Napa,Sonoma,Sonoma County,Sonoma Valley,Wine,Wine Country

I feel like I was just knocked out ~ Pocket Fire in Geyserville

What the 12-day, California wine country experience many of us just had: some were longer with more devastation, some were shorter, with minor problems. Bottom line: ask anyone involved in this perfect, epic fire storm, and they’ll tell you that they’ve been traumatized. This is my own exhausting story. During that time, I didn’t have access to my computer. I wrote in Facebook – hunt and peck – with my iPad. This is how the story unfolded and how we spent the 12 days of uncertainty.

Jose awakened me,”We have to evacuate,” he said, in a calm voice. This was 3:00 a.m.. I asked, “Why?” He had me get up and look outside of our bedroom door (made of glass). The hill above our house was ablaze and it didn’t look like anything was going to survive unless we just got the hell out. I grabbed Buddy the Cat, and we hightailed it down the mountainside, while a fire raged outside of our home, on a higher ridge, and very visible from the town of Geyserville, where we sat for hours in the early morning hours of October 9, 2017.

This image you see is one that Jose took with his phone, while we were waiting for time to move forward, away from 3:00 a.m.. He also took Buddy’s picture (earlier, above) and our shadow one, during our evacuation.

We drove into downtown Geyserville and looked up to the mountains. This is the horror we witnessed, wondering if we’d ever go home again. Will it survive? I thought.

Later in the day, we were invited to stay with our friend Corinne Reichel, located on the east sides of Geyserville. Somehow we thought we’d be able to return and thanked her, but we weren’t ready to be evacuated just yet. (Shock makes you a bit dull in your brain, I’ve learned.)

As the days went by, we had a front row view to our eastern mountain location, below the Pocket Fire. (Still not contained as I write this, and National Guardsmen are still in our neighborhood, on the “ready.”) Everyday, we monitored the mountain ranges. At first, Jose was using a tracking App on his phone. He was able to coordinate where we’re now living and where we were standing. From there, we could use binoculars to see where our house was located. Actually, we didn’t see our house, which is covered in high oaks; but, we were able to see our neighbors and know the oaks above our home.

Once we knew the exact location, we then watched with eyes burning on that reference point. Flames were over one ridge and down the other side of it. We watched just everything, and all I could do – based on not having my computer and a hunt-and-peck iPad – was tell everyone what I was going through day by day, as a diary entitled #MandatoryEvacuation ~ of whatever was happening. It was quite a rattling experience.

So, so happy it’s over, I’ve had two other major traumas in California… Now this one is lingering and needs closure. The outpouring of encouragement, the continued offers for housing, the sharing of love and overwhelming feelings… The following is my diary.

A special kind of disbelief ~A special kind of camaraderie

Day 1 at 2:07 p.m., October 9, 2017,  #MandatoryEvacuation #Geyserville

We’re safe, only took the cat and photography equipment. [I also took about 10 minutes to photograph every square inch of the house. I had thought of doing this just days before, for insurances purposes. I moved swiftly, as if fire was biting at my heels.]

Raging flames behind the house, on a nearby ridge, as we grabbed the cat and off we went into town. It seemed contained enough to return.

We’re okay now [I thought, as I wrote this], and ready to leave if we have to again. Incredibly, CDF planes are flying overhead to dump water. This is supposed to be the first time they are using 747s. They are HUGE, flying over so low! Wild night. Hoping for one less active tonight.

[As it turned out, we couldn’t stay at home and headed back to downtown Geyserville. We took the offer from our friend Corinne Reichel, knocking on her door, feeling bedraggled. She took us in… So kind and loving.]

Day 2 at 12:06 p.m., October 10,  #MandatoryEvacuation #Geyserville

We came home feeling we might be safe. We even went to the lake to take picture, because there’s a massive helicopter in our neighborhood, taking water from the lake. My neighborhood; and course, deer are involved. We’re downwind from this fire now. Check out the size of the helicopters they’ve sent in. We’ve been told by a neighbor to evacuate, again. All is not safe with fires. Grabbing the cat and heading for lower ground for a second time.

Day 3 at 10:12 a.m,  Oct. 11, #MandatoryEvacuation #Geyserville

Yesterday, went to get masks, toxic air.

Drug store didn’t have anymore. Suggested the AUTO PARTS store next door. Well, YEAH. Their masks protect from all kinds of particles/chemicals. Got some. N95, people, N95

News people just said this is the ONLY ONE that WORKS… N95

Geyserville hills to the south of our home, where we live. We’re with a friend for now, as we are under a mandatory evacuation. This is the view from her home. This is headed south, and we are located north of this… Not a present danger, as the winds are blended winding southward. Still feel major angst, too, for those in its path.

Day 4 at 8:12 a.m,  Oct. 12, #MandatoryEvacuation #Geyserville

So, in the “gotta love um” category!

Willamette Valley Fire Department drove 11 hours to get to Geyserville yesterday, to help us out, with about 10 fire trucks. They are based a 10 minute walk from our home… I don’t know how many feet that is, but they’re that close. Remember I said the help we need right now is to have more states send in their Fire people? Yes, my prayers were answered by our Oregon friends. Does it matter that we have two Oregon wine clients, Oak Knoll Winery (Greg Lint) and Aberrant Cellars (Eric Eide). Yes! Today is a GOOD day!

Day 5 at 8:12 a.m,  Oct. 13,  #MandatoryEvacuation #Geyserville

NOTE TO EVACUEES: Food, Water, Clothes, etc. Donations and pickups:

This is where Jose and I were yesterday, picking up food for others. Bill DenBeste is the Best(e). His daughter told me that Bill and wife once had a fire encircle his home, but left it standing, miraculously. So, he has tremendous empathy. (He also told me about all of the charity work that he does, on a daily basis.) Two days ago, they fed 2000 displaced people. Food is being prepared and given out DAILY, since Monday. They have converted their office suite to rooms for donations, clothing, toys, all items. They have a truck coming with 50 pallets of water bottles. One of his friends in Texas sent him a cash donation. This is a very humble man, so loving and giving. Thanks, Bill DenBeste of DenBeste Water Solutions and Carroll Shelby Engine Company, 820 DenBeste Court, Windsor. #Amazing grace…

Jose’s notes continue… Our friend Debbie Shu turned us on to this wonderful home made relief operation happening in Windsor by Bill DenBeste of DenBeste Motor Sports. Bill, his family, and his employees started on Monday to provide free BBQ food to anyone in need. In their offices, they have collected donated items of all types, including clothing, and have them sorted by age and sex. The location is 820 Denbeste Ct, Windsor. Please pass this to anyone who would benefit in the Windsor/Santa Rosa area or consider stopping by to help with donations. True home town heroes!

