Book Sample,Books,Wine,Wine Book,Wine Business,Wine Writer

“What Varietal is That,” A Beginners Guide to the Most Important Grape Varieties

What Varietal is That? A Beginners Guide to the Most Important Grape Varieties, written by Darby Higgs, is a great little reference book… something you take with you on trips into wine land places, to keep check of seeing the grape leaves, clusters, and vines, while reading about them and taking notes right then and there. If you still love books, like I do, and you have your own wine library, this book is great to have for any beginners’ adventures, for taking more notes.

Let me begin with this, because I’m also still a stickler for when I write “variety” and “varietal.” I’m telling you this because the following came up, on one of my pages, when someone immediately took issue with the title having “What Varietal,” versus “What Variety”? Not everyone is a grammar dictator like I am in my own writing, and obviously, this man who questioned the proper English is too. I’ve written about it at length, for instance, “Going down in history as a Variety versus Varietal old fart,” was my last declaration. I do realize that not everyone cares about this as much as I do, and Darby Higgs takes it on straight away.

“What is a Wine Variety?” … Firstly, let’s deal with the question of language. Are we talking about variety or varieties? Those who take a conservative approach to language argue that the word ‘varietal’ is an adjective, and it is incorrect to use it as a noun. However, in common usage, people very often use it as a noun when they discuss wines. I take the approach that language is fluid rather than fixed. So I tend to use the words ‘variety’ or ‘varieties, but I don’t get too hung up on the terminology.” p.5

Conservative English is for those who also have a Gregg Reference Manual and use it. It’s called Business Writing 101. I’m over trying to get others to join this movement. So, let’s just let that go, and move on.

A Beginners Guide to the Most Important Grape Varieties

The subtitle is very provocative for me, A Beginners Guide to the Most Important Grape Varieties. Why? Because for the last 18 years I’ve been banging the Petite Sirah drum, sometimes very fast and furiously, and I’ve sometimes replaced my drum sticks with cymbal brushes. But, the drumming hasn’t stopped. This is how Darby Higgs and I met. He wrote something that caught my eye about Petite, so I just emailed him with more information. (It’s a habit of mine.) He hadn’t finished his book yet, so he actually did add “In California, a group of [winemakers] promote the variety via an organization and website named PS I Love You.” And, he goes on to write a page about Petite Sirah, under its French name of Durif, which originated in the Rhone region of France. (That’s a long story I’m not going to tell here, just have used it for reference for what really caught my attention.

As Petite Sirah continues its growth – right into a book that announces: Descriptions of the most important 46 red wine varieties, here is Petite Sirah. Just about 20 years ago, practically no one even remembered the grape that took us through Prohibition as Hearty Burgundy, with Napa planted to 60 percent of it in the 60s into the early 70s.

What Varietal is That? ~ The book and why beginners will enjoy it

Lots of basics here, grape breeding and production, clones and varieties, and critical selection of grape varieties can make or break with what a grape grower is trying to achieve. Why do those varieties matter and what are their styles? Answered within…

Then, Darby Higgs goes into his 40 white wine variety descriptions and his 46 red wine choices. In this text is where you can be standing in a vineyard, and begin your wine education trajectory, with your handy dandy wine guide for “What Varietal is That?” and make forward gains.

From Amazon review: Readers of this book will find descriptions of the most important 46 red wine and 39 white wine varieties globally. Each entry is devoted to a particular variety and it includes a pronunciation guide, a short lexicon of the flavours and aromas of the variety, a list of similar varieties, details of the origin and global importance of the variety, an outline of the most important styles of wine made. Brief food pairing suggestions are given to underline the styles of wines commonly made from the variety. Additional material in this book includes explainers to help understand the difference between variety and styles of wine and why grape varieties are important for viticulturalists, winemakers, and winelovers. An appendix provides a brief guide to the major wine varieties used in the world’s major wine countries and regions.

Starting out? I do recommend this book… Go for it! The book just might be your new best friend in wine.



Books,Wine,Wine Book

Firing Blancs by Peter Stafford-Bow, You Won’t Believe Were It Goes

Where does one begin, once the story ends? After Corkscrew and Brut Force, I wondered where it would go next. The answer is Firing Blancs.

