Cabernet Franc,Cabernet Sauvignon,Merlot,Syrah,Wine

Wine of the Week ~ From Croatia ~ Josić Ciconia Nigra Cuvée Superior 2013


  1. THE HEART OF THE DEAL ~ THE WINERY: info is coming from the company’s own statements
    1. I can’t make up their history
    2. Nor am I to try
    1. Imported by The Wine and More

If you love wines and also enjoy traveling, Croatia will be a true gem to discover. The geography and climate of this country are home to numerous grape varieties. There are breathtaking vineyards, I’m told, and there’s truly delicious wine varieties. I’ve had the pleasure of tasting a few wines from Croatia, and I did get to add one more to my list:


Josić Ciconia Nigra Cuvée Superior 2013


The region – Wiki: Slavonia is, with Dalmatia, Croatia proper, and Istria, one of the four historical regions of Croatia. Taking up the east of the country, it roughly corresponds with five Croatian counties: Brod-Posavina, Osijek-Baranja, Požega-Slavonia, Virovitica-Podravina and Vukovar-Srijem.

In 1999, the Josić family, from Osijek, bought an old wine cellar built in 1935. They restored the old building, while equipping it with modern technology. Still, they preserving the traditional look and charm of the original wine cellar.

Josić is now one of the fastest growing wineries in Baranja, and a new Slavonian favorite among wine lovers, especially the more adventurous Millennials. We’re all becoming increasingly aware that Millennials are gravitating toward anything they want, carving their own path into wine, just as my generation thought drinking wine from a sheep skin sack was cool and groovy. Whatever path is taken, expansion is always the name of the game, and this wine has all of the earmarks of becoming a classic.



Simultaneously to the winery being restored, they bought four acres of old vineyards. This is a top quality, dry red wine from Cabernet Franc (35%), Syrah (30%), Merlot (20%), and Cabernet Sauvignon (15%) grapes. At 13.5 percent alcohol, this wine is a truly food friendly wine.  I don’t have any other info on winemaking practices, so you’ll just have to try it to taste the clean, fruit forward wine, that’s really well balanced, and lingering finish, and a truly enjoyable experience.


As I just wrote. This Josić Ciconia Nigra is a real keeper. If you have an American palate, you’ll have to take a few extra seconds to taste and come to realize… It’s not an American fruit bomb. It’s delicate, in its boldness of varietal types…. A cleverly disguised vamp that comes into its own, once you’ve taken the time to discover for yourself it’s lusciousness. It’s a flirty wine and it was all mine, as I enjoyed one glass after another. I highly recommend this wine to those among us with adventurous sous, those who want to discover what the world of wine has to offer… stepping outside of the box and right into enjoyment. And, make sure you have great foods to enjoy with this red wine. It was made for good times, great food, and complementing the total package.



Wine of the Week – Stella Prosecco for the Spring Equinox


  1. THE HEART OF THE DEAL ~ THE WINERY: info is coming from the company’s own statements
    1. I can’t make up their history
    2. Nor am I to try
    1. Imported by LLS (Leonardo LoCascio Selections), a member of The Winebow Group)
    2. Creative Palate

Stella Prosecco


Following a recent makeover, and just in time for spring, Leonardo LoCascio Selections (LLS) is pleased to introduce Stella Prosecco, a new addition to its Stella collection of Italian wines. Stella Wines offer an inviting taste of Italy, where Prosecco is affectionately known as “The Welcome Wine.” Italians love their bollicine (bubbles), with a glass of lightly sparkling Prosecco a favorite way to welcome visiting family and friends. Spring debuts on March 21 (the vernal equinox), transitioning to summer on June 21 (summer solstice). From Easter, to Mother’s Day, to the Memorial Day holiday weekend, bridal season and beyond, there’s no shortage of excuses to pop a cork and celebrate with a glass of Prosecco in the months to come! Stella Prosecco is a lightly sparkling wine, made in the Veneto region from 100 percent Glera grapes, Stella Prosecco is fresh, fun and easy to enjoy.


The Glera grapes are harvested in the Veneto region of Northeast Italy, surrounded by the Dolomites and the Adriatic Coast. Mountain and sea influences converge to produce a wine that is smooth and refined on the palate, with effervescent notes of green apple and pear. Stella Prosecco is made from fruit grown in a vineyard planted in 1986. No “Johnny-come-lately” here, but a vineyard with longer roots, managed by a vineyard team with the experience to produce the best results. At the winery, the team does not rush the process: the fruit remains on the lees a total of 30 days (10 days for the first fermentation, 20 days for the second) for enhanced flavor and body. The final sparkling wine comes in at a relatively moderate 11 percent alcohol – ideal for parties and summer entertaining.



