Advocacy Group,African American Vintners,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Making,Wine Marketing,Wine Philology,Winemaker,Winemaking,Winery,Wines

Addressing Racism in Wine ~ From a Unique Perspective

Let’s just say, I have stories I can tell and some I can’t. It would rock the wine world with disclosures. So, yes, from a personal perspective it exists. I have a blended marriage, I married the love and light of my life, who also happens to be Puerto Rican. Our love is quite private, so that’s almost all I’m going to say about this brilliant man. I’ll refer to him once more, before my story is finished.

Wine Industry Racism Exist, of Course

Why wouldn’t it; it’s everywhere else?

I have to thank Wine Spectator for a quick story told in the December issue of 1999, about the Brown Estate in Napa Valley. It wasn’t a full-page story; but, it was a feature in the early pages of the magazine and it caught my eye. Written by MaryAnn Worobiec, I remember the story well. (MaryAnn is very progressive and cool!) I have an interest in people of color… I always have and always will. I cherish humanity. Pigment is only skin deep, and the world would be utopian if we all simply understood that. Show me someone with heart and soul and it could be a martian, for all I care. I’ll accept it. This would be a really big picture story.

Service Makes Life Worth Living

Being into wine, being a wine writer, and being a marketer, I know a good story when I see one; and, I know when I can advocate for one, too. Prior to this major commitment, my other life’s projects to advance the arts and humanities:

  • Created a community landscape garden project in Lewiston and Auburn, Maine, at the Veterans Memorial Bridge, spanning the two cities.
    • I lost six grammar school classmates, during the Vietnam War. Their entire unit was bombed. A monument was created on both sides of this bridge.
    • I got to honor them, though the Chamber of Commerce and a landscaped gardens, on both sides of the bridge.
  • Created a scholarship for immigrants and refugees in Portland, Maine, at the University of Southern Maine, through the English as a Second Language Program.
    • After an interview with Bart Weiand at USM, I learned how easy it is to integrate immigrant and/or refugee talent into our community.
    • I did this through my Portland Maine Rotary Club. It began with two scholarships (I only asked for one). Today I believe it’s grown to about 12 of them.
  • Director of a Girl Scout Day-Camp for 200 kids and 50 leaders.
      • I managed everything, from staff to arranging bus transport from the city to the country 15 miles into the woods, on a pond. I was responsible for setting up 10-tent units with the US Army, digging latrines, bringing in a water buffalo for drinking water, food, units, special projects, swimming, taking it down, and any sneezes that happened along the way.
      • Gratis to the Girl Scouts of America for a few years.


African American Vintners

Everything I did above was done with a passion for those at the end of receiving. It’s always been about getting the projects done.  So, I saw something, had this dream; and, once more banged my way through it. This project was to be called the Asociation of African American Vintners. Knowing what I know about this business, this would be a worthy long-range project, for the sake of humanity.



If one brand already existed, there must be more African American vintners, I thought. In an interview with a Sonoma County vintner, I learned about Dr. Ernest Bates in Napa Valley (Black Coyote Winery). My husband and I made a dinner date with him, because I had an idea and I wanted to run it by him; namely, a group of African American vintners. He was very gracious and thought I had a decent idea. He also told me about the late Dr. Marvin Poston (Poston Crest Vineyards), so I made another appointment, and off we went again. Marvin and his wife were so charming and hospitable, I was riding pretty high. I got a lead for another African American vintner Mac McDonald of Vision Cellars. We invited his wife and him to our home for a meeting. Although he found it interesting, he wasn’t quite so sure. Why trust me, right, and I understood? What did I want? I stressed that all I wanted to do was to advocate for African American Vintners, so he decided to go cautiously forward with me. He mentioned Vance Sharp (formerly owned Sharp Cellars), so one more meeting and one more member of a forming group.

This group wouldn’t have begun this process without those mentioned above, who shared my dream. I do have to say that I had communications with three more African owned wineries, but they didn’t have a need for an organization at the time. I became their marketing executive director, and Mac McDonald became the founder.

I had also started PS I Love You, the advocacy group for Petite Sirah, at the exact same time in 2002. PS I Love You had many more members and many more demands. So, the evolutionary was great timing for all of us, and I was very busy.

Also, a guiding factor was that within one year the news of the African American Vintners had grown with such visibility, which became worldwide. When I got the clipping from Mylasia, my goal of rocking the world with this information had been met. I knew they really didn’t need me anymore.

In that one year for the African American Vintners, the amount of requests for these vintners to show up and promote their wines was completely overwhelming and impossible. Emails came in from all over the United States. Each member vintner at the time was only making a few hundred cases. Within no time, they would have given their entire production away, just to promote it. It just wasn’t sustainable, with only four members. It was time to completely turn it over to the group. I stepped down.



Reading this headline: 23 BLACK-OWNED WINE BUSINESSES IN THE U.S.

I read it and was thrilled to see so many more Black vintners beginning their wine journey dreams, too. I urge writers to keep telling this story. Dreamers gotta dream, we advocates will keep working on breaking racial barriers. Pigment is only skin deep. All else is about believing everyone is human and no man or woman is an island.

