April 2008 Archives

Tracking Bordeaux Across Borders

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By Robert Farmer
latache.jpgIt seems fitting that on the heels of news recently that Robert Parker is still of the mind that European wines, on balance, are superior to American wines, that the Europeans might be more inclined to pursue remarkable and innovative ways for dealing with fraud. Yes, there is a racket in which swindlers endeavor to dupe would-be wine buyers into buying something that is not what it seems. And while it might not seem a big deal to the pedestrian wine buyer, when it comes to, say, buying a $7,000 bottle 1947 Cheval Blanc, the buyer is keenly interested in getting what he or she paid for. That's why news recently of fraud prevention innovations isn't so surprising.

My So-Called Grape Life

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By Courtney Cochran


Forward-thinking Napa vintners Susan and Duane Hoff have searched for ways to bring the experience of making wine at their bucolic Spring Mountain property closer to consumers since they founded Fantesca Winery (fantesca.com) in 2004. An industrious pair, the Hoffs ran through the typical canon of winery marketing shtick: they built a web site, hosted lavish harvest events for club members, and even created a MySpace page.

Motown Merlot

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By Courtney Cochran

bottle_merlot.gifWhen former Motown Records CEO Kedar Massenburg launched K'orus Wine (koruswine.com) in late 2007, he did so with a splashy launch party in Beverly Hills attended by the likes of Stevie Wonder and Vivica Fox.  And while not the only wine launched with a celeb-studded fête in recent months , Massenburg's offering differs in a notable way - it's intended for African Americans.

Cinematic Splash: Top Films for Wine Lovers

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by Courtney Cochran

film.jpgIn most films, the cast is comprised of seasoned actors who possess a vibrant screen presence and innate ability to charm the audience.  But for a handful of movies in which wine itself plays a major role, we might as well add "mouthwatering" to the list of qualities a cast may claim.  Encompassing major motion pictures, documentaries and even a mockumentary, our list of top films for wine lovers covers lots of territory - affording viewers plenty to digest when it comes to wine and the silver screen.

California Wine an Earthy Choice

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By Robert Farmer

3Es_circles.jpgIt seems that the state of California sometimes is fighting its own personal battle against global warming. The Golden State enacts initiatives that are separate and apart from the national programs - or even the national objectives. As the 8th largest economy on the planet, I suppose it's important that the state makes an environmental policy that sets the bar for the planet. The same can be said of California's wine industry, which has provided the standard for environmentally friendly wine-producing practices for years.

Earth to Ukiah

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By Robert Farmer


It's fairly obvious that, although Earth Day is officially April 22, what is less known is that April is actually Earth Month. But what everyone ought to know is that every day is actually Earth Day. We have one planet. We have one chance to make it work. So it is that I continually bring up the subject as it relates to Wine Country. Because when it comes to the wine industry, the connection to the earth is top on the list of Things That Are Important.

Insider Trading

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wildduck-homead.gifBy Courtney Cochran

When it comes to the financial markets, taking tips from insiders can get you into some serious trouble (remember Martha's little foible?) But - fortunately - when it comes to wine, there's nothing illegal about getting the inside track on some good juice.

In The Wine World, It's Always Earth Day

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By Robert P. Farmer

earth.jpgWhen you're making wine, the term "earth day" has a different meaning than the one conjured up by what you see in the media at this time of year.  Because when the earth is your office, every day is earth day. So each April, when the focus turns globally to the single day we've set aside to call attention to the fragility and splendor of the Big Blue Marble (don't we really need more than one day for that?), it's worth pointing out the ways in which Wine Country--by that I mean wine-producing regions across the globe--have quietly led the charge to be earth-friendly.


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Blame it on Ravenswood. With their irresistible Zinfandel, Cab and Chardonnay flowing freely, the audience was well primed for 'Corked', one of the 75 films featured at this week's 11th Annual Sonoma Valley Film Fest.  Created by local winemaking millennial/GenXers Russ Clendenen and Paul Hawley, Corked leaves no stone unturned in a hilarious spoof on the wine industry.  While Sideways took aim at the wine tourist, this little gem nails the insider's perspective.

Top 10 Girl's Getaway Friendly Wineries

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girlsdrinkingwine2.jpgPlanning a girl's getaway or better yet a bachelorette bash? A surreal escape to wine country is the perfect answer.  Days filled with spa time, fabulous food and of course... wine tasting.  Some wineries fit the bill better for a celebration, either with their bubbly wines, large outdoor terraces or group inviting atmosphere. WineCountry.com recommends the following wine tasting rooms for your celebratory weekend:

The Sipping Point

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millennials.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Ever since a 2005 Gallup Poll showed that - gasp! - twentysomethings were drinking wine in notable quantities, marketers have been atwitter about "what to do" with these radical new (read: young) enthusiasts.  And now, with the latest news that Millennials (those who've turned 21 after the new Millennium) prefer wine to beer, pundits seem unable to stop marveling at the revolutionary behavior of America's youth when it comes to their drinking habits.

Wine Review Rescue

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winebottles.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Hold on to your hats, folks - wine online just got a whole lot more interesting.

I'm talking about Nirvino (nirvino.com), the brand new wine rating and social networking site started late last year by a couple of guys whose serious wine habit is clearly matched by some seriously stellar software programming skills.  The unprecedented service - which aggregates wine reviews from the likes of Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast Magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle into a single score - is a boon for anyone who's ever agonized over a wine purchase, wondering whether the critics deemed it quaffable

Top 10 Hot Wine Tastings for Spring

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Spring can only mean one thing in wine country, new releases!   The event schedule is heating up and there is no better way to experience most all the wines within a region than through a special tasting.   Mark your calendars and get ready to hit the road for some key tasting adventures throughout wine country this Spring.  

1. Napa Valley Mustard Festival: Celebrate the beautiful mustard season in Napa Valley. Taste artisan made mustards, specialty foods and Napa wines at The Marketplace, the Napa Valley Mustard Festival's Signature Event, at COPIA: The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts. Get tickets online now for the weekend's events, March 17-18. Need a place to stay for the weekend? Check out the luxurious Exclusive Experience package with Vintage Inn, just down the road in Yountville.

Pink Out, Indeed

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roseWine1.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

AC Nielsen news keeps on confounding, now with reports that sales of rosé wine in the US rose an astounding 53.2% during the 52-week period recently surveyed.  These gains - which apply to bottles of rosé priced $8 and up - represent more than 17 times the increase in table wine sales observed during the same period.