The People of PlumpJack: Sandra Roberts

Welcome back to The People of PlumpJack, the series that introduces you to the people inside the PlumpJack community. Featured this week is Sandra Roberts, Director of Sales for PlumpJack Estate Winery, CADE Estate Winery and Odette Estate Winery. She has been with the PlumpJack team since 2011, overseeing all wholesale operations, as well as strategic planning for the three wineries. In her spare time, she pursues international adventures—everything from following the old Irish hunt trails on horseback to crossing the Dalmatian Coast by bike. At home in Napa, she enjoys gardening, LSU football, cooking, hiking and exploring the outdoors with her 150-pound puppy (and the official winery dog of Odette), Sophie.

Sandra on the wall in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Sandra on the wall in Dubrovnik, Croatia

1. What would your last meal be?
Burgers!  Grilled in my backyard surrounded by all of my friends and most of my family!  

2. What is the best advice you have ever received?
Be yourself, and be kind…you never know what others are going through or working on right now.

3. What is your top bucket list item?
Bali is next…but it’s a full bucket!

4. If you could travel back to any one point in time what would it be?
To have dinner with my dad.

5. If they made a film of your life what star would you like to play you?
I’m stumped! Seriously….hum – Julia Roberts

6. What is your personal mantra?
“What will you do with this one wild and precious life” – Mary Oliver

7. If today was the last day of your life, how would you spend it?
Living! And in the backyard referenced above for my last meal!

8. What is the last thing you googled?
The poet who’s quote I quoted!

“Wine Sales isn’t something done remotely, it’s a relationship business and requires a feet on the street approach to share our story, bring a sense our vineyards and our passion for winemaking to our customers. We take nothing and no one for granted.” – Sandra Roberts

The People of PlumpJack: Katie Snider

Featured this week on The People of PlumpJack is Katie Snider. She leads the charge on creative design for each of our individual businesses. Since joining PlumpJack in 2005, Katie has been involved in all facets of design, including print collateral, digital, logo development, signage and packaging. Originally from Kentucky, Katie went to school at Indiana University and moved out to San Francisco after college. She is passionate about music, and you can find her spending her free time at awesome concerts across the city.

10953288_10152671197083388_6765806116841876595_n1. What would your last meal be?
The best grilled cheese sandwich ever made. Or burrata with some tasty fresh bread & olive oil.

2. What is the best advice you have ever received?
”Keep smiling. It’s more fun that way” – Granddaddy Snider

3. What is your top bucket list item?
Backstage/VIP/All Access pass to Glastonbury. Oh, and Patagonia. Wanna hike in Patagonia fo sho.

4. If you could travel back to any one point in time what would it be?
Hell no. Let’s go to THE FUTURE!

5. If they made a film of your life what star would you like to play you? 
Duh. Why is this even a question?

6. What is your personal mantra? 
Laugh. A lot.

7. If today was the last day of your life, how would you spend it?
Flying all my friends & family to an abandoned island and throwing a music festival

8. What is the last thing you googled?
Modest Mouse new album release date

“Katie is great to work with! She is always happy and brings up the energy level in the office with her amazing sense of humor and jokes. Being on the creative team with her has helped me learn and grow my design skills.” – Tea Ribar, Marketing Specialist at the PlumpJack Group 

Fat Tuesday By PlumpJack Wine & Spirits

Fat Tuesday is coming to San Francisco, by PlumpJack Wine & Spirits. New Orleans boasts a rich cocktail history with a number of classic drinks that the Crescent City is famous for. Many are seeing a renaissance with new quality ingredients from the craft cocktail boom of the last decade. As Mardi Gras approaches, now is a great time to sip these cocktails and take a liquid vacation to NOLA and “laissez les bon temps rouler!” Join us for a Fat Tuesday celebration on Tuesday, February 17th from 6-9 PM at Matrix Fillmore to indulge in these richly storied cocktails and nosh on some classic Cajun snacks.

