Wine,Wine Related Products

Avalon Bay saves my day, right when I needed Calgon to take me away

I was asked if I would review a wine refrigerator for Avalon Bay, a home appliance company; their Avalon Bay AB-WINE12S 12 Bottle Single Zone Thermoelectric Wine Cooler, to be exact.

Sure, why not? I have another Air & Water wine refrigerator in our kitchen. When I get samples in my office, I occasionally lamented that I don’t have a convenient storage unit right here for white wines coming in. So, yes, I was up for it… a gift falling from the sky. As you can see, my wish was granted.

It arrived and I immediately found just the right spot for it. Right next to me. Within two days, it was completely full of newly arrived samples. I was so excited about it that I took a picture of my slightly messy office… When you’re writing a book and have other duties, other things just seem to pile up. But I thought to myself, “I’m so inspired, I’m going to take a before and after picture. I would write, “Here’s my mess, but doesn’t the Avalon Bay AB-WINE12S look great in the middle of it?” Then, I’d shoot an after picture, because I was very inspired to get organized.

However, the unthinkable happened. Sometime during the night… God only knows at what hour, a hose pulled away from the guest bathroom… from  the wall to the toilet bowl. And it spewed seven gallons of water a minute for how many hours is beyond me… but it was enough to do at least an estimated $10,000 damage in the blink of an eye. Estimated is always the operative word, n’est ce pas?

The saving grace of this little refrigerator cannot be underscored. When the inspector for the job arrived, and we were told that fans would be brought in and dehumidifiers to suck out the water evaporating from the walls, floors, carpets, the house would become a 90+ degree sauna. The one thing he cautioned us about was our wine, and how it had to be properly stored, or the potential for losing it was a high probability.

And, that’s not a column in my office; it’s an air flow tube for sucking up moisture, going into one of the many dehumidifiers.

Sigh… the wine samples that arrived are protected. Now, I’m wishing for a huge, insulated wine closet, and recommend to anyone with a collection of wine, begin to get your coolers in place. No one wants to face what we’re currently going through… much less, “What to do with all of the wine?”

Benefits of this 12 bottle refrigerator:

  • Compact and Freestanding
  • Complete with interior LED light
  • Features Digital Temperature Display
  • Holds 12 Standard Sized Wine Bottles
  • Perfect for small wine collections
  • Thermoelectric Cooling and Vibration Free
  • 1 Year Limited Manufacturers Warranty

The SKU (AB-WIN12S, if you’d like to get started with your own 12 bottle refrig… Hopefully not under the same conditions.

Once the work is finished in my home, I’ll post that real “after” picture I wanted to add to this story. For now, bless this mess, and Avalon Bay for saving my day; and the white wine samples.

Here’s the after picture I was going to show you, of being more organized (Okay, I’m laughing out loud, because what are ya gonna do?”

My office has gone to hell in a hand basket for about three weeks, as I trudge on, waiting for the room to be “re” sheet rocked, repainted and new carpet to be laid. Yeah, they say these things are ruined. It’s beyond me to figure it all out. The insurance guys came up with this plan, and you know how they’d prefer to not spend money, so it must be true, right?

Just another day in the life of a wine publicist, who’s writing about the journey…



Dusty Moments and Luscious Wines ~ The Rutherford Dust Society’s 15th Annual


The Rutherford Dust Society is having its annual tasting on Wednesday, July 16. This annual event is held so that trade members are able to meet the vintners, growers, and winemakers of the Rutherford Appellation. Each year they have a Special Grand Tasting for wine writers, wine buyers, wholesale members, and off and on-premise accounts (one is grocery stores and wine shops, for example, and on premise are restaurateurs). This year they’re featuring 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2013 white wines. This special trade tasting is taking place from 2:00 to 4:30 p.m. at Inglenook, 1991 St. Helena Highway in Rutherford.

This is a photo video slide show that I did from the 2010 media tasting, just for perspective.

I’ll be reporting back on how wonderful it is… It’s an event I always love to attend.

It’s not open to the public, because it’s intended to educate everyone in the wine business about these special wines coming from Napa Valley, so that we can then share with the rest of you what we’ve learned.

From their site:

The Rutherford Dust Society was founded in 1994 by growers and vintners in tribute to the legacy of our grape growing and winemaking forebears. Since the late 19th century, the growers and vintners of Rutherford have played a significant role in the development of Napa Valley as a world-class winegrowing region.

