An Afternoon at Folded Hills: A Central Coast Treasure

A recap of our fun and DELICIOUS afternoon at Folded Hills – a Central Coast treasure that is definitely worth adding to the itinerary for your next California visit!

Folded Hills is a working farm, winery and historic home - a Central Coast treasure!

I’ve lived in Santa Barbara for five years now and I’m still discovering new and exciting places every day, meeting more fabulous people and learning about places that I just HAVE to visit. When I attended a Women in Wine dinner a few months ago – celebrating some of the best female winemakers in Santa Barbara County – I was blown away by the strength and presentation of all these ladies, and there were a few who really stuck out.

The very first wine I tasted that night was a rosé from Folded Hills, and I knew immediately that this was a winery I needed to become familiar with. So when the opportunity arose to head there for an afternoon visit with my gal Hana-Lee (from Wander & Wine) and owner Kim Busch, I absolutely could not (and would not) refuse.

The wines of Folded Hills are all handcrafted by winemaker Angela Osborne.

But it wasn’t just the wine that piqued my interest about this place. After all, it’s not very often that I encounter a winery that’s also a fully functioning farm, practice polo field and historic residence. And did I mention the baked goods? I mean, the cookie and Rice Krispie treats are reasons in themselves to make a stop the next time you’re cruising down the 101.

We arrived at the Folded Hills farmstead on a Friday afternoon and met up with Kim, who had come armed with not only the above-mentioned baked goodies but also buckets full of food for their furry farm animals. Our babes loved watching her feed the pigs, donkeys and goats almost as much as Hana-Lee and I loved the giant chocolate chip cookie we shared.

Stop by the Folded Hills Farmstead for a giant chocolate chip cookie the next time you're driving up the 101.

Next was a four-wheel drive through the vineyards, up and over the hills to the dock of the property’s own private lake to sample the August White and, my favorite, the Estate Lilly Rosé. In our conversations with Kim on that dock, it became quite apparent that there are big things in store for Folded Hills – from the tasting room that’s opening up early next year to the exclusive wine club member perks they’re developing – and I can’t wait to see it all unfold 😉

The dock at Folded Hills is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of Lilly Rose.

The Folded Hills Lilly Rose is the perfect sipper for a warm summer's day.

From the dock we headed further into the property, with a quick stop to feed the Clydesdales and tour the newly remodeled guest house before winding up on the back porch of the family’s historic home to taste the last two wines, the August Red and the Ballard Canyon Grenache. I already knew I loved the rosé, but after tasting all these other wines it’s quite apparent that winemaker Angela Osborne is doing everything right.

Folded Hills owner Kim Busch stops to feed the Clydesdales.

Folded Hills' August Red Wine pairs perfectly with a plate of cheese and charcuterie.

If you’re looking to add a stop at Folded Hills to your next California Coast travel itinerary (and you most certainly should) take special note: the Farmstead is open weekends through October and, until construction is complete on the new tasting room (hopefully next spring), you’ll have to call or email in advance to taste the wine. But man, is it worth it!

Until the tasting room opens, you can sign up for Folded Hills’ mailing list to be notified of new releases when they’re available and, if you live in Santa Barbara, you might be able to find the rosé at a couple of our local wine shops (email me for specifics!) In the meantime, I highly recommend you stop by Folded Hills on your next trip up or down the 101 (the turn-off is approximately 30 minutes north of Santa Barbara) – if nothing else but for a giant chocolate chip cookie!

A lovely afternoon at Folded Hills with delicious wine, a farm tour and good friends!

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey

Sometimes bite-size foods are the best foods.

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey | CaliGirlCooking.com

These Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey are no exception! They’re salty, sweet and tangy, and fit in the palm of your hand. They’re portable and the perfect addition to a cocktail party or get-together (did someone say Oscars?)

I’ve always been a snacker. When given the choice between a gigantic meal that will likely leave me bloated and sluggish or light snacks throughout the day, I’ll 100% of the time go for the latter. Plus, that way I get to try allll of the different things. Don’t pin me down, I want to taste all the food!

