By Rick Riozza

Our last column previewing this weekend’s ninth annual Palm Desert Food & Wine Fest, offered a shout-out to some of our favorite wineries to be pouring at our valley’s illustrious culinary event.  Purposefully, I concluded that article with a tease, writing, “I’d like to bring to light Luna Vineyards,”  I introduced the lovely wine wise gal about-our-desert, Heidi Daniels, who is Luna’s representative, and the fact that she will be pouring Luna’s luscious world class wines—and then we just saluted, cheers!

But it’s the perfect time now to remind vino lovers to treat themselves to a fun weekend of wine and food tastings—and, to be sure to lock-in the Luna Vineyards booth location at the festival to meet with Heidi and to taste through her stellar portfolio of wines.

Truth be told—Luna Vineyards always sounds like a familiar wine. And that’s a good thing!  It has the feeling and the aura of a new wine label on-the-block, but I can recall the days back then when this winery rushed to the head-of-the-class with its prominent re-planting of Italian vines such as Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, and many other of our lovable romantic vines to Napa Valley.  To boot:  They were the first family-owned winery to plant the visionary Italian varietal of—wait for itPinot Grigio! on the estate vineyard, on the eastern hillside of the Silverado Trail.

I even remember holding on to their iconic cobalt-blue wine bottles that always made a standing statement on any shelf at the wine shop.  But whether then or in the now, we wine enthusiasts have always considered Luna Vineyards as a premium wine producer.  We know when purchasing a bottle of this stuff, we’re in for a quality wine drinking experience; Napa Valley wine making at its best.


So often these wine columns get you all worked up with fancy wine reviews of bottles you may or may not actually get to taste—leaving one a little high and dry, so to speak.  The really good news here, is that the wine I’m previewing below will be available for tasting your heart’s content at this weekend event—to the Moon baby!

As mentioned in last week’s article, we met with Spenser’s Restaurant’s somm, Andre De Carteret to taste through the latest Luna experience; unbelievably, Heidi will be pouring those same eight wonderful world class wines; four Portfolio Collective and four Winemaker’s Reserve Collective. So let’s get to our comments quick:

2017 Pinot Grigio—An Italian-style California Pinot Grigio with the unique blending of 8% Viognier to enhance the aromatics in keeping the wine interesting and refreshing, with aromas of apricot and Meyer lemon and a palate of brisk citrus notes, nice and round. The wine should be a hit in our desert area; look for it at the venues mentioned below.

2017 aCrisp Chardonnay—This can be considered a modern style of Chardonnay.  So many of my customers at the wine aisle, ask for this type of wine.  Just 30% malolactic fermentation took place in neutral oak barrels before transfer to stainless steel to age 6 months.  It’s the best of both worlds: light, bright, and refreshing along with your favorite Chardonnay nuance and undertones.

2016 Asylum Zinfandel—You Lodi Zinners will rejoice.  This wine is big, brash, and bold.  Bramble fruit, black tea, baking spices—you know the drill.  Add a bit of Petite Verdot for depth of flavor and age it in French and American oak for over a year and a half and you’ve got your Zin-ful passions satiated.

2016 Lunatic Red Blend—Now, we’re talking: a Sangiovese/Petite Sirah blend along with a good dose of Alicante Bouschet & Tempranillo.  Are you kidding? This wine illuminates the lush life over at Luna.  Overflowing aromas of blueberry, blackberry, vanilla, and nutmeg compliment the palate of boysenberry compote with underlying notes of bacon and hints of violet. 

The Winemaker’s Collection:

2017 Chardonnay, Oak Knoll, Napa Valley. This wine opens with aromas of lemon, honey and oak.  It’s full-bodied—it’s a full on dinner wine, with a backbone of citrus, green apple, toasted almond with an oaky-buttery finish.  This is definitely the wine for a Chardonnay connoisseur.  Gold Medal—San Francisco Chronicle Competition.

2017 Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara.  We all know the fanfare of a Santa Rita Pinot Noir—they’re heavy hitters.  But often times we want to taste the nuances of that hot wind swept area without the full-body slam.  So here you go! This is an elegant feminine-style, if you will, pinot with delicate aromas of bright raspberry and strawberry with nuances of smoke, oak and earth, which all move into the palate.  Serve this as the appealing aperitif or with a fancy meal.

2016 Sangiovese, Oakville/Calistoga, Napa Valley.  Like its Italian heritage, this is a serious food wine—mangia! Mangiare! e bevi!  This wine opens with intoxicating aromas of black raspberry and violets with a hint of black pepper.  Full bodied with ripe cherry and toffee—you sangio fans know the complexities and you know the dishes to match.

2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville/St. Helena, Napa Valley.  I know California Cab lovers—you love the bold and the beautiful. This bottling is the classic Napa Valley style of what you desire; it’s why you became a wine lover.  Find aromas & flavors of ripe black currant, black cherry, and plum with background notes of anise, vanilla and cedar; plush, elegant, firm & structured.  It completes the dinner.

We’ll see you this weekend—Cheers!  And the good news continues around our valley.  Look for Luna Vineyard’s wine served at our favorite local venues such as Trio, Cork & Fork, Arnold Palmer’s, La Brasserie, Solano’s Bar & Grill, Ristorante Mamma Gina, the Renaissance Hotel Esmeralda, Tradition Golf Club, and sold at Jensens.

Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival at The Gardens on El Paseo; 73545 El Paseo, West Side Upper Level Parking Deck; Palm Desert CA

Luna Vineyards 2921 Silverado Trail Napa, California 94558 707-255-5862