Most famous of the New Orleans cocktails is the Sazerac. Much like someone who imbibes a few Sazeracs, the drink’s history is a bit hazy. The story goes that it was made with Sazerac de Forge et Fils Cognac originally, and rye whiskey was substituted after the vine disease phylloxera destroyed European vineyards used to produce the brandy. New Orleans’s own Peychaud’s bitters contributes heady cherry and anise aromas to the drink while absinthe adds it’s herbaceous licoricey perfume. Some claim it’s America’s oldest cocktail but cocktail historian David Wondrich disputes that saying that the Sazerac as we know it today didn’t even exist in the middle of the 1800’s. What we do know is that a well-made Sazerac is undoubtedly delicious. Here’s our recipe:

2 oz Rye Whiskey
.50 oz Simple Syrup
3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
dash of Absinthe
Garnish: Lemon Twist
Add rye, simple syrup, and bitters to a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.
Strain into an absinthe rinsed glass and add garnish.

The Ramos Gin Fizz is another NOLA classic and perhaps deserves more credit than its more popular comrade the Sazerac. Henry C. Ramos, inventor of the Ramos Gin Fizz, was a celebrated native New Orleanian, a well-loved fellow, and was famous for his creation at the time. The drink is a textural delight and a pleasure to drink when vigorously shaken within an inch of its life. Here’s our recipe:

Ramos Gin Fizz
2 oz Gin
.50 oz Heavy Cream
.50 oz Lemon Juice
.50 oz Lime Juice
.50 oz Simple Syrup
1 egg white
3-4 drops Orange Flower Water
1 oz Soda Water (for topping)

In a large cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients (except soda water)  Shake vigorously without ice for 30 seconds. Add ice and shake for another 30 seconds. Strain into a tall glass filled with ice and top with soda water. Add a orange slice or orange twist for garnish.

Look no further than Bourbon St. to see dozens and dozens of abominations of the Hurricane cocktail. What today is typically a boozy slushy in a plastic cup, the drink has a much more vibrant history. A relative of the Daiquiri, the classic Hurricane is a concoction of rum, passion fruit syrup, and fresh lemon juice. It was created by tavern owner Pat O’Brien in the 1940’s to help him get rid of all of the less popular rum that local distributors forced him to purchase before he was allowed to buy more novel spirits like bourbon or scotch.

The drink was served in hurricane lamp-shaped glasses and caught on as a French Quarter classic. We asked friends at one of our favorite local distilleries, Charbay, to help craft a modern take on the Hurricane. Johnny Marrs created this take on a particularly windy day on Spring Mountain in Napa:

Charbay “Spring Mountain” Hurricane
.50 oz Charbay Tahitian Vanilla Rum
.50 oz Charbay Raspberry Vodka
1 oz Caña
Brava Rum
.25 oz Passion Fruit Syrup from The Perfect Puree Napa Valley
2 oz Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice

Combine ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously and pour over ice in a rocks or collins glass. Float .50 oz Charbay Pomegranate Dessert Wine on top. And Add a orange peel and cherry for garnish.

You don’t want to miss this great event, brought to you by PlumpJack Wine & Spirits! Its your chance to get a taste of NOLA in San Francisco. For more information on the event go here.

Top Five Beer Bars for Beer Week

Since it’s SF Beer Week, DJ from our PlumpJack Wine & Spirits Noe Valley team has comprised a list of some of his personal favorite places beer bars in San Francisco.

The places I have chosen each share a passion for providing quality beers and passion for all things beer. Many of these places are crowded each and every day because of the level of service that they provide. Below are my top five places to enjoy a cold glass of sudsy goodness.

Beer Bars of San Francisco: The Opening Act
Mikkeller Bar
34 Mason Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

One of the first American spots to find the popular Denmark beer Mikkeller, this beer bar boasts 42 tapped varieties of both local and European beers. The modern look and feel is surpassed by the timeless beer selection and the food pairings that go along with it, ranging from beer braised sausages and a charcuterie selection that is straight out of the European countryside. Mikkeller is serious with the way they handle and present their beers; each beer is categorized by which temperature it will be served at. Overall this venue is a great place to get a true European beer experience and a fantastic environment to enjoy new and old styles of beer.

