Mendocino County,PS I Love You,Wine,Wine Business,Winemaker

The many charms of a winemaker ~ Mark Beaman ~ During harvest, no less

One of the many charms of Mark Beaman is that I got a winemaker profile during harvest. One would think that it’s pretty hard to do right now. Certainly I did. So I used a different technique than the meet n’greet interview process. I sent questions to him, and told him there was no rush.

“Here are my winemaker questions to you. Take your time, because I know how busy you are. If you only answer one or two at a time, that’s fine.”

I expected this to take a month. It took a day.

“Here you are Jo. Warm one today in the vineyards. Its nice to sit down and tap out a message in a cool lab.”

What I didn’t know is that not only is Mark an impassioned winemaker, but I had a writer on my hands, with plenty of good humor. I really like this guy, long before we’ll be doing the tête–à–tête thing.

Because I’ve been connected to the wine business for so long, I have an almost unlimited number of doors that open for me. Between my first eight years of working for Belvedere, Barefoot Cellars, Robert Mondavi, and Ironstone, this set the stage for launching Diaz Communications. My last 14 years of being a private contractor, starting two marketing groups (the most successful being PS I Love You for Petite Sirah), and having a plethora of clients along the way… my reputation is now pretty set for my being a hard worker; ergo, the door easily opens with most people, when I need or want them.

And so it did with Mark Beaman. It began with my getting to know the next generation of the Mendocino Wine Company’s Chase Thornhill. I worked with his dad Tim Thornhill years ago in Orlando, during a National Pork Board event. I’ve also been on the road a lot (during the Blue Tooth Tour), with their head winemaker Bob Swain. I have lots of fond memories with both of these gentlemen… And now I was just introduced to the newest addition to the family line up… Chase. Chase is the senior brand manager for the Mendocino Wine Co. I love seeing next generations becoming involved in family businesses, having hired my own children for tasks that fit their personalities best. For Chase, he’s gone into marketing, and we’ll review him later, with a new brand he’s launching called “Moniker Wine Estates.”

For now, here’s the winemaker who’s heading up this project. It’s Mark Beaman, the associate winemaker for Mendocino Wine Co., most specifically.

