With strawberry being the overwhelming flavor on the palate for most vintages of our Rosé, I thought it was about time to incorporate actual strawberries into one of my Rosé pairings. That strawberry component was even more noticeable for me in this new 2020 vintage than it’s ever been! The composition of our newest Rosé varies drastically from that of years past, but it somehow is very reminiscent of our recent vintages. To be exact, our 2020 Rosé is 59.74% Merlot, 28.76% Malbec, 7.5% Grenache Blanc, and 5% Sauvignon Blanc; this is pretty different to our all-red 2019 and 2018 vintages, which were three equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec. Adding those extra bits of Grenache Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc will inevitably incorporate gorgeous tropical fruit and herbal notes, which coincide with the basil and balsamic in this strawberry basil chicken dish. Overall, it’s an elegant and delightful pairing.
This recipe is so simple and easy to make, but so refreshing in the way that it’s actually a phenomenal pairing and full of amazing flavor. Fresh arugula, herbs, parmesan, and Meyer lemon are classic Italian ingredients that can truly bring a dish to life. With just minimal ingredients, this beef tagliata dinner can bring out the best of our Timeless Cab. Speaking of “the best,” our Timeless is actually the best of our favorite vintages from our estate property. The Lot 567 version is a combination of our 2015, 2016, and 2017 estate Cabernet Sauvignon all blended into one bottle. It’s fantastic!
Take steaks out of refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.
Heat grill on medium.
In a food processor, combine garlic, rosemary, oregano, parsley, and thyme. Process until broken down into paste.
Liberally season steaks with salt, pepper, and onion powder. Using a basting brush, evenly coat steaks in herb paste.
Grill steak for three minutes on each side, then another three minutes on each side (a total of 12 minutes per steak and 6 minutes per each side of steak). This is how I grill a steak that has a medium thickness to achieve a medium-rare doneness. Steaks can be cooked for a longer or shorter amount of time to achieve desired doneness. Allow steak to rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting.
Place two cups arugula on two plates. Sprinkle half of your parmesan on each. Mix together your lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl, then drizzle half on each plate. Season your salad with salt and pepper to taste.
Once steak has rested, slice into 1/2″ pieces. Place each steak on each plate.
Enjoy salad alongside a couple glasses of McGrail Timeless Cab!
Please let us know if you end up making these pairings and if you have any feedback! We’d love to hear it.
This mini beef Wellington pairing suggestion was made by Heather McGrail as we tasted the new release wines for our February 2021 quarter. Heather, who was on a low-carb diet at the time was craving beef Wellington, which is how this pairing came to fruition. I have to say, it’s a fabulous pairing. The umami of the mustard, mushroom, and shallot match the heartiness of “the Good Life’s” palate, while the fat in the filet mignon and the puff pastry tames the tannins in the wine. It’s practically a perfect pairing.
pink Himalayan sea salt, fresh cracked pepper, and garlic powder to taste
2 16 oz. cuts filet mignon
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup dijon mustard
2 flaky pastry circles (net wt. 16 oz.), about 9″ in diameter each
1 large egg
1 tbsp. water
Remove filet from refrigerator and allow to reach room temperature.
Heat a medium-sized, non-stick pan on medium heat.
Add minced shallots and garlic. Cook until translucent. Add mushrooms and thyme. Cook until the majority of mushroom liquid has evaporated and mushroom mixture has browned slightly (about 7-10 minutes), stirring occasionally. Once cooked, remove from pan and set aside.
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Season filet with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.
In the same pan used for mushroom mixture, heat olive oil on high heat. Once oil is hot, sear cuts of filet on both sides for about 1 minute for each side. Remove from heat. Allow to rest.
Brush each filet with dijon mustard.
Using a floured flat surface, lay out each puff pastry circle.
Take about half of the mushroom mixture and lay it out flat on the center of a puff pastry circle.
Place a filet in the center and fold flaps of pastry over the meat, like you would fold a burrito, so the meat is completely covered. Use your fingers to seal the pastry together.
Place on an oiled baking sheet with seam side on the bottom.
Repeat steps 9-11 with your second pastry circle and filet.
Optional: If you have extra puff pastry, use it to create fun designs to place on top of your pastry-covered filet. I used some pie crust cutter stamps that look like leaves and acorns on my beef Wellington.
In a small bowl, whisk and egg and water together to create egg wash.
Using a basting brush, brush egg wash onto puff pastry.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden-brown. Place on a plate, cover with foil, and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
Enjoy with a bottle of our amazing A Jó Élet, or “the Good Life,” Cab!
I think I always say this, so excuse me if I sound repetitive, but I really love our C. Tarantino Cab. It’s just different from our other Cabs, but specifically in that it’s made with a different clone of Cabernet than what’s planted on our estate or our Lucky 8 Vineyard. Even though the vineyard in which these grapes are grown is only a mile from our own estate, the soil is very different, which makes the wine different. It’s always incredibly balanced, but the acidity is so great, which makes it fantastic for pairing with food. That’s not say it’s difficult to get down on a whole bottle of this; it’s incredibly smooth and drinkable, with soft tannins. I just love it.
Like one of my favorite wines, German food is also a comfort to me. While tasting the newest vintage of our C. Tarantino Cab, Mark, Heather, Jen, and I were brainstorming what we thought would be the best pairings for each of our new wines. Jägerschnitzel and Jägersoße, pork schnitzel with rich mushroom gravy, immediately came to mind. I hope you all are able to enjoy this pairing as much as I have!
***I have placed the mushroom gravy ahead of the pork schnitzel because it should be made prior to making the schnitzel***
Jägerschnitzel and Jägersoße
Jägersoße – Mushroom Gravy
Makes about 6 servings.
2 slices thick-cut bacon
1 medium yellow onion (about 6 oz.), sliced thinly
1 tbsp. garlic, minced
12 oz. fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
4 tbsp. salted butter, melted
4 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 cup red wine
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
2 cups chicken or beef broth
1/4 tsp. fresh cracked pepper
1/4 tsp. Himalayan sea salt
Heat a large, thick-bottomed pan on medium heat. Once up to heat, add bacon and fry until cooked through. Remove bacon from pan and set aside.
Increase heat to medium-high. Add onions and cook until translucent, then add garlic and cook until browned.
Stir in mushrooms and cook for 5-7 minutes or until liquid has evaporated.
Add butter. Stir. Add flour and continue to stir for 1-2 minutes or until it has been mixed into mushroom mixture well.
Add thyme and red wine. Stir. Allow to wine evaporate for about a minute.
Add balsamic vinegar, broth, pepper, and salt. Stir continuously until most of the liquid has evaporated and gravy has become thick. Reduce heat to low. Cover and allow to simmer for about 5-10, stirring occasionally.