Speaking of snacking, the hubby and I are especially good at it on the weekends, and this past weekend (wait, are we still in “the weekend” since today is President’s Day?) was no exception. We were up in NorCal for a baby shower on Saturday, then took advantage of the long weekend and being so close to Napa and headed up to Wine Country on Sunday. We’re headed back to SB but will be back up in NorCal next weekend. It’s turning into quite the frequent commute for us, but we don’t mind the drive. We always joke that we’d rather make the 4-6 hour drive up to the Bay Area than the 2-3 hour drive down to LA because we never hit any traffic.

Anyhow, we really enjoyed seeing so many of our NorCal friends this past weekend. It seems like with the craziness of the holidays and the subsequent need to just hibernate and do nothing in the beginning of the new year, it’s been ages since we’ve seen everyone. Now we’re celebrating babies and multiple engagements and I can’t believe all of that has happened since we’ve last seen everyone!

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey | CaliGirlCooking.com

These Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey are just the type of thing I like to make for casual get-togethers with our friends, no matter where we are. They’re pretty darn easy and require almost no actual cooking, so you can really whip them up anywhere. Might I also add that they’re the perfect things to munch on when you’re sipping on some delicious Napa wine? Let me tell you, these crostini and a crisp, refreshing Sauvignon Blanc are a match made in heaven.

The hardest part about this recipe is literally toasting up the sliced baguette to make crostini. If you can toast bread under a broiler without burning it, you’re in good shape. If not, just add the toppings to untoasted bread and these puppies will still taste absolutely divine.

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey | CaliGirlCooking.com

After you have your baguette slices toasted, simply spread each one with a hefty dollop of chevre (that’s creamy goat cheese for all you non-cheese snobs out there), top with the apricot and pistachio mixture, and drizzle on some honey. That’s it!

I’d also like to point out the absolutely necessity of a couple of things:

  1. Toast your nuts. I know, this technically requires more cooking, but it’s a must for ANY recipe that involves nuts. Just trust me.
  2. Chop your dried apricots. Nobody wants a crostini where they have to gnaw through a huge chunk of something so they can be sure to get a taste of it in every bit. Also, I’m a huge fan of the fatter, juicier dried apricots as opposed to the flatter, more dehydrated ones. They are definitely a must IMHO.

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey | CaliGirlCooking.com

Okay, now that you have the down-low on all that goes into these drool-inducing Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey, I’ll let you get to it! It’s a holiday after all, so you deserve a little something to go along with that bottle of wine you’re sure to pop the cork on today 😉

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

These bite-size hors d'oevures are perfectly balanced with sweet, salt and tangy flavors. Pistachios, goat cheese and apricots are a match made in heaven!

Course: Appetizer
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 baguette, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 6 ounces chevre (creamy goat cheese)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachio nutmeats, toasted
  • 1 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces honey (approximately)
Instructions
  1. Turn the broiler on high. Arrange the baguette slices on a sheet pan and place under the broiler for about 5 minutes, or until they become golden-brown. Keep a close eye on them, as they can get too dark in a matter of seconds. 

  2. Remove crostini from the oven and let cool slightly. Once cool enough to touch, spread about a tablespoon or so of the goat cheese on each piece. 

  3. Combine the pistachios and dried apricots in a small bowl, then sprinkle on top of each crostini. 

  4. Drizzle each piece with honey and serve immediately.

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey | CaliGirlCooking.com

Caribou

Because I Caribou-t you <3

Caribou | CaliGirlCooking.com

Sorry, I just couldn’t resist. I’m continuing my Canada-themed week with the perfect cold weather cocktail. In fact, it’s rumored to be so good at making you forget that you’re in below-freezing temperatures that it can be dangerous once you head back inside. True story, or at least that’s what we were told.

So here’s how this belly-warming red wine, whiskey and maple syrup cocktail came to be featured on this here blog: On our trip to Quebec (I know, I know, I keep talking about it, but I promise to have a Travel Diaries post for you next week!) my friend Johanna and I were looking up local food and drinks that we just HAD to try while we were there.

On our last night, we decided to brave the 10 degree temperatures and hit the German Christmas Markets, but we knew we’d need some libations to keep us warm and toasty as we wandered around outside. After a quick Google search we realized that what we’d be looking for is a Canadian drink known as the “Caribou,” because (a) it was served warm and (b) well, it was Canadian.

