Bordeaux ~ An Epicenter Like No Other ~ partie quinze

Bordeaux, as an old world location, is a new world for me. I began to pay attention in earnest last September, and now September is right around the corner, again.

Life is like an LP. The closer you get to the center, the quicker the revolutions. — Jo Diaz (Been saying this since my days of being in radio in the 1980s.)

That’s all I have to say about time flying…

Enter the world of Bordeaux. On April 28, 2016, Châteaux Margaux‘ was voted to be the wine of the 2015 vintage. That’s quite a distinction, and so my images for this story are borrowed (with credit) from the Chateaux. They’re a clear leader in what I’m thinking about to today, as I wonder if Bordeaux could be the most expensive place on earth to live… And perhaps the most glorious?

[This image from Châteaux Margaux’ Website ~ Title: 07/17/2016 Magnificent vines] This picture epitomizes why people hunger for the Bordeaux Experience, included me on that list. What a beautiful estate. I clearly remember working at my first California winery – for five, fruitful years in the early 1990s – while pinching myself daily. I can’t even imagine walking these grounds; but, I’m very happy for those who are able.

Last September I included this on my blog: From Bordeaux with Love

By: Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, Olivier Bernard, President…

2015: the dawn of a great vintage…

Located on the 45th parallel, the northern limit for the world’s great red wine regions, Bordeaux likes sunny summers to produce great vintages. The months of May, June, and July 2015 were among the hottest and driest on record. Water stress, so important for stopping vegetative growth and starting the ripening process, took place early, in July, and brought on a magnificent véraison (colour change) in early August. I have not seen such an early, even véraison since 2009. All our grapes were red by the 15th of August and many of them were already deeply-­‐colored.

Fortunately, the month of August was less hot and more wet, which gave a certain vigor to the vines.

Fast Forward ~ Today

[Image from Châteaux Margaux’ Website ~ Title: 09/29/2015 Harvest 2015: The start of the reds’ harvest] This image epitomizes Bordeaux’ red wine grapes. It’s so pleasing to my sense of aesthetics.

I got to thinking about the prices of Bordeaux wines.

In April, Chris Mercer wrote in Decanter, “Bordeaux 2015 releases: First prices emerge.”

Prices on Bordeaux 2015 en primeur wines as they leave negociant cellars look set to rise by between 10% and 20% versus the 2014 vintage, suggests an initial trickle of releases plus survey data from Liv-ex.

May, Bloomberg, Michael Collins: Bordeaux 2015 Prices Make New Wines Most Expensive Since 2010

Incredible, still in the barrel and the tastings that have begun detect the quality of the wine. I’m thinking “only in Bordeaux.” But, I decided I’d give it a shot at least for other regions, maybe Burgundy? So I searched on “pricing of Burgundy wines for 2015 vintage.” Another Decanter story. This time by Andrew Jefford, September 21, 2015. To make life simple, I searched on the percent sign. Nothing. I then searched on the word “percent.” Again, nothing.

Next thought: Is Bordeaux the most expensive real estate in the world?

  • Christie’s, International Real Estate: Bordeaux, The World’s Most Prestigious Wine Region
  • Christie’s, International Real Estate: 45 Luxury Homes and Properties for Sale in Bordeaux (Prices begin at $7 Million)
  • Sotheby’s: Bordeaux – its region and its real estate market (from the Sotheby’s site…)
    • Bordeaux is often described as the world’s wine capital, with about 117,000 hectares of vineyards, 57 appellations (winegrowers’ regions), 9,000 wine-producing châteaux and sales of $ 14.5 billion annually. With an annual production of over 700 million bottles, the Bordeaux region produces large quantities of everyday wine as well as some the most expensive wines in the world. Bordeaux itself is considered a “City of Art and History” and has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. While the city of Bordeaux is one of Europe’s largest 18th century architectural urban areas, the Bordeaux region offers an unbelievable wealth of beautiful country houses, estates and châteaux making it a favourite destination for tourists and residents alike.

If one thinks about not only the real estate, but also the contents of the chateaux and museums, Bordeaux is a very important epicenter of earthly locations for land, buildings, art, history, and wine.

What a great world to explore. God bless Millesima for being in the right place at the right time, to settle into such an amazing situation. It was they who really inspired me to learn about Bordeaux. I am what Millesima has inspired me to become, in this regard.



Bubbly Wine,England,Sparkling wine,Wine

Get ready folks: England is on the winemaking map with Ridgeview England

Established in 1995, Ridgeview’s wines are the fist wines to arrive from England that have been imported to the United States. Asked if I would interested in tasting them, how could I refuse? Curiosity is my middle name. Their PR person Erica Honni, wrote to me, “…Ridgeview Wines, the first English wines to arrive in the USA.” Well, let the history lesson begin.

