Every several months, we make available for sale the wine that our members tasting panel selects as the most delicious of our mini consumer competition.  The wines under consideration may follow a theme or come from one appellation. or  come from different regions.  But each candidate varietal has been recommended by members or nonmembers for the taste-off.  And each of the producers has agreed to participate in our wine.coop program and/or our PAIRINGS fundraising enterprise.
Our wine mingles seek to offer occasions for members and guests to socialize over new and different wine styles and flavors. Why nurse a glass of a single varietal or be limited to a flight of three wines at a high-markup wine bar when for the same amount of  money you can enjoy and evaluate a range of wines while strolling around the room meeting new people and snacking on various nibbles?

To decide on our wine.coop Selection, we utilize a 'citizen judge' format based on the premise that those who buy wines for dinner or a special occasion should evaluate current releases not the "gatekeepers" or tastemakers who "curate" wine selections.  Go to our blog to review our monthly ratings.

We have found over the years that a limited number of wines have an appeal to a cross section of different consumer palates, but less often please the refined tastes of the wine pros.  We want to offer attendees the opportunity to decide on their choices and represent the tastes of other consumers.

Some previous selections chosen by our members tasting panel.

An Exceptional Wine from Marginal Grapes

2013 Harrington Wines Secatur

Bryan Harrington is one of the principal madman mystics of marginalia in the state of California. A genial wine shaman operating out of a less-than-glamorous zone of San Francisco, he makes exceptional pinot noir but is also doing  great work with fringe grapes—his charbono is a case study of the silk purses that can materialize from under loved viticultural relics. Harrington’s 2013 Secateur, named after the traditional French vine-pruning shears, contains charbono in an unlikely marriage with other marginal grapes such as n├ęgrette and teroldego. The result is a sinuous mouthful of leafy wild berries and slate, perfumed with baking spices, roots, and dark chocolate. -LA Magazine

Warm, spicy black/blue fruit, violet, cardamom, pickled plum, sandalwood and asphalt. Gentle flavors of dark berry, red currant, sassafras, rhubarb,  pink peppercorn, and dried lavender. A spicy finish with earth and stone nuances. A blend comprised of Teroldego, Nebbiolo, Negrette, Carignane, Trousseau, Charbono and Pinot Noir.

 Reviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer image     (90-92)  DELICIOUS ~ EXCELLENT  Gold  Medal- A complex, concentrated wine that balances lush fruit flavors with refinement

Winery price: $24.00  wine.coop price: $19.00 Add to Cart 

A Fruit Wine from Wisconsin

N/V Lautenbach's Orchard Country Swedish Lingonberry

Earthy and utterly unique, this semi-sweet wine is crafted from lingonberries imported from Sweden. Pairs well with smoked fish, smoked cheddar, and more importantly, with fried chicken from Addendum in Yountville.

Brought to our summer picnic at Addendum by one of our members who hails from Wisconsin.

Purchase a 3 pack from Orchand Country Winery, Fish Creek WI via the wine .coop.  
   $30.00 for three Add to Cart

Since 1955, the Lautenbach family has been planting, harvesting and producing quality fruit products in Door County, Wisconsin. 

Situated on 100 acres of blossoming orchards and lush vineyards, the family estate is home to a winery, cider mill and farm market.

Established in 1985, the winery resides in a restored dairy barn and produces most of its award-winning wines from fruits grown on the property. Estate-grown fruits include cherries, apples, grapes, raspberries, and pears. Several styles of wine are offered for complimentary tasting and purchase, ranging from dry to sweet, pure fruit and grape varietals, in addition to sparkling and spiced.
The spacious farm market offers hundreds of Door County and Wisconsin-made products, featuring the popular tart Montmorency cherry. Also available is fresh bakery, artisan cheese, jam, salsa, pie filling, wine accessories and more.
Bob Lautenbach currently owns and operates Orchard Country Winery & Market with his daughters Carrie Lautenbach-Viste and Erin Lautenbach.

