Opinion,Oregon,Pinot Grigio,Pinot Gris,Wine

The Curious Oregon Pinot Gris

IMAGE Copyright: rfoxfoto / 123RF Stock Photo

Pinot Gris is a mutation of Pinot Noir. In a blind tasting, when placed with other white varieties, look for the telltale pink rim around the edge of the glass. You’ll guess this one correctly every time, and people will think you’re a genius for being spot on.

Harvey Steiman, of Wine Spectator magazine, refers to as Oregon’s “unsung hero.”

Robert Parker’s Wine Buyer’s Guide, “This is the hardest wine to find, as virtually all of it is snapped up before it has a chance to leave Oregon. Fruitier and more floral than chardonnay, Pinot Gris, from the world’s most underrated great white wine, can be a delicious, opulent, smoky wine with every bit as much character and even more aging potential than Chardonnay.”

Curious: What’s Resistance to Crowning it Queen by Some in Oregon

It’s Oregon’s second largest grape variety, pulling up the rear as a white wine offering. It’s not Chardonnay, as some would imagine, given Chardonnay’s white grape singular popularity… Nope… not in a heartbeat. Oregonians have been pursuing Pinot Gris since its earliest days of planting Vitis vinifera. Today, many, many vintners in Oregon craft this genetic mutation of the Pinot Noir grape… Pinot Gris, as it’s called in Oregon and France, and rare Pinot Grigio examples, as it’s called in Northern Italy, while others call it Grauburgunder and Ruländer.

At the 2011 Oregon Pinot Gris Symposium at Oak Knoll Winery, Keynote Speaker Paul Gregutt of Wine Enthusiast magazine said, “Stop with the Alsace and Italy comparisons. It’s time to talk Oregon!” That got me to thinking that I needed to study both first, in order to know how to move the comparisons away from both regions as a point of similarities… Hence the first understanding of position.

Known to flourish in cool climates and high altitudes, first latitudes:

  • Oregon ~ Willamette, 45 degrees
  • Alsace ~ 48 degrees, 30 minutes
  • Northern Italy: Friuli-Venezia Giulia ~ 46 degrees latitude

Next, elevations:

  • Oregon~ Has definitely got the cool climate thing going on, and in some places also has some of the higher altitudes, but Willamette Valley does not have high elevations. Perhaps its closer proximity to sea level is one of the defining elements for Oregon’s Pinot Gris’ terroir differentiations; i.e., being able to thrive without extreme high altitudes, gathering more earth notes perhaps? Portland’s elevation is only 20 feet above sea level, for instance, and Willamette Valley is only a 20 minute drive to the west.
  • Alsace ~ 574 to 702 feet
  • Northern Italy/Friuli ~ Starting elevation is about 2,000 feet.

Where most Pinot Gris is produced in Oregon is about 20 feet above sea level (example: Oak Knoll Winery in Hillsboro, the first winery just outside of Portland traveling eastward), to 400 feet at Christopher Bridge Winery in Oregon City (36 miles southeast of Hillsboro).

The above numbers tell me that while in the neighborhood of other Pinot Gris wine grape growing regions, Oregon is the highest latitude and the least elevation. So, Paul Gregutt is right… Comparisons won’t do anything but hold Pinot Gris back from its own definitions.

From www.City-Data.com: Oregon – Topography

At the state’s western edge, the Coast Range, a relatively low mountain system, rises from the beaches, bays, and rugged headlands of the Pacific coast. Between the Coast and Cascade ranges lie fertile valleys, the largest being the Willamette Valley, Oregon’s heartland. The two-thirds of the state lying east of the Cascade Range consists generally of arid plateaus cut by river canyons, with rolling hills in the north-central portion giving way to the Blue Mountains in the northeast. The Great Basin in the southeast is characterized by fault-block ridges, weathered buttes, and remnants of large prehistoric lakes.

Oregon Pinot Gris… I’ve not really had the pleasure as a singular focus until now; but here it is, and here I am truly discovering it for the first time, from the generations that know a lot more about you, Gris, and who have come before me. I’ve not had a Northwest assignment of this magnitude before, and yet here I am, Peter Mitham saying that “ Jo Diaz might be called the éminence Gris .” What a lovely crown. May I wear it with the dignity that it deserves, and now the glasses we’re asking others to put on… The Gris glasses. Gone are the rose colored (right here by my heart, though, because any minute they could be calling me), but the Gris are for here and right now for this Gris moment. Time to get really serious with another variety.

THE WINE: Pinot Grigio can be light and lively, or it can even be robust… All in the hands of able winemakers… For me, from the ones I’ve tasted during these winter months, it’s the hope of spring, and I can only marvel how a variety so ready to refresh – and it does, believe me, regardless of the weather – Pinot Grigio really does awaken my taste buds. It’s got Northern Italian latitude (46 degrees for Friuli and 45 degrees for Willamette Valley), blended with Oregon’s overhanging, moist terroir and attitude. It only hints at Oregon’s earth notes of fog and damp forests, while showing off its creatore di vino. The range is from light with lots of minerality, to medium bodied and fruity.


