Recently in Wine News Category

Sonoma Harvest 2013 - Up Close and Personal

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istock_harvest.jpgGet an inside look at Sonoma Harvest 2013 through several videos being posted by wineries across Sonoma County below including Benziger Family Winery, Inman Family Wines and many more.

Click Here for more news, reports and pictures of harvest!




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Benziger Family Winery




Inman Family Wines




Napa Harvest Season 2013

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Harvest has descended upon Napa Valley once again. Join the excitement through tweets, pictures, upcoming harvest events (grape stomps, grape picking, wine dinners, etc) and general reports from wineries all over Napa Valley and their thoughts on this year's vintage and 2013 season.







Arts in April: Beaulieu Vineyard

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Appreciate the Arts in the Napa Valley throughout the month of April.

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Beaulieu Vineyards, located in the heart of Napa Valley in Rutherford, will play host to the original wine paintings of local artist Penelope Moore whose work will be on display starting April 1st in BV's Maestro Tasting Room and Club Room.

On Sunday, April 14th from 1:00-4:00pm, join other guests and enjoy a wonderful fusion of art and wine, live music, and afternoon hor d'oeuvres. Each of Penelope's paintings will be paired with a sinfully selected bottle of BV juice. Guests will have the opportunity to bid on each pairing. The lucky winner will have a sensory experience to take home. Tickets are only $15 per person or complimentary to club members.

But you don't have to wait until April 14th to start bidding!

  • Bid In Person: Visit Beaulieu Vineyards anytime starting April 1st - April 14th. Just mention "Arts in April" to receive two Maestro Tastings for the price of one to enjoy while you view and bid on the art.
  • Bid Online: A selection of five paintings will be available to preview and bid online at www.facebook.com/penelope. Bid on the painting by leaving a comment under the corresponding painting with the amount, your name and phone number. Online Auction closes on Sunday, April 14th at 4:00 pm PST. "Buy it Now" bids win. Visa, MC, AMEX, PayPal accepted.



Partake by KJ : Now Open in Healdsburg

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Kendall Jackson Winery is upping the ante of your tasting experience with it's very own wine tasting lounge, Partake, is now open!

KJ_newWineTastingLounge_Partake.jpgPartake is located in the ever popular and trendy town of Healdsburg, right off the square, and will specialize in wine flights and seasonal bites that showcase the diversity of flavors in Sonoma County. Imagine an array of estate grown olive oils, organic vegetables, fruits & herbs, artisan cheeses, and sustainably raised meats - each dish artfully inspired to pair with the vast collection of Kendall Jackson wines.

Kamen Wines: New Tasting Room!

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kamenEstateWines_TastingRoom.jpgIt was with much excitement that Kamen Wines opened a tasting room to showcase their wonderful wines to the public earlier this summer. With harvest and crush festivities abounding in wine country right now, now's the perfect time to visit Sonoma County and stop by Kamen's new tasting room!

The Kamen Estate Wines Tasting Room is located in the historic downtown square of Sonoma  and is is open to the public daily. Tasting fees depend on the wine flight selected. See below for more details.

Signature Flight: A perfect way to enjoy the varietals in the Kamen Estate Wines portfolio, a rotating selection of current release Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Writer's Block Blend & Cabernet Sauvignon. 20 per person. Waived with two bottle purchase. 

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Premier Flight: For the Cabernet lover, a selection of three library vintages for a vertical comparison of our flagship varietal. $35 per person. Waived with three bottle purchase. 

Vineyard Tasting: By advance appointment only, a private tour and tasting in their mountain vineyard. Guests will taste four wines complemented by artisanal cheese & charcuterie, while enjoying sweeping views of the Mayacamas Mountains and San Francisco Bay. They offer this experience once daily. Secure your reservation by credit card 48 hours in advance. 24 hour notice is Required for any alterations or cancellations.  $60 per person.  Allow 1 ½ - 2 hours for this visit. 

To schedule your visit, call 707.938.7292 or email info@kamenwines.com.

Harvest Update: Picking & Sorting Grapes

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Wineries around Napa Valley and Sonoma are watching their vineyards and grapes closely and will start harvesting any day now. Some have begun harvesting already. See the round-up of updates from across the blogosphere.

St. Francis Winery - Sonoma County, CA
"Our fourth consecutive "September Harvest" began with this morning's arrival of 8 tons of hand-picked Sonoma Valley Chardonnay grapes at our inspection platform. To our specifications, the sweet (24° Brix), plump golden grapes were hand-picked and cold to the touch--a good start for crushing. Once again, the sights and smells on our bustling Crush Pad are unmistakable: it is Harvest in Sonoma.- Christopher Silva, President & CEO
~ Click Here to read full post or Watch the video below!



Cuvaison - Napa Valley, CA
Report: At 10 pm on September 11, 2012, several crews began harvesting Pinot Noir and Chardonnay  grapes from our estate vineyards in Carneros. Crews worked tirelessly until 4 am, bringing in 31 tons of Pinot Noir and 32 tons of Chardonnay! The grapes look fantastic and we are all very excited about this year's crop! Watch the video to get a first hand look.

Get the Scoop on Napa Valley Harvest Season

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EVENTS:
Check out upcoming harvest season and crush events happening in Napa Valley in the months of August, September and October. CLICK HERE!


VIDEOS:
St. Supery - Learning about Harvest Season & Crush
Harvest Season in Napa Valley Kicks Off!

Harvest Season in Napa Valley Kicks Off!

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EVENTS:
Check out upcoming harvest season and crush events happening in Napa Valley in the months of August, September and October. CLICK HERE!

2012 #NVHarvest
Read tweets from folks all over Napa Valley involved with this year's Harvest. CLICK HERE!

St. Supéry has gone to the dogs...

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stSupery_Blog_DogFriendly.jpgNo need to leave Fido at home when you travel to Wine Country and go wine tasting! There are plenty of pet friendly wineries in both Napa Valley and Sonoma.

St. Supery, located in Napa Valley, have declared themselves "THE MOST dog friendly winery in the WORLD"! and encourage visitors to bring their furry friend along to the Estate tasting room, French parque, or petanque courts. St. Supery loves dogs so much that they even let their employees bring them to work and have regular visits from Buddy the Chiweenie, Nicki the Boxer, Rogue the Tibetan Terrier, and Coco the long-haired Chihuahua.

This year they are supporting a great cause at the Napa Humane's inaugural Walk for the Animals on August 5th.  All donations made go directly to Napa Humane's life saving programs like their low-cost spay & neuter clinic, their affordable vaccination and microchipping clinic, mobile adoption & educational outreach programs.

CLICK HERE to read more about St. Supery being a dog friendly winery and how you too can personally support Napa Humane.

Be sure to read the Wine Country Travel Guide: Pet Friendly for tips and suggestions when traveling with your pet to Napa Valley or Sonoma County.

Kick Off Your American Summer with Chandon

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chandonLimitedEdition_MemorialDay.jpgNothing says summer like picnics and pool parties. With Memorial Day - the official start of summer - right around the corner, Chandon celebrates its American Heritage with the launch of its Limited Edition Bottle.

The perfect accessory for summer, this special edition of Chandon Brut Classic sparkling wine is wrapped from head to toe in patriotic red, white and blue. Available June 1 through September 1, 2012, the bottle will be sold nationwide and on http://www.chandon.com in both 750ml (SRP: $22) and 187ml (SRP: $7).

With its fruit-forward taste, Chandon is also ideal for mixing in refreshing cocktails that are perfect to pair with summer fare. Here is a favorite:

Chandon Citrus Fizz

Ingredients
  • 3 oz Chandon Brut Classic
  • 2/3 oz Belvedere Vodka
  • 1/3 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup

Directions: Shake Vodka, lemon juice and syrup ingredients over ice, strain into a flute and top with 3oz Chandon Brut.

Vine Cliff Winery Offers Weekly Wine Tastings w/ Winemaker Jim Kress

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vineCliffWinery_Vineyards.jpgVine Cliff Winery
7400 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558 707.944.1364
Open daily 10am - 4pm, by appt only

Vine Cliff Winery, located in the Oakville appellation of the Napa Valley, has announced a new program to allow consumers to tour the winery and taste their wines with winemaker Jim Kress.

"We are very pleased that our guests will have this opportunity," said Rob Sweeney, Vine Cliff's Proprietor and General Manager.  "Jim is a great guy, and what could be better than tasting our wines with one of the key people responsible for making them?"

Kress joined Vine Cliff prior to the 2011 harvest. He  has 16 vintages under his belt having worked previously at St. Clement Vineyards and Domaine Chandon. After graduating from the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University, Jim's passion for food and wine eventually led him to the Master of Science program in Viticulture and Enology at University of California, Davis.

"I am excited to have the chance to share our passion with Vine Cliff's guests ," Kress said.  "We'll check out the production area, kick some dirt in the vineyards, then relax in the caves and try some wines. It should be a lot of fun!"  

The tours and tastings are being offered every Friday at 3 pm and last about 90 minutes. A maximum of 12 guests per week may participate and the cost is $25 per guest. Prior appointments are required, and may be made by calling 707-944-1364. Children and pets are not permitted.

Founded in 1871 and owned and operated by the Sweeney family since 1985, Vine Cliff Winery focuses on producing Cabernet Sauvignon from their estate vineyard in Oakville and Chardonnay from their vineyard in the Los Carneros District.

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Livermore Wine Country - Garden Trails

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lvwineOrg_PhotoCredit.jpgJust in time for Earth Day, the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association celebrated the opening of the Drought Resistant Garden Trail with a sign installation and toast at Rodrigue Molyneaux Winery on April 12. Developed in cooperation with the Alameda County Master Gardeners, the initial phase of the new trail includes the first of many local winery and event center gardens to feature native, drought resistant plantings. Trail maps will soon be available at www.LVwine.org and at each of the following garden trail locations in Livermore Valley:

Cedar Mountain Winery (7000 Tesla Road): A wide perennial garden flanks both sides of the barrel room. The garden is filled with roses; especially captivating is the climbing rose Altissimo. Hardy penstemon and sages also fill the beds.

Concannon Vineyard (4590 Tesla Road): Playful topiary is the obvious theme of these gardens, where even mature Fruitless Mulberry trees are trained into arches and orbs. Drought resistant New Zealand flaxes, purple hopseed and daylilies are scattered among the olive trees. Concannon was one of the first wineries in Livermore Valley to use roses as detectors of molds and mildew in the vineyard.

Las Positas Vineyards (1828 Wetmore Road): Many drought resistant grasses, including California fescue and Mexican feather grass are planted in this extensive landscape that also features Teucrium chamaedrtys (germander).

New Season, New Wines

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chMontelenaLabel.jpgSubmitted by Chateau Montelena

Now that we've officially kicked off the beginning of a new season here at Chateau Montelena, it's time for spring renewal and getting a fresh start in the New Year. For some, that may mean starting a new garden, taking up a new hobby or working on some spring cleaning. For us, spring means enjoying longer days, ample amounts of sunshine and the start of a new growing season in our vineyard.  

