Wine of the Week ~ 2015 Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay from Chile

2015 Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay from Chile

Consistently tasty wine from Casillero del Diablo is something you can bank on as a great value, I don’t care what grape variety it is. When it retails for $8 to $12 in the US (average, not the same pricing in PA or Puerto Rico, for instance), it’s an easy crowd pleaser.

Casillero del Diablo from Concho y Torro wines are what the wine business refers to as “line-priced.” This means that regardless of the variety you’re buying, it’s the same price across the board… From Chardonnay to Cabernet Sauvignon, every bottle sells for $12.00. In our world, these wines are very affordable, and can easily become your own “house” wine.

Upcoming parties?

  • Graduations
  • Bridal Showers
  • Weddings
  • Anniversary parties
  • Gather around the pool or a lake
  • Barbecuing and having appetizers before hand…

It’s not a complex wine, it’s just straight forward crisp, leaning toward a medium bodied wine. If it were made in America, you’d be paying at least a third more (that’s how imports work… a long story).

Don’t expect tannins, and do expect new world flavors. In the new world, climate and terroir differs from Old World wine’s complexities.

This wine reminded me of the day I finished so much writing that I just wanted to enjoy the rest of it with an easy drinking Chard that would melt away the world. I just wanted to claim a bit of Nirvana for a few hours. It delivered. Just a little Diablo, some freshly popped popcorn with butter (both organic foods), and another episode of Shameless.

All a bit devilish, if you ask me, and it really worked.



Colorado,What we love the winery,Wine,Wine Business

When the party arrives in a box ~ Mon Dieu, Decadent Saint, Rocky Mountain High

C’est dans l’ sac ~ Decadent Saint ~ What we love, the Winery

  • Two 12 ounce cans of “Refresher” Seltzer Water
  • 1 bottle of NV Ruffin Prosecco Sparkling Wine, Product of Italy
  • Decadent Saint
    • Batch 9, Bottle 902: Decadent Saint White Sangria
      • White Wine, Real Fruit, Fresh Spice
      • A Gold Medal Concetrate
      • Rocky Mountain Crafted
      • 20.5% Alc/vol
    • Batch 9, Bottle 902: Decadent Saint Fire or Ice Sangria
      • Red Wine, Real Fruit, Fresh Spice
      • Drink Hot or Cold
      • Rocky Mountain Crafted
      • 20.5% Alc/vol
    • Batch 9, Bottle 902: Decadent Saint Rocky Mountain Rescue
      • Red Wine, Dark Chocolate
      • Decaf Coffee, Berries and Spice
      • Rocky Mountain Crafted
      • 20.5% Alc/vol

What to do, what to do, what to do… Where do I start?

Yogi’s deja vu, all over again…

When I was reading the recipe on the bottle to Jose, it reminded him of prohibition days for home winemaking:

“After dissolving the brick [of grapes] in a gallon of water, do not place the liquid in a jug away in the cupboard for twenty days, because then it would turn into wine.”

Decadent Saint’s Recipe:

What makes decadent saint a bottled revolution? First ever 20.5% ABV wine-based concentrates. Just – add – water & each bottle makes 3-5 bottles of pure decadence.

In the process of reading the recipe, that memory for winemaking was triggered for the 1920s alcohol Prohibition, with today’s Prohibition being about hemp in most states. Since this beverage is crafted in Colorado, not from an illegal state, nor is it made from hemp – legal or not, the entire irony just made us laugh…

First to the PR person ~ Doug Brown of Bruno Red Star

Great job. You delivered what we used to deliver as a matter of fact; then the InterWeb turned everything upside down and backwards, and today this kind of box is:

  1. An anomaly
  2. A curiosity
  3. So rare an occasion that you got my immediate attention
  4. Deserves to be told, because you guys HAVE GUTS, and I know guts

A full press kit arrived. A boss gave this crew all of the time it needed to get the word out. This used to be my job – for what felt like a very long time, but really just a decade ago. You gave me all that I could use and more. And, these Decadent Saint beverages are all from Colorado… a high state in all of the legal senses now; geosiologically and metaphysically.