For anyone else not attending the event, here’s a video for your own edification.


Italy,Wine,Wine Century Club,Wine Education,Wine tasting

Wines appealing to the adverturer inside of you ~ Rocca Sveva

There’s a group called the Wine Century Club, of which I’m a member. All you need to do is track how many different varieties that you’ve enjoyed… even if those varieties are in a blended wine. It almost feels like cheating; but those are their rules, and rules are rules. When I started I thought, “piece of cake,” but I hit a wall at 60+ varieties. Once you get past Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, etc., the usuals… you really need to step outside of your comfort zone… And so I did, and I finally reached my 100 different varieties goal.

You know what? Once done, you want to keep going, and so the Wine Century Club has set up new goals:

In addition to regular membership, we also recognize serious grape nuts who have tried at least 200 (Doppel), 300 (Treble), 400 (Quattro) or 500 (Pentavini) varieties.

I’m headed to Doppel… I’ve always wanted to be a Doppel, I think… And, so, when the wines from Rocco Sveva arrived, the first thing I wanted to do was to check out the varieties, to see if I’m getting closer to my goal. I’m currently at 147 different wine grapes tasted, in one form or another.

So, anyway…

A shipment of wine arrived from Cantina Di Soave’s Rocca Svena, which are Estate wines from Verona. Verona is a city straddling the Adige River in Veneto, of northern Italy. It’s the second largest municipality in the region and the third largest in northeast Italy. This wine company was founded in 1898; and I’m on their radar screen, which – of course – I love.

The following three wines were sent for me to enjoy… and so I did…

First of all, am I going to be moving forward in my Wine Century goal? I checked all of their varietal content against what I have on my wine century spread sheet…

  • Soave Classico 2013 ~ Garganega grape ~ Nope, I’m good with that one. I also find the Garganega grape to be very delicious.
  • Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore 2009 ~ GRAPES: 70% Corvina (all set), 25% Rondinella (YES, a new one!), 5% Molinara (YES, a new one!)

Now I’m up to 149. Can I make it over the edge to 150? (You can see the passion building for self achievement. My only competitor in life is my own self… always to improve.)

  • Amarone Della Valpolicella 2008 ~ GRAPES: 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 5% Molinara (NOPE, but I’m still very appreciative for the two that are sending me forward: This one is the same as the one above, including the same blend. So this one will be side-by-side in a comparative tasting, to understand the one year’s difference in aging and how the harvest has affected these two wines… Still a great learning experiment.)

What I love about shipments of wines that come from Rocca Sveva is not only what I’ve mentioned above… getting to taste new varieties; but there’s also something much deeper… They’re indigenous varieties. While I do love having learned all that I have about California wines, which are now indigenous to California, is to taste another part of the globe… the wines from “somewhere else.” We can all agree that the more one travels, the more broadminded one becomes. Travel and the flavors associated with stepping outside of a comfort zone is mind expanding. So, while I’m a wine publicist working in California, telling my tales (sometimes juicy, sometimes not so juicy), I love learning more from other world regions.

One of the greatest gifts in my life was when Delfim Costa of Lisbon, Portugal brought me to his country to taste his Enoforum Wines of the Alentejo region. Let’s just say that my Wine Century Club membership was put into overdrive… And now, I’m being allowed to enjoy Northern Italy in my Russian River Valley office… How superb… A day in the life of a wine publicist, who is being true to why I started this wine blog, sharing with those whom also love wine adventures.

Rocca Sveva wines tasted

  • Rocca Soave Classico 2013 ~ Garganega grape
    • I was turned onto the Garganega grape quite a while back. I love this variety. It’s a dry, white wine, with lots of floral notes, with flavors that remind me of golden delicious apples, a palate that’s full flavored and very lemony… I really enjoyed the toasted almond finish. Think aperitif and your favorite cheese that would complement a lemony white wine.
  • Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore 2009 ~ 70 percent Corvina, 25 percent Rondinella, 5 percent Molinara (The three indigenous grapes going into this wine)
    • The younger of the two wines, this one was big and bold. Dark cherry flavors, a touch of nutty spice, and tight tannins, this is definitely ready for a tri tip summer barbeque.
  • Amarone Della Valpolicella 2008 ~ 70 percent Corvina, 25 percent Rondinella, 5 percent Molinara
    • Deliciously complex, this smooth, silky wine lives up to its reputation for red berries and dried fruit like cranberries and dried blueberries. The tannins on this one reminded me why these wines are only now being introduced… as a six year old wine, this one would be great for a prime rib dinner.

