By Rick Riozza

Dan Sullivan is one of the venerable wine wise guys in our valley. He’s been a wine purveyor in the area for almost 20 years, and, has a very loyal clientele. Often, when I ask people where they predominately purchase their wine, I get a lot of “Dan’s Wine” as their go-to store.

Dan’s Wine Shop is located on Hwy 111 between Monterey and San Pablo in Palm Desert. Calling it a wine shop is correct, like a European one: relatively smaller than the huge markets about town, but with many opened wooden wine cases exhibiting their wares. His wine selection is from all over the world and he is well stocked with California vino. Plus he has the good jazz & Steeley Dan playing in the background.

And as usual in the autumn season, I’ve been running into owner Dan Sullivan at the various wine tasting events around town, and, he’s always keen to direct me to the wine booths with stellar stuff—appreciate that, especially when there are a beaucoup amount of tasting tables about.


Dan Sullivan is also known as a “character”. Just ask any of the many professional wine distributors around; everyone has some amusing story of their relationship with Dan. So if you don’t know him already, stop in and say hello & discover his array of wines. Dan’s Wine Shop, 73360 Hwy. 111 #1 Palm Desert Ca. 92260 760.674.0305. You may also go on is website to watch him showcase many of his wines.

So I ring up Dan and ask him for this year’s picks—some whites, some reds and a dessert wine. The only criteria I offered is that it would be a good wine, at a good price, that would be a good match for Thanksgiving & holiday fare. He said easy enough.

I was in the neighborhood so I stopped by his shop to talk about his choices for you eager CV’ers. Fogetaboutit! The guy was too busy to chat, but he said he had just sent me an email of his picks. Now if I was a wimp, I’d feel really slighted—but you’re talking about the vino boys here, we always love it when people are buying good wine. You’ve heard it: “life’s too short to drink bad wine, especially at the holidays.”

He did indeed email me his list; so let’s see what he’s recommending and we’ll extrapolate on it.

Dan listed Husch Vineyards twice—for a Thanksgiving white wine and for a closing dessert wine, and they’re both Gewurzraminer [guh-VERTZ-trah-mee-ner]: Husch, a small, family owned and operated winery, is the oldest winery in the Anderson Valley appellation, located in Mendocino County, just 2 1/2 hours north of San Francisco. We know about this appellation: nice cool night weather which translates to intense & complex fruit with acidity great balance.

The Husch 2013 Dry Gewurztraminer Estate wine starts with an amazing floral nose (including notes of rose petals, violets, and honeysuckle) followed by a surprisingly broad mouthfeel and a zesty finish. Wine Alert: this is not a sweet wine. Anderson Valley is one of the best locations in the world to grow Gevurtz and this wine shows why. One can see this working for the Thanksgiving table. But you can also pair this wine throughout the year with Buffalo wings, a charcuterie plate, chicken stir-fry, or Raclette cheese. $9.95

And while we’re on the Husch topic, let’s jump ahead to dessert with Husch 2013 Late Harvest Gewurztraminer Estate wine—which, of course, is sweet: Honey, dried apricot, orange marmalade, and clove spice dominate the aromatics of this wine with flavors of layers of flavors: honeysuckle, lychee, rose petal, spiced apricot and beeswax. The sweetness of the grapes is balanced with brilliant acidity. Clearly a dessert wine for all seasons, especially with an after-dinner apple crisp or crème brûlée. $17.95 (half-bottle)

Returning to the main course, let’s go back for another of Dan’s white Thanksgiving pick: The 2012 Treana Viognier/Marsanne. The California Grape Vine wine review states: “Medium-light to medium golden yellow color; attractive, forward, rich, pear and ripe peach aroma with hints of honeysuckle and quince; medium-full body; rich, slightly viscous, rounded, ripe stone fruit flavors with some depth and a slight sweetness in the creamy mouthfeel; a very lingering aftertaste.” $14.95

For Dan’s red wine pick, it’s no surprise here—for Thanksgiving at his place, we’re talking Pinot Noir. He’s got the 2011 Caymus Conundrum Red Blend: Winemaker notes include: “intensely colored and fragrant, the wine opens up with evocative aromas of blackberry, raspberry, rhubarb and cola. On the palate, the wine is full bodied and exuberantly fruity, pairing black cherry, plum and pomegranate notes with more soulful cinnamon, lavender and cocoa nuances. The tannins are firm yet supple, and the finish is long with enticing notes of brown spice, bramble fruits, vanilla and toasty oak.” $16.95

The other Pinot Noir pick is the 2012 Cru Vineyard Montage Santa Lucia Highlands. Wine reviews include: “Pretty and polished, this Pinot is delicately structured, with a great burst of acidity and a dry, spicy finish. The raspberry, vanilla and toast flavors are pleasant and complex.” $14.95 Hey Dan! Thanks again for your thoughts and picks.

Sounds like a warm, comfy and tasty Thanksgiving. And with all that said, the most important thing, of course, to bring to the table, is a grateful & humble heart. And bless you all who contribute meals to the needy.

Happy Holidays! Cheers!