Brut,Bubbly,Bubbly Wine,Italy,Prosecco,Sparkling,Wine

Romeo and Juliet Prosecco, the Angst and the Sparkle, in The World of Wine ~ Italy

[IMAGE by Wiesław Jarek : VERONA, ITALY – MAY 1, 2016: Part of the wall covered with love messages in Juliet’s house, Verona, Italy]

SAMPLE: The following is a springtime-worthy (heck – all year-worthy) wine, delivered from Famiglia Pasqua and the vineyards of the Veneto region, in northeast Italy.


  1. HEART ~ THE WINERY: info is coming from the company’s own statements.
    1. I can’t make up their history
    2. Nor am I gong to trying
  3. SOUL ~ SAMPLE ~ Jo Diaz Musings

I’m happy to have sparkling wine of any kind, from any region, because I crave it with any food… including my Kriptonite potato chips.

When you hear a cork pop, isn’t there a bit of a thrill for you, too?

I love pouring it down the side of a flute… ever… so… slowly. I don’t want to lose one tiny bubble to pouring it in haste. I want every bubble I can get. Bring them on.

[PHOTO Mykola Kokaryev: Juliet balcony in courtyard of the museum. Verona, Italy]

Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Bianco 2017


Pasqua Vigneti e Cantine is an historic winery that produces high quality Veneto and Italian wines and one of the main players in the Italian and international wine market. A family passion. A century long history. The history of Pasqua Vigneti e Cantine begins in 1925, when the first generation of the Pasqua brothers came to Verona and established a new business devoted to the trade of wines from their homeland, Apulia. From wine trade and retail, they decided to become a real winery. In a few years, with the acquisition of new vineyards in the Verona area, the company progressively gained importance and visibility.

During the 60’s, the second generation of the family entered the business, bringing about an opening to export and an orientation toward quality. The constitution of Cecilia Beretta in the 80s, the agricultural estate and innovative research centre for vines, grafting techniques and vineyards, is the symbol of the family’s constant quest for excellence.

When the third generation, composed by Riccardo, Alessandro, Cecilia and Giovanni, started to lead the company, the international market orientation boosted to a peak in 2009, with the foundation of Pasqua Usa LLC in New York. The company now sells wines in 50 countries worldwide.


This sparkling wine was made using the Charmat method, and produced by using the wine grape Glera; a variety native to the Treviso area. In this land there are the best soils and weather conditions, ensuring a wine with unique characteristics. It is a vivacious and fresh wine that’s versatile and quaffable, and suitable for any occasion.

From Wine Folly:

“The [Charmat] tank method came about during the industrial advancements made in the early 20th century and is the main process used for Prosecco and Lambrusco wines. The major difference between the tank method and the traditional method is the removal of the individual bottle as the vessel used to turn a still wine into a sparkling one. Instead, base wines are added together with the sugar and yeast mixture (Tirage) into a large tank. As the wine has a second fermentation, the CO2 released from the fermentation causes the tank to pressurize, whereafter wines are then filtered, dosed (with Expedition liqueur) and bottled without aging.”


The preparations, mentioned above, are not lost on this Prosecco. Glera is a decidedly productive grape variety, which ripens late in the season. It’s know for its generous acidity, and a pretty neutral flavors on our palates, making it really ideal for Prosecco’s production. Glera’s aromatic profile is also characterized by the mild, white peach. I enjoyed a bit of the usual lemon curd flavor of sparkling wines, and then it finished with its refreshingly vibrant bubbles.

This wine deserves a bit of dialogue, taken from Act II, Scene 2, Capulet’s orchard. It’s just so perfect, as I envision a white peach orchard:


I am no pilot; yet, wert thou as far
As that vast shore wash’d with the farthest sea,
I would adventure for such merchandise.

Yes, this one is worth looking for, for any romantic adventure, which you can have any day of the week… just by popping the cork, and writing your own happy ending ~ like I just have. This sparkling Prosecco is the happy ending version of Romeo and Juliet, that Shakespeare didn’t have the opportunity to write.



American Red Cross,Award,California,Humanitarian,Sonoma,Sonoma County,Sustainability,Wine

When His Main Goal is Sustainability of Human Beings… first and foremost

It’s so gratifying to hear someone say, “I have an idea,” and then to see it take shape. If you get to know Ron Rubin, you’ll see his myriad of ideas take shape… I can’t even count them anymore; he’s like the energizer bunny!

On Saturday, May 2, 2019, the Sonoma County Vintners Association bestowed upon Ron Rubin their Sonoma County Barrel Auction 2019 Innovator Award. Presented to Ron, this award is because of Ron Rubin’s outstanding commitment to the community, by virtue of its broad support of vital, sustainable community needs, through its AED TRAINED FOR “SAVING LIVES” program.

Ron Rubin ~ Ron Rubin Winery

After experiencing a rapid heartbeat ventricular tachycardia, Ron Rubin was saved by a defibrillator. He then made it his personal mission to pay it forward, and launched the TRAINED FOR “SAVING LIVES” program. In collaboration with the American Red Cross and ZOLL Medical Corporation, Ron Rubin has covered the cost of one ZOLL® AED Plus® (Automated External Defibrillator), to 104 wineries throughout Sonoma County.

The Innovator Awards acknowledges outstanding Sonoma wine industry achievers and achievements. 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. Sonoma County Vintners represents over 200 wineries throughout the county. They actively promote Sonoma County through educational programming; advocate for vintners at local, state, and federal levels. They also contribute to local communities through their charitable Sonoma County Vintners Foundation. Sonoma County Wine Auction, their annual fundraiser, has raised over $30 million benefiting non-profit organizations, throughout the region.

This is Ron Rubin’s fourth such award in recognition of his humanitarian effort, through TRAINED FOR “SAVING LIVES.” According to Ron Rubin,

“I’m very honored to have received this Sonoma County Vintner’s Innovator Award. My TRAINED FOR “SAVING LIVES” program is an effort to have Sonoma County wineries provide the safest and most sustainable environment, for staff, families, and consumers, alike. When people visit Sonoma County wineries, their health and safety are very important.”

