Jo's World,Wine

Asteisms ~ Ingeniously Polite Insults

Asteisms… Yes, it’s a TGIF kinda day…

My own ignorance is totally eclipsed by own dumbfounded curiosity. Four years ago, I heard the word “asteism” defined, after hearing a great insult. I actually began this blog story at that time, so I could use this story one fine day, like today.

I’m sorry to tell you that I do have a sarcastic side, inherited from my witty, yet humorless father… His humor always stung like a piercing yellow jacket, hitting you on your shin bone. His “humor” was also missing any laugh lines, on his face or otherwise. Now, if I had just followed suit, my skin wouldn’t be so wrinkled… but, I’m really okay with all of my laugh lines.

Alas… My mother once said to me, “Only a fool laughs at her own jokes.” (Guilty as charged.)

Asteism, I was raised on it. I guess that’s why the word and concept rung so true for me.  I wanted to know all about it, and never understood why I couldn’t find it anywhere on the Web, a great mystery evolved. Recently, while looking again, I found the error of my ways.

For those four years, in my own finite knowledge world, I was trying to connect the dots between Asti, California and the word “astisms”… Yeah, I didn’t have the spelling down, nor did any search engines try to redirect me… So, for years I would drive through Asti, California and think, Astisms… Instead of Asteisms. Now, Asti, California will never be the same, but I’m new and improved, having just – finally – been redirected.

I need to make up my own ingeniously polite (equivocal language) insult for myself; meanwhile, when you grab your glass of wine today, here are a few chuckles to lighten the last day of your week…

I’ve been collecting these for the day that I got to the bottom of my own well’s ignorance…

My dog has a nice big head.

Yes, he does, and that’s where his brain would go.

Grocho Marx,

“I have had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.”

In Little Miss Sunshine,

“I’m glad you’re talking again. You’re not nearly as stupid as you look.”

Julippe? Is that your real name? I was just thinking it was like a nickname or something?

Nope, it’s on my driver’s license and everything. I don’t know what they were thinking at the orphanage at the trailer park.


Petite Sirah,Wine

Off the Beaten Path with Joe Roberts, Red Wine Varieties

I received an E-Mail from FIX that’s worth sharing, about red wine varieties that are off the beaten path, which includes Petite Sirah.

Hey, Jo, My name is Kat and I work for Fix.com. We recently published an article by Joe Roberts, creator of wine website 1WineDude about branching out, and discovering different varieties of red wine. The article explains that while the go-to Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots are always delectable, sometimes we need to try something new.

Joe mentions the Petite Sirah grape in particular. He notes that it is a great variety to try if you usually go for a big, brash and bold red wine. I have been researching people that I believe would benefit from hosting this information and noticed that you have mentioned Petite Sirah wines in the past. I wanted to introduce myself and discuss the possibility of you using some (or all) of the content in our red wine guide on your site or resource section. We’d welcome the exposure to your readers, and I’m sure they would welcome the information, especially if they feel they are facing a wine rut.

I’ve mentioned Petite Sirah in the past… Ah, yeah… From 2002 to the present, I’ve been eating, drinking, and sleeping Petite Sirah. Someone who is outside of the wine business would never know that. Also, many people within the wine business have no clue, either; but I gave her some background and some endorsements from people in the know…

As I looked at this info graphic, I decided that I did like it a lot, for the sake of Petite Sirah and would share it with others, as suggested by Kat, because Petite Sirah is a growing phenomenon. I just read this in the Sacramento Bee, the other day, and thought… okay…

October 03, 2014
“Feast Q&A: Darrell Corti talks farm-to-fork and ‘Legends of Wine’ event”
Sacramento Bee
Chris Macias
How about a red grape varietal that signifies the Sacramento area? Petite sirah. How could this have happened? Petite sirah sells incredibly better than syrah and it wasn’t supposed to be like that. Petite sirah almost became extinct in California. It can be dense, inky and thick and unappealing. Curiously, in areas where people have (success) with it, like Clarksburg, the wine is not like that. There’s a certain lightness to the wine. I think the producers started looking at this wine, which was used primarily for blending, and it was terrific for giving color, and realized it needs a lighter hand in making it.

For those of you who don’t know Darrell Corti of Corti Brothers, he’s “Bacchus in a Blue Overcoat” and you’ll find him in Sacramento. When Darrell Corti speaks, everyone in the Sacramento area listens.

I would enjoy any of the following wines, for those of you who are adventurously daring individuals. I also like that Joe has suggested spicy foods to try with Petite. Chef and educator Joyce Goldstein feels the same way, and made a great presentation at one of the Petite Sirah Symposiums at Concannon Vineyard a couple of years ago. Great minds think alike.

