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james laube's wine flights archive

Photo by: Greg Gorman
James Laube

August 2012

The Return of the Berry People
Labor Day weekend brings out Napa's wild berry pickers and tomato lovers
Posted: Aug 31, 2012 12:30pm ET

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.

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Another Napa Veteran Is Ripe for a Turnaround
Pine Ridge Vineyards' latest offerings are some of the winery's best in years
Posted: Aug 29, 2012 12:30pm ET

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.

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Will the Number of Outstanding Napa Cabernets Ever Stop Growing?
If recent trends continue, not for a very long time. And here's why
Posted: Aug 24, 2012 12:30pm ET

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.

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Stag's Leap Cleans Up
After a decade of mediocre wines, a turnaround
Posted: Aug 22, 2012 10:30am ET

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.

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Tastes Change, but Wine Surprises Never Cease
The California wine industry is doing well, all things considered, thanks in part to American wine lovers' enthusiasm for trying new things
Posted: Aug 2, 2012 2:30pm ET

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).

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