Amenities, Supplies, Services,Viticulture,Wine

Soil Monolith ~ a perfect wine gift for the winery owner who seems to have everything

The perfect wine gift, a soil monolith…

[Picture of Paul Anamosa borrowed from his Vineyard Soil Technologies.]

It may seem a bit early to be thinking of the holidays, but wait…

I’m reminded of how I used to begin to make sweaters for family members, starting in September, so I’d have enough done in time for the holidaze. I’d knit Icelandic knits on circular needles (which meant that I didn’t have to go back and forth with rows, and I didn’t have to pearl any rows, just keep knitting like I was a machine, and the yarn was very thick.). One year I made 12 of them, between September and Christmas morning, but I didn’t keep one for myself in the process. I made a promise to myself that I’d never do that again, I kept to my word. The following year I knit 13 of them, giving one to myself…

And then I moved to California, where I couldn’t even wear it, so I stopped knitting, pretty much. I suspect that some day, I’ll also stop writing the same way, but not for now.

A soil monolith from a client’s vineyard is extracted from the client’s own soil… right on location, as authentic as it can possibly be.

Paul Anamosa is responsible for turning me onto this practice – sort of – when we accidentally met. I was searching on Goldridge soil, and I came across a quote by Dr. Paul R. Anamosa, Ph.D., of Vineyard Soils Technology. He was very helpful, by updating what I had found; and so, I decided to “Like” him on Facebook. While there, I scrolled down a bit and came across this image of an example of a soil monolith.

Eureka! I knew someone who would love having one of these… Ron Rubin of The Rubin Family Vineyards and Winery. This gentleman found gold in California when he actualized his 40 year dream of owning a vineyard and a winery. On the first day that Ron and I met in his office, he asked me if I’d follow him outside. He walked me to his vineyard. He asked me if I minded that I didn’t have the right shoes for walking in his “dirt.” I assured him that I was okay with it. He must have had something important for me to see, and I’m always curious. He walked me to a patch of bare, loose soil and picked up a handful. “Look,” he said, “it’s Goldridge soil!”

I said, “Oh, great!” and, I drove home to look it up. The only other time I found someone so enamored with dirt was Hector Bedolla, when I was working for Belvedere Winery. Hector, with the same passion, told me about the red soils of Dry Creek Valley, as we stood overlooking Bill Hambrecht’s vineyards (my boss at the time.). “Red soils have iron oxide in them,” he exclaimed. Iron oxide is known to produce the best Zinfandel grapes and then the wines, I was to later learn; just as Goldridge is know to produce the best Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.

I didn’t know “what” Ron had, but he surely did. What I’ve just come to learn is that Paul Anamosa had schooled Ron on Goldridge, when Ron was considering his new winery. Then Ron turned me onto it, and now we’re back where we started, with me thinking that I’m telling Ron about someone new. All Ron could say is, “small world.”

It was now my turn to turn Ron onto a soil monolith, which could be made of his Goldridge soil. He’s excited, and so am I.

As I was thanking Paul and telling him that his monoliths are a great idea, I took that thought to, “What a great blog story.” And, here I am sharing with you all. This may be new to you, too, and I love sharing any new aspects of the wine business that are novel.

The process is very detailed… and any winery owner would hang this one with great pleasure, I’m sure.

From Paul on how this is accomplished

We visit the winery property, and dig a hole 6 feet deep, by 3 feet wide, and about 8 feet long (a typical evaluation pit). We then smooth one side of the pit and press a frame into the side. We then dig out the soil on the other side of the frame while wrapping the frame and soil in shrink-wrap. We finally get all 5 feet of frame and soil isolated, and then bundle it, and truck it out. It goes back to our work shop where it is hardened with a non-toxic glue and then glued onto a piece of plexiglass. We have used tempered glass on the first few, but feel that with the ever present threat of earthquakes, we did not want to have glass shards flying though tasting rooms if they shattered.

Examples of monoliths that can be viewed

  • Larkmead Vineyards, in their conference room
  • Paul just delivered “an absolutely beautiful brick red one” to Continuum
  • Another delivered to ZD winery, having just been mounted during the week of September 8, 2014

Just when you thought a winery owner could have “everything” in his or her world, along come ingenuity…

You can reach Paul Anamosa at  paulanamosa@vineyardsoil.com.


Russian River Valley,Sonoma County,Sparkling,Wine

Is your wine cellar ready for the last third of the year? Iron Horse is at the top of my list for readiness

For me, Iron Horse Vineyards has to always be “in the house.” You never know what’s worth celebrating, above and beyond the usual celebrations. Sometimes, it’s just a wonderful surprise… like finishing the last chapter of your book. That was a moment to remember and one I didn’t anticipate until it happened; and so, I was able to celebrate the moment with a 2010 Iron Horse Wedding Cuvée. It wasn’t a wedding that I was celebrating, but I was definitely “in the pink,” so it perfectly fit the occasion. I remember writing at the time, “Very easy to enjoy… Delicious day, delicious wine.”

[This Wedding Cuvée picture is one that was taken by Iron Horse Vineyards and used on their Facebook Page.]

