Award,Diaz Communications Innovator of the Year Award,Folio Fine WIne Partners,Wine,Wine Awards,Wine Business,Wine Business Innovation,Wine Education,Wine Health,Wine Marketing,Wine Writer

Rebecca (Beck) Hopkins is Diaz Communications 2019 Innovator of the Year Award Recipient

During this year, I wanted to give our Diaz Communications Innovator of the Year Award to someone very deserving, which has now happened.

Before I could even announce it, though, a press release came out with Rebecca Hopkins’ name as being a finalist in another Innovator of the Year Award.  Beck, as she likes to call herself, is an executive with Folio Fine Wine Partners. So, for the time being, I just let it go… knowing I’d double back around at some point. The time is now, and was prompted by Beryl Ryan RN, of TapWithin, a healer. (Beryl Ryan’s story will be “live,” on this coming Wednesday… It’s a continuation of healthy living.)

[PHOTO: From A Balanced Glass website, Rebecca is on the left, Cathy Huyghe is on the right]

To date, our award has gone to those in the digital marketing fields. They’ve been really easy to spot, as innovators. As I’ve predicted all along, the marketing grid for acceptance of something as ingenious as they’ve launched, has been a very slow process. Most of us aren’t even in the “Keeping up with the Jones” stage, yet.

This innovation is off the digital marketing grid a bit more than it has been in the past, as it’s completely centered on the health and wellness, for those who work within the wine industry… All of us, from tasting room personnel, to those who are CEOs; and to those who are in adjunct professions, like mine… a freelance publicist.

Why Rebecca Hopkins was considered as the best of the best, for these complicated times… She (founder) and Cathy Huyghe, co-founder, writer, and a proprietor with Enolytics, (who has already been awarded the DC Innovator of the Year Award in 2016) have started a movement within the wine industry that’s so exciting, critical, and growing much faster than even I could imagine.

From A Balanced Glass, their credo:

Why A Balanced Glass?

We believe that every professional who works with, or around alcohol, deserves to have the knowledge, tools and resources to manage their personal wellness for long-term career success.

25+ years as a wine professional has taught me that working with wine can present physical and mental health challenges faced by few other professions.

A Balanced Glass (ABG) is a web forum dedicated to supporting the health and wellness for wine professionals around the world. Our focus is to provide guidance, access to networks and connections within beverage alcohol.

[PHOTO: Rebecca Hopkins]

Some have taught our children to take responsibility seriously… Now, they’ve taken those lessons and entered the wine business. They’re thinking about it very differently, too. When they go on the road, for instance, they avoid the after parties, the ‘ole “Code of the Road” BS (which freaked me out, when I heard about it). And, not having someone in the trade come to their rooms anymore to take away the left over wine (because these women can’t take it with them, flying, etc.). Then, only to have the guy arrive at the room to get the wine and begin to undress (that was funny, not funny).

Nope, not these emerging leaders. They’re planted in solid ground.

[PHOTO: Cathy Huyghe]

Still, the ground’s got a fault line, so they’re having empowerment conferences, to figure it all out. A large number of them are publicly chanting what we chanted privately years ago, engaging in yogic practices we did on our own, meditating quietly and wondering if they can keep notes for those fabulous epiphanies when they emerge, having children their own way ~ or not having them, and reemerging into the job market as soon as the last one’s in kindergarten. It’s great to watch them really working hard at that balance and begin to really bloom. This is why Rebecca Hopkins, of A Balanced Glass, epitomizes what Jose Diaz and I see as the best recipient for our 2019 Diaz Communications Innovator of the Year Award. She finds the time to self-nurture and also considers everyone else in the process.

She’s found her groove and we’ve found someone very worthy of recognition, Rebecca (Beck) Hopkins. Congratulations, Beck!



Charity,Event,Pinot Noir,Wine,Wine Culture,Wine tasting

Emily Martin Communications Announces its First Pinots & Plaid Event

Hoping to make this an annual event, Emily Martin has announces her first “Pinots & Plaid.” I know my tartan, do you? I also know a few things about Pinot, and I can combine that with a kilt any day of the week. I’m a happy Scottish camper, with DNA from the MacQuarrie Clan!

MacQuarrie Clan Motto: Turris Fortis Meus Mihi Deus (God is a strong tower to me).

MacQuarrie Clan History: A branch of Clan Alpin which anciently held sway over territories on the islands of Mull and Ulva. Hector MacQuarrie of Ulva was a supporter of Robert the Bruce, and fought for him at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

The Clan MacQuarrie became followers of the Lords of the Isles, and joined the Macleans in supporting the Royalist Cause during the Civil War, when the MacQuarrie Chief and his followers were killed fighting against Oliver Cromwell’s army at the Battle Inverkeithing in 1561. Tragically most of the family papers were destroyed in a fire in 1688 and, in 1777, Lachlan MacQuarrie of Ulva was obliged to sell Ulva for financial reasons. He subsequently joined the British Army at the age of 63, and served in the American War. He died at Glenforsa, on Mull, in 1818, at the age of 103.

Why The Event?

From Emily Martin: The event’s name pays homage to style. Recently, plaid has taken on a life of its own in the fall fashion lines, as seen last week during Paris Fashion week. With all the buzz about plaid, EME created a Pinterest board to help people dress for this extravaganza. A fun filled, fall fete replete with plaid and the best Pinot Noir in the Bay Area!

Premium Wine Experience Brings Wine Aficionados and Producers Under One Roof

October 26, 2019 at San Francisco’s Hibernia Bank Building

Pinots & Plaid will feature 25 leading Pinot Noir producers from Northern California, and invites wine lovers, foodies and luxury connoisseurs to enjoy fine wines paired with high end cuisine in the historic, stunningly restored, Hibernia Bank Building in San Francisco.  A VIP reception will offer one-on-one conversation with winemakers will occur from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. followed by a General Admission reception from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The VIP Lounge Sponsored by San Francisco Magazine & Roederer Estate will feature Sparkling Wine & Caviar and will be open from 3:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. VIP ticket holders and sponsors will enjoy Roederer Estate Sparkling Wines paired with caviar from The Caviar Company in an intimate setting.

Well-known, premium brands including Blue FarmBucher, CIRQ, Clarice Wine Co.Cobb WinesCopain Wines, Coursey Graves, Dutton Goldfield, Freeman Vineyard & Winery, Gary Farrell, Hyde Estate, Kutch, Maggy Hawk,  Peay Vineyards, Red Car, Reeve, Three Sticks, Williams Selyem and Works & Days will showcase rare wines not typically available to the public.

“We are excited to present the premier flavors of wine country in a luxury format in one of the most stunning new event spaces in San Francisco for Bay Area wine lovers, and luxury enthusiasts” said Martin.  “Guests will enjoy unmatched access to rare wines paired with delicious bites from Ryan Scott To Go, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese, B Patisserie, Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates and coffee from local sponsor, Lady Falcon Coffee Club. We also look forward to connecting winemakers with an exclusive audience of wine lovers, collectors, and luxury connoisseurs.”

