Bubbly Wine,Marketing,Sparkling,Wine,Winery

The Bubbles of Summer all year long

Randy Arnold of Barefoot Cellars… He’s one of those people who you work with for a few months, and then he impacts your life forever.

[This image of Randy Arnold is borrowed from the Website of Barefoot Wines.]

Randy Celebrating 25 Years With Barefoot Cellars

With Barefoot, Randy Arnold’s been there since the beginning. In 2001, we met, and I began to work with him, while we both sold Barefoot Wines. Randy was the national sales manager. I was given Northern California to manage. It was Randy who trained me, driving me from one account to the other, merrily laughing all the way to the next stop. I’m not sure what happens when we get together, except to say that we end up on giggle fests that cleanses my heart and soul.

It’s that easy, familiar, joy that he brings to all that he does, which connected us, as it is with so many others. Years can go by, but when we reconnect, it’s always very special and that’s what just happened.

25 Years And The Changes Are Admirable

Starting with Cause Marketing

Randy was the first person to take me to an event, where a portion of the proceeds would go to a charity. I also don’t remember any other winery being so driven and so connected, in the early 2000s. Randy, a forerunner of a single winery raising money via a small event, off site, is for me one of the leaders of winery “cause marketing.” And, off I went to do them, with him and without him, too. It was fun, because being “Barefoot” is a hoot, right? And people who just want to have fun instantly “get it.”

Do you think that’s why Gallo bought Barefoot, when Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey decided to sell the brand?

  • Perhaps… A new generation has invaded the “most sold wines on earth” family business.
  • Or, Perhaps the marketing was so darned good that they wanted some of that that for their sales team.

Gallo has long had the “best selling technique” school of thought… Ever since they began their Italian family empire.  When you’re that good at what you do, and someone else has some great and more “non-traditional” sales techniques, wouldn’t you want in on it?

A Suisun segue, it’s relevant

Tell you what… Jose and I started working with the Suisun Valley Vintners and Grape Growers in 2003, and have continued (in varying degrees) to this very day. It began with they got when they received government funding, intended for discovering, and then promoting, their unique point of view. We still have a relationship, even though the funding ended after that seven year cycle. Suffice it to say, we collectively found the historical heart and soul of Suisun Valley, and put out their message. — Farmers who were true to their soil and soul, in a (should be) very expensive valley. Should be – at the time – because the western side of the mountain ranges of neighboring Napa cast such a long shadow. So long, in fact, that it was a Rip Van Winkle-land, when we first drove into their neck of the wood’s grape vines.

That had to come to light, or they’d go on forever selling grapes at $300 a ton, while just over the fence, the same vineyard was marked by the financial success of Napa’s fame, or the obscurity of the hill tilting downward into Suisun Valley. I don’t have to tell you which side of the fence got which amount of money for the same grape terroir (land, atmosphere, viticulturist, irrigation, rocks and rolls down the hill sides). And, something had to be done about it, or the people in Suisun Valley could/should just pack up and all go find “another” home. Since no one wanted that to happen, government funds were found. (Well played, gentlemen, well played.)

Someone woke up

I was scared to death, to see what Gallo would turn it into… Just vineyards as far as the eye could see, with no identity?

I was nervous for nothing, absolutely nothing. I just witnessed this with an event that happened in Suisun and there was Gallo, offering a tasting at a site called the Gallo Family Vineyards. Ledgewood Creek used to own that land and building, and now Gallo opened a tasting room door, as … Yup… Gallo, the good neighbor. It was such a joy for me to see, and a lot of it goes right back to my Bubbles of Summer Man, Randy.

New Barefoot Wines

At lunch, we talked about his new company and him becoming Gallo’s Barefoot Guy. Randy said that Gallo liked their marketing so much that it’s been woven into the complete family tapestry… adding the color of youth and altruism.

And, we sipped his new wines through lunch. He had Marissa Odom with him, who’s the field manager on the West Coast of Florida. Ah… Sarasota and Longboat Key. Talk about a great place for Barefoot wines.

Barefoot Cre-TOES:

  • Have fun and keep Barefoot Quirky
  • Don’t stop believe’in
  • Express gratitude
  • Love locally
  • Be inclusive

[Bottle images borrowed from the Barefoot Website.]
Sounds like a blast to me… Always did make sense. Winemaker Jennifer Wall is very serious about making this fun wine. Having a scientific mind led to her thinking that she was going to “become” a medical professional Well, bubbles surely make one feel much better.

