Books,Entertainment,Research,Wine,Wine Ed,Wine Education,Wine Etiquette,Wine Hospitality

BOOK REVIEW ~ “Professional Drinking,” by Jim Schleckser

Jim Schleckser is a Certified Sommelier, and he’s also a best-selling author. Borrowed from his Website: He is an energetic and popular speaker at national business conferences and corporate events, focusing on the leverage points to improve your business performance.

What he’s not is in the wine business. He is, however, so passionate about wine and so curious, he’s found himself taking one certification after another just for the fun of it, and proving his wine acumen worthy enough to write a book, with quite a unique and clever angle, with quite a unique and clever angle, with his wine accreditations.

Professional Drinking is for beverage nerds; and, I know more than my share who would love his new book, both in and outside of the wine world.

I’m thinking of holiday gift-giving here. But, I’m ahead of myself…

This book is your invaluable Professional Drinking Cliff Notes, if ever there was one… And, this goes for both pros and enthusiasts alike; it’s so clever and methodically written.

Let’s just say, from now on before wine tasting again, I’ll have nibbled apples. If you’re a SOMM, you’re just nodding in agreement, while many of my wine pals and I haven’t heard about this one, yet.

Being a wine publicist, my area of expertise is writing; about people, places, and wine. My college studies were all about wine sales and marketing, and then I got on the road as a district sales manager for a few years. That was quite an education. Then I was really off and into a PR career, my preferred field. While I know some things with 30 years of experience in the wine business (another 11 in radio broadcasting for PR), I’m still having daily wine epiphanies.  Nothing so swiftly and thoroughly, however, as I’ve been having, while sitting with this wine book and diving in for continued nuances. I’ve savored my time reading it, because it’s like a Louis XIII Magnum cognac. It deserves savoring every single drop made in its subtitle: A Spirited Guide to Wine, Cocktails, and Confident Business Entertaining.

It’s the confident business entertaining aspect that truly makes this book invaluable if you love wine, regardless of your profession. If you conduct business and spirits are part of your entertaining, just read one nugget before going off to that important meeting and you’ll be surprised how well you’ll be received.

Professional Drinking, by Jim Schleckser, is an excellent cornucopia of new insights, chocked full of idiosyncratic nuggets… I really highly recommend it for anyone; from a beginner to anyone studying for a wine certification.

This book isn’t just about wine knowledge. Being a host, which is why this book has been written… Listen up you techie guys with a bank account for entertaining, this is your Cliff Notes book.

There’s more to beverages than just wine, and if you get ahead of the curve, by being well versed in more than wine, and you have a client you’ve taken to dinner, imagine offering an opening cocktail, and knowing just the right one to please everyone. Or, you’re off into a pub, leave the wine behind and know the difference between a lager, an English ale, a wheat beer, or stouts porters. I’m not a beer drinker (allergies), but it’s still fun helping someone make a choice, based on what you know about differing beer characteristics. (I know more than one dry wine pro.)

  • The chapter on Champagne… I’ll never be allergic to any sparkling wine, even if I ever am. When wine sparkles, I feel like dancing. Nuf said… Choosing the right one is well documented in Professional Drinking.
  • How many times are we asked, “how many bottles should we have for each person at a dinner party?” There are rules of thumb, and this book takes all of the stress away.
  • Where are we supposed to cut the foil? I didn’t know this one, either, but I do now. I’ve been thinking I was so chic… Naw, I haven’t been. And now I’ll have no more dripping. Who knew?

Each chapter has PRO TIPS and/or PRO STORIES. I’m going to share this one. If you’re entertaining or being entertained by others, and any alcohol’s involved, side stories are always fun and open the door to more storytelling.

PRO STORY: Why do we call alcohol content “proof?”

Proof comes from sailors that had a daily ration of rum. To ensure the captain didn’t dilute the rum to make it go further, they would make the doctor (who usually doled out the rum rations) light it on fire. The minimum to light it is around 80 proof, but higher-alcohol contents will as well. Once the doctor lit the rum, it had been “proofed.”

If you get the book, you’ll never regret it. I’m delighted to be adding it to my own (book) wine library, and quickly refer to it before each wine meeting. It’s a book filled with fun facts and I love sharing fun facts, do you? If so, it’s got your name on it.



Champagne,France,French Wine,Terroir,Wine,Wine Making

The Most Special Time for Champagne ~ That’s a joke, right?

When is there never a special, or non-special, time for Champagne?

Winesellars Ltd. just sent this to me, “It’s time to start drinking Champagne—all the time.”  I left them in the dust on this one a l-o-n-g time ago, like any of our 365 days in the year, I’m on it. But, I do know that I’m not the usual wine enjoyer, so let’s have a go at it, Winesellars Ltd. style.