Which recipe to follow, which bottle to open.

I think that this is going to take a while, to do the entire arrival perfect justice. Since Jose and I were visiting with our friend Corinne Reichel, and I knew that dinner was going to involve beef, I chose the Batch 9, Bottle 902: Decadent Saint Fire or Ice Sangria, and followed the recipe on the bottle for the Decadent RED MIMOSA.

  • The bottles of Decadent Saint concentrates makes up to 3 to 5 bottles of beverages.
    • Just add water, bubbly waters, or sparkling wine
    • Our Decadent RED MIMOSA, I added 3 parts of the NV Ruffin Prosecco Sparkling Wine, and one part bubbly water for the three of us.
    • Stays fresh for months once opened.

Get ready for the alcohol, which is why it’s really important to make the mixes: 20.5% alcohol. The first sip was getting used to something new. The rest of my glass? Great sipping prior to dinner, finished mine, and thought, “How fun!” The flavors and spices are reminiscent of the last quarter of the years and those parties, but I won’t wait until they arrive again this year, before I get myself another glass to enjoy from this bottle.

Thinking ahead to the Batch 9, Bottle 902: Decadent Saint White Sangria… The summer parties are coming up and I say, “Bring back the punch bowls, everyone! We’ve got a winner here!” What a fun ride for college parties, graduations, wedding showers, beach parties, and the fourth of July!


Decadent Saint, the nation’s only producer of  wine-based craft concentrates today announced a coveted Double Gold medal win at the highly acclaimed Finger Lakes International Wine Competition (FLIWC).

The Double Gold was awarded to Decadent Saint’s White Sangria. A Double Gold at Finger Lakes equals a score of 99-100 points and means that every single judge who assessed the wine issued a Gold Medal score.

This news marks another milestone for the Boulder-based craft winery. All three Decadent Saint products have now won Gold in international competitions.

The flagship product, Decadent Saint Rocky Mountain Rescue makes a supreme “Black” or “White Russian,”  an alcoholic “Throwback Spiced Chocolate Soda,” as well as a hot mulled wine.

At 20.5% alc/vol, Decadent Saints are concentrates, made to be diluted with water, seltzer or champagne. One 750ML bottle makes 3-5 bottles, in terms of servings.

These beverages are leading the way for other companies to step outside of the box in a really unique way.



We’re all in Pursuit of Balance

I just got this E-Mail; although, I also read their press release, so I did know about this one.

Dear Friends,

We announced yesterday that we’re closing IPOB at the end of 2016. Therefore there will not be another membership tasting.

We are very grateful for your interest in IPOB, and we wish you all the best in your endeavors.

Full press release is here: http://inpursuitofbalance.com/#/concluding-ipob/

Warm regards,

Cc: Mary Christie ; Rajat Parr


Jasmine Hirsch

In Pursuit of Balance

The Press Release

Founders of the influential California winemakers’ group end the organization on a high note.

May 23, 2016, San Francisco — In Pursuit of Balance (IPOB) co-founders Jasmine Hirsch and Rajat Parr have announced that their organization of noteworthy California winemakers will close operations at the end of 2016.

“We created IPOB to change the dialogue around the meaning and importance of balance in California wine,” Hirsch said. “As we look back on what we have achieved, we’re gratified by the response of wine producers, the wine trade, and wine lovers who have accompanied us on our endeavor to affect the dialogue surrounding California wine. Together, we have brought this conversation to the fore of the global wine community.”

“IPOB was founded to show what balance in wine means to us,” Parr added. “It started as a small event to draw attention to producers who weren’t chasing after ratings from wine critics. It wasn’t supposed to be an ideological war, but we felt that balanced wines (in California) weren’t being paid enough attention to by the wine community, so we decided to shine some light on what we were doing.”

The San Francisco-based nonprofit group was formed in 2011 by Parr, proprietor of Sandhi Wines and Domaine de la Côte in Santa Barbara County, and Hirsch, the general manager of Hirsch Vineyards on the Sonoma Coast.

