Cabernet Sauvignon,Chile,Sample,Syrah,Wine

Casillero del Diablo is Singularly Worthy of Halloween with a Trick AND a Treat

Sample: Creative Palate ~ for 2017 Casillero del Diablo Red Blend ~ Chile


  2. SCIENCE ~ WINEMAKING ~ From the winery
  3. SOUL ~ Jo’s notes


[PHOTO in cave: Jo Diaz, at Castello di Meleto, Gaiole in Chianti, Italy ~ PHOTO of old bottles: Jo Diaz at Adega Coop de Borba, in the Alentejo Region of Portugal]

For years, Casillero del Diablo in Central Chile, has been my go-to wine for Halloween; since 2014, actually. And, with great marketing, the fun continues, because they have a great “scary” story. It was Don Melchor who made lemonade from lemons. And now a tradition has been set, continuing into 2018.

Past stories from Wine-blog:

Today’s drill…

In the 19th century, the founder of Concha y Toro, Don Melchor, discovered that his vineyard workers were sampling his greatest wines. To discourage this action, Melchor spread the rumor that his deepest, darkest cellar was the Casillero del Diablo (Cellar of the Devil), so that no one would dare go in there. It worked, and a legend was born. Today this mysterious and legendary cellar continues to hold the finest wines of Casillero del Diablo.

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz]

The Brew – ha-ha…

2017 Casillero del Diablo Red Blend ~ Chile


Today, the original Concha y Toro family estate, complete with its Devil’s Cellar, is Chile’s leading tourist destination! According to their Website: “This wine was created for those with a rebellious spirit, those who want the impossible and are inspired to try new things… Their spirit is a mix of the best of this life, because the rebels of today will be the legends of tomorrow…”

[PHOTO: Purchased]

Grown in the Central Valley of Chile, the soils for the grapevines that have made this wine are mainly alluvial. This means that it’s a fine-grained, fertile soil, which has been deposited by water flowing over flood plains or in river beds. Moreover, clay, silt, or gravel has been carried by rushing streams, and then deposited where the stream slows down.  There is also some colluvial soils, which are loose, unconsolidated sediments that have deposited at the base of hills, carried down by rain water. In wine grape growing, the chemistry of the soil is best without enriching nitrogen, which causes the vines to grow with tremendous abundance. This takes away from the rich flavors of the grapes. I was just reminded of this recently, when I tasted some mongo table grapes. They were so huge there was no flavor, and will shortly be moved to our compost bin.

This 2017 Casillero del Diablo red blend is 70% Syrah and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. The alcohol is the perfect amount (13.5%) to make this a food friendly wine. Casillero is recommending different kind of grilled meat. Lamb stews with herbs and other preparations based on this meat or game meat.


This red blend was made to have ripe and densely packed flavors of black fruit, with some earthy spices. The tannins are firm and have flavors of dark, rich chocolate. With a hint of sweetness from the wine – just a hint, and ever so captivating – this Red wine is very seductive. I imagine it with hot, steamy stews that warm the spirit’s soul. Splashy summer is gone and once vibrant autumn is turning into much cooler, damper nights. This wine with something crafted to perfection, with a few added, tantalizing spices, will create excitement your Halloween treat, as you go into the mysterious night. Waaaahahahahahahahahaaaaa…

[PHOTO: Saso Tusar]



Oleo ~ Relieving the Strain and Burning ~ My CBD Experiment for Glaucoma

I had been diagnosed with glaucoma about four years ago. I found it to be unimaginable, because no one in my family ever had glaucoma, and it’s hereditary. So, I pretty much ignored it, not worrying. I had had my eyes dilated for a while, when I started with a new optometrist. When I returned again, it had progressed. So, I looked up what causes glaucoma. One of the causes was a rare form that can be caused by having one’s eyes dilated. “A variety of drugs can also cause dilation of the pupil and lead to an attack of glaucoma.”

Having just delved deeper into glaucoma; white females, blonde at birth, green eyes, are the most susceptible to glaucoma. Oh, great… The story of my life. I was the only (white female) blonde in my family, and the only one with green eyes… Why didn’t my male optometrist tell me that? Why, why in heaven’s name, did he even put any chemicals into my susceptible eyes?

My last dilation caused me to have snow blindness for an entire week… For an entire week my eyes were in crisis. Too much light was driving me mad.

Snow blindness is a painful, temporary loss of vision due to overexposure to the sun’s UV rays. The medical term for snow blindness is photokeratitis (“photo” = light; “keratitis” = inflammation of the cornea). Essentially, snow blindness is caused by a sunburned eye — or more specifically, a sunburned cornea.