We're also looking forward to sharing our three new releases wines: our 2008 Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and 2009 Montelena Estate Zinfandel are now available for your sipping pleasure. Aside from being great pairings with spring and summer dining experiences - either along with a park picnic or out on the patio under the stars on a warm evening - they're also three fantastic reasons to make more room in your wine cellar. At the end of a long day, there's nothing better than grabbing a great bottle of wine to hang out on your home patio with your favorite people and savor a glass of wine as you unwind on a warm and clear night. The season of "patio wine" is upon us.

chateauMontelena_CabRelease.jpgWith three new Montelena wines to choose from, we're certain that there's an option for every palate and every occasion - from a special, celebratory dinner with our 2008 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon to a family barbeque with our 2009 Estate Zinfandel and even a mid-week repose to savor a special meal alongside our 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet just-because-its-Wednesday-and-you-need-a-break.  

So whatever your wine preference may be, we hope that you take some time to enjoy the new season, relax on the patio outside and delight in a glass (or two!) of your favorite Montelena wine. And next time you're in Calistoga, stop by the Chateau to taste them all, pick your favorite and stock up - we have a long and glorious spring and summer ahead of us.

CLICK HERE to see more posts in the Chateau Montelena Blog.

Korbel Practices Sustainable Wine Growing

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There are a lot of wine terms to keep up with if you visit wine country. Many times we have no idea what they mean, we just nod our heads in silent agreement. One such term that many wineries declare that they have implemented is sustainable wine growing. But, what does this mean?

According to the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, "Sustainable winegrowing practices help reduce water and energy use, minimize pesticide use, build healthy soil, protect air and water quality, recycle natural resources, maintain surrounding wildlife habitat, provide employee education, and communicate with neighbors about vineyard and winery operations."

There are many wineries in Sonoma County that have made significant changes with how they grow grapes and make wine. Watch how Korbel Champagne Cellars increased energy efficiency, saved money, reduced CO2 emissions and improved water quality through installing a new aerator system.

Korbel Champagne Cellars Process Water Ponds Efficiency Measures

Help BV Coastal Estates Give & Give Back

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"At BV we make wines to enjoy at every American table. The fact that so many people are not able to put food on that table is a critical issue of our times," says BV Marketing Brand Manager, Noelle Campbell. "In America, more than 50 million people go hungry each day, and 17 million of those are children. Hunger relief has become a focus of our BV Coastal Estates mission and a way to give back to the community."

As part of the Give & Give Back online challenge, BV asks Americans to commit at least 1 million volunteer minutes to food banks, soup kitchens and hunger relief agencies nationally. When BV reaches the challenge goal of 1 million volunteer minutes, American wine lovers will have contributed the volunteer time equivalent of $356,000.


Wine Samplers for the Holidays

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tastingRoomWineSampler_2011.jpgThe wheel. Sliced bread. Electricity. TastingRoom.com wine samplers.

Life was fine without these revolutionary inventions but it's oh so much better with them.
 
How can one wine product be that different and industry-changing? We're glad you asked. Wine samplers let you try wine before you buy the bottle. That's right, no more paying first and then hoping you like the wine. These samplers let you taste six top wines at home and then buy bottles of your favorites. Like we said--it's revolutionary.
 
And, we're excited to offer our readers a special 1¢ Shipping promotion to discover this amazing wine innovation for themselves. Click here to shop and use promo code WCGIFT.* Better hurry! Offer expires 12/30/2011.

Monterey Wine Harvest - 2011 Update

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Monterey County Wraps Up A Positive - If Unusual - Vintage

crush2008_01.jpgOctober 28, 2011 (Monterey, CA)--"This is my ninth harvest in the area and it has been unlike any that I can recall," says Executive Director for the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association, Rhonda Motil of Monterey County's 2011 growing season. "The growers have all handled Mother Nature's curve balls with the patience and expertise indicative of our winegrowing region."

While growers and vintners throughout Monterey County admit that this has been an out-of-the-ordinary year, lovers of the area's elegant and well-balanced wines will be pleased to learn that the strange growing season has yielded overwhelmingly good quality across its nine AVAs.

"Climactic events like a wet spring, late rain in June, a milder-than-usual summer, and a big rain storm in early October presented us with many challenges, but the fruit coming into the winery is superb," said Matt Shea, Vineyard Manager of Bernardus Winery in the Carmel Valley. "The long summer coupled with adequate soil moisture created the perfect conditions for Pinot Noir on the Central Coast. The loose clusters, small berries, low yields, and long hang time will equate to concentrated wine with lots of depth and flavor."


Harvest In Wine Country Report

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by Courtney Cochran

istock_harvest.jpgHarvest is always a nail-biting time for winegrowers, but never more so than in a cool, late year like this one. Why? Early autumn rains can wreak havoc on fruit left on the vine to ripen long into the season, but low sugar levels in cooler years necessitate doing just that.  As a result, this year brought fretting throughout wine country over when to pick versus when to roll the dice and hope for the best.  

In some instances, grapes - especially whites and lighter reds - were harvested a bit behind schedule with little incident, while in others, rain fell on crops that were awaiting that extra bit of sunshine that never came. Here are insights from the harvest trenches on the peculiarity of the 2011 season. 

The Winery at Reata Opens in Napa Valley

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New Vision for Historic Rancho Property

reattaWinery.jpgNAPA, CA, Oct. 19, 2011 - The Winery at Reata has opened the doors to its stunning California coastal lodge, located in the rolling hills that were part of General Vallejo's sprawling Suscol Rancho more than 150 years ago. The winery invites guests from around the world to enjoy its newly landscaped grounds, gracious hospitality and a wine tasting experience that is unique within the Napa Valley. 

"Reata has some of the most beautiful views in the Northern California Wine Country," said Alyssa O'Hare, co-founder and president for Reata. "I was raised on a working ranch in Oregon, and this estate is magical for me. From our veranda you can see the whole panorama from the Napa Valley to San Pablo Bay. It's a wonderful place to appreciate the beauty of this area."  

"We want people kick back and stay a while," says O'Hare. Guests are invited to soak up the sun on the veranda, sample wines at the gorgeous tasting bar, tour our landscaped grounds or simply relax by the massive stone fireplace. Barrel tastings are held daily and can be scheduled for private parties. Interactive guided tours are available by appointment, and the winery also offers a variety of formal and informal food pairings with Reata's portfolio of wonderful wines.




Domaine Chandon Winery Hosts National Breast Cancer Foundation Benefit

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Television Personality and National Breast Cancer Spokesperson Whitney Port to Present Whitney Eve Collection at October Event

Napa, CA (October 3, 2011) -- On October 13, 2011, Domaine Chandon, American Sparkling pioneer, hosts the sixth-annual Breast Cancer Awareness benefit in partnership with the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF). This year's highly-anticipated event features a fashion presentation by television personality and National Breast Cancer Spokesperson Whitney Port, as well as and hors d'oeuvres by Michelin-starred Chef Perry Hoffman of Chandon's étoile Restaurant. Details and ticket information are available at: www.chandon.com/pinkparty.

Whitney-Port-Headshot.jpgWhitney Port serves as a spokesperson for the National Breast Cancer Foundation, as part of a national initiative for early detection among young women.The October 13 benefit marks Port's first major public appearance on behalf of the organization. The event, which includes a reception, silent auction and Whitney Eve fashion presentation, will be held at Domaine Chandon winery from 5:30-8:30pm. 

Since 2006, Chandon has supported local and national initiatives in the fight against breast cancer. As a proud sponsor of NBCF, Domaine Chandon invites consumers to join them in the fight by entering the code "Chandon4theCause" on Chandon's Facebook page to activate a $1 donation to NBCF. Chandon is also providing Facebook fans the ability to easily share the promotion with their networks to continue to raise awareness for the cause and NBCF.

Napa Valley Grape Harvest Begins!

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Napa Vintners


Harvest Season is a wonderful time of year to visit Napa Valley! Looking to get an inside look into "crush"? Check out our list of upcoming harvest events around Napa Valley

CLICK HERE for list of activities!

Freemark Abbey Celebrates 125th Anniversary

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freemarkAbbey_125thCelebrationJuly.jpgWine lovers are invited to raise a glass to history at a special event in July.

ST. HELENA, Calif. -- Freemark Abbey invites wine lovers on July 16 to join in a "Toast to 125 Years" as the winery celebrates 125 years in the Napa Valley. From 1 to 4 p.m., guests will enjoy past, present and future vintages of Freemark Abbey wines paired with small bites presented by Chef Cindy Pawlcyn. The winery will also unveil "History," its highly anticipated 125th anniversary blend, a limited-edition red wine that was crafted from the finest lots in the cellar spanning vintage, variety and vineyard.

"The history that this winery has seen and been part of is incredible," said Ted Edwards, director of winemaking who has been with Freemark Abbey for 26 years. "Freemark Abbey started when the Napa Valley's biggest crop was prunes, not grapes. We survived Prohibition, participated in the Paris Tasting and have watched wine become an important part of American culture. "

Tickets to the event are $50. For reservations or more information, call (800) 963-9698. Or e-mail kimberly.reed@freemarkabbey.com. Guests must be 21 or older to attend. Not able to make it to the celebration on July 16th? Plan a a wine tasting visit anytime through the end of July and take advantage of a special two for one tasting offer. CLICK HERE!

Wine Makes Father's Day Meal Extra Special

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bvWines_GeorgeDeLaTour.jpgNAPA, Calif., May 25, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- For Father's Day, all Dad really wants is a little respect, a little evidence that you've been paying attention. Show him that you haven't missed a step by making his favorite meal.  Even better -- give Dad a bottle of wine selected specifically to enhance the flavor, the aroma, the experience of his favorite meal. And you know what that meal is, don't you?

To ease your gift giving, here's a helpful group of wine-pairing suggestions: 

"Burger Pop"
For "Burger Pop," the patty and the bun are just the beginning. He learned long ago that the biggest, best flavors can come from artful combinations of ingredients. That's why "Burger Pop" is happy to pair a bottle of Chalone Estates Pinot Noir with his latest creation, the farm-raised buffalo, sauteed mushroom, Roquefort burger on a brioche bun. 

"Delivery Dad"
What is Dad's favorite thing to make for dinner? Yep, a phone call. That a quick trip of digits across the touch screen is all it takes for food to show up is an endless source of amazement for "Delivery Dad." Whether it's spicy Vietnamese, Thai or Chinese, "Delivery Dad" is even happier to pair it with Snap Dragon Riesling.

"Fajita Father"
There's nothing like the sizzle of fajitas, onions and peppers on a hot iron skillet to signal that a hearty dinner is about to be served. "Fajita Father's" seared steak strips go well with his signature salsa. For a fruity mouthful to offset the spice, they're even better paired with BV Coastal Estates Red Blend.

Top Wine Stories of 2010

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By Courtney Cochran

Silly prices for Lafite in China.  A wine ed gone maverick (and getting majorly trashed in the media). A schizophrenic harvest.  Stellar new apps on the market.  Cow horns getting cool...What didn't happen in 2010?  Looking back, it was a year of flux, with major trends and market shares shifting around the globe, consumer attitudes skewing from snobbery to self-orientation, and raucous weather keeping things interesting right here in our own backyard.  Herein, highlights. 