From their Website:

Ridgeview is a family company dedicated to the production of the highest quality sparkling wine using traditional sparkling grape varieties and methods. Devotion to the vineyards and winemaking has resulted in Ridgeview being the proud winners of numerous international sparkling wine trophies.

And, from Jancis Robinson, “England’s vinous glory: fizz made in the image of champagne.  Alluring and zesty – a sort of rustic Bollinger.”

Here’s an interesting story; again, from their site:


Ridgeview’s trade mark MERRET™ is in honour of Englishman Christopher Merret. In 1662 he presented a paper to the Royal Society in London which documented the process of making traditional method sparkling wines. This was 30 years before the technique was documented in champagne. To celebrate Merret’s achievements Ridgeview has kept a London connection when naming our range of wines.

Now, let the tasting lesson begin

First we enjoyed the 2014 Ridgeview  Fitzrovia Rosé. “Fitzrovia” is right… An abundance of bubbles, and an abundance of flavors. What a delight! We were having Asian food, and nothing could have been better. I hadn’t connected it to any food, when I first opened the bottle. Once open, dinner was planned… A bit of heat and a touch of sweet, blinding*, as the Brits would say.

Next, Ridgeview’s Blanc de Blancs ~ 100 percent, single estate Chardonnay from their original vineyard. This is a very Ace* brut. Another bit of British slang for you to look up. It will help to know exactly what I thought of this one. It is indeed a Brut, and very unlike the Rosé, and every bit as delicious. A crisp, early harvested apple is my best description. I used to pick green apples and eat them as a kid, and so I can easily related to the malic acid. Thinks of something creamy to enjoy this wine with. It will be very complementary.

…Get ready folks. Global Warming has made England much more habitable for winemaking. The two wines I received from Ridgeview are spectacular.



Wine Century Club Expands Your Mind and Your Palate with Senda Wines’ Treixadura

This is how it works for me, today… Wine Century Club #166 Treixadura (081716) – Senda\Verde 2015 Ribeiro

La Senda Bodegas y Viñedos

Samples arrive from all over the world, and I’m thrilled. My scope of wine is expanding exponentially steeper daily about the world of wine, every time my door bell rings and a delivery truck person wants my signature.

  • I get to taste wines of distinction
  • I’m learning about new varieties
  • I’m learning about wine regions and their terroir
  • I’m learning about new brands and the wine families behind the brands

If I weren’t in the business of wine, my process would be much slower. I’m on an assignment given to me by the gods, and the task is unique nectar. How did I get so lucky? I really don’t know. I just keep at it. I’ve now tasted 165 different wine grape varieties and I’m about to open #166.

Join Me

#166, Treixadura: Old world aromas: Strolling through a citrus and floral garden… Then the Meyer lemon hits hard. (I scratch lemons.) These are just the aromas. On the palate, it hits me like a Sauvignon Blanc and then sneaks around the corner to become butter flavors with lingering violets and grapefruit. It has a long, long finish and is much more complex on the back end than I would have guessed from its light straw color. I associate this color with a wine that’s not going to be complex. Wrong! It’s got a lot going on. This is a very refreshing wine that you can enjoy with your cream dishes… Jamie Oliver’s creamy pumpkin and ginger soup, let’s say.

Let’s talk about Treixadura from La Senda Bodegas y Viñedos, Spain

A Delicious Story

Well, this is a Portuguese variety, for starters. Trajadura (or Treixadura) is one of the key grape varieties found in Portugal’s fresh Vinho Verde wines. I’ve borrowed this wine grape image from Wine-Searcher.  It’s not only a beautiful cluster, but it also has a beautiful leaf. Typical of what I’ve seen for a white wine grape variety, they’re more round than the red wines are. Red wine grape leaves are more maple leaf looking in structure.

LABEL COPY: Senda Verde is a collection of artisanal wines form unique regions of northern Spain that follow the 43° North parallel, stretching form coastal Galicia eastward along the northern coastline. In contrast to the rest of Spain, this area is lush, and green from oceanic and geologic influences. The region is referred to as “España Verde” (Green Spain).

Produced from the Ribeiro region, it’s only 11.5 percent alcohol… Love it, food friendly. Back to the fall Pumpkin Soup recipe. This is one fabulous wine. I so, so happy to have met you, Treixadura…

And then she said, “Aha!” This wine is called Senda\Verde. Now I get it… Similar to a Portuguese Vinho Verde… I see!  ¡Delicioso!

Brought to us by Winesellers, LTD.