  • Sonoma County Vintners Association bestowed upon Ron Rubin their 2019 Innovator Award. Presented to Ron, this award is due to Ron Rubin’s outstanding commitment to the community, by virtue of its broad support of vital, sustainable community needs, through its AED TRAINED FOR “SAVING LIVES” program.
  • LuxeSF (formerly the Luxury Marketing Council of San Francisco) named Ron Rubin’s TRAINED FOR “SAVING LIVES” program worthy their 2019 Rising Wine Stars Award, “Service to The Community.”
  • The Sonoma County Winegrape Commission’s 2018 Spirit of Sonoma Award, honoring individuals who contribute to the economic development and enhancement of the communities in which they live, work, and conduct business, through donations of their time and expertise in support of local business and in helping others.
  • North Bay Business Journal’s 2018 Wine Industry + Spirits Awards; a special award specifically given to Ron for his outstanding commitment to the wine community, by donating these AEDs.

It’s really so gratifying to know a man who takes such delight, with dreams that are humanitarian based, as they’re actualized. Every time someone qualifies for an AED, his day is made. Once his goal is finally realized, with all 450 AEDs placed in California Wine Country, there will be not only a huge sigh of relief, but – no doubt – and a huge bottle of bubbly.

Creating sustainability is a forethought, for Ron Rubin, not an afterthought. He’s committed to putting people above all else. His TRAINED FOR “SAVING LIVES” program is just one such example that I’ve witnessed.




Brut,Bubbly,Bubbly Wine,Chianti,Chianti Classico,Flavors from the World of Wine,Food & Wine,Imports,Italy,Le Marche,Sangiovese,Tuscany,Wine

Italian Passeggiata ~ Still a Cultural Phenomenon and it Includes Foods and Wines

Honestly, our American culture, in this May of 2019, has so drastically changed from when I was, say, 5-years old, in Maine. This seems unreal to me, now, but I do remember the first TV that came into my home. My dad was an early adopter of electronic gadgets. We had the first TV in our neighborhood, and it just “took over.” The continuing developments… TV dinners, then T.V. trays, followed by instant rice, and all other food sources becoming bleached and packaged, and – T.A.D.A! – GMOs… and everyone eats in his or her own private space, a lot of the time, with a hand held gadget.

[PHOTO Jo Diaz: In Monsaraz, Portugal]

Let’s Go Off To Europe for a different view ~ Passeggiata, it’s so Italian and it does include wine!

I remember my first trip to Europe and how “at home” it felt. So many buildings are just ancient, built by invaders, in fact… (e.g., Vikings, Moors, and Romans)… Their ancestral culture is still well represented, wherever I went. There’s so much visual evidence, live and in person. It’s life altering… The industrial revolution didn’t penetrate into their neighborly passage of time. As a result, their culture of closeness, with each other, is still flourishing. It’s what has the center of their towns still buzzing with activities, with this being a long forgotten culture in “today’s” America.

Fast forward to now, Italy. Simply by the scheduling of eight days: four days in Tuscany, as a guest of Castello di Meleto in Gaiole ~ In the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany; and four days at Colonnara Viticultori in Cupramontana ~ in the Castelli di Jesi region of Le Marche. I was off and running to experience the Italian cultural name for what we were consistently going to be doing: passeggiata ~ pas·seg·gia·ta/ˌpasəˈjädə/

Before and after dinner in Italy, Italians… all Italians… go out for a passeggiata (short walk). And, it’s taken purely for pleasure, making for happier human beings. You see it in their relaxed faces and their healthier looking, body language. Italians might greet each other with an enthusiastic “ciao, ciao, ciao!” said very quickly, like our occasional “yeah, yeah, yeah’s.” Even the kids are out, while you – as an American – wonder, where are their parents?

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz in Fabriano, Italy, from my visit with Colonnara Viticultori.]

If you can’t get there and haven’t experienced this firsthand, watch some foreign films to see the more regular and calm lifestyle. They have purpose, plot development, and timing.  There’s also their iconic scenery, never lost on my eyes, with a few bottles of wine mixed into images, not as product placements, just a way of life.

Anyone watching foreign films has seen passeggiatas, perhaps never giving it a second thought. These images aren’t staged for historical perspective, though; they’re still just everyday life. Many Italians do it multiple times a day, typically after meals. People aren’t wearing stretchable, plastic clothing, and there are no pedometers. It’s just part of the day…

PHOTO: Left is Michele Contartese, sales director of Castello di Meleto. Right is wine writer Michael Apstein, from Boston.

My Passeggiata with Castello di Meleto, headed to Ristorante Guido

Just off  Piazza del Campo

After a busy day, which began with visiting vineyards belonging to Castello di Meleto, we then visited their winery and wine cellar. After copious note taking and absorbing the terroir, we then returned to the winery for lunch. Their tasting room offers delectable foods, prepared by the Castello’s staff, which had been feeding delicious and authentic foods to us during our stay. My colleagues and I were there to learn as much as we could about the world of Castello di Meleto, and this was our second to last day.

After lunch, we headed into the town of Sienna, for an afternoon of learning the culture of their largest town, close to the winery. Once arriving, we began what would eventually segue into a passeggiata.

As dusk fell, we headed to Ristorante Guido, for a food and wine dinner so delicious and abundant, with impeccable service, the flavors of the evening, from passeggiata to a veritable ringraziamento (thanksgiving).

This is an image of Ribollita; a soup that I’m now making regularly… Their tradition is to use their day old bread, as part of a delicious soup stock, enhanced by local vegetables. You have to forgive me with this one. It was half eaten by the time I realized I should have captured its essence.