Hectic Harvest
Without a doubt, the happening that generated the most press here in the US was the year's wild grape harvest.  From coast to coast, unnaturally cool weather pushed harvest weeks behind schedule.  Along the way, clusters were blasted by errant heat spikes (resulting in serious sunburn) and late season rains pummeled fruit left on the vine into the fall.  We can't help but point to climate change for the continued wild ride that's become harvest; this year was the wildest in memory.

Give Back This Holiday Season

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girlGivingBackHolidays.jpgThe holiday spirit of goodwill begins with you. This year, give a gift that's truly needed. We promise, your generosity will be as rewarding to give as it is to receive. See our wine country neighbors dedicated in helping you help others.


WINES NO LONGER AVAILABLE - MyWinesDirect.com - Victories Wine Collection
Peggy Fleming is not just an ice-skater. Read about her battle with breast cancer, the brith of Fleming-Jenkins Winery and how purchasing her Victorious Wine collection will benefit breast cancer research.

St Francis Winery & Vineyards & Vineyard Vines - Whale of a Chardonnay
Each bottle from the limited-run comes in a specially designed vineyard vines wine tote for $45 with $15 going directly to one of the winery's favorite causes, Waterkeeper Alliance.  This 100% Sonoma County Chardonnay is a classic Sonoma expression of the varietal, displaying overt tropical fruit and apple flavors, rich toasty oak notes and a crisp, supple finish. CLICK HERE to purchase.

Gallo Family Vineyards - Every Cork Counts
Gallo started a campaign at the beginning of November that benefits the organization Meals on Wheels which helps feed Americans in need. Mail a cork from any of the company's wines and Gallo Family Vineyards will donate $5 to help fight hunger. Last cork count was at 2,057. Let's see if we can't all boost that number higher. CLICK HERE for more details

Celadon Restaurant - Holiday Corkage
In support of Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford, if you bring in a new, unwrapped toy of at least $15 value, Celedon will waive the corkage fee on one bottle of wine. Start loading up the cars with toys, this ends Dec 23rd. (Celadon is located in downtown Napa along the riverfront - CLICK HERE to make reservations)

World Series Wines Part II: Player/Pairing Mashup!

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By Courtney Cochran

We simply couldn't help ourselves in pulling together wine pairings around our fav Giants players.  And why shouldn't we?  We know that you're almost as into watching our local team in the World Series as you are into quaffing the good stuff.  So with no further ado: The original San Francisco Giants Player/Wine Pairing Mashup!  

(Shout out: Thanks to my friends on Facebook whose tips helped make this piece possible!)

Tim Lincecum: Oregon Pinot Noir
Unless you're a hard-core ball fan, you don't often hear the phrase "perfect pitch" outside of a musical reference.  But thanks to Lincecum's near-perfect form on the mound, we're beginning to hear a lot more buzz about the phenomenon.  Still, the guy's known almost as well for being undersized as he is accomplished, which is why we've selected Oregon Pinot as his pairing.  Fiercely talented but often overlooked and underappreciated, Oregon Pinot is making news these days as pros (critics) and fans (consumers) alike catch on to its talents.  To wit, look for silky tannins that recall - if we may - the waves in Tim's famously long locks.

Buster Posey: Beaujolais Nouveau
As one of the youngest Giants, catcher Posey charms audiences with his youthful (dare we say "baby faced"??) visage, which means we're looking to seriously young wines to pair with this player.  With the annual release of France's Beaujolais Nouveau less than a month away, it seems only natural to pair the 2010 vintage of this popular wine with the youthful athlete.  Released every year on the third Thursday in November just weeks after it's been harvested and fermented, Beaujolais Nouveau is the definition of a "young" wine.    

Wine Sampling's Small (Read: Big) Idea

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home_hero_2.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

It seems obvious to eco-conscious winos that wine packaging should be shrinking, but until lately that idea has been little more than just a soupçon of wishful thinking.  But Nor Cal's TastingRoom.com is turning that hunch into reality, thanks to the company's innovative new line of 50mL bottles (compare to a standard wine bottle's 750mL) that allows consumers to taste tiny amounts of wines from a growing roster of winery partners.

Taste Mendocino Wines

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wineTasting.jpgLooking for some great tasting wines from the Mendocino wine region? Check out the latest winners of the recent 34th Annual Mendocino Wine Competition There were 194 entries in 20 categories representing all 12 growing regions in the county.

Five wines were awarded double gold medals:
  • Yorkville Cellars 2009 LH Semillon
  • Yorkville Cellars 2009 Sweet Malbec
  • Bonterra Vineyards 2009 Riesling
  • Navarro Vineyards 2009 Muscat Blanc
  • Harmonique 2006 Pinot Noir


Since Mendocino is known as "America's Greenest Wine Region", it's only fitting that wineries compete for the "green" award as well. Two wineries tied for first place for this coveted award:
  • Husch Vineyards ~ Sauvignon Blanc ~ 2009 La Ribera
  • Handley Cellars ~ Pinot Noir Rose ~ 2009 AV Estate
For a complete list of winners, visit www.truemendocinowine.com. You can taste these winning wines at the upcoming Mendocino County Fair in Boonville on Saturday, September 18, 2010. Or you can plan your next wine tasting trip to Mendocino Wine Country

With Respect: Wine Tales of the Decade

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robertmondavi.jpegBy Courtney Cochran

Props to Sasha Paulsen over at the Napa Valley Register for penning a spectacular piece on the top trials, travails and triumphs of the last ten years in wine. Beginning with a nod to the two economic downturns that "bookended" the decade, Paulsen explores everything from the departure of legends (RIP, Robert Mondavi) to the erection of Tuscan castles to a move towards producing wines with environmental and sustainable cues in mind.

New Year In Wine: 10 Predictions for 2010

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newyear2.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

With 2009 behind us, let's all breathe a collective sigh of relief and turn our sights - not to mention our vinous radar - on the New Year.  If you're like us, a fresh start means you're looking forward to good things like pay raises, thinner waistlines and general prosperity like we haven't seen in some time.  And while that's all good and well, we'd like to remind you that there's more - much more, in turns out - in store for you in the world of wine in the New Year.  

Read on for our predictions on what'll be hot - as well as what'll be...not...in 2010.

Three to Watch

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You may not know these winemakers-but maybe you should.


By Linda Murphy

Who are all these winemakers? That's the reaction of many wine drinkers when they scan retail shelves and restaurant wine lists, and see dozens of unfamiliar labels. Some of them are small brands, numbering in the hundreds, not thousands, of cases. The wines are sold by word of mouth, and the good ones are quickly snapped up by keen listeners. Here are three winemakers who are getting good buzz.

Wine Spectator: Top 10 Wines of 2009

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Earlier this week Wine Spectator announced their top 10 wine picks for 2009. Watch the video and hear senior editors introduce each wine and explain what makes puts a particular wine on the top 10 list!

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Deals on Champagne & Sparklers

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champagne2.jpgAccording to Paul Gregutt in a recent article for the Seattle Times, prices for Champagne and sparkling wine have decreased. In fact, worldwide demand has fallen by at least 10% which can only mean one thing for you and me - it's time to buy and stock up! And for those gearing up for the holidays, it couldn't be more perfect timing.

The articles suggests a few tips in what to buy:

(1) Be adventurous. Try something new instead of sticking to the brand you always buy.

(2) Buy a vintage Champagne rather than a brut

(3) Look on the bottle to see if the grapes are grand cru. Apparently grand cru vineyards are considered to be the best and well worth if it, even if a few more extra dollars..

(4) Splurge without breaking the bank. Purchase a half bottle

Paul also recommends asking the wine seller what is on sale. One deal out there right now is from Duval-Leroy where they have half bottles of brut at $18 and a full bottle of Cuvee Paris at $35.

Other articles on picking out sparklers for the holiday season:
Bubble, Bubble Everywhere



Hoax or No - Twitter to Make Wine??

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fledglingwine.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

It's true, management for social networking phenomenon Twitter.com recently announced a partnership the company has struck with San Francisco-based Crushpad, the urban winery, to make its own brand of wine: Fledgling. Proceeds for the so-called social media wine - which has its own handle, natch: @fledgling - will go to Room to Read, a charity that supports international literacy projects. And with some 49,124 followers as of press time, it sounds like Twitter's Fledgling Wine is off to a buzz-worthy start.

Wine Country in Hong Kong?

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Sounds odd, but according to a recent CNN report,  Hong Kong is now home to a boutique winery by the name of 8th Estate Winery. It produces about 100,000 bottles every years and is currently selling 4 reds, 4 whites and 3 different types of dessert wines. As you can imagine, there is no space to actually grow grapes in Hong Kong considering it one of the largest populations in the world. As a result, the grapes are sourced from all over the world with 2007 vintage made with grapes from Washington and the 2008 vintage from regions of Italy. To ensure freshness, the grapes go through a flash freeze process before being shipped.

Of course the real question in all of this is - Is the wine any good?  CNN conducted a test with unsuspecting guests at a hotel bar who were served 8th Estate wine. Below are just a few of the comments:

"It's good, drinkable . . . it could be from some part of France." (Swiss man who lives in Hong Kong after tasting the Chardonnay)

"Very dry, very nice. No after taste. Is it from California?" (Miami, Florida man also in Hong Kong  after tasting the Merlot)

Guess it goes to show you, you can make wine anywhere!

CLICK HERE to read the full article


Parker Pandemonium

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parker.jpegBy Courtney Cochran

It's not easy being Robert Parker.

If the recent rash of criticism of the wine ratings czar is any indication, the lawyer-turned-world's-most-recognized-wine-critic isn't sleeping easy nights. Things first turned tough for Parker this spring when respected wine blogger Tyler Colman (AKA Dr. Vino) as well as The Wall Street Journal penned exposes on ethical missteps by members of Parker's tasting staff. And things have only continued to heat up since, with Colman penning follow-on pieces examining the veracity of Parker's so-called perfect tasting recall and discrepancies in the quality of wines rated in his publication, the Wine Advocate, and on the market.

Geologists Say Mineral In Wine Impossible to Detect

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By Courtney Cochran

Another ringer hit the wine industry recently when geologists gathering for the annual Geological Society of America conference in Portland declared there's little evidence the minerals we find in vineyards can be tasted in wines.  Perhaps most shockingly, the geologists said that "the concentration of minerals in wine is below the threshold of human taste and smell."  This all throws a major monkey wrench in the common belief held by critics and tasters-in-the-know (or so they thought) that mineral flavors can be tasted and smelled in many of the wines we quaff.  

Amazon Gets Out of Wine Game - Before Ever Getting In

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By Courtney Cochran

A proverbial bomb dropped in the wine world late last week when online sales giant Amazon.com notified erstwhile winery partners it would no longer be getting into the online wine sales business. Reactions to the news ranged from astonished to relieved, with many speculating the cause of the ouster can be traced to fulfillment partner New Vine Logistics' recent bankruptcy and pressure from the government to prevent so-called third-party wine sales.

Wine Tasting with Robert M. Parker Jr.

