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.