Wine (52)


Winemaker Interview: Sean & Nicola Allison

Describe your winemaking philosophy.

We believe that good wine is made in the vineyard. To this end, over the last five years we have been concentrating on our vineyard management—reduced yields, good canopy management and sustainable viticulture. We have officially entered this year into the organic conversion for the Avocat vineyards. We have been following a non-chemical path for the land and have decided to officially formalise it, and it will take three years before we can label our wines organic. As a consequence, the grapes that enter the winery should be ripe, disease free and tasting good! However, we live in Bordeaux and some would say that the powers up above dictate the weather and hence the vintage!

What wines or winemakers helped influence your philosophy?

Didier Dagueneau, who passed away last year, for his use of biodynamic practices, wild yeasts and generally not being afraid to do things (and look) differently. Sandrine Garby, winemaker at Yquem, for being a fantastic winemaker and such a gracious person.

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

We do everything here; we own all our vineyards and we don’t source fruit from elsewhere. So pretty involved! The Avocat vineyard, which we bought in 2002, is a single “enclos” vineyard. Before we bought it, it had been abused, but after five years of careful viticulture it is starting to produce WOW fruit. It is on an elevated plateau exposed to the elements, and 100 years ago it was a famous vineyard that had been allowed to lose its way!

How do you think your palate has evolved over the years? How do you think that’s influenced your wines?

Yes, of course. I believe it is so important to taste as many wines as possible, from all different regions and producers. The cellar palate is a huge disability for producers. I think our wines have evolved due to our palates, but we also listen to our consumers, who are looking for less alcohol and approachable wines. Studies show that apart from investors, 90% of wine bought is drunk within five days of purchase.

What kinds of food do you like to pair your wines with?

Our dry white with “fruit de mers.” Come to the Bassin D’Arcachon and have a glass of dry Bordeaux /Graves wine with a plate of oysters—unbeatable! Of course the barrel-aged Graves has sufficient enough weight to accompany chicken and pork dishes. I have to admit to being partial to it as an aperitif when I am cooking! The Avocat red is excellent with any red meat, game (I have a recipe for Hoi Sin Duck on the barbecue if any one is interested!), pasta and cheese. However, my view is that there are not any right and wrongs in wine matching—if you enjoy it while eating popcorn in front of the baseball game, GREAT.

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

We have planted half a hectare of Carmenère this year—it will be interesting to see how that ripens here in Bordeaux. It was widely used here in the 18th Century. I have another secret, but it would not be a secret if I told you…

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 am afraid that some of the old boy critics would not really like our wines; we are not into gigantic alcoholic fruit bombs and do not use a reverse osmosis machine to concentrate the wines. Reverse osmosis=points with several important critics. We deal with it by finding clients who are capable of making their own mind up about the style of wines they appreciate, generally these clients appreciate finesse, quality and good value! For example K&L!

What do you drink when you are not drinking your own wine?

At the moment we are fortunate to have a collection of Napa wines made by female winemakers. I am part of a group of women, “Women in Wine,” and we received 16 female vintners from Napa in January. So, had a glass of Spottswood 2005 last night—delicious .

Do you collect wine? If so, what’s in your cellar?

Yes, we collect all vintages from Léoville-Barton—one of the good value Cru Classé each year. We also have a few cases of the ’05 Bordeaux from the top Cru, but I think they will go towards college fees. I cannot bring myself to drink wines of this value.

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

There are quite a few! At the moment the strength of the Euro for us is a problem for our export market, we do listen to our importers and try to make things easier for them to sell our wines at a consistent price. Unfortunately, production costs are still increasing here in France, and with the weaker economy worldwide it is tough for everybody at the moment…

The other big challenge for the wine industry is to try and negate the publicity put out by the anti-alcohol brigade. Of course wine must be drunk in moderation, sensibly and socially. Wine is a vital part of the food experience. No one is recommending over-drinking nor drunk behaviour. However, surely individuals should be responsible for their behaviour, not relying on the state to make all alcohol consumption illegal?

What about the French paradox? Why not ban butter, salt, sugar, fat and red meat while we are at it? Let us all eat lentils, rice and drink only water. Whoever thought life should be fun and living a pleasurable experience would be mistaken in this current big brother environment. People have to start taking responsibility for their own decisions (good and bad) and stop looking to Government all the time!



Getting to Know: Tom Martinez

Name: Tom Martinez

What’s your position at K&L and how long have you been with the company?

I am the General Manager of the Hollywood Store.  I started working at K&L in 1983.