I truly hope the wine industry gets behind this current movement. Another best part: It was so gratifying to hear on Public Radio that the amount of people in today’s marches against racism far outweighs the few white people who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King. In fact, these marches have more Anglos than Blacks marching. We’re evolving ever so slowly, but we’re evolving.

Thank you to Wine Business and Wine Industry Insight for featuring this story online.


Early Story on Wine Blog

June 19 ~ Juneteenth ~ Association of African American Vintners is Slowly Growing



Art in Wine,Beaujolais,Contest,France,French Wine,Gamay,Wine,Wine Appreciation,Wine Culture,Wine Marketing

Winner of Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau Artist Revealed ~ Maeve Croghan

This is the fourth annual wine label competition for the Georges Duboeuf winery, in Beaujolais, France. It’s wonderful that winner Maeve Croghan is currently living and working in the Mendocino, California area, where she teaches and exhibits…  She’s almost a neighbor to my Geyserville location, which means I’ll get to visit with her in the future. (I’m pretty excited.)

[PHOTO used with permission of Maeve Croghan. I like to think of this one as “When the artist is the art…”]

From Maeve’s Website:

Maeve Croghan’s innovative interpretations of the nature painting genre have gained her much acclaim. Maeve grew up living every summer on a remote island in Northern Michigan. Here she developed a deep reverence for the lakes, woods, the surrounding lands and nature. When Maeve first visited California many years ago, she was overwhelmed by the magnificence of California’s natural beauty.  She paints from a deep spiritual connection to the environment. Her love of the land is understood in her color-filled paintings.

Maeve’s oil paintings are begun outside. She intensely observes the environment, becoming immersed in it as she paints. The paintings are finished in the studio from her memory and personal exploration and interpretation, without photo references.

Maeve has been painting since she was 15. She studied at the San Francisco Art Institute [BFA program] for many years, as well as Reed College, the Portland Museum Art School, and the Corcoran School of Art.  She has a BA from New College of California in ‘Art and Education’ focusing on Art and Social Change.

This year had a record number of submissions and votes… It’s growing in popularity and why not? The Georges Duboeuf Hameau du Vin Museum holds so much impressive art and artifacts dating way back in history… This new art is a continuation of their commitment to art, as artists and lovers of art looking forward to the contest each year.

Press Release

NAPA, CA (June 11, 2020) — Georges Duboeuf’s highly-anticipated competition to find the best original artwork for the U.S. label of its Beaujolais Nouveau concluded with a record-breaking number of submissions and votes. In its fourth year, the online contest received more than 1,000 entries from emerging artists and an impressive 10,000 votes from art lovers across the country.

The winner is Maeve Croghan, a Virginia native who lives and works in the Mendocino, CA area. She will receive a cash grant and the honor of having her work debuted on over one million bottles of Duboeuf’s 2020 Beaujolais Nouveau, Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau and Beaujolais Nouveau Rosé, when the wines are released on the third Thursday of November this year (November 19, 2020).

“In a time where there is so much uncertainty, I cannot express how elated and thankful I am for this opportunity,” says Croghan. “It is an amazing feeling to have my work recognized by such a remarkable brand as Georges Duboeuf.” Maeve’s winning painting, Russett Vines, evokes a sense of timeless appreciation and connection to nature and the vines that give birth to the annual harvest. Using vibrant hues of gold, orange, and reds, “I wanted to relay a feeling of warmth and happiness, bringing attention to the beauty and splendor of the vines,” explains Croghan.

“Our family has long appreciated and valued the talents of local arts and artisans,” comments Franck Duboeuf, CEO of Les Vins Georges Duboeuf. “This contest is a continuation of that legacy and history of how art pairs so beautifully with wine.”

The annual Georges Duboeuf Artist Label Competition has grown exponentially year after year to support emerging artists in communities across the country. With over 10,000 total votes and thousands of likes and comments on social media, the 2020 competition saw the highest level of engagement yet.

Entries were submitted online via the competition’s website and 14 were selected as finalists by a combination of public vote and input from a panel of winery representatives and art experts. The finalists were announced on April 17, followed by a two-week period of public voting via the website and Social Media. Finalists were invited to share their submissions on their own accounts, finding support from fellow artists, friends, and family.

“We’re thrilled to see that the label contest continues to grow in popularity as it becomes something that artists and consumers look forward to each year,” explains Dennis Kreps, co-owner with his father, Stephen D. Kreps, of Quintessential, the exclusive importer of Les Vins Georges Duboeuf in the US. “The high levels of engagement and activity we received this year have provided our audience with a creative outlet to enjoy and celebrate at a time when we need it most.”

For more information, please contact Quintessential


Wine,Wine Accessories,Wine Appreciation,Wine Cans,Wine Culture,Wine Gift,Wine Hospitality,Wine Storage

A New Air is About, at this 110 Year Old Farm

New Air meets old air, in this charming farmhouse, built in 1910. There’s a sense of renewed spirit passing through. Old houses can hold such historical charm and a lingering culture of the times that each family has lived there, along the way. Around the homes are treasures of the past, with elements of metal, wood, large trees, and birds flittering through overhead branches. Imagine one of these treasured locations, when just starting a new family.

This is one place where I have respites with my family ~ one of those historical, neighborhood addresses now part of our family, while also adding to its history… as the Moore Love Farm.

