Petaluma Gap Wines ~ Wildly Flavorful

[PHOTO: Dr. Mark Greenspan, borrowed from his Advanced Viticulture Website]

From the famed viticulture expert Dr. Mark Greenspan in a Petaluma Gap Newsletter:

According to viticulturist Mark Greenspan in this Wine Business Monthly article, “Wind is a significant factor in many regions [including] the Petaluma Gap of Sonoma County… We see thicker skins and more intense color in Pinot Noir vines grown in the Petaluma Gap relative to the neighboring Russian River Valley… I like to put a positive spin on the windy climate effect. One could argue that wind conveys an element of terroir to a region. But, from a grower’s perspective, wind sucks.”

As for thicker skins, because I’m from Maine and have picked tons (maybe not that many) of wild Maine Blueberries, along the coast line… Think Maine blueberries. They, too, grow in wild, less-nitrogen soils, along the coastline. The berries are so tiny, and they’re so flavorfully intense… Quality over quantity. Along any coast line, the plants are very hardy, because they’ve adapted to that chilly terroir, otherwise they won’t survive.

Now, equate that with Sebastopol’s climate as it equates to the Pacific Ocean, and how that factors into the grape berries that are going to become wine… Let’s just say, you’ve got the beginnings of some very aromatic and flavorful wines. Whites are a natural variety, in this cooler climates. Think about wines from Northern Europe, and Italian Wines along the Adriatic Sea in places like the Marche region. Red wines have to be carefully monitored, because they need a modicum of heat to ripen fully, and when they do… Ooo lala… Polished, restrained, and also quite tasty.

Petaluma Wind Gap

I attended a Petaluma Gap wines tasting a while ago, hosted by the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance. I was very impressed with some of the wines, especially those grown on location and made in small lots, bottling with their own winery name and AVA listed.

There are some big name wine companies, buying grapes from this region, too. Names you’d easily recognize, buying grapes grown in the Petaluma Gap area, but they’re not all putting the American Viticultural Area (AVA) on that wine’s labels… yet.

How the wine industry typically works, among the old guard: they aren’t going to help build the obscure regions. It’s like my grandfather taught me, when we were picking Maine blueberries: “Do not make a sound when we’re picking. Someone will know we’re here, will see the blueberries, and now we have competition.”

I’m going to list some of the wines I tasted during that visit, most especially those located in the Petaluma Gap AVA

It all Began In a Charming Little School House

When I drove to the invite’s locations, it, like Petaluma Gap’s wines, was well hidden. I arrived a bit late, because I had zipped right by the Green String Farm location on Adobe Road. As I traveled farther and farther away, instinct said, “turn around.” In my mind I had no idea how small this tasting was going to be. I thought I could just slink in. I wondered if it was an optical illusion, “Does this tiny house go much further back?”

As I entered the school house, I realized, no, there were just three of us writers, and an uber selection of wines for us to taste. We sat around a couple of tables, set for my wine writer colleagues Linda Murphy (Writer for – among others – Decanter Magazine, and co-author, with Jancis Robinson MW, of “American Wine: The Ultimate Companion to the Wines and Wineries of United States) and Deborah Parker Wong (Wine Educator and the global wine editor for SOMM Journal, The Tasting Panel, and Clever Root magazines).

The tasting was organized by Cheryl Quist, the executive Director of the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance. We were also joined by Erica Stancliff, VP of the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers and Charene Beltramo (our host from Cline Cellars).

So much time and energy went into setting up this tasting, just for the three of us, I was so humbled. My hat is off to all of the brands and the wines that were submitted. It’s worth mentioning all of them. DeLoache Vineyards slipped in right at the end, so I’m mentioning here, as an FYI.

Lots of Pinot Noir and Chardonnays, as one would expect. And now that Syrah is considered to also be a perfect cool climate wine, yes, we tasted a rosé of Syrah, and a few other Syrahs. But then, there were a couple of Italian wines in the mix. Tasting them I thought, “this what Syrah wants to be… A Syrah’s Syrah….

  • Enriquez Estate Wines Tempranillo (a Spanish grape), I wrote this one as being really lovely. It had delicious strength, more than the Pinots and Syrah. It stood out with great expression. Bring on the castanets.
  • McEvoy Ranch‘s Montepulciano (a Tuscan grape), I very much appreciate those who march to their own drummer, and this wine was that kind of a segue from the Pinots; however, my notes stated: This one is really light and lively with cherry and berry flavors. It was so completely refreshing: yes, please, I’m all in. 

Have had quite a bot of time between that tasting, thinking about it, and right now. Also done a lot of visiting these places via the Web. Yes, I’ve convinced myself to go take a day and visit locations, not only for the wines, but also for the vistas. Let’s just say,

  • If I’m coming from the Bay Area to the north, I would be truly remiss if I didn’t get off the freeway in Petaluma. This is such a gorgeous rural area, just after the hustle and bustle of quite a few “down towns” headed north. The Petaluma Gap AVA is perfect for city crazed people just needing a “get me to the county and make sure the vistas will knock my socks off right now” kinda place. It’s Zen, it’s what we hope the just relaxin’ weekend will deliver… including wine. Are you kidding me?
  • And, if the hustle and bustle of other wine country locations north of the bay have you a bit dazed, I’m going right back to the Petaluma Gap. It has backroads less traveled, filled with charm and down home people… and their Burgundian-style wines.

These are the wineries with Petaluma Gap grapes in the bottle. Check them out, when you’re looking for a new adventure!


Adobe Road Barrel Samples Reds TBD
Azari Vineyards 2014 Pinot Noir
Azari Vineyards 2013 Pinot Noir Corkscrew
Brooks Note 2016 Pinot Noir Marin County
Brooks Note 2016 Pinot Noir Azaya Ranch
Bruliam Wines 2015 Pinot Noir Gap’s Crown
Bruliam Wines 2015 Pinot Noir Sangiacomo
Cline Cellars TBD
Enriquez Estate Wines 2012 Tempranillo
Enriquez Estate Wines 2013 White Blend Brisa
Fogline Vineyards 2017 Chardonnay Zephyr’s Block
Fogline Vineyards 2014 Pinot Noir Hillside Block
Karah Estate Vineyard 2016 Pinot Noir Estate
Karah Estate Vineyard 2016 Pinot Noir Estate Reserve
MacPhail Wines 2016 Chardonnay Gap’s Crown
McEvoy Ranch 2016 Montepulciano Il Poggio
McEvoy Ranch 2016 Pinot Noir Evening Standard
Pax Wines 2014 Syrah Griffin’s Lair
Pellet Estate 2016 Chardonnay UnOaked, Sun Chase Vineyard
Pellet Estate 2015 Chardonnay Sun Chase Vineyard
Rodney Strong 2016 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
Rodney Strong 2016 Chardonnay Blue Wing Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Rodney Strong 2014 Pinot Noir Estate, Sonoma Coast
Thirty-Seven Wines 2015 Red Blend “The Hermit” [Merlot/Petit Verdot]
Thirty-Seven Wines 2015 Syrah Estate, Paradise Vineyard
Three Sticks Wines 2016 Chardonnay Gap’s Crown
Three Sticks Wines 2015 Pinot Noir Gap’s Crown
Trombetta Family TBD
Waxwing 2013 Pinot Noir Spring Hill Vineyard
Waxwing 2013 Syrah Flocchini Vineyard



Biodynamic,Imports,Italy,Wine,Wine Book,Wine of the Week,Wine Writer

Le Sincette, Chiaretto DOC, Italy; Where Have you Been All of My Life?


