Books,Education,Photographers,Wine,Wine Blogger,Wine Writer

The Essence of Wine

First of all, I have to apologize to Alder Yarrow of Vinography, regarding his book called The Essence of Wine. When he asked if I’d read it, I was ready. Then, Dharma stood me on my head and it’s taken from September 5 until now to get back onto my feet. Life does that… All the while remembering that I really wanted to read Alder’s book. He’s a great writer and I wanted to know his “story.”

In January 2012. Alder began a collaboration between food photographer Leigh Beisch and art director and stylist Sara Slavin. The combined thing was to focus on and celebrate some of the singular flavors and aromas found in wine. It has become a perfect trinity of talent, from what began as a popular focus on Alder’s Vinography blog. It’s now an amazing body of work.

Right away, while reading his introduction, he piqued my curiosity…

Alder Yarrow: Wine’s ability to transmute simple sugars into the complexities that give us such pleasure represents the closest thing to alchemy I know. I can still recall the first time I smelled chocolate in my glass, or when I learned about and then tasted garrigue, the herbal underbrush of Provence that scents many a bottle of the region’s wine.

Not having tasted wines from Provence, but knowing that this is where I’d like to visit in France, I’m invested. What is garrique? I remember the day that my exchange student from Paris brought with her and gave to me Herbs de Provence. Ah…

Back into Alder’s book I went

Alder writes as a great educator, leading his readers down a path to wine enlightenment. The accompanying photography by Leigh Beisch is wonderfully vivid. As a parallel, Alder’s words are just as rapturous.  I dare you to not get emotionally involve in his book. Let’s take an example:


Few flavors speak so fully of summer as the delightfully juicy sweetness of peaches. Long prized for their sensuous skin and delicate flavors, and revered for the vitality shown by blossoms that emerge before the tree has leaves, the fruit was the natural food of Chinese deities for millennia, each bite guaranteeing the gods their continued immortality. Carried back along the Silk Road, peaches later flourished in Persia, where enterprising princes likely first bred the fuzz right off their backs. Peaches, nectarines and apricots, with flavors ranging from delicate rose petal to tangy, almost citrus sweetness, can be evoked by some of the world’s most compelling wines.

Alder also delivers history in a way that’s fun… not dry, even if the wine is.

Passion fruit

The fruit takes its name from the vine on which it grows. But no matter how sensual the fruit or however beautiful its blossoms, the missionaries who named the vine had something else entirely in mind. The complicated flower’s anatomy conveniently facilitated mnemonics for the Passion of Christ—10 petals for faithful apostles (sorry Peter and Judas), three stigmas for three nails on the cross, five anthers for five wounds before death, and a halo of radial filaments to represent the crown of thorns.

No more quoting here. You’ve been enticed enough and now you need to get your own copy. This book deserves to be in any serious wine library, along side the best authors of wine. Adler has done a magnificent job with his book The Essence of Wine. Alder Yarrow has perfectly captured the spirit of wine, for both your wine education and your enjoyment.

He’ll take you though a garden’s essence, to share the flavors that are also associated with wine; from herbs to spices, to vegetables and  honey… to dried meats and chocolate… No flavors seems to have escaped his palate, including flaws in wine.

It’s a must read; I cherish Alder Yarrow’s words, and I’m betting that you will, too. It’s a extremely exceptional body of work.

To purchase The Essence of Wine, visit this link on Vinography.


California,Environment,Paso Robles,Viticulture,Wine

Harvard… Hum… Brodiaea, Inc.

Harvard University, by any other name in wine country, is now called Brodiaea, Inc.

When Harvard gets involved, we’re just off the normal beaten path. It’s been my experience that the learning curve is very long and steep for this industry. Investors want their profits today.

The old adage of, “If you want to make a small fortune in the wine industry, start with a big one,” is now going to play itself out.  Let’s see who, among the investors, is in it for the long haul. It could be very interesting: who falls away quickly, who does it slowly, and who rises to the top. Cream does that, right? And then we’ll see if it’s sustainable. Perhaps whomever it was that started this corporation is already in the business, and convinced others to join him or her as a great investment. This would guarantee some success, because that person could eventually be the last one standing.

