Biodynamic,Organic,Organization,Wine,Wine Appreciation,Wine Business,Wine Culture,Wine Ed,Wine Education,Wine Legislation

Earth Day in Wine Country ~ You are what you eat AND DRINK

You are what you eat AND DRINK… Why have we missed stating the obvious DRINK part for so long? As you think about this question, consider where we’d be today, if – in the 60s – we would have chanted this concept, with “drink” also included. Then, our children would be further ahead in their thinking. Consider what’s below in the findings, and  you might understand why I’ve made this claim.

We Are What We Put Into Our Bodies

I recently saw a graph showing the most sustainable vineyards in the world. The US was lower on the list than I wanted it to be. On one hand, that was a disappointment. On the other, I live in Sonoma County, and by 2019, this entire county is supposed to be registered as “sustainable.” The rigors are impressive, so I feel pretty great about that. I’ve lived my life organically. I was naturally organic until the 60s. Then processed foods (dry cereals, for instance) were beginning to show that they were causing some health problems. So, I backed off foods that weren’t being sold in the just opened “health food stores.” I’ve watched the movement since the 60s, as soon as the phrase “you are what you eat,” came to life. When dining out, there’s no fast food, except an occasional Panda indulgence. (Yeah, I love noodles; and I only buy Italian noodles for home, since they’re not big on chemical farming in Europe. Helpful hint.)

This all said, all three of my daughters are now the cooks for their families, all eating and enjoying a healthy, slow food lifestyle. The Wine Market Council’s findings, therefore, don’t surprise me one iota. Those of us who live like I do, raised our kids the way I did. They’re now a new generation of educated consumers and home economists. Yes, we’ll pay more for less intervention. It’s an upside down and backwards way to live. This is what our mechanized food system has done to us. We’ll support small, local farmers, because they deliver the good goods.

In Time for Earth Day 2018: Wine Market Council just released the results of their study: “Green” Study Highlighting U.S. Wine Consumer Attitudes Toward Organic, Sustainable and Biodynamic Production

Survey finds consumer willingness to spend slightly more for wine made of  organically grown grapes and sustainably and biodynamically produced wines, as well as other key data. The research survey looks into wine consumers’ understanding, perception and reaction to various green designations for wine production.

“We uncovered a lot of very insightful data that shows the perceived benefits these ‘green’ wines have to consumers and how relevant these benefits are to the buying decision,” said Steve Burns, president of Wine Market Council. “These findings will help our members make key business decisions in the years ahead.”


For the study, Wine Market Council surveyed 1,159 primarily high frequency wine drinkers (those who consume wine more often than once a week). Focused specifically on how consumers identify and understand the various production methods, they inquired about the apparent benefits to consumers and how relevant green methods are to pricing and buying decisions. The complete report is now available to Wine Market Council members and will be discussed at the association’s upcoming Annual Membership Meeting taking place May 11, 2018, at The CIA at Copia in Napa.

The association shared a few highlights including:

Consumers are more confident that they understand what “made from organic grapes” means than what “sustainable” or “biodynamic” mean. There was a strong correlation between confidence of understanding and interest in these wines.

  • Sustainable and biodynamic wines are significantly more often associated with external environmental impact (water and CO2 issues) than organic wine and wine made from organic grapes, which in turn are more often associated with input issues (no SO2, no synthetic pesticides/fertilizers, non-GMO).
  • There was little difference perceived between “organic wine” and “wine made from organic grapes,” but substantial differences between those wines and biodynamic and sustainable production.
  • The data indicates a willingness to spend slightly more for wine made from organically grown grapes than from conventional grapes, and slightly more still for sustainably/biodynamical produced wines than wine made from organically grown grapes.

SIDEBAR: When Oliver’s moved into my neighborhood, I had never seen the word “conventional” used to describe food. I asked the young man working on the “conventional” table, what are “conventional foods?” He shot right back… “The ones with poisons on them.” We all had a good laugh. As I like saying, “Funny, not funny.”

“Ah… I see,” I thought…

The study also dove deeper into consumer habits through a 3-day online discussion with 11 selected high frequency wine drinkers. Among the highlights:

  • A commitment to organic food doesn’t directly translate into a similar commitment to “organic” wine. Other decision-making factors supersede how the wine was produced.
  • Barriers to purchasing wine made using these production methods include the following: perceptions that they cost more, not liking one they had tried, skepticism about there being standards behind the designations, availability, visibility, and a lack of awareness.
  • The willingness to pay more for these wines is dependent on occasion, previous trial, or recommendation.
  • These designations could be a tipping point for decisions to purchase a wine among those who see green production as a positive.

Wine Market Council provides its proprietary research to association members only. Upcoming research projects include a robust retail wine study to be released this summer.  Membership dues are based upon different criteria that are dependent upon member association with the wine industry. You can inquire about membership at the Wine Market Council website WineMarketCouncil.com, or email Wine Market Council at SBurns@WineMarketCouncil.com. Media questions and requests should be sent to contact@teplinnuss.com.

