Welcome back. I bring to you another round up of this week’s interesting wine-news find. There’s a lot—a lot. So take your time, enjoy, and remember:



New York Times: Weed Drinks Are a Buzzy Alcohol Substitute. But Are They Safe?

The mid-2010s were an era of ready-to-drink cocktails, which were eclipsed in more recent years by hard seltzers, those fruit-flavored fizzes perfect for barbecues and beaches. Now, weed drinks may be having their moment.

With recreational marijuana becoming legal in several states, cannabis-infused mocktails, seltzers and alcohol-free wines are hitting the market, often sold as a shortcut to a healthier high. These drinks are not the beverages that contain small doses of CBD, a compound found in marijuana and hemp that doesn’t get you high, which have been trendy for the last decade. Marijuana drinks are made with THC, the intoxicating substance in cannabis, and customers seem willing to try them. But doctors and cannabis researchers said marijuana beverages come with their own set of risks, and a long list of questions. READ MORE…

Wine & Spirits: Gone Tomorrow

Will Contra Costa’s Centenarian Vines Survive?

Right now, if you open Google Maps and run a satellite search on Oakley Road just east of Live Oak Avenue in the Contra Costa County town of Oakley, California, you’ll notice a modest rectangle composed of little green dots set within a tawny plot of ground, flanked on three sides by tract housing.

Once upon a time, these were the head-trained vines of Salvador Vineyard, home to carignane, zinfandel and mataro. They were planted in 1896 on a berm of deep sand, less than two miles from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. According to Tegan Passalacqua, winemaker at Turley and Sandlands, the vineyard was considered one of the finest in the area. Unfortunately, the vines were ripped out last year, replaced by a housing development now nearing completion. As sometimes happens with satellite images, the old photo has lagged: Like ghosts from the past, the vines remain, now overlain by a rendering of Kenwood Circle, the road that will access the new houses. Without any apparent regard for irony, the developer, Meritage Homes, is calling the property “The Vines.” READ MORE…

Vogue UK: Has Everyone Stopped Drinking?

Has everyone stopped drinking? It certainly feels that way. Over the last year, dozens of my former cocktailers-in-arms have leaped onto the wagon for insufferably sensible aims like preserving their marriages or their health – or at least for an extended annual reset in Dry January or Sober October. Chefs like David McMillan and Sean Brock, formerly of Joe Beef and Husk, respectively, and once known for their debauchery, have repudiated booze. Models and actors like Bella Hadid and Kate Moss and Katy Perry and Naomi Campbell and Brad Pitt have all thrown in the bar towel. And the non­drinkers aren’t sitting at home moping. There are suddenly chic little alcohol-​free bars to go to, like Getaway in Greenpoint, Brooklyn; Gem Bar in Pitman, New Jersey; Sans Bar in Austin, Texas; the Virgin Mary, in Dublin (of all places). And there are apparently enough nonalcoholic wines and beers and spirits to make quitting seem like a reasonable proposition. Data company Nielsen claims that the low- and no-alcohol beverage sector has grown by 506 per cent since 2015.

I’ve decided to take my own spot on the sober bandwagon, for a few weeks, anyway. It’s not (just) peer pressure: I’m motivated by irrefutable facts. Drinking has been linked to liver disease, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, stroke, dementia, anxiety, depression and premature ageing. Some 61 million Americans report binge drinking at least once in a month. Alcohol abuse is seven times more common than the abuse of painkillers. I ask addiction specialist Adam Leventhal, director of the Institute for Addiction Science at USC, where he places alcohol on a list of substances of concern, and he suppresses a laugh. “Number one!” Mon Dieu. READ MORE…

The Conversation: ‘Oh well, wine o’clock’: what midlife women told us about drinking—and why it’s so hard to stop

Many of us enjoy a drink at the end of a stressful day. But for some, this is less of a discretionary treat and more of a nightly must-have.

While alcohol reduction campaigns ask us to check our relationship with alcohol, emphasising the role it can play in causing violence and disease, our research has found many Australian women view alcohol in a different way. Many don’t see alcohol as only a bad thing and have complex reasons for their relationships with alcohol.

We conducted 50 interviews with midlife women (45–64 years of age) from different social classes living in South Australia. All women had a relationship with alcohol but the nature of the relationship was really different according to their social class.