Other wine novels by Peter Stafford-Bow are Corkscrew and Brut Force, which are based in the United Kingdom. Firing Blancs, on the other hand, is based on the other side of the hemisphere, in South Africa. If you’ve read Peter’s two other novels, but not read Firing Blancs yet, this one is a paradigm shift and as gritty as it can possibly get.

I wrote this review this morning, about 1:00 a.m. I was so inspired to write it, I couldn’t sleep; so, I quietly found a place to write without disturbing the household. I knew if I waited until morning, many of the thoughts rambling around in my brain at the time would just flash away. I took to pen. While writing I had the side thought, “I’m not going to change one thing in the morning. The mindboggling thought process that poured out is a reflection of the incredulity of what happens and how it happened. If I change it, it just won’t be the same.”

[PHOTO CREDIT: Julie Green, Kensal Green’s wife.]

 Firing Blancs by Peter Stafford-Bow

Always, the book’s outrageous covers are revealed within the body of the book. This one is so outrageous, but this is might just be my white privilege talking. People do do the darndest things… Something very primal is an understatement for Peter Staford-Bow’s latest novel Firing Blancs. A (disgusting) rite-of-passage opens up a whirlpool of adventures, sucking our naughty hero Felix Hart into a cultural vortex of subprimal essence. As a result of his wine sales and marketing job, Felix Hart is transported into a world of South African, female dominance. In many ways, it’s so dark with raw ethnicity and the sense of being on the other side of the coin. To be the only one who is on the outside looking in is very curious and cool at the same time for Felix.

Felix Hart, in this novel, is the head of wine at Gatesave Supermarketing in the UK. Early on he accidentally chokes his CEO to death during a board presentation. Next, he is sent to South Africa to subdue bad publicity, a novel idea evolves.

Firing Blancs did not disappoint. Having binoculars into future events, Stafford-Bow has written this one ahead of its time – which is now.

I now know why he was so antsy to get this story into my hands, as evidenced by receiving two copies. The first one wasn’t coming fast enough for him.

Peter began a “what if” and ended up with a “what the heck just happened,” with all of today’s buzzwords, like white privilege, cultural diversity, and Black Lives Matter. Coincidently, his book was released just ahead of when the Black Lives Matter movement hit the fan.

There’s also another sub-story going on. The irony of how Felix Hart in South Africa creates a non-profit, as a philanthropic movement. This was to have his wine merchant company look good, for bringing a South African brand into its portfolio. Little woven intricacies carry forward into outrageous happenings, intrigue, and blackmail.

Peter Stafford-Bow had me right to the end, per usual. This is a must-read for anyone having already read his two other novels (Corkscrew and Brut Force). It won’t completely shock you, while it will still delight.

If this is your first go-around, hang onto your hat so it doesn’t fly right off your head mid-stream. You’ll need something to protect you all the way through this mishap adventure.

Final thought… the irony of it all brilliantly goes back to the first profession ever in rebuilding a new Black Lives Matter in Africa; and it’s so playfully wicked, due to the character Mama Bisha.

Peter Stafford-Bow

British author Kensal Green (pseudonym Peter Stafford-Bow) is the author of three books: Corkscrew, Brut Force, and now Firing Blancs. With this third novel, he has revealed himself. His short bio ~ …was born into a drinking family in the north of England in the mid-1970s. A precocious, self-taught imbibe, he dropped out of university to pursue a career in alcohol. After man=aging several downmarket London wine merchants, he became a supermarket buyer, a role which kindled his life-long love of food, other people’s hospitality, and a general adding about.  After periods of living in East Asia and South Africa, Stafford-Bow returned to the UK to pursue a literary career.  (I suspect he has another book coming, based in Asia. He writes what he knows.)

Thank you to Wine Business for listing this blog for the day.