Books,History,Napa,Wine,Wine Writer

Napa at Last Light ~ Like a deer in the headlights, I entered the pathway

Where to begin, where will it end?

I was asked to review James Conaway’s book Napa at Last Light. Like a deer in the headlights, I entered the pathway. This is, no doubt, the most controversial book I’ve ever read about our beloved wine business. Because this business is so agriculturally based, and I’ve been personally involved in all agricultural preservation since the 60s, this book means a lot to me. And, it’s given even more insights into what we’re all doing in the business of wine.

Napa at Last Light will really make you think. James Conaway has pulled out all of the stops, I believe, to prevent a potential on-coming freight train of destruction, at this 25-mile long valley of diminishing capability for expansive continued growth. Basically, there are only two ways for ag tourism growth to go… Either pull out vineyards to build more razzle-dazzle on the valley floor, or go up the hillsides and remove Mother Nature that way. However, there needs to be more thoughtful respect given to Mother Nature’s agricultural growth, in either direction, so water is not negatively impacted in this process. And this, my friends, is the crux of Conaway’s angst… Enough angst, that he set about to write this very important, historical body of work.

As I was explaining this book to someone recently, he wanted to know James Conaway’s credential, just to be certain I wasn’t become emotionally involved in something that could turn out to be pure speculation. I told him that James Conaway has been living this story for years. Then, when I read the press release “Wine Women to host best-selling author James Conaway book signing and conversation at St. Francis Winery,” I was able to quickly list his credentials. Quoting:



A former Wallace Stegner writing fellow at Stanford University and an Alicia Patterson journalism fellow, James Conaway is the author of 13 books, including the trilogy: “Napa: The Story of an American Eden,” (1990); “The Far Side of Eden: New Money, Old Land, and the Battle for Napa Valley” (2002); and now “Napa at Last Light: America’s Eden in an Age of Calamity.” [2018]

Frank Prial, writing in the New York Times, said Conaway was “a reporter with a Saroyan-like sense of humor and a Balzac-like eye for detail,” which made him very happy. That book has been in print continually since 1990 and people still tell Conaway they enjoy and learn from it.

Napa’s sequel appeared in 2002. The Far Side of Eden: Old Land, New Money and the Battle for Napa Valley was a Washington Post Best Book of the Year and described in the New York Times Book Review as “an important story, emblematic of our time.”

…Conaway has also written for several magazines over the years, including The New York Times Magazine, Atlantic, Harper’s, The New Republic, Gourmet, Smithsonian and Nat Geographic Traveler.

So, that takes care of James Conaway’s credibility,

but not the double-edged sword, yet

A double edged sword exists. Let me explain…  This sword is made up of agricultural concerns on one side, and ag tourism on the other. The handle of this sword is water… Everything (from people, to land, to water rights, etc.) around this controversy is based on either side of this sword. Water is the life blood of lives and livelihoods… the handle.

Is water truly that important? Our bodies are made up of water, with the average adult male being comprised of about 60 percent; adult woman, on the other hand, are made up of 55 percent water. (We women have more fatty tissue than men do, hence, slightly less.) Water is life, no water is barren and called a desert.

QUOTE – Page 219

The common element in all Napa’s conflicts has been neither industrialism nor tourism, but water. Sometimes a minor player, usually a major one, water dogs almost all discussions. It was waste runoff that first drew…[people]  into the world of [each other], and the use of city water that heightened contention between [more people]. Run off from a proposed vineyard…on Howell Mountain brought St. Helena into a fray, too, and both state and federal regulatory machinery. And in… [another] epic, water played the lead in all its guises; purity, destructive potential in flood, utter ruin when absent.

I have so many thoughts about this book… I want to let you not only form your own opinions – because of the two sides presented – but, I also don’t want to finger point in either direction. There are very credible people (in their own right) on both sides of this sword. And even people in the middle, being local organizations… Some want tourism, some want preservation, some are protecting the Napa River.

What I want to just make you think about the long term effects; i.e., do you want Napa Valley to become a complete Disneyland of Wines, as it’s beginning to be proclaimed; or, do you want to work in and visit Napa Valley, and continue to find yourself among the Redwoods and conifers, above the valley floor and vines on the floor of the valley, in a conscientious, guarded evolutionary manner?