Check it out. This is a fun image on Fix.com.

Source: Fix.com



Scandal continues to amuse in its wine Chateaux Du Bolet ways

Chateaux Du Bolet…

I have a wine friend who’s equally fascinated with the television show called Scandal. Her website is called  Grapefriend, and Jose just found her for me, in a very amusing way, as I was contemplating another blog about this show.

We were watching and enjoying Scandal. As the new Season 4 opens, the main character Olivia Pope is embroiled in a love affair on a far away island, 100 miles off the coast of Zanzibar and having also assumed a new name. Each segment of this program, wine is also involved. Olivia and her lover have just received a delivery of goods, which includes some Châteaux Du Bolet or Châteaux Dubolet. Who knows which way it’s spelled?” The bottom line is that the show has done a great job making up a french Châteaux and its wine.

The gist of the wine is that it’s a rare 1994, only 100 bottles exist as being bottled, and Olivia is now the proud owner of five of those bottles. It could be a Burgundy or a Rhône, because of the bottle shape.  Olivia has spent three former seasons always drinking from a Bordeaux bottle with her wine being in a Burgundy glass.

No wine consultant is on the set is the most logical conclusion… Someone making set decisions and loving the large globe, but never having experienced wine glasses 101.

Please don’t judge this as wine snobbery, it’s not. It’s just understanding the difference between one object and the next… Like a dinner and a salad fork. Most of us know that the small one is the salad fork, the large one is for entrees. It’s like that.

So, to have watched three seasons of someone enjoying wine with a miss matched continuum, and to see us getting closer to the real deal, is helping to solve that real (wine) Scandal.

My first story about this faux pas: The real wine scandal in the hit TV show “Scandal”

The real wine scandal in the hit TV show “Scandal” is the way Olivia Pope holds that Burgundy glass drinking her Bordeaux wine… and when it happens.

Just my observations… The glass has a super long stem, so I put this on Facebook on March 14. I had to go back to check, because I got a great answer from Mary Cressler.

I wrote:

Okay, I have a love/hate relationship with the show “Scandal.” The intrigue, I love. The fast talking is like a bad Seinfeld episode… Not to mention the way Olivia Pope holds her Burgundy glass, slugging down Bordeaux. Yeah, check out the red wine bottles she always pouring her wine from… To suggest that she’s a wine connoisseur, she missed wine components 101… No one holds the glass that way, girl friend, except me 25 years ago.

Mary Cressler, founder of Vindulge:

You mean THIS glass? Burgundy glass.

Yeah, that’s so it. I’d love to see a more positive reason for having wine on this program… They do occasionally portray this character dining with her father and she’s having wine. I’d prefer to not seeing wine primarily used at the end of each day to swig away her stress.

Just me and my humble opinion. We, as an industry, have spent so much time trying to elevate wine from something that M.A.D.D is furious about, to something that’s an everyday beverage to be enjoyed in a way that complements foods and/or with friends, family, good food, and great times.

I believe this show is doing wine a bit of an injustice; otherwise, I love the program.

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Movie,Video,Washington,Wine,Wine Hospitality,Wine tasting,Yakima

Cement Suitcase ~ A Wine Sojourn

Cement Suitcase is a comedy – tragedy about a character named Franklin. He works at a winery in Yakima Valley, and has to deal with life’s blows. It’s an award-winning, independent film about a tasting room manager and his humorous attempts to get control of his life. If you love independent films, and you love wine country, this one will make you feel like you’d enjoy going to this winery and spending time with Franklin. I can see why it’s won so many independent film awards. I also enjoy that it’s included the Latino culture as a lead character, instead of another person just behind the scenes.

As soon as I saw where the movie was filmed, I realized that I had been there… Both at the Airfield Wines company, where it was filmed; and on a separate trip in life, having also experienced a pretty good betrayal in love… Who hasn’t, those of us who have dared to love, and it’s ended up being with the wrong person?

BTW, the name of the winery has not been changed in the movie. It is what it is… Airfield Wines. It also has this splendid wine tasting room that you don’t see in this movie, because Franklin may have broken the wine glass chandelier (above) with his antics.

According to the producers: The best wine salesman in the Yakima Valley is headed for a breakdown, and only two people can help him. One just broke into his house. The other is having an affair with his girlfriend.

For any of my friends who have worked in a tasting room, you’ll be able to identify with many of Franklin’s insights; but also, you’ll think, “Why didn’t I ever think of that?” Franklin turns his tasting room upside down and backwards, reminding me of Bill Cadman (Tulocay Winery in Napa Valley).