Not an easy decision, I’m sure…

To all things, there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven…


Bordeaux,Education,France,Imports,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Culture,Wine Education

Bordeaux ~ The Aquitaine Region ~ partie huit

I’m learning about Bordeaux, a big piece of my wine puzzle that’s been missing since I began my wine journey in 1993. When one moves from a state like Maine to California, California wines just take over, especially if you make California wine your business and not a hobby. [Do you know that Maine is also a province in France? This is why so many of us in Maine have French DNA.]

California’s the natural learning curve, when you’re living here. But, wines from Bordeaux? It’s definitely a “later” thing. And, here I am, learning, thanks to a Millesima Wine Merchant‘s promotion. It inspired me to learn, as just an educational endeavor, for the sake of personal knowledge. My crash courses haven’t been to become a MS, MW, or any other credentials, that would have more focus on world wine products… Although I do have my PR credential.

Bordeaux ~ The Aquitaine Region

Who knew it was interchangeable ~ Bordeaux and Aquitaine? Certainly not me. Lesson 1 for today.

Bordeaux ~ The Aquitaine Region is the largest fine wine vineyard area in the world. It falls on the 45th Parallel.

SIDEBAR: When working with Oak Knoll Winery and wondering where it placed on the globe, I found that it, too is on the 45th Parallel. Is it any wonder that Oregon Pinot Gris is also so delicious? What an interesting position to be in; half way from the equator half way from the tip of the North Pole. One would think that this is a perfect growing area for grapes, for balanced acidity and slow ripening… One would think, if one was studying viticulture, and so it made perfect sense to me to advocate for Oregon Pinot Gris. What a great project, so I asked Jose to build a site for Oregon Pinot Gris, and we still advocate for it. People want to know more about Oregon Pinot Gris; so we’re the Pro Bono crew, because it’s the right thing to do.

Onto the Aquitaine…

This region is blessed with temperate winters. It has long, warm summers, with cooling coastal breezes and fog from intersecting rivers; and for some areas, the Atlantic Ocean. This makes for ideal grape growing conditions, given their excellent terroir, micro-climates, and the unique history of the Aquitaine region. Bordeaux set the standard for fine wine a very long time ago. For more info, click on this link: The Bordeaux 1855 Classification.

Aquitaine geography is a region placed in the southwestern corner of the France and is world-renown for its Bordeaux wines.

In the northern region, Dordogne is hillier. Upstream from the Dordogne region (department), the hills get higher and the valley gets deeper. This region has picturesque villages, which offer gourmet cuisine and many historic sites worth visiting. The south of Aquitaine also has visual attractions, like being on the Atlantic Ocean Coastline. It has beautiful beaches; the Bay of Arcachon, for example; and lovely coastal villages. From Arcachon Bay, one only has to drive northeast to visit historic Bordeaux chateaux. I can only imagine the glorious roadways, since I’ve not been to France, yet.

[Copyright: azgek / 123RF Stock Photo ~ Purchased Photo]