Our study, published today in the journal Health Promotion International, suggests the problem for public health lies in the circumstances that shape women’s lives and lead to a relationship with alcohol. READ MORE…

SF Chronicle: ‘Wine tech is a graveyard of failure’—Napa startup lays off almost entire staff

A year ago, a startup launched in Napa that promised to revolutionize online wine sales. It boasted an all-star staff of industry veterans and soon announced partnerships with some of the most reputable wine companies in the world.

Last week, in a startling reversal, the startup, Pix, laid off the majority of its staff. It had failed to raise sufficient funding to continue operating. “We just didn’t have enough runway,” said CEO Paul Mabray. He’s now looking for a buyer. READ MORE…

Business Insurance: EEOC files sexual harassment, retaliation suit against Justin Vineyards & Winery LLC and its parent company, The Wonderful Co. LLC

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit on Thursday against a California winery and its parent company.

The EEOC filed suit against Paso Robles, California-based Justin Vineyards & Winery LLC and its parent company, The Wonderful Co. LLC, based in Los Angeles, in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, charging they had allowed female employees to be subjected to sexual harassment, according to the lawsuit in U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Justin Vineyards & Winery LLC, The Wonderful Co. LLC, and Does 1-10, inclusive. READ MORE…

Eater: How to Cook a Direwolf

By recreating dishes from popular media like “Game of Thrones,” “The Lord of the Rings,” and “Twin Peaks,” the chef Iliana Regan didn’t just turn fine dining on its head at her restaurant Elizabeth — she cooked fanfiction

The first time I went to a Game of Thrones dinner at the restaurant Elizabeth, the room was decked out in banners bearing ancestral sigils, while dozens of vinyl figurines were stuffed into every possible gap and onto every ledge. It was April 2017, a seventh season of the show would air in a couple of months, and a friend had come to Chicago to attend this dinner with me, not because we loved Game of Thrones — neither of us had watched for years at that point — but because the idea of a fannish dinner was exciting.

Before each of 10 courses, the staff explained the source or inspiration for everything that was served. We had the “black bread” that is mentioned repeatedly in the novels the TV series is based on. (This version was dyed with squid ink.) It was served with accompaniments, one of which was an asparagus relish; at another table, the server was explaining how he’d seen the chef arranging the asparagus on her bread like dragon scales while testing out the recipe. READ MORE…

Eric Asimov: Four Ways to Think About Wine

Drinking is thinking. That is, the way you think about wine affects what you choose to drink and how you generally approach wine.

To give wine any thought at all is optional. Many people see it simply as a means to an end, whether a weekend pleasure, a social lubricant or an alcohol delivery system. As with orange juice or diet cola, in their minds, it’s not worth much reflection beyond selecting a favorite brand.

But if you find wine intriguing, and would like to choose and drink better bottles, one of the easiest and most direct methods is to adjust your mind-set. Here are four ideas that will make wine a deeper and richer experience. READ MORE….

Wine-Searcher: Bordeaux’s Contentious Classification Strikes Again

The Right Bank’s beloved Merlot-based wines from Bordeaux have not always had the historical respect that that the Left Bank’s Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated wines havereceived.

The prestigious Médoc Left Bank appellation was classified into five growths in 1855. Since then, there has been very little movement with the exception of Château Mouton Rothschild negotiating itself into top growth status in 1973.

Saint-Émilion was classified in 1955 – a relative hot minute ago – and has retained, what continues to be widely regarded as, a confusing A and B rating system among its producers. The region gets reevaluated every decade and the most recent shuffle – during which Angélus and Pavie were promoted from Premier Grand Cru Classé B to A status in 2012 – clearly left a certain level of confusion among importers, retailers and their customers. The next evaluation of the region’s wines is slated to take place in September. READ MORE…

The Drink’s Business: Pinot Noir given go ahead in two AOCs in Alsace

Pinot Noir can now be included as part of the AOC Alsace Grand Crus in two territories –  a long awaited move for a grape variety that has perhaps been overlooked in the region.

France’s appellation body, the National Institute of origin and quality (INAO) had formally approved the addition of Pinot Noir to the list of varieties that are permitted in Grand Cru Kirchberg de Barr (Barr, Bas-Rhin) and Grand Cru Hengst (Wintzenheim, Haut-Rhin). The  move officially ratifies Pinot Noir Grand Crus from these two prestigious terroirs for the 2022 vintage.