A vineyard belonging to Brodiaea Inc. is owned by the Harvard endowment fund, and is located in Shandon, California. There’s something fascinating going on in Shandon… a small sleepy town and one that I’ve never heard of before now.

Visit this page for full details at www.city-data.com for Shandon, California:

Estimated median house or condo value in 2012: $188,028 (it was $111,400 in 2000) in Shandon, CA.

In 12 years, this town of 1,290 people has had a population growth of +31.3 percent.

More interesting stats:

Males: 755 (58.3%) ~ Females: 540 (41.7%)

Median resident age: 30.6 years ~ California median age: 32.1 years

The Harvard company bought land in 2012. Now look at the figures above, again.

Robert Mondavi did this group buying maneuver very successfully, when his family got into a riff and threw him out.

It was about Robert and his first wife Margaret being invited to the White House, and they bought a small fur jacket for her. The family didn’t know that they had a savings, and so he was accused of embezzling from his family. His mother sided with his brother, and that ended his family ties. It’s all in his book, Harvests of Joy: How the Good Life Became Great Business.

Mondavi got friends to help him begin Robert Mondavi Winery. I know of another person who had this same method of operation… Convince his friends, also with fortunes, to invest in his hobby of 300 cases a year, and call it a winery. They’re now all financial vintners, with the exception of the one, who didn’t have a large enough fortune.

Having worked with so many people from such diverse backgrounds, this one is going to be a really interesting one to watch.

When the Harvard plan was launched, it was called Brodiaea, INC. …like a Bro idea, or Bro (d) International Atomic Energy Agency. I wonder if either scenario is how they came to their name…  Only they have that history as we all wonder.

In a Reuters story, written by Richard Valdmanis, on January 22, 2015, entitled “Harvard buys up water rights in drought-hit wine country”

The investment, which began as a bet on the grape market, has turned into a smart water play as the wells boosted the value of its land in the up-and-coming wine region of Paso Robles. But it has also raised questions about the role of big investors in agriculture in the midst of a water crisis.

The real story here is the buying up of water rights from a group of people coming from Boston. I love Boston, having a great grandfather who founded it, I’m from Maine (and the Boston area in the summers). I also have Harvard legacy in my family history. So, there’s nothing wrong with Boston, in my opinion; however, buying up water rights from California farmers? Hum…

According to a story in Reuters, Harvard has become one of the biggest grape growers in the Paso Robles area of California. This investing in this area of California coincidentally began with the onset of our recent drought. They’ve secured drilling rights for 16 water wells. They’re planing on going down from 700 to 900 feet. This is much deeper than residential wells by two to three times (county records). When shallow wells dry up, these investors are going to be just fine.

Will these deeper wells take water away from the more shallow ones? Most probably… The residents could be in trouble, from these Eastern Invaders.

Returning to Richard Valdmanis’s words:

The company got permits for seven 800-foot wells on Aug. 21, 2013, six days before a ban on new pumping from the hardest-hit part of the basin took effect, according to previously unreported data from the records.

The Harvard Investment Fund is a very serious operation, where a return on an investment is critical for its success. Jane Mendillo lead the endowment until December 2014. Now, insider Stephen Blyth has replaced her. From Harvard Management Company:

Stephen Blyth became President and Chief Executive Officer of HMC on January 1, 2015. Previously, he held the title of Managing Director and Head of Public Markets for HMC. He is also Professor of the Practice of Statistics at Harvard University…

Dr. Blyth earned a PhD in statistics from Harvard University and an MA in mathematics with first class honors from Christ’s College, Cambridge University. After graduation from Harvard, Dr. Blyth was a lecturer in the Department of Mathematics at Imperial College London. His book, An Introduction to Quantitative Finance, was published by Oxford University Press in November 2013.

 This is nobody’s hobby of passion, with the exception of money being a passion. Let’s see how it plays out.

About Brodiaea, Inc

A Foreign Stock business incorporated in California, USA on June 22, 2012. Their business is recorded as Active. It is not part of a group. The company was incorporated 3 years ago.

