Six Wines Under $15 - January Edition

Six Wines Under $15 - January Edition

For over 20 years Walt and I enjoyed all the benefits that came with being wine professionals. From lavish meals at five star restaurants to drinking some of the world's best wines in some of the prettiest vineyards. We could wax lyrically with the best of them about the pluses of a fine Burgundy, Bordeaux, Chateauneuf du Pape or Single Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel and we bartered with many fellow professionals swapping great finds. However, the benefit we probably miss the most is being able to buy expensive wine at drastically reduced prices (often wholesale)!!

When you've been a wine professional as long as we have, it can be hard not to drink quality wine all the time but we all have limits and in our case a kid's college payment looming. So can you drink quality wine at affordable prices? With a little bit of knowledge and a good relationship with your local wine store you can (our local fave is Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa, CA). We'd like to share some of our value finds with you. Today we're going to start monthly recommendations of 6 wines, all under $15 (taxes and prices change per state)

So to kick off January's recommendations we're choosing three whites and three reds, all of which we drink and/or share with friends regularly. We highly recommend, if you don't have one already, finding a local wine store where you can build rapport with the wine professional. Once they start to understand your palate and what you like, it will be easier for them to make recommendations you'll love.

If you know what you like already, we hope our selections broaden your horizons and if you're a relative novice, we hope they'll help get you started, The good news is, they're all delicious and affordable - a winning combo. 

Download a printable list HERE

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Rock Shrimp Pasta

Rock Shrimp Pasta



1 pound Rock Shrimp, deveined, rinsed and patted dry

4 tomatoes, chopped (preferably seeded and skinned)

4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

2 shallots, minced

1 cup dry white wine

2 cups dried penne pasta

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. butter


Pepper (preferably Aleppo pepper)

½ cup grated parmesan

¼ cup chopped Italian parsley


  1. Bring six quarts of water to a boil and cook pasta using package instructions.

    Heat a large saucepan or skillet over medium heat.  Add olive oil.  When fragrant, add shallot and sauté until soft, about one minute.  Add garlic and cook for one minute while stirring.  Add fresh tomatoes and cook until melted, about five minutes.  Add white wine and return to simmer.  Add rock shrimp and cook until shrimp are cooked through, about four minutes.  Turn off heat and add butter, stirring to melt.  Drain pasta and add to saucepan.  Season with salt and pepper, then toss to combine (check seasoning) and divide into four warm bowls. 

    Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and chopped parsley.


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Beef and Guinness Stew by Darina Allen

Beef and Guinness Stew by Darina Allen


  • 900g lean stewing beef
  • 3 tablespoons oil or dripping
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • Salt, freshly ground pepper and cayenne
  • 2 large onions (about 285g), coarsely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato purée, dissolved in 4 tablespoons water or 1 tbsp of Tomato Paste
  • 300ml (½ pint) Guinness
  • 225g carrots, cut into chunks
  • Sprig of thyme
  • Chopped parsley for garnish


  1. Trim the meat of any fat or gristle, cut into cubes of 5cm and toss them in a bowl with 1 tablespoon oil. Season the flour with salt, freshly ground pepper and a pinch or two of cayenne. Toss the meat in this mixture.

    Heat the remaining oil or dripping in a wide frying pan over a high heat. Brown the meat on all sides. Add the onions, crushed garlic (if using) and tomato purée to the pan, cover and cook gently for about 5 minutes.

    Transfer the contents of the pan to a casserole, and pour some of the Guinness into the frying pan. Bring to the boil and stir to dissolve the caramelized meat juices in the pan. Pour on to the meat with the remaining Guinness; add the carrots and the thyme. Stir, taste, and add a little more salt if necessary.

    Cover with the lid of the casserole and simmer very gently until the meat is tender - 2 to 3 hours. The stew may be cooked on top of the stove or in a low oven at 150C/gas mark 2. Taste and correct the seasoning.

    Scatter with lots of chopped parsley and serve with champ, colcannon or plain boiled potatoes.