Chardonnay,Green Valley,Pinot Noir,Russian River Valley,Sonoma,Sonoma County,Wine,Wine Business,Winery

Clone and Place ~ All Things in Ernest

Introducing Ernest Vineyards, a new artisan producer of cool-climate Chardonnays and Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast…

Owners Erin Brooks and her husband Todd Gottula produce wines that have been created to express their clonal attributes and their terroir’s sense of place. When they began Ernest, their mission became to “focus on love of family, art, and Burgundy.” As a result, each wine is named after a character, career, and accomplishment of beloved family members. The portrait on the front label is of Todd’s Grandfather (a great touch, in my humble opinion, I know that kind of love). Erin and Todd are committed to elevating the profile of artisanal winemaking in the United States.

Great start ~ Let’s Review the Four Wines

FROM THEIR WEBSITE: Ernest Vineyards specializes in site-specific wines. Each of our wines comprises grapes from one vineyard and one vineyard only. For our Ernest labels, we use grapes from nine sites in all. Some sites are well-draining, some are on hillsides. Some face west, some are considered cold-climate. We work closely with growers and vineyard managers at each site to dial-in the farming to adhere to a style that maximizes flavor ripeness while keeping sugars down and acidity high. The result: Wines that are pure expressions of the sites from which they came.

My Tasting Notes

  1. The Artist ~ 2014 Ernest Pinot Noir, Bush Vineyard
    • Color for me is gorgeous. I like seeing through my Pinots. I don’t appreciate the fining and filtering, which stips a great Pinot of its “great color.” I like Pinots that are Old World… Lush and plush like a Burgundy that’s crossed the Atlantic. I swirled, I sniffed, I tasted and exclaimed… “Ah, this is my kinda Pinot.” So, what’s the alcohol? No wonder… 12.5.  A lower alcohol wine allows for subtle flavors to shine through. Subtle toasted almonds long linger. I’m what’s referred to as a super palate. It’s not a blessing, it’s more of a curse. If you know a fussy eater (and drinker), you can bet your bippy that it’s a super palate person. Let’s just say, I don’t force feed children. I have empathy. We have more taste buds than the average person, so everything has to come in subtle flavors for us to “get it.” This wine has the elegance of violets, the finesse of velvet, and the finish of silk sheets. Plums flavors dripping down the side of my wine glass, and long lingering on my palate. Crowd pleaser alert! If you love the flavors I’ve just mentioned, go on line and purchase ASAP. There’s only 131 cases of this wine. Don’t blink!
  2. The Settler ~ 2014 Ernest Pinot Noir, Cleary Ranch
    • Another classic Pinot in the Old World style. More cases of this one, 388, still, these are all very small lot wines. This wine is a bit bolder. The brix level was a bit higher (The Artist: 22.0; The Settler 23.10). Very juicy, more blueberry than violets, but lots of plums, too. Less oak than the artist, so more focus on the fruit. Decide which style you like and go for it. Get brave and get one of each to do a comparative. You won’t regret it, I’m willing to bet, unless you like your Pinots with some Petite Sirah added to them to give them guts; for me, that defeats the purpose of a Pinot.
  3. The Bombardier ~ 2014 Ernest Chardonnay, Black Emerald Vineyard
    • This is a serious Chardonnay, with ripe apple flavors, lots of butterscotch (malolactic fermentation), and toasted vanilla (from the French oak). It had 40 percent new French oak. With as much ML as it exhibits, if you love “buttah,” this one’s for you. The grapes for this wine were planted in 1990, so the flavors are now mature. In that maturity comes a lot of flavor… The vines will produce less fruit (as as people do as we get older, in terms of being able to have children, right?). But, we do get sassy. This one is sassy and classy. It has mature, rich flavors for important gatherings… a celebratory wine, for sure.
  4. The Farmer ~ 2014 Ernest Chardonnay, Green Valley Coastal
    • Smooth as a baby’s cheek, 13 percent alcohol keeps this one fresh and exciting and really easy to enjoy.  Lots of Gravenstein apple flavors with this beautiful Chardonnay, and Toasted almonds on the finish.
    • TEACHER OF GREAT WINE: This is a very special wine and one that you’ll enjoy having and also sharing with your wine loving friends. I had a friend years ago, who has since gone back to the UK (and still a friend). When she was here, we loved enjoying wine together; but for her, it was only the whites. In true Brit style, she’d pull no punches, being very vocal if she tasted a wine that she just didn’t enjoy. One day, we were in a tasting room together. She tasted a wine and said, at the top of her lungs, “This wine rots.” It was a red wine (dah!), which was the real problem. Sigh… I had already announced myself as being in the wine business and our server was really kind. Honestly, the wine we were having was a beautiful wine. A few weeks later at Thanksgiving, I pulled out a Robert Mondavi Reserve (value of over $100). As I was puling the cork out of the bottle, I said, “Mary (not real name), you can’t have this one. Sorry, it’s too good to waste on you.” She balked at what I had just said and insisted that I share. I did, and she loved the wine. THIS bottle of The Farmer Chardonnay is THAT kind of wine. If you have to share it with someone like Mary, make the same kind of announcement. It’s the best way I know to teach someone how really delicious a wine is… This one is REAL Chardonnay as it should be, when it represents its terroir as it does. Don’t waste it on people who don’t enjoy real wine, and you know who they are.