Beer Bars of San Francisco: Part Deux
Tornado Pub
547 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117

This San Francisco classic is a true gritty beer bar.  From the dark setting to the Giants game being played on T.V. this dive is filled with a great sense of local pride.  Not only does Tornado Pub celebrate the great local sport scene but they also provide their customers with a great selection of local beers amongst many others from all over the world. If you are going to order make sure you know what you want before one of the bartenders gives you a look. They will not shy from making you feel bad if you are not prepared. It’s an old school beer bar with a great beer drinking vibe. Note: One of the few places to serve Pliny the Younger on tap.

Beer Bars of San Francisco: Thrice is Nice
Pi Bar
1432 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

What this bar lacks in street side advertising, it TOTALLY redeems itself with a marvelous portrayal of true craft beer.  Pi Bar is the place to go and enjoy a craft beer and some truly delicious pizza. This is not a fancy bar that has a uptight attitude, plain and simple you go to this bar to sit down and enjoy a pint with a friendly knowledgeable staff. They have options on draft as well as an extensive bottle collection that includes some of Russian River Brewery’s finest. If you have a question about a style of beer you have never had, the staff will not hesitate to pour you a sample and let you try it before you buy it. Plus, you can’t go wrong with a bar that has a weekly special everyday from when they open at 3:14 pm to 6:28 pm for a pint and a slice of cheese pizza for under seven bucks.

Beer Bars of San Francisco:  May the Fourth be with You
Monk’s Kettle
3141 16th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

To say that beer is only 25% of the focus at Monk’s Kettle would be a bold faced lie; Monks Kettle is a pure brew pub and they showcase their love for the fine bubbly elixir by offering a rotating menu of roughly 200 beers. This upscale neighborhood gastropub specializes in Belgian beer, yet has many other styles to offer. With their newly added outdoor seating you now have the option to enjoy your cold glass of beer while baking in San Francisco’s “warm” sunny days. This knowledgable staff will guide you through their extensive beer list if you have any questions or are looking for a particular style.

Beer Bars of San Francisco: Strive for Five
Magnolia Pub & Brewery
1398 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117

Sausages and Beer! Whoever doesn’t enjoy eating a tasty pork sausage while sipping on some fine suds has to be crazy, Magnolia Pub & Brewery marries these two gifts to mankind together in a perfect way. With a rotating menu of beers and seasonal eats this pub does a great job at offering a great compliment to some truly delicious local and international beers. Upon entering this gritty San Francisco Pub you experience a feeling very similar to a brew house in Bavaria, the aroma of all things beer permeates the air and you are left with a smile upon your face (If you enjoy that sort of thing). Keep an eye out for any tap handle marked with a star for a great deal, stars indicate a four-dollar pint. If you find yourself on the corner of Masonic and Haight be sure to stop by and enjoy some delightful beers and pub grub.

Love beer? Join our Beer Club 

The People of PlumpJack: Debbie Brown

Debbie Brown

Featured this week on The People of PlumpJack, is General Manager of PlumpJack Wine & Spirits, Debbie Brown. She has been with the Fillmore wine store for 15 years. On her free time Debbie enjoys going to the beach, spending time with her cats and participating in a fantasy football league. Debbie’s favorite part of the job is interacting with customers and getting to know new people.

1. What would your last meal be?
Braised Short ribs, mashed potatoes, and Caesar salad or a cheese burger from Nopa with their fabulous fries.

2.What is the best advice you have ever received?
Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver.

3.What is your top bucket list item?
African Safari

4. If you could travel back to any one point in time what would it be?
1920’s–the flappers were fabulous–loved the clothes and hair styles

5.If they made a film of your life what star would you like to play you?
Jennifer Aniston

6.What is your personal mantra?
Things happen for a reason, and everything has a way of working out for the best.  I will survive!

