Napa,News,Sonoma,Sonoma County,Sonoma Valley,Wine,Wine Country

News from Aratas Wine of Napa Valley ~ It speaks to our collective sadness

We’re all suffering in Napa and Sonoma valleys… There are a myriad of reasons; from absorbing toxic ash from “some other place” this time, to having been evacuated and praying for about a week to learn if your home is still standing, to getting home and having some damage, to getting back to an empty lot, or having lost a pet(s), or even people. It’s a fire war zone, in the middle of a virus war zone, and we need to elect a leader to see if we really are a free people zone.

It’s a painful stage, but we’re also finding little joys along the way, we have to. Californians are somewhat resilient. And, our firefighters have a passion beyond comprehension. Actually, they all do, too. They come from everywhere around the globe to experience it. I’ve been able to chat with them in my neighborhood (past fires), and they’re the best people ever, considering their enemy. Think about it.

[PHOTO: Stock that I purchased. All rights reserved.]

So, the News from Aratas Wine of Napa Valley

September 30, 2020

Calistoga, Napa Valley

To our friends in wine,

Thank you for the outpouring of love and support. Your messages and notes of encouragement are meaningful during this extraordinarily difficult time. This year has brought us unfathomable challenges. Tuesday, in the wee hours of the morning, our home, a cedar shake bungalow nestled among old oaks in a quiet box canyon, burned to the ground along with every home in our community. Sixteen years of life in the vines reduced to a pile of ash in just an instant. We are utterly devastated.

The Glass Fire ignited on Sunday morning in the thick woods off Crystal Springs Road a couple miles down the valley. It burst open and spread from 20 to 2500 acres in moments engulfing Rattlesnake Ridge directly above us. How aptly named as we’ve had a few close calls with our unpredictable neighbors over the years. The irony is cruel. Cal Fire’s brave, but battle-weary firefighters fought relentlessly for 24 hours while “Big Bertha” the starship 747 super fighter dropped retardant from overhead. Those golden hills draped in drought-stricken vegetation have been here before. The fires of 2017 still burn in our memory. This time, the intolerable heat and erratic winds were too much to harness, with the windswept the monster over the ridge, just before dawn. The battle was over.

I weep trying to find the words. Winemaker Matt’s family has been evacuated along with 80,000 other neighbors all waiting to know if their lives have been forever changed. The smoke and ash are overwhelming. We watch…and wait for an end to the carnage but the situation is dire. Over 48,000 acres of pristine old oak and redwood forest, historic wineries, homes, and schools are under siege at this very moment. It’s burning virgin land, never before threatened by fire.

The Land Trust of Napa was the first private land conservancy in the US (est.1976). Through its conservancy, 15 percent of all the land in Napa County; pristine wilderness and heartwood, has been voluntarily protected from development for future generations, to cherish as we do. It is all at risk and suffering along with the devastation of an agricultural community, which thrives by growing grapes. The Glass Fire and Shady Fire are still raging beyond comprehension. Everyone in wine country desperately needs your support and encouragement.

I hope those of you who visited us in the “treehouse” will cherish your memories as much as we do. So many of our very best of times started with a visitor and the pop of a cork. It’s what drives us and Aratas Wine.

So here we are. While the good news is our winery is fine for the moment and our fermented wine is resting safely in the cellar. Regretfully,  much of the 2020 grapes succumbed to smoke taint during the massive LNU fire just a couple weeks ago. It’s a one-two punch to the gut. So this year, our new baby, a lone Sauvignon Blanc, will carry the flag for Aratas Wine. It’s a lovely, elegant wine, harvested in the nick of time and we look forward to introducing it to your world. Our fall release event in Virginia, scheduled for Sunday, October 18, will go on as planned. We hope our east coast friends will join us for a night of hope and a positive spirit.

Thank you for supporting our restaurants, heavily weighted down by the COVID climate, and for choosing our wines for your table. Recently, we’d received exciting news we’ve been eager to share, but it will wait. We hope you are in good health and in a good place. We can’t imagine what else could be lurking behind the next corner, so now might be the time to drink your best wines first. I imagine you have felt defeated at one time or another this year, while grappling with the cloud of COVID. We are in it with you and hope a glass of fine wine shared with a friend might make it a little better. They say we’ll get through this…

With our gratitude and a heavy heart,

Stephanie Douglas

Please visit our website or social media outlets for more information, release event tickets, or to stock your cellar with our newly released wines. We appreciate your support more than you know.  www.AratasWine.com ~ www.NapaLandTrust.org


Books,Wine,Wine Appreciation,Wine Education,Winemaker,Winemaking,Women in Wine

Where do I Begin, I’m just so thankful ~ Lucia Albino Gilbert & John C. Gilbert

Thankful is the best place to start, because I needed a little jog.