Business Type

Foreign Stock
Company Status

Incorporation date

Last statement

Business Address and mailing address:

800 Boylston Street, Prudential Tower
MA 02199-3600

Agent: C T Corporation System *** W Seventh Street, Los Angeles, CA *****



Wine,Wine Blogger,Wine Business

SEO and wine blog pitches – beware

When I get pitched about things that surpass my HyperText Markup Language (HTML) 101 class, I turn to Jose. I know there are a lot of things that take down my blog, because I’ve had so many crashes. The good news for me is my IT person is living with me, and goes into immediate “fix” mode. Not everyone – most people, in fact – are as fortunate as I am.

So, with this latest “pitch” below, and ones like them , the first cautionary note is that this person gave me no company name.

His E-Mail arrived, and for once I saved it for a blog post, instead of my automatic delete. I wanted to know if all of this content is now true and the most current… Not that I need anyone to do any of this for me. Jose handles all of the technicalities on the back end of my blog. But could the following be really true about the evolution of SEO? Check it out, first, then I’ll give you the answers we need to know about your own wine blog SEO decisions:

Hi There,

Greetings for the day!

SEO is dead as we know it. The old math of increased back links and stuffing keywords is now a target for Google to identify your site and bury it in the search results.

SEO is no longer a math problem, it’s a human one. Social indicators are becoming key to Ranking and link algorithms have become ineffective. It’s about time you to see the truth about SEO and adjust accordingly.

We have modified and improvised on more contemporary ways of getting results for our clients and now we provide the following solutions for your websites success in the online market.

  • Social Media Marketing (Facebook,Twitter,Youtube etc.
  • Online Reputation Management
  • Panda & Penguin Updates Recovery
  • Unnatural Links Removal
  • Local Listing Plans
  • Video Marketing plans

As we can see that Google is becoming more personalized day by day, we focus more on getting local results for you. No more traditional activities.

Jose said this second part below is for real

because it’s normal SEO help for anyone needing it

The Email continues:

Following are some of the activities that we focus on, now

  • Local Classified Submissions
  • Unique Articles
  • Creation of Web 2.0 Properties
  • Unique “how to Articles”
  • Creation of Face book Pages
  • Twitter channels
  • YouTube channel creation
  • Google plus profile
  • Focus on likes, shares, tweets, reedits, and +1 in order to get
  • natural back links
  • Anchor text diversity (will not use exact keywords for back links).
  • Blogs for the website
  • Meta tags/Title tag changes
  • Heading tag changes
  • Alt tag  changes
  • Interlinking wherever required.


Really? You can do all of that for me? This would mean that I can stop blogging and pay someone else to write my journal, and provide the stories that have accumulated over the last 22 years as my history and content? It’s a miracle!

Continues: Some of these and a few more still remain the same but the importance of most of it has changed with time. We have changed accordingly and can provide you great assistance in your Online Marketing.

Sounds interesting? Feel free to email us or alternatively you can provide me your SKYPE, Phone no so we can discuss with you more.

What Jose had to say about this, fellow bloggers

It’s really all about what you want. There’s a lot of bad stuff out there behind the scenes that can hurt your blog, and it’s trickery.

I’ve had a few comments inserted, where the company listed paid someone to comment – versus something real. Now, the “new person” from another SEO company wants me to delete it. This is so the company that’s hired him/her will help to get a better ranking. They want me to become their SEO clean sweeper, because he can’t get into my back end to clean up what was done before they were hired. Frankly, I didn’t put it there and no one is paying me for any of my blog time, including backtracking from earlier mistakes by other people they’ve hired. It’s a mess… So, if I have time, I might do it. But, the language also has a lot to do with whether or not I’ll help. Threatening me, as some have, puts them into a low priority list.

Jose’s advice: If you need SEO help, look up the company querying you to see if it’s credible, first and foremost. Someone with no company name in the pitch is suspect for the following… This person will be behind the scenes on your blog, and may dump a lot of nefarious stuff into it, unbeknownst to you. Basically taking over your site’s content for marketing and potential sales for another client of theirs, and you wouldn’t even know it.

