California Wineries Need Your Help.

Hi! My name’s Robin, and I am a one-woman hype joint for small wine producers in California. I know, I know–you thought I was just another wine blogger.

Which I am. But we are living in weird, volatile times. I’ve let my personal wine blog go semi-dormant while I work(ed) doing social media for an absolutely brilliant winemaker. But then came COVID and winery closures statewide, and everything is different now. I’m currently unemployed from a job I absolutely loved working for people I respect tremendously–and it may or may not come back when this pandemic finally eases up.

As I have pondered what to do with the sudden availability of a thing called “free time,” I keep coming back to just wanting to do something to help–which is probably a feeling we all have right now. Other bloggers (thinking specifically of the excellent spitbucket.net blog) have started doing things like aggregating listings for virtual tastings and other winery events to help these small producers stay visible to consumers during the shutdown. Just doing what they can to help, even if it’s in small ways.

I’ve entertained this specific idea below for a couple of months now, but the current heat wave we’re enduring has put some hustle in my bustle. We’ve had a week of 100-plus degree days, with at least as many more to go, and it’s come just as the grapes are reaching final ripeness. It’s hard to imagine a worse time for a heat wave; 2020 just won’t stop being twisted and awful. Oh, and the heat wave is bringing raging wildfires with it–so there’s also the possibility of smoke damage in adjacent vineyards. Not only are small producers losing massive amounts of income during the winery closures, now some of them may lose some or all of their 2020 harvest.

Small producers are especially endangered right now because most of them aren’t big enough to have distribution deals with restaurants and stores and have depended on foot traffic in tasting rooms to sell their wines. That’s not currently something they can do.

So what can I do? I can hype the hell out of the really, really great wines these small producers make. And so I shall.

Why, you wonder, would you want to take my word for whether a wine is good or not? Well, first off, I find wine scores utterly meaningless and would much rather just tell you about the wine and what to expect. What it might pair with. I have a broad and well-traveled palate; pre-COVID I was on the tasting panel for Wine & Spirits magazine (the panel screens the wines they receive to determine if they’re good enough to be sent on to the bylined reviewer–we taste a LOT of wines, blind–so you have to know your stuff).

And I’m not going to hype any wine I haven’t personally tried. I’ll be going through my notes and phone pics from the last few years and passing on recommendations that describe the wine in understandable terms and probably offer a few pairing suggestions. If I’ve tried it and liked it, I’ll tell you all about it. I’ll let you know if any producer I’m hyping has any current discounts or specials, and link you to their website.

All I want you to do is consider purchasing some of these wines (I literally get nothing out of this except the satisfaction of knowing I shared some good wine recommendations and hopefully helped out a wine producer or three who I think make pretty special juice). A lot of us (myself included) may not have much of a wine budget right now, but those of you who do–please consider buying some of these wines instead of a mass-produced mega wine. Those producers will survive this. The little guys may not.

So keep an eye out here (and on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram), and I’ll steer you to some delicious wines. Just promise me you’ll click over and purchase some from time to time. Help them stay in business (and hopefully help my old job be there when this is all over).