Book Sample,Books,Wine,Wine Book,Wine Business,Wine Ed,Wine Education,Wine Novel

Top Wine Books of 2019 ~ Belonging in Any Great Wine (Book) Library

Then there are wine books that are slowly savored, in sound bites. Remember the days of getting ready for a book report? Yeah, that’s what it is. Part of blogging time requires reading and reporting on wine books. Book page is my resource for you. Each holiday season, since I can’t even remember when it began, I decided to share my findings, so others would have an idea of some great wine reading. Most were text books, then along came the novels.

If you love wine, love to read, and love to occasionally embark on a modern day non-fiction reality of wine; or, if you choose to embark on a fantasy wine journey (still) based on actual wine facts, wine novels also really deliver. There was an unusual amount of great novels released in 2019, and I had the joy of reading them, as advance copies. The following list delighted me, as I went along my 2019 wine book journey.



Beaujolais, A Shared Passion, by Georges Duboeuf

This is a wine books that I slowly savored, in sound bites.

Remember the days of getting ready for a book report? Yeah, that’s what it is. Part of blogging time requires reading and reporting on wine books. Book page is the resource.

Being asked, to go to Beaujolais on a media tour, this was just the beginning of a very intense, five-day sojourn into the world of Beaujolais. It was through the lens of a preeminent vintner, and world-renown expert in how one becomes and maintains success as a wine négociant… Monsieur Georges Duboeuf.

Let me tell you, it’s a fascinating read. Imagine tracing yourself back to the 15th Century? The family tree is complete, mind you; not skipping a beat, from one generation to the next…

Lifelong, closest friends of Georges Duboeuf are all in his book; a who’s who of Beaujolais. Some of those vintners mentioned I just met, took their photos, enjoyed their hospitality, tasted their own wines.

These are the kinds of stories we crave, those of legends, if we’re into wine. Georges Duboeuf is part of Beaujolais’ history for legally defining its terroir, regions, styles, soils, grape varieties… all of the steps carried out, in defining this specific region and history of France. That’s a very special distinction: to be this kind of innovator, a creator… Georges Duboeuf’s history book gives you all the steps.


Sipping Away, 30 Years of Unique Wine Experiences

This has been a long time coming, as I got Sipping Away, 30 Years of Unique Wine Experiences, by David Klein, just before I traveled to France. I took the book with me and read in flight. I was headed to Beaujolais, and all of a sudden I was reading about it… that the winemakers of Beaujolais are extremely serious and make complex and nuanced wines… the Crus of Beaujolais – all in regions where I was headed: Morgon, Fleurie, Brouilly, Moulin-A-Vent. What a coincidence.

Also, what a delight to read someone else’s journey, with many parallels to my own, but in a really differing segment of wine.

This is a story of a Jewish Italian gentleman, who grew up in New York City, and that’s an important lead into his part of the world of fine wine.

At first, I thought I’d be reading about wines he had tasted over the years and the experiences that went with them… including reviews. This book is so NOT that
When anyone gets into the wine industry as a professional, it’s a faster track to the world of wine knowledge. And, it’s done through so many different channels, with so many different nuances.  It just depends on the segment that’s your calling. For David, it was to help his father in a liquor store he purchased.


Tasting The Past, by Kevin Begos

In the fall of 2018, 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. “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.

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.

The Wines of Long Island, by José Moreno-Lacalle

From Jose’s press release: The Wines of Long Island was originally published in 1987 and a second, revised edition was issued in 2000. 19 years later, it remained the best and most complete single volume on the history, geography, viniculture, winemaking, and the wineries of Long Island. It was carefully researched and quite well written. It is also seriously out of date.

In the 19 intervening years a very great deal of change has taken place in the wine industry of the region. In 2000 there were 25 wineries and vineyards, about half of which are no longer in business; in 2019 there are 62, including several wine brands that have no winery or vineyard as such and use a crush facility. A handful of the wineries are not even in the East End, but elsewhere in Suffolk County, with two in Brooklyn.

Wines of the French Alps, by Wink Lorch

We usually think of the French Alps for its world-class skiing, but do you know that there’s also some fantastic wines there? Wink Lorch has brilliantly written the Wines of the French Alps; Subtitled Savoie, Bugey and beyond with local food and travel tips. This is a major reference book. And, really, who better than someone who has a ski chalet in the French Alps. Also, who better than someone that first wrote a book about the Jura region, in eastern France. As writers go, Wink has taken a little known region and completely brought it to life. I just love champions of an underdog, because they’re pioneers… they fight the good fight as explorers. Wink has shone a bright light in a dark corner, converting the French Alps manifest destiny.I only write “dark corner,” because the region has always been there, but the publicity hasn’t. When it starts a snowball down a mountain side, the inevitable follows.

An avid skier, all of her life, and a very proficient writer, this book belongs on every library’s shelf. And, if you have your own wine library of books, you’ll treasure it. Everything you would ever want to know of a wine region is included. Winks sets the stage for you, putting the wine regions into context. She then writes about wine appellations, so you get familiar. The book has a lot of images, so you can begin to put it all into context. Then you’ll learn about food and wines. It’s a complete package, wrapped up in precise knowledge. If you’re thinking of traveling to the French Alps, bring this book with you. You’ll be much better prepared, and will flag pages, I’m certain of it.

She told me about one couple who bought her first Jura Book. They had now just purchased Wine of the French Alps. Her greatest fans, they had already blown through this one, showing her all of their notes. This reference book is 384 pages long. The font is quite small (for my eyes), the interviews are in interesting depth, and I just say enough abut how much this book is a treasure and extremely important to knowing the French Alps.


Some wine books you can’t put down. They’re exciting novels that are edgy, a bit naughty at times, and sucking you in ~ every second ~ for “more.” High voltage… Fiction at its finest. Here you go!


Vintage 1954… It Was An Intriguing Year, by Antoine Laurain’s

WINE-BLOG REVIEW: From the moment I touched the book, it was immediate love… The smell and feel of its pages… A tender, Parisienne SciFi, stepping back through a 1950’s portal… all because of a bottle of wine, the right circumstances, and four characters… Every detail of 50’s in this story, and today’s modern times, are found within its pages. There are two realities; or, existentially are they? It’s for the readers to discover. Antoine Laurain has written a very alluring novel, that I will be reading again, just for the fun of it. My eyes were devouring word candy.

From Press Release

… because this captures the heart and soul of Vintage 1954.

Antoine Laurain has captivated American readers with charming books that combine a philosophical idea with an uplifting narrative. Each of his books are like a good fable that leave the reader with something to ponder.

Laurain’s new novel Vintage 1954 features a charming quartet of protagonists, a fabulous bottle of wine, vineyards, a love story and offbeat time travel. It is set in the nostalgic Paris of everyone’s imagination — when Paris was truly the style and cultural capital of Europe and the epitome of utter Frenchness.


