Azari Vineyards Review

#PetalumaMade DisclosureKaveh Azari & Nico ready to pour Luma BlancOur second stop on the #PetalumaMade wine blogger tour took us just down the road to Azari Vineyards, where Kaveh Azari welcomed us along with their winemaker Niko.  We first tried their riesling blend, Corkscrew Luma Blanc, a very crisp, tasty, and affordable wine ($20 retail) that they just started bottling.  It was very citric with aromas of apricot and flavors of white peach and orange.  It was so new it wasn’t even labeled yet, which I learned is what’s called a “shiner” by some in the industry.

My "shiner" of Luma BlancAzari Vineyards typically only produces 100 cases each season and most wines go for $60-$70 so they’ve actually started a second label, Corkscrew, to be more accessible and affordable to the average consumer.  One of the wines we tasted from the Corkscrew label was their rose, which was very lovely indeed.

Kaveh told us more about why Petaluma wines are so unique.  The wind coming in from the San Francisco Bay makes the grapes smaller and their skins thicker.  In turn, this makes their wines very fruity, but somewhat dry.  Interestingly, grapes have been cultivated in the Petaluma area long before their more famous Napa County neighbors!

Delicious wood-fired pizza made at Azari VineyardsOutside of the tasting room they have a traditional wood-fire pizza oven and made us some deliciously simple cheese with prosciutto pizza.  I’m not usually a huge fan of prosciutto, but it was just enough to give the pizza some body.  And that crust was to die for!  It definitely made for a very unique tasting experience to have our wine with the lovely pizza.  Not a pairing I’d have immediately thought of, that’s for sure.

We finished off our pizza and tasting at Azari with their Corkscrew Luma Rouge, which is a blend of 95% syrah and 5% vigonier.  It was delightful, even more so because Azari donates 5% of the Luma Rouge proceeds back to the Petaluma community through various organizations.  Drink wine and give back?  Sign me up!

Azari Vineyards is a family-owned winery producing ultra-premium Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Riesling from their 10-acre hillside estate.

Check out Azari Vineyards and like them on Facebook!  You can also follow them on Twitter or Instagram.

1399 Spring Hill Rd.
Petaluma, CA 94952

Saltonstall Estate Review

#PetalumaMade DisclosureSaltonstall Estate olive tree orchard and vineyard

Our first stop on our #PetalumaMade wine tour was Saltonstall Estate.  Saltonstall is a sprawling 170-acre estate with both olive trees and pinot noir vines.  Sam & Marina Saltonstall bought the property in 1995 as a hobby project and have recently begun bottling their own award-winning olive oil now that the trees are mature enough to produce fruit.

The wines & olive oils we tasted at Saltonstall EstateMarina was a gracious host and her wines and olive oil were terrific. I was pleasantly surprised that I liked her 2008 Pinot Noir but I really enjoyed the 2009 Fizzy White made with pinot noir grapes as well.  It was a lovely way to start off our day of wine tasting!  They find that their property is actually colder than most of Petaluma, which affects the skin of the grapes even more and changes the flavor.

The real winner for me though was the Oregon White Truffle Olive Oil.  Heaven!  I don’t usually care for most olive oils alone as I feel like there’s not enough flavor to make it worth it, but this was flavorful and rich while still being light.  I am still kicking myself for not purchasing a bottle from her when I had the chance.  I guess that means I’ll have to go back!

Oregon White Truffle Olive Oil from Saltonstall EstateThe sprawling grounds are lovely and it’s definitely worth a visit when in Petaluma! We made an appointment to visit during the week, but their normal tasting room hours are Saturdays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.  Be aware that it’s cash only – so be sure to hit the ATM before heading down Spring Hill road for your olive oil fix!

Check out Saltonstall Estate and like them on Facebook!

2805 Spring Hill Rd.
Petaluma, CA 94952

Swiss Chicken with White Wine

This recipe was submitted by Eric Nagel: My family has been enjoying eMeals for a few months now (my review of eMeals can be read here), and recently we had our first meal that called for wine.  The kids loved the Swiss Chicken, but I thought the stuffing was rather dry (and burnt, in some areas). Next time we have this meal, I’d like to cover the dish with aluminum foil to see if the stuffing could remain moist. Also, my wife just grabbed a bottle of wine from the basement (it was a bottle from my recent shipment from Laithwaites wine club) – I wonder how a different white wine would change this dish?