The old rusty wagon frame greets everyone. How many people has it welcomed in the past? When did it arrive? Who did it carry over? From where did the original owners begin their journey?

Our family came from Maine to California:

  • Four people, each with two large bags and two smaller carry-ons.
  • Three cats and their crates.
  • A black lab and his crate.
  • Moving truck arrived days later.

I can’t even imagine how these brave souls gave up everything, wagons-ho! Honestly, the frames of these wagons were larger than life in movies of the old west. Now, I look at its tiny frame and wonder how the heck did anyone do that, as this art imitates history or is history imitating art?


I like the Feng Shui of this little farmhouse and its surrounding gardens. It’s filled with love from the family within, and that love extends to the many animals and plants that are at home on the property, including backyard hens, rabbits, two dogs, a cat, and an ever growing succulent collection. There’s room for kids to play, ride bikes, and run, and yet, it’s tucked away right in the middle of a suburban community.

From my daughter, Lyla: “Whether we’re entertaining or enjoying family time outdoors, the NewAir beverage refrigerator will add a very fun element, along with the pizza oven, and hot tub. This is the epitome of Northern California outdoor living.”

Jamal and Lyla have given Jose and me two beautiful grandsons to love, the family has security and comfort; and they continue to fantasize that one day Jose and I will have a permanent residence with them. It’s lovely of them.

Jamal is an incredibly generous person. Since the day we met, nothing has changed in that regard. I decided to turn the tables on him, and doing some forward-thinking here. I have the opportunity to sample a 24-inch NewAir beverage refrigerator, that will hold 18 bottles and 58 cans. I believe we’re going to need that much space for beverages for the day this ole hen comes home to roost.

As it arrived, it had a feel for the upgraded party center. We all love being out of doors. Jamal is having protection built around this space, in some already ongoing renovations. It also arrived before late spring, so it’s just settling in and outside is continuing to develop. When it arrived, Jamal said. “I had no idea it was going to be so … choked… very special.” Yes, Jamal it is.

 NewAir 24” Premium Built-in Dual Zone in the Backyard

This is not my first NewAir fridge, so I’m excited about the benefits of having some fun options. LED blue lights can be very sexy in the dark of night. (Why else would they be there?)

I’ve sat for hours in this backyard in celebrations, since the day of settling in, with family and friends. This entertainment fridge can handle all of the storage we need for any gatherings. Time is of the essence when putting parties together, right? He can stash the canned beverages in the fridge, while I stash some wine bottles.


  • Two cooling zones, separated by very cool French doors, so both wine and carbonated drinks are cooled to perfect temps.
  • It’s complete with premium finishes: seamless stainless-steel door frame, craftsman beech wood wine shelves, and an attractive blue LED light.
  • Build it into your cabinetry for a sophisticated, or – as in this case – a perfect spot for storing, and yet visually beautifuy=ul for those who spy it.
  • This is a perfect fridge for anyone wanting to have a variety of beverages, from wine to bee, to sodas to spritzers. 
  • The unit locks, so it’s not accessible for children.
  • This unit also had a “door open” alarm, which starts beeping if one of the doors is left open for more than 3 minutes.

I shared my NewAir! Now you can, too, if you’re so inclined. NewAir has given people who would like to purchase this wine fridge a 15 percent discount with the code: JO_DIAZ.  What’s not to love!

The product details: Model: AWB-400DB | UPC: 853138006686

For the sake of uniting with others: @newairusa #newairusa #ShareYourNewAir


Pinot Noir,Sample,Santa Barbara,Santa Barbara County,Wine

Wine Review: Lucas & Lewellen Wines are Santa Barbara Delicious

Pinot, Pinot, Pinot; we’re all pretty turned onto this one, right? After “Sideways, we all wanted to taste Santa Barbara Pinots, right?  The following 2016 Lucas & Lewellen Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara County, now defines Pinot in Santa Babara for me. Smooth, silky, and as delicate as violet flower petals.


When your history is that of family grape growing, you hold the earth in your hands at a much more reverent level. Wine grape growers are fascinating people, if you’ve never been able to have a one-on-one with such a person. Is it trite to say “they’re so down to earth?” Probably, but I don’t think anyone can say it enough.

Here’s a bit from Louis Lucas’s biography.

Louis Lucas is one of California’s premier wine grape growers and a legendary pioneer of the California Central Coast wine region. Prior to co-founding Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards with Royce Lewellen, Louis supplied premium wine grapes to many of the most famous wineries in Napa and Sonoma. Best known as an innovator and master at utilizing a variety of growing practices and techniques, Louis’ vast knowledge and viticulture experience span over 40 years.

Grandson of Croatian immigrants, Louis is originally from the Central Valley where his father was also a leading grape grower. Louis graduated from Notre Dame University with a degree in Finance and Business Economics. He returned to California to join the family’s wine and table grape business, in search of a place to grow premium varietal wine grapes. He became one of the first commercial wine grape growers in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties. During this time he developed Tepupsquet Vineyards in Paso Robles and in Santa Maria (now Cambria) and also developed Edna Valley Vineyards in San Luis Obispo and River Bench Vineyard in Santa Maria.