In their words: “With more than 16,000 growers spread out over three towns divided into five regions (Montagne de Reims, Vallée de la Marne, Côte des Blancs, Côte de Sézanne, and the Aube in the Côte des Bar), in a region 90 miles northeast of Paris, some 320 Champagne houses are producing a mesmerizing array of styles and formats from relatively cheap to the preposterously high-priced.”

And, some Champagne history : “For centuries, Champagne has been synonymous with celebration. It was Christmas Day, 496 CE, when Clovis, King of the Franks, was baptized in the Reims Cathedral using consecrated wine from Champagne, to celebrate the Eucharist; thus securing its position as the wine of celebration among French royalty. By 1790, Champagne was served at the Fête de la Fédération to toast the outcome of the French Revolution, solidifying its place in history as the celebratory wine of all people.

The wine they’re representing: Besserat de Bellefon Champagne

“Besserat de Bellefon, based in Epernay, is most known for its “Cuvee des Moines” line of Champagne Brut. These carefully crafted Champagnes are produced with less atmospheric pressure than more traditional styles. The result is a Champagne with a softer creamy mouse and ideal for consumption with food. The current offering of Besserat de Bellefon includes Brut, Brut Rose, Blancs de Blanc, and Vintage 2002.”

Sounds delicious, let’s look at this map of the Champagne region and their winery.

Paris and Champagne


[IMAGE: Wikipedia]

In the small insert, notice how close Paris is to the Champagne Region. It makes sense that the two are symbiotic, isn’t it?

Winesellers was reminding me about Besserat de Bellefon, so I took a tour on Winesellers’ Website, because each wine has and is its own character, and I want to get to know more. From the winery:

  • Edmond Besserat founded Besserat Champagne in 1843. After Edmond, his grandsons continued to build the reputation of the house. In 1927, Edmond Besserat, a grandson of the founder, married Yvonne de Meric de Bellefon, who came from another prestigious Champagne family, and the house of Besserat de Bellefon Champagne was born. The historic Bellefon Château is world-renowned, in Épernay, in the heart of the Champagne region. Besserat de Bellefon has continued to be a leading European Champagne brand for over 150 years. Today, Besserat de Bellefon is part of the Lanson-BCC Group’s portfolio of prestigious Champagnes and produces about 40,000 cases of the Cuvée des Moines range.
  • Cuvée des Moines or “Blend of the Monks,” was named in honor of the early Benedictine monks who were instrumental in developing the Champagne method. The crémant winemaking technique employs a reduced dosage, which lowers the bottle pressure about one atmosphere, so that the Champagne is soft, creamy, and packed with tiny bubbles. Unlike most traditional brut non-vintage Champagne, Cuvée des Moines is designed to be enjoyed throughout a meal. This classic (non-vintage) Champagne is produced from wines from a combination of the current vintage and previous vintages (reserve wines), rather than a single year. The art of blending wines from several vintage years ensures that there is consistently a high-quality, elegant wine in every bottle. Cuvée des Moines is skillfully blended by Besserat de Bellefon’s Wine Maker Cedric Thiebault. Besserat de Bellefon is available in several expressions of the crémant style: Brut, Brut Rosé, Blanc de Blancs Gran Cru, Blanc de Noir Gran Cru, Extra Brut and Vintage Brut.

That must have been some spectacular wedding, seriously, with all of the bubbles. One can only imagine…


Education,Enology,Environment,Understand the Impact on Grape Growing,Vineyards,Viticulture,Wine,Wine Making

Global Climate is Shifting: UC Davis Discussion Invites You to Understand the Impact on Grape Growing

One of the best places in California for studying and scientifically understanding the wine industry is UC Davis. I’m not sure when you realized that global warming was a true warning. I heard it in the 60s and began to do my part. It’s been a somewhat lonely road, quite honestly, but I am thankful that a few of us took t seriously. It’s hard to even imagine the pile of crap I would have created, had I not stopped buying cans with chlorofluorocarbons, recycled everything and anything that’s plastic (paper bags line my garbage and recycling containers), heck – I’ve even found bamboo TP.  Then, there was an entire school I trained not to leave school and leave their garbage on our front lawn, with a “Give a Hoot; Don’t Pollute” campaign. It worked not only for those students, but the concept was handed down to all the next generations. (I know, because we lived at that house for 17 years, and never had to bend over again.)