Today, I’m off to a harvest festival at Iron Horse. Pinch me, Jose, to make sure I’m not just dreaming. You brought me to a place on earth where most people can only visit from afar, and dream about for the rest of the year. Here we are, and being able to just head over to Iron Horse to renew my supply is a gift from Bacchus.

How’s your wine closet doing, as we stock up for the final third of the year?

  • The First third is always devoted to preparations.
  • The next third is devoted to hard work.
  • The last third is devoted to celebrations…

In many ways, it’s my favorite time of the year, with November and December being the most joyous, and now I’m planning ahead. Here’s my list for upcoming events:

The Bubbly List

  • PRETTY IN PINK ~ 2010 Iron Horse Wedding Cuvée
    • Very easy to enjoy… Delicious day, delicious wine
    • This wine would also be great for any holiday wedding ceremonies, and they do exist as a great way to wrap up the end of the year. Mostly crafted from Pinot Noir grapes, this is where this wine gets its pretty pink hue. Great bridal showers or for the sparking wine that is perfect for toasting the bride and groom, this wine is just fabulous.
  • SOCIALLY CONSCIENTIOUS ~ 2009 Iron Horse Vineyards Ocean Reserve Blanc de Blancs
    • When I first tasted it, I said to Jose, “This one is as smooth as a calm sea, after a violent storm…” The storm being the yeast eating the sugar and turning it into bubbles, which cannot escape from the bottle. Since it’s been in the process of aging for the last five years, the bubbles are very tiny, and the wine is incredibly delicious.   
    • This sparkling wine is for the socially consciously among us. It’s a special, limited edition, which commemorates National Geographic’s 125 Anniversary. Iron Horse donates $4.00 from every bottle to the National Geo’s Ocean Initiative.
    • A beautiful wine that makes you feel considerate and involved while enjoying it.
  • DRY AND CRISP THANKSGIVING~ 2009 Iron Horse Classic Vintage Brut  (Brut being the dry incarnation of these grapes)
    • This one is made from both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, and it showcases the best of the 2009 vintage. I love the creaminess and rich flavors.
    • Every single one of these wines is from Green Valley of the Russian River Valley. This is one of the coolest regions of Russian River Valley. Very few acres are devoted to Pinot Noir in the grand scheme of things. This wine is a rare as it is precious.
  • FOR THE EXTREMIST (WRITING)~ 2009 Iron Horse Brut X
    • Very dry, very bright, very expressive… See yourself in here anywhere? Dry humor perhaps, great intellect? Perhaps you like to write stories with great flair, like Mark Twain or Oscar Wilde… According to John F. Evans, Ed.D, Expressive Writing is the cornerstone of wellness and writing connections.
    • Enjoy this wine while penning something that will become a favorite.
  • HISTORIC ROOTS (RUSSIAN) ~ 2009 Russian Cuvée
    • This wine is made in the commemorative style of the one that was enjoyed during the Reagan – Gorbachev summit meetings, intended to the end the Cold War. We, who live and/or work in Russian River Valley, know that we have even deeper Russian Roots than the Cold War. I’m betting that this might have been a back story for Gorbachev. I would have pulled the card out of my hat, had I been in those meetings. There’s nothing like a common bond to bring people together.
    • I have a new appreciation for the entire “Russian” part of Russian River Valley. It was a Russian who first planted grape vines in Russian River Valley. The history of the Russians coming into Sonoma County is one attached to the fur trade, but they also brought agronomist Yegor Chernykh as its first wine grape grower and winemaker, all in the heart of Green Valley of Russian River Valley. I personally love that this history isn’t like the rest of California stories of settlement. It wasn’t about the Gold Rush, it was something else that drew the Russians. Today, we call it the “Bounty of the County.” This wine celebrates our bounty in a delicious way. Hand harvested in the chilly fog of early morning, this wine is the best of the best.
  • VIVID AND BOLD (CHRISTMAS and/or HANUKKAH) ~ 2007 Brut Rosé
    • I’m betting that this one would make a great Hanukkah wine.
    • Lively and full bodied from ripe, red Pinot Noir fruit, this one is as dry as it is gorgeous. The creamy texture comes from this wine being aged four plus years en triage.
    • En triage is the blend of a base wine, a yeast nutrient, and a source of sugar. The latter two are added to the base, and then the mixture is fermented a second time. This is done in a sealed container, which traps in the resulting carbon dioxide. This process produced the effervescence, tiny bubbles.
    • I always adore this one for its bright color and exception dry quality.
  • RICHLY ELEGANT (NEW YEARS) ~ 2004 Brut LD 1.5 Liter
    • Last, but definitely not least, this is the one for New Year’s Eve.
    • It’s highly likely that you’ll be celebrating with your close family and friends. This wine is a befitting choice for those whom you love the most, most especially since a larger bottle of wine, and you’d be closing out a 10 year cycle – From 2004 to 2014… Celebrate say goodbye to that decade, versus just the past year. For some of us, this could be quite the celebration!


Opinion,Wine,Wine Blogger,Wine Writer

The emotional intelligence of wine blogging and its vitriol eruption

OPINION: Recently, poop finally hit the fan for the wine blogging community. Everything that’s right with it and everything that’s wrong with it collided in the biggest mess I’ve yet to witness. I believe it’s finally hit a paradigm shift that’s been so needed, but not without its pain and suffering.

