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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Caldwell Vineyard the "Maverick" legend of Napa Valley

In an effort to eat at all 3000 San Francisco restaurants(700 and counting) and visit all 600 Napa wineries(300 and counting), my wife Linda and I recently traveled to Caldwell Vineyard in Napa.

Caldwell Vineyard  is about a 45 minute drive from our home in Danville. It is proudly perched on 123 rolling acres of serene beauty and post card like majestic vistas overlooking the rich Napa Valley. The elegant wine tasting, done in the caves, includes a wide variety of cheeses, meats and crackers to enhance the wine tasting experience. It was 100 degrees outside the day we choose to taste, so the caves were a 'cool' way to taste the wonderful Caldwell wines.

Our host Cristina was very knowledgeable and passionate about the 28 different clone-specific grape varieties and the 23 wines that Caldwell makes. We began with a 2014 Sauvignon Blanc that was very refreshing and paired well with the Ewephoria cheese that was my favorite (Whole Foods sells it locally).  The 2014 Chardonnay and 2014 Syrah Rose were a great way to cool down from the sizzling outside temperature.  The 2012 Gold 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon was sensational and silky smooth. We also tried the 2012 Cabernet Franc and Tannat that is a favorite of many loyal wine club members.

Our favorite was the 2012 Carmenere that is deep in color, with tannins gentler and softer then the Cabernet, and is a medium bodied wine. This wine has a cherry like fruity flavor with smoky, spicy and earthy notes. Carmenere grapes have an interesting history. The origins go to the Medoc region of Bordeaux, France. The vines were struck with the Phylloxera plague and for many years the grape was presumed extinct. It was so good we took 2 bottles back to Danville with us.

The highlight of the tasting was when owner John Caldwell joined us. He is a high energy guy with a zest for life. His tales of how he smuggled many of these varietal vines from France is worth going to the website (www.caldwellvineyard.com) to read the Smuggling Story.  Caldwell is also one of the first U.S. wineries with its own on-site barrel cooperage that produces their own French Oak wine barrels. 

He said, "I love to be a part of the private tastings and share the interesting stories, love of the property and wide variety of wines." His passionate personality makes you understand the high quality reflected in all of his wines.

After the tasting, we enjoyed lunch at the nearby bustling Rutherford Grille where every day is like a Saturday night at most other restaurants.

There are no reservations and it is always full of happy foodies and wine lovers. When you enter the restaurant the smell of their favorite knife and fork baby back ribs gets your food senses tingling. They are served with cole slaw and fries. That is always my choice but all their food is great. They also serve generous pours of wines by the glass and reasonably priced bottles. The bar usually has open seats and it is a fun place to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere.

For a special cave tasting and great food, we would highly recommend Caldwell Vineyard and Rutherford Grille.

To make a reservation go to: CaldwellVineyard.com

Monday, July 27, 2015

Special Olympics World Games 2015 Opening Ceremony. By MJ McColgan "Inspiring Greatness"

Special Olympics has been an important part of my life.  It allowed me the opportunity to compete on a National and Global basis in the wonderful game of GOLF!  I loved the time I spent on the golf course trying to win the game by shooting the lowest scores at the many events that I competed in.  The favorite times for my Mom, Dad and me were the World Games. 

In 2003 we attended the World Games opening ceremony in Dublin, Ireland which featured many Irish stars including Bono and his band U2.  In 2007, we were in Shanghai, China and met founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver
shown in the picture with my Mom and Dad.  In 2011, we were in Athens, Greece at the same stadium where the first Olympics took place. All of these special places had inspiring opening ceremonies that will stay in our memories for a long time.

On July 25th, the 2015 Special Olympics World Games Opening Ceremony was held in Los Angeles.
at the LA Coliseum.  This is home of the University of Southern California football team and site of the first Super Bowl.  7,000 Special Olympic Athletes from all over the world were the real stars as they proudly marched into the stadium being cheered by the 100,000 happy fans.

It was a fun night for several reasons. Michelle Obama was there to open up the games.  She put aside  politics and was there for the athletes. She gave a great speech saying "These games show us we're all in this together and we can bring out the best in each other."   

A lot of great music was played by Mike D from the legendary Beastie Boys. It was cool that he was there. He was the DJ for the night. Stevie Wonder,Nicole Scherzinger and Jimmy Kimmel also added to the inspiring venue.  The fireworks show was spectacular as you can see in the above picture.

One of my favorite things about the World Games is I get a chance to meet a lot of nice people from all over the world. It is a focus on ability not disability.  It is about life not being perfect, but with hard work and confidence the athletes have a chance to show the world their abilities in the sports that they excel in.

When I was at lunch, I met a person from Ireland and she gave me a "Go Team Ireland" hat and wrist band.  It was a thrill since the first World Game I competed in was in Dublin, Ireland.

