Cabernet Sauvignon,Calistoga,Napa,Pinot Noir,Wine,Wine Hospitality,Wine tasting,Wine Travel,Winemaking,Winery,Wines

Long Time Coming Story ~ Castello di Amorosa

It seems like so long ago, from now, when I visited Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, Napa Valley, on a whim. My husband Jose and I had just attended a media tasting for a Rutherford Dust event, and I decided that I wanted to not pass by Castello di Amorosa, as I had so many times before. (I live in wine country, so we pass every winery every day we’re on the road; this isn’t unusual. (Wanting to stop after an event was…)

What was unusual was piling one event on top of another, because I knew it was going to ultimately be very time consuming. Still, I just felt like it was time…

Today, I’m recalling one of the best decisions I ever made, when I asked Jose to segue up the hill to the “Castle.”


From V. Satuti Winery to Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa has gained the cache for being a great place for parents with kids (with them in wine country), to segue for a bit, so the kids are a bit entertained, too. So few wineries are as cordial as the Castello. Honestly, I’m not surprised. When I was working at Robert Mondavi Winery, for instance, I loved having children on my tour. I knew that learning a bit about wine was going to help with their own temperance some day. Deny anything to a child and they want it more. Educate them as to why their parents are enjoying a bit of wine in their lives, and they’re possibly future wine connoisseurs. Nowhere will anyone learn that more than by traveling to Europe and observing their wining and dining psseggiata culture. Does it help that Castello di Amorosa is owned by someone who is of Italian descent? Yes, it does…

This Tuscan, thirteenth Century-style Castle (think dungeons and dragons) is owned by Dario Sattui. From the Castello’s Website:

Castello di Amorosa is the realization of an all-consuming passion. Fourth generation winemaker Dario Sattui built an authentically styled 13th century Tuscan castle winery to honor his Italian heritage and deep love for medieval architecture.

But it all started with wine.

Dario is the great-grandson of pioneering vintner Vittorio Sattui, an Italian immigrant who founded St. Helena Wine Cellars in 1885. 

Dario Sattui also owns V. Sattui Winery. It’s the one on Highway 128/29 that has a large picnic area in front, in the town of St. Helena, set in the heart of Napa Valley. Besides wine, they also have an Artisan Deli and Marketplace, which allows for you to picnic with your wines. The operative here is picnic! What is more American Family than a picnic. Again, Dario has been catering to a lifestyle, ever since I can remember. Why? It’s in his DNA…


So, how about that Castle 

HERE’S A NUGGET: The wines from the Castello are all sold directly from the winery to consumers. If you love these wines, get onto their mailing list. Direct to consumer is so chic for the winery and the consumer, alike.

As Jose and I entered the Castello, I asked to speak with someone in their PR department. If I was going to do this, I wanted a business-to-business person, so writing a story would give me all of the paperwork I needed. We were greeted by Michala Jeberg, the PR and marketing manager, at the time. Now she’s listed as their author.

So, kids? Yes, Castello does take care of having a place where children can be exposed to Thirteenth Century Medieval times; yet, it’s important to note that Castello di Amorosa also has a Club Member Lodge, and this one does not allow any minors to gain entrance. So, if you’re not traveling with children and want to avoid the hyper diapers, book yourself into the lodge. Here’s why!

The Luscious Pinot Noirs of Castello di Amorosa

Michala Jeberg

Michala Jeberg immediately took us to an adults’ only room, and she proceeded to tell us about their Villa Amorosa Estate Vineyard, their Three Arrows Ranch, the Three Arrows Ranch Estate Vineyard, their cool climate Terra de Promissio Vineyard, and their Morning Dew Ranch in Mendocino’s Anderson Valley. Who knew, honestly, that this Castello has been honoring cool climate Pinot Noirs, while prominently placed in Napa Valley?

  • Villa Amorosa Estate Vineyard ~ Surrounding the castle ~ about 30 acres in the warmer climate Diamond Mountain District
    • Bordeaux Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petite Verdot
    • Italian Varieties: Primitivo and Sangiovese
  • Three Arrows Ranch Estate Vineyard ~ In a cool climate on the southwest edge of Sonoma County, in the famed Green Valley of Russian River Valley
    • Burgundy Variety: Pinot Noir
    • Clones: 115, 777, and the Pommard 4
  • Terra de Promissio Vineyard ~ Located in the cool climate of the Petaluma Gap, in Sonoma County’s Coastal region
    • Clones: DRC, 115, 777, Rochioli, 23, and the 828
  • Morning Dew Ranch ~ Located in Mendocino’s Anderson Valley, another cool climate location


I listed the Castello’s Estate Vineyard first. Then, if you know about Calistoga, you know that in Napa Valley, where things are a bit upside down temperature-wine.  Unlike the East Coast, where the more north you go, the colder it gets, in the Napa Valley and Sonoma County, the more north you go, the warmer it gets. So, Southern Napa is Carneros… a very cool climate, from the influences of San Pablo and San Francisco bays. The more north you go in Napa Valley, the warmer it gets. Calistoga in Napa Valley is quite warm – if not downright hot, in the deep summer months.

So, let’s talk about the vineyards away from the estate, because each one is strategically placed in a cool climate, viticultural areas. This is where they are sourcing their fruit to craft their Pinot Noirs”

  • Three Arrows Ranch Estate Vineyard ~ Pinot Noir grown in Sonoma County’s Green Valley of Russian River Valley (all clones listed above)
  • Terra de Promissio Vineyard ~ Pinot Noir in Petaluma Gap AVA, in Sonoma County’s Coastal region
  • Morning Dew Ranch ~ Pinot Noir in Mendocino’s Anderson Valley

What is so significant with cool-climate Pinot Noirs?

If you know about Bordeaux, you know their varieties used to make wine. (Warmer climate grapes thrive with a bit more heat.) Knowing a bit about Burgundy, you know the grapes of choice are Pinot Noir. (Cool climate grapes thrive where there’s a bit of a chill in the morning, made that way by some moisture influence(s). Notice above I mentioned Southern Napa is located by San Francisco and San Pablo bays.

So, these three locations ~ with their moisture influences.

  • Three Arrows Ranch Estate Vineyard ~ GREEN VALLEY ~ Only 10 miles due west to the Pacific Coastline. It’s also influenced by the Russian River. The photo above is one I took, when the sun was going down over the Russian River (bottom water) and the Pacific Ocean (upper water). This is the location where the river pours into the Pacific.
    • Mark Twain: “The coldest winter I ever spend was the summer in San Francisco.” It’s cold down there in the summer, and quite mild in the winter.
  • Terra de Promissio Vineyard ~ PETALUMA GAP AVA ~ Also getting its cool climate influence from San Pablo Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The Gap’s newly defined AVA. I’ve written about it stating:
    • Then, it occurred to me, because my daughter and her family live in Petaluma. From Petaluma, we can easily drive to Tomales Bay. We’ve been there and watched the fog roll in, in the late afternoon. If you’re on the beach, you can visually see the fog rolling into that valley area, and understand the pinpoint location of the Petaluma Wind Gap on its southern end. I’ve been there when it happens… It just rolls in. It’s cold and windy, and it just takes over. We run from the beach. (Yeah, it’s that cool and Pinot Noirs just love that cool!
  • Morning Dew Ranch ~ Pinot Noir in Mendocino’s Anderson Valley ~ From the Anderson Valley Website:
    • Towards the [Pacific] coast the summers are cool and moist with frequent fog, while the interior Anderson Valley proper features a warmer climate during the day, with daytime highs in excess of 100 °F (38 °C) several times per year, but diurnal-temperature swings consistently 40 to 50 degrees.

Pinot Noirs Tasted ~ The Soul I found in Each of the Four Pinots

I should first say that it’s been a while since I tasted these wines. The Castello di Amorosa owns the vineyards, so they control all aspects of their grape growing and winemaking. While there may be slight variances from vintage to vintage from weather, only a new winemaker would make a drastic stylistic difference. I tasted the fruit; I tasted the soul of the vines’ terroir. You’re going to have to experiment on your own, but might take a piece of this with you in the process.