Featuring rare and newly released wines from The Russian River Valley, Anderson Valley, Sonoma and Napa, the event is expected to draw an audience of approximately 500 guests from around the Bay Area.

A portion of ticket sales will benefit two San Francisco charities close to founder Emily Martin’s heart: Meals on Wheels SF and Mission Graduates. Tickets are available on Eventbrite at an early-bird rate of $150 VIP and $85 General Admission.  In October, the VIP ticket price will raise to $185 and General Admission to $115/person. For more information and the latest on participating wineries and ticket sales, please visit: https://www.emily-e-martin.com/pinotsandplaidtasting

EME extends a special thank you to its event sponsors:  Modern Luxury,  San Francisco Magazine, Roederer Estate, La Tavola Linens, Four Seasons San Francisco, Harlow & Grey, B Patisserie, Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates, Point Reyes Farmstead CheeseLady Falcon Coffee along with a special thank you to its event partners: Eat Drink SF, The Golden Gate Restaurant Association, Luxe SF, Six Degrees Society, Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers, AF&Co, Ground Floor Experiences and The Caviar Company for their support in sharing details about the event with their audiences.


Beaujolais,Book Sample,Books,Chardonnay,Education,France,French Wine,Gamay,Wine,Wine Exports,Wine tasting,Wine Travel

Beaujolais, A Shared Passion, by Georges Duboeuf


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

Then there are other wine books that are slowly savored, in sound bites. Remember the days of getting ready for a book report? Yeah, that’s what it is. Part of blogging time requires reading and reporting on wine books. Book page is the resource.


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

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

Just imagine it… Then think forward to the now “you,” next your children, and then their children. How far back can you trace yourself? I can trace back to 1623. A great grandfather was sent over from England. After landing, he walked to Shawmut (today’s Boston), to teach the King James version of the Bible (which he didn’t do in Shawmut), while King James was ruling.

[PHOTO: This is a purchased, stock photo… Not Georges Duboeuf]
As a single mother for a while, I know Georges Duboeuf’s early years were a bit challenging, but I don’t think that he sees it that way. Georges’ father passed away when he was only two years old. Against some odds, his childhood was still like any other young boy’s, riding the dusty Beaujolais roads of the country. For him, they were exciting and inspiring. He was (and still is) a mover, a shaker, and a get-it-done-maker. When his neighbors have been in need for anything, Georges was/is a finder of solutions.

Just imagine the challenges for a mother, with two young sons; Roger, a bit older, and younger Georges. Both had to grow up fast, with some of Georges’ childhood needing to be put on hold for a bit. (Today’s evidence of that is Hameau Duboeuf, all in the book.)

Think Peter Pan: Why Walt Disney created what the child in him craved, why Georges Duboeuf recreated a tiny village, like the one he would sneak off to build in an old shed, complete with miniatures. In Georges’ life, he has not only created relationships through his business life, but he has also satisfied his sense of pedagogy. And, that’s very remarkable.

Reading the book, seeing the life that was, is, and  now what is before him, it’s about his child-like, generous spirit within. He makes me happy that I have some French DNA, let’s just say.

SHAPE-SHIFTERS: I also now know that Georges Duboeuf is to Beaujolais what Robert Mondavi was to Napa Valley… Both shaped regions with the highest standards they possibly could, by influencing the flavors of that region, as each has gone forward.

All of his wine relationships were started through neighbors and forged friendships over the years. Just imagine… a community that hasn’t gown apart as each generation goes forward. This can be a little hard to understand, unless to take yourself back to the “Old World.” The French Wine business has never been part of the Industrial Revolution… viticulture just kept happening, year after year – staying close to the earth. Eating, sleeping, drinking, socializing, everything that America was before the industrial revolution… That’s what it’s been like in Beaujolais, since forever, and still continues with passeggiatas within all of these country families.

Closest friends are in the book, a who’s who of Beaujolais. Some of those vintners mentioned I just met, took their photos, enjoyed their hospitality, tasted their own wines. Americans farmers can understand a lot of this.

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

Our morning tasting with the Duboeuf family (Georges, Franck, and Aurélien) was coming to a close, but they has one more surprise for each of us: Georges Duboeuf’s autobiography. Now we’re talking. Now I would get to explore who this man really is, what was his life like as a child, and all that he’s done as an adult. (There’s a lot of reading/enjoying to do.)

It’s hard to articulate how much respect I have for this family. Give me the heart and soul. Let me get inside it, so I can tell the story that the subject has written, in their own layers. Fun to peel them back. This is an amazing success story. It’s such an honor to have been entertained by the Duboeuf family; so I, too, could educate about Beaujolais.

I am still very much a student, as only a few layers have been peeled back, still, it’s all very fascinating. (Loving history helps.)

Beaujolais, A Shared Passion was written with the complicity of Jean Orizet, and translated by Eileen Powis. All three have done a very fine job.

To Franck, to Answer Your Question: How Do I Love Thee, France? Let Me Count the Ways

Special thank you to Wine Business and Wine Industry Insight for publishing “Beaujolais, A Shared Passion, by Georges Duboeuf.”



Not only in American, but Ancient European Vineyards are Showing Signs of Global Warming

Yes, I could say this for any wine growing region in the world. I’m just going after the two most talked about, to get your attention. Now, down to business.

For anyone who changed the terminology from global warming to climate change, I believe the process slowed down more than a bit. Now, thanks to Greta Thunberg’s energy, her presence has reversed all of that; reminding us that big things do come in small packages, and we darn well better get busy, or we’re all in trouble. Birds and insects are disappearing. It’s only going to go up the food chain… right into all of us.

I wasn’t asking for a quote from the Champagne Bureau, USA. The following information just came to me in their usual updates. While it talks about a great 2019 harvest, global warming is still an impending issue, so read on.

From the Champagne Bureau

EPERNAY, France  – Champagne has experienced the effects of global warming, with an increase in average temperature of 1.1°C [33.98°F] across the past 30 years. This has so far proved an advantage for our wines, and the winegrowing year 2019 is no exception. Periods of frost in spring did destroy a proportion of buds, but the main factor was heatwave, especially in June and July, which caused scalding that burned up more than 10% of the potential harvest. This was a year when Champagne experienced its highest temperatures on record, with 42.9°C [109.22°F] recorded on 25 July.

With hot and sunny conditions in August and September, combined with cool nights on the run-up to the harvest, the vine displayed an exceptional ripening dynamic, producing musts with a good balance of acidity and sugar plus an aromatic concentration that promises well for the future cuvées.

I do understand this is going to give us some decidedly delicious Champagne wines, in the short term. Get ready for anything with the 2019 on the label. Not every label shows a vintage. Non vintages (NV) is not something that Champagne houses do every year. It’s reserved for particularly good years, so this seems to be “that one!”