Wine Market Council is hosting their Annual Membership Meeting on Friday, May 11, 2018, from 9:00am to 12:00pm at The CIA at Copia (500 First Street, Napa, California). This year’s meeting kicks off with V.I.P. keynoter, Christian Navarro, president and co-owner of Wally’s Wine & Spirits and Wally’s Beverly Hills. For more details and to register for this meeting, click on this link: https://wmcmembershipmeeting.eventbrite.com.



Petite Sirah,Russian River Valley,Sonoma,Sonoma County,Syrah,Wine,Wine of the Week,Wine Writer,Winemaker,Winemaking,Winery,Wines

Limerick Lane Offers History in a Glass and Depth in Structure

Given to me by Jake Bilbro of Limerick Lane Wines… owner, winemaker… to enjoy, and wanted my opinion.


  1. THE HEART OF THE DEAL ~ THE WINERY: info is coming from the company’s own statements
    1. I can’t make up their history
    2. Nor am I to try
    1. From: Limerick Lane Wines


2015 Limerick Lane Obsidian Block

THE HEART ~ Jake Bilbro Family

Our wines are exceptional because our culture is special. Wine isn’t something you make; it’s something you live. The contents of each bottle reflect a full year in the life of everyone who works at Limerick Lane. As in all other parts of life, the lessons, challenges and victories lie in the journey, not the destination. We count among our greatest gifts the opportunity to teach our children how to live in a modern world via a seasonal process that was developed centuries ago and remains basically unchanged. That’s why, at Limerick Lane, in addition to the vineyards, music is important, books are important, sitting at the table together is important—facets create brilliance, an environment where people aren’t working, they are learning, sharing, growing. Our wines taste better because the people behind them are engaged in life in every sense, not just the senses—see, smell, taste—which specifically typify wine. At Limerick Lane, every bottle captures the multilayered daily life–the vines, the seasons, the rocks and people and sweat and romance–of this inimitable place.”


“Our estate is comprised of fourteen separate vineyard blocks divided by three creeks, which run between Chalk Hill to the east and the Russian River to the west. The hills that define our boundaries provide exceptional southern and western exposure, and are comprised of some of the oldest and most weathered soils in the Russian River Valley, a combination of clay and rock. The clay holds water, gradually metering it out to the dry-farmed vines throughout the summer, while the rock warms and aerates the soil and allows the roots to penetrate deep down into the subsoil. Vine balance is achieved naturally via the low fertility of the aged clay soils, and the vines are resilient because of the slow steady water supply that encourages deep rooting… In addition to old grape vines, Limerick Lane is home to another rarely found natural wonder: Obsidian. The fields are in fact littered with it. Whether or not the Petite Sirah grown in what we call the “Obsidian Block” actually channels some of the characteristics of the unique glass, I’m not sure but given the similarities between this wine and the stone, I have to wonder…”

THE SOUL ~ Willingness

So, here is my wine experience from this 2015 Limerick Lane Obsidian Block. With Obsidian rock being part of its geological make up, there’s no telling what flavor – if any – this type of hard stone brings to the vine and wine. (Think the about the sharpness of First Nation arrow head…)

Metaphysically speaking, that’s a different story. This land has been farmed since the first wave of immigrants arrived, after they crossed the Bering Straight. In 1910, the Del Fava family planted the first (and still producing) vineyard. The land has held an energy of good farming for about 15,000 years. Jake Bilbro embraces that deep respect for all that’s come before him. He doesn’t take the responsibility lightly. And, that passion is represented in his wine.

Swirl… The 2015 Obsidian Block, is 60 percent Petite and 40 percent Syrah.

Sniff… This was a really delicious, brave, bold, and bramble-berry kinda-wine.

Sip… Big, rich, Whoa, dry, and has well structured tannins. It filled my palate, raced around my taste buds, and told me how gorgeous is was.

Be brave, not afraid, like this wine; because, it’s what I call a tom-boy kinda wine… While it’s sorta tamed, it’s still a bruiser. Bring out your best slab o’beef and enjoy grilling season! Thanks, Jake Bilbro. (And, thanks Cathy Huyghe for the introduction)




Northern California’s Purple Mountain Majesty After the Fires ~ It’s Epic

This past October was horrific for wine country. Everyone experienced loss and/or trauma in varying degrees. The uncertainly of evacuations, and then returning to whatever future lay ahead… Let’s just say, it’s something none of us prefer to go through again. PTSD pops up at unexpected moments, even if it’s just the wind picking up. We’re left to wonder, where’s the silver lining?

Spring has its way of answering

I got an Email from our friend Barbara:

 “It’s an ill wind that blows no good”

“I was up on the Ranch this afternoon and what a treat!!  Yes, the Ranch bears the terrible scars of the fire.  But there is a bright spot – the wildflowers have never been better.  Carpets of lupine roll down the hills.  Patches of blue-eyed grass compete with the lupine in ways never seen before.   The Douglas iris are just starting to come.  Add to that yellow, white and orange flowers I don’t even know the names of.  And of course everything is green, green, green – the Ranch lands have never been more spectacular.  So, come, let’s go for a Wildflower Hike, this Saturday, 1:00 p.m.