Once upon a time ago, I wrote a story, Wine Review: Lucas & Lewellen Wines are Santa Barbara Delicious.

I received this comment: Professor Lucia Gilbert says:

Readers may be interested in knowing that Megan McGrath Gates is the winemaker at Lucas & Lewellen winery. Megan was appointed winemaker in 2007, and Director of Winemaking in 2014.

I responded, just happy that I had finished another story, with so much on my plate:

Hello Lucia, Thank you for your comment. I have talked about Megan McGrath Gates, on April 29, 2020. This time I wanted to focus on viticulture, with Lewis Lewellen (her employer).

I’d been writing about Lucas and Lewellen for a bit, exploring different aspects of the winery, and trying to recreate its heart and soul. I also know the attention span of a blog reader. So I thanked her; but, wasn’t ready to add more to the story at that time.

We continued the conversation, though, all the while my not realizing that Lucia Albino Gilbert & John C. Gilbert had just self-published this historically important book: Women Winemakers: Personal Odysseys. Lycia asked if she could send a copy to me. Lucia asked if she could send a copy to me. That I was ready to receive, and so my own odyssey began.

Here’s what you really need to know and remember ~ Well acclaimed history professors, writing about female winemaking history with in-person interviews, facts, figures, and from around places in this world. Each woman was interviewed and telling it like it was and still is, through having conducted what must have been some of the most tedious and extensive, albeit enjoyable, moments of the authors’ lives.

The foreword was written by Zelma Long. From there, it’s very focused, purposeful, and an important resource for any research related to the world of wine, as it cohesively and historically begins each odyssey for each woman; the who, what, when, and where of it all, into the emergence of women into a traditionally male-dominated world. The farmers grew it and the farmers’ wives stood at the ready to sell it at the end-of-the-driveway farm stand. That’s as close as they got to having some control. For the world of wine; get educated, but expect to stay in the lab as an enologist. Once in, many women wanted more and they managed to have it their way. Following each story, there are similarities and some differences.

[PHOTO: LEFT TO RIGHT: Elizabeth Vianna, winemaker at Chimney Rock, Napa Valley with Jose Diaz, my partner/husband.]

This book just draws one in…

After each introduction, bios were revealed, then how they emerged into their chosen field, and that burning question: Each woman was asked about working in a male-dominated field. The character of each woman seems to be just about the same, but not always for the reasons. That’s broken down into for unique entries.

Learn what it takes and who it takes to become that rising star

I spent a lot of time reading this book, digesting it in small increments, holding each story as a parallel reminder of my own personal odyssey, because I’ve broken my own glass ceilings. I have lived through so many of the challenges. And, what it took to have each trailblazing woman to get where she was at the time of her early beginning to where she now is, rings true for me, too. Early achievement in a career is the springboard for personal success, as are mentors.

This book is a focus on winemaking women who have found themselves in a “man’s world” and their careers that have followed.

  • California’s Trailblazers (1965-1974)
  • California’s Trailblazers (1975-1979)
  • Trailblazing Winemakers in International Regions
  • The 1980s to the Present

They explore pathways, and you’re along for the ride, somewhere in the world. You’ll discover the backstories for a lot of very influential wine people. Fascinating people have had similar experiences to discover who matches with which configuration.

  • The Sensory Pathway
  • The Family Pathway
  • The Science/Agronomy Pathway
  • The Enology Pathway

And, so YOU think you want to be a female winemaker? Good for you and you can thank those who blazed through those doors. They paved the way and you may never even know it. Those who do know it, certainly get more out of life.

Again, as a research asset, there are five Appendices, a Glossary, and a brief story of Lucia Albino Gilbert & John C. Gilbert.

I’ve included my friend Elizabeth Vianna, winemaker at Chimney Rock. She’s one of my Napa Valley rock stars, and always a delight to see and visit.


France,French Wine,Wine,Wine Accessories,Wine Appreciation,Wine Business,Wine Culture,Wine Ed,Wine Education,Wine tasting,Wine Travel,Winemaking

When you leave part of your heart in France ~ Château Sainte-Béatrice is partly responsible

What a charming little village Lorgues is, located in the Côtes de Provence region of France. This area bespoke France to me. It’s a region rich in viticultural history; and, is actually known to be the birth of Mediterranean wine grape growing. (From the Mediterranean Sea, the Romans entered France coming into this region.)