7. If today was the last day of your life, how would you spend it?
Eating a burrito at the beach watching the ocean.

8.What is the last thing you googled?
Information about phosphorus and protein in cat food

 “Debbie has admirable determination in tackling projects. She can overcome obstacles that would waylay most others, and come out shinning on the other side. Her baking talents have touched many, and she shares her warmth and caring with everyone she comes in contact with.”

-Paul Birman, Wine & Spirits buyer at PlumpJack Wine & Spirits in the Marina.

The People of PlumpJack: Chef Ben “Wyatt” Dufresne

Get to know the People of PlumpJack! This week get a behind the scenes look at, Executive Chef of PlumpJack Cafe at the PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn, Wyatt Dufresne. Originally from New York, Chef Wyatt started in PlumpJack Cafe‘s pantry in 2002. He worked his way to sous chef, left and came back in 2010 as the executive chef for 5 years, this March. Dufresne’s cuisine draws off his love for sustainable, organic, and seasonal ingredients as well as his educational background in science. His knowledge of how things grow, the anatomy of animals and fish, and the environmental impact of sourcing sustainable products has great influence on his menu selections. Here is more to know about Chef Wyatt.

1. What would your last meal be?
My last meal would be my Mother’s mac and cheese.  I used to help her make the pasta from scratch when I was a kid and I’m sure it helped to influence where I am today.  I have her make it for me every time I visit home!

2. What is the best advice you have ever received?
One of the most influential Chefs I’ve worked for (Larry Dunning at PlumpJack and West Shore Cafe) said, “Pay attention to the small things and you’ll be successful,” on our last day working together.

3. What is your top bucket list item?
Travel the world.

4. If you could travel back to any one point in time what would it be?
The 60’s and 70’s.  It just seems like people were creating a lot of changes in the world while having tons of fun:)

5. If they made a film of your life what star would you like to play you?
Daniel Day Lewis with his “Gangs of New York” mustache.

6. What is your personal mantra?
No regrets!

7. If today was the last day of your life, how would you spend it?
With my wife, family and friends eating awesome food and drinking great wine.  I would never forget our dog, Winter, either!

8. What was the last thing you searched for on google?
“Mignonette,” because I wanted to make sure the spelling was correct on the menu I just wrote.

 “My favorite dish Wyatt has made is, Cervena Venison Cheek: Black Winter Truffles, Asian Pear, Five Spiced Butternut Squash – to me this dish encompassed it all – rustic, but elegant, simple yet refined.  I can still taste everything in my mind – great dish.”

 “Wyatt’s best characteristic in my mind is he’ll always rise to the challenge and do what it takes to get the job done.”  

“My favorite memory with Wyatt was watching him win the 2014 Blazing Pans competition at the Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival this past September.”

-Steve Lamb, General Manager at PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn

PlumpJack’s Top 10 Resolutions for You

Is it difficult for you to keep New Years Resolutions every year? You’re not alone! A new year offers another opportunity to improve your life in the upcoming year. And at PlumpJack we’re here to help! Here is PlumpJack’s top 10 resolutions for you, with ways you can ensure that this year you better yourself, take time to enjoy life and have some fun.

1. Get active by doing something you enjoyed as a kid – skiing, dancing, ice skating, riding your bike, swimming, etc…We can help you fulfill this resolution at PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn or The Carneros Inn.

2. Be more adventurous – try backcountry skiing, moonlit snowshoe hikes, dog sledding, yoga in the vineyards. Book PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn’s Snowcat Fever Package for a backcountry ski adventure.

3. Impress your friends with some new cocktails. Join our Cocktail Club and come to our Cocktail Club Mixer, January 20th. Join the Club.