Thanks to Jane Nichols, a reader of this blog, she sent an update to me, regarding La Sincette’s appellation:

I was so interested in the wine you wrote about that I did a bit of research and happened to find out….the appellation of the wine is actually the Valtènesi  DOC…which (amazingly/confusedly) has been discontinued as of 2017 when this happened: the Vigneti Valtènesi Riviera del Garda Bresciano DOC, Valtènesi DOC, and the Classico subzone of Garda DOC were combined as Riviera del Garda Classico DOC. Technically, Riviera del Garda Bresciano DOC was renamed, and it absorbed the other two. As of June 2017, the Valtènesi DOC no longer exists as a separate DOC, but is considered part pf the Riviera del Garda Classico DOC. The Garda DOC still exists, but without the Classico subzone. (Information via the brilliant Italian Wine Central website).

As you read below,

I will remember Le Sincette… Why?

  1. Because I got to taste a five percent alcohol wine, with two varieties from Italy I had never heard of, and were used in this most unusual Le Sincette blend:
  2. namely, the indigenous, Italian varieties of Groppello and Marzemino. (More about them further down in this story.)
  3. Not only that, but the wine was only five percent alcohol. Never before had I tasted a wine with such low alcohol, and any one of us could have downed the whole bottle. Lucky for me I had brought it to a group of friends, for a tasting I had organized from wine samples. It was a tasting of 15 differing wines, and this was just one of them.
  4. I got to add two new varieties to my Wine Century list, bring me to 175 varieties tasted in my life time of wine.
  5. This wine was a highlight for me, because it reminded me of journalist and wine writer Kevin Begos’ book Tasting The Past, and that’s what we were all doing.

So many mental connections to this wine were made, so there are now many triggers for my memory of Le Sincette.

When we explore why wine traveling in the world gives us much better cognitive references, experts have come to define that there are more memory connections made there, and that’s to our advantage. The more connections, the easier it is to recall more exact details. Seems simple enough, and yet when do we ever focus on what makes our brains work better and quicker? Memories are not simply a spelling word connection with no context. Experiences become memories with history connections, and we can then recall what the tasting experience was all about, for some even the exact taste. (I’m not that good at it, until I taste the wine again a few more times.)

From, The Human Memory:

After consolidation, long-term memories are stored throughout the brain as groups of neurons that are primed to fire together in the same pattern that created the original experience, and each component of a memory is stored in the brain area that initiated it (e.g. groups of neurons in the visual cortex store a sight, neurons in the amygdala store the associated emotion, etc). Indeed, it seems that they may even be encoded redundantly, several times, in various parts of the cortex, so that, if one engram (or memory trace) is wiped out, there are duplicates, or alternative pathways, elsewhere, through which the memory may still be retrieved.


The sample of La Sincette was provided to Wine-Blog for possible inclusion in a story. This Le Sincette, Chiaretto DOC, Italy. [According to Jane Nichols above: the appellation of the wine is actually the Valtänesi DOC] definitely qualifies on the level of being unique. It’s grown in the heart of Brescia’s traditional wine-growing region. But, it’s also on our doorstep for a wine being sold in the US. You, too, can taste from that far away!


  1. HEART ~ THE WINERY: This information came from the wineries’ notes.
  2. SCIENCE ~ WINEMAKING ~ From the winery.
  3. SOUL ~ Jo’s Musings


Le Sincette is the name of the plots on which the vineyards and olive groves are cultivated. It is individual and unmistakable, bearing positive connotations through the reference to something precious and gracious.

The estate of Le Sincette is located in the municipality of Polpenazze del Garda (Brescia), at Picedo, in the area known as Valtenesi, a land of glacial moraine hills, and southwest of Lake Garda’s Brescian shore. In the heart of Brescia’s traditional wine-growing area, it enjoys a mild climate. The estate covers a total of 86 acres: 27 acres of vineyards and 12 acres of olive groves. The rest is land cultivated with a rotation of Alfalfa, wheat, and barley.


It’s located where?  Polpenazze del Garda is a comune (financial location) in the province of Brescia, in Lombardy, northern Italy. It is situated near the western shore of Lake Garda.

[PHOTO: Rodica Ciorba]


ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA: Brescia, Latin Brixia, city Lombardia (Lombardy) region, in the Alpine foothills of northern Italy at the lower end of the Val (valley) Trompia, east of Milan. It originated as a Celtic stronghold of the Cenomani that was occupied by the Romans c. 200 BC; the emperor Augustus founded a civil colony there in 27 BC. Plundered by Attila the Hun in 452, it later became the seat of a Lombard duchy. In the 11th century it became an independent commune, and it was active in the Lombard League from 1167. After falling to the tyrant Ezzelino da Romano in 1258, it was held successively by the Veronese Scaliger family and the Milanese Visconti before passing to Venice in 1426. Read More



We are a small company on the shores of Lake Garda. Thanks to our daily hard work and nature’s gifts, we seek to produce a unique wine. This bestows wonderful sensations on those who know how to respect nature and its rhythms, and who love quality of life, simplicity and balance.

This Rosé is a blend of Groppello, Marzemino, and Barbera. It is only five percent alcohol. All of the varieties in this blend are from biodynamic cultivation. The production philosophy of Le Sincette wines is based on respect for the balance of nature, and inspired by the principles identified by Rudolf Stainer, founder of the biodynamic approach to agriculture. This involves environmental ethics: the complete exclusion of fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides and synthetic fungicides; protection of the land extended to all forms of life (biodiversity).

The BLEND: Groppello, Marzemino, and Barbera.

  • EASY: Barbara, plenty of it grown in California.  From Wine Folly: if you don’t know about this Italian variety.
  • NOT SO EASY: Groppello. From Wine-searcher.com: Groppello is a red-wine grape variety grown all along the southwestern side of Lake Garda in northern Italy. The Garda DOC that makes use of the variety straddles the regional border between Lombardy and Veneto, and is one of very few DOCs to cross over from one region to another. This may seem very forward-looking and collaborative (it should not be forgotten that Italian regional unity was only achieved in the late 19th Century), but divisions remain: on the Veneto side of the border, Groppello retains its local name, Rossignola.
  • NOT EASY AT ALL: Marzemino.  From Wine-searcher.com: Marzemino is a late-ripening, dark-skinned grape variety grown mainly in Trentino-Alto Adige but also in the Veneto, Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna wine regions of Italy… Marzemino’s most prestigious role is as the key ingredient (95 percent) in the sweet Colli di Conegliano Refrontolo passito wines, for which grapes are dried out in the winery (traditionally on straw mats) for weeks or even months after harvest. In Lombardy it is almost never used for varietal wine, but is instead blended with the likes of Sangiovese, Barbera and Merlot, notably in the wines of the Capriano del Colle and Botticino DOCs.

[PHOTO: 소희 김]


The art on the label totally gives it away, in so many ways. And, this is a biodynamic wine, details here by VinePair.