Swiss Chicken with White Wine
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 10-3/4 oz. cream of chicken soup (1 can)
  • ¼ c. butter, melted
  • ¼ c. white wine
  • 1 c. stuffing mix
  • 6 slices Swiss cheese
  1. Melt the butter & combine with the stuffing mix.
  2. Combine wine & cream of chicken soup.
  3. In a casserole dish, cover chicken with a slice of cheese each.
  4. Pour over the wine & soup mixture, then the stuffing.
  5. Bake uncovered at 350° F. for 45 minutes.


Vayniacs Unite

Have you been watching If not, you’re sorely missing out!

Gary Vaynerchuk, Director of Operations at Wine Library in Springfield, NJ has been taking the wine world by storm since February 2006. Every weekday Gary puts out a completely improvised 22 minute web show where he tastes 3-4 wines, usually of a similar varietal. His energy is crazy and through the roof.

Gary’s appeared on Ellen, Nightline, and Conan to name a few. The guy is a machine in terms of his exposure on social media venues like Twitter and Facebook. Putting aside the marketing machine that the man is, he knows his stuff on wine. His trademarked “sniffy sniff” comes first where he analyzes the nose and aromatics of the wine. Once he’s given the wine a good long sniff and explained the wide range of smells that he picks up from the bouquet of the wine, he gives it a “whirl”. I’ve never seen anyone taste wine like Gary does… he swishes it around in his mouth with the fervor of a Listerine commercial.

All the wines are tasted at room temperature after a good amount of time left uncorked to breathe. At least, I haven’t seen one yet where he’s tasting a cold wine (even the whites are room temp). He does give the wines scores, although he insists that you shouldn’t give the wine scores too much weight since everyone’s pallet is different. And that’s one of the best things about Gary – he brings wine down to earth. He’s not presumptuous about wine like a lot of the traditional industry snobs are.

Gary’s enthusiasm is infectious. His knowledge of wine and down to earth nature make anyone even remotely interested in wine want to go out there and try it all. And there’s awesome 80’s pop culture references thrown in sometimes, so watch damn it! Become a Vayniac!

And since a lot of Askewbs are Jersey diehards, know this: Wine Library is an actual store, the Vaynerchuk family business that was around long before Gary’s life mission of changing the wine world. It’s in Springfield, so roll on by and check it out.

Garlic Crostini with Caramelized Onions & Gruyere

Submitted by Shane


Fresh baguette, cut into ¼” slices 3 sweet onions, cut in ½ lengthwise & cut
2 tbsp butter into small strips
2 tbsp olive oil ¼ c. white wine
¼ lb Gruyere cheese, grated 1 clove fresh garlic, peeled
salt to taste fresh ground black pepper to taste


  1. Place baguette slices in 250°F oven & bake until crisp & golden brown. Remove from oven & allow to cool.
  2. In a sauté pan, heat the butter & olive oil & then add the onions & cook slowly over low to medium heat.
  3. Add salt & pepper to the onions & stir occasionally while keeping the onions evenly distributed on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the wine & allow the onions to continue to caramelize. Make sure that the onions do not burn or you will taste some bitterness instead of the sweetness that you are trying to achieve.
  5. Once the onions are golden brown & the liquid has been cooked off, remove from heat & allow to cool.
  6. Rub the fresh garlic clove on each slice of toasted bread (crostini).
  7. On each crostini, place a heaping tsp of caramelized onions & a tsp of grated Gruyere & place on a baking sheet.
  8. Place crostinis in 300°F oven & bake until the cheese is melted & just starting to bubble. Remove from oven.
  9. Serve these warm & watch the reaction of your guests. Bon Apetit!!

Chef’s Note: These appetizers are addictive & delicious. You can experiment with other types of cheese but I highly recommend using Gruyere. It’s a form of Swiss cheese that is so much more complex in flavor than the traditional Swiss that you may be used to. At first it’s a little fruity & then becomes earthy & a little nutty. It goes perfectly with the caramelized onions. This takes a little bit of time to prepare but you & your guests will not regret it. The number of servings will vary.