As I was told that these wines are deliberately marketed to the Millennials, I couldn’t resist saying, “Yeah, right… they think they invented all the fun.” And, we all laughed, because you can’t be with Randy and not be ready for the laughter. Both wines (with low alcohol) were very easy to enjoy. It just proved to me that having wine doesn’t have to be about grandeur, credential, and being the be-all-to-end-all. We had a blast with these two wines, and anyone looking for a really fun time and loves bubbles is in for a treat.

Barefoot Refresher is a crisp, white spritzer, and that’s where we started. With chatter and ice cubes. I got to marvel that where Marissa was sitting was right where I was 14 years ago. Then we thought, “Randy, you’ve been at it a long time, man.”

Perfectly Pink Spritzer is best over a bed of ice, and took us through our lunch. Having a Chinese Chicken Salad, that was no doubt the best salad I’ve had (Healdsburg Bar and Grill). It made such fun food and wine experience that just became part of the experience, but never forgetting the bottle that we were enjoying.


PR Advice,Wine,Wine Blogger,Wine tasting,Wine Writer

Aren’t I great?

It’s really difficult to promote oneself, which is why PR and marketing companies are chosen to do that task for others. No one can say, “Aren’t I great?” without losing credibility. Find a cheerleader, and your story will reach new heights; brag about yourself and you’re cooked.

My greatest experience in self promotion

In the 1970s, I was an artisan, creating elaborate jewelry. I was told by everyone that the pieces were something to behold. I couldn’t even believe I had created the work, it was like they were being channeled. I was just passing the time and making a few extra dollars. My greatest joy was my young daughter Katie Sunshine, whose birthday it is today, coincidentally.

I never wore any of my jewelry. I either gave it away, or I sold the pieces. The people who bought them just bought them. I didn’t have to defend the pieces, they just sold.

But, one day as I was working the Old Port Festival in Portland, Maine. I saw a good looking woman spot one of my necklaces from across the narrow street. She just about came flying to my table, and grabbed the piece to see it and feel it. I knew she would buy it if I just had a conversation with her and gushed over it, like she felt about it. I couldn’t find the words to self gush. I lost the sale and I knew why. If I had taken the focus off what I had accomplished and just told her how beautiful it would be on her, I would have sold it to her. But, I couldn’t even get past the struggle I was having with my own ego.

The greatest lesson from that experience

I wasn’t good at self promotion. Others would talk about what I had done glowingly, but I couldn’t do that. It’s a personal serious turn-off. In that process, though, I did learn that what I couldn’t do for myself came very easily for me, when it came to other people’s work. I could sell a neighbor’s work that I found especially well made, but didn’t have the words for my own work. They just had to stand on their own merit. Sort of like, “love it or leave it,” I can’t make up your mind for you.

My future became cast in stone

…when I entered the world of public relations. It’s all about the stories; and for me, it’s all about capturing the heart and soul of those for whom I write. I listen to what people are telling me, while I watch body language, listen to voice inflections, find the emotional hot spots, and feel the energy coming from the person (probably the most important part… the energy).

Example of how it works

I just attended a wine tasting at Kick Ranch Vineyard. Owner Richard (Dick) Keenan sells his grapes to many fine wine brands. He’s doing something that’s an almost unheard of thing to do… Disclosing who’s buying his grapes. First and foremost, he’s sharing with other brands; but, also he held a wine tasting, inviting media to come taste all of the wine brands, not just his own. If that isn’t magnanimous enough (because he also makes wine from his own vineyard, so these are competitors), he allowed all of the wine companies to bring any of their “other” wines for tasting, not just  Kick Ranch vineyard wines.

I remember when I was working at Belvedere Winery and I wanted to create “The Company We Keep” list of, all the companies who were buying our grapes. I was told that information was too confidential; and I thought, “What’s to hide? Don’t we all know that we’re judged by the company we keep?”

Tomorrow, I’m going to share two such brands and stories with you from this event. Since the early 1980s, as an interviewer, I tell my own stories with people as I interview them, looking for that common bond. I need some common thread that’s revealed. I not only listen, but I watch in ways that no one understands. My ramblings are intended to bring out something in others… Like heart and soul. If they don’t have it, their eyes wander.


