Event,Food and Wine,Napa,Wine,Wne and Food


From a press release, which I highly recommend. When I saw Joyce Goldstein’s name, I knew that it’s going to be a home run…


The Bay Area was the epicenter of the first generation of influential female chefs in America. Join us for an evening as we celebrate the trailblazers in food, beverage, and hospitality who paved the way for today’s new wave of phenoms. The evening includes a pre-panel sparkling wine reception, panel discussion with culinary luminaries, and post-panel walk-around reception in Copia’s Hestan Kitchen.


F R I D A Y , A U G U S T 3


5:00 p.m. | Bubbles and Book Signing with “Wine Country Women of Napa Valley”
6:00 p.m. | Film Screening: “A Fine Line”
7:15 p.m. | Panel: Women! Trailblazers & The New Wave
8:15 p.m. | Walk-Around Reception featuring food and wine by NorCal women


Joanna James, Filmmaker, “A Fine Line”
Pauline Lhote, Director of Winemaking, Domaine Chandon
Ana Diogo-Draper, Director of Winemaking, Artesa Vineyards and Winery
Tanya Holland, Executive Chef and Owner, Brown Sugar Kitchen
Elizabeth Binder, Executive Chef and Owner, Hand-Crafted Catering
Joyce Goldstein, Chef, Author and Restaurant Consultant
Moderator: Maryam Ahmed, Public Programs, CIA
Introduction by Anne Girvin, Strategic Marketing, CIA

The August Conversations at Copia is presented by The Culinary Institute of America, Wine Country Women, and Napa Valley Film Festival. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch.


Cabernet Sauvignon,Paso Robles,Wine,Wine of the Week

Paso and Parish Family Vineyards

When I was at Wine Business’ Vineyard Economic Symposium, one of my important take-aways was the following:

The Paso Robles AVA is a possible place to consider, when wanting to invest. These investors, however, are always looking for Napa Valley Cabernet, first and foremost. They aren’t ready for an all in, throwing caution to the wind with other regions. Sonoma County is their default number two choice; and they’re cautiously open to other emerging AVAs. Paso did come up as one of the emerging.

(Smart thinking guys, you might want to also get out and taste the wines, just for perspective. You might even get ahead of the investing curve, by developing a sommelier’s palate, if that hasn’t happened, yet.)

It’s a double edged sword for any place still emerging, including Paso. That’s because, as with all things, happy/sad applies. Serious investors (which this conference room had plenty) are looking for companies going out of business for one reason or another. The point is that Paso is investment worthy. With many investors working for public companies, the human element is not as important as their investors’ expectations for investment rewards. Quick returns keep the board of directors happy. So, it will still be a while for Paso Robles.

When I tasted the Parrish Family Vineyard Cabernet, I was looking at what an investor would be expecting from California, since I had recently just returned from the above symposium… Great wine for the money, people. And, Parish Family Vineyards has a glorious Cab. This one, if ever on a wine list, I’m all in. I’d happily order their Cabernet to pair up with a Tri-Tip or from any other food demanding a great big, darkly colored, berry flavored wine with that touch of tobacco and firm tannins. Simply Delicious, and I’d be happy to order it from any wine list when I want a great big, darkly colored berry flavored wine, with that touch of tobacco, and firm tannins… Really Paso Juicy Delicious.

2013 Parrish Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

HEART ~ Parrish Family

FROM THEIR website: The Parrish family has deeps roots in the Atascadero and Paso Robles area. When EG Lewis purchased 27,000 acres in the area, he wanted to create an Utopian community based on agricultural sustainability. This is where our heritage begins. Lewis connected with Earl Henderson and asked him to manage the area for wine grape production. Henderson is grandfather to the Parrishes.

SCIENCE ~ Terroir

FROM THEIR website: In 1995, David Parrish purposefully designed his own trellis system to produce a distinctive and complex wine grape in the Central California wine region. The Parrish Family vineyard was planted on 40 acres with 100% Cabernet. This unique vineyard consists of four different clones of Cabernet grafted onto two different rootstocks. The terrain of the Parrish Family vineyard is unique to the region due to its location and the influence of the cool evening coastal breezes and the warm daytime temperatures. The soil is granite with high calcium, which produces beautiful color and flavor for the wine.

SOUL ~ Abundance

Swirl… The 2013 Parrish Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve has a color consistent with its rich, inky color of black ruby.

Sniff… So yummy I wanted to gulp it, just for the heck of it, because it was that inviting. Tannins had softened, so the cottoniness was gone, but not forgotten.