Here’s the impending issue

Every Yin has a Yang, right? Having actually been in France on July 25th, this past summer of 2019, I felt that extreme heat and everyone there was talking about it. I’m also letting you know about the slow-down in productivity, in most other industries, because of that heat. This is a big picture glimpse we all need to think about.

It was hot! It was so hot, indeed, that it was difficult to breathe, to be actively engaged. But, I went to work for a reason, so work I did. My sponsor Les Vins Georges Duboeuf had set up the appointment. I’m thankful  they did, and it was well worth every second. This soiree into learning was the chance of a lifetime, I wouldn’t waste on anything.

About Warming: Conversation with Sylvain Flache


First Credentials ~ Vignerons des Pierres Dorées ~ Sylvan Flache, managing winemaker at this co-operative, in Oingt, Rhones-Alpes, France.

This co-op is comprised of 180 growers, which range in size from only 1.2 acres to 50 acres. The total number of acres is 1,236. This gives him a lot of land to manage, to evaluate, and begin t make positive, necessary changes. So, I asked about global warming and told me, “We’re beginning to think about trellising, you know, to add some shade to our vines. It’s also difficult with the rains come; hail comes, too. Sulfur can burn the leaves in this heat.”

I had to look this one up to see what he meant by sulfur burning leaves and why it’s a problem. From the National Pesticide Information Center:

Sulfur is burned or vaporized to control fungus, mites, or insects. When sulfur is burned, it turns into a gas called sulfur dioxide. The gas can mix with moisture on plants to form an acid that can damage plant leaves. Breathing the gas can be harmful to human health.
As you can imagine, when leaves are burned, that plant part can no longer participate in photosynthesis. No photosynthesis equals a plant no longer participating in absorption of oxygen during the day and no release of carbon dioxide in the evening. The plant is no longer in balance with nature.



PHOTO: Notice  how low to the ground this vine is… Training to grow taller is going to take time.



PHOTO: SONOMA FOG – Robert Corson


Back in Sonoma County

My own neighborhood, in Sonoma County, for example, fog allows for growing Pinot Noir. Other regions that quickly come to mind are Burgundy and the state of Oregon. Without the damp weather (for, in Sonoma’s case), the grapes are too delicate to take too much sun and heat.

Fast forward to this past week – right here in Sonoma County – one days was 113°F [45°C] and I shut down, because work was discretionary and my discretion was to not expend any unnecessary energy… That’s what happens, productivity slows and in some cases just stops. Now, people begin to actively thinking about the future… Is there a possible migration from a weather change that’s only going to get worse? This may just be what has prompted mass migrations over time, in times where recording it for posterity was impossible, but we’re now getting a bird’s eye view. We don’t really know how bad it’s going to be, nor how fast. What we do know is that there are no signs of it slowing down any time soon. Would we not want to err on the side of caution and take measures, like winegrowers, right now?

All grape growers will have to consider pulling out there vines to plant something else that can take the sun, like Petite Sirah. Still, it takes a few years for new vines to begin to produce fruit. What if there’s not enough time for this. What if the heat becomes so strong and water supplies also begin to diminish, so that getting the vines to “take,” under these conditions, won’t even take?

See, the thing is, we don’t know how much time we have. We also don’t know when we have a container of nitro glycerine in our hands, how much vibration will set it off. Why gamble, why not work toward solutions to slow it down? Conventional means since the 60s’s warnings about “global warming” recently and simply became “climate change,”so those who are still taking all they can for themselves and not thinking long term consequences about how much people are taking from the earth…

It takes Greta Thunberg, a 16-year old child, to sail cross the ocean in a zero-emission yacht, to finally catch media’s attention. (Bravo, Greta, well done!) My friend Fredric Koeppel wrote in Facebook, “‘A little child shall lead them,’ said Isaiah.” Someone brought up that Greta is NOT a child. My response:

As a senior citizen, the mother of three adult women, grandmother of nine children… this young girl is STILL a child, Bobby Jim. She’s only 16 years old. As a child, she just won the “Alternative Nobel Prize’ for inspiring climate change advocacy.” Her spirited youth is concerned about the world she’s going to live in. Yesterday, I was appalled when someone I know stated that she never had any kids, so she doesn’t have to worry about the world she’s leaving behind.”

Really, if we love earth, we all need to start worrying.

Special thank you to Wine Business and Wine Industry Insight for publishing “Not only in American, but Ancient European Vineyards are Showing Signs of Global Warming.”


Event,Sonoma,Sonoma County,Wine,Wine Auction,Wine Country

Sonoma County, there are so many reasons why I love you, but this one is the best

On December 29, 1992, I came up the 101 freeway (from SFO) with my husband, two of my three children (the oldest was in her final year at Bowdoin College, so she stayed put), three cats, and one dog. All that was left was for the moving truck to catch up, with all of our worldly possessions. As we came up the freeway. I looked right, to the Mayacamas Mountain range that separates Sonoma County and Napa Valley, and said to myself… Dear God, please don’t ever let me become jaded here.

I had just left over 40 years in Maine, and I was definitely a bit jaded. I had been working for WBLM-FM radio, as their PR rep, for the last 11 years. When Ann Wilson of Heart said to me, “It’s nice to see you again,” I smiled and thought, “I’ve been here too long.” I had become jaded. When one of the finest singers in the world, who can belt it out like it’s just autumn water rolling down a wet window in a rain storm says to you “it’s nice to see you again,” and you feel like it’s nothing, you know you’re jaded and that wasn’t good. It meant I had lost my own heart for being back stage with preeminent rock stars. Time to step back and evaluate.

This was now something I could do, entering California. No one knew me, and the “care” factor was a million to one against me. Humbling.

I had just entered Sonoma County, looking at a mountain range, which I would have to hurdle, and would only have had to drive four hours to get to, while in Maine… In California, it took a couple of year, because no one knew me, but I was determined to learn everything I could.

The most important lesson I’ve learned in Sonoma County is the environmental consciousness that exists here, the love of land above all else, even above wine!

It’s ALL about land’s Sustainability ~ The Best Part

Sustainability… Eco systems, making the right choices for the long run, having it be about quality of life – which is farming – the most noble of all professions. Down to the earth, keeping it sustainable for future generations. That’s the way futurists (farmers) think; and it makes me feel right at home, and lets me know we made the right decision for our own Wagons’ Ho!

Press Release arrives from my colleague Tia Butts: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Sonoma County Wine Auction Raises Record-Breaking $6.1 Million for Local Charities

The Sonoma County Vintners Foundation are excited to announce $6.1 million was raised at the 2019 Sonoma County Wine Auction, presented by Visa Signature®. Overall, more than $36 million has been raised to date to support charitable organizations focused on education, health and human services, the environment, and arts and culture in Sonoma County.

