Cabernet Sauvignon,Chardonnay,Diaz Communications,Mendocino County,Petite Sirah,Pinot Noir,PS I Love You,Wine,Winemaker,Winery

If you want a Moniker Wine, name it that… Moniker Wines

MONIKER WINE: it’s not brain surgery, people, but look how long it took someone to come up with the actual moniker as a wine brand. Now that it’s out there, the rest of us are all slapping our foreheads.

Leave it to the folks at Mendocino Wine Company, to branch out into the Moniker realm. I remember when I wrote about Petite Sirah being the John Wayne of wine varieties. I put it out to all of the members to use that as branding… And it was branded by the Mendocino Wine Company. (It’s so great when someone is actually paying attention and understands a good idea.)

Owner Tim Thornhill came to an event that I was holding in Orlando at Universal Studios, being put on by the National Pork Board. The members of PS I Love You were pouring their wines to go along with chef’s dishes. It was then that I learned of Tim’s sharp wit and great marketing savvy. Now, his next generation has joined his wine company… Chase Thornhill, his son, has been given Moniker Wines to market, among his other duties, and success will be his. According to Chase, “Moniker wines represent the best of our family, our desire to do right by our land and by our community.”

The Thornhills have really put their best foot forward with Moniker wine.

Moniker Estates winemaker is Mark Beaman. Mark has always had deep connections to land through his passion for agriculture. He grew up in Walla Walla, Washington, and his family members were wheat farmers. What I really like most about Mark is that the did something that I could only imagine (I didn’t have the guts). He joined the Peace Corps, and worked on soil conservation projects in Tanzania. That kind of dedication and empathy is what I’d like to know a winemaker has experienced… where he’s also worked outside of his comfort zone and wine disciplines.

This is a family affair, currently involving three generations of Thornhills… Ann and Tommy Thornhill, Jr. are the grandparent generation, bothers Tim and Tom (the III) are brothers, and their youngest generation involves Kate Thornhill-Beaman and Chase Thornhill. I can appreciate family working together, because my three daughters have all been helping Diaz Communications at one time or another, between mothering and launching other dream careers. When the Thornhills invested Parducci Wine Cellars, Tom will tell you, “We were looking for a community in which we could make a positive impact and bring our family together.”

Of Moniker, Tim is quoted as saying (and I can hear him saying it), “I learned young that when someone told me I should not do something, it did not mean I could not do it. This spirit lead me to do things like move giant trees, saving and preserving enormous living things. This same innovative spirit permeates the family and Moniker.”

These are very classy wines,

from a classic American family

2012 Moniker Chardonnay, Mendocino County ~ Ripe and resplendent, Golden Delicious apples with a bit of toasty almond on the finish… I’m thinking of the Cambodian Glass Noodle dish at Chinos Asian Bistro. Wine and food porn in your mouth… yeah, that delicious.

2012 Moniker Pinot Noir, Mendocino County ~ This is a hearty and rustic Pinot for me, destined for barbeques of the best kind… with Pulled Pork Sliders. The American oak is what gives it that rustic, American-style edge. Its spice is evident and part of its appeal. Still within the 13 percent alcohol, it’s a wine with great depth.

2011 Moniker Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendocino County ~ Lots of tannic backbone, so either lay it down for a while, or use an aerator to give yourself the most enjoyment for its big, opulent flavors of cassis, blackberries, and a hint of cigar box.This is a big, complex wine.

You could also do what a friend of ours used to always do, back in our rock and roll days. Roman Marcinkiewicz, then of MCA Records, who is now at Masciarelli Wine in Florida, would call a restaurant to make a reservation for that evening, and ask the wine steward to open the wine at 10:00 a.m. for our 7:00 p.m. dinner enjoyment. We’d chuckle at Roman at the time… We were all rockers, we didn’t get the “fine wine” thing. Now we’ve joined the ranks and are making the same recommendations, when a wine calls for it. (Thanks, Roman, for leading the way!)

Do yourself a favor and enjoy a little Moniker… Wines with lower alcohol are always pleasant to the palate and always very food friendly.


Books,Cabernet Sauvignon,Wine,Winemaker,Winemaking,Zinfandel

Have you ever thought about Making Your Own Wine at Home?

