I was pleasantly surprised to hear from my old friend Dave this week - we used to work together at FileMaker back in the 90s, and last year I worked for him for a few weeks before moving to Redmond.
He's since left FileMaker, and had returned to winemaking full time. Just before I left San José last year, I was lucky enough to head down to the winery with Dave and taste some of the wines he'd made for Sarah's Vineyard; I was kind of apprehensive about going because I was frankly worried that Dave, who's one of the best software test engineers I've ever worked with, would turn out to be an, um, less than stellar winemaker. Yeah, I'd already drunk a bottle of his Dominatrix dessert wine a couple of years back, and that was really tasty, but I don't know, I guess I'm just absurdly skeptical at times.
Luckily, Dave's wines kick ass. Hell, I found myself drinking both chardonnay and merlot and actually liking them. His wines are some of the few Californian wines I've tried that actually manage to keep everything in balance; there's wood in there, for example, but it's nicely integrated and not obnoxious in the least. I was especially fond of his pinot noir, which was really good and flavorful, proving that not every good American pinot has to come from Oregon.
2. Bonny Doon Vineyard
Just in time for Christmas, they came up with a killer idea: it's a Harry & David style wine club. 12 bottles, 12 months, 6 shipments. It's got all of their greatest hits [save for the expensive stuff they make], and best of all, it's a good deal: $115 plus tax and shipping. I know, I'm so predictable; I already ordered one of these for Dan and myself, and it came to something like $160. I'm a sucker for good wine delivered on a regular basis... what can I say?
OK, so it's pricey, but what the hell. They've got some lovely 4-packs of their zinfandel for something like $92 plus tax and shipping. Really lovely stuff, nice presentation, sure to outsex most any other plonk you hide under someone else's tree this year.
BTW, if you're buying for me [ha ha, I wish], you can't go wrong with a random smattering of zinfandel from Ridge, or [better yet] anything from Andrew Rich. :)