Views of a local who has been in the hospitality side of the wine biz full- or part-time for about three decades. 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.
Those lucky enough to live near a wine-growing region have probably spent multiple weekends hitting up the tasting rooms. For those who haven't been too involved in this "hobby" yet here's what to expect. For the regulars you'll recognize this immediately. Because, you know, there are always regrets when alcohol is involved.
There were volunteers who got drunk in the name of science so researchers could study what happens to the body and the brain. Now the scientists know why you get drunk, why you act the way you do when tipsy, and why it feels so bad the next day. Stomach to small intestines to blood stream to liver to kidneys and what happens to the brain: Your body and brain when you're drunk
Pretty much everybody has a favorite variety as their go-to wine. Chardonnay is the number one selling wine in the country; Cabernet Sauvignon is number two, and it's been this way for a long time. Let's find out what your favorite wine says about you.
Buena Vista in Sonoma is a state historical landmark. It's the first premium winery in California. There had been grapes in the state since the early 1800s, but it was Agoston Haraszthy, the founder of Buena Vista in the mid-1800s, who commercialized and modernized California winemaking.
The winery has gone through numerous owners in the 20th and early 21st centuries and had gotten a little stale. Jean-Charles Boisset, "the flamboyant Frenchman," purchased the estate less than five years ago and has been quite busy restoring Buena Vista to its past glory -- with some French influence.
At the end of May there was an open house letting folks go through and see what's been done. It's something else!
A recent Wine Enthusiast article asked why there aren't more restaurants on-site at wineries. Many already hold special events during the day or at night (including weddings), have food and wine pairings, movie nights, music (even full-on concerts), food trucks, etc. The question becomes, when does agricultural zoning become commercial? Is it a winery selling goods produced by them or is it a multifaceted commercial and entertainment venue?
Traveling to parts of Sonoma County and especially Napa County can yield a not-so-relaxing trip as roads can be jammed along with the tasting rooms and restaurants. How do you avoid the large crowds? When you travel is important as mid-week and the off-season have much smaller crowds. But you can't always control when you go so where should you go?
We all like to learn new stuff. Maybe we don't like to learn hard things like Calculus, but we're okay with learning fun things like a new dance, the latest gossip about a celebrity, or something really enjoyable like alcohol.
Learning about wine is not the sleigh ride you thought it might be. It's more of a roller coaster--it has ups and downs, can be scary, and might even make you sick!
Here we go with the ten step program, your journey learning about wine.
Very nice article from the Wine Enthusiast breaking down the various areas of the Russian River Valley appellation. Commentary by the people who grow the fruit and make wine from here. Essentially they're saying it's made up of lots of different soils and climates so the wines aren't all the same. Making Sense of the Russian River Valley
According to the cannabis crowd wine and cheese and even beer and food pairings are passé. The next frontier is weed and wine. Oh boy, in case you're not buzzed enough you'll want to have a nice Pinot or Cabernet with your weed. So do we have different wine pairings for a joint vs. pipe vs. vaporizer vs. bong? This is getting way complicated, especially if you're already stoned. If you Google "wine and weed" you'll find lots of folks talking about this, mostly in Colorado, of course. It was much easier when the pairing was a bag of Doritos and a liter of Dr. Pepper.
It's tricky coming up with a "best" list for anything--what's the best restaurant, what's the best new car, etc? It comes down to how you define "best."
Having put in that disclaimer here are a few lists from various professional writers on the subject. None will exactly match my top ten list, but then I'm not even sure what my list would look like.
I get asked often, "Where should we go?" and I don't have a standard answer. I usually ask things like, "what are you looking for?" or even "what direction are you heading?" Most times I don't get an answer because they haven't figured out what they're looking for in a winery experience. If there was really one best then the rest of them would probably be out of business, right?
The home of weird liquor laws is attempting to join the rest of the world -- if only with a small step. Legislation has passed allowing citizens to have wine shipped directly to their home! OMG, can you imagine the potential abuse! No, neither can I. Currently you must have it shipped to a state-controlled liquor store. Why? Because the taxpayers of PA apparently can't be trusted with alcohol without the gov't looking on. It's not law yet, but the bill got through the state's House of Representatives easily.
Occasionally I hear from visitors, "What's there to do around here at night?" So what is there to do in Sonoma County after the winery tasting rooms close (usually about 5 pm)? Here are some ideas for the summer of 2015.