The official definition of biodynamic farming according to the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association is “a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to agriculture, gardens, food production and nutrition.” Biodynamic wine is made with a set of farming practices that views the farm or vineyard as one solid organism. The ecosystem functions as a whole, with each portion of the farm or vineyard contributing to the next. The idea is to create a self-sustaining system. 

While biodynamic might seem sketchy to those not connected to their core intuition, it’s the most primal way of feeling nature, acting and reacting. Did you know, for instance, that ancient ancestors used travel the seas for long journeys, with only their own biological compasses. Between the skies visuals, handed down for so many generations of time, and wooden charts they created, they “knew” where land was, because they also followed cloud formations… Clouds were always formed over land.

So, that intuition is brought back, with rhymes, reasons, and rituals. It just makes perfects sense to me. I rely heavily on intuition. Tasting a wine that’s only 5-percent alcohol let’s me know that this is an excellent appetizer wine, for a long night of indulging, or swapping off to it, when you know you’ve just about had enough.

It’s also a perfect wine from a wine initiate.

[PHOTO: Brent Hofacker]

Among the crowd, remember Le Sincette for any of the reasons listed above.

  • Appetizers
  • Swapping off to something lighter, as you are winding down from a long night of indulging
  • You’re just starting out and you really want to enjoy wine

Find it in that crowd, it will be worth your time, energy, and pairing with your favorite foods… All of these wines are wonderful, by the way. I’ve enjoyed each of them and they are to follow.


Books,History,Sample,Wine,Wine Travel,Wine Writer

Tasting The Past, by Kevin Begos

Last fal;l, 


Admittedly, learning about wines outside of what’s on a retailer’s shelf or a restaurateur’s wine list is a bit limited. The flavors you might enjoy, but is the wine as memorable as being in that wine’s own region of terroir, and connecting more dots? From my own personal experiences, I have to say perhaps not as memorable. Now, if you can get a sommelier to your table and get her or him to share wine knowledge, you’ll add that to your experience of wine. That’s a bit more expansive.

But, what about world travel… right to the region where the wine is grown, harvested, created, bottles, and poured into a glass for you? You will remember that occasion and the wine that accompanied it, perhaps forever, as it did for Kevin Begos.

Last fall, I read Tasting The Past, by Kevin Begos. It’s a truly engaging book, and one of my favorites for the 2018 wine book reviews, from books I devoured over the year. I took the book with me to Italy, to be read on the long flights from San Francisco to Rome, Italy and back again. I’m going to quote from the opening words of Kevin’s book, because they HIT ME HEAD ON; they’re so relevant to my title and backs up my perpetual thoughts of travel to completely “get” a wine, which then becomes truly memorable, from so many angles.

Alone in Amman, Jordan, I looked at the mini-bar skeptically yet wistfully. Finding good wine in a hotel room is a tantalizing concept, but I had a rule: never buy the stuff. This place had rustic tiles and carved wooden doors in the lobby that gave way to generic rooms….and I hardly knew anyone in the city. I went over to the TV cabinet, opened the door again, and sadly contemplated the row of bottles next to the little refrigerator. One red wine had an unusual label with old-fashioned type and images. It read:

Produced and Bottled by Cremisan Cellars

HOLY LAND–Bethlehem

That seemed odd. It was the spring of 2008, and there were still vineyards in Bethlehem? My hazy Catholic taught me that people drank wine there in biblical times, but I’d never seen Cremisan on a store shelf or restaurant list, on in a review. The label said they started making wine in 1885, which I found interesting but also curious. Had no critics checked it out. The winery is just a few miles from Jerusalem.

The bottle was the only thought-provoking thing in the room and I was tired, physically and emotionally, from a Middle East reporting assignment. With low expectations I broke my rule, pulled the cork, and took a sip. Wow. I perked up immediately. The dry red wine had a spicy flavors, sort of Syrah-ish, but not quite. It was drinkable, balanced, and pleasingly different, with even a hint of earthy terroir. I went to bed happier, imagining it might be fun to visit Cremisan.

One little bottle of wine and one giant, real-life memory for Kevin Begos. This is what stepping outside of a repetitive comfort zone of “I’ll have the Chard,” or, “I’ll have the Cab” can do for us.

For Kevin, it took him on a journey of the past that crafted this newly released book. He’s going to take what you currently think and turn it upside down, a bit. Your most powerful history lesson, for 2019.

More on this throughout the year. I’ve got to get you inspired to read this one, too, if you’re at all into the history of wine for business or just simply pleasure.


Book Sample,Books,Sample,Wine,Wine tasting,Wine Writer

Brut Force follows Corkscrew in Rollicking Hilarity, Outlandish Intrigue, and rooting for Felix Hart, Again

SAMPLE BOOK: When Peter Stafford-Bow sent an email to me about his newest novel Brut Force, I told him I was ready for a little Brut Force. Fortunately, I knew who I was talking to, so I wouldn’t be accused of sexual harassment. We both had a good laugh.

Peter Stafford-Bow has outdone himself again,

in my humble opinion.

I thought Peter Stafford-Bow’s Corkscrew was the highly improbable, but occasionally true, tale of a professional wine buyer, and I loved it! Now, followed by Brut Force,  I believe this one is also occasionally true, but am definitely hoping the improbable is more like impossible.

Felix Hart is Peter Stafford-Bow’s character of a professional wine buyer, who again steps in deep merde.  If you think you can casually read this book, think again. It’s definitely a book that will have you leave everything else undone, until you get to the bottom of it; a.k.a, the last page that states “The End.”

It’s been left wide open, though, for the next installment, and I can hardly wait for the two years it will takes to construct such hilarity, scratches of the truth, and “what could go wrong next?” (which does develop in rapid fire).

For the lay person, while Felix Hart’s adventures take them into Wine 101, with words and explanations, like verasion, viticulture, pips, lees, and malo, we’re all then swept into the full blown planning of the Judgement of Bassildon. And, I don’t just mean the planning of who, what, when, and where, in its normalcy of planning. I mean the back end of it, where complicated chicanery becomes the usual, as the web grows larger and larger from competing forces, and guess who’s smack dab in the middle? Will he get out with his life and every limb?

Meanwhile, there’s a layer from the Minstrels of Wine that has me wondering how much would be real and how much is total bunk. Peter Stafford-Box has a website he’s been developing, devoted to this society he’s created. His tag for it?

The Worshipful Institute of the Minstrels of Wine
Established 538 B.C.E
Minstrels’ Hall, Long Acre, London W2, England
No visitors

“Welcome Initiates, on this, the twelfth day of Dionysus!”

Peter Stafford-Bow is a pseudonym. So, the question begs, “Who is this author, anyway?” One thing’s for sure, he’s in the wine trade and knows the intricate ins and outs, the good, the bad, and the ugly… As any industry has, really, but with wine? Wine tells the truth and can make a liar out of any of us. This is why fiction is so much fun.

Stafford-Bow’s character Felix Hart, in order to be spellbound by him, is on a testosterone overdrive and is a self-absorbed sod; and yet, he’s still lovable and you want him extricate himself from the weavings of his conjoined webs, which he’s created throughout the story.

From Corkscrew to Brut Force, what could possibly be next? Whatever it is, I’m ready.

