Tuesday, December 1, 2009

San Francisco Chronicle Rec's Little Barrel

We've received some good press over the last year, but the latest blurb about Little Barrel carries some pretty heavy weight. Jon Bonne, a very famous wine editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, has recommended Little Barrel for their annual holiday gift guide. We couldn't be more humbled and flattered.

Here's what they had to say:

"Tasty, Tasteful holiday gift ideas"
November 29, 2009

Having wine on your tie can telegraph your grape love in a klutzy way. Or you could opt for the wine-themed silk prints ($68) from Little Barrel Clothing. They range from festive and subtle (circular wreaths of grapes) to somewhat more literal, like the pattern depicting slightly off-kilter stemware. Consider it a preppy visualization of your annual holiday party. Unlike so much wine-themed garb, Little Barrel has kept it classy, which means you can wear these with equal ease to the office or as a signal to your sommelier as to who gets the wine list.

The ties are available from Mario's (1223 Main Street, St. Helena) or from littlebarrel.com for $68.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

LB Featured in Destination Wine Country Magazine!

Check out the article about our wedding in Santa Barbara wine country. This is where Little Barrel began!!

Check out the magazine website here: http://www.destinationwinecountry.com/

Friday, June 26, 2009

Spottswoode Family Estate - Napa, CA

How refreshing it is to find such a distinguished winery in Napa Valley that offers complimentary tastings. We're talking $60-$130 wine and there's no guilt walking away with only a good memory. (Although, it's definitely money well spent.)

Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon is one of our favorite wines from Napa. It's a rarety to have a winery pour such an exceptional wine during a tour - especially for a bunch of total strangers. They poured the '05 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($130), '08 Sauvignon Blanc ($36) and the '06 Lyndenhurst Cabernet Sauvignon ($60).

An incredibly nice woman named Erica Wallenbrock gives a great tour that includes the wine making facility, barrel room (built pre-prohibition), vineyard, and a walk around owner Mary Novak's historic Victorian house. We were also joined by two special and fury guests (see pic below).

Spottswoode is family owned and everyone involved is incredibly dedicated to making great wine. They were also among the first to introduce organic farming practices in the Napa Valley over 20 years ago.

Make sure to book your tasting/tour well in advance. Due to local regulations Spottswoode has to limit the amount of visitors they can host. Call 707-963-0134 or email tours@spottswoode.com to make an appointment (open Mon. - Fri.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Our Wine Getaway Rec's on KCRW's "Good Food"

We've been huge fans of Evan Kleiman's radio program "Good Food" for years, so we were deeply honored when they asked us to provide some suggestions for wine getaways in the Southern California region.

See what we have to say here.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

We're Featured in Today's Santa Barbara Independent!

Check out the article and a little history on where it all started here.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Richard Hedrick of Bremer Family Wines (Napa, CA)

We read about Bremer Family Wines in one of Eric Asimov’s blogs so, we decided to seek them out. When we couldn’t find Bremer on any of Napa’s tourist maps, we had a feeling we were onto something good.

At first we thought we were lost when our GPS “drove” us to an unassuming house along Deer Park Road. Fortunately, our U-Turn was cut off by a look from the friendly and gregarious Richard Hedrick that said – No, you’ve come to right place.

Once inside their intimate tasting room, Richard was curious about how we learned about Bremer Family. “We don’t advertise or do any marketing,” said Richard. Bremer’s a place that lets their wine do the talking. (Rumor has it that the Bremers will ask map publishers to remove their winery from the map.)

We loved hanging with Richard as much as we enjoyed drinking the wine. His job is to pour the wines and educate his guests. He’s an exceptional storyteller and a gifted teacher – as we discovered after asking questions about their wine making process.

As we sat with Richard and drank their fabulous wines, we asked what brought him to Napa. A retiree, he explained that this is his third career, and even though he loved working in education and the corporate world, Richard decided to finally relax and enjoy the slow pace and rewards of living in the Napa Valley.

Although Richard is unique, his story is not. The one thing we hear over and over in wineries all over the world is that people are there because they have finally decided it’s time to do what they love. And you can see it in their relaxed, cheery and warm body language. These people are infectious.

You can schedule a tasting with Richard by calling 707-963-5411. Or, you can visit him at his regular hangout – Bistro Jeanty restaurant in Yountville.

As for the wine… our favorite was their ’04 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. We especially love its description as being “rugged and manly” and “ready to drink, but willing to wait.” ($85)


Friday, May 15, 2009

Santa Barbara's Urban Wine Trail

So you’ve traveled up to Santa Barbara for the weekend with your friends and you’re staying somewhere posh. Before you went out on State Street Friday night, you had every intention of traveling up to wine country the next day. Saturday morning, er - afternoon, rolls around and you’d rather stay around town. The beach, the weather, the people watching… we get it. It’s impossible to pull away.