And, here we are, icecaps melting, and the population of the world has doubled since the 60s… doubled! And, I have a nine-year-old grandson I’m home-schooling. We’re deeply engrossed in the Netflix series “Our World.” It’s a great dose of Flora, Fauna, and how he can also help by adapting his life to the changes of our planet. The power of one is one. The power of each successive number is squared…

  • 2 = 4
  • 3= 9
  • 1,000 = 1,000, 000

We CAN  do this!

So… UC Davis for you and yours in viticulture and enology…

Impact of Climate Change on California Wine Regions Focus of UC Davis Discussion
Free Online Panel Is November 10, 2020

By Jessica Nusbaum on October 30, 2020, in Environment

The impact of climate change on the ability of California’s premier wine regions to grow grape varieties like chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, and the need to plan — and plant — for the future, will be the topic of a public online panel discussion hosted by the University of California, Davis, at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 10.

The panel will include Esther Mobley, who writes about wine for the San Francisco Chronicle and has covered the effects of climate change on the Napa Valley; Dan Petroski, winemaker for Larkmead Vineyards, who is at the forefront of the discussion about the need for Napa Valley winemakers to identify solutions to rising temperatures; and UC Davis Assistant Professor Elisabeth Forrestel, who researches how wild and cultivated grapevines adapt to drought and heat stress.

Petroski and Forrestel will both also share their experiences on the ground. Forrestel has started an international initiative focused on the adaptation of vineyards to changing climates, with initial plantings of cultivars with wine-making potential under warmer and drier conditions already underway in Napa and Davis. Petroski planted a new experimental vineyard at Larkmead last year to test grape varieties from the Southern Hemisphere and the southern Mediterranean.

The public is invited to join the Zoom discussion; register by 3:00 p.m., November 10, 2020, to receive the link. The hourlong lecture will include a question-and-answer session with the audience.

The discussion is part of the Savor series, which explores some of the biggest food and beverage topics being studied today at UC Davis. The series is presented by the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science and the UC Davis Library, which has been called the greatest wine library in the world.

Media contact(s)

Jessica Nusbaum, UC Davis Library, 530-752-4145, cell 415-548-5377, jlnusbaum@ucdavis.edu

Karen Nikos-Rose, News and Media Relations, 530-219-5472, kmnikos@ucdavis.edu

To see more UC Davis news, visit their online newsroom: https://www.ucdavis.edu/news.


Event,Geyserville,Geyserville Community Foundation,Photographers,Sonoma,Sonoma County,Wine,Wine Business Innovation,Wine Country,Wine Culture,Wine Distribution

Wine Country Adapting to a Pandemic and Fires ~ Geyserville says Happy Halloween to That!

The invite to the citizens of Geyserville read:

Geyserville.com ~ Feeling Creative? Paint wine barrels for the fall and spring seasons to brighten up Geyserville. Fun for the whole family.

And so they came. The barrels have now been placed throughout the town of Geyserville. Very down-home, and r-e-a-l-l-y well done. Halloween wine lovers are up for a deliciously ghouling Halloween day. The art is truly amazing, for such a tiny town to have so much local art talent. I’m inspired to paint when Easter comes along next spring. I did notice them last Easter. And this has mushroomed, seriously. Blame it on some “good Covid news.” Wine country artists are adapting solitude times right into creation.


Imaginations were taken to heart and so was the art. It could have been a fall theme, Halloween, Day of the Dead, or anything else anyone wanted to paint, and so they did. No artistic talent was required. It was suggested that painted barrels will cheer this holiday for everyone. The outdoor exhibit was sponsored by the Geyserville Community Foundation and Bryce Jones. A big thank you to Munsel Vineyards, Pedroncelli Vineyards, and Topel Winery for donating the barrels.



Along with our wine industry clients at Diaz Communications, I’ve taken on another joyous assignment, due to Covid-19; home-schooling my nine-year old grandson for this school year. The following became a self-guided field trip for us. It was important to photograph as much we could, because we’re going to make this into another self-published school assignment. (Our first book is already published: Le Grotte di Fransassi, a cave of stalactites and stalagmites, in the Le Marche region of Italy, which I took on an Italian wine writing adventure.)

The following are some very artful images, intended to inspire an outside Halloween experience for anyone wanting to be in wine country, most especially on Saturday, October 31… this year’s Halloween. This is not only a kid and family’s Halloween fun time come true, it’s also a really cool adult Día De Los Muertos! For you big guys, sip some delicious wines located in downtown Geyserville.

List of Local Wineries Downtown

Four physical locations, all within one tiny blog of each other. And…  some outside dining at (everyone’s favorite) Diavola Pizzeria.

Please call EACH ONE ahead to make an APPOINTMENT.

