January 8th, 2019

Check In & Networking

January 8 @ 8:15 am - 8:45 am

Meet us on the patio for coffee and treats.

Cabernet Sauvignon: Inside & Out Tasting Seminar

January 8 @ 8:45 am - 10:45 am

Ticket Price: $95


At the inaugural Wine Speak, seven Cabernet Sauvignon winemakers—from Napa Valley, Columbia Valley, Victoria (Australia), Happy Canyon, Paso Robles and Ballard Canyon—came to share their insight into what this global grape variety can be. We now continue the sharing and discussions with four new experts who will help us explore the distinctions of Cabernet Sauvignons grown in different regions and made in different styles. 


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Fred Dame, MS, DAOU Vineyards and Winery - Paso Robles

Fred has been hailed as “America’s sommelier” and is undoubtedly one of the most renowned in the world. Dame was the first to successfully pass all three parts of the Master Sommelier Examination in a single year. It was Fred, working with the National Restaurant Association, who convinced the British to bring the examination to the United States. He then founded the American Branch of The Court of Master Sommeliers in 1986 and has played an active role in the expansion of the Master Sommelier program since that time. Fred’s ability to transmit his passionate interest in wine makes him a natural teacher and a legendary ambassador. He now brings his talents to DAOU Vineyards and Winery where he will help usher the winery and the Paso Robles region to more prominence on the world wine stage. 

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Helen Keplinger, Carte Blanche & Keplinger Wines – Napa Valley

Helen worked with wine legends such as consultant Michel Rolland, viticulturist David Abreu and winemaker Heidi Peterson Barrett, and made wine at Bryant Family Vineyard before focusing on her own label. She was named “Winemaker of The Year” by Food & Wine Magazine and was featured on the cover of Wine Spectator Magazine. She also consults for other wineries such as Napa Valley’s Carte Blanche. Helen will share her experience of creating some of California’s most coveted Cabernets.


Fred Scherrer, Scherrer Wines – Alexander Valley

The Scherrer Vineyard is located on a bench in the Alexander Valley that is composed of gravelly clay loam soils. The Cabernet Sauvignon vines planted here in 1990 are the sole source for the estate bottling. Being a noted Pinot Noir and Zinfandel specialist, Fred has a distinct take on what Cabernet Sauvignon can be. Fred will share how his gentle, nurturing touch results from many years of working with Pinot Noir, and how it shapes his other wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon.

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Eric Jensen, Booker & My Favorite Neighbor – Paso Robles

Eric’s breathtaking Booker estate unfolds along a mix of calcareous / siliceous soil in the rolling hillsides of Paso Robles. In addition to growing and crafting a highly acclaimed portfolio of standout red Rhône variety blends—which are quite lavish, dense and flamboyant—Eric is now also part of the Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon revolution. Eric will be sharing one of his standouts and telling stories of how it came to be.

Networking Break

10:45 am - 11:00 am

Talk Story: A Different Perspective on Wine

January 8 @ 11:00 am - 1:00 pm

Ticket Price: $70


Women have long maintained a powerful presence in the world of wine—and their influence is only growing. In this illuminating panel discussion, Wine Speak co-founder Amanda Wittstrom Higgins will conduct a roundtable with leaders from the fields of winemaking, marketing, sales and publishing. “What was your path to success? How do you stay on top in an ever-changing, competitive environment? What advice would you give to your younger self?” Listen in as these luminaries share their insights with an eye toward mentoring up-and-coming women in the wine industry. 

Featured panelists include Meridith May, executive editor and publisher of SOMM Journal, The Tasting Panel and Clever Root; Jordan Fiorentini, VP of Winemaking and Vineyards at Epoch Estate Wines; Helen Keplinger, owner and winemaker at Keplinger Wines & Food and Wine Magazine's "Winemaker of the Year"; and Shelley Lindgren, James Beard award winner, co-owner and wine director at A16 and SPQR.

Lunch Break

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Rhône Renegade: Mourvèdre & Grenache—The Next Chapter Seminar

January 8 @ 2:00 pm - 4:15 pm

Ticket Price: $85



Stand-alone bottlings of Mourvèdre are gaining ground in the New World. However, it is not always easy to find prime renditions of this idiosyncratic Rhône grape. It comes down to locating vineyards where this variety can excel—typically those marked by warm weather, mineral-rich soils and long hang times. In this focus panel, we will tap into the wisdom of two winemaking stalwarts to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing this emergent variety.  