I worked with Bill at Robert Mondavi Winery. We were both wine educators. He’d come in once or twice a week, and was actually the first wine tour that I experienced. New educators spent the first day “in the field” taking other educators’ tours. This way, we would witness how each educator had developed his or her own style of their basic wine ed program:

  1. Tour the vineyards for viticulture
  2. Tour the crush area for harvest techniques
  3. Tour the wine cellar to know how wines are made
  4. Attend a tasting, to put it all together

Bill had eyes rolling, having more than a few people asking themselves if they had landed on Mars. It was his description of the chemical process by which wine is made… how carbon dioxide and alcohol are exuded in the fermentation process. I can’t even say it here, because it’s a true Juicy Tale that won’t see the light of day for anyone on this blog. Off site, yeah; if I know you, I can tell you. Here? Nope…

The character in this movie also pulls pranks that are beyond anything I’ve seen in a tasting room, but the theatrics are well worth seeing.

Written and directed by J. Rick Castañeda, Cement Suitcase is a quirky comedy, filmed on location at the Airfield Wine company. Based in the rural wine country of Washington State in Yakima Valley, it’s won several festival awards for its story of someone who finds that it’s time to let go of some baggage. In the process, he can sell a lot of fantasies, along with the wine. It’s his own fantasy that must be rebuilt in the process, however.

If you’re looking for a movie that’s based in wine country and has the nuances of it as a subplot, perhaps you’ll enjoy this movie as much as I did.

Winner of the following awards:

  • Dances with Films Audience Award
  • Santa Cruz Film Festival 2013
  • Official Selection, Tacoma Film Festival 2013
  • Official Selection, Big Bear Lake International Film Festival 2013
  • Official Selection LALIFF 2013
  • Ellensburg Audience Award 2013
  • Director’s Choice Award Gig Harbor Film Festival 2013
  • Eugene International Film Festival Best Narrative Feature 2013
  • SLFF Seattle Latino Film Festival 2013
  • Orlando Film Festival Official Selection 2013

The movie is available on iTunes, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and a host of other cable and streaming platforms.

Here’s a trailer of Cement Suitcase.



Are Genetically Modified grape vines ever going to be good for wine?

Let’s consider if Genetically Modified grape vines are ever going to be good for us… In order to do that, we have to look at studies that are being done independently, many of which are happening outside of the United States, as regards other crops.

It’s also important to note that a study handed off to a university through a grant program by a corporation might as well read, “give us what we want to see, regardless of anything the research group finds.” That’s what has long kept money flowing into any university system.

Meanwhile, other countries are not vested in GMO crops, and they want to know all they can from the current US experiment of an all-age generational study, to protect their own citizens.

I can’t make it more clear… I shudder to think that somewhere in time, someone with vested interests in companies, like Monsanto or Dow Chemical, will come along and want to genetically modify wine grape vines. Look who’s presenting your GMO Answers, below. they’re not scientists, they’re major pharmaceutical/chemical companies.


  • Non-GMO project ~ Genetically modified organism: “plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. These experimental combinations of genes from different species cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.”
  • Science Daily ~  Cross breeding: Classical plant breeding uses deliberate interbreeding (crossing) of closely or distantly related individuals to produce new crop varieties or lines with desirable properties. Plants are crossbred to introduce traits/genes from one variety or line into a new genetic background.

Let me digress into some wondering, because it’s all in line with our most recent development with GMO foods and a government that is supposed to be protecting its citizens.:

Mother Nature has given everything to us that we need naturally. If we weren’t supposed to have wine grape vines, they wouldn’t exist. The same applies to medical marijuana. One has to ask oneself, “What was in those peace pipes ever so long ago?” And, why did marijuana become illegal shortly after Prohibition was repealed? Could it have been to continue to enslave men, since slavery had also become illegal, and prison populations began to decline after the Repeal… Just wondering here.

So, who’s writing what about GMO crops?

  • Collective evolution: 10 Scientific Studies Proving GMOs Can Be Harmful To Human Health = independent studies from around the globe.
  • GMO Answers: Founding Members GMO Answers is funded by the members of The Council for Biotechnology Information, which includes BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto Company and Syngenta. Our members are dedicated to the responsible development and application of plant biotechnology.