Where I would Like to Go ~ Left Bank Châteaux

  1.  Château Margaux
    • I’ve been lusting after a 1945, what can I tell you… for years… (This “lusting” link takes us back to my first public lust, published in 2009.)
    • A Sauvignon Blank would also be a major treat, since this is the white wine of Bordeaux. I’ve had Cabernet Sauvignon from all over the world, but not one from France. Imaginer!
  2. Château Haut-Bion
    • Interesting history, besides excellent and consistent wines.
    • The Château Haut-Brion estate dates back to April 1525. Jean de Pontac married Jeanne de Bellon, the daughter of the mayor of Libourne and Lord of Hault-Brion. Jeanne had a dowry, including the land. In 1533, Jean de Pontac bought the title to the domain of Haut-Brion. Construction of the château begun in 1549.
    • I want to feel history, put my hand against the outside wall and just feel it.
  3. Château Latour
    • This one is painful, but is still one that I would like to go full circle with.
    • Winemaker Denis Malbec was born at Latour, which means that he not only learned to walk in between the barrels and bike in the vines, but he also learned vineyard and winery management early on with his father, Jean-Noel Malbec. Jean-Noel was also born at Latour, working there for 47 years. His tenure was from 1947 to 1994. Jean-Noel was Cellar Master from 1969 to 1994; and his grandfather was Camille Malbec, who worked in the vineyard from the 1920s, until the end of the 1970s. He started at Château Latour as one of the cellar workers in 1993 and took the position as Enologist and Cellar Master at Château Latour in 1994 and made the vintages from 1994 to 1999.
    • Denis came to the US and made a great name for himself.
    • DECANTER: Napa Valley recoiled in horror last weekend after it emerged that Pauillac-born, consultant winemaker Denis Malbec had been killed in a car accident at the age of 46.
    • Years ago, I got to write a biography for Denis, for Respite Wines. I want to see where he rode his childhood bike through the vines, and where he stood on the river’s edge as a kid. I’ll raise a glass of wine to his vivid spirit.
  4. Château Lafite-Rothschild
    • Let the history lesson begin…
    • The Rothschild dynasty: In the late 18th century, Mayer Amschel Rothschild, a merchant in the Frankfurt ghetto, had five sons, which were to all go into different directions: Salomon went to Vienna, Nathaniel to London, Carl to Naples and James to Paris, and Amschel Junior remained at his father’s side in Frankfurt.
    • In 1922, Philippe de Rothschild, at the age of 22 and the youngest son of Baron Henri and great-grandson of Baron Nathaniel, took the destiny of the estate in hand.
    • 1930 was the launch of mythical Mouton Cadet wines.
  5. Château Mouton Rothchild
    • Let the history lesson continue…
    • Baroness Philippine Mathilde Camille de Rothschild and Robert Mondavi were great friends. She was the only daughter of the vintner Baron Philippe de Rothschild, a member of the Rothschild banking dynasty. I was only one degree of separation. For me personally, Robert Mondavi was a great boss, a real inspiration. Together Mathilde Camille and Robert Mondavi had a dream and called it Opus One. Working for Mondavi meant that I could also visit Opus One as an insider, and I did. I’d now love to see where the Baroness spent her days in France.
    • The day I walked into Opus One’s wine cellar and saw every barrel in such a pristine condition, stained with wine in the center of the barrels (only) with their glass bungs… Ah… It simply took my breath away.
    • Also, for this one… as for all others… It’s all about the wines and the passions behind each wine character.

It’s all about the greatness and I dare to dream…



Event,Napa,Wine,Wine Business,Winemaker,Winery

It’s all about the Silverado Pickups and Tres on Bass and Guitar

I love rock and roll. I’m a product of The Summer of Love and then working for rock station WBLM in the 80s. I’m deeply into it, because music is a universal language, and I hear it. Have you ever noticed that when music is playing somewhere, a child about the age of two can’t seem to help him or herself from dancing? When that child dances, we know exactly what that joy is about, no words need to be spoken; we understand.

Hold the phone, Henry!

Jose is working closely with Robert Biale Winery, and he turned me on to the fact that Tres Goetting, their winemaker, is in a band, and they’ll be performing at Bottle Rock 2016. Aha… This one is for you, Silverado Pickups! Break a leg.

It’s coming up this weekend, but it’s sold out, just so you know.

From their Silverado Pickups Website:

Band members and co-conspirators include Napa Valley wine Industry vets David Duncan of Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars (vocals and harmonica), Jeff Gargiulo of Gargiulo Vineyards (lead guitar), Shane Soldinger with Silver Trident Winery (vocals and guitar), Dan Zepponi of Valley of The Moon (lead guitar), winemaker Tres Goetting of Robert Biale Vineyards (bass guitar), professional percussionist Joe Shotwell, and notable wine-industry advisor Paul Hoffman (keyboards).



Wine,Wine Ed,Wine Writer

The Top 10 Joys of Writing, from mostly wine writers

The Top 10 Joys of Having Wine Writer Friends

I crowd sourced on Facebook for this one. Many of my friends’ stories were repeated, proving that we’re all part of the same tapestry. This story was inspired by my friend Pamela Kline… Number 1 below… when she declared the following and it got me to thinking. So, to satisfy my curiosity, I asked the following:

As a writer, what’s your greatest joy about writing?