Oh, great, I thought. That’s the end of that practice! Besides, it’s a practice supposed to be only used by ophthalmologists, but has been increasingly used by optometrists.

So, here I am. I’ve been taking nutrition in the hopes of reversing the damage. I know that CBD products are supposed to help glaucoma, and that’s the direction I prefer to take, rather than having more drug intervention possibly causing more damage to my eye(s).

As a wine writer, I’m occasionally queried by a companies with CBD products, since the segue is part of the natural world. This latest company is called OleoLife. Why not? I thought. I’ve been thinking about CDB to get me out of this mess I’m in with my eyesight.

The following is my journey with OleaLife. It’s worth sharing as just my own private experiment. Everyone is on his or her own journey. This is mine, just for an unscientific point of reference. Let’s see where this goes, I was thinking…

My Personal Journey and Experiment 

with Oleo Passion Fruit Rooibos Tea (Cafeine free)

It began with seeing a blue light, in my right eye, when I would newly focus on something. I looked it up… Pre-retina tear. I kept quiet about it, and upped my nutrition prescribed to me by my sister for other symptoms of other nagging this and that…. (She’s an RN and nutritionist with several, nationally credited certifications in nutrition.)

Then, for the last six months, I noticed a dotted concentric circle, broken in many places, but a couple of rings existed of those rights, most especially in my right eye, but to a lesser degree in my left. I finally told my sister about it and she got me onto some Iplex. It kept my eyes from further deterioration… They began to stabilize and then my left eye lost the one circle, the right eye lost its second ring. My right eye was healing ever so slowly. I finally got myself to my eye doctor… A new one and a female. She was very concerned and wanted me to go to an ophthalmologist. She was going to have him call me, but he never did. (I really don’t have good luck with male doctors… my whole life. Women? Just fine. Men? I have stories.)

I was aware of CBD oil; and, of course, I wondered. What if?

I was queried by Oleo to sample their products, and I had nothing to lose at this point. I accepted. The following is my journal of starting Oleo. Let’s see what happens. Let’s see if I even publish this for others with diagnosed Glaucoma.

October 19 ~ One scoop to start, even though two is recommended. I find anything I take needs to be cut into half. What’s a recommended dosage is intended for all sizes of people… from my 125 pounds to someone who could be 300 pounds. I usually end up shaking. So, lately, I’m just going to be cutting back, until I see  how I feel. I’m now almost through my cup of tea with Oleo added, and my eyes have stopped burning.

This morning, when I opened my eyes, the circular orbit of segmented white light that I pick up over the night, was only slightly visible… taking another herbal product, which does get me shaking a bit to take, even though I’ve cut that one back to half.  Let’s see where this experiment goes…

October 19 – Later in the day, the second recommended scoop.

October 20 – When I awoke in the morning, the concentric circles had diminished by a half. Could it actually be? And this swiftly? Two scoops, spaced out, again.

October 21 – When I awoke, I could only see a pinprick. I added 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric to my morning tea. Two scoops, spaced out, again.

October 22 -23 – Only a slight sliver of light was there, and faded really quickly throughout the day.

October 24 – Just a bit longer line, than the two days before, but something else quite notable was happening. I awoke this morning with my eyes tearing. Eye don’t tear with glaucoma. That’s what’s causing the pressure in one’s eyes… the fact that tears aren’t able to happen, keeping out eyes moist.

October 25 – Tears again this morning… Thanks the God of Sight in heaven. The light image? Nothing, absolutely nothing.  nothing.

  • To go from having these circles present at 11:00 a.m. in my eyes
  • Follow the journey of beginning with my RN | nutritionist, and to have the light circles fade away earlier each day
  • To have the circle in my right eye disappear completely
  • Beginning Oleo on October 19, and seeing the light slivers in my left eye beginning to fade as of October 20
  • And today being October 25 and this morning to have nothing, and natural tears…
    • My lacrimal glands are also functioning again!… Oh my Thea! The Titan Eye God in Heaven!
    • As I brush away the natural tears from my eyes, I want to force myself to cry and just cry buckets.

My one step at a time approach for the past six months has slowly been repairing my eyes. CBD powder just put it through the roof. My next step is to get a medical marijuana license. CBD just became my new best friend.

After a month, I’ll come back with how it has been going. For now, I’m aghast… with naturally tearing eyes again!