1. Locals Tasting Room, featuring wines from the following:

2. Mercury Geyserville

3. Pech Merle Winery

4. Ramazzotti Wines

Enjoy being outside, finally some fresh air, and please wear a mask so we can all have a worry-free, fun day. My grandson and I had one of the best field trips ever, seriously. Come to see this live, with barrels now placed all over the tiny town of Geyserville. In total, there may be as many as 50 barrels to find. This exhibit is for families and people who love wine country, combined with holiday art. Some of these barrels have been done by already accomplished, local artists and some by aspiring artists (of all ages). Definitely winederful (please forgive the pun)…  Enjoy the images.


And, remember this isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. About 40 barrels were delivered to people’s homes in Geyserville, and so I haven’t even photographed them yet…. but I will be doing just that.














Bordeaux,Importer,Importer Search,Imports,Wholesaler,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Culture,Wine Distribution,Wine Importer,Winemaking,Winery,Women in Wine

As the World Turns, So Does Wine Importing as the Heartbeat of International Wine Dreams

Let me begin by writing about a past conversation I had with one of my contacts, who works in the Pentagon, whose identity I’m going to keep private. I will say, he knows enough to have called this one, and I’ve watched it all happen to be true.

When the Democrats are in power, it’s all about wine

When the Republicans are in power, it’s all about alcohol

If you’d like to argue this one, I would only counter with, why is there now a 25 percent import tax on wine coming into the US; and, alcohol comes from red states, crafted by the original moonshiners, with no 25 percent tax increase?

Since I’ve been in the wine world, a lot has happened before my eyes. This includes my name having reached places I’ve yet to understand. I’m witnessing this as people come to me for advice, which I’m happy to give when able. And, if I don’t have an answer, I usually know who does. So, something will come of any connection, for all of us.

The Question

Bonjour Jo, Parlez vous français ou espagnol? Mon anglais est très précaire… à bientôt, Michelle (not her real name)

RESPONSE: Un peu et un poquito. Les deux sont difficile pour moi aussi… tambien, à bientôt, Michelle.

So, “my husband and I bought a property in Bordeaux, where we have been working since 1996 (before we lived in Spain). The economic situation in Europe is dire .. and we must seek to sell our wines beyond our borders. Can you help us? Best regards, have a nice day.”

I told her that I don’t have the ability to work with importers or wholesalers, anymore. But, I would find an answer. And so the connections and updates into the shrinking of the wine importing business in the US began. The one thing I did already know, because I’ve been watching it for about 30 years, is the continuing development of global wine AND wholesale oligopolies. What this has meant for consumers:

  • WINE:
    • Fewer options for wine brands on store shelves
    • Fewer people to hire in the wine world
    • More commodity wines edging out the artisans
    • More use of chemicals, since artisan brands are more likely to farm organically and/or biodynamically
    • Farmlands growing more consolidated; ergo, more immense farming techniques
    • Mechanization of harvests
    • Less hands-on during harvests; ergo, less delicate aromas and flavors result
    • Fewer options for wine brands in their portfolios
    • Fewer people to manage the sales to wine shops, grocery stores, and restaurants
    • Artisan wines have no place on the shelves, except for a few “pet” brands for the buyers
    • Their fighting against any direct sales for artisan brands, to keep wine buyers hostage to their own portfolios
    • Keeping imports out of our country, as they’ve been value brands in the past, perhaps with the exception of Bordeaux and Burgundy wines, and if they don’t own them, they don’t want anyone else to, either


Hey, why keep listing anymore, you get it by now, right?

So, my connection might be working with her

But here’s her lengthy scenario… It’s going to take a lot of time, if she truly wants to come into the US market, regardless of the fact that her label will say “Bordeaux.” Just imagine that one about 25 years ago; Bordeaux would have been a shoe-in.


What my source says about the global wine world today


“I need to be honest and say that I have never seen the American market in such turmoil. COVID has permanently closed many restaurants, 70 percent in some cities. Furthermore, the current regime in Washington has imposed a 25 percent tariff on many EU wines that include the wines of France and Spain. It’s a daunting time in the US for wine sales, but we continue to do our job, which is to put new producers into the system.

“Small importers are going out of business. The big guys are cutting marginal suppliers and won’t even discuss new products. The fact is that 90 percent of owners have the same level of passion and quality (and investment). The secret of making very good wine has been out for a long time now. From a marketing standpoint, the names of the wines are awful and the labels are even worse. I spend much of my day telling current clients why things are not working. The best thing for any hopefuls about the US market is to rid themselves of any hopes for selling in the American market, for the foreseeable future and to concentrate on Asia. This is no longer the ‘promised land’ for anything. Yet, if brands haven’t been discouraged by all of this, I’m happy to discuss the process further, and give it a try.