Mark Beaman ~ Winemaker Profile

  1. What is your background
    • Was it related to wine?  My parents were forensic scientists in the Seattle Crime lab in the 70’s and we moved out of the city to south-eastern Washington when my sister and I came along.  So I grew up on my family’s ranch where we farmed alfalfa hay, wheat, asparagus, turnips and raised cattle for sale.  We lived off of efforts on the ranch and my backyard was several hundred acres of river and riparian area which I explored thoroughly.  My background did not have to do with wine directly, but my agricultural upbringing gave me a work ethic I still put to use.
  2. When did you first realize that you wanted to become a winemaker?
    • In the late 90’s I was living in Tanzania, East Africa as a soil conservation volunteer for the Peace Corps.  When my family took a trip to visit me, a party was thrown to welcome them.  Since my family spoke no Swahili and my village friends spoke no English it was predictably awkward, until my friend Lucas declared he was sharing his special brew of asali (honey wine). After a few drinks everyone was having a blast and it felt like a party.  I always thought that it must feel wonderful to see how something you made can be enjoyed in front of you like that.  After my Peace Corps service  I returned to Washington and I found the wine industry had grown enormously and it clicked that I should find a way in.  It all made sense as I wanted to be in a profession that utilized my agricultural roots, my love of science and involved creating a product to be consumed with joy and attention.
  3. How did you get into the wine business?
    • I responded to an ad that Columbia Crest Winery had put in the local paper.  They were looking for people to assist with basic lab analysis at the crusher.  I got a haircut, put on a tie and sweated my way through an interview.  I somehow got the job and worked my way into the lab for that harvest of 2000.  I slept at the winery some nights because it was a 110 mile round trip.  Doug Gore (the head winemaker) even caught me fishing in the tourist pond one night when I was trying to catch an easy dinner.  I think the winery appreciated my tenacity and they sent me to work for the company in California before I moved on to join MWC.
  4. Did (do) you have a mentor?  Yes.
    • What has he or she done to make your life more enjoyable?  Lucas taught me to be thankful for the simple pleasure of seeing others enjoy the fruits of your labors.  Bob Swain, who is head winemaker here at MWC is the old school do it all winemaker who maintains a tight ship, a strong work ethic and high level of integrity.  He makes my life more enjoyable because he is still making all the hard decisions!
  5. Do you enjoy the spotlight (i.e., travel, panels, judging, etc.), or do you prefer the lab?
    • I like them  both.  I enjoy going out on the road and speaking to distributors and wine buyers or sharing stories that make our products special.  I relish any chance to interact and learn as there is so much to take in.  On the other side the lab is great because the people that work here are friends and family.  The focus here is on getting the job done professionally, accurately and timely but it is also a place to share some laughs.  We do make wine after all.
  6. What aspect(s) of wine do you most enjoy?
    • When I am walking the vineyards taking maturity samples I sometimes take a moment and think to myself “I get paid to do this?”.  We have some beautiful scenery to walk through out here and its part of the job.  I also work alongside my extended family here at the winery.  So many members of the Muniz family have been part of this facility that is you put all their time together there would be well over 200 years of history.  This family is some of the most generous and hard working folks you will ever meet.  It makes it easier to wake up early and start another day of harvest when this is who you get to work with.  I love these guys.
  7. How has your job changed since you’ve started?
    • Progressions…I started a brix tester at the grape trucks on frigid mornings in Washington then moved on to a glorified dishwasher in the lab.  Then my work shifted to more of the lab analysis with vineyard testing in and around harvest.   Eventually I worked my way into working on blending trials with the different tools we have at our disposal.  Now I work on some of my own blends  and alongside with Bob on others, work out the days schedule, but still get to do some analysis and walk the vineyards.  There are some things I’ll just never give up.
  8. What’s the most memorable wine you’ve ever tasted?
    • At an event in New York I was pouring at I had a chance to walk around and taste these unusual and expensive Biodynamic wines from around the world.  I heard of many of the wineries, but none were as controversial as Christophe Barons wines of Cayuse.  I went to his table and he was gracious to pour through his lineup.  All which were simply mind-blowing.  But the 2006 Armada Syrah was the funkiest, wildest and most bad-ass thing I had ever come across in the wine world.
  9. Do you have a favorite variety?
    • Yes. Pinot Noir, but Syrah is a close second for some of the same reasons
    • If so, what is it about that variety that takes your breath away?
      • Pinot Noir, when done right, has an ability to maintain both elegance and wildness that is true to its varietal character.  Wines that are just cherry or berry can get boring.  Pinot Noir can conjure flavors that are within the realm of nature that reflect a sense of place so transparently.  I do not like wines that are confusing to the variety or soda pop style manufactured.  I prefer personality to perfection and Pinot Noir speaks to me best.
  10. What’s your favorite innovation in the wine industry over the past few years?
    • Not so much an innovation, but a reinvestment in native fermentation.  I think with certain vineyard blocks over time there can be discernible consistency of savory components that mark the wine when a natural fermentation has been allowed to start.  The alcohol intolerant native yeast species certainly do not finish the fermentation but they do leave their unique profile on the wine that emerges.   We have embraced more native ferments lately.
  11. What’s your favorite food and wine pairing?
    • Fresh caught abalone and Moniker Chardonnay.  It’s locavore heaven.
  12. What are your interests outside of the wine business?
    • Surfing is a huge love of mine.  I see it as the purest form of interaction with Mothers Natures whims.  Surfing gives a workout physically and emotionally, but always leaves me feeling like a kid again.  We are lucky to be close to coastline that offers up some stellar swell without huge crowds.
  13. Who inspires you (wine business or outside of it, doesn’t matter)?
    • Guys like Charlie Barra and Paul Draper who got into wines and wine growing, found their style and have stuck with over all these years of trends, fashions and technological advancements in winemaking and agricultural inputs.  It says something of the people who have stuck to their guns and remained successful and respected.
  14. What single project or task would you consider your most significant accomplishment in your career to date?
    • I was going to say my two sons, but you did specify “career”.  The Moniker Wines are a huge achievement for me as they are the first luxury brand that I got to call the shots on.  Bob was kind enough to give me carte blanche on selecting my blenders and I enjoy the challenge the bar the brand has set for me to reach.
  15. For what would you like to be remembered?
    • In the wine world I would like to be remembered for making wines that made people recognize the abundance of character that Mendocino County’s vineyards are capable of.

Go, Mark!


Event,Oregon,Oregon Pinot Gris,Wine

Oregon Pinot Gris is getting its Gris On, Redux

Oregon Pinot Gris is once more Getting its Gris on, with a statewide tasting to celebrate this varietal wine.

Oregon, Get Your Gris On!™ is wine and food nibble tasting event for consumers and is happening at wineries that want to join the fun, on Saturday and Sunday, September 27 and 28, 2014.

The second largest grape variety being grown in the state of Oregon continues to be Pinot Gris, and Oregon wineries continue to want to build on the strengths of this grape variety:

STRENGTHS of Oregon Pinot Gris

  • Oregon is an perfect appellation, for place of origin
  • Pinot Gris a perfect partner for Oregon Pinot Noir lovers
  • The hallmarks of this variety are purity of fruit, acidity, and brightness
  • It’s an extremely aromatic variety
  • Price works well in restaurants for their by-the-glass program
  • Pinot Gris is an excellent wine for seafood, fish, and certain cheese
  • Oregon Pinot Gris’ palate texture is full and long, versus the Pinot Grigio style
  • It’s a perfect “entry” wine for tasting room customers

As a result, an Oregon Pinot Gris weekend has been created, and consumers can, for the second year in a row, get ready for “Get Your Gris On!™” fun.

So far, the following wineries are committed to Getting Their Gris On!

  • Christopher Bridge
  • Naked Winery Hood River
  • Naked Winery Bend
  • Oak Knoll Winery
  • Pudding River

If you’re an Oregon Winery and want to Get Your Gris On, on September 27 and 28, please just send an Email to me at jo@diaz-communications.com and I’ll list you, too.


Food & Wine,Wine

Salads with wine pairings? Seriously?

