Consider this...

In answer to your question about spitting, wine judging and satiated palates:

Since organoleptic sensation is 90% (est) smell, we thoroughly smell everything first. If your lip isn't hanging over the edge of the glass with your proboscis inside, you are not smelling thoroughly. Anything with an off-character isn't going to medal so why taste it? Happily these days, there are fewer wines eliminated in this first step as winemaking is pretty much an exact science. Thank God there is still an art component to keep it interesting and alive. The smell step also guides the judge toward his/her quality and interest categorization. Here's where, in "professionally" judged competitions, it falls apart. The current "cookie cutter cadre" of recurring faces at many competitions find objectivity an illusive if not personally offensive tool. The late wine scribe and visionary, Jerry D. Mead would school (usually to little avail) each of his judges before a competition that "If it's the best Chenin Blanc on the table and has no flaws, it's a gold". Jerry was alluding to the judges' historically biased propensity for awarding multiple gold medals in the Chardonnay class but none to the "lesser grapes".

Even more handicapped are the lazy and/or effete judges who gravitate toward their own comfortable taste preferences ignoring the validity of outstanding wines within a class made in divergent styles. For instance, cannot Zinfandel be exceptional in the Beaujolais/Joven, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Late Harvest, Port, Sparkling, Rose, and Blanc de Noir styles. We all have our idea of what typifies "Zinfandel" or Cabernet Sauvignon, etc. I call this affliction "Paradigm Paralysis" and there seems to be no cure short of lobotomy. How can any competition claim credibility and a unique placement in a crowded world of wines when they all use substantially the same palate pool?

Saving us all will be the new crop of bright minds and pristine palates we now see infiltrating the sage ranks of wine writing, wine making and wine competitions.

Yes, we sniff, spit and hope not to dribble. How professional would that look? RK


Über Rhenish

We barrel fermented it to total dryness then whisked it off to cool stainless steel to preserve flavors before bottling. Uber Rhenish will make you smile and have you asking for more.

"Riesling is hands-down the best food wine in the world. Its balance of intense acidity, minerality, and fruit makes it an especially good match for spicy foods and the mix of ethnic flavors popular in the West."

Sara Schneider, Sunset Magazine

"Dear Ray,

The editors at Wine Enthusiast have rated and reviewed the following wines. All ratings and reviews of wines evaluated will appear live on our website as of September 1.

A selection of ratings and reviews will appear in the buying guide of the magazine in the September 2007 issue. 

90 POINTS Wine Enthusiast Magazine - Editors Choice - Westbrook Wine Farm - 2006 - Über Rhenish - Dry Riesling - Madera - $17 "

Hi Ray,  after our meeting I have become enamored with Riesling.  I have never experienced such intense and unusual vapors wafting from a varietal before as I did enjoying yours. I did a quick online search and was intrigued to say the least: Greg

“The petrol note is considered to be caused by the compound 1,1,6-trimethyl-1,2-dihydronaphthalene (TDN), which during the aging process is created from carotenoid precursors by acid hydrolysis. The initial concentration of precursors in the wine determines the wine’s potential to develop TDN and petrol notes over time. From what is known of the production of carotenoids in grapes, factors that are likely to increase the TDN potential are:

• Ripe grapes, i.e., low yields and late harvest

• High sun exposure

• Water stress, which is most likely in regions which do not practice irrigation, and there  primarily in certain dry vineyard sites in hot and dry years

• High acid content”

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This is our flagship wine, a co-fermented field blend of grapes from our estate. "Fait accompli" translates from French to English as "accomplished fact." Fashioned in the style of red wines from Bordeaux, our wine is a full flavored, deeply colored, highly extracted, yet civilized, Claret. 

Winemaking (to use the popular term) at Westbrook Wine Farm is atypical, in that we say and mean that our wine is literally "crafted" in the vineyard. Although there is some variation, allowing for changes from one vintage to the next, our proprietary field blend is approximately 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Malbec, 8% Merlot, 7% Petite Verdot, and 1% Carmenere.

Harvesting and co-fermenting all six varieties together creates a flavor bond and complexity, unlike anything that can be achieved by wine blending. This is not to say our method produces wine that is superior to that made by wine blending, but our co-fermented wine is decidedly more complex and, fortunately, pleasing to our customers.

Some farm produce is dried, frozen, smoked, pickled or brined.  Crushing, adding yeast, hand-punching the cap in small open fermenters, pressing into barrels and bottling is our way of preserving the fruit that we grow.