Louis Lucas studied the great vineyards of the world, when he toured wine regions throughout Europe, Australia, and Chile. This is the best experience, in my humble opinion, as I’ve had the opportunity to stand in many vineyards in countries outside of the US. They’ve been my most favorite experiences relating to wine. It’s so primal and visceral.

Product: Goodchild High 9 Pinot Noir

  • Producer: Lucas & Lewellen
  • Appellation: Santa Barbara County, California
  • Grape Variety: 100% Pinot Noir
  • Alcohol Strength: 14.5% by volume
  • pH: 3.62
  • Total Acidity: 5.52 g/l
  • Case Production: 1,218 six-bottle cases
  • Bottling Date: 12/2017
  • Release Date: 2/2019


Description: On the palate, it is light-bodied, with bright red fruit flavors, smooth tannins, and a lingering finish. I was enveloped in its delicate flavors. It truly defines what Santa Barbara can do with this wine variety.  It helps that viticulture is handled by long-time grape growers,

Winemaker’s Notes: The vineyards of Lucas & Lewellen are located in the three principal wine grape growing regions of Santa Barbara County: Santa Maria Valley; Los Alamos Valley; and Santa Ynez Valley. These valley vineyards benefit from a transverse mountain range topography, and an east-west orientation that channels cool ocean air from the Pacific into the coastal valleys. Warm days and cool nights produce a long and gentle growing season. This limited vintage Pinot Noir is from the highest nine acre block of the Goodchild Vineyard — an outstanding location to grow the superior clone 667. The winemaker feels that because the grapes and vines in this vineyard fully mature at the same time, which he believes rarely happens in vineyards around the world, it makes a major difference. The cool-climate Goodchild Vineyard produces award-winning Pinot Noir grapes. The soils vary from clay and gravel river deposits, to hillside and hilltop sites reminiscent of the great vineyards of Burgundy. The 2016 Pinot Noir was aged for ten months in 100% French oak barrels.

Serving Hints: This Pinot Noir is great to serve with dishes like roast chicken, turkey, duck, venison, and medium-firm cheeses.

Suggested Price: $34.99 – 2016 Vintage

Stock image of Santa Barbara County… It’s simply beautiful there and the wines are world-class.

SAMPLE: Quintessential Wines


History Wine,Israel,Video,Video by Diaz Communications,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Business Innovation,Wine Culture,Wine Ed,Wine Education,Winemaker

Episode 5 – Kerry Damskey – Going into More Details of Making Wine in Israel

Kerry Damskey talked about his first adventure into Costa Rica in Episode 4, with his new partner and friend Niv Benyehuda. Together they create Nana.

SIDEBAR FROM NIV’S WEBSITE: Niv, married to Costa Rican artist, Karen Retana Benyehuda, and father of Lee, Ben, and Dean grew up on the gentle shores of the warm Mediterranean Sea. Born in Israel in 1966, Niv is a second generation in the flavor and fragrance industry. He spent much time with his father Israel Benyehuda, who exposed him to the various cultures, smells, and flavors worldwide, which Niv enthusiastically embraced.

In Episode 5, Kerry returns with Niv, to Isreal. Off on another adventure and discoveries, with the same, extreme success of a snowball going down an extremely vertical mountainside, characteristically chuckling and digging in all way.

By now, we’ll all know that Kerry’s excitable joy with life has had everything to do with his global success and explorations. By now, you realize he’s asked himself more than once,  “Can wine grapes actually grow here? And, if so, how?”

[PHOTO: jkuma ~ Rocky hills of the Negev Desert in Israel early in the morning.]

Kerry brings a fresh pair of eyes to Israel’s Negev Desert… halfway between Telaviv and The Red Sea… The partnership develops in adventurous, winding wine, high desert ways, as Kerry falls in love, again with this Nana chapter.

In this Chapter, Kerry now introduces Eran “Nana” Raz – viticulturist and owner of Nana Estate Mitzpe Ramon. 





Movie ~ A Heavenly Vintage ~ Taking my own advice from “38 Wine Related Movies” story

[Photo of Valérie Rousselle from Rendez Vous Magazine]

38 Wine Related Movies ~ Time on your hands or need to stay connected? Covid 19 Survival


Starting at the top, I don’t have to watch A Good Year. It’s a personal favorite. I believe I’ve already watched it at least 20 times. It’s my “go to, gotta get back to the garden” movie. It’s about the tonal colors – blues and grays when in the city of London, pale yellows and green when in the countryside of Provence. There’s something to be said for dreaming it, and then becoming it. Last July, after having watched it (and purchasing a copy), I got to go to Provence. It was everything I had hoped it would be and a lot more. I was a guest of Valérie Rousselle and son Adrien Riboud, proprietors of Château Roubine Cru Classé. My follow-up story is called “When enjoying a Glass of Wine from Provence Involves a History Lesson of the Middle Ages.” Here, I was so comfortable, so thrilled to be there. I was living the dream, thanks to the generosity of Valérie and Adrien.


So, I jumped down to the next movie. Might as well go in alphabetical order, right? A Heavenly Vintage ~ In 19th Century France, a peasant winemaker endeavors to create the perfect vintage. This one is very dark. It’s the yang to the yin of A Good Year.