FORBES ARTICLE: 4 Tips For Hiring The Right SEO Firm

This #3 is exactly what Jose said to me about this topic, and is written by Joshua Steimle for the Forbes like above (in the title).

Get case studies and references. The #1 question you want answered from an SEO firm is “Are you going to help me get my job done?” When you go climbing in the Himalayas you want an experienced Sherpa. Without being able to see the future, the best way an SEO firm can answer this question is to show you that they’ve gotten the job done for other clients just like you. If you run a self storage company, and you talk to an SEO firm that has done work with 10 other self storage companies, and they’ve all had good results, then that’s a reasonably good predictor they’ll be successful working with your company. If your company is unique and you need a generalist SEO firm rather than one that focuses exclusively on your industry, get case studies and references from SEO firms that have at least done work for clients with similar business models and similar “jobs to be done” as yours.

If you’ve got a blog, hiring an SEO company for all of the benefits that will supposedly be provided, might be like hitting a mosquito with a bazooka.

Buyer beware…


Wine,Wine Blogger,Wine Business,Wine Writer

What some of today’s digital writers are being paid these days

Web 2.0 launched; it opened the flood gates to digital writers.

The playing field became a time lapsed frenzy on the field, like at the end of a Super Bowl.

So many writers, almost free talent, if publishers are willing to switch off history for a while.

That crashed many of those traditional jobs for now.

Many of those who kept their jobs felt some seismic activity.

Meanwhile, the Web took off, and cream – like always – rose to the top.

But, prices are nowhere near any middle ground for salaries again, for a long, long time.

So, I get this following Email, and it gave me pause…



Warm greetings to you!

I am Little Miss Muffet [I made up the name] and I’m a marketing executive of Techie Connectie [also imagined]. We represent clients from the travel, sports, home, food and music industry.

We are running a content-based campaign. The goal is to provide you an article that adds value to your site and its readers. Our writers can create an article based on a topic of your choosing. It will also have a reference to our client.

We are also willing to add a $100 fee. This can be renewed annually, with the option of providing you another quality piece of content every year.

Blah, blah, blah,

Kind Regards,

Miss Muffet


Marketing Executive


“About 500 words, we give you a link for $100/year.” They paid someone $50 for the story, if that person was lucky. Bada bing, bada bang… Everyone’s happy.


Digital Writing still doesn’t pay anyone’s real bills.

Publisher writing pays a whole lot more. Few jobs, for those with industry creds and history. Still the cream of the crop is producing, and still in many of those jobs; although, it’s been a bumpy ride.

As much as it’s changed, it’s also stayed the same… There’s just the next generation of writers composing its history, when those words will mean more to everyone.

It kind of reminds me of Woodstock, just another generation’s story.


Public Relations,Wine,Wine Manners,Wine Publicist,Wine Writer

No answer is an answer

No answer is an answer, if you don’t understand that yet. When “no” is an answer, it t can mean several things:

  • The person is on vacation
  • The person isn’t quite sure what to say and needs more time to think about it
  • It’s a “no,” but the person is not even going to get back to you (not courteous, so you’re not losing much)
  • The person needs more info before getting back to you, but doesn’t even have time to address your question
  • Etc. There are tons of reasons not even mentioned here

I just had an instance when I didn’t quite know what to say to someone, who asked a favor of me. I had helped once before and there was no follow-up, once the person got what was needed… After I had spent a day on a project for the person, I had to think hard about how to say “no” this time.

Had the following happened, I might have helped with the next request:

  • Letting me know how my work helped the project to succeed – or not succeed.
    • Not knowing anything left me wondering
    • And, not wanting me to be in a position to help again
  • A courteous “thanks,” once I reached out with the free deliverable, would have let me know that my work had real value

As a friend of mine has recently said,  when we were discussing my not being able to answer someone immediately,

“We get ‘hooked’ emotionally so easily….even after all these years! It helps so much to have a friend who can listen to details but who isn’t ‘hooked’ and can offer a more grounded perspective…. It has taken me years to learn to bide my time before responding, when I feel emotionally hooked….and I STILL get hooked from time to time!”

