If you want the truth, ask a consultant, like D. A. Miller

I’m usually brutally honest, because lying is abhorrent to me. I think it ended when I stopped going to confession. As a small child, I’d have to make up lies; so I’d have something to discuss with the priest, who then would bless me.

“Dear Father, please forgive me, because I did this, I did that, and I did the other. “

I’d make up three lies, and then at the end of it I’d say,” And, I lied three times.” I’d be off the hook and out the door, shaking my head because of what the church had made me do… As hard as the truth may be sometimes, and it can be very hard, the truth is always easier. You get to move on and not spin a terrible web.

So then, I get clients and think, “Yahoo… the days of having my bosses get totally bent out of shape with me, because I wouldn’t stoke their egos, is over!”

Yeah, right… Not. There are clients who are only used to working with employees; and then with a consultant they carry it over to, “Me doctor, you nurse.”

“Hold on, Buddy, if I go tell Wine Spectator that Wine Enthusiast just wrote about you, it’s just wrong and my reputation for knowing what I’m doing is on the line. Sorry, not on my watch.”

Along comes my friend Darryl Miller, who seems to be cut from the same cloth, and that’s probably why I’ve adored him all of these years. Even Darryl’s friends are quick to say, “If you don’t want to hear the truth, don’t ask Darryl.”

Darryl Miller and I met when I was selling wine for the Hambrecht Wine Group (Belvedere and Grove Street wineries). Darryl was working with the Henry Wine Group, and was a great ally… besides being a funny guy. We clicked, and still get to see each other occasionally, as friends. We just met with my friend Corrine Reichel (Respite Wines), Darryl, his friend Karen (who works at Murphy Goode), and my Jose over dinner.

After many years of working with the Henry Wine Group, Darryl is back to working as a consulting brand builder. I highly recommend Darryl, if you’ve got a family owned and operated brand, and you need a great position for it within the over cluttered brands now on shelves. No one knows the market place better than someone who has been implementing sales for the last 30 years, and that would be Darryl.

When you hire a consultant, you not only get that person’s expertise and years of experience; you also gain access to that person’s relationships. If this profile fits your needs, and you want to fast forward your brand, consider Darryl…

From his bio for D.A. Miller… [T] 707-422-1882

Darryl’s a fine wine brand builder in strategic planning, brand positioning, and marketing. He understands how to position a fine wine brand for long term success, by growing volumes and building quality distribution. After working with the Henry Wine Group (HWG) for 16 years, Darryl recently started his own wine marketing business to help producers of fine wine—including start-ups, evolving and established wineries—achieve greater branding recognition.

This is not the first time Darryl has worked as an independent brand builder. From 1981-1995, his wine brokerage business covered all of Northern California, from the Golden Gate Bridge to the northern border, also including the Central Valley. He grew his company to 2.5 million in sales dollars, with 18 product lines and six sales people, before selling it to the Henry Wine Group in 1995.

Subsequent to selling to the HWG, a family-owned California-based company, Darryl ran the Northern California region as sales manager, supervising 12-14 salespeople. After three years of building brands in the territory, he went in-house and became part of the company’s brand management team as a portfolio manager. In this capacity, he furthered his expertise in all aspects of brand building, from fiscal management and budgets to market segments, logistics, margins, press, point of sale and strategic planning. He managed $28 million in sales portfolios.

One of the most important things he learned was the ability to analyze what people expect and need in terms of building their products into successful brands. The number and variety of products allowed him to see many different market aspects, mainly in California, but also nationally and internationally. Darryl managed portfolios for such high-profile brands as Shafer and Saintsbury in Napa Valley. In addition, he also managed import portfolios for Vineyard Brands, Eric Soloman, and Kermit Lynch, adding even more depth to his expertise.

His more than 35-year career in fine wine began when he moved to Seattle, after serving in the air force and attending Humboldt State College. He worked as a waiter, and then a wine steward at a high-end French restaurant, while selling wine for a wholesaler during the day. After his wine and food epiphany, when he realized this was his life calling, Darryl began to educate himself on all aspects of wine and food.

In 1976, he moved back to the Bay Area and worked for Ed Everett’s Wine Action in San Francisco as a sales representative, while still working at night in restaurant service. He moved to Sonoma County in 1980, and worked as a wine steward at the original John Ash restaurant in Santa Rosa. This is where he met many of his future clients, making lasting professional relationships. He obtained his broker’s license in 1981 and started his own brokerage business. His first client was Davis Bynum, and the second was Iron Horse.

With his broad background, Darryl is now on his own, brand building for small, family-owned wineries.





