General Wine Stuff

  • General Wine Stuff

    I’m back! (So let’s shake things up a little)

    The last few years have been interesting (in that “may you live in interesting times” kind of way); my own personal arc goes something like this: backburner the blog to focus on dream job, dream job goes tits-up thanks to COVID, and then? Then there were hackers. All of my websites were offline for about a year, which was awful and terrible and every other bad thing you can imagine. But things are back up and running, and I even managed a redesign I’m pretty happy with. So now you know why I vanished for a while–and even though my sites went POOF temporarily, I did not (you may have…

  • General Wine Stuff

    Harvest interlude: 2020 bringing challenges, but fruit is looking good.

    2020 continues to find ways to challenge all of us, and life out in the vineyard has been no exception. The summer was moving along rather uneventfully in the vineyard, and then August arrived and brought with it an extended heatwave the likes of which haven’t been recorded for 70 years. Grapevines are pretty resilient, but this kind of unrelenting heat can make the usual late-season ripening go a little haywire. That’s been compounded by massive wildfires spurred by a lightning storm about a week ago that are now threatening vineyards in Sonoma, Napa, and Monterey County with the possibility of smoke taint. Here in Lodi, the smoke hasn’t caused…

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  • General Wine Stuff

    Little winery, BIG Rhônes

    One of my favorite Paso Robles wineries is up in today’s hype joint: McPrice Myers, a little westside jewel that’s producing some truly outstanding Rhône varieties. He (McPrice Myers is the winemaker/owner’s name) uses fruit from Paso Robles/Central Coast and Santa Barbara County, and my favorites are probably the intensely flavorful single-vineyard wines from Ballard Canyon’s vaunted Larner Vineyard in Santa Barbara County. These wines are delicious now, and have incredible potential for aging (if you can find the willpower to set a few bottles back for cellaring). They bring in rave reviews and sell out quickly, so keep an eye on their offerings if there’s something specific you want–most…

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    Let’s unhibernate this thing.

    So, in my last post I excitedly proclaimed “I’m back!” HAHAHA. Then the universe said “Hold my beer.” HAHAHAHAHA I’ll spare you all the details, but short version: 2019 was chaos defined, but also the year I had some interesting opportunities come my way. I left Los Angeles after 20 years (and will continue to love that hot mess of a city from afar) and moved to Lodi, the wildly underrated and completely exciting wine region in northern California. Stuff is happening here, people. I now do social media and digital marketing for one of my favorite wineries, and finally have time to pursue both my wine writing (and general…

  • General Wine Stuff

    So it’s BEEN A WHILE.

    Health weirdness, day jobs, and how a thing called #winestudio kept me sane & in the game Hey there, readers. If you follow me on social media you know I’m alive and well, but blog subscribers may be wondering where on earth I went for the better part of a year. Well, let me tell you (or rather, let me overshare). Not only was my day job a bit more demanding last year thanks to a couple of time-consuming copyright cases (I work at an entertainment law firm), but I got my first sober reminder that we’re all mortal and sometimes things go sideways. Needless to say, my extracurricular pursuits…

  • General Wine Stuff

    Robert Haas, Founder of Tablas Creek Winery, 1927-2018

    I never met Robert Haas. I had very much hoped I would, at some point, as I continue work on my ongoing Year in the Life of Wine documentary project, which is set at his Tablas Creek vineyard in west Paso Robles. He died this past weekend at the age of 90. There have already been several beautiful remembrances of his exceptional life (the best of which, appropriately, is from his son and Tablas Creek General Manager Jason Haas—I highly recommend taking the time to read Jason’s piece about his father’s life, which ranged much more widely than just this storied Paso Robles winery). But though I never had the…

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    Hidden in plain site: the treasure that is Lodi’s (endangered) ancient vines.

    As Lodi gradually builds awareness of its place in California wine culture, and therefore as a wine travel destination, it is simultaneously losing, bit by bit, one of the most important resources that make it a wine country treasure: its ancient-vine vineyards, many well over 100 years old. Kevin Phillips, Vice President of Operations at Michael David Winery, a large family-owned winery in Lodi, estimates that Lodi lost approximately ten percent of its old-vine plantings this year alone. Let that sink in. If you drove through the backroads of Lodi in the weeks following this year’s harvest, you would have seen vineyards at every turn piled up with torn-out, gnarly…

  • General Wine Stuff

    You say garrigue, I say chaparral: why California wines deserve a native descriptor.

    Old habits die hard, and there is safety in the familiar.  In the wine world’s accepted collection of wine descriptors, garrigue and garrigue herbs are often used to describe a particular herbacious quality in certain wines, particularly from the south of France–but what is garrigue?  And are we really using the term correctly in describing California wines?  Are we again standing in the shadow of French wine terminology, missing an opportunity to assert our own New World attributes? Scientifically speaking, garrigue describes a Mediterranean scrub ecosystem in areas with calcareous (or limestone) soils, particularly in France’s Rhone and Bordeaux regions.  Think wild thyme, lavender, juniper, rosemary.  Now, that term works…

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    RE:FIND Distillery is up to even MORE fun and delicious things

    RE:FIND Distillery is still the best little distillery on the Central Coast. I am somewhat biased about this, but trust me.  You need to try these spirits. I stopped in for a visit last week to see what they’ve been up to since I featured them last year–because the Villicanas (owners Alex and Monica), with their mutual boundless energy, are always up to something fun and interesting. Was I disappointed?  HAHAHAHAHA no.  Don’t be ridiculous.  They’re still making the same top-quality artisanal spirits (and they do MAKE these spirits from scratch, which is a distinction most craft spirit producers cannot claim).  But, ever focused on education as much as the…

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    Quick update: Rangeland’s new tasting room is open!

    You may recall my profile of Rangeland wines in Paso Robles last summer–beautifully crafted estate wines in a gorgeous west Paso setting. The only catch was that you had to make an appointment to taste their wines–maybe you’re shy about that, or maybe it’s just a difficult thing to schedule on a weekend of wine tasting–but that is not the case anymore. Their new tasting room opened a couple of weeks ago in Templeton (in the greater Paso Robles area), and you can now walk in any time Thursday through Saturday and belly up to the tasting bar. They’re sharing space with Nature’s Touch, a locally owned natural grocer, at…

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