California to France: Two Great Venues on The Hilltop!

On Tuesday, December 10, 2013 The Hilltop Winery, once again hosted the wayward relative from the East Coast, and you know the deal, he brought the old and some new folks to enjoy the latest grape to hit the market (the old timers know who you are).

And obviously, they got carried away and went deep into the cellar, and with the Sommelier's permission, were allowed to pull some incredible wines from around the world dating back to 1979.

The evening also reunited the wayward relative with Monrose Catering.  Thank you Richard and your staff for taking care of us again with an excellent selection of appetizers for all to enjoy!

Mav was the bomb with her incredible chocolate flour-less tart/cake.  I'm not sure what it was or where it came from but it was delicious!

From a Ph.D. on the East Coast to a Ph.D. on the West Coast, "while the economy may go up and down, a visit to The Hilltop Winery is always an up day!"

So from all the East Coast folks Mike, all we can say is thank you for allowing us to enjoy the following wines from your cellar.


  • 2011 Golden Slope Liquid Farms Chardonnay
  • 2011 Four Liquid Farms Chardonnay
  • 2012 Kobalt Sauvignon Blanc


  • 1979 Chateau Lafite Rothschild
  • 1982 William Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
  • 1982 Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley (bottled 1986)
  • 1986 Chateau LaGrange, Saint-Julien
  • 1988 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
  • 1989 Clos du Bois Marlstone Vineyard
  • 1994 Chateau Lynch Bages
  • 1996 Araujo Syrah, Eisele Vineyards
  • 2001 Fratelli Revello Barolo, Vigna Giachini
  • 2002 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley
  • 2003 Clarendon Hills Merlot, Brookman
  • 2005 Hunnicutt Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
  • 2008 Arns Syrah, Napa Valley
  • 2011 Bjornstad Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley


  • 1983 Dow's Vintage Port

For pictures of the evening swirl click HERE.

"I Should Have Drank It By Now" Party

On Saturday, August 17, 2013 The Hilltop Winery hosted two-dozen of their friends and family in an effort to thin out the cellar of bottles of wine that should have already been consumed.

Everyone did their best to thin out the 4,000+ bottles that are housed in a cellar, on top of a hill, buried in a backyard!

The outdoor wood fired pizza oven was once again a major hit with the attendees.  Pizza’s made to order was a nice touch to a perfect evening of wine and fellowship.

The sunset was spectacular and we have the pictures to prove it!

The following wines were tasted:


  • 1991 Chalone Vineyard Chardonnay
  • 1997 Batar Agricola Querciabella
  • 2005 Chassagne-Montrachet
  • 2006 Staglin Chardonnay
  • 2006 Jayson Chardonnay
  • 2006 Les Corbins Meursault
  • 2007 Macon-Chaintre White Burgundy (two bottles)
  • 2008 Bjornstad Chardonnay
  • 2008 Hubert Lamy Saint Aubin
  • 2009 La Follette Chardonnay, Sangiacomo Vineyard
  • 2009 Luis Felipe Edwards Chardonnay


  • 2005 Stagliano Rosato di Sangiovese (three bottles)
  • 2011 Bandol La Bastide Blanche


  • 1974 Sterling Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1985 Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1985 Chateau Olivier Graves Leognan
  • 1986 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1987 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
  • 1988 Chateau Bouscaut Pessac-Leognan
  • 1990 Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Bosquet des Papes
  • 1990 Groth Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
  • 1994 Talley Pinot Noir
  • 1994 Maya
  • 1995 Chateau Marguex, Premier Grand Cru Classe
  • 1996 Rubino della Plazzola
  • 1997 Turkey Flat Shiraz
  • 1998 Spottswode Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
  • 2000 Maya
  • 2001 Serpico Del Feudi Di San Gregorio
  • 2003 Duckhorn Merlot, Napa Valley
  • 2003 Clos du Val Pinot Noir, Carneros Vineyard
  • 2003 Fess Parker Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County
  • 2007 Pets Petite Sirah
  • 2007 Roc Du Bel Air Bordeaux Superieur
  • 2008 Darioush Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2010 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon

Dessert Wine

  • 2005 Chateau De Cosse, Sauternes

For a complete slideshow of the event go HERE.

7th Annual West Institute Wine Reception and Dinner

On Thursday, July 18, 2013 The Hilltop Winery hosted 26 Institute staff, faculty and volunteer wine enthusiasts to a great wine tasting event.

We even worked with the local chamber of commerce to make sure the weather was as great as the wine.  And it was a chamber of commerce kind of day!

