Pruning: January in Ventura County’s South Mountain Vineyard

Malbec and other red wine vines at the South Mountain Vineyard of Clos des Amis located above the small town of Santa Paula California. Photo by Gwendolyn Alley.

Instead of attending Unified Wine and Grape Symposium in Sacramento, a break in the weather between winter storms found me drinking my morning coffee while driving the windy South Mountain Road from Santa Paula toward Fillmore along the Santa Clara River in Ventura County’s Heritage Valley (check out Pam Strayer’s  Unified coverage here). The day, while dry, was full of moist air from the river and the rains.

On one side of me, bright balls of orange decorated the glossy dark green leafed citrus trees and on the other steep hillsides banded with chalky marine and red sedimentary layers reminded me of what’s underneath. Soon purple lupine, golden poppies, and yellow mustard will splash across the horizon on the glowing verdant hillsides.

Cisco, my faithful Australian cattle dog sidekick, Continue reading

Flora Springs Releases 2016 Trilogy: An Accessible Napa Cab Blend

“When we started making Cabernet Sauvignon in the late 70s, Napa Valley winemakers followed the Bordeaux model,” says Flora Springs Proprietor John Komes. “The general consensus was that high quality Cabs should be built to age for a long period of time. In practical terms this meant that upon release, many Cabernets were simply too big, too tannic and too overpowering to drink; they needed time in the bottle to mellow out. So in 1984 we decided to try something different, Continue reading

Happy New Year of the Trees! Yarden Mount Hermon Red with Cholent


A prayer for the total lunar eclipse on Tu BiShvat from Rabbi David Seidenberg:

“As we receive the light of the sun reflected in the face of the moon, may we receive wisdom to guide our future.

May we reflect hope, so that we give strength to each other.

We are a part of the Earth’s shadow, and a part of the Earth’s atmosphere, which bends the red light of the sun to illuminate the moon.

When we cast our own shadow, may we still shine a gentle light to illuminate the world around us.

May we be awakened by the grandeur and awe of Your works, so that may we may be filled with courage to heal the Earth from human destruction.

May salvation arise for the heavens, and may this full moon of Shevat bring blessing to the fruit trees and to all Life.

May we strengthen the Tree of Life with all our actions, so that the sun may shine for blessing, for us and for all life.”

Most Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I take a hike with my dog Cisco from 8-9am at Arroyo Verde Park which, like so much of my city, was burned in the Thomas Fire.

But many of the trees survived and on my Friday hike, I saw a few bits of green in the trees: new signs of life.

Tu Bishvat on January 21st celebrates trees, Continue reading

Still and Sparkling: 2 Biodynamic Wines from Alsace for #Winophiles

…true quality is that which succeeds in surprising and moving us. It is not locked inside a formula. Its essence is subtle (subjective) and never rational. It resides in the unique, the singular, but it is ultimately connected to something more universal. A great wine is one in which quality is contained. Such a wine will necessarily be uncommon and decidedly unique because it cannot be like any other, and because of this fact it will be atypical, or only typical of itself.

So says winemaker André Ostertag in Kermit Lynch’s Inspiring Thirst (page 279).  Continue reading

Navarin French Lamb Stew with Biodynamic M. Chapoutier “Les Meysonniers” for #Winophiles

It’s the heart of winter here in Southern California, and we’ve been getting drenched.

While grateful that this may mean the end of the drought, the intense rain raises fears of floods and debris flows. Indeed, after four days of steady rain, we got about 8″ which is more than half of our average annual rain fall for this desert region. Many people were evacuated and the Ventura River flooded its banks requiring the exodus of people camping in the RV resort along its banks. Continue reading

Go Organic 2019: Argentina’s Santa Julia, Domaine Bousquet #WinePW

Organic Wines from Argentina’s Santa Julia and Domaine Bousquet

This month’s Wine Pairing weekend takes a select group of bloggers to Argentina with host Jeff Burrows.

I decided, in keeping with my New Year’s Resolution to focus on organic and biodynamic wines to do just that and feature two Argentinean wineries that are organic: Santa Julia and Domaine Bousquet paired with Sue’s homemade empanadas and a black bean chimichurri salad with dulce de leche from the instant pot for dessert. We also decided to pair up similar wines: two chardonnay, two malbec, and two Sauvignon blanc but form two wines in two locations at two price points.  On a subsequent night, I paired the two chardonnay with lobster with ravioli and nasturtium pesto and the reds with nine hour lamb made in the instant pot. All wines are samples for my review consideration and all opinions are my own without monetary compensation. Continue reading