My contact explained all of this with Michelle and she’s NOT discouraged that it will take so much to get her company ready. She’s young, so time is on her side, but is the United States? The November election will have something to do with this, too. I’ll be closely following this one. The work ahead for her wine brand is going to be a full-time, part-time job.

One hopeful caveat to all of this: with international wine brands begin discouraged from US practices, the playing field could be a bit more hopeful. Meanwhile, Asia is taking the stage as a leader, perhaps for many more years than is possibly imaginable. Still, let’s remember, the oligopolies are also moving in that direction. So, it’s all still shaking out for an inevitable plateau.

For me, I may have an upcoming trip to Bordeaux. My contact wrote the following to Michelle. “Creating press relationships during this period is also important, but you already have Jo in your corner, which will be hard to improve upon!!” This made me smile, but my job is also more complicated now, based on all that’s been written above. This is not your daddy’s wine business anymore, as it shrinks and expands simultaneously… as the heartbeat of wine…

Thank you to Wine Business and Wine Industry Network for featuring this story in their blog section.



Wine,Wine Business,Wine Industry Discrimination

My Funniest Wine Industry Discrimination Story Ever ~ It’s a Classic

As if discrimination is ever funny; still this one is a classic and continues to make me chuckle.

A few years ago, while minding my own business, the phone rang.

“Hello, this is Diaz Communications.”

Amiable man on the other end of the phone, “I’d like to speak with Jo Diaz, please.”

“This is she.”

Complete silence for at least six to seven seconds. Count Mississippi 1, Mississippi 2, etc., for six or seven seconds, to get the pregnant pause, for the full impact of the “dead air,” as we call it in radio.

Laughing to myself, thinking that he’s thinking, “Jo, Pat, Chris… damn, you never know anymore.”

The man gathers his thoughts and proceeds to tell me that he’s a head hunter from XYZ Firm; and moves forward, not really knowing what to do. It was in his voice.

Meanwhile, I decided to go along for the ride; and, he did his thing asking questions, like I honestly mattered anymore. I mattered enough for him to make the call, until the only hang-up was gender. In the end, he was continuing with his cordiality and then we politely said goodbye. I could just see him on the other end, egg on his face and all.

About six weeks later, a letter arrived for Ms. Pat Diaz. Oh – my – God, I DID read his mind; which wasn’t the first time in life for mind reading. I’m pretty good at it, actually; so, I couldn’t wait to see what was written to my newly-named Ms. self.

Dear Pat Diaz,

We thank you for applying for our Public Relations position [for which, of course, I didn’t apply].

You are surely well qualified. We did, however, choose another candidate for this position. We wish you well and trust that you’ll find your perfect job opportunity, too.

I thought to myself, “Well dude, I read you like a book; and, since I own my own PR firm, perhaps you should have been better informed about a lot of things regarding this Ms. Diaz.

Sometimes, I still laugh about that one. It’s a classic. Yes, I kept the letter… If I ever need a good laugh, I can just pull it from the file cabinet, under Are You Kidding Me, Dude?

It happened in wine country, I’m not alone. I just chalk it up to ever-evolving away from ignorance… Things are much better than when I started my PR career, in 1983, and since that call.


PR Advice,Public Relations,Public Service Announcement,Wine

The Importance of Public Relations Cannot Be Underscored Enough, or How I’d Like to Bop a Few CEOs Over the Head

Obviously, I would never bop anyone over the head, but some people really do need to understand what PR is and what it isn’t. So, I got that frustration out.

So, let me tell you a little life story, which drove home the importance of PR (not to me, but to a former CEO).  I had a client that I loved. Everyone was great, I did my work, and the image of something very “hippie on drugs” slowly morphed into a company of pre-eminent local importance.

Everything went along swimmingly, until my beloved CEO moved to another location, and the sales manager took over. All this person understood was sales figures. PR, in the CEO’s not-so-humble opinion, was a waste of time and money. All of the work I had done with this company was slipping down the drain with the CEO, and I suffered every new scowl that met me each new morning. The constant pit in my stomach was my intuition telling me the writing on the wall. This person knew by April that in December I’d be moving to California, so the call came. “Jo, can you meet me in my office tomorrow?”

“Here we go,” I thought. So, I walked into the office and said, “Let me tell you, why I’m here. You don’t need me anymore.” A huge sigh of relief from the CEO. My intuition has never been wrong, so it makes perfect sense that it wasn’t going to be wrong on that fateful day. But, I was in the middle of a huge project, convincing my Rotary Club to grant a scholarship to immigrants and refugees to the University of Southern Maine. I had interviewed the head of the ESL department, only to learn that to be enrolled in the English as a Second Language program took a mere $500. Once in, they could apply for grants, scholarships, and loans, but they had to “get into” the program first. Why they couldn’t afford to was because they were working in entry jobs, with a peer group that had marginally intelligent language skills. This was like having a ball and chain around their necks for any real forward movement.