MIT, thankfully; but be assured, the GMO proponents will tell you that this MIT researcher has no credentials…

MIT Researcher’s New Warning: At Today’s Rate, Half of All U.S. Children Will Be Autistic (by 2025)

By Nick Meyer On June 11, 2014 ~ “Research scientist Stephanie Seneff of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a widely published author on topics ranging from Azlheimer’s Disease to autism and cardiovascular disease, raised plenty of eyebrows recently with a bold proclamation on autism at a special panel in Massachusetts about genetically modified organisms and other topics.

“At today’s rate, by 2025, one in two children will be autistic,”  Seneff said last Thursday in Groton, MA at an event sponsored by the holistic-focused Groton Wellness organization.

Seneff presented slides showing a remarkably consistent correlation between the rising use of Roundup (with its active ingredient glyphosate) on crops and the rising rates of autism; while it doesn’t show a direct correlation it does give researchers plenty to think about, especially considering Seneff’s research into the side effects of autism that mimic glyphosate toxicity and deficiencies.

The rest of the world is more curious and less vested in genetically modified crops than Corporate US, it seems, than we are.

  • GROUNDBREAKING 2013 STUDY shows pigs were harmed by the consumption of feed containing genetically modified crops. A long-term toxicology study on pigs fed a combined genetically modified (GM) soy and GM corn maize diet, by Dr. Judy Carman, Howard Vlieger, Dr. Larry Ver Steeg, Veryln Sneller, Dr. Garth Robinson, Dr. Kate Clinch-Jones, Dr. Julie Haynes and Dr. John Edwards. Direct link to the study.

November 26, 2013 by True Activist, Geneticist David Suzuki Says Humans “Are Part Of A Massive Experiment, By Arjun Walia

  • DAVID SUZUKI: “It doesn’t seem to be much of a debate anymore, it’s clear that GMOs can indeed be harmful to human health. There is a reason why a majority of countries around the world have permanently banned GMOs, so what’s taking North America so long? One reason might be the fact that biotech corporations like Monsanto seem to be above the government and influence policy, but thankfully these things are changing. Big Island, Hawaii has recently banned all GMO products and bio-tech company products. Various bills calling for moratoria on GE food include Vermont, North Dakota, Boulder, Colorado, San Francisco and more.”

(24th August 2014): Ecologist ~ Cancer deaths double in Argentina’s GMO agribusiness areas

Cancer Deaths Double in Argentina’s GMO Agribusiness Areas: A report by the Ministry of Health in Córdoba, Argentina reveals that deaths from cancerous tumours are double the national average in areas where genetically engineered crops are grown and agro-chemicals are used.

This comprehensive report documented five years of information on cancer cases in the province.

Am I nuts? Those vested Monsanto would tell you, “Yes.”

Lorie from Massachusetts tells it differently, and she’s been observing my communications now for a few years: “Jo, I just [want] to say that while we don’t know each other terribly well you are one of my favorite Facebook friends because everything you post is either beautiful, informative, or thought-provoking. Thanks for never clogging up my wall with useless crap.”

Another view from someone who comments every time I write about genetically modified crops: “Judging from your last comment, you don’t appear to me to be very educated, or perhaps you are willfully blind, but whatever your problem is, cancer rates are declining as per the CDC. And if it were’t for smoking, obesity, sunbathing, lack of exercise and poor diets, cancer rates would be declining more rapidly. GMOs have no effect on cancer rates, except fear of GMO vegetables could result in fewer vegetables eaten and as a result your fearful lifestyle increases your cancer risk. Darwin might predict you are going to go extinct because you are [your] thinking is illogical.”

It’s interesting to note that this person privately told me he’d not be back to my website ever again, and the popular definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results, as if he could “cure” me because – using his words, “don’t appear to me to be very educated.” (Thanks, buddy, my 3.894 GPA didn’t make it to 4.0, because I have philosophical differences with people like you, and I won’t bend just to be in a favorable light.)


Petite Sirah,PS I Love You,Wine

Petite Sirah, The John Wayne of Grapes, Is Our All-American Legend

As regards Petite Sirah being The John Wayne of Grapes… Imagine, if you will, being plucked from your homeland shortly after being born. (Some would argue that you were ostracized.) You’re brought to the Atlantic, where you board a steamship headed for America. You land in New York, are put onto the next train headed to California, and you never look back.

You’re Durif, about to morph into Petite Sirah,

and become an All-American variety

According to wine industry historian Charles Sullivan, Charles McIver of Linda Vista Vineyards (Mission San Jose) imported Durif to the U.S. in 1884, and coined it “Petite Sirah.”

  • Affection?
  • Size of the grape?
  • Couldn’t pronounce “Durif?”
  • Just didn’t want the father’s name to be dropped forever because it would make it harder to tell the story?