Brut Force, by Peter Stafford-Bow

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

Main character 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?

Cucina Tipica, by Andrew Cotto

How Andrew Cotto unravels his Cucina Tipica novel is cleverly maneuvered. I just couldn’t put the book down for much else, until I got to “The End.” As I was about to finish his book, my heart was pounding and so wanting an ending I could live with. Cucina Tipica is story about finding an identity, for someone disheartened, which dates back to our hero’s birth right. Jacoby Pine had an isolated youth, for reasons you’ll want to explore, and it’s doled out in measured increments.

As I was on the last page of Cucina Tipica, my eyes swelled and a tear indiscriminately rolled down each cheek. I know, I know, it’s a girly thing. Still, it’s also a guy thing, if – in any way whatsoever – you (guy) can related to the main character Jacoby Pines. And I know there are plenty of guys who can relate…

Life hasn’t been easy or entitled for Jacoby, and a trip to Italy soothes his soul in many ways. But does he have to return to a life on the East Coast of the US, which was so unfulfilling? The anxiety had tears running down my cheeks, while I feigned irritated eyes to my husband. The one delight I have with any novel written, by someone who’s wine and region knowledgeable, is that I learn so much about our wine business and its culture in the process, almost as much as visiting a wine region. The fact that this book was written where I had just traveled? It held me in spellbound suspense, right up to the time when I finally and reluctantly closed Cucina Tipica, having all of the answers.

Root Cause, by Steven Laine

Steven Laine is going to deliver an impactful novel, of epic proportions. This story begins in the vineyards of Tuscany, Italy, and then takes you around the world’s wine regions, with its spellbound drama and your heart racing to keep up. As I was nearing the end of this journey, with all of its intriguing characters, my heart was pounding in my chest. Our characters Corvina Guerra and Bryan Lawless were either going to be heroes for world history, or major wine criminals, forever more. Never, in my lifetime of reading, did I ever wish I could read much faster… I even had the thought, “I wish this was a movie, so it could all just be delivered with quicker speed.”

According to his biography, Steven Laine was raised in Ontario, Canada and has dual Canadian and British citizenship. He has traveled the world working in luxury hotels for international brands including The Ritz, Hilton, Starwood, Marriott, and Jumeirah. When he was Beverage Manager of a five star hotel in London, he learned all about wine and has since visited over one hundred vineyards and wineries in Napa, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, Lebanon, and South Africa. As the only North American ever invited to be a Member of the Champagne Academy, he had the privilege to tour the major Champagne Houses in France. His circle of friends is made up of winemakers, Masters of Wine, Master Sommeliers, restaurant managers, and wine distributors from all over the globe. He is now working on his next novel.

And, I can hardly wait for that one, while I highly recommend this one, Root Cause.

Thanks to Wine Industry Insight for publishing this list.




Holiday,Sample,Wine,Wine Accessories

Wine Lovers are Decanting Their Way Through Life, Via a Crystal Experience ~ Era Vino Style

I love crystal. I’m a New Englander, a Mainah Yankee, and we love our china, silvah, and crystal.

Today, they’re mostly just treasures from the past, with great memories for special occasions. Our kids don’t even want our “old stuff.” But, I’ll tell you who does… Our grandchildren, for any of us lucky enough to have them.

So, while I love the good ‘ole things from the good ‘old days, I’ve also been morphing. Modern crystal is every bit as exciting as my Mimi and Pipi’s 100 year old glasses were; but, in a radical new kinda way. As art…

The crystal I had held in my hand was amazing, and what I drank from during my kid holidays. The wine? Manischewitz. (What else, then, right?)

The glasses were really gorgeous, pale yellow in color, and some were green; and they were totally etched with delicate delicate flowers, in my instance.

Is etching even done any more, to the extent that machines have to be tooled to get all of the etching details perfectly captured?

Not even… But if I swirled and sniffed back then, chances are that I wouldn’t have had any kind of aromatic, sensory experience that we have today, either. So, the new trade-off works for me. Still, the memory of it all allows for me to share the history; perhaps only for the memory recall of others.

For new history buffs, I’m painting a whole new canvas for you… In your travels to museums, see if you can capture any of that old wine glass work; maybe ever find a piece. for you own wine library. Most museums of wine have these classic pieces of history. This is the Museum of Georges Duboeuf, in Romanèche-Thorins, France, called Hameau Duboeuf. Here, glass plays a really important role; not only in the bottles, but also in the stemware of old, where I did get to see some.


Our new crystal companies are now focused on creating a glass that will sing the wine right into your senses, delivering a totally new palpable experience. As the old crystal glasses were etched for our eyes, the new crystal is delivered with tiny flecks on the inside of the glass that capture wines’ aromas for your sense of smell, for instance. With a glance, a swirl, and taking in aromas, we’re transformed into the sniffers of some alchemist’s magical potions, and that’s fun.


First and foremost, decanters in wine enjoying is really not meant for older wines. Decanters are meant to aerate YOUNG wine, in order to manage the tannins still present in your bottle. Tannins are the phenolic compounds in wines, which simply dissipate over time. If you’re having a young wine, you’re going to experience the pucker power of it’s strength, the dry cotton feeling left on your palate, unless you’d like to manage it. Decanting is the best way for this to happen.

Tannins affect the color, aging ability, and texture of wines. There are many more tannins in red wine, BTW. Decanting transforms your wine into a more pleasant experience. It’s all part of the glamour and the glitz.


So here we are weighing crystal decanting options. Each glass company has its own talking points. Today, I’m going to focus on Era Vino’s hand blown crystal glass Aerating Decanter. I was asked if I’d like to sample a decanter. I was free to choose what I’d like to experience for a story. Many of their decanters I’ve had experiences with in the past, so I poked around on their Era Vino site.

I found it! Something revolutionary for me to find: Wine Decanter Aerating Carafe with Lid ~ 100 Percent Hand Blown, Crystal Glass Decanter. What a concept. I could see using it to soften young wines, but I also saw it as collecting sediment, if any exists. It can happen with unfiltered and/or unfined wines.


I’m fine with sediment, it’s just part of wines that haven’t been filtered and/or fined. These processes remove some of the wine’s character… It’s like losing a layer of blankets during a cold, winter night. Something comfortable gets lost in the translation of filtering and fining for my palate.

So we tried to capture this pouring process. I’m more of a writer than a photographer. I thought of uploading our video, but it would take just so much time to get it done.  My video is in slow motion… Not he same effect.

The Wine Decanter Aerating Carafe with Lid falls in the Christmas gift category of $100 or less ($89.99). It’s got a lot of style, appeal, an the ability of making a younger wine have less tannins and flavor… Check it out; maybe even for yourself. Every wine lover deserves a decanter.