What really put me over the edge was to learn that an Indonesian immigrant, a surgeon, was working in a meat processing plant. That kind of talent was truly being wasted, when the addition of a surgeon to the community was paramount.


I had already been pushing for this for a year and a half, talking one-on-one with each member, and now I was being told to go find something else to do for the next eight months. I was so close to the finish line, I could smell the barn, and I just couldn’t give up. So, once I explained this circumstance, I asked if I could just continue – at no charge to the company – until the end of the year; when I’d be moving. I certainly wasn’t going to apply for another PR job under false pretenses of, “Man, I can hardly wait to work for you,” when I only had eight months to go. (That would have been my own PR fiasco.)

PR is not an ephemeral job. PR takes a lot of time, by first instilling trust and then working diligently and honestly, continuing to work those relationships. Many connections become friends over the years… but never in just months…

The answer was “okay.” So, I still put in my hours, but not a bill, and submitting a monthly report for their public file. I was a contractor, keeping their FCC public file, so what I was submitting was actually very important for the company. Little did the CEO know, since I was inherited.

I moved forward and in November, my Rotary Club announced that not only was I going to get my wish, but I was getting it two-fold with two – not one – scholarships. The $10,000 they had raised earlier that I was tapping into, was going to be giving 10 percent of it to USM for the scholarships. All I had to do was get my ESL head to know, and he would begin the process. I got to meet the first recipient, a nursing single mom, and hand over the program to a gentleman on my committee. I implored him not to let this important program fall by the wayside. I just looked up “Portland Maine Rotary Scholarships,” and found my answer: 6 Annual College Scholarships. 

It’s nearly 30 years later… BUT, it only took a few months of my being in California for my former CEO to call me at the winery where I was now working. “Hi, Jo! I wonder if you could help me? I have someone in mind to fill the job you left behind. Do you know her? Could you recommend her?” The enthusiasm made me ill.

“Ah… No, I can’t help you, and hung up the phone.” I told my new employer what that call was about. She said, “Well, isn’t that a backhanded compliment!”

Right… It took an inordinate amount of time and work to prove to someone, who was solely into sales, to understand that each and every segment of PR adds up to the ultimate goal, sales. One does not build a reputation overnight, but once it kicks in, PR has polished the reputation and making sales a lot easier to happen, when you trust the source.

So, if you ever wonder if you need PR, just ask yourself, “Do I need a reputation?”

Thank you to Wine Industry Insight and Wine Business for offering this as a credible link to their daily news pages.



Gentrifying Robs More Than Land in Napa Valley

It eliminates heart and soul… I’m still thinking about “Napa Valley Beyond the Fires, Small Family Farms Are Bureaucratically Being Squeezed Out.” Lots of people who are well-to-do, become land barons. It’s where the money naturally goes, building castles in the sky; and Napa is where everyone into glamour wants a piece of the pie…

In my personal history, I’ve watch substantial money being handed down and its process through generations (the wisdom of age), that’s really been happening since the beginning of time. If you enjoy history, you love digging deep. I’ve done it within my own lineage, dating to 1622.  It’s fascinating to read a history that is exclusively yours.

So, now I’m looking at Napa Valley. Having read Old Napa Valley: The History to 1900 by Lin Weber, I read about the players, who was funded, and why. Some land just got gobbled up.

Anyone else who visits Napa Valley, and has great memories of visiting Yountville, for instance, can begin to put all the names of the region together with the history that created it, and anyone who loves history, will find this a detailed read.

  • Surrounding towns, lakes, and streets are reflective of their land owners: Angwin (Edward Angwin), Yountville (George Yount), Lake Berryessa (Berryessa family), Coombs Lane (Nathan and Frank Coombs), Chiles Valley (Joseph Chiles).
  • The Napatos Indians inhabited the land around the city of Napa.
  • Mallacamas Indians to the north of Napa were found in Calistoga. (Since a double “ll” in the Spanish language is pronounced as a “y”, the Mayacamas Mountain range is what it’s called today (in and around the city of Calistoga, crossing over into Sonoma County).

Then, it settled in for a bit. I’m ever so thankful for my stint at Robert Mondavi, when I was allowed to dig deeply. Among Christian Brothers, Charles Krug, Robert Mondavi Winery, and Beaulieu Vineyards, it was a new time. (Others, too, but these have their own quiet farmer stories… What a dynasty existed, but, that still allowed others to come into the valley, because all of the land wasn’t already gobbled up.