Fires happens in California’s autumn. In our case, it was due to power lines. So it wasn’t nature. Still, the results are the same… Fire, ash that becomes fertilizer (converted to nitrogen), spring rains that soak the soil, plants are fertilized and a flash of color unlike anything else seen in years happens when the sun begins to have longer days. Many people on this walk have walked this field before. They marveled that they had NEVER seen it like it was this spring… That we may never see this ever again, even, it was such a rarity. I feel blessed that my camera and I were invited. I gave wine writing up for the day, as I had planned to be doing, and got outside. This is what I saw, on this beautiful day. There are so many more of these pictures, it’s just too much to even begin to understand, if you didn’t take those two + hours with us. Still, I’m betting that you’ll enjoy this synopsis.

The 2017 Wine Country Spring, after the fires…

This picture is at the top of our hike. This is Sonoma County’s Purple Mountain Majesty… This is what Katharine Lee Bates meant, when she wrote those words. She must have seen the following images, live and in person. It’s never meant anything to me before now. I had never seen it… Now, I know.

Everywhere I looked, the purple lupine was everywhere… the tops of knolls, along the hillsides, and down into valley.

Vistas so beautiful, they almost took my breath away. As you study this image, pay special attention to the brown, in the oak trees. Therein lie the scars.

Colors so vibrant, they were almost dizzying.

Intoxicating aromas. Many were trying to identify them. I have a super palate (an over abundance of taste, and smell also gets super concentrated). It’s usually a curse, not a blessing; in this case it was a blessing…

It smelled so purple… Grapey; as one person commented, it smelled like Purple Kool-Aid. The aromatics matched the visual.

The flowers are on acres and acres of land… Purple Lupine has taken over.

Up and down every hillside.

Some flowers we couldn’t even identify, off in a little field all of its own.

In another meadow, purple irises popped up everywhere. I saw what looked like a mushroom’s “fairy ring,” except it was all irises.

For instance, what ARE these flowers?

While there are remnants everywhere… from all of this to spender in the grass, is all I can write…


Lake County,Marin Headlands,Mendocino County,Napa,Philanthropy Thru Wine,Solano County,Sonoma,Sonoma County,Suisun Valley,Wine

Ron Rubin Winery Trained for “Saving Lives” Program expands to include all of NORTH COAST

Ron Rubin, of Ron Rubin Winery, had exclusively funded a program for saving lives in only Sonoma County. In collaboration with the American Red Cross and ZOLL Medical Corporation, this program has now received numerous requests from other American Viticultural Areas. Ron Rubin Winery, American Red Cross, and ZOLL are pleased to announce their expanded coverage to now include all North Coast regions.

  • Lake County
  • Marin County
  • Mendocino County
  • Napa County
  • Sonoma County (continuing)
  • Solano County

In order for a winery in the North Coast to qualify to receive a ZOLL AED PLUS, North Coast winery owners, or representatives, must begin the process by directly contacting Ron Rubin via email: ron@ronrubinwinery.com.

After a winery’s qualifications are approved to receive the AED PLUS (valued at $1,700), it will be promptly contacted by a representative from the American Red Cross, to schedule CPR/AED/First Aid training for the winery’s team. Winery participants will cover a very minimal cost of $60.00 per person, for their staff’s training.

Along with Ron Rubin Winery, the American Red Cross, and ZOLL, all of these North Coast wineries are committed to being Trained For Saving Lives.

To Date:

    1. Acorn Winery, Healdsburg
    2. Amista Vineyards, Healdsburg
    3. Amphora Wines, Healdsburg
    4. Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards, St. Helena
    5. Armida Winery, Healdsburg
    6. Asti Winery, Cloverdale
    7. Balletto Wines, Santa Rosa
    8. Barra Winery, Redwood Valley
    9. Bella Vineyards, Healdsburg
    10. Benovia Winery, Santa Rosa
    11. Blue Rock, Cloverdale
    12. Bluxome Street Winery, San Francisco
    13. Boeschen Vineyards, Saint Helena
    14. Buena Vista, Sonoma
    15. C. Donatiello Winery, Healdsburg
    16. Cakebread Cellars, Rutherford
    17. Campana Ranch Winery, Windsor
    18. Carol Shelton Wines, Santa Rosa
    19. Cartograph Wines, Healdsburg
    20. Cast Wines, Geyserville
    21. Cattleya Wines, Santa Rosa
    22. Christopher Creek Winery, Healdsburg
    23. Colgin Cellars, St. Helena
    24. Comstock Wines, Healdsburg
    25. CrossBarn, Sebastopol
    26. Dana Estates, Rutherford
    27. DeLoach Vineyards, Santa Rosa
    28. DeLorimier Winery, Geyserville
    29. DRNK Winery, Sebastopol
    30. Dry Creek Winery, Healdsburg
    31. DuMol Winery, Windsor
    32. Dutton-Goldfield Winery, Sebastopol
    33. F. Teldeschi Winery, Healdsburg
    34. Family Wineries Dry Creek, Healdsburg
    35. Francis Ford Coppola, Geyserville
    36. Frei Brothers, Healdsburg
    37. GC Lurton Vineyard, Healdsburg
    38. Grand Cru, Windsor
    39. Hagafen Cellars, Napa
    40. Hamel Family Wines, Sonoma
    41. Hanna Winery, Healdsburg
    42. Hook & Ladder Winery, Santa Rosa
    43. Hourglass Wine Company, St. Helena
    44. Idell Family Vineyards, Sonoma
    45. J Vineyards & Winery, Healdsburg
    46. JCB, Yountville
    47. Keller Estate, Petaluma
    48. Kistler Vineyards, Sebastopol
    49. Korbel Winery, Guerneville
    50. La Follette Wines, Healdsburg
    51. Laurel Glen Vineyard, Glen Ellen
    52. Lauterbach Cellars, Windsor
    53. Lede Family Wines, Yountville
    54. Lewis Cellars, Napa
    55. Lynmar Estate, Sebastopol
    56. Markham Vineyards, Saint Helena
    57. Matrix Winery, Healdsburg
    58. Mauritson Wines, Healdsburg
    59. Mazzocco Sonoma, Healdsburg
    60. Medlock Ames Winery, Healdsburg
    61. Merriam Vineyards, Healdsburg
    62. Merry Edwards Winery, Sebastopol
    63. Michael David Winery, Geyserville
    64. Moshin Vineyards, Healdsburg
    65. Muscardini Cellars, Kenwood
    66. Nalle Winery, Healdsburg
    67. Navarro Vineyards & Winery, Philo
    68. Old World Winery, Fulton
    69. Ordaz Family Wines, Kenwood
    70. Owl Ridge Wines, Sebastopol
    71. Paul Hobbs Winery, Sebastopol
    72. Papapietro Perry Winery, Healdsburg
    73. Paradise Ridge Winery, Santa Rosa
    74. Patz & Hall, Sonoma
    75. Pedroncelli Winery, Geyserville
    76. Pennyroyal Farm, Boonville
    77. Pezzi King, Healdsburg
    78. Quivira Vineyards, Healdsburg
    79. Rack & Riddle, Healdsburg
    80. Ramey Wine Cellars, Healdsburg
    81. Raymond Vineyard, St. Helena
    82. Robert Young Estate Winery, Geyserville
    83. Rockpile Vineyards, Healdsburg
    84. Ron Rubin Winery, Sebastopol
    85. Rued Winery, Healdsburg
    86. Russian River Vineyards, Forestville
    87. Schug Carneros Estate Winery, Sonoma
    88. Signorello Estate, Napa Valley
    89. Simoncini Vineyards, Healdsburg
    90. Soda Rock, Healdsburg
    91. Spring Mountain Vineyard, St. Helena
    92. St. Anne’s Crossing Winery, Kenwood
    93. Sugarloaf, Santa Rosa
    94. Talisman Wine, Glen Ellen
    95. Taft Street Winery, Sebastopol
    96. Tara Bella Winery, Santa Rosa
    97. Ten Acre Winery, Healdsburg
    98. Thomas George Estates Winery, Healdsburg
    99. Three Sticks Winery, Sonoma
    100. Trattore Estate Wines, Geyserville
    101. Truett Hurst Winery, Healdsburg
    102. Vine Cliff Winery, Napa
    103. Vineyard 29, St. Helena
    104. Vinify Wine, Santa Rosa
    105. Virginia Dare, Geyserville
    106. West Wines, Healdsburg
    107. Wheeler Farms, Saint Helena
    108. Wild Hog Vineyard, Cazadero
    109. Wilson Winery, Healdsburg
    110. Woodenhead Vintners, Forestville


Russian River Valley,Sonoma,Sonoma County,Wine Country,Wines,Wne and Food

Earth Day in Wine Country – Safari West Celebrates a Party for the Planet

When parents bring their children to wine country, any parent worth his or her salt will make sure to include something for the kids. This is just common sense. Expecting wine educators to also reduce their wine ed to a level of a day camp director, while also informing the wine consumers in a captive way… simultaneously… is unrealistic. Ask me, I know. And, I also know how to do it. But, I’m a realist. I knew my colleagues well, in Girl Scouts and in wine education, and I was one of the few and brave. I persevered! Tales of a Winery Tour Guide ~ Rumble, Tumble, Fumble, and Bumble

Meanwhile, parents headed to wine county on the April 22 weekend, and to those of you who live in wine country and want to connect your children to the earth… on this Earth Day… Join Safari West on Sunday, April 22, 2018, for a truly special occasion!