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Alentejo,Food & Wine,Portugal,Vineyards,Viticulture,Wine,Winemaking

Symbiosis in the Alentejo ~ Wine Grape Growing and Olive Grove Harvesting

The Old World, brought to me gratis of Enoforum Wines

My exposure to Portugal was a paradigm shift in so many ways. It helps that my DNA dates back to Europe, because it was a return to my roots, and recentered my origins. I’ve traced two forefathers to Scotland and England in the mid 1600s. One came over as a carpenter, landing in Salem, and was sadly there during the witch trials; while the other was sent over by King James and founded Boston. While Portugal is south of Scotland and England, it’s still part of the European continent. Interestingly for me, I never felt like an outsider… Funny how that happened.

This blog is about my exposure to olive groves. I had earlier exposure at Robert Mondavi Winery, while I was there as a wine educator. Along the walkways at Mondavi, there are olive trees. When I would be on tour with a group of people, this would happen at least once a month. I’d say…

“And, these are olive trees, for those of you who might be wondering…”

Before I could even say, “But, make sure you don’t eat one… Oh, sorry… they’re bitter, aren’t they? But, now you can share that with everyone else that that’s true, right?”

About once a month, someone who was very inquisitive would always get ahead of me.

Now, being in the Alentejo, where cork trees and olive groves thrive, I witnessed harvest for the first time.

Winemaker Rui Veladas of Carmim Winery, based in the Évora District town of Reguengos de Monsaraz, had taken Gwendolyn Alley and me to tour his vineyards. As we entered the vineyard, we first passed their olive grove, then drove down to their vines. As we passed the rows of vines, I realized that each row had a couple – if not a few – grazing sheep in it… row-after-row. We got out to take pictures, then when we returned to where we had entered, we saw an entire flock of sheep. They were wandering everywhere. It was at this exact moment that I realized how still very beautifully basic and wholesome Portugal remains. I’ve never “returned to the earth,” because I’ve never left it. I was schooled in raising foods and animals by my grandmother, and I’ve given my children the same life. We eat well, so we can live well… We are what we eat and drink… Period.

I also once read that Portugal’s olive oil is so superior that Italy imports it, packs it in Italy, and puts “Packed in Italy” in small print on their labels, bottles, and cans. The story I read said that this usually means that it’s a Portuguese olive oil. I thrive to find the best foods for my family, so I actually look for these words when buying olive oils, if I can’t first find one from Portugal. (Oh, yeah!)

At the European Wine Bloggers Conference, I met Carrie Jorgensen. She’s a Californian who’s living in Portugal, and owns (with her family) Cortes de Cima Winery in the Alentejo. She, like Enoforum and Carmim wineries, also produces olive oils. While this is just emerging in the US, it’s just part and parcel of how it is working in the Alentejo region of Portugal. As Carrie and I were going back and forth on the Internet, she pointed me in the direction of a video her winery has produced of olive harvest. While in Carmim’s grove, it was lunch time, and the workers were on break from their pruning. Carrie’s short video of hand harvesting is a must see, if you have any curiosity at all about how olives are removed from the trees today. It’s fascinating, and this video is EXCELLENT.

Another version of harvest, done with a mechanical harvester has come from Quevedo Port Wine, another wine grape/olive grower in the Douro.

This picture below was taken during our visit to the Carmim vineyard and olive grove. The same nets used for harvest are also used to prune the olive trees, and that’s what was going on during our visit… pruning. Notice the chain saw and limbs on the ground.

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Green Valley,Sonoma County,Terroir,Wine,Wine Country,Wine Culture,Wine Education,Wine Writer

The Terroir of the Petaluma Wind Gap

A few years ago, I was privately doing a lot of reading and writing about Green Valley of the Russian River Valley.

Something that was a bit elusive for me was actually grasping exactly where the Petaluma Wind Gap originates. Everyone writes about it, but knowing exactly where it comes in is not as well pinpointed. At least, that’s what I thought until I finally fell unto the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance site. Their tag line is From Wind to Wine. I wanted to know as much about it as I could, because it helped me to define terroir for Green Valley; in my own words, though my own understandings.

Terroir is actually best described by someone who is French, to be really honest with you. I’m French, in part, and I just know this from knowing my own family members who raised me. This is because you not only get the adjectives, but you get the body language; the romance, the reason I want to go to France, words like “when the earth vibrates…” You get so much more than what a dictionary can deliver… You get the essence. I was reminded of this when I sat listening to Véronique Raskin, from The Organic Wine Company. She’s a woman so powerful that in her presence, you know the gods sent her down for a very specific purpose, which is another story for another time… But for today, terroir from her lips, and her arms, and her hands, and her facial expressions lets you know, there’s something akin to magic vibrating up from the earth, which delivers wine for very important purposes. And is part of terroir… as you begin to think of everything else you’ve read and heard about what terroir is.