For the first time ever, live auction bidding wrapped up with the Fund-A-Need lot. The crowd was moved to tears following a short speech and beautiful rendition of the song “Make You Feel My Love” by 12-year-old Juliette, a former foster care child and Boys & Girls club member. In an outpouring of heartfelt generosity, $1,613,000 was pledged in direct donations ranging in amounts from $250,000 to $500. For this year’s Fund-A-Need initiative, guests were contributing to the construction of a new club in Roseland for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma – Marin that will offer academic enrichment programs, a STEM & Technology lab to inspire future career plans, a fully functioning community center for families to access key services, learning opportunities and gathering spaces.

“We are humbled and grateful to everyone who raised their paddles today,” said Christopher Jackson, 2019 Honorary Co-Chair. “It was incredibly emotional under the tent this year. My heart is full knowing that my passion for the Fund-A-Need paddle raise was met with unbelievable contributions. As a result, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma – Marin can make the dream of Roseland Club construction a reality providing a monumental impact on the community.”

“The Sonoma County Wine Auction is always distinguished by its authenticity and true sense of community. It’s this collaborative, welcoming community that drew my grandfather to put roots down here,” said Honorary Co-Chair Gina Gallo. “During the Auction weekend, Chris Jackson and I welcomed guests throughout all the different events, celebrating Sonoma County’s wonderful wine and culinary culture. It was a pleasure working together with Chris, joining two incredible, historic families of Sonoma County wine to showcase the best of what our vintners, growers and chefs can produce and how we can support our community.”

This charitable gathering was the culmination of a three-day affair that included an exclusive kickoff party on Thursday evening hosted with the Cline Family at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards and intimate Friday evening Vintner Dinners throughout Sonoma County and San Francisco.

Today, 400 auction guests were welcomed to the grounds of La Crema Estate at Saralee’s Vineyard, with sunny skies and exceptional Sonoma County wines. Local chefs, including James Beard award-winning Chef Honoree John Ash, prepared an array of decadent bites while guests mingled with non-profit beneficiary organizations.

After the reception, guests were paraded to the auction tent by the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts Mariachi Ensemble. Auctioneers John Curley, renowned auctioneer with more than $100 million dollars raised for charities around the country, and Humphrey Butler, 43-year veteran auctioneer recognized, as a leading international charity auctioneer, encouraged and enthused guests from around the country to bid generously and competitively under the tent. The 40 auction lots included revered wine collections, luxurious travel excursions, meals prepared by world-class chefs, exclusive experiences with industry and community pillars such as Winemaker Honoree Merry Edwards, Chef Honoree John Ash, Steve Young and Ronnie Lott, as well as rare behind-the-scenes experiences with major sports teams and world-famous musicians Lady Antebellum and Brad Paisley.

“I’m truly inspired and grateful to our Honorary Chairs, our wine community and all the auction participants who have demonstrated phenomenal generosity and support for our Foundation,” said Michael Haney, Sonoma County Vintners Foundation Executive Director. “We are thrilled to help support the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma – Marin as well as our many other Sonoma County nonprofit organizations with the funds raised.”

2019 Top Five Results in the Live Auction Included:

  1. Lot No. 13, “G.O.A.T. Sonoma County Bordeaux Varietals – Past, Present & Future” featuring a 378-bottle collection of Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals was the highest-selling individual lot in the auction’s history, fetching $520,000.
  2. Lot No. 14, “An Intimate Nashville Evening with Brad Paisley! (And a Trip You’ll Never Forget!)” featuring Lasseter Family Winery earned $320,000.
  3. Lot No. 21, “Lady Antebellum Private Wine Country Experience” featuring Stonestreet Winery and a private evening with the country music superstars at Wing & Barrel peaked at $300,000.
  4. Lot No. 27, “Wine & Dine Extravaganza with Gina Gallo & Jean-Charles Boisset” sold for $210,000.  The buy-in lot featured a custom dinner crafted by three-star Michelin Chef Kyle Connaughton of SingleThread at Gallo and Boisset’s Napa Valley home.
  5. Lot No. 18, “The Ultimate Texas Ranch Getaway” featuring Aperture Wines, Flexjet, JL Bar Ranch Resort & Spa brought $170,000.

For those interested in donating to the Sonoma County Vintners Foundation, contributions may be made by sending a check to Sonoma County Vintners Foundation, 400 Aviation Boulevard, Suite 500, Santa Rosa, CA 95403 or by visiting: http://bit.ly/SCWA19_MakeADonation

Exciting 2020 Announcements

The evening ended with the Sonoma County Vintners Foundation announcing the Honorary Chairs for the 2020 Sonoma County Wine Auction. Clay Mauritson of Mauritson Family Wines, Mark McWilliams of Arista Winery and Jake Bilbro of Limerick Lane Cellars will chair the 2020 auction weekend scheduled for September 17-19.

“As the President of the Board for Sonoma County Vintners Foundation I have had the privilege of seeing the remarkable grants that have been distributed throughout Sonoma County,” said Clay Mauritson of Mauritson Family Wines.  “It is unbelievable having all these generous individuals come together for another monumental Sonoma County Wine Auction. I am beyond motivated to work with my friends Mark McWilliams and Jake Bilbro to curate an unforgettable 2020 Sonoma County Wine Auction that continues to support our community.”



About Sonoma County Wine Auction

The Sonoma County Wine Auction brings the region’s most renowned winemakers and growers together with distinguished collectors and generous bidders for an opportunity to acquire some of Sonoma County’s top wines and bid on once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences. Named one of the nation’s top charitable auctions by Wine Spectator, the proceeds raised benefit local Sonoma County charitable organizations. Since its inception, the Sonoma County Wine Auction has raised over $36 million to help fund charitable organizations focusing on education, health and human services, the environment and arts and culture, and has supported more nonprofits than any other fundraising event in Sonoma County. Learn more at sonomacountywineauction.com.

About Sonoma County Vintners Foundation

The Sonoma County Vintners Foundation provides support to our local community through philanthropy and charitable giving. Fundraising efforts have a direct impact in the areas of education, health and human services, the environment and arts and culture. The signature fundraising event, Sonoma County Wine Auction has been recognized as one of Wine Spectator’s Top Charity Wine Auctions in the United States. Learn more at sonomawine.com/foundation.


Award,Sonoma,Sonoma County,Wine,Wine Country,Wine Magazine,Winery

Sonoma County has officially been named 2019 Wine Region of the Year by Wine Enthusiast

Sonoma County has officially been named 2019 Wine Region of the Year by Wine Enthusiast for the magazine’s 20th annual Wine Star Awards.

So, what does that mean to the region? Everything… Everything they’ve ever done, by everybody, in every way. The western world is at least trying to catch up with eastern philosophies as regards viticulture, organics, and biodynamics. For instance, France is all about sustainability, not having been marketed to by big pharmaceutical companies… And, thank goodness for most of their wines.

For a very long time, glossy magazines mostly focused on Napa Valley as the only region in CA – at lease, in the 90s, when I began to seriously read these magazines, that was what was happening to wine consumer magazines. Time has changed all of that, thankfully… We’ve awakened to more that at four letter word. Then, magazines began to focus on other wine regions around the world. Now, focused on Sonoma, Wine Enthusiast has declared that Sonoma Country has unique epistemic value as a valuable wine region.


