“Fugues on the Farm” feature in VC Reporter

Check out my cover article “FUGUES ON THE FARM | A HARVEST SERENADE COURTESY OF MUSIKARAVAN” for the VC Reporter — with a photo I took on the cover! It’s in this week’s paper, on stands yesterday September 24, 2020.

Unfortunately they did not include any of the video clips I sent them in the digital edition, but you can find some of the violin in the vineyard Continue reading

Rhône Roam #4: Rare Roussanne with Scallops, Crab Risotto, Oysters, Salad #CaliforniaWineMonth

Not familiar with Roussanne? No surprise –it’s really rare!

According to the California Grape Acreage Report 2019 Summary only 323 acres of Roussanne are grown in Continue reading

Rhône Roam #3: Crozes-Hermitage Is Syrah, Condrieu Equals Viognier — Paired with Fish Dishes #Winophiles

YuEn Gemma Kim, violinist, soars above and stays socially distant from my fish dishes paired with two wines from the northern Côtes du Rhône, France.

The Rhône River Valley in southeastern France is a BIG place: 165K acres of BIG, and about 150 miles from north to south. About 5% of this region is considered “northern Rhône” featuring Syrah and Viognier, and 95% is “Southern Rhône” featuring Grenache and an assortment of other red and white grapes including Mourvedre, Cinsault, Marsanne, and Rousanne (which I will be writing about next week). The smaller northern region has a more moderate continental climate with a focus on Syrah with fresh acidity; the southern is more mediteranean and warm and allows challenging grapes like Mourvede to ripen. Continue reading

Rhône Roam #1: El Dorado AVA Wines for a #CAWineMonth Late Summer Fishy Feast with Friends and Music


When is a


not a


When it’s a wine made from a Rhône grape grown anywhere other than the Rhône region in France!

This seems obvious to me now following a webinar all about the wines of the Rhône where they made this point.

Just like the only wine you can call Champagne is from Champagne. Everything else is simply sparkling wine.

The words “sparkling wine” is an easy replacement for Champagne. But I haven’t found a reasonable term that covers those grapes we commonly associate with the Rhône Valley of France. Earlier this year I called wines from Tablas Creek “Rhône Inspired” but that’s not satisfying to me as a wine word smith.

What is satisfying? These four wines from the El Dorado AVA using grapes from the Rhône River Valley in France.

Continue reading

Harvest Conversation at The Ojai Vineyard about the new hybrids with winemakers Adam Tolmach and Fabien Castel #WinePW

The Ojai Vineyard’s General Manager Fabien Castel

“To make great wine you can’t be greedy,” says Fabien Castel, General Manager at The Ojai Vineyard.

Sue Hill and I are standing with Fabien Castel and winemaker Adam Tolmach in the The Ojai Vineyard estate experimental vineyard planted in 2017 with special UC Davis Pierce disease resistant hybridized vines — two reds and two whites– that will be blended into an as yet to be named wines. The white was just bottled and I’ve been promised a shiner– no label yet because they don’t know what they will call it.

Although the vineyard was harvested between two intense heat waves– 48 hours before this area of Ojai’s Ventura County reached 120 degrees– there’s still lots of ripe fruit for us to snack on.

And it’s good.

“Don’t you tire of eating grapes?” I ask Adam as he almost greedily enjoys handfuls of purple fruit. Clearly he still relishes this aspect of the business, forty years after he planted his first vineyard here along Creek Road, a route which leads to Ojai proper and The Ojai Vineyard Tasting Room on Montgomery Street which opened in 2010.

The Ojai Vineyard’s Fabien Castel with founder Adam Tolmach; Fabien has worked with Adam for 20 years now.

We’re near the end of a two hour conversation Continue reading

Music in the Malbec, Violinists in the Vineyard, Songs with the Syrah, Break Time with Tacos, and A Preview to Harvest 2020 #WinePW

Music in the Malbec?

Violinists in the vineyard?

Songs with Syrah?

Yes it’s the Musikaravan!

Yesterday as we harvested Malbec, Syrah, and Petit Verdot in the Clos des Amis Estate Vineyard on South Mountain, we were serenaded by two Los Angeles area violinists, Continue reading