PR 101

What needs to be considered, when asking for any favor:

  • Have any sense of propriety, courtesy, loyalty, etc. (This was suggested by my friend and is so true.)
  • If you are new to wine PR, or if you’re a new writer asking a favor of a PR person, think about the importance of building a relationships with professional courtesy.
  • History needs to develop with trust and being thankful.
  • Give “credit where credit” is due, once the favor is delivered. It’s still a very important value to have.

No answer is a very important answer. So, if you don’t get an immediate answer, ask yourself, “What could I have done differently in this case?” You’ll get some valuable insight from the spirits on high, if you quietly listen to the intuitive message delivered in the complete and utter silence.


Art in Wine,Event,Wine

Wine Country Artist Erin Hanson is an Impressionist

Artist Erin Hanson is an Impressionist, which happens to be my favorite style of oil…

Long the lover of fine arts, Impressionism is my favorite time in art history; both then and now.  I appreciate how blending strokes come together to masterfully become visual experiences of landscapes. My Jose says this frequently: “Art is anything that elicits an emotion.” He’s right.

Think wine bottle label art…

When I go to Erin Hanson’s Website, I feel vibrancy, sensuality, grandeur, tranquil, purpose, serenity, breath of spring, summer fun, southwestern, and a descending sunset taking away a fun day… all at once, over a period of as many digital slides from her work. I’d love to see a full exhibit of her work, but we’re not in the same space right now. So, I’ll settle on her Website and bring you a snap shot of what you’ll find when you visit her.

Erin Hanson

Erin Hanson is a life-long painter, beginning her study of oil painting at eight years old. As a teenager, she worked in a mural studio creating paintings for restaurants and casinos around the world. A graduate of UC Berkeley, Hanson majored in Bioengineering while continuing to pursue her artistic passion.

Inspired by rock climbing Red Rock Canyon and the southern California desert, Hanson has since spent almost a decade painting the dramatic scenery of Utah, Nevada, Arizona and California. Erin Hanson has created a unique style of her own, bringing elements of classic impressionism together with modern expressionism and adding a dash of “plein-air style.” Her oil paintings stand out in a crowd, bringing a fresh new look to contemporary Western landscapes.

She has an upcoming event.

An Art Exhibition for the Senses Hosted by Malibu Family Wines 

Wine Country in Color: Oil Paintings by Erin Hanson

Los Olivos, California & Malibu, California

Malibu Family Wines just announced a special weekend only showcase of the works of American impressionistic landscape artist, Erin Hanson.  The weekend starts off with an opening reception at the Los Olivos tasting room.  All will enjoy live music and wine while experiencing the lush landscape both in their surroundings and as fiercely reimagined with a wide brush and thick paint.

The weekend continues with an open viewing at the Los Olivos tasting room on Saturday and then a special viewing on Sunday at the Malibu Tasting Room.

Members of the local area art and wine communities are cordially invited as well members of the media and press.

February 20th, Friday, 4pm – 8pm

  • Artist’s Reception
  • Los Olivos Tasting Room
  • 2363 Alamo PIintado Ave~ Los Olivos, CA 93441 ~ 805 688-8105

February 21st, Saturday,  11am – 3pm

  • Artist Showing
  • Los Olivos Tasting Room
  • 2363 Alamo PIintado Ave~ Los Olivos, CA 93441 ~ 805 688-8105

February 22nd, Sunday, 12 – 6pm

  • Artist Showing
  • Malibu Tasting Room
  • 31740 Mulholland HWY ~ Malibu, California 90265 ~ 818 865-0605



The Warner Wine Guide

This E-Mail intrigued me, because in the light of “something new everyday,”  This one was new to me.

And… it was graphic. I’m a visual learner. I can take an image and turn it into my own encyclopedia instantly, instead of reading every word over long periods of time. I get to shoot off and research everything that I’d like to know, in the order that I’m most curious. I enjoy the journey more than the “Are we there, yet?” destination. All while understanding, everything does come in time.