Wine,Wine Book,Wine Business,Wine Magazine,Wine Writer,Women in Wine

Kathleen Willcox – A Wine Writer’s Name to Remember, Read, and Enjoy

It’s been a while since I’ve shared information about other wine writers. There certainly has been a cadre of new people, I just haven’t been as aggressive as I was when I first started my blog, spending weekends and then scheduling for the week, as I did, starting in 2005. It was pre small and local grandkids is my only (and great) excuse. Now, the kids are more self-sufficient, and I find myself gardening for their benefit, so I’m still a bit jammed. That said, there are a few new writers that I really want to get onto my resource page for wine writers. Kathleen Willcox is where I want to begin; because she’s a superstar that I’ve had a lot of contact with lately, and she’s on my mind as someone that is so delightful, articulate, and thorough as a writer.

Examples of her background as an author and journalist.

Not only is Kathleen Willcox a name to remember, but she’s also definitely someone worth getting to read and know.

I asked her if she would work with me on this, sending her questions. As you read her profile, may you be tempted to also get to know her better. You’ll see why I know she’s simply delightful.

[QUESTION] Tell me something about you that no one in the wine world knows.

[KATHLEEN] Personally – I am obsessed with my book club. Not for the books (I often opt to read different books than the ones we pick), but for the community. I have 7-year-old twins, and the rest of the club is also comprised of working moms, some of whom I know better than others. We have our first (socially distant) meeting since the pandemic started this week, but I talk to them daily on our chat group where we share war stories, advice, recipes, tears and laughter. As I get older, friendship has become more, not less, important to me.

Professionally – I don’t have any formal wine training, and I constantly grapple with the pros and cons of pursuing it. I read about wine and taste wine regularly, and I am constantly participating in informal seminars, but I wonder if it’s systematic enough. On the other hand, I don’t want to have a particular paradigm drilled into me.

[Q] What inspired you to write about wine?

[K] Wine is liquid art. It’s a cultural, historical, aesthetic and sensory relic. Opening a bottle can transport you across time and space; delve into the details, and you’ll discover the maker’s—or sometimes an entire region or community’s— philosophy on life, their obsessions, their desires, their dreams. The real mystery is, why don’t more people want to write about wine?

[Q] What is your primary interest with wine?

[K] I love using wine to tell bigger stories about what is happening in agriculture, the environment, the economy, the Zeitgeist.

[Q] You conduct a lot of interviews; you must love meeting people. (Discuss)

[K] Yes and no. I’m an extroverted introvert. I love learning about people, places and ideas, and I love hearing how someone’s idealized vision gets translated down into practicalities, but after a long day and night on the road, or multiple phone and zoom interviews, I find that I need quiet time. I can’t be creative and thoughtful unless I have time to think about and process everything I learned, and that ideally happens solo, or on quiet walks with my family in the Great Outdoors. I’m thankful to have a family that I can be alone-together with, if that makes sense.

[Q] You’re a major influencer on Instagram. What has that journey been like?

[K] It has been fascinating. So many fellow writers who I have become friends with gave me advice on sharing pictures, and I’ve gotten to know so many people on Instagram, and then had the pleasure of meeting them in person. There is definitely a side to the IG Wine world that is competitive and perhaps not as kind or even civil as I’d like, but the vast majority of fellow writers and influencers are truly wonderful, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know them. The pandemic has allowed me more time with my family, and I’ve discovered that my daughter Emily has an excellent eye. She often has great ideas for settings and props, and she just makes the whole process of photographing more fun. Then when it’s time to taste, my son Miles has a great nose. He doesn’t sip, but he is great at drawing my attention to aromas. Sometimes I get tired of posting, and when it begins to feel like a job, I give it a rest.

[Q] What wine region would you like to return to, and why?

[K] Tuscany. There is so much natural beauty there, and I love the lifestyle, the sense of community, the deep roots in the land. And the food!

[Q] As an independent writer, without the safety net of a salary, what’s your biggest challenge?

[K] Not knowing how much income I have; it’s hard to plan ahead when you don’t know how much I’ll be making this year. Family vacations, camps, enrichment opportunities for the kids are often up in the air.

[Q] Besides wine, what is another passion?

[K] Hiking! I had no idea how much I loved the Great Outdoors until the pandemic gave me the opportunity walk around a lot outside or … just sit at home.