I highly recommend these wines… not only for the excitement they bring to a palate ready for adventure, but also for the delicious flavors that each has presented.




Michigan,Public Service Announcement,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Country,Wine tasting,Winemaker,Winery

Old Mission & Leelanau Winery Passport + Radio station success story

Photos from the 2008 Taste the Passion Leelana...

Photos from the 2008 Taste the Passion Leelanau Peninsula Wine Tour. Shady Lane Cellars tasting room. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once upon a time…

There are many “once upon a times” for me. I remember when I first began Diaz Communications, Page Poulos reached out to me.

At the time, she owned Paige Poulos Communications, Inc.. She congratulated me on taking that independent step. And she warned me, “Always be looking” [for new clients]. Then, after 30 years of being a wine industry PR specialist, in 2010 she dropped out… She and her husband went to Europe for a year, and upon their return, I was very curious to see where she’d land. Well, it wasn’t back into the wine business. In 2011, Paige segued from wine to agriculture, to focus her energies on the expansion of California’s organic farming community. She founded John Woolley Ranch Hay Sales, the nation’s first hay brokerage devoted to the sourcing and sales of certified organic and non-GMO hays for dairies and meat producers. She is licensed by both CDFA and CCOF as an organic agricultural commodities broker.

And, good on her!

And so it goes, just one “once upon a time,” with a warning. Interestingly for me, I haven’t had time to promote myself for clients in the past 20 years. They somehow find me, and then we begin a new story. This is about one of those stories that had found its way to my doorstep. And, this one is from Michigan.

As with all stories, there’s a beginning, a middle, and an end.

  • Some are stories of greatness
  • Some are stories to teach me a lesson
  • Some are stories to teach others lessons.

This one is about greatness…

Supermarketer Lynn Fischer Kirimli was working with Shady Lane Cellars on the Leelanau Peninsula in Michigan. Lynn suggested to them that we help with their PR and the journey began. It was a joy working with Winemaker Adam Satchwell, who is also the winery’s general manager. He’s informative, friendly, helpful, and a winemaker who really knows what he’s doing in all realms of his job. We worked together from 2008 until 2009.  We can still find a bottle of his wine in our collection… It would be a 2005 or 2006 as a vintage, still in 2014; and the wine is nearly as vibrant as the day he shipped it to us. We’re always delighted when we get to enjoy one of Shady Lane’s wines.

I recently got an email from Brian Boyer of 9and10news.com. Brian had no way of knowing our history with Shady Lane. He was just asking for my help with an event that’s being created. I have a stock answer for about 95 percent of the queries that I get from marketers, who want me to help broadcast their events. My answer has to do with the nature of my blog, not that I have an aversions to public service announcements… I was a PR executive in radio for years, who had to focus on PSAs, so I get the importance of them. The reason for my not taking care of 95 percent of them is simply put.

Dear, whomever,

My blog is a pesonal journal about being a wine publicist. If I haven’t created or attended the event, because it’s not part of my history or future, I can’t write about it.

There are also times when I’ll help colleagues to pitch their events, because they’ve helped me, too. Because Shady Lane and Diaz Communications had the best of connections during those two years, I’m willing to help Brian with his event…

Also, there’s something v-e-r-y special about this one… As an wine event organizer, I would pass out – seriously, I would pass out – if a radio station came to me and said, “As a public service, we would love to help you with Dark & Delicious… We want to create this opportunity to support our local wineries, promote tourism, and at the same time give back to the community through charitable contributions.” Yeah… you’d have to pick me up off the floor.

Here’s his first E-Mail to me.

Hey there! My name is Brian and I work for 9&10 News / Fox32 (Northern Michigan’s leading news stations) and we are launching a FUN and EXCITING wine passport! This passport is going to feature some of the best local wineries in Northern Michigan. This is a great time to help our local businesses out by promoting the wineries. The new Winery Passport 2014 – Leelanau & Old Mission is going to be a very interesting event for both local residents and tourists traveling to the area. I would like to reach out to your business and page in hopes to talk about promoting this wonderful event. I am looking to connect with well known wine networks and I think yours would be a perfect fit. It would be a HUGE help to have our event promoted via Facebook, blog, website, or any other networking method. Please let me know if this is something you would like to help with. I would greatly appreciate it! Thank you so much (The Passport website is almost finished. I will send the link when it is ready.)

