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  • Writer's pictureLoralyn Mears, PhD

Wine Down and Chill Unlocks the Gate

This article was originally published on August 28, 2020 at

The world is still struggling and the US has just had another tough week so all of us behind wine down and chill are trying to help you through it by doing our part via something fun to read versus more distressing news. Most of you are doing virtual wine tastings because you are interested in learning about different wines so that you can get down to drinking it! Got it.

Theme: at the entrance of the gate

The idea behind today’s theme is to look beyond the gate, to try something new with a goal of unlocking a new interest, a new wine to wine down and chill with. Or, perhaps you’ll unlock a new bit of knowledge.

“Still round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate.” ~J.R.R. Tolkien

Listen: at the Gate

If you’ve embraced pumpkin latte season then you’re probably getting into the mood for chilly weather and horror flicks. There are plenty of scary B movies titled, ‘something Gate’ and the accompanying soundtracks may be the perfect backdrop to your wine down and chill evening. Or, you may prefer listening to John Mellencamp’s “Golden Gates” or Carly Simon’s “Waiting at the Gate” which are more in tune with our theme featuring the wines of Ram’s Gate nestled in the foothills of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Learn: a perfect food and wine pairing

As the third part of our Women in Wine series, Grit Daily caught up with Taylr Behnam Cuneo who is the winery’s managing director. Her responsibilities span managing the winery’s operations, culinary offering and hospitality. Cuneo was one of the first people to join the Ram’s Gate team back in 2011 when she was hired as a Sous Chef but quickly rose to become the Executive Chef. That marked the foundation for their now renowned culinary program.

Grit Daily: Ram’s Gate has quite the reputation for food and wine pairings which you created the foundation for. Tell us a little about that.

Taylr Behnam Cuneo: Over time, we’ve built deep relationships with local growers so that we can bring a unique and constantly changing farm-to-table food and wine experience to our guests.

GD: Share with us how your innovative bottle membership has enabled you to grow your distribution.

TC: Most wineries offer a membership based on a half-case or full-case of wine, typically shipped quarterly, sometimes monthly, at a discounted subscriber’s rate. We started the Two Bottle Club membership and it’s allowed people to embrace our wines. The price point is affordable, it ships every other month with stories about the wine so it offers a consumption frequency of one bottle per month which is easily achieved. Our members get exposed to our wines slowly but steadily without a large investment or commitment. If they like a wine, they can order more of it.

GD: What do you think is behind Ram’s Gate tremendous – and rapid – success?

TC: We’re a lifestyle brand offering more than good wine. Our hospitality, our sense of place, impeccable service, in-depth food and wine pairings that go far beyond the standard cheese and charcuterie plates. Our location at about 30-minutes outside of San Francisco is ideal as we’re the first winery that guests will encounter as we’re at the gateway to wine country.

GD: Ram’s Gate has a commitment to the environment, tell us more.

TC: We already have a sustainable certification which minimizes and reuses food scraps to minimize waste. Plus, we’re on our way to organic farming certification. Everything that we do is done with intention.

GD: What goes into a food and wine pairing?

TC: We begin with an analysis of the texture of the wine so that we can pair it with the right food. Our process of selecting a pairing involves an in-depth tasting experience that is carefully thought through.

GD: Any advice for women interested in a career in wine?

TC: You have to be passionate about hospitality and customer service and you have to be willing to put in the work. It’s tough but the wine industry is a great place for women, the sky’s the limit.

Wine: Ram’s Gate 2019 Sauvignon Blanc

Ram’s Gate Winery can be found tucked into the hillside where Napa and Sonoma counties meet. “A special site where the estate vineyard is uniquely positioned – the Sonoma Valley ends on the south-side of the vineyard, the Sonoma Coast on the east, and Carneros on the west, makes it the compass rose of Sonoma and the gateway to Wine Country.” Careful farming, full-circle engagement in hospitality and culinary excellence along with thoughtful winemaking are the ethos of the brand which is coming up on its tenth anniversary.

Their 2019 Sauvignon Blanc Ram’s Gate Estate wine is priced at $38 making it one of the most accessible wines in their portfolio. The wine is aged five months in total and rotated through steel, French Oak and barrels composed of other woods. This layers the flavors and balances some of the acidity. Honeysuckle is the unmistakable flavor note that your nose will detect first.

Dine: Sand Dabs

The restaurants at Golden Gate Bridge commonly serve seafood and delicacies such as abalone (sea snails), Dungeness Crab and shrimp but the Sand Dab is a standout. This tiny flounder is often served breaded in Panko crumbs, baked, topped with capers, seasoned with lemons and served alongside a crusty sourdough French stick bread. Add avocado seasoned with Old Bay spice and you’ll have yourself an easy, reasonably healthy and tasty wine down and chill dinner, paired perfectly with today’s wine selection.

Watch: Enemy at the Gates

This war-time thriller, “Enemy at the Gates,” which is approaching its 20th anniversary, is worth re-watching given how it echoes political themes present today. The acting is superb with a memorable cast assembled including Jude Law, Ed Harris and Joseph Fiennes. It’s a game of cat and mouse, espionage and a battle of wills as two snipers, one from Germany, the other from Russia, pursue each other in earnest, battling to stay alive long enough to kill each other.

You can wine down and chill all week long

If this week’s theme didn’t float your boat or fill up your glass to wine down and chill, no worries. We’ll continue to offer affordable suggestions for music, wine, dinner and movies with a different wine down and chill theme each week. You can also follow me on Instagram for wine art and photography @WineDownAndChill. We’re here to help you sit back, wine down and chill. If you missed an article, fret not! You can find every article here.

If you like podcasts, well, wouldn’t you know, we’ve got those, too! Three of them, in fact: 1) Like a Boss with snappy insights; 2) wine down and chill; and 3) Monday motivation. All three are available on all streaming channels including Apple, iHeart Radio, Spotify and more. Tune in!

It’s the weekend. Time to wine down and chill. Cheers!

Images supplied by T. Cuneo.





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