Caribou | CaliGirlCooking.com

We found a fun pub just across the street from the Christmas Markets and decided to post up there for a bit to warm up both our bodies and our bellies, and proceeded to ask the bartender for a Caribou. He was a little confused at first (I guess it’s not as popular as we thought? At least not in Quebec) but eventually produced a liquor bottle that claimed it was Caribou. Now, this was pre-mixed stuff, and he served it to us cold, but it was interesting nonetheless and I immediately knew I wanted to try and make a legit, warm version as soon as I got home.

After a bit of further research, we discovered that a Caribou typically contains red wine, whiskey and maple syrup. It sounded easy enough to make on our own! And seeing as we’re heading to Tahoe this weekend with the fam (in 20-degree weather nonetheless) I figured there was no time like the present to perfect this high-octane mulled wine.

Caribou | CaliGirlCooking.com

And perfect it I did! I strayed slightly from the original recipe in that I added a cinnamon stick, but I feel like any wine served warm (or whiskey for that matter) needs just a touch of spice. This recipe is incredibly easy to make, and as long as you have all of the ingredients on hand, all you have to do is throw them into a saucepan and heat them up.

Although I have not yet consumed enough Caribou in one sitting to worry about it, I feel obliged to tell you a little story we heard from the couple sitting next to us at the pub in Quebec where we enjoyed our Caribou.

After they helped translate what we were looking for to our waiter, this friendly couple visiting from Montreal started giggling a bit at our request. We asked them why they were giggling, and if we should be worried about this “local” drink we were ordering. They told us that Caribou is what everyone drinks during the city’s month-long Winter Carnival celebration…with the goal of drinking enough so that they don’t feel the cold. Hey, that sounded a lot like us!

BUT, they cautioned, the problem with Caribou is that if you drink too much and then go out into the cold weather, you don’t notice how much it’s hit you until you head back inside, at which point you’re apparently a mess and can’t remember anything the next day. Ahhhhhh….that’s why this was so funny. Here we were, just two American blondes, sipping on one stiff pour of ICED Caribou in preparation for our trek through the German Christmas Markets.

So, no, we did not get sick, or even feel the slightest bit of a buzz, but I feel it’s my duty to give you fair forewarning. We are, after all, talking about a cocktail made up of solely red wine AND whiskey.

Caribou | CaliGirlCooking.com

My message to you is that if you are headed (or live) anywhere frigid, you most definitely must try this unique Canadian cocktail, but sip with caution and know that it can pack a punch. Hopefully you won’t be driving anywhere anyway!

Caribou

A Canadian classic that's perfect for cold weather drinking - red wine, whiskey and maple syrup served warm with just a touch of cinnamon.

Course: Drinks
Servings: 2 cocktails
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces red wine (I used a red blend)
  • 4 ounces whiskey
  • 2-3 ounces pure maple syrup (depending on how sweet you want it)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring every once in a while, and then remove from heat. Pour into mugs and serve immediately.

Caribou | CaliGirlCooking.com

 

Who’s building the fire??

Wine & Food Pairing 101

Hi friends! I’m coming at ya today with something a little different than my typical Friday cocktail posts. Welcome to your last class for the week:

Wine & Food Pairing 101 | CaliGirlCooking.com

 

With Halloween behind us, it’s time to start thinking about our menus (and beverages!) for the incredibly food-centric holidays that are upon us. I know many of you (like me) have already been mulling ideas over in your head thinking about (a) which dishes would be a huge hit with your family and friends and (b) how MANY delicious dishes you can feasibly pull off.

Wine & Food Pairing 101 | CaliGirlCooking.com

Because you’ve already got enough to worry about with making the food, cleaning the house, decorating, and dealing with all the family drama, etc., I thought I’d help out by taking away some of the uncertainty you might have when deciding which wines you want to crack open with all of your special holiday meals.  That’s right folks, this here post is the answer to all of your most daunting questions about which wines to pair with which foods.