My daughter came down for the annual Oscar party with 9 bottles of her favorites from Russian River and points east!!. Saturday, I uncorked THE BOTTLE. Karen was impressed with the use of the warm water and knife held at 45 degrees to expose the cork... Anyway, a very long story reduced to its essences, your wine was amazing at the first sampling. An hour later, even more so. The next day, the wine had relaxed and the flavor and after taste lingered as a delicate balance to be savored and enhance the evening with friends and family.

Thank you so much, it was worth the wait.


Well, the Red Sox pulled off a big one last night. Bruce, being a true Boston sports fan, was biting his nails and waiting for the Colorado Rockies to spoil the hope of a World Series sweep, but they just went out with a whimper. I knew we would be watching grown men bathing each other in Champagne, so I decided that the occasion required something more. As the 9th inning began I held the wax in the palm of my hand, as instructed, careful not to warm the bottle. With the first out in the bottom of the 9th, I unfolded the blade of the opener. As the young pitcher jumped into the air in celebration of his first championship, I carefully cut the wax on a 2004 Fait Accompli. Bruce, Amy, and I toasted the World Champion Red Sox with the best beverage in the house.

It was funny how quickly our attention turned from the baseball celebration to what can only be described as surrender to the taste of your wonderful wine on our tongues. Let others celebrate with bubbly white wine, we prefer to mark any grand occasion with Fait Accompli.

Ray and Tammy, thank you for pursuing your passion. You have made the world a better place.


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These wines are made from hand-sorted bunches, grown by other farmers of conscience whom  we know to have a passion, parallel to our own, for growing fruit of intensity and quality.

Petite Sirah   John Simpson Vines   Madera County

Highly extracted and unmitigated from John Simpson's own-rooted vines in Madera. Naturally proud tannins and alcohol reminiscent of the bold 1960s creations of young doctors Bennion and Bruce. A more floral than fruit forward red wine. Pairs best with sage rubbed, flame charred venison.

Cabernet Sauvignon  Peterson Family Vineyard  Lodi

... this old head-trained and spur-pruned vineyard in the Lodi / Woodbridge area provides great fruit with which to work. 

Dark cherries, dark roses, chocolate, truffles, cedar and Cabernet Sauvignon fruit.  100% Cabernet Sauvignon .

Ray and Tammy

Hope both are well. I can report that we (Maureen, who works for me, and I) were unable to keep our hands off of your Peterson Cab, and so opened a bottle Wed. after you dropped it off - sorry I missed you, by the way. Initially, we couldn't place the thing - extreme ripeness and obvious density, along with a kind of awkward disjointedness were the first impressions. Consider. Close bottle. Yesterday, I returned to the 80%-full bottle that spent the night in a 55-degree vinotemp, to find something still dense and ripe, but now supple and smooth in texture, with slightly charred black fruit notes, still very dense but terrifically balanced with a new structure, and now enlived particularly by a lovely background of vanillins that had not been expressed the first day. The wine really came into focus and took shape overnight. It reminded me very strongly (and this is one of the reasons I'm writing this) of a number of the best wines I've tasted from the French Southwest, especially those wonderful plummy, roasty Madirans that contain some Cab and Cab Franc, but are principally based on Tannat. Yours was certainly not as rough or tannic as their regular bottlings, this wine reminds me of certain of those vintners' prestige cuvees: muscled, but with a kind of emergent refinement. 

Well, I don't drink those wines here, so tasting yours caused me for the first time in a while to think of certain dinner parties we used to have, especially those for which my Toulousian roommate would cook something from home, and we would buy those gutsy wines from her region to go with. Those were great evenings.

I can't wait to see what the last half of the bottle will taste like today.

All the best to you both,


I had a 2005 Peterson cab last night and it was just fabulous. So rich and concentrated. I decanted because it is so huge and young and tannic. Age worthy is an understatement. I probably drank ¾ of the bottle myself. My poor mother barely got a taste. I had a Matanzas Creek cab a couple nights earlier ($35 at the winery) and it was frighteningly inferior to your Peterson. I still have half that bottle in the frig. I can't bear to drink it after the Peterson.

Richard, Scotts Valley, CA


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and Tammy! I have a lovely story to share with you both. This Christmas, I was able to spend Christmas Day will the woman of my dreams here in Gatineau. We hosted Christmas dinner for her extended family. I opened your Riesling to go with our appetizers and it was delicious. It seems a bit more luscious than last year, a bit rounder, which I prefer. I had opened a bottle of your 06 Peterson Family Cab around 11 am Christmas morning to give it a little air before dinner. No decanter, just an open bottle sitting quietly on a buffet. Around 5 pm, I poured myself a small taste. It was very, very good. The nose was incredibly intense and rich. The color was almost opaque. The fruit was concentrated, lush and just filled your mouth with pleasure. It had great weight and length. The structure held all this together like a symphony. To my palate, it was really quite exceptional.