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Bordeaux,Cabernet Franc,Cabernet Sauvignon,Carménère,Education,Merlot,Wine

My Story for Passion of Wine ~ Partie deux

Bordeaux Wine Grape Varieties

[Cabernet Sauvignon leaf. Photo credit: Jo Diaz]

It’s marvelous to hear people defend genetically modified plants as “it’s been happening in the wine world since forever.” This is a teachable moment. As I explore the world of Bordeaux this year, having received my inspiration from Millesima Cie, what I’m learning I’ll also be sharing.

Before I get into the grape varieties that are represented in a Bordeaux wine, let’s explore the difference between cross pollination and genetic modification.  It’s important to Bordeaux’ grape variety history that this is clarified. And, if we can reduce this concept to its lowest common denominator, we’ll be learning at the best possible level, creating a solid foundation.

Cross pollination: Cross pollination creates a new variety. This occurs in the transfer of pollen from the male reproductive organ of one plant, to the female reproductive organ of another plant. Insects and wind are agents of cross-pollination. In horticulture, people also do the dusting of pollen; however, the DNA does not pick up substances that are foreign to its original DNA makeup.

Example: Syrah (male) + Peloursin (female) = Petite Sirah… the son of Syrah. (Not a distant cousin, which I read over and over again. As an educator, it’s a failed moment. I reach out and correct people, and they either love me or hate me in that moment. After 14 years of representing Petite Sirah as the founding executive director of PS I Love You, I know that I’ve been assigned that duty. I’ve become the world’s go-to-girl for this grape variety’s facts and figures.)

Genetic modification: Genetic engineering (or modification) is a set of technologies used in the process of manually adding new DNA to an organism. The goal is to add one or more new traits that are not already found in that organism, creating what is considered improved or novel organisms.

Example: From GMO Awareness, and remember, cross pollination does not cause any disruptions to the health of anything. “A June 2011 report assembled by an international team of scientists revealed that studies done as early as the 1980s by biotech and ag-industry corporations (including Monsanto) all showed that Roundup’s active ingredient glyphosate causes birth defects in laboratory animals… again, at very low exposures.” Click on the link above for more details.

[Cabernet Franc leaf. Photo credit: Jo Diaz]

So, back to Bordeaux… Now that you know about Cross Pollination

As some of you may already know, the Bordeaux wine grape varieties are the following:

  • Red
    • Cabernet Sauvignon
      • Cross pollinated: Cabernet Franc  + Sauvignon Blanc = Cabernet Sauvignon
    • Cabernet Franc
    • Merlot
    • Petit Verdot
    • Malbec
    • Carménère
  •  White
    • Sauvignon Blanc
    • Sémillon
    • Muscadelle
    • Other permitted grape varieties
      • Sauvignon Gris
      • Ugni Blanc
      • Colombard
      • Merlot Blanc
      • Ondenc
      • Mauzac

History of Cabernet Sauvignon ~ A Magic Moment in Time

[Merlot leaf. Photo credit: Jo Diaz]

Hundreds of years ago, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc cross pollinated. This happened in the southwest of France, creating a new variety… Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1996, U.C. Davis researchers examined the variety’s DNA makeup. This was when Cabernet Saugivnon’s grape lineage was revealed.  Will we ever know if it was horticultural dabbling or the result of serendipity? Probably not, as there doesn’t seem to be an historical documentation of a deliberate crossing. What we do know is that it did happen in France; so God bless the French, they rightfully own this variety.

A Beverage Fit for The Gods and Scholars

The variety is first mentioned in the late 1700s in Gironde, France, and is theorized that Cabernet Sauvignon originated somewhere in this region. Originally, it was thought that Cabernet Sauvignon was an ancient grape native to France. It was even fantasized that Roman Scholar Pliny the Elder (born 23 AD) was enjoying this variety. Nope, not so. This was proven, by DNA matching.

Legend now has it that Cardinal Richelieu’s fields of Cabernet Franc cross-pollinated the fields of Sauvignon Blanc near the Abbey of Bourgueil. And, this gave birth to Bordeaux’s most noble variety. Ah… the winds of time. Little did anyone know that these parents were giving birth to what is today considered to be the King of red wine grapes; no longer only fit for the Gods, but for all of mankind throughout the world.

[Sauvignon Blanc leaf. Photo credit: Jo Diaz]

Red Bordeaux Blend

The Red Bordeaux of France is made from blending Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot together (along with other of the above Bordeaux varieties in varying degrees of components, if used at all). Proportion of each does depend on the regions of Bordeaux where the winery is located. The Gironde estuary (mentioned above) goes right through the center of this region, and naturally creates two banks: a left and a right bank. The winery’s location on either side of the bank determines the proportion of Cabernet to Merlot of each wine.