The Wine Profiles

The pieces of the stories to come are from their own meticulous storytelling. I have no need to try to recreate.

  1. The Artist ~ 2014 Ernest Pinot Noir
    1. Bush Vineyard
    2. VINEYARD: Planted in 2012, this 12-acre vineyard was developed for a select set of Dutton Ranch clients, including Ernest. The vineyard sits on a north-facing slope in the Green Valley of the Russian River Valley, and is planted to Swan, Calera, and 828 clones. We are excited to watch this property develop over the next 10 years, and intend to source from it to make our flagship Pinot Noir.
    3. LABEL STORY: Todd’s grandmother, Joanne, is The Artist in the family. Her path as an artist revealed itself later in life, but her talent shines through. Today her beautiful works grace our lives daily—she is the source of the portrait of Ernest that appears on all of our bottles.
  2. The Settler ~ 2014 Ernest Pinot Noir
    • Cleary Ranch
    • VINEYARD: Downslope from his father’s Freestone Hill Vineyard, John Cleary and his family have their own parcel of West Sonoma Coast vineyard land: this 6-acre plot. Curiously, this particular vineyard exhibits a lower-than-expected conversion rate—we see a full point lower from this parcel than we see from fruit picked 100 yards up the hill. Still, fruit from this vineyard exhibits all of the classic notes that make Sonoma County Pinot Noir famous.
    • LABEL STORY: When Erin’s family settled in Motley County, Texas, they brought with them ideas, talents, and dreams. Any one of them could have been considered The Settler. The landscape provided hard challenges and discoveries, but they persevered and created a new sense of heritage along the way.
  3. The Bombardier ~ 2014 Ernest Chardonnay
    • Black Emerald Vineyard
    • VINEYARD: History runs deep at this 17-acre vineyard on Vine Hill Road in the heart of the Russian River Valley. Back in the 1960s, Sonoma County legend Duff Bevill planted the parcel to the old Clone 4 of Chardonnay. These grapes still grow today, though now the owners are Dennis and Mary Black, and the land is called Black Emerald Vineyard. Because this vineyard is dry-farmed, raising the canopy away from the heat of the ground during the day helps moderate the cluster temperature. At night, this strategy also helps keep clusters dry.
    • LABEL STORY: Todd’s Grandpa Ern proudly served during World War II. His job: Bombardier in the U.S. Air Force. With The Bombardier, we honor all who took on responsibilities and jobs during that time. We take inspiration from the many walks of life that followed.
  4. The Farmer ~ 2014 Ernest Chardonnay
    • Green Valley Ranch ~ Sonoma Coast
    • VINEYARD: Warren Dutton planted this Chardonnay vineyard in 1969, on an east-facing hillside west of the town of Graton. The clone he planted is known as the Rued Z Clone, and it produces exotic, highly identifiable fruit. Old vines produce clusters with tiny golden translucent berries. The grapes themselves have incredibly enticing flavors, floral aromatics, and tropical freshness.
    • LABEL STORY: Todd’s maternal grandparents left Orange County, California, and relocated to an 80-acre farm in the Central Valley. The change necessitated adjustments, but The Farmer, Grandpa Ray, kept at it, learning as he went and helping to raise adventuresome children and grandchildren.



#IAMarone,Amarone,Flavors from the World of Wine,Food & Wine,Italy,Veneto,Verona,Wine

How Wine Travels Impact a Wine Road Warrior ~ #IAMarone

Thanks, Radical Cartography, for this borrowed map image, in order to show how Europe and the US have regional differences, base on borders.

As an employee of wine companies, I had the privilege of being a frequent flyer. There are only 10 of our 50 states I haven’t visited. They’re in the deep south and the Midwest… States with very little population, so I missed a lot of landscape, I know; but, I don’t know what I missed for their culture. The one humbling lesson that I learned from so much US travel is that each state has its own distinct culture, much like the countries of Europe have very distinct cultures of their own. It may not seem as obvious in the US; but the subtle differences have been developed, through their original settlers; and, traditions have still carried with us over the last 400 years. My earliest known relative arrived from England in 1622. The love of adventure, with many family members arriving in the 1600s, makes me who I am (a Yankee), and so I long for Europe… appreciating its history.

