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Dierberg & Star Lane – The Knight of Happy Canyon

Dierberg & Star Lane – The Knight of Happy Canyon

“For what it’s worth, we call our place the “Wine Castle.” Complete with secret passages, orcs, and knights in shining armor (well, rain suits, actually).”

Two weeks ago I wrote about Dave Potter of Municipal Winemakers. A day after I published it, I got the above email from Dave’s friend and fellow winemaker Nick de Luca of Dierberg & Star Lane. He went on to write, “I’m going to have to work really hard to elevate myself from the traditional “marble-halled-chateau” look that Dave so deridingly speaks of.”

Originally, I was scheduled to meet with Nick two weeks earlier, but he had to reschedule on account of the birth of his new baby girl. Her name is Gracie and she is an angel! I know, because the proud father sent me pictures of her, adorable pictures! Gracie is not Nick’s first daughter, just the first human one. The award of the de Luca’s firstborn goes to an eight-year old Coonhound named Bella, who although incredibly lick-happy, recently fought a coyote to the death. Seriously, she did. … Continue Reading

Mondavi, King of the Valley

March 17, 2010 Fifty-Two Weeks, Napa County Comments Off
Mondavi, King of the Valley

I know…I know…Mondavi is probably not the direction you would like to see me going with this project, especially after several posts on family wineries emphasizing environmental sustainability. But, I have my reasons for profiling Mondavi this week.

The first and most important reason is that you cannot talk about the history of California wine without talking about the efforts of Robert Mondavi. Like it or not, the empire he built is one of the key reasons California enjoys the global recognition it has today. The second reason, is one of logistics, like most Internet writers, I have a real job that keeps me quite busy. While I love to publish interviews with winemakers and proprietors as often as possible, I simply cannot visit all of them in person. By the time a profile gets published on the site, there are usually weeks and months of emails and phone conversations that have gone into the article. Winemakers are busy people, and although I have a dozen wineries waiting for their chance to shine, I simply have weeks with gaps in content because interviews have not been completed. This is one of those weeks. I promise some real interviews starting again next week. I will work to keep these kinds of posts to a minimum, but in certain instances like this week, they have their place. … Continue Reading

Chatom Vineyards

Chatom Vineyards

As a boy I spent a lot of time in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. My Grandma, an aunt, and uncle called it home. The Aunt and Uncle still do, Columbia and Oakhurst respectively. My roots are in the Southern California coastal town of Ventura, but when I was five I my family and I moved to a sleepy agricultural town in the Central San Joaquin Valley. The valley is a hell of a place, literally. Hot and dry in the summer, cold and foggy in the winter. I remember playing hide and go seek in open fields using only the blanket of fog for cover. But the mountains on the other hand were glorious. With my sisters, we could pan for fools-gold, fish for small-mouth bass, or feed raccoons grapes. We played in the creeks of my Aunt and Grandmother’s place, marveled at large group of deer, and on evening walks with my father and uncle, I would watch enthralled as a family of quail dashed across the roads and into Manzanita bushes. I played in the snow for the first time, caught my first fish, rode a bike with no hands, and ate my first rattlesnake (long story). The Sierras are a part of who I am and they will always be a second home.

When I was 13, I returned to my coastal home. Once regular visits became infrequent, then stopped. Mid-last year, after an absence of ten years, I returned with my father to visit my aunt. … Continue Reading

Harvesting the Wind, Anaba Wines

Harvesting the Wind, Anaba Wines

Green isn’t always a bad thing as it relates to wine. While a “green” or young wine, maybe unappealing to the palate, a “GREEN” or Eco-friendly wine may even taste better according to some enthusiasts. But what does it mean to be “GREEN” in the wine industry today? The sustainability movement in vineyard management is it’s self a green or young development. Regulators are still wrestling with “organic” and “sustainable” classifications. What makes a vineyard “organic” or “sustainable”? The movement is still in barrel, waiting to be bottled, and consumed by the masses so to speak. Yet, winery after winery marches forward into the green frontier. But, are they not really marching backwards, rediscovering the roots of their trade?

Wine is one of man’s oldest carnal pleasures and passions. From Bible times until present, a good glass of wine has brought joy to the soul and even health benefits. In comparison to the centuries of wine cultivation by organic means, modern farming techniques such as tractors, the use of chemicals to control pests, and even bioengineering, have played a small role. The Israelites of ye’ olde were not exactly rolling around in a King David 4000 (patent pending) spraying for mealy bugs. They were by default “organic” and therefore “green” operations. So it should be no surprise that wine can be made and in fact very good wine, with a much smaller impact on the environment around it. … Continue Reading

{Archives}

Bonny Doon: Day of the Doon IX {Photo Essay}

September 22, 2011

Bonny Doon: Day of the Doon IX {Photo Essay}

We have grown rather accustomed to long trips for short stays, so much so that a 500 mile weekend is not such a big deal anymore. There are a lot of events we are invited to and we can only attend a few of them. But when Randall Graham asks you to attend, you attend. [...]

Secret Project {the reveal}

August 17, 2011

Secret Project {the reveal}

A few weeks ago I posted the “Secret Project” with some shots of  a friend’s new winery taking shape. At the time, the space was still in a raw state, holes in the ground, bare walls, cut concrete. In terms of photographing a new winery, one might say there was not much to see, no [...]

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