Who knows… That’s lost forever, and continues to be part of the mystery of ths legend.

What McIver is responsible for is that he brought the “Wild West” its greatest “Wild Child.” And, like so many others that have made the arduous, culture-shock journey, this is where it has ultimately flourished. Petite Sirah has been fully allowed to express all of its capabilities; not encumbered by what being of mixed lineage would have imposed upon its nature in France. Labeled in France as a misfit, Petite Sirah has solidly proven itself to be “The stuff that men are made of.” Its durable, strength of intensity, and the ability to weather any challenges makes it an all American hero.

Although its grapes are petite in size, don’t be fooled. This burly, manly wine has been able to completely express its concentration of color, flavors, textures, and tannins in ways that could only be imagined in its own homeland.

The American Legend… Petite Sirah

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!

Did you know…

  • Petite Sirah survived Phylloxera.
  • During Prohibition, it was Petite Sirah that was the wine being used as sacramental.
  • It was the wine that home winemakers were being allowed to make and drink.
  • It was the dried grapes that were being shipped back east as raisins (for reconstituting).
  • And, it was the grape that Napa Valley was planted to by 60 percent in the 1960s.


Cabernet Sauvignon,Chardonnay,Diaz Communications,Mendocino County,Petite Sirah,Pinot Noir,PS I Love You,Wine,Winemaker,Winery

If you want a Moniker Wine, name it that… Moniker Wines

MONIKER WINE: it’s not brain surgery, people, but look how long it took someone to come up with the actual moniker as a wine brand. Now that it’s out there, the rest of us are all slapping our foreheads.

Leave it to the folks at Mendocino Wine Company, to branch out into the Moniker realm. I remember when I wrote about Petite Sirah being the John Wayne of wine varieties. I put it out to all of the members to use that as branding… And it was branded by the Mendocino Wine Company. (It’s so great when someone is actually paying attention and understands a good idea.)

Owner Tim Thornhill came to an event that I was holding in Orlando at Universal Studios, being put on by the National Pork Board. The members of PS I Love You were pouring their wines to go along with chef’s dishes. It was then that I learned of Tim’s sharp wit and great marketing savvy. Now, his next generation has joined his wine company… Chase Thornhill, his son, has been given Moniker Wines to market, among his other duties, and success will be his. According to Chase, “Moniker wines represent the best of our family, our desire to do right by our land and by our community.”

The Thornhills have really put their best foot forward with Moniker wine.

Moniker Estates winemaker is Mark Beaman. Mark has always had deep connections to land through his passion for agriculture. He grew up in Walla Walla, Washington, and his family members were wheat farmers. What I really like most about Mark is that the did something that I could only imagine (I didn’t have the guts). He joined the Peace Corps, and worked on soil conservation projects in Tanzania. That kind of dedication and empathy is what I’d like to know a winemaker has experienced… where he’s also worked outside of his comfort zone and wine disciplines.

This is a family affair, currently involving three generations of Thornhills… Ann and Tommy Thornhill, Jr. are the grandparent generation, bothers Tim and Tom (the III) are brothers, and their youngest generation involves Kate Thornhill-Beaman and Chase Thornhill. I can appreciate family working together, because my three daughters have all been helping Diaz Communications at one time or another, between mothering and launching other dream careers. When the Thornhills invested Parducci Wine Cellars, Tom will tell you, “We were looking for a community in which we could make a positive impact and bring our family together.”

Of Moniker, Tim is quoted as saying (and I can hear him saying it), “I learned young that when someone told me I should not do something, it did not mean I could not do it. This spirit lead me to do things like move giant trees, saving and preserving enormous living things. This same innovative spirit permeates the family and Moniker.”

These are very classy wines,

from a classic American family

2012 Moniker Chardonnay, Mendocino County ~ Ripe and resplendent, Golden Delicious apples with a bit of toasty almond on the finish… I’m thinking of the Cambodian Glass Noodle dish at Chinos Asian Bistro. Wine and food porn in your mouth… yeah, that delicious.

2012 Moniker Pinot Noir, Mendocino County ~ This is a hearty and rustic Pinot for me, destined for barbeques of the best kind… with Pulled Pork Sliders. The American oak is what gives it that rustic, American-style edge. Its spice is evident and part of its appeal. Still within the 13 percent alcohol, it’s a wine with great depth.

2011 Moniker Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendocino County ~ Lots of tannic backbone, so either lay it down for a while, or use an aerator to give yourself the most enjoyment for its big, opulent flavors of cassis, blackberries, and a hint of cigar box.This is a big, complex wine.