Day 6 at 1:37 p.m., Oct. 14, #MandatoryEvacuation ~ So, masks…

This company either needs to make smaller ones, or I need to grow a bigger head. That’s the funny person inside of me.

The emotional person: Even though we’re safe and our Pocket Fire is no longer threatening, there’s still no emotional relief. Was just in Big John’s store in Healdsburg, getting more groceries. Met an employee outside, taking a break. Her four children are now waiting to go back to school, but their school burned to the ground. This coming week, administrators are deciding where displaced children will now be going. We both took a deep breath.

Once in the store, Jose had gone to get nuts, and I was looking for BBQ sauce to put into a crock pot for a pulled pork dish… As I was looking at shelves, I just became overwhelmed with emotion, and had to hold back tears, as my lips quivered and my eyes watered. I found my sauce and went looking for something else. As I got to the beginning of a new aisle, a gentleman was ahead of me, just staring, so I stopped and waited until he got his bearings. When he finally realized I was waiting, he apologized for blocking my path. I said, “That’s okay, I know how you feel.” We both smiled at each other knowing all too well what I meant, then went our separate ways. I found Jose…my rock… and continued with our day.

Day 7 at 11:32 p.m., Oct. 15, #MandatoryEvacuation

Can’t wait to see this sign, but alas… I must wait. Good night…

Image 📸: Courtesy of Leah Smith ~ I could have altered the color of this photo, but this is what Lisa Smith got, given our air quality. So it is what it was…

Day 8 at 7:40 a.m., Oct. 16,  #MandatoryEvacuation

I so want to just go home, and I’m one of the lucky ones. Cat is with us, in a lovely home while we wait, had a 1971 Margaux last night with our host Corinne Reichel, then I just saw a video this morning of the base at the Santa Rosa Fair grounds. So many fire trucks, their tents for the duration, just so many crews it was astounding. Sigh, shaking my head, I can’t begin to imagine everyone else’s angst, and their facing another day. I’ll get over it as soon as I get going. God bless all of you, from the fire fighters from all over the US, their families worried about the spouses fighting the fires, their daddies, those without homes in shelters wondering what the hell they’re going to do now, jobs lost, businesses lost, schools lost, pets lost, lives lost. Damn, the list is long. Smoke filled lungs, ravaged neighborhoods. There, another day in paradise altered, I have so much to return to, when I can. I’m over my angst for today, I’m moving on…

Damned mask…

Day 9 at 7:36 a.m., Oct. 17, #MandatoryEvacuation, 

As I listen to my cat’s howling this morning, going stir crazy, having been a shut in since Monday, October 9, I’m helpless, because I, too, am going stir crazy. Still, I can get outside, for some emotional relief, he can’t. This isn’t his neighborhood. This isn’t his air to breathe. Last night, I had a bit of an anxiety attack, when I woke up about 2:00 a.m. When will it end? How horrific these fires have been. There are others facing so much loss, and I’m an emotional basket case? What is wrong with me? I need to find my calm place, get over myself, and get back to yoga…

Day 10 at 8:20 a.m., Oct. 18, No longer a #MandatoryEvacuee,

So thankful for the village that supported us in our crisis. 

So, so many. Now, I want the rains to come, for everyone still not home yet and back to their comfort zones. Corinne Reichel, for hosting us (including “Buddy, the cat”), Terry Mcnulty – whose son Justin was on the front lines dozing the fire breaks, along with all the fire fighters who have come from all over the US to help. Thanks to everyone in our neighborhood, who gave us the first calls to evacuate, before the police even came into our neighborhood, telling us to leave…

Then, hanging with all our neighbors in the early morning, watching the flaming horizon, where our homes were in jeopardy, a common bond of caring for each other. Sarah Stierch and James Gore, who kept everyone informed… For Sarah, it is still minute by minute. For James, it’s once a day with the Geyserville crew. Farmers Insurance was on it, the minute we told them we were in danger. (This is the second time we’ve needed them, the first time was during our home flooding, they are the BEST.)

Thanks to our five fish for surviving for nine days without any food! And to ALL of you, with your daily caring and meditations… It took a village, and now I’m on that end of the process, until this nightmare ends for everyone still involved in these fires. So thankful to be back to the mess we had to leave behind.

Day 11 at Oct. 19, No longer a #MandatoryEvacuee

I awoke in the middle of the night, running from fire in a DREAM.

Fell back to sleep. At 6:15 a.m., I awoke to a dream that had to do with lumber, helping people to rebuild, but couldn’t get into a construction labor union building. I was so confused it awakened me. I wish just awakening from this post event was so simple… just awakening.

MIRACLE of this event, for us personally: Jose’s five fish managed to stay alive for the entire 10 days, with NO feeding!

I expected to come back home to find a toxic fish tank.

They’re Jose’s fish, because I lost all of the fish I had cared for, a year ago, when we moved to this lovely home. It was so traumatizing – after caring for them for about 16-17 years – that I wouldn’t fill the fish tank and start again. Jose still wanted more fish, so he began again. VOILA, they scavenged.

Day 12 at Oct. 20, No longer a #MandatoryEvacuee

Last night it rained. Love the moisture on these doors. The earth outside smells so damp and refreshing. Life begins anew. One comment that I had from my friend Jean Jacote, “Petrichor is the word for the smell that comes in the air after it rains. I am in love with this word.”