Sip… As I said above… There’s a lot of great wine in this bottle. It’s a great big, darkly colored, berry flavored wine, with that touch of tobacco and firm tannins. Simply Delicious, and I’ll be happy to order the Parrish Family Cabernets from any wine list, when I want a great big, berry flavored wine, with that touch of cigar box, and firm tannins in a Cab…




Karen MacNeil’s The Wine Bible ~ Should Be in Everyone’s Wine Book Library

[PHOTO: from Karen MacNeil’s Website]

I got my The Wine Bible, long before I began reviewing wine books. The copyright on my copy of this book is from 2001. Once I started reviewing books, it didn’t occur to me to go backwards in my amazing  and developing library for any books already collected.

But, every time I get Karen MacNeil’s weekly newsletter, I feel the void of not having written something about this important body of work, from one of wine country’s most prominent wine writers…

The first book I ever reviewed was in 2006, from Kevin Zraly (five years after Karen’s release). It was “9/11 ~ No Degrees of Separation for Kevin Zraly, yet the beat must go on.” That was a life changing event for anyone alive during that time, and my focus began to include wine books. Asked to attend a wine tasting and book signing from Elliot Mackey of San Francisco’s Wine Appreciation Guild… While there…

As Kevin Zraly inscribed his book to me, we talked about the fact that I had a loss in my family, and he told me he had lost his entire family. The quiet of his gentle, sweet nature counter balanced the evil of those who participated in this paradigm shift upon humanity.

Kevin wrote, “Wishing you peace.” That bespeaks how he’s moved forward, one kind step at a time. Kevin’s book now has sold over 2 million copies [as of 2006], and is the number one best-selling wine book of all time. This would mean that we’re all learning a lot about wine from this gentle giant of wine knowledge.

Now we’re here, so many years later from when Karen MacNeil’s Wine Bible entered my library. And it’s stood the test of time as a very important addition to my (anyone’s, honestly) wine library. Her newsletters arrives each week, into my E-Mail inbox. It’s always great advice for anyone looking for a new wine worthy of purchasing, like this newest one from Karen:

DOMAINE WEINBACH Riesling “Cuvée Theo” 2015 

(Alsace, France) $39​

The first thing to know about Alsace riesling is that it’s not German riesling. In fact, in some ways, it’s the polar opposite—yang to Germany’s yin. What I love about it is its sense of profundity. Alsace riesling has gravitas and no wine more so than Domaine Weinbach’s Cuvee Theo, a wine of astounding minerally precision and near atomic density of flavor. It’s both gripping and a wine that holds you in its grip with its powerful beauty. Domaine Weinbach is owned by a mother-daughter team who for decades have made many of the best wines of Alsace. (13% abv)

94 points KM

Available at Vivino.com

In her scholarly tome (932 pages), you’ll find just about anything you’re looking to know, including the following fun examples, just for teasers:

  • Castles in the River
  • Coulée de Sarrant–Model Biodynamics
  • Bottle Sickness
  • America’s First Brandy
  • Frozen Assets

When I came into the wine business (1993), Karen MacNeil’s feet were already firmly planted on the ground, and that’s where they’ve been ever since. For me, she was an inspiration and remains that way. She doesn’t need to write any other books, because this one is a quintessential. If you don’t have The Wine Bible in your library, yet; or know someone who not only loves wine, but also loves learning about wine, it’s a perfect gift.

If you’re even thinking about become a sommelier, do yourself a favor and begin in earnest with The Wine Bible. You’ll become familiar with wine regions of the world. Here’s just a nibble of Anjou-Saumur and Touraine, for instance:

The middle Loire is probably the most fascinating and least well-known part of the valley. This is where the Loire’s best sweet and medium-sweet wines, sparkling wines, and red wines are all made, along with many terrific dry wines and rosés. While several grape varieties are grown, the leading white grape is chenin blanc, the leading red, cabernet franc. (p. 264)

This is a book for all times; mostly, though, it’s a book for right now; if you’re the least bit thirsty for wine knowledge, as well as the liquid manifestations…



Event,Food and Wine,Russian River Valley,Wine,Wine Country,Wine Culture,Wine Ed,Wine Education

World’s Largest BYO Tradition is Coming to Russian River Valley

PHOTO: Andrey Cherkasov

This wine and food event is going to be really delicious; and in the process, you’ll learn all about a Paulée Dinner.

www.lapaulee.com/ ~ La Paulée is a series of events celebrating the wines and winemakers of Burgundy, alternating yearly between New York and San Francisco. The event takes its name from the traditional post-harvest celebration, La Paulée de Meursault, where guests and winemakers bring wines to share with each other.