What did you do before you started working here?

After college I worked in the financial services industry followed by a short time with a contractor.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I am a big sports fan and enjoy watching and attending sporting events.  Restoring my ’65 Mustang has taken more of my spare money than spare time lately.

What’s your favorite movie?

Caddyshack and Pulp Fiction are my favorites.

What was your “epiphany wine”—the bottle or glass that got you interested in wine? Is there a current wine that you consider the equivalent?

I would have to say that the 1983 Pichon-Lalande was the first wine to really excite me.  

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

My perfect meal would start with a glass of Champagne and a spinach salad with roasted walnuts. The next course would be a crab gnocchi served with A Lewis Chardonnay.  A blackened Rib Eye and grilled asparagus would be accompanied by an older Pichon-Lalande or Léoville-Barton. A fresh fruit tart would end the night with more Champagne.

How do you think your palate’s changed over the years?

I have definitely moved away from heavily oaked wines.  I find myself looking for more balanced wines with alcohol levels in check.

What do you like to drink?

I enjoy cocktails as much as a nice glass of wine.  And of course I don’t always vacation in Mexico but when I do, it is all Tequila and beer.

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

Go to tastings and try as many wines and varietal as you can.  Learn what you like but be open to all flavor profiles.  Don’t over analyze each wine.  Keep it simple.

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

If I could I would like to have dinner with my grandfather Albert Martinez, Mickey Mantle and the late Chip Hammack.   I know our conversations would include such topics as politics, women, baseball, the Lakers, jazz and money.  I think cocktails would be the libation of choice and the meal would be incidental as our conversation would be the highlight.


Getting to Know: Joe Manekin

Name: Joe Manekin

What's your position at K&L and how long have you been with the company?

I am the Spanish, Portuguese and South American wine buyer.  I've been working here for two and a half years.

What did you do before K&L?

Before K&L I worked for a medium-sized wine wholesaler in Washington, DC.

What do you do in your spare time?

I like to blog (  Also I enjoy gardening, cooking, drinking (but of course!), recording and listening to music.

What's your favorite movie?

I’ll always go for a good music documentary or period piece.  Rockers!— a classic late-’70s Jamaican flick) is one of my favorites.

What was your "epiphany wine?"

I think I had my wine epiphany quite young (to protect my parents I won’t say quite how young. It was a bottle of 1986 Chalone Pinot Blanc—full-bodied but bright, palate-coating and memorable. More recently, a bottle of 1981 Martinsancho Verdejo that legendary Spanish winemaker Angel Rodriguez Vidal opened for me a year ago was phenomenal.

Describe your perfect meal. What wines would you pair with it?

’79 Salon (a birthyear wine I’d love to try) and potato latkes with crème fraiche and caviar to start.  Grass fed New York strip steak grilled rare and sautéed Lacinato kale paired with ’79 Palmer (another one I need to try). Also, some Lopez de Heredia Gran Reservas from the ’60s. Finally, a decanter of Puffeney Vin Jaune served with top-notch Comte and bread from Tartine (best bread in the world) to close things out.

How do you think your palate's change over the years?

Like many palates before me, I have moved away from richer, fruitier, oakier front- to mid-palate wines in favor of higher acid, more tensely-finishing wines.  In other words, you can keep the cult Cab, but pass the Poulsard my way!

What do you like to drink?

Geek beers and geek wines.  Anything from Cantillon. Lopez de Heredia, all flavors. Muscadet. Sherry. Our wonderful DI Champagnes, especially Marguet and Tarlant! So-called “natural wines.” Orange wines like Radikon. I could go on, but at the risk of subjecting myself to abuse at the office I’ll leave it at that. Non-alcoholic drink of choice: good Gyokuro green tea.

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

Always consider context. If you find your tastes jiving with one of us in particular, work mainly with that person. Also, whether you want to know the various soil types of the Loire Valley or simply want a tasty dry white wine to bring to a party, let us know and we’ll take care of you.

If you could have dinner with any three people in history, who would you invite? What would you serve them?

Jean-Michel Basquiat - 1981 Lopez de Heredia Viña Bosconia Gran Reserva to celebrate his breakthrough year; Frederic Chopin - 1996 Royal Tokaji Wine Company Mezes Mály 6 Puttonyos (Hungary is sort of close to Poland); medieval philosopher Maimonedes - 1787 Château d’Yquem. We’d discuss the morality of forging super rare, older bottles and whether or not our bottle was a genuine one or of magical, non-existent provenance.