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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 Zinfandel (12)


Thoughts From ZAP: Surprisingly Fresh!

"The 2011 Zins are much better than I thought they were going to be," reports K&L's Bryan Brick after this week's marathon Zinfandel Advocates & Producers (ZAP) tasting in Alameda, CA.

By: Bryan Brick | K&L Domestic Wine Buyer

Yesterday marked one of the most physically difficult wine tastings in the business: The ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) tasting. Just think about tasting dozens of Zinfandels, some dry and others not so much, some with superb balance and some with blaring alcohol levels, and I think you’ll sympathize with the way my mouth feels today. The tasting was held at Rock Wall Winery in Alameda, a wonderful location for a tasting of this size and scope. This year the powers that be separated the trade portion of ZAP from the public tasting, which really helped myself and my co-worker Jim Boyce to get a lot done in a short period of time. With many fewer tasters, we were able to taste much more wine this year than in years past and speak more to the principals of the wineries about their respective wines. Plus, there were a lot fewer drunk people falling down and breaking glasses, or themselves--which was nice.

What I very quickly learned is that the 2011 Zins are much better than I thought they were going to be. Most of you know, or maybe have heard rumblings that 2011 is already a bit maligned. It was cold, sugar levels never hit the numbers that California has become accustomed to, yields were small if not downright scary, with people running numbers around 30-60% down from an average vintage. So I was a bit hesitant. That went away quickly when I started tasting the wines. I found the vintage to be energetic, drinkable and full of personality. ABV levels are down; flavor, balance and structure are up. The sad part is that there just isn’t going to be a lot of this wine to go around. But as these wines begin to roll out, I’d highly recommend adding some to your cellar or everyday drinking rotations.

Here are some highlights of our fave 2011s, as well as wines from other vintages, with brief descriptions from the tasting yesterday. I’ve added hyperlinks to the wines we currently have in stock. The others probably won’t be far behind.

2011 Ancient Peaks Zin: Top Value!2011 Ancient Peaks Paso Robles Zinfandel ($13.99) A refresher course, as we've had this wine in stock for a month or so, but it really held up in the context of all these Zins. It's truly one of the best values out there in the world of Zin.

2011 ANDIS “Estate” Amador County An intriguing new winery that is making a bigger style of Zin but with rarely seen balance from the area.

The 2012 Bedrock "Old Vine" Zin is from some of the oldest and most interesting vineyards in the Sonoma Valley.2012 Bedrock Wine Company "Old Vine" Sonoma Valley Zinfandel ($24.99) This wine is from some of the oldest and most interesting vineyards in Sonoma Valley. Tcomplex nature and concentration of that fruit shows through here in spades. Another tremendous value in Zin.

2012 Bedrock "Evangelho Vineyard Heritage Wine" Contra Costa Red Blend ($32.99) These vines are planted in river delta sands on their own roots and were planted in the 1890s. A field blend of Carignane, Mourvedre, Zinfandel, Palomino, Alicante and Mission, this was one of my personal faves of the tasting. Electric, vivacious fruit with zingy acid and great old vine spice this is not to be missed

2012 Bedrock "Lorenzo's Heirloom" Sonoma Valley Red Blend ($41.99) Just the fact that Bedrock has three wines on this list should tell you everything you need to know. This is  Zinfandel, Carignane, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Cinsualt, Valdigue and a few “odds and ends.” Powerful, brooding, dark and spicy, this inky beast has all the elements to be a masterpiece in a decade or more.

2011 Bella “Hills and Benches” Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel A lovely interplay between the spicy/peppery side of Zin and the more confectionery/cocoa-driven side of the varietal.

2011 Bella “Lily Hill Estate” Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel The 2010 version of this wine was one of my top wines from last year’s tasting, so I was excited to taste the 2011. There is something about this site that adds a super charming floral lace to the wine. It’s something akin to lavender or lilac. Add a bunch of cocoa powder and dried blueberry and this is delicious.

2011 Dashe “Florence Vineyard” Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel Maybe the biggest surprise of the tasting. Not because I don’t generally like the wines--I usually love them--but this just floored me with its energy, sexiness, bursting aromatics and strawberry fruit. I wanted to drink this by the bottle.

