Happy Easter to all who celebrate. Happy Passover to all who celebrate. Happy weekend to all who celebrate. No matter what you’re celebrating, even if it’s just life in general, I hope you’re having a good time of it and have a lovely glass in hand. We have modest plans at my place, and that has not stopped me from putting together my weekly shortlist of wine-newsy items. Some good stuff on the list, but one in particular I want to highlight, written by yours truly, is a feature interview with Vivianne Kennedy—the only openly Transgender winemaker in the US. If you’ve not yet read this piece, check it out. And then when you’re done, travel on over to the RAM Cellars website and pick up a few bottles of amazingness. (Or better yet, join the wine club—that’s what I did!)


My personal balancing act…


Wine Enthusiast: ‘I’m Going to Keep Showing Up’: 5 Questions with Vivianne Kennedy

“I am the only openly transgender winemaker on this continent that I can find,” says Vivianne Kennedy, winemaker and proprietor of RAM Cellars, who uses she/they pronouns. “People on the spectrum, by and large, do not exist in wine production.”

When Kennedy came out, her boutique Oregon-based wine business was just beginning to take off. The news had an immediate impact on sales and production.

“Our sales and our presence took a dip after I came out as myself,” they say. “We lost business accounts. Some folks no longer wanted to sell us fruit; we lost DTC because some people didn’t want to associate with me.”

There were times when she wanted to give up, Kennedy says, when the barriers into wine were thought to be too thick to knock down. But Kennedy ultimately decided that her authentic self and existence in the wine industry are not mutually exclusive. READ MORE

Eater: ‘I Would Love to Fly a Trans Flag, But It Might Put My Animals in Danger’

Farmer Lee Hennessy on why he’s crowdfunding for a security system for his upstate NY farm

Moxie Ridge Farm, in Argyle, New York, is a small diversified livestock farm. We have our goat milk and onsite creamery for our goat cheeses, but we also raise pigs on our whey, we do lamb and mutton, and we’ve just started our meat goat herds. We’re just celebrating our fifth anniversary and, thanks to the Farm Service Agency, we have a chance to buy our farm.

Part of the farm’s mission is for me to be visible as a 40-year-old trans man. But I’ve been really struggling with how to balance keeping myself safe and high-functioning, while at the same time doing what I want to be doing with my life, which is being that trans person that’s just living and doing cool shit.

I came out as trans out here on the farm. When I was having that realization, I had a lot of ingrained fear based on what I was taught about how wrong, and therefore dangerous, it is to be trans. While I was thrilled to finally move through the world as myself, I’m not proud to say that a built-in reaction to the thought of doing that was, “I’m going to get murdered, right?” When I was a teenager in the ’90s, Boys Don’t Cry won a bunch of awards, including an Oscar. The stories that were being told about trans people and queer people were all stories of violence. That was terrifying as a kid, assuming violence was inevitable. When I was in middle school, I was bullied, and the way that I could control my own safety was by dressing really feminine. For a lot of trans people, and especially for me, safety is a really big deal, and that safety has nothing to do with us. It has to do with how other people see us. It’s not inherently unsafe to be a trans person; it’s unsafe because of other people’s opinions about our bodies. READ MORE

New York Times: A Napa Favorite Goes Back to the Future

A new team at Stony Hill is making important changes while embracing its history and its singular style of wines.

Through almost 70 tumultuous years of California wine history, one thing seemed never to change: Stony Hill Vineyard, a pioneer of California chardonnay since its first vintage in 1952 and perhaps Napa Valley’s first cult wine producer.

As fashions came and went, Stony Hill clung to its old-school methods and austere style of chardonnay, seemingly taking little notice of the extravagant, oaky and alcoholic styles that gained popularity in the 1990s (and fetched far higher prices) or the accelerating Napa red wine culture growing around it.

Then, in short order the ground began to shake and the firmament shifted. The McCrea family, owners of Stony Hill since Fred and Eleanor McCrea bought the 168-acre Spring Mountain property in 1943, sold the winery and vineyard in 2018 to Long Meadow Ranch, another family-owned Napa winery. A year later, Mike Chelini, the winemaker and vineyard manager, retired after 45 vintages.

In December 2020, scarcely after Long Meadow began converting Stony Hill to organic viticulture, it turned around and sold Stony Hill to Gaylon Lawrence Jr., an agricultural magnate from Arkansas, who, with his chief executive, Carlton McCoy Jr., has put together a portfolio of historic Napa properties, including Heitz CellarHaynes Vineyard and Burgess CellarsREAD MORE

Wine-Searcher: We Need to Talk About Wine Faults

Imagine a great Burgundy name. Not that one. A more Chardonnay-ey one. You know… No? No! Like that but not that. Anyway, imagine a big-name Burgundy domaine – let’s call it Domaine Benoit Burnes…

So, two weeks ago, I’m being taken round some wine tanks in a local winery, tasting someone’s wines and we get to a white wine. We taste it and the winemaker says “it’s got a bit of brett [brettanomyces]…you know, just there”. And we chat a bit more and he says, “well, you know, there’s no Burnes without brett”. He says it smilingly, knowingly. He says it in the way Vladimir Putin says “no one’s perfect”. Every winemaker I know gets the schtick. READ MORE

Paso Robles Daily News

In light of recent public attention on this issue, I am writing to explain our frustration with the lack of solutions from county officials.