You might ask, salads with wine pairings? Seriously?

Yes, I’m here to tell you that it not only works, but it works really well.

When I was working at a winery in the Sierras, we had a chef that worked there every day. It was he who turned me on to the fact that we can enjoy a wine with a leafy salad. I have to admit that I wouldn’t have believed it, if I hadn’t tried it. It works.

This chef’s salad was very basic, in fact; making it simply delicious.

I’ve adapted what he created to my own very basic recipe. The trick is to balance the vinegar’s acid in your dressing with a sweetness from honey and your wine. Then be sure that you have something sweet in your salad, too, like mandarin oranges, cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, etc..


  • Boston Lettuce
  • Edible flower, if in season (nasturtiums, violet, star flower, cucumber blossoms, etc.)
  • Endives (in a circle around your bowl)
  • Mandarin orange slices (dried cranberries or blueberries would also work well, too)
  • Green onions (or chives)
  • Toasted almonds (walnuts or pecans would also work)


  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • A pinch of freshly crushed sea salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of honey
  • 3 teaspoons of wine (that you’ll also be having with this salad)
  • 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup light extra virgin olive oil


For your choice of wines… Think about wines that a bit of residual sugar in them, so that their floral characteristics remain. Some have more than others, so you’ll have to experiment. These wines all tend to be floral, like any the following. Every one would work well in your dressing. You’ll just have to decided which is your favorite:

  • Torrentés
  • Muscat
  • Gewurztraminer
  • Riesling
  • Symphony grape (a crossing of Muscat Canelli and Grenache Gris)
  • Niagara
  • American Concord
  • Müller-Thurgau (a crossing of Riesling with Madeleine Royale)

And, don’t forget, if you find a wine variety that has residual sugar, like a Chenin Blanc or even a Chardonnay, like the 2013 Pam’s Un-Oaked Chardonnay, from The Rubin Family of Wines*, you won’t have to go too far to find your wine. If you don’t have a favorite brand that has a white wine with residual sugar, an option for you is to order a wine from Oak Knoll Winery*, located in Willamette Valley, Oregon.

*I offer these examples, because I work with these brands and know what they taste like. If I had other samples sent to me, I’d be offering those too. I freely offer what I know.


Wine,Wine Blogger,Wine Writer

Looking for free wine writing content?

Free wine writing, does this happen anymore?

When wine blogging first got going, I got emails like this a lot, as a sign of the times… Bloggers wanting their names to become associated with wine sites, and they were willing to give away their content to build their credibility.

I’m not willing to write for free, except on my wine blog, as it turns out…It’s my wine career journal, for the most part. I’m not an armchair hobbyist; although, my wine blog is a hobby, because no one is paying me when I’m putting something onto my blog.

I usually write about wines, because they’re sent to me; but, rarely writing about wines that I work with. The reason I don’t write much about clients’ wines is because – even though  they’re great wines – it will seem biased.

Honestly, if the wine is crappy, I’m not going to be the publicist who will take on anything. If I don’t believe in something, I can’t advocate for it.

And, most importantly (thanks, Mort), I write about wine all day long, not just on my blog. I’m a wine professional (over two decades of writing about wine for private companies, and I’m paid pretty well). I’m not a newbie trying to prove myself. There’s too much history wrapped-up in what’s on my plate and how it got there. It’s free on my wine-blog.

While I don’t mind being aggregated, I’m just too busy to take on writing assignments as a hobby. I guess I have to state that more clearly on my Contact/Use page.

Here’s a classic example, for those of you looking for free content to enrich your sites.

Just aggregate…

Hi Jo,
We’re an internet wine retailer located in name-the-state. We’re in the process of restructuring our website to add some extra features. One of these new features will be a section devoted to Wine Blogs. I’d like to know if you’d be interested in either being a regular contributor to our blog section, or as an occasional guest blogger. We’re looking to build a solid following with contributing writers and share their ideas and opinions with our customer base. As far as content and how often you would like to submit an article, that is entirely up to you. With what we have going now, the product reviews and food pairings seem to be the most liked, but we would like to also expand on the topics a bit more. Any work submitted would immediately be posted to our blog section, as well as posted to all of our social media. Included would also be a link back to wine-blog.org and a link to your “about” page. Please feel free to respond to this email at your earliest convenience, so we can discuss the steps to go through to make this happen.

Just aggregate, people. It’s pretty painless.


Books,Flavors from the World of Wine,Food & Wine,Wine

Pairing Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen with delicious wines

Pairing Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen recipes with some recently tasted wines was a great education for me.

REMINDER from yesterday: Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen, published by Fair Winds and written by Joni Marie Newman, offers fresh ideas and flavor combinations for anyone, as it would for any vegan on the path of finding culinary satisfaction. The book is subtitled: 125 Comfort Food Classics, Reinvented with an Ethnic Twist!

Yesterday’s story of Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen and great wine pairings was an interesting writing process. First I tasted the wines, then I found the recipes for the perfect food to complement the wines. This is Part 2 of yesterday’s story.