Making your own wine is done by a lot of home winemakers. And, if you’ve ever thought about making your own wine, right in the comfort of your home, there’s a great new book on the market. Written by Lori Stahl, and published by Fox Chapel Publishing, Making Your Own Wine at Home is a no nonsense book that’s a practical, how-to beginners’ guide. Lori gives us creative recipes for making grape, fruit, and herb wines. From Fox Chapel’s Website…

It’s easier than you think to make wonderful wine at home. Get started today with this practical guide to making your first bottle of perfect homemade wine. Author Lori Stahl demystifies essential winemaking techniques with friendly, jargon-free instructions and gorgeous color photography. She begins by taking you step by step through making wine from a kit, and then shows you how to go beyond the kit with creative additions. Soon you’ll be making your own flavorful wine from fresh grapes, apples, berries, and even flowers and herbs. This home winemaking companion offers a wide selection of seasonal winemaking recipes, new twists on traditional favorites, and sweet ways to enjoy and indulge in the wines you create. Even if you have never made wine before, Making Your Own Wine at Home will show you everything you need to master an intriguing and rewarding new hobby – See more

I brought this book with me on a trip to Colorado to visit my kids. A good read is always fun to do and quickly passes the time on any flight, right?  This book made the time slip away so quickly that when we hit the ground, I didn’t even realize we were landing and had arrived. I didn’t hear any of the, “Please make sure your seatbelt is securely fastened, and your tray table is stowed for landing, and your seat is in an upright position.” No dinging of bells, no seeing flight attendants taking away superfluous materials… nothing. I was completely engrossed, and thinking about how much anyone wanting to make wine would also love this book.

Lori spent two cultivations with Jim and Sandy Whitmyer at their Coopers Hill Farm, based in Lititz, Pennsylvania. This is where she gathered her insights and learned all of the nuances of their wine supply business. This was great background for then going on to write about what she had learned… Images in the book are great, by the way. And, she’s written the book to give others the freedom and confidence to play with winemaking, in a step-by-step easy to understand program. If you’ve been toying with making your own wine, just do it with the help of this book. I don’t think it could be more simple, inspiring, and all-encompassing for anything else I haven’t mentioned, with this new companion guide.

Lori lists how to make the following Vitis vinifera, with the Concord grape being only exception to Vitis vinifera:

  • Zinfandel
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Seyval Blanc
  • Vidal Blanc
  • Riesling
  • Concord (Vitis labrusca, not Vitis vinifera, like the others above)

If you’re on the East Coast, there are markets where you can purchase grapes grown in California and delivered to you. Our Wooden Valley Winery client from Suisun Valley (another client) has been shipping grapes to the East Coast for years, and has been very successful. There are many home winemakers who bow to the altar of Wooden Valley, and I understand why. These are amazing grapes being shipped off to help those who don’t live out here to actualize their dreams.

Okay, herb wine is a new concept to me, but I do smell a great holistic brew happening here. We’re in the month of October, right? Could be the season of the…

SIDEBAR: My great grandfather John Clarke, who immigrated from Scotland in the 1670s, was in Salem during the witch trials. There’s no mention of his name in any of the history books on Salem’s trials. If I had been born during that time, I would have altered that part of history as being one more of the women who were free spirits and tinkering with herbs, as I do today. If I had had this book’s knowledge back then, I would have been burned at the stake for making herb wine… Oh, yeah.


GMO,Wine,Wine Blogger,Wine Business

Nine years of wine blogging, should I have just written a book?

I’m reflecting on nine years of wine blogging this morning… having started just about this time nine years ago, in terms of thinking I should, and then getting Jose to build a site for me. I’ve had about four wine blog sites in the process. In 2005, I eagerly waited to write that first story, as Jose set up my blog.  It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that my first story was about Petite Sirah. I simply called it, “What is Petite Sirah.” All of it is still true, with most of it still being misunderstood. I just saw a wine writer of major impact write about “Petite syrah,” as he called it.

Do wine writers really read press releases?

I’ve written 500 of 2,100 stories with Petite Sirah mentioned, if not completely about Petite, while wine blogging.

[Image of Weather Report from the Allmusic.com Website, with photo credit for Sam Emerson.]

Jose told a story to me, when we first met, and I still remember most details of it.

The Time

Jose was at Bowdoin College and had an interview set up (independent study program) with saxophonist Wayne Shorter, in Marblehead, Massachusetts, at Lenny’s On The Turnpike. Some of you, like Cyril Penn, may remember Wayne from his days of launching Weather Report. I’ve long looked for this saying’s credit being given to Wayne; but, in a conversation this morning with Jose, he told me that Wayne simply said this to him in passing. It’s not a saying that has had major impact with anyone beyond Jose and/or me, that we know of… But it’s a powerful statement. Jose didn’t think so this morning, when I told him that it’s a very impactful statement. He thought that it was sort of light and breezy, I guess, but I told him that it’s not been something he’s ever forgotten from that interview. Also, I’ve heard him say this to others at least 100 times, since we’ve been together (1976).

It’s not he who comes on strongest. It’s he who lasts longest.

I would say that that’s my claim to fame… I’ve just been here since the early beginning of Web 2.0. I’m definitely not the strongest voice; but by virtue of tenacity, I’m one of the longest. I’ve had very little impact with the masses, because I’m not trying to build an audience. I’m simply writing a journal about being a wine publicist, being in this business, and the things that impact me from day to day… If you’re reading this, you’re reading my diary… period.