Now, through social media, I see new wine explorers, their faces filled with excitement and wonder, and I marvel that this is the one aspect of a wine career that we can all say, “Been there, done that, and love that as a writer, most especially, I become an ambassador.”

As I reflect back on getting out of the US and visiting Europe, my eyes were opened really widely. We’re living in such a small world, because of air travel. Those of us who are lucky enough to be given an assignment that takes us elsewhere… we’re really blessed.

[Purchased image ~ Copyright: schrempf2 / 123RF Stock Photo]


Take Portugal, for instance

Who, without travel, would know about the foods that affect the choices of what dishes to serve with which wines from that region? So, one’s culinary palate is also greatly expanded. In Portugal I learned about their wild “Black Pigs.” These animals – unlike the farming of animals that’s done in the US – is much more humane. Wild boars are allowed to roam in oak forests. They dine on an diet of acorns from the holm oak, gall oak, and cork oak. That nuttiness translates into something so delicious that it might make a vegetarian rethink a stance for a moment, if that vegetarian wasn’t always a vegetarian. (Bacon has been known to bring back a couple of vegetarians in my family, me included in the two.)

For those of us with European roots, getting back to where our ancestors lived and labored gives us a sense of place, a realization of our culture, a delight in all that’s new for scenery… bringing images that we’ve loved seeing via National Geographic magazines to life before our very eyes.

All of this still relates back to wine, because wine is a part of sitting together with new people whom we’ve just met; listening to their stories, while absorbing their environment, and trying to put it all into perspective… For the stories, always for the stories.

And, we grow

We grow in wine knowledge, we grow in accepting their passions as our own, and we grow in our humanities, our opinions, our acceptances of what’s different from who we are, while realizing we’re still all the same as human beings, all on a path to having some enjoyment in life. I was once asked, by someone who was trying to understand me, “What do you want in life?” I said, “To be happy, and that was based on a need for adventure, to broadening my understanding of life. Wine is the pivotal point, to that, interestingly; because of the people, their cultures, and the experience offered to be inspired once again, to write anew that which is old.

These are things I noodle around in my brain as I dream about Cesari Verona and #IAMarone.



Cabernet Sauvignon,Marketing,Washington,Wine,Wine of the Week

Wine of the Week ~ 2014 Columbia Crest’s Crowdsourced™ Cabernet Sauvignon

Getting back in touch with a Washington State’s Cabernet Sauvignon was pure Heaven… Horse Heaven Hills, to be exact.

This wine was/is a Crowdsourced project… Trademarked and saying so right on the label.

Columbia Crest Winery, in Paterson, Washington, was founded in 1983. Overlooking the Columbia River, it’s grown from its humble roots to be one of the most significant wineries in Washington State. Both Washington State and the Columbia Valley have a perfect grape-growing climate for Vitis vinifera wine grape growing. Great soils and vineyard locations allow Columbia Crest to create true-to-character, high-quality wines that best represent the region’s unique terroir.

I’ve spent some time in Washington State and am very impressed with their wine programs and the state’s terroir.

So, the sample arrived and I opened it. I tasted it and knew that José was going to love it… I know his palate pretty well. So, I shared it and watched it disappear.

We both agreed, the 2014 Columbia Crest Crowdsourced Cabernet is a very special wine, in so many ways. Once the bottle was emptied and recycled, Jose was still talking about the wine… More than the finish lingers… The aromas are distinctive and ambrosial, the flavors are mouthwatering, and the finis? It long lingers…

This experiment was well worth the time it took to get consumer input. And, it’s well worth your time; you’ll grasp the collective consciousness of Washington State’s Cabernets, through consumer efforts. Fun!

[PHOTO: Borrowed from the Columbia Crest Winery’s Website]

2014 Columbia Crest Crowdsourced Cabernet Sauvignon construction

First Wine Crowdsourced from Vine to Table Releases to the Public

Columbia Crest’s 2014 Crowdsourced™ Cabernet is now available for purchase.

The first wine to be crowdsourced all the way from the vineyard to the bottle, in this unique project, Columbia Crest invited the public to vote on key winemaking decisions that impacted the creation of the wine. The result is a wine that’s truly the product of the crowd.