Russian River Valley Winegrowers (RRVW) are going to be hosting a Paulée Dinner at Sonoma-Cutrer, on August 31, 2018. Paulée is a traditional celebration of harvest where winemakers, growers and friends bring bottles from their personal cellars to share over a family-style meal. This year’s Paulée is going to have a five course planned dinner, with each segment being prepared by a different local chef.

From Press Release:

Russian River Valley Winegrowers to Host Intimate Paulée Dinner under the Stars

This elegant evening of wine and food will begin with a welcome reception. Over 30 Russian River Valley AVA wineries will pour tastes of the region’s coveted Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc. In the spirit of the Paulée tradition—which originated in Burgundy—winemakers, collectors and their guests will also bring a special bottle of wine from their personal cellars to share at this intimate wine country celebration.

“The Russian River Valley Paulée brings together great winemakers with their wines, stories and friends whose love of wine is every bit as rich.” said Rod Berglund, Winemaker of Joseph Swan regarding the RRVW Paulée tradition. “Whether it is wine of legend or only of a special connection, the fact that they are shared with others makes them all special.”

To create a meal worthy of such fine wines, five renowned Russian River Valley chefs were recruited to collaborate on a progressive, multi-course dining experience.

  • The star-studded menu begins with passed appetizers by Estate Chef Kevin Markey of Sonoma-Cutrer
  • followed by a farm-fresh salad course by Chef Steve Litke of Michelin-starred Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant.
  • Epicurean main courses prepared by
    • Chef Tom Schmidt of John Ash
    • and Chef Ben Davies of Russian River Vineyards
  • The culmination of the meal will be a decadent chocolate dessert by patisserie extraordinaire and local favorite, Costeaux French Bakery.

RRVW Board President Giovanni Balistreri said, “The Russian River Valley Paulée is an evening spent under the stars, bonding over world-class wines while enjoying the cuisine of celebrated local chefs.” He went on to say that, “The connections, camaraderie and friendships at this event are every bit as special as the rare and limited wines we will share.”

Over 30 Russian River Valley AVA wineries are confirmed to pour at the event to date, including:

  1. ACORN Winery
  2. Alquimista
  3. Balletto Vineyards
  4. Benovia Winery
  5. Bucher Vineyards
  6. Char Vale Winery
  7. Christopher Creek
  8. Croix Estate
  9. Domaine Della
  10. Dutton Estate Winery
  11. Furthermore Wines
  12. Gamba Vineyards and Winery
  13. Gary Farrell Vineyards and Winery
  14. Davis Family Vineyards
  15. Hartford Family Winery
  16. Jigar Wines
  17. Joseph Swan
  18. Kanzler Vineyards
  19. Korbel
  20. Limerick Lane Cellars
  21. MacPhail Wines
  22. Merriam Vineyards
  23. Paradise Ridge
  24. Patz and Hall Winery
  25. Ramey Wine Cellars
  26. Russian River Vineyards
  27. Selby Winery
  28. Sonoma-Cutrer Winery
  29. Tongue Dancer
  30. Williams Seylem Winery

The Russian River Valley Paulée Dinner celebration would not be possible without the support of the organization’s generous sponsors. Special thanks to American Ag Credit, AXIA Architects, and The Engine is Red.

Tickets are $200. Please visit www.russianrivervalley.org to purchase, and for more information.


Carneros,Event,The Carneros Wine Alliance,Wine

Carneros Cornhole Tournament and Wine Tasting ~ Somewhat from the Madding Crowd


The community is invited to join Carneros wineries, and enjoy a summer evening with a classic tasting of Carneros all-star wines, followed by a lively Cornhole Tournament. All proceeds will be donated to the Carneros and Schell-Vista Fire Departments.

The Carneros Wine Alliance is Hosting

Second Annual Carneros Wine Tasting and Cornhole Tournament.

Saturday, August 11, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

ZD Wines Carneros Estate, 1080 Cuttings Wharf Road, Napa


It’s sounds like a lot of fun… and, oh, those firemen. There isn’t anyone in my neighborhood who doesn’t love these brave public servants, after last October in the North Bay. It’s a private estate, so there’s some sense of agriculture and a bit away from the madding crowd. Plus, who doesn’t love cornhole? The North Bay of California is pretty special, and we know it, since people come from all over the world to visit. And, I know some of you more naturalists like it, when it’s a bit away from complete glitz and glitter.