Mostly, what I get is that I’m one of the ones who has currently lasted longest. I don’t have a single focus. I write about anything I darn well please… In fact, wine blogging is all about my personal freedom. Words just come, versus a writing assignment where I have to watch my tone, the words I chose, and/or will a client approve of it or tear it all apart.

I had one client once who said to me, after my first press release was written for him, which I thought was pretty darn good, “This is the worst writing I’ve ever seen.” Needless to say, this client only lasted a few of months; a great relief to us both, I’d say.

I’ve also had a couple of commenters on my blog tell me how stupid I am. I know my IQ and choose not to prove what my intelligence quotient is… or is not, so it rolls off my back.

The difference between both circumstances?

  1. Clients pay me, I have to care.
  2. Commenters don’t pay me, I could give a flying rat’s patutie.
    • I also find some amusement in those who decide to deride me.
    • They may get my goat (for a short time frame), but they don’t get my mind.

That’s the charm of wine blogging… We’re able to write and we’re not accountable to anyone… no clients, no deadlines, no assignments… and judgments are subjective, which I remind myself to not take personally. They impact nothing, except that they allow someone to vent. (Public service)

I have an ongoing debate with one person, who actually thought he’d never read my blog again, but keeps coming back to it… And I’m actually finding myself beginning to like the guy. We just had this exchange. I’ve gone to look him up, because initially one asks oneself, “Who is his guy, anyway.” Turns out that he’s had a pretty interesting life. Here’s the exchange, demonstrating how fascinating for me that comments through feedback also are, as part of blogging:

It has to do with my ranting about genetically modified organisms, which I really don’t want to see happening to grape vines. He thinks that it would be great, if they could “cure” Pierce’s disease, for instance. I say, find a natural, existing way… (I believe when I studied viticulture, we talked about companion planting… but, it’s been a while.)


And coffee is ten times more carcinogenic than glyphosate. The same International agency tells us our cell phones cause cancer. Dr Bruce Ames, who created the carcinogenicity test, the Ames Test, is quite clear that 50% of all substances he tested, both synthetic and naturally occurring, are carcinogenic. Let’s put this in context. I am still using my cell phone. And glyphosate is still helping reduce greenhouse gases by reducing tillage and fossil fuel use and increasing yields.

My Answer:

Dear John,

We have to stop meeting like this… Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

I thought of you the other day when I read something to the following effect, paraphrasing: For every professional opinion that you’ll find on one side of an issue, you will also find as many professional opinions from the opposing side.

I’ve stopped drinking coffee for the reason you’ve stated (not easy to do, because there’s an entire culture that goes along with that decision). I only use my cell phone for that very reason you’ve stated (frustrating my family to no end, because more than half of the time my battery is dead, with my husband reminding me, “I hope you never NEED your phone”). It’s very easy for me to not use. I like my time away from client needs and wants, because I work hard and long hours. The increasing yield thing? It’s proving otherwise and time will win/prove the battle.

When I put it into context, too, I see an entire generation being experimented upon. This, for me, is the most frightening and unconscionable part of this entire GMO experiment. You and I are never going to come into agreement on this. I do, however, enjoy your popping up for time to time, to create the other side of the coin. Both sides of the issue are equally important, I grant you that.

Yeah, nine years later, wine blogging is still interesting and my current hobby. I wonder what the next one will be? I was once a model and I was once a dancer. I once played the piano (not very well, but for a long time). I once was a very prolific clothing designer/seamstress (successfully), and I was once a very prolific knitter. I once worked with sisal and jute, creating baskets, and I was also a potter. Now, it’s writing. I’ve dreamed of painting… could it be that, when wine blogging has run its course?


Food & Wine,Petite Sirah

Melting Pot Cooking: Joyce Goldstein and Petite Sirah

Renowned chef and cookbook author Joyce Goldstein excitedly applauds the new food craze of “melting pot cooking” and her experiments with Petite Sirah.

“Petite is a niche variety perfectly matched for this cuisine,” stated Goldstein at the Tenth Annual Petite Sirah Symposium. Concannon Vineyard, the first winery in the world to varietally label Petite Sirah, hosted this annual event for years, with Foppiano Vineyards having initiated it in 2002. I was the program director for all of the symposiums.

Each year it was designed to educate winemakers on how best to craft their Petite Sirahs and to also offer ways to entice chefs and consumers to become fans of this intriguing wine.

