3 Bay Area Sommeliers Present Their Favorite Bottles

Ella Chakarian | April 20, 2021 | Food & Drink

Three Bay Area sommeliers present their top bottles.

Muns Vineyard in the Santa Cruz mountains MINDEGO PHOTO COURTESY OF MINDEGO RIDGE VINEYARD
Muns Vineyard in the Santa Cruz mountains

MARY ORLIN

Mary Orlin. PORTRAIT BY JON ORLIN
Mary Orlin.

The James Beard and Emmy Award-winning wine journalist is also co-host of the wine podcast Sip, Sip, Hooray! Orlin—also known as WineFashionista to her social media followers—is a certified sommelier and WSET advanced certified with merit. Her NBC television show, In Wine Country, continued for nine seasons, claiming the title for the longest-running and most awarded wine program in history. An accomplished writer, her work has been seen across numerous publications such as HuffPost and Napa Sonoma Magazine. Most recently, Orlin shared her passion and exuberance for wine as the wine writer for San Jose Mercury News and East Bay Times. Here, she unveils her top vino picks, declaring, “Give these eight great wines a try, and you’re sure to discover some new favorites.”

1. Alfaro Family Vineyards 2019 La Playita Vineyard Estate Gruner Veltliner

“Aromatic and zesty, Alfaro’s gruner, full of crisp citrus, lime zest and white flowers, is like sipping summer in a glass.”

2. Lion Ranch Winery & Vineyards 2018 Viognier

“This voluptuous viognier is like a heady perfume with jasmine, peach, tropical fruit and honey enveloping your senses with pure decadence.”

3. Neely Wine 2017 Home Block Chardonnay

“The Neely family, with winemaker Shalini Sekhar at the helm, grows and creates dazzling chardonnay and pinot noir from their Portola Valley Spring Hill Vineyard.”

4. Mindego Ridge 2019 Rosé of Pinot Noir

“Stacey and Dave Gollnick grow pinot and chardonnay; star winemaker Ehren Jordan crafts the wines. It’s easy to rosé all day with this pink wine from pinot noir grapes, a delectable rosé, flooding your senses with juicy strawberry and refreshing blood orange fruit.”

5. Muns Vineyard 2016 Pinot Noir

“Grown in the Santa Cruz Mountains’ highest-elevation pinot noir vineyard, this soulful wine from Muns is a steal for the quality.”

6. Margins Wine 2020 Counoise

“Winemaker Megan Bell favors interesting varietals from undiscovered vineyards, such as this Santa Clara Valley counoise, a fresh, fruity and spicy wine sure to please any red wine devotees.”

7. Big Basin Vineyards 2016 Rattlesnake Rock Syrah

“Named for the rock formation in the middle of this Boulder Creek vineyard, Bradley Brown’s syrah, made to highlight the aromatics, is always a favorite.”

8. Perrucci Family Vineyard 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

“Think old-school cab, the Santa Cruz Mountains’ version of ‘iron fist in a velvet glove,’ with complexity, power and a silky mouthfeel, along with black fruit, mocha, cedar, tobacco leaf and cardamom, with a crazy long finish.”

DENNIS KELLY

Dennis Kelly DENNIS KELLY PHOTO BY JIM SULLIVAN
Dennis Kelly

With more than 35 years of experience in the food and wine industry, master sommelier and Protégé Palo Alto owner Kelly served as head sommelier at The French Laundry for nearly a decade. In each year that Kelly led the comprehensive program, the restaurant’s wine list earned the distinguished Wine Spectator Grand Award. For six years, he was an instructor at the International Culinary Center, sharing his wisdom and mentoring prospective restaurant and wine industry professionals. Now, Kelly owns and operates Protégé Palo Alto, a Michelin-starred restaurant, alongside chef Anthony Secviar. Here are Kelly’s current favorites.

1. Accendo Cellars 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley

“2019 Winemaker of the Year Françoise Peschon utilizes a sauvignon musqué clone and sémillon to layer exotic passion fruit and honeysuckle over notes of fresh grapefruit, white peach and wild thyme. The palate has a lovely touch of creaminess, yet finishes with a saline minerality.”

2. Dakota Shy Oakville Ranch Vineyard 2018 Cabernet Franc, Oakville

“Powerful and dense, with loads of blackcurrants, graphite and violets. The texture is velvety, with a refined core of plush tannins. Definitely a winery to watch!”

3. Detert Family 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

“This wine is brimming with inky cassis, chocolate mint and baking spice—yet shows harmony, equilibrium and a sense of place.”

4. Kongsgaard “The Judge” 2018 Chardonnay, Napa Valley

“This seductive chardonnay is barrel-fermented in new French oak. The stony, slightly reductive nose explodes with scents of peach, lemon and marzipan.”

5. Massican “Annia” 2019 White, Napa Valley

“2017 Winemaker of the Year Dan Petroski blends refreshing, mineral-driven white wines inspired by the wines of Friuli. One of the most distinctive and intriguing produced in the Napa Valley, it strikes a balance between power and restraint.”

AMY MORGAN

Amy Morgan AMY MORGAN PORTRAIT COURTESY OF SUBJECT
Amy Morgan

Morgan is the enthusiastic and seasoned wine director and owner of Bay Area Wine Company, a club that offers curated subscriptions to a range of clientele. Her passion for wine propelled her career trajectory. Morgan graduated from the prestigious Wine & Spirit Education Trust Diploma Program in London and has been a sommelier in San Francisco for 12 years. Her previous experience in the industry ranges from her position as wine director for Wine Meats Cheese and beverage director for San Francisco’s Shin Dig restaurants. Also the owner of Mater Wine Consulting LLC—where she offers wine consulting and personalized education for her clients—Morgan truly does it all. Check out her go-to sips here.

1. Young Inglewood 2019 Aligoté, Napa Valley

“Aligoté is a grape rarely seen in California, or indeed in the U.S., but I can confidently say this wine is exceptional! The wine is luscious to drink, with notes of citrus fruits, lime curd and a mineral finish that has an essence of white Burgundy.”

2. Carte Blanche UV Vineyard 2018 Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast

“This wine reminds me of Meursault mixed with California sunshine! It has a restrained elegance that highlights a mineral-driven edge while showcasing notes of white peaches, lemon curd, nectarine and the slightest touch of brioche.”

3. Liquid Farm Vogelzang Vineyard 2019 Rosé, Santa Barbara County

“This rosé has tons of minerality, pomegranate, white raspberry and blood orange notes. It goes with everything, especially sunshine and friends!”

4. Rivers-Marie Silver Eagle Vineyard 2018 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast

“This single-vineyard pinot noir is extremely aromatic with aromas bursting out of the glass. Sweet red cherries, dried flowers and cinnamon stick surrounded by spice and earthy notes.”

5. Seven Stones 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

“This wine has so much depth and complexity and is matched only by its grace and elegance. This cabernet sauvignon is silky and smooth with gorgeous notes of black cherries, black currants, dark chocolate, leather, tobacco and a touch of cedar.“



Tags: wine

Photography by: MUNS PHOTO BY MARY LINDSAY/COURTESY OF MUNS VINEYARD; ORLIN PORTRAIT BY JON ORLIN; DENNIS KELLY PHOTO BY JIM SULLIVAN; AMY MORGAN PORTRAIT COURTESY OF SUBJECT