This year we had a dozen newbies to the hilltop.  The other 14 (and you know who you are) are seasoned veterans who made the annual pilgrimage, once again, to the hilltop.  We enjoyed the following wines:


  • 2009 Luis Felipe Edwards Chardonnay
  • 2011 Muirwood Chardonnay
  • 2011 Rombauer Chardonnay
  • 2012 Natalie Brander Cuvee Chardonnay

  • 2003 Araujo Eisele Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2003 Dalla Valle Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2003 Dunn Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain
  • 2003 Dunn Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
  • 2003 Frasier Cabernet Sauvignon, Momento
  • 2003 Hunnicut Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2003 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2003 Kobalt Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2003 Staglin Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2003 Surh Luchtel Cabernet Sauvignon

And once again, our special guest and faculty member Brian Baker from Chateau Montelena Winery brought three special bottles to taste.

  • 1985 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Bottled
  • 1990 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Bottled
  • 1999 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Bottled

We couldn't help ourselves and then we did a see something, pull something!  These wines were added to the list of magnums we took to Sam's by the Beach.

  • 1970 Barolo Marcheri de Barolo
  • 1979 BV Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Bottled
  • 1989 Chateau Lynch-Bages Bordeaux
  • 1993 Dalla Valle Cabernet Sauvignon

Now it was finally time to pull the magnums and head off to our favorite restaurant, Sam's by The Beach in Santa Monica, CA with proprietor Sam Elias.  He always takes great care of us each year.

The Magnums lifted from the cellar and taken for a ride to Sam's included:

  • 1993 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Magnum
  • 1996 Cakebread Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Magnum
  • 2007 Domaine de Saint Siffrein Chateauneuf-Du-Pape (Magnum - two bottles)
  • 2007 Sea Smoke Pinot Noir Magnum

Sam and his incredible staff served us a wonderful three course meal that complimented the wines.

As the evening came to a close we said our goodbyes, piled into our cabs, headed back to the hotel, and were off to LAX airport in the morning.

For a complete slideshow of the event click HERE.

Institute All Stars

On Tuesday, July 16, 2013, The Hilltop Winery hosted the Institute All Stars for a wine reception and pizza party while enjoying the view and the Baseball All Star Game being played in New York.

It was a quick trip and a prelude to our upcoming Annual Institute Wine Reception and Dinner this coming Thursday.

The following wines were tasted along with some great wood fired pizza’s:


  • 2010 Aubert Chardonnay
  • 2010 Julien ColloVray Chardonnay
  • 2012 Realm Sauvignon Blanc


  • 1988 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1998 Araujo Eisele Syrah
  • 2003 d'Arenberg Shiraz
  • 2005 Alto Moncayo
  • 2005 Pahlmeyer

For a slideshow of the afternoon and evening event click HERE.

WPO Wine Reception

On Saturday, February 9, 2013, The Hilltop Winery hosted 19 wine enthusiasts from Canada and the United States.  They even let a few locals in, as well as, their brother-in-law from Washington they can't seem to get rid of - get over it!

The reception started with a selection of Chardonnay's, we then proceeded to the backyard for a quick picture or two of the sunset and then immediately ran to the cellar where the fun began on pulling some reds.

Let's not forget to mention our caterers who were fantastic, Monrose Catering Company based out of Malibu delivered on the promise of an exquisite evening of hors d' oeuvres.

The following 25 wines were consumed.


  • 1995 Kistler Russian River Chardonnay
  • 1996 Chassagne-Montrachet Burgundy
  • 2004 Alsace Riesling
  • 2005 DR Stephens Chardonnay
  • 2007 Staglin Chardonnay (two bottles)
  • 2009 Ramey Sonoma Coast Chardonnay (two bottles)
  • 2010 San Simeon Chardonnay (two bottles)
  • 2011 Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay


  • 1984 Shafer Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, Hillside Select
  • 1985 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1989 Caymus Special Select Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1991 Pahlmeyer Napa Valley Blend
  • 1994 Dunn Vineyards Napa Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1994 Maya Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1996 Eisele Vineyards Syrah Araujo
  • 1999 Eagle Rose Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2000 Constant Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2000 Downing Family Zinfandel
  • 2002 McWilliams Cabernet Sauvignon (Australia)
  • 2002 Muga Rioja Unfiltered (Spain)
  • 2004 Alto Moncayo Garnacha (Spain)
  • 2007 Stagliano Sangiovese

For a slideshow of the evening event click HERE.

A View From The Hilltop

On February 8, 2013, The Hilltop Winery welcomed me back for a quick visit and dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Casa Nostra.

We began the tasting at the house with the Chardonnay and moved on to the Petite Sirah from Howell Mountain. We took the Zinfandel to dinner.

Tasting details on the wines:

For a few pictures of the wines and a view from the hilltop click HERE.