Darrell Corti of Corti Brothers in Sacramento recently said of Petite Sirah:

October 03, 2014
“Feast Q&A: Darrell Corti talks farm-to-fork and ‘Legends of Wine’ event”
Sacramento Bee
Chris Macias
How about a red grape varietal that signifies the Sacramento area? Petite sirah. How could this have happened? Petite sirah sells incredibly better than syrah and it wasn’t supposed to be like that. Petite sirah almost became extinct in California. It can be dense, inky and thick and unappealing. Curiously, in areas where people have (success) with it, like Clarksburg, the wine is not like that. There’s a certain lightness to the wine. I think the producers started looking at this wine [via the symposiums], which was used primarily for blending, and it was terrific for giving color, and realized it needs a lighter hand in making it.

What better way to educate winemakers and marketers about what pairs well with Petite Sirah, than to bring in someone with Joyce Goldstein’s credentials? A consultant to the restaurant and food industries, Joyce excels in recipe development, menu design, and staff training. She improves existing recipes, adds new ones to complement the menu, and works with a culinary staff to refine flavors and successful execution.

“Petite is ‘the’ consummate wine match for these new recipes,” was heard over and over again… Food, food, food… Flavor, flavor, flavor… Petite, Petite, Petite. “All the flavors that are in these dishes are the same exact flavors that describe your wines.” Hitch your pony to this star, was Goldstein’s basic assessment, and you’ll be well on your way. “Petite Sirah is not shy,” she explained. It has a lot of bigger and fruitier flavors, and she noticed some smoke with it. “I love to play with foods that have some smoky elements.” The clues, according to Goldstein, are for winemakers to look for these same spices in their wines that are also in food dishes with the same components; like clove, peppercorn, ginger, five spice powder, cumin, cocoa, currants, and cinnamon. The flavors that are in Petite Sirah are also in these melting pot dishes. She offered a plethora of dishes, while winemakers wrote feverishly.

Melting pot cooking is a craze that’s borne from multicultural diversity. It’s a phenomenon from a new generation of chefs who are experimenting with their families’ traditional recipes, and playing with flavors that are fun and creative by introducing alternative, ethnic twists. “Korean tacos are a great example,” stated Goldstein, at the symposium.

Another example of melting pot cooking is Concannon Vineyard’s Petite Sirah paired with a Cuban beef stew – Ropa Vieja – with California fusion. Petite Sirah braised flank steak with ground cumin and peppercorns among other spices and tasty ingredients, meld together perfectly with tomato sauce and beef broth in a slow cooker. (Full recipe available on www.ConcannonVineyard.com).

Winemakers learned that multiculturalism has become so dominant today that we’re seeing recipes pop up which we’d never expect to see. And, they’re all just begging for a wine that’s so completely diverse. What could be better than an immigrant wine that’s also multicultural: Persian derivation, European cross-fertilization (Syrah and Peloursin), and an American transplant?

This parallel is a perfect voyage describing not only Melting Pot Cooking, but also Petite Sirah. Joyce Goldstein’s message was “claim it and you’ll own it.”

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Napa Valley Wine Academy, from near and afar, you too, can learn more about wine

The Napa Valley Wine Academy wants you to immerse yourself in the exciting world of food and wine in the heart of wine country. While their courses are taught at some of Napa Valley’s best wineries, they’re also located in Tampa, Florida, and you can take courses online.

After having immersed my own self in the last 22 years, I understand the excitement that goes along with the wine business; and, as my daughter Melanie just pointed out to me, this business is also loaded with drama. I hadn’t thought about the drama part, but I certainly got it, as soon as she mentioned it.  I’ve been writing stories ever since I got here, and “not writing the worst of them,” said she, shaking her head. (Juicy Tales unplugged would get me into deep trouble… perhaps a novel would be in the offing, though.)

More information from the Napa Valley Wine Academy if you’re not familiar and you’re interested in your dramatic moments.

CSW – Certified Specialist of Wine Program: Our intensive test prep program is intended to give CSW Candidates the advantage of personalized instruction and a comprehensive understanding of the exam material. Our students gain a solid understanding of the world of wine that will help them progress in their drinks career, as well as become part of a network of wine professionals.

Upcoming Napa Valley Courses

  • November 5-8, 2014
  • February 18-21, 2015

Level 1: WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) Award in Wine – Intro to Wine is a  great way to jump start your career in wine. This class provides a basic introduction to the main styles of wines available today.  Level 1 is ideal for those who want to learn more for either personal knowledge, or to boost wine confidence.

Upcoming Napa Valley Courses

  • Saturday, October 11th, 2014
  • Saturday, November 15, 2014
  • Saturday, December 13th, 2014
  • Saturday, January 10th, 2015

Upcoming Tampa, Florida Courses

  • Sunday, October 19th, 2014
  • Sunday, November 9th, 2014
  • Sunday, December 7th, 2014

Level 2: WSET Award in Wine & Spirits – Intermediate. This course covers the key grape varieties grown and the different styles of wine produced around the world as well as the production of spirits and liqueurs.  During class, students will be taken through a guided tasting of wines and taught the WSET®  systematic approach to tasting wine.