My palate was so ready for this wine, having just finished a Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon tasting. I had had some of the best Cabernet’s that Napa Valley has to offer… Big, rich, linear Cabs, intended to knock your socks off, straighten your spine, and make you suavely and good-naturedly declare, “Ooooo yeah, darling!” This is IT!”

Now was the time to shift from fourth gear, down to second gear. This is very generally speaking here…

  • First gear ~ Commodity wine, no thinking with the drinking, sold, done
  • Second gear ~ Pinot Noir, which attract tree huggers and family lovers
    • Cool climates, hard to grow, the delicate of the delicate
  • Third gear ~ All the other varieties, from the US to Italy, to Portugal, South America, Australia, etc. All of them…
  • Fourth Gear ~ Big Cabernet Sauvignon (Bordeaux and Napa), which attracts the collectors and readers from image-maker recommendations

So, we’re in Second Gear, also known as Pinot Noir Heaven… Enjoying Pinto is like having a velvet lining in your esophagus. You swirl, cherries and plums. You sniff, “Is that strawberry I’m picking up?” Then the sip and the lining of your esophagus… Round, ripe, and unctuous… A word that came up frequently in each of the wines I tasted… With the same winemaker, some elements of the wine overstep from one lone location to the next, and these wines delivered that consistency.

  • 2017 Rosato Morning Dew Ranch Pinot Noir (Rosé) ~ Anderson Valley ~Provisional Adult
    • So delicious and refreshing, cleansing and pleasing. I could have stayed right there, until I picked up the aroma of the Pinot being poured Huh? Turing my head… A rose is a rose is a rose… And, so is a Rosé.
  • 2016 Rosato Morning Dew Ranch Pinot Noir ~ Anderson Valley ~
    • This wine, of course, had the same flavor profile… except… we were now talking about a bit more maturity, no longer being provisional. This equals more food options. Round, sensuous flavors that are alluring, inviting, and oooo lala. Paté and mushrooms…
  • 2016 Three Arrows Ranch Pinot Noir ~ Green Valley of Russian River Valley ~ Sensuality
    • Food friendly, sensuous sipping turned in voluptuous and expanding the food options to duck and Turkey’s dark meat. Very polished, credit to the oak barrels… Vanilla doesn’t take over… It just slides into place, just like a figure skater coming to the end of her or his performance.
  • 2016 Terra de Promissio Pinot Noir ~ Petaluma Gap ~ Temptress….
    • This is the final of these four wines. It’s been a perfectly beautiful progression, led by Michala Jeberg. These Pinots were “on allocation.” Small production equals limited distribution… Again, you can contact the winery to find how you get over this Castello’s moat. The Terra de Promissio Pinot made its way onto my middle-weight soup list as a great option. I just made that soup with chicken in a beef broth and potatoes thickening the base. Chicken, pork, mushrooms, Herbs de Provence … more to add and enjoy. This wine took me back to my days of living in Maine on a lake: Damp and reassuring, as flavorful as morning dew, as enriching as being in Burgundy would be, on a day off…


We also tasted this Pinot tasting with their Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s a classic styled Napa Valley Cabernet, with delicious black currant flavors, worth of any fare that is brought home of substantial substance, like a scrumptious Porterhouse steak or a steak stir fry in a balsamic fig sauce.

These wines are so worthy of your time, just as I hung onto my visit for the day when I could shout “Hurray!” When traveling through Napa Valley, with or without children, this is a “must stop to enjoy” winery, for all of the right reasons.

Step back in time to enjoy wines of today, at Castello di Amorosa.




Carneros,Chardonnay,Pinot Noir,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Country,Wine Culture,Wine Education,Wine Hospitality,Wine Philology,Wine tasting,Winemaker,Winemaking,Winery,Wines

Carneros Wine Alliance Annual Spring Barrel Tasting ~ 2019

Who can define a regional American Viticultural Area (AVA) better:

  • The collective marketing decisions from a gaggle of people, and a Webmaster who simply needs content?
  • Or, the historian who did the research and development?


I always begin my searches with the organizations. In this case, it’s the Carneros Wine Alliance and the Sonoma County Grape Growers Association. They’re both great resource, if you ever have any questions about this AVA called “Carneros.”

  • UNIQUE DISTINCTION: The only California AVA that’s contiguous into two locations; both Sonoma County and Napa Valley.
    • SONOMA SIDE: The southern rolling hills in Sonoma
    • NAPA SIDE: The southern base of Napa Valley, overlooking San Pablo Bay

Would I endorse Carneros Wines as a region? You bet I would, in a heartbeat.

It was a lovely day in Carneros, at The Donum Estate, the host winery for this educational, wine event.

From the Carneros Wine Alliance:

“Influenced by the maritime breezes and fog from its southern border with the San Pablo Bay, Carneros produces the region’s finest Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and sparkling wines. The Carneros Wine Alliance is committed to promoting the distinction, diversity and above all, quality, of the grapes and wines from Carneros.”

From the Sonoma County Grape Growers Association:

“On the northern most edge of San Francisco Bay (here called San Pablo Bay), is the Carneros region, which rises gradually from flush-with-waterfowl wetlands, where tiny pink brine shrimp thrive in salt marshes. The thin-soiled gently rolling hills spill over into neighboring Napa County, and was once home to shepherds and their wooly flocks, hence the name – which is Spanish – for “ram.”

Having an invitation for a media day with the Carneros Alliance members, I decided it was time to get my own perspectives about the region. While driving to the event, I began to think about how I was going to approach the dynamic.

  1. First, I was going to get some photos
  2. Next, going to interact with the individual vintners and/or winemakers
  3. Finally, will taste the wines, if there’s any time left (only about 10 minutes, as it turned out)

I’m familiar with the region (since my 1980’s visit). I wanted something else, though; something to expand what I’ve a;ready heard, learned, know, written, tasted, and driven through.

Each person will have his or her own story to tell. That’s not exactly what I want… Marketing speak about the winery. (I write it, I know it. Nothing gets out that isn’t approved, and it might not even have what I think should be included – or not included.)

So, what’s it going to be? I wills say, ahead of time, that terroir plays a major role. They all know they’re in a cool climate, and take great joy in where they are as it relates to their wines. This is not a commodity wine group; these are passionate people and it’s serious business in Carneros.

The Obvious ~ The Hook, Something from the Heart

SHE: Hello, I’m going to ask you only one question, because I’d honestly like to connect with each of you here today.

HE: Fair enough.

SHE: Okay, here it is. “There are at least 10,000 brands in the whole wide world. Each company has a unique point of view, based on its own history and development over time. I want to know, in this context, what makes your brand so unique, from ALL others in the world.”

HE: Hum… Let me think about that for a minute. It’s a good question, and I’ve never thought about what the answer would be.

I repeated that 17 times, pushing people out of their comfort zones.

The following are the results, from Participating CWA Members

Final Participating CWA Member Wineries:

  • Artesa Estate Vineyards & Winery
    • Winemaker Ana Diogo-Draper
    • Our vineyards present soil diversity, within our terroir. We have a Spanish heritage and a Spanish flavor with California Albariño and Pinot Noir.
    • From the Web: Our iconic, modern, hilltop Estate, just 15 minutes from both downtown Napa and Sonoma, is surrounded by rocky mountains, rolling vineyards, and breathtaking views across the San Pablo Bay. Established in 1991 by the oldest winemaking family in Spain, Artesa takes pride in blending old and new-world techniques to create the next generation of estate-grown wines.
  • Bouchaine Vineyards
    • Winemaker Chris Kajani and Assistant Wine Maker Erik Goodmanson
    • Site to financial district. Wine ties to micro climate of San Francisco. Lots of energy and attention to wines.
    • From the Web: Bouchaine is the oldest continuously operating winery in the Carneros District – a winery that began making wine long before the region earned its reputation for producing the great Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays of Carneros today.


