there comes a time….it’s Enriquez time!


In every season of life, there comes a time. For something old to leave or get left behind, and something new to be loved and embraced. What once satiated us, no longer does and the bar continues to be raised.

When it comes to wine, I not only want to taste it and be thrilled by it, but I want the history and a story that hits home. Something that fills all of my senses while I enjoy it. Something that brings a genuine smile. So I meet this young lady named Cecilia at a Family Winemakers event. Wonderfully  positive and has some pretty darn good wines. So I wanted to learn more. Who is she, how did she get here, what challenges has she been through? So here it is!

cecilia dad 1

Cecilia was Born in Long Branch, New Jersey and went to school in Boston (that can’t be bad as MY family is from there as well). She graduated from Boston University in 2009 and went to work in the banking industry, Wells Fargo and through the wonderful world of corporate restructuring, she was let go. Bet more than a few of you out there can relate!

So she was going on a family ski trip to Tahoe with mom and dad and it turned out there was simply was no snow. So her dad, a physician and I think at this point, a visionary, decided to take a road trip to San Francisco instead.  They decided on a short stopover in Napa. Well, they never made it to San Francisco, ended up in Sonoma County instead. That’s where the pivotal moment happened. They loved the wines they tasted, especially Dad. The terroir was amazing and the wines pleased him to no end.

So they identify a parcel with 26 acres in Petaluma. They go to check it out but mom just won’t get out of the car. It’s that “have you lost your mind?” moment which can also be “this was the best decision I ever made”  moment. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between the two, much like blurred lines. They were only supposed to be there overnight. They never left and never made it to San Francisco. They checked out a few more vineyard properties but kept coming back to the magical 26 acres. Reminds me of 26 brix, right?

Ceclia Winery 4

Then the moment of truth. The property was purchased and Cecilia was given the daunting opportunity of running the operations. With zero winery experience, but business savvy and IT experience ,  she breathed life into what has now become an incredible winery. Determination and hard work is what it took and this gal is not shy when it comes to putting in the effort to get the desired result. She is truly relentless.

How can we tell? Taste the wines, my friend. Start up with the 2014 Brisa Sauvignon Blanc blend. It’s really delightful. Blending with Muscat and Chardonnay and not oaking brings this wine full circle. Next up is the 2015 Tempranillo Dry Rose, which is delightful for that warm spring evening.

Moving on to the reds, we have the 2012 Tempranillo. I love this varietal as its Spain’s most noble grape – and for good reason. Once again, a ‘wow’ wine with great fruit and finish. Cecilia also makes a lovely 2011 Pinot Noir. You can certainly taste the terroir on this one!  The recurring theme with her wines is the allegiance to staying true to the varietals used.

Cecilia Truck 2

To find people with humility and an open mind, is rare. To find them talented and hardworking as well as genuine is even more rare. To find they make great wine is simply divine! To find Cecilia and her wines is a gift!


CRU9 Winery builds Women of Strength

I’ve been away from the virtual pen and paper for so long I can’t even remember. Maybe a few years. Running an IT business, WineMatch and having a family, dogs and horses can be a bit overwhelming.  But something near and dear to my heart brought me back, namely CRU9 Winery. Faythe Stone-Brocka, residing just outside of Waterloo, Iowa, knows how to give back.  The winery name has a cool double entendre. Cru, the wine term meaning from a quality growth from a reputable grape growing region, and crew, meaning a number of folks with a common job or goal. Faythe is the 9th child born, thus CRU9.

At some point I need to speak to the wine so here we go. I found the labeling and bottle weight setting a high bar and in tasting inside the bottle, I was not disappointed. What’s inside is as solid as the bottle itself. The quality is top notch and the whimsical names made me believe there’s a free spirit behind all of this. But here’s the amazing thing. All the wines are solid – like Faythe. My favorite had to be the 2014 9th Power Reserve Napa. So much complexity and layers and years of aging will only add to this, yet it drinks amazingly well today.  Take note that Malbec is the primary varietal in this powerhouse of a wine. Next up was the 2015 Stop Talking Cabernet Sauvignon, which presented great fruit and perfectly balanced tannins and acidity.  The 2015 See You In Your Dreams RRV Pinot Noir was extremely aromatic and held onto its classic – yet delicate – Pinot Noir bouquet.  And the  2016 As Ever … RRV Chardonnay was nice in that the oak imparted vanilla notes and other flavors, yet the oak influence was subtle enough to allow the fruit to shine. 