It demonstrates the passions of those (in the wine business, we all know at least one of this type of ambitious winemaker) who dedicates him or herself to creating “the” perfect wine. Set in the period of 19th century France, character Sobran Jodeau is a peasant winemaker, versus being someone who has inherited his craft from centuries of land ownership. The story has him dedicating himself into creating a perfect vintage. This is his driving force, as he also works on balancing three loves:

  • His sweet wife Celeste
  • An intellectual baroness Aurora de Valday
  • Xas, a guiding and seductive angel

Sobran grapples with the love of all three, against all odds, and then throw in a bit of Phylloxera. It is never brought up as such, but when you see those vines, just know that this was their devastating parallel to the pandemic of our time. Phyloloxera is a tiny louse that sucks the life out of a vine. France’s wine business all but perished in the late 1800s, after some native vines from the United States were brought to France.

FROM WIKI: Phylloxera was introduced to Europe when avid botanists in Victorian England collected specimens of American vines in the 1850s. Because Phylloxera is native to North America, the native grape species are at least partially resistant. … The problem spread rapidly across the continent. (There are differing opinions of how it got there, but the main point is that it did.)

This movie is captivating, and demonstrates what France was like in the late 1800s. And, it made me more appreciative for our own times, because we have a better life to begin with, by being kept up-to-date of our own problems.

Does he create that heavenly vintage? You decide.




Ancient Roman Grand Cru,Italy,Wine

From Atri with Love ~ Imagine Enjoying a Wine from an Ancient Roman Grand Cru?

Very interesting E-Mail from Vinum Hadrianum: the exact wine the Roman Emperors drank

With my team at Vinum Hadrianum, we produce wines concerning tradition, trying to revive the legendary Vinum Hadrianum, one of the seven renowned crus of the Roman Empire, from Atri, Abruzzo.

SIDEBAR: Atri is the setting of the poem The Bell of Atri by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Its name is the origin of the name of Emperor Hadrian.

[PHOTO: Atri, Teramo, Abruzzo, Italy: exterior of an old typical house with plants and flowers.]

“Our two limited edition wines are created from organic grapes. We use Trebbiano d’Abruzzo for our white “Aelio,” and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo for our red wine “Maximo.” They both are produced with extended skin contact, and are fermented and matured in traditional amphorae.

“We will soon bottle our first production of 2018. Feel free to share our attached story, or to just draw inspiration for a terrific blog post, and don’t hesitate to write back with questions and inquiries!”

Intriguing, to say the least. Wine-Blog has brought really interesting, historical wine facts from around the world for me to explore… Not this.

It wasn’t until I traveled to Europe and saw the majesty of ancient amphorae, lined against a wall, their terra cotta colored clay, their spigots ready for tapping at the bottom, the aromas of ancient history…

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz, Monsaraz, Portugal]

And, here is Vinum Hadrianum, returning to Ancient Rome, for a throwback in history. One of my most interesting stories I’ve ever researched and written came to me last July, when I visited Château Roubine Cru Classé. To have stood where Knights Templar had once stood as a base location, where they wined and fed themselves as they prepared to help pilgrims travel with safe passage to the holy lands… Very awe-inspiring.

And now, the wine they drank? Such an endeavor is truly remarkable.

[PHOTO: Vinum Hadrianum Website.]



Wine has been a precious drink since the dawn of time and it remains a sought-after drink by most people all over the world. It takes only a look at the color and a whiff of the smells to lure you into drinking it. Perhaps they also fall in love with it.

In Vinum Hadrianum, our goal is to revive the traditional ways of winemaking in ancient Rome and to rediscover wine authenticity. Viticulture and winemaking secrets have been passed on from generation to generation since the Roman times in Atri, our little town in Abruzzo. Without them, our authentic wines couldn’t be possible. Vinum Hadrianum is one of the seven most renowned Grand Crus of the Roman empire. It was created in the ancient town of Hatria, which is known today as Atri, where we are based. We honor this name by producing entirely handcrafted wines, using techniques that have long been forgotten, but are living a revival with us.


The first two wines of Vinum Hadrianum will be soon released. “Aelio” from Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, and “Maximo” from Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. They’re both from traditional indigenous varieties and are aged in hand-crafted amphorae. Extended maceration has helped to achieve vibrantly colored wines, with an incredibly higher concentration of flavors, while having an interesting spin on tannins.

THIS, I would love to taste. Do you agree?
The Atri commune sits in the heart of Abruzzo not far from the coast where Italy meets the Adriatic Sea.


Vinum Hadrianum wines are aged in unique hand-crafted amphorae. Local artisan potters, trained in the Castelli method, craft them using the local clay, which was renowned since antiquity due to its ability to create superior pottery, since it’s both lightweight and strong. The amphorae are still made most traditionally. The artisan potters form and cook them in kilns in a local cave, the same way our ancestors did.
These amphorae were widely used in ancient Roman times, to age and transport wine. They gave it great longevity and they support our Vinum Hadrianum wines with extended aging potential. Our wine gets more complex and richly flavored with every day it spends in the amphorae, with the evolution continuing in the bottle.

PHOTO: The Atri commune sits in the heart of Abruzzo not far from the coast where Italy meets the Adriatic Sea.