In June 2014, Columbia Crest began their journey to become the first winery to crowd-source a wine from vineyard to table, through a unique interactive online experience on CrowdsourcedCabernet.com. “Everything from bud break, harvest, fermentation, the final blend, and even the label was put in the hands of the online community for an educational, fun and trailblazing adventure in winemaking.”

Columbia Crest Press Release

Over the last two years, the Crowdsourced Cabernet process empowered fans and wine enthusiasts to make decisions throughout every step of creating the wine and through their participation gain a deeper understanding and connection to the craft and skill of winemaking. Columbia Crest’s head winemaker, Juan Muñoz-Oca, played an integral role in the program by educating and guiding the crowd along the way, from how much water to apply to the vines, to how the temperature outside impacts harvest, to how different varietals shape the aromas and flavors in the blending process.

In a near perfect harvest, the crowd chose to harvest at night, create a wine with a lot of complexity yet soft tannins and age it 16 months in 30% new oak barrels. The result is a beautifully integrated and layered Cabernet Sauvignon from the Horse Heaven Hills. The 2014 Crowdsourced Cabernet Sauvignon has a delicate nose of tobacco, dried herbs, bright cherries and anise. On the palate, the wine develops warm blueberry pie flavors and a silky texture with dark chocolate and toffee undertones. It finishes with a bright, elegant and refined texture.

“The 2014 Crowdsourced Cabernet is definitively a Columbia Crest wine, yet a new take on our terroir based on the crowd’s decisions. To me, it’s a balance of ‘old world’ sensitivities with ‘new world’ fruit,” said Muñoz-Oca. “We loved the whole process and getting a chance to interact with and educate our fans over the past two years. I’m immensely proud of our virtual winemakers’ final product and I am excited for the rest of the world to taste our one-of-a-kind wine.”

Approximately 1,000 cases of the 2014 Crowdsourced Cabernet are now available for purchase in the U.S., exclusively online at ColumbiaCrest.com/shop and in the Columbia Crest tasting room in Paterson, Washington, and retails for $30 per bottle.

It’s not over! The 2015 vintage of Crowdsourced Cabernet still has decisions left to be made. To place a vote and impact the next vintage, visit CrowdsourcedCabernet.com.



Education,Public Service Announcement,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Ed,Wine Education

To all my wine pals: Grow Your Career in the Wine Industry at SSU

So many of my contacts are now wanting to gain wine industry knowledge, in order to grow their career in wine business. When I got into wine, I went to Santa Rosa Junior College, because they had a terrific wine sales and marketing degree program.

I could have been running around with arrows for a long time, trying to play catch-up. Instead, I took my time, drew my bowstring back, aimed as perfectly as I could, and then began to hit my targets with much more precision. I took one course at a time and devoted 20 hours each week to whatever was my current course.  My career took off like a bullet.

Now, Sonoma State has an entire program devotes to wine business, including the finances that it takes to operate a wine company. This is greatly expanded from my humble beginnings. There’s also an Online Certificate in Wine Business Management. This is so convenient and an essential step to getting ahead, for those really devoted to making it happen.

Foundation courses begin September 8, 2016

Register by August 25th to save $120.

Information on Curriculum & Fees
Questions? Contact the WBI Porgram Office

Reminder to Current Students:  Completion of Foundation and Intermediate levels waives a two-year industry requirement for professionals interested in the internationally-accredited Sonoma MBA in Wine Business.

Certificate in Wine Business Management (’16)

“As a wine industry professional focused on one department, this program provided me a higher level of education on other channels of the business that contribute to the health and quality of the winery operation. The professors were engaging and passionate about the topics, and challenged my ability to think critically about the development and contribution of each winery channel. I would recommend this program for both winery professionals looking to grow their skills, and for newcomers to the industry seeking a an understanding of key areas that contribute to a successful wine business.”

Very exciting things are happening at Sonoma State’s wine program. Get involved and you won’t regret it… And, how convenient for anyone anywhere… It’s online!


Marketing,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Ed,Wine Education,Wine Sales,Wine tasting

Measuring the immeasurable is shocking ~ Enolytics

I just received this Email newsletter from my friend Cathy Huyghe of Enolytics.com. I asked permission to share, and Cathy said, “Yes.”

This week I’d like to bring your attention to a surprising pattern.

We noticed it as we’ve been working to integrate fresh big data sources about wine consumers in the on-premise and mobile environments.

It’s more than a pattern, actually. It’s a discrepancy and a significant one, between these two things:

What consumers want, compared to what restaurants are offering.

There’s a significantly bigger gap than what we expected to see, whether we’re talking about specific varietals or particular styles.

We have access to tremendous amounts of data on wine consumer behaviors, yet insights from analysis of that data aren’t being “translated” onto wine lists to nearly the extent possible.

