Due Regazze Vineyards (JPB's Vines in Cameron Park, CA)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's Real and It's Spectacular!

It is with great pride and sense of accomplishment to announce that my first vintage is now in a bottle! With the help of my two daughters, along with my wine coach and good neighbor Lance,(can’t forget the moral support from my vodka drinking wife) the 2009 Due Ragazze Belle’s Blend was bottled in my garage in one unseasonably warm fall Saturday afternoon. The vineyard that was planted in the spring of 2006 by my mom, dad, Jorge the gardener and I had produced eight and a half cases of wine. Was it more work than I anticipated? Yes. Was I prepared for occasional setbacks like irrigation lines being sabotaged by thirsty raccoons; or mold outbreaks? No.

Despite the moments of second guessing my choice of hobby, I know planting those vines has created some great memories for my family and friends. Somehow, I also created a wine that was actually drinkable. I have spent the last week visiting clients on the east coast for my real, paying job. Since many of the people I was seeing have been following my wine project, I brought along some bottles to share and get some public feedback. Everyone was impressed. As my confidence grew, I began sharing it with restaurant servers and bartenders to get their feedback. Again, nothing negative was being said. Was this just people being polite or did I actually make something people liked? While pulling my suitcase full of wine bottles and clothes across Midtown Manhattan last week, I got my answer. My friend Brian called me and said his “wine guy” had just tried my wine and he wanted to know how much I had to sell. Of course, nothing is for sale because this is just a hobby right?

To me, my wine is just ok. While I will always be my harshest critic, I think it smells better than it tastes and there just isn’t enough depth or character. On my plane ride home I started thinking; perhaps most people don’t want depth or character. Maybe they just want a wine that is easy to drink and could be served with any meal. Wine magazines and critics are always ranting about big bold flavors and complexity, vividly describing how they taste hints of coffee ice cream and black cherries. Wine makers in turn go to great lengths to develop their wines to please the critics and garner the coveted wine scores that will help sell their brand.

What I have concluded is most wine drinkers don’t read Wine Spectator and just want a wine that is approachable, easy to drink and maybe serve to guests and not be embarrassed. That said, I decided to create and share a list of wines that I think have a very high “approachability factor”. When serving several guests over the holidays it’s difficult to find wines that will please everyone’s palate. The wines chosen below are picked not necessarily to impress someone or be the next great find, but they will be something anyone should enjoy. I tried to pick multiple price points and different varietals as well. I would love to recommend the 2009 Due Ragazze Belle’s Blend but as I said before this is just a hobby and it can’t be sold. At least for now.

2007 Markham Vineyards Napa Valley Merlot- Tried this over the Thanksgiving Holidays and credit goes to Momma Lee for having picked this wine out. Very smooth, easy to drink and more importantly, easy to find. This is true value at under $19 a bottle and actually has been seen cheaper at the local grocery store.

2009 Carmel Road Monterey Pinot Noir- This is a classic work horse style of Pinot Noir that will not break the holiday budget (I picked it up at Lake forest Wines for $12.00). Great for serving at holiday parties where quantity might be more important than quality.

2005 Domaine Ste. Michelle Luxe Sparkling Wine- This Washington State winery continues to push out quality product in mass volume and at terrific price points. While I’m not a champagne drinker, I’ve actually tried this one and found it almost pleasant to the palate. Picked up some tangy citrus flavors and more importantly, I did not feel miserable the next morning.

2009 Twenty Rows Cabernet Sauvignon-The slogan on the website immediately won me over: “Napa Valley wines you can drink every day!” It appears all of their wines are $20 bucks a bottle. Again, scores very high with me on the “approachability factor” yet it still offered the distinct characteristics of what wine drinkers expect from a Napa Valley cabernet.

Happy Holidays!


  1. Congats Jeff:: Looking forward to trying it..

  2. Congrats! May I be your European agent? I shall of course need a sample...

  3. To be clear...I didn't ask how much was available...I said I'd take it all. And I stand behind that. BMG Cellars.....exclusive US distributor. Has a nice ring to it. ;)

  4. To be clear...I didn't ask how much was available...I said I'd take it all. And I stand behind that. BMG Cellars.....exclusive US distributor. Has a nice ring to it. ;)