Atri is ideal for organic wine production and the combination of climate, soil, and topography guarantees high-quality grapes. The steep terrain of the Calanchi doesn’t allow for mechanization so everything is farmed by hand. This makes work especially hard, since no chemical treatments are applied, to get pure grapes. When you take a stroll through our vineyards, you can’t miss the aromatic bouquet of the wild licorice plants. We let them grow freely because we adore the subtle flavor they give to our wines, as it is an original expression of our terroir.

Our vineyards in Atri are influenced by the Adriatic Sea, which brings occasional rainstorms that give precious water to the vines. The Calanchi terrain is rich in clay, so vines always have the water they need. This soil is perfect for viticulture because it also drains well, allowing the vines to dig deep into the earth. As a result, we get premium grapes without having to irrigate our vineyards.

[PHOTO: The Feast of Achelo, painting by Peter Paul Rubens created in 1615. Purchased]


Due to the hard viticulture conditions and the artisanal way of production, only a limited number of bottles of Vinum Hadrianum are produced every year. It’s your chance to have a sip of the exact wine the Roman Emperors drank. Abruzzo’s most famous wine of antiquity can now be in your glass.

Vinum Hadrianum


Food and Wine,France,French Wine,Gaillac,Grape Growing,Petite Sirah,PS I Love You,Red Wine,Wine

Petite Sirah in France? A Flip of the Coin at Clos Hirissou

[PHOTOS: gratis Clos Hirissou]

The greatest joy of starting PS I Love You, the advocacy group for Petite Sirah, has been the people I’ve met along the way. People from all over the world have contacted me about Petite, and this is the most recent communication, during the last 18 years of relationships.

This one is one of the most important, also.

Hello, my name is Nicolas Hirissou. I am the owner of Domaine du Moulin and Clos Hirissou, in the southwest of France. Two years ago I had the idea to plant 11,000 plants of Petite Sirah. It’s very unique for France.Recently popping up on the Petite Sirah I Love You Facebook page was Nicolas Hirissou. He began a conversation with a comment:

[He later shared that it took 7,000 plants for one hectare; so one and a half hectares of Petite Sirah equals to 3.5 acres. This is a serious experiment.]

In that conversation, I thought, I been sooo looking for anyone growing Petite in France! Years ago, I had a contact; and hard as I try, I cannot retrace his information. So here I’ve been, knowing there has to be some Petite in its own native land and yearning to know where; when, Nicolas Hirissou just sailed right in from the sky, as if he were on the wings of his golden eagle Cinto.


“My family and my two passions help me in this adventure. Falconry and Corsica are my two sources of inspiration: The search for polyphonic wine ………”

Polyphonic wine, indeed. Now I’m inspired to explore more. I’m going in…

[PHOTO: Amazing doors are just part of Frances’s cultural architecture.]

The conversation began:

Jo: Hello Nicolas, thank you for your E-Mail. Yes, Petite Sirah is very unusual for France. I would love to speak with you about your vines. I have been wondering what it is like to grow Petite Sirah in France. I believe this is very historic.

I also shared my personal blog URL with him, telling him I wanted to write about his Petite Sirah vines. I can’t help being really curious and wanting to know if Petite will be considered in France, ever, as its climate is beginning to be more like California’s, due to more heat and less rain. When I was in France last July, I even had one vigneron mention a possible, future return of Petite Sirah to France, given the climate changes. This is what has most recently piqued my curiosity, about Petite. And, now, I’m able to dig deeper.

[PHOTO: Domaine du Moulin]

Domaine du Moulin and Clos Hirissou

While Domaine du Moulin and Clos Hirissou are both wine companies of Nicolas Hirissou, the focus for today is his vineyard and his future Clos Hirissou Petite Sirah. This location is the commune of Gaillac, France.

WIKI: Gaillac is a town situated between Toulouse, Albi, and Montauban. It has gained much recognition due to the wines that bear the town’s name. The Tarn river runs along the border of the town by the south, east to west. It lies 50 kilometers north-east of Toulouse. It is a market town and is the commercial center of the north-west of Tarn.

Notice the thin, black line? This is the vineyard’s outline.

As difficult as it was to find rootstock, in 2019, Nicolas Hirissou planted those 11,000 Petite Sirah plants in the vineyards of Clos Hirissou. He’s now working toward and anticipating his first harvest; which will be 100 percent Petite Sirah, in 2021. He believes that he’s alone in his endeavor, because Petite Sirah is considered a table wine, not in the AOC (Appellation d’origine contrôlée, a protected area with rules and regulations).  Nicholas also believes this grape is perfect in his native, Gaillac’s climate, because the terroir it’s less hot than in the south of France.

To further complicate it, there’s no market for Petite Sirah in France… at all. He’s all alone on France’s limb of the Petite Sirah family tree. Sales in France? He doubts it, but wait! He knows that if he makes a very good Petite Sirah, he’ll be able to sell it in the US.

[PHOTO: Future label]

This is his label,  The wine will be made like a grand cru; and it’s organic, in limestone soil. Limestone is one of the known choices for producing great wines.  It has favorable nutrients for wine grapes and allows for good drainage. The grapes also retain moisture in this terroir, especially in dry weather.

“The grape variety Durif is certified in my area, and there are only 30 such plants. I have 1.5 hectares and next year I will plant 0.5 more. After that will depend on sales, but my dream is to have more hectare.”

