Best of California Dinner Party


We love throwing dinner parties which is why we created our Best of California Dinner Party Sweepstakes.  (Enter to win here >>  Over the years, we have encountered our fair share of glorious party moment and, of course, some learning moments.  From our successes and failures, we are sharing with you our list of tips.

  1. Friday Night Rocks.  Guests are usually excited to kick of the weekend and happy to linger late celebrating.  It also keeps their weekend free.  For the host, having your dinner on Friday night will really encourage you to spread out the work throughout the week and keep things simple.
  2. Relaxed Host.  Have a glass of wine before your guests arrive.  A relaxed host is a happy host.
  3. Play a Game.  If possible, get outside and play a lawn game or such before dinner.  We love playing Bocce.  It helps guests work up an appetite and gives them something to laugh about over dinner.
  4. The Sweet Stuff.  Make your dessert the day before or pick it up from the store.    If you are brewing coffee, stick with decaf.
  5. Drinks.  Pick one signature cocktails drink.  Also have plenty of chardonnay and pinot noir ready to serve which are both extremely food friendly.
  6. No Place Cards.  They tend to feel a bit stuffy.  However, you should still think about the seating arrangement.  Have the “funny” person in your group sit in the middle.  Keep the shy folks close to the hosts.  Couples should not sit together.  Consider switching seats with your partner at dessert time to mix it up.
  7. Turn off the lights.  Set out lots of antique candlesticks with differing heights to set the mood and give a dash of opulence and charm.
  8. Over the top.  To put the evening over the top, send guests home with homemade mignardises in antque jars.   They’ll dig in on the way home or save them for the morning.  Either way your party will leave a lasting impression.
  9. Share Tasks.  Give your guests tasks that they can handle – lighting candles, filling water glasses.
  10. Edible Centerpiece.  A baguette at each end of the table is a beautiful touch, but also put an assortment of rustic breads on the table, so people can tear off pieces as they pass them around.
  11. Make-Ahead Menu – Williams-Sonoma shares a delicious menu that you can make ahead.

Don’t feel like throwing the party yourself?  Then, enter to win our Best of California Dinner Party and we’ll take care of all the details – no dishes, no mess.  We’ll host an amazing dinner party for you and eleven of your friends under the stars here at Landmark Vineyards.  Enter to win >>

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Filed under Chardonnay, Estate, General, Overlook, Pinot Noir

40 Years in the Making


In our forty-year quest to capture the essence of each vintage, Landmark has experienced an incredible journey.  In the 70s, we made a wide range of varieties including cabernet sauvignon, merlot and chardonnay.   We started to turn our attention exclusively to chardonnay in 1980s and became the first bonded winery to exclusively produce chardonnay.    When our winemaker at the time Eric Stern collaborated with renowned enologist Helen Turley in the early 1990s, they created our flagship Overlook Chardonnay, which has appeared on Wine Spectator Magazine’s Top 100 list six times – quite an impressive collaboration!

Today at Landmark, we enjoy not only making chardonnay but also pinot noir and we are excited to debut the very first vintage of our Overlook Pinot Noir this year to complement our Overlook Chardonnay. Whether it be a pinot noir from Solomon Hills, a chardonnay from Kiser or one of our signature Overlook varieties, our wines continue to embody the same philosophy we’ve had since 1974: source the best in California in any given year.

We have some great events and wine offerings to share with you in the coming months to celebrate our 40th Anniversary, so please check back in with us soon.  We look forward to raising a glass and celebrating this milestone with you.

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Ahi Tuna and Avocado Tartar

with Curry Oil, Wasabi Mayonnaise, Orange, and Micro Cilantro

Ahi Tuna Tartar

Recipe by Executive Chef Bruno Tison, The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn


  • 12 ounces sushi grade ahi tuna
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 tbsp curry oil
  • 4 tbsp wasabi mayonnaise
  • Wasabi mustard, a pinch
  • Orange segments, 8 pieces
  • Yuzu, a few tbsp
  • Micro cilantro, a few sprigs

Warm up 4 tbsp of grape seed oil with about one tablespoon of curry powder.  Let rest until you get a nice color and flavor, then strain through a coffee filter.  Set aside.

Dice tuna loin into ¼ inch cubes, mix with curry oil.

Dice avocado into ½ inch cubes and mix with Yuzu, for flavor and color preservation.

Place one first layer of tuna in the bottom of a ring mold ( 2.9 inch diameter, 1.75 inch), a touch of wasabi mustard, a layer of avocado, and the last layer of tuna, again a touch of wasabi mustard for flavor. Finish with 2 orange segments and the micro cilantro. Place drops of wasabi mayonnaise around the tartar.

Pair with Landmark’s 2011 Lorenzo Chardonnay.

2011 Lorenzo Chardonnay

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What to give this year…

Top 3 Holiday Gifts
We pulled together our Top 3 Holiday Gifts for 2013.