I wrote: I love it, too, Jean… #NewToMe “Petrichor is the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil. The word is constructed from Greek πέτρα petra, meaning “stone”, and ἰχώρ īchōr, the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology.

I rise from the ashes…

The End



Cabernet Sauvignon,California,Napa,Rutherford,Wine

Rutherford Dust Society ~ Always Something New to Learn and Enjoy

In 1993, the Rutherford American Viticultural Area (AVA) was established. The Rutherford Dust Society was then established in 1994, by growers and vintners, to support a cohesive educational program going forward. Total acreage for the AVA is 6,840, while 4,371 acres are dedicated to vineyards. Cabernet Sauvignon is the major planting, by 67 percent. This region is an epicenter of California’s world famous Napa Valley Cabernet… The same Cabernet that causes grown men to lust, and grown women to emulate… sensual, smooth, and worth aging for the long haul.

About the region, from their Website:

The Rutherford, Napa Valley Appellation is both the geographic and historical center of grape growing in the Napa Valley. Approximately six square miles, the appellation includes more than 30 wineries and more than 60 grape growers. Vintners and growers founded the Rutherford Dust Society in 1994, whose mission is to encourage and promote the highest quality standards in grape growing and wine making in the Rutherford Viticultural Area, and gain recognition for this quality through education of the membership and public. www.rutherforddust.org

Each year, the Rutherford Dust Society has educational events, not only for consumers, but also for trade. Each time I attend an event, my appreciation and knowledge for the Rutherford American Viticultural Area (AVA) continues to expand. It’s always based around tasting the wines of the latest vintage, while the season is explored by winemakers and grape growers from the AVA; because – in the season – lies the truths of weather nuances.

In 2002, a subcommittee to the Rutherford Dust Society was established. The intent was regarding preservation, which is very impressive. From the Dust Society’s site…

To manage and restore the 4.5-mile stretch of the Napa River, and its watershed, which flows through the Rutherford American Viticultural Area (AVA) between the Zinfandel Lane Bridge and Oakville Cross Road. RDRT (or “Our Dirt”) seeks to:

  • Understand the dynamics of the river system
  • Stabilize river banks and address bank erosion to reduce fine sediment pollution
  • Create a riparian buffer to protect agricultural land uses
  • Reduce the impacts of flooding
  • Protect and enhance fish and wildlife habitat
  • Reduce Pierce’s Disease pressure on vineyards
  • Provide ongoing education about the river and its watershed

A  Day in the Dust was the event that I attended this past July, at Francis Ford Coppola’s Inglenook Winery, in Rutherford. It’s such a beautiful location. Every time I visit, it’s consistently breathtaking.  This year’s agenda was to dig deeper into the Rutherford Dust, with an exploration of the three distinct zones of the Rutherford appellation.

  • Rutherford Bench
    • Gravelly, alluvial fans sloping from Highway 29, west to the Mayacamas Mountains
    • Alluvial ~ clay, silt, sand, gravel, or similar particle rock materials, which have been deposited by running water
  • Valley Floor
    • A more fertile alluvial with sedimentary area, between Highway 29 and the Silverado Trail.
    • Sedimentary rock ~ these have been formed by the accumulation of sediments
  • Eastern Benchland
    • Alluvial soil derived from Volcanic and sedimentary rock on the east-side of Napa Valley along the Silverado Trail

For those who don’t know, Napa Valley was formed by two plates coming together, which shape the Mayacamas Mountain ranges; while the Vaca Mountains (subsequently called the Silverado Mountains) were formed by volcanic activity. So, each side has its own type of soils… Mayacamas brought up ocean sediments and salinity, Silverado Mountains have iron oxide in its soils… The iron oxide character produces spicier wines, like a great Zin with lots of oomph. The Rutherford AVA does not go into the mountains, on the east side of the valley, so that spice isn’t part of the Rutherford Cabs, when I’ve tasted them.

I was able to taste a Rutherford Cab from each of these zones. Trevor Durling was the winemaker, who used the same barrel program, which allowed for the identification of the unique flavor profile from each distinct zone of the Rutherford AVA. This was followed by a tasting of the following Cabernet Sauvignons:

  • 2014 Alpha Omega
  • 2014 Flora Springs
  • 2014 Foley Johnson
  • 2014 Freemark Abbey
  • 2014 Honig Vineyard & Winery
  • 2014 Inglenook Rubicon
  • 2014 Rutherford Estate
  • 2014 Martin Estate
  • 2014 Piña Rutherford Firehouse
  • 2014 Quintessa
  • 2014 Rutherford Hill
  • 2014 Sullivan

When events come up for the Rutherford AVA, I encourage you to participate. It will give you a deeper sense of what makes the Rutherford AVA, and its sumptuous wines, so appealing to Napa Cab lovers.



DRC and Pétrus Lead Heritage Auction as Wine Market Continues to Rise

My recent blog post, entitled In Vino Duplicitas ~ The Rise and Fall of a Wine Forger Extraordinaire has signaled, evidently, that I now have an interest in wine auctions. And, I do for purely voyeuristic enjoyment. I’ve thought about going back and reading the book again, to create a “Most Wanted.” list.  (I think I will. It was hard to put the book down, actually. Reading it again will give me so many interesting facets tot he world of wine as a collectible, versus a commodity.)

So, today, I just got a great E-Mail press release. I’m sharing for your pleasure, or for your own curiosity. And, just in case you’re not in on what’s the hottest wine in the world, it’s a DRC ~ Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, with lots of close seconds.

This is from an intriguing press release:

Enjoy the world of wine: not for commodity ~ but for collecting

Fall surge in wine sales continues with October Signature Sale set to exceed $2 million, October 13-14, in Beverly Hills…

More than 1,300 lots, of the best of Burgundy, Bordeaux, and more, are poised to surpass $2 million, when the gavel falls October 13 and 14, in Heritage Auctions’ Fine Wine Auction in Beverly Hills, California. It’s going to also be simulcast to Hong Kong.

Riding the wave of momentum generated by Heritage’s September Single Owner Sale, The Romulus Collection: Rare Burgundy from a California Gentlemen which was 100 percent sold at nearly double its presale estimate, the October auction will feature 250 lots of First Growth Bordeaux, 40 lots of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, and 30 lots of Screaming Eagle, among others.