Beaujolais,France,Gamay,Wine,Wine & Food,Wine Business,Wine Education,Wine tasting,Wine Travel

Morgon Domaine Jean Ernest Descombes ~ A Beaujolais with Vitality

Off to the Morgon region of Beaujolais, France we go…

Morgon Wines: Think in adjective sizes, for a moment: delicate, moderate, and robust. Beaujolais wines, coming from specific regions, are classified in this way, due to their terroir influences. It helps to know this, if you’re wanting to purchase a Beaujolais, for a food and wine adventure. You can easily pair the right wine weight, with the substance of the food’s intensity, if you know each region’s characteristics. Know your Beaujolais’ and you’ll have a well-balanced food and wine pairing. (Think food science…)

The Morgon Jean Ernest Descombes wines:

These well-balanced wines from the 2009, 2015, 2017, and 2018 vintages had one consistent thread running through them: Harmonious flavor notes in balance with their aromatics…

The nose on each reminded me of the Rose Hip teas I’ve loved over the ages. The range from 2009, which exhibited the softer side of violets, to the 2015’s pluminess, the 2017’s cherry notes, and the 2018’s black currents demonstrated for me, how the aging of these wines make them more delicate as the tannins dissipate. Morgon is known for producing Beaujolais wines with flavors from violets, to plums, to black currants. The full range was there in their aging process.

Quoting from Georges Duboeuf’s biography Beaujolais, A Shared Passion, as taught to him, by his friend Léon Fuillard, p. 43, with some additional clarity from Jo Diaz in brackets:

  1. Wines that are delicate come from the following locations, and are released in March:
    • In the tender wine regions (referred to as a region that makes the most delicate wines), such Saint-Etienne, Durette, Saint-Lager, and Fleurie, these wines are very bright and tasty.
    • [Fresh and vibrant, with lemon, strawberry flavors, along with being delicately floral – description added by Jo Diaz.]
  2. Beaujolais that are medium bodied, are released from March to July, from the Crus, and are firmer wines:
    • A bit richer, coming from regions with a little more intensity: Odenas, Romaneche-Thorins, Chiroubles, Chénas, and Brouilly.
    • [A bit more rustic and spice, with more violet and cherry flavors – description added by Jo Diaz.]
  3. Lastly, after the summer, are the heavier bodied wines, and are released from higher elevation vineyards:
    • Beaujeu, Quincié, Lantigne, Jullie, Juliénas, and Morgon.
    • [The most flavorful, tannic (which means longer aging potential). Since higher elevation wines don’t have as much ground water available that the lower lying vineyards do, the flavors are more concentrated ~ think Maine blueberries, and rich plums – description added by Jo Diaz.]


[Wine Folly’s map: Magnum Edition of the Master Guide, by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack.]

As I reflect on my 2019 Summer Visit Romanof Beaujolais, I continue to make much more sense of what I’ve experienced and learned.

[PHOTO: About to be welcomed by Jean Descombes]

My 2019 visit with Les Vins Georges Duboeuf: when I visited with Nicole Descombes Savoie, owner of the Morgon Domaine Jean Ernest Descombes winery, in the heart of the Morgon region of Beaujolais, I tasted and learned how seductively robust Gamay wines can be.

The Morgon region of Beaujolais “delivers the goods,” as they say. In their full-bodied Romanesque style, these wines are fully developed, with flavors that have a roundness and ample richness. These are the Beaujolais that full-flavored dishes and Gamay connoisseurs crave for, as a pairing.

Have you ever tasted a bevy of Gamay wines? Not everyone has. Certainly, I had a very limited knowledge going into my education in Beaujolais. We all tend to gravitate toward the known… It’s such a snap to say, “I’ll have a Cab or a Chard,” because those are the most selling wines in the world right now. These Morgon wines I’m writing about today are for both present and future Beaujolais lovers, for the most curious among us, because of their versatility. You can usually find us in the Netflix section of “Foreign Subtitled Movies.”

Domaine Jean Ernest Descombes

A Touching Story

So, here we are at Domaine Jean Ernest Descombes, in Morgon. The visit began with a tour in the wine cellar, and a history lesson in the tasting room:


Jean Ernest Descombes was not only a gifted winemaker, but he also had the reputation for being an outstanding winegrower. When he was with us, three fourths of his vines were already over 50-years old, already completely established in their best “terroirs.” After he passed in October 1993, his daughter Nicole inherited the family business.

Nicole Descombes Savoye

Nicole explained that she had lost both her mother and father within three months. It was really hard for me to even imagine this set of circumstances, while feeling immense empathy. I became distracted for a bit, processing it all.

[PHOTO: Left to right: Jessica Norman Dupuy, Dianna Michniewicz, Romain Teyteau, Nicole Descombes Savoye, and Amanda Burrill.]

Later, when home from France and reading Georges Duboeuf’s autobiography, I found the pivotal point for when Georges Duboeuf began his négociant career, and it had to do with Georges’ friend Jean Ernest Descombes’ passing. Georges lost a wonderful friend. Nicole not only lost both parents, but she no longer was part of the winery; she was the winery. Together, a solution evolved for moving past the grief and into the future. This adult woman, who was a child that Georges watched growing into womanhood, he would help her sell her wine. He had the connections; she had the wine.

He had two stipulations, however: The winery name must remain the same, and a picture of Jean Ernest Descombes must also be on the label.

That was then, and this is now.

Nicole Descombes: “Wine always resembles the person who made it”

This is actually what keeps wine writers writing. We know that whoever we meet, and then write about, is a unique character. That part of terroir translates right into their wine. While the wine’s story is reflected by what’s present in the glass, what’s behind it is a farming family with unique passions… growing it and crafting it into this magical, transformative beverage. Nicole said the same about her father’s Morgon; and so she must carry it forward, must carry on. And, she’s had Duboeuf’s support, for the entire past 19 harvests… since her father’s passing.

[Cement fermenting and aging tanks]

In the winery, nothing has changed, because it was the wish of Nicole’s father. So, it has still has Jean and his wife’s charm, which really welcomes you in. Antiques are everywhere. His request has guaranteed a museum in his name for us all to enjoy, while tasting and enjoying his wine. There seems to be a time, when in Beaujolais – perhaps other regions, too; but further researching needed for this one – collecting calliopes seems to have been a fad. Perhaps it’s the lighthearted and jubilant spirit of Beaujolais. There is nothing like – after a wine experience – having an owner turn on her calliope and just smiling all of the while. According to Wikipedia: “In Greek mythology, Calliope is the Muse who presides over eloquence and epic poetry; so called from the ecstatic harmony of her voice.” Calliopes seems the perfect representation of Beaujolais and Nicole , honestly.

Final thought: Today, Georges Duboeuf is nicknamed the king of Beaujolais, and Nicole Descombes Savoye is often nicknamed its Queen… This is a very important family relationship, because the Duboeufs really do take people into their hearts, and Nicole Descombes was ready to extend her family.

Quintessential Wines is the importer for the US.