So, the following Email was a total pitch

I hope you are well and had a Happy New Year and a lovely Christmas. My name is Jade and I am contacting you on behalf of Warner Leisure Hotels www.warnerleisurehotels.co.uk

A couple of months ago, I contacted you about a piece of content we had created, The Warner Wine Guide. The guide contained an infographic, which was a beginner’s guide to English and Welsh wines. The main focus of this infographic was to build awareness of what wine to drink with specific foods, wines for your palate, facts, key countries producing wine and the UK’s most notable vineyards. Warner is now looking to develop this infographic, revamp and enhance to create a stronger piece of content and we would love your input. To view the original infographic, please take a look at it here:

We would love to hear your feedback.  We are very interested in your thoughts about the content we have produced to ensure we can create a high quality piece and improve our work. As an expert in the field, do you think we have missed out any crucial information? Do you know any UK vineyards we have missed out that you think are important to include? Do you have any tips for beginners to the wine industry? Anything that you think could improve this piece; we would really appreciate hearing about. Changes will be made and where possible, if you input in improving this piece of content, we will credit you.

I look forward to working with you on this exciting piece

Kind Regards,

Jade Hadden

I curiously had to click on the pdf and what I realized is that I could learn a lot from this one graphic, so it’s worth sharing. I’m giving you the smaller image, so you can see that it’s worth your time and/or interest. Follow to the site for interesting facts like these:

  • There are 448 Commercial Vineyards
  • 89 Hobby vineyard
  • Home grown wine from the UK are known as English of Welsh
  • There are 10 counties that making wine
  • Upcoming events are there for those so inspired to travel to the UK to experience “the moment” of English or Welsh wines.

I have tons of European roots; this could be a very interesting adventure for me. I’ve traced myself back to Charlemagne (I know, so has everyone else with roots from France – I guess he got around), the Kings of Scotland, to the founder of Boston, William Blackstone, to a pioneer who was best known for taming (sorry) the colonies.



Green Valley,Russian River Valley,Sonoma County,Wine,Winemaker,Winery

Associate Winemaker Ed Morris is moving through the ranks at The Rubin Family of Wines

I have the pleasure of working with Ed Morris [left] at The Rubin Family of Wines. This is the latest news:

The Rubin Family of Wines is pleased to announce that Assistant Winemaker Ed Morris has been promoted to Associate Winemaker. Morris will continue to work in partnership with winemaker Joe Freeman, but at a much higher level of involvement and expertise.

On January 5, 2015, Ed was elevated to associate winemaker for The Rubin Family of Wines. Associate Winemaker Ed Morris’s coopering background adds extra value to his role. When needed, he has done some insert installation and some barrel repair. He’s helped to refine the barrel program, by finding the best barrels well-suited to Green Valley of Russian River Valley grapes.

According to Winemaker Joe Freeman, “I’m very excited about Ed’s advancement. Ed will have an increased role in blending, developing new wines, and supporting The Rubin Family of Wines in the marketplace.

Ed Morris comes from a long line of craftsmen: his great-grandfather was a violin builder by trade, his grandfather was a clock maker, and his father is a carpenter. Growing up in the Russian River Valley, and attending high school in Forestville, he planned to attend Santa Rosa Junior College after graduation. A summer job at a custom cooperage, however, changed everything.

Ed began working at ReCoop during the summer of 1999, and never looked back. During his time, he worked with trained master coopers of the first French coopers who had come to California. Ed quickly became infatuated with barrel building. Within three to four years, he was building his own barrels. He set up a shop in his garage, and began manufacturing small barrels for home winemakers, as well as incorporating with ReCoop, in order to officially start a line of smaller barrels.

In 2005, Ed became the production manager, working closely with well-respected winemakers, such as Jeff Hinchcliff at Hanna Winery and Greg La Follette. This allowed him to do some experimental processes on barrels. During this time, Ed was also taking classes at Santa Rosa Junior College and UC Davis, in order to further his wine education. He started making beer at home, and found that he began to experience a personal evolution toward beverage making.