1. Sip of Sonoma ($130)

  • 2011 Kiser Chardonnay – 91 pts Wine Enthusiast
  • 2011 Damaris Reserve Chardonnay  – 92 pts Wine Enthusiast
  • 2011 Heintz Chardonnay -91 pts Wine Enthusiast

2.  Cool Wine Breather  ($55)
This carafe aerates the wine accelerating the aroma experience and upgrading the taste sensation.  Also included is an integrated re-usable cooling stick which keeps your aerated chardonnay fresh and chilled.  Genius.

3.  From the Library 2006 Steel Plow Syrah in a Collector’s Wooden Box ($60)
This mind-blowing 94 point wine was on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2009. “Intense, distinctive, full-bodied and focused, this is so complex and well-proportioned that all the flavors work together seamlessly. Drink now through 2015,” Wine Spectator ( March 2009).

Visit our online shop to check out all our holiday gift offerings >>>

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Announcing the release of Overlook Pinot Noir


For over two decades, we have been producing the Overlook Chardonnay, a blend of the best vineyards in California from Sonoma, Santa Barbara, and Monterey Counties.  Now, we have created the perfect complement – Overlook Pinot Noir.  Following the same Negociant of California philosophy as our Overlook Chardonnay, we don’t rely on a single vineyard , but instead celebrate our personal relationships with quality-obsessed growers.   With balanced acidity, silky tannins, and rich aromas of wild strawberry, damson plum, and star anise, the Overlook Pinot Noir represents the best of the pinot noir vintage from Sonoma to the Central Coast.

The name Overlook is rooted in rich Americana history.   Landmark’s founder Damaris Deere Ford is the  great-great granddaughter of  John Deere, inventor of the steel plow.  In 1872 Overlook, the Deer family home and estate, was built in Moline, Mississippi and given its name because it overlooked downtown Moline, the Mississippi River, and the John Deere Plow Works.  For Landmark, the name has come to represent how our Overlook wines overlook the best of California’s chardonnay and pinot noir vintage.

The 2012 Overlook Pinot Noir is available exclusively at our online shop through the end of the year.  At $25 a bottle, this pinot noir is an exceptional value.

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Filed under Estate, General, Overlook, Pinot Noir, Uncategorized

2nd Annual Harvest Festival

Vineyard Manager Jeffrey Gould and Wineamker Greg Stach

Vineyard Manager Jeffrey Gould and Wineamker Greg Stach

Over 450 guests turned out for our annual Harvest Festival at Landmark.  Taking a break from their winemaking duties, Winemaker Greg Stach and our harvest interns made it out to celebrate with our guests.  The weather was sunny and warm, so guests really enjoyed the courtyard with its blooming flowers and live music by Adam Traum.  Pat Prather gave horse-drawn carriage rides through the vineyard.  The Bocce court was busy all afternoon!  The famed Rosso Pizzeria was serving up wood-fired pizza and a very popular Caprese Salad made from freshly harvest Patch tomatoes, house made mozzarella, basil, Del Monaco EVOO, and Cavedoni 7 year balsamic vinegar.   We were pouring our 2011 Damaris Reserve Chardonnay, 2011 Heintz Chardonnay, 2011 Grand Detour Pinot Noir, and 2011 Steel Plow Estate Grenache.  We can’t wait for next year!!  Cheers!

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A Taste of Syrah

Working at Landmark has its perks and some of those include tasting (& re-tasting) wines from our Library. This gives us the chance to “check-in” on the wines and see how they are currently drinking. We’re sticking with the Syrah theme and cracking open a few our Syrahs from the Kivelstadt Vineyard. Located on Bennett Valley Road in the Sonoma Valley AVA, this vineyard has been the source for the Landmark Steel Plow and Kivelstadt Vineyard designate Syrahs for more than a decade. We’ve found this vineyard to be an ideal location for creating a truly unique expression of Californian Syrah with great aging potential.

2003 Syrah
Aromas: Hoisin sauce and savory with leather notes along with mulled dark fruit
Flavors: Dark fruit flavors of sour plum with nutmeg and spice.
Structure: Medium bodied and it has definitely shed some weight over the years in the bottle, soft tannins.
I found it very surprising how in balance this wine is and it’s definitely in its “peak drinking window” right now.

2005 Syrah
Aromas: Meaty sausage and savory with leather notes but showing ripe dark currant as well.
Flavors: Sour red and black plum fruit flavors with very light pepper.
Structure: Medium bodied at most with light tannins.
This was the softest and lightest of the 3 library Syrahs and definitely a pleasant surprise with its drinkability. Also in its “peak drinking window” right now.

2007 Syrah
Aromas: Damp soil, leather, herbs de Provence, and violet flowers.
Flavors: Ripe dark fruit of red and black plum, black cherry, and cherry cola along with pepper and allspice.
Structure: Medium plus bodied with pronounced tannins.
The youngest of the three library Syrahs and definitely the most “showy” with plenty of fruit and tannins and on the palate. This is drinking like a young Syrah should but is only just entering its “peak window” and will probably be very drinkable for another 3 years.

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