This is a link to their menu, but let me give you an abbreviated version:

  • Selezione di affettati del Chianti con bruschette al pomodoro, patè di milza e carciofi sott’olio

    Selection of pork cold cuts from Chianti served with tomato croutons, brown crouton and artichokes in oil

  • Tortelli di gallina con crema di parmigiano e chips di topinambur

    Tortelli chicken with Parmesan cream and chips of Jerusalem artichoke

  • Duck breast with orange sauce

    Bocconcini di faraona con salsa all’uva

  • Baccalà fritto con verdure su cipolle rosse caramellate

    Fried cod with vegetables on stewed red onions

And, of course, we had wines to go with our selections:

Fratelli Berlucchi Brut 25, Franciacorta DOCG, Italy

We began with bubbles, to celebrate our gathering. Fresh, inviting, and tasty. What a scrumptious way to begin our meal.

The winery’s story tells it all.. I just now have to come up with the 25 reasons, now, why I love Italy (easy).

From their Website:

“The youngest in the serious Millésimé family is a fresh and frothing toast wishing to be different for the young and the young at heart. It need 25 months from the harvest to be ready to drink and… we shall have 25 good occasions to celebrate, 25 friends to share with, and 25 interesting things to do….”

Bricco dell’Uccellone by Braida

This Barbera was a dark, rich, red wine with tons of deliciously ripe cherry flavors. It was the one wine that perfectly matched my Ribollita. The heartiness of the soup, coupled with the spices and rich ripe cherries of the wine, I had a perfectly harmonious match and a perfect memory to bring back to California, so I could replicate… Così squisito (so exquisite).

From their Website:

“The Bricco dell’Uccellone  is made of 100% Barbera grapes, which come from North-West of Italy, where it’s originally located, so Piedmont origin. Braida is the nickname for Giuseppe Bologna: He was the founder of this company that is located in the north part of Piedmont. Now his sons and wife, both enologists, take care of the brand. The wine’s color is definitely a ruby red tending to garnet in some senses.”

The Brunello di Montalcino Biondi-Santi

It was so smooth and captivating, I was in a luxurious reverie enjoying this one, after all else, from our passeggiata, wonderful people, delicious foods, and fabulous wines. Brunello is the name of a wine, whose origin is  from the Montalcino region in Italy’s Tuscany. It’s a law that Brunellos must be made using 100 percent of the Sangiovese wine grape variety. The range of flavors are from strawberry to sensual cherry flavors.

From VinePair:

“When it comes to Tuscan wine, Sangiovese is king. Although the grape appears in many appellations of the region, that doesn’t mean all Tuscan reds taste the same. On the contrary, the region demonstrates just how different Sangiovese can taste from one appellation to the next. Terroir, climate, tradition, blending, and aging all affect the characteristics of Sangiovese wines, leading to endless exploration for Sangio lovers.”

From Christie’s:

“Established in the mid 1800s, Biondi-Santi is one of Italy’s greatest historic estates. While some might argue that Barolo is the king of Italian wines, when looking at the extraordinary balance, elegance and longevity of Biondi-Santi’s wines, there is a compelling argument that it is Brunello that deserves the crown. “

When we left the restaurant, we were all more than satisfied, and so we began our “after dinner” passeggiata… We all needed time to digest everything that had just happened, during our Tuscan Day. We needed the fresh air, the meandering walk back to the car, and the ride back to the Castello. This day was a memory of a lifetime, allowed by our gracious hosts. It also touched off what I did as a child… “doing something” after dinner, besides the dishes and getting sucked back into that box. We also killed AT&T television… good bye channels, I won’t be missing you, but I do miss Tuscany – forever more.

Michael Yurch of Bluest Sky Import Group, thank you, too.


Italy,Native Variety,Red Wine,Veneto,White Wine,Wine,Wine Century Club

The World of Wine ~ Romeo and Juliette, when you have an adventurous palate

SAMPLES: The following are two springtime-worthy wines, fresh from Famiglia Pasqua, and the vineyards of the Veneto region in northeast Italy.

“Pasqua” coincidentally means “Easter” in Italian – a fittingly wine for this coming Easter Sunday, è giusto?

The Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Rosso 2016 and the Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Bianco 2017 samples arrived together. Each has a suggested retail of $16.00, and are honestly really great value wines. They’re crafted from this leading Venetian wine company, located in Italy’s northeast, Veneto region; think Veneto, think Venice.

Romeo & Juliet… Verona is indelibly associated with one of the world’s most famous love stories. The story resonates still; every day around 3,000 messages are written on the 20-foot wall of Juliet’s house in Cappello Street. The label for Pasqua’s Romeo & Juliet wines features an eye-catching photo of that graffitied wall, shot by photographer Giò Martorana, with the PassioneSentimento wine name superimposed.

[PHOTO: Eugeniu Frimu ~ Daylight view to Venetian Lagoon and parked boats. People walking on sidewalk near colorful historic architecture buildings. Murano Island, Venice, Italy]

The Veneto Region, from Italia, the national agency of tourism: Veneto :

Situated in Italy’s northeast, Veneto extends from the Dolomites to the Adriatic Sea, by way of an expansive range of hills and a valley furrowed by rivers, canals, and the Po River Delta.

The typical scenery of Veneto’s coast is the Venetian lagoon, and, right on this very lagoon stands perhaps the most unique city in the entire world – Venice, visited by millions of tourists every year.


  1. HEART ~ THE WINERY: info is coming from the company’s own statements.
    1. I can’t make up their history
    2. Nor am I going to trying
  3. SOUL ~ SAMPLE ~ Jo Diaz Musings



Pasqua Vigneti e Cantine is an historic winery that produces high quality Veneto and Italian wines and one of the main players in the Italian and international wine market. A family passion. A century long history. The history of Pasqua Vigneti e Cantine begins in 1925, when the first generation of the Pasqua brothers came to Verona and established a new business devoted to the trade of wines from their homeland, Apulia. From wine trade and retail, they decided to become a real winery. In a few years, with the acquisition of new vineyards in the Verona area, the company progressively gained importance and visibility.