I wrote back to him:

Brian, my wine blog is my journal about being a wine publicist. I only promote that which I know/have a personal connection to, so it will have an interesting lead into the story. So, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Oh, crap.” Not to worry. I’ve worked with Shady Lane Cellars in the past. Yeah, what are the odds of that one, and we parted as good friends. I’d love to help you. Send more info when you have it and I’ll promote it for you.

English: Leelanau Peninsula

English: Leelanau Peninsula (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Details have arrived:

Old Mission & Leelanau Winery Passport

Wine lovers can now enjoy some of the beautiful award-winning wineries of Northern Michigan at a discount with the Old Mission & Leelanau Winery Passport. Launched by 9&10 News, Fox 32, Fekete Knaggs & Burr Agency, and Central Insurance Companies, the passport includes exclusive discounts towards purchases at 13 local wineries. The passports are valid for [two] 2 people and can be reused at each winery as often as desired. Any passport completed before December 31, 2014, can be exchanged through 9&10 News for a complimentary wine tote.

The passports are on sale now for only $59.00 on milocalwinepassport.com and directly through migreatdeals.com. For each passport sold, $5, will be donated to each of the following organizations… equally:

  • Feeding America West MI Food Bank
  • Father Fred
  • Tip of the Mitt Watershed
  • Grand Traverse Area Literacy Council
  • Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center

“Northern Michigan is home to beautiful, award winning wineries. We wanted to create this opportunity to support our local wineries, promote tourism, and at the same time give back to the community through charitable contributions. This passport can give locals and tourists a chance to experience more for less,” says Jennifer Gingras, VP of sales and digital sales manager of 9&10 News/Fox 32.

For a list of participating wineries or for more information visit milocalwinepassport.com.

Yeah, this VP of sales and digital sales manager is thinking on her feet. good on you, Jennifer Gingras.



Field Blend,Vineyards,Vintner,Viticulture,Wine,Wine Making,Winemaker,Winery

60 different grape varieties, what would you do with them: Acorn Winery has an answer…

A question that I can’t help but ask, “If you grew 60 different grape varieties, what would you do with them?”

The reason for asking this is that I just met with Bill and Betty Nachbaur of Acorn Winery, for a second time. I say second time, because I met with both of them, not just Bill in 2011. See more…

Bill and I were in a wine marketing class together years ago at Santa Rosa Junior College. We spent an entire semester together, and we also ended up in a group presentation as a final exam project. So, we got to know each other better than some of the other grape growers around my Russian River Valley neighborhood. The reason that Jose and I just met with Bill and his wife Betty, along with Francine, their right-hand person (all things helping to run winery marketing and operations related) recently is because it was time… It’s time, because the Acorn was planted 25 years ago, and it’s grown into a really beautiful oak tree in so many ways. With his nose to the grind stone, Bill Nachbaur is still very humble in so many ways. Bill just does what he does, from a passion in his gut that had him leave the comfort of degree in law to pursue a life of grape farming and intuitive winemaking.

FROM THEIR WEBSITE: Bill traded in his law books for books on viticulture, pruning shears, and a tractor when we purchased Alegría Vineyards in 1990. In the early years, he was in the vineyards every day, and Betsy helped out on weekends, but within a few years she too was ready for a change and joined Bill full time.

Bill does know where to get help for what he’s doing… he’s an educated man; but, we can’t call him a gentleman farmer, like we called… let’s just say… Jess Jackson. Jess – also an attorney – didn’t get out into the vineyards and get dirt under his fingernails. Bill does.

As a creative man, Bill took the plants that were on his vineyard site, which was planted over 120 years ago, and began to see them as a daily medley. As he worked with each one, he decided to follow the ancient traditions represented in each of the originally mixed varietal plantings.

Bill’s artists palate was set before him.

They began their grape growing career by selling all of their grapes to other wineries, letting others produce their highly prized Alegría Vineyard-designated wines. Then in 1994, they changed their direction, wanting to make some wine themselves; so, they established Acorn Winery. Their first release, in 1996, was their 1994 Sangiovese.