Thanksgiving Wine Writer: Some French Wine Places and Wines, I Celebrate You

On Facebook, someone just asked, “What are you thankful for in 2019?” One person answered, with great brevity, “life.” I thought about being so succinct, too. I just came up empty… so many words swirled inside my head. Alas, I had such a great expansion in 2019, there isn’t just one word for it, in a one-word association game. I haven’t finished telling the very cool stories of people, places, and things, that have made me so grateful for this 2019 trip.

Life went charmingly bucolic to France in July of 2019. I was on a media trip, for Le Vins George Duboeuf. and Château Roubine Cru Classé; and I have to say, one cannot travel abroad, without becoming extensively broadened. It seems so obvious to write it, but it isn’t clearly apparent until you do it. This makes for sonnets and short stories; not yet for poems or a reflective haiku – not yet.

My first 26 years in wine had a lot to do with the United States. I’ve been to all but four of the 50+Puerto Rico states. That’s a lot of travel. My US studies of wine, most especially Californian wines, have been truly marvelous.


[PHOTO: Lisbon]

Then, I went to Portugal to work with a client, representing many wine brands.

[PHOTO: Rome]

Off to Italy ~ exciting, cultural love affairs in Chianti, Marche, and the Adriatic Sea. I still have some stories living inside of me. I occasionally double back; always will.

[PHOTO: France, taken at Château Nervers]


So, I will now kindly remember Franck Duboeuf, Georges’ son, as we sat side by side, while thoughtfully – also – tasting his wines in his father Georges’ living room, say to me. “I hope you will love France.” Three generations of the family were present. Remarkable, really. They are all devoted to Beaujolais wines.

That’s what France is about for me… love! April in Paris. My foreign exchange student Delphine Brouard, a Parisian who became a designer Scenographe at Cie Interstices, is a former costume designer/scenographer at Conservatoire national supérieur d’art dramatique. Imagine. She got to visit us on Allen Pond in Greene, Maine, before we moved to California. I can’t think of anything else that could be so diametrically opposed… and why I already loved Paris.

Landing in Paris, I was quickly swept away to Lyon. Little did I even know it was the cooking and eating capital of the world. Art was everywhere, so were the foods. Basilicas were just natural part of sweeping landscapes. I absorbed it. I got lost in it, seriously. My GPS had to give me walking directions back to my hotel, while everyone was waiting for me – a dinner appointment was imminent. I think I just arrived in time, after just about killed myself running back, once I got GPS to turn me around.

[PHOTO: Grand Hotel, des Beauxarts]

Lyon is recognized as being a global center for art, fashion, and its culinary culture. It just their natural terroir. It makes perfect sense, would it not, to have the delight of a cooking class? Yeah, it was all that and more. My poor chef. I was the distracted student a bit. Being more into visually documenting it for later experimentation, I had to have images to go back on for memory jogs. It’s just how I do my best writing, for those images.


[PHOTO: Taken at Château des Capitans (Juliénas)]

Off to Beaujolais with Le Vins Georges Duboeuf. I was about to be introduced to their wines, and also their working partnerships: I felt France… I just felt my ancestors being there… Bernier and Ouellette. It felt so much like Maine… As I drove around the countryside, in so many ways, it also looked like Maine. I now understand how US’s Maine got its name. So many people were introduced to us. Some stories are still to be told, because they’re heartwarming stories and need that closure. When I write, I’m taken back into those moments. Flashbacks… We traveled to many settings, many villages, many vineyards. We tasted many wines, shared many meals… It was an amazing experience.

Lovely waving fields of wildflowers, expansive vineyards, and historic people with passion in Beaujolais; that’s what I found. Reading Georges Duboeuf’s autobiography, when I returned home, every single person in his story and their families have generational successes. This began with George’s birth, and it continues on today. As a business owner since 2001, I can tell you that this is remarkable history. My 19-year old business is such a short time, when three generations of Georges Duboeuf wines just continues on.

[PHOTO: Denis Lapaler, winemaker for Les Vins Georges Duboeuf]

To have been given the opportunity to hear so many great stories of life in Beaujolais, the trip was like living inside of a romance novel of people driven to have their region gain a rewarding spotlight. Meeting Georges Duboeuf was like hanging with Robert Mondavi, again. Both men’s lives parallel each other’s. One Frenchman and one Italian… both from birth working the vines and wines. Did it surprise me when I read that the two men were friends? Heck, no. It makes perfect sense.

[PHOTO: Château Roubine, Provence]


After Beaujolais, we segued to Provence…

Oh lavender fields, your sensual, violet beauty; your aromas are seductive and divine, so feminine, so country cultivated… I would come to so love my days being in Provence. While having a summer, country lunch as Château Roubine Cru Classé, I looked at my host Adrien Riboud (partner of Chateau Roubine, with mother Valérie Rousselle), “This isn’t normal living you know. This is very special.” He just smiled.

[PHOTO: Lunch at Chateau Roubine]

France is very hypnotic, given the right circumstances. And, I was fortunate to have the perfect storm, if you can call it a storm… It was a rapid outpouring of many things at once, of experiences, whirling into one great big, ginormous trip that would give any book a chapter… at least, and so I write.

I spent a lot of time exploring the Knights Templar, because I stood on land where they had also lived and worked… All of us working; but oh, the scenery! I could feel their loving every minute of being on that very hallowed ground.

[PHOTO: Nice, on the French Riviera]


Nice… Welcome to the French Riviera, gratis Valérie Rousselle. Sure, I’ve heard about and seen images of the French Riviera. Never in my wildest dreams, however, did I think I’d stand there one day, and look upon blue and white bathing umbrellas, lining the shore. Never… And yet, there I was. Looking at the shaded bathers from the “other” side, looking out toward the sea. I had a backstage pass. Imagine.

[PHOTO: Denis Lapaler, winemaker for Les Vins Georges Duboeuf]

That day had a touch of refreshing rain. My bedroom window looked out unto a garden. I could have climbed outside and was very tempted to, but my group was on the move and I had to boogie. It was dinnertime.

So, I’m thankful that, in my life, I’ve gone to these places, met these people, tasted their wines, been their guest, and am able to share my passion with you.

Now, just to look at each member in my family, and be so thankful for the bouquet of joy they represent, especially when I slip away.

  • Jose, my tiger lily
  • Katie, my sunflower
  • Melanie, my dahlia assortment of colors
  • Lyla, my calla lily
    • Grand children have become the bouquet from all of the above
    • I am most thankful

And you! Happy Thanksgiving, to you and yours.


Beaujolais,Event,France,Gamay,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Culture,Wine Education,Wine Making,Wine Marketing,Wine Samples,Wine tasting

Why Beaujolais Nouveau? ~ History Holds the Answers

[PHOTO: Denis Lapaler, winemaker for Les Vins Georges Duboeuf]

Le beaujolais nouveau est arrive!

Beaujolais had always made a vin de l’année, to celebrate the end of the harvest. Until World War II, it was only for local consumption. Today, it’s become a worldwide phenomenon, due to some important actions taken by the Georges Duboeuf family.