From a press release:



This diverse region will be honored for exceptional wine quality and sustainability efforts at the Wine Enthusiast Gala on Jan. 27, 2020 in San Francisco. This was just announced, for the magazine’s 20th annual Wine Star Awards.

Each year, editors of the publication honor the destination, individuals and companies that have made outstanding achievements in the wine and beverage world, and continue to implement innovative, welcoming and sustainable practices and initiatives.

[PHOTO: Bacigalupi Vineyard]

“Sonoma County is one of the most diverse and progressive winegrowing regions in the world,” said Adam Strum, Chairman and Publisher of Wine Enthusiast. “From powerhouse varieties like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that produce famed bottlings of prominence, to classic California wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel and more, Sonoma County is renowned for producing high-quality wines of distinction. The region is also a standard-bearer for best practices beyond just wine production, as a champion of true sustainability.”

The accolade recognizes the region for the prominent wine-focused programs that Sonoma County Vintners produces to enhance the wine industry. These include the Sonoma County Wine Auction, one of the nation’s top charitable wine auctions. This annual event has raised more than $30 million, since its inception to support those in need in Sonoma County. Taste of Sonoma, the annual premier wine and food festival, spotlights Sonoma County’s renowned vintners and chefs.

[PHOTO: Ron Rubin Vineyard]

“This is an incredible recognition of the world-class wines and winegrowers that have made Sonoma County exceptional,” said Michael Haney, Executive Director of Sonoma County Vintners. “Generations of families in this wine community have devoted their time, effort and care making this the best wine region. There is a real sense of pride in everything this community does from winery hospitality to their contributions of those in need. Sonoma County truly is authentic and approachable!”

Sonoma County’s winegrowing community recently announced that it now has a record-breaking 99 percent of its local vineyard acreage certified sustainable. The region will continue to build on its sustainability leadership, as an exclusive participant in the California Land Stewardship Institute’s Climate Adaptation Certification Program, which is the first program of its kind available for agriculture [in the US].

“Sonoma County is a truly special place with its multi-generational family grape growers and vintners who are committed to sustainability, supporting our local community and preserving agriculture for the next generation,” said Karissa Kruse, President of Sonoma County Winegrowers. “It means so much to our local wine community to receive this incredible honor from Wine Enthusiast recognizing that in Sonoma County world-class quality wines can come from local families who care.”

[PHOTO: Dry Creek Valley]

Sonoma County Tourism is the region’s destination stewardship organization, has also implemented various programs to continue building the county’s sustainability efforts, most recently, partnered with Kind Traveler, the first socially conscious “give and get” hotel booking and education platform. To protect the destination’s resources – both natural and human – for residents and travelers for many generations to come, SCT has instituted a new Sonoma County travel pledge.

“Helping to ensure the long-term health of Sonoma County’s extraordinary agricultural resources is of paramount importance and the reason we embraced destination stewardship,” said Claudia Vecchio, CEO, Sonoma County Tourism. “We celebrate our extraordinary wine community for leading the way toward sustainability and achieving this well-deserved recognition.”

Sonoma County will appear in the special December 31 Wine Enthusiast “Best of Year” issue and will be presented their Wine Star Award trophies at the 20th anniversary black-tie awards dinner on Monday, January 27, 2020 hosted in San Francisco, CA at the Palace of Fine Arts.

About Sonoma County Tourism

Sonoma County Tourism (SCT) is the official destination stewardship organization for California’s Sonoma County. SCT is a private, non-profit marketing and sales organization dedicated to sustaining the hospitality economy in Sonoma County, California. Tourism generates $2.175 billion annually for the local economy, $193.8 million in government revenue, and supports more than 22,300 jobs. To protect the destination’s resources – both natural and human – for residents and travelers for many generations to come, SCT has instituted a new Sonoma County travel pledge. For more information, call 707-522-5800 or 800-576-6662, or visit http://www.sonomacounty.com.

[PHOTO: Paul Foppiano, Foppiano Vineyards]

About Sonoma County Winegrowers

The Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, also known as Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW), was established in 2006 as a marketing and educational organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Sonoma County as one of the world’s premier grape growing regions. With more than 1,800 growers, Sonoma County Winegrower’s goal is to increase awareness and recognition of the quality and diversity of Sonoma County’s grapes and wines through dynamic marketing and educational programs targeted to wine consumers around the world. In January 2014, SCW committed to becoming the nation’s first 100% sustainable winegrowing region by 2019. As of July 2019, over 95% of the vineyard acreage in Sonoma County is certified sustainable by a third-party auditor. Learn more at http://www.sonomawinegrape.org.

About Sonoma County Vintners

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, representing over 250 wineries throughout the county. The organization actively promotes Sonoma County through educational programming; advocates for its members at local, state and federal levels; and contributes to the local communities through our Sonoma County Vintners Foundation. Sonoma County Wine Auction, its annual fundraiser, has raised over $30 million benefiting non-profit organizations throughout the region. To learn more about Sonoma County Vintners, visit HTTP://www.sonomawine.com.


All photos are the property of Jo Diaz. If you do not give photo credit, you are in violation of Copyright infringement, usually a $3,000 fine, to start. Please don’t lift my images.



Château Roubine Cru Classé


I work in one of the most balanced industries in the world, and one of the most ancient: wine. The more I know, the more I know I don’t know. (That’s a balance, right?)

This wine business began with balance ~ The balance of science and art. If wine isn’t in balance, it’s undrinkable. Precision is necessary on both fronts, though. Not just for the sake of a complete package, but also for tempting someone to trust the package as being enjoyable. So, it’s not just about the wine, but also about the art that tempts one to choose that particular bottle of wine art.

Within the wine world, there are those who make wine and some who advocate for it…


Think Provence, where Rosé wines are a natural fit. Over 60 percent of the region’s production is Rosé. In the… which came first category of “the chicken or the egg…” in this instance, which came first “the wine or the design?”

When someone already has the wine, and comes upon art naturally existing, being inspired sets the stage for a visionary.

Valérie Rousselle is one of those people whose come into my world… the proprietor of Château Roubine Cru Classé.


One day, while in her vineyard, Valérie spotted a small, dead vine. She did what any great landowner would do, she pulled the relic from the earth. Upon examining it, though, which included turning it upside down, she could see so much more than a dead vine, with straggly roots… From the scraggly silhouette came elegantly dancing humanity, with the roots delicately reaching with outstretched arms as the dancer, and the vine being its dancing heavy legs, to be prepared to balance the oncoming’s summer fruit… Inverted, yin yang, a perfect revelation.

The vine didn’t make it to an landfill or a burn pile, of course. Art exists in all of nature, be it ever so humble, or a relic still existing from a great master, hanging in The Louvre. From her vision, this joyful dancer made its way into the hands of accomplished artists.