Why is that?

A number of possibilities come to mind, but I’ll never know for sure which one is accurate.

Here’s what we do know: the discrepancy between what consumers want and what restaurants are offering is risky business.

Unnecessarily so, given the depth of sources and the breadth of insights available.

The intelligence is out there. It’s a question of accessing it.

We can help. What discrepancies or questions do you need to check, and address? I’d be glad to hear about it.

Cathy’s Email, if you’d like more information about this subject, or phone +1.702.528.3717 (Yes, she thinks globally.)

My reaction to Cathy’s information

Wine was born from a farming perspective. Most people who go to UC Davis or Fresno State, for instance, are studying oenology and viticulture. I’m betting that statistically speaking, very few of them are involved in marketing studies. They may take an accounting course, but let’s just say… in my college wine marketing classes… I didn’t have one winemaker or grape grower… not. one. single. one. (And, I’ve taken plenty of them.)

From day one, when the first wine was made, it was being made for personal enjoyment, not for barter. I know that came later as a natural progression, but let’s just say there were no lemonade and/or wine stands intuitively in the beginning.

Knowing what and how to sell is just as critical to being in the wine business as is making the wine. Those who are learning all about it, upside down and backwards, regions, varieties, flavors, terroir… how much time is spent learning what the market is actually enjoying, versus what you – the wine steward – is now wanting to sell the public?

Making wine is one phase of the wine business.

Marketing it is the next step.

The onslaught of people getting their credentials in wine is now another step of evolution. Everyone wants to be credentialed and perhaps even teach it. But, who really has thought about connecting the dots with what he or she knows, with creating a wine list that steps outside of what the somms want to teach? They taste it, they like it, they buy it, they put it on a list, and they wait for the curious to ask about it and MAYBE give it a try (BIG maybe, with price even being a serious factor…  Like, “You want to sell me a $100 bottle of wine to go with my pork chop?”)

So, why is Cathy’s research important for critical thinkers?

  • Knowing about any subject is phase one; knowing how to apply that knowledge is phase two.
  • It will make you famous, because you “know” what to offer.
  • Right time, right place is usually no accident. It’s called marketing. It’s scientific, based on a study of patterns.

The more you learn, the more you earn, it’s just that simple. You do want to make a comfortable living, right? If this answer is no, just keep running around with your arrows. But if you would like to incorporate some comfort into your life, by studying the target and using a bow and arrows, you’ll get there a whole lot faster.



#IAMarone,Imports,Italy,Wine,Wine Century Club,Wine Education,Wine tasting,Winemaking

Cesari Amarone della Valpolicella ~ #IAMarone

[This map of Italy, with the Vento region highlighted, is borrowed from the Italylogue.com Website.] The Veneto region is where Amarone wines originated.

My journey has just begun with Amarone wines, and it’s a love to last a lifetime. It began with Cesari Vineyards contacting me for a promotion they are having. This winery is located in the province of Verona… I had to admit that I had never tasted an Amarone wine, much less even know what it is. Their promotion has the hash tag of #IAMarone, so they can track interest and involvement. I decided to be all in.

A few days ago a sample of Cesari’s  2012 Cesari Amarone della Valpolicella Classico arrived. At last, with other stories I had written to prepare for this moment, here was the beautiful bottle that was now going to open up my world to Amarone, and one I could add to my Wine Century Club experience… bringing my total of individual varieties tasted to 164. Corvina I had already tasted (5/1/10 – 2008 Punta Crena Colline Savonesi IGT Cruvin). Now, I was going to enjoy Rondinella and Molinara.

José photographed the bottle for me, because a couple of days after it had arrived, he was drooling. He knows Amarone wines, from his Wine Spectrum days. this job was where he got to taste excellent wines from around the world, in order to sell them. I told him we could open it; but, he had to photograph it for me, before the cork was pulled. Bam!

The aromas that wafted up from the bottle were alluring, to put it mildly. Now, I was really curious. I had coincidentally bought a Stonewall Kitchen Vidalia Onion Fig Sauce and we had a tri-tip ready for cooking. Oh-my-gawd, it was going to be a great night.

[Verona Italy, Copyright: ekaterinabelova / 123RF Stock Photo]

And it was, ending with dancing our hearts out.

A tag associated the bottle; I’m going to share this with you, so you can begin your journey, too, if you haven’t already started it:

A superior red wine produced from Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara grapes. Its production is long and exacting… One requiring the grapes to dry before pressing and aging. The unique method of production is one that has withstood centuries of testing and tasting, making Amarone a classic of all wines. When poured, Amarone releases an ethereal orange aura that highlights the glass with warm color. Best when left to breathe and served at room temperature with hearty meats and game.