A Supermarket Wine that Deserves 

Our Members Choice tasting panel picked a larger production wine that is available at a remarkable steal .  

Meridian 2012 Chardonay California 
WITH THE SIX BOTTLE wine.coop DISCOUNT ...  $30.00 Add to Cart

 Reviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer image  (90-92)  DELICIOUS ~ EXCELLENT - A complex, concentrated wine that balances lush fruit flavors with refinement  Gold Medal


“Each year we strive to produce vibrant, fruit-driven wines that deliver consistent quality and this 2012 chardonnay ($7) is a fine example,” said winemaker Lee Miyamura. “I think our new label is fresh, colorful and adds a modern touch to a long-standing favorite in the California wine industry. Our wines are perfect for weeknight dinners and casual gatherings with friends.”
More than half of the fruit for this chardonnay comes from the coolest regions of Santa Barbara County and the remainder was grown in Monterey County. About 50 percent of the selection is fermented in stainless steel and the balance ferments on American and French oak, with 100% malolactic secondary fermentation.
This Chard shows classic characteristics of tropical fruit flavors with creaminess and a crisp finish.  This pale gold wine exudes vanilla and caramel aromas with a whisper of sweet oak. Pineapple and fresh white flowers mingle with green apple and butterscotch on the palate. 
We held a second tasting of new releases from four San Francisco based wineries (out of 20 We held a second tasting of new releases from four San Francisco based wineries (out of 20 +/-).
Scheduled in conjunction with “Third Thursdays in Yerba Buena,” a monthly night of art, performance, food and drink in the Yerba Buena neighborhood, the tasting took place at the newly located performing arts museum.  Some also sought to visit the nearby Cartoon Art Museum, Contemporary Jewish Museum, Museum of the African Diaspora, UC Berkeley Extension Gallery, California Historical Society, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, all open for free on the third Thursday of the month.
We would like to thank the staff of the Museum of Performance + Design, especially Executive Director Muriel  Maffre and Kristen Tanaka for providing the space and letting us use the display cases as our tasting tables for the wineries.  Do visit the museum again.  The website gives info on upcoming exhibits.

Favorite Wine under $30: SoMa Cellars 2013 Viognier Russian River Valley 

Spreadsheet of votes and results here

2014 Viognier, Russian River Valley

 Reviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer image  (90-92)  DELICIOUS ~ EXCELLENT - A complex, concentrated wine that balances lush fruit flavors with refinement  Gold Medal
Price25.00  wine coop price: $22 (plus tax and shipping-$7 flat rate regardless of quantity)SOLD OUT

Winemakers Statement: "Our 2013Viognier is from Catie's Corner Vineyard in the Russian River Valley, a cool climate site planted on 110R rootstock with an unnamed Condrieu clone. We work closely with the grower to custom farm a block using organic viticulture and keep yields extremely low by dropping nearly half the fruit to create extremely intense wines. Wines from this vineyard offer pronounced citrus and floral characteristics balanced by vibrant acidity.

The grapes were picked on September 27, 2013 and pressed using whole clusters to bring out the varietal's fine, delicate flavors. Then it proceeded through a long, cool primary fermentation in neutral French oak barrels for added complexity. To produce the wine's the fresh crisp character the wine did not undergo the secondary malolactic fermentation and was aged in stainless steel for approximately 7 months.

Our 2013 SoMa Cellars Viognier is exuberant. On the nose It exudes intense fresh fruit aromas of orange blossom, apricot, mango and peach. The palate is marked by hints of caramel and apricot with a generous mouthfeel kept in balance by brisk acidity. It is lively, bright and enticing. A real crowd pleaser! "

AVA: Russian River Valley
Cepage: 100% Viognier
Brix at harvest: 24.3
ph: 3.50
TA: 6.4 g/l
Alcohol: 14.2%
Cases produced: 25

Favorite Wine over $30: City Cellar 2010 Single Vineyard Cabernet $65
 Reviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer image  (90-92)  DELICIOUS ~ EXCELLENT - A complex, concentrated wine that balances lush fruit flavors with refinement  Gold Medal

Winemakers statement: "Stimulating the palate with a balance of intense baking spice of brown sugar, clove and caramel with exquisite dark fruit and earthy sensations touching on marion black berry, bing cherries, ripe plum, and leather concluding the journey with soft tones of rose petals and velvety mascarpone and meyer lemon"  36 months in neutral French oak.