One of my future relatives, an economist in his mid-thirties, saw the expression on my face and we started talking about the wine. I explained that we will be pouring your signature wine at our wedding and this wine was not as good. I poured him a glass. He was very impressed, asked me how much it cost. He wants me to bring him half a case the next chance I get. He appreciated the beautiful flavors in his mouth that day but also knows enough to appreciate the age-worthiness of this wine. He wants to lay 4 bottles down for a few years (10 if he can resist that long) and drink a couple bottles short term.

My future father-in-law asked for a glass and had the same reaction. Your Peterson Family Cab was the toast of Christmas Dinner. I just wish I had brought more than one bottle. So kudos to you and Tammy for blowing the socks off the French palates up here in Quebec once again! They know wine and they consistently love yours. I don't mean to denigrate other fine wines but I must also tell you that we finished your Peterson fairly quickly. The wine that followed was a L'Aventure Optimus, a beautiful and well-known wine that is always a crowd favorite (a Syrah/Cab blend). Unfortunately, it faired very poorly in comparison to your lovely Cab. We didn't even finish the bottle. Side by side comparisons can be brutal.

Please reserve two cases of the Peterson and also two cases of the Sturm-Gardner for me. I plan to come visit in January (hopefully) and I'll pick them up then.

Warmest regards, your very proud fan, Richard

Cabernet Sauvignon  UCD Clone 4

Sturm Gardner Vineyard  Mariposa County

Our clients now refer to it as "C-4" for its explosive mineral, herbal and forest floor expressions. Fashioned from hand selected bunches from two acres of the ever shy old clone four grown at 3,000 feet in elevation in the mountains of Mariposa.

Viognier / Valdiguie  Madera County

Our proprietary blend of these grapes grown in select vineyards in Madera County. Whole cluster pressed and barrel fermented, bottled early to preserve its beguiling characteristics. Viognier contributes its unique tropical / melon sensations and silky glycerol textures, while  the white juice extracted from the very black Valdiguie (formerly Napa Gamay) brings strawberries and a sassy crispness to the mix.. The new flash-toasted Eastern European oak barrels are responsible for the sweet vanilla and spice which tie this unique cuvée together. 

Uber Rhenish Dry Riesling  Madera County

Intentionally in more the Austere Austrian style than like either a Rhein or Mosel, Uber Rhenish Dry Riesling is the quintessential raw fish accompaniment. Crisp and sassy with a hint of the expected Riesling “petrol”. Barrel fermentation to total dryness serves to bevel the naturally sharp edges of this naturally acidic fruit.  Uber Rhenish will make you smile and have you asking for more. That’s a good thing.

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Our history, recorded back to our first vintage...

CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2004 "sandy Patch Reserve"

(Now trading at $55 / 750 ml)

At Westbrook Wine Farm we put our wines into the bottle when they are supposed to go there. For our red wines that usually means after an oak aging period of from 18 to 26 months. Thereafter, the interaction (esterification) between the natural fruit acids from the grape and alcohol introduced through fermentation form the esters which are major components of taste and "bottle bouquet". Two years in a barrel and three years in the bottle is a classic, if not arbitrary, regimen for when a well constructed red wine begins its ascendancy toward proper drinkability. The timeline, of course, depends upon the wine. Whites and lighter reds by design (or default) will have a rather rapid ascent toward an acute apex and a rapid descent thereafter. Well grown and carefully vinted wines will exhibit a slower shallow incline toward a plateau before beginning their slower decline.

It has always been our desire to release a "Reserve" wine on its fifth birthday and our 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon "Sandy Patch Reserve" from the Peterson Family Vineyard in Lodi has provided that opportunity.

Never a problem child, Sandy Patch was closed-in and strangely brooding during its two year stay in new extra fine grain American oak. With the color of squid ink and a naturally fermented alcohol of over 16% by volume, we new it was destined for special status (and carping by the alcophobic cookie-cutter wine critics).

Sandy Patch remained demure throughout the first two years in the bottle. Adolescence abruptly morphed into young adulthood in April of this year when we chanced to taste with restaurateur and sommelier, Chris Shackelford from Trelio in Clovis, CA. Chris' comments:

The biggest wine to date, bar none. Doubt anyone would argue that at 16% alcohol. Dark fruit hidden by cedar box, fertile earth notes and rich oak aromatics. It stays that way in the glass for at least a half an hour. By the time you are a little tipsy the wine starts to open to rich, sweet blackberry cassis fruit profile laced with notes. The tannin structure stays firm from opening to finish of the bottle w hich leads me to believe a long aging life awaits the wine. The acid is very much a part of the wine and is well balanced considering the higher alcohol levels.