SaintsburyTickets from the Carneros Wine Alliance are now on sale for at ZD Wines’ Private Carneros Estate, on Cuttings Wharf Road in Napa. The event will start with a delicious wine tasting from Carneros’ very classy members:

  • Artesa
  • Etude
  • LE
  • Poseidon Vineyard
  • ZD Wines
  • Bouchaine
  • Cuvaison
  • Garnet
  • Schug Carneros Estate.


“The ZD Wines Carneros Private Estate and their gorgeous barn are rarely open to the public and provide a stunning backdrop for the perfect summer evening,” said Carla Bosco, Carneros Wine Alliance Board Chair. “Make sure to bring your A-Team, as Carneros is the only AVA that spans between Sonoma and Napa Counties and you can guarantee there will be some lively competition.”

PHOTO: Nipon Temsakun

Tickets are $40 per person and include a walk around wine tasting, a small bite and participation in the Cornhole Tournament. Tickets can be purchased online here.


The Carneros Wine Alliance is a non-profit association of wineries and grape-growers in the Carneros American Viticultural Area (AVA).  Carneros is the bridge between two major wine regions, the Napa and Sonoma Valleys.  A cool-climate appellation influenced by the waters of the San Francisco Bay, Carneros has long been known for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and sparkling wine production.  The Carneros Wine Alliance is committed to promoting the distinction, diversity and above all, quality, of grapes and wines from Carneros.

Tickets: bit.ly/2JCf6L0


Education,Investing,Napa,Oregon,Solano County,Sonoma,Wine,Winery,Wines

The Vineyard Economic Symposium ~ Half a Day’s Worth and I Was Running to My Computer

This is a wine blog, not a trade magazine, so my take of Wine Business Monthly’s ~  Vineyard Economic Symposium ~ is really that of being a fly on the wall, not to get the best investment strategy. The room  was full of economists, not my average American wine clients or audience. I had to really shift my thinking gears. Still, I walked away with “the” variety that these investors all seem to crave, and how it will be done over time.

The New Normal in Wine Country Agland 

Perspective on Vineyard and Land Acquisitions

My clients have their noses to the grindstone, wanting to make artisan wines, as they gently press the juice from each tiny little grape. Today’s audience is concerned with gently squeezing the profit from each investment of vineyard property. Two big concerns were the focus: how to mechanize and buy affordable land that could convert to Cabernet Sauvignon, so their profit margins would be increasing for investors’ bottom lines. The were mostly specialists all, in their own lives, following their own passions. It was great to see a few colleagues and to get some interesting insights, outside of the realm of “Cabernet all the way!” Because, there are always two sides to every story.

This is the Investors’ Story

For investors, I’d say this event was a complete success, if you love Cabernet and are planning to invest even more into it, most especially in Napa and Sonoma Counties… While Sonoma has arrived to the party, Napa Valley is still the pinnacle of success. With its pencil shaped AVA, Napa is still only 30 miles in length and five miles wide, with 45,000 acres of vineyards planted – at its fullest section, it’s only 789 square miles. Whereas, Sonoma County is nearly doubled in size, with 1,500 square miles. This equals more growth potential; but, a consideration is that you won’t get the same return, if your money wasn’t spent in Napa.

  • Advantage of Napa Valley
    • It’s already put itself on the map with Cabernet Sauvignon, with most bottles of Cab hitting a $100 price tag; some are up as high as $150. [Screaming eagle is another matter, entirely.]
      • There are 17 varieties of wine grapes in Napa Valley; Cabernet Sauvignon makes up 57 percent of those acres.
      • This has growth potential, if all all other varieties are pulled out.
      • It can still say Napa Valley on the label if it’s 25 percent of the variety or is 15 percent from one single vineyard source.
    • Disadvantages
      • It’s topped out for plantable acres, unless it goes up the mountain sides.
      • The only grapes new to be planted in the valley are the ones being pulled out, to plant vines that have more younger vines that will equal more tonnage.
      • Growing it in less suited areas.
      • Will it be more quality or quantity?
  • Advantages of Sonoma County
    • Twice as much room for growth, but has put itself on the map for Pinot Noir.
    • Disadvantages
      • Cabernet won’t be worth as much as Napa Cab, or even Pinot Noir?
      • Areas like Alexander Valley do well with Cabernet, but is the rest of the county too cool? This means experimentation, which equals time lost.

Chardonnay is still the best seller of wine grapes in California, and all seemed to agree, Chardonnay can grow anywhere. It doesn’t matter: here, there, anywhere and everywhere.

So, how do investment bankers continue to grow their portfolios, and where do they look for potential investments?

  • Financial considerations, perhaps due to no estate planing.
  • Aging partners want out of their investment portfolios.
  • Aging children at a winery want out, to have their own lives not in farming.
  • Kids want to buy their own houses, so parents make their dreams come true.