Not only am I making food and wine pairing suggestions here, but I’m also telling you why these pairings are perfect for each other. Each wine, forgetting the vintage, comes from a winery that’s offering consistency, as best as it is able. So, when one vintage becomes unavailable, reach for the next. The essence of each wine will remain.

And, one more thing… I’ve not listed every single ingredient in these dishes. I just want you to get the essence; just as I’m not completely laboring about the flavors in these wines. I’m just going to give you the temptations.


To correspond with the chapters

  1. Sauce
    • Thai Peanut Sauce (page 21), to go with the adjoining recipe.
      • Based on peanut butter, which is very rich and creamy, a wine with great acidity will complement any foods that accompany this sauce.
    • Thai Peanut Chicken and Waffles (page 90)
      • This chicken recipe demonstrates how you can satisfy a vegan with just a waffle, while also offering your other guests who enjoy chicken a delicious and flavorful meal for all.
    • 2013 Pam’s Un-Oaked Chardonnay
      • I’ve chosen this one, because I know two things about it:
      • It was crafted for customers who asked winemaker Joe Freeman to craft a Chardonnay that has a bit of residual sugar in it, so they could make these kinds of pairings.
      • It’s a tad sweet, which means that it works well with dishes that have a bit of spice’s heat in them… Heat + sweet = complete.
  2. Hors d’Oeuvre
    • El Paso Egg Rolls (page 44)
      • Fresh jalapeno peppers, avocados, cilantro cumin, oregano a sesame sauce (included in the book) are screaming for a wine with guts and glory… I know just the one.
    • 2012 Robert Biale Vineyards Black Chicken Zinfandel
      • This wine has been around since Prohibition.
      • Aldo Biale, grape grower Bob Biale’s father, was making this wine, and when people wanted to buy it from him, they’d call and ask for the Black Chicken. CODE: A wine that’s got oomph in it. It will stand up to the spices and herbs listed above, made creamy by the sauce and avocado.
  3. Mélange in a Bowl
  4. Twisted Table
    • Wonton Wrapped Lasagna Napoleons (page 86)
      • Wontons that wrap up anything are great small bites.
      • Tomatoes, olive oil, Cotija-Style tofu crumbles (page 112), basil chiffonade, capers, kalamata olives, spiced ketchup (page 23)
      • Did we mention no cheese?
    • 2012 Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon Villages, by Michel Chapoutier
      • We’re running with a Rhone wine here… a bit gutsy, a lot tasty, a sumptuous pairing for an unusual food and wine experience… Heavy emphasis on the “un” in unusual.
      • The Les Vignes de Bila-Haut is a wine that I found to be extremely complex and tasty. The natural olives flavors found in the wine will perfectly complement the olive oil and kalamata olives in this recipe.
      • This combination will make you a culinary food and wine star.
      • Your guests will ask you when you went to the Culinary Institute.
  5. Nibble & Nosh
    • California Curtido Kimchi (page 107)
      • Shredded red and green Cabbage (OMG, do I dare?), baby bok choy, garlic, jalapenos, cilantro, celery, dill, paprika… (Yes, I do.)
    • 2012 Trivento Argentina Torrentés Reserve
      • Torrentés is one of my favorite white wines. It aromatic and floral, there’s a softness about it, and this one is a really delicious example.
      • This wine brings its fruit flavors together with vegetable flavors of the recipe: citrus fruits – orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit, with honeydew and apple.
      • Again, the sweet will help with the heat.
  6. Whet Your Whistle (this one is a cocktail)
    • Lemon-Lavender Green Tea Martini (page 135)
    • Speaks for itself
  7. A Sweet Finish
    • Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake Truffles (page 160)
      • Cocoa powder, apple cider, cinnamon, vanilla… all flavors that you’ll get in a Petite Sirah, with the exception of the apple cider. these flavors will create a seamless experience with a light and lively Petite Sirah.
    • 2012 Oak Grove Petite Sirah
      • It’s a young, simple Petite Sirah, the best entry Petite Sirah that I know… and it’s under ten dollars, so you’ve got very little to lose and everything to gain.


I believe this book will be one of the best additions to your cookbook collection. When it’s all said and done, my wine and cookbooks will never leave me in this lifetime. I schlepped many of them from Maine to California, costing a bundle in shipping fees. They’re the books of life. Treasure your moments with your food and wine books. They nurture us in immeasurable ways.



Books,Food & Wine,Rock n'Roll,Wine

Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen and great wine pairings

When Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen arrived, I wondered how limited the audience could be. Yeah… Not even.

If people think that being vegan lacks flavor or excitement, think again. Jose and I have really pared down the foods that we do eat, and he’s come to have even more discipline than I have. For most of our 30+ years together, it’s been the other way around, when it comes to food. When Jose becomes committed, however, we all just have to step out of the way.

While he’s not a vegan person, he’s still perfectly happy to explore the foods within this world, because now it’s all about finding new flavors. He’s eliminated so much from his diet that fresh ideas and flavor combinations are what he now craves. It’s no longer about quantity. It’s about quality, and he’s become pretty youthful again in this regard.

Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen, published by Fair Winds and written by Joni Marie Newman, offers fresh ideas and flavor combinations for anyone, as it would for any vegan on the path of finding culinary satisfaction. The book is subtitled: 125 Comfort Food Classics, Reinvented with an Ethnic Twist!

