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Jordan – Where The Wild Things Are

June 23, 2010 Fifty-Two Weeks 1 Comment
Jordan – Where The Wild Things Are

Big ships turn slowly so the adage goes. The wine industry once took hundreds of years to see significant changes and as such longevity was valued over agility. In recent decades, change has come with increasing speed, testing how quickly wineries both large and small can respond in uncertain times.

Starting in the late 70′s and building throughout the 80′s and 90′s, the influence of wine critics shaped perceptions, palates, and some winemaker’s styles (whether they admit that or not). While some of the styles in wine changed, much of the marketing remained the same, with a handful of big publications like Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and The Wine Advocate serving as the leading critical voices in American wine.

The mid 2000′s saw the addition of wine blogs like Alder Yarrow’s Vinography, which helped to shorten the time it took to publish a critique from weeks or months to days if not hours. A Critic could now share an opinion almost instantly, which was then easily spread from blog to blog and forum to forum. … Continue Reading

Municipal Winemakers – And the Man Who Is Better than You

March 24, 2010 Fifty-Two Weeks 6 Comments
Municipal Winemakers – And the Man Who Is Better than You

“I am pretty sure that most of you reading this are in fact not good enough to buy our wine.”

Dave Potter made the above statement in response to a Wine Spectator article calling his 2008 Bright White Riesling “A California White With No Need for Pretense”.  “Au contraire!” Dave fired back, “I would like to point out that the Municipal Winemakers do have a great disdain for all that are beneath us (aka not Awesome).”

After just a few moments on Municipal Winemakers’ website, you realize that it isn’t business as usual for the Santa Barbara winemaker. There is not a Chateau to be found, neither oak tree, or regal men smoking pipes. There are however, pigs in uniform and Tom Cruise adorned in 80’s shades. The site includes a few professional reviews, well…sort of. Tron Guy, who found his own Internet fame after fashioning himself an outfit modeled after the 80′s sci-fi cult classic: Tron (which is being re-released this December by Disney), was approached by Dave to review a few of the Municipal Winemakers’ wines. See Tron Guy here. … 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

Santa Barbara Winery, The Fight For A Name

Santa Barbara Winery, The Fight For A Name

For the first time in 16 years, sales of California wine were down in 2009. It would be easy to assume the economic downturn was to blame, but sales of wine across the US were up 2.1%. On the other hand, sales of wines produced in California were down 4%. There have been similar trends in liquor sales across the US, with bargain brands up and luxury brands down in sales. The furloughed and unemployed masses are reaching for a different kind of stimulus package, and a cheaper one at that. In California, many wines at the high end suffered losses while bargain brands and cheap imports soared. Americans are drinking more wine, just not more of their own.

In wine shops all over the world, the rally cry is “bargain, Bargain, BARGAIN”! Consumers are demanding more for less and getting it. It could be argued that many California wineries have backed themselves into a corner, enjoying year after year of success selling the kingly-wines of Napa Valley and elsewhere for kingly-prices. February’s Wine Spectator offered their annual overview of wine pricing. The average price of a California Cabernet sampled in 2009 out of some 585 was $119.00, even though 66% of those wines scored 89 points or less (just over a quarter scored 84 points or less) on the Wine Spectator 100 point scale. The market is adjusting itself as other industries like housing have. Personally, I would say: serves them right. … Continue Reading

Carr Winery

Carr Winery

The exterior of Carr Winery is similar to that of its owner’s: surprising. The building has more in common with an old airplane hanger than a winery. Located in an industrial section of downtown Santa Barbara, the white domed building sits amongst auto shops, industrial warehouses, and even a brewery. However, what you find inside is unexpected and beautiful. The dim lighting of the tasting bar provides an atmosphere reminiscent of a neighborhood tavern, and in many ways it is, as it plays host regularly to live bands and parties. In the back, stacks of barrels rise dramatically towards the high curved ceilings. A large stainless steel winepress sits in the corner.

In a similar way, Ryan Carr caught me off-guard. He towered over me (OK, at 5’8″ that’s not that hard to do, but still) as he came out to greet me. But Ryan, the man who owns his own label and manages several vineyards for others is also a young man. Now, while I am not going to say that, Ryan is also unexpected and beautiful; because that just sounds wrong and like I said, he is way bigger than me, I will say his deep knowledge of vineyard management, wine production, and marketing was very impressive. I get this reaction a lot myself, being the gentlemen scholar I am at such a tender age. … 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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