If that person turns to someone else in this process, who’s just arrived and drops our conversation like it wasn’t even happening, we’re done… It becomes a story without an ending.

If you want your story told by an independent writer, be personable and stay with the writer, until that person has enough info and walks away. The “other person” will return, in all probability, and your chance for stories increases exponentially.



Vit 101 ~ 9 ~ Veraison

WARNING: If you’re in the wine business, this is only VIT 101. This blog story has been created for people just learning about vineyards. Please judge accordingly.

Vit 101 ~ 9 ~ Veraison

VIT 101: On June 20, our cluster had absolutely no red pigment coming  into the grapes. Slowly, but surely, the color is now changing its tune as veraison is setting in. The terroir of this vine is unusual.

  1. It’s a volunteer.
  2. It’s against the house, at our front door’s entrance.
  3. It’s protected from most air currents and wind.
  4. So, it’s behind other grape vines that are located in the wide open.

I was reminded of this yesterday as I saw the image of a wine company bringing in Pinot Noir for making sparkling wine. These grapes don’t have the brix to support any such activity… like being tasted with pleasure.


Prefix “ver” – German – to do or to become what the stem intends

“raison” ~ French – reason

“Veraison” is, therefore, the onset of ripening; and, our cluster that we’ve been watching is finally taking that step.

I’ve not color enhanced this at all… You’re seeing the pure coloration to date (July 23, 2015).

My Facebook friend Rita Connor wrote: Rita Conner Beautiful mix of color.

I responded with: Isn’t it, Rita? We’ll now watch it every couple of days. This is a very exciting part of viticulture.

Next week for Friday’s blog, it will be a day-by-day image, showing how time and color sets in.

Facebook Friends

Sean Piper of Napa Vintage Wines: This is Contra Costa old vine, head trained, dry farmed, Zinfandel. Unedited.

Jeff Stai of Twisted Oak Winery: We are in veraison, to different degrees, depending on variety and block. Anywhere from 75 percent for the Tempranillo (which you would expect), to just 10 percent for the Graciano (which always lags).

Others in this series:


VIT 101 ~ 7 ~ Cover Crops

VIT 101 ~ 6 ~ The Vineyard


VIT 101 ~ 4 ~ Bunny Boxes

VIT 101 ~ 3 ~ TENDRILS

VIT 101 ~ 2 ~ VINES and DISEASES

VIT 101 ~ 1 ~ A Perspective



Who Are The Philanthropic Leaders in The Wine Business Fostering Education

Being on the team who worked toward a press release for one of my own clients (The Rubin Family of Wines), with Sonoma State University’s Wine Spectator Learning Center, I was made very aware of who are the philanthropic leaders in the wine business. It came with a few, surprises. Nice ones, to be sure…

Let’s start with how they’re Philanthropic Leaders in The Wine Business… It has to do with education, as my title states. More important to that is that each one of these generous individuals wants highly educated and competent leaders for the wine industry’s future. So, they’re willing to make that investment in human capital. That’s admirable in my book.

Here’s the final list I worked on (as of July 21, 2015), and feel that it’s worth bringing each one to everyone’s attention, because these are some very cool unsung, altruistic heroes.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with many of these companies, and have great respect for both the leaders and their employees.

There was also a major and substantial gift given by the Hamel Family Wines company, that’s worth mentioning. It was created for a professorship, a new position that hadn’t yet existed.

These are our educational leaders, ladies and gentlemen, of the wine business. They care about you and about the future of our wine business. According to Ray Johnson, director of the Wine Business Institute, “Plans for the new Wine Spectator Learning Center have been influenced by the Institute’s mission to provide transformational learning experiences for its students and the wine industry.”

Construction on the new Wine Spectator Learning Center is expected to begin in 2016 and the doors will be open for classes in early 2017.  For more information about the Wine Spectator Learning Center or for information about making a contribution please contact Jessica Pozzi, Jessica.pozzi@sonoma.edu, or 707-664-3347.

Are you one of these unsung heroes?


Marketing,Wine,Wine Blogger

Social media marketing requests are stepping up their game

I’ve been big on posting the latest pitches from those wanting to get inside wine bloggers’ sites with their own plants. Let this one go down historically as the “best yet” for a social media marketing requests… Perhaps “the best ever,” even. They are noticeably evolving in a more sophisticated pitch.