Remove gravy from heat, but keep it warm. Immediately start on your pork chops to enjoy with your gravy (recipe below).
Jägerschnitzel – Breaded & Fried German Pork Chop
Makes about 4 servings.
Canola oil or avocado oil for frying the pork chops
4 boneless pork chops, about 8 oz. each
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1-2 large eggs
Optional: Fresh parsley as a garnish
Cover pork chops completely in plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat tenderizer, pound pork chops until they are about 1/4″ thick.
Season pork chops with paprika, onion powder, pepper, and salt.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine flour and breadcrumbs. Mix well.
In a small bowl, whisk egg(s).
In a deep pan or griddle, heat oil to 330 degrees F. The oil should sit about 1/6″ deep in the pan.
Take each flattened pork chop one-by-one and placed on a plate. Use a basting brush to coat pork chop in egg.
Dump the flour mixture on another plate and dredge each egg-coated pork chop in it. Be sure to shake any excess mixture from pork chop and do not push mixture into pork chop.
As soon as the pork chop has been coated in flour mixture, place it directly in the hot oil. Fry each pork chop for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until a golden-brown. Immediately place on a plate covered in paper towels to absorb any extra oil.
Serve each pork chop with a spoonful or two of mushroom gravy and a glass of McGrail C. Tarantino Cabernet.
Inspired by another stay-at-home order issued for the Bay Area, I’ve imagined my favorite pairings yet. I know how mundane being stuck at home can get, so here are the ultimate time-passing pairings: binge-able shows that you can easily stream, along with a bowl of flavorful, gourmet popcorn and a fat glass of your favorite wine! Enjoy these binge-worthy TV, gourmet popcorn, and wine pairings!
Get Wine Now
Don’t worry if you don’t have any of these wines at home, because we’re certainly happy to help you. We’re currently offering daily, contact-free curbside pickups from 10:30AM-4:30PM and local delivery on purchases of 12 bottles or more, so you can enjoy these TV, gourmet popcorn, and wine pairings!
Similar to our Worldly Wine & Picture Pairings blog post, the overarching theme of this TV, gourmet popcorn, and wine one is based on the fact that people are stuck at home right now, probably spending a lot of their time drinking their stash of good wine and bingeing streamable shows and movies. This is something I often find myself doing.
There are so many excellent, easy-to-stream shows on various networks, it can sometimes be overwhelming to choose which one to watch. I’ve done the work for you and have paired each popcorn and wine pairing with a television genre and have listed several suggestions for each. This way, all you have to do is choose your favorite wine or your favorite TV genre and your popcorn pairing recipe and shows are right there for you! Simple enough, right?
I chose popcorn to pair with these wines and TV shows because everyone likes popcorn. Unlike its Jelly Belly flavor, actual popcorn is loved by all. It’s also effortless to make and so versatile; there’s practically a million different ways to jazz it up. Lastly, it’s the best snack to mindlessly stuff your face with when watching TV and movies.
Keep reading for all of our TV, gourmet popcorn, and wine pairings OR tap the button below for just our popcorn pairing recipes.
Our seriously bold, inky Cabernet is as dark, mysterious, and unexpected as these poignant series are. While bingeing a show that is unpredictable, and even sometimes psychologically distressing, our comforting “Good Life” will keep you feeling safe and cozy on your couch. Now, pair that with dark chocolate cinnamon almond popcorn for some serious relaxation during these hair-raising episodes. This TV, gourmet popcorn, and wine pairing is a scream!
Disclaimer: I don’t recommend watching these shows with young children present, as they can be scary, display violence, and/or contain vulgar language.
If you haven’t already seen it, then you’ve surely heard of it. Black Mirror is a brilliant British series of mini dramas that takes a dark, cynical delve into the ways in which technology impacts and interacts with humans. Insane twists and turns throughout will keep you on your toes and fully engaged. Each episode is unique, but all will leave you questioning every element of technology in your life. Since each episode is a stand-alone drama, this series doesn’t have to be watched in any specific order. I recommend starting with episodes “White Bear” or “White Christmas,” from Season 2, or “Nosedive” from Season 3. In my opinion, these are some of the more mild episodes, but still give viewers a good idea of what to expect. Season 1 was given a 98% rating by Rotten Tomatoes, but you should watch it for yourself.
Watch it for free on Netflix or buy episodes for $3.99 each on Amazon Prime Video. *Find a special interactive episode on Netflix.*
Jordan Peele, the director of psychological thrillers Get Out and Us, is also narrator and creator of this classic science fiction and fantasy reboot. As he does in his two most well-known films, Peele touches on human fears, desires, and prejudices, but this time through episodical metaphors. Like Black Mirror, the Twilight Zone series is composed of individual stand-alone episodes. As is to be expected, some episodes are better than others, but all are honestly pretty creepy. I personally enjoyed the first three episodes of Season 1 the best. Rotten Tomatoes said of Season 1, “the Twilight Zone explores the strangeness of the modern world through Rod Serling’s winning formula, creating a thought-provoking — if not always spine-tingling showcase for” … “Peele and his exceptional crop of collaborators.”
Watch it with a CBS All Access subscription (Amazon Prime members get a free one month subscription) or buy individual episodes on YouTube for $1.99.
From the creators of Glee, Nip/Tuck, Ratched, and so many other phenomenal series, American Horror Story encapsulates its title through flagrant gore and truly terrifying story lines in both the human and paranormal worlds. The aesthetics throughout the 9-season show are just as impressive as the series is scary. Each season contains its own storyline, though there is some overlap with certain seasons. It would seem that every viewer has a favorite season, but that is subjective, of course. My personal favorite is Season 3: Coven, but they’re all great in their own ways. 94% of Google Users said they liked the show. You might fall into that category, but there’s only one way to find out: watch it… if you dare!
Catch American Horror Story on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.
Like the wrongdoings that take place in these true crime documentaries and dramatizations, our Austin James is bold. Pair it with some electrifying bacon and BBQ spice popcorn to get your inner sleuth fired up! The bacon will smooth out the tannins in this three-vineyard Cabernet blend, but the wine will warm your soul as you venture through some of history’s most ruthless crimes with this TV, gourmet popcorn, and wine pairing.
American Crime Story (2016-Present)
From genius Producer Ryan Murphy, American Crime Story is another exquisitely beautiful series with A-list actors and incredible aesthetics. Each season of the two-season show is based on a different controversial crime story within our lifetimes. Season 1 was about the O.J. Simpson murder trial in the mid-nineties, with a bronco-driving Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J., a perm-donning Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark, Emmy-winning Sterling K. Brown as Christopher Darden, along with many other well-known actors and actresses. Season 2 was based on the murder of Gianni Versace and the myriad other crimes of his killer Andrew Cunanan. It’s rumored the third season is about Clinton’s late-’90s impeachment trial. Even though we’ve lived through these events, each episode is still a thrill ride. The average tomatometer of the two seasons gives this show a 93% rating, with season 1 scoring higher than its predecessor.