There’s now a push for secondary locations in Napa and beyond.

  • Oak Knoll district didn’t have the same reputation as the Stag’s Leap or Rutherford AVAs, for instance; but it’s now considered a new place for speculation.
  • For Sauvignon Blanc, another hot commodity in Napa, demand is moving toward the Carneros region. This is because in Napa Valley, those Sauvignon Blanc vineyards are being pulled out for Cab. It used to be that just the Sonoma side was worth the investment, but land investors have slid over to the Sonoma County side… Carneros is not the east or west side, very much, anymore. There now is no differentiation of price.


Suisun Valley was brought up.

I had to chuckle to myself. Jose and I were hired to put Suisun Valley on the map. Twelve years ago, if you had said “Suisun Valley,” people wouldn’t have even been able to pronounce it. And yet, if you look at the palm of your hand… take about a dime shape and put it into the lower left hand quadrant… All of the rest of it, except for that dime size, is Napa Valley. And now look at the dime size; that’s where Suisun is. How did I approach getting them on the map? I did it by writing press releases with that explanation. It worked…

Enter Caymus Vineyards. Charles (Charlie) Wagner got fed up with Napa Valley’s restrictions, so he moved southeast for a breath of fresh air. Investors asked how that’s coming along, as they all hold their breath to hear results. Hey guys, do you know that Gallo has also bought into that valley? Remember how Gallo was brought up as the number one investor in the world? Now ask yourself, if Gallo knows about it, what am I missing?


The largest investors are buying more land, then buying wineries. There is a multi-generational focus for these investors. In the last 12 months, guess who’s buying up Napa Valley… Europeans, looking for iconic wine brands. Oregon, too has Burgundian and Champagne investors. Institutional capital investors are the competition. Climate change also has investors contemplating.

  • Looking at 20 year investments of marginal areas is a consideration, trying to see what’s happening in the market.
  • There’s a list of concerns, with efforts of down water management.
  • There are concerns that the 2014 Napa Valley earthquake has impacted ground water, as that supply seems to be running lower that usual, so there might be some restrictions coming.
  • Central Coast is high on its water supply and is an emerging supply for grapes.

As they slipped southward in focus, two things became more clear

  • Mechanization is the way to make more of a profit, from both pruning the vines and harvesting the fruit.
  • The Central Coastal area and Central Valley have the high potential to add to the Cabernet supply, regardless of the Central Valley’s current reputation for marginal quality. “There is high quality in the Central Valley, if you take the time to grow them,” said one expert.

This was one of the takeaway thoughts, from vineyardist Leslie Caccamese. She works with Doug Hill Vineyard Management, tending individual vines all over Napa Valley. Leslie’s given me permission to share. She’s one of the funniest people I’ve met in wine, seriously. She could do stand-up about wine… and she doesn’t gloss anything over.

“I LOVED the bit about growing Cabernet in areas not suited for it. They’re like, “yes, we know it may be shitty, but the next generation of Cab drinkers will think it’s supposed to taste that way.”

Ah… the future. What will it all hold?




Argentina,Chile,Malbec,Wine,Wine Ed,Wine Education,Wine of the Week

Malbec ~ A Primal Variety ~ Wild and Sleek

Copyright : Kseniya Abramova

As I was inviting our friends Carole and Rob Rinne to share a tasting of four Malbecs, I had this brain poof… “I wondered what vines in South America had any phylloxera problems?”

I vaguely remembered that Chile hadn’t, or was it Argentina? What if it’s all vines in Chile and Argentina… All of South America?”

I needed a good refresher and I knew it, but I didn’t have the time at that moment. So we didn’t make this a comparative focus for Malbec from Argentina and Malbec from Chile.

As a joiner to this stream of thoughts, a couple of days ago… there it was, as I was reading James M. Gabler’s Passions ~ The Wines and Travels of Thomas Jefferson, and the answer appeared.

“Phylloxera, a root louse that attacks and kills the vines’ roots, was accidentally introduced into France in the early 1860s on vines originating in the eastern United States to replace diseased vines and for hybridization. Within 25 years phylloxera destroyed almost every vineyard in the world except those in Chile, Cyprus and a few other scattered areas.” p. 62

Head back to spinning, with what I thought could be a very unique comparative… Isn’t it marvelous to think of Chile and the country of Cyprus as having primal varieties; i.e., on their original rootstock, not having been grafted onto America’s phylloxera resistant rootstock? I just think this is so cool and primal. (Next time, South American comparative tasting… next time.)