Upcoming Napa Valley Courses

  • October 22-24, 2014
  • November 22-23 & 29, 2014
  • January 17-18, 2015

Upcoming Tampa, Florida Courses

  • October 25-26th, 2014
  • November 15-16th, 2014
  • December 13-14th, 2014

Level 3: WSET Award in Wine & Spirits –  Advanced. This course provides a more in-depth and comprehensive look at the world of wines and spirits with an intense focus on systematically and professionally tasting wines. It covers the major grapes and wine styles produced around the world, including what influences the style and quality of these wines and the prices procured for them. A guided tasting of 60+ different wines –still, sparkling, and fortified- in class over the course of 4-5 days.

Upcoming Napa Valley Courses

  • October 18-19 & 25-26, 2014
  • December 6-7 & 13-14, 2014
  • January 21-24, 2015





Astrological Signs With Their Astrological Wines

Astrological Signs With Their Astrological Wines is something that I’ve pondered a bit. What sign matches which sign…

For the lunar eclipse, here’s what I have to offer…

I was born on a lunar eclipse. According to the astrology that I studied (as a side interest) for 10 years, people born on a lunar eclipse are pretty intense, with the opposite sex of that person being attracted to lunar child. Those who know me would probably say that the intense is pretty true, regardless of astrology.

Here’s my take on today, with the blood moon having just happened. Expect the day to be, well, a bit… luny…

Astrological Signs

Aries (Fire sign — pioneer) Pinot Grigio: Pinot Grigio is the popular Italian version of the well known French Pinot Gris, and is a wonderful new beginning for those just starting to develop their interest in wine. This wine parallels perfectly with Aries, as Aries is the entry sign.

Taurus (Earth sign — tenacious) Syrah: Known for its earthy tendencies, Syrah delivers a solid Rhone varietal that keeps developing its following in the new world of wine; however, it has been persistently serving the French for centuries.

Gemini (Air sign — intellectual twin) Zinfandel: The astrological twin has two distinct sides. So does Zinfandel. White Zinfandel (with slightly sweet flavors of strawberry) has brought many people joyfully into the wine world. For most of us, this is an entry point, not the be-all-to-end-all. And the other side of the twin is Zinfandel in its natural, red grape form, offering flavors of blackberries and a pepper spice.

Cancer (Water sign — sensitive, emotional nurturer — Darrell’s moon placement) Sauvignon Blanc: Sauvignon Blanc is a noble Bordeaux varietal. And, as Darrell used to remind us when any planet was in Cancer, Cancer and Sauvignon Blanc are not to be confused with emotions being reflective of someone or something out of control. Rather, anything related to Cancer was controlled and motherly, something austere and nurturing.

Leo (Fire sign — party animal) Champagne: Fun and bubbly, it’s party time. Who doesn’t love bubbles and a party? Whenever we associate a grand gathering, it’s always kicked off with Champagne and/or sparkling wine, and leads into more enjoyment.

Virgo (Earth sign — analyzer) Pinot Noir: At its worst (all signs have “at their best” and “at their worst” tendencies), this is the fussiest grape to grow. Upon deliverance, however, this wine (like all the Virgos in the world) gives us great pleasure. It can range from the most delicates of red with flavors of plum to flavors of bold, dark red cherries. It’s because a winemaker took the time to analyze where he wanted to go with this wine that we get to taste the best expression in its delivery.

Libra (Air sign — judge) Riesling: Find a diner who’s willing to pay over $100 for a bottle of this aromatic, floral discovery, and you’ll find superbly well-balanced wine that will become more of a conversation piece that focuses completely and utterly on the wine, than a subtle experience that’s in the background when conversation turns to the weather.

Scorpio (Water sign — detective) Petite Sirah: This take-no-prisoners varietal is as dark and brooding as the sign. Scorpio is known for always getting you back, so watch that you don’t spill a drop of this wine on your white shirt, or that shirt will be stung by it’s color pigment forever. This is the biggest and baddest of all wines! Loaded with lots of color, flavor, textures, and aromas, Petite Sirah is for the most intense among us.

Sagittarius (Fire sign — jester) Rose: This is a wine that is (like the sign) a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. A rose can be any red wine on a superficial level, never truly achieving what it would have been, had it stayed the course to full varietal intensity that is offered by deeply developing on the vine, and being used accordingly. And yet, who doesn’t love a clown, and what would we do without a bit of frivolity in the world?

Capricorn (Earth sign – banker) Bordeaux: This Cabernet blend is always one that you can bank on for flavor, longevity, and building its monetary cache as it ages. The most money spent on any wine in purchases is for the Bordeaux… You can bank on it!