In French, “nouveau” means “new.”  For Nouveau Beaujolais or Beaujolais Nouveau, this refers to the first released Gamay wines from the Beaujolais region of France, each season. As of this November 21, 2019, they’re now available from the most recent harvest; and, are only a couple of months old. While seemingly so young, they’re ready to drink and are traditionally placed on sale at midnight, the third Thursday of each November. Again, due to their low tannin structure.

[PHOTO: Georges Duboeuf’s label artist on this November 21, 2019 Beaujolais Day: Laura Runge and Franck Duboeuf.]

So… Why so early? Curious people get to taste the future from the upcoming vintage… Think of having the unique experience of going into a wine cellar and having the winemaker use a “thief,” to extract wine from its aging container; and, you’ve got the private preview of an entire Beaujolais harvest. It’s definitely something to write home about… And, people (like me) do just that.

When samples are shipped directly to you, for your review… Twice blessed, indeed. And, so here’s the news… the 2019 Nouveau Beaujolais from Georges Duboeuf.

Georges Duboeuf in his autobiography Beaujolais, a Shared Passion

~ The 1960s to 1985 ~

Page 79: The Beaujolais Nouveau adventure was the most decisive in the Duboeuf saga. Georges himself said, “One of the luckiest things in my life was having grown up with Beaujolais Nouveau. In the 1960s, the Beaujolais and Mâconnais had about a hundred vintners. All of them marketed Beaujolais Nouveau, in very large quantities. Under the impetus of a few vineyard managers, including the late Louis Bréchard, and certain vintners and winegrowers, but also and especially thanks to the dynamism of the director of the Beaujolais interprofessional Group, Gerard Canard, who did a considerable amount of work in public relations, events of all kinds and in all places, this marketing of Beaujolais Nouveau became a large-scale Fete, starting November 15, which was the day when the wine was “unlocked.”

Briefly, several notable figures in Beaujolais are responsible for promoting Nouveau Beaujolais:

  • Victor Perret – in the 50s and 60s, Victor was the owner of Chateau des Capitans in Juliénas.
  • In the 1960s, Georges Duboeuf began to market  Beaujolais Nouveau with small scale parties, held in their wine press room and in their wine cellar, with charcuterie and cheeses.
    • The parties then grew to include Paris and Romanèche.
    • The 200-300 people parties grew to include 800 people, by the 1980-1990s.
    • Georges introduced the region’s local tradition of toasting the harvest, with the young wines, to a global audience in the 1980s.
  • André Rebut (viticulturist)- in 1943, he founded a cooperative distillery in Pommiers. At 30 years old, he became president of the Beaujolais Federation of Distillers, with his prominence growing exponentially each year that passed, adding that in 1962, he was the president of the Federation of
  • Wine-Growing Association of France (1962-1964). Jean Tixier worked in advertising in Paris. His work consisted of connecting politicians and performance artists, with the images of Beaujolais Nouveau.
    • Invite to approximately 100 journalists: Dec. 20, 1951, Beaujolais 1951 invites you to its first Paris gathering, on Thursday, December 20 at 6:00 p.m. at the Questure of the National Assembly.
  • René Fallet’s novel of 1975, Le beaujolais nouveau est arrive, was published. Was a great success, bringing the wine into the limelight, both on the radio and television. With artist friends, the reshaping of Beaujolais Nouveau began to take shape.
  • By 1985, the date was firmly set on the third Thursday of November, and segued into a more global experience. This was done to take best advantage of marketing in the following weekend.

Nouveau Beaujolais is created in wine country, just north of Lyon. So celebrations in Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France and the world, has embraced these events, which are both exciting and very festive.


“How Do I Love Thee,” dedicated to her husband Robert Browning…

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.

Ladies and gentlemen… The 2019 Beaujolais Nouveau, by Georges Duboeuf



2019 Georges Duboeuf Rosé

COLOR: The Apricot-pink rose of the Eustacia Vye roses. Crystal clear and so very dear.

SWIRL-SNIFF: Fresh grapefruit and strawberry blossoms in the spring, from this Gamay wine. Chill it for best flavors. These grapes come from 20-year old vines… Maturity of vines adds delightful flavors. This wine was made using the direct press method.

SIP: Memories of strawberry picking with my children, when we’d taste two and put one in the basket. Flavors were like being at a carnival and having cotton candy… Dry cotton candy, if there’s such a thing. Just an eye opening of deliciousness for what this vintage is going to deliver in rosé wine.

SAVOR: This is a really expressive wine, and I look forward to following it through this vintage, as it continues to age some more.

2019 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau

COLOR: The Ruby Slippers of the three wines. Pristine with deep purple overtones.

SWIRL-SNIFF: Wild blueberries found along the Maine coastline… Along with some native California cherry flavors.

SIP: Blueberry and cherry aromas have evolved from mid-summer heat spikes, and has delivered this important Gamay, from stainless steel fermenting tanks… It’s reflective of the grapes’ potential and delicately handled. Whole cluster harvesting has created a patchwork of differing terroirs and blended flavors.

SAVOR: Did you know that Franck Duboeuf and his team tasted over 5,000 samples during a two-week period, to craft this wine? The intensity and concentrations have delivered a Gamay of poetic prose. This is the unique one that relates nouveau, while still holding history in its hands.

2019 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau

COLOR: Garnet red, maroon with depth, and yet as young as a newborn’s buns…  It has some deep, warm tones , which sparkle under a soft light.

SWIRL-SNIFF: Red raspberries, in the afternoon sun; standing in the raspberry patch at the top of the hill, and so thankful that no one else knows these berries exist… Days gone by on Sabattus Lake, brought back by a delectable Gamay.

SIP: Red raspberry fruitiness follows through from nose to palate, as this season’s mid-summer heat has delivered this important Gamay Beaujolais-Villages.

SAVOR: This is a very expressive wine, so sipping its expressiveness will bring you the most joy. It’s sourced from the same 38 Villages of the Beaujolais-Villages A.O.C. The soils are from granite (granite is a very hard, granular, crystalline igneous rock, consisting mainly of quartz, mica, and feldspar) and schist (schist is a medium grade metamorphic rock), so expect it to be linear, clean, and vibrant. Bring out the charcuterie and cheeses! Also, this is your Thanksgiving wine. Light enough for both selections of a bird’s flavors, from white to dark meat.



Beaujolais,Gamay,Imports,Nouveau Beaujolais,Wine

This Thursday, lovers of Beaujolais Nouveau will once again be celebrating Beaujolais Day

This Thursday, lovers of Beaujolais Nouveau will once again be celebrating Beaujolais Day. Having enjoyed many Beaujolais wines, with most of them being at the source of many of the producers, in France, I can tell you that excitement doesn’t even begin to describe the joy I’m feeling right now. This past July, I got to taste the upcoming harvest, with grapes still hanging on the vine… Not even having gone through veraison yet, for the vintage, I still had to taste a grape, just to say I did. (Yes, filled with malic acid and very sour)… Still, I had indeed tried a 2019 Beaujolais grape, while in Beaujolais.When I think of Beaujolais, I’m reminded of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s sonnet (43), “How Do I Love Thee,” dedicated to her husband Robert Browning…

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.