There’s that balanced handle to consider. Can water be preserved in a sensible and logical way, so that in the future Napa Valley is not poisoned by too quickly stripping mountaintop lands? If this happens haphazardly, Napa is doomed – At Last Light. If it’s conscientiously evolved, Napa Valley will continue to be a true worldly gem.

Remember, Napa water averages only 25 inches per year – in a normal year. In 2013, only eight inches fell, due to what you want to call it – (Democrats) global warming or (Republicans) climate change. Either way, change is in the air, period, and what we do now will impact the future, either negatively or positively.


Will There Be a Kenopsia

Agriculturists want to keep the mountainsides in pristine condition, because, it’s the life blood of this valley; i.e., the Redwoods are deeply rooted and holding back the soils from flowing down the mountain sides, like what we just witnessed in Ventura County, when rains came and fires left the soils loose enough to just become mudslides. That impacted water quality. If you don’t believe it, just ask anyone who lives and works in Venture County.

Will Napa Valley ever have that eerie forlorn atmosphere of a place, which was usually bustling with people, but then became abandoned and quiet… like drive-in-theaters of so many years ago? It takes about 50 years for time to replenish itself, once stripped. Or, will it survive the onslaught of progress, for the sake of commence above all else. That… is… THE… question of the century. Can this sword handle be held in balance?


Mendocino County,Petite Sirah,PS I Love You,Wine,Wine of the Week

Wine of the Week ~ Mendocino Wine Company Vertical of True Grit Petite Sirah


  1. THE HEART OF THE DEAL ~ THE WINERY: info is coming from the company’s own statements
    1. I can’t make up their history
    2. Nor am I to try
    1. From: Mendocino Wine Company

A bit of a back story, first…

In 2002, when I began PS I Love You, the advocacy group for Petite Sirah, the wines were very big, and “rustic” was a common description. I got to thinking about how Petite Sirah kinda reminded me of John Wayne, and this quote from him, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” This inspiration is what it took for me to think about Petite Sirah, in order to get through a tasting of 20 or more Petites, using John Wayne’s own words. Louis Foppiano, who first introduced me to Petite, wanted a Petite Sriah symposium and so I delivered. Once the group got going, I wanted to describe Petite in my own words, not the usual, tastes like…. (name that blueberry fruit). And so I wrote and then created a handout for the members of PS I Love You: Petite Sirah, The John Wayne of Grapes, Is Our All-American Legend

I handed it out to all of the members at the time, and here’s the key point:

It takes true grit to get it, this Petite Sirah. It’s not for fainting ladies. It’s not for the White Zinfandel crowd. It’s for the cowboy or cowgirl in all of us. Fasten up your spurs, Partnah; we’re headed for a ride!

So, today, since Mendocino Wine Company is a member of PS I Love You, and I’m still the founding executive director, I’m not going to wax poetic about the flavors. What I am going to write about is the total experience,and there’s a lot to talk about here.


A Mendocino Wine Company Vertical of True Grit


2017 marked the 85th anniversary of Parducci Wine Cellars, the longest running winery in Mendocino County. Family-owned and operated by the Thornhill family, the Mendocino Wine Company continues the tradition of making award-winning wines using sustainable wine growing and land use practices. They have created an example for how to leave the world a little better than they found it. In recognition of their leadership, the State of California three times (2007, 2009, and 2014) has awarded Parducci Wine Cellars with the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), California’s highest environmental honor.

THE SCIENCE OF THE DEAL ~ from winemaker Bob Swain

2004 True Grit Petite Sirah

  • 97 percent Petite, 3 percent Viognier ~ A small amount of Viognier lifts the nose (adding an aromatic white variety is an Old World, Rhone Valley Technique
  • Mendocino County
  • Harvest dates 9/16/2004, 9/27/2004, 10/13-14/2004
  • Aged in 56 percent French oak and 44 percent American oak ( 23 percent of the oak was new, but not broken down for us)
  • Alcohol is 14.5 percent
  • 1380 cases

2005 True Grit Petite Sirah

  • 92 percent Petite,  8 percent Grenache
  • Mendocino County
  • Aged in 18 months in neutral French and American oak, after blending ages six months in seasoned French and American oak
  • Alcohol is 14.5 percent
  • 28 cases

2006 True Grit Petite Sirah

  • 94 percent Petite,  4 percent Grenache, 2 percent Syrah
  • Mendocino County
  • Aged in 14 months in seasoned oak barrels, before blend was assembled and aged 11 months in 28 percent new American, 28 percent one to three year old American and 44 percent seasoned oak barrels prior to bottling
  • Alcohol is 14.5 percent
  • 2,036 cases



I hadn’t looked at the tech notes first, I need to let you know. I really wanted to explore and find what would join (or not) these wines all together. When a new wine is launched, if there are reasonable resources available to experiment and find a winemaker’s groove, launch time is the best time for experimenting. And that’s just what winemaker Bob Swain did… Just compare the above notes, for starters.