Coincidentally, my oldest son Jonathan lives in Iowa not far from Faythe,where he holds my grandson Dean hostage – lol!  But one thing I always worried about and still do to this day is whether the women get the same opportunity as men. Same pay is still a ways away with the exception of some trailblazers. Is their physical beauty, or  a lack thereof, a blessing or a curse? CRU9 makes zero differentiation in working to create strong women! Remember and take note, as the youngest leader of a major Army was a woman. At the age of 18, Joan of Arc led the French Army in battle in the siege of Orleans, handily defeating the Anglo-Burgundian faction.  You see, Charles VII had the confidence in her and gave her a horse and armor and that was all it took. It was a statement of confidence. There are two places that Faythe has determined to be worthy of her resources and support which give deserving women new confidence. Ruby’s Place in Hayward, California, assists women that are victims of domestic violence and human trafficking and have been around since 1972. And then there’s the House of Hope in Waterloo, Iowa, providing homeless women with and without children a place to create or recreate a solid foundation on which to build.

In the end it’s really simple – You gotta have Faythe – and all she brings to the table.


Unshakeable Napa – Class Act!

Diem Brown

I have always found that tough times and situations bring out the best in mankind. When September 11th occurred, God Bless America resonated throughout Congress with hands held. In World War 2, the Americans, many of who perished overseas including my grandfather, stepped it up more than a few notches with some giving the ultimate sacrifice. And when a gal named Diem Brown goes to battle cancer for a third time, she starts a non-profit called MedGift . In as much as I like to ponder why the best comes out only during the toughest of times, I quickly become sidetracked by the good being had as a result. I relish in people acting as one. What brought this to a head to stimulate me to start writing again after a year or so absence are a few things.

Robin Williams

First, I too am saddened by the recent loss of Robin Williams, yet see the outpouring of his soul to help others, while suffering on his own. Amazing man. Loving man. Someone I wish I had the gumption to imitate. You know it, the ‘I don’t give a crap what others think, I am going to be me’ thing. But in the end, we all do care deeply, but it takes an event or maybe even a catastrophe to bring out the good. After all, is not really all about people helping those less fortunate? But truly with his comedic front, one could not fully appreciate the brilliant work he was doing on the back end in helping others. Those less fortunate, those sick or dying, those not able to fulfill their life’s dreams. It is in the spirit of making our time here count for things far greater than ourselves, that these selfless acts make a difference. I think the proper phrasing here is ‘personal sacrifice for a cause greater than ourselves’. Being a bit introspective here, but looking inside for answers inside oneself is just as important – if not more important, than to looking outside for them.

I find the greatest of folks are never fully appreciated until they are gone, like Ronald Reagan a perfect example. I hear references to this great at least weekly. That’s the testament of greatness. In wine, names like Andre Tschelistcheff resonate loud and clear as without a leader in Napa like him and so many others, would Napa be the sacred wine powerhouse it is today? I think not.

I now turn to Napa and the community of folks I have learned to love. From wineries like Ceja, B.R. Cohn, Merryvale, St Supery, Silver Oak and Beaulieu Vineyards. But within that community, I must include a very special man: Lewis Perdue, an entrepreneur, writer, and a real giver. Once the quake hit, Lewis was the first to set up a forum. This forum had two areas, namely ‘Help Needed’ and those ‘Help Offered’. So when I see this come out like anyone else, naturally I click on the link . I mosey over to the ‘Help Needed’ and I just cannot believe my eyes as I notice there are NO ENTRIES! I am thinking this is some sort of mistake, so in an attempt to sanitize whether or not this forum is working I click on ‘Help Offered’.