Fast Forward to Now

As I contemplate Napa Valley and how the “little guys” were – and some seeming still are – always fighting those coming in with more resources, and actually taking over in some instances, with no regard for their neighbors, it’s heart-breaking. I reached deeply into my soul for this one. Some empires, built on history, will pay all due respect to those who are in the lineage, related or not. Preserving the name is very important. Why? Because they’re ALREADY BRANDED. Buying a winery doesn’t mean that you know about marketing. I’ve had so many professional experiences with this one.

There’s one winery I recommended, once having but purchased by a corporation, “Don’t get rid of the established figurehead,” I said. After they no longer needed my services, they did drop the history. Then, they held tight with the brand, eventually someone new coming in. Alas, it’s for sale.

You Can Buy Land; You Can’t Buy Empathy

Okay, a bit controversial: when the nouveau rich come in, forget about it… (Because “new” money doesn’t always preclude history; but in some cases, it really does.)

They didn’t get their money handed down to them, in a caring way, so there goes the neighborhood. They have no reason to care. They buy, they dream big, because they have an exorbitant amount of money, and just take over. They get into city councils, construct new rules. If only we could reach their hearts.

I had two great comments that I want to share, the issue at hand:

  1. Bill Tobey – Wine Broker says:

These are important comments, so think about this. HOW do you want Napa Valley to be?

Fires Can Now Buy Time

Land has been stipped in Napa Valley. If I’ve learned anything from the fire in Sonoma County of 2017… I lot of people in the hills of Santa Rose, most of those gorgeous homes were lots. The hopes and dreams down the tubes. What they got from insurance only covered the bare minimum, if it actually covered that much. They may have ended up owning, and can’t begin again. This is going to also happen in Napa. Over-extended lands are going to go through a metamorphous… Then there’s that other side of the coin; will some of these local billionaires grab the land and being to farm big, in the hopes of having the grandeur of Henry VIII?

We’ll witness the rebuilding, and I’m hoping that some of the charm that’s defined Napa stays in Napa.


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Napa Valley Beyond the Fires, Small Family Farms Are Bureaucratically Being Squeezed Out

In the event you’ve not heard about this grassroots effort, here it is again, as we wonder so much about Napa Valley these days…


Save the Family Farms” is a group of owner-occupied grape growers, who make wine in Napa Valley and classify ourselves as “micro-producers.” We are small operations and the current COVID-19 economic crisis threatens our operational viability more than ever. Current Napa County regulations take a one-size-fits-all approach, requiring small family farms and vineyards to invest up to $10 million and several years trying to obtain a use permit. This short video below describes why small family farms and vineyards are important to Napa Valley and our path to economic viability via onsite tastings with direct to consumer sales.”

Save The Farms is a Napa Valley 501(3) non-profit, and I’m with them in spirit. I, too, worry about the small family farmers in Napa Valley. It is they who have a sense of community, charm, a true passion for their unique terroir, which they bought into long before it became chic to arrive.

As Ken Nerlove, of Elkhorn Peak Cellars, says in this video, “The small Farmer… that’s the character of the Napa Valley. That’s historically what the Napa Valley is about. And, when that goes away, um… the soul of Napa Valley can go away.”  The only way they can sell their wine is to have access to the direct consumer.

Legislation: Have to have access to direct consumer

  • In 1990, there were about 7,000 wholesale distribution houses. Today there are about 600 distributors.
    • They don’t want to take on small inventories, because they can’t make money with the brands.
  • Have to have access to direct consumer
    • It costs these small farmers million to do so; before they even make a pitch for sales. Think about that.

It makes no economic sense for small farmers to do so. They’re up against a rock and hard wall, it appears. Some of these farmers are only making 1,000 cases of wine a year.

This video is important to watch for all of the details.

No tasting rooms, no wine on-site can be sold; just how are they to survive? You can join their effort and follow this one.

This non-profit is in favor of the creation of a micro-winery-ordinance. It’s actually critical to this segment of wine in Napa Valley’s charm, a valuable diamond in the Napa Valley crown, the historical jewel around which the rest of the crown was constructed.




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Mastering the World of Wine Has Never Been Easier, Thanks to Evan Goldstein

Webinar and Education – Master the World

An extraordinary educator, Evan Goldstein MS might have exercised his rights to the “gold” in his name; as in, a golden opportunity not only for himself, but also for us, when he created Master the World™; Learn Like a Pro.

A new seminar is coming up on October 21, 2020, in the event you become inspired.