Best Bang for the buck: 
Passaggio Wines 2010 Unoaked Chardonnay California  

Members price $19  SOLD OUT

 (87-89) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ~ VERY GOOD   Displaying special qualities of finesse and flavor   

Winemakers statement: "If you have never had a glass of Passaggio 2012 Unoaked Chardonnay, you are in for a treat.  Fermented and aged in stainless steel, this clean, crisp Chardonnay really showcases the amazing-quality grapes from which it is made.  Its brilliant pale straw color precedes green apple, pear, tropical fruit, lemon-lime and a robust minerality on the nose. The clean, lingering finish presents layers of lemon, melon, stonefruit, slight lime and a nice acidity balanced with mineral notes.
This beauty pairs well with most seafood and chicken dishes.  Go ahead and enjoy a bottle or two today with friends and family...Cheers!"

A Superb Wine from Treasure Island 

SF Urban Wineries Tasting Part I

Label 1st place/BEST OF TASTING : HEARTFELT WINES 2010 Petite Sirah Alexander Valley (winery price: $28 / wine.coop price: $23)  Add to Cart  (87-89) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ~ VERY GOOD   Displaying special qualities of finesse and flavor   
Winemaker's statement: "This deep, dark, powerful red delivers expressions of plums and black cherries, with undertones of coconut, vanilla, and spices. Broad and balanced on the palate, this wine firms up nicely on the finish, where the tannins provide grip."
Previous Selections
Over a number of weeks in the fall, our partner Affairs of the Vine convened a select panel of 40 wine makers, writers, retailers, educators, and consultants to judge the 8th Cabernet Shootout among mostly limited production artisan Cabernets, Cabernet Francs and Cabernet blends from over 35 different viticultural areas.  Without regard to price, vintage or region, this group of experts moved 64 wines to the final round selecting 32 "best of the best."

In this special oenological Pro/Am competition, the results of the professionals'  Cab Shootout were then compared to the tally of the  'amateurs' Cab Challenge on January 18th at the Old Mint. Each Cabenthusiast selected their favorites in two concurrent flights of 17 Cabs each containing five of the top 10 wines chosen by the professional panelists.

This distinctly different format provides a unique opportunity to compare your top wines to those of the 'tastemakers' in the wine industry.  It also allows participants to sample other than the usual suspects and rate rising star wineries  We have selected the second place wine to offer to wine.coop members as the most interesting and price practical.

Enoteca 5 2011 Cab Franc Silverspoons Vineyards Lodi

 Reviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer image  (90-92)  DELICIOUS ~ EXCELLENT - A complex, concentrated wine that balances lush fruit flavors with refinement  Gold Medal

Winery price: $28; Members price: $22   SOLD OUT
This vintage actually benefited from the cooler growing season allowing for the fruit to hang longer and more fully ripen than in previous years resulting in a truly magnificent and beautifully structured Cabernet Franc, made in a style reminiscent of Bordeaux wines from St. Emilion on the Right Bank of the Gironde River that divides the region.
The wine possesses a deep garnet color and aromatics that waft from the glass, with a palate that is intensely structured expressing true varietal character throughout. We allowed this vintage to age 20 months in a combination of new and used French Oak, bottling the wine without filtration or fining. 100% Cabernet Franc. http://enoteca5.com/images/spacer.gifTotal Production:   100 cases 

We celebrated the season and the legacy of Nelson Mandela at MoAD with a range of boutique wines that were chosen by our members tasting panel as the best of our monthly mingles. We included several other wines sampled for the first time  The wines were available for purchase at a discount in the museum store to raise some funds for the museum. We now bring them to you online.