They gradually began to keep more grapes for themselves, while adding other wines to their portfolio. Now they handcraft seven different wines, while also still selling half of their grapes to other wineries. Several of them are still vineyard-designated:

  1. Russian River Valley Heritage Vines Zinfandel from the original 1890s vineyard
  2. Russian River Valley “Axiom” Syrah
  3. Russian River Valley Cabernet Franc
  4. Russian River Valley Sangiovese
  5. Russian River Valley Dolcetto
  6. Two proprietary blends
    1. Medley
    2. Acorn Hill
  7. A dry Rosé called Rosato

Their production is only about 3,000 cases each year. All of their wines are made from grapes that they grow themselves at Alegría. Every wine is also a field blend.

From Betsy: Today, after 22 years, we continue to find alegría living in the middle of our vineyards, enjoying the cool Russian River Valley climate, and continuing a long tradition by sustainably growing premium quality grapes and producing acclaimed award-winning wines.

alegría: Spanish: 1. happiness, joy (gozo) ; joy (motivo de gozo). con alegría happily, joyfully.

This is what our joyful scientist (Bill Nachbaur) does with his time… every day, each day, nurturing, watching, waiting, tasting, dreaming… Until his Medley is composed…

60 varieties blended into an annual Medley

2010 Medley from Acorn Winery


History,Portugal,Wine,Wine HIstory,Winemaking,Winery

Amphoras as seen through the eyes of Portugal

As I’ve written previously, To Understand Portuguese Wines, One Must First Understand the People. I would add the word “history” to what must also be understood. I can now say this, most especially after having spent 10 days in Portugal last fall with Delfim Costa of Enoforum Wines. This has become abundantly clear to me.

In world history, Portugal was invaded by the Romans, who left so many artifacts behind that one can’t escape their presence, anywhere in the country.

One of those artifacts that captured my imagination is the amphora.

When visiting Carmim Winery, winemaker Rui Veladas took us into the large dining room (above), where guests are entertained in very grand style. Lining the wall, which is opposite the doorway, were large amphoras left behind from the days of Roman captivity.

In the US and other new world countries, seeing an original Roman amphora is going to be a very rare occurrence. In Europe, however, this is going to be a bit more matter-of-fact. These artifacts have existed in these countries since the Romans first arrived. Julius Caesar marched his 30,000 soldiers up the Tagus. This is a major river, found at the port of Lisbon and the Atlantic Ocean, the river which also separates Portugal and Spain). Once Portugal was captured by Julius Caesar and his army [Julius is seen above in the image, with the halo he's finally negotiated], today’s Portugal was then called “Lusitania.” This was an ancient Roman province, which included approximately all of modern Portugal south of the Douro River, as well as part of modern Spain.

Caesar didn’t go to Portugal to spread Roman culture. He went there to loot and plunder, as he was a poor man. He sent a fleet northward to what we now know as the Douro region. “Douro” is Portuguese for gold, and the river was glimmering with it. His plundering allowed him to go back to Rome and buy his way into Roman politics. This is what cemented his position in the world as a leader. (Money writes history, as we all know.)

The Romans stayed a long time in Portugal, leaving behind a lot of architecture, culture, foods, wine, and artifacts… including these gorgeous amphoras.

I can’t even begin to tell you what seeing these huge vessels was like for me. Imagine, though, a clay vessel that is 2,000 years old, against our 70-80 years in time that we humans spend on this planet. You have to be quietly filled with awe in that process… At least, I was.

Then José Fonseca, the winemaker for Enoforum (who was touring with us) told me about these amphoras.

It’s this information that became the impetus for this blog entry, because it was so historically fascinating.

The Romans, in order to seal off these amphoras, used a thick layer of olive oil at the top after filling the vessels with wine. As the wine was released from the bottom, for their enjoyment, the layer at the top would spread outward. As it did that, it would continue to cover the top of the amphora, keeping all oxygen out. (Hence, the need for a “thick” layer of olive oil.)

Yes, I would imagine that with one of these wines, a wine writer of the time (humor) as s/he would be discussing the nuances of its flavors, would be able to capture and record more than a hint of olive oil.

And, yes, these wines didn’t oxidize… That being the most important reason and finding of the Romans about these wines being placed in amphoras. A seal of olive oil against oxygen kept wines much longer. It should come as no surprise, then, that an olive tree grove and a vineyard are still placed side-by-side today.