During the 60s, the second generation of the family entered the business, bringing about an opening to export and an orientation toward quality. The constitution of Cecilia Beretta in the 80s, the agricultural estate and innovative research centre for vines, grafting techniques and vineyards, is the symbol of the family’s constant quest for excellence.

When the third generation, composed by Riccardo, Alessandro, Cecilia and Giovanni, started to lead the company, the international market orientation boosted to a peak in 2009, with the foundation of Pasqua Usa LLC in New York. The company now sells wines in 50 countries worldwide.

DRYING GRAPES [PHOTO: Jo Diaz of Giovanni Maria-Farini, at Castello di Meleto]


The Veneto is synonymous with Amarone and its appassimento production technique. The drying of grapes to concentrate flavors and aromas, appassimento is an expensive process. To begin with, grapes must be hand-harvested, to avoid damage to the skins, and to enable a selection of bunches in which fruit is spaced more widely apart. Consider, too, that by the end of the 3-months drying process, the fruit will have lost up to 60 percent in volume; thus, many more grapes are needed to make Amarone than is the case for a “standard” red wine. The Pasqua family, however, had the startling idea of making a less expensive white and a red wine, in which grapes lose “only” 15-30 percent volume. Launched in 2014, close on 170,000 cases of Romeo & Juliet PassioneSentimento (Passion-Feeling) were sold in 2017 alone, with the U.S. representing about one-third of the total. Not bad in less than five years!


The preparations, mentioned above, are not lost on this wine.

Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Bianco 2017 ~ Believed to be the only dry (operative word, dry) white wine created by using the appassimento process. This wine is created with the Garganega, native variety. It was harvested by hand, early in the season: lower brix = lower alcohol. The grapes are first dried, for about two weeks. This concentrates aromas and flavors. Then the grapes are crushed, and allowed to macerate and for 12 hours. This process allows even more depth of flavors and structure, creating a very deliciously complex, white wine. One, one final touch… A segment of this wine is then ages in French oak for a few month. Then, the final blend is bottled, and you WANT to know what this one tastes like, if you have an adventurous palate. 

As beguiling as Juliette ever was, this wine’s bouquet reminds me of Mediterranean climate peaches and apricots, also delivering extraordinary citrus aromas, like Meyer lemons. Flavors are refreshing, well balanced and lingering, as the story of Romeo and Juliette still lingers a out best known love story.

Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Rosso 2016 ~ This is also a dry red wine, from the Veneto region, which is neither an Amarone, nor a Valpolicella. This really represents going against the grain of the past, in terms of the grape varieties used during the appassimento process. While Romeo and Juliet experienced forbidden love, not being allowed to love each due to their rival families, this Passione Sentimento Rosso has a happy ending… The yin of the yang… The Romeo and Juliet Full Circle

Making this wine begins with whole berries, which are put into small crates. These crates then go into a drying shed, from four to six weeks. The grapes go through dehydration. Extracted fruit has highly concentrated flavors, as you can imagine. More sugar, the fruit flavors are dense, and terroir – that all-encompassing “from right here” – flavors are exaggerated. then, this wine has three months of aging.

This blend is intriguing. It’s Merlot (40 percent), Corvina (30 percent), and Croatina (30 percent). It’s not the Merlot that shakes me to the core… Merlot was my first Vitis vinifera tasted, beyond Manischewitz and then Mateus. It was about the Corvina and Croatina. Getting to taste native wine grape varieties is an adventure… An adventure that’s almost enticingly forbidden, and yet there it is. It’s thrilling to taste outside of the ordinary. And this Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Rosso exactly fits the bill. It’s a potpourri of exotic spices, with rich, red stone fruit flavors, replicating Shakespeare’s intensity.

  • The Last Corvina I had was a 2008 Punta Crena Colline Savonesi IGT Cruvin, in 2010.
  • It was my first time tasting Croatina, in this blend.

This is a very distinctive innovation in flavors. Dare to fall in love, again. It will have a delicious finish.

The End




Agricuture,Argentina,Domaine Bousquet Sauvignon Blanc,Gaia Domaine Bousquet Tupungato Red Blend,Mendoza,Organic,Sauvignon Blanc,Terroir,Wine,Wine Culture,Wine Samples,Wine tasting,Wine Travel,Winemaking,Winery,Wines,Women in Wine

How A Small Company Finds Intriguing and Unique In-Roads to Success

Anne Bousquet – Al Ameri, CEO, Partner


Meeting Anne Bousquet – Al Ameri, of Domaine Bousquet, Mendoza Argentina, at Barn Diva in Healdsburg, brought not only the distance of the two hemispheres closer together, but it also connected many more fascinating dots during the meeting, of how to succeed against all odds.

Anne Bousquet arrived at Barn Diva with friendly enthusiasm, to tell me about her family winery’s success, in the western region of Tupungato, Argentina. I not only learned about that, but I also learned that there’s still hope for a small producer, somewhere in the world, to also take the world by storm.

Traveling in Northern California, Anne was accompanied by Kate Morgan-Corcoran of Creative Palate Communications, an East Coast full-service, public relations and marketing communications agency. Anne also brought her family’s wines to enjoy, with differing foods and conversations, at Barn Diva.


Domaine Bousquet

In the early 1990’s, Anne’s father Jean Bousquet visited Tupungato, Argentina. Four generations of winemaker history, Jean arrived from Carcassonne, located in southern France. He was searching for exceptional terroir, in order to start a new winery. By 1997, a parcel of land was purchased and the family relocated from France to the foothills of the Andes, when Jean had sold his southern France vineyard and winery property. The land he purchased in Tupungato, was completely developed, with no wineries anywhere to be seen. This is land in the Uco Valley. [For perspective, Tupungato is an hour south of Mendoza City.]