“The Wine market has been very strong through the spring and summer, leading to some exceptional results at our previous auctions,” Heritage Auctions Fine and Rare wine Senior Director Frank Martell said. “We expect that trend to continue at this event.”

Several important private collections are featured in the October sale, including one owned by Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams. A noted philanthropist and businessman, Adams is an ardent wine collection and several lots, such as Château Lafite Rothschild 1982 Bottle (12) (est. $22,000-30,000) are on offer.

Projected to be among the top lots is three bottles of 2011 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanee-Conti, est. $26,000-35,000. The Domaine leads this top-heavy sale, claiming four out of the top 10 spots.

Also featured are several iconic wines in pristine condition, including Leroy Clos Vougeot 2002 Bottle (12), (est. $16,000-21,000), Château Latour 1982 Bottle (12), (est. $14,000-18,000) and Domaine de la Romanee Conti, Romanée-Conti 2005 Bottle (1), (est. $12,000-15,000).

Other top lots are expected to include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Chateau Latour 2010 Bottle (12), est. $10,000-13,000
  • Domaine de la Romanee Conti,  Bottle (6), est. $10,000-13,000
  • Château Petrus 1989 Bottle (4), est. 10,000-13,000
  • Leroy Clos Vougeot 1996 Bottle (9), est. $9,500-13,000
  • Domaine de la Romanee Conti, Romanée-Conti 2013 Bottle (1), est. $9,500-13,000

Heritage Auctions is the largest fine art and collectibles auction house founded in the United States, and the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer. Heritage maintains offices in New York, Dallas, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Chicago, Palm Beach, London, Paris, Geneva, Amsterdam and Hong Kong.

The Internet’s most popular auction-house website HA.com has over one million registered bidder-members, and searchable free archives of four million past auction records, with prices realized, descriptions, and enlargeable photos. Reproduction rights routinely granted to media for photo credit.


Art in Wine,Geyserville,Geyserville Community Foundation,Wine,Wine Country

Geyserville Wine Country Series ~ Art and Wine Shine #2

Art and Wine Shine in Geyserville

Geyserville is a very quiet, wine country community, for those who haven’t discovered it yet. Visiting it guarantees that you’ll encounter tourists meandering through the little Main Street, which brings you into and leaves town swiftly. At one with what they’re doing, tourists enjoy walking between eateries and tasting rooms, joyful and oblivious to any daily grind.

There’s also a deep appreciation for art, in large part to Victoria Heiges (and the Geyserville Community Foundation) along Maine Street. Being new to town, it’s taken me the past year to peel away some of the layers about who Victoria Heiges really is… Which seems to be under a huge umbrella of art. When I visited with her, I  was awestruck by the amount of art she’s created.

My love of art came long before my love of wine, BTW. Perhaps this is why I’ve also come to appreciate wine as its own true art form. Who can argue that, when one reads about collectors paying upwards of $67,000 to buy something like ~ a single, rare bottle of a wine pulled from Thomas Jefferson’s private wine cellar, to be auctioned for that value of a bottle. Is it what’s inside that’s worth that amount of money, is it where it came from, or is it both?

Worth is in the mind of the beholder, who may also never open that bottle, just continue to store it in time.

When one walks or drives through Geyserville, a strong sense of art begins to appear, nearly everywhere. This is a story unto itself. Later I’ll get into individual pieces. For today…

Dallas A. Saunders ~ Artist Textiles

Living in Geyserville and driving by a building, set off into the distance, with a design that is right out of Architectural Digest, curiosity – of course – got the best of me. I had to wait for the perfect moment, though; a time when I could slow down long enough to take advantage of a vacation day, really. I had to become that tourist, in order to visit Dallas A. Saunders.

From just having left the main strip (coming from the south), I took a right onto Route 129, headed west toward Calistoga. Within a couple thousand feet, I took another right and drove into a long driveway, with an Alexander Valley vineyard to my left, and railroad tracks to my right. I felt like I was having a moment right out of the pages of Living the High Life in Wine County. (Answer: No, there’s no such book or magazine; but there could be one, if someone wanted to publish it.)

LOCATION: 275 Highway 128, Suite 101, Geyserville, CA 95441 WEBSITE: We are a destination contemporary fine art tapestry gallery exhibiting limited edition tapestries and artisan textiles showroom selling origin specific fabrics and finished home textiles. We are located in the Sonoma County wine country just north of Healdsburg and 75 miles north of San Francisco..

This building is for sale and it’s also open to rentals: Check it out. This page will blow your mind a bit.

I parked and got out of the car, stepped onto a pebble stone driveway; and headed toward the incredible building, which seemed to be in two parts (because it is). This side of the building is unoccupied, the back portion is where Dallas A. Saunders has her studio. I couldn’t help myself, camera ready. I began to photograph what I was seeing, because it seemed extraordinary, in seemingly Old West Geyserville. (Let’s just say, you can’t hitch your pony up to this one, where in Geyserville, you could.) This structure was bright and shiny, with walls of glass. It’s very chic; something like you’d see, like Zarin’s Fabrics, at 69 Orchard Street, in New York City.


I entered the building and met Dallas A. Saunders, owner of a business by the same name. She operates an artist textile outlet, the work is not done on the property. The craftsmanship of her products is intended for high profile clients, with designers and architects as the conduit for most sales.

This Jacquard Tapestry (66″ x 95″) was created by April Gornik, and it’s entitled Light In The Woods. I just love the use of white, to gray, to brown, to black interwoven threads, to remind me of my Maine woods living. Light coming through the trees, the solid and liquid lines. I could live with this piece.

Still, within her showroom, are textiles from all over the world for sale. Her portfolio of goods is remarkable. It just boggled my mind, looking at tapestries whose threads are perhaps 1/16 of an inch, if that much. How do all of the threads get set onto a loom, how do those threads and that pattern evolve into an amazingly large wall hanging… Something the likes of walking into the Ritz Carleton, and seeing it hanging on a wall of honor, with lights strategically aimed at highlighting the masterpiece. As someone who used to work with beads on a loom, I was in complete awe.