Imagine creating a wine blog because you’re very passionate about wine, and then going off on a bitter tangent, because one of the iconic figures within the wine blogging community had a great idea… But then, no good deed goes unpunished, right?

It also reminds me of how some of the new citizen wine bloggers, as they’ve evolved to calling themselves, have also gone after Robert Parker as being inconsequential. Nothing could be further from the truth, as anyone within the wine business could – and have tried – to tell them. But still, there’s an element of playing king of the mountain, when one isn’t the king. It’s a very basic instinct, as any mountain goat or lion could tell you, if they could only talk; but they’re lacking the cognitive, psychological skill of vocalizing.

Did it really have to happen this way? Yes, because not everyone is emotionally mature enough yet (me more than anyone, I’m in the mix, too, I know). If we were, there would be no further need for Earth School; i.e., we’d all be peacefully settled in heaven, as this lower education would have graduated everyone, and we’d be getting on with more delightful stuff.

Earth School lesson Number 1, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t make it public in writing.”

I’m still not immune from having feelings of being wronged.. Sometimes someone will tick me off so badly that I might say something about it privately.

The difference in what I say privately to my life partner and what we say publicly about someone else, if it’s not all true is called libel.

Since the beginning of wine blogging, at the very first Wine Bloggers Conference (and why I don’t attend the one in the United States anymore), one person said to me, “I hate ____.” I thought, “Wow, are we back in high school? You don’t even know him; yet, you’ve thrown out someone of consequence.” I was speechless. The most interesting part of that one was that it came from an attorney’s mouth. When I recently read some libelous thoughts about a fellow wine blogger they were just very sad to read.

I’ve also seen it written, after this year’s Wine Blogger’s Conference, that there were those who pretty much hated one panel. Rather than taking what the panel was structured to offer of critiquing writing (by some of the best, most respected wine writers of today), their take away was that it was delivered by “old, white, men.” It was like misguided sparks flying all over the place willynilly, instead of what was intended; i.e., grooming the next generation of well respected wine writers. Talk about growing pains.

This name calling was the same type of discrimination, for which I was corrected by my adoring husband, who only wants the best for me.

I have to admit, as I’ve watched the Right Wing stalemate anything the Left Wing is trying to push through Congress, it’s very frustrating to watch humanity’s growth become stymied. I used to fly off at the mouth, calling them “old, white men.” So, I got where this group was coming from, using this name calling. I, too, had done it. My similar name calling was primarily about a group that’s blocking forward governmental movements. But, I haven’t publicly said to the accusers of the panel that I didn’t agree with their estimation of “old, white men.”

I’m thankful that husband rightfully and respectfully disagreed with me about my own, “old, white men” logic. He pointed out that it’s not about “old, white men.” It’s about Right Wing extremists. So, I’ve stopped using the “old…” phrase, because it is discrimination; where, right wing extremism is factual, so it’s not libel. It can be, and is, proven every day in public outrage.

If these bloggers had been more articulate and simply said, “No thank you, guys, for the grade you’ve given to us; we have philosophical differences,” no one would have been hurt in the process. Many people were hurt in that process, though.

If those critical had instead said, “we don’t give a rat’s patuty about grammar and punctuation” … and hey, you might as well have thrown in spelling while you were at it, because these are the three differences that separate the (wo)men from the girls/boys in great writing… no one’s feelings would have been hurt in the process. But, many were, not only for the people being accused, but there were also hurt feelings felt by those of us who care for these important wine writers.

In closing, we all make mistakes. The difference between the (wo)men and the girls/boys is the difference between those of us who learn from our mistakes and those of us who don’t. In order to have a paradigm shift, we have to have a crisis. And, we certainly did have one.

It’s with my utmost, heartfelt wishes that we’ve crossed over to the other side of why we all began blogging; i.e., to write about wine and why we love it; not about who we don’t like in wine, and why we don’t like that person. I wish everyone could just grew a bit, because I’m still reeling from the recent growing pains that had to happen on all sides of the fence.


Mendocino County,PS I Love You,Wine,Wine Business,Winemaker

The many charms of a winemaker ~ Mark Beaman ~ During harvest, no less

One of the many charms of Mark Beaman is that I got a winemaker profile during harvest. One would think that it’s pretty hard to do right now. Certainly I did. So I used a different technique than the meet n’greet interview process. I sent questions to him, and told him there was no rush.

“Here are my winemaker questions to you. Take your time, because I know how busy you are. If you only answer one or two at a time, that’s fine.”

I expected this to take a month. It took a day.

“Here you are Jo. Warm one today in the vineyards. Its nice to sit down and tap out a message in a cool lab.”

What I didn’t know is that not only is Mark an impassioned winemaker, but I had a writer on my hands, with plenty of good humor. I really like this guy, long before we’ll be doing the tête–à–tête thing.

Because I’ve been connected to the wine business for so long, I have an almost unlimited number of doors that open for me. Between my first eight years of working for Belvedere, Barefoot Cellars, Robert Mondavi, and Ironstone, this set the stage for launching Diaz Communications. My last 14 years of being a private contractor, starting two marketing groups (the most successful being PS I Love You for Petite Sirah), and having a plethora of clients along the way… my reputation is now pretty set for my being a hard worker; ergo, the door easily opens with most people, when I need or want them.