Wine & Food Pairing 101 | CaliGirlCooking.com

 

I’ve kept it short and sweet here, since this “cork dork” can go on about wine and food pairings for dayzzzzzz, but you know I’m always here to help if you have other questions or are perhaps serving something that I haven’t touched upon here. And don’t forget, I can now come to YOU to do a personal Wine Education Class (which, really, should be called a party) for you and your friends. Be sure to check out my Services page to see what’s available.

So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Wine & Food Pairing 101 | CaliGirlCooking.com

WHITE WINES

Chardonnay

The Scoop: There are two main camps of Chardonnay, oaked and unoaked. Often you’ll discover that you’re a fan of one or the other, but I personally enjoy both. The oaked Chardonnays are the ones you’ll have heard described as “buttery,” while the unoaked Chardonnays are aged in stainless steel and therefore have a crisper, more acidic taste to them. You may also see Chardonnays that have been aged in a combination of oak and stainless steel. These are frequently my favorites!

What to Eat with Oaked Chardonnays?

  • Butter and cream sauces (on pasta or light meats/seafoods)
  • Citrus-based dishes
  • Flaky white fish
  • Chicken
  • Shellfish
  • Butternut squash and pumpkin
  • Cream-based soups
  • Pungent, creamy Brie-like cheese (such as La Tur or camembert)

From the CaliGirl Cooking Archives:

Wine & Food Pairing 101 | CaliGirlCooking.com

What to Eat with Unoaked Chardonnays?

  • Grilled seafood
  • Chicken
  • Non-cream based citrusy dishes (especially if they involved seafood)
  • Oysters
  • Vegetable-heavy dishes and soups

From the CaliGirl Cooking Archives:

Wine & Food Pairing 101 | CaliGirlCooking.com

Sauvignon Blanc

The Scoop: Sauvignon Blanc tends to be herbaceous and full of tropical citrus notes, making it a great pairing for fresh vegetable dishes. It’s a lighter white, perfect for serving at a brunch or as guests arrive for Thanksgiving dinner. It tends to be on the lighter side, which means it can easily be enjoyed alone. New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs tend to have a grassier, more herbaceous flavor, while Sauvignon Blancs from the United States tend to be fruitier and more citrusy.

What to Eat with Sauvignon Blanc?

  • Crudites
  • Raw vegetable dishes (salads, etc.)
  • Chimichurri or other mild vinaigrettes
  • Goat cheese
  • Feta

From the CaliGirl Cooking Archives:

Wine & Food Pairing 101 | CaliGirlCooking.com

Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris

The Scoop: Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris has gotten somewhat of a bad rap due to being historically “bland” or “uninteresting.” That being said, many wineries are stepping up to the plate and making delicious and intriguing versions of the varietals. They’re popular in France and Italy, light wines that are quite refreshing. Although they may not stand up well against some of the heavier, more intense dishes you’ll be making during the holidays, they’re another great wine to greet your guests with or serve while everyone is lounging around during the long weekend.

What to Eat with Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris?

  • Primavera
  • Fresh citrus/cucumber based dishes
  • White fish served with remoulade or fresh fruit salsa
  • Raw seafood dishes
  • Fruit-forward salads
  • Dishes with a lot of fresh herbs
  • Hard, salty cheese such as Parmesan or Asiago

From the CaliGirl Cooking Archives:

Wine & Food Pairing 101 | CaliGirlCooking.com

Riesling/Gewurtztraminer/Viognier

The Scoop: I like to lump these all together in a group I call the “aromatic varietals.” They are incredibly floral on the nose, with hints of honeysuckle, jasmine and lychee. They are also made in a range from very sweet to almost bone dry, making them great companions for exotic, spicy food. If you taste one of these varietals and don’t enjoy it, don’t be discouraged! Simply be sure to try a different one the next time around. They come in so many different styles that eventually you’re sure to come across one you enjoy when paired with the right food.

What to Eat with Aromatic Varietals?

  • Indian food
  • Thai food
  • Sushi
  • Chinese food
  • Any chicken or seafood dish with a spicy sauce/preparation
  • Creamy blue cheese

From the CaliGirl Cooking Archives:

Wine & Food Pairing 101 | CaliGirlCooking.com

Champagne & Other Sparkling Wines

The Scoop: My favorite, and incredibly food-friendly! I know we all favorably refer to all sparkling wines as “Champagne,” but in reality, only wines hailing from the Champagne region of France can be heralded with that name. All other sparkling wine must be called something different. We have Cava, from Spain, Prosecco, from Italy, and Sekt from Germany and Austria. We’ve failed to come up with something creative here in the U.S., so our domestic sparkling wines are called just that: sparkling wine. No matter what type of “sparkling wine” you’re consuming, there’s always an excuse to pop a bottle.