Am I tempted? No… I have a standard TBNT link that I just send to them. The day someone can give me content for what I just experienced as a wine publicist, this blog is out of business as someone is reading my mind, and it won’t be pretty.

So, the pitch becoming more sophisticated:

Hi Jo,

My name is Blah Blah Blah (name changed, of course) and I’m personally reaching out with an invite to join our … platform. We represent some of the webs most talented social media users and bloggers and it is our job is to connect them with awesome brands that pay top dollar for sponsored posts.

I am getting in touch because your social media profile stood out as an exceptional fit our clients and for the campaigns that we have in the pipeline. If you would be interested in forming a relationship and having us send you sponsored post offers, please create an account on our platform then setup your own rates for posts to your different social networks. We work with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Vine, Blogs and more.

Once your rates are set-up on the platform, we will act as your online agent, finding and negotiating sponsorship offers that are a good fit for your content and that meet your minimum rates. We are an NYC based agency with many opportunities frequently handed down by the local PR firms and advertising agencies.

Please get in touch if you have any questions and I hope to see you on the platform!

Blah Blah Blah
Influencer Development

Company’s name

Also today, this one arrived; which is more traditional, and these guys obviously need to step up their game…

Good day, our client is interested to place a sponsored post on your website LINK. The article that you will be receiving is relevant to your website’s theme. Also, the link included will be a do follow one, wherein it will point to an authority website as well.

Please advice on price.

Thank You,


No company’s name

 Life marches on in the blogosphere.



PR Advice,Public Relations,Wine

The Paradigm Shift in Wine Writing

One of my clients asked Jose and me, “What are your thoughts about this article.” It was called, “Understanding the Paradigm Shift in Wine Writing.” It’s on the Sober Advice From Two Wine Publicists Website.

The lead paragraph:

It seems like the traditional, legacy media is dropping its coverage of wine at a pretty swift pace whether it be a pull back from wine coverage in Chicago, St. Louis or San Francisco. It points to a circumstance that every wine publicist and every wine marketer must accept and embrace: YOU ARE THE DISTRIBUTOR OF WINE JOURNALISM, WHILE THE JOURNALISTS ARE THE CONTENT CREATORS.

I may have unwittingly had a hand in creating this situation, but I think not. I believe I saw it coming as a rare opportunity in time, and grabbed it. Below is my answer to our client.

This is exactly why I started my wine blog  on December 29, 2005, well ahead of the curve.

I had one client who told me, “I love the stories that you write for me. I wish they were on the Web somewhere.”  (The code of ethics regarding plagiarism, and people’s own desire to tell the story, never had anyone just take my stories in entirety. So he felt his “stories” were being lost.)

I saw this coming pulling away of media, even before Web 2.0 was launched. Jose and I had taken a Web class together, and were told About Web 2.0 happening, so I knew before it became public knowledge. Jose may have known it already, as he keeps very current regarding the Web.

Being the first female wine publicist in the world to have a blog had and has its advantages. It’s how I got onto the ground floor of Wine Business’s Web presence and Wine Industry Insider also picked me right up. It’s also why I’m broadly aggregated. I was an early adopter, tired of editors telling me that they needed “an exclusive,” then wasted my time, not needing that “exclusive,” while I wasted valuable time shopping it around to other “might want it” publishers and editors.

With well over 6,000 wine companies in the US and I can’t even imagine the number for the world, I wanted the information that people were hiring me to disseminate done ASAP. I gave editors two weeks to get it out, then I’d launch it on www.wine-blog.org.

This article is more true than ever. It is the truly fortunate who get a smidging of publicity today. Fortunately, I have longevity with those that are established, and I broke through early with the new generation of wine bloggers. For newbies in wine PR, it’s going to be a terrible struggle for a while. They lack history, which will take years to develop. This is why early on, one of my client’s didn’t want any samples to go to any wine writers except the established media, as described by Total Wine & More, an important wine merchant.

Wine merchants STILL ONLY regard fewer than 20 sources as the be all to end all, in my observations and experiences.


Wine,Wine Blogger,Wine Business,Wine Writer

How to monetize your wine blog – seriously

This has been a wine bloggers question since wine blogging began. It’s a topic of conversation both in seminars and outside of them at the annual Wine Blogger Conferences. No one has yet to figure it out, but I now have, after much thought.

I have no such fantasies, by the way, because my wine blog is a personal journey as a wine publicist. I have stories I just want to get out of me… like any kid with a diary. But, there are others who have just started writing about wine, and if this question could be answered for them, they would become eternally grateful and well on their way.