Watch it on Netflix or purchase individual episodes for $1.99 on YouTube or iTunes.
Watch the trailer for Season 1: the People v. O.J. Simpson here.
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, And Madness (2020)
I think most people binged this one at the beginning of the pandemic, but if you didn’t, you truly are missing out. This documentary about America’s exotic animal owners takes you on a non-stop roller coaster through the jungle that is the southeastern United States. Just when you think things can’t get more wild, a metaphorical monsoon of elephants is dropped out of the sky (or someone gets their arm ripped off by a tiger). Every single episode is thoroughly entertaining, and if you watch it and disagree, you will, at a minimum, feel so much better about your own life choices. Rotten Tomatoes rates Tiger King at 86%.
Based on the true story of his mother’s murder in mid-1980s Los Angeles, this dramatized series closely follows the life of 17-year-old, drug-addicted Eric Fisher. Aside from the season finale, this show is designed so that each episode can be watched in whatever order the viewer chooses; this is meant to emulate the manner in which a cold case detective might approach the case. You, as the viewer, get to decide who is guilty of the murder, based on the way in which the evidence is laid out to you. Conceptually, this series is awesome. The acting isn’t too bad either. 80% of Google users said they liked this show.
One thing I really love about our C. Tarantino Cab is its gorgeous acidity, which makes it perfect for pairing with food, especially Italian food! This parmesan herb sun-dried tomato popcorn makes an incredible Italian food substitute to pair with our beautifully acidic Cab. Both will hold you over through the laughter and the tears of these dark dramedies in this TV, gourmet popcorn, and wine pairing.
Santa Clarita Diet (2017-2019)
Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant play husband-wife realtor duo in this hilariously horrific Netflix series. The suburb-dwelling couple, raising a teenage daughter in Santa Clarita, are faced with a supernatural challenge when Barrymore unwittingly eats some bad seafood. Things begin to get unexpectedly bloody and undead very quickly, but this real estate-selling team can handle anything… dead or alive. This series cleverly touches on the obstacles of marriage, parenthood, and being undead, all while keeping you laughing. Rotten Tomatoes gave this comedic horror a rating of 89%, but you should watch for yourself.
Based loosely on Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement’s 2014 mockumentary film, this recent FX series takes place in the suburbs of New York City, following the lives of four vampiric roommates, who attempt to navigate today’s world and modern social scene with antiquated garb and outdated ideas. Akin to its antecedent film, What We Do in the Shadows, this show also reveals the disheartening relationship between a vampire and its “familiar,” the motives of vampire slayers, and the similarities and differences between vampires and other supernatural creatures. The comedy throughout is bitingly sharp, and according to Rotten Tomatoes, its second season, which received a 100% rating, “savvily expands its supernatural horizons while doubling down on the fast flying fun.” Don’t miss out on this hidden gem of dark comedy.
Watch What We Do in the Shadows on Hulu. New episodes can be found on FX.
When her husband is murdered in a hit and run, Jen, portrayed by Christina Applegate, seeks help in grieving at a local support group. Here, she meets Judy, played by Linda Cardellini, who is suffering a loss of her own. The pair of opposites become fast friends, but Judy is hiding something from Jen. Judy’s secrets eventually surface and their friendship is tested. Tears, laughter, drama, and even murder follow. Rotten Tomatoes gave the series an overall rating of 89%, and said of the show’s second season, which received a slightly higher rating than the first, “doubles down on the twists” and “makes excellent use of its well-matched leads.”
This salted caramel butterscotch popcorn is so sweet, buttery, and when paired with our Charlie Rae Chardonnay, fabulous… kind of like the female leads in these dramas! This TV, gourmet popcorn, and wine pairing is dangerously divine.
Good Girls (2018-Present)
When housewife Beth discovers that her husband’s car dealership is going under and her family’s savings have been drained, she finds herself desperate to make ends meet. She calls on her sister Annie and best friend Ruby for help, as they too are hurting both financially and emotionally. The three concoct a plan to find money, with no holds barred. Upon finding money, the three moms find theirselves in more trouble than they had ever expected. Shocking twists and turns ensue throughout this series, with a healthy amount of laughs sprinkled in. Rotten Tomatoes gave this NBC series an overall rating of 87%, but seasons 2 and 3 were both rated 100%. Watch the first two or three episodes and you won’t be able to stop.
Stream Good Girls on NBC, Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV, YouTube TV, or fuboTV.
This gripping, eight-episode series is based on a Gillian Flynn novel by the same title (Flynn also authored psychological thriller “Gone Girl”). Amy Adams plays Camille Preaker, a reporter who returns to her quaint hometown to investigate the homicides of young girls. Camille’s past traumas and the reasons she left her hometown–her overbearing mother, her spiteful stepfather, the gossipy women of the small town, and the tragic passing of her younger sister–come to light, along with present demons. Unfortunately, this show lacks closure following the insane twist that takes place in the very last moment of the limited series. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a rating of 92% and said “a nearly unbearable slow burn, Sharp Objects maintains its grip with an unshakably grim atmosphere and an outstanding cast led by a superb Amy Adams.” Be sure to watch it all the way through. Nothing is really as it seems.
Watch Sharp Objects on HBO Max, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, or Youtube TV.
Just as Colton’s Cabernet is relatively easy to drink, the animated comedies in this TV, gourmet popcorn, and wine pairing are a piece of cake to watch. Throw some tasty herb popcorn into the mix, to complement the Colton’s Cab, and just enjoy! Whether you’re having a bad day or the best day ever, these animated comedy pairings are sure bring a smile to your face!
Family Guy (1999-Present)
While this show isn’t for everyone, I personally love how shrewd and chaotic it is. Producer Seth MacFarlane isn’t afraid to take jabs at anyone or anything. Covering the daily lives of the Griffin family, Family Guy paints patriarch Peter’s stupidity as unexpectedly endearing. The entire show is mostly mindless fun, with some witty humor sprinkled in. If you watch enough Family Guy, the Griffin family will eventually steal your heart, whether you like it or not. Laughs aren’t guaranteed if this isn’t your cup of tea, but if it turns out to be, the laughs won’t stop coming.
Catch new episodes of Family Guy on FOX and reruns on TBS. Most seasons can be streamed on FOX NOW, Hulu, fuboTV, Sling TV, and episodes may be purchased on YouTube, iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, and Vudu.
Watch the trailer for Season 19 of Family Guyhere.