About the Company

OLEO, Inc. is a biotechnology company thoughtfully designing fast-acting, water-soluble CBD products with purpose and intention for the active lifestyle community. OLEO offers a collection of powdered beverages infused with their active ingredient OleoCBD™, including an all-natural Coconut Water Mix, an antioxidant Rooibos Tea Mix, and a flavorless CBD powder called Original Mix.  OleoCBD™ is created with a patent-pending micro-encapsulation technology that masks any bitter aftertaste and showcases its effects within 20 minutes. With a provisional patent for the powdered cannabinoid formulation method filed in 2014, OLEO, Inc. was founded quickly thereafter in 2015 and began mass-producing micro-encapsulated cannabinoids for the hemp & cannabis markets by 2017. OLEO plays a tremendous role in the advancement of cannabinoid technology, testing standards, and consumer product offerings, helping to make the cannabinoid and plant medicine industry more trusted, beneficial and approachable for all.  Further clinical study results regarding micro-encapsulation to be released in 2018 as per the OLEO team’s research influence and efforts.



Food and Wine,Wine,Wine & Food,Wine Country

Sonoma County has a Culinary and Wine Paradigm Shift in Windsor, California

There are many winery principals, wine writers, and residents of Sonoma County, California, who have been wondering… When will Chinois Asian Bistro re-open? Chef and proprietor Debbie Shu shares the past and the future…

Chinos Asian Bistro, 186 Windsor River Road, debuted October 2008, as a contemporary Pacific Rim dining concept, by owner and restaurateur Debbie Shu. Chinois (pronounced as “Shin-wah,” French for Chinese) focused on traditional Chinese and South East Asian cuisine; namely from Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Thailand. Debbie’s culinary background: she graduated from San Francisco State University, having earned a Bachelor of Science degree. She went on to attend the California Culinary Academy (CCA), an affiliate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in San Francisco.

On June 24, 2018, Debbie Shu’s Chinois Asian Bistro experienced a catastrophic flood. This unexpected happening, while waiting for renovation to begin, created un-thought-of opportunities for not one, but two famed chefs, including Debbie’s own story:

  • During down time from Chinois, with 10 successive Michelin star recommendations and 10 similar Zagat ratings,” Debbie began to reflect on her true passion of cooking with a more varied menu. As her catering side continued to expand, she also found herself really enjoying being more free to travel, cooking her own creations (versus traditional family recipes), loving the independence, and thriving on a more personal level with new groups of people.

Because Debbie is well-known, word of mouth traveled regarding the flood and reconstruction.

Important to note: Debbie Shu has admired Sunee Sopant’s culinary successes, since Sunee has operated Thai restaurants in the Sonoma Valley, beginning in 1989. It’s both the flavors of Sunee’s Thai cuisine and her positive background that Debbie has enjoyed over the years.

  • Sunee Sopant ~ Culinary background of operating successful for the last 24 years.
    • Opened her first restaurant in Sonoma Valley, in 1994 to high acclaim.
    • Then she opened 599 Thai Cafe.
    • Most recently she owned Bangkok 9, also in Sonoma Valley.

With a desire for a new challenge in the Windsor area, and given that Chinois is in the beginning process of being completely rebuilt, perhaps Debbie would consider an opportunity for both of them? If one doesn’t ask, one will never know, and so Sunee asked Debbie. After careful consideration and much soul searching, Debbie Shu agreed to allow Sunee Sopant to be the new restaurateur at the Chinois Asian Bistro location. Meanwhile, Debbie plans to help Sunee settle into her new location as an ambassador for a few months, travel more as a personal chef and caterer, and enjoy all that life will bring to her in her new life’s chapter.

Sunee Sopant: “I’m very excited to be part of the reconstruction for Debbie’s Shu’s restaurant location. It will be reflecting my own design and cuisine. It’s just a great opportunity for me to introduce the flavors of Khum Koon Thai Cafe to the Windsor area.”

Debbie will also be helping Sunee in the reconstruction for what Sunee envisions, as Debbie is also the owner of this building. “Both of us want each other’s business ventures to be very successful. I not only look forward to a refreshing, new start, but I also want to see Sunee continue to keep this restaurant location as one held in high esteem.


Italy,Jo's World,Sangiovese,Tuscany,Wine,Wine Book,Wine Business,Wine Making,Winemaker,Winemaking,Winery,Wines,Wne and Food

Castello di Meleto: Gaiole in Chianti – Tuscany, The Adventure Begins with a View From the Bluest Sky

[PHOTO: Antonia Caserta of Castello di Meleto. All other images in this story were taken by Jo Diaz]

Day 1 – Flew into Rome as a guest of both

…as part of a wine and food professional group, assembled by Michael (Mick) Yurch of the Bluest Sky Group.