I have a few people that I’ve been discussing this with (behind the scenes) for a very long time… But, no-one has yet to find the answer. It has, however, revealed itself, so I’m going to share. I’m surprised the steps didn’t occur to me sooner. For that, I am regretful. Once I came to the answer, it was a slap on my forehead moment, because…. others have already figured it out.

History First

Storytellers have been writing about wine, since writing was invented. As soon as someone became an expert, that person’s words were revered enough to make money. Magazines and newsletters became the norm.

Fat Forward to 10 Years Ago

Wine magazines had paid staff writers, many of whom had become pretty famous for their stories and tasting opinions. Subscriptions and advertising were essentially paying their salaries, as their stature grew. And newspaper people… Those who left newspapers, for one reason or another, began to emerge as having their own publications. This included newsletters among their followers; people who respected them and still wanted to read what they had to say about wines they had tasted.

These people are still very influential for wine sales

As much as wine bloggers hate to hear this one, believing that the immediate W.2 responses made their opinions as important as any well established wine writer, it’s ten years later.Wines sales marketing should be proving that; e.g., Jo Blow on her wine blog just said this about our wine… And that statement would have to be hanging off a shelf as a shelf talker. When that happens, wine bloggers will have arrived. It’s not happened yet.

Check out why Costco has a 90-point system for bringing in wines, as does Bristol Farms, as does Total Wine & More, proudly tout their 90 and 90+ scores via the top wine publication or writers’ names… And those points all come from an established wine magazines, newsletters, or writers who have gone off on their own with established history… Like James Suckling and/or Antonio Galloni, for instance.

The people, who have gone off on their own, all have their own websites now. And, you pay to play, if you want to see their scores.

How to monetize your wine blog – seriously

  1. Follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before you, by becoming famous.
    • Spend the next 10-20 years devoted to your craft (The 10 to 20 year range is because there are some who already have some years invested in their blogs.)
      1. Unfortunately, you don’t have the luxury of your forefathers, who were paid for their passion. Sorry, it’s a brave new world, and we bloggers are responsible for that.
      2. Find a job in the wine business, because that will quickly give you the history that you need to become well rounded in all aspects of wine.
      3. Become a Master Sommelier. That’s a guaranteed salary and will shoot you to the front of the wine blogging pack.
  2. Once you’re established, you can then charge for a subscription on your wine blog.
  3. If you’re an established wine writer who has a blog, and you’ve also been wondering how to monetize the time and energy it takes to keep up your public persona, get with the subscription program…
    • Establish your ethical code; e.g.,
      • “No clients wines will be reviewed,” for instance, if you don’t have a wine competition (like so many do already), to bring in additional funds.
      • You don’t have to charge anyone to read “parts” of your Website, like those who have stepped into this pool ahead of you
      • If anyone wants to see those reviews, they’ll have to pay to play.
  4. Voila, you’re a star, and you’ve monetized your wine blog.

Another topic as part of this one

Many a writer has had to become a wine blogger, just to keep current:

  • Stephen Tanzer
  • Jancis Robinson
  • Charlie Olken
  • The list goes on for many of them

The difference is that they already had subscriptions established; so if you don’t, get ‘er done ASAP. This will be inspiration for younger writers… If you can do it, so can they, eventually.



Petite Sirah,PS I Love You,Wine

More brewhaha from Andy Bluehaha

No offense, Andy. More Brewhaha and More Bluehaha rhyme. You know how story titles go, to capture people into a story. You have my utmost respect.

The Tasting Panel Magazine with Meridith May (publisher, editor) has been a true champion of Petite Sirah in the past. Today (yesterday as you read this), it was brought to my attention that editor Anthony Dias Blue has just written an editoral on Petite Sirah. As it also happened, my copy also arrived in the mail on Monday. There it was… The Tasting Panel, July 2015 issue. I had already read the story on line, so no surprises… But, to have it in my hand?

The title glaring at me: P.S., I Don’t Get It

by Anthony Dias Blue

Here’s the link:  http://digital.copcomm.com/i/537687-july-2015

  • Look for Andy’s picture.
  • Click on the link for his latest review.
  • I just reminded all of the members of PS I Love You to take a deep breath first, before they read the story.

Personally, I’m not offended, because I’ve come to realize that not everyone likes all things.

