Because You Might Be Dead Next Year: Drinking A 1995 Clos des Amis Cabernet for Cabernet Day 2021

“Because I was dead last year.”  That’s what Bruce Freeman said when he brought out and opened a 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon from the cold room at his winery, Clos des Amis, located on South Mountain in Santa Paula, Ventura County, California, on Cabernet Day 2021.

Bruce Freeman

What he said is true: during the 2019 harvest, two years ago, Bruce was very sick. Near the end of harvest, he was Continue reading

Chardonnay Harvest: Ventura County Vineyards August 2021

Clos des Amis winermaker Bruce Freeman with a truckload of Olivelands Chardonnay, Santa Paula, Ventura County, CA

It’s that moment we’ve all been waiting for and preparing for: Harvest 2021! A week or so ago, I spent two days picking and then processing the Chardonnay from the Olivelands Vineyard just south of Santa Paula, Ventura County, California. These grapes will go into the Clos des Amis Olivelands Chardonnay, a small experimental vineyard hidden in a pocket hillside and surrounded by Continue reading

Monastrell from Murcia and Valencia with Lamb-Beef Burgers and El Taberno #WorldWineTravel

EL TABERNO: a veritable tower of vegetables! a great vegetarian pairing for Monastrell!

What wine is known as “the dog strangler”? What was the fourth most widely planted red wine grape variety with 106,380 acres in Spain five years ago? Why, Monastrell aka Mourvèdre in France and Mataro in Australia! Sadly these plantings are DOWN 150k acres from 10 years ago as vineyards get replanted with popular international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. 

However, in eastern Spain, particularly around Murcia and Valencia, Monastrell continues to be one of the primary red wine grape varieties in the DOPs of Jumilla, Yecla, Valencia, Almansa, and Alicante. 

Continue reading

Astronomical Biodynamic Brooks: 3 Wines from the 2017 Total Eclipse

camping under the moonlight near Lake Tahoe 

As we gaze at the moon, whether it is waxing or waning, full or new, descending over the ocean, ascending over a hillside, or passing through the trees, the moon makes memories with us. But one of the most spectacular events in the sky occurs during the daytime when the moon passes in front of the sun, blocking it, and the sun’s atmosphere can be seen should you be so lucky to find yourself in the right place at the right time. Once considered fearsome, now these events are understood, celebrated, and commemorated.

Brooks Winery is located just south of McMinnville and north of Salem

Where were you on August 21 2017, when Continue reading

Meet Magdalena: My Entry to Jancis Robinson’s 2021 Contest is LIVE

“Meet Magdalena. Quite a remarkable, resilient character, according to those who knew her best. Born in the early 1930s, Magdalena lived a long and fruitful life in Lodi, California, luxuriating in the loamy sandy soil, not far from the Mokelumne River until her early death from tractor blight.” So begins my entry to the 2021 Wine Writing Competition about the Lucas Winery’s Lodi ZinStar Vineyard.

And today I’m SO EXCITED to announce my essay on old vines is up NOW on JancisRobinson.com! How did this happen? In late July, Sue Hill and I visited Lucas in Lodi with hopes that they’d qualify for the next Slow Wine Guide. We had a lot of help from the Lodi Wine Commission setting up appointments in the region, and we were told possibly David Lucas might be able to meet with us briefly. Imagine my surprise and joy to have both David Lucas and Heather Pyle Lucas sit with us under the redwoods for an interview. Continue reading

Speed Dating, Speed Tasting: #WMC21 Live Red Wine Social

A festive live white wine tasting crew: Beth-Ellen, Pinny, Melanie, Theresa, Gwendolyn, Jennifer, wearing cork crowns made by Lisa Stoll; photo by George Rose #WMC21

Two weeks ago, the 2021 Wine Media Conference came to the end. Now in its 13th edition, I’ve attended nine in person and one virtual– missing out on gatherings in Virginia, New York, and Australia. One highlight for me has been the all day excursions, but with 2021, a lack of sponsorships meant these were lackluster. No surprise. Many wineries are not in the position to throw out all the stops for a wine event for a large or small group of journalists. The pre-and post conference excursions have also been highlights, and this was true in 2021 as well; more on these soon. 

Some sponsors really stepped up to the plate, and Troon is one of them: they stepped up to the literal plate during the Southern Oregon pre-conference excursion by providing a winery dinner prepared by Fire and Wine authors Sean Martin and Mary Cressler! Continue reading

Wine Media Conference Live Wine Social: White/Rosé Speed Tasting

photo by George Rose #WMC21; cork tiaras by USA Wine Tasting team member Lisa Stoll

What do the Wine Media Conference “speed tasting” sessions and the World Blind Wine Tasting Championship have in common? In both, participants have eight minutes to figure out a wine! The big difference? Actually they really are opposite: At the Wine Media Conference 2021 event, someone told us about the wine and we had eight minutes to come up with our assessment, and hopefully tweet, post, publish about it while at the World Wine Tasting Championships, in those same eight minutes we must figure out the grape, country, region, year, and producer on our own — with our team.  

Team USA in 2019 (left to right: Tyler Robertson, Sue Hill, Gwendolyn Alley, Jacob Fergus) at Chateau Chambord with the coach

In the past, Continue reading