  • Left Bank of the River, the blends have more Cabernet Sauvignon than Merlot.
  • Right Bank of the river, the blends have more Merlot than Cabernet Sauvignon.

Therefore, the general characteristics of each bank’s Red Bordeaux wines:

  • Left Bank ~ Higher in acidity, tannins, and alcohol. They’re rich, powerful wines, which age well. This is the region that made Bordeaux wines famous.
  • Right Bank ~ Lower in acidity, tannins and alcohol. They’re softer, more irreproachable, and less tannic; so, they don’t age as well as Left Bank Bordeaux.  Merlot is the dominant grape, so they’re juicier, and ready to be enjoyed sooner than their Left Bank counterpart wines. They’re also more affordable.


[Photo is a purchased image: Copyright ~ Konstantin Kalishko]

Left Bank Wine Companies

Connecting you to Millesima Cie’s products, for a few price comparisons

[Photo: Night view of the right bank of the Garonne Riverand Eglise Saint-Louis des Chartrons, Bordeaux, France, Copyright ~ Rostislav Ageev]

Right Bank Wine Companies

Connecting you to Millesima Cie’s products, for a few price comparisons

I haven’t even scratched the surface here. That I’m very certain of… But, as I look at a 1,089 word count, I know it’s time to move on for now.

Next “Partie trois” is going to be about Cabernet Franc. I once put a presentation together for a boss about Cabernet Franc and sent him on the road to deliver this knowledge. It was the most fun I had had with this wine company. He wanted to hang his winery hat on Merlot. At the time, everyone was doing that. I suggested that since they grew so much Cabernet Franc, and it was really a very flavorful variety, he reconsider his focus. Today, the delivery of Cabernet Franc’s history is still flourishing with this company. It’s gratifying to know that I left something useful behind; and I’ve also had something very useful that I can revisit, as I explore more about Bordeaux.




Ecology,Education,Entertainment,Environment,Event,Wine,Wine Country

Earth Day Celebrations at Safari West in Wine Country

Coming to wine country, or live here? What are you doing on Earth day?

Safari West is cordially inviting you to celebrate Earth Day with them on Friday, April 22nd. Earth Day is the day that they traditionally set aside to honor the bountiful planet we all call home. In my humble opinion, there’s no better place to meet the animals that inhabit our planet than right here on the Sonoma Serengeti.

Safari West is a 400-acre private wildlife preserve located in Sonoma County, California. The crew at Safari Went knows, much better than most, that animals and our earth are priceless. Peter and Nancy Lang founded the preserve in 1993, on an oak-studded hillside, northeast of Santa Rosa (on the Mark West Springs Road).

Their selection of wildlife emphasizes species that are native to Africa. The animals include giraffes, rhinoceros, many different varieties of deer, cheetahs, and a large assortment of bird species. The park engages in breeding programs through other zoos and park programs, in order to keep the gene pool healthy for these species. Sadly for all of our children and grandchildren, the park is also home to species that are considered to be extinct in the wild. The park is one of only six accredited private zoos in the United States… all on 400 acres.

This year on Earth Day the lawn in front of their Amani Oasis aviary will be transformed into a Dynamics of Spring display, where the “miraculous change of winter to spring” will be on full show. Between their exhibits and the hands-on explorations, it’s going to be an adventure in learning for both kids and adults.

Alongside our lawn of learning, we’ll have safari treks departing every 45 minutes on our Nairobi minibus, and we’ll show off the amazing ways that the change from winter to spring effects Safari West. 

Spring is a time of courtship so expect to see our animals frolicking and playing about and to see our newest three young giraffes.

A special BBQ lunch will be served

from 12:00 noon to 2:30 p.m..

11:30 AM Package – Nairobi Trek departs at 12:30 PM

12:00 PM Package – Nairobi Trek departs at 1:15 PM

12:30 PM Package – Nairobi Trek departs at 2:00 PM

1:00 PM Package – Nairobi Trek departs at 2:45 PM

Book Now ~ Click Here for Fun!

“Since its opening in 1993, we have always strived to pursue conservation goals. We believe that the animals in our collection can act as flagships and that when we emphasize their struggles what we’re really doing is drawing attention to the broader problems of the ecosystem and conservation. That truth is, it doesn’t matter how hard we work to save an animal if the place they call home is destroyed.”

Can you think of a more down to earth Earth Day Celebration for children and their families?


Astrology,Wine,Wine Astrology

Astrological Signs With Astrological Wines

Astrological Signs With Astrological Wines, for some of us, the truths are self evident and tons of fun…  For the lunar eclipse tomorrow, 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 the lunar person. Those who know me would probably say that the intense descriptor is pretty true, regardless of astrology.

