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Wine,Wine Writer

Laura Ness ~ Wine Writer #25 ~ A Santa Cruz Gem

Laura Ness writes for many wine publications, including AppellationAmerica.com, Vine Times, and Vineyard & Winery Management. A longtime resident of the Santa Cruz Mountains, she enjoys writing about wines of character and the characters who make them… And, she’s quite a character herself. The saying “takes one to know one” is alive and well in Laura’s world.

I’ve known about Laura for what now seems like a long time, admiring her work from afar. Inviting Laura to the Petite Sirah symposium as one of our media guests just brought us a lot closer together. She attended the entire symposium, and I couldn’t help but thinking throughout the symposium that Laura is one of the hardest working, most copious note taking writers I’ve ever met, and was so impressed.

The day after the symposium, Laura’s story was published. This happened with Clark Smith and Ken Payton, too. I was astounded, because they left the symposium late in the afternoon… In fact, when Jose and I piled out of there – as the last ones – Laura’s jacket, purse, and papers were still at her spot at the conference table. We knew we were leaving her behind… Lost somewhere in Concannon’s winery. “Perhaps she’s with Jim Concannon,” I thought as we left the building.

By early morning, her story on the symposium was written and published: Petite-o-Files Gather in Livermore for 7th Annual Symposium. “My gahd, there she is!”  I thought. I’ve long thought of that name, never able to write it as the director of the group, having to be more a cautious writer… Entrusted with an advocacy group. Laura’s got no ties, and she just put it right out there. I loved that she was such a free spirit, and showed such a great sense of humor. (Can anyone say, “Santa Cruz Mountains enough?” It’s freedom-loving land in them thar hills.)

Back to Laura… thinking about her in the Santa Cruz Mountains. (Marking this journal historically about the August 2009 Santa Cruz’s fires burning just before harvest. Smoky grapes. Just a forethought.)

Then, she came up with a totally new one for this blog, and I thought, “My gahd… she’s been bitten by the PS I Love You bug! She’s one of us now.” She’s called it…

Pet Rocks

What a great title! I had to get into it immediately. I couldn’t resist its temptation. Tomorrow, I’ll publish that one for you. This entry is for the original intent; an introduction to Laura Ness.

We did a Q&A, and the following is about Ms. Ness.

[Q] Many wine writers also have a day job. If wine isn’t your job, what is and for whom?

[A] Marketing consulting and PR for wineries, so wine is my day job, too!

[Q] When did you start writing about wine?

[A] 1989 when I named a company after CALERA, and became besotted with Pinot Noir. Suddenly, the marketing materials got a lot more interesting.

[Q] What prompted you to start writing about wine?

[A] In addition to the above, I started formally writing about wine for trade and consumer publications in 2000 when I moved to Bear Creek Road, one mile from David Bruce Winery (all my neighbors worked for them at the time). I got totally hooked on the industry and what a ride it is!

[Q] What aspect(s) of wine do you most enjoy covering?

[A] Getting to know hands-on winemakers and how their personalities are uniquely and utterly reflected in the wines they make. I also love describing wine and its unique personality. It’s alive!

[Q] How has your job changed since you’ve started?

[A] Many, many more subjects to cover and fewer print outlets. The lack of value placed on real journalism and creative writing.

[Q] What’s the most memorable wine you’ve ever tasted?

[A] A Saumur in the town of Saumur, France, in 1979. Followed by a Sancerre, and a Chinon in Avignon. A magical pairing of taste with place. The finest indelible memory there is.

[Q] What’s your favorite variety?

[A] Pinot Noir, closely followed by Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc; I believe blends, however, are the most interesting and are the truest expression of a winemaker’s artistry.

[Q] Do you believe that there are better quality, lower priced wines today, than in past vintages?

[A] Indeed. From every region on the planet.

[Q] What’s your favorite innovation in the wine industry over the past few years?

[A] Screwcaps for aromatic whites. Twist and shout!

[Q] What’s your favorite food and wine pairing?

[A] Whatever I just made for dinner, or whatever I am about to make. I think Champagne and Boulder potato chips are a delight!

[Q] What are your interests outside of the wine business?

[A] Auto racing, gardening, cooking, hiking, traveling, daydreaming and reading//writing poetry

[Q] Who inspires you (wine business or outside of it, doesn’t matter)?

[A] So many, living and otherwise! Hillary Clinton (I’m a Wellesley Grad), Maria Shriver, Stewart Udall, Edward Abbey, Henry D. Thoreau, Ralph W. Emerson, Teddy Roosevelt, John Muir, Tony Hillerman

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