  • Andy probably loves foie gras, I HATE it.
  • And, I’ll NEVER like it.
  • Nor, will I ever like fish. (My dad force fed me on Fridays; yeah, it was like that.)
  • We’re each entitled to our own opinions
    • We’re all different

So, Andy, it’s okay, you don’t have to like Petite Sirah. Maybe your dad force fed you Petite as a kid, but you just don’t want to like it? … You’ve blanked it out? It’s okay… I’ve had to blank out a lot, too, about fish. I get it.

I do have one issue, though, as pedigrees go: Petite Sirah is the son of Syrah (Peloursin is the mother). Just as you are as great as your father and mother in production, so is Petite Sirah. I would personally hate to think that we’re lesser in credibility than our dads. In fact, some of us turn out better. You wrote:

“First of all, I am offended by the fact that this garbage grape has by dint of its confected name, tried to trade off the vaunted pedigree of the noble Syrah from which some of the world’s greatest wines are made.”

Here’s how some ancient history has worked, by a father handing down to the next generation. Not to worry, I didn’t have to conjure this one up. I have it saved, because it’s part of my DNA, right down to today, and also includes the Kings of Scot:

Each one ruled, because of DNA nobility, and handing it down… regardless of the mothers’ pedigree.

  1. CHARLEMAGNE (April 2, 742/747/748 – January 28, 814)
    1. PIPPIN THE YOUNGER (c. 714 – September 24, 768)
      1. CHARLES MARTEL (c. 688 – 22 October 741; )
        1. PEPIN II (c. 635 – 16 December 714),
          1. ANSEGISEL (also Ansgise, Ansegus, or Anchises) (c. 602 or 610 – murdered before 679 or 662),
            1. SAINT ARNULF OF METZ (c. 582 – 640)
              1. BODEGISEL (died 585), was a Frankish duke (dux).
                1. MUNDERIC (died 532/3),  Merovingian claimant to the Frankish throne. He was a wealthy nobleman and landowner with vast estates in the region around …

Fun facts that haven’t yet been shared with you:

  • There IS some PS in France, it’s just not pervasive.
    • I have one grower in the Rhone that continually keeps me in his communications, now that he’s planted a Petite vineyard.
    • He’s somewhat furious that the US has the “claim to fame,” taking it away from the French.
    • He’s quite the gentleman, so he’s let it go, but wishes that history could be reversed.
  • Francois Durif wanted a grape to not have powdery mildew (successful on that score); but, Petite Sirah is very prone to bunch rot, because of its very tight clusters. So, with France’s terroir, Petite Sirah could be a disaster there. It’s not really that the French turned their noses down to it. They didn’t want a disaster on their hands.

In closing, you say po-TA-toe, I say po-TAH-toe, and I don’t think any less of you for finally getting that off your chest. As I think about things I like and others don’t, I’m always grateful: It leaves more of that item for those of us whom enjoy what others reject… You get more foie gras and I get more Petite. Fair is fair. Be well, Andy, and enjoy whatever floats your boat in your glass of wine. Cheers.



Petite Sirah,PS I Love You,Wine

Trauma Drama and Obama

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official portrait of US President Barack Obama (Credit: Wikipedia)

Trauma Drama – “PS I Love You has done nothing to educate consumers,” he wrote, when asked to provide content for a Petite Sirah story about to be written. I was aghast.

This is someone who’s closely watched PS I Love You for the last 14 years, and someone who has make some promises, but then has forgotten. His thoughts may go to press, as his perception. My perception is quite different, having actualized and gathered data since 2002.

I respect his right to freedom of speech, and am therefore responding, if it’s going or has already gone to print. Being on record presents the other side of the debate. Facts and figures provide a very clear reality.

Barack Obama – The opportunity to list what’s been accomplished in the last 14 years, is an honor, and we can let history speak the truth. (I feel a bit like President Obama… You read it and think, “What?”)

  • In 2002: There were 62 Growers and Producers combined.
  • In 2015: There are 1,083 Growers and Producers combined.
  • The percent of growth, for wine companies who now dare to make a Petite, is 1,646.77419…%.