The member tasting panel selected two outstanding wines from Calstar Cellars.  The 2012 Sauvignon Blanc from the Russian River Valley / winery price $20 and the 2008 Alta Zin from El Dorado County /
winery price:  $25 . Members Two pack: $30

 Reviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer image  (90-92)  DELICIOUS ~ EXCELLENT - A complex, concentrated wine that balances lush fruit flavors with refinement  Gold Medal
Two pack of white and red $30 SOLD OUT2012 Calstar Sauvignon Blanc El Dorado: 
With a long, cool growing season, the cool climate of the RussianRiver Valley keeps 
wines crisp while allowing the natural character of the climate to shine through.   The 
picturesque Crinella Marino vineyard is located in one of the warmer areas of the 
Russian River Valley and experiences less rain and weather challenges than many 
other sites in the region. 

The grapes offer a combination of a sophisticated Sancerre of the Loire Valley and the
grassier New Zealand selections.  This is a California wine for a Sauvignon Blanc

Winemaker Notes:  Immediately bright and lively on the nose, this Sauvignon Blanc
bursts with citrus – Meyer lemon, grapefruit and kefir lime – which is supported by
undertones of spring grass and wet rock.  The palate mirrors the aromatics; ripe,
zesty citrus, dried hay, tarragon and green plum are balanced by a backbone of
clean, refreshing acidity



As a true Zinfandel lover, Proprietor and Winemaker, Rick Davis, wanted a 
vineyard that balanced the big, jammy notes of classic Zin with the minerality, 
lean tannins and age‐ability of a cooler climate.  In the hills of El Dorado County, 
vineyards range from 1,200 to 3,500 feet in elevation, exposing Zinfandel to hot, 
sultry days and very chilly nights during the summer season.  In addition, the 
growing season is longer than most appellations, with slow, gradual ripening 
creating balanced, food‐friendly Zinfandels worthy of cellar time. 

Winemaker Notes 
Clear, deep crimson color with hints of violet.  The aromas are complex with 
bright, primary notes of black plum, berry jam, black tea spice and vanilla with 
sweet black licorice undertones.  Medium bodied with flavors of juicy 
pomegranate, cranberry, berry compote and cedarbox with a hint of vanilla 
spice.  Fine‐grained silky tannins are balanced by bright acidity, drawing the 
finish out for miles.  

Our November taste-off offered 18 different types and brands of wines in two flights selected to pair with the fare of America's unique fall celebration. We included a broad array of wines: white, pink, and red, to go with turkey and ham sliders, plus a variety of cheeses.
Each wine received at least 13 votes (some members bypassed the whites), most 18 (some attendees did only one flight, some both).
Wild turkey formed the core dish for what traditionally is known as "The First Thanksgiving"-- the 1621 gathering between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag at Plymouth Colony. The use of the turkey in the USA for Thanksgiving precedes Lincoln's nationalization of the holiday in 1863. Alexander Hamilton proclaimed that no "Citizen of the United States should refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day," and many of the Founding Fathers (particularly Benjamin Franklin) had high regard for the wild turkey as an American icon. 
The results (the criterion is tastiness=how yummy is the wine when accompanying turkey or ham):

Krutz Family Cellars 2011 Zinfandel Magnolia Series Napa Valley (Sweepstakes winner for November/Best of Tasting) Winery price: $24 Special members price: $19 SOLD OUT  Reviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer image (92-94) SUPERB ~ REMARKABLE  Displays intense depth and finesse  Double Gold Medal.
From the website:
Winemakers notes: "Spicy raspberry and brambleberry immediately jump out of the glass as aromatics. Sweet cherry pie is framed nicely by a brushy and savory cedar plank. This is the second time a Zin has been selected as the favorite wine of the month."  A great value besides, with the lowest price of the wines tasted....

