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The Regions – Way Back In {July}

September 28, 2011 The Regions 1 Comment
The Regions – Way Back In {July}

So things change in a few month’s time.

We moved… again, into a different beach place much like the old beach place one (small first floor of a two-story house with a yard). Our friends vacated it when they moved to China for a year to check that out. It was a killer deal, so we packed up and came a few miles north.

… Continue Reading

Pfendler – On the Roof of Petaluma

September 8, 2011 Fifty-Two Weeks 1 Comment
Pfendler – On the Roof of Petaluma

Two months earlier it seemed like a good idea. Now, it was our honeymoon.

When I agreed to visit a winery for a future story in the middle of this once in a lifetime event, I thought it a rather cleaver scheme. “She won’t mind going, she has fun at these things too,” I reasoned with myself as I emailed our confirmation. I had even scheduled the appointment for mid-afternoon so we wouldn’t be needlessly rushed early in the day. I was, I thought, a rather considerate guy, and after all, it would probably be romantic, a cute story we would one day tell our children or our Beagle at least.

As the clock closed in on departure time and we reluctantly started to get ready, I began to rethink the brilliance of my plan. After we both agreed that we “shouldn’t stay overly long (it was our honeymoon after all),” we left our cozy vineyard cottage and fireplace in Kenwood, just off of Highway 12 and headed east.

It was a crisp and beautiful January day as we headed the back way into Petaluma. … Continue Reading

The Regions – Monterey {May}

June 28, 2011 The Regions Comments Off
The Regions – Monterey {May}

Fly-over country. I had never heard the term until a winemaker I met used it in a conversation last year. It went something like: “they like good wine in fly-over country too, in Iowa, and Ohio, and other places.”

The term “fly-over country” means exactly what it sounds like, those stretches of the Country we have all flown over to get somewhere else, say New York (or Los Angeles if you come the other way). It is a sad phrase, but an accurate description of many Americans’ traveling patterns. For many of us, we have “seen” the Midwest only from 30,000′ at 500pmh. Sorry Iowa, I do like those giant green blocks your State is made up of though.

But California has its own “fly-over” wine regions too, except here we drive by them at 80mph. None of these areas stand out to me more than Monterey County. While Lodi or even the Sierra Foothills can claim their own right to the designation “drive-by wine region” (particularly the Sierra Foothills), no place seems more fitting to me than Monterey. … Continue Reading

Millennials – Things They Actually Say II: Jennifer Thomson

May 25, 2011 The Press 3 Comments
Millennials – Things They Actually Say II: Jennifer Thomson

Today, we continue with our mini-series of conversations with Millennials. With so much chatter surrounding what young wine drinkers do and do not want, it is important to take a moment and actually listen to what they are saying.

Part I is here and the kick off article is here.

I came across Jennifer Thomson by way of Peter Hunken at Black Sheep Finds. Peter produces a wonderful Pinot Noir from the Thomson’s Carneros vineyard and he spoke highly of them. He told me in part… “the people we work with, the Thomsons, they’re super nice and even though they are 350 miles away I probably have more communication with them, because they are owners and growers. So it’s just a really nice fit, a nice feel.”

So when I found their Twitter account (@ThomsonVyrds) I was happy to follow. A few weeks later my friends and I were at Hollywood Forever, a cemetery in L.A. watching Explosions in the Sky while drinking Black Sheep Finds Pinot. After mentioning this on Twitter, I received a wonderfully nice email from Jennifer Thomson aka “The Millennial Daughter of The Farmer” thanking me for the comments.

We stayed in touch over the following weeks which led me to the following conclusions: … Continue Reading

The Regions – San Luis Obispo & Paso Robles

May 4, 2011 The Regions Comments Off
The Regions – San Luis Obispo & Paso Robles

For March (yes I know it’s May), we moved further North to San Luis Obispo County home of some of the best vineyards in California.

In the extreme south of the County is the Edna Valley, a cool climate paradise that produces brilliant Pinot Noir, crisp Chardonnay, and other gems like Riesling and Gewurztraminer. It is also home to famed producer John Alban and his highly sought after Rhone wines. It is also one of my favorite regions to visit. (Wolff Vineyards, Claiborne & Churchill)

As you continue North on the 101 and over the Questa Grade, the temperatures rise and the vineyards become dominated by Zinfandel, Syrah, Grenache, Rousanne, and a few dozen other Rhone and Bordeuax grapes. Paso Robles, about 30 miles North of San Luis Obispo, has built a name producing wide range of styles and varietals, a fact that is reflected in its diverse group of growers and styles (Tablas Creek, JUSTIN, Barrel 27. A March trip to the area is also detailed here). … Continue Reading

Husch Vineyards – Promise of a New Vintage

March 2, 2011 Fifty-Two Weeks, Mendocino County Comments Off
Husch Vineyards – Promise of a New Vintage

It’s not the destination, it’s the journey…or so they say.