Day 2 – After settling into the Golden Tulip Hotel in Rome at the airport, and now needing some real food [versus airline], I was greeted by Marco in the hotel’s restaurant. Their cucina is outstanding. I ordered just enough to satisfy my curiosity and hunger. Because Mick wasn’t there yet, I was continuing to read my Tasting The Past book, by Kevin Begos. It was sent to me for review by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill in New York. I had skipped ahead to Part 2, Chapter 11. “Italy, Leonardo, and Natural Wine.”  It couldn’t have been more timely. And, it couldn’t have been more helpful. This book I’ll be reviewing in more depth shortly. Meanwhile, if you would like to get down to some really ancient history of winemaking, like 8,000 years ago, anyone who loves history and wine – you’ve just got to get this book into your library. No library is complete without Tasting The Past, seriously.

Great job, Kevin Begos! One of the best books I’ve read on the history of wine, ever; and I have a pretty impressive library for my 26 years of reading, writing, and educating about wine… Tasting The Past: The Science of Flavor & The Search For The Origins of Wine is so complete and told in such a charming, easy to enjoy manner, you won’t be able to put the book down, until you tuck it onto your “history” section of your wine book library.

I was about to begin an eight-day adventure with experiences to last a lifetime. Boston’s celebrated wine writer Dr. Michael Apstein was also part of this merry band of visitors.

Our first dinner [pictured below], at Castello di Meleto, also included the famed wine educator and author Kevin Zraly, who was on tour in Italy, promoting the latest edition of Windows on the World Complete Wine Course: Revised, Updated & Expanded Edition. [This is another book I’m going to be reviewing.] Amazon

From Kevin’s Website: In 2018 Kevin Zraly begins his 42nd year of teaching the Advanced & Master Wine Classes.

With over 20,000 graduates, Kevin Zraly’s Wine School was named “The Best Wine School” in New York City by New York Magazine.

It was Michael Apstein who said to me, and I nodded in agreement, “Do you realize there are people attending the Napa Valley Wine Auction, who will spend a small fortune to do what we’re doing right now, as guests of these wine companies? The entire staff will all come out to meet and greet them, and here we are, just being.” At the time we were having a five course dinner, all presented to us as if we were royalty, each course with it’s appropriate matching wine. Our hosts from Castello di Meleto:

  • Winemaker Matteo Menicacci
  • Agronomo/enologist Giovanni Maria Farina
  • Sales Manager Michele Contartese
  • Our guide for this experience Antonia Caserta, the international sales manager for Castello di Meleto

All were joining us at our private dinner in a this large [pictured] dining room at the castle.

Day 2 – off to Castello di Meleto in Gaiole, Chianti, in the region of Tuscan. I had the honor to stay at this Castello, so I could learn all about it, and then tell my own story. Such an amazing experience. The YouTube video below brings goose bumps, memories, and insights for me, and perhaps for you, as I recreate my own still photography, too. There will be many more stores about Castello di Meleto wines… I was there to learn about the wines they’re growing and making, but it’s impossible not to first talk about their history, culture, and terroir.

In this video, I was a guest on the second floor; and, in this video I not only see my bedroom window, but I also – and so are you – able to see all that spread before me. What a view, what a lovely experience, and what fabulous wines from this terroir.

As for the history of Castello di Meleto, it was built in 1200s for Benedictine Monks. I slept where they slept, I looked out of the portals where guns were placed to fight off the invasion of crusaders from Siena, wanting to overtake the castle, I meditated in their tiny chapel, finding peace and enlightenment. Really, it was an opportunity of a lifetime to tell amazing stories, with plenty of wine to bless each moment.

Day 2 will continue. This was just the begging of my Tuscan adventure… Next, I’ll pair the dishes with the wines. Sincerely, Signed Rapunzel (who had already let down and cut off her own hair)

YouTube video by Avvenice.


Cupramontano,Italy,Tuscany,Wine,Wine Ed,Wine Education,Wine Gift,Wine Samples

When a Wine Lover and Electronic Geek Collide, it’s got to be a Kelvin

As a wine writer, I’m occasionally queried about trying samples of new products that hit the marketplace. This is one of those stories.

[Both the Kelvin K2 and and the delicious Barrel Road Red Blend are samples in this story.]

It all began in early September:

Hi Jo:

I’m hoping that I can send you a Kelvin K2 to review.  The Kelvin K2 is a smart wine thermometer with Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connectivity.  It combines the recent advances in aerial technology to send the temperature information to a smartphone (often from the inside of a refrigerator).  The free iOS or Android app then monitors the wine as it chills and provides as much or as little information needed to get the best from every bottle of wine.  Ask any wine expert, and they will tell you that wine taste is made up of a combination of numerous key elements, each of which is dramatically (and uniquely) affected by temperatures – so it makes sense that any wine is only at its best at the correct, recommended serving temperature.  mykelvin.co.uk

Hum… I’m not an Android geek, barely turning my phone on – for emergencies only – but I’m living with one. And I’m a bit of a wine geek; perhaps I could combine the two and come up with a new adventure?