And so it did with Mark Beaman. It began with my getting to know the next generation of the Mendocino Wine Company’s Chase Thornhill. I worked with his dad Tim Thornhill years ago in Orlando, during a National Pork Board event. I’ve also been on the road a lot (during the Blue Tooth Tour), with their head winemaker Bob Swain. I have lots of fond memories with both of these gentlemen… And now I was just introduced to the newest addition to the family line up… Chase. Chase is the senior brand manager for the Mendocino Wine Co. I love seeing next generations becoming involved in family businesses, having hired my own children for tasks that fit their personalities best. For Chase, he’s gone into marketing, and we’ll review him later, with a new brand he’s launching called “Moniker Wine Estates.”

For now, here’s the winemaker who’s heading up this project. It’s Mark Beaman, the associate winemaker for Mendocino Wine Co., most specifically.

Mark Beaman ~ Winemaker Profile

  1. What is your background
    • Was it related to wine?  My parents were forensic scientists in the Seattle Crime lab in the 70’s and we moved out of the city to south-eastern Washington when my sister and I came along.  So I grew up on my family’s ranch where we farmed alfalfa hay, wheat, asparagus, turnips and raised cattle for sale.  We lived off of efforts on the ranch and my backyard was several hundred acres of river and riparian area which I explored thoroughly.  My background did not have to do with wine directly, but my agricultural upbringing gave me a work ethic I still put to use.
  2. When did you first realize that you wanted to become a winemaker?
    • In the late 90’s I was living in Tanzania, East Africa as a soil conservation volunteer for the Peace Corps.  When my family took a trip to visit me, a party was thrown to welcome them.  Since my family spoke no Swahili and my village friends spoke no English it was predictably awkward, until my friend Lucas declared he was sharing his special brew of asali (honey wine). After a few drinks everyone was having a blast and it felt like a party.  I always thought that it must feel wonderful to see how something you made can be enjoyed in front of you like that.  After my Peace Corps service  I returned to Washington and I found the wine industry had grown enormously and it clicked that I should find a way in.  It all made sense as I wanted to be in a profession that utilized my agricultural roots, my love of science and involved creating a product to be consumed with joy and attention.
  3. How did you get into the wine business?
    • I responded to an ad that Columbia Crest Winery had put in the local paper.  They were looking for people to assist with basic lab analysis at the crusher.  I got a haircut, put on a tie and sweated my way through an interview.  I somehow got the job and worked my way into the lab for that harvest of 2000.  I slept at the winery some nights because it was a 110 mile round trip.  Doug Gore (the head winemaker) even caught me fishing in the tourist pond one night when I was trying to catch an easy dinner.  I think the winery appreciated my tenacity and they sent me to work for the company in California before I moved on to join MWC.
  4. Did (do) you have a mentor?  Yes.
    • What has he or she done to make your life more enjoyable?  Lucas taught me to be thankful for the simple pleasure of seeing others enjoy the fruits of your labors.  Bob Swain, who is head winemaker here at MWC is the old school do it all winemaker who maintains a tight ship, a strong work ethic and high level of integrity.  He makes my life more enjoyable because he is still making all the hard decisions!
  5. Do you enjoy the spotlight (i.e., travel, panels, judging, etc.), or do you prefer the lab?
    • I like them  both.  I enjoy going out on the road and speaking to distributors and wine buyers or sharing stories that make our products special.  I relish any chance to interact and learn as there is so much to take in.  On the other side the lab is great because the people that work here are friends and family.  The focus here is on getting the job done professionally, accurately and timely but it is also a place to share some laughs.  We do make wine after all.
  6. What aspect(s) of wine do you most enjoy?
    • When I am walking the vineyards taking maturity samples I sometimes take a moment and think to myself “I get paid to do this?”.  We have some beautiful scenery to walk through out here and its part of the job.  I also work alongside my extended family here at the winery.  So many members of the Muniz family have been part of this facility that is you put all their time together there would be well over 200 years of history.  This family is some of the most generous and hard working folks you will ever meet.  It makes it easier to wake up early and start another day of harvest when this is who you get to work with.  I love these guys.
  7. How has your job changed since you’ve started?
    • Progressions…I started a brix tester at the grape trucks on frigid mornings in Washington then moved on to a glorified dishwasher in the lab.  Then my work shifted to more of the lab analysis with vineyard testing in and around harvest.   Eventually I worked my way into working on blending trials with the different tools we have at our disposal.  Now I work on some of my own blends  and alongside with Bob on others, work out the days schedule, but still get to do some analysis and walk the vineyards.  There are some things I’ll just never give up.
  8. What’s the most memorable wine you’ve ever tasted?
    • At an event in New York I was pouring at I had a chance to walk around and taste these unusual and expensive Biodynamic wines from around the world.  I heard of many of the wineries, but none were as controversial as Christophe Barons wines of Cayuse.  I went to his table and he was gracious to pour through his lineup.  All which were simply mind-blowing.  But the 2006 Armada Syrah was the funkiest, wildest and most bad-ass thing I had ever come across in the wine world.
  9. Do you have a favorite variety?
    • Yes. Pinot Noir, but Syrah is a close second for some of the same reasons
    • If so, what is it about that variety that takes your breath away?
      • Pinot Noir, when done right, has an ability to maintain both elegance and wildness that is true to its varietal character.  Wines that are just cherry or berry can get boring.  Pinot Noir can conjure flavors that are within the realm of nature that reflect a sense of place so transparently.  I do not like wines that are confusing to the variety or soda pop style manufactured.  I prefer personality to perfection and Pinot Noir speaks to me best.
  10. What’s your favorite innovation in the wine industry over the past few years?
    • Not so much an innovation, but a reinvestment in native fermentation.  I think with certain vineyard blocks over time there can be discernible consistency of savory components that mark the wine when a natural fermentation has been allowed to start.  The alcohol intolerant native yeast species certainly do not finish the fermentation but they do leave their unique profile on the wine that emerges.   We have embraced more native ferments lately.
  11. What’s your favorite food and wine pairing?
    • Fresh caught abalone and Moniker Chardonnay.  It’s locavore heaven.
  12. What are your interests outside of the wine business?
    • Surfing is a huge love of mine.  I see it as the purest form of interaction with Mothers Natures whims.  Surfing gives a workout physically and emotionally, but always leaves me feeling like a kid again.  We are lucky to be close to coastline that offers up some stellar swell without huge crowds.
  13. Who inspires you (wine business or outside of it, doesn’t matter)?
    • Guys like Charlie Barra and Paul Draper who got into wines and wine growing, found their style and have stuck with over all these years of trends, fashions and technological advancements in winemaking and agricultural inputs.  It says something of the people who have stuck to their guns and remained successful and respected.
  14. What single project or task would you consider your most significant accomplishment in your career to date?
    • I was going to say my two sons, but you did specify “career”.  The Moniker Wines are a huge achievement for me as they are the first luxury brand that I got to call the shots on.  Bob was kind enough to give me carte blanche on selecting my blenders and I enjoy the challenge the bar the brand has set for me to reach.
  15. For what would you like to be remembered?
    • In the wine world I would like to be remembered for making wines that made people recognize the abundance of character that Mendocino County’s vineyards are capable of.