Trauma Drama since 2002


  • In 2002: At the First Annual Petite Sirah Symposium, the 30 Growers and Producers who gathered stated, “We need publicity for this variety. We haven’t had any in y-e-a-r-s. Petite Sirah has fallen off the charts with wine writers.”
  • So, we’ve chronicled all stories on Petite Sirah on the PS I Love You Website.
    • 2002 – nine stories are recorded, as soon as we decided to make it happen.
    • 2003 – 20 published stories
    • 2004 – 34 published stories
    • 2005 – 65 published stories
    • 2006 – 45 published stories
    • 2007 – 36 published stories
    • 2008 –  43 published stories
    • 2009 – 41 published stories
    • 2010 – 27 published stories
    • 2011 – 84 published stories
    • 2012 – 62 published stories
    • 2013 – 56 published stories
    • 2014 – 56 published stories
    • 2015 – 12 published stories to date

If these stories were about one single Petite Sirah producer, especially if not a member of PSILY, the story was not recorded.

  • TOTAL stories, over and beyond “nothing” at the time = 581 to date
  • This year has been slight, because the Board of Directors and I stopped querying wine writers.
    • You can see what happens when that activity goes away. We should have twice as many stories by now.
    • That activity went away, because I always work many more hours than what compensation exists, within the budget.

Here’s Petite Sirah grape acreage over the years… With just a little over 11,000 planted in the world now, and nearly 10,000 of them right here in the US:

  1. We are the world leader in Petite Sirah.
  2. Grape vine planting continues a slow and steady climb, as nurseries respond to supply and demand that they see happening, and by reports by agencies who predict what’s popular. I question those agencies’ understanding of what’s really going on. Producers need to push harder, because they love Petite, ask for it, and then turn away when it isn’t in the nurseries.


  1. There are 87,927 Cabernet acres – in the US… Merlot – 45, 296… Zinfandel – 48,638… Pinot Noir – 41, 431… Syrah – 19,019… PS – 9,974
    1. Which variety is going to get the most attention and obvious purchases?
    2. Which ones need no advocacy group, as they’re quite established?
      1. Zin is a new comer in preference, as compared to Cab, Merlot, and Pinot Noir, so ZAP exists.
  2. With only 80 members per year, what would happen if every single wine company that has Petite Sirah actually supported the cause?
    1. From 80 to 1,083… We would soar.
    2. How do I know this? Because it takes money to make money; i.e., grow everyone’s awareness of Petite with ads and more events. Therefore selling more Petite, as this one critic desperately wants.
  3. Events:
    1. WINE INDUSTRY EDUCATION: The Petite Sirah Symposium was sponsored by not only Foppiano for years, but Concannon picked it up and it cost them $30,000/ year to produce. (Annual budget is $78,000/year, and we just break even.)
    2. WINE TRADE The Blue Tooth Tour, for two years: Concannon had a budget of $300,000 the first year for PSILY, and $180,000 for the second year.
    3. CONSUMER EDUCATION: Dark & Delicious now takes awareness to consumers, for the last nine years.

Is the movement growing, based on the facts and figures?

You be the judge.





New Zealand,Wine

Around the Wine World in Eight Days – New Zealand continued

Around the Wine World in Eight Days – New Zealand continued


  • Turkey – Tuesday
  • Chile – Wednesday
  • Argentina – Thursday
  • France – Friday
    1. And we’re taking off the weekend, sightseeing in France
  • Spain – Monday
  • Germany – Tuesday
  • Australia – Wednesday
  • New Zealand – Thursday — and today’s continuation into Friday.


Today is the final day of Around the Wine World in Eight Days. It ran a day over (into a ninth day), because when I was about to continue with New Zealand for yesterday, I realized that the next wines from Murdoch James could just become an after thought… I didn’t want that, because fair is fair. As someone who also sends samples to wine writers, I know the cost involved, and it’s a very big financial commitment. As I said, with five wines yesterday, they took a huge chunk of the story. I want New Zealand to end on a high note, for everyone who trusted me with their samples.

It’s also a lovely ending to a massive project that I decided to undertake. I’m still trying to figure out why I didn’t see its magnitude ahead of time. I’ve come to think of it as a self-inflicted education, due to the massiveness of it all. The most significant part of this journey… The saying “last, but not least” has never meant more to me. With this particular story, I found myself…

My soul is singing, because I could so identify with this one. The gods gave me true. And, it’s not the first time. For a year, Mills Reef in the Hawkes Bay region, entrusted me with their Public Relations. Tim Preston was touring the United States, so we set up meetings with wine writers along his travels route. When I met the Preston family (at the end of his tour), I met some of the loveliest people I had ever met. They came bearing gifts; they stole my heart. Now, after producing this story, I believe, more than ever, that leading with my heart on my sleeve (as my grandmother so aptly accused me) is the way to go, if the people I’ve now been observing from New Zealand are any example.

