Taking my #wine kung fu to the next level: #WSET II & Napa Valley Wine Academy

October 10, 2015

406064_562298363799327_175257724_nI have been immersing myself in the study of #wine in a semi-systematic manner for much of the last 8 years.  Indeed, #Vinopanion‘s 8 year anniversary with @WineLog is approaching in the middle of this month. Yet I have slowly realized that something is lacking in my devotion to the knowledge of the vinous delights: focus, structure and external credibility. You’d think that a trained scientist would have recognized this long ago and I did notice these thoughts in the back of my mind a few years back.  But they were always battered back by “where’s the time?” and “I’m still receiving plenty of media travel & event invites,” along with “my wine consulting services continue to expand.” Then I reached last year and I started to recognize some clear patterns in my wine work. While I had plenty of media opportunities and my fellow wine colleagues were continuing to get work, I could see that the pace of my own trade offers beginning to slow down. It was then that I noticed that most of my colleagues began to sport letters after their names on their business cards: they were taking certified educational courses to formalize their wine training. I needed to set up my wine game. It was then that I contacted the good people at Napa Valley Wine Academy (FB, Tw): “help!”

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A tasty stay at Lula Cellars: Mendocino & Anderson Valley #wine

April 14, 2015

It’s funny how life can connect the dots sometimes, leading to a lovely and serendipitous experience.  This was one of those times (or extended weekends, for that matter). Late last year I was contacted about a possible media stay at the rustic estate of a fine pinot producer in the Anderson Valley AVAMendocino County (WLFBTw) is one of the coolest wine regions in California (if not the coolest), and also happens to be where I married the Lady (Tw) almost 15 years ago. Courtesy of Chalkboard Communications and the hospitality of Jeff Hansen and Dan Reed, we were able to both stay at and visit this region for the first time in 15 years, and taste through the very impressive wines from Jeff and Lula Cellars (WLFB).  Yum! Philo is a *very* small town (Pop: 349), tucked along CA-128 about 30 miles from SE of the seaside village of Mendocino.  It also happens to be the heart of the ANderson Valley and Mendocino County wine regions, with over 20 wineries and wine tasting rooms in extremely close proximity to “downtown”.

The full recap, after the leap!

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#NapaQuake: A harvest of recovery

September 11, 2014

Over two weeks have passed since a significant earthquake hit Napa and the surrounding cities, at 3:20am Sunday morning 08/24/14. Named the South Napa earthquake by USGS, the 6.0 quake hit Napa particularly hard, despite what could be considered a quake of intermediate intensity.  Due to the east-west nature of the quake movement, “river valley sediments,” and the fact that the rupture “propagated NNW” in direction, the bulk of the quake’s energy was sent “NNW towards Napa,” according to USGS scientists.  All of these factors resulted in very significant damage that was almost entirely localized to the city of Napa, especially to its historic downtown and to the southwest neighborhood of Browns Valley, my childhood neighborhood and still where my parents reside (ShakeMap copyright USGS).  The Lady and I live about 1 mile NE of Browns Valley, on aforementioned river valley sediment/silt, in fact. It is for these reasons that it can be hard for even other Bay Area residents to understand just how much this earthquake has affected our dear valley. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of this natural disaster is that has hit in the middle of an early harvest, so the Valley must recover while still going through its annual vinous renewal.

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Kia Ora está en La Mar

June 2, 2011

Nobilo - Marlborough SoundsOK, so they don’t speak Spanish in New Zealand…they speak Kiwi English. I know this, but based on my love of Spanish food and my experiences along the coasts of both Spain and Portugal (diff language, I know!) last Summer, they might as well speak that Romantic language, what with the bright, quality wine that they put out with each vintage. Seafood is the phenom pairing for the vast majority of these wines and I’m happy to throw them together on the regular.

Now clearly, I’ve always been a fan of NZ wines, so let’s just get that experiential bias right out in the open. So when I heard that would soon be a winemaker dinner that not only paired some classic NZ winemakers alongside some fervent wine bloggers, but also some extremely tasty Peruvian seafood with said winemakers’ wines…I said [frak] yeah, I’ll come!