You could also do what a friend of ours used to always do, back in our rock and roll days. Roman Marcinkiewicz, then of MCA Records, who is now at Masciarelli Wine in Florida, would call a restaurant to make a reservation for that evening, and ask the wine steward to open the wine at 10:00 a.m. for our 7:00 p.m. dinner enjoyment. We’d chuckle at Roman at the time… We were all rockers, we didn’t get the “fine wine” thing. Now we’ve joined the ranks and are making the same recommendations, when a wine calls for it. (Thanks, Roman, for leading the way!)

Do yourself a favor and enjoy a little Moniker… Wines with lower alcohol are always pleasant to the palate and always very food friendly.


Books,Cabernet Sauvignon,Wine,Winemaker,Winemaking,Zinfandel

Have you ever thought about Making Your Own Wine at Home?

Making your own wine is done by a lot of home winemakers. And, if you’ve ever thought about making your own wine, right in the comfort of your home, there’s a great new book on the market. Written by Lori Stahl, and published by Fox Chapel Publishing, Making Your Own Wine at Home is a no nonsense book that’s a practical, how-to beginners’ guide. Lori gives us creative recipes for making grape, fruit, and herb wines. From Fox Chapel’s Website…

It’s easier than you think to make wonderful wine at home. Get started today with this practical guide to making your first bottle of perfect homemade wine. Author Lori Stahl demystifies essential winemaking techniques with friendly, jargon-free instructions and gorgeous color photography. She begins by taking you step by step through making wine from a kit, and then shows you how to go beyond the kit with creative additions. Soon you’ll be making your own flavorful wine from fresh grapes, apples, berries, and even flowers and herbs. This home winemaking companion offers a wide selection of seasonal winemaking recipes, new twists on traditional favorites, and sweet ways to enjoy and indulge in the wines you create. Even if you have never made wine before, Making Your Own Wine at Home will show you everything you need to master an intriguing and rewarding new hobby – See more

I brought this book with me on a trip to Colorado to visit my kids. A good read is always fun to do and quickly passes the time on any flight, right?  This book made the time slip away so quickly that when we hit the ground, I didn’t even realize we were landing and had arrived. I didn’t hear any of the, “Please make sure your seatbelt is securely fastened, and your tray table is stowed for landing, and your seat is in an upright position.” No dinging of bells, no seeing flight attendants taking away superfluous materials… nothing. I was completely engrossed, and thinking about how much anyone wanting to make wine would also love this book.

Lori spent two cultivations with Jim and Sandy Whitmyer at their Coopers Hill Farm, based in Lititz, Pennsylvania. This is where she gathered her insights and learned all of the nuances of their wine supply business. This was great background for then going on to write about what she had learned… Images in the book are great, by the way. And, she’s written the book to give others the freedom and confidence to play with winemaking, in a step-by-step easy to understand program. If you’ve been toying with making your own wine, just do it with the help of this book. I don’t think it could be more simple, inspiring, and all-encompassing for anything else I haven’t mentioned, with this new companion guide.

Lori lists how to make the following Vitis vinifera, with the Concord grape being only exception to Vitis vinifera:

  • Zinfandel
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Seyval Blanc
  • Vidal Blanc
  • Riesling
  • Concord (Vitis labrusca, not Vitis vinifera, like the others above)

If you’re on the East Coast, there are markets where you can purchase grapes grown in California and delivered to you. Our Wooden Valley Winery client from Suisun Valley (another client) has been shipping grapes to the East Coast for years, and has been very successful. There are many home winemakers who bow to the altar of Wooden Valley, and I understand why. These are amazing grapes being shipped off to help those who don’t live out here to actualize their dreams.

Okay, herb wine is a new concept to me, but I do smell a great holistic brew happening here. We’re in the month of October, right? Could be the season of the…

SIDEBAR: My great grandfather John Clarke, who immigrated from Scotland in the 1670s, was in Salem during the witch trials. There’s no mention of his name in any of the history books on Salem’s trials. If I had been born during that time, I would have altered that part of history as being one more of the women who were free spirits and tinkering with herbs, as I do today. If I had had this book’s knowledge back then, I would have been burned at the stake for making herb wine… Oh, yeah.


GMO,Wine,Wine Blogger,Wine Business

Nine years of wine blogging, should I have just written a book?

I’m reflecting on nine years of wine blogging this morning… having started just about this time nine years ago, in terms of thinking I should, and then getting Jose to build a site for me. I’ve had about four wine blog sites in the process. In 2005, I eagerly waited to write that first story, as Jose set up my blog.  It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that my first story was about Petite Sirah. I simply called it, “What is Petite Sirah.” All of it is still true, with most of it still being misunderstood. I just saw a wine writer of major impact write about “Petite syrah,” as he called it.