  • Calmére
    • Proprietor Ariana Peju (proprietor), with Winemaker Sara Fowler Calmére (daughter)
    • Cal Mére means calm sea. Our wines are made with love. We have cute, little baby-top tanks. All of our wines are estate grown. We have a sparkling Roe Pinot Noir, a chardonnay, and a bit of Viognier. I have a loosely based name for it… “How to train a dragon.”
    • From the Web: In 2016 our family purchased 100 acres in Carneros and a state-of-the-art winery. We have spent two years developing a brand that represents our vision and captures the spirit of this unique property. The beautiful Calmére Estate Winery represents the next generation of Napa Valley and beautifully showcases the terroir of Carneros through Burgundian varietals like Chardonnay and Pinot
  • Ca’ Momi Winery
    • Owners: Stepano, Dario, and Valentina
    • We’re tied to wine and foods, from Italy. We make approachable wines. We’re rebels, just being ourselves.
    • From the Web: Ca’ Momi is built on Napa Valley soil, but we’re rooted in soulful Italian tradition. Founders Valentina Guolo-Migotto, Dario De Conti and Stefano Migotto all grew up in Italy, where community comes together around the table. We brought this tradition to Napa Valley with all the fiery passion you’d expect from three Italians.
  • Cuvaison Winery
    • Winemaker Steve Rogstad
    • Our fruit is 100 percent Estate grown. We represent the heart of the vine, where it grows.
    • From the Web: Founded in 1969, Cuvaison is one of the pioneering wineries that helped shape the modern era of Napa Valley winemaking. As an independent, family-owned winery for nearly five decades, we are dedicated to crafting exceptional wines from our acclaimed estate in the Los Carneros region of Napa Valley. To this day, our mission remains true to our roots, and so do our wines.
  • Domaine Chandon
    • Director of Winemaker Pauline Lhote
    • They are unique in that they are in six countries from around the world (Argentine 1959, California 1973, Brazil 1973, Austria 1982, India 2013, China 2014; so, they really and truly do have a global perspective and can consult internally with their winemaking team, in a “let’s work together attitude. Each region stays true to their roots, and the French tradition of making sparkling wine. And, in California’s instance, it’s their California terroir.
    • From the Web: This year at Chandon California, as we celebrate our 45th Anniversary, we are humbly thrilled to be reminded that so much of what our founders dreamed to achieve has come to fruition. In 1973, ‘M & H Winery,’ that will be renamed to Chandon, became the first French-owned sparkling winery in California.
  • The Donum Estate
    • Tony (assistant winemaker) and Agustin (cellar master)
    • Our estate was planted in 1985. At the time we were a dairy farm. We really work vines that reflect our own site. We’re Terroir driven. We have a sense of place in Carneros (also in Russian River Valley and Angel’s Camp, where we source some of our fruit). At our winery, we farm fruit on the valley floor, where air moves in different ways, than in a valley with some elevation.
    • From the Web: Donum means “gift of the land.” We produce only single-vineyard, estate wines from vineyards in Carneros, Russian River Valley and Anderson Valley.
  • Etude Wines
    • Winemaker is Jon Priest
    • We have a one-world connection: Vineyards, wines, and people, in everything we do. We’re all connected to by the vineyards. We bring in interns from around the world. Everyone we also takes on this special responsibility.
    • From the Web: Etude was founded on the philosophy that winemaking begins in the vineyard long before harvest, and that superior grape growing allows our winemakers to craft wines of exceptional varietal expression and finesse. This remains our approach today as we continue to build the Etude legacy.   – Jon Priest, Etude Winemaker
  • Poseidon Vineyard (left)
    • Coolest right nest to the San Pablo Bay. We also have our own cooperage, where we work with Hungarian Oak, from Tokai, Hungary. Our barrel treatment is completely controlled. In 2017 we launched our first vintage. James McPhail is our winemaker, and we sell our wines only by allocations in the spring and fall.
    • From the Web: In 1973, we planted Poseidon Vineyard on what had been grazing land since the time of the missionaries. We were among the first to farm the southern extreme of Napa Carneros, which at the time was considered too cool to ripen wine grapes. Poseidon Vineyard is the heritage wine project of Obsidian Wine Co. We seek and farm the extremes of the North Coast. This is our story. 
  • Saintsbury Vineyards
    • Gary (extreme right)
    • Our history dates back to 1981, when two guys went from Burgundy went to U.C. Davis. Richard Ward – get other name. They found their place in Carneros and dug in their heels.
    • From the Web: When the wines were good they pleased my senses, cheered my spirits, improved my moral and intellectual powers, besides enabling me to confer the same benefits on other people.” ~ GEORGE SAINTSBURY
  • Sangiacomo Family Vineyards
    • Jamie
    • We like having some control over our grapes’ flavors. We’ve been growing wine grapes for over 50 years. We’ve always been devoted to being wine grape farmers; but, now we are also making our own wines from our estate grapes, and defining our own flavors, according to our vineyard location.
    • From the Web: We are proud to continue our family’s farming tradition. We would not be where we are today without the knowledge and values we learned from our grandparents, parents, uncles and aunt. And we continue to plant seeds to enable future generations of our family to build upon this legacy.
  • Schug Carneros Estate Winery
    • Winemaker is Michael Cox
    • Our philosophy is heredity… Walter Schug came from the same school 50 years later. Johnaes whites are more popular. New world with history of old world. We have a beautiful climate for growing Chardonnay and Pinot for 3 years.
    • From the Web: ‘WINE AS PURE AS THE LAND’ ~ At Schug we craft our wines to be true to the land they were sourced from; our grower relationships are among our oldest and most cherished. In the tradition of Walter Schug’s home estate in Germany, we offer this Sparkling Pinot Noir as a celebration of the intense yet delicate flavors the Pinot Noir grape
      has to offer.
  • Starmont Winery and Vineyards
    • Pamela, with Jeff Crawford being their winemaker
    • In the early 1900s, traditional farming kept most vineyards sustainable. We keep Green in our thinking. We have our Stanley Ranch Estate for our chardonnay, and we have diversity from the Brown Family, located in Napa.
    • From the Web: SUSTAINABLE WINES from classic vines in NAPA VALLEY ~ “Starmont has always had a special spirit.  It is a soulful place that speaks to each person who visits this unique location.  It is this soulfulness that we try to express in our wines, so that they can be shared and experienced by all who enjoy the wines.” — Jeff Crawford 
  • Truchard Vineyards
    • Anthony M. Truchard II, second generation Vintner, General Manager
    • Our location is 100 percent estate. We’re the northern most vineyard in Carneros. We have volcanic soil running through the property. Some clay, some volcanic, this soil is the most diverse in California.
    • From the Web: During Tony’s [Father] tour in California the Truchard family took a number of road trips.  On one such trip, after checking in at the Presidio in San Francisco, the family drove up to the Napa Valley to see the vineyards.  Tony thought it would be “fun” to buy some Napa property and plant a vineyard.  During the next two decades, Tony continued to buy property until he had 400 adjoining acres.  At the same time, their family grew to include 4 daughters and 2 sons.
  • Viansa Sonoma
    • Heather
    • We have a long Sebastiani history, and we work to define Sonoma Valley, including with our Carneros wines.
    • From the Web: Idyllically situated at the summit of the Sonoma Valley, Viansa Sonoma embodies the proud history of local winemaking. The legacy of Viansa Sonoma dates back to 1896 when Samuele Sebastiani arrived from Tuscany and saved enough money, while making cobblestones for San Francisco streets, to purchase vineyard property in 1904. Following in his footsteps, Samuele’s children and grandchildren continued the tradition of sharing great wine, supporting the land from where it comes, and through passionately maintaining precious wetlands that are vital to our eco-system. Founded by Samuele’s grandson in 1989, Viansa Sonoma remains committed to producing wines of true excellence while continuing the tradition of land stewardship and winemaking that defines the Sonoma Valley.
  • ZD Wines
    • Scott
    • Z Zapone aero jets, Brett Dillars Scientists Get what they did that’s so unusual.
    • From the Web: ZD is a favorite wine country destination for folks who enjoy world class ChardonnayPinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Situated in the heart of Napa Valley in picturesque Rutherford, ZD is surrounded by gorgeous vineyards.