Now, more than ever, we cannot lose site of conserving and preserving our precious planet…

Reserve Now

This year, Safari West is hosting a Party for the Planet to celebrate Earth Day 2018 and provide support for our good friends at the Safari West Wildlife Foundation! On this crowded and dynamic planet, our wild neighbors need a helping hand more than ever. The Safari West Wildlife Foundation hopes to provide those helping hands by inspiring wildlife advocacy, and they need our help!
Save your seat at this one-day event and be among the first to ride our brand new safari bus, enjoy an amazing luncheon at the Savannah Café, and of course meet the many animals of the Safari West collection!

This Earth Day, party for the planet, explore the Sonoma Serengeti, and support the Safari West Wildlife Foundation!

I love visiting this place with our kids and grand kids. It’s truly memorable. Also reminding myself it’s time to return.


Biodynamic,Chile,Organic,Sauvignon Blanc,Wine,Wine of the Week

2017 EQ Coastal Sauvignon Blanc from Casa Blanca Valley, Chile

Spring’s here. Lighter fare is beginning to sound really delicious, as are lighter bodied wines. And this 2017 EQ Coastal Sauvignon Blanc from Casa Blanca Valley, Chile is a perfect fit for all of your plans.

  • HEART ~ THE WINERY: info is coming from the company’s own statements
    • I can’t make up their history
    • Nor am I to try


2017 EQ Coastal Sauvignon Blanc from Casa Blanca Valley, Chile

THE HEART ~ Matetic Family

The Matetic family arrived in Chilean Patagonia back in 1892. They were originally from Rijeka (today it’s in Croatia). In 1999, the fourth generation of the family, after a detailed study of the terroir conditions, was absolutely confident about the great potential of El Rosario Valley; so, the family planted vineyards on the slopes of this protected environment, within the San Antonio appellation. Thus, it became a pioneer in Chilean cool-climate Syrah.


TERRIOR: EQ stands for Equilibrio, the Spanish word for balance. The windswept vineyard of Valle Hermoso, just 13 kilometers (8.08 miles) from the Pacific Ocean, gives birth to this expressive Sauvignon Blanc. The cool climate and strong coastal winds help to control the natural vigor of the vines, thus achieving a perfect balance between plant growth and fruit ripeness. Valley Hermoso delivers an elegant and nuanced wine, both fresh and ripe, with underlying minerality.

The predominant soil type is decomposed grey granite with a presence of iron-rich mica. The loose subsoil allows root penetration and balance growing, thanks to the winery’s organic and biodynamic management. A careful manual harvest was carried out at the end of March. The grapes underwent a cold soak for six to eight hours, before pressing under a layer of inert gas, preserving the grapes’ aromatic potential. Fermentation was conducted under controlled low temperatures in stainless steel tanks. The wine was aged in contact with fine lees for four months. Thirty percent was fermented in concrete egg-shaped vessels and neutral oak barrels, to enhance the mineral notes, texture, and mouthfeel of the final wine.

THE SOUL ~ Purity

It’s always interesting to reflect on soulful Old World practices. For instance, in Europe, hazardous chemicals – like glyphosate –  are seriously considered (if even) before using, and that’s if indeed they’re even used. The Old World has a grounded common sense about using hazardous chemicals in the soil. These known carcinogens have a way of not only poisoning the bugs who are feasting on leaves of what’s been treated, but also everything else along the food, air, water, people, and and soil chain. What’s listed as organic – from Old World practices, are products that I feel more confident enjoying. The purity of EQ was exceptionally delicious, with organic and biodynamic practices contributing to tasty flavors. The flavors were crisp and clean, very lemony, like enjoying a glass of summer sunshine. The elements of fresh grass, grapefruits, and Meyer lemons, with that kitty claw factor, were in perfect harmony. A classically well-balanced Sauvignon Blanc, this 2017 EQ Coastal Sauvignon Blanc is sure to please the Sauvignon Blanc lover inside of you.

It is reminiscent of spring days, baby-green colored grasses are just beginning to cover the earth, and spending time with my daughters studying dance, ballet as part of the innocence curriculum and Edgar Degas’ work was always, always on my mind.  From the Larousse Encyclopedia. Enjoy with a glass of your favorite Saugivnon Blanc, or maybe you’re lucky enough to have a glass of EQ!


Books,Wine,Wine Book,Wine Education

SOMMs, Start Your Engines ~ The Booklovers’ Guide to Wine, by Patrick Alexander

The Book Wine Library Section

About The Booklovers’ Guide to Wine (An introduction to the History, Mysteries and Literary Pleasures of Drinking Wine), by Patrick Alexander…

The entire time I was readying this book, all I could think of was: “if anyone is really into wine and contemplating becoming a sommelier, this book is a prelude… A wine library should be/would be the most welcomed destination. Valuable, valuable, valuable.

And I say this after knowing that SOMMs have a boatload of details to learn… Do I need to throw on another layer?