Pictures tell a thousand words, right? I’m going to just photo gallery her art gallery, now. Enjoy, and think about your visit to wine country on a weekend (also open by appointment during the week). You’ll also spot my grandson Nate in these pictures. If you want a touch of class with your glass, this is the place to see in Geyserville on a weekend.


Bubbly Wine,France,Gratien & Meyer,Loire,Sparkling wine,Wine,Wine of the Week

Wine of the Week ~ Gratien & Meyer Crémant de Loire

The Wine of the Week, from Juicy Tales, is the Gratien & Meyer Crémant de Loire. Exciting, tiny pink bubbles, from a winery that’s been making wine for over 150 years. They have heritage, they have tradition, and they have this sparkling wine, which is way too easy to enjoy! I found it to be refreshingly delicious with celebration bubbles, and it made my day. I didn’t have anything specific to celebrate when I tasted it; however, that all changed when the cork was pulled. “Heavenly” was my first thought. The rest of it is a lovely blur…

This Crémant de Loire was hand harvested. When wine grapes are hand harvested, it is the most gentle treatment of the grapes possible, from the very beginning, and it’s extremely labor intensive. This is done to preserve the grapes’ integrity. The Gratien & Meyer wine house prides itself on its gentle treatment of its wine grapes, which benefits wine and also wine lovers. The second fermentation follows the traditional method… in the bottle. According to their Website, “…in ancient underground tuffeau stone cellars, where mineral elements promote effervescence as the wines age.” [The tuffeau stone is a local limestone found in Loire Valley.

The blend:

  • Pinot Noir 55 percent
  • Chenin Blanc 30 percent
  • Chardonnay 15 percent

Typical wine grape varieties from Loire?

  • Chenin Blanc
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Melon de Bourgogne
  • Gamay
  • Pinot Noir
  • Cabernet Franc

AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée), found in the upper, western part of France.

  • Sancere
  • Pouilly-Fume
    • Eastern part of the Loire Valley, East of Sancerre and Bourges

Delicious, hum?

[Photo image borrowed from the Gratien & Meyer Website. You really need to see their video. It’s as expressive as their wines.]

The Loire region:

From the creators of the map below… Invaluable.com ~ In Good Taste

“The Loire Valley follows the Loire River through eastern France. This region produces a range of wine styles as well as quality from table wine to more high-end options. Due to the increasing popularity of red wines, Loire has ramped up its output, but still specializes in wide varieties.

“Grapes: Sauvignon Blanc, Sancerre, and Pouilly-Fume”

On the map below of France, Number 3 is the Loire region, which is located in the central part of France. Have a look, it’s a terrific resource map and the creators have listed all regions in France.


Event,Wine,Wine Auction,Winemaker,Winery

The Chesapeake Bay Wine Classic Foundation’s November 10-12 Wine Classic

Every year, I’ve heard about The Chesapeake Bay Wine Classic Foundation’s  wine classic. It’s one I’ve never attended; however, I’ve heard glowing reports for a very long time. If I were anywhere near it, I’d be there!

The wine classic is a 501 (C)(3), which means that it benefits local charities. This year is the Twenty-Seventh Annual Grand Auction, to be held on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay. It’s November 10-12th, 2017, and you’re invited!

Vintner of the Year, Ms Amanda Harlan of “The Mascot” Napa Valley, will welcome Honored Vintners to the stage, to kick off a spectacular weekend in the world of wine. This year’s Honored Vintners includes the following:

  • Abiouness (Napa)
  • Adobe Road (Sonoma)
  • Afton Mt (VA),
  • Ankida Ridge Vineyards(VA)
  • Aratas Wine (Napa)
  • Baldacci Vineyards (Napa)
  • Biale Winery (Napa)
  • Blackbird Winery (Napa)
  • Boxwood Winery (VA)
  • Demuth Wines (Sonoma)
  • Early Mountain Winery (VA)
  • Fairwinds Winery (Napa)
  • Hertelendy Wines (Napa)
  • J.Wilkes Winery (Santa Barbara)
  • Keplinger (Napa)
  • Mazzaroth Vineyards (MD)
  • Moss Vineyards (VA)
  • Shadowbox Winery (Napa)
  • Tierra Roja (Napa)
  • Veritas Vineyards (VA)
  • Williamsburg Winery (VA).

With the support and generosity of vintners and donors, attendees will celebrate with paddle and wine glass in hand, to raise over one million dollars, for charitable organizations in need in one very spectacular afternoon.

Built upon the belief that fine wine is a harmonious elixir that brings people together, the CBWCF’s spectacular wine events have contributed more than $8-million dollars to fund dozens of charitable organizations, throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond.  In 2010, a Commendation from the Senate of the Commonwealth of Virginia acknowledged the Foundation’s 20 year record of service in support of the mission to educate youth.

This year, Stephanie Douglas of Aratas Wine, board member of  PS I Love You, has organized some Petite growers and producers Petite producers to donate “Petite & Palisades,” an auction lot featuring some of California’s very best Petite Sirahs. This lot is featuring a private getaway for three couples in private guest houses, nestled among the vines of the famous “Palisades Vineyard.” One of Napa valley’s oldest heritage Petite Sirah vineyards, it’s planted to vines in the Calistoga AVA, on the site of historic winery license #118, in the state of California.

FROM THE WEB: Over the past 25 years the Chesapeake Bay Wine Classic Foundation has grown in many ways and distributed almost $7 million for charity. In 2010, a commendation from the Senate of the Commonwealth of Virginia and a resolution from the City Council of Virginia Beach acknowledged the Foundation’s 20-year record of service in support of its mission to educate youth. We were also honored with the 2014 Outstanding Foundation Award by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. This success has only been achieved through the kindness, hard work and support of its dedicated board, sponsors, donors and volunteers.

Spend a gorgeous weekend on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay and attend this fabulous food & wine weekend of events. Visit www.CBWC.org  for details and tickets.


