Hope everyone is off to a good start to their weekend. I don’t have anything specific to chat about today. Nor can I think of any kind of clever/witty/snarky comment about this week’s news round-up. So I will, for once, leave you in peace to enjoy your read-through.



Wine Enthusiast Podcast: The Grandes Dames of Champagne

Although plenty of old-world wine regions have patriarchal systems, many female leaders created and sustained some of the most prominent Champagne houses.

In this episode of the Wine Enthusiast Podcast, Assistant Digital Editor J’nai Gaither speaks with Rebecca Rosenberg, author of Champagne Widows, about the grandes dames of Champagne. LISTEN HERE

Wine-Searcher: Star winemaker Heidi Peterson Barrett walks away from Kenzo Estate over the release of the 2020 reds

Well-known winemaker Heidi Peterson Barrett has walked away from a 20-year gig as a winemaker at Napa Valley’s Kenzo Estate over a disagreement with the owners about releasing the winery’s 2020 reds.

The 2020 vintage in Napa Valley was interrupted by the Glass Fire, which burst out on September 27 and led to significant smoke over the valley for days. Most white grapes had been picked already but the fire started in the middle of Cabernet Sauvignon harvest season. Quite a few high-end wineries have chosen not to release a 2020 red wine because of fears of smoke taint. READ MORE

Pix: Women Winemakers in Crete Seek to Restore an Ancient Tradition

Images of women dominated the frescoes, jewelry, and pottery of Crete’s Minoan civilization. Some historians believe Minoans represented one of few, if any, women-centric cultures. The society also had an inextricable link to wine, both socially and economically. Today, Cretan women are following in the footsteps of the island’s ancient predecessors, helping move Crete into a new wine era.

John Younger, University of Kansas professor of classics, believes the culture on Crete around 1600 to 1500 B.C. “is the closest candidate for a matriarchy that we have,” he said in an article from 2017. “In this culture, at this time, we have an awful lot of representations of what are obviously powerful women, single-seated women flanked by a bunch of guys. We don’t have a single representation of a seated man,” he added.

As with most groups that evolved from agrarian societies, the island’s subsequent societies were patriarchies, starting with the mainland Mycenaeans, then the Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, Ottomans, and finally, the modern state of Greece. Five thousand years after the Minoans disappeared, women are back helping to restore the fame of Cretan wine. READ MORE

Wine Spectator: Wine Spectator Debuts First and Only Video Interview with Ernest Gallo on the Occasion of His 90th Birthday in 1999

Never-before-seen film features Wine Spectator editor and publisher Marvin R. Shanken’s interview with the E. & J. Gallo co-founder

More than two decades ago, Wine Spectator editor and publisher Marvin R. Shanken was granted a rare interview—the first and last of its kind—with the famously private Ernest Gallo, co-founder and chairman of what was then and continues to be among the world’s largest wine companies. The interview, at Gallo’s home in Modesto, Calif., nearly didn’t happen, and the full footage has never before been shown to the public.

Shanken explains that the long-withheld film was “a labor of love,” created as a birthday gift to Gallo, who had just turned 90 the month before the interview was filmed, on April 20, 1999. “To those that don’t really know Ernest Gallo … he was like the Henry Ford of the wine business,” Shanken said. “He helped create the American wine market of today, through his sales and marketing skills, along with Julio’s incredible winemaking skill to put out large quantities of high-quality wine at affordable prices for millions of Americans. When they started, wine was not part of the culture in America. They helped make it so.” READ MORE and WATCH HERE…

VinePair: Chronicling the Cameron’s Kick, the St. Patrick’s Day Cocktail Turned Bartender Darling

St. Patrick’s Day has always been a difficult time for the dedicated cocktail enthusiast. On one hand, it’s one of the few dates on the calendar where drinkers are granted full license to enjoy themselves. On the other hand, the imbibing going on isn’t exactly of the discriminating sort. It veers toward quantity, not quality, and rarely ventures beyond pints of beer and shots of Irish whiskey. You don’t see many March 17 revelers gathering round the local pub with a cry of, “What do you say, fellows, another round of Tipperarys? Barkeep, not so light on the vermouth this time!”

Part of the problem is a lack of options. Celebrants naturally want to partake of Irish products on St. Patrick’s Day. But there are just not that many great Irish whiskey cocktails out there that have achieved wide popularity. There’s the Irish Coffee, of course. But after that, you’re grasping at straws. Ever heard of the Black Thorn? I didn’t think so. READ MORE

Wine-Searcher: French Seize Russian-Owned Wineries

On 16 March, the regional French television station, France 3 Bourgogne-Franche-Comté wrote on its website that the cult Jura winemaker, Jean-François Ganevat of the eponymous domaine, together with Benoit Pontenier, director of Prieuré Saint-Jean de Bébian in the Languedoc, had formed a joint company to buy back the estates from the Russian Pumpyanskiy family.