The Simpsons (1989-Present)
I’d imagine that most American adults have seen at least a clip of the Simpsons. Similar to Family Guy, the Simpsons covers the ridiculous antics of the Simpsons family. Although Homer Simpson usually means well, he often finds himself in trouble, while son Bart prides himself on being a troublemaker. Homer’s sweet daughter Lisa is every parent’s dream child, but sometimes a little too much so. His wife Marge is constantly working to fix Homer’s mistakes. These easy watching episodes may be watched in whatever order the viewer chooses. Enjoy reacquainting yourself with this American classic.
New episodes can be watched on FOX and reruns on Freeform. Stream the Simpsons on FOX NOW, Disney+, Hulu, YouTube TV, Sling TV, and fuboTV. Episodes may be purchased on Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, and YouTube.
After 31 seasons, the Simpsons has become an icon of American popular culture, so instead of a trailer, here is a compilation of some of the show’s best bits, to remind you how hilarious it is.
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 91%
New episodes can be watched on FOX, reruns on TBS and Cartoon Network. Stream Bob’s Burgers on Hulu, YouTube TV, Sling TV, and fuboTV. Episodes may be purchased on Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, and YouTube.
Watch a 2018 Comic-Con highlight reel of Bob’s Burgershere.
Rick and Morty (2013-Present)
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 94%
New episodes and reruns can be watched on Cartoon Network. Stream Rick and Morty on Hulu, HBO Max, YouTube TV, and Sling TV. Episodes may be purchased on Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, and YouTube.
Watch a trailer for seasons 2 and 3 of Rick and Mortyhere.
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 95%
Watch it on Comedy Central, Hulu, YouTube TV, Sling TV, or fuboTV.
Just as I would imagine Gracie would prefer, I’ve paired her delicious namesake bubbles with TV shows and popcorn that just make you happy. This binge-worthy TV, gourmet popcorn, and wine pairing trio is just simply enjoyable.
The Good Place (2016-Present)
Kristen Bell and Ted Danson star in this hilarious series about the afterlife. Vulgar and selfish Eleanor Shelstrop (played by Bell) questions her qualifications for being sent to “the good place” when she is killed by a truck carrying a billboard for an erectile dysfunction pill. When she realizes there has been a mistake, Eleanor tries to blend into “the good place” and fool its creator Michael (played by Danson), although Michael himself isn’t actually as good as he’d like Eleanor and other residents of “the good place” to believe. Watch the entire series for a cast of A-list comedians and some dark-rooted laughs, romance, and shocks. Rotten Tomatoes gave the Good Place a rating of 97%.
Watch on Netflix or purchase episodes on Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, or YouTube.
Kimmy was stuck in an underground bunker as part of a doomsday cult for 15 years of her young life, until she and several other “Indiana mole women” are rescued. Forced back into the unfamiliarity of the real world, ultra-optimistic Kimmy moves to New York City, perhaps one of the most unfamiliar places of all, to reclaim her life. She hastily rents a room from wannabe Broadway star Titus and sketchy, eccentric New Yorker landlord Lillian and accepts a job from ultra-wealthy, elite, stay-at-home mom Jacqueline. The series, created by Tina Fey, is brilliant in its constant and witty humor, following Kimmy through her daily, cheerful naïveté. Rotten Tomatoes gave the show an overall rating of 96%, though its second season received a perfect score, and said it “is still odd in the best of ways, wonderfully building on its unique comedy stylings and brilliantly funny cast.”
Watch on Netflix. *Includes special interactive episode*
Just like this bold Cab, its popcorn pairing is rich and decadent. Enjoy the dark duo with these dark dramas for the ultimate TV, gourmet popcorn, and wine trio.
The Walking Dead (2010-Present)
Based on a comic book series of the same name, the Walking Dead begins with Georgia law officer Rick Grimes waking up in a hospital after being shot in a job-related shooting, with not a single ~living~ person in sight. He soon realizes the world has become very different from the one he once knew. Grimes must learn how to fend for himself in a world overtaken by the undead and the many untrustworthy living creatures who he crosses on his journey to find his family and rebuild civilization. With incredibly gruesome and graphic gore, this show may not be for everyone, and it’s especially not for children. The suspense, drama, and thrill of rebuilding society while fending off walkers will keep you hooked if you can stomach this show’s literal blood and guts. Rotten Tomatoes gave the Walking Dead a rating of 81%.
Stream on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube TV, Sling TV, or fuboTV. New episodes air on AMC.
What could possibly be more feminine than pink wine? Our Rosé is like the cosmo of the wine world, which is why it pairs so well with some of these classic TV shows with strong female leads and humbly delicious kettle corn. This TV, gourmet popcorn, and wine pairing has your daily dose of girl power!
Everyone in Washington D.C. has skeletons in their closet, but anyone who wants to keep them there needs Olivia Pope on their side. Pope (played by Kerry Washington), a former media consultant to the president, opens a crisis management firm to patch up holes that leak the drama, corruption, and scandal of the American political scene. Olivia’s staff at the firm work tirelessly to fix the lives of others, but can’t seem to be able to do the same for themselves. Whether you love her or hate her, there is no denying Pope is a bad ass. Shonda Rhimes is behind this political thriller, offering up plenty of drama, pain, suspense, and, of course, a soulful soundtrack. Of its second season, Rotten Tomatoes said “owning its soap-like sensibilities, Scandal creates enticingly addictive narratives, with surprising twists and fascinatingly damaged characters,” and gave it an overall rating of 93%.
Stream now on Hulu. Episodes may be purchased on YouTube, iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, or Google Play Movies & TV.
I’d imagine most people have at least heard of Sex and the City, but if you haven’t, I’ll give you a quick synopsis. Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, narrates the show about New York City womanhood in the late 1990s. SATC primarily focuses on the lives of four women: Charlotte, Samantha, Miranda, and Carrie, of course. Carrie is a sex columnist, who lives for romance, drama, and a really beautiful pair of designer shoes. Sweetheart Charlotte, who works at an upscale art gallery, is the most modest of the bunch. Samantha is content with being a sex-crazed blonde bombshell, while Miranda is an extremely cynical, grumbly, career-minded lawyer. No matter what hardships are thrown at the foursome, they stick together through it all. A reboot is planned for 2021, so if you haven’t yet watched it or are looking for a sign to rewatch it, this is it.
Stream now on Hulu, HBOMax, YouTube TV, Amazon Prime Video, or Sling TV. Reruns can be watched on E!. Purchase individual episodes on iTunes, YouTube, or Google Play Movies & TV.
Akin to the wine, this popcorn is fruity and chocolatey, but not too sweet. Enjoy the mysteriously dark and delicious pair with these coming of age and young adult series in this TV, gourmet popcorn, and wine grouping.