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ciaParker.jpgST. HELENA, CA - Great news for wine enthusiasts anticipating the tasting of the 2007 Châteauneuf du Pape vintage at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone with Robert M. Parker, Jr. Three more wines have been added to the flight, making a total of 21 wines from this excellent vintage to be tasted. This annual event has generated an endowment in excess of $1 million for Wine Advocate scholarships for the CIA's Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies. This year's tasting is scheduled for Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 1:30 p.m. at the CIA's Napa Valley campus.

When Parker first reviewed the 2007 Châteauneuf du Pape wines, he awarded them ratings in the mid to high 90s. According to Parker, "the entire vintage will be very long-lived given the extraordinary balance in the wines. (And) given this quality, the high demand and limited supply from these producers makes 2007 one of the most collectible vintages in recent memory."

Mendocino High: Phillips-Hill Estates Pinot Noir

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PH-Oppenlander-06.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

In the world of wine as we know it, few winemakers have followed so circuitous a route to oenophilia as Toby Hill, owner/winemaker for Phillips-Hill Estates in Philo. A California native who grew up in Manhattan before returning to the Bay Area for high school, then heading back to New York to pursue a successful career as an artist and ultimately settling down in Mendocino, Hill literally began making wine on a whim when a friend gave him several bottles of unfinished wine one harvest. Several years later, the self-taught winemaker is turning heads with his extremely limited, Burgundian-style Pinots made from Mendo's emerging comptche sub-region. Read on for notes on my favorite of his current offerings.

More Than Just Winetasting

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benzigerTractor.jpgWith wine sales down and tourists carefully considering every dollar earmarked for travel, Napa Valley and Sonoma are trying to attract local visitors with more than driving from tasting room to tasting room along the highways.  According to Linda Castrone's new article "Wine Tourism Goes Local" from Palate Press, "wineries are getting creative".

No longer just a couple of glasses of  wine with a few crackers here and there, many wineries have since expanded to offer wine education classes, food & wine pairing tastings, vineyard tours by tractor, SUV, or even a hay wagon, picnic areas and Bocce ball courts.

Places like Kunde Family Estates in Sonoma even offer "Eco Tours" with their winegrower Jeff Kunde perfect for those who like to hike, bike or want their dog to tag-a-long. (Upcoming Bike Tour is on October 4th!)

There's a three day Spring Blending Camp at Schramsberg in Napa Valley (March 14-16, 2010), though the cost ($1100/per person) may preclude most.  Their three day harvest camp has already passed, but several Sonoma and Napa Valley wineries are still offering a host of crush and harvest related activities that are much more affordable. Be sure to check out the events calendar.

Suffice to say, visitors to wine country have plenty of activities to choose from whether you are a local going on a day trip or out of the area spending a couple of days.

To read full article from Palate Press, CLICK HERE.






CRUSH IT - Book Signing by Gary Vaynerchuk at V. Sattui Winery

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garyV.jpgPRESS RELEASE:

St. Helena, California, September 2009 - Internet entrepreneur and wine retailer extraordinaire Gary Vaynerchuk will talk about his new book CRUSH IT! Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In On Your Passion and sign copies in his only wine country appearance this fall, at V. Sattui Winery on Saturday, October 24. V. Sattui Winery is located at 1111 White Lane off Highway 29 just south of St. Helena. The book is published by HarperStudio and retails for $19.99.

From 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Gary will talk about the book, answer questions and sign copies for the public. The event is free and all are welcome. Copies of the book will be available for purchase at $19.99. A range of lunch/picnic options are available at a range of pricing, from bbq to pizza to sandwiches, cheeses, salads and more.

In honor of Gary's visit to Napa Valley, V. Sattui Winery will be making a donation to Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School in St. Helena.

During his visit to Sattui, he will also appear in a 'cameo' appearance on V. Sattui's The Wine Guys online program, hosted by President Tom Davies and Senior Vice President Peter Godoff.



Save The Date: Carneros Harvest Passport

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carnerosEvent.jpgPRESS RELEASE:

CARNEROS, CA - For the first time in its history, the wineries of the Carneros Wine Alliance (CWA) will hold a Harvest Passport, a unique wine trail through the highways and back roads of Carneros on October 17 from 10 to 4 p.m.

Many CWA wineries never before open for a public passport event will be open to passport participants and pouring for the first time. An On-Line Auction of The Carneros Experience will offer holiday gifts, shared experiences with friends and family and special wines from the '07 and '08 vintages widely lauded by industry professionals.
bvwines.jpgCelebrate a Milestone Birthday with the Original Cult Cabernet

NAPA, Calif., Sept. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- In 1936 Georges and Fernande de Latour, founders of Beaulieu Vineyard, harvested the grapes that became the inaugural vintage of Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet, Napa's Benchmark Cabernet. Throughout the years, Beaulieu Vineyard has continued to foster and use the same remarkable, heirloom vineyards and handcrafted techniques that made this wine one of the most collected Cabernets. Today, Beaulieu Vineyard is releasing the 70th Anniversary vintage of this American Classic, the 2006 Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (SRP $110).

"Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon remains the ultimate artistic expression of Cabernet Sauvignon at BV and sets the standard for great California wines," said Jeffrey Stambor, BV Winemaker. "This wine was first created in 1936 to honor founder Georges de Latour, and with each release we commemorate his vision and passion for excellence."

Since its beginning, Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon has been sourced from the famed vineyards, BV Ranch #1 and BV Ranch #2. The first and second vineyards the de Latours purchased, these legendary vineyards help develop complex flavors because of their optimal location on the Rutherford Bench.

Watch the Harvest in Napa Valley

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Want a first hand glimpse of crush season in Napa Valley already underway? Of course you do, which is why you're here!

See what Hall Wines and Goosecross have been up to . .  .

Hall Wines




Goosecross Cellars

Pre-harvest Grape Sampling from David Topper on Vimeo.



PRESS RELEASE: California Sustainable Winegrowing

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California has the most widely adopted green winegrowing and winemaking program in the world, one that has earned the state's top environmental award. The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, established by Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers, has released a new video  to show highlights of its program's earth-friendly practices embraced by the state's vintners and winegrape growers.

"Consumers are interested in knowing where and how their wines are grown and made, and the California wine community has responded by becoming a progressive advocate of environmentally conscious practices," notes Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, President and CEO of Wine Institute. "As our sustainable program develops and expands, we're seeing how responsible sustainable practices have a positive impact on the environment and in our communities."

CLICK HERE to read press release in it's entirety.

WATCH VIDEO BELOW:



Chatting with ... the Producer of Bottle Shock!

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bottleshock.jpg
Bottle Shock stars Alan Rickman, Bill Pullman, Chris Pine,
Rachael Taylor, Freddy Rodriguez, Dennis Farina and Eliza Dushku.
Catch the movie now - on DVD.

We caught up with Brenda Lhormer, producer of the charming wine-soaked movie, BOTTLE SHOCK, to get some inside scoop about the making and distribution of the film. And naturally we wanted to know whether BOTTLE SHOCK stars Alan Rickman, Chris Pine (the new "Captain Kirk" from Star Trek), and Bill Pullman got hooked on our Napa and Sonoma wines!

First off, tell us a little about how the movie came about. Where did the script come from?

BRENDA:  My husband Marc and I received the original script (written by Ross Schwartz) from a great friend of ours, Todd Harris, a Hollywood-based producer, in the fall of 2005. Ross (an entertainment lawyer turned screenwriter) was captivated by the Napa Valley back in the '60s and '70s and witnessed the transformation that occurred when Napa Valley wines beat the French in a blind tasting in 1976 (the famously coined "Judgment of Paris"). Chateau Montelena had the winning Chardonnay, and Stag's Leap Wine Cellar had the winning Cabernet Sauvignon. It blew the French away and put Napa on the map. So, twenty years later, Ross, and his wife Lanette, thought it would be a great idea to make a movie about this historic event and how it changed the world. Ross interviewed many of the major players involved in the wine industry at that time and wrote his script for Bottle Shock, focusing primarily on the characters at Chateau Montelena. 

Bottle Shock Getaway Package

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BottleShock_billboard-1_091009.jpg

Bottle Shock is based on the real events surrounding the 1976 blind tasting in Paris pitting California wines against the French. The film stars Alan Rickman, Bill Pullman, Chris Pine, Freddy Rodriguez, Rachael Taylor, Dennis Farina and Eliza Dushku. Bottle Shock was shot in Sonoma and Napa during August 2007, and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2008.

The Producers of the hit movie Bottle Shock are giving away an amazing Wine Country get-away package for two that brings the winners "on set" to see where and how the movie was filmed. Create the perfect Bottle Shock Evening (including a viewing of the film, your favorite wine, great friends) share your story, and you may win!

The 3-Day, 2-Night Bottle Shock Getaway Package includes:

  • 2 nights at the Lodge at Sonoma, where the cast of Bottle Shock stayed (Alan Rickman, Bill Pullman, Chris Pine, Rachael Taylor, Freddy Rodriguez, Dennis Farina, Eliza Dushku).
  • Helicopter tour with the producers capturing those beautiful aerial shots over Napa and Sonoma and stopping for tours and tastings at key filming locations.
  • A guided tour of Chateau Montelena in Napa Valley, whose 1973 Chardonnay was the winning white wine at the 1976 Judgment of Paris.
  • A guided tour of Kunde Estate in Sonoma Valley where several scenes were filmed, including the boxing ring scenes with Bill Pullman and Chris pine going at it, and the judging scene inside the ruins of the first winery in Sonoma Valley.
  • Dinner with the producers at Della Santina in Sonoma, where scenes with Alan Rickman and Dennis Farina were filmed.
  • A bottle of chardonnay from Chateau Montelena, signed by the cast.
  • Your very own Bottle Shock movie poster.

New In Napa: August 09

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EstateCave1_LargeWeb.JPGBy Courtney Cochran

Home to some 300 wineries, Napa Valley is the engine that drives California's booming wine industry. It's also a place where history, art, hospitality and a search for perfection collide to produce some of the most compelling products and experiences Wine Country has to offer. Read on for new developments in this "land of plenty" in our own backyard.
twitter_grapes.jpegBy Courtney Cochran

Just a few weeks ago I spent a half hour on the phone "tweducating" a long time wine industry veteran on how to use Twitter, the microblogging site that allows anyone to post 140-character-or-less updates on everything from food and wine to software and current events (the Iran political protests gained worldwide notoriety nearly instantaneously thanks to Twitter). After we'd noodled the nuances of hash tags, handles and what's appropriate to post (hint: don't tweet the details of your latest root canal; we REALLY don't need to know you just got the novacaine), the subject of harvest came up.

Wine Forward: iPhone Wine Applications

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iphone_app.jpegBy Courtney Cochran

Made from scores of regions, hundreds of varieties, thousands of producers and newly released each vintage year, wine is one of the most data-challenged consumer goods we enjoy. But now, thanks to a host of fancy new iPhone and iPod Touch-compatible applications, sorting through the dizzying array of wine selections in stores, restaurants and even in your own cellar is getting a whole lot easier. Read on for our picks for top applications to fuel your Wine Country lifestyle; they make researching, scoring, sharing and even buying wine a snap - and they let you do it all from the palm of your hand.