Final thought: This is a somewhat timely book, as we were all rocked by the headline by the Daily Beast, for instance, “Cheating Scandal Rocks Elite Master Sommelier.” Someone shared the quiz’s answers and 23 wine experts, who did all of their studying to get to that level, had titles removed in professional shame… And, that’s a shame, because many of them could have made it. It such a long journey to take. Something taken this seriously allows for satire… That’s what Peter Stafford-Bow’s book uses… satire… flawlessly.


Books,Wine,Wine Book,Wine Ed,Wine Education,Wine Etiquette,Wine tasting,Wine Writer


If you  know me, you know that I enjoy helping friends with their events, etc.. I got to circle back with Kevin Zraly this past fall, when we met again; this time at Castello di Meleto in Gaiole ~ In the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany. Kevin was touring, promoting his 30th Edition of Windows on the World, I was beginning to learn about Italy, and we both were having lunch at the Castello. He gave a copy of it to me, and I reviewed it.

Now, Kevin is back on the road with his wine education. You may remember is connection as the wine educator for Windows on the World. As life moves on, he’s not mobile and an asset you won’t want to miss, if in San Francisco and have that thirst for wine knowledge with a veteran wine pro. (I was recently referred to as a veteran… Yes, we are, so we’ve also got the stories to enhance our classes.

So, anyway, if you’re in San Francisco, this calls has your name all over it and you know who you are. You-Tube video is at the end of this blog post. It’s worth a look…

Wine Expert Seminar & Tasting Reception

Seminar & Tasting Reception ~ Ticket Information Link

Learn the fundamentals of wine from the perennial best selling author of Windows on the World Complete Wine Course and James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Kevin Zraly.  Kevin’s personal stories, wine theory and tasting methodologies will inspire and enlighten both enthusiasts and professionals alike!

This seated tasting experience will be followed by a walking wine & bites reception with Kevin.  His Window’s on the World Complete Wine Course and his latest book, Red Wine: The Comprehensive Guide to the 50 Essential Varieties & Styles, will be available for purchase & signing at the event.

415 Grand Ave.  Top Floor
South San Francisco

Friday, Jan 25
7:00-9:30 p.m.


Also a Trade Component


Chianti,Chianti Classico,Italy,Tuscany,Wine,Wine & Food,Wine Appreciation,Wine Business,Wine Country,Wine Culture,Wine Ed,Wine Education,Wine HIstory,Wine Hospitality,Wine Importer,Wine tasting,Wines

When Opportunity Knocked ~ Siena Italy Was at the Door

[ALL PHOTO: Jo Diaz, unless noted otherwise. Shop in Sienna, Italy]


In October of 2018, a door was opened for me by Bluest Sky Group, when I was invited to join a group of wine professionals traveling in Italy. We would be exploring the central wine regions of the peninsula’s boot, with two hosts wine companies as their guest.

Excitedly, down the rabbit  hole I went. I love travel; wings on my feet like Mercury. Initially contacted by Michael Yurch, Mick had no way of knowing I’d been projecting this trip for years, perhaps my whole life… I was so ready.

My two hosts:

This story, in a series of stories about my trip, is part of my Castello di Meleto notes, images, and experiences. Other similar stories also exist for Colonnara.

Imported Wines

To be able to understand and truly appreciate imported wines, one expanding ingredient is learning about their culture firsthand. For instance, when in Portugal, it was all about ceramic tiles. They were everywhere, brought in by the Moors, during their occupation of the Iberian Peninsula. Once home, I created a You-Tube video, dedicated to the images I had taken of the variances in ceramic tiles… Very much part of their culture. My host then was Delfim Costa. Before his wine career, Delfim was in the tile business; and since then, he’s also returned to work in the tile industry again. In the days we spent together in Portugal, he was an amazing host, Lisbon being his hometown. When learning from a native of a region, you’re immersed in ways that simply being there on your own can’t deliver.

Now, it was time to discover what has made this region of Italy so outstanding and unique.

All of this, trust me, leads to a restaurant door, with delectable Italian foods, wines, and ambiance.

For this central portion of Italy, it’s all about massive, wooden doors and metal door knockers. (I have a series of some door knockers I loved, at the end of this story.)

What did this say to me, in cultural context, as the knockers all told a story?

  • You are welcomed here
  • From our knocker, you know what’s important to us
  • Our knockers are ancient, and we’re still very old school
  • Quality is in the details, as is our own imaginations
  • Time is not about rushing, it’s about experiencing, and opening this massive door
  • Bussare alla porta, sei invitato (Knock on the door, you are invited)


[PHOTO: Antonia Caserta, our gracious host with Castello di Meleto]

It all began in the town of Siena. We had driven 18 miles from Castello di Meleto in Gaiole, to explore this historic region, with its ancient history ties to the Castello. Our tour guide for Siena Camilla Curcio was arranged by our host Antonia Caserta.

Camilla Curcio’s specialty is freelancer leisure travel and tourism, and she’s really good at it. As we stood in front of the Siena Cathedral, she explained that she was born in the building just 20 feet from us. At the time, it was Siena’s hospital. Let’s just say, she’s about as connected as anyone can possibly be to Siena right now, in these modern times. As Camilla was explaining one historically significant point of the town, and its connections to horses, I noticed all of the door knockers in the narrow passage way. Every single one of them had a horse knocker. They proclaim and celebrate their connection to a historic event.

[PHOTO: Camilla Curcio]

Siena, Italy and Horses are Intrinsically Entwined with History

The Palio di Siena is a horse race held twice each year, in Piazza del Campo, on July 2 and again on August 16, in the town’s arena. As it happened, this year was going to have a third one on the weekend. Why three races, in all of its years of existence of only holding two? Siena was readying for the 100th Anniversary for the ending of World War I. I had to let that sink in. We have no such celebration in the US for the ending of wars in the US. However, we do celebrate the anniversary of the publication for the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain in 1776. This Palio di Siena was gearing up to be a similar extravaganza as our fourth of July, on steroids.

This is the arena for the Palio di Siena bi-annual horse race.

I could feel the energy of everything and everyone around us getting ready. We were standing in front of a horse stall, when I took this picture of Senora Camilla. In just a few days, this alleyway was going to be closed to people and filled with equestrian activities regarding the race.

[PHOTO: Mikhail Mandrygin]

How the race works: 10 horses, bareback riders, all dressed in appropriate colors, with each one representing one of the seventeen city wards. (There must be some doubling up on the wards for some of the riders.) Word has it it’s extremely competitive and really fun to watch by the crowd that hovers into the central town arena.


Castello di Meleto ~ Food, Wine, and Fellowship in Siena 

At the day’s end of our Sienna adventure, we walked to our dinner, being held at Ristorante Guido.

The mixing of  history and culture – from the first half of our day in Siena – gave us all an appetite, so segued into what every wine region enjoys as dusk falls on the regions: camaraderie, great wines, authentic fare, and experiences to go with it.

At one point I felt like I had sucked in my Ribollita so quickly, I hadn’t even thought to take time and focus on a decent image of the bounty before us. A lot of it also had to do with the amount of information we were all taking in. Like, the Ribloita… I had experienced it the day before, and when given an opportunity to have it again, I couldn’t resist. This is a favorite cultural treasure I found. I’m betting if you don’t know you, this can make you drool.