This was my morning in Carneros. I learned a lot worth sharing. Perhaps you learned something new, too?





Brut,Bubbly,Bubbly Wine,Italy,Prosecco,Sparkling,Wine

Romeo and Juliet Prosecco, the Angst and the Sparkle, in The World of Wine ~ Italy

[IMAGE by Wiesław Jarek : VERONA, ITALY – MAY 1, 2016: Part of the wall covered with love messages in Juliet’s house, Verona, Italy]

SAMPLE: The following is a springtime-worthy (heck – all year-worthy) wine, delivered from Famiglia Pasqua and the vineyards of the Veneto region, in northeast Italy.


  1. HEART ~ THE WINERY: info is coming from the company’s own statements.
    1. I can’t make up their history
    2. Nor am I gong to trying
  3. SOUL ~ SAMPLE ~ Jo Diaz Musings

I’m happy to have sparkling wine of any kind, from any region, because I crave it with any food… including my Kriptonite potato chips.

When you hear a cork pop, isn’t there a bit of a thrill for you, too?

I love pouring it down the side of a flute… ever… so… slowly. I don’t want to lose one tiny bubble to pouring it in haste. I want every bubble I can get. Bring them on.

[PHOTO Mykola Kokaryev: Juliet balcony in courtyard of the museum. Verona, Italy]

Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Bianco 2017


Pasqua Vigneti e Cantine is an historic winery that produces high quality Veneto and Italian wines and one of the main players in the Italian and international wine market. A family passion. A century long history. The history of Pasqua Vigneti e Cantine begins in 1925, when the first generation of the Pasqua brothers came to Verona and established a new business devoted to the trade of wines from their homeland, Apulia. From wine trade and retail, they decided to become a real winery. In a few years, with the acquisition of new vineyards in the Verona area, the company progressively gained importance and visibility.

During the 60’s, the second generation of the family entered the business, bringing about an opening to export and an orientation toward quality. The constitution of Cecilia Beretta in the 80s, the agricultural estate and innovative research centre for vines, grafting techniques and vineyards, is the symbol of the family’s constant quest for excellence.

When the third generation, composed by Riccardo, Alessandro, Cecilia and Giovanni, started to lead the company, the international market orientation boosted to a peak in 2009, with the foundation of Pasqua Usa LLC in New York. The company now sells wines in 50 countries worldwide.


This sparkling wine was made using the Charmat method, and produced by using the wine grape Glera; a variety native to the Treviso area. In this land there are the best soils and weather conditions, ensuring a wine with unique characteristics. It is a vivacious and fresh wine that’s versatile and quaffable, and suitable for any occasion.

From Wine Folly:

“The [Charmat] tank method came about during the industrial advancements made in the early 20th century and is the main process used for Prosecco and Lambrusco wines. The major difference between the tank method and the traditional method is the removal of the individual bottle as the vessel used to turn a still wine into a sparkling one. Instead, base wines are added together with the sugar and yeast mixture (Tirage) into a large tank. As the wine has a second fermentation, the CO2 released from the fermentation causes the tank to pressurize, whereafter wines are then filtered, dosed (with Expedition liqueur) and bottled without aging.”


The preparations, mentioned above, are not lost on this Prosecco. Glera is a decidedly productive grape variety, which ripens late in the season. It’s know for its generous acidity, and a pretty neutral flavors on our palates, making it really ideal for Prosecco’s production. Glera’s aromatic profile is also characterized by the mild, white peach. I enjoyed a bit of the usual lemon curd flavor of sparkling wines, and then it finished with its refreshingly vibrant bubbles.

This wine deserves a bit of dialogue, taken from Act II, Scene 2, Capulet’s orchard. It’s just so perfect, as I envision a white peach orchard:


I am no pilot; yet, wert thou as far
As that vast shore wash’d with the farthest sea,
I would adventure for such merchandise.

Yes, this one is worth looking for, for any romantic adventure, which you can have any day of the week… just by popping the cork, and writing your own happy ending ~ like I just have. This sparkling Prosecco is the happy ending version of Romeo and Juliet, that Shakespeare didn’t have the opportunity to write.



American Red Cross,Award,California,Humanitarian,Sonoma,Sonoma County,Sustainability,Wine

When His Main Goal is Sustainability of Human Beings… first and foremost

It’s so gratifying to hear someone say, “I have an idea,” and then to see it take shape. If you get to know Ron Rubin, you’ll see his myriad of ideas take shape… I can’t even count them anymore; he’s like the energizer bunny!

On Saturday, May 2, 2019, the Sonoma County Vintners Association bestowed upon Ron Rubin their Sonoma County Barrel Auction 2019 Innovator Award. Presented to Ron, this award is because of Ron Rubin’s outstanding commitment to the community, by virtue of its broad support of vital, sustainable community needs, through its AED TRAINED FOR “SAVING LIVES” program.

Ron Rubin ~ Ron Rubin Winery

After experiencing a rapid heartbeat ventricular tachycardia, Ron Rubin was saved by a defibrillator. He then made it his personal mission to pay it forward, and launched the TRAINED FOR “SAVING LIVES” program. In collaboration with the American Red Cross and ZOLL Medical Corporation, Ron Rubin has covered the cost of one ZOLL® AED Plus® (Automated External Defibrillator), to 104 wineries throughout Sonoma County.

The Innovator Awards acknowledges outstanding Sonoma wine industry achievers and achievements. Sonoma County Vintners is the leading voice of Sonoma County wine, dedicated to raising awareness of Sonoma County as one of the world’s premier wine regions. Sonoma County Vintners represents over 200 wineries throughout the county. They actively promote Sonoma County through educational programming; advocate for vintners at local, state, and federal levels. They also contribute to local communities through their charitable Sonoma County Vintners Foundation. Sonoma County Wine Auction, their annual fundraiser, has raised over $30 million benefiting non-profit organizations, throughout the region.

This is Ron Rubin’s fourth such award in recognition of his humanitarian effort, through TRAINED FOR “SAVING LIVES.” According to Ron Rubin,

“I’m very honored to have received this Sonoma County Vintner’s Innovator Award. My TRAINED FOR “SAVING LIVES” program is an effort to have Sonoma County wineries provide the safest and most sustainable environment, for staff, families, and consumers, alike. When people visit Sonoma County wineries, their health and safety are very important.”

  • Sonoma County Vintners Association bestowed upon Ron Rubin their 2019 Innovator Award. Presented to Ron, this award is due to Ron Rubin’s outstanding commitment to the community, by virtue of its broad support of vital, sustainable community needs, through its AED TRAINED FOR “SAVING LIVES” program.
  • LuxeSF (formerly the Luxury Marketing Council of San Francisco) named Ron Rubin’s TRAINED FOR “SAVING LIVES” program worthy their 2019 Rising Wine Stars Award, “Service to The Community.”
  • The Sonoma County Winegrape Commission’s 2018 Spirit of Sonoma Award, honoring individuals who contribute to the economic development and enhancement of the communities in which they live, work, and conduct business, through donations of their time and expertise in support of local business and in helping others.
  • North Bay Business Journal’s 2018 Wine Industry + Spirits Awards; a special award specifically given to Ron for his outstanding commitment to the wine community, by donating these AEDs.

It’s really so gratifying to know a man who takes such delight, with dreams that are humanitarian based, as they’re actualized. Every time someone qualifies for an AED, his day is made. Once his goal is finally realized, with all 450 AEDs placed in California Wine Country, there will be not only a huge sigh of relief, but – no doubt – and a huge bottle of bubbly.

Creating sustainability is a forethought, for Ron Rubin, not an afterthought. He’s committed to putting people above all else. His TRAINED FOR “SAVING LIVES” program is just one such example that I’ve witnessed.




