Moments in 2019 to Remember

Sonoma County Wine Auction

On September 21st, we helped raise $6.1 million at the Sonoma County Wine Auction, which benefits the Sonoma County non-profit community! This was the first live auction time Senses participated in and we are so proud it was in our backyard. This world class lot sold for $100,000.

Lot included:
• Private Red Label air transportation for 2 couples to and from Aspen 
• 3-night stay for 2 couples at The Little Nell 
• 2 VIP passes to the St. Regis Snow Polo Championship games and events 
• Dinner at Barndiva in Healdsburg hosted by Senses Wines for 2 couples
• 14 large format bottle collection of Senses Wines including a 3L Pinot noir

Silver Eagle Vineyard

Working with exceptional vineyard sites is everything to us. It’s also why our production is limited, we won’t simply buy more fruit to make more wine unless it really is a world-class site and farmed by phenomenal people. Ulises Valdez was an incredible friend to Senses and we count ourselves lucky to farm our estates with his family. His home-site, Silver Eagle is the crown jewel in the Valdez portfolio. Ulises spoke enthusiastically of the Montrachet clone to founders Christopher and Max multiple times and it was clear that one day we’d just have to work with it. Well, that day came a lot sooner than expected and we proudly added it to our production in 2019.

Vintners’ Night at The Ahwahnee; December 1-3, 2019

We started the Christmas in one of the most magical places in the world: Yosemite National Park. The Ahwahnee, located in the heart of Yosemite Valley, holds a special place in Christopher and Myles’ hearts thanks to their family vacations their nearly every year of their lives. To be honored guests for a Vintners’ Holiday session was a dream come true. We joined our friends, Dan Goldfield [Dutton-Goldfield], Geneviéve Janssens [Robert Mondavi Winery], and Ricardo and Elizabeth Valdez [Valdez Family Wines] for three days of “Meet the Vintners” seminars and a fabulous 5-course Gala Dinner. They were proudly joined by four generations of their combined families and they all look to make this a new annual tradition. And to top it all off,  we are honored to see our 2017 Charles Heintz Chardonnay now featured on The Ahwahnees dining room menu!

Cheers to 2020 and new adventures!

Is Summer really almost over? You must be pulling my leg (of lamb).

Summer is almost over and if you’re anything like me you’ve been squeezing in all the barbecuing you can while the weather is still warm. And also pairing pinot noir with every meal except breakfast. Brunch doesn’t count. But what can you barbecue that pairs well with (hopefully Senses) pinot noir?

Before I go any further I want to say my philosophy is that there is no such thing as a “right” or “wrong” way to drink wine. Drink it with taco bell if that’s what does it for you and don’t let anyone shame you for it. But, if you have those bougie friends or maybe disapproving in-laws who think their son or daughter could have done a little better, this will surely win them over.

As for what kind of barbecue, as a general rule sweet is out. That means you’ll probably want to avoid baby back ribs or drumsticks drowning in barbecue sauce. Instead go for something that stands up better on its own without heavy sauces. My personal favorite is a recipe my mother taught me for leg of lamb with garlic and rosemary and my pick for a pinot to drink with this meal is the Terra De Promissio pinot noir. It has the perfect balance of bold cherry fruit character while maintaining enough backbone to stand up to the meat plus a mild earthiness that pairs nicely with the rosemary.

What you will need:

  • Leg of lamb (size up to you)
  • Olive oil (enough to coat the lamb in a sealable plastic bag)
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 5(ish) cloves of garlic roughly chopped (adjust to your taste)
  • A few hearty sprigs of rosemary
  • A beer
  • A meat thermometer

To get started mix the olive oil, white wine and garlic together and then pour it over your lamb which you’ve put into a resealable plastic bag. Allow it to marinate in the fridge overnight.

After marinating pull the lamb out of the bag, pat it dry and let it to sit for about an hour to come to room temperature. Then put half of your grill burners on high. I’m talking the highest setting possible. Play the desert crossing scene from Lawrence of Arabia in the background to encourage extra heat. I know I said there is no wrong way to drink wine, but there is a wrong way to grill lamb and anything other than maximum heat is it.

Sear the lamb for a couple of minutes on each side. What we’re trying to do is get a good crust going. It may flare up, that’s okay. There may be some smoke, maybe even some tears from those watching fearing for the safety of their meal. That’s also okay. Remain calm. The lamb may even catch fire. That’s not okay. Remember the beer? Of course you do, and I bet now you’re wondering why I included it earlier. Well, it’s for drinking and fires. Open it and take a swig. And use the beer to douse any part of the lamb that may catch on fire.

Once you’ve seared the outside of the lamb move it over to the other half of your grill that is off and close the lid, allowing the lamb to cook through indirect heating. Test the thickest part of the lamb with the meat thermometer and pull it when it reads 130 degrees. Allow it to sit before carving for about 10 minutes, it will continue to cook after you pull it from the grill and should read 140 when you serve it.