And so, I continued on my terroir journey, by exploring the Petaluma Wine Gap, in order to clearly “get” the Green Valley of Russian River Valley.

The Wind Gap affects not only wines coming from the Petaluma area, but it also winds its way inland, and affects wines coming from Sebastopol and Graton of Green Valley, too. These are the coolest regions in Russian River Valley. Since Petaluma is south of Sebastopol and Graton, I’ve had to follow the stream southward to try to find the exact point of entry. It was confusing for me, because I was expecting a very narrow funnel effect… But, I learned otherwise.

First, from the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance site:

The wind and the fog are the Petaluma Gap’s trademark. The “Gap” is actually a wind gap named after a coastal mountain opening that stretches east from the Pacific through the town of Petaluma and then roars south to San Pablo Bay.

This is a great definition, but it’s not visual, and I’m a visual learner. I needed to see the exact point of entry… With this explanation, I could see where it goes… but the point of entry still remained a mystery to me. One flaw in that explanation for me, though, was its southerly to northerly flow. What about when the winds are coming in from the south and pushing northward — specifically through Petaluma, headed toward Sebastopol and then up to Green Valley?

Then, it occurred to me, because my daughter and her family were living in Petaluma. From Petaluma, we can easily drive to Tomales Bay. We’ve been there and watched the fog roll in in late afternoon. If you’re on the beach, you can visually see the fog rolling into that valley area, and understand the pinpoint location of the Petaluma Wind Gap on its southern end. I’ve been there when it happens… It just rolls in. It’s cold and windy, and it just takes over. We ran from the beach.

So, Tomales Bay is a logical point of entry, but wait… I feel like one of those sleazy TV ads… We’ve got one more entry point for you! Bodega Bay…

From Wiki about the Petaluma Gap:

The Petaluma Gap is a geographical region in Sonoma County, California, which extends in a band from the Pacific Ocean to San Pablo Bay. It is an area of low land 22 to 31 miles (35 to 50 kilometers) wide in the coast ranges of the northern San Francisco Bay Area. The western edge of the gap is located in the coastal lowlands between Bodega Bay and Tomales Bay. The eastern edge of the gap is located at San Pablo Bay around the mouth of the Petaluma River. The city of Petaluma is near the center of the gap.

And so, back to the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance:

Geographically, the Petaluma Gap borders West Marin and Valley Ford on the west, then follows Chileno Valley and Spring Hill Roads to Adobe Road on the east, Cotati on the north[,] and Lakeville on the southeast. This is not your normal geography. As inland valley air heats up, it pulls the cool coastal air into a naturally formed 15-mile-wide “gap” in the coastal range mountains. The wind flows off the ocean between Tomales Bay and Bodega Bay, builds up speed as it funnels through the gap, then empties into San Francisco Bay. Wind and fog define the area, giving the term “micro-climate” real meaning.

This lowland area, where it comes in through this 15 mile gap point-of-entry, seeps and creeps through each low lying area. Well, if you think about it, fog is a large mass and will seep into any available lowland, coming in through a defined funnel and the blanket of it quietly and atmospherically just takes over the lowlands. And, this is the chilling air coming into Green Valley that defines its cool climate. This makes this AVA the most perfect place in all of the Russian River Valley for growing the cool weather crops of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Here’s your visual, from a Google map.


Books,Education,Wine,Wine Writer

“Cork Dork” by Bianca Bosker, Tells It Like It Is With Lots of Sass

Bianca Bosker’s “Cork Dork,  A Wine-Fueled Adventure” hit a home run, with this book. I’ve been in a lot of situations, like hers in her story, so it’s all very believable.

What a joyful story of learning the who, what, when, and where of the quirky inner sanctum of sommeliers.. Bianca is a down to earth SOMM, who’s a great teacher for the fun nuances of wine. She also writes about architecture, which complements her in a yin yang way… Science and emotion, all wrapped up into one very funny person. What a great sense of humor I found, throughout the book.

Page 46: Now, you can sip. Swish the wine around your mouth, then purse your lips like you’re about to say “oh no” and – oh no is right – suck in air over the wine so it feels like it’s bubbling over your tongue. “Aerating” the wine, the official term for wine snobs’ slurping, helps release its odor molecules, which combine with taste to form flavor. You’ll look ridiculous and probably lose friends, but you’ll get more from your wine.

When I watched the movie SOMM and then wrote about it; yeah, becoming a sommelier is a lot like the first edition of the movie. The second movie was far from being a navel gazer. Women, besides the one serving the menfolk, were absent in number 1. By number two they had friend Dr. Carole Meredith as a resource. This story of Bianca’s is in that progression. What she adds to the court is a jester, and we all know how close they were to the king. She’s a breath of fresh air, in this wine world.

Page 23: “Wine,” declared the nineteenth-century novelist Alexander Dumas, “is the intellectual part of the meal.”