Thank God there are TWO CITY BLOCKS of winery owned tasting rooms, right on the beach!

Here’s a list of our recommendations:

Stearns Wharf Vintners (Stearns Wharf) – There’s a picnic deck with views of the pacific.

Kalyra Winery (212 State Street) – Popular in Santa Ynez, Kalyra just opened their second tasting room; open daily 12pm-7pm (‘til 8pm weekends).

Santa Barbara Winery (202 Anacapa Street) Great quality by the county’s oldest winery; open daily 10am-5pm.

Oreana Winery (205 Anacapa Street) An abandoned tire shop turned winery collective. Hip vibe. Open daily.

Carr Vineyards & Winery (414 North Salsipuedes Street) Housed in a 1940's Quonset Hut cave, it’s like going from the beach to Burgundy. Open daily 11am-5pm.

Whitcraft Winery (36 South Cesar Chavez) They’re all about non-interventional winemaking. Open Friday-Sunday 12pm-4pm and by appointment.

Coquelicot Vineyard (813 Anacapa Street, Intermezzo Cafe) Organically farmed from the Santa Ynez Valley. Open Saturdays & Sundays, 11am-3pm, by appointment only (805-966-9463).

Need directions? Just hit the beach and plant yourself at Cabrillo Blvd. (runs along the ocean) and Anacapa St., in downtown Santa Barbara. Or download a map here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Follow Little Barrel on Twitter!

You can now follow all things Little Barrel by visiting us at http://twitter.com/littlebarrel.

Not only do I love Twitter for allowing us to develop new relationships and keep people informed of LB, but there’s a ginormous wealth of (real-time) information relating to wine.

Have a question about the wine making process? Hit up the nice wine makers at @MountsFamWinery. Looking for a new bottle of wine to try? Read what @vinography or @sonadora have to say. Want to get "in" on a special bottle tucked away in Sonoma, exclusively for Twitter users? Follow @RidgeLS. Curious about wine events in your area, visit @wine.

There are tons of wineries, wine makers, wine writers, wine shops, or just plain winos you can follow and learn from. Feel free to poke around our peeps, er - “followers” page, and discover hundreds of other great wine related “Twits.”

Oh, and in the coming months, pay extra close attention to our feed. We will be offering some great deals exclusively for our Twitter followers.

Taylor & Andrew

Monday, May 4, 2009


I’m obsessed with my iPhone. I can’t imagine life without it. Thus, I was especially pleased to come across a new app called Corkz.

The program is connected to the CellarTracker system and community. You can get a large assortment of reviews and ratings from ordinary drinkers, as well as price comparisons between the wines.

I spend a lot of time in wine shops and it definitely comes in handy when I want to know more information about a label I’ve never seen before. I can check if I’m getting a deal and I can see what others before me have thought about a particular wine.

Now, if only someone can create an app that will cut me off when I’m buying too much.

The application is available on iTunes for $4.99.

Monday, April 27, 2009

2nd Annual Santa Barbara Wine Futures Event

If you ever get the chance to attend a wine futures tasting – Go!

For those who don’t know, a futures tasting is where winemakers let you sample their wine well before they’re released and can purchase whatever wine you like in advance.

We had a blast Saturday night at the 2nd annual event hosted by one of our favorite restaurants Elements at the SB County Courthouse.

There are three reasons why we tend to love futures events more than others:

First, it’s a chance to learn more about wine itself. It’s not often you experience wine in its infancy and you begin to understand how it evolves. Regardless of your palate’s experience, you will recognize and appreciate the subtle differences between the wine you normally drink and wine that is still maturing.

Second, the winemakers are usually the people pouring the wines. Who doesn’t want to know the person behind their favorite wine or hear THE story about why someone devoted their life to making wine.

Finally, these are great events to discover new talent. We were surprised how many new winemakers were showcasing their barrels and how incredibly talented everybody was. We thought we knew this area well, but there’s a lot more going on in Santa Barbara County than most people know about.

Here’s a list of the wines that blew us away. (Just give us credit when some of these people become HUGE!)

'07 Ampelos Syrah/Grenache "Syrache"
'07 Pisoni Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands (Arcadian Winery)
'07 Stolpman Syrah (Arcadian Winery)
'07 Blair Fox Syrah, Purisima Mountain
'07 Demetria Cuvee Papou (Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier)
'07 Demetria Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills
'06 Demetria Syrah
'07 Dragonette Cellars Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills
'08 Dragonette Cellars Sauvignon Blanc
'06 Happy Canyon Vineyards Piocho (Cab Franc based Bourdeaux blend)
'06 Happy Canyon Vineyards "Ten-Goal" (Cab Sauv based, Cab Franc, Merlot)
'05 Jonata El Corazon de Jonata (the kitchen sink)
'08 Municipal Winemakers Bright Red (Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah)
'07 Municipal Winemakers Best Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Your Itinerary for Santa Barbara's Wine Country

A LOT of customers and friends ask us for suggestions for a perfect day of visiting vineyards – and we’re always happy to oblige. Below are our recommendations for a great day in Santa Barbara’s wine country (click here for map):

First, we grab a carb heavy breakfast and hit the road (always with a designated driver or hired service)…

Stop 1: Star Lane/Dierberg Vineyards

Our favorite wine in the area, especially their “Astral” Cabernet. We like to drink the best wines early in the day because our palates get destroyed after a couple of tastings.