Books,Rare wines,Wine

In Vino Duplicitas ~ The Rise and Fall of a Wine Forger Extraordinaire

In Vino Duplicitas ~ The Rise and Fall of a Wine Forger Extraordinaire, written by Peter Hellman… From the very start, it will suck you in and have you turning pages for more. Highly prolific author Peter Hellman has detailed the steps taken by the world’s largest wine con man, ever.

In the world of wine, there are two divisions… commercial and collector. This story is about the surreal world of collector wines, and its cast of characters. (Bill Koch is my favorite. The glimpse into his personality, honestly – he’s a quirky, funny guy, on top of all else we know about him.)

As you read the book, take notes of wines on the collector circuit. (Great guidance, and you’ll know what your dream list would be.) Somehow, Rudy Kurniawan came onto that scene; and either swiftly progressed, or slowly connived his way, into a very exclusive club. It eventually got the best of him; stages are intriguing.

About the rise and fall of the most unlikely wine con artist in the history of wine conning, Rudy Kurniawan‘s elaborate fleecing of the upper crust of society is fast paced and filled with all of the juicy details. How did this seemingly charming young man, of undisclosed finances, come onto an exclusive wine scene, and use his penchant for generosity to ensnare his billionaire marks?

On April 25, 2008, Hellman was present at the Acker Merrall & Condit auction. This was when Laurent Ponsot, a Burgundian winemaker, was compelled to have a removal of several of his domaine’s wines from bidding. The consignor of the Ponsot wines that were in question was… Rudy.

In  all of history, no one has done it better or worse, than Rudy Kurniawan

Hellman’s example is when grown men were know to cry as they tasted a 1914 vintage of Champagne “…in the depths of a limestone cellar in Épernay in the heart of bubbly country… It was a the 1914 vintage, “For this there are no words. Only the tears of grown men.” I’ve always thought that a 1945 Château Margaux would be delightful, and now I’m adding a 1945 a bottle of 1945 Romanée-Conti to the list.

Making a huckster statement, like…

Rudy Kurniawan: “No, I’m broke. I scam people…Kurniawan has declared a truth, confident that those around him at the table will take is as a joke.” p. 19

And, I thought that I had Juicy Tales…

Peter Hellman is a contributor to Wine Spectator, a prolific author, and, a journalist who’s been on the front line of Rudy’s story, from its very beginning.



Art in Wine,Wine,Wine Country,Wine Culture,Wines of Portugal

Geyserville Wine Country Series ~ Sculpture from Geyserville to Cloverdale ~ #1

Last fall, we moved to Geyserville. We hadn’t thought of it as moving to a senior community; but, in some ways, it really is conducive to a more mature living location. I have gray hair coming in, so that qualifies, right?

Before living here full time, Geyserville was a place to visit for a few restaurants. (Sh…. Best kept secret… where the locals go. Geyserville Inn, also known as the Hoffman House) has a great restaurant, and there’s no waiting to be seated, no lines out the door. I seem to see the Pedroncelli family most times we’re there, for instance. It’s a great, relaxed atmosphere with generous, delicious dishes.

I’ll be writing abut the wines in this area; but first, I’d like to write about the town’s culture… Art is really important to the locals, so much so that there’s a Sculpture Trail from Geyserville to Cloverdale. As you enter Geyserville from the south, and you make that left-hand turn into town, an open field begins the trail. Many of the objects have come from past Burning Man events, for instance.

[FOREGROUND ARTWORK: Tulip by Adrian Litman ~ Sponsor: Joel & Kathy Zunino]

The field of large, metal sculpture is a stopping point for most new people arriving. It sort of reminds me of Napa Valley from both the north and the southern ends of the valley, when we see visitors gather under the welcome signs. We don’t have a welcome sign in the field, but we do have art that makes you want to just stop and have a closer look.

From the Sculpture Trail from Geyserville to Cloverdale Website:

3,000 American adults over the age of 18 in December 2016 participated in an Americans for Arts’ Public Opinion Poll.

  • 63 percent of the people polled believe the arts “lift me up beyond everyday experiences”
  • 64 percent feel the arts give them “pure pleasure to experience and participate in”
  • 73 percent say the arts are a “positive experience in a troubled world.”

[ARTWORK: Shimmer by Phillip Lynch ~ Sponsor: Bryce Jones]

We’re very fortunate to the have the Sculpture Trail in both Geyserville and into Cloverdale. Again, from the site:

The Geyserville Community Foundation, with support from Geyserville Chamber, and the Cloverdale Historical Society produce the Sculpture Trail. The Trail is an outdoor art exhibit of sculptures in the Northern Sonoma County communities of Geyserville and Cloverdale in the Sonoma County Wine Country. The Sculpture Trail is a year-round exhibit with sculptures changing every 12 months.

When I was hired to work as a publicist for Enoforum wines from Portugal, and visited this amazing country, I began not by focusing on the wines. Instead, I focused on the the history, the arts, the businesses, and then the wines. The Wines of Portugal ~ First you must understand the people.

This project will be driven by the first three above (history, the arts, the businesses). I need to begin, in our own community, to better understand where I am at this point in my life and career in Geyserville. The wines will follow. For now, I’m beginning with the arts and their supporters.

This link to the artwork is a fun place to start, anyway. Please do take a quick look. It’s really fun art. I’ll be adding my own images, as I go along. For now, this is just an introduction to my on-going series. The sculptures are for sale, by the way. Check out the Sculpture Trail from Geyserville to Cloverdale Website (link above).

There’s a giant pig at Soda Rock Winery, which was purchased from the field. I miss it. However, when we take 128 to get to Napa, there it is in Healdsburg on CA Route 128.

Burning Man: Sonoma man’s art is nothing to ‘snort’ at by DAVID TEMPLETON, INDEX-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER | August 22, 2016

“All by myself,” says artist-sculptor Bryan Tedrick, of Glen Ellen. “That’s how I like to work. Just me and the metal – and the idea.” Built out of steel, standing 20-feet tall and 30-feet wide, the massive sculpture resembles a gigantic mechanical boar. Tedrick has whimsically dubbed his creation Lord Snort.