What to Eat with Sparkling Wines?

  • Just about any type of cheese
  • Just about any type of charcuterie
  • Caviar
  • Oysters
  • Seafood – especially smoked salmon
  • Potato chips
  • Popcorn
  • Deep-fried foods
  • Sausages
  • Chicken

From the CaliGirl Cooking Archives:

Wine & Food Pairing 101 | CaliGirlCooking.com

ROSE

The Scoop: Our favorite happy medium between red and white wine. There are many different types of rose, but they always fall in the middle of the color spectrum. They can be sweet or dry, dark or light, made from any number of different grape varietals. This is another type of wine where you may need to try a few different incarnations before you find the perfect one for you.

What to Eat with Rose?

  • Ham or other pork
  • Poke (raw ahi tuna)
  • Heavier seafood (such as swordfish)
  • Cheese
  • Charcuterie
  • Dishes with any sort of berry topping or sauce
  • Roast chicken or other game

From the CaliGirl Cooking Archives:

Wine & Food Pairing 101 | CaliGirlCooking.com

Wine & Food Pairing 101 | CaliGirlCooking.com

RED WINES

Cabernet Sauvignon

The Scoop: The king of….wines? Probably the most recognized (and consumed) red wine out there, or at least in California. Thanks to the Napa Valley and its esteemed success, Cabernet Sauvignon is stranger to no one. It’s a bigger red wine, dare I say #basic? That’s unfair, because there are plenty of over-the-top delicious Cabs and Cab blends out there and I’m the first to jump at the chance to buy them. What I mean when I say “basic,” is this varietal goes with just about any food you’d think would “pair well with red wine.” If you’re a novice wine consumer, be sure to get yourself acquainted with these quickly!

What to Eat with Cabernet Sauvignon?

  • Steak (or any beef for that matter)
  • Pasta with red sauce
  • Mushrooms
  • Lasagna
  • Venison
  • Duck
  • Creamy blue cheese
  • Stew
  • Sausage

From the CaliGirl Cooking Archives:

Wine & Food Pairing 101 | CaliGirlCooking.com

Pinot Noir

The Scoop: The lightest of all red wines, Pinot Noir is a perfect “bridge” varietal. It’s great for those “in between” dishes, like seafood with a red sauce, turkey with stuffing, etc. In fact, a Pinot Noir is one of the most perfect wines you could pair with your Thanksgiving dinner (besides sparkling wine, of course.) It also pairs wonderfully with slightly heavier seafood, such as salmon or seared tuna. Nowadays, you can find Pinot Noir in all shapes and flavors. Some like it more on the minerally side (not my favorite) but there are also plenty of fabulous representations that are more jammy, rounded and fruit-forward (my personal preference.) Either way, you definitely need to stock up on this varietal for the holidays!

What to Eat with Pinot Noir?

  • Bouillabaisse
  • Seafood dishes with red sauce
  • Dishes involving bacon
  • Roast turkey (esp. with stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce)
  • Salmon
  • Seared tuna
  • Duck
  • Pork

From the CaliGirl Cooking  Archives:

Wine & Food Pairing 101 | CaliGirlCooking.com

Merlot

The Scoop: The other “basic” red wine. I have to admit, I had all but given up on Merlots until our trip to Napa the other weekend, where we tasted not one, not two, but at least THREE absolutely fantastic Merlots.  Folks, I think we’re seeing a resurgence. Gone are the Sideways days of bashing this classic red varietal. What we’re seeing now is pretty exciting. What used to be a one-dimensional wine is taking on multiple dimensions and, dare I say it? There’s actually some complexity to these wines! So go get yourself a Merlot from a top producer stat. You won’t be sorry.

What to Eat with Merlot?