See for yourself…

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 is a solid Rhone variety 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 delicate for red 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 variety 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 its 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) Rosé: This is a wine that is (like the sign) a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. A rosé 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 variety 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 variety, 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!”



Blinders by Michael Amon ~ The most fun read in a very long time

In fact, I can’t remember ever devouring a book this quickly. And, even if I hadn’t been flying, for some time off, I still would have put everything non-urgent aside and just read through it. Michael Amon’s debut book Blinders is a must read, if you love to be captivated by the first sentence onward… Simple, easy, no frills, “Trilby saw her before she saw him.”

Blinders, if you don’t know, are people who taste wine blindly, and then go on to name 1) wine grape variety, 2) year produced, and 3) wine brand producer. The ideal of sommeliers, then imagine a bumpkin in a pumpkin patch. Now, you’re on your way to an exuberantly lively and amusing great time.

Pomposity is a strange bedfellow, isn’t it? I’ve quietly enjoyed it for a long time. In fact, once I had realized how much of it exists in the world of wine, I wrote Road Warrior Survival Guide. It’s a story that reveals all of the kookie behaviors I’ve witnessed on the road, most especially, at wine events. Originally published in Wine Business Monthly, my favorite tidbit is this one:

Mrs. I Think I Know So Much, but I’m Proving I Know So little ~ This overly dressed woman, reeking of perfume,  stepped up to the bar, once upon a time. She looked at me, by slightly cocking while dropping her head a tad to the right, so she could see over her glasses and said, “I’ll have your Cab Saaaauv.” She was also tapping on the tasting menu, tap tap tap, with a red manicured, pointy index fingernail. Oooo, “So sophisticated, and me just a barmaid,” I thought to myself. I turned my back to get the bottle of wine, because I didn’t want her to see me giggling, then straight-facedly turned back to her and poured the wine Cabernet, keeping my composure.

Now, picture this person as part of an audience, bidding on those who are going to blind taste a perfect score of 24, and you’re seeing a background element of this story… but it’s not the audience who’s revealed in Michael Amon’s adventure… I’m setting up an obscure backdrop, which adds a flavor of deliciousness to Michael’s Amon’s book. Without the audience, there would be no Blinders; Supply and Demand, being what it is…

Blinders… Twists and turn I could see coming (as how I would write something like this); however, the twist at the end is masterfully executed and totally shocked me… as intended, I would imagine.

Kirkus Reviews: “Debut novelist Amon brings plenty of Pulp-Fiction-style punch to this rollicking story of wine-snob grifters.”

Yeah, I’m not the only one to see this as an excellent read. Love a great book? Got a wine library of the wine-book kind, or know someone with a great wine book library? Run, don’t walk to your favorite book store. Better yet, go on line and buy it with a rush order placement. You’re in for a skillfully written ride.




Friday Funny ~ The bottle of Wine

I’d like to thank Claire Cyr, a high school friend of mine, still living and thriving in Maine. She sent this to me, knowing that I love a good story. I know that you do, too. And, happy April Fool’s Day!


For all of you who are married, were married, wish you were married, or wish you were not married, this is something to smile about the next time you see a bottle of wine.

Fred was driving home from one of his business trips, in Northern Arizona, when he saw an elderly Navajo man walking on the side of the road. As the trip was a long and quiet one, he stopped the car and asked the Navajo man if he would like a ride.

With a silent nod of thanks, the Indian got into the car.

Resuming the journey, Fred tried – in vain – to make a bit of small talk with the Navajo man.  The old man just sat silently, looking intently at everything he saw, studying every little detail, until he noticed a brown bag on the seat next to Fred.

“What in bag?” asked the old man.

Fred looked down at the brown bag and said:  “It’s a bottle of wine.  I got it for my wife.”

The Navajo man was silent for another moment or two.  Then, speaking with the quiet wisdom of an elder, he said: “Good trade!”


I'll Drink to That,Wine

Favorite Memories ~ Over a Glass of Wine With You

James Brown and Studio 54

It was what it was, and I had no idea what Studio 54 was at the time. Nor did I know about the joy for so many others of being put on the short list of who gets in. While in rock and roll radio, I was on everyone’s list, and it was just business as usual. I was in New York City, attending The New Music Seminar, with Jose, my partner in life. It was held at the “just opened” Marriott Marquis in Time Square. At the end of this workday, break dancers had preformed, and I thought to myself, “Boy, would I love to dance with them!”

I studied dance until I was well into my teens, including break dance moves… like the moon walk, people, in the very early 60s.