Beaujolais is a graceful wine and it truly is ideal. Ideal with a range of delicate flavors from Fleurie, for instance, where the wine takes on the delicate flavors of flowers. Then, knowing the appellations, it becomes bolder and more tannic, when from Moulin-à-Vent or Morgon. Terroir is everything, as it affects this versatile Gamay grape.

I’m really looking forward to this Thursday, the third Thursday of November (November 21, 2019), as we will again be celebrating Beaujolais Day
From a Quintessential Wines press release…

The 2019 bottles displaying “Joyous Crush” by winning artist Laura Runge

Each year there is a competition to find the best original art for the U.S. label of Georges Duboeuf’s world-famous Beaujolais Nouveau has ended. Due to the influences of social media, this year experienced the highest levels of engagements to date. “There were an impressive number of submissions by talented artists from around the country. Over 600 pieces were entered, with native Texan Laura Runge’s Joyous Crush taking the top prize. Included is a cash grant and the honor of having her work debut on the label of over one million bottles of Duboeuf’s 2019 Beaujolais Nouveau, Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau and Beaujolais Nouveau Rosé when the wines are released on the third Thursday of November (November 21, 2019).”

When asked how she felt about winning the contest, Laura replied, “I am absolutely ecstatic! I am so incredibly grateful for this opportunity, because it will afford my work a level of exposure I might not get otherwise. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime honor and truly a dream come true!”

Her painting is a vivid interpretation of the celebratory feeling that Beaujolais Nouveau embodies. She chose to use colors with fruit names such as grape, tangerine, peach and cranberry, to demonstrate her interpretation of the harvest in France—with deep pinkish-red and purple tones to mimic the colors of the wine, and greens and blues to reflect the earth and sky. “I wanted to create a festive piece that would have the look and feel of celebration,” commented Laura. “There is a depiction of the wine itself, surrounded by subtle bursts of confetti to evoke that joyous feel.”

Now in its third year, the Georges Duboeuf Artist Label Competition was created to support the creativity of emerging artists all over the U.S. “Our family has long been avid supporters of the arts, having worked with many artists over the last 40+ years to create our iconic labels and limited-edition posters,” comments Franck Duboeuf, CEO of Les Vins Georges Duboeuf. “Hosting this program has been almost as exciting for us as it is for the artists – it’s a great joy for us to see who the public selects each year as the winner.”

Of the entries submitted online via the competition’s website, 15 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 15, followed by a fifteen-day period of public voting. In a competition where public voting was the determining factor in the selection of the winner, social media played a very important role. Finalists were invited to share their submissions on their own accounts, finding support from local residents, fellow artists, friends and family. With over 6,000 total votes and thousands of likes and comments on social media, the 2019 competition saw the highest level of engagement yet from art and wine-loving fans and enthusiasts.

“We’re extremely pleased that this competition has grown so much in popularity over the past three years, particularly with younger consumers who are a key component of Beaujolais Nouveau’s continuing sales growth,” explains Dennis Kreps, co-owner with his father, Stephen D. Kreps, of Quintessential, the exclusive importer of Les Vins Georges Duboeuf in the US. “Not only is the contest generating trade, media and consumer excitement and interest in Beaujolais Nouveau well before the wine’s actual launch in November, but the high level of social media engagement we have seen demonstrates that it really resonates with the target audience’s interests and passions.”

The tradition of Nouveau began when the winemakers and growers of the Beaujolais region celebrated the end of harvest with a young wine that was initially only produced for local consumption. Georges Duboeuf was the first to bring that quaint local custom to wine-lovers outside of the region, creating a worldwide phenomenon. Bottled six-to-eight weeks after harvest, Beaujolais Nouveau is fresh, fruity and vibrant. It is often considered to be an indicator of the quality of the vintage and it is best served with a light chill. The wine’s annual release the week before Thanksgiving has made Beaujolais Nouveau a harbinger of the holiday season in the U.S. for more than 35 years.


Holiday,I'll Drink to That,Wine,Wine Accessories,Wine Storage

A Holiday Gift That Easily Goes the Extra Mile ~ NewAir 24″ Built-in Dual Zone Beer and Wine Fridge

Going into this holiday season, I’m incredibly thankful for a product I was queried about trying. It turned out to be an amazing saving grace, besides providing the ability to age our wines and chill beer and other beverages in perfect settings…

From the Department of you never know…

In early October, I was queried by New Air, to see if I’d be interested in accepting and reviewing a new wine and other beverages refrigerator. Enjoying the warm October days – sorta, we now had our minds set on the October dial, in Sonoma County – I thought “Sure. I can meet a commitment with this one.” Things has slowed down a bit.

Never, in my wildest imagination, did I see what was coming, besides the fabulous NewAir24inch Dual Zone Wine and Beverage Fridge.

It became our Savings Grace

Arriving just a few days later, we worked on finding just the right spot in our dining room. A perfect fit, by all accounts. I moved it in, and voila! Lights, camera, and action! This was a great new addition!

It hummed along, for a week, then at 1:30 a.m. on October 24, we were roused and on the road again. In 2017, this was also our scenario… to look out our back door and see the hills ablaze. The Kincade Fire was now really burning just miles from here. The plume I saw that morning was massive and frightening. This was not good and we had to get out – NOW. We did, twice evacuated from one place to the next. Always through the grace of God and really good people, we were ushered along until we could return on November 1.

And then the work began…

When our electricity was turned back on and we were allowed to go home from evacuations, we returned to a mess. Leaves scattered everywhere, branches down, dust, ash, smoke residuals. We also had to face the dreaded refrigerator… Over 12 days of no electricity. It had been turned off the couple of day before the fire even began, and remained off for a bit when we returned…

Two days of emptying, cleaning, sterilizing, scrubbing, etc., of our refrigerator and freezer was exhausting. In the interim, we brought foods home to cook and eat, and we also needed to store it…

Once the electricity was turned back on again, out of the blue (from the fridges lights, perhaps), Jose realized we’ve GOT an unlikely fridge option. “Why not use the New Air?”

Because this fridge has a built-in Dual Zone for 20 bottles and a 70 wine and/or beer, this beverage fridge turned into enough space for how we segued from not having anything to keep new foods coming into our home for the next week, into our “pet refrigerator,” in the interim.

As I said to a group of firemen, after we were returned home and I had thanked them as they were heading out again… when asked if there was anything else they could do to help me, I said, “I wish I could have had all of you to help us clean out our refrigerator/freezer.”  Let’s just say, food in a closed refrigerator, not plugged into a cooling source, 10-11 days later… Yeah, you don’t want to go there any time soon. But, we all did have a good laugh at the prospect of them helping with the crud.