[Q] What does a typical look like for you?

[K] I get up around 6:15 and get my day planned out. Then by 6:45 I’m usually outside walking or running or downstairs on the treadmill. I try to walk or run every day. Then I make my kids breakfast, discuss the day ahead with them, get them organized and go to my home office to work. My kids are independent and as long as they have projects and activities, they run on autopilot, together. Of course, they pop in, and throughout the day we take mini-breaks to read books together, play a game or take a walk.

[Q] What are your greatest strengths?

[K] I work really, really hard at work, family, friendship, and fun. And I enjoy it.


Thank you to Wine Industry Insight for listing this blog for the day.



Editorial,Wine,Wine Country

How many of you are left in wine country as non-believers in the power of masks?

EDITORIAL: How many of you are left in wine country as non-believers in the power of masks?

What my friend just said from Italy, because Italy’s numbers are WAY down I wanted to know. And, if all goes well, I’m scheduled for a wine trip to Venice, Piedmont, and Spain in November:

…we were the first western country to seriously publish and declare data about covid and fight seriously against it. We were literally closed like in jails for more than 2 months of lockdown and a lot of medical and social measures were taken on it. Now I think it is really the time for us to breathe and come out of the problem. A lot of measures are still on like masks in closed locations or social distancing etc. But at the same time, there is a lot of discussion on “how much ” the virus is still alive. More and more doctors are declaring that for many reasons here the disease is under control and I am of that opinion since I believe that there is no “zero virus” world, but it is the effective way you can react (public health, medicines, etc) and now we can do it.

Moreover many regions in Italy really had few cases and the ability to stuck it immediately. Anyway, the present situation just to give a comparison with your country is that this week we have around 200 people per day that got the disease and around 15 loss per day covid related. Compared to USA population is like if you had 1400 disease per day and a 100loss. If you think of your actual data about covid these days 65000 and around a thousand loss you have clearly in mind how much the situation in your country is not under control and here it is. But I repeat we were jailed in our houses for months and the economic disaster here as no previous comparison in history. Anyway sea, sun, nature powers up your antibodies so I am of the opinion that more we stay out, swim, run, bike the more we keep healthy.”

I haven’t had writers’ block, unless you call being tired of typing more words as some kind of block. I’ve been writing this thing since 2005, and how many ways can anyone explain Chardonnay? With my total verbiage, I’d say enough for educational purposes, unless I’m advocating for a brand, I’ve written 10 books. I put a lot of recent writing on hold, so I could find my words.

I almost need to be shocked into something new. Covid in wine country certainly has done that. I’m on edge for… will that trip to Venice, Piedmont, and Spain in November be a-oaky?

I love that Wine Business’ Cyril Penn described me in the early blogging days as a muse. I’m so not traditional, and he’s known me since I began my wine career. That’s about as true as anyone could claim. Other’s say I’m everywhere and nowhere; and, they’re right. Jack of all trades, master of none, equals my claim to fame; albeit as minuscule as it is, it’s still a bit of wine history.

So, here’s the deal – wear your masks, wine country… even if you’re just coming to it, not just living and working in it.

I could have written another 1,500 words, but a picture is worth 1,000, so I expedited it.

Thank you to Wine Business for listing this blog for the day.



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

Addressing Racism in Wine ~ From a Unique Perspective

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

Wine Industry Racism Exist, of Course

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

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

Service Makes Life Worth Living

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

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


African American Vintners

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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


Early Story on Wine Blog

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



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

Winner of Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau Artist Revealed ~ Maeve Croghan

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

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

From Maeve’s Website:

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

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

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

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

Press Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, please contact Quintessential


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

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

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

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

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

Our family came from Maine to California:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

Wine Review: Lucas & Lewellen Wines are Santa Barbara Delicious

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


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

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

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

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

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

Product: Goodchild High 9 Pinot Noir

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


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

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

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

Suggested Price: $34.99 – 2016 Vintage

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

SAMPLE: Quintessential Wines


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





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

[Photo of Valérie Rousselle from Rendez Vous Magazine]

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Does he create that heavenly vintage? You decide.