  1. You get to jump up and down with them, when they declare something like this:
    • “Okay, so I ignored my posts, and my friends, and my games, and my health, and my house, and my dog, the news, but not my girl. I stopped dusting and watering and cooking and shopping, but not the gym. I stopped listening to music, and talking and reading most stories, but not my book group picks. I did and did not do all this in service of a book that I have been writing for about three years now. I just finished the first draft of it, this moment, made my first reader cry. He is walking around shaking his head, speechless. It is a life story, told through the prism of 17 dresses. Now the real work of editing begins, but for the moment, there’s a kind of peace that makes me smile, and an energy that will allow me to clean out the coffee pots and sweep the floors.”
    • Pamela Klein of Some Feet Not Meant for Shoes
  2. Validating all of the processes: Getting the story that’s bubbling from within to just be “out,” it’s such a relief!
    • Alissa Fehr Leenher: Finding the phrase, word picture, string of ideas to convey the sentiment or message that has been bubbling. Waking inspired and ready with the time and space to create. Knowing that it has been seen and known and been given life in another’s eyes. The relief and catharsis in getting it out.
  3. Knowing that stories written remain timeless…
    • Tracy Cervellone: Looking at a finished piece, some time later, that I still really like.
  4. They find their “deepest purpose,” said Steve Heimoff, and I know it’s true.
    • Gwendolyn Lawrence Alley What I learn about my subject in the process of writing about it followed swiftly by being able to share those insights and influence others.
  5. Many of buddies’ purpose for writing is mentioned as their life’s purpose is, to educate. They know something and they’re driven to share. (That’s all I’ve even known, too.)
    • Taylor Eason My motivation has always been about educating on a subject. And then watching as the info soaks in. Fun!
  6. Not only to educate, but to also create and inspire.
    • Alison Crowe: Helping someone learn something new that is really useful for them. Pure joy and mission accomplished.
    • Rich Mauro: I have enjoyed writing (and reading) ever since I was in middle school. It helped that I showed an aptitude for it. From the beginning, I have seen writing less as an instrument of self expression (though, it certainly is that); more as a process that facilitated learning, discovery and understanding. I don’t expect to dazzle readers or touch an emotional core. If that happens, it’s a bonus. I do hope to provide context and perspective that others will appreciate. I get the greatest satisfaction when others tell me they learned something new or came away thinking about a familiar topic in a new way.
    • Sondra Barrett, PhD: I love writing most of the time and the biggest joy, like Alison said, writing something that changes a person’s life or outlook, that confirmed what they knew, that inspires.
  7. Independent souls… all.
    • Paul Gregutt: After years working in radio and television, both on air and in production, I turned to writing because it freed me from dependence on others, from the need for expensive technology, and from the rigors of a fixed work schedule. That remains my greatest joy.
    • Deborah Gray:  For me, writing is actually engaging in the pursuit that brings me the most pleasure and sense of fulfillment in life. I wish I’d discovered that many years before I did. I feel compelled to write; I cannot not write. Ideas, plots, characters, dialogue and story lines swirl around my head all the time and some of them make their way to the page as fiction. With non-fiction it is a desire to provide accurate information, insight and perhaps inspiration for others, to enable them to move forward in their own career choices.
    • Norman Albers: I cannot proofread my own mathematics, hardly.
  8. All of them are so great at the entire process, so they inspire me:
    • Michele Anna Jordan: Probably the single most joyful aspect is crafting a sentence I love, turning it into a paragraph and then a story that expresses exactly what I wanted it to. Nearly as joyful is the process of discovery I go through as I am writing narrative, the way I learn what I think and what I want to say as I write. It is quite magical and I live for it. Connecting with readers and all that comes with it is deeply satisfying, as well, but it is the art of narrative prose that brings me the most joy.
  9. Filling a need yet fulfilled:
    • Pamela Heiligenthal: In the late 90s, I saw a need to generate an independent wine source to open the communication between writers and readers. I didn’t like the one-directional model where writers penned articles with no way for readers to engage with the writer. In 1999, I built my own content management system and hooked it to an online Internet forum to allow enophiles to engage with wine pros.
      It became very difficult to build and maintain the site while keeping the trolls and spammers off the site. So I abandoned the prototype a few years into the project. In 2003, WordPress came to fruition, and I knew this platform would revolutionize the way we would communicate with readers. My greatest joy about writing is having that engagement with the reader, and having the freedom to write what I want with minimal editor oversight and control. This is what this platform brings—the ability to publish content quickly with little oversight, and engage with readers in a meaningful way. This is why I write and why I care about sites like-Enobytes—to bridge the gap between consumers and wine industry professionals and to promote the exchange of ideas between pros and enthusiasts alike.
  10. The end product and relief are great feelings.
    • Eric Arnold: Finishing the job so I don’t have to write for a while.
      • BOOK: First Big Crush ~ It’s a dirty love affair
    • Walt Perry: Love the self-editing process almost as much as a positive reception.
    • Tim Fish shared this image, and qualified it (every writer knows this one well… don’t even let the phone ring!)… “When you’re on deadline…”
    • Virginie Boone Hitting send.