A baker bakes daily. The following day, the bread is a bit more dry, so you use it in a “soup of the day:”

Broth from – let’s say – turkey broth that you made from bones, herbs, and spices, that you earlier boiled for a few hours. (For me, it’s left over from a holiday turkey, that I process into broth and freeze until I need some of it.)

Then, combine the broth with vegetables, herbs you grabbed from the garden (or organic bin at the grocery) and chopped up a bit, some crushed garlic for good health. Throw in some carrots, blanched tomatoes, celery, whatever makes sense… perhaps even some other day-old veggies or cannellini beans… Now, stir in your day-old bread. Place those ingredients into individual oven bakeware dishes, place in the oven… soaking in the bread and heating to a prefect bowl of soup on a cold winter’s day.

Grate some cheese to top it off and voila!

In this picture, left to right, Michele Contartese (sales director at the Castello), the restaurant’s sommelier in the distance, and wine writer Dr. Michael Apstein, taking copious notes.

So, the door knockers

Let’s get to it. A picture is worth a thousand more words, so here we go…

Meanwhile, I’d like to walk toward any of those doors, again, any day of my life. Meanwhile, these are the lingering flavors of Siena knocking.


Social media,Social Networking in Wine,Wine

10 Most Important Things I’ve Learned After Only Posting One Line A Day on Facebook in 2018

The year 2018 was very relevant to me. I had a life changing experience, most especially as it related to 1925. I took social media to a new experimental level. It has changed my life.


Asked in April if I missed my old way of posting, I quickly said, “No.” (Absolutely not, because I surely did put a positive, life-altering twist on it.)

10 Most Important Things I’ve learned after focusing and… Only Posting Once a Day on Facebook for a Year ~ A Line A Day

  1. I learned whom, among my friends, also loves history.
  2. People really responded well to having a respite from the daily grind, because I read it very frequently.
  3. By day-7, since she never signed her diary with a point of reference (regrettably), I realized her name could simply be Alinea Day.
  4. Went deeper into developing existing relationships, though commenting on anyone who had taken the time to read A
    1. In the process, those relationships became much more meaningful.
    2. If I couldn’t find a new post by anyone – many don’t published every day – I then dug around in their photos… each still are worth a thousand words.
    3. Taking the time to learn a lot more about my friends made their lives matter so more more. People with whom I checked in daily, or just occasionally, I grew to know my neighborhood. HERE<DIV
  5. Jargon of 1925
      1. Horse related
        1. Shoe boil
        2. Wagon Shoe
        3. I stopped making a list, but I may read her diary again and update at that time.
      2. “Carried Aunt M.s oil stove down to her.” – Wagons carried, Trucks deliver
      3. Went to pictures (movies)
      4. “Coming down with grippe, I guess.”
      5. Made a pair of bloomers.
      6. New words/concepts
        1. Parure
        2. Painted floors
  6. Things long gone
    1. Prefatory, now simply called preface
    2. Wooden spools – all sewing concepts
    3. Surviving on horses for transportation for all daily functions.
    4. Alinea Day sewed a lot of slips, among other clothing items.
    5. Replacing a sleigh for a wagon, once slow was over; and, vice versa once snow arrived – store the wagon, bring out the sleigh.
  7. I had to REALLY restrain myself from posting occasional epiphanies that had no where to go. Examples:
    1. Why do people always say, Not to mentions, but then go on to mention it?
    2. That SUPER moment I had with my 4 year old grandson, who – after his bath, I helped from the bath water and wrapped him in a towel… He said, Can you carry me onto your bed, so I can get dresses and watch a move: “Yes, Max, I’ll carry you to my bed, but this is going to be the last time, since you’re now so heavy…” And later that evening, I danced out the strain…
    3. When did everything become a price point, instead of just a price? Who really  needs the point? Isn’t the point the price?
    4. The more you buy the more you saveSay what? The more I buy, the more I spend… Com’mon, who do you really think we are?
    5. As I drove past a field of horses in my neighborhood, and saw one of the horses fully endowed, I thought, “If some human men are circumcised, why not male horses?”
    6. As regards Bird Brain
      1. SHE: Looking out toward the gold finch feeding area, at 3:00 p.m. Most of the morning thistle is just about gone for the day.
      2. HE: Enters the room and says, “Have you seen how much thistle is on the ground? It’s a huge mound. Can that be recycled? It’s such a high pile.”
      3. SHE: Who had noticed how high the pile was that very morning (16 inch peak), “Yeah I know about that pile. Look at those little gold finch hanging upside down, on the bottom and just that little piece of netting. So few of them will eat there, now, while that huge pile of thistle seeds is there right beneath them. Yeah, that’s why they’re called bird brains.”
    7. Emailing with a publisher friend, he was sad that “the new wine study certainly has made it very difficult, if not impossible, to make a positive claim about alcohol and health.
        1. My response: I wouldn’t let the alt right affect this book being published. That’s what they want… But, age does get better with wine. We sip it with delight, we know what it took to get to the point of maturity, we understand the aging process, and we marvel at the sun going down with a glass of wine in our hands. If the alt right only knew that it helps with digestion, it might cure their constipation.
  8. I found my core again. I found a common core… Could it be a trend?
    1. Joel Vincent has joined the focused brigade:”So I’ve decided to post a daily ”uplifting” story for a year. I tell my kids when they get home ”before you tell me the bad thing that happens I need you to think of a good thing, then I’ll listen.””So I’m going to hold myself to that standard.”I will tag it ”#uplifting””And I will tell you, spending 5 mins searching for something uplifting once a day feels pretty good. It’s actually not that hard…”
  9. By early December, not only was I contemplating what would happen in 2019, but others (who had also come to love Alinea) were finding it difficult to let her just simply vanish back into thin air.
    1. From my friend Terry Mcnulty: Oh, Jo. I am really going to miss these little notes from long ago. Thanks for sharing with us.
    2. Jo to Terry: What if I kept it going, which I can into 2019. All of her entries re there for next year, too. I’m conflicted. Would I drive people crazy, or would I just continue as we get to know our friend better?

My beat will go on in 2019, with some modifications. This year, I’m free to be… The following people who helped to make A Line A Day Special.