I’m also going to leave you with a video at the end of this one, on sustainability, because the entire world could borrow a chapter in this playbook. The New Zealanders can teach humanity a thing or two. Yesterday I wrote what James Milton, founder, viticulturist, winemaker for Milton Estates had to say… The video allows you see him, and many others, chanting with one unified voice for sustainability.

I live as sustainably as I possibly can… Not just when people are watching, as was stated in a video about New Zealand that I watched; but every moment of everything I do. And, so does New Zealand. I don’t want this to sound preachy, so if you’re interpreting it this way, please rethink that. Be inspired, because our earth is so fragile and time is so short to save this world for our grandchildren’s grandchildren. The people of New Zealand live and work this way. We can trust their wines, if we are wanting to make a difference and leave the world a better place than we found it. It’s “like minded” wine, for you fellow naturalists.

Murdoch James

2014 Murdoch James Estate Pinot Gris

This Pinot Gris is really lovely, and brought back all of the Oregon Pinot Gris Symposiums that I organized for Oak Knoll Winery, a few years ago.  At that time, I got to study Pinot Gris (and Pinot Grigio), its many styles, and what foods would pair well with each. These food and wine pairings are based on my own experiences with food…. Isn’t that the same for us all? This New Zealand Pinot Gris is more in the style of a cross between an Alsatian Pinot Gris and one from Oregon. Alsace is more round for me, Oregon is more lean than a French one, and the one from New Zealand seems to be somewhere in the middle of the other two, if that’s even possible. It has to do with terroir, I’m convinced of it. Beautifully round in texture, delicate yellow plums for flavor, and a silky finish. This is a truly refreshing wine that I’d enjoy with a chicken stir-fry with lots of vegetables in a plum sauce… Yellow plums.

2014 Murdoch James Estate Sauvignon Blanc

This is a really friendly Sauvignon Blanc. Not littered with tons of MMB (3-Mercapto-3-methylbutan-1-ol), the chemical ingredient that makes Sauvignon Blanc resemble aromas of something that exists in our pet cat’s litter box. I have a hard time with this aroma, because it tends to dominate in not only the nose, but then also the palate… It’s not my favorite experience in wine, but I DO love Sauvignon Blanc wines. The winemaking techniques and terroir have allowed just a hint in this wine, with tons of white grapefruit dominating and in the lead role. If I were into lots of cheese, this one would help to cut through the creaminess, balancing the food and wine pairing. Delicious, really delicious and refreshing on this summer afternoon. Go for it!


2013 Murdoch James Estate Pinot Noir

The color of rose colored glasses, when a line of glasses would be poured at a pre-wine event. I cam imagine the image.  The color and level of transparency tell will tell us all that this Pinot  is delicate. I shot this image with my Nikon, with the Riedel Master Somm glass while it’s laying on its side, with a shot of the the Estate Pinot in it. This 2014 vintage is still very young and the tannins are present, so get ready to have something creamy, while enjoying this wine… With today’s rain, I’m thinking a creamy dill quinoa.  I enjoyed the rose petals of this one, as I drifted toward the the High Block. I recommended this one for simple flavored dishes. I try to eat simply, so you know that this one is right up my alley.

2013 Murdoch James High Block

Rich plum on the nose, this one is going to be very juicy, before even tasting it. I wasn’t disappointed. The colors of the two Pinots are very inviting, with the Estate being a bit lighter in body, and the High Block being more rich in overall depth; it’s a fun study in wine color and its richness. When I want a Pinot Noir for just sipping and enjoying it, this is the style. It has remembrances of many Russian River Pinots, with its depth of terroir showing. Single blocks are a true gifts, when we can get our hands on one.  Very delightful, and an amazing way to end this series of Around the Wine World in Eight Days. Perhaps another time, I can run with eight more wine regions. It’s a good snap shot for people curious about starting out, and a great brush-up for me; in some instances also learning a lot along with you.

The Murdoch wines were well worth the wait for me, to create a ninth day, truth be told. To wait just one more day to taste the focus and integrity of these four wines? De-luscious…