This year marks my first year at the annual Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC17). What I was looking forward to was learning more about the blogosphere, how to improve my writing skills, and — of course — meeting with the people I chat with almost on a daily base — either on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook (in some cases all three) in real life. But what I wasn’t prepared for was how fast we’d become real life friends and how, just within the span of a long weekend, we’d all form lifelong relationships bonded by our mutual love and respect for the world of wine.
I’m not saying there weren’t some crazy antics behind the scenes — but when it comes right down to it, each participant seemed to have their own professional niche in the wine world. And because I don’t yet have a space for a blog roll on my site (this will definitely be in Phase 2, as it were, as I continue to build), I wanted to dedicate a post to a few other bloggers — both writers and podcasters — whose websites I think are worth subscribing to.
For this year’s Thanksgiving week, I want to dedicate a few posts to those in the wine industry for whom I am grateful. During my time at this year’s Wine Blogger’s Conference (WBC17), I had the opportunity to spend some time with one of my favorite winery’s, Jordan Winery, located on Alexander Valley Road, just north of downtown Healdsburg. What I love about this winery is not just their amazing wines (indeed, their focused Cabernet Sauvignon is some of the most balanced I’ve experienced), but the true sense of welcome every time I walk through the winery’s doors or participate in one of their events.
“We like to say we do three things here at Jordan Winery: Cabernet, Chardonnay, and Hospitality.” –John Jordan
While attending this year’s Wine Blogger’s Conference in Santa Rosa, California, I was alerted to the passing of Patricia Green, co-founder and winemaker of Patricia Green Cellars. Though I never had the pleasure of meeting Patty in person — in fact, I’ve yet to visit the winery either — she absolutely impacted my wine life. In fact, I dare say, she is the woman who gifted me my love of wine. So I dedicate this post to Patricia Green — her life, her legacy, and the influence she had on me as both a wine lover and wine writer.
It makes sense that Zinfandel has gained a reputation as California’s “heritage grape.” For many years, Zinfandel’s exact origins remained a mystery, or, as Jancis Robinson calls it, “a romantic thriller.” The red grape seemed to have made the trek and set fresh roots in the Golden State in conjunction with the forty-niners seeking their fortune in gold. Here, when the search for treasure proved fruitless, settlers turned to farming — and the Zinfandel grape thrived more than the Gold Rush ever could. Fields of vines flourished throughout the Sierra Foothills, and wine — namely jug wine — became a household staple and a new California industry.
With no known parentage and no knowledge of how the red wine grape arrived in the States in the first place — Zinfandel became California’s “wine child.”
The reputation Miles gave Merlot from his famous line in Sideways is not without merit. Sometime in the mid-1990’s American Merlot plantings boomed: In 1985 there were less than 2,000 acres in California, but by 2003 (just around the time Sideways released), there were over 50,000 acres planted. As a result, Merlot became the go-to red wine of choice or, as WinePros.org says, “the generic red wine flavor of fashion.” Winemakers were virtually mass-producing the varietal to keep up with popular demand. So Merlot became known for its lack of flavor, texture, and structure — an “easy drinker” that didn’t need to be understood. But with Miles’ line, the wine-drinking masses, along with the winemakers, seemed to have woken up. What is this red wine we’ve been drinking without a thought?
Merlot is actually a tricky grape to grow — its nuances so subtle and only noticeable when harvested at the proper time. There are good Merlots in the world — with depth, complexity, and uniqueness. So let’s take a look at what makes Merlot…Merlot.