So, as I tasted, consistency wasn’t the key phrase, which made me realize that this is just the beginning. Someone finding his perfect elixir was going on, for sure. And, we have to consider that this was a new wine and there were big decisions going on. I was tasting history and evolution; true and remarkable grit differences.

Two constants, I do have to mention,

  1. The same terroir ~ Mendocino county. So, we would have to study very closely the season.
  2. Color – because it really stood out, was the brilliant violet/red of each wine’s color. The lack of tannins breaking down was extremely noticeable, not only in the color, but also when I tasted these wines. There was virtually no oxidation of any kind. It was just remarkable that these wines had tannins to spare for other wines not so formidable.

[Image: Ansel Adams, from Digital TV Art]

2004 True Grit Petite Sirah ~ The 2004 True Grit was the most smooth of the three.

2005 True Grit Petite Sirah ~ The 2005 True Grit in between.

2006 True Grit Petite Sirah ~ The 2006 True Grit had the most tannins

Do I attribute this to the wines themselves? Do I attribute this to each year the wines lose a bit of tannic structure? No, I don’t. If you look at winemaker’s Bob Swain’s use of oak, this is the indication I see. Oak barrels also have tannins, and with aging in the teens, the difference from one year to the next would be more negligible. So, it’s OAK…

  • French and American oak both used
  • Differing amounts of time
  • The use of new and older barrels

And the blends:

  • 2004 – 97 percent Petite, 3 percent Viognier
  • 2005 – 92 percent Petite,  8 percent Grenache
  • 2006 – 94 percent Petite,  4 percent Grenache, 2 percent Syrah

Clearly there are three completely different expressions of Petite Sirah from one producer (Parducci) and a winemaker given free rein to experimenter.

Looking for a very different experience in a vertical? This one is really it. This is a great lesson in winemaking, for anyone wanting to compare vintages from one year to the next, when a new brand is being launched and a winemaker has the resources to experiment.

I did have a favorite. I can say that. It was the 2004. Perhaps it was the Viognier edge? Perhaps the tighter grain of French oak, so less oak is absorbed into the Petite, which delivered a bit more fruit? We’re all so different, so I’ll be curious for others to experiment with this one and get back to me.

It was a grand time, regardless, and I’m so fortunate to have had this experience, that is for sure. True Grit, an extraordinary dream realized…




Education,Enology,Wine,Wine Chemistry,Wine Education,Winemaker,Winemaking,Wines

Fundamentals of Modern Wine Chemistry: March 8-9, 2018

Clark Smith is offering a refresher course, which has drawn cheers from 4,000 winemakers, since 1984.

Fundamentals of Modern Wine Chemistry
March 8-9, 2018
Odd Fellow Hall
545 Pacific Ave.
Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Tuition is $350.00: It includes a two day workshop, 500 page syllabus, and wine and music workshop.

REGISTER Here for Fundamentals of Modern Wine Chemistry

Clark’s Fundamentals Syllabus is included in the cost of the class

This course condenses the essentials of an enology degree into a two day event, applying winemaking theory to everyday practice.

“Smith teaches at Napa Valley College, UC Davis extension, and CSU Fresno, where he has a reputation for making complex concepts accessible.”

-David Darlington
Wine and Spirits Magazine

“Over my many years as a wine industry professional I have worked with innumerable master winemakers, but Clark Smith truly stands above them all. He possesses the most comprehensive understanding of the complexities of wine of anyone I’ve ever known in the business, and his ability to communicate his knowledge to his clients and his students is unparalleled.”

-Dr. Stephen Krebs
Dean, Viticulture and Winery Technology
Napa Valley College

REGISTER Here for Fundamentals of Modern Wine Chemistry

Course Description

Offered from 1984-2008 at UC Davis as an extension short course, this class has consistently received top evaluations from over 4,000 attendees. Its original intention, to summarize the basics of a U.C. Davis Enology education, is now supplemented by emerging postmodern winemaking ideas. Designed to benefit the home winemaker as well as professionals at all levels, the course requires a general knowledge of winemaking basics, but does not demand a formal knowledge of chemistry.