It took nearly a week before I wanted anything to go back into our refrigerator. The aromas had to be absorbed… Thanks, Arm & Hammer. And, we kept food really well, until we segued back into normalcy with our refrigerator, with the ability to store foods in the New Air. Seriously, what a miracle. I’d never have seen this one coming, and am so thankful for an unexpected use during a crisis, of a product that I can enjoy as intended.


NewAir AWB-400DB Dual Zone

Wine and Beverage Fridge

is The Most Exciting Wine and Beer Fridge I’ve ever had

Yes, I’m fresh off a crisis; but, I also know that if I went out to buy a wine fridge, I’d take a hefty look at this one.

How do I know that? Well, I’m just back from a week in Montana and Idaho Falls. It was there I saw another 24 inch wine refrigerator. It fit perfectly at the end of the friend’s newly installed kitchen island. Knowing what a great kitchen resource it is to have one, I immediately bonded.

This is a great holiday gift to give someone who loves beverages and entertaining…  It’s one thing to have beverages, it’s another to conveniently store them all in one location… Your bar fridge. This New Air 24-inch fridge has depth, and space to tuck back quite a bit. Space enough to store up for a party: bottles of wine,  cans of beer, soda, juices of all kinds. Throw in a couple of Champagnes and this fridge will rock your holidays.

#Sample from NewAir. If you buy it from them, they will work out a monthly payment plan, by the way. It’s on sale right now. I was just on their website. Model: AWB-400DB


DETAILS for purchases, with 20 percent off:

NewAir 24” Built-in Dual Zone 20 Bottle and 70 Can Wine and Beverage Fridge | AWB-400DB

Use code WINEBLOG20 for 20% off at: https://www.newair.com/products/awb-400db-dual-zone-wine-beverage-fridge?utm_source=blog&utm_medium=WineBlog&utm_campaign=AWB400DB



Sonoma,Sonoma County,Wine,Wine Country

California Wine Country ~ Blinded by the Light

Living in wine country is mostly on the upside of quite happy. But, as my husband Jose has been saying lately, “there comes a time to pay the dues.” I live about six miles from Geyser Peak, in Geyserville. To look upon it, one sees God’s Country. At this point, it’s hard to think of being anywhere else. There has to be a balance to all of this, and it seems to be mid October. I believed the scientific evidence in the 60s, when we were warned about accelerated climate change, if we didn’t change our habits, so I did. Today, I’m more than frustrated that so few of us “got it” then, and are still spewing their doubts and illogical thoughts still.

Okay, so there. I had to get that off my chest.

[PHOTO: This is an image I took of Field Stone Winery, before the Kincade Fire.]


180 Degree About Face ~ Blinded by the Light

BLINDED BY THE LIGHT: This morning, on my way back from the store and nearly home, I looked ahead to the Oriental Grange in Geyserville. My turn was on a t-shaped corner, and I needed to turn left. I could see fire trucks in the parking lot straight ahead, where they stage themselves.

I thought of stopping to say something to these brave firemen, but KNEW I couldn’t. With just the thought of it, my throat closed and tears began to stream down my face. I’d have a compete break down, so I let that thought go. When I got to the corner, for which I had to turn left, the sun COMPLETELY blinded me from oncoming traffic from the right. I was forced to go right, knowing I’d have to then make a u-turn somewhere, to get back on track.

[Purchased photo]

I struggled with turning into the grange parking lot. In a flash I KNEW, even though I wasn’t going to hold it together, I still had to thank these brave souls.

I parked the car, got out, and approached a circle of over a dozen firemen, all looking straight at me. My lips quivered, my eyes were burning with tears, they were all wondering what I wanted… I stopped, facing the circle and managed to choke it out… “There aren’t enough words,” and just stood there, with a long pregnant, helpless pause. Their expressions went from wondering, to their own breakdowns of relief.

Blinded by the light… all of us. We all managed to talk about the fire, where they lived, where I live. When they found out how close I was to the source, they knew they saved me. No more words were spoken, except my sincere “thank you.”

Then one asked if they could help me with anything (so typical of these men). “Well, I could have used you all to help me clean out my refrigerator.” We all laughed, and I left them to their morning work, going back to my own.

God’s special Angles of Fire…Let’s all drink to that!

Firemen… Where would we all be without them? Calendars would never be the same (sorry, not sorry). They’re fit as a fiddle, strong as iron, and have hearts of gold. This sentiment goes for fire women, too; I just haven’t seen their calendars, yet.



Beaujolais,France,Gamay,Sustainablility,Wine,Wine tasting,Wine Travel,Wine Writer,Wine-Blog

Theme of Recreation Lives on at Château de Nervers

The theme of recreation still does live on at Château de Nervers, all while they are making world-class wines. I was touring with a media group this past July, in Odenas, Brouilly, France, as guests of owners Jean-Benoit Chabannes and his charmingly delightful wife Tiphaine de Chabannes, at their château. (SEE MAP BELOW: Odenas is a commune in the Rhône department of eastern France.)

We had arrived at Château de Nervers in late afternoon, to enjoy what became a really delicious winemaker dinner, in so many ways…

PHOTO: left to right ~ Tiphaine de Chabannes, fellow guest Amanda Burrill, and Jean-Benoit Chabannes.

In the middle of dinner, one guest declared it was “the best winemaker dinner EVER!” The alcove was filled with boisterous laughter.

Later, when we took it outside, giddiness just continued, into one of the most vibrant sunsets any of had ever seen. Maybe it was the moment? I tend to think it was more the people and group I was with. This image has no saturation added to it. Awestruck, it’s exactly as we saw it.

Jean-Benoit set us all off into laughter, but then we were his easy audience all night. Fun loving, while living a wine life. What’s not to love? And, did I mention, he makes really delicious wines, too?


Enjoy this images of the past I took, during this brief history of the château.

Located in Brouilly, Château de Nervers was first a relay hunting lodge, of the prestigious Château de la Chaize. Descended from a long line of nobility dating back several centuries, Château de la Chaize is among the oldest and most historic estates in Burgundy’s Beaujolais region.

This was at the end of the 18th century, where guests were welcomed to this château, on hunting days. In 1830, the current owner’s wealthy grandfather arrived. He had lent a large sum of money to the owner, who was a friend… and also a gambler. Eventually, the friend was unable to pay him back, and offered Château de Nerver to him as compensation. The estate then fell into the hands of Jean-Benoit Chabannes’ family.

Château de Nervers has now been a family winery for almost 200 years. Six generations have succeeded each other, until Jean-Benoît and Tiphaine became the current managers. Together they combine tradition and modernity, valuing what makes up their history and inventing what will be their future. For the first time in its history, the Domaine is managed by a couple who take care of their vines from planting to enjoying the fruits of their labor… Their wines.