So, anyway, a Malbec tasting was being organized… Right down to a grande finale of food to pair with the wines.

    • Four glasses for everyone
    • Arrange wine in an order of taste graduation that I imagined
      • Glasses proved right as rain
      • Two separate regions from South America
        • Argentina
        • Chile
    • Taste four separately and discuss
      • Carole brought olives to cleans our palates ~ Excellent
      • Tech notes were there so we could reference how each was made, etc.
      • Also, pretty much used our own palates
      • Decided on a favorite (empty glasses were worth a thousand words)
  •  Bring to food
    • Now taste with food
    • Discuss

Photo: Jo Diaz

The Magical Four South American Malbec 

Photo: Jo Diaz

  • Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina 2015
    • From the region of Luján de Cuyo: the Vineyards have stony, alluvial soil; and are Agrelo and Vistalba (Luján de Cuyo), in Mendoza, Argentina.
  • Reserva Casillero del Diablo Malbec Chile 2016
    • From the Central Valley of Chile, the Vineyards have Riverbench associated soils.

    Photo: Jo Diaz

  • Trivento Argentina Malbec Reserve, Mendoza 2016
    • Vineyards Mendoza, Argentina. Grapes primarily sourced from the Luján de Cuyo and surrounding areas. Alluvial soil.
  • Serie Riberas Gran Reserva, Ribera del Tinguiririca 2016
    • Vineyard ~ From the Central Valley of Chile, the Vineyards have Riverbench associated soils.
    • Riverbench soil: The soil is made up of particles that include clay, silt, sand, and gravel sediment. This soil was deposited by ancient flowing waters.


What each wine gave to me

  • Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina 2015
    • There’s still plenty of tannins left in this Malbec from Argentina; so it will continue to age well. How was it? It’s beautifully soft, like a silk scarf had just wrapped around my palate. A delicious experience, then enhanced with José’s marinated Tri-Tip, at the end of our tasting. Of my four wines, this became my empty glass.
  • Reserva Casillero del Diablo Malbec Chile 2016
    • With this one, we took a minor focus for flavors coming from Argentina and Chile and we did find a slight difference. The Chilean wines were a bit more powerful, like a seasoned thoroughbred stallion. “Perhaps it’s the Three Winds,” I thought out loud. Then I had to explain about the three winds (below).
    • Inspired by the Winds
      • EOLO is an Italian name for Homer’s Greek mythology. This wind’s behavior is given to sudden and unaccountable changes in behavior.
      • Polar Zonda is a foehn wind, which means that it’s a hot wind on the slopes of the Andes. It’s a dry, down-slope wind that occurs on the lee (downwind) side of a mountain range. Zonda is a term used for this type of wind, because it happens over those parts of western Argentina, which are tucked into the slopes of the Andes. This includes the wine region of Mendoza. The wind climbs over and swooshes downward.
      • Sudestada (southeast blown) wind. This wind is a fresh, summer breeze, which sometimes bring storms.
  • Trivento Argentina Malbec Reserve, Mendoza 2016
    • We all agreed on this Trivento Reserva Malbec’s deliciousness.  It was just like a race horse’s easy gallop… The strength was there, but nonchalantly rippling those muscles… Very food friendly, a touch of saddle leather on the nose, which turned to enveloping roundness on the palate. Almost Pinot Noir-ish.
  • Serie Riberas Gran Reserva, Ribera del Tinguiririca 2016
    • On the finish line… This head stallion is big, bold, and a muscular Malbec, the grand daddy from the group of four. The Riberas Gran Reserva was a natural complement with the bit of marbleized fat in the tri-tip. Plus the spices of both food and wine made this one slide down really smoothly, when we had Tri-Tip to go with it.

It’s a great day when we have lovely friends, delicious wines, and a fabulous tasting experience. Life is what you make of it, n’est ce pas?





AVA,Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance,Petaluma Wind Gap,Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB),Wine

Newest American Viticultural Area (AVA) ~ Petaluma Wind Gap

From the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance Newsletter

“Petaluma Gap Winegrowers celebrated the new AVA with Congressmen Thompson and Huffman on May 29, at Gap’s Crown Vineyard.”

Why is an AVA so meaningful to me? Because, Jose and I have been helping Suisun Valley since 2005, in one capacity or another. It’s been extremely rewarding to watch this region go from pretty much obscurity to one that is now officially on the map and doing quite well. (When Napa Valley decided to move into Napa, I’d say that’s arriving.)