This popular two-day program provides insights into the interplay of chemical reactions that occur in wine and in winemaking, establishing the necessary background for informed decisions on wine processing. This is a course in winemaking theory and practice, and does not provide training in methods of wine analysis.

On the first day, we summarize freshman chemistry concepts of atomic structure, the periodic table, nomenclature, and polarity and use them to examine the basics about acids (pH vs. TA: an introduction to chemical equilibrium), and consider all aspects of sulfur dioxide in wine (a case study in wine chemistry).

On the second day, we delve into crush chemistry techniques, fining, spoilage treatment choices and explore wine’s phenolic structure and reductive properties.  Discussions include vine balance, ripeness, fermentation strategies, oxygenation, uses of oak, microbial stabilization strategies, and emerging winemaking technologies.

The course is taught in an interactive format in which questions and comments are welcomed and real world dilemmas are explored. Feel free to bring any wine you would like to share.  Participants must be 21 years of age or older.

**Upon registration, you will receive a copy of the 500-page course syllabus which should be studied prior to attending the class.


négociant,Rock n'Roll,Wine

New Rock n’ Roller Who’s Segued to the Liquid Side ~ An update, so soon

[Image of Hampton Water / David Fritz Goeppinger]

Jon Bon Jovi and his son Jesse have launched a rosé wine brand.  Always a fan of rosé wines, Jon has realized a dream, by collaborating with négociant Gerard Bertand. Together, they’ve created the  Diving Into Hampton Water brand. Inspired by the Hamptons, of course, where Jon Bon Jovi’s family has spent its down times.

Diving Into Hapmton Water is produced in France’s Languedoc-Roussillon region, under Bertrand’s guidance. This appellation is known for being the biggest wine producing region in the world, and has more sun than any other area of France. It has Mediterranean and Spanish influences, as it borders the northeastern region of Spain. This Rosé should prove to be intriguingly delicious.

Rock n’ Roll Timeline I’ve created since I first launched the concept on June 30, 2008 :


  • Kermit Lynch (1972) ~ Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant
  • Robert Foley (1977) ~ Robert Foley Vineyards
  • Olivia Newton-John (1983) ~ Koala Blue Winery
  • Doobie Brothers manager Bruce Cohn (1984) ~ B.R. Cohn Winery
  • Boz Scaggs (1997) ~ Scaggs Vineyard
  • Mick Hucknall of Simply Red (2001) Mick (of the British pop group) has a winery in Sicily, where he produces a Nero d’Avola called Il Cantante (“the singer”)
  • Mick Fleetwood (2002) ~ Mick Fleetwood Private Cellar
  • Bob Dylan (2002) ~ Planet Waveswine
  • Andy Hill (2002) ~ English sparkling wine Nyetimber, owned by songwriter Hill, who wrote all the hits for Bucks Fizz
  • Sir Cliff Richard (2004): Quinta do Moinho, a vineyard in Portugal, Vida Nova and Wells Wines. Richard has owned his land for over 40 years.
  • Jerry Garcia (2005) ~ J. Garcia wines by Clos du Bois
  • Mötley Crüe (2005) ~ Vince Vineyards (Can’t find any updates of Website. Was it a one hit wonder?)
  • Madonna (2005) ~ A joint owner of the Ciccone Vineyard and Winery in Michigan
  • Dave Pack of Ambrosia (2005) ~ “Vintage 2005 Napa Valley Friend’s Blend.” (Not for sale; for family and friends, per Mike Nordskog, Wine & Jazz magazine)
  • Maynard James Keenan of Tool and A Perfect Circle (2006) ~ He has Caduceus Cellars, Merkin Vineyards and Arizona Stronghold Vineyards and the associated winery, Caduceus Cellars. According to a fan, he’s full on into wine, adjusting his band’s touring schedule around harvesting and anything else he needs to do at his winery.
  • Fergie of Black Eyed Peas (2006 ) ~ Ferguson Crest Wines
  • Dan Aykroyd of Blues Brothers fame (2007) ~In 2007, it was announced that the Dan Aykroyd Winery would be built someday, on the property that Birchwood Estates Wines.
  • Sting (Approx. 2007) ~ Vineyard in Tuscany. He makes a Chianti called Il Serrestori, and began making wines just for friends and family. By 2009, he was selling his 2007 vintage.
  • Les Claypool of Primus (2007) ~ His business card simply reads, “Les.” He sings his heart out, and is now also making great wine under the Claypool Cellars label. His Website claims: Fancy Booze for semi-fancy folks. Les immediately told me, “Life’s too short, you gotta have fun!” This is what I love about rockers… and miss… They live so large and love so hard. Wine happens because it’s there. It’s not the be all to end all, and it’s not for pretension; it’s just to enjoy life a bit more.
  • Eric Turner of Warrant (2007) ~ Cherry Pie Red, Napa Valley
  • Jackson Brown (2008) ~ In 2008, Jackson Brown publicly contemplated turning his Hollister Ranch home in Santa Barbara, California into a vineyard.
  • Queensrÿche front man Geoff Tate ( 2008) ~ Queensrÿche has teamed up with Three Rivers Winery to create a new red wine signature blend called Geoff Tate “Insania.”
  • Foghat’s Roger Earl (2008) – Foghat Cellars
  • Motörhead (2010) ~ Motörheadwine
  • Whitesnake (2010) ~ Whitesnake Zinfandel
  • Train (2011) ~ Drops of Jupiter
  • Paul Cullen (2011) ~ Bad Company ~ Sonata
  • AC/DC (2011) ~ AC/DC Wines (Available through Dan Murphy, Woolworth’s, and BWS liquor stores throughout Australia
  • Digital Summer (2013) ~ Paul Hoffman and Victim Entertainment (V.E.) have announced a promotional partnership between national recording artist Digital Summer, and the emerging wine brand Headbanger.
  • DEVO’s Gerald Casale (2015) ~THE 50 BY 50.
  • Roger Earl (Foghat drummer) (2012 launched a first vintage) ~ Foghat Cellars
  • The Who’s Roger Daltry (2016) – Champagne Charles Orban
  • Jon Bon Jovi (2018) ~ Diving Into The Hamptons