Ed’s cooperage experience is incredibly valuable to the The Rubin Family of Wines winemaking team. In 2010, Ed was hired as a crew member to work in the cellar at River Road Family Vineyards and Winery. In early 2011, Ed became Joe Freeman’s assistant winemaker.

As a native of this area, Ed loves to live and work where he grew up, feeling that this part of California is where his heart is, residing in Sebastopol.

On this promotion, Ed Morris expresses his relationship with Winemaker Joe Freeman. “Joe Freeman and I have a great relationship when it comes to making wine. We both agree that the flavors of the wine should be highlighted over blatant oak flavors. And, that the wine’s flavors are best elevated by early contact with some oak. Sometimes, we’ve even realized the potential of putting certain wines into barrels during fermentation.”


Dry Creek Valley,News,Obituary,PS I Love You,Sonoma County,Wine,Winery

The loss of John Pedroncelli is deeply felt in wine country

John Pedroncelli was one of those quiet leaders; you know them, they’re the most in tune with harmony.

[The Pedroncelli family photo is borrowed from their Website.]

The title read, “John Pedroncelli, prominent Dry Creek winemaker, dies at 89,” and my heart sank… We’ve lost a great one from Dry Creek Valley and from PS I Love You.

From a story written by Bill Swindell of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, we learn the history of the winery, from John’s perspective:

John Pedroncelli, a second-generation vintner who was instrumental in building Sonoma County’s wine industry, particularly in the Dry Creek Valley that he called home for almost all of his life, died Sunday [January 4, 2015] at home after a monthslong battle with cancer. He was 89.

Pedroncelli, along with his brother, Jim, was a key figure in the history of the county’s winemaking as it emerged from a craft business practiced by a few families after World War II to today’s multibillion-dollar industry known worldwide.

He was 2 when his family purchased the winery and moved to Geyserville in 1927. With the exception of serving two years as a radar man in the Coast Guard, Pedroncelli spent almost all of his life around the winery and was a daily fixture up until last year, even providing advice on 2014’s early harvest.

When I began PS I Love You in 2002, the Pedroncellis were right there to support the effort to get more publicity for the variety. Not only did he begin with the first efforts, but he has continued to support what is and has been done to get publicity for the cultivar. But, it’s not just this group that he supports. The Pedroncellis believe in supporting the advocacy groups that need members, in order to help them with their own marketing. These leaders are the gems and jewels of the wine business. Each owner with whom I interface… they give me the encouragement that I need to carry on.

John’s niece Julie is my constant contact, and when we need support, she’s right there. Obviously, her dad Jim and her Uncle John have taught her the importance of business connections and contributions. It’s the history of the winery, via John and brother Jim, that Julie carries through seamlessly.

Bill Swindell also contains a great quote from Honore Comfort:

“He preserved the past while looking ahead to find innovative solutions in a changing winemaking environment… John’s legacy will be his unwavering commitment to the land, to winemaking and to his family which epitomizes the spirit of Sonoma County’s great wine families.”

We’re all going to miss John’s direct involvement; however, his kind heart and business acumen will continue.

It is said that we remain alive as long as one person still thinks about you… John Pedroncelli will remain in my heart through eternity, and I know that Jim and Julie’s families feel the same. We’ve lost the body of a great man and wine leader, but not his enduring spirit…


Poet in wine country

The day Miles learned that we can’t turn back time

Once upon a time, Miles learned that we can’t turn back time.

That day was on January 3, 2015.

It was the first day that Miles heard a timer go off, which had been set to 10 minutes.

Nana had bought a timer for Miles,

So that when Mommy said, “It’s 10 minutes before we have to leave Nana’s,”

Miles would begin to understand how much time he really had left.

Miles arrived at noon on Saturday with mommy and daddy.

This was the day to put Christmas away, one more time.

Daddy have given Nana and Grampy an enormous tree as a Christmas gift,

And Daddy wanted to help them take the tree down, too.

Nana greeted Miles, who said to her, “Nana, I missed you.”

Nana said, “I missed you, too, Miles. And, I love you.” Then she kissed him on the cheek.