What draws Nicolas Hirissou to Petite Sirah?

In 2001, he worked in Napa and had tasted Petite. He was 21 at the time and has never forgotten the experiences and the flavors.

“Five years later,  we had a grape field museum in Gaillac. The organizers experimented with Petite Sirah, because 100 years before this time, we had a lot of Durif in Gaillac. The experiment stopped, but I tasted lots of bottles from this experiment and love them. Here, in my area, they don’t care about this grape. Every year I come for three weeks to USA, and every time I taste some Petite Sirah. Last year I visited Stags’ Leap Winery, with the winemaker Christophe Paubert.”  [Christophe Paubert is the winemaker and general manager at Stags’ Leap Winery, in Napa Valley.]

“I love the power, the colour, and the fact you can keep it a long, long time in bottles.

“I hope with my soil and my climate I will have more acidity with a wine more fresh.”

I hope you do, too, Nicholas. I have a feeling you’ll be keeping me in your loop.

Until then, people, birds, food, and wine… four of my favorite things.

Special thank you to Wine Industry Insight for publishing this story.
Special thank you to Wine Business for publishing this story.


Magazines,Wine,Wine Blogger,Wine Business

When Wine Spectator rises to the top again, you know the cycle is over

SUBTITLE: Wine Blogs Then (2005) and Wine Blogs Now (2020) ~ 15-year perspective


In 2004, as a wine publicist, I had heard rumblings about an Alder Yarrow. It seems he had a wine blog called Vinography. I had heard about Web 2.0, and this guy was doing it. Hum, I’ll have to check this out.

When Web 2.0 was being created, I was in the middle of an enrichment, business class at Santa Rosa Junior College. Web 2.0 was brought up, and we were all soon going to be enjoying an interactive Web. What that meant at the time was still pretty mysterious. It didn’t take long to find out, though; and when I saw fellow wine publicist Tom Wark launch Fermentation I though, Hum, I’ll have to check this out.

He was the first wine publicist in the world I knew of, to do this? Can I do that, too? I had to think about it. I knew it was going to be a precarious, bumpy ride, being the first female publicist in the world to ride two horses with one behind and not shying away from being on the edge. I dove in; time to tell some interesting backstories. Cyril Penn (Wine Business Magazine editor) referred to my stories as “Musings,” when he listed his first blog resources, on his daily newsletters.

MILLENNIALS ~ Spring ~ Birth of wine blogging

So, off we all went, followed by every millennial who loved both wine and writing, and they wanted to save the world from well-established media types. What a mess it became. Staying out of it was an opportunity to get to know the players, instead. The first Wine Media Conference (originally called the Wine Bloggers Conference) allowed for the introduction. It began mostly was mostly a guy thing, simply wanting to knock the big dogs off the mountain top.

SAMPLES FLYING OUT THE DOOR ~ Summer ~ The Heat was on

Meanwhile, wineries, including my clients, were thrilled to have new avenues to get their wines reviewed. The most prolific writers began to not see their floors anymore, as the samples piled in. I didn’t mind reviewing other wines, too, besides my insider story musings… But, I never advocated for client wines, the same way bloggers did. I was busy creating their technical datasheets. Conflict of interest? If they were my clients, there was a level of my endorsements, right? I just mused on, continuing with wine business subjects.


At the first and second wine bloggers conference, everyone was still struggling with “How can we monetize our blogs?” The answer for me was simple, but not for most of them. “If you want to monetize your wine blog, get a job in the wine business,” I said.” They didn’t seem to like that answer. Then after a few years, some of the women – interestingly – were the ones to take the advice. While their blogs suffered for the steep learning curve they went on, their love of wine and the business blossomed. And, good for them! My job in that regard was satisfying, and I had picked up a Portuguese client in the process. I, too, expanded greatly.

LINKS, LINKS EVERYWHERE ~ Winter, surrender

As time went on, many of us developed exchange links. By the time mine grew to a very long list of 84 (for then), my interest in writing on my blog had shifted. Recently, I thought, “I need to clean up that list because many of them are probably gone.” And, I know that broken links can also hurt search engine optimization; both outbound and inbound. It just became time. I’ve had my blog since the end of 2005. I just thought I have to cut through the jungle of wine blog links and got busy. The numbers are fascinating, so were the names people had taken on, as each person had his/her own raison d’être. Mine was to tell the backstories, theirs was to create their own unique perspectives. Today, I was reminded of that, as I searched for their current status. The numbers:

From the “Blogs ~ Domestic ~ Shared” category, there were 85 wine blog links:

  • 44 links went nowhere
  • 18 links hadn’t been published in a range of years, from 2010 to 2018
    • 10 early beginning dropouts
    • Eight more recent, from  2016 to 2018
  • 22 of them are still active
    • Excluding mine, which is also active
    • So, 23 blogs are still in the overall pool number gathered early



Can’t beat ’em, join ’em ~ Everyone’s in the pool

While both wine bloggers and established wine writers were dealing with the new normal, writers ~ most especially those with established wine careers ~ were in a bit of a quandary, under the weight of now so many options outsiders had. They weren’t in the closet, but in some ways, they had been sent to their rooms, in light of the new darlings. Wine magazines were going through a bit of subscription denial – which would have been progressing, if there weren’t so many new potential subscribers, now becoming dependent upon “How did that taste, my new influencer?”