Bianca now knows that if someone really will focus, the talent is there. I agree partly with her, only in the way that there is so very much to learn, you never do arrive. If your passion is to be a sommelier, you must go on the same type of journey that Bianca had… with your own quirky nuances along the way… And,  that day… that day, it all paid off.

Before penning her thoughts, Bianca went on a very intriguing adventure… into the back room, inner-sanctums of the privileged few. Her adventures are hilarious. Her skill at finding the inroads, with the right people by her side, got her where she wanted to go… She’s a Cork Dork.

Loved this book. If I gave out stars, from one (lowest) to five (highest), Bianca would get a six.




Wine Cans for Summer ~ Has it ever been more convenient?

Forget the glass bottles and unpack that corkscrew. Award-winning importer Winesellers, Ltd. introduces two varieties of Tìamo organic wines in a can, just in time for the heat of summer. Perfect for picnics, barbecues, camping and more, consumers can sip organic white and rosé wines from the Italian producer, available as individual cans or packs of four.

FROM THEIR SITE: Tiamo is a line of wines, made with organic grapes, that represent top quality wines from the best growers in their respective regions. The Valdobbiadene region is ideally suited for the Prosecco grape, here the particular composition of the hilly soil, the exposition to sun, the frequent rains and the constantly mild temperature between April and October combine to provide the best conditions. Grapes for the Tiamo Prosecco DOC come from certified organic vineyards in and around Valdobbiadene. The average age of the vines is 10 – 25 years, planted in high densities and hand-harvested with low yields.

Really refreshingly delicious, both wines. And, I love it when I’m able to write about a couple of obscure (at least to most of us), unusual varieties. That’s what we have here. Probably the most unique wine you’re tasted recently – unless you’re in the import business.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

“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.”

The white and rosé varieties featured in the initial can launch are both certified organic from top grape growers in their respective regions. The white wine is produced from organic Sicilian Grillo, with bright crispness and fresh fruit flavors of apricots and peaches.  The rosé is made from organic Montepulciano grown in the Abruzzo region, with a fresh bouquet of wild strawberries and floral accents, and a dry and crisp palate.

Tìamo, a partnership between Winesellers, Ltd. and Master Wines (Melvyn, Janie and Charles Master), is an innovative brand geared towards modern wine consumers and trend-setting retailers and restaurants.  Canned wine isn’t the producer’s first foray into alternative and sustainable formats; Tìamo also produces 20-liter kegs of select varietals for on-premise wine on tap.

Tìamo White and Rosé will be available in 375ml cans in four packs with an SRP of $19.99.  Retailers can also choose to sell individually per can with an SRP of $4.99.

About Tìamo
Tìamo is a line of wines, made with organic grapes that represent top quality wines from the best growers in their respective regions. The selection includes a Prosecco that is sourced from vineyards near the village of Valdobbiadene, a crisp but fruit forward Pinot Grigio that comes from vineyards near Treviso in the Veneto region and beautifully soft Chianti from Montespertoli, which lies in the heart of the Tuscan countryside. Additional wines available also include a Barbera and Grillo.  In summer 2017, Tìamo will launch wine in a can, featuring the Grillo and a rosé from organic Montepulciano grown in the Abruzzo area.  The Grillo, Barbera and Pinot Grigio are also available in 20 Liter recyclable kegs for restaurants offering wine on tap. All of the Tìamo wines are sourced by the owners of Tìamo, Melvyn & Jane Master, their son Charlie Master and the Sager family.

About Winesellers, Ltd.
Founded in 1978 by Yale Sager, Winesellers, Ltd. is a second generation, family-owned and globally recognized importer and marketer of fine wines to the U.S. market. The company’s portfolio represents the finest quality of wines in their respective price category and has widespread distribution in all 50 U.S. states.   The Winesellers, Ltd. portfolio includes producers and brands from Argentina, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy, New Zealand and other countries worldwide.


Astrology,Biodynamic,Grape Growing,Vineyards,Viticulture,Wine

Viticulture in Astrological Cycles ~ a.k.a. Biodynamic

Sagittarius the archer

Image via Wikipedia

Years ago, a friend, who was studying astrology, sat with his ephemeris and told me not only what I knew about myself within my astrology chart, but he also told me things that I hadn’t wanted to admit to myself. I knew those facts about myself to be true, but I hadn’t yet faced them. (Who wants to admit that “tact” needs to be developed, for instance.)

That set me onto a “How did he do that?” path of studying astrology in depth for about seven years. I looked at it from two perspectives:

  1. Astronomy standpoint: what are the planetary configurations, in relation to their alignment with earth
  2. Astrology standpoint: what gravitational pulls do those alignments exert on us as humans (and plants)

I soon learned as an organic gardener that if I worked within these cycles, my garden would bear better results. Understanding the seasons is the crux of biodynamics, the unified approach to agriculture that relates the ecology of the earth-organism to that of the entire cosmos.

