Category Archives: Meetings & Events

Malbec Focus Group

Malbec Focus Group – Facilitated by Donna Bettencourt and Sonia Baron

What is a focus group, you ask? A Focus Group is an intentional learning community around a particular wine varietal or technique. For instance, this is NOT a group buy which is an opportunity to buy large amounts of grapes with your fellow members in order to source quality grapes.

In this focus group, we will be studying Malbec. Each person who signs up must commit to attending the two focus group learning experiences, and commit to purchasing anywhere from 125 lbs to 300 lbs of Malbec grapes. Our grapes will be sourced from Sonia and Carol’s vineyard located within the Fair Play AVA in Somerset, El Dorado County. The price is $1650 per ton and the probable harvest date is September 9-10.

Preharvest, the focus group will have required readings provided by Donna, a pre-harvest Malbec tasting opportunity and a field trip to the vineyard where we will have lunch and barrel taste Sonia’s 2017 Malbec from her vineyard.  We will all meet at the vineyard for harvest; crusher will be available. After harvest, Donna will facilitate sharing of winemaking challenges and choices. Finally, we will all come together to taste each other’s wine next year.

If you are interested, please contact Donna Bettencourt at  Space is limited as we are limited to only one ton of grapes.

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April 18 Meeting – Corks + Closures, SHW Jubilee Wine Entries, El Dorado Contest

Phil Durrett, with ACIC  Cork and Closures, is this Wednesday’s guest speaker. He’ll be sharing lots of information on wine corks – how they’re made and protect your wine – along with discussion on alternative wine bottle closures. Meeting starts at 7pm upstairs at the Turn Verein located at 3349 J Street in Sacramento. Bring your own wine glass and a bottle to share if you’d like.

Jubilee wine entries will be accepted at the meeting (seek out Cellar Master Joe Morgan or Thad Rodgers).  Info: 

  • Your first wine entry into the 2018 Jubilee is at no cost, thanks to successful fundraising efforts.  Entries after that are $8 per. 
  • Enter with 1 bottle of 750 ml wine, completed entry info, and fees. 
  • Last day to enter is May 16 (entries will also be accepted at May 16 meeting).
  • Competition is open to current members only.  2018 membership form can be found here.
  • Find Jubilee competition details here and on right side of SHW’s website home page. 
  • This year’s Jubilee is the weekend of June 9-10.  The wine competition is on Saturday, June 9, and the Picnic – Awards cermony is on Sunday, June 10.  Picnic info and reservation forms are in the April 2018 The Grapevine.

On behalf of the El Dorado Home Wine Makers Association, Chief Judge Donna Bettencourt will also be accepting entries for the El Dorado County Fair’s Home Wine Competition.  Information on that competition can be found here.



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California State Fair 2018 Home Wine Competition Results

The California State Fair Home Wine Competition, this year with almost 850 entries, is one of the most fierce in the state.  SHW is a big part of the competition: pre-competition cellar management; involved in all aspects on competition day; and being a part of the post-competition awards cermony. 

Congratulations to all!

Check out the results here.

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Technical Help Needed: Wine Competition Software in MS Access

The SHW Jubilee database, in MS Access, is in need of updates and we’re hoping a SHW member can help make it better meet the Club’s wine competition needs. If you’re even mildly conversant in Access, we need your help! Please contact Jubilee Data Guru Bill Staehlin at bill.staehlin@sbcglobal or call / text 916 216-1753.


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UC Davis Winery Field Trip Full & Writing with Wine

Thanks for your zealous response to the April 28 UC Davis Winery Field Trip.  The tour is full, and there’s already a sizable waiting list so we will not be adding more names to it.  If some space opens up, we’ll let you know.

Also, we posted David Blitstein’s grapes for sale from his Sierra Foothills vineyard in Nevada County.  The minimum purchase has been corrected to read “200 lbs minimum” vs. “2,000 lbs minimum.”  This writer is learning to proofread first before reaching for another glass of wine.