The End!


Austria,Bubbly Wine,Importer,Imports,Wine,Wine of the Week

Wine of the Week ~ 2015 Biokult Österreich Rosé Secco

Austrian wines are really so delicious. Taste their wines, and you learn a bit about their culture. Their motto: arrive and revive. I’m sure that it has a lot to do with their mountains, for starters.

From the Austrian Info Website:

The miracle of Austria is that all of its wine regions are incredibly easy to visit. In fact, once you step off the plane in Vienna, you have already arrived in one of the world’s most unique wine regions.


  • Vienna ~ The only world capital which makes wine within the city limits.
  • Styria ~ in the south, South Styrian’s Wine Road (Südsteirische Weinstrasse) is often compared to Italy’s Tuscany.
  • Burgenland ~ the eastern part of the country, Burgenland sits on the edge of Central Europe’s vast Pannonian plain.

I recently received some Austrian wines to taste. Delicious and organic… Nothing makes me happier. For those who care for the land, who are working in concert with what’s right about farming, it makes the environmentalist inside of me so pleased. I’ve long been treating my body as a temple. I am what I eat and try really hard to be as clean as possible. (Sure I cheat, but not as often as I fast from foods laden with chemicals. If it’s in a box or can, I don’t eat it… except for occasional pastas from Europe.)

So, to deliver organic wines to my doorstep, thanks, Natural Merchants. They are a leading importer and distributor of the finest natural and organic foods, as well as organic and biodynamic wines. They source their products directly from the Mediterranean. Very cool… Never been there, but also very close.

2015 Biokult Österreich Rosé Secco

The wines that arrived are all spectacular. For today, I’m focusing on the 2015 Biokult Österreich Rosé Secco Organic Wine, made from organic, Austrian grapes. From Natural Wine Merchants’ Web page for this family.

The Michlits family is one of the most creative and influential organic wine growing families in Austria. Their products and their production methods are revolutionary for the region. Not only have they been able to understand and implement the use of non-trimmed vines in the region, but the use of biodynamic methods and the translation of these into new production standards are awe inspiring. The family owned cattle herd of over 50 Angus beef combined with organic/biodynamic wheat production are the most important tools to improve the soils and the vines that grow on them. Over the last few years the soils have been able to regain their original vigor and diversity.


This Biokult Secco, which I nearly gulped down, I highly recommend it. It’s like someone opened up all of the windows, after a long winter. A breath of fresh spring air flooded my senses, with a tiny zip in its step. Winemakers Angela Michlits, made this wine using Pinot Noir grapes. The appellation is from the Neusiedlersee, the lower region of Austria. Strawberries hit me first, and then a crisp, effervescent, tangy medium finish. It was all I needed with this delicious wine. I was very easy to enjoy…. Almost too easy, with its 11 percent alcohol, one doesn’t have to worry as much about that second glass. Very well balanced and an Old World style; if you find it, just stop in your tracks and bring it home. It’s going to be the crowd pleaser! It’s about $19 a bottle, and well worth every yummy drop.