The action was confirmed to France 3 by Pontenier, who also became director of Domaine Ganevat after its sale to the Pumpyanskiy family in September 2021.

Following the escalating hostilities relating to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, on March 9 the European Union imposed sanctions on the Russian oligarch, steel industry magnate Dimitry Pumpyanskiy, and his son, the Swiss-Russian national Alexander Pumpyanskiy. Along with other oligarchs Dimitry Pumpyanskiy had attended a meeting with Vladimir Putin in Moscow on February 24, when the Ukrainian invasion began. READ MORE

Pioneer Sheets: In France’s Jura region, dinosaur fossils have left a footprint on the wine industry

These weren’t just rock formations. They were dinosaur footprints.

Thibault had always been wildly passionate about dinosaurs, and he was certain that what he saw “were old tracks, … millions of years old,” he said. Although his parents dismissed his discovery as a childish fantasy, years later, the prints were verified by a scientist.

The Jura region — as in the Jurassic era — is home to the largest fossilized tracks in Plagne, in addition to others across Coisia and Loulle. On the train from Paris to Arbois, it’s easy to imagine Tyrannosaurus rex and pterodactyls in place of cows and sheep. But now, another group rules the region’s terroir: winemakers. And they are keenly aware of their antecedents. Those fossils affect their wine.

Françoise Ratte’s vines have traveled down her family for generations, after being originally cultivated by her great-grandparents. She works in various types of terroirs — the natural composition of the land in which wines are produced — each influencing the flavor profile of the final product. But in her case, we’re not just talking about limestone or clay. READ MORE

The Drinks Business: Turkey hiding ancient variety thought to be the ‘godfather of spice’

You might not find Papaskarasi on every wine list – or any wine list in the UK for that matter – but it certainly would have topped drink orders around the 5th Century, when written documentation of this variety first appeared.

Originating from Greece, the name Papaskarasi means ‘priest’ in Greek. The grape was so named because when the variety was discovered, wine was made almost exclusively by Christians, as the local Muslim communities did not make or imbibe alcohol. READ MORE

The National Herald: Greece Winemakers See China Market Blossoming Big

Getting more notice internationally, Greece’s wine industry wants to export some of the world’s best varieties to China, seeing a growing market there as ties between the countries tighten.

Some 250 wineries from all regions of Greece presented about 3,000 wines of all types at the just-concluded Oenorama 2022, the largest exhibition of Greek wines in the world, noted China’s state-run Xinhua news agency.

While Greek businesses have been slow to market themselves, often ceding business to other countries, Greek wines have picked up notice from major media reviews discovering how good they are, with ancient roots. READ MORE

Pix: How Did a $5 South African Wine End Up Selling for Thousands?

Late last year, a $5 bottle of South African wine was auctioned off for roughly $6,000. Tucked away in the gap between those two numbers is a story of hidden treasure and a powerful forgotten heritage.

The Chateau Libertas wine brand is a household name in South Africa. But it’s the sort of household name that lives alongside Two Buck Chuck or Chuck E. Cheese. It’s a bottom-shelf supermarket bottle, surrounded by a gaggle of $5 critter wines.

But in 2018, a small club of winemakers called the Whole Bunch set up a wine tasting that showed the beleaguered brand in a whole new light. It was a tasting that served as a Judgment of Paris moment, turning ideas about South African wine on its head. READ MORE

VinePair: Why the Best Bars in the Country Are Recruiting From Fast-Food Restaurants

Bryan Schneider, corporate beverage director for Quality Branded Restaurants, was waiting in line at Chipotle Mexican Grill one day this winter when he couldn’t help but notice the skill of one particular employee behind the counter making everyone’s barbacoa burritos and Sofritas bowls.

“[He was] multitasking multiple orders while simultaneously engaging with guests and organizing mise en place,” says Schneider, using the French term for how professional kitchens and bars prepare and arrange their ingredients. “It reminded me of how a very fast cocktail bartender handles a stressful workflow, but is still able to keep their cool enough to welcome and engage with guests.”

