Posts Filed Under California wine

Napa’s Wild Weather Summer: Dispatches from the Vineyard

Vinted on September 29, 2010 binned in California wine, wine news

“Strange year!”

That’s the (apt) summary that winemaker and grower Steve Matthiasson gave me when I asked him how things were looking in Napa as they approached harvest of what has been one of the craziest growing seasons in recent memory.

There’s been much speculation in the wine press as to the impact that the bizarre Summer weather patterns would have on the quality of the fruit that will shortly be going into Napa’s wines, so I reached out to Steve for an update, because he’s probably the most passionate person I know when it comes to making great wine and growing great fruit in the Valley (since he does both, and does them both very well).  A somewhat narrow view, arguably, but I’ll take a dispatch from the field over speculation, any day.

The short version of the Napa 2010 story is that it’s not all gloom-and-doom, but it does seem to be a case of feast-or-famine and a potential study in extremes.

While some varieties in particular, and some pockets of the Valley in general, are taking a nasty hit, others have fared pretty well – and some growers may actually be onto fruit that could result in extremely high-quality wines, despite the atypical weather…

Read the rest of this stuff »




“Deep” Freeze = “Deep” Discounts? Thoughts on N. Cal’s Strange Summer Days

Vinted on August 23, 2010 binned in California wine

It’s not really a deep freeze, of course – it’s simply been a wet and (very) mild Summer in Northern California.  Just about anything with leaves that produces fruit was weeks behind schedule in terms of ripening. If you scan the ‘global interwebs’ on the topic, it might strike you that the sky is about to fall with a thud on the entire wine business in Napa and Sonoma.

But most of the Napa and Sonoma vintners to whom I’ve spoken in the last few weeks don’t seem all that worried.  Which is a good thing, since the rest of the wine world was worried enough for all of them put together.

Certainly grape growers, already under pressure from the economic downturn, are feeling the heat (so-to-speak) about the late ripening, even if most of California’s residents aren’t.

Here on the Right Coast, we were baking as if in an oven for the better part of the Summer of 2010, and I enjoyed the cool breezes that came in recently on the heels of some long-overdue rainstorms; and with them, a breath of fresh air about the whole N. CA 2010 vintage doomsday prophesies, courtesy of Ed Thralls over at

In a (fairly) recent post, Ed did a little bit of comparative analysis on the 2010 vintage thus far, and came up with an interesting conclusion…

Read the rest of this stuff »




Turn Turn Turn: A Time For A Right Banker In Napa Valley?

Vinted on August 18, 2010 binned in California wine, on the road

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven
The Byrds

Let’s play a little game of word association.  I say “Carneros” and you say… ___________.

Budding wine geeks and geekettes out there would likely answer “Pinot Noir” or “Chardonnay” or “Sparklers” or “Unimpressive-In-Recent-Vintages.”

But the answer we’re looking for today is… wait for it…

Cabernet Franc.

Yes, way.

Our story today not only involves Carneros, it also involves turns, banks, and several groan-worthy, near-pun plays-on-words.  Oh, yeah, and some very good wine as well (you didn’t think I leave that part out, did you?).

A couple of weeks back, I dragged my worn-out and slightly-hungover bones over to the fine Farmstead restaurant in St. Helena to meet up with former investment-banker turned wine brand owner (and first-class personality dynamo) Emily Richer.  Over a “light” lunch of amazingly fresh garden produce made into phenomenal but artery-clogging, buttery delights, Emily and I chatted (and chatted, and chatted – we’re both talkers) about her new wine venture, Virage Napa Valley.  Emily had come with a preview, label-less bottle of Virage’s inaugural release.

It’s from Carneros.  But it’s not a Chard, a Pinot, or a sparkler.

It’s a blend made primarily from Cabernet Franc.  And it’s pretty damn good.

Is Emily nuts for trying to establish a new brand in today’s hostile market – especially when she’s banking on a variety that still isn’t relatively well-known to most wine consumers (and even to some wine store employees)?  Her backers don’t seem to think so…

Read the rest of this stuff »




The Fine Print

This site is licensed under Creative Commons. Content may be used for non-commercial use only; no modifications allowed; attribution required in the form of a statement "originally published by 1WineDude" with a link back to the original posting.

Play nice! Code of Ethics and Privacy.

Contact: joe (at) 1winedude (dot) com