2009 D Cubed Howell Mountain Zinfandel ($32.99) This wine was out for a while but in no way does that diminish its deliciousness. In fact, the extra bottle time may add to it. Super tangy with tons of blueberry and crushed stone, this shows the tannic structure of Howell Mountain.

2012 Easton Amador County Zinfandel ($14.99) Another front runner for the value of the tasting. Pitchy red fruits with a touch more ripeness than usual and the mineral-driven undercurrent I’ve come to expect from this inexpensive stunner.

2010 Easton “E” Fiddletown Zinfandel Certainly the best “E” bottling I’ve seen from them. I loved the unflinching iron/bloody aspect of this Zin. A true old-school Gold Country Zin.

2011 Hendry “Blocks 7&22” Napa Valley Zinfandel This just garnered a huge score by a respected wine mag and I can see why. Like a melted wild berry cobbler with a scoop of chocolate ice cream, but somehow never coming off close to sweet.

2011 Mike & Molly Hendry “R.W. Moore Vineyard” Napa Valley Zinfandel We loved the 2010 last year at ZAP and this year may be even better. Deep and earthy with warm, sunny earth and perfectly ripe, briary black fruits. Some may know this as a vineyard that Biale works with but Mike Hendry farms the vineyard for them.

2011 Limerick Lane Russian River Valley Zinfandel ($29.99) We love what the Bilbro brothers have been doing since they purchased this winery a couple of years back. Now that we are in the 2011s, the wines are the first they’ve made from beginning to end. Big, boisterous Zins with more soul than James Brown.

2011 Limerick Lane “1910 Block” Russian River Valley Zinfandel From the oldest block planted at their estate, this Zin may have won the award for the most intense Zin of the day. Long, drawn out and powerful this is still a baby but it floored us. “Amazing” is one of the descriptors I wrote in my notes.

2011 Sobon Estate “Cougar Hill” Amador County Zinfandel ($13.99) Value city! Every year Sobon Estate rocks something that just wildly over-delivers on its asking price. This year it is the Cougar Hill with its unabashed ripeness, cherry cola fruit and a lifting sensation. I don’t remember the Coug being this good.

2011 Troon “Estate” Applegate Valley Zinfandel Maybe the most eye-opening wine of the day. This southern Oregon Zin held its own with classiness and elegance. From vines planted in 1972, this wine is all about balance. Very open and engaging


Taste the Central Coast: Ancient Peaks Tasting Tomorrow!

Ancient Peaks produces true terroir wines from their estate Margarita Vineyard in Southern Paso Robles that overdeliver in quality for value. Their wines are some of the Central Coast’s best kept secrets.

We hope you are enjoying the current edition of the K&L Electronic Newsletter -  New Wonders, Old Favorites, and Staff Highlights from California's Central Coast - in which we share with you our top picks from the region. Click to read if you haven't already!

In this newsletter we profiled Ancient Peaks, one of our favorite producers for value wines that continue to fly under the radar. Tomorrow (Friday, 6/7) we are excited to welcome Amanda from the Ancient Peaks family to our tasting bar to pour current releases in stock. These were highlighted in the newsletter and now we're opening them for you to try! We hope you can join us and get to know these wines and the folks behind them.  

Ancient Peaks Tasting in Redwood City: Friday June 7, 5pm-6:30pm | $5  details  share 

Cost to taste: $5. Walk in only. Final lineup and pricing subject to change.


The ancient sea bed soils of Ancient Peaks' Margarita Vineyard.

Under the Radar: Ancient Peaks  (from K&L Wine News, June 03 2013)

By: Jim Boyce | K&L Staff Member

The Margarita Vineyard, part of the Ancient Peaks estate that was originally planted by Franciscan missionaries in 1780, is truly a site to behold. Located in the southernmost corner of Paso Robles with the Santa Lucia mountain range to the east and the Pacific Ocean fourteen miles to the west, this is one of the coolest vineyards in the region.

There are five distinct soil types here: shale, sedimentary, ancient sea bead, volcanic and granitic throughout the vineyard. The ancient sea bed soils are the most impressive—massive white oyster fossils everywhere on top of the soil! The diverse soil types, combined with Ancient Peaks’ sustainable practices of cover crops, natural composting, and deficit irrigation (among others) lend depth and character to the wines that can only come from this unique site.

These are true terroir wines, and remain some of the Central Coast’s best kept secrets for value:

2011 Ancient Peaks Paso Robles Sauvignon Blanc ($11.99) Round and refreshing, with nice ripe pear and gooseberry notes and great acidity.