Grape Crush Begins

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It's early, but for some vineyards crush has already begun. On August 10th, in the dead of the night (3 am to be exact), Hunter Farms of Sonoma Valley began harvesting this season's first pinot noir.

Although the unusually cool weather has many Californians crying "what happened to summer?", it is actually perfect weather for growing grapes. More surprising for Hunter Vineyards is the seemingly increased quantity of grapes being harvested. According to the Press Democrat "Instead of the 15.3 tons delivered last year (to Gloria Ferrer Winery in Sonoma), the same 5.5 acre vineyard produced 21.5 tons, a stunning 40% percent increase"Click here for full article.

Watch the Video!

Wine "Made In Hong Kong" A Hit

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By Courtney Cochran

Though wine drinking in Hong Kong is ever on the rise, it still came as a surprise to me when I heard that wine is being made in the city. After all, the flashy metropolis is made of mostly concrete and steel - there's nary a vineyard in site. Having recently visited City Winery in NYC, however, the pieces started coming together as I began to envision the newly faddish urban winery concept taking root overseas - and it turns out that's exactly what's going on in Hong Kong.

"Something Sinister at Work"?

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wineadvocate.jpegRobert Parker's Bitch Weighs In On Wine Ratings
By Courtney Cochran

You have to hand it to Tina Caputo (Twitter handle @winebroad), the feisty young editor of Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine: she's got guts.  To wit, one only need spend 26 minutes watching her 2009 documentary, the controversially titled "Robert Parker's Bitch: The Wine Media's Influence on Winemaking," to grasp the degree to which she goes out on a limb to explore the idea that two influential wine critics - Robert Parker and Wine Spectator's James Laube - wield too much power over the evolving wine style in Wine Country.

deloachbag.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Russian River-based DeLoach Vineyards continues to innovate in the sustainable wine realm with its newest initiative, the "Barrel-to-Barrel" by-the-glass program. Created for eco-conscious on-premise accounts like The Fairmont San Francisco, DeLoach's program - which features nearly 100% recyclable mini barrels and equally recyclable 10L "eco-bag" wine inserts - virtually eliminates the waste associated with buying and serving wine.

ABC Deems Label Too Titillating

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cycles_glad.jpegBy Courtney Cochran

Alabama's Beverage Control Board apparently didn't like what it saw when its members spied the label on Cycles Gladiator wines, which feature an 1895 Parisian poster of a nude woman and a bicycle. So much so, in fact, that the board banned the wines from store shelves throughout the state. Joey Kennedy, columnist and blogger for Alabama Live, was quick to call the board "prude" and even went so far as saying he thinks naked women ought to be able to "sell anything." But it seems that in Alabama, naked women - including those on tasteful 19th Century art posters - can't do much, least of which sell wine.

From Bottle to Bulletin Board

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Cuvaison_cork1.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Cuvaison gave new meaning to recycling when it kicked off its National Cork Recycling Program at last month's Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. Reps for the sustainable Napa winery - which utilizes solar power and is certified Napa Green - collected more than 5,000 corks at the swank Colorado festival and say their efforts were rewarded with choruses of 'It's about time!" and 'Great idea!' from fellow vintners.

Officially First Winery in State of California to Reach Gold LEED® Certification Status



Napa Valley, CA, July 16, 2009 - HALL Wines, the premier 21st century vineyard and winery, announces today that it has received the prestigious Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold Certification for its Napa Valley St. Helena winery, becoming the first winery in California to be distinguished as a Gold certified facility by the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED® Green Building Rating System™.

The HALL St. Helena LEED® certified winery is one of most advanced wineries in California, with state-of-the-art facilities designed for ultra-premium wine production. LEED® is an internationally recognized certification system that measures a building or community's performance across all environmental metrics including energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

"The certification of HALL Wines not only marks a momentous occasion for the wine industry of California, but demonstrates how all industries can choose to be solvers of our collective environmental challenges," said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. "The HALL Wines project efficiently uses natural resources, makes an immediate positive impact on our planet and as a business leader, can expect to reap financial benefits over the lifecycle of the building." 

Wine Jobs 2.0

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murphy_goode.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Used to be, all you had to do when applying for a job was submit a resume and show up for the interview. Not any more. In today's era of Web 2.0 (see Facebook , TwitterTasteLive , Wine 2.0 , et al), you've also got to prove you can create a one-(wo)man social media empire more or less out of thin air - and do so in the course of a one-minute online video that you (with your stealth online video producing prowess) produce, natch. If all this has you yearning for days when job searching only required a new suit and a few angst-inducing, in-person (read: private) interviews, you're not alone. You may, however, be missing the boat.

Pinot.com

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pinot.jpgIf you love Pinot (and all it's variations), then Pinot.com is the site for you.

Discover the "sensuality" of Pinot Noir  . . .

Plan to attend upcoming Pinot wine events around the country....

Pair some of your favorite dishes with Pinot...

Read recommendations on what Pinots to buy and drink...

Remember...there can "Pinot" no others!

www.pinot.com

By Courtney Cochran

Chère Rosé, you mean the world to me.  You are so pure, your flavors so balanced (More approachable than red!  More filling than white!) I find myself fantasizing about you night and day.  Often I picture myself, feet up at the end of a long day, meditating on your pale pink robe, pausing to savor a sip so lush it takes my breath away.  

O Rosé!  You are so refreshing, you are so lively, you are the perfect companion to a slice of pâté or nutty frommage comté.  

I love you just as you are - never change, Rosé!

Signed,

Your Biggest (AKA most loyal, ahem) French Fan

Ruby Hill Winery - a Gem of a Winery

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rubyhill.jpegBy The Sipping Savant

Ruby Hill ... it really is a gem! My first visit to this winery was when I attended a great event next door at Casa Real in November last year. Since I had arrived early I wandered next door into the Tasting Room. Wow!

Not only did I get to learn about some great new wines at very reasonable prices ($12 to $30 a bottle), meet some down to earth "Tasting Coaches", I also did a large amount of my holiday shopping too!

Days of Wine and Mutts

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These wineries not only tolerate dogs-they warmly welcome them

By Andrea Stutzman

As seen in Napa Sonoma Magazine

Even dogs need a break from the monotony of the workweek. Instead of leaving your dog at home when you hit the wineries, why not bring her along? Many destinations have their own dogs and welcome your well-behaved pooches. Here are a few that are especially dog friendly.

Read More

CLICK HERE - To Order your personal copy of Napa Sonoma Magazine


Additional Dog Friendly Articles:

Dog Friendly Wineries in Napa Valley

Kunde: Wag-Worthy Winery

Pet-Friendly Lodging in Wine Country

Ruff Hotels

Passport to Sonoma Valley - May 16th & 17th

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sonomaPassport1.jpgExplore Sonoma Valley with a passport to over 50 wineries showcasing the very best of their current wine releases, library wines, and special bottlings!  The event is next weekend May 16th & 17th from 11am to 4 p.m. and promises to be two fun-filled days of wine tasting festivities including food pairings and entertainment.

Your passport includes a commemorative wine glass, unlimited wine tastings at participating wineries, discounts on wine purchases, and entry to some of Sonoma Valley's wineries normally not open to the public. Additionally, for the first time, participating wineries are partnering with their growers and pouring their best wines in the vineyards where the grapes are sourced giving Passport holders the ultimate grape to glass tasting experience.

On the day of the event or if you wait to buy tickets, check in at one of the four designated "start" locations - Viansa Winery & Marketplace, Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery, Valley of the Moon Winery and Ledson Winery & Vineyards.

Don't miss out on this wine tasting event, buy your tickets online today!

sonomaPassport2.jpgWhat: Passport to Sonoma Valley

When: Saturday, May 16th and Sunday, May 17th

Time: 11:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day

*Price: $55 Weekend Passport/$65 at the Door
            $50 One Day Passport/$60 at the Door
            $10 Designated Driver
            *Save $5 off ticket prices if you have a Visa Signature Card.

BUY TICKETS ONLINE

Beauty of the Past

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rhinehouse.jpeg

Beringer's Rhine House restored

By Ethan Fletcher

As seen in Napa Sonoma Magazine

As the longest continually operating winery in the valley, Beringer Vineyards has a long history that is intertwined with Napa Valley's own. Which helps explain why the restoration of Beringer's Rhine House, built just eight years after the winery was founded in 1876, demanded such extensive care-and resources.

"This is a spectacular historic landmark," says Naomi Miroglio, the principal architect for Architectural Resources Group, the historical preservation specialists that led the restoration effort. "There is none other that has the artwork, the level of carving, the stained glass-all of it together-to the degree that this house has."

To Read More, Click Here.

Cheers!

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deeridgegroup.JPGBy "The Sipping Savant"

In the Wine Country, hoisting a wine class for a toast as simple as "Cheers" is a regular occurrence, but at one Livermore Winery you almost feel as though that should be the name of the winery too!

More Thoughts on Earth Month

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By Robert Farmer

Yes, it's a big job. But somebody's gotta do it. Well, more precisely, we all gotta do it--or at least we all should be doing our part to preserve Mother Earth.  This month's ongoing theme of environmental stewardship brings to mind all the many and various ways we impact our surrounding environment.

Because one my favorite things to is to drink wine, I increasingly find myself considering what that means in terms of my so-called "footprint"--carbon or otherwise. With every empty bottle I send to the recycling bin, I think about what it took to get that bottle into my home, and what it will take to get it from my bin to its next incarnation.

Thoughts on Earth Month

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By Robert Farmer

As is in fashion more commonly these days, the month of April is referred to as Earth Month. Holding as it does the 30-year-old celebration and awareness-event known as Earth Day, the entire month has now expanded to absorb the concept. But as most stewards of the environment--self proclaimed and otherwise--will tell you, we need far more than a month to keep us reminded of the significance. Indeed a Day is as insufficient the way a bottle of wine falls short of supplying a holiday party.

And speaking of wine, it's also popular in the industry for wineries to promote their "green" credientials--especially at this time of year. However, the walk has proved much harder to walk than the talk is to talk. So it happens that at this time of year, the wine industry looks inward on itself to figure out just exactly how it as a whole can be better environmental custodians.

Temecula Just Says No to Drunks

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By Courtney Cochran

In a novel move for a wine region, So Cal's Temecula Valley lately initiated a program seeking to curb the disruptive antics of overly inebriated visitors to valley wineries. Citing incidents such as impromptu bachelor parties - replete with the likes of booze-emboldened revelers and raunchy blow up dolls - that often spill into tasting rooms (making ordinary sipping more than a little uncomfortable for better behaved visitors), the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association put the program into place last November.

How Local Was My Pinot

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pinotgris.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

As the locavore movement gains speed and strength, it seems only natural its philosophy would make its way to the wine world. Enter Kevin Kelley, founder of Natural Process Alliance , an organization dedicated to producing wines with minimal waste and additives - and then distributing them solely within a 100-mile radius of his Santa Rosa winery. Sound kooky? I think it's anything but.