Yes, indeed.

And, if you’re not vegan, think of the book this way… It’s got the greatest, most unique vegetable dishes you’ll ever see in one place at one time. Consider your friends who come to visit for special occasions. You’ll never have to fret again.

I have an amusing life story that has to do with fretting and having a request for getting something together for a fellow vegetarian in the mid 70s. This story is a warning to never let something like this ever happen to you, by being unprepared.

Peter Frampton was coming to Lewiston, Maine to perform in a concert, which was being produced by my friend Andrew A Gavatsos. Because I was probably the only vegetarian that Andrew knew at the time in that area, I was asked to get something together for dinner for Peter. Honestly, if I had just stuck with what I knew… raw fruits, veggies, nuts, or a nice soup… I would have hit a home run. Instead, I thought that I had to “cook” something. With no internet and no vegetarian books, I got a recipe for cabbage in God only knows what cookbook I had. I was eating mostly raw foods at the time… Not cooking for myself and my daughter. What I didn’t know is that this was a recipe for sour kraut… Yeah, it was that bad, but I didn’t know it, because I had never cooked it, or even eaten it.

Oh my gawd…. I actually delivered it to Andrew and he brought it to Peter. From what I heard, it hit the wall.  Thankfully, I wasn’t there to take a bow, or not…

So, for you, my dear friends, you don’t want to make this mistake. Keep a great book around with flavorful, substantial foods that a vegetarian or vegan might enjoy. (Anything in this book will also satisfy a vegetarian, without it also hitting the wall).

Favorites for me are below, and I’ve also paired them with recently tasted wines. This will give you an idea of what will work for food and wine pairings for these dishes, if someone is so inclined.

And, by the way, I did meet Peter Frampton later in the 80s, and took this picture; but, I didn’t mention the sour kraut, for all of the obvious reasons. (Sorry, Peter.)

Tomorrow, I’m going to publish my favorite food and wine pairings from this book and recently tasted wine, corresponding to one dish from each chapter. I first thought of the wine, then picked a dish. Get ready for some really tasty treats.


Opinion,Wine,Wine Blogger,Wine Business,Wine Writer

Some common misconceptions about wine blogs + reality checks

The following are some are common misconceptions about wine blogs, and I’m taking it a step further by presenting a reality check to go along with each misconception. This is coming from a seasoned wine pro, who is also blogging. Additionally, I’m very aware of the cadre of wine writers who’ve come before many of the next generation, which is priding itself on being up to speed. The floodgates were opened, when Web 2.0 launched everyone and anyone (including me) into being an online publisher. True credentials will come after a decade, as it’s proving itself to be true and correct.

How I got to this subject is pretty interesting, I think, so I’m going to share it.

I had just finished two wine blog stories. I write on weekends, because during the week, I have to write for clients. That’s my day job, my blog is my hobby and “escape.” Still, I like to have five blog stories, one for each day, ready for the following week. I may get a zinger during the week, and not be able to hold back. Mostly, though, they get put together on my weekends.

Back to “after the two stories.” I decided I’d go to Facebook and ask the question: “I feel like writing one more blog post today. I just finished two of them, but am lost for what next to write. Anyone have any suggestions?”

My life guide, mentor, love of my life Jose Diaz, gave this link to me: HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator. Jose spends his days keeping informed in all things related to the internet. He’s everybody’s fix it doctor when their sites are having problems, and he’ll get to the bottom of it. Failing is not one of his options. Those who know him love him as much as I do in this regard, and can’t imagine their websites existing without his help. And, he’s very responsive. Last night, he was repairing a client’s site that had been hacked… on a Friday night, well after hours.  Imagine your own IT guy, 24/7… Yeah, that’s our Jose.

So, I went to the site, and after entering three nouns (wine, blog, and lifestyle) it suggested  A Week of Blog Topics, Just for You

  1. 14 Common Misconceptions About Wine
  2. What Will blog Be Like in 100 Years?
  3. 10 Signs You Should Invest in lifestyle
  4. Tools Everyone in the Wine Industry Should Be Using
  5. Things Your Competitors Can Teach You About blog


I chose number one, but modified the number and added reality checks, in order to help others, not just leaving them hanging. It may also help other wine bloggers, who want to write about substance and give you a broader audience than your own peer group. It’s been discussed that wine bloggers write for other wine bloggers. While this may be true, think about how Robert Parker became so famous. He was writing as an authority about that which he was experiencing firsthand, and sharing with family and friends… Not writing for other wine writers.