Do wine writers really read press releases?

I’ve written 500 of 2,100 stories with Petite Sirah mentioned, if not completely about Petite, while wine blogging.

[Image of Weather Report from the Allmusic.com Website, with photo credit for Sam Emerson.]

Jose told a story to me, when we first met, and I still remember most details of it.

The Time

Jose was at Bowdoin College and had an interview set up (independent study program) with saxophonist Wayne Shorter, in Marblehead, Massachusetts, at Lenny’s On The Turnpike. Some of you, like Cyril Penn, may remember Wayne from his days of launching Weather Report. I’ve long looked for this saying’s credit being given to Wayne; but, in a conversation this morning with Jose, he told me that Wayne simply said this to him in passing. It’s not a saying that has had major impact with anyone beyond Jose and/or me, that we know of… But it’s a powerful statement. Jose didn’t think so this morning, when I told him that it’s a very impactful statement. He thought that it was sort of light and breezy, I guess, but I told him that it’s not been something he’s ever forgotten from that interview. Also, I’ve heard him say this to others at least 100 times, since we’ve been together (1976).

It’s not he who comes on strongest. It’s he who lasts longest.

I would say that that’s my claim to fame… I’ve just been here since the early beginning of Web 2.0. I’m definitely not the strongest voice; but by virtue of tenacity, I’m one of the longest. I’ve had very little impact with the masses, because I’m not trying to build an audience. I’m simply writing a journal about being a wine publicist, being in this business, and the things that impact me from day to day… If you’re reading this, you’re reading my diary… period.

Mostly, what I get is that I’m one of the ones who has currently lasted longest. I don’t have a single focus. I write about anything I darn well please… In fact, wine blogging is all about my personal freedom. Words just come, versus a writing assignment where I have to watch my tone, the words I chose, and/or will a client approve of it or tear it all apart.

I had one client once who said to me, after my first press release was written for him, which I thought was pretty darn good, “This is the worst writing I’ve ever seen.” Needless to say, this client only lasted a few of months; a great relief to us both, I’d say.

I’ve also had a couple of commenters on my blog tell me how stupid I am. I know my IQ and choose not to prove what my intelligence quotient is… or is not, so it rolls off my back.

The difference between both circumstances?

  1. Clients pay me, I have to care.
  2. Commenters don’t pay me, I could give a flying rat’s patutie.
    • I also find some amusement in those who decide to deride me.
    • They may get my goat (for a short time frame), but they don’t get my mind.

That’s the charm of wine blogging… We’re able to write and we’re not accountable to anyone… no clients, no deadlines, no assignments… and judgments are subjective, which I remind myself to not take personally. They impact nothing, except that they allow someone to vent. (Public service)

I have an ongoing debate with one person, who actually thought he’d never read my blog again, but keeps coming back to it… And I’m actually finding myself beginning to like the guy. We just had this exchange. I’ve gone to look him up, because initially one asks oneself, “Who is his guy, anyway.” Turns out that he’s had a pretty interesting life. Here’s the exchange, demonstrating how fascinating for me that comments through feedback also are, as part of blogging:

It has to do with my ranting about genetically modified organisms, which I really don’t want to see happening to grape vines. He thinks that it would be great, if they could “cure” Pierce’s disease, for instance. I say, find a natural, existing way… (I believe when I studied viticulture, we talked about companion planting… but, it’s been a while.)


And coffee is ten times more carcinogenic than glyphosate. The same International agency tells us our cell phones cause cancer. Dr Bruce Ames, who created the carcinogenicity test, the Ames Test, is quite clear that 50% of all substances he tested, both synthetic and naturally occurring, are carcinogenic. Let’s put this in context. I am still using my cell phone. And glyphosate is still helping reduce greenhouse gases by reducing tillage and fossil fuel use and increasing yields.

My Answer:

Dear John,

We have to stop meeting like this… Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

I thought of you the other day when I read something to the following effect, paraphrasing: For every professional opinion that you’ll find on one side of an issue, you will also find as many professional opinions from the opposing side.

I’ve stopped drinking coffee for the reason you’ve stated (not easy to do, because there’s an entire culture that goes along with that decision). I only use my cell phone for that very reason you’ve stated (frustrating my family to no end, because more than half of the time my battery is dead, with my husband reminding me, “I hope you never NEED your phone”). It’s very easy for me to not use. I like my time away from client needs and wants, because I work hard and long hours. The increasing yield thing? It’s proving otherwise and time will win/prove the battle.