Many viticulturists, who are planting and growing grape vines for winemaking, have also found these cycles to be beneficial.

The preservation and cultivation of vineyards is a big concern to those are more connected with the earth plantings in a more natural, versus artificial, way. In 1924 Dr. Rudolf Steiner established and is now credited for his theory of biodynamic agriculture. Before this was established, however, one only needs to study Native American culture. Dr. Steiner wasn’t new to the scene of having respect for the land as a way of life. Before our forefathers landed on American soil, this was a gentle way of life for many Native American tribes. A great resource for getting really close to the earth and understanding how Native Americans revered the land is one of my favorite books of all time, “Seven Arrows,” by Hyemeyohsts Storm.

Responsibility for nature, land, people, and animals, biodynamic viticulture/agriculture represents the most respectful of methodologies. Using elemental substances to protect the plants will generate the most healthy grape vines, which – in turn – produces the best possible fruit.

Strengthening vines with compost preparations, which should be produced right on your property, is very easy to do. Rows of vines should be covered with nitrogen rich greens, and tilled back into the soil. Surplus shoots, grass and herbs growing beneath the vines should be cut with sickles. In autumn, the grapes should by harvested by hand, which guarantees the highest quality must.

Here’s how the seasons work, beginning with Spring, and within the astrological and astronomical cycles of the four seasons.

Understanding these basics, helps in the growing and reaping process.


  • Aries ~ Begins (it’s a CARDINAL season) – FIRE sign (March 21 – April 19)
  • Taurus ~ Middle (it’s a FIXED season) – EARTH sign (April 20 – May 20)
  • Gemini~ End (it’s a MUTABLE season) – AIR sign(May 21 – June 21)


  • Cancer ~ Begins (it’s a CARDINAL season) – WATER sign (June 22 – July 22)
  • Leo ~ Middle (it’s a FIXED season) – FIRE sign (July 23 – August 22)
  • Virgo ~ End (it’s a MUTABLE season) – EARTH sign (August 23 – September 22)


  • Libra ~ Begins (it’s a CARDINAL season) AIR sign (September 23 – October 22)
  • Scorpio ~ Middle (it’s a FIXED season) – WATER sign (October 23 – November 21)
  • Sagittarius ~ End (it’s a MUTABLE season) FIRE sign (November 22 – December 21)


  • Capricorn ~ Begins (it’s a CARDINAL season) – EARTH sign (December 22 – January 22)
  • Aquarius ~ Middle (it’s a FIXED season) AIR sign (January 19 – February 18)
  • Pisces ~ End (it’s a MUTABLE season) – WATER sign (February 19 – March 20)

Signs and what they lean toward in one quick word:

  • FIRE sign ~ Enthusiasm
  • EARTH sign – Stability
  • AIR sign – Intellectuality
  • WATER sign – Empathy

Times to plant and work a vineyard or garden geared toward growth ~ During the earth and water signs (Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn, Pisces).

Times to clean up the vineyard or garden geared toward composting~ During the fire and air signs (Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius, Aquarius).

If you think that these cycles don’t affect living beings, just ask any police officer, ambulance driver, veterinarian, or hospital attendant what happens during a full moon cycle, when tides run high. I’ve observed too many astrological happenings to know that there is a cause and effect of what we experience from gravitational pulls… The seasons are your guide for how it all works, being ruled by the Sun. Need more evidence? Read Planets in Transit by Robert Hand.

This page is just a quick snapshot of the basics… If you’re not yet practicing biodynamics, you’ve got your whole life ahead of you… Simply get going, the rest will happen.

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PR 101,PR Advice,Public Relations,Public Service Announcement,Wine

Promoting Wines I’ve Never Tasted ~ Yeah, Right

This is a Public Service Announcement:

I just got another one of those E-Mails.

Dear Friends,

It would be greatly appreciated if you could help us spread the word about our new Pinot Noir Rosés. It’s our third Pinot Noir release, but it’s the first time we’ve made it as a Rosé, and we’re pretty excited about it.

I also just read another wine blogger’s entry:

“‘It would be great if you could spread the word to your audience about our wine.’ That I’ve never tasted. No. Just no.”

A wine writer responded: “I had an editor once who asked me, ‘So, when you review a book, do you actually read the whole thing?’ People are amazing, and usually not in the good way.”

Dear winery media people:

If you’re going to ask someone to spread the word, and that person has a reputation to protect, he or she will not recommend your wine if you’ve not sent a sample of it.

Here’s the deal… You don’t even have to send a sample; however, you should suggest that a sample of that wine is available for review. If the writer is interested, she or he will ask for you to send it along.

Again, I ask, “How can I promote a wine I’ve never tasted?”

I’ll now be sharing with with queries, with this message…

In the interest of time, I’m providing this link to you. Being both a wine publicist and a wine blogger has taught me more than ever. This article can also be shared with your clients, so they know what you’re up against.

