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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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7

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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Breaking News! Steve Heimoff And I To Swap Gigs!

Vinted on April 1, 2012 binned in wine news

In this special weekend edition of 1WineDude.com, I have some epically gargantuanly stunningly-hyphenated-made-up-adverbially BIG news to share with you all.

Steve Heimoff, of Wine Enthusiast Magazine (not sure if it’s the English or Mandarin version… but sh*t, I’d better find that out REAL soon) are SWAPPING GIGS.

Yes, ou’re reading that correctly. Steve Heimoff will now be writing the Wined Down With Joe Roberts column on Playboy.com, and I will be taking over Steve’s California wine beat for Wine Enthusiast.

As part of the move, Steve and I will also be swapping blogs, and so you will find Steve writing about writing about writing about wine here, and over at Steve’s website I will be penning my normal shot-from-the-hip missives about the wine world that actually sound like they were, indeed, shot by something and then left to rot.

I wanted you al to be the first to know. Only you’re not really the first to know… there were, like seventeen lawyers who knew before you did, and then there’s the editorial staff at WE and Playboy.com, and around eight or so of Steve’s neighbors in Oakland, who all knew before you did. But you’re, like, the thirty-fifth person to know and that’s meaningful to Steve and I, because I was 35 years maybe when Steve and I first met. Look, just go with it, okay?

I realize that this will come as a great shock to many of you, so it’s important that you understand the rationale behind this joint decision by Steve and me:

  • Talent: Steve and I are writers who can distinguish between when it is and is not grammatically correct to use the phrase “Steve and me.”
  • Work-Life Balance: We figured it would take a while before either WE or Playboy.com noticed, since we both like to work remotely.
  • Because We Can: We’re both, like, super-important in the wine blog world and this is, in fact, a childish attempt by both of us to lord our power over the minions.
  • Intangibles: We’re about the same height.
  • For The Good of the Land: Steve is less dangerous for the Playboy Playmates, and I’m less dangerous for Wine Enthusiast.

See you over at SteveHeimoff.com, people!

Cheers – and check your calendars!

p.s. – Mad, mad love, respect & appreciation to Steve, who had no idea I was doing this but I strongly suspect will take it with good humor (what’s Mandarin for “humor”?).

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