Lewis Perdue

Once again, I cannot believe my eyes but it is a different kind of disbelief. There are so many folks willing to help. I saw at least 24 folks willing to help from cleaning up glass and bottles, folks offering barrels, structural engineers, those willing to loan equipment to their neighbor and it goes on and on. Make no mistake, this is called an outpouring of love. A community of caring folks. So next time, when folks ask you what makes Napa so special, tell them it’s not just the wine, it’s the people and how they act as one when the chips are down.


And we’re not talking oak chips here!





Family Winemakers upcoming SoCal Event!

WineMatch is excited to once again be exhibiting at one of the best wine events in Southern California. 

If you like wine and live in California, you need to go to Del Mar (near San Diego) on March 9th from 3p.m. to 6p.m. for the Family Winemakers event. Having been to this event three times, this is one of WineMatch’s favorite wine tasting events as so many of our customers are showing off their wines. We like the event so much that we are exhibiting this year.

Make sure you stop by and say hello to the WineMatch crew and sign up for a chance to win an iPad.

I’ve noticed over the years that there are thousands of bottles of wine that never show up at your local retailer, but they are absolutely fabulous. A lot of the small family-run wineries do not have the distribution channels set up to be at Trader Joes or Costco, but they have fantastic wine. WineMatch and Family Winemakers help bridge this gap so consumers can deal directly with the wineries.

Since its founding in the year 1991, Family Winemakers of California has presented an Annual Tasting. Originally, the Tasting was developed as a trade-only type event; an opportunity for member-wineries and California’s wine trade to gather together and talk about the issues foremost in the minds of industry members while tasting great wine. Expect to be surprised by the great wines here.

New discoveries and old favorites — varietals you know and love, varietals you’ve never heard of — wineries from Mendocino to Temecula and every place in between. Taste California! There will be far too many wineries at each tasting for you to visit them all, so plan your time carefully. Use the list of participating wineries, the links to their web sites, and our Varietal Map on to develop your tasting strategy.

New this year: iSip Lounge Reserve Area – Saturday only from 3pm – 6pm. There will be 25 wineries pouring wines that range from $75 – $150 per bottle. There are limited tickets for this area so act soon as it is on a first come, first served basis. Here is a list of wineries and when they will be pouring.

Parking for the Del Mar event is $10 per day. RV parking is available for $20 per day. Click here to see a map to get to the Del Mar Fairgrounds.To get more information on this Family Winemakers event, click here. We look forward to seeing you there!

Because Family Winemakers represents the smaller wineries, the tasting is a unique opportunity to showcase the winemaking craftsmanship of vintners from across the state.

Family Winemakers now combines a separate consumer-only event with the annual tasting and now holds back-to-back tastings on both days. The first day now includes consumers from 3p.m. to 6p.m., although wine trade outfits gain early admission and can take advantage of this day to visit more wineries and collaborate with the many vendors of the trade.


WineMatch® debuts WheelPlay™ for iPad & Android at Family Winemakers!

WineMatch, the leading wine matching web site with integrated social media, has optimized its search tools for use with Apple’s iPad and Android tablets. WheelPlay™ has been enhanced with sliders and helpful tips in making it even easier for consumers to find the right wine easily and quickly. “WineMatch works on the iPad and Android tablets so folks can take advantage of our website while dining or shopping,” says Ed Leard, WineMatch CEO.

By using the sliders, consumers can quickly and easily adjust things like Fruit, Finish, Aroma, Oak, Tannins and others characteristics. For example, if you like a Sterling Vineyards 2006 Merlot, simply click on the center of the wheel. WheelPlay™ then allows you to specify more Fruit and Complexity and easily refresh your results to better tailor wines results to your specific tastes. Also unique to WineMatch, this functionality allows you to find wines that have similar qualities regardless of grape varietal.

WineMatch is the only website that allows consumers to drill down to this level of detail and specify exactly what they like.  “It is incredible,” says Jon, owner of Inspiration Vineyards in Santa Rosa. “In a few years every winery will have their wines on WineMatch. It will become the new standard for wine, dramatically decreasing the relevance and dependence of a 100-point system controlled by a handful of wine critics.”