Carve this masterpiece of perfectly-crusted, pink-in-the-middle meat and throw it down triumphantly in front of your dinner guests. Dare them to criticize you while maintaining eye-contact. Keep the carving knife in your hand for added effect. Oh, and enjoy the (hopefully Senses!) pinot noir alongside!

– Myles

The Origin Story of Rebuild Wine Country

The intensity of the north bay fires was numbing the morning of October 9th. Accurate news was scarce and hard to come by, our family and friends were on high-alert for evacuation, some escaping their homes 20 minutes before they burnt to the ground with just the clothes on their backs, and countless others were disrupted – the place we call home was under attack.

Our team had been in constant contact with one another, as well as with our friends and family to make sure everyone in the extended Senses community was safe. But we wanted to do more. We couldn’t sit still.

Inspired by the community’s response and countless offers to help, the team at Senses – including our Co-Founders Chris Strieter, Max Thieriot and Myles Lawrence-Briggs, and General Manager Chelsea Boss – launched Rebuild Wine Country: a crowdfunding effort in collaboration with local Habitat for Humanity affiliates to help those who need it most rebuild their homes.

We knew that the recovery would be long-term and that raising awareness and funds for rebuilding would be instrumental to those efforts. We also knew that this is a digital age and wanted to maximize the reach of our campaign so we began to look into fundraising efforts the next day.

It took about two days to figure out how to execute a clean campaign that was tax-deductible, without fees and unnecessary admin costs. We also wanted to help all of wine country, Sonoma, Napa, Solano, Lake and Mendocino Counties. This was trickier than expected since most charity entities operate under strict bylaws that limit how and where they can spend funds. A close friend, Ché Casul, suggested his group, Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County, as a fiscal sponsor of our efforts to help distribute raised funds across all of wine country through their affiliates. This created the perfect opportunity.

We built a website and launched the campaign through YouCaring (0% fees) with all funds directly collected by Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County. They then redistribute funds to their local Habitat for Humanity affiliates as a proportion of structures destroyed by the fires in their respective county. This combined with local Habitat for Humanity affiliates solved our needs to get donations into the right hands as soon as possible without overhead fees or tax issues. Overnight, friends of ours throughout Napa and Sonoma Counties, offered to help in the Rebuild Wine Country efforts. We had over 18 volunteers within days and they’ve been incredible.

By the end of Thursday, October 12th, we raised $5k and over $40k through the weekend. A plethora of volunteers, industry support, partnership opportunities and donations found us. We raised our goal to $500k and soon to $5M with the goal to rebuild at least 50 homes and repair countless others. This is just the beginning and we are so thankful to have an opportunity to help those who need it.

Chris Strieter, Co-Founder &  Chelsea Boss, General Manager



I’m excited about Laundry. The French Laundry.

Hello friends! We’re back with a second update this month to share some amazing news with you. I am very excited to announce that our 2013 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are both proudly featured on the wine list at The French Laundry in Napa (yes, that French Laundry of one of the world’s 50 best restaurants).


2012 Pinot Noir

Chris, Max and I just opened a bottle of our 2012 Pinot Noir recently and we were so blown away that I had to tell you about it! It’s changed a lot and has notes of cherry cola, white pepper and strong acid that’s still showing brightly two years after the vintage.


2014 Rosé?

I remember asking my mother once what that pink drink was that all the adults were sipping at some wine country event. It was almost neon and my twelve-year-old brain instantly associated it with soda. Naturally I wanted some. She replied with “Oh that’s rosé, the Koolaid of wine,” which did nothing to lessen my desire for it. But I was bustled away before I could be corrupted by syrupy-sweet white zinfandel.


2014 Best Harvest Yet

The 2014 harvest is over and it’s about time for winemakers everywhere to finally sit back, pop open a bottle of wine, relax and of course give their thoughts on the vintage. 2014, like 2013 and 2012, was an excellent year. Harvest started and ended early, crop yields were high and the weather cooperated in most places. Things are looking good for California winemakers and consumers can look forward to a wide variety of high quality wines to choose from on shelves for the third vintage in a row. We are very excited by our 2014’s, especially our first ever dry rosé!


Why Senses is thankful this time of the year…

The 2014 vintage is winding down: wines are in barrel and vineyards are nearly dormant. This time of the year seems naturally suited for reflection and thankfulness as we prepare for the winter, maybe that’s why Thanksgiving falls when it does. I’ve always enjoyed Thanksgiving because it’s one of the few days out of the year where it’s socially acceptable to explore the limits of your stomach.


Lexi’s Thanksgiving Turkey

Every Thanksgiving the turkey is my dad’s favorite project! We use this Williams Sonoma recipe as a foundation each year. Depending on what we have in the pantry, we adjust and end up tweaking the recipe slightly but we always enjoy this recipe and all the laughs we share while adding our own flavors!


Max’s Favorite Family Yam Dish

I am currently in Canada shooting Season 3 of Bates Motel. As many of you know Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated in October. This year, due to our busy work schedule we do not have time off to be home for American Thanksgiving. But we are hoping to have our own Bates Motel family Thanksgiving dinner in Vancouver where we can all share our own family traditions. This is a recipe I pulled straight out my mother’s family cookbook.