Summer Wines Worth Celebrating

by Robin Barr Sussman on June 8, 2022 in Food+Drink, Drink,

Summer brings on Father’s Day, Rosé Month, July 4, and of course, vacations. You’ll need lots of wine. Here’s the latest slew of recommended bottles to uncork for the non-stop sizzling season!

Photo Courtesy Outshinery


Ponzi Vineyards, Willamette Valley, Oregon

Pioneering Ponzi Vineyards crafts a beautiful 2020 pinot noir rosé, juicy and vibrant with fresh acidity ($25). It complements all summer foods, making it perfect for entertaining. For something bolder, splurge on its silky 2017 pinot noir reserve ($65). For white, it doesn’t get more luxurious than Ponzi’s 2017 reserve chardonnay crafted from grapes planted in the newly designated Laurelwood AVA ($45).

Gentleman Farmer, Napa Valley, California

June is national rosé month, but you won’t need another reason, like Father’s Day, to gift or uncork these beauties. The 2021 Gentleman Farmer Napa Valley rosé is one hundred percent pinot noir, resulting in an intense pink hue and complex, rounded dry wine with flavors of watermelon, white tea, celery leaf and a grapefruit kiss on the finish ($35). Its balanced 2020 Napa chardonnay ($49) is just as stunning. In honor of Pride month, a portion of proceeds from its 2018 Napa Almanac cabernet sauvignon ($149) will be donated to the It Gets Better Project, whose mission is to connect LGBTQ+ around the world.

Photo Courtesy Outshinery


Pinot Bianco and Pinot Grigio, Alto Adige

Pinot grigio and pinot blanc from the cool mountainous Alto Adige area of northern Italy smack with lively acidity and depth – something we all crave during warm weather with lighter foods. Try Cantina Kellerei Kurtatsch 2021 pinot grigio ($19) for the real deal. While we’re all familiar pinot grigio, Italy’s most popular white, pinot bianco is less talked about. Cantina Kellerei Andrian Finado 2021 pinot bianco ($21.99) boasts both alluring creaminess and crispness. If you haven’t tried any elegant Alto Adige wines, you’re missing out.

Photo Courtesy Cantina Andrian

Dobbes Family Estate, Willamette Valley, Oregon

The Dobbes Family Estate 2019 chardonnay manages to be full bodied yet vibrant and refreshing, unlike heavily oaked chardonnays. It reflects the cool vintage with aromas of lemon zest, Anjou pear, vanilla, and a touch of wet stone along with flavors of stone fruits and dandelion blossoms. The use of partial French oak and stainless steel barrels allows the acidity to shine through ($30). Its pinot noir collection is outstanding, so order white and red!


RedThumb Natural Wines, Spain

Ever noticed how difficult it is to find affordable, natural wines with clear information on the labels? Enter RedThumb Natural Wines, a new natural wine brand that celebrates not only great taste and value, but also transparency by including valuable information on its labels – farming and winemaking practices to nutritional facts and its three ingredients (organic grapes, native yeast and a touch of sulfur to preserve the wines). Its tempranillo, the gran papá of Spanish grapes, is rich, complex and juicy (not jammy) – perfect for your next barbecue. Spanish grenache rosé and chardonnay round out the collection. Available in Texas at Central Market and H-E-B (about $18.99).

Photo Courtesy RedThumb Natural Wines

Slate Theory, Fredericksburg, Texas

Next time you are near Fredericksburg or San Antonio, check out this amazing winery. Its underground tasting salons are a must-see and the huge selection of wines is a lot of fun (Dad would love the cool wine label art!). A few to try: 2018 Insomniac (a smooth red blend with plenty of ripe fruit, $56); 2017 Schizophrenic (a bold red blend that begs for a big steak, $55); Roussanne (beautifully fragrant full-bodied white that channels the French varietal, $31).

Photo Courtesy Slate Theory Winery

Benton-Lane, Willamette Valley, Oregon

The 2018 classically styled estate pinot noir is full and plush with fine grained tannins and balanced acidity. Ripe red plums, pie cherries and mountain blueberry interplay with exotic spices, coastal forest floor, and dried flower petals on the fragrant nose. The wine finishes with raspberries, dried cranberries, and lingering earthy plum. Pair with grilled filet mignon, grilled portobellos or roasted wild salmon ($30).

Photo Courtesy Benton-Lane Winery

Elk Cove, Oregon

More wonderful wine from the Willamette Valley! Elk Cove’s 2020 estate pinot noir sports generous cherry fruit, dried herbs and five spice powder on the nose. Bright and earthy, its flavors of raspberry and black currant are layered with dusty, almost gritty tannins and notes of rhubarb and black pepper ($32). Note that the brand produces myriad excellent varietals worth exploring.


The VinGardeValise

Whether Dad is going away for a long weekend or coming back from a winery, he’ll love knowing that his favorite bottles of wine are along for the ride — and safe from breakage. The VinGardeValise by FlyWithWine is a line of tough suitcases that are gentle on glass, thanks to dense foam inserts created to cradle wine bottles. The VinGardeValise Piccolo doubles as an airline carry-on piece of luggage or as a checked wine travel case storing up to 5-bottles of wine with room for your clothes ($279). Available on the website or Amazon.

Photo Courtesy VinGardeValise

BUY WINES: Online at each winery; Spec’s; HEB; Total Wine & MoreHouston Wine Merchant (note: the latter will order wines if they don’t carry it and can locate it).

This story is dedicated to our late editor-in-chief Julie Tereshchuk who loved to travel and would have enjoyed these beautiful wine regions.

Cover Photo Credit Cheryl Juetten

 Robin Barr Sussman ( is a freelance culinary and travel writer who studied at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone, Calif. As a chef for Sonoma County wineries, her specialty was food and wine pairing. Sussman is a columnist for Houston Modern Luxury Magazine, Houston CityBook, Prime Living and Houston House & Home. Her work also appears in Texas Monthly, Fodor’s and Private Clubs Magazine