Husband-and-wife, Mike and Denise Thornberry, might seem like an unlikely duo to open a wine bar-restaurant.
He is a senior director at Apple. She was executive vice president of global sales for Beats by Dr. Dre.
Neither has ever owned a restaurant before or even worked in one.
But they must know have a natural knack for it because their Tasting House in Los Gatos, which only opened in January, is already a hit. It garnered “Best Restaurant,” “Best Atmosphere,” and “Best Wine List” in the 2022 Best of Los Gatos list, and scored a “Best of Award of Excellence” this year from Wine Spectator. And when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant last week, the place was packed, even at all the tables on the patio where I dined on a toasty summer night.
Located in what was formerly Cin-Cin Wine Bar & Restaurant, Tasting House sports both a restaurant and an attached gourmet provisions shop.
Meet piquette — quite possibly your favorite new summer sip.
This traditional French drink, whose name means “little wine,” is actually made by adding water to grape pomace (the skins, seeds and stems of the grapes left over after pressing), and fermenting the residual sugars.
It makes for a light tasting, low alcohol beverage.
In June, Une Femme Wines launched two canned piquettes that I had a chance to sample.
The brand was founded by Jen Pelka, owner of the now shuttered the Riddler, a Champagne bar in New York City and San Francisco, and her brother Zach.
Its intent is to produce only Champagne and sparkling wine made by women. In fact, for every bottle sold, the company makes a donation to a charity benefiting women.
With 8 percent ABV, the piquettes come in 250ml pull-tab cans.
Three women of three different generations in Winters, CA have joined forces to create a delicious new product that celebrates not only the agrarian bounty of Sonoma County, but a time-honored French tradition.
The result is L’Apero les Trois, a line of fruit-based, lower alcohol spirits known as aperitifs, which the French have enjoyed for generations as a pre-lunch or pre-dinner libation.
They are the brainchild of Georgeanne Brennan, James Beard Award-winning cookbook author who taught cooking classes in France for years; Corinne Martinez, co-owner of Berryessa Gap Vineyards; and Nicole Salengo, Berryessa Gap’s winemaker.
As with all aperitifs, they are meant to be served chilled, sometimes with a few ice cubes in the glass, and topped off with sparkling wine or fizzy water, if you so choose.
In 2016, Carlo Mondavi — yes, grandson of Robert Mondavi — created the Monarch Challenge to bring attention to the plight of the beautiful Monarch butterfly, whose population has been devastated since the advent of Roundup.
Every year since then, he and his brother Dante have produced a limited rosé through their RAEN Winery in Sebastopol to bring attention to this environmental calamity befalling this invaluablepollinator, and to inspire other like-minded vintners to do the same.
I had a chance to try a sample of this year’s 2021 Monarch Challenge North Coast Rosé ($30), sales of which will benefit the conservation organization, the Xerces Society, and Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating sick or orphaned wildlife.
Produced from RAEN Pinot Noir grapes and old-vine Grenache, all farmed organically, this pale salmon wine is an exuberant expression of strawberries and raspberries, with a hint of guava. It is crisp, tangy, and laced with minerality. It’s pure deliciousness.