Aquarius (Air sign – humanitarian) Merlot: What other varietal gives it all up to others? Merlot gives it up to Cab, as its original intent was to be blended into Cabernet, so Cab could shine. It’s had its day in the US as a varietal, but that trend is moving toward Syrah and Pinot Noir, while still holding its position for being a prominent, blending component for Bordeaux, in Cab’s shadow.

Pisces (Water sign – magician) Chardonnay: The one white wine in the US that flooded the market has many different takes on how it presents itself, and fools many among us with its trickery. Is it malolactic fermented, is it neutral barrels that have ML present from past fermentations that we taste, or is it stainless steel for six months, then into barrels, neutral or otherwise? It’s magic.

And remember, as Darrell Martinie, the Cosmic Muffin,” was famous for saying, “It’s a wise person who rules the stars, and it’s a fool who’s ruled by them…Over and out!”


Marketing,Public Relations,Wine

Trending PR, is this the way of the future or just a guise?

I got to thinking about an Email exchange that I had last week, and couldn’t help but ask myself if this was trending PR or not.

I’m going to just share the exchange and you be the judge.

INCOMING EMAIL: Editor Deadline: Need Holiday Recipes

Hi Jo,

My name is Bob and I’m with Family Stories (I’ve changed the names), a syndicated content provider specializing in the creation and distribution of lightly branded food content for newspapers, magazines and digital outlets.

Due to editorial demand, we’re currently on deadline for holiday food section stories and are looking for brand/product recipes to fill some editorial gaps. While there is no guarantee of placement, there is also no cost to you. Because there is strong interest in holiday recipe content for food sections, competition for these spots is high and decisions will be editorially-based.

If selected, you would earn millions of impressions and hundreds of high-quality placements in media outlets across the country.

To submit a recipe for consideration and learn more about how you can get guaranteed nationwide coverage, click here.

Here’s an example of one of our co-op branded recipe stories:

Okay, it looked good, and while it was outside of my day’s workload, which meant I would have to really hustle. I looked up the Website and found the above image… Grass Roots Marketing? Is grass roots marketing the new trending PR? I wanted more information.


Hi, Bob

Regarding “we’re currently on deadline,” do you have an end date? It takes time to put something like this together, when it’s an initial query and I wasn’t preparing for this new way to get content for a digital marketing company.

This is not to say that I can’t help, but I have so many project deadlines already before me that I need a specific date, before I can begin anything new.


INCOMING EMAIL with a red !

Hey Jo,

No worries. We are doing a “Free” Holiday Round-Up (Gift Guide and Recipe Round-Up) – see attached.

This is just to reach out and gain interest levels on clients. We have had over 100 submissions- so we are closing this down to review all products and begin the best layout and spec. no guarantees to anyone on being picked.

We are however selling spots on these Round-Ups. We are doing several of these types of Holiday Recipes/Gifts guides due to popular demand.

$3,500 per spot

These do come with minimum guarantees, deliverables, placements and impressions.

Deadline to purchase a spot and materials would be Oct. 24th.


Reel ‘em in boys… within the first Email arriving at 8:33, my response by 2:58 p.m., just six and a half hours later, 100 recipes flooded his inbox; but only for you and a few others, we’ve reserved $3,500 placement spots. (Their website states $5,000 for the placement.)

Okay, I get it. I didn’t respond. Only $3,500 to become part of a story in whatever publications I can’t even imagine. Good money, if you can get it in this world of continuing to evolve PR options, which are really marketing guises.

On their Website, which is still tempting people into submitting for “free?”:

Want Guaranteed Recipe Coverage?
Secure a guaranteed spot in one of our co-op, holiday-themed food section stories for $5,000 per brand/product recipe. (Promotional offers may be available.) Contact your Account Manager or sales@familystories.com for more details.

Do you have any idea how much time it takes to set up a photo shoot, which also includes the costs of shooting?

Oh, please and no thank you…


China,Wine,Wine Writer

Robert Parker is slowly fading into the sunset

Robert Parker is slowly fading into the sunset… Yeah, right!  And, I mean… right…. but wait to find out what I mean…

Once upon a time, I was raised on Sabattus Lake in the summers of my youth. I remember watching sunsets across a lake that is five miles long and one mile wide… I was watching the sun go down, just one short mile from where I would sit on the beach. I remember the aromas of the water and the water plants, the sound of the lapping lake against the shoreline, and the shimmer of light that played upon the water. I got to wondering and I asked my mother, “Mom, where is the sun going when it goes down behind the hill over there?”

She answered, “China.”

In my finite wisdom, I thought to myself, “Wow, all I have to do is cross the lake and go to the other side of the hill.”

Pretty easy, huh? I might have been five or six at the time.

Today, I got to thinking about something I recently heard, “Robert Parker is fading into the sunset.”

And I thought, how right you are, right into China.

Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown show on China… “China bought two billion bottles of red wine last year. Bordeaux is now looking at China to set their prices.”

I immediately though of my youth and realized what a great title and story this would be… Robert Parker is slowly fading into the sunset, when you realize that he has Chinese partners, you just have to get it. The people of China are enthralled with Robert Parker. Unlike our culture, which is so willing to also throw out our elders (not just the babies) with the bath water, the Chinese culture is a reverse of ours. It has long revered its elders; i.e., those who have come before them, for their knowledge, dignity, and connections.

So, it’s very appropriate that this was his next move to expand his writer base and join forces with a huge emerging wine population. In this regard, Robert Parker saw the opportunity as an early adopter of the Chinese wine market.

Any of my professional dealings with Mr. Parker (20+ years) have left me feeling really great about the man who rose to prominence with his tasting reviews. Granted, all reviews are subjective to the person’s palate; but, his was good enough to have him reach a pinnacle that very few others have even come close to. It’s entirely possible that with social media Robert Parker’s seat will never be replaced, in fact, I think it won’t.

Example: There are many vintners in the world. Some we remember, some we don’t. However, if I said Robert Mondavi, you’d know that he cannot be compared to anyone else.

If you don’t believe that Robert Parker has grand respect, go over the hill, into the sunset, and mention Robert Parker. There’s an entirely new country enamored with the man, where the sunset now also rises…


Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah®,Dark & Delicious™,Event,Food & Wine,Petite Sirah,PS I Love You,Wine,Wine Business,Wine tasting,Winemaker,Winery,Zinfandel

Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah® returns on February 20, 2015

About the ® in Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah®… It’s the Ninth Annual!

←   This image to the left,  is NOT a PS I LOVE YOU event.

←  This one is a case of registration infringement.

←  If other entities didn’t decide that Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah ® events would be way cool and groovy to host, and they do, we wouldn’t have had to register our name.

←  I just decided to go looking again; and sure enough, they’re continuing to happen, as recently as June 14, 2014. This means that I had to write the dreaded “Cease and Desist” message.  I don’t enjoy having to do it, but imagine if someone other than ZAP (say) decided to have a ZAP Zinfandel tasting. We all know this would be wrong, so we just don’t do it. Why – upon why – do people think that a Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah ® event is even permissible, when we’re not involved.?

I’ve blanked out the winery and winemaker’s name. The problem is that our fans think that we’re doing an event, and we’re not, when people infringe on our years of hard work, marketing efforts.

The REAL Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah ®

returns on February 20, 2015 at Rock Wall once again

More details will be following about Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah ® 2015. For now, the following wineries have committed to joining us all again for our next event:

Artezin Wines Fulcrum Wines *
Ballentine Vineyards Gustafson Family Vineyards
Berryessa Gap Vineyards Harney Lane
Bogle Vineyards Klinker Brick Winery *
Carol Shelton Wines * Michael David Winery
Clayhouse Wines Mendocino Wine Company
David Fulton Winery Page Mill Winery
Delectus Winery Robert Biale Vineyards
Denier~Handal Vineyards Rock Wall Wine Company
Don Sebastiani & Sons Stanton Vineyards
F. Teldeschi Winery Twisted Oak Winery
Fenestra Winery Venteux Vineyards *
Field Stone Winery Wilson Vineyards
Foppiano Vineyards New Winery *

If you’re a winery and want to sign up, just visit this link to sign up and join our Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah ® crew.

To Register Click Here


Argentina,Food & Wine,Sonoma County,Wine

“The Bounty of the County” known to Sonoma

Since arriving in Sonoma County, I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard or read, “The Bounty of the County.” It’s just way too many times to even calculate; it’s a lifestyle, not a slogan.

This Sonoma County lifestyle is not just about wine, either. Although grape growing is a primary industry, and immediately comes to mind when you hear “Sonoma County,” there are pockets in Sonoma County where our food supply is also very important. For instance, when you drive up Highway 101 from the south, or if you travel down the freeway from further north, when you hit Petaluma, there’s no doubt that there’s our dairy capital. Your nose knows. Along with that one are all of the chicken farmers in Petaluma… Dairy and eggs are a staple. (I buy my freshly laid eggs from a neighbor less than a half a mile from where we live, in suburbia, no less.)

Sebastopol is our salad bowl, in many respects. The first Farmers’ market experience of my life was in Sebastopol, long before I moved out here. I had a scheduled visit to California, to see if I could live here. The first place I was taken for a meal was Chinatown. Enough said? In our travels, we ended up in Sebastopol.