Hi, Robin,

Sure, you can send one to me. With the holidays coming up, gadgets are always a fun blog story, especially when they’re this unique and techno…

When the Kelvin arrived, Jose saw me open the package:

He: Whatcha got?

She: A Kelvin Smart Wine Thermometer

He: Can I see?

She: Sure

He took over, faster than a Puerto Rican Second

A Puerto Rican second is faster than the speed of light, making a New York minute look like a millennial of time… Jose was born in Puerto Rico, brought to the US, and raised in both the Bronx and Manhattan. So, I’ve seen it all for the last 40+ years, and feel confident that I can define a Puerto Rican Second. This new gadget instantly became his new best friend.

Jose followed the directions, after choosing the wine he was going to open. It was room temp, so it was easy to begin:

  1. Turned on the Kelvin Band and clipped it to the bottle.
  2. He downloaded “Kelvin K2 from an app store. (The Ks connected to his app automatically and then showed up on his Dick Tracey watch.)
    • Anticipation and excitement followed.
    • I was also fascinated.
  3. He selected the wine style, as it read room temp of 81 degrees – quite warm, late summer day.
  4. He put the bottle in the refrigerator [above photo], as described. Kelvin calibrated it in just five minutes, as the instructions claimed.
    • Then he just monitored it until it was the perfect temperature. [Image to the right with 64 degrees.]
    • Yes, we totally “got it.”


He did just what Kelvin claimed would happen… He completely “unlocked the full flavors of the wine.” It was delicious and smooth, as if we had pulled it from a wine cellar, with the caveat that the Kelvin will function even better than a wine cellar before the opening of a bottle. Why? Because each wine has its own optimal wine temperature preferences… Most whites are slightly more chilled, to be really enjoyed at their best; versus a red wine, better performing at a wine cave temp of 55F to 60F degrees.

Your app gives you so much more than just the signaling that your bottle is at it’s optimal best, too.

  • Tasting notes
  • Food pairings
  • Glassware guide
  • Wine facts to impress
  • Common label terms
  • And you’ll dare to expand your palate with new wine varieties


So, I was just in Italy, gratis of Mick Yurch of Bluest Sky Group. I now have many stories to share of being at Castello di Meleto in Chianti  and Colonarra Viticultori in Cupramontana… This one relates to a Kelvin conversation, and is worth sharing, because it relates to New York retailer Daniel Posner of Grapes The Wine Company, located in White Plains, New York… another wine  and techno geek.

I asked Daniel if he has any items in his store, besides wine. (Just curious.) No, he doesn’t, but I still explained why I had asked. I told him about Kelvin K2 and I saw his heart skip a beat, as his eyes opened wide. “It does what?” he asked.

I’ve already ordered one for him as a thank you, because he was looking out for me as I dropped behind on all tours, while taking copious images. I know I’m spreading more joy in the wine gadget department, and now Kelvin is going to be really fun for him, too. (It’s now my go-to gift for When a Wine Lover and Electronic Geek Collide.)

If you’ve got a wine lover, who’s also very techno geeky, this is better than giving diamonds to him or her, seriously.

Image: Jose and friend Sue Straight, The Wine Wench. This made Sue’s visit with us pretty memorable, just as it claims to do. Although, instead of “wine facts to impress,” it was “wine gadgets to impress a fellow wine geek” this time.

Either way, it’s win-win… Or, in this case, wine-wine… Ciao!




Rare Rant,Wine,Winery,Wines

I’m so old that… Boutique Winery Just Doesn’t Cut It

I remember poodle skirts, bouffant hair, cotton candy, putrid pink, heavy perfume, and it all came under the word “boutique.”

That word – boutique – is now fingernails screeching down a blackboard, so when you call your winery a “boutique” winery…

Artisan, it’s so sophisticated… It lets the listener know that you take yourself craft seriously, there’s a great deal of worldly experience, knowledge of the process, with a cultured mind creating the end result.

Please no more “boutiques wineries,” please, please, please.

When a winery’s called “artisan,” that makes it crystal clear that there’s an artist on board; someone who’s devoted to his or her craft, and only the best will do. He or she is not focused on pleasing the entire universe with flavors, aromas and/or oddities that are over the top. Artisan wineries have devoted, cult followers. Quality over quantity reigns. When you read this, does ’boutique’ make any sense at all in this equation?

