Happy Birthday to Wine Predator! Happy 100th Birthday to Nino Franco!

After a number of years of writing a newspaper column called “Art Predator,” on Saturday, November 4, 2007, I registered my Art Predator blog and began posting about an eclectic collection of topics that engages the whole soul– including food, wine, and travel.

Art Predator (CC) Randy Stewart, blog.stewtopia.com. Feel free to use this picture. Please credit as shown. If you are a person that I have taken a photo of, it’s yours (but I’d still be curious as to where it is).


That led to an invitation to work for an international importer as a writer and a social media specialist. While that job fell through when the economy took a dump, I decided to attend the first Wine Blogger’s Conference anyway that year, and in November 2008,  Wine Predator was born.

As of today, I’ve published 848 posts — this one will be 849 — with almost a half millions words which have had 145k views with 72k unique visitors.

This year, with the help of Sue Hill, I’ve published 100 posts with a total of 150k words averaging almost 1.8k views a month with four likes and five comments per post.

But it’s more than the number of posts and words– it’s the experiences that being a wine blogger has brought me that are worth celebrating. I’ve had the opportunity to taste special wines at all price points and had experiences like travel:

And the food! Wine just comes alive with the right food pairing and so I’ve had some incredible meals and been some astounding places because I am a wine writer.

It just so happens that Nino Franco Prosecco is also celebrating! They were named the #1 wine in 2019 from Wine Enthusiast AND they’re celebrating a birthday — a really big one! It’s their 100th year so they sent me a cake and a bottle of their DOCG Prosecco!

While generally people think about Prosecco as a happy hour wine or for toasting, we’ve learned that Prosecco DOCG works well with food so I paired the Nino Franco Rustico with grilled chicken and mozzarella ravioli with winter squash, mushrooms, and Alfredo sauce beside a caprese salad.

This is a super special AND super easy meal — if you buy the ingredients already prepared! I bought everything on sale at the store, and simply cooked them up– sautéing the squash and mushrooms until soft separately then combining them with the cooked ravioli and warmed sauce.


When Prosecco was named a UNESCO site last summer, we paired the Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco with a simple yet delicious salad and strawberry dumpling dessert which you can read about here and there’s tasting notes there as well.

At 100 years old, Nino Franco is the oldest winery in Valdobbiadene, home to DOCG Prosecco. Antonia Franco founded the winery in 1919, Nino took over, and  and his grandson Primo is known as a leader in the Prosecco revolution by bringing Prosecco to markets around the world as well as investing in making high quality wine. Today Primo’s daughter Silvia runs the winery while Primo continues to travel.

The name Rustico refers to the traditional method of making Prosecco — a method that’s no longer used but the name has stuck around. The Glera grape vienyards are located in the Venetian region at the base of the Prealps. This sample was sent for my participation in the celebration and can be purchased locally at Ojai Beverage Company in Ojai for $19.

A few years ago, I posted a page with some of my favorite articles — a “best of” so to speak. I definitely need to update that! But for now, here are a few favorite recent posts. There’s been so many great meals that Sue has made it’s hard to choose!

But one of my favorites is based on my interview with Vincent Charlot in his vineyards in Champagne France during our trip there in October.

Certainly for me I’ve really enjoyed researching and writing for my series about Clos des Amis; I write about the experience at the end of each month. Here’s the series:

For the past few years, we’ve enjoyed participating in four wine writing groups:

  • Italian Food Wine Travel — we publish on the first Saturday of the month
  • Wine Pairing Weekend– we publish on the second Saturday of the month
  • French Winophiles– we publish on the third Saturday of the month
  • LA Wine Writers– we have lunch on the third Thursdays of the month

Here’s the link to October and there you’ll find links to this year’s posts: Italian Food Wine Travel #ItalianFWT — there’s a list of this past years posts. Speaking of Italian wine, in February I took the VinItaly Italian Wine Ambassador Course and while I was not one of the small handful who passed the test to become an Ambassador on the first try, I learned a lot!

These four groups plus wine travel and industry events and seminars have filled my mind and my notebooks with content to write about in the past, present and the future!

Just ahead in November we plan:

  • SHERRY WEEK this week 11/4-11/11
  • TEMPRANILLO Day Th 11/14: RIOJA mojo, rosado Tempranillo blanc.
  • WINE PW Sat 11/9: We have a tannat and a petite sirrah from Texas.
  • MERLOT DAY Thursday 11/7
  • WINOPHILES Sat. 11/16: 4 red Rasteau
  • ZIN DAY W 11/20 we have 2 or 3 samples plus some from Sue’s collection
  • CARMENERE DAY 11/24 Samples and purchased wine
  • maybe BEAUJOLAIS DAY 11/21
ALSO Fire and Ventura County Vineyards — with a 2018 Syrah from Clos Des Amis that was spared from last week’s Maria fire.
For Thanksgiving, I’d like to do a gratitude post with two from Chateneuf-du-Pape and possibly a 2002 Rhone blend  from Ojai Vineyard. And ready to be finalized and published are articles about Sosie wine and 3 Pinot Noirs from Unusual Locales in California.
Thanks again to Sue for all of her cooking, tasting, and note taking prowess these past few years! It frees me up to focus on photos and perception, and gives me a bit more time to edit the tasting notes, add the story, fill in the background, and upload the photos.
Looks like another busy and productive month as we head in December and finish out 2019! Looking forward to the next year as a wine writer!

Happy birthday and congratulations to Nino Franco and to me! Lots to celebrate! Cheers!


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