Provence is rosé country, my friends; delicious and delectably refreshing wines, and it was all mine for a day, before we headed south, going to Nice on the French Riviera, next. My first visit was to

Château Roubine Cru Classe, which I’ve written about over time. So, after this morning to mid-afternoon visit, we went into town. This is when I thought, “I could return to my French roots, here.” Franck Duboeuf said to me earlier in the week, “I hope you love France.” He was spot on, as it would be very easy for me to live in France, honoring my Bernier-Ouellette grandparents’ roots.

Côtes de Provence ~ Terroir and Regions

Just for a bit of background, this region is heavily influenced by its Mediterranean climate, being in close proximity to the Mediterranean Sea. It’s usually sunny, hot, and dry, varying with the sea’s influences; that is to say, depending on which way the wind is blowing. Its geology has complex, geological features. The makeup of its soils has a division line. In the northwest, the soil is limestone. In the southeast, the soil is crystalline.

  • Limestone = Composed of calcium carbonate, but it may also contain small amounts of clay, silt, and dolomite (sedimentary rock similar to limestone, usually found in a basin).
  • Crystalline = Composed of mica, kaolinite, and smectite.

There are five geographical areas in Provence: Coastal, Inland Valleys, Foothills, Beausset Basin, Sainte-Victoire Mountain.

And, there are six terroir designations: Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire, Côtes de Provence Fréjus, Côtes de Provence La Londe, Côtes de Provence Pierrefeu, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, and Coteaux Varois en Provence.

Lorgues Village

Just before we went to Château Sainte-Béatrice winery, our van stopped in Lorgues. I got out of the van, and my heart skipped a beat. There (picture above, lower, left side) was a red, slim-fitting dress on a mannequin. I could go no further in the town, I had to find the shop attached to the dress. I’m NOT a shopper, being a bit of a minimalist. I’ve left many European cities and towns, and bought absolutely nothing. When I see something I DO want (anywhere), I’m unstoppable. And I had to have that dress. I think I had waited my whole life for KINOALO Collection; and bought the dress, but the shop owner couldn’t take credit cards. This is the only way I saw Lorgues. I had to run up the street, to find an ATM machine that would convert cash into Euros. I just made it back to the store and back to the van. Got it! Everyone was waiting in the van for me, and off we went (about two blocks) to Château Sainte-Béatrice.

Château Sainte-Béatrice


We were welcomed as we walked into the reception room, which was filled with historical viticultural and winemaking memories and artifacts. So many tools from a time nearly forgotten of Provencal objects. The exhibition with old tractors represents the evolution of cultivation equipment. Each winery visited, in the 10-day whirlwind tour, took great pride in their emphasis on historical artifacts. Château Sainte-Béatrice was no exception; in fact, it’s exemplary. Such a collection seemed to gather everything seen in earlier winery visits, and a whole lot more, in one location.

I’m just going to run a group of photos for you. In my next story, I’m going to write about Chateau Sainte-Beatrice’s delicious and refreshing wines.

ADDITION: This photo below had a comment worth sharing, because it paints more of an image of “then.” From JCP: the blue machine was used in the countryside before the tractors to cut the grass of the meadows and also to plow. it was pulled by one or two horses. My response in the comments area.



Réserve du Domine Ste Béatrice 1988, Cotes de Provence, oh so tempting, how would it have held up? (The fact that it’s not in a cool, 55-degree wine cellar chilling, lust no more. Still, great to see a wine over 30-years-old, though; right, huh?)

Mastering the art of selection… what to explore first? I had absolutely no idea what this blue machine below actually is. I was just one person in a group of nine people. It was impossible to steal our eductor away from everyone else.

So, I put it out to my Facebook Village, which has quite a few wine professionals in it. “Most likely,” I thought, “someone from Europe will know.” As it turned out, with author Wink Lorch’s connections at the the Musée de la vigne et du vin de Savoie – (the Savoie wine museum), they provided two photos, one with a description of item.

— It still takes a village…

Labeling machine.
This machine from the 1960s is a manual triggered mechanical labeler. It was used to stick the paper label on the bottle. Different tin glues used. In the 1990s, mechanical labelers appear. If the labeling work is then greatly facilitated, the equipment had to be changed.

Well, we don’t have to be a wine scholar to know what this one is.

Whimsy tucked in with everything else, making me smile.

Cans, for what, for when?

And… my personal FAV. Who wouldn’t want a little cannon to scare away murmuration?



Times of BLM Correctness: Something So Simple in Petite Evolution Has Been Really So Complicated

Mission Statement: In today’s times… I halted dead in my tracks. So innocent, I would never have guessed the comments put forth. But I understand them, so I’ve morphed.

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz, all rights reserved.]

Wait for it

It started out so simply. The mission statement for PS I Love You is now more than a bit dated.

To promote, educate, and legitimize Petite Sirah as a noble variety, with a special emphasis on its terroir uniqueness.

