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The Most-Viewed Photo Of All Time? It’s From Wine Country…

Vinted on July 24, 2012 binned in best of, wine books, wine news

If you’ve ever used a Microsoft Windows computer PC (which I’m guessing is a group that includes 99.999% of the people reading this, even the Mactards), chances are very good that you’ve seen this image.

It’s called Bliss and was taken by Napa “are we sick of hearing about this place yet” Valley resident and former National Geographic photographer Charles O’Rear, while he was taking a break during a drive through Napa Sonoma (corrected here as well as below, thanks to James Marshall Berry for pointing out the misinformation!) while on an assignment. O’Rear sold the image to Microsoft over ten years ago, and it has been one of the default background images for Microsoft Windows ever since (specifically, for Windows XP… yes, Mac-lovers, it was visible right before XP crashed into the Blue Screen Of Death… I admit that I’m just jealous of your computer’s stability and chic cool aesthetics, okay?).

Due to its default background-image status, according to the blog Morts Photography this photo is very likely now the single most viewed image of all time, having been seen by well over a billion people worldwide…

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Bohemian Severity? (Ross Cobb And Claypool Cellars Team Up To Make Serious Sonoma Pinot)

Vinted on May 1, 2012 binned in California wine, wine news

At this point, I think we can agree that Sonoma winemaker Ross Cobb now owes me some money.

Certainly I’ve reviewed and featured a few of his wines here, with quite favorable results – though that’s not, of course, why I think he should be paying me (really, we’ve had enough of that alleged behavior lately, haven’t we?).

No, I think he owes me money because I might have helped seal the deal on his latest gig. Finder’s fee? C’mon, a little slice off the top of that is kind of standard business practice, right?!??

[ Editor's note: I do not actually think that this guy owes me money. ]

In all seriousness, I’ve been covering the recent trajectory of both Ross’ wines and those of his latest consulting client, Sonoma’s Claypool Cellars – so I’m happy to report that the two are now working together.

During my recent jaunt to Sonoma, I spent a few hours with Chaney Smith Claypool, wife of rocker Les Claypool and the driving force behind their up-and-coming wine venture. The Claypool Cellars wines are quite solid, and very good (in the case of their 2009 Hurst Vineyard “Purple Pachyderm” Pinot, very, very good), and what’s in barrel for their Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is already tasty and sporting a ton of exciting spicy, bright-fruited potential.

Despite the laid-back, bohemian carnival atmosphere of their brand, they make serious juice – and Chaney is serious about taking Claypool Cellars to the next level. One thing she told me stuck with me several days later: “I want a legacy that we can give to the kids… if they’ll take it!” This is coming from someone who’s tasting room is a caboose train car, by the way…

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Are EU Imports Poised To Kick U.S. Wine Biz Butt In The Near Future?

Vinted on April 24, 2012 binned in wine news

Last week, Silicon Valley Bank and Vintank teamed up to present a rather well-researched and thorough look at what the wine industry has in store for itself in the near future.

Predictions are, of course, only for the exceedingly brave (or exceedingly foolish – or both), since they’re ripe for the 20/20 vision sniper cross hairs of retrospective perspective later. But I tend to admire the cojones it takes to put your thoughts out on a public limb, opening it up for those who would use them as a perch for even greater ideas, not to mention as fodder at which any thick-skulled woodpeckers can take pot shots. An example: the bold predictions that Vintank made about the wine biz for 2011, many of which didn’t materialize in 2011 but are starting to show signs of instantiating themselves in early 2012 – in fact, the SVB report bolsters several of those bold Vintank 2011 predictions (the growth of direct wine sales, for example, in what they term “the 5th Column), for those who have more pachyderm-like memories (and are keeping score). Vintank: 1; Woodpeckers: 0?

You can download the report, its summary slides, and an even higher-level infographic summary at SVBs website.

While the results (understandably, given the source) have a serious CA-focus, there are tidbits therein that the worldwide wine industry can take away from it.

For example, U.S. wine producers may be set for shorter supply, increased prices, and a big challenge from EU country wine imports.

Not exactly good news for the U.S. wine biz…

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Dude, Where’s My “Wine?” (Marijuana And Wine Remain Popular Pairing For California Winemakers)

Vinted on April 18, 2012 binned in best of, California wine, wine news

I recently had a conversation with a celebrity involved in the California wine biz that went something like this:

CA Wine Celebrity: “Hey – have you ever had cannabis-infused wine?”

Me: “Cannabis-infused?”

CWC: “Yeah. Totally. Pot wine?”

Me: “No – but I wouldn’t be surprised if every other winemaker in California was drinking it; and probably making it.”

CWC: “I just tried some. It was weird. It smelled exactly like…” – at this point he extended a long, lanky, outstretched arm ending in pinched fingers directly under my nose – “…like someone stuck a bud in there; it smells just like a big ol’ bud right up in your nose!”

Turns out, he wasn’t very far off. It is with very, very little surprise that I give you the findings of Michael Steinberger’s recent article for The Daily Beast, titled Marijuana-Laced Wine Grows More Fashionable in California Wine Country: apparently, a lot of winemakers in California wine country make the stuff (by dropping about one lb. of dope into fermenting grape juice, Cabernet apparently being the variety of choice, and nearby Humboldt County being the marijuana source of choice), because a lot of CA winemakers dig pot.

Whoa – now there’s a news flash [ Editor’s note: sarcasm intended ].

We are talking about California here, people…

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