Then, we had to leave and go to dinner. As I was walking toward the exiting the turnstile, I realized I recognized the person about to enter the building. Having photographed everyone from Brian Adams to Tina Turner, Aerosmith to ZZ Top backstage et al, I wasn’t star stuck that it was James Brown about to give up his sectional to me. Still, our eyes locked, which gave me away as having recognized him. We passed each other, still locked in eye contact, and he threw out his classic “Huh,” in that usual guttural voice. I just laughed out loud and took my space in the turnstile.

Jose and I went off to dinner with record company reps, and then headed to Studio 54. There was a buzz about where we were headed, but what did I care? It was just business as usual.

When we arrived, there were the break dancers, again, ripping up the place. I was on fire wanting to dance now, and when the dance floor opened up, I threw myself into rythmic bliss. The same guy that inspired my thought of, “Boy, would I love to dance with them!” came right to me; there we were, dancing like fools… At the end of that dance and as the next hit came on, Jose said, “Let’s go,” and we left… leaving my dancing heart right on the dance floor. If I wasn’t crazy mad in love with Jose, he would have lost me that night. (It’s okay, if there wasn’t a night that he was crazy in love with me, too, – before this night in NYC – I could have lost Jose at the Cars debut concert in Boston.)

High School and Football

I had one of those moments as a senior in high school. I overhead some of the guys talking football. I had been keeping stats the entire season, glued to the NFL and the AFL, and checking the standing each Monday morning, in our local newspaper. Someone said something that was just wrong, so I corrected him. He shot back at me, “Oh, Clarke, what do you know about football?” I ripped through him with a five minute answer, stating all of the statistics, including who was in the lead and why, along with players for the year, then simply walked away. A few weeks later, when the team got their football charms for the year as the state champs, one of the guys offered his football to me. I respectfully declined. It was hockey and a hockey star that really had stolen my heart at that time, from an opposing school.

Teaching in the 60s

Once, very long ago and very far away, in a private school in Bangor, Maine. I had 100 students. One day, I was given a student who was deaf. I was also given a card with the alphabet, by another student, on the Friday before she arrived. That was the day I was told that on Monday, a deaf student would be arriving. I was really concerned. How was I going to teach “sternocleidomastoidius muscle of the neck” to a deaf student, I was thinking out loud? One of my student’s had a deaf family member, so she had an extra card. On Monday, when Patty arrived, I signed “hi” to her. We spent the next three days just learning sign… The 100 students and I were all signing, and Patty was beaming… She was integrated. I left the school before Patty did. She signed to me, “You are the best teacher I have ever had.” She was the best lesson I ever had. I can still teach it pretty quickly to anyone.

Watching the ice on Allen Pond go out

Writing to Liudas Guzas on Facebook, when inspired by this photo called “Waiting:”

“Once, when I lived on a lake, I, too, waited. I was told that when the ice goes out, the lake sighs in a mournful way. So, I waited. And then it came… Thunk, thud. I ran to the lake, took off my shoes and socks and waded in, to be the first visitor of the season. I got to my knees and said to myself, “Oh crap.” I turned and lumbered back to the shore. Once out of the frigid water, a burst of adrenalin coursed through my body; and I ran, and I ran, and I ran the long way home. I have no regrets and one solid, unlike the lake, memory. Thanks for playing along. It’s been wonderful, Liudas Guzas.”

Liudas Guzas: the lake sighs in a mournful way……….!!!!!!!! I know what it means ………..I have heard it…….. Thank you Jo Diaz for sharing wonderful memories smile emoticon

Jo Diaz: Very few of us have, Liudas Guzas. Very few of us have listened.


My friend Tracy Cervellone shared a foal being born and wrote: We see so many births with so much human assistance. This was so simple, unencumbered, beautiful. BTW, that foal is BIG.

Jo Diaz: It’s how all of nature does this, expect – with the exception of humans and many farmers. Honestly, I would have put my camera down, having had three daughters, and assisting at one of my daughter’s two separate water births. A little help from a friend does go a long way. Just watching that mother, knowing her stress, I would have lightened the burden. The baby’s legs are a pretty funny ending.

Tracy Cervellone: It’s as if humans have an instinctive need to reach out, help. I felt the same way. I have a sense this wasn’t this mare’s first rodeo, which would explain a lot. It’s a remarkable short piece.

Jo Diaz: It is, for how it works, a great video. And, yes, some of us have that nature. Yesterday I saw someone homeless, as I was headed into the grocery store. I couldn’t help myself. It was cold and raining. I bought some food, dog biscuits, and a little stuffed animal for his dog Lucy. Scott was amazed that Lucy didn’t just rip it up, per her usual. She just played with it while we talked. He was camped out in a corner, next to the store, “just trying to stay dry.” He had a radio plugged into an outlet and was just hanging out. A warm chicken from the rotisserie… I couldn’t help myself. His handshake was so warm I was really touched… Mostly at Lucy, though. Scott introduced us. Lucy and I looked into each other’s eyes for at least 15 seconds. I saw her love. Made my heart ache, but Scott is just an independent soul, not wanting to hurt anything. I’m happy that Lucy is helping him with his heart.