Harlan Coben’s the Stranger (2020), the Five (2016), or Safe (2018)
Harlan Coben, an American mystery and thriller novelist, was given a deal with Netflix to turn several of his books into series. Despite being from New Jersey, Coben’s shows all take place in England and their casts are almost exclusively composed of European folk. Funny enough, Michael C. Hall (the star of Dexter) plays one of the main characters in Safe, albeit with an English accent. Anyway, each of these titles are seriously thrilling and packed with unpredictable twists and turns from start to finish. If you’re into mysteries, even those that are sometimes a little too far-fetched to be believable, a little bit of British humor, and young adult dramas, these are for you! Personally, I would recommend watching the Stranger, then Safe, and finally the Five if you’re able to get really into the first two.
Rotten Tomatoes ratings: the Stranger – 83%, the Five – N/A, Safe – 71%
Stream all three on Netflix.
Watch the trailer for the Strangerhere. View the trailer for the Fivehere. Watch the trailer for Safehere.
The Queen’s Gambit (2020)
Everyone’s talking about it, but have you watched it yet? You don’t have to be into chess to enjoy this beautifully dark series. Anya Taylor-Joy plays orphaned Beth Harmon, who learns to play chess with her orphanage’s janitor. Even as a child, she struggles with drug abuse, using the pills given to her by the orphanage administrators to excel in her game. Upon her adoption, Beth is sent to a regular public school, where instead of joining the social clubs most accepted by young women her age, she jumps right into the school’s chess club. The members of the primarily male group are quick to underestimate young Beth’s abilities, but she proves her rivals to be the inferior players. Without giving away too much, let me just say the Queen’s Gambit is an underdog story and one of immense girl power. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a rating of 97%.
Not sure what wine to drink tonight? This is the TV, gourmet popcorn, and wine pairing for anyone who may be feeling indecisive. It’s our flagship Cab and it’s aged in a blend of three different oaks, so you truly get the best of all worlds. This is what I encourage people to take with them when they’re visiting friends or family and they’re not really sure what to bring. It’s a gorgeous Cabernet with a lovely label, and is good on its own or paired with food. Here, it’s paired with the easiest popcorn recipe. Seriously, there’s only five ingredients in this Black Pepper BellaVitano popcorn recipe. Lastly, I’ve paired it with stand-up specials because everyone likes to laugh and stand-up is so easy to watch.
Not only are there an overwhelming amount of shows to stream on various platforms, there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of stand-up comedy specials to choose from; not all of them are even that funny or worth your time, but there’s literally no way to know that until you’ve watch approximately ten minutes or so of each. I’ve picked a few of my favorite highly rated stand-up specials and listed them here, so you don’t have to spend hours flicking through Netflix (and yes, all of the shows listed here are on Netflix). I tried my best to choose a wide variety of comedy styles, with at least one that should appeal to every kind of person, but again, they are my personal picks and I prefer my comedy to be slightly profane. The trailers linked below can help you get a feel for each of these comic’s styles.
Ali Wong: Hard Knock Wife (2018)
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 100%
“Ali Wong emerges a mother still perturbed in Hard Knock Wife, a hilariously honest hour of comedy that highlights the joys and oh boys of motherhood with fearless energy and just the right amount of squirmy detail.” – Rotten Tomatoes
“A disarmingly perceptive exploration of loss, Patton Oswalt: Annihilation finds the comic deftly balancing his off-beat humor with a profoundly cathartic edge.” – Rotten Tomatoes
Stream on Netflix.
Watch the trailer here. Though the trailer would suggest otherwise, it’s worth mentioning the majority of Oswalt’s stand-up special touches on his experience in grieving the loss of his late wife, using humor tomake his transition to widower a little more bearable.
While not all reality TV is lighthearted or even real for that matter, these shows seem to fit both of those categories impressively well. Like our Clone 8 Cab, these shows are down-to-earth. Their true colors are easy to pick up, just as our Clone 8 brilliantly highlights the best of our estate terroir, with beautifully earthy and herbaceous notes, which pair excellently with its popcorn pairing. Enjoy the realness of this TV, gourmet popcorn, and wine pairing!
Queer Eye (2018-Present)
Anyone who loves a good glow up will love Queer Eye. No matter your age, gender, or economic status, the Fab Five is sure to sashay into your heart during the very first episode. Johnathan, Tan, Antoni, Karamo, and Bobby entirely make over the lives of drab American men (usually) who are down on their luck. If you’re looking for something uplifting and heartwarming to watch, look no further. You’ll laugh, cry, and drop your jaw in awe, as the Fab Five completely transform and inspire each episode’s subject, like an ugly caterpillar into a majestic butterfly. Rotten Tomatoes gives Queer Eye a rating of 93%.
I know we all wish we were on vacation right now. Well, with the Amazing Race, you can be (virtually at least). This fast-paced race around the world takes you to the most unexpected places, while being entertained by the teams’ imminent external and internal dramas, travel errors, linguistic and cultural challenges, and simply the excitement of making it around the world in just a matter of days. You’ll stayed glued to the TV, as you never know what to expect with the Amazing Race, but it’s always great fun! Rotten Tomatoes gives it a rating of 72%.
Watch on Hulu, YouTube TV, CBS All Access, fuboTV, and Amazon Prime Video. Episodes may be purchased on YouTube, iTunes, Google Play Movies & TV, and Vudu.
Dark and mysterious, this TV, gourmet popcorn, and wine pairing hits the sweet, savory, and harshly acidic parts of your palate. The fruit, umami, and acid flavors of the wine come through with the pomegranate balsamic and sharp cheese of the popcorn. Just as it’s difficult to keep yourself from bingeing these shows, it’s no easier to put down the wine and popcorn.
Search Party (2016-Present)
Alia Shawkat (known for playing Maeby from Arrested Development) is Dory Sief, a 20-something hipster, who works as an assistant for an uber-wealthy housewife in New York City and continuously allows others to walk all over her. When she discovers an acquaintance from college has gone missing, she asks her squad of university buddies to help her find Chantal. Their hunt takes a turn for the worse when Dory starts having an affair with a Private Investigator in defiance of her boyfriend Drew. The comedy throughout the series is plentiful, especially in scenes involving Dory’s friends Elliott and Portia, as is the suspense and adventure. I’ve been hooked on this show since the beginning and am crossing my fingers for a fifth season. Rotten Tomatoes said Search Party is about “four self-centered twentysomethings who gather together in the wake of their college acquaintance’s vanishing“ and rated it97%.
Stream Search Party on HBO Max or YouTube TV. Episodes can be bought on iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, or Vudu.
