Vineyards,VIT 101,Viticulture,Wine

Sustainable Viticulture ~ Vine Health Made Simple

Growing up with a grandmother who made it through the Great Depression had (and still has) its advantages; many of them having to do with being sustainably sound; i.e., growing all of her own foods for the summer, winter, and spring months… from growing to canning, freezing, pickling, and making jams and jellies. I even remember her making her own soap, in the basement of their three story house in Maine (really four stories, because they had a basement, too). It was a big house that she kept immaculate as a homemaker, sewing all of her (and some of my) clothing. My grandparents went square dancing, and she made matching outfits for my grandfather and her… She was a hoot, who thought cowboy and Indian movies on TV were violent, but didn’t stop us from watching them. She just voiced her opinion.

I lived in her garden during the summer, eating as many strawberries and raspberries as I could find, wondering “Why does she grew so many marigolds?” Today, my garden is also full of marigolds, to keep away the aphids.

One time my grandfather gave root beer a try. The bottles of root beer exploded all over the basement one night, so she kept him out of the sustainable efforts after that… Except that I have many memories about wild berry picking with him, which he’d bring back to my grandmother. Part of them went into a berry cake (instant gratification), while the rest went into jams and jellies.

Meanwhile, I find myself thinking much the way Mimi did. If it’s not a natural product, I don’t need or want it. GMO products really anger me, for instance.

So, getting a very quick email, not one filled with frilly press release hype, just a simple, “Looking to get the word out on our new pruning sealer, Safecoat VitiSeal. Here’s our site www.vitiseal.com. Can you help?”

It really made me curious. Of course I thought, “Okay, what’s this about?” I clicked on the link and found the title:

Vine Health Made Simple
A Revolutionary Treatment for Grapevine Diseases

Safecoat VitiSeal™ is the ONLY Biological and Natural approach rated 4 stars – “excellent and consistent” – in efficacy against Eutypa in UC Davis’s recent “The Conventional Approach to Disease Control – Fungicides, Bactericides and Biologicals for Deciduous Tree Fruit, Nut, Strawberry and Vine Crops 2012.”

Ah yes…. A biological – bio + “logical” and natural…

I’m all for sustain+ability, and wish there were more old souls out there to also help protect and preserve our planet, so my hat’s off to Safecoat VitiSeal™, and I’m really pleased to advocate for Jay Watts, who reached out to me.

This is not an advertisement, it’s an endorsement, because our mutual principles are intertwined…. From the site: “Excessive fungicide use can negatively impact the land and lead ultimately to disease resistance.”

For my vit friends:

Vineyards world-wide are afflicted with ascopores, air-borne fungal pathogens. These fungi infect over 80 plant species around the world. While Eutypa has historically been the most predominant canker causing grapevine trunk diseases, in a recent survey of cankers found in vineyards in 21 California counties, Botryosphaeria spp.was the most commonly isolated fungus. (Urbez-Torres et al., 2006).

Bot cankers and Eutypa lata infect grapevines through pruning wounds during the dormant season by means of ascospores released from perithecia after rainfall. Canker diseases inhibit production and ultimately render the vine or tree useless. If cankers are not removed, the entire vine eventually dies.

Please head to VitaSeal’s site to read more; or, Email jwatts@afmsafecoat.com for more information.

Please consider the environment, for the sake of your (and my) great grandchildren…


Vitiseal International Introduces Unique Crop Management Tool, Breakthrough In Vine Health Science

Safecoat® VitiSeal™ is a natural waterborne co-polymer emulsion with other NOP approved ingredients designed to assist growers in the battle against grapevine canker diseases, which cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damage and crop loss each year. Vineyards worldwide are afflicted with air-borne fungal pathogens which harm the plants and inhibit production, including infection by Eutypa lata (also known as Eutypa dieback) and Botryosphaeria canker. Bot cankers and Eutypa lata infect grapevines through pruning wounds during the dormant season by means of ascospores released from perithecia after rainfall, and ultimately render the vine or tree useless. Significant fruit and income loss occurs during this process. Traditional synthetic fungicides typically used to treat Eutypa dieback and Bot cankers must be reapplied every 10 to 14 days during the pruning season, as well as after rain, incurring prohibitive labor and product costs. In addition, excessive fungicide use negatively impacts the land and can lead ultimately to disease resistance.

Safecoat® VitiSeal™ is not a toxic fungicide, but rather a unique crop management tool that creates a protective resistant barrier against the typical point of entry for wood canker diseases including Eutypa dieback and Botryosphaeria Canker. VitiSeal™ is applied, typically only once per season, either through painting, daubing or spraying directly over pruning cuts onto vines, trunks, and tree bases. The proprietary formulation is water based, environmentally safe containing no hazardous materials or HAPs (hazardous air pollutants), has no re-entry wait restrictions after treatment, and presents no risks of bioaccumulation.