Event,Jose Diaz,Napa,Stags Leap District,Wine

Magic Cellar Rendezvous ~ Celebrating Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District ~ Part 2


Another day to leave the office, and explore more of my wine world? When I got the invite to experience Napa Valley for an important weekend for so many specific vintners, I had to decide… Chained to my desk, or go exploring? People come from all over the world to discover Napa. How could I even question myself?

Well, there were two sides to be weighed here, both leading to something… And then I knew, a different perspective would open my windows for a bit more intake, let in something new and different. Adventure… I had to leave the desk and let the day evolve.

Off we went to Napa Valley on Saturday, April 30, 2016. Jose and I first collected our media badges at Pine Ridge. While Jose’s great to immediately get involved in social media, I have to noodle it all around for a while. So he was done, day one. A couple of weeks later, here’s my take on this lovely day.

In The Beginning

For this first time at Stags Leap District Annual Vineyard to Vintner, we decided to visit places that have a long standing history worth exploring. Another year it could simply be the families which are small, and had opened their homes to visitors, while pouring their own wines. Another year could be returning to places where we had been in the past to see what’s new. There’s any number of configurations which would work. For this time, it was going to be satisfying our own curiosity of historic locations, and we were well rewarded: Chimney Rock, Pine Ridge, Shafer Vineyards, and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.

The Visit ~ Chimney Rock

Before being this entrenched in wine, a friend gave us a bottle of Chimney Rock Merlot. Our first, not our last. Meanwhile, step one was planted in our brain for why to visit Chimney Rock.

My next adventure was when I was working on a winery cat book, so I thought. I was chasing down Marilyn Merlot in the mid 1990s to take pictures of her.  It was well worth the visit, while I stalked Marilyn’s whereabouts. I found her in the back of the winery, on a stairwell’s wall going up toward the azure blue sky. The curve, oooh, it made her look so important right on that wall. I was impressed. She sat still and stately, as I clicked away in the days of my SLR 35mms… photographing Winery Cats.

I also had a fantasy of Winery Dogs, and photographed a few as I went along to get cat shots. If I had been independently wealthy, I’d have that registered names and books; but, as fate would have it, a full time winery job opened up. I settled for a story in Coral Gables’ The Wine News, “Cat O’Wine Tales” it was called. Marilyn’s picture made the cut for inclusion. It was published in the 1995 June/July issue.

This time in 2016, I wasn’t stalking cats, 20 years later. Jose and I straight away entered Chimney Rock’s wine cellar with media passes, 20 years later and catching images as I went along.

A reception meet and greet by Assistant Winemaker Laura Orozco was followed by walking us through their wine cellar… Intriguing. Red roses, such a feminine touch. Appetizers being served to the guests. Meanwhile, Jose was whispering to me that he’s known about Winemaker (and general manager) Elizabeth Vianna, for years. “Probably his Wine Spectrum Days,” I thought to myself. During those days, Jose met some very impressive winemakers and tasted their wines, because he was telemarketing their gems and jewels. A great time for him, while I was traveling the states in sales and marketing. Jose was learning about who’s who in winemaking, while I was learning about who’s who in wholesaling. Processes…

I could tell Jose was gaga for Elizabeth. That meant that she must be someone I need to know, too. It was she, on this day, who invited us back for another visit. It’s now written into the “someday soon” column. A woman who can direct wine and manage all winery operations? All I can do is nod my head and think “yes.”


Elizabeth Vianna was eager to tell us about her history and wines, in a quick, passion-filled snapshot while we were tasting… The wines were delicious, well made, great balance, powerful messages in the bottle…

  • Great grapes from Napa Valley.
  • Terrific balance in the wines.
  • Solid Structure in flavors and finish.

I knew why this was an important link that I should be making on this day.