Brut,Bubbly,Bubbly Wine,Chianti,Chianti Classico,Flavors from the World of Wine,Food & Wine,Imports,Italy,Le Marche,Sangiovese,Tuscany,Wine

Italian Passeggiata ~ Still a Cultural Phenomenon and it Includes Foods and Wines

Honestly, our American culture, in this May of 2019, has so drastically changed from when I was, say, 5-years old, in Maine. This seems unreal to me, now, but I do remember the first TV that came into my home. My dad was an early adopter of electronic gadgets. We had the first TV in our neighborhood, and it just “took over.” The continuing developments… TV dinners, then T.V. trays, followed by instant rice, and all other food sources becoming bleached and packaged, and – T.A.D.A! – GMOs… and everyone eats in his or her own private space, a lot of the time, with a hand held gadget.

[PHOTO Jo Diaz: In Monsaraz, Portugal]

Let’s Go Off To Europe for a different view ~ Passeggiata, it’s so Italian and it does include wine!

I remember my first trip to Europe and how “at home” it felt. So many buildings are just ancient, built by invaders, in fact… (e.g., Vikings, Moors, and Romans)… Their ancestral culture is still well represented, wherever I went. There’s so much visual evidence, live and in person. It’s life altering… The industrial revolution didn’t penetrate into their neighborly passage of time. As a result, their culture of closeness, with each other, is still flourishing. It’s what has the center of their towns still buzzing with activities, with this being a long forgotten culture in “today’s” America.

Fast forward to now, Italy. Simply by the scheduling of eight days: four days in Tuscany, as a guest of Castello di Meleto in Gaiole ~ In the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany; and four days at Colonnara Viticultori in Cupramontana ~ in the Castelli di Jesi region of Le Marche. I was off and running to experience the Italian cultural name for what we were consistently going to be doing: passeggiata ~ pas·seg·gia·ta/ˌpasəˈjädə/

Before and after dinner in Italy, Italians… all Italians… go out for a passeggiata (short walk). And, it’s taken purely for pleasure, making for happier human beings. You see it in their relaxed faces and their healthier looking, body language. Italians might greet each other with an enthusiastic “ciao, ciao, ciao!” said very quickly, like our occasional “yeah, yeah, yeah’s.” Even the kids are out, while you – as an American – wonder, where are their parents?

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz in Fabriano, Italy, from my visit with Colonnara Viticultori.]

If you can’t get there and haven’t experienced this firsthand, watch some foreign films to see the more regular and calm lifestyle. They have purpose, plot development, and timing.  There’s also their iconic scenery, never lost on my eyes, with a few bottles of wine mixed into images, not as product placements, just a way of life.

Anyone watching foreign films has seen passeggiatas, perhaps never giving it a second thought. These images aren’t staged for historical perspective, though; they’re still just everyday life. Many Italians do it multiple times a day, typically after meals. People aren’t wearing stretchable, plastic clothing, and there are no pedometers. It’s just part of the day…

PHOTO: Left is Michele Contartese, sales director of Castello di Meleto. Right is wine writer Michael Apstein, from Boston.

My Passeggiata with Castello di Meleto, headed to Ristorante Guido

Just off  Piazza del Campo

After a busy day, which began with visiting vineyards belonging to Castello di Meleto, we then visited their winery and wine cellar. After copious note taking and absorbing the terroir, we then returned to the winery for lunch. Their tasting room offers delectable foods, prepared by the Castello’s staff, which had been feeding delicious and authentic foods to us during our stay. My colleagues and I were there to learn as much as we could about the world of Castello di Meleto, and this was our second to last day.

After lunch, we headed into the town of Sienna, for an afternoon of learning the culture of their largest town, close to the winery. Once arriving, we began what would eventually segue into a passeggiata.

As dusk fell, we headed to Ristorante Guido, for a food and wine dinner so delicious and abundant, with impeccable service, the flavors of the evening, from passeggiata to a veritable ringraziamento (thanksgiving).

This is an image of Ribollita; a soup that I’m now making regularly… Their tradition is to use their day old bread, as part of a delicious soup stock, enhanced by local vegetables. You have to forgive me with this one. It was half eaten by the time I realized I should have captured its essence.

This is a link to their menu, but let me give you an abbreviated version:

  • Selezione di affettati del Chianti con bruschette al pomodoro, patè di milza e carciofi sott’olio

    Selection of pork cold cuts from Chianti served with tomato croutons, brown crouton and artichokes in oil

  • Tortelli di gallina con crema di parmigiano e chips di topinambur

    Tortelli chicken with Parmesan cream and chips of Jerusalem artichoke

  • Duck breast with orange sauce

    Bocconcini di faraona con salsa all’uva

  • Baccalà fritto con verdure su cipolle rosse caramellate

    Fried cod with vegetables on stewed red onions

And, of course, we had wines to go with our selections:

Fratelli Berlucchi Brut 25, Franciacorta DOCG, Italy

We began with bubbles, to celebrate our gathering. Fresh, inviting, and tasty. What a scrumptious way to begin our meal.

The winery’s story tells it all.. I just now have to come up with the 25 reasons, now, why I love Italy (easy).

From their Website:

“The youngest in the serious Millésimé family is a fresh and frothing toast wishing to be different for the young and the young at heart. It need 25 months from the harvest to be ready to drink and… we shall have 25 good occasions to celebrate, 25 friends to share with, and 25 interesting things to do….”

Bricco dell’Uccellone by Braida

This Barbera was a dark, rich, red wine with tons of deliciously ripe cherry flavors. It was the one wine that perfectly matched my Ribollita. The heartiness of the soup, coupled with the spices and rich ripe cherries of the wine, I had a perfectly harmonious match and a perfect memory to bring back to California, so I could replicate… Così squisito (so exquisite).

From their Website:

“The Bricco dell’Uccellone  is made of 100% Barbera grapes, which come from North-West of Italy, where it’s originally located, so Piedmont origin. Braida is the nickname for Giuseppe Bologna: He was the founder of this company that is located in the north part of Piedmont. Now his sons and wife, both enologists, take care of the brand. The wine’s color is definitely a ruby red tending to garnet in some senses.”

The Brunello di Montalcino Biondi-Santi

It was so smooth and captivating, I was in a luxurious reverie enjoying this one, after all else, from our passeggiata, wonderful people, delicious foods, and fabulous wines. Brunello is the name of a wine, whose origin is  from the Montalcino region in Italy’s Tuscany. It’s a law that Brunellos must be made using 100 percent of the Sangiovese wine grape variety. The range of flavors are from strawberry to sensual cherry flavors.

From VinePair:

“When it comes to Tuscan wine, Sangiovese is king. Although the grape appears in many appellations of the region, that doesn’t mean all Tuscan reds taste the same. On the contrary, the region demonstrates just how different Sangiovese can taste from one appellation to the next. Terroir, climate, tradition, blending, and aging all affect the characteristics of Sangiovese wines, leading to endless exploration for Sangio lovers.”

From Christie’s:

“Established in the mid 1800s, Biondi-Santi is one of Italy’s greatest historic estates. While some might argue that Barolo is the king of Italian wines, when looking at the extraordinary balance, elegance and longevity of Biondi-Santi’s wines, there is a compelling argument that it is Brunello that deserves the crown. “

When we left the restaurant, we were all more than satisfied, and so we began our “after dinner” passeggiata… We all needed time to digest everything that had just happened, during our Tuscan Day. We needed the fresh air, the meandering walk back to the car, and the ride back to the Castello. This day was a memory of a lifetime, allowed by our gracious hosts. It also touched off what I did as a child… “doing something” after dinner, besides the dishes and getting sucked back into that box. We also killed AT&T television… good bye channels, I won’t be missing you, but I do miss Tuscany – forever more.

Michael Yurch of Bluest Sky Import Group, thank you, too.