TOP 10 US Wineries Whose Vineyards Present an Extraordinary Biological Diversity in 2017

Biome Makers is an AgTech bioinformatics startup, which specializes in identifying and understanding the microbiome. They provide comprehensive analysis of agricultural and industrial processes. And, Biome Makers uses the power of DNA sequencing to provide detailed insight and recommendations, which allows their clients to improve the output of their fields and the quality of their products. The science of winemaking has many facets. Biodiversity is one aspect that I truly appreciate.

[Purchased Image: Wanida Prapan]


Vineyards biodiversity has its own language. Biome Makers, a startup founded in San Francisco (USA), launched a study of biodiversity from more than 600 vineyards all over the world. They are highlighting and enhancing the plots that register an extraordinary microbiological diversity. The biodiversity ranking, driven by Biome Makers, measures and evaluates the global complexity of microbial communities, as a basis for the biological activity in soils and as a sustainability indicator.

This is an element derived from the respect for terroir and the implementation of good practices in the vineyard. The ranking has been established using biodiversity indexes traditionally used in ecology and other related sciences, based on the richness, complexity and balance of the microorganism communities that inhabit the vineyard soil.

The wineries with a unique microbiological diversity, according to the findings, have been sorted in a top 10 of the year 2017. In the USA, the selected wineries:

  1. Alta Loma Vineyard – Monterey Pacific (Soledad, California)
  2. Bettinelli Vineyards (Napa Valley, California)
  3. Big Creek Vineyard (Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania)
  4. OVID (Napa Valley, California),
  5. Rainin Vineyard – Renteria Vineyard (Calistoga, California)
  6. Screaming Eagle (Oakville, California)
  7. Silver Oak (Napa Valley, California)
  8. Trefethen (Napa Valley, California),
  9. Tres Sabores (St. Helena, California)
  10. The last one is not published due to a confidentiality agreement (Napa Valley, California)



Good News For Performing Artists and Wineries That Play Music in Their Tasting Rooms

[These images are my own, as I had a photography pass given to me by the record company, when I was in rock radio. This one is Daryl Hall, John Oates, and G.E. Smith performing, after I had also been back stage with Daryl and John.]

BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.) and the Wine Institute partner on a new music licensing discount program.

FROM their Website: BMI was founded in 1939, by forward-thinkers who wanted to represent songwriters in emerging genres; e.g., jazz, blues, rock, and country. This was done in order to protect the public performances of their music. Operating on a non-profit-making basis, BMI is now the largest music rights organization in the U.S. and is still nurturing new talent and new music.

The Wine Institute is the voice for California wine, which represents more than 1,000 wineries and affiliated businesses, throughout the state. This is excellent news, as musicians are very much struggling artists, until they hit that HIT. Imagine hearing your music being used, when you know that copyright laws exits; but no one is paying attention to using your music and words, for their own personal, financial gain. If you write, it’s tantamount to having your blog post and images used by someone else.