Reporting on over two years of both in vivo and in vitro testing in the plant pathology labs and test sites at UC Davis, the most recent UCIPM report on “Fungicides, Bactericides, and Biologicals for Deciduous Tree Fruit, Nut, Strawberry, and Vine Crops 2012” listed Safecoat® VitiSeal™ as the only biological and natural product deserving of 4 stars – “excellent and consistent” – in treatment against eutypa in grapevines. VitiSeal™ has similarly been tested on cherry trees, receiving the same exclusive 4 star rating rating. See p.36 (grapevines) and p.32 (cherries), http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PDF/PMG/fungicideefficacytiming.pdf.

“Safecoat(r) VitiSeal(tm) RTU consists primarily of natural and organic materials, Safecoat(r) VitiSeal(tm) should be suitable for use by organic and biodynamic growers.”

Safecoat® VitiSeal™ is available either in a gallon concentrate, which can be diluted in the field to make 10 gallons, or a ready to use (RTU) version, consisting primarily of natural and organic materials.

Safecoat® VitiSeal™ is available through Crop Production Services and Wilbur-Ellis. For more information, visit www.vitiseal.com.

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Amenities, Supplies, Services,Award,Marketing,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Education,Wine Related Products

Enolytics ~ Lightbulb Moments about Big Data for Wine

Enolytics ~ Important Lightbulb Moments

Still our shining star for 2017: on January 9, 2017, Jose and I were pleased to award Cathy Huyghe our 2016 Diaz Communications Innovator Award. It’s now six months later and the continuing communications from Cathy reaffirms that we were right on the money with this one.

Enolytics’ commitment is to bring the power of big data to the wine industry.  And they’re doing a great job. They have such vast amount of data available, and they’re pulling it all together, across multiple platforms, building unique, powerful, and complete views of wine consumer sentiment and behavior. This is their mission statement (slightly made into present tense). And I’m highly recommending Enolytics’ services, for any wine company (regardless of size), which knows big data drives their future successes.

I’ve asked Cathy a couple of times if I could share some of her weekly material, then I go get crazy busy with clients. I have to reel myself back in, when I get so far out there that I have to remember my commitment to this blog, as the wine journal of a wine publicist. I do love journaling this adventure. There’s so much going on all of the time.

Today, I’m on it, Enolytics!

According to Cathy Huyghe, of Enolytics.com, “If you were eavesdropping on a conversation I had with a winery this week, you would have heard something like this…”

Winery: We need to identify new customers for selling our wines DTC [Direct To Consumer]. One of the problems is that it’s hard to tell how widely recognized our brand is, especially in relation to other wines in our category.

Enolytics: That’s a good place to start.

Winery: We have a pretty good idea of how our current customers feel about our wines, so we could use that positive language to also talk with new customers. But naturally we need to understand what new consumers think.

Enolytics: What are your ideas for that?

Winery: Well, would your data partners be willing to do a survey within their platform, to help us understand the perception of our brand among consumers who are already wine enthusiasts?

Enolytics: It depends on the personality and the priorities of the partner. Some of them could do that, yes, and others would not.

Winery: Hmm.

Enolytics: Here’s another way to look at it. We believe that consumer opinions about your wines already exist within the data that’s available. So for us it isn’t about doing a new survey. It’s more about tapping into the digital trail that consumers have been leaving for several years now, and that they add to every day.

Winery: How would that work, logistically?

Enolytics: Logistically, we’d home in on the questions you need answered, and fine-tune them so that our queries of the data yield insights that are directly actionable for you.

Winery: And then?

Enolytics: Then we work with the partners whose data is best suited to respond to the queries. We package and analyze the data ourselves until we have answers for you, or else we develop an interactive dashboard for you to slice and dice it on our own.

Winery: Could you show me what that looks like…?

And so on…

Here’s the point: a lot of my daily work is dedicated to these types of conversations, that educate wine businesses on the potential of big data.

I’m noticing a pattern of light bulb moments, including the one that’s in bold, above: consumer sentiment about particular wines already exists. We just need to know where to look, and how to get to that data.

PS Today’s post, and the whole Enolytics 101 series, is over on our website.

That’s what she’s there to do. If you’re at all curious, please let her know, if she can help your business, too.

Contact Info

Cathy Huyghe, co-founder of Enolytics, cathy@enolytics.com or +1.702.528.3717


Oregon,Pinot Noir,Wine,Wine of the Week,Winemaking,Winery

Wine of the Week: Evolution Wines ~ Constantly Evolving

Mindful tasting is paying attention to the flavor, smell, and texture of a wine, and noticing how it makes you feel. Writing about wine, given these parameters, then becomes a lot of fun. Evolution Wine is here to deliver the party to the party…

E Wines’ Philosophy

Since its introduction by Dundee, Oregon based Sokol Blosser Winery in 1998, Evolution has evolved into something of a phenomenon. Its fan base gives meaning to the word “loyal” and is spread all over North America, Europe and Asia. At the time, there were very few white blends on the market, and Evolution tapped into the niche that would become an important segment of the wine business. As word spread and Evolution made the rounds, it enjoyed extraordinary popularity. The packaging and the price have attracted drinkers more interested in great tasting wine, affordability and having a good time than trying to impress friends at the next dinner party.

