From My Palate To Yours
Brian David Kulich
Owner + Advanced Sommelier
Brian Kulich, an Advanced Sommelier CMS, has curated wine lists for top restaurants throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. His work also includes beverage Director for the Omakase Restaurant group which boasts two Michelin Star restaurants along with multiple Wine Spectator wine list awards.
After cutting his teeth in San Francisco at two Michelin AQUA and 2012 James Beard Best Restaurant in the Country Award winner Boulevard Restaurant, he went on to open OSO in the town of Sonoma, reaching SF Chronicle’s Top 100 restaurants within its first year. Subsequently, he went on to become Senior Captain at three Michelin The Restaurant at Meadwood. Brian departed to design an award winning wine list for Kenzo Restaurant in downtown Napa. In addition to designing the wine list, Brian also created the service standards which SF Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer described as, “a choreographed routine.”
Today, he turns his attention to utilizing his knowledge of guest palates while bringing wine lovers flavors of integrity and approachability.
Located just 45 miles north of San Francisco, in a valley stretching up to 30 miles in length and 5 miles wide at its widest point, the Napa Valley is the most famous wine region in all of North America. Despite its popularity, it only accounts for just 4% of California’s grape harvest and has only been recognized as an American Viticultural Area since 1981. It is home to a multitude of soil types and microclimates. There are also several peaks along its western mountain range, the Mayacamas mountains such as; Mt. Veeder, Spring Mountain and Diamond Mountain. The eastern side is home to the Vaca mountain range of which the famous Stag’s Leap District is nestled against its southern stretches. Howell Mountain is further to the North and Calistoga as its most Northern point. The Napa Valley produces acclaimed wines produced from varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel and Cabernet Franc.
Russian River Valley
The Russian River Valley lies in the heart of Sonoma County just east of the coastal mountain range that separates it from the Pacific Ocean. It is home to some of the best Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay grapes in all of the new world. Old vine Zinfandel along with a multitude of Italian and Bordeaux varieties call it home as well. The most famous of soils located here are that of sandy Goldridge, which provide excellent drainage formed when the Russian River Valley laid at the bottom of the ocean. The temperatures are kept at bay by cool breezes from the Pacific Ocean, flowing into the valley through the Petaluma Gap, all with a mixed landscape of rolling hills, steep mountainsides and dense forests.
The Central Coast American Viticultural Area spans South from Santa Barbara County to the North San Francisco Bay Area. As one could imagine, the southern stretches near the Pacific Ocean remain very cool and are great for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. However, the northern and inland areas of the region can be very warm and even hot during the growing months, as they are nearly 60 miles from the Pacific Ocean. This is perfect for Bordeaux varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. In fact, some of the best examples of Cabernet Sauvignon outside of Napa can be found throughout this AVA and for a more approachable price point. The Central Coast AVA touches portions of 6 counties in California. It is a total of 300 miles long with an almost endless diversity of soils, topography, microclimates and grape varieties.
The Santa Barbara County wine region located in the southern stretches of the Central Coast AVA is most widely known for wines produced from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, however, this wildly diverse growing region is more than capable of producing elite Syrahs, Carignane, Cabernet Franc, Grenache and some more esoteric varieties like Gruner Veltliner and Gewürztraminer. The county is home to such sub-AVA’s as Santa Rita Hills, Sant Ynez and Santa Maria Valley, the latter made famous by the legendary wines of Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat and Stephen & Bob Miller of Bien Nacido Winery and Vineyard.
The east and west running valleys that make up Santa Barbara County’s growing areas are very rare on the west coast and create a pathway for cool coastal breezes. And with a medley of diverse soils, Santa Barbara County is still exploring its potential. With just under 300 wineries the area never feels overrun with tourists and the ability to escape is one the most alluring characteristics of this great region. Despite not being as well known as some of its neighbors to the north the county as a whole contributes 1.7 billion dollars towards wines economic impact annually. And it is one of our most favorite regions to visit, explore and make wine from.