First, to make it a lasting statue, I believe by bronzing and mounting it. (I should have felt the metal, when it was shown to me, but I didn’t want touch it. I’ve been to too many museums, so as a habit, I don’t touch.)

Next, it went to a creative department, for sketching. Then to a bottle company for its silkscreen design. (Valérie could give you yet more steps, but they’re not really necessary for the “short” version.)

Finally, to her winemaking team to come up with a perfect blend of Rose, befitting this very special wine, which would then go into this inspired bottle.

Its name? Inspire (of course – wink)

The essence of the story was told to me by Valérie’s son Adrien Riboud… The rest I could just feel.

Château Roubine Cru Classé ~ Cuvée Inspire Rosé 2018 Château Roubine – Cru Classé

The PHOTO: Taken by Château Roubine Cru Classé

This story to my friend Cathy Champaine, who just came back into my life. Cheers and Clink!


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

Sipping Away, 30 Years of Unique Wine Experiences

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

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

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

At first, I thought I’d be reading about wines he had tasted over the years and the experiences that went with them… including reviews.

This book is so NOT that

When anyone gets into the wine industry as a professional, it’s a faster track to the world of wine knowledge. And, it’s done through so many different channels, with so many different nuances.  It just depends on the segment that’s your calling. For David, it was to help his father in a liquor store he purchased. When you read the book, you’ll discover how that came about. His father wasn’t born into owning a liquor store, and his son growing up would never have imagined finding himself on Toitty Toid and Toid.  (Neither would have my sister, growing up in Maine, but their paths easily crossed, as she lived on the corner of 33rd and 3rd… and would have purchased wine in that store from David, without a doubt… They were both on that corner at the same time. A wild coincidence, as I was reading, really.

At first, David was just stocking shelves, but the moment he became curious about what was inside a bottle he was holding in his hand, was like an Alice in Wonderland moment.

I’m going to let you learn the rest of his remarkable adventures, and there are many. Some might even inspire you. I’ll tell you this much… Today, David Klein is a chiropractor, with an insatiable wine palate, and has blossomed into an enviable position with his wine club.

Sipping Away, 30 Years of Unique Wine Experiences is really well written, very engaging, and opens up the world of wine from a retailer’s perspective. He also gives great advice to anyone already in or wants to be in the most magical world… the one of wine.

A quick read on a long flight; or, just absorbing one chapter at a time, before you’re slipping away into dreamland. This is a seriously delightful book, this Sipping Away.



France,French Wine,History,I'll Drink to That,Imports,Provence,Rosé,Wine,Wine Blogger,Wine Writer,Wine-Blog,Winemaker,Winemaking,Winery

When enjoying a Glass of Wine from Provence Involves a History Lesson of the Middle Ages

When visiting a winery, to capture its heart and soul – as is my custom – it’s helpful if I know very little about it, going into the discoveries. I don’t want to rewrite anything, except actual factuals… And then, what I see it in nuances: what I feel from its aura, what touches my heart, and becomes something uniquely new.

Actual Factual ~ Knights Templar

My school of world history has been gained via geography, versus academia, first and foremost. My love of travel has taken me to many places in the world; each time, I get connected to that place’s history, and my perspectives are permanently altered… My view of the world is more broad. Now, apply that to wine…

Yesterday, I spent the entire day watching a series called “Knights Templar: Rise and Fall,” produced by One Media. The only thing I knew of the Knights, was that they fought… God only knew why, in my humble opinion, they even had to fight, in the first place.

What did they stand for, were they good or bad guys in the process, and where did they go?


Well, I learned: the holy city of Jerusalem was conquered 900 years ago. There was a Christianity crusade against Islam (First Crusade), and it was carried out by monks, many of whom would give their lives to the cause.” They couldn’t event retreat unless there were outnumbered by three to one. Imagine!

The Crusaders believed that the Al Agsa Mosque was built on the ancient remains of King Solomon’s temple. These knights, who came to this location to guard and fight for it, became known as the Knights Templar.

Another reason… the Knights were also protecting the rights and safety of Christians and Jews to go on pilgrimages to Jerusalem. So, the Knights had a very strong resolve, and a massive job, say for guiding people from France, down to the Mediterranean Sea, and then onto Jerusalem.

[PHOTO is a sculpture in Château Roubine Cru Classé’s gardens.

About the time, I began to reflected on current events. I saw the parallels throughout world history over time, when it comes to holy wars. They’re very powerful and give the warriors one common goal – it’s all for the killing, not of man; but… as the movie then coincidentally stated, parallel to my thinking… for the killing of evil. People are a by-product of a war. Chilling, I know, but a fact of life, never-the-less.

Now, it’s going to lead all of us into a powerful, gravitation pull, just as it did for Valérie Rousselle. This Templar site blew my socks off. Standing there, seeing and feel all of these images before me… And now you know.

Actual Factual ~ Château Roubine Cru Classé

[Photo of Valérie Rousselle from Rendez Vous Magazine]

According to owner Valérie Rousselle: “In historical times, the Roman road also known as “Julienne” ran through the current vineyard, giving it a strategic position. Known since the beginning of the 14th century, Château Roubine was owned by the Knights Templar before being sold in 1307 to the Order of St. Jean de Jerusalem. In the 15th century Château Roubine became the privilege and pride of various famous Provencal families.”

This is followed with a world history of possession for this property, including its name of Château Roubine. The key here, though, is that in 1994, Vâlerié Rousselle met Château Roubine (love at first site) and has never looked back. She states, “I was called by this area.”

Now, you might understand why I had to open with the Knights Templar. This is still a sacred land, depending on your own historical side. I was raised Catholic; so back then, you’d know which side I was on. My maternal grandparents were Abbie and Peter (Pierre) Bernier, greatgrands were the Ouellettes. They spoke French to me until I was five. I wish they had never stopped. It’s a very musical language, with extremely expressive body language, if you watch as carefully as I do.

I had just visited Château Roubine Cru Classé, in Provence, France. There reference to the Knights Templar made me more curious. Each winery has a unique history, this was theirs. And a little bit powerful, I knew, but what… What did I need to catch up on? So, one after the other, I watched continuing episodes. I got a pretty good eyeful.

The Knights Templar became a large religious organization of devout Christians during the medieval era, which accomplished important mission: to protect European travelers visiting sites in the Holy Land, while also carrying out military operations.

Vineyard Visit, Lunch Included

From here, I’m going to express the other side of my brain, the one that loves photography. Just to show you this property, before I get into all of the wines. this is a primer, perhaps

As a guest of Château Roubine Cru Classé, I was off on another adventure. Something unexpectedly came up for owner Valérie Rousselle, so we didn’t get to meet her. We did, however, spend a couple of days with her son/co-owner Adrien Riboud and winemaker Pierre Gérin. Our first tour was of the vineyards. These are the images I took. Provence… what’s not to love?