  1. It’s important for wine bloggers to write for other wine bloggers.
    • No, it’s not.
    • Your area of influence will be gained outside of this circle, from family and friends, who will learn from you.
  2. They will someday be well monetized.
    • Don’t plan to quit your day job any time soon.
  3. If you’re a wine publicist, you can’t write about your clients, too.
    • You can and you should.
    • It’s what you know best.
  4. People won’t consider you a hack for writing about your clients.
    • They will, unless you put your client into context of what you’ve learned.
    • Along with… who and why you’ve included your client into that particular story.
  5. If you’re a private contractor, someone will hire you so you’ll be blogging about him or her.
    • You may or may not.
    • It’s your choice, not your client’s.
  6. You will be writing about your clients.
    • Maybe you will.
    • And maybe you won’t.
  7. It will have you be considered a wine pro in no time.
    • Any “pro” is considered such after much study and hard work.
    • It’s not like you’ve just studied to become a wine expert.
    • However, if you just got some creds (like Master Sommelier or Master of Wine), then you’re going to get there a lot faster.
  8. Simply writing about the wine you just tasted is a compelling read.
    • This is the main reason that samples aren’t being doled out the way they used to be.
    • Add some history to what you’ve written, your story will then have a bit of depth to it as a real story.
  9. “Page Views” is a compelling number.
    • Sorry… a huge amount of page views is coming from Google and other search engines, roaming your site and optimizing certain words, like “wine.”
    • Ergo… it can view a lot of your pages, every single day, adding the same word over and over again that it’s there.
    • It’s unique visitors to your site, minus search engines, that tell you how many people are really reading your stories each day.
  10. Wine blogs are so important.
    • Only to your unique visitors, so do the right math to really understand how many people are really reading your blog.
    • This will have you write what your true visitors are really interested in reading.


For instance… I know that I’m aggregated by wine industry news websites. They’re part of my audience, so I know that I’m writing for professionals within the wine business. But also, I know that I have many consumer friends who are reading my blog. I consider both of these audiences as equally important.

I also know that very few wine bloggers are reading my blog stories, because I don’t write to or for them. I wouldn’t even begin to know what they’d want to see, besides my recommending them as blogs to read within my own audience. After that’s been done a couple of times, and it has, one must move on, n’est ce pas?



The First Global Village ~ How Portugal Changed the World, by Martin Page

Map of Portuguese districts with names
Image via Wikipedia

When a book arrives on one’s doorstep as a gift, it has not only come from the sender, but it’s also arrived from the universe as a token of change and an opportunity for expansive knowledge. This is what The First Global Village by Martin Page became for me.

Before it arrived, my understanding of Portugal was extremely minimal; having never been there, nor ever having studied Portugal’s past or present, in my life time. I grew up in Lewiston, Maine. Southeast of that city is Lisbon and then Lisbon Falls – a place where the Androscoggin River rages during the spring, and a rock formation caused a natural waterfall. Once I realized that Lisbon was the capital of Portugal, it had a very quiet, subliminal influence on my life, but nothing that drove to me to get to the depths of the small western European country.

Once in the wine business, I found myself researching Port for the obvious reasons. Beyond that reason, I had a completely empty slate. So, it is with great gratitude that I mention Delfim Costa of Enoforum Wines for sending Martin Page’s book to me, which has allowed me to expand my world view a bit more. Delfim is Portuguese, and we met at the Wine Bloggers Conference in 2008.

The title really tells it like it is, because of Portugal’s multicultural contributions to the world, much of it includes a food and wine lifestyle. According to Martin Page, the following are examples of Portuguese influences around the globe:

  • Portuguese Jesuits lived in Japan for generations before our ancestors knew of this, introducing words into the Japanese language; e.g., “orrigato,” which means “thank you.” They brought the recipe for tempura. They introduced the technique for gun manufacturing. The Portuguese also taught the Japanese how to construct buildings that would withstand artillery attack and earthquakes.
  • The chili plant was brought to India, allowing “curry” to be invented.
  • Portuguese is the third most spoken language in Europe (English, Spanish, then Portuguese), even before French and German. It’s the language of cattle ranchers in northern California and fishing communities on the New England coast line…. Both of which I have personal experiences.
  • The Portuguese own and operate over 400 restaurants in Paris as Italian trattorias.
  • Sintra, Portugal, has been an attraction for writers’ inspiration for generations; e.g., Henry Fielding, Robert Southey, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Lord Byron, Ian Fleming, Graham Greene, Christoper Isherwood, W. H. Auden.
  • When the Arabs arrived, they brought with them bananas, coconuts, sugar cane, oil palms, maize and rice, lettuce, onions, carrots, cucumbers, apples, pears, wine grapes, and figs… All part of a Mediterranean diet.

Their foods and irrigation system for watering is still studied today by northern European medical researchers for clues to what makes their heart-healthy such a study lot.

Irrigation, which was driven by water wheels, was brought to Portugal from Alexandria. This act created a technological revolution, the likes of which had never been seen in Europe prior to the Arabs arriving. This allowed for the crops mentioned above to be farmed and successfully introduced.

In a historical time-line, Portugal has had pivotal dates and people, which have affected their country; and, in a trickle-down effect, world civilization. This book’s chapters outline the dates and people who migrated to Portugal, giving it such a varied culture. Each transformation, as adapted, has added rich fibers to the tapestry threads of these fascinating people of today.

On New Year’s Day, my resolution was to learn the Portuguese culture, which was inspired by this book. The titles of the chapters indicate each invasion and the ethnic traditions left behind as a result. To read these titles puts into perspective how the last (nearly) 3,000 years, Portugal became a nation set apart from all others, and yet has so many links to the past that many people can identify with the Portuguese of today.

