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Mar 27

Written by: thecheeseimpresario
3/27/2006 6:00 PM

 

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My life was made more fun by a full-day visit with family artisanal vintner, Judd Finkelstein. Judd and his artistic family make dynamite small batch wines in Napa Valley under the name Judd’s Hill Winery.

Judd and his wife Holly are also Hawaiian music aficionados and have a group, The Maikai Gents featuring the Mysterious Miss Mauna Loa. I brought their CD to Hawaii with my family and we now know all the words and even have a few Hula steps of our own. This is why you will see the Ukulele in the photograph above.

Judd and I began our day with delicious deli food at Nate & Al’s in Beverly Hills. David Mendelson, owner of Nate & Al’s, came over and wanted to order wine from Judd as we had it on the table to talk about, unfortunately not to drink. I know David is in for a treat when he opens his first bottle.

I then met Judd in Pasadena at the Family Vintners Tasting. It was heartwarming to see so many family wine producers in one room. Seeing people who take pride in what they produce and to taste their wines was a blast.

I also had a blast serving some artisanal cheese at the Judd’s Hill Winery booth.

Rogue Creamery makes a smoked blue cheese in Oregon that’s cold smoked for 16 hours over hazelnut shells. Smoked cheese is not my favorite with wine but Rogue’s is an exception – it is really wine-friendly. I love this cheese with Judd’s Syrah. Fiscalini Farmstead Cheese Company from Modesto, California makes an 18-month-old bandage-wrapped cheddar that rivals the famous English cheddars with its own California twist. Judd’s Cabernet Sauvignon is a true pleasure with this award-winning cheese.

I had to watch my area very carefully as people were so enthused by the cheese they wanted to grab huge hunks of it. And, as many of you know, I believe in just having a little of artisanal cheese as it is so flavorful-all you need for satisfaction is “one little morsel.” Watch out Mr. Creosote!

It was my good fortune to hang out with Judd the entire day and watch as people at the tasting appreciated each sip of The Finkelstein’s liquid art.

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