Once one established writer decided, “Well, I’ll just have a blog, too,” most every one of them was on his or her way with their own blogs, on their already established wine Website.

Top 100 wine blog lists NOW

A combination of wine bloggers and wine magazine personalities

The definition of wine blog has evolved from self-publishing, to now include magazines with paid staff members sharing informal thoughts. The fan base for them had already been established, they’re content-rich, and written really well, with professionals at the keyboard. So, it’s no surprise to me that the number one seat for years used to be Alder Yarrow’s spot, from Vinography, and is now taken by Wine Spectator. No offense to Alder, either. He just doesn’t have the staff of publisher Marvin Shanken. Now, the very thing that wine bloggers wanted to topple (and this NEVER included Alder Yarrow, I need to add) were major publishers: Robert Parker, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and Wine & Spirits magazines. Today, Vinography is still at the top, but a bit further down the line on the Top 100 list, because of that staff thing.

It’s now completely integrated, and I knew this the instant I saw the following “Top 100” list.  Numero Uno is yup… Wine Spectator. And good on them. Publisher Marvin Shanken is a great guy, who’s stood the test of time, and is a darn good wine education philanthropist. He’s all pro and there you go.

Special thank you to Wine Industry Insight for publishing this story.
Special thank you to Wine Business for publishing this story.



Italy,négociant,Tuscany,Wine,Wine Making,Wine of the Week,Wine tasting,Winery,Wines,Wne and Food

Wine of the Week ~ Chianti 2018 DOCG Renzo Masi & C. Rufina, Italy

A piece of my heart was deliberately left in Chianti Country, during a visit to Tuscany, with the Bluest Sky Import Group. A life-altering education, every time I’ve headed out to “be there,” smell the terroir, feel the earth, see the vines, taste the wines, and ask questions (even if some sound like I just got off the boat). These experiences allow me to now be more curious when a wine arrives, for my thoughts. This Chianti 2018 DOCG Renzo Masi & C. Rufina, Italy is from a region I’ve visited (Tuscany); so it’s a bit poignant.

Why? I could live in Italy, so it really pulls at my heartstrings, each time there’s a physical connection, like wine or images.

I visited Castello di Meleto, Gaiole in Chianti, Tuscany, my host. And now I’m exploring, from my armchair, Chianti 2018 DOCG Renzo Masi & C. Rufina, Italy. Cork was pulled, lovely aromas wafted into the air, glass was poured, I tasted the wine and Chianti came rushing back. Our noses and taste buds have memories. We just have to close our eyes and be transported back to another paradise. In this case, Florence Tuscany. A bit north of where I was, but only by 45 miles.

Italian wines are so well suited for anything involving veggies in broth, beans, cheese, and some bread… We had this 2018 Renzo Masi & C. Rufina with pizza. It was perfectly delicious.

I’d also suggest a Simple Ribollita, like this one pictured ABOVE. [PHOTO: purchased]

[WINE PHOTO: Jose Diaz, josediaphotos]

Dry cherries, lots of fruit, easy finish. It tastes like a home’s everyday wine; one to just have around for fitting in perfectly with anything Italian. This wine doesn’t have a big, tannic structure for laying down for years. It’s very drinkable for now, but you could stash a few in your wine cellar for the next Italian meal, too; but they won’t last long. They’re simply that delicious.

Find your local wine shop with a good selection of Italian Imports, and go get it. If it’s not there, ask for it. When in sales, I learned that some wine merchants keep a list in the backroom of wines requested by partons. When the wine reps show up, the buyers have a tendency – if there’s space on their shelved (vintages do run out, you know) – they’ll find another brand. H.B. Wine Imports helps this winery to have shelf space in this category. It’s three days later since the wine was opened and first tasted. I’m still loving the light, ethereal structure and flavors.

WINERY:  MASI RENZO & C. SAS FATTORIA DI BASCIANO ~ Viale Duca della Vittoria, 159 ~ 50068 RUFINA (FIRENZE) Tuscany – Italy

FROM THEIR WEBSITE: MASI FAMILY, from the winery: The Masi family has been making wine for three generations. From the beginning until now, the leading philosophy, which has distinguished our work, has always been the same: producing wines with an excellent quality/price relationship. To obtain this, year after year we have searched for and selected the producers who can guarantee a constant high-standard quality level, and we have created a long-term relationship of cooperation with them, including our consultation on how to manage the vineyard, with the aim of reaching the highest quality.

About our work, we have been said: “The role of the négoçiant is scarcely understood in Italy (…). Yet the activity needs to be done well. And a family interpreting this job with ability is Masi of Rufina, with the father Renzo and the son Paolo, graduated agronomist in Florence.” (Daniel Thomases, I VINI DI TOSCANA).

At present, we produce two white wines, a rosé, three red wines, a Chianti Riserva and a blend between Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in oak barrels, all by using grapes and wines coming from the area of Rufina and its surroundings (except for the Valdichiana Bianco Vergine).

Based in the Rufino region, here’s a flavor of their terroir’s culture…


SAMPLE: H.B. Wine Merchants