The people from Special Olympics are special people and I am honored to be part of this great organization.

Let the games begin.

Tokyo 2019? Will we attend? Time will tell........

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Spring Mountain Magic

In a effort to visit all 600 Napa Valley wineries(300 and counting) and eat at all 3000 San Francisco restaurants(700 and counting), my wife Linda and I recently did a "Day Trip" to charming St. Helena.

St. Helena is the home of Spring Mountain Vineyard which is off the beaten path.  The picturesque hillside winery sits on 845 acres of beauty and is close in size to New York's Central Park. The 225 acres of vineyard extends in altitude from 400 to1600 feet and produces some fabulous wines. The owners aim is to produce wines that are immediately drinkable, but also age-worthy. The grounds are meticulously attended to among the caves, vineyards, greenhouse and gardens. The Victorian home on the property was used as a backdrop for the soap opera Falcon Crest of the 1980's.

Valli Ferrell, Public Relations Director, and Lindsay McArdle, Tasting Room Manager, were our gracious hosts. From the web site, "Winemaker Susan Doyle collaborates with world renowned French Bordeaux experts to craft both European-style wines with the subtlety, complexity and long life of France's grand chateaux as well as classic Napa Valley Cabernets."

Having recently been to Bordeaux, these wines are elegant and rival many of the wines we tasted in France. Our stand up tasting was outside followed by sitting in comfortable Adirondack chairs overlooking the serene and magical Spring Mountain property.

We tasted reds including the Elivette signature wine, 2011 Pinot Noir and 2008 and 2001 Cabernet. All of them were great but we especially enjoyed the 2008 Estate Cabernet and 2001 Cabernet Library selection. The 2008 is a full bodied blend of Cabernet, Cab Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot and delivers a mix of black and red berries, plums, cranberries with a chocolate and spice finish.

The 2001 was a blend of  85%Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 5% Petite Verdot. Both of these estate wines were perfectly blended, rich and full of flavor.  We made sure that we took a bottle of each back to Danville to enjoy with our foodie and wine friends.

After our tasting, we went to downtown St. Helena and enjoyed  shopping at several of the creative stores followed by lunch at Market on Main Street that offered a classic soup and prime rib sandwich with a homemade cookie. The 100 year old Mahogany bar was also very impressive and gives a warm feeling to the bustling restaurant filled with happy patrons.

We highly recommend a visit to Spring Mountain Vineyard for a private tasting of their estate wines and to enjoy the elegant and peaceful setting of heavenly grapes and gardens.

To Make a tasting reservation go to:
or call 707-967-4188 M-F

707-967-4186 Saturday and Sunday

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Lake Tahoe American Century Golf Tournament 2015

July in Lake Tahoe is the place to be as the 26th American Century Celebrity golf tournament takes place at the serene and sensational and Edgewood CC.

The elegant and well manicured  golf course is a heavenly experience of unmatched beauty of towering pines and majestic mountains on the edge of the deep blue water of massive Lake Tahoe.

The ski lodge club house design is always full of excitement and has heavenly views of Lake Tahoe from the deck of world famous 19th hole Brooks bar. Some specials include Mahi Tacos and Mojitos while watching the golfers play the famous Lakeside 18th hole.

This is a special 3 day tournament televised on NBC filled with former sports heroes musicians and actors as Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Justin Timberlake and current Golden State Warrior World Champion and NBA MVP Stephen Curry to name a few.

Even former Vice President of the United States Dan Quayle is a regular participant.

We have played in this pro-am for 10 years and enjoyed all of the various celebrities.  One year we won the pro-am with former Super Bowl Champion Quarterback and Notre Dame star Joe Theisman.

This year was also a special treat and new tradition for MJ's mom  Linda and our good friend Sue Acquisto.

On Monday afternoon before the pro-am, they played the course and enjoyed a perfect sun splashed afternoon of fresh mountain air.

They were beaming with joy and already have plans to do it again next year.

Hall-of-Famer and National Special Olympics Golf Champion MJ and I were paired this year with former Oakland Raider wide receiver and Notre Dame Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown.

Tim will be inducted into the 2015 NFL Hall of Fame this August in Canton, Ohio. He was a joy to play golf with and had some great stories about his outstanding football career.

We asked him if he had his speech written for the induction ceremony and he said he was ready. He plans on not using any notes and speaking from the heart. His mother, family and 25 former teammates plan on attending. He was very close to his father who passed away 4 years ago. He said, "I hope that I will be able to get through that part of the speech when I honor my Dad for helping me to achieve all my success."

Lake Tahoe rocks and we look forward to returning to play in this tournament next July.

It is an addictive experience and very fun to watch your heroes in sports and life try and play the difficult game of golf.

If you have not been, add this event to your bucket list. The pure beauty of Lake Tahoe is a joy to experience.

Hit Em Straight.