I personally walked into the world of wine in early 1993. I’ve had 27 years of studying, lessons, teaching, and enjoying it all. The positive relationships forged along the way have given me insights that are so worth sharing; ergo, we all benefit. Really, the world of wine has to be one of the most enjoyable professions on the face of the planet, especially when you combine great people and food with the wine. Most people have a “happy hour,” after hours. It’s a “happy day,” for those of us in this industry, all due to the end goal… wine.

Advocating for Evan Goldstein is one of my greatest joys, because he’s quite fabulous in my opinion, just for starters. He’s bright, energetic, well-educated, approachable, yet easy-going in his style. His latest project is engaging, thought-provoking, and a blast in the process.


FROM HIS WEBSITE: “A trip leading a group of sommeliers through the wine country of Brazil’s Serra Gaúcha was not when one would expect to have an “aha” moment for a new business idea. Alas, that is what happened to our Co-Founder and Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein in February of 2015.

Every morning, Evan watched a New York City sommelier, studying for the tasting section of a prestigious wine certification exam, ritualistically open a set of six crudely-packed mini wine bottles to blind taste, in an effort to train her palate. The wine bottles were packed by a friend back home to help her study. When she finished tasting, she would email home and ask for the wines’ identities to check her deductions. This got Evan thinking: There’s got to be a more effective way to train one’s wine palate, and not just for sommeliers but for all wine lovers.

Fast forward a few diligent years, we have figured out a high-quality production process, subjected it to sensory and lab analyses, jumped through regulatory hoops, created branding and packaging, and developed a wine evaluation tool that has morphed into a unique and effective wine education experience: Master the World.

This is no ordinary wine club – it is a wine club that will empower you to explore new wines, learn how to evaluate them, and decide for yourself what you like. No artificial intelligence telling you what to drink, no gimmicks, no swill.

I’m all for learning as much about wine as I can. Why? It’s made me a lover of world history (who knew?), craving for the flavors, knowing they reflect the exact point in time and place where they were created, even standing there! If this is wine nerdy, I’m in. It’s a great way to go out!

(“In moderation, my dear,” I hear Mother Saint Yolande saying to me and y’all, as a cautionary warning.)

EVAN’S INGENIOUS Master The World™ (MTW)


Master The World™ (MTW) @ www.MTWwines.com is a new and innovative wine education platform for industry professionals and consumers alike seeking to hone their palate. Subscribers can look to improve their tasting skills and expand their wine knowledge via carefully curated blind-tasting kits, conveniently delivered monthly to their door. Three subscription plans are available: an à la carte, “check-us-out” single kit for $90 (an original holiday-season gift or birthday present), a monthly “pay-as-you-go” option at $80 per kit, or a 12-kit annual subscription for $840, i.e. $70 a kit, including free overnight shipping during summer months.

Now launching in 45 states nationwide (excluding AL, DE, MS, SD, and UT), MTW is the brainchild of industry veterans Limeng Stroh (Co-founder/CEO) and Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein (Co-founder/Chief Wine Officer). Stroh and Goldstein are also long-time partners in Full Circle Wine Solutions, a top California-based wine & spirits marketing and education firm.

Each kit contains six wines packaged in 187 ml glass bottles, each selected by a panel of Master Sommeliers as textbook examples of a specific grape variety, region, and/or style. “Regardless of provenance, every wine comes from a top-notch winery, many of which are celebrated household names. We taste dozens of wines before zeroing in on our finalists,” notes Goldstein.

If you want to begin to learn about wine, this is like an experience that those of us who are “in the business” have, when we’re learning, and now so can you. If you want to brush up your wine knowledge, it’s equally fun and you can take advantage of more details; since you’ll already know some of what Evan will be introducing.


You have a bow and arrow in life. You can run around with arrows all day, trying to find and hit your target; or, you simply take time to find solid ground, draw the bowstring back, find your target, hold steady, pull back the bowstring so it’s taut and controlled, and then trust yourself to let go.

After just one session, you’ll have more understanding, knowledge, and a walk-away with more enlightenment. Being very candid and honest… I was able to guess four of the six varieties that I tasted, I got some regions right, but I didn’t get some others. There were times when I thought it was one thing, wasn’t sure; but I had been right, and sorry I hadn’t trusted my instincts. The reason I’m telling you this, even with my years of learning and visiting the world, I’m never going to know it all, none of us are. But I know I get to inspire the average person who is curious about what I do know, and it further educates. So now, take Evan… He impresses me… Nuf said?


Check out Evan if you’re ready to take what you know, no matter where you are in the process, to another level. It’s a fun way to pass the time, stretching your imaginations and your palates. He has plans and you’re invited: