Posts Filed Under California wine

Mama Don’t Take No Mess (Livermore Valley, Reconsidered at Palate Press)

Vinted on November 3, 2015 binned in California wine, going pro, on the road
Palate Press - Livermore

image: Palate Press

Steve Mirassou

Steve Mirassou, pretending to take a photo (or, sharing his opinions on the state of Livermore Valley juice)

One of my media tours this year had me returning to California’s perennially underrated Livermore Valley, where I’d not been for a few years, and reconnecting with the likes of local vintners Karl Wente and Steve Mirassou, neither of whom I’d seen (or, more importantly, tasted with) lately.

The tour was very well executed, with comprehensive tastings dedicated mostly to varietal wines from Cabernet, Petite Sirah, and Chardonnay. Generally, I remain impressed with the combination of gumption, quality, history, and irony coming out of the region.

It’s the latter two aspects that really got my pseudo-journalistic juices flowing, and they’re the focus of a feature I penned about the trip (titled The Mother Vine: Livermore Reconsidered) that’s now available over at Palate Press. Both words and pics are by me, so you can come back here and flame me if you hate either. Lots of vino was tasted that didn’t make it into the final article, much of which I’ll be trickling out in the form of mini-reviews in the coming weeks.

So… this is the part where you go on over there and read it.

Livermore Chardonnay tasting

Unless you don’t like irony, history (and this one is about as deep into the history of California winemaking as one can get, as the area is home to the mother vine clones of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon that now dominate the state’s plantings), or exciting developments in U.S. wine… in which case, I’m not sure that I can help you… hell, I’m not sure that anyone can help you… have you sought out the assistance of a professional for that condition? Because, seriously, I am starting to worry about you. Just sayin’…





Can Terroir Be Bootstrapped? (Dude’s Take On Ventura County For Palate Press)

Vinted on March 11, 2014 binned in California wine, on the road

Stay out of Malibu, deadbeat!!!”

As a stunning display just how behind I am on everything, my take on the upstart, bootstrapping wineries of Southern California’s Ventura County was recently published over at

Yeah, that’s the one I talked about back in January when we featured the recent releases of Ventura’s Four Brix Winery (and that was written about six months after my visit). Whatever, look, I’m kind of busy lately, alright?

Thus endeth the triumvirate of articles I’d planned resulting from that S. Cal. jaunt, the remaining third being an overview of the wineries in the Ventura County wine trail for Mini-reviews might peek out here and there, though, to further highlight a few of my faves from the trip. Otherwise, it’s on to all of the other shizz on which I’m similarly several months behind.

The piece continues a theme of sorts on which I’ve focused in my features over there: talking about off-the-beaten-wine-path vino areas about which almost no else is talking, and certainly mainstream media has been touching with a ten foot punch down pole, such as Ventura, Colorado, and Pennsylvania (incidentally, I’ll likely be sticking to that theme for future PP pieces, since whenever I veer from that and talk about ultra-expensive wines, or whether or not critical acclaim matters for wines that are so popular that they’ve created enduring brands, I create a veritable sh*t storm and get into all kinds of trouble… see, and you thought that only happened here on 1WD!).

But it (the article, I mean, which technically is still the subject, despite the ludicrously long sentence above) also explores the idea of whether or not Northern California’s vineyards exhibit terroir, and if so whether or not that individuality and vinous fingerprinting can be interpreted and displayed by bootstrapping upstarts buying the region’s grapes, just as the better producers on the Ventura County trail are attempting right now. I’m not yet convinced that they’ve fully achieved it, but the experiment is still in progress, and of course gives us geeky fodder about which to conjecture (is that a verb?… if not, it should be)…




Whistle-stop Sonoma Wine And Food Tour, British Style (The Guardian’s America Uncovered)

Vinted on May 28, 2013 binned in California wine, going pro

This past weekend, The Guardian (the one “over the pond” in the UK) published my recommendations of wine and food places to hit when driving from Seattle to northern California, as part of their America Uncovered series.

Like 99.9% of all of my other paying gigs, this one found me [ editor’s note: this is not how I’d recommend that you go about any type of freelancing career yourself, by the way; not going out and hustling for work is insanely stupid, and I’m beyond all reasonable standards of lucky that this stuff keeps coming my way ].

Like any publisher with an editing staff, they decided to cut 80% of the piece’s original ideas and mentions and focus instead on a handful of my suggestions, which will explain why [insert your favorite wine and/or food stop in Northern California here] wasn’t included.

What did make the cut are things that I don’t think many of you would have guessed (let’s just say I’d eat my left sneaker if anyone could have figured out the focus of this one prior to its publication). It turned into a Sonoma valentine of sorts: Chalk Hill, Claypool Cellars, and The Girl and The Fig (okay, that last one some of you would have gotten ahead of time). Once again, I’m figuring that Ross Cobb owes me some money (or at the very least, some more Pinot and Chardonnay samples)…

Read the rest of this stuff »




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