Maybe I just have PTSD?

Maybe it’s because I grew up in a time when my mother bathed herself in Faberge before going out with my dad. It was a time when beehive hairdos and poodle skirts were in… (We even had a poodle named “Pepe.”) Patent leather pocketbooks and mink stoles… All images of a time when someone went to a boutique salon to buy all those kitschy things.

You can do your own thing. It’s America, after all… Just know that you won’t find that adjective in anything I write, except for this story. Unless, of course… someone really does have one…

In that case, I’d have to tell the truth. Better yet, I just won’t write about a “boutique,” including yours as so described, even if you use and love the word.


Clarksburg,PR Advice,PS I Love You,Public Relations,Wine

Honoring Each and Every Person Within a Wine Company ~ Great Public Relations

This is worth sharing, because it’s exemplary. It demonstrates that there are those within the wine business who care deeply for the people who are also caring for their businesses.

This story celebrates Lizz Castillo, a young woman who’s worked very hard in the wine business to get where she is, and is going to be working even harder in the next chapter of her professional growth. Our vineyard directors (of one position or another) are unsung heroes. In my mind, it’s a time to honor women who have gone after what they’ve wanted and have succeeded. I admire this young woman, as much as I admire Steve and Mike Heringer.


Heringer Estates ~ Vineyard and Winery

It came in an email, and I stashed it for this very moment. It was shared by my friends at Heringer Estates ,located in Clarksburg. When I began PS I Love You, the advocacy group for Petite Sirah, Steve Heringer was one of the very first growers to join. He didn’t even had a wine brand, yet. That was to come in the future. He did, however, understand the importance of supporting an advocacy group, which would ultimately help him to grow. Steve Heringer wanted to support the effort. He was even president of our board of directors in the early years. I watched his company grow to where he also created his own brand and then brought in his son Steve to help his family grow. I’ve been able to watch his family business grow, and it’s heartwarming. I’ve come into his database for sharing. This was such good news. I’m going to share it, too, because this young lady deserves the spotlight for so many reasons, I can’t even list them all.

What’s important is her voice, through her content.

It’s great public relations and it’s heartwarming


It is with mixed emotions that I inform you all of my departure from the role of Vineyard & Winery Relations Coordinator with Heringer Estates. As some of you may already know, I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the Master’s program of Viticulture and Enology with UC Davis, which requires me to shift my focus to my academic career. I will still be with the Heringer family but in a much more behind-the-scenes role. While I am excited for this new chapter, I am also saddened by the idea of leaving this position behind. You are all such amazing people who have shown me nothing but kindness, and for that, I am grateful. I hope that our paths cross again in the future.

Please rest assured that you are all still in great hands. Winemaker Mike Heringer and Cellar Assistant Brittany Leininger will both be stepping in to assist you with harvest logistics, grape sales, and bulk wine needs. Your contact email and phone number will remain the same. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this transition, please feel free to call or email us, so we may help you to the best of our ability.

Many thanks,

Lizz Castillo

From the Heringer Website ~ Who They Are

Family farming together since 1868 in Clarksburg, CA

A sense of place is embodied in every Heringer Estates wine. The family honors its agricultural legacy through sustainable stewardship of the land, while embracing the excitement of today and the promise of the future with over 24 different grape varieties that are grown and created for you. From our family to yours we toast to your celebrations, your small get-togethers, and even your quiet times.  We toast to you!


Beaujolais,France,Viticulture,Wine,Wine Chemistry,Wine Country,Wine Culture,Wine Importer,Wine Making,Wine of the Week,Winemaker,Winemaking,Winery,Wines

Beaujolais News from Georges Dubœuf ~ Beautiful Grapes and Magnificent Vines

I’ve had communications with Georges Dubœuf’s wine company. I’ve had a very insightful phone interview with Franck. For two years in a row, I received a bottle of their Celebration of Beaujolais Day — Beaujolais Nouveau — each year with a very festive, very fun tie to celebrate. They’re so cool.  Quintessential is their exclusive US Importer, and so when a newly released wine goes out, Georges Dubœuf arrives back at my door. Sometimes, like right now, it’s just Email news. I pay attention. Today, I loved this news… Good news for Beaujolais; it’s worth sharing.

From Beaujolais, France

Beautiful grapes and magnificent vines ~ everything’s in top form!

Since January, Beaujolais has been enjoying near-perfect weather conditions: a glut of sunshine, especially this summer, and just the right amount of rain to allow the vines to pass through each cycle smoothly and calmly. And although the summer dry spell is starting to show, the health of the vines remains excellent. The leaves are green and healthy, allowing the grapes to ripen beautifully.