The Day I Comforted a Friend (from the 70s) Upon the Loss of Her Mother

Conni, The day my mom passed away, I remember thinking to myself, “There’s only one day in your life, when this happens.” So, like you, I had to find a flower to make me feel better. Yeah, so I drifted into my next door neighbor’s yard. No fence divided us in the front and it was suburbia, so it was easy to happen… And this was a new neighbor. He came out, only coincidentally, and there I was with his flower in my hand, looking really guilty. I was about six inches over the imaginary divide. We hadn’t met yet, so I said, “Today, my mother just died. I needed a flower to help me through it. I hope you don’t mind.” He just smiled and nodded. There’s only one day, and I know it well. #BraveHeart


Sicily,Wine,Wine of the Week

Wine of the Week ~ Sicilian Flavors of Stemmari Nero D’Avola and Tenuta Rapitala

Delicious, mysterious, and adventurous (for my palate)…  Sicilian flavors from Stemmari’s Nero D’Avola and Tenuta Rapitala Nuhar’s Pinot Nero. They were really enlightening and sumptuous…

As I tasted both the Nero D’Avola variety and a combination of Pinot Nero and Nero D’Avola wines, I was thinking how the Pinot Nero was a wine variety being enjoyed for the very first time… ever.

And, I loved both wines.

I’ve just documented another Wine Century Club moment with the Pinot Nero.:

Wine Century; are you in, yet?

The Wine Century Club is open to any adventurous soul; simply get started here.

It’s such an easy thing to do, and it’s a never ending adventurous journey… Once you hit that first Century, you’ll find yourself on your way to your second Century. It’s never ending, because there are so many varietal wine grapes available for us all to taste. When I began, I thought it would be a piece of cake. I hit a brick wall in the “60” category. Now, as I’ve persisted at keeping track (which is all you have to do, besides taste) my different wine varieties tasted has expanded to exactly 160.

The Wine(s) of the Week, brought to us by Sicily

2012 Tenuta Rapitala Nuhar Pinot Nero

Where they “grow passion,” the blend of this wine is 60 percent Pinot Nero and 40 percent Nero D’Avola: After pouring both glasses, this was the wine which began with a lighter body, so I’m listing it first, since we tasted it first. The European aromas and influences filled our kitchen with aromas of the countryside into the room. I envisioned women with scarfs wrapped around their heads and men enjoying mid afternoon cappuccinos at an outside cafe. Next came aromas of a wild raspberry patch, where I would stand as a kid on Sabattus Lake, picking and eating before returning to the water to spend the rest of the afternoon swimming with friends. From this wine, my mouth was filled with gorgeous red raspberry fruit and a delightful memory. It was just that wonderful. I highly recommend this one for your red wine drinking pleasure.

2013 Stemmari Nero D’Avola

Where we’ll find, “the art of living…”

“The Stemmari wines come from the splendid island of Sicily in the heart of the Mediterranean.”  I’ve enjoyed Nero D’Avola in the past. It’s a very enjoyable wine. This one having three years on was very soft and inviting. The color reminded me of light colored garnet freesias; so bright and alluring. Aromas filled the Pinot glass bowl, delivering a richness of summer blackberries. I enjoyed flavors of edible lavender and wild violets. This wine has perfect medium bodied flavors and has a deliciously smooth finish. Without any coaxing at all, this could easily be a “house wine.” It could also become one for teaching your friends about wines from Sicily.

I’m not one for wasting the opportunities that come my way. So, after Jose and I enjoyed tasting both wines, we decided that since this one is 100 percent varietally Nero D’Avola, our neighbor and friend Greg could have this one. I had just opened these two bottles, and this was another teachable moment for Greg. I put the cork back into the bottle and brought it next door, to a very happy guy.

In the future

I look forward to studying Sicily and its wine in greater depth. These two “Tastes of Sicily” have left me wanting to know a lot more about this Mediterranean’s island’s wines, art, and culture… That’s a promise to myself.