Ah… yeah…

This book is like point-counter point, reaffirming, just another connection… Albert Einstein’s brain has been studied. Results… It’s the amount of connections in his brain that gave him his genius. A network from one concept had many links/memories; so, the quantity created more images than average, with a massive amount of thoughts for the best recall. You may already know this, or not. Either way, it’s a great refresher, just like The Booklovers’ Guide to Wine.

From Patrick Alexander‘s publisher of Books & Books Press:

Learn why great wine and great writers are a wonderful blend

Under the careful guidance of his father, Patrick Alexander began drinking wine with his meals at the age of five. At the same age, encouraged by his mother, he began a lifelong love affair with books. The twin pleasures of wine and writing remained his passion for the next sixty-five years. For the past six years, Patrick has been teaching a sold-out wine appreciation class at the nation’s [number 1] independent bookstore, Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida. The Booklovers’ Guide to Wine is based on this very successful class and blends Patrick’s passion for the culture and history of wine and his love of literature for the world’s great writers. A literary twist on traditional food and wine pairings, this book explores how great wines and great writers can be combined to enhance the enjoyment of both. The book describes the history of wine from the time of Noah to the birth of two-buck Chuck. It explores the significance of terroir and varietal, the differences between Old World and New World wines, and much more.

Welcome, all wine nerds, to a world

…where, if you don’t have the time to study to be a SOMM, but you really love the world of wine and have an insatiable appetite, this is the captivating banquet you’ve been waiting to experience.

For me, the history was compelling. And so Chapter Three will begin for you:

“Since the dawn of history, mankind’s greatest quest has been to find not only food, but fresh, drinkable water. Many wars have been fought and lives lost in the struggle for access to fresh water. Because most available water has not been drinkable and carries diseases; alternative liquids had to be found, and since the discovery of alcoholic fermentation some ten thousand years ago, beer and wine have been the most common safe alternatives to water.” p.93

And the quotes, for your entertainment at the beginning of each chapter:

“Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine, so that I may wet my mind and say something clever.” Aristophanes ~ p. 147

Connect with new terms… This one is especially sweet, something I hadn’t yet learned in viticulture (but did in maple syrup making), and is such a delicate nuance:

In “The Year of the Vine” figure:

Weeping: As winter ends, the ground temperatures rise, and once the vine senses the first stirring of spring in the air, it slowly returns to life. As the temperature one foot beneath the surface reaches about 50 degrees Fahrenheit, by a process of osmosis, the sap starts rising from the roots deep in the earth and spontaneously begins to drip from the cuts where the vine was pruned the previous season. It is a beautiful and moving precursor of spring when a whole vineyard begins to glisten with the rising sap, a sign that the cycle of life will begin anew. This natural phenomenon is called “weeping” or bleeding, and each individual vine is capable of weeping eleven pints of sap.

While living in Maine, I watched the same process of “weeping” happen to Maple trees. While living in California, I marvel that maple tree leaves are so similar in shape and appearance to wine leaves. That extra connection… weeping will never be the same to me. So much to learn, so little time…


Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem,Carignan,French Wine,Grenache,Rhone,Syrah,Wine,Wine of the Week

2015 Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem is that Hidden Gem


  1. THE HEART OF THE DEAL ~ THE WINERY: info is coming from the company’s own statements
    1. I can’t make up their history
    2. Nor am I to try
    1. From: M. Chapoutier Bila-Haut

The upcoming Heart of the Deal is especially fascinating, and very well crafted. I you like Latin, you’re going to love this one.


2015 Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem


At the center of an old, windswept Roussillon vineyard sits an imposing rock, which, according to local lore, possesses the magical ability to capture power from the Earth and spread it through the surrounding land. And, perhaps, a little magic infuses the single-vineyard wine which comes from this best and oldest vineyard on the Bila-Haut estate and shares the name of its site: Occultum Lapidem, or “Hidden Gem” in Latin.

Occultum Lapidem is made by 100-point wine scorer, famed Rhône-great, owner of Domaine de Bila-Haut and wine philosopher Michel Chapoutier. Indeed, the names of Chapoutier’s three top Bila-Haut wines, V.I.T. (Visitare Interiore Terrae), R.I. (Rectificando Invenies) and Occultum Lapidem (O.L.) are based on the acronym V.I.T.R.I.O.L., used by alchemists of the Middle Ages — the philosopher-scientists of their day. It stands for Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem Veram Medicina and translates to “Visit the interior of the earth, and by purifying (what you find there) you will discover the hidden stone, which is the true medicine.” For Chapoutier the motto-acronym defines his own winemaking philosophy: the vital interaction between Earth (the land component of terroir) and Life (represented by the vineyard).