"We sourced from multiple vineyards throughout Napa Valley for this complex, yet  balanced Zinfandel. .

AVA Breakdown 25% Howell Mountain 19% Chiles Valley 19% Napa Valley 17% Atlas Peak 11% Napa Valley North 9% Calistoga ...

"The Magnolia, the state flower and tree of Mississippi, is a symbol of our southern roots and way of life. It’s been said, “One can’t get to where they are going without knowing where they’ve been.”  We at Krutz Family Cellars take pride of where we’re from and where we are aiming to go. Some of the virtues and ways of life that were instilled in us growing up in the south are well evident today in our business, our personal life, and our wines. These same virtues and values that we will no doubt work to pass to our children too. Our wines are true, honest, and fun, just as the folks who build them."  Read more about the family and the winery here
Two Shepherds Vineyards 2011 Pastoral Rouge Rhone blend North and Central Coast $38. Members price $31 Shipping $7 for any quantity SOLD OUT
 Reviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer image (90-92)  DELICIOUS ~ EXCELLENT - A complex, concentrated wine that balances lush fruit flavors with refinement  Gold Medal
From the website:
"Pastoral Rouge is Two Shepherd’s flagship blend, replacing the 2010 ‘GSM.’ A hand crafted blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah, in that order, comprises the 2011 blend.  Drinking bright and well as of April, but giving it some more bottle time for the players to increase in harmony. "
"Two Shepherds: Shepherd of the Palate, Shepherd of the Grape" 
"Two Shepherds is the genesis of founder William Allen, publisher of the widely read blog, Simple Hedonisms and long time garagiste wine maker, who decided to put his money where his keyboard was by planting a vineyard and starting a micro-wnery.  After years of extolling his love of Rhone wines, and winemaking practices of balance and elegance, as well as enthusiastically encouraging consumers to branch out and extend their palates, William decided to expand upon his years of garage wine making and hands on harvest experience to make commercially available the style of wines he was championing.  Thus Two Shepherds was born--making wines that "shepherd" grapes gently into non-manipulated and balanced old world style wines, while also guiding consumers back to wines of authenticity, and to the wonderfully diverse realm of Rhone wines."  More here

 Reviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer image  (90-92)  DELICIOUS ~ EXCELLENT - A complex, concentrated wine that balances lush fruit flavors with refinement  Gold Medal

Suggested retail $27  Members price $22  SOLD OUT

Handpicked from Harrison Clarke Ballard Canyon Vineyard in the Purisima Hills - the heart of the Santa Inez Valley

100% Grenache 

Natural fermentation with native yeast

After an extensive cold soak, 80% whole berries  were fermented in small open top fermenters. Gentle punch downs and pigeage. Barrel aged for 20 months.

Light -medium body. Delicate aromas of black cherry, strawberry, kirsch liquor, pepper and spice.



Reviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer image  (90-92)  DELICIOUS ~ EXCELLENT - A complex, concentrated wine that balances lush fruit flavors with refinement  Gold Medal
Suggested retail $21  Members price $17  SOLD OUT
Lucky III has a vibrant, dark red hue and aromas of cherry, mocha, leather and vanilla, with spice notes. This Napa Valley wine's entry is powerful and expansive with flavors of dark cherry, chocolate, and berry fruit that persist on the lengthy

Very dark red color with dark fruit and oak spice aromas. Red and black fruit dominate this full-bodied wine. With a rich mouthfeel featuring high fruit concentration, Lucky's delicious finish goes on and on. 49% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Zinfandel, 7% Petite Sirah. California AVA

Derek also engages in a unique charitable venture: Sip&Give, where you have the power to do good.  Buyers can choose  the charitable organization of their choice Donations are made to each charity based upon the percentage of votes it receives. Put simply, you sip and he gives. Derek Rohlffs announced a gift of more than $15,000 in cash and wine to Sip&Give’s beneficiary charities during their recent campaign. He intends to grow his giving again this year.  Josh Stein ("Just Joshin" below) also donates a portion of his income to charitable causes

