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Fruits of the Vine - TheRagens Wine Home Page

Over the last 5-10 years, we have found that we increasingly enjoy fine wine. We find that we enjoy fine wines with meals, much as my grandparents enjoyed a glass of wine with dinner. (They each reached 98 years of age; perhaps it helped?). And, we like wine with cheese or just to drink as an aperitif.

But our interest is not only derived from our tastebuds -- we also are intrigued by the rich history and culture associated with wine and the production of wine. What is it about wine that gets so many otherwise sane people to go 'round the bend to find that one special wine, hopefully that no one else knows about? We don't know but we're hooked too. We even planted our own backyard vineyard which we have named Sunbreak Cellars.

So, to learn more, within the last year or so, we've started a wine tasting group with a number of good friends. This has been a good excuse to throw a wine tasting party but it is also a chance to open up our tasting horizons; we've even used the wine tasting wheel to open up our adjectives. We've written up our notes from these periodic tasting events as a way of sharing between ourselves. We only hold these tastings every 2-4 months but we do try to get a fairly wide variety of wines to try. Who knows? Some of our tasting events may give you some ideas for a wine tasting party -- for example, we've included our blank scoresheets for reference.

bullet Anything with Sangiovese - June, 2004. After two parties that were hard to score, we brought this one back home with a tasting of any wine made with Sangiovese. Ten wines and a surprise favorite!
bullet Red Wines of Washington State - March 2003. We brought our palates back home as we zeroed in on the red wines of our home state. We had some surprises in this tasting...
bullet South American Red Wines - November 2002. Tasting a new frontier for most of us, we worked through eight different bottles of wines from Argentina and Chile.
bullet California cabernet maturity tasting - June 2002. Seven pairs of wines (one mature and one new) were tasted to see if we could successfully tell which were older and which were the younger wines of each pair.
bullet Mature California Cabernet - April 2002. Six bottles of cabernet from the 1989 vintage and older.
bullet Red Wines of Piedmont - January 2002. Seven bottles of Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera and Dolcetto gave us a diverse taste test to try to identify the variety.
bullet Southern Rhone - October 2001. Eight different wines at one wine tasting party was a great way to start our new tasting group.
bulletDuckhorn - July 2000. We "discovered" Duckhorn merlot in 1986 when we lived in San Francisco - and when it was scarce to come by.  At this dinner, we opened a dozen bottles from the 1980s with friends.

Click here to give us some ideas!


Favorite Wineries and Wine Stores

Through the years, we have come across a number of wineries (some well-known and others still obscure) that have joined our list of favorites. Many wines that we have in our cellar serve as  memories of either a memorable occasion or simply of our vineyard visits. Read on to find out some background on the wines that we enjoy or just jump straight to our favorite winery list. We have also recently posted a list of kosher wines -- not the sticky sweet kind but real wine -- that people may enjoy.

Fortunately, we have found a number of good wine resources on the Internet that we rely on and would like to recommend. These are good sites -- both as a way to obtain information and advice as well as to purchase wines. (aka eVineyard) is a quickly growing provider of wines via the Internet. In addition to a broad selection (over 5,000 wines) of wines, a nice feature that they offer is the ability for site visitors to provide their own comments on the wines that they have tasted. View some of our personal selections here.

K&L Wine Merchants is one of our favorite wine sites on the Internet; it's different from in that it is backed by a traditional bricks and mortar business. If you're interested in Bordeaux futures, you can order them here. K&L offers good prices and good advice on wines, based on their own on-site tastings. Our experience with K&L so far. is an auction site that runs twice-monthly auctions of classic wines on the web. By its nature, availability of any wine varies but this is an excellent site to check out when you're looking for a special bottle of wine. This is also an interesting place to see which wines are currently hot -- or not.

The Wine Enthusiast is a great source of glassware, serving and preservation systems, in addition to self-contained wine cellars and other wine storage options. If you're not sure what you need or would like to give as a gift, the company has a list of 'Recommended' items that cover a wide range of needs. Some of the items that we've purchased for our own use include:


Wine Appreciation and Winemaking Book Lists

Although nothing can replace actually tasting wines to figure out what you like, books often provide an interesting perspective and can give you the courage and curiosity to try something new. We have compiled three separate book lists

bulletOur newest booklist features the award winning wine books as selected by the James Beard Foundation.
bullet The second booklist includes books on wine appreciation, history of winemaking, geographic tours of wine regions, or other similar books.
bulletThe third booklist includes books on grape growing, vineyard management, and winemaking processes.
bullet The fourth booklist lists the wine books recommended by Decanter Magazine since 2000.

These lists have helped improve our understanding and appreciation of wine. Here is a brief list of some of the books on wine that we recommend. If you'd like more details on what we liked in these books that separated them from the crowd, then read our personal reviews on the pages above or click on the titles below to go to

bulletThe Wall Street Journal Guide to Wine: New and Improved; John Brecher, Dorothy J. Gaiter. Highly, highly recommended.
bulletNew Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia; Tom Stevenson. Hardcover
bulletThe Oxford Companion to Wine; Jancis Robinson (Editor), et al.
bullet Oz Clarke's Pocket Wine Guide 2003; Oz Clarke
bulletConnoisseurs' Handbook of the Wines of California and the Pacific Northwest; Norman S. Roby, Charles E. Olken.


Other Interesting Wine-Related Web Sites

bulletParker versus Prial: The Death of the Vintage Chart


Wine Enthusiast - Ultimate wine accessories site! The Wine Enthusiast is a great source of glassware, serving and preservation systems, in addition to self-contained wine cellars and other wine storage options. If you're not sure what you need, the company offers a list of 'Recommended' items that cover a wide range of needs through their home page.

Wine glasses, decanters and more: Many choices are available including Riedel and Spiegelau crystal stemware and decanters. Plus, there are many products to clean and care for your glassware.   


Serving and preserve your wine, from the most elegant decanters to chillers, coasters, drip savers and more. When we want wine by the glass (when we don't think we'll finish a bottle), we use the WineKeeper which automatically fills the bottle with nitrogen to preserve the wine.
Corkscrews Corkscrews and cork pullers are essential tools. Wine Enthusiast has a wide variety of devices including the traditional Laguiole corkscrew to the smooth Rabbit Corkscrew leverpull types. Storing your wine doesn't have to be difficult. Wine Enthusiast offers everything from free standing wine cellars to wine racks and cooling systems that can be installed in a closet or a corner of the basement.   
Finally, for great deals, don't forget to check out the clearance items and the Wine Cellar Outlet Store areas.


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