The amendment noted that vines intended for the production of red wines in Alsace grand cru Hengst should have a density minimum plantation of 5,500 vines per hectare, with vines in Alsace grand cru Kirchberg de Barr having a minimum planting density of 5,000 vines per hectare and an average maximum yield of 7,000 kg per hectare. READ MORE…

Travel + Leisure: This French Region Is the Wine World’s Best-kept Secret

As we drove along the Route de Trousseau, which is named for a wine grape that originated in Jura, my guide Loïc Lamy said, “You know, there’s also a Route de Poulsard in the next town over.” Another grape. As he spoke, we flashed by a bus shelter where someone had spray-painted SAVAGNIN POWER! next to a raised fist, celebrating yet another wine grape. Behind the bus shelter lay vineyards, russet and gold under the gunmetal-gray November skies. Never let it be said that the residents of Jura don’t know what matters.

Jura is not exactly a forgotten corner of France, but it’s close: of the roughly 89 million people who visit the country each year, only a minuscule fraction find their way here. As a result, in a world where almost nowhere feels untouched anymore, this tiny slice of eastern France truly does. Tucked between Burgundy and Switzerland, it’s a patchwork of vineyards, rolling hills, and farmland. On its eastern border, the land gradually rises into waterfall-strewn outcrops and crags, bucolic and dramatic all at once. READ MORE…

Meininger’s Wine Business International: Ireland Rocks European Boat With Proposed New Alcohol Warning Labels

The draft warnings are in line with the obligations Ireland imposed on itself with its 2019 Public Health Alcohol Act. Specifically, this requires all alcoholic beverages sold in Ireland to carry two key health warnings. The proposed wording is as follows: “Drinking alcohol causes liver disease” and “There is a direct link between alcohol and fatal cancers.”

Unsurprisingly, this strong approach has led to similarly strong reactions from European wine bodies. Leading the pack has been the German Winegrowers’ Association (DWV) which, in agreement with all European umbrella organizations, has raised a number of issues. READ MORE…

The Drink’s Business: 10 of the best wine stays around the world

Wine tourism is growing in popularity across the globe, particularly as travel becomes possible once again. For those eager to escape the office for some far-flung vineyard, here are 10 destinations to stay from all four corners of the wine world. READ MORE…

Wine-Searcher: Pocket Peak Aims to Top Alexander Valley

Alexander Valley has a good reputation as a source of Cabernet Sauvignon. But, at a certain price range, “good” isn’t good enough.

Thus there’s a petition to create a sub-AVA called Pocket Peak on file with the federal TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.) The TTB has already accepted the petition; it doesn’t have to grant the AVA, but there’s no reason to think that it won’t. Pocket Peak is completely within the existing Alexander Valley AVA. READ MORE…

Food & Wine: 12 Easy Cocktail and Drink Recipes for Low-Key Sipping 

Want to make a drink but don’t feel like putting in a ton of effort? These recipes are here for you. Most of them are ready in just 5 minutes — or 10, at the most — and almost all of them come together in one step. Cocktails like the Dirty Shirley are as easy as it gets, combining three ingredients with ice in a highball glass and adding a maraschino cherry for flair; classics like the Gin & Tonic are equally low-lift. We’ve also included recipes here that use Campari, rum, tequila, vermouth, and more so you can work with whatever you have in your bar cart. READ MORE…

SF Chronicle: It’s impossible to tell how California’s wine harvest is going

It’s that special time of year in Wine Country: harvest. Grapes are getting ripe, crews are picking them off the vines, and all that juice inside the tanks is beginning to ferment.

But ask any two winemakers how it’s going, and you may get vastly different answers. READ 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.

Dame Wine: The First Chilean Wine Producer To Score 100 Points Releases Over Decade Old Back Vintage

The pounding of his heartbeat was the only thing he could hear as he surveyed the traditional European room accented with crystal chandeliers. For this adventurer who had climbed one of the highest peaks in the Southern Hemisphere, this was the biggest and most thrilling challenge he had ever faced. But as some of the most well-known European wine tasters started to finish up their blind tasting, that tremendous adrenaline rush subsided and an overwhelming panic overtook the adventurous man. Doubt began to creep in and he wondered if he had made the biggest mistake of his life, that would not only affect the image of his wines, but all of the wines produced in Chile.