 Tied for top scorer

Stein Family Wines 2010 Just Joshin Red Blend California
 (87-89) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ~ VERY GOOD   Displaying special qualities of finesse and flavor   

 Add to Cart


Like a flip of the card, a cut of the deck, or a twist of fate, something whimsical this way comes.  This California Red Table Wine shows off our best and most interesting lots of 2010 vino, and the blend is bold but with nuance, a collaboration definitely way more fun than its components if bottled alone.  We made this wine to prove Cabernet-based blends can pair well with food, and we appraised it for the good times and wherever they may lead.  We gave it higher acidity so you can easily pair it with a wider range of cuisines, and we priced it low so you can have glorious times over and over again.  Enjoy!

24.6° average Brix at harvest

pH: 3.56; TA: 6.9 g/L

72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Zinfandel, 7% Cabernet Franc, 3% Merlot
13.8% Alc. by vol.
 Casey Flat Ranch 2009 Estate Red Wine Capay Valley 
 (87-89) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ~ VERY GOOD   Displaying special qualities of finesse and flavor   

2009 CFR Estate Red Wine

Suggested Retail: $40 / Members' Price: $25 SOLD OUT
The Casey Flat Ranch vineyards sit at 3000 foot elevation in the rugged western mountains overlooking the Capay Valley (itself an AVA).  The vineyard is sustainably cultivated using maeritals and farming techniques that emphasize want and soil conservation.  Climate conditions are parallel to the Oakville/ Rutherford appellations, with average daily daytime tempratures cooler than St. Helena located 22 miles to the west.
Tasting notes: Aromas of ripe plum, blackberry and spice with subtle herb notes.  The flavors are concentrated and rich with a fleshy mid palate and firm tannins on the finish
Blend: 50% Syrah, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc . 744 cases.  Fermented in 60% new French oak.

  • When we first started holding our mini "consumer competitions" in the summer of 2007, Pam Lintner, the head of the SF Office of Schlesinger Associates, a market research firm, graciously hosted our gatherings.
  • Back then each participant brought six glasses or bought our official glasses and compared wines much like professional judges.  Gradually, though, members wanted to interact more while sipping, so we started our walk around format which we followed for this gathering.

    After a four year stint in the Chicago office, Pamis back in town and has again  graciously offered to allow a lmited towaway or in the Embarcadero Center garages.
    We featured wines from Mendocino and several other regions where the producers have agreed to participate in our PAIRINGS fundraising program (the wines will also be under consideration for our wine.coop venture.)  

    Please do visit the PAIRINGS website.
    As I write each time, our monthly mingles seek to offer occasions for people to socialize over new and different wine styles and flavors. Why nurse a glass of a single varietal or be limited to a flight of three wines at a high-markup wine bar when for the same amount of  money you can enjoy and evaluate a range of wines while strolling around the room meeting new people and snacking on various nibbles?
    28 members and guests attended the taste-off of 16 wines, this time following no theme. To participate Meetup members paid the monthly dues donation of $15 installment share price to become members of wine.coop which included the tasting.

    "Best of Show" and the only wine receiving four glasses (Gold Medal) was a Zinfandel with grapes sourced mostly from Lodi with a bit of Petite Verdot "which adds a touch of spice richness and grip to the blend."  The wine also gets best value.

    Reviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer image (90-92)  DELICIOUS ~ EXCELLENT - A complex, concentrated wine that balances lush fruit flavors with refinement  Gold Medal Soiree 2010 Zinfandel California $Suggested retail: $40  Members price: $14
    Product Image

     A great buy, especially since the wine has sold elsewhere for twice this amount. With shipping of any quantity of each wine a flat at $7.00, members of the coop should pick up a case.

  • This delightful red displays many exhilarating aromatic scents, fine tannins and rich structure.  The ripe red berry and crisp currant flavors were enhanced by careful blending to add notes of allspice and a full finish to the wine.

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