[Another of my photos: Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick.]

When I first started wine blogging, I found my work ripped off in many instances. I had to write “cease and desist,” and they did. Why? Because my Webmaster husband knows how to find out where these thieves live. Just mention their own address and BAM, gone, faster than you can say pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

Here’s the Good News for CA Wine Institute Members: Press Release

NEW YORK, NY- February 21, 2018 – Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), a leader in music rights management, is pleased to announce its new partnership with Wine Institute, to develop a music licensing discount program for the Institute’s membership, of nearly 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses. This initiative will help California winery owners comply with copyright law, while ensuring that BMI’s affiliated songwriters, composers and publishers are compensated for the use of their musical works.

With the new discount program, Wine Institute members are offered up to 10 percent off their BMI music licensing fees.  When combined with the 10 percent timely payment discount already included in BMI’s Eating & Drinking Establishment (EDE) license, Wine Institute members can save up to 20 percent.

“Music enhances the overall guest experience, whether it’s a live performance outside in the vineyard or recorded music playing in a tasting room,” said Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, President & CEO of Wine Institute. “We are delighted to partner with BMI to provide our members with discounted music licensing fees.”

[Another of my photos: Cyndi Lauper.]

“The majority of BMI’s affiliated songwriters can be viewed as small business owners, just like most wineries,” said Dan Spears, BMI’s Vice President, Industry Relations. “Our songwriters depend on the royalty payments they receive from BMI to make a living, and this partnership with Wine Institute will help to ensure the continuation of great music at wineries across California.”

BMI acts as a bridge between songwriters and the businesses and organizations that want to play their music publicly. The performing rights organization operates on a non-profit basis and licenses approximately 13 million musical works from its more than 800,000 affiliated songwriters, composers and music publishers. Dating back to 2000, BMI has partnered with more than 65 trade associations in the hospitality industry to streamline the music licensing process.

For more information on the BMI/Wine Institute music licensing discount program, please contact Ian Blue at Wine Institute at iblue@wineinstitute.org or BMI customer service at 800/925-8451 or visit www.bmi.com/licensing/entry/winery.




Wines of the Week ~ Domaine Bousquet Gaia’s Red and White


  1. THE HEART OF THE DEAL ~ THE WINERY: info is coming from the company’s own statements
      1. I can’t make up their history
      2. Nor am I to try
    1. From: Domaine Bousquet Gaia

2015 Domaine Bousquet Gaia WHITE Blend



According to Greek mythology,
“Gaia,” is their Earth Goddess. Both wines (below) are blends; one white and one red, from Domaine Bousquet. This is a fully organic estate, located high in the Tupungato Mountains; Mendoza, Argentina.
Domaine Bousquet produces excellent wines, with both French and Argentinian winemaking experts. The Tupungato region has exceptional terroir and ideal weather conditions to produce high quality wines from organic grapes. Proprietors Anne and Labid, and Anne’s father Jean Bousquet are a family wine affair, dedicated to working with Mother Nature, in the kindest way possible.


We are dedicated to farming organically while improving our land’s biodiversity. We believe that the healthier the vineyard, the better the fruit and of course the wine. In other words, by nourishing the land and treating it with respect, we know that the land will give us back its finest fruits. Organically grown vine roots penetrate deep into the soil where they absorb the trace minerals that help to give our wines their authentic regional taste. For this reason, organically grown grapes can express the purity, intensity and varietal character of the local terroir.


This Gaia White blend has familiar varieties: Chardonnay (50 percent), Pinot Gris (35 percent), and Sauvignon Blanc (15 percent). It’s very animated… In this case, it’s even hard to think of any art to represent the experience, beyond the label. It doesn’t get any better than the label’s “Gaia,” seriously. I was first really attracted to the label – yes, I also love art. I wanted to taste this wine that is depicted as someone I’d like to hang out with. Could it be as intriguing as this wine label’s representation of their Earth Goddess? Yes, indeed, as drippingly delicious as my Meyer lemons just picked from the tree. The aromatics of Meyer drifted from the glass, and was front and center, just like first thing in the morning in my home. The blend has a great balance of a grapefruit’s sweetness and acidity, and the finish is pleasantly clean, yet still mouthwatering. A great deliverance from the Earth Goddess, to be sure.