Italy,Native Variety,Red Wine,Veneto,White Wine,Wine,Wine Century Club

The World of Wine ~ Romeo and Juliette, when you have an adventurous palate

SAMPLES: The following are two springtime-worthy wines, fresh from Famiglia Pasqua, and the vineyards of the Veneto region in northeast Italy.

“Pasqua” coincidentally means “Easter” in Italian – a fittingly wine for this coming Easter Sunday, è giusto?

The Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Rosso 2016 and the Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Bianco 2017 samples arrived together. Each has a suggested retail of $16.00, and are honestly really great value wines. They’re crafted from this leading Venetian wine company, located in Italy’s northeast, Veneto region; think Veneto, think Venice.

Romeo & Juliet… Verona is indelibly associated with one of the world’s most famous love stories. The story resonates still; every day around 3,000 messages are written on the 20-foot wall of Juliet’s house in Cappello Street. The label for Pasqua’s Romeo & Juliet wines features an eye-catching photo of that graffitied wall, shot by photographer Giò Martorana, with the PassioneSentimento wine name superimposed.

[PHOTO: Eugeniu Frimu ~ Daylight view to Venetian Lagoon and parked boats. People walking on sidewalk near colorful historic architecture buildings. Murano Island, Venice, Italy]

The Veneto Region, from Italia, the national agency of tourism: Veneto :

Situated in Italy’s northeast, Veneto extends from the Dolomites to the Adriatic Sea, by way of an expansive range of hills and a valley furrowed by rivers, canals, and the Po River Delta.

The typical scenery of Veneto’s coast is the Venetian lagoon, and, right on this very lagoon stands perhaps the most unique city in the entire world – Venice, visited by millions of tourists every year.


  1. HEART ~ THE WINERY: info is coming from the company’s own statements.
    1. I can’t make up their history
    2. Nor am I going to trying
  3. SOUL ~ SAMPLE ~ Jo Diaz Musings



Pasqua Vigneti e Cantine is an historic winery that produces high quality Veneto and Italian wines and one of the main players in the Italian and international wine market. A family passion. A century long history. The history of Pasqua Vigneti e Cantine begins in 1925, when the first generation of the Pasqua brothers came to Verona and established a new business devoted to the trade of wines from their homeland, Apulia. From wine trade and retail, they decided to become a real winery. In a few years, with the acquisition of new vineyards in the Verona area, the company progressively gained importance and visibility.

During the 60s, the second generation of the family entered the business, bringing about an opening to export and an orientation toward quality. The constitution of Cecilia Beretta in the 80s, the agricultural estate and innovative research centre for vines, grafting techniques and vineyards, is the symbol of the family’s constant quest for excellence.

When the third generation, composed by Riccardo, Alessandro, Cecilia and Giovanni, started to lead the company, the international market orientation boosted to a peak in 2009, with the foundation of Pasqua Usa LLC in New York. The company now sells wines in 50 countries worldwide.

DRYING GRAPES [PHOTO: Jo Diaz of Giovanni Maria-Farini, at Castello di Meleto]


The Veneto is synonymous with Amarone and its appassimento production technique. The drying of grapes to concentrate flavors and aromas, appassimento is an expensive process. To begin with, grapes must be hand-harvested, to avoid damage to the skins, and to enable a selection of bunches in which fruit is spaced more widely apart. Consider, too, that by the end of the 3-months drying process, the fruit will have lost up to 60 percent in volume; thus, many more grapes are needed to make Amarone than is the case for a “standard” red wine. The Pasqua family, however, had the startling idea of making a less expensive white and a red wine, in which grapes lose “only” 15-30 percent volume. Launched in 2014, close on 170,000 cases of Romeo & Juliet PassioneSentimento (Passion-Feeling) were sold in 2017 alone, with the U.S. representing about one-third of the total. Not bad in less than five years!


The preparations, mentioned above, are not lost on this wine.

Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Bianco 2017 ~ Believed to be the only dry (operative word, dry) white wine created by using the appassimento process. This wine is created with the Garganega, native variety. It was harvested by hand, early in the season: lower brix = lower alcohol. The grapes are first dried, for about two weeks. This concentrates aromas and flavors. Then the grapes are crushed, and allowed to macerate and for 12 hours. This process allows even more depth of flavors and structure, creating a very deliciously complex, white wine. One, one final touch… A segment of this wine is then ages in French oak for a few month. Then, the final blend is bottled, and you WANT to know what this one tastes like, if you have an adventurous palate. 

As beguiling as Juliette ever was, this wine’s bouquet reminds me of Mediterranean climate peaches and apricots, also delivering extraordinary citrus aromas, like Meyer lemons. Flavors are refreshing, well balanced and lingering, as the story of Romeo and Juliette still lingers a out best known love story.

Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Rosso 2016 ~ This is also a dry red wine, from the Veneto region, which is neither an Amarone, nor a Valpolicella. This really represents going against the grain of the past, in terms of the grape varieties used during the appassimento process. While Romeo and Juliet experienced forbidden love, not being allowed to love each due to their rival families, this Passione Sentimento Rosso has a happy ending… The yin of the yang… The Romeo and Juliet Full Circle

Making this wine begins with whole berries, which are put into small crates. These crates then go into a drying shed, from four to six weeks. The grapes go through dehydration. Extracted fruit has highly concentrated flavors, as you can imagine. More sugar, the fruit flavors are dense, and terroir – that all-encompassing “from right here” – flavors are exaggerated. then, this wine has three months of aging.

This blend is intriguing. It’s Merlot (40 percent), Corvina (30 percent), and Croatina (30 percent). It’s not the Merlot that shakes me to the core… Merlot was my first Vitis vinifera tasted, beyond Manischewitz and then Mateus. It was about the Corvina and Croatina. Getting to taste native wine grape varieties is an adventure… An adventure that’s almost enticingly forbidden, and yet there it is. It’s thrilling to taste outside of the ordinary. And this Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Rosso exactly fits the bill. It’s a potpourri of exotic spices, with rich, red stone fruit flavors, replicating Shakespeare’s intensity.

  • The Last Corvina I had was a 2008 Punta Crena Colline Savonesi IGT Cruvin, in 2010.
  • It was my first time tasting Croatina, in this blend.

This is a very distinctive innovation in flavors. Dare to fall in love, again. It will have a delicious finish.

The End




Agricuture,Argentina,Domaine Bousquet Sauvignon Blanc,Gaia Domaine Bousquet Tupungato Red Blend,Mendoza,Organic,Sauvignon Blanc,Terroir,Wine,Wine Culture,Wine Samples,Wine tasting,Wine Travel,Winemaking,Winery,Wines,Women in Wine

How A Small Company Finds Intriguing and Unique In-Roads to Success

Anne Bousquet – Al Ameri, CEO, Partner


Meeting Anne Bousquet – Al Ameri, of Domaine Bousquet, Mendoza Argentina, at Barn Diva in Healdsburg, brought not only the distance of the two hemispheres closer together, but it also connected many more fascinating dots during the meeting, of how to succeed against all odds.

Anne Bousquet arrived at Barn Diva with friendly enthusiasm, to tell me about her family winery’s success, in the western region of Tupungato, Argentina. I not only learned about that, but I also learned that there’s still hope for a small producer, somewhere in the world, to also take the world by storm.

Traveling in Northern California, Anne was accompanied by Kate Morgan-Corcoran of Creative Palate Communications, an East Coast full-service, public relations and marketing communications agency. Anne also brought her family’s wines to enjoy, with differing foods and conversations, at Barn Diva.


Domaine Bousquet

In the early 1990’s, Anne’s father Jean Bousquet visited Tupungato, Argentina. Four generations of winemaker history, Jean arrived from Carcassonne, located in southern France. He was searching for exceptional terroir, in order to start a new winery. By 1997, a parcel of land was purchased and the family relocated from France to the foothills of the Andes, when Jean had sold his southern France vineyard and winery property. The land he purchased in Tupungato, was completely developed, with no wineries anywhere to be seen. This is land in the Uco Valley. [For perspective, Tupungato is an hour south of Mendoza City.]