When I decided to take on 52 weeks of California wine last year, I wanted a journey. I expected to go places I had not yet been to and to see things I had not yet imagined. I did both. From windswept hidden vineyards to some of the most iconic establishments in California wine, I have voyaged far and wide. There has been plenty of reward, in experiences, in friendships, in companions, in wine, and so I voyage on into my second year.
Winemakers too have their personal voyages. They come from all walks of life, all corners of culture and background. Some were raised with vineyards and barrel rooms for playgrounds and others stumbled upon winemaking by chance. But the destination can be elusive for winemakers, a moving target, concrete today and eroded tomorrow. … Continue Reading

Black Sheep Finds – By the Will of the People

Black Sheep Finds – By the Will of the People

It is human nature to respect great efforts of time. Be it a work of art, the sculpted beauty of a National Park, or a long overdue title win, we value more so what takes longer to achieve. For those wine enthusiasts with a larger vocabulary than “mmm grapes!” we too value and esteem great efforts of time. We respect the Grand Cru vineyards, the storied Chateau, and even the great vintages. We do so because we respect the time they represent and the effort, determination, and foresight behind them.

This respect of time is evident when considering wine regions and the importance we place upon them. France is the undisputed King of wine and for many it will always be so. It is more difficult and subjective to crown a Queen, but for now, France still has a powerful monarch named Wine and his influence is strong and his dominion wide. … Continue Reading

“The Beginning of the End and One Hell of a Scare” By: Wes Hagen

“The Beginning of the End and One Hell of a Scare” By: Wes Hagen

Today is a good day.  A really, really good day.  I haven’t felt so relaxed in months.  After finishing the longest day of the vintage yesterday I knew that we wouldn’t have to wake up for a 3 am pick this morning, so I initially reserved the right to go out with the crew for a few drinks last night—stay up late and be crazy—like at least 10:00 pm!

But (lo and behold), come 7:18 pm I was man down in our bed, which is a bit later than I have been going to sleep, but not exactly a bedtime that denotes an iron man party-when-I-can mentality.  And I’m OK with that.  I didn’t wake up until after 7 am and those 12 hours of pure and unadulterated sleep were a revelation. … Continue Reading

Alma Rosa – The Valley of Giants

Alma Rosa – The Valley of Giants

How do you measure a man? How do you judge his life’s work? Is it by wealth, by notoriety, the opinions of others? For the banker, is it by the quantity of his assets, or the doctor by the lives he saved? What about the winemaker, is it his vineyard, his winery, his wine?

How do you measure a man?

It is a personal question that is shaped by our social and moral upbringing. Throughout the ages, man has admired men for their bravery, their acts of love, their knowledge, and their art. Each culture sets its own unwritten code of admirable values and accomplishments. Some are genuine accomplishments, while others are pure vanity, like striving after the wind.

They say, show me a man’s friends and I will show you the man, but what of a man’s heroes, his inspirations? I have asked that of winemakers throughout California, “who has inspired you?” There has been inspiration in wine’s rich history, in those who came before. Others find it in their mentors both past and present. Some, in a husband or wife. However, many have told me they find inspiration in a soft-spoken pioneer of grape growing from the Santa Rita Hills, Richard Sanford. … Continue Reading

Sea Smoke Cellars – This Is Sea Smoke

August 26, 2010 Archieves 13 Comments
Sea Smoke Cellars – This Is Sea Smoke

I have seen two of Bob Davids’ homes. One is a gorgeous tropical pavilion in the foothills of Mount Batur, Bali. The other, is a 20′ tow behind trailer perched high on a hillside overlooking his Sta. Rita Hills vineyard. The first I saw on page 68 of August’s Architectural Digest and the latter I saw in person a few weeks ago.

To understand the home in Indonesia, you need to know that Mr. Davids did well for himself as CEO of one of the world’s largest toy companies. To understand the second, the trailer, which seems an odd choice for a man with the ability to live where he pleases, you need to understand the vineyard he planted and what he has accomplished on its wind blown slopes. It is an unlikely home for both Davids and the Pinot Noir grapes he loves.

… 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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