The Coast News Group
Taste of Wine

A wine couple and their twin loves — wine & animals

It’s not often you find someone who can tell you flat out what he loves about life beside his family, and then go about putting those choices together to make the world a better place.

Skip Coomber and his wife Maureen established Coomber Family Ranch in 2009 after a long love affair with

California style Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.  A life-long love of animals also enriched their lives as they built a family together that included a house full of cats and dogs.  “At first we thought it would be fun to include our animals on the label,” Skip said.

“We chose our cats on the Chardonnay, horses on the Pinot Noir and dogs on the Cabernet.  The idea shifted focus to our favorite animal rescue and care facilities that we contribute to with time and money, so we came up with helping these organizations through restaurant sales and consumer sales on our web site.  Five percent of all sales revenue goes to animal welfare organizations. Buyers can name their favorite animal charities, or we provide a name.”

Coomber combs all of California for the finest grapes he can find.

The Central coast has provided him with a central location in Buellton for a custom crush winemaking facility where his wines are produced, plus he provides this facility for others to make their wines, a very efficient way to do business for a smaller operation.  However, the jackpot opportunity for Coomber Family Ranch is his relationship with Andy Beckstoffer, part owner of the To Kalon Vineyards of Oakville in the Napa Valley, considered the crown jewel of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Beckstoffer’s To Kalon Cab grapes have been described in Wine Spectator as “opulent.”

The Coomber 2010 Private Reserve Rutherford Cabernet Sauvginon ($149.), made from To Kalon grapes, was awarded a gold medal at the recent Los Angeles International Wine Competition. To top it off, Wine Enthusiast reviewed this wine and awarded it 95 points, a classic score.

The price range for Coomber wines starts at the 2011 Vintners Collection Chardonnay ($17.99).

It has a natural Chardonnay flavor with a refreshing mouth-feel of golden apple with a mild lemon aroma — definitely new world.

For a limited time, Skip Coomber is offering a 10 percent discount on any of the wines for sale on his web site  Just use the code “MANGIO” at purchase.  The 5 percent to animal organizations will still apply.

Storing and Serving Wines

Storing wines is selective at best.  Most buyers want to buy and consume a bottle of wine all in one magic moment. With white wines, no need to think twice — keep them in the fridge. However, with reds, aging will bring out the flavor and body for peak performance. Cabernets, Syrahs, Malbecs and other French and Italian style reds will blossom in flavor with up to five years of age in storage.

Some other tips include:  store all bottles on their sides so the corks remain moist. Fifty-five degrees is a perfect cellar temperature at the wineries.  The wines will feel at home with this temperature selection.

Keep temperature swings to a minimum and dark if possible. I like a closet or garage for my wine storage coolers.  Sunshine is not wanted in the wine world, when the wines are bottled.

When serving wines, most wine tasters are surprised when I serve my reds at 60 to 64 degrees for brightness and less alcoholic flavor.  Serve white wine at 45 to 50 degrees to bring out the grape flavors and appetizing acidity.

Wine Bytes

Il Fornaio, with locations in Del Mar and Coronado, begins a new series of Festa Regionale featuring a new dinner menu from a special district of Italy.  Starting Jan. 5 through Jan. 25 brings the diner the food and wines of Friuli, a rustic, peasant style of cooking, deliciously presented.   Try the Filetto di Branzino alla Greca, a grilled filet of wild seabass with olives, capers and tomatoes.  For Del Mar, call (858) 755-8876, and in Coronado, phone (619) 437-4911.

San Diego State University is planning a wine immersion trip to Spain, in the Catalonia, Riojo and Basque regions, Oct. 9 to Oct. 17, as part of its Professional Certificate in the Business of Wine program.  This is a private, guided experience in some of Spain’s historic, traditional wine and food regions and a hands-on experience.  There will also be private wine classes daily.  Dining included, everywhere from ancient wine cave to medieval village to modern wine bars.  For more information, email [email protected] or visit

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.  He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web.  View and link up with his columns at  Reach him at [email protected] and follow him on Facebook.