WineMatch launched the new innovative mobile search tools this week to celebrate the Family Winemakers Event in San Francisco at historic Fort Mason on September 9th and 10th. Ed also added “This is the premier California event where family-owned wineries in California debut their new vintages to restaurants, hotel, wine bars and consumers. We partnered with the Family Winemakers and are proud to be exhibiting at this extraordinary event in San Francisco.

The Family Winemakers event is open to consumers on Sunday September 9th 1PM to 5PM. Visit  and enter “WineMatch” for a special 20% off discount! Also, you can enter to win a free new iPad3 by signing up as consumer by September 30, 2012 or by visiting us at the WineMatch booth at the event.

WineMatch is a privately held company founded in 2002, based in Laguna Hills, California. Our mission is to simply better serve wineries and consumers. More information is available by contacting or calling 949.273.5302.




San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival is Coming Soon!

Now celebrating nine years of wine and culinary excellence, the 9th annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival is where aficionados meet in search of the hottest culinary and wine trends on the West Coast. Join world-class wineries as well as restaurants and gourmet foods in what is called the Top 10 Can’t Miss Wine FestivalsWineries — sign up today to secure your participation and have your brand listed on the Festival’s newly redesigned website.

WineMatch recommends both wineries and wine lovers attend this event on Saturday, November 17th from 11a.m. to 3p.m.. After attending this event the past few years, WineMatch is very impressed with how many wineries and restaurants attend this huge wine event in Southern California. It is a fun event located in the heart of San Diego Bay next to the Seaport Village. The top chefs in the city are competing for the best dish as wineries from all over California pour their top wine selections.

As one of the largest wine and food festivals in the nation, the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival has helped shine the light on San Diego’s thriving food scene. The magnitude of culinary talent in San Diego combined with an international showcase of the world’s premiere wines and spirits, and the nation’s trendsetting culinary masters, makes attendance at the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival a mouthwatering feast and precursor to the Thanksgiving holiday.

WineMatch, the leader in matching wines to consumers, is proud to partner with the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival to help market WineMatch’s unique business to consumers. WineMatch will have a tent at the event where consumers will have the opportunity to win a free iPad in addition to tasting some of the best chocolates in the world.

WineMatch recommends every winery wanting to market to consumers directly and to restaurants in San Diego that they sign up for a table at this event. We’ll see you there! Also, if you are in Southern California and you like wine, we definitely recommend you get to San Diego in November to participate in the Wine & Food Festival. By entering “winematch” as a consumer, you can get 10% off this event.

Display your Wines in Style at Family Winemakers!

Consumers today use iTunes genius or Pandora to help get suggestions for their music or create their own radio station with suggested favorites based on songs they like. And they use to find the best match for a date based on similar criteria. The list goes on and on. WineMatch performs this service free to consumers for the wine industry. Consumers can see other wines they like based on wines in their current likes, which they do by simply placing wines in their ‘favorites’. For wineries to fully leverage WineMatch with consumers at Family WineMakers event September 9th & 10th at Fort Mason in the heart of San Francisco, we recommend you submit your wines to us by August 31st for the wines you will pour at Family Winemakers. This way, we will be able to proudly display your shelf-talkers for consumers to see. We’ll gladly profile one wine at no charge to you. If you want to profile more than one wine, contact WineMatch for our special Family Winemaker discount. If you’re not sure if you have a log in , just fill out this simple form and we’ll approve you within a day so you can start updating your information and submit wines.

In return for your wine submissions, WineMatch will prepare these custom shelf-talkers for your wine showing consumers what are the components in the wine are using the WineMatch Wheel™ on one side and your front wine label on the other. WineMatch staff will present these at the Family Winemakers’ event and you can display it proudly next to your wine. It will truly set you apart from the crowd and have the consumers ogling for your attention. When submitting wines, know that you’ll be entered into the only wine matching database in the industry! Additionally, your wines are pushed out the social media outlets and to our followers. Most importantly though, you’ll be on our website which typically has the wine rated in the top 5 results on Google for phrases related to your wine.