Written in 2002, promoting was going to be my focus for the variety; because, as a wine grape, it had all but fallen off the known wine grape, varietals chart.  Easy, let’s fix them with a lot of publicity, starting in 2002.

So, how would this be accomplished? With education, through press releases. Again, easy.

Legitimize Petite Sirah as a noble variety… Let’s face it, the French wine industry has documented wine grape nobility, and they’re not going to change it, maybe not even in a blue moon. That’s even if we stand on our heads and spit nickels. So, not going to even think that anymore. But, very few people now would even say it isn’t a heritage grape in California. The history of Petite Sirah follows the year of American researched in a timeline, placed on PS I Love You… Ahead of our research, the history of Petite had been well-documented by Charles Sullivan, our noted American, wine historian, though U.C. Berkeley Publishing.

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz, all rights reserved.]

Terroir uniqueness, now this one is not totally complicated; since Petite Sirah morphs into wherever it’s planted. It does well in cool climates, in warm climates, and everything in between. You just have to taste and document each one separately. So, have fun with it.

1. My first draft updating the mission statement went to the members of PS I Love You.

To promote, educate, and legitimize Petite Sirah as a heritage variety, with a special emphasis on terroir uniqueness, taught by our Masters of Petite Sirah.

Lots of “Yeses!” But then I had two “Nos.” The first one made me stop and think, but I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it, yet.

JULIE JOHNSON of Tres Sabores:

I’m not sure how either reads to be honest.. sorry. “Educate” is confusing.  We’re not educating Petite Sirah.  We can educate ( the public, the press— etc “about “ petite sirah   Etc. etc.)   I don’t think the grape has any difficulty being legitimate.  I think it has a problem with garnering the recognition it’s due.  And we’ve always been about that.  That’s different.  Always love “celebrating” a wine. My two cents! 

The awkward sentence structure made PS I Love you educating Petite Sirah, itself; which of course ~ we don’t sit Petite down and offer it some courses. So, that could be more straight forward.

And, I’m over the “Noble” part, which was why I pulled it, switching out “Heritage.” And it is about garnering recognition. This Petite Sirah group still has a way to go to get those celebrating headlines Julie mentioned.

[PHOTO: Purchased.]

This is what you waited for

The second thought submitted for an edit, and coming from left field for me; when, in fact, it’s coming from the generation of my own adult children. We educated them around having empathy regarding social issues, and now they’re taking it to the next steps, which then re-educates us, the parents. Check it out… It came from Robert Biale Winery.

We have had a point come up in our company from someone about saying “Masters.” Right now since the Master Sommeliers have decided to drop the Masters part of their position. They are worried about BLM that people might have issues about saying Masters.  He thinks it just might be a sensitive thing to change to right now. Just wanted to let you know.

Ah… yeah. My kids would be right on this, too, if the Email had gone to them.

[PHOTO: Purchased.]

So, the Master Sommelier thing. I immediately began to research it. Yes, it’s already come up as an issue.

The New York Times: Prestigious Wine Organization Drops Use of Term ‘Master’ (From the Master Somm’s organization).

The organization, the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas, wants to be more inclusive. Some black wine experts say the recent changes aren’t enough.

By Christina Moral, June 22, 2020
A prestigious wine organization will stop its common use of “master” with a sommelier’s surname as part of an effort to be more inclusive and to help diversify the wine industry.

The organization, the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas, said in a statement last week that it wanted to play a part in diversifying the industry in the wake of nationwide unrest and conversations about institutional racism prompted by the killing of George Floyd.

From The Masters Sommeliers 

With great humility we commit to listening, learning, advocating and acting for change in our industry and our communities. We resolve to support initiatives for inclusion and diversity in the hospitality industry and to support organizations that create opportunities for the Black community and people of color to thrive as sommeliers, winemakers, distributors, retailers, and beverage industry leaders. We pledge to do more within our organization to inspire and support those seeking to become Master Sommeliers. In January we made a small but significant first step to encouraging…”

Aha, I see even more. What I had originally read had me understand they weren’t dropping it from their title, they’re just going to drop “Masters” from their lexicon. So, yes, we’ve also got to drop the ‘master,’ because I hear them. What also drives this is that I’ve held a few Masters of Petite Sirah events. I don’t intend to ever use that name again, even though a master can be a noun (person), with another master being a verb (achievement). It’s just too soon, if ever. Empathically, we’re still on an upward swing… maybe even toward more fun features.


PS I Love You promotes and accents the positives of Petite Sirah as a heritage variety worth enjoying.

[PHOTO: Purchased.]


