Break Out the Glasses: 3 Wines To Sip During California Wine Month

Did you know that California accounts for nearly 90 percent of American wine production? Or, that if California were a separate country, it would be the world's fourth-largest wine producer?

We take wine seriously in the Golden State and rightfully so. Some very special grapes grow right here at home and September marks the start of prime time harvesting season for California winemakers.

Even if you’re not planning a visit to wine country, you can still celebrate the harvest. Here are three of my favorite local wines that showcase the quality and broad range of wine styles in California. Break out your stemware and start sipping.


1. Saxon Brown, Semillon ‘Fighting Brothers Cuvee’ Sonoma County CA 2012

This is a fantastic wine that’s approachable and quite remarkable in quality-to-value ratio. It features bright, crisp notes of white peach, citrus blossom and fig. The structure of the wine is an outstanding balance of mouthwatering acidity and a hint of residual sugar. This wine sees no oak contact nor does it undergo malolactic fermentation, instead it develops a richness and complexity through sur lie aging.

Pairing Tip: With a broad spectrum of rich and fresh attributes, this wine goes great with zesty vinaigrette salads, all types of seafood, and even spicy foods. Come try this wine paired with our Snapper Crudo or Grilled Heirloom Carrots.


2. La Rochelle, Pinot Meunier ‘Sarallee’s Vineyard’ Russian River, Sonoma CA 2012

This wine is absolutely mind-blowing and unique. Pinot Meunier is a very uncommon varietal to see used exclusively in a wine and this beautiful expression is captivating with elegance and finesse. In Champagne, Pinot Meunier, along with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, is used almost exclusively for sparkling wine. Today’s scientists believe that Meunier is a genetic mutation of Pinot Noir which makes a lot of sense with it’s subtle parallels in flavor profile. The famous Saralee's Vineyard is an amazing site which lets Pinot Meunier develop the complexity of Pinot Noir with a soft but rustic twist. To accentuate the uniqueness of the variety, this wine was aged partially in American Oak barrels, which adds a delicate herbal smokiness.

Pairing Tip: This wine works exceedingly well with lightly seasoned chicken or pork dishes that have sweet components. Join us for dinner and try this wine paired with our Niman Ranch Roasted Pork Loin for an unforgettable flavor combination.


3. Orin Swift, Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Mercury Head’ Napa Valley CA 2012

With 15.5% ABV and a strong, rich tannic structure, this monster of a wine is sure to leave a lasting impression. The wine has a deep ruby red complexion with elegance and purity along with aromas of black raspberries, currants, cassis, cedar and rose petals. On the palate, it has the lushness of dark berries, cocoa, plums and black cherries.

Beyond taste, this wine’s packaging is a work of art. The front of the bottle consists of a single Winged Liberty Head dime, where the moniker “Mercury Head” is coined from. This has special meaning to winemaker Dave Phinney who has collected these dimes since he was a child. All of Orin’s labels are really interesting. Take notice and I think you'll agree.

Pairing Tip: Enjoy this wine by itself or with foods that are equally cumbersome. Beef, game, pork and BBQ are all prime pairings. At California Modern, this wine pairs wonderfully with our 28 Day Dry Aged New York or Beef Tenderloin.


If you feel like being adventurous, check out some of the wine events happening throughout September at This website has a plethora of information on upcoming wine festivals, as well as a map that displays events by location, from Sonoma Wine County Weekend to Temecula Crush. And most importantly, no matter where you are or who you're with, take time to enjoy a good glass of California wine this month because life is too short to drink bad wine.