The Land of Occultum Lapidem: Devonion schist soil defines the Latour de France AOC, but this particular patch includes gneiss from the same period and limestone from Kimmeridgian period: complex soils for complex wines. The wines draw warmth and richness from the schist, strength and balance from the limestone and minerality and freshness from the gneiss. Gneiss and schist both have a laminar structure, allowing vine roots to burrow deep between layers of rock, absorbing character-forming minerals along the way and providing access to precious moisture in this often drought-challenged part of the world. Along with the Northern Mistral wind, the cooler microclimate here enables added hang-time for the fruit. The 2015 Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem is Syrah (50 percent), Grenache (30 percent), and Carignan (20 percent). The blended wines are from the best and oldest vineyard in Michel Chapoutier’s Bila-Haut Roussillon estate.



Bila-Haut has always pleased me. I think of the color purple, when enjoying a Bila-Haut red wine. Purple’s the color-blend bridge between blue’s ultra violet and red’s infrared. They conjoin in precise depth. Flavors of blueberries, yet red fruit, with the aromatics of violet. This 2015 Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem just brought its profoundness to what I enjoyed. I will forever remember that oval rainbow, with a yin-yang balance. What more could I even say about Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem?





Cabernet Sauvignon,Event,Napa,Stags Leap District,Wine

Twentieth Annual Vineyard to Vintner in Stags Leap District

I highly recommend this event. Past adventures, for instance.


Tickets are now available for the Twentieth Annual Vineyard to Vintner.  This really is an unparalleled weekend experience of VIP access to the vintners and wineries, of the Stags Leap District. Tickets were released February 14, for one, two, and three-day packages.

Vineyard to Vintner takes place April 27-29, 2018 in the Napa Valley.

To purchase tickets, click here.

Tickets are limited and can be purchased on the Stags Leap District Website (link above). Each year, member wineries of the Stags Leap District Winegrowers open their doors for this one weekend, giving visitors exclusive access to the wines, vineyards and people behind this iconic wine region. Visitors enjoy unparalleled personal, backstage access to private homes and historic wineries alike. The weekend includes exclusive dinners, private tours, barrel tastings, food pairings, music, and experiences–all set amongst the glorious vineyards and towering Palisades of the Stags Leap District.

To further support relief efforts from the recent fires, 5% of the proceeds from this year’s Saturday Open House tickets will be donated to the Napa Valley Community Foundation.  Additionally, for the first time and to kick-off the Saturday festivities, there will be a Vineyard ‘Walk and Talk’ with vintner Jim Regusci to hear a firsthand account of the harrowing tales about the Napa Valley October fires and discuss vineyard management and landscape recovery.

“Vineyard to Vintner is a rare opportunity for wine enthusiasts to have VIP access to the owners, and winemakers in our iconic appellation,” said Nancy Bialek, Executive Director of Stags Leap District Winegrowers. “It’s truly an extraordinary weekend with library wine dinners, open houses, a vintner-hosted lunch, and the first taste of the critically acclaimed 2015 Cabernet Sauvignons from Stags Leap District. If you are a Cabernet fan you simply can’t miss this event.”

This year’s Vineyard to Vintner hosting wineries include Baldacci Family Vineyards, Chimney Rock Winery, Cliff Lede Vineyards, Clos Du Val, Ilsley Vineyards, Lindstrom Wines, Malk Family Vineyards, Odette Estate, Pine Ridge Vineyards, Quixote Winery, Regusci Winery, Shafer Vineyards, Silverado Vineyards, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Stags’ Leap Winery, Steltzner Vineyards, and Taylor Family Vineyards.

[Image of Chihuly’s glass sculpture was taken at Pine Ridge Winery.]

The Vineyard to Vintner weekend includes:

Exclusive Vintner-Hosted Library Wine Dinners: Friday, April 27, 2018 // 6:30PM – 10:00PM

On Friday evening, the winery owners and vintners of the Stags Leap District dig deep into their cellars to share their most cherished library wines for an intimate dining opportunity. Guests choose from among dinners at Baldacci Family Vineyards (co-hosted with Shafer Vineyards, Steltzner Vineyards, and Taylor Family Vineyards), Chimney Rock Winery (co-hosted with Ilsley Vineyards, Odette Estate and Regusci Winery), Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars (co-hosted with Clos Du Val, Lindstrom Wines, Quixote Winery and Silverado Vineyards), and Stags’ Leap Winery (co-hosted with Cliff Lede Vineyards, Malk Family Vineyards and Pine Ridge Vineyards) as four celebrated chefs create Cabernet inspired menus. Each dinner is open to just 45 guests and provides an unforgettable night of world-class wines and hospitality.

Vineyard “Walk and Talk” with Jim Regusci: Saturday, April 28, 2018 // 9:00AM – 10:00AM

Offered for the first time, guests can join a Vineyard ‘Walk and Talk’ with vintner Jim Regusci. Hear a first-hand account of the harrowing tales about the Napa Valley October fires and see the landscape recovery as Jim gives a personal tour of his property.

Open Houses: Saturday, April 28, 2018 // 10:00AM – 4:00PM

On Saturday, individual Winery Open Houses provide back-stage access to the Association’s member wineries. Guests spend the day with vintners and winemakers at their private homes and historic wineries and enjoy special access to wines and food not available to the general public.