Food & Wine,Food and Wine,France,French Wine,History,History Wine,Rosé,Terroir,Wine

Beautiful places I’ve been and photographed: Provence, France with Château Roubine Cru Classé

My theme is TERROIR; capturing the heart, soul, and essence of it. And, yes, there was most certainly wine education involved.

Beautiful places I’ve been and photographed: Provence, France.

[PHOTOS: Jo Diaz, all rights reserved.]

You say Provence and I say “lavender” (maybe I’ll even say Rosé).

It was just a perfect day under Provence sun at Château Roubine Cru Classé.

Imagine standing on the very earth where the Knights Templar once lived as one of their outposts. They were safety guards for Christians, who were on pilgrimages from France to the Holy Land, during the Dark Ages.

This Knight Templar stands guard in the lovely gardens of Chateau Roubine, celebrating that history.

Now, imagine owning a chateau on that land. May I introduce Château Roubine Cru Classé. This day was dedicated to learning about Provence terroir and wines, while having an exquisite luncheon (definitely black truffles included), on the grounds of this historic earth.

We first went on a vineyard tour, to whet our appetites. “I spied, with my little eye,” a touch of verasion in the vineyard. (For anyone who doesn’t know, veraison is when grapes begin to turn from green into their true purple colors;  the grapes sugar levels become elevated and then balanced enough for harvest).

My guides: on the left is Adrien Riboud, co-owner of Château Roubine Cru Classé (with his mother Valérie Rousselle). The gentleman on the right is their vigneron Pierre Gérin.

In the distance from the vineyards, you can see the chateau and its countryside.


Château Roubine Cru Classé Wines

In Provence, the art of their bottles is as important as the art of their vineyards and the wines within the bottles.

The amount of sophistication is revealed in every detail.

This day was followed by dinner at Chez Bruno with a Black Truffle Fixe Prix dinner. Each course revolved around black truffles; black truffles and rose go hand in hand due to where they’re both grown and lusted after.


Chez Bruno in Provence, France is Very Sophisticated

As guests of Chateau Roubine, we were welcomed to Chez Bruno Restaurant. in Lorgues, France.

Art was really well placed around the grounds at this jewel in Provence, with an eclectic edge on delightful.

Quite the lovely wall.

Black truffles, right now are about $95 per ounce… Chez Bruno has an all-black truffle menu. Their menus… https://www.restaurantbruno.com/en/menus

All of it, just all of it, all day long, was picture perfect and scrumptious. The amazing presentation of black truffles, from which our host to choose what he would like to share with his guests…



Brut,Brut wine,Bubbly,Bubbly Wine,Imports,Italy,Marketing,Prosecco,Rosé,Sparkling wine,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Marketing

Impulse buying, because you know…. Wine Marketing 101

I saw this bottle. I had no intention of buying any wine, I was just out to get some fruits and veggies, and a rotisserie chicken for my cat Buddy (in lieu of canned cat food). I was in Oliver’s Grocery Store in Windsor, California. As I turned from the rotisserie display, there it was… Right there, ready for an impulse buy.

I couldn’t wait to photograph it, it was so dazzling. There were so many reasons I wanted this bottle of wine:

  • The bottle’s artwork would make a great vase for delivering a long stem red rose to someone, from our bushes.
    • It would also be a great vase for white roses, found everywhere in our gardens.
  • This brut was made with organic grapes.
  • The price didn’t even matter, although it was a great price.

Notice, nowhere above do I mention that I even wanted a wine.

So why?

In the late 60s, my friend Leon Pinkham said to me, “Album covers have the greatest art on them.” I hadn’t thought much about it before he said that to me. I had just taken it all for granted, but once Leon pointed that out, it was clearer than clear.

Along with that musical generation came a platform for visual artists, too. They created, and if it was exceptional it became a lead into the magic that was inside.

Today, the same holds true for a bottle of wine. And, if you’re just beginning to enjoy wine, you’re the most susceptible, because you’re not bogged down by what you know. You’re open to innovation… You can live the excitement, and you’ll also build a brand.

Packaging will either draw you in, or move you on down the aisle to find exactly what you’re looking for. Before I understood (better than I do today) what was in the bottle, I was drawn to the label like a moth to a flame, bought the wine, and only then discovered what was inside. (Some pretty exciting days and some not so exciting.)

Before living in California, I lived and worked for radio station WBLM-FM, in Portland, Maine. I was as far away from viticulture as possible, but I loved my weekend food and wine adventures with my husband. We had a favorite wine shop that I’d go to each Friday. I’d buy a bottle of wine, bring it home, and we’d enjoy it over the weekend.

