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Time to Chill

On a brief vacation in the mountains of Arizona, I took the opportunity to taste a flight of three Arizona wines from the Verde Valley in and around Sedona. The restaurant presented a rose, a chardonnay and a red the server described as a grenache blend.

The first taste confirmed my suspicion that this could be an up-and-coming area for wine,...Read more

The Coming Wine Crunch

A headline in the San Francisco Chronicle wine section caught my eye this week: "California wineries, fearing recession, cut grape output. Farmers are worried."

Setting aside the reality that farmers are always worried, my takeaway from the article by Chronicle wine editor Esther Mobley is the fact that there is a looming wine glut. Huge ...Read more

Wisdom of the Somms

When the Sommelier Challenge was conceived in San Diego more than a dozen years ago, the profession was undergoing a renaissance. The image of a snobby sommelier full of condescension (never really an accurate portrayal) was melting away as a generation of young, eager wine professionals embraced the quest for advanced and master sommelier ...Read more

20-Year Aged Sherry Impresses Somms

Sherry, a fortified wine from Spain, is produced in styles ranging from dry to remarkably sweet. Master sommelier Robert Smith sat on the panel that evaluated the sherries entered at the 12th annual Sommelier Challenge International Wine & Spirits Competition Sept. 21-22 in San Diego, awarding a platinum medal to the stunning 20-year-old Don ...Read more

The Amazing V. Sattui

It would be difficult, perhaps even impossible, to overstate the brilliance of the Napa Valley's V. Sattui Winery. Situated along Highway 29 in Saint Helena, in the heart of the Napa Valley, the V. Sattui picnic grounds have been a magnet for wine enthusiasts over the past few decades. The idyllic setting aside, the wines of V. Sattui are, and...Read more

Harvest Destinations

Throughout these United States, wherever wine is made (and that's just about every state), harvest is underway. There is no better time to visit wine country. Harvest is a feast for the senses, with the smell of fermenting grapes in the air, warm days and cool nights, and the up-close-and-personal view of the new vintage.

Whether you are in ...Read more

Tailgate Tips

The kickoff of football season always reminds me of burned brats, warm white wine and that sinking feeling when you learn no one remembered to bring a corkscrew. Tailgate parties don't have to be a disappointing launch into an otherwise glorious autumn afternoon, though they often are.

Over the years, I've learned a few lessons that I will ...Read more

A Stealth Juggernaut

Unless you're a wine industry insider, chances are you've never heard of the Vintage Wine Estates.

Whether by clever design or simply an accident, Sonoma-based Vintage Wine Estates (VWE) is a high-fly act that manages to cruise under the radar, a stealth juggernaut that now controls 30-plus wineries and/or wine brands plus two separate ...Read more

Wine Competition Daze

If you enjoy wine and occasionally read the shelf talkers in the wine department where you shop, you are no doubt aware that we are awash in wine competitions throughout these United States.

Wine competitions are nothing more than organized blind wine tastings, "blind" being the operative word. Each wine's identity is concealed from the ...Read more

International Canned Wine Competition

The best line from the first International Canned Wine Competition (ICWC) was uttered by Handley Cellars winemaker Randy Schock, who was among the judges evaluating the more than 200 entries at the July 24 Mendocino County Fairgrounds in California. Schock said tasting the canned wines made him "think about how to approach winemaking outside ...Read more


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