Our goal is to make a wine that appears simple – easy drinking, relaxing – but in reality is quite complex.

While Millennials might take issue with this describing them, it surely is who they are becoming… loyal (when they like it), having a great time with wine (always), a complex blend of “Not Your Daddy’s Chardonnay.” It all works really well for them, and for me.

So, here we go with some Evolving

Evolution Big Tine Red, 5th Edition… This is a non vintage wine. In my world, Non Vintage wines begin when a winemaker has some wine and it needs a bottle. Then the planning begins, regardless of vintages being blended into the wine. It makes for some crazy good wine, I’ve learned, being in on that kind of process as a wine marketer years ago. Being a Fifth Edition, this one has become a great playground, with an ever evolving landscape. This vintage’s recipe includes Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Syrah, and a touch of Evolution White. How many of us have tasted a Montepulciano, when it’s so much easier to say, “I’ll have the Pinot.” It’s the most adventurous, I’d say.

SIDEBAR: Very European vineyard… In an ancient vineyard, vines are blended. This gave a wine a consistent structure. Each red vineyard always had a few white vines thrown in for good measure and great flavors.

For years, after creating Evolution Lucky No. 9 White, fans of this wine wanted a yang to that yin. Evolution Big Time Red was created. This 5th Edition is a really delicious wine. This is a very food friendly wine and went down – almost – a bit too easily.

Non-Vintage Evolution Big Time Red, 5th Edition

Traditionally, non vintage wines let a winemaker take wine from here and there and make it work. The ingredients for this one are really fun:

  • Sangiovese
  • Montepulciano
  • Syrah
  • A touch of Evolution White

Perfect for a Millennial generation, a bit of this, a bit of that, a bit of the next thing… a winemakers delight. Well, my delight, too. A really easy drinking wine. With 14 percent alcohol, it’s got a little bit of oomph, yet still works really well with fancy foods.

2015 Evolution Pinot Noir… This is a delightful Pinot and ready for all occasions. Oregon Pinots from Willamette Valley are very special. The 13 percent alcohol has a lot to do with its perfectly balanced flavors. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want from a Pinot Noir is “heat.” There’s not any ‘heat” with this wine; just soft, very well rounded plum flavors. You don’t have to think twice about this wine: See it, buy it, enjoy it… with or without food, it’s classic Oregon Pinot Noir.

According to their winemaker notes: 2015 was a year that you truly felt the earth is heating up. We had record heat growing degree days, almost 3000. (2200-2300 is normal), which helped us rack up the earliest bud break ever, the earliest bloom ever, and one of the earliest harvest dates ever (1992 was earlier…).

Sparkling wine from Oregon?

A new one for me, I had to admit. (I guess I don’t get out much?) So this was intriguing.

How was it? Evolution Sparkling Wine was a delightful surprise. I really shouldn’t have been surprised, though. I first met people from Sokol Blosser Winery, the parent company, when I was producing Pinot Gris symposiums for our client Oak Knoll Winery. The winemaking team was knowledgeable and very credible. So, to shift gears into non-vintage Méthode Champenois, why not, when it’s this yummy? I suggest you try their tiny bubbles for yourself.

Evolution Sparkling wants you to celebrate all of the time.

Who says sparkling wine should only be opened on special occasions? And what exactly is the definition of a special occasion? Exactly. Well we’re here to tell you that the act of celebration has evolved and things have changed. With the launch of Evolution Sparkling, you can now celebrate everything all the time. Sun came up? Celebrate. Sun went down? Celebrate. Someone invited you over for Beef Wellington or beef sliders? Bring a bottle and celebrate. Think about it. Anything can be celebrated, if you put your mind to it. So from now on, just remember this simple rule: When in doubt, celebrate!

This sparking wine is great for moments like:

  • We’re engaged!
  • We’re going to have a baby!
  • I’m getting a puppy!
  • I got a 4.0 this semester!
  • It stopped raining!
  • The snow is melting!

I could go on… you get the point. For us, it was dance night, and the bubbles made it more fun. According to E Evolution ~ Pop. Pour. Celebrate.



Summer Reading ~ Let James Gabler Take You Away

This blog is my wine journal, as a wine publicist, since the day I started it on December 29, 2005. There are very rare occasions, when I segue to something that doesn’t fit the above profile. This is one of those times.

I’ve reviewed a few wine books in my wine time. For instance… I’ve finished Cork Dork, by Bianca Bosker, and still need to write my review. (Loved it!)

To read, in this order, coming up:

Today’s exception – my line is, “My blog is my journal as a wine publicist, to I don’t publish what I haven’t personally experienced in one form or another – is from an Email that I got from author and wine historian James Gabler.  He’s suggesting three great summer reads that are all written by him, about Thomas Jefferson, America’s First Wine and Food Connoisseur. They’re also all available at amazon.com and book stores, so, they’re easy to find. I would actually find any one of these books fascinating, so I feel comfortable recommending them. And, he’s got creds.