  1. From Jonah to Julius Caesar (700 BC )
  2. Rome on the Atlantic (55 BC)
  3. Rise & Fall of Christianity (212 AD)
  4. Arabs Bring Civilization to Europe (712)
  5. The Christian Reconquest (1126)
  6. The Cistercian Peace
  7. Prince Henry the Misadventure
  8. King João and the Great Adventure
  9. Pêro da Covilhã: Master Spy
  10. Vasco da Gama and the Lord of the Oceans
  11. India and Beyond
  12. The Golden Age of Lisbon; Disaster Abroad
  13. The Coming of the Inquisition; The Departure of the Jews
  14. Freedom Regained
  15. Pombal and the King: A duet in Megalomania
  16. Playground of the great Powers
  17. The fall of the House of Braganca
  18. The Slide to Dictatorship
  19. World War II: Betrayal and hte Fight for Freedom
  20. Freedom at Dawn

“Why were there so many invaders?” you might ask. The answer is quite simple. The first invaders discovered that this is a country rich in minerals, most especially gold and silver. the lure of gold has always set men into a frenzy of need to own.

It all begins in the Bible with a story we’ve all heard. When Jonah was sent to Nineveh to tell the sinners that God was angry, he didn’t want to go, and bought a ticket – supposedly – beyond God’s reach. Soon after the ship sailed, a violent storm erupted, and the captain and crew threw Jonah overboard. He was swallowed by a whale, and then spit out onto land. It was Portugal where he landed. Jonah traveled on to Tarshish, which today survives as a name of a small town in Spain, which is only 3 miles and 1281.6 yards from the border of Portugal.

By 230 BC, Hamilcar (father) was exiled to Tarshish. He took his son Hannibal (who was eight years old at the time, and wanted to go with his father). This was a costly mistake, as Hannibal would avenge his father by crossing the Apennines Mountains, win a major battle, and march toward Rome…

And so, their history begins, changing the pastoral landscape of a quiet people, who have managed to remain peaceful through all time, regardless of whom was the next to invade their homeland. The Portuguese were open to the civilization refinements that were delivered to them during each invasion. Along the way, they created the Institution of Good Men (in the 700s), which still exists today. A social consciousness was created whereby widows and orphans are cared for, social welfare for all was created and has been maintained, all duties of the town are seen as everyone’s responsibility – including fire fighting – and are as independent and self sufficient as some parts of the United State might be. It is a daily way of life, however, in Portugal throughout the country, not just pockets of social consciousness that we might find in successful regions of rural America today. Imagine – for instance – if this were our complete and utter culture during Hurricane Katrina. One neighboring town would not have closed out its neighbor in need. Our country would not have wondered what to do for a week, all the wheels would have begun turning without regard for anything else.

There is a lot to be learned from The First Global Village. Martin Page moved to Portugal for a reason, and I can only image as his eyesight failed during his last years, this culture would have made his disability more manageable, with a tolerant people, great food, and excellent wine.

My life is enriched by this Portuguese culture, which I plan to continue studying through Delfim’s eyes. The universe has delivered an amazingly adventurous opportunity to my life.

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Alexander Valley,Cabernet Sauvignon,Movie,Sonoma County,Wine

Get On Up: James Brown moment + a lifetime memory + a befitting wine

Get On Up… What a chant…

It’s no secret that I have a rock n’ roll background, long before I moved to California and segued into wine. Our friend Corinne Reichel of Respite Wines just asked us, before seeing the movie  Get On Up, “Did you ever meet James Brown?” Ask about most rock and roll artists, and the answer is a probable “yes.” Jose said, “No, but Jo’s got a good story.” So, I told it to her.

In the 1980s, we were at the annual New Music Seminar in New York City. It was being held in the Marriott Marquis, which had just opened, but not even their theatre was completed yet… So, it was very, very new. As Jose and I were headed out of the building, having just gone down the escalator from the second floor, we were waiting for the revolving door to stop revolving as people were flooding into the lobby. The last person to come through the door left me looking dumbfounded, right into the person’s face.  James Brown swept right into the building… right in front of me by a couple of feet. I must have had that look on my face of, “Oh my gawd… James Brown.”

But, I didn’t say anything, because I was far from star struck, being on the inside of that business. He was just another performer, but it was the unexpectedness of it being James Brown and that talent I did respect. It was just a shocking realization that I recognized the person just standing in front of me, who was someone larger than life.

He looked at me, shot that affable smile, and then grunted, “Huh!” right at me.

I burst out laughing and left the building… It’s not a moment that’s easily forgotten

“Get On Up!”

“Based on the incredible life story of the Godfather of Soul, the film will give a fearless look inside the music, moves and moods of James Brown, taking audiences on the journey from his impoverished childhood to his evolution into one of the most influential figures of the 20th century.”

Corinne had suggested the movie to us, which was playing in Sebastopol at the Rialto. Leave it to Corrine to turn me onto yet somewhere else new, in this case, the Rialto.. She was the third women in a string of talented wine women at Belvedere Winery to understand my potential, and let me get busy.

  • Lavonne Holmes hired me to work in the tasting room.
  • Katrina Morss Commesso took me into the marketing department as her communications coordinator.
  • And when Corinne Reichel came in as the marketing director, she understood what we could do together.
    • We turned around the financial books, while ripping up the road nationally.
    • I ended up with about eight states, which now had sales efforts, beside the communications coordinator position.
    • Traveled to 40 states, in the effort.

It was a golden period, and to this very day Corinne still offers so much opportunity to me and my family. People like Corinne are really hard to find in life. She just came into mine; so, when she asked if Jose and I’d like to go see a movie with her, I made myself get out of my own way. I said, “Yes.” (My house flood is really hard to push past right now, until it’s completely rebuilt… gaping ceiling holes in my office, raw floor boards, etc. It’s easy to get sucked into nothingness, and it’s almost two months to the day of the disaster.)

When Corinne came into my life, she talked about her Reichel Vineyards in Alexander Valley. The family was, and still is, farming it.

Our 20 acre south-facing vineyard is located northeast of Cloverdale in the Alexander Valley Appellation from 2,300′ to 2,500′ in elevation. It is owned by Corinne and Charles Reichel and is part of a 400 acre ranch that was originally purchased in 1948 by Corinne’s grandfather.

Like a myriad of growers before them, they just had to get their grapes made into a wine… And they pulled out of the stops, when they hired Denis and May-Britt Malbec.

A vibrant, husband and wife team briefly:

Having been born and raised at Latour, Denis has deep viticultural and wine making roots with Château Latour of Pauillac.
May-Britt is a European Master Sommelier, who has won the Prince Henri-Melchior de Polignac award, for best sommelier in the Nordic countries.

This is how you make a wine that has a lot of soul, by hiring a king of Bordeaux’s winemaking royalty…

And, this is why I’d chosen to enjoy Respite Cabernet Sauvignon, while watching this movie outside of a movie theater (since you can’t bring it into one)… This is my befitting wine, while enjoying the journey of the King of Soul. someday, it will be “in the house” as I watch Get OnUp on NetFlix (or whatever), while enjoying the King of Soul Cabernet by Respite.


Jo's World,Wine

99 Bottles of Wine On the Wall, it’s no longer a joke

It’s easy to joke about 99 Bottles of Wine on the Wall, when you’ve got it going on. I’ve been doing it for years.

We got this wine storage unit from a client as payment, years ago. I loved it when I got it… Who wouldn’t?

In July 8, a pipe burst in our upstairs bathroom. I put it on Facebook… you know how we all share the good, the bad, and the indifferent, right? Robert Whitely, wine writer and author of Whitley on Wine, as well as managing several wine competitions, got back to me. He had been at one of his wine competitions when his pipe burst on his third floor, and he wasn’t even home at the time. He shared that it was $120,000 worth of damage.

“Good gawd” is what I thought. Surely it won’t be that much for us, most especially since it was only two floors worth of flooding. How it happened is that little plastic screw attachment from the hose that connects to the toilet bowl, which emanates from the wall connection, simply breaks after its five year guarantee. (Be forewarned, it’s the number one insurance claim for house flooding, according to our insurance company.)

Well, from the insurance company’s initial thoughts of $10,000 worth of damage, our costs have now settled into $70,000 total, for all things related to this house flood…

This is pretty much in keeping with Robert’s flood, if each floor will be damaged $30,000 per floor, right?

So, do I feel for Napa after the quake? Most assuredly and most especially since it’s now eight weeks later, and we’re perhaps getting to the reconstruction part of this internal catastrophe some time soon.

Meanwhile, we’re living in what looks like a war zone, with everything pulled apart, wires exposed as if construction was going on; and Child Protective Services would be pulling children from our home, if we had any foster kids living with us.

Which brings me back to 99 bottles of wine on the wall. This wine rack, which is 11 bottles of wine across each row and is nine rows high, was constructed as someone’s private joke, I’ve long felt. But now it’s serious work to pack it all, move it into storage, so that the carpets can be replaced throughout the first floor and much of the second floor of this house. Yeah, the carpets became sponges during the flood, with a lot of it being cut away so that the floors could be professionally dried out. Imagine four huge dehumidifier and 20+ heat air fans running 24/7 for six days, heating your home to a toasty 90 degrees, and the doors and windows have to stay closed, and you begin to get the picture for why you want to call in your wine country plumber to set your house straight, like ASAP if you’ve not been checked out in more than five years.

It’s very hard to imagine what went on.

Think about 67 bath tubs filled with water, and that water pouring into a bathroom over the course of a few hours…

This is calculated from our water bill for what is normal for us, and what spiked on that day (2,997 gallons) divided by how much water it takes to fill a bath tub (45 gallons), and you come up with 66.666666666 bathtubs full of water just thrown into a small room.

So today, I have to pack it all up, put it away, and wait for the movers to haul it away, put into storage, get the floors re-carpeted, have it taken from storage, hauled back in, and place the 99 bottles of wine back onto the wall, like nothing ever happened… Including getting off all of the dust I’ve let accumulate, for the sake of not touching the wine and giving it that ‘hip” look… all while getting my work commitments done. Dang!

Some day, 99 bottles of wine on the wall will be a joke again, but not for a while.