Anne talked about everyone saying to her father, including his real estate agent, “That land! Nobody wants to be in that land. Look! Nobody is growing grapes there. It’s empty, barren land.” But, her father knew what he wanted to do, if only through intuition.

It was like… “He came, he saw, he conquered.”

From 1990 to 2019: Today, the read on Tupungato terroir, according to wine-searcher:

Tupungato is the northernmost sub-region of the Uco Valley in Mendoza. The region lies at the foot of the Mt Tupungato volcano, which, at 21,555 ft (6570m) high, is one of the highest peaks in Argentina. The altitude of the vineyards brings clarity of light, water and air and moderates the high temperatures associated with lower latitudes. Full-bodied red wines made from Malbec and crisp, elegant whites made from Chardonnay are specialties of the terroir here.

Jean Bousquet achieved one dream after the other, right up to and including being ready to begin wine sales. Simultaneously, Anne’s educational experiences were preparing her to help grow her family’s Domaine Bousquet. When he was ready, to move to that next step, Anne Bousquet really became pivotal, whether or not she saw it coming.

Labid Al Ameri

As a young woman, Anne went to the University of Toulouse, where she earned a BA in Economics. She continued on to earn a Master’s Degree in Applied Economics. This was at St. Cloud State University, in Minnesota. She then moved to Boston, where she met her future husband Labid Al Ameri. Their relationship flourished, taking them to Brussels for work.

When they traveled together to Tupungato, Argentina, they saw the work ahead of them… How to sell Jean Bousquet’s wine, now that it was ready. There’s an intriguing components between Anne having studied Applied Economics, and Libid being an international equities trader, at the time. This has created a dynamic powerhouse, that has a brilliant approach their business acumen… It’s so non-traditionally that it’s not anywhere near the box. This has allowed them to successfully exploded their growth potential. Today wine sales are booming, and the wines are all so delicious.

Guillaume Bousquet

Anne Bousquet’s brother Guillaume Bousquet is also active in the family. From his biography:

Guillaume is responsible for the European market of Domaine Bousquet. Born and raised in a family vineyard, Guillaume holds a Masters in Marketing from IEA, University of Toulouse, France. He assists in the development of the annual marketing plan for the winery. After two years of managing sales in Europe, he traveled to the USA for three years, to establish a sales and marketing plan. In 2015, he returned to France to manage the European market.


Anne also brought a French/Spanish sensory flavor to her wines. As her story unfolded, Ann talked easily about her father, who – against everyone’s wishes – when to Argentina and chose new terroir to begin anew. No one understood what he was wanting to do, though. People couldn’t believe where he was willing relocate his family. And yet, a dream shift is a dream come true… Legacy with terroir… The Bousquet Family



Today, the wines decry their soul: high desert, back drop of the dramatic, white-snowcapped Andes, lining the base at the foot of the mountains… Seemingly rugged, but more determined. Each of the following wines were sensational. Perfectly balanced, true to character, with a bit of vibrancy and enjoyability that make me crave still more. Fortunate to take the six samples home; my husband and I enjoyed them with many more meals for a few days. I highly recommend each of their wines… So much integrity, purpose, and connection to their terroir. And, their value exceeds your wildest expectations.

  • Domaine Bousquet Sparkling Pinot Noir * Chardonnay Brut Rose, organic grapes, Mendoza Argentina Non-Vintage
  • Domaine Bousquet Reserve Malbec 2017, organic grapes, Tupungato UCO Valley, Mendoza Argentina
  • Domaine Bousquet Sauvignon Blanc 2018
  • Gaia Domaine Bousquet Tupungato Red Blend 2018
  • Domaine Bousquet Sparkling Chardonnay / Pinot Noir
  • AMERI Domaine Bousquet Tupungato

PHOTO by logia: Medieval walls of the castle of Carcassonne, Languedoc-Roussillon, France, just for regional reference of Jean Bousquet’s origin.


JEAN BOUSQUET: My Bousquet family comes from Carcassonne, a city of in the South of France. We have four generations of winemaking history. Our passion is to produce wines of superior quality and this is what lead us to Argentina to begin a new chapter in the tradition of our wine making.



Award,Wine,Wine Appreciation,Wine Awards,Wine Business,Wine Business Innovation,Wine Culture,Wine Making,Wine Marketing,Winemaker,Winemaking,Winery,Wines

LuxeSF has announced it’s Rising Wine Star Award recipients

LuxeSF, formerly the Luxury Marketing Council of San Francisco, has announced its Rising Wine Stars Award recipients for 2019. The ceremony was held during their Seventh Annual Wineries Boot Camp, at the Lincoln Theater in Yountville. This was in the presence of over 300 wine industry marketing, sales and hospitality influentials, representing more than 100 Napa and Sonoma wineries and wine-related organizations.

LuxeSF believes that performance and success-in-the-making should be recognized. That’s why the Rising Wine Stars awards now in their third year, have been established—to identify and acknowledge the up-and-coming industry performers who epitomize the new generation changing the face of the wine industry in California, specifically Napa and Sonoma.

[Images of event from LuxeSF]

There was no fee or other monetary consideration required for nomination, and the selection process was agnostic with respect to age, length of service, size of winery or organization represented. The selection criteria remained flexible to the extent that the awardees were chosen based on their current reputation and level of success, but equally so for the potential that they exhibit as future industry leaders and innovators.

A 13-person panel of impartial experts knowledgeable about the various sectors of the wine industry was assembled. These experts knew the inner workings of the business and were not the types to be easily swayed by gossip or headline. They made their selections from 97 candidates across six categories, and hours were spent in vigorous discussion, rigorous dissection and unvarnished assessment. In every selection, the majority vote prevailed.

[PHOTO, property of LuxeSF: Ron Rubin receiving his award from last year’s honoree Monica Stevens, of Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch, who also has received the Service to the Community award.]