And, it’s also a convenient place to store the above verbiage, in the interest of time…


Wine,Wine Country

Here Come Bikes Into Wine Country ~ We love bikers who also share the road

The most important aspect of my first bike came in the form of a guide to “rules and regulations of operating a bicycle on the roadways.” I wish to God that everyone today also had to read the rules of the road. When I’m on my bike, I do. When I’m driving, I know others haven’t a clue. Everyone with a car imagines that everyone on a bike knows what he or she is doing. (They don’t.) Everyone with a bike imagines that everyone driving a car knows what he or she is doing. (They don’t.) Imagine, for instance – in either situation – someone is just learning. There’s an accident waiting to happen. There are innumerable instances that can be listed here. I won’t bore you.

And, remember this is wine country. A lot of people are on the road who have been enjoying wine. When I worked at wineries, I saw a lot of people who were well over their limit… Proceed with caution, drivers of both machines.

I Love My Bicycle

Years ago, when I was only 12, I got my first bicycle. It was a Christmas day. I had spent the entire month of December praying really HARD for snow, but it never came. (Unanswered prays, and it was Christmas! That was a good lesson for a growing up Catholic kid.) My birthday was on December 21, and it passed by like all others who are born too close to Christmas, with the morning “Happy Birthday,” then it was life as usual. That Christmas day, my four siblings all got great gifts, and I got a few small ones, like pencils, socks, mittens.

Yup, this was turning out to be the worst Christmas ever. I was guessing by now that that’s what happens when you hit double digits, and you’ve got three younger siblings… Christmas was now all about them now.

Then, as the Christmas tree skirt lay empty of all gifts, and we were all about to move into putting our gifts away and moving toward our Christmas meal, my mother said, “Oh, wait, we’ve got one more gift,” which she handed me. It was a small 2-by-6 inch gift, wrapped in a brown paper bag. As I opened it, I couldn’t imagine what it was. When I reached my hand into the bag, I felt something metal and pulled it out. I was a red and white (at the time, that was everyone’s color) bicycle license. My eyes opened as wide as any kid’s eyes could possibly open, my heart flipped into my throat and I ended up jumping up and down uncontrollably for at least five minutes. A Christmas in Maine with no snow! Let me out the door and “Syanara, Baby.” I got in two good weeks, before the snow finally fell for that winter…

I spent the rest of the winter reading my rules and regulations of the road, and that made the rest of my bicycle riding, to this very day, much more safe for not only me, but also the cars on the road. I’m no saint in life, but I do follow the rules of the road, because my dad also owned an ambulance service. I was there for years when calls would come in. Nothing like there are today, given the nature of bike riding becoming so competitive; but accidents have always happened, since we first learned to walk.

In wine country, we live with two factors

  1. Road rage drivers
  2. Entitled bicyclists

The other side of this coin is the following:

  1. Drivers who are patient
  2. Bicyclists who respect the rights of drivers, too

I’m not writing about the latter group, because they’re the positives on the side of this coin. I’m going to take on the other two sets of people.

To Road Rage Drivers

Get yourselves into an anger management class. Life’s too short to hold such negativity for the health of your body, if for no other reason. You’re setting yourself up for diseases like hypertension, heart attacks, and strokes. Are the people, who you’re allowing to make you so angry, worth it? Remember, we give our power away, and every time you get ticked off at anyone in your way on the road… You’ve just shortened your life… and maybe even the other person’s. Take responsibility and get yourself into a class to learn how to manage your emotions.

To Entitled Bicyclists

Get yourself a grip on how to also share the road. Being on a bicycle does not give you the right to disobey the laws, forcing drivers into having to take responsibility for your angry behavior with all drivers. Some of you hate us all… and it’s easy to tell who you are… Being in the wrong does not make you in the right lane. Review your rules of the road.

Thoughts from CA. gov site:

Each year in California, more than 100 people are killed and hundreds of thousands more are injured in bicycle collisions. Some bicycle related crashes are connected to the bicyclist’s behavior, while others are due to the motorist’s lack of attention.

Bicycle riders on public roads have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists, and are subject to the same rules and regulations. Refer to the California Driver. Motorists must look carefully for bicyclists before turning left or right, merging into bicycle lanes, and opening doors next to moving traffic. Respect the right-of-way of bicyclists because they are entitled to share the road with you.

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Cabernet Sauvignon,California,Chardonnay,Napa,Sauvignon Blanc,Stags Leap District,Viticulture,Wine,Wine Country,Wine Publicist,Wine tasting,Wine Travel,Winemaking,Winery

An Alice in Wonderland Life as The Taylor Family Vineyards’ Door Opened

From Then to Now

As I reflect upon my own life’s extensive work, it’s been one that’s opened impressive doors to a lot of privilege and honor. Why did I get to be the one backstage with rock n’roll’s brightest stars, in Portland Maine, and be allowed to photograph them for national trade magazine submissions?