  • Cheese and charcuterie
  • Everything else that you can pair with Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Any dish you’re having on a night that you want some wine but you don’t want to open your nice bottle of Cab 😉

From the CaliGirl Cooking Archives:

Wine & Food Pairing 101 | CaliGirlCooking.com

Syrah/Petite Sirah

The Scoop: THESE ARE NOT THE SAME GRAPE. No, they are not, but they’re fairly similar which is why I’m lumping them together and hoping you’ll forgive me. The main difference is that Syrah is smoother and more refined, with a hint of smokiness. Petite Sirah is bigger, more of a heavy hitter, tannic and bold. They are both mysterious and intriguing, and only  get better when paired with food.

What to Eat with Syrah/Petite Sirah?

  • Anything grilled or smoked
  • Red meat (especially if it’s grilled or smoked)
  • Heavier seafood (such as ahi, trout or swordfish, especially if smoked)
  • Lamb
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Wild boar
  • Olives
  • Hard blue or sharp cheeses
  • Bacon

From the  CaliGirl Cooking Archives:

Wine & Food Pairing 101 | CaliGirlCooking.com

Zinfandel

The Scoop: If I’m going to drink Zinfandel, I’m going to drink a really. good. Zinfandel. There are plenty of Zins that are way too fruity, with an old, musty quality. To me, a newly opened bottle of these types of wine taste as if they’ve been opened for a few days. Not my jam. But occasionally I come across a perfectly balanced Zinfandel that has me running for the barbecue. The type of Zinfandel that has just the right amount of fruit, with a dusty or smoky quality (and plenty of alcohol) to finish off the palate well-balanced, leaving you wanting more. My best advice? Keep your eyes out for the diamonds in the rough. They’re well worth it!

What to Eat with Zinfandel?

  • Everything BARBECUE
  • Chocolate (for the fruitier Zins)
  • Chili
  • Rich cheeses
  • Raspberries

From the CaliGirl Cooking Archives:

Wine & Food Pairing 101 | CaliGirlCooking.com

Sangiovese (and other Italian Reds)

The Scoop: Again, I’m lumping way too much together, but we’ll save the extreme breakdown for some other posts. Sangiovese is one of the (if not, THE) most popular varietals in Italy, and deservedly so. It’s BIG, and you’ll need some big food to go with it. It’s no lie when they say that the best food to pair with a wine is the food that’s made in the same area the wine is made in, and Sangiovese is no exception.

What to Eat with Sangiovese?

  • Any Italian food, especially that involving red sauce, red meat, or rich cheeses
  • Eggplant parmesan
  • Lasagna
  • Bruschetta
  • Pate

From the CaliGirl Cooking Archives:

Wine & Food Pairing 101 | CaliGirlCooking.com

So what do you think? Are you ready to conquer all of your holiday entertaining? Don’t forget, if there’s anything I left out that you’re super curious about, shoot me an email! Have a special dish you’re serving that I didn’t cover? Let me know in the comments below! I want you to have all the tools you need to take this holiday season by storm! XO

Wine & Food Pairing 101 | CaliGirlCooking.com

25 Wines That Shine for Mother’s Day

We’re mixing things up today! I figured that since I’ve now been posting weekly cocktail recipes for over 6 months, you should have plenty of options to choose from if mixed drinks are more your jam for celebrating Mother’s Day. BUT I’m also well-aware that many of you may not want to “hit the hard stuff” on this family-oriented occasion, so I thought I would tap in to my wine knowledge and share a little bit of it with you.

25 Wines That Shine for Mother's Day | CaliGirl Cooking

I’ve gathered 25 wines in varietals/styles that I’m pretty sure most moms would thoroughly enjoy, and today I’m not only sharing them with you, but giving you the tools you need to REALLY sound like you know what you’re talking about.

But before I try and tell you how YOU’RE going to sound like a first-rate sommelier at your Mother’s Day celebrations, let me tell you a little bit about myself and my wine background (I promise I know my stuff, guys!)

I started studying wine when I was living in Honolulu and just getting ready to start culinary school back in 2009. I had decided I wanted to take my First Level Sommelier Exam (from the Court of Master Sommeliers) and jumped into reading all of the “suggested literature” from cover to cover. I ended up moving back to California in the summer of 2010, and took my First Level Sommelier Exam at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena that July. That was my first “adult” introduction to the Napa Valley and I fell in love immediately.