Go, Mark!


Event,Oregon,Oregon Pinot Gris,Wine

Oregon Pinot Gris is getting its Gris On, Redux

Oregon Pinot Gris is once more Getting its Gris on, with a statewide tasting to celebrate this varietal wine.

Oregon, Get Your Gris On!™ is wine and food nibble tasting event for consumers and is happening at wineries that want to join the fun, on Saturday and Sunday, September 27 and 28, 2014.

The second largest grape variety being grown in the state of Oregon continues to be Pinot Gris, and Oregon wineries continue to want to build on the strengths of this grape variety:

STRENGTHS of Oregon Pinot Gris

  • Oregon is an perfect appellation, for place of origin
  • Pinot Gris a perfect partner for Oregon Pinot Noir lovers
  • The hallmarks of this variety are purity of fruit, acidity, and brightness
  • It’s an extremely aromatic variety
  • Price works well in restaurants for their by-the-glass program
  • Pinot Gris is an excellent wine for seafood, fish, and certain cheese
  • Oregon Pinot Gris’ palate texture is full and long, versus the Pinot Grigio style
  • It’s a perfect “entry” wine for tasting room customers

As a result, an Oregon Pinot Gris weekend has been created, and consumers can, for the second year in a row, get ready for “Get Your Gris On!™” fun.

So far, the following wineries are committed to Getting Their Gris On!

  • Christopher Bridge
  • Naked Winery Hood River
  • Naked Winery Bend
  • Oak Knoll Winery
  • Pudding River

If you’re an Oregon Winery and want to Get Your Gris On, on September 27 and 28, please just send an Email to me at jo@diaz-communications.com and I’ll list you, too.


Food & Wine,Wine

Salads with wine pairings? Seriously?

You might ask, salads with wine pairings? Seriously?

Yes, I’m here to tell you that it not only works, but it works really well.

When I was working at a winery in the Sierras, we had a chef that worked there every day. It was he who turned me on to the fact that we can enjoy a wine with a leafy salad. I have to admit that I wouldn’t have believed it, if I hadn’t tried it. It works.

This chef’s salad was very basic, in fact; making it simply delicious.

I’ve adapted what he created to my own very basic recipe. The trick is to balance the vinegar’s acid in your dressing with a sweetness from honey and your wine. Then be sure that you have something sweet in your salad, too, like mandarin oranges, cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, etc..


  • Boston Lettuce
  • Edible flower, if in season (nasturtiums, violet, star flower, cucumber blossoms, etc.)
  • Endives (in a circle around your bowl)
  • Mandarin orange slices (dried cranberries or blueberries would also work well, too)
  • Green onions (or chives)
  • Toasted almonds (walnuts or pecans would also work)


  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • A pinch of freshly crushed sea salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of honey
  • 3 teaspoons of wine (that you’ll also be having with this salad)
  • 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup light extra virgin olive oil


For your choice of wines… Think about wines that a bit of residual sugar in them, so that their floral characteristics remain. Some have more than others, so you’ll have to experiment. These wines all tend to be floral, like any the following. Every one would work well in your dressing. You’ll just have to decided which is your favorite:

  • Torrentés
  • Muscat
  • Gewurztraminer
  • Riesling
  • Symphony grape (a crossing of Muscat Canelli and Grenache Gris)
  • Niagara
  • American Concord
  • Müller-Thurgau (a crossing of Riesling with Madeleine Royale)

And, don’t forget, if you find a wine variety that has residual sugar, like a Chenin Blanc or even a Chardonnay, like the 2013 Pam’s Un-Oaked Chardonnay, from The Rubin Family of Wines*, you won’t have to go too far to find your wine. If you don’t have a favorite brand that has a white wine with residual sugar, an option for you is to order a wine from Oak Knoll Winery*, located in Willamette Valley, Oregon.