There were very few exceptions, during the 80s. Some, like Sting, just wanted to meet and greet the six of us (arranged through a record company). This was at the end of his US tour, before he headed to Montreal’s Amnesty International Concert (which is where we were also headed).  Rod Stewart just allowed us to watch him warm up, but not before he looked me up and down, from head to toe and back up to head. (I theorize that it was the pants I had just bought in NYC. The were made in Turkey, very baggy in the leg. They would have looked great on stage. He must have been wondering where he could also get them. Saks. Rod... on a bargain rack, no less.)

Now living in wine country, having swapped one focus for another, I’m humbled by this view every morning, and the people whom I’m meeting any day of the week I’d like.  And, my stars are now winemakers and proprietors of wine companies. Here’s some of the story for the…

Taylor Family Vineyards ~ Stags Leap District Vineyard to Vintner 2017

Invited to the “Stags Leap District Vineyard to Vintner” event. Most assuredly I’ll return. I went last year, and the doors that were available were like the ones lining the corridor, where Alice in Wonderland stood looking and deciding; adventures in magic awaiting behind each door, for curious minds to enter. Then, the party begins.

So, “where do you want to go this year?” He asked. “I really want to see some caves this time, and I want to go to the Taylor Family Vineyard. They only have one day each year, when they open their winery to the public.” As we drove past Silverado Vineyards, “Hey, what about Silverado Vineyards? I’ve always been curious about that one.” Jose admitted that he had, too.

“Okay, we have a plan, ” he said.

This story is Part 2. Pine Ridge Vineyards ~ Stags Leap District Vineyard to Vintner 2017 was my first, in this series. I got my caves fix at Pine Ridge, hosted by Michael Beaulac, who was standing right there, as I checked in and said I’d love to see caves this year. With no hesitation, Michael said… “We’ve got caves. Want to see caves? Let’s go!” I had forgotten that the book Into the Earth ~ A Wine Cave Renaissance had Pine Ridge as one of their featured caves. And, now I was going to begin my own journey, thanks to Michael’s natural joie de vivre.

From Pine Ridge, we then traveled to Taylor.

Taylor Family Vineyard Opens Its Doors ! Only Once a Year

~ and it’s fabulous ~

From the Taylor Family Vineyard Website:

We believe in celebrating both the finer things in life and its simple pleasures.
Family dinners and big celebrations. New recipes and tried-and-true favorites. An old dog on the porch. Small children keeping the screen door in constant motion. Filet mignon. Homemade ice cream. Dancing. Cheering on our favorite team—although we disagree on which team that is. Sharing a good story—the taller, the better.

Good one, the taller, the better…

So, This was my second year, at the Stags Leap District Vineyard to Vintner event. I was really jazzed about it, because last year’s event was a 2016 highlight. Admittedly, I don’t get out much. Unlike those who come to California wine country as tourists, the day I moved to California, my tourist days ended, and my writing career took off. Writing is a solitary, day-to-day life, creating those tall tales that the Taylor Family loves so much. Stags Leap really does attract me fro some tales.

Opening its doors only once a year… I dig it.

My pictures are telling the story of this lovely family visit. Again, from their Web About Us page:

In 1980, Napa Valley residents Jerry and Pat Taylor, along with their children Scott, Sandy, and Mike, took on the ultimate do-it-yourself project: converting ten acres of the family’s 23-acre ranch in the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley to vineyard. This experience of the five family members, on their hands and knees planting and tending young vines, was a dream come true for Jerry, a fifth-generation Napa County resident who had grown up on his family’s farm.

I gravitated toward Pat, knowing that she must have wonderful details of their lives on the ranch, in the hills of the Stags Leap AVA District. I learned that she’s now a matriarch, having lost her husband Jerry, on February 11, 2015. (I didn’t know, but felt empathy.) As she stood there, tall and strong, I couldn’t help but marvel. The love of her family exudes from every pore in her body. I can see her pulling weeds in her gardens, when they pop up. The family tree house is a respite, from the crowded valley floor. It’s a perfect setting.

The Taylor Family annual open vineyard gathering… Don’t miss it. At the homestead, you’re away from the hustle and bustle below. You’ll have a bird’s eye view, over the valley floor, which extends to the Silverado Mountain range. Peace and tranquility, it just fits.

Pat shared a sweet family story. When her granddaughter Danielle was a very small child, she told Pat, “When I grow up, I want to get married here.” (Backdrop: the Silverados with a sweeping Stags Leap Valley floor) Hum… She’s going to be such a beautiful bride, fulfilling her heart’s desire, childhood memory.

What a great family.

Fun Facts

Patriarch Jerry Taylor was a fifth generation farmer in Napa Valley. After they married, Pat and Jerry purchased an estate, with the original vineyards being then planted in 1980. First they were grape growers, who sold their wine grapes to wineries. When their daughter Sandy and her husband Phil approached Pat and Jerry, to create a winery, legacy was secured. As time went on, everyone became maxed out, just as the next generation was ready to be part of the family business. It truly is a family affair, with employees who are all connected via DNA. They do, however, pay homage to their professional winemakers Gustavo Brambila and Kristy Melton. All goodhearted people.

