A Summer Harvest and A Visit to Santa Ynez Valley’s Beautiful Biodynamic Demetria #WinePW

3 biodynamic wines from Demetria with a farm basket of organic fruits and vegetables

Wine country around the world is wonderfully scenic. Santa Barbara County, known around the world for its beauty, proves the rule, even during a drought year making the state truly “golden.” We were reminded of this during recent visits to Santa Ynez Valley: from the drive along the Pacific, to the climb up from Santa Barbara over San Marcos pass, and down the other side toward Lake Cachuma, an eerily empty reservoir following a history making absence of rainfall in 2022. 

On any road trip, some times you go with the flow, sometimes you trust your gut. In 2021, when I asked Lisa Stoll of Explore Wines Tour company about wineries she would recommend I include in Slow Wine Guide, she suggested Demetria: practicing biodynamic, great wines, and a beautiful locale Continue reading

Chardonnay Blanc de Blanc: Ivaldi’s Andrea DOCG Alta Langa #ItalianFWT

Italy is a land full of fascinating and unusual grapes that are indigenous or autochthonous, meaning that they have been there for a long long time, if not forever or original, or adapted to that place so much as to be unique. Read more about this topic here with tasting notes and pairings for several very rare Italian wines. In fact, that is one of my favorite aspects of Italian wines: there are so many interesting grapes to discover! And I’ve been on quest at least once a month for over five years to learn more and write about the interesting indigenous grapes of Italy. 

So why bother with “international” grapes like Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, or Merlot grown and made into wine in Italy? Continue reading

Albariño Day 2022: Comparing 2 Rías Baixas with 2 from California

Spain vs California Albariño

As much as I appreciate the freshness and food friendliness of Sauvignon Blanc (and yes more Chilean ones soon!), there are other white grapes that it’s high time for people to discover. Two at the top of my list are Chenin Blanc, like Sauvignon Blanc originating in the Loire Valley of France, and Spain’s Albariño aka Portugal’s Alvarinho, both coming from the Iberian peninsula. While Chenin Blanc was widely planted at one time in California, too often it was made into simple, sweet, insipid wine but there’s plenty of potential. Albariño, however, has always been uncommon in California. Fortunately, as people are discovering the Iberian versions, they are more interested in trying out the Californian ones. And at least one vineyard in California is planning on expanding their vines! Continue reading

3 Vintages, 3 Vineyards, 3 Cheeses: WALT Pinot Noir and Cypress Grove Winning Pairings for Picnics

WALT wines with Cypress hill cheese

When we learned that WALT Wines, a Pinot Noir producer with vineyards from Willamette to Santa Barbara, had teamed up with  Cypress Grove, makers of goat cheese like Purple Haze, to launch “The Ultimate Cheeseboard Challenge,” we knew we’d participate! We love cheese and wine pairings, because  food and wine are both “flavor dense” — both offer complex flavors and chemistry for your palate to play.  Continue reading

Burning Man 2022: Waking Dreams, Secretly Abandoned Spaces, Minstrel Cramps, and a Fox in the Hen House #WorldWineTravel

In a statement that most of us can relate to in 2022, “After a long hazy blur of pandemic insomnia, unanchored in time and adrift between sleeping and waking, it’s time to start imagining the future again.” So writes Stuart Mangrum, director of Burning Man Project’s Philosophical Center, in announcing the 2022 Burning Man theme of Waking Dreams. “Whether it’s a dream of artistic expression, a yearning to connect with others in a fractured society, or simply a desire to live a more meaningful and authentic life, Burning Man is the place where dreams can and do come true.”  

Waking Dreams

And that’s how, on a very warm summer evening, I found myself conveniently unscrewing a bottle of Fox in the Henhouse Chardonnay after joining Minstrel Crampers in a very pandemic setting: a hybrid ZOOM meeting where we would continue planning how to make our dreams for this year’s camp come true. Continue reading

Garagistes Arrive in Glendale for “Urban Exposure: Celebrating the Artisan Winemaker” 7/22+ 7/23/22


“We are excited to be back in Southern California with another slate of remarkable and innovative wineries from almost every California AVA,” said Garagiste Festival Co-founder Doug Minnick in a press release. “The Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure offers one of the most unique wine discovery opportunities available in the LA area.”

At a cost considerably less than a tank of gas for a trip to wine country, Southern California wine enthusiasts will congregate once more July 22 and 23 at the Garagiste Wine Festival’s Urban Exposure where they will taste wine from some of the best up and coming micro-production ‘garagiste’ wineries from across California, Continue reading

Comparing 4 More Sauv Blanc for Summer Time Virtual Travels: South Africa, Chile, Sonoma

4 sauv blanc: South Africa, Chile, Sonoma CA

What is it about Sauvignon Blanc that makes it so appealing, especially in the summer time? Is it the way Sauvignon Blanc goes so well with salads and other tastes of summer? Is it the notes of gooseberry aka “cat pee”? The jalapeño jelly? Grapefruit? Lemon lime? White stone fruit? Pine resin? Grassy herbal notes? Depending on what you prefer, and what glass you use, there is a Sauvignon Blanc for you! Continue reading