*I offer these examples, because I work with these brands and know what they taste like. If I had other samples sent to me, I’d be offering those too. I freely offer what I know.


Wine,Wine Blogger,Wine Writer

Looking for free wine writing content?

Free wine writing, does this happen anymore?

When wine blogging first got going, I got emails like this a lot, as a sign of the times… Bloggers wanting their names to become associated with wine sites, and they were willing to give away their content to build their credibility.

I’m not willing to write for free, except on my wine blog, as it turns out…It’s my wine career journal, for the most part. I’m not an armchair hobbyist; although, my wine blog is a hobby, because no one is paying me when I’m putting something onto my blog.

I usually write about wines, because they’re sent to me; but, rarely writing about wines that I work with. The reason I don’t write much about clients’ wines is because – even though  they’re great wines – it will seem biased.

Honestly, if the wine is crappy, I’m not going to be the publicist who will take on anything. If I don’t believe in something, I can’t advocate for it.

And, most importantly (thanks, Mort), I write about wine all day long, not just on my blog. I’m a wine professional (over two decades of writing about wine for private companies, and I’m paid pretty well). I’m not a newbie trying to prove myself. There’s too much history wrapped-up in what’s on my plate and how it got there. It’s free on my wine-blog.

While I don’t mind being aggregated, I’m just too busy to take on writing assignments as a hobby. I guess I have to state that more clearly on my Contact/Use page.

Here’s a classic example, for those of you looking for free content to enrich your sites.

Just aggregate…

Hi Jo,
We’re an internet wine retailer located in name-the-state. We’re in the process of restructuring our website to add some extra features. One of these new features will be a section devoted to Wine Blogs. I’d like to know if you’d be interested in either being a regular contributor to our blog section, or as an occasional guest blogger. We’re looking to build a solid following with contributing writers and share their ideas and opinions with our customer base. As far as content and how often you would like to submit an article, that is entirely up to you. With what we have going now, the product reviews and food pairings seem to be the most liked, but we would like to also expand on the topics a bit more. Any work submitted would immediately be posted to our blog section, as well as posted to all of our social media. Included would also be a link back to wine-blog.org and a link to your “about” page. Please feel free to respond to this email at your earliest convenience, so we can discuss the steps to go through to make this happen.

Just aggregate, people. It’s pretty painless.


Books,Flavors from the World of Wine,Food & Wine,Wine

Pairing Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen with delicious wines

Pairing Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen recipes with some recently tasted wines was a great education for me.

REMINDER from yesterday: Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen, published by Fair Winds and written by Joni Marie Newman, offers fresh ideas and flavor combinations for anyone, as it would for any vegan on the path of finding culinary satisfaction. The book is subtitled: 125 Comfort Food Classics, Reinvented with an Ethnic Twist!

Yesterday’s story of Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen and great wine pairings was an interesting writing process. First I tasted the wines, then I found the recipes for the perfect food to complement the wines. This is Part 2 of yesterday’s story.

Not only am I making food and wine pairing suggestions here, but I’m also telling you why these pairings are perfect for each other. Each wine, forgetting the vintage, comes from a winery that’s offering consistency, as best as it is able. So, when one vintage becomes unavailable, reach for the next. The essence of each wine will remain.

And, one more thing… I’ve not listed every single ingredient in these dishes. I just want you to get the essence; just as I’m not completely laboring about the flavors in these wines. I’m just going to give you the temptations.