4. Eat more brunch…at the Boon Fly Café, Balboa Cafe San Francisco or Balboa Cafe Mill Valley.

5. Let off some steam with a night out on the dance floor – Check out our line-up of DJs at MatrixFillmore.

6. Drink more of the good stuff (wine) on a random night, instead of waiting for a special occasion. PlumpJack, Odette and Cade wines all came in with impressive scores of their ’12 vintages (Odette Estate Reserve at 100) from Robert Parker, READ MORE
7. Plan a celebration, whether for yourself or someone else – it doesn’t have to be a special occasion, just a day or night of fun, friends, libations and good food. Check out PlumpJack Catering for your event.

8. Eat fresh from the garden – FARM at the Carneros Inn sources produce from their onsite gardens  and PlumpJack Cafe sources from two, small local farms nearby.

9. Volunteer, donate, and support the causes you believe in – PlumpJack is proud to support CPIC  (Cancer Prevention Institute of California), Holy Family Day Home, San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center and more. Learn more about PlumpJack Philanthropy.


10. Breathe deeply and take it all in, it’s a new year! Cheers from your friends at PlumpJack. And good luck at accomplishing your new year resolutions.

Follow PlumpJack

Conversations with Hilary: Bill Newsom

I am so deeply honored to feature one of my favorite people in the world, my dad, Bill Newsom. A retired Judge with a 20 year tenure, three years on the superior court and 17 on the California Court of Appeals. He has been a leader in the environmental movement for more than 40 years, both locally and nationally. His passions are the wilderness, wildlife and water issues. Through his devotion he has made an impact on the environment in Alaska, California and beyond.

My father founded the Mountain Lion Foundation in the 1970’s, establishing protection for the California Mountain Lion. For 12 years he was a trustee for the Environmental Defense Fund and currently serves as a trustee for Earth Justice – America’s premier environmental law firm. He continues his advocacy for the environment as a grant maker, funding environmental campaigns throughout the west. My childhood memories are filled with accompanying him to many philanthropic events to help raise money and awareness for his causes. His passion to make a difference in the world, inspired me to become a philanthropist and my brother, Gavin, a dedicated public servant.

My father has always had a deep interest for English literature. He taught English at Stanford University and has an impressive book collection. But most of all, my father is witty and kind and he is the most wonderful father and grandfather anyone could have ever dreamt of. I hope you enjoy my Conversations with my father as much as I enjoy my personal conversations with him daily.

1. What do you believe to be your greatest accomplishment?
My family

2. Do you have a prized possession?
Book collection

3. What qualities do you think others love about you?
Sense of humor

4. What do you like most about what you do for a living/career?
That I don’t do it anymore!

5. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Stretching to help walking

6. What’s your favorite thing to do on a Friday night?
Crawl up and back to the local pub for drinks and dinner

7. What were you passionate about in your younger years growing up?
Birds and animals

8. What are you passionate about now?
Birds and animals

9. What’s your favorite season and why?
Winter because I enjoy cold, gloomy weather

10. If you were stuck on a deserted island, what three items would you want to have with you?
“A Life of Dr. Johnson” by Boswell, and 2 extra copies in case the first 2 get wet

11. If you were a cocktail or a drink what would it be?
Old Fashioned

12. What’s the #1 most played song on your iPod?
N/A since I don’t own an iPod

13. If you could have lunch with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
Max Beerbohm and Norman Douglas

14. If your life was made into a movie, what would it be called?
Tarzan of the Apes:  A Sequel


15. Do you have any regrets?
As Edith Piaf said in her famous song, “je ne regrette rien” (I regret nothing)

16. Define Freedom.
Being left alone

17. What are your personal core values?
Never betray your family and friends, betraying your country on occasion may be alright.  Eschew patriotism at all costs since it is the last refuge of a scoundrel

Five Ways to Host a Festive New Years Eve Bash

Get the streamers and noisemakers ready because it’s just about time to ring in the New Year! If you’re hosting a New Year’s Eve bash make it fun, get creative and welcome 2015 in style. From the delicious drinks to the festive entertainment, use these tips to keep your guests having a great time. From the moment they show up until the ball drops. 