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Cris Cherry, Villa Creek Cellars – Paso Robles

Cris opened Villa Creek Restaurant in 1996 and produced his first “designer” wines for his eatery starting with the 2001 vintage. Fifteen years later, buoyed by critical acclaim for his wines, Cris took a leap of faith. He sold the restaurant and dove into winegrowing and winemaking full time. Cris made his mark with Mourvèdre starting with the 2006 Vulture’s Post. Today, Villa Creek’s Mourvèdre-based red wine is labeled as Luna Matta, named for the vineyard from which the fruit comes. We also anxiously await the three acres of Mourvèdre to come on line at his MAHA estate vineyard.

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Greg Harrington, M.S., Gramercy Cellars – Walla Walla

Greg’s path to winemaking was paved with extraordinary experience. Prior to establishing Gramercy Cellars in 2005, he was a wine director for star chefs such as Emeril Lagasse and Wolfgang Puck. He passed the Master Sommelier Diploma Exam at age 26 and later served as president of the Court of Master Sommeliers (American Chapter). Today, he produces some of the finest Mourvèdre, and Syrah out of Washington State. In his words, “We feel Mourvèdre is about to have a shining moment. We see a lot of excitement for this variety. It is as at home in Washington as it is in France.”

We will take a 15 min break in between these two seminars @ 3:00pm. 



Grenache is one of the most widely planted red grape varieties in the world.  Since it is a late ripener, is tends to perform well in dry, hot growing areas. That said, how do we move forward to produce more compelling Grenache wines?   Joining us for this panel are two of the best Grenache producers in the New World—Justin Smith of Saxum (Paso Robles, California) and Richard Betts, MS, of Sucette (Vine Vale, Barossa Valley, Australia).  Now, let’s talk story!

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Justin Smith, Saxum Vineyards – Paso Robles

Justin is one of California’s most celebrated winemakers. He is also a true viticulturalist. Last year, he came to Wine Speak to share his thoughts on Syrah and the Paso Robles appellation. This time around, we will ask Justin more about the vineyards he works with and how it affects the Grenache grape. “If a wine can show the best possible expression of where it came from and what season it was grown in, as well as please the senses, you have a great bottle,” he says.

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Richard Betts, MS, Sucette Wines – Vine Vale, Barossa Valley, Australia

Richard Betts is a revered Master Sommelier turned accomplished vigneron, who happens to produce one of the finest Grenache-based reds in the New World. He comes to Wine Speak with his own thoughts on why: “The soil matters a ton. We believe that the prettiest of all Grenache comes from old vines grown in sandy soils. In sand the colors are lighter, and the wine develops all of the beautiful, floral, high-toned aromatics that give allure and sex appeal…Our own vineyard, The Rza Block (planted between 1860 and 1880), is situated in the heart of the Vine Vale in deep, white beach-like sand. The vines are head-trained, own-rooted and dry-grown, having struck a natural balance with their surroundings after 150 years or so of cohabitation.”

VIP Early Access to

"Taste of Paso Robles" Grand Tasting

January 8 @ 5:00 pm -  8:00 pm

Ticket Price: $120

Ticket includes one hour early admittance to the Grand Tasting and exclusive access to all wines and producers. A limited amount of tickets are available.

Join a “who’s who” list of Paso Robles wineries and local eateries where our favorite chefs will present wine friendly small plates and winemakers will showcase some of their finest reserve and library bottling. Don't miss this truly unique networking opportunity to hang out, eat great food, taste great wines and meet other like-minded wine friends at this casual and fun event. Availability is limited

"Taste of Paso Robles" Grand Tasting

January 8 @ 6:00 pm -  8:00 pm

Ticket Price: $85

Join a “who’s who” list of Paso Robles wineries and local eateries where our favorite chefs will present wine friendly small plates and winemakers will showcase some of their finest reserve and library bottling. Don't miss this truly unique networking opportunity to hang out, eat great food, taste great wines and meet other like-minded wine friends at this casual and fun event.

Availability is limited.