A red carpet led us through the cellar experience… right over to… [Photo by Jose Diaz: Elizabeth Vianna and Jo]

Well Appointed Music

As I was enjoying just “being” in the cellar, this image of guitars leaning against stainless steel fermenting tanks gave the cellar an edge… Whose guitars are they? And, where are their people? And then, they appeared, Duo Gadjo. The music… I felt like I was inside the movie A Good Year. You know the scene; Max is embracing Fanny Chenal, and saying, “Forgive my lips. They find joy in the most unusual places.” Warm, silky images of the countryside and a chateaux, table cloths and old books on shelves… How romantic. I knew the music had French influences…

On Duo Gadjo’s Website page

She was born in France. He was born in San Francisco. She listened to Piaf, Montant, and Trenet. He listened to Louis Armstrong and Muddy Waters. She is Isabelle Fontaine. He is Jeff Magidson. Together they are known as Duo Gadjo. Their music celebrates the union of two cultures, largely inspired by the sounds of the 20’s and 30’s, when jazz was the thing and Paris was the place to be.

I continued to take pictures with familiar and comforting background music, and then I knew it was time to let go. I had all I needed to know for right now; more would come later. We had had that magic rendezvous in the cellar. The one I knew was waiting, and then coming away with more great wine memories.



France,Wine,Wine of the Week

Wine of the Week ~ An Ode to Bila-Haut

The 2015 Bila-Haut Rosé, Les Vignes de Pays, d’Oc Indication Géographique Protégee is deserving of its own ode… Delicious every day, with or without the rhyming, it’s poetry in crystal.

Domaine de Bila-Haut, Roussillon on the Rise, Rhône Leader Michel Chapoutier’s “Bila Heights” believes that “Roussillon has the potential to be as great as Bordeaux, Burgundy or the Rhône.”


Ode to Bila-Haut

Oh, Bila-Haut, you are such a delicious Rosé!

What joy you bring to every glass

Each sip I taste has such delicate class…

I open the bottle and shout hooray!

Strawberry compote has nothing on you

Drops of strawberry and honeydew…

Like my Aunt Edit’s vase of Cloisonné!

You bring back such a great reflection

of my last sip’s inspection…

Nothing’s changed, I’m happy to say!

Only the vintage

and the work of the label artist…

2015 Bila-Haut Rosé

Your label is written in braille.

This makes for such a caring tale…

Bila-Haut Rosé, Les Vignes de Pays

d’Oc Indication Géographique Protégee.

Again, I shout hooray!



This is a sample from H.B. Wine Merchants, New York.


Jo's World,PR 101,PR Advice,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Publicist

What I Would Love to Tell Clients ~ But, they’d think I was just making excuses

Purchased image copyright: kasto / 123RF Stock Photo


This morning, Cathy Huyghe – a brilliant journalist for Forbes (Harvard grad, et al) and an independent wine writer for “Hungy for wine” was at the Mobile X Festival 2016.

While attending, she wrote on Facebook and then quoted the following:

PR people’s greatest challenge, in this changing world: “The era of the press release is dead. No one reads or trusts them. It’s used just to improve search results.” D Busk, Coke ‪MobileXFestival

D Busk: Global Group Director – Digital Communications & Social Media at The Coca-Cola Company.

[Jo Diaz screen shot of Web page]

Busk’s only got one brand in a limited supply of sodas… In wine, there are now over 10,000 spirits and wine brands in the world. This is what wine PR people are well aware of these days.

  • Distribution of press information is Act One.
  • Act Two is followed up with constant and consistent communications with others. It’s a slow process. Sticking with it – like I have with a client’s particular story – so I could talk the talk – eventually gets results.
  • If my client is a knitter, for instance, and I want to explain that process, besides wine, I have to learn to knit. (Well, I don’t, because I was once a prolific knitter, but you get my point, right?)

Finding those media people I can trust and meet the client’s standards is of the utmost importance to me.

At my current years of experience, I feel like I should get ahead of the pack, having already been there… but the field has become cluttered with PR wannabees, as well as new writers who also want to do it “their own way.” I have to filter all of that out, before someone in media is worthy of a client’s time and energy, never mind finally going through the process of writing the story.

Busk has just articulated the current climate really well. It’s hard to understand, unless it’s your day-to-day. I, for instance, don’t live through clients’ own experiences, either; so I have to try to imagine their nightmares, too… And, they do, when they share.

Yeah, I can’t send this story to my clients, but I can write a story about it, so I can sleep well at night.

This is at least one reason why I write on this blog, if anyone is interested.