Schneider’s observation was astute. In fact, in this era in which fast-food employees continue to fight for unionization and increases in their often meager wages while the bar and restaurant industry struggles to find able staff, many former burger flippers, sandwich artists, and burrito rollers have gladly jumped from the daytime rush to nighttime mixology. READ MORE

Wine Spectator: Sole of the Earth: Recycled Corks Find New Life in New Shoes

Sustainable footwear company launches shoe with a sole made from recycled wine corks

Anyone who’s ever tired of their decorative basket or wine carafe overflowing with used wine corks has asked themselves the same question: What should we do with those used corks? And if you’ve already taken the step of donating them to a recycler such as ReCork, the fruits of your generosity are afoot …

Canadian footwear brand Sole is releasing a limited-edition shoe, in collaboration with apparel company United by Blue (UBB), made entirely from upcycled waste and post-consumer recycled materials, including recycled wine corks in its midsole. “We’re trying to change the narrative around footwear,” said Alex Cronje, impact marketing specialist for Sole, citing the footwear industry’s reliance on chemical compounds. READ MORE

Tasting Table: French Laundry Founder And Chef Sally Schmitt Has Died

Sally Schmitt, who is hailed by those in the know as a visionary chef and pioneer of California cuisine, died at the age of 90 at her home in Philo, California, per The New York Times. While many associate Napa Valley’s famed Michelin-starred restaurant The French Laundry with celebrity chef Thomas Keller, the restaurant wouldn’t exist as it is without its predecessor, the original French Laundry, which was first opened by Schmitt with her husband Don in 1978. READ MORE

Wine Enthusiast: More Than a Pairing, Pizza Wine is a State of Mind

Pizza is the rare dish you can serve to a group of discerning adults or ravenous children, and eat alone on your couch at midnight or while standing in front of the fridge at 8 am.; and somehow, everyone always ends up happy.

That far-reaching appeal, plus the diversity of a category that spans cracker-thin Roman crusts to buoyant Chicago deep dish, makes it difficult to pin down definitive advice on the best wine with pizza. Do you pair wine with pizza sauce and toppings, as you would a plate of pasta? What if you’ve ordered a half-and-half pie with two very different toppings, or are sharing multiple pizzas with a group? Should you go for Italian wine as a nod to pizza’s origins, even if your preferred pie features tropical pineapples and American-supermarket-style baked ham? READ MORE

Napa Valley Register: Meet the women spearheading the effort to restore the Court of Master Sommeliers’ reputation

After multiple years of sexual harassment and testing scandals, the Court of Master Sommeliers are trying a new approach to repair the organization’s reputation. In an attempt to restore the group’s stated values of integrity and transparency, the Court has brought in third-party investigators, reorganized its board of directors, and brought new and familiar faces to the organization. One of these key players is Emily Wines, who had previously served on the Court’s board between 2013 and 2015, and was a founding member of the group’s Diversity Committee.

“In the past few years, we have had a couple things that are really scandalous for the court, which as opposed to looking at that as a reason to step away from the organization, I looked at it as an opportunity to make some big change,” said Wines. “It was really important to me that the organization was something that was a service to the profession and the sommelier community … So, I came back onto the board of directors at the end of 2020.” READ MORE

Press Democrat: Russian lawmaker’s demand for return of Fort Ross raises old questions about park’s funding

The remark came from a high-profile Russian lawmaker on state television earlier this week. His proposal: Russia should demand the return of Fort Ross, its former southern outpost in North America, along with all of Alaska.

And he signaled Russia ought to make the demand of the United States under threat of using nuclear weapons. READ MORE

Press Democrat: Sonoma County gets light rain, with more on the way

Sonoma County could be in for more wet weather in the coming days, following a weak storm system that brought light rain to parts of the North Bay on Monday night, according to the National Weather Service.

Meteorologists are anticipating the next arrival of rain Friday night.

“This will definitely be one of the wetter storms we’ve seen so far in 2022,“ said weather service meteorologist Brooke Bingaman, noting that it’s been an unusually dry year so far.

The incoming storm, which is expected to dump most of its moisture on Saturday, will spread across the entirety of the Bay Area, according to Bingaman. READ MORE

Eater: Here Are the 2022 James Beard Awards Restaurant and Chef Finalists

The James Beard Foundation announced its slate of finalists for its 2022 awards. This short list of nominees honors the year’s outstanding restaurants and chefs — the first such list since 2020. In addition to the list of Restaurant and Chef Award finalists, the foundation announced chef and TV host Martin Yan as the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award and Grace Young as the winner of its Humanitarian of the Year Award for her work supporting Chinatowns and Asian American-owned small businesses. They also announced four Leadership Award winners — Monica Ramirez of Justice for Migrant Women; Irene Li of Mei Mei Dumplings and Prepshift; Erika Allen of Urban Growers Collective; and Mavis-Jay Sanders of Drive Change. The worker-led, Oakland-based restaurant Understory took home the Emerging Leadership award. They join the already-announced America’s Classics winners for 2022, which were revealed in February. 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.

Jancis Robinson: Direct to America

Wine producers the world over have long coveted America’s growing consumer base of wine drinkers. But wanting access to the American market and successfully selling into it are two entirely different things. The United States has historically not made it easy (or cheap) for international producers to sell their wares to its citizens. Nonetheless, international producers have continued to explore many different ways to bring their products to American wine drinkers. And just like domestic producers, both the pandemic and recent trends in distributor consolidation have them taking a close look at the idea of selling directly to US consumers.