Shortly after I received my Level One Sommelier Certification, I decided to branch out and start the Society of Wine Educators program. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Court of Master Sommeliers program focuses on knowledge, tasting and service, whereas the Society of Wine Educators program has far less emphasis on tasting and service and is almost solely dedicated to the knowledge/educational component. I took (and passed) the Certified Specialist of Wine exam in February of 2011.

25 Wines That Shine for Mother's Day | CaliGirl Cooking

I have all intentions of continuing my wine education one day, but at this point in time I’ve transitioned out of such a heavily wine-focused role, plus I have a few other things on my plate that have been keeping me busy!

Now that I’ve gone on and on about my personal life, are you ready to get into the good stuff and learn about what wines you’ll want to be serving for Mother’s Day this weekend? Disclaimer: I want to apologize in advance because no, I did not include any red wines in this roundup. Call me biased or opinionated, but I just didn’t feel that red wines are the drink of choice for Mother’s Day being that it’s celebrated in the heart of Spring, and usually during the day. BUT, if you are dying to hear my red wine suggestions, please shoot me an email or comment below and I’ll be happy to give you some recommendations!

Also, I’ve categorized all of the below wines using a few keywords to make your selection process super easy:

Supermarket find – These are wines that you should be able to find at your local supermarket that has a decent wine selection, BevMo, Costco, etc.

Bargain buy – These are wines that are (typically) under $20 a bottle.

Hidden gem – These are wines that you will most likely have to buy directly from the winery or online, not typically available at everyday supermarkets.

Amazon  – These wines are available to order off of Amazon (I get so excited about this) and I have conveniently included some links so you can order them right away!

Splurge  – Wines that are a little higher priced, but well worth the money. Invest in these if your Mom loves wine and would truly enjoy it.25 Wines That Shine for Mother's Day | CaliGirl Cooking

Okay, on with the roundup:

Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles

If you ask me, bubbles (that’s sparkling wine in its official capacity) are the answer for any and all celebrations (okay, maybe even when there aren’t celebrations to be had.) I LOVE BUBBLES. They’re my fave. Not only because they’re so festive, but because they can be enjoyed at ANY time of day, in any season, with so many different types of food (my favorite pairings include fresh seafood, any and all cheeses, and breakfast/brunch.) This makes them the perfect choice for Mother’s Day! Here are a few of my faves that fall under a wide range of style and price:

  1. Segura Viudas Brut CavaSupermarket find; Bargain buy
  2. Domaine Chandon Brut ClassicSupermarket find; Bargain buy
  3. Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc or Blanc de NoirsHidden gem; Splurge 
  4. Gruet Brut RoseSupermarket find; Bargain buy; Amazon
  5. Michel Olivier Cremant de Limoux NVHidden gem; Bargain buy

Chardon-hey-hey!

That’s Chardonnay for all of my mature readers out there. I’m just going to put this right out there – Chardonnay is SUCH the cougar wine. And I’m totally comfortable claiming this because I am one of those people that loves a good Chardonnay, so I’m basically making fun of myself. Yes, Chardonnay has been a favorite of Moms everywhere for quite some time now. It’s also one of the most common varietals you’ll see featured on wine lists and in stores when you’re out and about, so it’s great to know a thing or two about it! The great thing about Chardonnay is that there are soo many different styles out there. There are the stainless steel-fermented versions, that tend to be lighter and crisper, and then there are the oaked versions, which tend to be fuller-bodied and have a more buttery flavor. Chardonnays go well with what I like to call “heavy-light” dishes. These are dishes that are lighter in color (think cheesy, creamy, etc.) but definitely don’t skimp on the calories.  One of my absolute favorite pairings with a good Chardonnay is Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam. Delish! Here are some of my faves along with where you can find them:

  1. Alpha Omega Chardonnay (both the oaked and the unoaked versions) – Hidden gem; Splurge
  2. Sanford Chardonnay Sta. Rita HillsSupermarket find (in the SB area at least)
  3. Zaca Mesa ChardonnaySupermarket find; Bargain buy; Amazon
  4. Frank Family Vineyards Carneros ChardonnaySupermarket find; Amazon
  5. Summerland Winery Santa Barbara Chardonnay Hidden gem
  6. William Hill Estate Winery Napa Valley ChardonnayAmazon
  7. Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast ChardonnayHidden gem; Splurge

Rosé all day!