The six awards that were bestowed were:
1. Winery of the Year
2. Winemaker of the Year
3. Wine Marketer of the Year
4. Hospitality & Guest Relations
5. Service to the Community
6. Industry Innovation

“Winery of the Year”
Mike Davis, Davis Estates

Accepting the award: Mike Davis, Co-proprietor Presenting the award: Last year’s honoree of this award, Ed Feuchuk, President, Tank Garage Winery

“Winemaker of the Year”
Julien Fayard

Presenting the Award…2018 Rising Star Winery of the Year honoree, Jason Chang, Proprietor, NINE SUNS

“Marketer of the Year”
John Truchard, JaM Cellars

Presenting the award: Paul Reulbach, Group Publisher, Modern Luxury

“Hospitality and Guest Relations”
Tanner Sneed, David Arthur Vineyards

Presenting the award: Heidi Rickerd-Rizzo, Vice President/Principal, Terra Firma Global Partners

“Community Service Award”
Ron Rubin, Ron Rubin Winery

Presenting the Award: Last year’s honoree, Monica Stevens, Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch

“Industry Innovation Award”
Joe Cirone, LibDib

Presenting the Award: the 2017 Rising Star Marketer of the Year, Adam Ivor, Co-Founder Gliding Eagle


Italy,Musings,Travel,Wine,Wine & Food,Wine tasting,Wine Travel,Wine Writer,You've Got to Be Kidding Me

The Most Embarrassing Side of Wine Travel… Musings

This was the point where I should have taken a bow… Hindsight is always 20/20 vision, right?

So, I’m a guest of Colonnara Viticultori in Cupramontana ~ In the Castelli di Jesi region of Le Marche. This day, we were having lunch at family Ristorante in a neighboring town. It was as authentic as it could possibly be. Did I have “American Tourist” written across my forehead in special only-seen-to-Italians ink?

Probably, when I arrived, and by the time I left, I definitely did…

Still, I felt like I belonged. I’ve had more than a few very unusual adventures in life. I can’t even tell you how many people have told me that I should be writing a book. (Not sure I have the discipline or desire, yet.) This one falls into my Most Embarrassing Moments chapter.

Our Cast of Characters

Everything imaginable was ordered by our hosts for us, all in Italian, at the restaurant… They don’t have a written menu. In Italian, we were told what the day’s dishes were. We had a choice of about three dishes for each course. Instead of knowing what was being requested, because everything was being ordered in Italian, with its own lyrical style with such sensual emotion (words like “handmade tagliatelli”), that’s what I was listening to.

While we waited, we also had a tasting of Colonnara’s regional wines. Then, antipasto arrived and everyone got right into food and wine pairings. Perfect matches, by the way.

By now, I was really craving a salad, and I think I was the only person doing so… (I’ve read if you order salad first in Italy, you’re labeled as a tourist. So, if I hadn’t been labeled yet, there it was…)

I hadn’t seen so many flashbacks of growing up of with a large family-style meal surrounding me … The rhythm and pace of it were intoxicating. The foods were amazing. We were all sharing communally.

Now, between my entree and dessert, I excused myself to go to the ladies room

This is where it gets real. I have to hand it to Italy, across the central part of this peninsula. Every single toilet flush (I can’t make this any more delicate) looks like this. At first, upon arrival i Italy at Castello di Meleto in Gaiole, I spent about five minutes looking for the flush. I thought this was just more art on the wall. Finally, I gave it a push, and much to my surprise it activated. I was so relieved.

So now, it’s days later. I know what it is, I know what to do. But, in this restaurant, I couldn’t find what I knew it should be. In fact, I couldn’t find any flush at all – except, I did see a chain hanging from the ceiling. I remembered my days when a chain was used for flushing, so I pulled it.

Much to my horror, I could hear an alarm going off in the restaurant. Oh, my, gawd… What had I done. I heard people rushing into the little room that had two stall doors: Signore e signori. Yup, I was in the Signore and I had to say so. Oh, my, gawd. This is not the glamour of travel. This is the American tourist making one more obvious mistake, and it was going to go public, quicker than I wanted.

Outside of the restroom door, leading into that area, there’s a light that goes off, along with the knowledge by the staff that it’s a cry for help, from pulling the chain. Yup, every local in the restaurant knows it’s either a grandmother has gone down or a tourist. (Did it help that I was both?) Bring in the paramedics, this ole gal didn’t know how to flush the toilet. Good baby Jesus, I was nailed.

So, my helpful signori couldn’t find the flush pad either. We looked and looked – this was evidently his first foray into the ladies’ room. Then, he moved the curtain to the right, and there it was, hiding under the curtain. Who would think to look behind a curtain for a flush? As an adult, have you ever had anyone help you flush your own toilet? Could it be any more embarrassing?

Why was it hidden in this wonderful restaurant? Because EVERYONE in this tiny town has been going to this restaurant for generations. Parents and grandparents have been teaching customs to their children for years. Bring in a tourist and it’s either going to be a real emergency, or – as in my case – it’s just another tourist.

So, when I had to exit my situation… And that door was opened to a waiting audience

That’s when I should have – instead of blushing to high heaven – just taken a bow. I know I would have had a standing ovation, I just know it.

Special thanks to Colonnara Viticultori‘s, , and Michael Yurch of Bluest Sky Group, for all of my fabulous adventures during my visit in Cupramontana. They, in no way, had anything to do with my own foibles.


Chianti,Chianti Classico,Italy,Sangiovese,Wine,Wine Appreciation,Wine Blogger,Wine Business,Wine Country,Wine Country Inn,Wine Culture,Wine Ed,Wine Education,Wine Exports,Wine Hospitality,Wine tasting,Wine Travel,Wine Writer,Wine-Blog,Winemaker,Winery,Wines

When It’s Traditional and It’s in Tuscany ~ Day 2

I was the guest of Castello di Meleto in Gaiole ~ In the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany. Hosted by Antonia Caserta (sales manager), their winemaker Matteo Menicacci, and their agronomist Giovanni Maria Farina. Antonia translated, and I was also in the company of Michael Yurch (Bluest Sky Group) and Michael Apstein from Apstein On Wine.