Also interesting to note, for those not in either business (grape or olive tree growing), first Mother Nature ripens grape vines. Then, the next harvest delivered by Mother Nature, is olive trees. While wine was fermenting, what the amphoras would be sealed with was being brought in for production… Then becoming the sealing material of the vinous fruit in these large vessels.


Education,Event,Law,P.S.A.,Sonoma County,Wine

Immigration law at the Sonoma County Wine Library

There’s going to be an informative, hands-on workshop in both Spanish and English on Immigration law at the Sonoma County Wine Library. I’ve asked wine grape growers what it’s like, now that we have stricter immigration laws, and none of them are happy. Many are being forced to by mechanical harvesters, because workers are no longer showing up as they used to do.

Some would argue that this is perhaps what our government, lobbyists, and big business had in mind all along…

  • Force out migrant workers, which also forces machinery sales. (Anyone see that happen, yet?)
  • Stop the flow of immigrants, so our homeless with their signs “will work for food” will show up to take those jobs. (Anyone see that happen, yet?)
  • Force small vineyards to sell or drop fruit, because no one is there to pick it? (Anyone see that happen, yet?)

Points well taken?

Liliana Gallelli, a dynamic and caring young woman who is dedicating her professional life to helping those who need it, understands and works within the sometimes bewildering legal maze of immigration. She is scheduled to present a detailed and practical workshop, in both Spanish and English.

Healdsburg Library
Thursday, July 17, 2014
From 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Anyone with children is encouraged to bring them along. Childcare and stories will be provided in the Children’s Library, so adults will be free to give their full attention to the forum.

On May 22, the Amigos de la Biblioteca and the Sonoma County Library put on this workshop in Santa Rosa. The Sonoma County Library’s executive director Bo Simons has decided to host it again in Healdsburg. According to Simons, “Liliana blew me away with her dedication, granular knowledge of immigration law, as well as her sympathy and care for those who have to navigate that maze. Please come or help me to spread the word.”

Bo Simons: 707-433-3772 x5, cell 707-508-6202; home 707-433-9247.



Happy 4th of July with Happy Camper wines!

Bar Harbor

Back in the 1970s and 80s, while living in Maine, being a Happy Camper was a way of life. Lots of my time was spent on gorgeous Mount Desert Island, exploring Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, Maine. It was such a fun time that although it’s now 3,500 miles away, it’s marked in my mind and heart forever. Wine was also part of that culture, sitting around our camp fire, looking up at the sky’s splendor unhindered by any city lights, while the kids laying sleeping in our tent.

Had I then had access to this newly launched wine brand called Happy Camper, I’m betting that it would have been my ultimate favorite, versus the Mateus that was passed around; although Mateus did have its flower vase and candle holder appeal… There’s no denying that!

my happy camper kid

This past week, Happy Camper wines showed up on my door step. I have to tell you, I’m having a new love affair with its packaging. In Rock n’Roll, it’s called having a “hook.” This brand definitely has a “hook.” It’s so cleverly designed that it could even make a curmudgeon smile.

Jeffrey Dye has given us lots of reasons why this brand will take off, and they’re all right on the money. He’s definitely onto something! This is marketing genius at its best. Who doesn’t love a Happy Camper? Jeffrey Dye’s slogan of “getting to where life is good,” might even take some of us into a retro look back to where life was as simple and fun as this Happy Camper image.

Predominantly using California’s Central Coast fruit, with a price tag of only $8.99 a bottle, this wine is a bargain.

I adore the screw cap, too. In my world, twist off is the way to go. (Yes, I’m one of those advocates). Let’s talk… Today’s wine cellar is the back seat of your car, for as long as it takes for you to drive home. And, if you ARE building a wine cellar, where corks play into that romance, good for you! But you’re not filling your cellar with under ten dollar bottles of wine, are you?

Jordan Pond, Mt. Desert Is.

Another fun feature is that the capsule is dotted with those all-too-familiar camping symbols. This bottle of wine is an attention to detail extravaganza!

Popular varieties: Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet… that’s what Happy Camper is all about. What does it taste like? Spend the money and find out! At only nine dollars a bottle, you can’t afford to not have this experience (and you won’t be disappointed).

What could be more patriotic this 4th of July weekend than camping and enjoying an American-made wine, and Happy Camper certainly qualifies.

