Wally’s Napa/Sonoma All Stars Tasting Highlights


The 5th annual Wally’s Napa/Sonoma All-Stars Wine Tasting took place earlier this week at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel and featured around 150 of the greatest wine producers in California. Wine connoisseurs had the opportunity to sample wines poured by many of the winemakers themselves, as well as taste cheeses from Bellwether Farms in Sonoma County and Cowgirl Creamery in Marin County. Providing the dessert was Woodblock Chocolate from Portland, Oregon to pair with some of the fantastic reds. This Sunday afternoon event gave some of us at Team Melissa’s the opportunity to check out an amazing lineup of exceptional wines, including some favorites from our own Wine selection, and delicious food.

We knew this event was off to a beautiful start when we stopped by Chateau Montelena’s table. Chateau Montelena was featuring their 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate and 2012 Chardonnay Napa Valley. A bold wine, the Cabernet Sauvignon greeted us upon first sip with a soft opening of black cherries and red fruits that quickly built up to a rich, layered finish. The 2012 Chardonnay Napa Valley tasted like the summertime with bright layers of kiwi and grapefruit and aromas of ripe peach, juicy honeydew and green apple. Chateau Montelena wines make lovely gifts, as you can see from our Wine and Gift Basket Collection.


Next, we stopped by Darioush to sample their 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Signature and 2013 Viognier Signature. The Cabernet Sauvignon was rich and dense with layers of blueberries, dried fig and anise. There was a lovely earthiness to it with elements of dried sage and even French roast coffee. The Darioush Viognier is one of our favorites found on our website and is characterized by its exotic flavors of summer peaches, papayas, Asian pears and kumquats. For more Darioush wine selections, please visit our website.

Included in this event were an array of cheeses from Bellwether Farms and Wally’s Cheese Box. We sampled various cow’s milk cheeses and sheep’s milk cheeses, as well as dried fruit and salami. The Carmody cheese, which is an aged Jersey Cow’s milk cheese, was very buttery with a fresh milk flavor and paired beautifully with some of the Chardonnays we tasted.


We were head over heels for the aged cheeses served at Cowgirl Creamery. They were featuring their Mt. Tam triple cream which had a nice buttery, mushroom flavor and smoky St. Pat, which had a more mellow and tangy flavor. Both cheeses were so delectable and creamy that we just had to come back for seconds.


Besides cheese, Wally’s event also had a sweet side. Woodblock Chocolate came all the way from Portland to showcase their chocolate and demonstrate the various flavors chocolate can reveal, depending on their cacao percentages. We even got to sample their Madagascar cocoa beans, which was definitely a cool experience you don’t have everyday.


Cushing Donelan of Donelan Wine was at the table pouring their 2011 Syrah Cuvee Christine and 2012 Chardonnay Nancie. The Syrah Cuvee Christine was an blend of different Sonoma vineyards. This was a real treat with the taste of dark berries, cherries, pomegranate and a spicy underbrush. The 2012 vintage for the Chardonnay Nancie was an impressive wine with lots of depth in its aromas of pear, wildflower honey, lemon meringue pie and fresh linen.



Co-owner of Paradigm Winery, Marilyn Harris, was very informative in introducing us to their 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley and the 2011 Cabernet Franc, both incredibly beautiful reds. The Cabernet Sauvignon was a lovely blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot from their Oakville Estates. There were aromas of berry, dark cherry, plum, hints of cedar and spice and was nicely smooth and velvety to drink.




Kale Anderson, Director of Winemaking from KALE Wines and Pahlmeyer, was at the table showcasing the 2012 Merlot Napa Valley, 2012 Chardonnay Jayson North Coast and the Kale 2014 Rosé Sonoma County. We started with the newest vintage, the Rosé from KALE Wines, which has us looking forward to the summertime. Light and refreshing with notes of cucumber water and watermelon, it’s perfect for outdoor entertaining when the weather gets warmer. The Pahlmeyer 2012 Merlot was a rich, velvety beauty and revealed delicious flavors of dark red cherry and raspberry and layers of deep blue fruits.

We would like to give a big thank you to Wally’s for organizing another outstanding event and all the winemakers, cheese makers and chocolatiers who came to showcase their craft. It was truly a stellar experience to have gathered with fellow connoisseurs and hobbyists to sample some of the finest wines in California.

Did you attend this year’s Wally’s Napa/Sonoma All Stars Tasting? What were your thoughts on the event? Which wines were your favorite? 

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