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Wine Report from the Fort
In the vineyard ... red, white and new!
By Fred McMillin

This is the story of one of California’s greatest vineyards, located in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara county.

The red wine
In 1971, Botanist Michael Benedict and UC Berkeley geographer Richard Sanford recognized the Pinot Noir potential of the west end of the Santa Ynez Valley and planted the now-renewed, 110-acre Sanford and Benedict Vineyard. Within a decade, critic James Laube gave top rating to the Pinot from this vineyard.

The white wine
Richard Sanford had equal success with Pinot Noir’s Burgundian partner, Chardonnay. In California’s Great Chardonnay, author Laube says, “Sanford is proof positive that Santa Ynez Chardonnays can be dramatic and exciting … five stars.”

The new wines
The Terlato family markets more than one out of eight bottles of wine over $14 sold in America. A few years ago they bought the iconic Sanford and Benedict Vineyard. They have initiated a major project to raise Sanford wines to even greater heights by planting even better clones and rootstocks. Top wine reviewers are starting to take notice. Frederic Koeppel put the Sanford 2006 Pinot Noir on his list of the Top 50 Wines of 2008. Also, the Wine Enthusiast Magazine gave that Pinot an outstanding score of 93.
We are about to taste the red and the white and will let you know what’s new!

P.S. Find Sanford Wines at these stores in the City:
• California Wine Merchant, 2113 Chestnut Street (at Steiner), 415-567-0646,
• D&M Wine & Liquor Company, 2200 Fillmore Street (at Sacramento), 415-346-1325,
• K&L Wine Merchants, 638 4th Street (at Bluxome), 415-896-1734,

New feature ... Perry’s Picks
Who is Perry? He is Michael Perry. A certified sommelier and a certified wine educator by the Society of Wine Educators, Perry has an Advanced Certificate with Distinction from the Wines, Spirits and Education Trust. He will pick three of his favorite wines for us each
month. Here are April’s:

1. Foggy Bridge Winery Char-
2. Matua Sauvignon Blanc
3. Souverain Winery Cabernet

But there’s more. The first Wednesday of every month at the Presidio Cafe, he and Chef Adam Hrebiniak host a Winemaker Dinner, pairing wines with appropriate dishes. (Perry is also a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park and has worked 20 years as a chef in New York and California.)

And here’s even more. Perry also hosts a midmonth wine seminar with typical subjects such as cheese and wine pairing or exploring the wines of Burgundy. More about all this next month, or for details, phone Perry at 415-561-4661 ext. 209, e-mail him at, or visit

For red wine lovers ... wines you are sure to like

Well, almost certain, because when a major publication expert and my class participants (novices) both give high marks to a wine, you probably will, too.

Wall Street Journal:
• Chateau Julien Merlot 2002
• Gary Farrell Pinot Noir 2000

New York Times:
• Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
• Peachy Canyon Snow Vineyard Zinfandel 2005

A taste is worth a 1,000 words
Take a wine class: Saturdays 1 p.m., 20 wines, Fort Mason.
• Apr. 25: Best of Oregon/Washington Wines vs. Their California Counterparts – Taste and compare wines of the same varietal, vintage and price range.
• May 2: California vs. the World – Taste and compare 20 California wines with their counterparts
from France, Australia, Chile, and more.
• May 9: Basics for Beginners – Learn the five basic types of wines and how they are made.
• May 16: Taste the Terms – Taste wines that illustrate the 100-plus terms used to describe wine.
Many people take Terms over again because the wines and words are different each time. To enroll or wait-list, phone San Francisco City College at 415-561-1840, or visit Education.

And a final wine smile ...
When asked to name his best vintage, Richard Sanford said with a twinkle, “The next one.”

Credits: Edgar Vogt (tastings); Ophelia Mercado (statistics)

Fred McMillin was voted one of the best wine writers in the United States by the Academy of Wine Communications. Phone him with questions at 415-563-5712 or fax him at 415-567-4468.

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