Finally, after months of doing this, Jose said to me, “Alright! I’m going to buy the wine this Friday, because every time you buy a bottle of wine, it has some flower or plant on it.” I couldn’t argue. He was right. So, off he went to Audie’s Wine Shop, and he bought a bottle of Clos du Val Cabernet.

You know, that’s the label with the three graces on it… a.k.a. three naked ladies. Rest my case.

Palama Rosé Brut

A blend of 95 percent Italian Glera white wine grapes and five percent of Raboso red wine grapes, the flavors of this sparkling wine didn’t disappoint. Chamat Method, the brioche flavors were present, lots of tiny bubbles danced in my glass and on my palate, and the finish was very refreshing. Produced by La Cantina Pizzoloto, this was really a delightful surprise… The flavors of excitement were the same as the bottle’s excitement that I had… One of those, Oh My Gawd shopping moments.

Here’s how wine marketing works, and it’s a personal story. I call it Wine Marketing 101, when you’re not going out with a precise shopping list or you’re not going to purchase a “library” wine, because buying wine is on such a basic level, completely proving my point about how we buy and what we buy… based on emotion.

This wine was NOT a sample.



France in Photo Retrospect ~ Château de St. Amour

My visit to France was orchestrated through Quintessential Wines and Georges Duboeuf Wines. Every bit of it had to do with meeting owners and/or winemakers for each place visited, in formal or informal settings, and sometimes both. All were located in the Beaujolais region of France, starting in the north and then moving southward. Time varied at each château, and each time I listened intently, while the photographer inside of me was also inspired and on pointe.

I’m a true believer that a picture is still worth a thousand words and are for quiet enjoyment. So, I’ll give you a few words and restrain from going overboard in the verbiage department. Enjoy yourself here, in St. Amour, France.


We bagan a media tour at  Château de St. Amour, owned by the very sweet and genuinely authentic Sidaurin family, with their onsite winemaker, while the Duboeuf family guides the winemaking process.

On this tour, the one item that really struck me, as being much more Europen than my own California wineries I’ve worked for and visited for stories, is their use of cement fermenting and aging tanks. I did work for Foppiano for nearly nine years, where I first learned about cement tanks… They have an entire wall devoted to being a cement holding tank; but, I haven’t seen anything like these small holding tanks in other countries. The sizes of these tanks range from 70 to 10,000 gallons, and they can also be larger (as in my Foppiano example). When you enter their cellars, aromatic history plays an important welcoming role.

winemaker and tanks

In this photo, Romain Teytea (right, working with Georges Duboeuf Winery) is interpreting the history of the wine cellar and their procedures, as told to him by the winemaker.



owner/grandparents and their adorably shy granddaughter.

I can only imagine the amount of intimidation for such a young child and so many “big” people; curious, yet cautions. She braved through it, though, and I was able to get a smile and nearly a goodbye wave had her arms not been full, as we departed. It’s was a true wine and food experience entrenched with Roman and French history, generosity, and a special camaraderie. Such a visit!

Interesting facts about the château from Quintessential Wines and Château de St. Amour:

The south-facing vineyards of the Estate include 49.4 acres, where most of the vineyards are more than 20 years old and trellised in the traditional Gobelet style. Harvest is conducted manually, in whole bunches. Semi-carbonic maceration and malolactic fermentation take place in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats. The wines see no oak. The Sidaurin family owns the Estate and has been aligned with Les Vins Georges Duboeuf for many years.

– Romain and winemakeraklgh;asehalsna



Château de St. Amour ~ Photo Perspective

Greeted by We began our tour in their chateau’s wine cellar, walking through a large ban door. Cement floors, aromas of past harvests, and a working of preparation for their incoming. This was the end of July. Literally the cellar of their home. How intoxicating harvest must be for them, when grapes arrive at the chateau.

Picnicking at Home

Château de Saint-Amour is the northernmost and smallest region of Beaujolais, France. Their estate has a kind of down-home-chateau charm that just draws you in. The “romance” of wine is especially pronounced in this region by virtue of its “amour” name. (Amour is French for love, and you might already know that. This is a “just in case.”) This estate exudes a homey comfort; a true living-working, grape farm. Imagine for a moment, you’ve arrived.

This photo of the Chateau on the wine label honors this silky smooth and great “entry” wine for anyone daring to cross over from white to the red side of wine. (Red wine lovers have every reason to love it, too.) It’s 100 percent Gamay… I believe once you’ve tried Gamay, you’ll never see red wine quite the same way. Similar to the body of a classic, gentle, and well-rounded Pinot Noir, Gamay is in the same wine weight category. Think French onion soup with Gruyère cheese, positioned on a toasted baguette smothered in butter, resting on sweet, white onions, in a savory beef broth. Now, you sip Château de St. Amour’s Gamay, and you know you’ve hit paydirt.