To correspond with the chapters

  1. Sauce
    • Thai Peanut Sauce (page 21), to go with the adjoining recipe.
      • Based on peanut butter, which is very rich and creamy, a wine with great acidity will complement any foods that accompany this sauce.
    • Thai Peanut Chicken and Waffles (page 90)
      • This chicken recipe demonstrates how you can satisfy a vegan with just a waffle, while also offering your other guests who enjoy chicken a delicious and flavorful meal for all.
    • 2013 Pam’s Un-Oaked Chardonnay
      • I’ve chosen this one, because I know two things about it:
      • It was crafted for customers who asked winemaker Joe Freeman to craft a Chardonnay that has a bit of residual sugar in it, so they could make these kinds of pairings.
      • It’s a tad sweet, which means that it works well with dishes that have a bit of spice’s heat in them… Heat + sweet = complete.
  2. Hors d’Oeuvre
    • El Paso Egg Rolls (page 44)
      • Fresh jalapeno peppers, avocados, cilantro cumin, oregano a sesame sauce (included in the book) are screaming for a wine with guts and glory… I know just the one.
    • 2012 Robert Biale Vineyards Black Chicken Zinfandel
      • This wine has been around since Prohibition.
      • Aldo Biale, grape grower Bob Biale’s father, was making this wine, and when people wanted to buy it from him, they’d call and ask for the Black Chicken. CODE: A wine that’s got oomph in it. It will stand up to the spices and herbs listed above, made creamy by the sauce and avocado.
  3. Mélange in a Bowl
  4. Twisted Table
    • Wonton Wrapped Lasagna Napoleons (page 86)
      • Wontons that wrap up anything are great small bites.
      • Tomatoes, olive oil, Cotija-Style tofu crumbles (page 112), basil chiffonade, capers, kalamata olives, spiced ketchup (page 23)
      • Did we mention no cheese?
    • 2012 Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon Villages, by Michel Chapoutier
      • We’re running with a Rhone wine here… a bit gutsy, a lot tasty, a sumptuous pairing for an unusual food and wine experience… Heavy emphasis on the “un” in unusual.
      • The Les Vignes de Bila-Haut is a wine that I found to be extremely complex and tasty. The natural olives flavors found in the wine will perfectly complement the olive oil and kalamata olives in this recipe.
      • This combination will make you a culinary food and wine star.
      • Your guests will ask you when you went to the Culinary Institute.
  5. Nibble & Nosh
    • California Curtido Kimchi (page 107)
      • Shredded red and green Cabbage (OMG, do I dare?), baby bok choy, garlic, jalapenos, cilantro, celery, dill, paprika… (Yes, I do.)
    • 2012 Trivento Argentina Torrentés Reserve
      • Torrentés is one of my favorite white wines. It aromatic and floral, there’s a softness about it, and this one is a really delicious example.
      • This wine brings its fruit flavors together with vegetable flavors of the recipe: citrus fruits – orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit, with honeydew and apple.
      • Again, the sweet will help with the heat.
  6. Whet Your Whistle (this one is a cocktail)
    • Lemon-Lavender Green Tea Martini (page 135)
    • Speaks for itself
  7. A Sweet Finish
    • Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake Truffles (page 160)
      • Cocoa powder, apple cider, cinnamon, vanilla… all flavors that you’ll get in a Petite Sirah, with the exception of the apple cider. these flavors will create a seamless experience with a light and lively Petite Sirah.
    • 2012 Oak Grove Petite Sirah
      • It’s a young, simple Petite Sirah, the best entry Petite Sirah that I know… and it’s under ten dollars, so you’ve got very little to lose and everything to gain.


I believe this book will be one of the best additions to your cookbook collection. When it’s all said and done, my wine and cookbooks will never leave me in this lifetime. I schlepped many of them from Maine to California, costing a bundle in shipping fees. They’re the books of life. Treasure your moments with your food and wine books. They nurture us in immeasurable ways.



Books,Food & Wine,Rock n'Roll,Wine

Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen and great wine pairings

When Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen arrived, I wondered how limited the audience could be. Yeah… Not even.

If people think that being vegan lacks flavor or excitement, think again. Jose and I have really pared down the foods that we do eat, and he’s come to have even more discipline than I have. For most of our 30+ years together, it’s been the other way around, when it comes to food. When Jose becomes committed, however, we all just have to step out of the way.

While he’s not a vegan person, he’s still perfectly happy to explore the foods within this world, because now it’s all about finding new flavors. He’s eliminated so much from his diet that fresh ideas and flavor combinations are what he now craves. It’s no longer about quantity. It’s about quality, and he’s become pretty youthful again in this regard.

Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen, published by Fair Winds and written by Joni Marie Newman, offers fresh ideas and flavor combinations for anyone, as it would for any vegan on the path of finding culinary satisfaction. The book is subtitled: 125 Comfort Food Classics, Reinvented with an Ethnic Twist!

Yes, indeed.

And, if you’re not vegan, think of the book this way… It’s got the greatest, most unique vegetable dishes you’ll ever see in one place at one time. Consider your friends who come to visit for special occasions. You’ll never have to fret again.

I have an amusing life story that has to do with fretting and having a request for getting something together for a fellow vegetarian in the mid 70s. This story is a warning to never let something like this ever happen to you, by being unprepared.

Peter Frampton was coming to Lewiston, Maine to perform in a concert, which was being produced by my friend Andrew A Gavatsos. Because I was probably the only vegetarian that Andrew knew at the time in that area, I was asked to get something together for dinner for Peter. Honestly, if I had just stuck with what I knew… raw fruits, veggies, nuts, or a nice soup… I would have hit a home run. Instead, I thought that I had to “cook” something. With no internet and no vegetarian books, I got a recipe for cabbage in God only knows what cookbook I had. I was eating mostly raw foods at the time… Not cooking for myself and my daughter. What I didn’t know is that this was a recipe for sour kraut… Yeah, it was that bad, but I didn’t know it, because I had never cooked it, or even eaten it.

Oh my gawd…. I actually delivered it to Andrew and he brought it to Peter. From what I heard, it hit the wall.  Thankfully, I wasn’t there to take a bow, or not…

So, for you, my dear friends, you don’t want to make this mistake. Keep a great book around with flavorful, substantial foods that a vegetarian or vegan might enjoy. (Anything in this book will also satisfy a vegetarian, without it also hitting the wall).