A Line A Day visitors

1. Aileen Casanave
2. Alan Wastell
3. Alisa Gean
4. Alison Smith Story
5. Alissa Fehr Leenher
6. Amy Navor
7. Ana Keller
8. Antonia Caserta
9. Andrea McMillan
10. Andrew A Govatsos
11. Barb Kotts
12. Barbara Jean Barrielle
13. Barbara Trigg
14. Becca Gomez Farrell
15. Beck Hopkins
16. Ben Drury
17. Benjamin Webster
18. Betsy Nachbaur
19. Betsy Walker
20. Bonnie Bissonnette
21. Brian Showalter
22. Bubba Gelly
23. Carole Meredith
24. Carole Murphey
25. Carolyn Lewis
26. Cathrine Todd
27. Cathy Huyghe
28. Cheryl Bringuez
29. Cheryl Dupris
30. Cheryl Wolhar
31. Christian Callec
32. Christine Havens
33. Claire Pecqueux
34. Cora Tabarrini
35. Corinne Reichel
36. Daisy Damskey
37. David Anthony Hance
38. Deb Masselli Clarke
39. Debbie Shu
40. Deborah Gray
41. Deborah Parker Wong
42. Dee Elliott Marken
43. Delphine Brouard
44. Denise Fraser
45. Denise Lowe
46. Dennis Figueroa
47. Dezel Quillen
48. Diane Boulay Moncrief
49. Ed Morris
50. Eduardo A. Dingler
51. Elaine Roop
52. Elisa Burroughs
53. Elizabeth Smith
54. Elizabeth Vianna-Hill
55. Ellen Scott Landis
56. Elliot Essman
57. Eric Hwang
58. Erin Tomko
59. Fredric Koeppel
60. Gigi Rollin-Penn
61. Ginny Clapp
62. George B. O’Connell
63. George Rose
64. Georgia Mona Choate
65. Gina Angela
66. Grace Keller
67. Greg Lint
68. Gretchen Snowe Bly
69. Guita Mesriani
70. Gwendolyn Lawrence Alley
71. Heidi McLain
72. Heidi Stine
73. Holly Berry
74. Howard G. Goldberg
75. Howard Greenblatt
76. Hugh Hamilton (200)
77. Irene Graziotto
78. Jamie Silver
79. Jan Chiri
80. Jane Hodges Young
81. Janet Johansen
82. Jay Walman
83. Jayan Landry
84. Jean Jacote
85. Jeanette Van Der Steen
86. Jeannine Pelletier
87. Jeff Stai
88. Jennifer L. Massey
89. Jill Simmons
90. Jim Caudil
91. JoAnn Actis-Grande
92. Joe Brizz
93. Joe Gargiulo
94. John Corcoran
95. Jose Diaz
96. Julie Brosterman
97. Julie Pedroncelli St John
98. Karen Senne Hill
99. Kate Morgan-Corcoran
100. Kathleen Willcox
101. Kathryn Johnson
102. Kathy Lang Wiedemann
103. Katie Gomez
104. Katie Jalbert Kelley
105. Katrina Morss Commesso
106. Keith Edwards
107. Ken Payton
108. Kerri Visconi Cooper
109. Kerry Damskey
110. Kevin Gagnon
111. Kimberly Noelle Charles
112. Kristin Wastell
113. Lana Bortolot
114. Lashan Rangana
115. Laura Ness
116. Laura Ramey
117. Laurin Beckhusen
118. Leah Osberg
119. Leeann Froese
120. Len Dest
121. Leslie Caccamese
122. Leslie Spitzer
123. Lettie Teague
124. Lisa Klinck-Shea
125. Lisa Verville
126. Liudas Gužas
127. LM Archer
128. Lorrie S. LeBeaux
129. Luminita Dane
130. Lydia Lewin
131. Lyla Diaz Moore
132. Lynn Gowdy
133. Mac McClary
134. Mara Farrell
135. Marcia Macomber
136. Mark Krigbaum
137. Mark Squires
138. Marlene Rossman
139. Marty Johnson
140. MaryAnn Sullivan
141. Melanie Hoffman
142. Mia Morelli
143. Michael LeBlanc
144. Michael Yurch
145. Michelle Williams
146. Mieke Fielmch (Liudas friend)
147. Mona Ashbaugh
148. Monica Kårbro (Liudas friend)
149. Nancy Brazil
150. Nancy Weil Brown
151. Nicole Marino
152. Odette Therrien
153. Oneca Jarrett
154. Pamela Heiligenthal
155. Pamela Klein
156. Pamela Murphy-Dyer
157. Pat Taylor
158. Paul Boazu (Liudas friend)
159. Paul Manchester
160. Paul Moe
161. Paulette Labbe Crowley
162. Pete Clarke
163. Phyllis Zouzounis
164. Punky Mahle Simpson
165. R. Ruth Linden
166. Renee Mejid Mueller
167. Rich Mauro
168. Richard Ray (Pete’s friend)
169. Rita Conner
170. Robert Saks
171. Robin Dohrn-Simpson
172. Robin Ivy Payton
173. Robin Young
174. Ronald Plunkett
175. Ross Rylance
176. Rui Bastos-Amaro
177. Russ Winton
178. Sabrina Silva
179. Sandra Crittenden
180. Sandy Barrett
181. Sandy Grimmel
182. Sarah May Grunwald
183. Sarah Stierch
184. Sarah Tracey
185. Sean Allen Driggers
186. Seth T. Buckley
187. Shandra Bishop
189. Sharon Olson
190. Sharon Webb
191. Shauna Rosenblum
192. Shelia Martel
193. Shelley Esson
194. Shelford Trotman
195. Stephanie Douglas
196. Stephanie Trotter-Zacharia
197. Stephen Mitchell
198. Steve Heimoff
199. Sue Patterson
200. Sue Straight
201. Susan Foppiano-Valera
202. Susanne Carlberg
203. Tara L Thomas
204. Tatum Reynolds
205. Terry Cloutier Willard
206. Terry Mcnulty
207. Thea Dwell
208. Tracey LaPierre
209. Tracey Richardson
210. Vida Gužienė (Liudas friend)
211. Viviana Vecchione TheWine’sFringe
212. Washington Kipkurui


Cabernet Sauvignon,France,French Wine,Syrah,Wine

Wine For “Happy New Year” ~ The “After Bubbles” Thirst for “What’s Next?”

[Photo: sapannpix]

Surely, the wine on New Years Eve and New Years Day don’t only include bubbles, right? Sometimes it’s great fun to be out on New Years Eve and last long enough to segue into “what’s next?”

In large events with crowds, we don’t really have to think about what’s next. We we’re living it and drinking whatever’s handy. Eventually, we go from bubbles into another phase. For some of us, it’s red wine. That’s what this one is all about…

What Red wines are the final destination after glitzy Champagne, we’re headed to glamorous Reds.

Sometimes it’s fun to have a party with friends.

  • Menus of foods: gathering, prep, cooking, and serving
  • You get to hang out with people you’re closer to.

There’s a deeper level of intimacy. You’re paying attention to your wine’s flavors, while still learning more about the people you’re with. Stories are being shared, and you might even be discussing the wines along with the weather and sports.

[PHOTO: hkt83000]

Then, there are those times, when just being at home – you, the couple – is the most intriguing.

The home date is alluring: cooking together, sharing more intimate interests; wining and dining to explore mutual dreams, perhaps fulfilled in the coming year? Nothing else matters…

[PHOTO: hkt83000]

It’s the party folks and the lovers, to whom I’m addressing right here. Over the last few months, I’ve enjoyed the following wines, and they’re definitely worthy of your enjoyment, too, if you’re thinking about having a tasty adventure with red wine on New Year’s Eve.


[PHOTO: Jo Diaz] ~ Each wine is a sample from the wine company named.

  • HEART ~ THE WINERY: This information came from the wineries’ notes
  • SCIENCE ~ WINEMAKING: Also from the winery
  • SOUL ~ Jo’s Musings


Eponymous Cabernet Sauvignon 2014


Robert L. Pepi knows what it’s like not to own his own name.  When his family sold the renowned Robert Pepi Winery in 1994, the label lived on.  But, Bob Pepi himself cannot put it on a wine label. Therefore, the first wine that Bob has made for himself since the sale of the family name has a label that reflects both his belief that “wine should be fun” and explains his predicament.  Eponymous is “one for whom or which something is or is believed to be named.”  Bob Pepi has given it his own playful definition, “a play on words by one who is unable to use his family name on his own bottle of wine.”  Vineyards are in both the Napa and Sonoma valleys:

  • Napa Valley: Eastern Hills north of the city, 300 feet above the Silverado Trail.
  • Sonoma Valley: Just over the peak of Mount Veeder on the Sonoma side of the Mayacamas Range that separates Napa Valley from Sonoma Valley.