The vines flowered wonderfully and very quickly (six days instead of 10, on average), ending on June 3 – three days earlier than in 2017.

After a hot and sunny June, the grape clusters closed, around the 27th of June, like in 2011.

On average, they started to colour on the June 23, two days earlier than in 2017.

On Tuesday August 28, we brought the first grapes of the season into our winery. Analysis revealed

  • Huge sugar content, between 12° and 13.4°
  • Low acidity between 4.7 and 5.5g/l
  • pH levels hovering between 3.22 and 3.34.
  • As for the colour, we’ve been seeing an uptick in anthocyanins* this week, and it should keep up as long as the beautiful weather holds.

*Anthocyanins (also anthocyans; from Greek: ἄνθος (anthos) “flower” and κυάνεος/κυανοῦς kyaneos/kyanous “dark blue”) are water-soluble vacuolar pigments that, depending on their pH, may appear red, purple, or blue. Wikipedia

The harvest is continuing under the summer heat, with temperatures of 90°F during the day and cool nights to let the grapes reach their peak maturity for the harvest. It looks like the good weather is set to continue over the next fortnight, so everything’s pointing to an excellent 2018 for the Beaujolais !

There have been a series of early harvests recently with 2009, 2011, 2018, 2017 and now 2018.  These have consistently led to high quality wines, and it’s looking like 2018 might top them all.

Up until now, at least, these ideal conditions have given our winemakers a certain peace of mind this year. We’re looking at an exquisite vintage both in terms of quantity and quality, from the South to the North of Beaujolais.  The weather and the seasons are working with us this year. Now it’s up to the winemakers, oenologists, cellar masters and all the teams to capture the charm of this beautiful vintage.






Books,Education,Rosé,Wine,Wine Book,Wine Education,Wine Writer,Wines

DRINK PINK: A Guide to the World’s Best Rosés ~ by Larry & Ann Walker

PHOTO: Pamela Klein of her new novel 17 Dresses, which is referenced below in my lead-in part of Larry and Ann Walker’s newly released book  A Guide to the World’s Best Rosés.

A Guide to the World’s Best Rosés ~ by Larry & Ann Walker is a Gap-filling Rosé book; it’s timely, comprehensive, and fun. I’m delighted for Larry Walker and his wife Ann Walker. Now I know why he disappeared for a bit.

My friend Pamela Klein just received her first hot-off-the-press copy of 17 Dresses. Pamela and I were just chatting about that it took six years to get her fiction from start to a finished book in her hand. I remember meeting in her San Juan Puerto Rico n 2015, as one of my Facebook friends. We had a great time, she moved back to the LA area, Hurricane Maria has happened, now her book is released. That’s like a lifetime… Six years for her. Larry and Ann… you scamps!

Larry and I spent many years working together, because he’s a wine writer/reviewer and I’m a wine publicist. He was a valuable contact for my wine brands. I actually thought he had retired. I’d see things pop up occasionally, but it didn’t seem to return to where it was pretty quite often. Now I know… now we all know. Larry and Ann have given birth to their project.

PHOTO: Board and Bench Publishing

The New Pink Wine: A Guide to the World’s Best Rosés,

published by Board and Bench Publishing

They now have got “writing duo” on their list of accomplishments. Larry and Ann are obliging the rapidly expanding US set of rosé devotees, with their timely new buyers’ guide. And the authors bear a message for these new American enthusiasts. Pink wine tastes just as good in December as it does in July.

As the US Rosé market heats up,  authors Larry and Ann Walker offer a “how-to” manual for the coming revolution.

For one, pink wine is arguably the most food friendly wine.

“While doing the tasting for this book,” says Larry Walker, “it became apparent that rosé is a more versatile wine with food than either red or white. Even though we were already big fans of pink wine, we were constantly surprised by how well the wines covered all bases.”

“It has the ability to shape itself to the food on the plate, unlike, say, Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay, which are locked into a fairly narrow flavor profile. Dry rosé has a much wider profile.”

The Walkers are true foodies, and it shows. Included are a dozen exotic recipes from regions where pink wine has been drunk for millennia.

The New Pink Wine is the only rosé buyer’s guide in print, featuring over 200 wines from around the globe, with tasting notes written in a style that “conveys a sense of genuine pleasure rarely encountered in wine writing these days,” says Norm Roby author of The Connoisseurs’ Handbook of California Wine.

Additional features include:

  • Pink Primer: rosé history, and methods employed to make pink wine.
  • Pink Profiles: Discussions with producers from the U.S.A., France, Iberian Peninsula, South Africa, and beyond.
  • A case of quality for value.
  • Wines and Producers Indexes for easy in-store selection.