The lovely, long-standing garden touches, a small stable at the back of the gardens; because, the small child “likes to horseback ride.” It seems I’m always allowed to roam freely with my camera and get to know any property; so, I walked to the back of their gardens and discovered their very friendly horses. I curiously discovered their intimate spaces. It does allow for a bit of snooping and I’m always looking for the money shot; something that will deliver real emotion. This chateau is a major, family investment; I instinctively knew that investment. Owning my own family business, I’ve leaned it well over the last 30 years. With grandparents on-site, helping to raise an infant into childhood, hope is alive, well, and all is blooming.



Wine,Wine Ed,Wine Education,Wine Photos,Wine-Blog

Beautiful places I’ve been and photographed: BEAUJOLAIS, FRANCE

My theme is TERROIR.

The 1,686 words are missing here that I wrote, at one point. Terroir ~ The Most Complex Segment of Wine. This blog posting is more of a pictorial representation. The link to my story is a bit long, yet all of these images play a very important role in Terroir, according to my understanding. For today, just enjoy the images of the French countryside and take in the terroir moments.

Thank you Georges Duboeuf for the education. Each photo tells you where we went, from north to the south of Beaujolais, France.

It all began here, at the Georges Duboeuf hamlet.

DAY 1 [above photo] Northern Beaujolais: In the town of Saint-Amour, Château de Saint-Amour, with the Sidaurin family (owners) and winemaker Roland Berrod. The gardens always had a lovely touch to terror, with their bees and hummingbirds.

Château des Capitans in Juliénas with winemaker William Chevalier. The important shade is provided by the flowers, as we headed into the wine cellar.

Headed to Morgon to meet with Nicole Descombes, of Morgon Jean-Ernest Descombes winery.

Domaine des Quatre Vents, in Fleurie, France. The red doorway opens up the view of the little chapel in the above and below photos.

The hamlet of Fleurie, overlooking the town from the Madrone Chapel.

An evening dinner meeting in Odenas, France with owners Jean-Benoit and Tiphaine de Chabannes, at Chateau de Nervers.

DAY 2 – SOUTH OF FRANCE, the Market of Villefranche-Sur-Saone, shopping for ingredients for a cooking class with Chef Stephane.

The town of Oingt. The more important aspect of this town is for us to notice the gold colors of their stone… Stones used by Roman to build a solid structure.

Headed to the Vignerons (grape cultivators) des Pierres Dorees Coop, with director Sylvain Flache.

When vineyards were planted, it’s widely understood in France that their grape growing teams need to get out of the hot sun and have a break. These kinds of little shelters are missing in California and had me yearning for something like these to be built here. (Call me a dreamer.)

Sylvain Flache, kneeling, inspecting the grapes grown very close to the ground. Vines are not on a trellis system here.

A helicopter tour of the Golden Stone region of Beaujolais. This castle is an example of how some towns have been constructed, with the castle surrounded by a stone wall.

The famous Rock of Solutre… People can and do climb this mountain. On the day we arrived, the temps were in the 90s, so thanks, but no thanks. Instead, see the next image.

Maconnais region of France. Wine director Gilles Corsin. Pouilly-Fuisse – so delicious! The Mountain is to the left of Gilles in this image.

Domaine des Chenevieres‘ vine arbor above the wine cellar doorway.

Thank you, also, Quintessential Wines



Corona Virus Blues, Black Lives Matter, and California Fires… is it safe to come out yet?

How’s everyone in wine country doing?

Nothing But A Musing Here

If ever I was musing…

My wine blog… it’s taken a hit this year from my usual self. I don’t even know how I feel anymore. There’s so much more going on in my personal life; the death of my mother-in-law, a child of mine with a serious illness, friends now in the path of horrific fires (and perhaps us, again), and a cat who can’t live much longer into his 18th year, but if we have to evacuate again, into the car he goes again, which he hates…

I’m ready to sleep in the car, if need be. I’m so exhausted, so I would prefer not to. (We have invitations to places that will be safe, but I don’t even know if I want to go to other places, while California burns.)

And yet, I want to write about wine.

And, I want to continue dreaming about an upcoming trip in November to Venice, Piedmont, and Spain. I want it to happen so badly. I truly believe I lived in Venice in a past life. I’ve had a dream in Italian and I understood every word. It woke me out of deep sleep. I sat right up, woke Jose to ask, “What does this mean?” He casually said, “You were Italian in a past life, Now, go back to sleep.” I did, but I’ve never forgotten. I hold a deep feeling about being an old housewife, hanging out of her third-story window, to pull on the rope of a shared clothesline with a neighbor, across the way. We used to yell back and forth to each other, pre telephones.