Anne talked about everyone saying to her father, including his real estate agent, “That land! Nobody wants to be in that land. Look! Nobody is growing grapes there. It’s empty, barren land.” But, her father knew what he wanted to do, if only through intuition.

It was like… “He came, he saw, he conquered.”

From 1990 to 2019: Today, the read on Tupungato terroir, according to wine-searcher:

Tupungato is the northernmost sub-region of the Uco Valley in Mendoza. The region lies at the foot of the Mt Tupungato volcano, which, at 21,555 ft (6570m) high, is one of the highest peaks in Argentina. The altitude of the vineyards brings clarity of light, water and air and moderates the high temperatures associated with lower latitudes. Full-bodied red wines made from Malbec and crisp, elegant whites made from Chardonnay are specialties of the terroir here.

Jean Bousquet achieved one dream after the other, right up to and including being ready to begin wine sales. Simultaneously, Anne’s educational experiences were preparing her to help grow her family’s Domaine Bousquet. When he was ready, to move to that next step, Anne Bousquet really became pivotal, whether or not she saw it coming.

Labid Al Ameri

As a young woman, Anne went to the University of Toulouse, where she earned a BA in Economics. She continued on to earn a Master’s Degree in Applied Economics. This was at St. Cloud State University, in Minnesota. She then moved to Boston, where she met her future husband Labid Al Ameri. Their relationship flourished, taking them to Brussels for work.

When they traveled together to Tupungato, Argentina, they saw the work ahead of them… How to sell Jean Bousquet’s wine, now that it was ready. There’s an intriguing components between Anne having studied Applied Economics, and Libid being an international equities trader, at the time. This has created a dynamic powerhouse, that has a brilliant approach their business acumen… It’s so non-traditionally that it’s not anywhere near the box. This has allowed them to successfully exploded their growth potential. Today wine sales are booming, and the wines are all so delicious.

Guillaume Bousquet

Anne Bousquet’s brother Guillaume Bousquet is also active in the family. From his biography:

Guillaume is responsible for the European market of Domaine Bousquet. Born and raised in a family vineyard, Guillaume holds a Masters in Marketing from IEA, University of Toulouse, France. He assists in the development of the annual marketing plan for the winery. After two years of managing sales in Europe, he traveled to the USA for three years, to establish a sales and marketing plan. In 2015, he returned to France to manage the European market.


Anne also brought a French/Spanish sensory flavor to her wines. As her story unfolded, Ann talked easily about her father, who – against everyone’s wishes – when to Argentina and chose new terroir to begin anew. No one understood what he was wanting to do, though. People couldn’t believe where he was willing relocate his family. And yet, a dream shift is a dream come true… Legacy with terroir… The Bousquet Family



Today, the wines decry their soul: high desert, back drop of the dramatic, white-snowcapped Andes, lining the base at the foot of the mountains… Seemingly rugged, but more determined. Each of the following wines were sensational. Perfectly balanced, true to character, with a bit of vibrancy and enjoyability that make me crave still more. Fortunate to take the six samples home; my husband and I enjoyed them with many more meals for a few days. I highly recommend each of their wines… So much integrity, purpose, and connection to their terroir. And, their value exceeds your wildest expectations.

  • Domaine Bousquet Sparkling Pinot Noir * Chardonnay Brut Rose, organic grapes, Mendoza Argentina Non-Vintage
  • Domaine Bousquet Reserve Malbec 2017, organic grapes, Tupungato UCO Valley, Mendoza Argentina
  • Domaine Bousquet Sauvignon Blanc 2018
  • Gaia Domaine Bousquet Tupungato Red Blend 2018
  • Domaine Bousquet Sparkling Chardonnay / Pinot Noir
  • AMERI Domaine Bousquet Tupungato

PHOTO by logia: Medieval walls of the castle of Carcassonne, Languedoc-Roussillon, France, just for regional reference of Jean Bousquet’s origin.


JEAN BOUSQUET: My Bousquet family comes from Carcassonne, a city of in the South of France. We have four generations of winemaking history. Our passion is to produce wines of superior quality and this is what lead us to Argentina to begin a new chapter in the tradition of our wine making.



Award,Wine,Wine Appreciation,Wine Awards,Wine Business,Wine Business Innovation,Wine Culture,Wine Making,Wine Marketing,Winemaker,Winemaking,Winery,Wines

LuxeSF has announced it’s Rising Wine Star Award recipients

LuxeSF, formerly the Luxury Marketing Council of San Francisco, has announced its Rising Wine Stars Award recipients for 2019. The ceremony was held during their Seventh Annual Wineries Boot Camp, at the Lincoln Theater in Yountville. This was in the presence of over 300 wine industry marketing, sales and hospitality influentials, representing more than 100 Napa and Sonoma wineries and wine-related organizations.

LuxeSF believes that performance and success-in-the-making should be recognized. That’s why the Rising Wine Stars awards now in their third year, have been established—to identify and acknowledge the up-and-coming industry performers who epitomize the new generation changing the face of the wine industry in California, specifically Napa and Sonoma.

[Images of event from LuxeSF]

There was no fee or other monetary consideration required for nomination, and the selection process was agnostic with respect to age, length of service, size of winery or organization represented. The selection criteria remained flexible to the extent that the awardees were chosen based on their current reputation and level of success, but equally so for the potential that they exhibit as future industry leaders and innovators.

A 13-person panel of impartial experts knowledgeable about the various sectors of the wine industry was assembled. These experts knew the inner workings of the business and were not the types to be easily swayed by gossip or headline. They made their selections from 97 candidates across six categories, and hours were spent in vigorous discussion, rigorous dissection and unvarnished assessment. In every selection, the majority vote prevailed.

[PHOTO, property of LuxeSF: Ron Rubin receiving his award from last year’s honoree Monica Stevens, of Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch, who also has received the Service to the Community award.]

The six awards that were bestowed were:
1. Winery of the Year
2. Winemaker of the Year
3. Wine Marketer of the Year
4. Hospitality & Guest Relations
5. Service to the Community
6. Industry Innovation

“Winery of the Year”
Mike Davis, Davis Estates

Accepting the award: Mike Davis, Co-proprietor Presenting the award: Last year’s honoree of this award, Ed Feuchuk, President, Tank Garage Winery

“Winemaker of the Year”
Julien Fayard

Presenting the Award…2018 Rising Star Winery of the Year honoree, Jason Chang, Proprietor, NINE SUNS

“Marketer of the Year”
John Truchard, JaM Cellars

Presenting the award: Paul Reulbach, Group Publisher, Modern Luxury

“Hospitality and Guest Relations”
Tanner Sneed, David Arthur Vineyards

Presenting the award: Heidi Rickerd-Rizzo, Vice President/Principal, Terra Firma Global Partners

“Community Service Award”
Ron Rubin, Ron Rubin Winery

Presenting the Award: Last year’s honoree, Monica Stevens, Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch

“Industry Innovation Award”
Joe Cirone, LibDib

Presenting the Award: the 2017 Rising Star Marketer of the Year, Adam Ivor, Co-Founder Gliding Eagle


Italy,Musings,Travel,Wine,Wine & Food,Wine tasting,Wine Travel,Wine Writer,You've Got to Be Kidding Me

The Most Embarrassing Side of Wine Travel… Musings

This was the point where I should have taken a bow… Hindsight is always 20/20 vision, right?

So, I’m a guest of Colonnara Viticultori in Cupramontana ~ In the Castelli di Jesi region of Le Marche. This day, we were having lunch at family Ristorante in a neighboring town. It was as authentic as it could possibly be. Did I have “American Tourist” written across my forehead in special only-seen-to-Italians ink?

Probably, when I arrived, and by the time I left, I definitely did…

Still, I felt like I belonged. I’ve had more than a few very unusual adventures in life. I can’t even tell you how many people have told me that I should be writing a book. (Not sure I have the discipline or desire, yet.) This one falls into my Most Embarrassing Moments chapter.

