Dude, it’s Nectar
Mill Valley’s Jeffrey Grava and his team at Longboard Vineyards in Healdsburg have been busy getting the word out on their award-winning wines. A bottle of Longboard 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon appeared on the set of Two and a Half Men; in January the San Francisco Chronicle gave its top-level award to Longboard’s 2007 pinot noir and 2007 sauvignon blanc, and their 2007 merlot brought home a gold medal from the Dallas Morning News Wine Competition in March 2009. Care to sample these award winners for yourself? The Healdsburg tasting room is open Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m–6 p.m.; feel free to call ahead (707.433.3473) or check the website for upcoming winemaker dinners and other events here in Marin.

The Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association (AVWA) will hold the 12th annual Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival May 15-17, 2009.

Drink to That
With wine country so close, most of us already have our favorite tasting spots. For a look at  a few under-the-radar options, pick up the new Back Lane Wineries of Sonoma (The Little Bookroom, $20) guide. Author Tilar Mazzeo arranged the chapters into five primary areas: Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley, Healdsburg, Russian River Valley and Sonoma. She also includes suggestions for nearby restaurants or local attractions to work into your itinerary at the end of each section.

Calling All Cultists
Grape guru Philippe Melka, who oversees winemaking for Dana Estates’ trio of collector cabernets, will be offering 440 cases of the 2005 Helms Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($275/bottle), the winery’s first release, in winter 2009.

Serving up Napa
Cindy Pawlcyn’s latest book, Appetizers, published by Ten Speed Press, offers over 40 recipes collected from her repertoire of favorites including 10 new ones. Now, who throws the best parties?

Budem! This Russian toast could catch on in our northern neighbor-city. Local restaurateur Graziano Perozzi and his daughter Sonia have opened Northern California’s first temperature-controlled (28 degrees) tavern, Graziano’s Vodika Lounge, featuring specialty martinis and hard-to-find designer vodkas, at 170 Petaluma Boulevard North. 707.762.5997,

Wine Reading
Just in time for the longer lazier days of spring, Wine House Press has published the fourth edition of The California Directory of Fine Wines, which includes 24 new entries and a total of 69 wineries throughout Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties. Of special interest to Marinites are the images in the book by award-winning photographer Robert Holmes of Mill Valley. “Considering California wineries are my favorite photography subject,” says Holmes, “I consider myself lucky to have been able to work on every edition of this directory.” He credits his fortune to Jennifer Barry Designs in Fairfax, who employed him to photograph for the first edition of the series.

Holmes is also celebrating another book launch he contributed to, Passion for Pinot, written by Jorday Mackay. Does he have tips for amateur wine country photographers? “Besides being aware of how the property is situated in regards to the sun,” he says, “keep drinking—it loosens the vision.” Both books are available at Book Passages, and other local bookstores.