Go Green: Earth Day Celebrations In Wine Country

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By Courtney Cochran

Come April 22nd, enviro-friendly oenophiles will have ample opportunity to celebrate Earth Day among the vines. Read on for our top picks for where to go green in wine country on this feel-good holiday.

Green Valley
What better place to fête this fabulous day than in Green Valley!? To wit, Iron Horse Vineyards and several of its Sonoma County neighbors will host "Celebrate Earth Day In Green Valley" a few days early on Sunday, April 19th. Highlights of what to see and do at various stops include a sparkling wine and salt tasting at Iron Horse; biodynamic vineyard tours and sustainable fashions created from recycled wine packaging at DeLoach Vineyards; and docent led tours of the Laguna de Santa Rosa, Sonoma's richest wildlife preserve, starting from Dutton-Goldfield and Balletto Vineyards' joint tasting Green Valley room. Get the scoop here .
Seasons Tasting Bar and Boutique.jpgHEALDSBURG, CA, April 14, 2009 -Don and Rhonda Carano of Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery and Lazy Creek Vineyards, announce the opening of their new tasting room on the Healdsburg Plaza, Seasons of the Vineyard Tasting Bar & Boutique. Seasons of the Vineyard, which originally opened in 2000 as a popular wine country home décor boutique, closed for renovations in January, 2009. Re-opening on April 20, 2009, Seasons of the Vineyard reflects the wine country lifestyle, offering, for the first time ever, hand-picked wine tasting flights and food pairings of Ferrari-Carano, PreVail and Lazy Creek Vineyards wines, as well as unique home décor and gifts.

Located on the quaint and stylish, tree-lined Healdsburg Plaza in northern Sonoma County, Seasons of the Vineyard has been completely renovated to accommodate a relaxed, sit-down wine tasting experience. Highlights of the remodeled interior include a 20-foot tasting bar with a Vettrazo Amber sustainable countertop made from used bottles and old windows, a one-of-a-kind rod iron chandelier with hanging, lit Italian glass wine jugs that suspends over the tasting bar, newly-exposed floor-to-ceiling brick walls, and a beautiful, original tin ceiling of the restored building, circa 1833.

High Note: Singer Sting to Make Wine

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sting.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

On the heels of rockers like The Rolling Stones, Madonna, KISS and Pink Floyd, British singer Sting will soon begin marketing a red wine made from grapes grown on his sprawling Tuscan estate, a 16th century villa known as Il Palagio. And with a projected initial run of some 2,500 cases, Sting's wine is shaping up to be a small-production but surely sought-after product.

Sideways Gets A Second Chance - In Japan

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sideways_450x300.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Japan, it seems, has an insatiable appetite for vinous entertainment.  Indeed, wine sales in the tiny island country are on the up, a fact fueling the production of novel wine narratives such as comic-book sensation "Kami no Shizuku" (AKA "The Drops of God," about a heroic journey to find the best wines in the world) - as well as not-so-novel narratives like the soon-to-be-released Japanese remake of the Academy Award-winning, American film Sideways, also slated to be called...Sideways.

Mutineer Makes Good

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mutineer.jpegBy Courtney Cochran

Twenty-something sommelier Alan Kropf tried going the traditional route - logging stints as a floor sommelier at The Beverly Hills Hotel and alongside resto great Gordon Ramsay in West Hollywood - but ultimately, his career calling came from somewhere wholly unexpected: the page. Now Editor-In-Chief of alt-beverage publication Mutineer Magazine , Kropf and his team of snarky scribes pen edgy editorial that encompasses the worlds of wine, beer, spirits, coffee, tea, soda and even water - and are attracting no shortage of intrepid beverage advertisers and readers along the way.

Wine Country Wackness (In a Good Way)

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juddhill.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

I've always admired second-generation Napa vintner Judd Finkelstein's penchant for marching to his own beat.  Whether playing the ukulele in his wine country band, The Maikai Gents Featuring The Mysterious Miss Mauna Loa , or producing award-winning Cabs at his family's Judd's Hill winery, Finkelstein doesn't do things the typical wine country way.  And so when I bumped into his wife, Holly, several weeks ago at Premiere Napa Valley at the CIA Greystone in St. Helena, I was thrilled to hear that Judd has undertaken a refreshingly "out there" new adventure: an online wine show featuring his family's winery and his very own brand of quirky humor.

Recession Proof?

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domperignon96.jpgBy Robert Farmer

You see the term "recession proof" tossed around a lot these days. Yet increasingly things that have been deemed to be so are turning out to be anything but. And so it was with great curiosity that I saw an item recently proclaiming select French wines to be valiantly resisting the downward economic trend. According to the global wine search website Wine Searcher.com, French wine has remained in high demand during this downward spiral into the financial abyss. Based on the data collected by the world's largest and most widely used wine search engine, shows that houses like Lafite, Margaux, and Dom Perignon remain in hot demand across the globe.

By the Glass Bargains - An Upside to the Recession

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By Courtney Cochran

When it comes to restaurant wine sales, the news is largely not good - for the restaurateurs, at least.  To that end, the Wine Market Council - in conjunction with The Nielsen Beverage Alcohol Team - reported this winter that on-premise sales of wine have slipped dramatically from 2007 and early 2008 levels, with some restaurants even forced to shut their doors as a result of sluggish sales.  Happily, there's a silver lining to this latest tale of recession-induced woe: by-the-glass sales at on-premise locations are still strong, and restaurants are responding by injecting new life - and appeal - into their BTG programs
bottle_yourex.jpegBy Courtney Cochran

Husband-and-wife team Paul and Kacky Chamberlain of San Diego-based Cerebral Itch, Inc. not only have a knack for snarky jargon, they've been able to channel their self-described "wicked sense of humor" into a remarkably successful line of greeting cards, e-cards, t-shirts and self-adhesive wine labels. And while some of their more racy material isn't fit to print here, much of the wine label stuff is sufficiently PG.

A sampling:

Breakup & Divorce
Front label:  "I saw your ex the other day and I might add, he looked like hell."
Back label:  "You on the other hand, look fabulous.  Let's celebrate!"

Everyday
Front label:  "Don't waste this wine on the uncultured palates of other guests."
Back label:  "FROM:..." (space to write your name)

Obligatory
Front label:  "Obligatory Hostess Gift (We bought it on the way here)"
Back label: "FROM:..." (space to write your name)

Korbel Says "No Thanks" To Internet Trashing

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Korbel-sign.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

At first glance, Korbel Champagne Cellar's new legal action aiming to "out" an unidentified Internet user who posted negative remarks about the winery on Craigslist.org seems like an assault on free speech. But, examined more closely, the 100+-year-old Sonoma sparkling producer's aggressive stance on the issue seems more than a little justified - especially considering the allegedly untrue nature of the targeted user's remarks.

Foster's Spends Millions to Split Divisions, Keep Wine Assets

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FostersProductsLineup.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Foster's Group spent nearly a year debating whether to sell off its troubled wine assets - valued at some $4.4 billion - before announcing this week that it will keep its wine division intact but make significant organizational adjustments in the coming years in an effort to cut costs and improve performance. To that end, significant changes new chief Ian Johnston has pledged to enact include separating Foster's beer and wine businesses, cutting some 300 jobs and eliminating 37 brands from the business' troubled Australian portfolio.

Twisted Chicken

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rubberchicken.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

In the ever-evolving world of online wine marketing, there are a number of fascinating trends that have lately caught my eye. Among them, I've noted in this blog many wineries' recent embrace of social networking tools such as online networks, Twitter and Facebook to connect with customers. And while these methods are certainly novel, they can't touch Sierra Foothills-based Twisted Oak Winery's recent use of the Web along with a small army of rubber chickens for sheer outrageousness where contemporary wine marketing is concerned.

Early Blooms Unwelcome in Wine Country

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By Courtney Cochran

With record temperatures that have sailed north of 70 degrees in some parts of the state, grape growers as far south as San Diego County and as far north as Sonoma are reporting signs of early bud break on vines.  Bud break - which usually doesn't occur until mid March - is apparently being stoked by the unseasonably balmy weather that has also encouraged such cold weather-shy flora as magnolia and almond trees to bloom early.  

Aussies Fight Fires, Other Woes

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aussiefire.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Clearly, this is not the year for the Australian wine industry. With exports sagging as a result of the global financial crisis, unfavorable exchange rates and increased competition in the value sector, Australian winemakers are facing serious challenges - not the least of which is picking up the pieces from a deadly blaze that whipped through Victoria Saturday, decimating vineyards and winery buildings and killing more than 100 people across the state.

HALL Rutherford: Wine As It Was Meant to be Enjoyed

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HallWinesVineyard.jpgRUTHERFORD, CA - A visit to HALL Wines in Rutherford is truly a heavenly experience.  Most tourists may be  familiar with the HALL St. Helena location next to Dean & DeLuca on Highway 29.   Unknown to many is their second location off the Silverado Trail and in the same area as Auberge du Solelil.

One wonders if this is done on purpose considering the exclusivity of the Rutherford location. With winding, twisting roads up a grand mountain,  at several different points you will question if you are going in the right direction.

Eventually, you will reach your destination and be utterly amazed. HALL Rutherford is literally perched on the top of the mountain with a spectacular view of the valley.  It's almost as if you've been transferred to another time and place.

BYO Wine Do's & Don'ts

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By Courtney Cochran

As the economy continues its sobering slide, there are a few things in which we can all take comfort.  First, the obvious: we have a new president in office who has vowed to tackle the faltering economy head-on.  Second: the crisis is bringing friends and families together like never before for mutual comfort and support.  And third, cha ching!: we can all look forward to saving a little cash during these tough times by bringing our own wine to restaurants.  

Read on for some of our top tips on how to BYO in style, as well as hints on what not to do when you decide to bring you own.  Because in times like these, who wouldn't want to drink great wine while paying less?

Ten-Buck Chuck?

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yellowtail-shiraz.jpgBy Robert Farmer

I suppose we are now officially in the age of Expectations Adjusted Downward. News from Down Under recently popped up about over-supply of and under-demand for premium wines. Australian wine makers have historically relied upon a consumer base outside their borders. And global demand for higher-end wine has been evaporating faster than a rain puddle in the Outback.

So, as has been the trend globally, Australian producers have had to adjust prices downward, setting a new threshold for so-called premium varietals. Have we entered the era of $10 premium wines? Probably not, but we're getting closer. And in Australia, the problem may have been self-inflicted --at least partially.

Wine Judging Gets Judged - And the Verdict's Not Good

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By Courtney Cochran

This news just in:  judges at the annual California State Fair wine competition are apparently more than a little inconsistent in their evaluations of medal-winning (and non-winning) wines. According to an in-depth report published by the Journal of Wine Economics, fewer than half of 65 judging panels at the fair evaluated over a three year period achieved "anything close to similar results" in their appraisal of wines submitted, and one group even awarded a gold medal to a wine it had previously thrown out of the competition - twice.

Cohn Walks the Walk

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Bruce-Doobies_large-771874.jpgBy Robert Farmer

In case you missed my recent profile of Bruce Cohn, it's worth pointing out again that in addition to his interesting backstory--as the manager of the classic rock band, Doobie Brothers, turned wine-maker and olive oil producer--Mr. Cohn is also one of the stalwarts in Wine Country when it comes to putting his (no doubt considerable) money where his mouth is.