Jim Gabler is a graduate of Washington & Lee University with degrees in economics and law. He served as a finance officer in the U.S. Army. He practiced as a civil trial lawyer for both the defense and plaintiff. He lives in Palm Beach with his wife.

Good enough for me, and probably for some of you, too

Dine with Thomas Jefferson and Fascinating Guests: an account of 25 fact-based dinners at Monticello, the White House, Paris, Philadelphia, and the French wine country. The dinners center on four of Jefferson’s passions: wine, food, conversation, and travel. The guests are a who’s who of famous people of the time. A perfect companion for those who appreciate wine, food, travel, interesting conversation, and the camaraderie of fascinating people. $25, Amazon’s Direct link.

An Evening with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson: Dinner, Wine, and ConversationTravel back in time to 18th century Paris and spend an evening with two of the most extraordinary men in history who loved wine and food and changed the world for the better. In the comfort of Jefferson’s residence, join Franklin and Jefferson for dinner, and in response to your questions they tell in their own words the most interesting stories of their lives. “A brilliant roman à clef around the lives and travels of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin,” Robert M. Parker, Jr, Amazon’s Direct Link print $18, e-book $9.99.

Passions: The Wines and Travels of Thomas Jefferson: “Brilliant”…”Magnificent”… “Remarkable”… “Exciting”… “Superb”…  Winner of the 1995 “Veuve Clicquot Wine Book of the Year,” and a Robert M. Parker, Jr. “Wine Book of the Year” selection. “With the touch of an artist, Jim Gabler brings to life Jefferson’s passion for wine.” The definitive work on Jefferson and wine. $25, Amazon’s Direct Link

How To Be A Wine Expert, A Beginner’s Guide3rd edition, $15, amazon.com, makes learning about wine fun and easy with an emphasis on the three keys to wine appreciation: color, bouquet and taste. The essentials of more than 100 of the world’s best wine varietals are covered including:



Color, Bouquet, and Taste              Phonetic Pronunciations

Best Wineries and Producers         Best Food Pairings

Ideal Serving Temperatures           Drink the Great & Good Years

Questions & Answers                      Value for Money Wines Under $10-$20

About James Gabler

Jim Gabler is a graduate of Washington & Lee University with degrees in economics and law. He served as a finance officer in the U.S. Army. He practiced as a civil trial lawyer for both the defense and plaintiff. He lives in Palm Beach with his wife.

Jim’s passion is wine and includes travels to vineyard regions throughout the world, collecting wines and wine books, and writing about wine. His most recent book is How To Be A Wine Expert, A Beginner’s Guide, 3rd edition. His other books are te following:

  • Passions: The Wines and Travels of Thomas Jefferson, winner of the 1995 “Veuve Clicquot Wine Book of the Year,” and a Robert M. Parker, Jr. “Wine Book of the Year” selection.
  • An Evening with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson: Dinner, Wine, and Conversation, Dine with Thomas Jefferson and Fascinating Guests
  • Wine into Words: A History and Bibliography of Wine Books in the English Language
  • two novels
    • The Secret Formula
    • God’s Devil
  • two stage plays
    • Franklin & Jefferson: Sex, Politics, and the American Revolution
    • Benjamin Franklin’s Farewell Paris Dinner.

Jim’s been a guest speaker on Thomas Jefferson and wine, at hundreds of institutions, organizations and clubs throughout the United States.

Thanks, Jim, for giving me such great content. As a publicist, I know how hard it is to get publicity; you deserve a spotlight today!



A Good Year ~ A Great Movie

When a Wine Country Movie is Needed

IMAGE: LuxInteriorDesigns.com Website.

Failed London banker Max Skinner (Russell Crowe) inherits his uncle’s (Albert Finney) vineyard.

LOCATION: Uncle Henry’s Chateau La Siroque is actually Chateau La Canorgue, which is set in the Provence region, Luberon, France.

I loved this movie, because it’s written about our wine lifestyle, A Good Year (written by Peter Mayle and directed by Ridley Scott) has really struck me. It’s worth sharing, in case you’ve not seen it yet.

Maybe because it was set in Europe (London and Provence), and pulled on my European British and French DNA, that it’s swept me away. I cannot tell you why I’ve been just watching it over and over again, but I’m presently hung up on it. I love the bustle of London, I love the lessons in the vines.

IMAGE: © 20th Century Fox

I adore the lessons taught by Uncle Henry to master Max; a precocious child who tries to out-fox the fox, but that’s impossible. Lessons in humanity are taught through interactive sports between the Uncle and Max, very important ones that every young man should learn from an involved senior; the critical ones that can – and mostly do – cause paradigm shifts at some turning point in life.

Displacing a magical childhood, Maximilian is brought back to Uncle Henry’s old chateau. Losing his Uncle in this life, he finds him again in his heart. He also returns to the family that lovingly shared in the caring for Max through Uncle Henry’s vines… The vigneron and his French country wife.