Our Cast of Characters

Everything imaginable was ordered by our hosts for us, all in Italian, at the restaurant… They don’t have a written menu. In Italian, we were told what the day’s dishes were. We had a choice of about three dishes for each course. Instead of knowing what was being requested, because everything was being ordered in Italian, with its own lyrical style with such sensual emotion (words like “handmade tagliatelli”), that’s what I was listening to.

While we waited, we also had a tasting of Colonnara’s regional wines. Then, antipasto arrived and everyone got right into food and wine pairings. Perfect matches, by the way.

By now, I was really craving a salad, and I think I was the only person doing so… (I’ve read if you order salad first in Italy, you’re labeled as a tourist. So, if I hadn’t been labeled yet, there it was…)

I hadn’t seen so many flashbacks of growing up of with a large family-style meal surrounding me … The rhythm and pace of it were intoxicating. The foods were amazing. We were all sharing communally.

Now, between my entree and dessert, I excused myself to go to the ladies room

This is where it gets real. I have to hand it to Italy, across the central part of this peninsula. Every single toilet flush (I can’t make this any more delicate) looks like this. At first, upon arrival i Italy at Castello di Meleto in Gaiole, I spent about five minutes looking for the flush. I thought this was just more art on the wall. Finally, I gave it a push, and much to my surprise it activated. I was so relieved.

So now, it’s days later. I know what it is, I know what to do. But, in this restaurant, I couldn’t find what I knew it should be. In fact, I couldn’t find any flush at all – except, I did see a chain hanging from the ceiling. I remembered my days when a chain was used for flushing, so I pulled it.

Much to my horror, I could hear an alarm going off in the restaurant. Oh, my, gawd… What had I done. I heard people rushing into the little room that had two stall doors: Signore e signori. Yup, I was in the Signore and I had to say so. Oh, my, gawd. This is not the glamour of travel. This is the American tourist making one more obvious mistake, and it was going to go public, quicker than I wanted.

Outside of the restroom door, leading into that area, there’s a light that goes off, along with the knowledge by the staff that it’s a cry for help, from pulling the chain. Yup, every local in the restaurant knows it’s either a grandmother has gone down or a tourist. (Did it help that I was both?) Bring in the paramedics, this ole gal didn’t know how to flush the toilet. Good baby Jesus, I was nailed.

So, my helpful signori couldn’t find the flush pad either. We looked and looked – this was evidently his first foray into the ladies’ room. Then, he moved the curtain to the right, and there it was, hiding under the curtain. Who would think to look behind a curtain for a flush? As an adult, have you ever had anyone help you flush your own toilet? Could it be any more embarrassing?

Why was it hidden in this wonderful restaurant? Because EVERYONE in this tiny town has been going to this restaurant for generations. Parents and grandparents have been teaching customs to their children for years. Bring in a tourist and it’s either going to be a real emergency, or – as in my case – it’s just another tourist.

So, when I had to exit my situation… And that door was opened to a waiting audience

That’s when I should have – instead of blushing to high heaven – just taken a bow. I know I would have had a standing ovation, I just know it.

Special thanks to Colonnara Viticultori‘s, , and Michael Yurch of Bluest Sky Group, for all of my fabulous adventures during my visit in Cupramontana. They, in no way, had anything to do with my own foibles.


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When It’s Traditional and It’s in Tuscany ~ Day 2

I was the guest of Castello di Meleto in Gaiole ~ In the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany. Hosted by Antonia Caserta (sales manager), their winemaker Matteo Menicacci, and their agronomist Giovanni Maria Farina. Antonia translated, and I was also in the company of Michael Yurch (Bluest Sky Group) and Michael Apstein from Apstein On Wine.

This was the beginning of an adventure that I like to think of The Rapunzel Phase. 

The word “monk” comes from the Greek word “monachos” meaning “single” or “solitary.” It means to practice asceticism by living alone or with any number of other monks. Dedicating one’s life to serving others, or voluntarily choosing to leave mainstream society to live life in prayer and contemplation. In Greek the word can apply to women, but in modern English it is for men, as the word “nun” would be used for female monks.

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz, my bedroom where Benedictine Monks once lived. I doubt that the furnishings were anything like this; however I felt their spirit spirits still connected.]

Off to lunch I went… I’m sharing the menu with you, perhaps for curiosity, or perhaps as inspiration.

The following is their Tuscan Menu ~ Castello di Meleto

Surrounded by Italian history and elegance, originally a Benedictine monastery, now a winery and hospitality center straordinario, this was my time to learn about this slice of life.


Lunch Wednesday, October 10

I’m remiss that I didn’t get a photo of the Sformato di verdure, listed as the first course. My entire surroundings were so dazzlingly charming, it truly was like being in a fairy tale. It was a social gathering at first, and we were there to taste wine, with antipasti ~ Meet and greet… I had to finally pull myself back, to put what I was seeing and beginning to taste into photos and words. That was just as the second course was arriving. I was totally one with the castle for a while. I just lost track of everything, except for what I was seeing; a super Zen moment.

Sformato di verdure – (Vegetable quiche), paired with BORGAIO IGT TOSCANA ROSATO 2017.

This Rosato is so invitingly aromatic and floral, reminding me of orange blossom in spring time. The flavors are deliciously refreshing.  The wine is only 12.5 percent alcohol, a perfect food accompaniment, especially with cheese dishes.

From Castello di Meleto ~ Vinification: Grapes are handpicked and placed in small crates in order to reduce skin breakage. After being gently destemmed and softly crushed, the must is chilled and left on the skins for a few hours. After pressing, a part of the must is cold-clarified and fermented in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature of maximum 17°C [62.6°F].


Penne pomodorini e pesto (Penne pasta with pesto and cherry tomatoes), paired with BORGAIO IGT TOSCANA ROSSO 2017.

This BORGAIO IGT TOSCANA ROSSO was Tuscany. This was what I’ve dreamed about, including an actual Italian dream. I understood every word. Did I mention I don’t speak a word of Italian? I do know how to taste it though. Slow and easy.

A garnet color; I remember a bit of light shining through and thinking, “this is going to be so tasty.” Yeah, it was all that and more. Rich, juicy, and expressive Chianti grapes, from this stressed out terroir.  I was going to see the vineyard later, and I knew I was going to be liking all of this, as much as you would.

From Castello di Meleto ~ Vinification: Grapes are harvested by hand and machine and destemmed and gently crushed before undergoing alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature of 25/28°C for a period of 15 to 20 days. After racking, the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation in cement tanks.

Arista con pecorino e salvia (Pork loin with pecorino and sage, with Patate al sesamo  and oven roasted sesame seed potatoes), paired with Meleto Chianti Classico DOCG 2016.

Here came the big boy, showing its Italian muscle and flare, like a sophisticated Italian man wearing a grand scarf.  They wear them so well, really, like this Reserve Chianti. It had flare, it had style, and it had perfect body, pairing really well with the pecorino and pork combination. The fruit flavors of the opulent Sangiovese grapes just blended with the pork dish. By now, the crisp potatoes were also becoming a favorite. I hadn’t thought of adding sesame seeds! It was all very much like comfort food, taken up a notch.

From Castello di Meleto ~ Vinification: Grapes are harvested by hand and machine and destemmed and gently crushed before undergoing alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature of 25/28°C for a period of 15 to 20 days. After racking, the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation in cement tanks.This wine is 100 percent Sangiovese, and very characteristic for Tuscany’s red wine backbone. The Meleto Chianti Classico is a very smooth and savory wine. Full bodied and rich, yet the softer tannins makes it wonderful to enjoy (alone of with food). Aging: 15

To finish our meal, and be ready for the afternoon festivities…

Cantucci al Vin Santo (Biscotti), paired with an in-house spirit. By the end of this meal. we were offered grappa, and we all just looked at each other and had a great laugh; not intended to insult our hosts. I was more of, we are all so satisfied, were would we find the room of it?

I did let down my hair on this one… Who wouldn’t?