World Wine Forecast Fair, In Spite of Economic Heat

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By Courtney Cochran

According to a study just released by The International Wine & Spirit Record, demand for wine is projected to grow roughly 6 percent to 2.8 billion cases between 2008 and 2012, a figure close to in synch with pre-recession trends.  Global production is also predicted to grow over the same period to an estimated 3 billion cases annually, an increase of approximately 3.83 percent over earlier levels.  The findings support a long-held belief that wine is more or less "recession-proof" - meaning that drinkers continue to enjoy the beverage even when spending power is down.

It's Jail Time for High-End Wine Heister

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By Courtney Cochran

Last year when I attended a gala release party for Verité Wines - a mega-high-end Sonoma property that's part of the Kendall-Jackson empire - I never imagined that the winery's directors would allow its wines to sell online at prices far below their stated retail price.  That's probably because the folks behind this critically acclaimed producer of elegant Bordeaux-style reds would never do such a thing - to do so would risk eroding the prestige of the brand and would almost certainly make it difficult to command full price for the wines elsewhere.

But, as it turns out, someone else would do such a thing - and did.  Illegally. 

Getting Pinched in Oregon

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By Robert Farmer

If you're like me you're by now a little tired of hearing about how bad things are economically in the world. And if you're like me, you probably help ease the sting of the daily bad news by indulging in good glass of wine or two at day's end - every day's end. But when it happens that the bad economic news is also related to wine, it leaves one not knowing where to turn.

Drought, Record Temps Worry Winemakers

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By Courtney Cochran

As if economic woes weren't already enough to worry about, California vintners are now coping with one of the most severe water shortages seen in decades, the result of several years of interminable drought brought on by prevailing La Niña conditions off the West Coast.  With many wineries reporting on-premise reservoirs at historic lows and dwindling well resources, the outlook is grim indeed for Golden State winemakers.

Let's Have a Ball: Inauguration Night Wines

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By Courtney Cochran

When President-Elect Barack Obama takes office next Tuesday, he'll take the reigns of our nation in the midst of one of the most tenuous economic and political climates we've seen in more than a half-century.  Among other tall orders, he'll be tasked with shepherding an historic financial bailout, reconsidering our position in Iraq and resuscitating our flagging reputation on the international foreign policy scene.  It's a lot to get ready for, and we're happy to hear he's preparing for the challenge the way any serious new president would:  

He's throwing an enormous party.

Recession Ups and Downs Trickle to Wine Country

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By Courtney Cochran

With our nation now fully entrenched in a recession, no one can deny the ripple effects of the economic downturn coursing through our lives and those of friends, colleagues and family.  And, though we'd all like to imagine the wine industry impervious to the nation's economic ills, the fact is that wine country, too, is feeling the effects of the crisis.  Fortunately, it's not all bad news when it comes to financial affairs and wine.  

What Wineries Are Open for Christmas

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(2012 Update!) See the list of Napa Valley & Sonoma wineries that will be open for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

*Napa Valley & Sonoma Restaurants Open for the holidays - Click Here
*Events Calendar Guide - Click Here


CHRISTMAS EVE

Napa Valley
  • Chateau Montelena Winery ~ 707.942.5105
  • Hours: 9:30am - 12:00pm

  • Back Room Wines ~ 707.226.1378   
  • Hours: 02:00pm - 5:00pm

  • V. Sattui Winery ~ 707.963.7774   
  • Hours: 9:00am - 3:30pm

Sonoma
  • Gloria Ferrer ~ 707.933.1917
  • Hours: 10:00am - 3:00pm   

  • Imagery Estate Winery ~ 707.935.4515   
  • Hours: 10:00am - 3:00pm

  • Thumbprint Cellars ~ 707.433.2393
  • Hours: 11:00am - 4:00pm
  • White Oak Vineyards & Winery ~ 707.733.8429   
  • Hours: 10:00am - 1:00pm

New Year's Eve Party at Chandon!

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chandonNewYears.jpgRing in the New Year at Chandon! 

Join Chandon for a Roaring 20s party on New Year's Eve. Enjoy a decadent six-course tasting menu paired with Chandon wines. Then, dance the night away to live music with  Soul Project. It will be a party to remember for ages. Don't delay, tickets are selling fast. Buy Online toay!

More Details:

  • December 31, 2008
  • Dinner & Party Tickets: $225 (plus tax & gratuity)
  • Party Tickets Only: $75
  • Formal Portraits Included
  • 1920s Cocktail Attire (Black Tie Optional)

Call 888.242.6366 for more information and to make your reservation or visit Chandon.com for party tickets only!

CLICK HERE for more Details.

Happy New Year!

Snow Day at CADE Winery

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NAPAVALLEY, CA - Brrr....it's definitely cold in Northern California!

Yesterday saw snow at Cade Winery on Howell Mountain in Napa Valley. Snow adorned the vineyard as well as the branches of the Manzanita trees from which CADE bases its logo. The eco-winery, opening in March 2009, will be the first LEED-certified, solar powered and organically farmed winery in the area and will likely be the only Gold-LEED-certified winery in California.

More information, visit www.cadewinery.com
Located at 360 Howell Mountain Road, South Angwine, CA 94508

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Snooth Simplifies Wine Shopping with iPhone App

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By Courtney Cochran

Social shopping site Snooth - which allows users to log and rate wines, compare scores with friends and click to buy wines from thousands of merchants across the US - has released an iPhone application that bests many of the other wine apps I've seen. Signing up took me less than two minutes (I simply created a user account on my iPhone at iphone.snooth.com), and moments later I was searching wine reviews using their location-based search services. My search for a Rosenblum Zinfandel selling for less than $50 in my area - the service uses zip codes to power its location-based search - yielded a result at The Wine House in San Francisco, which currently carries the bottle for $33.95. Had I wanted to purchase the wine, I could have used Snooth's "click to call" option embedded in the search result to dial the retailer's number and have the wine put on hold.

COPIA: What Went Wrong?

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copia_tower.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

On the heels of news that COPIA: The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts' petition for Chapter 11 protection was turned down by a federal bankruptcy court, many of us are left wondering just what went wrong at the sprawling multi-use center located in the heart of wine country.

Opened to great fanfare in 2001, the 12-acre non-profit center - which features three restaurants, a museum, classrooms, a 3.5-acre garden and outdoor performance space - was one of the last projects spearheaded by late Napa Valley scion Robert Mondavi, who passed away in May of this year. The center has struggled since opening to attract the kind of crowds initially expected, a fact that's made it difficult for management to maintain payments on some $78 million in outstanding bond debt. After attorneys for the insurance company backing the bonds convinced a bankruptcy court judge that it was not acceptable for COPIA to take on additional loans that would be secured ahead of the $78 million in bonds, the center announced that it is closing, likely for good.
By Courtney Cochran

In these sketchy economic times, it seems that nothing is safe from deflation, devaluation and the many other disturbing indicators of economic mayhem wreaking havoc across our land. But thanks to urban winery Crushpad's newest creation, Bailout Wine* , these signs of malaise are no longer quite so frightening - at least not when it comes to the state of the wine scene.

Vampire Phenomenon Infiltrates Wine World

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By Courtney Cochran

If you haven't noticed the rash of vampire-related TV shows and films appearing on screens stateside, then perhaps it's because you've been sleeping under a rock.  To wit, Twilight - the newly released megapicture chronicling an "epic" romance between a vampire and a teenage girl - is currently raking it in at the box office, while standout new HBO series, True Blood, has hard-core sci-fi fans and regular viewers alike abuzz about its racy plotlines that follow centuries-old vampires as they "mainstream" into contemporary life in a rural southern town.

SF Wine Week: Sommelier Cezar Kusik

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Wine Week Heralds New Beginning for Sommelier
By Courtney Cochran

cezarKusic_pic1.jpgIt took Cezar Kusik, erstwhile wine director for the recently shuttered Rubicon in San Francisco, three weeks to catalog, pack up and ship off what remained of the restaurant's widely renowned wine cellar this fall. Dubbed "beyond words" and "hands-down one of the best [lists] that I have ever seen" by standout Bay Area wine blogger Alder Yarrow , Rubicon's wine list was honed over the years by Master Sommelier Larry Stone, who himself encouraged Kusik's interest in wine not long after the aspiring writer landed a job as a bartender at the restaurant in 1997.
By Courtney Cochran

Those of you who follow this blog probably know that I'm a big fan of user reviews and the whole "wisdom of the crowd" model that's taking the online world by storm. Lamentably, wine web players - outside of a handful of cutting edge companies involved in the Wine 2.0 movement - have been slow to get on the user review bandwagon. But with Sonoma-based Dry Creek Vineyard's recent addition of user reviews to its ecommerce site, there may be hope for change after all.

Finally: Wall Street Woes Have Some Positive Impact

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By Courtney Cochran

"It's not like Wall Street," mused Chris Howell, winemaker and general manager of Napa's Cain Vineyard and Winery, in describing the challenges facing California vintners when planning for the future in the face of climate change.

"When you're a farmer you have to be optimistic," he continued, noting that "you're planting a vineyard for [generations that will tend it for] 20, 50 or 100 years...we need to be grounded in reality and need to think about how to adapt."

Wineries: Breasts' Best Friends

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By Courtney Cochran

Guffaws over the title of this entry aside, breast cancer is no laughing matter. And with Breast Cancer Awareness Month squarely upon us, I'm happy to report that numerous wineries are spearheading initiatives in October to help spread the word and stem the suffering associated with this terrible disease. Read on for highlights of wineries with the most interesting - and interesting-sounding - breast cancer support programs.

Breast Cancer: A Survival Story, Wine Included

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lori_breastCancer.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

When Lori Ondaro was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time, her children knew she would need a big show of support if the single mom was going to beat the disease a second time around.  After successfully battling the disease more than 20 years ago, Lori had recently learned from her oncologist that the cancer was back, only this time it had spread throughout her entire body.

Family Ties - The Roots That Bind

"[Following the first cancer battle] I'd gotten my wish to see my children grow into exceptional adults, but I wasn't through," Lori explains of her first thoughts on hearing the news.  "I wanted to see my grandchildren grow up as well."  As members of her family gathered together to lend support during the critical days following the diagnosis, Lori's eldest son and his wife - both of whom work in the wine business in Northern California - proposed founding a wine label whose proceeds would go towards helping to find a cure for the disease. 

Wine 2.0 Takes Off

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By Courtney Cochran

With the rash of new social (heh, Facebook) and micro-social (Twitter, anyone?) networking sites, it was only a matter of time before the techno-connectivity bug hit the wine world, big time. Enter Wine 2.0, an organization whose tagline - "Blending the Line Between Wine & Technology" - sums up its vocation, though there's a lot more to the organization that just sips and bits.