Imagine trying to farm this earth? Grapevines grow best where there’s NOT a lot of nitrogenous waste in the soil. If there was more nitrogen (black soil is FULL of nitrogen), this vine would not be as compact, and would be crawling all over the ground, until it finds a tree, and would then have spread upward.

White soils indicate limestone. (You’ll also be seeing rust colored stones. Explained at that time.)

Hello, Ms. Grasshopper. Protective coloration didn’t stop me from seeing her. This vineyard has a very rocky terroir. The advantage of these rocks? The keep the soil warm, so during the evening when the temperatures cool down, their roots are receiving warmth from the rocks in the soil… especially during a cold winter.

Splendor in Provence… — at Château Roubine Cru Classé.

We got closer to the Chateau, where we would next be having lunch.

I spotted this old vine at the beginning of the row. I love the old vines. This one is about 50 years old.

Vines are like people; the older they get, the less fruit they produce, and they’re a lot more intense. Although some people do have kids at 50, it would not be my choice. Vines, similarly, do not produce as much fruit in their older years. But when they do… Ooo lala, it’s to celebrate. At this point I asked about veraison.

Veraison = when red grapes turn from their original green version into their fancy red colors… finally into raisins, if not picked. When in the vineyard, I had asked if there was any veraison yet. was told, not yet… Then, I looked under the skirt (canopy) of the old gal vine and found THIS – Veraison! Leave it to the grande dame to be the most colorful, early on in a season!

Lovely vista, Chateau included… As well as a neighboring community.

Red soil, think iron oxide, think a remnant of volcanic activity… Think pepper spice.

This… I just love tendrils. Notice the active green one to the left, how it twists and winds. This little extension of the vine gives it the ability to grab hold of something nearby for support… In this instance it’s trellis on the wire, to keep the vine from sprawling onto the ground. They are so strong that at a certain point, it’s just useless to try to rip them all from the wire… So, here they are, dried and as tough as bark, from previous years of reaching for the wire, to support the vine’s weight from heavy grape clusters. — at Château Roubine Cru Classé.

And, the roses… This one almost looks like a wild little bush. They’re so delicate that they warn if any diseases are impending.

Our guides: on the left is Adrien Riboud, co-owner of Château Roubine Cru Classé (with his mother Valérie Rousselle). The gentleman on the right is their vigneron Pierre Gérin.

This is where we were next headed, for lunch… to the Chateau.

…We have all just arrived, and this is just the beginning of our journey. More deliciousness to follow with Château Roubine Cru Classé.


Beaujolais,Burgundy,France,French Wine,Gamay,Red Wine,White Wine,Wine

Beaujolais Winemakers Concentrate on Crafting Regional Wines, Each Representing Their Native Terroir and Flavors

Beaujolais Introduction

Some of you may have heard of Beaujolais, France, while others of you may not. For those who haven’t, Beaujolais is a wine growing region in eastern France. This photo was taken at La Madone Chapel in Fleurie, looking down on the Fleurie commune.

The only red grape grown in Beaujolais is the Gamay variety, which delivers a full range of this red wine’s styles, primarily based on which Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC); which means, where it’s grown.

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

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

[PURCHASED PHOTO: pinkish wine: olegdudko]

Some call it a pinkish-red wine; and most people who taste it, just call it entirely delicious. There are also very old vines in Beaujolais, like this one in the picture below.  They grow very close to the ground (these clusters might be only 12 inches from the ground), and  clusters are kept to a bare minimum, creating intensity of flavor. The most healthy clusters are kept and allowed to enjoy the most sun of the season, as the chosen few.

[Full disclosure, I was a guest of Georges Duboeuf and his family; and, given access to each of the following vignerons, to learn their stories and taste their wines, in the hope that I would find a story worth writing. For this story, these are just snippets. I’m also going to be writing a feature for each brand, with a lot more images.]

[And, since verasion hadn’t yet begun in mid August, the Gamay vine, also a purchased photo from fontaineg1234.]

First: Beaujolais Nouveau

For lovers of this delicate red wine, we wait in great anticipation for their annual Beaujolais Nouveau release. Nouveau is actually bottled at least two weeks ahead of its release date, which will annually be on the third Thursday in November. This seems like a time that’s too soon; however, this releasing of Gamay so quickly is perhaps not soon enough, for those of us who love and wait in anxious anticipation.

For a point of reference, for other grape varieties to be released, usually white wines have about a six to 12 month wait period, and red wines have from one to three years to wait, before being released.

So it would appear that this is an early release; but, that’s by design, not by mistake. When the French do the early release of this Beaujolais, it’s to celebrate their new vintage, because it’s just ready to celebrate it and Gamay is fresh enough to deliver. Beaujolais captures the true essence of its light, strawberry flavor body. It also holds the secrets of how the wine is going to taste and age over time.

Vignerons Introduced

In Beaujolais, the stars of making the wines are collectively a humble group. They don’t aspire to stardom’s lights and glitter; they make their wines the stars. Most of them have quiet credentials; they simply focus on their viticulture, wines, and their local reputations. These wine brands also have long standing relationships and the complete endorsement of the Duboeuf family. Les Vins Georges Duboeuf works in tandem, to guarantee a consistent, identifiable Beaujolais profile.

These winemakers all deliver Beaujolais’s Gamay wines to the Georges Duboeuf winery, before going anywhere else. Each has a characteristic region (see above), with its own terroir, and offers a range from delicate to medium, and a fuller bodied essence of Gamay.


Gilles Corsin

MÂCON ~ Meet Gilles Corsin. (Second from the left.) The group that I was with was going to have a walking tour, to the top of the Rock of Solutré (to get an elevated view of terroir – image below), but the weather was really too hot. Instead, our day was rearranged and Gilles Corsin met us at the foot of the hill, overlooking the sprawling appellation.

Gilles Corsin and Jean-Jacques Corsin (brothers) are the fifth generation of the Corsin family to manage this 33 acre vineyard. He’s been buying from this vineyard since 1992 and has tasted amazing wines as far back as 1990. Jean-Jacques runs the vineyards, while Gilles runs the winery. Gilles is known to have the finest palate in the Mâcon.

He explained the minerality of their rocky terroir and their winemaking practices, along with his relationship to Les Vins Georges Duboeuf.

Sharing this Pouilly-Fuissé Georges Duboeuf 2017, it was a perfectly refreshing way to end our tour with him.


Sylvain Flache

OINGT ~ Vignerons des Pierres Dorées ~ Sylvan Flache is the managing winemaker at this wine co-operative, in Oingt, Rhones-Alpes, France.

If you’ve heard about the negotiate company called Les Vins Georges Duboeuf, it might seem to be a really large producer of wine, where wine isn’t defined and perhaps even a commodity. Quite the opposite is true, however.

With approximately 400 grower partners, who contribute to each vintage, this just became a much more understandable figure, when we know that each partner is allowed to be its own brand, only managed for quality control by Les Vins Georges Duboeuf. This co-op is comprised of 180 growers, which range in size from only 1.2 acres to 50 acres. The total number of acres is 1,236.