Click here to visit Happy Camper on line.

Be safe, play hard, and have fun out there, Happy Camper!


Australia,Wine,Wine Business

When wine becomes a bitch… Treasury, I feel for you…

I just read the headline: Law firm launches shareholder class action against Treasury Wine Estates

I had to chuckle to myself. Here I sit in the wine business. Treasury Wine Estates is doing everything right, in my humble estimation… Staying engaged in their wine company’s advancements and participation in the industry. As the exec director of a wine advocacy group, I get to see it all from the inside. For example… there’s one guy, when I hear that he’s bought another brand, I think, “Oh, crap… we helped to build the brand and the first thing he’s going to do is pull the plug on membership.” And, he does. Not only that, but he fires everyone within the new company he’s bought… leaving one person to manage the mess he’s leaving behind, assigning winemaking to a singular department for all brands, and he’s off and running… Homogenizing as he goes along.


Then, there’s Treasury, trying so hard to do what’s right, keeping employees and memberships in tact; but that’s not good enough for its investors… because they didn’t buy a lifestyle. They bought into the stupid concept that there’s tons of money to be made in the wine business and they want a huge piece of that pie. The reality is that for most people in the wine business, they’re simply struggling farmers trying to make an honest living in an industry that produces magical days and soothing nights.

Investors… a funny breed. From BrisBane Times, by Eli Greenblat.

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers will push ahead with its shareholder class action lawsuit against Treasury Wine Estates, the makers of wine brands such as Penfolds, Wolf Blass, Rosemount and Beringer, lodging its claim with the Federal Court on Wednesday in a case that could claim millions of dollars in damages over the alleged late disclosure of a 2013 profit downgrade to investors.

It didn’t come around fast enough for you guys, huh. (Pity party… continuing on with the story…)

Backed by litigation funders Bentham IMF, Maurice Blackburn has begun a class action case against Treasury Wine linked to the timing of the winemaker’s disclosure of a $190 million write-down in 2013 – a write-down that included a $33 million provision to pour 6 million bottles of wine down the drain after the stock was considered out of date, off or unsellable.

The wine should have just been shipped to all of the share holders. I dare say that the wine being “off” or unsellable would have fit perfectly into their wine cellars, without them having a real clue of what was important to do, in order to move forward… Like not keeping wines that were “done” in storage.

Honestly people, if you want to make money from money, just invest in pharmaceuticals. You’ll make tons, because that’s all you really want to do, right?

Case in point: I took a business class for four units (and pulled an A from this one). One of our exercises was to buy stock and then watch it go up or down throughout the semester. I pretend invested in a pharmaceutical company, because I kn0w what the average American cycle… and I knew what I was doing.

  • Eat poorly
  • Get sick
  • Need… nay want… prescription drugs to make them feel well, again
  • Versus do the work and recover

I also knew that in real life, it would be the last thing I’d invest in, because it would simply be a predatory maneuver… I need to sleep at night.

My family doctor has shared that he went to a medical convention and came away feeling ill from a presentation. The guest speaker was the head of a pharmaceutical company. He shared, “My dream is to have every single American on drugs, whether they need them or not.”

So there, investors… Leave the wine industry if you’re looking for making a quick buck. Those who are here to make  a quick buck aren’t taking their companies public. They’re just slicing and dicing their way through the thickets. Pharmaceuticals make money from sheeple… Best investing advice for the day, as we shake our heads over your law suit against Treasury.

There are a lot of nice people who work within that company… So, I shake my head…


Education,Wine,Wine Country

Coming to wine country with kids… Safari West is your answer

Safari West is one solution following yesterday’s wine blog about children being welcomed into wine country…

[With the exception of the overnight tent accommodations, these images are of my daughter Melanie Hoffman and her children.]

Where to stay, so kids aren’t totally isolated into an adult world… Why not a wild animal preserve? Just minutes from where I live, Safari West is such a special place.

It’s always such an inspiring meeting with nature, when I go to their location, and I always want to bring children with me in the process.

… And, they have a GREAT wine list, parents …

Here’s a bit about Safari West, from their site.

Here in the heart of California’s wine country… in the fields of wheat-colored grass, on the slopes of rolling green hills, among the trees and ranches and vineyards is where you will find the essence and spirit of Africa.

Not a drive through park…this is the home of Nancy and Peter Lang.