~ Endorsements ~

Norm Roby, contributing editor for Wine Spectator and Decanter magazines, and author of The Connoisseurs’ Handbook of California Wine

“Reading this book is like welcoming an old friend, someone fun to hang out with who also has tons of information and first-hand experiences to share. They must have checked out every known rosé. Some are truly rare. And the wine descriptions are detailed but also convey a sense of genuine pleasure rarely encountered in wine writing these days.”

Steve Burns, President of Wine Market Council and co-founder of O’Donnell Lane, LLC.

“The New Pink Wine couldn’t be more timely, comprehensive or fun. Wine lovers’ enjoyment of rose has never been higher and as the category blossoms into a year-around phenomenon this book will help everyday wine drinkers and aficionado’s alike navigate the vast array of delicious roses’ coming from all over the world.”

Final thought: There are a lot of “pink” books out there. I’ve read a few lately. Each one brings a different perspective. What I love about this duo activity is Larry’s longevity in wine. There’s lots of history with some very important Rose producers, from around the world via their world travels. Names that you’ll come to know, via reading this lovely book. Couple that with Ann’s area of expertise for cooking, this is a total package: history, present, and the future of your own rose wine and culinary pairings, with her exotic recipes, from regions where pink wine has been enjoyed, especially for millennia.

[PHOTO: Ekaterina Molchanova]


Oregon,Pinot Noir,Wine,Winemaker,Winemaking,Winery

When a Winemaker Writes Poetic Literature ~ Carpe Noctem

[PHOTO: from Eric Eide, Diaz Communications wine client]

As a wine publicist, there are many times when writing technical data introductions are required. Winemakers, after all, have little time to be crafting their own messages. In some instances, however, someone who uses his or her right brain (creative side) is as natural as using her or his left brain (logical side).

I marvel at winemaker Eric Eide (pronounced as ID), of Aberrant Cellars.

Part of Eric’s autobiography:

The secret of getting ahead is getting started ~ ​Mark Twain

A defining moment came in January 2008, while traveling through France, on an annual pilgrimage with my employer. At the time, we were visiting and tasting new releases, for the wineries that we represented. More specifically, it was while listening to Messrs. Claude Dugat and neighboring vigneron Christian Serafin. These two heralded Gevrey-Chambertin producers, for whom I have immense respect and admiration, talked candidly about the challenges each faced, with the newly released 2006 vintage.

When I read this about him, I instantly knew I’d love working with him, and have been for a couple of years now.

I just edited the following technical data sheet into. As I spent time editing, I realized that this is such a great philosophical read. I’m going to share it with you. It’s  extraordinary poetic literature, and demonstrates his complex, well-balance capabilities; i.e., it’s a great story… And truth be told, he makes extraordinary wines, too. His critical acclaim proves that to be true. It’s very easy to promote his wines, with this information as the lead into offering his wines as a sample to “taste.”

Want to Taste This Adventure?

Carpe Noctem ~ Willamette Valley PINOT NOIR 2015

[PHOTO Purchased]


Carpe Noctem {Seize the Night}: Some activities simply seem better suited for when darkness falls, and our animal spirits are once again awakened from daytime temperance. In addition to those[!], pulling the cork to this evocative wine should be placed toward the top of the list. Spawning from the first choice of the cellar, through a methodical process of barrel by barrel selection, we hone in on distinct characteristics sought in every vintage: deep and sensuous, structured and carnal, graceful enough to walk the high-wire of balance, and the vitality to disco many nights yet to come. As the name suggests, one can easily get lost in its magnitude, much like the evening’s wake. For those up to the task, carpe diem and then Carpe Noctem!


Our raison dêtre is to capture, and ultimately bottle, an elusive element of the profound. We strive by diligently following the practice of “making” as much of our wines, while the clusters are still hanging on the vines. Carefully chosen hill-side sites provide for naturally lower yields and attentive farming, throughout the season. This culls out any lingering mediocrity. Finally, a last, ruthless pass through every row of every parcel, by the winemaker, cuts out any remaining “critter clusters” that will be left lying on the vineyard’s ground just prior to the start of harvest. We go to these lengths in the vineyards, so once gravity forces the clusters into the awaiting fermenters, our approach can be focused exclusively on coaxing all of the hidden secrets during fermentations. Adaptive technique, matched to the peculiarities of the vintage, allows for a truer expression to be captured within a given year. This absolute commitment ensures that Noctem will be the pinnacle offering under Aberrant Cellars. Where nature allows us to garner a small portion of her beauty, we attempt to relay that message, via our individual dialect, in an integral and provocative manner as is possible.