The berry people are out, bacon sales are on the uptick and harvest widows (and widowers) are girding themselves for vintage 2012.
The berry people's numbers have been growing for the past few weeks. You see them mostly on back roads, picking the wild blackberries that grow on prickly tangled vines along the streambeds. Early in the season it's tricky finding the ripe berries, because even if they've darkened, they can be tart, as in mouth-puckeringly supersour. Those who prefer riper berries wait.
Napa Valley's Pine Ridge Vineyards has recently made some of its best wines in years, and the 30-plus-year-old winery could be on the path to making even better California Cabernets and more.
If you've noticed a proliferation of highly rated Napa Cabernets, here's one reason why: The subdivision of Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard in Oakville has become the source of more and more Cabernets and, consequently, more and more highly rated wines.
Stag's Leap Wine Cellars has cleaned up its cellar.
After nearly a decade of mediocre red wines, many flawed by the spoilage yeast brettanomyces, the owners of this once prominent Napa Valley winery have released the first vintage of what seem to be clean, complex Cabernets.
I've been surprised, though perhaps I shouldn't have been.
When I travel, the most frequent question I'm asked by friends is, "How is the wine business doing?" People seem genuinely interested knowing that I'm immersed in it.
My standard reply is that the wine economy more or less mirrors that of the U.S. economy. Some areas of the market are strong. Others are weak. The economy as a whole seems to be improving, if not as strongly as the California wine industry has been (value wines—including the improving category of box wines—inevitably bolster the wine market when the economy is down).