Bring on the Tri-Tip and sweet Vidalia onion fig sauce!

So, what did it taste like?

Where to begin… It was not what I expected, to be sure. From what I had read, I expected something akin to a sweeter wine, just because the grapes are dried before being made into wine. (What was I thinking, because reading about this wine, nothing suggests sweet. Being so used to raisins, what can I say?) I was so wrong. This Cesari Amarone wine is sultry, with just a dollop of richness; one that invited me in, but didn’t overtake anything… simply pure joy.

Amarone is a Sophia Loren kind of wine

This Amarone experience – if putting Italian culture into context – made me think of a tarantella dance that I learned so very long ago (even though it’s indigenous to Southern Italy).  Lively and fun, and a tasty, velvety treat when enjoying it. And so we tasted, had dinner, and then danced into the night. This may have been my first Amarone, but it will definitely not be my last.

More insights on Amarone? Click here.


Cabernet Sauvignon,Carménère,Chile,Concha y Toro,Imports,Wine

Wines of the Week ~ Concha y Toro Gran Reserva Series

[Image from the Concha y Toro collection]

From Concha y Toro’s Fine Wine Collection; the top of this line ~ The Gran Reserva Serie Riberas.

The winemaker for this series is Mario Miranda, who has a degree in Agricultural Engineering with a mention in Enology from the Universidad de Talca. A true global winemaker, Mario’s international experience includes technical travels to California, South Africa, Australia, France, Italy, and Spain.

When I have a bottle of Concha y Toro in my hands, I know I’ve hit it big… The wines are consistently delicious. And, if I’m in a wine shop and I’m faced with choosing a wine, especially in unfamiliar territory, with a Concha y Toro wine facing me, I have no about about what to choose. This is my go to wine, when I want something exotic and flavorful. Concha y Toro have it down to a perfect science. They are known worldwide as a wine that is well trusted.

The Gran Reserva Series includes their top-of-the-line wines. The ones that I’ve tasted below proved to be just as they wanted this line to be, the best of the best; ones that will have you being the life of the party, when you walk through the door with one of these wines in tow.

  • 2015 Gran Reserva Serie Riberas Sauvignon Blanc
    • FLAVORS:
      • It’s amazing to me that Chile parallels New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc in so many ways. It has a fragmented bouquet of apricot and lycheenut, with added lemon zest that leads to a smooth finish.
      • Distinct flavors of grapefruit and a lemon zest.
      • A well-balanced Sauvignon Blanc Claw Factor of three claws.
    • ORIGIN: Grapes were grown in the Ucúquer Vineyard, on a south bank of the Rapel River.
    • SOIL: Granitic, sandy-loam, poor in organic material with good drainage.
    • CLIMATE: Semi-arid coastal climate influenced by the Rapel River and Pacific Ocean.

The winemaker for these two red wines is Marcio Ramírez, who had a degree in Enology from the Universidad de Chile. Marcio joined Concha y Toro in 1997. From 1998 to 2000, he worked with Enrique Tirado, at the Puente Alto winery. He was the assistant winemaker for Don Melchor, and then he moved to the Cachapoal winery in the Rapel Valley. Today, he’s now their head winemaker.

  • 2014 Gran Reserva Serie Riberas Carmenere
    • FLAVORS:
      • This wine is deliciously rich on the nose, the black fruit flavors are typically Chilean, with touches of pepper spice and delicate violets linger with this wine. When I think of Carmenere wine as a variety, I now think Chile. This is  thanks to Concha y Toro. They’ve defined it for me.
    • ORIGIN: Peumo Vineyard North bank of the Cachapoal River.
    • SOIL: Deep, clay loam soils.
    • CLIMATE:  Mediterranean with a long dry season whose warm daytime temperatures,  especially in spring and autumn, are moderated by the influence of the nearby Cachapoal River and Lake Rapel.
  • 2014 Gran Reserva Serie Riberas Cabernet Sauvignon
    • FLAVORS:
      • A very savory Cabernet, this wine is a full-bodied, muscular Cabernet. Get ready for tons of black fruit and enough tannins to go really well with your favorite cut of beef. Get meats with lots of marbleized grains of fat, and it will be a smooth ride.
      • It has a great tannic structure, and will age well, if that’s what you’d like to do with it.
    • The grapes for this wine come from the Palo Santo Vineyard, on the south bank of the Tinguiririca River.
    • SOIL: Red clay of granitic origin.
    • CLIMATE: Mediterranean with a long dry season where the influence of the Tinguiririca River and coastal breezes moderate temperatures.