Former SNL cast member Bill Hader stars as title character Barry in this dark comedy about a lowly hit man and former U.S. marine in pursuit of a new career. He joins an acting class when the Chechen mafia assigns him to kill off one of his actor classmates. Barry becomes enamored with actress Sally and acting coach Mr. Cousineau (played by Henry Winkler) and decides to continue his schooling in entertainment. Of course, his attempt to disassociate from his career in assassination proves to be more difficult than he hopes for it to be. Even though this series is plenty dark, there are many laughable moments, because a show boasting legendary comics just has to be funny. Hader enforces his astounding versatility in this role, which afforded him a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series in 2019. Rotten Tomatoes gives Barry a 99% rating.
Stream Barry on HBO Max, Hulu, YouTube TV, or Amazon Prime Video. Buy episodes on YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, or Vudu.
Is there anything more comforting than a bowl of ramen? Imagine these warm savory Japanese noodles, but in popcorn form. Add a glass of your favorite Chardonnay and some of the most heartwarming television shows alongside that popcorn and you’re basically in heaven. That’s this TV, gourmet popcorn, and wine pairing!
This emotion-provoking drama series features an ensemble cast, with stars like Dax Shepherd, Craig T. Nelson, Lauren Graham, and Ray Romano, to name a few. The show is set in the Bay Area and focuses on the lives of the Braverman family, who are faced with many of the challenges that parents and families of today’s society often experience. Some of these trials include accommodating a child diagnosed with a learning or social disability, teaching biracial children to embrace their multicultural identities, accepting and loving those who belong to the LGBTQ+ community, single parenthood, and adoption. The Braverman family tugs at your heartstrings, as they do their best to make it through life’s unpredictable obstacles, while sticking closely to one another. Rotten Tomatoes called Parenthood “a comedy-drama following a large and imperfect family as they tackle the challenges of raising kids and starting over after setbacks” with an 88% rating.
Find Parenthood on Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, or Peacock. Episodes may be purchase on iTunes, Google Play Movies & TV, YouTube, and Vudu.
Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin star in this Netflix series directed by Chuck Lorre. Sandy Kominsky (played by Douglas) is a once-famous actor-turned-acting-coach making his living in retirement by teaching. Kominsky’s longtime agent, confidant, and best friend (played by Arkin) joins Kominsky in the roller coaster ride that is life. This clever story was awarded the Golden Globe for Best Television Series in Comedy in 2018 (and was again nominated the following year), while that same year Douglas was awarded the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series in Comedy (and was again nominated in 2019). Rotten Tomatoes said “the sun isn’t setting yet on the once famous Sandy Kominsky and his longtime agent Norman Newlander” and gave the show a 90% rating.
This full-bodied Merlot can sometimes be overlooked because of Merlot’s reputation, but just like these bold and heavy shows and popcorn pairing, this wine can hold its own. It’s truly a diamond in the rough, quite similarly to some of the characters in these shows. The wine and popcorn duo could be a meal in itself. Don’t underestimate this pleasing pick-me-up of a TV, gourmet popcorn, and wine pairing.
Sons of Anarchy (2008-2014)
Jax Teller, an integral member of a notorious California biker gang, finds himself questioning his loyalty to his club, as the group’s lawlessness becomes unmanageable. The Sam Crowe chapter of Sons of Anarchy is known for running arms through Northern California’s Central Valley and attempting to keep rival gangs from doing the same. The gang certainly appears cold-blooded on the outside, and though some are heartless, most of the crew are simple human beings, just trying to make it through life. Teller is tied to the club by his late father, one of its most valuable members ever, who ultimately found himself in the same position as Jax–wondering if it’s all worth it. The show is heartbreaking, riveting, and action-packed all at once. Charlie Hunnam, who plays Teller is easy on the eyes, which definitely helps to keep viewers engaged. Rotten Tomatoes gave SOA an 83% rating.
Watch SOA on Hulu. Episodes may be purchased on YouTube, iTunes, Vudu, Amazon Prime Video, or Google Play Movies & TV.
It’s only right that our most patriotic wine and our wine for a cause (as a portion of the sales goes to helping fund education for children of first responders killed in the line of duty) be paired with television shows honoring our heroes. The brown butter dark chocolate toasted hazelnut popcorn will keep you buckled into your seat for your binge-watching these series and the incredible flavors of vanilla and cocoa in the wine will be your partner through it all. Enjoy this excellent criminal justice TV, gourmet popcorn, and wine pairing!
The Wire (2002-2008)
Based in Baltimore, Maryland, the Wire puts a magnifying glass to the narcotics division of the Baltimore Police Department, looking at both the point of view of the dealers and users and that of law enforcement. Starring Dominic West, Michael K. Williams, and Idris Elba, this five season series puts you in the shoes of the good guys and the bad guys and helps humanize each, with there being innumerable commonalities between both. Though fans of the Wire feel the show was snubbed at the Emmys, it did win several other awards, including a Peabody Award, and it was even praised by President Obama as one of his all-time favorite television shows. Rotten Tomatoes called it “a complex, impeccably acted crime drama” and gave it a 94% rating.
These series are just as bright and refreshing as our Peyton Paige Sauvignon Blanc, but of course with just as much pizzazz. Get involved with some zesty hot chili lime street corn popcorn for a little extra kick and you’ll soon be consumed with some exceptional flavors and entertainment with this TV, gourmet popcorn, and wine pairing!
The Politician (2019-Present)
Affluent Payton Hobart has been working tirelessly his entire life to one day become the president of the United States, but this dream must at least start with becoming his Santa Barbara high school’s student body president. He knows he’ll need this title to make it to Harvard and ultimately continue on to becoming president of the United States. His campaign toward student body president is foiled when undeniably handsome, popular jock River Barkley decides to also run for student body president. Tragedy strikes River and his campaign is handed off to his girlfriend Astrid, who also happens to be Payton’s arch nemesis since elementary school. Payton and his group of loyal political campaigners cook up various schemes, frequently overlooking basic morality, and will do anything and everything to snag the seat of student body president for Payton.
Stream the Politician on Netflix. Purchase episodes on Google Play Movies & TV, Vudu, and Amazon Prime Video.
As it’s the genre I would imagine our own “shameless Shamus” would appreciate, these series are true cheeky comedies. They may be difficult to watch for some, in that they are particularly crass, but anyone who can appreciate that type of humor can get hip to these shows. Comparable to one another, our Shamus Patrick Red Blend, these entertaining programs, and the taco popcorn are no bother to enjoy.