Stop 2: Foley Vineyards

Foley makes remarkable Pinot Noir and Chardonnays. We like this place because of its sweeping views of the valley, a very comfortable tasting bar, and a remarkable barrel room that’s sometimes open to visitors. Granted, we have a soft spot for Foley because we got married here!

(Disclaimer: They sell Little Barrel)


We always grab a sandwich at Panino, in downtown Los Olivos, and take it on the road. It’s more fun to eat out at the vineyards.

Stop 3: Lincourt Vineyard

Our favorite place to eat our picnic lunch. The tasting room is an old farmhouse that overlooks one of their vineyards. Best wine in the area for the price. Their peppery Syrah is our favorite.

(Disclaimer: They sell Little Barrel)

Stop 4: Qupe Tasting Room

It’s in downtown Los Olivos and it’s on our way between Lincourt and Demetria. Their wines are some of the best and most famous from the area. Selection always changes.

Stop 5: Demetria Estate

Our new favorite “find.” The 10 minute drive from the Foxen Canyon Trail to the tasting room is absolutely breathtaking. You drink and eat around the island of the villa’s kitchen, usually with the owners and winemaker.

Stop 6: Firestone

By this point our palates are shot, so we usually finish our day here. It’s typically the most crowded, especially with young people, and certainly the most festive.


We always eat at one of the following...

Mattei's Tavern - Foodie favorite since 1886 (and the location of our rehearsal dinner). Good celeb spotting.
Los Olivos Cafe - Made famous by "Sideways" but a favorite among the locals.
Trattoria Grappolo - Amazing Italian food. Very romantic.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

City Winery - New York City

For Easter, my brother and I broke bread (flat, with olive oil & sea salt) and sipped our communion ('05 Bonny Doon Syrah 'Le Pousseur') at the City Winery in New York City. The City Winery is a music venue, functioning (custom) winery, restaurant and wine bar in the middle of Soho in Manhattan.

City Winery is a perfect blend of quality music, delicious food and a very smart wine list. The place is the brainchild of The Knitting Factory’s famed owner Michael Dorf – which means you can always count on a substantive lineup of musical acts.

The vibe was refreshingly unpretentious and the size of the place is almost half a city block. And while we only spent a quiet afternoon here, I'm anxious to get back for a show (when is David Byrne coming back?).

Here are some bad pics I took from my iPhone:

- Andrew

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spring is coming!

Wow, we're a little embarrassed by how long it's been since our last post. Taylor and I have been very busy preparing for the launch of our spring tie collection. I posted a picture from the warehouse to give you a sneak peek of what's about to come...

You can also visit our site to see the new colors and patterns.

Finally, don't forget to sign up for our newsletter. We're going to announce a CRAZY DEAL the day we release our new ties.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Qupe - Los Olivos, CA

Cult favorite in the Santa Barbara area. Qupe has FINALLY opened a tasting room on the main street of downtown Los Olivos. We usually avoid the tasting rooms in town because we prefer to be out at the vineyards. But we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try a stellar line up of Qupe wines.

This particular Saturday, Qupe was pouring four of their own wines and three from their Spanish inspired label called Verdad. We have been huge fans of Spanish varietals since a trip to Spain in 2006 and were pleased to see that they’ve hit the mark as close as anyone can in the states (sorry, it always tastes better in Spain).

Legendary winemaker Robert Neil Lindquist founded Qupe in 1982 while working as a tour guide and cellar worker at Zaca Mesa Winery. Like most, he started out by simply buying a few barrels and some grapes. Robert now sources fruit from the best vineyards in California. His wines brought serious attention to the valley well before the movie Sideways.

We love Syrah from the county and our favorites from Qupe were the ’06 Syrah from Stolpman Vineyard and the ’06 Syrah from the Bien Nacido Vineyard. (If I ever get the chance to create my own wine, I’m getting my grapes from Bien Nacido. I don’t care what it takes.)

The tasting room changes the wines every week so there’s always a reason for repeat visits.

Here’s what they poured:

‘07 Verdad Rose
‘07 Qupe Marson
‘07 Verdad Alberino
‘06 Qupe Los Olivos
‘05 Verdad Tempranillo
‘06 Qupe Syrah Stolpman Vineyard
‘06 Qupe Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard

- Andrew