An extraordinary wine writer who also falls into my kizmet category…

For a few years, as a side note to being Concannon Vineyard’s publicist, I had an on-going project… Digging really deeply into their relationship with Cabernet clones 7, 8, and 11. The dig was so deep that I read, re-read, and re-read again research papers from UC Davis that had anything to do with Dr. Harold Olmo’s clonal research; most especially:

  • UC Davis’s Role in Improving California’s Grape Planting Materials, by M. Andrew Walker
  • The Origins of the Grape Program at Foundation Plant Materials Service, by Lynn Alley and Deborah A. Golino

For me, it’s fascinating that Clone 7 was the one most especially used when Robert Mondavi and all his Napa pals decided in the 1970s to rip out all the Petite Sirah (it was planted to Petite back then by a whopping 60 percent), and replant with the Concannon Clone 7.

Think about that… Concannon’s Livermore Valley Clone 7 has played such a significant role in the history of making Napa Cabs as well as those in the rest of the state… (Concannon brought their Cab clone over from Bordeaux many, many years before.)

FAST FORWARD by about four years with all that clonal stuff tucked into a file cabinet, as Concannon is finalizing a $30 Million renaissance at the winery in its 125th year of operation, and I’m a bit obsessed with writing current events in my journal, aka ~ Juicy Tales.

A wine writer, Lynn Alley, contacted me for something I’ve written, and we’ve been off and running in Emails back and forth on a variety of topics, beyond the initial communication. This developed so quickly into how much we have in common that she became a new best friend… close to instantly.

As I came to know Lynn, I then discovered that not only does she write about wine, but she’s also the crock lady.

The Gourmet Slow Cooker: Simple and … – 2003 – 128 pages
The Gourmet Slow Cooker: Regional Comfort food … – 2006 – 118 pages
Lost Arts: A Celebration of Culinary Traditions – 2000 – 212 pages

Then, she wrote to me, “Hey, didn’t Concannon have something to do with Clone 7?”

I answered, “They sure did. How about I send you this paper on it written by Lynn Alley?”

“Lynn Alley? Wow, there are two of them?” thought I.

Well, no… there’s only one of them, and it took the internet to bring us together in such a circuitous way that it became really comical.

I just sent over my usual questions for a wine writer, and she came back with not only classic answers, but also more similarities that we have in common. Lynn’s got a great sense of humor, and it shows in what’s to follow:

[Q] When did you start, and what prompted you to start writing about wine?

[A] A wonderful twist of fate put me in the wine writing business. The glassy-winged sharpshooter. I was there when it first made its stunning appearance in Temecula. In fact, I was probably the only writer who was “there”. Had a corner on the market
for a while.

[Q] What aspect(s) of wine do you most enjoy covering?

[A] I love being in the vineyards best of all. If you ask me to a late night dinner I’m likely to fall asleep in the soup, but I’ll gladly meet you at first light in the vineyard. I love staying in vineyards, walking in vineyards, looking at vineyards….I love being in ag country.

[Q] How has your job changed since you’ve started?

[A] Well, it seems like there are more people in the wine business today who have no business being there. People far removed from the love of the land who view wine only as a business proposition or a fashionable lifestyle option.

[Q] What’s the most memorable wine you’ve ever tasted?

[A] Geez. That’s a tough one. Tough because I cannot really separate the enjoyment of a wine from the setting, the people, the day, the moment. Probably among my most memorable are super-Tuscans, Vega Sicilia, Mauro, and perhaps the most memorable white was a DRC Montrachet.

[Q] What’s your favorite variety?

[A] I think I have “some” rather than “one”. I enjoy syrah (my first love), chenin blanc, and some interesting Greek varietals like assyrtico and xenomavro. And of course, am always fascinated with anything related to California’s “old” favorites like Zin and P.S.

[Q] Do you believe that there are better quality, lower priced wines today, than in past vintages?

[A] Dunno. Seems like I stumble across what I think is a terrific bargain from time to time, but I’m not actively looking.

[Q] What’s your favorite innovation in the past few years?

[A] Can’t think of anything.

[Q] What’s your favorite food and wine pairing?

[A] Roederer Estate Hermitage and Kettle chips.

[Q] What are your interests outside of the wine business?

[A] Beach, cooking, eating, pets and wildlife, hiking, road trips, yoga, gardening, travel, people, movies that make me laugh and great hotels.

[Q] Who inspires you (wine business or outside of it, doesn’t matter)?

[A] Gandhi, Pope John Paul II, Mother Theresa, Audrey Hepburn, mom, Grandma, Harold Olmo, Bob Mondavi, to name a few.