Julia has been swirling, sipping and swilling wines throughout California and beyond for more than two decades. Her passion is discovering big wines in small places. So, come with her and fill your glass.

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Here’s a suggestion to make your Halloween haunt a deliciously screaming night to remember.

Sure, you hired the zombie bartender, whipped up the eye ball canapes and fried bat wings but what about some salacious wine?

The limited edition Skull Ring Red Wine from Jon Nathaniel Wines in Napa Valley ($80) is waiting to be invited. It’s easy to spot at midnight with its creepy skull label and heavy black glass bottle.

This dark blood-red brew is a fruit forward blend of Syrah (for screaming spice) and Petit Verdot (for un-dead blackberry).

This devilishly, naughty blend brings forth whispers of dark chocolate, red fruit and plum with an eerily smooth finish.

Be sure to open several bottles during the witching hours, if not the goblins could stick around all year.

Napa Valley is now open for fall fun and Flora Springs Winery & Vineyard has a big reason to visit this weekend.

It will hold a benefit music festival on Sunday, Oct. 29 at The Room, 677 Hwy 29 in St. Helena, with all proceeds from an auction going to victims of the recent Napa Valley wildfires through the Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund.

But wait, there’s more. The event is free and no RSVP is required.

The fundraiser, held from 12-5pm, will feature five San Francisco Bay Area bands and musicians including Serf & James, Fellow Vessel, Sean Garvey, Mr. Kind, and Miss Moonshine. Flora Springs will be pouring its awarding winning wines by the glass and bottles along with small bites. The event will also feature an auction including wines and other items.

“We were among the lucky ones, but we know many who were not as fortunate,” said Flora Springs Co-Founder and Proprietor John Komes. “The Festival will raise monies to help firevictims, but will also serve as a way for our community to come together in a show of strength and fellowship. Everyone is welcome. The lineup of artists includes several who were themselves affected by the fires in Napa and Sonoma Counties.”

Here’s the line-up:

Serf and James (12pm – 12:45pm))https://www.serfandjames.com

 

Fellow Vessel (1pm – 1:45pm/

https://www.fellowvessel.com/

Sean Garvey (2pm – 2:45pm)

http://www.obsidianson.com/

Mr. Kind (3pm – 3:45pm)

http://www.ivyhillentertainment.com/mrkind/

Miss Moonshine (4pm to 5pm)

https://www.missmoonshineband.com/

 

Candystore.com just released a revealing, top secret file that lists top Halloween candies state-by-state. The document projects $1.7 billion will be spent on trick-or-treat candies.

California’s most popular Halloween candy has changed this year. The birthplace of Jelly Belly’s has more of an affinity for the M&M’s than jelly beans or last year’s top candy, salt water taffy. Hmm. M, Mickey. M, Mouse. …M&M’s. Coincidence? I think not. Over 1.5 million pounds of M&M’s don’t lie. Californians prefer melting in mouths over melting in their hands.

Colorado’s most popular Halloween candy has changed this year. Last year, Twix ruled the mountains of Colorado. Now Milky Way has overtaken the lead. Given recent changes in consumption habits surrounding sweets in Colorado, we would not be surprised to see further changes in the coming years. Stay tuned in the Mile HIGH city, but for now offer your trick-or-treaters Milky Ways and Twix.

Georgians love to fish. Deep sea fishing of the coast of Savannah and in the many lakes surrounding Atlanta and other areas. They fish for Atlantic fish and Georgian fish, and they eat Swedish Fish. Over 130k pounds of Swedish Fish, last year’s top candy as well. Making waves are Jolly Ranchers, the new #3 candy in Georgia, supplanting Lemonheads.

Hawaii’s most popular Halloween candy has changed this year. Hershey’s Kisses has fallen from the top spot and made way for a new champion of the Pacific Island. It’s no surprise that the people of this gorgeous island want to taste the rainbow. Skittles is the new champion with over 265k pounds consumed. Also, did you know the east-to-west Hawaii is the widest state?!

King (candy) corn reigns in Idaho, just like last year. Home of beautiful mountains, and of course potatoes, Idahoans love their candy corn for Halloween.  Second place goes to Starburst.

 

In Vegas they love shiny things. That must be why Hershey’s Kisses do so well in Nevada on Halloween.  They are again the #1 most popular Halloween candy, with over 322,000 pounds consumed. Candy corn is not far behind and Skittles rainbow is still shining over the #3 spot.

New York is our kinda town! And state. That must be what those Sour Patch Kids say, because they are getting consumed at a pace over 200,000 pounds around Halloween time. Candy corn and Reese Cups finish of the top 3. Be careful with trick-or-treaters in Manhattan, those street wise cats don’t mess around if you don’t have Sour Patch Kids!

(The site has a complete list.)

Just in time for menacing tales and spirits, Flora Springs Winery and Vineyard brings forth a wine to coincide with Halloween.

The Napa Valley winery has the distinction of being home to one of the regions original “ghost wineries.” These were built between 1860 and 1900 but abandoned in the early 20th century due to three “curses”: the vine disease phylloxera, the Great Depression and Prohibition.

Some remain shuttered but Flora Springs was restored and produces wickedly delicious selections.

Its 2013 small production Ghost Winery Napa Valley Red Wine ($44) exudes chocolate, ripe plum and blueberry notes followed by thrilling spice, cedar and white pepper flavors. This is a muscular wine not meant for the faint of heart; but for those who dare to sip in the dark. Serve this with sauced ribs or roasted bat wings.