Hard Times: Harvest Report 2008

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By Courtney Cochran
Admittedly, California vintners have been through nothing if not the ringer this growing season. Starting with a devastating frost in late March - the worst on record in more than 30 years - that decimated as much as 30% of some vineyards' crop, 2008 has been a year that's tested the mettle of just about everyone close to winemaking in the Golden State, most of all those in hard-hit Northern California. To wit, on the heels of spring's frosts a series of devastating summer fires raged through wine country, causing winemakers to fret still more - this time about the potential impact the abundant smoke might have on their as-yet-unmade wines. Hard times, indeed.
By Courtney Cochran

Admittedly, Daniel Shanks has an important job. He's the man, after all, who fields phone calls from the Oval Office about which Chardonnay to pour for Queen Elizabeth II (Newton Vineyard Unfiltered Chardonnay, since the winery's British founder was knighted by the queen) and which bubbly to uncork for French President Nicolas Sarkozy (NV Chandon Étoile rosé, since the Napa-based winery is owned by the French). And thanks to a recent report at Bloomberg.com by one Elin McCoy, we now know a whole lot more about the method behind Washington's number one wine man's maneuvering.

STATE of HARVEST in CALIFORNIA

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harvest.jpgCALIFORNIA - It's harvest time around wine country regions all over the country! If you haven't had a chance to experience Crush Season first hand, take a look at one staff member's journey at several wineries in Napa Valley over the past couple of days. Check back often fro updates!

However, many wine drinkers are concerned about whether it will even be a good harvest this year. Weather seemed to bounce all over the place between extreme high temperatures and then very cool days resulting in mixed reviews from wine growers, vintners, and reviewers alike. Read buzz from all over California Wine Country:

By Courtney Cochran

It's official: If one more restaurant, winery or joe-hawking-specialty-wine-tours-in-Napa bloke signs me up for his mailing list without my permission I'm going to implode. Seriously. In fact, the email deluge has gotten so bad of late that I've been forced to take the proverbial pickax to my inbox, ruthlessly unsubscribing to literally dozens of unwanted distribution lists in fits of slash and burn clean-up. In spite of this furor, I have to admit that I still DO occasionally receive the odd piece of unsolicited email which I find - irritating though it is to admit - undeniably useful, at times even intriguing.

French Youths, Look West!

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By Courtney Cochran

A recent study conducted by Sonoma State University professor Liz Thach revealed a serious problem afoot in France:  French young people aren't drinking wine like they used to.   At a time when American youths (the so-called Millennial generation, encompassing young adults who turned 21 after the turn of the new millennium) are drinking more wine, more often and at higher price points than any of their forebears, French youths are drinking...a lot less than their parents.

Krug Pops Cork on New Era

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krugwinery.jpgBy Robert Farmer

Happily, the more things change in Napa, the more things stay the same in Napa. And so it goes that as one legendary winery changes ownership hands, another emerges from the chrysalis to spread its wings anew.

In September, the Mondavi family will celebrate the renewal of the Charles Krug Winery--officially unveiling an $8 million restoration to the two historic national landmark buildings at the winery while also honoring the patriarch, Peter Mondavi.

A New French Paradox

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chateaumontelenaroom.jpgBy Robert Farmer

There are more than a few ways to interpret the news from Napa. You might think it ironic. You might think it sad. Or you might think it adulation. And that's the way I chose to interpret the recently announced news that Chateau Montelena was purchased by Cos d'Estournel, one of Bordeaux legendary winemakers.

Going to the Frogs

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Chateau Montelena.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Egoistic French monarch Louis XIV once famously said, "l'état, c'est moi" ("I am the state," as in, I AM France).  Which came to mind as I was reading about the recent sale of Calistoga's Chateau Montelena to French businessman Michel Reybier, who also owns - among a number of other significant holdings - Château Cos d'Estournel, a well-known Bordeaux second growth.

How French Can We Get?
The great irony behind the purchase?  Chateau Montelena's 1973 Chardonnay was the white wine that bested its French counterparts in the legendary Judgment of Paris tasting of 1976, a watershed moment in Franco-American wine relations.  Along with Stag's Leap Wine Cellars' Cabernet Sauvignon - which placed first in the red category over a slew of top growth Bordeaux - Montelena's Chardonnay is credited with putting American wines on a level playing field with French wines for the first time.   As a result of these wins, the wine drinking world's consciousness began a gradual shift from France towards America (California, really), and it's a shift that's been ongoing ever since. 

Press Release: South Coast Winery Strikes Gold

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JIM_MAGGIE_WINEMAKERS_GOLDEN_BEARV2.jpg

Temecula, California -- Outlaws hiding in the valley and surrounding mountains in Southern California's Temecula Valley always knew there "was gold in those hills" but it took up until July 10, 2008 for South Coast Winery to strike gold and in a big way.

That is, the prestigious, bear-shaped Golden Bear Winery trophy from the 150+ year old California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition went to South Coast Winery as the winery for fielding the greatest number of award-winning wines in the 2008 annual fair competition. This 10-pound prized trophy is the symbol of California and adds the little known wine region to the Hall of Wine Producing Fame.

Kunde: Wag-Worthy Winery

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sidephoto_susthike.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

For the second time this year, Kunde Estate Winery & Vineyards is going to the dogs. Well, going dog friendly, that is. Following on the heels of Kunde's sold-out canine-themed event in May, the family-run winery will offer a second dog-friendly hike on Saturday, October 18th. The three-mile trek through Kunde's sustainably farmed estate vineyards will cost participants $45 (the fee covers both person and dog) and conclude with wine, a gourmet wine country picnic and water tasting for the pets.

Wine Popping With Climate Change

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climate2.jpgBy Robert Farmer

It's easy to overlook just how pervasive the topic of climate change really is. Not everybody lives in the South Pole, where massive sheets of ice are breaking away at alarming rates and melting into the ocean. Not does the threat of coastal waters rising to overtake entire cities sway the minds of most people on earth.

But the fact is, climate change can and will impact nearly all parts of our current lives. Yes, dear wine lover, that includes wine. And so it was with a great interest that I heard the news recently of a planned Wine Industry Seminar on Climate Change, scheduled for July 31-August 1 at Gloria Ferrer Winery in Sonoma.

Auction Napa Valley Report: Lights, Camera, Oprah!

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EV_NapaAuction060908_200.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Known variously as The American Wine Classic and "the granddaddy of all wine auctions," Auction Napa Valley 2008 went down on June 9th at the lavish Meadowood resort, though the vibe was decidedly more subdued than in previous years.  Whether you blame the scaled back fanfare on the tough economic climate, the heat (though it's typically scorching in Napa every year around Auction time) or the recent passing of Napa scion Robert Mondavi, the auction was without a doubt more mellow than usual.  

Deep In the Heart of Texas

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texaswine.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Texas has long been known for many things - BBQ, the Alamo, Dynasty, a fantastic music festival called South By Southwest (to name just a few) - but until recently something the Lone Star State most certainly was not known for was its wine.  On the heels of this year's well-attended Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival (texaswineandfood.org), however, that's all changing.

Solar Wineries Celebrate Solstice with First Annual Solarbration

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solarbration.jpgNapa Valley, CA - This summer solstice, wineries at the heart of the solar power trend in Wine Country will celebrate the day of the year when the sun shines the longest with the first annual Solarbration.

On June 21, from 5:30 p.m. until sunset, ZD Wines, Honig Vineyard & Winery, and Peju Province Winery will host a solstice celebration, with special wine tastings, sustainably grown gourmet cuisine, and live entertainment at each of their facilities. Guests are invited on a behind-the-scenes tour of the solar energy systems that power the wineries. Ticket price includes entry to all three wineries. All proceeds will be donated to The Land Trust of Napa County. Land Trust personnel will be at the wineries to answer questions about their land-saving work.

Robert Mondavi: Farewell to a True Pioneer

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robertmondavi.jpegBy Robert Farmer

Without the life of Robert Mondavi, one could strongly argue, the California Wine Industry would not exist in its current form. And so it is more than appropriate in light of his recent passing, that the praise being showered on the man in his wake be commensurate with his lasting impact. Perhaps no single person had such a pronounced impact on California Wine Country. With remarkable vision and diligence Mondavi steered the current irresistible force that is California Wine.

It was Mondavi who led California wine producers out of their mass-production jug-wine mentality and into the light of quality, limited-yield wines that would ultimately be judged on par with the great vintages of Europe.

R. Mondavi - With Respect

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rmondavi.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Growing up in a small town in Central California, good wine was difficult - if not downright impossible at times - to find.  And since I had the good fortune of having parents with a European sensibility when it came to sharing wine with their kids, I developed a good enough palate early on to feel the pain, so to speak, when the vino on the table wasn't up to snuff.

Get Ready to Rock at Roshambo Winery

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By Courtney Cochran

Rock, paper, scissors, that is.  Playfully dubbed by its hosts "Wine Country's Sporting Event of the Year," Roshambo Winery's (roshambowinery.com) raucous annual Rock, Paper, Scissors Tournament will take place this year on June 7 at the winery's hip new tasting room at Sonoma's Cornerstone Place (www.cornerstoneplace.com).

A Word on Wine at Costco

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winebottles.jpgBy Robert Farmer

I've long been intending to share my thoughts in this space about buying wine at Costco, but there just always seemed to be more pressing and - yes - more interesting. But recently the Costco Wine section has been in the news, and so it seems appropriate to bring it up.

If you follow trends in the wine industry, you may have heard that recently Costco Wholesale Corp. lost its long battle to overhaul wine-distribution laws in its home state of Washington. Costco had originally sued the state for what it viewed as the state's violation on federal antitrust laws as they related to wine distribution in Washington.

My So-Called Grape Life

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By Courtney Cochran


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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.

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.

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

Big Wine, Big Booze

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By Robert Farmer

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An ongoing debate among my wine-drinking friends and me is centered on the nature of so-called "big" red wines. Those who know me know that I like Big. Not saying I prefer big wines exclusively, but given the opportunity, I will call up something chewy, something that packs a punch, something with a more than a little heft. Typically that means I go for a substantial California Cabernet. But increasingly, big wines are being bottled in a number of varietals, and the phenomenon -- like so many other trends in wine - is causing it's fair share of controversy.

Eco Touring at Kunde Estate

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By Robert Farmer

kunde_ecotour.jpgWhen it comes to sustainable wine practice there are those who talk the talk and there are those who walk the walk. For those interested in know more about the latter, there is  Kunde Estate Winery & Vineyards (www.kunde.com). The winery that has been a staple in California's Wine Country for a century has also been farming sustainably for five generations. And they are more than happy to show you how it works.

Santa Cruz Cab takes first in a re-visit of the 1976 Paris Tasting

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If anyone thought the 1976 Paris tasting, where several virtually unknown Napa wines bested their French counterparts was a fluke, they'll have to contend the 2006 COPIA tasting. In May, two panels convened--one in England, and other in Napa at COPIA--to re-evaluate the original wines and see who's stood the test of time. The results: the 1971 Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon from the Santa Cruz Mountains finished in first, followed by the 1973 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars S.L.V. Cab, with a third place tie between the 1970 Heitz Martha's Vineyard Napa Valley Cab, the 1971 Mayacamas Vineyards Cab and a 1972 Clos du Val Napa Valley Cab.

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