The estate has about fifty hectares (124 acres), which are mostly in Brouilly. The vineyards are farmed by families living on the estate for several generations, and winemaking is worked by five winemakers.

Since 2018, Château de Nervers has been Terra Vitis certified; and it now achieved a “High Environmental Value,” for 2019. The yields for the wine grapes are quite low and acidity is not very high, allowing for the production of solid, well-rounded wines.

The late afternoon was warm and welcoming. As we stepped through the gate, I went back in time, to the days of guests arriving in horse drawn carriages. All over France, we saw glimpses of those mysterious days gone by… I write mysterious, because one can only imagine what it must have been like to be going from one bumpy place to the next, some in luxury, some in bare bones dusty necessity.

I dare say these carriages that arrived at Château de Nervers “in the day” were the highlight of the time.

We spent a lot of time outside, touring the estate’s grounds, before having dinner, enjoying sights, country sounds, and simple aromas of their terroir.

We sipped on bubbles in the process, as we listening to how Jean-Benoit and Tiphaine de Chabannes are really enjoying their good fortune. While it’s a (very) large responsibility, I’ve yet to see anyone so enthused about having so much to do, and still raise a small daughter in an old, giant castle. Imagine the reality for that child… any child, raised in a castle.

When we came into the winery, we first toured the cellar. This really became a constant theme throughout Beaujolais…  cement fermenting tanks, all incredibly unique in design.

When we walked in, I could feel the cool, dampness, that held the blood, sweat, tears, and aromas of every prior harvest and fermenting. The past was the present. The present would become the future. But, it was so NOW.

How many people, who had ridden onto the property, had also walked where I was walking now, smelling scents of wine?

As we rounded a corner, the cellar opened up into another chamber. Silently, the cellar was waiting for a harvest that would begin within a month’s time. Anticipation was great, as this was during the time of a hot spell. Winemaking has its frailties, and intense heat is one of them. We were all nervously hoping for the best.

We then entered an alcove, where a causally set table was waiting for us, during the mid-summer’s night of heat. It was like being with family… We were all ready to sit and enjoy being in the company of Jean-Benoit and Tiphaine de Chabannes, to hear more tales and break bread.

Our dinner was comprised of savory, wholesome, fresh French foods, of duck pate, skewered cantaloupe with Jambon de Bayonne (or French prosciutto), French bread (of course) with fresh dairy butter (still mooing), and Mozzarella di Bufala with sliced tomatoes, olive oil and herbs. We finished with desserts. I had the raspberry cheesecake, others had and a fruit custard option. We all became very satiated.

Our dinner was paired with Brouilly Château de Nervers 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 wines, and a few more treats. It all just got better and better… Flavors, favors, and fond memories being made.

As cool air began to drift into the alcove, the sun was setting. One person walked outside, discovered the sunset, and within minutes we were all outside their gate marveling at the sky’s colors, giggling into the night.

À votre santé, Kelly Mitchel. And until we all meet, again.

And… Special thank you to Wine Business for publishing “Theme of Recreation Lives on at Château de Nervers” from Wine-blog.


Napa,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Culture

Normal Winery Merger and Acquisition Market in This Last Quarter of 2019

I don’t usually report on real estate in the wine industry. I’ve just watched – for nearly 30 years – so many wineries changing hands, fading into the sunset, changing the name due to notoriety, the failings of venture capitalism, no legacy planning, etc.. It really is the game of Monopoly, with each county having it’s own board: Baltic Avenue to Boardwalk, railroads, utilities; “Get Out of Jail Free” cards, along with “Go Directly to Jail, Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200.”

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz. A view at Chateau Nervers, Brouilly, France]

When I worked with Concannon Vineyard, which had changed hands, again, to The Wine Group, I told them that at that time, it was critical to keep a family member on the premises. Jim Concannon was nearing retirement, and I suggested John was a great candidate. Now that this winery is on the marketing, again, will that consideration persist? I hope so, so long as there is a family member close by who wants the ambassador role. But, that is up to the new buyer.

The US doesn’t have the European roots, where a family members can trace themselves back to the fifteenth century, much less two or three hundred years – as in a few US  properties. Still, some great brands have been created here and have great worldwide cache.

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz. A view of Napa Valley from Ragusci Winery, Stags Leap District]

On the other hand, this is just evolution. My advice to anyone buying a winery, make sure either you or a close family member has a degree in finance, because, as the saying goes, “It takes a large fortune to make small fortune in the wine industry.” Another thought, also make sure someone in the family loves to get her or his hands dirty, and there’s another scientist… if you’d like your winery to stay within your family. This gives you more chance to have your passion of owning a winery survive all the tests of time. Simply being a bon vivant, with a trophy winery, doesn’t guarantee any legacy. Then there are those who have a 10 year plan, live it out, and list it. In the end, there will be a for sale sign, which doesn’t garner legacy prices.

Lecture over ~ Getting onto what’s for sale, via an Email sent to me, by global wine partners.

[PHOTO: Purchased ~ Copyright, Dinis Tolipov]

Global Wine Partners

For over 30 years, Global Wine Partners has been advising winery owners in the sale of their properties and brands.  With this perspective, we can say that notwithstanding the many headwinds in the wine industry, there is still a normal winery Merger and Acquisition market in this last quarter of 2019.

It is clear that the stalled Gallo/Constellation deal has caused increased market uncertainty, and that in turn has led some active acquirers to stand by pending its resolution. Still, overall buyers are looking at deals and offers are being made.

If you are a potential buyer, please see the opportunities outlined below.  These are just a few of the many projects we are working on.  Contact us, 707.967.5318.

If you’re a potential seller, we we’d be happy to talk with you about the current market, for wineries in general and for your business, in particular.

  • Legacy Santa Barbara estate winery
    • This 107-acre estate winery in the heart of Santa Ynez’s wine country sells 6,000 cases of Bordeaux-varietal wines at good price points.
    • It has a robust DTC business, and is growing its wholesale market.
    • Seller will consider real estate-only offers.
    • Growing 100,000-case Chardonnay Brand,  this brand is California-appellated, selling at a $14.99 Suggested Retail Price, yielding very high gross margins.
    • Broad national distribution and chain authorizations are driving growth.
  • Dry Creek Valley Sonoma estate winery
    • Tucked under the western hills, this 100-acre estate has varying topography creating a myriad of terroirs.
    • The winery is permitted for 25,000-case production.

For further information on the opportunity, click here to email Carol Collison, or call 707.967.5318

Additional Services ~ Valuation, Litigation & Finance

GWP provides a wide range of strategic & financial services to the wine industry based on decades of experience in consulting, accounting, and banking. We provide buy-side advice to new and established investors in wineries & vineyards.

This is information from an Email. This is not an advertisement.

And… Special thank you to Wine Business for publishing “Normal Winery Merger and Acquisition Market in This Last Quarter of 2019” from Wine-blog.