This was the beginning of an adventure that I like to think of The Rapunzel Phase. 

The word “monk” comes from the Greek word “monachos” meaning “single” or “solitary.” It means to practice asceticism by living alone or with any number of other monks. Dedicating one’s life to serving others, or voluntarily choosing to leave mainstream society to live life in prayer and contemplation. In Greek the word can apply to women, but in modern English it is for men, as the word “nun” would be used for female monks.

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz, my bedroom where Benedictine Monks once lived. I doubt that the furnishings were anything like this; however I felt their spirit spirits still connected.]

Off to lunch I went… I’m sharing the menu with you, perhaps for curiosity, or perhaps as inspiration.

The following is their Tuscan Menu ~ Castello di Meleto

Surrounded by Italian history and elegance, originally a Benedictine monastery, now a winery and hospitality center straordinario, this was my time to learn about this slice of life.


Lunch Wednesday, October 10

I’m remiss that I didn’t get a photo of the Sformato di verdure, listed as the first course. My entire surroundings were so dazzlingly charming, it truly was like being in a fairy tale. It was a social gathering at first, and we were there to taste wine, with antipasti ~ Meet and greet… I had to finally pull myself back, to put what I was seeing and beginning to taste into photos and words. That was just as the second course was arriving. I was totally one with the castle for a while. I just lost track of everything, except for what I was seeing; a super Zen moment.

Sformato di verdure – (Vegetable quiche), paired with BORGAIO IGT TOSCANA ROSATO 2017.

This Rosato is so invitingly aromatic and floral, reminding me of orange blossom in spring time. The flavors are deliciously refreshing.  The wine is only 12.5 percent alcohol, a perfect food accompaniment, especially with cheese dishes.

From Castello di Meleto ~ Vinification: Grapes are handpicked and placed in small crates in order to reduce skin breakage. After being gently destemmed and softly crushed, the must is chilled and left on the skins for a few hours. After pressing, a part of the must is cold-clarified and fermented in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature of maximum 17°C [62.6°F].


Penne pomodorini e pesto (Penne pasta with pesto and cherry tomatoes), paired with BORGAIO IGT TOSCANA ROSSO 2017.

This BORGAIO IGT TOSCANA ROSSO was Tuscany. This was what I’ve dreamed about, including an actual Italian dream. I understood every word. Did I mention I don’t speak a word of Italian? I do know how to taste it though. Slow and easy.

A garnet color; I remember a bit of light shining through and thinking, “this is going to be so tasty.” Yeah, it was all that and more. Rich, juicy, and expressive Chianti grapes, from this stressed out terroir.  I was going to see the vineyard later, and I knew I was going to be liking all of this, as much as you would.

From Castello di Meleto ~ Vinification: Grapes are harvested by hand and machine and destemmed and gently crushed before undergoing alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature of 25/28°C for a period of 15 to 20 days. After racking, the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation in cement tanks.

Arista con pecorino e salvia (Pork loin with pecorino and sage, with Patate al sesamo  and oven roasted sesame seed potatoes), paired with Meleto Chianti Classico DOCG 2016.

Here came the big boy, showing its Italian muscle and flare, like a sophisticated Italian man wearing a grand scarf.  They wear them so well, really, like this Reserve Chianti. It had flare, it had style, and it had perfect body, pairing really well with the pecorino and pork combination. The fruit flavors of the opulent Sangiovese grapes just blended with the pork dish. By now, the crisp potatoes were also becoming a favorite. I hadn’t thought of adding sesame seeds! It was all very much like comfort food, taken up a notch.

From Castello di Meleto ~ Vinification: Grapes are harvested by hand and machine and destemmed and gently crushed before undergoing alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature of 25/28°C for a period of 15 to 20 days. After racking, the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation in cement tanks.This wine is 100 percent Sangiovese, and very characteristic for Tuscany’s red wine backbone. The Meleto Chianti Classico is a very smooth and savory wine. Full bodied and rich, yet the softer tannins makes it wonderful to enjoy (alone of with food). Aging: 15

To finish our meal, and be ready for the afternoon festivities…

Cantucci al Vin Santo (Biscotti), paired with an in-house spirit. By the end of this meal. we were offered grappa, and we all just looked at each other and had a great laugh; not intended to insult our hosts. I was more of, we are all so satisfied, were would we find the room of it?

I did let down my hair on this one… Who wouldn’t?


Food & Wine,Food and Wine,Italy,Red Wine,Tuscany,White Wine,Wine,Wine & Food,Winery,Wines

Pairing Tuscan Wines with Tuscan Cuisine ~ Day 1

GUEST: I was a guest at Castello di Meleto, in Gaiole (the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany), as orchestrated by Michael Yurch, of The Bluest Sky Group.

When we, as Americans, think of Italian cuisine, pasta immediately comes to mind, right? In a word association game, I say Italian food, and most people respond with either pasta or pizza. Headed to Tuscany, I saw ginormous, eyes-open-wide bowls of pasta ahead of me. I was so ready to chow down. But, as soon as the time came for me to order something for myself… I didn’t even go in either direction.

After 15.5 hour of travel, and going ahead in Italian time (by seven hours), I really thought I was so ready for either pasta or pizza.

I headed downstairs to have my first, authentic Italian experience at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Rome. In the the Mediterranean-style hotel’s lobby, I was completely surrounded by intriguing sculpture. I didn’t study it for very long. Hungry, I’d return later with my camera.

The above picture is of Marco, my wonderful waitserver. The menu was like reading a private love letter. Lyrical, embracing, and magical food mysteries were awaiting.  My eyes caught “Bistecca di pollo fritto” ~ Choosing the wine to go with it?