Favorites for me are below, and I’ve also paired them with recently tasted wines. This will give you an idea of what will work for food and wine pairings for these dishes, if someone is so inclined.

And, by the way, I did meet Peter Frampton later in the 80s, and took this picture; but, I didn’t mention the sour kraut, for all of the obvious reasons. (Sorry, Peter.)

Tomorrow, I’m going to publish my favorite food and wine pairings from this book and recently tasted wine, corresponding to one dish from each chapter. I first thought of the wine, then picked a dish. Get ready for some really tasty treats.


Opinion,Wine,Wine Blogger,Wine Business,Wine Writer

Some common misconceptions about wine blogs + reality checks

The following are some are common misconceptions about wine blogs, and I’m taking it a step further by presenting a reality check to go along with each misconception. This is coming from a seasoned wine pro, who is also blogging. Additionally, I’m very aware of the cadre of wine writers who’ve come before many of the next generation, which is priding itself on being up to speed. The floodgates were opened, when Web 2.0 launched everyone and anyone (including me) into being an online publisher. True credentials will come after a decade, as it’s proving itself to be true and correct.

How I got to this subject is pretty interesting, I think, so I’m going to share it.

I had just finished two wine blog stories. I write on weekends, because during the week, I have to write for clients. That’s my day job, my blog is my hobby and “escape.” Still, I like to have five blog stories, one for each day, ready for the following week. I may get a zinger during the week, and not be able to hold back. Mostly, though, they get put together on my weekends.

Back to “after the two stories.” I decided I’d go to Facebook and ask the question: “I feel like writing one more blog post today. I just finished two of them, but am lost for what next to write. Anyone have any suggestions?”

My life guide, mentor, love of my life Jose Diaz, gave this link to me: HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator. Jose spends his days keeping informed in all things related to the internet. He’s everybody’s fix it doctor when their sites are having problems, and he’ll get to the bottom of it. Failing is not one of his options. Those who know him love him as much as I do in this regard, and can’t imagine their websites existing without his help. And, he’s very responsive. Last night, he was repairing a client’s site that had been hacked… on a Friday night, well after hours.  Imagine your own IT guy, 24/7… Yeah, that’s our Jose.

So, I went to the site, and after entering three nouns (wine, blog, and lifestyle) it suggested  A Week of Blog Topics, Just for You

  1. 14 Common Misconceptions About Wine
  2. What Will blog Be Like in 100 Years?
  3. 10 Signs You Should Invest in lifestyle
  4. Tools Everyone in the Wine Industry Should Be Using
  5. Things Your Competitors Can Teach You About blog


I chose number one, but modified the number and added reality checks, in order to help others, not just leaving them hanging. It may also help other wine bloggers, who want to write about substance and give you a broader audience than your own peer group. It’s been discussed that wine bloggers write for other wine bloggers. While this may be true, think about how Robert Parker became so famous. He was writing as an authority about that which he was experiencing firsthand, and sharing with family and friends… Not writing for other wine writers.

  1. It’s important for wine bloggers to write for other wine bloggers.
    • No, it’s not.
    • Your area of influence will be gained outside of this circle, from family and friends, who will learn from you.
  2. They will someday be well monetized.
    • Don’t plan to quit your day job any time soon.
  3. If you’re a wine publicist, you can’t write about your clients, too.
    • You can and you should.
    • It’s what you know best.
  4. People won’t consider you a hack for writing about your clients.
    • They will, unless you put your client into context of what you’ve learned.
    • Along with… who and why you’ve included your client into that particular story.
  5. If you’re a private contractor, someone will hire you so you’ll be blogging about him or her.
    • You may or may not.
    • It’s your choice, not your client’s.
  6. You will be writing about your clients.
    • Maybe you will.
    • And maybe you won’t.
  7. It will have you be considered a wine pro in no time.
    • Any “pro” is considered such after much study and hard work.
    • It’s not like you’ve just studied to become a wine expert.
    • However, if you just got some creds (like Master Sommelier or Master of Wine), then you’re going to get there a lot faster.
  8. Simply writing about the wine you just tasted is a compelling read.
    • This is the main reason that samples aren’t being doled out the way they used to be.
    • Add some history to what you’ve written, your story will then have a bit of depth to it as a real story.
  9. “Page Views” is a compelling number.
    • Sorry… a huge amount of page views is coming from Google and other search engines, roaming your site and optimizing certain words, like “wine.”
    • Ergo… it can view a lot of your pages, every single day, adding the same word over and over again that it’s there.
    • It’s unique visitors to your site, minus search engines, that tell you how many people are really reading your stories each day.
  10. Wine blogs are so important.
    • Only to your unique visitors, so do the right math to really understand how many people are really reading your blog.
    • This will have you write what your true visitors are really interested in reading.


For instance… I know that I’m aggregated by wine industry news websites. They’re part of my audience, so I know that I’m writing for professionals within the wine business. But also, I know that I have many consumer friends who are reading my blog. I consider both of these audiences as equally important.

I also know that very few wine bloggers are reading my blog stories, because I don’t write to or for them. I wouldn’t even begin to know what they’d want to see, besides my recommending them as blogs to read within my own audience. After that’s been done a couple of times, and it has, one must move on, n’est ce pas?