2013 Domaine Bousquet Gaia RED Blend




The blend for this wine is 50 percent Malbec, 45 percent Syrah, and five percent Cabernet Sauvignon. An interesting lead by Malbec. The grapes for this 2013 Domaine Bousquet’s Red Blend were harvested from their own vineyards in Tupungato, 4,000 feet above sea level. At that level of altitude, the soil type is gravel and sand. (Good drainage.) Grapes were manually harvested in the third week of April. Fermentation came from selected yeast, and had a maximum temp of 68° Fahrenheit for 45 days. The wine was then aged in 100 percent, French oak for 10 months.


This silky wine is also quite feminine wine. When it was opened and poured, opaque violet, almost black, color poured into a waiting vessel. No amount of back lighting was going to allow it to soften. It’s richly rich… Aromas of red and blackberries have many layers of a smooth roundness. When swirled and sipped, I experienced a really delicious red wine that has soft rounded tannins. The flavors followed closely with its engaging aromas. I wanted to grab a box of chocolates and repeatedly revisit the experience. The wine was here for a few days, and it WAS revisited again and again, until it just drifted into the sunset. Muy delicioso….


Jo's World,PR 101,PR Advice,Wine Blogger,Wine Samples,Wine tasting,Winery,Wines

You have chosen to do what you do. I hope it is not just for free product.

Yesterday’s blog post conjured up some great questions of this wine blogger.  In the answers, I’m speaking for many of my wine blogging colleagues, too, but mostly from my own perspective.

They’re questions many people wonder about, I’m sure, including trade people. So, here are some insights into my honesty.

Great questions, Debbie. One by one:

1) Will you be able to give unbiased reviews of free wine samples?

My day job is a wine publicist. I avoid tasting notes on my own brands, because I’ve already written them for the clients tech notes. I do write about newsworthy activities, just as I do with other wine brand activities. Example: Ron Rubin Winery is giving away 450 Automated External Defibrillators to every winery in Sonoma County. Each one costs $1,700 to purchase. The math on that is very formidable and newsworthy. The only “catch,” if you can call it that, is that the winery must have an American Red Cross training. The price for that is greatly reduced. Imagine two people being trained for $120, and they get an AED free of charge. That’s big news, and I don’t mind sharing for the benefit of all.

2) I can think of other publications that have crossed the line with companies that have bigger budgets and can pay for advertising.

It’s a really great question. I refuse every attempt to advertise with companies that write the story and provide a link to products that I don’t know, haven’t tried, or don’t want to encourage this kind of advertising. I DON’T get paid to write what I write on my wine blog. I spend about five hours on most blog posts. Five hours to hire a publicist; imagine that cost, now imagine a $20 sample. Who’s winning here? Me, or the brand who sent the sample?

3) There are many smaller importers of smaller wineries that don’t make enough to provide everyone with free samples. Should they be penalized, ignored?

I reiterate, because I’m also constantly having to find ways to get in front of writers with my clients, if I haven’t tasted it, I can’t endorse what I don’t know. (I have a wine reputation of 25 years behind me.) This is simply a fact of brand building… that reviews help to build brands. Invite a writer to visit the winery, build the bonds that way. Brands have to invest in some marketing, because we can no longer just put our wares by the side of the road for sale, and think we’re going to become famous. It’s not penalizing, it’s brand building. In my world, it’s always been: I give and if I get something in return, I’ve achieved something for someone else. If I don’t get something in return, I had no expectations, so I’ve still won, because I gave and move on. (My grandmother told me that I wear my heart on my sleeve, when I was a child. She was right. I am who I am.) I just keep my nose to the grindstone. Every little recognition is to be celebrated, but I have to work for it.

4) Should the wine-drinking world never hear about them?

I do understand your frustration and urgency. It’s very hard when there’s no budget. The brand has be able to take on some marketing, even if it’s only to target one wine writer and work it into a solid relationship. The wine drinking world will hear about them, with maybe just social engagement, for starters. That’s the job of a publicist and/or marketing company. This is what my company offers. And, Just know WHAT TO tell about the clients to wine writers. Gold medals and scores don’t cut it. I learned this the hard way, too. Each writer has his or her own palate. They have to taste it to advocate for it.

5) You have chosen to do what you do. I hope it is not just for free product.

I think by this point you know it’s not for free products, but you still may not know WHY. Why I do this is because receiving samples of wines coming from all over the world is an education for me. It’s an opportunity to sample wines from around the world. I learn geography, history, terroirs (unlike my Sonoma and Napa counties, where I live and learn in the process). I learn about different varieties, too… I’m a member of the Wine Century Club, where we document each variety of wine tasted… So far I’m at 175 different varieties. I do it to learn… and I love it.