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New Winemakers Finishing Workshop

SHW member J.D. Phelps offers a finishing workshop for new winemakers.  Invited are participants from last year’s New Winemakers Group who made wine from J.D.’s zinfandel and other beginning winemakers who want to learn about finishing their wines before bottling.  J.D. writes:

“Your wines should be waking from their winter naps about now. Temps will start rising during the day and you may see some renewed activity from your wine from either incomplete ML or primary fermentations. Hopefully you have been tasting your wines along the way! Most of you should have a well balanced wine from the numbers standpoint; pH and TA. So, what’s next? What should you do before putting it in a bottle and serving it to friends and family? Or, how can you turn a bronze medal wine into a gold?

Now is the time to start thinking about finishing your wines. This is all about rounding out the wine, ensuring its balance before you put it in bottle. This is where we can address things like tartness or flatness in your wine, too much or too little oak, improving mouthfeel, color and stability, and of course treating any odd things that may have impacted the taste or bouquet of your wine.

For me personally, learning to finish a wine is where I feel I truly became a winemaker. Or at least realized what ingredients and equipment I had available in the kitchen.

I am offering to host a finishing workshop for last year’s New Winemakers (and any newbies since then who may wish to attend?). The workshop will be on Saturday, April 14. We’ll start at 10:30 AM. The location will be 9628 E. Peltier Rd. in Acampo.

Please bring the following:
• Something to share for lunch
• 1 – 750ml bottle of your wine (You will be doing bench trials with it)
• A wine glass
• 1 – 10ml syringe
• 4 to 5 – 50ml Erlenmeyer flasks or beakers (put your initials on them with a sharpie)”

Please RSVP by April 10th to


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Lake County Home Wine and Beer Makers Festival

Greetings from the Lake County Symphony Association’s wine club!

Once again we are holding our annual Home Wine and Beer Makers Festival on June 16th in Library Park in downtown Lakeport, California, starting at 12 noon. We would like to invite any of your home wine makers to participate by hosting their own wine tasting booth. Also, we would encourage you to enter your home made wines in our wine tasting competition. For every wine maker who participates in the wine tasting competition, we will provide a tasting booth as a part of the competition entry fee.

The majority of the proceeds benefit the Lake County Symphony.

Please contact me concerning entry fees/details or for any other questions you may have.

Richard Robinson

530 955-1757


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UC Davis Winery Field Trip – April 28, 2018

This event is FULL.

Sacramento Home Winemakers has been invited to tour the UC Davis Winery on Saturday, April 28 starting at 10:30 AM.  David Block, chair of the the University’s Department of Viticulture and Enology leads the tour through the winery, barrel room and crushpad.

Afterwards, we’ll take the short trek to the winery home of Marcus and Jenny Meadows-Smith for lunch al fresco (Marcus will be grilling!).  There, we’ll also taste Berryessa Gap Vineyards wines with their winemaker Nicole Salengo. 

Club members Linda Clevenger and Seth Brunner and Marcus and Jenny Meadows-Smith are donating the lunch entrées.  Please bring a luncheon side dish to share, your wine glass and chair, and if desired, a bottle of wine to complement lunch.

Due to space constraints, this event is limited to 25 people; SHW members only please.  $10 per person for wine tasting.

To reserve your spot, email Seth Brunner at  A waiting list will be started when the event reaches capacity.

Many thanks to Seth for arranging this Yolo County day.


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March 21 Meeting – Red Wine Evaluation

See you at Wednesday night’s meeting when we’ll be evaluating red wines. Bring a split or full bottle of any red wine of any vintgage and any winemaker for discussion. Don’t forget to pack a couple of wine glasses for your use, too. At the meeting, we’ll be sharing more details on upcoming SHW events including the April 28 UC Davis winery tour and group buys.


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WineMaker Conference May 17-20 in San Diego

Winemaker magazine reminds us:

The annual WineMaker Conference is returning to California this year and time is running out on deadline of April 2 to register and save $50. WineMaker has a great program over four days planned all for the home winemaker with small-class workshops, seminars, winery tours, and special events. Join WineMaker in San Diego May 17-20 for days packed with winemaking learning and fun. And don’t forget to register by April 2 and save $50!

Click here for full details.

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