Labor Day Weekend used to be different. It once signaled the start of the wine grape harvest in Napa and Sonoma, but some folks are already knee-deep in this year’s grape stomp. Labor Day used to be the end of summer, as in the last day for kiddies to frolic in the lake or pool before dusting off their lunch pails and heading back to class.
Ed Anderson was beaming. As he accepted congratulations for winning Mac and Lil’s Greens Cook-off on Saturday in the Russian River Valley, a young couple filming the event for a documentary approached me to discuss how the entrées paired with the wines.
I like the idea of placing heat strips on wine bottles, which would turn a color (red?) if wine rose above a certain temperature, say, 75 degrees. It’s like the Coors Light strip—the one that turns blue once the beer is cold enough to drink—only the opposite.
While helping my friend reorganize her cellar this summer, we discussed whether she should sell her older wines. I didn’t mention this option in my column or blog because she decided—and I agreed—that she shouldn’t sell any wines that we thought might be past their prime.
Catalina Island, a popular summer vacation destination some 20 miles from Los Angeles, has its first vineyard: El Rancho Escondido. With a little luck, wine will be produced there in three years. Geoff Rusack and Alison Wrigley Rusack, owners of Rusack , a small winery in Santa Barbara, are the proprietors.
On my way home from Mendocino on Sunday, I paid a brief visit to Vern and Maxine Boltz’s Toulouse Vineyard in Philo, a tiny hamlet in Anderson Valley. It seems as if every time I pass thorough this beautiful valley, someone says Anderson Valley is coming of age, and this time that message came from Vern.
Pacific Star Winery (www.pacificstarwinery.com) isn’t at the end of the world, but it’s on the edge, situated about as close to the water as a winery can get. This tiny winery in Mendocino is located on the rugged Pacific Ocean coastline, on Hwy.
The winery was off to a fantastic start. It had a great and distinctive vineyard site, rich, opulent wines and an enthusiastic fan base—one of those "sky is the limit" storylines. Then something happened.
Yesterday, amid a nightmarish run of bad corks in a flight of 1997 Napa Valley Cabernets we were tasting in the office, we coined what, for us, is a new phrase to describe an odd malady—a wine that’s "double-corked.
Elinor Travers, of Mayacamas Vineyard in Napa Valley, died June 1 after a courageous battle with cancer. She was 69 and well-known in the wine business, though both she and her husband, Bob, kept a low profile.
The annual Vine Village wine auction and fund-raiser was held Friday night at the Chardonnay Golf Course in Napa. It was one of those feel-good events that left everyone with a smile on their face. This low-key affair brings together a wide range of people, including some of Napa's top winemakers, who want to help Vine Village—a community of people with developmental disabilities such as Down’s Syndrome—help itself.
Philippe Melka parked his burnt-orange Honda Element outside my office the other day and retrieved a Styrofoam-lined cardboard box filled with wine samples for us to taste together. The French-born winemaker has worked in Napa Valley for nearly 15 years, and with 12 (or is it 13?) clients spread throughout Napa and Sonoma counties, he's a busy man in great demand.
Following yesterday's blog , I have some more thoughts on California Cabernet. Specifically the 2004 vintage: The quality surprised me. Pleasantly, I might add. When I first formally reviewed the wines out of barrel two years ago, I liked them and thought 2004 would be an excellent year, based on the growing season, etc.
We’re putting the final touches on our annual Cabernet report, which will appear in the Nov. 15 issue of the magazine. To produce this report, we’ve tasted more than 600 wines (many twice) in the past year, and nearly 100 more for retrospective tastings of older vintages.
Initial harvest reports released before and after the grapes are picked are almost exclusively based on analysis from winemakers and grapegrowers. During this time, it's important for readers to remember that when they hear a vintage is "the best vintage ever," it's the winemakers talking.
Subtle hints of change were evident this past weekend in Napa. It was as if autumn was sneaking into our midsummer weather. In the vineyards the red-wine grapes are gaining color. As I biked through Carneros on Saturday, most of the Pinot Noir grapes had turned from green to black—a process known as veraison.
As wineries try to keep a lid on prices—and at the same time aim for good-quality wines—many turn to the California appellation, and that’s often a good thing. Blending grapes from multiple appellations makes sense, whether it’s for single varietals, such as Zinfandel or Sauvignon Blanc, or more diverse wines, such as Rhone-inspired reds.
Had I known yesterday that I’d be in Angwin at dawn today, I would have tried to make a breakfast date with Randy Dunn: the winemaker and owner of Dunn Vineyards lives in this Howell Mountain hamlet.
High-alcohol wines are controversial. But blaming critics, or even worse, consumers for buying and enjoying these wines misses the mark. That’s why I find Randy Dunn ’s recent letter ( below ) baffling: Sent to various media outlets and others in the wine industry last week, the letter urges consumers to, in effect, stop drinking wines they apparently like.
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