1. Champagne
New Year’s Eve is all about the bubbly. Stop by both PlumpJack Wine & Spirits locations for a wide selection of champagnes. The PlumpJack Wine & Spirits team can help you pick out the perfect bottle of bubbly to impress your guests. Our Champagne Club features our favorite bottles, ranging from tête de cuvées to some of the best farmer fizz we can find.

Wine & Spirits buyer, Paul Birman has been with PlumpJack Wine & Spirits for 19 years. Here are Paul’s picks of champagnes he believes are fitting for celebrating the New Year. All available at our Fillmore Wine Store.

Paul’s Picks
1. Billecart – Salmon Brut Réserve
2. Bollinger Brut Champagne Special Cuvee
3. Louis Roederer Brut Premier’
4. Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label
5. Billecart -Salmon Brut Rosé 





Click here to watch this simple raisin trick, on how to revive a bottle of Champagne that’s gone flat. And use this guide to easily pick out the perfect champagne.

2. Festive Decor
Create a festive atmosphere with decorations that will get your guests in the spirit. When it comes to New Year’s, the more sparkle and pop the better. We love these DIY Confetti Wands from The Haunted Interior. For a creative twist on the countdown, number your champagne flutes for a countdown toast. Have each person yell out their number when it’s time, and then drink to the New Year!









3. Food
Keep it to the small bites. Let guests nosh on hearty apps throughout the night. Check out our Pinterest board, Small Bites for delicious appetizers to keep your guests going until the clock strikes midnight.

Crab Cake Poppers with Spicy Aioli

Crab Cake Poppers with Aioli

Mushroom Tartlets

Mushroom Tartlets








4. Entertain
Keep your guests entertained! Get out the playing cards – like these that feature New Year’s resolutions – turn into a fun guessing game. Gather the cards, read them aloud randomly, then let everyone determine who wrote what. Download the playing cards here.

Set up a jaw-dropping backdrop for the perfect photo booth. Take a look at this chic backdrop from Style Me Pretty. You and your friends can take pictures throughout the night! Have a Polaroid camera ready and your guests can take home their photos as a souvenir.









Don’t let your guests leave the party empty handed. As a favor create fun care packages for New Year’s Day. Fill them with ibuprofen, Alka-Seltzer, vitamin C and maybe some baked goods..

5. Sweet Treats
We save the best for last! Any good party has delicious desserts to help round out the night. Strawberries pair well with champagne, dress up your chocolate covered strawberries with some glitter. If you want to wow your guests even more and keep them going, consider an espresso soaked Tiramisu.








Celebrate the first day of 2015 the right way, with Balboa Cafe San Francisco. Brunch will be served from 10am until 3pm! Enjoy a delicious meal from our special New Year’s Day Brunch menu and pair it with our famous Bloody Mary, for the perfect kick off to 2015!

If you’re someone who loves hosting but without the fuss of planning, try PlumpJack Catering.

#ToastTheSnow with Veuve Clicquot in the Snow








Join us at PlumpJack Squaw Valley as we raise a glass and toast all of the new snow this winter season with Clicquot In the Snow, featuring Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label and Rosè NV. The Veuve team will be there to play snow games with guests, while a DJ spins on the patio in the snow;  plus, champagne specials, photo booth fun, giveaways of Veuve Clicquot items and more.The Clicquot In the Snow event kick-off party is December 20th from 2-5pm, and the series continues every third Saturday during January, February and March. Click HERE for details.

Instagrammers have an opportunity to win a one-night stay at PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn  when you follow @pjsquawvalleyinn #Toastthesnow and #ClicquotInTheSnow. We’ll feature our favorites on social media and pick a winner in mid-January. This is just the first of four opportunities to win; the contest will run each month with more chances to win great prizes from Veuve Clicquot. Make sure to join us at the Inn for some bubbly and fun in the snow.

How to enter:
1. Follow @pjsquawvalleyinn on Instagram
2. Tag your photos #toastthesnow #clicquotinthesnow
3. Winner chosen January 15th