Sylvan is in constant contact with the Georges Duboeuf winemaking team of Emeric Gaucher and Denis Lapaler. Together, they monitor quality growing and producing.


Jean-Benoit and Tiphaine de Chabannes

BROUILLY ~ Our visit to Château de Nervers, in Brouilly, with owners Jean-Benoit and Tiphaine de Chabannes, was much more fun than anyone should be allowed to have, as all of my colleagues were all quick to agree. After touring the castle’s grounds, we had dinner outside just before dusk, which ended with a spectacular sunset. Wines enjoyed at our winemaker dinner: Brouilly Château de Nervers 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

Their story is remarkable… How one is born into a Château… Their Château was originally a hunting lodge. Château de Nervers has been in their family for almost 200 years. Six generations have succeeded each other, until Jean-Benoît and Tiphaine, current managers. “We combine tradition and modernity by valuing what makes up our history and inventing what will be our future. For the first time in its history, the Domaine is run by a couple who take care of their vines from planting to consumption!”

Jean-Benoit’s passion is winemaking. On the tour we saw, once-again, the concrete vats, built into the winery and their history. While seeming novel in the US, we still have so much catching up to do, in the world’s wine history. And, this is part of their this style in wine vessels… Concrete tanks.


Nicole Descombes

MORGON ~ We visited Morgon’s Jean-Ernest Descombes Winery, with owner Nicole Descombes. In 1993, Nicole Descombes’ parents passed, just three months apart from each other. Before her father passed away, in October 1993, Jean-Ernest asked Nicole to keep the winery and tasting room as he was leaving them to her. It’s safe to say that it’s quite retro, and as charming as Nicole. Known as “the Queen of Beaujolais,” she’s also incredibly talented and kind. A more welcoming visit would be very hard to find.

Awaiting our arrival, Nicole is just opening her door to us. Besides wine, what was inside, we wondered?

An outstanding winegrower, Jean Ernest Descombes was considered a very gifted winemaker. Three fourths of his vines were over 50 years old, and were planted in the best terroirs. When he passed in 1993, his daughter Nicole decided to carry on his traditions. According to Georges Duboeuf, “She always says that wine always resembles the person who made it; she says the same about her father’s Morgon.” And, it’s safe to say that her wines are also in keeping with her father’s style.

This winery partnership has a lot of history with Georges Duboeuf. In 1968, when Georges Duboeuf began Les Vins Georges Duboeuf, Jean-Ernest Descombes was the first grower partner for Georges Duboeuf’s company. When her father and mother passed away, Georges Duboeuf stood by her side… to this very day.


Loïc Marion and Cyril Copéret

FLEURIE ~ In the center is vintner Patrick Darroze, and his two winemakers Cyril Copéret (left) and Loïc Marion (right), of Domaine des Quatre Vents (translates as Field of Four Winds), in Fleurie.

We first stopped above the winery at La Madone Chapel, and then came down to meet with Patrick and his two winemakers. From the back of Patrick’s winery, one can look up to the tiny chapel on top of the hill. It’s such a lovely view and very recognizable landmark. Once you’ve seen it in person, you’ll always recognize it.

Loïc and Cyril care for the 29.7 acres. Most of the vineyards surround the house, and are more than 50 years old. Like most vines in Beaujolais, the vines are low to the ground and are head pruned. In French, this is called the traditional Gobelet style. They’re planted mostly in pink granite soil, which is the hallmark of the Fleurie Cru. Their average harvest is 425 barrels, which equals about 10,000 cases (24 cases to a 60-gallon barrel). Harvest is done manually, in whole bunches.

Semi-carbonic maceration fermentation makes this a very fresh and fruity wine. With this kind of fermenting, yeast is not used, because the whole clusters are very capable of fermenting on their own.

From Vine Pair: “by placing whole bunches of grapes in a sealed vat filled with carbon dioxide, the oxygen-starved fruit will release naturally present enzymes. These enzymes perform a similar function to yeast, breaking sugars down into alcohol. Essentially, during carbonic maceration, alcoholic fermentation begins inside the grape itself.”

Both semi-carbonic maceration and malolactic fermentation take place in their temperature-controlled, stainless steel vats.


André Berrod

SAINT AMOUR ~ We visited Château de Saint-Amour (in Saint-Amour), with owners Monsieur Pierre and Madame Yvonne Sidaurin, and their winemaker André Berrod. We also tasted the Château de Saint Amour 2016, 2017, and 2018 vintages, during a lovely garden party.

This was our first introduction in France to concrete (or cement) tanks. Not mine, however, since I worked well over a decade with the Foppiano family. They’re going under renovations to their vats, as I write this. An old Italian family, they just knew what to do.

Meanwhile, André Berrod briefly explained the benefits of the concrete tanks:

  • Like stainless steel fermenting tanks, most winemakers use them for fermentation, but others also use concrete vats for aging wine.
  • They’re a neutral container, which means that favors attributed to oak barrels, will no be impacting the delicate flavors of a Beaujolais wine.
  • Their designs are very customized in shape and sizes. On this trip, I saw as many vats as I saw wineries. Not two were identical. Seems like they were quite the fashion, centuries ago to present.
  • They’re also quite affordable, versus the cost of barrels.


Denis Lapaler

ROMANÈCHE-THORINS ~ We begin at the Georges Duboeuf Winery. Met by winemaker Denis Lapaler, we toured and overlooked the Beaujolais regions, the production winery, tasted wines from the aging barrels.

Denis is one of two head winemakers on the Georges Duboeuf team; the other being Emeric Gaucher. His job is overseeing all quality control, as well as making wine for Georges Duboeuf from over 200 local producers. The Deboeuf family has three winemaking arrangements, since they make their own wines and are also Négociants.

What Denis and Emeric Gaucher are in charge of at the Georges Duboeuf family, besides its own estate wines, as négociant merchants from Beaujolais: They’ve assembled the highest quality of committed, small family growers and winemakers, and have added them to their portfolio, each with specific designations.

Their umbrella company includes Cru Beaujolais, Beaujolais Villages, plus Beaujolais, and Beaujolais Nouveau. Some members on their team just grow grapes, while some grow and make the wine to be delivered, and still more have chateau designated wines. Every configuration has it’s own procedure with rules and regulations. And, a lot of really great wine is made, following their guidelines. For a consumer, this makes for some very tasty and consistently delightful and distinctive wines.


I dedicate this story to the Georges Duboeuf family for having me as their guest, and arranging for me to have met so many wonderful people. I now understand my grandparents Abbie and Peter Bernier, much better. I wish they had continued to talk French to me. I would be better for it.

And Quintessential Wines, for being my guide throughout this 10 day adventure.

Finally, I owe a debt of gratitude to my loving husband Jose Diaz, who so selflessly encourages my international travels, allowing me to expand and enrich my life experiences, which I share with him. Our lives are much richer, as a result.