Nice to see Helen Turley land on Page 1 of last Monday's Wall Street Journal (April 7), in Column 1, no less, with her picture above the fold. . . .
Having known her and followed her career since her cellar rat days at Stonegate in the late 1970s, I can tell you she's definitely paid her dues and worked her way up the ladder to the top. . . .
Now with this kind of coverage and exposure, her Marcassin Chardonnays, which retail for $45 but often sell for twice that, will be even tougher to find. . . .
The last time I checked, you could get your name on the Marcassin mailing list's waiting list with about 5,000 other hopefuls and you might begin to be able to buy a few bottles around the year 2000. . . .
While Marcassin's production is still about 400 or so cases, spread out over three different bottlings, volume should grow as Turley's Sonoma Coast vineyard yields more grapes, including Pinot Noir. . . .
ONE PHASE OF the Kendall-Jackson v. Gallo suit is over, with a jury agreeing that Gallo didn't steal K-J's Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay look with its Turning Leaf label and "trade dress" appearance. . . .
In true lawyerly fashion, K-J's owner Jess Jackson has vowed to fight on with another suit and trial, but it seems to me that he's already made some major points even if he didn't technically win. . . .
For starters, is there anyone in this country who's remotely interested in wine who doesn't now know that Turning Leaf is a Gallo wine and that Kendall-Jackson, even at 2 million plus cases, has had its sales momentum clipped? . . .
Getting the kind of widespread media coverage and exposure the trial received may be enough to revive K-J's sales, especially if K-J's assertion that consumers were fooled into thinking Turning Leaf was a K-J spin-off by the alleged similarity in the two bottles' designs. . . .
One clear-cut winner is the humble grape leaf, which jurors and most winemakers agree is a universal symbol for winemuch like a grape cluster is. No one has the right to trademark either. . . .
RUMORS ABOUND THAT Napa's maverick winemaker Jayson Pahlmeyer is closing in on a deal to buy two tiny parcels of Chassagne-Montrachet in Burgundy. . . .
It's an enormously complex deal for a dinky plot of land. If finalized it would make Pahlmeyer the first American I know of to expand winemaking operations from California to Burgundy. . . .
If Pahlmeyer succeeds, he will have defied great odds. The French are quite provincial about who owns their hallowed vineyards, which is one way of saying they're not too keen on foreign investors. . . .
Even if they're not too keen on Yankee investors, they may take the money just the same. . . .
Earlier this year Pahlmeyer paid $1 million for some 100-plus acres of bare land high above Atlas Peak in Napa Valley, where he plans to team up with his winemaking consultant, Helen Turley, for a densely planted vineyard. . . .
A NOTE FROM Mayacamas' Bob Travers regarding my March 31 column on Mayacamas' Men of Words, during which I praised his writing style and newsletter: "Maybe I should have charged for the newsletter and given away the wine" . . . .
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