This wine was made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from two distinctly different sites. Over 75 percent of the blend is from Mt. Veeder – a core vineyard that winemaker Bob Pepi has been utilizing for more than seven years – and one from the bench lands below Atlas Peak Appellation. The wonderful 2014 harvest was marked by a long growing season that started in early Spring, allowing long hang-times that, along with the moderate heat, aided in even maturation. The result was good, ripe fruit at moderate sugar levels. After picking, hand-harvested fruit was fermented with utmost care and the resulting wine was aged 20 months in 70 percent new oak (90 percent French and 10 percent American), with frequent racking the first year.


This is a very complex and special wine; one that’s indeed shared with aficionados, on occasions like New Year’s Eve.

Eponymous Cabernet is alluring in its aromas, delightful in its sumptuous flavors, and is stunning in its long and linger finish of black currant and tobacco.

Equating it to Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Bal du moulin de la Galette: It’s an example of a captivating, social occasion, with its depth of colors, and strength of purpose: Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Bal du moulin de la Galette comes to mind (Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette).

[Bal du moulin de la Galette is found in the collection at Musée d’Orsay, Paris]

SHIRVINGTON Cabernet Sauvignon, McLaren Vale, Australia ~ 2104


Shirvington was founded in 1996, by Paul and Lynne Shirvington (with sons Tony and Mark), with the planting of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon vines in their first vineyard, Redwind.  The 16 hectares [39.5369 acres] of red clay and limestone soil are located in Willunga, just south of McLaren Vale, that was chosen by the Shirvingtons for the area’s ability to consistently produce outstanding table wines of great character and quality.  Further purchases in 1997 and 2001 saw the development of two new vineyards, Kurrawyba and Manjalda, in McLaren Flat and McLaren Vale itself.


The Estate-grown grapes for this 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon come from the Redwind Vineyard that the Shirvingtons planted on red and black clay over limestone soil in 1996. Sustainable farming practices are used in all Shirvington vineyards. The wine was 100 percent barrel-fermented, and aged for 19 months in 100 percent French oak (33 percent was new oak, 11 percent was 1-year-old oak, and 56 percent was 2-year-old oak).

[PHOTO byrdyak]


This highly acclaimed Shirvington Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the most important wine-producing area in the Fleurieu appellation, and is highly regarded throughout the world for its ability to craft fine wines, including this Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s a favorite region for growing Cab, because the climate is Mediterranean.

This Shirvington 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is known for its ranges of classic, deep ruby colors… think deep and elegant, black fruit, that reminding us of plush, black velvet. Its totem is the black panther, against vanilla notes emerging from its oak barrel’s aging process. Smooth and steady…


Department 66 “Others” Red Wine, Côtes Catalanes IGP, Roussillon

Maury France ~ 2014

In the southwest corner of France lies Department 66. Having moved to this location, Dave Phinney continues his illustrious wine career, naming his new Brand Department 66, in honor of the location, the inspiration for his now “namesake” winery and vineyards in the town of Maury, France.


FROM DAVE PHINNEY: In March of 2008, I took a friend up on an offer to visit Maury, France. She and her husband had recently purchased vineyards in the area and thought I may have an interest in the town and its wines. We flew from San Francisco to Barcelona and made the two-hour drive up to Maury that night. When we arrived it was pitch black…I had no idea what the morning light would bring.

When I awoke, what I saw was insane. I looked out my bedroom window and saw one of the steepest, oldest vineyards I had ever laid eyes on. I was in – hook, line and sinker. It was a challenge to be polite and get through breakfast. If this is what I could see from my bedroom, what else was out there? The answer was perhaps the most amazing confluence of vineyards I’ve ever been exposed to. I spent the next two days driving around with my jaw agape, stunned by the raw beauty of this truly unique place. I called my wife and told her not to tell anyone where I was and what I was doing. She told me not to do anything stupid. I left that first visit committed to purchasing just under forty acres of amazing old vine Grenache. The only stupid thing I did was not buy more. Since then, I’ve returned at least once a month during the regular season, and every seven to ten days during harvest.


Deep in the Southwest corner of France lies Department 66, which serves as the inspiration and namesake for our winery and vineyards in the town of Maury. Roughly two hours east of Barcelona, Spain, and thirty minutes inland from the ancient Roman port city of Perpignan, old vine Grenache thrives along with Syrah and Carignan in the “Cotes Catalanes;” a sub-appellation of the Roussillon.

We own and maintain 300 acres (120 hectares) of vineyards among the Pyrénées-Orientales mountain range, which were planted more than 60 years ago. The terroir is dominated by black schist, with small deposits of granite and limestone in red, rocky soils known as angile.


This “Other” Red Wines is a blend of Grenache, Carignan, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. Very much a Rhône-style blend, its deep ruby color congers up flavors of each variety: Grenache brings in the lavender, Carignan has the baking spices, Syrah’s saddle leather introduces hints of earthiness, and Mourvedre finishes off the trailing spices on the finish.

This is a rich, French wine; there’s no doubt about that. It’s extremely well made, as I’ve found with any of David Phinney’s wines, because he’s committed to wines that are approachable, lively, and very easy to enjoy. This Department 66 “Others” Red Wine is no exception. Perfectly well balanced in acidity, the depth of the wine’s structure leaves you with a long, smooth finish. This is ONE tasty wine.

The image below speaks to the location’s terroir, in general. [PHOTO: Richard Semik ~ Vineyard of Maury in Languedoc-Roussillon, France]

[PHOTO: Richard Semik]

Department 66 “D66” Grenache, Côtes Catalanes IGP

Maury France ~ 2014


FROM DAVE PHINNEY: In the spring of 2009, we began construction on a winery and now have over three hundred acres of vineyards. We have a home there and an amazing group of friends. My wife and kids love it almost as much as I do. Someone once commented on how nice it was to have a second home in France and I said, it’s not my second home, it’s my other home. We have found a place and a group of people that are unmatched. I am so lucky to have been introduced to this amazing area and so proud to share its wines with you.


A saturated cardinal hue belted in garnet is revealed in the glass.  The nose brims with an impeccable oak profile with shaded oak tree accents. A mineral cast of alluvial soil can be detected as well, which frames a vibrant perfume of red berry fruits, cassis, cardamom, and exotic spices. The entry bursts with a vibrant blueberry and cassis concentrate that is rounded out with the richness of a crème brûlée, or crema catalana.  The mid palate has vibrant acidity with distinctive mineral notes of garrigue, stone, and schist. Closing with purpose, the wine boasts silky tannins and a lengthy finish of sublime


I loved this wine. I huge Grenache fan, and the 2014 D66 Grenache delivered all that I love about Grenache: It’s very aromatic on the nose and delectable on the palate — the nose draws you in, the palate holds you there with raspberry and black tea flavors. Always look for the hint of lavender, like this one has, and you know you’ve arrived to Grenacheland. Because it’s coming form Maury, expect to find minerality… It’s just part and parcel of Maury…

These are my four red wines, heading into what to do after the bubble have you light and lively, and wanting to get down with some red. These reds will more than do the trick. New Year’s magic, in bottles.