So if a consumer finds a wine they like at Trader Joe’s or Costco and your wine has similar characteristics, you will show up as a match for that consumer who likes that type of wine. WineMatch is proud to be a sponsor this year of the Family Winemakers event and we are excited to have such a strong relationship with so many wineries that are exhibiting already. I think one of our longtime advocates sums it up best when he says:

“WineMatch allows you to match for yourself wines that you have experienced with against wines that fit the same profile. Genius! I recommend every winery submit their wines to WineMatch!” 
Jon Phillips 
Inspiration Vineyards & FW Board Member

We look forward to seeing all of you at the Family Winemakers event. Keep in mind we will be having an online webinar on Wed. Aug 8th at 3PM if you want to know more before the event. We will also be available in person at our table at Family Winemakers on Sunday from 1PM to 6PM. Come join us on Monday September 10th at 11:30AM at Fort Mason Room C210 for a FREE lunch and a unique presentation and see how it all works together!

Family Winemakers + Fort Mason = Magic!

I  personally believe Fort Mason is the perfect venue for Family Winemakers’ San Francisco event. With views of the Golden Gate and Alcatraz, the famed Pier 39 a brisk walk away and its selection of fine eateries. Ah, the smell of the fish market and fresh sourdough bread blends in with the ocean breeze. The cable cars entertain with their simultaneous trips up and down the hill. And when it’s time for dessert, there’s Ghirardelli Square. Not much compares, until you understand exactly what Fort Mason meant to so many.

The year was 1942, and young men on repurposed victory ships were setting sail to the southwest Pacific. It was World War 2 and not all was well. The age of drafting young men had risen to 40 years old to ensure there were enough to serve. My grandfather was drafted at 36 and was one of those that would leave and not return. But many did return and the stories they brought were not always shared as it was a difficult time for those both home and away. Upon their return, they were decommissioned on Treasure Island, an island midway between the Oakland Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate encompassing 535 acres. Winning the war for all of mankind brought us the values and prosperity of a nation like no other.

One only need to go outside to the docks and look across the Golden Gate to imagine what took place some 60 years ago. To many, the US flag is the sign of freedom, but to World War II veterans that served in the Pacific theatre, it’s really the Golden Gate bridge that signifies freedom, as that was the symbol seen when they left and when returned – for most. As of the last set of data I received, over 1,000 World War II veterans leave us every day – quite staggering to think of it in those terms.

Fast forward to today, where Fort Mason is an event venue for Family Winemakers. It is one of the trade’s largest events, if not the largest. Hundreds of California’s finest family wineries share their wines with folks from the trade and consumers alike. Nowhere in my many years of traveling the domestic wine circuit have I seen more wineries in one place. On Sunday, September 9, the trade session is open from 1PM to 3PM and it then opens to the public from 3PM to 6PM. If you are attending make sure to click here and enter “WineMatch” as the promotional code when you register to receive a 20% discount!

On Monday, September 10, it is open from 2PM to 6PM for trade only. Click here for more information. Also, WineMatch is holding a free seminar for wineries that includes tremendous lunch fare. We are holding this presentation on Monday, September 10th at 11:00a.m. so you can check us out, eat and have plenty of time before the start of the 2PM trade session. To sign up, please email

We hope to see you there and share some new memories!

Also remember to enter “WineMatch” promotional code for the public session for a 20% discount!

Shelton Vineyards in Yadkin Valley, North Carolina!

Once in a while, things come along that challenge conventional thinking. Today, you don’t need to wear a tie to make good money, diesel technology is clean and efficient, and that little iPhone has more computing prowess than the Space Shuttle. You see, I recently discovered something I not only want to share, but need to share. It’s like I want to be the first one that found out, but know a few others must know already. Shelton Vineyards in North Carolina’s Yadkin Valley AVA grows its own vinifera grapes and makes great wine – yes, I said great. Shout it from the highest mountain, as these folks are for real and NC is now on my wine radar to stay.

It’s a story about two brothers, Charles and Ed Shelton from Mount Airy, whose passion for life and achievement is nothing new. Their father was a barber and farming came from their mother’s side of the family. They spent summers working on a tobacco farm. Once on their own, they embraced the homebuilding and construction businesses- having started starting with a mere $2,000 which they had borrowed in 1962. After growing the business for many years, they found themselves the successful owners of Shelco. By 2005 they employed 300 folks with revenues in excess of $300 million. Now that’s taking care of your community to a whole new level!