Everybody, except for Nana and Miles, left the house.

Mommy and Max went shopping.

Daddy was outside helping Grampy cut up the tree for recycling and to leaf blow.

Miles and Nana were left inside the warm house.

Nana noticed that Miles was really interested in the hip hop music

that Grampy had programmed on the TV, for when

Grampy and Nana took all of the ornaments off their tree.

So, Nana started to dance and invited Miles to join her.

Nana did not know what a great dancer Miles is, as they twirled and hopped

and shuffled and boogied.

Nana used to dance with Miles when he was just a baby.

Nana would gently dance him into sleep. But that was a long time ago.

Miles had great moves, because he – too, like Nana – is a free spirit.

After they danced, they put Miles’s yo-yo together.

Before arriving at Nana’s house,

Miles had gone shopping for a birthday gift for his friend’s birthday party the next day.

While shopping, mommy let Miles have a yo-yo of his own, too.

After putting it together, Nana taught Miles how to play with his yo-yo.

“Step One,” said Nana, as she stomped her foot on the floor

And raised her index finger… The first thing to do is to wind up your yo-yo.

Then, they made it go up and down, and spin around, too.

When Miles was done playing with his yo-yo,

Nana asked Miles, “Would you like apple juice or macaroni and cheese?”

“Apple Juice,” Miles said.

Nana announced, “I’ve got to clean the Christmas tree needles from the floor.

Would you like to help, Miles?”

Nana got out the vacuum cleaner and said, “Step One,”

As she raised her finger index finger and stomped her foot on the floor.

“First we have to turn it on.”

Miles was a big helper, Miles did an excellent job with the vacuum.

He picked up every needle he could find on the floor.

Together, they made the room spotless.

Miles said, “Want to watch a movie?”

Nana said, “Let’s watch PeeWee.” (Miles had never seen PeeWee before.)

Miles said, “I don’t want to watch PeeWee.”

Nana said, “But you’ll love PeeWee, Miles. His house is like Nana’s,

Except everything talks… Your mommy watched PeeWee when she was a little girl.”

Miles did love PeeWee, and yelled with Nana when someone said the “secret word” of the day, “house.”

Then Nana said, “You must be hungry, Miles. Did you have any lunch today?”

Would you like some of Nana’s macaroni and cheese?” Miles said yes.

“…Pleazzzze…” he said.

Nana also gave some apple slices to him, while he waited.

As she got ready to cook macaroni and cheese for Miles,

Grampy came in and announced that Miles’s daddy thought they should all have pizza.

Mommy had just come back from shopping, too.

So, Nana gave Miles more apples slices while everyone waited a short time.

Miles and Nana played with Buddy. This was Miles’s first time playing with Nana’s big cat.

Buddy hadn’t let Miles play with him before.

Pizza arrived and everyone ate together in the kitchen.

After lunch, Mommy told Miles, “We have ten minutes before we have to go back home Miles.”

Miles frowned. Nana knew how sad it is for Miles to say goodbye, so she understood.

Nana said, “Oh, look, I have a timer, Miles.” She set it for a few minutes and made the ringer go off.

She wanted Miles to know what it sounded like. Then, Nana set it for real, at 10 minutes.

Nana said, “Com’mon, Miles, let’s go outside and cut some fresh flowers for the kitchen.”

Off they went, and Miles helped to cut the flowers.

But, they still had some time left, so Miles raked a few leaves.

Then, Nana heard Mommy gently call, “The timer went off.”

The timer was in the house, and they were outside. So, Nana went into the house to get it.

She set it back for a couple more minutes, so Miles could hear it go off.

She brought it to Miles and said, “Only a couple more minutes, Miles, see?”

He raked some more leaves and then heard, “Ding, ding, ding, ding…”

Miles didn’t like the dinging, telling him that time was up,

So he picked up the timer and reset it, again.

Nana gently said in a kind voice, “I’m sorry, Miles, but it’s time to go home today,

So you can come back another day. We had a great time today, didn’t we?”

Miles agreed, sadly though, because he couldn’t turn back time.