I’ve seen so many people in wine country that could have played the part of vigneron in real life. The vineyards I’ve been in… mountains sides, valley floors, knolls in a hillside, caves filled with glorious wine… I’ve walked that every day for the last 19 years, and this movie just speaks to all of it.

I can only imagine having been there to see shadows cast on the chateau’s walls in last afternoon, because I’ve been there so many times. It was all just so familiar and even comforting.

Seeing guys who think they know a lot about wine, but they just know the right things to say… sorta… I love the comedic side of that. Knowing the underside of stones in a vineyard, understanding each jewel, laughing at M. Duflot, as he subtly underscores the importance of his rocky vineyard, like my grandfather used to guard his fishing hole and blueberry patch.

IMAGE: LuxInteriorDesigns.com Website.

And the love affair that was set into motion before these two characters even came into life… Their DNA united and reunited them.

If you haven’t yet seen this movie, you can join me in just discovering it. I was under a rock for a while about it, because it came out in 2006. My daughter Melanie did tell me about it, but even that escaped me.

It’s not a blockbuster. It hasn’t made a billion dollars yet. It doesn’t have enough violence, lewd sex, and all that Hollywood razzle dazzle, thankfully. It’s just a delightful movie that’s got lots of heart and soul, set in wine county… My cup of tea these days.

A few characters:

  • Albert Finney as Uncle Henry
  • Freddie Highmore as Young Max Skinner
  • Russell Crowe as Max Skinner
  • Marion Cotillard as Fanny Chenal
  • Abbie Cornish as Christie Roberts
  • Didier Bourdon as Francis Duflot
  • Isabelle Candelier as Ludivine Duflot

This link is soundtrack music that will transports you into the movie, which I listened to while writing this.

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California,History,Jo's World,Juicy Tale,Wine

The Chilling Howl That Ran Right Under My Window

Photo copyright: aliensprog / 123RF Stock Photo

Years ago, I worked for Ironstone Vineyards. The following story is one of my favorite memories, while working in the Sierra Mountain region. It all happened in Calaveras County.

It began with a two and a half year gig

I intuitively knew going into it that it would only last two years. It managed to squeak it out to two and a half years, with the last six months really squeaking along… except for that howling wolf night. Perhaps that’s why I had to stay for the last six months, to live and tell this memorable story.

I’d travel from Sonoma County to Murphys, California, a town that was 185 miles away. I’d stop in Lodi first, getting some work done in their Central Valley office, then keep going… arriving by late afternoon. It would take me six hours to finally get there (all miles completed of the 185 one way). I’d finish my day in Murphys, and then spend the next day in the Sierras, before driving back home. I was devoted to my job, even though I was from “away,” something that I learned about – being from “away,” while living in Maine… If you’re from away, you’re always going to be the square peg in the round hole. I was definitely a square in that Sierra setting… but, still, I always dreamed about being a cowgirl, giving it my best shot and living it, if only for the moment.

At Christmas, I was one of those kids who asked for a pony and dreamed of one day owning a cowgirl hat. (I did finally get the cowgirl hat, but gave it to Jim Concannon during a later wine tour, from Fort Worth to Chicago on Creative Charter’s passenger train. It was during one of Jim’s lighter moments. He’s a very dignified man, so this was unusual for him, but also tons of fun.)

My most amazing cowgirl moment came one of those last nights in Murphys… Call it an omen of things soon to come, call it the magic of the full moon, call it anything you’d like… I call it a howling good memory.

The Murphys Hotel

[I was staying in the middle room of this picture, on the second floor. Image is from the Wikimedia Commons.]

After a day of driving, working, coming into Murphys (a cowgirl and cowboy town), I went to the winery to work even more. Once I got everything put into place at the winery, I checked into the Murphys Hotel… Just like always. I preferred the front room, at the end of the hallway, to the right. The room has French doors that open to the street below. It’s a street that’s still as narrow as it was in those Wild West days… It’s just wide enough for a couple of horses to be tied up to some post ~ standing tail to tail on opposite sides of the street from each other… like only 30 feet wide. The shops are still all relatively small, and I got to know people in most stores. It was very fun to explore, and I’ll always be thankful for that experience, because going back in time is such a hoot.

That front room could be a good thing or bad thing, and it mostly depended on mood. Sometimes I minded that a saloon was directly below me. Other times it didn’t bother me. I learned with this room that there’s a frenetic energy going on when you’re directly above that old saloon… in a cowboy town that’s not much changed since the Gold Rush. The Murphys Hotel was built in 1856.

I’d sit at the table between the glass doors and write things important to me at the time…

How many of us can say they’ve been there, done that? Well, Ulysses S. Grant, Thomas Lipton, JJ Astor, Samuel Pillsbury, William Randolph Hearst, Daniel Webster, J. Pierpont Morgan, John Crocker, Mark Twain, Black Bart, Susan B. Anthony, John Wayne, Sunny Ficus (if they could talk), and I can say it. Murphys Hotel’s history does tell it all.