I know it has a certain reputation, but I just love rosė. Especially when there’s something to celebrate like Mother’s Day. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am VERY picky about my rosė. It must be perfectly balanced and not too sweet (although if sweet is your jam, by all means have at it.) I love rosė because it can pair well with lighter dishes, but can also hold up to something a little more hearty. Items such as ham (or maybe bacon?) are the perfect example of something that would be much better paired with rosė than with a lighter white wine. I’m sure most of you are aware of this, but I think it’s important to point out that “rosė” wine can be made out of many different varietals. Pinot Noir, Grenache and Syrah are a few common ones that come to mind. That being said, if you’re willing to give them a shot, I feel that there is a rosė out there for everybody. Here are a few of my faves:

  1. Uproot Wines Santa Ynez Valley Rosė Amazon
  2. Silver Mountain Rosė of Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains Bargain buy; Amazon
  3. Becker Vineyards Jolie Rosė BlendBargain buy; Amazon
  4. Cornerstone Cellars Corallina Napa Valley Syrah RosėAmazon





Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is my go-to varietal for all of my freshest, healthiest meals. It pairs wonderfully with fresh vegetables, anything with lots of herbs, citrus, and so much more. Making a kitchen-sink salad for dinner? Reach for a Sauvignon Blanc. At an outdoor party enjoying a fresh crudité platter? Reach for a Sauvignon Blanc. I usually sort my Sauvignon Blancs into two basic camps (okay, actually three) – those from the U.S. and those from abroad, specifically Australia/New Zealand and France. I find that the U.S. Sauvignon Blancs (most of which hail from California) tend to be more fruit- (specifically citrus-) forward while the Australia/New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs are more herbaceous and the French Sauvignon Blancs are a great embodiment of terroir (i.e. all of the environmental factors surrounding the growth place of the grapes.) Below are my current top picks:

  1. Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon BlancSupermarket find; Bargain buy
  2. Barnett Vineyards Dry Creek Andrews Vineyard Sauvignon BlancHidden gem
  3. Holman Ranch Carmel Valley Estate Grown Sauvignon BlancBargain buy; Amazon
  4. Hartwell Estate Carneros District Napa Valley Sauvignon BlancAmazon; Splurge
  5. Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Sauvignon BlancAmazon




Aromatic Varietals

Although this isn’t one particular type of wine, I thought it was important to touch on some aromatic varietals, as they tend to be enjoyed by those (especially females, i.e. Moms) who might not typically be the most seasoned wine drinkers. These include varietals such as Riesling, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier and Gewurtztraminer (say that ten times fast.) I’m not a huge fan of sweet wines unless (a) they’re actually being enjoyed for dessert or (b) they’re paired with super spicy food, but I realize not everybody is in the same camp. Because of my preferences, you’ll find that most of my selections below tend toward the less-sweet versions of these varietals, but rest-assured that there are sweeter versions out there. Nevertheless, all of these wines would pair well with lighter breakfast or brunch dishes that we’ll all likely be enjoying for Mother’s Day this weekend.

  1. Lucas & Lewellen ViognierAmazon
  2. The Ojai Vineyard Kick On Ranch Riesling Dessert WineAmazon
  3. Gundlach Bundschu GewurtztraminerHidden gem
  4. Inglenook BlancaneauxHidden gem; Splurge



And that wraps up my 2016 Mother’s Day Wines that Shine! I know this is a little different than my typical recipe post, so please leave some feedback on whether you liked it or not either via email (robin@caligirlcooking.com) or in the comments below.  Now that I am getting into more of a groove with posting regularly on the blog, I’m looking for ways to diversify my content and keep you coming back. Tell me, would you like to see more of this type of “informational” post? Based on my food, wine, traveling, entertaining, and sports background, what type of content would you like to see more of? I look forward to reading all of your feedback! XO

25 Wines That Shine for Mother's Day | CaliGirl Cooking