Steve Heimoff’s latest book, New Classic Winemakers of California is a book that I can’t put down, even though I’ve read it. I’m now re-reading it, because there are layers upon layers that remain current to things I need to know about so much.

This morning I was reading the Pisoni guys chapter, because Steve had a wine class on Pisoni Vineyards & Winery wines at Franklin Square Wine Bar in Oakland. This was where I was introduced to the larger-than-life figure Gary Pisoni. As Gary told his story, it became very apparent why Steve had chosen to include Gary and his sons in this newly released book. Gary’s got a passion that he wears on his sleeve, and his ability to become a complete animation of “what you see is what you get” is very endearing.

That took me to my very next place… An Email that came in from Nick Passmore, talking about “Summer Cocktails” in his newsletter. I dug deeper, finding myself on his wine blog, and reading Nick’s words with great interest.

Antinori and Winiarski

“At first I thought it mere coincidence that the subjects of two of the pictures in this site’s Gallery section – one of Warren Winiarski of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and the other of Albiera, Alessia and Allegra Antinori — have been linked in a recent major news story that has shaken the wine word. In case you haven’t heard, this past Monday it was announced that the Antinoris, along with Washington State’s Chateau St Michelle, had bought Winiarski’s iconic winery, the brand name and his two famous vineyards, Fay and S.L.V.”

Nick went on to explain that Winiarski is now 78 years old, “So it seems only natural that when Winiarski wanted to ease back on the work – he’s 78 – and was looking for a buyer he didn’t chose a large wine conglomerate or a private equity firm, but rather decided to hook up with the Antinoris, people who share his values and to whom he could confidently entrust Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars’ reputation. “

Thinking about Gary Pisoni and his sons Jeff and Mark, then thinking about Warren connecting with the Antinori family made we conclude what magical people winemakers are, and how we – who are not they – adore them. I believe it has to do with their alchemy… Turning juice into wine that has such beneficial effects on our bodies, our minds, and our culture. As nothing lasts forever, if one must move on, going from one passionate family to the next is quite honorable. I didn’t know either family in this sale, so I had no way of knowing what a beautiful segue this was for Warren Winiarski, and for what had to have been a very difficult decision to reach and then execute.

I was thankful for Nick Passmore, most especially this morning, because wine writers bring these people’s stories to life. It led me to ask him to become one of my featured wine writers. His talent and accomplishments were great timing for this early morning freedom to write about so many things waiting to be written, swimming around in my head.

Nick is an independent wine writer and wine consultant based in New York. He’s contributed to the widely read monthly wine column to, in addition to which his work has appeared in Forbes, Discover, Town & Country, the Robb Report, the Wine Enthusiast, Saveur, Sky, BusinessWeek.Com and Golf Connoisseur, among others. He’s also a wine judge at Robert Whitley’s widely respected annual Critics’ Challenge wine competition.

Here are the questions and answers for insight into Nick Passmore. Enjoy!

[Q] Many wine writers also have a day job. If wine isn’t your job, what is and for whom?
[A] I am a full time writer, wine event organizer and wine consultant. More information in the Events section of

[Q] When did you start writing about wine?
[A] 1997

[Q] What prompted you to start writing about wine?
[A] I drank so much of it I figured I might as well write about it too.

[Q] What aspect(s) of wine do you most enjoy covering?
[A] It’s a continuous learning process.

[Q] How has your job changed since you’ve started?
[A] My tolerance for inferior wine has declined precipitously.

[Q] What’s the most memorable wine you’ve ever tasted?
[A] 1970 Pomard

[Q] What’s your favorite variety?
[A] Impossible to say.

[Q] Do you believe that there are better quality, lower priced wines today, than in past vintages?
[A] There has been a huge improvement in the world’s wines over the last three decades, even if at the price of a certain degree of standardization.

[Q] What’s your favorite innovation in the wine industry over the past few years?
[A] The huge improvement in quality. See above.

[Q] What’s your favorite food and wine pairing?
[A] Where to begin?

[Q] What are your interests outside of the wine business?
[A] Where to begin?