Señor chicken

Each night I’d head to the dining room for dinner. I had now been there long enough to know how to order my dinner. And, I had reduced it down to its least common denominator, proving I could be just like, if not worse, than Meg Ryan in “When Harry Met Sally.” You know that part when she ordered her food. Here is what I’d mostly order, because this is what I’d come to love on their menu…

I’ll have your fried chicken dinner, but I only want two pieces of chicken instead of your usual four. I don’t want to waste any. And…. I’ll have only one scoop of the rice, because – again – I don’t want to waste half of it. Please hold the veggies, because the salad I’m having is taking care of my vegetables… (The salad came with the dinner, so one-way-or-the-other, my veggies were covered.)

My dish affectionately became known as “Señor Chicken.” One night I got my bill and it read, “Senor Chicken.” I thought to myself, “Señor chicken? What an odd name for a dish to be called.” Then, it struck me…. senior chicken, as in a small portion for the elderly. I laughed all the way back to Sonoma County.

So, this one night after my Señor Chicken, when I was getting close to my last days there and had gone through the entire routine I’ve just given to you, I headed to my room. I never did hang out in the saloon, unless Ironstone was having a meeting – like during the national sales meeting. I’ve never needed to connect with anyone in a saloon. I did go down briefly on occasion to get a glass of mineral water… Lightweight in a saloon…

A Wolf By Any Other Name is a Wolf

After dinner, I returned to my room… No TV, no clock, no phone at the time, and a washroom down the hall…. is what any of us got. It was a full moon night, warm enough to throw open my French doors. I read while the noise of the bar below grew to its nightly crescendo with people and a band, then slowly it faded away to the point of complete silence. I fell asleep in the middle of this night somewhere in the process.

Then, while the town was quiet enough to hear a pin drop onto the street below my balcony… I heard a howling off in the distance. It was far, far away; so far even that I felt the animal totem energy arrive before the actual sound… All the same, I heard it enough to awaken from a sound sleep.

Slowly and surely it became louder, the energy coming ever closer… howling at the moon, screaming at the tar beneath the pads of its feet, digging in with its claws to get better traction, coming ever closer. I was frozen… just frozen, now asking myself, “Why didn’t you get out of bed to see it?” But, I couldn’t move… my eyes were as wide as they could be. My heart was pounding, the sound passed right under my window. I was no more than 20 feet from it, and then it receded, much more quickly than it came… And I was just simply in awe of being that close to something that played itself out like that, and could now only be recreated in Hollywood… I’m thinking there’s got to be a Western with something similar to this story.

But, who can tell it now…

In days gone by, any of these people could have told stories about their night at the Murphys Hotel ~ Ulysses S. Grant, Thomas Lipton, JJ Astor, Samuel Pillsbury, William Randolph Hearst, Daniel Webster, J. Pierpont Morgan, John Crocker, and Mark Twain. I’m sure orally, most of them did, if even in passing comments….

Now that I think back on The Murphys Hotel’s history, which had lots of historical pictures on the walls and rooms with the timely notable names of those above, all of these people, and I having stayed at this hotel, have been able to tell stories about it.

Me… I can tell it now and join the ranks of others who have talked about the Murphys Hotel…

“Nice company,” said she, and no glass of wine to nod off, did I have. This wasn’t a mirage.



First Memorial Day 1865 ~ It Might Surprise You

“KNOW YOUR HISTORY: Memorial Day was started by former slaves on May, 1, 1865, in Charleston, SC, to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp. They dug up the bodies and worked for 2 weeks to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom. They then held a parade of 10,000 people led by 2,800 Black children where they marched, sang and celebrated.”

A glass of red wine, to celebrate everyone’s heath in peace and love…

Please, No more war… No more war…

Regardless of race or creed… No more war.

Who’s brave enough to drink to that, as we remember those who gave their lives in battle?

Final thought… I lost three classmates from St. Patrick’s School and High School, in the Vietnam War:

  • LCPL JAMES JOSEPH Mc MORROW (Jimmy Mac, when are you comin’ back… played on the radio for far too long.)
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Chile,France,Imports,innovation,Italy,Napa,Rosé,Wine,Wine Cans,Wine of the Week

Roses to Write Home About


Wines of the Week

Rosés, our most delicious wines for the spring and the summer season ahead, I love them… True confession: It wasn’t until I tasted Sutter Home’s White Zin that I finally got wine. Had I not been trying to love Merlots as my entry wine, I wouldn’t have needed something with a sweet character to “get it.” My palate was weary with over the top red wines of no distinction that I could discern. That came later, and now I can enjoy Merlot with the best of them, but in my early 20s? Nope, not this gal and her hypersensitive palate. I had to start at the very beginning… Today, I lead one of the biggest, baddest wine organizations (Petite Sirah); so bring them all on. A special place in my heart is reserved for rosés… And so, here you go, going into beach and pool season, rosés I would enjoy in a heartbeat.