This is August in wine county. Usually, it’s still summer in quietly, almost non-descript, temperatures in the 80s. When August hits, I’ve always been able to feel the slightest descent. Not this year, not in this global, pandemic year with a crazy kind o’dragon that’s shooting lightning bolts to an earth that was first baked by the highest temps on record… getting it all nice and crispy… for the next “greatest show on earth,” and I don’t mean any real circus has come to town.

So there. I want to write about wine, but I’ll be damned if I can find the words right now.

So, anyway…

[Photo purchased: Iakov Kalinin]

Thank you WineBusiness.com for promoting this story. And thanks to Bluest Sky Group for the dedication to having this wine business trip happen in November.


Canned Wines,Rosé,White Wine,Wine,Wine Spritzers

Where to Begin Again Recommending Wines of Wine-Worthy Samples

It’s been since June 3, 2020, that I’ve been able to actually journal about wines I’ve been enjoying. I’ve never stopped notetaking, it’s just that Covid, Black Lives Matter, and now the election have just taken over, while the world continues to really swirl around. Lots of personal passions and challenges; this also included some organizing and jumping-into-ZOOM hoops, with the PS I Love You group.

Yet, I still do slow down to enjoy food and wine each day, not just put it into a story.

Many people are now better adjusted to lives at home 24/7. I made that segue in 2001, and am just about ready to celebrate 20 years of loving it. Having so much to do on this beautiful land is part of it, and it’s also about the hours. I used to love 80 hour weeks at my desk, but not anymore… Not when I have grandchildren, can feed the birds, and keep the flowers and veggies still coming. And, the wines…

Having many ducks now in a row, I still try to get back to my computer keyboard on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Wine is such an integral part of having enjoyed life along the way, taking notes, traveling to parts unknown, and working hard.


Beginning with Tiamo, dry wine spritzers in a can.  I’ve loved wines in cans, since the instant, they came out. Being an early adopter on this one, I’ve watched the acceptance of alternative wine selections in cans also continually grow. And I’m not surprised.

“A benefit near any water sports”

Today, there are also all types of wine knock-offs being crafted, and for so many different audiences. In the beverage isles of some large grocery stores, it’s become a bit unreal to simply find a bottle of just real lemonade, and if you make it carbonated, so much the better, but yet another bottle.

So, memorize this image, if you’re looking for something refreshingly fun, and really satisfying. It will let you have a little wine experience, while also quenching your thirst on a very hot day, like this one. I didn’t sip this one, I found myself indulging a bit. I just saw a friend add a bit of Perrier to her red wine. I didn’t flinch. I knew it was a mod-mood-thing, and we just kept talking, as she blended.

So here’ the skinny on the spritzer #samples I tasted:

Only 90 calories, in 8.4-ounce cans, and five percent alcohol by volume. Let’s just say, I wasn’t the earliest adopted on these spritzers. My snob factor was in full bloom, when they arrived on the market. Still, I’m also not a “keeping up with the Jones” either. I just had to think about it, and a 100-degree day put me over the edge. Sweating bullets, at the time it had been well over three weeks of 100-degree weather (in June), and that will lead you right into the samples you’ve had chilling for a bit, and right to something to stop the weather encouraging more hot flashes. As it happened, Timao Spritzer Time kicked in.

I’ve enjoyed their wines in cans, now it’s the Spritzera!

From Tiamo: “Tìamo is an innovative and modern brand produced sustainably from organic grapes, a perfect match for the canned wine format that promotes common sustainable attributes, like lightweight packaging and efficiency in recycling,” explained Todd Nelson, marketing and communication manager for Winesellers, Ltd.  “Tìamo organic White and Rosé are ideal for this application and entry into the emerging canned wine category.”

Tìamo Dry White Wine Spritz

  • 8.4 Ounces
  • Made with organic grapes
  • 5 percent alcohol by volume
  • Deliciously clean white wine
  • With love and moderation
  • Made in Italy

Tìamo Dry Rosé Wine Spritz

  • 8.4 Ounces
  • Made with organic grapes
  • 5 percent alcohol by volume
  • Only 2-grams of sugar
  • No sugar or artificial sweeteners
  • Made in Italy

These little spritzers are very lively, their faint wine nuances have just made it perfect to do a quick, safe guzzle, given how hot and thirsty I was when I opened them. Immediately satisfied that I made the right choice for writing, because it’s really impossible to guzzle wine, but a quick throw your head back and just take it all in, as we adjust to heat, that was pretty much what I wanted… It was perfect.

And, BTW, no artificial flavors or sweetners. Vegan-Friendly. Gluten-Free. what’s not to love in 100-degree weather!