2010 Ancient Peaks Paso Robles Merlot ($13.99) Refined red raspberry and black currant with a bit of barrel spice, this elegant Merlot is a steal.

2010 Ancient Peaks Paso Robles Zinfandel ($13.99) Fresh and jammy with lots of red fruits and bright acid—perfect for BBQs! Top Value!

2010 Ancient Peaks Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon ($13.99) Easily one of our best domestic Cab deals in the store. With plenty of black currant, blackberry, and vanilla flavors, nice acid and tannin, this has depth and structure that is hard to find at this price. Top Value!

Ancient Peaks Margarita Vineyard.

Soil types at Ancient Peaks.

We love the wines of Ancient Peaks because they offer a lot of characer, substance, and flavor for very modest prices compared to the vast majority of California wines. They are made in a balanced, food-friendly style and complement a variety of dishes. Enjoy!


Blasting Through Sonoma: Acorn Winery


Winemaker Bill Nachbaur of Acorn Winery.

By: Patrick Cu | K&L Staff Member

A Vist to Acorn Winery

This quaint, family owned winery is tucked away from view on the Old Redwood Highway in Healdsburg, making it easy to miss from the road. This was the last stop on our first day traversing through Sonoma, and we had to do a few loops around the area to find the entrance.

Owners Betsy and Bill Nachbaur warmly welcomed us into the tasting room upon our arrival and were gracious throughout our visit. They’ve been married for 42 years and have owned Alegria Vineyards, the location of Acorn Winery, since 1990. The site itself has had vines on it since the late 1800s and currently has over 60 varietals growing on it. Yowza! That caught us off guard, but it speaks of the willingness of the Nachbaurs to experiment with grapes on their soil and the blends in their wines. What sets them apart is their focus on estate-grown, sustainably farmed field blends. They originally sold all their grapes to other winemakers, but have since decided to save some for their own wines.

We tried a handful of reds they had on hand. Each wine was from 2009 and their estate Alegria Vineyards in the Russian River Valley.

We started with the 2009 Axiom Syrah (98% Syrah and 2% Viognier). Rich dark fruit notes immersed the palate, along with toasted mocha and a hint of savoriness. It was full bodied and fairly expressive.

The 2009 Cabernet Franc (96% Cab Franc, 2% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot) had aromas of cherries and light vanilla. There was nice spice accompanying the blackberry and oak flavors.

The 2009 Medley ($34.99) (Blend of 44% Syrah, 14% Cabernet Franc, 13% Sangiovese, 11% Cinsaut, 7% Viognier, 5% Muscats, 3% Zinfandel, and 3% other varietals) made for an enjoyable and easy drinking red wine. Taste-wise, there were lots of plum, currant, and some slight pepperiness to accompany a bed of chocolate and oak. This expression has been a mainstay at the San Francisco K&L store for the past few years. People often have come in seeking this blend.

The 2009 Sangiovese (98% Sangiovese from 7 different clones, 1% Canaiolo and 1% Mammolo) showcased a ton of raspberry on the nose and palate. Flavors of blueberry, vanilla, and a pleasant mineral note lingered into the finish.

The 2009 Alicante Bouschet (98% Alicante Bouschet, 1% Petit Bouschet, 1% Grenache) had an intriguingly aromatic nose of spice and earthiness. We were fairly keen on bringing this to the store as the varietal itself is not all too common in the States. Plus it was pretty tasty!

Also coming soon to K&L is more of the elegant 2007 Acorn "Alegria Vineyards Heritage Vines" Russian River Valley Zinfandel. Based in 82% Zinfandel, this includes 8% Alicante Bouschet, 8% Petite Sirah, and according to the folks at Acorn the remaining 2% of the field blend includes Carignane, Trousseau, Sangiovese, Petit Bouschet, Negrette, Syrah, Plavac Mali, Tannat, Muscat Noir, Peloursin, Beclan, Cinsaut, and Grenache. Decanting is recommended to draw out the aromatic and flavor complexities of bottle age.



 Acorn specializes in estate-grown, sustainably farmed field blends from their Alegria Vineyards.

 Acorn's gnarled 63 year-old Zinfandel vines!

Cabernet Franc vines at Acorn.