FRANCE: 2016 Ferraton Père & Fils Cotes du Rhone Samorens ~ Enthusiastically clear in its salmon color, vibrantly tasty in its delivery… A rose by any other name is called a rosé. This wine reminds me of one of my flower lady, hippie days, with its lovely floral notes. Very easy to enjoy… This wine’s delicious flavors made me slow down and smell a few flowers, too. So, I picked this special rose to pair with this special rosé. It’s a lovely wine, and I highly recommend it, so you can also find your core.

FINDING MY CORE: I was driving down the road to my grand-père’s and grand-mère’s camp (Peter and Abbie Bernier, rhymes with Viognier). I noticed a field that I had noticed my entire life; but today, something was different about it. It was calling me… The field was filled with rose colored clovers. I pulled over, inspired to write some poetry on this beautiful summer’s day. I walked into the meadow, overlooking Sabattus Lake. As I sat and began to write, people began to appear, seemingly from nowhere, and gathered around me. “What the heck?” I wondered. I had no idea why or where this 20 or so people had taken their afternoon walk, but gather they did.

Then, I did something I’ll never forget. I began to read my poetry to them. After about 15 minutes, I thanked everyone and bid them adieu.. Just like that… I walked away. I now realize that I hadn’t arrived to write; instead, I had arrived to read… and then just move on. So I did… It’s still so surreal, but now I have the clue. Grand père and grand fil (his grandson, my brother Peter Clarke) have both been stewards of that Sabattus Lake property… Ferraton Père & Fils is similar to my father and sons story… A respect for the land and quality above all else is the mantra.

NAPA: V. Sattui Winery ~ 2016 Rosato di Sangiovese, North Coast, Dry Rosé ~ Smooth as pink chiffon on a warm July day, along the Coast of Maine in a sailboat… That’s what it means to me. The cover skirt, on a bed of tulle… A ballerina on your palate and on pointe. If I tell you it tasted like juicy strawberries, would you find it, too? I hope so, because something this good, dancing on your palate, is a celebration I wouldn’t want you to miss.

How do I love thee, let me count the ways:

  1. V. Sattui has been in Napa ever since I remember, so I researched: “V. Sattui Winery stands today as the result of hard work, dedication, and the extraordinary vision of two men who happen to be related.  Vittorio Sattui started the business in 1885 after emigrating from Genoa, Italy.  The law-abiding Vittorio was forced to shut down when Prohibition went into effect, and the winery would lay dormant until 1976, when Vittorio’s great-grandson, Dario, would realize his dream of resurrecting the family business in the town of St. Helena in Napa Valley.”
  2. While working at Robert Mondavi Winery, I drove past V. Sattui every day. I never had time to stop, but I’ve watched over 25 years of traveling into Napa. V. Sattui’s artisan Deli & Picnic Grounds is the be-all-to-end-all-family gathering area, right in the heart of Napa’s Fantasy Land. I’ve made a promise to myself. The next time I’m driving through Napa, I’m going to stop and visit. It’s just time.


France: 2016 Bila-Haut Rosé  by Michel Chapoutier ~ In the South of France, this area produces large quantities of wine. Some of the best regions like Corbieres and the Côtes du Roussillon produce much smaller yields and focus on quality rather than quantity. This is also a region where organically grown grapes are quite possible due to the favorable weather conditions. HB Wine Merchants Importers brings these extraordinary value wines into the US.

  • Back Label copy: Roussillon, a land of legend and history. A place of contrasts, too, much as Domaine de BILA-HAUT. This wine is fresh and well balanced with citrus aromas and is a perfect match for summer recipes.
  • I agree with their back label. When I’m enjoying Bila-Haut wines, I have to be careful not to forget the present and how much of this wine is in my glass. I could so easily lose myself into one giant rosé cluster.


CHILE: 2016 Casillero del Diablo Rosé ~ Concha y Toro is a consistent pleasure to enjoy. There are a lot of flavors and value with this brand, located in Chile. But there are also many fond memories. When I have one of their wines, I’m always transported to Puerto Rico’s warm tropical days and nights. From my own experiences, their wines are very favorably placed, in my favorite supermarket.

  • Soft and supple, it’s as refreshing as a spring first bloom, with strawberry juice dripping down my chin, it doesn’t get more tasty.
  • It reminds me of the day on Condado Beach, watching and photographing para-sailors. Sun shining brightly and inviting tropical waters… Now, imagine a cooled glass of Casillero del Diablo Rosé. Yeah, it’s that delicious.


ITALY: 2016 Tìamo Canned Organic Rosé ~ Tìamo Rosé Wine is made with organic grapes and represents top quality wines from the best growers, in their respective regions. For this wine, Chianti, Veneto, and Abruzzo – ITALY.

A little bit spritzy (it’s a 2016, after all). Medium blush in color. Over the top flavors, in the most delightful way… This wine sits with great company: is extremely tasty, and I happily recommend it to you. Best for me is the organic factor. Buy it, chill it, enjoy it, and have a great day. Recycle the cans when you’re done, and your social consciousness expands in the bargain.

I took my phone and can to the pool, so I could get this photo, and found it worthy to be in the company of these orchids, too… With the wine being a rosé, one might expect a rose on the can, versus a yellow sunflower. Let’s take the yellow up a notch: I walked past our outside cymbediums and saw the potential for a sunflower to be with the most elegant of company.

Now we’re getting groovy… If you’ve not warmed up to wine in cans yet, what are you waiting for? The Joneses?

Dare to lead, they’ll follow. There are so many reasons to enjoy wines in cans… For instance, do you ever have a soda or a beer in a can? Imagine when each first came out… Yup, history is repeating itself. Early adopters have already made the jump. All it took for me was to do some history on beverages in cans, and further history about the safety of wine in cans, and BAM! In in!

Worried about safety? As my friend Terry Mcnulty just asked me, reflecting on what’s been discovered with tomatoes in cans and that not being safe with a chemical interaction, “what about safety?” Know the can company, and you’ll know the care that’s been taken to not have acid and can do battle with each other. What we’ve learned from the past, has protections for us in the present.

Now, take cans to organic wines and Bam, Bam! Molto delizioso

Importer is Winesellers, Ltd.




Imports,Wholesaler,Wine,Wine Sales,Winery

Small Producers Don’t | Won’t Matter to Wholesalers ~ Perhaps Ever Again

Once an oligopoly is formed, like the big three car manufacturers (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler), it takes (and took) an outside  invasion to enter the US, offering greater value. Then, it will cycle back again…in continual consolidations.

Worldwide, now, will be determined by who’s cashed out and who’s cashed into the most gold. Gold is the world’s real economic  standard, and China leads in that department... So, just get ready, while the US and Russian egos battle for who’s all that… (Hilarious? Maybe.)

Globalization began in the 1960s, my friends. In Lewiston, Maine, I first saw Bates and Pepperell mills close. (This was pre-Detroit, and began a process I had not seen yet.) I remember telling myself, “the world is going to be globalized. Every country is now going back to child labor, pollution not being regulated, and wages that less than a dollar a day is going to be ‘pre-rich,’ by their standards, for those lucky enough to get one of these jobs.”

The Set is *MORE* Controlled Than I EVEN Imagined. How naive was I, anyway?

I recently wrote, “The Set” ~ Could it be more controlled?, only to privately find out, “Well yeah!”

It’s not just the wholesalers, it’s also your supermarket chain divisions. Here’s capitalism at work…

I got a private Email from someone who knows the system well, and this is what was explained to me.

As I explained to my source, when I sold wine, I wasn’t the national chain sales manager, so I was never privy to this info; although, I did hear some rumblings about the stage where this game is played out. I just never had to work it. Here’s how the Northeast works. You can apply this to all areas of the US. The northeast isn’t an isolated area… Only the names are changed as you go along with the chains.

Once a year in January, Chain Marketer A (corporate office in the Midwest) sends out a request for all distributors in their respective markets to suggest new products for the store sets. The national sales guys get first crack and domain based on the back room, dark alley shelf placement deals. They then select about 15 new SKUs to add to the shelf and drop about 15 -20 SKUs. They then send out a list in early March for store resets in April to June.

Most store /category managers at the store level, can make a few small additions and subtractions based on market demands, but are not empowered to alter placement. Store plano-grams are sent down from the Midwest and suppliers are tasked with making it look similar.

Chain Marketer B is slightly different in that as a regional supermarket. They have a cattle call for new products. Major brands are given designated appointments to pitch samples (two bottles each) and the rest are taken American Idol style, wait in line, turn over two samples and price sheets placed on long tables ……next please…. A week later they send out an add and drop report, with this year’s authorized product list.

This process happens regardless of the current pending legislation. National sales guys will still have the lion’s share of the products, regardless of local distributors desires.

So, there’s how it’s done, boys and girls, for those of you with a brand and having wanderlust about going to wholesalers who you think “might” pick up your brand for sales outside of your winery.

What will you do to be able to break that chain?

I think it helps to understand the system and reality of it all, because I work with many small producers of fine wine, who just don’t “get” why their wonderful wine is just not picked by wholesaler or chain stores. Now, it’s spelled out… right here before you.

You efforts should be entirely devoted to direct sales marketing, if you’re ever going to sell every bottle you’ve produced, minus your samples from your promotional budget. When your brand is so hot and it sells itself, someone might notice… but not a second before, truth being told.

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Books,Education,Wine,Wine Ed,Wine Education,Winemaking

Home Winemaking ~ Yes You Can

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

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

I’m not kidding about homestead, either. I know someone who’s made wine in a small studio apartment, using a few carboys. Just make sure you have plenty of ventilation, seriously. Carbon dioxide is lethal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A bit ahead of the times, the first time I wrote about the above sidebar was October 14, 2014…