Views of a local who has been in the hospitality side of the wine biz full- or part-time for over 20 years. Maybe more importantly, an avid consumer of the local wines for over 30 years. Mostly general comments on the California wine business because that's what I know.
Sometimes there's nothing like a good Sonoma Whine! If you don't take my comments too seriously then neither will I. After all, it's only wine.
You could be drinking Petite Sirah and not know it. Petite Sirah is a cross between Syrah and an obscure Rhone grape, Peloursin. It's inky in color, full-bodied, it can be a little spicy, and tannic (mouth-drying). Sometimes you might say it tastes like bright blueberries. The "bright" comes from the high acid; "blueberries" is a typical fruit flavor.
On its own as a varietal it's still not very popular probably because of the drying tannins although some wineries are doing pretty good tannin management now.
So how is it that you're drinking so much Petite Sirah?
Napa Valley is just over the hill from Sonoma County. I've been there lots of times and have even worked over there -- without needing a work visa! :) Here are a few helpful hints for your visit this summer.
The first weekend of July 2016 is a three-day holiday for most (except those in retail and hospitality like wineries and hotels). What's happening in Sonoma County for this long weekend? Well, there will be lots of fireworks and a few other things.
Maybe you haven't heard of Constellation Brands, but they would have been a great stock pick when the economy started its recovery several years ago. That is, if you're okay with buying something for about $22 five years ago and have it be worth over $150 now.
Just because they are doing well doesn't mean they are sitting still.
Syrah would be another candidate for America's most understood grape. Lots of people seem to know Syrah and Shiraz are related, but that's about it. Syrah doesn't sell particularly well in this country. So part of the problem is consumer's lack of familiarity with the grape, but some of the blame can go to wine makers.
Sonoma and nearby Napa Counties get lots of visitors. Napa Valley is a world-famous tourist destination, but Sonoma gets its fair share of guests. It's nothing like Hawaii where there are eight million visitors a year in a state with a population of less than one-and-a-half million!
So what is it like to live in an area often full of visitors enjoying themselves?
The wine grapes are now through flowering and fruit set and everything looks about normal so far for 2016. Canopy management is next. This means all the vigorous growth must be controlled for optimum ripening later by tying and trimming shoots plus pulling off leaves to give clusters access to the right amount of sunlight. Yes, it's a pretty intense kind of farming.
Following are photos from the vineyards of two wineries in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. These two locations are four miles apart.
Sonoma County and the rest of wine country is known for wine touring. You can drive yourself around or hire a car or bus. There are various wine trails. There's a Sonoma Valley Wine Trail that offers a trail pass (one price to visit all member tasting rooms). What do other states offer in comparison?
You order a bottle from the restaurant's wine list then come the glasses, the wine server, and all the rituals that might go around it (cork pulling, sniffing, sampling). But what about the glassware? Does size matter? Yes. According to a study big glasses lead to more drinking (wouldn't it be great to get paid for studying stuff like this). That is, you are more likely to order that second bottle. Big glasses lead you to think you're drinking less as a regular five ounce pour can look pretty small in a 12 ounce glass. Article
Treasury is based in Australia, but has a big presence in the U.S. A year ago it appeared they might sell off their American operations. Instead they surprised many people by purchasing the wine holdings of Diageo, another big drinks corporation.