I Won! Celebrating with Champagne Henriot 2012


Well I have some very exciting news and a cause for celebration!

Remember the essay I wrote for the Jancis Robinson Wine Writing Contest about regenerative agriculture I was very pleased and surprised that my essay was selected for publication, and then even more so when my essay made the shortlist!

Today, Sept. 23, Jancis Robinson announced the winners of this year’s contest. I did not make the top three of the vote getters for the People’s Choice, which was won by Diana Hawkins whose essay I enjoyed so much I had my college students read it.

However, Continue reading

Wine 101: Slow Wine Guide Wineries in Santa Barbara AVAs from Sta Rita Hills to Ballard Canyon and Beyond #WinePW

Santa Barbara County AVAs in order of addition: 1 = Santa Maria Valley; 2 = Sta Rita Hills; 3 = Ballard Canyon; 4 = Happy Canyon; 5 = Los Olivos District; 6 = Santa Ynez; 7 = Alisos Canyon; move your mouse onto the map to see the key

While most mountain ranges snake south to north paralleling the ocean, in California’s Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, the Transverse Range is exactly that — crosswise, or perpendicular to the Pacific and running west to east. This anomaly is what makes Santa Barbara AVAs special: air off the cold Pacific Ocean rushes east, cooling inland valleys to make them habitable for vines, and closer to the coast, to provide a cool climate terroir that produces stellar Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as well as spectacular Syrah, gorgeous Grenache, and captivating Cabernet.

AVA stands for American Viticultural Areas, and indicates an appellation of origin, a specific region that offers unique or special characteristics. The US has 260 AVAs with over half of them (142) in California. Within an AVA, sub-AVAs further differentiate, and often particular grapes prevail.  Obtaining an AVA is complicated, complex, time consuming; only the truly devoted will succeed in proving the uniqueness of the terroir: geography, topography, climate, geology and more factors go into proving the distinctness of an area.

Why learn about AVAs? Knowing more about an AVA can help you find the wines you will love! Santa Barbara has 7 officially recognized AVAs: Santa Maria Valley AVA, Santa Ynez Valley AVA, Sta. Rita Hills AVA, Ballard Canyon AVA, Los Olivos District AVA, Happy Canyon AVA, and Alisos Canyon AVA.

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I made the Jancis Robinson #WWC22 Shortlist! Please vote for my essay “Stories of Regeneration”


Lupine with lupine

The Jancis Robinson team recently announced a shortlist of 20 entries from the  2022 wine writing competition — and I made the list with my stories of regeneration which includes a walk with my foster dog Lupine (read here). To determine the Reader’s Prize, you can vote for up to three entries from now  until Wednesday, September 21 9am UK time (basically midnight Sept. 20 Pacific time).

It’s easy to vote; you can can find the link to vote and the shortlist here. 

“We have been able to read about organic viticulture in Crete, sheep and goats in Oregon, and even cider production in Napa,” write the editors. Continue reading

Wine and Cheese Delivery! Quartomoro Orriu Cannonau di Sardegna and a Cheese Board from Curdbox #ItalianFWT

2018 Orriu Cannnonau di Sardegna + curdbox cheese board supplies

What’s better than Italian wine paired with cheese? When it is delivered to your door! This month, the Italian Food Wine Travel group of writers is virtually visiting Sardegna, an island off Italy north of Sicily, with host Jill Barth. Read her invitation post here. Also known as Sardinia, the main grape grown there is Cannnonau which is also known as Grenache in France and Garnacha in Spain. So lucky me, when I said sure to sampling a pair of Italian wines with a selection of cheese and nuts and other supplies for a cheese board, one of the wines that arrived was a 2018 Orriu Cannnonau di Sardegna! 

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“Stories of Regeneration”– My Article for #WWC22 on Regenerative Ag Up at Jancis Robinson


UPDATE 9/9/22: I made the shortlist! To determine the Reader’s Prize, you can vote for up to three entries from now  until Wednesday, September 21 9am UK time. It’s easy: you can can find the link to vote and the shortlist here. 

The young foster dog “Lupine” was restless. I’d just finished a 90 minute conversation with Ventura County fifth generation farmer Phil McGrath, a statewide leader in regenerative farming, or as he likes to think of it, successional farming, meaning farming in a way that considers successive generations. So begins my submission to the Jancis Robinson Wine Writing Contest 2022 edition which you can read here. It includes a far reaching range of regenerative stories including Burning Man artist Valerie Mallory, Champagne’s Vincent Charlot, Italy’s Antonella Manuli, and Oregon’s Troon.  

Last year I wrote one of 136 essays on the subject of old vines entered in Jancis Robinson’s annual wine writing competition. About half were selected for publication, and  I made the cut in 2021 when my article about old vines was selected to be published at Jancis Robinson. That article “Meet Magdalena” features the organic Zinstar vineyard at Lucas in Lodi. 

This year’s competition is inspired by the Regenerative Viticulture Foundation, and we were tasked with writing “An account of regeneration in the wine world, whether of a vineyard, a soil, a winery, a person, a family, a community, a business – anything in the world of wine involving genuine renewal.” Continue reading

Celebrating Organic Pinot Noir from Sta Rita Hills: Au Bon Climat, J. Dirt, The Ojai Vineyard, Sea Smoke

3 Sta Rita Hills Pinot Noir paired with smoked chicken, roasted vegetables, salad

In Sideways, Miles famously celebrates Santa Barbara County’s Pinot Noir. Like Miles, I’m a fan of the region’s Pinot Noir, and I find the wines from the Sta Rita Hills exceptionally fabulous. Since I’m writing about several organic Pinot Noir for the next edition of Slow Wine Guide, Continue reading