Considering the structure of the wine I believe the release date should fall sometime in the fall with giving the wine two months to reaclimate to the end users cellar and settling time, ready to drink from early 2010 to 2016.

The wine is still very primary right now for a 2004 (surprisingly as high alcohol levels usually turn a wine rather rapidly). With the high tannin and acid I believe that this will not be the case. The high cedar and earth notes should develop with the wine as it starts to change, pushing them more into the fruit aromatics on the front end and incorporating themselves in a more secondary character on the finish. I would not expect the dense fruit to dissipate of change too much in the next six years, I do not know how long the wine has already been in the bottle (Ray?) so my observations are based on a single tasting of the wine last Sunday. This is a very interesting wine, one that I do not have much experience with at this quality level. If to draw a comparison I would have to equate it to a Western Australian (Margaret River)wine such as Leeuwin or Cape Mentelle as they to have the dense structure and high alcohol and tend to perform rather well in the cellar for 6 to 8 years effortlessly on a great vintage.

The only reason I believe that this wine may outperform those is that the color on the SP Reserve showed little to no oxidation in the color... so something is working in the wine. I would not deal with the fruit any other way than how Ray has handled it, and would love to use this fruit some day for myself as there is obviously something very special in that vineyard very worthwhile looking at.


Chris at Trelio

“FAIT ACCOMPLI”  2006  “V8”  Estate Grown  Madera County

A firm grip and lingering protracted release of flavors and aromas as this vintage is just now coming into its own.  Belongs in your cellar and on your table.



"FAIT ACCOMPLI" 2005 "The Phoenix" Estate Grown, Madera County

Layers of soft complexity unfold from this warmish year, not unlike our 2000 vintage. More spice and minerals than red fruit.

SOLD OUT (Now trading at $65 / 750 ml)


"FAIT ACCOMPLI" 2004 "Evolution" Estate Grown, Madera County
Perhaps our most harmonious and well integrated rendition of our flagship wine to date.

SOLD OUT (Now trading at $70 / 750 ml)

"FAIT ACCOMPLI" 2003 Seventh Leaf Estate Grown, Madera County

"Seventh Leaf" indicates that this vintage marked the seventh time our Fait Accompli vineyard leafed out. In some old world venues and in O'Neals, this has a default quality and maturity significance. The gains in complex fruit composition are certainly more apparent now since we have met and pondered the positive contributions of vine maturity. Given an appropriate temperature, enjoy this robust claret into the next decade. 2004 Fait Accompli "Evolution".

SOLD OUT (Now trading at $75 / 750 ml)

"FAIT ACCOMPLI" Plethora 2002 Madera County

... is intense, assertive, and unapologetic; 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21.5% Cabernet Franc, 5.5% Merlot, 8.0% Malbec, 7.5% Petit Verdot, 1.5% Carmenere

SOLD OUT (Now trading at $80 / 750 ml)

"FAIT ACCOMPLI" (V3) Barbara Lee 2001 Madera County

... exhibits all the bright sensory expressions we have come to expect from our mountain vineyard. An amplified intensity due to vintage variation and attained vine age is also displayed in the aroma and taste. Our minimalist winemaking and sustainable methods of farming mountain grown fruit are boldly evident in this, our most spirited and complex wine to date. 

SOLD OUT (Now trading at $95 / 750 ml)

"FAIT ACCOMPLI" (V2) Dietrich 2000 Madera County

(V2) has an alluring countenance. While it doesn't "leap" from the glass quite like our first vintage, it virtually explodes in the mouth. Ripe fruit and lees aging for a total of ten months in new Demptos Hybrid French-American barrels is consistent with our "wine over wood" philosophy. The result is a complete wine, born supple, yet with exceptional holding potential. A dark, powerful, mouth filling wine with complex expressions of currant and cedar. 

SOLD OUT (Now trading at $130 / 750 ml)

"FAIT ACCOMPLI" First Harvest 1999 Madera County

A very dark, tight knit Claret with a structure guaranteed to take it into the next decade and beyond.

"A Silver Medal is like a kiss from your sister"
...Jerry Mead, Wine Critic and Consumer Advocate

Yet, the Silver Medal it was for our 1999 "FAIT ACCOMPLI" from the 25th Annual Orange County Fair Wine Competition held in June, 2001. Our award was earned in the "Meritage Red Over $45" classification.

SOLD OUT (Now trading at $230)

Ray and Tammy Krause, Proprietors

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