Vintner-Hosted Lunch and Appellation Collection Tasting: Saturday, April 29, 2018 // 11:30AM – 2:00PM

The Vineyard to Vintner weekend concludes Sunday with a vintner-hosted farm-to-table buffet lunch. Set among the sprawling ranch at Regusci Winery V2V guests also get a first “sneak peek” of the 2015 Stags Leap District Appellation Collection released in the fall.

Tickets and Additional Information

You can find more information and purchase tickets, at www.stagsleapdistrict.com/V2V. Prices range from $690 for a three-day pass, to $545 for a two-day pass (Friday/Saturday), $340 for a two-day pass (Saturday/Sunday), and $195 for a Saturday single-day pass. ‘Signature Wine Weekends for Two’ packages are available for $3,399 and include two passes for all three days of the event, the limited 2015 Appellation Collection of 17 handcrafted 2015 SLD designated Cabernet Sauvignons each signed exclusively by the vintners, and one Solle two-bottle jacquard and leather embossed wine tote. More information can be found at www.stagsleapdistrict.com/V2V.

[Doug Shafer, Shafer Vineyards]


Art in Wine,Culture,Wine,Wine Magazine

Wine Enthusiast’s Artful Focus is a Significant Pleasure

SETTING: Waltz, point counter point, having just been in the garden ~ including Waltz in A-Flat Major, Op. 39, No. 15

INSPIRATION: Wine Enthusiast Magazine query ~ “Introducing Wine Enthusiast’s First Ever Art & Wine Issue”

SOUL: Art & Wine? Sure

OPINION: Life graces us with sensual entertainment. We need only to indulge, just lose ourselves and indulge. I’m so delighted that Wine Enthusiast’s sensibilities match mine. I’ve always enjoyed the magazine’s talented people. This past week, in a digital interview, I got closer to the source. Enjoy the following, if you love words as an art form, enjoying “other” art forms.

The Interview ~ Lauren Buzzeo: Managing Editor / Tasting Director

QUESTION: How did Wine Enthusiast arrive at this decision to turn this year’s focus to the perfect pairing of Art & Wine?

LAUREN: We have had a dedicated culture issue every year since 2014, each with a unique theme—Music & Wine (June 2014), Film & Wine (May 2015), Sports & Wine (May 2016), Fashion & Wine (May 2017), and the latest in the series, Art & Wine (May 2018). There are such strong connections between these various culture touchpoints and the wine world that are an absolute pleasure to illuminate through these packages. In this case, art and wine absolutely go hand in hand in so many ways. The two worlds require equal expertise in both craft and creativity or imagination, and have the ability to transport and affect people through their uniquely personal experiences with each. When they come together, however that may be, it’s often electrifying and completely synergistic. We couldn’t resist the opportunity to explore these art & wine intersections, speaking to luminaries in both industries for Q&As as well as showcasing the beauty of the partnership throughout time through our History of Art and Wine timeline, Artful Labels ticker and perfect wine pairings for classic art styles.

QUESTION: Superlative parings of Art and Wine – what are the parallels that the editors could easily, and the not so blatantly ones see; i.e., what new walk-away will consumers be pondering/enlightened?

LAUREN: Some of the art and wine pairings—like Brunello, the classic Tuscan wine of power, expression and ageability with Michaelangelo’s Drunkenness of Bacchus stature—were instant soulmates. [Above image] Others, like orange wine with abstract expressionism, were a bit more subject to personal interpretation and outside-the-box thinking. The interesting thing we noticed was the more vague or unconventional the art style, the more categorically open we were inclined to go with wine, allowing for those personal interpretations and preferences to drive your individual wine choice.

QUESTION: Just curious, is there any glass – like Chihuly – involved in the story? (My own Chihuly image was attached, of an installation taken at Pine Ridge Winery.)

LAUREN: There is! One of the pairing art and wine styles, contemporary/modern art, includes a beautiful Chihuly chandelier as the imagery for the style and inspiration to the wine pairing. It was important to us to incorporate multiple mediums and artistic technique, including sculpture, graphic design and batik, as well as different raw materials, when putting the package together.

QUESTION: I’ll also go into your links, and find quotes that I’ll attribute to WE. Do you have a favorite?

LAUREN: There are many! There are some definite personalities in there that have seen some stuff in their time (Steadman and Indiana, for sure), so I’ll let you run with whatever you like best!


For the first time, Wine Enthusiast’s highly-anticipated May Culture issue will turn its focus to the perfect pairing of Art & Wine. Going live at winemag.com this week [March 25 to April 1, 2018] this issue is filled with art-centric content to kindle zeal for both wine and art.

Inside Wine Enthusiast’s noteworthy Art & Wine issue, you’ll find interviews with some of art’s leading figures who also have a passion for wine:

Additional content features more artist Q & As; wine bars with high design; art styles and their perfect matching wine; cocktails inspired by vintage cocktail posters; and exclusive digital content. #WineEnthusiast #WineMag #WEWineAboutArt