American Vandal (2017-2018)
In season 1 of this deadpan mockumentary, Jimmy Tatro portrays Dylan Maxwell, a crudely behaved high school student. Maxwell is expelled from his high school after being accused of spray-painting obscene, phallic images on 27 faculty cars. The dry, satirical docudrama is directed by aspiring filmography students who believe “known dick-drawer” Dylan is innocent. Accounts of the incident and Maxwell’s reputation are taken from both the school’s students and faculty over the course of eight episodes. Face is maintained something shocking through the childishly ludicrous, but truly comical subject matter. In season 2, our student documentarians return to chronicle a similar incident that occurs at another high school, with the substance just as callow and absurd as season 1. Rotten Tomatoes, which rated it 98%, called American Vandal addictive and said it “will leave one question on everyone’s minds until the very end: Who drew the dicks?”
If there’s anything I’ve learned from binge-watching these streaming services, it’s that sometimes international comedy is just better. Don’t let me be the one to tell you that though; these shows have plenty of laughs waiting for you. Enjoy our salute to our Irish heritage, our Sláinte Red Blend, and some fun peanut butter, chocolate, and potato chip popcorn (my take on an Irish-American snack) with these European and Australian comedies. Don’t forget the subtitles with this TV, gourmet popcorn, and wine pairing!
Derry Girls (2018-Present)
Set in Londonderry, Northern Ireland in the 1990’s, this show follows the lives of a group of mischievous, misfit Catholic school girls. It offers historical accuracy in touching on the bloody sectarian conflict between the unionists and nationalists, but keeps you laughing through it all. With a cast that includes Nicola Coughlan and Saoirse-Monica Jackson and the ’90s soundtrack of any lass’s dreams, this program has it all. Rotten Tomatoes’ critics gave it a score of 98% and said it “makes frenetic light of teen life” in its setting. Watch Derry Girls on Netflix, but don’t forget to turn on the captions, as Derry accents are hardly intelligible to the American ear.
Get to know our wonderful tasting room staff through
Meet our staff member Paige! Paige has worked at McGrail since May of 2018 and her favorite McGrail wine is the Good Life Cab. When she isn’t at McGrail, Paige is a kindergarten teacher who enjoys hiking, yoga, and drinking wine in her spare time! Paige loves seeing all the puppies that come into the winery. She says her favorite thing about working at McGrail is seeing the staff, because they feel like family to her.
Meet our staff member Gail! Gail has worked at McGrail since August of 2017, but she also worked in the tasting room when it first opened in 2008. Her favorite McGrail wines are the Graduate Cab and the McGrail Family Chard. She has helped with both harvest and bottling and can be found in the tasting room almost every weekend, because Gail’s favorite thing about working at McGrail is getting to meet new people. Gail was a legal secretary for 40 years before retiring and coming to McGrail. She has lived in Livermore since 1983. Gail has been married to her sweet husband Rick for 46 years and has two sons, a wonderful daughter-in-law, a 19-year-old grandson (who also sometimes works at the winery), and a 14-year-old granddaughter. She loves her family and all her favorite TV programs, like This Is Us and Modern Family, have to do with family. In her spare time, Gail enjoys gardening, traveling, shopping and being anywhere near water. Most people probably don’t know that Gail used to have a Harley Davidson Softail she loved to ride.
Meet our staff Member Mary! Mary has worked at McGrail since June of 2017, but she has been a wine club member since 2009. Mary’s favorite part about working at McGrail is how she is treated like a part of the family and how it just feels like home. She says it’s the best job she’s ever had. Mary feels the combination of McGrail’s grapes and the winemaker’s talents equal the best wines in the Livermore Valley, which is why she can be found in the tasting room every Thursday and Friday. Her favorite McGrail wine is our Patriot Cab, as she is the mom of a police officer. Funny enough, when Mary was pregnant with her police officer son, she was working for a defense attorney, but later made the switch to medicine, managing a medical practice for a pediatric orthopedic specialist, and later, to wine. Mary says she discovered her love of wine by drinking box wine many years ago; due to this love of wine and because she wanted to be around happy people, she decided to work at the winery upon retirement. Mary has been married to her husband Dave for 20 years. They have four kids and two granddaughters, who Mary says are the center of their universe. On her days off, she enjoys being a nana, traveling, boating, and just being outdoors. Mary’s mission is to treat everyone how she would want to be treated. She loves making other people happy. We miss Mary’s grace and compassion. Say hello to Mary next time you see her at the winery!
Meet our staff member Charlie! Charlie has worked at McGrail since October of 2018 and he says his favorite thing about working here is the people. He has always loved wine and says working in a tasting room just feels natural to him. He’s even helped with harvest! Charlie’s current favorite wine is the 2016 James Vincent Cab. He has been a wine club member for over ten years. At the beginning of their membership, whenever Charlie and his wife would come wine tasting at McGrail, they would bring their two boys, who he says were given treats by our staff members, which made the experience more tolerable for them. Speaking of his family, Charlie and his wife have been married for a quarter of a century and together they have two boys, Jack (19 years old), who works in the culinary arts, and Nick (21 years old), who is a senior at Sonoma State, majoring in history. Charlie is also into history and has been an eighth grade U.S. history teacher for the past 22 years. He says one of the most embarrassing things that has happened to him was when he accidentally ripped his dress shirt using a yardstick as a sword during one of his teaching lessons, as he had to continue wearing the shirt for the rest of the day. A fun fact about Charlie is that he has been taking a group of eighth graders to Washington D.C. for the past 17 years. When Charlie isn’t in the tasting room or teaching a class of eighth graders, he enjoys golfing, cooking, wine tasting, and taking his traveler trailer out on trips. We miss Charlie’s super sharp, witty humor and his passion for wine. Say hello to Charlie the next time you see him at the winery!
Meet our team member Gayle! Gayle began working at McGrail in August of 2016 and she can usually be found in the tasting room, giving tours, or helping with harvest. Her favorite McGrail memories are every sunset she’s experienced since she’s been working here and she says her favorite part about working here is being around people who are happy all the time! She enjoys learning about Livermore history and the winemaking process, because it’s like conducting a symphony to her. Gayle says this is a great retirement gig for her, as she spent 30 years working at Bank of America, and 25 of those years in the Residential Appraisal Department, but she also has worked as an Assistant Buyer for BevMo and as a caretaker for her father. Funny enough, Gayle’s stint at McGrail has become a family affair of sorts, as her cousin-in-law, Jeff, is also a Tasting Room Associate. Gayle and her husband Chris, who have been married to one another for almost 43 years, have one adult son, Mike, who is awesome, and a beautiful 98-pound Burmese Mountain Dog. When she’s not at McGrail, Gayle enjoys music, biking, and just being outdoors. Gayle has been studying vocal jazz and classical voice, and while she mostly sings old songs from the Great American Songbook, she can lay down some awesome harmonies, too. Gayle and her family visit Lake Tahoe quite frequently, as she bikes around the lake twice a year and she vacations with fellow Tasting Room Associate Jeff and his family in Tahoe at least once annually. One thing Gayle would like others to know about her is that she hates being late and she never lies. We miss Gayle’s wisecracking humor and her love for our Rosé, which she insists is medicinal. Please say hello to Gayle the next time you see her at the winery!