[Photo of Bodega Bay by Yuval Helfman- Purchased image]

Meanwhile, in a research project, I did a good amount of research on Petaluma for another client and was delighted to understand the Petaluma Wind Gap, writing about it, called The Terroir of the Petaluma Wind Gap

Something that was a bit elusive for me was actually grasping exactly where the Petaluma Wind Gap originates. Everyone writes about it, but knowing exactly where it comes in is not as well pinpointed. At least, that’s what I thought until I finally fell unto the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance site. Their tag line is From Wind to Wine. I wanted to know as much about it as I could, because it helped me to define terroir for Green Valley; in my own words, though my own understandings.

From their Newsletter:

The Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance celebrated its recent approval by the Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) as the newest American Viticultural Area (AVA) at a ceremony and wine tasting held on Tuesday, May 29. More than one hundred attended including winery and grower members, trade and media and were joined by United States Congressmen Jared Huffman and Mike Thompson, both of whom were personally involved in the granting of the AVA. The ceremony took place at Gap’s Crown Vineyard in Penngrove on one of the vineyard hilltops with expansive views of the Petaluma Gap and exposure to the persistent afternoon wind, the AVA’s primary defining attribute. More than 20 wineries participated, pouring more than sixty wines, all made from grapes grown in the Petaluma Gap.

From their press release:

“The first wines labeled with the Petaluma Gap AVA designation have begun to appear on store shelves and it’s very exciting” said newly-elected PGWA president Justin Seidenfeld, Director of Winemaking at Rodney Strong Vineyards. “Seeing the words ‘Petaluma Gap AVA’ on the label helps consumers better connect the dots between the unique character of our wines and the region in which our grapes are grown.”

All steps taken as I watched Suisun Valley grow into its skin, and now other people are having the same excitement.

Just a bit more:

About the Petaluma Gap Wine Alliance

Founded in 2005, the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance (PGWA) exists to educate the wine trade and consumers about the Petaluma Gap and to increase awareness of the region’s unique growing conditions and resulting wine quality. PGWA additionally supports member winegrowers and vintners within the region through ongoing programs and communications designed to help maximize their success within the industry. The group’s membership is made up of grape growers, wineries, associate business members, sponsors and local community members with a passion for the region and its wine. Throughout the year, the group conducts educational events and tastings independently and through the Sonoma County Vintners.


Event,Napa Valley Marriott,Symposium,Vineyard Economics Seminar,Vineyards,Wine Business,Wine Investments

2018 Vineyard Economics Seminar program on Monday, June 18, 2018

The 2018 Vineyard Economics Seminar: Register here…

An expert panel will be kicking off the first major discussion of the day, which is a focus on wine country agriculture, the latest in land acquisitions, and what that means for the future. In this panel, five industry experts will journey through a discussion about availability, demand, land prices, vineyard deals, institutional investing, game changers, and more.

A lot of organization has gone into this program. This is a very impressive line-up of authorities and topics, people. You have about two weeks to sign up for it… Make life more simple, by learning about your future in these complicated times.

Join fellow wine industry personnel in less than two weeks, to discuss the latest in economic and financial issues facing vineyards in Napa and the surrounding areas.

The event will be held at the Napa Valley Marriott
Monday June 18, 2018

See below for the full program – Register

From Their Website

8:00 – 8:30 a.m. REGISTRATION & COFFEE


  • Eric Jorgensen, president, Wine Business Monthly
  • Mark Greenspan, president and Viticulturist, Advanced Viticulture, Inc.


  • Mark Couchman, chief investment officer & CEO, Silverado Premium Properties – MODERATOR
  • Tony Correia, owner, the Correia Company
  • Matt Franklin, principal, Zepponi & Company
  • Jan Krupp, owner, Krupp Brothers
  • Dana Vivier, vice president of strategic planning, Far Niente

Availability, demand, land prices, vineyard deals, institutional investing and game changers, such as the Stagecoach Vineyards acquisition, have changed the market. Will land acquisitions and investments ever be the same? What is it that buyers are trying to accomplish? The impact on wine regions throughout California has created what some are describing as the “new normal.”

10:30 – 10:45 a.m. NAT DIBUDUO TRIBUTE

10:45 – 11:15 a.m. NETWORKING BREAK


  • Rachel Ashley, vice president wine production, Treasury Wine Estates – MODERATOR
  • Matt Johnson, chief winemaker, Treasury Wine Estates
  • Kirk Grace, director of california vineyard operations, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates
  • Justin Leigon, viticulturist, Pina Vineyard Management
  • Zach Rasmuson, SVP / COO, Duckhorn

12:30 – 1:45 p.m. NETWORKING LUNCH


  • Richard Mendelson, Esq., of counsel, Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty
  • Terroir has an impact on vineyard values. Location is key. This provocative discussion will reveal how to bring added value to AVAs, the importance of conjunctive labeling, and the need for a register of vineyard designations.