In 1994, they bought an old dairy farm in Surry County at auction. They did not have plans for it initially. The idea of a winery came to Charlie in 1998 when he saw a program at University of California in Davis.  After doing a little research, the brothers decided to take this idea for a spin. They faced several challenges in starting a winery such as assembling a world-class team to bring the project to fruition. They brought in Miguel Sanchez and his family from Oregon to run the vineyard. Miguel had previously enjoyed a 10-year career at Benton Lane. Murphy Moore, another Oregon winery veteran, joined the team. She had been at Cloninger Cellars until it closed in 2003 and worked briefly at Dunham Cellars in Walla, Walla, Washington. Murphy has been in the wine industry since 1997.

Today, they are Shelton Vineyards. Having been in Dobson, NC since 1999, they employ twenty-five folks over a land totaling 384 acres and a world-class restaurant (headed by Culinary Institute of America Chef Paul Lange). Just off the property, the Shelton’s built a Hampton Inn in 2007.It is the only Hampton Inn in the world with a wine bar, and the hotel has been ranked in the top 3% in the chain for overall customer satisfaction for the past three years. They also hold the title of being the largest family-owned estate winery in North Carolina and have current processing capacity for 50,000 cases in their state-of-the-art 33,000 square-foot facility. Having led the effort to make Yadkin Valley an official AVA in 2003, they are now one of over 30 wineries in the Yadkin Valley. They have won over 500 awards and even earned a Gold Medal in the Los Angeles County Fair with their Yadkin Valley Riesling- which we found to be delightful. Other vinifera grapes planted in the 130 cultivated acres include including Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc, Tannat, and Viognier.

Someday, Charlie and Ed hope to see younger members of the family take over Shelton Vineyards in the tradition of many great estate wineries; although, neither is thinking about retirement anytime soon.  One or the other is there every weekend, talking to people as they come in, loading wine in customer’s cars, or cleaning up after tour groups.  They are hands-on supervisors with each new project, and while they don’t do any serious farming, they both enjoy getting their hands dirty.

“We’re not ready to turn it over to the kids,” says Ed.  “We’re still having too much fun.”

If you loved the last vintage…

You may just love the next as well. As we cycle back in from our latest round at Paso Robles where we were welcomed by the wonderful Paso wineries, we’re adding yet another layer of functionality previously unheard of and we’re pretty surprised were the only ones doing it – or maybe not so surprising.

Here’s how it works. A consumer gets on our site and adds a 2011 Sauvignon Blanc to their favorites, which triggers a lot of activity. Just by doing that alone they receive winery deals, events and matches to this wine. We thought it through a little more and figured it would be really nice and considerate that if they loved a winery’s 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, we would let them know when the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc is released from that very same winery, along with any deals the winery might be offering on this wine.

Although vintages vary from year to year, many wineries work hard to have consistency on certain qualities from vintage to vintage. For instance, if I have had a 2010 Groth Sauvignon Blanc and know they use their own estate fruit, you can rest assured that it’s pretty much the same fruit simply with vintage variances. This way, the relationship between the winery and the consumer can grow and flourish. A common thing I hear at every restaurant I frequent is this “Hey, remember that wine we had last time was a Merryvale and we loved it – let’s get another Merryvale! “. So many precious memories are associated with wine and the people we care about.

When I think of my mom, I think of when she first tasted a 1997 Cakebread Three Sisters Cabernet and said in French “C’est du bon jus”, meaning “that’s some good juice!”. With my father, I think of a 1997 Georges de la Tour and with my wife, the 2004 Merryvale Profile.

WineMatch’s first year was pinnacled by the wonderful wines of DeLille Cellars and meeting Greg Lill, Chris Upchurch and Jim Holmes (pictured with Ed), who took us up to Red Mountain and taught us about how the soil composition came to be in the Pleistocene era some 12,000 years ago. The salient point here is good people and good times often times carry associations to certain wines and can even include the vintage. So if we offer the latest vintage of something that has meaning to folks, surely that can’t be bad!