Eduardo Chadwick, multi-generational Chilean vineyard owner and wine producer, had gathered some of the most prestigious wine professionals in Europe to conduct a blind tasting inspired by the Judgment of Paris blind tasting back in the 1970s, that first brought Napa Valley wines to international fame; but this time it would be Chilean fine wines against some of the top Bordeaux and Super Tuscan wines at an event called the Berlin Tasting, as it took place in Berlin, Germany. READ MORE…

Tablas Creek: What we’ve learned about making box wine, six months and three colors later

Back in February, I published a blog that created a bit of a stir. In it, I made the case that boxes of wine (the cardboard kind normally found on grocery store shelves, not the wooden kind found in fancy cellars) deserved another look from higher-end producers. It had become stigmatized in the market, the container for what people assumed would be cheap plonk. But I asserted that there were compelling reasons to shift certain wines into boxes, most notably that it offered advantages in preservation (it can last weeks in your fridge after being opened), storage space (glass bottles are bulky, and the packaging needed to cushion them takes up yet more space), and portability (a full 3L bag-in-box weighs seven pounds while the same volume in bottles weighs eleven). Plus, and probably most importantly, because glass bottles are heavy and require lots of energy to melt and mold, a 3L wine bag-in-box offers an 84% carbon footprint reduction vs. the four glass bottles that would contain the same wine.

The blog got 54 comments, more than any other we’ve ever published. It spurred stories in Wine SearcherForbes, and even the Robb Report. I was invited to speak about the decision at the WiVi tradeshow and on the XChateau Podcast. More recently, the New York Times published an article in which wine columnist Eric Asimov pointed to our experiments with the wine boxes as a productive step forward for wine producers grappling with the environmental impact of our default package. The initial batch of 324 boxes of our Patelin de Tablas Rosé sold out four hours after we announced their release in an email to our wine club and mailing list. We made more (522 boxes) of the Patelin de Tablas Blanc in June, and despite releasing them in a much less shipping-friendly season sold them out in less than a month. This week, we put our first red into box, the 2021 Patelin de Tablas. We’re planning to release it soon, and I expect it to go fast. READ MORE…

Jancis Robinson: California wine, without boundaries

With wildfires, drought, spring frost and lower yields, it has been a hard several years for the West Coast wine industry. In addition, the pandemic created a smaller labour force and continuing supply-chain issues, and, as if that isn’t enough, economic woes mean numerous vineyards have sold their businesses, cutting off smaller producers from their fruit supply for winemaking.

Though challenging, this onslaught of trials has forced the wine industry to rethink some of its most long-standing norms, sometimes to the benefit of the experimental wine drinker. This includes the increase of non-vintage blends at small scale and multi-regional varietal wines, both trends which have begun to appear throughout the West Coast.

Enter Napa-based Hardy Wallace and Kate Graham. In fall of 2021, they launched their new wine projectExtradimensional Wine Co Yeah! (EWCY! – the exclamation point is part of the winery’s name), and are making not only multi-regional, but also atypical, blends.

Prior to EWCY! Wallace was known for his highly popular Dirty & Rowdy (D&R) wines primarily focused on single-vineyard Mourvèdre, with a few skin-contact whites such as Sémillon and Chenin Blanc. Dirty & Rowdy was co-owned with friend Matt Richardson, but the brand dissolved shortly before the married duo Wallace and Graham separately launched their new label. READ MORE…

Shana Bull: Top California Wineries Using Instagram Reels To Share Short-Form Videos

Since I wrote an article for the North Bay Business Journal about the one winery I know of that is utilizing TikTok to connect with their audience (Tank Garage Winery in Calistoga), I wanted to see which wineries use Instagram Reels instead—and there are a few. Some wineries have really stepped up their social media game in the last few years, and Reels are a great way to connect with potential customers.

While wineries have traditionally used traditional marketing techniques to reach their target audiences, with social media videos on the rise, many are using short-form videos on Instagram (and potentially TikTok) to connect with potential customers.

I have written about some of my must-visit wineries based on their Instagram photos (and I have no shame in this), Instagram-Worthy Sonoma Wineries + Napa Wineries for Instagram, as well as some of my favorite California wineries that use Instagram well as a whole (this was written before Instagram Reels were even a thing).