Marin Headlands,Wine

The Full Moon in Pisces ~ Personified by Sean Thackrey

The Pisces personalities (and today’s full moon in Pisces) are geared toward being compassionate, adaptable, accepting, devoted, and being Imaginative. They’re the bard of the zodiac, the dreamer, the poet, the magician. They love to create illusions, the Wizard behind the curtain… Being the last sign of the Zodiac means that unless they have other planets in strong positions – like Aries – they just don’t have the energy to march forward like a visible pioneer, a warrior, a full blown worldly leader. Instead, they have the ability to become King Neptune, not King Charles I (Charlemagne)…

Pisces do not take well to a position of leadership or high business person; they are too sensitive and lacking in self-discipline and lacking self-confidence for positions such as that. What they are good at is is writing, acting, poetry, or being musicians. Pisces are excellent at anything that tugs at the heart strings and mystical/spiritual. They are extremely creative and can use their skills of creativity and their understanding of people to inspire others. (zodiac-signs-astrology.com)

I know no one better in the wine industry than Sean Thackrey, of Thackrey & Company. Sean completely personifies the Pisces personality as described in my first paragraph. A few years ago, Jose Diaz, Steve Heimoff, Hardy Wallace, and I made a trek into Marin County, to spend a day with Sean. It was just wonderful. Here’s the outcome of that very special day…

Off we all went into the hills of Marin, to spend an afternoon with wine legend Sean Thackrey.

This day was planned to perfection. Jose arranged for a Pure Luxury Limousine, so we could enjoy responsibly and be safe. I had made all the phone and Email arrangements prior to our day. The day before and morning of our adventure, I prepared our luncheon. Leaving nothing to chance, we were ready.

The car first picked up Hardy, then Jose and me, and finally down to Oakland to get Steve. He wasn’t quite ready (we were a bit early), so off we went to Whole Foods… an interesting, insightful detour. Back to Steve’s, when he buzzed us, and then we drove the back roads of Highway 1 to Sean’s. It was a gorgeous, sunny day. The ocean was glistening. The inside of the limo was warm and friendly. Life was perfect. We all were taking a day off together, and Sean Thackrey was invited.

When we appeared in his yard, we all felt like we were reliving Ken Kesey’s Merry Prankster, without the psychedelic bus and drugs… but it was still some kind of flash back in energy and time.

Sean’s a man of the earth. His property immediately reminded me of my days, while living in the woods of Maine on Allen Pond and Sabattus Lake. I grew up around a lot of water, swimming, and woods. I directed Androscoggin Day Camp with 200 kids… I know the great outdoors, and I immediately recalled the aromas of earth, pines, and salt water. It made me hunger for a moment in Maine to regroup my journey. Instead, I took in lots of images of nature to satiate my soul.

Off we went.

Sean asked what we’d like to do. I couldn’t resist. I said, “I’d like to take the tour.” We all laughed, as Sean led the way.

He took us into his hospitality room, where we were greeted by the heat of a small Jotul wood stove…. another throw back to when I used to heat our house on Allen Pond with eight cords of wood each winter. The warmth was perfect, as it wrapped us in this welcoming.

We stepped into Sean’s wine cellar, where he explained his practices. With his details on a barrel, it makes for an excellent snapshot into his wine making world. I have to admit I was paying more attention to the details of this cellar, than I was listening to his conversations with Hardy, Steve, and Jose. Unique images were everywhere. I wanted to capture it all. I came for the images and Sean Thackrey’s presence. The rest was for everyone else to absorb.

Each of us came for something unique. I wanted the imagery. Hardy wanted the video. Steve wanted to reconnect. Jose needed a day away from his computer, and once in the limo he knew why I almost insisted that he spend the day with us.

Jose, Steve, and Hardy hung on Sean’s every word… Life was good.

We then ventured to the rest of this wonderful Marin hills house. It’s quaintness was captivating. We learned that in his past life, Sean Thackrey was an art dealer. That seemed to explain a lot.

I have to confess that I also spent the day recording our adventures on Twitter. We gathered quite a following, so we weren’t just the five of us. We had become a cyberspace crew, all enjoying the hospitality of Sean Thackrey. I was the conduit, and kept everyone up on what was being discussed through Twitter. I can’t even explain the absorption, but I dare say it was massive. We had one person who was so absorbed that toward the end of what we were doing, he asked if Sean was taking questions. By then, my Blackberry was losing power, so we lost that opportunity; however, I asked his questions to Sean.

[Q] @streamertyer ~ Generally interested in how Mr. Thackrey came to choose his astronomically related #wine names and is he an avid astronomer?

[A] Sean Thackrey ~

How I came to choose the names: There’s no general reason. I just liked the idea. There’s no astronomical or astrological reason. Orion just seemed like Orion. It was completely arbitrary, because the wine seemed to go with this character and persona. Pleiades is a cluster, and it looks like a cluster of grapes.

A woman once asked me (she was buying a case of Pleiades for a friend) if I used the Pleiades technology in my winemaking. The answer was, “No.”

Am I an avid astronomer? I pay attention, but not in the sense of using sophisticated telescopes.