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Uncle Waltie's Quick Local Halibut Perfection

Uncle Waltie's Quick Local Halibut Perfection

This delicious dish, I have to admit, was from a truly fantastic Valentine Dinner made by, non other than our resident chef, Mr CapaBunga, earlier this week! It was our first meal after a 3 day cleanse but still worked within a non sugar, carb, gluten diet (Plant Paradox) we've been trying. Walt, who can often make quite elaborate meals, tells me that this one is super simple so it seemed like a perfect one for our next blog post. We served it with a delicious Gobelsburger Riesling 2015  which really brought out the best in the wine and in the dish - ENJOY, I know we certainly did even though diet wise, we weren't meant to have the wine (well, it was Valentine's after all)

See recipe below. 


4             Wild caught California (not Alaskan) Halibut Fillets – 4 oz each (Substitute snapper if halibut unavailable)

4             Heads of baby bok choi, roughly chopped and washed

4             stems of green(spring) garlic

½ tbsp   grated ginger

½ tbsp   white wine

2 tbsp    French butter

               Olive oil




Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Remove outer, slightly red portion of green garlic and chop only the white portion.

Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper and drizzle with a small coating of olive oil.  Pat halibut dry and place on parchment.  Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a large non-stick skillet to medium and melt one tablespoon of butter.  Add ginger and green garlic and sautée for one minute.  While this is cooking, put halibut in the oven and set timer for six minutes.  Add bok choi to skillet and sauté with the ginger and green garlic.  Meanwhile, heat white wine in small saucepan on medium-low until just simmering, then whisk in one tablespoon of butter and turn off heat.

After six minutes in the oven, turn on high broiler and cook halibut for two more minutes.  During this time, place bok choi mixture in the center of each plate.  When halibut is finished, remove from oven and place one fillet on top of each bok choi mix, then spoon the butter/wine “sauce” over the top of each piece of fish.  Sprinkle with salt and serve with a delicious bottle of Riesling - we chose Gobelsburger, a veritable bargain at around $15-$20! 

Serves 4 – Approximate time 20 minutes


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Trade Show Season = Harvest Time

It’s harvest here in Wine Country. Tons of ripe clusters of luscious grapes hang brightly on the vines, begging to be crushed. That’s how we feel standing at NYNow, the last show of our season – crushed.

After weeks and weeks of showing our new items, we are grateful for all of the compliments, and of course orders, from new customers and long standing customers. It’s kind of like harvest. We’ve spent months and months nurturing the new products, bringing them to maturity. Now it’s time to bottle them up and send them out into the marketplace for Holiday gifts.


But unlike the grape harvest, we also have the Winter Trade Shows. That means that while we are shipping out Holiday orders, we are simultaneously growing a new crop of items for 2018. It’s the equivalent of operating a winery in California and Australia simultaneously!

We love what we do. And we love that we can do it in the heart of Wine Country. And don’t worry, once this show is over, there will be a few minutes to catch our breath and enjoy the fruits of our labor on some tasty wine.


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One if by land, two if by sea, three if it makes a four course meal

One if by land, two if by sea, three if it makes a four course meal
Living in Wine Country has its positives and negatives. The weather is great, the landscape is beautiful, the wines are delicious and the food is world class. There are beautiful parks, miles of trails to hike, redwoods to gaze and lovely rivers and streams. You can forage for mushrooms in the winter, tend your garden in the spring, bask in the warm days and cool nights of summer, and harvest a bounty of produce in the fall.

On the positive side, the beautiful Pacific Ocean is just a short ride away, with its rumbling surf tumbling over Dungeness crabs and abalone. Okay, so maybe there aren’t any negatives, but how would you know if you’ve never had the chance to visit or somebody to let you know. That’s where we can help.

Máire and I have had the good fortune to live in Sonoma County for 20+ years, and the greater fortune to travel the world and experience new sights, sounds and flavors. Putting that all together into our daily lives is an amazing opportunity that we’d like to share with you. Follow us as we trudge through our days full of work and play, layered liberally with transporting our daughter to her long calendar of activities. We’ll stop along the way to cook, eat, drink and enjoy the surroundings and document it for your pleasure. It may be a delicious meal, a great wine bargain, a fun new recipe or just a beautiful sunset. We hope you enjoy it!
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