Behind the label by iconic artist Wes Freed, are haunting figures of a ghastly zombie jam session cursed by hovering, hungry crows and two bats watching from a hillside.

So, light the candles and let mysterious forces bring magic into your glass.

 

 

That dark, bewitching night is fast approaching so it’s time to plan parties and pairings – with Halloween candy, of course.

Moscato – a wicked blend of orange muscat and muscat canelli – has apricot and peach notes with well-behaved little bubbles. In addition to traditional pairing like Thai and cheese dishes, “Starburst” and “Nerds” are the perfect match. Each are fruity and will match the wine’s sweetness.

 Riesling is a fragrant white wine brimming with explosive ripe stone fruit aromas and juicy nectarine. The seductive selection is fruity, bold and aromatic so pick the “Skittles” and “Sour Patch Kids” candy treats out of the Trick or Treat bags and pour a glass.

Looking to have a glass of wine to complim

ent the perennial favorite “Candy Corn” Look no further than Benziger Chardonnay This varietal combines a smooth, creamy mouthfeel with crisp apple, ripe pineapple and a whisper of citrus on the finish. This fruit-forward wine has beautifully integrated oak and creamy notes that Chardonnay lovers love. The candy’s buttery vanilla flavor will be perfect for your nocturnal haunting.

Do you hear a knock on that creaking door?

No passport required for sipping and savoring these Israeli wines now.

These selections demonstrate three distinct grape growing conditions for producing wines on an international level: soil, topography and climate.

Yiron, from the Galil Mountain Winery in Upper Galilee ($31.99), is a rich, luscious red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Aged for 16 months in French oak, it is ruby hued in the glass. Tempting aromas of blueberry and black fruit entice the

palate with cassis, vanilla and toast on the palate. Pour this seductive selection with beef stew and rustic bread and olive oil.

Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon ($32.99) is hand crafted from the Golan Heights Winery located in Central Golan and Upper Galilee. Intense blackberry and cherry notes open the curtain for cassis, plum and toasty notes on the palate and a lingering finish Enjoy this exceptional varietal with grilled poultry or after dinner with cheddar cheeses. Drinking conditions stretch from 10-15 years. But, why wait?

If you are craving a white wine, Yarden Chardonnay from Odem Vineyard ($20.99) will quench that thirst. Hints of white flowers, citrus and pear embrace before an avalanche of tropical fruit, vanilla and baked croissants linger for a rich mouth-feel. Share the table with grilled freshwater fish, a plate of figs and strong cheeses.

Tonight, if the moon glows with exceptional allure, it could be you are sipping a Valley of the Moon white blend from Madrone Estate.

But, why wait until tonight? This refreshing selection is ready now.

Established in 1941 on Madrone Estate in Sonoma Valley, Valley of the Moon wines showcase a true sense of place, delivering exceptional quality and characteristics. The winemaking philosophy is focused on revealing the distinctive varietal personality of the grapes grown in the outstanding vineyards.

Crafted by winemaker wizard Kat Doescher, this selection ($17.99) is a blend of 85 percent Pinot Blanc and 15 percent Viognier that results in an appealing food friendly wine.

“There are certainly other white blends available on the market, but the combination of these two varietals achieves a light refreshing fruit quality, with a study backbone that gives it balance and structure,” she said.

In the glass, aromas of honey and peaches entice the senses and make way for ripe pineapple and fresh ginger on the palate.

Pour this with delicate fish, soft cheese and nuts.

 

Celebrate and embrace Indian summer with a chilled glass of Harken 2016 chardonnay.

The winemaking wizards say the varietal pays tribute to the classic California taste profile that many consumers love but are having a harder time to fine. The Chardonnay ($15)) is handmade,

100 percent barrel and malolactic fermentation and offers a creamy, toasty mouthfeel. ( no citrus aromas or taste.)

This exceptional wine opens with pear and rich fruit aromas with warm oak notes. Crème brulee and buttered croissants linger on the palate in a luscious finish.

Pour this with herb infused chicken, strong cheeses and grilled freshwater fish.

When planning your Rosh Hashanah menus, be sure to invite 2013 Bravado Coupage wine to the table.

Often called “the Birthday of the World,” it is a time of discovery, introspection and new beginnings. Wishes for a sweet new year are expressed in foods such as crispy autumn apples dipped in honey, tzimmes (sweet stew usually of meat, carrots and

potatoes and prunes) rich  honey cake and Sephardic tispishti (a walnut cake with sweet syrup).

The Bravado Coupage, an intense, albeit food friendly, red blend is from Israel’s Karmei Yosef Winery, located in the Judean foothills on the road to Jerusalem. The unique composition of the wine expresses the synergy between the contributions of the three quality varietals: Cabernet Franc, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Spicy flavors and succulent notes of violet, wild plum and dark red fruit linger on the palate into a lingering finish.

Shalom!

One bite of a Redd bar will confuse your taste buds. Is it just a delicious candy bar or something else?

It is something else… a delicious energy bar. Mother Nature’s All-Star Team is packed with protein, superfoods, 23 vitamins and minerals, gluten and GMO free, no artificial flavors or colors, cholesterol free and only 230 calories.

The wizards that produce these bars swear, “If Mother Nature made anything better, she kept it for herself.”

The line-up of energy bars include Oatmeal, Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Mint Chocolate; and each is guilt free.

But wait. Why not pair an energy bar with a wine for an amazing finish to tonight’s dinner? Here’s an idea… uncork a spicy Zinfandel with the peanut butter bar or a glass of Port with the chocolate selection.