Come through our gate and be transported into an exotic, new world. A captivating tapestry of raw sounds and earthy smells; a magic place with the sights and sounds of the Serengeti where the air is filled with melodious chirps from the aviary, squawking calls from gregarious parrots, and a occasional lemur screech. An African style oasis where guests experience a rare sense of freedom and gain renewed inspiration..

Safari West serves two important functions: first and foremost, we are a wildlife preserve, with several important ongoing projects such as:

The propagation of endangered species. Safari West is the home of zebras, giraffes, cheetahs and many more exotic creatures.

Under the directorship of Nancy Lang, Safari West is breeding several endangered bird species.

Several Research and Conservation programs are ongoing: Conservation through Education.

But Safari West is more than a preserve. We are dedicated to raising awareness of our exotic neighbors and promoting understanding through in-person contact. That’s why we offer safaris year-round. If your only experience with a zebra or giraffe has been at a zoo, you should see these beautiful animals in their natural habitat. You owe it to yourself, and to them.

And you thought coming to wine country is all about wine… Not if you have children.

Safari West features luxury tents that are imported from Africa, and they’re built on high wooden platforms with spacious decks. The pale green canvas walls make them part of the landscape… but they’re not just any old tents… like the ones I used in camping out in days of old. These tents enclose plush beds, hot showers, and rustic but elegant decor. They have polished wood floors and unique hand-hewn furniture. A continental breakfast is included, and you can enjoy that overlook wildlife. For me, the giraffes make me smile, every time I see them.

I’ve borrowed this image from their site, because I haven’t photographed inside their tents, but you really need to see why I, my children, and grandchildren are so excited about this area as an option for being here.

If children are coming along with you to wine country, as parents you have an obligation to them (and the people around you who either didn’t bring theirs, or don’t have any of their own), to make sure that your children are happy and engaged. They’ll learn that wine is an everyday part of life as a liquid food, most especially if they wake up in an area that’s designed to inspire them, first thing in the morning and last thing at night, before they head off into dreamland.

When you return from your day of tasting, your children will be able to explore the following on tours:

  • Birds: in an aviary and on the lower grounds
  • Carnivores ~ Cheetah, Fennec Fox, and  Serval
  • Hoofed Mammals ~ Addax, Aoudad, Blue Duiker, Bongo, Bontebok, Cape Buffalo, Common Eland, Dama Gazelle, Gemsbok, Grant’s Gazelle, view more, including their zebras
  • Primates ~ Black-and-White Colobus Monkey, Black-and-White Ruffed Lemur, De Brazza’s Monkey, Patas Monkey, Ring-Tailed Lemur
  • Reptiles ~ Tortoise, Sulcata or African Spurred
  • Rodents ~ Indian Crested Porcupine

Yeah… all in wine country…

Conservation through educational opportunities

At Safari West, they strive to promote the most thorough understanding of our natural world, and they emphasize how and why it is what it is, and where it’s heading.

Established early on as grade school excursions, our trademark Safari tours present guests with an entertaining and academic adventure covering many of the fundamental and advanced aspects of environmental studies from behavioral ecology, through evolutionary theory,and most importantly to conservation.

Aside from our tours Safari West continues to promote education with hands on training and research in various scientific fields. Through our Wildlife Foundation we support student researchers in their ongoing ambition to work with these animals in their natural environments. This task is not only sponsored by the Foundation, but students are actively trained on property in the fields of physiology, anatomy, and ethology.

I highly recommend Safari West as a wine country destination for any adults who are bringing their children with them. As a family destination in wine country, it gives parents a great base from which to explore, while your children also enjoy a vacation that inspires and wows them. The day I discovered Safari West is the day that my life because enriched, because I’m an animal lover… always bring home the strays. I understand how Peter Lang had a need to rescue Hollywood animals… Bringing them to a place that would be a sanctuary and a base to educate people about wild animals.

Again, from their site:

Since its founding, Safari West has grown from a small safari based operation, serving several hundred visitors to a premier educational facility. Safari West’s continual growth and evolution were carefully steered during the past two decades by Peter and Nancy Lang… Now with over 60,000 annual visitors, Safari West was rated by AAA second only to Disney Land as a must experience location in California. This year, Sunset Magazine listed it as one of the top 300 destinations in the western United States.

I bring my children and grandchildren to Safari West for occasional updates… I hope you can, too.