“Your house Puglia, please, to go with my Bistecca di pollo fritto.”

SIDEBAR: I’ve studied French and Spanish, but never Italian; and yet, I had a dream in Italian, and I understood every single word. Startled, I just awoke. I asked my husband what it could possibly mean. “In a past life you were Italian.” It made sense and we both just went back to sleep. Even now, though, something inside me wants to burst, when I hear Italian being spoken. But, I digress into another story fun…

So, off we went the next day… From Rome to Gaiole (in the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany)…. When we arrived, there wasn’t a bowl of pasta or a pizza in sight. Honestly, it really didn’t matter anymore. I was already acclimating. No more expectations, just wonderment.

Instead, I was headed to Castello di Meleto, where I’d begin to learn to learn the culture of food and wine in Tuscany, through their wines and foods, prepared by their chef team of Maura, Alina, Irina, and Michaela…

Tuscan foods, according to the acclaimed, Florence Chef Giuliano Bugialli, in his preface for is Giuliano Bugialli’s Foods of Italy:

“The food of Italy is certainly among the most visually striking in the world, and its appeal is most direct when seen against its own background and landscape. Dishes seem to reflect the sea and sky, the countryside and cityscape, the whole Italian way of looking at things. This is an elusive magic…”

Arriving at Castello di Meleto

Castello di Meleto ~ Located in Gaiole, the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany…

After a few of offerings like the foods listed below, perhaps the adventurer in you might even decide this is worth witnessing and/or tasting for yourself. If you can’t get there, try pairing your similar wines with any of these foods. If you have Castello di Meleto’s wines, all the more authentic.

Ahead of my arrival, I had been asked about possible food sensitives, and I shared. The menu below was crafted to make sure that fish wasn’t being offered. (“It’s best not to send anyone home in a body bag, if it can be avoided,” said she, who is allergic to fish.)

Already written stories of Castello di Meleto, if you’d like more information going into this story:

Tomorrow, the continuation of this story, with Castello di Meleto’s food and wine pairing menu… Totally decadent and completely authentic…

No Pizza in sight, but yes… a bit of pasta.



Award,Philanthropy Thru Wine,Sonoma County,Wine,Wine Awards

Sonoma County Innovators and Icons to Be Honored ~ 2019 Sonoma County Barrel Auction

Each year, Sonoma County has a Barrel Auction. This is your opportunity to own a truly one-of-a-kind wine. I’ll write about their weekend events. For now, I just want to highlight who is going to be honored: the Innovators and the Icons.


Cultivated in Sonoma County’s most acclaimed vineyards. Handcrafted by legendary winemakers. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to taste, bid, and possibly own, a masterpiece of Sonoma County winemaking. Auction lots range from 5 to 20 cases, giving trade buyers the opportunity to offer true original wines for resale to their customers and ultra-premium wine collectors.

MAY 3, 2019

The Sonoma County Barrel Auction has traditionally celebrated Sonoma County Icons, vintners who have shaped the heritage and history of Sonoma County winemaking. New this year, Sonoma County Vintners have added the category of Innovators, to honor forward thinking visionaries in the Sonoma County wine community. They’ll be celebrated at a private reception, to be held on Thursday, May 2, 2019, at Seghesio Family Vineyards. They will also be honored at the Barrel Auction, on May 3.

2019 Sonoma County Innovators and Icons

The Duncan Family, Silver Oak Cellars, Alexander Valley


Under the direction of David R. Duncan, President and CEO, Tim Duncan, Chief Revenue Officer, and his daughter Haley Duncan, LEED AP, the Duncan family together have achieved LEED Platinum Sustainability Certification, the highest level of certification, at Silver Oak Cellars, Alexander Valley. It is the first winery in the world to earn this certification under the category of Building Design and Construction. Globally recognized, LEED is the most widely used green building rating system. LEED buildings are known to save energy, water, resources, generate less waste and support human health.

Ron Rubin, Ron Rubin Winery, Green Valley of Russian River Valley


After experiencing a rapid heartbeat ventricular tachycardia and being saved by a defibrillator, Ron Rubin made it his personal mission to pay it forward by launching the “Trained for Saving Lives” program. In collaboration with the American Red Cross and ZOLL Medical Corporation, Ron Rubin has covered the cost of one ZOLL® AED Plus® (Automated External Defibrillator) unit for over 100 Sonoma County wineries and expanded the program to include the entire North Coast, including: Napa, Solano, Lake, Marin and Mendocino Counties. To date, he has provided over 200 defibrillators throughout the entire North Coast.

Margo Van Staaveren, Chateau St. Jean, Valley of the Moon


Margo Van Staaveren celebrated her 38th harvest with Chateau St. Jean in 2018 and is the winery’s fourth winemaker. Upon joining the winery in 1980 as a lab tech, she worked her way up through various positions before becoming head winemaker in 2003. Margo was instrumental in helping create Cinq Cépages, a Sonoma County Bordeaux blend, which was awarded “Wine of the Year” by Wine Spectator in 1999, the first Sonoma County winery to receive this prestigious distinction. Margo was recognized by Wine Enthusiast as Winemaker of the Year in 2008, the first female winemaker to receive this honor.


Rod Berglund, Joseph Swan Vineyards, Russian River Valley


Rod Berglund of Joseph Swan Vineyards has been making wine for 40 years, 32 of those at Joseph Swan. His winemaking career began at La Crema Viñera (now La Crema) in 1979. When Joe Swan, his friend and mentor, asked him to help him finish the 1987 vintage, he joined him for what would become his final vintage. Joe became ill that winter and Rod gradually took over the day-to-day operations prior to Joe’s passing. Rod’s service and dedication to Sonoma County has spanned his entire career—from being one of the founding members of the Russian River Valley Winegrowers to acting as President of Wine Road to helping move forward Sonoma County conjunctive labeling.