  • David Pardes, tax partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers

Congress gave final approval on December 20, 2017, to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that would lower business and individual tax rates, modernize U.S. international tax rules and provide the most significant overhaul of the U.S. tax code in 30 years. Therefore, it is important to begin analyzing the new tax: provisions to gain a full understanding as to whether or not you are a winner or a loser under this new tax regime.

3:00 – 3:45 p.m. GRAPE & BULK WINE MARKET

  • Marc Cuneo, bulk wine broker, Turrentine Wine Brokerage
  • Steve Fredricks, president, Turrentine Wine Brokerage

Understanding subtle market changes, and how they may influence the market cycles in the short and long term, is important for success. This session will provide an update of the current grape and bulk wine supply and demand, with a keen look at the impact of Cabernet Sauvignon, and take a closer look at the trends and strengths of the continuously evolving industry, from volume to price points to summaries by region and varietal.


To Register



Agricuture,California,Non Profit,RCD,Sonoma Resource Conservation District,Sustainablility,Wine

The Opportunities Continue from the RCD for Help in (Not Mentioned) California

Last week I shared information about the The Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District (RCD) Mostly connected to the Western portion of Sonoma County, I didn’t realize how wide spread this resource conversation effort is…  Like, ALL of California, for instance, with 102 districts available.

Let’s find out more

Right after the story was published, Gold Ridge RCD’s Project Coordinator Adriana Stagnaro contacted me. She told me that John Green had shared my blog story Goldridge RCD – Opportunity Waiting to Happen for You, Wine Grape Growers with his agency. Adriana, rightfully so, decided to take it a step further.

From Adriana, of the Gold Ridge RCD’s

We do work very hard to serve the community, with our shared natural resources at the center of our focus.

I wanted to… share some information on the programs we offer specifically to grape growers. It’s good to note that while Gold Ridge RCD serves the western corner of Sonoma County, the majority of the county is served by our sister organization, Sonoma RCD. Both RCDs offer these services, so all grape growers in the county have access to them…

The Sonoma County RCDs offer many programs to vineyards to plan for holistic management, improve their soil’s health, conserve water, increase habitat for wildlife and desirable pollinator species, comply with regulation, and recover from the 2017 fire storm. You can see a consolidated list of services for Sonoma County vineyards here.  [Great PDF, by the way.]

We also encourage vineyards to participate in the North Coast Soil Health Hub at www.soilhub.org. In 2017, RCDs from Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino County, NRCS, UCCE and other partners collaborated as the North Coast Soil Health Hub with funding from the CDFA Specialty Crop Block Grant to create an information-sharing network that would support farmers in improving their soil health. The network is currently laying the groundwork for soil health demonstrations, workshops with industry specialists, farmer-to-farmer forum discussions, an online resource library, and more. Farmers are invited to sign up to receive quarterly e-newsletters with regional information on vineyard-focused events, research, and community updates.

After this Email, I went a step further; otherwise I could perhaps risk more areas contacting me. As it turns out, it would have been many.

 Natural Resources Conservation Service California

Here we go, boys and girls…  YOUR district! “Get cracking” as the nut guys like to say.

Reminder of why you’d be contacting the Resource Conservation District Assistance people:

  • Watershed planning and management
  • Water conservation
  • Water quality protection and enhancement
  • Agricultural land conservation
  • Soil and water management on non-agricultural lands
  • Wildlife habitat enhancement
  • Wetland conservation
  • Recreational land restoration
  • Irrigation management
  • Conservation education
  • Forest stewardship
  • Fuels management
  • Urban resource conservation

California is certainly an agricultural state. We’re in what’s called a Mediterranean climate; and, all of agriculture – with viticulture being a subset – contributes to the US’s well being with foods and wines. Everyone in the US is benefiting, when it comes to healthy options on a breakfast, lunch, or dinner table… As the fifth largest economy in the world, California feeds everyone, and we need the best resources to do it.

From the LA Times:

[“2 million jobs and grown its GDP by $700 billion.”]

“California’s economic output is now surpassed only by the total GDP of the United States, China, Japan and Germany. The state has 12% of the U.S. population but contributed 16% of the country’s job growth between 2012 and 2017. Its share of the national economy also grew to 14.2% from 12.8% over that five-year period, according to state economists.”

We take farming seriously in California, and so do our agencies that support all agricultural efforts. Now, if you need help, just make that call. They’re waiting for you.