[Q] Well, you’re out in the countryside, and you don’t have city lights as a distraction in the night sky; so, you must spend time at night enjoying what you can see there?

[A] Sean Thackrey ~ Of course. After I had named all of my wines after constellations that made sense to me, I found out no one could pronounce them. I had a fire department volunteer ask me for a donation, the way they do. I gave her a case of Orion. She came back to me to show me how it was listed: Sean Thackrey O’Ryan.

We both laughed, and I said, “Well, you are Irish, so O’Ryan’s logical… We continued laughing.

At lunch, Sean presented his 2006 Sirius, his 2007 Sirius, and his 2007 Orion. I loved the Sirius, as always, but had never tasted his Orion. The Orion blew my mind. We had one grand time, enjoying our afternoon with Sean, great food and wine, day in the forest (seemingly) primeval… all brought to us by our Pure Luxury day.

As we left, our driver wanted to take a group shot of us. As I now look at this image, I can’t help but laugh out loud. It was just that kind of day, as the universe invited each of us to its pure enjoyment.

Left to right: Jo Diaz, Jose Diaz, Sean Thackrey, Steve Heimoff, Hardy Wallace.

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My Story for Passion of Wine ~ Partie un


Traditional, Professional, and Family ~ I Am She

TRADITIONAL: My maternal grandparents were Pierre Bernier and Abbie Ouellette Bernier. My first four years of life, they only spoke French to me. I would give it a try back to them. I remember my grandmother telling me, “You have great intonation,” when I was then studying high school French in my first two years of high school. I switched to Spanish in my junior year, because I like to explore, and because I could see that French III was going to be a bear. I now wish I could have taken both French and Spanish. French III was going to be writing research projects in French. Advanced algebra, Chemistry, and French III? It would have been too much, and I just wasn’t ready. I’ve now also had two semesters of college Spanish, perhaps because I have married into the Spanish culture.

I called my grandparents Pipi and Mimi (grand-père et grand-mère). It was shortened for me, because Grand-memère was reserved for my great grandmother; Pipi’s aging mother, who lived with my grandparents, until she slipped back to paradis. For my formative years, I considered myself of exclusive French heritage. Then, I began to consider my father’s Anglo and Scottish roots. Today, I know that I’m a Western European mongrel, who’s traced myself back to Charlemagne.

I know, I know, everyone from Western Europe is related to Charlemagne.

My family tree then branches off to Charlemagne’s third son, Louis the Pious, then to the Kings of Scots, King James, and to the Reverend William Blackstone. (Blackstone was Boston’s first Anglican resident, sent by King James to preach the King James version of the Bible.) It was Patience Blackstone (Blackstone’s great grand daughter) who married Josiah Clarke, my fraternal great grandfather, seven generations removed). I’ve done my homework on this one, with the internet making it more simple, without ancestry.com’s help.

So, when I was reminded to enter the wine blogger’s Millesima Blog Awards, I thought, well, that sounds like fun. Alas, it was simply an infantile thought. I’ve done very little for Bordeaux in my passion, with regards to its wine and my own personal knowledge. I did think, “What an amazing way to learn about Bordeaux,” though; and then I was respectfully declined. I couldn’t blame them… I’m now chuckling. What was I thinking? I’ve done very little to explore Bordeaux. I’ve certainly done a lot for other wine regions, but not Bordeaux, much to my chagrin.

PROFESSIONAL: Like wine merchant Patrick Bernard, the CEO and Founder of Millesima Cie, wine is part of my civilization and part of my life.

FAMILY: Also like Patrick, my (three) daughters and husband work with me. It was I who first began a wine career. As my needs began to grow with Diaz Communications, a company that I founded, each member of our family – beginning with my husband – was called into support my wine publicist and marketing efforts.

The Passion of Wine

So now, I’m off to explore Bordeaux. I’ve listed the people within my own family who have French roots, only to demonstrate that it’s in my best interest to really get to know France on a more intimate level. I talk with my body. I have a socialistic point of view, in that I take humanity’s suffering as a serious reason to share more of the wealth with my fellow human beings. I embraced  foreign exchange students from around the world (Paris, Brussels, Chile, Brazil, and Japan), so that my own children would have more broad life experiences. When I talk, I also use my body. What else can I now learn from Bordeaux? I need to know more about their wines…

My beginning aspect, therefore, is how wine grapes got to France, and most specifically Bordeaux. Where did they come from, and who brought them? My answer will lie within the Roman invasion, but then – How did the Romans discover them and from where? And, as I’ve written about Portugal, The Wines of Portugal ~ First you must understand the people. Part of my ancestry is from France; I have a very personal interest, and thus begins my journey.


The Great Wine Grapes Exodus

Stay tuned for the journey.