Of course, literally shipping wine to an American consumer from a winery in Europe or South America is against the law. There are customs duties to be paid, licences to possess, and different laws in every state about how wine can be sold, transported and delivered into the hands of the waiting customer. READ MORE

Science & Wine: HEKTOR – Heterogeneous autonomous robotic system in viticulture and mariculture

HEKTOR deals with the development of a heterogeneous robotic system for viticulture and aquaculture. The main goal of the HEKTOR project is to develop a systematic solution for the coordination of smart heterogeneous (marine, terrestrial and aerial) robots/vehicles that can autonomously cooperate and share tasks in an open, unstructured or semi-structured space. HEKTOR is designed as a modular and autonomous system tailored to different missions in the viticulture and mariculture domains, with the possibility of human intervention in different work, inspection and intervention tasks. The integration of the HEKTOR system is realised through a ROS middleware. READ MORE

Eric Asimov: 12 Wines From Argentina and Chile to Seek Out

For many years I rarely found an emotional connection to South American wines.

Not because they were bad. Malbec from Argentina has been so popular that it’s become almost a brand name, while Chile can be counted on for sound, moderately priced wines and high-end bottles of polish and gloss.

The wines seemed generic to me, well-made but rarely distinctive. I felt as if they were being shaped by the perceived desires of the market rather than offering their own distinctive characters. READ MORE

Jancis Robinson: Low intervention reaches New Zealand

When I boarded the plane for Aotearoa New Zealand in 2017, I suspected there was more to the country than Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. But, like many others, if you’d asked me to name a low-intervention New Zealand wine producer, I wouldn’t have been able to do so. (Like many winemakers, I too shy away from calling such wines ‘natural’.)

The movement was already in full swing in countries like Australia and the US, where winemakers were bucking convention left and right, but New Zealand was conspicuously absent from this movement (as Jancis noted in The newer Zealand in 2017). Several attributed the lack of experimental wine styles to New Zealand’s slightly conservative culture and, like many, I accepted this at face value.

That was until I arrived in Auckland. READ MORE

VinoJoy News: Oldest centenarian vines discovered in China’s Ningxia

Ningxia has discovered what could be the region’s oldest vines of more than 100 years old in Chateau Hedong, making them one of the oldest surviving vines and early evidence of Helan mountain’s wine history.

Altogether over 220 centenarian vines from Chateau Hedong are identified by experts and have been listed as protected cultural sites by Shizuishan city of northwestern China’s Ningxia.

It is reportedly the first-ever vineyard to be listed as a culturally protected unit in the city and Ningxia, the premier wine region of China. READ MORE

GuildSomm: Emerging Wine Regions: Michigan & Southwest USA

In this episode, we continue our Emerging Wine Regions series and explore several states producing wines off the beaten path in the United States. First,  interviews Master Sommelier  about the wines produced across Michigan. Madeline is famously the first American woman to pass the Master Sommelier exam, and has witnessed the Michigan wine industry develop since she began her career in the 1970s in Detroit. Then, Chris speaks with , wine journalist and author of The Wines of Southwest U.S.A., about the exciting and unexpected wines being grown in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado.

Blind tasting guest  reveals the wine she and  tasted on the Rum podcast episode. Stay tuned for another blind tasting feature in a bonus episode coming soon. LISTEN HERE

Shana Bull: Social Media Marketing World Trends

I could write paragraphs about my experience attending a conference for the first time in two years since Covid, and also my first post-cancer treatments (good old side effects definitely made this a different experience).

But I won’t…

Instead, I will just say that networking fills my soul, and I am so excited to use some of these takeaways I learned from Social Media Marketing World.


A lot of these social media trends are from different sessions that were mentioned noticing throughout #SMMW22 … READ MORE

Press Releases

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

UC Santa Cruz: Chemical Analysis Reveals Effects of Wildfire Smoke on Grapes and Wines

As wildfire season in the West grows in length and severity, it is taking a toll on the wine industry through the effects of wildfire smoke on the quality of wine grapes. Volatile compounds in the smoke from wildfires can be absorbed by grapes and produce an unpleasant taste known as “smoke taint” in wines made from affected grapes.

A new study led by scientists at UC Santa Cruz provides valuable data and guidelines for using analytical chemistry to identify grapes and wines affected by smoke taint. Published March 3 in the Journal of Natural Products, the study is based on an analysis of more than 200 samples of grapes and wine from 21 grape-growing regions in California and Oregon.

Lead author Phil Crews, a distinguished research professor of chemistry at UC Santa Cruz, is also a winemaker and owner of a small winery (Pelican Ranch Winery). READ MORE

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Educational posts are in no way intended as official WSET study materials. I am not an official WSET educator nor do I work for a WSET Approved Program Provider. 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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