My connection to all of the artwork is Victoria Heiges, who lives in my neighborhood. This is my introduction. Stay tuned for more details!

I’m going to end with this one, because in a slight wind, it’s very magical.


Cabernet Sauvignon,Holiday,Israel,Merlot,Wine

Rosh Hashanah ~ Wine of the Week ~ Psagot Edom

Shana Tova, to all of my Jewish family and friends!

Raised as a Catholic child, religion was a great comfort to me; as an adult, the dogma became difficult. So, like many people during the 60s and 70s, the Beatles and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi were so intriguing that that culture introduced me to a new way through transcendental meditation. I also studied Tibetan Buddhism (for a few years) and  life’s philosophies began anew. That’s all the religious studies that I’ve had. The Jewish religion is only vaguely known to me.

I was asked if I’d like a sample of the Psagot Edom, a Kosher wine from the Judean Hills (just north of Jerusalem, and overlooking the Edom mountains to the east). This sounded very tempting, so I said yes. I was up for some Jewish culture… and in that process, I had to finally focus on understanding one of the culture’s holidays… Rosh Hashanah…

What is Rosh Hashanah, I thought, and what does it celebrate?

From Chadbad.org:

The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah actually means “Head of the Year.” Just like the head controls the body, our actions on Rosh Hashanah have a tremendous impact on the rest of the year.

As we read in the Rosh Hashanah prayers, each year on this day “all inhabitants of the world pass before G‑d like a flock of sheep,” and it is decreed in the heavenly court “who shall live, and who shall die … who shall be impoverished and who shall be enriched; who shall fall and who shall rise.”

It is a day of prayer, a time to ask the Almighty to grant us a year of peace, prosperity and blessing. But it is also a joyous day when we proclaim G‑d King of the Universe. The Kabbalists teach that the continued existence of the universe depends on G‑d’s desire for a world, a desire that is renewed when we accept His kingship anew each year on Rosh Hashanah.

Rosh Hashanah Typical Food Dishes

  • Honey (Apples and Honey)
  • Challah (braided egg bread shaped into spirals or rounds symbolizing the continuity of Creation)
  • Honey Cake
  • New Fruit (second night)
  • Fish
  • Brisket

A perfect Wine for Rosh Hashanah ~ Psagot Edom

For a Jewish New Year celebration, this really tasty Kosher 2013 Psagot Edom has all of the attributes of a delicious Cabernet Sauvignon… dry, black Marionberry fruit flavors, with vanilla lingering, long after the sip has been enjoyed. It sounds to me that serving this wine with brisket, since it’s a Cab blend, would be a perfect combination.

If you’re not going with traditional holiday fare, because you’re not Jewish, but can appreciate celebrating a new year cycle – like we also do with Chinese New Year – this very special wine will take you to a new culture (perhaps) and broaden your palate for Cabernet Sauvignon. I did find it reflecting the desert a bit. It’s dryness, for instance, didn’t remind me of a French wine, which reflects a more humid terroir. It also didn’t remind me of other Cabernets from around the globe. Its distinctively lean flavors seemed more of a desert expression.

Psagot Edom Winery

The Psagot Winery is located in the Judean Hills, just north of Jerusalem, overlooking the Edom mountains to the east. Psagot’s Edom is the winery’s premier red wine. It’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (75 percent) and Merlot (25 percent). It’s definitely full-bodied, and aged for 14 months in French and American oak barrels.



Bubbly Wine,California,Canned Wines,Chardonnay,Importer,Italy,Rosé,Sauvignon Blanc,Wine

Wine Cans Continue To Come On Strong ~ And So Are the Tailgate Parties

Tailgate parties, the rage in parking lots… All I know is… when people are all drinking from cans and it’s all about beer, just hand over the equal packaging opportunity in wine, thank you very much. And convenient: no wine openers needed or glass to lug around. And, according to Nielsen ratings

  • 2016: U.S. sales of wine in cans totaled $14.5 million during 2016. This was a surge of 125 percent over 2015.
  • 2017, May 2: “U.S. canned wine sales keep growing and is up 155 percent in dollar sales, and 190 percent in volume.”

I’m NOT a beer person. Never have been, and never will be. It smells like skunk and tastes like it too, on my palate. The scourge of a super palate. Some think I’m being elitist, when I say I have one. Quite the contrary. It’s no blessing to have an overabundance of taste buds. Everything gets amplified… It’s like going to a Motley Cru concert, when you’d prefer to be at ELO.

So, if I’m at a sporting event – like a tailgate…

Hand me the canned wine, si vous plait

And, I have some great suggestions for you. First, size matters: Cans have a couple of convenient sizes.

  • The small ones are equivalent to a one and a half glass of wine at 187 ml.
  • The larger ones are good for two and a half glasses; a half bottle of wine at 375 ml, where a bottle of wine is 750 ml (five glasses).

Cans on my radar screen


Tangent Wines from Edna Valley

Fresh. Crisp. Vibrant. Yes, they are.

Owned by the Niven Family Wine Estates, they took on “one of the world’s greatest explorations of cool climate (Edna Valley), alternative white wines from a single vineyard.” And they’ve focused on creating refreshing, easy-drinking wines that are also complex. Their wines are all made with estate fruit grown on their family’s Paragon Vineyard in Edna Valley. Tangent is now selling a Rosé and a Sauvignon Blanc in cans, and they’re totally delicious. I only had to go as far as the pool to enjoy them this summer. I do foresee how cool they’d be at tailgate parties… Wine gone sports is easy when the wine is in a convenient can.

