California Dreaming (of Wine!)

We were delighted to attend the California Wine Fair 2017 in the Shelbourne Hotel, last Thursday 28th of September. This first event in Dublin was a chance to reintroduce California wine to the Public and Trade.

With Justine McGovern of California Wines Ireland at the O’Briens Wine Fair in May

California Wine has suffered under the burden of excise increases and reduced spending on premium wine in Ireland over the past 10 years. It was great to see commitment from the importers and wineries to growing the market in Ireland. On the day there was over 30 exhibitors in attendance.

There is no doubt Californian wine is a challenging financial proposition, in either a retail or restaurant environment. The price point competes with many excellent French, Italian and Spanish wines. There is also local demand and domestic bias which creates a winery door price that is high compared to European offerings.

However, wine is not a necessity, it is a want and a luxury. Keeping this in mind, enjoying a broad pallet and on occasion a different ‘drop’ is sometimes more important then purely the price. Big reds, buttery Chardonnays and many more interesting and nuanced wines are produced by some of the most talented wine makers in a range of climates through the state.

California Wine Fair at The Shelbourne Hotel #CaliWineFair2017

When we’re out, we often look for the US and Californian wines on wine lists. A good tip is to enjoy them in the wine shop wine bars, paying off licence prices with a small corkage fee rather than restaurant mark-ups.

Chateau Montelena at Grapevine, Dalkey
Beringer Merlot at Angelinas
Brazin’ Zinfandel at Blackrock Cellar
California Wine Fair Picks:

At the #CaliWineFair last month we spotted some really nice wines and these are our picks from the wide variety of Californian wine on offer…

From  Hoopes Family Vineywards we tried two great Cabernet Sauvignons, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 & Oackville Cabernet Sauvignon 2013. Hoopes were looking for distribution at the fair and based on the wines we tried from their estate we really hope they were successful in their mission.

Hoopes Family Vineyards – Cabernet Sauvignon

With a name like Trefethen, it’s obvious the heritage of this family vineyard is Welsh. Already distributed in the UK, Trefethen are hoping to soon be stocked here too. We tried a few of their wines including an unusual dry Riesling but the pick was this Merlot.

Trefethen Family Estates

Francis Ford Coppola brought a selection of their wines to the fair, the Diamond Collection Claret 2015 was an enjoyable sip.

Francis Ford Coppola Winery

To probably our standout wines of the fair, Inglenook. Every wine on their table was exceptional (though with a price to match ). A wonderful 2015 Blancaneaux, the Edizione Pennino Zinfandel with it’s movie heritage & fantastic label and superb Cabernet Sauvignons.

And finally, Berry Bros & Rudd had some more familiar California wines on offer from Au Bon Climat and Birichino. The Au Bon Climat 2014 Pinot Noir is a superb wine, soft and subtle.

Berry Bros & Rudd

A note on the recent events in California – we were sad to see the news of  wildfires in the Northern California wine region across Napa and Sonoma. Our thoughts are with all those affected. 

Contact Details & Some Stockists:



  1. Justine’s one of the best people in the world ever….fact!

    1. Gin & Griddle says:

      Indeed she is…Sorry I missed this comment and didn’t respond until now.

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