  • Upon arrival in Sacramento, we immediately drove from Sacramento to Chinatown and stayed in San Francisco overnight.
  • The next day, we drove to Santa Rosa, stayed overnight, and drove around Sebastopol, Healdsburg, and Napa.
  • Then, we went back to Sacramento, stayed there overnight and met with Jose’s bosses from the Fuller-Jeffrey Group.
  • Next we drove to Lake Tahoe for an overnight, and went to Chico the next day.
  • Our final destination was to travel from Chico down to Monterey (overnight), Carmel, and Santa Cruz (overnight); all in the course of six days.

I got more than a snapshot of the opportunities that were going to exist for us. In all truth, it was Sonoma County that was at the heart of California’s quality fruits and vegetables being grown. Here, there’s a sense of Mother Earth and living sustainably. It’s not a feel for chemical fertilizers to boost productivity, or insecticides as a way to battle Mother Nature. I’m not saying that this is Organicland, by any stretch of the imagination. What I am saying is that there is more social consciousness in this area, so it does exist in a more abundant nature.

This is greatly to my liking. I came to the right place, of all of the options that were set before me. Luther Burbank had a lot to do with this way of life. This horticulturist came from Massachusetts, as are some of my roots. From the Luther Burbank Website:

Striving to pioneer new and better plants, Burbank used techniques such as grafting and hybridization to introduce more than 800 varieties. One of his first successes was the Burbank potato, a disease-resistant cultivar. A later variation, the Russet Burbank, became the potato most commonly used for making french fries.

So, the Bounty of the County comes out a lot, as I said. Recently, Jose and I were having dinner with one of our dearest friends Corinne Reichel. She’s native to California, so she knows the ins and outs of her area. She’s greatly enriched the quality of our lives, since meeting her and working with her at Belvedere Winery in our early arrival days. Jose and I have joined the Vineyard Club [above], at her invitation. We were just there yesterday with our grandchildren, celebrating a birthday. Our grandchildren are having the same advantage that I had, my children had, and now my children’s children are having… A waterhole to visit for picnics and swimming and playing…

Corinne lives in that area, on the edge of a mountainside. A solar lap pool is hers for the swimming, as well as her lovely home. Jose and I went there for dinner a few nights ago. We had a swim first, then the three of us created our dinner. It was such beautiful representation of the Bounty of the County that it inspired me to write about it as a way of life. It’s very Mediterranean in feel… It is what it is.

Dinner, which came from us all, and then some… This food was so simple that it might be hard to imagine how delicious it all was, because it wasn’t dripping with sauces from all over the place. The original flavors were not disguised in anything but their own juices, representing the bounty…

  • When in the Healdsburg area, Big John’s Market is where we buy organic pork tenderloin. This was our protein, and Jose is always on the grill cooking up something delicious.
  • Corinne added fresh figs that had fallen from a nearby tree, wrapped in prosciutto, and also grilled.
  • I made a salad with organic veggies, with the cucumbers coming from our garden, tomatoes coming from Corinne’s garden, and newly picked, juicy peaches from her tree…
  • Zucchini was grilled to perfection, also from her garden.
  • A corn salad was given to us by her friends Darryl and Carol from the night before with organic corn. (Have you tried buying organic corn this season? It doesn’t seem to exist, as it’s now all genetically modified. So, this was my first corn in 2014.)
  • The cheese cake was purchased at Big John’s. (This specialty food story is locally owned and operated. Just yesterday I was thanking the owner – a husband and wife team – for being there and I didn’t know what we’d do without her store.)

The Wine was an import, and that’s the fun part of it all. Even though we’re surrounded by wine in Sonoma County, we’re also surrounded by people who market wines for sale, and they come from all over the world. Having access to world class wines from other regions expands our horizons, and also lets us know how lucky we truly are in the process.

  • 2013 Adelante Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina
  • The cooler climate Malbec was simply delicious. With typical notes of blueberry and blackberry, the figs especially were a delicious food and wine pairing.  Jose’s grilled pork was also very deliciously paired with the wine.
  • What totally dumb stuck my palate was that I also very much enjoyed the wine with my salad. This was how I started my meal, so I wasn’t going to wait to enjoy the wine until I had my entree. I had, however, used a really delicious olive oil and that oil and vinegar combination didn’t interrupt the flavors. In fact, it was enhanced. (I’ve come to abhor salad dressings with all of the added chemicals and dried this-and-that flavors… So, it’s always oil and vinegar for me… Simple and the most delicious)
  • This Adelante Malbec is touted by its growers, and I will attest to it, as pure Malbec. There was structure, the fruit was in total balance, and the touch oak aging contributed that lovely spice that we adore in a great wine.
  • The Bounty of the County was pure magic.

There are so many options in this area of ours, that if you’re not enjoying a local wine, you’ll be enjoying what a friend of yours has left behind for you to try. In this case, it’s our friend Darryl Miller, of D.A. Miller Brand Building. The meal seamlessly came together… all ingredients in some way contributing to the Bounty of the County from life in the wine zone…