My good friend Trish is co-hosting a fancy New Year’s Eve party here in Napa. It’s a black-tie affair, with a sit-down dinner for 50, followed by dancing, and if I know Trish, her party will rock til dawn.
The Foley Wine Group has purchased Sebastiani Vineyards, one of the cornerstones of the Sonoma County wine industry for the past century, owner William Foley told Wine Spectator. The family-owned winery, founded in Sonoma in 1904, had been trying to sell its business in recent months, according to Mary Ann Sebastiani Cuneo, one of the principal owners.
What were this year’s biggest wine stories? In just about any otherwise normal year, the passing of a cultural icon such as Robert Mondavi would top the list. And certainly his death in May reminded us of how this legendary vintner shaped our modern wine world.
In the year of weather extremes, add snowfall last night in Northern California winegrowing regions to the list of oddities. Snow is uncommon in most California wine regions (save the Sierra Foothills) and most of the time it’s a light dusting in the hills that adds a visual delight.
From time to time I’m asked by friends, but usually strangers, to size up their wine cellars or a wine collection they inherited. Most of the time I pass, with a polite no thanks, but here's some good advice: open the wines and give them a try.
The glass-half-full crowd thinks this will be a banner year for wine sales, and they’re right. Wines priced in the $7 to $15 range are selling. If they’re good wines, they’re moving fast. I expect that we'll see a continuation of the trend of increased wine consumption among Americans in recent years, and they'll be drinking more domestic wines.
Jeff Ames first crossed paths with us at Wine Spectator 10 years ago, when he applied for a job in our tasting department in San Francisco. We liked his knowledge and passion for wine and even though we didn’t hire him for the assistant tasting coordinator position, we figured he would go on to bigger and better things, which he did.
We editors at Wine Spectator are putting together a global overview of vintage 2008. In California it has appropriately been labeled a year of extremes – drought, hard frost, odd set, staggered ripening, heat spikes at harvest for some grapes and then, when all was said and done, a pretty good vintage in terms of quality.
The office sure smelled good when I walked in this morning. The aromas of mature Cabernet filled the air. Today I’m tasting a flight of 1998 Cabernets, part of an annual exercise to look back at vintage at age 10.
Last night I dined with colleague Tom Matthews at Ken Frank’s transplanted La Toque restaurant, which moved to Napa in September from its former digs in Rutherford. It seems as if Frank’s food keeps getting better.
A “temporarily closed” sign appeared on the door of Copia two weeks ago and on Monday the non-profit cultural center filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The question now: Is this just another chapter in the long Copia saga or is the end finally near? We may learn more on Friday when a judge for the United States Bankruptcy Court in Santa Rosa is scheduled to hear its first motions from Copia’s attorney.
One of California’s true grit Rhône Rangers is turning in his badge and heading for greener pastures. A double whammy slammed Mat Garretson. The wine business was tough enough, but work weeks on the road selling his wines cut sharply into family time.
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