2016 Tangent Sauvignon Blanc

  • 375 ml
  • Clean, crisp, and so refreshing, who knew this could translate over so well into a wine can? I loved this Sauvignon Blanc’s green apple flavors, with hints of lemon… It was very easy to enjoy. If you like Saugivnon Blanc on the lean side, this one is for you. I like the care that this family has devoted to their wine brands. They’re located in Edna Valley, a very cool AVA in California; so, the wines are going to have more acidity. I prefer acidity over alcohol, so they fit right into what’s going to make me happy to taste. They’re more delicate, less rich…

2016 Tangent Rosé Wine

  • 375 ml
  • A medium bodied Rosé, it has delicious floral notes, with restrained plum-fruit flavors. The 2016 Rosé is made with Albariño, Viognier, with a bit of Pinot Noir, Grenache, and Syrah. This blend wasn’t easy for me to decipher, because of red and white grapes all coming together in one blend… A true concoction that worked really well, still left a lot of mystery in the process of “guess the varieties used” except to say, yummy!


Tìamo Wines

Winesellers, Ltd. has introduced two varieties of Tìamo organic wines in a can. Perfect for tailgates and fall camping trips, consumers can sip organic white and rosé wines from the Italian producer. And, they’re available as individual cans or packs of four. “Tìamo is an innovative and modern brand produced sustainably from organic grapes, a perfect match for the canned wine format that promotes common sustainable attributes, like lightweight packaging and efficiency in recycling,” explained Todd Nelson, Marketing and Communication Manager for Winesellers.  “Tìamo organic White and Rosé are ideal for this application and entry into the emerging canned wine category.”

2016 Tìamo White Wine

  • 375 ml
  • Tìamo White Wine ~ Grillo ~ How’s that for a white variety? It’s not the happy, every day-every way grill out back. (Pronounced GREE-lo) It sounds firm, and it’s refreshingly all that. Riddu and/or Rossese bianco (other names) is a white Italian wine grape variety, which withstands high temperatures.It’s also widely used in Sicilian wines.

2016 Tìamo Rosé Wine

  • 375 ml
  • Tìamo Rose Wine ~ Montepulciano ~ And, what about this red wine gone rogue? I just love saying it.. Mon-te-pul-ci-AN-o… This is the primary grape in the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita wine Offida Rosso. It makes a really lovely rosé, whether you’re headed to the beach, around a pool – a lot safer than glass picnic lunches in a quiet meadow.


Bollicini Brut and Rose  – These single serving cans of Italian sparkling wine are light, crisp, and refreshing! Combine that with the convenient and attractive packaging – and you’re the true star at the next tailgate! The parent company is Mionetto USA. I’m going to have more of their wines to talk about at a later date. For now, it’s their oh-so-cute cans.

From their site: Mionetto USA, the United States subsidiary of Henkell & Co. Gruppe, was founded in 1997. Mionetto USA began with the introduction of the Mionetto family’s portfolio of fine sparkling wines to the United States, with the mission of establishing the prosecco category. Mionetto USA has grown to become the importer for one of the leading prosecco brands and ranks among the fastest growing premier wine importing companies in the United States.

NV Bollicini Sparkling Cuveé

  • 187 ml
  • A blend of Trebbiano, Pinot Bianco, and Chardonnay, this wine has stone fruit flavors of peach and apricot, that were really refreshing in a Southern Belle sort of way. Honestly, this was my first sparkling wine in a can experience. Not knowing what to expect, it was actually a lot of fun. A cold can, a hot, hot 100 degree day, and a sparkling wine. What could go wrong? Well, nothing did. It was totally fun, completely delicious, and left me craving more. So, I opened the Sparkling Rosé

NV Bollicini Sparkling Rosé

  • 187 ml
  • Trebbiano, Pinot Nero, and Lambrusco~ More typical with strawberry flavors. Trebbiano is an Italian wine grape, one of the most widely planted grape varieties in the world, and yet most people don’t even know it exists in the US. Pinot Nero is Italian for Pinot Noir… Got this one, right? Lambrusco is a grape variety, and many of us know it as “Lambrusco, the bubbly red wine.” Added to this Rosé and it’s right at home. The melange of this wine is superb. As refreshing as the Cuveé, both of these wines are delightful and will bring endless fun at any party.
  • As I was ending my photo shoot a friend appeared. I showed him both cans and asked if he’d like to have some bubbly with his dinner. He said, “I’m headed to my mom’s 83rd birthday dinner.” I said, “Oh, take them to your mother. She’ll love them.” He said, “Yes, she will and the blue one will match her hair.” We both had a great giggle… It was fun to share. I’m sure she also got a great giggle for the tiny cans that contain so much fun in them.

Rubin Family of Wines

I’ve been working with Ron Rubin of the Ron Rubin Winery for five years, as of this coming October. Ron is also involved in The Republic of Tea. If you know the quality of that line of beverages, it gives you some insight into his wines, too. Ron is exacting, not for the sake of perfection, but for the sake of quality assurance. He’s traveled the world to learn about teas. He’s also doing the same with wine. And if there’s a window open for any innovation, what -so-ever, he’s going to find it… Heck, he’ll invent it if it’s not already in the works. He dares to dream, and does it in a very measured way.

So, when he got the bug for canned wines, the first thing he did was create “We Are California” wines. Cathy name, easy to enjoy. Convenient to carry, headed to outside events. Safety was also a critical factor, so his cans have a protective lining. I’m not going to create tasting notes for these wines, just know that I approve them all, and they are for you to discover the flavors. Get back to me with your thoughts. YOU can write the tasting notes.


Easy to remember names?

NV We Are California Chardonnay

  • 187 ml
  • Everyone can identify with California. This is an off-dry wine, for the record.

NV We Are California Red

  • 187 ml
  • Everyone can identify with California. Chill it and enjoy!

Family legacy

NV Pam’s Un-Oaked Chardonnay

  • 187 ml
  • Next, he named one after his charming wife, calling the cans Pam’s Cuties. How could he not? These little cans are really adorable. He already had a Pam’s Un-Oaked Chardonnay, and that wine was the inspiration for also having Chardonnay in a can.

NV Ron’s Red (Blend)

  • 187 ml
  • Followed by… Ron’s Red ~ For the record: This wine is a blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, and Merlot.

Disclosure: all canned wines were samples. I’ve also included our client Ron Rubin Winery’s canned wines. If it’s a client, I’ve not only endorsed the wines in order for the company to be a client, but I’ve also tasted the wines and approved of the quality.