May the magic of the New Year be all yours to enjoy!


Book Sample,Books,Importer Search,Imports,Wine,Wine Book,Wine Business

How to Import Wine, An Insider’s Guide ~ Second Edition

How to Import Wine, An Insider’s Guide ~ Second Edition by Deborah M. Gray, is an important wine book for anyone importing wine; most especially for a novice in the aspects of our wine business. I once tried to get a novice to read this book, as I was working with the neophyte. That person no longer has any wine brands, and has turned the attention to leading people on European tours. When I was working with her, I was let go. Why? I was told, “Great publicity, Jo, but this person doesn’t know what to do with it.”

There are “how to” books; when it comes to importing, this THE ONE

How to Import Wine, An Insider’s Guide ~ Second Edition is critical for those wanting to break into the business; and it’s also important for those already in the business, because the nature of the wine industry is ever changing. We just have to keep up or bow out. According to Deborah Gray

For me, writing is actually engaging in the pursuit that brings me the most pleasure and sense of fulfillment in life. I wish I’d discovered that many years before I did. I feel compelled to write; I cannot not write. Ideas, plots, characters, dialogue and story lines swirl around my head all the time and some of them make their way to the page as fiction. With non-fiction it is a desire to provide accurate information, insight and perhaps inspiration for others, to enable them to move forward in their own career choices.

Since the 2011 publication of the first edition of How to Import Wine, tectonic changes have fundamentally reshaped the US wine business landscape. This comprehensively revised edition puts this new environment into a manageable, actionable context.

Novices and veterans alike will be able to identify dangers and new opportunities, in such areas as

  • Federal and state regulations
  • Evolving distribution practices
  • The impact of social media
  • How to appeal to newly emerging, Millennial trendsetters


“I wish I had had Deborah Gray’s book at hand, during my wine importing days. This book is essential reading.” –Thomas Matthews, Wine Spectator

“I didn’t think a book about the wine business could be as interesting to read, as this book was; but, I found it very hard to put down. You feel like you are having a personal conversation with a friend that is very knowledgeable about the business.  –Boris Gutierez, Chilean-wine.com

“I think it is the best and most comprehensive piece on the subject I’ve seen in print. I am certain this book will make a valuable contribution to the wine industry.” –Janeed Olsen, PhD, Professor of Wine Marketing, Sonoma State University, and author of Wine Marketing and Sales.


  • Established her first wine importing company in the US in 1992
  • Has travelled to forty of the fifty states throughout her wine career
  • Worked with distributors
  • Conducted wine dinners and tastings
  • Spoken at wine festivals and conferences
  • Appeared on radio and television
  • Served on the Wine Board of the Australian Trade Commission for many years
  • Instructor at San Diego State University, teaching wine importing and distribution

And, she just became a US Citizen!


California,Philanthropy Thru Wine,Wine

In The Season of Giving, and the Biggest Wine County Heart Beats On

I’ve had the pleasure and honor to have worked along side of some pretty amazing people in my lifetime. This is one of those people… A man who has so much heart, that he’s gearing up to one day give someone else the gift of renewed life, as he once received. I mean really, who would ever dream this up, but someone with an enormous heart? Ron Rubin is that man. 

Below is a business press release that I crafted for Ron, of Ron Rubin Winery. A press release is a front label, not the back one.

The back label of any great wine bottle, for instance, has the heart and soul of the matter. It’s the heart and soul that means the most to the messages… The daily celebration of each new participating Winery in Ron Rubin’s Trained For “Saving Lives” program is what drives his passions. Since his program in late of 2017 and the counting began, it hasn’t stopped, and it’s now slightly over a year later.


Ron thought about a program to save lives, made the decision to initiate it,  did some research about the necessity, and when it all came down to it, research was vague relating to wine country and any incidents. But, that didn’t stop Ron from continuing his forward movement. Ron Rubin  purchased 450 Automated External Defibrillators (AED) from ZOLL, and then set up Red Cross Training for those wine companies with the AEDs, so people would be confident in a crisis to use one. 

Ron Rubin is continuing with the distribution, until all 450 AEDs have been placed in wine country. It began locally in his own Sonoma County, and has now spread outward to include the entire state of California. Ron is a one-man band in this effort, and organizations are noticing his philanthropic efforts. The number of AEDs place in 2019, will continue to grow, with more California’s wineries being equipped to save a life, if necessary. There will continue to be emphasis on local winery advocacy groups, that will share the message with their members, about this great “free” offer. There is a modest fee for the Red Cross training; that said — the AED’s have a suggested retail value of $1,700 for each one. The modest training fee guarantees a greater success rate. It’s imperative.

This is the year’s report card of Ron Rubin’s efforts to have wine country be more heart safe. On Ron’s Website the full list of participants is available.

Awarded on December 14:

Ron Rubin Receives Second Trained For “Saving Lives” Award
at the 18th Annual “Spirit of Sonoma Awards” Ceremony

The Sonoma County Winegrape Commission successfully nominated Ron Rubin for a 2018 Spirit of Sonoma Award, at the Annual Spirit of Sonoma County Award luncheon, December 14, 2018, at the Doubletree Hotel in Rohnert Park.

Each year, Sonoma County businesses are invited to nominate someone who embodies the spirit of their community. The award “honors those individuals who contribute to the economic development and enhancement of the communities in which they live, work, and conduct business through donations of their time and expertise in support of local business and in helping others.”

Ron Rubin, owner and president of Ron Rubin Winery in Sebastopol, received this award for creating his Trained For “Saving Lives” program, in collaboration with the American Red Cross and Zoll Medical Corporation.

Rubin has covered the cost of placing automated external defibrillators (AEDs), with his outreach now including all 450 qualifying California wineries. To date, 185 AED units have been provided, and over 1,000 winery staff personnel have been trained by the American Red Cross in CPR, AED, and First Aid.

According to Ron Rubin, “I’m very honored to have received this Spirit of Sonoma Award. My TRAINED FOR “SAVING LIVES” program is an effort to have California wineries provide the safest, wine country experience possible, for both staff and consumers, alike. When people visit California wineries, their health and safety are very important.”

Awarded on December 4, 2018:

Ron Rubin Is Honored by North Bay Business Journal

For His Trained For  Saving Lives Program

North Bay Business Journal held its annual award ceremony, for North Bay Area business leaders. In total, twenty-five winners were named for the 2018 Wine Industry + Spirits Awards, WINnovation Awards, and for a special award given to Ron Rubin, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Rohnert Park, on Tuesday, December 4, 2018.

Ron Rubin, owner and president for Ron Rubin Winery in Sebastopol, received this award for creating his Trained For  “Saving Lives” program, in collaboration with the American Red Cross and Zoll Medical Corporation.

Rubin has covered the cost of placing automated external defibrillators (AEDs); not only at North Bay wineries, but has also expanded his outreach to include all qualifying California wineries. To date, 176 AED units have been provided.

According to Ron Rubin,  “I’m very honored to have received this North Bay Business Journal award.”

Congratulations, Ron. You’re amazing.