Taylor Family Vineyards’ Wines

  • 2015 Sauvignon Blanc ~ Crisp, clean, sparkling on that spring day. As free as the air we were breathing. What a wonderful greeting, as we walked toward the party on the deck and lawn.
  • 2015 Hillside Chardonnay ~ Well rounded body, sensual and sexy
  • 2013 St. Helena Cabernet ~ Richly elegant, ruby red, like a velvet robe the queen might wear… just arrives with tannins that slid right down my palate
  • 2012 Five, Six, Seven Bland ~ I didn’t get to it
  • 2013 Reserve Cabernet ~ Nor did I get to this one

I do believe that the consistent quality that I experiences in an over-all way, speaks well to – I will love any of them, when the next opportunity arises.


Oregon,Willamette Valley,Wine,Wine Country

Aberrant Wine Cellars ~ Eric Eide Artisan Winemaker

Quirky is how I think of Eric Eide of Aberrant Cellars, in the best possible way. When in rock n’roll radio, I had my own set of stars. Today’s stars are just as talented, but in the world of wine. Both music and wine need to be in a perfect balance of art and science to be fully appreciated. I photographed rockers, now I’m chronicling winemakers. That’s a balance, too, for telling a story literally and figuratively with text and images.

So here we are: Enter Eric Eide

Eric Eide contacted us, because he’s a one man band and the load was really getting to him. We became a small team, and have been that way ever since. We first met Eric over the phone; I had never heard his last name pronounced. So, I had to ask… It’s pronounced like “I.D.” Well, that was simple enough, and perhaps the only thing simple about Eric. His mind pours out ideas at a rapid pace, the way you invert a bottle of wine and just let ‘er go.

What I Love About Eric

There’s always something that hooks me, with each new client, almost immediately. And it stays throughout the process of a vintner/client relationship. Eric’s background was in selling wine for years, so was mine, once. – Bond – We talked, established our strengths. (My weakness is being chatty, but that didn’t get in the way. It’s a good test. If you can’t take it in a meeting, let’s all just move on.) And, then, I began to read his Website.

What? Someone Actually Loves Latin?

Mythology, I love mythology. I read The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy each spring for three consecutive years in my 20s. Yeah, bring it on! Latin examples below:

  • Confero Pinot Noir
    • Confero {to bring together} is, and will always be, the practice of bringing distinct vineyards and clones of Pinot Noir together from differing sub-regions within the Willamette valley.
  • Amplus Pinot Noir
    • Amplus {Extensive, Imposing} Within the Willamette valley there are six sub-appellations which were created starting in 2004.
  • Virtus ex Pinot Noir
    • Virtus ex {Strength/Virtue of…} Each of these “sub-apps” (above statement) are distinguished from one-another by differing climatic conditions, soil types, and geographical/topographical influences.
  • Carpe Noctem
    • Carpe Noctem: {Seize the Night} There are some activities which simply seem better suited for when darkness falls and our animal spirits are once again awakened from daytime temperance…in addition to those[!], savoring this provocative wine should be placed toward the top of the list.

Eric’s thoughts are always intriguing and refreshing

Overall Winemaking Philosophy ~ My goal is to create wines with balance, showcasing an element of restraint; I strive for an old-world style of wine. I’m not attempting to push boundaries with the up-front personalities of the wines. I aim for my wines to be elegant and powerful in the same breath.

His mentors and heroes

ERIC EIDE: A defining moment came in January 2008, while traveling through France, on an annual pilgrimage with my employer. At the time, we were visiting and tasting new releases, for the wineries that we represented. More specifically, it was while listening to Messrs. Claude Dugat and neighboring vigneron Christian Serafin. These two heralded Gevrey-Chambertin producers, for whom I have immense respect and admiration, talked candidly about the challenges each faced, with the newly released 2006 vintage.

In 2008, Eric took a fork in the road

There will be a lot more about Eric on my blog. I’m continually reminded that this blog is my journal from being a wine publicist. I try not to completely focus on clients, because it would be too limiting. Still, the insider’s view that I have is fun to share as “newsy.” this business of wine is never boring. What a gift to have found my passion of wine and writing. The cast of characters is endless, ass is the talent of each level of production.

In 2011, Eric began to list his report card reviews


2011 VIRTUS EX ~ Pinot Noir

Ripe but invigoratingly tart – edged blackberry & purple plum are garlanded in bittersweet perfumed iris & gentian, while mingled with peat, humus and sauvage (wild) notes. A striking combination of textural richness with infectious juiciness, culminating into a lingering finish that is downright intriguing; in what is typical Aberrant Cellars fashion. Drink through 2020.

Yeah, you can see the fun with this one, if you’re in the wine business.