It’s time to create an updated list based on wineries using Instagram’s newest feature (that list is 1.5 years old, as of now) – Instagram Reels, which uses short-form videos to connect with their audiences.

And I’ll be honest with you—this was a hard list to create. READ MORE…

Grape Collective: Indigené Cellars: It’s All About Giving Back – and Amphoras

We were at a large tasting hosted by the Association of African American Vintners in Oakland a few months ago when John sampled a Grenache Blanc, a variety we generally consider more solid than exciting. This was an exception. It had a combination of generous fruit, tropical life and an earthy roundness that made it complex and delicious. When John said all of this, the man who poured it smiled and said: “That’s good to hear because otherwise I wasted a whole lot of money on terra cotta pots.”

John rushed to get Dottie to taste the wine. Then we vowed we’d find out more about this man and his wine.

The man is Raymond Smith, owner of Indigené Cellars, with a winery in Carmel Valley and a tasting room in Paso Robles. It turns out he has a story quite unlike any other we’ve heard over the years, featuring bottling lines, the value of mentors and even a soul food supper club for at-risk youth in San Francisco.

And many amphoras. READ MORE…

Jancis Robinson: MW blues

For someone who played so little cricket when young, it is amazing how often I find it parallels every facet of life. If you are not a fan of whites and red leather, bear with me; if you are, well, you already know, cricket is the mirror image of everything in life. Every moment of ebb and flow. Everything.

A little over two weeks ago Samantha Cole-Johnson and I both sat the S1A exams, the first part of our quest to join the ranks of Masters of Wine. Sam in Napa, me in London. Two years in, I still can barely write those two precious initials in any context at all; it just seems an act of hopeless presumption.

So how did it go? To continue the cricket analogy, it feels like I just got thumped full on the pads, plum in front. My question and hopes remain. Did I get any wood on it? Will the finger go up or stay down? For that I have to wait until 26 September when judgement will be made public. READ MORE…

Press Releases

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

Murphy-Goode Winery: Murphy-Goode Winery Selects Lauren Neil and Roosevelt Johnson for “A Really Goode Job”

Murphy-Goode, the Sonoma County winery that launched the “A Really Goode Job” nationwide job search in April 2022, is pleased to announce that Lauren Neil of Reno, Nevada and Roosevelt Johnson of Tucson, Arizona are selected as winners of A Really Goode Job. They will begin their dream job journeys in late September 2022, shadowing winemaker Dave Ready, Jr. before moving into roles that align with their respective interests and expertise. Each will have a $10,000 salary per month, live rent-free in Healdsburg for a year, and will enjoy a year’s supply of Murphy-Goode wine.

“I could not be more thrilled to bring Lauren and Roosevelt on board at Murphy-Goode,” said winemaker Dave Ready, Jr. “Roosevelt applied last year and while we didn’t hire him in 2021, he took some time to continue building his knowledge base in wine and came back as an even stronger candidate. Lauren is incredibly personable, has a thirst for knowledge in wine growing, and brings a great background in sales. What’s interesting is that we can see them both in a variety of roles within the industry, which will make their journey over the next year that much more exciting.” READ MORE…

WOSA: SA Wine Harvest Report 2022—Smaller Wine Grape Crop Packs a Punch

South Africa’s 2022 vintage will wow consumers with exceptional quality wines, albeit from a somewhat smaller grape crop than in 2021. This according to the annual South African Wine Harvest Report.

“A cool season and moderate weather conditions in most regions during harvest time slowed down ripening, which gave vines the opportunity to develop stunning flavour and colour in this year’s wine grape crop,” says Conrad Schutte, consultation service manager of the wine industry body, Vinpro. Harvest time was delayed on average by 10 to 14 days.

The 2022 wine grape crop is estimated at 1 378 737 tonnes, according to an estimate of industry body SAWIS (South African Wine Industry Information & Systems) on 25 May 2022. It is 5.5% smaller than the 2021 crop, but still larger than the five-year average of 1 346 024 tonnes.

DOWNLOAD THE SA Wine Harvest Report 2022

The smaller wine grape crop can be attributed to a decline in the overall vineyard area due to the uprooting of vineyards, disease pressure caused by untimely rainfall just before or during harvest time, and isolated cases of sunburn as a result of heatwaves in certain regions. READ MORE…


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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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