Meet our staff member Patty! Patty has been at McGrail since February of 2018 and her favorite wine is any vintage of the James Vincent Cab. She loves working at McGrail, because our customers come in happy and looking to have a good time. Patty enjoys connecting with new people and old acquaintances in the tasting room and introducing them to the Livermore Valley and McGrail wine. She says she is consistently amazed at how kind and wonderful the staff at McGrail are. Before working at McGrail, Patty worked a few different jobs: as an IT Manager for several Silicon Valley startups, as a stay-at-home mom (though she was still working for a friend’s marketing consulting business), and for the Pleasanton School District for 16 years. When Patty isn’t at McGrail, she spends her time with her grandchildren, entertaining friends, shopping, and playing with her dogs (Tilly, Reggie, and Tina). Her friends call her the “dog whisperer,” because she’s had so many dogs, her friends often call her before calling the vet, and because she can’t walk by a dog without saying hello. Patty also has 3 grandchildren, 3 adult sons, and a husband, Geert, to whom she’s been married for 36 years. She says the biggest surprise of her life was giving birth to a child with a permanent disability, but says her son has grown into a very fine and loving young man. Patty is so very proud of Danny and how high functioning he has become. She says being his mother has taught her so much about patience and compassion for others. In fact, another hobby of hers is volunteering her time to local schools and the Special Olympics! One thing you might be surprised to find out about Patty is she is a die-hard fan of Tower of Power and Diana Ross. We miss Patty’s positivity and calm, compassionate nature. Say hi to Patty next time you see her at the winery!
Meet our staff member Denise! She has been at McGrail since March of 2019 and she’s been bringing her own personal wine opener to use while working since then. Denise’s favorite McGrail wine is the Shamus Patrick Red Blend, but she’s also been sipping on the Kylie Ryan Rosé during the SIP. She says McGrail has been her favorite winery in the Livermore Valley for years, so she’s happy to now be a part of it and to be able to learn so much about the wine industry in the Livermore Valley, which she calls home. Denise has even helped with harvest! When she’s not working at the winery, she enjoys traveling with friends and family, but she also works for a transportation company that she and her husband own, but says she is lucky to have the flexibility of working from home and to have been able to be a stay-at-home mom for 20 years. Denise has been married to her husband, who is her highschool sweetheart, for 27 years now. Together, they have two daughters, whom they adore very much, and a very spoiled Mini Aussiedoodle named Kaya. Next time you see Denise at the winery, say hello!
Meet our staff member Pam! She has been working at McGrail since August of 2019. Although she is a full-time Learning and Development Management for a food service company, Pam came to work at the winery because she wanted to learn more about wine and because she was inspired by her Portuguese heritage and her uncles who used to make wine for fun. Aside from her jobs at the winery and in the food service industry, Pam is a mom to an 18-year-old son, named Travis, and a rescue dog, named Sparky. In her spare time, she enjoys dining out with friends, traveling, working out, and running. She has even run a half marathon and has hiked Half Dome in Yosemite. One thing most people may not know about Pam is that she is a breast cancer survivor. Her tenacity shines through in a story she shared with us about her childhood: “when I was a toddler, maybe 18 months, we were at the beach and my dad dug a hole in the sand, gave me a cup, told me to walk to the water, fill the cup, and then fill the hole in the sand with the water. My sister said it was painful to watch because I walked back and forth to the water and hole for hours, never giving up on this task she knew would never happen as the water continued to be absorbed by the sand. I did this until I collapsed and fell asleep on the sand. So I would say I’m very determined.” In addition to her drive, we are missing Pam’s love for people and her willingness to dive into the winemaking processes, as she helped with harvest just weeks after joining the team. She says her favorite thing about working at the winery is the people–both guests and staff, the views, and the energy of it all. Say hi to Pam next time you see her at the winery!
Today, we’re introducing you to our Assistant Winemaker and the star of our Tiger King and Richard Simmons Workout videos, Sir Cristian John-Paul Saucier, III. He has been working at the winery since February of 2015 and has probably worked 99% of weekends since then. Cris says he can’t choose a favorite wine, because they all contain his sweat, blood, and tears, but says Patriot is pretty smooth. His favorite thing about working at the winery is getting his hands dirty in production. In his spare time, Cris says he likes to break ankles on the basketball court, but we all know he’s really just an avid Golden State Warriors and Oakland A’s fan. Cris and his girlfriend enjoy cooking together, and often create meals inspired by the show Chopped, but have been doing quite a bit of hiking during the SIP. He says he wants a dog really badly, preferably a mutt, but his girlfriend’s cats will do for the time being. The last few weeks of the SIP have also really inspired Cris to dabble in acting. His favorite television show is Parks and Rec and he really wants to be Ron Swanson when he grows up. When asked what he’d do with a million dollars, he says he would open a chicken nugget food truck. A fun fact about Cristian is that he is almost 70% French! We don’t really miss Cris, because he’s been working hard at the winery, making wine, making deliveries, selling wine, and acting. Next time you see Cris at the winery, don’t be afraid to say hi!
Today, we’re introducing you to our longtime team member Eleanor. She has been working at McGrail since August of 2012 and says her favorite thing about this job is working with the Livermore Valley’s best production crew, as they laugh a lot! Her favorite wine at the moment is the 2016 Austin James Cab. Eleanor helps with harvest and bottling at every chance she gets and can also be found tending bar at almost all of our private events. She came to work at the winery to learn how to discern a good wine from a bad wine and to learn about the production side of the industry. Aside from her love for the production aspects of the winery, Eleanor also enjoys McGrail’s unbeatable sunsets and the camaraderie amongst the staff. When she is not at the winery, she is an English teacher to international adult students and spends her spare time cheering on the Golden State Warriors, sipping wine outdoors with friends, doing yoga, cycling, and running. She has run several half marathons and has cycled centuries. A few years ago, Eleanor had a bad accident while biking 50 miles in the Berkeley hills and broke her arm and shoulder in four different places. Although her injuries kept her from participating in that year’s harvest, she was determined to recover and went on to do a 65 mile bike ride just 6 months later! Eleanor’s fortitude doesn’t stop with her cycling; she has also been a vegan for 37 years and she and her husband Steve raised their two kids as vegans. She is so proud of her adult children–a daughter who is an architect in London and a son who is applying to med school. One thing that might not be obvious looking at this photo, but becomes very clear upon hearing Eleanor speak, is that she is English and has a lovely accent we all enjoy listening to. We miss Eleanor’s witty humor and her dedication to the art of wine.