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Pops & Son Wine Trip 6: The Mountains of Murphys

March 21, 2011

Dad caught the Frickin' at Twisted Oak! - PSWT6This was a trip so epic, that it took a year to digest and to prepare the story-telling…that’s the story I’m stickin’ to anyway! Pops & I have taken many a wine trip together over the years, this was the sixth, in fact. Each one has been in a different appellation or sub-appellation around NorCal. Following my pre-WBC09 Twisted Murphys visit with some other vinopanions in crime, I decided that Pops and I needed to definitely take over Murphys and its Calaveras County wine country for our upcoming trip later that year.

I spoke a lot in that earlier Murphys post about the exciting, up and coming aspects of the Calaveras County wine region and how it has already reached at least the wine crafting quality of it’s larger and surrounding appellation of the Sierra Foothills and is coming into its own as a true wine destination. Murphys, the historic Gold Rush and logging town, has completely reinvented itself as a more boutique, yet still nicely rustic wine and food mecca, tucked underneath the stunning Sierras and Calaveras Bigtree National Forest. Pops and I decided that we needed to dig a bit deeper this time and really get to know this comfortable piece of wilder wine country.

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Jordan Winery: A 2010 Harvest Estate Stay

October 27, 2010

DSC06300Two weekends back, the Lady and I had the very fortunate experience of a tour, a tasting and an overnight stay at the breath-snatching estate of Jordan Vineyard & Winery (Twitter, WineLog) in Alexander Valley. Blessed with a perfect harvest weekend of weather, we we able to visit courtesy of Communications Director (and photographer/videographer extraordinaire) Lisa Mattson. After dropping off the Pug with the parents in Napa, we headed across the valleys in the brilliant morning sunshine. The weather really was tremendous that weekend, sunny, a few puffy clouds and about 80 degrees at its peak. I really had no idea what to expect for the next couple of days however, since the Jordan site didn’t really have a whole lot of information about the four suites or homes that were available for overnight visits.

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Wild Horse Dinner with Winemaker Clay Brock

August 30, 2010

WIld Horse Winery & VineyardsI’ve been a fan of the good value found in third label wines of Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards for some time now. Their baseline Wild Horse line of wines are always a good bet for high QPR every vintage, particularly the widely available Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. I had yet to ever try their two high end labels however, so when I was invited to have dinner with their Director of Winemaking and taste through their top wines at the tasty Local Kitchen in San Francisco, I jumped on BART and headed over.

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Le Wine Buff in France, Bordeaux Day 1

June 24, 2010

Air France window over the outskirts of ParisFinally. It’s quite similar to that feeling of gloriously painful anticipation that you once experienced before every birthday as a child…I was finally going to Bordeaux as part of Le Wine Buff program for Enjoy Bordeaux! I have been a ‘Buff since late last year when the pilot program first kicked off. The Bordeaux Wine Council (CIVB) sponsored the trip and we’ve been working for and with them and CreativeFeed to help educate the public on the thousands of affordable, high quality and downright tasty Bordeaux wines that are imported to the US. These wines are the majority from Bordeaux and don’t cost the same amount as the many techno gadgets I brought along with me on the trip. So there I was…in Bordeaux and yet I had never even been to Europe!

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Hello Vino & @drXeNo!

May 25, 2010

Hello Vino iPhone AppFollowing a dizzying string of new partnerships between WineLog, myself and other fine and fun wine partners, we are now part of a very cool and useful iPhone app that has been newly relaunched. Hello Vino takes the hard part out of picking a wine while on the go to whole ‘nother level. Choose a pairing based on the food on the menu in front of you, choose the food for the glass you just ordered at the wine bar or just search for a distinct wine style or producer…all taken care of very quickly. It’s also all dialed in to your favorite social networks (their on Twitter themselves) so that you can brag to educate all of your friends about your synergistic food and wine choice. If you pairing is a match made in digestive heaven, you can even buy the wine straight from your iPhone.

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JJ Buckley’s Tuesday Night Bordeaux at La Folie

December 19, 2009

I attended a most enlightening Bordeaux tasting a couple weeks back, courtesy of JJ Buckley Fine Wines, an outstanding online purveyor of wine based out of the SF Bay Area. The event was held at the well known French restaurant La Folie, which also provided the nibbles that were served alongside the wines that night. Tuesday Night Bordeaux aimed to prove to its lucky attendees that good to outstanding quality wine can be had in Bordeaux at affordable prices. All of the wines were $35 and under, with most falling into the $25 and under range.

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