When I put it into context, too, I see an entire generation being experimented upon. This, for me, is the most frightening and unconscionable part of this entire GMO experiment. You and I are never going to come into agreement on this. I do, however, enjoy your popping up for time to time, to create the other side of the coin. Both sides of the issue are equally important, I grant you that.

Yeah, nine years later, wine blogging is still interesting and my current hobby. I wonder what the next one will be? I was once a model and I was once a dancer. I once played the piano (not very well, but for a long time). I once was a very prolific clothing designer/seamstress (successfully), and I was once a very prolific knitter. I once worked with sisal and jute, creating baskets, and I was also a potter. Now, it’s writing. I’ve dreamed of painting… could it be that, when wine blogging has run its course?


Food & Wine,Petite Sirah

Melting Pot Cooking: Joyce Goldstein and Petite Sirah

Renowned chef and cookbook author Joyce Goldstein excitedly applauds the new food craze of “melting pot cooking” and her experiments with Petite Sirah.

“Petite is a niche variety perfectly matched for this cuisine,” stated Goldstein at the Tenth Annual Petite Sirah Symposium. Concannon Vineyard, the first winery in the world to varietally label Petite Sirah, hosted this annual event for years, with Foppiano Vineyards having initiated it in 2002. I was the program director for all of the symposiums.

Each year it was designed to educate winemakers on how best to craft their Petite Sirahs and to also offer ways to entice chefs and consumers to become fans of this intriguing wine.

Darrell Corti of Corti Brothers in Sacramento recently said of Petite Sirah:

October 03, 2014
“Feast Q&A: Darrell Corti talks farm-to-fork and ‘Legends of Wine’ event”
Sacramento Bee
Chris Macias
How about a red grape varietal that signifies the Sacramento area? Petite sirah. How could this have happened? Petite sirah sells incredibly better than syrah and it wasn’t supposed to be like that. Petite sirah almost became extinct in California. It can be dense, inky and thick and unappealing. Curiously, in areas where people have (success) with it, like Clarksburg, the wine is not like that. There’s a certain lightness to the wine. I think the producers started looking at this wine [via the symposiums], which was used primarily for blending, and it was terrific for giving color, and realized it needs a lighter hand in making it.

What better way to educate winemakers and marketers about what pairs well with Petite Sirah, than to bring in someone with Joyce Goldstein’s credentials? A consultant to the restaurant and food industries, Joyce excels in recipe development, menu design, and staff training. She improves existing recipes, adds new ones to complement the menu, and works with a culinary staff to refine flavors and successful execution.

“Petite is ‘the’ consummate wine match for these new recipes,” was heard over and over again… Food, food, food… Flavor, flavor, flavor… Petite, Petite, Petite. “All the flavors that are in these dishes are the same exact flavors that describe your wines.” Hitch your pony to this star, was Goldstein’s basic assessment, and you’ll be well on your way. “Petite Sirah is not shy,” she explained. It has a lot of bigger and fruitier flavors, and she noticed some smoke with it. “I love to play with foods that have some smoky elements.” The clues, according to Goldstein, are for winemakers to look for these same spices in their wines that are also in food dishes with the same components; like clove, peppercorn, ginger, five spice powder, cumin, cocoa, currants, and cinnamon. The flavors that are in Petite Sirah are also in these melting pot dishes. She offered a plethora of dishes, while winemakers wrote feverishly.

Melting pot cooking is a craze that’s borne from multicultural diversity. It’s a phenomenon from a new generation of chefs who are experimenting with their families’ traditional recipes, and playing with flavors that are fun and creative by introducing alternative, ethnic twists. “Korean tacos are a great example,” stated Goldstein, at the symposium.

Another example of melting pot cooking is Concannon Vineyard’s Petite Sirah paired with a Cuban beef stew – Ropa Vieja – with California fusion. Petite Sirah braised flank steak with ground cumin and peppercorns among other spices and tasty ingredients, meld together perfectly with tomato sauce and beef broth in a slow cooker. (Full recipe available on www.ConcannonVineyard.com).

Winemakers learned that multiculturalism has become so dominant today that we’re seeing recipes pop up which we’d never expect to see. And, they’re all just begging for a wine that’s so completely diverse. What could be better than an immigrant wine that’s also multicultural: Persian derivation, European cross-fertilization (Syrah and Peloursin), and an American transplant?

This parallel is a perfect voyage describing not only Melting Pot Cooking, but also Petite Sirah. Joyce Goldstein’s message was “claim it and you’ll own it.”

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