From May 2019 until November 2019 Tobin James Winery, family and employees were stalked and terrorized by a neighbor, Gabe Canaday.

Canaday was under the belief that Tobin James employees had kidnaped his wife and children and they were being held captive and tortured in one of the winery’s buildings and he could hear them screaming. Canaday was on the winery property day and night for 6 months. He would often tell our Harvest Host guests to leave the winery property with one guest pulling a gun on Canaday because of his erratic behavior. READ MORE

Wine Spectator: Napa Valley Makes Way for Micro-Wineries

New ordinance could help small producers gain a foothold in California’s most competitive wine market

In 1990, in hopes of controlling development in America’s premier wine region, Napa County legislators passed the Winery Definition Ordinance (WDO), legally defining “winery.” At that time, the board of supervisors couldn’t have foreseen the valley, 30 years later, being home to nearly 500 physical wineries and more than 1,800 licensed wine producers that range from boutique to behemoth. This week, the board created a new winery category, hoping to carve out a spot for small wineries that have been denied full winery rights before now.

On April 5, the board gave final approval to the Micro-Winery Ordinance, which simplifies the permitting process for small producers who make up to 1,000 cases of wine per year. Supporters of the move say it will make running a craft winery truly sustainable.

“[The WDO] has been a hard regulation to live within,” Elise Nerlove, co-owner of Elkhorn Peak Cellars and vice president of the micro-winery advocacy group Save the Family Farms, told Wine Spectator. “The ordinance worked for a few decades, but with the consolidation of distribution companies, many of us [micro-wineries] have been dropped from our distributors and [rendered] unable to sell our product.” READ MORE…

VinePair: Does the Alcohol Industry Value Drinks Influencers More than Bartenders?

When Jackie Gebel launched her blog No Leftovers in 2013, she was working as a digital media and creative strategy director for a New York City-based PR firm. Her blog content mainly featured culinary storytelling via food photos, but when a big vodka brand approached her with a paid partnership opportunity, it would become the catalyst that helped Gebel transition her full-time focus to social media. “What interested me was that at the time, there were so few liquor brands doing anything on social media, especially because of how many rules and regulations they had in place due to age and audience,” she says. “I saw the potential to get creative with my posts and use alcohol as a way to tell a larger story about food.”

In the six years since, Gebel has built up a following of nearly 360,000 on Instagram, and has collaborated with more than 35 alcohol brands, acting as everything from a host of summer parties in the Hamptons to a creator of lifestyle content in the form of photos and videos in destinations like Sorrento and St. Barts. READ MORE

Napa Valley Register: Napa County wineries sued over website accessibility call for more clear compliance terms

Dozens of Napa County wineries have been sued for website accessibility non-compliance in the last year, causing frustration and confusion for the businesses hit with the lawsuits.

Trade groups estimate that about four dozen local wineries have been sued, with an overwhelming majority of the lawsuits coming from a single plaintiff, Andres Gomez, who has filed hundreds of these lawsuits dating back to at least 2016. The firm representing Gomez in some of these cases, an offshoot of San Diego’s Potter Handy LLP called The Center for Disability Access, had not responded for comment by the time of publication.

It’s a common experience across different industries and regions in the United States, and the wine industry is just the most recent to face an onslaught of legal action regarding website accessibility. Specifically, to be compliant businesses must ensure that each page of their website can be readily processed by screen-reading programs or other assistive technology, photos are accompanied with text descriptions, and design features are in-line with ADA requirementsREAD MORE

Blogs Worth a Read

Taken from the list of Blogs and other media outlets I follow regularly, here are just a few posts from this past week I think are worth a read. Shoot me a note if you have suggestions of independent media to follow or want your outlet included on that list.

VinoJoy News: Douyin is building its own wine and spirits e-commerce in China

Douyin, the popular Chinese video streaming app boasting 600 million daily active users, is reportedly developing its own wine and spirits e-commerce platform, throwing its hat in the ring to capture the country’s lucrative drinks market by leveraging its live-streaming strength.

According to Chinese media reports, Douyin is building a sales team and recruiting buyers to sell wine and spirits on the app through live streaming and short videos. Its new e-commerce business will mainly sell non-Moutai Baijiu and other alcoholic drinks.

