Russ Winton: Wine List

Russ Winton: ‘Down to Earth’ and other news

The Wine Institute has released a new book called “Down to Earth: A Seasonal Tour of Sustainable Winegrowing in California.” Fifteen vintners and growers are profiled throughout the year as they follow the guidelines of the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance.

The 256-page book is consumer-friendly, beautifully photographed and includes a dozen seasonal recipes. Its release coincides with the Wine Institute’s “Down to Earth” month celebration in April, where visitors can enjoy eco-tours, green-themed events and Earth Day parties at wineries throughout California. The book is available for purchase at

Paper bottles?

While we’re on the subject of going green, Truett-Hurst, a premium winemaker based in Healdsburg, will begin using bottles made of paper. According to the Central Valley Business Times, they have chosen Ecologic Brands Inc. of Manteca to make their paper bottles for the “Paperboy” brand. The recyclable wine bottles will be made from compressed recycled cardboard formed in the shape of a standard Bordeaux bottle. It is 85 percent lighter than glass. Cheers toTruett-Hurst for making this bold eco-decision. I hope they succeed.

Grand reopening

Are you ready to party? After a five-year closure, Chalone Vineyard is celebrating its newly refurbished tasting room with a special Grand Reopening on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors will be offered six estate wines to sample, plus a special library tasting. Appetizers will be served and vineyard and wildflower tours will be conducted at 1 and 3 p.m. The Soledad winery, purchased by Diagio Chateau and Estates in 2004, features pinot noir, chardonnay, chenin blanc, rose, syrah and grenache. The tasting room will be open on weekends during the spring and summer seasons. For more information, go to

What’s on our table

Excellent quality to price, readily available and under $15 are the criteria for wines appearing here. I have to admit I’ve gone over the limit a few times, but remember, NEVER pay full price for the wine. Wines are always on sale and the suggested retail price is just that, a suggestion.

Stores want to sell wine and are very competitive, so shop around for the best prices. Finding a decent pinot noir for under $15 is not easy. Here are five medal-winning pinots that have recently graced our table: Seaglass 2012 Santa Barbara County ($12); A by Acacia 2012 ($14.99); Buena Vista 2012 Sonoma ($14.99); Robert Mondavi Private Selection 2012 Central Coast ($10.99) and Bogle Vineyards 2012 ($11). Load up on these five and your neighbor will definitely have pinot envy. Pinot noir is the perfect red wine as temperatures rise – chill it lightly and enjoy. Cheers!