According to an unnamed person in charge of Douyin e-commerce at its parent company ByteDance, the move is to diversify wine and spirits products offered on its platform. Douyin will “make some new attempts in self-operated wine and spirits business”, the person confirmed the news to Chinese media “Tech Xingqiu” (Tech星球)READ MORE

Science & Wine: Characterization and production of agglomerated cork stoppers for spirits based on a factor analysis method

The production of agglomerated cork stoppers for the wine sector (spirits and still wines) is concentrated in several countries of Southern Europe (Spain, Portugal and Morocco), as they rely on raw material in origin to acquire the natural cork. These countries account for by 50% of the world production of cork because they host a third of the world’s oak tree surface. The Spanish cork sector produces 3 billion of stoppers annually, with 1.7 billion being used for the wine industry. The region of Andalusia (Southern Spain) is occupied by 250.000 Ha of oak tree forests and, more specifically, the province of Cádiz contains the largest Reserve of oak trees of the Iberian Peninsula (Los Alcornocales Natural Park), with about 175,000 hectares of wooded area. Half of the cork produced in Spain is extracted from this Park, with about 78,000 tons per year, an amount that is only surpassed by the neighboring country of Portugal. READ MORE

Vinography: The TTB Weighs in on ‘Clean Wine’

Call it an early Easter basket surprise for those of us who aren’t fans of denigration marketing. In its newsletter today, the Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau (TTB), who are responsible for the regulation of alcohol commerce in America, just gave a big thumbs down to those wineries who have been marketing their wares under the banner of ‘Clean Wine.’

If they come across producers using the term ‘Clean Wine,’ says the TTB, “consumers should not interpret the term as meaning that the beverage is organic or has met other production standards set by TTB.

The TTB goes on to note that sometimes producers use the word “clean” to describe a quality of taste, such as a finish that is “clean and crisp.” But that’s not what they’re worried about. READ MORE

Deborah Parker Wong: Flavor-tripping with the miracle fruit

Early humans are known to have altered their consciousness with practices that some scientists believe sparked the dawn of modern human cognition. The controversial “Stoned Ape” hypothesis suggests that our ancestors may have “eaten their way to consciousness” when they ingested the naturally occurring psychedelic known as psilocybin.

As a species, we’ve been eating and drinking to intentionally alter our states of perception ever since. For generations, the indigenous peoples of the Congo, Nigeria, and Ghana have used the fruit (and leaves) of Synsepalum dulcificum, a shrub indigenous to West and Central Africa, in ethnomedicine. The taste-altering properties of this flavorless, bright-red berry—dubbed “the miracle fruit,” it’s about the size of a coffee bean—make for a fascinating sensory experience. READ MORE

Shana Bull: Build Confidence With Creating Social Media Videos

In the past few years, we have seen the shift within the social media platforms to everyday people watching more videos on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and of course, YouTube and now TikTok. With the growth of these platforms, RIGHT NOW, one of the best ways to engage with your audience is through video content.

This is great news for those of us who want to use video marketing as a way to connect with our audience and promote our products or services!

However, creating videos for social media marketing can be a daunting task, especially if you lack confidence in getting in front of the camera and coming up with ideas to create videos on a regular basis.

Trust me – I have been here… And even though, I am feeling more confident, it’s an ongoing process and some days I feel more confident than others…

Luckily, there are some things you can do to increase your confidence and make sure that your videos are high quality, and relevant to your audience. With a bit of planning and effort, anyone can create engaging and creative videos that will help promote your products or services. READ MORE

Press Releases

These are some press releases I received this week that I actually thought were interesting…enjoy!

TTB.gov: Use of the Word ‘Clean’ in Alcohol Label and Advertising

We’ve received inquiries about the meaning of the word “clean” when used in the labeling and advertising of alcohol beverages subject to the Federal Alcohol Administration Act. TTB regulations do not define the word “clean,” and we do not have standards for the use of the term on labels or in advertisements.

Thus, consumers should not interpret the term as meaning that the beverage is organic or has met other production standards set by TTB. Instead, we review both labels and advertisements in their totality to determine if they create a misleading impression. READ MORE

wine.co.za: Strauss & Co launches Africa’s first NFT auction with SA’s leading fine wine producers

Principal South African auction house Strauss & Co has partnered with five of SA’s most respected fine wine producers to offer Africa’s first fine wine non-fungible tokens (NFT) on auction from 18-25 April. The producers are Klein Constantia EstateKanonkop EstateMeerlust EstateMullineux & Leeu Family Wines, and Vilafonté.

Capturing past, present, and future vintages, these unique digital contracts encompass vertical collections of Klein Constantia Vin de Constance, Kanonkop Paul Sauer, Meerlust Rubicon, Mullineux Olerasay and Vilafonté Series C. Each NFT holds between 20 and 50 vintages, with collections from 66 to 288 bottles.

Strauss & Co Fine Wine Auctions is a joint venture between leading fine wine merchant WineCellar.co.za, sommelier Higgo Jacobs and leading auction house, Strauss & Co. READ MORE….

BriscoeBites officially accepts samples as well as conducts on-site and online interviews. Want to have your wine, winery or tasting room featured? Please visit the Sample Policy page where you can contact me directly. Cheers!

Educational posts are in no way intended as official WSET study materials. Study at your own risk. Read the full disclaimer.
**Please note: all reviews and opinions are my own and are not associated with any of my places of business. I will always state when a wine has been sent as a sample for review. Sending samples for review on my personal website in no way guarantees coverage in any other media outlet I may be currently associated with.**

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